The House met at 1330.
OSHAWA GENERALS JUNIOR A HOCKEY CLUB
Mr Breaugh: I am sure the members will want to join me in congratulating the Oshawa Generals, the Memorial Cup champions.
Hon Mr Sweeney: You were lucky.
Mr Breaugh: The member for Kitchener-Wilmot says, “You were lucky.” If so, we were lucky six times in a row. Six times in a row we beat the Kitchener team, in two double over-times. We would have played all night and still had the same result.
It was a very fine Memorial Cup championship round. The Copps Coliseum was an excellent venue for the Memorial Cup this year. The competition was very good. I want to pay some credit to the Kitchener team. That is a good hockey club that did not quit. It went into double overtime again last night. About four minutes into the second overtime, Bill Armstrong did what a good defenceman is supposed to do: he put the puck in the net.
We are proud of this hockey club because it plays the game the way it is supposed to be played, with a great deal of skill. They work hard. They have great heart. We are proud of them when they win and proud of them when they lose, but it is a whole lot nicer when they win.
This afternoon we are going to go to the Civic Auditorium. If the members were smart, this afternoon, instead of doing what they are going to do all afternoon, they would adjourn this place and come to Oshawa to the Civic Auditorium, because there is going to be just about as good a time there this afternoon as there was at the Copps Coliseum last night about 11:45, when everybody stood up and cheered and had a great time for a great hockey team, the Oshawa Generals.
Mrs Marland: Many members of the Legislature will have had an opportunity to speak with Ontario high school students who have collectively developed a vision for Ontario’s future in the year 2020. Their work has been published by the non-profit organization Public Focus as a book called Visions 2020 -- Ontario’s Youth, Ontario’s Future.
The Visions 2020 program was developed in response to Our Common Future, the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Six thousand students from schools across Ontario developed goals for the world they would like to live in 30 years from now. The students voted on the goals and each school submitted its three preferred goals to be included in the report.
We need more projects like Visions 2020 that bring our young people -- our future -- into the decision-making process. This project hopes to expand into a national program for the 1990-91 school year to help students develop a goal for a healthier Canada. I strongly encourage our federal government counterparts to give the project their full support.
Members of this House who have read Visions 2020 are impressed and touched by the passion of the students’ visions, as well as their mature knowledge and understanding of our world’s problems and potential. As legislators, we have an opportunity to work with these students to help them turn their visions into reality. It is a chance we cannot afford to pass up. Visions 2020 is one of the keys to our future.
Mr Ballinger: Recently the Elementary Teachers’ Association -- York Region selected a constituent of mine, Ken Huntington, as the top elementary schoolteacher in all of York region.
Mr Huntington, a resident of Beaverton in Brock township, was selected recipient of the coveted Timothy S. Roebuck Award. This special recognition was named in honour of a dedicated retired school superintendent, Timothy Roebuck, who devoted his entire career in education in pursuit of excellence.
This distinguished award is given annually to the teacher in York region “who has demonstrated an ability to inspire love of learning in students, the ability to work co-operatively with fellow professionals, the willingness to devote time and energy to children, the community, and to keep abreast of, and contribute to, educational theories and practices.”
According to Linda Logan-Smith, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Association -- York Region, Ken’s contributions to the teaching profession have been outstanding and he has set an example for all teachers to emulate. For 18 years, teaching all grades and most subjects, Ken has inspired students in Newmarket, Keswick and in his current position in guidance at Sutton Public School.
As the member of the Legislature for the riding of Durham-York, I would like to add my personal congratulations to Ken Huntington for being selected the top elementary schoolteacher in York region.
Mr Farnan: This Liberal government has betrayed the women of Ontario. When Ontario’s Pay Equity Act became law in 1987, the Ontario Legislature acknowledged the injustice of the fact that some women would not benefit from the legislation because of the lack of a male job title within their workplaces with which the jobs of these women could be compared.
To rectify this injustice, the Pay Equity Commission was given a mandate to thoroughly study the issue and make recommendations. In October 1989 the commission made its recommendations, which, had they been acted upon, would have extended the benefits of pay equity to all women covered by the act. Unfortunately, the Minister of Labour has rejected two of three proposals by the Pay Equity Commission to amend the Pay Equity Act.
The government amendments to the act do not go far enough. By his own admission, 105,000 women will be excluded because they do not have male comparators. These are in addition to the over 500,000 women already excluded by the act. Many Cambridge nurses and child care workers have registered with me their dissatisfaction with this Liberal government’s second-class treatment of women.
The Pay Equity Commission’s recommendations of a proxy comparison system for those women whose jobs have no male comparator within the workplace would resolve this matter. Nurses and child care workers and other women excluded by the act will demand a political price for the injustice to which they are being subjected.
Mr Wiseman: I stand today to recognize an individual who has been one of the leading forces in the development of Ontario’s cultural society. William Withrow has given 30 years of leadership to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Mr Withrow joined the Art Gallery of Ontario, which was called the Art Gallery of Toronto in those days, in 1960 as the associate director and became the director in 1961, a position he holds today.
Under Mr Withrow’s care and guidance the permanent collection has grown from 3,429 pieces to some 15,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. He has overseen three gallery expansions to accommodate the collection, which includes such masters as Rembrandt and the work of Canadian artists dating back to the 18th century.
In addition to lectures, tours, children’s programs and concerts given regularly at the gallery, the AGO reaches into communities across Ontario and Canada. Last year 250,000 people in 32 Ontario communities enjoyed travel exhibitions organized by the gallery extension services.
Mr Withrow served during the Second World War, is a member of the Order of Canada and the founding president of the Canadian Art Museums Directors’ Organization. I am sure all members join me in wishing him well.
Mr Callahan: Once again, it is Carabram time approaching fast and furious. It will be held on 6, 7 and 8 July in the great city of Brampton. I would like to invite each and every one of the members of this House to sample some of the sights, tastes, sounds and costumes of the people in the 16 pavilions at a reception, once again being hosted this year by the Minister of Citizenship, following up on the honesty and fairness of our previous minister, the member for Scarborough-Agincourt, when he hosted such a reception.
I invite all members to attend in room 247 between 5:30 and 7 o’clock in the evening on 25 June 1990. I particularly invite each and every member, if they can visit the great city of Brampton for this festival, to join with myself, my counterpart the member for Brampton North, the Minister of Labour and his wife and the Minister of Citizenship and his wife on Saturday evening, 7 July, to tour some of these pavilions.
It is an opportunity to travel virtually around the world, to savour the sights, sounds and tastes without leaving Brampton. Members are certainly within fast running time back to Brampton or any other place. If they are outside the metropolitan area, they can get a plane from Pearson International Airport very easily.
I invite members to come. It is probably one of the most successful festivals in Ontario. It is one that should be emulated around Ontario, around Canada and perhaps around the world, to teach us understanding of one another’s cultures.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The pitch-in program is sponsored jointly by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Ministry of the Environment. This last week a great 1970s idea came face to face with 1990s realities when a friend of mine, a teacher at Samuel Hearne school in Scarborough, Dave Harris, was inadvertently pricked by a syringe as he was picking up garbage with some of his students behind a restaurant on Danforth Avenue.
I am now shocked to discover that no guidelines are given to teachers and school boards about how this program should be undertaken. There are no instructions about how to deal with pesticides, herbicides, solvents, condoms or syringes that kids may run into as they are out there and put at jeopardy. Many of these schools do not even dispense gloves to the children, although the gloves that David was wearing certainly did not protect him when he was pricked by this syringe, and now has had to have HIV testing and a number of tetanus shots.
Municipal workers do not have to touch the garbage. They are well protected with outer clothing, shovels and brooms that are at arm’s length, but we put our little children at risk with no age controls at all. In fact, people proudly talk about day-care-aged children being involved in this program.
I think it is time that boards of education, public health officers and parents turned to the Minister of the Environment and demanded that we get some standards, so that we get not only environmental consciousness-raising but some health and safety consciousness-raising as well in our schools with this program.
NATIONAL TOURISM WEEK
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation and it concerns National Tourism Week, which runs from today, 14 May, to 20 May.
This is a time when we all should be focusing our attention on the strengths and many accomplishments of Ontario’s tourism and hospitality industry, which is capable of generating unparalleled economic and employment opportunities. It is an industry that can reduce this province’s travel deficit and attract our rightful share of world travel and tourism revenues. It can do all this for the minister and yet he is doing nothing for it.
As a result of the minister’s ineffective and inefficient representation of this vital segment of Ontario’s economy, we have seen the tourism industry’s revenue drop by $3.25 billion and the loss of 30,000 full-time jobs in 1989. We have seen trips by the people of Ontario in their own province decline by 27.8%, while we have seen the numbers of Ontarians visiting the United States increase by 38.4%.
Ontario’s tourism industry asked the minister and the Treasurer for help in the 24 April budget. The minister and Treasurer gave them nothing.
I think that while we are celebrating National Tourism Week, from 14 May to 20 May, we should also be helping what was once a vital, strong and important segment of Ontario’s economy. It will continue to decline as long as the minister’s government continues to ignore it. What a shameful state of affairs.
I would like to congratulate all those who work to promote tourism in Ontario.
Mr Miclash: It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to pay tribute to Michael Smith, an outstanding athlete from the Kenora region.
In February 1990, Michael set a new Canadian record for the decathlon by accumulating 8,525 points on his way to winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal for this event in Auckland, New Zealand. He is being described as a great athlete around the world.
Michael Smith has brought credit and recognition, not only to Canada but also to his family and his community. At 22, he has been the epitome of hard work and excellence. He has become a role model for youth around the world and especially for those in northwestern Ontario.
We in Kenora are extremely proud of Michael, and in recognition for his contribution to his country and community, the town of Kenora has declared Wednesday 16 May 1990 as Michael Smith Day. Events that day will include a parade and dinner in honour of this outstanding individual. I am happy to say that I will be among those paying tribute to Michael on that day.
At this time, I would request the House to join me in acknowledging the outstanding achievements of this great athlete.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Offer: It gives me pleasure to announce that, beginning today, our province is recognizing Police Week, a national tradition of 20 years. I ask all members of this House to join me in expressing our appreciation to all police officials who serve us so well.
As Solicitor General, I recognize the tremendous challenges faced by today’s police officers as they work to provide the citizens of this province with safe and secure communities. Our police officers are often the first line of contact between the public and the justice system in Ontario. This is a difficult position to be in, which challenges the best that they have to offer on a daily basis.
Every day, police officers put their lives on the line in the service of others. It is all too easy to take them for granted and only give them an appreciative thought when we need their assistance during an emergency situation. But the responsibilities carried by today’s police officers have increased dramatically from their traditional role. Today, many new responsibilities have been added, such as crime prevention, public education and community relations.
Today’s police officers deal with critical social issues such as drug awareness, drinking and driving, driver safety, multicultural relations, as well as sexual assault and assistance to victims of domestic violence. Today’s police officers are part of, not apart from, our communities. Increasingly, they are taking a leadership role in partnership with community agencies to define needs and implement community service programs. In keeping with this concept, the chosen theme for this year’s Police Week is “Partners for a Better Community.”
We are putting many new demands upon our men and women in blue. However, Ontario’s police are meeting these new responsibilities without hesitation and with the highest level of professionalism.
Police Week is a time to recognize their achievements. During Police Week many of the 118 municipal police forces and 182 Ontario Provincial Police detachments order special events in their communities to highlight their work and to provide opportunities for the community and the police to get to know each other in a positive and informal setting.
I would urge all members to give their wholehearted support to Police Week. They can do this by participating in one of the events organized by their local police force.
Police services in Ontario rank among the finest in the world. It is therefore with great pride that I ask all members of this House to take a moment during this special week to recognize the police who serve their community.
Hon Mr Kwinter: I am pleased to advise the House that I was in Windsor on Friday to participate in the Ford Motor Co of Canada Ltd announcement that it will build a $59-million aluminium casting plant in that city. This unique plant will pioneer a new production process and when completed will employ a total workforce of 138 skilled and semiskilled workers.
The Ontario government is proud to take part in the development of this new plant with a $9-million training and building assistance package. Of this total, $1.2 million will be allocated to help Ford with infrastructure development costs. This is in keeping with the shift in emphasis from ministry funding for incentive programs to targeted infrastructure support that will benefit local community development. The government is committing the remainder of the money, $7.8 million, to support a specialized skills training program for the workers at the plant.
As was identified by the Premier’s Council, worker training will be one of the key human resource challenges of the 1990s. Developing our workforce will be our single most effective strategic weapon for improving our competitive ability in the global marketplace. Workers at the Ford plant will be equipped with problem-solving and communications skills in addition to job-specific skills. The development of this comprehensive training program will involve co-operation between my ministry, the ministries of Skills Development and Colleges and Universities, Ford, the community colleges and the Canadian Auto Workers union. Employee hiring and training will begin this year.
Ford estimates that it will commit $9 million to research and development capital at the plant. In addition, Ford expects to see other expenditures in new production line designs, tooling modifications and robotics. The benefits of the new casting plant will not stop at the plant gate. The economic impact of this investment should spread throughout the community and eventually generate advanced industrial spinoffs for other companies in Windsor. This investment decision by Ford and our commitment to it are a clear vote of confidence for Windsor and the automotive sector.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and say that we certainly were happy on Friday to hear this good news. I would like to congratulate CAW Local 200 for the very positive role it played in negotiating amendments to the collective agreement that were very substantially responsible for Ford coming to Windsor. I think that might have been missed by the minister -- the very important role that the union played.
I would, however, like to say to the minister that while we appreciate the involvement of the provincial government, this is only 138 jobs. With a potential spinoff of even one and a half jobs more, we are still talking about a very small number of jobs in a community that just in the last few weeks through plant closures has lost well over 500 jobs. Our unemployment rate has fluctuated considerably over the last few months -- it has been as high as 13% -- and we must understand very clearly the very substantial problems in the auto parts sector in Canada.
As the minister knows, before the free trade agreement there was a requirement for 60% Canadian content. Under the free trade agreement there is a requirement for 50% North American content. That will result -- and we have already seen it -- in a substantial shift to Mexico of the low-technology auto parts sector that currently exists in Ontario. Several consultants have said that as much as 50% of the auto parts sector in Ontario can be expected to shut down and move to Mexico by the turn of the century.
The challenges in the auto parts sector are very substantial in communities like Windsor, which are one-industry towns extremely dependent on the auto parts sector and the auto assembly sector. They are going to require more than 138 jobs and a much better strategy by this government.
We still remember that, when we had the last provincial election, the Premier came to Windsor and made his response to the free trade agreement where he said there would be no agreement if the auto pact was going to be threatened. Well, the auto pact was not just threatened by the free trade agreement; the auto pact was gutted by the free trade agreement. Yet Ontario did absolutely nothing of any substance to stop the free trade agreement even though the Liberals went to the people in 1987 and said they needed a mandate to stop free trade. They got that mandate with 95 seats out of 130 and then they just laid down and allowed the free trade agreement to come into force.
Southern Ontario, and Windsor in particular, is going to be and has already been hurt substantially by this agreement. It is not going to do for the member to just come down to Windsor and announce 138 jobs. a $9-million subsidy to a very profitable corporation -- and the jobs will not even take place for three years.
The other thing is, if this government is serious about helping out the community of Windsor, then it will do something much more substantial in its own backyard, and that is with the public sector jobs. We have about 800 of them in Windsor. London, up Highway 401, has nearly 4,000. London has one of the lowest unemployment rates in all of Canada; Windsor has one of the highest unemployment rates. If the government really wants to do something to help us diversify our economy, it should shift some of those public sector jobs to Windsor and help stimulate our economy in Windsor.
Mr Kormos: We of course join with the Solicitor General in celebrating Police Week for 1990 and in paying tribute to police officers, men and women across Ontario, both in municipal police forces and in our Ontario Provincial Police Force, for the outstanding job they do, a job that they do not because of, but oftentimes in spite of, what this government has done to policing here in the province of Ontario.
Policing has never been more complex. It has never been more difficult. Indeed, it is fair to say that it has never been more dangerous. At the same time, the community has never been more demanding of its police forces.
In view of that and in the face of that, this government is consistent in an agenda which day after day, month after month, year after year is pulling the rug out from underneath police forces in communities across Ontario. Police forces are radically underfunded. Police forces have burdens placed on them now as a result of Bill 187 and this government’s insistence that municipal police forces have forced upon them the responsibility for policing in the courts without there being any appropriate funding of those municipalities for the extra responsibilities. Police officers are doing their very best in communities across Ontario to engage in a war against drugs and drug trafficking, but videotapes do not permit the police to shut down drug traffickers.
The fact is that if this government is going to be serious about the role of progressive policing in Ontario, it had better be prepared to start committing some real funds to that role.
Mr Runciman: The members of the Progressive Conservative caucus would like to join with the government and the NDP members in expressing our appreciation to policemen and policewomen across this province, who do indeed serve us all so well. I want to say, though, that we have some very real concerns about what is happening in respect to policing and, generally, law and order in Ontario.
My new leader, our party’s new leader since Saturday, the member for Nipissing, mentioned his concerns about the fact that he now has to streetproof his five-year-old son. There are growing concerns in this province, and I think they are legitimate.
I had a police sergeant from Metropolitan Toronto phone my office a number of months ago saying that police morale has never been so low in the 30 years he has served in policing in the province. In 30 years he has never seen morale so low.
We are talking about recent surveys showing that 50% of women are afraid, are really afraid, to go out into the streets in the evenings. We have other statistics indicating increases in violent crime on the TTC in Metropolitan Toronto. We have the wife of the mayor of Toronto, Brenda Eggleton, saying she is afraid to walk in High Park at any time in the day, indicating she is afraid with respect to the decrease in law and order and the effectiveness of policing in the city of Toronto.
We have seen violent crime in Metropolitan Toronto increase by 47.9% -- that is a statistic; that is a fact -- in the four and a half years the Liberals have been in office. On an Ontario-wide basis, we have seen violent crime increase by close to 37% in the time the Liberal Party has held office in this province. From 1985 to 1989, again during the Liberal reign in Ontario, we have seen drug offences in this province increase by 80%.
What do we see happening in respect to the Liberal government’s reaction? We see the Attorney General chastising police officers who criticized a judge for letting drug pushers out in the street. That is what we see the Liberal government doing. What kind of impact does that have on police morale across this province? The reality is that 95% of illicit drugs coming into this country end up on the streets. We want to talk about where this government’s priorities lie.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Runciman: Its priorities lie in placing an army of police on Highway 401 -- thousands of police -- with their radar detectors and in the doubling and tripling of speeding fines. We are concerned about highway safety. We are seeing women attacked on the 401. We are seeing significant crime increases right across this province. Where do the Liberal government’s priorities lie in respect to law and order in this province? They are certainly wrong.
We see the police in this province outgunned and out-manned at every turn. When they talk about doing away with the .38 revolver, increasing their ability to deal on an equivalent basis with the criminal faction in this province, they are turned down flat by the Solicitor General. There is no empathy, no support, for the problems faced by the cop on the beat in this province.
It is about time this Liberal government faced up to its responsibilities, increased the funding and gave the manpower and the equipment necessary to do the job of effectively fighting crime in Ontario.
The Speaker: Order. Are you enjoying wasting the time?
The Speaker: Order. It is your time.
Mr Reville: My question this afternoon is to the Minister of Health. Thursday afternoon a 25-year-old woman named Marlies Bannister entered the emergency ward of the Ajax and Pickering General Hospital. She was 25 weeks into her pregnancy. The attending doctor, Dr McIntyre, realized that he would need a special care unit if the delivery was to be successful. He called the neonatal hotline for better than two hours. Three and a half hours later the young woman was flown to Kingston and regrettably the doctor there was unable to save the child. I wonder if the Minister of Health could explain how this could have happened.
