Official Records for 1 June 1981

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STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY

CONSOLIDATED HEARINGS BILL

ONTARIO WASTE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION BILL

VANCOUVER TRANSIT CONTRACT

ORAL QUESTIONS

TAX INCREASES

SOUTH CAYUGA WASTE MANAGEMENT SITE

INTEREST RATES

HOUSING CONTRACTS

TAX INCREASES

OHIP PREMIUMS

ABORTIONS

BRUCE HYDRO LINE

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

TORONTO ISLAND HOMES

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

CONSOLIDATED HEARINGS ACT

ONTARIO WASTE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION ACT

MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT

ORDERS OF THE DAY

OHIP PREMIUMS


The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY

CONSOLIDATED HEARINGS BILL

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as the members of the Legislature will be aware, the government announced last year that we would begin application of the Environmental Assessment Act to significant municipal projects.

Mr. Smith: I do not have a copy of the statement.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Does the Leader of the Opposition not have a copy? I think they are in the hands of the pages at the moment. I am sorry; I thought they had already been distributed.

One of the main concerns raised by the municipalities during consultations before that decision was that municipal projects were already subject to various planning and approval processes which could require public hearings, the most common being the requirements of the Planning Act and the Ontario Municipal Board Act. If we are to place municipal projects under the act, they asked that the government take steps to avoid the possibility of repetitive, expensive, complex and time-consuming approval procedures.

It has been this government’s aim to improve services to the public by streamlining and simplifying these kinds of procedures. In view of this and in keeping with our commitment to them, I am pleased to be introducing, later today, the Consolidated Hearings Act for first reading.

This bill provides a streamlined approval process for municipal, private and provincial projects or proposed activities which may otherwise require hearings by more than one tribunal. The basic intent is to simplify the processes which provide for public participation without sacrificing the quality of the work required by the proponents and by parties to the hearings. The rights of both proponents and individual citizens remain fully protected in this bill.

The agencies that conduct hearings covered by this bill include the Ontario Municipal Board, the Environmental Assessment Board, the land division committees, committees of adjustment, inquiry officers under the Expropriations Act and hearing officers under the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act.

It will be the possibility of multiple hearings that will bring this bill into play. Under it, consolidated hearings, where required, will be conducted by one or more members of the Ontario Municipal Board, the Environmental Assessment Board or members of both, as chosen by the chairmen of the two boards in consultation with each other. This will eliminate any need to create a new permanent board to hold the joint hearings. Some administrative staff, however, including a hearings registrar, will be required.

The decisions of this joint board will replace the decisions that would have been made by other boards. In a case where those other boards would only make recommendations to a government official for decision, the joint board can make that decision itself. Examples are decisions made by a director or myself after a hearing under the Ontario Water Resources Act or the Environmental Protection Act.

Under the bill, the joint board has the power to deal with all the factors of any given matter, or it may defer specific issues or technical details to another party for consideration at a later date. In the case of the Ministry of the Environment, for example, those details could be referred to the director for environmental approval.

The requirements for detailed planning and the provisions for allowing public access to the decision-making process provided in existing legislation must be preserved. But at the same time the government recognizes that proponents and citizen groups should not be expected to spend inordinate amounts of time and money involved in excessively long and complicated procedures. Such a situation only serves to frustrate the rights of all parties and unnecessarily delay what can be legitimately needed projects.

In this bill, I feel we have managed to develop procedures that will allow for prompt approval and yet maintain the rights of all parties to the hearings.

ONTARIO WASTE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION BILL

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, in introducing the Ontario Waste Management Corporation Act, 1981, for first reading in the Legislature later today, I wish to make some brief comments to the honourable members on the purpose and significance of this legislation.

The bill provides for a statutory crown corporation with powers to provide, develop and manage facilities for the treatment and disposal of liquid and hazardous wastes generated by industry. These facilities are urgently needed in Ontario, as we are all aware. The management and business of the Ontario Waste Management Corporation, established last January under the Business Corporations Act, will be transferred to the new crown corporation.

This corporation will, as its first responsibility, prepare for public hearings before a special panel on the main facilities proposed for South Cayuga in the town of Haldimand. These hearings will provide a full public review of the suitability and safety of the site and the appropriateness and safety of each treatment facility to be developed by the corporation.

The bill will authorize the hearing panel to subpoena and place witnesses under oath so that the best and most complete information can be gathered and presented in the public hearings to ensure the best possible decision.

In this legislation, the corporation is given wide scope and powers to plan, develop and operate treatment and disposal facilities for liquid and hazardous wastes. These powers include a mandate to encourage recycling and reduction of these wastes at their industrial sources. In fact, one of the basic policies set out for the corporation is that it must protect the environment and reduce the volume of waste by encouraging reduction at source by recycling. This policy is to be followed even if it adversely affects revenue. However, the corporation is intended to pay its way. The industrial generators of waste are expected to pay the cost of treatment and disposal.

2:10 p.m.

While the corporation must abide by any hearing panel recommendation that may reject the South Cayuga site, it is not bound by a panel recommendation that approves that site. Given site approval, the corporation may proceed with development or reject the site. However, if they do reject the location, then they will bear the responsibility for finding and developing another site on which to operate the required facilities.

The bill provides, in this and other ways, maximum safeguards to ensure that the industrial waste management facilities required by this province are developed with complete regard for public health and environmental safety.

I am sure I do not have to elaborate for the honourable members on the need to develop these facilities. There is a significant amount of industrial waste now being treated by the private sector in an environmentally safe manner. Some is going into storage or to facilities in the United States for as long as the border remains open. But we must keep in mind that much of it is going untreated into landfill sites.

This situation can only be changed by the establishment of treatment facilities. This legislation is intended to assist in that goal and to provide the safest and most effective answer to our waste management needs.

VANCOUVER TRANSIT CONTRACT

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, on Friday morning, May 29, the Premier (Mr. Davis) and I had the very great pleasure and honour of helping officiate in Vancouver at the signing of the contract for the design and construction of the new advanced light rapid transit system for greater Vancouver.

This contract will be worth approximately $650 million by 1986, when the 22-kilometre line is finished and in full service. The parties to the contract are the Urban Transit Authority of British Columbia, a crown corporation of the government of British Columbia, and Metro Canada Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Urban Transportation Development Corporation, a commercial enterprise that was created and is funded and owned by the government of Ontario.

Today is our first opportunity to table in this House copies of this contract, and I am doing so this afternoon. The tabling is in the spirit of the commitment the Premier gave in this House last December 8, when this matter first arose. At that time, the Premier also gave a commitment that the performance bond associated with this contract would be tabled in this House. The contract document provides a period of 30 days within which the performance bond is to be finalized. As soon as that is done, I will table the copies of the performance bond. in addition, I am tabling copies of a memorandum of agreement entered into by the Premiers of Ontario and British Columbia on behalf of their governments. It provides for a sharing of industrial benefits arising out of this contract for greater Vancouver’s world-class rapid transit service. An agreement of industrial benefits is to be entered into by the Urban Transportation Development Corporation and British Columbia’s Minister of Industry and Small Business Development.

