The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
PROSTHETIC HAIR REPLACEMENTS
Mr Pollock moved resolution 36:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Ministry of Health should pay for prosthetic hair replacements for persons under 18, or those enrolled as full-time students in any school, college or university that have hair loss due to accidents, conditions such as alopecia areata and treatments such as chemotherapy.
Mr Pollock: I could have enlarged on my resolution to mention other forms of hair loss and many other concerns I have. However, it is my understanding that a resolution is to get the general consensus one way or another. A bill is a necessary way to make all the rules and guidelines.
We all know that prosthetic devices are funded by the Ministry of Health. These prosthetic devices are funded at the rate of 75 per cent by the Ministry of Health and 25 per cent by individuals. When we are talking about children, the fact is that if they have to get an artificial leg or arm replaced on a regular basis because of their growing bodies, this still could be very expensive. The same would be true in regard to prosthetic hair replacement. As the child develops, the hairpiece would have to be changed.
Expense plays a major role in the choosing of a hairpiece and subsequently the happiness of the child. Many parents have had to choose a department store type which is generally made for adults and, because it is geared to adults, does not suit the child and is therefore a great cause of distress to the wearer.
There are reputable companies whose business is to make prosthetic hair replacements especially for their clients, whether for adults or children. They are expensive, because much care and time is needed to make them personal. Specific fittings are taken to ensure the base is well formed and then the hairpiece is completed with a colour similar to the child’s. It is then cut and styled so it is complimentary to the child.
These prosthetics also are fastened on with special tape so that children will have no fear of losing them. They can swim, play ball and run in the wind with everyone else and they can be confident when going out in public, that they will be accepted by their peers.
But how many parents can afford the $1,200 to $3,500 for a prosthetic hair replacement along with the many other expenses that are often involved with raising a family? It may be that the child will need a new one every year, with constant wear.
I have had parents come into my office who are heartbroken because of the problem facing their child and their not being able to afford a proper hairpiece. It makes them feel that they are letting their child down. Many of these people do not know where to turn. Would it not be of great assistance to be able to tell them that our health care and our government are ready to help them?
This is a health problem. Let us address it and in doing so, we will help these young people who cannot help themselves.
I would like to tell the House about a mother and son coming into my office. The son had alopecia areata. We discussed their concerns and the mother expressed her hope that OHIP or the Ministry of Health would pay for a prosthetic hair replacement. Most of the time we were talking the son sat silently, but I could tell he was listening to every word.
He then started to express himself, talking along the lines of being able to fight the world and cope with his problem. But all the time that he sat in my office, never once did he offer to remove his hat. If it was not easy for him to remove his hat in my office when only his mother and I were present, I can just imagine how much pressure there would be on him in the classroom or in the playground, or how self-conscious he would feel if his hat or cap were blown off by the wind or flipped off by another child.
Every member here knows that alopecia areata is not discussed on a regular basis. The information that we receive on alopecia areata is sometimes contradictory; in some cases it refers to it as a condition and in other articles it refers to it as a disease. I have an article on alopecia areata that comes from the United States, and it refers to it as a disease.
Whether it is a disease or a condition, I believe that the Ministry of Health should offer some assistance. I would like to read an article on it and also a letter requesting support from the National Alopecia Areata Foundation which I feel is self-explanatory.
“Alopecia areata is a common condition that results in the loss of hair on the scalp. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches. It occurs in both males and females of all ages, but young persons are affected most often.
“Normally, the hair follicles on the scalp are producing 35 metres of hair each day. In alopecia areata, the affected hair follicles slow down production drastically and become very small, and grow no hair that is visible above the surface for months or years. While they are in this hibernation-like state, the hair follicles remain alive below the surface and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal.
“Some people develop only a few bare patches and regrow them within a year.... In some persons, the condition spreads until all hair on the scalp is lost; this is called alopecia totalis. No matter how widespread the hair loss is, the hair follicles remain alive below the skin surface and the possibility of hair regrowth remains.”
This is a letter from the National Alopecia Areata Foundation in the United States:
“The board, staff and volunteers of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation thank you for your tremendous support in our most successful year to date. The foundation has awarded $170,000 in research grants in the last four years, but we still have a great deal to do to educate a largely misinformed public about the disease and provide needed nationwide support.
“We helped many people through a rough year of their lives. There were the frustrated parents who called when their child was placed in special education or denied access to school because of alopecia areata -- we were able to educate them as to their rights and refer them to appropriate agencies for additional help. We connected many lonely teenagers with others their age. We were able to calm distressed individuals by directing them to self-help facilities in their own communities.
“We sponsored a national public awareness week and an international conference. We improved and expanded the bimonthly newsletter, strengthened support groups around the world and disseminated accurate, up-to-date information to the public and to government agencies.
“Unfortunately, alopecia areata does not command headlines or great public awareness. While the NAAF will double and redouble public awareness efforts, the front-line supporters for alopecia areata sufferers are others who have the condition or those who love them. We must help ourselves. We have to build our foundation to foster research and continue support....
“On behalf of everyone with alopecia areata, we thank you in advance for your generous continued support. You do make a difference in many people’s lives.”
Those people who lose their hair because of chemotherapy also undergo a traumatic experience. They not only lose their hair because of the treatment but they have the added worry in regard to whether the treatment was successful. Hair lost due to chemotherapy treatments usually grows back, and it is my understanding that the Canadian Cancer Society offers some assistance. I am sure the cancer society’s budget is stretched to the limit and any assistance the Ministry of Health can give children suffering from cancer and the effects of chemotherapy would be appreciated.
When a person needs a prosthetic hair replacement because of an accident, hair loss due to a fire, alopecia areata or chemotherapy, it is a very emotional experience. I am sure that any assistance from the Ministry of Health would be appreciated.
I hope that I have explained to this assembly just some of the problems facing children with hair loss. This resolution was designed to provide help for children, students and young adults who do not have any financial support of their own.
I would ask all members of this assembly to support the resolution and I would like to repeat the last line of the letter from the National Alopecia Areata Foundation: “You do make a difference in many people’s lives.”
Mr Grandmaître: The resolution proposes a further expansion of the ministry’s assistive devices program, which already is straining to meet demands of a more urgent nature. I realize how important it is to the member this morning, but I would like briefly to tell the House what the Ministry of Health has done and is still doing in providing financial assistance to not only what the member is referring to this moaning, but also other programs.
That program has been expanding at a tremendous rate. Spending on the devices alone has increased more than tenfold since the government came to power. The figure was $8.4 million in fiscal year 1985-86; last year the amount spent was $49.3 million. The printed estimates for this fiscal year are $90.6 million and still the demand keeps on rising, due largely to an ageing population.
It all began in 1982. It was limited at the time to providing assistance to Ontario residents 18 years or younger. The program was not conceived as a universal and comprehensive benefit program under the Canada Health Act; rather it was designed as a cost-shared program of selective benefits. It meant that the ministry would pay and continues to pay, as pointed out by the honourable member, 75 per cent of the cost of selected assistive devices.
The devices eligible for the funding originally included hearing aids, prosthetic and orthotic devices, wheelchairs, custom seating and ostomy supplies. In January 1983, coverage was added for respiratory equipment and supplies, and shortly after for oxygen. The following year, 1984, coverage was added for communications and visual aids. On 1 January 1986, the eligible age limit was increased to 21. Each 1 July since then, the qualifying age level has been raised by one year until this year it has reached 25.
While the age limit for the full range of assistive devices was being raised, the program began abolishing the age restriction for certain devices. In July 1986, coverage for prostheses was extended to include people of all ages. These included artificial limbs and breast prostheses for women. In September 1986, respiratory devices and ostomy supplies became eligible for coverage for all ages. Two months later, wheelchairs, custom seating systems and mobility aids such as specialized crutches and walkers were added for everyone. In December 1988, the program provided for assistance for hearing aids for all ages.
The priorities for the program lie with extending the qualifications for obtaining vital equipment at all ages. I am sure honourable members will agree that we must seek to provide for the growing proportion of the elderly. After all, old age is you and me and everybody some day.
Consider, for example, those devices and supplies where the limitation still applies to those aged 25 or under. These include orthotics, that is, braces and splints for arms, legs and back, visual aids such as Braille printers, magnifiers and special glasses, and communications aids for deaf people. In addition, provision of oxygen is still limited to those under the age of 25.
Extending is considered more urgent, at least at this time in the evolution of the program, than providing artificial hairpieces. In general, hairpieces do not meet the criteria of the assistive devices program because they could be considered a cosmetic device. Cosmetic treatments, as members are aware, are not eligible for health care coverage.
Further, hairpieces do not fit the definition of a prosthesis on two grounds: First, if the hair loss is permanent, it does not substitute for a missing body function; second, in cases where the missing hair is a temporary condition, the hairpiece does not replace a permanently missing body part. The overall criterion is permanent loss. Thus, temporary hair loss conditions such as those caused by chemotherapy or infectious rash are not considered eligible.
While artificial hairpieces in themselves are not covered now under the assistive devices program, there is provision for some assistance under the health insurance program, OHIP. If the hair loss is nonhereditary, such as having been caused by an accident, medical reparation could be covered regardless of age. These include surgical procedures such as a skin graft or skin flap and/or implanting hair plugs.
I think the government, in the last four or five years, has done a tremendous job in increasing the financial assistance to people needing such services, and we will continue to do so. I know that the member will be disappointed to hear that the Ministry of Health is not prepared at this time to improve this assistance or have these people qualify under our program. But I would like to tell the members that the Ministry of Health will continue to look at the possibility of expanding this program and we will continue to provide more financial assistance.
Mr Pollock: The member for Scarborough Centre (Miss Nicholas) wanted to speak on this and also the member for Markham (Mr Cousens). but he felt that he would not be called on until 10:30. He had to go to a committee. That is why he is not here at the present time. He just assumed that he would have another half hour before he would be called on to speak.
Anyway, I appreciate what the Ministry of Health has done for people in providing prosthetic devices, but I still believe in what I mentioned in my resolution, that prosthetic hairpieces should be funded by the Ministry of Health. I have no quarrel with it being funded at the same rate that other prosthetic devices are funded at, the 75 per cent-25 per cent level. I have no problems with that at all.
The Deputy Speaker: We have just been told that the member for Markham would like to address the House on this topic.
Mr Cousens: I very much would like to and I would like to thank my very good friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr Pollock) for giving me a chance to participate in his resolution. I think it touches upon the sensitivity that our honourable friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough has for people and for the problems that people go through.
If there is anything we can do as legislators to make their lives better, then we should do it. If there is something that can be done here that touches upon one group that may not be as large a group that is represented by others that are more identified within society, then let’s try to do it.
When the member for Hastings-Peterborough asked me to participate, I think he was going back to my earlier days when I wore my collar the other way around, when I was a clergyman and was chaplain at a mental health institution and a place for the criminally insane in Penetanguishene. I worked there for three years and was a counsellor and, as chaplain, had a chance to get very close to some of the problems that people have later on in life.
It was through those early days of my work in the church that I began to realize that many of the problems -- I knew it, having studied psychology at university, but it was a practical experience, when I started working with adults who now, in later life, were encountering problems that stemmed from the very early beginnings when they were young. I will never forget one of the people with whom we were dealing, who had his face disfigured in an accident as a child with terrible scars across his face. The surgery that had been done had never fully correctively removed the facial disfigurement.
This person ended up coming out of himself, fighting against the world, fighting against society, in order to make a statement of his unhappiness with life. This very person was at that point in a mental institution and unable to cope with his neighbours, his friends, with society at large. What really happened in the early part of his life as a young child when this accident had taken place, the fact that it had never been fully and properly corrected, was one of the ingredients at least for a person who was susceptible to a problem later on, emotionally and otherwise. The fact that it had not been stemmed and corrected earlier meant that later on in life it became an even bigger obstacle. A person may stand out from the rest of the crowd in any way, for example, his size. He is short or he is tall.
If, as we now see it, the person is a dwarf, there are ways in which you can lengthen his legs and cause him to stand taller. If there is a problem with their hair or if there is a problem with themselves, their physical being, then medical science is in a position today to do something about it in many cases. We understand that the human being is a very complex person and in understanding the human being, there are physiological and physical and emotional contributing factors that make us up to what we are. If one of those factors is out of balance with themselves and the rest of society we, as we look on, might understand better the personal dilemma that it creates for them.
So my experience, as it goes back to those early days, is one that ties in to the resolution that is before us now. If we as a society can do something to help a person stand up by himself, go out into the street, deal with his fellows, the boys, the girls, his friends, his neighbours, his family and whoever, with a sense of self-confidence, then we have done the right thing. I do not think it is ever easy to help people help themselves, but if we can help them through the kind of assistive devices we are talking about in this resolution, then we will have gone a long way for those very people.
I do not have any evidence that children who have this problem of hair loss are going to end up with the kind of problems in the mental institution that this child had as an adult. I do not begin to say that. I do not want that to be the kind of direction that I am taking here. I am saying that I know from many, many people that if they even go to the barber or hairdresser who does a terrible job, gets the tint wrong, takes too much hair off in one direction and something happens, they want to go and hide. They do not want to come out of the house. I know of people who have not come to a meeting for various reasons, because of the way they looked that day, because of what happened at the hairdresser or the barber shop.
I know that I have a more permanent problem and I know that my good friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough, in asking me to do it, knew that I had a sensitivity about the subject that goes deeper than that of maybe many others in this House. There might be only one or two who would compare with my situation in hair loss and would have a sensitivity to it. I think I handle it fairly well. As a child I did not have to handle it because mine is a heredity problem. Yet even as adults there are many who will have hairpieces and toupees and ways of combing their hair to present themselves in a most positive way.
It is in the spirit of being sensitive to the needs of human beings that we come today in this House to consider what we can do about particular people who are under 18 years of age and have hair loss. What can we do to help them? What can we do to help them establish themselves in society and make fruitful, full lives for themselves and to understand the balance that takes place in their need for self-confidence and recognition, their need for being able to look in the mirror and feel good about themselves?
I think that is really where our honourable friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough is coming forward. He is saying that those who are young people particularly need to be given every advantage they can possibly have.
I think the resolution before us would apply to many other circumstances. What the member for Hastings-Peterborough is really doing is identifying one group, and I think if we can say of that one group that its need is legitimate and valid, then there will be others as well who would be able to be given that support from our government where it could.
I happen to believe that we can do something for those who have alopecia areata; it is not a widespread disease, but if we can understand its impact on them we might understand that it is very serious.
I am referring to an article on the psychological significance of hair. In the conclusion of a very long article on the whole situation of baldness in young people, it says:
“From primitive times to the present there has been a tremendous human concern about the general condition of one’s hair. The psychological significance of hair should not be belittled. Throughout history, hair has played an important role in practically every aspect of human behaviour.”
It goes on to explain how it has done that throughout history and it concludes by saying:
“Today we know that baldness is a natural phenomenon and not a disease, but yet to most men and women it is a traumatic condition to be corrected at any cost. There are millions of men and women who are so concerned about their hair loss that they seek medical and surgical help.”
For these young people, we know now it is a medical problem and we know that we can give them help. That is what this resolution is calling for. It is saying, “Can we in the province of Ontario pay for prosthetic hair replacements for children and people under 18 years of age?”
We are considering not only the ones that we are dealing with who have alopecia areata; we could be talking about those young people who have chemotherapy. I have seen pictures of the way in which we are now working towards bringing them into society, back into school where the teachers and all the community are working to help those young people who have had the disease and now are going through another kind of withdrawal symptom because of their physical experience. Society, the school and teachers -- the whole community -- are trying to make those very young people come out of themselves and be part of the community again. It is to that end that this resolution makes a great deal of sense.
There are little areas in which many of our own government programs do an excellent job to help people. We have the assistive devices program, which is assisting people with hearing impairments so they can hear. We have the ability to have canes, walkers and wheelchairs. We have the ability to provide for breathing equipment for them. We do a great deal in this province. In fact, look around the world and there are few places that do as much as we do in Ontario. Now what we could say is that here is an example of one group that has a specific kind of problem that has not been addressed as fully as it could have been.
I thank the honourable member for Hastings-Peterborough for giving us a chance to consider this resolution. I thank him for the concern he is showing to other people. As politicians, so much of what we do is service to our community where we, in our riding office and through legislation, try to make this a better place to live. In supporting this resolution, I know we will have gone at least a little bit further to help those who are in a position to need that help. I thank the member for his resolution and I will be supporting it.
Miss Nicholas: I want to say at the outset that I will be supporting the resolution of the member for Hastings-Peterborough. I welcome the opportunity today to speak in favour of it, to speak on the issue and perhaps express two concerns I have about the resolution. Perhaps in his last two minutes the member will reply to my concerns.
I think the assistive devices program that we have in Ontario is a great initiative. It is one that has served many in the community. It has been expanded a great deal in recent years, and I agree that there are many demands on it. I think just mentioning the amount that it has cost in the last few years shows how it has been received by the community, how receptive they have been and how needed it has been: from $8.4 million in 1985-86 to $49.3 million last year. It is expected that we will be spending over $90 million this year on the program. This is due to many factors. One, of course, is the ageing population. There are mobility aids, hearing aids and wheelchairs that have helped seniors to continue to live in our community and to carry on as they did before, and I welcome this program that allows them to do it.
There are other things that are offered, as has been said, including artificial limbs and breast prostheses. I know that many of my constituents have benefited from this program; one in particular needed a wheelchair. Wheelchairs have greatly improved over the last few years. I remember when they had chairs which you had to operate manually. Now they are motorized, they are somewhat comfortable and they allow the individuals who are in them to get pretty well anywhere they want to that is accessible by wheelchair.
The cost of this wheelchair was $6,000. Even at the 75 per cent coverage, there was $1,500 that she had to pay. I know she found that money through our help, through other sources and community efforts that are out there to help people like herself who, even at the 75 per cent funding level, are unable to purchase chairs. Having said that, I think it is valid that we cover 75 per cent because then some people, knowing that some cost will come out of their own pocket, when choosing the device they want may not always choose the Rolls Royce but will choose the aid which best suits their needs.
The assistive devices program has a definition of “long term,” and it suggested that it be six months. I think it has been said that with hair loss it is an undetermined length of time. Initially, when hair loss occurs, you are not sure whether it will be three months, six months, a year or a lifetime; it is very difficult to determine. Therefore, I think we should say that when hair loss does occur due to a disease, cancer treatment or other ailments, if we do not know how long it will be, we should err on the side that says the person does need some kind of hair replacement in the meantime and it does fall within this program.
I know that on the standing committee on the Ombudsman we dealt with someone who requested an electric breast pump, and that to be under ADP. The problem was that when you have a premature child, quite often it remains in hospital for six or eight weeks after the birth and at that time the mother has to use a breast pump to be able to provide her child with milk. The cost of this may be in excess of $200. I know the committee had some concerns that maybe six or eight weeks did not fall under this program and we discussed that. I think that can be distinguished in this instance where in most cases the hair loss is for a fairly long period of time and, more importantly, an indeterminate length of time, which forces the individual to purchase some kind of hair replacement, not knowing.
I know that chemotherapy treatment is ongoing. Hair loss occurs maybe several times during a person’s treatment for cancer. Their dignity is lost. It is very obvious they have undergone some kind of treatment because of the sudden hair loss. I think that many of us have been touched by someone who has been affected by chemotherapy treatment.
It is unfortunate that we do not have a cure for cancer, but is it not nice that we do have a treatment that allows someone to continue to live his life. Quite often we say, “Oh, this person is only going to live six months.” How often has someone been given six months to live and then he has lived three, four, five years or many more years than that. I think our medical knowledge is too uncertain to know how long they are going to be living, and therefore we should allow them to live their final months or years in the best way possible. If we are helping by providing them with some kind of hair replacement, then I think we are going a long way.
I did not know about alopecia before today. I know the member for Etobicoke West (Mrs LeBourdais) has a friend who has experienced it, and I know it touches all ages. I think we provide psychological treatment for these people. I think that for the amount it hurts people in terms of morale, we should also provide hair replacement in addition to the psychological treatment.
Is it cosmetic? No, I do not think it is. There is a distinction between a cosmetic hair replacement and one that is required because of some kind of medical ailment. I think we distinguish between where a woman needs a breast prosthesis just to have larger breasts and when she has undergone a mastectomy and needs some kind of replacement to continue for the rest of her life; her life has been saved and we can make it a more fruitful life.
There are two concerns I do have about this resolution. One is the specific age limit of 18. The member was on the committee when the Ombudsman discussed whether we can make a distinction between under 18 and over 18 in the northern health travel grant program. I do not think it is appropriate that we just make the distinction of 18. I would like to see it even broader than that. I know the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) will probably have a bit of a fit for that, but I think that is something we should consider in addition to the replacement.
The other suggestion I have is that there are extensive hair replacement alternatives. I believe we should put some kind of limit on what hair replacements will be permitted in terms of maybe a dollar value or a number value. I do not think anyone should be entitled to more than one at a time, and I think we can specify that type of thing. They may need more than one over a period of their ailment, but I think we should make some restriction on that. I do not know who should do that or how we should do that, but that is the second concern I have about it.
I think this is a great initiative. It is one that is going to allow us to give people back a quality of life, to go out into the world and not only deal with the problem that they have of cancer or a disease like alopecia but also allow them to go out and feel good about themselves and to meet the challenge of dealing with the disorder that they have at that particular time.
In that way, I commend the resolution of the member for Hastings-Peterborough. I will be supporting it, and I am glad that members are so concerned about their constituents.
Mrs Grier: We had some discussions with the third party and are prepared to seek unanimous consent to allow the member for Hastings-Peterborough to continue the debate.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Mr Pollock: I will lend some time to my colleague the member for Wellington.
The Deputy Speaker: Let me consult because this is a rather unique situation here.
Mrs Grier: I am prepared to change my motion. It was my error. I thought it was the member for Hastings-Peterborough who sought the additional time.
The Deputy Speaker: For the third party, in that case, the member for Wellington.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would first of all like to compliment my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough for bringing this resolution forward. The parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Health, the member for Ottawa East (Mr Grandmaître), has made many compelling reasons why we cannot afford to go into a new area of endeavour to help our people.
Indeed, health is a very broad field, and they are doing many things to help people, but I constantly think we have to review what has happened in the past, and possibly we have reached a time when we should be looking at the type of proposal that has been presented today. Maybe it is not as urgent as some of the pressing problems we face in the health field, but to the young people who are the victims of this disease and who do require this type of support service it is extremely important to them.
It is not only important to the fact of their appearance, but the peer pressure in our society today is such that young people may have their whole lives affected by what happens during this period of time that they are in school and how the other students react to their appearance. For that reason alone, I think we should have some compassion to understand that it is something possibly beyond just the cosmetic appearance; it is something that strikes at the very future of their being.
We will spend some extra money out of the provincial budget to do this job. The proposed resolution would request spending certain amounts of money. But if these young people develop into better citizens because of that expense then what we are really doing is just investing in the future. So it is not an expense per se, but it will be an investment that will be returned many times over.
I encourage the minister to give very serious consideration to looking at the merits of the proposal, at least to cost it out and determine the dollars required in order to do the job that is necessary. I would even be very supportive of the comments of the member for Scarborough Centre (Miss Nicholas) that possibly we should not just be looking at those 18 years old. People who are 19, 20 and 21 may have the same problem.
We have to look at the need of the individual. In much of society today support services are based on the principle of need. I hope the Ministry of Health will look at the proposal, determine the cost, consider the benefits that would flow from the proposal and determine if it could not give some consideration to the merit of the proposed resolution.
The member for Markham (Mr Cousens), who is a former minister involved in many of these health-related activities, does have a problem. I sit behind him, and he certainly has a hair loss, but I would not be supportive of providing him with any financial support. I think he can afford to buy his own hair replacement.
In conclusion, I would like to ask the members of the Legislature to give very serious consideration to the impact that this resolution would have, how it would benefit even just a few young people. If we as legislators can in some way help some of these unfortunate people to have a better life, then it is worth the effort.
As an opposition member who is critical of government spending, I can assure the members that I will not criticize this. I will be very supportive of it.
The Deputy Speaker: I know the unanimous decision was to give it to the third party, but some other people have indicated they would also like to speak. Would there be a unanimous decision to allow members from other parties to speak on this?
Mr Elliot: I would like to speak for a couple of minutes in support of this resolution. The member for Hastings-Peterborough is to be complimented for putting a motion like this in front of the House in private members’ hour, because he has highlighted in his usual way -- this particular member has a lot of common sense -- a very pressing problem to part of our society. I would like to address the motion from two points of view.
On a number of occasions in private members’ hour, I have stood and supported motions that I find to be complete liberal philosophy. In this particular case, what we are talking about is a motion associated with medicine. I think the compelling arguments from other members that I have heard here this morning having to do with the preventive nature of this particular motion are very appealing to me as a liberal person.
If we could enhance the self-image of individuals, particularly those persons under 18 years of age -- and this highlights the other compelling part of the motion to me, the fact that there is an age specification here -- what we ought to do in the Ministry of Health is take a look at each individual and, from a preventive point of view, assist them to become economically viable in our community. The payoff down the road obviously makes all of that effort very worth while.
