The House met at 1330.
Mr Hampton: A few weeks ago the Ministry of Natural Resources acknowledged the existence of a study which showed that the frequency and the intensity of forest fires across northern Ontario have, on average, been increasing over the past 10 years. The Ministry of Natural Resources spokesperson refers to the global warming effect as one possible cause contributing to increases in the number of forest fires and the increase in their severity.
This past summer the ministry knew of the conclusions of this study and its implications for the protection and conservation of our northern forests and our northern environment. Yet, even as it knew of the study and its implications, this government cut $6 million from the forest firefighting budget and terminated the employment of 130 trained firefighters in northern Ontario.
Now, as we look ahead to the fire season of 1990, some alarming evidence is already beginning to appear. This fall, the rainfall in northern Ontario was sparse, and so far this winter the snowfall in northwestern Ontario has been extremely light. These factors point to the possibility of extreme fire conditions in the northwest in the spring of 1990. Now is the time for this government to restore the MNR’s firefighting budget that was taken away in 1989. Not to do so is to court potential disaster.
UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S EMERGENCY FUND
Mr McCague: The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund was established on this day in 1946, at the very first session of the United Nations General Assembly. It was set up to co-ordinate programs helping children in countries devastated by the Second World War. Four years later, it expanded to include Third World nations with their urgent problems of hunger and poverty.
We are all familiar with the orange boxes our children bring on their Hallowe’en rounds to collect money for UNICEF. Ninety per cent of that money goes directly to overseas projects -- projects such as a well-drilling rig in Cameroon, where 60 per cent of rural families do not have safe water.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the declaration of rights of the child and the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Child, yet each day more than 40,000 children die in the developing world and thousands more are disadvantaged for life because of undernourishment of body and mind.
UNICEF is fighting to help children get at least the basic necessities of life. All of us should support this worthy aim so that children, wherever they may be, have a chance to live and grow up strong and healthy.
NATURAL GAS PIPELINE
Mr Reycraft: I want to take this opportunity to express some serious concerns I have with respect to a proposed Union Gas pipeline expansion in my riding.
Union Gas proposes to expropriate large quantities of productive agricultural land in southwestern Ontario in order to meet the rising demands of energy-hungry Americans. America’s appetite for our natural gas is expected to climb by 22 per cent over the next two years, while the Canadian demand is expected to rise at a much slower rate. Many experts are predicting that Canadians will be competing with Americans for this important resource by the middle of the next decade, so one reason I would maintain that the loss of valuable agricultural land to a pipeline is not justified is because it does nothing to ensure security of supply for Canadians.
Security of supply, however, is not the main issue this time. There are many questions that exist with respect to the project itself. For example, this pipeline is the fourth being built in the area since 1959 and its diameter is the largest yet. The effects of this on agricultural land and the surrounding environment are ill-understood.
The expropriation of productive farm land is usually based on the principle that it is in the broad public interest. Given that the only probable interest that would be served in this instance is that of Union Gas, I strongly urge that all parties concerned proceed on this proposal with extreme caution. There are many reasons to believe that this project is not in the best interest of Canadians.
Mr Reville: The Law Society of Upper Canada, in conjunction with South Ottawa Community Legal Services and community legal services in Ottawa, did a study of default judgements in landlord and tenant summary applications in the judicial district of Ottawa-Carleton.
They examined 266 default files and discovered that almost half of them contained at least one fatal defect. Many files contained more than one defect. In addition, a third of the files were awarded illegal amounts of rent. Ninety-eight per cent of all the awards for rent arrears were signed with no evidence of whether a rent deposit had been paid or not.
What this means is that had those cases proceeded to trial, the judge would have had no alternative but to find against the landlord. Yet, because of the failure of the Attorney General (Mr Scott) of Ontario to provide guidelines and checklists to the registrars of each of the districts of the province, tenants are being found against under a default judgement when in fact they should not be.
It strikes me it is high time the Attorney General got on the side of tenants instead of on the side of landlords.
HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK
Mrs Marland: This week, 10 to 16 December, is Human Rights Week, and yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the United Nations universal declaration of human rights. This week is a time to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of the millions who gave their lives in past conflicts and who are dying in ongoing struggles to ensure that their fellow human beings can live in peace and dignity. It is also a time to celebrate the momentous changes that are occurring in eastern Europe where millions are asserting their rights of political, economic and religious choice.
At the same time, let us count our blessings that we live in Ontario, a society where individual rights are cherished and protected. The Ontario Human Rights Code, the first legislation of its kind in Canada, was established 27 years ago by the Progressive Conservative government of John Robarts. The code formally recognizes the moral, social and economic rights of individuals in our society.
This week is also a time to remind ourselves that although we can be proud of our human rights record, it is not perfect. We still need a vigilant Ontario Human Rights Commission to uphold our Human Rights Code. This New Year’s Eve, as we enter a new decade, let us resolve to do everything that is in our power to change personal and societal attitudes so that human rights abuse is eliminated to the extent that it is humanly possible. It is up to each one of us to make this world a better place for our children and grandchildren.
Mr McGuinty: In the context of the tragic event in Montreal last week, the Ottawa police made another plea for greater gun controls -- a recurring plea -- with some startling figures with regard to gun acquisitions in our area.
A firearm acquisition certificate may be submitted by anyone over the age of 16. Only two basic questions are asked: “Have you been charged and/or convicted of a criminal offence during the past five years?” and “Have you been treated for mental illness for the past five years?” The former may be easily confirmed. With medical files confidential, the latter is limited to the response by the applicant.
In my home town during the past five years 6,768 acquisition certificates were approved. Less than one per cent of applications were rejected. The Ottawa police receive from two to five gun calls per day; that is, weapons reported. Figures Ontario-wide are no less alarming and disconcerting. In three years, from 1986 to 1988, a total of 150,000 acquisition certificates were approved.
To the rejoinder, “Guns do not kill people, people kill people,” espoused by such as the American Rifle Association and some people in Ontario, there is the obvious reply: people kill people with guns. Our Ontario police are faced with an intolerable predicament brought on by too-lax gun controls. This is a serious question for which we must find an answer.
PROPOSED HOSPITAL MERGER
Mr Reville: There is a lot of anxiety and concern about the future of Women’s College Hospital. We know that in response to public pressure the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) has finally appointed an independent panel to review the merger process between Women’s College Hospital and the Toronto Hospital Corp. We also know that the city of Toronto’s medical officer of health is looking at the proposed merger from the perspective of access to health care.
What no one seems to know is what this merger means for the future of the specialized services now being offered by Women’s College Hospital. Nobody knows that because the vision statement promised for November by the two hospital boards has still not been released. Many people are concerned that the Toronto Hospital Corp is being issued a blank cheque. That, of course, would not surprise a whole lot of people who have watched what happens with the Toronto Hospital Corp.
The question for the government is, when is the minister going to share with interested parties her view of the future of Women’s College Hospital?
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Villeneuve: In Ottawa today the annual agricultural outlook conference begins. I understand that the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Ramsay) is in attendance and indeed participating. I will quote from one of his very recent press releases. “The agrifood industry in Ontario and in Canada is at the crossroads. It is no time to be vague about which road to take. We must set decisive, informed directions which will contribute to the industry’s long-term viability,” says our Minister of Agriculture and Food.
This is the same minister who has had his budget cut by $55 million in the last year, has terminated the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, has cut back on the farm tax rebate program and has basically taken a back seat to every other ministry within this province. He speaks great words; however, they sound rather hollow when you look at the record of this government and this Minister of Agriculture and Food, along with his predecessor. As we come in to the 1990s, agriculture will be suffering a 38 per cent decrease in net income.
Mr Speaker, do you know of any other sector in this province or in this country that is faced with that kind of a negative situation? We need action here, now.
Mr Keyes: On Friday 1 December, Andre Bieler, one of Canada’s artistic pioneers, died at his home in Kingston. He was 93. Mr Bieler is widely known for his paintings, which depict traditional rural Quebec life along the shores of the St Lawrence. He was a co-founder of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, one of Canada’s most notable galleries.
Andre Bieler was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, studied painting in Paris and New York, and finally joined his family in Canada in the 1920s. Mr Bieler settled first in rural Quebec, then Montreal, and finally in Kingston in 1936, where he became artist in residence at Queen’s University. He remained in Kingston for the rest of his life.
One of Mr Bieler’s greatest accomplishments was in 1941 when he organized the first conference of Canadian artists. That Kingston conference sparked ideas which led to the establishment of the Canada Council many years later.
In 1988 Mr Bieler was awarded the Order of Canada. Because of inability to travel, the award came to him. On 13 October this year, in my presence, the Right Honourable Lincoln Alexander presented Andre Bieler with his award at Kingston’s Hotel Dieu Hospital. It was a fitting honour for a man who had served the Canadian artistic community as both artist and advocate.
Mr Speaker, would you please join me and all members of this House in paying tribute to Andre Bieler, a man who is fondly known as the people’s artist.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for members’ statements. The member for Markham is on his feet. For what reason?
Mr Cousens: I understand there is agreement in the House for a statement on Human Rights Day as it affects Soviet Jewry.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Mr Cousens: I rise today to join my colleagues and the other two co-chairmen of the Soviet Jewry committee, the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) and the member for Oakwood (Ms Hošek), in paying tribute to the 41st anniversary of International Human Rights Day.
Yesterday, 10 December, millions of people around the world celebrated the reaffirmation of basic human rights. However, yesterday thousands of Soviet Jews continued to face persecution. As co-chairman of the Ontario Legislature’s committee on Soviet Jewry, I would like to take this opportunity to call on the Soviet Union to practise what it has been preaching. In the wake of glasnost and perestroika, we in the west have been witness to a remarkable chain of events in eastern Europe. From the dismantling of the Berlin Wall to the rise of democratic movements in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and hopefully in the Baltic states, our faith is renewed that freedom and independence are become a reality.
Our committee challenges the Soviet Union to abide by these principles in its dealings with Soviet Jews. If these events are to have any true meaning for citizens of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, all citizens must be included.
Members of this Legislature should be aware that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of refusenik cases remain unresolved. Of even greater concern is the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. The new freedom in the Soviet Union permitted by glasnost has ironically resulted in several anti-Semitic campaigns. One organization which has come to our attention, Pamyat, has launched a very visible public campaign of anti-Semitism.
If the celebration of International Human Rights Day is to hold true meaning for citizens of the world, it must pertain to and be honoured by all cultures. Momentous steps have been made this past year that reinforce the hope for freedom and peace for all people in this world. Unfortunately, for Jewish people in the Soviet Union there is still a long way to go.
The Ontario Legislature committee on Soviet Jewry is committed to fight for human rights. We cannot take freedom for granted; not our own, not in the Soviet Union, not anywhere.
Ms Hošek: Yesterday, 10 December, was Human Rights Day, the day we celebrate the creation of the United Nations declaration of human rights. It is also a time in which we reflect on all the many ways in which human rights are being violated around the world. Those of us who are particularly interested in central and eastern Europe have been watching events there with a great deal of hope. In the Soviet Union we see many changes in the structure of society and a lot of language about plans for a more open and free political system.
We must not let our hopes for the future blind us to the problems that still remain. Despite glasnost, despite perestroika, there are still in the Soviet Union today Jewish families who have been denied permission to emigrate. There are still families split apart by a regime which has allowed some members to emigrate and others not.
Just last week, Vladimir Rais, the longest-serving refusenik in the Soviet Union, was once again refused permission to leave. This man and his family have been waiting to leave the Soviet Union for 18 years.
Openness in a society with the history of the Soviet Union has its dangers as well as its opportunities. The new freedoms have been used as an opportunity for several strongly anti-Semitic groups to express the same old hatreds and the same old lies which Jews have heard for hundreds of years. It is up to the Soviet government to indicate its strong disapproval of these words and these acts and to strengthen the path of tolerance and human rights.
We call upon the Soviet authorities to make sure that the new freedoms for their people include freedoms for the Jewish people in the Soviet Union as well: freedom to emigrate and the freedom to live in a tolerant society.
Mr Allen: I am proud to join my colleagues the co-chairs of the Soviet Jewish committee of this Legislature in a statement on the conditions of Soviet Jews on the occasion of the United Nations International Human Rights Day. A remarkable spirit of goodwill and new hope, as my colleagues have noted, has developed in the relations between east and west as a result of the Gorbachev initiatives under the policies of glasnost and perestroika.
A new openness of political culture, of religious life and of human rights is hopefully in the making in Russia and eastern Europe. Soviet Jews have experienced glasnost in the form a major relaxation around emigration, the opening of cultural centres in several cities and the startup of previously forbidden Hebrew-language classes. However, much remains to be done before Soviet Jews have the benefit of full liberty of expression and freedom of movement. Several hundred refusenik cases remain, and only last week the longest-serving refusenik again was refused permission to leave. New applicants are by no means readily approved.
A disturbing aspect of the current scene is that the new freedom has apparently encouraged the formation of anti-Semitic groups whose crude public demonstration displays attitudes that go long and deep into the Russian past and which call for the most vigorous response from the Soviet state and Mr Gorbachev himself. There are some indications that such groups may yet have friends in high places.
At this time, as we mark International Human Rights Day, it is still appropriate, perhaps more appropriate than ever because hope has been unleashed, to call upon the Soviet Union to move speedily to extend all basic rights and protections to Soviet Jewry. The New Democratic Party caucus, whose members are all members of the Legislature committee on Soviet Jewry, join in asking Soviet authorities to honour commitments made this year to respect the human rights provisions of the Helsinki accord.
It is worth noting in this connection that our leader, the member for York South (Mr B. Rae), will be in the Soviet Union for the Lithuanian elections on 24 February and he will be seeking discussions with Soviet Jewry on the conditions of Soviet Jews at that time.
We make this call in the full recognition that our Canadian record on minority rights is by no means entirely clear, and indeed our country is at this moment the subject of a United Nations inquiry into the condition of our native people. But we rise on this day to declare again that human rights are indivisible, that one person’s restriction, abuse or imprisonment is never, in reality, another person’s freedom. The chains we forge for others, sooner or later, shackle ourselves. Once more therefore, in this assembly and in that spirit, we point to the continuing refusal to grant full rights to Soviet Jews and pray that it may be the last time we need feel compelled to do so.
The Speaker: There seem to be a lot of private conversations taking place. Maybe they are necessary, but they are a bit noisy.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
HOUSING ON GOVERNMENT LAND
Hon Mr Sweeney: Since assuming the Housing and Municipal Affairs portfolios, I have said many times that we must increase the housing choices for our families now and for our children in the future. This means increasing opportunities for families to buy an affordable home and creating decent places to live for those who rent. Selling government-owned lands for housing is a modest but important part of this effort. I would now like to update members on the progress this government is making under the province’s Housing First policy.
During the next year I expect construction will begin on approximately 2,200 homes on provincial government lands. This new housing will include affordable starter homes people can buy and nonprofit homes for rent. We are able to do this thanks to a new residential land sales initiative developed jointly by my ministry and the Ministry of Government Services. The key to this new residential land sales approach is that the government sells its land to a qualified builder who guarantees the lowest sales price of affordable starter homes to be built on those lands.
Construction will start during the next year on these 2,200 homes in Mississauga, Bowmanville, Windsor, Kitchener, Guelph and Stoney Creek. I also expect work to begin on an additional 250 homes on government land in Oakville in 1991. I am pleased to say that more than half of the new homes on these sites, about 500 homes for rent and about 800 starter homes for sale, will be affordable for low- and moderate-income households.
This morning, my two colleagues the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward) and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Ms Collins) and the member for Wentworth East made an announcement in Stoney Creek which is the first concrete example of what we will do on government-owned lands in the next few years. Eighty starter homes priced at $59,700 will be built on land currently owned by the province in the Heritage Green community of Stoney Creek.
As my colleague the Minister of Government Services said this morning: “These starter homes are the first achievement of our government’s new residential land sales initiative and it’s an achievement in which the community of Stoney Creek, and indeed the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, can take pride.”
The land will be sold to two local builders, Losani Homes Ltd of Stoney Creek and Tommar Construction Co Ltd of Hamilton, who will build and market these homes during the coming year.
These 80 starter homes will be available only to first-time buyers, and antispeculation measures will be used to ensure they remain affordable. Interested buyers will be able to obtain details by calling a hotline number to be set up and advertised by the builders in January.
As part of the agreement, the builders acquire land in Stoney Creek which can provide 140 lots for the construction of detached homes that they may sell according to market.
Today’s announcement is good news. But affordable home ownership is only part of our effort to increase housing choices. Another important aspect is nonprofit housing designed, built and managed by local nonprofit groups.
Last Friday, my ministry gave the go-ahead for nonprofit organizations to plan for more than 6,400 rental units through my ministry’s Homes Now program. Since it began just over a year ago, Homes Now has allocated about 28,000 nonprofit homes across the province.
I recognize the crucial role nonprofit groups play in creating affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income households. That is why some 500 of the 2,400 homes that will be going up on provincial lands in these seven communities that we are talking about today will be affordable rental housing.
With this initiative, this government is increasing the ownership and rental housing choices for the people of this province. Homes built on these government lands will be a well-planned mix of low-rise apartments, townhouse-style condominiums, semidetached and detached homes. These new homes will fit in with existing neighbourhoods.
By working with the building industry, nonprofit groups and municipalities, we are able to create a significant amount of affordable homes that people can buy or rent.
This announcement marks a significant new direction in the use of surplus government land for housing. But to continue this momentum, we need the commitment and the creativity of the province’s builders, nonprofit groups, municipalities and the public.
As Minister of Housing and Minister of Municipal Affairs, I will continue devoting my energies to seek new ways to expand the housing choices for people today and for our children tomorrow.
HOUSING ON GOVERNMENT LAND
Mr D. S. Cooke: I would like to take a couple of minutes to respond to the Minister of Housing and start off by indicating to the minister that we would be enthusiastically in support of this if it was truly a mechanism of providing housing for middle- and low-income families across this province, but at first look at the announcement, in Stoney Creek, for example, it looks like 220 building lots are going to be made available, of which 140 of those are going to go at market value and provide market value housing to people in that community, about a ratio of two to one, an absolutely huge government subsidy from the taxpayers of this province to provide that type of housing.