I am also tabling copies of a précis of the documents which, in total, comprise the ALRT system contract for greater Vancouver. Furthermore, I am tabling copies of the news release issued on Friday by the Urban Transit Authority of British Columbia.

For the information of the honourable members, I wish to share with the House a telegram received this week by both the Urban Transit Authority of British Columbia and UTDC. It reads as follows:

“On behalf of the executive and the members of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, may I extend our best wishes to the UTA, UTDC and GVRD on signing this important contract. This fine example of co-operation between all levels of government will no doubt result in an excellent transit service for the residents of Vancouver and will significantly stimulate the Canadian transit manufacturing industry.”

It is signed by Al Cormier, executive director of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

ORAL QUESTIONS

TAX INCREASES

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that Premier Lougheed has now turned down the taps on oil a little more, causing all of us in Canada to have to pay more because of the higher proportion of imports, did it bother the Treasurer at all when he woke up this morning and realized that, as Mr. Lougheed turned down the taps, Ontario was now going to gain at the expense of Ontario’s citizens by profiteering on Mr. Lougheed’s decision to the tune of $13.4 million annually in additional taxes, because of the Treasurer’s new ad valorem tax?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, to begin with, I am pleased the Leader of the Opposition recognizes I did wake up this morning. There have been many days he has not even gone that far in his questions to me.

Of course I am concerned, but we made a conscious decision. With the inflationary era on us and the growing needs for revenue from a number of sources, we have chosen the ad valorem route as have all other provinces except Nova Scotia. I would like to think the increase we heard might go into effect today was of a short-term nature, because I heard at the same time that on June 10 Messrs. Lalonde and, I assume, Leitch of Alberta will be discussing in great detail the final solution to that problem. It is a negotiating stance taken by Alberta to hasten the solution of a final agreement between Ottawa and Alberta. I am sure all of us here will be delighted to see a proper solution at the political level.

Mr. Smith: Speaking of the ad valorem tax, in medicine we also used to turn to Latin whenever we did not want the people to understand what we were talking about. Speaking of --

Hon. Mr. Davis: You still do that.

Mr. Smith: No. Now I can succeed in having them not understand me even when I speak in English; so I have managed to solve that problem.

Speaking again of the ad valorem tax, does the Treasurer not recognize that this iniquitous tax now has made it morally indefensible for him to be claiming on the one hand to be against the actions of Peter Lougheed, while on the other hand his government coolly pockets $13.4 million on an annualized basis every single time Mr. Lougheed either raises the price or turns down the taps? Has he not given up total moral authority in this regard?

Hon. F. S. Miller: In rejoinder, I say mea non culpa. I had four years of Latin, but that is about all I remember.

I do not know what kind of idea is in the Leader of the Opposition’s head when he assumes a government pockets revenue indiscriminately from the people from whom it raises it. The fact is that I still have -- and he criticizes me very often for having it -- a cash requirement of $997 million this year. We will be using every cent from all available tax sources for the benefit of the citizens of Ontario. Should those tax sources increase, we will find we are able to reduce others.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Are we to take it that the advice of Ontario to the federal government in the forthcoming negotiations with Alberta will be that Ottawa can agree to any increase from Alberta, because now Ontario stands to benefit from the increases in the price of gasoline?

Hon. F. S. Miller: That is a bit preposterous, Mr. Speaker. I pointed out the order of magnitude. Ontario, by next year, will be spending about $12 billion for energy in the form of petroleum and gas. Our total revenues from the gasoline taxes -- this is only on distilled products for transportation purposes -- will be far less than $1 billion.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the Treasurer explain how he could walk out of this House and tell the Globe and Mail that the ad valorem tax is not inflationary, yet come in here now and say we are in an “inflationary era” and he is attempting to profit therefrom? His own officials admit it is inflationary.

How can one who espouses fiscal discipline and integrity conscientiously profit from this very inflationary tax and a number of other externally imposed increases that are going to swell government coffers at the expense of the taxpayers? How can he possibly do that?

2:20 p.m.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, this gentleman attacks me day after day on the basis of my cash requirements. I cannot be swelling coffers and still have a cash requirement. I assure the honourable member that the difference in the gross take affected by that ad valorem tax is in no way doing that, and the member knows it.

SOUTH CAYUGA WASTE MANAGEMENT SITE

Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I will ask a question of the Minister of the Environment related to the statement he just made concerning the matter of South Cayuga and the Ontario Waste Management Corporation. It appears the first preliminary meeting of the folks down there with the hearing officer turned into something of a shambles inasmuch as the officer did not know the answers to the questions being asked.

Since it would appear from the information given there that the time line for hearings will be such that the public hearings will not start until the spring of 1982, a year and a half after the then Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) announced that, because of a time constraint, there could not be proper hearings under the Environmental Assessment Act, can the minister explain why it is necessary to go through this preposterous farce and take all this time to get the hearings going when, if this were to be the time line, they could easily have been held under the Environmental Assessment Act itself?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the purpose of the initial meeting to which the honourable member refers was for the hearing panel to consult with local residents to develop some guidelines for the hearings that would follow. The intention was not necessarily to answer all questions. In fact, the purpose of the hearing was to define some of the questions they would want answered, for example, with respect to procedure.

There is no question the hearing panel will be able to subpoena witnesses and swear them under oath. There is no question it will, if it chooses, have authority to permit cross-examination. But as I understand it, one of the purposes of that hearing was to learn from the residents what their concerns were and the kind of input they would like to make in terms of establishing those guidelines for subsequent hearings.

I would indicate that, from what I heard from one of the parties present at the meeting, the description in the media exaggerated the circumstances at the meeting considerably, and in fact some of the answers given by individuals there resulted in only partial quotations in the stories, leading to the impression that the answer was left hanging in the air.

I think that time and perhaps further consultation will sort out that confusion. I think a significant amount of the confusion was in the press as opposed to at the meeting.

In terms of the time frame, the news report I saw quoted the solicitor for some of the residents in the area as saying the time frame was as the Leader of the Opposition described it. That is clearly not the time frame within which we are working.

I expect the public hearings to begin in the relatively near future as soon as the panel is able to establish procedures acceptable to residents and the panel, and as soon as the corporation has completed its groundwork and is ready to go before the hearing panel to present its case.

Mr. Smith: The corporation apparently will not be able to submit its full proposal to the panel until it receives the hydrological report from Gartner Lee Associates. That apparently will not be completed until December. Then it will be the spring of 1982, after they have received the proposal and a list of matters at a prehearing meeting. Then they have to receive notice that the corporation can go. They will issue a notice and then have the meeting.

The spring of 1982 is likely to be when those meetings are going to get under way. Given that this will be a year and a half after the then minister’s original announcement, does the minister not agree that the matter could have been handled by the environmental assessment route?