I think these things are incorporated in the motion. The other thing that I would like to comment on with respect to motions such as this is whether the motion will be addressed in some way by the Ministry of Health. I realize from discussing this particular motion with individuals prior to today that they are prioritizing all the time. Whether or not this motion brings these particular individuals to the top of the priority list immediately is a moot point. There are a lot of demands in the Ministry of Health for the money that it must expend. There are a lot of compelling arguments put every day for that money.
I hope the ministry will view this as a clear indication by a significant number of people in the Legislative Assembly that, for the reasons that have been stated, we feel this to be a viable idea that should be considered seriously. In that context, I will be supporting the motion made by the member for Hastings-Peterborough.
Mr Mahoney: I do not want to take up too much of the time that is left to the mover of the motion. While this is certainly not anything that could be construed in any way to be humorous, I want to share a little story to indicate to the member opposite that even reasons beyond health problems can sometimes lead to the necessity to deal with this situation.
I recall when I was about eight or nine years old that I was sitting watching television with a pair of scissors in my hand, snipping away at this somewhat substantial mop that I have been blessed with. After an hour or two of watching the television I went upstairs to hear my mother scream, “Steven, what have you done?” I looked in the mirror and I was virtually bald, except for a little tuft on the top of my head. I spent the next several weeks wearing a toque to school, feeling like a fool and being awfully embarrassed.
The point is that I experienced the embarrassment from peers who put a lot of pressure on because of some kind of silly act that I have never been able to understand why I did. My career in the industry of cutting hair ceased right at that moment; I did not get an opportunity to follow that up.
On a serious note, I am prepared to support the member’s resolution. I believe it is a resolution that deals primarily, as the member for Markham said, with human dignity. I am sure we all have experienced either friends, acquaintances or even in many tragic cases loved ones who have had to go through chemotherapy, who have had an automobile accident or who have experienced some difficulties of this nature. We should support something that would allow a human being, whether a young person or not, to go back into the world with some dignity.
I can understand the ministry’s concerns about priorities. I am sure the member knows that the Ministry of Health is under tremendous pressure from very many different avenues to establish priorities to resolve people’s concerns, and I can understand that. I cannot see this as being a burden that would strain the ministry’s budget to the point that it would cause serious problems. Anything we can do within a reasonable way financially that would allow someone to go back into society, whether it is to school, sports, recreation, cultural activities, or whatever it might be, is something we should support.
We have to examine the priorities. As I said, I understand the ministry’s concerns about priorities, but this is one that we should be able to fit into the overall prioritization of the concerns of our citizens. We should try to understand peer pressure. It is particularly strong with young people because, while we recognize the value of young people as a resource, we also know they can be brutally frank and honest in their assessments and their reactions to someone.
Something that happens to young persons at that particular age -- witness my own experience from eight years old that I have never forgotten: I have never cut my hair since -- can stay with them for their entire lives. I think it is important that we attempt to give them an opportunity to regain their dignity and to continue on with their activities.
I am delighted to have had an opportunity to speak in support of the member’s resolution. I congratulate him as being someone I know who is very dedicated and committed to this cause. I am delighted to support him.
Mr Allen: I am likewise delighted to rise and support the motion that the member has put before us. In the course of being a critic for the disabled and in some other capacities in this House, I have had concerns about the whole assistive devices program and the prosthetic needs of people with a variety of needs, some quite extreme, others quite modest.
I am sensitive that the government has had some difficulty over the years, whether the past government or this one, in meeting all the budgetary requirements that the assistive devices demands place upon it. Including all age groups, all those who need those supports, has obviously been a difficult task. Otherwise, I presume they would have all been financed long ago.
I have continued to press for coverages that do not now exist; for example, those who still must pay the 25 per cent cost with respect to securing the assistive devices program support for a wheelchair. That is a big cost. It is an item that most people who need wheelchairs can obviously ill afford. By the same token, there are other realms of disability that touch into the psychological, the question of human dignity that all members have touched upon.
I have two sons who have good heads of hair. They have just come out of their teens, and I have been quite interested in the things they try to do with their hair. Anybody who looks at young people has to realize that hair is a tremendously significant aspect of their lives. They even came home once, when they were away at university, and got themselves all dolled up like punks and walked in downtown Hamilton. I just about ran away and hid in the garage somewhere, waiting for the responses. But it was obviously important to them to experiment in that way and to put themselves forward in a new fashion.
One can only imagine, when one cannot do that, when one is restricted in one’s capacity to respond to the demands to be oneself with one’s peers, what that can mean to a young person. The member for Hastings-Peterborough has brought before us a very important resolution, one that we very easily overlook as being somehow small, trivial, when it is critically important.
I likewise have had adult friends who have undergone chemotherapy and for whom the whole question of hair loss was a very traumatic experience. If they had not had the capacity to afford hairpieces easily that put them out into the world again with a sense of themselves and some confidence, that whole experience of chemotherapy would have been a much more severe experience than was the case.
I rise with respect to the member and to those who have risen to support this motion and hope that all those in the House will give it their support. It merits the attention we have given it. I am delighted that the member has seen fit to bring it forward.
Mr Pollock: I want to thank all members who spoke on this particular resolution. I can appreciate the member for Ottawa East and his concerns in keeping a handle on the public purse and also the concerns of the member for Halton North (Mr Elliot) and the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston).
I have sat on committee with the member for Scarborough Centre (Miss Nicholas). I know her concerns about people. She is an individual who wants to help her constituents. Special thanks go to my colleagues the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) and also the member for Markham (Mr Cousens), who has far more experience in dealing with people than I have. I appreciated his remarks. I have known the member for Markham for quite some time and he is a very caring individual.
I just want to make a few comments on the fact that they claim there are two million people in the United States who suffer from this condition, and you can usually divide that figure by 10. That means there are 200,000 people in Canada who suffer from varying conditions of alopecia areata, so it is a major concern.
One level that we have not even reached that they have reached in the United States is the fact that we do not even allow a charitable donation receipt for making a donation to alopecia areata. That to me is a little ridiculous in a way, because they are not doing it for the fun of it; they are concerned when they make a donation to one of these associations. I think that should be cleared up right quickly. I guess that might not be only the responsibility of the Minister of Health. Both the federal and provincial ministries would have to be involved in that particular case.
The age of 18 was continually mentioned. It is in there, but then I referred to students too, so it could go on beyond students. It was trying to take in people who did not have an income of their own. That is why I put that in there and those are my concerns.
INTER VENOR FUNDING PROJECT AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 SUR LE PROJET D’AIDE FINANCIERE AUX INTERVENANTS
Mr Chiarelli moved second reading of Bill 85, An Act to amend the Intervenor Funding Project Act, 1988.
M. Chiarelli propose la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 85, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1988 sur le projet d’aide financière aux intervenants.
The Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has up to 10 minutes to make his presentation.
Mr Chiarelli: Last year at this time this House passed the Intervenor Funding Project Act, 1988, which provides that certain broadly based public interest groups could apply to become interveners and receive intervener funding in important matters before the Ontario Energy Board and the Environmental Assessment Board.
The substance of my amendment is to extend coverage of this particular act to include the Ontario Municipal Board and to refine a particular definition in the act to make it clear that municipalities will be included as funding proponents so that funding orders might be made against particular municipalities.
When this particular act, the Intervenor Funding Project Act, was debated at third reading last year, it received all-party support. All parties spoke in favour of it and in fact voted for it. I think it is important that we look at the rationale of this all-party support and I think it can best be summed up in a quote from a speech of the Attorney General (Mr Scott) when he introduced this particular legislation.
In the words of the Attorney General: “Public access to government generally, and participation in judicial proceedings specifically, has been a major policy objective. Those with legitimate issues to articulate in the public interest before certain tribunals should be able to do so regardless of income.”
The Intervenor Funding Project Act is a progressive piece of legislation. As I said, it received all-party support. It acknowledges that public interest groups have a role to play and should receive public funding in appropriate cases. But this particular act does not go far enough. If we look at the Ontario Municipal Board, we will see that it regularly deals with very important issues that affect the quality of life of the citizens of Ontario and with very important environmental issues as well.
The Ontario Municipal Board is a quasi-judicial body that makes its decisions based on very technical expert evidence and witnesses, usually introduced and adduced by expert legal counsel. Typically, we have three players in Ontario Municipal Board hearings on a major issue. We will have a municipality or several municipalities; we will have a private interest such as a corporation or developer, and the third component will be an umbrella group representing citizens, the public or the taxpayers.
At the present time we see municipalities with adequate budgets, technical in-house expertise and expert planners. They have the facilities to go out and hire consultants. We have the private interest that has an income stream; even if it loses in its application to the Ontario Municipal Board, its expenses are tax-deductible.
On the other hand, when we look at the citizens’ groups and the public participation, there is no income stream and no tax deductibility. They are not on a level playing field. Due to the fact that we acknowledge in this Legislature that the public advocacy role is an important role, I think it is important that we put that particular segment in major hearings before the Ontario Municipal Board on a level playing field. We can do this with my amendment.
While we all agree in this House that there is new respect for citizen advocacy, particularly in areas of quality of life and environmental concerns, there are still those who fear citizen participation as being frivolous, vexatious or not-in-my-backyard-related. While that may or may not exist today, that particular dynamic cannot exist under the lntervenor Funding Project Act and cannot exist with my amendment if it is approved before the Ontario Municipal Board.
I would like to refer to section 7 of the existing act which indicates: “lntervenor funding may be awarded only in relation to issues which, in the opinion of the funding panel, affect a significant segment of the public and which, in the opinion of the funding panel, affect the public interest and not just private interests.” So we are not going to see local neighbourhood issues, severance issues and minor variances being eligible for intervener funding under this proposed amendment.
Furthermore: “In deciding whether to award intervenor funding to an intervenor, the funding panel shall consider whether: the intervenor represents a clearly ascertainable interest that should be represented at the hearing; separate and adequate representation of the interest would assist the board and contribute substantially to the hearing; the intervenor does not have sufficient financial resources to enable it to adequately represent the interest; the intervenor has made reasonable efforts to raise funding from other sources; the intervenor has an established record of concern for and commitment to the interest; the intervenor has attempted to bring related interests of which it was aware into an umbrella group to represent the related interests at the hearing.” So we see that the act itself provides that we are not going to see frivolous, vexatious or NIMBY-related hearings receive funding for hearings before the Ontario Municipal Board.
Now I would like to refer to an example in the Ottawa-Carleton area. I am sure that if we look at across the province, we will find municipalities example after example, but the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Transport Commission at the present time is proposing a $500-million to $1-billion bus tunnel through the downtown core of Ottawa. There is a broad sector of community groups that are very interested in this proposal, that have some concerns and that want to be involved in a very meaningful way.
This is the type of issue that should be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board and for which an umbrella group should be able to receive intervener funding, so that when it comes time to make representations before the Ontario Municipal Board, the group will have access to expert legal counsel and analysis of the facts and will be able to be put on a level playing field. It would show respect for the public and respect for the taxpayer in these very important matters.
In conclusion, I would like to say that if we accept the important role that citizens play in the quality of life and environmental issues today, the Ontario Municipal Board must be included in the Intervenor Funding Project Act. I feel that this House could do no less in acknowledging the role of public advocacy today in Ontario.
Mr Charlton: It is a great privilege to rise and say right at the outset that I will be supporting Bill 85, and my sincerest congratulations to the member for Ottawa West for bringing this matter forward. I do not want any of the comments that I make during this debate to be construed as reflecting on the member for Ottawa West, because most of my comments will be directed at the government, as opposed to those of the private member who has chosen to bring this matter forward. Again, I congratulate him for having done so.
The amendment is an extremely important one for two reasons, one which I did not even hear the member for Ottawa West mention in his opening remarks. The first important reason is that, as we move through a growing era of public concern and public participation in our regulatory processes, we have to begin to understand that, as government and as representatives of the people, we have a responsibility to fund the mechanisms that allow us to ascertain, to the best of our ability, what the real public desire and need is in any circumstance.
For example, not only do I support this amendment to include the Ontario Energy Board in this piece of legislation, but the reality is that ultimately, under the conditions that are set out in section 7 of this act, any public regulatory hearing process should be subject to intervener funding when the intervention is an appropriate one in the public interest. That should include hearings under the Liquor Licence Act or any other piece of legislation that may impose on a community something that that community may not want to have in its proposed form or at all.
The second important aspect of this amendment that has been moved by the member for Ottawa West is the change he has made to the definition of “proponent.” I think it is also a very major and significant change. As the act now reads, the section defining “proponent” refers to “a major financial beneficiary of the decision of the board.”
The member for Ottawa West has removed that word “financial” and “a major beneficiary of the decision of the board,” which in fact makes that definition of “proponent” a much broader one and covers a lot of things that “financial” certainly does not touch, things that can be extremely important to the larger general public and to specific parts of the communities that may be affected by proposals from a proponent that may not have a major financial gain to make as a result of a proposal. For example, the existence of some kind of waste storage facility by a proponent may not represent a huge financial gain, but it certainly may represent a serious concern to a community.
Again, I applaud the member for Ottawa West for coming forward with this amendment, but I have some serious concern about the fact that we need to be here at all debating this amendment today, and that is where my comments will focus on the government. We passed this piece of legislation in Bill 174, creating this intervener funding pilot project legislation, last December. During the course of the debate on Bill 174 and in committee of the whole House on 14 December last year, exactly a year ago today, my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs Grier) moved precisely the amendment that we have before us here today.
“Mrs Grier moves that section 1 be amended as follows: That the definition of ‘board’ be amended by striking out the words, ‘or the Environmental Assessment Board,’ and by inserting in lieu thereof the words, ‘the Environmental Assessment Board, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board or the Ontario Municipal Board.’”
Members will notice that my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore had included another board in that amendment as well. That second part of the amendment which she moved would not be necessary today because of the government’s need to have withdrawn its legislation around the insurance board. However, the amendment was moved.
My colleague in the debate went through very many of the same comments that were made here today by the member for Ottawa West in dealing with some of the expressed concerns about including the Ontario Municipal Board in this legislation, the concerns around frivolous interventions. I quote from her comments last year:
“There is, I am sure, the fear on the part of the government that if you include the Ontario Municipal Board, everybody who has an objection to his neighbour’s garage or a committee of adjustment decision is going to be seeking Intervener funding to appear before the Ontario Municipal Board. Obviously, if you look at the process included in this bill, the funding panel has the right to determine whether or not intervener funding is justified. I think it is highly unlikely that a citizen with a very direct private interest in an issue, such as an objection to a neighbour’s expansion or a committee of adjustment decision, is going to qualify for intervener funding under the criteria that are set out so explicitly under section 7 of the bill that is before us today.”
All of the things that we are talking about here today were talked about in precisely the same form one year ago today. It is the government’s response at that time that I would like to take just a few minutes to deal with, because it is the government’s response at that time that concerns me about having to deal with this here today and to wonder where the member for Ottawa West’s bill will end up, assuming that it is going to pass today.
The parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General essentially handled this bill in the House last December -- that is, the member for Mississauga North, now the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) -- and what we heard from him as the government’s rationale for not supporting this amendment last fall is what I would like to focus on:
“We cannot support this amendment, but we would like to indicate that the use of legal aid rates under this legislation is a minimum...” -- I am sorry. This is not the correct quote. Here we are. The parliamentary assistant had a habit of using those words frequently on that afternoon, hence my confusion. “First, let me indicate that we cannot support the amendment put forward by the honourable member.... However, I would like to indicate that I think one of the concerns the member has issued is: ‘You have this one person making a decision. What recourse is there in the event that the decision is, in terms of the intervener funding, somewhat negative?’”
The kinds of arguments that were used against the amendments last year were technical arguments that again, if you look at section 7 and the criteria under which intervener funding would be allowed, were irrelevant to that debate. The member for Ottawa West has made that point clearly today. The kind of technical and to some extent emotional concerns about frivolous interventions getting funded with public dollars do not exist.
Another point that was made by the parliamentary assistant at the time had to deal with: “Very briefly, the current legislation might cause some technical problem since it states that ‘a board shall not commence a hearing....’ Depending on the nature of proceeding, a hearing may have already been technically commenced when a determination of intervener status has been made.”
The parliamentary assistant goes on to talk about this question of intervener funding and the fears, again, of what may happen in the course of that. He said: “To begin, ‘The principal purpose of the bill,’ as very clearly indicated in the explanatory note, ‘is to establish a three-year pilot project to provide intervener funding, bona fide public interest interveners at hearings before joint boards under the Consolidated Hearings Act, 1981, the Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act.”’
As the last rationale which the government used against the amendment of the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore -- the rationale that this was a pilot project which was intended to focus on intervener funding in three specific areas, areas which also overlap with the Ontario Municipal Board in the hearing process and even in consolidated hearings, as we are all well aware -- if it was really a pilot project to identify how this kind of intervener funding operation under this legislation would operate, then the pilot project should have been as broad, within the definitions of what was acceptable or what was a real public interest, as is possible. If we want to know at the end of a pilot project how intervener funding works in a number of circumstances and how it should be applied in a number of circumstances, we have to attempt all the ways that we can of applying that principle.
As I have said, the three pieces of legislation at the parliamentary assistant referred to, the Consolidated Hearings Act, 1981, the Environmental Assessment Act and the Ontario Energy Board Act, are all three of the acts that get lumped under the Consolidated Hearings Act. So too is the Ontario Municipal Board Act, and to exclude it in a pilot project to see how intervener funding in that sector is going to work makes absolutely no sense and avoids the very points that have been raised by the member for Ottawa West.
I am going to wrap up my comments by saying that I support Bill 85. I know my colleague from Etobicoke-Lakeshore will support it as well. I again applaud the member for Ottawa West for bringing this forward, and I have a sneaking suspicion that although the government lined its members up to defeat this amendment just a year ago today, this private member’s bill will pass here today.
Again, I am not making cynical comment about the member for Ottawa West but about the government process here. I have serious concern about where Bill 85 will get lost after today, because I am almost sure that it will not be allowed to become part of the legislation that it is intended to amend, legislation that we passed last December setting out intervener funding pilot projects over a three-year period.
I would urge all members to support the bill and I would urge members of the government party to bring to bear some pressure on their colleagues in the cabinet to allow this bill to proceed.
Mr Cousens: It is interesting that when the House comes to private members’ hour, we have a chance to do what we want without too much control by the whips and by caucus and can then act according to our own conscience.
I guess that is what really happened to the member for Ottawa West. What I see here is an example of a Liberal who is thinking for himself and who really did not realize that his own Liberal caucus had voted down a number of amendments that would have accommodated the very bill he has tabled for us today.
It could be a number of things that have caused this to happen. First, when last year the Liberal caucus voted down amendments that would have made this happen, he was not around or realized it was going on. It could have been that the whip came along and said: “Member for Ottawa West, you have to toe the line. We have to put on a solid form of appearance that we’re all working together.” It could have been that he listened to him that day.
It is also a fact that, since that time, maybe this member has had a chance to rethink what it is he should be doing that is the right thing to do for the province of Ontario and, therefore, in his own good conscience, has come forward and said: “I don’t care what the caucus whip says to do. I’m going to do what I believe in myself.”
What he has done is go back and relook at it and come forward with a number of recommendations which I am going to support. I think it is also an indication that we are in a position here in this House to do what we believe to be right.
I would like to temper my remarks with a number of controlling statements that qualify my support. It is unfortunate that we are not coming forward with significant changes to the Planning Act or significant changes to how people can get before the Ontario Municipal Board. Tremendous power resides under the Planning Act and within the hands of those members who are on the municipal board. I would like to say that I have respected very highly the people who have been placed on the municipal board in my experience during the eight and a half years that I have been a member of the Legislature.
It is quite amazing that a group of people have to interpret all the different cases that come before them with the support of developers and town councils and all kinds of groups, yet they are able to sift it through, listen to all sides and then come forward with a decision. I do not always agree with their decision but I have a sense in myself that the Ontario Municipal Board works in Ontario.
I guess I worry, though, that many cases end up going to the Ontario Municipal Board that are frivolous, take an awful lot of time and cause a tremendous amount of investment by developers of varying sizes to be tied up. It could be the developer of a small plaza on a corner or it could be someone who is just putting up three or four houses or it could be a 600-acre subdivision. It is unfortunate that there is no way of sifting and sorting those through so that some of the eases that come before the board that really are not important are set aside.
Unfortunately now, everything goes through and there can be an awful lot of time tied up. Time is money and the time that is tied up within the Ontario Municipal Board on some of these cases can be a very extravagant cost and pushes up the price of property and development.
I think that we in our province have to make sure there is always a balance between those people who have a genuine case of concern and out of conviction want to fight it and also a case for those who want to do development. It is striking that balance that we have trouble doing within the province.
We will see a development, such as the Langstaff jail farm site, over 600 acres in Richmond Hill, property that was sold by Metropolitan Toronto to the town of Richmond Hill, and members know the kind of time it takes to process the official plan amendments and the situations around that, and appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board take almost as long as some very, very small parcels of land that have to be considered. So we are out of whack on what is getting all the attention. On the other hand, one will have another 600-acre subdivision that gets very speedy approval and the public really did not know that it was going on.
To me, there is a responsibility in a number of areas. I would like to see the Municipal Act, the Planning Act and the guidelines of the Ontario Municipal Board changed to somehow make it easier to have the big cases get more attention and the little cases, if there are concerns that people have, take less attention and speed up the process. I say that out of a sense that we are all losing if we spend too long having things just go through the system. The red tape now is horrendous for people who want to develop land and make things happen in the province.
Another thing I would like to see changed under the Planning Act would be that when the province owns land, the province should be forced to go through the whole planning process as does any other developer. As it stands right now, the province is exempted from that and I think that is wrong. I am really quite worried about what will happen in my riding in the town of Markham when the province may come along and have plans for its thousands of acres in the east end of town and could do what it wants with that land and we, as a community, will have very little power to do anything about it.
It goes back to what rights an individual has to fight for what he or she believes in. The fact that the small person -- I call it a small person; it could be any height, any size and any shape -- does not have a lot of money makes that person smaller in his or her own mind compared to the power that exists for those that are the developing firms that have lawyers and professional staff to assist them with their cases. So if there is a group of people concerned about a project, how do they represent those views before the Ontario Municipal Board?
First of all, I think there is an intimidated sense that they might feel that they cannot stand up with the big guys and make their case. That is unfortunate. What this amendment to the intervener funding would do for them is that when they get together and they have a consortium and they have a case that is legitimate in their own minds and it is presented for funding, they might have their case paid for as it is presented before the Ontario Municipal Board. That will help strike a balance for all of us in our society. We have to always be willing to listen to whoever it is who has something to say.
Last night I felt that my rights in this Legislature were violated when, in fact, the First Deputy Chair would not acknowledge that I wanted to speak. I felt that my rights had been very seriously taken away by virtue of the fact that I wanted to stand up and speak and he would not even look this way. I have asked the Speaker of the House to look into this and I know the Speaker will be reporting back.
I have to tell the members there are small people around in Ontario who feel they are not heard. They have no recourse to have someone give them an audience. There is no way in which their view can be represented. There is no way that they can feel their sense has been considered among all the other views that have been considered.
So what we have before us today is an amendment -- not a big amendment; in fact it does not take an awful lot of words to make a significant change. What we are going to do now is provide equal resources to intervener groups that would greatly enhance the quality of the hearings by giving these interveners the opportunity to raise and canvass important issues that otherwise might not have emerged.
In the past, this Liberal government has given intervener assistance on an ad hoc basis. Recent examples include the liquefied natural gas inquiry before the Ontario Energy Board, the Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning in Ontario, the environment assessment hearings of the Ontario Waste Management Corp, the timber management plans, the waste management master plan of Halton region. There are examples where intervener funding has been made available and where in fact it gave people a chance to make their case known.
What we are saying now is that whoever is able to come together with a group of people and have a case they want to present -- not just frivolous cases that are going to have delaying tactics, but instances where they have a sense of the community; where there is a ratepayers group; here someone who does not have the presence and the financial stability and the financial backing will be able to do that.
I believe the amendment that is being presented by this motion by my friend the member for Ottawa West will now give to nonrepresentative groups the ability to be able to speak up and make their statement before the Ontario Municipal Board.
I really become concerned at spending money. I do not spend it that much at home and I feel the same way when we are in the province of Ontario. We have to be frugal, we have to run a tight ship. It is to the credit of the member for Ottawa West that he is not asking for money out of the public purse. That is quite unusual for a Liberal, because all that most of those guys can ever do is spend the public’s money. They are doing it all over the place. They just throw it away.
None the less, here is one good Liberal coming forward with a way in which the funding for intervener status, if it is approved in this amendment, would be paid by the proponent; that is, by a group, a developer or a municipality or otherwise that would be a major beneficiary of a decision by the Ontario Municipal Board. Thus, the proposed legislation does not call for expenditure of public funds.
I recently had to make a decision on the standing committee on the Ombudsman not to support the extension and expansion of the Ombudsman because it was going to cost more money. I think we have to somehow put the lid on spending in the province of Ontario. Every one of us has to look for ways to cut costs. If we want improvements and we want changes, and we do, we have to do it within our means. We are spending ourselves out of business. We are going to lose our competitive status in the whole world if we do not somehow keep our costs under control here in the province. The member for Ottawa West has done that within his motion. He has said the costs of this will be paid for by the beneficiaries who would be involved in any kind of intervenership.
