The House met at 1330.
The Speaker: I would ask all members to join me in welcoming our next group of pages who are serving in this, the fall session of the 34th Parliament. They are: Marcus Arndt, High Park-Swansea; Amber Baguley, York East; Timothy Bailey, Scarborough East; Jonathan Ball, Simcoe East; Jenni Clarke, Windsor-Riverside; Tristan Cooke, Mississauga North; Michele Diebold, Lanark-Renfrew; Monica Dorion, Nickel Belt; Bruce Fraser, Kenora; Aaron Good, Ottawa Centre; Michael Hall, Burlington South; Adrienne Law, Beaches-Woodbine; Sarah Law, Scarborough-Ellesmere; Stefanie Mclver, Lambton; Kristina Navarro, Windsor-Sandwich; Michael O’Meara, Halton North; Joshua Pascoe, Waterloo North; Mark Powell, Simcoe Centre; Grant Pritchard, Carleton; Joanna Sanders, Port Arthur; Wayne Shapley, Brant-Haldimand; Jonathan Schlegel, Perth; Sara Tomlinson, Renfrew North, and Gemma Zelmanovits, York North.
Mr Kormos: I am using this opportunity to report a missing report. I will back up just a little bit. Some time ago -- in fact, for a good chunk of time -- people down in regional Niagara were concerned about what they perceived as perhaps excesses and inefficiencies on the part of regional government in Niagara, and perhaps excesses and inefficiencies that are shared by other regional governments across Ontario. What people did -- people like Lillian Clark, members of communities across the region -- was they organized and started to do some investigation on their own and they started to point out some concerns.
As a result of this impressive effort on the part of grass-roots people, the government ordered the Kitchen inquiry. Professor Harry Kitchen was hired to conduct what appears to have been an intensive inquiry. Indeed, he submitted his report in a timely way. The problem is that -- we are talking about almost $500,000 later -- this report, Professor Kitchen’s report, is nowhere to be found. Professor Kitchen himself was surprised when merely by being in the ministry’s office he saw that it had been published and printed. Indeed, there are 2,000 copies printed in English and French. It is a 616-page report.
I am loath to think that the government is embarrassed about what that report says about regional government. I prefer to think it is merely lost. If they have lost it, why do they not tell us? We will help them look.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr Cousens: Today the mayor of North York, Mel Lastman, unveiled a proposal to include the private sector in construction of the Sheppard subway line. As outlined by Mayor Lastman, the development community would underwrite much of the $2-billion pricetag in exchange for higher-density limits on their buildings.
I applaud the mayor’s initiative and welcome private sector contribution. I do question, however, the provincial government’s reluctance to become involved in this project or in any major transportation initiative for that matter. More than at any other time in our history, this government has had an opportunity to address the transportation problems of Metropolitan Toronto and the greater Toronto area.
During the past four years, this province has witnessed record economic growth. Ironically, this government fails repeatedly to improve upon a transportation system that will sustain such growth. Transportation is the lifeblood of a healthy community. As the arteries in the body feed the heart of the body, so too do our transportation arteries feed the heart of the greater Toronto area.
Tragically, Metro and the greater Toronto area are suffering from arterial sclerosis. Tragically, this government is passing such a major responsibility to the private sector and the municipalities. It is time for this government to stand up and assume some responsibility for the future of transportation in the greater Toronto area, and that includes the Sheppard subway. It is time they stopped sitting around doing nothing and did something.
PETERBOROUGH PAPER CONVERTERS
Mr Adams: To many people, the new 38-cent stamp is just a way to mail a letter, but to the people of Peterborough Paper Converters it is much more than this.
The new postage stamp commemorating two Canadian infantry regiments is being printed on special paper made in Peterborough. Every Canadian who licks those stamps will be tasting a bit of Peterborough.
The president of Peterborough Paper Converters, Bob Jameson, says: “It took a big effort from all 150 plant employees for us to win this very special order. It is great for the company and it is recognition for Peterborough.”
Peterborough Paper Converters is not just a plant located in Peterborough; it is a plant that was conceived and developed in our community. It is at present developing a brand-new facility in the city’s fine Gateway Industrial Park. It is building for the future.
The economy of this province ultimately depends on the energy and drive of homegrown industries like Peterborough Paper Converters. I say to my colleagues, keep licking those stamps and join me in congratulating everyone at Peterborough Paper Converters for their fine achievements.
Mrs Grier: Last month, PACT, Pickering-Ajax Citizens Together, and POWER, Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources, issued a proclamation to the Premier (Mr Peterson) from concerned citizens of Ontario. It reads as follows:
“1. The GTA is unnecessary. It is undemocratic and unaccountable. Inserting another tier of government into waste management, where four levels of government now share authority, would only compound our problems. Keep the regional governments responsible.
“2. Landfill sites and waste management planning are a public responsibility and must be carried out by people directly accountable to the public. The enormous revenue from waste handling, now attracting private proponents, must remain public revenue.
“3. There must be a full environmental assessment of all waste management sites. Under the pretext of a garbage crisis, which is being allowed to build, the provincial government has promised a ‘fast-track’ assessment of short-term sites recommended by the GTA.
“4. Cut the problem down to size. Enforce the 4Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and recover. Legislation to reduce packaging and require recycling must be passed immediately. Government effort must be put into creating province-wide and nation-wide markets for recycled materials. Landfilling and incineration are a poor use of our precious natural resources.”
I agree with the proclamation.
Mr Harris: Twelve days ago, I informed this House about this government’s failure to fund a new interchange at the intersection of Highway 11 and the Trans-Canada Highway south of North Bay. I told the House there were six accidents at this corner on one day alone. I suggested that if this administration were really serious about safety and rising insurance rates, projects such as this should get priority.
I regret to inform the House about yet another accident at this intersection this morning. Two vehicles were involved, damage was major, two people were seriously injured and one person died.
How many more accidents have to happen before this government acts? How can this government justify giving away $143 million to huge insurance companies as part of its no-fault plan, when it refuses to provide even a fraction of that amount to improve highway safety?
Finally, how can a traffic count that is at least 60 per cent higher than that of other comparable and similar intersections, with projects currently under way, be so tragically ignored?
In 1987 we had 200,000 traffic accidents in Ontario. With safer highways and better inter-changes, we can save lives and prevent the kind of accidents that happened this morning. Once again, today, I call on the government to act on the interchange at Highway 11 and Highway 17 and others like it across this province.
Mr Dietsch: I would like to inform this House of a very special individual who was recently honoured in Niagara-on-the-Lake. On Friday 10 November, Ward Simpson was named Citizen of the Year at a dinner held by the chamber of commerce.
Mr Simpson is a pharmacist and a community activist. He has a long and impressive list of volunteer work to his credit. This includes heading the United Way fund-raising drive, a decade of chauffeuring Santa in the annual Santa Claus parade, playing Santa at the town’s hospital and the nursing homes and coaching minor baseball and hockey. He also helps raise funds for cancer, diabetes and heart and lung research and helps organize the famous Virgil Stampede.
A resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake for 12 years, he runs his own pharmacy on Highway 55. The 45-year-old resident was born and raised in Welland, as the youngest of nine children, and he and his wife, Oresta, have two children of their own, Lisa and Shawn.
Despite the fact that the dinner was meant to recognize his numerous contributions to the community, Ward dedicated the honour to John Gwynne, a close friend who passed away earlier this year.
As I am sure all members of this House realize, it is individuals such as these whose work has, in one way or another, unselfishly reached out and touched many lives in their communities that is what makes our communities great.
Please join me in congratulating Ward Simpson, Citizen of the Year of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
COLLÈGES DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE
M. R. F. Johnston : J’ai reçu les détails d’une étude sur les besoins de viabilité des collèges de langue française dans le nord de l’Ontario de la Société Radio-Canada, ce qui est déplorable. C’est un rapport que l’on attendait depuis le mois de septembre, qui a été fait pendant l’été par la compagnie Accord et qui avait été promis par l’ancien ministre pour le mois de septembre.
Aujourd’hui, j’ai entendu à la radio les résultats de cette étude, une étude qui dit : «Oui, nous avons un grand besoin d’un collège francophone dans le Nord.» J’espère que, après toutes les consultations qui ont été faites, et maintenant, après la publication de ce rapport par la Société Radio-Canada, le gouvernement annoncera bientôt son intention sur l’avenir d’un collège de langue française pour le nord de l’Ontario.
Mr McLean: My statement is for the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The minister no doubt recalls that the 25 April throne speech contained a reference to the creation of Cleantario, the Lottario fund to help finance the protection of the environment.
About seven months have passed and we do not know what type of numbers game Cleantario will be or when and where Cleantario tickets will go on sale. We have not heard a single word about Cleantario since the 25 April throne speech.
Instead, we hear about a new gimmick to coax an extra dollar from Lotto 6/49 players. Lotto 6/49 tickets now carry six more numbers at the bottom of each ticket that are chosen at random by the computer.
The minister appears to be more concerned about promoting a new enticement to get that last buck out of lottery ticket buyers than he is about getting a lottery off the ground that is supposed to help finance environmental protection.
The government continues along the path of creating new forms of regressive taxation aimed at hurting the poor and the compulsive rather than showing leadership and creativity in protecting Ontario’s fragile environment.
I think the people of Ontario can see quite clearly that with this government in power the odds are stacked heavily against the environment in Ontario just the same as what the college students have gone through in the last three weeks.
Mr Tatham: Is there any connection between problems such as teen pregnancy, drugs, suicide among children and teenagers, and changes in family structure and child rearing?
At a recent conference on the social and economic costs of family dissolution, sponsored by the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois, Dr Armand Nicholi, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, observed, “It is very clearly documented that what happens when a family breaks up has a severe detrimental effect on children.”
Noting that the divorce rate has risen more than 700 per cent in this century, with most of the increase occurring in the 1970s, Dr Nicholi adds that apparently as a society we refuse to accept data that demands a radical change in our lifestyle. He calls for a revolutionary concept of the family. In the workplace, this would involve making the family the highest priority in institutions ranging from the federal government to the corner store.
Many of us accepted the negative data about junk food and also the need for exercise. Have we paid enough attention to the troubling research about children and families? Certainly we all want fit bodies and healthy lifestyles. That is right. But let us make the 1990s truly the decade of the child.
Hon Mr Ward: The parties have agreed to statements on Victor Davis and the events in East Germany.
The Speaker: I gather there is unanimous consent.
Hon Mr Black: As Minister of Tourism and Recreation, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the government of Ontario, to express my sadness and regret over the tragic death of Victor Davis.
Victor Davis, born in Guelph, Ontario, was one of Canada’s most prominent international swimming stars and the greatest breast-stroke swimmer this country has ever produced.
In 1972, as a member of the Region of Waterloo Swim Club, Victor became a member of the national swim team and, at 17, he was the youngest swimmer in our history to do so.
Throughout his brilliant career, Victor enjoyed many successes. He set two world records, was a two-time world champion, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and a two-time Olympian, capturing one gold and three silver medals between the 1984 and 1988 games.
Few of us who witnessed the Seoul Olympics will ever forget the never-say-die attitude that Victor displayed in Seoul, or the grimace of raw determination and desire on his face as he coached his teammates to a silver medal finish in the relay.
Victor and his long-time friend, Alex Baumann of Sudbury, were the centrepieces of Canada’s swimming excellence during the 1980s.
In the final moments of his life, Victor’s parents made the unselfish decision to donate his organs for transplant. In the words of his long-time coach, Clifford Barry, “They had better find a big man to take Victor’s heart, as he was a big-hearted soul, both physically and mentally.”
Victor Davis will always be remembered for his fierce determination and competitive spirit both in the pool and in his life. He served as a role model for young athletes from all sports, delivering a message that excellence in sports can be achieved through nothing more than hard work, good coaching, family support, and most of all, a desire that never quits.
On behalf of the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the government of Ontario, I would like to offer my respect and condolences to the friends and family of this truly remarkable Canadian, who gave so much of himself for his country, and asked for nothing more than the opportunity to compete and to excel.
Mr Hampton: It is a with a great sense of loss that Canadians pay their respects to Victor Davis, the world-record-holding swimmer whose achievements have brought international recognition to us all.
As was stated, he was born in Guelph and he trained with the region of Waterloo swim team for several years where he became both a local hero and a role model for hundreds of young people. He was a member of Canada’s national swim team for nine years and his career climaxed at the 1984 Olympics with a record-setting win in the 200-metre breaststroke and a silver medal in the 100-metre event.
As the symbolic red maple leaf worn over his heart suggested, Davis was a proud Canadian and he earned global prestige for Canada’s swimming program. His success was recognized nationally in 1984 when Davis was awarded the Order of Canada -- no small achievement.
Having retired from competition last July, Davis used his expertise to create and to manage a comprehensive safety program for backyard pools. Since he began swimming some 18 years ago, Davis has been known for his determination and his incredible will to win, and that was the strength that won his Olympic gold medal. It was also the strength that resurfaced over the past two days in an incredible struggle to live and to survive. Unfortunately, that was a fight that probably no one could have won.
Victor Davis has left us, but I do not think we will forget Victor Davis. Out of this needless and devastating event will grow the memory of an élite athlete and a very great Canadian.
I express on behalf of all of the members of our caucus our regrets at the passing of someone whom we can all be proud of, and of course, our condolences to the family.
Mr J. M. Johnson: It is with a great deal of sadness that I rise today to join with my colleagues from the other two parties, and on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, to express our support for their very kind comments as we pay tribute to Victor Davis, a great Canadian athlete, and to mourn his untimely death.
He was a remarkable competitor with a dedication and determination which marks a winner. His specialty was the breast-stroke and he had been prominent in the world scene since 1982 when he won a gold and silver medal at the world championships. His time in the 200-metre event set a world record which stood for seven years -- a remarkable achievement.
Since then he had won numerous gold and silver medals in events around the world. An outstanding moment for Davis and for Canada was his gold medal in the 200-metre event at the 1984 Olympics, where he also won two silver medals, and in the 1988 Seoul Olympics when his world-record lap in the men’s relay won the silver medal for Canada.
Victor Davis was a native of Guelph and started swimming at an early age. He was the youngest person from the Guelph Marlin Swim Club ever to qualify for the nationals. The city was so proud after the 1984 Olympics that the main pool was renamed in his honour.
Since my riding of Wellington surrounds the city of Guelph, my constituents always considered Victor as one of their own people as well. His death is a shock to the Canadian swimming community and to his country. It is always a tragedy to lose a young person in the prime of life.
On behalf of my colleagues and myself, I would like to express condolences to Victor’s parents and family and his many friends. We will always remember Victor Davis and his achievements with pride and respect.
The Speaker: As soon as the official Hansard is printed, I will make certain that a copy is received by the Davis family so that they are fully aware of the members’ words of sympathy.
Hon Mr Ward: This morning when I walked here to Queen’s Park, I tried to imagine the unimaginable. I tried to picture a wall suddenly built down the centre of this city, cutting it crudely in half. I tried to envision a city, then a province and then its people arbitrarily and by force divided permanently and by violence kept apart.
In a city, a province and a nation where freedom seems simply a matter of course, a natural part of day-to-day life, an irrevocable birthright, this image seems inconceivable. But for 28 years this very phenomenon has been manifested in a wall built between East and West Berlin. It is not the daydream of a free man; it is the nightmare of a people cast in stone and concrete and topped with barbed wire.
Today, as we witness from a distance the stunning and inspiring events of recent days in East Germany, we must join together to recall the darker times that built the Berlin Wall, to share in celebrating the enlightenment that has brought it crumbling to earth, and finally to ensure that its destruction is more than symbolism but a true catalyst of tangible and permanent change.
Nearly three decades ago, the great men of the day furiously denounced the construction of the wall as it rose and cast its shadow across Berlin. In his well-known speech in 1963, John F. Kennedy crystallized the feelings of a generation when he stood next to the wall in West Berlin and told the world: “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put up a wall to keep our people in.”
In our own country, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker attacked the creation of the wall as a “unilateral, illegal and provocative action.” The most vivid characterization was perhaps offered by Winston Churchill at the end of the Second World War who saw an Iron Curtain descending across Europe.
Today we are part of the generation privileged to witness the curtain lifting. Here in Canada, safe, secure and free for all of our history, it is in fact quite difficult for most of us to understand what the people of East Germany are experiencing. It is easy for each of us to sit back idly and watch the news from East Germany as a placid and detached spectator, but no Canadian should settle for such mere acceptance. We have witnessed in recent days the throwing open of a border once thought to be impenetrable, the accelerated erosion of a barrier both symbolic and physical, and in the same rush of historic events, the fledgling liberation of a people.
As men and women whose lives are intrinsically connected to our nation’s democratic process, we in this assembly must display an understanding, appreciation and respect for these events and urge the same in our fellow Canadians. But we must not yet assume that freedom’s victory is absolute or complete in East Germany. Events of the next days, weeks and months will continue to demand our attention and support.
As East Germans revel in their new freedom, they must, with determination and tenacity, press their leaders for the implementation of permanent and tangible changes which will for ever give shape and form to the freedom that they now enjoy.
Two years ago Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to demonstrate his commitment to reform in the eastern bloc by dismantling the wall. Reagan’s words were prophetic: “This wall will fail. For it cannot withstand faith. It cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.”
The Berlin Wall did not indeed withstand faith or truth or freedom, but its destruction must only be a beginning and our hearts must be with East Germany as it strives to build a new nation where the light of freedom displaces the shadow of oppression. Perhaps 25 years later, the words of John F. Kennedy have indeed proven to be prophetic. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast of all is, “lch bin ein Berliner.”
Mr B. Rae: We commented on Thursday on Polish Independence Day and today, in response to a request from our party, the government agreed to give us all an opportunity to say something about the extraordinarily dramatic events that have taken place in the last three or four days in Berlin in East Germany. Now we understand certain proposals are being made about the Soviet Union itself with respect to the freedom to travel.
I can honestly say that I never anticipated that I would live to see the last couple of weeks. I suspect there are a great many members who grew up knowing no other world than the Cold War, knowing no other Europe than a divided Europe, and knowing no other possibility than the conflict between east and west of an irrevocable kind.
We have seen that those who say that history is over, how wrong they are. History is being made every day. We can see in the extraordinary events of the weekend -- many people have said it; I will say it as well -- a sense that the Second World War is finally over.
I want to add a couple of words, if I may, because of the drama of the events here in Ontario this weekend with the presence in our midst of a symbol of openness, a symbol of democracy in eastern Europe, Lech Walesa, the extraordinary impact that his visit had here and in Hamilton and in Niagara Falls, the celebrations which we were all able to see from so many people coming to all the meetings which were held and the extraordinary openness and vitality in the sense of change.