Secondly, is the minister familiar with this map of South Cayuga, dated December 1977, in which a large area in South Cayuga is drawn out very clearly and marked “Waste management: Minister of Environment preferred waste disposal zone”? Since the Ministry of the Environment apparently had this in mind for some four years at least, was it not just a farce to go ahead with the MacLaren report at a cost of more than $400,000, pretending to be looking at other sites and having other interests in mind?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps I could respond to the latter part of that question first. No, I have not seen the map. I do not know which map the honourable member is referring to.

The first part of his question related to the timing of the completion of the hydrological studies. Certainly according to my most recent communication from the board, that is not the time frame within which they expected to have their reports. At that point they expected them considerably earlier; they expected that the hearings would begin not later than early fall. Unless there has been some change in that which has not been communicated to me, then I am still labouring under the impression that that is the time frame in which they are working.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister not aware that it is only in the last month or so that the Ontario Waste Management Corporation has undertaken with Gartner Lee Associates Limited to have a study on the hydrological suitability of the South Cayuga site, that this study will not even focus on one particular area but will look at a whole 12,000-acre area as the area within which the waste disposal facility might be placed, and that it is a two- phase study which is not expected to be completed until December 1981?

If hearings could begin before then, can the minister kindly explain to the House how citizens or anyone else -- the municipalities that are opposed or other interested parties -- can conceivably comment on what is going to happen there if they do not know whether the site is suitable and if they do not know where the facility is going to be located within a 12,000-acre area?

Given that, does the minister not agree that he has failed to speed up the process, as his predecessor promised to do some months ago, and that he has succeeded only in undermining respect for environmental law in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member ought not to be misled by the breadth of the area that is being examined. As I understand it, the consulting firm involved is a firm of considerable experience and integrity in the field, and it recommended that a much broader area should be examined from a hydrological point of view to ensure that the study was not so narrowly focused that some geological formation might be overlooked in the process.

In fact, I understand that in some instances they have recommended going right back to the headwaters of some of the streams feeding into that area and beginning to cover as wide an area as that. I think that is only indicative of the extreme care and caution with which the matters relating to the safety of this site are being approached.

Mr. Smith: Can the minister confirm whether interveners will have funds provided for them at the hearings, whether those who wish to call people to intervene on behalf of local citizens and citizens’ groups will have any funds provided so they can mount a proper case at this hearing?

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, it is not intended that citizens’ groups be directly funded for that purpose. However, it is intended that the hearing panel will be able, upon request, to call expert witnesses who they feel might add to the completeness of the examination of the matter before it, and under those circumstances the hearing panel will be in a position to provide for payment for covering the presence of those people. That burden will not necessarily have to be borne by the citizens’ groups. I will recommend that this be the approach the groups take.

2:30 p.m.

INTEREST RATES

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food with respect to the impact of interest rates on farmers across the province.

The minister may remember that three weeks ago I raised with him the question of Mr. Henry Friesen, a farmer in the Mildmay area of Bruce county, and he said he would look into it if I sent the information over to him. The minister, having promised to do something, has sent me a letter back telling us what we already knew, that Mr. Friesen is facing bankruptcy because of the situation with the high interest rates.

Since he would not say it in his letter, will the minister now say what action he and the government are prepared to take to protect people like Mr. Friesen and the hundreds of other farmers who are now threatened with bankruptcy or with having their farms sold out from underneath them because of the current financial situation?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, this situation is exactly the same as many other farmers find themselves in. The high interest rates created by the government in Ottawa are causing financial problems not only in the farming community but also all across the province. This individual had additional problems, which I think I pointed out in my response to the member.

Mr. Cassidy: Last week the minister got up and said to this House that he was the minister who represented the farmers in the province. The minister has been asked on Thursday to come before a meeting of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture out at the airport strip, at which angry farmers will be asking whether in fact the ministry and the government do stand for farmers.

Is the government prepared now to bring in a moratorium on auctions such as the one Mr. Friesen is facing on June 12, and on bankruptcies of farm properties across the province until he has introduced and passed a policy that will protect farmers in the climate of high interest rates we have today?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The honourable member knows full well that no government has that type of authority.

Mr. Mancini: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Agriculture and Food for Ontario for quite some time now has continued in the line of saying that it is Ottawa’s responsibility to help these farmers who are suffering under these crushing interest rates. How long is the minister going to be willing to sit back and watch farmer after farmer having to liquidate his assets before he finally assumes some responsibility in this matter?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member should know that the government in Ottawa has created the high interest rates, but apparently he does not know. He should also know that the interest rate is a small part of the problem these farmers are faced with. He knows the low price for the product is also part of the problem. But the interest rate is created by his government, his party in Ottawa.

Mr. Cassidy: in Quebec, the government is prepared to do at least twice as much in terms of providing access to low-interest loans to farmers in that province. Is the minister saying he has nothing at all to offer to Mr. Friesen and he has nothing at all to offer to farmers in this province who are faced with record-breaking interest rates and are faced with being driven out of business -- dozens every week, hundreds every month at the rate things are going? Has he no answers at all? If so, how can he claim to be the minister who represents farmers in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member will look at the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, he will note that about two thirds of it goes in direct grants to help and assist the farmers with their problems.

Again I say, and I do not back away from it, the portion of the problem respecting high interest rates is a direct result of that party’s action in Ottawa.

HOUSING CONTRACTS

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, in the hope that if the minister of farmers does not represent farmers, then maybe this minister will, in fact, represent consumers. Is the minister now aware of the problems of people who have signed in good faith in order to buy homes at specified interest rates, who have subsequently sold their homes because they are about to move and they cannot afford to have two homes at one time, and who then are being told by the vendor that the interest rate on their mortgage will be raised by an extravagant amount? What action will the minister and the government take in order to stop the situation where these home purchasers are now undefended?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, yes, I am aware that is happening. In fact, there have been some stories in the media as recently as today that would indicate some in the situation. The fact is that contracts have it written in that people who are selling their properties can adjust the rates. One has to assume if it is in the contract then the capacity is there for the vendor to change the rate upwards, and if the purchaser does not realize that when he is signing it, given the fact that he is probably buying a $60,000 or $70,000 home, perhaps it behooves him to check with a lawyer in advance.

In fact, I think that is a rather good point.

Purchasers should make sure they check these matters out with a lawyer in advance of signing an offer to purchase, then they would see what they are in for. Actually, most of the offers to purchase have a very clear reference in them to the adjustments that can be made. I want to read one to the member. The reason I read this particular one is that it was mentioned in the newspaper today in talking about New Gulf Homes. There they have an offer to purchase and right up front, right under the spot where the person signs for the amount of money he is going to pay for the house, it says:

“The purchaser agrees to assume a first mortgage of about ... with interest at the rate of ... per cent per annum or at the vendor’s option at the rate of interest prevailing 30 days prior to closing by the lending institution, maturing in approximately” so many years.

