Mr Kormos: On 30 March 1990 the Ministry of Labour, pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, effectively shut down the provincial courtroom in Niagara Falls, one of the satellite courts in the judicial district of Niagara South. The reason was that it was unsafe for both the public and the police force because prisoners in custody and the public share the same corridors and public areas.
That courthouse is being used and has been used five days a week hearing criminal trials, family court matters, small claims court and youth court matters. Many of the people in criminal court matters, and indeed perhaps even more so in youth court matters, are necessarily in custody. These people will no longer have their trials in that provincial courthouse. The approximately 100 to 120 accused persons who are scheduled to appear in that provincial court on Thursday of this week will not have a courtroom ready there to receive them.
Personnel for the Attorney General are calling defence counsel and saying, “Would you please advise your clients to attend at the St Catharines courthouse?” in another jurisdiction. That is simply not acceptable and the Attorney General should know better. They are telling defence counsel that bail hearings are going to be held in the bowels of the police station where the public is not admitted. That is simply not acceptable and the Attorney General should know better.
Mrs Cunningham: We have all heard this government state that it is committed to deinstitutionalization. The special services at home program was initiated to demonstrate that institutionalization could be avoided with the appropriate supports in the home. Without this essential service, many families with disabled children would be forced to consider placing their children in institutions.
Last May the former Minister of Community and Social Services promised the public that he would broaden the support, not only to families that have developmentally handicapped children but also to those same families whose handicapped children become adults and to families who have physically handicapped children as well.
Many families can benefit from this support service. I urge the minister to fulfil the promise and address this issue as a priority within his budget. Families have been waiting too long for this government to act on its promise. We are all aware of the facts. Institutionalization is far more expensive than parental relief. This parental relief program must not be seen as a cost to society. It should be viewed as an investment in the future of many handicapped citizens and as a program that allows such people to remain in the much preferred setting of the family rather than in an institution.
Mr Cleary: I represent an area of the province that many times suggests it is forgotten by Toronto. Perhaps one should note that it is in eastern Ontario that much of our rich heritage can be found. The oldest grammar school can be found in the city of Cornwall as well as one of our older churches.
I am proud to represent the riding of Cornwall, which also sports a fair portion of the St Lawrence Parks Commission. Each year the parks attract thousands of visitors to camp and stay for a day. We also have the Robert Saunders generating station, a huge hydro complex that draws hundreds of people each day to see an example of Canada-US co-operation.
As well, there is the north and south span of the Seaway International Bridge stretching between Cornwall and Massena. New York state is one of the major gateways for people coming into Ontario from the United States.
I am sure the members will appreciate that the tourist information offices record thousands of requests each year from all over the world for information on Ontario. That obviously includes the many specific requests from Cornwall and the surrounding area.
Mr Wildman: What is wrong with the Minister of Transportation? How is it the minister is unaware, despite the fact that the township of MacDonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional -- Echo Bay -- has been attempting to persuade the Ministry of Transportation to erect non-glare lights on the Echo Bay bridge on Highway 17 for some years? How is it that the Minister of Transportation is not aware? Why is it that we have repeated accidents with whiteouts every winter and fog in that location in the spring and the fall, quite normal, and yet the Ministry of Transportation refuses to act?
Last year the ministry refused to install lighting, saying it did not have any proper lights that would effect proper visibility. This year it refused once again, and just within a week of the ministry again refusing there was a five-car pile-up in a whiteout on the Echo Bay bridge.
It is obvious action must be taken by the Ministry of Transportation. It is unfortunate the minister seems to be unaware of the situation. I do not know what is wrong with his staff or with his office, but somehow we have to get the minister lighted up.
Mr Harris: I wish to draw the attention of the members of this assembly to the need for a Social Work Act in Ontario. This matter has been under review for four years now and the minister’s response is long overdue.
The Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers, the Ontario College of Certified Social Workers and an impressive coalition of 50 organizations, including the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, the Ontario Association of Family Service Agencies and the Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres, representing thousands of service providers and tens of thousands of service recipients, are still waiting for a decision.
Ontario is the only province in Canada without some form of regulation for the practice of social work. The consequences of unregulated social work are unacceptable, frightening and at times tragic. We have had many horror stories documented by the media and service providers themselves, and yet after years of intensive discussion and review the minister still refuses to act.
What could be more important than protecting children, families and those in need of care? The people of Ontario deserve an explanation as to why the Peterson government refuses to give priority to this important matter. At the very least the time has come for the minister to get off the fence, make a decision and present the people of Ontario with a timetable for action.
Mr Pelissero: Adam Pelissero is a member of the First Jordan Cub Pack. Tonight he and I will be attending the annual parent and son banquet and I would like to pay tribute today to the cub and scout movement in Ontario.
It was over 80 years ago now that Christopher Corliss, a single father with a son, became inspired by the writings of Baden-Powell and began stopping boys in the streets of Toronto to discuss scouting.
Lord Baden-Powell devoted the majority of his life to the promotion of a world brotherhood through the scouting movement. He believed no better way of world brotherhood could be found than by enrolling future citizens of various countries and different languages in the boy scout movement, which knows no national boundaries.
Today scouting also includes Beavers, between the ages of five and eight, and Venturers, between the ages of 14 and 17. Age groups have been narrowed to allow boys to develop at their own pace -- boys and girls, that is; Venturers and Rovers are both co-ed groups today. These and other changes have been in response to a changing society.
Mr Wildman: When is a road officially a road? In December the Ontario government announced that construction of the Red Squirrel Road was completed. On 21 December the cabinet quietly passed an order in council extending construction of the road, while telling the public it was finished.
The order states that “since factors beyond the control of the Ministry of Natural Resources delayed completion,” it had to be issued. The order states further that the following impacts were considered in making a decision to approve an extension: economic viability of sawmills, negative impact on other businesses and negative impacts on local communities.
Business and industry were the focus of two out of the three considerations. Since the native community opposes construction of the road, consideration appears to have been given only to non-native communities. Once again the natives have been considered irrelevant.
The order’s existence means the Ministry of Natural Resources intends to be out on the road as soon as weather permits. It does prohibit the use of the road by logging trucks until the work is done. There is likely to be significant environmental damage due to spring runoffs, so to prevent further damage full construction will not begin until the runoff is completed. This means the Ontario government must officially declare the road finished once again, even though it said it was done in December. Why the secrecy about this order in council?
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, as you are undoubtedly aware, the all-important date of 23 June is only 80 days away. No, I am not referring to the Liberal national convention -- I said “important date.” The date to which I refer is that for ratification of the Meech Lake accord.
Members of this House, at least those who were paying attention, may recall the minority recommendations of our party in the select committee on constitutional reform. Those recommendations were intended to provide a bridge by which the Premier might attempt to meet some of the objections of other provinces with regard to the accord, ones that he finds interesting now that they are brought forward by Premier McKenna, I might add. He voted against them in this House; that is on record.
Those recommendations included a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on the effects of the accord on individual rights and freedoms, recognition of the multicultural nature of Canadian society and recognition that aboriginal peoples constitute a distinct and fundamental characteristic of Canada.
When we brought those recommendations forward, I must admit I was somewhat surprised that the Premier expressed little interest. I recently heard of his insensitivity towards native Canadians while speaking on racism before a group which included representatives of the native community.
Speaking before a recent conference on racism, the Premier told how it was his forefathers who built the nation and created a strong tradition of tolerance, despite the obvious representation of native groups in the audience and who initiated the tradition of tolerance in Canada. I had hoped that his oversight having been pointed out, he would have admitted his error.
Mr Ballinger: On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure, along with the Minister of Health and the member for Markham, to be a platform guest at the official opening of the newly completed Markham Stouffville Hospital.
For almost 20 years the residents of both the communities of Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville never lost sight of their goal of obtaining a new hospital. Consequently, almost I ,000 interested citizens and special guests were also in attendance to join in the long-awaited celebration.
The Markham Stouffville Hospital is a result of a co-operative process involving the Ministry of Health, the region of York, the towns of Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville, the hospital board and, most important, the residents of both communities.
The total cost of construction was $74 million, of which the Ministry of Health committed $44.6 million and the region of York contributed $22.3 million. The remaining $7 million was raised by the hard work and imagination of both the communities of Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Seven million dollars is a lot of money for any community to raise, especially since most of it was raised when the hospital was still nothing more than a dream. It speaks well about the determination of all the people involved who helped make this dream a long-awaited reality.
In imposing the zoning order I directed a provincial team under the direction of Duncan Allan, the special adviser to the Premier on Toronto waterfront development, to seek a better solution for Harbourfront, and I asked for a full report by 31 March. In light of that deadline and of recent media reports, I believe it would be appropriate to update the House.
Our provincial team had three objectives. First, access to the waterfront must be returned to the people of Ontario, meaning that the three “pipeline” projects south of Queen’s Quay had to be removed. Second, I agreed with many in the arts and cultural community that good programs should not depend on bad buildings. Harbourfront must be endowed sufficiently to permit its excellent core programming activities to continue. Third, the city of Toronto must be accorded fair treatment of its claims for park lands and revenues from the Harbourfront site.
On 23 March I presented the provincial report and its recommendations to the Honourable Elmer MacKay, federal Minister of Public Works. The minister asked for time to review the recommendations prior to their release to the public. I believe this was an appropriate request.
I have spoken with Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton to assure him that the objectives of the provincial recommendations -- returning the waterfront to public access, fully protecting valuable programs and addressing the city’s valid interests in park lands and revenues -- are clearly workable.
I have agreed to a request from the federal minister that the zoning order remain on the site until he and his officials have reviewed the provincial recommendations. Details of the report will be kept in confidence until the federal minister completes his review, expected within 30 days. I will further update the House when it is appropriate.
Ontario’s college system is a vital link in our education and training systems. It is at the college level that our students can build upon the basics learned in our elementary and secondary schools. Our colleges currently offer more than 400 technician and technologist programs. In 1989, 21,000 Ontarians were trained by our colleges in specialties ranging from aviation to robotics.
As the economic significance and impact of technology increases, it is essential that we enhance the range and quality of the programs we offer. Therefore, I am pleased to announce today a new $4-million fund that will provide additional revenue to our colleges so they might improve existing programs and to enable them to develop new programs to meet emerging needs.
Today’s announcement is an important step in strengthening technological training in our schools, in our post-secondary institutions and in the workplace. I am confident that the initiatives currently under way at all levels of education, and in a wide range of training options, will ensure that Ontario has the skilled people it needs to remain competitive in the global economy of the 1990s and beyond.
Mr B. Rae: It is rather an extraordinary announcement from the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. He puts us, in the opposition, literally in an impossible position. and it makes it very difficult for us to respond, but not impossible.
I do not know how we are supposed to respond to a statement from the minister in which he says he has a report in his hand, he can assure us the report is very good and very positive, and he can assure us it does all kinds of wonderful things with respect to Harbourfront, but unfortunately he cannot show it to us. We simply have to take him at his word that the minister and Elmer MacKay alone are able to see a report, enough of which, I might say, has been leaked to the press that the press seems to be ahead of everybody else in terms of the information that it has.
If it is good enough for people within his ministry, or indeed elsewhere, to leak information to the press, that information ought to be made available to the members of this House. We ought to have an opportunity to assess for ourselves whether or not the government has met the tests which it set out on 13 December when it imposed a ministerial zoning order on the Harbourfront lands.
It is now accepted throughout Ontario, I think, that governments generally have blown a golden opportunity with Toronto’s Harbourfront, that building has been excessive and that the greed of developers has exceeded the public interest and the common interest. It is very difficult for many people even to get down and see the water because the water is blocked by all the buildings that have been put up.
I am not satisfied with the minister’s statement today. He has obviously put himself in an embarrassing position, announcing that the government has done a wonderful thing. It is so wonderful that they cannot show it to us. If the minister is going to make this kind of statement, he has an obligation to release the report. That is the very least he could do.
Mr Laughren: I wish to respond to the statement by the Minister of Education, Colleges and Universities and Skills Development. The last part of the minister’s statement is the most important one: “Staff from my ministry will be contacting colleges with details of this year’s operating grants in the corning days.” That is the only really important part of the statement, because if you start analysing the numbers, with 21,000 Ontarians receiving skills training through the Ministry of Colleges and Universities in 1989, according to the minister’s numbers, that works out to $200 per student that is being injected into the system. I do not think that is going to be adequate to solve the problem.
It is strange that for the second week in a row, I think just on the eve of the release of the Vision 2000 report, which is supposed to be taking the colleges to the year 2000, the minister is standing in his place and making statements. It will be interesting to see when that report comes out whether or not the minister is pre-empting that report, because a lot of hard volunteer work has gone into that, a co-operative enterprise on behalf of the faculty, the colleges themselves and, of course, by the Council of Regents. It will be very interesting to see just what comes out of that report.
There are very serious problems in our community colleges. The minister need only listen to the discussions going on at Humber, Cambrian and other colleges in the system to know that much more work needs to be done in our colleges. There needs to be a new injection of funds into our community colleges.
Mr Laughren: I know the Treasurer resists that, but he should go and talk to the people on the Premier’s Council and see what they think about the level of funding being provided to the post-secondary institutions in our province. It is truly shameful and inadequate.
Mr Harris: I want to respond to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. On this historic day when the member for Nickel Belt agrees with his leader, it is appropriate that I agree with his leader as well.
Here we are with three stated objectives that, quite frankly, I agree with. They are objectives the minister set out, and I agree with those objectives. But as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the minister for some reason or other thinks it is important to rise in the House to say, “Look, I set out to do these three things and I want to assure you all I have accomplished that, but I will not show you the report.”
Usually that occurs when there is a considerable amount of doubt from some people about whether the objectives in the report have been met. What you do is secretly try to get a deal with all the key players behind closed doors so they will all agree before you allow the public an opportunity to take a look. Is it not the whole objective that it is the public’s waterfront? Why are we so afraid to let the public judge whether the minister has met the three objectives?
Secondly, I object very strongly that, while that report is secret, we have to wait another 30 days to comment on it. I would make a suggestion -- I am not sure if the Leader of the Opposition was making it -- that if the minister is going to leak things to the media and he makes a deal not to give it to us, why does he not just leak it to us as well? At least then we will be on the same footing.
I want to say three or four things. I find it appalling that while this minister and this government are quick to criticize others -- and I applaud the criticism of the waterfront -- they are going ahead and taking green space off the waterfront. The Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital is a totally provincial project, green space, open land, on the waterfront, and this government is going to fill it up with housing. It is going to proceed with a dump in the Rouge, which eventually ends up down on our waterfront. They refuse to protect the headwaters of the Rouge north of Steeles Avenue, which is going to end up on our waterfront. The Whitevale dump where the creeks are rolling by -- and they refuse to have a full environmental assessment on that -- that is all going to end up down on our waterfront.
Mr Harris: The government cancelled the one program in existence that was effective in 1985 to encourage and assist municipalities to reclaim their waterfront. The first thing they did when they got into office was to cancel that program -- not much commitment on things they have control over towards waterfront reclamation for the people.
Mrs Cunningham: Regarding the announcement of enhanced support for college technology programs by the minister of all education, I would expect any money that would offer our young people additional opportunities for training beyond what they have now so we can be competitive in a global economy is extremely appreciated.
The real problem with this is the process. What happened to Vision 2000? Was that not a public process where we asked volunteers from community colleges, the education systems and universities to advise the government on what should happen next? What is this focused or targeted funding all about? No one really understands the statement today.
What we really need are more opportunities for young people to be trained. I am not certain about the faculty training. Of course, that is important, but right now the ministry should know that between 1983 and 1988, college enrolment in technological programs declined by 25 per cent. If this money is an opportunity for more young people to be educated in technological programs, if it will extend into apprenticeship training, then I am all in favour of it. But we do not know that. I think the process is wrong when the minister drops all this money in the House today without telling us specifically what it is for. This is what the government is all about.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Treasurer. I asked the Treasurer some questions -- I wonder whether he will recall -- on 15 and 16 November. I specifically asked him certain questions with respect to the relationship between the goods and services tax being imposed by Ottawa and the sales tax, which has been a long-standing source of provincial revenues.
When I suggested to the Treasurer that under the Ontario budget an incredible amount of money was going to be taxed under the GST that would not be covered by the sales tax, the Treasurer very explicitly told me, “It is not our policy to tax those things.” When I began to raise questions about the possibility of harmonizing the GST and the sales tax, he said very explicitly that I was tilting at windmills and that there was no such plan by the government.
I wonder whether the Treasurer can tell me, first, whether that is still the case; that is, is the government planning or contemplating any change in the base of the sales tax? Second, can he explain why Martin Goldfarb’s organization is apparently asking citizens of this province how they would feel about a reduction of the sales tax from eight per cent to six per cent and a very serious expansion of the base of the sales tax to make it similar to the GST?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The government, and certainly the Treasurer and the Treasury, is not contemplating a change in the sales tax. How come he asked two questions under the one order, Mr Speaker? But since you have said that is in order, I really do not know why Mr Goldfarb is conducting this investigation. Probably somebody has hired him to do it.
Mr B. Rae: I do not know either who Mr Goldfarb is doing the poll for, except it is a matter of record that Mr Goldfarb is a pollster for the Liberal Party of Ontario, he also does a lot of polling for the government of Ontario and he does a lot of polling for a variety of ministries. I do know that.
