Mr Laughren: Today, all across Canada, seniors, students, farmers and trade unionists are saying no to the goods and services tax and yes to fair taxes. Today, ordinary people are making their voices heard. Ballots will be available to people in their workplaces to vote no to the GST.
The proposed goods and services tax is an attack on working people. This tax is not about decreasing the deficit, this tax is about shifting most of the cost of running our society from the wealthy to poor and middle-income Canadians. The GST is regressive. Low- and middle-income families will end up paying a much higher percentage of their income on the GST than the wealthy. In Ontario, the GST comes on the heels of this Liberal government’s increase in the retail sales tax from seven to eight per cent, increasing the unfair tax burden on working people even more.
Most Canadians do not mind paying their fair share of taxes, but there is a growing feeling that the tax system is unfair. The tax burden is being shifted away from big business and the wealthy and on to the backs of middle-income and low-income Canadians.
There is a solution: impose a minimum tax so that profitable corporations have to pay their fair share; base income tax on ability to pay by returning to a more progressive rate structure so that the wealthy pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than do poor people; and join most other industrialized countries by having a tax on net wealth as well.
Mr Villeneuve: This week marks Canada Soil Conservation Week. The fact that this is only the sixth year in which we are recognizing soil conservation demonstrates how recently we have seen a need to address this most important issue.
In fact, I should point out that Ontario’s first major soil conservation program began in 1983 and has continued, with changes, to this year. After seven years of experience, I think we can safely say that soil conservation requires a long-term commitment, not a Band-Aid solution. We cannot address soil conservation concerns with three- or four-year programs. We need programs that will be in place for 10, 15 years and be ongoing. Both the land stewardship program and the Ontario soil conservation and environmental protection assistance II program have not ended, they are simply insufficiently funded.
Soil and nutrient loss costs Ontario agriculture some $100 million each and every year. and that does not include the pollution that this creates. This government should get serious and do something about it. I urge the minister to act this week. This is Soil Conservation Week. Let’s do something positive, because a lot of negative has been coming from this ministry in the last six months.
Mr Tatham: The man says it is an exclusive 75-25 blend, wool-to-polyester worsted. It does not wrinkle. You can take a pant leg and tie it in a knot. Untie it and the fabric is crisp and new. It takes dyes well. It is recommended for business people who fly -- no more wrinkled and mussed up suits. Go to your meeting looking crisp and fresh, or better still, why not arrange your meeting in one of our club cars -- one special compartment where meetings with up to eight people can be held, or smaller meetings for four people in a compartmentalized salon.
Like to use the telephone? Certainly. We have a bar, restaurant car with shop for the family, family room and nurseries. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, comfort superb. The pneumatic suspension gives you a great ride.
Mr Philip: Last week the Minister of Colleges and Universities stated in this House that, “At a time when technology increasingly affects our day-to-day lives, it is vital that we enhance technological studies throughout the province’s education and training systems.”
It is difficult for the faculty and students at Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology to take seriously the statements of the minister when they are faced with teacher layoffs and the reduction of class hours, particularly in the technology disciplines areas.
Article 9 of the collective bargaining agreement states that when a college plans to reduce the number of full-time employees by five per cent or 20 employees, whichever is less, because of extraordinary financial exigencies, the college must provide the budgetary data used in reaching its tentative decision. The staff then is provided with 30 days in which to propose alternatives. To date, Humber College’s board of governors and administration have refused to involve themselves in that consultative process.
In 1985, the Instructional Assignment Review Committee appointed by the government stated that unilateral reduction of courses and programs was one of the leading causes of dissatisfaction and cynicism among faculty members.
I urge the minister to use his influence on the board to take advantage of the offers by students and faculty to assist in solving this educational crisis. The quality of education at Humber College is at stake.
Mr Sterling: Local Government Week in Ontario gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the significant contribution to our communities and province made by the men and women who serve in the front lines of public and political life. We owe them a special vote of thanks this year because, in addition to the usual challenges, they have had to contend with a provincial government determined to make their jobs as difficult and thankless as possible.
The only thing this administration has done for the people who serve on and work for local councils in Ontario is to expand the vocabulary by two words, “offload” and “download.” Today, thanks to the Peterson team, there is not a single member of a local government in Ontario who does not know the meaning of these two words.
