Miss Martel: On 31 March the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation terminated provincial funding to the Northeastern Ontario Regional Sports Committee. For 16 years, this nonprofit agency has been promoting and co-ordinating amateur sport in northeastern Ontario. With the end of provincial support, the committee also closed its doors on 31 March, as other funding sources were not secured.
In a 20 March letter to me, the minister admitted that a study commissioned by the ministry did recommend that the committee continue, but at arm’s length from the ministry and with the aid of more volunteers from communities in northeastern Ontario. However, the ministry was not willing to discuss the matter further. The minister stated that he wished to use the funds to provide new sports initiatives in the north. He cited Sportability and the Ontario athletes assistance program as new, with continued funding for the national coaching certificate program.
Sportability was, in fact, piloted two to three years ago in northeastern Ontario and is designed for six- to nine-year-olds, with delivery in the school system. This physical education program, administered by a Toronto agency, should be funded by the Ministry of Education. The Ontario athletes assistance program offers $500 per athlete per year for travel to competitions, but it is a duplicate of a program offered in northwestern Ontario. The national coaching certificate program is run by the sports council already but, with its demise, another sponsor is needed.
The ministry should have continued to fund the sports council until other sponsors were located. Now nothing fills the gap and there has been no indication that the ministry will create another agency to handle sports in northeastern Ontario.
Mr Jackson: The nation has cast its eyes on the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board because they recently fed baked worms to kindergarten students. This lesson was sanctioned by the Ministry of Education via its Circular 14 curriculum directive. Although some may wince at the thought, a diet of worms would be better than what this Liberal government has been feeding children and educators in this province.
Mr Tatham: Did you ever try to ring the bell at the fair? We have a real bellringer being manufactured in Oxford by Holland Equipment Ltd. They export 70 per cent of their production to the United States and ship machines to Japan, Sweden and Australia. It is a tillage tool that (a) increases farm profits, (b) creates Canadian jobs, (c) controls farm erosion and (d) reduces runoff pollution.
It is called an Aer Way. In 1982, Holland sold 17 units. Last year their sales were up to 700 units. Presently, sales are running about 50 per cent ahead of forecast and they are working six days a week.
Mr Mackenzie: Between the federal government’s free trade sellout and dismantling of the Foreign Investment Review Agency and the refusal of the provincial Liberal government to deliver on promises to protect workers in plant closures, workers’ jobs and hopes of developing high-tech industries are both going down the toilet.
The profitable Modular Controls firm in Burlington is being closed just two years after being purchased by Trinova Corp of the United States, and the equipment is being moved to the United States. Trinova gains a highly successful product developed here and more than 40 workers in Burlington, and probably another 30 in Etobicoke, lose their jobs. The American company offers a $1,000 bonus to employees only if they stay until the plant closes in May.
Corporate rationalization and what is good for business is this government’s creed. What is good for workers simply does not count. After all, what is a worker’s job, or even a highly successful and profitable firm developing new technology and products, when it stands in the way of more profits for the corporations?
When it comes to a decision between what is good for workers and their communities or corporate profits, this government sold out to business early in its term. No wonder the workers are angry at the vultures gathering to move the equipment and jobs down to the United States.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I rise today to urge the government to support technology that could prevent another disaster like the recent tire fire at Hagersville from ever occurring again. For over one year now, St Marys Cement Corp has requested permission from the Minister of the Environment to do a test burn of tires. While the Minister of Mines, the member for Quinte, recently indicated his interest in the project, as of today, St Marys has still not received approval from the Ministry of the Environment.
Burning tires is an alternative to the potentially hazardous practice of tire storage. As the Hagersville tire fire has demonstrated, storage can be dangerous and expensive. What is more, tire burning is a proven technology currently being used in the United States and Europe that saves on the cost of importing coal from the United States and is less detrimental to the environment than the burning of coal.
Mr Owen: One of the first people I heard of when I moved to Barrie in May 1959 was Ralph Snelgrove. He was a doer, someone who got things done, a man concerned about his community. Ralph Snelgrove founded the Barrie AM radio station CKBB in 1949. Six years later he founded the television station CKVR.
Ralph had a sense of humour which enabled him to put calamities into their proper light. For example, in the opening program of the Barrie radio station a horrendous lightning storm struck the community. They were no sooner on air than lightning knocked them out of commission. Ralph used to tell me that they started with a bang.
Ralph was born in Newfoundland. His roots taught him a way of communicating with people of all walks of life. He helped bring about many fine projects, such as the Barrie Lions Club pool and the YMCA. In the 1950s, Ralph served as a Barrie school trustee. When others were thinking of retirement, Ralph, well into his late 60s, served as a Barrie city alderman and twice carried the Liberal banner in federal elections.
Ralph has played a leading role in helping to raise $12 million of the $16 million required from the public for the new Barrie Royal Victoria Hospital. Ralph has been involved with Big Brothers, the food bank, the United Way and the chamber of commerce. His peers in the field of broadcasting honoured Ralph by making him a member of the Broadcast Hall of Fame. His wife, Val, and his family will sorely miss Ralph. However, his friends and those who benefited from his energy and compassion will also sorely miss him.
Mr Wildman: I am gratified that the conservation officers in this province have finally received the justice they deserve and have been reclassified to take into account their responsibilities as not only technicians but also peace officers who have a responsibility to protect not only the fish and game but also the population of the province and to ensure that the fish and game regulations, as well as the forestry and parks regulations, are properly enforced.
It is unfortunate, however, that the provincial government, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Management Board of Cabinet had to be dragged kicking and screaming to recognizing the true worth of the conservation officers in this province. We now have the dispute resolved, a dispute that first came to the fore in 1985. It took five years of arbitration and negotiations before they won their fight. Would that the Ministry of Natural Resources and the provincial government in this province had recognized the worth of the conservation officers rather than having to be forced to recognize it, to reclassify them and to pay them up to $38,000 retroactive pay.
Mr Cousens: Listen to this quotation: “Co-ordination of municipal and interregional transit systems, fare integration, commuter rail service upgrades and improvements to the TTC rapid transit network are among the highlights of the Ontario government’s Transportation Directions for the Greater Toronto Area.”
No, this is not a synopsis of tomorrow’s scheduled press conference at Union Station by the Minister of Transportation concerning the transit development initiatives. In fact, it comes from a 24 May 1988 press release by the former minister outlining “immediate transit commitments and longer-term directions.”
Tomorrow the Minister of Transportation will announce the construction of a Finch Avenue subway loop and an Eglinton Avenue busway, an expansion of GO Transit services and the purchase of Union Station. These immediate transit commitments were first outlined by the TTC in May 1985. The transit plans were conveniently reannounced in May 1988 by the ministry in a document entitled Transportation Directions for the Greater Toronto Area.
Mr Sola: For 50 years now Canada and the rest of the western world have been making pious statements regarding the illegality and their nonrecognition of the Soviet occupation of Lithuania and the Baltic states.
On 11 March, President Vytautas Landsbergis proclaimed the independence of Lithuania from Moscow’s rule. What does this mean? It simply means that Mr Landsbergis made a de facto reality of our de jure pronouncements. How has Canada, the United States and the western world reacted? Have they afforded official recognition to Lithuania’s independence? “This is not the time,” is our response. Shades of Chamberlain and “peace in our time.”
Are we saying that for 50 years we did not mean what we said, or do we mean that today we do not have the courage to back up our convictions? It seems to me that all the courage displayed today is in non-free countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Ukraine. Perhaps “free world” should be redefined as “lacking in or absence of courage.”
Like the Chinese student facing down the tanks in Tiananmen Square, they are confronting the Soviet tanks in Lithuania while we bury our heads in the sand. We must support Lithuania. We must force Gorbachev to the negotiating table. We cannot allow a repeat of the Chinese and Romanian scenarios. Canada and especially the United States must give official recognition to Lithuania.
Hon Mr Beer: Today I am announcing the release of an important study of this province’s social services system. As the members are well aware, the government of Ontario is committed to improving that system, but we believe we cannot and should not act in isolation from our partners in managing, funding and planning services and programs for the people of Ontario.
As members know, the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee was established three years ago. It was charged with the onerous but essential task of reviewing the roles and responsibilities of the provincial and municipal governments in the management, funding and planning of our social services.
The 11-member review committee comprised four senior representatives of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, three from the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association and four from my ministry. The committee’s mandate was to review the strengths and weaknesses of the existing relationships between the ministry and municipalities with respect to social services delivery and funding, to establish program and cost-sharing objectives and, most important, to propose options for a more rational framework for establishing roles and responsibilities.
The committee reviewed the social system through extensive research with representatives of the provincial and municipal governments, as well as people from the voluntary services sector. It is my pleasure to report to the house that the committee has completed its work.
Nous rendons donc public aujourd’hui le rapport du Comité d’examen des services sociaux provinciaux-municipaux, dont la tâche était d’examiner le rôle et la responsabilité des gouvernements provincial et municipaux en matière de gestion, de financement et de planification de nos services sociaux.
Le comité a étudié le système des services sociaux moyennant des recherches poussées, réalisées de concert avec des représentants des gouvernements provincial et municipaux et des personnes provenant du secteur des services bénévoles.
Ce rapport vient compléter les résultats d’autres études importantes, notamment ceux du Comité d’examen de l’aide sociale. Il s’avérerait, sans aucun doute, de grande valeur au fur et à mesure que nous procéderons à restructurer notre système de services sociaux.
This report complements the work of many other significant reviews, most notably the Social Assistance Review Committee. It will prove valuable as we move forward to reshape our social services system.
Over the next six months the Association of Municipalities of Ontario will consult with its members to examine the review’s recommendations. I look forward to receiving their response as well as the views of community agencies and the voluntary services sector. I believe it is vital to have the benefit of these responses before taking any action on the committee’s recommendations.
I am delighted that four members of the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee are in the House today. It is my pleasure to welcome and introduce them: Ron Book, mayor of the town of Grimsby, who co-chaired the committee; Nancy Smith, councillor and chairman of the social service committee of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton; Phil Johnston, commissioner of social services for the regional municipality of Waterloo; and John MacKinnon, administrator of social services for Huron county and a member of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association.
I want to thank profoundly all the committee members for the contributions each of them has made to this important review. It offers a strategic tool to help us shape our social services system and meet the challenges we will face together in the future.
Mr Allen: I rise to respond to the statement just made by the Minister of Community and Social Services. Perhaps my first remarks should be to pay my own tribute to the members of the committee, who laboured on this document. I think that any persons who give service to the province in trying to straighten out some of the jurisdictional and funding problems deserve tribute, regardless of the results that they produce, because it is no mean feat and no easy task to wrestle with some of the complexities of finance, jurisdiction and administration of complex social programs in this province.
Having said that, I want to indicate the couple of items in the report that do impress me positively. I think that certainly it is in the spirit of the Social Assistance Review Committee recommendations in so far as it is in some measure consistent with the proposals relating to the unification of the delivery of income support programs and, second, in so far as it is recommended that the province take over 100 per cent of the funding of children’s services on the one hand, including, of course, administration of and responsibilities entirely for children’s aid work in the province and 100 per cent of the funding devoted to income support programs in general. I believe that is a very healthy and wholesome development.
On the other hand, I see something of a retreat in going from 80-20 to 75-25. I am not sure how that will go down in the municipalities. I also observe that I think that one of the elements of the report that the minister should work with as quickly as possible is the proposal that there be an equalization mechanism, something that exists between federal and provincial governments, to see that the adequacy of resources of each community is balanced against its capacity to deliver services, so that no community or region is delivered less than average services at more than average cost. That, I think, is a valuable principle to extend into provincial social service administration and funding.
However, when I come to the administrative side of the document, and unless my fuller reading of this will betray something else to me, I find it curious that what was supposed to be an effort at producing a more rational structure for the delivery of social services does not appear to me to have clarified very much or to have reorganized or rationalized very much. I see a number of areas in which matters still await resolution; for example, cost-sharing of services, service planning and service supervision.
Evidently those delegated by the ministry to contribute to this report went with no particular directions, and the document that has resulted has no particular conclusion in those areas. If we are going to go through six months of consultation with the municipalities on the basis of a number of recommendations, for instance, that do not have any specific focus, where are we going to be in six months’ time and how long will it be before we get a resolution of these problems?
Second, the whole jurisdictional administrative problem appears to be layered upon layer in a most confusing fashion. There is a great deal of discussion around extensive consultation on an ongoing basis, developing community plans that will consult everybody and his dog, including those involved in land use development. The ministry apparently is supposed to review and respond to these, but it does not really say exactly where the buck stops, who makes the decision. Where in the last analysis are the hard decisions going to be made in the administration of this system?
The system has been getting out of hand over the years in terms of the devolution on to regional offices and now on to community-based agencies, which have been given more and more responsibilities. One hundred per cent funding is not going to help them; 100 per cent of what? That does not mean it is going to be adequate. It means that they themselves will be backed up on to community resources, as they have been in the past, if current funding patterns persist. We will be left in exactly the same position as we were.
As for a system that is more accessible, as the Thomson report proposed we should have for the users of the system, it sounds equally convoluted and equally as difficult of access as it was in the past.
Again, I will reserve my final judgement on a very careful reading which must follow, which I have not had time to totally do this morning, but on the basis of initial perusal of chapters and recommendations I have some major problems with what the minister has before him.
Mrs Cunningham: It is with pleasure that we look at the report of the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee, and I would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, to recognize the expertise of the membership of that committee. The minister should be particularly pleased with that kind of input, and of course in the long term we are hoping that the recommendations will be taken very seriously and will be dealt with, with prompt action. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has as its president Grant Hopcroft, who has kept me informed of the progress from time to time, and I have been particularly grateful for that kind of expertise as well.
I can say from the very beginning that what the minister has before him, as the committee members must recognize, is an extremely complicated document. As we take a look at recommendations around different responsibilities in cost-sharing, I am sure that there will have to be some tradeoffs made in the process, but I think the real concern of the municipalities, as they are involved in providing programs for family and children, is that they have some control over and responsibility for the administration of those programs, and at the same time that they decide where the real needs are and how much money they will be expected to spend.
I think that this document gives us a lot of insight into the problems and definitely some room for thought in the recommendations for very major change in both costing and responsibilities for program, and so I wish the minister and his staff the best as he tries to deal with this.
I would like to take this opportunity also to say very seriously that we all know that we began consultation in May 1987 on this responsibility of the province and the municipalities around the delivery of social services. We were blessed, I think, with a major review of the Social Assistance Review Committee that dovetails in.
We are waiting with some degree of anxiety for a new child care act and for the long-term care report of the minister. I hope that all of these things can happen very quickly, because I think the great criticism of the government would be that it has had wonderful advice, and here is an example of it, it has had great opportunity for input by some of the best people out there, as I describe, in the front line, and now it is the responsibility of the government to respond quickly. Six months is six months. My recommendation would be to do it sooner, but that is not unusual for myself, because there are so many families and so many organizations right now in limbo and that have been for some amount of time.
At the same time, I will take this opportunity to say also that what prompted this review was a lack of communication with municipalities in the past around how programs were delivered and who should pay for them. This, I hope, is the beginning of a brand-new relationship with the municipalities and the agencies on behalf of the province of Ontario. I wish the minister the very best. I know he is in competent hands with the committee, and I expect a very speedy response to the 60 recommendations therein.
The Deputy Speaker: Before we proceed with oral questions, I would ask all members of the Legislative Assembly to recognize, in the Speaker’s gallery, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, His Excellency Jan Carnogursky. Please join me in welcoming our guest.
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources concerning the statement the minister apparently made outside a cabinet meeting to a reporter. “I don’t think there is any question in my mind that we are going to be proceeding with logging” is the quote attributed to the minister. The large headline, in case she has not seen it, reads, “Logging in Temagami Forest Will Go Ahead, Minister Says.”
I want to ask the minister why the government has apparently decided to proceed with logging in Temagami when she knows perfectly well that there has been no settlement or agreement reached with the native community, the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, and when she knows full well that their appeal is now before the Supreme Court of Canada, leave to appeal having been granted by the Supreme Court of Canada. Why would she be taking this kind of action without any degree of protection for the rights of the native people, which rights are supposed to be important to the government and the people of Ontario?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would of course recognize the fact that logging has been going on in the Temagami area for some 100 years now. I indicated to the media this morning that as Minister of Natural Resources, recognizing that the crown timber licences in the Temagami area expired at the end of March, I have been involved over recent months in a process of seeing that the ministry is preparing new timber management plans to be able to continue the logging operations in the Temagami area. I think all members of this House are aware, as is the public, that those timber management plans are in the development stage and that they do propose continuation of logging in the Temagami area. Those plans have been fully reviewed by the Temagami Advisory Council after extensive public consultation.
I also indicated to the media that it would be my intention, when the review of those plans is complete, to bring them before cabinet for consideration, but as Minister of Natural Resources my responsibility is to prepare the plans that would continue logging in the Temagami area.
Mr B. Rae: The plans put forward by the ministry allow for extensive clear-cutting in the Temagami area, which is directly contrary to the commitment we had from the Premier and from the minister. They permit extensive clear-cutting in so-called sensitive areas, in areas where land is so sensitive that there will never be regeneration. Only lichen will come back. No trees will come back in those areas. The minister is permitting clear-cutting in those areas. How can she justify proceeding on this kind of basis without a serious environmental assessment of what she has done and without any kind of agreement with the Teme-Augama Anishnabai band?