I think this first announcement is an indication of the minister’s and this government’s obsession with ownership housing rather than continuing the progress that has been made in the last few years of getting more co-op and nonprofit housing available on the market across this province.
The minister’s referred to making sure that the 80 units would remain affordable by saying that there is going to be some antispeculation measures but he does not tell us at all what those measures are. His government has totally resisted any kind of speculation tax to make sure that we try to protect people in urban areas across this province, and now he comes up with a statement today and says some undefined secret mechanism is going to be put in place to make sure that these units remain affordable. We just do not buy it. That is not what has happened in the past, and I do not see that that is going to happen in the future. There have been other programs like this in place before, and we have seen what has happened to the prices of those housing units.
When members take a look at this announcement today and at the announcement the minister made on Friday of the over 6,000 units in the co-op and nonprofit areas -- that is basically the last allocation of the Homes Now program -- with no future program at all for nonprofit and co-op housing from the provincial level for next fiscal year or the year after, I think they will see that the crisis in housing that exists in this province now is simply going to get worse.
The minister has taken tours and has met with people. Dealing with the homeless in his province and in particular in this community, I say to him, it is not good enough to go out as he did on October 2 and talk about home ownership to homeless people in this community and expect that just because that is his view of the world, that is everybody’s view of the world.
There are people in this community and across Ontario who want decent, affordable rental housing. That is the most practical way of providing affordable housing in this province in communities like Metro Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa. The minister has to get his act together and get back into that market next year by a massive housing program. He has abandoned proper protection of tenants in this province through the rent review legislation. That housing is skyrocketing because they do not have proper protection. The minister is getting out of the co-op and nonprofit housing, so there is not going to be affordable rental housing coming on the market, and now he is providing a very small number of units with absolutely no protection to guarantee that those houses will remain affordable and at the same time providing an incredible subsidy to the private developers by giving them building lots at very low value.
This is a very disappointing announcement, and it indicates that the government’s policy on providing affordable housing in this province is absolutely bankrupt and that things are obviously going to be getting worse.
Mr B. Rae: Just to reinforce the comments by my colleague the Housing critic and our House leader, I want to say to the minister that I recall the assisted home ownership program -- I am sure the minister does -- going back some 15 years to the days of the Liberal regime, the Trudeau regime, in Ottawa. Those houses entered the market and became the eventual subject of speculation.
I do not understand how the minister thinks he can have it both ways. How can he say that he is somehow going to stop speculation for the first 80 homes in Stoney Creek that are so-called affordable while his Treasurer, when I have asked him the same question over and over again as we face speculation in the province, has been saying for the last several years that there is no role for the province in stopping speculation? I think there is an incoherence here which is going to end up causing the minister great problems.
Mr Harris: First of all, I want to say that I and my party are supportive of the move to home ownership. We are supportive of the stated objectives of the minister to move into the home ownership route, although we have some concerns with the announcement that was made today.
However, I want to put on the record my disagreement with my colleagues from the New Democratic Party. We believe that home ownership is the way that we should be moving, into providing far more efficient costs, into providing control, into providing people with the dream of home ownership and a vested interest in a property which we believe will significantly reduce the overall commitment that government will have to be making.
Having said that, of all the billions that the ministry is talking about, this announcement is only talking about 80 units. I guess my biggest concern is that the minister is spending billions and billions of dollars and allocating billions of dollars to subsidize housing when the real problem is that the government, led by the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the minister’s cabinet colleagues, has not in any co-ordinated way been able to tackle the basic infrastructure problems that this province has. The government has not made infrastructure decisions on providing serviced land at affordable cost so that the private sector could build all of this housing far cheaper than the government is having to do by subsidizing.
On basic infrastructure decisions such as transit. roads, parks, schools, hospitals, sewers, water and garbage, the government has done nothing for the past five years. It has had unlimited opportunity. It has had gobs of money. But it has refused to make the difficult infrastructure decisions as a government and as a party and so now it has to spend billions of dollars subsidizing where it would not have had to spend a penny subsidizing had it made those basic infrastructure decisions.
Unfortunately, I guess for 42 years people took for granted that these decisions just happen, but we have seen in the past five years that they do not just happen. Somebody consciously has to make those basic, good, sound management infrastructure decisions, and they have been ignored by this administration for the past five years. It is ironic that the flagship of the announcement today, the Stoney Creek announcement on Lake Ontario, is so late in coming. It is actually a reannouncement from July 1988, and the government has done nothing, but now it is going to have to exempt it from the environmental assessment process.
I am surprised my colleagues from the New Democratic Party did not mention that. That again requires sound planning. You have to anticipate down the road, put the infrastructure into place and be cognizant of the environmental impacts. Now the minister is exempting this project from the EA process. He is saying: “We are so far behind, so desperate, we are going to fire this money in and we ourselves are not going to have to follow the Environmental Assessment Act.”
The second part of the minister’s announcement talks about another reannouncement of some of the specifics of the billions he is putting into the nonprofit sector. In North Bay, under the predecessor to Homes Now, Project 3000, they allocated 18 units to the nonprofit sector in North Bay. They are going to open next spring at a cost of $100,000 a unit. They average about 1.8 bedrooms. The private sector is building these things far better, far sounder for in the neighbourhood of $60,000 to $65,000 a unit.
When we see the government’s $3 billion -- $2 billion in the last budget and $1 billion now -- for 30,000 homes, it is averaging $100,000 a unit. .By the time the government fritters around -- it is so far behind in the infrastructure; the nonprofit groups have to hire consultant after consultant, architect after architect -- the cost is averaging $30,000 to $40,000 a unit more than the private sector is doing all on its own without any government help and it is wasting about $1 billion in the process.
We applaud the initiatives to move towards home ownership. But this government cannot manage its way out of a wet paper hat.
Mr B. Rae: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), perhaps I might address my questions to the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet. The former Minister of Tourism and Recreation, who is now the Minister of Mines (Mr O’Neil), received a memorandum on 20 March from the chairman of the board of Ontario Place, Patricia Starr. This memorandum has been referred to in the House before.
In that memo she said, “Dear Hugh:” and then in large type, “Ontario Place has cut its deficit by just over $2 million for fiscal year ending March 31, 1989!!!” and closes by saying: “Thank you for your continued support. We’re looking forward to a dynamite season.”
Mr D. S. Cooke: Someone blew the Liberals out of the water.
Mr B. Rae: Something blew up; that is obvious.
My first question to the minister is, I wonder how he can explain how a senior public servant, such as Mrs Starr was at that time, could have been so completely wrong in her estimate of what the deficit for Ontario Place would be. She said that, “Ontario Place has cut its deficit by just over $2 million…!!!” In fact, the deficit was cut by $1.4 million. It is a $600,000 error.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: Has the minister any explanation for Mrs Starr’s $600,000 error?
Hon Mr Elston: I do not know how the calculation was arrived at, nor do I recall actually being asked to compute any of the deficit reduction or otherwise. I do know that overall there were a number of improvements made at Ontario Place and there was an expectation, I think, that there would be an increase in people attending. People at Ontario Place are quite well aware of the increased pressure on the entertainment dollar in a market which is quite actively occupied by several attractions, not only in this area but in areas which are quite close.
From my point of view, there are probably some explanations which would come from people who actually wrote the memo. I am not in a position to second-guess the person who wrote the memo, nor am I in a position to tell the member in detail about the reactions of people from the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, but I will undertake to get back to the member after I have had a chance to discuss this with the people at Tourism and Recreation.
Mr B. Rae: Since the minister could not explain this $600,000 error by Mrs Starr in a memorandum which she wrote as the 1989 fiscal year was ending, which is a rather significant mistake, I wonder how he can respond to the following criticisms which were launched by the Provincial Auditor against the administration at Ontario Place under Mrs Starr’s management.
He describes “related planning and rationale being much less developed and supported than would normally be expected of a public section institution.” He “found that the processes followed did not ensure that moneys were well spent or that fairness and equity were demonstrated.” He found, on concession letting, the practices were “so informal that we could not determine whether all potential operators were treated in a fair and equitable manner.” He found that so many people had left or were fired “that hiring procedures were less formal in order to meet operating season pressures.”
The Speaker: Your question.
Mr B. Rae: There were no advertisements and no fair hiring practices as is common in the public service.
I wonder if the minister can explain how it is that a deputy minister of the Liberal government who was on the board of Ontario Place apparently approved of all these practices --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: -- many of which are questioned by the auditor. How could the government have been asleep at the till all that time for those two years when all these practices were taking place?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman is going through a number of items which I will look into, with respect to hiring practice and other things. He knows that we take the auditor’s report very seriously indeed and we look into the issues that are brought to our attention by honourable members such as himself. We know that he will be happy to receive my fuller report when I have had chance to speak to the people at Tourism and Recreation with whom the Ontario Place Corp has a definite and legal connection.
Mr B. Rae: The auditor finds all kinds of questionable practices with regard to the letting of contracts, with regard to what happened to staff turnover. One example, which I am sure members will relate to and all members of the public will relate to, is that baseball caps for the uniforms cost $2 in 1988 and they cost $11 in 1989. A woman’s sweater cost $10 in the previous year, 1988; it went up to $35 in 1989. He questions the whole way in which this particular contract for $150,000 was let.
Again, the government was there. The deputy minister is a member of the board. Here we have the minister himself posing in full tuxedo --
The Speaker: Question.
Mr B. Rae: -- regalia with the other corporate sponsors, along with Mrs Starr. I want to know why is it that the government is posing for pictures with Mrs Starr, the cabinet ministers are posing for pictures with Mrs Starr, the government has its deputy minister on the board and this kind of misbehaviour is going on.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman has a series of questions about which I undertook to get back, but let me say a couple of things. The member is asking me to get back to him with respect to the turnover of a number of people of whom it was adjudged that there were difficulties in administration when the individual, Mrs Starr, took over. There was a lag in the amount of business that was generated for Ontario Place Corp.
There were decisions made with respect to changing, to upgrade and to become more vigorous in looking for people to attend the Ontario Place Corp grounds. It seems to me that there are things which, he would understand, having been done to try to increase the attendance at Ontario Place, required some very quick action indeed. But I say again that I will get back to him. He knows that I am not directly in charge of Ontario Place, but I will provide him with a report on what I determine to be the underlying causes of this.
With respect to other items about pictures being taken or otherwise, I will likewise request that he be included in the next series of official photographs at Ontario Place.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Attorney General.
Hon Mr Bradley: Does this involve photographs?
Mr B. Rae: There are no photographs apparently involved in this one.
The Attorney General said in April 1988, when he introduced the Retail Business Holidays Amendment Act -- I just want to remind the Attorney General of what he said at that time because he may have forgotten -- that, “The existing legislation...has been flagrantly and systematically violated by numerous retailers and was particularly violated during the Christmas and post-Christmas shopping season.” He went on to say: “Each year... disrespect for the law has become widespread,” and, “The act was...a law whose application was becoming more and more impossible to enforce, particularly in many large urban centres.” I could read the entire speech, but I think I will spare the House that pleasure.
The Speaker: Question.
Mr B. Rae: This sounds very much to me like a description of this past weekend and indeed of the weekend prior to that. I want to ask the Attorney General why he has not done the one thing which will bring a stop to the number of illegal store openings across the province, bring an application in the name of the Attorney General, in the name of the government of Ontario, that will apply across the province and that will ensure the law is in fact enforced across Ontario?
Hon Mr Scott: I have been the Attorney General for four years and I can always tell when it is Christmas because we have this kind of question from the Leader of the Opposition. The reality is that there is better compliance with the law this year than there has been in any of the preceding four years.
Mr B. Rae: No.
Hon Mr Scott: No? The honourable member, and it is lucky for him, has a very short memory. If the honourable member goes back to the circumstances that obtained in the last four years he will find that we have a better compliance record this year than we have ever before had.
We have difficulties in four regions. In two of those regions the municipalities have acted to seek an injunction and we have indicated that we will support them. I wrote to the regional chairman in Metropolitan Toronto on Friday to that effect and we have indicated that more broadly. But we believe that the best way to initiate the process is for the municipalities to act first, because as the honourable member will know, you have to have the names and locations of the stores that you seek to have the injunction against.
I do not know what stores in Sault Ste Marie the municipality wants to have closed because it has a tourist area there.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Scott: The municipalities must act first. We have indicated that we will support them, and we will.
Mr B. Rae: I want the Attorney General to know that he has far more authority in this matter than he is prepared to give himself. I do not know why he is being such a shrinking violet and so modest in terms of what he can do. This modesty is completely out of character for the Attorney General.
Section 8 of the Retail Business Holidays Act sets this out. It says that, “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 bylaw or regulation under this act.”
Mr Justice Potts has ruled that if we want to enforce compliance under the act, it is the Attorney General who has to bring the application. I want to say to the Attorney General, why not bring an application, why not gather the information across the province and bring the application in such a way that there will be no doubt as to where he stands? The public has the impression that the Attorney General is not prepared to enforce the law. What is he going to do to end that impression?
Hon Mr Scott: From the very beginning we have made plain that where charges are laid the crown law staff will vigorously enforce them. The member will have seen that something like 41 charges were laid over the last two days in the three regions with which we are primarily concerned, where most of the problems have arisen. We have also indicated, with respect to those municipalities that propose to act, that we will support them and go with them to court in order to seek an injunction.
My honourable friend seems to think that you can get some kind of injunction that is directed to everybody. You cannot. You have to list the stores and their locations in each community, which is information that can only be obtained by local police forces.
We have said to municipalities, and I say it again, “If you take those steps, we will be glad to support your application so that an injunction can be granted.” The regions are co-operating, providing a better understanding of what is at stake than the Leader of the Opposition, who just gets up on Monday morning, reads it in the paper and comes in and asks a question.
Mr B. Rae: We are coming close to a season in which charity is the order of the day, but I want to say to the Attorney General that I find it difficult to believe, I find it hard to understand; when this government is faced with full-page newspaper advertisements in every major newspaper which set out clearly and categorically the plans of stores to break the law, when corporate presidents are on television and are holding press conferences announcing that they are going to break the law, that it is their intention to break the law because they do not like the law, this Attorney General is saying, “Well, I have to wait to see what a local municipal council does.” I do not understand that. I have difficulty comprehending why the Attorney General is taking that position.
I repeat, the law says the Attorney General can bring an application. Section 8 sets that out very clearly and specifically.
The Speaker: Question.
Mr B. Rae: Why is he not personally using section 8, why is the government not using section 8 in order to stop this nonsense right dead in its tracks? He can do it.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Scott: Let’s take a concrete example where the issue in fact arises. We have indicated to Metropolitan Toronto that if its police officers will lay charges we will prosecute those charges to the limit of the law, and that we are doing. They have sought to obtain injunctions against not 25, not 55, but two store owners and have run into a problem as a result of the decision of Mr Justice Potts.
We have indicated to them by letter that if they want our support with respect to the injunction application they have brought against two store owners, we will provide it. We have made the same offer to any other municipality in the province, and the public will want to know we are fully discharging our responsibilities under this law.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet. I would like to question the Chairman of Management Board with respect to the Provincial Auditor’s report on the operations of Ontario Place.
The litany of irregularities is truly amazing as outlined in this report. I would like to ask the Chairman of Management Board if he in fact agrees with the position of the auditor in connection with the number of irregularities, which include inadequate tendering practices, as pointed out earlier, hiring without competition, unusually high staff turnover. Does he agree with the auditor in his statements as they relate to those areas and others he has pointed out or does he take the position that supports Mrs Starr, who indicated there were no irregularities as they relate to the operation of Ontario Place?
Hon Mr Elston: As I have informed the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae), I will inquire more fully of the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and provide information for him plus the member representing the third party.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that I certainly agree with the fact that there was a high rate of turnover at Ontario Place and that, in my view, it coincided with a change in mandate to more aggressively market the great facilities at the Ontario Place Corp grounds. We will look more fully into the manner in which there was replacement of staff at that facility.
Mr Brandt: While aggressively marketing Ontario Place, it might be of interest to the minister to note that, when fees for the admission to Ontario Place were increased substantially, attendance went down.
With regard to the number of irregularities that I am speaking of, relating to staff turnover as an example, some 58 people in the senior management levels were either fired or quit out of a staff of some 80 at that particular level of the operation. That is not only highly unusual, it is almost unheard of in the civil service that this many people would leave that particular corporation. I would like the minister to look into that as well.
In particular, and my question is related to this one, will the minister investigate specifically the purchase of some $40,000 worth of equipment at Ontario Place, by Mrs Starr apparently, which one year later was auctioned off for $6,000, a loss to the taxpayers of some $34,000? I want to know why that equipment was purchased and why a year later it was actioned off, and of particular interest to me it; who purchased the equipment for $6,000.
Hon Mr Elston: I will inquire.
Mr Brandt: The government indicated, in statements that we had heard earlier about Ontario Place, that it was going to substantially improve the operations as a result of some of the changes that were taking place. The bottom line is that this facility, which has run well, admittedly with a deficit over the years but without particular controversy, is now in a state of upheaval the likes of which I have never seen before.
How is it possible that a deputy minister who would be there ostensibly as a watchdog for the government, to protect the interests of the taxpayer, would be in attendance at the meetings at which some of these things were carried out, meetings at which these decisions were in fact made? What has the minister or his government said to this particular deputy minister in connection with his responsibilities relative to looking after the interests of the taxpayer?
Hon Mr Elston: I know for instance that the former Minister of Tourism and Recreation, who is the member for Quinte (Mr O’Neil), spent a great deal of time in reviewing the activities at Ontario Place and had a series of concerns about the number of staff turnovers. But in conjunction with what the member has already observed, and that is the number of years in which Ontario Place had been unable to meet a balanced budget situation and had actually declined in attractiveness to some of the people who would choose between it and another venue for their recreational activities, there was an understanding that there would he changes of personnel and that there were difficulties in marketing which had to be overcome to ensure that there was a more aggressive pursuit of increased attendance.