Hon Mrs Caplan: Certainly for any family which has experienced a tragedy such as this it is a very sad time. I am pleased to give the member opposite what details I can about how the registry works. I would start off by telling him that the mortality rate for infants at 25-week gestation is extremely high; these are considered very high risk.
The information we have is that the doctor contacted the registry system at 5:40. It was determined within 15 minutes or so that a bed was available in London. High winds prevented the transfer to London. A bed was found at Kingston General Hospital and the patient was transferred there and arrived over an hour before the delivery actually took place.
In these kinds of situations it is extremely important for everyone to realize that highly specialized service is what is sought, as not all hospitals are able to provide this service. The ministry’s co-ordinator has investigated and determined that in fact the system did work.
Mr Reville: The results clearly were not desirable. This is not a new situation in the province. It is clearly the most horrible tragedy that could have occurred for this young woman. Members of the opposition raised this problem on 5 January 1988, 17 November 1988 and 1 March 1989. We had a series of ministerial communiqués which were to respond to the instances that we raised, and still the system seems not to have worked very well. The minister will recall telling me in January 1988 that two level 3 perinatal units were located in Metropolitan Toronto and one in Hamilton, as well as the one in London that might have been able to take the mother had the winds not been so bad.
You have to wonder how it could have been that there was no capacity in a hospital closer than Kingston. How could that be?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think what is important to focus on is the fact that we have a network in place and also that we are world leaders in perinatal service. Our success rate in keeping more infants alive has been increasing substantially since regionalization of perinatal services and the introduction of the perinatal bed registry. In 1979 there were 12.1 deaths per 1,000 births, and this rate had dropped to 8.7 per 1,000 by 1985.
The system is such that all of the centres are connected and when a physician calls the registry he is directed to the nearest available highly specialized service. In this case, the patient was transported, she arrived prior to delivery and from everything that we can determine she received the best of care.
Mr Reville: The minister has tried to do this to the opposition before and flim-flam us on the perinatal-neonatal difference. In fact, what the doctor was looking for in this case was a neonatal unit. The minister thinks it was a perinatal unit. Clearly one of us is not correct, and I leave it to the people of Ontario to decide on the record who is more likely to be correct in this case.
The family knows that the minister’s system did not work for it. Clearly, in spite of the announcements over the past couple of years that this is one of the focus areas or one of the target areas for the government, there is still a problem. It seems to me that the problem has to be in the supply of critical care nurses. The minister has failed to deal with that problem at all in a meaningful way, in spite of all the co-ordinators she may appoint.
When will the minister ensure that the perinatal and neonatal units that we do have are staffed by nurses who can in fact provide the level of care that is needed?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The whole purpose of the registry is to make sure that a high-risk mother gets access to the very highly specialized services that she needs prior to giving birth. In this particular case, which unfortunately did not have a successful ending, the mother did get access to the perinatal service at Kingston General Hospital. The system found not one bed, but two. I would say to the member opposite that in fact the system did work.
POLICE COMMISSION NOMINATION
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Deputy Premier. We find out this weekend, as a result of the Globe and Mail obtaining a copy of a letter from the Attorney General to the Solicitor General of the day back in 1986, that indeed the Attorney General endorsed Elvio DelZotto for a position on the Ontario Police Commission. The Premier told us last summer in this House, in June 1989, that neither the Premier nor the Attorney General supported the nomination of Elvio DelZotto. In view of the fact that there is a letter dated 9 May 1986 from that Attorney General to the Solicitor General of the day endorsing Elvio DelZotto, how is it that the Premier could have said that last June?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am sure that the Premier, when he answered the question, said what was the truth, as he always does.
Mr Kormos: The statement of the Premier to the House was that the only record is a letter from Ms Starr to the Attorney General. We know now that the Attorney General similarly wrote to the Solicitor General. Now, we are not talking about an unknown. Elvio DelZotto was well known in the Liberal Party, he is well known in the province of Ontario, both in the development industry and otherwise; why Judge Waisberg said he was well known back in Judge Waisberg’s inquiry into crime and violence in the construction industry back in 1974. So we are not dealing with just another nameless face in the crowd; we are dealing with a very prominent, obviously powerful person.
I will ask the Deputy Premier once again: In view of the fact that the letter from the Attorney General of Ontario to the Solicitor General is in the possession of the Globe and Mail, how could the Premier tell us in June of 1989 that the Attorney General did not endorse when in fact there was a letter confirming that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think it might be helpful if I just reminded the honourable member, who is getting quite exercised about this matter, that Mr DelZotto, whatever his capabilities, was not appointed to the police commission.
Mr Kormos: Through no effort on the part of either the Attorney General or the Premier, because indeed it was several months later, in August 1986, when a Mr Dubro telephoned the Premier’s office, some three months after the letter from the Attorney General to the Solicitor General recommending DelZotto, and Mr Dubro was told by the Premier’s office that, yes, the DelZotto nomination was still very much alive and well and was being considered for appointment to the Ontario Police Commission.
I am not going to say that the Premier lied back in June 1986 because that would be grossly improper and that is the only reason why I am not going to say that, but I put this to the Deputy Premier: How could the Premier be so grossly inaccurate and not bother to correct himself when indeed the facts prove him to have been so grossly inaccurate about the Attorney General’s endorsement of Elvio DelZotto?
Hon R. F. Nixon: There is nothing to indicate that the Premier answered to the House anything other than what he knew and believed to be correct and I am sure that this is a clear consideration that the honourable member, whom I would not want to call irresponsible, might take into consideration.
Mrs Cunningham: I have a question for the Minister of Health. David Munro, the 32-year-old son of a physician in London, died recently, just a day ago, in hospital here in Toronto. He was on a waiting list for some surgery for over a year for an infected heart valve. He was only 32 years old. We know we have challenges in our system. We talk about priorities and the quality of life and we talk about priorities and programs that should be available to everyone in Ontario. He was promised that the surgery would not be too late and, tragically, this was not the case. His father said that the health care system cannot treat people with promises. The minister must share our concern. What went wrong and what is she going to do about it?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I spoke to the surgeon in this particular case just this afternoon. He informed me that in fact a surgical date was offered in January to Mr Munro and he chose to wait until spring to have his surgery.
Mr Eves: The minister likes to quote in this House from time to time Dr Keon in Ottawa, as she has done on previous occasions. He is quoted in the media over the weekend as saying, “We are meeting with provincial health officials to discuss the implementation of a province-wide central registry for cardiovascular surgery patients, which will do away with the situation which happened in the case of David Munro, who was on the list for over a year.
Mr Eves: He was not on the list for over a year? Well, that is not what his father says; that is not what Dr Keon says either. How can it be that we are now getting around to addressing this in May 1990 when the minister stood up in this House on 9 June 1988, almost two full years ago, and told us she had solved this entire problem; there was no problem; she had solved it?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I will repeat again what I responded to the member for London North. In fact, a surgery date was made available to Mr Munro in January. He was an elective patient and he chose -- the surgeon told me this himself this morning -- he chose to wait until spring to have his surgery.
I am pleased that the member opposite has given me an opportunity to focus on the very important cardiovascular network that we are developing in this province. We have been working with cardiac surgeons and specialists from across the province to link together, both on a regional basis and on a province-wide basis, the facilities, having common definitions so that we could offer both patients and physicians the information they need so patients could have more choices available to them.
Mr Eves: I have a supplementary to the minister about this problem throughout the province of Ontario with respect to cardiovascular surgery. Since she made her announcement of 9 June 1988, the following people have died on the waiting list:
Brendan McLean, October 1988; Richard Rutter, October 1988; William Watts, January 1989; Charles Coleman, December 1988; Maria Gaccioli, January 1989, and now David Munro, May 1990. I am sure there are others that we do not know about who have chosen not to publicize their specific instances.
The fact of the matter is that the minister is not allocating the resources for beds and for nursing staff. We have stood up repeatedly in this House and asked her, for example, in the past few weeks about critical care nurses at the Hospital for Sick Children. She never gives a specific answer to these questions. She talks in terms of generalities; she supposedly solved this problem over two years ago. What is wrong with the system? Why are people still dying on the waiting list, a problem that she supposedly solved two years ago? Why is this happening?
The Speaker: Thank you. You asked the question twice.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would very much like to share with the member some comments of Dr Keon’s that perhaps would be helpful to him. He said in March of this year that he has been “very impressed with the spirit of co-operation among leading surgeons from across Ontario, nurses and administrators, and it is the first time the ministry has provided a milieu for all of us to come together to express our views to the ministry.” He went on to say, “It should be a pretty ideal system and the capacity for heart surgery in Ontario will be about ideal in 1990. The system will be as good as anywhere.”
The Speaker: Is it okay if I recognize the member for Mississauga South for a new question?
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. The minister knows Canadians throw out more garbage than any other people in the world. In Metropolitan Toronto the amount of garbage produced has increased dramatically from the mid-I 980s to the present. Now we face a severe crisis.
In a scramble for landfill sites, the government is exempting interim sites in the greater Toronto area from the Environmental Assessment Act. This is a shortsighted non-solution. What we really need is a streamlined assessment process, but after more than two years’ work by EAPIP, the environmental assessment program involvement project, we have seen only the phase I report. We will not see the phase 2 results from EAPIP until this summer, which is more than a year behind schedule.
When will this government have a plan ready for revamping the environmental assessment process?
Hon Mr Bradley: I know the member would want to ensure that any changes that would be made to the Environmental Assessment Act would do two things: first of all, would protect all of the environmental concerns that people would have, as the present acts do, and at the same time allow for it to be as efficient as possible.
We have brought together virtually all of the people who would have a viewpoint in this from various groups -- the environmental groups, those in the legal profession, those who are involved with municipalities and those who are in the government process itself -- to attempt to find the best way to make the process work as it should. I am confident, as I am sure the people who are involved in the process are confident, that the product that will be produced will, in fact, be one which will be conducive to protecting the environment in this province and doing so in an efficient manner.
Mrs Marland: The environmental assessment is not the only area where this government has failed miserably. To solve our garbage crisis, we must create less garbage. That means reducing waste at source, reusing containers and recycling, but only on recycling has the government made any progress. The minister knows that recycling alone will not achieve his waste diversion targets. He must acknowledge that 14% is a long way from 25% or 50%.
Can the minister tell this House what initiatives he has taken to reduce garbage at source and to promote reuse of containers and consumer goods?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member may be aware that we have programs in place which would deal not only with household garbage to which she has made reference but a number of programs which are very beneficial to those who are involved in the business and industrial sector in terms of the reduction of the waste which would be created.
We have the industrial 3Rs program as well, which we think is very good in that people who come forward with innovative ideas in fact have those ideas put into effect not only within their own businesses but within businesses across Ontario. Indeed, there are people in other jurisdictions who are benefiting from this, and we see this as positive. We do not see it as stealing ideas from us. We see it as being positive for the country as a whole.
The member would know, for instance, that devoted to the 3Rs program is some close to $55 million for this particular year, which I think is an exceedingly generous amount of money being provided in addition to the money that is coming in from the private sector in the same direction. We were also part of the national protocol which was developed. People who were from the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario, and indeed others from the province of Ontario, made significant input and at the last meeting of environment officials that was held in Vancouver, in fact a protocol was signed and a national program is being implemented, including all of the provinces and the federal government.
Mrs Marland: It is really hard to understand this minister’s lack of leadership and ideas. After all, there are lots of groups that are eager to help him. He ignored the report of the Canadian Environmental Law Research Foundation on the environmental assessment process. He is also ignoring the good advice on waste reduction that is available. Last Saturday, for example, the Toronto Star reported that a group called It’s Not Garbage recommended making source separation mandatory, setting up processing stations, creating a provincial waste reduction office and announcing a comprehensive waste management plan by the end of the summer. Instead of the hit-and-miss announcements he usually makes, will this minister produce a plan emphasizing reduction and reuse by this fall?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member, if she were to follow carefully, would know that is exactly what is happening right across Ontario, that innovative ideas are forthcoming, not only from the government sector but from the private sector, which are in fact having that effect. She would also know that, for instance, there are some two million households in Ontario which are now involved in the blue box program which is being emulated by so many other jurisdictions around North America and, indeed, around the world. Over 300 municipalities, of their own volition, are taking part in this program.
If you go to any other objective observer -- if you go to the other provinces and talk to them, go to a national meeting of environment officials -- they will tell you, of course, that Ontario, and indeed the people of Ontario, as seen through the United Nations Environment Program award, are the leaders in this field and will continue to be the leaders in this field.
We will take advantage of all of the advice which is provided, including the groups that the member has mentioned to us. One of the groups is working in the environmental assessment program involvement project at the present time to assist in improving upon the environmental assessment process, which has been of great benefit to Ontario, a process which was not implemented when Darlington was built.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy. The minister issued a major report with respect to this government’s antidrug strategy late last year. In it, detailed initiatives encompassed a number of ministries, including the ministries of Health, Labour, Education and the Solicitor General. Notably absent was the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which has traditionally been responsible for anti-drug strategies and strategies generally dealing with youth under the age of 16.
To this point, there are no programs in the province of Ontario dealing with children and youth under the age of 16. I would like to ask the minister, when is he going to respond to recommendations such as have been made to that ministry by Algoma Child and Youth Services in Sault Ste Marie, for example, which have been asking that services be made available to those children so that they do not have to go to such far-flung communities as Minneapolis, St Louis --
The Speaker: Thank you. You do not have to explain the reason for the question.
Hon Mr Black: I am very pleased to respond to that question. Let me first of all correct a couple of statements that were made by the member.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services does in fact have some very sound programs that assist young people who have all kinds of problems, including those related to illegal drug use. You will also be interested in knowing, Mr Speaker, as I am sure all members were, that just recently, in the last two months, we announced an additional initiative to try to provide support for young people who needed that, and we announced some $4 million worth of additional funding to provide services for youth in need of those services.
Mr Morin-Strom: The minister should know then, when it comes to many communities, they are not being served at all by this government. The local Breakaway program has processed some 106 young people for substance abuse services over the last two years. Out-of-town services were needed for 46 of them. Of those, 33 had to go to the United States for services, to communities far-flung from Sault Ste Marie.
When are we going to see established in this province residential treatment programs, preferably right in people’s home towns? If they are not available in every home town of this province, where are the residential treatment programs going to be for these young people who need these kinds of services?
Hon Mr Black: First of all, let me point out to the member that at the present time the province of Ontario is spending over $60 million in providing treatment facilities for people with addiction problems. That includes funding from the Ministry of Health, from the Ministry of Community and Social Services and from the Ministry of Correctional Services.
Second, let me point out to him that this total funds some 255 programs, which range from detoxification centres to after-care services -- a full range of treatment services. Everyone who is an expert in this field will share with the member, I am sure, the view that we do need the full range of services. I would not suggest that this means we have met all of the needs, because all of us in this House know that that is not the case. However, we are moving forward and we are making progress. We have increased our funding significantly. I had the opportunity just last week to visit New York City and to spend some time in two different treatment programs there.
Hon Mr Black: I was not there as a client, I might tell the member. The average waiting period for admission to those programs is five weeks. I am also informed by people who operate treatment programs here in Ontario that we now have residents of the United States who are applying for admission to treatment programs here in Ontario. So not all of the waiting lists are in Ontario; they are in many jurisdictions. There is a need to try to provide more services. We are working on that.
WOMEN’S APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS
Mrs Cunningham: The Minister of Education is aware of Competing in the New Global Economy. He is also probably aware of the immediate need to address the various shortcomings in the apprenticeship system in Ontario. Would the minister please update us on the program called Women’s Access to Apprenticeship Demonstration Projects?
Hon Mr Conway: May I just take this, my first opportunity, to say that I was very impressed by my friend the member for London North as she spoke to the nation on Saturday afternoon. I want to say, just as a friend and colleague, how impressed I was by her verve and her success with the delegates. I must report to the House that I think she swept the delegates in Renfrew North, where she left a very, very positive impression.
Hon Mr Conway: Listen, I feel it is only proper that I share with my friend the news from the eastern front, where her friend from Manotick also reported very considerable success and awaits, I know, all the benefits that will accrue from that.
The honourable member will know that the government has announced over the last number of months initiatives to increase the participation of women, not just in apprenticeship but in a variety of other areas, particularly in trades and technology. We have been very pleased with the results that we have achieved to date, involving, as we have, the women’s directorate, the labour movement and others, to be sure.
As my friend would understand, we are not going to change attitudes and past practices overnight, but as a government we are determined to build on these initiatives and to add to those others that will provide for the Ontario community and economy a fuller participation for women in all areas of skills in trades and technology.
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to take the opportunity just for a second to thank the minister but to tell him that during the next election he is going to have to be much more specific in his responses to our questions.
Current numbers indicate that in each of the last four years the number of women entering non-traditional occupations through his ministry’s apprenticeship program has declined in relative percentage terms. The minister is going to have to take this challenge seriously. It is not new; it has been around for the last five years. We are tired of the promises. When is the minister going to advise this House of some real progress in the women’s apprenticeship programs?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to say to my friend opposite that we recognize that there is a real challenge to be met. That is why, for example, working with the women’s directorate, we have sponsored some 30 pilot projects to increase the participation of women in these areas. The labour movement has increasingly shown an interest in and a support for increasing the participation of women as well.
My honourable friend could perhaps be of material assistance in one area where she might be more effective than I am. She might, at an early opportunity, speak to Mrs McDougall, the Minister of Employment and Immigration, and try to do something about federal restrictions on funding the apprenticeship programs, restrictions which over the last two or three years have placed real burdens on provinces such as Ontario in meeting the emerging need.
WINDSOR AREA AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. It concerns Ontario government incentives to potential manufacturing investors in Ontario, with particular reference to the city of Windsor and the auto parts tool and die and mould industries.
The minister will know that the Windsor area is under heavy competition from the United States, cities in the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia. They offer the kinds of programs which we do not have here and which the minister has spoken against, such programs as property tax deferrals, property tax forgiveness or municipal bonds, tax-free bonds, that kind of thing.
In view of the heavy economic pressure that the auto parts industry is under these days and the structural changes that are occurring in the industry, could the minister advise on what kinds of programs are under consideration, if any, and when we can expect to see some kinds of programs come forward from his ministry to address these issues?
Hon Mr Kwinter: As I have said on several other occasions, we do not intend to get involved in a bidding war where we will be offering tax deferrals, tax holidays, interest-free land or even cost-free land, but we do feel that we have a competitive environment. The member will know that on Friday we announced the support that we provided to the Ford Motor Co., which provides incentives for training and incentives for infrastructure support.
We also have other programs. The Treasurer announced in his budget the increase of the capital cost allowance for industrial equipment. We have a superallowance for research and development. We have programs through the various initiatives of the Premier’s Council. We also have inherent benefits built into our tax structure.
Our payroll taxes are lower than the United States. Our social security taxes are lower. Our hydro is lower. We have all of those things that act as incentives, and we feel we are competitive and will continue to be competitive.
Mr M. C. Ray: The Windsor area of course appreciates the $9-million grant to Ford Motor last week, but it is exactly that kind of program that is not known to many small and medium-sized investors.
When will the ministry bring forward a known set of policies with defined criteria such as are available in the adjoining states and are offered to potential manufacturers -- known programs that companies can apply for without having to negotiate on an individualized basis for undefined benefits that may be obtainable through the minister or his ministry?
Hon Mr Kwinter: We have a network throughout Ontario of offices of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology. These people are out there providing this service to small and medium-sized industries that require it. We have offices of the Ontario Development Corp. the Northern Ontario Development Corp and the Eastern Ontario Development Corp that do exactly the same thing. We have self-help centres throughout the province. We have a parliamentary committee on small business that publishes a report on small business and the incentives and programs that are available for it.
I think the material is out there. I think those companies that are needy of it know of it and come in to see us, and given the structure, I really do not think we can offer a menu so people can say, “I will take this, this and this.” It really has to be negotiated on an individual basis.