They know they mean local taxes to pay for provincial programs and policies. They know they mean more political headaches dealing with issues the provincial government avoided and making decisions the province lacked the courage to make. They know these words mean that while the provincial Liberals boast about pay-as-you-go, they want local councils to go deeper in debt to achieve provincial objectives. They know it means that this government’s motto is, “The buck stops somewhere else,” and that somewhere else is more often than not the local council chamber and the local taxpayer.
I hope this Liberal government will use this occasion to reflect on the fact that local government is a partner, not its serf; that buck-passing is not a policy but a copout; and that people who serve in local government deserve more than this.
Mr Keyes: On 9 March of this year, Dupont Canada, which has a major plant in the Kingston area, in an act of exceptional generosity, donated 22 acres of wetlands with an estimated market value of slightly in excess of $1 million. They donated this to the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority.
This action clearly reinforces Dupont’s image as a responsible and environmentally conscious corporate citizen. This presentation of land is unprecedented in the conservation authority’s history and is undoubtedly deserving of praise from all citizens of Ontario in general and from Kingstonians in particular.
In the words of Steve Quinn, the site manager: “Dupont is committed to corporate environmentalism as a fundamental value and is determined to bring our environmental stewardship in line with public desires and expectations. Dupont is committed to seeking opportunities to enhance our wildlife habitats.”
It is indeed my pleasure to recognize and heartily commend Dupont’s generosity in the donation of this land in light of the great importance and emphasis currently being placed on the protection and preservation of parks and conservation areas. I would encourage all corporations in Ontario to take note of this special event, in the hope that they too will seriously consider the great importance of bestowing land for the betterment and use of all citizens for generations to come.
The nub of their problem is the failure of the Liberal government to live up to either its day care or its pay equity promises. The Liberals promised day care as a public service, but every move by the government since the 1987 election has been a step in the other direction. They said in 1986 that pay equity would have to include day care workers, but now their day care spokesperson, the Attorney General, says child care is too damned expensive and suggests day care workers should look elsewhere for ways to cover their higher wages.
Workers in non-profit day care centres make about $18,000 per year. Metro garbage collectors make $10,000 more. Agricultural workers make $14,000 more. Some municipalities which have male comparisons have lifted their day care workers to about $24,000, but the non-profits are stuck with no comparisons and the Liberals refuse to make a cross-professional comparison to give the non-profits the same as the municipals.
The Liberals and their corporate friends want women in the workforce but are not prepared to pay for the family supports necessary. McMurrich Sprouts brought free cookies for MPPs this morning, but you cannot run a day care system on bake sales.
Recently, I had the opportunity of meeting with Mr and Mrs John Bell of Guelph, representatives of the Canadian Diabetes Association, Ontario Division. At that meeting, Mr and Mrs Bell pointed out a grave inequity in the present system, which covers the cost of insulin for seniors under the drug benefit plan but does not cover the cost of syringes. Because of this, many diabetic seniors find it necessary to reuse their syringes for multiple injections, thereby risking infection and subjecting themselves to unnecessary pain. If syringes were made available free of charge to senior diabetics, as they are to other unfortunate groups in our society, this problem would be largely eliminated.
I understand that the Minister of Health is reviewing this matter at this time. I hope that all members of this assembly will be supportive of this initiative and indicate that support to the minister.
Mr Faubert: This government’s $5-billion commitment to improved rapid transport in the greater Toronto area, as announced last week, is a real boost to the transit users in Metro and the city of Scarborough. To meet the needs of its people and to sustain its economic expansion, improved transportation links are essential. I believe the plan to extend the light rail transit, increase GO rail service, build the Sheppard subway and upgrade Highway 401 is a giant step towards meeting our city’s transportation needs.
It seems the third party has also given this issue some attention. Reading through a recent edition of the Scarborough Mirror, I came across a very interesting article. According to the report, the Conservatives have come up with their own unique, albeit low-tech, solution to the transportation problem. Their conclusions at an all-day forum in Scarborough were: “Bicycles may be the answer to the alarming increase in automobile congestion in Toronto.”
I can see it now, the honourable member for Markham, and the chairman of this task force, getting up at the crack of dawn and mounting his trusty two-wheeler. Perhaps the honourable member has forgotten it is all uphill on the return trip to Markham.
In contrast, local municipal leaders have lauded the government’s announcement as the most profoundly significant transportation initiative of this century. Putting capital into improving roads and rapid transit will be money well spent. Preparing Ontario for future economic and population growth must be addressed now. I, along with the constituents of Scarborough-Ellesmere, commend this government’s commitment to make getting around the Metro area more efficient and more effective.