While there were changes being made with respect to firms that were providing services on the grounds and while there was put in place a capital plan which would reach into the future to provide some attractions on the grounds, there were debates within the organization about how best to manage in the short term. I can tell the honourable member that what we were trying to do was fully put in place a very active marketing strategy for Ontario Place Corp. I do not know, for instance, about the particular equipment of which he speaks, but I will inquire about that and inquire about some of the other activities he has asked about and will provide a fuller report to both the member and the Leader of the Opposition at a future date.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Brandt: As expected, I have a question for the Attorney General in connection with the Retail Business Holidays Act. I would like to ask the Attorney General, in view of the decision that Mt Justice Potts has brought down in connection with this matter, how long he anticipates it will take the municipalities to have their bylaws in order so that they can in fact act in order to protect their interests on a local level and also comply with the directive, as issued by Mr Justice Potts, relative to the requirement for such bylaws.
Hon Mr Scott: I think there is a misunderstanding about the nature of the decision. There is nothing in the decision that says the municipality must pass any bylaw nor is there anything in the decision that casts any doubt on the validity of the provincial law. What his lordship said, as I understand his reasons, was that the Attorney General alone could bring the application that is required to grant an injunction. That decision is not binding on any other judge in the province and there will be other judges who will make other decisions.
I have indicated that in so far as that decision presents a difficulty for the region of Metropolitan Toronto or indeed any other municipality in the province, we will be prepared to lend the name of the ministry to any application that the municipality is prepared to make to the court. Those applications can be brought at any time the municipality wants to bring them.
Mr Brandt: The Attorney General is saying that Mr Justice Potts did not in fact require of the municipalities that they have their bylaws in place in advance of taking action against the individual stores. If he is saying that and that the provincial government will have the ultimate responsibility to bring action in co-operation with the municipalities, why will he not take the advice that we offered him in a spirit of goodwill some weeks ago?
We attempted to get him to act under section 8, whereby he could make sure, in co-operation with local police forces, that those laws were in fact being enforced properly at the local level when the municipalities did not want to have those stores open on a Sunday. Why would the Attorney General not act under section 8 as he has the authority to do?
Hon Mr Scott: I guess the honourable member was preoccupied preparing his questions when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae), well ahead of him, asked precisely this question. The reason, if I can just approach it again, is that in order to make an application for an injunction, the local police must essentially do two things.
They must, first of all, lay criminal charges or quasi-criminal charges, or be prepared to explain why they have not, not only against the persons against whom the injunction is sought, but against anybody else in the community as well. They must, second, conduct an investigation to determine that the store is open in breach of the bylaw. Only municipal police officers can do the work that is necessary to found an injunction. I have no power, nor has the government, to instruct local police officers on what they may or should do. That can only be done by the municipality itself in those places where there is a municipal police force.
We have said to the municipalities, we have said since Friday and before, although it did not appear to be necessary before, that if they wish to act, if they wish to instruct their police to give priority to this, if they wish to prepare the information necessary to obtain an injunction, we will support their application so that the technical requirement of Mr Justice Potts’s decision will be met as long as it remains the law of the province.
Mr Brandt: I want to thank the Attorney General for bringing to my attention the fact that he had answered the question previously. Neither my party nor, I believe, the official opposition or the people of Ontario are happy with the Attorney General’s answer. That is why I asked the question again.
I would like to ask the Attorney General, just so he could clarify for all to hear, what in the world the purpose of putting section 8 in the act was if, for purposes of having the province take any initiative whatever in regard to enforcement, he has no intention of acting in a province-wide manner, as has been suggested by many, many individuals who feel that is the only way he can bring the present chaotic situation under some kind of control.
He knows full well that local police forces can lay charges which are, in fact, then pursued in the courts by the province of Ontario. He continues to play with words to indicate--
The Speaker: Order. The question was asked. Order.
Hon Mr Scott: The power of the Attorney General, which is the same as the power of the municipalities under section 8, is simply designed to be applied in the event that some municipalities should, for example, say. ‘We are not going to enforce the act or our bylaws at all within the municipality.” Then it would be open to the Attorney General to act. That situation has not yet occurred --
Mr B. Rae: That is not what it says at all.
Hon Mr Scott: -- and, of course, when it does, we will have to address that situation.
Mr B. Rae: There is nothing in the act which implies that for a moment.
Hon Mr Scott: The other possibility -- and it is getting very difficult for anybody to hear because the Leader of the Opposition is yelling at the top of his lungs again, but I will try.
The second reason why the Attorney General might intervene to bring an application is if a single store or a single chain indicated that it proposed to open its doors on Sunday all across Ontario, in every municipality. But that situation as well has not occurred. We have the capacity, but so has the municipality. In so far as there is a technical difficulty, as a result of Mr Justice Potts’s decision, which was not anticipated, we have indicated to those municipalities that we will support their application if they bring it.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Mackenzie: I have a serious question for the Minister of Labour. On 1 April 1986, Tarlok Cwahbra was seriously injured at the Brampton plant of Johnson Matthey Ltd when material he was preparing for melting exploded in his hand. Three years later, on 24 November, the Ministry of Labour has decided not to proceed with charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Immediately after the ministry withdrew those charges, Mr Cwahbra was fired from his job.
Not only are workers in Ontario faced with the risk of losing life and limb, but they must suffer the further indignity of losing their jobs because of the government’s inactivity. Can the Minister of Labour tell this House why Mr Cwahbra’s case was dropped and the employer remains unpunished when there was clear evidence that the employer did not comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act in Ontario?
Hon Mr Phillips: I am not familiar with the details of that case. I assumed, as with any case I have looked at, that the legal branch of the Ministry of Labour would have looked at that case and have concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed. I will look into the matter further, but I must say that as I have looked at the statistics for the ministry, our prosecutions actually have increased quite substantially, so that rather than leaving the impression that in fact we have proceeded with fewer prosecutions, I think actually the opposite has been the case.
But, in that specific case, I will look into the matter. I can only assume, as I said earlier, that our legal officials examined the evidence carefully and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
Mr Mackenzie: This question was first raised in this House on 4 June 1986 when my colleague Elie Martel asked the then Minister of Labour why two months had passed without charges in this rather serious case. The then minister, the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr Wrye), responded by saying, and I quote, “I do not view a little over two months to be an extraordinarily long period of time.” What about three and a half years?
The company certainly does not want this disabled person working for it. The ministry deliberately stalled a well-investigated case, helping the company to achieve its goals. With the ministry and his colleagues so obviously in the company’s pocket, who is to initiate prosecutions and to provide the protection that Ontario workers are entitled to and require?
Hon Mr Phillips: I find the comments rather offensive. I just took a look at the statistics. Our prosecutions have more than doubled in the last three years and our convictions have virtually doubled. To suggest that the Ministry of Labour is doing anything other than enforcing, to the best of its ability and the maximum of its opportunities, the Occupational Health and Safety Act I find rather offensive frankly. Those are the overall statistics.
In that specific case, I can only conclude that our legal branch, as it does in each case, examined the evidence clearly. The member can see by the statistics, there have been double the number of prosecutions and virtually double the number of convictions. Those are the facts. In that particular case, I certainly will look into the matter, but I think we will find, as in all other cases, that our legal branch has done its work, as it does so well, and as these numbers suggest, is being successful at it.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Health. In view of the findings of the Stella Lacroix inquest and the very clear statement that has been made in connection with the nonexistence of a so-called hotline, recognizing that the minister shared information with this House which was contrary to that which has now been proved at the inquest and recognizing as well that one of the recommendations of the inquest is that such a hotline be established, is the minister prepared to indicate that either she misinformed the House when she shared that information with us or, alternatively, that the information the minister was given was incorrect and certainly indicated a situation that was far different than what was in place at that time?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would very much like to commend all of the care givers as well as the coroner’s jury for their fact-finding efforts. I would like to say to the leader of the third party that I have stated in this House on numerous occasions how important it is for all information given in this House to be accurate. The coroner’s inquest confirmed that the information that was given to me in the letter by the Toronto General Hospital -- the Toronto General Hospital stands by the information that it submitted. That information was shared in this House in good faith.
He would know as well that the inquest I think provided an important opportunity for all the facts to come out, and I think that our commitment to the establishment of regional hotlines across the province, which was announced last June, will go a long way to improve the quality and the effectiveness of care available to the residents of Ontario.
Mr Brandt: The minister did not answer the question. I guess I did not expect that the minister would answer the question.
At that particular time when this issue was relatively current in terms of the death of Stella Lacroix, the minister may recall that the Premier (Mr Peterson) said that Dr Nesdoly did not use the system that was in place. The system was not in place. The minister is referring now to steps that she supposedly was going to take back in June, preparing the province for some kind of a province-wide hotline, which is still not in place to this day.
Dr Nesdoly’s reputation was called into question in this House as a result of the statements that were made by both the minister and the Premier of this province. Subsequent to that, the inquest has now indicated that Dr Nesdoly should be receiving a commendation for the actions that he took in the attempts that he made to save a life. Is the minister prepared now to do the right and proper thing and simply apologize to Dr Nesdoly for the statements that she made?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the leader of the third party, as I have said before in this House, that neither I nor any member of this government ever blamed anyone. Just because he or members of his bench say that, does not make that true. He knows in fact that we shared with this House in good faith a letter from the Toronto General Hospital and that the Toronto General Hospital stood by the accuracy of that letter in the fact-finding efforts of the inquest.
I would say further to him that I in fact commend all of the health care providers who have provided very important emergency care to the people of this province. I will say again that I believe it is extremely important that information which is shared in this House should be accurate and I would refer him to Hansard.
The Speaker: There are other members waiting to ask a question.
Ms Hošek: My question is for the Minister of Government Services. Every year the government of Ontario spends many billions of dollars on goods and services. In the past year, there were organized outreach programs to reach more than 2,000 potential suppliers who were small business people, to educate them about the opportunities for them to do business with the government. As the minister will know, business people within the many ethnocultural communities in Ontario are also seeking to expand their opportunities.
My question to the minister is, what specifically is his ministry doing to help entrepreneurs from this sector have an equal opportunity on government contracts?
Hon Mr Ward: As the member will know, purchasing from the Ontario government is very significant indeed, totalling some $2 billion annually. Over the course of the past year and a half we have undertaken a very extensive exercise to try to make entrepreneurs throughout this province more aware of the opportunities that exist in terms of selling to the Ontario government.
Recently we have undertaken seminars entitled, “How to Do Business with the Ontario Government.” These have been held in virtually every region of the province. We have had an overwhelming response. Some 2,500 business people have shown up, and we have placed ads not only in the local daily papers but in the ethnic press as well in an attempt to reach all corners of the business community throughout Ontario.
The Speaker: Perhaps before I ask for the supplementary, I see there are two conversations going on very close to the minister. It might be helpful if -- thank you.
Ms Hošek: Is there a way in which the businesses and the ethnocultural communities can have better and more frequent access to the plans of the Ontario government in this area?
Hon Mr Ward: Yes, there is. The ministry is currently in the process of compiling a centralized list of all government suppliers. In the coming year we will be contacting all media, including the ethnic media, to ensure that all businesses are aware of this list and to ensure that everyone has equal access to it.
WINDSOR AREA ECONOMY
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question to the Premier who is not here, so I will ask the question to the Deputy Premier, who is also in charge of Ontario’s economy. I am sure that the provincial Treasurer saw the unemployment statistics last week and will have noted that my home community, Windsor, has now an official unemployment rate of 9.6 per cent, nearly 10 per cent, nearly double the provincial unemployment rate, and we are a community in southern Ontario.
I would like to ask the Treasurer, what is this government’s response to the unemployment crisis that exists in Windsor, the plant closure crisis and the downturn of the auto industry? What is he prepared to do now to avoid the kind of depression that we had in that community in the early 1980s?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member would want to know on a broader basis that the same report that brought forward the statistic that he is referring to, which is a very serious level of unemployment indeed, indicated that on a net basis in Ontario in November we gained approximately 5,000 new jobs and that this is the seventh consecutive month when there has been a net gain in employment. The figure that was provided for me as Minister of Economics was that this year so far there are 87,000 new jobs in Ontario, compared with the same period last year.
That is not much comfort to the honourable member who is speaking for Windsor. I can simply say to him that we feel that the downturn in certain aspects of the automobile market is a matter of concern there and in other centres as well, as usual, Windsor being the automobile town traditionally and historically, it is bearing the brunt of the early circumstances.
If the member wants me to talk about the various programs of the government for training and retraining and for assisting in the strengthening of our competitive position vis-à-vis other states and other jurisdictions, I would be glad to do so.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am sure the people of my community will not be interested in hearing about how large parts of Ontario are prospering, namely, Metropolitan Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe, and communities like Windsor are not sharing in that prosperity. We have not for the last number of years, and the ministers answer has just simply reinforced that.
Why does the minister not use the power of government to help a community that is not prospering during this time in Ontario and avoid the millions of dollars of cost and individual circumstance, health problems and all the rest that come about with the recession by moving in now and helping us to diversify our economy? Is the minister prepared to go down to Windsor and meet with community officials and look at some of the public sector jobs and see if some of those jobs can be increased in our community to help us diversify our community?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the suggestion put forward by the honourable member to make the basis of diversification giving a greater emphasis to the provision of public sector jobs is a good one. It is the sort of thing that we used, I feel, as a government quite effectively when many communities in the north were suffering from a very slow reaction to economic restrengthening. It is obviously one of the things that has to be given very careful and positive consideration.
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Attorney General. Last November 17 he was at a legal conference in Mont Ste Marie, Quebec, with many of the members of the legal profession from the Ottawa-Carleton area. While I am a member of the bar of the Carleton area, I get quite enough of the Attorney General here and did not attend that conference. But I do wish that I had attended that conference because evidently he said about Bill 68, the no-fault insurance bill, that it provides, and his words were, “worse coverage than that which is available under the current automobile insurance system.”
My question to the Attorney General quite simply is, how can he support Bill 68, the no-fault insurance bill, when he himself has admitted to the bar in eastern Ontario that it does not serve the public interest in a beneficial manlier?
Hon Mr Scott: I am delighted to be here to answer that question and I am delighted that the honourable member has asked it of me because that is not, as I recall, an accurate account of the impression I intended to convey. The point I was making, which is a point that has been made frequently by the minister in this House, is that in order to deal with the insurance prices, the selection of a threshold system of insurance was the development of a new kind of policy. Many of the benefits under the threshold policy, under the governments plan, are in fact a significant advance on benefits that presently exist under policies of insurance in the province.
What I was trying to say was that the threshold scheme was a different kind of insurance scheme, as it clearly is. I am very grateful that the honourable member asked me the question so I can correct that. I should say to the honourable member that he does not only miss the meeting at Mont Ste Marie when I am there or he would have been there on previous occasions. I understand he hardly ever goes at all. I have been there for the past four or five years. I have never seen him.
Mr Sterling: I do not have the expense account, the limousine, the car and driver to take me up to Mont Ste Marie and spend a weekend at the taxpayers’ expense.
The Attorney General is telling us that with Bill 68 in place, no one in this province will be denied coverage or will be dealt with in a worse manner than he is at present under our automobile insurance system. He is saying that everybody is going to be as well off as he was under our existing system, whereby anybody who is hit in an automobile can utilize the courts in order to seek compensation. Is that what he is telling us?
Hon Mr Scott: While we are on the subject, I understand that the honourable member used to miss the Mont Ste Marie meetings even when he was a minister. I was anxious to go this year because I wanted to pay tribute to him before his peers in the Ottawa Valley for the important help he gave us in the courts of justice bill, for which we are very grateful. But as he was almost unknown in the community, not having been at the meetings for so long, when I spoke well of him, there was some question of who he might be. But I did make it plain, that he was a devoted servant of the public of eastern Ontario.
The Speaker: And the response to the question might be?
Hon Mr Scott: I did not make plain the answer that the honourable member would want to put in my mouth because it is not what I intended to say. What I intended to say, in a full and thoughtful discussion on all sides of the government’s plan, was that the threshold scheme which has been adopted in many American states and is something short of the scheme that the regie has in Quebec, is a new scheme which contemplates a new kind of insurance policy which we believe will serve the public well. That is the plan that the government proposed and to which I was speaking.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mrs O’Neill: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues. Last Wednesday, 6 December, at the University of Montreal Ecole Polytechnique, 14 women were brutally murdered in an extreme act of violence. The women were targeted. Can the minister suggest ways in which we can ensure that such a senseless act of violence never takes place again?
Hon Mrs Wilson: Today, on this day of the funerals in Montreal, we must each be asking ourselves what we can do. We must work to change society’s attitudes towards women. Changing attitudes begins with understanding. We must understand the context in which this extreme act of violence targeted at women happened. Our society allows and even condones violence against women. Women suffer and die singly behind closed doors in this country every day.
Mrs O’Neill: What is the minister, the person responsible for women’s issues in our government. doing to eliminate violence against women?
Hon Mrs Wilson: As a society we need to work to change sexist attitudes. This government is committed to working to eliminate violence and harassment and other threats against women’s integrity and safety. It is clear from the speech from the throne that we are committed to eliminating violence against women and to providing safe and secure communities for the people of this province. We are in the fourth year of a five-year strategy to prevent wife assault. For the last number of months we have had an interministerial committee working to address the issue of sexual assaults on women. I will be taking recommendations from that committee to my colleagues very shortly.
Women should not have to live in fear of violence in the streets, in our institutions of higher learning, in the workplace or in our own homes. Together, as legislators and as people who represent the women and men of this province, I believe that we can work together to make a difference.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Education about Bill 66, An Act to revise the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, and to make related amendments to the Teaching Profession Act. The minister knows that an impasse has been reached with the various teachers’ federations in the attempt to achieve agreement on joint management of Ontario’s teachers pension plans.
With amendments under consideration in committee this week and the bill due to have final reading next week, why has the minister refused to meet with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation so that a mutually agreeable joint-control formula can in fact be achieved?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to thank my honourable friend from Sault Ste Marie for providing me with an opportunity to address this most timely issue of public policy, because it is not true to say that I or any of my colleagues in the government have been unwilling or unprepared to meet with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. I, myself, in the last five or six weeks have met on two different occasions at length to hear from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation about its views on this matter and at that time I made it very plain to the teachers that it was the view of the government that we would proceed as follows.