I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that I have accepted an opportunity to go to eastern Europe myself at the end of January for, I hope, two and a half weeks, for an opportunity to meet with members of the communities in Poland, in Hungary and elsewhere in eastern Europe to see for myself some of these exciting changes. But we are in the middle of some extraordinary change. It provides an opportunity for Canada, an opportunity for Ontario, and opportunity for all of us to respond with as much imagination and courage and creativity as the members of the eastern European communities and governments themselves have shown.
I would call upon our government, call upon members of this Legislature, as well as on our own federal government, to take the most imaginative and creative steps possible to reach out over the wall; to reach out through the wall as we break it down; to reach out our hand of friendship to those who have known nothing but an oppressive and totalitarian regime for over 40 years; to see that change is possible, that democracy is possible, and that indeed everything is possible if men not only dream but men and women together act on those dreams, if women and men together have the collective will, the imagination and the courage to bring their dreams to reality.
Mr Cureatz: This weekend we saw an event which I and millions of others would not have believed would occur within our lifetimes: the concrete wall which has stood far too long, providing the physical manifestation of separation between the two Germanys, is being torn apart piece by piece. The events which have been happening in East Germany over the past few days are occurring at a dizzying rate and even the most insightful of political analysts are having difficulty explaining this sudden surge in reform.
However, Mr Speaker, I can tell you that the cause of this reform is the people of East Germany. For the past week, the people of East Germany have voiced their concerns loudly and, as a result, it is now possible for citizens of the two Germanys to travel freely across the border as East and West Berlin once again become one city.
Last night, the East German Parliament elected, in one of its first uses of the secret ballot, a reformist Prime Minister, to which 250,000 responded urging the government to introduce still further reforms. In response to the demands of its citizens, the East German government has announced that it will be abolishing the 1,375-kilometre death strip between the two Germanys. The Communist Party central committee has called an emergency congress for mid-December. In a special session at which the new Prime Minister was elected, deputies called for free elections and the removal of the designation “socialist” from the East German Constitution. Not only has East Germany opened its borders for free travel, but it is apparently also seeking to enter into a trade pact with the European Community by the beginning of next year.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy stood at the Berlin Wall and made his historic statement. In 1989, it is finally possible for one to claim that he is a Berliner, neither east nor west, but simply a Berliner. On behalf of both myself and my party, I would like to express our support for the people of Germany, both east and west, during this period of change.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
COMMUNITY COLLEGE TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Hon Mr Conway: As members are aware, the academic staff at Ontario’s colleges of applied arts and technology have been on strike since 18 October 1989. Negotiations between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Ontario Council of Regents, the statutory bargaining agent for the employers, began in March of this past year. Members will also be aware that the parties have gone through fact-finding and mediation in the course of these negotiations and that mediation broke off on Saturday. Throughout these negotiations and the strike, the government has maintained the position that a negotiated solution is the preferred solution and that the parties had it within their capacity to arrive at a solution.
I must inform the House that I was advised today by the College Relations Commission that, in the commission’s opinion, the successful completion of courses of study in Ontario’s colleges is in imminent jeopardy. As the House will recall, under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, it is the responsibility of the College Relations Commission to advise me when, in the opinion of the commission, the continuance of a strike will place in jeopardy the successful completion of courses of study by the affected students.
I want to make it clear that students’ courses of study have not yet been jeopardized. Such jeopardy, however, appears imminent, and I was prepared to act today to legislate an end to this strike. However, I can advise the House that moments ago, OPSEU and the Council of Regents have taken a voluntary step towards resolving this dispute.
Early this afternoon, the parties announced a protocol that will end the strike by the province’s 8,800 teachers and return them to classrooms. Teachers will be back tomorrow, with classes resuming for students as quickly as colleges can arrange for them. Students should contact their college for advice on when their particular program will resume. Under the terms of the agreement, the parties will agree to one more effort at mediation with a new mediator, Martin Teplitsky. Should it be necessary, the parties have agreed that Mr Teplitsky will assume the role of arbitrator.
I am pleased for the students that this strike is over and that they will be able to return to the classrooms. I am pleased also that the parties were able to agree on a mechanism for resolving their differences.
BETTER BEGINNINGS, BETTER FUTURES / PARTIR D’UN BON PAS POUR UN AVENIR MEILLEUR
Hon Mr Beer: I wish to advise members today of an exciting, new, broad-based research initiative designed to prevent emotional, behavioural, physical and school-related problems in children. I had the pleasure of sharing the details of this announcement with the delegates of Prevention Congress IV last night, here in Toronto. My ministry will be working closely with the ministries of Health and Education throughout this challenging undertaking, the first research initiative of its kind in Canada.
L’étude sur la santé des enfants de l’Ontario est un projet dont la haute valeur est bien reconnue pour son examen de la santé mentale des enfants. Il en ressort que les enfants qui vivent dans des communautés économiquement faibles, dans lesquelles de nombreuses familles reçoivent de l’aide sociale ou habitent des logements subventionnés, sont particulièrement vulnérables. En effet, ils risquent, plus que d’autres, d’être affligés de désordres affectifs ou comportementaux, d’une santé faible et d’un rendement scolaire inférieur.
Soucieux d’aborder la question en tenant compte des conditions précises de l’Ontario, mon Ministère, le ministère des Services sociaux et communautaires, a coordonné les travaux d’un groupe de chercheurs et directeurs de programmes parmi les plus réputés en Ontario : 25 enseignants, travailleurs communautaires, psychiatres, psychologues, travailleurs sociaux et du personnel infirmier ont examiné et évalué des textes pertinents ainsi qu’un total de 45 programmes de prévention.
We are inviting proposals from community agencies, public health agencies and schools located in disadvantaged communities in Ontario. We expect to announce about six projects in selected communities across Ontario by next summer. For the first time, our three ministries will consolidate their services on behalf of infants, preschoolers and primary school children. All young children and their families in selected communities will be eligible to participate.
Appropriately trained staff in the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services will collaborate to establish close relations with children and families. The staff will teach, counsel, co-ordinate services and meet the specific needs of families as they arise. In addition, those with responsibility for program direction will involve parents and community leaders to determine what other program components are needed for healthy child development in that particular community. Examples could include mothers’ support groups, lunch or breakfast programs, employment training or recreation.
Because the program has great potential value for the ministries of Health and Education as well as the Ministry of Community and Social Services, funding will be shared by our three ministries. The ministries of Health and Education will each contribute $700,000 a year for five years, while my ministry has dedicated $1.8 million annually. Thus the three ministries will jointly fund this project at $3.2 million yearly for five years.
We shall conduct a 25-year study of these children, their families and their communities, and we hope to find such positive short-term benefits as healthier mothers and babies, reduced child abuse and enriched primary school environments for disadvantaged children. We anticipate that the Better Beginnings, Better Futures initiative will help to break the cycle of disadvantage for a number of Ontario’s children.
In the long term, positive benefits should include reduced juvenile delinquency, fewer school dropouts and teen pregnancies and less unemployment. As the study progresses, there will be open sharing of information on what really works in prevention in all government agencies, especially the ministries of Health, Education and Community and Social Services.
We all know the old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. We know now that an ounce is not enough, especially for children and families who live in poverty. The Better Futures program is unique in that it unites the many existing prevention efforts into a consolidated approach, which I and my colleagues in the ministries of Health and Education believe will result in benefits that will be felt in the community for years to come. When this model and its guidelines are put into practice, we will have taken an important step by spotting the potential for emotional, behavioural and physical difficulties in children and correcting them before they become problems.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr R. F. Johnston: I might first respond to the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr Conway) and share the sigh of relief that I think all of us have felt that a solution seems to be imminent and, better than a legislative solution, an agreement, at least, and a process between the two parties. The ones who are most relieved, I think at this stage, are probably a group of students who are not as convinced as the minister seems to be that their year has not been lost.
I can think of a number who have already left the college system at this point because they do not feel, with their particular kinds of courses, that they are going to be able to get the kind of education they need at this time. I think I can allude to the fact that at Sault College there is a presumption that as many as a third of the students will have left and will not be coming back, and if that is not a major effect on that college system, I do not know what is.
In looking at this system, I cannot help but say that the parallels to 1984 are incredible. That year, the Premier (Mr Peterson) attacked Bette Stephenson, the minister at the time, for not putting in a few extra dollars to bring about a solution. He said it in this House. There are wonderful quotations from the Premier, and yet she said intransigently that the government was not at the table, the government had no role to play there, just as has the Minister of Colleges and Universities here in 1989. I say the only difference between the two is a bouffant coiffure. I will not ask the House to guess which one was which. I would say that I have every confidence that a solution will be found.
BETTER BEGINNINGS, BETTER FUTURES
Mr R. F. Johnston: On the other matter, as the critic for the Ministry of Education, I want to say to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) that this announcement is quite disappointing today. The select committee on education said it is time we changed our goals of education to make sure there are social goals and that the thousands of kids who are disadvantaged are no longer dropped between the cracks again as they have been in the past.
What has the minister done here today? What he has come up with, if I can believe it, is a set of 14 pilot projects; only $3.2 million a year going into what we know has been a dismal failure in the education system.
Hon Mr Scott: What’s-A-Million Johnston.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would to say to the Attorney General, what is a million? It is not a matter of a million dollars; it is a matter of lost possibilities for those poor kids in the province of Ontario.
What we need, instead of a few more pilot projects, is some systematic change. I would like to know why the minister has not made a statement with the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) today saying what kind of rationale he has for the role of day care and the role of junior kindergarten and why the class sizes in grade 1 are so substantially different from what they are for kindergarten. He should look at those kinds of matters, and why we do not have a reporting system for kids who are absent in kindergarten at this point. He has not even suggested that basic systematic change which could identify kids more appropriately than just another few projects listed for another few years.
Mr Allen: At first glance the statement of the Minister for Community and Social Services, Better Beginnings, Better Futures, looks promising in a multimedia kind of response to the problems of disadvantaged children, but a very disturbing sense creeps over one. First of all, the proposals are based upon a series of studies and research, some of them long-term, in other communities. Why are we just simply reinventing the wheel and applying them in another series of research projects here in Ontario?
Second, the problem of poverty is the problem of poverty. Poor people are poor because they are poor. So the disturbing sense one gets from the proposal is that we are going to turn loose a whole series of specialists on various aspects of child care and child development and family development and parental development, in order to do what? To deal with symptoms of poverty, when we should be, in fact, equipping the families in question with the precise resources that they need; namely, monetary, physical resources to at least be normal families in the first instance.
What good is a 25-year study in six project areas if we are not ourselves eliminating, in point of fact, the fact of poverty in our communities? Why have we not had an announcement on a minimum wage of at least $8.50 an hour? Why have we not had a complete system of universal day care for children of all working families? Why have we not had appropriate and full and complete pay equity systems and employment equity in place? Those are the items that are going to equip families to do the job themselves. Lacking that, this kind of stuff is primarily window dressing.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Brandt: I want to respond to the statement made by the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr Conway) in connection with the partial resolution of the problem of the strike that the minister has announced today. Let me just say that once one reads through the rhetoric contained in the minister’s statement, one sees very quickly that none of the issues have in fact been resolved. The issues remain on the table, and the minister makes a point in his statement of saying that the parties had it within their capacity to arrive at a solution. The parties have not arrived at a solution; they are now hoping that some form of mediation or arbitration will resolve the issue.
I too, along with the members of my party, am deeply grateful that the students will in fact have an opportunity to return to the classroom, but I do not think the minister should be overly satisfied with the fact that over a month ago he could have brought in this selfsame solution to the problem. He could have solved it at that time by taking these measures with the co-operation of the other two parties had he taken an active role in the entire negotiation process.
I want to say to the minister that one of the matters of deep concern that he should feel at this time is that estimates of up to 1,000 students have quit and left the system and have not had their school year saved, as a direct result of his inaction on this particular matter.
Mr Jackson: I too would like to respond to the statements by both the government and members of the New Democratic Party as they express their relief that they will not have to be standing in this House in four hours to vote for a legislated conclusion to this dispute. I think it speaks volumes on where both the government and other members of this House have come from, through a series of questions and answers in this House.
We all are relieved that a large group of students will be able to return tomorrow, but there are many students who will be denied that opportunity because this government, particularly this minister, has been playing politics with this issue. The minister has taken his hand and put it as close to the burner as he possibly could. In an effort not to get burned, he has checked with his political advisers and with the pollsters to determine what he could get away with in this dispute. But I want to inform the minister that hundreds, and we may find several thousand, students did get their hands burned during the course of this strike because of this government’s inaction.
What happened to this Premier (Mr Peterson) who, when he was sitting here in opposition just five years ago, some 12 feet from the seat he now holds in power, indicated in 1984 that students should be in school and the minister should be at the bargaining table? What has happened to this loose-lipped Liberal leader in opposition now that he is the Premier? What happened to him?
I will tell members what happened to him. It is the same Premier who, four or five years ago, said that what was needed to resolve these disputes was a little bit more cash and a little more sensitivity on the part of the minister. He did not give the minister the cash to assist this dispute, and he gave us a minister who lacked the sensitivity to understand the risk that students were at.
I happen to be one who has gone through a mediation arbitration experience with Martin Teplitsky and I think the parties are in for an interesting experience, but I can tell the minister, when I was involved with a dispute of this magnitude in my own board, we did it without a strike because we put a strong emphasis on the need to ensure that students’ educational experiences were protected.
I am convinced -- as is, I am sure, any member of this House who has received phone calls from students in his or her riding who no longer will be going back to community college is; we remain convinced -- that the only reason the jeopardy finding was not announced last week and there was not the political will to present a jeopardy hearing last week, as was done five years ago, was that the Premier was still in this country and he would have to stand accountable for these types of rhetorical statements.
The Premier is in Italy with several members of his caucus, and he has distanced himself from resolving this dispute. I think what is required in this province today is a little more sensitivity to post-secondary education and not the rhetoric that we keep getting from this government. I remind this government that it became a government as a result of an accord with the New Democratic Party, and not one mention in that three-page document was for support for post-secondary education. We have waited five years, and we still do not have it.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Attorney General. He will perhaps remember, and I would ask him to cast his mind back to 14 April 1988, when the government announced its approach to the Retail Business Holidays Act. At the beginning of his statement on that day, the Attorney General said, “One of the main reasons the government decided to change the previous legislation was precisely because it was abused.” He goes on to say The act was, in short, “a law whose application was becoming more and more impossible to enforce.”
We have now seen this weekend that there are large chains that feel they can drive a truck through the government’s law. I would like to ask the Attorney General, does he not now realize that the government was wrong in 1988, that what it has produced is even more unenforceable than what it had before and that in fact the law needs to be changed in order to carry out public policy?
Hon Mr Scott: No, Mr Speaker.
Mr B. Rae: One of the policemen whose district includes Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan said in the Toronto Star on 13 November, and I am quoting to the Attorney General: “It is not an adversarial situation....The stores know they are going to be charged and they accept it as a cost of doing business.” That is what has happened to the Liberal law.
In light of the fact that section 8 of the law, which the government passed last year, states that counsel for the Attorney General may apply for injunctive relief, I wonder if the Attorney General can tell us why on the weekend he said that he had no intention of seeking injunctive relief and no intention of trying to see that the law was enforced?
Hon Mr Scott: First of all, I did not say that on the weekend. Second, I would like to make it plain to all honourable members that the government, as well as other people in the community, was shocked by the announcement that was made by counsel of large retailers that irrespective of the law of the province, they were, in selected areas, going to ignore it. They did not decide to ignore it everywhere. They decided to ignore it only in those municipalities where they thought their abuse of power could work their way on municipal councils. I do not approve and I am sure honourable members do not approve of that kind of blackmail.
The attitude of these companies towards a law of general application in the province shows clearly, and everybody should know it, that they are bad corporate citizens.
The honourable member will want to know that through the co-operation of municipal police forces in those municipalities where these stores so flagrantly breached the law, close to 100 charges have been laid, and the crown attorneys in those cases have been asked, on behalf of the Attorney General, to prosecute those cases as vigorously as can be done, to ask for maximum sentences of $50,000 and to ask that profits be taken from the companies, as is permitted under the act.
Mr B. Rae: I am just curious. The words spoken by the Attorney General sound as if he is somebody who is prepared to see that the law is enforced, and enforced fairly, across the province. That is what it sounds like to me. In light of that, I wonder why the Attorney General would not apply section 8 of the act.
Mr Callahan: Pretty good.
Mr B. Rae: The member for Brampton South, who speaks far more eloquently from his seat than anywhere else, says that it sounds good.
Just so members will know, the law states, “Upon the application of counsel for the Attorney General or of a municipality to the Supreme Court, the court may order that a retail business establishment close on a holiday to ensure compliance with this Act or a by-law or regulation under this Act.”
I want to ask the Attorney General if he can tell us why it is possible for a municipality to seek injunctive relief, but in fact the government of Ontario has no intention of attempting to enforce the law in that way.
Hon Mr Scott: May I say for the second time that I have never said that and I am surprised that the honourable member, who is ordinarily very fair-minded, should read only part of the section with which we are concerned.
I am quite aware of what the powers of regional municipalities and governments are under this statute. We have indicated that when charges are laid, and they have been laid, they will be prosecuted as aggressively as we can prosecute them, so that these people who are prepared to abuse their fellow citizens by putting this law to one side to suit their own economic convenience, or to bring pressure to bear on municipal councils, will be brought to justice.
We will look carefully at all steps that can be taken. I can tell the honourable member that the staff of my ministry are already in touch with the regional municipality of Peel, which has indicated it is considering an injunction application.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr B. Rae: This becomes even more crucial when we put it side by side with what I understand the government has announced with respect to the Indians who are seeking to enforce their rights in Temagami. I understand again from the newspaper, not from anything the Attorney General has said in this House, that, “Provincial officials have said they plan to go before the court tomorrow to seek a counterinjunction against the band’s blockade.” I understand a permanent injunction is to be sought on Thursday.
I wonder if the Attorney General can explain to the native people, who are seeking to enforce a 4,000-year-old land claim, why it is all right for the Attorney General to put them into a paddy wagon, but he is not prepared to do anything practical, anything within his own power, to deal with the problem of the law being broken with respect to Sunday shopping.
Hon Mr Scott: On the subject of Sunday shopping, which forms part of the question, I have given my answer and I do not think I can add to it further.
I am obliged to tell the honourable member that an injunction was granted an hour ago with respect to the construction of the extension of the Red Squirrel Road, prohibiting anybody, not merely natives but anybody, from preventing the construction of that road.
From the very beginning, the government has taken the position that it will not take steps or does not take steps until its lawful authority to act is made clear. That is why an injunction was sought, so that everybody would have the opportunity to make their case to the court as to the propriety of what we were doing. That has been clearly established in a courtroom and the injunction has been granted for the purposes of assuring that kind of clarity, so that the government would not be acting unilaterally against the claim of the Temagami band.