There are a number of things I could say in addition to this. I know that one other honourable member wants to speak to this motion. In that case I will just make a few other points, because as we wind down this debate there is not an awful lot of time for the other member. I understood that one of the members has now indicated that he would rather I just closed it off.
What I have to do is just go back to the whole sense of what an intervener is. An intervener is a person who wants to make a statement, a statement that represents another view from that which is being presented. All I would like to do is make sure that everybody who knows that we live in a democratic state here in the province of Ontario takes advantage of that right, takes advantage of standing up and going before an Ontario Municipal Board and letting that case be heard.
Several years ago I took the position of an intervener before the Ontario Energy Board hearings. Tremendous power resides in those people who are willing to stand up and make their views known. These boards are pleased when the public participates; I am pleased. We have that right in this country. They do not have it yet in eastern Europe. They might be getting it shortly as they open up and democratize. We might see it in East Germany and Czechoslovakia. We have those rights now, so let’s take advantage of them. Let’s value them, let’s covet them and let’s support the people who want to make those statements that they should be making.
Let’s make sure that if it requires professional assistance in the form of professional lawyers, legal expertise and accounting expertise in order to make that case that they are able to put it together. That will happen with this kind of recommendation by the member from Ottawa West. We have a responsibility to fight for democratic rights. We have a responsibility to give those rights to the people of our province and to make sure that they are fulfilled. This small amendment will help that happen on cases that are heard before the Ontario Municipal Board.
I do not know how every other member is going to vote in this House. I personally will be supporting the motion in the sense that now it is another small step further. I only wish that the member had come back and looked at some of the other broader issues, because if you want to intervene right now there is not enough being done in this province on environmental matters. We do not have a case to be proud about.
One can cut down any tree one wants in the province. We do not have any protection for trees in this province. They do in Britain, they do in other countries, but we have to have a sense of protecting the environment all around. Some people laugh when I say that, but I happen to be one who has really become far more committed to environmental concerns and there is nothing of the environment in the Ontario Municipal Board or under the Planning Act that is giving importance to environmental matters.
Maybe -- maybe -- by supporting this bill, those people who have a genuine commitment to the environment will have a protector to stand up with them to make their case before the Ontario Municipal Board. If that goes one small step further to protect the Rouge Valley system or to protect our trees and our natural environment, then we will have made another step forward.
I will support this amendment and thank the member for Ottawa West who gave us a chance to participate in this debate.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): I would like to thank the honourable member for Markham for participating in the private member’s resolution by the member for Ottawa West, Bill 85, An Act to amend the Intervenor Funding Project Act, 1988. Continuing on in the debate.
Mr J. B. Nixon: I rise to speak in favour of Bill 85, An Act to amend the lntervenor Funding Project Act, 1988, as it is brought by the member for Ottawa West.
Prior to getting into a discussion about the specific proposals made in the bill, I want to suggest to the members that this bill is about something that we all care very much about; it is about democracy and, more specifically. the right of the citizenry to be heard on public interest matters which affect a significant segment of the public. That wording did not come to me loosely; it comes directly from the original act. It is about the right of the citizenry to be heard on public interest matters which affect a significant segment of the public.
The debate of that issue and the debate of democracy within the context of cities, I suggest, is an old debate. It is a continuing debate, but it started over 2,000 years ago when Plato was writing about the nature of cities and about cities being created when humans came together in a group to fulfil the needs they had because they could not do them on their own; they could not do them because they were not self-sufficient.
He wrote a book called The Republic and he spent many, many pages and long chapters debating the types of cities and leaders in those cities; which were best and which were worst for mankind. He talked about aristocracies, oligarchies, tyrannies and democracies. He came to the conclusion, none the less, that whenever one group takes over in a city, whenever one element takes over in a city -- and I use city in the broadest context, that of a community -- evil has entered the city and the goodness in the leaders and the goodness in the population is pushed out. He suggested as a counterbalance that the ally of the citizenry is the law. What we are dealing with here today is the law and how the citizenry, the community and the city can use it to ensure that they have a good city and a good community.
Plato went on for, as I said, many, many books and hundreds of pages discussing these issues. By 1840, there was a gentleman named Alexis de Tocqueville from France, who travelled the growing democracies in the United States. He believed that these truths were self-evident; they did not need debate. He stated quite clearly, “A nation may establish a system of free government, but without the spirit of municipal institutions, it cannot have the spirit of liberty.” This bill speaks to the spirit of liberty in municipal institutions which radiates outward through to the entire community.
None the less, today the cities and communities we deal with are much more complex and much more sophisticated than they were either in Plato’s time or in de Tocqueville’s time. They are bigger, they are more complex and some indeed may say that some of our cities are world-class. I abide by that, but world-class cities often have serious problems. The serious problems that the members know of and which we all know of are debated in this Legislature. They include traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, adequate infrastructure, increased pollution, crime and stress, loss of agricultural land and loss of open space, destruction of established neighbourhoods, inadequate access to social services and strained municipal budgets. We debate those issues. We know those issues exist today. The citizenry knows those issues exist today. The media know those issues exist today.
None the less, I would suggest that not all of the citizenry has an opportunity to express its views on these issues. Those problems I alluded to, the traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing and so on, are symptoms of a larger problem. In today’s cities, there is a new citizenry. In de Tocqueville’s time and Plato’s time the citizenry was the people. Today, we have a legal system which grants personal status to inhuman bodies -- corporations. We have corporations today which participate in public planning decisions. They are not elected. They cannot elect people. None the less, and rightly so, we rely on them to produce goods and services for us and their representatives participate in the planning process.
My question is: Who else should participate in the planning process? Others do: elected representatives at the municipal level. On some occasions individuals participate. On some occasions interest groups participate. On some occasions community representatives participate and on some occasions the representatives of the corporations participate.
I can look only at my own riding and ask how many of those people would like to participate in planning decisions. I can tell members about the Muirhead family, which farmed in the Don Valley region for 150 years, still resides in the community and has views on that community and its growth. I can tell members about the North York Concerned Citizens for Civic Affairs, which has strong views on the development of the Don Mills community, the North York neighbourhood centre. I can tell members about the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, which has strong views on the use of our wetlands, our ravines and how suburban development should or should not encroach upon those provincial treasures. All of those people, individuals and groups and communities, have views on how their community should be developed.
On the other hand, posed against that proposition that their views should be heard, we say, “We are all elected representatives. We are all elected to municipal or provincial or federal legislatures to express the views of our constituents.” Yet we all know we cannot make all decisions for all people, and we do not. We cannot represent all views of all of our communities at all times on all matters, and we do not. I suggest that there have to be other forums for expression of those views, for a hearing of those interests.
None the less, with respect to this bill, I hope I can speak for many members, if not all members, of this Legislature. The bill, as members know, is to specifically include the Ontario Municipal Board as one of the designated boards for which intervener funding would be available to individuals or groups on certain conditions.
With respect to the member for Ottawa West, it is not a new view. It has been debated in the Legislature. I understand the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore moved an amendment to a previous piece of legislation requiring that the Ontario Municipal Board be added to the definition of the board of intervener funding projects. It was supported by the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) who talked about the need for the Ontario Municipal Board to qualify equally with the Environmental Assessment Board as a designated board for the purpose of intervener funding.
I would like to touch briefly upon the mandate and scope of the Ontario Municipal Board and what it does. It has a broad mandate. There are 80 public acts which give it jurisdiction. There are 100 private municipal acts which give it jurisdiction. Currently, it has the authority to award costs, but the cost awards power of the municipal board is very restricted. Cost awards are in the discretion of the board. The board may order; it does not promise to order. It may order that costs be paid and on certain scales. In other words, all the costs do not get paid. Certain costs get paid at the discretion of the board.
Keep in mind that of all of these matters that appear before the Ontario Municipal Board, a small minority -- less than one quarter of the matters that appear before the municipal board -- deals with zoning bylaws, with official plans or official plan amendments, or with plans of subdivision. I believe that is what this bill focuses upon: those significant planning matters which affect a broad community interest on which the citizenry has a right to be heard as it is a matter of public interest, a matter that affects a significant segment of our political reality of our community.
There are lots of people, members should know, who have suggested that this amendment to the original intervener funding bill proceed. The Canadian Environmental Law Association spoke out strongly in favour of this amendment. It proposed. among other things, that it will bring a balance to the discourse before the Ontario Municipal Board. Do not forget -- at present, community groups or interest groups that appear before the municipal board fund themselves on the basis of after-tax dollars. Corporations that appear fund themselves with pre-tax dollars. Municipalities that appear fund themselves with the taxpayers’ dollars. Every ratepayer contributes to the municipality’s appearance before the municipal board. So already, anyone who wants to appear before the board who is not a corporation or a municipality has not only a financial disadvantage, but a tax disadvantage.
The member for Ottawa West is proposing not that this funding come from the public purse but that this funding come from the proponents so that there is a full discussion on public interest matters before the board. The Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, which has fought so long and so hard in our community for the preservation of the fruit lands and the vineyards in the Niagara region, supports the member’s amendment. The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario supports the member’s bill. They believe, and I think rightly so, that community groups are not equal on financial grounds to major land owners, developers or municipalities when they appear before the OMB.
The Ontario Waste Management Corp has had some experience with intervener funding. It says that one of the advantages of intervener funding is that it brings a better focus on key issues. It fosters a consultative process, rather than an adversarial one. Indeed, the American experience with intervener funding is that it actually reduces the time before the joint boards or the specific boards because people are constrained to make their best case, rather than to try to delay the process.
I suggest there is a lot of experience with intervener funding in other jurisdictions from which we can learn and perhaps use to modify this bill in committee. Many people have concerns about the bill. AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, as I understand it, has not taken a position. It has concerns about who would be entitled to appear or who would be entitled to have funds. The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore pointed out that any type of intervener funding made available to proponents or opponents before the municipal board should not be for committee of adjustment variances or minor bylaw adjustments. That is not the purpose.
The Canadian Environmental Law Association made its views quite known. It says:
“It may be argued that adding the OMB may prove to be too unwieldy in light of the numerous minor cases brought before the board. However, it should be pointed out that under section 7 of the act, a funding panel has discretion to refuse the award of intervener funding where issues to be raised do not affect a significant segment of the public and do not affect the public interest as opposed to private interests.”
Section 7 of the existing legislation may need to be expanded in committee discussions. However, it sets out under subsection 7(2) clear restrictions on the entitlement to intervener funding. The interveners must have a clearly ascertainable interest. They must need separate and adequate representation that would assist the board. They must prove they do not have sufficient financial resources. They must make reasonable efforts to raise funding from other places. They must have an established record of concern before they ask for intervener funding. They must prove they have attempted to bring all related interest groups together in an umbrella group, so that we are not funding every little group that comes along. They must have a clear proposal as to how they will use these moneys.
Those restrictions, I submit, are sufficient to assuage the concerns of those who might be concerned that this could run amok. It will not run amok. This bill is simply about the right of the citizenry to be heard on public interest matters, not private interest matters, which affect a significant segment of our population, of our political reality, of our cities, of our communities.
These are issues about which we are all concerned. Because of the nature of an elected representative democracy, we cannot all usurp on to ourselves the exclusive right to speak on issues on which there are legitimate views to be heard, to be spoken, before the appropriate tribunal which is making decisions of a very long term nature.
The Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time has expired. I believe the member for Ottawa West has up to two minutes to respond.
Mr Chiarelli: First, I want to thank my colleague the member for York Mills (Mr J. B. Nixon) on the government side, the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr Charlton) for the official opposition, and the member for Markham for the third party for supporting my amendment to this particular legislation.
I want to refer very briefly to a couple of comments that were made in debate here today. First, the member for Hamilton Mountain emphasized -- I think it is important to emphasize, because a number of my colleagues have raised this point -- that my proposed amendment could be used in a frivolous or vexatious manner.
The act itself, the Intervenor Funding Project Act, has provisions which will prevent any intervener group from being frivolous because under section 7 it defines the issues as those which, in the opinion of the funding panel, affect a significant segment of the public and which, in the opinion of the panel, affect the public interest and not just private interest. Subsection 7(2) has very strict qualification requirements for intervener funding groups.
The member for Markham mentioned the fact that frequently there are matters before the Ontario Municipal Board which delay progress and the time costs various groups or individuals a lot of money. The member for York Mills has mentioned that, in cases where there are properly funded intervener groups, the time period before boards is in fact expedited, because what you then have are participants in the process with access to proper expert advice and legal counsel. They participate in creating solutions rather than being part of the not-in-my-backyard phenomenon which some people think public advocacy is.
It is not part of the NIMBY phenomenon; they are, in fact, part of creating a solution. So I would say to the members, let us have confidence in the people, the public, who elected us.
PROSTHETIC HAIR REPLACEMENTS
The Speaker: Mr Pollock has moved resolution 36.
Motion agreed to.
INTERVENOR FUNDING PROJECT AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
The Speaker: Mr Chiarelli has moved second reading of Bill 85.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
Mr Charlton: Are we not going to have this bill referred to the standing committee on administration of justice?
The Speaker: As the members know, the standing order states very clearly that when a private member’s bill is passed it automatically goes to committee of the whole House, unless a majority of the House wishes otherwise. However, I believe the tradition of this House is that the request usually comes from the presenter of the motion.
Mr Chiarelli: I would so move, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Mr Chiarelli moves that Bill 85 be referred to the standing committee on administration of justice.
The House divided on Mr Chiarelli’s motion, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 14; nays 19.
The House recessed at 1203.
The House resumed at 1330.
Hon Mr Elston: I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by his own hand.
The Speaker: The Lieutenant Governor transmits supplementary estimates of certain additional sums required for the services of the province for the year ending 31 March 1990 and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly. Signed by His Honour Lincoln Alexander.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr Laughren: A couple of weeks ago the Treasurer, Maximum Bob Tax-to-the-Max Nixon, made his announcement on transfer payments which stated that among other things the unconditional grants to municipalities would be increased by 4.8 per cent in 1990, to $914 million. This below-inflation increase follows an absolute freeze on unconditional grants in 1989 and is forcing many municipalities to either cut services or levy double-digit property tax increases.
This amount of increase in unconditional grants is actually a reduction in payments to municipalities, given the level of inflation and the rate of population growth in the province. According to Treasury figures, Ontario’s population will have increased 3.4 per cent from 1988 to 1990. In this two-year period unconditional grants to municipalities increased by a total of 4.8 per cent. This means the effective rate of increase, not including inflation, will be only 1.4 per cent, but given an increase in Ontario’s inflation rate of 11.5 per cent in the two years 1988 and 1989, the unconditional grants to municipalities have been falling behind by 10 per cent in real dollars in these past couple of years. This inadequate level of unconditional grants to municipalities has simply got to stop.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr Cousens: I met with the Honourable Benoît Bouchard, the federal Minister of Transport, and had the opportunity to advise the minister of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party’s growing fears for the future of commuter transportation services in the greater Toronto area. We are concerned that the Ontario government is failing to address a looming crisis in transportation and that a constructive dialogue must be established between all levels of government if we are to face the challenges of the 1990s and beyond.
The greater Toronto area is one of the fastest-growing urban centres in North America. Proposals for hosting the 1996 summer Olympic games, and now Expo 2000, require immediate action by all levels of government if we are to successfully accommodate these events. However, what is even more important is that we are losing sight of the need for basic transportation systems for everyday residents of the greater Toronto area, regardless of whether or not we host these international events.
In my capacity as chairman of the Progressive Conservative Task Force on Transportation in the GTA, I presented to the Minister of Transport our views on the principles for the current state of transportation in the GTA. I noted that Ontario must make commuter services a much higher priority and that doing so will require assistance and co-operation on the part of the federal government.
We discussed proposed changes to passenger service under Via Rail and I am encouraged that the federal government is prepared to work with the province in devising alternative commuter services that use rail. This province has an excellent opportunity to take advantage of these changes and, with the federal government involved, to develop commuter transportation services.
FEDERATED WOMEN’S INSTITUTES OF ONTARIO
Mr McGuigan: It is my pleasure to stand in the House today to recognize the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario. The institutes number more than 20,000 members and they have taken for themselves the task of being leaders in the efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.
The Women’s Institutes have adopted the theme “A Decade of Women and the Environment.” The decade ends in 1997, which is also the 100th anniversary of the Federated Women’s Institutes.
A few weeks ago the southwestern area women’s institutes hosted a workshop focusing on recycling and waste management. The agenda dealt with recycling, composting and reuse of household items that have been consigned to the landfill.
The members of the Women’s Institutes have taken the environmental issue seriously and to heart.
As well, the Kent area group has been actively putting pressure on the county and municipal politicians to accelerate their introduction of a county-wide recycling program, with some success I am pleased to say. I am certain also that the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) has heard, and will hear, from this group.
The women of the institute have also been involved in assisting in the education of our young people in the values of reducing the waste we produce. It is volunteers such as the women of the institutes, working with our government, who will bring the greatest success in waste reduction, not the force of government alone.
I congratulate the members of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario and I am glad they are there to help us and to push us.
ONTARIO CENTRE FOR RESOURCE MACHINERY TECHNOLOGY
Miss Martel: Several weeks ago the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology announced the closure of the Ontario Centre for Resource Machinery Technology in Sudbury. As a result, some $6 million will be freed up to be used elsewhere by this government. The question is, where will this money now go?
My colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) suggested the funds be redirected into the northern Ontario heritage fund. This was, and is, a legitimate request. However, given that only $5.3 million out of a possible $30 million was drawn out of that fund this year, perhaps the technology money would get a better bang being placed elsewhere.
Specifically, the Sudbury Board of Education has proposed that a substantial portion of this money be directed into the board’s technology programs. These include the science and technology program and the technological studies program.
With the first, moneys would be used to expand the present program and upgrade the equipment in the technical shops. In the second case, the funds would help develop this new project which attempts to foster interfacing between science and the computer. This would supplement the moneys and equipment which have already been provided Inco, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Laurentian University.
The board’s proposal is sound and would ensure that its technological programs are comparable to those provided by larger southern Ontario school boards. Rather than sloughing this $6 million back into the consolidated revenue fund, this government should commit funds to the Sudbury board’s proposal.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Villeneuve: The federal Department of Agriculture’s outlook is forecasting an eight per cent decline in farm income this year and no better performance next year. In fact, net farm income in 1990 is projected to drop by almost 40 per cent across Canada, a reduction of gigantic proportions.
One program that Ontario farmers have had up until now is one which provides some relief from high interest rates. The Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program was not available this year even though real interest rates were higher than when the program was first initiated.
The only explanation is that 1989 was not an election year. As speculation starts to build about the 1990s we hear that the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Ramsay) and one of his parliamentary assistants are again talking about interest rate relief.
Yesterday, in response to my question, the minister stated that farmers would have to wait until spring. They cannot wait until next spring. This government has already set the precedent by announcing transfer payments in the late fall so that municipalities and school boards can plan their budgets. Surely farmers must be as important, and they do need the same planning time for next season.
Let’s bring agriculture away from the back burner and put it back on the front stage where it really belongs. It is the major industry of our province. This spring’s budget will be too late. Ontario needs action; Ontario farmers need action now.
HAZARDOUS WASTE DAY
Mr Adams: The Kinsmen Club and the city of Peterborough recently organized a highly successful Hazardous Waste Day. Hundreds of people waited patiently while Kinsmen volunteers in protective clothing processed paint, oil and other household wastes which had been sitting in basements for years.
This Hazardous Waste Day was part of the city of Peterborough’s determined drive to dispose appropriately of waste which is not easy to handle. This day was one of more than 60 household hazardous waste days held by communities across Ontario.
Our society produces many products which are simply too dangerous to be left at curbside for pickup within reach of children. We need special methods and facilities for handling such waste. I was interested to see that Metro has a toxic taxi service to pick up its hazardous waste.
My sincere thanks to the Kinsmen of Peter-borough and other volunteers who are helping communities to come to grips with the serious problems of disposing of household hazardous waste.
PROPOSED HOSPITAL MERGER
Mr Reville: On several occasions in the Legislature recently, I have raised the question of the merger of Women’s College Hospital with the Toronto Hospital corporation and particularly my concerns about the undue haste with which the merger is being prosecuted and the secrecy surrounding the details of the merger.
Last night, the local board of health for the city of Toronto created an opportunity for public discussion of the merger and people came forward and shared their views with the local board of health. At the conclusion of a significant public discussion last night the local board of health for Toronto voted to oppose such a merger and further voted to request the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) to refer the entire matter to a standing committee of the Legislature for public discussion and recommendations back to the Legislature.
It may not be known to all, but the standing committee on social development does not have a whole lot to do during the recess. I cannot think of a better job for it than to allow the people of Ontario to come in and share their views about the future of Women’s College Hospital. How about it?
Mr McLean: My statement is for the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and it is about the way gasoline prices fluctuate widely around Ontario, even at Earl’s Shell Service.
I recently determined that the average price for one litre of regular unleaded gasoline in Ontario is 51.7 cents. Of that amount the dealer margin is 3.5 cents and this government collects a tax of 10.3 cents. As well, this government’s gasoline tax is scheduled to increase to 11.3 cents as of 1 January. The Treasurer’s gasoline tax increases will pump approximately $297 million into his government’s coffers over a period of one year.
The Treasurer claims he monitors gasoline prices closely, and yet he recently quoted one-year-old gasoline prices when he was questioned about this matter by one of his own backbenchers. Apparently he is not monitoring this situation as closely as he claims. As I mentioned earlier, the increased provincial gasoline tax will generate $297 million.
Just what is he using this windfall for? I think that anyone who drives on Ontario roads and highways can see quite clearly that revenue generated by gasoline tax is certainly not used to improve the quality of our road system in this province. The state of our roads affects commercial traffic, as well as the tourism and hospitality industry, which is the second-largest employer in Ontario. Our roads are the lifeline linking communities, families, businesses and services. Our roads are deteriorating at an alarming rate. Our roads are going downhill just as quickly as the Treasurer’s government.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES
Mr Tatham: Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, who could see little of what was happening, hoisted the signal to discontinue the action. Nelson gave a shrug and, addressing himself to Foley, said:
“You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.” He raised his spyglass to his right eye and announced, “I really do not see the signal.”
The Nelson eye: Last Tuesday, together with over 100 other people, I watched representatives of TGV France and ICE West Germany as they showed videos and described what they are doing and what they propose to do in their respective countries regarding high-speed trains, with running speeds up to 300 kilometres an hour and improvements in comfort for the rail passengers.
When you buy merchandise, buy in cold blood; when you sell, sell with enthusiasm. What about our population numbers? What about our snow conditions? What about our freezing rain? What about frozen ground? There are many questions to be answered, but in the meantime we do need to look after our present passenger rail service.
Let me say Nelson was successful in his decision, but he was there, he was in action, he could see what should be done. Nelson’s one good eye and sound judgement kept the railway running.
Mr McCague: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: It is my privilege to remind you of the election five years ago yesterday of the member for Ottawa East (Mr Grandmaître) and the member for Prescott and Russell (Mr Poirier) and also to remind you of the sixth anniversary of the election of the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr Villeneuve) tomorrow. They all join Cash for Life.
The Speaker: I think all members appreciated the reminder notice.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR NATIVE PEOPLE
Hon Mr Scott: The government of Ontario today formally enters what we hope will be a historic era in our relationship with the native people of the province. We are all aware that the native people of the province, like their counterparts across the country, want to derive economic benefit for themselves from the lands on which they live. They seek these economic benefits in order to improve their living conditions and reduce their dependency on government, and while so doing they properly insist that their heritage, their culture and their society be protected and strengthened.
The government of Ontario, as I have said on a number of occasions in this House, understands and is supportive of the position of aboriginal peoples that they can increase their stature, esteem and economic independence through self-government. Our government and the aboriginal peoples are continuing to struggle with constitutional issues of treaty and aboriginal rights and the constitutional entrenchment of the right of self-government.
The people of Ontario are, I believe, proud that our government supported the constitutional entrenchment of this right at the 1987 first ministers’ conference on aboriginal constitutional tights. But we know that in a federal system these constitutional issues will take a long time to resolve, perhaps too long to suit either Ontario or the aboriginal peoples.
I remind the House that when the aboriginal constitutional process failed in 1987, the Premier (Mr Peterson) promised our aboriginal fellow citizens that every effort would be made to achieve progress towards aboriginal self-government at home.
Ontario has, I believe, consistently shown since then that it is ready and willing to move forward on self-government issues, including lands, natural resources, justice, policing, education and social services.
I am pleased then to tell this House today that the Ontario government is continuing and formalizing that commitment with the adoption of a policy that will guide it in negotiating self-government with aboriginal communities all across the province. The policy is set out in the Guidelines for the Negotiation of Self-Government with Aboriginal Communities, which will be tabled today.
The guidelines reflect the emerging philosophy that has guided Ontario over the last few years in the development of a number of self-government discussions and negotiations which are already under way and they will guide us in dealing with new requests from aboriginal peoples for self-government negotiations.
I invite each member to carefully read and consider these guidelines. I strongly believe that in a decade they will be seen as a historic turning point in our relationship as a province with our aboriginal fellow citizens.
The guidelines will of course be subject to review over the next year and a half and may be changed, I promise, in consultation with aboriginal peoples in order to better reflect their assessment of their needs.