We recognize the teachers’ pension plan in Ontario to be one of the best pension plans in the free world. It was a pension plan, however, that was in real trouble because the indexation that had been provided 15 years ago was very badly funded and there was now something in the range of a $4-billion to $5-billion unfunded liability that we as a government were prepared to accept but that we wanted to ensure that for the future this very good plan would maintain its health, would be able to meet the obligations expected of it.
I told the teachers we would offer to the committee three different plan managements and we would be very anxious to hear from them at the committee as to what their views were.
Mr Morin-Strom: This minister has refused to meet with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation since 15 November, during the period that the key questions dealing with the three options were being addressed. The joint management agreement is not a joint agreement if it does not have a dispute settlement mechanism in it. This government refuses to recognize that it has to give up some control in order to have a joint-control model.
When will the minister do something on behalf of the teachers of this province and give them a really negotiated joint-control model rather than being the pawn of the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and insisting that the Ontario government continue to have absolute and total control over the teachers’ pension plans in Ontario’?
Hon Mr Conway: I am disappointed to have to observe that my friend, the learned doctor of philosophy from Sault Ste Marie, is strangely and completely confused on this matter because the government and I myself have in no way refused to meet the teachers. We have met countless times over the past 16 months. I repeat that just three weeks ago I met for several hours with the teachers and at that time I made plain to them that we would consider a number of options, not the least of the options being a member-run, teacher-run plan where the teachers could take complete responsibility for this multibillion-dollar fund.
I have said, on behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario, recognizing and representing the broad public interest, that if we are going to have a partnership model for governance we in government are not prepared to accept what the teachers want, which is a binding arbitration mechanism. We are prepared to consider partnership absolutely -- we are quite prepared to consider partnership -- but it has to be a partnership of equals where we both accept an equal share of risk and reward.
Mr McLean: My question is for the Solicitor General and it concerns the disturbing number of false alarms that Ontario police forces respond to. I am concerned at the high cost of false alarms and the disabling effects they have on police morale. His predecessor indicated that action would be taken to curb the rising number of false alarms and she vowed to help solve this costly problem.
Does the minister agree with his predecessor that action must be taken, and is he aware of any legislation that is on the books?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the question, first let me indicate I am quite aware of the issues surrounding the whole question of false alarms and the cost those impose in dollar terms to a number of municipalities.
As the member will be aware, there is a report by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police which specifically deals with this issue and I would like to inform you, Mr Speaker, and the member, in response to his question, that we are currently looking over those recommendations and we are currently assessing and analysing that particular issue.
Mr McLean: Since the Solicitor General agrees that there should be some action taken, I would like to know if he plans on supporting Bill 88, which was introduced in this House some time ago with regard to the legislation pertaining to alarms, if he will take the time to look at this legislation and see if it is acceptable to his government, and if it is, will he support it?
Hon Mr Offer: Dealing with the particular legislation, as the member will be aware, there are a number of issues surrounding the whole question of false alarms. Certainly those types of issues deserve a great deal of analysis and examination before any final determination is made. I would expect that the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police would expect no less, and I expect and see it as my responsibility to act on this very important issue.
Mr Miclash: My question is to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. There is a great amount of importance and emphasis placed on recreation centres in northern Ontario communities. Communities such as Sachigo Lake and Sandy Lake, which are in my riding, incorporate recreation into their daily activities to promote a more healthy lifestyle.
These communities depend on lottery-assisted grants to build and maintain recreation centres. Would the minister like to expand on the programs and to advise the House on the process for applying for these grants?
Hon Mr Black: I am pleased to respond to the question. First of all, each year we do allocate lottery-funded grants for both capital recreation projects in the conservation area and for providing new recreation facilities. The grant applications are processed through the regional offices of my ministry. They are evaluated there very carefully and the results of those evaluations are brought to Toronto where they are looked at in terms of both the regional level and also the provincial level.
Mr Miclash: Two of my communities, the two I mentioned -- Sachigo Lake and Sandy Lake -- have made application to receive lottery-assisted grants for capital recreation programs. In light of this, could the minister please respond to the inquiry regarding the anticipated date for decision of these applications?
Hon Mr Black: The staff in the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation is in the process of reviewing the grant applications at the present time. We would anticipate that early in the new year, perhaps as early as the middle of January, we will be in a position to take a final look at those applications and, hopefully, make announcements towards the end of January.
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources regarding expenditures by her ministry, just dealing with her ministry, for the environmental assessment proceedings with regard to timber management.
Is the minister aware that the expenditure for salaries for the years 1986 to 1989 was almost $2 million for her staff, and for travel and accommodation was almost $5 million, and for the first six months of this year salaries are $500,000 and travel and accommodation is $1.2 million?
Can the minister explain what effect this very large expenditure is having on the forestry management program in her ministry, since so much staff, time and money is being spent on the EA rather than direct forestry management?
Hon Mrs McLeod: There is no question that the demands of the class environmental assessment on the Ministry of Natural Resources, particularly in the initial months of the assessment, have been fairly significant both in terms of demands on staff time, since the Ministry of Natural Resources has been the primary witnesses up until a very recent point in time in the environmental assessment hearings, and also in terms of the travel so that those hearings can be heard in Thunder Bay, which is an issue we have discussed in the House before.
In terms of the effect of the costs of the class environmental assessment hearing for our ministry and its relationship to our forestry management budget, quite clearly our forestry management budget last year was $230 million. That was a high point. That money continued to be expended on our forest management. The class environmental assessment hearing information is a fundamentally important part of our future forest management decisions, including our timber production policy, so I do not consider it in any way irrelevant to the management of our forests.
Mr Wildman: At no time did I suggest they were irrelevant. The minister surely knows that we are not just talking about figures for the first few months of an EA, but rather for the first three years and for the first six months of this year.
Can the minister confirm that it appears now that the environmental assessment process will continue perhaps until the end of 1993 and that, if that is the case, projections of the figures spent so far would mean the total cost for her own ministry’s budget for the EA would be over $20 million? If that is the case, can she assure us that the recommendations of the environmental assessment process for which so much has been spent will be incorporated in the 20-year plans now being approved and finalized for April 199O?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I cannot confirm the length of the hearings. The hearings will obviously continue until the point at which they feel they have heard all the evidence and made the recommendations that are necessary. I would not anticipate at this point that they would last until 1993.
I would certainly indicate that figure the honourable member has cited represents probably a peak in the expenditure for the Ministry of Natural Resources because it reflects the period of time at which the Ministry of Natural Resources was providing the primary evidence. The costs in the earlier years were quite significantly less and they are projected to be less in this year and in subsequent years of the hearing.
Mr Ward moved that the following substitutions be made to the membership of the standing committees:
Standing committee on estimates: Mr Henderson for Mr Neumann.
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs: Mr Faubert for Mr Carrothers.
Standing committee on general government:
Mr Carrothers for Ms Oddie Munro.
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly: Mr M. C. Ray for Mr Faubert.
Standing committee on the Ombudsman: Mr Kanter for Mrs Smith.
Standing committee on regulations and private bills: Ms Oddie Munro for Mr M. C. Ray.
Standing committee on social development:
Mr Neumann for Mr Henderson.
The Speaker: I noticed a great number of members were paying very close attention to the motion by Mr Ward.
Motion agreed to.
NOTICE OF COMMITTEE HEARING
Hon Mr Ward moved that standing order 85 respecting notice of committee hearings be suspended for the consideration of Bill Pr56 by the standing committee on regulations and private bills on Wednesday 13 December 1989.
Motion agreed to.
COMMERCIAL CONCENTRATION LEVY
Mr Philip: I have a petition signed by some 40 employees in the hotel industry in the riding of Etobicoke-Rexdale:
“To the Honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We believe that the provincial Liberal government’s recently imposed commercial concentration levy tax will greatly hurt the ability of hotels in the greater Toronto area to compete with hotels in other areas. We believe that it will result in a postponement of capital investment in this area and mean a loss of jobs in the tourism industry. We call on members of the Legislature to express their disapproval of the government’s actions and we call on Premier David Peterson and Treasurer Robert Nixon to rescind the tax.”
I have signed the petition.
TOBACCO VENDING MACHINES
Mr Allen: I have a petition from 13 persons to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. These individuals state that the elimination of tobacco vending machines is a crucial component in a comprehensive government plan to control tobacco sales to minors and curb the onset of tobacco addiction among Ontario youth, and they ask the Minister of Health to introduce legislation to prohibit the sale of tobacco by means of a vending machine or, alternatively, require that vending machines be located only in areas legally inaccessible to minors.
I hereby submit this to the table. I have signed my name to it and agree with the propositions.
GREATER TORONTO AREA
Mr Philip: I have a petition which I understand was signed by people attending a meeting of the Elms Ratepayers’ Association in the riding I represent.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the Peterson Liberal government has decided to charge drivers in greater Metropolitan Toronto $90 per year for a car licence plate while at the same time only charging residents in other parts of Ontario $33 per year for identical licence plates;
“Whereas the same Peterson government has in this year’s budget imposed other taxes and levies on the people and businesses of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area which will not be imposed on those in other parts of Ontario;
“Whereas these taxes which are not based on income or profits hurt seniors and others on fixed incomes;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to express to the Liberal government our great disapproval of its policies of tax discrimination against the people of greater Metropolitan Toronto.”
I have signed the petition, and as with the last petition, I agree with it.
The Speaker: I must remind all members that when they are presenting petitions they do not have to -- under the new standing orders, in fact, they are asked not to -- read the complete petition.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mrs LeBourdais from the standing committee on general government presented the following report and moved its adoption.
Your committee begs to report the following bill with amendment:
Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
393598 ONTARIO LIMITED ACT, 1989
Mrs O’Neill moved first reading of Bill Pr49, An Act to revive 393598 Ontario Limited.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr Ward moved pursuant to standing order 6(b):
That, notwithstanding standing order 9, the House shall continue to meet from 8 pm to 12 midnight on 13, 18, 19 and 2O December 1989, at which time the Speaker shall adjourn the House without motion until the next sessional day.
The Speaker: I would remind all members under the new standing order that there is a two-hour time limit on discussion of this motion.
Does the minister have any opening comments?
Hon Mr Ward: As all members are aware, towards the end of the last session of Parliament, extensive discussions took place as to how we might improve the rules of operating around the Legislature. I know that certainly both opposition House leaders and the whips from all three parties put a great deal of effort into it.
During my four years here, I have noticed, as I am sure many other members have, that often when we recess at Christmas, the House has been recalled about two weeks later to work on unfinished business, much of it government business but some of it private members’ business as well.
In putting together the recommendations, it was felt that it would be appropriate to firmly establish at least the days of sitting for each sitting during a session of Parliament, which was in fact done. However, there was of course a transitional period and although this session was to have begun on 28 September and will carry through to 21 December, during the course of the transition, the House was not recalled until, I believe, 10 October. As a result, eight sessional days were lost. In addition, because of the federal New Democratic Party convention, by unanimous consent, the government most willingly agreed that the House would not sit on one Thursday. So members will know there was something like nine lost days during the current session.
However, since there has been tremendous co-operation around here and since we have been moving quite quickly, we find that it is not necessary to use all of the additional time provided for in the standing orders, that being eight night sittings at the close of each session. We feel it is appropriate, though, that we do sit the four nights that are indicated so that we can complete the bills that are on the agenda before the Christmas recess.
I look forward to the comments of my colleagues from the opposition parties, but I am sure they will be the first to admit this is a most reasonable proposition that will ensure that the essential bills of the government be completed before the recess.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am not going no speak for two hours, so I do not have to worry about the rules coming into effect and cutting me off, but I do have a few comments to make about this since this is the first time we have proceeded under this rule, the new rules having just been in effect for this session.
I think it is going to be important for the government to review the planning that has gone into this session, or in some cases the lack of lanning that has gone into this session, and why it has become necessary for us to use this rule, which I would hope would not become the normal course in the last two weeks of every session.
If we have a well-run and well-planned House, we should be able to avoid evening sittings, and I think we should do that to the best of our ability. Sitting up until midnight for two weeks straight before Christmas, at the same time as this is a very busy season back in our home ridings, is not a very healthy process to follow in this place. However, this was part of the give and take under the new rules. We are not going to oppose this violently, but I do think some review is necessary.
I saw a lot of legislation this session come in very late and very close to the two-week deadline, even though I know that ministers were very much aware that this legislation was going to b coming down the line. In particular, the highest offender is the Ministry of the Attorney General. If I were a minister, I suppose I could look at the process under the new rules and plan to bring in legislation close to the deadline and try to avoid full debate on the legislation because the government can impose the rules and make us sit until midnight, saying, “Either you pass it quickly or you sit for the last two weeks every night until midnight.” I think there is evidence to indicate that some ministers have used this section of the rules to avoid lull and democratic debate.
I think there was also an effort by the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr Elston) to use these rules when he wanted to try to avoid public hearings on the insurance legislation. The government knew the opposition parties wanted full and complete public hearings, with some travel across the province, to get input from the voters in this province on this very important piece of legislation which will dramatically change the way insurance is provided to drivers across this province.
Its first plan was no public hearings, and the bill had to be passed by 21 December. It knew very well that it could enforce that with the rules that exist for the last two weeks. In that particular case the government House leader intervened, I think with good common sense, and achieved some plan to bring about public hearings, both a couple of weeks before Christmas and four or five weeks after Christmas, with some hearings across the province.
But I think that the government House leader is going to have to be very careful. He is going to have to make sure his cabinet ministers are not abusing this section of the rules.
I was going to say we are prepared to sit evenings for the next couple of weeks. We have no alternative but to sit for evenings in the next couple of weeks. However, we will not debate this motion at length. We want to give this a try. We want to see that the integrity of the calendar is respected by all three political parties, and we are certainly very much interested in seeing the legislative calendar work.
I do look at reviewing the government must-have bills that were submitted to us only a few weeks ago, and I think a case could be made that many of these pieces of legislation have not been before the Legislature long enough; many of them were introduced late to try to avoid full public hearings.
I would hope that when we get to this same type of time period in June that the government House leader will be a little tougher with his cabinet colleagues and make sure they are not abusing the rules, because I can tell him that if the rules are abused, we also have some actions that we can take under the new rules.
If this becomes the norm rather than the exception, I think the opposition parties will certainly rebel because we are not going to see legislation go through this place without the proper scrutiny. Our job here is to hold the government accountable, to have full debates on legislation so that we know all the consequences of the legislation that is proposed and so that the public has an opportunity to understand the government proposals. We intend to carry out those responsibilities; we take them very seriously.
We will not be supporting this motion. We will be voting against it. However, we are not going to drag out this debate; we will carry on. I hope that come the spring session, we will get started on the appropriate date as spelled out by the calendar, not late as was the case this fall, and that we will have a better-planned session to avoid midnight sittings come June when the spring session will come to an end.
Mr Harris: I too want to take a few minutes to talk about this motion, which in essence is a motion from the government House leader expressing complete and total failure to manage the affairs of the House in an organized, logical and proper way throughout this particular session.
It is a motion that has been brought forward at the first available opportunity to say: “Look, we kind of blew it last spring. We should have done the tax bills, as we know should be done right after the budget.” I do not blame the current House leader for that; he was not in the position at that time. But since he has the job now, he has to take total responsibility on behalf of the government for all the floundering that has taken place over this past session and, indeed, over the past number of sessions. Clearly this government has very little sense of how to run the House or of what is fair and reasonable time for debate.
There is an expectation, I suggest, as the famous Greek proverb goes, that the fish smells from the head on down. I suspect that it starts with an attitude of the Premier (Mr Peterson) that is: “We have a majority. Let’s see how much stuff we can jam through. Let’s allow no time, or very little time, for debate unless they squeal real hard. And let’s not have hearings unless we are forced into it. We don’t want to hear from the public unless we are actually forced into it, and then at that point we’ll come out and say, ‘Yes, let’s have hearings,’ and pretend we were good guys all along and wanted them.”
We have seen this time after time after time with pieces of legislation over the last couple of years. But even the House leader’s comments today suggest this attitude has not changed, even though we have new rules now where we have all agreed to try to have this Legislature and this chamber operate in a more efficient manner, to try to set out the parameters for how we will conduct the business, as opposed to the actual business itself, and regularize it. I think it was the hope of some of us that we might improve the decorum of the Legislature as well. Unfortunately we had not counted on the Attorney General not recognizing that improving the decorum was in fact a priority, so that has not been the case at this particular point in time.
The House leader for the government today said, “We’ve wasted nine days.” One of those days was for the New Democratic Party convention. I do not think that was a waste. We would never have heard Simon de Jong and the history that he wrote for us and for all politicians, one that I am very sensitive to. I can tell members, as my party heads into events this spring, that I appreciate having the opportunity to see how things should be done, as I thought the New Democratic Party nationally did some things very well, and how some things should not be done. So I do not consider that a wasted day.
I assume the other eight wasted days he is talking about are opposition days.
Hon Mr Ward: No.
Mr Harris: He said nine wasted days. I do not know where he gets the other eight wasted days, but the attitude of the government, starting with the Premier, is that anything the opposition wants to talk about is a wasted day, that any time the public wants to have some say that is a wasted day. That is how this administration has viewed public hearings. It is indeed that attitude that bothers us. It is an attitude, from the Premier and the cabinet on down, that says:
“What the opposition has to say, what it wants to put forward on behalf of the people of Ontario as priorities is wasted time. The only thing that in fact is meaningful is what we want to do, our 94-seat arrogant majority. Whatever we want to do is important. Whatever anybody else wants to do is wasted time.”
On the very first opportunity, at the very first chance, the government has had to move an extension of the time, and for the maximum time allowed, I might add, right through till midnight, although I guess it skipped a couple of days. Certainly, on behalf of my party, the deputy House leader was just chatting with me as we looked at the motion and he said: “Why not the 21 December? We’re willing to sit right through on 21 December as well.” But I do suggest to members that was the deputy House leader who said that. I wanted to reflect his views for the benefit of the House as well.