Hon Mrs McLeod: It becomes quite apparent that the honourable member, although he expresses considerable concern about the area, has not examined in detail the timber management plans which are being presented and which have been out for public consultation. I want to assure the honourable member that not only has there been extensive public consultation on those plans, but they have had a second review by the Temagami Advisory Council. The council, in order to ensure the independence of that review, employed two independent forestry consultants, who have also reviewed the plans.
I also want to assure the honourable member that there is a full recognition of the commitment the Premier made, which reflects the belief in the Ministry of Natural Resources that there must be full recognition of environmental values, including the protection of sensitive pine growth areas. He will find, if he looks at the timber management plan, that there is no clear-cutting of white pine stands where it is predominantly white pine; that there is only cutting of shelter wood in those areas. I would remind the honourable member that, in addition, some 30 per cent of the pine is protected in 100,000 areas of park land and skyline reserve and that in fact the total number of timber management plans prepared for presentation to cabinet involve harvesting only some two per cent of the Temagami area forest.
Mr B. Rae: I am sure the minister knows full well and would recognize that the plans she has talked about have been changed even since they weren’t for public consultation. So if she says I have not seen the final plans, she is quite right: I have not seen the final plans. However, we have had a look at the plans which the ministry put out for public consultation. Those plans allow for significant clear-cuts, far more than are wise in terms of the future of the forest. They provide insignificant recognition of old growth. They provide inadequate protection of skyline reserve. I can say to the minister that independent foresters who have studied the plans feel precisely as we do in terms of the protection in those three particular areas. But I want to come back to my central point to the minister: How can she, in all conscience, permit logging on this scale when there has yet to be an agreement with the band which claims the land in question?
Hon Mrs McLeod: It is unfortunate that an issue of this degree of complexity cannot be responded to in the fullness which it deserves, because the honourable member continues to raise questions about the judgement of the plans that are being brought forward by the Ministry of Natural Resources in spite of the fact that we have done our utmost to ensure there is not only full public consultation but independent review by a local advisory committee supported by two independent forestry consultants assisting in that review. I would be prepared to look at each of the concerns that have been raised and see how those concerns are addressed in the timber management plans.
But the other matter which the honourable member has referred to in each of his questions is the issue of how we can proceed with plans for harvesting when there is a concern on the part of the Teme-Augama band and a land claim issue before the courts. We are, of course, very cognizant of that and sensitive to the concerns of the Teme-Augama band. I would remind the honourable member and all members of this House that we are working in all forest management with what is a renewable resource and, managed well, it continues to be a renewable resource affording sustainable development. We have encouraged, and will continue to encourage, the Teme-Augama band to participate fully in planning for the management of that resource, including becoming involved with us in co-management through the Temagami Advisory Council.
Mr D. S. Cooke: In the absence of the Premier and the absence of the Minister of Housing, I would like to ask a question of the Deputy Premier. Again, the question is about another set of buildings owned by NHD Developments Inc, or the Sorbara family. The two projects in question are 65 units on Red Cedarway in North York, which is facing a 25.47 per cent increase in rent this year, already approved by the government’s rent review system, and 62 units at Flax Garden Way in North York, where they are going to get a 25.72 per cent increase in their rent, already approved by the government’s rent review system.
The tenants of these town house units brought in an engineer to look at some of the work being done in these buildings under the capital works section of the minister’s rent review legislation. How can the minister allow a rent review system that rewards landlords who have neglected their buildings for 17 years and then come in with massive capital projects to bring them up to grade, with the result that the tenants are facing these 25 per cent rent increases, which are unaffordable for many of the tenants in these buildings?
Mr D. S. Cooke: Perhaps he will do that, but it is his government and his cabinet that have to come to grips with this major problem. Perhaps he would like to bring this aspect to the minister’s attention. Some of the tenants in these buildings, owned again by the Sorbara family, owe $1,300 to $1,500 in back rent. The position that the company is taking and the reason this back rent is owed is that it takes time to get through the ministry’s rent review system. The position of the company is that they either pay up immediately or they are evicted. Is that an appropriate way, in the Deputy Premier’s view, for landlords to deal with their tenants in this province?
Mr D. S. Cooke: The rent review system in this province is allowing landlords to take advantage of tenants in a massive way. The last Statistics Canada figures showed that 31 per cent of the tenants in Toronto are already paying over 30 per cent of their monthly income on rent. The minister’s rent review legislation is increasing that problem considerably. At the same time, his government has destroyed or ended the co-op and nonprofit housing program in this province. Where are people like this supposed to live if they are not going to get protection for their rents with the government’s rent review legislation?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member has taken part in the discussions of recent budgets and well knows that the financing put before the House has provided more than 30,000 new and properly financed spaces on a rent-geared-to-income basis and for limited-dividend housing; that we in this government, since we took office five years ago, have allocated a larger increase in funding to housing than to any other single responsibility that rests under this government. The honourable member knows that even recent initiatives, including housing initiatives to the east of Toronto at Seaton and elsewhere, have been not only significant in their cost but clearly designed to alleviate housing problems that he describes. Frankly, in the last five years the situation has improved markedly, and I think the honourable member’s fears are somewhat exaggerated.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. The minister will undoubtedly be aware of the announcement made by Toronto General Hospital that to balance its budget for this fiscal year it sees the necessity of closing another 96 beds in addition to the 154 it has already had to close to balance its budget. I was just wondering how this can be possible in light of what the minister and the Treasurer pronounced as a grandiose announcement of an 8.7 per cent increase in hospital funding on 29 November 1989.
Hon Mrs Caplan: Each year at this time, hospitals begin to develop their budget plans. There has been an allocation, as the member knows, of over half a billion dollars for the hospitals in this province. I know that there have been some concerns expressed, in light of the Wilson budget, that it would have an impact on hospitals. I am pleased to tell the member opposite that the commitment made by this government stands and that as hospitals develop their plans, they will see that hospital services will be maintained in this province.
Mr Eves: That response is almost sick. On 29 November 1989 it was pointed out by several members of this Legislature and the Ontario Hospital Association that hospitals required, if they are going to not only finance for inflation to provide a minimum level of care in this province but also cover provincial government self-imposed costs, such as pay equity, employers’ health tax and increased workers’ compensation payments, they need an absolute minimum increase of 11 per cent. The minister gave them 8.7 per cent. She has had over four months to contemplate that. What steps is she taking to make sure that this absolute minimum level which the Ontario Hospital Association says it needs to maintain minimum standards of health care in this province will be achieved?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I met with the OHA just last week and we discussed the fact that hospital funding formulas are in a state of transition and that in fact they are always, at the best of times, very complex.
There are a number of components of the hospital funding formula. One is the overall base increase. Then there is the component for growth, which acknowledges increased acuity in the hospital. A third component is the hospital incentive fund, which encourages hospitals to shift and realign services from those which can be provided on an inpatient basis to those on an outpatient basis. Another is the transitional formula funding for equity, which I am pleased to inform the member opposite is increasing from some $25 million last year to $40 million this year, up 60 per cent. I can say that with all of these different components, we also include additional resources for life support.
As the hospitals develop their budget plans, I know they will work in co-operation with the ministry area teams so we can ensure that appropriate service levels are available to the people of this province.
In this submission that the Ontario Hospital Association made to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs in January of this year, the Ontario Hospital Association has pointed out again to this government that it needs at the very least an extra $138 million this year to maintain hospital services at existing levels. By the OHA’s submission, $138 million is three per cent of combined hospital payrolls, or the equivalent of 3,900 full-time employees at hospitals. It is also the equivalent of 6,634 acute care patients who will not get care in this province this year if the minister does not react to what they have been telling her for over four months.
Hon Mrs Caplan: As always, the member is wrong. I can tell him that in light of the Wilson budget, there was some delay in the letter of transmittal. I explained that to the Ontario Hospital Association. They were very understanding. There was a lot of concern because of the cut in the federal transfer payment, but our commitment stands firm. In fact, we are hoping to have the letter of transmittal out to the hospitals this week as they begin their planning and budgetary cycle.
Mr Brandt: My question as well is to the Minister of Health. Sadly, when one cuts through all the rhetoric the minister just exchanged with my colleague, what has happened is that she is shrinking the hospital system and cutting back beds. The fact of the matter is that as a result of imposed costs which she has passed on to hospitals, not dissimilar to what we talked about in this House yesterday as it relates to children’s services, with the employer health levy and pay equity there are very substantial additional costs that hospitals have absolutely no control over whatsoever. The minister made the decision; she passed on those costs. Could she tell us what the total amount to hospitals is for the employer health levy, as well as pay equity, and does she intend to fund those two additional responsibilities which she has imposed on the hospital system?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows, the Treasurer announced an allocation for the hospitals that is very significant, some $500 million. I want to assure him that no hospital budget will be cut. Every hospital will receive an increase. The funding formula, as I explained to his colleague, is a little complex. We are working on the kind of transitional funding formula that will restore equity and fairness and ensure that all hospitals are fairly and appropriately funded in this province.
Mr Brandt: The minister throws around figures like $500 million and $1 billion that are totally meaningless to people who cannot find a bed in a hospital. The reality is that the minister has closed down 2,000 hospital beds in this province. She made a promise for an increase of 4,400 hospital beds.
I said to the minister back in 1988 at the time she introduced some of these plans that pay equity alone, over a four- to five-year period, was going to cost the hospitals in this province some $115 million. I stand before her now and tell her that my original estimates were below what I anticipated they were going to be. Where is that $115 million and more going to come from so that we can maintain the kind of hospital system and the kind of health system we had before 1985?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The leader of the third party could not be more incorrect in his assumptions. I would say to him that the ministry has not yet reviewed any of the budgetary plans that are being developed by the hospitals. His colleague mentioned the Toronto Hospital. In fact, there are encouraging signs that hospitals are providing services in alternative ways. We heard from the hospital, for example, that inpatient admissions are reduced and that there has been an increase in outpatient and ambulatory care. As more hospitals develop and strengthen ambulatory services to reflect the ministry’s priorities, I think we can expect to see some realignment of resources from inpatient to outpatient care. What we are interested in is the delivery of appropriate services to the people of this province and in taking advantage of new technologies that allow those services to be provided in alternative ways, whether that is in the hospital, in a community setting, in an ambulatory centre or at home.
Mr Brandt: It is interesting when you are in opposition and you raise these questions. I guess it is an easy charge to make that we are always wrong and our facts are out of place or we have not researched the question adequately. Let me tell the minister what the Ontario Hospital --
I want to give the minister the opinion of the Ontario Hospital Association as it relates to this question. Tell them that they are wrong too. They say: “The inpatient hospital system is being deliberately downsized. The pressure will continue on hospitals to close beds and to reduce inpatient services.” That is not me saying that. That is a direct quote as a result of the meeting that the minister had a week ago when she would not meet the commitments to fund some of the programs that she has shafted the hospitals with. What is she going to do about it?
I would say to the member as well that we believe very strongly that in the adjustments of the new funding formula, the Ontario Hospital Association and all the hospitals will work closely with the area teams to ensure that we take advantage of the new technologies that allow us to provide services on an outpatient and ambulatory basis. We are seeing huge increases in those kinds of services across the province, and that is very appropriate. If the people of this province need to have services that are provided on an inpatient basis, those will be provided, but if those services can be provided on an outpatient or ambulatory basis or at a community independent health facility, for example, we can take advantage of that through the new act. As well, there are opportunities to provide services at home.
I will restate that the commitment of this government stands firm and that there will be over $500 million available to the hospitals of this province in this fiscal year, bringing the total to over $6.5 billion in funding for the hospitals of this province.
This morning the Globe and Mail reported: “The province is willing to assist the federal government by collecting the portion of the GST that would be levied at the point of retail sale, where the provincial tax is already imposed, Mr Nixon said.”
The London Free Press on 8 January 1990 said: “Ontario still doesn’t support the controversial goods and services tax but is willing to collect it from retailers for the federal government, Provincial Treasurer Robert Nixon says.”
Mr Laughren: I can only ask the Treasurer once again if he agrees that both of these statements are correct: “Ontario will not help the federal government collect its proposed goods and services tax” and “The province is willing to assist the federal government by collecting the portion of the GST that would be levied at the point of retail sale.”
The Treasurer is saying on one hand he is not going to help them collect it. On the other hand he is saying he is going to collect it. Would the Treasurer please tell us what he does intend to do and, given all these conflicting statements that the Treasurer makes, tell us why the public in Ontario should believe that he has no intention of expanding the retail sales tax base in the province?
I will tell the member the answer is perfectly legitimate and logical. We said we would be glad to collect it at the point of sale, as we collect our own, and pass it on, but we have no intention of going out into the broader base of collecting services, like dry cleaning and haircuts. We are not going to do that. We are not interested in applying the value added intricacies that Mr Wilson is so fond of, but we would be prepared to collect it at the point of sale.
Mr Jackson: My question is for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Colleges and universities were allocated an eight per cent increase in transfer payments, I believe back in November, but that was barely enough to cover the recent six per cent wage settlement for our community college workers and the government’s new two per cent employer health tax. Nothing, quite frankly, is being left over to pay for pay equity, for inflation, for new equipment, instructional supplies, building maintenance and other operating costs.
Based on this transfer payment, colleges are forced to make difficult choices. They can either cut programs and jeopardize the quality and access to post-secondary education or they can run deficits. What is the minister prepared to do to address this situation of program cuts?
Hon Mr Conway: The honourable member’s question covers a number of issues. Let me say that on the question of this government’s support of the post-secondary sector, I think it is both true and fair to observe that in the period of time that it has been our responsibility to administer the affairs of the province, we have been very generous with both the colleges and the universities. To be sure, there is always more demand than there is supply of public dollars, but in the transfer announcements of last November I indicated an eight per cent increase to both colleges and universities, to say nothing of our support in areas like student assistance and on the capital account. I recognize that there continues to be more demand and more pressure. We will respond as best we can, but I think when one looks at what this administration has done, as compared to what a previous administration did or did not do, particularly on things like capital and on operating, I am not at all embarrassed by our record vis-à-vis the record of the honourable member’s party.
Mr Jackson: The most generous thing from this government has been announcements; it has not been the actual funding. Yesterday’s announcement of $4 million was not covered by any major newspaper in this province, because they recognized it for what it was, a $4-million emergency Band-Aid to community colleges -- $4 million, that was all that was given.
The Premier yesterday in the House said he was committed to technical education but, based on his level of commitment in Ontario, Humber College is cutting $3 million worth of programs, particularly technical education courses; Fanshawe College is anticipating a $3.5-million deficit; Mohawk College, a deficit of nearly $1 million, and it has cut a major program and 41 staff positions; Niagara College, nearly a $1-million deficit.
It is obvious from the minister’s answer that his government is committed to political announcements, but it is not committed to financing the best educational outcomes for post-secondary students in this province. My question is simply this: In order to ensure that our graduates remain competitive throughout the decade of the 1990s, that they are globally competitive, will this government provide target funding to ensure program protection for these vital technical education programs that are so vital to Ontario’s future? Will the minister provide target funding to protect these programs?
Hon Mr Conway: Let me make two points. First, the government of Ontario in both its post-secondary and its secondary funding supports has encouraged a number of very creative and important new initiatives in the area, for example, of the honourable member’s interest of technical education. I would not want to hold out yesterday’s announcement as the alpha and the omega of our commitment, because clearly we have done a lot more than just the fund that I mentioned yesterday. We are, as the honourable member for Burlington South might want to know, embarking upon a very substantial renewal of technological studies at the secondary area where our commitment is, I expect, in excess of some $60 million on the capital account alone.
Hon Mr Conway: I want to make one other point. If my friend from Burlington would stop barracking long enough to let me make this point, I would appreciate that parliamentary courtesy. I know he would want me to observe that under our system of management of the college sector, over the past five years our operating grants have increased by over $240 million at a time when enrolments have been generally very stable.
I would also point out that we expect that boards of governors and management teams, whether they are at Humber College or Cambrian College or elsewhere, are going to manage. That is going to mean making decisions, making adjustments and, unlike the Tories who would have the colleges and the rest of the world sit for ever in a comfortable pew of the status quo, we as Liberals are much more dynamic. We anticipate and encourage change and reform, and we expect good managers at the colleges and elsewhere to do their duty and to ensure that those institutions change to meet emerging needs.
Ms Oddie Munro: My question is to the Minister of Revenue. Bill 105, dealing with amendments to the Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan Act, 1988, is before the House for second reading. The amendments, which I support, respond to some of the difficulties the first-time purchaser has experienced in utilizing the plan.
I have been recently informed of a first-time home buyer in my riding who did not take advantage of the OHOSP and was therefore unable to apply for land transfer tax rebate. The purchased home was in the range of $75,000 to $135,000, and the buyer and his family clearly represent the typical first-time home purchaser in need of financial assistance as envisaged by the act.
Could the minister clarify the rules and specifically the timing which apply to the purchase of an OHOSP, the actual purchase of a home and the application for land transfer tax rebate for that first-time purchaser?
