36e législature, 1re session

L088 - Thu 13 Jun 1996 / Jeu 13 Jun 1996


























































The House met at 1002.




Mr Ramsay moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 56, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Waste Management Act, 1992 with respect to the Importation of Waste from one municipality into another / Projet de loi 56, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la protection de l'environnement et la Loi de 1992 sur la gestion des déchets en ce qui a trait au transfert de déchets d'une municipalité à une autre.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): As I start my discussion and as we begin debate between all parties on my bill, I say to the new members and the people watching that it is a very special opportunity and privilege that members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly have that, depending on how lucky we are, maybe once or twice during a government session we actually have the opportunity to bring up a concern of an individual member that must be debated and voted on by this assembly. I must say I cherish it and I know the other members do too.

I'd like to start by explaining what my private member's Bill 56 is. As you have read in the title, the bill involves the establishment of new and the enlarging of existing garbage sites that are primarily for the use of depositing garbage that is imported from another municipality, from another jurisdiction, possibly even from another country. I think this is very important. While we always have to grapple in our neighbourhoods and our municipalities, our counties and our districts with the disposition of our own waste, with modern transportation methods today and densely populated large urban centres such as Metro Toronto, many municipalities or jurisdictions in other countries are always looking for a new home to deposit their waste. I think it's very important that we differentiate between the standards we apply to that sort of disposition of garbage, the waste that would come from another jurisdiction, and that which we have to handle in our own backyard. I have moved amendments to two acts, the Environmental Protection Act and the Waste Management Act, to differentiate and ask for a higher standard when we look at the disposition of garbage that comes from outside of our municipalities.

The bill is very simple. It addresses basically three principles. The first is that the site must be established and operated to the very highest available standard. I think this is particularly important when we're talking about a municipality handling its own waste, but when we're talking about the importation of waste, usually you're talking about a mega-dump. If you're talking about a mega waste project, I think it's doubly important that we apply the very best standards available for our environment to that project. While we may have a standard here in Ontario that states certain requirements, we know that with the different chemicals we find in our waste stream today it's very important that we keep on top of that, that we keep strengthening those standards, that we keep looking for the next chemical that we consider might cause a health hazard and apply the very best technology and standards to the establishment of that site. That's the first principle of this bill, and I would ask the members of the opposition, even if they don't like a particular detail of the bill, to at least look at the standards and address the basic principles of the bill.

Second, the site process and proposal must go through a full Environmental Assessment Act hearing. We hear from the government that potentially, and the Minister of Environment and Energy is on record as saying possibly, the establishment of waste sites in Ontario may not have to go through an environmental assessment. That really scares me, especially when you're talking about the new type of mega-sites that are being developed today. I think it is very important that the scrutiny of the very tough Environmental Assessment Act that we have in Ontario, that was passed by a previous Conservative government, be placed to and put to these proposals. I think it's very important that, while we may be looking at streamlining the criteria for the establishment of waste management sites for our own use, for sure we do not dilute at all the standards we apply to a site that is primarily to be established for the receiving of waste from another jurisdiction.

Lastly and very importantly, as far as I'm concerned, is that when you're talking about a mega-dump coming into your own municipality, it's very important that the local people have a direct say; after all the information is in, after we know the facts, after an EA is completed, that part of the final approval process from the government, from the Ministry of Environment, is that a binding referendum be held in that jurisdiction.

This is one point I put in the bill because of my particular circumstance, which I will address here. I've put in a certain criterion of 100 kilometres, and I've done that to address the particular situation in Timiskaming that I'll talk about in a second. That is certainly debatable, and if we got approval today for this bill to go into second reading debate I would like to see some discussion. I would be open to any friendly amendments that give some flexibility as to how large a catchment area we should have for people to have a direct say.


What I believe is that the principle is sound, that people who live in a municipality in unorganized areas, in counties or northern districts should have a direct say as to the establishment of a mega-dump that's primarily being used to house, if you will, a foreign jurisdiction's waste. I think that's very important and I hope all members from northern Ontario and southern Ontario, when faced with the same sort of proposal, would want to work on behalf of their constituents to make sure their constituents have a say.

The reason I'm bringing this bill forward is that my very neighbourhood faces this type of proposal today. There is now no longer a public sector proposal but there is still a private sector proposal put before the people in my area to establish a mega waste disposal site in an abandoned iron ore mine called the Adams mine site, an old, open-pit, iron ore mine just south of Kirkland Lake. It happens to fall in an unorganized area, so there is no municipality, nor any direct local representation for those people.

Neighbouring municipalities, three councils, have given the green light to this, but the vast majority of people in that area want to have a say about this project. They want to ensure that this thing is built to the highest available standards if it's proved to be environmentally safe. They want to ensure that there's a full environmental assessment process. In the end, once they have all the information, they want to ensure that they have a say. I think this is very important.

This particular project I personally do not care for. This project is basically an 80-million-tonne repository that sits 300 feet above the great clay belt of Timiskaming where all our farmers depend on groundwater to feed their livestock and their families; so basically sitting 300 feet above the clay belt area, about 40 miles by 40 miles in a fractured rock pit. The plan is to put 80 million tonnes of Metro garbage.

That project may be safe, I don't know. But I want to make sure that it would be built and proposed to the very best standards, maintained that way, have a full environmental assessment hearing, and in the end the people in my area should have a direct say whether they want to go ahead or not. We're talking about six trains a day coming through all our towns to bring this waste there. We're talking about putting this waste in this fractured rock pit where water comes in and comes out. It sits right on top of the Timiskaming aquifer. It's very important to the people of our riding that we have a say in this particular project.

I am pleading with the members today to allow this bill to proceed. As I said, I am certainly open to suggestions as to how to modify this bill, especially maybe in regard to the 100 kilometres referendum. That distance certainly fits my particular situation. It may not be appropriate to other situations. I think you have to go by mileage, though -- or kilometrage, as we would say today -- rather than just by jurisdiction. You may have a mega-site being planned on the border of some municipality right next door to another one, so obviously the people of the neighbouring municipality should have a say also.

We certainly need to establish a catchment area. It should be established, I believe, on environmental grounds as far as water-tables and watershed areas. In my particular case, that would involve at least 100 kilometres because the water aquifer that runs underneath this pit goes into Lake Timiskaming, which is the headwater of the Ottawa rivers. We certainly don't want to see nickel and mercury and cadmium coming into our waterways and into our wells. We want to have a say, we want to make sure it's to the very best standard, and I ask members today to try to support this bill.

Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): It's a pleasure to respond and be part of the debate on Bill 56. I certainly agree with my honourable friend from Timiskaming that it is a privilege to be able to bring forth a private member's bill and to debate it on Thursday mornings.

Certainly I found your bill very interesting. It brings forth some ideas on democracy. At first glance I kind of questioned why this bill was being brought forward, and certainly you've explained it this morning, concerns about your particular area and in northern Ontario.

As I read it and think about it, it's not written for all of Ontario. I would very much agree that Toronto-based solutions do not provide the answers for all of Ontario. On many occasions, we found that they just simply don't work. But similarly, answers written for northern Ontario do not necessarily work for all of Ontario.

This bill amends sections of the Waste Management Act and the Environmental Protection Act. It applies to the siting, the expanding and the altering of all landfill sites importing waste from outside a zoned municipality. I'm particularly concerned about altering because that could mean this would plug in if you wanted to make them smaller, if you wanted to close them earlier, if you wanted to put in a new collection system or new, improved, up-to-date, state-of-the-art protection system liners, that sort of thing. We're encumbering environmentally friendly changes, and too many times we've run into situations where it's taken up to three years to work through a very awkward process to improve our environment.

It really comes up with asking for three things: (1) the director must meet the highest possible standards -- I fully agree, state of the art, that's the kind of thing any landfill site should be meeting when they're siting them or developing them; (2) notifies EA boards for hearings, and that's consistent with what's been going on; (3) also a referendum of all residents living within 100 kilometres of the landfill site and at least 50% must support the landfill proposal.

In general terms, I'm very enthusiastic about referendums. I think it does improve the democratic process in general, but today it's awkward to use the referendum process. It's cumbersome, we're not set up for it, and we need a current, up-to-date voters list if we're really going to make referendums work.

Enumerations are expensive and unless it's within a year of an election, the only way we can carry out a referendum today is to go about an enumeration. For referendums to fly in the future, we need a current, up-to-date voters list to be ready to go and then it would be reasonably priced to carry out referendums.

I have some concerns with this bill in that it doesn't meet quite a few things. What about the role of the municipalities that are not affected and that are within 100 kilometres of a landfill site? Should they really be all that involved with the vote? But more importantly maybe, what about the role of municipalities that are over 100 kilometres and could be affected, such as down the Ottawa River or down the St Lawrence? In those types of catchment basins they should be addressed and their concerns should be addressed as well, not just simply ignored. There's more to it than just 100 kilometres. Then there's the administration of a referendum and how that would be carried out.

I recommend that the members not support this particular bill. Our ministry is preparing legislation that will be tabled this afternoon, a new environmental assessment bill.

What we really need is productive scoping and setting out what's needed for a landfill site and the requirements well in advance. What we need are no big surprises as you move down the road to developing these, get it all set out in advance. At present, we are going through an extensive consultation process to involve the communities in the general area.

It's our hope that we will foster cooperation between municipalities. This particular bill will pit municipalities against one another in a struggle to bring in a landfill site for the purpose of importation of garbage.

The 100-kilometre zone is very arbitrary. I really don't see any basis for why we've drawn a circle with a radius of 100 kilometres. Since this referendum will obviously span many jurisdictions, I'm left with wondering how the referendum would be carried out. There is a tremendous number of questions there. Who would administer the referendum and ensure its fairness and impartiality, and maybe most of all, who would be paying for that referendum? That kind of thing is not addressed. It doesn't even address who would be allowed or, if the 100 kilometres reaches into a certain municipality, would all of that municipality get to vote or just the portion that happens to be represented?


This is a map I brought for the honourable member for Timiskaming along with, to scale, a circle of 100 kilometres. You can see how much of Ontario this 100 kilometres would cover. If we were to put a landfill site in, say, Niagara Falls, I guess, because you don't say and the referendums in Ontario are not clear, we'd have half of New York state voting. If we were to put one in Gravenhurst, we'd have most of Toronto voting on a landfill site in Gravenhurst. I don't think the member from Muskoka would be very pleased to have all of Toronto voting on a landfill site in Gravenhurst. My residents in Port Hope would be pretty upset to have all of Toronto voting on a possible landfill site in Port Hope.

This bill is not consistent with our present government policies. We certainly stand for environmentally acceptable options and tough standards to protect the environment. We stand for some streamlining and improving the waste approvals process. It is not consistent to increase the numbers of inefficient, cumbersome Environmental Assessment Board hearings. We certainly don't need more of those and longer ones, and we certainly do not need to increase the time frame to develop landfill sites.

For these reasons I would suggest that the members not support this particular bill and vote nay.

The Acting Speaker: Before we proceed I just want to remind the member for Northumberland -- I know your intentions were good, you meant well -- that no signs or anything are allowed in the House. I hope you will understand.

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Let me begin by congratulating my colleague the member for Timiskaming for the considerable efforts he has made to date on behalf of his constituents, which are made visible here today through the work he's put into Bill 56.

I might in passing indicate as well to the member opposite who just made a presentation and raised some concerns, some more valid than others, that none of those is fatal. I think the member is open for friendly amendments with respect to this issue of the 100 kilometres. None of this is carved in stone. If it's sent out to committee, that could be reviewed. I'm sure we might be able to accommodate the member.

I'm supporting this bill because it embraces two important principles, one being the importance of having an environmental assessment hearing when we're going to put a landfill site in somebody's community. Secondly, it embraces the concept of a willing host. I want to address those particular principles.

So that members opposite in particular recognize how we got into this in the first place, the Environmental Assessment Act was introduced in this Legislature in 1975 and was proclaimed in law in 1976 by a Conservative government, and for very good reasons. The purpose of the act is to provide for the protection, conservation and wise management of the environment. I'm sure nobody here would disagree with that.

The act is applied in the following way: It says that a person or institution wishing to proceed with an undertaking, and in particular in this case with respect to the introduction of a landfill into a community, must do the following: They must consider alternatives to proceeding and alternative ways of proceeding; they must evaluate the environmental effects of each alternative; they must demonstrate a sound decision-making process that minimizes environmental effects; they must compile a formal document for government and public scrutiny; and, if required, they must present at the Environmental Assessment Board at a public hearing.

All the member for Timiskaming seeks to do today is to ensure, and I think quite rightly so, that in specific cases where garbage or waste from one community is to be transferred to another community, that community which is the recipient or the host is entitled to have the matter brought before the Environmental Assessment Board for a full and complete hearing.

The introduction of this act is most timely because I understand that the Minister of Environment and Energy is later today to be introducing a new bill which is going to -- I'm not sure yet -- either exempt landfill sites entirely from the environmental assessment hearing process or lessen the burden on proponents, both of which give me great concern. It's very timely and appropriate that we're considering, through this bill advanced by the member for Timiskaming, the importance of environmental assessment hearings for landfill sites.

So that members opposite in particular recognize as well, it was only in October of last year that I raised this very issue in the House. I asked the Premier something regarding a motion that had been read in this House in 1990. That motion in 1990 read in part as follows, "No new waste disposal sites will be designated within the province without the benefit of full and public hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act." My question to the Premier then was, "Do you still today believe that Ontario's dumps ought to be the subject of full and public hearings on the Environmental Assessment Act?" The Premier's answer, incomplete, was, "Yes, I do." So I do not understand how government members could have any objection to that part at least of this bill, which insists that any effort to introduce a landfill site into a community ought to be made the subject of a full and complete environmental assessment.

The second principle the bill embraces is that of a willing host, and I guess there's some looseness with respect to the definition of a willing host. The principle here is that no community can be compelled against its wishes to take another community's waste. I think that is eminently supportable as well. It's one thing to have to take responsibility for your own garbage, for your own waste, but it's quite another to have to assume responsibility for someone else's.

In the former case, where you are required to assume responsibility for your own garbage, your own waste, it's only right and fitting and just and all those good things, and there is a real obligation on the part of a community to take that kind of responsibility. It provides a real incentive to reduce the amount of waste you are producing within your community.

But in the latter case, where a community is being asked to take in within its borders, within its boundaries, somebody else's waste, that's a different matter altogether. In that case, I would argue there is no obligation on that community to do so. Secondly, that very option being made available to the community which is getting rid of its garbage can act as a very real disincentive to reduction of waste production. It's only appropriate that in that case that community, that proponent which is asking that its garbage be sent elsewhere, seek the consent of the recipient community or willing host. That's only fair and reasonable.

The member puts forward that one way of ensuring we have a willing host is to hold a referendum. That is clearly a means by which we can determine whether or not the community is willing. He is not creating any kind of unfair burden. It's simply a majority of the members. With respect to this issue of how wide we ought to spread the net, who ought to be entitled to cast a vote in this referendum, that's a subject of some fair debate. But I don't see why that subject could not be addressed more fully at committee. I don't see it as something fatal. We hardly want to involve our American cousins in that kind of consideration. I don't think that was the member's intent. Surely we can all agree on that.

In brief, what the member is trying to do here is eminently supportable. The bill is sound. He's embracing a couple of principles which, in fairness, have been embraced by governments of all political stripes during the past 25 years or so, one of those principles being that if a community is going to receive waste from another community, it ought to do so of its own accord, it ought to be willing to take the garbage in. Otherwise, if not, we should not be able to compel it to do so.

The second principle is that an environmental assessment ought to be heard in these kinds of cases where we're dealing with landfill sites. The member has a particular concern related to his own constituency, a very valid and legitimate concern. In that particular case, we're not talking about a small operation; we're talking about a very large operation. It's important that a full, complete environmental assessment be heard and that the community there be found to be truly willing to receive that waste. I have no reservation whatsoever in lending my full support to the member for his good work, as contained within this bill.


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I rise to support this bill. I think what is probably more important than the question of support or non-support are the issues around which the support is based.

This is a very brief bill, but I think it sets out a number of important environmental principles. Implicit in the bill is the principle that whatever jurisdiction we live in or whatever jurisdiction we are located in, we assume responsibility for ourselves, we assume responsibility for what goes on in our jurisdiction, we try not to pass our costs or our problems or our waste, in this case, off on someone else.

It seems to me that if we are going to maintain the earth in an environmental condition anywhere near what we have today or if we're to improve upon the environmental condition of the earth, this is a very important principle, that we be responsible for ourselves, that we be responsible for our conduct, that we be responsible for whatever costs we impose upon the natural environment. I think this is an important principle and it is implicitly found in this bill. For that reason, I would support this bill.

Related to this principle of self-responsibility is a second principle: the avoidance of externalities. That is, if we cannot take responsibility for ourselves, we should not impose burdens or costs on others. For example, what this bill would say is that it is inappropriate, if I operate a farm or if I operate some sort of undertaking or activity, that I would spew out waste that is then passed on to someone who lives down the river or who lives on the adjacent property.

The bill speaks to that implicitly, that externalities are not to be condoned, that externalities create an overall loss for our economy, that externalities create an overall loss for our society and therefore externalities ought to be avoided and the law ought not to allow individuals or companies or jurisdictions to impose externalities, to impose their costs on someone else. That's an important principle that is related to the principle of self-responsibility, so on that principle as well I would support this bill. Implicitly, it speaks against externalities and it speaks against allowing a jurisdiction to impose an external cost on someone else.

Finally, the bill says that if for some reason a jurisdiction is unable to be responsible for itself, if for some reason a jurisdiction must impose an externality on another jurisdiction, the test must be very high, the test must be very stringent. In other words, if you can't look after yourself, if you can't take responsibility for yourself, if you can't take responsibility for the debris, for the waste, for the garbage, for the loss that you generate and must pass on to someone else, the bill says the test must be very stringent.

Again, in line with the philosophy of self-responsibility, in line with the philosophy that we should look after ourselves, we should not expect others to look after us, in line with that general principle of self-responsibility, it is quite appropriate to have this kind of stringent test.

It's important to look at what the three pieces of the test are. First of all, the test must be established and operated in accordance with the highest standard available in the industry. Given the situation we would be dealing with here, in my estimation that's quite an appropriate test. If we refuse to be responsible for ourselves, if we insist on passing the costs of our operation on to someone else, then it would seem to me only appropriate that this be done in accordance with the highest standards available in the industry.

The second test is that the establishment of the site must have been the subject of a hearing by the Environmental Assessment Board. I think that's quite appropriate. Once again, if we are incapable of looking after ourselves, if we are incapable of assuming responsibility for ourselves and we want someone else to assume that responsibility, and in this case it's an environmental responsibility, it seems to me there ought, at the very least, to be a hearing. At the very least, there ought to be a hearing to look at what the justifications are, to look at and examine if this is the most appropriate way, the least costly way, to deal with the situation where a jurisdiction is not able to be responsible for itself.

The third part of the test is a referendum. I heard one of the members from the other side say that while he was generally in favour of referendums, he was not in favour of a referendum as it might be used here. I want to take issue with that. It seems to me that one can design a referendum to meet a number of local circumstances. In this case, it's a referendum of persons living within 100 kilometres of the site. It may be that 100 kilometres casts a wider net than is appropriate; it may be that a narrower net is appropriate. It may be that we should be limiting this to the municipality or the regional municipality that is involved.

It would seem to me, though, it is quite appropriate that if we are unable to assume responsibility for ourselves and we are asking others to assume responsibility for us or asking others to assume responsibility for something that we are doing, in this case an environmental matter, there ought to be some mechanism which would allow those who are being asked to take responsibility to indicate whether or not they are willing, whether or not this is in accordance with their wishes.

I go back to the fundamental principle. The fundamental principle is that we should be responsible for ourselves. In this case, we should be responsible for our own waste, our own garbage, that which we would inflict on the natural environment. If we are unable to be responsible for ourselves, it seems to me that one of the standards ought to be that we can show that those we are asking to be responsible for us do in fact and do in effect assume the responsibility. I believe this is a good part of the test.

Exactly how one would want to develop such a referendum, exactly what the geographical sphere ought to be is something that should be open to debate and open to debate at committee. For example, it might be that a referendum should be conducted along with the next municipal election, something like that. Or perhaps it ought to be along with any other necessary questions that have to be decided between municipal elections, and the municipal council, having received a petition of 50% or more of local residents, must then put it up for referendum. It seems to me that there are a number of ways to do this which are fundamentally in agreement with the premises of democracy and the principle of self-responsibility.


Essentially, this is a sound bill and a bill that speaks to principles that I believe everyone in this House would want to uphold and speak in favour of. The subsection, however, dealing with the issue of referenda may require some fine-tuning, and it is probably appropriate that the fine-tuning be dealt with by committee.

But I speak in favour of this bill. I know the kind of issue it's trying to deal with, that is, fundamentally the kind of issue where someone is unable to assume responsibility for themselves or for their jurisdiction and they want to pass that responsibility on to someone else. This kind of legislation, I would argue, is needed to deal with those situations. While, as I say, there may be some parts of it that require fine-tuning, I think that can be done at committee.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): This is a bill that's been introduced by the member for Timiskaming. His riding, as he mentioned, is the location of the Adams mine site. He has spoken many times, recently at least, in opposition to the Adams mine site. When I read the bill, it's almost tailor-made to deal with the issue of whether Metro waste should go to the Adams mine site.

I must say there wasn't too much reaction, from the Liberal caucus at least, during the Interim Waste Authority debate when the provincial dumps were being created around southern Ontario. There was a proposal for the Adams mine site but it really didn't get off the ground because the NDP government said: "You can't export waste. You can't take waste into another area, whether it be to the United States or whether it be from one area of this province to another. You can't have energy from waste. You can't do this; you can't do that."

We on this side of the House have said, and we continue to say -- as the parliamentary assistant has indicated, there will be a report to the House today from the Minister of Environment that the policy is that municipalities are the ones that should be making the decisions. There's sort of a smell of that in this bill, but not really, if I have time to comment on that.

I suspect the member wasn't too active back in the early days of the NDP reign because he was confident, at least at that time, that there was no way in a million years that Ruth Grier was going to allow a dump in the Adams mine. I suspect that is why he is becoming more active now, because there was a referendum held in the Kirkland Lake area. I think it wasn't whether there was going to be a dump but whether there would be an environmental assessment. That referendum carried and it still continues to be a political issue in that area. Obviously, the member for Timiskaming has been quite active on one side of that and Mayor Mavrinac -- I think he's still there -- is on the other side.

The bill is quite interesting. Many people in this province haven't forgotten the reign of David Peterson, of which the member for Timiskaming was a minister. David Peterson said, "We're going to have a dump" -- an interim dump, he called it -- "in Whitevale and there's not going to be an environmental assessment." His answer was, "You can't please all of the people all of the time." He said there wasn't going to be an environmental assessment; they were just going to put it there. The member for Timiskaming has come a long way, I will say, from the reign of David Peterson, but I haven't forgotten and the people on this side haven't forgotten, and the people from Ontario haven't forgotten. Can you be trusted when you say you're not going to have an environmental assessment, whereas today you say you should have an environmental assessment?

I have a few minutes left to deal specifically with respect to points on the bill. It is an interesting bill, although, as I say, I think I know why it was created. The whole issue of the referendum -- the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Environment alluded to the fact that he had a circle, and it showed that if you follow the vote of a referendum out 100 kilometres, a larger population could be deciding what is going on in a smaller population. I suspect, for example, if you had an area outside the GTA and you had people in Metro voting on that, they'd love to vote on that: "Out of sight out of mind. Let's put the garbage up in Muskoka." That's the problem with 100 kilometres, although the former speaker, Mr Hampton, may be right: Maybe a committee could vary that.

But I have a lot of problems with the issue of referenda. There are other issues in it. You have said in your bill that we'll have to have a referendum with respect to the operation of the site. I don't know what that means, and again I suppose that could be clarified in committee. Does that mean that for the establishment of a site you're going to have a referendum, and for the operation of a dump site on a regular basis you're going to have continuing referenda? I'm sure that's not what the member intended, but it is rather vague wording.

With respect to the opening part of his bill where he says we must set conditions to establish a landfill site outside the boundaries of the municipality, why not set what the conditions of a landfill site are across the province? If you're going to be a proponent for a landfill site or an energy-from-waste facility or anything, why doesn't the government say, "These are the regulations; they're tough regulations, and if municipalities don't fit into that," or, if a private proponent wishes to put up a site, if they don't meet those regulations across the province, "they don't qualify"? It has nothing to do with whether you're within one jurisdiction or another jurisdiction. I believe that should be made clear.

These environmental assessment hearings are very, very expensive. The last exercise the NDP put us through cost us millions. I don't know what the final tab was for that terrible Interim Waste Authority process, but it was terrible and it went on and on and on. Actually, it was probably a good thing, looking back. I had the unfortunate pleasure of having one of the dump sites in my riding and it was probably a good thing that it was so confused and so convoluted.

But I would suggest that the member should concentrate more on saying, "These are the conditions for a landfill site or an energy-from-waste facility, and if you don't meet those requirements, don't bother us any more." It may well be that if those requirements are so strict, you may not need an environmental assessment. Maybe you do, but maybe you don't. It depends on the situation.

But I will remind the member, as will all of us if you continue to talk about taking environmental assessments to the board, that your party, of which you were a minister at the time, not Minister of Environment but a minister in that government, was not exactly supportive of environmental assessments. I am rather amazed that you of all people would be coming out at this stage talking about that proposal.

I emphasize that I think it would be more appropriate that your bill be suggesting that we have a strict set of requirements and those are the requirements you meet, that you don't come along and wing it.

I suggest, as I said earlier, that the whole purpose of this bill is to deal with the Kirkland Lake Adams mine site. I went there a few years ago to view it, as the critic for the Conservative party. I didn't hear a peep out of the member for Timiskaming at that time. I suspect, to be fair to him, he didn't think it was possible. Now it is possible, and I guess that gives him grave concern, but I don't think this is the way to do it. If the Adams mine site is inappropriate, the regulations will say it's inappropriate, not referenda.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I'd like to speak in support of the member for Timiskaming's bill this morning. I think it represents, for him and for the people of his area, a way to deal with the problem of having those of us from large metropolitan areas sending their garbage to areas that are certainly not large metropolitan areas. They're often small areas; they're often somewhat remote areas.

It's very attractive to be able to do so, I must say, when you have the problem of, as they always say, Toronto garbage or greater Toronto area garbage. One of the solutions which is least annoying to the people who live in the immediate area, the people who actually create that garbage, is the solution of sending it some distance. We now send it into the United States, in some cases. We send it to other places in Ontario. These arrangements do exist because there are municipalities -- if you take the city of Toronto, for instance, there's nowhere in the actual city of Toronto you're going to be able to dump Toronto's garbage, so there is always going to be the problem of trying to find a way to get around this.


One of the best ways, of course, is to continue the program of reducing the amount of garbage we produce in the first place, reusing many of the items that in years gone by we used to simply throw in landfills or into incinerators, and of course recycling various products. I think a lot of municipalities have really advanced in this area. We're continuing to see it, despite the fact the funding was cut off. We're still seeing municipalities concerned enough about this that they're expanding those programs for recycling, and this is most encouraging. It means that municipalities that create their own garbage seem to want to deal with that problem or at least are prepared to begin to deal with that problem in a way that in the past they did not.

Mr Ramsay, the member for Timiskaming, has a specific problem. There are people down south who would like to take the garbage and send it up to his constituency. It's interesting. When these proposals are made, initially there's a lot of acceptance of them. Some people at the local level cheer them and they see big money coming in and so on. What you often find is a pattern. I've observed the pattern over the years, where the initial enthusiasm for something like this starts to dissipate after a little while when people understand the ramifications of the garbage coming from somewhere else.

It's a bad principle as well. I'm not saying it can't ever be avoided. There are circumstances where it's going to have to happen, but as often as we can, it is good to be able to avoid this by, as I say, reducing the amount of garbage we produce in our society, and I think there's much more we can do in that direction by reusing a lot of the items.

I give credit to some of the people, for instance, in the building industry who are now using a lot of products once again that in the past used to be thrown away. There are some good pilot programs that we see around the province. I remember the city of Guelph used to be particularly innovative in some of the things it was doing. I remember visiting places in Peel county where there were special programs being undertaken in terms of wood recycling and so on.

But Mr Ramsay and his constituents face a specific proposal that is floating out there. It seems to die one week and be revived the next week. I think he wants to find a solution. He's not being overly radical in this. He's not saying this should never be considered, that the option should be cut off. Much as many people in the area might want that to be the case, he has chosen something that I think he believes is quite practical.