But to automatically expend all this time? When we look at the business, a lot of it is tax bills which any efficient government would have debated right after the budget. Normally you bring in a budget and then you debate the tax bills. When I say “normally,” that was just for 200 years. The last four years, that has not been the case. This government has brought in a budget and said: “Look, we’ve hiked taxes again, in another 15, 16, 18 areas. Let’s try to downplay this. We’ll go on to other things.”
I suspect they may even have brought in Sunday shopping in a very contentious way just to take attention away from the massive tax increases that were there. I am not convinced that was not a designed strategy to say, “Look, 99 per cent of the public really detests the way we’re handling this Sunday shopping. They all know we’re bad guys and we didn’t have enough guts to make a decision, so let’s have a strategy to have the opposition talk about that and then it will focus attention away from all these tax grabs and all these tax hikes.”
I do not know what the reason is, but it was, I guess, to try to get the public, shortly after the budget – “We won’t debate the budget bills while they’re mad. We’ll wait till we get close to Christmas and then we’ll see if we can sneak them all in and do them all towards the end.”
I suggest this, and I think it is important that I do put a couple of these things on the record, because the current House leader for the government just took over this fall. However, there will be a budget, we presume, next spring. No longer can he say, “It’s not my fault that the former House leader made mistakes.”
Hon Mr Ward: I never said that.
Mr Harris: In fairness, I do not want to give the impression he has said that; he has not said that. I have said that and I stand by it and I am pleased to stand by it. The former House leader was a disaster when it came to organizing the business.
But this House leader is going to have to learn from some of those mistakes that took place, so that next December we are not sitting here with a whole bunch of tax bills, so that we get on with the tax bills, with the estimates and with the important business of scrutinizing the public spending, which in my view is one of the most important things that we are elected to do. We are elected to look at the spending priorities, we are elected to make sure that the money is being spent efficiently, that the taxpayers are getting fair value for that money which we tax and take out of their pockets, supposedly on their behalf.
When we look at the legislation before us, I would suggest that none of it, or very little of it, has to do with some of the basic infrastructure decisions that have not been made by this administration. We are now five years, I suggest to members, behind on making decisions on sewer, water, garbage, schools and hospitals, which are all the reasons why land is sky high and there is a shortage of housing. They are the reasons why we are short of hospital beds and there are lineups in the health care system. It is the reason why we are having problems, double the number of portable classrooms. This administration does not want to allow time to look at some meaningful discussions of some very serious problems that are facing us in the environment, in education and in the basic infrastructure that this province has.
Quite frankly, we think that this motion could have been avoided with proper planning. We of course will make ourselves available until midnight, if necessary, on the days requested by the government House leader should this motion carry, which I suggest may be in doubt after all members of this House have heard the concerns of the House leader of the New Democratic Party and myself. But if it carries, we will certainly mike ourselves available, as we do, to protect the taxpayer.
A lot of these are budget bills. A lot of them are leftovers of unilateral decisions that are being taken with regard to lottery funding and are affecting the recreation and culture groups. A lot of them are unilateral decisions that were made with respect to teachers’ pensions, unilateral decisions that were made with respect to Ontario Public Service Employees Union pension money. It is incumbent and in fact it is our duty for those of us in opposition to point out just how wrong this government is, not only in the direction that it is going in, in the big-spending direction that it is going in, but in fact in the mechanics of how it is going about it.
So my caucus will oppose this motion and suggest that it would not be necessary had there been planning and an attitudinal change. An important part of the legislative process is an examination by the opposition, and by the public, of what it is that the government wants to do.
I close with this, that the House leader for the government reflect on the disastrous number of bills that have been brought forward by his colleagues, some requiring hundreds of amendments, some requiring a total rewrite, that he reflect on the absolutely disastrous pieces of legislation that would have been passed had we not insisted on hearings on some of those, had we not insisted on taking the time. I ask the government House leader to reflect on that.
When he talks about his attitude at any time that is time for the public or for the opposition or for anybody who does not agree with what it is that some of these ministers want to do, let him just think of the disastrous pieces of legislation that would have been passed had we left it to the ministers to draft the bills. We may disagree with the intent of a bill, but even the minister very often, in trying to put forward his intent has been sometimes led, after public hearings and extensive review by the very talented group of critics on this side of the House, to 20, 30, 40 or 50 amendments on a single piece of legislation.
With those few short remarks, my party does not plan to support this motion which, as I said at the outset, is: “Hey, we couldn’t run the House very well. We need extra time at Christmas time.” That is what, in effect, the government House leader is saying by bringing forward this motion.
Mr Sterling: I felt moved to enter the debate because of the very excellent speech given by our member for Nipissing (Mr Harris).
I thought it was extremely interesting that one of the bills we have in Orders and Notices for today is Bill 69, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act. Within that piece of legislation we have 10 sections. This bill was not introduced very long ago. We have been talking about no-fault insurance and tort reform for years and years, but just to exemplify the amount of time that this government wastes in this Legislature, I would like to point out that I received from the very able parliamentary assistant just a few minutes ago nine amendments to the 10 sections of Bill 69. Now, is that not a well-thought-out piece of legislation, a piece of legislation which has been in the making for, I believe, over two years, since the Osborne report was first produced, two or three years?
We now have a bill which this government is putting forward to be the law of Ontario. They are expecting the people to have confidence in the laws they make when in fact, before we even have second reading of the bill, they have got nine amendments to 10 sections. That was the case with Bills 2 and 3, which dealt with court reform; there were 71 government amendments to those bills before they became the law. At the very last, we had a bill to amend the previous bill, which had been passed only 10 days before.
What is happening in this Legislature is not a stall by the opposition parties to any good government legislation. What we become frustrated with is the lack of forethought as to what they are putting forward and quite frankly we have a fear that many of these laws which are being passed in this Parliament have not been thought through properly and will boomerang, as the Sunday closing laws have just so recently done.
I want to say that when we were negotiating the change to the standing orders never did I believe that in the very first year the government would have to exercise its option to utilize these extra hours at the end of the session. I thought that with the very long session that we had in the spring, ending in the latter part of July, that with coming back earlier than we normally did, around 10 October, because all of the other time had been eaten up by committees, and that with the fact that we did not take off the constituency week when we were supposed to go back and work with our constituents in November, this government would have had its legislative business in order, but no, that is not the case.
So we will be sitting here later this week for a four-hour period from eight to 12 at night and we will be sitting three nights next week from eight to 12. For those of us who had the privilege of sitting here at night before the rules were changed in and around 1985, I do not look forward to great progress during those evening sittings. This is an admission of a lack of management on the part of the government in putting forward a thoughtful legislative program which we could have dealt with with in the normal hours given to this Legislature.
Many bills are being sent back to the committee of the whole House in this Legislature, having to be dealt with by the committee of the whole House because the ministers and the Liberal majority on all of the committees are acting in an arrogant manner. They do not want to listen to opposition amendments, they do not want to listen to the public and therefore we were spending endless hours in this Legislature unnecessarily.
Therefore, as the member for Nipissing, the House leader of my party, has indicated, we will oppose this strenuously. It is a sad tale about the new rules that they have to be used to this extent this first time through.
Mr Hampton: I did not intend to participate in this debate initially. However, I am moved to participate in it when I see what we are expected to do in this Legislature today. There are a couple of bills on the order paper, Bills 69 and 70. One would think that if we are dealing with legislation which refers to the Courts of Justice Act, which is going to amend the Courts of Justice Act, and one that is going to amend the Evidence Act, the government would have had its legislative direction well set out and that we would have come here and would be able to debate the bills in substance.
Instead, what do we find? Well, I get to my desk and I find 10 amendments. Here we are in second reading and the government is introducing 10 amendments to these bills. We are expected, having received the amendments on our desks today, to show up here and debate in some sort of positive manner, to have some positive input on this proposed legislation and to make it better legislation. That is simply not possible, it is simply not at all possible.
If the government wants to get legislation through this House, then the government should get its act together. The government should not show up here with last-minute efforts and say, “Give us this, give us that.” if this was only an isolated incident, we might not complain so much, but we went through this charade with the teachers’ pension bill as well. Was it 100 amendments? The legislation is introduced, then they introduce it again with 100 amendments and they expect this Legislature to simply rubberstamp it.
What is happening here, in my view, is an abuse of this Legislature, and in that sense it is abuse of the people of Ontario. This government is starting to behave as if it is some sort of oligarchy, as if the few who sit in cabinet will tell everybody else in the province what they can do, when they can do it and how quickly they will dance. If this government has any respect for democracy, it would have its legislative timetable planned and organized so we would not have to be dealing with amendments like this on what amounts to an emergency basis. And then, because the government still cannot get its act together, we have to sit evenings so that the government has more time yet to get its act together.
This is quite simply a farce. The government has a responsibility to this Legislature and to the people of Ontario to sit down and plan its legislative agenda, to look at the details, to consult and to ask some difficult questions, so that every time we deal with a piece of legislation we are not faced with: “You have to accept all the amendments without having seen them, without having had a chance to confer on them, without having had a chance to ask any questions about them. You have to accept them on our faith. We should not have to do that and we should not have to rush stuff through either.
As I say, I think this is an abuse of this Legislature and I think it is an abuse of the people of Ontario. It is a very, very sad day. Just because this government has a majority, it now feels that it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants and to whomever it wants. I say we will oppose the motion and we wish this government would get its internal act together so that it has some idea of what it is doing and the rest of us do not have to run around trying to compensate for it when it does not know what it is doing.
Hon Mr Ward: I listened very carefully to the comments of the members of the opposition and I can see that clearly a consensus is developing in support of the motion.
I just wanted to point out, though, in response to the comments made by the member for Rainy River (Mr Hampton), that he will be aware no doubt that this House does in fact operate under rules that are developed by consensus and not by imposition. The current standing orders do make provision for additional sitting time at the end of each sitting of each session.
He will recall that over the last several years now it has been necessary for the House to reconvene shortly after the Christmas break, usually the second week of January, for additional weeks of sitting in order to complete a very busy legislative agenda
Mr Hampton: It was the auto insurance bill we sat on last time. What happened to it?
Hon Mr Ward: It is true that we have a very busy legislative agenda because, after all, the member will know that this is indeed a very activist government.
Mr Hampton: We were recalled for three weeks to deal with the auto insurance bill. What happened to that bill?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Ward: I would suggest that the member take a look at the progress that has been made even during this sitting. Very substantial court reform legislation has moved ahead --
Mr Hampton: Tell me what happened to the auto insurance bill. Where did the last insurance bill go?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Ward: -- through two readings and royal assent. We have made very significant progress in finally abolishing OHIP premiums in this province. We have worked very diligently and aggressively to provide for better security for public pensions within this province, and the list goes on and on.
The member will know that even in terms of auto insurance, this Legislature has given approval in principle to a bill that will make very fundamental and substantial changes. As I say, much of this legislation has been around for a while. Members will know that the House’s business is ordered on the basis of consensus.
Mr Hampton: What happened to that auto insurance bill we were recalled to deal with? It was so urgent and had to be passed.
Hon Mr Ward: My friend the member for Rainy River, as a matter of fact, will be interested to know that one of the reasons that we have not been able to deal with Bill 153 is because although the bill was introduced some nine months ago, his party has not caucused it and does not yet know its position on that.
Mr Sterling: Why is he stalling? Why is he stalling the Legislative Assembly?
Hon Mr Ward: We work these things out together as House leaders, as the member for Carleton will know.
I think it is a responsible and modest proposal that we complete the business that we have begun this session and I think we can do so over the course of the next six or seven sessional days with a little extra time in the evening. Therefore, I move government notice of motion 24.
The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the
House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 69, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Mr Polsinelli: I am pleased to bring forward for second reading today Bill 69, the Courts of Justice Amendment Act, and later Bill 70, the Evidence Amendment Act. These bills contain amendments that will make our tort system better, fairer and more efficient in its treatment of those who have suffered injuries.
With respect to prejudgement interest, the amendments contained in the Courts of Justice Amendment Act will standardize the period for which prejudgement interest is available and provide two rates at which it may be calculated. Interest on pecuniary loss will be calculated at the bank rate, while interest on nonpecuniary loss will be calculated at a discount rate provided by the rules of civil procedure. These changes will inject prejudgement interest calculations with more fairness, neutrality and predictability.
With respect to structured settlements, the Courts of Justice Amendment Act provides the court with the power to impose a structured settlement on the parties in appropriate circumstances. In the current system the consent of the parties is required. It is our hope that the proposed amendments will increase the use of structured settlements which are well known for their ability to avoid the need to gross up damage awards merely to pay income tax that accrues on an investment.
The Courts of Justice Amendment Act and the Evidence Amendment Act provide reforms that will streamline the litigation process and facilitate the use of medical expert evidence at trial. The Courts of Justice Amendment Act will also provide defendants with the ability to make advance payments to a plaintiff in certain circumstances before a court determination of liability. This power is currently available in cases involving automobile accidents but is not available to defendants in other causes of action. The proposed amendments will redress that inadequacy.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those members of the bar and others who took the time to comment on the two bills between first reading and second reading. Consequently, I will be introducing about nine amendments when we get to committee of the whole in dealing with Bill 69. Five of these amendments are not substantive, but technical in nature; the others are merely helpful suggestions that we believe improve the readability of the bill.
Mr Hampton: I want to begin my comments by saying that in general we support Bill 69, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act. We think that many of the amendments that have been brought forward by the government are long overdue and will be helpful in making the court process a better one, a more understandable one to all who depend upon that process.
In terms of the general flavour of the amendments that the government is bringing in to the Courts of Justice Act, we support them.
However, I want to say just a bit about the manner in which the government has proceeded and what I think this means for the litigation process in this province and for those numerous people who depend upon the court system in this province to resolve disputes and to generally provide for an orderly system of conflict in the province.
It is fair to say that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people out there who depend upon an orderly court system in order that they can solve their disputes quickly and in order that they solve their disputes in some sort of predictable fashion. Having a court procedure and substantive law that is known and that is predictable is an important element in our society.
Because of the way the government has proceeded not only with Bill 69, but also with Bills 2 and 3, one of the things that we are hearing repeatedly from members of the bar is that the element of predictability and the element of clear conflict resolution or the capacity to resolve conflicts clearly and quickly is at risk. Not that when this process is finished there will be chaos there, but in the government’s rush, and if I may say, in the government’s disorganized rush to implement Bills 2 and 3 and now Bill 69, there are a great number of people in the public and even more seriously perhaps a great number of people who practise at the bar who are wondering what is going on here.
To give an example, I spoke with a member of the bar last week. He works for a large firm here in Toronto and he is part of the litigation section of that firm, and I asked him how solicitors in that firm and other firms that he is aware of were looking forward to the enactment and finally the administrative going forward of Bills 2 and 3 and Bill 69, and for that matter, Bill 70.
His response to me was: “Well, when the final product is there, we think it will be a good one. But what we are getting now is a lot of uncertainty as to when things will go into force, when things will be acted upon administratively, how quickly we will have to make changes, what changes we will have to make and so on.”
So what is happening is that the government, by choosing to proceed in the manner in which it is, has created a lot of uncertainty out there and, I would say, a lot of anger among some people who will have to practise with this legislation, and certainly quite a lot of confusion and insecurity.
I think what it says sends us a very important message about this government and it sends us an important message about this legislation. This government does not consider itself to be the servant of the people of the province; it does not consider itself to be that at all. This government thinks that it can do whatever it feels like on whatever schedule it feels like following, in whatever order it feels like following, and everyone else has to adjust: that it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants and to whomever it wants, and everyone else has to move.
That would perhaps be acceptable, that would perhaps be tolerable if we were dealing with an institution that was of less importance to Ontario society than the institution we are dealing with here. The Courts of Justice Act is for all intents and purposes the constitution of our court system in this province. It specifies the powers of different courts. It specifies the procedures of different courts. It specifies the powers of different judges, how they shall be appointed, what they can do and so on. We should not underestimate what we are dealing with here. This is, to all intents and purposes, the constitution of our court system in Ontario. Yet what do we have?
We have had Bills 2 and 3 introduced, and when Bills 2 and 3 were in the standing committee on administration of justice -- and I say this just as an example because I intend to bring it back to Bill 69 -- we had judges writing the justice committee letters and we had lawyers appearing before the justice committee and saying: “Wait a minute. You should consider this very carefully because part of what we are doing here may in fact be unconstitutional. You may have constitutional challenges based upon certain sections of this legislation.”
What was the government’s response? Was the government’s response to listen, to question for a minute, to take that time? No. The government’s response was to ram it through. Who cares about the uncertainty that is created. Who cares about the confusion that is created. Just ram it through. This is what the government wants. It does not matter what the Constitution of Canada says. It does not matter what convention says. Just ram it through. We are not concerned about any of these potential pitfalls or any of the potential problems that are created.
So what do we have happening here with Bill 69? Bill 69 does set out some technical changes to the courts of justice system. I remind the members again, we are talking about technical changes to what amounts to the constitutional document of our courts here in Ontario. We are going to make technical changes to the constitution of our courts in Ontario. The government may pretend that that is not important; the government may pretend that this was all just a little bit of paperwork.
I would say that any time we make changes to that piece of legislation, which is the controlling legislation of our court system here in Ontario, we are doing something very important and we ought to proceed carefully and thoughtfully and on a consultative basis, so that everyone who is concerned, everyone who may be affected by the outcome will have a clear idea where we are going and will have an opportunity to respond.
I ask, in view of Bill 69, is that happening? Bill 69 was before us. Some of us have had an opportunity to look at the salient sections. We have had an opportunity to consult on them. That is true. We have had an opportunity to raise a few questions. But then, when we come to the Legislature today, lo and behold, what is plopped on our desks for us to have a look at? A series of amendments: section 1, section 1 again, section 2, section 3, section 3 again, section 3 again, section 4, section 7, section 8. Are these simple amendments?