Hon Mr Mancini: I want to thank the member for the question. I am sure many members are interested in the Ontario home ownership savings plan. I think honourable members should know that this plan has already assisted over 24,000 Ontario residents. There are over 79,000 Ontario home ownership plans and accounts open so far. There have been proposed amendments, as my honourable colleague has mentioned, in Bill 105, which is before the House.
It is very clear that people with an annual income of less than $40,000 and couples with a combined income of $80,000 and less can qualify and can open up an account. All they have to do is visit their bank or a local trust company office. After purchasing their home, the planholders notify the institution and the necessary paperwork is done and the money is released. Also, this allows the people who have opened the plan to then receive a rebate on the land transfer tax. It is a very generous program indeed.
Ms Oddie Munro: That information is helpful to me and, I am sure, to potential first-time home buyers. As I understand it then, you purchase the OHOSP and, before the closing of the purchase, you must make application for the land transfer tax rebate. It seems to me that communication is important to the success of the plan, and access to the land tax rebate. I am wondering what the ministry’s plan is to communicate the information and the procedures to the players, and who those players are.
Hon Mr Mancini: Of course, the matter obtains tremendous publicity during budget time when matters are announced by the Treasurer, as was the case. We also have a very extensive communications plan with banks and the institutions that we work with. We have also made available information to MPPs’ constituency offices and, given the concern that the honourable member has about our communications plan, I will review the plan to decide whether or not it meets the needs of the Ontario population.
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I want to take him back to the provincial-municipal social services review. First, I want to say that I think the preparation of this plan and the recommendations in it are going to be a considerable disappointment to those who prepared the Transitions document and to the social service consumers who wanted a much simpler, much more straightforward system of administration, finance and delivery in the province.
The report proposes a number of recommendations, but there are riddled through them so many points of indecision; there are so many elements of consultation that still have to be pursued. There is a continued move in the direction of a municipal devolution and community-based service organizations as the providers of services. The fundamental question of this document that the Social Assistance Review Committee prepared has to be asked all over again: Under this scheme that is proposed, what is to prevent the same old problem of inconsistent delivery of social services across the province? That is what the province has suffered from so much in the past and that was the point of this document, to try to relieve that problem.
Hon Mr Beer: I want to underline again that the report is now out and will be consulted on extensively with AMO as well as with other groups. I would urge my honourable friend to perhaps hold up his judgement in terms of the recommendations and the kind of administrative structure that may flow from them.
I think it is important to underline that the group that came together from both the municipal and provincial sectors tried very hard to come up with something that it felt would simplify the system and make it one that would be more responsible in a fiscal way and in terms of who is delivering the particular services. They were aware of the SARC report, and certainly for us as a government there are a number of documents here that become very important and critical as we look at implementing the recommendations of this report.
I can say to my honourable friend that we are going to look very, very carefully at this report and at the recommendations that come in from our partners in the social services field before enacting specific changes. We certainly do not intend to make it more complex.
Mr Allen: As I look at what other provinces have done over the course of the last two decades in terms of the administration and funding of social services, they have almost universally, from Newfoundland to Quebec to British Columbia, adopted responsibility as provincial governments both for funding and delivery of services. Whether they were right or wrong, at least they made a decision; they bit the bullet. They have an integrated system and they know where the buck stops. As I look at this report, I really cannot yet get a sense of where the buck stops. Where is the buck going to stop if one follows the model that is proposed in this particular document?
Hon Mr Beer: Again I want to underline that, whatever the experience in other provinces or other jurisdictions, it has been the experience in Ontario to go forward in social services with a partnership, and that partnership has involved the province, the municipalities and the various community-based agencies.
My sense is that in the province itself there is a feeling that we want to continue with those partners but we want to make it more accountable and, indeed, we want to be able to see where the buck does stop. I think that is an integral part of the task that they had and, as we go forward with the discussions around the report, certainly at the end of the day we want to come up with something that is more accountable.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I am sure he is aware that the government-run liquor stores are contemplating severe cuts, something in the order of $13 million. Rumours are circulating throughout the province that some of these cuts could impact on store hours in a variety of municipalities across the province. I wonder if the minister would give his views in respect to this particular proposal. Does he agree with the government-run monopoly restricting access for consumers?
Hon Mr Sorbara: Let me assure my friend the member for Leeds-Grenville that he would not like a system where the political view of store hours is the view that should prevail. What the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has been doing and will continue to do is to organize the merchandising of wine, spirits and beer right around the province under its monopoly in a way that responds to consumers’ preferences.
For example, if a store is located in a shopping complex that is open from nine in the morning until nine in the evening, then the policy of the liquor board is to keep the store open during those hours. But if there are other areas where there is no business after six o’clock, then it is foolish, both in a business sense and in any other sense, to keep the store open.
What my friend the member for Leeds-Grenville should understand is that there has been a significant decrease over the past 10 years in levels of absolute consumption of alcohol. What the board is doing right now is simply responding to that decrease consistent with its obligation to market in an effective way consistent with consumer needs.
Mr Runciman: I do not think reducing store hours is adequately responding to consumer preferences. When we talk about decreases in sales, I think we have to look at the fact that this government, in less than five years in office, has increased booze taxes by around 40 per cent, and that is having quite an impact on consumer preferences.
I want to talk about tourism. We had an announcement that US travel has declined by 5.2 per cent, and this is having an impact on that area as well. Has the minister assessed that? Talking about consumer access, I think there is an obligation upon the member as the minister responsible when he is talking about a government-run monopoly to ensure that all of these areas that could be impacted very negatively do not have this kind of access restricted. Is the minister prepared to take a position on that? I do not hear it from him today. Are these store hours going to be reduced? If they are, is he supporting that initiative?
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend the member for Leeds-Grenville obviously does not have any position at all on anything, for goodness’ sake. He stands up often in this House and complains about a variety of things associated with alcohol and then criticizes us for raising taxes and complains about the fact that consumption is down.
I want to tell him not to be so naïve as to be the victim of rumours about the reduction of store hours. It simply is not the case. It simply is silly for him to suggest that there is some overall strategy to reduce access. I invite him to go to one or two of our stores anywhere in the province and see that our stores have kept up while he has not kept up.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Last fall the minister visited Oxford to see for himself the amazing potential of the province of Ontario land registration and information system, otherwise known as Polaris, a working model of which is up and running in Oxford. At that time the minister was new to the Consumer and Commercial Relations portfolio and to the concept of Polaris, but I believe it is safe to say that during his visit he was impressed with the potential of this 100 per cent Ontario homegrown technology. With that in mind, what has the minister done about encouraging the development of this technology in full and how long will it be before the people of this province will be able to access the information in Polaris on line?
Hon Mr Sorbara: The member for Oxford has kept up with the times; he does not even have to visit one of our liquor stores in order to do that, whereas that may not be the case with my friend who asked the previous question.
It is a very good question. My friend the member for Oxford has let the cat out of the bag. He was my tour guide, and I did have a marvellous tour of the advanced technologies that are now operating in the county of Woodstock. Of course we are talking about the Polaris technology, information-based technologies.
Hon Mr Sorbara: In any event, my friend the member for Oxford gave me a delightful tour. I want to tell him that we are now in the very final stages of negotiations with the two consortia that submitted proposals to join in a strategic alliance with the government for the development of not only the Polaris system but a broader data utility that will revolutionize the registration system in this province. If all goes well, I should have an announcement to be made on that within a month or so.
Mr Tatham: I appreciate that, but our technology has been functioning in Oxford for some time, and I think the minister can understand the interest of the people, particularly people like Liz Ottaway in the county office. They want to know exactly when we are going to have the technology in place. When does the minister anticipate that a province-wide system will be in operation? Furthermore, will the municipalities be guaranteed access to this system, or will it be strictly a provincial government matter?
Hon Mr Sorbara: There is a very long answer to the questions raised by my friend the member for Oxford. Let me try to summarize very briefly. First of all, some of those technologies are already being implemented by the ministry in the absence of having reached a strategic alliance with a private sector partner. For example, in North York we have almost completed the work of going from a paper-based registration system to a data-based, digitally based electronic system.
Once we have reached an agreement with a private sector partner, we think that we will speed up almost by a factor of 100 per cent the implementation of Polaris around the province, although it would be difficult to say with any certainty when a province-wide system will be in place. But if all goes well, we will be moving rapidly into that technology in the very near future.
Mr Kormos: I have a question for the Attorney General. The Niagara Falls provincial courthouse, as the Attorney General knows, was shut down by virtue of an order from the Ministry of Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. That courthouse, although a satellite courthouse in the most technical sense, had courtrooms in it which held criminal matters and trials, remands, first appearances and pleas five days a week. Indeed, the docket for first appearances this Thursday, tomorrow, is some six pages long, approximately 100 accused persons. They are being expected to attend at the St Catharines courthouse.
Members of the bar are particularly concerned, and members of the public should be concerned, about possible loss of jurisdiction. The people in the community, members of the bar and persons involved in the court system in one way or another very much want to know what the Attorney General’s plans are with respect to the Niagara Falls provincial courthouse.
Hon Mr Scott: I do not think the honourable member’s constituents need concern themselves about loss of jurisdiction. There are in the Niagara area three courthouses that form a triangle, in Welland, St Catharines and Niagara Falls. They are hardly more than 20 miles apart. The work order instituted against the Niagara Falls courthouse by the Ministry of Labour has precluded the court from being used with respect to in-custody offences. The work is proceeding. I understand the Ministry of Government Services people who are in charge of the work met with the owners of the building yesterday. The work is proceeding and we hope that the cases can be conducted in this municipally owned facility as soon as possible.
Mr Kormos: The shutdown of that courthouse raises once again the need for improved courthouse facilities in Niagara South. The Attorney General knows that the city of Welland has gone to great lengths to prepare a proposal with respect to the old county courthouse to make it a facility that can accommodate all the offices and court buildings, as compared to being scattered throughout the city. The minister or his staff have seen those plans.
Surely the city of Welland, in fairness, should be told by the Attorney General whether he is going to accept that proposal or whether indeed he is looking at alternatives to the renovation of the district courthouse or the possibility of new facilities. The city, again in fairness, should be told what the Attorney General’s plans are with respect to that facility, whether it is doing to accept a renovated building or whether it is going to look for other land and where that land is going to be.
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member of course represents his constituents in Welland well. There are people in Welland who think a courthouse should be expanded or a new one created there and the satellite court in Niagara Falls closed down so that the Welland project can be fed, and the honourable member signifies that this is his view.
I am not sure that is the right view. I think it is important that the people of Niagara Falls should, if at all possible, and it is possible, have courtroom facilities in their community, even if in that fashion we cannot advance fully the views of the people of the city of Welland who would like all the court facilities in their community so they could be taken out of Niagara Falls.
The view of this government is that both Welland and Niagara Falls are substantial, important communities and that there is a public obligation to provide court facilities in both communities. That we are doing. When the repairs that the Ministry of Government Services has undertaken are completed in this rental building owned by the city in Niagara Falls, court will continue there as usual.
Mr McLean: My question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday in the House the member for Durham-York gave a great statement with regard to the Markham Stouffville Hospital -- the $74 million in funding, with $40 million plus from the province and $7 million from the community. On 30 July 1987 the former minister came to Orillia and made a great announcement with regard to $30 million for the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital there.
The minister has been signing a lot of letters there today, and I would like to know if one of those letters is for approval of that, or when does she think she would be able to satisfy the hospital board?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I recently announced a framework for capital planning that I believe will be of assistance to the hospitals and all the regions, the district health councils, as they move forward to look at meeting the needs of the people of the province.
There are a number of components of the capital framework. We will be supporting as a priority those that support innovative, alternative ways of providing services, shifting from inpatient to outpatient and ambulatory in line with the opportunities that new technologies permit. Infrastructure maintenance and renewal is a major priority in the province and we believe that can all be achieved within the existing operating budgets. We know as well that demographics are extremely important; so we are looking at rapid growth areas as well as ensuring appropriate services for our aging population, knowing they want to be independent for as long as possible.
The last component of the capital framework will ensure that we strengthen those areas of specialty care. The member is very aware of them. He knows that on a regional basis across the province all the district health councils and the hospitals are working very hard to bring their projects in line with the capital framework, and I am pleased to tell him that much work is ongoing.
Mr McLean: I have heard most of that answer before and I want to reaffirm the position from the community with regard to the $6 million plus that has been raised there through the efforts of many organizations. The district health council and most of those agencies have agreed with what is taking place there and I think it is up to the minister to say to the community, “Yes, we will allow you to proceed.” Why will she not allow them to proceed?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I have been really pleased with the amount of support we have had for the capital framework that was announced. In fact, right across this province district health councils and hospitals are working together in a partnership planning approach. The member knows that many of the plans across the province will be adjusted to see how they align with the new capital framework. I know that in Simcoe county the district health council and Ministry of Health officials are meeting to discuss the new capital planning framework and the implications for Simcoe county.
Mr McGuigan: I have a question for the Minister of Education. From conversations I have had with the minister, I know he is aware of the teachers’ strike in the secondary school panel of the Essex County Roman Catholic Separate School Board. I wonder if the minister would provide the House and the parents and students with a clear understanding of his position in this matter.
Hon Mr Conway: I appreciate the honourable member’s question and his interest in the situation in his home county. I can assure him and the members of the House that I share his concern in bringing this dispute to a speedy resolution but, as I have said on previous occasions and I would repeat now, I believe very strongly in the collective bargaining process. I believe further that it is quite within the power of both parties to resolve this.
The Education Relations Commission monitors the situation. A mediator from the Education Relations Commission has been working with the parties. He was with the parties over the weekend. It is my understanding that some progress was made. The mediator stands by ready and willing to assist in any further way, and I am very confident that both parties working with the commission will accept their responsibilities and resolve this dispute very soon in the best interests of the students of Essex county.
Mr McGuigan: I share the minister’s thoughts and hopes that this will be settled, but the parents and teachers are quite concerned. I wonder at what point the minister would be prepared to intervene in this strike.
Hon Mr Conway: One of the responsibilities that falls to the Education Relations Commission under Bill 100 is the determination of jeopardy. It is the responsibility of the commission and no one else to make a finding of when, in its considered opinion, the educational programs of the students involved in this kind of dispute are in jeopardy. To date the commission has not made any such finding of jeopardy.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Treasurer. The Treasurer is aware that many Ontario residents of border communities are regularly purchasing their gasoline in the United States. With gasoline prices now at record levels in communities such as Sault Ste Marie, gasoline sales revenues at local service stations have declined by 40 to 50 per cent over recent years.
Hon R. F. Nixon: On 11 March the gasoline price in Sault Ste Marie, I am told, was 54.8 cents. In Ottawa it was 56 cents. At Earl’s Shell Service it was 48.9 cents. Having said that, I would say that we are not contemplating any regional reduction in gasoline taxation.
Mr Morin-Strom: The minister’s prices are a bit out of date, but even at that level they are at least 50 per cent higher than the price of gasoline in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, in this example. The minister knows that in Quebec they have implemented a border program that includes buffer zones with phased-in gasoline tax levels that enable their gasoline stations to compete on a fair and equitable basis with those outside Quebec.
In Sault Ste Marie, considerable amounts of business have left Ontario and have gone to Michigan, with sales of other products as well, as a result of the difference in gasoline prices. Will the minister take some kind of action to ensure that we have some incentive to keep consumers in our own Ontario businesses?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I certainly sympathize with the problems that the honourable member’s constituents have, particularly right on the border. It is difficult to persuade them, as I try to do when my friends talk about the gasoline prices in Buffalo, that if they want to drive from Buffalo to the state capital in Albany there is a toll on the road of about $11, or if I warn them to be sure not to get sick over there and have to pay their own medical bills, because we have to support a wide variety of very progressive programs here that are paid for through public dollars.
Then the last I always say to them is that Mr Wilson, the Progressive Conservative Minister of Finance for Canada, extracts a larger tax per litre in Ontario than the province of Ontario does and he does not build a mile of road. He takes the money and uses it for God knows what, because his deficit this year went up by $2 billion.
Mr Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The people of Marmora and area believed that an announcement for the funding for their new arena was going to take place around 1 April. They have heard nothing yet. When are they going to get that funding they are entitled to?
Hon Mr Black: I am aware of the fact that the member for Hastings-Peterborough has real concern about the welfare of his community and I know that he keeps in touch with all of his constituents. I know that he has been expressing within his riding the need for an arena in Marmora. I want him to know that when we get to the point where we are ready to approve all of our capital expenditure, we will be making announcements about all of those across this province.
Hon Mr Black: I am sure the member is aware of the fact that one has to go through the process of evaluating all the applications and ensuring that the applications this government funds are sound. We want to be sure that when we fund arenas there is a capability within the community to operate those arenas and provide sound programs. So when we have completed our determination we will make an announcement.
Mr Pouliot: I have a petition signed by 2,262 people addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and they are saying: “We do not want our rights to adequate automobile accident compensation taken away. We want the Ontario government to know that we oppose the proposed Ontario motorist protection plan.”
Mrs Marland: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor of the province of Ontario. This petition is from the parents and students of St James School in Mississauga, a school in the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board.