The Speaker: I recognize the member for Lake Nipigon. But I believe the Minister of Education etc has a response to a question previously asked by the member for Scarborough West.
Hon Mr Conway: That is correct. I am very pleased to take a moment to respond to a question that my friend the member for Scarborough West raised at the end of question period on Wednesday, a concern about the fact that Seneca College is intending at the end of this school year, June 1990, to close its lab school at Glen Park.
It is true, I can tell the House, that the college has made that determination for a number of reasons. Staffing difficulties is one of the factors. The other factor is that the North York Board of Education has indicated that some of the space that has been available to the college for the operation of that lab school will not be available even if a lease is renegotiated.
I can tell my honourable friend that there is, as he knows, another child care centre operating in the immediate area. My colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services has indicated to me that there is an examination under way as to whether or not a number of additional spaces might be added to that particular facility.
I can also tell my honourable friend that we recognize that Seneca will continue to operate a lab school, I believe at its King campus, so the needs of the early childhood education students in the college will continue to be met.
I am hopeful that the child care needs of that part of Metropolitan Toronto can continue to be analysed and met, perhaps by the Ministry of Community and Social Services licensing additional spaces to the other site on that facility.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I recognize the fact that the other campus has spaces still available. Frankly, I do not think there are adequate spaces for the 200 ECE students they have registered. They do have time. As the minister knows, the board does not need the space for at least two years.
I wonder if the minister can give me some idea from his discussions with the Minister of Community and Social Services about how many spaces are likely to be made available and whether or not some interim arrangement can be made to expand the other day care and to provide that as a secondary space for the ECE on-the-job training.
Hon Mr Conway: I should simply say two things: My colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services is well aware of the situation and is actively working to analyse the options, but the college has made very clear to me that it is its expectation and belief that it is going to be able to meet its ECE needs with the lab school that is, I believe, at the King campus.
It is the view of the management of Seneca College that it is going to be able to meet its ECE needs, and my friend the Minister of Social Services will, as the member knows, be ever sensitive to ensuring that the child care needs of the community in that part of Metropolitan Toronto are addressed.
Mr Pouliot: I have a question to the Minister of Health. We learned a couple of weeks ago that her ministry was indeed paying the full cost of air fare and hotel transportation for cancer patients sent from Toronto for treatment in Thunder Bay. We also learned that those patients were entitled to be accompanied by an escort whose expenses for air fare and hotel were fully paid.
I have the case of a 38-year-old blind man residing in Red Lake in northwestern Ontario, who was referred to Winnipeg to see an ophthalmologist. When he requested an escort to help him make this difficult trip, he applied to the Ministry of Health for assistance and guess what? He was refused. That blind man was refused.
How does the minister explain the double standard and the travesty between southern Ontario and again the poor people of the north?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite is incorrect. All cancer patients are treated the same way whether they live in northern Ontario, southern Ontario, eastern Ontario or western Ontario. Anyone in need of financial assistance, in financial need, is assisted by the Canadian Cancer Society. For a very short period of time there was some assistance for those who were referred through the Princess Margaret patient referral office.
Mr Pouliot: It has got nothing to do with a blind person, who is entitled --
Hon Mrs Caplan: I will say to the member opposite that residents of northern Ontario --
The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat?
Thank you. We do have a standing order, 20b, that says that no member shall interrupt another member. So now I will try to keep the other members quiet while you place your supplementary.
Oh, the member for Rainy River.
Mr Hampton: I too have an interest in this, since I am aware of the plight of the gentleman from Red Lake. I want to ask the Minister of Health basically this. She has set up artificial distinctions within the Ministry of Health. She treats cancer patients a little better than other patients. She treats cancer patients from southern Ontario royally indeed.
The fact of the matter is that she has someone who is in need of health care from the community of Red Lake. He is blind. He is referred to a city he has not been to before. He asks under the northern health travel grant program for payment for an escort. Her ministry says no. Yet when patients are referred from southern Ontario to Thunder Bay for cancer treatment, her ministry pays the whole lock, stock and barrel: air fare, hotel accommodation, taxis, meals, the whole list. How does she justify these artificial, stupid distinctions?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The northern travel grant program, which is an extremely important program for residents of northern Ontario, is very distinct and very different from assistance that is available for all cancer patients in the province, regardless of where they are from.
I would say to the member that in fact we are, as he knows, presently reviewing the northern travel grant program. We have been consulting across the north and I want him to know that we are always trying to review that program to make sure it is a fair and as equitable as it can be. But he cannot compare two very different programs within the Ministry of Health.
Mr Hampton: That is right, artificial distinctions. Some people get treated royally.
Mr Pouliot: It’s the rich against the poor, that’s what it is.
The Speaker: Are you finished?
The Speaker: What a waste of time. Order.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister will recall that several times we have discussed the problems now being created by the tracheal mite to our beekeepers and honey producers. We have known for some time that our fruit and crop producers could be in considerable difficulty if this infestation spreads, and it has. With Niagara now under quarantine, what sort of additional assistance can the beekeepers expect right now from the minister and his ministry?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am glad to have the opportunity to inform the member, who I know shares the same interest that I do in the bee situation in Ontario in regard especially to pollination of our tender fruit area, that not only is the quarantine in Niagara but also it affects my own riding in Timiskaming, as there is a quarantine around New Liskeard and in eastern Ontario.
Besides those quarantines, we are also looking at destroying hives that are infected and we are working with the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association on this. We are also looking at compensation to do this. The other thing too is that we have stepped up our research component at the University of Guelph in order to find a mite-resistant bee.
Mr Villeneuve: This is a disaster that everyone, including the minister and the ministry, could have predicted. It has been ongoing and expanding for the last 18 months. Over a year ago the beekeepers’ association requested a $6.2-million, four-year assistance program. It was turned down by the minister’s predecessor.
Our beekeepers do not normally ask for assistance, but the need is obvious and urgent now. This sector of agriculture is in a very serious economic condition. What real dollar support can the minister announce today to provide for them right now?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I share the admiration that the honourable member has for the industry and I agree that the beekeepers are a very important and vital part of the agrifood industry in Ontario, much more than even just the product they produce because they obviously enhance the production of other products in the province.
I did announce some money for the association. We are also looking at some ways that the association can raise money on its own to keep the group going, and I continue to work on each of the different topics that we are mutually interested in to try to find some assistance for it in the future.
I welcome that association with the association and the honourable member’s support, and we will continue to support beekeeping in this province.
Miss Roberts: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and concerns the elevating devices in the province of Ontario. Last week a press conference was held here which called into question the ability of this government to effectively regulate the elevating devices in this province. In that press conference it was alleged that the government was not doing enough to ensure that the elevators in Ontario were safe. It was reported that those present suggested that, given the choice, people should use the stairs.
What is this government doing to ensure the safety of elevating devices in Ontario, or should we -- I and all others -- take the stairs?
Hon Mr Sorbara: There are all sorts of good reasons for the member for Elgin and all of us to use the stairs, but it has nothing to do with the fact that elevators may or may not be safe.
The real weakness of the report put outlast week was that it seemed to suggest, in the way in which it was drafted, that the inspection process was the single feature of the ministry which was used in order to guarantee and regulate the safety of elevators, and of course that is not true.
Inspections are important, but the major element in the regulation of safety of the system is the legal requirement of every owner of an elevator to be the beneficiary of a maintenance contract. That is, the elevator must be subject to a maintenance contract for ongoing maintenance of that elevator, and failure to do that results in a very significant fine. Those fines were recently increased from $10,000 to $100,000.
Those contractors are the first line of defence, and any failure to do that, of course, as I said, would be identified by an inspector. We are doing a number of other things, including a radically new approach to managing our information within the ministry. Perhaps I will talk more about those if the member has a supplementary.
Miss Roberts: My supplementary has two parts. First, I believe there are somewhere in the area of 30,000 elevating devices in the province. At last count, however, we only had 30 inspectors. How can 30 inspectors maintain the 30,000 devices on a satisfactory basis or even check them on a satisfactory basis? Second, assuming this number of inspectors is simply not sufficient, is the minister doing anything to increase the number of inspectors, and what is he doing to ensure that their time is spent as effectively as possible to make sure that not just extra staff and extra money are being thrown at this particular problem?
Hon Mr Sorbara: There are a lot of questions in there. Perhaps I can help my friend the member for Elgin by telling her that, first of all, we have, as she says, about 30 inspectors. We are actually in a worldwide search for people who can be retained as elevator inspectors. There is a shortage right throughout North America, so we have recently asked the federal Minister of Employment and Immigration to identify this category of trade and talent as one that is of a shortage in Canada so that we can recruit overseas.
The other thing we are doing is putting into place a computer system in the province at a cost of some $5 million to allow us to track every elevator system in the province. So if we have a problem at one elevator, we know all of these other similar institutions and we can dispatch our inspectors to check those other institutions. In short, we are trying to do more effectively the job that the ministry and the branch have been responsible for over a number of years.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Kormos: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Down in the Niagara Peninsula we have a whole bunch of grape farmers, some 20 plus, who have been unfairly and arbitrarily denied assistance under the grape acreage reduction program. The rules, which were bizarre to begin with, were purportedly designed to keep out speculators. Not one of those people, not the Wileys, not Patricia Glachan and her family, not the Mikolics, not one of those farmers who seek relief can ever be described as speculators by anybody who is in his right mind. They are honest, hardworking, decent farmers who want to keep on farming their land. Why has the minister refused to participate in an alternative dispute resolution mechanism like a tripartite tribunal even when the federal government has agreed to do that to try to help those farmers?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would be quite happy to tell the member why. Just because people have a beef with the government on a program, when you set a date, that does not necessarily mean you always have to set up some sort of independent dispute resolution mechanism.
We have an institution in this government and this province called the Ombudsman. I have encouraged these people to meet with the Ombudsman. They have done so. They have had a meeting and the Ombudsman is reserving a decision, after some investigation, as to whether he will take up the case or not. I have spoken to my colleague the Honourable Don Mazankowski and he has agreed that they should take their dispute to the Ombudsman.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Kormos: Farmers are going to lose their farms, and it will be this minister’s fault when that happens. This minister knows that the Ombudsman route is not binding on the federal government. It is not even binding on him. The Ombudsman can merely recommend. The minister knows it is going to take three, four, five years before there is any resolution. By that time, those farmers will have been put out of business and that farm land will have been turned into subdivisions one way or another.
Why will this minister not even meet with those people with a view to discussing an independent tribunal to be used as a dispute resolution mechanism? He will not even meet with them. Why not? Is he afraid of them or afraid to look them in the face?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am quite entertained by the question. I would like to say that the Ontario Grape Growers’ Marketing Board is involved in this also. This is not just a government program; this is a partnership among the federal government, the provincial government and the Ontario grape growers. Some $39 million of government money has been spent on this program. and when you establish a program, you set a date. You do not start retroactively changing dates to accommodate people who now enter the business.
MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS
Mr McLean: My question is for the Minister of Health and it concerns 13 unclassified workers at the Oak Ridge division of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre who are scheduled to lose their jobs on 24 June. These workers were hired on a temporary contract while the institution tried to recruit qualified registered nurses and registered nursing assistants. The 13 workers have been praised on numerous occasions for their exemplary work. Will the minister see that these workers are retrained as registered nurses or registered nursing assistants rather than forced to join the unemployment insurance line?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I say to the member opposite that the ministry is aware of this issue and is meeting with union officials to discuss what, if anything, can be done. The affected employees, of course, are welcome to apply for other suitable positions at the hospital.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to know that the ministry is aware of it and is working on it. It has been brought to my attention that these employees have been long-term employees and have had many commendations with regard to the work. I hope the minister will see that they will be able to be retrained in this fall semester for this year. Failing that, would the minister consider extending their contracts for another year so that they can apply to registered nursing or registered nursing assistant programs in 1991?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to be very clear that I am not able to give the member opposite any specific information as to what options are being considered. I know that discussions are under way. He should also know that the hospital has advertised for qualified registered nursing assistants to replace the temporary assistants.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY
Mr Carrothers: My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and relates to the question of privacy of personal information.
A number of constituents have spoken to me about their concerns that personal information is collected on computer data banks and then used for other purposes. As an example, the records of an individual’s credit cards transactions can be compiled and sold as a series of personal profiles to potential vendors. As the minister might appreciate, someone selling jewellery might be very interested in knowing who had made large purchases of jewellery in the past. Could the minister indicate what protection a person now has in this province against personal information being used in such a fashion?
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend the member for Oakville South raises, I think, a topic of very great significance, particularly as we develop our capacity to collect more and more data. I am not talking about the government’s capacity, although the government is included in that, but the capacity of businesses of all sorts, including credit card companies, to aggregate information, analyse it from a variety of different perspectives and then market that information to retailers who might use it to sell their products, wares and services in a more effective way. In short, the question of privacy of information is going to be, I think, one of the most significant consumer issues of the 1990s and on into the next century.
My friend asked what we are doing about it currently. There are two important things to point to; first, the passage in our own government a few years back of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Most people look at the freedom of information part of that. The protection of privacy part is also very important because it ensures that government information is not subject to that kind of marketing exploitation.
Mr Carrothers: I wonder if the minister might be prepared to consider passing legislation that would cause companies collecting this information to have to seek the permission of those who have given the information into the data bank before it is used for other purposes.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I think it is something that we at least have to consider. I know that my counterpart ministry in the province of Quebec has recently done a study of this whole area and is looking at options like that. Within my own ministry we are doing a number of studies that touch on this area. I do not want to suggest to my friend that they are necessarily going to end up in the form of legislation restricting the distribution of information, but we are doing a study, for example, on the electronic transfer of funds, the implications of that and the information garnered out of that, how to protect the consumer in that area.
We are also studying, along with all the other provinces in Canada, the whole business of telemarketing and how the interests of the consumer can be protected as we move into new technologies that dramatically change the way in which we market products, and of course telemarketing is one of those areas which will be front and centre in that area.
As far as passing specific legislation to restrict the distribution of information goes, I think that question will be analysed most effectively in the context of a federal-provincial assessment because, after all, in this nation we would like to see those sorts of laws harmonized.
Ms Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Toronto has been called “the edible city” in a statistical review of the very serious termite problem in this city, prepared by the city’s planning department. No doubt the minister is aware that last 31 March the province cut off funding for grants to assist home owners in fighting this scourge. The grants were administered by municipal building departments and had provided up to 60% of the costs associated with termite control, to a maximum of $2,000 per home owner.
Why does the ministry fail to recognize the very serious home owner and safety problem emerging from this scourge? Will the minister reinstate the program immediately and provide adequate funding to stop the spread of this infestation across Metropolitan Toronto and beyond?
Hon Mr Bradley: I think the member would agree with me that normally one would not expect that termite control would come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment. I think the member would agree with me, though she has a specific problem within her constituency, that it would be more productive in terms of the environment for the Environment ministry to devote its funds to a number of other areas. When we were choosing areas where we could most productively expend our funds to produce the kind of environment that we would like in the province -- in other words, protect the environment not only for the present but for the future -- it was the feeling of the ministry that termite control would not be of the highest priority, but that if municipalities wished to carry on the program, as they have for a number of years, they are certainly welcome to do so.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Pass the buck.
Hon Mr Bradley: But I would be surprised if the member for Windsor-Riverside, for instance, would believe that the Ministry of the Environment should indeed be funding termite control, even though we are prepared to provide the kind of advice and counsel to municipalities that would like to have that in terms of the specific applications which could be made which might be beneficial in eliminating these pests in the most expeditious manner.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr R. F. Nixon, in the absence of Mr Ward, moved that, notwithstanding standing order 94(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 50 and that, notwithstanding standing orders 8(a) and 94(b), the House shall meet at 11 am on Thursday 17 May 1990 to consider one item of private members’ business, ballot item 50.
Motion agreed to.
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a petition signed by 512 people in Windsor and area from the Downtown Windsor Lions Club petitioning amendment to the Highway Traffic Act to provide for the white cane stopping law for the blind.
Mr Wiseman: I have a petition signed by approximately 100 people in the riding of Lanark-Renfrew, and I would like to read it.
“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas on November 18, 1986, the French Language Services Act of Ontario had been passed in French and implementation procedures were not publicized for the awareness of the general public; and because 70 elected members were absent in the House on the above date the majority of the citizens of Ontario were not represented; and,
“Whereas at no time have the people of Ontario chosen to be officially bilingual by giving a mandate to the government or a referendum; and,
“Whereas the vast majority of Ontarians speak English fluently; and,
“Whereas the implementation of Bill 8 is proceeding with enormous cost to the taxpayers while cutbacks are being made in funding of health care, education, environment, etc; and
“Whereas one official language is a practical necessity, so we, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, hereby affirm that we desire English to be the one and only official language and furthermore, petition the government of Ontario to repeal” –
The Speaker: Order. With respect, we have a new standing order, 35, and really the member is in a way abusing that, because there is a time limit and there are only so many members. I appreciate you have had time and you have put a fair amount on the record. Next time just do not use the whereases.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a petition from the public school board in Windsor. I will not read the whereases, but they do refer to the promises by the Liberal government to come up with a 60% level of funding for public education. The petition says:
“We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“That the government of Ontario begin immediately a program of increased funding to local school boards to ensure that it raise provincial funding levels to 60% of total costs, and that no public board suffer a net loss revenue due to the pooling of commercial and industrial assessment.”
I have signed this petition. It is signed by several hundred people and I support it.
Mr Cousens: This is a petition that I support that has been presented by students of Thornhill Secondary School on the Ontario motorist protection plan:
“To the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, hereby register our deep concern and outrage over the provisions of the new Ontario motorist protection plan. We respectfully request that the Legislature consider substantial amendment of or complete rejection of the Ontario motorist protection plan as presently proposed.
“We further respectfully request that a plan be devised more nearly in accordance with the results of the independent studies undertaken at the request of the government.”
There are 100 names there and I think there is still time for the government to revise its strategies if it would pay attention to this petition.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Kanter moved first reading of Bill Pr 14, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Mr Laughren: Has this anything to do with elevators?
Mr Kanter: Since my friend asked and I believe the rules allow me a chance to explain briefly --
The Speaker: Perhaps you would let the Chair place the question.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Kanter: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to explain --
The Speaker: Order.
ONTARIO KOREAN BUSINESSMEN’S ASSOCIATION ACT, 1990
Mr McGuigan, on behalf of Mr Ruprecht, moved first reading of Bill Pr73, An Act to revive Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
INSURANCE STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance.
The Second Deputy Chair: It is so wonderful to be back in committee of the whole House on Bill 68.
An hon member: You’ve had a busy week.
The Second Deputy Chair: We will reserve comments on the weekend for another time.
Hon Mr Conway: Alan Pope may never be the same.
The Second Deputy Chair: I may never be the same.
To refresh everyone’s memory, in case the members forgot, apparently the committee last sat -- it just seems like yesterday but it was 28 March 1990. I want to remind everyone about the specific order. To refresh everyone’s memory, let me just go through some of it unless everyone disagrees, but I think it is important to remind the members:
‘That, notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, two sessional days shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole House. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the assembly by 5 pm on the first sessional day on which the bill is considered in the committee of the whole House.”
If I am correct, this is the first sessional day. Any proposed amendments, I say to the government and anyone else who is interested, have to be in to the Chair by 5 o’clock today, which is less than two hours away.
“At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for the adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without amendment or debate.”
Then we go on to third reading, which is not a particular concern of mine, but the Speaker’s.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I wonder if the Chairman could explain what that motion meant.
The Second Deputy Chair: It is going to take some time, but I bet there are one or two members who would like to know what the amendments are.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Chairman, maybe we could talk about stacking and whether there is going to be an arrangement for stacking of amendments as we go through this afternoon and tomorrow.
The Second Deputy Chair: I would like to say to the House leader for the official opposition that we could discuss that, but shall I just review the amendments that we have, an awful lot?