The information we have is that specific questions with respect to the relationship between the sales tax and the GST have been asked and they relate very explicitly to the fact that on page 101 of the Treasurer’s last budget, in terms of the papers, he himself established just how much money Ontario is leaving untaxed because the sales tax does not apply to a number of items upon which the GST applies. I ask the Treasurer if he can explain how it would be that Mr Goldfarb would be asking these questions if, indeed, the government has no such plans.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Treasurer can tell us how it is that his position has changed so dramatically with respect to the question of his willingness to collect or not to collect the GST, to work for and with the federal government or not to work for and with the federal government. Can the Treasurer tell us categorically in the House today whether the government of Ontario is going to do what he himself suggested should be done, and that is that the federal and provincial governments should work together in terms of the collecting of the sales tax and the GST? Is that still the Treasurer’s position or has he now invented another pre-election position?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The cynicism of the Leader of the Opposition never fails to amaze me, and the fact that his memory is failing is probably not surprising. But the honourable member would know that a year ago the Minister of Finance for Canada phoned me and the other treasurers and said he was proceeding independently, without provincial co-operation or otherwise. Frankly, it was quite a relief as far as we are concerned, because he has gone forward with every intention to use the majority of the Progressive Conservative Party in the Parliament of Canada to implement the GST.
We have no plans to expand the base of our tax. The only additional thing I have said to the taxpayers and to the retailers is that if we can send on the tax money that is collected at identically the same time as our own is collected, we would like to be as helpful as possible. This does not mean the expansion of our base in any way. We do not intend to collect tax for haircuts, dry-cleaning or any of the many other areas where the government of Canada. with its intrusive tax, is going to proceed.
Mr B. Rae: My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions. It is my information that William Star not only received a phone call from the minister’s executive assistant with respect to the question of the letter that he wrote to the Premier and to the Minister of Financial Institutions, but that after he wrote this letter and had been contacted by Mr Howard for the first time, he also received a phone call from an examiner from the Ministry of Financial Institutions, who called to ask the name of the shareholder of Mr Star’s company. Mr Star, having no idea as to why or how this information could or would be used by the ministry, agreed to give this information to the examiner and quite voluntarily gave this information to the ministry. It was after this that Mr Howard phoned the shareholder of Mr Star’s company with respect to holding back the publication of the letter which was critical of the government.
Can the explain why information gathered by his ministry, not by his political staff but by his ministry officials, the civil service, the public service of Ontario, was used in this way against Mr Star?
Hon Mr Elston: I do not know that the honourable gentleman’s facts are correct, but I will check into them to see what in fact has occurred. I do know that with respect to the issue of pressure by my office, I am satisfied that no pressure was exerted. It is my view that the insurance industry, which the members opposite have said we have knuckled under to all along, is well able to withstand any phone calls that might be made by a particular individual. That is not to say that I have asked my staff people to do that or anything, or that I condone any impression that may be left that pressure is being placed by my staff or otherwise. But I can tell the honourable gentleman that his question flies in the face of the presentations made by the member for Welland-Thorold, who says the insurance industry has us around the neck, so to speak. I can tell him that his alleging that one person in this government can pressure unduly the large insurance corporations flies in the face of their logic.
Mr B. Rae: What this issue is about is the abuse of power by the Liberal government and its attempt to manipulate this whole business, so that anybody who is critical of the Liberal Party or who steps out of line with what the Liberal Party wants and what the Liberal machine wants gets sat on. That is what this is all about; that is what the issue is here.
If minister has conducted such a thorough inquiry, how is it that a simple phone call from a member of my staff to Mr Star would reveal the very basic piece of information which I have just passed to the minister? Has the minister phoned either the shareholder or Mr Star to inquire as to the activities of his executive assistant? Has he, yes or no?
Hon Mr Elston: I have not spoken to Mr Star. He prefers to do communication through the media, and that is how he has been doing it. I have not called the shareholder, but I had indicated that I would be writing to the gentleman in question to offer the apology of my office in case there is some sense that pressure was exerted. But I am not going to be calling lest there be some sense that I am providing some undue pressure on the insurance industry.
I have obligations to deal with the insurance industry on behalf of the consumers. I am asked from time to time to exert the influence of my office on behalf of the people over there who want their constituents to have lower premiums. My staff and I will call and attempt to deal with those issues. In this particular case there has been no attempt to prevent Mr Star from doing whatever he wants. In fact, he does that; he is very independent. More than that, there is a whole series of independent oppositions to the bill, and the members opposite help to substantiate and encourage their activities. That is their job as an opposition.
Mr B. Rae: What kind of inquiry has the minister conducted? He told us yesterday that we did not need a legislative committee because he had been Supersleuth and had worked this entire thing out. The minister has just told us he has not spoken to Mr Star, the individual in question who was phoned; he has not spoken to the shareholder in the United States, who was also phoned. He was entirely unaware that Mr Star had also been contacted by his ministry officials asking him to give them information about the company. Just what kind of inquiry did the minister have in order to satisfy himself that no pressure was involved?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman asks if I was satisfied about whether or not there was pressure unduly exerted by my office. I can tell him that because he suggests my staff person did something, or because a person who has indicated a certain position with respect to government involvement in auto insurance at all suggests that certain things were done, I am not going to then start running around calling people, because the next accusation will be that the Minister of Financial Institutions is exerting undue influence by calling shareholders and other people. That is the type of opposition politics they would play.
I have satisfied myself that there was no intention to exert influence or pressure; in fact, there was merely an inquiry as to circumstances around which Mr Star was demanding, on a very short time line, a reply to his letter. I am satisfied that there was no desire to exert pressure. In fact, I have said that I will be writing a letter which will be very clear in its terms, that I am offering an apology for the fact that an impression was left. I do not believe that there was any pressure applied at all but, in fairness, I think a letter is the best way to ensure that my --
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The minister may recall that I raised a question with respect to children’s mental health services in the province and my concern over the growing waiting lists that were developing in that field of government activity. The minister may be aware that many actions are being taken, not necessarily by his government with respect to the grants that it provides to these mental health centres and to children’s services generally but by the Treasurer, that are impacting negatively on some of these services by costing them more money. Has the minister analysed what these additional costs are doing to these centres, how they are aggravating waiting lists and depriving some of these children of critically and badly needed services?
Hon Mr Beer: We work very closely with all the agencies that we fund and review with them the various pressures that are on them. I think it is perhaps important and useful to note that the funding we have provided to those centres over the last four or five years has gone up some $30 million, and that is something in the order of $18 million over and above inflation. As we look at how we are funding those agencies, we do look at all the different factors that come about because of various budgetary changes and try to ensure that we can help those centres and provide them with the funding that will allow them to better meet their responsibilities.
Mr Brandt: The increases are relatively misleading, and I know that the minister is giving accurate figures other than that he is leaving some of them out. I want to refer the minister to a letter that I received from the Beechgrove Children’s Centre, which serves the area of Kingston, Brockville, Belleville and Smiths Falls in eastern Ontario. In that instance -- and I am only giving the minister one example of what the actions of his government are doing with respect to this particular facility -- the employer health levy is going to cost an additional $23,000 annually; pay equity is going to cost another $43,000 to this particular institution. The increase on the part of the staff was reasonable; there was a five per cent increase, but that comes to another $30,000. In all, when one adds up these particular costs and passes through the minister’s 4.5 per cent increase, the result is they are going to have to cut three staff positions. Is that how the minister improves children’s services in this province, by cutting staff positions?
Hon Mr Beer: It certainly is not, and I think the record speaks for the fact that we have been putting funding into this sector and that through meetings with them, through their executive, we have set out a series of issues that are facing them and are trying to see how we can, in the normal budgetary process, help them to meet that particular problem.
I would have to come back to the honourable member and say what I said the other day, that it does not help in our funding of those agencies and others in the children’s area when we learn, only in the last number of weeks, that we are losing some $160 million which we would have been able to receive under the Canada assistance plan. One of the reasons we shifted the programs into our ministry so we could obtain Canada assistance plan funds was precisely because it would make those dollars go further -- they would be 50-50 dollars -- we were able, from 1987 until this last fiscal year, to add something in the order of $25 million to that sector. But obviously that has an impact on our ability to continue with that kind of expansion.
We have also said in our meetings with the executive that we are going to go forward in meeting issues around the salaries of employees and around the waiting lists. We may not be able to do that as quickly as we would have liked, because of these cuts, but l think when the member looks at the record of this government he will see that each year we have increased the funding to this sector over and above inflation.
Mr Brandt: I truly believe the minister has lost sight of the level of crisis that is occurring with respect to these services. The Beechgrove centre has a waiting list today of 300 children who are going without badly needed services, not as a result of federal cuts, but as a result of programs his government has passed on to these local institutions. Another 100 young children who are going to be put on a waiting list. The minister is aggravating a problem which is bad now; it is going to get worse in the future. He knows full well there are some 10,000 children on waiting lists in this province. It is not good enough to simply blame the feds. What is the minister going to do about it?
Hon Mr Beer: We will continue to do what we have been doing, which is dealing with children’s services and putting money into that sector in a way that the member’s federal cousins have not been doing. Those are facts.
The other point I would make to my honourable friend is that he should not be led or lulled into dealing with the broad area of children’s services by looking at only one sector. The way we are going to deal with this issue and have a real impact on providing the services to the kids who need it is by bringing all those sectors together and dealing with the real problems.
We do not dispute for a moment that those are not real problems, but I think the member has to look at the record of this government in working with children’s mental health centres, children’s aid societies and family and counselling agencies over the last four or five years to see that we have been in there with them trying to help them. We have just lost $160 million, which does not make that task any easier, but our commitment remains and we are working with the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres to resolve those issues.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. Later today I will be tabling several thousand petitions related to the no-fault auto insurance proposal brought forward by this government. The minister, we know, represents seniors around the cabinet table in this province. I would like to know from him today what representations he has received from seniors with respect to this legislation.
Hon Mr Elston: We have just been through a series of extended hearings wherein a number of people have made representations, including some seniors’ groups. Members might know that there have been some very positive comments from some of those people and that there have been some mixed concerns expressed by various seniors in the province.
The member knows, from having attended the hearings, and I know, from having reviewed the briefs, that positive effects of the bill have been seen by some seniors, and some seniors have raised concerns, just like other people who have seen the bill.
That is what we have heard from seniors. I can say, without concern, that we have had a number of letters from some seniors’ organizations which would express some concerns, but not a condemnation of the legislation.
Mr Runciman: I am astonished by the referral of this question. Obviously there is no advocate for seniors in this Liberal cabinet. If the minister supposedly responsible does not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up today in this House and say what he is doing on behalf of the seniors of this province, all the members of that cabinet and all the members of that government should be hanging their heads in shame.
If that was the case, and since the minister supposedly responsible does not have the guts to stand up here, I want to direct my supplementary to the Minister for Financial Institutions. What about volunteers in society, the people working for Meals on V/heels, the people driving cancer patients? The minister is attacking those individuals; he is discouraging them from providing volunteers for much-needed services in this province.
Hon Mr Elston: The after-dinner speaker was great in his theatrics but, as usual, he failed to provide people with a sense of the bill and its contents. For the first, time senior citizens in Ontario will receive, in the no-fault portion of the insurance, $185 per week. That is an increase over the previous amount under no-fault, which was zero. There will be an increased benefit there. There will be increased efficiency in making payments early, between 10 days and 30 days. There will be increased attention paid to supplementary medical and rehabilitation services. There will be increases allowed for long-term care.
This honourable gentleman will know that there are people in the senior citizens’ community who recognize those as very good and sound increases in benefits. In addition, the people in the senior citizens’ community recognize the member for Carleton East as the finest of the finest of the people who are in the cabinet and they appreciate the advocacy which he and all of us in the cabinet are providing on behalf of improving services, not only in auto insurance but in all facets of life dealing with senior citizens in the province. I find the diatribe which we were just experiencing from the member for Leeds-Grenville as being unworthy of this House.
Mr Runciman: I have a great deal of respect for the member for Carleton East as well, but I want to say that when he supposes we have to believe he is representing seniors’ interests in this province, and he is not prepared to stand up in this House and indicate what kind of representations he has had or what kind of input he has had around the cabinet table with respect to the concerns of seniors in this province, it is a sorry day indeed.
Many of them are living on pensions. Because of the minister’s legislation they are not going to have recourse to the courts for non-economic loss. Let’s hear a satisfactory response to that with respect to all the seniors who have those legitimate concerns out there across the province, which he is trying to trivialize here today.
Hon Mr Elston: We have taken into consideration the representations of a number of people with respect to the bill. We have heard from them. When we were trying to deal with clause-by-clause on the bill, we suffered through almost two full days of “brief opening statements” by the opposition parties. There were four speakers -- I got about three or four minutes in there as well -- and we did not even get to clause 1. That is the type of activity that these people have been promoting in the House. If they wonder whether or not we should get on with business, we are prepared to get on --
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. The 650 tenant families at 5000 Jane St and 4001 Steeles Avenue West in North York have been told by their landlord, NHD Developments Ltd, that their rents will increase by 52 per cent in 1990 due to both land rental increases and capital expenditures. NHD Developments Ltd is a company headed by Sam Sorbara. Antica Investments Ltd is also headed by Sam Sorbara. That company owns the land. The land rental charges at 5000 Jane St are to be increased from $82,744 per year to $720,000, a 770 per cent increase, while the land rental charges at 4001 Steeles Avenue West will go from $60,207 a year to $881,100, or a 1,363 per cent increase.
One Sorbara company is hitting another Sorbara company, and who pays? The tenants. The minister knows of all the loopholes in his rent review legislation. Here is another one. What is he prepared to do to protect tenants in this province? There are 12 of them from these buildings here in the gallery. What is he going to do to protect them from the Sorbara family?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend is aware of the fact that there is a section within the rent review legislation which requires a provable arm’s-length relationship with respect to the kinds of arrangements he just described. I will be quite happy, not only on behalf of him but also for the tenants he has spoken about, to have this particular transaction reviewed once again to be sure that it is a legitimate arm’s-length transaction. I cannot comment on whether it is or not. I know the legislation requires that. I know our rent review hearing officers will take that into consideration, and I give him my commitment to have it reviewed one more time.
Mr D. S. Cooke: We have raised case after case in this Legislature of how landlords in this province are finding the loopholes in this government’s rent review legislation, whether it is refinancing, renovations or now land rentals. Is the minister not now convinced that there are so many loopholes in the rent review legislation that it needs to be scrapped and that real rent control needs to be brought in, because that is the only thing that will protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who are out there to make bucks at the expense of ordinary people in this province?
Hon Mr Sweeney: In 1985 it was clearly recognized that there were some faults in the rent review legislation, and on that basis, my predecessor brought together landlords and tenants to rewrite the legislation, to discover from both sides where those kinds of changes ought to be made. That was done, as the member obviously knows, and we now have in place another piece of legislation.
It has been the history of this Legislature, in the 15 years that I have been here, that from time to time we find from practices out in the field that any piece of legislation does not always work as well as we, as legislators, intended it to. Consequently, we have to make amendments to that from time to time. If this proves to be one of those cases, then certainly we will review it once more.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier concerning his government’s decision to shut down the operations of the Northeastern Ontario Regional Sports Committee. After successfully co-ordinating and promoting amateur sport and the disabled games for 16 years, this organization was terminated by his government with six weeks’ notice. Interestingly enough, this group was part of the umbrella organization that opposed his cohort’s Bill 119 to take the lottery funding away from them.
In view of the fact that the government paid for a $40,000 study that stated sports councils should be not only maintained but enhanced, can the Premier explain why his government terminated this funding without adequate consultation, without notice, and totally against the recommendation of the $40,000 study that he commissioned and paid for?
Hon Mr Black: The member for Nipissing has raised an important issue, and I am pleased that he has, so I can address it. He will be aware of the fact that a study was done and made several recommendations. One of those recommendations was that the sports councils, as presently constituted, were not truly representative of all northeastern Ontario. In addition, the study recommended that if they were to continue to operate, they should do so at some arm’s length from the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, which had been providing both funding and space for them to operate.
The decision to discontinue the operation of the northeastern and northwestern sports council was a difficult one. They had done much and the members of that group had contributed significantly. However, there were some initiatives that we wanted to introduce in northern Ontario which we think are worth while and which we think will promote sports and sports activity in the north and we had to make a very difficult decision in establishing priorities.
Mr Harris: I am surprised that the Premier would refer the question to the minister, because this is the minister who, according to Grant Southwell, the president of the sports council, when he met with the minister, said, and I am quoting Grant Southwell:
“The minister responded there are certain tradeoffs that people who choose to live in northern Ontario must make. According to Mr Black, we cannot expect to receive the same amount or quality of service that the south enjoys.”
Mr Harris: How can the minister justify saying to the people of northern Ontario that there is a price we have to pay, that we cannot have the same services for living and choosing to live in the north that people in southern Ontario enjoy? How can he justify that statement to the president of the Northeastern Ontario Regional Sports Committee?
Hon Mr Black: I know the member for Nipissing is very busy these days and obviously does not have the time to research his facts properly. I have never had the opportunity of meeting with Grant Southwell, so I am not sure where the member gets his facts, but he obviously has them incorrect. This government is committed to northern Ontario. In fact, we have increased our funding significantly for the promotion of sports in northern Ontario. We have done that through three initiatives that I want to share with the members.
First, we are working with the Ontario Physical Health Education Association, which is implementing in northern Ontario a pilot program called Sportability; we believe it has tremendous potential to service all of this province, but we are instituting the program on a pilot project in northern Ontario because we want to meet the needs of the north.
Second, we have announced a new $50,000 funding program for young athletes in northern Ontario, once again a recognition that those people do need some help in order to compete satisfactorily at the provincial level; so we are instituting that program to give them specific assistance.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Treasurer. In recent weeks there have been riots across Britain objecting to what they are calling a poll tax, which has been introduced by that country’s Conservative government. I understand this is a tax on people rather than on real estate, and I understand that means a single person who might be living in a mansion pays one tax for himself or herself, but if there were six adults living in a crowded home, they would pay six times what the one person does in the mansion.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have been considering asking one of the polling organizations to review that on my behalf, but I thought maybe my reading of history would be sufficient. The last time the United Kingdom tried the poll tax was in the 13th century and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was executed for his bad judgement. lam not sure what is going to happen to the Iron Butterfly; they may need an acetylene torch for her.