The concern of the parents and children of this school is the lack of funding by the current Liberal government in terms of the older schools within the region of Peel. This petition is respectfully submitted, and the petitioners are hoping that as a result of the work they have done in collecting these names, once and for all the older schools that have been neglected, St James being an example, will have their problems remedied and they will have the kind of facilities that are now required under the Ministry of Education’s mandated OSIS programs. At the moment this school cannot provide those programs because it simply does not have the facilities needed; for example, a gymnasium.
The petition deals with Bill 68 and the government’s insurance plan. It expresses the view that Bill 68 does not give effect to the Premier’s “promise in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates,” and points out that “once this legislation is passed...auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent, according to the Minister of Financial Institutions.”
It goes on to point out that this legislation will provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to private corporations in the auto insurance industry, “costing the Ontario taxpayer at least $141 million in the first year alone.” It also points out that this “will create a billion-dollar 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.”
Mr Philip: I have a petition from the customers of Frank Bauco Auto Service on Albion Road in Rexdale. These are the same people who object to the $90 licence plates for the greater Metropolitan Toronto area, but this petition is on a different topic. It says:
“Whereas this 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 at its policies concerning automobile insurance and request that Bill 68 be withdrawn.”
Mrs Marland: I have a petition to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the government of Ontario, which reads as follows: “I am a parent of children who attend St Francis of Assisi school in Mississauga and wish to express my concern for the accommodation crisis we are presently facing in the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board.
“The additional costs the board must incur due to the insufficient provincial allocation of funds affects us all. In spite of inflation, our schools are operating with less disposable funding, largely due to bank financing charges and additional busing costs.
“Our students at St Francis could have more educational equipment should the school have more flexibility with their operating budget. Also, St Francis of Assisi is a 20-year-old school and could use some upgrades to bring it up to today’s standards.
“I would respectfully suggest this board needs your immediate attention for our teachers to maintain their quality instruction. I do not expect a reply to my petition. However, I trust my comments will be reflected in the capital allocation given to the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board.”
The Deputy Speaker: Before we proceed with the next petition, the Chair reminds members to make a résumé of the petition as opposed to reading it all, and I am sure all members will remember that from day to day.
Ms Bryden: I have the honour to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and indirectly also to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. It is signed by six people from widely separated areas in the province, including Brampton, Toronto, my own riding and other people in Metro Toronto.
Briefly it says, “Bill 68 is legislation that makes tragic changes to the rights of innocent, injured motor vehicle accident victims.” It also says further on that “this insurance legislation will deprive innocent injured victims of at least $823 million in compensation that will be denied them.” It says also that “this insurance legislation will create a billion-dollar 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.”
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, I am heeding your advice about not reading the content of the petition. I will tell you simply that this is an additional petition from St Francis of Assisi School in Mississauga. We have a large number of these letters as part of the petition from parents and children within that school community, and their concerns are very real and they hope to be heeded by the current government.
Mr Laughren: I have a petition which opposes Bill 68, the government’s auto insurance bill. I will not read it. Basically, the petition says that the bill is a piece of junk and should not be proceeded with. I support that. It does not call for public auto insurance, which I wish it did. Nevertheless, it is very clearly in opposition to the government’s bill.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have another petition with regard to the Ontario motorist protection plan, and it is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario. I will not read all the whereases, but I will read the final point of it.
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider substantial amendment of or complete rejection of the Ontario motorist protection plan as presently proposed. We further respectfully request that a plan be devised more nearly in accordance with the results of the independent studies undertaken at the request of the government.”
Mr Mackenzie: I also have a petition signed by two residents of the city of Toronto objecting to Bill 68, and in summary I simply say they do not like the way it is being jammed through, they do not like the broken promise that it implies on the part of the government, they do not like the kind of payoff to the insurance industry.
Mr Farnan: I have a petition that is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it also refers to Bill 68. In keeping with your advice, Mr Speaker, I am going to try to condense this as much as possible, while maintaining the major points that are put forward within the petition. I would say to the members of the House that there is a series of good points that need to be referred to in the petition.
Without reading it word for word, the first point that is made is that Bill 68 is legislation that makes tragic changes to the rights of innocent injured motor vehicle accident victims. It goes on to say that the Peterson government has made it clear that it wants this legislation rammed through, and of course based on the fact that we are looking at closure on this issues, they are absolutely correct. It further references the point that this particular legislation breaks the promise of the Premier during the 1987 election.
It goes on to say that the bill is in effect an enormous taxpayer subsidy to the private corporate auto insurance industry and that it in fact will cost the drivers of Ontario millions of dollars in increased premiums.
A further very important point that is raised in this petition is that the legislation will create a billion-dollar payday for the auto insurance industry. When they have taken all these facts together, they come to the conclusion -- as you will agree, Mr Speaker, the obvious conclusion -- that the Premier and the Liberals have refused to listen to the hundreds of submissions made to them calling upon them to abandon this bad legislation.
Miss Martel: I too, as you will gather, have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. I will not read it all. It does say, as a matter of course, that this bill is so bad that it should be thrown out. I would add that you may want to toss the minister out the window with it, but that is not written here.
In any event, some of the points which I think have to be raised because they are so important are, first, that this government has made it very clear from the beginning that this legislation is going to be rammed through in spite of everything that we have heard at the public hearings, such as that this bill is so bad it should be withdrawn.
He made a specific plan that rates would be lowered, and there is nothing in this bill that does that. In fact, the Minister of Financial Institutions has already said the rates could increase as much as 50 per cent.
Finally, because of the huge payoff to the insurance industry, those injured innocent victims in this province who deserve compensation and should be getting it will not because of this minister and this bill put forward by this government.
The good people whom I represent in my riding and the good people who are petitioning here think the Premier and his Liberal government should end this sellout of taxpayers -- which it is -- the sellout of drivers and victims, and that they should immediately withdraw Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: I have a petition and it is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and indeed I am going to abbreviate, summarize, shorten and basically present a précis of what the preamble states, because what this preamble and the petitioners state is that this is bad legislation, written for and by the auto insurance industry -- a billion-dollar payday earned on the broken backs, broken legs, broken arms and fractured skulls of innocent injured victims.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. This completes the allotted time for petitions. It has been brought to my attention, but it is also my own conclusion, that when members read petitions they abbreviate and do without comments. I am sure from now on members will remember those very precise standing orders.
Mr Mahoney: I have had a request to highlight certain recommendations of the report and I would invite the gentleman to the press conference in the media studio at four o’clock today. He can highlight it at that time, if he wishes.
I would like, however, to thank all members of the committee, from all three parties. I actually thought we were going to be close to a consensus this year, although we have minority reports. I would particularly like to thank our clerk, Lisa Freedman, and our two research officers, Anne Anderson and David Rampersad, for their dedication and their effort in compiling this report.
We heard from over 50 groups and individuals expressing concerns and asking us to take a message to the Treasurer in this report. I believe we have done that. Government spending restraint, no major tax increases and deficit reductions are the key themes that run through the report, but we have also addressed such very important issues as the extension of the Social Assistance Review Committee, which I am sure the members opposite would appreciate, and the extension of the Homes Now program, and we talked at great length about the problem of child poverty and the disabled functioning in our province.
Mr Kormos: I want to start out by thanking the Speaker’s chair for all of its assistance during the course of my comments yesterday. I appreciate that there may be times when I appear not to be addressing the specific motion that is before the House. It is because, in my view, it is necessary to provide background, to flesh it out, if you will, so that a decision can be made on this motion in its whole context, because it is an important motion.
I want to tell you this as well, Mr Speaker. Any time I appear to be drifting away from the main issue, that is to say, the closure motion, the time allocation motion, I assure you it is not a purposeful attempt to deviate from the main course of what the conversation should be; it is not an attempt to make this longer than it has to be; it is not an attempt to obfuscate the issue at hand with other matters. It is a sincere and perhaps at times less than perfect attempt on my part to explain the issue that is before this House.
This House has an opportunity, of course, as it should, to vote on this motion when the matter comes to a vote. I expect that will be in due course, not too soon and not too late. I am confident that common sense will prevail. I know I spoke a little bit about this yesterday. I know it is sometimes difficult to even suppose that common sense would prevail here at Queen’s Park, but I am confident that when this matter does come to a vote, perhaps next week, perhaps the week after, perhaps the week after that -- that of course depends upon the eagerness of other members of the Legislature to discuss this issue -- members of this House will oppose this motion and the mover of it will recognize that indeed if anybody has caused an inappropriate length of time to transpire before the real issue, the discussion of the bill in committee of the whole and the discussion of the bill during third reading, it was the mover of this motion.
The motion before us now is such a crucial issue, it warrants such thorough consideration and, as I say, when common sense rears its head in that unusual way here at Queen’s Park and when the members of this House vote against this motion, vote against time allocation, the mover of this motion will have to reflect and acknowledge that indeed it was this motion that caused the delays, because it is this motion that is preventing us from getting down to the issue of talking about Bill 68.
We in the New Democratic Party have been eager to debate Bill 68 from day one. We made a significant contribution to that debate at the time of second reading. We were hamstrung, we were muzzled, we were confronted with time allocation during the course of committee hearings, those very same committee hearings that the Minister of Financial Institutions did not want to have because he wanted this legislation to be rammed through without public comment, without its being subjected to the scrutiny of people across Ontario and without permitting those people who were able to examine the legislation an opportunity to speak to a committee of this House.
Those committee hearings were so short, so abbreviated, they were not attended -- honest, I know that it is hard to believe that the minister would not come to the committee hearings. I appreciate that it is hard to believe. If he had failed to come on one day or two days or three days, one could understand that things can come up. Even when you are a cabinet minister, things can come up. I appreciate that my saying that the Minister of Financial Institutions did not see fit to show up at those committee hearings is probably close to being unbelievable, but I say that the other people who were in and about those hearings -- who, I suspect, are going to be speaking on this very time allocation motion -- will indeed confirm this: The minister was not there.
It was not that he was in another room. It was not that he was en route and late. It was not that he had to leave early and could not stick around for the afternoon session. It is that he just was not there. This is the most significant bit of legislation to weave its way through this Legislature in a long time, and the minister just was not there.
That is why it becomes important and curious and worthy of some inquiry as to what the motive is for moving this motion. What is the motive for seeking time allocation, for seeking further restriction?
Mr Kormos: The Treasurer was there before. Somebody interjected about Hagersville, tire fires, massive tire fires, millions and millions of tires burning, people’s lives destroyed. That really is a serious matter.
I do want the House to pay heed, with your indulgence, Mr Speaker, to what Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, publisher Carswell, 1989, says is an underlying, fundamental principle of parliamentary law. This is the starting point. This is where you start. When you reflect on each and every thing that happens here, it should be looked at initially in the light that this brief comment from Beauchesne’s sheds on it. Page 3 of that same edition, the sixth edition, publisher Carswell, Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, published 1989 -- the very first paragraph in the text of that learned text states that the principles of Canadian parliamentary law are “to protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority.” I repeat this because this is so significant to what we are doing when we are discussing this motion right now and to what we are going to have to do when, in due course, we vote on this motion.
We have to reflect on this motion, first, from that first principle. The purpose of Canadian parliamentary law has to be, necessarily, to protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority. This time allocation motion, this gag, this muzzle, this guillotine, is so specifically contrary to that very first fundamental principle, is it not? There is not a single member of this Legislature who with honesty or integrity or virtue could stand up and suggest that this motion before us now is anything but the antithesis of something that protects a minority and restrains the improvidence or tyranny of a majority. They have a majority government here. We know that.
Mr Kormos: My goodness, the Liberals. David Peterson’s Liberals here in Ontario have an incredible majority, one that at first blush was impressive. We are talking about perhaps a few short days after 1987 when people in Ontario thought, for the briefest of moments, that maybe some of the promises they made were going to be kept, that maybe the influence of the New Democratic Party and its policies would continue to provide direction for the government as it did between 1985 and 1987, that maybe with that majority this government could make some substantial reforms.
This government talked -- I was young at the time, but I remember it so well -- in its campaigns about how the Conservatives had let things slide, deteriorate, in the areas of health, education and welfare. I specifically recall that, that the Liberals, when they were campaigning, were being critical of how the Conservatives, their predecessors in power, had let the areas of health, education and welfare decline and be eroded. The Liberals, David Peterson’s Liberals, promised that was where commitment was going to be.
They got a majority and they are using this majority right now when they move this motion before this Legislature. Because their exercise of majority power in this instance is tyrannical, in the fullest and most proper sense, and tyrannical certainly in the sense as used by Beauchesne. That is the first principle of parliamentary law and one about which we have no hesitation in saying this motion has a great deal of conflict with. Indeed, this motion, as I say, is the antithesis of that first principle and cannot stand up to scrutiny when the light of that first principle is shed on it.
I know that if that first principle of parliamentary law did not make much of an impact on the members of the Liberal Party, the second one will. When it comes time for members of this Legislature, for the Liberals to vote on this motion, please, Mr Speaker, I beg of them, and I beg of you to remind them, when they vote on this motion to please recall what the second principle of Canadian parliamentary law is, as stated by Beauchesne in that same text, the 1989 edition, publisher Carswell.
The second principle that this motion must be seen in light of is “to secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner.” What is more public than a piece of legislation that is going to affect every single person, every single resident of Ontario in one way or another -- Bill 68? Taxpayers are gouged to the tune of $140 million to $143 million the first year. Drivers are gouged with premium increases as high as 50 per cent. Compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life to innocent injured victims is reduced, to the tune of some $823 million. What is more public than legislation that is going to hit hard on drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims? That is public business.
This motion encourages the disorderly approach to the transaction of this particular bit of public business, Bill 68. It encourages a disorderly approach when the Liberals, with their majority, would attempt to have something so important as Bill 68 discussed in less than six hours in committee of the whole, especially when committee of the whole is designed to deal with clause-by-clause and with amendments. The government has got some 30 amendments. The Tories, the Conservative Party, the third party, have a whack of amendments. How can six hours be sufficient in which to -- and this was mentioned before, I know -- even present the amendments? It becomes literally impossible.
That encourages disorderliness. The motion before this House right now encourages disorderliness. It has already failed the first two principles expressed by Beauchesne. As I say, if blame is ultimately to be attached, it should be to the author and mover of this motion for holding the principles of parliamentary law in such great disregard, indeed for treating such long-time principles with such disdain. Perhaps that is the saddest thing about this whole discussion, the disdain that the Liberals have for parliamentary procedure, the disdain that the Liberals have for the public, the disdain that the Liberals have for open dialogue, because that is exactly what this motion is designed to stifle, to kill, to smother, to guillotine. That is what these motions colloquially are called.
The third principle expressed in Beauchesne -- and, again, if principle 1 and principle 2 did not impress members of this Legislature when it comes time to mark their ballot, if you will, on this motion -- I am sorry, Mr Speaker; if you want to follow along, I am sure the pages could secure a copy of Beauchesne for you. Please, if I am reading this incorrectly or if I am misinterpreting Beauchesne, let anybody here please say so in reply to my brief comments about this.
The third of the principles of Canadian parliamentary law principle that has to be recalled and has to be a guiding principle when considering this motion is -- I say this with such great respect for this very institution -- “To enable every member to express opinions within limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time.”
Now, I am a student of tradition and decorum. I have made it a practice to read some old books, read some new ones, to speak to people who have been around for a long time and had an opportunity to see the evolution in style and in tradition, and in my own very special way I am an adherent, a fan of decorum. It is because of that that I feel as strongly as I do about this motion. It is because of that respect for decorum that I consider it essential that this motion be defeated, because the limits that are spoken of are the limits necessary to preserve decorum. Quite right. What that means is that everybody cannot talk all at the same time. We are not asking that Bill 68 be discussed in the context of a free-for-all. Again, this goes back to the last principle that I spoke of, where we talked about the transaction of public business in an orderly manner. This motion encourages a disorderly transaction of Bill 68.
My goodness, I wish we had come up with some of these arguments when we were talking about a point of order. It might have made the Chair’s task far easier to have been directed to these basic principles and to have looked at the closure motion, the time allocation motion before us, in that context. “To enable every member to express opinions” -- that is precisely what this motion before us now does not do. It prevents every member from expressing his or her opinion, because it does not even allow enough time for the presentation of the amendments that are being proposed by the Liberals in the government and by the Conservatives as the third party, never mind any discussion of them. It does not permit any questioning of the minister. It does not even come close to permitting any questioning of the minister about what these amendments mean.
I have not yet been told by any member of the government, any of the Liberals, that any one of them is thoroughly familiar with all of this Bill 68, all of the amendments and the significance of the bill and of the amendments. One would think that the Liberal members would be as eager as we are to defeat this time allocation motion so that there could indeed be the opportunity for every member to express opinions within the limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time.
That is the sad part. I am going to come back to Beauchesne, but that takes me to Erskine May because in Erskine May they talk about time allocation. The principle there is essentially the same one that ought to be utilized by this assembly in its vote on the motion before us. I should, for the record, indicate I am reading from Erskine May’s Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, 21st Edition, 1989, published by Butterworths. I am reading from page 410 and I am directing the Speaker’s attention to page 410, “An allocation of time order is not usually moved until after the second reading of a bill” -- fair enough, no quarrel -- “and usually not until the rate of progress in committee has provided an argument for its necessity.”