Mr Pouliot: With respect, on a point of clarification, I was listening very intently to your directives, sir, and you informed us in terms of 5 o’clock today -- and it is 3:15 -- and 5:45 tomorrow. This is referred to as “two sessional days.” Am I correct in assuming that?
The Second Deputy Chair: Correct.
Mr Pouliot: I find it somewhat appalling in terms of due process. How do you reconcile that we have 38 amendments, which will be read individually, from the government side -- that is a minimum of 38 amendments -- and we must allow time for debate? The loyal opposition will have some amendments, no doubt, for we are against the whole bill. The Progressive Conservative Party, the third party, will have numerous amendments, for this bill is ill-fated. That has been debated at length.
How do we deal with the debate on those amendments when there is not sufficient time to even read the amendments into the record?
The Second Deputy Chair: That is it? That is a very important inquiry. Interestingly enough, I say to the Treasurer, I have no authorization to make any comment on that. My job is just to follow the directive as put forward to me by the House, so I do not think I will recognize you. But I will recognize the honourable House leader for the third party, who seems to be anxious and wants to say something.
Mr Eves: No, I don’t want to say anything at all.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Do you agree with stacking?
Mr Eves: I have no problem with stacking votes on amendments with respect to this particular piece of legislation until, I believe it would be Wednesday at 5:45 pm, if that is the wish of the other two parties.
The Second Deputy Chair: On the stacking, the Clerk very kindly was speaking while you were speaking and I missed whatever important statement you had to make, but I am sure it was worth while because we will hear from the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Ferraro: Just briefly, Mr Chairman, I would point out that there are 30 government amendments and eight amendments from the Conservative Party. Bearing in mind that we have had significant debate in the past, the very least I will pledge to do is to read our amendments quickly.
The Second Deputy Chair: And you think what?
Mr Ferraro: We support stacking as well.
The Second Deputy Chair: They support stacking.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Until when?
The Second Deputy Chair: You have not had the opportunity, have you?
Mr D. S. Cooke: I think it would be appropriate that perhaps we could stack until about 5:30 on Wednesday, since the government has 30 amendments or so. We could stack them until 5:30 and start the voting on Wednesday at 5:30. It will take us at least a half-hour to vote on all the government’s amendments to correct the mess that it introduced last fall.
The Second Deputy Chair: I would like to bring to the attention of members that the order does say 5:45, but if we have agreement --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Unanimous consent.
The Second Deputy Chair: There appears to be unanimous consent in committee that we will attempt to stack votes to 5:30 the next sessional day. Are we going to do, then, the one vote on all the proposed amendments, and do it in reverse?
Mr D. S. Cooke: No, I don’t think so.
The Second Deputy Chair: We are not going to do that.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Divide on each of them.
The Second Deputy Chair: So you are going to divide on each one? That is an interesting question, I say to the House leader of the official opposition. Are we going to have one bell?
They are just negotiating here in terms of how we are going to do this. While there is still some discussion, let me just review for a moment the proposed amendments.
Mr McCague: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I just wondered if it is appropriate to entertain advice from the member for Guelph when he is not in his seat.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Perhaps as acting House leader, I would request permission of the House that the honourable member, who is going to be assisting the House in dealing with some amendments, be allowed to sit in the seat he is now sitting in so that he can be close to the advice from the public servants.
The Second Deputy Chair: As efficient as our staff are here, they wanted to point out to me section 103 of our standing orders, which allows the parliamentary assistant to sit there.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Can you read it out to us, please?
The Second Deputy Chair: If you want to look at it, if you have trouble reading it, later maybe we could go over it together with you.
It seems that it would be worth while just to review the proposed amendments. We will do this as quickly as possible.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Quit wasting time. Our critic is here; let’s get going.
The Second Deputy Chair: I am only trying to fulfil the job that I have responsibility for. That is to clarify and ensure that the committee of the whole House knows exactly what it is doing.
Under Bill 68, there are proposed government amendments to: section 3 -- 6h, 6na; subsection 37(2) -- 98(l)(bg), (bh), (bl), (bm), (bn), (bo), (bp); subsections 45(10) and (11); section 47 -- 208a(6), 208b(1), 208c(1), 208c(3), 208c(5); section 49 -- 209a; section 55 -- 230a(9).
There are third-party proposed amendments to section 57 -- 231a(1), 231a(1)(a), 231a(1)(b), 231a(4).
There is a proposed government amendment to section 57 -- 231a(7).
There are third-party proposed amendments to section 57 -- 231b(1)(c), 231b(1)(d), 231b(6), 232(1a), 232(1b), 232(1c).
There are proposed government amendments to: section 57 -- 232(2), 232(5); section 63 -- 239a, 239b(1), 239b(4), 239b(5); section 65 -- 242a(2), 242a(3), 242a(5), 242b(8), 242c(1a), 242e(2), 242e(3), 242f, 242g. 242h, 242k; section 74 -- 269(5a), 372(1)(a); section 82(4); section 86(2) -- 4b(2); section 91.
Well, that sure is a handful. Now, we still have the question of whether the members may be called in once and all deferred divisions taken in succession. We do not know yet. I think we are going to have to look for direction on Wednesday. So let’s go with the bill.
Mr Ferraro: Did we get as far as section 1? We are on section 1?
The Second Deputy Chair: We are on section 1. Are you speaking to section I or just sort of giving general advice?
Mr Ferraro: No, Mr Chairman. With your indulgence, perhaps my hearing is going, but my staff verified that in your reading, sir, you may have incorrectly referred to one of our amendments as 269(5a) when it should be 369(5a).
The Second Deputy Chair: That is fine. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I meant to mention that in case I misread to ensure that it was properly done. Thank you for following along. I appreciate that.
Mr Kormos: The parliamentary assistant was mumbling and I could not hear him.
Mr Ferraro: For the benefit of my friend from Welland-Thorold, Mr Chairman, I was pointing out that it was our impression that perhaps you incorrectly read into the record the wrong number of one of our amendments and it should have been 369 as opposed to 269.
The Second Deputy Chair: Okay, so we have got that clarified. Now, are there any comments or suggestions on section 1?
Mr Kormos: One moment, Mr Chairman, please. Look, we have got a whole pile of amendments here.
The Second Deputy Chair: Yes.
Mr Kormos: Let me tell you what happened in committee, Mr Chairman. The government hamstrung the committee so that it had a very limited period of time, and before we got to the crucial element of this bill, the threshold, which is what it is all about -- that is the one that is going to be hammering away at innocent injured victims -- we were out of time. Why, there was but perhaps half an hour for each party to address that most important matter of threshold.
I would like hear what other members have to say about this and what the parliamentary assistant has to say about it. What I would suggest is we have agreement that the next day -- this is the first half-day; people are going to realize we are dealing with a whole pile of amendments and a whole lot of questions have to be asked and we have only two and a half hours left to do it, and that is what a day means in this time allocation motion -- I am wondering whether there can be agreement that the first matter to be dealt with the second day, which is the last day, can be the threshold, because that is so crucial to an understanding of this legislation. I have a fear that the Liberals are going to go through amendment 1, amendment 2, etc., and they are going to be out of time before we get to the threshold, which is what this time allocation motion was all about. I am prepared to agree that the first matter to be dealt with on the second afternoon, notwithstanding that we may not have reached it, be the threshold.
Mrs Marland: I would be willing to concur with the request of the official opposition if he could just identify for me where that section comes in.
Mr Kormos: We are of course talking about those sections starting with section 57. Interestingly, the Liberals are not prepared to respond to any of the submissions made to them by way of threshold. We do not support a threshold at all; we oppose threshold. The fact is there are some amendments -- not from the Liberals -- that would give effect to some of the recommendations that are basically compromises. They are basically saying, “If the legislation is going to be rammed through, at least soften the blow a little bit.” So it is the Tory amendments that we are talking about.
The Second Deputy Chair: I do not know. I can always fall back on what the House has directed us to do. When in doubt, just follow what they tell us. On the other hand, if there is a proposal, I would suggest that is great. Does that mean all those sections pertaining to the bill, 1 to -- I will have the staff help me out here. Let’s see. Are there any proposals to section 57 by the government? There are. There are lots. Are there any proposed third-party amendments? I could say, “Shall all those proposed amendments from 1 to 57 carry? Carried.” Is that what you suggest I do?
Mr Kormos: Of course not. We are not even 15 minutes into this closure than we are recognizing how unfair the whole procedure is going to be, how it is going to deny any meaningful discussion of any of these amendments, even the threshold. The whole matter is almost futile.
The Second Deputy Chair: To the member for Mississauga South: He has indicated section 57. I, in my best efforts to try to facilitate matters, suggested that if that is the case, then can we at least pass all those sections from section I up to, but not including, section 57? That appears not to be the situation. So I do not know if we have any amicable agreement or not. My feeling is that there is not at the moment. No, the parliamentary assistant is shaking his head in the negative. That only leaves me the one alternative, and that is to continue now with section 1, unless you have something else that would shed some light on our very difficult problem.
Mrs Marland: What we are saying is that we have no willingness on the part of the government to show any cooperation now that it has anchored us down to only two days in which to deal with this legislation in committee of the whole; in fact, probably a total of five hours if we are looking at two business days. They are saying that we have to proceed through all the sections of the bill, even though it is my understanding that a lot of the Liberal amendments are housekeeping. They certainly are not the significant amendments to the significant sections that the public did demonstrate and express very real concerns in, those being the amendments to section 57, which are indeed the amendments presented to the House by the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Our concern is -- and I certainly agree with the member for Welland-Thorold- -- that we may never get to those sections to indeed debate our amendments. Is it not significant that there are that number of amendments by the drafting party of the bill? The people who wrote the bill might have done a better job in drafting it so that we did not have to have all of those amendments that do not respond to the points, the questions and the concerns raised by the public in the public hearings.
Mr Ferraro: First, let me say that it has been my experience, limited as it may be for the past five years, that 30 amendments to a major piece of legislation is not unusual. Second, it is interesting that the opposition members now are implying our unwillingness to co-operate when indeed some of the goings-on in previous weeks might have allowed more time for the clause-by-clause, but the co-operation was not prevalent in this House at that point in time. Suffice it to say that, in the government’s view, we should proceed with section I in as orderly and as quickly a fashion as we possibly can.
The Second Deputy Chair: It would appear, parliamentary assistant, that is about what we are going to have to do. That being the case, as I am shuffling papers around frantically, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.
Mr Philip: I want to ask a question on section 1.
The Second Deputy Chair: Wait a minute, before we do anything else. Now we are going to start with section 1. This is it. Boom. Section 1:
Mr Philip: My question is on the definition of “accountant.” There is considerable disagreement regarding the certified general accountants. There is a new act coming out as to exactly the certification process. I am wondering if I can ask the minister, are certified general accountants recognized in the definition of “accountant” under section I in the same way as chartered accountants are recognized?
Mr Ferraro: My staff indicates to me that this definition essentially is based on the licensing provisions as implied in the Public Accountancy Act, wherein an accountant must be classified as a public accountant.
Mr Philip: Would the minister like to answer my question? Are CGAs covered under this section of the act? It was a fairly simple question. I asked it six weeks ago and I still have not received a reply from either the minister or the parliamentary assistant to the minister.
Mr Ferraro: No, CGAs are not considered.
Mr Philip: May I ask why CGAs, who comprise a large professional body in this province, are being excluded by this act? We have a whole bunch of trained professionals, whom the Attorney General himself is now finally, after years of bargaining, starting to recognize as being the equivalent of CAs. Why are they not being recognized when you have a profession that our own Provincial Auditor hires on an equal basis to CAs and treats them equally?
Why are they being excluded from the definition of “accountant” under this act? Why is one branch of the government meeting with them and, albeit not saying in the exact manner which they wish, at least negotiating with them to bring in equal qualifications or an equal certification process, while at the same time excluding this group of professionals under this act?
Mr Ferraro: The reality of the situation -- and I share some of the concerns expressed by the member opposite -- is that the Public Accountancy Act, as I understand it, precludes CGAs from doing public audits; and that is a necessary requirement according to the Insurance Act. Subsequently, by default -- and I suggest it is a matter for another day when dealing with another act -- that necessitates this exclusion, if you will.
Mr Philip: I guess I am still confused. If the Provincial Auditor can hire CGAs to do audits of crown corporations and ministries, why is it then that the government feels CGAs are not competent or qualified to be covered under this act to do the kind of auditing there is in this bureaucracy which it is setting up?
Mr Ferraro: In respect to the examples from the members opposite, it is my understanding that those people who are hired by the auditor are not doing public audits per se.
Mr Philip: Six or eight weeks ago I raised this matter with the minister -- with the parliamentary assistant; I could not raise it with the minister because the minister was never in the committee and he is not here today, otherwise I would raise it with him today.
CGAs often are people who do not come from an elite family of accountants, who come from working-class families and get their degrees through night courses and hard work. They often obtain their degrees in the same way in which some members in this House, myself included, received theirs: through going to night school, summer school and so forth to get an accountancy degree. Now, after years of negotiation with both the previous government and the present government, some people are actually starting to say that maybe they should be treated equally.
Six weeks ago I raised with the parliamentary assistant whether it is not possible, when one hand of the government is starting to recognize them, that at least the other hand, his ministry, might give them equal recognition? Why has the government not amended this section of the act at least to have CGAs recognized as being capable of doing audits in this case?
Mr Ferraro: Let me respond first by saying that, notwithstanding the fact that the minister was not directly present, the minister has discussed and addressed this issue essentially in weeks past. Certainly it has been discussed at length in the ministry.
The reality of the situation is that the Insurance Act requires public audits. The other reality of the situation, whether we like it or not -- and I share some of the sentiments expressed by the member opposite -- is that it is required by law, according to the Insurance Act, that there be public audits. According to the Public Accountancy Act, CGAs are not allowed to do public audits. I suggest this is a matter, which already has been discussed, for the Ministry of the Attorney General in that the Public Accountancy Act falls under its purview.
Mr Philip: I wonder if the parliamentary assistant can answer this question. Since I raised it with him some six weeks or more ago, did he or his ministry at any time discuss this with the Certified General Accountants’ Association of Ontario, which has been around this place lobbying for what I think are some fairly legitimate changes to the Public Accountancy Act? Has he discussed it with them? Has the ministry discussed it with them? Has the ministry looked at the possibility of having CGAs included under this? The parliamentary assistant says the minister looked at it; looked at it how?
Mr Ferraro: There has been consideration of this very point, indeed precipitated by concerns expressed by the member opposite and others. Again the reality is that it falls under the auspices of another act. There have been hundreds and perhaps thousands of discussions and conversations relating to this act. I can honestly say that I have not met with the Certified General Accountants’ Association. Indeed, in my humble view, it would probably be more appropriate for that discussion to take place when we are debating or considering changes to the Public Accountancy Act specifically.
The Second Deputy Chair: Any further discussion concerning section I of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain acts respecting Insurance?
Mr Kormos: For clarification’s sake, this is clause by clause, not section by section. We are talking about subsection 1(1) —
Mr Neumann: I thought you wanted to get on with it yourself.
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, please listen.
If we are going to do this, we should do it in an orderly way or else chaos is going to erupt and prevail. The last thing we in this caucus want is more of the same sort of chaos that the Liberals have been generating in this province since they lost our guidance in 1987. So do we move on to subsection 1(2), or is the Chair simply going to say, “No, move on to section 2 of the bill”?
The Second Deputy Chair: I just want to plug away at this and, if we are finished with subsection 1(1), all those in favour? Carried? Carried. We will carry on to subsection 1(2).
Mr Kormos: No, wait a minute.
The Second Deputy Chair: I am just giving you the example. I am not saying it is going to happen that way.
Mr Kormos: You scared the daylights out of me. The whole bill has to be defeated.
The Second Deputy Chair: Have I answered what you asked of me?
Mr Kormos: Thank you.
The Second Deputy Chair: We are still dealing with subsection 1(1). Any further discussion? I even forget how to do this. It has been such a long time. Carried? Carried. Right, it is carried.
Mr Kormos: No. We are opposed.
The Second Deputy Chair: No? Wait a minute. So are we going to have a vote? Is this it?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
The Second Deputy Chair: Here it is, from on high: I put the question for or against, and then if I say that it is passed and five members stand up, it is deferred until tomorrow at 5:30, which we have agreed to before. If five members do not stand up. that means the section is passed.
The Second Deputy Chair: That is fair. Gee whiz, you are really putting me in a corner on this. But okay; I mean, what difference does it make? It would appear that there was not sufficient clarification by the Chair in terms of the procedure. So continuing on then, we are with subsection 1(1).
Mr Kormos: I do not want to be an obstructionist. I want to see this developed in the most orderly way. All I want to know is whether the government is agreeable to stacking these votes to the afternoon of the second day of consideration, which is of course the last and final day of consideration, in committee of the whole. We want an opportunity to discuss it, but we have so little time --
Mr Kerrio: You’re using it all up.
Mr Neumann: You’re filibustering your own discussion.
Mr Kormos: Will the Chair please seize the bull by at least one horn?
The Second Deputy Chair: Right. You see, what we had previously agreed to between the House leaders was that at 5:30 -- remember, we changed the time from 5:45 to 5:30 -- we are going to ring the bells once and have all the members come in, we are going to have one vote for whatever section we are going to begin with on the amendments or whatever, members stand up and it is contested, etc. As I recall, under section 28(b), the members may be called in once and all deferred divisions taken in succession, okay? So we have the one vote and I, the Chair, will carry on with all the various problems and announce what the votes were, etc.
Mr Kormos: What I am trying to tell you, Mr Chairman, is that we are agreeable basically to deferring or stacking the votes to the end of the second day, which is the final day of consideration of clause-by-clause during committee of the whole. We are agreeable to that in the New Democratic Party in the interests of the most efficient use of time.
The Second Deputy Chair: Let’s get this straight. You are agreeable --
Mr Kormos: To stacking or deferring these votes to the end of the last day of consideration in committee of the whole.
The Second Deputy Chair: Right.
Mr Kormos: It is as simple as that.
The Second Deputy Chair: Okay.
Mr Kormos: All we need is agreement from the other two parties.
The Second Deputy Chair: We have agreed to that. We are going to have one bell at 5:30 on Wednesday. We are going to call everybody in, then I am going to go through each section that has not been passed and we are going to have a vote on those sections.
Mr Kormos: That is right. You see, I misunderstood. I appreciate that it is difficult for you, Mr Chairman, because you have these people, the Liberals, flattering to your right, but the impression you gave was that there were going to be two stacked votes, one on the first day and one on the second day. So that means the vote which was purportedly taken on subsection 1(1) is a nullity.
The Second Deputy Chair: Let’s try. We are going to try to make it a nullity. Now we are going to start afresh. Have we got the game plan now as clear as mud?
Okay. Now we are going to go to subsection 1(1).
All those in favour will please say ‘‘aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
Okay. Now I say, I think, that the ayes have it. Okay. So then five people stand up. Here we go. Okay. So now I say, between agreements of the House leaders this was deferred to 5:30 pm Wednesday.
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, each and every one will be deferred.
The Second Deputy Chair: Try your best, yes. That is the game plan.
Mr Kormos: It is going to stay at five each time?
Mr Kerrio: See, it did not take you all that time to see how the place is run.
Mr Kormos: The place is run so poorly, because people like the member for Niagara Falls have been in the cabinet.
The Second Deputy Chair: Subsection 1(1) has been deferred. Now we are on to subsection 1(2). Is there any discussion to subsection 1(2)?
The Second Deputy Chair: Well, I am looking around. There does not appear to be.
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, it is important for us to know what the impact is of subsection 1(2), and I am hoping that the parliamentary assistant could put his head together with the staff people he has there with him and give us an answer as to the effect of subsection 2, which of course repeals paragraph 7 of section 1 of the existing act.
Mr Kormos: If the minister were here we would know; it would not be a matter of rippling through pages and taking up this time.
The Second Deputy Chair: All right. Come on, you have put the question.