The bill sets conditions that must be met in order to establish or operate a landfill site in a municipality if the purpose of the site is to accept and dispose of waste generated outside the boundaries of the municipality. I think he is entitled to have these conditions placed on it if it is not the garbage from his own municipality.

First, the site must be established and operated to the highest standards available in the industry. I think we want that anywhere where there's a site. I think he's wise to put that in there. All of us, when we see any of these landfill sites around, want them to be to the very highest standards. I suspect that today the government will be bringing in a bill, by the way, which is going to adversely affect the environmental assessment process just as this bill is before us today.

Second, the site must be the subject of a full hearing by the Environmental Assessment Board is his suggestion and a major, mammoth site of this kind is what he's looking for. What I can tell him is that unfortunately today the government will be weakening the environmental assessment process, much to the chagrin of many, I think, on all sides of the House who wanted to see a strong environmental assessment process.

I feel sorry for the Minister of Environment and Energy having to announce this because she'll have to put a smile on when she gets up and says why it's good, and that's difficult all the time to do so. I understand it's not an easy problem. I never want to say it's an easy problem to solve, but you're going to see today, the very day this bill is before the House, the government once again weakening environmental standards. A lot of Conservatives out there that I know in the province are concerned about the environment and I think a lot of them are going to start to be concerned about what the very right-wing section of this party is doing in this regard.

The third is, he calls for a referendum to be held among the people residing within 100 kilometres of the site and the results must indicate that a majority of the persons who voted are in favour of the establishment of the operation of the site. I think what he's saying here is -- he's trying to have what you call the happy host site. In other words, the people who reside in the area, the people who will have to put up with the problems that exist, the problems that are created by bringing this garbage into the area, are going to have a voice in this. It may be that the local municipality says this is a good idea and it may be that they don't.

For instance, I thought the vote that took place in Oshawa was rather interesting, where Oshawa said it didn't want a casino. I was going to send them a letter of congratulations, though some of my colleagues might disagree with me on that. That's what I mean, when people have that opportunity. I think Mr Harris during the campaign indicated if he were Premier that he wanted to see a referendum on many more issues. I think this falls within the purview of what the government has advocated and I want to commend the member for Timiskaming for taking this particular initiative, which is practical and which is in the interests of the people he represents and of course, ultimately the province as a whole.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Timiskaming has two minutes to reply.

Mr Ramsay: I'd like to thank all the members who participated in the debate today. It is ironic, and I guess perfect timing, that my bill that tries to strengthen environmental standards comes on a day when unfortunately we believe, and we'll know by this afternoon, that environmental standards in regard to waste management are going to be lowered in this province. That's sad.

I'll tell you why it's sad: I think you would have a better process with people feeling more certain about the process and probably better success in establishing landfill sites if people felt confident in very strong and tough standards. It's when you have the uncertainty in these standards and a lowering of the standards that we're going to see today that you're going to foment more resistance out there among people who do not want the establishment of landfill sites in their area, especially when they involve waste from other jurisdictions.

Tonight the Timiskaming municipal association is going to consider a resolution condemning the establishment of this site and I know that the vast majority of municipalities in my area are going to support this resolution to try to stop this site.

I'd like to conclude with the last two paragraphs of a statement I made to Metro council in December last year, when Metro council was considering this as a public sector site. It was addressed to them, but I think today it applies to the government, so I address it to the government:

"I want to leave you today with a warning: If you decide to proceed with this project without incorporating the safeguards that peer reviewers consider necessary, without a full EA and without conducting a referendum in the host region, your project will be met with extreme resistance.

"I believe this project is extremely risky and while there would be tangible short-term economic benefits to our region that we sorely need, the vast majority of our residents believe that the risks outweigh the benefits. I support that view and I will do everything in my power to stop you."

The Acting Speaker: The time for the first ballot item has expired.



Mr Hampton moved private member's notice of motion number 21:

That in the opinion of this House, since workers fund pension plans but have little or no say in how these funds are administered, directed and invested; and

Since pension funds account for about $360 billion in Canada; and

Since workers need to have a say in how their pension plans are run and how funds are invested to benefit their future;

Therefore the government of Ontario should immediately bring forward legislation amending the Pension Benefits Act that provides that, wherever a pension plan exists in a workplace, at least one half of the members of any committee or board responsible for the plan and fund administration and investment be representatives of members of the pension plan.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The reason I have brought this resolution forward is because pensions are becoming more and more important, both in terms of the operation of the modern economy and in terms of their importance for workers and their families.

We need only review some of the demographic changes to see how important pension plans have become for workers and their families. Not too long ago it was the custom that people would retire at age 65 and, assuming the longevity of life, that they would need a pension for about 10 or 11 years, until age 75 or 76. That has changed a great deal over the past 10 years or so. First of all, people are now retiring much earlier in their lives, so it is not unusual that someone will retire at age 55. It's not unusual in the unionized sector of the economy and it's not unusual outside the unionized sector of the economy that people will retire much earlier. Secondly, there is all kinds of evidence that people are now living longer, so living until age 80 or beyond is not at all unusual.

This means that the performance of our pension funds and the capacity of our pension funds to look after us after we retire have to be much greater now than in the past because we have people living in retirement for 25 years or more. That speaks to the need for individuals to have a say and have more direct knowledge about how their pension funds are being invested, about what kinds of returns they can expect both in the short term and in the longer term and what sorts of pension benefits they can expect.

The second major change concerns the fact that pension funds are now huge players in our economy and have the capacity to determine major investment decisions and the overall direction. For example, well over a third of all corporate assets in Canada are now controlled by pension funds. In fact, the top 10 pension funds alone control more than $300 billion, compared to total corporate assets of about $1 trillion. An excellent example is the Ontario teachers' pension plan, which is worth $42 billion and alone owns the equivalent in shares of 2% to 3% of the entire Toronto Stock Exchange.

No less a futurist than Peter Drucker notes, "The power of the lender is as great as the power of the owner, sometimes greater, and the shareholdings of pension funds have reached the level where they effectively cannot sell because there are few buyers available who have such huge assets as to be able to own or purchase what is owned by pension funds."

The founder of the German Deutsche Bank, Georg von Siemens, once said, "If one can't sell, then one must take care." In Germany and Japan, where industry is directly integrated into the financial structure of the economy, there is a much tighter relationship between funds and companies, and funds tend to invest in a achieving long-term results rather than short-term profits.

It seems to me, as pension funds assume a larger and larger role in the operation of our economy, that people who contribute to those funds ought to have greater knowledge and greater say into the kinds of investments that those pension funds make.

There's a third important reason that workers ought to have a say in and greater knowledge of the operation of their pension funds, and it concerns the difference between short-term returns and long-term returns. The fact of the matter is that pension funds have by nature very long-term liabilities. For example, when someone is living in retirement for 25 years, as I said earlier, you want to have a pension fund, a pension plan that is invested so that it can finance that 25-year retirement period. You need to look at the long term in terms of the performance of your investment. What has happened, though, is that a number of pension funds in the past have been invested in ways that return very good short-term returns but not very strong long-term returns. That, over the longer term, hurts the capacity of the pension fund and the capacity of the pensioner.

You've got examples, and some of these are recent, where the Ontario teachers' pension plan was utilized in the takeover by Wallace McCain of Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods. After McCain took control of the formerly cash-rich company in May 1995, to help pay off the debts he incurred he has axed the entire grocery products division. This may make good short-term sense, but it makes no long-term sense in terms of the operation of that pension fund and the returns to those people who will depend upon that pension fund.

For this reason as well I would advocate that people who belong to a pension fund ought to have an equal say in how that pension fund is invested and ought to be in a position where they have more complete knowledge of what kinds of investments are being made, whether the returns will be short-term, whether the returns will be long-term.

For all these reasons I believe it is important for this resolution to pass. It states very clearly to the government that there is a need now, in view of the changes that have taken place demographically, in terms of how long people are living and how long they're living in retirement, in terms of the changes that have taken place in the economy, that pension funds are now major investors in our economy and can account for major shifts in investments and major shifts in how companies are operated.

Because of the changes that have happened, the resolution calls upon the government to look very carefully at the Pension Benefits Act and bring in amendments following this resolution which speak to the changes that have taken place in terms of demographics, in terms of retirement, in terms of the size of pension funds and the value of their investment in the economy, and finally this question of short-term benefit, long-term benefit, long-term liability.

I hope that members on all sides of the House will consider this issue in terms of its merits, in terms of the changing demographics, in terms of the size of pension funds and their impact on investments and their impact on companies and will support the resolution.

Mr Ed Doyle (Wentworth East): It's a pleasure to have the opportunity today to comment on this resolution put forward by the member opposite. The resolution we are debating suggests, and I shall quote, "There should be a mandatory requirement on the present voluntary system that wherever such plans exist, at least half of any pension committee in the administration of the plan must represent" members.

While this is a very interesting proposal, a number of questions arise that have to be addressed. With an arrangement such as is suggested by the member opposite, the membership of the plan will have an equal say in all plan decisions, yet it is the employer who will be left with all the risk.

Current private pension benefit plans stipulate the amount of the pension that will be paid to the members based on a formula related to age and years of service, and the employer is responsible for making the contributions. What if there is not enough money in the pension fund to meet its obligations? The employer will have to pay up. Right now employers are exposing themselves to risk, but they're doing so voluntarily. Under this resolution, why would there be a need to make the private system much more complex and perhaps even force employers to wind down such plans, particularly at a time when the future and direction of the Canada pension plan is under debate?


Adopting this resolution and going in this direction would also cause division within and between different members of the organization, especially when it's time to decide who is to be represented on the pension committee. Would it be just the active employees, or would part-time and full-time employees have the same representation? And how about those who are retired or who have terminated their employment and are working with a different employer but are still owed a pension?

It sounds to me like a clear case of making a system that works well into one that becomes more complex to manage. Where is the common sense in this? It doesn't seem to have any.

So many questions arise within this resolution for plans that currently have pension committees. Would they automatically be reconstituted to provide equal representation? Would the employer be able to decide that he or she, or the company, no longer wants a committee to act as administrator, or would they have to get the approval of the new committee?

In the end, the result of this resolution is to make a more complex system that gives members an equal say in all plan decisions, but the employer will be left with all the risk. Why should we institute a format that gives members powers without responsibilities? This is a recipe for forcing private employers out of providing pension benefits.

Presently, employer-sponsored pension plans are established to provide retirement income for employees to ensure that workers can retire and continue to receive some money for the rest of their lives. They have always been accepted as an efficient and effective way of providing some level of income security for retired members.

As I mentioned earlier, pension plans are presently voluntary. Whether or not a company will have a plan is up to the employer. Where there is a bargaining agent, a pension plan is often negotiated as part of a collective agreement. Where there is no agent, employees frequently ask that plans be established.

If such a plan is established, it presently must comply with the Ontario Pension Benefits Act. The PBA sets out minimum standards with which all plans in Ontario must comply, including eligibility rules for full- and part-time members; vesting and portability rights; survivor benefits in the event of death; early retirement rights; and the information that must be disclosed to plan members. It also sets out numerous reporting requirements for the employer who sponsors the plan.

As mentioned earlier, if we decide to continuously impose too many unnecessary requirements in the PBA, employers who currently provide plans may decide to wind them up. Others may decide to not offer them at all, while others might opt for a non-regulated group RRSP plan. The PBA makes the plan administrator responsible for proper management of the plan. The administrator determines how the money in the fund will be invested, ensures that all benefits are paid, keeps all members properly informed, is responsible for filing all documents with the appropriate regulator, and makes recommendations to the employer about changes to the benefits. A plan administrator may be representative of the employer, a pension committee, an insurance company, or in the case of a multi-employer plan, usually sponsored by a union, a board of trustees is established.

Currently, if there is a pension committee, the PBA says it may be composed of representatives of plan members, but it does not mandate proportions. For most private sector plans administered by pension committees, it is rare to have equal joint representation because virtually all are non-contributory. The employer is solely responsible for the contributions.

I encourage everyone here to vote down this resolution. We as a government are not in the business of making things more complicated and inefficient, and in the end this resolution will not increase benefits for workers. If anything, it may in fact weaken the existing system.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): I found the comments made by both the introducer of the resolution and the last speaker very interesting. I would just like to go back to what pension plans are really all about.

I must admit there seems to be some confusion as to how these plans come to be and who has contributed to the plans. It may very well be in certain situations that monetary contributions are made directly by the employer, but in all situations that I'm aware of, it's usually something negotiated between the employer and the employee group. To say it's all the employer's money that goes into these plans is not correct. What we're talking about is a deferred wage or a deferred payment that the employer and the employee group, through negotiations, have determined shall be put aside for the employee so that once that person retires there's enough money available for that person to maintain a particular lifestyle and to look after them in their retirement.

To me, it seems to be more a situation of just plain old common sense. If it's something freely negotiated between the parties, regardless of who actually puts the money in, shouldn't both of those parties that have negotiated the pension plan have a say in how the pension plan is to be handled? That's really the issue here.

For too long in this country and indeed on this continent, the us-and-them attitude between management and labour ruled the day. I suppose it goes back to the beginnings of our North American way of life. Certainly there seems to be a lack of some of the coherent methods in which management and labour seem to work together in countries like Germany, Japan etc. I think one of the reasons they've been so successful economically over the last 30 or 40 years is that there has been a much closer working relationship between management and labour.

I think a lot of the problems dealing with pension funds stem from that situation. It seems to me that if somebody puts money into a plan -- and there are many plans as well, by the way, that employees put money into directly -- they ought to have a say in how that's being administered.

We've all heard of those situations, and I've got a number of examples here, where funds have been totally mismanaged by the manager of the fund when it's totally employer-controlled. We all know about the Conrad Black situation relating to Dominion a number of years ago when in effect he tried to grab all the pension funds in Saskatchewan. We also know of contributions that have been made to various political parties by pension plans which I would say the majority of the people involved in the plan or who benefited from the plan did not agree with.

You could go on and on and on, but they don't deal with the real issue. The real issue is, who should have the control over money that has been contributed to a plan, either directly or indirectly, by the employee? It seems to me to make eminent good sense that employees should have a fair say in how those moneys are to be managed.

I know there is reluctance by a lot of people who say that as soon as you have an equal representation of employees and employers in a pension plan or in any kind of situation there's going to be constant strife and you're not going to be able to reach a decision on some important matters as it affects the financial viability of the pension plan, let's say.

It's been my experience that once a person comes on to a particular committee, whether we're talking about pension plans, whether we're talking about the Ontario Housing Corp, with which I was involved for a number of years, whether we're talking about any kind of municipal organization, the people by and large don't leave their personal history behind them; obviously it's part of the package they carry into their new position. But most people in those positions strive to do what is best financially for the organization and, in this case, for the pension plan they're actually involved with.

This notion that if you're going to have an equal number of representatives from the employee groups and the employer groups, therefore you're always going to have strife, is something I don't buy into and I would dare say it's something most Ontarians don't buy into. That may have been the politics and that may have been the thinking of the past, but if we want to be competitive internationally, it's certainly something we have to leave behind. I think most employees and employers involved in these kinds of situations totally understand that.


I would like to pick up on something else that the mover of this resolution said, and that deals with the tremendous size of the pension funds that we're dealing with. I have, for example, a note here that states that well over a third of all the corporate assets in Canada are controlled by pension funds. The top 10 pension funds alone control more than $300 billion, compared to the total corporate assets of about $1 trillion. You can see how active a role they play in the economy of this country.

It is further my understanding that the $42-billion Ontario teacher pension plan alone owns the equivalent in shares of something like 2% to 3% of the entire Toronto Stock Exchange. We are not talking here about small players in our economy, small players in our stock market. They are huge players, they are important and I think they are something the contributors should have a total say over and be completely involved in, whether they're from the management side or whether they're from the employees' side.

I urge the members of this assembly not to look at the potential problems. The member across the aisle talked about certain of the problems that the particular resolution doesn't deal with specifically, and I agree with him that these little difficulties have to be ironed out. But I think what we're dealing with in this resolution is the principle of the situation, and the principle simply is that those who contribute either directly or indirectly to a pension plan surely in this day and age ought to have a say in how that pension plan is to be administered and managed. I urge everyone here to support this resolution.

Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the member for Rainy River's pension bill of rights. I think Mr Hampton has brought forward a resolution today that would allow the government, at least some of the backbenchers, to say, "We aren't entirely opposed to workers having a say in things that relate to their work life."

We've seen that through legislation things have been changed and we've lost that, and here's an opportunity for some of you on a free vote -- it's private members' day here in the House. This hour is ours and here's a chance for you as an individual to say that you're not entirely opposed philosophically to the idea that workers would at least have an equal say in something as important in their lives as the future and the management of their pension plan.

I found it interesting that my colleague from the government back benches, the member for Wentworth East, said -- I wrote it down and I'm quoting this -- why would you give workers "powers without responsibility"? I think what the government members in particular need to get over is this idea that somehow workers don't have a vested interest in making sure that their pension plan works for them.

I can't think of a bigger responsibility than one's own future, particularly as it relates to your ability to provide for your family in your retirement years. I would say to the members opposite that that's a greater incentive to make sure the plan works properly than just the bottom line. This idea that somehow workers would be irresponsible because they don't have the dollars on the line philosophically doesn't work, at least certainly not for me and certainly not for Howard Hampton. It doesn't make practical sense because workers have that future that I've just referred to that's their priority.

There's a further benefit to workers that needs to be recognized and I think that's an inherent part of what the member for Rainy River is putting forward; that is, it allows workers an equal say. Let's remember, this is not handing everything over to workers. It's giving them half a say in a fund they're paying for, directly or indirectly, through contributions or deferred wages and benefits in other areas. It allows the workers to have a say in where that money is invested in terms of reinvesting in the local community, reinvesting in related businesses or industries that relate to the work being done. Bear in mind that for the company directors it may not necessarily be their top priority that that particular workplace continue to exist. It may be a greater priority, particularly if it's an international corporation or a national corporation, that its ability to do business somewhere else in Canada is more important than remaining in that particular location.

I don't think that's an unreasonable supposition. I think a lot of corporate directors would think that way, whereas the workers sitting there would have as a top priority maintaining their jobs, maintaining their security, thereby securing the community they live in, and it allows them to look at their community as something they have a greater ownership in and of, rather than just the place where they work.

Their point of view on a given issue or on a given area of investment may vary from time to time, and many times they may agree that in the interest of the health of the corporation an investment ought to go offshore, for instance, or may need to go somewhere else, the United States, but at least the workers would have a say and they would have an equal opportunity to consider what's before them, weighing their priorities against those of perhaps the company. If they meet, terrific, and if they don't, then they can negotiate it, work it through. That is how you democratize the workplace; that is how you give workers a legitimate say in their future.

I sincerely hope that there are a number of government backbenchers who wouldn't follow necessarily whatever line they may be given by the powers that be. Take an opportunity now to show that you are not entirely opposed to the idea that workers have a right to at least half a say in something they pay for, in something they're entitled to and something that directly affects the job they're in now and, most importantly, their own future security. That's what this is.

I again want to compliment my colleague Howard Hampton, the member for Rainy River, for bringing forward this pension bill of rights, and I urge government members to join with us in supporting the concept that workers have an equal say in the future of their lives and their security.

Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House today to address this resolution. I'd like to also acknowledge the member for Rainy River for bringing forward this topic for debate this morning. Without a doubt, listening to his words and his debate in the House until this day, he's showing dedication to the working people in this province by trying to give them, as the member for Hamilton Centre says, more say in the investment decisions of pension funds.

What I'm going to bring to the discussion today is a certain hesitation on my part and a warning, I guess, that what this resolution, if it passed and became legislation, would do is not increase the rights of workers in pension funds but destroy a lot of pension funds that already exist. I think you'd see a windup of a great many private pension plans and you'd see a real hesitancy on the part of employers to have the kinds of pension funds we do today. I'll get into the debate of why I think that is the case.

I'd also like to salute the member for Wentworth East on his comments. I've had the opportunity to work with Ed Doyle on some committee hearings so far, and I agree with his comments. I think they're well researched and well spoken, and I'll try to add something to his comments.

It's interesting too that the Pension Benefits Act has been out for some time, I think since 1988, and through five years of the NDP power in government, they did not take the opportunity to bring this amendment to that act, perhaps as an indication that maybe when they were in government there was some hesitancy as well to make these changes, or maybe it reflects a new trend in thinking on the left. But I think that even members of the caucus before, between 1990 and 1995, may have shown the hesitancy that I want to express today.


If I could make an analogy, I spent some time discussing the Canada pension plan, especially in my riding, and actually held an open house in Port Colborne with the member for Wentworth East on the topic. There's a great deal of suspicion among the constituents in that area and throughout Ontario about the pension plan, whether the investments in that plan maximize returns, are to the best interests of the individual contributors: every working person in Ontario and in Canada. The reason is that there's suspicion of the politicization of the process. With the Canada pension plan there are contributions made and then there are benefits paid out.


Mr Hudak: The member for Kingston and The Islands also attended one of these hearings and he's up on the topic as well. Whenever contribution rates exceed benefits, there is an investment fund created which will be invested for long-term returns to the contributors.

But the politics come into play because the contribution rates are, in effect, a payroll tax. If the rates get too high, they act as job killers. The current plan that's been released by the federal government said that the rates may rise as high as 14.2% in the year 2030, and a great deal of concern was expressed about the effect that will have on jobs. The politics come into play where there is always a vulnerability that a politician will say: "We don't want to make this difficult decision today. We'll put it off to future generations." The contribution rates in the history of the Canada pension plan have not been high enough, with the current level of benefits, to make the plan continue on a pay-as-you-go basis. What was expressed in these hearings was a suspicion that politicians said, "We'll put off until tomorrow, the next year, the next generation, the difficult choices." That's not fair to the contributors. That's a particular vulnerability because the CPP process has been politicized.

There are two types of pension plans in Ontario. There are the public sector plans, which are contributory. Both the employer, usually the government, and the individuals, the employees, contribute to the plans. My understanding is that there is a 50-50 representation among the administrators, which makes a certain degree of sense. If there is a deficit, because the plan is contributory, both the employer and the employee groups will increase funds or make the decisions to meet that deficit. This resolution, if it became a bill, for example, I don't think would have an effect on the public sector funds.

But the private sector funds are the issue we should address and to a large extent are not contributory. They're non-contributory, so if a deficit were to exist, the employer would have to increase the contributions to the plan. If a bad decision were made on a board, by an administrator of a fund, and a deficit did occur, then it would be the responsibility of the employer only to increase the contributions to make up for that deficit. As the member for Wentworth East said, that is giving power without responsibility, which this resolution tries to do.

The problem with that is that then a great number of employers who provide pension funds or are considering pension plans in the future are going to say:

"I'm going to be very hesitant about providing this kind of pension fund to my employees. If a bad decision is made, if I have to fund the deficit, if I have the sole responsibility for making up that deficit, why would I get into this fund in the first place? They can use the Canada pension fund, they can do their own private RRSPs. I don't want the business."

That's very dangerous. This trend we've seen to increase pension plans in the workplace would be reversed under this resolution. I'm very hesitant on that basis.

I'll move a little forward too. To address something the member for Hamilton Centre had to say, there seems to be a faith, which is not always shared on this side of the House, among the third party that representatives of unions, for example, and union shops play a white knight role, that they can come to the rescue in any particular situation, at any agency, board and commission, and set everything right. I think to a large part union representatives are very hardworking. Some in my riding, like Rose Bisson and Dave Miscolczi and Dave Van Helvert at Customs at the Peace Bridge, act on behalf of their representatives in the union, but at the same time I don't perceive them as acting as white knights.

Use workers' compensation for an example. We had the 50-50 board. There was a great deal of concern expressed on this side of the House -- and we changed it -- and among the population that the workers' comp board could not function on a 50-50 basis. Decisions were long in coming. There was politicization there and gridlock as a result. The problem with using the failed workers' comp mechanism in private pension funds is that it's a very serious issue. If there's a gridlock over how funds should be invested, over time as returns accumulate and such at interest rates, it's a great deal of cost to the long-term viability of the plan.

If I could talk about politicization for a second -- and some people may disagree with me, but some others will agree -- if we look at Ontario Works, for example, there have been some threats in the media I've seen to the United Way. If United Way provides any funds to groups that are supporting workfare, the union reps, the union leaders are using some bullying tactics, saying they'll withdraw funds to the United Way. I think the vast majority of union workers support Ontario Works. They want to see it work in the province and they voted strongly in favour of it. I don't think some of the threats that are being issued are representative in any way of the average union worker. It's a political process.

The danger I would express is that the same political process could come into the management of an investment fund, where a union boss on such a fund could say, "We're not going to invest in such and such a company because we don't like the way they do business," or, "We should protect this particular ideology in business," or, "We should support this trend." It's all well and good for politics, but it doesn't do anything for me in my long-term investment returns. I think the average union worker, the average workplace person in Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Wainfleet, throughout Niagara South, is very concerned about the long-term viability of their pension, to make sure they have strong investment returns when they retire. They don't want their hard-earned savings become part of a political process.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Further debate? The member for Windsor-Sandwich.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Thanks so much. That's support from the member for Kingston and The Islands.

I am happy to speak in support of the bill being brought forward by our NDP colleague this morning. There's some interesting debate going on in terms of what will happen should the bill be passed. Will this government bring it forward in legislation? It's one of those bills that is brought forward because of the kind of subject matter it is. It expresses to government the need to have a look at what this issue really means and the meaning behind this coming forward.

I would admit there have been some fairly ironic instances in our recent history that would say, "Look at the irony of the Ontario teachers' pension plan funding corporations that ultimately, in this last election, were significantly supportive of the Conservative Party." There is a lot of irony there. You wonder if those kinds of happenings aren't pushing a bill like this coming forward in the House. That is unfortunately the nature of business. If we look at major companies that are being put together, there really is still only one reason why a company does exist, and that is for its profit line.

The ultimate question today, though, is, whose money is it when we talk about pensions? Is it the workers' money or is it the employer's money? The majority of moneys being put into pensions, from what I have seen in my own community, the majority of dollars are brought forward through a bargaining process on what a worker will earn when he's working or she's working with an employer. When that is bargained, and pensions too are bargained like most other things, it's a wage; it is the worker's money that is being put into the fund. In that regard, shouldn't the worker have some control over what that pension plan will do?

The member opposite just used United Way as the example, and the United Way is the best example of why unions should be very involved in what happens with employers through a United Way campaign. In my own community we have truly equal representation from employee groups and employer groups, from business and management and unions. In our city, in our county, our unions are significantly involved in working with management teams to ensure a significant, successful campaign.

The idea that employers are out not to fund pensions if they can help it or to do something other than what's in the best interests of workers is probably going too far the other way. I have rarely met an employer who isn't interested in ensuring that pension plans will always be there for their employees. Unfortunately, they don't always control the dynamics of the economy and there have been many examples, such as those brought up by the member today introducing the bill, some really difficult circumstances, some instances where business people have simply used that pension plan as a significant little cache to go off and make other purchases and then make significant restructuring within a company that ultimately leads to massive layoffs.


I think those examples were brought forward this morning. Unfortunately there is an irony there. If it truly is the workers' money, how ironic then that it is the workers ultimately who lose their jobs, whether it's through a move to another country or whatever.

We come back to the real question of whose money it is. An employer, I think, wants to feel proud that he can offer his or her employees a pension in most cases. In the huge amounts of money that have been mentioned already, the kind of money generated in some of these pension plans, millions upon millions of dollars, the majority of that money is bargained for. That pension plan is a bargained pension plan and is part and parcel of a compensation for work.

I feel that workers should have a say in what happens to that. Whether that say should be a full 50% may be up for further debate, but that they shouldn't be allowed to sit at the table and discuss what's going to happen with the pension plan is probably unreasonable. There's no question that workers sitting around a table looking at a much larger number of retirees than ever before, a significant aging of the population where we'll have more and more people who are retired living longer and very dependent on those pension plans means that those pensions need to be secure. When you have people who are directly benefiting from the security of that pension and those people helping to make the decisions that will ensure the viability of the pension plan, there is absolutely no reason why those people should not be sitting at the table and assisting in that kind of decision-making.

We hope the government will have a look at this issue. I hope this member's bill this morning will allow this government to come forward and say, "Maybe we can address this." Whether they will come forward and specifically ensure that at least one half of the members of any committee or board responsible for the plan and fund adminstration be representative of members of the pension plan -- maybe it's not 50%, but I think it would go a long way to ensuring that employers and employees can sit together to decide the future that ultimately will be the safety of pensioners in Ontario.