That is the problem here. That is why if the people who are members in this assembly are going to responsibly perform their roles, they are going to vote against this motion, because now they are the judges. On a point of order the Speaker is the judge. It is like a trial with the judge alone. Now you are the judge, Mr Speaker, but this is the jury. Jurors have responsibilities, and the judge has the responsibility to make sure the jurors are properly equipped with the directions, with the rules, with the guiding light.
It is not a resolution. A support or denial of this motion is no longer in the Speaker’s hands; it is in the hands of these 130 members. It is up to them to perform their task when they vote on this motion, responsibly, without a bias that comes from their partisan affiliation. They have to think of the best interests of the community. Because we are not talking about Bill 68; we are talking about the motion, are we not? We are talking about what this assembly does with the time allocation motion before it. We are talking about this assembly having a very important function now that the motion has been ruled in order and now that it goes to this assembly for a decision. That is why I read very briefly from Erskine May and cite Erskine May from page 410: “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.”
Mr Kormos: Yes, it is. It is a life-draining act, it is a life-ending act, because the vitality of this assembly is dependent upon its ability to openly debate. And those are the rights that we talked about when we talked about Beauchesne and how it enunciated the principles of parliamentary law, and we are going to go back to that. Without that debate, there is no vitality, there is no life. You are creating a corpse out of what was once a lively body; not just a lively body, but a body that gave life to things that came before it and, notwithstanding that it is April, an august body. But it loses some of its augustness, a whole lot of its augustness, when it has to concern itself fearfully -- because I am fearful; I am as afraid as I have ever been. I am afraid that Liberal members will not listen carefully to the arguments about this motion. I am afraid that Liberal members will not listen carefully to the principles contained in Erskine May and in Beauchesne and will not even try to understand why those principles are expressed there.
Let’s go back to Beauchesne, because we talked about the principles of parliamentary law, the fundamentals, “to give abundant opportunity for the consideration of every measure, and to prevent any legislative action being taken upon sudden impulse.” I read that, telling members that is the final enunciated fundamental of Canadian parliamentary law in Beauchesne, and the one that is really most valuable to us in our considerations of this time allocation motion. “To give abundant opportunity”: Abundant does not mean a little bit. Abundant means a lot. Abundant means certainly as much as is necessary.
Mr Kormos: And more for good measure, to err on the side of caution. Because when you are talking about democracy, when you are talking about a free society, a society wherein there are freedoms, a society wherein people resolve differences in -- here I go again; I am almost drawn to a discussion of Bill 68 itself as compared to the motion that is before us because I am talking about the motion and I am talking about how it denies recourse to the parliamentary procedure as a means of settling differences and how important that is in a civilized society, in a free society and one where physical might does not prevail but reason and fairness and logic should prevail.
Perhaps I realize, then, that that comment becomes trite when one realizes that that is what Bill 68 is all about, because it is about taking people’s right to use a courtroom to settle differences and to have the power of the state back them up when they are right. That is so important, because otherwise they are dealing -- really, it does fit in.
Just as we in the opposition, if this motion is permitted to pass, will be thoroughly frustrated in performing our job as we are intent to perform it, just as we will be frustrated in that because we will not be able to use this forum to protect the little people, imagine, then, how the innocent injured victims of motor vehicle accidents will feel when they are told that they cannot use the courts to fight off wealthy, powerful insurance companies who would prey on them, very much as this government would prey on people and prey on minorities. That is what this motion is all about. It is a predatory act. It is a predatory suggestion.
Just as a government, the Liberals, would use their power, their might in terms of numbers -- and my goodness, it is only in terms of numbers -- to prey on a minority, to stifle, to crush the life, to destroy, to eliminate an opposition, then too will insurance companies prey on victims, prey on drivers and, with the help of this government, prey on taxpayers, and they will not have any recourse either.
So I say that this motion is a very important one. This motion violates every one of the principles spoken of as being a fundamental principle of Canadian parliamentary law in Beauchesne. It contradicts everything -- everything -- that is spoken of in Erskine May as being a necessary prerequisite to consideration of time allocation.
We should -- and I do this with a purpose of citing, so that members who are not here will have an opportunity to read Hansard, in view of the fact that I am sure not many of them have Erskine May in their personal libraries, and if they do, it could well not be an up-to-date one. So I cite Erskine May, as I did earlier, at page 410, where it talked, appropriately, about an allocation of time order “not moved until the rate of progress in committee has provided an argument for its necessity.”
On pages 408 and 409, comment is made about “resort...to the most drastic method of curtailing debate known to procedure” -- the most drastic measure. What that implies and certainly suggests to me, and I would think to other people, is that the most drastic measure has to be used for the most drastic circumstances, and there is nothing about these circumstances that illustrate that it is drastic.
We supported it when it was introduced by the government when this House was dealing with Bill 94, the bill to ban extra-billing. It was the New Democratic Party’s position at the time, and I suggest to you an appropriate position, that to not bring in time allocation in those circumstances, to end a filibuster that was occurring in the Legislature, was to give a mixed message to the people of the province, and specifically to the doctors.
What happened then -- and members know full well that I was not an elected member then -- was that the House, the Legislature, the province, was in the midst of a medical and health care crisis. By not ending the debate on Bill 94, there was an encouragement of the strike by doctors across the province.
In that instance there had been lengthy, lengthy, lengthy -- remember the committee hearings on that? They were basically open-ended. Anybody who wanted to come and speak could. That is not the case here. This government fitted its muzzle on the opposition when it would only permit very limited committee hearings; and debate in committee of the whole consideration in that instance, with Bill 94, as members well know, was lengthy and thorough and considerable.
I should mention, if only by way of anecdote, that there were more than a few doctors and medical personnel who appeared at the standing committee on general government hearings to condemn this legislation. Many had not paid close enough attention to the procedure to realize that it was the Minister of Financial Institutions who was trying to impose it on the people of Ontario, and when they looked at the name that accompanied the title, they could not believe it. They said, “Oh, no, not again.” They had been done in once and now they were seeing themselves virtually as being done in twice by the same actor.
Anyway, back to the fact that we have in the past, and in that instance we did, because in that instance the circumstances satisfied all of the criteria that are laid out as necessary prerequisites to the passage of a time allocation motion. Here they do not; they are far from it. That is why it is important that this motion be opposed.
Fair-minded people, people who care about democracy, people who care about debate, people who care about honest, open exchange, would endorse a debate that was healthy and vital. People who have no interest in democracy, people who would prefer jackboot politics, would propose time allocation.
The problem with that mentality is that it is out of style in eastern Europe. Dictatorships all over the world are being sent packing. These dictatorships are ones that have time allocation motions every day. They stifle their oppositions at every drop of the hat. Sadly, it looks like it is becoming a pattern with this government too.
Every once in a while I wear this little button that says, “Liberals are Tories too.” I wore it during the auto insurance committee hearings, because I was pretty confident that the Minister of Financial Institutions was going to Mike Wilson more than a couple of parts of Bill 68, and indeed he did. Just as Mike Wilson dropped it from nine down to seven to try to make it a little more palatable, sure enough, Murray Elston, when the -- the Minister of Financial Institutions; I bet the Speaker was just about ready to remind me that we are not supposed to refer to people by their Christian names and surnames, and I will try very hard not to do it again. But there was the Minister of Financial Institutions Mike Wilsoning the auto insurance legislation, tinkering with it, raising -- remember what it was, raising those wage-replacement maximums, because they were maximums, from $450 a week to $600 a week?
This is where it is so essential that we have thorough debate and why this motion not be passed, because we had reminded the Minister of Financial Institutions, the Mike Wilson of Queen’s Park, time and time again that $450 was grossly inadequate. It was not something that he dreamed of or thought of or acquired during the course of committee hearings; we have been telling him that from day one about this, and a whole lot of other things too.
Mr Kormos: That is right. Initially it had been stated as maximum payout of $1,500 a month. Oh, you could get up to a half a million dollars. Just a minute; we will talk about that in just a second and illustrate why it is so important to discuss this in a full debate and in a clause-by-clause consideration, because this government, the Liberals, Peterson’s Liberals, talked about long-term care -- mind you, a maximum of $500,000, and paid out at a maximum rate of $1,500 a month.
Again, from day one it was pointed out to them: “You are going to force people into institutions. You are going to force people into Dickens-like poorhouses; 50 bucks a day doesn’t buy you much long-term care.”
So the Mike Wilson of Queen’s Park, the Minister of Financial Institutions, played with some of the numbers, trying to make it more palatable, and increased the maximum payout to $3,000 a month. They did not change the $500,000. But if you think about it for just a minute, $3,000 is even a rather paltry sum, and that is why that warrants and calls for and cries out for clause-by-clause consideration, lengthy, thorough, complete clause-by-clause consideration; $3,000 a month, again, still does not pay for anything fancy, no two ways about it, but it is still a maximum of $500,000.
Do you know what happens to the 18-year-old under the Minister of Financial Institutions’ insurance scheme? Before that 18-year-old is really very old at all, the well is dry, the tap is turned off. There is no more care, never mind long-term care.
What an inappropriate thing to call it, long-term care, when in fact it is not long-term care, it is only the briefest of care, because what we know and what we learned and what the minister would have found out if he had bothered to come to these committee hearings is that if you are in long-term care for a year or two, you probably are not getting out of it. If you are not rehabilitated within a couple of years, you are going to be spending the rest of your life in it.
What this legislation does is cut it off, and it plays around with figures just enough to make them at first glance appear -- not attractive -- handsome, let’s say. But then, with more than a brief examination, one realizes how impoverished the legislation really is.
As I say, the button that I wore was white on blue, “Liberals are Tories too.” The behaviour of the Minister of Financial Institutions and how he tinkered with some of the numbers illustrates that. And that button is going to become more prominent, because this government’s behaviour with closure, with time allocation, tells us that yes, Liberals are Tories too. You do not know who is teaching who the tricks. Is Brian Mulroney teaching the Premier the tricks or is the Premier -- the Premier of Ontario -- teaching Brian Mulroney tricks?
Holy cow. People on Parliament Hill are fearful, just as I am, about the tendency of that federal government to impose closure, to stifle debate, to use jackboot tactics. Yet that same trend has been developing right here at Queen’s Park in the province of Ontario with these Liberals sitting with their arrogant, supercilious majority. So that makes you fearful. It makes you fearful about the destiny of parliamentary institutions.
This government now treats time allocation motions as routine. They do not even bother to generate a pretence of rationale for the time allocation motion. They lickety-split just throw the cuffs on and drag them away.
I have not been through all of this building. I guess what I am most fearful of is that there might be dungeons somewhere here, because I suppose that if this Legislature lets the Liberals get away with this motion, the next step will be, “Don’t just silence the opposition, lock them up as well.” This government surely cannot be envious of the reputations and the image that other dictatorships across the world have acquired by virtue of the same course of action.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to advise all members and anyone who is watching that a quorum is present, so we will continue now with the debate of the member for Welland-Thorold on the reason why we should or should not have this time allocation motion before us. Is that correct?
Mr Kormos: What we were just talking about was the little button that I wear that says, “Liberals are Tories too.” They have each picked up the other’s bad habits. They have each picked up the other’s worst habits: regressive taxing, a bad habit that they share with each other; time allocation, stifling the opposition, a real bad habit that they share with each other.
Mr Kormos: If the member had been here, he would have been able to share with us our fear that that is the next step, the next stage. First you silence them and then you -- this time allocation motion could result in we in the opposition showing up here and just finding that the desks and the chairs are gone. There are Liberals who have dreams about that, and there are more than a few insurance company executives who have similarly fantasized, but it just ain’t going to be that way. We are not going to let that happen without a fight, and we are not going to let that happen without appealing to the decency of Liberal members, to the intelligence of Liberal members --
Mr Kormos: No, give credit where credit is due -- the decency and intelligence, the sense of fair play, integrity, a virtue that surely can be found somewhere among the Liberal caucus. We appeal to those qualities -- I suppose it must be said, if they exist among Liberal members. We appeal to those qualities to lure those persons away from the heavy hand of their own leader and to a state of mind where they can use that sense of decency, use that intelligence, use the integrity and use the virtue that they have managed to muster up to vote against this legislation, to vote against the time allocation motion.
Why would any fairminded person want to avoid a debate? For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Liberals were not even participating to any great extent in the second reading debate. To speculate, suppose that there were more than a few members who were embarrassed about the legislation and did not want to be associated with it, that there were more than a few Liberals who recognized that if their ridings, their constituents, identified them as being supportive of the bill, they were going to lose votes in the next general election. They might have considered that a possibility back there in second reading. They know it is the truth now; they know the inevitability of that. The price is going to be paid for this sellout and, more important, for the sellout of democracy that is inherent in this time allocation motion.
Yesterday, members might recall, I opened by identifying something of the history of this bill and how that was significant to consider in the context of this time allocation motion. I do want to say something. If I ever appear to be discussing anything that is not relevant to the time allocation motion, perhaps we could deem it to be relevant to the time allocation motion because, after all, deeming is what this stuff is all about. Let’s not forget what happened. The sad thing is that our job in the opposition is to remind people what happened, and we have every intention of doing that. Their job is to ingest more soporifics and let dreams of fantasies prevail rather than the reality of what happened.
Five days in second reading. The people across Ontario have got to understand that when we talk about five days, we are talking about five afternoons, two and a half hours perhaps in each afternoon. Five afternoons for 130 people to engage in a debate about a bit of legislation that was the most significant legislation to come across their desks in a long, long time is not very much time at all. As a matter of fact, that is a very modest, limited period of time. Five days, five afternoons, was a very short period of time.
We recognize that it was important to get the bill from second reading on into committee. Murray Elston -- I appreciate that I cannot call him that, can I? Can I tell you some of the other things I have called him, Mr Speaker? The Minister of Financial Institutions -- I am sure his friends and family call him Murray Elston -- did not want this bill to go to committee. He did not want a committee to examine this auto insurance legislation. We are talking still about the Minister of Financial Institutions now. He talked about how this whole insurance business had been debated and debated and researched and researched.
Indeed, it was at great cost to the taxpayer. Threshold insurance, which is what Bill 68 is all about, was considered by Mr Justice Osborne, and Mr Justice Osborne said: “No, it is a bad approach. It is not going to lower premiums, it is not going to reduce litigation and it is going to hurt innocent injured victims. It is going to deprive innocent injured victims of compensation for pain and suffering, compensation that in any fairminded community, in any fairminded society would rightly be theirs.” Osborne told the government that.
So the minister was partly right when he said the matter had been discussed and analysed. It was discussed and analysed and the net result, the recommendation, was, “No, it is the wrong direction to go in.” Threshold insurance, which is what Bill 68 is all about, is going to he a bad law.
The government of Peterson’s Liberals was obviously prepared to have another kick at the can. Threshold insurance is very specifically an American system. You know that, Mr Speaker, but some of the members of the Legislature do not know it. If they read Osborne, they would discover that. If they read Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board’s report on threshold insurance, they would know that. If they read the New York Times once in a while, they would see how states like New Jersey are abandoning threshold insurance because it simply does not work to reduce premiums, and the hardships, the cruel penalties it imposes upon victims, make it unbearable for those American jurisdictions who adopted it and who have been tinkering with it and playing with it for some period of time.
It was on his instructions that the Minister of Financial Institutions was calling upon American jurisdictions for threshold systems, so I say the second kick of the can. Let’s run it past John Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board. The board during the course of 1989 looked at three American models, three threshold models. Interestingly, all three of those models were less rigorous than the threshold system that the minister is trying to ram through this Legislature.
John Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board recommended against adopting a threshold model. Strangely, but understandably in hindsight, the government was conducting its own secret study all along. The government was spending almost a third of a million dollars of taxpayers’ money on secret actuarial studies that were paralleling Kruger’s inquiry. It was a secret study, a clandestine study, a surreptitious study. You can live with something that is clandestine and secret, but once it becomes surreptitious, it becomes really objectionable, does it not, Mr Speaker?
So here we go with a secret study, and what it was doing was costing Bill 68. Before the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board had even made its recommendations about threshold insurance, this government knew all along and was prepared to take the chance on the board: either it will or it will not. It was a 50-50 proposition. It is like flipping a coin: it is either going to be heads or tails, one or the other.
If they had to dump on the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, indeed they would one more time, because do not forget, this government had to run from that same board, after 13 February 1989. Remember 13 February 1989? I took the liberty of calling it the St Valentine’s Day massacre, because it was 13 February but it would appear in the papers the next day on the 14th. That was the one where the government wanted to generate premium increases, anywhere up to, heck, 75 per cent increases for drivers in Ontario.
Do you want to know something, Mr Speaker? The government ran from that because the outcry was so strong and so loud. I will bet you money right now that the premium increases that are going to be generated by Bill 68 will be in line with those same atrocious premium increases that came from the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board on the date that I called the St Valentine’s Day massacre, back on 13 February 1989. Just watch.
What is important is that there be an exposure of that insincerity on the part of the government when it conducted its secret study. When I think back to some of the modest claims that we made about this bill, about its impact on people in Ontario, the Tories and the New Democrats were shocked, because our best estimates were that it would cost innocent victims maybe as much as $500 million in the first year. Our best estimates of the impact of this Bill 68 on innocent injured victims were that it would cost them as much as $500 million.