Mr Owen: I have read various reports which indicate not only incredible costs are involved for the British Parliament in this transfer of tax target, but also incredible costs for the municipalities in implementing it. I know there have been recent changes by our own federal government in the way it is collecting and administering taxes. Has there been any effect on this province with regard to changes in the federal taxation programs?
Hon R. F. Nixon: There is no doubt that the imposition of the goods and services tax at the federal level is going to cause a good deal of dislocation, anxiety and difficulty for our taxpayers and certainly for our merchants and business people. It is a judgement, however, of the government of Canada, and presumably the Progressive Conservative majority in Parliament, that they should proceed with this.
I have already indicated that anything we can reasonably do to assist we are prepared to do, but we are not going into the goods and services tax. We are not contemplating expanding the base of our sales tax. The people in the province are used to the sales tax. They do not like it, they certainly do not like it, but in fact we net just under $9 billion from the tax, and that pays a lot of our bills.
Mr B. Rae: The question I have is for the Minister of the Environment. Alan Marshall is in the gallery today. Mr Marshall is an employee of Varnicolor Chemical Ltd in Elmira. He has made out an affidavit setting out certain extremely important allegations with respect to spills and chemical spills at the company. I also have an affidavit from Bert Nalhiah, who was the head of the laboratory at Varnicolor from 1986 to 1989.
Mr Nalliah has left the company, and Mr Marshall has been suspended, but neither of these individuals has any rights under the Environmental Protection Act with respect to his employment. Why is it that if somebody makes a complaint under the Labour Relations Act, his employment is guaranteed and protected under the law, but if somebody takes an action under the Environmental Protection Act making a serious allegation against his employer -- whistle-blowing, as it is called -- there is no protection in the law for whistle-blowers? Where is the protection for Mr Marshall and Mr Nalliah?
Hon Mr Bradley: The Environmental Protection Act does cover situations of this kind. We certainly are thankful, in many circumstances across the province, when employees of various firms are prepared to put forward to us information which assists us in prosecuting any particular company for a violation. We welcome that opportunity. We have had information like that provided to us by a number of different people.
It is my understanding that under section I 34b of the Environmental Protection Act, employees are protected when they give information to the ministry. The Environmental Protection Act clearly applies in the case the member refers to and has applied for a number of years now, as the former Minister of the Environment would tell the member.
Certainly our ministry will assist in any way we can, as we have with other employees who have provided information to us in similar circumstances -- information, by the way, which we believe is very useful in terms of charges being laid and prosecutions when we do further investigations.
Mr B. Rae: Mr Marshall makes several significant allegations, not only against the company but also against the ministry. It is my understanding that, as of today, the ministry has decided no charges will be laid. I am quoting from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, which said, “The Ministry of the Environment officials said the employee’s allegations ‘have been substantiated in many respects and that is why an audit is being ordered,” but there are no charges being laid against this company.
I repeat my question to the minister: Why is there no protection clearly stated in the act? It is not there. The minister says it is. He is wrong; it is not there. Why is it not clearly stated in the act that employees will be protected when they start to call and tell the truth about their employers?
“No employer shall (a) dismiss an employee; (b) discipline an employee; (c) penalize an employee; or (d) coerce or intimidate or attempt to coerce or intimidate an employee, because the employee has complied or may comply with, (e) the Environmental Assessment Act; (f) the Environmental Protection Act; (g) the Fisheries Act (Canada); (h) the Ontario Water Resources Act; or (i) the Pesticides Act, or a regulation under one of those acts or an order, term or condition, certificate of approval, licence, permit or direction under one of those acts or because the employee has sought or may seek the enforcement of one of those acts or a regulation under one of those acts or has given or may give information to the ministry or a provincial officer or has been or may be called upon to testify in a proceeding related to one of those acts or a regulation under one of those acts.”
In the specific instance the member is talking about, there is an audit or investigation going on. He would know that the ministry, for instance, visited the place seven times, I believe, in 1989 and continues to investigate.
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. On 14 August 1987 the then Minister of Housing, the member for Scarborough North, announced the Supportive Community Living demonstration project. His statement promised that this government would complete an additional 1,000 supportive units by 1990 and the modification of 2,500 existing units. Since we know that the minister’s government is committed to the pledge, “We did what we said we would do,” could she tell this House how many of these 3,500 supportive units have been built?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I do not know the exact numbers. I will certainly find out for the member. I can tell her that quite a number of affordable units, as far as the housing is concerned. have been supported by my ministry. Of course, what she probably knows is that there has to be a combination of the housing component and the supporting component, which is a responsibility of my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services. We work together on those. But I cannot tell her right now how many actually have been done; I will find out.
Mrs Marland: This is a sad day in this House. We have the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs deferring his question; we have the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons deferring her question. We have two ministers who have referred their questions this afternoon. I think that is singularly significant.
I will tell the Minister of Housing with as much grace as I can muster that this program has been cancelled. Since the program has been cancelled, and since there are 250 people on waiting lists for accessible units that provide part-time attendant care and 880 on waiting lists for accessible units without attendant care, as well as countless others who are on waiting lists for private-nonprofit housing, disabled persons have to wait between three and five years for affordable housing today in this province.
The Minister of Housing does not even know that this program was cancelled. My question is this: What is the minister prepared to do to ensure his government lives up to its promises in addressing this appalling situation?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would quarrel with the member’s contention. First of all, we have opened up Ontario Housing units to make them available for single people and disabled people. That was not available before. Second, a significant number of the nonprofit and co-op projects which we have authorized over the last couple of years do contain special units designed for disabled people.
I have just come back from a tour across the province in which I visited about 14 centres, and in every single centre I went to, I visited two or three projects that were either complete or under way. In every one of those projects, there were a number of units specifically designed for the disabled. I think the record is clear as to what this province is doing.
Ms Poole: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. According to the Saturday Toronto Star, a $2-billion expansion of Metro’s rapid transit system will be announced by the province on Thursday.
My constituents are high transit users. In fact, we have three subway stops in Eglinton: Lawrence, Eglinton and Davisville. Particularly at Eglinton and Davisville, we have a real problem with overcrowding. It is extremely frustrating to stand on the platform at rush-hour in the morning and watch train after train go by too full to allow us to get on.
The question I have for the minister is: Is it indeed true what the Toronto Star reports, that lie will be making a major announcement on Thursday? Second, if he is, what is it going to do to help my constituents in Eglinton?
Hon Mr Wrye: I can tell the honourable member we will see her on Thursday morning. She is invited to hear the results, because I know on a number of occasions the member for Eglinton has raised concerns on behalf of her constituents over the extremely difficult problem of the rush-hour congestion and the impact it is having on her constituents in the Eglinton-Davisville area, an area I know very well, having in my younger days living in Toronto used both of those stations because of where I lived. Her facts are right. The volumes are such now that trains often go through so full that people at those stations simply have to wait for four or five trains.
As part of the north Metro boundary transportation review, one of the options that was looked at, which we shall be discussing on Thursday and which we have been considering, is a looping of the Yonge-Spadina subway system somewhere in the Finch-Steeles corridor. One of the issues raised by the consultants who did the review -- a very eminent consultant in Metro, Richard Soberman, whom I know the member knows -- is that simply doing the loop would add a 10 per cent increase to the Yonge-Spadina capacity. That would mean an additional two trains in the rush-hour. That is something we are looking at very carefully.
Ms Poole: I am very encouraged to hear the minister will be making an announcement in this regard. I wonder, though, could lie give me some specific details as to how many people the system will be expanding to accommodate and, inferentially, what this will mean to my constituents in Eglinton?
Hon Mr Wrye: I ask the honourable member, who I know has travelled the line and travelled Out of those stations, to contemplate the impact of adding somewhere in the range of 3,000 or 3,500 additional capacity spaces through those two trains on a per-hour basis. As well, one of the ancillary issues that a loop, if proceeded with, might solve is it might add to the utilization of the Spadina portion of the Yonge-Spadina system, which is now the only portion of the system which even in rush hour is at times underutilized.
Certainly, the major problem is on Yonge Street. We expect cross-Metro-boundary capacity increases of up to 110,000 people a day, every day, in both directions by the year 2010, and obviously we have to find solutions to address that emerging need.
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. A Metropolitan Toronto nonprofit child care centre by the name of McMurrich Sprouts is being forced to ask 10 subsidized kids to withdraw from child care because it can no longer afford to keep them. It is estimated that up to 1,000 children in the Metro day care system are similarly at risk.
Why? Because the provincial contribution to Metro day care costs, rather than meeting the 30 per cent that is obligated by the Canada assistance plan, stands now at 23 per cent of the costs of the subsidized day care spaces in Toronto. When is the minister going to begin to pay the full provincial share of day care costs in Toronto and relieve these children in particular of the risk in which they stand?
Hon Mr Beer: I am not aware of the specific instance that my honourable friend raises and will certainly look into it. But I want to point out to him that over the last four or five years we have increased significantly the subsidized spaces in Metropolitan Toronto, which now stand, I believe, at over 19,000. We participate fully with Metropolitan Toronto, and in terms of the funding for child care in the province, which five years ago was $89 million, we now put into Metro alone over $100 million. I think that is a significant amount of money.
Recently I met with the Metro chairman, the mayor of Toronto and other senior officials from the Metropolitan area to look at some of their specific problems around subsidies and around their purchase of service area. It is my belief that we will shortly be able to move forward and meet the difficulties that they encountered there. I think we will continue to work with them, and I would be very hopeful that the kind of situation the member raises will not recur.
Mr Allen: There are multiple problems that afflict day care in the province and particularly in Metro Toronto. But I want to address the minister to an interesting and puzzling wrinkle. He is not the only one who is not paying the full share of the overall day care costs in Metropolitan Toronto. The federal government also is paying only 38 per cent as against the 50 per cent that should be its share. However, it is interesting that the ministry of which this minister is in charge refuses to pass on the extra amount that the Metro Toronto government pays, namely, $18 million, in full funding of subsidized spaces, which it is not normally obligated to do.
The minister and the ministry could pass that money on and get 50 per cent refund from the federal government if it would do that, but the ministry officials keep saying, “We don’t intend to play bookkeeper in this particular game.” Is it not perhaps time to rise above the question of playing games of bookkeeper and actually working out some arrangements to pass on those charges and get 50 per cent of that money back, namely, $9 million, to address some of the subsidized spaces that are at risk?
Hon Mr Beer: I think the honourable member would agree that what we have to do, in looking at the funding of this whole area, is work co-operatively and positively with the municipal level of government as well as with the federal government. In our view, it would be most irresponsible if we simply took the request from Metro Toronto or any other municipality and passed it on.
One of our major concerns about the Canada assistance plan was to ensure that it not be cut and that we act responsibly, which is precisely why I sat down with the Metro chairman and others to look very directly at that particular problem. I believe that we have come to an arrangement which is going to be very positive for Metro Toronto.
In terms of the federal funding and what we are going to lose as a result of the cuts in CAP, we are waging that battle on a number of fronts. I think it is very important that the province and the municipal level of government sit down to work out what we believe is the appropriate level of child care spaces and what we are going to subsidize, and then it is critical that the federal government come to the table and pay its proper amount. But I cannot say to my honourable colleague that we are going to meet the specific problem that Metro Toronto has in this area.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The minister will remember a letter I sent to him recently regarding closures of parks, the St Lawrence parks in eastern Ontario. Last year, he shortened the season and put up the rates for the users of the parks. This year, five parks are being closed completely. How can the parks commission or his ministry say that the closure of five out of IS parks enhances tourism in eastern Ontario?
Hon Mr Black: I would like to clarify for the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry that the decision to close the five parks in question was made not by my ministry but by the St Lawrence Parks Commission which, as he knows, is an arm’s-length agency.
I would also like to stress to him, as he well knows again, that the members of the St Lawrence Parks Commission are people who live and work in the communities of eastern Ontario. They are people who understand and appreciate the problems there. The decision to close those parks was a difficult one, but in fact the St Lawrence Parks Commission, in trying to see how it could carry out its responsibilities in a cost-effective way, made that very difficult decision.
I should also share with the member the fact that of the five parks that have been closed, as he would know, approximately three of them may well be opened by this summer as communities take on that responsibility after negotiations with the commission.
Mr Villeneuve: These are prime waterfront properties in eastern Ontario and we will not allow them to grow weeds and brush. The St Lawrence Parks Commission Act says, “It is the duty of the commission to develop, control, manage, operate and maintain the parks.” That does not sound like closing them.
In the standing committee on public accounts, it says “to acquire, preserve, develop and maintain historic sites, to operate to a high standard of excellence, to encourage and promote tourism in the area, to operate historic sites, camping facilities, etc.” There is nothing in there that says “closing down; it is “to encourage and promote.” Does the minister feel the mandate of the commission is to close down a third of its parks?
Hon Mr Black: Let me share with the member and with his colleagues some facts and figures. Let me tell him, for example, that the park at Farran, which is one of the parks in question, had a 27 per cent occupancy rate last summer. Let me tell him that the park at Brown’s Bay --
I want to tell him also that his colleagues the member for Simcoe East and the member for Leeds-Grenville were members of committees which looked at the operation of the St Lawrence Parks Commission, and both of those committee studies recommended that they be operated in a cost-effective way. Our government is committed to spending taxpayers’ dollars wisely.
If members of the third party do not care about how taxpayers dollars are spent, I want them to know that we do care. We did not achieve a balanced budget in this government by frittering away taxpayers’ dollars.
Many of my constituents, having heard the recent announcement concerning the new health cards, have been calling my office to make inquiries. I wonder if the minister can tell the constituents of Ottawa West how and when they will be receiving their new health cards.
Every household in Ontario will get a health card information form approximately mid-April, around the 17th, with instructions on how to fill it out and room for approximately 10 people to be on the same application form. There will also be additional information, and a return envelope will be included. We are hopeful that everyone will complete the form within two weeks. If they have any questions, they can call the ministry office. The phone number will be on the form. People should be receiving their new cards six to eight weeks after they have sent the form back to the ministry.
Mr Chiarelli: The minister mentioned that there will be information that needs to be provided in the application form. I am sure the minister is aware of the fact that a number of people and press reports have indicated there is a question of infringement of personal privacy with respect to the application form. Can the minister assure the House and the residents of Ottawa West that individual privacy will not be violated through this process?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, protection of personal privacy is a priority for the ministry and for myself. I want to tell the member and all members of this House of the special steps that the ministry has taken to enhance and ensure protection of personal privacy.
A person’s name, age, address, sex and identifying information will be kept in a separate data bank with confidentiality provisions maintained, as we do now. A separate data bank for all health information and services will be kept separately. They will not be tied together. Only these data without the names attached will be made available for planning purposes. This is an enhancement over what exists today. Today, when you have one number for a whole family, the opportunity to separate these data out for planning purposes is more difficult.
Miss Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour concerning the compensation case for Gojko Toljagic. He was employed as a caretaker at North Toronto Collegiate for 22 1/2 years. In October 1989 he died from mesothelioma, which is almost always exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. The Workers’ Compensation Board has denied the claim and said that in fact he would not have any exposure to asbestos.
Stan Gray, the director of the Ontario Workers Health Centre, is actually handling the claim, and it was his staff who went into that school and did the inspection regarding the asbestos problem. On 8 January he delivered to the Ministry of Labour 19 pictures, a lab report and a videotape showing all the asbestos in that school.
The ministry has all the evidence to prove that the asbestos was there and that the worker had extreme exposure to it. I want to know why the Minister of Labour has not forced the board to accept this claim.
Hon Mr Phillips: I do not force the board to accept any claim. They have a process that they follow, which is a thorough process, including access to outside resources to review situations like this, and there is a well structured process for review and for appeals. I am sure the members of the House will appreciate that the minister does not force the board to do things when there is this well structured appeal process that the Legislature had developed, including the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. I do not involve myself in a case where, as I say, we have a well developed process to follow.
Mr B. Rae: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I had an exchange last week with the Minister of Revenue concerning the so-called secret tax agreement between the car rental companies and the Ministry of Revenue. The minister assured me on Wednesday that in fact the tax was being withdrawn.
I have a Rent A Car agreement from Sunday that was reached at the Sudbury airport and it still shows the 8.3 per cent tax. When I raised it with the representative of Hertz Rent A Car, she said that she had never heard of Remo Mancini but she did --
“Whereas the Ontario Child and Family Services Act has resulted in children being exposed to physical, mental and emotional risks because they have been permitted to make decisions and accept responsibilities beyond their capabilities; and
‘Therefore, we as concerned adults in this province respectfully request that the Ontario Child and Family Services Act be amended in order to give control of adolescence back to responsible adults and stop this chaos that enables our young people to destroy their lives.”
“Whereas the legislation will result in the innocent victim being treated no better than the negligent driver responsible for the injuries and removes the right for victims to seek compensation from negligent and dangerous drivers;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to express to the Liberal government our great disapproval of its policies concerning automobile insurance and request that Bill 68 be withdrawn.”
Mr Runciman: Today I will be tabling approximately 7,500 petitions of residents of this province opposed to Bill 68. So that I do not violate the rules of the House, I am going to deposit these on the minister’s desk myself.
“We urge you not to proceed with this legislation as it reads currently. Section 27(o)(4) must be deleted and section 27(o)(1 1) should be replaced so that unregulated practitioners are not prohibited from diagnosing a client’s condition.”
“We, the undersigned, hereby register our deep concern and outrage over the provisions of the new Ontario motorist protection plan. We respectfully request that the Legislature consider substantial amendment of or complete rejection of the Ontario motorist protection plan as presently proposed.
“Whereas the Peterson government has made it clear that they want this legislation rammed through, notwithstanding that people across Ontario have made it clear that they want this bad legislation dumped;
“Whereas there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to David Peterson’s promise in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates, because once this legislation is passed by the Liberals auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent, according to Minister of Financial Institutions, Murray Elston;
“Whereas the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation will provide enormous taxpayers’ subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry, costing the Ontario taxpayer at least $141 million in the first year alone;
“Whereas this insurance legislation will create a $1-billion payday for the auto insurance industry at the expense of taxpayers, drivers and innocent injured victims, these people will be forced to pay more and they will get less;
This petition, as were the thousands of petitions that were presented just a few minutes ago by my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold, has been signed by residents of the province of Ontario. I have signed it and endorse it and hope that the government will act upon it today.