Mr Ferraro: The repeal of the definition of the term “appeal” -- and I will read it verbatim because I do not want the member, as perplexed as he is, to become any more perplexed -- is ancillary to other changes made to the Insurance Act by Bill 68. Under the Bill 68 scheme, decisions and orders of the superintendent will generally be appealable to the commissioner, whose orders will be subject to the judicial review only. Similarly, decisions on arbitrations will be appealable to the director of arbitrations. These decisions are subject to judicial review. This procedure reflects current administrative law practice in the province of Ontario.
The Second Deputy Chair: There is the answer to the request of the honourable member for Welland-Thorold on subsection 1(2). Is there any further discussion? Seeing none, all those in favour of the section? Carried?
Mr Kormos: No.
The Second Deputy Chair: I have not even got to that.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those against please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Mr Kerrio: Right, the ayes have it.
The Second Deputy Chair: Let me see. As I am quickly looking around, I almost see five -- I do see five. We have got a problem.
Mr Kerrio: You have got the problem. You do not have enough members.
The Second Deputy Chair: That is how I look at it. Let’s carry on. Subsection 1(3). The honourable member for Leeds-Grenville, do you have any comments about subsection 1(3)?
The Second Deputy Chair: It is only out of my due respect for fairness to this place that we will allow the honourable member for Welland-Thorold and the House leaders of the opposition to sort out this difficulty.
An hon member: Now he knows.
The Second Deputy Chair: He knows now; so now we are on subsection 1(3). Is there any discussion? There does not appear to be. There are a lot of amendments there. Carried?
Some hon members: No.
The Second Deputy Chair: All those in favour will please say “aye.”
Mr Kormos: Wait a minute, Mr Chairman.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Chairman, what we could do instead of dividing on subsections of the bill is wait until the section is completed and divide on each section of the bill.
The Second Deputy Chair: I was only trying to be accommodating.
The Second Deputy Chair: I have to defer to the House leader. Is it the pleasure of the committee that we deal with a section and not each subsection, as I was doing?
The Second Deputy Chair: That solves that problem. We had only got as far as subsections 1(1) and 1(2). What do we do to correct that when we have the votes? Do we wipe that all out and go back?
Is it agreed that with subsections 1(1) and 1(2), which had been carried but a vote deferred, we will now deal just with the whole section 1? Agreed. Now we are just going to deal with section 1. Now we are starting fresh.
Mr Kormos: The same questions do not have to be asked again.
The Second Deputy Chair: They can be, but it would be nice if you did not.
Mr Kormos: Let’s get down to subsection 1(3). I want to know from the parliamentary assistant how much of the commission’s and commissioner’s powers are by statute as compared to regulatory powers to be defined post facto.
Mr Ferraro: The legal department of my ministry tells me that indeed most of the powers for the insurance commissioner are established by statute. Indeed, it is somewhat difficult to give powers if they are not based in statute.
The Second Deputy Chair: We are still dealing with section 1.
Mr Kormos: I understand that. I am wondering if the regulatory outline of the role of commissioner is complete. If it is complete, is it available?
Mr Ferraro: I am not exactly sure -- does the member mean the regulations accompanying Bill 68? Is that what he is referring to?
Mr Kormos: The member should know what I mean. I do not mean the so-called no-faults. That is part of the problem with closure. Those guys have no idea of how incomplete this stuff is. Then they try to ram it through in two afternoons and they are left with this sort of slipshod mishandling of an important bill.
Now, I have to put a question. I wish I could ask this question of the minister, but the minister did not want to show up for the committee hearings and now he does not want to show up for committee of the whole. I want to know if the regulations that specify the powers of the commission and the commissioner are complete.
Mr Ferraro: After having participated in this process with the member for Welland-Thorold for many months now, I admittedly say that I am still not sure as to where he is coming from. Suffice it to say that the powers of the commissioner of insurance are embedded in statute. Indeed, the regulations would then subsequently be passed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. If the question is -- and I think it is -- are all the regulations present in which that individual and his association can function, at this point in time the answer is yes.
Mr Philip: Subsection 1(3) deals with the appointment of the commissioner, the director, and then it refers to section 6, where he in turn has authority to appoint a whole bunch of other people. One of the concerns I expressed in this act was the whole bureaucracy that this act is establishing and how much it would cost the taxpayer. At the time I asked the parliamentary assistant, in the absence of the minister, how much all of this would cost, he was not able to give me an answer. I wonder if he can now tell us exactly what positions there are going to be in this new bureaucracy that he is setting up, what the salaries will be for each of those positions, and what he estimates the total cost of this massive bureaucracy is that he is about to establish under subsection 1(3) and section 6 of the act.
The Second Deputy Chair: Are we at section 6 already?
Mr Philip: No. Subsection 1(3) refers to section 6.
Mr Ferraro: In committee, when we were dealing with that shortly after the original question was posed, we came up with a figure that I think was somewhere around $11 million. That $11 million was essentially the cost of the department of insurance/superintendent of insurance as it exists now. I say to the member now that there is no further definitive amount indicating the exact cost of the commission, mindful of the fact that indeed the bill has not been passed yet so the commission is not even in existence.
The other point I wish to point out is that indeed, as is the case in all ministries when you develop commissions, these figures will become public when indeed they are available.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, I know that it will not be new to you that I ask these questions over and over again with different acts, but I find it offensive to pass legislation without knowing what it is going to cost the taxpayer.
Now the parliamentary assistant says it is going to cost $11 million, but he is not quite sure. I have asked the question as to exactly would the minister now at least name the different posts that he is appointing under this and tell us the salary or salary ranges for each of these positions so that we may know exactly what kind of a system he is setting up. Who are these people? For example -- let’s take them one at a time -- what is the salary of the commissioner going to be? Then, what is the salary of the director going to be? Then, what are each of the positions that the director is going to appoint?
Mr Kormos: And is Mr DelZotto appointed.
Mr Philip: No, that will be my next question.
What exactly are the costs of each of those posts? Would he tell the House that?
Mr Ferraro: I repeat that indeed Mr Scott, who is going to be the insurance commissioner, in conjunction with his duties is in the process of developing his personnel, if you will. There are no specific allocations as yet to any position, and indeed until the bill is passed I suggest it would be somewhat premature. Admittedly he is contemplating his staffing, and as soon as they are available I undertake to provide same to the member opposite.
Mr Philip: Would the parliamentary assistant tell us what Mr Scott is going to be paid?
Mr Ferraro: Suffice to say I do not have the aggregate amount. He is going to be paid on a per diem basis. I am told that it is approximately $140,000 per year for that position and, might I say, significantly higher than what MPPs get.
Mr Philip: One hundred and forty thousand dollars a year? I am sure some of the people who are so concerned about their auto insurance are going to be really pleased about that. The director will not be a per diem, I assume. What will his salary be?
Mr Ferraro: The director is a lady. Her salary is unknown to me, but I will try to ascertain that and provide it as soon as possible.
Mr Philip: I assume that the parliamentary assistant meant that the director is a woman and not a lady. Whether she is a lady or not is her personal business and of no concern to me.
What I am concerned about is exactly how much she is going to be paid. Can the parliamentary assistant to the minister tell us what the total salary component will be of this $11-million bureaucracy that he now says he is going to set up?
Mr Ferraro: Not at this time.
Mr Philip: We have asked for this literally months ago in committee. We have asked for it months ago because the concerns that I expressed -- and indeed my colleague in the Conservative Party, the member for Leeds-Grenville, had similar concerns -- are that the government is setting up a huge bureaucracy that is going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money with no apparent benefits for it. and the least we can do before we vote for it, since we are voting on what amounts to a money bill, is to know how much the cost of this is.
The minister is saying a ballpark figure of $11 million, but he is not sure -- well, now he is sure. Now he comes up with a figure. The commissioner is going to get $140,000 a year. One can assume then that the director -- who the minister says is a lady, and I assume he means it is a woman -- is going to be paid somewhat less. Yet the minister has not even budgeted his total salary component for a bill that he is asking us to pass. I ask how the minister can justify that.
Mr Ferraro: If I offended anybody by referring to the director as a lady, I apologize, but I say it is much more acceptable in my mind to call the woman a lady than to call the woman a man, as the member opposite did.
Mr Philip: I believe that I called the director a person. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant is not too concerned about people. It is fairly obvious that he did not listen to the people or the persons who appeared before the committee.
Would the parliamentary assistant tell us exactly what the procedure will be of appointing this commissioner, since it is after all a quasi-judicial function, and tell us exactly how much advertising will be done, whether it is open to the public or whether it is just another one of those patronage positions that this government seems to be intent on giving to different people?
Mr Ferraro: The process is that Mr Scott. who is only acting, if you will, in an interim position as commissioner, will be appointed by order in council, as is the norm around here for such positions with the government.
Mr Philip: Maybe it would be enlightening to the viewers to find out exactly how Mr Scott was appointed to the acting position. Would the parliamentary assistant care to share that with us?
Mr Ferraro: It is my understanding, keeping in mind the importance of insurance in the province of Ontario today, that the government did a thorough search of candidates who would be experienced to some degree, qualified, and indeed, after having looked at many, many candidates, was fortunate enough to acquire someone of the stature of Donald Scott, who is the past chairman of Clarkson Gordon and a very capable individual.
Mr Philip: I am not in any way commenting on the quality of Mr Scott. What I am concerned about is the process. I would ask, since the parliamentary assistant says that several candidates were considered, can he tell us exactly what the process was of arriving at this particular appointment, which pays $140,000 of the taxpayers’ money for this quasi-judicial position? Were there advertisements placed in the financial papers or in the daily papers? Was this competition open to people who may hold high positions in other government bureaucracies in other provinces? Were there advertisements made known through the various professional associations? Was there any kind of advertisement in the various professional journals, such as the accounting journals or the law journals? Were any of those done to ensure that there was a fair and open competition for this $140,000 position?
Mr Ferraro: I cannot stand here and honestly say that all of those things, as alluded to by the member opposite, were done. I can say, however, that in a position of this sort there was a wide canvas from the standpoint of the ministry, that indeed several qualified individuals were contemplated and that we were very fortunate, as I say, to have a man of Mr Scott’s character apply and indeed fill the position on an interim basis.
I might also say, in response to the member opposite, that he will know there is a concern out there by all people about patronage and that indeed, as has been the case in the past, many individuals of all political stripes, albeit they are qualified, have been appointed to government positions. Perhaps that is a subject for another day.
Mr Philip: Is there a job description that was circulated? Can we see a copy of that job description? Can we see exactly what the criteria were for evaluating those several -- the member says “several.” Several can mean three or it could mean two dozen. Can he tell us exactly what the job description was? Can he give us a copy of that job description and the evaluation that he did in looking at the “several” applicants?
Mr Ferraro: I will see if indeed there is a finalized job description. I can only tell the member that Mr Scott at this point in time is working under a cloud somewhat, from the standpoint that the bill has not been passed, and yet, at the same time, in conjunction with the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, is in the process of developing, if you will, to a greater degree the mandate of the commissioner above and beyond the requirements as elucidated in previous discussions, which are onerous in themselves.
Mr Philip: If I may, on the same point, the minister says the bill has not been passed, but the fact is that he just argued earlier that the position of commissioner is in fact appointed. So surely he would have a job description. He says “several.” Exactly how many people were interviewed? How many applicants were considered for this position? It is a $140,000 position.
Mr Ferraro: He is not appointed, per se, as the bill has not passed, as the member certainly knows. He is acting on an interim basis, bearing in mind the time lines and the requirements that would be necessitated in order to implement this bill, assuming it passes, which hopefully it will this week. But in response to the member opposite, I will see what I can do in getting that information, if I can.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant says that he is not appointed yet until after the bill has passed. Earlier he said, “Well, this is the person who is the acting person and is going to be, after the bill has passed, the de facto commissioner.” All I am asking is for a very simple thing: How many people were interviewed? What process was used so that all the best possible candidates would have an opportunity to compete for this position? What is the job description? What are the criteria that were used to decide on this acting position, since he seems intent on making the acting commissioner the real or de facto commissioner after the bill has passed? Since we asked for this information some six weeks ago, why is it that he is promising the same information today that he promised six weeks ago?
Mr Ferraro: I do not recall suggesting six weeks ago that I was going to get him that specific information. If indeed I said so, maybe Hansard will indicate same. Having said that, I will undertake to get, if possible, the information as requested.
Mr Kormos: We have to sit here and listen to the parliamentary assistant’s piffle. We listen to piffle, we listen to more piffle and we listen to more piffle. He knew weeks ago that these matters were of concern to members of this assembly. Many of these same questions were asked in committee. He could not answer them then. Would the parliamentary assistant please tell us why he would even think of coming to this committee of the whole without some of the material that is being requested of him?
Mr Ferraro: Suffice it to say that knowing full well that the members opposite were lying awake at night concerned about this issue distresses me no end. Having said all that, I can only say that indeed if it was that important, perhaps some of the goings-on in the previous weeks could have been dispensed with in order that we could indeed address that specifically.
Mr Philip: It was of concern to the taxpayer. I had several calls when I asked those questions six weeks ago in the committee. The parliamentary assistant promised to get the information for us then. He has not obtained the information; he is making us the same silly promises now that he made us six weeks ago. Why should I believe now that I will get the information when he promised me the same thing six weeks ago and did not deliver the goods?
How dare he come back six weeks later when he has made a promise to this committee, to the public, to the taxpayers, that he would provide this information. He has had all of this time to get it and he has the audacity to come in without the information. Either he is incompetent, the minister is incompetent or they do not know what this bill is going to cost.
The parliamentary assistant has absolutely no idea what the bureaucracy that he is setting up is going to cost the taxpayers and he does not even have the courtesy to tell us how many positions there are or even the process of appointing these people to these high-paying positions. He does not have the courtesy to even tell us what the salary will be for each of these high-paying positions with the exception of one. How can the public help but think that he has sold out to the insurance companies and now it is setting up a huge patronage system for his friends? That is all that we can conclude.
Mr Ferraro: Suffice to say that it befuddled me, quite frankly, that the member was hung up on this issue. If he was so concerned about it, he certainly could have -- and I certainly do not recall making the commitment that I would get back to him specifically -- but during that period, I did not get so much as a phone call from the member indicating his concern in that regard. I would have made a more direct attempt to try to alleviate his concerns.
To suggest that Mr Scott is a patronage appointment I think is totally unfair and unkind on the part of the member. I feel badly that some acquaintances of the member opposite were not apprised of the situation. All I can say is that we have tried to get the information as quickly as possible.
I should point out for the benefit of the taxpayer that indeed all costs associated with the commission will be charged back to the insurance companies per se and indeed will be charged subsequently to the premium payer. In that regard, I stand by our commitment that indeed premiums will on average only increase 8% in urban areas and 0% in all other areas. So we are mindful of the taxpayers’ dollars.
The Second Deputy Chair: How about the member for Leeds-Grenville? Do you want to share something with us?
Mr Runciman: It is the same subject essentially. I just want to put on the record that the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale was mentioning something like six weeks ago when this was raised. But I want to point out that I initially raised this whole question of the size of the bureaucracy and the cost to taxpayers or to consumers, if the parliamentary assistant wants to indicate that, in December 1989 in the first meeting of the standing committee with the deputy minister, Mr Simpson, appearing before us.
As you may recall, Mr Chairman, and hopefully the parliamentary assistant recalls, the government originally intended to have this legislation passed by December 1989. When I asked the deputy in the meeting in December what shape the bureaucracy was going to take, what number of employees we were looking at in terms of expansion of the civil service, what kind of costs were going to be associated with this, the deputy minister, almost five months ago, had no handle on that.
Now we are looking at five months down the road, with the passage of this legislation imminent -- this Thursday I gather, because of the government’s efforts to cut off debate -- and we are being told again today that the government still does not have any handle on this. That is alarming. It is a frightening prospect for all of us as taxpayers and consumers in this province, and again it is indicative of the fact that this government is flying by the seat of its pants from one crisis to another. They really do not have a handle on this, as we have seen in so many other instances in respect to auto insurance in this province in the last two and half years.
The parliamentary assistant can stand up and say that this is all going to go back to the insurance industry and that the industry is going to pass it on to the consumers. Is that suppose to alleviate our concern? I do not think so at all. In fact, what it does it heighten our concern, because what he is saying is: “We don’t know what it is going to cost, but don’t be concerned because the insurance industry is going to pay for this and ultimately the consumers are going to pay for this. Don’t be concerned about it just because we don’t have any idea what it’s going to cost.”
He is saying that simply because it is going to ripple back to the consumers, we in the opposition party and millions of drivers across this province should not be concerned. We were concerned in December and we are concerned in the middle of May, when this legislation is about to pass, that the government has no idea what it is going to mean to us as consumers.
Mr Ferraro: I beg to differ with the member opposite. I can tell the House without hesitation that the concern about bureaucracy is not a unilateral concern on the part of any specific individual or party in the House. Indeed, members on the government side have expressed over and over their concern about unnecessary bureaucracy, unnecessary costs.
Having said all that, we have a major piece of legislation that is going to significantly alter the way we do auto insurance in the province of Ontario. Having said that as a basis, there is a requirement that in establishing a strong watchdog agency, an amalgam if you will -- Interjections.
Mr Ferraro: What I was going to conclude was that indeed there is going to be a significant change in the way we do business in auto insurance in the province of Ontario, a significant and better way in my view, in the way we scrutinize insurance companies and indeed enforce many of the regulations and aspects of Bill 68. As a result, there is a requirement that some employees be hired. That is only natural. If you have laws, you have to enforce them and supervise them in the interests of the consumers, the 6.2 million drivers in Ontario. To suggest otherwise is totally irrational.
The only thing I would say in conclusion is that with the amalgam of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and the department of insurance, and indeed with the onset of the passage of this bill, all information, including costing and specific salaries therein for the specific positions, will be made public for all to see and deal with.
Mr Philip: I listened carefully to the member for Leeds-Grenville’s comments. He reminds me of the comments of the Russians, who claim that they invented the telephone first.
The fact is that I raised this issue of the bureaucracy and the cost of bureaucracy when it was on second reading. I then raised it again in committee six weeks ago. In both cases, the ministry said that it intended to get back to us with the figures. Now today they are claiming that they do not know what the figures are. One has to ask -- now the parliamentary assistant says, “You didn’t write me a letter.”
The way in which we ask for things around here is that we put it on the record and we assume that when a minister or the parliamentary assistant says, “Yes, I will get that information for you,” he will keep his promise. Writing a letter often does not get any kind of results. I have written to the Attorney General on several occasions. You are lucky if you get a response in six months from that particular minister. Hopefully the Minister of Financial Institutions is a little better at responding.
My question to the parliamentary assistant on this is, since he says that somehow this bureaucracy will not cost the taxpayers anything because it comes out of the insurance companies --
Mr Ferraro: I did not say that.
Mr Philip: Is that not what he said? Then would he like to repeat exactly what he said?
Mr Ferraro: I will be happy to repeat what I said.
First of all, while I am on my feet, may I say with respect to the member opposite, if I undertake to make a commitment to him, as is my practice as an individual, I usually keep that commitment as best I can. I say to the member opposite I do not recall specifically receiving a request for that specific information from me directly. Had I done so, Mr Chairman -- I ask that you look in Hansard and I will stand corrected.
Having said all that, in dealing with the question specifically, what I said was that the costs for the department of insurance, the insurance commission will be charged back to the insurance company, which in turn is charged to the consumers, the drivers of Ontario. That is what I said.
Mr Philip: That is what I heard the parliamentary assistant say and I think that was what I was reflecting. That is the same argument that was made with the travel industry compensation fund, and we are now seeing that the costs of our air travel are going to increase because this government has not been able to correctly monitor people in that business either.
I wonder if the parliamentary assistant can tell us this: How much exactly in dollars is going to be removed now from the budget of the superintendent of insurance as a result of all these cost savings or the movement of positions over into this new commission that he is setting up?