We will not limit the consultation process for self-government to the aboriginal peoples. We will invite non-native people to have a role in these undertakings in order to consider the views of all who live in Ontario.
I stress that the scope of the guidelines and the framework for the negotiations they establish is very wide. I know that we will eventually be conducting self-government negotiations from the far reaches of northern Ontario to downtown Toronto. We will negotiate with native peoples on reserves, in communities on crown land and in our urban centres.
We will also work co-operatively with the government of Canada in this process. Under our constitution, the government of Canada has a pre-eminent responsibility for aboriginal self-government and in fact the federal government is so far involved in all of our current discussions with aboriginal people.
I will not, and it would not be useful to, speculate at this time on the forms of self-government which will result from these negotiations. Many agreements will focus on land and natural resources, while the emphasis in urban centres will more likely be on native-controlled institutions to provide services to aboriginal peoples.
Many members of this Legislature will know that, under the leadership of our Premier (Mr Peterson), a number of discussions have already started: with the Indian first nations on education matters under the declaration of political intent; with the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation on lands and natural resources and legal services, and with the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association on off-reserve self-government.
We have also received proposals from many other aboriginal communities. These include the Whitefish Bay First Nation, the United Indian Councils of the Chippewas and Mississaugas, the Onegaming First Nation, the Kawartha Nishnawbe, the Kasabonika Lake First Nation, the First Nations of the Rainy Lake Tribal Area, the Mohawks at Akwesasne and the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres.
We must, however, limit the number of self-government negotiations we can initially undertake because we all must proceed cautiously in these first negotiations to ensure that we are effective and realistic in our expectations and that we can meet the commitments we make.
Those commitments, I emphasize, are to non-natives as well as native peoples. We are committed by our guidelines to public involvement. Our agreements, as aboriginal peoples agree, must be guided by principles such as environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and by our existing commitments to those who now occupy or otherwise use crown land or natural resources.
As a government, these agreements will also allow Ontario to adequately plan for the provision of services to aboriginal peoples. Additionally, they will assist Ontario in meeting its commitments under treaties and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Much hard work remains to be done, many difficult negotiations lie ahead and much remains to be resolved among Canada, Ontario, the aboriginal peoples and their organizations and communities before we sign the first self-government agreements. But I believe the course is set, the framework is now established, and the will is present to work together with our aboriginal fellow citizens to make a better and fairer Ontario for all of us, native people and non-native people alike.
In the east gallery today are some of our partners in this new venture, the grand chiefs, chiefs presidents and executive directors of the following aboriginal organizations: the Indian Commission of Ontario, of course, the Akwesasne First Nation, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Grand Council Treaty 3, the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association, the Ontario Native Council on Justice, the Union of Ontario Indians, the Fort Frances Tribal Council, the Six Nations, the Chippewas of Sarnia and the Ojibway of Onegaming.
I would ask them to stand so the House could welcome them here today.
SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR NATIVE PEOPLE
Mr B. Rae: First of all, let me welcome many of the chiefs presidents of band councils here today and say how much we are looking forward to negotiating with them in the 1990s.
I say to the Attorney General (Mr Scott) that his government is long on statements of principle, long on expressions of general declaration and very short on meeting the needs of native people in particular.
I want to spend some time in the short few minutes that we have to simply document the extent of the neglect by this government of its responsibility. To say that this is a historic day is true. But one has to also recognize that the good intentions which are expressed today do not match the fact that the Attorney General of this province has fought every step of the way the Bear Island band with respect to its particular claim, and that claim is now being fought in the Supreme Court of Canada.
The fact of the matter is that Ontario, with 22.4 per cent of the native population, spends some $4.88 million through its native affairs directorate. I would point out that British Columbia and Saskatchewan, with a smaller native population than Ontario’s, which is not widely known, spend roughly the same amount of money. Ontario’s tax base -- with a population of some 9.2 million people, we are spending a little less than $5 million out of the total provincial budget with respect to the activity of the Ontario native affairs directorate.
I want to say to the government --
Hon Mr Elston: You’re stretching it, Robert.
Mr B. Rae: If the member is telling me the native affairs directorate spends more than $4.88 million, that is news to me.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: I would invite the Attorney General to recognize that in his own guidelines for example, in the guidelines that he has established --
Hon Mr Scott: That’s deceitful.
Mr Jackson: What are you saying? You are a lawyer. You know better than to say that in this House.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: I do not mind taking abuse from the Attorney General. I want him to know, if he thinks that today is going to be a clear ride, he has another thought coming. He says that, with respect to the native people on reserves, Ontario is prepared to negotiate certain things, but it is also interesting that it is not prepared to negotiate other things. It is an interesting distinction.
Hon Mr Scott: Like what?
Mr B. Rae: Okay, we will go through the minister’s document. His document says with respect to crown land communities that Ontario is prepared to negotiate water and sewage, fire protection, garbage collection and housing. With respect to natives on reserves, he is not apparently prepared to negotiate water and sewage, fire protection, garbage collection and housing.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: If the Attorney General will look at the guidelines which have been presented -- I have only had a chance to read them now -- but the on-reserve items on which they are prepared to negotiate are fewer and less than those areas which they are prepared to negotiate with respect to crown land communities.
Just this morning, my colleagues and I presented a report on native health care in which we pointed out that you cannot talk about health care on a reserve north of 50 unless you are prepared to improve the basic quality of water treatment, unless you are prepared to deal with the question of sewage treatment, unless you are prepared to get involved in making sure that the native people have the means at their command to improve the basic quality of life in those communities. That is essential if we are going to deal with the question of social services; it is essential if we are going to deal with the question of health care.
What I am saying is that talk is cheap, that this government is prepared to talk, and I would suggest it has already been prepared to talk and it has talked and it has talked and it has talked. What we have not seen on the part of this government is a commitment to transfer dollars, hard resources, to our native people to allow them to build communities in which they can take pride, in which all of Canada and all of Ontario can take pride.
That is where the government’s record has been lacking. It is all very well to present these fine guidelines, but we all know and the Attorney General well knows, these discussions could go on for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years. Until this government and the government in Ottawa are prepared to transfer resources, power and money, it simply will not happen. That is what is at stake. That is what this struggle is all about and that is what needs to be done.
The relationship between the government of this province and the first nations, the first people of this province and the first people of Canada, is the most basic question of human rights facing Ontario today. We need to resolve it, we need to face up to it. I just do not think the government has demonstrated so far the commitment to do so.
Mr Eves: It is my pleasure to rise in the House today and speak on behalf of my party with respect to the announcement made by the minister responsible for native affairs (Mr Scott).
First, speaking of a co-operative approach, I also would like to extend our welcome to the leaders and representatives of the native and aboriginal peoples here today. They are Canada’s first people, and I do not think we should ever forget that in this province.
The very meaning of the term “self-government” means many things to many different people. I am sure that the Attorney General would agree with me in that regard. These are not easy discussions or negotiations that our province has undertaken over the years.
There has been some progress made. I do not think there is any doubt about that. In my own constituency, I can point to numerous examples of progress that has been made with respect to self-government of our native peoples. But there are some real shortcomings, one of which is health care, as the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot) so appropriately pointed out in his private member’s resolution in this House about a week ago.
I am proud to say that the province of Ontario is recognizing and paying particular attention to nonreserve native people, particularly those in urban communities, because they represent a very significant number of native peoples across this province.
I am also proud to say that for a brief period of time I was the minister responsible for native affairs and had the privilege and the honour of attending a first ministers’ meeting in 1985 at which the principle of constitutional entrenchment was discussed and put forward by the province of Ontario, and I understand that my predecessor did so in 1983 before that.
I think the point I am trying to make here is that the province of Ontario has always been regarded as one of the leading provinces in Canada, if not the leading province, with respect to its approach to native affairs and I would certainly hope that we continue to be so in the future.
SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR NATIVE PEOPLE
Mr B. Rae: My question is a very particular one to the Attorney General, and one that relates to my statement. I want to ask the Attorney General why the items which Ontario says it is willing to consider negotiating are different with respect to native people on reserves as opposed to native people living in crown land communities. There is a significant discrepancy between those areas, and I wonder if the Attorney General can explain that to us.
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the significant native population in Ontario exists either on reserve, where there is a land base, in communities on crown land, often communities that are substantially native in background, or in urban centres. My riding in the heart of Toronto has one of the largest native populations of any riding in Ontario.
It is obvious, I think, that when we come to discuss self-government, the parameters of self-government discussion will be different from place to place, simply by virtue of the existence of a land base. For example, the province of Ontario, as the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) will tell the member, has entered into policing agreements which provide some capacity to have native policing on reserve. It seems to me it becomes a much more difficult question to contemplate self-government with respect to policing in the city of Toronto.
Therefore, judgements have had to be made about the parameters that are possible to negotiate. As I said in my statement, we are, I think, the first government in Canada to lay out the parameters that we think are appropriate. I have emphasized to the leadership of the native community that this document is a basis for our discussions and we will be delighted to hear their views about it and will attempt to modify it to meet their appropriate expectations.
Mr B. Rae: Our report today talks about the fact that some basic conditions of life which are assumed to be there for the vast majority of citizens of the province are not available, are not present in many native communities, whether they are on reserve or on crown land. Lansdowne House is not a reserve. Lansdowne House is on crown land. Attawapiskat is on reserve. Some of the communities are partly on reserve and partly on crown land.
Water and sewage, fire protection, garbage collection and housing are four items which the Attorney General states very clearly that he is prepared to negotiate with respect to crown land communities. Those four items are specifically omitted, they are left out, when it comes to what he is prepared to discuss with native people who are living on reserves.
I am asking a simple question of the Attorney General: Why those omissions? Does he not think running water and sewage treatment are as basic to life on a reserve as they are to life on crown land?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member is very careful not to acknowledge so he can get maximum bang for every rhetorical buck, the reality is that on reserve there are special parameters that have to be considered.
The honourable member’s own report, released today, is much more candid than he himself is. For example, speaking of federal hospitals on reserve, the report highlights a point that I was making the other day and that the honourable member just rejected as silly. It says, speaking of the people in Moose Factory and Sioux Lookout, for example, where there are federally run hospitals, that those people worry that by giving jurisdiction to the provinces, the federal government will wash its hands of responsibility to first nations people.
When I made that very same point in so many words the other day, the honourable member, as usual, said I did not know what I was talking about and it was nonsense. I do not know, though I have got a good idea, who prepared this excellent report that the New Democratic Party has. It is too bad the Leader of the Opposition did not have time to read it.
Mr B. Rae: The Attorney General is someone for whom on occasion I have respect. I regret that I cannot say that in any way, shape or form today, in terms of what he has said to me and what he has said to members of the House.
He says he is prepared to negotiate education, health and social services when it comes to on-reserve. I am asking him a simple, factual, decent question. He has laid out here what he is prepared to negotiate on reserve and he has laid out on the next page what he is prepared to negotiate on crown land communities. I am asking him why these areas, water and sewage, fire protection, garbage collection and housing, are not there.
It cannot be jurisdiction, because he has already said he is prepared to negotiate education, health, social services and other areas. He cannot tell me that water and sewage is any more or less a matter of provincial or federal jurisdiction than education. Come clean.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: Why are those items not in there? Because they are expensive? Why is it?
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member does not understand the nature of self-government negotiations. I am sorry that I do not get his respect, but I guess I will have to live with that.
What we are talking about here is self-government, that is the capacity of native people, when they are appropriately resourced, to make decisions in areas for themselves. That is what they very much want to do; that is what the government of Ontario wants to do with them.
Moving towards that process, we have had to make judgements about which subject matters are high priorities for them -- we have listened to them, and land, for example, and resources are high priorities -- and which subjects are perhaps not suited at this stage to self-government negotiations on crown lands or in urban communities. We have made the choice. The NDP members will never have the responsibility of governing so they do not understand, but we have made the choice and we have asked the native people to read this document and to read the very helpful document which the NDP produced today and which I know the leader will have a chance to read shortly --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Scott: -- because that will allow them to make submissions to us about the ambit of these very important negotiations.
The Speaker: Thank you. I remind the members this is question period, not debating period.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Education, and it has to do with democracy as well. I want to ask the minister why he is rejecting the essential principle, I would have thought, of pension plans, which is that each party that puts money into the plan has an equal right to control of that plan, an equal right to management of that plan and an equal right to say what happens to the money that is put into that plan. Why is the minister showing such contempt for the democratic process in his rejection of the very reasonable request by the teachers that they have equal access to control and participation in what is, after all, their own money?
Hon Mr Conway: I have indicated, as have other members of the government, the desire of this government to proceed with the reform of the teachers’ pension plan in a way that will ensure that this very excellent plan, a plan that few other people in the community could imagine having, will be able to meet the expectations of it into the future.
We have said, for example, that in the issue of the governance of the plan, the government is quite prepared to consider a partnership, but from our point of view, it must be an equal partnership. It is not a collective bargaining partnership, but rather a partnership of equals where both parties would accept equal share of the risks and the rewards.
We do not believe, as government, since on behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario this year the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) will appropriate something in excess of $575 million of the taxpayers’ money, we will put more money into the teachers’ pension fund this year than we will give to the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) to run the Ministry of the Environment.
So the people, the taxpayers of Ontario, have an enormous stake in this and we are quite prepared to consider a partnership but we are not prepared to accept, as part of the partnership model, a dispute-resolution mechanism that would be binding arbitration and that would transfer the responsibility for important decisions in this multibillion-dollar account to some outside third party.
Mr B. Rae: The minister is putting money into the plan; the teachers are also putting money into the plan. It is the teachers’ money which is at stake and at risk, just as much as his own. They are putting money into the plan as well. I find it hard to believe that he would say to teachers the government has more rights to that plan and more rights to that money than the teachers have, in terms of its management. I do not think that is democratic or fair.
Can the minister tell me how his approach to what happens to the surplus, to his right to not contribute to the plan if he determines that there is a surplus in the plan, is any different from the approach that was taken by Conrad Black or any of the other employers that led to the changes we have had to make to pension law?
Hon Mr Conway: Let us be clear: there is no surplus in this plan. This very excellent plan that provides 100 per cent inflation protection is seriously in deficit because that inflation protection was not properly secured in terms of financial support 15 years ago, so the taxpayers are now going to pick up about a $4-billion unfunded liability. Let us be clear about that.
In so far as governance is concerned, I have said to the teachers that one of the other opportunities available -- one that we would encourage -- is to let the teachers take the plan. We are prepared to surrender to the teachers the right to run this plan. If they want partnership, we are prepared to consider partnership. But to obviate the concern of my friends opposite, a better alternative, one provided for in the government bill, is a member-run plan so they would then have the entire responsibility. They could have all of the rewards and all of the risks that go with a member-run plan.
We will not, however, accept an argument where the government gets to accept all of the risks and the members get all of the rewards. That is simply not on.
Mr B. Rae: I do not see why anybody would take the minister’s suggestion seriously. He is saying, “We will let you run the plan.” When he talks about partnership, he makes the rules --
Hon R. F. Nixon: All they have to do is opt for it and they have got it.
Mr B. Rae: No, wait a minute. This is the minister’s definition of a partnership. He makes the rules, he decides how much the contributions are going to be, he decides the terms of the plan, he says that if at any time in the future there is a surplus, he does not have to contribute to the plan. He makes all those rules -- that is what he has set out in his legislation and his amendments -- and then he turns around to the teachers and says. “Won’t you be partners with us?” What kind of a partnership is that?
If the minister is interested in a partnership, why will he not agree that when two partners disagree with respect to what is going to happen to the money that each of those partners puts into the plan, we will let somebody else decide? Why not do that?
Hon Mr Conway: I have to say to my friend, where does that leave the taxpayers? Bound by some third party for consequences that could have enormous impact on the consolidated revenue fund. I want to say to my friend the Leader of the Opposition that under the plan that we have had, it is a defined-benefit plan where the government, the taxpayers of Ontario, all of Ed Broadbent’s ordinary Canadians, get to guarantee the benefits.
I repeat, under the current arrangement, Ed Broadbent’s ordinary Canadians are going to get to pick up a $4-billion unfunded liability while all of the benefits that have flowed from that unfunded liability have accrued to the members. I say, finally, we as a government are seriously prepared to entertain a real and genuine partnership with an equal sharing of risk and rewards and, yes, we are also prepared to give to the teachers a member-run plan where they run the plan, they accept all of the risks and, yes, they get all of the surplus and all of the rewards.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Sarnia is waiting patiently for your attention.
Mr Brandt: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That applause was most appreciated.
EMPLOYER HEALTH LEVY
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Back in 1986, his ministry undertook a study with respect to the impact of the employer health levy, and at that time the findings of that particular report indicated that the introduction of such a tax in Ontario would be harmful to business, more particularly to small business, and would ultimately cost jobs and cause a slowdown in activities in some firms.
As a result of this tax now having been introduced by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and by the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini), could the minister indicate whether any studies and/or surveys have been undertaken by his ministry as an update to the findings he was able to discover back in 1986?
Hon Mr Kwinter: We have not undertaken any studies, but I will say this to the member. When the member takes a look at what has been going on with the funding of the health plan, I think he will find that fully almost 70 per cent of those people who are working have had their premiums paid by their employers. We have a situation where there is one sector that is really being disadvantaged by that. The Treasurer, in consultation with his colleagues, has decided that we will fulfil our promise and that we will make the providing of health care totally across the board and without direct cost to those participants.
There is no question that the costs are coming out of the consolidated revenue fund and we think there has to be some equity. We are now, as a result of that legislation, picking up the slack for those people in the industrial sector. Those employers who have not been making any contributions will be doing it in all fairness and in equity so that the burden will be spread across the total industrial sector.
Mr Brandt: I am surprised that the minister would not follow up on a study which he undertook back in 1986, which indicated some very real concerns about the introduction of such a tax and the impact that would have on job creation in our province.
I want the minister to know that my party did in fact undertake a survey in which we made contact with some 3,000 business operations in this province. Fully two thirds of them indicated that the tax would have a very substantive negative effect on job creation and would slow down growth. I want the minister to further be aware that some 80 per cent of those two thirds that we contacted are companies which export.
It is interesting to note that just this month, for the first time in a long time, the exports out of Ontario and Canada have gone down very substantially and that in fact our balance of payments is in a negative position. I suggest to the minister that it is partially as a result of this kind of move.
I ask the minister, how can he as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology support such a move, recognizing that his own studies and further surveys that we have taken indicate it is wrong and particularly wrong at this time?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I point out to the leader of the third party that this tax has not even gone into effect.
Mr Brandt: I know that.
Hon Mr Kwinter: Then all the dire consequences that he has attributed to it have not happened as yet. I should tell the member that in all the discussions we have had with businessmen, not only in the United States but in all jurisdictions, the one strong factor that we have in our favour is the relatively low cost of providing health protection to our citizens. It is the envy of the United States. All one has to do is take a look at people like Lee Iacocca --
Mr Brandt: That has nothing to do with your plan. It had to do with the previous plan.
Hon Mr Kwinter: Yes, it does; it has plenty to do with it. Rather than saying it is a negative impact, I can tell the member it is one of the strongest selling points that we have in trying to attract industry to this jurisdiction.
Mr Brandt: I again appreciate the applause. The minister may be interested to know that it is not me saying that this tax is going to be negative; it is the minister’s own report, written by his ministry officials back in 1986. I quote, “A new payroll tax would deter small firms from hiring and impair job creation.”
That was confirmed by the survey that we took. That, in fact, is what is going to happen. I predict this well in advance of the impact of this tax being felt by the Ontario economy. I ask the minister again, how can he, as the minister representing business in the affairs of the cabinet of the government of Ontario, support this particular tax?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I can support it very easily because I think it is fair and it is equitable. What the member has not really commented on is the result of the infusion into the economy of the savings that are going to result to the taxpayers and what that will generate.
Again I say to the member that we have a health plan in Ontario that has one of the lowest rates in all of Canada as far as the contributions that are being made by industry, and it is something that has stood us in a good position and that we use as a very effective tool in attracting industry to this jurisdiction.
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Premier. His government notified over 150,000 teachers in September 1988 of the following in a letter. It stated that Dr Slater’s concept of a new partnership with joint trusteeship appeared attractive to his government, and underlying this, his proposal is the principle that teachers and the government should be full and equal partners in the amount they contribute to the plan, in the way they share its risks and rewards and in the role they play in the management of the pension funds in the future.
Why would the Premier announce over a year ago that he was going to build this new relationship with the teachers of Ontario on something as fundamental as their shareholder rights in their pensions and yet last night at eight o’clock his government tabled legislation which not only took away the option that he was discussing, it removed rights that teachers currently enjoy today under existing legislation?
Hon Mr Peterson: The Treasurer can tell the honourable member about the extensive discussions that have gone on with the teachers.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Actually, the difficulty arose in 1975 when the then Progressive Conservative government did not establish a plan that paid for the very generous benefits that were given to the teachers in that election year. It was the inadequacies of the payments that were made from the consolidated revenue fund and from the teachers that have led to the actuarial deficit that necessitated the new plan that is being put forward. It is our aim to see that these benefits are properly paid for and that they are available when the teachers retire, as they should be.
Mr Jackson: It should be noted that the world-class fiscal conservative who just answered that question supported fully that legislation in 1975, as the then leader of the Liberal Party.
The fact is that the Premier should be aware that as of this morning, charges of bad-faith bargaining --
The Speaker: Order. We will just wait until everything tones down. Do you have a supplementary?
Mr Jackson: Yes.
The Speaker: Please place it.
Mr Jackson: I would like the Premier to know that as of this morning, his government has been charged with bad-faith bargaining by the members of this plan because of the conduct of certain members of his government. Not only has his government contradicted the letter which was sent, the teachers believe in good faith, back on 26 September 1988, his own Minister of Education (Mr Conway) has refused to meet with the teachers on more than one occasion to deal with the options which this government has tabled for their consideration.
The Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues (Mrs Wilson) has refused on three occasions to meet with the women teachers of this province to discuss substantive matters regarding pregnancy leave and benefits that they believe they have a right to.
Can the Premier explain why members of his cabinet and members of the Privy Council refused to meet with teachers yesterday when it was his government’s intention to table a bill that stripped away the rights that they have historically enjoyed in this province?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Although the honourable member continues to direct his questions to the Premier, it is my privilege to respond.
I think he should be aware that ministers of the crown have been meeting with the elected representatives of the teachers’ profession now for 18 months; that I, myself, have met with them regularly and as a matter of fact their request to the Premier resulted in a meeting in the cabinet chamber with myself and other members of the cabinet directly responsible for this important matter.
The Minister of Education (Mr Conway) has introduced legislation which has been debated already and approved in principle. As a matter of fact he has met with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on two formal occasions. The bill is now before the House. It is not the time for backroom negotiations because we have put forward three alternatives.
One is, if the teachers insist, the government will continue to operate it. Second, which we favour, is a fair and equitable distribution of responsibility and risk which would not involve compulsory arbitration. This fund would have at its disposal, including the employees of the province, close to $20 billion in assets.
Surely, it is irresponsible of the member, no matter how much he would like to lead the Progressive Conservative Party, to suggest that the decisions on that fund should be handed to some third party rather than the representatives of the taxpayer, the government of the day.
I want to conclude by --
The Speaker: Thank you. Perhaps a short supplementary might bring about a short answer. Would you try, please?
Mr Jackson: As legislators, we create laws in this House to protect employees from their employers who are bad-faith bargaining. There is absolutely no opportunity for the citizens of this province when a government is guilty of bad-faith bargaining with any of its citizens.
The fact of the matter is, this Premier should be aware that last night a plan was tabled that has never been discussed with the teachers of this province, and his Minister of Education confirmed that in committee last night. The fact of the matter is that this government all along has decided to offer not a joint model, but in fact a government-run model.
The Speaker: Question.
Mr Jackson: Why has his strategy for the last year been to invite confrontation with the teachers of this province? How can he call his actions consultative when --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon R. F. Nixon: What the honourable member says is totally incorrect. The bill, as he knows, has three options. We have met with the teachers for over 18 months. The minister himself in the last two weeks has met formally with them twice and they have refused the partnership option.
They have also indicated that they are not ready to take over the pension fund entirely themselves, as the bill provides directly in its sections. That leaves only one alternative, and that is for the changes to occur under the aegis of the government direction. That is really the choice of the teachers.
I want to say something about bad-faith bargaining because the member has only recently arrived at this discussion and is not even wise enough to listen while the discussion takes place but continues to interject.
Mr Jackson: You weren’t there last night when the bill was tabled. It’s an Education bill and you know it.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon R. F. Nixon: But I would say that for the Ontario Teachers’ Federation to indicate, after the work that has gone on with them over 18 months in trying to construct a suitable and modern method of looking after these important matters pertaining to pension, for them to call for the resignation of the Minister of Education, in my view, is irresponsible.
We have never had a better Minister of Education than the one we have now. He should certainly command the respect of all of the teachers as he certainly commands the respect of the taxpayers and as he commands the respect of every sensible member of this House.
Mr B. Rae: I thought I might give the Treasurer a chance to explain why he has it in for the member for Wentworth North, but I will not do that.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Mr B. Rae: I would like to ask the Premier a question about the goods and services tax. He will be aware, I am sure, of the many reports that the federal government is contemplating, changing the original proposal from nine per cent to seven per cent. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has apparently made some proposals to the federal government with respect to other possible changes to the plan.