Mr Harris: I first of all rise to correct the record on my last petition. I indicated it was signed by over 1,000 people. It was signed by just 42 of the faculty of social work at the University of Toronto.
Mr Harris: The confusion came in because I have a second petition which is different from the first petition, and it is signed by 971 people. I would like, if I may, in rapid, staccato fashion to briefly summarize:
“Because of the number of accidents and fatalities at the junction of highways 11 and 17E, we, the undersigned, insist that an overpass be made a top priority. In the meantime, we would like to see safety measures taken, such as better signs. This junction is dangerous in itself. Combined with adverse weather and road conditions as well as a heavy flow of traffic, it can often be perilous.”
“Whereas the Ontario Child and Family Services Act has resulted in children being exposed to physical, mental and emotional risks because they have been permitted to make decisions and accept responsibilities beyond their maturity; and
“Therefore, we as concerned adults in this province respectfully request that the Ontario Child and Family Services Act be amended in order to give control of adolescents back to responsible adults and stop this chaos that enables our young people to destroy their lives.”
“Whereas there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to David Peterson’s promise of 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates, because once this legislation is passed by the Liberals, auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent according to the Minister of Financial Institutions.”
“Whereas the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation will provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry, costing the Ontario taxpayer at least $140 million in the first year alone, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
Miss Martel: In the time remaining, I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows. The petitioners are concerned that Bill 68 is legislation that makes tragic changes to the rights of innocent, injured motor vehicle victims. The Peterson government made it very clear; the legislation was rammed through, and they wanted it rammed through, notwithstanding that the majority of Ontarians think it is bad legislation. Bill 68 does nothing to respond to David Peterson’s claim in Cambridge in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance rates. In fact, this Liberal government, by this legislation, is going to provide an enormous payout to the auto Insurance industry in this province.
Also, it is going to deprive innocent injured victims of at least $823 million in compensation that should logically go to them. It is going to create a $1 billion payday for the industry and, “Whereas the Peterson Liberals have refused to listen to the hundreds of submissions made to them calling upon them to abandon the legislation, we the undersigned” -- and there are a number of signatories – “request, in fact, that Peterson and his Liberal government end this sellout of taxpayers, drivers and victims and that they immediately withdraw Bill 68.”
Mr Kormos: I know how the Speaker always prefers that I summarize the preamble, so I will. This is a lengthy preamble. Summarized, what it says is that the people across Ontario say that Bill 68, the insurance legislation, is just incredibly bad legislation. It was written by the insurance industry for the insurance industry, for the profitability of the insurance industry and this bad legislation --
Mr Wildman: The purpose of the bill is to include wood-burning furnaces and stoves and other devices in the definition of an “appliance” and accordingly make them subject to regulation under the Energy Act.
Mr Sterling: Under our present laws a person can appoint someone else to act on his or her behalf regarding business affairs. I am proposing a durable power of attorney with respect to consent and withdrawal of consent to medical treatment. It is an idea borrowed from the United States, where all 50 American states have durable power of attorney legislation. More recently two Canadian provinces, Quebec and Nova Scotia, have also recognized the need for this legislation.
The durable power of attorney will provide that the authority given to a representative continue in spite of the incapacity of the person giving that authority, and will allow an individual to appoint someone to make a medical decision on his or her behalf when he or she is not in a position to do so.
Mr Sterling: This bill deals with living wills and is called the Natural Death Act. A living will is a document which is signed by an individual and witnessed, which directs that if the individual is ever in a terminal condition due to an injury or illness and is unable to communicate his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, then the treatment is to be discontinued. Its essence is that life-sustaining procedures should not be used to artificially prolong life.
There are several advantages to this legislation. It makes it clear that anyone withholding life-sustaining procedures pursuant to the act is not civilly liable. It reaffirms the right of the patient to decide on his or her own medical treatment, and it offers the benefit of clarity as to the wishes of the patient. Not everyone has someone to speak on their behalf in such situations. For those who have no one, this is a method of expressing their intent.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order on this motion. The point of order will be dealing with standing orders 1(a) and 1(b) and 45, and it is the position that we will be taking as a caucus that notice of motion 30 is out of order. These types of points of order have been raised in the past. I think there are new and additional points to consider on this motion. It is also the first time that a closure motion has been brought in since the new rules have gone into effect a year ago.
First of all, perhaps I might look at some of the background of time allocation or closure motions in this Legislature. Mr Speaker, I think you as a long-standing member of the Legislature will recognize that time allocation or closure motions in the past have been very rare, rarely used by the government of the day. However, since 1987 this procedure has become almost routine for this government.
The government now treats time allocation motions, even though they are not provided for in our standing orders, as routine. Its position can be interpreted by us, and is interpreted by us, as a government that wants to use its 93 members to get whatever it, as the majority, wants through, and if it has to use time allocation or closure, it will use it as often as it feels like using it. I think that each and every time the time allocation and closure motions are brought in they need to be examined by the Speaker, need to be considered by the Speaker as they relate to our rules and precedents that have been set.
I have stated on behalf of this caucus in the past that we are not totally opposed to the use, under any circumstances, of time allocation motions. In fact, as has been pointed out and was pointed out by myself, we have on one occasion supported a time allocation motion when it was introduced by the government, and that was when we were dealing with Bill 94, the bill to ban extra-billing. It was our position at the time, and I think it was an appropriate position, that to not bring in time allocation in that circumstance to end the filibuster that was occurring in the Legislature was to give a mixed message to the people of the province, and specifically the doctors.
We were in the midst of a medical and health care crisis, and by not ending the debate on Bill 94 we were encouraging the strike by doctors across this province to continue. So I think there was a very real and appropriate judgement that in that case it was appropriate to pass Bill 94 through the use of a time allocation motion. But I should point out that this was an extraordinary circumstance and is not something that should be seen as a normal process by this government.
We would argue that time allocation, generally speaking, is not provided for in our rules, and since the Bill 94 debate and time allocation we have rewritten the rules of this House twice. The last time they were completed was last year. Not under any of those circumstances did the government raise the issue of building in time allocation provisions in the standing orders of this House. Therefore, the government had the opportunity to negotiate it and deal with the changes in the rules, as the process normally calls for and has been the precedent in this Legislature.
Currently, the only rule we have in the standing orders that comes close to addressing the issue of time allocation is standing order 45. If the government believes that it can make a case for closure, it is our position that it should be making that case for closure under standing order 45, which is in fact the straight closure motion that has been in the orders for quite some time.
Of even more concern to this caucus is the constant additions that this government is putting into the time allocation motions. When we dealt with Bill 94, the time allocation motion was a straight time allocation motion. When we dealt with the Sunday shopping bills, it added the additional feature of dealing with two bills at once. When we dealt with Bill 162 on the time allocation motion, the government dealt with the additional feature of all the amendments being deemed to be moved in committee of the whole, even if they had not been moved and even if they had not been debated. That, we argued at the time, was a dangerous precedent. With this time allocation motion on Bill 68, that same provision is in place. I will go into our concern about the amendments being dealt with in that manner in the next few moments.
I also want to point out that yesterday the government was prepared to table a changed time allocation motion which, even though it has been withdrawn, demonstrates the fear in our caucus that time allocation motions are being used by this government to abrogate the standing orders that have been agreed to in a consensual way by all three parties. The time allocation motion being considered by the government yesterday, in addition to having what is in the motion we are considering today, had this additional paragraph:
“That on each day on which the House meets following the passage of this order, and until the House has disposed of all the remaining stages of the bill pursuant to this order, the House shall proceed to orders of the day no later than 4 pm and the Speaker shall interrupt any proceedings before the House for the purpose of enforcing this order.”
That demonstrates very clearly that this government, the majority party in here, is prepared to do anything to the standing orders in order to get its legislation through, even if it means changing the routine proceedings that we normally go through. If it had proceeded with that motion, our argument would have been that in effect the rules again were being changed without discussion, without consensus and in a very inappropriate way at the expense of the minority in the Legislature. While this motion was withdrawn, it again demonstrates clearly the attitude of the government, an arrogant attitude that does not respect the rights of the minority.
The rules in this place are here to protect the integrity of this institution, the rules are written and changed by consensus and the rules are here to protect debate and free debate from all members of the Legislature. The government is rewriting the rules and imposing them by motion and by the use of its majority. It is clear that the government will go to whatever extent is necessary to impose its will.
Only you, Mr Speaker, can protect the integrity of this institution. Only you can protect the rights of the minority. Under the rules we now operate under, your ruling cannot be challenged; this is the first time that this type of time allocation motion and a point of order on it has been raised since you have been given that additional power. It is going to be very interesting. It is certainly incumbent on the Speaker’s office to consider all the points we will be making in the next few moments and to understand that at least in the past the opposition parties had the right to challenge a decision by the Speaker. We no longer have that right; therefore, the obligation and the difficulty of this decision by your office and yourself is further increased.
How has Bill 68 been handled by the government to date? I think that is the most important point in terms of whether this motion is premature at this time. On 20 December a time allocation motion was brought in by the government House leader as to how this bill would be dealt with in committee. The government’s position had been that there would be no public hearings whatsoever across the province on Bill 68. Because of the pressure put on by the opposition parties, public hearings were eventually agreed to.
Keep in mind that Bill 68 is the most significant change in car insurance in the history of Ontario. It is an incredibly contentious bill. Over 50 per cent of the people in this province do not agree with the government’s position. You, Mr Speaker, must determine whether the government is trying to limit debate fairly or whether it is simply trying to end reasonable and legitimate public debate and debate within this Legislature. Again, I repeat this is the most controversial legislation dealing with auto insurance in the history of this province. It is not unusual that there would be extended and full discussion in this place and public hearings in a standing committee.
I just want to read the motion that was passed before Christmas, and I will point out as I go through this that this procedure was done by consensus. The motion that was debated and passed on 20 December was:
“The standing committee on general government to conduct public hearings on and clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, for a maximum of five weeks; that the committee be authorized to adjourn to places in Ontario for not more than six days; that the bill be reported to the House on 19 March 1990; and that in the event that the committee fails to report the said bill on the date specified, the bill shall be deemed to be passed by the committee and shall be deemed to be reported to the House and the report shall be deemed to be received and adopted by the House.”
That motion was a result of lengthy discussions in the House leaders’ panel, where this type of thing is supposed to be discussed and hammered out. I should point out as well that there was five days of debate on this bill at second reading; so up to that point, up to 20 December, the bill had been introduced for first reading, there was no discussion, the bill came in for second reading and there was five days of debate. I would submit that is not an extended period of time. In fact, there is no way that could be described as a filibuster or as opposition parties trying to hold up the government’s legislative agenda. Five days for second reading debate for the most controversial auto insurance legislation in the history of the province, I would suggest, is extremely reasonable.
Mr D. S. Cooke: If the member thinks five days is a filibuster, then he has got something to learn about the proper procedures and the role of the opposition parties in dealing with controversial items like this.
A verbal agreement by the House leaders was reached to limit the second reading debate and to deal with public hearings, and that was discussed in the House leaders’ panel where it is most appropriate to deal with it. This demonstrates the fair and acceptable method by which we think these items of conflict should be dealt with in the House leaders’ meetings and through consensus to the extent possible. The opposition has demonstrated very clearly its willingness to discuss this matter in a fair and equitable way with the government.
The second reading debate times were 14 November for two and a half hours, 15 November for three hours, 28 November for three hours and 4 and 5 December for three hours on each of those dates; 14 1/2 hours of second reading debate is not an unreasonable period of time for such a difficult bill -- a bill, as I have said twice already and will repeat, that has the most radical changes in the history of Ontario to the way we provide car insurance in the province.
Then there was the government motion on public hearings, and that again was agreed to by consensus. It was a compromise. We discussed it several weeks in a row in the House leaders’ meetings. The original proposal by the opposition parties was for unlimited public hearings. The original proposal by the government was for no public hearings. The compromise was five weeks. Six days of those five weeks would be travelling throughout the province to get input from areas outside Metropolitan Toronto. It was discussed and ironed out in the appropriate way by the House leaders. This clearly demonstrates the fairness with which the opposition parties were dealing with the government’s agenda. The minority on this side recognizes and respects the rights of the majority in this place.
The standing committee had 20 days. It was limited to six days outside of Toronto; again, incredibly fair, given that the original position of the opposition parties was for unlimited public hearings as the government extended on Bill 30, the bill that extended funding to separate schools, and as the government extended to the doctors of this province on Bill 94. It seems rather strange to us that on Bill 94 the government said, “We will hear from every doctor anywhere in the province for ever and ever,” but on this very important item, when it comes to disabled groups and other groups affected by the new automobile insurance plan, the government said, “We are going to cut off debate.” In fact, it originally said it did not want any debate at all.
After the bill was reported on 19 March and the report from the committee agreed to in one day -- one day of debate on the committee’s report -- we had two days in committee of the whole House, and at the end of the second day, the government brought in this closure motion. I think that is clearly an attempt by the government to limit debate by the opposition parties and was premature, to say the very least.
Rule 45 states: “A motion for closure, which may be moved without notice, until it is decided shall preclude all amendment of the main question, and shall be in the following words ....” That deals specifically with the closure. It is the only provision for closure that we have in our rules. “Unless it appears to the Speaker that such motion is an abuse of the standing orders of the House or an infringement of the rights of the minority, the question shall be put forthwith ....”
Those are the guidelines we must follow. It is very clear to us that it is premature, it is an abrogation of the standing orders of this House and it is an infringement of the rights of the minority. This is the only rule we can judge this motion of the government by. The Speaker must decide, is it an abuse of the standing orders and is it an infringement of the opposition or the minority rights? I suggest it is both.
I have already described the negotiations that took place at second reading and in the committee hearing stage. I have already demonstrated, I believe, the limited time that the opposition had. The closure motion calls for two days in committee of the whole House.
In the closure motion that the government has introduced, and I think this is important, there are two days in committee of the whole House. The government has 32 amendments to the bill; the Conservative Party has 30 amendments to the bill. We will have six hours, which will give us five minutes per amendment, barely time for the government to read the amendments, let alone have any exchange between the opposition parties. At the very least, Mr Speaker, I would suggest that this time allocation motion has to be changed and should be ruled out of order, because it is arbitrary in its nature and does not reflect the work that must be done in committee of the whole House.
Of course, the government has come up with a solution. The solution is that, whenever you want to limit debate in committee of the whole House and you have a lot of amendments, you simply put in a section to the time allocation motion that says, “At the end of the two days, even if the amendments have not been introduced, even if they have not been debated, they are deemed to be introduced, they are deemed to be debated, and they will all be voted on.”
I would suggest that is incredibly unfair. It will result in the process not holding the government accountable for its amendments and not giving the opposition parties the opportunity to properly place and argue their amendments. The government will argue that its amendments have been before the committee for a few weeks, but they have not been debated. The Conservative amendments, as I understand it, have not been presented yet; those were prepared for committee of the whole House discussion. Five minutes per amendment, 62 amendments to be dealt with in two days -- I think that is an incredible abuse of the rights for debate in this Legislature.
How much of the Legislature’s time has been taken by other bills that have resulted in time allocation? Bill 162, the Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act, had 162 hours and 16 minutes up to the committee report stage. Bill 68 has had closure brought in more quickly than any other bill in the history of this Legislature. Bill 30, the separate school bill, had 390 hours and 43 minutes. Bill 68, which is the most radical change in auto insurance ever in the history of this province, has not even come close to that. This bill is equally as controversial as Bill 30 or Bills 113 and 114, the Sunday shopping bills, or Bill 162. Yet the government has brought in closure after two days in committee of the whole House, and this process, as I said, previous to that was negotiated by the House leaders.
Clearly, the government wants to shut down debate on this bill for political reasons. It is up to the Speaker to protect the rights of the opposition parties to have proper debate on controversial items that are before the public. They are using their majority to muzzle the opposition. There is no other way of describing it, Mr Speaker. You cannot allow this to happen.
“In many sessions in order to secure the passage of particularly important and controversial legislation, governments have been confronted with the choice, unless special powers are taken, of cutting down their normal program to an undesirable extent, or of prolonging the sittings of Parliament, or else of acknowledging the impotence of the majority in the House in the face of the resistance of the minority. In such circumstances, resort is had...to the most drastic method of curtailing debate known to procedure, namely, the setting of a date by which a committee must report, or the allocation of a specified number of days to the various stages of a bill and of limited amounts of time to particular portions of a bill. Orders made under this procedure are known as ‘allocation of time’ orders and coloquially as ‘guillotine’ motions. They may be regarded as the extreme limit to which procedure goes in affirming the rights of the majority at the expense of the minorities of the House -- and it cannot be denied that they are capable of being used in such a way as to upset the balance, generally so carefully preserved, between the claims of business and the rights of debate. But the harshness of this procedure is to some extent mitigated either by consultation between the party leaders or in the business committee” -- which in our case is the House leaders’ panel -- ”in order to establish the greatest possible measure of agreement as to the most satisfactory disposal of the time is available.”
In this particular circumstance, this argument in Erskine May is very relevant in that all the sections of this bill on the second reading debate, the public hearings and the debate of the report coming from the standing committee on general government were all dealt with by consensus and by discussion in the House leaders’ panel. Two days after we get into committee of the whole House, the government says, “Well, we have dealt with this by consensus in the past.” At six o’clock -- they do not even give us advance notice; no discussion at all in the House leaders’ panel -- they bring in this closure motion. This bill had been dealt with by consensus for the first two stages, but the government did not even attempt to use this process; had it attempted the process, it may have worked. For that reason, in addition to the others, I think this motion is out of order.