It seems to me that if that kind of clause is written into an offer to purchase then the logical and rational purchaser has to realize there may be an increase if he is signing for a lengthy period of time. That appears to be the situation in most cases.

Mr. Cassidy: I would like to raise with the minister the case of a Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Singh, who have also appeared in the press and who run the risk of losing their home because they signed at 11.875 per cent and now are facing a 14.75 per cent rate, despite a clause in their agreement to purchase which allowed for an upward revision of only one half of one per cent in the interest rate.

Does the minister not feel that where there was an agreement of purchase and sale it should be as binding on the vendor as it is on the purchaser, so that the vendor cannot find a way of weaselling out of a deal in the case of today’s interest rates and putting the purchaser in the kind of situation that Mr. and Mrs. Singh have been put into? And does the minister not feel, since the government was prepared to come to the rescue of the people in the Canada Homes case a week or two ago, there should be legislation to stop this kind of double dealing on the part of people selling homes at the expense of people whose only desire is to have a simple roof over their heads?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Wait a minute. If people are prepared to sign contracts that have in them a clause that allows for that kind of variable interest rate then surely they must bear the consequences if it is, in fact, varied. If they do not want to sign that kind of contract then they should be looking for a different home. In the case raised by the leader of the third party of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Singh, who purchased their home from Blue Aspen Limited, the story in the newspaper the other day -- from which I take it the question arises -- made reference to the fact that they did not know the contract could be legally changed. If they did not know it could be legally changed, surely there is some responsibility on their part to make sure prior to signing for such an overwhelming amount of money, such an overwhelming purchase price, as to whether there can be variations in the rate. In the Singh case, they simply did not realize there was a variation.

Perhaps they should have read the contract, and if they could not understand the contract, if there are several pages of relatively closely written material, they should have consulted a lawyer.

Indeed, the article in the newspaper said, “Before he signed the agreement to purchase, he did not consult a lawyer who could have pointed out the clause which says the interest rate can be changed without notice.” He should have looked at it.

2:40 p.m.

Any lawyer will offer a very good opinion on these matters if people will simply turn the agreement of purchase over to them before they sign the contract. There is no reason they have to sit there and sign right in the entrance room of the vendor’s selling establishment. They should take it to their lawyer and have him check it over. After all, it is probably the biggest purchase they will make in their lives, so why would they ever think of doing it without having a lawyer check it over first.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I appreciate hearing this commercial for the legal profession, but given that people usually go to lawyers upon the closing of the deal -- and it costs them a pretty penny, I may say, for something the legal secretaries usually handle, but leaving that aside --

Interjections.

Mr. Smith: We can see how many lawyers there are over there. Listen to that.

Would the minister not agree that rather than tell people they must get legal advice twice when they buy homes -- once when they sign an offer to purchase and once upon closing -- it would be a lot better for the government, instead of taking the typical Conservative attitude which says “Let the buyer beware,” to take the consumer protection attitude which says that all these agreements should be in plain English, should be logical, should be obvious and readable and that if any figure is mentioned it should be as binding upon one side as upon the other, unless it is clearly and in the same size type right then and there with equal prominence stated that this figure is not binding upon the vendor?

This sort of situation where the vendor can sneak out of a deal afterwards by pleading that the print and so on really was in his favour is simply unfair to the average person who may not understand all this. Rather than sending them all to lawyers, why does the government simply not have a standard contract which protects the purchasers of homes in Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Walker: First of all, Mr. Speaker, let me say my suspicion is that the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) will string the leader of the Liberal Party up by his toes when he finds out what he has said.

Interjections.

Hon. Mr. Walker: The next time he is in this House he will do that. I am sure he is going to be in this week.

The second thing is, the clause I read was about as clear as one could ever get and even a psychiatrist could understand it. Indeed, if I may make a commercial, I would think anyone would have to be crazy to sign an agreement to purchase without having taken the care to check out what they are signing. Surely even the Leader of the Opposition or anyone would read it over first.

The third thing I would mention on behalf of the lawyers in this community is that most lawyers would willingly receive the agreement to purchase in advance of its being signed to look at it and offer some opinions. I certainly did that when I practised in this area of law. In fact, to my knowledge all the lawyers in London gave this kind of service as a free portion, or at least it was included in the price of handling the purchase.

It was traditional that the fee which was basically established by the local associations would include within it the cost of reviewing the offer to purchase prior to signing it. After all, it is the biggest deal most of these people are ever going to get into, so why would they not take this kind of contract to their lawyer. He probably would not charge them a penny to look at it and tell them whether it has some of these funny clauses in it.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I take it the minister’s main concern is not the protection of consumers, but the enhancement of the income of lawyers.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh now, that’s not nice.

Mr. Cassidy: The Premier has not been practising for a long time and does not know how tough it is in the profession. His minister obviously does.

If I could read to the minister the apparently operative clause from the Blue Aspen agreement which Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Singh suffered from, it says that if the vendor cannot arrange a mortgage at the price that was agreed to, the purchaser “agrees to accept such mortgage upon such terms and at such interest rate as the vendor is able to arrange, provided that the interest rate to be paid under such first mortgage shall not exceed the interest rate as shown above by more than one half per cent per annum.” That sounds fairly clear and it would seem to me any prudent purchaser would feel he had been protected by that.

I have spent some time reading through the fine print and I cannot find in the contract the open loophole the minister talks about. Before we get caught up in all this legalese, would the minister not agree to have his ministry prepare a short form or summary of house purchase and sale which would specifically lay out what the mortgage conditions are that are being agreed to and what loopholes, if any, may happen to exist, before we see more and more families led down the primrose path the way the Blue Aspen people happened to be?

Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I will accept that idea. We have been talking with the builders. We found all the ones we have been speaking with prepared to co-operate. I remind the member that just three weeks ago he brought to the attention of the House the matter involving Canada Homes, which was resolved half an hour later. The member has brought another matter to our attention. At the moment, those people are talking with their builder and there is some discussion. The last report I had Thursday afternoon was that those people were discussing the Mississauga matter -- the member should not shake his head, because that was the situation when we checked with the builder and the purchaser at that time.

I may say we have had a lot of co-operation from the builders in trying to achieve this. I like the idea the member is suggesting, that we come up with some draft clause that might be appropriate for this situation. That is one thing we can do. Fortunately, the offers to purchase are relatively straightforward. I know the member would understand virtually every clause in most offers to purchase. There may be confusion on some of them but that is something we can attend to with the builders and straighten out. We have had nothing but co-operation from them so far in trying to straighten out the matter.

TAX INCREASES

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question of the Treasurer. In view of the fact there are a number of expenditures in the budget that could have been cut, at least in our judgement, to bring the net cash requirements further into better balance, in view of the fact the ad valorem tax is inflationary -- I do not know whether the Treasurer admits it but everybody else recognizes it is inflationary -- in view of the fact the overwhelming critical opinion of that tax has been negative, in view of the fact there is a great deal of outrage from deceived voters in this province after the election and the imposition of that tax, and in view of the fact there is a precedent for a Treasurer withdrawing a tax after its imposition in the budget without losing his job, why does the Treasurer not withdraw that ad valorem tax from that budget?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to. The member will have an opportunity to debate it, perhaps today. It may be either tonight or Friday morning.