Mr Ferraro: I cannot give those figures to the member at this point in time.
Mr Philip: Can he give us the assurance that the budget of the superintendent of insurance next year will be at least $11 million -- which he has given us as a ballpark figure for the cost of this operation -- less than it is this year?
Mr Ferraro: No, I cannot.
Mr Philip: How can he have an operation like this? My goodness, if he were running a business, we would be bankrupt right now. He only has X number of dollars, he does not know how much this is going to cost him and he says, “Well, I am going to take the money out of this thing, but no, I don’t guarantee then that once I take X number of dollars out of this, they are not going to still have the X number of dollars at the expense of the taxpayers to run their operations.”
He has absolutely no studies. What value-for-money studies, for example, may have been done by the superintendent of insurance to find out exactly how much money would be saved, at least in that particular office, as a result of this legislation? How much money are they going to save over there in the superintendent of insurance’s office since it is going to cost us $11 million on the other side?
Mr Ferraro: I can only say in response that I do not have a specific figure. But let me just say that the superintendent of insurance’s office will be amalgamated into the new insurance commissioner’s office along with the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. Quite frankly, I doubt whether in fact it is going to result in savings. Every new venture of this magnitude requires, particularly in its formative years, a significant civil service to deal with the adjustment period. But I do say without equivocation that all these figures will be made public for the opposition and the taxpayers of Ontario to scrutinize and to decide whether or not it is exorbitant or worth while or unnecessary.
Mr Philip: I wonder if the parliamentary assistant can tell us this. He cannot tell us how much it is going to cost in terms of salaries. I wonder if he can tell us in terms of accommodation costs. What is the difference in terms of its accommodation costs that this new commission is going to take? Where is it going to be located? Are they going to use exactly the same offices? Are they going to require additional office space? What is the cost of this additional office space? Would he give us a dollar figure on that?
Mr Ferraro: I cannot say definitively. However, I can say that it is my understanding that the new superintendent of insurance offices are going to be located, I think, at Park Home, where the OAIB is presently situated.
The Second Deputy Chair: Just before we continue, one of the members in the chair, the member for Oshawa, was always concerned that questions and answers should be directed through the Chair. The parliamentary assistant has been very good at that. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has been standing directly. Actually, I do not mind particularly; it saves some time. But at some time, if we are all getting a little testy, I might have to do that. I am just putting up the warning sign to let people know that if it gets out of hand, I will ask, but at the moment we seem to be getting on reasonably well.
Mr Philip: Has there been a lease agreement signed? If so, for how much? How much space has been rented initially for this new bureaucracy that is being setting up?
Mr Ferraro: I do not have the specifics on that, but I will endeavour to get it for the member.
Mr Philip: We are being asked to pass a bill. In the first section of the bill, we already see that it may be $11 million, but that probably is only salaries. We are not quite sure what the salaries are. Now we do not know what the real estate cost of this bureaucracy is going to be. We are told that the parliamentary assistant thinks it is going to be a particular location.
We do not know whether there is going to be a lease signed, whether the lease has been signed, whether the location has been tendered, whether they are taking over old leases. Do I take it from the parliamentary assistant’s answer -- and it is very hard to take anything from him -- that the present location of the superintendent of insurance will be vacated, and therefore the staff will be moved into the new location? Is that the understanding?
Mr Ferraro: Yes.
Mr Philip: In light of this government’s bad record at vacating leases, can the parliamentary assistant tell us whether or not there is any loss to the taxpayer as a result of the superintendent of insurance vacating the present premises? I assume that there is a lease or lease agreement of some sort on those premises.
Mr Ferraro: In my view, there will not be a loss to the taxpayer. I cannot specifically address that situation. Suffice it to say that if there is a leasing arrangement made between the government and a landlord, that leasing arrangement will have to be dealt with. I do not have the specifics on that leasing arrangement.
Mr Philip: In the past, this government has squandered millions of dollars, and the Provincial Auditor has pointed it out, in terminating lease agreements, because there are penalty clauses in the lease agreements or because in some instances the government signed a lease agreement a long time ago and, in vacating that lease agreement, it is in fact giving a tremendous gift to the developer.
What I am asking the parliamentary assistant to tell me is whether there is a lease on the present premises of the superintendent of insurance, whether that lease has a penalty clause in it of any kind and what is happening when the superintendent of insurance moves to the new location and becomes somehow gobbled up or amalgamated into this new bureaucracy that the government is setting up.
Mr Ferraro: Perhaps I can alleviate some of the concerns of the member opposite in that my staff has received an update that admittedly I was not aware of. The total budget for the insurance commission is $19.6 million. Salaries are estimated at $6.9 million, a total staff of approximately 208 employees, which is an increase of approximately 50 positions over the current number of employees between the department of insurance that now exists and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board.
The entire cost is recoverable in the scenario presented whereby it is charged back to the insurance companies which, no doubt, will charge it to some degree in their premiums. Therefore, in that regard I can say that there is actually a savings to the overall taxpayers of the province from the standpoint of the negation, if you will, of the salaries of the superintendent of insurance’s department in the Ministry of Financial Institutions. However, that cost will be, as I say, incurred by the insureds of the province of Ontario.
Six or seven people were considered and interviewed for the position of commissioner, and the real estate cost is consolidated, as I have indicated, at 5 Park Home at an annual rent, which is also recoverable, of approximately $1.2 million.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant is giving me those figures fairly quickly, so let me recycle them to him and see
Mr Ferraro: Before it was not quick enough.
Mr Philip: Well, he obviously did not have the answers a few minutes ago; now he thinks that he has the answers. He says that the present bureaucracy in the superintendent of insurance’s department is $6 million in terms of staff and $19.6 million --
Mr Ferraro: No, no. That’s not what I said.
Mr Philip: How much exactly is the ministry paying for staff now in the present bureaucracy of the superintendent of insurance?
Mr Ferraro: I do not have the annual statement or definitive breakdown of the costs of my ministry at hand -- I can get the member that information -- but perhaps I can clarify.
Again, the total budget for the insurance commission is estimated at $19.6 million, of which the salary component is $6.9 million. Indeed, the amount of money that is expended now for the superintendent of insurance office, which I believe is something like $11 million, will be a saving to the taxpayers of Ontario in that regard.
Mr Philip: Would the parliamentary assistant give me exactly how many staff there are now in the Superintendent of Insurance operation and what the salary is now? He should give us those exact figures.
Mr Ferraro: Let me try to clarify to a greater degree. The $11 million approximately now is the combined cost of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and the department of insurance that exists presently in the Ministry of Financial Institutions. I apologize if I confused the member earlier. Approximately 70% cent of that, which would be $7.5 million, would be accountable as a cost for the department of insurance in the ministry now.
I think the member’s question specifically was related to the exact number of positions. We anticipate a total staff of, as I said, 208 employees, which is an increase over the amalgam, if you will, of those employed presently in the superintendent’s office at the ministry and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board of approximately 50 positions.
Mr Philip: So am I correct to say that if we divide 50 into the increased cost of this bureaucracy, I should at least get an average salary? Is that what I would come up with?
Mr Ferraro: That would be totally correct in that we are dealing with an aggregate cost for the insurance commission, which would deal with things such as materials that would need to be provided for the staffing and indeed anything else that is required in order to operate effectively.
Mr Philip: But the figures that I asked for were not the total operational costs but rather the salary costs. How would the costs of paper, pencils, whatever it is, the administrative extras, telephones, be included in the salary costs? I just do not understand the parliamentary assistant’s answer.
Mr Ferraro: The figures were not necessarily -- I do not think you can relate them. The $11 million was for the total cost, including telephones, paper and pens and so forth. The other figure I referred to was $19.6 million, which included the same, and then a breakdown specifically of salaries of $6.9 million. I never gave the member the salary costs of the superintendent’s office as it exists now or of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board’s salary costs specifically, so his reference to a relation is not based on any real comparison.
Mr Philip: Would the parliamentary assistant then give us a breakdown exactly of the $19.6 million?
Mr Ferraro: Anything further than the distinction between the total operating costs and the salary costs is not available at this point in time.
Mr Philip: May I ask why? Since we are passing the legislation, it would be a nice idea to know exactly how we are spending the money.
Mr Ferraro: I will attempt to get that information as quickly as possible.
Mr Kormos: I want to talk about rates.
The Second Deputy Chair: Which section is that in?
Mr Kormos: We are dealing with subsection 1(3).
The Second Deputy Chair: Paragraph 56a.
Mr Kormos: You have it, Mr Chairman. Subsection 1(3).
Mr Kormos: Well, you have to turn the page. I want to know, because it talks about rates being “expressed in dollar terms or in some other manner,” how a rate could ever be expressed in any way other than dollar terms. Are we going to talk about foreign currency or are the rates going to be some sort of secret process?
Could the minister -- there I go again. We always expect the minister to be available for some commentary, but he did not show up during committee and now he does not show up during committee of the whole with the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, whom the minister has forced to be here today because the minister wants to distance himself from this legislation. Would that parliamentary assistant please explain how rates could be expressed in a term other than dollar terms?
Mr Ferraro: Initially, let me say that I am indebted to the minister for giving me the enjoyable opportunity of being here today. Not only is it enjoyable, but I find it very penitential.
I am not sure I can appropriately answer the member, so I will rely on the brains in the ministry, if I may. Rates are sometimes expressed in percentage terms, for example, as opposed to a dollar classification. We all know that, to use the analogy, seniors get discount rates of 10% on certain things.
Mr Kormos: We are going to stick with this. Is he suggesting that rates will be expressed at any point in a term other than in dollars and cents, other than in dollar terms?
Mr Ferraro: I am sorry, I think the member asked the same question, in which case I will respond. Other than dollar terms, you can have percentages; for example, a 10% discount for seniors.
Mr Kormos: The section talks about “‘Rate’.. .means all amounts payable... expressed in dollar terms or in some other manner.” Is the amount payable going to be expressed in anything other than dollar terms, and can the parliamentary assistant please be specific with examples about how it is going to otherwise be expressed?
Mr Ferraro: Other than indicating that “rate” can be an expression other than dollar terms, indeed in percentage forms, the only thing I can say is that rate is a definition and part of the legal requirement of establishing a statute is that sometimes things that seem very simple must be convoluted to some degree in order to satisfy the judicial system that exists in our province.
If I may, as well, with the indulgence of the member opposite, I have been given some additional information dealing with the budget that may be of interest to the members opposite.
Mr Philip: Why not? I have a bunch of figures; may as well get some more.
Mr Ferraro: Okay, dealing with the year 1988-89, the insurance division, which is the superintendent’s office and other offices in the ministry now, cost $4.7 million to the taxpayers of Ontario, of which $2.8 million comprised the salaries. The Ontario Automobile Insurance Board during that same period cost $6.4 million for an aggregate, obviously, between the two of $11.1 million. Of that $6.4 million, specifically $2.2 million was allocated for salaries. There is an increase of $8 million in 1990, obviously to account for the aggregate of $19.6 million.
Dealing specifically with the number of employees, another question that was asked by the member opposite, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board had 47 and the superintendent’s office had 100 employees. I remind the House and the member opposite that it is anticipated that 208 employees will comprise the new Ontario Insurance Commission.
Mr Kormos: Let’s get back to rates. It says they can be expressed in dollar terms. That is as if your premium is going to be $2,000 or $3,000 or, more likely, $4,000 or $5,000, because we know that the minister has already promised premium increases of up to 50 per cent and, for some third of a million people, premium increases of as high as 80 per cent. But it says “expressed in dollar terms or in some other manner.
I appreciate the parliamentary assistant answering my good friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, but he did not answer my request that he be specific in an example of how rates could be expressed “in some other manner,” other than dollar terms. Will he give us a “for example” so that we will know what we are dealing with here.
Mr Ferraro: I am not sure I am going to be able to satisfy the member opposite; I am not sure anyone can, Mr Chairman. Suffice it to say it was my understanding that the rate will be essentially in a dollar-and-cent category or in a percentage category.
For example, we have said on this side that with the passage of this bill there will be an average increase of 8% in urban areas to the existing premium, bearing in mind that if we did not pass this bill we would be substantially over 30%, and that indeed in other areas there will be a 0% increase, and the member is quite right. As in the case of all averaging, some people will have increases substantially higher than 8% and, indeed, a large portion of the 6.2 million drivers will have substantial decreases in the same amount. But indeed, just to reiterate, it can be either in a dollar-and-cent form or percentage form.
Mr Kormos: Now that we are on that, let’s ask the parliamentary assistant how many drivers are going to enjoy decreases in their insurance premiums once this bill is passed. Surely, if the government can tell the public that drivers are going to face premium increases of up to 50%, it must know which ones are going to go up and which ones are going to go down. How many drivers are going to enjoy premium decreases as the parliamentary assistant just spoke of them?
Mr Ferraro: I will endeavour to see if I can be more specific with an answer, but let me say this. My staff will endeavour to get that information specifically for him.
Mr Kormos: You don’t have it.
Mr Ferraro: But let me say this: There will be thousands and thousands of people who will receive -- equally significant, if you will -- 50% reductions in their premiums.
Mr Kormos: Fifty per cent.
Mr Ferraro: Indeed, there will be averaging, and I reiterate, 8% on average in urban areas and 0% in other areas. And I will say that if this bill does not get passed, never mind the 300,000 people who, as a result of their driving record and indeed other circumstances, will be paying exorbitant premiums, if you will, by normal standards.
Mr Kormos: Shameful.
The Acting Chair (Mr Polsinelli): Order.
Mr Ferraro: But six million, or 5.5 million people, will be forced to pay 30% increases, at the very least, if this bill does not get passed.
The Acting Chair: Keep in mind, the member for Welland-Thorold particularly, that when he is placing his questions, I am finding that very few members, if any, interrupt. I would ask him to extend the same courtesy to other members when they are responding.
Mr Kormos: The Liberals’ embarrassment about this bill is their problem. The parliamentary assistant talked about thousands of people who were going to enjoy decreases of up to 50%. Would he please describe the driver who is going to get a 50% premium decrease. This one we have to hear.
The Acting Chair: Does the parliamentary assistant wish to answer that?
Mr Kormos: We know that the Chairman cannot force people to answer questions.
The Acting Chair: Order.
Mr Ferraro: The only thing I would say to the member opposite is that, first, this government is not embarrassed whatsoever by this legislation.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Well, you should be.
Mr Ferraro: In fact, we are very proud of it, and I say that quite openly and without hesitation.
At this juncture, I cannot be specific with regard to the member’s request for that. I should perhaps, with respect, indicate that I may have been erroneous when I suggested that people will have 50% reductions. However, I may be correct in that regard.
I can say, however, because we are averaging, that there will be a significant number of people who will have reductions. The exact degree may be less than 50%, it may be greater than 50%. In fairness to the member opposite, I should clarify that point. But again, I reiterate that there is averaging involved and, as is the case with averaging, there are, if you will, some winners and, unfortunately, some losers.
The Acting Chair: I would remind the members of the House that we are dealing with subsection 1(3) of Bill 68 which is, in the opinion of the Chair, a definition section.
Section 56a, which has been discussed at length. is dealing with the definition of “rate” and I would ask that the members confine their remarks to the section presently under discussion.
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, you will recall that the parliamentary assistant introduced the matter of premium decreases to the discussion of rate, so I am afraid that the government cannot have its cake and eat it too. We are talking about rates in dollar terms. We are talking about rates as consisting, among other things, of commissions, surcharges, fees, discounts, rebates and dividends. The parliamentary assistant said that some drivers will enjoy premium decreases of up to 50%. He then said he might have been erroneous when he said that.
He relies on this average, but it takes numbers to create an average. How can this parliamentary assistant dare speak of averages when he has not got the slightest idea, he has not got the inkling of an idea, he has not got the tiniest idea of the facts that give rise to his bold and possibly equally erroneous statements about 8% averages?
Now, he should come off it. What is the parliamentary assistant relying on when he feeds us this guff about there being premium decreases? Who are the drivers who are going to enjoy premium decreases -- the ones who sell their cars and stop driving? Just who are those people?
Mr Ferraro: Let me see if I can attempt to make the member happy, which I think is a very bold statement initially.
By way of an example, let’s just see for a minute. Let’s take a young male from Welland-Thorold who drives a Corvette, who perhaps is a member of a particular party. There is no doubt that member will experience an increase as a result of the fact that he drives a much more expensive car, that being a Corvette.
On the other end of the spectrum, the people who will likely get a saving would be, for example, someone who drives a less expensive car in a rural area, in particular a senior who does not drive that often.
Perhaps to be a little more specific, I can give a delineation as was handed out to all members of the committee, an impact analysis summary based on policyholders, as opposed to percentage increases. Mr Chairman, with your indulgence, perhaps the member opposite would like me to read this. I am assuming he would. We are talking of percentage change in premiums --
The Acting Chair: Order. We are talking about a definition section, and if the member for Welland-Thorold and the parliamentary assistant and the other members of the House want to spend the afternoon debating the bill again under this section, they are free to do so. But the Chair would ask that you should confine your remarks to the section presently under discussion. I am sure that if we could proceed with the bill — there are many opportunities under the various sections to discuss all the points that we should be discussing, but I am in the hands of the House.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Under this section, “rate” is defined as “in relation to automobile insurance, means all amounts payable under contracts of automobile insurance for an identified risk exposure whether expressed in dollar terms or in some other manner and includes commissions, surcharges, fees, discounts, rebates and dividends.” Mr Chairman, since the rate is a really important issue in this bill, can you tell us under what section I might raise the increases that my constituents and those, indeed, in all of the Metropolitan Toronto area are going to have to pay as a result of this increase in the legislation? Can you point out the section to me? I will be happy to raise it under that section.
The Acting Chair: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale will know that it is not the Chair’s responsibility to explain the bill to him. He may want to ask the member for Welland-Thorold, who is his party’s critic on this. I am simply suggesting that for the members of the House who want to participate in the discussion, they may want to confine their remarks to the section under discussion. If they want to expand their remarks, they are free to do so. I am merely making a suggestion and I am in the hands of the members of the House. The member for Guelph had the floor.
Mr Philip: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: You suggested that we should not be raising these issues under this section.
The Acting Chair: That is not a point of order.
Mr Philip: I am saying if there is another section, then I would be willing to accept your recommendation. Just tell me what other section deals with rates other than this section.
The Acting Chair: Order. We were discussing subsection 1(3) of the bill. Are there any further remarks?
Mr Philip: l am sorry, yes. Subsection 1(3) deals with rates and that is what we were discussing. Both the member for Welland-Thorold and myself were asking the parliamentary assistant to the minister, who was going to save, if anybody, and who was going to be raised? Since the minister in his various excursions, in which he went to places like Windsor the day before our hearings, liked to make press statements on exactly how this bill would affect the rates, we are questioning him on this section, which I believe is paragraph l(3)56a.
Mr Ferraro: I will endeavour to satisfy that concern. Dealing with the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area, I am talking about a percentage change in premium first of all. I beg your indulgence, Mr Chairman. There is a lot of information here and I am assuming the member wants me to read it:
A decrease of more than 8%, again, in the Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area, the number of policyholders is 5,215 and the percentage of policyholders is 0.55. A decrease of 8% or less, there are 88,069 policyholders, the percentage of policyholders is 9.31. No change in their premiums, 6,835 policyholders, which is a percentage of policyholders of 0.72. An increase of 4% or less, there are 118,554 policyholders in the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area, accounting for 12.53% of policyholders. An increase of more than 4%, up to and including 8%, there are 259.376 policyholders, which accounts for 27.41 on a percentage basis of total policyholders. An increase of more than 8%, up to and including 12%, 259,242 policyholders, a percentage of 27.39. An increase of more than 12%, up to and including 15%, there are 102,918 policyholders, accounting for 10.8% of all policyholders. An increase of more than 15%, there are 106,121 policyholders, the percentage of policyholders is 11.21.