To sum up, I believe this motion is out of order because (1) there is no provision for time allocation motions in our rules and (2) the government is rewriting the rules of this House with its time allocation motions.
The Speaker must protect the integrity of the rules and the integrity of this institution, and the Speaker clearly must protect the rights of the minority and the rights of free debate in this place. This bill has been handled by consensus until now, and the importance of this bill and the fact that there are 62 amendments to be dealt with in the committee of the whole means that the solution that the government has introduced is unworkable and is unfair to the public at large and certainly to the opposition parties to have their positions put forward.
If the government brought in a different type of time allocation motion, perhaps different arguments could be made. Perhaps if it had waited and had been able to make a case, this motion -- even at some point in the future -- would have been in order. But it is clearly not in order today after only two days of discussion in committee of the whole and after the entire other sections of debate were dealt with by consensus.
There has not been a clearer example of the government abusing the rights of the minority with the use of time allocation motions than there is in this case. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to say to the government very clearly that if it is not going to bring in amendments to the standing orders to set out the criteria of when time allocation motions can be used, then you, Mr Speaker, in each of these cases are going to have to judge them by their merit. It is clear that there is no merit to this resolution that is put before the Legislature today, and it should be ruled out of order.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, on the same point of order: Although I am not going to be as long as my colleague the House leader for the official opposition, I do want to get some points on the record on why our caucus is supporting his point of order.
First of all, Mr Speaker, I would like to quote to you from Erskine May, page 1, which is always a good place to start, “The purpose of many of the rules is to safeguard the rights of a minority of the House: to guard against the development of an ‘elective dictatorship’ which some have predicted.” Erskine May goes on to say, on page 1, “Above all, the balance between the right of governments to obtain their business and the right of the House as a whole to examine it... is maintained through the discretionary powers given to the Speaker.”
Erskine May goes on, in chapter 19 at page 400, to state that closure and time allocation motions, often referred to as guillotine motions, “are felt to be an unfortunate necessity and to be justified only by the pressure of business or to counteract obstruction.”
On page 406, Erskine May talks of the Speaker’s role and goes on to say, “The intervention of the Chair regarding closure is restricted to occasions when the motion is made in abuse of the rules of the House, or infringes the rights of the minority.” It is this infringement of the rights of the minority that the member for Windsor-Riverside has been speaking about for the last few minutes.
On page 410, Erskine May says, “An allocation-of-time order is not usually moved until after the second reading of a bill, and usually not until the rate of progress in committee has provided an argument for its necessity.” It is on that point that I would like to dwell for a few moments right now.
As my colleague rightly states, this bill has seen only some two days of discussion in the committee-of-the-whole stage. Prior to that, every time limit and every restriction upon how long Bill 68 would be in committee, for example, has been agreed upon at the House leaders’ panel. I can confirm what the member for Windsor-Riverside has said. There was never any discussion at a House leaders’ panel meeting of the three parties trying to even agree with respect to committee-of-the-whole time. It has been in committee of the whole for only two days, and I think that you should take into account the other times that closure motions have been moved in this House and the amount of time that they have been debated at various stages.
Mr Speaker, the official opposition House leader has told you about the time with respect to Bill 162 and Bill 30, with which I concur. I would like to refer you to comments by the government House leaders themselves on the two previous occasions on which they moved closure in this House. On 19 January 1989, with respect to the closure or time allocation motion on Bills 113 and 114, the government House leader of the day, the member for Renfrew North, was quoted as saying that he felt there was justification for moving closure because there had been 60 days of debate in the Legislative Assembly on those two bills.
Mr Speaker, I submit to you that even if you take into account all the time spent in committee on this bill, which was agreed upon at the House leaders’ panel, all the time spent in second reading and the two days spent so far in committee of the whole, we have not even got to half of the limit that the member for Renfrew North, when he was the House leader, thought was the amount of time necessary for a closure motion to be viable.
I would like to refer you also to a previous instance, on 19 June 1986 with respect to Bill 94, when the then government House leader, the member for Brant-Haldimand, now the Treasurer of Ontario, referred the members of the Legislative Assembly and the Speaker to his justification on that occasion in terms of time spent at various stages of the bill, where there had been 36.5 hours on second-reading debate. Compare that to the 14.5-some hours that we have had on this particular piece of legislation. There had been 26 hours of debate in committee of the whole House to that point of time. We have had two days, a maximum of six hours, of committee-of-the-whole time. By the measure of that government House leader of what time is needed, we have approached only about a third in each case, not even a half, as was done with Bills 113 and 114.
Erskine May goes on to say that there is a “balance between the right of governments to obtain their business and the right of the House as a whole to examine it.” I would propose to you, Mr Speaker, that this motion goes beyond the concept of the right of the government to obtain its business. It is an upset of that balance that must be maintained in order to ensure that the principle of parliamentary democracy is upheld.
Beauchesne’s goes on to say that the principle that lies at the basis of English parliamentary law is to protect the minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority. Beauchesne’s goes on to say that privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by the House and by members individually, without which they could not discharge their functions. Not once during every step of the legislative process of Bill 68 has the opposition obstructed the government. All three parties have unanimously agreed in every single stage of this bill. That is what makes this case different in my mind, Mr Speaker, and I would respectfully suggest that you take that under consideration and advisement.
Up to this point in time every single stage of this bill has gone through, has worked through discussions and compromise with the House leaders’ panel. I would refer you to standing order 14, Mr Speaker, under which it says, “Whenever the Speaker is of the opinion that a motion offered to the House is contrary to the rules and privileges of Parliament, the Speaker shall apprise the House thereof immediately, before putting the question thereon, and may quote the rule or authority applicable.”
I would also remind you, as indeed the member for Windsor-Riverside has done, of your obligations under standing order 45, which, in part, says that, “Unless it appears to the Speaker that such motion is an abuse of the standing orders of the House or an infringement of the rights of the minority, the question shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.”
I would respectfully suggest to you that in this instance, Mr Speaker, after only two days of committee of the whole debate, by the government’s previous House leader’s own measure of what time is required to justify closure motions, this closure motion does not even begin to approach the amount of time that is required at the committee-of-the-whole stage, or other stages for that matter. There are a significant number of amendments, government and opposition alike, as my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside rightly points out. Surely these amendments deserve the right to be debated thoroughly in this Legislature.
Perhaps if committee-of-the-whole stage had gone on to approach the time lines and the experience that we have had in this Legislature in the past with respect to time allocation motions, there would be some justification for such a motion in the House today. But I would respectfully suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that in this instance, with respect to this particular bill, where the House leaders and the House leaders’ panel have agreed on every stage up to now, and where there has only been two days of committee-of-the-whole debate, this motion, to say the least, is somewhat premature.
Hon Mr Ward: I have listened with great interest to the arguments put forward by my colleagues in both the official opposition and in the third party. Some reference has been made to several of the standing orders during the course of this discussion. In fact, the House leader from the official opposition raises the point that the motion that is before us is tendered under standing order 45. I would suggest to the member, quite respectfully, that, as has been indicated under standing order 14, there has to be a justification. I would say to him that, in my view, that justification is under 46(a), because the government does have a right to put forward a substantive motion. That is exactly what we are doing. This is not a motion under standing order 45.
Getting back to some of the fundamental arguments that have been put, no one on this side of the House would quarrel one iota with the notion that the rights of the minority must be protected in any parliamentary democracy. We have heard some enunciation of the amount of time that has been taken up in debate. I guess, by the estimation of the third-party House leader, he would recognize that if his information and his hours are correct, this has in fact had more time in total debate than Bill 94 did before this motion was brought forward.
I would also put to you, Mr Speaker, that there was no limit put on second-reading debate. Second reading, as we all know, is an approval in principle. That matter was before the members of this House for several days, and I believe there was a division on that and the matter was decided without any time limit whatsoever.
Over the course of the consideration of this entire matter members of this House have had an opportunity to discuss the issues, to make their cases, to make their points and to make their suggestions over 28 days of consideration, during various stages of the process that we all follow in putting into place legislation in this House, some 107 hours in total of debate time. The suggestion has been made that because progress was being made in the committee of the whole House it would be inappropriate for the government to consider putting forward a motion of time allocation.
I would say to you, sir, that after two full days in committee of the whole House not one section of the bill was disposed of. I listened very carefully to the arguments that were being made by members of the opposition during the course of that debate. It was made clear to all, to everyone, that the intent was to do everything possible to stop this House from doing its business. That case was made and enunciated by the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Even the member for Algoma, in his remarks, made it quite clear that everything possible would be done to obstruct process on this bill.
It is with great regret, Mr Speaker, that we are before you today having to call a government notice of motion to allocate time on this matter. But I think, in considering the rights of the minority -- which, in my view, have been protected in this case; absolutely no limitation on second reading -- after having spent some 28 days, over 107 hours, discussing this matter, I do not believe the rights of the minority have been offended or abrogated in any way.
I would put to you, sir, that one of the fundamental principles of a parliamentary democracy is that important issues -- and, in this case, one that has an impact of five million citizens in this province -- must be decided. In this case the government has no recourse other than to pursue this motion in an effort to get this important issue decided in a way that is consistent with the wishes of the majority in this House.
I would suggest, sir, that under standing order 46(a) adequate notice was given and all of the requirements have been met. This is not a closure motion, I would remind you, under standing order 45, and I hope you will take these matters into consideration in rendering your decision.
The Acting Speaker: If I may, what I consider to be a reasonable point of order has been raised. It is the Chair’s job then to listen to each of the parties who want to participate in making a comment or two on that. It is not a debate on a point of order. I am charged with the responsibility of listening to what people have to say on it. I think, in my view anyway, that the obligation is on the Chair to give the person who raised the point of order considerable latitude in explaining it. Others may respond to that, but I would caution members that I am not about to listen to an afternoon of debate on this particular point. If members have something that they wish to say succinctly and that is relevant to the point of order which has been raised, it is my job to hear them and I intend to do so.
Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, I appreciate your advice. I am simply responding to the point of order raised by my colleague the opposition House leader and to the comments made by others, particularly the government House leader in his statement that he regards this matter to be dealt with under rule 46(a) rather than rule 45 as argued by the opposition House leader.
I look at rule 46(a), Mr Speaker. You will note that the government House leader is correct in saying, “A substantive motion is one that is not incidental to any other business of the House, but is a self-contained proposal capable of expressing the decision of the House.” Then it goes on to give examples. The examples are “the motion for an address in reply to the speech from the throne, the budget motion, want-of-confidence motions on allotted days, resolutions, motions for returns or addresses, and motions for the appointment of committees.”
It is my submission that in agreeing to this rule the members of this Legislative Assembly never intended that rule 46(a) would be used as a way of cutting off debate. It was never intended, either by the government or by the members of the minority, that rule 46(a) would be used as a guillotine, because that is what this motion 30 is in fact, a guillotine.
Mr Speaker, I am sure that you are well aware of the responsibilities that you hold in ruling on this point of order and also your responsibilities for carrying out the obligations placed on you by the members of the assembly and protecting the rights of all members of the assembly. I will not go on at any length except to say that it is very important to me, as a member of the House for almost 15 years, that we as members of the opposition recognize the responsibility and the right of the government to propose. It is just as important for the members of the government party to recognize the right and the responsibility of the opposition, Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, to oppose.
It has been said in regard to the point of order that the use of closure or guillotine used to be rare in this House. It was something that governments, no matter how large their majority, approached with trepidation. It was not something that was done as a matter of routine; it was not done as a matter of expedience; it was not done as a matter of just getting the bills through.
I will not say anything about how arrogant I believe this motion to be because I do have a good deal of respect -- and I mean that sincerely -- for the government House leader, but I really am surprised and disappointed that we would be faced with this kind of a motion in this House today.
The government House leader has said that you should consider whether or not there is evidence of obstruction in ruling on this question of order. He has pointed to comments that I myself made in the committee of the whole House and comments my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale made.
There is no question that we consider Bill 68 to be a matter of considerable importance. There is no question that we in the official opposition, along with our colleagues in the third party, are opposed, diametrically opposed, to this legislation. There is no question that we consider it our responsibility to do all we can to persuade the majority in the House of the error of their ways in proceeding with this legislation as it is currently written. The question is, is that obstruction or is that simply carrying out our responsibilities as members of the opposition?
I am very concerned, as a member of this House for some considerable time, that we are indeed changing the rules of this House in practice. The rules of the House are set up to protect us all, to protect our rights in the minority and the rights of the government majority, but they are not just set up to protect the members, individually or collectively, in this House. The rules of this Legislative Assembly are set out to ensure that our democratic process, which is adversarial, proceeds not only for the benefit of the members of the Legislature but also for the benefit of the society as a whole.
I will just close by pointing out two things. The government House leader has said that there were 28 days of debate on this bill. Of that, we have heard five days were on second reading debate, which is not excessive. No one could suggest that it is excessive. In the committee, outside of this House, all but three and a half days were on public hearings. We would all agree that it was very important on a bill of such complexity and importance that we hear from as many interested parties and the general public as possible.
But to say that 28 days, most of which were public hearings, are sufficient for careful consideration of clause-by-clause I think really is not an acceptable argument by the government House leader. The debate in the committee was cut off after three and a half days of clause-by-clause debate. Then we moved to committee of the whole House and we participated for two days’ debate on the clause-by-clause.
There are many amendments to be put, and I want to remind you, Mr Speaker, they are not just amendments to be put by the opposition. More than half of the amendments are amendments that the government is proposing itself.
The procedure set out in notice of motion 30 for dealing with those amendments, I submit, is not adequate to enable all members of the House to ensure that the legislation is the best it can possibly be before it is finally passed and sent to third reading. The procedure set out is clearly not designed to deal with careful consideration of clause-by-clause and amendments, but rather to get things through as quickly as possible with as little consideration as possible.
Certainly it is not appropriate in dealing with important amendments that are going to affect most people in the province financially, and are not only going to affect them financially but are going to affect their civil rights and their rights before the law. To have a system set up which will deem that amendments have been put even if they have not been put, will deem that they have been debated when there has been no debate, and will require a vote by a certain date after only two days’ consideration, is not acceptable. It is not a precedent that should be accepted in this House, and if it is, it sets a very dangerous precedent for the future workings of this assembly.
And then to suggest we will move immediately out of committee of the whole to a one-day session for the third reading stage of the bill does not indicate to me that this government is serious about dealing with legislation in a proper and thorough manner, which is the government’s responsibility and the opposition’s responsibility in serving the people who sent us to this place.
Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, I will be rather brief in speaking to the point of order and urging you to find this motion out of order. I gather that the decision will really rest on whether you conclude that what is before us today infringes on the rights of the minority and in essence in your efforts to protect the minority and, as Beauchesne says, to restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority.
I want to say, Mr Speaker, talking as a member of the committee that toured the province discussing this matter with the public in rather limited public hearings, as you have heard earlier, when both opposition parties wanted much more extensive hearings, longer time frames in terms of the sittings of the committee itself, visiting more municipalities, we were not able to obtain that agreement from the government and had to settle for something less.
But what concerns me, Mr Speaker, with respect to what is happening here today, is that if you review the proceedings of the committee -- and I think this is quite important in terms of the decision you have to make -- on the final day of public hearings, the government, following a filing under the freedom-of-information act by myself, tabled some 39 actuarial studies with the committee, looking at the implications of a variety of proposals before the government dealing with threshold no-fault and other matters.
None of the witnesses who had appeared before us up until the final day of hearings were able to assess the studies, to measure their impact, their accuracy, etc, and what the ultimate effect would be on the consumers of this province. I had to fight to get 15 minutes for Professor Jack Carr from the University of Toronto, a professor of economics, to have 15 minutes with a rather hasty assessment of 39 very complicated actuarial studies, as you can well appreciate.
I think that is an important ingredient in this, Mr Speaker, when you realize that most of those actuarial studies could have been made available to the committee at the beginning of its proceedings. Some of them were done and completed in the summer of 1989. Yet the government refused request after request to table those studies, coming up with a variety of excuses as to why it could not do so. Then on the final day of public hearings, those complex, comprehensive studies were thrown in our laps, without giving witnesses the opportunity to give input which could have countered some of the findings, could have pointed out weaknesses in the plan, etc. I think that is an important ingredient.
Another element of this, Mr Speaker, which I think is important for you to take into consideration has to do with the fact that late in the proceedings we discovered that the government had access to the rate filings by the insurance industry. In December 1989 they had preliminary rate filings indicating what the impact of this bill would be on automobile insurance rates in the province of Ontario. That is the end of 1989. We were just into our hearings.
I again raise that issue. The minister had the complete filings, or according to the requirement, the regulation, he was supposed to have the complete filings, by the end of January 1990. So he did indeed have the bulk of those filings, and again that information was not made available to us as members of that committee. Here the minister was out speaking publicly, indicating that rates were going to be significantly higher than what he had been saying to the House and to the committee, and his rubber stamp experts on the committee were saying virtually the same thing that he had been saying earlier, and that kind of information was not made available to members of the committee.
Mr Speaker, following your advice and moving right along, if we get back into the House in committee of the whole, two days of hearings, I think that the two days with the committee of the whole -- and the minister overreacted. He has complained about the member for Algoma getting up and clearly indicating what he felt his role was as a member of the opposition. I do not think there is anything wrong with that. The minister himself served in opposition and he knows that we have a role to play, but he should also be aware, based on the testimony before the committee, that there is considerable concern out there among the public. The overwhelming number of people who appeared before us had very serious concerns or reservations about this act, yet he has the gall to say to this member, who on the second day of committee of the whole says this is our role, to make sure --
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I do not mean to interrupt your train of thought on the point of order, but I have not heard you mention it in the last few minutes and I would like you to address the point of order that is before the House at the moment.
Mr Runciman: Mr Speaker, I appreciate that guidance. Erskine May -- and this has been mentioned to you earlier, Mr Speaker -- on page 410, in reference to a time order allocation, says it “is not usually moved until after the second reading” -- and this is the important part – “and usually not until the rate of progress in committee has provided an argument for its necessity.”