I wonder if the Premier can tell us, does the fact that the rate will be going down from nine to seven change the stance that the government of Ontario is taking with respect to the GST?
Hon Mr Peterson: No.
Mr B. Rae: If the answer to that is no, I wonder if the Premier can explain why it is that his party voted against a very clearly worded motion standing in the name of my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) which stated very clearly that the government of Ontario would have no truck or trade with the GST. Do I take it then that the Premier is continuing negotiations with respect to the GST?
Hon Mr Peterson: In this House we have free votes. I respect every single member and if the majority of the members think that what the member put forward does not make sense, frankly I agree with them.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Revenue. The minister will be familiar with Bill 64, which is the education assessment bill that has been brought forward by his government. I would like to ask him, in view of the information that has come to my attention that some 45,000 information notices have in fact been circulated with respect to this bill, how he and his ministry could be so arrogant as to do that prior to the time when the bill was brought before this House. How can he submit a bill and the information contained therein for circulation to the Ontario public prior to this House dealing with that legislation? What kind of nonsense is that?
Hon Mr Mancini: I am not sure if the honourable member has his facts quite straight, but I will take the matter under advisement and I will report back to the House.
Mr Brandt: I want to advise the minister that I do have my facts correct, that in fact there was information printed, some 45,000 copies of which were circulated, and those copies are not even worth while. They contain errors, since the bill was in fact amended after the printing of that particular circularized item.
I say to the minister that when the same thing happened in respect to the GST at the federal level, when that was introduced by the government before passage and when advertisements were circulated --
The Speaker: Did you have a supplementary?
Mr Brandt: -- the Speaker of the House reprimanded the government for taking that action. Will the minister stand up and apologize on behalf of his ministry for doing something that is dumb and stupid, which is what he did?
Hon Mr Mancini: I believe if the member is talking about the ad --
Mr Brandt: I have it all right here.
Hon Mr Mancini: If the honourable member would just relax for a second, if I recall the ad, it says that the bill is before the Legislature. If there are some matters in the announcement that may be incorrect, I told the honourable member in my first answer that I would take his concerns under advisement and get back to the House. I doubt if anything we do over at the Ministry of Revenue is in fact as exaggerated as the honourable member tried to make the case today.
CAPITAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Education. Some time ago, the Minister of Education allocated considerable funds to the separate school board in Peterborough for a new high school. The school is required because the present building is very old and decrepit and enrolment is increasing. There appear to have been delays in the allocation of these funds, and my question to the minister is, could he give us a status report on the new high school for Peterborough?
Hon Mr Conway: I am pleased to have the question from my friend the member for Peter-borough. It is true that some time ago a submission was made by the area separate school board for a replacement of the St Peter’s Secondary School in Peterborough. An outstanding Minister of Education, the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward), responded very completely and immediately to that request by announcing an allocation of $17 million to provide for a 1,400-place secondary school as a replacement for St Peter’s Secondary School in Peterborough.
It is my understanding that this project is proceeding and if there is any difficulty, I would be interested to know about it because certainly it is our expectation that the allocation that has been made will be proceeded with.
Mr Adams: Can the minister assure the House that if and when the board submits acceptable plans for the new school, there will be no delays in the flow of funds?
Hon Mr Conway: I would want my friend and the good people of the Peterborough area to know that my predecessor was very anxious to accommodate the very legitimate secondary accommodation concerns of that community. He very wisely addressed the need by indicating a very substantial allocation.
I would only encourage my friend the member for Peterborough that if there is difficulty at the board level, it should make immediate contact with the regional office because the government is very anxious to move forward as quickly as possible and to replace St Peter’s Secondary School with a modern and up-to-date facility.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Housing, and it concerns a developer in London by the name of Zaifman Holdings Ltd. This particular developer over the last number of years has received $2.4 million in loans from the provincial government under the Ontario rental construction loan program, the Canada-Ontario rental supply program and the Renterprise program to build apartments in the London area.
I would like to ask the minister, why would the government of Ontario lend a developer like this money when this person has had a long history of being charged with collecting illegal rents and been convicted of charging illegal rents?
Hon Mr Sweeney: To the best of my knowledge, at least two of the programs which the honourable member mentioned were those that were in place several years ago. I cannot say why in fact they were done. The Renterprise program, however, was introduced in 1986, I believe, and I would certainly want to check to find out what the criterion was when that money was given.
Mr D. S. Cooke: While the minister is looking into these particular programs and this landlord, could he also look into the fact that this landlord is now being charged again with collecting illegal rents in 200 units of other buildings that he owns? Would the minister use the influence that he should have -- since the loans are still interest-free for 15 years -- to secure a settlement and get the tenants the money that has been illegally charged by this sleazy landlord?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I will certainly attend to the matter that the honourable member has drawn to my attention, and if in fact we have the legal or fiscal capacity to lever the kind of result that he has suggested, I will certainly see whether or not that is possible.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. The minister knows that the report Independent Living -- The Time is Now, which was submitted to her predecessor in March 1988, is still being reviewed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The minister also knows how crucial independent living assistance is for disabled persons to live a full and productive life.
My question to the minister is simple. Given that it has been 21 months since the Independent Living report was released and that the John Lord report found that the number of people who require attendant care exceeds the level of current service by three to 10 times, why has her government taken no concrete action to improve and increase the provision of attendant care?
Hon Ms Collins: As I mentioned once before in this House, myself, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mr Morin) have been working on the long-term care initiatives. In fact, the Minister of Community and Social Services made an announcement last week in this House. The report that the member referred to, attendant care, is part of the whole long-term care initiative and it is being looked at in that context.
Mrs Marland: The disabled persons in this province are fed up with being asked to wait and wait for action. We have lists of reports whose current status is “under review, currently reviewing,” etc. They are still waiting for this Liberal government to implement the recommendations of The Freedom to Move is Life Itself report, two and a half years after the government received the report.
My supplementary question is this: Given that the Toronto Transit Commission was recently criticized as being one of the four least accessible transit systems in North America, when will the minister and her cabinet colleagues take steps to fully implement the recommendations contained in the Freedom to Move report, which they have had two years?
Hon Ms Collins: There is the Freedom to Move report and the Lord report, as already mentioned. I think I have already given the member an answer as to how those reports are being addressed at this time and within what context.
I just want to remind the member that in 1985 this government was spending approximately $7 million on attendant care. As of 1989 we are spending over $14 million, and I think that is a substantial increase, though we all are aware of the fact that much more has to be done.
The TTC report is out. They are having public hearings, and it is up to the Metropolitan Toronto council to decide how to move on that report.
ACCESS TO PROFESSIONS AND TRADES
Mr Fleet: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship. Mr Speaker, you have recently received a 493-page report from the Task Force on Access to Professions and Trades, chaired by Peter Cumming. The report provides an extensive review of the barriers faced by Canadians trained outside Canada. When seeking a job, they rightfully want a fair opportunity to compete on a level playing field with other Canadians.
As the reports demonstrates, many Canadians have specialized knowledge or skills which Ontario needs but which are not used because of the lack of formal recognition of credentials and, as a result, both those individuals and our whole society lose out. I was concerned about a recent media report which suggested that the minister planned to wait a full year before considering what kinds of changes are warranted. Could the minister advise the House what his expected timetable is?
Hon Mr Wong: I would like to thank the honourable member for his specific interest in this issue. First of all, let me make it very clear that out of the 85,000 or so immigrants who are coming into the province of Ontario every year, there are thousands of foreign-trained people who would be qualified to work in Ontario but who have met artificial or other inappropriate barriers that have prevented them from seeking proper and full employment in their respective trades and professions.
As a result of this, two years ago the government initiated the task force report. I think it would be good for all of us to help tear down those barriers so that we can enable these people who are very skilled and talented to seek and be employed in these positions.
The task force report came up with 104 recommendations, most of which would pertain to seven ministries of this government. It is our intention to move as quickly as possible, not to take the length of time that the newspaper article inappropriately indicated. But as soon as these recommendations have been properly evaluated and analysed, the government will certainly indicate its course of direction.
Mr Fleet: The Cumming report raises a number of complex and fundamental matters. It proposes a new approach to evaluating the skills of people, a new approach to testing these skills, a new approach to language testing, and much more.
The report also acknowledges that no legitimate standard of excellence should or needs to be sacrificed in this process, and, as the minister has indicated, there are over 100 recommendations aimed at furthering these objectives.
Can the minister confirm, in formulating the principles of reform and later the means of implementing those reforms, that the government will continue to take into account alternative proposals that may be provided by other interested parties?
Hon Mr Wong: Before the government implements any course of action, I wish to assure all honourable members that the government would certainly be in touch with the professions and trade organizations which are, of course, involved, many of the community and other individual groups who would be affected by any changes and also other stakeholders in the system.
I might mention that we must be cognizant of the fact that in the European Community, by the year 1992, all of the countries which are a part of the EC are moving toward complete mobility of skilled personnel among its member nations. We must also recognize that other jurisdictions, other provinces of Canada like Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, have already implemented some systems for recognizing foreign credentials. Again, they have done so in a way that benefits their particular provinces in a cost-effective way. From Ontario’s standpoint, we must make sure that we do this so that we can harness these skills for the benefit of Ontario.
Mr Laughren: Time.
The Speaker: Order. I certainly appreciate the assistance from the member for Nickel Belt, but we have been managing all right.
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. Ortech International, formerly the Ontario Research Foundation, received significant funding from the provincial government and has its governors appointed by the provincial government. I am sure it was after some significant study that it located in the Niagara Peninsula, in the Brock industrial park, around a year ago.
That study undoubtedly would have indicated to it and to the government that there is need for its services because of the dense industry located in the Niagara region and certainly in the southern part of the Golden Horseshoe. After about one year, Ortech indicates that it is going to leave Brock industrial park and abandon the Niagara region. My question to the minister is, why is the government permitting that to happen?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I thank the member for the question and I am sure he is aware that I have a copy of the resolution passed by the Thorold city council. He should know that Ortech, notwithstanding that it reports through my ministry, is an arm’s-length agency and I do not really have day-to-day, hands-on responsibility for it.
I have heard the representations from the city council of Thorold. I certainly will communicate that to them, but that is really their decision and it is their decision to make.
Mr Kormos: I know the minister has the Thorold city council resolution because I sent it over to him at the beginning of question period today. I know that Thorold city council wrote to him and that he replied.
I should let him know that this is of grave concern not only to the city of Thorold, but to the regional municipality. They sincerely believe that the decision of Ortech is ill founded and not based on reality. The fact remains that the government contributes significant financial resources to Ortech and is far more intimately involved with its operation than the minister would appear to have us believe.
In view of the fact that is of such great concern to the regional municipality of Niagara, to the city of Thorold, and of such importance to the whole Niagara region, would the minister agree to facilitate a meeting between himself, Ortech and representatives of those two communities, the city of Thorold and the regional municipality of Niagara, as soon as possible, so that this matter can be discussed?
Hon Mr Kwinter: Again, I want to point out that, contrary to what the member has said, we do not have a very, very intimate relationship in the way that Ortech is run. It has its own board of directors, its own chairman and it runs as an arm’s-length agency. Certainly, I am cognizant of his concern. I will convey it to the people at Ortech and if we can arrange a meeting, I will be happy to try to facilitate it.
Mr Sterling: My question is to the Solicitor General. Will he call an inquest with regard to all matters surrounding the death of Christopher Stephenson and the handling of Joseph Fredericks, the man who has been convicted of murdering this young boy in Brampton?
Hon Mr Offer: As the member will be aware, the calling of an inquest is within the responsibility of the coroner of this province. The coroner, I understand from reports, is currently taking a look at the matter and is expected to make a decision in the next while.
Mr Sterling: Under section 22 of the Coroners Act, if the minister has not already referred to that act and, I believe, inadvertently misled the House, he has the power to call a coroner’s inquest. There seems to be ample evidence with regard to the matter that there is a significant problem that could be addressed with regard to the release of Joseph Fredericks from the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre and the handling of this man over a period of years leading to the death of Christopher Stephenson.
Why does the minister not take that step at this time, because there is public concern not only outside this Legislature but within the Legislature to get to the bottom of this so that this can never happen again in our province?
Hon Mr Offer: Without dealing with the subject matter of the member’s question at this point, but I will in a moment, I find the first comments of the member in his supplementary to be somewhat offensive.
I would like to indicate that the coroner is charged with the responsibility of making a determination in certain instances where death has resulted, taking a look at the subject matter, taking a look at public interest and public safety. The coroner is charged with that responsibility. I am advised, through a report, that the coroner is currently taking a look as to whether there will be an inquest called in that matter, and I believe that it is in the best interest of all of the members that we do await the coroner’s decision in this matter.
Mr Sterling: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I was not intending to be offensive. I was trying to point out to him what his rights were under section 22.
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Other people might want to ask questions. I distinctly heard what the member said and he came very close to the line.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE
Mr Ruprecht: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Recently, the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy (Mr Black) announced a number of initiatives aimed at coming to grips with drug abuse in our area. Included in his announcement were funds for a prevention program which would involve the district health councils.
Can the minister tell me, and in fact all of those persons who are interested in a strong anti-drug strategy, what kinds of initiatives we can expect from the district health councils?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would like to acknowledge the efforts and the leadership of my colleague the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy, as I answer the question and also acknowledge the interest of the member for Parkdale.
The Ministry of Health has contributed $1.2 million through until March 1992 to fund the activities of community action groups. The district health councils will be making recommendations on proposals to support prevention activities that were announced and will, in fact, be seeking to participate in the development of community action groups, fostering them in their communities.
The district health councils of this province are also going to be developing three-year plans for drug and alcohol services. At the present time, they are very active in planning for the enhancement, appropriately, of the kind of initiatives which have been included in the provincial anti-drug strategy.
Mr Ruprecht: I thank the minister very much for that announcement. I am specifically interested in treatment centres.
Last week, I received a letter from the Metro Toronto Police stating that “in the west end of Toronto, there are no facilities for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.” Can the minister indicate what direction her ministry plans to take in terms of increasing funds specifically for treatment and rehabilitation centres?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am very proud of the initiatives that the Ministry of Health has undertaken and of our commitment to addiction programs generally. This year, addiction programs will total some $43.3 million. I should note that is an increase of some $17 million over the funding that was available in 1987-88.
Because of my desire to always try to improve the effectiveness and to improve, in fact, the quality of everything that we do, we are also developing a database at the ministry to allow us to better evaluate the effectiveness of all of our programs. This is because of our commitment to develop quality assurance programs so that we can assure the taxpayers of this province that in fact we are providing effective and appropriate care to all of the residents of the province. The approach that we are taking, the addictions program, is just one example where we are trying to evaluate and monitor and then demonstrate that effectiveness as we further enhance our funding initiatives.
Miss Martel: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. I would like to raise with him another case under section 86n of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Mrs Boderka was injured on 16 January 1981 while hauling bags of fibreglass. Full Workers’ Compensation Board benefits were paid on and off in 1981-82, but in April 1983 these were reduced to 50 per cent of their original value. The reduced benefits continued until September 1983, when Mrs Boderka was pensioned off by the board. Her representative appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal for full benefits between April and September 1983. The case was won in December 1987. The WCB stayed the decision and the payout in February 1988, and no money has been paid to her to date.
I would like to ask the Minister of Labour why he is continuing to allow the board to do this.
Hon Mr Phillips: I think we must go back and remind ourselves that in 1985 we made some substantial changes to Workers’ Compensation Board procedures. We established the appeals tribunal and we put in place several mechanisms to allow a full and comprehensive look at all of these claims.
In this particular case we are dealing with a matter that I have mentioned several times in the House before. That is the issue of who has the final authority at the Workers’ Compensation Board.
I have said in the House before, and I will say it again today, that is a matter that is still in some dispute. It is a matter that I have undertaken in the House that will be part of our review of the Workers’ Compensation Board. A green paper, as I said before, will be issued in 1990, and that particular matter will be reviewed. But I go back to the changes that were made in 1985, where we established the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, substantially enhanced the appeal mechanisms, and in that particular case, we are looking at what is called section 86n.
Miss Martel: I am glad the minister mentioned the green paper, because I would like to say a little about that process. The green paper committee, made up of labour and employer representatives, was set to look at this particular question and also many other issues under workers’ compensation. First, that committee has not met in ages. It is not meeting now. It is not scheduled to meet in the near future.
The second problem is that both groups, labour and the employers, already presented to the Minister of Labour their final submissions about section 86n and those other issues.
The fact of the matter is that the employers believe section 86n should continue; labour believes that section 86n should be repealed so the independence of the tribunal is guaranteed and the tribunal will have the final say. The minister will have to choose whose side he is on, and I would like to ask him here today, which is it? Is he with the employers or is he going to be with labour and working people for an independent tribunal?
Hon Mr Phillips: It reminds me of the challenge we all face, and I believe strongly in consultation. I believe in giving individuals and organizations a chance to comment on and participate in the background and in the decision-making in matters such as this, so we cannot have it both ways. We cannot say that the minister has received advice and now it is up to him, without consultation, and have consultation.
My approach is to prepare and issue the green paper and to give the individuals and organizations a full and ample opportunity to comment on that and have input in it. As I say, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot say we want consultation and input and then not allow consultation and input. I cannot think of a better mechanism than the proposed green paper to ensure that we have broad and comprehensive input into this very important decision.
Miss Martel: They are not even meeting any more. The meetings are over.
The Speaker: Is the member for Sudbury East finished? The member for Sudbury East had her supplementary.
New question, the member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. The minister has one of the most important portfolios in this government. His mandate is to protect human health and the ecosystem by ensuring that acceptable standards of air, water and land are maintained, yet his ministry is one of the most difficult ministries to obtain information from.
Will the minister tell us why he has not tabled an annual report in four and a half years?
Hon Mr Bradley: I certainly can. I consider an annual report a waste of money. The reason I consider it a waste of money is that all an annual report used to be in the Ministry of the Environment was about 15 pictures of the Minister of the Environment saying, “What a great job we are doing.” It essentially used to be government propaganda. Also, keeping in mind that an annual report is just what the ministry thinks it is doing well and the services that it is providing.
I can say that in speeches across the province. I can say that by providing direct information to people. I consider it a waste to put money into an annual report which, when I have looked at them over the years, I must say, have been very good for photographers and very good for ministers of the environment.
Mr Sterling: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: But I cannot say that in fact they have been particularly useful, other than that.
Mr Sterling: He is repeating himself. Thank you, thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: We do have a number of documents that we provide.
Mr Sterling: Come on, Mr Speaker, cut him off.
Hon Mr Bradley: We have a number of publications that we put out through our library and in other ways, and we are prepared to continue to do that.
Mr Villeneuve: Time.
The Speaker: Order. I hope the member for Carleton will respect the rules of the House.
Mrs Marland: The minister’s staff is unco-operative and rarely returns phone calls. There is a rumour that he has closed down his ministry’s full-service library at 135 St Clair, and the fact that he has not tabled the report is a concern for everybody. By law, we realize he does not have to, but the previous ministers of the environment all published annual reports as part of their duty to keep the public informed. This government, obviously, feels it does not have to tell anyone what is going on.
The minister should know that I will be tabling an amendment to the Ministry of the Environment Act today to require him to report each year to this assembly. In the meantime, my supplementary question is, can the minister tell us when we will see a report of his activities over the last four and a half years?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member will get that kind of report through the estimates of the Ministry of the Environment, through questions in the House, through speeches which are made and through the various publications that we have. But if she is asking me, am I going to put out a propaganda piece on behalf of the government of Ontario, a show document, the answer is no, I am not going to do that, for a very good reason.
I happened to believe when I was in opposition that they were a waste of money, that all they did was promote the government, that all they did was make the minister look good. For that reason, I am not going to waste the money of the taxpayers.
The Speaker: It appears that many members are not interested in what is taking place.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, I would like to raise something which may or not be a matter of privilege in the House and would like you to look at it, if you might, and report back to us if you think it is. I gather it was referred to in question period, but I think it is more properly a matter for you to consider than a question of a minister.
It has to do with the pooling legislation which has still not passed this House. I have learned that a notice will be sent by the Ministry of Revenue -- about 1.5 million have been printed up -- to go to corporations around the province to let them know about the new rules.
There are two matters here of privilege that concern me; one, that this might be sent out before the bill has actually been passed by this House. It strikes me as a dangerous kind of thing for us to get involved in and there has been a recent federal case, which we may recall, which was raised before the Speaker of the federal House of Commons. But the second point is perhaps even more important, and that is, within the actual wording of this piece of information that is going out, there is some misleading information.
The notice states as follows, “Under the new rules, business partnerships will have the right to direct school tax support to a separate school board and to the French-language school board in Ottawa-Carleton in the same proportion that the partnership is held by Roman Catholics or francophones.”
At the committee stage, the committee changed the provisions in the legislation which had said this before and made it clear that in fact it was talking about Catholic ratepayers, people who supported the Catholic system. As members know, under our system a Catholic has the right to direct his funds to support the public school or the separate school system. It strikes me that if this information goes out, number one, in advance of our having passed the legislation and, number two, with information which is contrary to the government’s own amendments of its own legislation, it would be a major, major mistake and an offence to this House. I ask the minister to investigate this.
Hon Mr Conway: If I might, Mr Speaker, since the pooling legislation is legislation for which I have responsibility, I will respond. I think my friend the member for Scarborough West raises a very valid point and I give him and the House an undertaking that I will immediately investigate it and report back, hopefully within a very, very short time.
The Speaker: The member rose and said that he might or might not have a point of privilege and now, with the undertaking by the minister, I wonder if the member would want to delay his request until the minister responds to him.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am delighted by the response.
Mr Ward moved that on the standing committee on resources development Mr Mackenzie be substituted for Mr Pouliot.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved that the select committee on education be authorized to meet from 12 noon to 1 pm on Monday 18 December 1989.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moves that the order of the House of Tuesday 10 October 1989 establishing the schedule for committee meetings be amended by striking out “the standing committee on resources development may meet on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons following routine proceedings” and substituting therefor “the standing committee on resources development may meet on Monday and Wednesday afternoons following routine proceedings.”
Motion agreed to.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I wish to present two petitions, both of which are in disagreement with the French Language Services Act and both of which I have signed but neither of which I agree with.
Mr Velshi: I have a petition signed by 18 members from the riding of Don Mills, properly addressed and requesting the repeal of the French Language Services Act. I have signed it. I do not agree with it.
Mr Sterling: This is a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas the French ethnic population of Ontario at the time of confederation was less than 1.85 per cent; and
“Whereas all ethnic groups residing in Ontario at the time of confederation can claim to be founding people;
‘Whereas the French Language Services Act of the province of Ontario creates a special status for 4.5 per cent of the provincial population; and
“Whereas the creation of a special status for one ethnic group discriminates against all other ethnic groups, comprising 95.5 per cent of the population and is a source of disunity within the province,
“Therefore, we, the undersigned, humbly pray and call upon the Legislature of the Province of Ontario to pass legislation repealing the French Language Services Act, being statutes of Ontario 1986, Chapter 45.”
The Speaker: Just before I ask if there are any other petitions, this might be an opportunity to remind all members they might want to reread the standing order on the presentation of petitions.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mrs Marland moved first reading of Bill 98, An Act to amend the Ministry of the Environment Act.
Motion agreed to.
The Speaker: Does the member have a brief explanation?
Mrs Marland: Yes, Mr Speaker, I do. The purpose of the bill is to require the minister to publish an annual report on the affairs of the ministry. Obviously we in the Progressive Conservative caucus feel very strongly that while there are annual reports from other ministries, we do not have one from this one.
The Speaker: I asked for an explanation. You are not supposed to debate the bill at this time.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
FORT ERIE LIONS SENIOR CITIZENS COMPLEX INC ACT, 1989
Mr Haggerty moved second reading of Bill Pr37, An Act respecting Fort Erie Lions Senior Citizens Complex Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO MIDWESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY LIMITED ACT, 1989
Mr Lipsett moved second reading of Bill Pr45, An Act respecting Ontario Midwestern Railway Company Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO MORTGAGE BROKERS ASSOCIATION ACT, 1989
Mrs E. J. Smith moved, on behalf of Mr M. C. Ray. second reading of Bill Pr46, An Act to revive Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HOMES UNLIMITED (LONDON) INC ACT, 1989
Mrs E. J. Smith moved second reading of Bill Pr52, An Act to revive Homes Unlimited (London) Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
BRANTFORD AND SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY INC ACT, 1989
Mrs E. J. Smith, on behalf of Mr Neumann, moved second reading of Bill Pr54, An Act respecting the Brantford and Southern Railway Company Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
TIMES CHANGE WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT SERVICE INC ACT, 1989
Ms Poole moves second reading of Bill Pr56, An Act to revive Times Change Women’s Employment Service Inc.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
THIRD READINGS / TROISIÈME LECTURE
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Les motions de troisième lecture des projets de loi suivants sont adoptées :
Bill 49, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy in Municipalities and Local Boards.
Le projet de loi 49, Loi prévoyant l’accès à l’information et la protection de la vie privée dans les municipalités et les conseils locaux.