Outside of the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area: A decrease of more than 8%, 102,591, for a percentage of 8.12%. A decrease of 8% or less, 521,049 policyholders, percentage of policyholders 41.26. No change, 34,751 policyholders, again outside of the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area, accounting for 2.75% of policyholders. An increase of 4% or less, 356,494 policyholders, 28.2%. An increase of more than 4%, up to and including 8%, 157,179 policyholders, 12.45%. An increase of more than 8%, 90,822, 7.19%.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, I know this question will particularly interest you, because I have added up quickly the figures that the member has given me. I did not add the decimal points because I could not write quite that quickly. According to the minister’s own figures, your constituents, Mr Chairman, and mine -- those in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area -- over 88% of them will receive increases as a result of this legislation. Am I correct in that figure?
Mr Ferraro: I have not added them up as the member opposite has, but we stand by our overall indication that 8% is the average increase for the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area.
The Acting Chair: The member for Welland-Thorold does not want the floor?
Mr Kormos: I defer to my good friend from Etobicoke-Rexdale.
Mr Philip: If 88% of my constituents and those of the chairman, who comes from Yorkview riding, are going to receive increases as a result of this legislation, would the parliamentary assistant explain how that keeps the Premier’s promise of the last election, which is that he had a specific plan to lower automobile insurance rates?
Mr Ferraro: I think it is very clear that while we stand by our indication that in the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area there will be average increases of 8% -- we stand by that -- if the Premier had not shown the direction that he did, they would be experiencing, on average, somewhere between 29% and 44% increases.
Mr Kormos: In view of the premium increases -- even the ones the parliamentary assistant speaks of -- and in view of the reduced compensation paid out, what will the profits be for the auto insurance industry? What are they projected to be for the fiscal year commencing with the government’s implementation of Bill 68?
Mr Ferraro: I do not agree with the premise as indicated by the member in his question, and I do not have those figures.
Mr Kormos: The definition of “rate” also talks about commissions. What types of commissions are people paying now on regular automobile insurance coverage?
Mr Ferraro: I can answer it very generally in that it is my understanding, and I stand to be corrected, that insurance commissions payable to brokers are in the 12% range.
Mr Kormos: Is that commission universal with all brokers and all insurers in Ontario as it stands now?
Mr Ferraro: It is my understanding that if you are selling insurance as a representative, as a broker for an insurance company, there is a remuneration. The exact degree may vary. There may be some incentive plans, and that would be unique to the specific insurance company and the arrangement therein with the broker, but certainly if you are going to work, hopefully you get paid.
Mr Kormos: My understanding when Advocate General was permitted by this government to rip off thousands and thousands of insureds because it went belly up, notwithstanding that insurance consumers believed the government’s superintendent of insurance and its Ministry of Financial Institutions were supervising these insurance companies licensed to sell insurance in Ontario, one of the things the brokers persisted in telling me was that they could not waive a commission, that indeed they were required to charge full commission on every insurance package that they sold. Can the parliamentary assistant confirm that?
Mr Ferraro: I cannot confirm or deny that.
Mr Kormos: I wonder if the parliamentary assistant could explain why commissions paid to brokers in British Columbia are significantly less than the 12% level that is proposed here in Ontario.
Mr Ferraro: I cannot explain that either.
Mr Kormos: I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions could tell us whether this government has any intentions of reducing the amount of commissions chargeable by brokers to insurance customers.
Mr Ferraro: The main concern of the government is to reduce the escalation of premium increases for the 6.2 million insureds, and we fully intend to do so with the passage of this bill.
Mr Kormos: I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions could tell us whether or not this government is considering reducing the amount of commission made payable to insurance brokers.
Mr Ferraro: Not at this time.
Mr Kormos: Why was that not investigated as one of the many means that this government says it looked at to reduce the cost of insurance to the consumer, in view of the fact that brokers in other jurisdictions, particularly in those jurisdictions which sell affordable and fairly available public, driver-owned, non-profit auto insurance, charge significantly lower brokerage commissions than are being charged right here in Ontario? Why would the government not consider that as one of the options in reducing the cost to consumers?
Mr Ferraro: Unlike the member opposite, this party is not specifically concerned about limiting the amount of remuneration that the approximately 7,000 brokers in Ontario get paid. In reference to his analogy with BC, the point I think he is trying to make is that BC has a government-run plan, a more socialist plan in that regard, and that indeed there is no shopping around, there is no competition and subsequently there are variances not only in ideology but indeed in costing of the product per se.
Mr Kormos: Interestingly, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions is sort of right. It is a public-owned system, just as the system that the Liberals run in the province of Quebec is a public-owned system. I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant could tell us what the total amount of commissions were in the year 1989 here in Ontario.
How many millions of dollars were paid out by drivers in commissions alone?
Mr Ferraro: I do not have that specific figure, but I will endeavour to obtain the same for the member.
The Acting Chair: I must remind the House again that we are dealing with the definition of “rate” under Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: I am wondering if the parliamentary assistant could tell us, in view of the fact that premiums are going to go up in this province after this Bill 68 becomes law if the Liberals are permitted to ram it through, what the increased amount of commissions will be paid, in view of the fact that premiums themselves are going to go up and in view of the fact that this government has no intention of controlling the exorbitant amount of commissions payable by insureds.
Mr Ferraro: Again, I do not agree with much of what the member opposite has said, and I do not have those specific figures.
Mr Philip: With regard to the area of commissions, indeed a number of brokers have called me and said that, with the bureaucracy of this bill, probably no amount that they are paid would make up for the problems they are going to have with this legislation.
But my question to the parliamentary assistant is this: A number of brokers have been cut off of their commissions and indeed cut off of their livelihood by companies who arbitrarily decide that for whatever reason they are no longer going to allow that particular broker to sell their insurance. This happened in one case in my own riding where a woman had built up a very good business that started off in the basement of her home. She had the misfortune of writing three people who happened to have major accidents -- it could happen to anybody; it is the draw of the cards that she happened to pull three cards that were expensive cards to the insurance companies -- and her business was arbitrarily cut off by the insurance company.
Am I correct -- perhaps I missed it somewhere in here; I have read the bill several times -- is it true that in this huge bureaucracy this government is setting up there will be nothing to protect the arbitrary decisions against brokers by insurance companies which wish to act against those brokers in an arbitrary and unreasonable manner? Is that correct?
Mr Ferraro: I find it not unusual but surprising that a number of brokers have indicated their concern specifically, and I am sure there are some because I have heard some specifically. But I can say without hesitation that most brokers, and indeed the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, are very excited and supportive of Bill 68, as is the Consumers’ Association of Canada.
To deal with the second part of the question, I think what the member is saying is exactly what this bill is going to deal with. Insurance companies are not lily white, as we all know, and indeed there have been some arbitrary actions, if you will, on the part of insurance companies. They have mistreated not only brokers but, in particular, many of the insureds in the province of Ontario, and it is precisely for that reason that Bill 68 will set up a very, very strong watchdog insurance agency to deal with the arbitrary aspect that has previously existed.
As to whether or not the insurance commission will be dealing with the relationship between a particular insurance company and a broker, I believe that is in its mandate to consider that, although initially I think there would be a reluctance to some degree -- and I just say that on a personal basis -- for the insurance commissioner to interfere with an employee-employer relationship, in essence.
Mr Philip: It is not an employee-employer relationship. These are independent business people who are at the mercy of the large insurance companies, particularly if they are small brokers. I asked the minister -- I gather that the minister’s answer was yes. There is nothing in this huge bureaucracy he is setting up --
An hon member: He is not the minister.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant to the minister. There is nothing in this huge, expensive bureaucracy he is setting up that would in fact arbitrate in those instances where an insurance company decided that it wanted to control, if you want, the market out there and simply arbitrarily tell a broker that that broker would no longer be allowed to sell the product that his or her livelihood was dependent on for so many years. Is that correct; the answer is yes?
Mr Ferraro: The specific duties of the superintendent of insurance, the insurance commissioner and his office, are inclined towards the consumer and the insurance company. There is a process in existence now whereby the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario has membership on a committee with the Insurance Bureau of Canada whereby there can be arbitration on specific client-insurance company relationships, if I can use that terminology, when an independent broker is experiencing some difficulty with an insurance company per se. That process seemed to be working very well in the past -- perhaps not in all cases, but to be more specific, the intent of the insurance commission is not to interfere with what I term an employer-employee relationship.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant is indicating that this is not a consumer issue, the relationship between the broker and the insurance company. But surely the relationship that I have as a consumer with my broker, whom I trust and to whom I give not only my automobile insurance but probably my house and a few other things -- is it not a consumer issue if that broker has his business arbitrarily removed by the insurance company? That is a consumer issue; it is a consumer issue to me and to everyone else who is dealing with that broker. Would the parliamentary assistant to the minister not agree that is a consumer issue?
Mr Ferraro: I would say to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale that the main consumer issue this bill addresses is the relationship between insurance companies and the 6.2 million insureds. I will grant the member opposite that if there is a particular broker who is experiencing some difficulty with an insurance company, perhaps the consumers served by that broker are indirectly, if not directly, affected by that relationship. I can only say that the primary purpose of the commission is not to deal with that specific problem; there is a process in place that seems to be working well in most cases, albeit not to the satisfaction perhaps of that member’s particular constituent.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant says there is a process in place. Can the parliamentary assistant tell us exactly what, under the present act or under the new act once it is passed, the superintendent can do in the case where an insurance company says to a broker who has built up a business, who has built up the confidence of a number of consumers: “I am sorry, you’re no longer going to sell insurance for my company and therefore you’re out of business. Your business has gone kaput, you can go and cancel your lease. The only thing that you’re going to get for this business that you’ve spent 20, 30 years developing is whatever you can get for the customer list, if you’re able to sell it to another broker”? Can he tell us exactly what the superintendent of insurance will be able to do under this act or under the present act, since he says it seems to be working okay, to protect that person, since we know of brokers who have literally had their businesses completely pulled from under them by the arbitrary actions of an insurance company?
Mr Ferraro: I am not sure I am going to satisfy the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Just to reiterate, and I apologize for being repetitive, the intent of Bill 68 is to deal with the relationships specifically between the 6.2 million insureds and the insurance companies to make sure that insurance companies do not rip off, if I can use that vocabulary, the insureds, and that indeed there is a system in place whereby the drivers of Ontario will be treated fairly, equitably and quickly.
The process that, up until now, I have been led to believe, certainly in the ministry, has worked well, has been in situations where a broker has a problem with an insurance company -- I acknowledge, perhaps not in all cases -- is the process whereby the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario and the Insurance Bureau of Canada -- essentially the insurance companies -- have a system of arbitration wherein those matters are dealt with and, up until today, I thought fairly well.
The Acting Chair: Do we have anybody else interested in speaking on subsection 1(3)? Anyone else interested in speaking on any other subsections of section 1?
Mr Philip: I am.
The Acting Chair: What section, please?
Mr Philip: I want to deal with the superintendent of insurance section and that is --
The Acting Chair: Order. So we are on subsection 1(5). Can I take it that we have handled everything up to subsection 4?
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, you were not in the chair when the decision was made that we would take it as a whole so we can ask questions --
The Acting Chair: Order. All I am talking about is in terms of maintaining an orderly discussion. If you are satisfied with subsections 3 and 4, we are now discussing subsection 5, not that we are voting on it yet.
Mr Philip: I am not going to make a decision for other members who may wish to ask other questions on previous subsections. All that I am asking about is the powers of the superintendent of insurance, who is appointed under this –
The Acting Chair: Order. Are there any members wishing to speak to subsection 1(4)? All right, no members. We are now on subsection 1(5). The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.
Mr Philip: Perhaps it is under subsection 4 or it may be under subsection 5, depending on where the regulations stem from. Would the parliamentary assistant tell us exactly how many regulations are contemplated that would be, of course, probably designed by the superintendent and recommended to the minister, but that would be passed by orders in council? Are there regulations that have now been drafted? How many of them are there? What sections do they pertain to and are they ready for examination?
Mr Ferraro: I would ask the indulgence of the member opposite to clarify for my benefit. Is he talking about the regulations accompanying the statute that have already been drafted and he wants to know specifically how many?
Mr Philip: This is important legislation. One of the arguments that was made by the Liberals in opposition was that we should not be passing legislation without having a knowledge of the regulations. Now, considerable powers have been given to the minister and to the superintendent of insurance whom he is appointing under this section. I would simply like to know what areas he plans on dealing with under the regulatory system, because we do not have the regulations before us now, so that we can have some idea of exactly what is being done in terms of the regulations.
Mr Ferraro: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale will acknowledge that indeed there was a circulation of regulations dealing specifically with the no-fault benefit section which were made public, and that indeed, admittedly, the entire regulations will be forthcoming as quickly as they are developed, assuming that the bill passes, and with what specific amendments.
Mr Philip: Mr Chairman, you will be aware that on numerous occasions I have advocated that regulations have a sunset clause put in them and that indeed that complicated legislation should have a sunset clause put in it so that there would be an automatic review to find out exactly whether or not the legislation and the regulations are meeting objectives. Can the parliamentary assistant tell us whether or not any of the regulations will have any sunset clause put into them and whether they will be reviewed by a committee of the Legislature in addition to a review by the cabinet? Can he tell us where the sunset clause is in this whole legislative process for this bill, since obviously he would want an evaluation of it once it were in place for at least a couple of years?
Mr Ferraro: I share many of the concerns expressed by the member opposite and I think he raises a good point. There is, in fact, a sunset regulation of sorts in an amendment form whereby the minister has to, every two years, report to the House, essentially on the regulatory appropriateness and how it is working, quite frankly. Indeed, as the member opposite knows, as he has been the chairman of the standing committee on public accounts, it is the purview of the House that that committee, if it deems it so advisable, call before it the superintendent of insurance, the insurance commissioner, and ask any and all questions possible.
The short answer is that regulatory supervision is an essential part of the bill in amendment form. The minister is compelled to report to the House on a two-year basis.
Mr Philip: Am I correct in saying that unless the government decides to schedule that report which the minister would table, it would not be debated in the House? Is that correct?
Mr Ferraro: The short answer to that would be that if the minister makes a statement to the House, there would not be a prolonged debate per se. There would be. however, the option, and I reiterate, for the all-party committee of the House -- in particular, I guess, the public accounts committee, of which the member opposite is the chairman –- to deal with it in that form.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant to the minister seems to be getting confused between statements by the ministry and reports by the ministry. He says there would be an opportunity to debate a statement by the ministry. I assume the parliamentary assistant meant a report by the ministry. The minister, he says, under his amendment will have to table a report in the House every two years. Is that correct? If it is correct, would he not agree that it is up to the government to schedule the debate of that report and that in fact most reports that are tabled in this House never get debated, particularly in majority governments, when the government does not see fit that it wishes a report debated?
Mr Ferraro: Perhaps in my enunciation I did confuse the member opposite, but I acknowledge full well that there would be a tabling of a report -- and I would be happy to read the amendment if the member so desires -- on a two-year basis. Indeed, in all probability the minister, as is the custom in the House, will make a statement in relation to that report. Indeed, as is the custom and the tradition of this House, there is essentially a five-minute response on the statement. But as I say, the public accounts committee, or any other committee for that matter, may wish to deal with the report specifically and in so doing request that not only the superintendent of insurance, the insurance commissioner, but indeed the minister or the deputy minister, appear before the committee.
Mr Philip: So what the parliamentary assistant to the minister is saying is that with this important legislation, which is going to cost the taxpayers so much, the opposition will actually have an opportunity to make a statement on it of a maximum of five minutes each when the makes a statement that he is tabling a report in the House.
Is that what the parliamentary assistant sees as being the ongoing review that is necessary or, indeed, the concept of sunsetting, which is that when you have important legislation, particularly legislation like this that is in my opinion squandering, but in his opinion, at least, admittedly spending millions and millions of taxpayers dollars; that there is absolutely no review process built in to have us review this; to have a value-for-money look at this and, indeed, hopefully to amend this or abolish it as the case may be? Is that not what the parliamentary assistant is saying?
Mr Ferraro: Again, I am not going to change the mind of the member opposite. Let me just say it is my understanding that many, many reports about many contentious and serious issues dealing with the people of Ontario are filed almost on a weekly basis in this House. And many committees will deal with those reports specifically and in public at the call of that committee and it is no different in this regard.
I might add as well, that unique in this legislation -- in fact uniqueness is the fact that there is a reporting on a biannual time frame, but unique, as well, is the fact that there is a nofault benefits committee. There is an advisory committee to the ministry, to the commission and the commissioner, comprised of just about every spectrum of society — the handicapped, the insurance companies, hopefully the legal aspect, the social workers, the physiotherapists and so forth — that will advise the insurance commissioner and the ministry on an ongoing basis of the need for change and suggestions dealing with the regulatory structure of the insurance bill in conjunction with, as I said, the sunset provision on a biannual basis.
Mr Philip: If there are all of these groups that you are going to appoint as representatives, to have committees to look at these things, reporting to the ministry, would it not make some sense to have a sunsetting clause in this bill so that Parliament could review it in two years’ time and decide exactly how effective it was?
Now, this government has built in a sunset clause in legislation that has stopped developers from plowing under usable, livable, rental accommodation. They put in a sunset clause in that that said that after two years, unless the government brings it back and it is passed, it would self-destruct and the developers could get their bulldozers out and plow down people’s homes. Now, if you could put in a sunset clause to plow under people’s homes, people’s apartments that they have lived in for so many years, then why can you not at least have a sunset clause here so that we could find out exactly whether or not the consumer is being well served by Bill 68 in a couple of years’ time?
Mr Ferraro: I would, in response, say that in the government’s view there is a sunset clause which is unique, in relative terms, to most of the legislation that is passed on a two-year basis. I guess where I would differ from the member opposite is that when a report is filed, usually accompanied by a short statement by the minister, that is an opportunity for the House to review that report. To suggest that there is not an opportunity for the members of this House to deal with that report, in my view, is not totally correct. I will acknowledge, however, that unless the House leaders decide, that report will not be debated at length. However, as has been the tradition, there is an ample opportunity in other venues wherein that report can be debated.
Mr Wildman: It seems to me that we are getting involved in some semantics here. It seems to me that the parliamentary assistant is not really talking about a sunset clause. What he is really talking about is more like a Venetian-blind clause. The fact is a sunset clause, as I understand it, basically says that an agency will operate for a particular length of time and at the end of that time it no longer continues to operate, unless the House, in its wisdom, reactivates or continues the operation of that agency.
In this case, the parliamentary assistant is referring to sunset, but what he is really talking about it a ministerial report to the House, which in fact is not a sunset clause, but rather a very limited chance for a couple of members of the House to respond to a ministerial statement. He does acknowledge it is possible the report might be debated in the House at greater length if the House leaders of the various parties agreed to schedule it for debate. That is true of all reports. For that matter, Mr Chair, I am sure you would agree, particularly in a majority government situation, that the House is essentially at the mercy of the decision of the government House leader and the majority. If the majority in the House wishes a report to be debated, it will be debated; if the majority does not wish it to be debated, it will not be debated.
It is true there are provisions in the rules for members of the minority to refer reports out to committees and the committee could then carry out an investigation on the basis of a report. In the new rules there is the provision, as I understand it -- it is a rule that has only been used two or three times -- that members of the opposition in committees can in fact decide that a particular issue should be discussed, and they can reserve 12 hours for debate.
So there is that option available. But if there is really to be an ongoing review and a real analysis of the success or failure of the agency, what is required is a longer review than 12 hours, and that, again, is subject to the will of the majority on the committee which, in essence, goes back to the government House leader. I know the House leaders like to maintain the myth in this House that they do not, in fact, direct committees and direct committees’ work, but we all know that if the government House leader is diametrically opposed to a committee going off in some direction that he or she does not wish, it seems somehow to filter down to the government members on the committee. The government members tend, in most cases -- not always, but in most cases -- to comply with the wishes of the government House leader.