I support the bill and I hope that all the members in the House today will.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I also rise today very happy to participate in the debate and to congratulate the member for Rainy River, Howard Hampton, for bringing it forward because he allows us in this place at this time to focus on an issue that is fundamental to the future of this province.

He presents to us an opportunity to participate in a decision that could contribute in a very positive way to a more focused and direct attack on a challenge that we all face in Ontario today, which is how we develop an economy that's going to work for us, that's going to be in our best interests and that will hold us in good stead as we move into the next century and as we deal with the winds that come at us as we more and more realize the impact of the global economy that we're in.

Certainly there are, in my mind, more things today re this issue that we should be agreeing on than disagreeing on. I don't think there's anybody in this place who doesn't agree that over the last five to 10, even 15 years in this province we've been challenged by a lack of capital to invest in the things that we know are good ideas. To create wealth, to provide jobs and to contribute positively to the economy that we all depend on to maintain the quality of life that we've all come to appreciate and want to maintain in this province, there's a need for capital.

We also, I think, agree that everybody needs to be involved in whatever way that is able to be realized. Not only is it not feasible or even intelligent any more that a small group of people be the only ones investing capital, investing their resources in the future of this province; we all need to be, in the ways that are made available to us, taking whatever resources we have and maximizing the potential so that investment can return rewards that can be shared by everybody in the jurisdiction of Ontario. So I think we agree. We agree that we need some capital, that there's a lack of capital, and we agree that everybody should be involved in contributing, because we all have access to -- in some small way; some people, in some larger way -- resources that we can put in so that collectively we can all gain.

As we look at the reality today and the pools of capital that are out there and the fact that more and more they're controlled by forces outside of our influence, I think it's important that we try to figure out which ones we can still have influence over. Certainly, nobody would disagree that pension funds are substantial and we have still some control over where they're spent and how they're invested. What we're suggesting today is that we extend the role of all of us in the decision-making around where those funds are invested because the impact on all of us directly and substantially will have a tremendous impact on where we go as a people together, concerned about the future economy of this province and how it will evolve.

I want to just very briefly speak for a moment about the contribution that workers can make to the decision-making around where these funds are invested and how they're managed. What they bring to the table is their own experience, their own commonsense approach to managing money in their own lives and the need for any capital to concern themselves about the impact that they have on the communities within which they live and to which they want to contribute.

In Sault Ste Marie, for example, we were faced in the early 1990s with a major challenge, a major dilemma. Algoma Steel was in trouble and the major investor was pulling out, and what were we going to do? The government of the day decided that it would bring to the table all of the players, including the union in that instance. Today we have a corporation that was on the rocks no less than five years ago out there leading the way in the steel industry, making profits like it's never made before and contributing to the life of Sault Ste Marie and I dare say this province in ways that none of us, I think, would have imagined in 1990 and 1991 as we went through those very difficult times.

So I say to you today that you should consider very seriously allowing a greater contribution by those who contribute directly to this fund in the decisions around where it will be invested because it's important that we have somebody at that table who understands the need of the people and the communities of Ontario for investment in the resources that they see around them to generate wealth and to create opportunity. Who any better able to do that than the workers themselves?

Just look for a second at the contribution the organized labour movement has made to the quality of life of this province over the last 30, 40, 50 years. Nobody can deny that. Most of us here are here today because of the education system and the health care system and the opportunity that our forefathers had to participate in the economy and to make a half-decent living so that we could buy things and by that way stimulate the economy as well.

If we look at the contribution that the labour movement made in the specific instance of my own community, the restructuring of Algoma Steel, and if you go back even a little further, the development of the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste Marie, how progressive and thoughtful and intelligent that contribution was.

I don't think you can for a minute underestimate or not stand and support the resolution this morning put in front of you by the member for Rainy River, the member of my political party and caucus in this place, Howard Hampton.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): In the moments remaining, I too would like to add my support to this resolution, as the member for Rainy River has put it forward. I want to add to the comments of my colleague from Windsor-Sandwich, that maybe it isn't necessary that 50% be employees, but because it means so much to the future of any individuals to their retirement future and it means so much to them, that employees in organized situations or in companies that provide pension plans in an unorganized employee environment have the opportunity to discuss those important issues regarding the pension.


Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): It's a pleasure to get up today and support the resolution brought forward by Howard Hampton, the member for Rainy River, on equal representation on pension plan administration and investment.

I believe this resolution is very important at this time in our history because, as we know, we're talking about big dollars. We're not talking about a few million dollars; we're talking about up to $360 billion sitting out there. Howard Hampton, with the NDP caucus, is very much concerned that this money is invested properly and on behalf of workers, and that the workers have a say in it.

I just want to give a little bit of history. In my home town, Kapuskasing, we had Kimberly-Clark and New York Times, who owned a paper mill and a pulp mill. They decided in 1983 that they were going to start to dismantle the mill and close it down. In 1987 they shut down the sawmill; in 1983 they had shut down the Kleenex mill; in 1989 they decided they were going to shut down the number one paper machine. As a result of the Canadian Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union coming forward and being the driving force, they decided they were going to meet with our NDP government at the time -- we're talking about five years ago now -- and they were going to take over the mill. They have 59% shares in the mill.

When Howard Hampton says the government should bring in legislation of this kind, it's happening in Kapuskasing with the employee ownership. At the last negotiations, when union representatives sitting on the board of directors and on the pension plan found out that Kimberly-Clark and New York Times had left them with a shortfall of over $28 million, they decided, "At the bargaining table we'll defer some more of our wages into this so the pension plan stays active and is going to cover all of the pensioners out there, a future generation of pensioners coming along."

There is cooperation and there is worker involvement in some places. In Sault Ste Marie they're involved in Algoma Steel. As I said, in Spruce Falls Inc in Kapuskasing, in partnership with Tembec, the union was the driving force. Had they not been, both the Conservative and Liberal governments during the 1980s would have allowed this company to shut down, and you would have ended up with a ghost town in Kapuskasing. We were fortunate at that time. We pulled all of the stakeholders together. The chamber of commerce was involved at first, but it took the driving force of the workers themselves saying: "Pension plans are a deferred wage. Our wages would be a lot higher if it were not for the company controlling a pension plan." As a result, they have a lot of say and control over what is happening and they should have a 50% share on the board of directors.

I'm happy that Howard Hampton, the member for Rainy River, has brought this resolution forward and I will be supporting it.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Rainy River has two minutes to sum up.

Mr Hampton: I want to use this time to address some comments made by members in the debate on the resolution. One member opposite said that somehow having workers with equal representation on pension fund committees would result in the politicization of those decisions. The member should read the Pension Benefits Act, because the act sets out clearly the legal duties of anyone who works on or makes decisions with respect to the investment of pensions.

It applies equally to worker representatives, to retiree representatives or to professional administrators. It requires them always to act in the best financial interest of the fund. They incur great legal liability if they act in any other way or for any other purpose. In fact, it probably imposes the highest duty that the law knows, a fiduciary duty, to act in the utmost best interest of the fund. For those members of the Conservative Party who think that somehow allowing workers to have a say in something that is vitally important to them and vitally important to their quality of life when they retire will result in the politicization of all kinds of decisions, that is without any legal merit and, moreover, without any factual merit.

The point is simply this: The demographics of Ontario, the demographics of Canada are changing. People retire earlier and they live longer after they retire, which means that their pension funds are becoming more and more important in terms of the returns. Secondly, pension funds are becoming huge investors in our economy. For those reasons it makes sense that workers have some say in those investments and in those returns.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will first deal with ballot item number 35 standing in the name of Mr Ramsay. If any members are opposed to the vote on this ballot item, will they please rise.

Mr Ramsay has moved second reading of Bill 56, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Waste Management Act, 1992 with respect to the Importation of Waste from one municipality into another. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): We will deal now with ballot item number 36.

Mr Hampton has moved private member's resolution number 21. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

Call in the members; a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1158 to 1203.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Mr Ramsay has moved second reading of Bill 56. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Boyd, Marion

Gerretsen, John

Laughren, Floyd

Bradley, James J.

Grandmaître, Bernard

Martin, Tony

Caplan, Elinor

Hampton, Howard

McGuinty, Dalton

Christopherson, David

Kennedy, Gerard

Pupatello, Sandra

Colle, Mike

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Cooke, David S.

Kwinter, Monte

Ruprecht, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Duncan, Dwight

Lankin, Frances

Wood, Len

The Acting Speaker: All those opposed to the motion will please rise.


Arnott, Ted

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Sampson, Rob

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Shea, Derwyn

Bassett, Isabel

Hudak, Tim

Sheehan, Frank

Beaubien, Marcel

Johnson, Ron

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, Leo

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

DeFaria, Carl

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Doyle, Ed

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Murdoch, Bill

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

Pettit, Trevor

Young, Terence H.

Gilchrist, Steve

Preston, Peter


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 24; the nays are 41.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

Before I move to the second order I will cause the doors to open for 30 seconds.


The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Mr Hampton has moved private member's notice of motion number 21. All those in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Boyd, Marion

Grandmaître, Bernard

Martin, Tony

Bradley, James J.

Hampton, Howard

McGuinty, Dalton

Christopherson, David

Kennedy, Gerard

Pupatello, Sandra

Colle, Mike

Kormos, Peter

Ramsay, David

Cooke, David S.

Kwinter, Monte

Ruprecht, Tony

Crozier, Bruce

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Sergio, Mario

Duncan, Dwight

Lankin, Frances

Wildman, Bud

Gerretsen, John

Laughren, Floyd

Wood, Len

The Acting Speaker: All those opposed will please stand and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.


Arnott, Ted

Grimmett, Bill

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Baird, John R.

Guzzo, Garry J.

Sampson, Rob

Barrett, Toby

Hastings, John

Shea, Derwyn

Bassett, Isabel

Hudak, Tim

Sheehan, Frank

Beaubien, Marcel

Johnson, Ron

Skarica, Toni

Chudleigh, Ted

Jordan, Leo

Smith, Bruce

Danford, Harry

Leadston, Gary L.

Stewart, R. Gary

DeFaria, Carl

Martiniuk, Gerry

Tilson, David

Doyle, Ed

Maves, Bart

Turnbull, David

Ford, Douglas B.

Munro, Julia

Vankoughnet, Bill

Fox, Gary

Murdoch, Bill

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Froese, Tom

Ouellette, Jerry J.

Wood, Bob

Galt, Doug

Pettit, Trevor

Young, Terence H.

Gilchrist, Steve

Preston, Peter


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 24; the nays are 41.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

All matters relating to private members' public business having been completed for today, I do now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30 pm.

The House recessed from 1210 to 1330.



Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): We have been urging the Ministry of Health to have a very good look at Essex county in the area of doctor shortages. As you know, this has been a pressing issue for some time. I would like to direct my comments to all members of the House, in particular to the member for Lincoln, the chairman of the Red Tape Review Commission.

As you know, we were directed by the minister to submit information, and a package needed to be filled in on underserviced areas. We received our response from that submission and we were told that yes, you must fill in these details in order to get your designation:

"Should municipalities and/or townships wish to work together to address these issues and combine their efforts in applying for designation, each municipality and township must pass a resolution that they want to be considered together and that they will not be applying for designation on their own."

It goes on to list the various levels of bureaucracy that we must overcome in order to be designated an underserviced area.

We have some 40,000 people in Essex county who cannot access a family doctor. I would submit to the member for Lincoln that this is red tape at its finest. What were all those presentations we had last week of the Red Tape Review Commission report? They have done absolutely no good in terms of what is really needed in communities across Ontario. In the case of Essex county, and certainly in Windsor and LaSalle, we don't have enough doctors.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): We in Canada were very proud in 1992, when the United Nations ranked Canada as average or above average in most areas as one of the best places in the world to live. This week the UN handed out its report card on the state of the world's children, and Canada was found not to be a great place for children.

"Canada has the second-highest number of poor children among 18 industrialized countries, with more than one in seven living in poverty. The United States has the most," the model that this government wants to follow.

"Canada ranks 24th out of 34 countries for suicide among young females; 22nd for suicide among young males. The rate for females is six per 100,000, for men it's 24.7 per 100,000.

"Canada ranks 22nd out of 44 countries in births to teenage mothers with 27 births per 1,000 females. The US record is 64 per 1,000; Japan has the least at four per 1,000."

As the report points out, this is not the worst news, because when it comes to aboriginal children, their problems are by far greater. The suicide rate, for example, is seven times that of the high rate that we have for other children in this country.

As we do our work in this place, let us remember that Canada is not a great place for kids, but we can make it so.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): I had the pleasure recently of visiting a business operation in Toronto that stands as a proud example of how young people are able to manage a successful business enterprise in Ontario.

In the heart of this city is a facility called Neill-Wycik College-Hotel. This building operates as a residence during the school year, housing 800 students from Ryerson, George Brown and the University of Toronto. In the summer months Neill-Wycik operates as a successful budget hotel, last year providing accommodation for over 24,000 guests.

Most impressive about this facility has been its ability to consistently operate with excellent profits without assistance of any government grants. I understand from the Neill-Wycik hotel desk supervisor, Michelle Walker, that last year combined revenue from student residents and the summer hotel operations totalled $3.5 million. This enabled the hotel to make over $1,600,000 in building upgrades while still finishing with a significant profit. This is truly an example of what our young business minds are capable of today.

I congratulate the students and staff of Neill-Wycik College-Hotel on its 26th year of operation in our province.


Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Today the Minister of Health released his plan to encourage physicians to work in underserviced communities. While this is a positive first step, my colleagues and I in the Liberal caucus have a number of concerns.

We believe that alternatives to fee-for-service payment plans are a positive initiative. However, we wonder why the minister is moving so slowly to support alternative funding and alternative payment plans which allow communities to develop solutions that will work for them.

Unfortunately, the plan outlined by the minister today only addresses a very small percentage of Ontario underserviced communities: those under 10,000 population. There are underserviced communities which need action and assistance now, and I ask the minister what these communities are supposed to do.

The Professional Association of Internes and Residents of Ontario released a report in April this year. They have not had any communication with the minister until today, no consultation whatever since they released their report, and they have raised a number of concerns about today's announcement. Among their concerns: no new provisions for specialist backup, no changes in locum support and no new news regarding educational opportunities in northern and rural Ontario.

While this initiative is only a first step we, the Liberal caucus and other groups, including PAIRO, believe that this support is a piecemeal approach and is only part of an answer of serious maldistribution. The people in Ontario's underserviced communities, both large and small, deserve access to the health care they need. We call on the government to announce a comprehensive plan to ensure services are available in underserviced communities in Ontario.


Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): It appears that the Ministry of Natural Resources, along with the Ministry of Environment and Energy, is conspiring to deny traditional and local users reasonable access to public lakes and the use of publicly funded roads.

I refer specifically to this government's practices regarding the Black River forest management plan. MNR is simply denying right of passage of taxpaying members of my riding and taxpaying members of my community. I'm greatly concerned that this government is establishing an unfriendly environment when tourists from outside jurisdictions, mainly Americans, have more rights than our own Ontarians and our own citizens.

Under the plan you're simply, and I'm addressing the government with respect, cheating local residents out of fulfilling their inherited right to full access to these resources. Instead, this is what is being proposed. You are looking at us as exploiters and at the same time looking at American tourists as saviours of our resources.

Let's restore the playing field. We helped to build this country to what it is today. It's only natural and commonsensical that we should have at least equal access to our own resources.



Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): To give improved protection to neighbourhoods that find themselves victimized by operators of licensed premises that consistently violate the letter or spirit of the Liquor Licence Act, I rise today to call upon the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to amend the Liquor Licence Act to give effect to enhancing community protection and empowerment.

Specifically, I call upon the minister to consider the introduction of amending legislation that would give the liquor licence board or minister the authority to preclude site-specifically the granting of any liquor licence for two years at any location where a licence has been revoked and where strong community support for such action is evidenced through public hearings; and further, that no licence subject to a revocation hearing be permitted to be transferred to any other individual or corporation until the hearing process has been completed and the local community has been given an opportunity to make interventions; and further, that should the LLBO revocation tribunal revoke a licence, it be authorized to also give consideration to salting the earth so that the property in question be sterilized in such a way as to preclude the granting of any licence to that location for two years and that the licensee be prohibited from applying for a liquor licence for a similar period.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This week St Catharines General Hospital announced that it is laying off an unprecedented 20% of its workforce; 220 hardworking women and men will have to pay the price of a funding shortfall from the provincial government. In fact, the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris has slashed $9 million in funding over the next three years from the General, the stiffest cut to any hospital in the Niagara region.

While the administration of hospitals across the province will contend publicly that these substantial reductions in staff levels will not affect the level and quality of care for patients, no one can come to the conclusion that a cut in the staffing level will result in anything less than a lowering of the level of service that a hospital can provide. Ask those who have been patients in hospitals in recent months whether the level of care that staff are able to provide is as good as it was 10 years ago and almost invariably the answer will be negative.

What the Harris government has been most successful at is the art of intimidation. Institutions and organizations that have been cut off at the knees by drastic cuts in health care funding have been silenced all too often by the implied threat that the hospital will be cut even further or closed. This is ill-treatment of our hospitals by the Harris government and a breaking of its promise on health care.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): You may have noticed, Speaker, that Niagara region was graced, if you can call it that, with the presence of David Tsubouchi, the Minister of Community and Social Services, yesterday, where he received a most unpleasant welcome because he came with the most unpleasant news, his announcement of so-called workfare.

The folks down in Niagara region are mad as hell because, you see, they don't want workfare, they want jobs. They don't want welfare, they want real work with real pay, where they can participate in the economy of their communities.

Workfare isn't a novel concept down in Niagara region because way back in the last recession it was Mitch Hepburn's hussars who came down to Crowland to force relief recipients to dig ditches at gunpoint during the Crowland sewer strike. Folks down in Niagara can't be fooled by this government and by its attack on working people and its attack on jobs. Folks down in Niagara, where you've got double-digit unemployment growing every day as we witness layoff after layoff, pink slip after pink slip in the public sector, and yes, as this government undermines the economy of this province in the private sector -- the folks in Niagara are saying thanks but no thanks to Mike Harris and the Tories.

The people in Niagara want jobs, they want an economy that's growing. To paraphrase the famous country and western singer Johnny Paycheck, "Take your workfare and shove it."


Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): In Northumberland, a local company, Norag Resources, is set to turn part of the Ontario Hydro land at Wesleyville into an agribusiness park to serve farm operations in central and eastern Ontario. The agribusiness park is a first for eastern Ontario and could serve producers from as far east as the Ottawa Valley. It is initially expected to create 10 new full-time jobs, with a promise for many more in the future.

Norag's principal members are Ben Curelli of the Canton area, owner of Gananasqua Grain, and Paul Wilson of Port Hope, owner of Strictly Business Computers. Bob Clarke of Clarke Consulting Services in Cobourg is a project manager for the Wesleyville plan.

The company has arranged a long-term lease for about seven hectares of land on the Wesleyville site. The project's first confirmed tenant is Agrico Canada. Other confirmed tenants include an agricultural processing facility and a grain terminal.

This new agribusiness park will benefit many local farmers who are now forced to send their products west of Toronto for processing. The Wesleyville operation will save them a substantial amount of time and money with reduced transportation costs and travel.

Northumberland is a major agricultural community and it has reached the stage where it needs its own centralized agricultural facilities.

I am confident that the policies of this government by making Ontario a more attractive place to set up new businesses -- that my riding will see many new ventures and investments in the future.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I would like to inform the members of the Legislative Assembly that we have in the Speaker's gallery today the consul generals of Brazil, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Malta, and Trinidad and Tobago. Please join me in welcoming our guests.



Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): This government is committed to environmental assessment as a way to safeguard Ontario's environment and natural resources. As the honourable members know, it was a Progressive Conservative government that created the Environmental Assessment Act.

That was 1975. Now, 20 years later, it's clear that environmental assessment needs to be modernized, be made more accessible to everyone early on and be refocused on strong environmental protection.

Over the years we've seen too many projects, especially waste management projects, get sidetracked on open-ended procedural wrangling with no tangible environmental benefits.

Previous governments promised change and delivered on a series of administrative reforms. They failed to carry through with legislative reforms to solve problems with the EA process. Their efforts, however, provided a framework for the long-overdue reforms that I am announcing today.

We are capitalizing on that 20 years of experience here in Ontario and updating the act to make it less costly, more timely and more effective.

Environmental protection remains the overriding objective of the act.

The public's right to a say early on in the process will be for the first time enshrined in legislation.

A full environmental assessment will still be required and the key elements of the environmental assessment are maintained, including the broad definition of the environment, the examination of alternatives, the role of the Environmental Assessment Board as an independent decision-maker.

These amendments will ensure high-quality environmental protection while making it easier for people to participate in the decision-making process.

This is great news for the environment.

Our proposals focus on four areas.

Public access: Right at the earlier stages of the process there will be a guarantee of public consultation for all affected parties. This will ensure that issues are identified and resolved early on.

Upfront and clear direction to all stakeholders will be detailed in terms of reference prepared by the proponents. These terms of reference, approved by the minister, will become the benchmarks for preparing and evaluating the environmental assessment and will be legally binding.

Time lines: Time lines will be established at the front end for all the key steps in decision-making processes. These time lines will benefit all stakeholders, provide more certainty and ensure the proponents can get decisions in a timely fashion. Deadlines will also be imposed on hearings before the Environmental Assessment Board. New powers will be given to the minister to ensure that a mediation process is in place to resolve disputes early on in the process.

We will harmonize Ontario's environmental assessment process with federal legislation to ensure that one project undergoes one assessment.

When environmental assessment was introduced over 20 years ago, it had the unanimous support of all parties. I believe that previous governments, like ours, know that the process needs to be fixed and I call on them to support these reforms as they proceed through the Legislature.

These amendments announced today will help us deliver better environmental protection through a process that is more timely, more certain and more accessible to everyone.



Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Last month, the Minister of Finance announced in the budget our plans to establish charity gaming halls and introduce video lotteries in Ontario. These gaming initiatives will bring broad economic benefits to the people of Ontario by increasing the flow of funds to charities across the province and by assisting the racing and hospitality industries to compete and grow.

We are determined to accomplish these initiatives in a measured and controlled fashion. Later today, on behalf of my ministry and that of my colleague the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, I will be tabling legislation to ensure our objectives are met.

As the finance minister said last month, we are committed to the establishment of a tightly regulated, government-controlled network of video lotteries for a number of reasons. An important one is countering illegal gaming activity and imposing some needed discipline and control in Ontario's gaming marketplace. We also believe that these lottery machines, if implemented within tight regulatory controls and in limited access environments, can meet a legitimate entertainment demand and provide a significant stimulus to the racing and hospitality industries.

Legislative changes are necessary to establish clear guidelines and implement the gaming initiatives. The use of existing legislation would result in needless duplication, for example, in matters of enforcement. The legislation I will be introducing today therefore will merge two existing regulatory bodies and amend acts to achieve these tightly regulated, government-controlled initiatives. I will be tabling legislation that will merge the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Ontario Gaming Control Commission. Certain regulatory functions of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will be transferred to this new organization, which will be known as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The merger will amalgamate licensing functions into a single agency, remove a potential conflict of interest with the LCBO acting both as the regulator and the retailer of alcohol, and allow a more flexible and efficient use of staff resources to strengthen enforcement measures for both gaming and liquor act requirements. This merger supports other initiatives by us to cut red tape, eliminate duplication and improve efficiencies within government, its agencies, boards and commissions.

At the same time, I will be introducing legislation to amend the Liquor Licence Act, the Ontario Gaming Control Act and the Ontario Lottery Corporations Act.

The Liquor Licence Act will be amended to permit the revocation or suspension of a liquor licence when the licence holder or employee allows a person under the age of 19 years to play VLs or to be in an area restricted to video lottery players. The prohibition regarding non-access to video lottery areas will not apply to servers, who will be able to enter these areas for the purposes of employment.

The Gaming Control Act will be amended to require all suppliers of video lotteries to register with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The Ontario Lottery Corporation Act will be amended to make the Ontario Lottery Corp responsible for video lotteries under regulations of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The act will restrict access to areas designated for video lottery players and will prohibit play by persons under the age of 19 years.

At the same time, being a first-time initiative, the method used to introduce video lotteries across the province is complex and new to much of the industry and the Ontario Lottery Corp. Therefore, consistent with our objectives, the government will be retaining external expertise to advise on the best implementation of options for video lotteries. This advice will ensure that the ultimate implementation of video lotteries, including the degree of private and public sector involvement, is based on sound business principles.

I will be tabling a housekeeping amendment to the Ontario Casino Corporation Act which will allow the net revenues from Casino Rama near Orillia, which will open later this summer, to flow directly to the first nations' fund rather than through the government's consolidated revenue fund. This will facilitate our commitment to the creation of a fund that will benefit all members of the first nations.

Finally, at the request of Mr Derwyn Shea, one of our members, I will be proposing an amendment to the Liquor Licence Act limiting further applications for liquor sales licences for up to a two-year period at problem premises where ongoing infractions have had a negative impact on local communities.

Overall, these new pieces of legislation establish a framework for the gaming initiatives set out in the May 7 budget.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. There'll be a time for response, if you want to wait until you have your turn.

Hon Mr Sterling: We believe this single regulatory focus through the creation of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, tough restrictions on underage gambling and measured introduction of video lotteries will enable us to achieve our objectives: increased revenues for charitable organizations and assistance to the hospitality and racing industries. In addition, we are developing a comprehensive strategy of research, public awareness and treatment to deal with problem gambling. We have committed 2% of all VL revenues towards this program.

Combined, we are confident that our tightly controlled gaming initiatives will result in significant long-term economic benefits for the people of Ontario.


Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I will respond to the Minister of Environment and Energy's statement today on behalf of the official opposition.

There's no doubt that the minister's attempting to address a problem we've had in the province for some time now. There are too many hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act which are taking too long, are too expensive and are too uncertain in terms of their outcome. There's simply not enough predictability. Any attempt to address this problem, however, must be carefully weighed against the need to ensure that we have full public hearings and due process and that none of this procedural reform, which is essentially what we're talking about here today, comes at the expense of the environment. Here are some of my concerns.

First of all -- and this was a great surprise to me -- there is no principle enshrined in this new bill, and that is the principle espoused by the government while in opposition which says that no community that is unwilling to do so will be obligated to take another community's garbage. That is not found in this bill. That was the subject of considerable debate during the last government and it was the subject of numerous promises made by government members during the course of the last election.

To be more specific, on December 4, 1990, in this House there was an opposition day motion, and in part it read as follows, "This House therefore calls upon the Minister of the Environment to provide that...no region can transport its waste to another municipality in the province without a resolution of the recipient municipality indicating that it is a `willing host' for such waste...." That motion was supported by the now minister responsible for women's issues, the now Deputy Premier, the now Attorney General, the now minister without portfolio responsible for workers' compensation, the now Solicitor General and the now Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. That was then, obviously.

Practically speaking, it means that this government has retained unto itself the authority to put a dump in a community where there are clearly objections on the part of that community to receiving it.

The other thing I want to draw as a concern is that the new law is going to place a significant burden on the environmental assessment branch staff. Their workload is going to increase dramatically. How are they going to be able to accomplish this, how are they going to be able to accommodate this when staffing to the ministry has been reduced overall by 50%?



Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): In the announcement by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations we see again this government trying to dodge a moral decision, expanding the amount of sanctioned gambling in this province, choosing the form that's the most insidious, the most addictive, which the task force in Manitoba does indeed call crack cocaine, and for what reason? As backfill for a failed Comic Book Revolution in which financial targets are made on the back of a napkin and which aren't holding up; millions of dollars going to be pulled out. You can't salve your conscience with a 2% cutback, just as you can't salve hungry children by providing breakfast programs after you've taken money off the dinner table. Why isn't there a referendum on this taking place if there's going to be one on casinos?

If you look at the VLT decision announced here today, not only is it the moral bankruptcy of this government but it's a metaphor for a government that would have a machine that does nothing, that employs nobody, taking money away from people who are already made desperate by the other measures of this government.

What we want to see from this government is some recognition that this has to be decided by the people of the province and to put this legislation aside for a referendum in concurrence with that on casinos. We would appeal to the consumers in this province not to be fooled by yet another measure coming from the Comic Book Revolution to try and shift the burden where it doesn't belong, which is on people who are already suffering in this province.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): This announcement, of course, is extremely bad news for the people of this province, but in particular the most vulnerable and desperate people who will be the victims of these video lottery machines. I'm sure there are many members of the Conservative caucus who are adamantly opposed to the introduction of these machines.