Mr B. Rae: I find it hard to believe that the Attorney General, who has spoken so often in this House of his record as a civil libertarian, would say that it is okay for the government to seek injunctive relief when it comes to constructing a road across land that has been claimed by our native people and is now the subject of a major dispute before the Supreme Court of Canada, but that he is not prepared to see that the law is enforced by way of an injunction when it comes to Sunday shopping. Because of the nature of the economic interests that are involved, I can tell him they are very different from that of a few hundred native people in Temagami.
That is the message that comes out of this government. They have one law for one group of people and another standard for others. I would like to ask the Attorney General what additional steps he is planning to take to avoid a tremendous confrontation in Temagami as a result of the government’s decision to go for an injunction.
Hon Mr Scott: I think the honourable member, accidentally no doubt, does an unfairness to the issue when he characterizes it in that way. The Temagami band make a claim to 4,000 square miles that is occupied by them and by 10,000 other Canadians who live and work there. That case has been adjudicated twice in our courts against their claim. A startup offer of settlement of $30 million, including $15-million worth of land, has not been able to bring the band to the bargaining table.
I simply emphasize to the honourable member that in the meantime decisions have to be taken. The government has taken those decisions and in every instance where there is some concern about the Temagami band’s claim and whether we should proceed, we have invited the court’s comments, as we did on two or three previous occasions. The purpose of the application this morning was to make plain that what we are doing is lawful and appropriate in the circumstances.
Mr B. Rae: I want to say to the Attorney General that the message I get is that he is prepared to bring down an injunction on the backs of the native people, but he is not prepared to bring down an injunction on Loblaws. That is the reality. That is the message we get. That is exactly what the Attorney General has done. He has done one thing for one group of people and he has done another very different thing for Loblaws and Miracle Food Mart.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Double standard.
Mr B. Rae: That is the fact of the matter. There is a double standard at work here.
The Speaker: Do you have a supplementary?
Mr B. Rae: The Attorney General, in this House, has in fact made two different offers public to the band in question. He made an original offer, which was subsequently withdrawn after the Court of Appeal decision. Another offer was made, which was worth far less than the first offer. Yes, less.
Hon Mr Scott: No, my friend. Prove that to me.
Mr B. Rae: I will show it to him.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the Attorney General, is there one offer, and one offer only, from the provincial government? Precisely what are the terms of that offer and does that offer still stand?
Hon Mr Scott: I know the honourable member will read any message into whatever he hears that suits his paltry political interests. I understand that, but having said that, I want to tell the honourable member that the latest offer to the band is a matter of public record. The honourable member has a copy of it.
I believe it is as beneficial an offer to the Temagami band in dollar and other terms as the first one, which was withdrawn because the condition about the Court of Appeal did not meet the needs of the Temagami band. The purpose of this offer is to indicate the goodwill of the government and people of Ontario to the Temagami band and serves as an invitation for them to come to the bargaining table. They will not do so and I understand perfectly why they take that view.
I want to emphasize that unlike the previous government, from the start we have been prepared to negotiate this thing through to the end, through to an appropriate conclusion. We continue to be prepared to negotiate it but you cannot negotiate alone. When the band is prepared to come to the table, we will be, as we have been for years, prepared to meet to discuss the issue with them.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Brandt: To the Attorney General: I want to return to the question of Sunday shopping. In view of the fact that section 8 is available for him to act upon with respect to province-wide authority, recognizing that the action being taken by the grocery chains in this province is clearly going to impact across this province, and recognizing as well that the municipalities, virtually unanimously across Ontario, told the Attorney General and his government directly that they did not want Sunday shopping laws with the responsibility thrust upon them, why is the Attorney General now washing his hands entirely of this matter and not taking action on the part of the government of Ontario to assist the municipalities?
Hon Mr Scott: I believe the Committee for Fair Shopping, as it is called, which comprises A&P, Dominion, Loblaws, Miracle Food Mart and the Oshawa Group, will sooner or later come to its senses and understand that it cannot publicly or privately permit this breach of a valid provincial law.
These are the very people, perhaps, who if they heard that a hungry shoplifter had stolen something in their shop would be crying for the enforcement of the law. I believe that the senior executives of these companies, upon reconsideration, will want to withdraw the threat they have made to the public of the province by this conduct.
Now, in the event they do not, charges have been laid, almost 100 over the last weekend. We have indicated that those charges will be vigorously prosecuted by the crown in those regional municipalities where they have been laid and we will be asking for the maximum penalties under the law.
Mr Brandt: I have to say the Attorney General is being very selective in his application of the law. If in fact the Attorney General recognized a violation of the law as it relates to occupational health and safety, pay equity or environmental laws, selectively he would come forward and determine in his own mind which of those he would enforce.
I say that the Attorney General has a provincial responsibility to enforce his laws. The municipalities do not want it. They expect him to take some action and not simply wash his hands of it. Is that all he is prepared to do?
Hon Mr Scott: If the press reports are right, the regional municipality of Peel announced that it would be applying for an injunction very shortly and we have already been in touch with that regional municipality.
Mr Brandt: I have to say to the Attorney General that he has a responsibility to seek an injunction with respect to these very large chains. He recognizes full well that he is already faced with an overburdened court system. He is already faced with a number of municipalities, some of which are relatively small in terms of their economic base, that are going to have to fight very large, multimillion-dollar firms. The Attorney General is simply standing back and indicating, again selectively, that he is going to vigorously prosecute these grocery chains when these matters are brought before the courts.
I have to say with due respect to the Attorney General that the very problem that we in this party and also the New Democratic Party indicated was going to happen is now unfolding exactly as we predicted it.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Brandt: They are going to piece off the municipalities --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Brandt: -- one by one, again because of his inaction. Will he take some responsibility in this matter?
Hon Mr Scott: The whole thrust of the question seems to be to illustrate that the leader of the third party was once right. I would be prepared to concede that, though not in this particular case, and an actual occurrence of his rightness escapes me for the moment, but I know one will be documented.
What the honourable member would want to know is the steps taken by the Committee for Fair Shopping, as they call themselves, have occurred, I believe, in only four counties in Ontario, and those counties are ones in which they are attempting to persuade municipal councils to pass bylaws. I have made very plain my view of their conduct. We have indicated that where charges are laid, as they have been laid by municipal police forces, they will be vigorously enforced by crown attorneys and maximum penalties under the law, of $50,000 and loss of profits, will be sought until this abuse of the law ceases.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions and deals with auto insurance.
Hopefully, the minister is aware of a study at the University of Toronto related to the no-fault insurance process in Quebec, indicating that the Quebec experience following the introduction of no-fault was that fatal accidents increased by close to 10 per cent. If we can transpose that to the Ontario experience, that would translate to an increase of more than 100 deaths annually in Ontario. As the minister will be aware, that is in stark contrast to the excellent record in this province in the past 15 years, where we have seen a gradual reduction in the number of fatalities. This study suggests that the government’s no-fault plan exposes the province to an increase in traffic deaths.
Would the minister indicate what credible evidence he may have at his disposal that shows the Quebec experience is not applicable, and if so, is he prepared to table that information with this House?
Hon Mr Elston: The reports that have been made to us indicate that an insurance product by itself does not determine the rate of accidents. We have taken the advice of a number of the panels that have reported to us and indicated that insurance reform alone will not be used to reduce accidents.
In fact, what really does reduce accidents is better highway traffic management, better building of highways, better enforcement, better use of seatbelts and a number of other things. What we have done as a result is to set in motion a comprehensive plan to reduce accidents, in addition to providing a very fair and balanced approach to providing reimbursements for those people who have unfortunately become involved in accidents.
I would like to report as well to the House that it would be interesting to look at the experience in terms of accidents in other jurisdictions around North America, where there has been an increasing number of accidents that have occurred as a result of heavier mobility of automobiles, a lot higher activity economically and otherwise.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that in Ontario our primary concern with the Ontario motorist protection plan is to take the necessary steps to reduce accidents by better highway management, by safety construction, by education of individuals, by looking at how we can do exactly as the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) mentioned last week by ensuring that young and inexperienced drivers --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Runciman: The minister is again filling the air with non-information. I asked him a specific question with respect to any studies that have been undertaken by this government. We have a very serious suggestion made here in a study at the University of Toronto that Ontario could experience an increase of 100 fatalities on the roads if we proceed with his plan. The Ontario Automobile Insurance Board expressed concern about increased accident frequency and fatalities. Osborne expressed the same kind of concern. I am asking the minister specifically, does he have any studies that will refute that?
Hon Mr Elston: Our review over the last two and a half years of the jurisdictions around North America and otherwise indicates that the insurance product itself does not determine whether or not there are accidents. What does determine whether there are accidents is the degree of experience of the drivers, the construction safety that is implemented on the highways, the management of highway traffic congestion, the enforcement of all our laws and the increasing of fines -- in some cases upwards of tripling fines; at least doubling in a lot of cases -- mean that people will be brought around to understanding that they cannot be bad drivers on our roads.
In cases, however, where there is an accident and where there are problems associated with that and injuring individuals, our balanced approach is to provide quick access to benefits, quick access to rehabilitation and long-term care so that people can be assisted through the problem. The difficulty, though, is not with the insurance product but with ensuring that we are providing all the education and enforcement that is required on our highways to make them safer for the Ontario driver.
Mr Runciman: The reality is that the compensation will occur regardless of care taken on the highways and that in essence driver care will fall. That has been the proof of this particular study. Certainly, the minister has no facts to back up the position he has taken. It is another indication that he does not understand the implications of this very poorly thought out legislation. He does not have any answers. He does not have any studies. Again, it is a question of seat-of-the-pants, ad hoc management of this issue.
I want to ask the minister, based on the fact that he does not have any studies and that these are very serious suggestions being made, if he is prepared to refer this question with respect to accident frequency and fatalities to his new insurance board whenever it is assembled.
Hon Mr Elston: One of the things the new insurance commission will be in charge of is reviewing the accident rates and all the experience with respect to payouts and how the new product is reformed. We will be responding to the needs of the citizens. There is no secret about that. In fact, there is provision in the legislation to have an advisory committee provide the commissioner with advice as to how the product ought to be dealt with as we move down the years.
I have no problem at all in telling the honourable gentleman that I believe the legislation is responsive to a continuing, ongoing, thorough review of how the product responds to the needs of individuals, but I can tell the honourable gentleman and the people of Ontario that it is not the product itself that creates safety.
It is better education of the drivers; it is better enforcement of our speed laws; it is better use of seatbelts; it is better construction of highways. It is a whole series of things.
While the member says that our plan was not well thought out, this is a comprehensive, balanced, affordable approach to ensuring that there is safety on the highways of Ontario and that there is a quick and balanced access by injured people to benefits when they need them most.
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of the Environment and concerns the subject that I have raised with him on many occasions, the spills from the chemical industries into the St Clair River and the very real fears of the people of Wallaceburg and Walpole Island who take their drinking water from that river.
In a speech this weekend, the minister acknowledged that there had been almost as many chemical spills into the St Clair in the first six months of this year as there had been in the whole of 1988. This is a minister who has boasted about his tough enforcement of our pollution regulations and who has boasted about the massive fines that he is going to levy against corporate polluters.
Can the minister explain how, after four years in office, there are now more spills than ever into the St Clair River and maybe tell us what he is going to do about it?
Hon Mr Bradley: I thank the member for making reference to my speech which was made in Detroit at a conference dealing with the Great Lakes and issues related to that.
Mr B. Rae: My dog objected to it very strongly.
Hon Mr Bradley: I do not know whether the member of the third party wants to add to it. We will welcome his comments on that occasion.
But I indicated very clearly on that occasion that it was most disappointing and totally unacceptable that there would be any increase -- I do not care what the size of the spill is; we can quibble over whether it is a large spill, a small spill or whatever it is -- but it is unacceptable to see an increase. This is why we have, when we look at these figures, stepped up our enforcement activities and our abatement activities in the area, where we have each of the companies that has been involved speaking with our Ministry of the Environment officials right now and attempting to come forward with a policy which will allow us to enforce on each one of the spills that has occurred.
We have seen millions of dollars spent by some of the companies along there for the purpose of improving their spill record. It obviously, in my view, has not been sufficient and it is quite obvious that in this new round of discussions between the Ministry of the Environment officials in the area and the companies that they will have to improve their management practices and they are getting counsel on that. But included in that because I looked, a lot of it is in terms of equipment --
The Speaker: Thank you. Sorry, we are getting into statement time.
Mrs Grier: Mr Speaker, if you had given him another minute, he would have got to the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement. I am sure he was going to get to that at some point. I would have been more impressed by the speech if I had not read it before. Last March, the minister made a similar speech and said, “I will not be satisfied until the situation is corrected.”
This minister has been telling the industries for four years that they have to do a better job and they are not listening to him. He has been telling us they would listen to him because there was going to be stricter enforcement and better control. Can the minister give us one good reason why he will not now put into place a tough control abatement regulation that will control these industries until MISA clicks in, which will not be for another two years?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member may be aware and as I have indicated in my initial answer to her, we are in fact calling the major offenders to account at the present time and developing exactly that situation. There are not more spills than ever, as the member may be aware. There are more spills than existed last year, if we compare the six-month period of time, and that is what I find unacceptable.
This is why we believe that the discussions that are taking place now, the laying down of the law by the Ministry of the Environment officials, will be very effective. We will be writing requirements into their certificates of approval, into legal documents that require that by utilizing the best management practices, they are able to control these spills.
The member asked about the MISA program. Of course, that is the long-term solution to this particular problem and will have a major effect.
The member also knows that I do not control the judges of the province of Ontario. We can bring forward our prosecutions and we do vigorously when there is evidence there that we can prosecute. We have done it on many occasions and we have had some big fines that have been levied, but unfortunately, I do not control what the judges ultimately do with those fines. I hope that we see those kinds of --
The Speaker: Thank you:
INTERVAL AND TRANSITION HOUSES
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister would be aware that this year over 8,000 women and children who are the victims of domestic violence situations will be turned away from Ontario’s 78 shelters and transition homes. He would also be aware that his government made an announcement in May that said nothing about expanding access to those existing beds and he would be aware that several cabinet ministers have talked recently about the need to eliminate violent environments from homes so that they become safe and secure positions for the victims of domestic violence.
What specific plans does the minister’s government have for announcements that would expand the number of shelter beds that are available to women in this province?
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member is aware, this year we have directed more funds to the system in terms of trying to stabilize the salary situation, and that particular situation is at the point where I expect an announcement at any time. We have put some more funding into counselling as well.
I think one of the directions that we received from the various groups in this area was that two of the real requirements were to stabilize the system and to provide more money for counselling and outreach. We have moved in that direction initially. We would like to continue to move in terms of more beds, but the thrust initially has been on those other two elements.
Mr Jackson: The minister would be aware that domestic violence accounted for one third of the 60 homicides in the city of Toronto in this last year. We are talking about serious repercussions that families experience as a result of not having access to a bed. For round figures, there are about 800 beds that are currently provided in this province and we note with interest that since this government came to office, we have only experienced an expansion of one new shelter in each year. That is all the expansion we have experienced.
I would like to ask the minister or to bring to his attention that when he says he would like to address the issue, he has done nothing about it since the minister’s estimates book clearly indicates that again, for this coming year, he is only anticipating one additional shelter. When we have 80 beds with 8,000 women being turned away, his government is indicating that it may only come up with eight more beds. My question simply is --
The Speaker: I thought you had asked it.
Mr Jackson: -- when is the minister going to provide greater accessibility to the women in this province who are trapped in a domestic violence situation and do not have access to these beds?
Hon Mr Beer: I think over the last number of years we have made a significant impact upon the situation of beds and we have over 1,250 beds in the system, but we have also recognized that in the development of this system there have been other problems related to this in the area of counselling and in terms of stabilizing those who are working in those systems so that they will have adequate salaries and support. That is our thrust at the moment.
We have said to the federal government in terms of the program that it put forward that we would like to see a mixed approach in terms of some funding available for beds as well as funding available for counselling. That is the direction we are taking. We are working with them in terms of some of the funding that they were talking about
I think the honourable member should be aware that the bed situation is an important one, but it is not the only part of the approaches that are needed to try get at the bottom of the problems that relate to those who are in difficulty because of family assault. We have been putting a great deal of stress on those areas as well and we will continue to do that.
PHYSICALLY DISABLED STUDENTS
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. More and more of the physically challenged, I understand, are attending our colleges and universities, and this is good, but they advise me that they and their families still have extra costs involved because of their particular disabilities and that they do not have the same opportunities often of raising money in summer and other jobs to address the expenditures that they must face.
Since the OSAP does not give any special consideration to these particular problems, I wonder if the minister could advise if he and his ministry would be a position to look into addressing these particular problems of financing and OSAP.
Hon Mr Conway: Mr Speaker, through you to my colleague the member for Simcoe Centre, I would like to say that we do recognize the special needs of students with disabilities. In 1987, the Ontario student assistance program was adjusted to take into account a number of those special factors and I would be happy to share the particulars of those changes with my colleague.
I can tell the member as well that at the present time officials from both the ministries of Colleges and Universities and Community and Social Services are looking at additional requirements that we may want to meet because we do recognize that these are very important people with special needs that we want to accommodate to the very greatest extent possible.
Mr Owen: I wonder if I could look at the same question but from the other end, after they have graduated and again are facing the same problem. They advise me that sometimes they do not have the same opportunities of earning the same moneys from their jobs afterwards, yet they still must look to repaying the OSAP loan. Since the minister is looking at it beforehand, could he advise whether he would be in a position to look at it after the fact?
Hon Mr Conway: I can tell my honourable friend and my good friend the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) that the earnings situation was taken into account in 1987 when OSAP was changed to make sure that students with disabilities were not expected to have the same summer or part-time earnings that other students were. I want to thank my friend from Barrie for his interest in this very important area of social policy.
My colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) and I are looking at additional changes that we might want to make to provide additional support. I should just conclude by reminding my colleague in the House that in this year’s allocations to Colleges and Universities there is something like $3.5 million worth of special funding for colleges and $4 million for universities. I think those are roughly the figures to provide for the special needs of the disabled.
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Last week, a Quebec court made a judgement with respect to the availability of social assistance and the requirements of having a residence, namely, making that null and void in the province of Quebec. The minister’s officials, in response to questioning about this, indicated that there was a guideline that had been passed out last May to municipal officials that a homeless person was eligisble for assistance regardless of whether he had an address or not and that the old practices that they had indulged in in the past were now passé.
Would the minister then explain why it is that when we called municipal welfare offices this morning, eight in number, three of them made it quite plain that they were still requiring an address; two of them were sort of equivocal, still requiring a hostel arrangement of some kind, and only three of them were obviously on track and in tune with the minister’s guideline? Why has there not been better enforcement of that particular guideline and how does the minister explain the fact that it is not being followed in the field at this point in time?