Bill 52, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Enactment of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ward, on behalf of Mr Elston, moved Bill 84, An Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and certain other Acts in respect of Confidentiality Provisions.
Mr Sterling: l just want us all to notice Frank White in the government’s gallery, who has done a tremendous amount of work on the original Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and these three bills that we have just passed, or are about to pass, into third reading. I would even give the nod to Mr White in terms that his overall knowledge of freedom of information might even be greater than that of many of the members of the Legislature of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
THIRD READINGS / TROISIÈME LECTURE
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Les motions de troisième lecture des projets de lois suivants sont adoptées :
Bill 69, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984;
Bill 70, An Act to amend the Evidence Act;
Bill 79, An Act to amend Various Statutes in connection with information to be filed and records to be kept by Corporations and Limited Partnerships;
Bill 81, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984;
Bill 92, An Act to amend Fines and Terms of Imprisonment contained in certain Acts;
Bill 64, An Act to amend the Education Act and certain other Acts related to Education Assessment;
Bill 65, an Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act, 1988;
Projet de loi 65, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1988 sur le Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton ;
Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act. [See page 4877.]
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO ACT (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 53, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Mr Breaugh: Very briefly, the requests from municipalities sooner or later become law and this is one of those indications of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto making a number of requests. As is normal practice around here, we think that the municipalities, when they require a legislative change, are basically the place where those matters ought to be debated. Whether or not we agree with all of what has been proposed in the bill, it is generally conceded that this House should not stand in the way of a legitimate request by the municipality for a legislative change. We will support the bill.
Mr McCague: As my colleague the member for Oshawa has said, these bills are fairly routine. It is sometimes hard to understand why two times a year we come up with amendments to most of the bills. However, it has been a tradition that has been going on for many, many years, and I suppose we cannot blame the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger), for this one.
Mr Ballinger: I have no intention of dragging it out. As the member for Oshawa said, I just want to thank both opposition critics for supporting this bill. There is some urgency on behalf of Metropolitan Toronto.
The Deputy Speaker: In the absence of Mr Sweeney, Mr Ballinger has moved second reading of Bill 53, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY OF MUSKOKA STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved, on behalf of Mr Sweeney, second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act and the Education Act.
Mr Ballinger: Very briefly, for the benefit of the members of the House, this legislation implements the request of the council of the district of Muskoka to establish uniform mill rates for district and school board purposes. They will permit the district municipality in each school board to establish one mill rate for residential purposes and one mill rate for commercial purposes, to be applied uniformly within their respective areas of jurisdiction.
In 1987 a district-wide reassessment was implemented similar to that enacted for the regions of Sudbury and Waterloo and the counties of Brant and Huron. However, continuation of the former cost-sharing and levy arrangements have meant minor variations in the district in school board mill rates among the six area municipalities. With the establishment of uniform mill rates, councillors, trustees and ratepayers alike will be able to understand and compare property taxes between properties located throughout the district.
This legislation will also require the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) to direct an assessment update of all properties in 1993 to reflect subsequent changes in market value and to implement further assessment updates every four years thereafter. This regularized update of assessment is consistent with the arrangement adopted in other region-wide and county-wide reassessments that have been implemented. While these changes will have very modest tax consequences within the district of Muskoka, they should nevertheless be recognized as another step forward in our continuing effort to improve the property tax system in Ontario.
Mr Breaugh: Once again, this is essentially a process that we all recognize, of the municipality making a request of the government of Ontario to adjust the process whereby assessments are levied against property taxpayers.
I want to say a couple of little things about this. I know there have been negotiations back and forth and I accept that process as being one that is worth while. I do accept that in many of our municipalities we do not have the uniform mill rates that are provided for in this bill, and it does cause major problems and major headaches. They are, for the most part, located in parts of the province where the growth and development happens at unequal stages and where the planning of local government has also happened at different times and in different ways. It does pose a problem. This is one way to rectify a small portion of that problem.
The difficulty that is posed by this particular approach -- and I am not going to take any exceptions to what is being proposed in this bill, but there is a problem; the problem is that many municipalities, like the one we are discussing now, the district of Muskoka, do not have a great deal of an industrial base on which to carry out all of the municipal services that are required. An adjustment like this will be not noticed in the first little while; it will be a little bit fairer, perhaps, than the process that is there now.
I get somewhat upset sometimes when it is portrayed that this is going to do anything for anybody. It really does not. If there are those who feel that this particular process will solve a mill rate problem in Muskoka, it will not. It will do the distribution thing a little fairer and that is all. But the basic problem of a municipality that does not have an industrial tax base remains in place, and they face -- in a way that is much worse than many of our other municipalities -- the ongoing crunch of municipal financing.
It will be worse in a place like Muskoka than it will be in a place like Oshawa, simply because my own community in the region of Durham has a pretty strong industrial base. So, they can continue to finance municipal projects at a rate that is not pleasant, that people do not like, but they can handle it. A place like Muskoka cannot. That is essentially my concern.
This is an adjustment to a system that is wrong; it is an adjustment to a system that is wrong; it is an adjustment that makes a wrong system a little bit fairer. But it will not help anyone in that area escape what is bound to be a very difficult problem in the foreseeable future.
One other point that I wanted to mention was that some of us think about a place like Muskoka as being a holiday area. As you go through those areas now, you will find that more and more people are taking up permanent residence in these areas. While we once thought of them as places where you go to enjoy yourself in the spring, summer or fall, they now have a continuing population base that has to be served, and requirements for servicing in all fields, from hard services like sewer and water to education and social services, and they struggle to try to provide the services that are necessary with a tax base that is not very powerful.
We support the bill and we support it basically on the premise that if any of the municipalities asks the government of Ontario to provide them with something such as is called for in this bill of a uniform tax rate, we should acquiesce to that request. But none of us should feel that we have done very much to resolve long-standing financial problems in doing so.
Mr McCague: Some months ago, second reading of this bill was in the Orders and Notices and we were encouraged by the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr Black) to support it. I understand that something went wrong back home and that those who were supposedly in support of this bill found some problems with it.
I hope the parliamentary assistant, the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger), will take a moment just to explain to us what went wrong and the urgency of passing it today. But I will be supporting him on this. If he does not answer my question, the next one will be much more difficult.
Mr Ballinger: I want to thank the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) who, as always, very astutely understands the issue and some of the complications involved with this particular bill.
To the member for Simcoe West (Mr McCague), the easiest thing I can say is I was not the parliamentary assistant when discussion took place last year, but my understanding was that they had renewed negotiations. I am in receipt of a letter, which I will pass on to the member, that will clearly identify that after second reading we will be proposing two amendments that were of some concern to the member for Simcoe West, who addressed their major concerns. The ministry has agreed to those amendments -- I have another one here as well, I am sorry -- and I think will very amply resolve the questions of the member for Simcoe West.
The Deputy Speaker: In the absence of Mr Sweeney, Mr Ballinger has moved second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act and the Education Act.
Pardon me? Did you want to talk on this?
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, I recognize that I probably should not be speaking after the parliamentary assistant. I wonder if I can ask your indulgence because the printed order today for these bills has been revised somewhat and I do not have a copy of the order that we are in now. I was actually in another location; I want to make two minutes’ comment on this bill, that is all.
Hon Mr Ward: If it will help the member, the member will know that the orders are always listed in the orders and notices and the business sheet is just a guideline. Notwithstanding that, we will be moving into committee of the whole House for two amendments that the parliamentary assistant indicated. The member may wish to make her comments at that time and she will have ample opportunity.
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreeable with you?
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I just want to say, in respect to Bill 34, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act and Education Act --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I thought I just heard the government House leader say that if we are going to go to committee of the whole House, at that moment you will have your opportunity to speak.
Mrs Marland: I am sorry. Thank you.
The Deputy Speaker: In the absence of Mr Sweeney, Mr Ballinger has moved second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act and the Education Act. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
House in committee of the whole.
DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY OF MUSKOKA STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 34, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act and the Education Act.
The Chair: At this point, I would like to list all sections to which members would like to -- yes?
Mr McCague: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: It was not too many days ago that I was scolded -- I am not sure whether it was by you or by the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) -- for not providing copies of amendments. I find two things a little upsetting. That is number one.
The second one is, there was no reference to the fact that this is going to go into committee of the whole House today. The House leader may tell us that there was agreement made to go into committee of the whole. I look at the 16th order. I know it says committee of the whole. But it says also, as I understand it, what is going to be considered today, and we do not have this.
Maybe you could straighten me out on those two points, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: Pertaining to the first point, of course we have reminded members a number of times to try, according to the standing orders, to give us two hours’ advance warning, along with seven copies of the proposed amendments to the table. That has been an invitation sent to all members of the House, an invitation that I must admit has not been fulfilled by everybody.
As for the second point, the standing orders clearly state that we can proceed with any progressive step, with any piece of legislation, any one day unless 12 members stand up in the House and object to it, which I have not seen. Therefore, we are proceeding.
Mr Breaugh: Are these amendments still secret or may they be shared with the opposition critics, so we could decide whether they are good or bad?
The Chair: I think all of us would like to share in them, not only the opposition critics.
Mr Ballinger: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: The way the House has been working the last few days, I do apologize to the opposition critics. Last week, I did table the amendments with both critics but we adjourned the debate on Bill 53. We were to be doing Bill 53 and Bill 34 together. I have extra copies. I thought they might have the amendments with them but I have additional copies here.
The Chair: We would like to have them distributed. Would you like to move up to the front? Do Hansard and the interpreters have copies of these?
Mr Ballinger: In checking with the clerk, my understanding is yes.
The Chair: We are ready to start listing proposed amendments? The government has two amendments to section 3 if I am correct.
Mr Ballinger: Yes.
Mr Breaugh: I have copies of two amendments but they are the same thing.
Mr Ballinger: I would suggest that the member for Oshawa change one of the amendments with the member for Simcoe West (Mr McCague). Obviously I sent them both in the wrong hand.
Mr Breaugh: I do apologize. The page just brought me the other amendment.
The Chair: Would the official opposition or the third party have any amendments? No? Therefore, the only two proposed amendments are to section 3 and they are government amendments.
Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Ballinger moves that subsection 78(7) of the act, as set out in section 3 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“In 1993, for purposes of taxation in 1994, the Minister of Revenue shall make a direction under subsection (1) for changes to be made to the assessment rolls of the area municipalities.”
Mr Ballinger: The reason for this amendment was at the request of the district council. They were concerned with the proposed 1992 update which was based on 1988 values. By the time they got finished with the update, which was supposed to take effect in 1993, the taxation would be based on values that were already five years old. So the ministry accepted this council’s suggestion to have the new values based on 1992 market values as opposed to 1998 market values to bring them closer together.
Mr Breaugh: We are just trying to keep the parliamentary assistant awake this afternoon. We would certainly support the returning of the rolls.
Mr McCague: Mr Chairman, did the parliamentary assistant mention a date of 1998?
Mr Ballinger: Sorry, if I said 1998, I meant 1988.
The Chair: Any other comments, compliments, good wishes of the season, whatever?
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr Ballinger moves that section 78 of the act, as set out in section 3 of the bill, be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:
“(17) For the purposes of sections 362 and 363 of the Municipal Act, the district corporation shall be deemed to be a municipality.”
Any opening statement?
Mr Ballinger: No, I think the amendment is self-explanatory.
Mr McCague: Maybe the parliamentary assistant would like to explain it to us.
The Chair: Would the parliamentary assistant explain that to us?
An hon member: He will tire himself out buttoning his jacket.
Mr Ballinger: I am having difficulty getting it buttoned this close to the festive season.
I want to thank the member for Simcoe West. In the Municipal Act, it does not recognize “district” and all this is doing is cleaning it up because we are talking about the district of Muskoka. In most other areas across Ontario it is counties, regions or local municipalities.
Motion agreed to.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Shall sections 4 to 8. inclusive, carry?
Mr Breaugh: I understood that the honourable member for Mississauga South wanted to make a few brief remarks and that probably will be most appropriately done under section 8.
The Chair: Thank you for reminding me.
Mrs Marland: In commenting on Bill 34, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act and the Education Act, we should place on the record the concerns about where assessment as a whole is going to be headed in the district of Muskoka. The concern with Bill 34 that has been expressed by the major property owners who will be affected by this bill is something that unfortunately the drafting of the bill has not addressed.
The concern is over the result of this bill, which enables the district to mark up -- automatically mark up, as a matter of fact -- the assessment of properties in Muskoka periodically. Muskoka is a resort area but not a resort area that combines resort properties with other kinds of properties which may be found a little south of Muskoka, closer to the metropolitan areas. One can have property owners and then one also has even industrial, commercial and many business owners.
The thing that is unique about the district of Muskoka and the thing that is really a concern there is that something close to 80 per cent of the assessment -- in other words, something close to 80 per cent of the money that comes into the treasury of the district -- comes from the recreational property owners: the cottage owners, the waterfront owners, since most of the cottages are on waterfront.
Here we have a situation where recreational property owners are supporting the majority, by a great extent, of the funding for the operation of that district, and here we have a bill that is going to enable the increase or the markup of those assessments from time to time by the district.
The concern is that with the rate of assessment that exists today for those property owners, the end result will be that people simply will not be able to afford to have recreational properties in Muskoka. It is going to be that simple. It is going to be that black and white. They will not be able to afford their recreational properties because they will not be able to afford to pay the taxes.
That may be all well and good if one thinks from a purely socialistic point of view. One might think: “That’s too bad. All those rich people who have properties in Muskoka can’t pay the taxes. That’s too bad. They may have to sell their properties at a reduced price and they won’t be there any more. We’ll drive the people away.”
Whether or not we care about the recreational property owners -- and when I say “we” I mean “we” in the royal sense -- whether or not the Liberal government cares about the recreational property and cottage owners, that has to be a factor of concern on two points. One is that if the government members care about them at all, they will want them to stay there because it is their property taxes that drive the economy of the district of Muskoka. If we do not have recreational property owners there paying taxes, then the cost of operating the district falls purely on the nonseasonal residents. The cost of roads, snow removal, garbage, water, whatever it is that is a major cost to operating a region, will then fall on the year-round residents.
If we look at the percentage of residents who are year-round -- and of course the major expense included in that is the education system -- we know full well that there is no way that the assessment from the year-round residents could support those services in the district of Muskoka without the cottage and recreational properties taxes.
So there are the two factors the government has to be concerned about. First of all, if they keep increasing the assessment, eventually they will drive the cottage and recreational property owners out of there because they cannot afford that kind of assessment and pay that much money in taxes on recreational property. They are not their primary homes. If they drive them away, where are they going to get the money to pay for the school systems, the school board and all the other services in the district?
There is an even deeper irony about the district of Muskoka, and that is that even though recreational or cottage property owners pay taxes at the going assessment, they cannot send their children to schools in the district of Muskoka. We certainly found that out on a personal basis, as did a number of people in that area, because when the local school board was on strike, even though you were a full property assessment taxpayer in the district of Muskoka, you could not access the Muskoka Board of Education’s schools. Even though almost 70 per cent of your taxes for your cottage pay for the education in the district of Muskoka, you are not entitled to send your children to those schools. What would happen if the province lost that revenue and that income which holds and drives the economy, a successful economy, I may say, of the district of Muskoka? If we lose that, then the cost of those services will fall back on the provincial government.
I do not think that is really what the Liberal government wants. I think they want the district of Muskoka -- at least I would assume they do -- to continue to be successful, both economically and socially. The demand for social services in the district of Muskoka, as with many other services, is very much reduced by the fact there is a majority of seasonable residents. I think it is important to know that although the district of Muskoka thinks that Bill 34 is fine on the surface -- I cannot speak for the district of Muskoka but I do, however, speak for some people whom I know very well who are recreational property and cottage owners in that district. Those people are concerned. With reassessments, even with the most recent reassessment, they went from taxes of something like $800 a year to $3,000 a year.
Frankly, if it is recreational property, most people cannot look at an increase over -- if they are already paying $3,000 and Bill 34 allows for increases by the district in their assessment, they obviously are going to be at a point where they can no longer keep those properties and we may end up with abandoned properties, vacant properties and people simply moving out. I think that will be a loss to the economy and success of the district of Muskoka. I would hope it is not a direction that the provincial Liberal government would like to see the district go in. I hope that the Liberal government will look again at what assessment is doing and who is paying the big dollars in Muskoka for education and all the other hard and soft services.
Sections 4 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.
On motion by Mr Ballinger, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent that third reading of Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act, be rescinded. Just by way of explanation, Mr Speaker, you will know that on most occasions things around here move very slowly; sometimes they move too quickly.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Looking about the chamber, I believe we have unanimous consent for the rescission of Bill 36.
PUBLIC SERVICE PENSION ACT, 1989
Ms Hošek, on behalf of Mr Elston, moved third reading of Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act.
Mr Morin-Strom: I think it is appropriate that we have a debate on the third reading of this bill. This is a bill which clearly lays out the government‘s position with respect to pension legislation, affecting not only public servants in the province of Ontario in this case, but in fact the kind of position that it is going to take on pension legislation in the future.
Bill 36 has worked its way through the Legislature during the past several months. During that process we have seen an absolute inability of this government to listen to the employees of this government, to take into account the fact that the pension plan that is affected by this bill is the property of the public servants of Ontario. All of their objections with respect to this bill have been ignored completely by the government.
During the committee stage in the past several weeks we have heard a number of concerns expressed by the elected representatives of the public servants of Ontario, the vast majority of them being members of various locals of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. The serious concerns that OPSEU raised with this government were not addressed in any way during the clause-by-clause hearings on this important piece of legislation.
This bill came forward with some intentions of opening up a dialogue with public servants in this province, with at least the pretence of giving them the opportunity to have a choice, potentially, of a jointly controlled pension plan in which the public servants of the province and the government would jointly manage the very large funds and responsibility that is associated with the public service superannuation of Ontario.
They were also offered the opportunity to take over the plan, in terms of the original language that was in the bill, from the government. However, the reality is that the government was never serious about either of those options and was insistent upon imposing its own model of what a pension plan should be and maintaining and enhancing the absolute and total control that the government had over this very large and very important pension plan that affects thousands and thousands of families across this province.
The government ignored the recommendations that were made to it by its own commissioned studies. During the last couple of years major studies were prepared and presented to the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and to the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston). Those studies, commonly called the Rowan study, the Coward study and, most recently, the Slater study, all made very important points with respect to the management of this plan. This government has not managed this plan in the best interests of its employees historically.
It has taken advantage of what is really a conflict-of-interest position and, instead of investing the funds to achieve the best possible returns and minimize the risk to the employees, the government has abused the trust position it was put in and has turned the funds back to the government to be used for other purposes, paying back into the fund clearly insufficient rates of interest and rates of return on those borrowings. All three studies criticized the government severely for that action and asked that these pension funds be opened up to market investments.
The government knows that it should have provided to the public servants the same kind of pension plan protections that the Pension Benefits Act provides to pension plans in the private sector and in other public sectors that are not affected by this bill. The Pension Benefits Act insists that the board that manages a fund invest that fund to achieve the best possible return, to achieve a mix of investment and to minimize the risk to the employees. The fact is that the government management of this fund has resulted in borrowings back to the government at insufficient returns. The result has been a fund which has been deficient and shows an accumulated deficit, which is certainly not the fault of the employees to whom these funds belong. It has not been their mismanagement. It has not been their control of the plan that has been at fault.
This government proposal does nothing to address that and, in fact, enhances the government’s control by now allowing itself provisions to be able to change the plan in future, in almost an unprecedented fashion, solely by a direct cabinet order without even having to come back to this Legislature. At least in the past the public servants of the province had the protection that if the government wanted to make changes to its plan, if the government wanted to make changes to the Public Service Superannuation Act, it had to come into this Legislature to get a new bill passed to provide those amendments. This bill will now provide the cabinet with unilateral ability to do that on its own.
One of the most serious aspects is the whole issue of who the funds belong to. The government has made clear, in this bill and in a similar bill affecting teachers’ pension that is being addressed by the standing committee on social development right now in clause-by-clause, that its position is that the funds do not belong to the employees, those funds are not there held in trust by the board and managed in the best interests of the employees. The government is making clear that its position is that pension funds belong to the employer.
In this case the government is saying, “These pension funds belong to us, they belong to the province of Ontario, they do not belong to the employees of the province of Ontario.” The government is establishing that by giving itself the right to surpluses that may be generated in the future, to benefits in terms of actuarial gains that may be achieved. The government wants total and complete access to those potential windfalls in the future. The government claims that it is going to cover that accumulated deficit which it is responsible for due to its mismanagement over the years. But a careful reading of the bill, an analysis of the bill, shows quite clearly that actuarial gains and surpluses that will be achieved in this plan can be used directly to eliminate those government payments to cover that debt.
This bill is one that is totally inadequate. It does not address the fundamental concern of the employees of the province who want to have some say, want to have some control over their funds. They expect that the management of this fund will be in the best interests of those employees. These funds should be held in trust for the benefit of them and their families.
Most fundamentally, this government has refused to negotiate, has refused to recognize the right of the representatives of the employees of this province to be able to negotiate pensions as an issue to the same extent that they can negotiate wages, other benefits and working conditions. It is established in the collective bargaining legislation of Ontario that bargaining can occur on almost all aspects of work in the province, but not on their pensions, and this government continues to refuse to recognize that, as employees in the private sector have that basic right, employees of Ontario should similarly have the right to face the government face to face and to be able to negotiate the pensions that are going to be there in their future to provide for them and their families.
This bill is really an affront to all the public servants of this province and I would ask that it be soundly defeated.
Mr Reville: In order to avoid alarming people who are serving in committee at the moment or members who are elsewhere than in the chamber, I want to indicate that there has been unanimous consent to put this vote over until after routine proceedings on Monday of next week.
The Acting Speaker: That is very informative. We appreciate it very much. However, we should have the opportunity to allow the parliamentary assistant to have any concluding remarks.
Ms Hošek: I am speaking about Bill 36 and I have taken account of some of the statements that were made by the member opposite. He is particularly concerned about his claim about the previous management of the pension plan, and its financial management in particular. The whole point of Bill 36 is to make sure that the 85,000 members of the Ontario public service have adequate pensions and also have properly funded the indexation benefit that they were promised in 1974. Those indexation benefits were promised but were not adequately funded by the arrangements that were made then. This legislation is meant to make sure that those benefits are properly and adequately funded.
In order to do that, the plan is going to be managed in a somewhat different way. The whole question of the funding of indexation benefits is addressed. What we are doing in this bill is securing inflation protection for the public service people who are in the plan in a way which is fiscally responsible, to ensure that the problems that we currently have are not passed on to future generations of plan members and future generations of taxpayers. In order to do that, both the employer -- in this case, the government -- and the employees are going to be increasing their contributions to the plan, at one per cent each of payroll, to pay for future benefits. However, all the problems in the indexation fund to this day are going to be paid for by this government.
Those benefits have been inadequately funded to the tune of $2 billion. This is an enormous amount of money, by anybody’s reckoning.
What this bill does is make the commitment that the government will pick up that $2 billion past-service deficit. So any of the problems associated with the past will be paid for by the government, and the changes in the legislation that require that both members and the government pay an extra per cent of payroll will make sure that the future benefits will be paid for by the future recipients of those benefits.
The other thing that is going to happen in this situation is that the investments that are currently in the plan will be turned into market investments, investment in the marketplace which will yield, presumably, more or less the usual results of all investments in the market, which we hope in fact will be stronger and better than they have been in the past.
However, let me point out to the member opposite, who has heard this but seems not to want to hear it, that the payments that were made in the past by the government, the way in which the government borrowed money from the pension plan meant that it paid one per cent more for those pensions, or several per cent more in some cases for those moneys borrowed than it would have paid in the open market. So the money that the pension plan got from the government’s investment was a reasonable amount of money.
What is going to happen as a result of this bill is there will be an arm’s-length board to administer the plan and the fund. That board will operate under the rules of the Pension Benefits Act with fiduciary responsibility. The government remains the sponsor of the plan, but the door is left open for either a joint partnership plan or for a plan run entirely by the membership. When and if the membership makes the decision either to run the plan on its own onto come into a joint partnership arrangement with government, then those two possibilities remain apparent and available in the act.
The excellent benefits in the plan will be maintained. There are some enhancements in the plan, including opportunities for people to be members of the plan who in the past have not had that opportunity. The most important thing of all will be that the secure benefits to which our public sector people are entitled will in fact be guaranteed and maintained.
The Acting Speaker: Ms Hošek has moved, on behalf of Mr Elston, third reading of Bill 36. Is there agreement that the motion carry?
All those in favour, please say “aye.”
All those against, please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Hon Mr Mancini: I request unanimous consent that the vote be deferred and taken following routine proceedings on Monday coming.
The Acting Speaker: Seeing no objection to that, agreed.
MUNICIPAL STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved, on behalf of Mr Sweeney, second reading of Bill 90, An Act to amend the Municipal Act and certain other Acts related to Municipalities.
Mr Ballinger: Today I am presenting for second reading amendments to the Municipal Act. These amendments will clarify certain sections of the act and give municipalities greater authority and flexibility in certain areas.
The first provision in the legislation will clarify that photocopies and microfilm copies of municipal documents can be used as evidence in court and will deem copies to be originals when the originals have been destroyed.