Let’s just have a look at some of the things that we are expected, here on the spot, to look at and to deal with. The amendment to section 1 deals with the method of calculating the amount to be included in award of damages to offset any liability for income tax on income from investment of the award. In terms of our tort system, the calculation of damages is a very, very serious thing indeed.
It is something, in fact, which lawyers will spend hours arguing about, which juries will spend hours deliberating about, which appeal courts will spend days deliberating about and which often go to the Supreme Court for final rulings. Yet we are expected to deal here today with an amendment put before our faces on the spot and simply rubber-stamp something which has widespread and serious consequences. We just rubber-stamp it and let it go on its way.
Another part of section 1 deals with the method of calculating the amount to be included in award of damages, the discount rate with respect to the rate of interest on damages for nonpecuniary loss. Mr Speaker, as someone who has practised law, you will know that you can get into a very long discussion about the discount rate with respect to the rate of interest on damages for nonpecuniary loss.
In fact, that in itself can be a whole subject of debate within a courtroom and another issue that will go on to courts of appeal: a very serious issue, not a little simple technical change but a very, very serious issue and, I suggest, a quite serious issue for anyone who gets involved with our court system in terms of a tort case. Yet again, we are expected to deal with this on the spot, put it before our very eyes and then, without any time for further consultation or questions, handle it, move along with it.
I find that, in the original Bill 69, the Bill 69 we were presented with, section 2 says:
“2. The said act is amended by adding thereto the following section:
“128a. A court, when making an award for damages for future care, shall include an amount to offset liability for income tax on income from investment of the award.”
What does this amendment that was put before our very eyes today say? It says that “section 2 of the bill be struck out.” Section 2 of the bill itself shall be struck out. In other words, I gather the government has totally changed its mind in terms of what a court shall look at in making an award for damages for future care and how it shall look at an amount to offset income tax.
We have no idea what the rationale for this is, no idea whatsoever what the rationale for this is, why the government has changed its mind, and we have not had time to consult and to ask what the possible repercussions and impacts will be.
I would suggest to members that if we are dealing with an award for damages for future care, and particularly we do not have to look far and wide to consider the possible scenarios here, someone who is badly injured in a car accident and will need future care all of his life, it would be very, very serious. Again, we have not had any time to consider these, to go through them in any way.
The parliamentary assistant says, “Look at the next amendment.” We shall look at the next amendment. He presents us with section 3. “I move that clause 129(1)(b) of the act as set out in section 3 of the bill be amended striking out” -- even the amendment that is presented is not properly worded, it is not grammatically correct, so I gather we will have to correct the amendment grammatically before we can deal with it -- by striking out ‘request an increase’ in the first line and inserting in lieu thereof ‘requests that an amount be included.’”
I look at subsection 129(1) in the original bill.
“In a proceeding where damages are claimed for personal injuries or under part V of the Family Law Act, 1986 for loss resulting from the injury to or death of a person, the court” may do a number of things.
I think what the parliamentary assistant was trying to tell me a while ago is that section 2 of the bill and section 3 of the bill were tied together. That may be, but operating on the amendments that we have in front of us in the bill and then operating on the amendments that have been proposed today, that relationship is not at all clear.
Once again, we are expected to deal with this today and handle it all just so this government can get its way.
Let’s move on because, after all, these things deserve some attention and I think it is incumbent upon the opposition to give them some attention because I do not think the government will.
There is section 129 of the act. As I said, section 129 deals with part V of the Family Law Act where someone has been seriously injured or someone is deceased and where someone else in the family wants to make a claim under the Family Law Act based upon that injury or that deceased.
The government now wants to add, under section 3, to section 129 of the act: “I move that section 129 of the act as set out in section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(2a) In considering the best interest of the plaintiff, the court shall take into account,
“(a) whether the defendant has sufficient means to fund an adequate scheme of periodic payments;
“(b) whether the plaintiff has a plan or a method of payment that is better able to meet the interests of the plaintiff than periodic payments by the defendant; and
“(c) whether a scheme of periodic payments is practicable having regard to all the circumstances of the case.”
Those are, on the face of it, something that we might like to consider, but if we look at the initial bill that was presented to this House, none of these concepts is even presented in that initial bill. How can it be said that these are mere technical amendments if the concept itself did not appear in the bill? In other words, we are asked to do something conceptually different and conceptually new from what was existing in the bill previously.
We can go on.
The next amendment to section 3 says: “I move that section 129 of the act, as set out in section 3 of the bill, be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
(4) If the court does not make an order for periodic payment under subsection (1), it shall make an award for damages that shall include an amount to offset liability for income tax on income from investment of the award.”
Maybe this is trying to do what the government wanted to do back in section 2 of the bill. Maybe it us trying to do that, but I would suggest, following in the context that it follows from -- that is, coming under a totally different section, a section where at least three or four different concepts are being discussed -- it is not at all clear what has happened. So we go on.
Another amendment, section 4: “I move that subsection 130c(4) of the act, as set out in section 4 of the bill, be amended,” and again, this amendment that we have here that has been presented today is grammatically incorrect. Are we going to correct the amendment? Are these things being done in such a slapdash, haphazard fashion that the government cannot even get the amendments grammatically correct? Do we have to correct them in this House before they make sense?
The amendment that is proposed today to section 4 is grammatically incorrect, so it is difficult to say exactly what it means. It is especially difficult to say exactly what it means when we place it in the context of an act, the Courts of Justice Act, which deliberately tries to be very precise about what it is setting out. Again I say to members, if we are dealing with the Courts of Justice Act, the constitution of our court system here in the province, members would think the government would want to be very exact with the language of the amendments it proposes. They would certainly want to be assured that what we are getting is grammatically correct, but it is not even that.
Let us try to work through this proposed amendment to see what it does mean. It says: “I move that subsection 130c(4) of the act, as set out in section 4 of the bill, be amended by inserting after ‘but’ in the second line ‘shall be disclosed.’”
It says: “If a defendant makes a payment to a plaintiff who is or alleges to be entitled to recover from the defendant, the payment constitutes, to the extent of the payment, a release by the plaintiff or the plaintiffs personal representative of any claim that the plaintiff or the plaintiffs personal representative or any person claiming through or under the plaintiff or by virtue of part V of the Family Law Act, 1986 may have against the defendant.”
I think if members do make those insertions they can make some sense out of section 130c of the bill, but say again, it would really help if the amendment that we have before us today was grammatically correct so we did not have to search around for some of those words.
We can go on: section 7, section 8, amendments to all of these sections. I would say, just looking upon those very briefly, they are not in any way simply technical or paper amendments either; that placed within the context of the Courts of Justice Act they are very important amendments. They are amendments which, if we are to behave as a responsible body, we should have time to look at very carefully and we should have time to appreciate exactly what they will mean and what impact they will have. Otherwise we run the risk of having to do what this government did with its famous auto insurance legislation.
Members will remember we were recalled in January and February because we had to deal with this very important auto insurance legislation. We spent a number of hours debating it back and forth, and then, before it was even totally put in force we have to come back here and rescind it and prepare for new legislation. That is what we had to go through in auto insurance: pass a bill, and then before it is put in force come back and reverse the whole thing because suddenly the government discovers it will not work.
We cannot do that with the Courts of Justice Act. The Courts of Justice Act is more important than that. Our whole system of dispute resolution, our whole system of solving conflicts in an orderly, reasoned predictable manner, depends upon this piece of legislation. That is how important it is. So we cannot afford the situation where there are one or two or three or four months of confusion out there among those who practise, among those who are charged with administering this piece of legislation. If that is the situation that we put the province in, then we really put a lot of people out and we really do create a lot of confusion out there.
We should not be doing what we are being asked to do here today. We should not be amending a bill which is intended to amend the document which is the constitution of our court system; we should not be amending it by the seat of the pants here today. We should not be flying along on automatic pilot, bringing in these amendments and being expected to understand them, to consult on them, and then finally to approve them here today. That is unrealistic. It is disrespectful of the court system, it is disrespectful of this Legislature and ultimately it is disrespectful of the people of this province.
As I said initially, I think where we will ultimately end up with this legislation, Bill 69, where we will ultimately go with it in terms of being good for the province and in terms of being good for the court system and being good for the litigation process in this province, I think we are headed ultimately in the right direction. But the confusion that will result in the meantime and the difficulty that we are asked to operate under here is something the government should not be doing.
I say this in all sincerity. Members of the government should really sit down and examine what it is that they have a problem with. Why can they not bring legislation to this House in some sort of orderly, organized, thoughtful manner? Why is it that we have to deal all the time with legislation that is brought in at the last minute by the seat of the pants? Why is it that we have to pass legislation in one session and then three or four or five months later rescind it and then five months after that attempt to replace it? Why is that?
Does the government not have any clear idea where it wants to go? Does the government not have any clear idea how to consult and find out what the public wants or what the particular interest group wants or what the particular institution wants or needs? Has it lost that capacity to consult, to ask questions, to have a reasoned argument or a reasoned commentary and then move forward from there in some sort of orderly manner? This is getting to be pretty serious stuff and I think if the people of Ontario understood more clearly when this is happening and why it is happening and how often it is happening, they would be quite dismayed; quite dismayed indeed.
I say that we will in general support Bill 69. I do not know if we will support the amendments that have been introduced today because, as I have said, we have not had the time to look at them with any serious study. We have not had the opportunity to look at them and determine what their impact may be or may not be. We will support Bill 69.
I cannot give any indication at all what we will do with the proposed amendments that have been given to us today. We will do our best with them.
In fact, that seems to be what the people of Ontario will have to do. That seems to be what the court system will have to do. That seems to be what the solicitors who practise in Ontario will have to do -- just do their best with this ragtag stuff that seems to come out of the system.
I think I have generally outlined our position on this. Thank you very much for the time to get our position on the record and I look forward to other comments in the debate.
Mr McLean: I wanted to comment on the member’s amendments and some of the concerns he has raised, specifically the concern with regard to Bill 2 and Bill 3, which have already been passed by the government and here now we have amendments to amend these bills.
If the government could have taken some lessons from the previous government and brought in legislation that would be acceptable in the first place, that would be right, that would be proper, we would not have to spend this time and sit in the evenings debating these bills with 70-some amendments previously; if it were done properly, we could have done away with all this extra time that is necessary.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Rainy River has talked much about doing our best. I think it is imperative that each member of this House do his best and I think that is all we can ask of the government and that is all we can ask of the opposition. The member for Rainy River has spent much time talking about the amendments, and I would be pleased to enter into discussion with him when we go into committee of the whole talking about the amendments.
As I pointed out earlier, there are nine amendments that were the result of consultation with the bar. Five of them are fairly straightforward technical amendments and the other four aid in understanding the sections. They are just helpful suggestions.
I would also like to point out it is my understanding that it has been a tradition in this House, when we deal with justice issues and when we deal with courts and the like, that most members put aside their political differences and deal with the merits of the legislation and the merits of the proposal. It has been my experience, at least in the time I have been parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General and handling legislation in this House, that my opposition critics and all members have acted in that regard, and I respect and thank them for that.
Mr Hampton: I want to respond briefly to the remarks of the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General. I think it is a salient fact and it is a salient point that when this bill, Bill 69, is before the Legislature, a bill which will amend that legislation which is, in effect, the constitution of our court system here in Ontario, and when this legislation is before the House, the Attorney General is not even here to comment on it, to defend it, to answer questions about it. I think that says something. I think it really says something about either how important the Attorney General thinks the court system is or how important he thinks this legislative process is.
Mr Polsinelli: Where is the NDP critic?
Mr Hampton: The parliamentary assistant asks where the NDP critic is today. He knows as well as I do that the critic is ill.
But he also knows that I have sat on committee on all this legislation and that I have been through it chapter and verse as much as he has been through it. We argued about Bill 2 and Bill 3, and out of Bill 2 and Bill 3 some of this stuff that we have here today is flowing.
I also want to say to the parliamentary assistant that I think if he reviews my remarks he will find they were made in a nonpartisan manner in the sense that we could be doing a lot more here and doing it a lot more efficiently if the government would just get its act together in the first place. But it really looks bad when we have to go through some of this, bringing in amendments at the last minute and passing them by the seat of the pants.
Mr Sterling: Bill 69 is an act, along with Bill 70, which has been directed at what they call tort reform. Many of the suggestions in Bill 69 and Bill 70 were contained in a report prepared by Mr Justice Osborne to reform our court system so that we will get speedier and more accurate settlements as a result of not only automobile accidents but any other kind of personal injury that a person in our society might suffer at the hands of another individual.
Therefore, we in this party very strongly support the intent of Bills 69 and 70. We are concerned, as the member for Rainy River has put forward, that the process which the Attorney General in particular, but also some of his colleagues, has gone through in legislation is a bit troubling. First of all, they do not seem to put enough thought into what they are presenting to the Legislature, and then when they do present it, they do not allow the correct periods of time for people to react in order to make the debate meaningful and, quite frankly, to prevent error in the legislation when it is passed into its final form.
Notwithstanding that we are politicians in this House, and I represent a different party than the governing party, there really is very little interest on my part or on my party’s part to have a piece of legislation which will fail ultimately.
I see the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio) here with us today, a former minister of the crown. I know that the member for Niagara Falls is a former businessman. Perhaps he is still in business now that he has left the executive council. I think his son is involved in the business as well.
I would ask the member for Niagara Falls what he would do if he had a lawyer present him with a contract document and say: “Here it is, Mr Kerrio; this is the contract and this is what we’re going to present to the other side of the argument,” and then he came in the next day and he said, “Gee, I’m sorry, Vince, I have a few amendments to the contract that I have let the other side see. In fact, there are only 10 clauses in this contract, and we want to amend nine of them. Do you think that would be okay?” Notwithstanding that the member for Niagara Falls is a member of another party in this Legislature, I think even he might release that lawyer from what he might be doing for the member for Niagara Falls. I think he is that smart a businessman anyway. Notwithstanding that, I guess that sums up in total our concern about the presentation of this legislation.
I do want to say that Bill 69, which is the one we are discussing at this time, does present some very positive changes to our court system. What it does in effect is it speeds up the settlement or the court process because it encourages disclosure, particularly of information at an early stage of the hearings, and we very much support that.
It also allows lawyers for both sides and the judge to instruct the jury as to the kind of settlements that are normally made with regard to damages as a result of injuries either from automobiles or from any other personal injury. I believe that is very helpful and very good because in that way we will not get juries striking awards which are far too high in relation to the injury and therefore forcing up the costs of the insurance, which of course has to cover most injuries. In addition, of course, it will prevent a jury from making an award that is too low and denying a successful plaintiff his new judgement, in terms of what might be before the court.
I am also pleased to support the provision of the act which would penalize in some ways a person who did not disclose early on the court proceedings, and that is done by way of denying a plaintiff interest that he would normally get under the settlement provisions. It gives the judge the discretion to either lower that interest or deny the interest if in fact the plaintiff refuses to share relevant medical information with the other side. It is only through getting at the facts and getting them out as quickly as possible to both sides that you can have a decent settlement.
I want the public to understand that we are not discussing no-fault insurance today. No-fault insurance has nothing to do with tort reform. Tort reform has to do with lowering our insurance rates, and the Canadian Bar Association has said publicly that it predicts tort reform will lower the insurance rates of this province, but that would happen regardless or not if we had no-fault insurance. These kinds of amendments have been long overdue. Our party supports them and we look forward to putting them into place.
I would say to the parliamentary assistant that I think it is unwise to go ahead with committee of the whole House today, as a matter of courtesy, in terms of allowing us an opportunity to look at the some nine or 10 amendments which he has proposed for Bill 69 and I believe a couple of amendments to Bill 70. Of course, he probably could forge ahead if he insisted, but I repeat what I was talking about before, and what the member for Rainy River was talking about before: Legislation should take art orderly procession. If there was only one amendment to Bill 69, I would say let’s go ahead with committee of the whole House today, but in view of the fact that there are several amendments, it is probably wiser to leave it for another day.
Mr Hampton: I want to thank the member for Carleton for pointing out what I omitted to point out in my comments, and that is that Bill 69, in terms of being a piece of legislation, has only 10 sections to it. One of them, section 10, gives the short title of the act. The second, section 9, tells us when it shall come into force. The third, section 8, tells is when the amendments shall apply to causes of action. That means effectively there are only seven amending sections to Bill 69. Yet what does the government bring in today? It brings in nine amendments to the seven amending sections.
I believe that illustrates exactly what the member for Carleton was saying and what I was saying; that is, the government brought in Bill 69, which had only seven effective sections to it, and then because it did not do its consultation properly, because it did not ask questions because it did not carry on an intelligent discussion with those people who have to work with, deal with and will be affected by the legislation, it has to bring in nine amendments to the amending bill. We all are made to look rather foolish when legislation comes before this Legislature and then has to be amended in that way by the seat of the pants.
I can only second what the member for Carleton has said, that if the parliamentary assistant has respect for this institution and for the legislative process, we will not go into committee of the whole now, because these amendments are much more than technical amendments. They in effect change the meat of this amending bill very much.
Mr Polsinelli: It seems we just cannot win here, because there has been a lot of talk about process. If we as the government introduce legislation and then do not come forward with any amendments, we are accused of not listening. We are accused of being arrogant. We are accused of being stubborn. We are accused of having made up our minds before we introduced first reading. On the other hand, if we introduce a bill, have consultation, good suggestions are made and amendments are brought forward by the government, then we are accused of bringing in an imperfect bill. I am having a little bit of trouble understanding this criticism.
We feel, as both opposition parties feel, that this s good legislation. Both the member for Rainy River and the member for Carleton have agreed that this is good legislation, that it is going to help the people of the province. We share that. We think it is good legislation; we think it is going to assist in the settling of all types of tort claims. We feel the benefits of this legislation should be brought forward to the people of Ontario as quickly as possible.
Accordingly, I think it is important that we go into committee of the whole today. We can go through the amendments clause by clause when we go into committee of the whole. If the members feel uncomfortable with them now, when they are introduced on the record and debated, they will find that they are very -- “trivial” perhaps is not the appropriate word, but that the five out of the nine are nothing more than technical amendments to improve the wording, to change a word here and change a word there. The other four are basically along the same lines; they aid in the readability of the various sections.