Certainly it has been indicated we have a significant number of amendments with the government and with the opposition parties which we are not going to have an opportunity to air. We have a number of very concerned groups in society that want those amendments put forward, that want them argued, that want their cases presented in this Legislature. They are not going to have that opportunity if this goes through as constructed and contrived by this government.
I will sum up by saying a couple of quick things in respect to this. Again, I think it is important, when we look back on the history of initiatives such as this, 28 days, in essence. We had 60 days for Bill 113 on Sunday shopping. The government has used 36 1/2 hours on second reading and 26 hours in committee on Bill 94, and on Bill 68 the comparisons are 14 1/2 and six. Obviously, Mr Speaker, when you look back over the history of initiatives such as this, there is really no justification for what the government is attempting to do here today.
Members will know that a motion such as .this has been in Orders and Notices, so the table officers and the chair have had an opportunity to do a little bit of researching of practices and precedents, of reviewing the standing orders of this chamber. So it does not exactly come as a surprise that someone might question whether such a motion is appropriate. We have had an opportunity to do that.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I do not mean to intervene with the member, but I have tried to provide an opportunity where a point of order could be heard at some length. I have tried to hear from all sides on the matter. I believe I have heard that. I am not about to engage in a debate with anyone. It is my unfortunate job to make a ruling when I am asked to do so and when I feel comfortable that I have sufficient precedents before me and sufficient evidence has been provided during the course of the debate that I can make such a ruling. It is now clear to me that I can do that and I would appreciate the opportunity to explain my ruling.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, I find it difficult to accept that this process -- I understand that the motion has been in Orders and Notices for a couple of days and I understand that the precedents would be looked at, but you have not had the opportunity until this afternoon to hear the arguments from the opposition parties and to have the precedents when we have given some additional points and some differences in this case from the precedents that exist in this place.
To simply say that when we finish you are going to give a ruling, to me, makes me feel, and I believe my caucus and the opposition parties, that there has not been adequate consideration given to our points. I would ask, Mr Speaker, that you consider the points and do the appropriate thing, as has been done on every other instance, where a ruling is reserved and a proper ruling in its entirety is given after there is fair consideration. Otherwise, I do not think that our points have been fairly considered.
The motion was printed in Orders and Notices. It is part of the normal course of our duties to research the practices and precedents of the House and standing orders to check to see whether initially we concur that such a motion would be in order.
Normally I would be quite prepared to reserve judgement on the matter. My difficulty is that, as soon as we began to do that, it became apparent to us that there were substantive precedents given by the Speaker on the matter recently, to the point where in 1986 on Bill 94, in 1989 on Bill 113 and Bill 114 and in 1989 again on Bill 162, the Speaker went to great length to provide a substantive judgement on the particular matter that is in front of us this afternoon.
So I want to say briefly a couple of things. Members have made mention of standing order 45, and I want to bring to your attention that we are very specific in this chamber about what is and what is not a closure motion. The members are quite free during the course of the debate to use it any way they want, but from the Chair’s point of view, if you use the following words contained in standing order 45, “That this question be now put,” that is closure and that does raise some of the matters that members have raised during the course of debate on this point of order this afternoon about whether that is fair and reasonable and sufficient time and a number of other matters.
The difficulty that we have, of course, is that what you have before you this afternoon is basically a time allocation motion. It is difficult for us in the Chair to judge whether such a motion is appropriate, whether it is advisable, whether it makes sense to the members to do that. From our point of view, we are restricted somewhat to simply ruling as to whether or not such a motion is in order.
The Chair is not privy to such a thing. From the Chair’s point of view, we see the end result of such deliberations, and that is that a motion is put before the chamber indicating how many days will be set out for hearings and how many minutes each of the caucuses will be allocated. The standing orders themselves do make mention from time to time of incorporating time allocation into the standing orders.
So I am afraid there is not much doubt, in the Chair’s mind at least, that the motion before you -- whether it is desirable or not is another matter altogether, but in quoting from Erskine May and from Beauchesne, the members themselves have established that there is no question that the motion is in order, and so that is the ruling. The motion is in order and we will now proceed with the debate on that motion.
Hon Mr Ward: I suppose that many of the arguments that I was prepared to put forward in support of government notice of motion have been put forward during the consideration of the point of order which you have just ruled on, Mr Speaker, but I did want to make some additional comments, particularly in relation to the interventions that took place after my last intervention.
As you have indicated in your ruling, Mr Speaker, indeed this is not a motion for closure; it is a substantive motion expressing the will of this House in terms of how it orders its business on a matter that it has been dealing with for some time.
I was interested to listen to some of the assertions that more recent precedent would indicate that perhaps this particular time allocation motion was unlike the others, that indeed because the bill had only been in committee of the whole for two days it was somehow different than in the previous circumstances.
I would point out that although the bill was in committee of the whole, unfortunately, for just two days, no progress was being made whatsoever and there was every indication that it was quite a wilful exercise to ensure that no progress would be made. As a matter of fact, in the ruling that was rendered, I believe, last January in relation to the same matter under consideration of Bill 162, that bill had only been in committee of the whole for one day. It was clear that it was being filibustered during the course of the select committee.
That is not in any way to be judgemental as to how all members feel about a particular piece of legislation, but the motion before us today, I would remind all members, is a motion which deals with process. I, for one, and I believe most people in this province, very strongly believe that important matters at some point must be decided, and not all issues can be decided in unanimity or through consensus, and obviously it has been made quite clear to all that this is indeed one of those issues.
So it is my reluctant duty to put forward this particular notice of motion, which will allocate the time of this House for two more days of consideration in committee of the whole so that amendments can be put forward and considered. I would argue that –
Mrs Marland: My point of order is this, Mr Speaker: You have now assumed the chair. You are the Deputy Speaker. I would like to know, when you asked the member for Oshawa to take the chair for that important ruling a few moments ago, whether before you asked him to take the chair, you had asked the member for Oshawa whether he was party to the discussion in his caucus this morning on the point of order that was going to be raised in dealing with the government notice of motion.
The Deputy Speaker: Each member who is presiding in this chair as officer of the House is entitled to make his or her decision pertaining, and it stands as a decision of the Chair. I was not party; I was not aware. He made the decision and it stands because he was a full member of the chair at the point. So there is your answer.
The Deputy Speaker: You have asked a question. I have answered it. It is not a point of order. I have explained it to you. That is it. You must not call upon my decision. I am sorry. There is no discussion. Whoever is in the chair can make his or her decision accordingly, and he made that decision.
Hon Mr Ward: As I was saying, the time allocation motion does provide for two days of further consideration in committee of the whole House. Much has been said about the fact that there are opposition amendments to this legislation. At the beginning of committee of the whole House on two occasions, before proceeding, the Chair asked all parties, all members, if they had amendments to table.
I would remind you, Mr Speaker, that no amendments have been tabled at all to this legislation by either opposition party. You know full well from having sat as committee of the whole Chairman on many occasions that the government would never get away with putting forward amendments that had not been tabled at the beginning of the committee of the whole House. So I would suggest that there is quite a clear indication that, as yet, neither opposition party has any intent of putting forward some constructive alternatives.
That, notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House, in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, two sessional days shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole House. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the assembly by 5 pm on the first sessional day on which the bill is considered in the committee of the whole House. At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for the adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without amendment or debate.
That one further sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further amendment or debate.
The government House leader has said that the opposition parties did not indicate that they had any amendments to this bill. I am on record as indicating that we, in the Progressive Conservative caucus, do have amendments for this bill. I was even specific enough to say that mine were for the disabled. It is true that they have not been tabled, but this government House leader knows that I have amendments to this bill. What he just said was not correct.
Mr Kormos: I suppose, first, one should respond to the comments of the government House leader, who I have no doubt is somewhat pleased at the ruling of the Speaker. My initial quarrel, though -- and I hope some day, somewhere, he would explain how this could have happened -- was that during the course of his argument about the point of order raised by the opposition House leader, he spoke of this motion being one of substance, being a substantive motion, and therefore one which succumbed to the guidance of standing order 46. Yet in the course of his preamble to the debate on the motion itself, he speaks of it as being a motion that concerns itself with process.
Here we go. Within minutes, within seconds of commencing this debate about this motion, we have the government House leader contradicting something he said in support of his argument about the point of order. It boggles the mind. Although mind-boggling, it is not unexpected, and, as I say, I hope some day, somewhere, the government House leader will see fit to explain how he could contradict himself within moments of there having been a ruling against the point of order about this particular motion.
We are opposed to the motion, and there are a whole number of reasons why. Let me tell you what the first reason is, and I want to make reference to a brief note from a woman, Kim O’Quinn from Lasalle, Ontario. This is a note that she sent to the Committee for Fair Action in Insurance Reform. She writes:
“I was injured in a car accident one and a half years ago. I’m a mother of two. My youngest was three months old. With a cervical sprain and pinched nerves in my neck, it was very hard to cope, unable to hold my baby for any length of time. Not only the pain on the outside I hurt inside unable to hold him the way I did with my first child. Having friends doing my major housework made me feel useless. Listening to my baby cry and unable to hold him close when he had gas. Headaches so bad I can’t get out of bed. I can’t bowl on my league any more.
“I’m a victim and I find it very unfair. I know I’m not the only mother out there trying to cope. But we should not go unheard. When a baby cries for his/her mother’s love and caressing which he can only have for a few seconds at a time, and they need it longer. It hurts so bad, I cry all the time. Because I can’t enjoy the children the way I could have before 29 July 1988. So please take into consideration the victims not only the injured but the families who have to go without the special things mommy used to be able to do. I know with time and therapy I can. But I will never have my time back with my baby to hold and love the way other mothers do. The negligent drivers should be punished and made aware of the pain and suffering with everyone involved.
So we oppose it because of people like Kim O’Quinn from Lasalle, Ontario. We oppose it because of people like James Hembruff from 41 Woodhall Road in Markham, Ontario, who sends his message to Queen’s Park saying, “I say no-fault, no thanks.” We oppose it because of people like Rita Scarrow from 3293 Anderson Court in Mississauga, who says, “No-fault, no thanks.”
We oppose it because of people like F. Langner from 2313 Islington Avenue in Rexdale, who says, “No-fault, no thanks.” We oppose it because of people like Denise Oliver from 1706 Janna Boulevard in London, Ontario, who says, “No-fault, no thanks.” We oppose it because of people like N. A. Crawford from 72 Montcalm Drive in Kitchener. He says, “No-fault, no thanks.” We oppose it because of people like G. I. Chapman, 2290 Carol Road in Oakville, Ontario. Mr Chapman says, “No-fault, no thanks.”
People like Austin Murphy from 169 Wanless Avenue in Toronto who says, “No-fault, no thanks,” who says, “I would like to support the effort to slow or stop the passage of the legislation,” and who wished that he had had more time and there were more time allocated to a discussion of the legislation.
People like Kevin High from Gammage in London, Ontario, who says, “No-fault, no thanks”; Lorraine Lyons, Logan Avenue, London, Ontario, who says, “No-fault, no thanks”; C. McEwen, Riverside Crescent, “No-fault, no thanks”; M. Grzesiak, Springwood Crescent in Oakville, says, “No-fault, no thanks.”
Willowdale, Ontario: Christopher G. Cameron says, “No-fault, no thanks.” Brockville, Ontario: Mrs Donna Irish from RR 1, Brockville, Ontario, says, “No-fault, no thanks.” Mississauga: P. Leupen from East Park Court, says, “No-fault, no thanks.” C. A. Smyth from Oshawa says, “No-fault, no thanks,” and C. A. Smyth wants to support the effort to slow or stop the passage of the legislation.
Brampton, Ontario: P. Kodavatiganti from Cowan Road says, “No-fault, no thanks.” John Anhang, Sherbourne Street, Toronto, says, No-fault, no thanks.” He writes, “Dear Mr Elston, I think no-fault is no fair because I lose my rights to seek compensation for damages to me, my family and my property. Please” -- he is pleading -- ”forget about no-fault insurance.
From Sarnia, Guy Winward from McGee Street says, “No fault, no thanks.” Guy Winward says, “I would like to support the effort to slow or stop the passage of the legislation.” Islington, Ontario: Ms Innes says, “No-fault, no thanks.” Utopia, Ontario -- if there was anywhere in Ontario where surely there cannot be very many Liberals, it has to be in Utopia, Ontario.
RR 1, Utopia, Ontario, what a great place to be able to say that you are from, but what a sad contradiction with the reality of the Liberal regime in Ontario since 1987. A. Kursis from RR 1, Utopia, Ontario, says, “No-fault, no thanks.” D. and S. Lehman from 23 Alice Street in Guelph. Ontario, the home of the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Financial Institutions, say, “No-fault, no thanks.”
Mike Sampson, 444 Rose Avenue in Peterborough, Ontario, says, “No-fault, no thanks.” A. Ketchum from Cheritan Avenue in Toronto, “No-fault, no thanks.” London, Ontario: Winona and Cecil Rhodes on Cairn Street say, “No-fault, no thanks.” They say they want to support the effort to slow down or stop the passage of the legislation. Virgil, Ontario, down in the Niagara Peninsula: Bruce and Melanie Zolaturiuk, Box 515, say, “No-fault, no thanks.” Chatham, Ontario: Liliana S. Zugna from Partridge Crescent says, “No-fault, no thanks.”
Those were among the 15,000 people whose names were presented to this government today, who have been petitioning this government with the plea, “No-fault, no thanks.” Those are but a few of the names among the 15,000 who took the time out to send the “No-fault, no thanks” messages, along with the thousands and thousands of others who phoned their MPPs, who wrote to their MPPs, who phoned the Premier’s office, who wrote to the Premier’s office, who visited Queen’s Park, who visited their MPPs’ constituency offices or their MPPs’ legislative offices to say, “No-fault, no thanks.”
These people come from ridings that are represented by Conservatives. These people told their Conservative members, “Do everything you can to stop this bad legislation.” They certainly told their New Democratic Party members in ridings represented by the official opposition, “Do everything you can to stop this bad legislation.” They visited and wrote to and called, I am sure, each and every one of the Liberal members of this government, both frontbenchers, some heard from, some not heard from, and backbenchers, some heard from, some not heard from, some never seen. Out of sight, out of mind. They said to the Liberal members of the Legislature, “No-fault, no thanks.”
Mr Kormos: They did it up in Sudbury, where I am told there is a Liberal member. They did it in Hamilton, where I am told there is one Liberal member. They did it down near the Windsor area, be it by resolution or merely by personal contact, and they had some agreement on the part of their member, to his great credit, from down in Windsor. They did it in London too.
Let us talk about what we are talking about right now. We are talking about a motion that is going to significantly inhibit and prohibit the discussion of this legislation. No disrespect to the Speaker, but I am saddened and I feel it is not inappropriate for me to say I am saddened by the Speaker’s ruling on the point of order. As I say, no disrespect to the Chair. I do not want to be anywhere but right here, right now. But I am saddened by the Speaker’s ruling. I am saddened because there was, I believe, some misimpressions about what really has taken place with respect to this legislation from the beginning.
First of all, this is not legislation upon which the Liberals canvassed or campaigned or ran a campaign in 1987, or indeed at any time prior to that. I know that Liberals of different types and at different times are capable of doing many different things. The Liberals in Quebec in 1970 campaigned on the issue of public auto insurance. The Parti Quebecois was elected and introduced public auto insurance which the Liberals now run in Quebec. A good friend of the Premier’s, Mr Bourassa, has in the recent past touted the Premier, David Peterson, as a Liberal leader for all of Canada, but in 1970 Liberals in Quebec campaigned on the issue of public auto insurance. So Liberals have at different times and at different places advocated --
Mr Kormos: As I say, the Liberals did not campaign on the policy of threshold insurance, neither in 1987 nor in 1985, not in this province. Indeed, they campaigned on a promise and it was a promise that they had a very specific plan to reduce automobile insurance premiums.
That was the promise and we have talked about it, oh so many times here at Queen’s Park and outside of Queen’s Park, the promise made in 1987, three days before the general election, by the Premier of Ontario down in Cambridge, Ontario. Of course that caught the interest of people in Ontario because they knew that the cost of automobile insurance was an important issue. They knew that the availability of auto insurance was an equally important issue. They knew that the shabby treatment of drivers and victims across Ontario was a paramount issue.
When that government began to sit in 1987 the constant question of the Premier was: “You made a promise that you had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. Please share it with us. Please tell us what you had in mind, Mr Premier, when you promised that you had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. Please, David Peterson, when you promised the people of Ontario that you had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums, tell us what you had in mind, because we would like to see it implemented. We would like to see it put into effect. We would like to see it enacted here in the province of Ontario.
Mr Kormos: The member for Ottawa West does not understand that when I am here, I suspect that can make up for a whole lot of Liberals. There only has to be one of me, notwithstanding that there are 10 or so of them.
The question was asked of the Premier: “Produce, deliver. Tell us what your plan was.” The Premier did not have one. The Premier had no idea what he was talking about. The Premier did not even give very much effect to his promise to cap or freeze insurance rates, because after they were frozen they kept going up: first, 4.5 per cent; then another 4.5 per cent -- that comes to 9.2 per cent in a way that results from the percentages being compounded -- then another 7.6 per cent.
Then we realized that caps and freezes did not mean anything at all anyway, because insurance companies were jerking around with the numbers and mucking around with the caps. They were doing flips. They were doing shuffles. What was happening was that if you were insured by insurance company A and insurance company A did not want to violate the spirit of the freeze or of the cap, insurance company A simply told you that it did not want to insure you any more.
Let’s say you were paying $850 or $1,000 a year to insurance company A. They wanted to charge you something well in excess of the 7.6 per cent, the latest freeze, so they simply told you that you were not going to be renewed. The people across Ontario have had this experience. They simply told you that your insurance was going to be cancelled upon the expiration or termination date of this policy.