In those “in view of the facts,” the member had an interesting one which intrigued me. All the things I have heard from his side of the House tell me I should be spending a great deal more money. I would dearly love to know where he would have made the savings. I would dearly like to see what other government in this country, outside of Prince Edward Island, came in with as low a year-over-year increase as this province did. It was 12.2 per cent in spending. That may sound like a lot to the member but with inflation already predicted to be 12.1 per cent and running at a higher rate, that is by any government standard an outstanding job of cost control.

Mr. Peterson: If the Treasurer had been here for more than one out of the four days after the budget to defend it, he would have heard some of our ideas about where expenditures could have been cut. That is a reality. He was so embarrassed about it he disappeared and would not show up.

2:50 p.m.

What I want to ask is, has the Treasurer given up the battle on inflation? He always heralds himself and the government as the great defenders of the consumers and taxpayers of this country against inflation. Has he given up now and is he resigned to just profiteering? Is that now his official government stance?

Hon. F. S. Miller: No, Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat one more thing. First, I think the member will recall the whole question period on the day after the --

Mr. Peterson: One day and then you disappeared for three and did not show up for the responses.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I was in Thunder Bay allowing people in the balance of the province also to see some of the effects of my budget. I think that is a good thing to do.

Mr. Peterson: That is nonsense. The week after the budget you should have been here to defend it.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I had an opportunity to read the member’s nice comments about me and I realize he thinks I am the best person around, the most competent and, therefore, the one to be trusted. It is certainly reassuring to read all that in his comments, and his comments on my friend the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) as well, who sat and listened to his material. But given all that, I am satisfied that this government has done very well in terms of cost control. I point out to the member that our total debt, which he likes to use day after day --

Hon Mr. Davis: For his own purposes.

Hon. F. S. Miller: -- is less today in terms of our revenue, half as much today as it was in the days of Leslie Frost and half as much as today’s debt of the federal Liberal government.

Mr. Peterson: That doesn’t cut any ice with me.

OHIP PREMIUMS

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Treasurer. Does the minister recall his compassionate words on page 20 of his budget where he says the premium assistance system under the Ontario health insurance plan “will be enriched to ensure that the increase in premiums” -- of 15 per cent -- “will not impose any financial burden on those least able to afford them”?

Is it not a fact that as of October 1980 only about a fraction of one per cent of those who were eligible for partial premium assistance were actually getting it -- 8,174 subscribers to be precise? Is it not a fact that he does not have the slightest intention of making sure the premium assistance subsidy goes to even a bare majority of low income wage earners who are theoretically entitled to it? If I am wrong, will he please tell us how he intends to make this totally inoperative system work?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, the member is using facts that may or may not be correct from his point of view. It is true that a very small percentage of people --

Mr. McClellan: If I am wrong, tell me I am wrong and how I am wrong.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Would you like to listen now?

It is true that a very small percentage of people are on partial premium assistance. Whether the member’s number is exact or not I cannot say without checking my records, because I do not have it by memory in my head. We have encouraged and will continue to encourage people who believe they are eligible for partial premium assistance to apply for it. We raised the levels of salary below which one is entitled to have it. We are encouraging people to make sure they are aware of it.

The member and I, as working constituency politicians, very often can be the very people who help someone become aware of that. That is part of our job. There are enough government programs which he and I may know about, but the average guy in the street does not. One can advertise them for a long time and many people will not know. All of us do that kind of thing day after day among the many other ways of helping constituents.

Finally, I point out that we made some predictions as to how many should be in that category. It is very difficult to be sure they are paying premiums and that is the conclusion the member has jumped to. In many instances, I believe he will find that one way or another people we believe should be eligible for partial assistance are having their premiums paid by someone else or some other member of the family.

Mr. McClellan: The Treasurer has conceded that the takeup rate for partial premium assistance is just totally inadequate, and I think it is less than one per cent. I suspect, and I am asking the Treasurer if he agrees, that even the takeup rate for full premium assistance still seems to be something around a third of those who are eligible. Surely that indicates to the Treasurer that the program is not working? The course of wisdom is to do what was recommended by the select committee in 1978 and what was put forward as a proposal in the 1979 budget by the Treasurer himself, and that is to replace the premium assistance program as quickly as is physically possible with a tax credit program to make sure that all low income wage earners who are entitled to relief from regressive premiums actually get it.

Hon. F. S. Miller: It is not that simple, and I am sure the member knows that. What we did say in the budget is that this year we would very much like to have stated reactions from all those who have a vested interest in changing the OHIP premium system. I hear a great deal of noise from the New Democrats and the Liberals about it, but I do not hear a great deal of noise from the people of Ontario who, I believe, have been well served by the mixture of premium and tax-supported health care.

This year, health care got an increase of $650 million in its spending. That is an increase of about 14.6 per cent. The increase in OHIP premiums was 15 per cent. The premiums pay about $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion of a total of $5.6 billion. The balance is already on a progressive tax system in this province and I believe the people of this province think it is good.

Mr. Conway: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the minister indicated in his first response to the member for Bellwood that perhaps there was some dispute as to the exact figures for the rates of uptake for all levels of premium assistance, would the minister give us an undertaking here today to table at his earliest opportunity the most recent information available to him on the precise rates of uptake for both full and partial premium assistance?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, if the member is talking about percentages, I do not know if that is available. They are guesstimates as to the potential number of people who are eligible for that type of assistance. Those are guesstimates based upon what we believe to be earning profiles in the population. Many people have looked at them and said that the uptake is a low percentage of those who are potentially eligible to have premium assistance, but that may be overstated.

We have worried about that. We have never denied that we would like to get to those people and we would like to see them taking the benefit of it. However, all our attempts to locate them have not shown many people out there who are either doing without OHIP coverage, which would be bad, or paying OHIP premiums unaware that they are eligible for assistance. We are simply suggesting there are other ways.

Mr. Cassidy: What attempts have been made to find them? They don’t make any attempt to locate them, Mr. Speaker. All they do is advertise “Preserve it, conserve it.” It is a secret. They have to fight to get the forms.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Sure, we can give the member the figures --

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Conway: Just as a point of information, I want the Treasurer to know that my question is: Will he undertake to provide this House with the most recent data on how many people are taking advantage of full and partial premium assistance, expressed in both absolute and percentage terms?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I would be glad to reply to the reasonable question of my friend. The noise from the other side was such that I thought it better to sit down until it ceased. That is why I was sitting down. Yes, I will be glad to give the member any statistical information we have on that basis.