Mr Eves: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I rise to seek your advice on what I consider to be a very serious point of order arising from the Supreme Court decision of last Thursday with respect to the Houlden inquiry and certain comments from the Attorney General reported in Thursday’s Hansard.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Houlden inquiry could not proceed because of certain very specific wording of the terms of reference. However, under questioning in the House last Thursday, the chief law officer of the crown, the Attorney General, issued some very serious warnings to members of this House.
“I think the honourable member overlooks the impact of this decision, which has implications not only for this inquiry but for other royal commissions going on and very likely for legislative committees of the Legislative Assembly.”
The Attorney General, as the chief law officer of the province, is making a very serious statement. If he is in some way suggesting that the Legislative Assembly and the committees of this Legislature will be restricted in their work as a result of the Supreme Court decision, we should know what those restrictions are.
As our parliamentary institutions have evolved over the past 500 or more years, it is recognized that the rights and privileges of Parliament are unique and very special. Certainly we, as parliamentarians, should not do anything to abuse or erode those privileges in any way.
However, as parliamentarians, we should also be vigilant in protecting those rights and privileges. We are the elected representatives of the people of Ontario. As a Parliament, we have the right to call witnesses to committees and to call individuals before the bar of the House. Parliament as a whole has the right to refer matters to standing committees and under our standing orders the opposition parties have the right to refer matters to committees.
We also have the right to establish select committees to investigate certain matters. In my brief reading since last Thursday, I have been unable to find any rulings or guidelines which would restrict the terms of reference we could establish for such committees. I have been unable to find any restrictions on what witnesses we may call or what questions we may pose to witnesses.
Indeed, in my reading since last Thursday’s statement by the Attorney General, I have found many references to the supremacy of Parliament and the extensive powers of Parliament to call witnesses and conduct investigations. These powers have evolved over hundreds of years, Mr Speaker. I am sure you are as aware as I, and perhaps more so, of the history and the role of the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms in protecting and enforcing these powers.
1. With the assistance of the table, seek the legal advice of three independent constitutional experts on the impact of last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision on the powers of the Legislative Assembly and of committees of this Legislature.
As you can imagine, Mr Speaker, these questions are of importance not only to myself but to all members of the Legislative Assembly, and I would hope that you would conduct the necessary research and make the appropriate report back to this assembly as soon as possible.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. When he established the Houlden inquiry last June, the Premier stated that the reason for establishing the inquiry was because it was necessary to restore public trust and public confidence in the conduct of public officials. Given that that was the purpose of the Houlden inquiry and that the Premier presumably decided that a police investigation was not sufficient and was not enough to satisfy that test, I want to ask the Premier now why his government is rejecting out of hand the creation of an inquiry that would have the broad responsibility for re-establishing public trust and for looking into and detailing the relationship between the development industry and the Liberal Party of Ontario.
Hon Mr Peterson: I say to my honourable friend that he is quite right. In the established inquiry, as I said then and I say to my honourable friend now, there are no secrets. If mistakes are made, they should be there for all to see and restitution should be made. There is no question about that. We established the commission, and that was the basis upon which we established that.
Obviously, the member and I ultimately have to take our direction from the Supreme Court of Canada on these matters. It went to the Divisional Court, it went to the Ontario Court of Appeal and it was upheld. The Supreme Court of Canada has created new law on this particular matter. At the end of the day, we are obliged to take direction from the highest court in the land.
Mr B. Rae: Is the Premier arguing in front of this House that the Supreme Court has basically said that it is not possible for the Liberal Party, the Liberal government of Ontario, to establish a public inquiry detailing and outlining the links between his party and the development industry in this province? Is that what the Premier is saying the Supreme Court of Canada is saying?
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not pretend to be an expert on this matter, but what I understand the Supreme Court to say is that you cannot carry on a criminal investigation at the same time that you have an inquiry that has compellable witnesses in bearing on the very same subject. It was an issue, I guess, in their minds of the civil liberties of the particular people who are under question.
Mr B. Rae: If I may say so, the Premier is simply indicating that he has not understood what has happened. But I want to go back to the fundamental politics of this situation. The Premier established a public inquiry the day after Gordon Ashworth was found to have received a refrigerator without having paid the bill for it. The day after, the Premier said he felt he had been kicked in the head, and the next day, he announced the Houlden inquiry. That may explain the terms of reference for the Houlden inquiry, I do not know.