What happened was that the broker or the insurer referred you to company B, and company B, with some moaning and groaning and some hesitation, would take you on, but instead of the $850 or $1,000 that you were paying to company A, its rate was $1,350 to $1,500, well in excess of any 7.6 per cent cap or freeze, the latest one.
It seemed to be a matter of just bad luck on the part of the insured until the insured looked at the policies of company A that did not renew them, that charged them $850 or $1,000, and company B that took them on after company A dropped them, and company B charged them $1,350 or $1,500 a year premium. They discovered that they had the same address, that they had the same executives and directors, the same president, the same treasurer. If you looked a little bit, if you scratched the surface of the corporate records, you found out that these in fact were sibling companies sharing the same parentage. That was the premium shuffle. That was the premium flip.
That certainly was not a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums, nor was it a very specific program of consumer protection because drivers, insured parties, were being thrown to the wolves.
We came to the Legislature and we tried to talk to the Minister of Financial Institutions, who talked about his superintendent of insurance and the scheme in effect to protect drivers against this type of shabby treatment. On the minister’s advice we wrote about these cases of premium shuffles to the superintendent. The superintendent replied and his reply was basically:
“Too bad, so sad. There is nothing we can do about it. There is nothing we are prepared, or nothing we intend to do about it.” Indeed, when finally pressed, the Minister of Financial Institutions agreed that this type of practice took place, agreed that it went on and agreed that there was nothing that he could do about it, nothing that he would do about it.
Let’s take a look at this particular bill, Bill 68, because this motion before the House is about the Liberals telling the people of Ontario that they do not want to see this bill debated here in the Legislative Assembly. They do not want to see it talked about, and there has been some talk, which may be misleading, about really to what extent this bill has been discussed so far.
At second reading, which is the first time the bill was subjected to debate here in the Legislative Assembly, it is common ground that the bill underwent some five days of debate. But what does that mean? Does that mean five days? Does that mean five days from eight in the morning until four at night? Of course not. It means somewhere between two and a half to three hours a day. That was for 130 people to talk about a piece of legislation that was shocking and alarming, because not only had the Liberals not campaigned on it during the last election, or any election prior to that, but their very own advisory boards had condemned it.
Mr Justice Osborne had condemned threshold automobile insurance in his report, the very same type of insurance was contained then and now in Bill 68. The Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, John Kruger and his multi-million dollar monster up in North York, had studied threshold systems, threshold systems that were not as onerous, not as draconian, not as rigorous in their standards and in their demands as this one was and is.
The threshold systems are primarily an American invention. Let’s not make any mistake about that. What we are talking about here is an import, something about which Americans, sadly, have a whole lot of experience, which is why American jurisdictions are abandoning threshold insurance.
Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board rejected and condemned threshold insurance, the very same sort of insurance the Premier would want us to buy via Bill 68. So Bill 68 was indeed one heck of a surprise when it came to this Legislative Assembly in time for second reading, the first opportunity members of the Legislature had to debate it.
It was something that was entirely alien to the recommendations of both Osborne and the government’s own Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. To say that there were some five afternoons, two and a half to three hours each, for 130 people to talk about that, indicates that there was not a great deal of time for an entirely novel and entirely alien proposal to be discussed at the first opportunity, the first opportunity given for a debate in the Legislature.
In September, up in North York at the Ministry of Transportation, five cabinet ministers came out to do their chorus line when they announced the Ontario motorist protection plan. What we have learned since those days is that really this is the Ontario government’s plan to protect the profitability of insurance companies and to condemn drivers, victims and taxpayers to constantly being skewered and having their pockets picked and their wallets and purses emptied.
When we were told about the Ontario motorist protection plan, I have to tell members that I was cynical at the time -- there are no two ways about it -- because I was hard-pressed to believe this government could ever keep a promise. I was hard-pressed to believe this government ever said what it meant or meant what it said because of its track record, its dismal, pitiful track record.
The Ontario motorist protection plan attracted, as I have said, not just the Minister of Financial Institutions but the young Solicitor General; the brand-new, spanking new Solicitor General was up there. The Minister of Transportation was up there and the Attorney General was up there. He may never forgive me for this, but I cannot remember who the fifth cabinet minister was. What an impact he made at the press conference in September 1989. I am pleased to have help in that regard. Nobody else can remember who it was.
Mr Kormos: This is like a Trivial Pursuit game. The member for Guelph this time wins the prize. The only other prize was the other day when I referred to members of the government caucus sitting there like an illustration from a Kurt Vonnegut Jr novel; that is the other Trivial Pursuit question. There is only one person in this whole building who has been able to tell me what that illustration is. Again, if any of the members can tell me here and now what that illustration is, he wins the second prize of the day. The parliamentary assistant, the Liberal member for Guelph, has won the first Trivial Pursuit prize.
The brand-new Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations talked about ghost cars to reduce auto insurance rates. We are familiar with the ministry’s use -- at least we are told about the ministry’s use; I am not familiar with it -- of ghost cars to deal with auto mechanic frauds.
What you do with a ghost car, as I understand it, is that maybe you take a sparkplug wire and disconnect it from the boot so that there is an arc between the end of that wire and the top of the sparkplug. You take it to a mechanic and say, “Can you identify the problem here?” If the mechanic subjects you to a new starter motor, a rebuilt carburettor or that sort of thing and charges you $1 million, the ministry then, with its ghost car, can figure out --
Mr Kormos: I have not been to Florida in a long time. I think it is somewhat difficult for a person who is on the provincial payroll to be vacationing in the United States. I think we should be vacationing right here in Ontario and promoting Ontario.
We were talking about ghost cars and how they work, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how a ghost car works in a motor vehicle collision scenario. How can you hide a dented fender? How can you conceal a smashed windshield? How can you fake a damaged tail-light lens? It seems very difficult for me to understand exactly what the ghost car is going to do in the context of auto body repair frauds. It is something the minister has never adequately explained.
Mr Kormos: He said, “There is going to be a ghost car.” I appreciate that he cannot tell us too much about it because if he tipped everybody off, then all these auto body repair shops would be tipped off to this ghost car. I have a hard time believing that. I do not know how a ghost car can be utilized effectively in an auto body repair scam situation.
There was absolutely no talk about talking with automobile manufacturers about the repairability of vehicles. We know that adds to the cost of motor vehicle auto body repairs, the very design, the fact that now you have to buy components. In many cars you cannot just buy a tail-light lens; you have to buy the whole tail-light assembly and it costs $200, $300, $400 or $500. You cannot buy single pieces, components, the parts of the whole. You have to buy the whole thing even though only a part of it is broken or damaged.
There was absolutely no talk about discussions with the automobile manufacturers and with the federal government to enforce standards about repairability in an effort to make auto body repairs more economical. That struck me as strange -- ghost cars, but no talk about the real, down-to-earth issues, no talk about asking the federal government to increase the standards, to improve on the standards for bumpers so that we have more than the modest collision effect of five miles an hour at the most. In kilometres that is around eight kilometres, an eight point something kilometres-per-hour collision.
That is nothing. Indeed, that buggy in the supermarket parking lot that floats down the incline into the rear end of your car ends up going faster than five miles an hour by the time it hits it, and that is the one that creates as many irate car owners as anything ever does. It never has a driver.
Mr Kormos: Perhaps that is the ghost car. It has caused more than a few dollars worth of collision damage, much of which has been, I concede, claimed against people’s first-party insurers. That is what their collision, they figure, is all about.
If you had been here, Mr Speaker, at the beginning, I was starting to explain why we are opposing this motion. I was talking about a history and I am already up to September 1989, up in North York at the Ministry of Transportation, with five cabinet ministers -- I can remember them this time -- the brand-new Solicitor General, the Minister of Financial Institutions, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, a brand-new minister in that portfolio.
Mr Kormos: The member for Guelph was not there as a minister; he was just there as a parliamentary assistant. There were a couple of others who should remain nameless. It is like Joe Friday. I was listening to it on the radio. They have Joe Friday serials where they talk about names being changed to protect the innocent. These people were simply brought along for the ride.
Ghost car: What ghost ear? We have never heard of it since. You would think that if the Ontario motorist protection plan had such an important feature, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations participating in programs to reduce auto body repair frauds, we would have heard -- they do not brag, but they sing their own praises often enough -- some of those praises being sung about how many places our ghost car has been at, how many communities, how many nasty, fraudulent auto body repairmen we have picked up.
That is really trying to pass the buck on to -- all I could tell members about where I come from -- many hard-working, well-trained, skilled mechanics who repair people’s cars as best they can, honestly, with integrity, but who are stymied by the high cost of parts, by the unrepairability of cars by virtue of design, by the fact that five-mile-per-hour, 8.2-kilometre-per-hour bumpers do not protect any motor vehicle against very much damage, especially when there is nothing that requires bumpers to be the same height.
Have members ever noticed that? You have all these great five-mile-per-hour bumpers sitting at different heights, so if you are going to hit somebody, look for the same Jeep Cherokee that you drive, the same year, and hit him at no faster than five miles an hour. Then maybe you will avoid extensive collision damage. But if you pick on a Ford, Chevy or a Chevy S-10 pickup truck, it is just not going to work because there is no synchronization.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): I think it is deserving of a point of order. I suppose your discussion is all related to the fact that in terms of the time allocation motion and your concern in bringing out these various points, under the time allocation motion you will not be able to have the full opportunity of discussing these aspects. I know, from time to time, you will remind all of us of those concerns that I have.
What is important to understand is that what we are doing right now -- I hear what you are saying. I am not worried about having only three days, three two-and-a-half-hour to three-hour periods to discuss this most important legislation to hit this province in a long time, because I am confident that the members of this Legislature -- this comes up for a vote, does it not?
When the members of this Legislature understand why we need more than a scanty three afternoons for 130 people to discuss such important legislation, I am confident that fair-minded people, intelligent, rational people, people who care about the drivers, victims and taxpayers of Ontario, people who care about the fact that a Legislative Assembly is all about debating the issues, people who believe that democracy is important, people who believe that legislators have a responsibility to preserve democratic traditions, people who believe that jackboot tactics of arrogant majorities cannot be permitted to prevail, people who believe that the delivery of 15,000 signatures to the Legislature is significant, people who believe the member for Guelph when he says about the submissions to the parliamentary committee that heard people from across Ontario, “We, the Liberals, got hammered by people in opposition” -- when the member for Guelph says that, people who believe him, people who believe that just because the government has a majority in the Legislature does not mean it can gag and muzzle the opposition, people who believe that the government should not prejudge the results of a committee process, people who believe that the committee is the most important part of the course of any bill through the Legislature, be it a provincial Legislature or a federal Legislature, people who believe that significant and important legislation that is going to create a payday for the auto insurance industry of $1 billion, those people are going to say: “Time allocation? What kind of little” -- l was going to say -- ”neofacist would think of time allocation in the context of that? What type of petty, small-minded, arrogant, disinterested, uncaring lackey of a big, powerful, wealthy automobile insurance industry would think of that?”
Mr Kormos: That was one letter I did not make reference to. Now that the member has brought it up, it is timely, because it was another letter that came with the petitions of 15,000 people. On one day alone we delivered 15,000 names to this Legislature, and as the member for Guelph says, “The Liberals got hammered.” I know what he was talking about; he was talking about the opposition to the bill. This is a letter that was meant to be read, and it is a very cynical letter. It sadly is a cynical letter.
I am almost reluctant to read it because I do not want the cynicism inherent in this letter to permeate this assembly. The minister may be pleased to hear this and the member for Guelph may be pleased to hear this, the Liberal from Guelph who is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions and who was sent out to the front lines while the minister stayed in the bunker.
Mr Kormos: I am reluctant, but I will. He says, “No-fault insurance will pass sure as the sun comes up in the morning.” I looked at it more than once. He says, “No-fault insurance will pass sure as the sun comes up in the morning. Reason number one: The Liberals have a big majority. Reason number two:
This is what the Liberals in Ontario have done to people who live in this great province. They have made them cynical. They have made them fearful of their government instead of respectful of their government. They have made them disfranchised when so many people fought so hard for so long to be enfranchised. They have alienated them from the democratic process because they have denied them a democratic process.
Mr Couchy came by his cynicism honestly. All he had to do was read the newspapers, watch the Legislative channel, watch what the Liberals are doing to this province, look at the sort of dirty, nasty little stuff that is contained in these types of motions. He says, “What should be done? The same as Walesa did, the same as the East Berhiners did, the same as the Hungarians did, the same as the Czechs did, the same as the Bulgarians did and the Romanians did and many more did.”
Here is a man who understands that sometimes people have to seize democracy back from their masters, that sometimes cynicism can develop into complacency and then into fear. But then, as the Poles did and the East Berliners did and the Hungarians did and the Czechs and the Slovaks and the Bulgarians and the Romanians did, out of that cynicism and fear and sense of disfranchisement comes a spirit which motivates them to say, “No more.”
Just as the people in eastern Europe have said, “No more,” to the arrogant, undemocratic institutions of those countries, the people of Ontario are going to say, “No more,” to the type of arrogant Liberals, the type of arrogant Peterson government that promises one thing and does not deliver another, but delivers nothing, that talks big, talks a big one, but delivers zip, zero.
The members should think about it for a minute because I have had so many people approach me in the context of so many different discussions -- provincial courts, just for example, provincial courts such as Niagara South is in dire need of. We learned it because the --
Mr Kormos: Exactly; we are talking about a government that is unresponsive, a government that should be compelled to sit here and listen to the debate and the discussion about this legislation until the heaves turn red and yellow again and fall from the trees. That is how long they should be forced to sit and listen. They might learn something, because they are not listening to the people out there in Ontario. They are not listening to the people out there on the main streets of big cities and small towns in the north and in the south and in the east and in the west.
They hear, but they are not listening. These people are cynical but they are also getting mad. Come the election, I hope -- there were rumours -- but provincial courts: Take the provincial court issue. Niagara South is in dire need of provincial court space, as well as district and Supreme Court space and as well as offices for court personnel and crown attorneys and judges. Just today we learned the Ministry of Labour shut down the provincial courtroom in Niagara Falls, a courtroom that was a satellite court, that functioned five days a week, and that its first appearance docket for this week, Thursday, is six pages long, around 120 accused. That is the first appearance date alone.
That is adult criminal court. Many of those will be in custody. Many of those will want to plead guilty and be dealt with and sentenced on that day, but the court has disappeared from Niagara Falls. First of all, what has happened is that there is going to be a whole chunk of charges about which the state loses jurisdiction. This shutdown of the court, just like the shutdown of the Legislature inherent in the spirit of this motion before the House right now, is going to result in any untold number of persons charged with criminal offences being released because the state will lose jurisdiction over them.
Mr Kormos: The member, as a lawyer, knows exactly what I am talking about. As a lawyer, he may well have defended people charged with criminal offences. If he did, he defended them well with skill and talent to the point where the crown could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt their guilt, such that they were acquitted. We are talking about instances where a court is shut down speedily like this, where people are going to show up at that courtroom, as their summonses, their recognizances, their release orders compel them to, and they are going to find closed doors. The state will lose jurisdiction over them. The state will have forfeited its charge at that point and the charge is history.
Remember before, when persons charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in drugs -- not little itsy bits of drugs, not that that should make any difference, but these were big-time cocaine traffickers, the sort of people who are poison in our communities -- were discharged on a motion under the Charter of Rights because the district court judge up at University Avenue here in Toronto said that there had been an undue delay in the trial of those people?
Mr Kormos: The member was here when I raised it. He was as concerned and mad about it as I was, that these people were discharged because court space provided by the province was not available to the district court for these people to have been tried speedily. They were not discharged because they were innocent. They were not discharged and sent out of the courtroom free as a bird because all of a sudden somebody decided that traffic in cocaine was a good thing. They were not discharged because the police and the RCMP had not done their jobs. They were not discharged because the federal prosecutor was not prepared to prosecute.
They were discharged because this Attorney General failed to provide adequate district court space with the same arrogant attitude that is behind this motion before the House right now. This Attorney General failed to provide adequate court space, so we ran the risk of drug traffickers being sent out on the street.
In the city of Niagara Falls we run the risk of people being discharged and the state losing jurisdiction over the criminal charges because the courtroom has been shut down. We see people being compelled, as accused persons, to be the subject matter of bail hearings that are going to be conducted in the bowels of a police station now. We are talking about justice. We are talking about a motion that displays no sense of justice. We are talking about a phenomenon right here in Niagara Falls where the greatest injustice is going to take place, where people are going to be forced into bail hearings in the bowels of a police station.
Where do public courtrooms take place in the bowels of a police station? Where does the freedom to exhaust all of one’s legal remedies take place in the bowels of a police station? Where are the spectators expected to sit in the bowels of the police cells? There is a gross injustice that is going to flow from that.
Defence lawyers, I am told, are being telephoned, “Would you please tell your accused client to go to St Catharines on whatever day he or she is scheduled for trial?” The members know that is baloney, that one cannot compel the attendance of a person at a courtroom in St Catharines when the return is to a courtroom in Niagara Falls. First of all, we are talking about two different jurisdictions, are we not? We are talking about the judicial district of Niagara South as compared to the judicial district of Niagara North.
It is not as if the Attorney General and the government did not know about the pitiful state of courtrooms in Niagara South. They knew we were going to respond strongly to this motion, and they should have known that the courtroom in Niagara Falls was destined to be shut down, the doors bolted.
We talk about agendas. I wonder what the government’s agenda on that is. Is that government really saying, “Oh gosh, the Ministry of Labour shut it down and there’s nothing we can do about it. We didn’t know that was going to happen,” or is that part of a process designed to eliminate satellite courts in Niagara region? It is a worthy question, Mr Speaker, and I know you have a vital interest in that.
We are talking about this legislation, Bill 68, having been spoken about in second reading for a mere five days, afternoons only. This government, the Liberals, had every intention of ramming it through this Legislature before Christmas 1989; they did not want to have a single day of public committee hearings. The Minister of Financial Institutions announced that this bill was going to be passed by the end of December 1989.