Hon Mr Beer: I do not know why that particular situation has arisen because, when this came up last week, I asked for a report on what the situation was here and it was made very clear that we do provide assistance to those who are homeless.
I also saw the memorandum which was not stating the policy but was reiterating the policy that existed. With respect to what that policy is, it is that assistance can be given to those who are homeless, that that has been done and that it is quite right and proper that it be done.
I will certainly look into the specific cases the member raises, but use this as an opportunity to state quite clearly that what we can do in this province is provide assistance to those who are homeless, and that is the way the system should work.
Mr Allen: I can tell the minister that we certainly found a problem in Brockville, Sarnia and Peterborough. We also discovered, in the course of phoning around, that there are still numbers of municipalities which will not pay the last month’s rent. In that respect, of course, it puts social assistance recipients into an impossible box, which the minister will be very familiar with.
Also, it is interesting to note that the minister does not even bother in his ministry to collect statistics on the incidence of acceptance or refusal or application for welfare, which might well be refused in any of the offices by virtue of not having an address.
Is the minister not sending a signal by not requiring information on this point that really it is not all that important to the ministry and that they can get away with avoiding the regulation because the ministry does not collect any information about such an important matter?
Hon Mr Beer: I say to my colleague I believe, in terms of the way we are trying to approach those who are homeless, that we should be guided and directed here by doing what is appropriate and right and that the legislation provides a framework for that.
If there are, as the member has noted, some areas where things are not being done the way we assumed they were, then we are going to have to make sure that people understand what the law means and how that should be applied. If there is some information which would be of help to us in improving those programs, I would agree that we would want to be collecting that as well. I will look into the matters that the honourable member has raised.
Mr Cousens: This question is for the Minister of Transportation. The minister knows that the GO Transit services are imperative; they are essential. They are one of those things this government has to give a great deal of attention to. We spent some time discussing this during the estimates a few weeks ago.
There is a serious problem now surrounding GO service and that has to do with the parking spots for users. Commuters at the GO station in Oakville have been turned away because there are no more parking spaces and they are forced to drive into Toronto. Will the minister commit to expanding parking lot capacity at stations such as Oakville, which is already operating at 110 per cent capacity?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member would want to know that we have been expanding, where it is possible to do so, our parking spaces for the GO Transit system. He would particularly be aware, I am sure, given where his riding is located, that two of the most recent expansions have been at the eastern end of the east-west GO corridor, I believe in Guildwood and I think in Whitby. There are some plans for additional expansions in the western portion of that same corridor which we expect to announce shortly.
Certainly the growth has been quite phenomenal. Our increase in GO ridership is up some 18 per cent on the rail system year to year, and ridership continues to grow. One of the things I think we will have to begin to do and we are doing is to begin to examine whether there are some alternatives to the parking lot systems that are now in place since they will not provide, at the end of the day, a complete, necessary and full response to the challenge that faces us.
Mr Cousens: I asked a question specifically about Oakville because Oakville is having great problems, and so are Burlington, Clarkson, Port Credit, Mimico and Bradford. People want to use public transit, yet they cannot because there are no parking spaces.
People continue to get ticketed every day. If they park illegally, then they get a ticket. So we are discouraging people from using public transit. We happen to have a great problem in this greater Toronto area because of people flooding the roads with their cars. We want to get them off the roads and on to public transit such as the GO system. All I can tell the minister is that people are increasingly frustrated.
I ask the minister a question about GO Transit and then he comes along and starts hopping into other areas. Will the minister immediately authorize expansion of these GO stations that I just mentioned and do something to reduce the congestion in those stations so that the people can use GO Transit and get off the roads? He has got to do something on this. Will he make that commitment now?
Hon Mr Wrye: I think the member’s approach is perhaps just a bit shortsighted in that while we are always looking at GO stations where we can expand the parking services -- we have expanded services in a number of locations and will be expanding them in more -- surely he would agree with me that putting into place ever-expanded parking services is not the only solution we can put together.
We are looking at expansion of the parking services at some of the GO stations in the western portion of the east-west corridor, and I expect we will be making announcements in that regard in the not-too-distant future. But it is not, and I repeat for the honourable member’s benefit, the only solution. There is a multitude of solutions, one of which includes, of course, getting the federal government to involve itself in a balanced transportation system in our province.
TELEVISION EXTENSION IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr Miclash: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications. Only weeks ago the minister travelled throughout the north, at which time she heard a great amount about TENO, the television extension in northern Ontario program. She will know a lot of people spoke to her about this service and about the need for the service. As we know, we have a long and cold winter coming to the north, and many people have asked me about the program. I would like the minister at this time to maybe update us on the current status of this most important program.
Hon Ms Hart: I would like to thank the member for Kenora for giving me the opportunity of informing the House about this program, the TENO program, the extension of television services to the north. I will refrain from comment on the length of the winter in the north, but I would like to comment on how positive the results have been for this program.
There have been almost twice the number of applications that were initially anticipated. We have had 344 applications. As the member will appreciate, the application process involves not only my ministry but also the CRTC. To date, 123 of those applications have been approved by both the ministry and the CRTC. The amount of the grants has been in excess of $4.5 million.
Mr Miclash: As the minister stated, we do have a number of remaining applications for this program. I would ask the minister just to update us on the status of the remaining applications.
Hon Ms Hart: The CRTC will be beginning hearings, I believe it is on 21 November, to deal with the remainder of the applications that are outstanding. The window for the applications is now closed, as the member will know. It was originally a three-year program that was extended for a further year because the need was so great for families in the north to receive more television services, such as La Chaîne française, TVOntario and the legislative service. We anticipate that it should not be too long before the remainder of the applications will be processed and out.
Mr Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Would the minister explain why her ministry staff turns a blind eye to the wastage of timber cut in the bush?
Why does the ministry not deal with the waste already in cutover areas before allowing or licensing the harvesting of new crown areas?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I do not think that the ministry in any way condones waste cutting in the bush. The cutting plans are very carefully approved and very carefully monitored.
Mr Wildman: If that is the case, perhaps the minister could comment on a story that was in the Sault Ste Marie Star on 3 November, quoting Dave Oliver, a forestry technician for the federal Department of Forestry, who was speaking for himself, not for the federal government. He had 15O slides as evidence of blatant misuse of the forest. There was an appalling amount of timber left in the bush; harvesting practices are appalling. It is a crime there is such a huge demand for timber when they are not cleaning up what has already been harvested.
Why is the Ministry of Natural Resources allowing the kind of situation where we have got so much timber cut and left in the bush, rather than administering the program well to ensure that all timber cut is utilized?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think I would agree with the honourable member that it is extremely important that we manage those forests as well as possible and that we ensure there is not undue waste in the cutting practices. Since coming into the ministry, I have become aware of one or two situations in which people have provided some evidence that cut timber was left in the bush and not taken out of the bush at a timely point. The explanations for those have been given quite clearly. If there are very specific situations, obviously those have to be investigated.
LICENCE PLATE RENEWALS
Mr Wiseman: I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Transportation, and I thank him for staying. I have a copy of a letter to him from a man in Mississauga who has a very interesting hobby of checking licence plates to see how many expired stickers he can find. This gentleman tells me that in the last five years he has found some 1,600 and many of those dated back five years.
As the cost of licences in the greater Toronto area is about $90 apiece, this represents quite a loss in revenue. If more people in the province picked up the hobby that this gentleman has, perhaps we could keep the licence plates at the old level.
I would like to ask the minister what mechanisms his ministry has in place to stop this abuse, and has he consulted with other ministers, such as the Solicitor General (Mr Offer), to ensure that everyone renews his or her licence plates each year?
Hon Mr Wrye: I must say that I have from time to time, and I am sure the honourable member has on very rare occasions, seen stickers which have expired, and obviously, if those who are in the enforcement business see those stickers having expired, some kind of additional penalty over and above the $90 can result. We do not believe it to be a widespread problem, though we are obviously interested in the suggestion of the honourable member.
I am sure he would want, through his question, to remind those who are watching and those who look at this Hansard, that it is important at the appropriate time to renew one’s licence sticker. We are looking at ways of making that renewal perhaps a little more efficient than it has been in the past.
Mr Wiseman: It seems odd to me that somebody could drive in this province for five years without renewing his licence sticker, but I would like to ask a supplementary.
If so many people are driving with expired stickers -- as this gentleman has written to the minister, with a copy to me, saying he had seen 1,600, some of them over five years old -- I wonder if some of those same people are driving without insurance. Does the minister have any idea how many fall into this category, and what is his ministry planning to do to protect us from these people?
Hon Mr Wrye: I cannot give the member an exact answer other than that I can say to him that I think, without having seen the letter which I have not had a personal chance to see, that this gentleman’s hobby is obviously one in which he has looked at a very, very large number of cars over a period of time.
Just as there will be those who will not have renewed their licences -- and we are not even sure if that will have happened because in some cases the renewal sticker simply may have fallen off -- there will be, on occasion, individuals who will attempt to drive in this province without the required insurance. Clearly those individuals are risking serious actions by authorities should they, for one reason or another, come to the attention of those authorities.
However, I think the vast majority of the people of this province are good, law-abiding individuals who understand their obligations to renew their licences at the appropriate time and indeed to maintain an appropriate level of insurance.
The Speaker: New question; the member for Ottawa East.
Mr Grandmaître: Wait until they get an answer, Mr Speaker; they will be standing.
My question is to the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy. Canadians are increasingly aware of and concerned about the activities of the so-called drug lords, not only in Colombia and in the United States but in Canada and particularly in Ontario. I read a most revealing article in Maclean’s magazine entitled “Criminals Are Using Canada to Launder Billions of Dollars in Drug Profit.”
I know the federal government has enacted Bill C-61 to curtail some of the activities of these drug lords. My question is, how effective is Bill C-61 as far as Ontario is concerned?
Hon Mr Black: The member is aware of the fact that Bill C-61 was passed by the federal government approximately one year ago. There have been some prosecutions under that legislation and some convictions, I believe. It is probably premature at this point to comment on how effective that legislation will be. What I can tell him is that there have been discussions with a number of people regarding the effectiveness of the legislation and about possible revisions which might be entered into to make it more effective.
Mr Grandmaître: My understanding of Bill C-61 is that any moneys confiscated from individuals or groups will be returned to the federal Treasury. Is there a possibility of returning some of those dollars to the communities where they were confiscated or to the provincial Treasury so it can be distributed to needed programs combating illegal drugs?
Hon Mr Black: Under the terms of the legislation as it is presently written, all profits of crime which are seized by government or by police agencies must be returned to the federal government. However, I can tell my colleague that there have been some discussions, both by the Attorney General (Mr Scott) and by myself, with the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Doug Lewis, to ask if he might consider amendments to that legislation which would allow moneys to be returned, first of all to the province and second to communities, so that the profits of crime, and particularly illegal drug activity, might he used in the prevention fight against those activities.
Mr Kormos: I have a question of the Minister of Financial Institutions. I want to talk about his so-called no-fault benefits -- there is a lot of fault one can find with them, but he calls them no-fault benefits -- especially the so-called long-term care benefits.
Much ado has been made about the new plan level of $500,000, but when you look at subsection 8(3) of the proposed regulations you see that persons who would otherwise be entitled to long-term care, people who are injured seriously in a car accident, cannot receive any more than a maximum of $1,500 a month for this long-term care. That comes out to around $50 a day.
What that is going to do is force these persons into institutions, which at a rate of $50 a day are going to be operating at the most minimal and demeaning levels. The stated policy of this government is to support community living for disabled persons, yet the government’s new insurance plan -- the one the auto insurance companies wrote -- forces these disabled people into institutions. How can the minister possibly justify that?
Hon Mr Elston: Along the lines the honourable gentleman approached a question last week, his information is not fully complete. For instance, he raised the issue of Mr Heaslip last week, and we were told by him then that this man was going into the institution called Facility. Of course, Mr Heaslip is not in the Facility at all; in fact, he is insured with Allstate. He has been the recipient of a couple of speeding tickets. He has had a couple of at-fault accidents, a couple of joint-fault accidents and a couple of other accidents which were not his fault. He was placed in the Facility Association, the member for Welland-Thorold claimed. He made that claim without fully appreciating all the facts. I think the honourable gentleman probably is about as accurate in these circumstances as he was with Mr Heaslip’s case.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that we are putting forward a plan that fairly and in a balanced way compensates people who require long-term care. That is in the bill, and he knows it. I am quite happy to take this to committee right away. We can have a very good and brief discussion on second reading in principle and then get into the committee so we can examine all of these particular pieces under the act. I am open to listening to the member for Welland-Thorold, and I am up to substantiating all the factual materials which he provides for us and then to provide the factual circumstances as we find so that people can be fully informed about this, as I have just done with respect to Mr Heaslip.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for oral questions and responses.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I rise pursuant to the standing orders --
The Speaker: What is your point of order? Is it a point of order?
Mr Kormos: Pursuant to the standing orders, the response or the lack of response by the minister -- the gutless, pathetic lack of response by the minister --
The Speaker: Order. What standing order are you rising on?
Mr Kormos: The proverbial late show, Mr Speaker. I have done it before; I wish to do it again, please.
The Speaker: I am sure you will take the regular procedure.
Mr Ward moved that notwithstanding standing order 41, the notice of an opposition day in today’s Orders and Notices in the name of Mrs Marland be debated on Monday 20 November 1989 and that notwithstanding standing order 4(k), a second opposition day may be designated during the week of 19 November 1989.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Owen: I have a petition signed by 42 constituents of my riding objecting to the passing of the French-Languages Services Act and it is submitted this date with my signature.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INSURANCE STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Elston moved second reading of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance.
The Speaker: Does the minister have any opening comments?
Hon Mr Elston: I do, Mr Speaker. My comments will be brief. After some two and a half years of studies and reviewing the material, which has been widely distributed to the public, I am keen now to get into the committee stage of examination of this particular bill, but I want to have just a couple of moments to provide a review of what this bill is.
This bill is basically the package which reforms the insurance product. Let there be no mistake about that for anybody. The bill itself speaks to insurance and how people will be covered when they are injured, how they will be able to have access to the courts in the cases where there is serious injury and permanent injury to those people in Ontario. But I want the people to be doubly assured that we, as a government, have not stopped there; we have gone much further than that and, in fact, we have taken the advice of a number of people who have come forward to us over the years to provide us with advice about how we should deal with auto insurance costs, auto accidents and other things.
We have a comprehensive program. The program talks about safety that is required on the roads. It has talked to us about enforcement, it has talked to us about not being soft on bad drivers, and we have accepted all of that advice.
We have a program which is implementing highway traffic controls, we have a new sophisticated system which is being tested on a pilot project basis by the Ministry of Transportation in the province of Ontario and we have various types of computers and other machines which help us to ensure that we can manage congested highways the best way possible to ensure that there is a smooth, continuous and uninterrupted, as far as possible, movement of traffic in safety.
In addition to that, we have increased our surveillance so that we can catch the bad drivers, the speeders, the careless drivers, the dangerous drivers, and yes, the drunk drivers. We want to catch all of those people, and when we catch them, as is our way in this government, we will prosecute them in the most thorough fashion possible to ensure that they do not get away. When they are convicted, there will be higher fines. There will be a requirement that in fact a bad driver pays more under our system. Let there be no mistake about that. In addition to that, the impaired driver who is a repeat offender will be required to complete rehabilitation and other programs in a manner satisfactory before he or she can retrieve their privileges to drive on the roads of the province of Ontario.
This system does not treat bad drivers kindly. It requires people in the province to be good drivers and it requires the drivers of the province to be sensible drivers. It requires people to make sure that they do things that are safe and reasonable, like wearing seatbelts.
I was interested not long ago when visiting the city of Kitchener to find out that in the month of October, that regional police force discovered 1,078 people who had not been wearing their seatbelts. In fact, that demonstrates just what sort of results can occur from increased enforcement.
We expected, for instance, when we started the Ontario motorist protection plan, that an increase of about 10 per cent in the number of drivers wearing seatbelts would reduce by as many as 80 or 90 the number of deaths on the province’s highways. That is an important figure. With increased enforcement already under way in this province, we have taken a major step forward.
In addition to that, we know this program requires us to educate people better. We have heard in the newspapers and in the announcements by the minister responsible for transportation in the province that there is thought around the issue of a graduated licence, to allow people to learn to drive, to earn experience more safely. We have heard that there are other safety initiatives which are being tried as well, driving safety in the workplace programs. Also the use of daytime running lights by everybody in the province would be quite helpful as we deal with major volumes of traffic. All of that is part of the plan.
Bill 68 deals with the issues of how we manage the circumstance after the accident happens. We believe that we can reduce accidents first and foremost and that the people of the province will be better placed if we reduce those accidents, but under the circumstances, where there are the unfortunate incidents of accidents resulting in injury, then we have put forward a very balanced, rational and reasonable system. Any right-thinking person, any rational person, would be welcoming this system in a way that would commend them to the common-sense proof in the province of Ontario.
These people understand that what is required for the injured in the province is a very quick intervention, with assistance to sustain people while they are being rehabilitated as a result of an accident. That is why our system has brought in the no-fault benefits, almost tripling in value over what was previously there; $450 per week; $500,000 supplementary rehabilitation and medical; $500,000 long-term care.
In addition to that, it will retain the access to the courts for those people who are seriously and permanently injured so we can retain the courts for those circumstances where there has to be special consideration. Why are we doing this?
We are doing it for a couple of reasons. One, we want to be sure that the people in the province have a product which is balanced and affordable and which comes into play quickly, which is why we are requiring the no-fault benefits to be delivered by the insurers between 10 and 30 days after the claim is made; very fast intervention, with money to sustain people while they are in their most critical need, in the early days of their accident recuperation.
That is why we have decided that we need a system which puts more dollars in the pockets of the injured person. We not only require quick intervention, but we require intervention which allows the redistribution of the premium dollar so more of the premium dollar goes to the individual who needs it most, the injured person.
There will be people today in this House who like to oppose just about anything the government does, who will be siding with people who are not accident victims to ensure that they retain a hold on the premium dollar firmly clenched in a fist that seeks after the money which should go to the accident victims. There will be those people, and they will speak at length, but do not be fooled, Mr Speaker. What our system does is to ensure a redistribution of the premium dollar so we can give to those people who are injured, the money, the resources which they require to be rehabilitated in a way that puts them back in their homes as quickly as possible, back with their loved ones as quickly as possible, back in the workplace as quickly as possible, making sure that we have a compassionate and balanced approach to ensuring those people are rehabilitated as quickly and as thoroughly as is possible.
That is what this argument is about. The argument is about this policy being a very sound social safety net, to sustain the people who are hard done by as a result of an accident. A mere moment of inattention can cause very serious problems. In situations where that is a permanent problem caused for the accident victim, he can pursue his claim in the courts of this province and he can pursue it aggressively so that the judges of this province can, on an individual-by-individual basis, assess the amounts of money that are required.