It was only when we forced those secret studies out of the government’s filing cabinets that we learned that the government had conducted its studies and found that -- $500 million? Are we kidding? -- it was going to cost innocent injured victims $823 million in the first year alone. The government knew that all along because it had these actuarial studies that it kept secret, for good reason, from its very partisan point of view.
What a cruel thing to do to the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and its chairman. What a slap in the face to John Kruger. What an indignity to a person who perceives himself as a pure bureaucrat -- not in any negative sense, but a person who perceives himself as a pure civil servant, a pure bureaucrat -- to have known all along that the government did not give a tinker’s damn about what the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board said because it had its own agenda all along. All there was was the pretence of democracy.
That is what time allocation is all about. It is about saying the words but when one checks it against reality, the passage of this motion will be the death knell for democracy at Queen’s Park. Again, I do not want that ever to have to be tested because it is incumbent on members of this assembly -- I see we have some new faces here. I want to mention to these folks who came to listen to me a little bit about Beauchesne.
What I am referring to, so that people can refer to their own copies if they wish, is Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, published by Carswell in 1989. Beauchesne talks about the principles of parliamentary law. If you want to follow along with me, Mr Speaker, I am sure one of the pages can get it for you from the Clerk’s table.
Mr Kormos: No, we do not have to read the whole book. That would be an abuse of the floor and the Speaker would rightly interrupt me and say: “No, you are not here to filibuster. You are not here to stand there and read books. You are here to make argument.” Indeed I acknowledge that.
Let’s take a look at what Beauchesne says in the very first paragraph. Why I am reading this and why I am making reference to these is because for each and every one of these Liberal members who has not been made aware of what the fundamental principles of parliamentary law are, now is the time. Let’s take a look at this time allocation motion in the context of those fundamental principles.
Need I go any further? That in itself would persuade any literate member of this government. I know, Mr Speaker, you look askance at them, seeing which ones packed along their Crayolas and which ones did not, but let’s be kind. “To protect the minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority.” How can any member of this Legislature, knowing that is a fundamental principle, not vote against this time allocation motion? That is exactly what this time allocation does. It denies protection to the minority and it generates the tyranny of the majority.
Let’s take a look at the second principle: “To secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner.” We have read that before. I realize that is exactly what this time allocation motion does. It encourages disorderliness. This time allocation motion, telling 130 members that they are only going to have two afternoons to review, clause by clause, one of the most extensive bits of legislation to come across this Legislature in a long time, is going to generate disorderliness. All hell is going to break loose in here if only two afternoons are permitted for clause-by-clause consideration. It will generate disorderliness.
That is the height of irresponsibility on the part of these Liberals. They have over 30 amendments they want to present. Nothing substantial, just cleanup. This bill was so hastily drafted. This came up time and time again in the committee hearings. Time and time again, we would find these horrid, big, wide openings that you could drive a transport truck through. We would find these incredible drafting errors. That is no criticism of the hard-working people who had to put this stuff together. Let’s face it, the orders in themselves were perverse and bizarre. So we found a whole bunch of just dumb mistakes, the kind you make when you stay up too late at night and try to write something out.
The Acting Speaker: I am sure I am totally out of order and the Clerk’s table will bring that to my attention some time in the next week or two. I have been following Beauchesne very closely actually and I would just be interested in your comments on time allocation. As you very well put it, in section 1 that same paragraph continues on to say that part of the parliamentary process is to prevent a waste of time. Could you enlighten me?
Mr Kormos: Exactly, Mr Speaker. You talk about wasting time. We just wasted 30 seconds, did we not? But I appreciate that your heart is in the right place. You recognize that I am the newest member of the Legislature and I may not be familiar with some of the rules and procedures.
Mr Kormos: Where we were. Let’s not jump ahead, because then we are going to lose the flow. The nice thing about Beauchesne is that it has flow. It is very readable. It is just a fascinating sort of thing to sit back, read, discuss at the dinner table. If you have children, you want them to be exposed to it at the earliest opportunity.
Okay, “in an orderly manner,” a basic fundamental rule. Everybody here knows that the effect of this time allocation motion will be to create disorder, to create anarchy. The Liberals are Tories too and now they are anarchists as well. That is a fearful proposition.
Let’s look at the third proposition in Beauchesne, and the people who are here should listen carefully: “To enable every member to express opinions within limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time.” Need I say more?
This time allocation motion is creating a waste of time because that is the one we are having to fight tooth and nail to prevent it from being passed. Just watch. If those Liberals do not let their consciences prevail, if indeed Liberals vote for this time allocation motion, they will have realized that we will have spent three weeks or more discussing time allocation, because it is such an essential consideration, because it drives right to the heart of everything we are doing here, yet their motion gives us two afternoons to discuss the 30 amendments that the Liberals propose to the bill, and then another 20 or so that the Progressive Conservative Party wants to make to the legislation. Surely there is something bizarre and insane about that.
The other question then is, do two afternoons in committee of the whole House permit an opportunity, as Beauchesne says, for every member to express opinions? Does it? Of course it does not. That is what the time allocation motion is all about. It is to prevent members from expressing opinions. It is to prevent people from performing their roles as spokespeople for their constituents. That is why --
Mr Neumann: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I have been listening very carefully and it seems to me the member is addressing not the substance of the motion, but the point of order already dealt with by the Speaker yesterday.
The Acting Speaker: You could sort of, as you have been well doing, address your remarks from time to time to the time allocation motion. I have to confess that I have been listening very attentively and I am sure you will continue to do so.
What happened yesterday -- whether individuals agree or disagree with the ruling made by the Chair, you live with it, you accept that. What happened yesterday was that a point of order was raised. The House leader for the official opposition stood up and said:
“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” -- it is this one – “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.”
The House leader for the Conservative Party spoke to it. The House leader for the government, for the Liberals, spoke to it. Of course he was somewhat irate that anybody would have the audacity to raise a point of order, but that is our job.
Eventually the Speaker made his ruling. The Speaker had this to say: He told us that he had listened carefully to the arguments made. He told us that the motion was printed in Orders and Notices and that there had been some preliminary investigation, because what a point of order does -- this I understand -- is it objects to basically the prima facie motion, and that is to say whether the motion in itself is not in order.
A whole bunch of arguments, strong arguments, were made to the Speaker in support of the proposition that this motion was not in order. The Speaker said, “No, the motion is in order.” That is that. When you were here a little while ago, Mr Speaker, in a different persona, I told you, in that other persona, very respectfully that this is sort of -- you might find this interesting because of what you used to do for a living -- like riding a bicycle or any other number of things where you never really forget how to do it. You do not get any better at it; you just do not forget how to do it. On a point of order the Speaker is sort of like a judge sitting all alone. He decides one way or the other. But on a motion such as we are arguing now, the Speaker does not decide that, does he? The people of this assembly decide it, kind of like the jury.
Mr Kormos: Unless it is a tie, and with an odd number there cannot be a tie. So what I am doing -- it is difficult because there is a turnover in here. Sometimes I look up and I say: “My, that body was not there before. What happened to the body that used to be there?” They are switching bodies on me and I cannot quite remember when body A left and body B came in. So wait a minute; it is not fair to body A to only pick up half the argument because we are dealing with important stuff --
Mr Kormos: Is this a hoax? Are people taking this seriously, that some Liberal would raise a point of order and not be paying attention because he is sitting beside the Minister of Health? Did you not know that, Mr Speaker? He is sitting beside the Minister of Health and he would not pay attention, so I am trying to help him understand. I cannot send my Erskine May over to him, nor my Beauchesne, because they are not mine. I borrowed them. Mine are at my home in Welland. I spend many an evening with the music on low reading my Erskine May.
We are not talking about a point of order any more. We are talking about the reason why people should be opposing this time allocation motion. The reason people should be opposing it is because it is unparliamentary. That is not to say you cannot put it before the Legislature. That is what the Speaker decided yesterday, did he not? It is not out of order to put it, but it certainly would be unparliamentary to pass it. It is not undemocratic to put the motion before the House, but it certainly would be undemocratic to vote for it. It is not a betrayal of the people of Ontario to move the motion, but it would be a betrayal of the people of Ontario if the people in this Legislative Assembly were to pass it.
That type of betrayal you can only pull off once. There is a general election coming and again this government’s attitude -- lord knows, they wish they simply never had to call elections any more but that is well beyond their control, just as they wish the opposition would clam up and not fight for what is right but that cannot happen. The opposition is going to keep on fighting for what is right and doing the right thing and taking the right position, taking the correct position, taking the fair position, taking the position -- I tell members, that we have nothing to do with the big corporate automobile insurance companies. There are no two ways about it.
We are not here arguing on behalf of the rights and interests of the insurance industry. There are no two ways about it. Unapologetically, we are not here arguing on behalf of the interests of the insurance industry. We are arguing on behalf of the interests of drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims, the ones who are going to be hurt worst and in the cruelest way by this legislation.
I suppose the saddest thing is that our enthusiasm to resist this bad legislation has never been greater because we know about the innocent injured victims and how it is going to hurt them. We know about taxpayers and how it is going to gouge them. We know about drivers and how the premium increases are going to be as high as 50 per cent. Our enthusiasm to resist this legislation has never been stronger, never been greater, never been more lively.
Now we see a Liberal majority under the guidance of their leader. The member for London Centre is calling the shots still -- there are no two ways about it -- as he gets -- well, he is the Premier; we are talking about the same person. He is calling the shots as he gets told to call them, no two ways about it, by the sort of people the Liberals represent, the sort of interests they represent. I tell members that we are not ashamed to come here and tell them that we do not act for big corporate insurance companies. Quite frankly, we are not afraid to point the finger and call it the way it is, and when we see big corporate insurance companies gouging little people we get mad and make no apologies about that.
We do not take money. Do members want to know something? They do not offer it to us. They do not offer us money for good reason, because they know we are not their spokesperson. They know we do not have their big, wealthy, powerful corporate interests at heart. They know that. They know we are going to fight for the guy in the plant, for the housewife, for the small business man, for the small business woman. They know we are going to fight for the young professional who is trying to make his or her way ahead in his or her career. So they do not even try.
It does not bother me to say that they have not offered me any money. It does not bother me to say that other members of the opposition have not been offered money by the insurance industry. The thing is that the insurance industry -- nobody said they were stupid; they are clever, they are smart. They are going to spend their money where it gets the biggest result. That is exactly what they have done. There is no reason for them to give money to us because we are going to fight legislation such as Bill 68 that is going to make incredible profits for them.
There are lots of reasons for them to be giving money to Liberal candidates in general elections, over $100,000 of recorded contributions in the last general election to Liberal candidates from the auto insurance industry. Drivers in Ontario wonder where their premiums are being spent. I will tell members where they are being spent. They are being spent on campaign contributions to Liberal candidates.
I know this particular question was posed yesterday, “How many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars, how many millions of dollars were spent by that same auto insurance industry during that last general election on third party advertising?” Again, drivers in Ontario wonder where their premium dollars are going. You do not have to look far.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Scarborough-Ellesmere has indicated that under standing orders members should be referred to by their riding and he is absolutely correct. I am a little uncomfortable about “dishonesty.” Carry on with your remarks. I am listening very closely.
Listen to this, catch this. I am not reading from Erskine May any more, nor from Beauchesne any more. I am reading, lo and behold, from the Canadian Underwriter magazine, February 1990. This is not the sort of stuff you pick up at the corner store. You have to be over 18 to read this.
I will tell members what the insurance industry itself says about profits or profitability. We are getting this information, as I say, right from Canadian Underwriter magazine. It is a magazine for the insurance industry. I get this once a month and read it, and I understand that the insurance industry has good reason to fudge the figures when it comes to reporting profits. We are going to talk about that in just a little while. We are going to talk about why it is important that this motion not pass so that we can discuss this in full debate in the course of committee of the whole and in the course of third reading.
Do members want to know something really remarkable? Members should hold on to their chairs because the third quarter of 1989 showed record high profits for the insurance industry in Canada, record high profits in the last eight years. Are members not glad they held on to their chairs? Record high profits for an eight-year period, shown in the third quarter of 1989, profits of $317 million for the third quarter alone.
The insurance industry in Canada is going to have made well over $1 billion in profits in the year 1989, and this government, the Liberals, want to throw another billion into the hopper, $1 billion dollars of the taxpayers’ money, innocent injured victims’ compensation and drivers’ premiums to add to the billion bucks the auto insurance industry will have made in 1989.
Profit of $317 million was also the highest for eight years, an extraordinary profit. Net premiums written rose by five per cent. I am talking about the deceit that has been inherent in the promotion. Members better believe I am talking about that, because listen to this, listen to what the insurance industry is bragging about. They are bragging about the fact that net premiums written rose by five per cent over the same quarter, led by a 10 per cent rise in auto insurance premiums. See? The premium increases that this government permitted the auto insurance industry exceeded the premium increases they had in other forms of insurance.
It is incredible that the insurance industry that is showing record high profits for the last eight years, that will have had profits of in excess of $1 billion for 1989 is being given this cash cow by the Petersonian Liberals.
When I make reference to the Premier, I am going to call him the Premier of Ontario. But I do believe there is a Petersonian philosophy that has permeated the Liberal Party in Ontario, so when I speak of the Petersonian Liberals, I am not making reference to Peterson as the Premier; I am making reference to his impact as leader of a political party, sort of like Keynesian economists.
Let’s talk about what the Insurance Bureau of Canada, because the source of that material was the Insurance Bureau of Canada; Jack Lyndon, head spokesperson. That was from the March edition. In February they talked about auto insurance alone. This is really interesting stuff. This one will throw members for a loop: they can count on it. The IBC says that the auto insurance industry lost money in 1989. Let’s look at how they figure that out. Let’s look at their figuring and let’s look at the Liberal response to that, the Petersonian Liberal response.
This is what the little blurb from the IBC says: “Ontario car insurers paid $63 million more to settle claims and operate the business than they earned from premium and investment income in the first nine months of 1989.” Once again, good old Jack Lyndon is doing the same moaning and groaning that has characterized that industry for many, many decades. He is saying car insurance in this province continues to be a losing proposition for insurers.
Let me respond to that by saying this. If it continues to be a losing proposition, why are those guys, the Gore Mutuals of the world, the Allstates of the world, fighting tooth and nail to retain control of that industry? Why did they invest so much money in their Liberal buddies? To stay involved in a losing proposition? Cut it out. Only a real dummy would believe that. That is all I can say to the members, understanding the guidelines we have to operate in here.
Let me tell the House how they calculate that, and this is where we get into how insurance industries fudge the figures. They jerk around with their profits and losses. Let me tell House how they do it, because this is what Jack Lyndon says on behalf of that same auto insurance industry. “For every dollar of premium collected” -- and this right here is the kicker -- “92 cents was paid out or reserved to pay claims.” That is the little catch, that is the gap, that is the beautiful thing about it. When you make a reserve to pay claims, you do not pay the money out. You may never pay the money out. You do not stop losing investment income on that money, but you jack it up to inflate your purported payout.
Sometimes what is omitted is far more obvious than what is included. Sometimes the words that are not spoken are far louder than the words that are, because what is omitted is that they do not break down that 92 cents to tell us how much of that 92 cents was indeed really paid out and how much was merely reserved to pay claims that may never be paid and, as we know, as often as not are not paid.
The whole insurance industry is about this. You collect the maximum amount of premiums. If you are a Wellington, if you are a Gore Mutual, if you are any other one of those operators, you collect as much in premiums as you can and you pay out as little as you can. That is what it is all about, and if you have to take a driver and grab him by the ankles to shake every last nickel and dime out of him to increase the premiums you get from him, you do it. If you have to cheat innocent injured victims out of what is rightly theirs, you do it.
If the insurance industry has to pay out millions of dollars in defence lawyers to wear away at innocent injured victims and deny them what it rightly theirs, they will do it. They have done it in the last 10 years, they have done it in the decade before that, the decade before that and the decade before that. And do members want to know something? That is why we have to have a thorough debate of this legislation. That is why time allocation is not acceptable -- because of the dishonesty that has permeated the campaign for Bill 68. That is why time allocation is so unfair and so unconscionable -- because there has to be an opportunity for the Minister of Financial Institutions to be answerable to members of this Legislature and to the committee of the whole House to questions like why he is giving away $1 billion worth of taxpayers’ money, drivers’ money, innocent victims’ money to the insurance industry, which made over $1 billion last year. We would like the Minister of Financial Institutions to please answer that, because Lord knows he was not at the committee hearings to answer that sort of question, was he?
The parliamentary assistant, who is a heck of a nice guy, was sent out there day after day to take the heat, to get hammered and hammered and as often as not to very candidly tell the committee: “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question for you.” Of course, it was an unfair thing to do to the member for Guelph. That is why we need full debate on this. That is why this time allocation motion has to be dumped -- because what happens in committee of the whole is that we get a chance, as members of the Legislature, to ask questions about the bill itself, about specific clauses.