Although on the one hand there are a whole lot of promises this government has not kept, among them the promise to provide a plan to reduce auto insurance premiums, there is a promise about which we can only speculate. That is the promise that must have been made to the auto insurance industry, that Bill 68 was going to become law come hell or high water. That promise, if it was made, the Liberals are going to do everything in their power to make sure it is kept. They are going to keep that promise to the big, wealthy, corporate auto insurance industry. Do they keep promises to the people of Ontario, the working people, the senior citizens, the young people in schools and colleges and universities, the young graduates who are looking for their first jobs? Do they keep promises to them? Not on your life.
This government had no intention of ever having committee hearings at all. It knew that committee hearings would expose this legislation to scrutiny, to examination by individuals and groups across Ontario and perhaps from beyond Ontario. Indeed, they were forewarned of that because among others who were critical of this whole approach -- prior to the committee that we in the opposition wrested from the government -- Ralph Nader was outspoken about this.
The members might remember last time we were here when we were trying to make some introductory remarks to this legislation in committee of the whole. When I was so rudely cut short, with all due respect to the Speaker, I was talking about the comments that Ralph Nader made before the committee on 15 January 1990. I have those comments before me in transcript form in Hansard and I am going to make reference to them during the course of my comments when it comes to this motion.
It is the very sort of criticism that Ralph Nader made of this legislation that this government wants to avoid now. It would be different if this government could tell the public that there is an agenda it feels compelled to deal with over the course of the next month or two months, but there is not one.
Let me tell the House why this motion is so inappropriate and why it smacks of nothing more and nothing less than pure jackbootism, than pure disdain for democracy, disdain for the people of Ontario. Let me tell members why. Second reading, a new bill, a thorough and tragic impact on the rights of victims and on the rights of people to have access to courtrooms. Now the problem with –
We are talking about the committee-of-the-whole hearings, introductory debates that were sadly abbreviated. We are talking about second reading when there was just the barest opportunity for 130 members to participate in debate about a piece of legislation that so tragically, sadly, dangerously -- from the point of view of civil libertarians -- eliminates the rights of people to use the courts. This goes far beyond insurance law reform. This goes to the very heart of whether or not we in our province are going to let people use the courtroom as a forum in which to resolve disputes, as a forum in which to seek justice.
We are having a hard time believing that people can ever find justice here in the Legislative Assembly. Justice is something that we are hard pressed to find with this government, with the Liberals forming the government here at Queen’s Park.
Members might remember that some time ago I told them that not only is justice hard to find with this Liberal government, but that if Diogenes were walking down this corridor in front of those Liberal benches with his lamp, he would not even pause for a moment in front of any of them.
But we are talking about committee of the whole, wherein things were remarkably different. We won through hard negotiation, notwithstanding that the Minister of Financial Institutions said: “No committee hearings. I’ve made up my mind. The insurance companies” -- he did not say this, but you could read it in between the lines -- ”have made up their minds and they’ve written the lines. The insurance industry in Ontario has made up its mind that it wants this legislation passed.” The minister said: “No committee hearings. Why should I, Murray Elston, listen to the people of Ontario. My ear, my umbilical cord is connected with the auto insurance industry. That’s my lifeline.”
That is where the donations come from. That is where the Liberal Party received over $100,000 in campaign contributions in the last general election, and Lord knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, in third-party advertising by the auto insurance. Members remember that stuff, do they not?
The auto insurance industry wrote those ads, provided those funds. Did they write this motion also? Did they write the motion? It sounds like the type of language they use, it sounds like their style, it sounds like their approach to things.
The Minister of Financial Institutions appeared one day in front of those committee hearings that we won. He appeared on the first day to unload his opening salvo and then he disappeared. He was long gone, never to be seen again.
The poor member for Guelph, a Liberal, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, lie was there. He was there and I am sure with some great trepidation. I am sure he woke up in the morning and thought, “My goodness, what is going to happen today?” The parliamentary assistant surely must have said: “What have I done to deserve this? I wasn’t involved with Patti Starr. Why am I being punished?”
That is what the member for Guelph must have said every morning when he woke up. He must have turned to his wife and said: “Honey, have we ever had any phone calls, any messages from Patti Starr? I cannot believe I am being punished this way by David Peterson and Murray Elston. Why would they send me out to get hammered when Murray Elston is off in the bunker away from all the flak?” One can speculate that the member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, must have asked himself that.
What did he do wrong? Rick Ferraro is a nice guy. He treats his wife well. He treats his kids well. He is respected by his family. He was respected by the people who live in Guelph until he became so identified with this bad, bad legislation that they know is going to hurt drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims. Rick was forced into forsaking the people of Guelph. but there are a few insurance companies located in Guelph that I am sure are eternally thankful to Mr Ferraro. that appreciate --
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I am hearing some unfortunate banter and I really do not want to hear it. Members know that you are not supposed to be imputing motives on either side. You are not supposed to be calling members by their first names; you call them by their ridings. Members know the rules of debate; would you please adhere to them? You would make my job so much simpler.
Mr Haggerty: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I apologize for calling the member Peter, it should be the member for Welland-Thorold, and I was just raising the question to him, where was he last spring when his seat was vacant for three or four days a week? Was he at the Ontario Automobile insurance Board hearings?
I want to tell you, Mr Speaker, I appreciate the guidance and direction that the Chair provides me frequently. I have every intention of abiding by that direction. I may have to be reminded, and I do not mind that at all. I welcome your interjections, and I indeed look forward to them On some of your rulings I cannot be so charitable in my comments, with respect, knowing full well that the Chair is the Chair, and be it right or wrong, it is the Chair.
We were talking about the difference between what happened in this short period of committee hearings and this even shorter period, if the Liberals had their way, of committee of the whole. We were talking about a minister who would not show up at the committee hearings. He would not show up to listen to the people, some of whom travelled great distances and went to great lengths and great expense to themselves, and difficulty, to make their views known about this legislation. He was there for the first day, the opening salvo, and then every day after that it was the poor member for Guelph.
I am sure his wife does not call him that, and his wife surely in the morning said: “Rick, do you have to go again? The press is dumping all over you. Rick, you don’t look like a mushroom. Why is Murray Elston treating you like a mushroom?” I will refer to him properly as the member for Guelph, but I am sure his wife does not call him that, I am sure his kids do not call him that, and the dog probably does not even come when called.
But it remains that the minister was hidden away in the bunker. It got to the point where at one point I speculated -- it was pure speculation -- that maybe the minister was so harmed politically by Bill 68 that he had gotten into the witness protection program and was being given a new identity, a new job, a new place to live, some nice little bungalow with a white picket fence in northern Ontario. With a new identity, he might be moderately palatable.
But lo and behold, he was there all the time, conveying the messages on occasion, I am sure, to his parliamentary assistant, declining phone calls from the parliamentary assistant. I can just hear it, “Oh, that -- tell him I’m not in,” because the last thing in the world the minister wanted to do was to hear more tales of woe that the parliamentary assistant reported on a daily basis about what happened during the course of the committee hearings. Because the parliamentary assistant was dead on; the Liberals got hammered. Every single submission, other than those which were from the insurance industry or its buddies, thoroughly condemned this legislation.
But he was there on the first day. He was there to dump all over John Bates, the president of PRIDE, People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere. He showed up the first day to unleash his opening salvo, to crap all over John Bates, who has about as much integrity --
Ralph Nader, one of the leading consumer advocates in North America, in the world, who has taken on the big guys, has taken on Ford, General Motors, the chemical companies and the insurance companies in the United States, came up here, taking time out of his busy schedule, to tell us in Ontario, to say: “My goodness, we in the United States look to Ontario and look to Canada for progressive legislation. We look to Canadians for leadership in things like insurance, and now I see you following states like Michigan, New York and New Jersey. You have taken the bad, augmenting that and making it worse, creating a scenario that is unjust, unpalatable, unacceptable and dangerous, one that won’t serve drivers, one that won’t serve victims, one that won’t serve taxpayers, one that will be just about perfect if you’re an auto insurance company.”
One day we were at the committee hearings, and this is what the minister was not able to participate in, because I suggested to the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, that there was something wrong with this legislation. He said:
“The legislation isn’t perfect. We know that.” I reflected and I realized: “No, member for Guelph, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, you’re wrong again. This legislation is perfect if you are an auto insurance company. This is perfect legislation. What an incredible giveaway. You cash in all your green stamps and you get the biggest prize in the book.”
This legislation permits the auto insurance industry to jack up, to increase drivers’ premiums by as much as 50 per cent in the first year alone. That is what the Minister of Financial Institutions told the whole province, that people’s insurance rates in Ontario will go up by as much as 50 per cent. That extra money is theirs to do with as they wish, no questions asked.
This legislation permits the Ontario automobile insurance industry to deny innocent injured victims just about $823 million in compensation for pain and suffering, to deny them that, to not pay that to innocent injured victims when they would otherwise be entitled to it, and it protects those same auto insurance companies from ever being taken to court for refusing to pay that money out. That is the ultimate goal, that is the ultimate end of a threshold.
A threshold insurance system is not about letting injured people into a compensatory scheme; it is about keeping the vast majority of injured people out of a compensatory scheme. It is not about a door that lets people in; it is about a door and a fence and barbed wire that keeps people out. It is about a barrier. Denial of the right to use the courts is the penultimate protection for the auto insurance industry, because it means that the little person can never seek justice in a courtroom, can never call upon the power of a judge or a jury to help him, the little person, out when that little person is fighting a big auto insurance industry that is so wealthy and that is so powerful.
How wealthy? How powerful? Powerful enough to direct the hand of this government. Powerful enough to get what it wants from the Liberal Party in Ontario. Powerful enough to force the Liberal government to betray its promise that it had a specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. And wealthy enough? Of course wealthy enough. Wealthy enough to provide campaign contributions in excess of $100,000 in 1987 and to provide third-party advertising in the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
I wish the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations were here earlier, because he is the guy who was up in North York talking about the ghost car. Well, the minister is the ghost, is the person who sort of wandered in here like a press conference past, and he is the one we were talking about just a few moments ago. I am sorry to talk in his absence, but we were not going to wait until he showed up. He is the one who participated in that chorus line, because he is the one who made the promise about the ghost car, the one that surely is a ghost car, because we have never seen or heard of it since. Nobody has. It was part of that big lineup of broken promises -- sad, pathetic people.
I really do look forward to when the member for Sudbury East, whose father, the ex-member for Sudbury East, surely calls her Shelley Martel, gets to talk, because I can only talk a little bit about the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The only thing I have heard about him in terms of the function I have had, auto insurance critic, is about his ghost car, and a ghost car surely it is, but the member for Sudbury East will be able to talk about the auto insurance legislation and the so-called Ontario motorist protection plan. Some protection. A heck of a plan, though; I let members know that.
She will be able to talk about the ghost car, and she will be able to recall, when she talks about auto insurance and the ghost car and the so-called Ontario motorist protection plan and closure and shutting down democratic process, her experience with Bill 162. She will be able to talk about the fact that injured workers across Ontario told this government that its legislation was dangerous, sad, bad, designed to hurt little people, designed to take from the worker and cost the worker more than it ever has before in terms of diminished benefits and greater cost. The member for Sudbury East will be able to reflect on the broken promises that this government made to workers in Ontario, and most specifically this government’s attack, its assault, on injured workers.
We have the Ontario motorist protection plan. We have the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations with his ghost car. As I say, it is like Casper the Friendly Ghost; Casper has got to be driving this ghost car somewhere, wherever ghosts stay, because we have not seen or heard from it since. We have not seen or heard any bravado from this government as to how effective this ghost car program was. Why? Because there is no ghost car, there is no program -- there is another Liberal promise; that is the penultimate oxymoron -- it just don’t exist.
Ghost car? Let’s talk about the enforced highway patrol. Let’s talk about the 100 new OPP officers who are going to patrol Highways 401 and 427. That impression was clearly given. The north knows it can ill afford to have more OPP officers taken away from the small communities they are responsible for policing. The OPP know that full well itself. But we have not heard a single bit of chest thumping and bravado from these guys over here, these Liberal members, about how many new OPP officers have been hired to do highway patrol, to do Highway Traffic Act enforcement on the 401 and on the 427.
We have not heard about a single new OPP officer. That was when the Solicitor General was part of this chorus line. He was there to make that particular promise. No new OPP officers, no significant increased enforcement of highway traffic legislation on 401 and 427 as a part of this OMPP. It just was not there. If it had been, the promises about ghost cars, the promises about increased OPP coverage show a cynicism, because they were promises that were not meant to be kept, that is paralleled in the content of this particular motion.
We are talking here about a motion that is designed not just to stifle but to smother and kill debate. We are talking about a motion that is particularly repugnant to opposition members because opposition members, both from the official opposition and from the third party, are eager to talk about Bill 68 and to debate what it is really going to do to drivers and injured victims in Ontario.
I have some real understanding of why the Liberals would want to move this motion and, subject to their having heard the arguments that will be made in opposition to it, want it to pass. Not too many Liberals are prepared to stand up and talk about Bill 68. They do not want there to be any more than one afternoon available for third reading because the number of Liberal backbenchers or frontbenchers who are prepared to talk about Bill 68 could be counted on one hand. Those are the ones who are compelled to do it by virtue of their status as parliamentary assistants.
Where was the debate about the legislation in second reading? There was a great deal of contribution from New Democrats, who had great concerns about the bill, who knew that it endangered the welfare of drivers, taxpayers and, sadly enough, innocent injured victims. Support from these folk in government? They did not stand up and support the legislation, of course not. They have run from the legislation, just like the Minister of Financial Institutions has run from it and tried as hard as he can not to be identified with it.
Another reason for wanting closure, another reason for wanting to stifle debate is because the Minister of Financial Institutions can stay away from this issue when it is in committee, but he cannot stay away from the issue when it is in the House. It is in his interests, in his personal political interests, to have as brief a debate as possible about this legislation.
There are more than a few motives for wanting to move this motion of closure, this motion designed to smother debate, this motion designed to prevent and avoid debate, this motion that is so reflective of where the Liberals are at in Ontario in 1989-90, indeed in 1988 and 1987. If it were not for the NDP opposition and its demands in the period from 1985 to 1987, this government would be able to make no claims at all to ever having achieved any significant goals.
So we have no ghost car; we have no 100 OPP officers. Pretty pathetic so far. We have no attention whatsoever to what really causes costs. We have not heard a single word from these guys, the Liberals, about proposals to make cars safer, proposals to reduce repair costs to automobiles. We have not heard a single word from them about upgrading the standards required before a person can acquire a driver’s licence.
That is why we are so sad to hear what the Minister of Financial Institutions said about John Bates. the president of People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, and one other who is notable. If the minister had been at the committee hearings he would have heard from Jock Shields from down London way, who is a long-time driving instructor and runs a driving school there. Not a single word from this government about making it tougher to get behind a wheel of a car.
Really, if you want to address the problem of accidents, accident frequency, injuries, property damage and damage to vehicles, you talk about training drivers better before you put them behind the wheels of 3,000- or 4.000-pound motor vehicles going as fast as they are capable of going. John Bates from PRIDE pleaded with the Liberals to start effecting some real changes in driver licensing.
We want to talk about that during the course of a debate and discussion during committee of the whole. This motion is designed to preclude and prevent any of that sort of discussion. John Bates, who provides leadership to people in communities across Ontario and beyond, has some very valid contributions that were made during the brief 30 minutes allocated to him; indeed, during the first IS minutes that was allocated to him, the subsequent 15 minutes being left for questioning.
This government has not done anything about increasing the standards for people getting behind the wheel of a car, for requiring that drivers before they are granted licences complete a prescribed course of driver training, not just so that they can receive some benefits, but as a necessary prerequisite to operating a motor vehicle on any street, road, avenue or highway. That is only rational. The fact is that this government has not done anything about driver licensing rules that are basically the same as they were almost 40 years ago. Little was done in that regard.
During the course of committee we heard from, as I have said, parties making submissions for a whole lengthy period of time. These people were restricted to 30 minutes. One of the things that is important is how inadequate the whole committee series of hearings was. That, once again, is why it is so important that there be full debate both in committee of the whole and clause-by-clause consideration along with effective and thorough debate on third reading.
One of the many reasons why this motion is so completely inappropriate is that the committee, notwithstanding the urgings of the opposition participants in that committee, simply refused to work. The committee would not sit Monday mornings. That makes four days of sittings really three and a half, does it not? They refused to sit Monday mornings, notwithstanding that I urged them to. Of course, the argument was, “Some people have to travel to get to the committee.”
But what committee members knew and what the public should know is that committee members are paid when the committee is sitting, when the House is not, for travel on a Sunday. It is remarkable that committee members could expect to be paid for travel on a Sunday, yet not expect to have to sit Monday mornings. So we really are not talking about four days of sitting a week; we are talking about three and a half days.
There were an incredible number of parties who wanted to make submissions, who wanted to make contributions during the committee process and were denied that opportunity because, as members should not forget, only an abbreviated period of time was allowed for those hearings in the first instance.
Another reason why this motion is so inappropriate and has to be defeated is because clause-by-clause in committee was only permitted for four days. The first day was a Monday, which meant only half a day. The committee refused to sit in the evenings, which was suggested to them by opposition members of that committee. Half a day on Monday, then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday was a day of a snowstorm when the committee, wanting to be fair to those members who had to travel and drive and get from one place to the other or even use public transit, agreed that it would cut a couple of hours off its day to let those people who had problems about transportation get out of there.
So there was simply no way during the clause-by-clause consideration in committee that all of the bill was considered. We had to accelerate and, on agreement, jump a whole bunch of clauses and sections in the bill to get to the threshold. By that time there was, as I recall, some 30 minutes left for each party to discuss the threshold during clause-by-clause in the committee hearings.