This legislation also gives municipalities greater flexibility in collecting sewer and water charges. Amendments will permit municipalities to use per-lot charges, set rates that combined operating and capital costs and eliminate the need for the Ontario Municipal Board to approve rates. Changes to the legislation will provide that even properties exempt from municipal taxation pay sewer and water charges, allow municipalities to adjust charges to reflect actual services received and permit them to redetermine charges to be imposed among new owners when lots have been altered.
It will provide the regional governments the right to enter into joint services agreements with other regions. Other municipalities in the province already have this right. The legislation also has a number of amendments which clarify municipal powers to regulate parking and permit municipalities to act with more flexibility.
The first amendment lets municipalities redefine parking benefit areas without rezoning. Approval from the Ontario Municipal Board must still be required. A parking benefit area is an area in a municipality which derives a special benefit from a parking lot or garage. The municipality then can increase or decrease the levy on specific properties in the parking benefit area. It will also provide clear authority to municipalities to pass bylaws regarding parking or stopping of vehicles on roads and to discriminate among other classes of vehicles for the purposes of parking regulations.
The legislation also allows municipalities to charge varying fees for parking metres at different facilities. This bill provides municipalities with the authority to lay parking charges on private or municipal property without the consent of the owners to facilitate the laying of charges.
Officials will no longer require a written complaint from the owner of the property before charges are laid. In court, the evidence of police officers and municipal law enforcement officers will be sufficient. This will make obtaining convictions much easier for the municipality.
Reference to special constables is now eliminated from the Municipal Act. This is consistent with the policy of the Ministry of the Solicitor General in phasing out the use of special constables.
The legislation will transfer dog licensing provisions from the Dog Licensing and Live Stock and Poultry Protection Act, administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, to the Municipal Act, administered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. At the same time, they are being modernized and expanded to give municipalities greater powers of control.
The amended provisions will increase the maximum fine for dogs running loose to the maximum fine for other offences under the Municipal Act; enable municipalities, to require muzzling or leashing of dogs that have attacked a person or domestic animal; remove the limit on the charge for a kennel licence; permit different fees for licensing dogs, and permit municipalities to establish clinics for spaying and neutering dogs and cats and to set the fees. Municipalities will also be able to implement their own identification systems.
It will also amend the Dog Owners’ Liability Act to establish liability for damages if a dog bites or attacks a domestic animal or person.
The legislation also makes it an offence for a dog owner to be irresponsible and not taking precautions to prevent the dog from harming another person or domestic animal.
Mr Breaugh: These are blood relatives of yours.
Mr Ballinger: It is tough, Mr Speaker, let me tell you.
Finally, municipalities will be required to ensure that municipal law enforcement officers who are not municipal employees are properly trained and supervised, with a six-month phase-in period provided in this legislation.
Mr Breaugh: This is an interesting bill because it operates at so many different levels, everything from “Can we use a photocopy when we go to court?” -- and, of course, we should be able to do that -- to muzzling dogs. But I want to talk about a couple of things that I heard the parliamentary assistant pass over fairly quickly, because I think they need a little more attention than muzzling the dogs and fixing the parking metres. I do not question for a moment that those things have to be done.
Although I did not see the words used in here, there are a number of us who have thought for a while now that if we are going to have a thing called the greater Toronto area, we ought to recognize it in law. In fact, that is what this bill is doing, in part.
This bill is the first one that I can recall where it lays out in broad general terms the kind of framework that would be required for regions to enter into agreements for little things like sewer and water projects, little things like garbage collection, little things like transportation, perhaps, at some later date. It would give to the regional governments in and around Metropolitan Toronto, for example, a clearly defined legislative framework.
Now, I think that is the way it should be done. I frankly wish the government had been a little more straightforward when it presented this, because I tend to think that someone in the ministry has pointed out to it that there are lots of these agreements in place now, but we are never quite sure precisely on what legal basis they were put together. Certainly, a number of us have questioned precisely on what legal basis there is now almost a ministry called the greater Toronto area and staff allocated to something which does not exist called the greater Toronto area. It is no wonder the government had to assign the boy wonder of the ministry, Gardner Church, to handle such a task. It is the first phantom ministry I have ever encountered here. I am sure he will handle it well.
There are a couple of other things that I think we should get on the record too. I have advocated for a long time now that municipalities are often hampered by some pretty stupid rules when it comes to setting things like water and sewer rates. I note that this bill ought to give them about as much flexibility as they could ever want in terms of setting that out.
I am quite prepared to try that, simply because there have been too many restrictions, rather silly ones, up until now. But I want to point out -- because members may hear from me a little later on this in a slightly less conciliatory vein -- that there is room for abuse here and I am going to be the first one to start screaming when I see a regional municipality which decides that a really good way to make money is to hook up a sewer plant somewhere and pump sewage through some houses. I hope that is not what is envisaged in the bill and I hope that is not what turns out to be the case.
But as I look at people who are attempting, vainly these days, to purchase a new home in any of the regions in and around Metropolitan Toronto, they are really getting it put to them pretty well. They get lot levies thrown at them now on a substantial basis, but both the municipality and the regional government, and now the school boards, will have their way with them, as well.
They are getting knocked by a provincial government that is withdrawing substantial portions of funding as it goes its merry way. They have to hope that roads which were planned -- because I have seen the blueprints 10, 15 years ago -- but have never been built will suddenly appear and that somebody will fund those, because they are not.
I am surrounded by municipalities where I live that have had huge increases -- and you would be aware of this, Mr Speaker, because you live there -- in the number of homes in small villages. I happen to pass through the village of Newcastle every once in a while, and the village of Newcastle, for those of you who have not had the pleasure, is a pretty little village in the middle, not quite in the middle, but in what we would consider to be the rural region of Durham, or it used to be. I was amazed to see that the village of Newcastle has been swallowed up by subdivisions all over the place. You can still find the village of Newcastle, but it is beginning to look remarkably like the village of Pickering.
The village of Pickering still exists too. There is this cute little enclave of a village in the middle of this huge, Mississauga-like development that is now Pickering. They are going to have some problems in trying to figure out just precisely how to provide services. The irony is, even if they had the cash in hand now, even if they could convince the development industry to provide them with schools, policing, social services, roads, sewers, fire services, libraries and all the things that people who move into the suburbs, such as the ones I have just talked about, expect to be there, they are not there and they will not be there for several years to come.
There is a place called Courtice, 100 yards from where I live. Courtice has had huge amounts of development. Those are all people who are moving into what was once a rural area of the region of Durham. By and large, they are moving there from someplace in Metro. They happen to think their children have a right to a school in their neighbourhood. There is not one there now, and none of the boards of education has either the money in hand or the ability to build the schools as quickly as those people want them. They have funny notions that there ought to be a fire department, and there is not. They think there ought to be police protection at a level that does not exist, and will not for some time. They think of social services in a way that is totally different from the way those rural municipalities have ever thought about them.
The expectations of people are there and the financial crunch is there, and this bill provides those regional municipalities, at least, with the opportunity for another source of income. I do not deny for a moment that they need the income. I do not deny for a moment that some variation of the traditional schemes of paying for services ought to be tried, but I am going to be very angry indeed if a municipality or a regional government looks at this bill as a licence to provide another major source of income in addition to paying for the actual services that are provided. That would be my concern with it.
I believe that it is worth the effort to try to put this stuff together in a bill like this. It sometimes means that we have to read the bill rather carefully, because some of them, for example, are not major problems. I do not think we are all upset over whether there is a scale of prices to the parking meters in a particular municipality. Some of us are going to be a little upset, I suppose, that muzzling and putting a leash on a dog has been difficult up until now, and perhaps it has taken only 100 years, but it looks to me like something for which municipalities are responsible has now been put under the Municipal Act. It sounds pretty straightforward to me.
But there are also some sleepers in here. I just thought it was worth while to put them on the record because I think, sooner or later, they may well come back to haunt us.
Mr McCague: It was only a few days ago that the Minister of Housing (Mr Sweeney) walked over and told us that he had a very insignificant bill, a few little amendments to the Municipal Act and related acts and would we please give it speedy passage. I told him I would be glad to assist him, and then he sent in the parliamentary assistant. However, we will try to assist him too in any way we can.
I think there are a couple of sleepers in this bill, as the honourable member for Oshawa has said.
It was interesting to note, as the parliamentary assistant read his printed comments on the introduction of this bill, that he slid over the matter of sewer and water by saying, I think, that it allowed more flexibility in the collecting of sewer and water charges. Would the parliamentary assistant check his notes, please, and just see if that is a true interpretation, if not in fact what he said? There is always a possibility that my interpretation would be different, and there is always a possibility that my interpretation just might be right.
I understood that what this bill really allowed was that there could be lot charges which would allow a municipality to recover water and sewer capital works charges. I just wonder if that is not slightly different from the way the parliamentary assistant put it to us in his opening remarks.
Mr Speaker, you will know that we have not long ago talked about and passed a development charges bill, one that the industry, one that some home owners opposed because they see it, in fairness, along with the goods and services tax, as something that may add anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 to even $25,000 to the cost of their first home. Those are the people who are really worried.
I would hope that the parliamentary assistant would tell us -- let’s take for instance, and this would happen in very few municipalities, a municipality that does now have a sewage disposal plant with excess capacity, put there under a financing scheme that looked appropriate at the time it was built. Does this now allow it to levy a further lot charge, for instance, to provide for the construction of the next sewage disposal plant, should it need one? I do suggest that is quite different from the way it was slid over in the opening comments.
The second thing that I want to just raise with the parliamentary assistant is the one of special constables. I have not had the opportunity, because this bill has been in less than two weeks, to canvass the municipalities to see what they think about the elimination of the use of special constables. I can understand that happening in the larger municipalities in the province, but I guess my question really is, are there not -- and I believe there are -- some municipalities out there that make use of special constables and they are very valuable to the peace and good government of those kinds of municipalities?
In his statement, the member said that this elimination is consistent with policy of the Ministry of the Solicitor General. I just wonder if it is the policy of some of those municipalities, especially the smaller ones. I know that it is hard to get into a dialogue with the parliamentary assistant at this time on those points, but he may be so kind as to refer to them in his summation.
Mr Ballinger: I want to respond to the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) first. When I was first elected in 1973 I had the pleasure of sitting directly beside the member for Oshawa and I want to say to the member for Oshawa, through you, Mr Speaker, that in the past 16 years he has not changed a bit. It is almost impossible to slip anything by the member for Oshawa, so I do not know why he would be the least bit worried.
I want to respond to his concern about the additional powers being granted to a region. What we are doing here is this was an oversight with all of the regional municipality acts throughout Ontario. The Municipal Act does allow for this association to take place between municipalities and counties, but does not recognize regions. What we are doing is bringing into conformity -- earlier today we did the same with the district -- those other levels of government that have not been recognized under the old Municipal Act. That is why it is an amendment to the Municipal Act.
The member for Simcoe West’s question was whether or not this was an additional lot levy that I slipped through, and the answer is no.
Mr McCague: I didn’t say it was an additional levy.
Mr Ballinger: I am sorry, but I interpreted that the member for Simcoe West was concerned with whether this was going to be an additional add-on charge when in fact there may already have been a lot levy. One of the problems was that under the current act, current costs -- water and sewer costs -- can be calculated and added into the rate but capital cannot. The capital cost has traditionally always been debentured. With this amendment, this will allow a municipality to add both the current and the capital costs into their rate so that it will enable a municipality not necessarily to have to have a debenture to incur new capital expenditures for its sewer or water a operations.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS CREDITORS PAYMENT REPEAL ACT, 1989
Mr Miller moved, on behalf of Mr Wrye, second reading of Bill 101, An Act to repeal the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act.
Mr Miller: I do have some comments I would like to make. Bill 101, An Act to repeal the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act, is now before the House for second reading. The Ministry of Transportation is the only provincial authority which administers contracts under an act other than the Construction Lien Act.
The purpose of Bill 101 is to eliminate the inadequacies of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act and bring the ministry’s contract administration into line with other contracts awarded by the province under the terms of the Construction Lien Act. We are repealing this act in order to bring in Bill 102, which will be introduced next.
Mr Charlton: I will make a few very brief comments on Bill 101 and start out by saying that we intend to support the bill. It is our view, having looked at both the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act and the Construction Lien Act, that in fact the move is a good move. The Construction Lien Act will provide better protection for those who get involved in the kinds of construction projects that we are talking about currently covered under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act.
The Construction Lien Act has a better range of definitions of those issues around which we want to protect people, like wages, employees and a number of other things that are not even defined in the current legislation. So we agree that it is a good change to bring those things now covered under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act under the Construction Lien Act.
We do, though, have one comment to make to the government, and it is interesting to notice that there is no member of the government here this afternoon while we are dealing with this piece of legislation.
Mr Ballinger: I am here.
Mr Charlton: No, no. The government is the executive council and there does not appear to be anyone from that council here.
Mr Charlton: A minister without portfolio, yes.
At any rate, our question to the presenter today is, if these changes are as important as the government would lead us to believe and as important as we ourselves have concluded they are, why did it take this government two and a half sessions to proceed with legislation there was no opposition to, no controversy around and no need to have committee hearings on when we have to go through so many other contortions around very controversial legislation about whose benefit there is serious question?
Mr McCague: The member for Norfolk (Mr Miller) has brought us a very difficult bill this afternoon. On the question of whether you repeal the old one before you put in place its successor, I am not sure. However, anything that gets one of the many hundreds of bills off our list here at Queen’s Park, and therefore less intrusion into the private and daily lives of our citizens, I think is to be commended. Therefore, we will be supporting the bill, as was discussed by the honourable member.
Mr Miller: I appreciate the comments from both the member for Simcoe West (Mr McCague) and the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr Charlton). We will accept the criticism that it maybe should have been done sooner, but today is the day we are bringing them forward, and we are making good progress. We appreciate that. I thank members for the support.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
CONSTRUCTION LIEN AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Miller moved, on behalf of Mr Wrye, second reading of Bill 102, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
Mr Miller: Again, I would like to briefly bring the Legislature information with regard to Bill 102, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, 1983. It is now before the House for second reading. This amendment is intended to bring administration of the Ministry of Transportation contracts under the provisions of the Construction Lien Act.
The passage of this bill, in conjunction with repeal of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act, will provide contractors and suppliers with a single, consistent piece of legislation governing ministry contracts and the payment of creditors. I think it should be in the interest of all suppliers and contractors within the province to have this protection under this bill.
Mr Charlton: Very briefly again, on Bill 102, as I said on Bill 101, we support the alteration or the amendment to the Construction Lien Act as a better alternative for those things that were previously covered under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act. We will support the bill. I only wish that the government had proceeded quickly with these pieces of legislation when they were introduced two and a half sessions ago.
Mr McCague: We will be supporting this bill and the member for Norfolk.
Mr Miller: I would like to say we appreciate the support from all parties of the Legislature and will move forward with the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
House in committee of the whole.
EMPLOYER HEALTH TAX ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 47, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of providing for Health Care and to revise the requirements respecting the payment of Premiums under the Health Insurance Act.
The Second Deputy Chair: Now we might begin
Mr Daigeler: Mr Chairman, may I move down to the table and have some of the officials sit with us?
The Second Deputy Chair: If memory serves me correctly, in committee of the whole House of Bill 47, An Act to impose a Tax on Employers for the purpose of providing for Health Care and to revise the requirements respecting the payment of Premiums under the Health Insurance Act, the member for Mississauga South had been participating in the debate with the movement of a proposed amendment to subsection 2(1) of the bill. My understanding is that she was still participating in the debate.
Mrs Marland: In this amendment that I had moved before we adjourned the proceedings on this bill I was trying to give the government one final opportunity to make a very practical decision. It seems that the government is bound and determined to impose this employer health tax on the employers in this province. It seems that this imposition on the employers of the province is going to go forward no matter that public opinion and the tide of feeling is against it.
We certainly know that this government, while it chooses not to listen to the people of Ontario on the matter of the employer health tax, also chooses not to listen to a report of one of its own ministries. I refer to a report that was prepared by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology. Obviously, being a ministry of industry, it would be concerned about industry as an employer in the province.
This report was prepared by this government’s own ministry staff in 1986. The report stated that payroll tax would be harmful to business, particularly to small business. Here we are and in spite of the ministry’s own report, the government is introducing -- certainly we are not, but the government is -- this Bill 47, which will do the very thing that one of its own ministries had identified as being harmful to business.
I think that I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant, who is taking the legislation through this afternoon in place of the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini), whether the Minister of Revenue has considered the 1986 report prepared by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology which warned his government that this payroll tax would be harmful to business, especially small business.
Mr Daigeler: First of all, let me say that I appreciate the presence of the member for Mississauga South. Since she was present at the committee meetings last week, she also did say stay with us last night until midnight and she is here today, I must recognize her interest in this matter and I appreciate that she is following this discussion, hopefully, right to the very end.
With regard to her question, I can certainly assure her that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the Minister of Revenue have very carefully looked at the studies that have been done by the different ministries and that is precisely why we have introduced special provisions in this legislation that recognize the situation of small business. As the member will know, we have a graduated rate in order to reflect the situation of small business, which is different from that of large business.
We have also introduced quarterly payments rather than monthly payments, which provide, certainly, help for small businesses in terms of their cash flow. So we certainly recognize that small business is a very important sector in this province and we wish to provide as much assistance as possible.
On the other hand, I think we also recognize that small business depends on a healthy and viable workforce and I think it is only fair that it shares at least to a certain extent in the costs. May I say, as has been pointed out repeatedly, that the employer health tax brings in only 16 per cent of the total health care cost, so I think it is only fair that small business also shares to some extent in the costs of our excellent health care system in this province.
Mrs Marland: In speaking to my amendment I want to say that it is significant that the parliamentary assistant acknowledges that this employer health tax is going to be a very heavy load for the business, industry and employers in all those sectors, not only business and industry but obviously commerce and, as my amendment suggests, municipalities and school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities.
I think the very fact that the government has decided to make the payments quarterly instead of monthly means that the minister acknowledges that it is going to be a very difficult burden for everyone to pay. I should also mention that our Progressive Conservative party did a study and we used as a database the manufacturers listed in the government book called Made in Ontario. It is a directory published by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology.
This study was mailed to 3,000, asking them about the impact of the employer health tax. Two thirds of the respondents said that costs would rise with the employer health tax. Our concern is that if a new payroll tax will deter small firms from hiring, then does it not follow that it will be an impairment in job creation? I think it is a very sad day that in Ontario we have a Liberal government that is not interested in job creation and does not realize why we have had the economic growth that we have had because of the direction and leadership given by the former government in concentrating on job creation, especially in the small business area.
In my amendment I have addressed the fact again that if the minister has decided not to exempt anyone from the employer health tax, why would he not exempt those people to whom he transfers money? Having said that those people who depend on transfer payments from the provincial government, namely municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, if they are going to be paying this employer health tax to give the minister’s government money to pay for the health care system in the province, why would he bother going through the bookkeeping bureaucracy of that process?
I would assume, because this amendment makes infinite common sense, that the member is going to be supporting it, because I would not assume for a moment that the member would want to go through double bookkeeping with the juggling of money back and forth between the employer health tax and those bodies that I have just listed, unless what the member is doing is just that, purely a juggling act; unless it really is the shell game with the taxpayers’ money in the province that it probably is. And maybe that is what we should do. Maybe we should call it what it is and say, on behalf of the municipalities, hospitals, colleges and school boards that we are not in agreement with taking from one hand and giving to the other, because that is a shell game, that is smoke and mirrors or whatever cliché the member wants to use to describe it.
Ultimately, the people who will be hurt are the people who John Stark, as president, and Lois Gibson, as executive director, have tried to write to this government on behalf of, namely the members of the Mississauga City Board of Trade, and I use that only as an example. They have gone to the trouble to write to question the government’s attempt in implementing this employer health tax, and in particular, that board of trade is questioning the government’s attempt to collect double revenue from those businesses.
If the representative of the government today will accept this amendment, then it will give him an opportunity to at least save face with one sector that is going to face this penalty, and ultimately, of course, all those sectors are publicly funded. If we are talking about municipalities, we are talking about the property taxpayers in those municipalities. Of course, if we are talking about colleges and universities, we are talking about students, and if we are talking about hospitals and school boards, obviously hospital funding is more and more a responsibility of the public. There again, it is the double irony that this government is collecting money for a health care system, but it is going to penalize the hospital $60 million.
It simply does not make sense to try to proceed with this bill without this amendment. I think the member would use the opportunity to save face and, as I said the other afternoon when we were discussing this, have some grace in accepting an amendment that is purely common sense. If he does not, then what he is doing is very bad for all of these groups that are addressed in my amendment. Also, it just compounds the illegitimacy of the double revenue which we have already identified on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party. We have already identified the fact that this government is double billing the first three months of 1990. Obviously, the irony is that it is okay for the Liberal government to extra-bill but not for the doctors of this province.
So I ask the members to support this amendment and agree, at least with the Progressive Conservatives, that those exemptions do make a great deal of common sense.
Ms Bryden: I would like to support this amendment, even though I really think this bill is not the right answer for replacing the premium revenue or for giving the Treasurer additional revenue which he is asking for in this bill, because it is adding to our regressive tax system. It is adding a brand new tax, with which we have very little experience in the administration or the economic effects. I think the provincial Treasurer should have looked at more progressive forms of taxation rather than this regressive tax, which also hits small business harder than large business and hits labour-intensive industries very hard and does not hit the self-employed. I would like to start off by saying that this is a very bad tax and we should oppose it.
However, at the moment we are looking at an amendment which would improve one section of it, and while this is only a partial help in making the tax more enforceable and more fair, it is worth asking the government to at least consider this. I hope it will consider my overall request that it withdraw the tax and replace it with progressive taxation which would not have the serious economic effects that this proposal would have.
With regard to the business of exempting cities, towns, villages, townships, counties and regional municipalities, school boards, hospitals, colleges or universities, it makes eminent sense, as the member for Mississauga South has said, because it is really double taxing the residents or the users of all those services and institutions.
They have no other source of revenue except their municipal tax sources, so when the province comes along and says, “We want X dollars from you based on the number of employees you have,” the province is intruding into a municipal field and taxing people who have no other source of revenue or very few other sources of revenue beyond property taxes and business taxes.
In the long run, all of those institutions will have to do one of two things. They can cut their services, because they will not have the money after they are required to pay the employer’s health levy, or they can increase their mill rate, but they cannot do that instantly. In many cases it is already set for this year. Or they can ask for larger grants from the province to offset this unexpected and ill-thought-out employer’s health levy.
The provincial Treasurer first responded to that by saying, “Well, I will give you a grant that will cover the last three months of the fiscal year, because you do not have time to adjust your whole revenue system to pay the tax, even though the tax starts on 1 January.” But that was really just an insult to them, because their obligations for the last nine months of 1990 for this tax -- and I understand that the Treasurer has promised, in appearing before the standing committee that examined this bill, to look into some further means of helping the municipalities. But he did not make any commitment to increase the grant to all these organizations, institutions and municipalities by the amount the employer’s health tax will cost them in calendar year 1990, and that is what they need.
The minister talked about the wonderful transfer of payments that the Treasurer just announced last week for a lot of these institutions, school boards, hospitals, colleges, universities and municipalities. But the usual regular grants and the increases in them are based on anticipated increases in the cost of providing services; they are not based on any consideration of the increase which will result from the employer’s tax levy.
For him to say, “Because you are getting an eight per cent increase in universities, you are all looked after,” is simply misleading the institutions and letting them think --
The First Deputy Chair: Excuse me, just for a moment. I wonder if you could find another choice of words than the ones you just have used. “Misleading” is unparliamentary.
Ms Bryden: I am sorry, Mr Chairman. I will just say that the organizations do not understand that the grants cover anything more than the regular transfer payments grants have covered in the past. Therefore, they are facing the situation, unless this amendment is passed, where they will have to try to find money from some other source, which will be the municipal taxpayers in most cases, and those municipal taxpayers can expect either cuts in services or future mill rate increases.
I want to point out that this is coming at the same time as the province is already asking the municipalities to take on a lot more services and responsibilities than they have in the past. The minister is not only asking them to take on providing the security services for their courts and some of their other correctional institutions, but he is asking them to provide money for additional educational programs, for training programs, for all sorts of welfare programs and for child care.
In all those fields the municipal organizations are being asked to take on more and more responsibilities which could be and should be the responsibilities of the province of Ontario, because the province has the tax sources to look after those fields which are largely affecting people rather than services in municipalities and which are very badly underfunded.
I include the school boards which do affect people and affect thousands of children, but are being underfunded in relation to their growing needs. So I would urge the members to take a good look at this amendment and say that it is counterproductive to tax those bodies because the government is simply going to have to help them in some way or another to raise the money, and it has not done that yet.
Mr Daigeler: Just very briefly, because I do not find it overly productive to go over the same question again and again and I know that the chairman agrees with my point of view on this matter, I simply want to say, very briefly, that the more exemptions generally in a tax, the more costly the tax collection becomes and therefore the more burden on the general taxpayers.
Second, as I indicated earlier, in order to be fair to all of the people in the province. I think all of the employers benefit from our excellent health care system and I think there is an obligation on what is called the MUSH factor, the municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, also to contribute their share to the costs.