Again, a question that begs to be asked, that demands to be asked, is, why is the Minister of Financial Institutions, why are the Petersonian Liberals, selling out the drivers, the victims, the taxpayers of Ontario? Why are they so beholden to the auto insurance industry? Why are they so beholden to an industry that has demonstrated year after year, decade after decade, that it is going to gouge as much as it can and treat drivers and victims shabbily? Indeed, “shabbily” is an understatement of the type of treatment that drivers and victims get from insurance companies in this province. That question has to be asked. The question has to be asked about how it is that insurance companies in Ontario, private corporate automobile insurance companies, can jerk around with their figures to demonstrate losses when they do not have losses.
We are going to get back to this purported loss by the insurance industry in Ontario from Canadian Underwriter magazine. Let me tell members a little bit, because these are some questions that have to be asked too. We should not forget that these Liberals spent millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on Kruger’s Ontario Automobile Insurance Board up in North York at Lastman Towers or what have you. I have nothing against either drunks or sailors, but this government was spending money like a drunken sailor, tossing money around to landlords, renting big chunks of real estate.
I just found out the incredible square footage -- I would almost be prepared to call it “acreage” -- that was rented for the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board up in that high-rise tower. Of course, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board was disbanded a long time ago, but the cheques kept coming. It has been sitting there vacant for a long time. Finally, the environmental assessment hearing on Ontario Hydro’s 25-year plan is going to be held on that same acreage. The gazillions of dollars that have been poured away by this government will finally generate a little bit of usage by way of the environmental assessment hearing on the 25-year plan.
I said: “Of course we’ve already argued the point of order. That was yesterday; today is today.” This same member -- they will not let me call people by their real names. There are some members whose ridings I know because they make an impact on me; there are others whose ridings I do not remember because they do not make an impact. This member -- I just checked my floor plan here -- is from Brantford. It is a good thing we have programs. You cannot tell a player without a program.
This member jumped up on a point of order, saying, “You’ve already argued the point of order.” The Speaker invited me to respond, and I was a little bit troubled because I thought, “Doesn’t this member understand that he, along with other women and men who serve as legislators, has an obligation to understand parliamentary principles and apply them to a decision that has to be made on a time allocation motion?”
Mr Kormos: There is an exchange going on over which I have no control. The exchange is all about the Liberal members who are going to be defeated in the next general election. I am hard pressed to interrupt it. I almost feel as if I should back off, sit down, quite frankly, and let some meaningful discussion, perhaps an assessment of how many Liberals will lose their seats --
Mr Kormos: We were talking about the reason why committee of the whole is so essential: so that we can ask the minister questions because he was not there at the committee hearings to be asked questions. He was not there to be asked questions about the profitability of the insurance industry and how that industry diddles its books. He was not there to be asked about the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s own assessment of the profitability of the revenues and payouts, the revenues and expenses of that automobile insurance industry.
What I was doing was talking about the statement from Jack Lyndon, Insurance Bureau of Canada, where he talked about what is being paid out and why it is so essential to have sufficient time to ask the minister about these things. Jack Lyndon says that for every dollar of premium collected in 1989, 92 cents was paid out or reserved to pay claims. We know that does not really mean being paid out.
I was just starting to explain how, back at the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board hearings, we learned from the government’s own actuary, Irene Bass, brought in by the government from Manhattan, from New York state, New York city; brought up here and paid a whole lot of money to analyse the books, in so far as they were made available in a limited way, of the auto insurance industry.
She had to wait for those books to cool down after they were taken out of the oven before she could even start flipping the pages. What she discovered was that when the automobile insurance industry reported a loss in 1987 of $142 million, what that really means is that it had a profit of over $50 million. She explained to those of us who were there how that was done, which is why I would love to be able to have committee of the whole of sufficient duration so that these very same questions could be put to the minister.
Irene Bass, the government’s own hired actuary, says that payouts are distinct from reserves, that reserves still belong to the insurance company. They still sit in the insurance companies’ banks, they still earn interest income. You have to treat that with a great deal of caution, because she also explained that the insurance industry has an interest in generating apparent losses when in fact there were not losses but, rather, profits.
So you have got 92 cents, according to Jack Lyndon. You either pay it out or reserve it, which means that it is still in the insurance company’s pocket. Twenty-one cents is paid out for operating expenses. This is where you really get some interesting insights into the private corporate automobile insurance industry in Ontario, because 21 cents paid out for operating expenses -- that is, brokers’ commissions and company overhead -- is awfully high. What that reveals is that this is an incredibly inefficient industry, that it is paying far too much in overhead. You contrast that with what the government of Ontario has acknowledged is the increased efficiency of public, driver-owned schemes, like those in British Columbia, and once again you start to realize where even more drivers’ premiums are being poured away.
In assessing 1989 in the Ontario automobile insurance industry, Jack Lyndon also talks about the three per cent premium tax that industry pays. That is the very same three per cent premium tax that the Petersonian Liberals would forgive payment of by the auto insurance industry. This Liberal government would rather dig deeper into home owners’ pockets and have that $95 million a year -- previously obtained through premium tax -- gouged and robbed, stolen, picked from the pockets of seniors, single mothers, hardworking people who deserve far better. Three cents on every dollar was paid to the provincial government in premium tax.
Listen to this: 14 cents was earned in investment income. What Lyndon does with those figures is say the automobile insurance industry in Ontario lost money in 1989, it lost two cents for every dollar collected in premiums. But catch this: these are the sorts of questions that committee of the whole House permits to be asked of the minister because, as I say, he was not there in the committee hearings to be asked these questions. The poor member for Guelph, as often as not, candidly admitted that he did not know the answers. He would wince when one of us indicated in committee that we wanted to ask a question, because he would be again put in the position of having to acknowledge that he did not know.
A legitimate period of time in committee of the whole and in third reading debate would permit these same queries to be made of the minister, as they ought to have been in committee, except the minister was not there. Therein lies one of the most significant single reasons why this motion should be defeated, because the minister did not attend committee hearings. How can this government dare bring this motion when the minister would not participate in the committee hearings?
This is the only opportunity that legislators have to ask the minister questions about the clauses contained in the bill, about the impact of the bill on drivers’ victims and taxpayers and about the amendments that the government is proposing. And the minister says no, the minister says that he chose not to be present at the committee hearings, and now he says, “You can only have four or five hours maybe, if you are lucky, to discuss the bill on a clause-by-clause,” to discuss the 30-plus amendments that the government is proposing. You could not even present the 30 amendments that the government is proposing in that grossly limited period of time that the government would have us discuss clause-by-clause in committee of the whole, never mind the 20-plus amendments that the Conservative Party is proposing.
The minister wants to make sure that we cannot ask any questions about the profitability of the insurance industry in Ontario and in Canada. He wants to make sure that we cannot pose this question to him. Even if the insurance industry’s own figures -- and we know that they are cooked, we know that is the bent of the insurance industry -- only show a loss of two cents in every dollar and even if we accept them for the briefest of moments, because I know how difficult it is to accept what the insurance industry says in terms of its profits as being true, look at that: it is only claiming a two-cent loss on every dollar. The elimination of the three-cents-on-every-dollar premium tax, the elimination of that premium tax alone, will thrust them up into profitability. Yet are the government and Bill 68 content with merely eliminating the premium tax? No, because even on the insurance industry’s own figures the elimination of that premium tax is going to generate impressive profitability. But no, this government also wants to relieve the insurance industry of its obligation to OHIP, to the tune of some $46 million in the first year alone. Members had better believe it. The taxpayer giveaway to this particular corporate welfare bum is to the tune of around $141 million to $143 million. That is why it is so essential that there be an opportunity to question and debate this in full.
What that means is that $140 million to $143 million in extra tax is going to be taken from hardworking people in Ontario, from seniors, from old people, from unemployed people and from people on pensions. It is going to be taken from them and given to the auto insurance industry. What that means is that drivers are going to be gouged to the tune of premium increases of up to 50 per cent, and what that means is that victims are going to be denied compensation that is rightly theirs. Over 95 per cent of innocent injured accident victims are not going to receive any compensation for their pain and suffering, and that is going to put an extra $823 million into the private corporate automobile insurance companies’ bank accounts.
This motion would deny the opportunity for opposition members to talk about the secrecy that accompanied all of 1989. There were over 30 documents, which were finally procured from the Liberal government, that revealed the secret studies which were taking place during 1989 and that demonstrate that this government had this payout and payoff for the insurance industry planned all along. Those documents were only made available on 6 February 1990, after participants in the committee hearings had made their submissions, and it meant that none of those participants, included among them professionals, economists, various university professors and academics among others, it prevented the opposition from permitting these same experts with their expertise to examine these documents, to look at them with a view to what they really meant and to what they really disclosed, such that these could become the subject matter of those same discussions during the course of committee of the whole.
This motion is really letting the government have its own way in every aspect. The insurance companies’ rate filings made before the end of the year and at the beginning of 1990 revealed to the government exactly what the insurance industry has in mind when it comes to the premiums that it is going to be charging drivers in 1990, once this legislation is passed. Notwithstanding persistent requests during committee hearings, the government would not make this information available. Again, secrecy became the order of the day. The government collected information and kept it secret; the government generated information and kept it secret. The last thing in the world the government wanted was for this information to be made available either to witnesses at the hearings or to opposition members, because it would have enabled those same witnesses and those same opposition members to understand what the real motive was for this legislation.
The absence of the minister from the committee hearings prevented him from having to respond to the inadequacies of Bill 68 and the illogic and the dishonesty inherent in the insurance companies’ presentation of their case. Again, to demonstrate and illustrate why time allocation is such a disgusting perversion of parliamentary procedure, let me tell members about this because this is what we are not going to be able to talk to the minister about. It is going to take a couple of seconds to set this up in terms of illustrating what we have here.
We have a young man whose name is Mike Dayboll, who lives on Church Street in Fenwick. He is a first-year student at Niagara College, in the law and security program. He was involved in a very minor collision back in 1989. He insists that no damage was caused to either vehicle; at least, he did not see any. He acknowledges that the vehicles made contact, that his vehicle struck the other party’s vehicle. Months and months went by until finally a writ was served on him -- in the small claims court, of all places -- seeking a claim of $674.57. Well, young Mike Dayboll, not knowing a whole lot about that stuff but knowing a little bit about it, because he was in the law and security program at Niagara College and he probably talked to some of the legal assistance students, the same ones who were up here the other day touring Queen’s Park, took that small claims court writ or claim to his insurance company, Pilot Insurance; Pilot Insurance, lest we forget.
Pilot Insurance was told, without any confusion, by young Dayboll, “I don’t know where these people are at but, believe me, I didn’t cause any damage to their vehicle.” That is what they were claiming for, not personal injury but some tail light lenses and stuff like that. He said: “Don’t pay it out. I am telling you, this is a false claim. It has to be fought.”
Well, Pilot paid it out, perhaps understandably so. A $674 claim is going to cost at least that much to defend, even successfully and even in small claims court where, if I understand it, and I am not certain of this, the maximum cost payable is around $50. So Pilot did what was economically sound from its point of view. But they also persist in saying that they did not believe their young insured, Mike Dayboll, and that he must have caused the damage, “Why else would the people have sued?”
So they paid out the $674 and then they jacked up his rates by around $1,100. Dayboll said, “Wait a minute, what gives here?” Young Mike Dayboll from Fenwick said: “What gives? How come you are jacking up my rates by $1,100?” They said, “Well, you’ve been in an accident and that demonstrates that you are a higher-risk driver.”
Do members know what? The promoters of Bill 68 would have us believe that this indeed is a sound and rational approach for insurers to take and that accident frequency is an illustration of higher risk, so those people should pay more. Except here is the kicker, here is the sweet part of this story: Pilot also told him, “Look, you pay us back the $674 and we’ll drop your rate back down to what it was before.” Well, they can’t have their cake and eat it too. What are they talking about? An accident is illustrative of higher risk or it is not. Pilot Insurance is not using accidents as a basis upon which to evaluate risk, it is using accidents as a basis upon which to jack up premiums.
What it is doing, obviously, is getting out of the insurance business. Bill 68 virtually removes risk from what is supposed to be a risk-pool industry. What bill 68 does is ensure that the insurance companies will make profits and ensure that there is no insurance.
So you have a kid like Mike Dayboll, who has been lied to. He is told that, “The fact that you had an accident is why we feel justified in jacking up your rate, but if you pay us back what we paid out, we’ll ignore the fact that you’ve had an accident.” What? All of a sudden, if he greases, if he pieces off his insurance company, he is deemed -- maybe insurance companies are into deeming too -- he is deemed not to have had an accident.
That is the story the way Pilot tells it, and that is the very sort of thing that we want to ask the minister about and whether this legislation deals with that, because Lord knows we were there asking during the committee hearings, but the minister was not there to provide the answers. We waited; we listened; we did not hear from him. We waited and thought, “Maybe he’s coming, maybe he’s just a little bit late.” It was morning after morning. I began to worry, “What if the minister was in a car accident on the way here and that’s why he’s -- ” I began to worry about him. There was no car accident. “Maybe he’s sick.” He was not sick. He chose not to come to the committee.
So that is the sort of thing about which it is imperative that we have a serious period of time in which to conduct committee of the whole clause-by-clause discussion and debate. That is why this time allocation motion has to be defeated.
Another one that has come up and that we would dearly love to ask the minister about -- and I tell you this much, Mr Speaker, I am insisting there can be no other real reason for this time allocation motion other than the minister’s desire to avoid this sort of questioning -- he knows Mike Dayboll is getting shafted by Pilot Insurance and what has he got to say?
Another thing we would like to ask him about is Scottish and York Insurance and Victoria insurance. He knows about that, but in the context of a discussion of Bill 68, it would have been a highly appropriate question to have asked at committee and we were prepared and eager to ask it.
The parliamentary assistant did not know about that. He did not know the answer to that. Come on now. The parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, is a heck of a nice guy, but he is not the minister. Scottish and York and Victoria: Remember the insurance flip, the insurance shuffle? That was the one where the letter reads:
“We regret to advise that Scottish and York has discontinued writing personal lines auto insurance in the province. To ensure that your insurance is continued without interruption, we have taken the liberty of replacing your policy with Victoria Insurance. Their coverages, limits and deductibles remain unchanged, although the premium has increased.”
Well, it sure did. You talk about premiums that are not quite but darned near doubled, and you are talking about insurance companies that, I will be darned: shared head offices, shared secretaries, shared presidents. I mean, you are talking about one and the same company -- siblings, if you will; the Cain and Abel of the insurance industry. And you are talking a bill here, Bill 68, that is not going to contain that type of dishonest conduct, that type of gouging of drivers, that is not going to -- well, the leopard is not going to change its spots. The insurance industry is no more trustworthy now than it was a year ago, than it will be if Bill 68 is permitted to pass.
The Minister of Financial Institutions did not avoid each and every one of the general government committee hearings. He was at the first one, and that is where he took his shots at PRIDE. He fired his opening salvo at John Bates, the president of PRIDE.
Mr Bates is just about the finest person I have ever met. He has dedicated himself to helping the families of victims of drunk drivers survive what must be just horrendous times in their lives and he has dedicated himself to trying to develop a legislative framework in which drunk drivers will be forced off the road, in which drivers of all types will be safer drivers, more competent drivers, more capable drivers.
PRIDE has a membership that is probably well into the thousands of people, people from across Ontario, people who have been victims of drunk drivers, of other types of bad driving, but as well people who simply care enough to become involved.
The concerns of people like John Bates and PRIDE have to be addressed, and the only way we can do that, the only place we can do that, is in committee of the whole, when the minister is here to answer questions about the issues that John Bates and PRIDE raise, because PRIDE’s concerns with Bill 68 -- People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere -- are valid and legitimate concerns.
Just to illustrate for you what we mean when we say meaningful committee of the whole discussion, what we mean when we say that this time allocation motion has to be defeated, let me illustrate some of the things, let me tell you some of the things that would be put to the minister if there were adequate committee of the whole discussion.
One of the sets of things that would be put to the minister for response would be the concerns that PRIDE has with Bill 68, with this new auto insurance scheme, the one that the Liberals, mind you, call no-fault. If you want to talk about, again, the dishonesty that has permeated the whole movement to get this legislation in place, this is not no-fault legislation. That is absurd. That is just down right stupid to call it no-fault legislation. It is threshold legislation, it is a threshold insurance scheme. Come on -- no-fault, my foot. It is a threshold scheme and that is the long and short of it.
But the sort of things that PRIDE would want, opposition members -- because PRIDE recognizes that it does not have very many voices over on the government benches. People over there have not been raising the concerns that PRIDE has had with Bill 68, with this auto insurance scheme, with threshold insurance.
What would PRIDE want to talk about? PRIDE would say that they have some concerns. John Bates would want opposition members to question the minister about the problem that they have with the right to sue, the right to claim compensation from those who have injured people. He would say that it is a very basic right which should be not tampered with lightly.
They would say that Bill 68 discriminates against victims of automobile crashes. Those victims of crashes in boats, snowmobiles or other vehicles retain the right to claim compensation through the courts, but victims of automobile crashes lose that right. That right is being taken away from them by the government of Ontario in Bill 68.