The Supreme Court of Canada has simply said that the terms of reference are so restricted and named the individuals involved in such a way that that is not the way to do it. Does the Premier not realize that the Supreme Court has also said very clearly that the province has the right to establish commissions of inquiry in areas of its own jurisdiction? Why does he not do that, unless of course he has something to hide?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the honourable Leader of the Opposition revealed his view in the preamble to his question when he said, “Let’s talk about the politics of the situation.” Obviously he thinks he has a political interest in this thing one way or the other. But I think what we have to do is look at the legal side and look at the legal judgement. As I understand what it said, it was that you cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly. In fact that is the law, not his interpretation of it which, as he said at the beginning of his question, was politically motivated.
Mr B. Rae: We also know, for example, that within the Ministry of Municipal Affairs there was a serious proposal for a public inquiry into the relationship between the planning process and developers, and that in York region. We know that that particular inquiry was nixed after a discussion between Mr Ashworth and other individuals in the cabinet.
We now know that the door was slammed shut back in 1989 with respect to that inquiry. We know that the Premier, having heard the news about Mr Ashworth, then turned around and said: “Quickly, let’s get a public inquiry but let’s restrict it specifically to Tridel, to Mrs Starr and to Mr Ashworth. Let’s not have a broader inquiry. Let’s have a very narrowly defined one.” That was the Premier’s decision. Not ours, the Premier’s.
The Supreme Court has said the Premier was wrong to do that. He made a mistake in so fashioning the terms of reference of that inquiry. I want to go back and ask the Premier what is stopping him now from establishing a commission of inquiry that would re-establish confidence in the planning process, re-establish confidence in the integrity of the political process and finally establish once and for all that there may be some laws and rules around here that need to change.
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the member has asked me what is the change, and the answer is the Supreme Court ruling in this entire matter. The member opposite has a different interpretation of this than many other respected jurists in this particular matter. He has his own view of the law of the land; they have their view of the law of the land. The Supreme Court is even supreme to the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr B. Rae: I want to ask the Premier again what it is specifically in the Supreme Court judgement that prevents him from establishing an inquiry that will do what he said needed to be done. Public officials must be open to public scrutiny and, in being so, must be found to be beyond reproach and acting in accordance with the highest ethical standards. Is the Premier standing on his feet today and saying he cannot do that because the Supreme Court of Canada will not let him do that?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am saying exactly what I have said. I am interpreting, with assistance, the advice of the Supreme Court of Canada, which said you cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly. That is very, very clear.
Hon Mr Peterson: I can say that my honourable friend opposite is not taking the advice of the Supreme Court of Canada. He is following his own political dictates and instincts, which he has every right to do. He is entitled to his interpretation, but that is not the best legal judgement in the country.
Mr B. Rae: The question again to the Premier is this: The Supreme Court of Canada says very specifically that the province has the responsibility for establishing commissions of inquiry. Nothing in its decision takes away from that responsibility. The Premier established the commission of inquiry because he said we have to re-establish confidence in the system. He did not think the police investigation was adequate last June. Why would a police investigation be adequate today?
I want to ask the Premier, if indeed he has nothing to hide in terms of the connection between his government, members of his party and the development industry of this province, why not have a public inquiry?
Hon Mr Peterson: My answer is still the same as it was before, since the member asked me the same question on four occasions. We have nothing to hide, as I said to him before. We established the inquiry in all good faith. It went through two levels of courts and was supported. The Supreme Court of Canada had a different view, that things that impinge on someone’s criminality, or bring compellable witnesses, are not possible to carry on at the same time. That is their law. We have to respect it. The member does and I do.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Premier as well on the same subject, the Houlden inquiry. On Thursday, the Attorney General came up with an interpretation of the findings of the Supreme Court with respect to the Houlden inquiry that was the most narrow, the most limited, the most restrictive of almost any voice from the legal community that we have heard on this particular question.
That being the case, where there is open to interpretation the Supreme Court’s ruling that in fact an inquiry is quite appropriate, an inquiry on behalf of the provincial government is within its area of responsibility, and since there were problems with the restrictiveness of the wording of this particular inquiry itself, is the Premier prepared to look at some avenue other than what was put on the table by the Attorney General, namely, the OPP investigation, to follow through and bring to an appropriate conclusion this whole area of doubt which hangs over the government and the Legislature of Ontario?