The ramifications for this province are tremendous. Those people who are addicted to gambling are going to be faced now with an escalation in the form of gambling that you are allowing. They are going to have the most insidious form of gambling presented to them. Young people are going to be attracted to these machines. People who could be spending their money on other things that would be productive, would be helpful to their families, are going to easily have access in bars across the province of Ontario, often when they are intoxicated, to these machines. Shame on this government for what you're doing to the most vulnerable people in our society today.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): We all should acknowledge, and do, that reform of Ontario's Environmental Assessment Act is an appropriate course of action. During my party's time in government, we were able to make improvements, particularly in cutting down on the times involved. However, the amendments announced by the minister today will undermine parts of the EA process.

There is still no guarantee that new landfill sites will be subject to a full public hearing despite promises by the Premier as recently as last October here in this House that a full public hearing would be required. Public involvement at the front end of the process is all very well, but it won't do the public any good at all if there turns out to be no EA at the end of the day.

Furthermore, landfill or incinerator proponents will not necessarily have to look at alternatives. It depends on what kind of business they're in. An incinerator company or landfill company may not have to look at the alternatives like the three Rs -- recycling, reuse etc.

Who will be happy with today's announcement? The large waste management companies which funded the Harris government's election campaign. That's who will be happy to hear this.

Another issue that I'm very concerned about is the harmonization with federal or other provincial EA processes in the case of joint jurisdiction. For instance, that will mean weakening requirements. Ontario can simply use the lowest common denominator. Currently, the Ontario standard is the minimum, so that will no longer be the case.

The legislation politicizes the EA process, and it actually could at the end of the day shut out public participation, which is another recurring theme in the actions of this government. I expect that the Premier voted against this in cabinet, because this is not what he promised us in the House a few months ago.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I feel compelled to respond to the absurd, insane proposition by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations today. Here's a government whose leader said, as has been said so many times, that the problem in Ontario is that there's too much money, that it wants too much money and that it's not that it has a revenue problem but it has a spending problem. Here's a government that's going to pick the pockets of the poorest and the most vulnerable and make those people pay for a tax break for their rich buddies, for their corporate bums on Bay Street and elsewhere who are involved in this joint enterprise of destroying families and communities across this province.

This government has no intention of consulting. Remember clearly, it talks about "retaining external expertise." We know what they're going to do. They're going to hire some Tory consulting firm to tell them the best way and the best location for these slot machines. Let's not sanitize the issue by calling them video lottery terminals; these are slot machines, the same slot machines that gangsters ran in Chicago and that the Tories are going to be running here in the province of Ontario, and it's going to be the same sort of victims.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that this minister was less than truthful yesterday when he responded to questions put to him about the creation of a schedule 1 agency and the abolition of the LLBO and the gaming commission of Ontario. I'm not suggesting for a minute that he was dishonest. But let me put this to you, Speaker --

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I do not accept that, and you know too well. I would ask you to withdraw.

Mr Kormos: I'm withdrawing that I'm not suggesting for a minute that he's dishonest.

The Acting Speaker: No, I want you to withdraw the fact --

Mr Kormos: Of course I do, Speaker. Of course I withdraw it. But if Diogenes were to walk past him at this moment with his lamp he wouldn't have reason to pause for even a minute, I tell you that.

This government did not consult with the unions involved, the Ontario Liquor Boards Employees' Union or the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. It did not participate in negotiations. This government, in the boldest and most heavy-handed and most totalitarian manner, ran roughshod over the thousands of workers who work within the OLBEU units and the OPSEU units involved. This government is very much opening the door and paving the way for the privatization of not only the sale of liquor, but indeed the so-called regulation of the sale and distribution of liquor.

By retaining external expertise this government is talking about a private gambling regime here in the province of Ontario where there are going to be great profits made on the backs of hard-working, and even more desperate non-working, Ontarians because of its lack of job policy, profits for major industries, most of which aren't even located here in the province of Ontario and virtually none of which will be hiring Ontarians or providing jobs for Ontarians. Shame on them. The people of Ontario don't accept it.



Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. The warm weather's here and with that comes the smog. The Windsor-Quebec corridor, which includes the greater Toronto area, has the worst smog problem in Canada. New federal Ministry of Health studies tell us that during the past six years up to as many as 10,000 Ontario patients were admitted to hospital for respiratory and cardiac problems induced by air pollution.

These studies also tell us that in Metro Toronto two or three people die every day during periods of high air pollution. Based on last summer's experience, there will be at least five days of dangerously high levels of smog in Ontario this summer. That means 10 to 15 people will die because of smog in Ontario this summer.

Car exhaust, especially from poorly maintained cars, is a great contributor to smog. More importantly from your perspective, it is the only cause of smog over which you have complete jurisdiction. You don't need the cooperation of any other government, whether Canadian or American. The fastest way to reduce smog in Ontario is to establish a mandatory car emissions testing program. Why haven't you set one up yet?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I have answered this question several times in the House, but I will endeavour to answer it again as clearly as I can. We are very much aware that Ontario's struggling with a smog problem, with an air problem. It's not something that was created the day we formed the government; this is something that's been happening in Ontario for some time.

I would invite my colleague to join us, I believe it is on the 19th and 20th of this month, when my ministry is sponsoring a conference to put together a comprehensive smog plan for the province of Ontario. This will address a number of different initiatives and ideas, creative solutions that we think will lead to a plan to reduce the smog problem we have here in the province.

I have indicated before, as he asked me about the mandatory vehicle emissions program, that we have renewed the voluntary program that's out at the airport now. We are studying the data gathered while the work was done in its voluntary stage and we are looking at establishing a mandatory program. What we have not yet determined is if we can find a program that is workable and will be effective. Having said that, we acknowledge that 50% of the problem we have in this province doesn't even originate in the province of Ontario.


Mr McGuinty: The time for study is long gone. We have all the information that we need with respect to learning how to address this issue. The reason Vancouver has had a program in place for four years, the reason that 38 American states have implemented mandatory auto emissions testing programs, including the state of Michigan, by the way, is because they work.

I'm not at all certain you understand that it's your responsibility to ensure we can breathe clean air. That's your job as the Minister of the Environment. The people of Ontario are counting on you to make our case for clean air at the cabinet table. You're apparently not doing that.

I want to quote from this Ministry of Health document. There's a reference in here that says, "What do the results of these studies mean to you and your family?" It says, "There's strong evidence from this research on people living in the Great Lakes basin that increases in certain air pollutants are linked to increases in hospitalization for respiratory and cardiac disease and to increased premature mortality."

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Ask your question, please.

Mr McGuinty: "Most importantly, there does not appear to be a threshold level for ground-level ozone for particulates. In general, the more susceptible populations include the elderly and those with cardiac or respiratory disease, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis."

The Acting Speaker: The question.

Mr McGuinty: "Children also tend to be more sensitive than adults."

People are going to die this summer, Minister. Thousands of others are going to be hospitalized. You've got it within your power to help us. I'm going to ask you the same question: Why don't you implement a mandatory auto emissions testing program immediately?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I'm very much aware of the problems we're facing in this province with smog and I'm saying to the member opposite that it's not the simple answer just to establish one single program. This is a large problem, a multifaceted problem and we are looking at finding the multifaceted solutions that will solve this problem.

I can tell my colleague across the way that I myself suffer from asthma and I know how difficult it is to breathe polluted air, and we are taking action. We are working. I can tell you that this government, when it is finished its mandate, will see definitive differences in our smog levels and we will see action taken and the smog levels will be reduced in this province, but we are not prepared to go ahead with a simple program that doesn't solve the problem. We are going to find a solution that actually works.

The Acting Speaker: I'd like to remind you to keep your questions and answers short, precise and to the point.

Mr McGuinty: The only real obstacle before you that prevents you from taking needed action to reduce smog levels in Ontario is your willingness to act. The only real obstacle in the way of helping the thousands of Ontarians who are going to suffer from respiratory or cardiac illnesses aggravated by smog is your willingness to act.

This past Tuesday we had, for the first time since the warm weather came, exceeded the maximum level that your ministry considers to be safe for smog. Two days ago in Metro Toronto, we recorded a smog reading of 88 parts per billion; the maximum level you say is safe is 82 parts per billion.

Other jurisdictions, as I mentioned earlier, have not stalled in their actions. We've had it in place for over four years in BC. It's in place in over 38 American states right now; legislators in those jurisdictions have not refused to act. You're continuing to stall. Again, Minister, for the sake of the health of Ontarians, and particularly those children and seniors who suffer from heart and breathing ailments, will you not immediately put into place mandatory auto emissions testing?

Hon Mrs Elliott: Again, I invite my colleague to join us on the 19th and 20th, when we begin the framework for a smog plan that will see actual reductions in smog in this province. I would remind my colleague across the way that Ontario is one of the leaders in coming together with low-emission vehicles and new fuel formulations that are less polluting. I say to my colleague across the way that this government will take action; it will be action that will see results, and it will work, and we will reduce those smog levels.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): I have a question today for the Solicitor General and the Minister of Correctional Services. We know that on March 9 the family and child advocate of Ontario presented to your deputy minister and the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services her report on the violence that occurred on young offenders at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

Because you have said to us in this House that your deputy didn't tell you about this for three months and you've said and admitted to the press that you've got some problems in your ministry, we have to presume, then, that obviously the Minister of Community and Social Services knew. You had an acting deputy at the time; maybe that's the reason, that's the excuse. But the minister must have been informed. What I want to know is, when did the Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services talk to your deputy minister, and when did the Minister of Community and Social Services talk to you about this incident?

Hon Bob Runciman (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): I think it has been reported that the child advocate did report her findings on March 4 by phone to the deputy minister at Comsoc and the acting Deputy Minister of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services. Minister Tsubouchi was informed at that time by his deputy minister and advised that the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services would take the lead on that issue.

Mr Ramsay: I've been in government before, and I understand the number of cabinet meetings that take place, the number of caucus meetings that take place, the interministerial meetings that take place between ministers. Sometimes there are luncheon opportunities when, in a casual way, you like to discuss problems that different ministries have. What I'd like to ask the minister is, if the Minister of Community and Social Services knew just about immediately from his deputy minister about the incident that took place, are you telling me that in all those opportunities, when there was a major problem involving both your ministries, that you were not informed, he did not talk to you about this for three whole months?

Hon Mr Runciman: I think at the original meeting on March 4 the advocate indicated she had some concerns and was encouraged to fully investigate those concerns respecting the treatment of young offenders as they arrived at Elgin-Middlesex.

With respect to the information provided to the Minister of Community and Social Services, I think he acted appropriately in the sense that he was advised by his deputy that the Ministry of Correctional Services would be taking the lead in this matter.

Mr Ramsay: The Minister of Community and Social Services did not act properly, because he is in charge of the children of this province, and he's in charge of that 15-year-old who was at that detention centre. He did nothing, because that child was not removed until last week. So he neglected his responsibility to the children of Ontario. He was responsible for that phase-one young offender, and he left that kid there for three months in that detention centre, subject to further abuse from those management people who caused the abuse in the first place.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Your question?

Mr Ramsay: Something is very rotten here in this government. We don't have all these answers. Minister, I ask you to talk to your Premier to make sure that a public inquiry is held on this incident so the people of Ontario can find out all the facts.

Hon Mr Runciman: I've indicated from the outset that I share the concerns related to this matter. I think there were some very serious allegations related to not only the treatment of young offenders but the response of managers during all of this process, concerns about what happened with respect to the riot at Bluewater prior to it occurring and in the aftermath.

In terms of the child advocate's report, I think if the member speaks with the child advocate, she will indicate to him, as she has to me -- and she says this publicly, although no one appears to want to pay any attention to it -- that she has been very much satisfied with the response of the ministry during the course of this investigation.

In terms of the safety of young offenders, again she has reaffirmed her belief that this whole matter has been dealt with in an appropriate way with respect to that time period.


Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): How can you be satisfied if she went back for a surprise visit this week?

Hon Mr Runciman: You will have to ask her with respect to this matter; I suggest that the interjector speak to the child advocate. She has certainly given us her assurance that everything was done in an appropriate and safe manner.

The Acting Speaker: New question.

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is to the Solicitor General. It's really getting very hard for people to appreciate what's going on here. First of all, you didn't know about the allegations of abuse at Elgin-Middlesex. You didn't, but your acting deputy minister did, three months earlier.

Interjection: Tsubouchi knew.

Mrs Boyd: Mr Tsubouchi knew. The Minister of Community and Social Services knew -- never had a word with you. Nobody ever spoke to anybody.

Then you didn't know about allegations that managers were at Elgin-Middlesex and at Bluewater last weekend and that they were shredding documents. First you said the managers were part of the investigation team; then you said they weren't. You called in the London police on May 31. They didn't begin their investigation until June 10.

Today we learned in the press -- not from you, Minister, but in the press -- that Judy Finlay of the child advocate office made an unannounced surprise visit to Elgin-Middlesex on Tuesday of this week, and as a result of her findings there removed the 15 young people from this institution because there were again allegations of inappropriate behaviour that were contrary to the Young Offenders Act.

Can you confirm that there is now another investigation at Elgin-Middlesex involving this set of young people in the care of your ministry?

Hon Mr Runciman: With respect to the suggestions the member is making, the advice I was given with respect to the movement of young offenders following the advice and recommendation of the child advocate was not surrounding the issue of safety of young offenders; it was surrounding the provision of necessary services, like educational training and a whole range of other services that she felt simply weren't being provided. On the basis of that recommendation, the changes were adopted.

Mrs Boyd: Let me quote what the child advocate said, a direct quote: "I was concerned. I didn't feel the youths should remain there. It was my feeling they weren't being managed with principles of the Young Offenders Act." The Young Offenders Act is very specific about the responsibilities of a Minister of Correctional Services in charge of young offenders and, I might add, a Minister of Community and Social Services. The child advocate was concerned. The superintendent, however, has said, and this is becoming a pattern: "They complained of the way the staff treated them. They weren't getting the same program as other young offenders, but we looked into that and found they were getting the same program. In spite of that, the child advocate felt they should be moved."

It sounds like another example of your ministry, the senior personnel and management personnel in your ministry, not taking allegations seriously. The point here is that these young offenders were only moved out because the child advocate came for a surprise visit. That's the only reason we know anything about this.

How can you assure the parents of young people and the public in general that young people are being dealt with appropriately while they're under your care as Minister of Correctional Services? How can you assure us of that?

Hon Mr Runciman: The member keeps describing the visit by the child advocate as a surprise visit. She certainly indicated to me that she intended to return to review the circumstances at Elgin-Middlesex, and upon the advice of the advocate with respect to her concern about the other services provided to young offenders, we acted upon those recommendations.

I remind members -- I'm not sure it's going to carry much weight across the aisle in any event -- the child advocate has endorsed the actions of the Ministry with respect to how this matter has been handled from the outset. I think that's something the members opposite simply want to ignore.

Mrs Boyd: Minister, you're just lurching from crisis to crisis. You're clearly not in control of your ministry. Every day there are new allegations; every day you institute a new investigation. Admit it: None of the investigations that you have instituted since you knew about this issue or that your ministry has instigated has been able to prevent young offenders from being mistreated while in the care of your ministry.

What are you going to do about this?

Hon Mr Runciman: I gather we're getting a question here from a former Attorney General who's already reached conclusions. I suggest we never lose sight of the fact about allegations of criminal behaviour which we have taken very seriously. To suggest that she has already found these people guilty I think is doing a grave disservice. These are allegations that we have acted on in a very appropriate and responsible way, and our actions have been endorsed by the child advocate.

The Acting Speaker: New question, the member for London Centre.

Mrs Boyd: My question again is to the Solicitor General. Every day the events surrounding these allegations of abuse of young people at Elgin-Middlesex under the care of you and your ministry become more crowded, and you're out of control in terms of what's going on here. Every time you stand up to speak you've got to forgive the people of Ontario if they get an impression of a coverup, because that's exactly what impression you're giving.

You say it's been handled appropriately. Well, there were letters that came, by at least two employees, to the superintendent at Elgin-Middlesex making specific allegations against a specific manager, T. Johnson. Those letters indicated concern that Mr Johnson may have been involved in the alleged beatings and allegations of coercion of other staff. They've been released; the press has seen them.

Later they wrote that it was inappropriate for the superintendent to allow Mr Johnson, the subject of those complaints, to enter into the investigation himself. He was assigned to investigate these complaints. This only serves to taint evidence and any further official investigation. It's alleged subsequently, in a letter on May 10, that this same person had said very clearly to a bailiff, "There had been a beating." On May 16 the deputy superintendent, Mr Huber, responded to those letters saying he had spoken to Mr Johnson, who had denied the comment; therefore he concluded, and I quote, "Unless I hear from you further, I consider the matter closed."

The deputy superintendent who responded to the allegations is one of those individuals who was at Elgin-Middlesex over the weekend shredding documents, according to those subsequent allegations. Is it the protocol in your ministry for the superintendent of an institution to delegate serious complaints about a staff person, about a manager to the very same supervisor who has had a conversation with that manager and may in the end be under investigation? Is that appropriate protocol in your ministry?

Hon Mr Runciman: I'm not going to speak to any specific incident that the member may raise in this House. The policy within the ministry is that any serious allegations of a criminal nature will be referred to the police.

Mrs Boyd: I'm completely puzzled now, because these are the allegations that were made on April 11 and May 10. These are the allegations that your supervisors did not report to the police, any more than your acting deputy minister did on March 4, so don't tell us that's the protocol when it's not being obeyed. This is the point. You are out of control of what's happening in your ministry. You've got protocols that aren't being obeyed and you do nothing about it.

You said to the press a couple of days ago that people who had been involved in these allegations had been reassigned. We called Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre this morning and this very manager against whom these written complaints had been made, who has serious allegations made against him, is scheduled to go into work on Monday morning at 7 at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

Minister, people under possible investigation could have access to confidential information and discussions and could coerce other staff under their control who may be witnesses in the investigation. Why hasn't this manager, and others who may be the subject of ongoing investigations, been removed from the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre until the investigations are complete? That is the normal process when there are serious complaints of this nature.

Hon Mr Runciman: We looked at these allegations being raised and at the policies related to these kinds of allegations and how traditionally, historically that has been handled, and we have followed those guidelines and policies that have been in place during the history of the NDP and Liberal governments. I acknowledge reassignments. They have occurred in light of the receipt of the child advocate's report.


Mrs Boyd: Minister, you keep calling investigations to deal with allegations as they arise day after day after day: the child advocate's office, the OPP, the London police, the internal investigation, and now another investigation. Every time, you're just trying to get control of a ministry which you have lost control of, in very clear terms.

No matter how many investigations you've called, you have done nothing to ensure that possible evidence that might have existed in these cases has been maintained and secure. You have done nothing. Even now, you have someone who is under investigation in a supervisory position at the same facility and possibly having access to that information. What is more, you have done nothing to make sure that possible witnesses in this issue cannot be coerced by those managers.

You're responsible for what happens in your ministry. You're responsible for the children who are under the care of your ministry. Clearly, you have not established that control. When are you going to admit to this House and to the people of Ontario that you have failed to fulfil the responsibilities that have been entrusted to you to protect the safety and rights of young people in your care?

Hon Mr Runciman: From the outset, I indicated in terms of the child advocate's report that we were going to respond quickly to the concerns she put forward. With respect to the allegations surrounding managers, I expressed immediately my concern related to those, and we have broadened the internal investigation and brought on board a senior legal counsel from the Ministry of the Attorney General to assist and we've also added additional personnel from the OPP.

I continue to indicate that certainly we have concerns about all the issues surrounding this in terms of what I have described as systemic problems within the ministry, which have been there for some period of time, not just prior to us coming to office but also in the Liberal years as well. I think we're operating, in a very difficult situation, in an effective and responsible way.


Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): We had a number of questions today for the Minister of Community and Social Services, one of which was the issue raised by my colleague the member for Timiskaming. In the absence of the Minister of Community and Social Services, I want to turn to another issue. I will place my question to the Deputy Premier and attempt to focus on an aspect of the announcement the minister made yesterday that I believe, as Deputy Premier but more particularly as Minister of Finance, you would be prepared to answer.

You'll be aware that your colleague yesterday announced that you are going to be spending $120 million on workfare this year. He provided very few details on exactly how that money is going to be spent or how much of it would make its way to helping people actually get off welfare and back into work. I think you'll recognize that if this workfare program is going to result in meaningful work experiences for people, it will require a great deal of coordination, management and most certainly ongoing supervision on the part of the participating municipalities.

We understand that the municipalities are to be compensated at 80% of their administrative costs by the province. I'd like you to tell us how much of the $120 million is budgeted for administrative costs for the municipalities and how much more those administration costs will be when this program is fully implemented.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I can't provide the Leader of the Opposition with those details. I'm sure the Minister of Community and Social Services could. However, I will tell her, as she's probably aware, that the Ministry of Community and Social Services will be providing those 20 municipalities with a full briefing session tomorrow.

Mrs McLeod: I am more than a little surprised that the Minister of Finance is not able to answer a question that I made very specifically a budget question. His colleague, on behalf of his government, has made a commitment to a program which, if it is to work in the interests of the people who will be put into that program, and I use those words advisedly, is going to involve significant commitments of funds on the part of this government. He's committed to 80% of the administrative costs of participating municipalities, he's committed to a widespread expansion of this program after this initial pilot project is done, yet we have no indication from the Minister of Finance what the short-term and long-term budget commitment to those participating municipalities will be. Surely that was a basic, basic part of making that announcement yesterday.

The second part of what should have been the announcement was where the training component is. I have a backgrounder to the campaign commitments that were made, talking about a workfare program, on May 11, 1995, in which it very clearly says the workfare program you were proposing would be accompanied by something called learnfare, which would involve academic upgrading and skills training. I see nothing budgeted for that in yesterday's announcement; I see no reference to it.

Minister of Finance, I ask you, where is the budget for the training programs? Where is the training program that should have been hand in hand with the minister's announcement yesterday?

Hon Mr Eves: As the honourable member knows, the minister just announced the program yesterday. He is in fact travelling around the province today talking about it to various municipalities. There is a briefing session, as I explained to the honourable member, tomorrow for the --

Mrs McLeod: Does the Minister of Finance know what it will cost?

Hon Mr Eves: Excuse me. As hard as it is for the Leader of the Opposition to understand this, in this government cabinet ministers are responsible for their own budgets. It's not for me or anybody else to oversee how they expend their moneys.

But talking about campaign commitments that the leader of the official opposition raises, I would like to remind her of the campaign commitment her member for Hamilton East made about workfare during the election campaign: "Welfare reform, ensuring that people who are able to work do work." That's the commitment from her critic. We're delivering on it.


Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): My question is also to the Deputy Premier. Deputy Premier, I'm asking you a very direct question about the ability of the Minister of Community and Social Services to carry out a very particular mandate: to care for young people under the Young Offenders Act and under the Ontario legislation which gives that minister the responsibility for phase 1 young offenders.

We've heard today -- this is the first time we've heard -- that the Minister of Community and Social Services knew of the allegations that there had been abuse of young people at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre and knew of that as early as March 4. At least one of those young offenders was in the phase 1 category.

Deputy Premier, do you think it's appropriate for a minister of the crown to neglect the duty to protect a young person as is required by the legislation of this province and this country?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): I would be happy to look into the circumstances. Obviously, I have no particular or personal knowledge of what the Minister of Community and Social Services knew or did not know at any particular point in time. I appreciate the point she raises, but I do not know the extent of knowledge or participation of the Minister of Community and Social Services; therefore I'm unable to provide her with a direct answer to the question. But I'd be happy to take the question under advisement and get back to her with particulars.

Mrs Boyd: This is really a very serious situation. We now have two ministers who are clearly implicated in not caring for young people as they are required to do by their mandates. Instead of just answering my question, I think it would be appropriate for you to commit yourself and the Premier to look into the ability of these two ministers to carry those heavy responsibilities.

The people of Ontario have had their faith shaken in the ability of these ministers to do their job. I think that's very clear. I would like a commitment from you here today that you and the Premier will be looking very seriously at their ability to carry on their responsibilities.

Hon Mr Eves: The Solicitor General has said, I believe, on several occasions in this Legislature and outside that despite the fact that he perhaps did not have personal knowledge, everything that should have been done by his ministry was done during that period of time. I just relayed to her that I obviously do not have any personal knowledge of the extent of knowledge of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I did undertake to look into that matter and to provide her with those particulars, or perhaps the minister will himself.

But I do want to say to her very directly and very sincerely that I have every confidence in the ability of both the aforementioned ministers.



Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): My question is to the minister responsible for women's issues. You recently released a request for a proposal for the development of a strategic and operational framework for the government's violence against women prevention initiatives. Can you explain to us the nature of this action?

Hon Dianne Cunningham (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, minister responsible for women's issues): Yes. The request for proposal is not a review, it is a framework for action. This request for proposal was recommended -- the review was recommended in November 1994. There's a much-needed strategic and operational framework across all the violence for women prevention supports across some nine ministries. It's not meant to cut services. It is an opportunity to make certain that our programs are efficient, effective and that they work.

We intend to be accountable and we intend to make certain that the women of this province are getting services that they want and need, and services that work for them.

Mr Stewart: Some critics have stated that this framework is only another review and have claimed that the services are being cut. How will this framework address the needs of women, and can you assure this House that the implementation of this strategy will indeed benefit women who experience violence?

Hon Mrs Cunningham: Again, in the last I would say few years -- maybe three or four -- everyone should know that there have been over 100 studies on the violence against women initiatives. These are programs that we spend almost $100 million on. In the last study, which I've already stated was put out in November 1994 -- we're being criticized for this; it was the NDP government -- the strong recommendation was that we develop an operational framework and that we clarify roles, responsibilities, that we do strategic planning and, most of all, that we monitor, report and evaluate mechanisms.

These programs have never been evaluated, ever, so therefore --

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Where does it say cut services?

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order, the member for Oriole.

Hon Mrs Cunningham: This report is not to cut services, it is to make services better. We are strengthening our programs and our services. In the last two months we have added $10.2 million to assist the victims' justice fund so that we can work with our courts, as our Attorney General has stated, and with our police, as our other minister has stated, with regard to helping victims of crime: $11 million in capital funding for women' shelters; proclaimed a Victims' Bill of Rights; released a video. I could go on and on, but the most important piece is that we are going to be accountable.

I say to the parties opposite, what did you do about --

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Minister, today your government plans to introduce legislation to allow VLTs in thousands of bars across Ontario. I know that the profits from VLTs, these electronic slot machines, will fill your government coffers and will allow you to give a huge tax cut to the most wealthy in our province, but it will in effect be tainted money. It will be money from the pockets of the most vulnerable, the most desperate, the addicted, and often the poorest people in our society.

Why don't you follow your conscience on this matter? Why don't you follow the course of action that you know is right and abandon your plans to place VLTs, electronic slot machines, in thousands of bars across the province of Ontario?

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): The honourable member knows this government is proceeding in a very cautious and careful manner with respect to video lottery terminals.

Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): Oh come on.

Hon Mr Eves: He does know that, as a matter of fact.

Mr Cooke: You forced us to bring in closure to get a casino in Windsor. Give me a break.

Hon Mr Eves: That's passing strange coming from the member for Windsor-Riverside, who's been one of the biggest proponents of casino gambling in the history of the province.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order.

Hon Mr Eves: To the member for St Catharines: The Ontario Lottery Corp will be charged with the responsibility of locating video lottery terminals in a very controlled atmosphere in the initial stages. He knows this to be factual. I know he doesn't want to hear this answer, but this is the answer. They will be placed in racetracks and in charity event sites, they will be carefully monitored by the Ontario Lottery Corp and I think it is incumbent upon him to be prudent in this matter and wait and see what experience proves to be the case.

The Acting Speaker: Supplementary, the member for York South.

Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): To the Minister of Finance and following up on his assertion that this is going to happen carefully: The regulations proposed today already assert that there will be VLTs in liquor licence establishments. In other words, there will be a spread of VLTs. Is the minister aware of the studies done in Manitoba which show that it's disproportionate among youth that the exercise of these machines takes place? Is he aware that a study in Manitoba shows that there is more money being spent on gambling than on food in that province on average this year, since the introduction of VLTs? If he is not aware of those things, will he withdraw them today? Will he withdraw these measures? Why is he bringing us down that path? Will he admit that this is simply backfill for a flawed financial plan for the Comic Book Revolution and will he tell us instead that he will give this province a second chance not to go down that line?