ABORTIONS

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. Would the minister comment on the statement made two weeks ago by the outgoing president of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Robert MacMillan, that there has been an unacceptable increase in abortions in Ontario and that 90 per cent of the abortions approved have no medical basis?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think the member is paraphrasing a bit. Certainly the question of the number of abortions is something that should concern us all. My own view, as often stated, is that in the main abortions approved under the terms of the federal Criminal Code are evidence of a lack of family planning or family planning gone wrong. They are certainly an area of concern.

As I understand it, what Dr. MacMillan was saying is that there is a role for the medical profession to play to improve dealings with their patients in the future, whether it is through better advice with respect to conception control and family planning or whatever, in order to remove the need, in some cases, to apply to therapeutic abortion committees.

3 p.m.

Mr. Sweeney: Given that Dr. MacMillan in his statement urged his own 14,000-plus colleagues to conduct an internal study as to whether or not the federal legislation is being followed according to its intent, and given the fact that the same federal legislation gives the minister the power to monitor the way in which the abortion committees in hospitals are operating, would the minister accept that responsibility given to him in the federal legislation and carry out some kind of monitoring mechanism?

According to Dr. MacMillan -- who, I would have to assume, as the president of the medical association, knows something about what is going on -- we have an unacceptably high number of abortions, in excess of 30,000 a year, in Ontario now. Surely the federal legislation cannot be functioning according to its intent.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as you may recall, and as the member will recall, the federal department to which he makes reference did a study a few years ago that recommended, if anything, broadening the terms in the code, and it is my understanding that is the view of the present federal minister.

Mr. Sweeney: That is the minister’s view?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The honourable member knows my views on the subject of abortion, which are rather conservative, aside from my politics. I think something more useful would come from some discussion at the national level about whether the federal government does intend to stand by or in some way amend the criteria, because we have no authority at the provincial government level to do anything about those criteria. That authority rests entirely at another level.

Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the minister says, and I agree with him, that the number of abortions has risen to a high level largely because of a failure to make family planning techniques well understood and accepted, would he not feel -- taking into account the evidence showing that areas where good family planning services are available to the public and school boards have good sex education programs actually have a lower rate of unwanted pregnancies -- it is about time all school boards in Ontario had a sex education program as part of their curriculum, and that family planning facilities be made available to the public in all parts of Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, for about the last five years we have funded 100 per cent of the costs of family planning programs through the municipal boards of health. To my knowledge every health unit now has a program. That is not to say it is as complete a program as it might be. I would be the first to acknowledge that in some cases the program exists in name only, and that there is still a lot of work to be done in encouraging the boards to overcome local hangups and get on with the job of promoting an enlightened and balanced family planning program.

With regard to the first point, officials in my ministry and officials in the Ministry of Education have been in discussion on the question of family planning programs and how they might be improved. I cannot say to the honourable member that one of the aspects is somehow to make whatever guidelines may come up from time to time compulsory. That has not formed part of our discussions, but I will be glad to take that under advisement.

BRUCE HYDRO LINE

Mr. MacDonald: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. The minister will recall that his colleague the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) wrote a letter to Hydro on December 15 asking them to place on hold their plans for proceeding to environmental assessment of the second kilovolt line out of Bruce until the cabinet could decide on consolidated or joint hearings with regard to various statutes that have to be taken into account in reaching a decision about that line.

Do I conclude correctly that the Consolidated Hearings Act, 1981, which the minister noted in his earlier comments, is the cabinet’s response, and that, therefore, that hold on Hydro will be lifted so they can proceed with plans for the second line out of Bruce?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, not being a party to the letter to which the honourable member refers, I cannot answer with certainty, but I would assume that this is the response of the government to that concern.

Mr. MacDonald: Since Hydro has indicated that for every day beyond 1983 that this line is not in place -- and at this point it simply cannot be put in place by then -- the cost will be $1 million in losses because of the impossibility of getting the power that will be available from Bruce out into the grid, can the minister give us some assurance that this act will be passed before the summer so that the delay will not be prolonged? I am not aware that it is on the Order Paper to be considered before the summer recess.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, it will be on the Order Paper before this day is out. Assuming we have the co-operation of all sides of the House, it certainly is my intention that the bill will be passed before the summer recess.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister explain the apparent discrepancy in the situation as it prevailed prior to the announcement of this bill? How will a line now be put in place, considering that his predecessor said it would take three years to satisfy the terms of the Environmental Assessment Act, which Ontario Hydro now places every project under? He gave this as one of the reasons for exempting South Cayuga.

There is now a virtually immediate need for a line out of Bruce, and the minister has not given any directive to Ontario Hydro to proceed with the environmental assessment work.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am not in the situation, as I understand my authority, to give directives to Ontario Hydro in any event. I think the honourable member’s question might better be directed to the Minister of Energy.

I can assure the member that this legislation is proceeding and that it ought to have the effect of substantially reducing the time that otherwise might be required by multiple hearings on transmission lines coming out of Bruce. Surely he has to recognize that the whole purpose of this legislation is to expedite and to streamline the process, not to delay it.

I cannot predict how long the hearings might take. That is not up to me. I do not establish time frames for the hearings. That really depends upon the length of time required by any of the bodies that might be holding hearings, as determined by them.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

Mr. Bradley: I have a question of the Minister without Portfolio in charge of freedom of information, Mr. Speaker.

There was great expectation that there might be a freedom of information bill forthcoming in the last parliament, and there has been a good deal of discussion about this in the media and certainly among members of this Legislature.

Will the minister give an undertaking to this House that after all of this input a discussion paper will be produced by the government by the end of this session so it will be available for members of the Legislature and the public?

Is there a possibility there might also be, as part of that discussion paper, a draft bill which could be commented upon by all of those interested?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, it is most appropriate that I should be asked my first question as a minister of the crown today, because I note in the members’ gallery my Liberal opponent from the last election. I want to welcome Mr. Paul Raina here today.

Mr. Smith: He will return the favour.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: I want to invite the Leader of the Opposition to my riding again the next time if it will have the same results in the next election in 1985.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the minister answer the question, please?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, the freedom of information question is indeed a very complex one.

Interjections.

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, if I can continue: I hope I will be able to produce a paper within the next four or five months to outline our position in regard to the intended proposals in terms of legislation and ideas about freedom of information, and of course privacy, which goes hand in hand with it. I hope, in terms of setting up the process, it will be in place at this point in time to carry through to the ultimate end of having legislation before this House.

3:10 p.m.

Mr. Bradley: Can the minister assure the House that his reluctance to produce this discussion paper and the draft bill in this particular session, or at least before the end of June, has nothing to do with the fact that in other provinces and other jurisdictions where a freedom of information bill exists it could be used to glean the kind of information that the justice committee has been attempting to get on the Re-Mor and Astra Trust situation without success because of blocking by government members? Is the minister afraid that by expediting this particular matter the government perhaps would be forced to reveal information that it intends to keep secret through the use of its members on the committee?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: There is no reluctance on my part to produce the paper before the end of June. I think it would be extremely unfair to do so with the present knowledge I have so far acquired on this particular subject.