This bill has come about as a result of a lot of study. Members will hear people talking a little bit later on about the Slater report, about Osborne, about the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board report and about some of their own thoughts on this. All of that is helpful because this government has, with open arms, received the advice of all kinds of people over the last two and a half years to put together as balanced and as rational a program as is practically possible and is humanly possible.
The fact of the matter is, we have listened to litigation lawyers, to politicians from Leeds-Grenville, to politicians from Welland-Thorold even before the current sitting member was in his place. We have listened to accident victims, we have listened to people who represent anti-drunk driving organizations. We have listened to insurers, we have listened to brokers, we have listened to adjusters, we have listened to consumers, we have listened to seniors. And we are still listening.
I will listen to a politician from Welland-Thorold, and I will listen to a politician from Leeds-Grenville, and I will listen, but the work of the moment is that which should be done in front of the committee, and I ask for them quickly to debate, in principle, the second reading of the bill and move it into committee so that we can address their problems in a forum which is much more thorough, which is much more intimate, and which allows the exchange of accurate assessment section by section of the bill as it is put.
What does this bill have? This bill has those triple benefits under no-fault scheme. This bill has quick access to those benefits. This bill has increased coverage so that students for the first time, so that seniors for the first time, and so that the unemployed for the first time can take advantage of no-fault insurance benefits that were not available before.
We have increased the coverage so the unpaid homemaker who previously had to have a total disability is able to receive more than $70 a week for 12 weeks so that homemaker can receive $185 a week, and so that a homemaker can receive benefits to assist in child care costs. And, yes, there will be people who say, “It’s not enough,” but those people always say, “It’s not enough.” As the people of the province weigh the words which come floating back in opposition, they will want to understand that it is the same old song played in a different forum by the same old voices: “It’s not enough. It’s not enough. It’s not enough.”
This is a balanced program. It is not a program isolated only to insurance product reform; but the insurance product reform itself is important because for the first it ensures that a very tough regulatory regime can stand in and assist the consumers in a way which they have never been constructively assisted before in dealing with insurance companies, in dealing with insurance product and in dealing with insurance problems.
That is why this bill is needed. That is why we are processing this through and hoping that we can have a quick second-reading debate so we can come to the committee, so we can establish the points for debate and so we can hear from interested people in a way which will assist us in broadening the coverage in a way that this bill contemplates.
Are we successful? The right-thinking, rational individual who assesses this on an overall view, devoid of interest in political haymaking, would say that in fact this is a balanced approach, that this is a good approach, that this is a sound approach to assist people over the calamity of an automobile insurance accident. What is more, they would say there is in this overall Ontario motorist protection plan more merit than they would speak about publicly because I will tell members there is merit in this plan in a way which even people who have been brought forward to press conferences have indicated in public.
There was a press conference just this morning where the people said, “There are good parts to this program. There are programs in here for which we have been asking for years, and this government has heard us,” and those people have endorsed those parts.
I will tell members that when they view this product as a whole, providing an affordable and balanced product so people can afford to have insurance and afford to be protected against the calamity of accident, they would endorse this, as I know they do, in a way which is wholehearted and without reservation.
This program is as perfect as is practically possible.
Mr Pouliot: Maximum $22,000 a year.
Hon Mr Elston: There are some people who, as we hear even now, barrack from the back benches of an opposition that wants to nationalize everything from insurance companies to mining companies to everything.
Mr Pouliot: That’s not what we said. Come on.
Hon Mr Elston: They wish to nationalize so that they can escape the real need for decision-making in a way which has been their mandate since almost days unrecallable.
I will tell members that I am here to listen, that I will listen to the barracking in favour of the interests of people who would want to keep premium dollars from going to the injured so they could retain those premium dollars for third-party intermediaries, so that they could keep those dollars for somebody other than the injured person.
That is not my mandate. My mandate and the mandate of the government under the leadership of the Premier (Mr Peterson) is to help the people who need the assistance to redistribute the premium dollars to the injured victim, to ensure that those people who, before they get into accidents, have the ability to afford and the availability of product from which to choose a product which meets their personal needs and indeed to craft, as any consumer would, a purchase which ensures that they will be sustained in their darkest hour of need.
That is what this product does. This product is balanced. It is affordable. This product is available. This product provides compassionate, quick service to the people who need it.
What more do we need to endorse it? We need second reading. We need second reading so we can hear on principle what the complaints are. What are the complaints? The complaints will be, “You should have more.” The complaints will be, “You have taken money from somebody and given it to the injured victim.” The complaints will be, “You haven’t heard enough information yet.”
We have heard information. We have taken the information for the past two and a half years and opened our arms to anybody who wished to speak to us. We have read the reports. We have digested the reports and we have used the material in the reports to put together for the first time, the most comprehensive plan that has ever been announced at one time with respect to automobile insurance.
Why? Because that was what was recommended, that insurance product alone is not enough. A reduction of accidents is critical and we have seen it and we have taken the steps to work towards reducing the accidents in the first place. We need second reading. I am sure that the interventions by the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos), prompted as he is by the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot). would be brief. I am sure that the intervention by the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) will likewise be brief, although I am sure he is going to be prompted by the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson). who is always able to provide us with his insight from the great riding of Wellington, Mount Forest and environs. He, I must say, above all, is almost always present and I thank him for being here today to listen to the balanced approach to insurance which we have in front of us.
We need to get into committee. I want to get into committee. I want to provide the people of this province with the assurance that there is in front of us that which is sensible, that which is balanced. I want to be in front of the committee so that we can hear the objections that are always at hand from, certainly, the opposition whose prime role is to say no to everything. I want to be able to make the changes that are necessary to make it even more perfect. I want to be able to process this so that the people of the province will have a new system in place in early 1990.
We need to be in committee. I would ask the members to speak quickly and bring their points forward so we can examine them in a forum which is much better than this to examine their concerns, that is, the legislative committee to which we will be taking this bill.
I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing me just a brief intervention and I know that now, since my remarks have let the member for Welland-Thorold and the member for Leeds-Grenville reassess what their remarks would have been, they will assist us in moving quickly to the legislative committee so we do not hold up the premium savings which are part of this overall program.
There should be no increase at all in rural Ontario; on average, eight percent in urban areas in Ontario. What more can you ask? We could ask for a quick second reading so we can go to committee and I charge my honourable critics with the responsibility.
Mr Kormos: The observation of the Minister of Financial Institutions that his comments might prompt me to say something other than what I had planned to say, in that respect and in that respect only, he is right, because I reflected on his background. I realized that if he were old enough to have been working in 1959, he would be working as a salesman at a Ford dealership touting Edsels. There are simply no two ways about it, because what we have here is the Edsel of an insurance plan.
I reflected further that his mother undoubtedly loves him. I am told that indeed the Minister of Financial Institutions, the member for Bruce, when he was smaller, was a boy scout, and that during a small-town parade, which they are wont to have in the riding of Bruce, his mother, along with the rest of the people of the community, was watching the boy scout troop march down the street. There was the Minister of Financial Institutions, so prominent with his gait contradicting all of the others. His mother nudged the person beside her and said, “Look, they are all out of step except for my son.
It is pathetic, I guess, to sit here and look at the minister so frantically trying to sell a bill of goods to the people of Ontario; not only trying to sell a bill of goods but trying to do it as fast as is possible. The minister was candid in that regard. The minister said, “Let’s get this thing pushed through as quickly as we possibly can.”
One of the aspects of the recognized need for urgency on the part of the government is that, on a daily basis, more and more people are realizing how pathetic this legislation is.
We are going to talk about some of the background, because background has to be talked about. What precedes this little package of insurance-company-drafted amendments warrants some comment.
The minister cannot ensure that premium rates are going to be reduced in this province. He cannot do that and he has not done that. Indeed, the minister’s own board, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, tells us that insurance premiums are going to continue to climb. They had some real concerns about this, but let’s stop talking about a no-fault scheme.
Let’s talk about a threshold system, because, really, that is what this little package of goodies from the minister and the insurance industry is all about. Let’s talk exactly, because the minister cannot tell us that this is going to reduce auto insurance premiums. Indeed, auto insurance premiums, expensive as they have ever been, are going to continue to rise and force more and more drivers off the road; indeed, force more and more drivers, sadly, into taking the frightening risk, for themselves and for others using the highways, of driving without insurance.
In the past several weeks and months we have talked about how this legislation was going to ensure, not lower premiums, not that everybody who drives would have insurance available to him, but that some 90 per cent to 95 per cent of innocent, injured accident victims in the province were going to get nothing -- not a penny, zero, not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime -- for their pain and suffering.
Just recently we found out that in the state of Michigan, where the threshold is less onerous than the one being proposed by the auto insurance industry here, that threshold, a more relaxed one, had the effect of denying 94 per cent of accident victims any compensation for their pain and suffering. If that was the case in Michigan, we know that indeed it is more likely that we are talking about 97 per cent, 98 per cent, maybe 99 per cent of all innocent, injured accident victims that are going to be denied any compensation. They are not going to receive a nickel -- not a dime, not a penny, nothing -- for their pain and suffering.
That is what this legislation is going to ensure. It is going to guarantee, it is going to make that a promise -- not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime for the pain and suffering, for the loss of enjoyment of life for well over 95 per cent of all innocent, injured accident victims.
What else is this going to guarantee? It is going to guarantee this: This legislation constitutes an attack on so many people and on so many classes and groups of people in the province that, quite frankly, and I know Mr Speaker will agree with me, the legislation is not just pathetic but it is, oh, so immoral.
This legislation is a real attack by the Liberal government on small business people, on self-employed people and entrepreneurs, a class of persons in all of our communities we recognize as making such a valuable and significant contribution to the economies of our respective communities; a class of people who indeed we value and we recognize for their contribution to our society as a whole, small business people or small entrepreneurs.
What this legislation that the insurance companies wrote and that the Liberals are trying to foist on to us is going to guarantee is that if you are self-employed, you are not going to recover a penny for loss of profit and losses associated with disruption of business when you are forced out of your business because of the injuries you suffer as an innocent, injured accident victim. Indeed, because of that, because of this insurance companies legislation, small entrepreneurs and small business people all over Ontario are going to be losing their businesses and recovering not a penny, not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime, nothing, as innocent, injured accident victims.
This legislation is not only an attack on small business people, entrepreneurs, people so valuable to our province and in our communities; it is an attack on working people across Ontario, because what this legislation drafted, prepared and put forward at -- dare I say the “request”? -- no, the instruction or command of the insurance industry is going to ensure and guarantee is that if you are an employee and you work for a wage or salary, you will be unable to recover your full loss of wages.
It is going to guarantee that many, many accident victims who suffer -- and these are the ones who suffer serious injuries -- will, notwith-standing that, be unable to recover for many of those serious physical injuries. I am talking about broken bones, scarring, torn muscles and the pain and suffering that accompanies these and other types of injuries. That is what this legislation guarantees.
This legislation, drafted by the insurance companies, presented at the command of the insurance companies by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park, is going to guarantee that you will recover not a nickel, not a cent, not a dime for any emotional or psychological injuries such as depression, shock or anxiety.
It is going to guarantee that no matter what you earn, no matter how much you earn in the shop, in the factory, in the workplace, the very most that you can recover is $450 a week and that many -- indeed I tell members most -- innocent, injured accident victims are going to receive a lot less.
What it is going to guarantee is that more and more people will not be getting regular insurance coverage in the province. Indeed that information came from a most interesting source. It came from Don McKay, general manager of Facility Association. As a lot of us have learned, Facility Association is the high-risk insurer; traditionally, the insurer of last resort.
It has undergone some remarkable growth in the recent past. Indeed, in the last year, 1988-89, it has more than doubled in terms of the number of drivers in Ontario who are forced to the Facility, where the rates are two, three and four times what they are in the regular market, guaranteed to be literally measured not in the hundreds of dollars but in the thousands of dollars.
The new people being forced into Facility Association -- and I know members understand this -- the hundreds of thousands of people being forced into Facility Association, with these premium rates in the, not hundreds of dollars but literally thousands of dollars, are sadly not just the high-risk and poorer drivers but people from all walks of like, people of all ages, people of both genders, people from all parts of Ontario who have been denied insurance coverage by their regular insurer and are hence forced into this incredibly expensive Facility Association.
As I say, this new legislation from the government is going to guarantee that more and more people are forced into Facility. I spoke of what Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, had to say. This is what he had to say: that as far as they are able to determine, “If the no-fault proposal as presently drafted” -- that is the one we are talking about right here, now, in second reading – “ever becomes law” -- and I appreciate that there is a tone almost of despair on the part of Mr McKay when he writes that, when he says that if it ever does become law -- and there is almost a plea, a wishful thinking, perhaps fecklessness but none the less optimism on his part hoping that it will not. But indeed, he indicates that if this legislation that the Liberals are putting before the Legislature now ever becomes law, “there will be little or no change in the class or volume of business directed to Facility Association.”
He goes on to write, “The increase in no-fault benefits will create a new class of borderline risks, and if the legislation proceeds as it is presently drafted, it is highly likely that underwriters will use ‘avoidance tactics.’” He has “avoidance tactics” here in quotation marks. That is nice language, a little bit of newspeak, some neologisms, if you will. Avoidance tactics: that means they are not going to cover, they are not going to provide insurance coverage for those people.
What people are we talking about that the underwriters, the insurers will use the avoidance tactics with? Mr McKay, general manager of Facility Association, writes that underwriters will use avoidance tactics on such classes as seasonal workers, small self-employed contractors -- once again, entrepreneurs, small business people in the cities, towns, villages, all across Ontario -- unskilled labourers, workers in the hospitality sector and a host of other similar occupations.
Mr McKay, incredibly, but it is an incredible revelation and indeed so realistic, writes that occupational underwriting will be the watchword and Facility Association will be the recipient of those who do not meet the underwriters’ guidelines. Occupational underwriting -- surely that warrants some reflection. What does that mean, occupational underwriting? It means exactly what he says it means. It means that certain classes of workers -- seasonal workers, unskilled labourers, workers in the hospitality sector, self-employed contractors and, he writes, a host of other similar occupations -- these people are going to be the subjects of avoidance tactics.
That means that they are not going to be insured by regular insurers; that these people are going to be passed on to Facility Association; that they are going to swell the ranks of Facility Association as they have never been before; that they are going to be paying extraordinary insurance premiums.
There is an explanation for that, just as there is an explanation for why it is that if you are self-employed, if you are an entrepreneur, a small business person, you will be unable to recover the loss of profit and losses associated with disruption of business when you are unable to attend to your business because of the injuries you suffer as an innocent accident victim.
Let me illustrate how that could possibly happen, because one finds that prospect so repugnant that it is hard to imagine any government in 1989 presenting legislation that would have that effect. But this is how this insurance companies legislation -- and there is no doubt about the fact that they drafted it; no doubt whatsoever. We will get into that later on this afternoon.
But this is what is going to happen, and let’s use an example. Let’s talk about a 40-year-old self-employed business person who, after expenses, earns $50,000 a year and then suffers breaks to both his legs when he is struck by another vehicle which fails to stop at a stop sign. As a result of the two broken legs, as a result of that injury, this business person suffers, and as an innocent accident victim, he is unable to work in his business for one and a half years. This is not outlandish. This is not far-fetched. This example, quite frankly, would probably hit close to home for a whole lot of people listening right this afternoon. As a result, this business person goes bankrupt. His business not only goes bankrupt after he is disabled for one and a half years, but it is projected that it will take him five years to re-establish the business -- that is not unrealistic either -- so that he can begin to earn the $50,000 a year again.
Disabled for a year and a half, you do not earn your income for that year and a half, right? Your income was $50,000 and you go bankrupt as a result. There is a double indignity: one, you are denied the income that you have worked so hard to build up, $50,000 a year, for a year and a half; two, in the process of your being unable to attend to your business, the business goes bankrupt and it is going to be five more years -- you will have to go through the startup process all over again -- before you get back to that point where you can earn that $50,000 your hard work had resulted in.
The pain and suffering of two broken legs for a 40-year-old person, for anybody, is not an insignificant amount of pain and suffering. At the very least, there is the loss of mobility. Would fairminded people think that a person who suffers pain and suffering as an innocent accident victim should be compensated for the pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life? Of course. Would a fairminded person expect that an innocent accident victim should be compensated for the loss of income that flowed from the injuries and the accident? Of course.
And here we have loss of income over a year and a half of $50,000 for the first year and $25,000 for the half-year following, a $75,000 income loss by virtue of being an innocent victim. We understand that the business went bankrupt and it is going to take five years for this business person to get back into a condition where he or she can be making that $50,000 a year again. So a fairminded person, surely, Mr Speaker -- and I know you feel this way, as a fairminded person -- would recognize that the innocent, injured, accident victim should receive compensation for his losses over the subsequent five years, losses that would total around $100,000.
What does the insurance industry, and the new legislation, say about this innocent victim, the 40-year-old small business person? He or she has worked, and undoubtedly worked hard, to develop a business that earns him or her an income of some $50,000 a year. What does the insurance industry in Ontario say about that person, and what does it say along with its cohort the Minister of Financial Institutions? What do they say should be the compensation made available to that person and the damages for pain and suffering? Not a cent. Not a penny. Not a nickel. He has two broken legs and is immobile for one and a half years. For the damages for pain and suffering and the compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life that the 40-year-old business person would be entitled to, if the insurance companies have their way, not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime. Why? It is because his injury is not permanent, and therefore this innocent accident victim has no right to claim pain and suffering.
Let’s remember he had been earning $50,000 a year and was immobilized for a year and a half. He lost an income of $75,000 as a result of being the victim of a careless driver, a negligent driver, a drunk driver, a reckless driver or what have you. His lost income is $75,000. Would fair-minded people expect that the income should be restored to him? He was the innocent victim. Of course.
As a result of having both of his legs injured by, as I say, a drunk, reckless, careless, negligent driver, he has lost income of $75,000. What do the insurance companies in Ontario think he should receive by way of compensation for that lost income, $75,000? No way. Because the legislation that the insurance industry wrote and that it is presenting to the Legislature today has a cap, has a max, has a ceiling on the amount of income replacement that anybody can be entitled to, and that is $450 a week. That comes to $35,100 in a year and a half. Two broken legs, an innocent victim is out $75,000 and the insurance industry says he should get $35,100 for a year and a half.
Let me tell you what that $450 a week -- and that is the maximum, Mr Speaker -- let me tell you what that means. That means an income that for a family of four here in the city of Toronto is below the poverty level, and that is the maximum.
Mr Pouliot: Below the poverty level?
Mr Kormos: Below the poverty level. My goodness, what fairminded person would impose poverty on children and spouses of people who are the innocent accident victims of drunk, careless, reckless, negligent drivers?