I would hope that I would get the co-operation of both the official opposition and the third party in going into committee of the whole today and in passing this bill as quickly as we can so that the benefits of this tort reform legislation can be brought forward to the people of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
EVIDENCE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli, on behalf of Mr Scott, moved second reading of Bill 70, An Act to amend the Evidence Act.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Parliamentary assistant, no comments? Is there any debate on the motion?
Mr Sterling: Bill 70 is an act to amend the Evidence Act, and it is an improvement over the present section 52 of the Evidence Act. The present Evidence Act deals with what it describes as “any medical report obtained or prepared for a party to an action” -- that means a lawsuit -- “and signed by a legally qualified medical practitioner.” It deals with medical reports or medical practitioners. Bill 70 wipes out the present section 52 of the Evidence Act and includes the medical reports of various other professional groups, including the drugless practitioners, the denture therapists, chiropodists, psychologists and anybody else who is registered in Canada and who would be comparable to these groups.
What it does is it expands the number of medical reports which fall under the evidence rules, which is an improvement to our court system in that at the present time if you went to a doctor and got a report about your condition it would be treated differently than the report you might get from any one of these other professional health care groups. Therefore, we believe that it is an important change.
There are really no objections we can have to this bill. I only say that, and not to sound like a broken record, but the parliamentary assistant has given us again two amendments to a bill which has in effect only one section to it, and therefore it does not leave us with a feeling of a great deal of confidence in what the Attorney General’s department is doing when it is presenting legislation to us.
Mr Hampton: I want to indicate the support of my caucus for this amendment to the Evidence Act. The Evidence Act is, as most members of this House know, a very important piece of legislation. If you do not comply with the Evidence Act in the course of litigation, you can sometimes wind up in a situation where you have very important evidence and you cannot get it before the court; or if you do not comply with it within the proper time limits, the whole issue which you may want to prove or disprove may take you a lot longer and may become a lot more complicated than you would wish it to be or than the court system would wish it to be.
We support the intent of the amendment, but I want to point out, as the member for Carleton has just pointed out, there is only one effective section to the bill, and that section has to be amended. There is another section dealing with transition, when these changes to the Evidence Act will affect causes of action already in process or causes of action already about to begin, and even that section of the bill has to be changed. I can only repeat again that it is very discouraging when you get a piece of legislation which deals with a very important law or set of laws affecting our court procedure; you have got the legislation, you look at it, you consult on it, you ask a bunch of questions on it. You come to the House prepared to debate and prepared to make comments on it, and then you find that the meat of the bill has already been changed by the government.
I would repeat again the comments we had with respect to Bill 69. I think if the government House leader is reasonable about this, and if the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General is reasonable about this, we will not go into committee of the whole today on these bills and the amendments that have just been put before us. We would instead wait until another day, perhaps even tomorrow, although that is probably too soon as well, to have an opportunity to consider exactly the import of the amendments that were placed before us today, and we would be in a better position to comment on them and perhaps in a better position to even help the government make this better legislation.
I would hope that the government House leader and the parliamentary assistant would follow our advice in these matters, although if matters proceed as they usually do, I have no doubt they will not consider our advice in any way, but so be it.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
EVIDENCE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 70, An Act to amend the Evidence Act.
The Chair: At this moment I would like to list all possible sections on which members would like to make comments, questions or amendments. I have one to section 1 and one to section 2 from the government. Are there any other members who would wish to add to this list?
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that subsections 52(2), (3) and (4) of the act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(2) A report obtained by or prepared for a party to an action and signed by a practitioner and any other report of the practitioner that relates to the action are, with leave of the court and after at least 10 days notice has been given to all other parties, admissible in evidence in the action.
“(3) Unless otherwise ordered by the court, a party to an action is entitled, at the time that notice is given under subsection (2), to a copy of the report together with any other report of the practitioner that relates to the action.”
The Chair: Would the parliamentary assistant have an opening statement?
Mr Polsinelli: No.
Mr Sterling: Because we have only received these recently, I think it is incumbent on the parliamentary assistant to explain the changes that he is proposing. We have, as I mentioned before, a bill which has one substantive section to it. This is subsection 2 of that. As far as I can determine, it changes it by adding some words in there. The amendment reads, “A report obtained by or prepared for a party to an action and signed by a practitioner and any other report of the practitioner that relates to the action.”
Can the parliamentary assistant enlighten me as to how that changes what was in the original Bill 70?
Mr Polsinelli: The general thrust of this bill is to facilitate the use of medical reports, rather than oral evidence, at a trial. We feel that this would expedite the whole court process. We also feel that early release of the reports to the other side is something that aids in the expedition of the matters. What this does is it basically changes the seven-day period that would be required under the existing bill for the report to be delivered to a 10-day period. It increases it by three days. It also proposes that the reports of the health professional be given with the notice.
Mr Sterling: I have a question to the parliamentary assistant. I read that this amendment he is preparing for us increases it to 10 days’ notice rather than seven days’ notice. I believe it is already up from five under the old act, so he has gone from five to seven to 10. But he also includes here some other fudge words. It says “and any other report of the practitioner that relates to the action.” The original words were “a report obtained by or prepared for a party to an action.” Am I to understand that the difference in the wording would mean that the original bill would have included a report which was specifically prepared for that lawsuit but what he is including here now would perhaps include a report that a patient might have had with a doctor prior to the accident? Would he care to comment on that?
Mr Polsinelli: That is not our interpretation, nor is that the intent of this particular section. The member for Carleton will see that right after section 3 it deals with reports of the practitioner that relate to the action. In effect, the defendant would be entitled to the reports, all the reports, of that particular practitioner which related to the action. If the practitioner had developed, for example, three drafts and then eventually submitted the fourth as the final copy, the defendant would be entitled to the draft copies of that report.
Mr Sterling: For instance, often the issue is how badly the person has been injured as a result of the particular incident which laid the groundwork for the particular legal action. Therefore, evidence as to the previous health of the individual is extremely important because that is the benchmark from where he is coming. If the person was absolutely healthy and he is now injured and has a permanent injury, then you can measure that quite easily. You can go from very healthy to the present situation. But if in fact the person has had a previous injury, some other ailment which basically is also evident now but should not be compensated for, that becomes extremely important and that is always of course of very much interest to the defendant’s lawyers.
How can the parliamentary secretary argue “any other report of the practitioner that relates to the action”? He is quite confident that would not include a report which had been prepared for a patient 10 years ago about his heart condition?
Mr Polsinelli: I would think that if it were held that those previous reports related to the action, then they should be disclosed. Sometimes a lawyer will get several reports from a doctor but only produce one. This section will require that all of the reports be produced. Essentially, you cannot buy a bad medical. If you go to a specialist and you have a report and you are prepared to introduce a copy of that specialist’s report to substantiate your cause of action and to substantiate your claim for damages, then the other side should be entitled to see all the other reports that have been prepared by that practitioner which relate to that particular action.
Mr Callahan: I would like to inquire of the parliamentary assistant, perhaps through the officials, as to whether there should be something in this act to provide that the notice can be given by fax message, or is that already provided in the rules of practice?
Mr Polsinelli: My understanding is that the rules of civil procedure would deal with that type of request. I am not quite sure whether there are presently practice directions dealing with that subject.
Motion agreed to.
Section 1. as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Polsinelli moves that section 2 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“The amendments of the Evidence Act, enacted by this act, apply to,
(a) actions commenced but not settled or adjudicated upon before this act comes into force; and,
“(b) causes of action arising after this act comes into force.”
Mr Polsinelli: The bill as originally drafted would have applied only to causes of actions occurring or arising after 23 October 1989. This was done to avoid interfering with actions already under way. This motion proposes that amendments apply immediately to all “actions commenced but not settled or adjudicated upon.” We feel that since this is beneficial legislation all litigants should have the benefits of this change, which we feel is essentially procedural in nature and would assist in settling the litigation.
Mr Sterling: When the parliamentary assistant says “not...adjudicated upon before this act comes into force,” would that mean that if an interim motion had taken place with regard to the action, that would be a point of adjudication and therefore there would not be a change? Where is the trip line that is involved. I am interested in knowing, for clarity’s sake.
Mr Polsinelli: I guess the Ministry of the Attorney General feels that what “adjudicated upon” means is that a determination on the merits of the case by the court has been made by the presiding judge, and not an interim motion that would deal with some procedural point.
Motion agreed to.
Section 2, as amended agreed to.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
ONTARIO LOTTERY CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 119, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
The Chair: Bill 119 has four sections. I would like to list right now any questions and comments that people may have and, if so, to which section. I justwant a list right now.
Ms Bryden: I have amendments to both section 1 and section 2.
Mr McLean: I have amendments to both section 1 and section 2.
The Chair: Any government amendments?
Hon Mr Ward: The parliamentary assistant may have some.
Mr Reycraft: I have no amendments, but I would like to come forward, if I may, to the front row.
The Chair: Please go ahead. We do not have any copies of the amendments. Did you provide copies to all of us?
Ms Bryden: Yes, we did.
The Chair: Are there enough copies for Hansard and the interpreters? No? Until we get our copies back down from the photocopying service for everybody to have, is there anybody who wants to make some general comments on Bill 119?
Ms Bryden: This is a very short bill with only two sections; however, the bill is of tremendous importance because it affects our parliamentary democracy. It affects our control of the power of the purse, which the Legislature exercises over expenditures of the government party. That power stems really from the days of Magna Carta when the barons told the King that they would not provide him with funds and forces if he did not consult them on how the funds were spent. That has come down through the ages to us as the power of the purse and an important fundamental of our parliamentary democracy. This bill challenges that principle, and that is why I think we should spend some time discussing the process through which this bill has come before us and its implications.
I also point out that section 1 and section 2 cannot be dealt with separately without a sort of overall review of what the bill is trying to do. Therefore, I wish to give the history of the bill briefly and the principles that are involved.
The original Ontario Lottery Corporation Act was passed in 1974 in response to widespread demands for introducing a lottery to provide funds for the badly underfunded area of recreation, culture, fitness and sports. You might call a lottery a sort of voluntary tax, but the government’s responsibility in setting up a lottery is to organize and administer the lotteries that are established in the province and to designate where the proceeds that are not paid out in prizes will go.
The initial bill made designation that the proceeds, in these words, “be available for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor.” There was no other area to which the lottery funds could go. But over the years, with the development of new lotteries, particularly new interprovincial lotteries, the government took it upon itself to designate some lottery funds to other areas. They did not come back to the Legislature for a change in that original designation -- and that is really what is before us today -- to repeal that original designation and to substitute completely new designations.
The shocking fact is that while those new lotteries were being developed, and funds were coming in from them, the government was deciding on the allocation of those funds without consulting the Legislature. It was making the allocations by order in council or simply by making the funds available to groups which it felt should be allowed to dispense lottery funds on behalf of the government. The Ontario Trillium Foundation was one of those which was given the opportunity to dispense funds for social services and fields that were not in the original designation.
Now many people think that some of the funds should be devoted to social services, but the government should have come back and obtained authority to do that before it earmarked them. This bill goes further and earmarks the funds in a completely different way than has been the practice in the past or the designation that was made in the original act. This bill will put any debate on the matter of the allocation of lottery funds beyond the reach of this House,
Those who buy lottery tickets do so because they like the excitement of a draw, but also because they feel that the proceeds that are not paid out in prizes go to worthy causes of which they approve. But the main worthy causes they know about are the designations in the original act. They do not know very much about the designations for environment or for educational work or for the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
They do not know how the Ontario Trillium Foundation was chosen to exercise part of its responsibility for allocating funds in the social welfare field. We do not believe there were any tenders for this assignment and one wonders whether a group of businessmen are the only ones who should be deciding on the rules for dispensing funds to social welfare organizations.
We think it should be possibly a more representative group of the population if the government is going to, as it were, contract out the dispensing of lottery funds for social welfare purposes. But none of this has been done in the past, none of this has been legislated, and we are faced today with what looks like an attempt by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) to grab lottery funds and put them entirely under his control.
This is not the first time the Treasurer has attempted to grab lottery funds. In 1986 he made his first attempt by introducing Bill 38. That bill simply struck out the designation in the original bill, which I have just read to the House. That meant that the Ontario Lottery Corp was set up to run lotteries of any kind, period, and the Treasurer and the cabinet would have the complete power to dispense that money in any way they saw fit.
There was a tremendous public outcry against Bill 38, particularly by the literally hundreds of thousands of recreational and sports and cultural organizations in the province, which were badly underfunded at that time and thought that the lottery funds that were coming in at that time in 1986 were not nearly enough to meet most of their needs.
The lottery funds had become an important source of revenue for many small groups scattered throughout the communities in this province. It became a source of hope for individuals participating in these fields where they received very little support from the community. It also helped to build arenas and other important facilities of that sort and kept many small centres supplied with recreational facilities that they would not have otherwise been able to afford
However, Bill 38 was withdrawn by the provincial Treasurer just before the 1987 provincial election, which seemed to indicate that he was somewhat nervous about this attempt to grab control of the lottery funds. But after the government got its majority in September 1987, it was less than eight months before the provincial Treasurer introduced Bill 119, his second attempt at grabbing lottery funds.
I am very shocked at the Treasurer, with his long record in this House as both Leader of the Opposition and as a member of the Liberal group when it was in opposition generally before the change of government in 1985, because he is really attacking the principle of control of the provincial funds by the Legislature. I am sure he did not support that when he was in opposition.
I am shocked that he would urge a Liberal government and that the cabinet would accept his bill to destroy the power of the Legislature over the allocation of funds. What is even worse is that this bill is proposing a retroactive allocation of lands. It is proposing to allocate funds which were not allocated to the designated groups over several years. I think both the Conservatives and the Liberals, in the last few years, have engaged in this misallocation of funds that were put into lotteries. I call it misallocation because they really had not authority to put the funds into other activities than the designated ones.
This bill, even though it was introduced in April 1988, did not come to second reading until 1 March 1989. There was considerable debate on it in that period. In fact, there was a great hue and cry from all of the cultural, fitness and recreational organizations. They saw that this bill not only did not continue the designated clause in the original act, but it made no guarantee that the provincial Treasurer would put one penny into any of the designated fields. It just said the provincial Treasurer may give funds to whomever he chooses, and it was implied that he probably would not cut off the cultural-recreational groups altogether.
He also, of course, in this bill says he may give a certain amount to the Ontario Trillium Foundation but, again, there is no designation of the amount; but that he will give the unallocated funds that were still sitting in the consolidated revenue fund to hospitals. So he introduced a new principle of funding hospitals from the lotteries and he gave no guarantee to the groups that had been funded in the past through the designation in the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
Naturally, the groups that were going to lose any designation organized, with the support of the opposition parties who had voted against Bill 119 on second reading. We managed to get the government to agree to public hearings and we did manage to have 10 days of public hearings from September to October. If any of the members of this House had attended those hearings, they would have seen that the cultural, recreational and fitness groups in this province were doing a tremendous job.
They were filling many new needs that had not been met in the past because the needs had grown. They were entering into new cultural fields. Some of them had very diversified activities that very few of us knew about. For instance, there was one group providing assistance to groups in prisons to put on plays, and this was both good therapy and good public education as well. There were groups setting up umbrella organizations for various cultural organizations such as companies and music groups.
These umbrella groups were going to make these organizations more efficient because what they were asking for was funds to computerize their activities and their lists, to share in fund-raising together, to have more effectiveness therefore and to have much more public education on their activities. With the money that they were asking for, every one of them would be far more efficient.
We had recreation departments of major cities, such as the city of Toronto, which produced a whole book on the role of recreation in the broadest sense in the life of the citizens of Toronto. It was a very impressive book and talked about the health contributions of recreation to our general wellbeing. The city of Burlington had a very impressive book also on its activities in the recreational, sports and fitness field and how its programs simply could not operate without the kind of support it had been able to get in the past from lotteries.
I could go on and on about the lists of groups that appeared before us. I think there were over a hundred that appeared before us and I do not think more than one per cent, if that many, had anything to say in favour of the proposal by the Treasurer. They were unanimous in their not only opposition but horror at this kind of legislation that was taking away from them the right to have an assured source of funds for their activities. They were telling us how important these activities were, not just to recreational activities, but to the general health and wellbeing of the community.
I am shocked that the Treasurer and the government do not seem have to listened to a single one of the briefs of those groups, in spite of their very great eloquence in their presentations.
Let me just read a few of the people who appeared before us:
The Chamber Players of Toronto; the city of Thunder Bay, who had the same parks and recreation problems as the other cities I mentioned; the Mime Company Unlimited Theatre Foundation; the Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario; Toronto Artscape Inc; the Toronto Arts Council; the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra Association; the East York Symphony Orchestra; the Dancer Transition Centre; Theatre Ontario; the Ontario Association of Art Galleries: Tafelmusik; the Waterloo Regional Library, and many other libraries came to us saying that the grants they got for some activities of promoting the libraries or helping people to use the libraries more efficiently were very valuable.
There was the Canadian Stage Company, which is a large new group in Toronto and an amalgamation of other companies which cannot have as broad a program as it would like without lottery funds; the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ontario; the Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association; the steering committee of the Community Arts Councils of Ontario, a very large umbrella group; the Ontario Association of Archivists; the Ontario Municipal Recreation Association, the regional municipality of Peel; Sports Ontario; the Toronto Symphony; the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, which is I think the theatre in the correctional institution;
The Ontario Research Council on Leisure; Théâtre Français; the Danny Grossman Dance Company; the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library; Dance in Canada; the Factory Theatre; city of Mississauga recreation and parks department; the Durham Art Gallery; the Kingston Regional Arts Council; Society of Directors of Municipal Recreation of Ontario; Danceworks; city of Windsor parks and recreation; the Ontario Library Association; the Women’s Art Resource Centre; Theatre on the Move; Community Arts Ontario; Northeastern Ontario Regional Sports Committee; the Koffler Gallery; the Gallery/Stratford; the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra;
The Ontario Recreation Society in Lindsay; the Carousel Players; the Mariposa Folk Foundation; Dance Ontario Association; city of York parks and recreation; the Writers’ Union of Canada; the Toronto Dance Theatre; city of Toronto, as I mentioned, parks and recreation; the Kingston Symphony Association; the Ontario Sailing Association; Showcase Theatre; city of North York parks and recreation; town of Dundas parks and recreation; the Hockey Development Centre for Ontario; Tecumseth and West Gwillimbury Historical Society; the Toronto Theatre Alliance; the Union of Ontario Indians -- our native peoples also use the grants and they are usually very badly in need of assisted funding;
The corporation of the city of Brampton; the Ontario Museum Association; the Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario; the recreationist for the Township of Newmarket; the Women Activist Sport Administration; the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association; the Association of Library Boards of Ontario; the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras; the Grimsby Public Art Gallery; the Ontario Parks Association; the YMCA; the YWCA; the Windsor Board of Education; the Te Deum Concerts Society; city of Scarborough recreation and parks, and city of Sarnia the same.