Hon Mr Scott: From the line of questions asked today and from some of the press reports, it seems to me there is a misunderstanding of what the Supreme Court of Canada really said. It is not correct, in my opinion and the opinion of my advisers, to say that the case is simply one about the terms of the order in council. The case begins with a thorough discussion about the interaction between an inquiry, whether it be federally or provincially constituted, and a pending current criminal investigation.
Everybody knows that whether the terms of reference in this case are broadened or not, the allegations with which the inquiry will begin and be vested are precisely the same as the terms of reference of the police investigation, so that the court, as it said, focusing on the substance, has made plain, I believe, that the criminal investigation must proceed first. It will proceed and we will see what results from the police investigation.
At the same time, as the honourable leader of the third party knows, there are a number of other inquiries under way, the public trustee’s inquiry and the Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s inquiry. There is an inquiry in the Commission on Election Finances, which has full power to consider a number of these matters. They will all, I believe, if there is material on which they should report, be prepared to report.
Mr Brandt: The Attorney General knows full well that also contained within the report that was handed down by the Supreme Court was the very clear advice that an inquiry was appropriate on this or other matters to be undertaken as a responsibility of this Legislature. The Attorney General stands virtually alone in stating that his position is that an inquiry cannot go forward as a direct result of the Supreme Court ruling.
Would the Attorney General agree at least to inquire further to get a more specific interpretation as to whether or not an inquiry can proceed by this Legislature to look into these areas of very serious concern, not only to the political individuals who are involved in this Legislature, but to the people of Ontario who have a right to know what happened with respect to all of these particular matters before the inquiry?
Hon Mr Scott: As I think anybody can predict, if an effort were made to broaden the terms of reference of the inquiry, the evidence at the inquiry would proceed, and I suppose it would go on for probably 15 minutes before one of the counsel, being one of the counsel who appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada, would say:
“This is precisely the thing that the Supreme Court of Canada has said you cannot do, conduct an inquiry into criminal matters or matters of misconduct when a police criminal investigation under which we may be charged is under way. The reason you cannot do that is the very reason the Supreme Court of Canada gave, because you cannot be compelled to testify in a police investigation and you can be compelled to testify in a civil proceeding like an inquiry.”
Everybody knows that would happen if the inquiry started up again. The Supreme Court of Canada has gone to some trouble, at some length, to discuss the appropriate interaction between a criminal investigation and a pending inquiry. It cannot be done as long as the criminal investigation is under way in these circumstances.
Mr Brandt: I say to the Attorney General that the bottom line of this entire discussion that is going on in this House at the moment is a method by which we can collectively find a way to restore the public’s confidence in this system. There have been personal comments made by some of those who were involved in this particular case where they have admitted to certain errors in their ways that have occurred. Some have even indicated they might do the whole thing again. That concerns me because it means that it is going to be business as usual and there will be no restraints, no limitations, in the activities of some people. I think that is wrong.
My question to the Attorney General is -- and through him to the Premier, whom I had hoped to ask this question of this afternoon -- would he and his government be prepared to look at a reasonable series of steps that I believe his government can take with respect to getting to the bottom of what this issue is all about, namely, that some individuals influence his government with respect to their particular activities. Is he prepared to look with an open mind on some reasonable positions that our party will put forth?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member will perhaps recall an exchange that I had with the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Nickel Belt about a year and a half ago when they very earnestly desired, for reasons I understood, that a coroner’s inquest should precede a police investigation in criminal charges. I took a line on that occasion, which they did not find satisfactory and I understand their views, and decided that the criminal investigation must proceed to its completion before the coroner’s inquest can be held.
Only two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Ontario held precisely the same thing in the Beckon inquiry. It says that as long as investigation is pending, a coroner’s inquest has no right to consider the question of murder or suicide. That was followed last week by this decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada said that it is not simply a question of the terms of the order in council.
There is another question, which is the juxtaposition of a criminal investigation which may lead to police charges in a criminal court on the one hand and at the same time a commission of inquiry where people who may ultimately be accused can be compelled to testify against their will with penal sanctions. It is in that context, these two conflicting things happening at the same time, that the Supreme Court of Canada spoke.