Hon Mr Eves: To the honourable member: I welcome the question from the new member of the Legislature. I would say very directly to him --


The Acting Speaker: Minister, please. I can't hear a thing.

Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): That's because of the machines.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon.

Hon Mr Eves: I would say very directly to the honourable member that any revenue that the province of Ontario derives from video lottery terminals certainly can't begin to balance the budget and the cost of the $100-billion debt legacy that your government and your government left Ontario taxpayers with. That is a fact. There's no doubt about that.

We have also indicated that there are four or five absolute prerequisite principles for the operation of VLT machines in the province of Ontario. One of them is that they cannot be operated in a room that is accessible to minors. That is one of the underlying principles announced during the budget and subsequently by my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is to the Minister of Environment and Energy. On October 23, 1995, your Premier was asked the following question: "Premier: Do you still, today, believe that Ontario's dumps ought to be the subject of full and public hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act?" The Premier responded, "Yes, I do."

Minister, with the changes that you are announcing today to the Environmental Assessment Act and with the Premier's promise, will you absolutely guarantee today that all landfills in Ontario will be the subject of full and public hearings as well under the Environmental Assessment Act? Yes or no?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): What we brought forward today is an act --


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The question has been asked and the minister has to answer the question.

Hon Mrs Elliott: What we've brought forward today are very long-awaited changes to the Environmental Assessment Act. As many of my colleagues in this House will know, we come from ridings where because of the act as it exists, we have spent millions and millions of dollars in futile attempts to site waste management facilities in our individual ridings. The amendments that we're bringing forward here today are going to make the process less costly, less expensive, more timely and they are going to bring definitive decisions.

All proponents will be subject to full environmental assessments. Of that my colleague opposite can be absolutely assured.


Ms Churley: I think you'd better amend your legislation before you introduce it this afternoon, because that is not guaranteed in it, I can assure you.

The Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy today released a condemnation of the dismantling of environmental regulation in this province by you and your government. The report states: "Over the past year, the new government has undertaken a dismantling of environmental laws, regulations, policies and institutions which is without precedent in the history of the province."

You think you can get away with saying over and over again that your decimated ministry will do a better job of protecting the environment, without resources and without regulations. Your problem is nobody believes you.

Admit to the people of Ontario today that you are engaged in unprecedented dismantling of our environmental laws and regulations. Will you tell the Premier today that you refuse to engage in this activity any more and resign in protest?

Hon Mrs Elliott: My colleague opposite represents a party which, for years, in the case of the Environmental Assessment Act --


The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon, order.

Hon Mrs Elliott: My colleague today is referring to changes in the Environmental Assessment Act that her party, for years, studied and looked at. The changes being proposed in this act today are coming to this House after 20 years of experience in environmental assessment, after reform attempts that never materialized into changes, and that's why in this province we have spent millions and millions of dollars on wasted process. It is over.

This new act is going to result in decisions that will work and, most of all, will come back to the original intent of the act, which was to assess and minimize the environmental impact of projects ongoing in the province of Ontario. Environmental protection is what we're seeking and what will be delivered in the amendments to this act.


Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): My question is to the Minister of Education. I want to say this week has been a great week for the community of Brantford. Not only are we one of the sites of the workfare program -- and I can tell you that our community is incredibly excited about that -- but on Tuesday, the people of Brantford also saw the development of a $1.2-million education fund for the students of our community, students who would be partaking in science courses at the university level.

We had a gentleman by the name of James Hillier visit our community, and of course he's from Brantford. For those of you who don't know who he is, he's one of the original inventors of the electron microscope, and he helped set up that fund.

Minister, what steps are you taking to encourage this kind of direct public support of higher education and learning?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank my colleague the member for Brantford for the excellent question, one of a number of excellent questions he's raised in the House in the last year.

Of course I'm aware of the fact that the James Hillier trust fund was established just recently, and I want to add my congratulations to those local folks who got behind this trust and donated $75,000 each to come up with the original part of this $1.2-million trust fund that will be used to help students from that area in science programs.

We have encouraged a long tradition of individuals and organizations in supporting our post-secondary institutions and, more important, our students. We recently announced that our government will help to support employers who are working in co-op education with our college and university students, and we created the Ontario student opportunity trust fund, which will match funds with the private donations to our students and help to support them up to $100 million.

Mr Ron Johnson: I'm certainly encouraged by the minister's answer. Mr Hillier challenged our community to raise $500,000 locally, and it only took two weeks for the people of Brantford to band together and raise $500,000 for this initiative. I think they deserve a great deal of credit.

I'm going to just name a couple of names here if I may. Frank Matthews and family, Mary Stedman, Margaret Stedman, Ruth Stedman, Don Wilkin and family, and S.C. Johnson Wax all contributed to this foundation.

Minister, how can gifts such as the James Hillier Foundation be integrated with the Ontario student opportunity trust fund and of course the university foundations?

Hon Mr Snobelen: We're working right now with the colleges and universities to come up with a plan for how the Ontario student opportunity trust fund will work to match the grants they get from the people of Ontario. The member has noted the fact that it took only a few weeks to raise $525,000 in that area of Ontario. There are $40 million to $50 million in private donations given every year to universities and colleges in Ontario, and we believe our trust fund, the opportunity of matching funds from this government, will double the amount that is normally given to our universities and colleges. We'll be out very soon with the details of how that will work.


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): I'd like to follow up on a question asked yesterday by my colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt to the Minister of Education and Training. Now that the minister made that announcement not too long ago about the summer employment programs for youth -- and at that time we applauded the announcement as a victory for young people in Ontario -- can the minister give me a progress report? How exactly is your program going?

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Education and Training): I want to thank the member for Windsor-Sandwich for the question and also for the acknowledgement of the fact that we have announced an expanded program for students getting summer jobs in the province. As to her question on the status of those jobs, as she probably has noted, this involves the cooperation of the private sector. I understand that the information has recently got out to our members' offices throughout the province and there is some uptake of that information, but I do not now have information on how many jobs have been taken. It's the early part of June, very early in that jobs program.

Mrs Pupatello: As a matter of fact, it's not very early, it's very late. I'd like to inform the minister exactly how his program is going in some parts of Ontario. A specific agency that delivers the program in Metro Toronto tells me that at this point where their programs would be delivered to small business, where you should have almost 100% filled, you're only at 25%. The reason is that you have created so much red tape and bureaucracy. Despite the efforts of your Red Tape Review Commission, you've created more red tape this year than ever, and small business is not happy to participate in the programs as it has in the past. The 1-800 number outlined in the brochure was forgotten to be changed to include the appropriate voice mail.

Minister, address the House today and tell me, given that so far the program has been absolutely abysmal, do you have a plan B to assist the young people in Ontario with employment programs?

Hon Mr Snobelen: I'm sure the member opposite won't be surprised that I don't share her negative view of these programs for students in Ontario, nor will I concur in speculation on the uptake in the program or any of the problems that may have been experienced in past years with student job opportunities.

As a matter of fact, I'm sure these comments are based on a media report that was out about a week ago. I'm surprised it took that length of time for the member to bring this up in the House. But if she had read on in the report, I'm sure she would have found that there was some optimism in Metro Toronto about the uptake in this program as students become available for summer employment. I believe the private sector in the province will take this opportunity for some support and create these jobs for the young people in Ontario.


Mr Floyd Laughren (Nickel Belt): I have a question of the Minister of Health concerning a crisis of his own making. Last Thursday, a week ago, all seven obstetricians from the Mississauga Hospital decided not to take on any new prenatal obstetrical patients as of June 17, next Monday. In their letter, they said that both Peel Memorial Hospital and the Credit Valley Hospital would be following this course of action.

In Ottawa, it's been reported that 30 obstetricians are considering that they will stop taking new patients within the next six weeks. That's almost all the region's obstetricians. They're joining a growing list of communities. In Windsor, 12 out of 12 obstetricians; in Thunder Bay, seven out of eight; in Sudbury, eight out of eight; in Sault Ste Marie, five out of six obstetricians will not be taking any new patients this month. Guelph and Kingston are contemplating similar action. The crisis is acute and it's spreading very quickly across the province. Could you tell us what you've been doing to put an end to this problem you've created?

Hon Jim Wilson (Minister of Health): Quite simply and quite succinctly, I've been working on a solution to this problem and hope to make an announcement in just the next few days.


Mr Laughren: I'm pleased that the minister thinks he has a solution in the next few days. We shall see what that solution is, because I'm worried about some of his suggestions so far. Last week, when he was asked if pregnant women would have to go to the US to have their babies, he said: "We're not ruling that out. In some border communities that could well be the possibility."

We did some checking, and at the Hutzel Hospital in Detroit the minimum charge for delivery is $6,900; a Caesarean delivery costs about $13,000. At Memorial Hospital in Michigan it costs about $4,000, and that doesn't take into account any additional charges there might be. That's compared to a two-day hospital visit for a delivery in Windsor of about a $1,500 billing to OHIP. There's a very substantial difference. At the end of the day, if you end up paying for that through OHIP, it's going to cost you a lot more than a reasonable solution would cost you.

Very simply, when the minister sits down to negotiate, I hope he's negotiating, because he hasn't so far; there have been no serious negotiations with either the OMA or the obstetricians on this matter -- not serious negotiations. I ask the minister exactly what he has in mind.

Hon Mr Wilson: It's obvious what I have in mind. We put the offer on the table some two weeks ago. As obstetricians are hearing, we're going to fully restore their malpractice insurance, and we've taken other initiatives.

You'd think the honourable member would get up and thank us for the tremendous announcement we made today on northern Ontario with salaries of $194,000 to attract GPs into 21 communities across the province. We are very much implementing the physician action plan as set out in the unprecedented letter I sent to physicians, some 22,000 of them, a couple of months ago. Physicians are talking to us.

Sometimes the associations themselves have differing views with us, but we're committed to, first of all, ensuring that the women of this province get the obstetrical services that they need and, secondly, finding a particular solution because we want to have happy obstetricians and happy doctors in the province, if that's possible. It's not been possible in the last 10 years in this province. Nor is this a made-in-Ontario phenomenon; doctors all across North America are having a very difficult time with the changes in all of our health care systems.


Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): My question is for the Minister of Environment and Energy. This past weekend near the town of Foleyet, near Timmins, a Canadian National freight train carrying toxic cargo left the tracks. According to the news reports, the train was carrying a number of potentially dangerous substances. Would the minister tell the House how her ministry responded to this potential emergency?

Hon Brenda Elliott (Minister of Environment and Energy): I would like to assure my colleague opposite that there were no toxic substances that escaped during that derailment; that the people at the emergency spills centre responded immediately, with police officers as well; that residents were almost immediately evacuated. Once it was discerned that the problem was not too great, the residents were returned to their homes within hours.

Mr Ford: I am pleased to hear that through the spills action centre the Ministry of Environment and Energy was able to coordinate action to ensure that the train derailment at Foleyet was quickly responded to.

According to the business plan of the Ministry of Environment and Energy there will be, as with most ministries, significant restructuring of the ministry. Can the minister please tell the House whether the spills action centre will also be restructured?

Hon Mrs Elliott: I would like to assure my colleague that yes, as with all other ministries, we are restructuring our ministry and focusing on our core businesses. In our ministry we believe that protecting the environment is absolutely the core business, and being able to respond to emergencies is very important.

I'd like to take this opportunity to say that the people in the spills action centres and all of those other officials who respond in a time of emergencies, whatever they may be, do it very well. It's a very difficult job. It's one we highly value at the ministry. It's one that absolutely will be continued as part of our core business -- protecting the environment.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): A question to the Minister of Transportation: In a follow-up to your stinging indictment of the Toronto Transit Commission -- you said it was the worst transit commission in the country -- the question a lot of people are asking, because you have stated categorically you know it's the worst system, is, how many times have you ridden a bus in Toronto, a bus in York region? Have you ever been on public transit in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Montreal or Edmonton? How often do you ride or have you ridden public transit in Ontario or in other parts of Canada? How come you can make yourself such an expert? How often and when do you ride public transit?

Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Transportation): I believe that a lot of things have been discussed the last few days. If the honourable member wants to have an answer from me, just let him look up the Hansard. The answer is there.

Mr Colle: No, no. Perhaps with the noise, you didn't hear. I asked you a very direct question. How many times have you ridden public transit in the city of Vaughan or maybe Brampton transit or Mississauga transit, or anywhere? Tell me where you've ridden it and how many times. That's the simple question.

Hon Mr Palladini: I don't know what that has to do with my riding the transit system, but if the honourable member would like to know do I take public transit, yes, I do. Have I been on a bus in Montreal? Yes, I have. Have I been on a bus in Edmonton? Yes, I have. Have I been on a bus in Ottawa? Yes, I have. Have I been on a bus in Vancouver? Yes, I have. Have I been on a bus in Winnipeg? Yes, I have. You know what? I've also been on a bus in Toronto. If that is the answer the honourable member wants, I believe I've just given it to him.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance and Government House Leader): Mr Speaker, I wonder if I might give the business statement for next week, which is pretty short, actually. The House leaders are continuing to meet. I think we have agreed upon a package of legislation to be dealt with over the next two weeks. As agreed, legislation will be brought forward on a daily basis.

However, private members' business for Thursday, June 20: ballot item number 37, standing in the name of the member for Durham West; and ballot item number 38, standing in the name of the member for Prescott and Russell.

I believe there will also be a motion introduced on Monday to dispense with sitting next Thursday afternoon.



Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): The Dellcrest Children's Centre petitions keep on coming. I know the Minister is now lending a great ear to this petition. It states:

"Whereas the Dellcrest Children's Centre is planning to open a 10-bed open custody residence for troubled children and youth in south Parkdale; and

"Whereas the residence is an inappropriate site for the rehabilitation of troubled children and youth" --


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Order. Would you just wait for a minute. If some members have to leave the House, would you please do so now. The member for Parkdale.

Mr Ruprecht: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

"Whereas the residence is an inappropriate site for the rehabilitation of troubled children, as it is within walking distance to illicit drug and prostitution activities, a large number of unsupervised rooming houses that are home to ex-psychiatric patients and parolees and our society's most vulnerable and ostracized members, and a number of licensed establishments that have been charged with various liquor infractions; and

"Whereas the Ministry of Correctional Services and the Dellcrest Children's Centre have decided not to hold open discussions with our community prior to the purchase of this house for the purpose of an open custody residence; and

"Whereas a decision to relocate also expresses a total lack of regard for our community's consistent and well-documented wishes for the government to stop the creation or relocation of additional service programs in an area already oversaturated with health and social services for disadvantaged and disenfranchised people;

"We, therefore, the undersigned local residents, urge the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services to suspend plans to relocate the open custody residence for troubled children until a full review of this centre's decision can be conducted, and explore with us alternative locations which are much more appropriate."

I have signed my name to this document.



Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from the National Health and Welfare Union, Local 00037, sent to me over the name of Jan Liberty, and the petition reads as follows from the members of that local:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas it is vital that occupational health and safety services provided to workers be conducted by organizations in which workers have faith; and

"Whereas the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers have provided such services on behalf of workers for many years; and

"Whereas the centre and clinics have made a significant contribution to improvements in workplace health and safety and the reduction of injuries, illnesses and deaths caused by work;

"We, the undersigned, therefore petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to oppose any attempt to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers; and

"Further, we, the undersigned, demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

As I agree with the petition, I add my name also.


Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I have a petition which has been presented to the member for Simcoe East and I'm submitting it on his behalf. This petition relates to the French Language Services Act and it appears to have been signed by approximately 53 constituents of the member for Simcoe East. I wish to submit it today.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): "To the Legislature of Ontario:

"Whereas the Harris government is planning to gut rent controls; and

"Whereas removal of rent control legislation breaks a campaign promise made by the Conservatives during the election; and

"Whereas a great number of tenants are seniors and people on fixed incomes and many have had their income cut by 22% due to social assistance cuts and cannot afford increases in their rent; and

"Whereas growing unemployment and the scarcity of affordable housing in Metro makes the removal of rent control an even greater disaster for the tenants and for people who cannot afford to buy homes;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:

"That the government of Ontario keep their pre-election promise and not remove rent controls and continue with the Landlord and Tenant Act and the Rental Housing Protection Act."

I affix my name to this petition.


Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I'm pleased to present a petition. It reads as follows:

"To the Parliament of Ontario:

"Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of the bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear-hunting activities."

I'm pleased to present this petition.


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition here from some very concerned tenants, and it reads like this:

"To Premier Michael Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach and members of the Ontario provincial Legislature:

"We, the undersigned, protest this government's actions against tenants described below. The Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants. Rent control allows for security and stability in their homes and communities. Uncontrolled rent increases leave tenants, their families and other Ontario communities open to eviction, personal distress and contribute directly to social instability. We want this government to stop any action that would allow uncontrolled rents.

"Further, this government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favourable to landlords for easier and faster evictions. This is unacceptable to Ontario tenants and damaging to Ontario communities. This government also plans to get rid of public housing, has halted the creation of basement apartments and a new supply of affordable non-profit housing. These types of housing are necessary for low- and moderate-income tenants to obtain accommodation they can afford. The government must cease all actions that reduce the affordability and availability of these kinds of housing.

"This government has eliminated funding for the United Tenants of Ontario" -- and Lacateras Uni del Ontario; that's UTOO and the LUDO -- "five municipal tenant federations and other important tenant services at a time when they are attacking all tenant rights. Funding for these groups must be reinstated so that Ontario's tenants, and not just their landlords, will be able to bring their views to bear on government deliberations on tenants' rights and protection. A consultation process with tenants' organizations should be initiated immediately to develop a plan for sustainable funding for the services of tenants."

I attach my signature.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I have a petition from Canadian Auto Workers Local 2213 based in Mississauga. The petition reads as follows:

"To save the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"To Premier Harris:

"We, the undersigned, oppose any attempts to erode the structure, services or funding of the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers.

"We demand that education and training of Ontario workers continue in its present form through the Workers' Health and Safety Centre and that professional and technical expertise and advice continue to be provided through the occupational health clinics for Ontario workers."

As I support the petition, I add my name.


Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I'm up today because probably some of the viewing audience is wondering where I've been and I just want to prove that I'm here and working hard.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): You're not sitting in your correct seat.

Mr Stockwell: The member for Oriole's complimenting me again. Thank you so much.

I have a petition here to end the spring bear hunt, to the Parliament of Ontario.

Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): There are a lot of bears in Etobicoke.

Mr Stockwell: No, there aren't a lot of bears; they've been wiped out.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Petitions.

Mr Stockwell: "Whereas bears are hunted in the spring after they have come out of hibernation; and

"Whereas about 30% of the bears killed in the spring are female, some with cubs; and

"Whereas 80% of the orphaned cubs do not survive the first year; and

"Whereas 95.3% of bears killed by non-resident hunters and 54% killed by resident hunters are killed over bait; and

"Whereas Ontario still allows the limited use of dogs in bear hunting; and

"Whereas bears are the only large mammals hunted in the spring; and

"Whereas bears are the only mammals that are hunted over bait; and

"Whereas there are only six states in the United States which still allow a spring hunt" -- and whereas we all know what bears do in the woods;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario to amend the Game and Fish Act to prohibit the hunting of bears in the spring and to prohibit the use of baiting and dogs in all bear-hunting activities."



Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I have petitions here that have been signed by 16,000 Ontarians. This petition was organized by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and it was distributed through the Catholic dioceses of Hamilton, London, Toronto and Niagara, and signed through the churches and supported by the bishops of those dioceses across this province. The petition is a message for Premier Harris of Ontario:

"By placing an undue burden for the fiscal recovery on the backs of the poor, your government is reneging its responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our society. We ask you, the government of Ontario, to first and foremost consider the common good of all people of Ontario in your fiscal and economic decisions."

There are 16,000 names on these petitions and I am pleased and honoured to add my name. I hope the government is listening to the good people of this province who have signed this.


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): A petition to the Ontario Legislature:

"Whereas Mike Harris's Conservative government of Ontario is planning to destroy the present system of rent control; and

"Whereas Mike Harris and the Conservative Party made no mention of scrapping rent control during the election campaign of 1995 or in the Common Sense Revolution document; and

"Whereas a number of Conservative candidates in ridings with high tenant populations campaigned during the 1995 election on a platform of protecting the current rent control system; and

"Whereas the government has consulted with special-interest groups representing landlords and developers while cutting funding to organizations representing the 3.5 million tenants in Ontario; and

"Whereas, although all renters will suffer, seniors and others on fixed incomes will suffer particular hardship if rent controls are abolished; and

"Whereas eliminating rent control will result in skyrocketing rents in Ontario;

"Therefore we, the undersigned, call upon the Legislature of Ontario to stop the attack on the 3.5 million tenants of this province."

I attach my signature in support.


Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has passed Bill C-68, An Act respecting Firearms and other Weapons; and

"Whereas we welcome real gun control and support those portions of Bill C-68 which provide tougher penalties for the criminal use of firearms, new offences related to firearm smuggling and trafficking, and a ban on paramilitary weapons; and

"Whereas existing laws requiring the registration of handguns has done little to reduce the number of crimes committed with handguns or lower the volume of handguns smuggled into Canada; and

"Whereas the national gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will result in a massive misallocation of the limited resources available to law enforcement agencies, with no practical effect on the traffic in illegal firearms or the use of guns by violent criminals; and

"Whereas the gun registration provisions of Bill C-68 will take police officers off the street and involve them in bureaucracy rather than fighting crime and will make the task of real gun control more difficult and dangerous for police officers;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the province of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to repeal from Bill C-68 those provisions for a compulsory registration of all firearms."

I have signed this petition.


Mr Gerard Kennedy (York South): It's my pleasure to read this petition from hundreds, to add to the thousands, from the city of York, from London, Orangeville, Ilderton, Scarborough, Georgetown, Brampton, Welland, Parkhill, Glengarry and Walkerville.

"To the Premier, Michael Harris, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Al Leach, and members of the provincial Legislature:

"We, the undersigned, protest this government's actions against tenants described below. The Rent Control Act protects Ontario's 3.3 million tenants. Rent control allows for security and stability in their homes and communities. Uncontrolled rent increases leave tenants, their families and other Ontario communities open to eviction, personal distress and contribute directly to social instability. We want this government to stop any action that would allow uncontrolled rents.

"Further, this government is considering changes to the Landlord and Tenant Act favourable to landlords for easier and faster evictions. This is unacceptable to Ontario tenants and damaging to Ontario communities. This government also plans to get rid of public housing, has halted the creation of basement apartments and a new supply of affordable non-profit housing. These types of housing are necessary for low- and moderate-income tenants to obtain accommodation they can afford. The government must cease all actions that reduce the affordability and availability of these kinds of housing.

"This government has eliminated funding for the United Tenants of Ontario, five municipal tenant federations and other important tenant services at a time when they are attacking all tenant rights. Funding for these groups must be reinstated so that Ontario's tenants, and not just their landlords, will be able to bring their views to bear on government deliberations on tenants' rights and protection. A consultation process with tenants' organizations should be initiated immediately to develop a plan for sustainable funding for the services of tenants."

I affix my name to this petition.



Mr Sterling moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 75, An Act to regulate alcohol and gaming in the public interest, to fund charities through the responsible management of video lotteries and to amend certain statutes related to liquor and gaming / Projet de loi 75, Loi réglementant les alcools et les jeux dans l'intérêt public, prévoyant le financement des organismes de bienfaisance grâce à la gestion responsable des loteries vidéo et modifiant des lois en ce qui a trait aux alcools et aux jeux.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it. Motion carried.

Hon Norman W. Sterling (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'm pleased to introduce for first reading the Alcohol, Gaming and Charity Funding Public Interest Act, 1996. The initiatives proposed in this act will strengthen enforcement of alcohol and gaming regulations in our province, Ontario, and ensure that video lottery terminals are introduced in our province in a measured and controlled fashion.


Mrs Elliott moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 76, An Act to improve environmental protection, increase accountability and enshrine public consultation in the Environmental Assessment Act / Projet de loi 75, Loi visant à améliorer la protection de l'environnement, à accroître l'obligation de rendre des comptes et à intégrer la consultation publique à la Loi sur les évaluations environnementales.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Mr Hampton moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 77, An Act to make Pension Plans accountable to Workers / Projet de loi 77, Loi visant à rendre les régimes de retraite responsables devant les travailleurs.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): The bill requires pension plans to be administered by a pension committee or board of trustees that meets all the following qualifications: At least half the members of the pension committee or board of trustees must be representatives of members of the pension plan; the pension committee or board of trustees must include at least one representative of each class of members of the pension plan; if a majority of a class of members is represented by a trade union, the representative or representatives of the class must be appointed by the trade union; and similar requirements.

This reflects the demographic changes that are happening with respect to our workforce and it also reflects the kinds of impacts that pension plans have in terms of investments in our economy.




Mr Sampson moved second reading of Bill 59, An Act to provide Ontario drivers with fair, balanced and stable automobile insurance and to make other amendments related to insurance matters / Projet de loi 59, Loi visant à offrir une assurance-automobile équitable, équilibrée et stable aux conducteurs ontariens et à apporter d'autres modifications portant sur des questions d'assurance.

Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga West): Before I start off, I'd like to note that I believe we have unanimous consent to split the leadoff time among the various parties; and secondly, I think we also have unanimous consent for the Liberals' leadoff time to be deferred to a subsequent day.

The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): You're entitled to speak for your opening remarks, but you've asked if you could split the time with somebody else. Who is that person?

Mr Sampson: I think we have unanimous consent to split among the caucuses the leadoff time.

Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): No, that's not what you have. You can split it within your own caucus, and we'll do with our 90 minutes as we wish.

Mr Sampson: Fine. Mr Speaker, we have at least consent to split the time among the NDP and the Conservative caucuses. The Liberals will deal with that time however they choose.

The Acting Speaker: You can't do that.

Mrs Caplan: He's not explaining it well. Could I be helpful?

Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Mr Speaker, the intent is, and I believe there's unanimous consent, that our leadoff time will be split between two speakers, and then, to accommodate the NDP, we have unanimous consent that we will not take the Liberals' turn; we will go to the NDP, who also have two leadoff speakers splitting the time, and then it will go into rotation.

Mrs Caplan: That's correct, in terms of what the chief government whip has said. However, we reserve the 90 minutes for our leadoff speaker at the first opportunity when this bill is called again.

The Acting Speaker: Does everybody agree? Agreed. Who are you splitting your time with?

Mr Sampson: With the member for Halton North.

The Acting Speaker: Agreed? Agreed. The member for Mississauga West.

Mr Sampson: I'm very pleased and honoured to lead off second reading of Bill 59. As you know, last Tuesday the Minister of Finance introduced the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act. This new legislation will do something that previous automobile insurance systems in this province have not been able to do. It will focus on the drivers of this province, providing them with a fair, adequate and balanced automobile insurance system and one that will put an end to the double-digit rate increases that consumers in this province have seen over the past couple of years.

Last February, draft legislation and draft regulations were released, and the standing committee on finance and economic affairs travelled the province to listen to ideas and suggestions put forward by various interested parties. I'm pleased to say that many suggestions brought forward in that committee process are buried in and comprise and are built into the final legislation and the regulations that we have now brought forward.

I think it's important, as we talk about this particular plan, to frame the design of the automobile insurance system we have put forward in the context of the system Ontarians are currently subject to. Of course that is Bill 164, brought forward by the previous NDP government.

Bill 164 was really based upon two fundamental assumptions. One is that Bill 164 assumed that all Ontario drivers were the same. As a result of that, Bill 164 comprised a package of benefits that were the same for all claimants, regardless of the severity of the accident, regardless of who caused the accident, regardless of the potential loss or the actual loss of the insured at the time.

Secondly, Bill 164 realized and brought forward a plan that said all Ontarians should share in the fault of all drivers. I think the common name known in the market is that this is a no-fault plan. In fact, that name is as far from the truth as could possibly be. The real name of that particular plan should have been "Everybody's at fault," because indeed that's what happened when somebody got involved in an accident. The costs were shared among all drivers in Ontario, regardless of whether they were involved in the accident or not.

Based upon this idea that all Ontarians should share in this fault system, the previous government brought forward a plan that severely limited the right of the innocent accident victim to use the court system to solve who should pay what to whom. In fact, Bill 164 limited court action and tort liability to only one category of potential law suit, and that's the category that's commonly called general damages, or the pain and suffering category.