Take a 40-year-old business person who worked so hard to generate his business and earn a good income, the one for whom it takes five years after recovery to develop that business, because it went bankrupt, back to where it was so that he can once again earn $50,000 a year, but who loses $100,000 of income in the course of those five years. What do the auto insurance companies in Ontario think he should get, as an innocent victim, in compensation for that future income loss? I will tell you, Mr Speaker. You know the answer, but I will tell you. Zero, not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime, not a cent, nothing.
This scheme drafted up in the boardrooms of the private corporate auto insurance industry here in Ontario ensures that an injured person is only entitled to get these no-fault benefits until he is physically able to return to work, regardless of whether he has a job to go back to. What a pathetic proposition, to tell the people of Ontario that this type of scheme is going to be imposed on them, a scheme that would ensure that an innocent victim, like this small business person, gets not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering for the two broken legs, not a penny for future income loss when he is out of pocket $100,000, but a fraction of his real income loss.
Perhaps this is a good time to put this scenario before you, Mr Speaker. What happens here is that you are entitled to 80 per cent of your income up to a maximum of $450. That means that there is not a single person, regardless of how little he might make as an income, who is going to get full compensation for his wage or income loss. We know that.
What it means is that even if the drunk or reckless or careless or negligent driver who strikes you and breaks both your legs does so in a Jaguar and has an incredible income, is a wealthy person, even if the chairman of the board of directors of our wealthiest bank were to strike you and break both your legs, you would not be able to go to that person and say: “My income loss was $38,000 as a result of your injuring me. It was your fault. You were drunk, you were reckless, you were negligent, you were careless.”
What this legislation does is protects drunk, careless, reckless, negligent drivers by ensuring that, regardless of how wealthy they are, regardless of their means, they will never have to compensate you for what they have done to you. That is such a sad, sad state of affairs, especially when the maximum that you receive under this insurance company scheme is an amount that, as I told the House, here in the city of Toronto constitutes an income for a family of two parents and two kids, a family of four, that places them below the poverty level.
We are talking about an auto insurance scheme dreamed up and drafted by the private corporate auto insurance industry here in Ontario that is going to force innocent injured accident victims and their children into poverty, and that is so sad.
Let us talk about the fact that under this scheme, written by the auto insurance industry, an injured innocent accident victim will be unable to recover, will not receive a penny, not a nickel, not a dime in compensation for many serious physical injuries, including things like broken bones, scarring, torn muscles, and, yes, the pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life that accompanies these injuries.
What fairminded person could tolerate a regime that would impose that on the people of Ontario? What fairminded person would tolerate a regime that would impose that on the victims of drunk, careless, reckless, negligent drivers? Let me tell the House that is going to happen if the Liberals get this legislation passed.
Here is an example: A 12-year-old kid, just a little person, just a kid, a student, is injured when a truck travelling on Highway 401 goes out of a control, crosses the median and collides with a car in which that little kid, that little 12-year-old is a passenger. This youngster, boy or girl, as a result of that truck crossing the median after going out of control, has a broken back requiring him or her to be in the hospital for traction for four months.
These are not outlandish examples. These are situations, scenarios, that those of us who are fortunate merely read about, and many of us have either experienced personally or through persons close to us: a broken back, in the hospital in traction for four months, a 12-year-old kid, who then has to spend an additional year at home recovering, a further year.
Of course, a broken back, in traction for four months, that youngster, 12-year-old, an innocent, is a passenger in a motor vehicle that is struck by a truck that goes out of control and crosses over the median, an innocent injured accident victim, a youngster with a broken back, four months of traction in the hospital, missing that school year and then having to stay at home recovering for a further year.
Obviously he is unable to return to school for the four months of traction and, as we know -- and, again, nothing at all outlandish about this example -- has to spend another year at home recovering. So he misses his second school year. Now that is pain and suffering that none of us would wish upon anybody, pain and suffering that for most of us is unimaginable, incalculable, especially for a little kid for whom the ability to rationalize and be logical about the series of events that have been imposed upon him is perhaps more difficult.
There is this little youngster, the little 12-year-old with a broken back in traction for four months in the hospital and left at home recuperating inside the house for another year, in pain and suffering that for most of us is unimaginable. What do the assurance companies of Ontario, the private corporate insurance companies of Ontario, want to provide to that person by way of however modest compensation for the incredible, excruciating pain and suffering, a real, genuine interference with the enjoyment of life? What, in this legislation that we are told about by the Minister of Financial Institutions, is going to be provided to that person by way of compensation for pain and suffering? Not a cent. Not a nickel, not a dime, not a penny, nothing.
Not a cent for the unimaginable pain and suffering suffered by a little 12-year-old victim of a careless, reckless, negligent or drunken driver. The youngster could not complete the school year that he was in when his back was smashed by the careening truck, could not go to school the year after that because he had to stay at home recovering for another year, had two years delayed entry into the workforce. He will be two years behind in his schooling and two years behind his peers when it comes to earning income out there in the real world.
Surely right-minded people, fairminded people, expect that there should be some compensation to this youngster for the two years’ delayed entry into the workforce, the fact that that youngster, when he is an adult of working age, is going to be two years behind his peers. What does the auto industry in Ontario want to provide to that person by way of some modest compensation? Once again not a cent, nothing, zero, not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime. I know that members believe that that is the most unfair regime that could ever be imposed upon anybody.
We can leave the little 12-year-old student. What we are talking about, what we are illustrating here, is this legislation, the stuff that is written up in the boardrooms of the private auto insurance industries here in Ontario. We are going to talk about that. They asked for it, and by goodness, if this government has its way it is going to give it to them, but it is up to fairminded people to stop it.
Let’s talk about a 50-year-old housewife who is injured when a vehicle backs into her in a parking lot. She suffers a broken right ankle which requires surgery and is unable to do her housework for one year. A broken ankle for a 50-year-old woman is, once again, undoubtedly a well-beyond uncomfortable, a painful experience. Loss of enjoyment of life is undoubtedly there. Any fairminded person would recognize that in regard to a 50-year-old woman whose ankle is broken when a drunk, negligent, careless, reckless driver, whichever you will, backs into her in a parking lot.
That broken right ankle requires surgery and she is unable to do her housework for a year, but for pain and suffering she gets not a penny, not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime, nothing, zero. For the cost of housekeeping expenses for a period of, let’s say one year, the one year that she is not capable of doing that -- it is not her fault. The government keeps on talking about this legislation as if it were no-fault. Here is a lady, and it is not her fault. Does she get any compensation for the pain and suffering? No. Does she get the cost of housekeeping expenses? No. She will have to fight for it. Boy, will she have to fight for it. She will have to fight for $185 a week, total recovery, if she can get it.
The insurance companies in this province have demonstrated that they are real good at charging premiums. They are real good at taking money out of the wallets and pockets of drivers in Ontario. But they are not so good at paying out compensation, are they, Mr Speaker? The private auto corporate insurance industry here in Ontario has the proverbial short arms in deep pockets.
Here is a 50-year-old woman, and it is not her fault. The Minister of Financial Institutions calls this no-fault legislation. Well, it is not her fault and she gets not a penny for pain and suffering. She does not receive any compensation for the expenditure that she has to put out for housekeeping services on a weekly basis for the 52 weeks that she is disabled, and if she fights for it, she might get the $185 a week. What fairminded person would impose that, would expect the people of Ontario to say that is acceptable? Not you, Mr Speaker. I know that. No fairminded person would expect the people of Ontario to accept that as an acceptable regime.
I spoke a few minutes ago about the fact that you cannot recover, you cannot receive -- the insurance companies made sure that this legislation guarantees that you cannot get any compensation. They do not want to have to pay it out, so you cannot get any compensation for emotional or psychological injuries, like depression, shock or anxiety. Anybody who has sadly had any experience with the trauma experienced by victims of motor vehicle accidents knows that these emotional and psychological injuries, depression, shock, anxiety, are very real. But the legislation that this crowd over on the other side wants to impose upon drivers in Ontario guarantees that you will not get a penny for very real pain, very real injuries that are psychological or emotional.
Let me give you an example, Mr Speaker. Once again, this is not an outlandish scenario, one that sadly is repeated regularly here in Ontario and across the driving world, one that I know some of us have had the misfortune and the agony and pain of sharing with loved ones. Let me run this past you, Mr Speaker: a mother crossing an intersection on a green light with her daughter, pedestrians. The little girl is hand in hand with her mother crossing the street on a green light. They are doing everything they are supposed to do, and the government calls this no-fault. These people are not at fault. They are not doing anything wrong.
They are doing exactly what they should be doing, a mother and her little toddler, hand in hand walking across the street on a green light. A driver runs through the red, striking the daughter, killing her in full view of the mother -- not an outlandish scenario, Mr Speaker. The mother goes into nervous shock, suffers severe psychiatric illness in witnessing her own daughter’s death, a little toddler. The mother had been working, making $25,000 a year, but she required three years of psychiatric help before she was able to return to her work.
The pain and suffering of a mother who witnesses her toddler’s death, who sees her daughter’s body crushed by a speeding vehicle, the tragedy of that is so profound that there are not any of us who could not have all of the sympathy that we could muster for a parent in that situation. A mother whose toddler’s life is snuffed out while the child is still hand in hand with her: It is trite -- I will say it -- but there is the pain and suffering of witnessing her daughter’s death and suffering the nervous breakdown. What fair-minded person could suggest that a mother in this position would not suffer some real pain and suffering?
Under this auto insurance industry’s new scheme, does she receive a penny for that pain and suffering? Not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime, not a penny. Lost income: $25,000 a year because she is not able to work for three years after her daughter’s death. I know you know, Mr Speaker, because I know you are a skilled person in your trade, in your craft. I know you are a fair-minded person and I know you would join me in agreeing that no fair-minded person in Ontario would suggest that a mother in these circumstances should not receive compensation for such pain and suffering as she undoubtedly suffers and for the loss of income, a pecuniary loss, an economic loss.
There is no fair-minded person in Ontario who would say she should not be compensated for that, but the private corporate auto insurance industry in Ontario and the Minister of Financial Institutions do not think she should receive any compensation for that pain and suffering. No, not a penny, not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime. Those same people do not think she should receive a penny to compensate her for the significant wage loss she has experienced.
Again, they call this no-fault, but this lady was not at fault. If this is a no-fault system, why do they punish the people who are not at fault, such as this lady, this mother of the toddler? No fair-minded person in Ontario would ever suggest that is right.
Let me run this example past the members. A 37-year-old high school teacher in Ontario earning $40,000 a year is hit by a drunk driver while crossing at a crosswalk. This high school teacher strikes her head against the pavement, receiving a concussion that leaves her with severe headaches for a period of one year so that she is unable to teach for that year.
She has also accumulated sick days at work totalling 40 weeks. Again, for this teacher accumulating 40 weeks of sick days, that is an investment by her employer and by herself. Now, for damages for pain and suffering under this regime proposed by the Minister of Financial Institutions, not a cent. Wage replacement: She has lost income of $40,000 and she does not receive a penny for the damages she has suffered, for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life and for lost income of $40,000.
Again, they call this a no-fault system. She is not at fault. There is no fault that can be attributed to her. Surely her economic loss should be compensated for, at the very least by virtue of her not being at fault. But what does she receive from the auto insurance industry in Ontario if this legislation gets rammed through? She receives $40 to $50 a week for only 12 weeks: $5,400. The reason she only gets 12 weeks -- do not forget she was off work for a year -- is that all accumulated sick time has to be used first without any credit before no-faults are paid. In other words, she has to use up the accumulated sick time that she has worked for in her own employment before she can collect compensation from the drunk driver, reckless driver, careless driver, negligent driver who hit her. She is not at fault.
I know the members will agree with me that this is not fair. One last example: I want to talk about a 35-year-old factory worker earning $800 a week. He suffers a whiplash injury when his vehicle is rear-ended while he is stopped to make a left-hand turn. Once again, they call this no-fault insurance. He is surely not at fault. He is rear-ended. He is doing everything he is supposed to be doing.
His neck injury is such that it prevents him from working for one year because of the heavy lifting and twisting involved in his job. It is a whiplash injury that is so serious he is off work for a year, and what does he get by way of damages for pain and suffering? Under this regime suggested by the government of the day, what does he get for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life, for the pain concurrent with that whiplash injury so serious that it forces him to be off work for one year because he cannot lift and carry on as he did before at his $800-a-week job?
Again, this is not an outlandish example, but one that is entirely reasonable, one that is repeated regularly across Ontario. Damages for pain and suffering: What does the auto insurance industry want to give him by way of compensation for the genuine pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that he experiences? Not a penny, not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime; nothing, not a penny.
His lost income is $41,600. His income was $800 a week, but the maximum allowed -- no working person can ever receive his real lost income under this regime -- is $450 a week. He has lost income of $41,600. What is he allowed by way of compensation? He is allowed $23,400 when he has lost income of $41,600; it is almost half of what he was earning.
We know that his day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month expenses were not reduced by one half. We know that his children did not eat one half of what they ate before he suffered this injury. Again, he was not at fault. We know that their clothing needs and recreational needs were not one half of what they were before he was injured at the hands of a drunken, reckless, careless, negligent driver.
What does the auto insurance industry in Ontario want to provide him by way of compensation? He is not at fault. This is called a no-fault scheme. This factory worker is not at fault. He gets just slightly more than half of what his wage loss is, and he is forbidden, forbidden by law, from seeking the balance of his real wage loss from the perpetrator, from the negligent, drunken, reckless, careless party.
There is not a fair-minded person in the province who finds that an acceptable proposition. I have suggested more than a few times that the auto insurance industry drafted the legislation. The Minister of Financial Institutions says: “No, this is made in Ontario. It is not imported.” It was made in Ontario, all right. It was made in the boardrooms on Bay Street and wherever else in Ontario the private corporate auto insurance industry has its little head offices. London is a big seat. Guelph has a few too, I am told. Interesting.
This warrants reference to the Osborne inquiry. Mr Justice Osborne was called upon by the government of Ontario to make some inquiries and reach some conclusions about some problems with the auto insurance industry here in Ontario. Boy, did the government ever know that there were problems, bet your boots.
It is interesting that the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a lobbyist on behalf of the private corporate auto insurance industry, among others, proposed a threshold that was remarkably similar to the Michigan threshold. Mr Justice Osborne at page 469 of his report writes what that threshold is that the Insurance Bureau of Canada asked for. They proposed a “verbal threshold of ... ‘death, permanent serious impairment of a body function or serious permanent disfigurement.’” The IBC, when it proposed that threshold, said that what that would do was exclude 92 per cent of injured accident victims.
What is fascinating is that the threshold contained in the government’s bill is more onerous than the threshold asked for by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. It is more restrictive. As it is, the IBC was, it appears, fudging just a bit when it said 92 per cent because we are told by members of the bar from Michigan that the Michigan threshold has excluded 94 per cent in Michigan.
The IBC, lobbyist for the private corporate auto insurance industry here in Ontario, got more than it asked for. The government presents to us a bit of legislation with a threshold that is more onerous, more restrictive, crueller than what was proposed by the IBC and indeed one that will exclude, because it is more restrictive, because it is more onerous, not 92 per cent, not 94 per cent, but in excess of 94 per cent of accident victims from receiving any compensation for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life.
It will exclude all those people we spoke of in the last few minutes: the factory worker, the school teacher, the 12-year-old kid, the mother of the toddler whose child is smashed into the asphalt in front of her eyes.
Mr Justice Osborne further, in talking on the IBC threshold -- I am looking at page 552 of this report -- writes: “It is plain that the IBC threshold” -- the one that is less restrictive, less onerous than the one proposed by the government in its legislation – “is designed to keep claimants out of the system for cost reasons, not to let the seriously injured in.” It is designed to enhance, improve and increase profits for the insurance industry. It is designed to keep people out, not to let people into the compensation system.
Much has been made -- it is good public relations for the government to talk about it -- that this is no-fault insurance. What a misnomer. What an incredible misnomer. There are lots of faults with this scheme, let me tell members.
People have been putting them out on a daily basis, people from all walks of life; oh, yes, members of the bar, lawyers. Why not? Lawyers who do personal injury work, personal injury litigation and fight for injured people know better than anybody does the impact injuries have on a victim’s daily life, the impact it has on their families and the impact it has on their futures.
I will tell members this: No fair-minded person would want an injured accident victim to have to fare for himself or herself with the insurance industry. It is not just the members of the bar or those who do personal injury work, those who fight for innocent victims of drunk, careless, reckless, negligent drivers. It is people who belong to organizations like PRIDE, People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, whose goals are to fight impaired driving in Ontario and who indeed have been successful in the past in influencing the government on some government policy and legislation, and it is victims of auto accidents across Ontario and their families, who know the heavy toll imposed upon an injured, innocent accident victim, who are joining along in saying, “This legislation is so horribly bad.”
Let’s talk for just a minute about no-fault legislation as compared to what the government is proposing, because that is a really important distinction. This is not a no-fault scheme. Come on now. We have had so-called no-fault benefits in Ontario for a long time. They are called schedule C or section B benefits. Since around 1978, they have been at the current figure. They were introduced some half a dozen years prior to that. Since 1978 we have had no-fault benefits. We have had first-party benefits, wage replacement regardless of fault, certain medical expenses and rehabilitative expenses, and indeed death benefits regardless of fault.
There has been this element of no-fault around for a long time. No-fault does not mean no fight, because what people have learned since 1972 is that to get your no-faults, often-times you have to fight and you have to fight a whole lot indeed.
The state of Michigan has a threshold system such as the one the government is trying to impose, here and indeed one that is more liberal than the onerous, right-wing, pro-auto insurance one being imposed by these guys.
Mr Justice Osborne says this about the experience in Michigan. This is page 479 of his report. Mr Justice Osborne writes about Michigan, “There is also a considerable amount of first-party litigation, that is, litigation in which an insured sues his own insurers, usually over the nonpayment of no-fault benefits.”
What gives here? What is being addressed? The experience in Michigan -- again, it is not endemic, is not unique to Michigan. I have spoken to victims and to lawyers here in Ontario who for the last good chunk of time have had to fight with their own insurers to collect their modest, no-fault benefits.
There is a suggestion that the lawyers of Ontario are basically grinding their own axe. I have a somewhat Shakespearean view of lawyers myself. I am not at all fearful to be critical of lawyers. Far from it. In many respects, I know whereof I speak. But let’s not worry about the lawyers. I do not care what scheme gets introduced. Lawyers are like those pigs over in France that they use to sniff out the truffles underneath the surface of the earth. Lawyers are going to find a way to make a living one way or another. Lawyers are going to make handsome livings whether the Minister of Financial Institutions and the auto insurance industry get their oppressive scheme introduced in this province or not. Lawyers are going to find ways to earn good incomes; no two ways about it.