My honourable friends will surely concede that it would not make any difference in reality, in substance, as Mr Justice Lamer said, if this commission had been established by the federal government, though the argument was dealt with in a sections 91 and 92 context. The court was addressing a major problem about the interrelationship between a criminal police investigation, where people have rights not to testify, and an inquiry going on at exactly the same time. This is not like Nelles. Here it is exactly the same time where people have the right under our Constitution and Criminal Code not to testify. It was that juxtaposition that presented the problem in this case and still presents it.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Premier. I would like to address the issue of Meech Lake this afternoon and I would like to read him a quote from his colleague Premier Wells from Newfoundland. I am quoting him out of a Toronto Star article dated 27 March, just a couple of weeks ago: “Frankly, I don’t see how we can pass the Meech Lake accord as it is and address the concerns of Newfoundland or Manitoba in a parallel or companion accord.” Does the Premier agree with that statement?
Hon Mr Peterson: The answer is, I do not know for sure at this moment. Obviously, he has the right to speak for Newfoundland. He is the first minister there, and I assume he speaks with the support of his cabinet and his party in that regard. I regret very much that he has chosen to take the actions that he has, particularly when others, like Premier McKenna, are searching for constructive solutions to this very, very difficult and complex problem.
The hope was obviously, with respect to the introduction of the motion by Premier McKenna, that it would be able to gather some consensus around it. It was not presented as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition; others may choose to add to it. As my honourable friend knows, today in the federal Parliament committee hearings have started to discuss that particular matter. The hope is that some consensus will be gathered around that process in the next few weeks or so, but I cannot tell my honourable friend with any certainty the outcome of those hearings or those discussions.
Mr Eves: The Premier has just stated that he regrets Premier Wells has taken the position he has taken. Does he think it is appropriate for him to participate in a $1,000 fund-raising event in Toronto on 17 April billed, to quote the Globe and Mail, as “Meech and Merriment,” mixing cocktails with constitutional crisis? Does he think that is appropriate for him as first minister of this province at a very difficult time in our constitutional history?
Hon Mr Peterson: Of course there is absolutely nothing inappropriate whatsoever, except maybe to the member and John Crosbie. John Crosbie is the new arbiter of good taste in this country? Good lord. I mean, that is the most pretentious aspiration I have ever heard of anybody in my life. It is like John Crow complaining about mortgage interest rates being too high.
He is a fellow Premier and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. We have a strong difference of opinion on Meech; there is no question about that. We have very strong and different views about the nature of this country and the kinds of solutions we can find together. But I tell my honourable friend that does not preclude me from trying to work together with my colleagues in other matters to try to build a stronger Canada.
Mr Eves: Nobody in this House this afternoon is quoting John Crosbie unless it is the Premier himself. Maybe he puts himself in the same class. Does the Premier think this is particularly appropriate, is what I asked him, as first minister, and does he think turning a constitutional crisis into a frivolous, partisan event entitled “Meech and Merriment” is appropriate? Does that present and send the sort of signal we want to send to the other provinces, to Ontarians and to Canadians about this issue? Will the Premier not reconsider partaking in this event on 17 April?
Let me tell my honourable friend that I think he gets too carried away with this and really does not understand the reality of trying to build consensus, trying to build strong things that we have in common across this country.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Premier concerning his government’s opposition to the goods and services tax. The Premier will know that all across Canada today ballots are being held in the workplace against the goods and services tax, yet his government has refused to allow its employees to vote on the job. One moment the Treasurer is saying that he is opposed to the tax, but is falling all over himself to collect it. The Premier says he is opposed to the goods and services tax, but he will not even let his employees vote against it on the job.
Could the Premier please tell us how serious he is in his opposition to the goods and services tax. Is he more serious that he was in his opposition to the free trade agreement? Less serious? About the same? How serious is he and what is he going to do about it?
Hon Mr Elston: We have maintained our opposition to the GST, but in relation to the request that came to us as an employer, there was a request that there be time given, off job duties, to vote. Actually the request was for between 15 minutes and half an hour for each of our employees to vote and that --
We take this as a very serious issue in relation to what should be registered in terms of disappointment with the federal authorities on this tax, but we do not think it is something that cannot be done either prior to or after the regular job time and in fact it does not relate specifically to the job that is being done by the Ontario public service.
We had been requested for permission to have time off and to have the ballot boxes in the workplace, and we felt that it could be accomplished other than in that place. I think there are a good number of people who will take advantage of voting their discontent with the goods and services tax, but it does not have to be done during job hours.