In taking a look at the reform of this package, we as a government had to identify the fundamental fact of Ontario drivers; that is, not all Ontarians are the same. Madam Speaker, I know you know this very well, because you, like I, drive up and down the QEW on a regular basis, a very highly travelled route. There are good drivers and there are bad drivers. I know my friend from Welland-Thorold would agree with me. There are people who have demonstrably bad driving habits, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes these bad driving habits have been generated over a period of use of the road. But clearly there are in Ontario good drivers and bad drivers. We can't ignore that fact.

There are individuals who, as a result of an accident, will have potentially a high income loss or a high economic loss, and there are those who will have a much smaller income loss. Clearly not everybody will have the same loss. A concert pianist who loses the use of an arm -- that's a severe reduction in their ability to earn income. I would dare say that the loss of an arm might be less severe perhaps for members of this House. There are individual, different economic losses as the result of an accident.

In our current work environment in Ontario, some employees have access to benefits available to them via other disability plans. If they get involved in an accident, they may be able to claim upon a disability plan that's provided at work. They may be able to claim upon a disability plan they purchased privately. But not all Ontarians have the same plan, so to put forward the automobile insurance format that the previous government did, which assumes that everybody has an additional source of benefits if they are involved in an accident, didn't identify the facts. All Ontarians are not the same.

We felt it was important, in designing an auto insurance plan, to deal with those realities of Ontario drivers. We felt it was also important to deal with the reality that while there may be some disadvantages from a no-fault plan, there are certain advantages to a no-fault plan and we should try to keep those. While there are certain disadvantages to a plan that allows a claimant to sue for their particular loss, there are some advantages of those plans. We should keep the advantages of the tort component but try not to build into the new structure the disadvantages of the tort component. There clearly needs to be a balance.


When we brought forward our plan in February, and now this final revision, we feel we have that balance, a balance between benefits available to an individual, regardless of fault, and benefits available to an individual who is not at fault, and of course they get those benefits by suing the at-fault party and his or her insurer.

But not only do you have to get the balance right, you need to get the level of the balance correct. In determining the level of balance, one really is determining the total rate one pays. In getting the level of balance right, one could also provide the opportunity for individuals who need a much higher protection to buy it, and for those Ontario drivers who need much lower protection to also have that available to them. As I say, we needed to get the balance correct between tort and no-fault and the level of that balance correct. I believe we have done that in our particular plan.

In addition to all these design features that we felt were important as we structured the plan, we felt it was also important to understand that auto insurance is there for the benefit of the consumers -- not the industry, not the health care practitioners who provide the service after an accident, not the brokers who sell the product, not the lawyers who deal with the court action, not the bureaucrats who deal with the functions of the Ontario Insurance Commission or other government entities dealing with auto insurance, but the plan should be there to benefit Ontario drivers, the consumer. We felt it was crucial to build into this plan some very key consumer initiatives.

Through our discussion period in what I have called the first phase of our consultation process, we met with over 120 individuals and groups to talk to them about what they felt was important in auto insurance. Many of those groups were consumer groups or representatives from the consumer side of the product. Their comment to me through the consultation process and even through the committee process -- Madam Speaker, I know you are aware of this, because you sat on that committee with us and heard these concerns and issues. The consumer was concerned that they didn't have anybody to go to as a last resort if there was an issue to deal with an insurance company, either in the handling of a claim or just in the pricing of an auto policy. We felt it was crucial for us to build into the new auto plan the creation of a position at the Ontario Insurance Commission of an Ombudsman.

This Ombudsman will work in conjunction with other initiatives the industry has voluntarily started to develop; that is, their own various levels of Ombudsman. If there's a concern by a consumer with respect to this particular product, they will first go to their broker and the broker will have an opportunity to deal with the problem. Then the consumer can resort to an Ombudsman within the company writing the automobile insurance policy, because the industry, the providers of the product, have to make a serious attempt to come to grips with concerns their consumers bring, as a corporation of any other consumer product would do. Then the industry in general, as a group, is putting together an Ombudsman program, so that will be the third level of complaint, so to speak, a consumer can go to to have their concerns dealt with.

Finally, the Ombudsman at the Ontario Insurance Commission. We believe that position will be very crucial in allowing an opportunity for claimants and regular payers of automobile insurance premiums to deal with problems they have with respect to industry practice.

Many times I have heard complaints and concerns about two words, and they came up many times in our committee process. Those words are "Facility Association." For those viewers who are watching today who are not quite familiar, and I suppose they're lucky that they haven't had to meet those two words, Facility Association is effectively the high-risk insurer in Ontario for automobile insurance. That's a plan that's been put together by the industry to come to grips with how we provide insurance to individuals who have demonstrated a high driving risk or a potential to be a high driving risk.

Dealing with high-risk drivers and appropriately pricing that risk, I believe Ontarians would agree a bad driver should pay a high rate, but the problem with Facility Association is that it was using some rules, some rating schemes, to determine who would get into that category. One of the rules they used was something called the "lapse of coverage" rule, and the lapse of coverage rule effectively said, "Listen, if you don't have insurance for 12 months of the last 24 months, we can conceivably put you automatically into the high-risk driving category." That rule is there to identify individuals who will drop out of the insurance market because of a bad driving habit and then reappear and expect to be written into what's called the regular market at regular rates, rates you and I would be paying.

That's what that rule was clearly designed for. I was not convinced through the consultation process that the rule was actually applied as it was supposed to have been applied. As part of the rollout of this new particular plan, we encouraged the industry, and it has voluntarily agreed, to disengage, to stop the use of the lapse of coverage rule for determining who is eligible or not eligible for the Facility Association.

That's not the end of the Facility Association and the high-risk driving work we need to do; there is a lot more to be done. As a government, we need to work with the industry and consumer groups to determine how one properly identifies and prices those risks. We have agreed to work with the industry and consumer groups through the remaining part of this year to try to come to grips with what those changes to Facility Association should be.

Many retirees came and spoke to me. They said to me that it was ludicrous that they were paying $1,000-a-week net coverage when if they got involved in an accident they didn't have an economic loss; their pension still paid. Because, as I said earlier, the previous government believed everybody should have the same plan, they were paying for coverage they would never have an opportunity to use. We tried to design the plan so that retirees wouldn't end up paying for a product they could never use. As a result, we've instructed the industry, through this plan, to offer discounts to retirees to reflect the fact that their economic loss is probably very low, if any, and that they are entitled to a system that's different from the system that perhaps you and I, who have not retired and are still attempting to earn an income, are interested in receiving.


Along that line, because not all Ontario drivers are the same, we have decided to design a package that will allow individuals to top up their coverage to suit their own financial needs. We customize our retirement plans for our own personal needs. We customize life insurance for our own personal needs. We customize our own home or apartment insurance for our own personal needs, depending on the size of a house or apartment, depending on the contents we may have in that apartment. We even customize our bank accounts. Many of us have either savings accounts or chequing accounts or chequing-savings accounts. We do that because we're not all the same. So we needed, we believed, to provide Ontarians with a product in automobile insurance that they could customize to suit their particular financial requirements.

Last Wednesday, I had the good fortune to be in Ottawa speaking with a group called CFAIR; that is, Citizens' Forum Advocating Insurance Review. I'm sure the members from the Ottawa area have heard from them; if they haven't, they probably will. They were extremely happy with the pro-consumer actions that we had taken in this legislation and were looking forward to working with us and the industry to finalize the reworking of Facility Association and how we deal with high-risk drivers in this province.

There are approximately six million cars on the road, and owners of these cars collectively in Ontario pay billions of dollars in automobile insurance premiums annually. But according to the Canadian Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, 12% to 15% of every premium dollar is paid out in a fraudulent claim. That's $160 for the average Ontario motorist each year paid out in fraudulent claims. It's clear that something needs to be done about this, and we have taken some steps to deal with fraudulent claims.

We will require the pre-inspection of all vehicles before insuring them for the first time. Pre-inspection has been tried in several jurisdictions and some of the states south of the border and has proven to be effective in keeping down the fraudulent claims component of an automobile insurance policy. Insurers will now have the ability to suspend accident benefit payments if there is wilful and material misrepresentation made by the insured. New controls on accessing accident benefits will also reduce fraud and fraudulent claims.

We have brought new offences into the Insurance Act. These new offences have been created for claimants, health service providers and repair shops that knowingly provide false information in order to obtain insurance compensation. As well, it will also be an offence under the Insurance Act to sell or use false pink slips. The pink slip, as you're familiar, is the evidence of insurance coverage that people get when they renew their policy. These are new offences under the Insurance Act in addition to any related criminal offence that currently exists.

But what about the uninsured driver? Again, through all the levels of consultation we kept hearing about the fact that somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10%, even 20%, and I heard higher numbers, of the drivers in Ontario did not have the required automobile insurance coverage. Is it 10%? Is it 20%? I don't know. Either number is unacceptable to the honest, hardworking drivers of this province who are paying that cost.

We decided to deal with that. In this new legislation we will be increasing 10-fold the fines for driving without insurance. For a first offence, fines will now range from $5,000 to $25,000.

But maybe even more important, we need to identify who these uninsured drivers are and either get them off the road or get them buying insurance.

We need to make sure that in this day and age, when we can communicate across the world via computer using the Internet facilities, the Ministry of Transportation, of all places, has on a live and real-time basis a record of who is insured in this province so that, Madam Speaker, when you go, as I know you've done, to the Ministry of Transportation to renew your plate, the ownership certificate for your vehicle, they will know whether you've got insurance coverage. There will be no requirement for them to ask you: "Do you have auto insurance? Who is your insurer and what is your policy number?" They will know that.

In addition, highway traffic officers will be able to verify insurance coverage on the spot when they pull a vehicle over and will be able to deal with that uninsured vehicle on the spot, as opposed to waiting till an accident has occurred and you and I pay the cost.

Let me speak briefly to the actions that benefit the no-fault component of our plan so I can briefly sketch out what we have done. We've made substantial changes to the no-fault accident benefits that are available and these changes were made to return the payment of benefits as much as possible to an indemnity system, a system that pays one for loss as opposed to the entitlement system of Bill 164.

Some other significant changes deal with income replacement. Currently, it's $1,000 net a week, as I spoke to earlier, clearly well in excess of what the average Ontarian would need. We've lowered that, so the income supplement will be 80% of one's income to a maximum of $400 a week. You can buy additional amounts if you wish, but that's your choice. That's where one will customize to suit their own particular needs.

Non-earners will have access to an income supplement, but only after a six-month waiting period. Caregivers will be entitled to a maximum of $250 a week on an expense-incurred basis, plus $50 for each additional child. Those who are catastrophically injured will have access to $1 million in medical and rehabilitation benefits, while those in the non-catastrophic category will be eligible for $100,000. These benefits will only be accessed as long as the claimant has provided the insurer with a treatment plan.

I saw many claims as I went through my review process and I should say to you that most of those claims, the lion's share of those claims, were administered with no treatment plans, no road map whatsoever as to what the value of the medical and rehabilitation treatment would be to the insurer or to the insured; no knowledge or no reason as to why six treatments were required or 10 treatments were required, no road map as to what the expected outcome of those treatments would be and, hard to believe, no estimate of the costs of the expected treatment.

This plan will end that. That benefits consumers because finally claimants will know what the benefits are that they will get from a particular treatment plan. They will know why they are going and how it's expected they will benefit from this particular plan.

We've streamlined the entitlement benefits section. I want to briefly talk about a story that was related to me -- it was not a story, it's an actual claim situation that was related to me while I was speaking to a group of claims managers in Barrie, Ontario.

A gentleman came up to me and said that his company was actually paying income replacement benefits to an individual who was serving time in one of the penitentiaries in Kingston because apparently this claimant was employed at the time and was injured in a car chasing away from the scene of a crime. Now the insurance company is paying an income supplement to this individual.


Under this new system, somebody injured in a vehicle while using it to commit a criminal offence will not be entitled to income replacement benefits. Those caught drunk driving, failing to provide a breath sample, operating their own uninsured vehicle, operating a vehicle without an owner's consent and driving without a valid driver's licence will be ineligible for income replacement benefits, non-earner and student benefits, housekeeping benefits or visitor benefits. These measures return accountability to Ontario drivers.

Let me just briefly speak about the part of the plan that allows one to sue the at-fault victim for recovery. Finally, innocent accident victims will be able to sue for their economic loss. This is a return to the right of action in the tort that the previous government decided it should discontinue. Claimants will be eligible via the court system to sue for 100% of their gross income post trial date. For pain and suffering damages, what's called the general damage category in insurance language, claimants will have to meet a verbal threshold, a verbal definition of the level of severity of the injury. That will require that the injury be permanent and serious. The claim will also be subjected to a $15,000 deductible. This measure ensures the system will not be abused by frivolous claims.

I want to close, and if I can, pass some of my time off to my colleague from Halton North. But in closing, I want to make sure that this House and the people watching today are assured of the fact that when we designed this system, we did not design this system to suit the needs of lawyers. We did not design this system to suit the needs of the health practitioners involved. We did not design this system to suit the needs of the insurance companies. We designed this system to focus on the needs of Ontario drivers. This is finally a plan we believe that Ontario drivers can see for some time, because it's a good balance of both of the components of an auto plan.

It will need to be tinkered as we go forward, no question. I'm not going to stand in this House and say we have this plan perfectly designed and engineered. It will need to be worked, it will need to be managed as we go forward. All stakeholders involved share some responsibility in managing this product to make it work -- all stakeholders involved. But if we do that, if the stakeholders are prepared to work this plan and make it happen, I believe we have designed a system here that Ontarians can pass on to their children, a stable product, finally, that's not changing every time a government changes.

I look forward to hearing the debates and comments of my other colleagues in this House. I will now pass my time over to my colleague from Halton North.

Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): As the member for Halton North, the introduction of the Automobile Insurance Rate Stability Act by Finance Minister Ernie Eves last week was good news for my constituents, all consumers, drivers and people in the province of Ontario, and perhaps chief among them, Mr Ron Downey, who I know is a regular watcher of this show.

There are a number of balanced measures introduced which will contribute to fairness and public safety. I will talk about many of these measures today. The cornerstones of this legislation speak to improved rate stability, taking action against those irresponsible enough to cheat the current system by committing fraud or avoiding to insure their vehicle, and restoring the limited right to sue for innocent accident victims.

I do not wish to spend too much time today on the existing Bill 164 other than to make a few brief comments. It is evident to most why changes to the current auto insurance legislation are necessary. The previous government's no-fault legislation was based on admirable goals, but in reality it fell short on expectations. It did not attack the fundamental problems which automobile insurance currently has. Simply put, the no-fault auto insurance product under Bill 164 cost too much. In 1995 most consumers were faced with double-digit increases which mirrored similar increases in 1994. With inflation hovering around 2%, consumers could not afford to face another year of double-digit increases in auto insurance rates, nor would they put up with it.

Under Bill 164 almost everyone injured in an auto accident was entitled to generous benefits instead of being compensated for actual losses. Sadly, in some cases generous benefits led to abuses in the system and encouraged fraudulent claims. These abuses and high benefit levels caused all insured drivers to pay higher premiums and in many cases to pay for additional coverage which was only needed by a few.

Finally, before turning to the legislation which is now before the House, Bill 164 penalized all drivers and accident victims. Those with good driving records were burdened by paying an increased premium rate to compensate for bad drivers. As well, innocent accident victims through this system paid at-fault drivers and were limited as to any legal channels which they may pursue by unfairly restricting their right to sue. In fact, with no access to tort or the right to sue for economic losses under Bill 164, there is little or no deterrent to negligence, and in many cases the system does not adequately compensate victims for actual loss.

We believe that the Automobile Insurance Rates Stability Act will not only have a stabilizing effect on insurance rates by providing an environment for healthy competition in Ontario, but it will also put in place an important mechanism necessary to ensure that benefits paid out are reasonable and fair.

To achieve stability it is necessary to implement mechanisms that will control costs. Accident benefits under this legislation will provide all drivers with basic levels of protection. The maximum income replacement benefit is $400 a week. For people with collateral insurance plans in the workplace or other personal disability plans, the benefits will act as a top-up mechanism to ensure that claimants receive 80% of their net income.

Some will charge that the new maximum income replacement benefit is simply not enough. In some cases they would be correct. That is why we have built flexibility and choice into the system which will allow individuals to purchase additional coverage. We have to remember that, like any other financial product, auto insurance should have options available for customers who require flexibility to suit their own needs. These changes allow individuals to purchase additional benefit layers from $200, $400 and $600 per week.

There may be some who will say that the new system is one where the well-to-do will get some kind of Cadillac treatment in a system only they can afford, or that costs will not decrease because of the need to buy additional coverage to compensate for reduction in benefits. The facts are that the new basic benefits will cover 50% of the workforce, and when collateral benefits are considered, a large majority of the working population will have full income replacement protection without needing to buy additional coverage.

Other cost-saving measures will include modifying no-fault payments for medical and rehabilitation expenses to differentiate between the severely injured and the less severely injured; requirements for filing treatment plans; definitions for "accident," "catastrophic impairment" and "health practitioner"; and stronger measures to control and combat fraud. It is this topic which I would like to turn to next.


Fraud is something that is difficult to put a price on. There is no doubt it exists, and it is up to the total auto insurance industry and government to tighten up the system to discourage abuse. Sadly, some in our society still believe that it is okay to cheat the system because of its size. The prevailing attitude might be that someone else will pay for it. This legislation takes a much harder line on criminal activity as it creates three offences targeted at fraudulent activity by claimants. Fraud claims by claimants will now face stiffer penalties, starting at $100,000 for the first offence and up to $200,000 for each additional offence.

Other fraud-deterring measures will include suspending benefits to a person who does not comply with reasonable requests for information; requiring insurers to pre-inspect all vehicles as determined by regulation before insuring them for the first time; and requiring insurers to share information with the Ministry of Community and Social Services to reduce double recovery of social insurance and accident benefits.

The final measure that I want to mention today and spend a moment on is cracking down on the uninsured driver. Now, fellow colleagues, this crackdown strikes at the very core of those unwilling to pay their fair share for the privilege of driving, not the right to drive, on Ontario's highways.

More importantly, it is also a matter of public safety. There are examples of vehicles on Ontario's roads today which could not meet safety specifications, are uninsurable, yet still travel on our highways, driven by those irresponsible enough to take the risk.

There are also drivers on our roads who, through every fault of their own, are high-risk drivers. They have been reckless and have produced bad driving records for themselves over the years, so bad that they can no longer afford to pay the insurance premiums but drive anyway.

For those irresponsible enough to pursue this course of action the penalties will be stiff. A first offence for those who are uninsured will range from $5,000 to $25,000, and subsequent offences could cost as high as $50,000. Those who drive uninsured will, at their own peril, be unable to sue if involved in an accident. The Minister of Transportation will assist in this process, as it will require insurers to provide verification of insurance coverage and will introduce wrecked-vehicle legislation in the near future.

The bottom line here is that Ontario's roads will be safer to travel on in the future, and that is good news for everyone.

The other benefit of this crackdown is the encouragement of uninsured drivers to start paying for their driving privileges and reduce the monetary burden on the system. In the real world the customer is king; that is why I am excited by the prospects that this legislation presents. Insurers and brokers will have to become more accountable and responsive to the needs of the consumer. Many people experience difficulty with their insurers, and during the hearings of last winter we met many of them. Disputes can often be time-consuming and frustrating, not to mention the resources invested and lost when fighting a claim.

As a first step, this legislation directs all insurers to establish a formal complaints mechanism for their company. More importantly, this legislation introduces an insurance Ombudsman at the Ontario Insurance Commission to respond to all complaints that have not been settled and investigate cases when necessary.

This legislation protects consumers against rate gouging. It requires brokers to provide consumers who are shopping for insurance with all information gathered on their policies. Brokers will declare in all cases whom they represent, whom they requested a quote from, the amount of the quote and the insurer's claim management practices rating.

It also introduces a simplified automobile insurance rate review, wherein the Ontario Insurance Commission, upon an overall rate review, can subject insurers to a more stringent review process if their rates are set too high over a recognized benchmark.

Another important consumer initiative affects those less able to pay high premiums. Many seniors who have retired live on fixed incomes. Insurance premiums often become burdensome to seniors in that their increases eat up a disproportionate amount of their fixed incomes. To reflect this reality and increase fairness in the current system, this legislation requires insurers to offer discounts to retirees.

The last point I will touch on today is that this legislation restores an innocent victim's right to sue for the most important losses over and above benefit levels. Under the current system, there is no access to the courts for economic losses and in some cases at-fault motorists are receiving more compensation than those who are not at fault. It is our belief that the reintroduction of tort, or the right to sue, will act as a deterrent to negligent driving habits and will have a positive impact on premiums of good drivers. However, even in re-establishing the right to sue, limits are in place to prevent the process from getting out of control while discouraging or minimizing nuisance claims in the courts.

As for compensation claims which could encounter a lengthy court settlement, the new legislation tries to ensure that insured accident victims have timely access to compensation and medical and rehabilitation benefits they need. It also includes early settlement provisions like increased disclosure of information, use of mediation to settle claims before commencing tort actions, and notice of claims. All accident victims who want to make tort claims will have to follow these procedures and insurers will have a duty to settle claims as quickly as possible.

All said and done, this act improves the balance in the system for consumers and the industry. To be perfectly frank, there are probably very few people in the province who like paying insurance premiums, no matter what their rate. However, we as responsible citizens realize that we live in a world where an uncertain future causes us to assess potential threats to protect our wellbeing. While none of us can control or predict the future, we all know we can make decisions to be better prepared to face it. Auto insurance helps guarantee some measure of peace of mind, but it shouldn't make us broke. The changes made by our new legislation will help contribute to that peace of mind and ensure a smoother ride for all Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Questions or comments? Further speakers?

Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Here we are, 1996, the third --

Mr Sampson: Thank God for the rule about 90 minutes.

Mr Kormos: As a matter of fact, I was taking a look at the rules, and notwithstanding the efforts of the last government to restrict leadoff speeches to a mere 90 minutes, the Speaker may or may not be aware of rules which permit exceptions to that. The Speaker may or may not be aware of them; I'm not aware of them at all.

I find myself in the peculiar position of once again debating auto insurance, for the third time in as many governments. Here we are, and in some respects we've come almost full circle. At the end of the day, we find ourselves back to where we began, that is to say, pre-Bill 68. I'm going to speak to this, if I may, but I'm going to speak to it with respect to the fact that it was the very structure of pre-Bill 68 that gave rise to this passion for, this orgy of, so-called insurance reform that flowed first with Bill 68 and then subsequently, with the next government, with Bill 164, and here we are with Bill 59. Bill 59 has as much a misnomer for a title as any bill could ever have: An Act to provide Ontario drivers with fair, balanced and stable automobile insurance. The problem is that the last two governments referred to their reforms in much the same language.

Speaker, you know I have some strongly held views on the issue of auto insurance. It was remarkable that just earlier today we were talking about one-armed bandits when the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations announced that this province was going to be infested in short order with slot machines, one-armed bandits. I mention that because it's not inappropriate that we be discussing the two-armed banditry of the insurance industry in the same afternoon as the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations speaks of one-armed banditry.


I also want to indicate that I'm grateful I've got a chance to speak to this. This is called the leadoff speech. I reflect on the fact that in the first term I had here at Queen's Park, I was blessed with the opportunity to be, among other things, the auto insurance critic. Then I found myself, in the course of the last government, once again being an auto insurance critic, although that certainly wasn't by way of plan on the part of the leadership.

It was interesting. After the June election in 1995, we became a much smaller caucus, no two ways about it, but what happened is that the caucus was assembled -- I think I can say this, because I don't think I'm telling stories out of school when I mention this -- the caucus got together and the leader said, "I'm going to appoint critics' roles and I want everybody to write down a list of the three critics' roles they would prefer, in order." I wrote down three critics' roles and, regardless of what I had written down, I was made critic for consumer and commercial relations. The letter I got from the leader announcing, "You're going to be the critic for consumer and commercial relations," had in very bold print, "and this does not include auto insurance." I recall that letter well, because of course one would think that auto insurance would fall within the realm of consumer issues, consumer and commercial relations, but technically it doesn't.

I want to get back to that, but I do want to say with respect to Mr Sampson, the parliamentary assistant, and his role in this matter, that he was charged with the responsibility, yet -- do you know what's incredible? I've got to reflect on this. I don't wish Mr Sampson ill in any way, shape or form, but I remember the parliamentary assistant for then Minister Murray Elston back during Bill 68. Murray Elston, you recall, was the Liberal minister in charge and responsible for Bill 68. How that came about, you'll recall, was that the then Premier, campaigning in 1987 after two years of, quite frankly, relatively good government -- because for those two years, 1985 and 1986, because of the accord, a whole lot of progressive legislation was passed by that government because it was part of the New Democratic Party agenda. It was remarkable.

At the same time, it was the success and the popularity of the New Democratic Party agenda which the government was forced to implement which made the government popular enough -- remember the Liberals? -- to be elected in unprecedented numbers, very similar to this government. There were so many Liberals here that they had to have a rump, just like this government has. That is to say, there were so many Liberals that there wasn't enough room for them over on the government side but they sat over here on the opposition as well.

But I remember Rick Ferraro, a good friend, and he was the parliamentary assistant for the minister, Murray Elston. The minister wasn't around; Murray Elston, the Liberal minister, wasn't going to touch Bill 68 with a 10-foot pole. He knew something that Rick Ferraro, his parliamentary assistant, didn't. Again, the utmost respect for Rick Ferraro, but he was the parliamentary assistant charged, and he did an excellent job of dealing with that messy proposition of Bill 68, of putting it through committee and then through the House in very much the same role as Mr Sampson had. Bill 68 passed, of course, because the government of the day, the Liberals, had this incredible majority. But Rick Ferraro then, notwithstanding his best efforts, burned as bad as he was by Bill 68, lost in the 1990 election.

I suspect that I was blessed in some respects, because of course by the time Bill 164 was steered through the House, I had nothing to do with it, thank goodness; I wouldn't have had anything to do with it. But the person in charge of that was similarly defeated. I don't wish Mr Sampson any ill, but it seems that the legacy attached to insurance reform is that when we're dealing with a private, profit-motivated corporate insurance sector, there is some risk attached to that.

Mr Sampson has done yeoman service in the process, because it was very early on in this government's term that Mr Sampson was charged with the responsibility for so-called auto insurance reform. I do want to thank him because, to be very fair, he had me in his office in relatively short order, talking about what he was about to do and engaging in what was in fact consultation. The problem is he knew exactly what I was going to tell him; there were no surprises in the course of our conversation. But I am grateful for the generosity demonstrated by Mr Sampson in the course of asking me, along with more than a few other people. As a matter of fact, it was interesting because I was able to bring two constituents along, Jeff and Rose Morabito from down in Welland -- they live over on the corner of Denistoun and West Main -- hardworking folks who were visiting up here in Queen's Park, and the parliamentary assistant, Robert Sampson, had no qualms about them sitting in as we had our discussion.

They were impressed, Jeff Morabito and Rose Morabito. Hardworking folks, drivers, of course, taxpayers, hard workers. They've got three wonderful kids. The boy just broke his leg. Saw him in a cast the other day over at Chippewa Park during Day in the Park. They were impressed, among other things, with the luxuriousness of Mr Sampson's office and surprised -- mind you, they didn't vote; the folks from Welland-Thorold can't be blamed for this government -- but they were over there in Mr Sampson's, the parliamentary assistant's office, not a cabinet minister, but a parliamentary assistant, over in the finance building, and they were impressed by the luxuriousness of his office and a little shocked and surprised that a government that would preach restraint would indulge itself in such plush carpet and such finely upholstered furniture.

None the less, notwithstanding my good friends and constituents Jeff Morabito's and Rose Morabito's response -- Rose Carey is the name she uses; it's her maiden name -- to Mr Sampson's office, he did bring me in and talk about what he was proposing to do and the type of process he was going to embark on. I thought that was eminently fair of him and open-minded, again notwithstanding that it was one of those things where he knew exactly what it was I was going to say.

Similarly, I watched and participated in the auto insurance hearings. From time to time, I was substituted for the caucus's appointment to that committee, and on those occasions when I wasn't a substitute, I attended as of right as a member of the Legislature and again was accommodated by Mr Sampson and all the members of the committee.