Finally, as was indicated in fact by members opposite, the Treasurer has recognized and I am sure, with his usual generosity, will continue to recognize, some of the costs in his transfer payments and I am fully confident that this will continue.
The First Deputy Chair: Thank you. Are we ready for the question?
Mrs Marland has moved that subsection 2(1) of the bill be amended by inserting after the word “employer” and before the word “shall” the words: “except an employer who is a city, town, village, township or county within the meaning of and for the purposes of the Municipal Act [RSO 1980, chapter 302], a regional municipality, or a school board, hospital, college or university who shall be exempt from tax under this act.”
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour please say “aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The First Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that the bill be amended by deleting subsection 2(2) and substituting the following therefor:
“(2) The amount of the tax payable by the employer is an amount equal to the product of the total Ontario remuneration paid during the year less $400,000 multiplied by 1.95 per cent.”
I am afraid that is in contravention of standing order 54 and is out of order. Do you have another motion?
Mrs Marland: Yes, I do have another motion. Just before I move it, I want to say that the reason for the motion I am about to move is that a coalition of small business headed by the Canadian Organization of Small Business and including the Ontario Restaurant Association, the Retail Merchants Association and the Canadian Tire Dealers Association has lobbied for an exemption for all payrolls under $200,000 per year.
The coalition argues that such an exemption would make the employer health tax revenue-neutral and would reduce government and business administration costs by 85 per cent. Therefore, having the exemption for employers with annual payrolls of less than $200,000 would obviously make a great deal of economic sense and this amendment would be of very significant benefit to microfirms and small businesses.
There have been examples made by the Minister of Revenue as to what takes place in other provinces. I think it is important to tell the minister that, since he used examples of other provinces, I want to use an example in placing this amendment. The province of Manitoba in fact has a very generous exemption, which is actually $600,000. So they take in a lot of small to medium businesses.
I will move this amendment and certainly hope that the Liberal government will support it. I move that subsection 2(2) of the bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
“(2) The amount of the tax payable by the employer is an amount equal to the product of the total Ontario remuneration paid during the year less $400,000 multiplied by 1.95 per cent.”
The First Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that the bill be amended by deleting subsection 2(2) and the following substituted therefor:
“(2) The amount of the tax payable by the employer for the year is an amount equal to the product of the total Ontario remuneration paid multiplied by 1.95 per cent.”
I am going to have to rule that that too is in contravention of standing order 54. It is out of order.
Mrs Marland: May I ask you to tell me what that standing order says?
The First Deputy Chair: Standing order 54 makes it clear that only a minister of the crown can move any motion which requires a taxation measure or which calls for the spending of money.
Do you have any further amendments?
Mrs Marland: Yes, I do have, and in moving this next amendment on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus in this Legislature, I am still trying to protect small business. I think everyone in this Legislature understands very clearly that small business is the largest employer, the largest creator of jobs and employment in this province.
This employer health tax is going to be such a penalty and burden for them as employers that it will ultimately affect the jobs and the creation of new jobs in the province. In fact, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) said this afternoon that the dire consequences have not yet happened and he talked about the strongest selling point to attract industry to Ontario.
There will not be a very strong selling point to attract industry to Ontario, and I would hope that both the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Minister of Revenue would be very concerned about that because with this kind of imposition on everybody’s payroll, it is going to be very much a deterrent to attracting business.
Mrs Marland: I move that subsection 2(2) of the bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
“(2) The amount of tax payable by the employer for the year is an amount equal to the product of the total Ontario remuneration paid multiplied by 1.95 per cent.”
The First Deputy Chair: The chair has a problem. I do not have a copy of that amendment. It is similar in nature to the amendments that you have just proposed and I suggest it is going to meet the same fate, but I would like to have a copy of it.
Mrs Marland: I would be happy to give you a copy. I am sorry it was not with the original copies that were sent.
The First Deputy Chair: Perhaps the member for Mississauga South could assist me. This looks very much like an amendment that I have just ruled out of order. Perhaps you could point out the differences to me.
Mrs Marland: Yes, I will. The other two amendments included the amount of $400,000 and then $200,000. This does not give the global total figure.
The First Deputy Chair: I just dealt with the motion, and I will read it for the assistance of the House. You had moved that subsection 2(2) of the bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
“The amount of tax payable by the employer for the year is an amount equal to the product of the total Ontario remuneration paid multiplied by 1.95 percent.”
Unless I am missing something, that is exactly the same motion that I just ruled out of order, and it is out of order still.
Mrs Marland: I accept the ruling of the chair.
The First Deputy Chair: Now I have an indication that you do have an amendment to clause 2(2)(a). Would you care to put that one before us?
Mrs Marland: Yes, I do have an amendment to clause 2(2)(a) of the bill and, again, obviously we are attempting to protect the public, both employers and employees, who will be affected by this employer health tax. I guess what I might as well do before I move this is tear up all the amendments which are not acceptable and also which the government would not accept in terms of trying to protect the public.
No matter what various organizations say to this government, this government chooses not to listen. It obviously is bent, bound and determined to have whatever kind of taxation it wants and the employer health tax, I would suggest, is the same kind of imposition of tax that is impractical, unjust and totally unfair.
The First Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that clause 2(2)(a) be struck out.
For the information of members, this is one that might be considered a little marginal, but in the interest of proceeding with the debate, I think I would rather have the House rule this out of order by voting against it, rather than have the chair do it.
Members should also know that if there is any question in their minds about whether a motion would be in order, the people who serve at the table are always very happy to provide them with an opinion on whether something might be in order or not. So you should not feel that you have to come in here and gamble. You always have the right to put it, but if you are in doubt as to what would be in order or not, the table officers would be happy to assist you.
Any debate on the amendment proposed by Mrs Marland? There being none, I take it we are ready for the question.
All those in favour of Mrs Marland’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those who are opposed will please say nay.
In my opinion, the nays have it.
The First Deputy Chair: I believe Mrs Marland had indicated an amendment to subsection 2(5)?
Mrs Marland: Yes, I do. That is another amendment.
It is too bad we have so many trees being wasted this afternoon with the paper that is just floating right past the government. They are not interested at all in small business or the future of the economy of this province.
I do have an amendment to subsection 2(5). It is my understanding that the government will be introducing an amendment to delete subsection 2(5) as part of its effort to deal with the problem of the double-dipping in December.
When we talk about double-dipping here, we are talking about a very, very critical issue. We are talking about the fact that people in this province, through their OHIP premiums, the benefit packages with their employers, or whatever their way of paying for health insurance has been, those people have paid for December. It also happens that they have paid for January, February and March. This government is going to be, I understand, conceding, at least on one month. The Progressive Conservative amendment would also delete the offending subsection and replace it with provisions which speak to the concern that the employer health tax will very quickly become a new cash cow to be milked at the government’s convenience.
To deal with this concern, the amendment would freeze the rates established in section 2 of the bill for a three-year period and then submit the bill and the tax to a mandatory review two years after the tax rates established by the bill have come into force. The amendment, which would set up a quasi-sunset-review mechanism, is consistent with the Progressive Conservative Party’s position calling for the expanded use of sunset provisions.
I am hoping that in moving this amendment I will finally have the support of the government, if the government is going to move an amendment of its own to address the concern of the double taxation in December of the people of this province and since the government members -- namely, in one case, the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer, the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft), and a staff member of the Treasury -- in answer to my questions in committee, have admitted that for the first three months of 1990 they will have OHIP premiums prepaid to the amount of $435 million and they will also have an income from the employer health tax of over $500 million, just for those first three months. That is the double-dipping that is going to take place in January, February and March. What we are saying is, “Delete it.” Apparently the government is going to delete it for December. Why do they not acknowledge it and delete it for those first three months too?
The First Deputy Chair: Mrs Marland moves that subsection 2(5) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“2(5)(a) The rates of tax established by this section shall not be increased for a period of three years following the day on which the act receives royal assent.
“(b) After the rates of tax established by this act have been in force for a two-year period, the tax established by this act shall be referred to a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly.
“(c) The standing committee shall review the impacts of the tax established by this act on employers and employees, on job creation in the province and on municipalities, school boards, colleges, and universities and on the financing of the Ontario health care system.
“(d) The standing committee shall report its findings to the Legislative Assembly and shall make a recommendation as to whether this act should be continued unchanged, be amended or be repealed.”
I have a little problem with this. There is no subsection 2(5). If you will notice, in the bill as reprinted subsection 2(5) has been removed. What I could do that would assist you is suggest that you simply move that a subsection 2(5) be added. If you did that, it could stand. That is what you could do.
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
The First Deputy Chair: If you simply strike some words for me and suggest that subsection 2(5) be added, then the remainder will be all right.
Mrs Marland: I move that subsection 2(5) of the bill be added in the following form.
The First Deputy Chair: That is fine. Okay, are we clear on the amendment that is now before us? If you have a printed copy, we simply deleted some words at the beginning, but the substance of the amendment remains identical, and that is that you would add subsection 2(5). Is there any comment on the amendment?
Ms Bryden: I certainly think that this is a thoughtful amendment which would at least give the opportunity for the government to slow down and study the impact of this tax over a three-year period and have a standing committee of the Legislature report on findings of a review of the tax and its impacts over the next three years. But I am very worried about what will happen in those three years while we are waiting for the study. I am afraid that the tax will be so entrenched and many people will have adjusted their lives and their business activities in order to allow for this tax.
Many businesses may have gone out of business, such as many small businesses that cannot absorb this large increase in their costs. Many people who have different arrangements for operating their business, as between the owner and themselves as lessees, and their share of the employers tax may have also seriously affected their business operations. So I think it would not be a good idea to allow the tax to go in for a period of three years, even if it were frozen, and then try to unscramble the omelette after study by the Legislature.
I submit that the Legislature has had ample time to study this proposal. At least we did have substantial public hearings on it, although the number of days --l think it was about five -- was so short that the number of people who wanted to appear had to be cut to 15 minutes each. But many came and many expressed what was wrong with this employer health levy. They were not just businessmen, although they are badly affected because they are employers. It was also municipal ratepayers’ organizations that knew the effect was going to be passed on to them, the effect particularly on the municipalities and public institutions. The people who appeared to tell us what was wrong with it were people who arrange payroll deduction systems, and they knew it was going to be very disrupting to the present payroll deduction systems.
The government really has not studied how to improve the tax collection process. It is all so new to them for one thing. But why go to all the trouble of putting us through the ropes of having an employer’s health levy when there are other sources of revenue that the government has ignored? That is what our main objection to it is and therefore why we are not supporting a review.
I think the third party would also recognize that once you have the tax in place, it will be very difficult to adjust it. It will be very difficult to work out exemptions for those who really need exemptions, and we heard from a great many people at that standing committee. We have had the legislative committee review and it came out very badly for the government. I think the government should recognize that it should withdraw the tax because of what came out in that standing committee. I sat through, I think, 90 per cent of the hearings.
We know it is a very badly flawed tax and we know that it is going to have a very serious economic effect in the near future on many businesses. We know that it is going to have a very serious effect on small businesses and that it is going to be discriminatory against companies cannot absorb this large increase in their costs, which are labour-intensive. For all those reasons, I am really shocked that the government is considering a brand-new tax which is regressive, discriminatory and likely to cause or contribute to causing an economic slowdown for the next two or three years in this province.
This is certainly the wrong time to be adding to the costs of small businesses and large businesses. It is also the wrong time to be letting the people who are really making millions of dollars in profits, and are not going to be covered by this tax -- I mean the self-employed, the lawyers and doctors and the people with large professional number of fees -- pay nothing under this tax.
This, I think, is showing that we are not calling for a fair tax to replace the health premiums. We certainly approve of replacing the health premiums, because they have gotten into an awful mess under the previous governments and they regressive and unfair. We are glad they have accepted the New Democrats’ policy of removing health premiums, but we really disagree with the substitute that they have provided us with -- an untried, unknown regressive new tax -- and it will not touch really the people who pay progressive income taxes.
There is no increase in the corporation tax provided for in this. As I say, there is no increase in the taxes paid by the self-employed, except the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) did say he was putting a one percentage point surtax on this year on top of the two per cent in the last two years, but that is going to be paid by all of us whether we are self-employed or not. That is not really a special tax to cover the self-employed, shall we say.
But the worst feature of this tax also is that it is not earmarked for anything. The provincial Treasurer will still take it into his consolidated revenue fund and use it for whatever purpose he thinks fit. It may not go to health care, it may not go to helping the municipalities cover their share if they are going to be left under it. It may just go at the whim of the provincial Treasurer in his budget and then the appropriations that are voted in the Legislature, which he recommends in his budget.
I think we are buying a pig in a poke if we buy this tax as an answer to our health problems or to any other problems like the homeless and the need for more municipal services. We are not getting any guarantee and it is not good taxation. So I would not vote for the amendment.
Mr Daigeler: I would simply like to say to the mover of this particular amendment that the government is always happy to review any of its own initiatives. That is in fact what we have the various standing committees of the House for and that is in fact why, under the standing orders, the opposition has now an opportunity to raise any kind of questions that it would like and have them discussed by any standing committee for 12 hours. So there is ample opportunity for the opposition to raise any kind of questions that it wishes to raise. I look forward to having them bring this matter up in due course, and we will see whether the impact of this particular initiative is as drastic as the member is portraying it or whether, in fact, we will see a continued viable and sound support of our health care finances in the province.
So, in view of what already exists, I see no need at all to include this in the bill.
The First Deputy Chair: Are we ready for the question?
Mrs Marland: Excuse me, Mr Chairman. I hear very clearly the comments of the parliamentary assistant to the minister, but with respect, he is only addressing item (c) of my amendment. He ignored items (a) and (b).
I think, certainly, he is quite right; there can be a vehicle to review a matter for 12 hours on the wish of the opposition parties, but the important item here that he did not speak to is that this rate not be increased, that the rate of tax to pay for health care in the province not be increased for three years. Obviously, if the government does not support this amendment that the rate not be increased, the argument that I gave a few moments ago, that what the government is looking for is a cash cow to be milked at any time it needs some more money for its consolidated revenue fund, or to be dropping its little pennies around the province looking after everybody, maybe especially just prior to an election, those opportunities are going to be there.
If that is not what it wants the money for, then I would suggest it support the amendment which agrees to at least freezing the rate for three years, because I have no idea how businesses, public institutions and bodies which the government has now chosen not to exempt, municipalities and school boards, hospitals, colleges and universities, are going to budget for this health tax if they have no idea whether it is going to be two per cent this year, four per cent next year or whatever. If the government cannot agree, by supporting my amendment, that there would not be an increase for a period of three years, then I guess it must be saying to the public that it is going to be a flexible measure for collecting more money when it wishes.
The First Deputy Chair: Thank you. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, please say “aye.”
All those opposed, will please say “nay.”
Section 2 agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: I have an indication from the government that it has an amendment which it wishes to put to subsections 3(1) and 3(2). It is a matter of taxation and revenue and I am going to require a minister of the crown to move the motion. I believe that arrangements have been made to have that happen.
Hon Mr Ward moves that subsections 3(1) and (2) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(1) Every employer shall pay monthly instalments to the Treasurer at the prescribed time or times on account of the tax payable for the year under this act by the employer.
“(2) Despite subsection (1), a small employer for the year shall pay quarterly instalments to the Treasurer at the prescribed time or times on account of the tax payable for the year under this act by the small employer.”
Does the government have any introductory remarks on the amendment?
Mr Daigeler: This is a technical drafting change, which is consequential on the addition by the amendment of subsections 3(5) to (7).
The First Deputy Chair: Further comments on the amendment? The member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms Bryden: We appreciate the government’s being more specific about who shall pay quarterly and who shall pay monthly, but really, it does not spell out the exact dates of the remittances. It leaves it to prescription under the regulations by the government, so it is part of my objection to doing everything by regulation and by prescription. The government will simply say, “You must pay the tax on 15 January or 15 February,” and that is it.
There is really no opportunity for anybody to appeal that, but in this House we can suggest that perhaps it should not be as early as 15 January, in order to give people time to get used to the idea, and there will be many, many people who will not have been fully informed.
Meetings with the public will not have occurred by 15 January, if that is to be the month that will be prescribed; the same with the people who are on the quarterly remittance. They are the little people, the thousands of small people who are allowed to remit quarterly but who need a great deal of education. They will be people like those who pay the retail sales tax funds into the government and they find great difficulty in being informed on what their obligations are, how they prepare their form and what is covered and what is not.
You simply need a great deal of time and a great deal of education for those people, and I am very worried that the educational process is not broad enough. There will not be enough languages covered in the brochures and there will not be enough personal contact that people who do not understand the tax can make. I would have hoped that this clause would be more specific about customer service or taxpayer service, and a clarification through bills and educational meetings and that sort of thing.
Mr Villeneuve: I also find it, to some degree, annoying a bit that it will be monthly instalments to the Treasurer at prescribed times. It does not say here whether these prescribed times will jibe with, for instance, the monthly payments that employers have to send to the Unemployment Insurance Commission, Canada pension, etc. Will the government try to make it one and the same, or will this be a totally new set of bureaucratic conditions?
As members know, as governments get bigger and impose more of these requirements particularly on small businesses, ie, the agricultural community and related fields, small business in rural Ontario, it is creating a monster out there. We are not talking sales tax and what have you, because those are businesses that, to some degree, have it set up, but this is a monthly instalment at the whim of the Ministry of Revenue to be sent to the Treasurer.
I would certainly like to see a little more structure to this so that an employer would not have a date to meet his UIC, CPP and other commitments and then have a separate date, the middle of the month or whatever, to look after the particular health tax commitment. Who knows what will follow? I would like to see some structure here that would jibe into what existing payment schedules to governments would be.
The First Deputy Chair: Any further debate on the amendment? Are we ready for the question?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: I believe we have some further amendments.
Mr Daigeler: Yes, Mr Chairman. I have an amendment to subsections 3(5), (6) and (7), and I think this particular amendment should satisfy, to a certain extent at least, the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Daigeler moves that section 3 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
“(5) Any amount required by this act to be remitted to the minister or paid to the Treasurer is remitted or paid upon,
“(a) receipt of the remittance or payment by the Ministry of Revenue;
“(b) receipt and acceptance of the remittance or payment by a branch of a bank or other financial institution that accepts and undertakes to forward to the minister such remittances and payments.
“(6) For the purposes of this section, the prescribed time at which an employer shall pay instalments to the Treasurer on account of the tax payable by the employer under this act for 1990 is,
“(a) the 15th day of each month in 1990 if the employer is required to make monthly instalments on account of the tax payable for 1990; and
“(b) the 15th days of April, July and October, 1990, and the 15th day of January, 1991, if the employer is a small employer for 1990.
“(7) Despite subsection (3), in applying the formula contained in that subsection to determine the amount of the monthly instalment that may be payable by an employer on January 15, 1990, ‘T’ may be read as the total Ontario remuneration paid by the employer during December, 1989 or the total Ontario remuneration that has been or will be paid by the employer during January, 1990.”
Comments on the amendment?
Mr Daigeler: Very briefly. This particular amendment provides the opportunity for tax banking. It provides that instalments for large employers to be monthly and for small employers quarterly, plus it permits large employers the option of basing their January tax payment on the December payroll or on the January 1990 payroll.
Ms Bryden: This does set definitely 15 January 1990 for the first employer contribution. As I said in my last comments, it is much too early for employers who will not have learned very much about the tax and how it works and the coverage, and who may be asking questions during that whole month in order to find out exactly what their liability is.
I know there is a settling up at the end of the following fiscal year, but I think the government should have forgone that early influx of cash. It will get it ultimately anyway and it should have let the employers have another month, to 15 February anyway, before they had to remit.
I also notice that this really is partly to facilitate the elimination of subsection 2(5), which was done by the government when this bill was in committee, in order to stop the hue and cry which was coming from many employers about their having to make a December payment, or a payment on account of December. Very cleverly, the government got around that hue and cry by just removing all references to December and saying the tax and its application starts 1 January 1990.
I think most people agreed that when you are withdrawing premiums on 1 January 1990, you should not start your tax before you have actually withdrawn premiums because you are not having to replace premium incomes before that date.
I will say also, of course, that it does bring up the other item that we have been talking about, and that is that there is still a requirement in the act that OHIP premiums paid in December by people who were billed prior to 31 December will still pay for medical care costs, to the extent of people who are covered by OHIP, into the first three months of 1990. Opposition members have told the minister this is an immoral act, to charge the people for the first three months of 1990 when premiums are clearly abolished as of 1 January 1990 in the act. I think that we simply cannot let the government get away without a commitment to remove that unfair and immoral demand on many, many people of very low income. A lot of the people who pay in December on the three-month instalment are people of low income, single parents, people who are self-employed but have low incomes, and also many employers who pay on behalf of their employees. They are all being milked for an extra three months of OHIP premiums.
No matter what the government says, it simply cannot deny that is what it is doing. I will say that I am bringing in amendments, in sections 40 and 41, to try to prevent that from happening. I hope when we get to them I will be given an opportunity to deal with them as a pair, because they are a pair, and to show that they are a possible remedy to this unfair taking of premiums from people who should not have a responsibility for any OHIP care or premiums after 1 January 1990. I fail to see how the government cannot see that point, that it is on very shifty ground when it says that it has always collected them three months in advance.
Let me just read to members the statement that the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) is sending out to these premium payers. She is really demanding that they do pay for those extra three months. No matter how the government says it is not demanding it, it is, and I think it is an unfair collection that should be returned to any who have paid. The Minister of Health says:
“As announced in the 1989 Ontario budget, OHIP premium payments will be eliminated effective January 1, 1990. This means that after you pay the amount indicated on the enclosed notice, you will not be billed again for OHIP premiums. As always, premiums are payable three months in advance. After March 31, 1990, as long as you remain a resident of Ontario, your coverage will be valid without further payments.”
In that letter she has admitted that the people are paying three months’ premiums that they should not be paying, but she is relying on some tradition that they always were billed three months ahead. She then goes on to say, “You are still covered by OHIP whether or not you are a premium payer.”
Also, in the paper just the other day there was a headline saying “OHIP Premiums Owed Till April, Caplan Admits,” and she did reiterate what had really been said by her in that letter. So on the question of whether people should pay or not and whether they would lose their coverage, there has been a lot of discussion about that, but two of her officials also were quoted on that same day as saying that they were expecting the December payments for premiums to be sent in and there was no suggestion that they should not be required to send them in.
Again, I think the government is on very slippery ground. It is going to be collecting, I understand, $425 million extra in January, after premiums are abolished, from premium payers. I think that is just immoral. I warn the government that I will be introducing an amendment under sections 40 and 41 on that subject.
On motion by Mr Ward, the committee of the whole House reported progress.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
ROYAL ASSENT / SANCTION ROYALE
Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.
The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 49, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information and Protection of Individual Privacy in Municipalities and Local Boards;
Projet de loi 49, Loi prévoyant l’accès à l’information et la protection de la vie privée dans les municipalités et les conseils locaux ;
Bill 52, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Enactment of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989;
Bill 64, An Act to amend the Education Act and certain other Acts related to Education Assessment;
Bill 65, An Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board Act, 1988;
Projet de loi 65, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1988 sur le Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton ;
Bill 69, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984;
Bill 70, An Act to amend the Evidence Act;
Bill 79, An Act to amend Various Statutes in connection with information to be filed and records to be kept by Corporations and Limited Partnerships;
Bill 81, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984;
Bill 84, An Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 and certain other Acts in respect of Confidentiality Provisions;
Bill 92, An Act to amend Fines and Terms of Imprisonment contained in certain Acts;
Bill Pr37, An Act respecting Fort Erie Lions Senior Citizens Complex Inc;
Bill Pr45, An Act respecting Ontario Midwestern Railway Company Limited;
Bill Pr46, An Act to revive Ontario Mortgage Brokers Association;
Bill Pr52, An Act to revive Homes Unlimited (London) Inc;
Bill Pr54, An Act respecting The Brantford and Southern Railway Company Inc;
Bill Pr56, An Act to revive Times Change Women’s Employment Service Inc.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
Au nom de Sa Majesté, Son Honneur le lieutenant-gouverneur sanctionne ces projets de loi.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, next week’s business is as follows:
Following routine proceedings on Monday 18 December we will have the deferred vote on third reading of Bill 36, followed by royal assent and then any unfinished business from the previous week; second reading of Bills 74, 75, 63 and 62; committee of the whole House on Bills 62, 86, 95 and 47; second reading of Bills 60, 94 and 91; committee of the whole on Bill 91. Any divisions on that day are expected to take place at 5:45.
Between the hours of eight and midnight, we will continue with any unfinished business of the day.
On Tuesday 19 December, we will deal with any previously unfinished business and third reading of Bills 86, 95, 119, 34, 15, 62, 63, 74, 75, 90, 101, 102, 91, 94, 46, 47, 48 and 60; following that, an estimates concurrence debate.
We will have a night sitting to complete any previously unfinished business between the hours of eight and midnight.
On Wednesday 20 December -- I will be bringing in a motion on Monday -- we expect that we may have a morning sitting between the hours of 10 and 12. In the afternoon, we will deal with any previously unfinished business, any remaining third readings, including Bill 66, concluding the budget debate and a supply bill.
On Thursday 21 December, we will deal with any unfinished business, if necessary.
The House adjourned at 1803.