Mr Laughren: It was our understanding that this government -- I know that the Attorney General certainly, that formerly great civil libertarian -- is in favour of allowing more political rights for its employees in the province of Ontario.
I wonder if the minister could tell us, how is it that Ontario joins the Nova Scotia Tories as the only other government in Canada that has refused to give permission to its employees to vote on the job on this very important matter?
Hon Mr Elston: Perhaps, as the member for St Catharines has just noted, a vote on their affiliation with the NDP should be allowed. In our view registering a dissent against the GST is well within anybody’s rights and should and must take place if a person feels strongly about it, but there is no real, particular need to allow somebody between 15 minutes and 30 minutes off work to do that. That was what the letters in draft form given to the stewards on the job requested.
We think there is real merit in people registering their concern and protest about the negative implications of the goods and services tax, otherwise named by some honourable members in the federal House and even chairmen of committees there. The people can register their dissent, and I think they can find good and reasonable ways of pursuing their discontent about the goods and services tax at the federal level.
Mr McLean: In the absence of the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, I will direct my question to the Premier. I want the Premier to know that we are pleased the province has finally agreed to the bid in support of the very worthwhile Toronto Olympics.
On Thursday the minister said the province would provide up to $125 million of lottery revenues for the construction of additional facilities. The minister has already decreased the share of revenues to provincial culture and recreation activities in this province by designating a portion of the lottery revenues to the health care system, and within the last couple of weeks has taken an additional slice with the Bill 19 amendment to put money into the environment.
Hon Mr Peterson: I am glad the member supports the Olympics, and I assume he is not against increasing the budget for the environment because I know he cares passionately about that. The answer to my honourable friend is that everybody wins. One of the realities of the Olympics bid is that there are going to be additional new facilities around the province. There will be an ongoing legacy for amateur sports. My friend is well aware that a great number of the sites, the high school facilities and others across Toronto and across the province, will be substantially upgraded for the Olympics.
I think my honourable friend can go home and tell his colleagues that with the Olympics, it will be wonderful for all parts of this province and no one’s share will be decreased. As a matter of fact there will be a far larger contribution to sports and recreational facilities across the province.
Mr McLean: The Treasurer says everybody wins. Really, the Premier is saying and confirming what the minister said, that the province will assume any debt. Really, what he has done is given them an open blank cheque. I ask the Premier, if the deficit is $1 billion, will he provide the funds for that?
Hon Mr Peterson: I can assure my honourable friend that I do not plan to have a baby over this; I tell my honourable friend that. There is a specific commitment of funds in this particular regard. There was that commitment to the city of Toronto. But I want to tell my honourable friend at the very same time that there are sufficient controls built in so that we do not believe it is going to run into that situation.
We believe that this can be run, as I said, on a self-contained basis and that there will be no money lost. The funds will not come from the taxpayers but from lottery funds. As to the capital commitment, there will be an ongoing legacy for all. We are very comfortable with the assistance we have given to the city of Toronto in this regard.
Mr Neumann: My question is for the Minister of Health. April is Cancer Month in Ontario. Recently I was speaking with Dr Goodyear of the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre and he told me that most forms of cancer are on the decline or are under control. The one big exception is lung cancer, which is on a steep rise upwards. I know the Ontario government has shown leadership by banning smoking in all our workplaces that we have under our control, here at Queen’s Park and in different ministries.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to commend the member for his question and the comment he is making about the importance of people not smoking. Quitting smoking or not starting smoking is probably the most important thing you can do for your own health.
The member is quite right: This is Cancer Month and it is an opportunity for us to be very aware of the many initiatives under way. I can tell him that the Ministry of Health has shown great leadership. Under the leadership of the former minister, it was declared a smoke-free workplace, the first in the government of Ontario, and it has been very supportive of the legislation in the province, both internally within government and in the workplace as well.
Mr Neumann: Last fall I had the privilege of attending the ground-breaking ceremony of the expansion of the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre. I believe the Premier was there. In talking to the doctors there, they say that treatment facilities are very scarce and that we need resources for cancer treatment. Is it not much better to prevent cancer in the first place? We know that smoking causes cancer. Why not provide a little more emphasis, a little more direction to those health care facilities, and perhaps even require them to ban smoking on their premises?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member, when he stresses prevention, I think is doing a great service to the people of this province, because in fact cigarette smoking has been directly linked to cancer, heart disease, emphysema and respiratory diseases. That is what our health promotion campaign and programs are all about. As the member knows, we have undertaken public education campaigns to give people the information they need so that they will stop smoking. I believe that both the hospitals of this province and other health care providers are taking a look at how they can promote good health and encourage the people who use their facilities to quit smoking.