I recall those committee hearings across the province -- gosh, we were up in Ottawa among other places, we were in London -- across the province of Ontario. It was a little bit of a done deal, because the government had a draft piece of legislation. It wasn't a matter of starting with -- what do you call it, a tabula rasa? Is that the right word, tabula rasa? It wasn't a matter of going in with a clean slate and going to people and saying, "Look, you've had experience now." By then, they had had experience with three regimes, not a whole lot of experience with either 68 or 164. "What are the issues? Tell us what the issues are." No. Mr Sampson, or whoever it is who writes this stuff -- I've got a feeling that Mr Sampson did not sit down quill in hand, parchment in front of him, writing the draft legislation. But it remains that rather than going to the public and saying, "What are the issues that have to be addressed?" there was a proposal.


I'm going to tell you up front and candidly that I, on behalf of the New Democratic caucus of the day -- and that was during the course of the Liberal government from 1987 through to 1990 -- fought and resisted the so-called no-fault insurance of David Peterson. You'll remember how that came about. Talk about policies being written on the back of an envelope in the executive seat of a government jet.

Here we had then Premier David Peterson campaigning and in the pressure of a scrum, to the dismay of his handlers and keepers and spin doctors and speechwriters and media relations people and pollsters, as a result of the pressure that New Democrats, Mel Swart in particular, had been putting on the government, which had been persistent, David Peterson blurts out, "Oh, we have a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums." Holy zonkers. That sent the spin doctors and the media relations people and the scriptwriters and the handlers and the keepers running and scrambling. Peterson was scooped up. There were people nearby who thought there had been an abduction the way David Peterson was scooped away by these Liberal hacks and thrown into the back seat of the limo as it sped off. They were going, "What the heck are you talking about, you've got a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums?" I wasn't there, because I was down in Welland-Thorold campaigning for Mel Swart, who of course was successful in 1987, but I'm sure the Premier of the day, of the Liberals, said, "Well, don't we?" It was one of those: "Huh? I must have meant it if I said it."

We then witnessed a remarkable departure into the bizarre and the weird and the strange, because it wasn't the first time auto insurance had been dealt with. What happened is that the Liberals spent millions of dollars on the OAIB, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, set up high-priced offices up there in North York. Mr Sampson will be familiar with them. He's been in them, not during their life as Ontario Automobile Insurance Board but during their life as Ontario Insurance Commission.

The problem was that there was an enhanced level of redundancy inherent in those OAIB hearings, because there had already been the Osborne commission. The Osborne commission, back in April 1987, received submissions from a number of people across the province, among others a document called Highway Robbery, which is why I don't hesitate to refer to the auto insurance industry as the two-armed bandits of Ontario in contrast to the one-armed bandits that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations wants to see in every corner of every block of every city, village and town in the province, so that every desperate, sad Ontarian can keep plunking their nickels, dimes, quarters and loonies into them in hopes of the big payoff, which of course will never happen.

Highway Robbery was very much an important document in the course of where the New Democratic Party in this province stood in terms of auto insurance. It was authored by Bob Rae, then leader, and Mel Swart, who was the financial institutions critic for the New Democratic Party. It was based in no small part on the history of public auto insurance in provinces like Saskatchewan, of course, where Tommy Douglas created the first public auto insurance system in this country -- by God, in North America -- in Manitoba, and of course in British Columbia where Dave Barrett, a New Democrat, introduced public auto insurance.

It also expressed a strong need to retain the tort rights of innocent victims. Here we have to spend a little bit of time talking about this whole phenomenon of what's called no-fault. I listened carefully to what Mr Sampson had to say today, as well as listening to the volume of commentary he made during the course of the hearings. There really is a misnomer about no-fault.

The fact is that the concept of no-fault has not inappropriately been attached to New Democrats. The fact is that there was a no-fault component in the automobile insurance package prior to the Liberals' Bill 68. Mr Sampson knows that. Anybody who was ever involved in the auto insurance industry or involved in struggling to get compensation for a victim is aware of that. It was New Democrats who fought to get the no-fault component into automobile insurance here in the province of Ontario, because the Democrats recognized that it's not just the innocent victim who requires assistance in terms of rehabilitation and medical care and, yes, wage replacement, but also there are people -- and Mr Sampson referred to them. I don't quite agree with his interpretation of what causes accidents. It's strange, because Mr Sampson appears still to be suffering from some of that difficulty in comprehending what no-fault is and what it ought to be.

The fact is that there was a very modest level of no-faults, and one of the criticisms by New Democrats and Mel Swart to the Osborne commission back in April 1987 was that the level of no-fault income replacement in the pre-68 legislation was so modest, it was capped at $140 a week. What no-fault means is that regardless of whether or not you're an innocent victim, you receive some wage replacement, and part of the no-fault package of course is rehab costs and long-term care. New Democrats have always recognized that no-faults are an important component of any auto insurance system.

Let's talk about the fact that Mr Sampson hasn't abandoned no-fault in his proposal. What he's done, though, is very much put it under attack. You see, the Liberals when they presented Bill 68 pathetically tried -- let's remember. You know what's really peculiar --

A thunderclap was heard.

Mr Kormos: I'm glad the elements are on my side.

Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Whoa. Somebody doesn't agree with you.

Mr Kormos: That was applause, from far higher sources than we're going to find in this chamber.

We advocated as New Democrats a system of full recovery for innocent victims and a guarantee of a decent level of income replacement, medical coverage, rehabilitation and long-term care for those injured persons in motor vehicle accidents for whom there was no at-fault party and who were either at fault themselves or for whom there was nobody basically to point the finger at.

Bill 68 brought in -- and let's remember where it came from. This is where I have some real trouble. The problem is that Mr Sampson's only been here for a little bit of time. I understand he used to be -- and I don't want to offend him -- a banker or a banker type before politics. I suppose at the end of the day I've nothing against bankers or banker types. Mind you, if I were a victim of the exorbitant user fees banks in this province, in this country, are imposing upon working people with which they generate their billions of dollars in profits, I should have something against bankers. But that's not the focus.

Mr Sampson: Bill 59.

Mr Kormos: Mr Sampson here reminds me, "Ah, we've got to be talking about Bill 59," and I digressed and started talking about him. He appears to have reflected on the fate of the last two drivers of auto insurance reform and now wants people to speak less about him and more about the legislation. I can understand that concern.


But you see, to keep tabs on the automobile insurance industry is tough because the numbers are certainly in three digits. It's in excess of 100, but some days you hear there are 110 of them, 120 of them, 130 of them. Who knows how many private corporate sector auto insurance companies there are in the province? We know they're making a whole lot of money, always have been. You know what? Always will.

How does an insurance company make money? Simple proposition. When you're a profit-motivated insurance company, how do you make money, Speaker? I see you've got pen in hand, you're doing the calculation. You know darn well how you make money if you're a private, profit-motivated, corporate sector auto insurance company. You charge the maximum amount of premiums and pay out the least amount of benefits. It's an industry that by its very nature has to have short arms and deep pockets to make the maximum amount of profits. Not only do they have short arms and deep pockets, they also have short memories, because it was the auto insurance industry that fought tort.

Mr Sampson, parliamentary assistant, steering Bill 59 through the Legislature, please reflect on the fact that it was the auto insurance industry in its submissions to the Osborne inquiry that said no, it's tort, it's the rights of innocent accident victims that are generating these premium increases that were under attack at the time. They introduced -- well, they called it smart no-fault. What an oxymoron. Smart no-fault? Give me a break. They proposed no-fault to the Osborne commission. Osborne told them what the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board told the industry a mere couple of years later, that no-fault in itself would not generate savings. It can address other issues. It can address issues like the adequacy of compensation, income replacement, medical rehab, long-term care for injured persons for whom there isn't an at-fault driver or an at-fault vehicle to point the finger at.

I sat through these hearings most recently and here we had these auto insurance companies -- friends of Mr Sampson's, no two ways about it. There was a great schism in the industry during the course of the hearings. We're not talking about little players; we're talking about the top five auto insurance sellers here in the province of Ontario. Among those top five we had some of the biggest saying that Mr Sampson's bill was going to generate premium increases of in excess of 10% and 11% a year. We got others who rather coyly said: "Thank you, Mike Harris and the Tories. You've given us the combination to the safe. We're happy as pigs in a barnyard. We're going to be able to make money now like we've never made it before." That was the division within the industry.

Something happened in the back rooms, something sordid, I'm sure, and something unspeakable. But something happened in the back rooms because by the time we got around to Bill 59 being presented, you'd got the industry here and they were ad idem, so to speak. They're speaking with one voice. All of a sudden, somebody's twisted a whole bunch of arms and they've decided they'd better stop warning people about the premium increases that are inevitable. That's what they were telling folks. You're going to hear from Ms Lankin, the member for Beaches-Woodbine. She was there; she heard them say that. It's on the record, it's on Hansard -- major auto insurance companies in this province warning of double-digit premium increases with this bill. Not ne'er-do-wells, not errant, fly-by-night operations; some of the largest, among the top five, telling folks here in the province of Ontario that Mr Sampson's and Mike Harris's auto insurance bill is going to generate double-digit premium increases. Here were people who were either being outright less than honest -- either they were lying or they were confused or they were telling the truth. Those are the three choices we have, don't we? Fair enough. I understand those are the three choices we have: They were lying, they didn't know or they were telling the truth.

We're looking now at a complete reversion to the system that existed prior to Bill 68, the very system of auto insurance that generated the double-digit premium increases that created this sense of crisis. Heck, I remember when Mr Kwinter and Mr Sorbara were answering questions here -- they were the ministers of financial institutions, if I recall correctly, and then Murray Elston -- about the double-digit premium increases. They were grappling with a product that was what we have here with Bill 59.

I'm going to be quite honest when I say I support the restoration of tort. It's incredibly important that innocent accident victims have the right to full recovery of all of their losses. It's unconscionable that an innocent accident victim should not be able to be compensated for their economic loss, and quite frankly for their pain and suffering, which leads me to comment of course on the tinkering with that right.

Mr Sampson's trying to be all things to all people. It just doesn't work. Ask the last government. You can't do it. You can't be all things to all people. You've got to pick sides. There are sides in every issue and you can't be all things to all people. The litigators --


Mr Kormos: Mr Flaherty should have been here.

The lawyers saw in terms of Bill 164, which was nothing more than an evolution of Bill 68, which is exactly what the industry wanted, a pure no-fault system. Bill 164 as much as gave it to them. Auto insurance companies relish the prospect of not having to be involved in litigation. Mr Sampson wants to -- look, I shouldn't blame it all on Mr Sampson. Clearly it's the Conservative government here in the province of Ontario which tried to take on the challenge of premium increases.

Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): No, no, don't blame us all; go back to Mr Sampson.

Mr Kormos: Mr Murdoch is saying: "No, don't hang me with this. Boy, oh boy, I want to get re-elected." He's been elected twice now up in his riding; he'd like to go for a third time. He does not want to suffer the fate of other advocates of the respective insurance reforms, be it of the last government or the government before.

We've got a restoration of tort, but when do you have some tort but not a whole lot of tort? When you fail to recognize that pain and suffering is a meaningful and compensable injury. I don't understand the philosophy. I hope this goes into committee hearings. I wish this would go into committee hearings, because I'd be here at each and every one of them, each and every day, sitting through those hot, muggy days of July and August, questioning the parliamentary assistant, Mr Sampson. I hope they go to committee hearings. I hope Mr Sampson has to sit here in a hot, muggy, non-air-conditioned committee room so I can question him about the rationale for there to be a failure to have full compensation for pain and suffering. I'd really like to know what the dollars and cents are, because what he's tried to do is nickel-and-dime on behalf of his friends in the insurance industry, nickel-and-dime the victim away.


There's another area where we've got to express some concerns. This bill is in some respects so similar to the Liberal legislation, it's impossible to isolate this from what its real genesis was, and that was Bill 68. If Mr Sampson were being candid, he'd acknowledge that this is essentially the Liberal bill. Here we have a Conservative parliamentary assistant, a Progressive -- well, far be it from me to call him a Progressive Conservative; a Conservative, we'll settle for Conservative.

Mr Murdoch: But is it better, though? Do you not think it's a little better?

Mr Kormos: You see, Mr Murdoch here plays both sides of the fence. Mr Sampson hasn't yet revealed that tendency to me, although who knows? In the next federal election he could find himself out there knocking on doors for the Reform candidate. I'm not sure. I don't want to prejudge. It's not as if he's being appointed to anything at the government agencies commission such that I could ask him what kind of political parties -- a whole lot of Tories belong to more than one. You know that, don't you, Speaker? A whole lot of Tories. Boy, they want to be Tories when it comes to provincial politics, but they want to be Reformers when it comes to federal politics.

I asked one Tory -- and I won't name that Tory -- what that Tory would do if the Reform Party ran a candidate in the next provincial election. This Tory said, "No problem, I'd just paint him as a red." That shows you what the mindset is of the Conservatives here at Queen's Park. We're not talking about Progressive Conservatives, we're not talking about the sort of philosophy that people like Dalton Camp nurtured, and we're not talking about Bill Davis or John Robarts; we're talking about a totally new breed.

We're talking about an auto insurance plan here that the industry wrote. At the end of the day, what the industry wants, by God, the industry gets, and they got 'er again. You had George Cooke down here. Do you remember George Cooke? George Cooke has gone through many metamorphoses. Talk about being all things to all people. Here's George Cooke, one of -- well, by God, I suspect he was one of the authors of Bill 68. No wonder he's ecstatic about Bill 59.

Look what they did. Bill 68 had a cap on no-fault income replacement. They started with $450. You'll remember that, Speaker. I know you were paying attention at the time because you were watching that debate closely. They had a cap of $450. We in the opposition -- and I should mention the role of the now Solicitor General, Bob Runciman, who was my counterpart in the Conservative caucus, who, if I remember correctly, joined with me in the committee in insisting that the $450 cap on no-fault be raised to $600. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am on that one. I remember Bob Runciman as an aggressive and effective spokesperson for injured people.

Mr Murdoch: He was.

Mr Kormos: I know he was. There you go, he was.

Mr Murdoch: He is still.

Mr Kormos: The Liberal proposition in Bill 68 had a mere $450 maximum for income replacement in terms of the no-fault schedule. As a result of the persistence and effectiveness of the opposition, New Democrats and Conservatives, the Liberals were compelled to raise that to $600.

One of the theories and one of the things that Mel Swart speaks about in Highway Robbery is that if you have a decent no-fault component, you discourage litigation, even in the case of the innocent accident victim. The fact is that most litigation deals with the lower end of compensation. Most of the tort claims deal with the lower end. We're not talking about the catastrophic injuries; that requires addressing separately. But if you have a decent level of no-fault, please Mr Sampson, you're going to inherently reduce the amount of litigation in terms of income replacement. Please listen. There's still time for amendments here. There's still time to restore no-fault benefits.

Look, I understand your argument, and quite frankly there's an argument to be made that the $1,000 cap that was contained in Bill 164 was high. At the same time, how many people ever availed themselves of that? Because the vast majority of people who would find themselves in a position where their income replacement level would be at $1,000 are almost inevitably in professions or occupations where they have workplace-provided income replacement. You know what we've got here? We've got still another government that's intent on picking the pockets of working people, because once again we've got a piece --

Mr Sampson: Yes, so you wanted them to pay for the $1,000.

Mr Kormos: Mr Sampson, we've got a piece of insurance legislation that requires working people who have paid for workplace-provided income replacement to call upon that before they call upon the insurance company that should be paying it in the first place. It's called picking the pockets of working people.

An insurance company like Zurich or Dominion or Pilot -- I should be careful with Pilot because I have a special relationship with Pilot and I wouldn't want to be punished for -- well, the heck with them. Pilot and a whole bunch of others thrown in, and Allstate and State Farm, say, "We'll insure you but we're not really going to insure you," but they'll make sure they collect your premiums. No insurance company's ever been delinquent when it comes around to collecting premiums. Boy, oh boy, do they collect premiums. They collect them real good, but when it comes to paying out -- you see, there's a persistent mythology that's present in this legislation.

I recall that during Bill 68 it was sort of, "Trust us." Do you remember that, Mr Sampson, the insurance companies saying, "Oh, trust us"? As if Mother Teresa somehow all of a sudden was appointed to the board of directors of that given insurance company. I'm sorry, an insurance company saying, "Trust us," is like Al Palladini saying, "Don't worry about it; it's supposed to sound that way when it's idling." You just can't go for it. "The cheque is in the mail," "Your money cheerfully refunded," and the third great lie, "Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" -- nobody believes that any more. The insurance industry is saying: "Trust us when it comes to no-fault. It's first-party coverage." That was the line, that was the argument. That's the company you do business with.

The fact is that your office has been inundated with complaints and concerns, just like every member's office in any community -- or at least any member who has any interest at all in the insurance issue -- has been inundated with complaints about the fact that the insurance industry persistently denies no-fault coverage. Then they come before this committee and say: "Oh, we're the victims of fraud. We've been victimized. People are malingering."

Horsefeathers, Speaker, and you know it. I appreciate you nodding in acknowledgement because you understand that as well in your own right. You know darn well that what we're talking about is insurance companies that have no interest whatsoever in responding appropriately to an injured party and that in some instances would just as soon pay out and charge back to the premium payer and in other instances would with malice, outright malice, terminate benefits and force the claimant into a position where that claimant had to go to the Ontario Insurance Commission, to mediation and/or arbitration.

Oh, the puffery that's inherent in this legislation, the puffery. Talking about brokers, you know what? There are more than a few brokers -- I suppose they are ex-brokers -- sitting here in this assembly. Why brokers are wedded to the private sector insurance industry beats me, because if the private sector insurance industry has been screwing drivers and victims for decades, and I believe it has, it has been doing it to brokers as well. One of the things that Mr Sampson and the government were well aware of -- as a matter of fact, during the course of the election campaign Mr Gilchrist was part of a panel that I was on, where we met with 100, 200, maybe even more brokers, all of whom were getting the shaft from the industry.


Part of Mr Sampson's package is designed so that brokers have to divulge the companies they represent. One of the myths is that you go -- you've seen the ads on TV, haven't you? Of course you have. "Oh, you're in good hands with your local neighbourhood broker and your broker's going to shop for you and your broker's going to get you the best deal and your broker's going to make sure that your insurance company deals with you fairly at the end of the day." But the fact is that brokers in this province, especially small-town and small business brokers, have been used to cherry-pick by the industry, to high-grade in mining terms. That is to say that if a particular broker happens to write any number of clients for whom there are claims against that insurance company, the insurance company will simply cut the broker free. In other words, they want to be in the insurance business but they really don't want to be in the business of risk pooling.

I'm looking forward to July and August sittings of committee, with Mr Sampson present each and every day, each and every hour of those hearings, so that I can question Mr Sampson about why it is that he and this Conservative government won't address the concerns of brokers. We've got brokers in this province -- they've called in, they've pleaded with me not to identify them, and the reason will be obvious -- who are down to one insurance company. Mr Sampson is going to require them to identify which insurance companies they represent. You tell me the likelihood of that broker lasting more than a week or two when that broker has to tell a customer that she or he represents only one company and they can't shop.

Here we are with another dog's breakfast. Here we are in a position where we're starting to understand, as are, remarkably, such august sources as the Toronto Star and even the Toronto Sun. Boy, was I surprised to see the Sun attack and criticize the bungling of auto insurance reform. Was I surprised to see that, the bungling of auto insurance reform. No fault of Mr Sampson's; please, don't get me wrong. In view of what the fate has been of each and every other parliamentary assistant who dealt with auto insurance, Mr Sampson is to receive sympathy; as a matter of fact, we ought to hold a fund-raiser for his retirement. Because here we go; we'd better start learning this, all of us. Even Mr Sampson, during the course of these hearings, was required, albeit perhaps merely musing aloud, to reflect on the fact that maybe it isn't the product that's creating the problem; maybe it isn't a matter of how much no-fault, how much tort, the fact that you try to shave points.

One of the things that concerns me about the caps that have been imposed here is that they are truly illusory. Mr Sampson tries to play games by putting caps on things like rehab and long-term care and by creating two classes of victims. Yet the fact remains that very few people ever reach those caps, very few victims ever do. But what does that victim do when they've reached that cap in terms of, let's say, long-term care? Mr Sampson, please. They're thrown to the wolves? Do you simply abandon them or do you recognize that the caps have nothing to do with the cost of insurance premiums? What they have to do with is creating an illusion of controlling premiums, which are never going to be controlled when you have a private, profit-motivated corporate sector selling auto insurance.

Let's reflect on the fact that the Insurance Corp of British Columbia, ICBC, one of the great legacies of the first New Democratic Party government in British Columbia, and a legacy never tampered with by even the most -- well, not the most right-wing governments this country has ever seen, because quite frankly the Harris Conservatives, the Harris Tories, outdo Bill Vander Zalm even in his wackiest moments. But the fact is that even subsequent governments in British Columbia, the Socreds among others, didn't dare tinker with ICBC, a public auto insurance system, the sort of insurance system that New Democrats believe in, that New Democrats across Canada have always advocated, that I insist is the only way we're ever going to achieve fairness for drivers and fairness, more importantly, for victims, both innocent victims and victims for whom there's not an at-fault driver or vehicle to point the finger at.

Mr Murdoch: I wonder why they didn't do that. Five years in government; five years and they never did.

Mr Kormos: Oh, Bill Murdoch here. Bill Murdoch, by God. Bill Murdoch is another fan of public auto insurance. I want the folks in Owen Sound to know that Bill Murdoch, sitting right here in this Legislature, is bemoaning the fact that the last government didn't introduce, for any number of reasons, public auto insurance. Bill Murdoch is bemoaning the fact that the last government, during the course of its term in office, didn't implement public auto.

Mr Murdoch: I wonder why?

Mr Kormos: I appreciate his concern about that. I think there's a whole lot of New Democrats, a lot of people in this caucus, who share that concern. The fact is, it's a fait accompli. The fact is that at the end of the day there was an effort to -- what do you want to call it? -- play ball with the industry? It didn't work out. No such thing as playing ball with the private, corporate sector auto insurance industry. Ask any victim. Let me tell you, not only are the tragic, sad victims of motor vehicle accidents victims of the insurance industry; premium-payers, drivers are victims of the insurance industry.

The Toronto Star, in its editorial --

Mr Murdoch: That's a good one to go by.

Mr Kormos: You see, the Tories don't like the Toronto Star because it's owned by neither Creighton, Godfrey et al or by Tubby Black. I suppose, if it were a Tubby Black periodical or some Barbara Amiel column, the Tories would be ecstatic. The only nice thing about Barbara Amiel's columns is that nobody ever really reads them. They're written in such sophomoric, turgid prose that nobody can ever get through one of those things without leaving for at least a coffee, if not a full dinner. Lord knows, there've been a lot of people who tried.

I have no concerns about Barbara Amiel and the sort of stuff she writes. She can keep on writing it because it gets published. Of course, it gets published because she knows the publisher, right? That's a pretty slick arrangement. She's ascended through marriage into an aristocracy that will suffer the same fate in Canada as did the French aristocracy in their revolution.

But here's the Toronto Star saying -- it could have been written anywhere, it could have been written by any intelligent, fair-minded person -- "If they're wrong," the Tories, "it ensures failure to stabilize rates," premiums. "We should get off the merry-go-round we've been on for 10 years and move to a system of public auto insurance."

You know what's going to happen, because we're going in rotation here and there's these little two-minute responses. Some dough-head's going to stand up and say things like, "Oh, ICBC is subsidized." Not true. Some dough-head's going to stand up and say, "Oh, ICBC has had bigger increases in Ontario." Not true. "Oh, ICBC hides its costs." Not true. ICBC not only provides full, comprehensive insurance coverage for all of its drivers with a full-tort right -- none of this deductible stuff that Bob Sampson and the industry want to impose on injured people so that the innocent victim is nickel-and-dimed. None of this stuff wherein they've got to jump through hoops to receive compensation. None of this stuff where -- look, one of the biggest crises we have in this province is uninsured vehicles. I listened with great interest to the so-called plan to address uninsured vehicles: bigger fines. Dumb as a bag of hammers, if you don't mind my saying so. By God, I haven't seen anything dumber in my life.

These guys -- by and large, that's what the caucus is -- these folks, these Tory people, these Tories are so out of touch with the real world. Look, it's not just scofflaws out there driving without insurance; it's senior citizens, it's working people, it's single mothers. They're not driving without insurance because they want to break the law, they're not driving without insurance because they want to play cat and mouse with the police force -- and Lord knows we haven't got much of a police force left across the province because of the defunding of municipal and regional police forces by this government. There are days in any number of divisions in Niagara -- seriously -- where there are but one or two police officers on duty in a whole district -- a bank robber's dream, a drunk driver's dream, a state of ecstasy for criminals. It's because of this government's defunding of policing.


I get back to the issue of people who drive without insurance. I appreciate there's from time to time more than a few people who genuinely have no regard for the law and simply want to play bad guy with the system. The fact is that most drivers out there without insurance are driving without insurance because they're hardworking, caring, reasonable, otherwise law-abiding people who simply can't afford the premiums. As I said, it's senior citizens, it's working people, it's young people, it's single mothers, notwithstanding what your pal -- I suppose he's not your pal; if you were the other Speaker I might say he was your pal -- Mr Palladini says about TTC.

The fact is that in most of Ontario a car is very much a daily part of your life in rural Ontario, in small-town Ontario where a car means getting to work, means getting to the supermarket, means taking the kids to school. People driving without insurance are people who can't afford the premiums.

They're going to impose higher fines on people who get caught driving without insurance. How does that address the issue of the unaffordability of insurance, Mr Sampson? Mr Sampson and the Conservatives at the end of the day find themselves -- this is an old line, but I can't resist it -- so deep in the back pockets of the insurance industry that they're spitting out lint. Mr Sampson and the Conservatives find themselves apologizing for an industry that has been gouging drivers for decades, an industry that insists it isn't making any money. They cry all the way to the bank. They cry all the way to the big Zurich tower down there on University Avenue. It's a lot of tin and glass. It's a lot of premium dollars that it takes to put up one of those babies. You can see the monuments to the attacks, to the victimization of drivers and innocent victims.

We've never needed a public auto insurance system more than we do now. I'm telling you, Speaker, this government tried -- no quarrel with the fact that it tried. It ended up endorsing a Liberal package that it is trying now to identify as its own, and it's a Liberal package that was created out of the hysteria of a response to a dumb comment by a Premier of the day who was in the heat of the final days of an election campaign and who was desperately trying to fend off the attack on that government over the crisis that they were participating in in auto insurance. The fact is that at the end of the day, I'm telling you, and you folks had better listen too -- one of the interesting things about the timing of this is, here you are, one year into your mandate.

I have no doubt that that greedy, voracious industry -- the private sector auto insurance industry. We've got nothing here about a bonus-malus system. We've got here the creation of an Ombudsman. What a pathetic joke. We already have an Ontario Insurance Commission, Mr Sampson, which hasn't been doing its job in any event. I wonder what Frank Sheehan -- he's part of that make-work team for Tory backbenchers, the Tory workfare, the one where they put Frank Sheehan and a bunch of backbenchers together and talk to them about red tape. All they did was recycle a bunch of old government announcements, but I suppose it beats finger-painting or colouring books. They put them in a back room and tell them to produce some sort of document and have some sort of puffed up, fluffed up press release, which didn't get a whole lot of attention in any event.

I wonder what Mr Francis X. Sheehan, Mr Anti-Red Tape, has to say about the creation of a so-called Ombudsman's office when we already have an Ontario Insurance Commission which is supposed to have a process for resolving disputes. I wonder what Francis X. Sheehan from down in Lincoln, Mr Anti-Red Tape, has to say about that. The fact is, at the end of the day, and we all know this, regulatory bodies as often as not tend to be co-opted by the industry that they purport to regulate. The insurance industry has once again had its way with innocent victims.

Once again I want to make it clear I support the restoration of tort for economic loss. I only wish that this government had had the integrity to fulfil the promises made by its previous incarnation as an opposition party to restore full tort and I only wish that it respected injured persons enough to maintain a level of no-fault benefits that were adequate to ensure that injured people receive some modest income replacement, medical rehab, long-term care.

I know they're going to respond, but I tell you this: If any one of these Tory insurance company hacks wants to get up and talk about public auto insurance, why do it in a mere two minutes? I will debate public auto insurance with any one of these Tory hacks any time, anywhere, in front of any audience here in the province of Ontario or beyond -- any time, anywhere, preferably in front of a TV camera, because, Lord knows, I wouldn't want their pathetic little defence of a pathetic, greedy, vicious industry to go unrecorded. So if these Tories want to stand up and defend the private corporate insurance sector and the injustices that it's imposed upon victims and drivers in this province, let's do 'er. Pick a venue, I'll be there.