That is why it is so important that there not be time allocation with respect to the insurance scheme proposed by the Liberals, because Bill 68, this new insurance scheme that the insurance industry wrote and that the insurance industry wants, is going to take away people’s right to obtain access to the courtroom.
John Bates from PRIDE is concerned about that. We are concerned about that too. It is pretty scary stuff, and it surely warrants discussion lengthier than two two-and-a-half-hour afternoon sessions. You better believe it, Mr Speaker.
Another thing that John Bates and PRIDE would have concern about -- this is something about which the minister has to be answerable, and he has to be prepared to address this before people could even consider voting on Bill 68 in third reading -- Bill 68, the insurance industry’s legislation, the insurance industry’s auto insurance scheme that is going to make record profits for it, states that convicted impaired drivers will not receive compensation, but at the same time it states that persons involved in any crash must start to receive compensation within 10 days -- here is the catch -- including the impaired or irresponsible driver who caused the crash in the first place.
The government wants to play games with the people of Ontario. The government knows full well that people in Ontario will not tolerate coddling of drunk drivers, so the government says, “Well, we’re not going to compensate drunk drivers.” But then the government had to acknowledge that it is only after they are convicted that it can deny them compensation. What that means is, the drunk driver who smashes a kid to the ground but who then bangs his or her own head against the steering wheel of his car --
We know the state that the courts are in in this province. Courtrooms are being shut down by the Ministry of Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, courtrooms like those in Niagara Falls, and thousands and thousands of cases have to be delayed or adjourned further. We know that there is not a drunk driver in Ontario who cannot buy himself six months or a year, or even 18 months or two years, before a court date is finally set for a trial.
John Bates and PRIDE would want to question the government in the course of committee of the whole hearings about how is it that the government says that drunk drivers will not be compensated, but we know that drunk drivers will be compensated and we know that in some instances the drunk driver will get more compensation than his or her victim. The drunk driver, under Bill 68, will be compensated where the victim will not.
That is a shabby approach, and that is the sort of thing that has to be raised with the minister in committee of the whole. The specific clauses in the amendments which give rise to this concern have to be addressed. It has to be explained to the Legislature and to the public how the concerns of John Bates and PRIDE are going to be met.
John Bates and PRIDE would have this to be asked of the minister during the course of committee of the whole, because PRIDE recognizes that this so-called threshold appears to be designed to deliberately limit compensation paid to innocent victims. The threshold introduces an unacceptable air of uncertainty about who will and who will not be able to sue. They ask this most valid question, which the minister clearly wants to avoid. That is why he has this time allocation motion before the Legislature. The question to be asked is this: How, for example, in the very early stages of a victim’s recovery, can anyone determine if an injury is permanent or not, exactly?
It is a question that has to be asked, that cries out, that begs to be asked, but the minister does not want to answer it. He did not want to answer it during committee hearings. He simply disappeared. He took a hike. He took a walk.
Committee of the whole in the Legislature is an accepted traditional course or state in the course of a bill from beginning to end, but the minister wants to make sure that is restricted to such a pitifully short period of time that it becomes meaningless.
John Bates and PRIDE would also ask this and would want to have it asked of the minister and of the government during committee of the whole. John Bates and PRIDE know that -- this is what this legislation does. Listen to this, Mr Speaker. You will be alarmed at this particular aspect of Bill 68: “The exclusion of pain and suffering as being legitimately compensable is harsh and thoughtless. The fact that a mother cannot receive compensation or a person whose life has been shattered cannot get compensation for that is unconscionable.” That is what is going to happen.
Sadly, I suspect there are still a few Liberal backbenchers who do not know these things about Bill 68, and that is why it becomes all the more important to have thorough and complete committee of the whole hearings. There are any number of things that any number of people could do, but the people of Ontario insist on this modest level of disclosure and this modest level of discussion that we are calling for by way of seeking the defeat of this motion.
Let me tell you something else, Mr Speaker. Again, I know you have been horrified by what I have had to say about the impact of Bill 68 on so many people’s lives, and I know you are concerned about it. I know you have to take an impartial role in this whole process. Notwithstanding your shock and horror about this legislation, your job here is to make things flow as smoothly as they can. I can understand why you, as the Speaker, must have to resist the temptation time and time again to jump up and tell your colleagues sitting here in the Legislature that this is bad legislation, that it has to be defeated and that to impose time allocation is unparliamentary and undemocratic. I understand how that temptation could come to you, and I respect you for your professionalism, your talent and your skill as a Speaker in resisting it. It is important, of course, that the Speaker remain impartial. It must be difficult when such unconscionably bad legislation is before the House, and it is for that reason that I do not envy you in your chair.
At the same time as you have been muted by accepting the role of Speaker, the government, if it had its way, would mute all of us as opposition members, because the government knows and the insurance industry knows that we are not afraid to speak out against the insurance industry. Quite frankly, the insurance industry does not scare us. Why it scares so many government members is beyond my understanding right now. I would love to have the opportunity to talk to some of them about why they are being cowed, why they are being bullied by this. It is a big, powerful, wealthy industry, I know. Are people really throwing a fight for the few hundred bucks they are going to get at election time by way of donations? Are they really biting the canvas, motivated by that desire for a few hundred bucks in campaign contributions? That is pathetic.
John Bates and PRIDE would have their concerns addressed if we were permitted, if we were being allowed to have committee of the whole, which the rules provide for but which an arrogant majority would seek to deny us. PRIDE says this, “Students, housewives, retired people and others who have no earned income may have to pay greatly increased premium rates, not due to their driving record, but because insurance companies may consider them to be more expensive risks, as they have no income protection plan.” We know where that comes from -- it comes from a careful reading of the legislation, which John Bates and the people at PRIDE have done.
It also comes from people like Don McKay. Remember, in his third quarterly newsletter for the Facility Association in 1989, Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, had this to say about Bill 68. He said that if Bill 68 is passed, more and more people, good drivers, innocent people, are going to be forced into Facility Association and into paying the premiums that are in the $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $6,000 range.
Who are these people going to be? Who are the people going to be that this government, that the Peterson Liberals are forcing into Facility Association? Who is it going to be that the Peterson government is forcing to pay premiums of thousands and thousands of dollars? Senior citizens, retired people who have worked hard all of their lives and expect only the opportunity to live modestly on what is for most of them a modest income.
These are the sort of people who are being talked about by John Bates of PRIDE and by Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, as being people that the Liberals in Ontario are going to force into Facility Association. Senior citizens, students, unemployed people, housewives, farm workers and farmers, small business people are the people who are going to be forced into Facility because of this insurance legislation, not because they are bad drivers, but because of who they are.
Don McKay said that, and he was right. Mr Justice Osborne said that also, a judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario. He told the government and told the people in Ontario that this bill, this legislation, this insurance company legislation that creates threshold insurance designed to create windfall profits of $1 billion in the first year alone for the auto insurance industry is going to force senior citizens, old people, grandparents -- grandmothers and grandfathers are going to be forced into Facility Association, not because they are bad drivers, and Lord knows not because they can afford the premiums that are going to be in the thousands and thousands of dollars a year, but because this government does not give a tinker’s damn.
This government is so beholden to the auto insurance industry that it will sell out seniors, it will sell out the unemployed, it will sell out farm workers, it will sell out students, it will sell out small business people, it will sell out house spouses, all of whom are going to be forced into Facility Association as a result of Bill 68.
John Bates of PRIDE knows it; Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, knows it; Mr Justice Osborne of the Supreme Court of Ontario knows it. We want a chance to ask the minister about it. We want a chance to say to the minister, “What’s going on here?”
John Bates of PRIDE asked the question, “Under no-fault, who will stand up for the victim?” Certainly not the insurance adjuster. The lawyer is a vital part of the recovery process. Again, you are talking about people who have undergone the tragedy of having family members dismembered by drunk drivers and killed, murdered on our highways by drunk drivers.
This is who the people from PRIDE speak for. They understand that victims need somebody to stand up for them. They understand that insurance adjusters do not stand up for the victims. The insurance adjusters are there to protect the interests of the insurance companies and to make sure they are as profitable as they can possibly be.
John Bates and PRIDE know that the plan, this auto insurance scheme, this threshold insurance system, that is being dumped by the American jurisdictions from which it was imported, is being introduced with the argument, with the explanation -- again more myths, more dishonesty. This government has actually told people in Ontario, the Liberals in Ontario have actually told drivers and taxpayers that this new threshold scheme is going to be a method of controlling insurance premiums.
It will control them all right; it will make sure they are as high as they have ever been. It will control them all right; it will make sure that for many drivers in Ontario they go up by as much as 50 per cent. It will control them all right, because it will make sure that hundreds and indeed thousands of good drivers, senior citizens, students, workers, farmers, small business people, are forced into the ultra-expensive Facility Association.
John Bates and PRIDE understand that if you really want to do something meaningful about insurance rates, you control the crash rate. Those are the types of concerns that a very valid organization, an organization that provides leadership here in the province, has. The personalities just cannot be duplicated. Here are these wonderful people with integrity providing a valuable service and trying to provide leadership, trying to provide assistance to this government about what it means to really address the concerns about carnage on the highways.
That is where the sad hoax about the Ontario motorist protection plan warrants even more question and examination and analysis and debate. That can only take place now in committee of the whole and then in the course of third reading. To restrict, to hamper the committee of the whole by making sure that it does not last any longer than two afternoons is absurd. It goes well beyond anybody’s sense of fairness and it descends into what we have called, rightly so, “jackbootism” and a real disdain for democracy and a real disdain for people in Ontario.
We are talking about a Liberal Party, a Liberal government that is ready to toss democracy out the window and that is ready to reject and abandon long-time traditions, long-time procedures, procedures that are time-honoured and valid, because they are procedures that make a democratic parliamentary process work. Yet this government, the Liberals in Ontario, are ready to dump that. They are ready to abuse the majority that they have; they are ready to engage in an act so arrogant and so supercilious as to be obscene.
Just at the beginning of this past week this Liberal government announced relaxed guidelines for advertising by liquor manufacturers. We know what the purpose of advertising by those actors is. It is to encourage more people to drink, to drink younger and to drink more often.
So on the one hand we have a government that tries to perpetrate as big a hoax as has ever been made on people in this province by saying it has got an Ontario motorist protection plan, yet at the same time -- again, people over here on this side of the House, in the opposition, do not get donations from liquor companies. We do not have personal buddies on the boards of directors of liquor manufacturers and beer manufacturers. I dare say that --
Mr Kormos: We are going to deal with that in just a minute. Along with all my colleagues, I get campaign contributions from trade unionists, you bet your boots I do, and I am proud of it. At the same time, we do not take money from liquor companies. Just as the insurance companies are not particularly inclined to offer it to us, liquor companies are not either, because they know that we are not going to be their puppets; we are not going to do their bidding here at Queen’s Park.
The most disgusting bit of puppetry took place when the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario announced its new, relaxed guidelines for liquor manufacturers. How in the name of goodness could that ever have been tolerated? Guidelines that were finally implemented in 1980 that controlled in a very modest way liquor and beer manufacturers from peddling their particular drug in public and in magazines and on television, were relaxed and expanded.
The liquor industry has but one goal in mind, to make more drinkers, to make younger drinkers and to make those increased numbers of younger drinkers drink more than they ever did before. That has to be discussed with the Minister of Financial Institutions during the course of committee of the whole. That is why we need as much time as is possible for a thorough clause-by-clause evaluation of this bill, a discussion of the bill in total and how each of those clauses, as amendments to the Insurance Act, are going to make for lower premiums -- they are not -- are going to make for better compensation -- they are not -- and are going to make for less carnage on the highways -- no way.
John Bates, in People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, had some concerns about the liquor advertising guidelines as they existed before this Liberal government decided to liberalize those same guidelines. John Bates, in PRIDE, would very validly raise concerns about the fact that advertising is permitted that generates a conceptual link between drinking and driving. Phrases, as he has documented them, such as, “When it comes to racing, Ex says it all,” do exactly that. John Bates would tell members that the tougher guidelines as they existed in 1980 were not even sufficient to adequately control the liquor and beer industry, because indeed these permitted lines such as, “When it comes to racing, Ex says it all.”
What has this government done? Have they toughened the guidelines? Have they restricted them? Have they made sure the liquor companies have a little bit more difficult time peddling their particular abusive substance to kids and to young adults? No. This government says: “No, no, snare more people. Sell more booze to younger people and make them drink more of it.” That is what this government is all about, and it proved it when it introduced its new, relaxed advertising guidelines for liquor and beer manufacturers.
But friends are friends and buddies are buddies, and you got to pay back. The problem with taking donations from these type of folk is that at some point the marker is called in. At some point you have to pay back. He who pays the piper calls the tune. This government is being paid, and its tune is also being called, by some of the most insidious and distasteful elements of our corporate society like the auto insurance industry, like the beer and liquor manufacturers of Ontario.
Even the old guidelines said that beer companies are not supposed to advertise to the young. Yet who were some of the biggest promoters and sponsors of rock concerts and programs that are designed specifically for young people? Those very same beer companies. It is absurd and this government does not do anything to help control it. This government makes it easier for the liquor manufacturers to peddle their drug.
Those are the sorts of issues that have to be addressed. For the last few moments I have talked about the concerns of PRIDE. This government has not really even taken alcohol abuse as seriously as it ought to. PRIDE would call upon this government to issue a strong policy statement on alcohol abuse paralleling, or in the same category as the position it takes on substance abuse. This government is not prepared to even discuss the recommendation of PRIDE that licences for drivers who register over 0.08 blood alcohol content be revoked on the spot.
This government does not want to sit in committee of the whole and hear constructive comments provided by good people like PRIDE, People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere. This government wants to hide from the public and wants to hide from the opposition, and that is what this time allocation motion is all about, hiding from the opposition.
This government is not about to talk about another one of PRIDE’s concerns and recommendations, and that would be that it initiate permanent licence suspensions for repeat impaired drivers. It would be that there be consideration of zero tolerance, zero blood alcohol content or something much lower than 0.08. I tell members that there are jurisdictions that not only have experimented with that but have implemented it, to great success. We are talking about real ways, then, of reducing the crash rate, of reducing the injury rate, of reducing the death rate. We are not talking about a hoax whose only goal is to create unheard-of and obscene profits for an auto insurance industry, part of an industry that is already doing quite well, that is already making profits that are a record high for the last eight years, thank you very much.
This government is not prepared to sit through committee of the whole to hear those criticisms of Bill 68 and to discuss and reveal how Bill 68 does not respond to them, does not address those issues. I mean, all Murray -- I am sorry; I almost called the Minister of Financial Institutions “Murray Elston,” but then I realized that would be improper and the Deputy Speaker would undoubtedly take me to task.
Mr Kormos: Wait a minute. There is somebody over there flapping his gums and I did not hear him. I am looking forward to his contribution to this debate. We all are, because it will be good for a laugh. There is a clown in the Liberal ranks who is missing everything but his little red nose and his floppy shoes.
Mr Kormos: I should respond to the point of order. The member’s point of order contained, among other things, his admission that he has been listening carefully. I expect then that he will be voting against the time allocation motion, because if he has listened carefully he will understand that there is really no other way to go. That is number one. Number two, he has admitted that he has heard everything I have had to say. Some of us in this Legislature may be sceptical about that. I have a couple of questions I could ask him whereby he could demonstrate that he indeed was listening.
Obviously the Deputy Speaker would rather that I talk about the time allocation motion, that I talk about this complete denial of the principles contained in Beauchesne, a complete rejection of the principles enunciated on page 3 of the sixth edition of Beauchesne’s Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada with Annotations, Comments and Precedents, published by the Carswell Co. 1989. In the very first chapter -- I suppose it is just as well for the government members, because many of them do not have long attention spans. I understand how it is difficult for them to get to the second page of a written text, but we are going to talk about the principles.
Mr Kormos: I am being called upon by government members to read the whole book. Over the course of the next two or three weeks, while we are debating this time allocation motion, I will tell members this, I may not read the whole book but I will get darn close to the end.
We are on Beauchesne and we are talking about some fundamental principles of Canadian parliamentary law, so fundamental they should be in all our vocabularies, should be in all our lexicons, if you will. The principles of Canadian parliamentary law are -- I bring these to the members’ attention so that the guidance that is necessary for people to vote properly on this time allocation motion can be provided by the Chair, “To protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority.”
Listen, do we have to go any farther? There is a minority. There is the tyranny of a majority. There are people across Ontario -- do members know what is problematic and what calls out for full debate? The fact that we have been able to come up with name after name after name of organizations that oppose this bill, the fact that in one day alone some 15,000 petitions were presented to this Legislature opposing this bill.
I keep hearing the names of Gore Mutual types tossed wound as being in support of it. Of course they support it. They are the auto insurance industry. They have every good reason to support it. It is their payday. It ain’t a payday for the drivers of Ontario; it is a big expensive day for the drivers of Ontario. Of course the insurance industry supports it.
I would be kind of interested in knowing during the course of this discussion exactly who it is in Ontario, besides the insurance companies, that supports Bill 68. I know there are a few Liberal members who feel obliged, because they know their tails are on the line. I am going to follow through on that.
As it is, considering that it is just seconds past six of the clock, Mr Speaker, seeing as how decorum and tradition are so important in this Legislature, I would please move adjournment of this debate.