Let’s not feel any sympathy for lawyers. The circumstances quite frankly do not warrant it. If anything, lawyers will find themselves involved in as much litigation under this government’s scheme -- it is not a scheme; it is a scam. Under this scam, lawyers are going to enjoy as many revenues as they ever had. You know why, Mr Speaker. I do not have to tell you this because you understand the legislation. Just as in Michigan, we are going to find a considerable amount of first-party litigation here in Ontario; that is, litigation in which an insured, a victim, has to sue his own insurers, usually over the nonpayment of no-fault benefits.
The leopard does not change its spots. People have had to fight for their no-fault benefits under the current schedule C, section B scheme. They are going to have to fight for them under the no-fault scheme that the government proposes here.
The minister is right: $450 is a far more attractive figure than $140. That $140 figure is over a decade old. It was not indexed. It should have been. We know that. It should have been indexed so that it grew with inflation over the passage of time: that is, if one is going to be generous. It was a mere oversight on the part of the drafters when they made it $140, when they increased it from what it had been prior, in 1972. Or maybe it was yet another attack or assault on working people in Ontario.
They have done it again, because the proposed wage replacement, so-called, no-fault figure of $450 once again is not indexed. It is going to start deteriorating year after year after year and, within a short time, it is going to become as obsolete as $140 quickly became. It cannot be considered an oversight any more, because these guys know better now, when they have been told it a million times -- not a million times, a thousand times -- about the $140 under the old schedule C, section B benefits.
Hon Mr Elston: There he goes, exaggerating again.
Mr Kormos: It was only 900 times.
Hon Mr Elston: We can talk him down.
Mr Kormos: Have they indexed the new figure? No. Is it an oversight this time? No. Is it an attack on working people in this province? Is it an attack on innocent injured accident victims? You bet your boots, Mr Speaker. Pathetic.
Let me go one step further. You are further ahead under the old system, pathetic as it is, of $140. Why? Because, as it inevitably did, if the $140 does not constitute your full wage replacement, at least you can go to the drunk driver, the negligent driver, the careless driver, the reckless driver and collect the rest of it to make up your full wage loss. Can you under this regime? No, not a chance. You will not collect a penny to top that up so that it reflects your true, complete wage loss.
What fair-minded person in Ontario would think that is right?
The no-fault is not really no-fault because a no-fault system is one in which all persons receive all of their compensation regardless of fault through one system without recourse to the tort system. What is new about this legislation is not the no-fault, because we have had that for a long time anyway. What is new is the threshold, the threshold that we read about in Mr Justice Osborne’s report that is designed not to let people in but to keep people out.
We are talking about a threshold that exceeds the wish list of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. We are talking about a threshold that is more onerous and more rigorous than the one in Michigan, the one that we know excludes 94 per cent and in Ontario will exclude even more than 94 percent of innocent, injured accident victims.
We are also talking about a threshold system that was treated rather disapprovingly by Mr Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. The Ontario auto insurance board, that multimillion-dollar endeavour, was some make-work project. Wow.
What happened was that back in the spring of 1987 --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): I apologize to the honourable member for Welland-Thorold. He has not concluded his remarks. However, he has given notice about his dissatisfaction with an answer to a question and, pursuant to our standing orders, such dissatisfaction has to be made known to the assembly before five o’clock. That being the case, pursuant to standing order 33, the member for Welland-Thorold has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given today by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston) concerning automobile insurance. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.
Mr Kormos: What happened was that back in the spring of 1987, during the period of accord, enough cages were rattled over there that even some of the more obtuse members of the government conceded that there was a real crisis out there in the auto insurance world in Ontario. Indeed, in the four and a half years prior to 1987, auto insurance premiums had increased some 65 per cent in Ontario. People across the province recognized that there was a real state of crisis. More and more people were finding their increased premiums thoroughly, literally and completely unaffordable.
It was reaching a point where the people -- good drivers -- who needed their cars on a daily basis for mobility to get around, senior citizens and people who lived in the rural parts of Ontario, for whom buying groceries was a 20-kilometre or greater trip, were finding themselves having to put their cars up on blocks because they simply could not afford to drive them any more; or more and more of them were taking the risky road of driving without insurance, and as I indicated some short time ago, were a risk not only to themselves but to the whole community, something that could and does bear with it an incredible social cost.
In recognizing that people were incredibly concerned and that there was a crisis out there, the government announced it was going to take steps. The government noted the shabby treatment -- and that was the language that was used -- of the insurance consumer by the auto insurance industry and said that things had to be put into effect to put an end to that shabby treatment. The government made a whole bunch of promises. Another oxymoron: Liberal promise.
The government promised a board that was going to regulate rates. The government promised that it was going to take control of the statistical database. The government promised that it was going to create the office of insurance advocate, which I should say when one reflects on that promise makes one very sceptical about the promises contained in this legislation about a supervisory board.
The government promised these things, and then the penultimate promise came in September 1987, some three days before the last general election. Knowing full well that people across Ontario were dissatisfied with the Liberal performance over the issue of auto insurance, and knowing full well that the vast majority of people and drivers in Ontario recognized the Liberal government as being incapable of responding to that crisis, the Premier (Mr Peterson) made a promise in or about Cambridge.
That one, along with “The cheque’s in the mail,” has surely seen its day. I have come to learn that occasionally people are misquoted by the press, but thank goodness for videotape, because I cannot think of a single person who has been misquoted by videotape. It has an uncanny quality to it that it accurately reflects what was said and what was done.
Something was nipping at the Premier’s heels three days before the last general election because surely he sensed the outrage in the province over the crisis in auto insurance over the shabby treatment of drivers in Ontario by the auto insurance industry, over the incredible escalation in premiums, over the sad treatment of its customers by the auto insurance industry and over its inability to live up to any of its obligations under the schedule C, section B, existing no-fault system.
The Premier promised on tape, to the people of Ontario, that he had a specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. Never have so many people regretted so much as those members of the government who have been plagued by that promise day in, day out, who recognized that it was a promise never designed to be kept. Indeed, people across Ontario think that the Premier lied to them. People across Ontario, upon reflection, said. “I remember that day, three days before the last general election, when Premier David Peterson, running for re-election, promised that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums.” They said, “Upon reflection, I think the Premier lied that day.”
That is a sad state of affairs, Mr Speaker, when people in the province say that about their Premier. But I think we still have not seen what it was the Premier had in mind when he said that, because what we started with was the auto insurance board. I remember the day so clearly; around $7 million went into the auto insurance board -- pocket money for the Liberal government, big bucks according to the taxpayers of Ontario, but heck, we are talking about a government that has just taken 10 of its backbenchers off on a little junket to Milan -- not one backbencher, not two, not three, but 10. But I say, “My goodness, maybe the Premier ought to have 10 backbenchers with him, because surely somebody has got to carry his luggage.” Maybe for these folk $7 million is pocket money, but for the people down in Welland-Thorold, that is a lot of bucks; it takes a lot of hard work to pay those kinds of taxes.
But $7 million later -- the date was 13 February 1989; I will never forget it -- the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board announced its new rates. I was up in North York, along with a whole bunch of auto insurance executive types. There was a little bit of trepidation on their part, some genuine anticipation, because they were undoubtedly saying: “Are these guys going to come through or not? Are they going to deliver or not? Are they going to produce or not?” There was some nervousness. There was edginess. There was some anticipation.
Why would they think, “Are these guys going to produce? Are they going to deliver? Are they going to come through?” Because there had been some considerable investment by the auto insurance industry in Ontario in the Liberal government of Ontario and in the candidates who ran as Liberals in the general election of 1987. In excess of $100,000 was reported as the contributions by the auto insurance industry to Liberal candidates across Ontario, and that is not pocket change either, Mr Speaker.
When one reflects on that, it is not difficult to understand why these automobile insurance executive types who sit there up at North York at the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board meeting rooms had some anticipation and concern about it. “Are these guys going to come through?” There was some feverish whispering among them, the tension was building and finally the board announced its new rates. I tell you, Mr Speaker, it was like Christmas and birthdays all wrapped up in one for these guys, because the grins that broke out on their faces were unmatchable. They were looking at premium increases anywhere from 17 per cent to 82 per cent. Wow. Incredible. These guys at this point were as happy as pigs in a barnyard. Their wildest dreams did not deliver such ecstasy.
But it did not last long because the outrage in the community was tremendous and because among the people hardest hit by those incredible increases of 17 to 82 per cent were senior citizens and young women. They were outraged and they let the government know it. The government reneged.
The automobile insurance executives reached into their lexicons for explanations of what happened -- some phrases which they had not used since they were kids in the schoolyard. But I remember that the Minister of Financial Institutions -- and this is what makes me sceptical about all of this -- because we are talking about September 1987, a very specific plan, a promise. Then first we go the route of rate regulation, with $7 million. At that point, it was only $7 million, give or take one or two hundred thousand dollars, or maybe give or take a couple of million dollars. Who knows? We got these rate increases of 17 per cent to 82 per cent. Was that the plan? One has to hope this was not merely an effete exercise on the part of the government, a little bit of redistribution of wealth -- $7 million to the actors on the automobile insurance board. But they backed off that one really fast. They backpedalled, as you have never seen them backpedal before, Mr Speaker.
I remember so clearly, so soon after the backing off, that the minister promised product reform. He was not sure what it was going to be, but he promised product reform. Again, it was not a matter of options, but he promised product reform. So what he did was to refer three schemes to his automobile insurance board. Their incomes continued, the rent on their offices continued and -- I know the minister can tell us what the total outlay is, but it well exceeded the $7 million, and some people have suggested it was as high as $14 million, but I am not sure it was as high as $14 million. It was perhaps $10 million, $11 million or $12 million in terms of total cost.
So you have these big bucks being spent up in North York and a whole bunch of references made to the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. The problem is that this report, these guys gave the wrong answers to the questions. Whether the crib sheets were not properly distributed or whether they got lost in the mail along with the Premier’s promise, I do not know, but the fact is that the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board was really not very enthusiastic about any of the schemes the government was proposing.
What they said was: “You guys are barking up the wrong tree here. You are not going to reduce auto insurance premiums by introducing these schemes. Premiums are going to continue to rise.” They noted that in jurisdictions that had adopted similar schemes the rate of motor vehicle accidents had increased and they noted that big chunks of people were going to be excluded from receiving compensation. Mind you, they under-estimated a little bit but not by that much.
But they noted that big chunks of people, big chunks of innocent, injured, accident victims were going to be denied any compensation for their pain and suffering for their injuries as a result of these schemes.
Indeed, this is where it is interesting to hear the minister talk about the study and consultation process that had been engaged in. You really have to recognize that there was some study. One of them, as we have already cited, was the study by Mr Justice Osborne, the Osborne report. What is remarkable is that the Minister of Financial Institutions and other people from over on the side there, have not talked about Osborne and what Osborne said. You bet your boots he considered it. Osborne considered the very type of scheme that the government wants to force down our throats right now, he sure did. And what did he say? He said, “I reject threshold no-fault.”
I tell you, Mr Speaker, when I read that I had to put the book back in front of me and read it again, because the Minister of Financial Institutions was leaving everybody in Ontario with the impression that his little scheme, the one written in the boardrooms of private auto insurance companies, this bit of legislation before us now, had been considered and discussed and approved by those bodies and individuals who had discussed it and considered it before. I have never heard the minister read Mr Justice Osborne’s very specific statement, “I reject threshold no-fault.” That is exactly what this Bill 68 is, threshold no-fault. It is not a no-fault system, we know that, it is the farthest thing from it.
Mr Justice Osborne specifically said, “I reject threshold no-fault.” What Mr justice Osborne did say was that the no-fault component, the wage replacement, the medical expenses, those sorts of things, should be enhanced, they should be brought up to contemporary levels. Indeed, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that if those schedule C, section B benefits were enhanced, were brought up to appropriate levels, that this would constitute a major disincentive for persons suffering the most modest of injuries, a major disincentive for them to seek other compensation.
Historically, the birth of threshold no-fault, at least of the types that we are looking at, is in the United States of America. Mr justice Osborne has this to say about that phenomenon, about that historical phenomenon, the implementation and development of threshold no-fault systems in the United States of America. He writes, this is at page 325: “Threshold no fault plans originated in the United States. They went beyond add-on plans and took the further step of abolishing tort actions for some injuries.” He goes on on the next page to write this, “The adoption of threshold no fault,” that is the sort of thing we have right here in Bill 68, “was also influenced by the particular difficulties that an accident victim seeking compensation faced in the United States -- difficulties that were not prevalent in Canada.” He writes that, “ ... the comprehensive social insurance and medical and hospital care programs that developed in Canada and other common law jurisdictions were largely absent in the United States.”
This government, that would want to appear to be on the leading edge, is in the trailing darkness, I will tell you that.
Look at this; Mr Justice Osborne, look what he says. He says: “In the last decade, legislative enthusiasm for restricting or abolishing access to the tort system for motor vehicle accident compensation has diminished. No new schemes have been implemented and two states in the United States have repealed their threshold plans in favour of add on no fault benefits.”
Now that is incredible. The comment about the Ford Edsel becomes all the more appropriate. This government is 30 years behind the times. I mean, it is trying to implement stuff when the historical basis is in no way identical to that in the United States. It is trying to import a foreign system, and it is doing it when other regimes are dropping it, dropping it like a hot potato because it does not work.
What the government has lost sight of is the fact that the problems out there, the problems that drivers everywhere in Ontario knew, the problems they want their legislators to address, are the problems of affordability and availability.
It is not that auto insurance companies have not been making money in Ontario. They have been making money and good money, I tell the House, and, indeed, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, one of the things that it did do was determine that the profits were there and that the profits were alive and well. They will continue to find ways to make more and more money.
The government in an effort to appease the very angry drivers of Ontario imposed caps, limits, ceilings, on insurance premiums that purported to freeze them. Well, the freeze soon resulted in, first, a 4.5 per cent increase and then another 4.5 per cent increase. That comes to 9.2 per cent. It is compounded, so 4.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent is 9 per cent, but when you compound it, it is 9.2 per cent. Right? Then there was a 7.6 per cent increase.
But look what has been happening, look at what has been happening, and this is not an isolated situation. The member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) back in July of this year posed an illustration to the minister and he asked the minister, “Please respond to this,” about the phenomenon of sister insurance companies dropping a driver and then sending that driver over to a sister insurance company down the hall that was going to charge rates well in excess of any 7.6 per cent increase.
Once again, just last week the minister learned of more. He learned of that phenomenon being exercised by Scottish & York Insurance Co. I was able to see a letter from Ontario Insurance Service, 150 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto, insurance and reinsurance brokers. It says, “Dear Client,” and this is a letter that Ms Cerullo received: “We regret to advise that Scottish & York Insurance Co has discontinued writing auto insurance in Ontario, but to ensure that your insurance is continued without interruption, we have taken the liberty of replacing your policy with Victoria Insurance Company. The coverage limits and deductibles remain unchanged and although the premium has increased, we believe it to be very competitive.”
Now that is Ontario Insurance Service, 150 Eglinton Avenue East, and what I had was the certificate of automobile insurance from Scottish & York Insurance Co. It is made out to Anna Maria Cerullo of Toronto, for two vehicles, a 1977 Thunderbird and a 1984 Chevrolet Camaro, with a premium rate of $260 and change for six months. Two vehicles, vehicle 1, vehicle 2; 1977 T-Bird. 1984 Camaro; and commencing 1 June 1989 to 26 October 1989. It is interesting that the address is 150 Eglinton Avenue East. There is the signature of a secretary and president on there.
Her new certificate of automobile insurance, from the Victoria Insurance Co of Canada, with a policy period from 26 October 1989, which is the expiry date of the old one, to 26 April 1990, 1977 Thunderbird, 1984 Chev Camaro, for $620 and change for a six-month period.
Interestingly. Victoria insurance Co of Canada also has the same address, also has the same secretary and the same president. Indeed, when you research the company, you note that both of these companies are wholly owned by the same owner. What a neat, slick, clever, simple way of avoiding, evading, these purported ceilings or limits on premium increases. I mean, this is a classic premium flip. It is more than just a premium shuffle; this is a premium flip. But we have learned not to expect much more than that from the auto insurance industry in this province, the same auto insurance industry that was insisting that it was not making any money, that it was going broke.
For an industry that was going broke, it was sure spending a lot of time, effort, energy and money trying to retain control of the auto insurance industry in this province. When members want to look to where they spend their premium dollars, they do not have to look too far; the premium dollars that all members and I, and folks in each of our ridings, pay on a regular basis.
We look at the big, megabucks campaign in British Columbia to attack and criticize the Insurance Corp of British Columbia, a campaign by the Insurance Bureau of Canada that was dropped, abandoned before it even neared its completion. We talk about the attractive campaign contributions to Liberal candidates in the general election. Where do members think that money came from? It came from the premiums that drivers are paying these insurance companies on a regular basis.
Members would think that an industry that was losing money, that was going broke, that was belly up, would say: “Good, you guys take care of auto insurance in the province. We do not want to do it any more.” On the contrary. Oh, they have been doing some high-grading. They have been doing some avoidance tactics. They have made sure that the actuaries and their tables mean diddly-squat in the total scheme of things, but they have been making big bucks and they have no intentions of letting go of it.
Notwithstanding the slick salesmanship of the government, it is a bad piece of legislation we have here, one that is indefensible, one that is indeed shameful, and the position of the opposition is that the problems are just as they were last year and the year before.
What are those problems? The problems are affordability and availability of auto insurance, problems that this government has neglected, refused, failed to address. Indeed we urged this government, as it has been for a good decade before this, to put before its auto insurance board the prospect of a driver-owned, nonprofit, public auto insurance system such as we have in the western provinces.
Did the government investigate that as an option? No. And did the government fall back on, what is it, chapter 15 of the Honourable Mr Justice Osborne’s report, which Mr Justice Osborne concedes is not a thorough analysis of the western systems but indeed but a cursory analysis? Implicit in everything that is written by Mr Justice Osborne about the western systems is that they warrant a thorough examination, that they cry out for that in view of the fact that, yes, they provide auto insurance premiums that are cheaper across the board than any auto insurance premium provided for any driver here in the province of Ontario and they do not discriminate on the basis of gender, as we continue to do here in Ontario. Indeed, the three western provinces, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, with the respective driver-owned public auto insurance systems, provide insurance significantly more affordable than has ever been provided here in Ontario and continue to do so.
Let’s look at this aspect of those western systems. It is true that each and every one of them was implemented by either a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation or a New Democratic Party government, Saskatchewan as long back as 1946, then Manitoba, then British Columbia. It is equally true that the oppositions of the day vehemently opposed those public, driver-owned, nonprofit automobile insurance systems in those three provinces. Sadly, it is similarly true that the CCF-NDP governments in each of those three provinces at one point or another changed roles with their oppositions and took over the role of opposition, and darned good oppositions I must say.