You know what? I don't want to paraphrase Al Palladini, but I doubt if any of them would have the gonads to do it. I doubt if a single one of them has got the wherewithal to join me in that challenge. Now if we're going to do it, though, please let's do it before June 21, okay? If it's going to be televised I'd just as soon we do it during the course of next week, but I'll do it as readily after next weekend as before.

We've got to vote against this. The solution is a public auto insurance system, like British Columbia's, like Saskatchewan's, like Manitoba's. The public of Ontario doesn't believe the insurance industry any more. The public of Ontario doesn't believe these Tories any more, just like they won't believe any government that tries to prop up a private, corporate, profit-motivated insurance industry.

Ms Frances Lankin (Beaches-Woodbine): I truly wish that my colleague from Welland-Thorold wouldn't mince his words in that way. I actually appreciate the opportunity to respond to this bill. As the critic, I also wanted, though, to share the leadoff time with the member for Welland-Thorold, because I don't believe there is anyone in this Legislature who has as much knowledge and background and the history with this issue as the member for Welland-Thorold. I think it is useful for all of us to have had the opportunity to hear him set out the history of this issue in the province of Ontario, the failed attempts of various governments, including ours, to deal with the resulting problems facing drivers in this province with respect to the rates that they pay for their insurance premiums and accident victims with respect to access to adequate benefits and rehabilitation and restoration of economic loss.

I come at this issue from a different history than my colleague. My colleague has the benefit both of having been a legislator involved in this issue and also a legal background having been involved in this issue. My own perspective comes not from having been involved with auto insurance but with other forms of insurance systems, like, for example, the health care system in the province of Ontario, which essentially is a universal disability system, part of our medicare, our national system of delivery of benefits to individuals, in this case with respect to medical rehabilitation and treatment for injuries; and also in another area, that being the area of workers' compensation, which of course is a little bit more analogous because it deals with issues of restoration of economic loss, as well as issues of treatment for injury and benefits around pain and suffering.


One of the things that has always bedeviled me in the debate about auto insurance -- and we're back at it again here with the Tories' bill, as we were with the bill brought forward under the New Democrat government, as we were in the days of Bill 68 -- is the debate about the balance between tort and no-fault. I think the member makes an interesting point when he says it's not the levels but the issue of the balance between the two.

I myself, for a number of years, have always taken a position that is not as favourable towards tort, because I have seen over the past the way in which the legal profession and cases being ground through the court system have left individuals without access to the necessary treatment they need for the injuries they have, the necessary rehabilitation, until much longer down the road, at a point in time when perhaps it is not useful any more to them and not able to help restore their health. I've also seen individuals who have gone through these long-drawn-out processes when at the end there hasn't been that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and they haven't seen a restoration of the economic loss.

I've also seen situations, however, where the award they received at the end of the rainbow was extraordinary. For the ordinary citizen looking at it, it was very hard to understand how it was reasonable to see that kind of large award, given the circumstances that had been presented. It came about as a result of very effective advocates on their part, very effective legal representation, lawyers who argued precedents, who were establishing precedents and building on precedents. We actually saw a growing amount of litigation taking place as the awards from the court became more lucrative.

There is no doubt that this started to drive up the costs within the system as well. I have a problem with that. I don't know how you regulate that side of the tort system. Attempts have been made by all sorts of governments in terms of putting more reliance on no-fault, and that's one mechanism. I think the member for Welland-Thorold is quite right when he indicates that if you have a higher level of economic loss benefit attainable through the no-fault portion of your insurance, it would tend to mean that fewer people would attempt to go through the court system. But to me that's not the only answer there, because of course the other part of the tort system is suing not just for economic loss but for non-economic loss, which we all know is more commonly referred to in lay language as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. It's often been in those areas where the extraordinary awards have been made.

This government is attempting to put a limit on that, but the limit they've put on it is by introducing language into the legislation that says therefore the impairment or the injury, the disfigurement -- there are a number of different categories -- must be permanent and must be serious. I've heard from a number of people in the legal profession that it's going to take a very long time for us to know what those words mean. Once again we're going to have to go through the court system, we're going to have to test this language, we're going to have to build a body of case law and we're going to have to find out whether that is going to provide any kind of compensation to legitimate accident victims with respect to pain and suffering and loss of quality of life, or if it's an illusory, unattainable benefit that has been written into the legislation but in fact denied to people by virtue of the type of threshold that's been put in place.

If that were the case, I'd want to come back to, what are the alternatives for people? That takes you back to the no-fault benefits. Unfortunately, under this legislation, in order to strike the balance that the parliamentary assistant was attempting to strike to satisfy the insurance industry, who came forward during the hearings on the draft legislation and said, "Oh, no, there are still going to be 7%, 8%, 9% increases in rates," to satisfy them, to get them brought in line so we could sell this as a good package for good drivers out there in terms of their premium rates, to achieve that, he has put such limits on the no-fault side of the benefits available to drivers who are in accidents, who are injured in those accidents, that I worry very much about the lives of those individuals and their ability to become whole again after being in an accident; believing they have coverage in their insurance under this new product, but finding out at the end of the day that it's wholly inadequate; and being unable to access what is being held out as the alternative here, which is the tort system, unable to access that because of the nature of the very serious thresholds that have been put in place, the words "permanent and serious" and how that is going to be interpreted by the courts.

In a sense, I understand the dilemma that was facing the parliamentary assistant and the government. I understand it well. I went through these debates in our government and learned more than I wanted to know about the auto insurance industry and the government's role in regulating this product. But in attempting to deal with those problems, I think the government has essentially presented the public of Ontario with the worst of both worlds: the worst of the tort world and the worst of the no-fault world in terms of caps on the benefits, the lower benefits that will be available.

I should mention that you can of course get insurance coverage for higher benefits on the no-fault side if you pay for them, if you pay additional premiums, but then it's a little bit illusory to say you're actually getting a break in your premiums, right? I know what it is. This government says it every day: "We're doing more with less." In this case --

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): They're actually doing less.

Ms Lankin: That's right. They're doing less with less. In this case, if you get a decrease in your premium, it's because you've got less of a benefit coming back, less of a product. If you want more of a product, you're going to pay more and you're right back to where you began. If you don't get the benefit you think you need once you've had an accident, you can go to court, but the limits and the thresholds on your access to court are so significant that it's going to be a very long time before we understand who will be able to pass those legal thresholds and be able to attain any kind of compensation or award through the court system. I think it is the worst of all worlds.

There are some elements in the bill that I think are useful and helpful: some of the things that deal with accreditation around the designated assessment centres, some of the aspects that start down the road of treatment plans, but I would say we need to be cautious there; there are many injuries in which treatment plans can't be identified right from the beginning and there has to be flexibility in that. I think the rate of fee schedules is useful. I think the conflict of interest is useful.

I'm actually being quite complimentary on a number of those initiatives, but they came out of a report of the long-term care and disability task force that was under the purview of a previous minister, Brian Charlton, and these were changes that were going to be made to the Bill 164 world, the NDP legislation. I'm pleased to see they've been built into this legislation. I think those are useful, necessary changes. Those were the evolutionary changes that we said at the time we brought in Bill 164 would have to be addressed, and I think that's useful.

But as a layperson, let's say, outside of the world of the auto insurance industry, I come back to this dilemma we seem to be faced with all the time in terms of the debate about how hard you go on tort side or how hard you go on the no-fault side. We've had several permutations of this now. My colleague from Welland-Thorold is quite right when he says this bill actually takes us back closer to the Liberal bill, Bill 68, that was in place. No wonder. He referred to George Cooke, who was I think one of the major authors of the Liberal plan at that time, and of course now, as a member of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a major lobby group on behalf of the industry, was very influential with respect to this Tory government's legislation. We see many of those elements coming creeping back in.

We know the industry certainly liked that plan better, but I can tell you, accident victims didn't like that plan better. Accident victims who came forward and testified at various hearings during the time we were in government and even who came forward under the draft legislation brought forward by Mr Sampson, the parliamentary assistant for the Tory government who had carriage of this legislation, told us how much they disliked those regimes because their benefits were capped and they had insurance industry representatives acting in a very capricious way to cut off their benefits, to deny them access to the rehabilitation and the treatment they needed to restore their health.


We've gone around several circles on this, and the product changes a little bit here, a little bit there. It seems the industry always gets what it wants. When they don't get what they want, like under Bill 164, under the NDP legislation, they'll howl and they'll push the rates up or threaten to push the rates up. Then, when they get something they want from government, they'll promise to bring the rates down, but -- you watch -- they rarely do come down.

We've heard, in response to this legislation when it was introduced, from the insurance industry that rates for "good drivers" -- let me repeat that, "good drivers" -- may well decrease by 3% or 4% once this legislation becomes law. Actually, that's interesting. I wonder how many people here in this Legislature or how many people at home view themselves as good drivers. I think of myself as a good driver. You probably think of yourself as a good driver. I know that a lot of people think of themselves as good drivers.

Mr Derwyn Shea (High Park-Swansea): Right here, Frances.

Ms Lankin: We've got lots of people with their hands up. Do you know that when we went through the hearings on the draft legislation we asked Mr Sampson, but we also asked the industry -- I think it was more appropriate to hold the industry accountable for a definition for "good driver" -- what a good driver is? They really didn't have an answer. Each insurance company has a different standard, and the Insurance Bureau --

Mr Sampson: We got an answer from the Insurance Bureau.

Ms Lankin: Mr Sampson said we got an answer from the Insurance Bureau. Their answer was basically that each insurance company has its own way of determining that.

I guess the challenge back to me was, "If you believe in the basic premise that someone who is a better driver should have a lower rate." -- sure, but what's the threshold? Do you know that if you have any kind of traffic infraction, a speeding ticket -- I admit I have had a speeding ticket -- well, you're not a good driver. You are at risk. You are a high-risk driver. It's quite extraordinary.

I listened to a woman who had called in to a phone show about this legislation, who related a story that about two years ago she had had a minor accident and she was "at fault." She actually admits that. It was a minor fender bender, but it was one that she claims she is responsible for, although it was really like an accident, and that's the only accident she's ever had. She's had a 25-year driving record. Do you know that now, because that happened in the last two years, she is no longer a good driver? They don't average back over 25 years of your driving record. Because in the last two years she had that minor accident in which she was more at fault than the other person, she got pushed into Facility Association.

Mr Sampson referred to Facility Association as the high-risk pool the industry has created. There is incredible abuse in terms of what people are put in there. He has brought forward a rule, which he has asked them to comply with, around whether you've had a lapse in your insurance 12 months of the last 24. That's a minor example of people who get pushed into Facility Association. It's useful -- I don't dispute it -- but that's not the big problem here.

The problem is how the industry determines who's a good driver, and so everyone out there who feels -- excuse me. This coughing is becoming a habit.

Mr Wildman: Do you see what your legislation has done to her?

Mr Sampson: No, it's what yours has done to her. She's choked up trying to bail you guys out.

Ms Lankin: I appreciate the comic relief, folks, while I'm choking here.

The definition of a good driver is one that has not been set out in the legislation or has not been set out clearly by the industry, and all the people in the public who responded to the government's announcement around this legislation, believing that they were going to get a decreased rate because they're good drivers, are probably going to be in for a significant surprise. Any kind of problem they may have had in their driving record probably over the last five or six years is going to disqualify them from being considered a good driver.

I think that the promise of a reduction in rates is one that most people won't see. We'll see. With time we'll understand what the truth of that is and we'll understand whether or not the government has delivered on its promise for a product in which we see rate stability and in which we see good drivers receiving a reduction in their rates.

What it comes down to, though, is, what have we learned from all these different attempts by various governments to fiddle around with the product, to have a little bit higher benefits on the no-fault side or a bit freer access to tort or tightening up tort or tightening up caps on how much can be attained in terms of benefits on the medical rehab side -- all the various elements of the product?

I guess what we've learned is that the industry is in total control of this. We don't have clear disclosure about the cost inputs in that industry and how it relates, through their actuarial assumptions, to the premiums. We see premiums that seem to continue to go up no matter what government does. We've seen four products in this province in the last five or six years. You may not realize that, but if you had an accident in 1988, you probably had a different level of benefits than if your accident was in 1993, and you'll have a different level of benefits there than if your accident is at the end of 1996, depending on when this legislation is passed. There is constant confusion and change and transition costs built in in the industry as the product has changed. No one, no government -- no Tory government, no Liberal government and no NDP government -- has finally solved this issue of how to control insurance rates.

The question should perhaps be, why is it a role of government? Why should government be involved in this business? Very clearly, government has a role in this because we insist that people have automobile insurance in order to legally drive in this province, that they be covered and that they have their own costs covered as well as the costs of someone else who might be involved in an accident with them if the driver, the first person, is at fault; and second, because driving is such a necessary part of our life, to be able to get to work, to be able to get to leisure activities, to be able to tend to family matters, to be able to get to necessary health appointments, particularly in so many communities that don't have well-developed and accessible public transit. In so many rural and northern communities, driving is not just a necessity of life, it is a major activity of life because of the distances between places people must get to to continue the basic activities of life.

That brings me to draw a conclusion that really the only way to control this is if you have full disclosure, if you have an end to the multiplicity of administrative costs and all the different insurance agencies, if you have -- and I'm coming to what is the fundamental policy and principle of the New Democratic Party -- a publicly administered, publicly owned auto insurance industry.

I know the members opposite take great glee whenever one of us raises this point, because while we started down that road when we were in government, we didn't complete it; we changed our mind and decided to go to the Bill 164 product. We changed our mind at that time for a couple of reasons. First of all, we were in the middle of a very deep recession, and at that time, the amalgamation of all the insurance head offices into the one public auto insurance system would have caused the loss of some 6,000 jobs in clerical work, largely female, lower-paid, non-unionized in most cases. That's a very difficult price to ask those people to pay when there weren't alternative jobs for them to go to, when the economy wasn't growing. There were also transition costs that involved taking large industries out of business, and others, which made it appear to us to be difficult in the short run to implement and deliver the savings to people.

We wrestled with that, we really did. There is a significant body of opinion in our old caucus and cabinet, but most certainly in our party, that we made a wrong decision in retrospect, that we should have proceeded at that time. I supported the decision at that point in time, but even I have reflected on that and wonder, was it the wisest? Perhaps it was the political reality of the day, and we'll accept it on that basis.


But it seems to me that we see yet again, with this next attempt by yet another government to jig the pieces and come up with another balance of the elements of the product, that once again there is no promise it is going to deliver lower rates for the driving public or rate stability even; a product in which the industry still has full control; in which accident victims' benefits are being capped and are being cut back; in which there is nothing to protect the accident victims like the people who came before the hearings on the draft legislation and told us one after another after another how badly they had been treated by the industry in terms of access to medical rehab, in terms of the way they'd been cut off those benefits and how they were still living in pain and how it had destroyed their lives in many ways.

There's nothing in the legislation, but that's what we see: yet another government that's jigged the pieces around, not solved the basic problem of premium rate stability, not solved the problem of accident victims who are not getting access to needed benefits, treatment and rehabilitation because of the industry's capricious nature and the way they cut them off.

You have to wonder, isn't the alternative obvious? Doesn't it lead you down the road to saying, at some point some government is just going to have to bite the bullet and do this and take this over and take us back to public auto insurance?

I wish I had a chance to go back to that discussion when we were in government. I would have liked to have had the wisdom of the experience of Bill 164, having gone through that whole process and now most certainly seeing this government rejig the pieces and going back again towards the Liberal Bill 68 model with a few variations. I wish I could have had that information and that knowledge in that earlier discussion. It might have helped me be more resolved to continue down the road of the implementation of public auto at that time.

I can tell you that conditions have changed. The auto insurance industry itself has gone through tremendous downsizing and streamlining. You know what? Most of those 6,000 clerical workers whom we, as New Democrats, wanted to protect in terms of their employment, most of them are gone already. Technology changes, streamlining, downsizing: They're out the door anyway.

The insurance industry that lobbied our government, putting forward those women as the props in front of them -- and that's how they were used by the insurance industry, who said: "How could you do that to these women, you New Democrats who care about working women, about low-paid women in clerical job ghettoes, who are non-unionized? How could you put them out of work?"

We listened and we responded on that point, and do you know what they did? They turned around and put them out of work anyway. That's what the insurance industry did. We bought them a couple years more employment. I'm glad we did that, because as the economy got a bit better in 1994, perhaps there were some other alternatives for them.

But we learned a really valuable lesson. I think the task for us as New Democrats now is to sit down and to look at how, given the kind of legislation we see this government bringing in, we could build an implementation plan to bring us back to implementing public auto in this province.

I believe that profoundly. I think that's a real challenge for our party. Obviously, credibility will be an issue, because we didn't proceed with it when we were in government, but there were reasons for it at that time. Politically, looking back, it was probably a very serious political mistake we made as a party, but I think the reasons in terms of good government were important at that time.

But as the landscapes change and as we see yet again another government bring forward another mix of product, which is not going to deal with the basic issue, will not control the industry, will not control premium rates and is not offering the same level of benefits to accident victims as we saw under Bill 164 and does nothing to solve the problem of those accident victims who require medical rehabilitation who are being cut off that by the actions of the insurance industry, we will see an outcry begin once again.

Don't forget that consumers have power. You know that as Tories. You always talk about the market and, "Let the market drive things." Consumers have power and consumers can drive decisions with their purchasing power and with their anger. The one thing you've got to recognize is that virtually every adult in the province of Ontario is a consumer of auto insurance; not everyone but virtually everyone. That's a big public. As a legislator you might relate to it in other terms: the electorate, the voters. Virtually all voters carry an insurance slip in their pocket.

If your plan doesn't work, and I don't think it will -- I don't think it'll deliver the things you have -- as they were angry under previous Tory governments, which led to Bill 68, as they were angry about Bill 68, which led to Bill 164 -- we didn't have time for them to get angry about Bill 164, but they probably would have as well, which has led to the legislation we see introduced today -- as we see ourselves go around the legislative debate and the history of repeating past mistakes of past governments over and over again and the anger grows, the inevitable response will have to be to move to public auto insurance.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party, which has long had a policy of support for public auto insurance, which believes in that principle, which never abandoned the belief in that principle -- while we decided not to proceed with it within government but still believe that is the right way to go -- we will begin the work now to have the plan ready to put in place when we have the opportunity and when the public responds to the failure of this plan to fix the basic problems again, as it most assuredly will, as Bill 164 under the New Democrats did, as Bill 68 under the Liberals did and as the original plans under the previous Tory governments did.

Never doubt the power of the consumer, the auto insurance purchaser, the voter, all one and the same with respect to this issue. At the end of the day, I think the voters will have had enough of all of us and our tinkering with the plans and that they will insist on a government to take hold of the reins, take responsibility and move the system to public auto insurance. I hope I'm still a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on that day to see it through.

The Acting Speaker Mr Gilles E. Morin): Questions or comments?

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I know that we are to comment on the presentation by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, and I congratulate her for her presentation. I don't agree with her, but I think her delivery was well done and I take this opportunity to wish her success next week when she runs for leader of the New Democratic Party in Ontario.

The person I really want to congratulate is the member for Mississauga West, who has spent his initiating months in this place doing a tremendous amount of foot soldier work on the whole subject of automobile insurance in this province. I'm grateful for his work and his review of the subject and also the draft legislation that some of us were privileged to hear the public respond to during our committee hearings, an opportunity for which I was personally grateful because I too, like the member for Mississauga West, learned a great deal about automobile insurance in this province and the problems associated with it.

I tell the member for Beaches-Woodbine that I have been accident-free probably 30 years, but I'm ticket-free for at least 10 or 12 years. In spite of that, my own automobile insurance rates went up 48% under your government's Bill 164. When I'm driving a nine-year-old car, I don't look forward to going from $800 a year to $1,100 a year when I'm an absolutely perfect driver, so I look forward to this being the solution.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I too found the speeches of the two representatives of the New Democratic Party very interesting. I won't endorse any of the candidates, for fear of jeopardizing their chances next week.

I want to say in my two minutes that I don't know if you're going to solve this problem. Auto insurance has been a very difficult problem. I wish you well. I really wish you well. There's a little bit of benefit in those of us in opposition wishing you well. If by some fate the electorate decided to choose one of the other parties and you don't do well, we'll have to address this issue again. I can assure members of the government this is not an easy issue, as the member for Mississauga West will know.

The problem is premiums. You get arguing with people; when it comes down to it, people are annoyed, as the member for Mississauga South has been, with a substantial increase in premiums without any apparent reason for that increase in premiums. Many people have faced that.

The second problem is how easy it is for people to get thrown into what's called the Facility, or that one organization where you pay a huge premium because you have a couple of tickets or there's a minor accident or something. It's really, I'm told by people who've called my office, easy to get into that Facility, which means that the insurance companies are simply dumping you off into something else, which makes it difficult for you.

Obviously, we have to address safety. If you look at the latest comments about truck safety on the roads that the Ontario Provincial Police are worried about, we really have to address that problem of safety because that's where some of the accidents are arising.

There are going to be people who will drive without insurance if the premiums go too high. I know there are penalties for that, but that is going to happen. So what I want to say is that I wish you well. I doubt that the premiums are going to stay down, but I hope this plan works for the sake of all the people of this province.

Mr Wildman: I want to join the debate and express my congratulations to my colleagues from Beaches-Woodbine and Welland-Thorold for their presentations. I frankly endorse the comments of my friend from St Catharines in which he said that governments in the future are going to have to address this issue. We have indeed, as the member for Welland-Thorold said, come almost full circle with the introduction of this legislation. Governments of all three parties have attempted to deal with this and all of us must recognize how difficult this is when you're dealing with something that is essential to be able to drive in this province and something that causes so much consternation when a driver cannot receive it or is denied it by the insurance industry, or is, as the member for St Catharines said, dumped off into Facility.

I will not endorse either of the candidates for the leadership of my party who have spoken in this debate. I have taken the position, as all members know, that I am not going to be endorsing any one of the four excellent candidates who are standing for the leadership of my party. However, I want to say that the two presentations made here today are an indication that this party is prepared to face up to the difficulties that a difficult issue like this presents to all of us as legislators and that we will be dealing with this issue, I'm sure, when whichever one of the four leadership contenders has the opportunity to serve as Premier of this province.

Mr Murdoch: First, I'd like to just congratulate Mr Sampson for bringing this in. He did a great presentation, plus he's taken the opportunity to try to solve this problem, which, as has been mentioned by other members, all three parties have tried to do.

I won't endorse either of the two candidates either. I will wish them all the best of luck on the other side a couple of weeks from now when they have a chance to become leader, and we'll look forward to whichever one turns out to be leader coming back here and leading the party, although the present leader they have now has been doing a good job, I must say, and I think we've been blessed to have Mr Wildman to lead your party. He's done a good job on that and I want to congratulate him also.

Getting back to insurance and to the bill that we had Mr Kormos talk about, I was concerned that he did go on and on about this bill and complained and wanted to have government-run insurance. Boy, I'd be the last person to ever say we want government to run anything. Some of the things that government in the past and probably in the future will run --

Mr Wildman: Particularly your government.

Mr Murdoch: I wouldn't even want our government running it, I'll tell you that right now, but any of the governments. He mentioned this, but he had five years to bring it in and he didn't do it. I wish he were here right now to say something. I'm really concerned that he would stand here and berate our people for trying to do something and he didn't do it. I think they missed the boat there because I don't really believe they'll have a chance to do this again, and that's the way things happen. They had a chance to do that and didn't do it, and we certainly wouldn't want government-run insurance.

I believe too that the insurance companies will not be there on the 22nd, the way they were berated by the NDP, but that's unfortunate because I think insurance companies try to do a good job.

The Acting Speaker: Your time has expired. The member for Beaches-Woodbine, you have two minutes to reply.

Ms Lankin: I appreciate the participation of other members. I say to the member for Grey-Owen Sound that I wish the member for Welland-Thorold were here. He's in his office right now watching the rest of this, and I'm sure he had a heart attack when you said that. Let me say in defence of the member for Welland-Thorold that he can hardly be blamed for the previous government's decision not to proceed with auto insurance. He remained a fierce advocate of auto insurance throughout that and certainly was consistent on that point.

I think I addressed very clearly, as a member of caucus and government, some of the reasons behind the decision not to proceed at that point in time, but gave a clear indication of our ongoing commitment to that principle and how I believe it will become an issue yet again. As you indicated, Mr Sampson is a parliamentary assistant on behalf of the government attempting to fix problems that have been attempted to be fixed before. While I always wish him good luck and good wishes, I think he will be no more successful than previous governments have been because the basic fault is with the structure of the industry, that it is a private sector, closed industry, profit-oriented, and that is not consistent with delivery of health benefits, of medical rehab benefits, of income loss benefits in a way that is going to keep rates stable. It just comes right back to the very basic principle the New Democrats have always argued for, which is to move to public auto.

I appreciate that the member for St Catharines did not endorse any of the candidates. I don't think any one of us would have appreciated having a seal of approval from one of our Liberal colleagues. I point out that the member for Mississauga South only wished me good luck; it wasn't an endorsement, and she truly indicates good luck to all the other candidates as well. I congratulate her for her declaration here in the House today of being a perfect driver. Congratulations.

The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Jim Flaherty (Durham Centre): I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak in the debate on second reading of Bill 59, dealing with automobile insurance in the province of Ontario, a subject with which I have some familiarity. I compliment my colleague the member for Mississauga West for his months of hard work on this issue. As has been said by the members opposite this afternoon, it is a difficult area. It is an area that takes some time to understand, not only in the theory of tort and no-fault and property damage and comprehensive coverage and that type of theoretical insurance issue dealing with compensation, but also in the dispute resolution and practice areas. That is, one can design a system that looks good on paper, as some thought Bill 68 did, as some thought Bill 164 did, and yet when the legislation is put into practice it doesn't work very well.

The context of automobile insurance history in Ontario is this: We have had no-fault automobile insurance in Ontario since 1972. It was made mandatory at that time, at a lower level, of course, than today. In 1987 the then Premier, Mr Peterson, made a statement that he had a plan to reform automobile insurance. At that time we had a primarily tort system with a small no-fault component.

To explain those terms, the tort system is designed to compensate persons who are injured through no fault of their own or through the partial fault of their own. It is the good-neighbour theory. It is the theory that if you injure your neighbour through your own fault, you owe that person compensation, you have the duty to make them whole. It is a duty that our law has honoured for well over 100 years in the common law and in our statutes. It makes sense. It abides with the concept that most persons have of their duty, one to another, in our society.

There was some slowness in that system. There was some need for immediate compensation, for immediate funds for persons who are injured, who are victims in motor vehicle accidents; whence the development in the United States, and subsequently here, of some degree of no-fault benefit, now referred to as statutory accident benefits in Ontario. The difficulty has been to achieve an appropriate balance, not between the public sector and the private sector, which is much talked about on the other side, which most people in Ontario quite frankly don't care about. They certainly don't talk to me about it. What they talk to me about is, do they get adequate, prompt compensation when they're injured through no fault of their own, or even through some fault of their own, in motor vehicle accidents?

The major issue then is a balance between the level of premiums in Ontario and the degree of compensation. I compliment the member for Mississauga West, after much hard work and much consultation, in my view, having achieved the best balance possible, given the two systems available for the people of the province of Ontario.

Bill 68 was the bill that was introduced by Mr Peterson's government and which became law in Ontario in June 1990. That law was defective in a very important area; that is, if an innocent person was injured in a motor vehicle accident and if they did not cross the artificial verbal threshold created by the Liberal government of the day, then they were not entitled to any compensation in tort. This applied even to the situation where a pedestrian might be crossing the street and be struck by a drunk driver and have serious fractures of the leg -- let's say a comminuted fracture of the femur of the upper leg -- and yet not be deemed to have sustained a serious and permanent injury. That person would not even be entitled under that legislation to be compensated for their loss of income, over and above the no-fault benefits paid to that victim.

That offended common sense, it offended anyone's sense of fairness, of appropriate compensation, of restoring the person to the level of earnings, restoring them for the financial loss that they suffered as a result of the motor vehicle accident. That very serious defect has been remedied by the work done creating Bill 59. In Bill 59 there is a verbal threshold, but the verbal threshold does not apply to economic loss in the nature of loss of income, so the injured person can rest assured, under our government's legislation, that they will be made whole with respect to loss of income, that they'll be entitled to recover their full loss of income in the tort system.

The Acting Speaker: It being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until Monday at 1:30 of the clock.

The House adjourned at 1803.