It may be of interest to the member for St. Catharines that if we had Bill C-43, which is the present federal legislation, in front of us and were controlled by the rules in that particular legislation, we would not have had about one half of the information we had in the January sittings on the Re-Mor matter.

In dealing with freedom of information, I want to be as fair as possible, and I therefore ask for a little bit more time to produce what I consider a quality piece of work.

Mr. Renwick: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the reason for the delay really the difficulty the minister has had in extracting the information from his colleague the former Minister without Portfolio and now the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope)? Will he confirm to this House that he now has extracted the information from his colleague and has it available for study, or is this a matter on which the Premier (Mr. Davis) should intervene in order that he be provided with the material?

Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I have had no difficulty getting files from the former minister.

TORONTO ISLAND HOMES

Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Premier, Mr. Speaker, in regard to the Toronto Island residents. It has been two and a half months since the election and there is less than a month now before eviction notices are again due for the Toronto Island residents. Will the Premier inform the House today, in the absence of the minister, when we will be seeing legislation to preserve the island community?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of which minister? If he means the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), my recollection is that his commitment to the solution of the problem really has been far more apparent for a prolonged period of time than that of the member for Scarborough West. I think the House can rest assured that there will be a form of solution so that the writs of possession that may come into being at the end of June will not do so.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Some would say the leaking of a certain document may have done more to speed up the process than anything previously, but it always seems we are leaving this to the last minute. It is always a cliffhanging kind of situation for the islanders, which is totally unfair.

Can the Premier assure us that the principles of the Swadron commission will be introduced, that we will have a chance for full examination of that legislation, and that no evictions will take place before we are finished with the legislation in due time?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I think the government has made it very clear that there will be no evictions. What I cannot guarantee is just how much we will get done before the present spring session adjourns. I could ask the member for Scarborough West to help all of us by prevailing upon his colleagues not to limit in any way their participation and discussion on some of the tax bills -- which are practically in place and people are paying the taxes -- but to limit the number of votes on what has been indicated will be a very lengthy discussion. We might then get on with some of this other legislation.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

CONSOLIDATED HEARINGS ACT

Hon. Mr. Norton moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Snow, first reading of Bill 89, An Act to provide for the Consolidation of Hearings under certain Acts of the Legislature.

Motion agreed to.

ONTARIO WASTE MANAGEMENT CORPORATION ACT

Hon. Mr. Norton moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Snow, first reading of Bill 90, An Act to establish the Ontario Waste Management Corporation.

Motion agreed to.

MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT

Mr. Breaugh moved, seconded by Mr. Swart, first reading of Bill 91, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to authorize municipalities to provide retired employees with a range of benefits including health insurance, nursing and dental services and accident and sickness insurance. This has been a problem in several municipalities where the Municipal Act itself is not clear on the matter. Some municipalities have negotiated these benefits with their employees. Others remain firm in their legal opinion that the Municipal Act should be clarified, and that is the purpose of this bill.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, before you call the orders of the day: The House leaders of the three parties have agreed that the time for debate on this next item will be divided three ways. We wish to request the clerks to keep time.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

OHIP PREMIUMS

Mr. Cassidy moved, seconded by Mr. Martel, motion 11 under standing order 63(a):

That this House: condemns the decision of the government to ignore the recommendations of the Hall commission on health care to eliminate health premiums and substitute a more progressive system of taxation; condemns the government for its outrageous decision to raise OHIP premiums by 15 per cent and maintain health premiums at the highest level in Canada; condemns the government for making the overall burden of personal taxes in Ontario including health premiums the highest of any province for families on modest income; condemns the government for forcing families to pay $552 a year for medicare and then blocking access to universal medicare by means of user fees on health facilities and tolerating extra billing by opted-out doctors; and for all these reasons this House no longer has confidence in the government.

3:20 p.m.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, the budget we had two weeks ago was unfair and regressive. Its most objectionable feature is the $72 increase in health premiums, a tax so regressive it will cost the same to a family earning $15,000 a year as it will to a family where the annual income is $150,000. It is a cynical move from a cynical government which has lost no time in displaying how easily and quickly it can be corrupted by having the power a majority gives it.

You may recall that on February 2, when the Premier (Mr. Davis) launched his campaign, he made the unequivocal statement that the government was seeking a mandate to combat inflation through more efficient government, avoiding tax increases, supporting those on fixed incomes, et cetera.

There is a 1984 quality about what this government was doing in that campaign, because there is a capacity for Newspeak worthy of George Orwell himself. Far from avoiding tax increases, the increases for individuals in the budget, including Ontario health insurance plan premiums, are the worst we have had in 10 or 15 years. The OHIP premiums have now been singled out to be increased as a kind of annual event, the way the government used to increase the tobacco and liquor taxes almost every year before going to the ad valorem tax in this budget.

Now that it has a majority, the government has come through with a budget that is grossly unfair, because it will take $600 million from individuals while not taking a penny more from corporations. That is not fair. That is inequitable. Those may be Tory priorities, but they are not NDP priorities and they should not be the priorities for the people of Ontario.

How can anyone defend a budget where the levels of tax are the highest of any province in Canada for people earning $15,000 a year, $20,000 a year and $25,000 a year and where the provincial tax rate, when the OHIP premiums are included, is actually a higher proportion of the federal basic tax for people earning $15,000 a year than it is for people earning $25,000 a year?

The government tries to claim the tax rate is 44 per cent, and now 48 per cent, of the federal basic tax rate. In fact, at $15,000 it is going to be 80 per cent of the federal basic tax, and at $25,000 it will be 65 per cent.

Where else has there been a government that taxes more the less one makes, except in this regressive Conservative province of Ontario? The government is being purely and simply cynical, because it came back to power promising to avoid tax increases and then hit everybody between the eyes.

It is quite clear the plan is that in two and a half years or three years there will come a sunshine budget and suddenly, with the 1985 election around the corner, there will be tax rebates, sales tax cuts and all sorts of wonderful, splendid things to dangle in front of the people of the province once again. It will be giveaways once again. We get a giveaway once every four years when the Tories have a majority. We do not get good fiscal policy.

We in the New Democratic Party have been committed for a long time to eliminating health premiums because they are an unfair and regressive tax and because we believe health care should be paid on the basis of people’s ability to pay.

We have been opposed to premiums because we do not think they are an appropriate vehicle for financing health. We have urged again and again that the process of eliminating premiums, which will take two or three years, should be undertaken now.

If the government had taken the advice of the majority of the select committee on health-care financing and costs in 1978, that health premiums should be phased out over the next three or four years, we could be quit of premiums today the way seven other provinces in Canada are now quit of them.

Why does Ontario have to be so backward under the Conservative government? We are the only province to have such a high level of health premiums. The government cannot say it is impossible. Seven other provinces have done it, and we can do it too.