So what we have here is not a sunset clause at all but, as I said, sort of a Venetian-blind clause where the blind will be raised and there will be a ray of sunlight on the agency for up to maybe 15 minutes in the House. Unless the government House leader is prepared to pull that blind all the way up and to have a real review, the blind will come down again and the agency will continue to operate until, two years later, there is another report and that blind is raised a little again.
Mr Ferraro: Having been a proud member of the majority, and having been in the House for the last several months and weeks and been entertained by the debate dealing with Bill 68, it is difficult for me, as a member of that majority, to say who in fact was at whose mercy. I will acknowledge that maybe there is a distinction between definitions of “sunset,” but I say to the member opposite that notwithstanding the fact that I agree with much of what he said, the reality is that when you are dealing specifically with this bill and with a major piece of legislation, which this bill is, if indeed the report is filed and there were some things in that report that are distasteful to the opposition, notwithstanding the access they have to members’ statements, getting the House leaders on side, calling it before a committee or press conferences, I am sure the loyal members of the opposition will make a point of bringing the matter to the attention of the people of Ontario.
Mr Wildman: Very briefly, I want to acknowledge the fact that the parliamentary assistant has inferred, at least, that majority government does not work.
Mr Philip: What we are doing is we are spending a lot of money here --
Mr Philip: Well, I am sorry. If preventing legislation from passing quickly which is going to transfer $1 billion from the pockets of ordinary people to the pockets of the insurance company is a waste of time to the Liberal members, then that is the kind of waste of time my constituents want. They are quite happy for the waste of time that we are causing at the moment, if that is what the member wants to label it. If asking questions as to the cost of this huge bureaucracy is a waste of time, then I think those are the kinds of questions that the taxpayers want before we rubber-stamp or pass any kind of legislation.
My question to the parliamentary assistant -- since I do not have an opportunity to ask it of the minister, who hid from both the committee and the House -- is, if on this important legislation, which is spending so much money creating such a bureaucracy, it is not important enough for the government to have a sunset clause in it so that it would be forced to justify the legislation again two years’ or three years’ time, as it has done with other pieces of legislation, why is it that it would not at least put into it a requirement that there be a value-for-money audit on this legislation to find out whether or not the consumer is getting value for money in this huge bureaucracy that it is setting up?
Mr Ferraro: I would, without question, disagree with a lot of what the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has said. Suffice it to say that it is the purview of the Provincial Auditor now that, if indeed, as is his right, he feels that there is some impropriety or, indeed, that the particular agency in question, in this case the Ontario Insurance Commission, should be looked at with a forensic audit or whatever, then of course he has that right to do so and should.
It is perfectly acknowledged, if you will, that, nothwithstanding the fact there might not be a specific sunset clause in this piece of legislation, indeed, reporting on a biannual basis to some degree is a form of sunset.
I say in conclusion, the accountability for every piece of legislation that is passed, particularly given the honour of a majority government, goes without saying.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant to the minister refers to the fact that the auditor can conduct a forensic audit. Now, maybe that is an admission that he considers there is something illegal about stealing $1 billion from the taxpayers of Ontario and transferring it to the insurance companies. But, under the strict definition of this, this would not fall under what I would call or what the Provincial Auditor would call a “forensic matter.” In order for something to be a forensic matter, you actually have to have proof that the guy’s hand is in your pocket and that he took out the money and transferred to his own pocket.
I think perhaps the parliamentary assistant to the minister has a more poetic definition, perhaps more correct in the sense of this bill, than indeed would be acceptable to our Provincial Auditor, who tends to be a very straightforward sort of fellow.
In order to do a value-for-money audit, surely there have to be some fairly clear definitions and objectives as set out by the ministry, and there are no objectives set out by the ministry in this bill. There are no clear objectives in terms of statements by the ministry as to how much specifically it intends to save the taxpayer or the consumer as a result of this legislation and, therefore, nothing that the auditor could measure it by. All that the auditor can do is find out whether or not the commissions are operating in the way set out by this statute, and that is all.
I ask the parliamentary assistant why he would not, at least as part of his ministry, set out specific goals for this legislation and then commit himself to a value-for-money audit. Why would he not do that, or would he do that and would he commit himself to tabling a value-for-money audit within two years of this legislation being passed?
Mr Ferraro: I am not in a position to commit the government, or certainly the ministry, to do that. Suffice it to say that we think we have indeed dealt with a very serious situation from the standpoint of it affecting 6.2 million drivers, if not the whole province. To have the degree of specificity that is requested by the member opposite would be almost impossible, and I think he would have to acknowledge that.
I can say that the intent of the government in dealing with the insurance crisis in Ontario in a comprehensive way is to provide affordable insurance rates for the people of Ontario, and we are doing that: on average 8% in the greater Toronto-Hamilton-Wentworth area and 0% elsewhere. Failure to do so in this regard would result in minimum increases, on average, for everyone of 30%. So in dealing with a mammoth undertaking, the degree of specifics as requested by the member are just not possible or logical.
Mr Philip: The parliamentary assistant’s usual line is that he cannot commit himself for the ministry. If he cannot, why is the minister not here then to make a commitment and answer our questions? The PA’s response six weeks ago, and indeed further back, was that he could not provide the answer to our questions. Today he cannot provide the answers to our questions.
If this legislation is designed to protect the consumer, would the parliamentary assistant at least then go back to his boss, the minister who hides from the committee and hides from the House, and ask the minister to give him this answer by Wednesday when the bill is dealt with next? Will the minister, before this bill is passed, set out a clear set of objectives and commit himself to a value-for-money audit within two years to see whether or not those objectives are being met? And will that value-for-money audit be made public so that all of us may be able to see what this bill accomplishes instead of making statements, as the minister did, running around the province a day ahead of the committee and making outlandish statements which this poor parliamentary assistant cannot justify and cannot even comment on?
Mr Ferraro: In response, I may not be able to justify it in the mind of the member opposite, and I understand that, but as far as commenting, I am perfectly capable of doing that. I just say to the member opposite, if he only knew how I had to beg with the minister for me to have this opportunity, and I am thankful to the honourable minister for affording me this luxury and an opportunity to earn my $9,000.
I think it would be somewhat wrong for me to confuse the member. The government feels the accountability is in place. We feel that there is a sunset provision of sorts, unlike in most pieces of legislation that have passed in recent times, that indeed we feel that the accountability is there, and notwithstanding the outcome of any election forthcoming, no doubt members of the loyal opposition will see to it that that accountability is prevalent.
Mr Philip: I will certainly point out the parliamentary assistant’s earlier figure that 80% of the people of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area, as a result of this, can expect their automobile insurance to increase.
Mr Kormos: I want to ask the parliamentary assistant what the rate-setting mechanism powers of the commission are.
Mr Ferraro: The commission, under the management of the commissioner, has the most extensive powers that we feel exist in Canada. In the present situation, they are totally inadequate. The commission and the commissioner will have the power, upon filings by the insurance companies, to accept or reject any of the filings and any proposed increases, if indeed, in his opinion, they are unjustifiable.
Mr Kormos: What criteria will the commission use to determine the appropriateness of rates filed?
Mr Ferraro: The commission and the commissioner will make that determination essentially on the basis of what is just and reasonable, according to their non-partisan and unbiased view.
Mr Kormos: Mr Chairman, this member for Guelph knows better than that. What is this cheap bit of pettifoggery coming from him now? What criteria are that commission empowered to use to determine what is just and reasonable? Come on, smarten up.
The Second Deputy Chair: Does that require a response?
Mr Ferraro: I will acknowledge one thing. If I am so smart, why am I here? Suffice it to say that I am not sure I am going to make the member for Welland-Thorold happy. In our view, “just and reasonable” is as broad and as all-encompassing a parameter for the insurance commission and commissioner, and indeed gives them the flexibility to make a determination in that regard.
Mr Kormos: Does that mean there will be no definition of what constitutes “just and reasonable” for the guidance of the commission?
Mr Ferraro: For the benefit of the member for Welland-Thorold, let me quote specifically from the bill:
“369(11) The commissioner shall refuse to approve an application respecting proposed classes of risk exposure that the commissioner considers,
“(a) are not reasonably predictive of risk; or
“(b) do not distinguish fairly between classes of risk exposure.
“(12) The commissioner shall refuse to approve an application respecting proposed rates that the commissioner considers would impair the solvency of the applicant or are excessive in relation to the financial circumstances of the insurer.”
And on and on and on, Mr Chairman, again within the context of what is deemed just and reasonable, and I think that is just and reasonable.
Mr Kormos: What consideration is this commission going to be required to make of affordability?
Mr Ferraro: Dealing specifically with the rates and what is affordable, it will make that determination on the basis of the economic situation of the day, the automobile insurance industry per se and indeed, what is just, reasonable and acceptable to the people of Ontario.
Mr Kormos: What consideration is the commission empowered to make of an inefficient insurance company that spends too much on overhead?
Mr Ferraro: The powers of the commission and the commissioner are significantly enhanced to the degree that, once the rate filings are in, if that determination -- to use the specific analogy or situation of the member for Welland-Thorold -- is not acceptable, they will not approve any rate increase.
Mr Kormos: This government some time ago promised an insurance advocate to appear on behalf of consumers at a similar type of board. How come there is no insurance advocate included as a part of this package?
Mr Ferraro: It is the intent of this legislation in essence to make the insurance commission the advocate for the people of Ontario and the employees therein. If there is a problem, if there is a concern on the part of the insurers in Ontario, then indeed not only do they have access to their MPPs but specifically there will be a telephone line available for them to contact the commission directly.
Mr Philip: I wonder if the parliamentary assistant would explain to this House how the superintendent can be in both a judicial position and an advocacy position at the same time. Any jurisdiction that has set up any quasi-judicial bodies, be it the Ombudsman or any other body, has clearly distinguished between the advocacy system and the judicial and quasi-judicial system. How can you be both an advocate and a judge at the same time?
Mr Ferraro: It is very simple. In the context of being an overseer, if you will, of the auto insurance industry in Ontario, they have in regulation certain rights and certain powers to deal with wrongdoings on the part of insurance companies to the insureds in Ontario. If indeed a consumer has a problem dealing with an insurance matter, that individual merely has to contact the commission and someone in the commission’s office will address that. If not, the commissioner pursuing will address that problem specifically and no doubt quickly.
Mr Philip: This is the same kind of fuzzymindedness that has created problems at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. When there is no clear distinction between the role of an advocate and the role of the Ombudsman or arbitrator even, then you end up with problems.
Where is the equality between the poor little guy who has a grade 6 education and his insurance has gone up in an arbitrary manner, and the large insurance companies with their accountants, their lawyers and their resources? If you are going to make a judicial decision based on information provided by this poor guy whose insurance has gone up and the insurance companies with all of their accountants, where is the equality for the person who has to make the decision in a quasi-judicial function?
Mr Ferraro: I think the situation that will exist subsequent to the passage of Bill 68 will ensure, perhaps as never before, the equality and the logic of dealing with the problem on the part of the consumer. The reality of the situation is that the commission is there to oversee the auto insurance business in Ontario, specifically the insurance companies. If indeed they are mistreating the consumer from the standpoint of either their practices or the amount of premiums that they want to charge, then indeed they will be dealt with by the commissioner.
Quite frankly, I think the beauty of the system is that if a consumer has a problem, he will not only have the problem investigated by the commission but the commission will be the enforcer in order to rectify that, as opposed to having an advocate who then has to go to a quasi-judicial agency. In order to make sure that the concerns are dealt with, you have a one-stop house of remedy, for lack of a better word.
Mr Kormos: What rubbish. Why is it then that this Minister of Financial Institutions and his parliamentary assistant have kept secret the rate filings of insurance companies? How can consumers protect themselves when the government will keep secret the rates that the insurance companies propose to charge them? How can that be?
Mr Ferraro: I beg to differ. We do not keep the rate filings secret. The reality of the situation is that not all the rate filings when originally requested were in. Indeed, when the concern was expressed by the member opposite and by the member for Leeds-Grenville, they requested not only the rate filings but the actuarial reports and studies. They requested 24 and this government released 39, which is unprecedented. I would say with the utmost respect to the members opposite that they got more information and specifics dealing with this bill than ever before in the history of the province, from any government.
Mr Kormos: Let’s have those rate filings right now, because if we are going to talk about rates, let’s talk about real rates. Let’s talk about the real rates that the insurance industry is going to charge drivers in this province, instead of the government’s gobbledegook. Why does the government not file the rates with this committee of the whole right now?
Mr Ferraro: The member will know and acknowledge, I am sure, that a rate summary was filed, that indeed at this point in time the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and the interim insurance commissioner are dealing with some of the rate filings, as I understand it, and that there is no intent whatsoever to hide anything, notwithstanding the opinion and innuendo that the member opposite might want to project.
Mr Philip: If the parliamentary assistant says there is no intent to hide them, why does he not give them to us today? If we are passing legislation, we want to know exactly what the effect is. Let’s have the rates now. Why can we not have them now? Are they not available now?
Mr Ferraro: As the member has heard before -- and whether he wants to accept it or not, it is factual -- many of the parts of the rate filings are sensitive from the standpoint of each individual insurance company. I know the member opposite, notwithstanding his socialist tendencies, will acknowledge that in the free-enterprise system, in the competitive system, there are and have to be some confidential aspects, in particular dealing with rate filings. To suggest that the volumes of material that are presently being looked at by the 0MB and the interim insurance commissioner be released to me would be not only impractical but unfair.
Mr Philip: I think the only thing that is unfair is that the taxpayer and the consumer do not know exactly what they are getting in this legislation. That is what is really unfair.
My question to the parliamentary assistant is this. As my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain has pointed out several times in this House, the Liberals in opposition, vis-à-vis energy prices, advocated the idea of a consumer advocate. The reason the Liberals in opposition advocated that was that they made the argument that faced with the tremendous power, research capabilities and public relations capabilities of Ontario Hydro and Consumers’ Gas, the average consumer, even a very competent body like the Consumers’ Association of Canada, Ontario division, did not have the full resources to make a proper presentation and get at the information needed to have an equal balance with Hydro on the other side, with its public relations people, with its economists, its researchers and so forth.
If that argument could be made and if they could promise, in opposition before an election, a consumer advocate for something like energy, which the Liberals have not kept, surely it would make sense to have a consumer advocate for something as complicated as automobile insurance. With all the actuarial tables, which the parliamentary assistant says are voluminous and presently being studied by the commissioner of insurance, surely it would make some sense to have a balance on the other side; a balance, namely, of a consumer advocate, in the same way that the government has appointed, in the case of workers’ compensation, advocates for injured workers. Why would the Liberals not carry through the principle in terms of the consumer, both for energy, which is another election promise they have broken, and for this, which would seem to be a reasonable request?
Mr Ferraro: I think we are going to agree to disagree on this matter. I think the government’s position makes all the sense in the world. We have established an insurance commission with an increase in staffing of 50 people. When one takes into consideration what presently exists in the 0MB and the department of the superintendent of insurance now, indeed they are advocates and watchdogs for the consumers and over the insurance industry, to make sure there is this feeling of equitableness, for lack of a better word, in the auto insurance industry in Ontario.
I find it somewhat contradictory that the member opposite has on several occasions made a particular request for audits and indeed now his particular request is for a separate entity to offset the insurance companies to act as an advocate, thereby increasing the bureaucracy and increasing the costs involved in the administration of the auto insurance commission in Ontario, which is significantly and directly contrary to some of the arguments he was making earlier.
Mr Kormos: The government promised an insurance advocate and then broke that promise. The parliamentary assistant knows that it promised one and he knows that it broke its promise. Why did it do that?
Mr Ferraro: We are going to disagree again. Instead of one insurance advocate, we have provided an entire insurance commission which acts as an advocate for the 6.2 million drivers in Ontario.
Mr Kormos: Is the parliamentary assistant denying that the member for Wilson Heights, the minister of the day, promised an insurance advocate in 1987?
Mr Ferraro: I am saying that the drivers in Ontario will have all the advocacy that they need in the present context as proposed in Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: And similarly broke that promise. Is this government going to call upon its insurance commission to establish across-the-board discounts for senior citizens?
Mr Ferraro: I can say that with the passage of Bill 68 the vast majority of the 6.2 million people will be getting a discount, as opposed to not passing Bill 68, in which case the vast majority, if not all of them, will be experiencing at least 30% increases.
Mr Kormos: I asked a question. I asked whether this government was going to call upon its insurance commission to establish an across-the-board discount for senior citizens.
Mr Ferraro: I say to the member for Welland-Thorold that we are anxiously awaiting the reaction, in particular, of the seniors who drive in Ontario, and we know they will be happy.
Mr Kormos: Let me tell the parliamentary assistant this: In British Columbia. in a non-profit, driver-owned system, senior citizens get discounts. Seniors deserve discounts, and it is shameful that this government will not even consider calling upon its commission to establish across-the-board discounts. Is this government going to call upon its commission to establish uniformity of surcharges for offences?
Mr Ferraro: We have looked at situations in insurance in other provinces, in other states, and we are looking with anticipation not only to the passage of this bill but, more important, to the reaction that will be experienced throughout the province by the drivers. In fact, it is somewhat confusing; if this bill is as bad as the opposition members say it is, they should be looking forward with anticipation to the passage as well because, of course, if there is dissatisfaction, it should show up come election time. That is a challenge and an experience that we accept readily.
Mr Kormos: We are. We are not so cruel as to want to sell out victims and senior citizens and drivers and taxpayers for the interests of the insurance companies like these clowns are. Why is it that in British Columbia senior citizens are granted 25% discounts, and this government will not even consider calling upon its commission to provide similar discounts to seniors, people over 65, here in Ontario? Why will this government not call upon its commission to provide across-the-board discounts for seniors? Does this government not think seniors deserve that much?
Mr Ferraro: Seniors deserve that much and more, and we are perfectly happy and excited about the aspect, and how our seniors and all insureds in Ontario are going to be treated, so much so that we think our system is better than British Columbia’s.
Mr Kormos: What risk classification is this government going to permit for insurance companies here in Ontario?
Mr Ferraro: That is a determination that will be made essentially by the Ontario Insurance Commission, at least initially. If the member is asking me if there will be a standardized system of rate classification, the only thing I can say in response is that we are not contemplating at this time standardizing a classification system. It may eventually come to that, but at this point in time there is enough of a change in the insurance business, the way we do business. It is a significant and dramatic change, so much so that we think the whole atmosphere deserves a little time in order to adjust.
The Second Deputy Chair: Order, please. The honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, following the standing orders, has brought forward to the committee of the whole House, it now being the termination of --
Mr Philip: I believe I have 30 seconds.
The Second Deputy Chair: Thirty seconds, okay.
Mr Philip: I have 30 seconds. If there is not going to be any standard rate classification system established, how can the government guarantee any kind of fairness in this system? Why set up the tribunal, at tremendous cost to the taxpayers, in the first place if it is not going to have any built-in system to guarantee fairness?
Mr Ferraro: We can say to the member that the equitableness and the fairness will be inherent in the fact that the rate filings of the insurance companies have to be made to the insurance commission, and indeed if there is a classification or something that is not acceptable, it will not be allowed to proceed or be passed on to the consumers. So in that regard it will be dealt with fairly and equitably.
The Second Deputy Chair: The last 30 seconds being eked out, and following the standing orders as directed by the House to the committee of the whole House, is it the pleasure of the committee that the committee rises and reports?
On motion by Mr Ferraro, the committee reported progress.
Mr Charlton: Mr Speaker, pursuant to standing order 9(c), I move that the House sit beyond 6 o’clock.
The Speaker: I do appreciate the member rising on a point of order. However, I think he understands the standing orders, and therefore that is out of order at the present time.
The House adjourned at 1800.