But in any of those three provinces, did the parties that were opposition parties, that opposed public, driver-owned, nonprofit auto insurance schemes, that opposed them tooth and nail when they were the opposition and subsequently became governments, including the second-most right-wing provincial government in Canada -- and I am talking about the Social Credit Party and Bill Vander Zalm in British Columbia.
If you ask, “Who is the first?” you do not have to look far. You just look at some of the regressive tax measures, like the 14 per cent increase in retail sales tax; absurdities like the $5 tire tax; absurdities like the greater Toronto area.
I mean, if it moves, tax it, and if it don’t move, kick it to see if you can make it move and then tax it.
So even the second-most reactionary government in Canada, Bill Vander Zalm and the Socreds, second only to the Liberal --
Mr Kormos: Come on, Mr Speaker. The heroes of the free trade fight. Oh, yes, just watch. The heroes of the fight against the goods and services tax? Come on now. Cut it out, Mr Speaker. These are the guys who have taxation policies that go back to the prior century, never mind to the prior decade. And they are going to try to tout themselves as the heroes of the fight against the GST? Cut it out.
When the budget that came out of this government was but a mirror, a reflection -- when they are cut from the same cloth as the clowns up on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and when you see the honourable Premier of Ontario doing his little song and dance beside his counterpart Brian Mulroney, you realize that is the case.
Did any of those three governments that succeeded CCF-NDP governments in the western provinces dismantle the public, driver-owned, nonprofit insurance schemes? Of course not, because they work. Because they continue to provide auto insurance affordably and fairly to drivers in each of those three provinces.
There have been all sorts of assaults on those plans, a massive propaganda campaign by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which I mentioned a few moments ago, where it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of premium-payers’ money. It did not work. There has been constant criticism from the auto insurance industry that would love to see those three systems privatized; not a chance, because the people of those provinces will not let it happen. They might vote Tory. They might vote Liberal. We know they vote Socred, but will they let any of those governments tamper with their public, driver-owned, nonprofit auto insurance schemes? Of course not, because those systems work. They provide affordable insurance fairly.
Now, we have some real kickers in this scheme that the auto insurance industry wants the Liberals to pass for it. We have the gift, the big multimillion-dollar gift from the government.
Really, it is a nonvoluntary gift from the taxpayers of Ontario to the auto insurance industry, and that is a three per cent premium tax that has been eliminated by this government.
We got the gift in terms of OHIP, and the totals on these -- they are estimates at this point, but we are talking about well in excess of $100 million, probably a little closer to $150 million in the first year alone, a gift from this government of money that is not its -- that money that belongs to the taxpayers of Ontario, money that was seized from the taxpayers of Ontario that is being handed over to the auto insurance industry, and I tell members, it does not need it.
We are talking about a reduction in compensation payouts estimated -- and we should not have to see this tested, because this bad legislation should be suppressed; it should be put to a peaceful death -- but we see another $600 million, give or take, easily, in compensation that ain’t going to be paid out. Easy, minimum.
Where is it going to end up? I tell you, Mr Speaker, if you have a few extra bucks, buy insurance stocks. The profits for the auto insurance industry if this legislation goes through are just going to make them ecstatic.
The Minister of Financial Institutions talks coyly about this legislation being considered by the committee. Where I come from, the comment is that that type of talk baffles brains, because when the minister says “committee,” he means committee, but it does not really mean committee.
This legislation is going to impact on drivers and nondrivers, passengers, innocent pedestrians across the province. It is going to impact on them in a way they have never dreamed or imagined possible.
The minister does not have support from Osborne, because Mr Justice Osborne said no. Mr Justice Osborne, conducting his report of inquiry into motor vehicle accident compensation in Ontario, said that he rejects this threshold kind of scheme, just like the scheme, Bill 68, that the government is trying to ram through at the request, at the behest, at the direction of the auto insurance industry in Ontario. Mr Justice Osborne says no.
The Ontario Automobile Insurance Board says: “Slow down. It does not seem like such a good idea to us.”
We will go back -- Slater. Slater does not come close to endorsing anything near what is being proposed now.
So what are these clowns talking about? I ask members, what are they talking about when they say this has been considered and commented upon in the past? Never has the public had an opportunity to examine, comment on and indeed analyse and critique this legislation that is before this Legislature now. I tell the House that there are people across Ontario who want the opportunity to comment on this legislation.
This government is going to persist and insist that it has consulted the public. Once again, where I come from, that kind of talk is said to baffle brains, because there has been no consultation.
Consultation? Yes, the same way these guys consulted with injured workers when it came down to Bill 162 being before a committee. Some consultation. I saw the Minister of Labour of that day stand up and tell people in this House that there had been consultation. Indeed, I saw that little brochure that the Minister of Labour had published at taxpayers’ expense, Lord knows at how many hundreds of thousands of dollars, that said, “We consulted injured workers before we developed Bill 162 that we are putting before you now.”
It was incredible, because I was with the committee when it travelled to Hamilton. Some of the folks from Welland-Thorold, the Welland District Injured Workers, representatives of various trade unions, Mike Menicanin from the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of Canada, those types of people, wanted to come up to the committee and talk to the committee about this legislation. They were denied the opportunity to do it in their own community because the Liberal majority on that committee refused to let that committee travel across Ontario and indeed restricted their travel seriously. Indeed, only a fraction of those people and groups who wanted to make submissions to the committee were allowed to make those submissions. The rest of them were jackbooted out of the committee rooms and prevented from addressing the issues.
Consultation? I was there when members of the committee had the pamphlet in front of them that said, with much bravado on the part of the Ministry of Labour, “We have consulted injured workers and trade unions and injured workers’ groups.” I was there when, one after the other, trade unionists and trade union leaders and injured workers and injured workers’ groups appeared before this committee to make their comments, and their comments were not pleasant ones.
They were most critical of the legislation, and each one of them, on that day in Hamilton, was asked: “Were you ever consulted by the government? Because it says here in the government pamphlet that the government consulted you.” The answer was consistently no. The next question was: “Are you aware of anybody having been consulted? Was perhaps one of your brother or sister trade unionists consulted?” “Well, no.” “Did you ever hear of a request from the government to comment on this before now?”
My goodness, that made short shrift of the bold claim by the government in its pamphlet, produced at taxpayers’ expense, that it indeed had consulted with injured workers, trade unions, what have you, about Bill 162, those horrible amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act.
These good people, workers, injured workers, concerned people, left that committee room saying: “That statement by the ministry on its pamphlet must be a lie. They say they have consulted with people across Ontario and they cannot come up with any illustrations of having consulted them. It is a lie.” They left there shaking their heads and saying: “Look, you know, granted I may not be a Liberal and I may not have voted for them. But still, once they are in government, I do not expect them to lie. I don’t expect such bald-faced lies from them.” But they walked out saying, “My goodness, we have been lied to.” Some said, “We have been lied to again.”
Consultation? Just the other day we were talking about Bills 2 and 3 that we are going to be voting on this afternoon. I was on the committee that considered Bills 2 and 3, and the government once again insisted that it had consulted and was going to consult interested groups.
Lo and behold, first reading, 1 May, during the late summer months in the standing committee on administration of justice here at Queen’s Park, the Criminal Lawyers Association showed up, a prestigious group of members of the provincial bar, the criminal bar. They said, “Look, we are sorry, but the short notice you gave us makes it impossible for us to analyse and digest the legislation that you are presenting to us now.”
The Canadian Bar Association -- Ontario, surely a representative body of members of the bar in Ontario, consisting of a mass of talent, said: “Please, give us a little more time. We want an opportunity to help you with this legislation. We want an opportunity to discuss it among ourselves and perhaps help you fine-tune some of the flaws that are apparent in it.”
The Advocates’ Society came to that committee, and its representatives too said: “We want to help. We want to participate in this process. But give us a couple of weeks because it is the middle of the summer, and it is impossible at this time of the year, to get to our membership, to get our committees together. Give us a month.”
I recall moving the motion requesting but a one-month deferral of the matter so that these groups could be consulted because they had not been consulted, and there is simply no doubt about that. Did the Liberal majority on that committee accept the proposition that they should be consulted about the legislation, Bills 2 and 3? No. They rejected it so summarily and so quickly that it left one with no doubt about what their intentions were.
So we are left here, once again, with a minister who insists that people have been consulted. No. This Bill 68 was never before Slater; it was never before Osborne. This Bill 68 was never before the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, where it belongs. The minister knows or should know that it belongs before the appropriate committee so that that committee, if the process is going to be a democratic one, can look at the legislation, can hear from interested parties, can hear from members of the public who want to comment on the legislation and can make sure that there is not a single group, organization, interested party or member of any community in Ontario who is denied the opportunity to make those comments in committee.
What that means is obvious. It means that this committee has to be prepared to travel beyond the confines of Queen’s Park. Contrary to what some members of this Legislature believe, the world does not begin and end at the perimeter of this property. People in North Bay, people in Kenora, people in the Niagara Peninsula, people in Windsor, people across the province have to have an opportunity to comment on this legislation. They have got things to say about it; that is apparent.
This legislation and its deficiencies, its cruelty, have been the subject matter of media across the province, both print and electronic. The minister knows that. He has conducted a feeble but consistent selling job and has used his best press-agent skills to pick language that makes it marketable, to be highly selective about the type of language that is used: as I say, the absolute complete misnomer of referring to it as “no-fault.”
First, as we have indicated, there is lots of fault that one could find with this legislation. The furthest thing in the world that it could be called is “no-fault.” Second, it is not a no-fault system; it is a threshold system. Yet the government does not want to call it a threshold system because that conjures up images of the horror shows in the United States. The government wants to shake its fist and say, “It’s made in Ontario.” Poppycock. It is imported. It is a Michigan system plus one.
The government does not want to live with the fact that the insurance companies wrote it, and I guess in the most technical sense it is true because, as I have indicated before, what the insurance companies wanted was not as severe or as restrictive as the legislation that is being imposed on us now.
What I suspect is that there might be a little bit of a highball here, in view of the fact that the Insurance Bureau of Canada only wanted the Michigan threshold and not the onerous threshold that is a part of this legislation, in view of the fact that the Insurance Bureau of Canada quite candidly said, “We only want to exclude 92 per cent of all injured accident victims from receiving compensation.” What the government’s proposal does here is excludes anywhere from 94 per cent to 99 per cent.
I suspect that there could be an element of highball here. I would not be overly surprised if the government backed off just a touch and said, “Okay, we will utilize the Michigan threshold.” Yet that is exactly what the highball process is. You ask for a little more than you know you are going to get and you know you are going to accept.
I would not be at all surprised if when that happened, the auto insurance industry in Ontario shed its big alligator tears of grief at having to adopt or accept a threshold that it proposed itself. But these mock tears of sadness and grief would be part of the whole selling job, part of the whole scam that is going on here.
If the minister is as confident about this legislation as he would want to appear to be, if he really believes half of what he is saying about it, if he believes only half of what he is saying about it -- because I have a feeling that, if the truth be told, even the minister does not believe what he is saying about this bill, about this legislation -- he would not be afraid to let this legislation go to committee and to let that committee travel across Ontario, to let that committee hear submissions --
The Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the member. However, there was unanimous consent that another matter would take place at 5:45.
I do not know if the member has any further comments on this legislation. If so, he may wish to adjourn the debate.
On motion by Mr Kormos, the debate was adjourned.
The Speaker: I wonder if some of the members could read standing order 20. It would be helpful.
Pursuant to standing order 27, by unanimous consent it was agreed there would be division on third reading of Bill 2 and third reading of Bill 3. The allotted time was set at 5:45. That time has arrived. I would remind members that it will be a five-minute bell.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
The House divided on Mr Scott’s motion for third reading of Bill 2, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Adams, Ballinger, Beer, Black, Bossy, Bradley, Callahan, Caplan, Carrothers, Cleary, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fleet, Fulton, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Harris, Hart, Henderson, Hošek, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Kanter, Kozyra, Lipsett; MacDonald, Mahoney, McCague, McClelland, McGuigan, McGuinty, McLean, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Offer, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Owen, Phillips, G., Pollock, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Runciman, Scott, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, South, Sterling, Stoner, Sullivan, Sweeney, Tatham, Velshi, Ward, Wilson, Wiseman, Wong, Wrye.
Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Grier, Hampton, Kormos, Mackenzie, Martel, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pouliot, Reville, Wildman.
Ayes 73; nays 13.
COURT REFORM STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
The House divided on Mr Scott’s motion for third reading of Bill 3, which was agreed to on the same vote.
The Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 33, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made. The member for Welland-Thorold gave notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Minister of Financial Institutions. The member has up to five minutes to discuss the matter and the minister has up to five minutes to respond.
Mr Kormos: The question to the minister earlier today was very straightforward and clear. It had to do with the inadequacy of the no-fault benefits contained in the new insurance scheme. In particular, I made reference to subsection 8(3), a section that purports to provide long-term care.
I indicated to the minister when that was announced that he had puffed out his chest and had taken great --
The Speaker: I have had a request for a little less noise and fewer private conversations.
Mr Kormos: The government appeared to take some great pride in this new provision, long-term care, one it indicated was not available under the current system and one that had a ceiling -- my goodness, a ceiling -- of $500,000. But the little kicker, and there is a really interesting little kicker, is in subsection 8(3) of the regulations, part II, “The maximum payable per month is the lesser of $1,500 or the monthly cost” -- listen, Mr Speaker, this is incredible -- of a group residence appropriate to accommodate the needs of the insured person.
The lesser of the two. My comment to the minister was that what that amounts to is approximately $50 a day, that the government on the one hand appears -- I suppose this is a matter of checking against reality, but the government is inclined to say that its policy is to support community living for disabled persons, yet here in its very own regulations it includes a ceiling or cap of $1 ,500 -- $50 per day -- or the lesser of the cost of residential treatment.
What the government suggests clearly by that is that if residential treatment is going to be provided, it cannot cost any more than $1,500 a month. I will tell you, Mr Speaker, and you should know this, that first of all residential treatment that does not cost any more than $1,500 a month is the most minimal and demeaning type of residential treatment. To boot, this contradicts the very stated policy of the government, and that is that disabled persons should be living in the community. The government’s goal, and certainly the government has received a whole lot of prompting in that regard from the opposition, is stated to be to support community living for disabled persons, rather than institutional living.
My question to the minister was, can he comment on the fairness of that and the apparent contradiction that is contained in subsection 8(3)? It is a situation that really contradicts and belies this grand figure of $500,000 as being the maximum under the plan. One would be hard pressed to reach $500,000 when the cap is indeed, and in reality, $1,500 a month -- $50 a day -- for disabled persons.
I tell members that $50 a day would provide only three to four hours of moderately priced support in the person’s home. A person who was totally disabled and forced to rely -- the so-called no-fault benefits -- on this provision, long-term care, would be hard pressed to find care available for $50 a day. Surely that care, at $50 a day, is not care that could be provided for in the home because $50 is only going to buy you three to four hours a day of care, and the type of care that buys you in an institution is -- you have to concede, Mr Speaker – pathetic.
That does not even deal with or consider the absence of indexation in this so-called no-fault scheme. That was commented on, I appreciate, by me perhaps half an hour or so ago during our discussion of Bill 68. But that $1,500 ceiling -- $50 a day -- becomes even less day after day, month after month, year after year as inflation begins to erode it, and indeed it would be cut in half in real terms every 10 to 20 years, just as the old $140 was.
The minister failed completely to address the $1,500, the $50 a day, the contradiction between what is in these regulations, the proposal that a person should only receive the lesser of institutional care for $1,500, the contradiction between that and the purported and stated government policy of encouraging community living for disabled persons.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman always has the opportunity of requiring that ministers repeat the answers that have been previously given in a most full and favourable fashion.
It was my intent to indicate to the public that it should always be aware of the projections into the future raised by this gentleman because sometimes the material with which he premises a good number of his questions does not always stand up to the test of scrutiny. That is why, in the dying moments of question period this afternoon when he hoped to constrain my ability to reply in a very full fashion, I raised the issue of Mr Heaslip, who we were told was in the Facility Association, who we were told was a good example of how the world would unravel under the new product reform.
Of course, when I undertook to go back and check out, for the benefit of the people of Ontario, the factual basis for these questions, I had to then come forward and report that I found that Mr Heaslip indeed was not in the Facility Association and that in fact the basis upon which his question was premised was false.
In addition to that, I found out that the assertions made by Mr McKay, who was quoted roundly the other day by the member for Welland-Thorold, were only a personal opinion, that in fact the companies do not share the same view of the world as Mr McKay, as Mr McKay looked into the future.
In the very short period of time that was allowed to me, because the member orchestrated a very long question that he then felt would cut me off as I was replying to his interrogatory, I decided I must put it on a basis so that people could read exactly how his projection into the future of how this world would enfold could be determined.
What I did, Mr Speaker, in a very few words as I knew you were interested in moving on to the next round of business so we could listen to the member for Welland-Thorold speak for upwards of two hours -- I understand he is going to delay our bill again tomorrow by speaking all afternoon; that is the intelligence that is coming from his colleagues. That is not of course what I think he would want to do. He would want us to debate this bill so that he could bring forward into committee the discussions on what he wants us to pursue further and fuller answers on, even today.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that $500,000 in long-term care is an incredible increase over the zero that was involved in the current no-fault benefits he has rightly pointed out. He can tell us that in addition to that, at whatever level, that is an extremely important increase because there is none now available for people under our no-fault benefits. We have used the premium base to redistribute the benefits, to redistribute the premium dollars that are collected so that we put more money in the pockets of the injured people.
That is what is key. We must have as much as possible of the premium dollar made available to help and assist the injured person. That is what is at the basis of this product. Yes, there is a $500,000 cap on long-term care, and yes, there is a $500,000 cap on supplementary medical and rehabilitation care, and yes, there is a $450-per-week reimbursement of lost wages under this product. People can purchase more. For some people it may be necessary, who feel their consumer-oriented decisions will be such that they will purchase more.
Let’s not be led astray by a sophisticated lobbyist for the Committee for Fair Action in Insurance. Let’s not be led astray by a person who is standing up for the status quo in this province. That is what that man wants. He wants the status quo with one exception. It is a big exception. He wants public automobile insurance. He wants the government to own it, but he wants the status quo. He wants the premium dollars, however collected, retained for the intermediaries. He does not want to redistribute the premiums so that they are available for the injured. That is what this product is about. That is what his question is about.
We are redistributing the premium so that the injured person can have access to it, not only for lost income replacement and not only for supplementary medical and rehab, but also for long-term care. I do not apologize for making available more premium dollars for the injured. That is what this government is about, having a balanced, socially acceptable insurance policy.
The Speaker: There being no further matter to debate, I declare the motion to adjourn to be carried. Therefore, this House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow afternoon.
The House adjourned at 1808.