There is an unerring urge to hit people in this province with modest incomes. The select committee demonstrated that only one third of the families entitled to premium assistance actually got it. Did the government go out and try to make sure they found out what their rights were? One had to fight tooth and nail just to get the forms for premium assistance, despite what the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) seems to believe.

The select committee recommended that we move to a tax credit system to benefit more equitably people on low incomes who have to pay the premiums. That advice was unanimously offered and has been totally ignored by the government. Far from showing any regrets at the use of OHIP premiums as a means of taking taxation powers out of the Legislature, the government has taken to the idea of using OHIP with glee.

In 1978, they tried to raise the premiums by 37.5 per cent and had to be rolled back by the combined force of the opposition parties. A year or two later they raised the premiums by 5.5 per cent. Now they have been raised by 15 per cent, and God knows what the government wants to raise them by next year and the year after that.

I predict the day will not be long hence if this no-confidence motion is not passed that the Conservatives will try to soak people across the province for more than $1,000 a year in health premiums. I say that has to stop and it has to stop now. We have to charge for health care on the basis of people’s ability to pay, and not on the basis of this backward tax that the Conservatives want to put forward.

The Treasurer was saying that some members think premiums are not an appropriate financing vehicle. Let it be recorded for the Treasurer, who is not here now, that every New Democrat believes that premiums are inappropriate and should be brought to an end.

The budget says premiums are being increased because their contribution to the cost of insured health services has fallen over the last couple of years. I say that the contribution made by the premiums should continue to fall until it is no contribution, because we should pay for health care on the basis of people’s ability to pay.

The argument is so hard to fathom, because premiums are an insensitive way of financing health. They do not bear any relation to how much health care one uses. Many people who are major users of health services are exempt from premiums for various reasons. Senior citizens, for example, are exempted in Ontario and do not have to pay health premiums. The premiums do not relate either to one’s ability to pay or to how much health service one may happen to use. They are neither a deterrent or an equitable form of tax. What they are is a regressive tax which should be gone.

The government says that since 70 per cent of the premiums are paid in group health plans they are therefore somewhat more tolerable. The answer to that is that 80 or 90 per cent of people’s income taxes in Ontario are paid through deductions from the employer. But that does not mean people are not aware of the fact that they are paying the tax. It simply means they pay every week or every month, rather than paying at the end of the year. They pay every month for their OHIP premiums in the same way, but that certainly does not make them a better tax than income tax, and in many ways they are a worse tax.

I suggest that the cynicism and the lack of vision of this government shows up in its failure to make sure that the people who are being asked to pay more in health premiums get what OHIP was meant to provide. The fact is that people will be paying more for OHIP and getting less, because they will continue to have to pay user fees for chronic care.

My friend the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) cited the case of a constituent in his riding with an income of $16,000 a year who had to pay $4,000 or $5,000 chronic care user fees on behalf of his wife who was in hospital. There was no way that constituent could avoid that particular charge.

I met with a constituent in my riding on Friday who lost most of her eyesight a year ago through some tragic circumstances for which she felt the doctor was responsible. She has had to see 15 or 16 doctors over the course of the last year in an effort to try to get her sight back. Almost every one of those specialists has been opted out; so not only has she faced the loss of her job and her livelihood but also every time she goes to a doctor to try to get her sight back she has to pay 40 per cent extra because the doctors are opted out.

Are we getting better health care? Ask people who cannot get into hospital because the beds have been shut down. Are we getting better health care? Ask people in Thunder Bay who have to wait for months to get elective surgery because of the waiting list. Or ask people in the Windsor hospital where they are stacked up on stretchers in the emergency wards because there are not enough beds to look after legitimate health needs.

Are we getting enough health care? Ask people who have been trying to expand community clinics, like the clinic in my riding, in Dalhousie, who have been finding that there is no funding and no encouragement for this improved kind of health care because the government does not appear to believe in it.

3:30 p.m.

Are we getting better health care? The one group that probably thinks so and will pay this health premium with pleasure is the doctors of the province, because they got a 14.75 per cent increase that will raise the net income of specialists to more than $100,000 a year -- an increase of $12,000 for the average physician, according to the Weiler report; an increase in income in one year that equals the income of many people who are being asked to pay $36 to $72 extra to get their health care.

It is very clear that people are being asked to pay more to get less. Those are the priorities of this government.

Let me look at the unfairness of the budget once again. Back in 1975, personal income tax brought in just over $1.5 billion in Ontario and corporation taxes amounted to $1.2 billion. They were almost the same in terms of revenue just six years ago. In the current year, personal taxes will go up to $4.4 billion and the corporation taxes will have gone up to $2.1 billion.

In other words, where they were almost equal six years ago, now the personal income tax is double the corporation income tax. That is in just six short years under this government.

Despite their record profits, the corporate contribution to Ontario’s revenues have gone up by 75 per cent in six years, whereas income taxes are up by 175 per cent.

Does it change a lot if we add in the premiums and sales tax revenues and the other things individuals have to pay? If we look at that, we will see that personal tax revenues have gone up from $3.4 billion to $8.4 billion over the course of the last six years; that is an increase of 140 per cent, compared with the increase of 75 per cent for corporation taxes.

Where is the government’s sense of justice? Where is the government’s sense of equity? Where is the government’s sense of fairness if taxes on individuals are going to go up by 140 per cent and if the OHIP premiums are going to be increased every other year as now seems to be the pattern the government has set? Why is it the government will not raise corporation taxes by that same amount?

Why is it that the government is running an economic policy in which it has piled giveaway upon tax concession upon tax expenditures to the corporations to the point where today the banks in Ontario pay a tax rate -- federal and provincial corporation taxes -- that is only half the tax rate paid by the poor middle-income wage earner earning $25,000 a year? The tax rate is 15 or 16 per cent for banks and 31 per cent for individuals, including the OHIP premiums they have to pay.

The government says it has all been to make sure the economy performs. The economy has not performed. The revenues are not coming in from the corporate sector. Individuals are being hit with a double whammy. They are getting a cutback in health services on the one hand; they are getting increased premiums on the other hand. It has to stop, and that is why we are bringing in this motion of no confidence.

It lays out quite clearly that we think this is unfair taxation. We believe the government is wrong to have levied such heavy taxes on individuals. It is a sign of government mismanagement that taxes on individuals in Ontario are higher than in any other province.

For all of these reasons we have no confidence in the government. If we can get enough votes, we are going to make damned sure we kick this gang out and get Ontario moving in terms of fair taxation, no health premiums and economic growth and equitable social services.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Thank you.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, due to the fact we do not have anyone from cabinet present, and we have not had for some time, I will move the adjournment of the House. It is nondebatable.

Mr. Martel moved the adjournment of the House.

The Acting Speaker: All those in favour of Mr. Martel’s motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

An hon. member: The nays have it.

The Acting Speaker: In my opinion the ayes have it.

Call in the members.

The whips not having returned, the House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

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