Mr Chairman, I could go on reading you over 100 groups that have appeared, but the point is that they want some sort of guarantee that they will be allowed to continue to receive grants. The bill is lacking in that.
Many of these groups coalesced in what they call the Alliance to Protect Culture, Recreation, Sports and Fitness in Ontario. They made a submission to the public hearings on 11 September 1989. If I had time, I would like to read their whole submission into the record, but I will spare the members that, although it is an extremely good presentation. They also did a record of the grant expenditures and lottery proceeds, showing how the lottery proceeds had not all been dispensed but had been allowed to accumulate in the consolidated revenue fund as unallocated funding.
In effect, those funds have been not only misappropriated, I think, but have really been taken away from the present recreation and culture groups, because it was really money that was raised by lottery ticket buyers for them. The ticket buyers see on the backs of the tickets that the proceeds of these lotteries go to sports, recreation and fitness and culture. So they were betrayed in their trust when they bought a ticket and in effect the funds were stolen from them, if I am allowed to use that word. Certainly people have said that those funds belonged to the people in those cultural and recreational activities and the government literally took them away from them.
One of the worst parts of this bill is that it is an attempt to regularize what the government was doing over the years in letting funds that belonged to these corporations be unallocated for many years. The accumulated unspent surplus has been estimated by the Alliance to Protect Culture, Recreation, Sports and Fitness in Ontario at $400 million. That money should have been allocated to all the sports and recreation groups, and if we are going to decide on its disposition in this bill, its disposition should be back to those groups, certainly not to other purposes.
The request of the government to come to us for regularization of irregular activities in the past puts a particularly bad odour on this bill because it is not going to rectify what it has done in the past. They have given us no guarantee that there will be any further consideration by the Legislature of the designation of funds under the act, and it seems to me that the government came to us with unclean hands in the past on its allocation of the money and it should be very much ashamed of coming forward with this kind of attempt to regularize its past activities, but I understand that the government will not be able to get this unallocated money out of the consolidated revenue fund without our passing this bill, so we really have the whip hand in this.
Our two amendments, particularly the one to section 2, deal with what should happen to the Ontario lottery trust fund that we propose should be set up to deal with this money. When we get to those amendments, I will discuss in more detail exactly what we are trying to do with regard to those funds.
Since this bill has had such a long history, starting back in 1986, and it is now almost 10 months since it had second reading, that is why I think we ought to be looking at amendments to this bill at the present time and that is why I think we should be considering both our two amendments, and if the Progressive Conservatives have some, we should be looking at them as well, because what we are doing right now is dealing with what we have learned through those public hearings.
We have not met again on this bill since the public hearings were concluded and reported out on 10 October; almost two months ago. Surely the government learned something from sitting through those 10 days of public hearings. Surely they learned something from the very wonderful briefs that were presented by many, many organizations, most of whom I think they had never heard of before. Certainly there were a good number that I had not heard of because these groups do not have the funds to publicize their activities. They do not have the funds to lobby all the members of the Legislature, but they did attempt in those hearings to tell the all-party committee what was going on in the cultural, recreational, sports and fitness field, and therefore I think the government should be willing to look at amendments to this bill.
There is one further thing that I wish to deal with in general, and that is the attempt to divert any of the unallocated funds that are not spent on fitness, sport, recreation and so on to hospitals. All of us know that the hospitals are in very dire straits. They are closing beds; there is a shortage of nurses; there are lineups for surgery. But we have to remember that since this bill was introduced, the hospitals have received a big shot in the arm through the employer health levy. The government is replacing the OHIP premiums, and we are in favour of its phasing out the OHIP premiums, but it is replacing those with the employer health tax levy which will raise, not the amount of money the premiums brought in, but $300 million more. Surely that is going to be a shot in the arm for the health services, although again, the employer health tax levy is not earmarked for hospitals.
In his budget, the Treasurer said he was not only bringing in the employer health tax levy but, as a balance -- presumably because he is not taxing the self-employed -- he is bringing in a one percentage point increase in the income tax for health purposes, he says. Then he is bringing in additional amounts from the employer health tax levy.
He also appears to be bringing in a large amount from people who have paid premiums on the quarterly instalment basis and who will be expected to pay for the first three months of 1990, even though premiums are to be abolished as of 1 January.
The Treasurer has all sorts of money coming out of his ears for hospitals and he should be reorganizing the delivery of hospital services. He does not have to use lottery money for hospital services. He should instead be considering his whole recreational, cultural, fitness and sports fields, which are among the most underfunded fields of this province and which have made a very strong case for getting more funding.
The alliance suggests it should get at least a third of the lottery funds allocated to it. I think they should go for a larger percentage because, when we read their briefs, their needs are so great and so fundamental to the development of the health and wellbeing of all the people in this province. I hope, when we come to the amendments, we will not pass allocations to hospitals, but we will restore the original needs and set up a corporation to dispose of the unallocated funds the government wishes to spring from the consolidated revenue fund and we will set up an Ontario lottery trust fund which will dispose of those in a more suitable way than the provincial Treasurer has indicated he is planning to do in his bill.
I hope we will get on with the amendments.
The Chair: Let us do exactly that, get on with the amendments.
The Chair: Will the member for Beaches-Woodbine move the amendment on behalf of Mr Farnan?
Ms Bryden: I move that section 9 of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“9. The net profit of the corporation after provision for prizes and the payment of expenses of operations shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct, with a minimum of one third of the amounts so paid in to be available for appropriation by the Legislature,
“(a) for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor; and
“(b) for the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation”
“and the remainder of such amounts to be available for appropriation in such manner as is determined by the Legislature.”
May I speak briefly to it?
The Chair: As the member may be well aware, we have been told by legislative counsel that this contravenes standing order 54. I will read it because all other bills --
Mr D. S. Cooke: That is supposed to be your ruling, not the lawyers’.
The Chair: We are based upon it but I rule that it is out of order, if that may satisfy you. I will read standing order 54 for the members’ benefit. Dispense? That is good enough. Therefore, we cannot receive it.
Ms Bryden: Usually members may say why they are submitting the amendment. I am aware also that it could be ruled out of order under standing order 54 but I think I should have an opportunity to state briefly why we think it is in order and then you can rule under that.
The Chair: No, it does not work this way. What I suggest to members, if they plan to do this and they know ahead of time that the bill or proposed amendment will be out of order, is to speak to it before you make a proposal to move something. It cannot be made afterwards if it is not receivable. May I suggest to you that if you know that next time, speak to it beforehand and not afterwards. I cannot allow you to speak right now. It is not receivable. I cannot receive this proposed amendment.
Mr McLean: I would like to say a few words with regard to this bill before I put any amendments, if I could do so.
Ms Bryden: On the point of ruling, Mr Chairman: In the committee on Bill 47 the other week, the chairman followed the member to state the case before the ruling was made not before the amendment was before us because you do not know what you are talking to if you do not have the amendment before you.
The Chair: We met this morning, the Speaker and myself and the two deputy chairs and we agreed. I maintain my ruling that if a proposal is made in front of us, and I concur with that, if that proposal is made in front of us and if it is not receivable, if it is out of order we cannot allow discussion afterwards. I do not know what they did in committee but there was a unanimous decision this morning and I concur with that and that is my decision right now.
Mr Reycraft: The new standing orders were not in effect then.
Ms Bryden: It is different from last week.
The Chair: It may be. I do not know what people did in committee but this is what we discussed this morning. This is what we ruled.
Mr McLean: I would like to make a few points in regard to Bill 119, if I may. We are in committee of the whole and I would like the opportunity to do that. May I proceed?
I just want to speak briefly on Bill 119, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. We find this bill is deficient in a number of respects and we will be proposing amendments. This bill, for a number of reasons, is a fine example of the sorry way this government conducts the public business of this province.
First, the bill illustrates how this government has consistently fumbled its own legislative agenda. Bill 119 received first reading on 25 April 1988. It is in fact a 1988 budget bill. It is only now, however, some 18 months later, one budget later, almost through 1989 in the fiscal year, that any substantive work is done on the bill
So far, for about a year and a half, the government has kept arts, culture, fitness, sports, recreation groups hanging fire while this bill, which deals directly with the future funding of these groups, was mired in the Liberal legislative swamp.
Second, while I would not wish to prejudge the results of this committee’s deliberations, we have no indication that the government is going to permit any substantive amendments to Bill 119 and I understand today that the parliamentary assistant say’s that there will be no amendments. So we will shelter behind standing order 15.
The public hearings will then be had for naught. It reminds me of the public hearings on Sunday shopping bills, where group after group came before the committee of this House and said. “This is a bad law and we do not need it.” We believe in the cases of those bills, some 522 groups made submissions and 492, about 95 per cent of them were opposed to the Sunday shopping bills.
In the case of Bill 119, I venture to say that the percentage of groups opposed to what the government is proposing is even higher, and my colleague indicates it could be only one per cent who were in favour of it. I dare say that would be the tact, but that will not stop the government from passing this bill, because the purpose of these hearings from the beginning from the government perspective was not to improve the legislation, but to allow the government to be able to say that it listened and it consulted. Yet the government will not allow amendments which deal with the concerns that have been expressed by one organization after another, and it tacitly admits that the consultative process has been a charade.
Third, this bill is yet another example of the confusion we find in so many ways with this government’s policy initiatives. The clearest example of confused policymaking is provided by the way this government has tried and failed to deliver on its promise in the very specific plan to lower auto insurance premiums. I think the record is that that case speaks for itself and I will therefore not dwell on it at this time.
I submit, however, that the record of this Liberal government on the question of the use of lottery funds shows a similar confusion. It is no secret that the current Treasurer is opposed in principle to earmarking or dedicating revenues.
He has said on a number of occasions, including the debate on the original Ontario Lottery Corporation Act in February 1975, that he believed earmarking of revenues was a bad practice. That is what the Treasurer said in 1975.
Bill 38, introduced on 13 May 1986, was at least consistent with that position, as it would have eliminated the limitations imposed on the use of lottery funds by section 9 of the act. Bill 38, incidentally, did not stipulate any alternative use for lottery profits. Bill 38, however, did not move beyond first reading.
Now we have Bill 119, which is apparently designed to meet the government’s need for greater flexibility in the use of appropriation of lottery profits. But at the same time that the government is telling us it needs more flexibility with regard to the allocation of lottery profits, it proposes the establishment of a new lottery, Cleantario, the proceeds of which will be dedicated to and earmarked for environmental projects.
Further, when we in this party, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, suggested to the Premier (Mr Peterson) that he might want to establish a new lottery called Kidtario to help finance all those education programs he had promised, the Premier responded that his government does not believe in lotteries for education.
So we end up with a government which claims to need greater flexibility but wants to introduce a new dedicated lottery, with a government which does not believe in lotteries for education but apparently does believe in lotteries for health care and the environment. I say “apparently” because it is far from certain that the promised Cleantario lottery will ever see the light of day.
It will be recalled that we asked about Cleantario in relation to Bill 119 at the start of the public hearings. The information we received back from the chairman was, and I will quote here from the Hansard of 12 September:
“We are in no position to say anything on that in this committee with respect to Bill 119. Nobody has made any judgements that we can determine anywhere with respect to that coming down the pike at this point in time. There is just not any information out there on that one.”
So we all ended up with a government which in April wants to use lotteries to support environmental projects but in September has seemingly lost interest. Who can say with any confidence that their policy will be in place in December? The record clearly shows the confusion of priorities and direction in the lottery policy field.
Finally, this bill is an excellent example of how this government manipulates an issue in search of a quick headline. The headline the government wants in this case, of course, is “Liberals Use Lotteries to Fund Hospitals” and not “Liberals Loot Lotteries -- Rob Groups of Funding.” That is a little longer headline. The members opposite would not like that one so well.
But that positive headline would be about as hollow as the hearings were because there is nothing in Bill 119 which guarantees that hospitals will get one extra dollar in operating funds as a result of this bill being passed, relative to what they would receive through the normal appropriation process.
As far as hospital finding is concerned, this bill is an elaborate shell game, an exercise in creative and politically expedient accounting. Bill 119 simply says that in any fiscal year net profits not used for the promotion of sports and culture and the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation shall be applied to and accounted for in the Public Accounts of Ontario as part of the money appropriated by the Legislature in the fiscal year for the operation of hospitals.
At the end of the fiscal year, the government can say that out of the $6 billion it passed on to hospitals in operating transfers, $300 million or $350 million came from lottery profits. This does not mean the hospitals got $300 million or $350 million more than they would have otherwise, but it does allow the government to clean up the books in terms of how it accounts for lottery profits not expended on activities and programs mandated by the act.
The same can be said of the national surplus. notational surplus or phantom surplus provision. If we talk about the phantom surplus in relation to the proceeds generated by Ontario-only games, we are talking about $369 million to $400 million on the whole lottery profit pool. However, the surplus is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1.4 billion, which is a pretty rich neighbourhood.
If we pass this bill today, does that mean Ontario hospitals will wake up tomorrow faced with the happy prospect of a $1.4-billion windfall? Of course not. The Treasury does not have that money in a sock or in the trunk of the Treasurer’s limo. Again, all this bill does is provide a way of accounting for what happened to those lottery funds which were not expended under the terms of section 9 of the act. Ontario hospitals do not win in this shell game, but our sports, recreation, fitness and culture groups could lose and lose big. I am surprised that the minister responsible has not taken an active part in this.
They are worried also because they believe this bill puts them in competition with the health care system for lottery dollars, does not provide them with any guarantee of access to those dollars and consequently they will be squeezed out. I know the government says this will not happen. It says: “Trust us. You will be taken care of.” But as a Toronto Star editorial which addressed this issue last October put it, “the matter is too important for trust alone. The Treasurer should amend his bill so that it guarantees continued funding of lottery profits for sports, recreation and culture.”
I could not agree more. Also, if the government is serious about using lottery funds to help finance the health care system or, perhaps more accurately, to legitimize the use of lottery funds to finance the health care system, then I would hope these funds would be supplemental to the appropriations which would be provided out of the general revenues and not a substitute for them. Let’s make sure that lottery money for health care is additional new money and is not simply netted off against inflows from general revenues.
We think Bill 119 should be amended to provide sports, culture, fitness and recreation groups with a guarantee of access to lottery funds to ensure that any lottery funds allocated to the health care system are supplemental to and not a substitute for revenues from other sources, and to provide for a more equitable disposition of the so-called service.
As I said before, we will be proposing amendments. Can anyone believe a government with no walls and no barriers hearing hundreds of delegations opposed to Bill 119 and then bringing this bill forward with no amendments? It is a disgrace and a slap in the face to all those who took the time and travelled hundreds and thousands of miles to attend hearings in Toronto, to not bring this bill in amended.
I cannot believe what I have seen and what I am hearing here today. It is a disgrace to those people and to those groups. The government should be ashamed of itself.
Mr Kerrio: Half an hour ago you were complaining about all the amendments they were bringing in. Make up your mind.
Mrs Marland: I think it is very important that the members in this House recognize what this legislation is about. I think it is important that they recognize that if this bill goes through as it is presently drafted, without our amendments, there is a tremendous sector of the population of Ontario who simply will not be protected.
It is rather ironical that I stand here today not any longer as the spokesperson for culture and recreation for our party, but I stand here speaking in opposition to this bill, as I did when we had Bill 98 before us.
There is one very big difference, and that is that some of those members who are providing the interjections this afternoon were not in this House when we had Bill 38 on the floor. They were not here to recognize the comments of the Treasurer at that time who, in not calling that bill, saw very well what the impact of Bill 38 was going to be on the arts and recreation and sports groups around this province.
We can smile when we talk about recreation and sports, performing arts and visual arts and say, “Oh, yes, but you know we have a need for this money and these groups are not really the big priority, so we have to spread the pot around, we have to share it with everyone.” The fact of the matter is that this bill is -- one cannot use the word “misleading” -- but this bill does not give any guarantees to anybody and that is the problem with it. On the surface it says, “Oh, we are going to share all the lottery profits with the health care system.” There is not a word in this legislation that guarantees $1 anywhere. There is no minimum; there is no limit. There is nothing in this legislation that says how much money is going to be spent anywhere, and that is where this bill misrepresents the facts as far as we are concerned.
I am speaking on behalf of those people who actually agree, yes, there should be lottery money for hospitals, and, yes, there should be lottery money for recreation, physical fitness, culture and sport. But this bill has no guarantees for anybody. All this bill guarantees, the only wording in this bill that guarantees where lottery profits go is into the consolidated revenue fund. For the laypeople, the term “consolidated revenue fund” means the government’s pot of money.
We have no assurances what this Liberal government will do with that money. This money will not create one additional hospital bed in this province, it will not create one class or one facility for training medical staff to supply the health care that is needed in this province. This money is for hospital operations; it is not for capital. That is where I think the public of Ontario is being misled at this point with this legislation.
I am just getting a high sign from the Chair and I guess it is six o’clock, so I will adjourn the debate. I have not, however, finished my comments in opposition to this bill.
On motion by Mrs Marland, the debate was adjourned.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments and progress on another.
The House adjourned at 1800.