As the member knows, hospitals are autonomous. They are run by boards of directors. I would encourage all members of this House to ask their hospitals what their smoking or no-smoking policies are. I think they will find that many are progressive in eliminating smoking in their institutions and facilities.
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Premier. Hundreds, perhaps thousands were the victims of almost unspeakable, horrific violence when they were in the care and custody of St Joseph’s Training School for Boys in Alfred during the 1950s and 1960s.
Sergeant Al Crocker of the OPP says that Mount Cashel is nothing compared to what took place at St Joseph’s. No action was taken by the government in response to the complaints back then of physical and sexual abuse. These same persons, now adults, live with the open wounds inflicted on them by the staff of that facility. We know a criminal investigation is being done by the OPP, but at the same time people in Ontario have a right to know the extent of the violence at St Joseph’s and similar institutions. The victims of that violence have a right to appropriate remedial care.
Why will the government not commit itself to a public inquiry with a view to determining those two very specific things that are so essential at this point in our province’s history and in the lives of those victims?
Hon Mr Peterson: To my honourable friend, I do not think the government rules that out by any stretch of the imagination, but obviously whatever is done has to take into account the new ruling of the Supreme Court in this particular regard. As my honourable friend knows, there is a police investigation going on at the present time.
I have enormous sympathy for those gentlemen whom I have seen speaking on television, as the member has. I know there was a request coming forward for assistance with respect to counselling and we will do anything we can to try to help those people. I have instructed the ministries today to try to be as sensitive and responsive as we possibly can.
As I said, there is a police investigation there. It is proceeding apace, so I am told. I cannot tell my honourable friend where that will go, but at the end of the day, obviously subject to the new constraints, we do not rule out anything at this point, but we have to obey the new laws.
Mr Kormos: The Ministry of Community and Social Services reported back in May 1989 after the Sepp death that there were serious inadequacies in standards and procedures in young persons’ facilities across Ontario. There is no mechanism existent in Ontario right now that would prevent another St Joseph’s. Is not a public inquiry the ideal process with which to develop such a mechanism, an independent body with which to investigate the complaints of youngsters, children, about this type of violence?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am not sure I understand my honourable friend’s suggestion, if he has one in his question. He may have some better way to do these things. I find what happened there absolutely deplorable. There is no question about it. The fact that it only comes out recently, after some 20 years or 25 years, again is a major question for our society. Anyone who responds to the question of little children being abused by people in authority, I know, finds it absolutely repugnant. There are a number of mechanisms and systems in place. I am not arguing with my honourable friend. They are effective. With any luck, they are more effective now than they were 25 years ago. I think what we want, all of us, is to be as sensitive as we possibly can. If we can improve the system, surely that is our responsibility.
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. As the minister knows, his officials tested the air in Elmira on 3 April using its TAGA mobile air-testing laboratory. The Environment ministry has now released the test results, which indicated that the air contained traces of N-nitrosodimethylamine, a chemical which is known to cause cancer in animals and may also cause cancer in humans.
The Ministry of the Environment did not provide a public interpretation of its Elmira air quality test. This is totally unacceptable. The people of Elmira and the surrounding areas are left wondering whether their air poses a threat to human and animal health and safety. Can the Minister of the Environment tell this House why his ministry did not interpret the significance of its findings on the Elmira air quality test?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member would know, we sent the TAGA machine in as we do around the province to various places where there are requests for it, or where a need which has been determined for it. We sent it in to this particular area to identify a source, if there is a source of NDMA in the area. In fact, the source was identified at the Uniroyal plant itself. There was testing done in the area around, and it was non-detectable in the neighbourhoods or areas around. It was right on the plant site itself.
The medical officer of health was informed, and the citizens’ liaison committee, the local citizens’ group. We have informed the Department of National Health and Welfare of the preliminary results and requested its advice on this matter. We have identified the source right at the plant itself.
Mrs Marland: Identifying the source is not answering the question. We feel it is irresponsible to announce the results of those tests for a chemical that is known to cause cancer, and then to subject the people of Elmira to worrying about whether their air is safe to breathe, without providing some interpretation of those results. What is it that his Environment ministry is doing to develop safety standards and guidelines for the presence of NDMA in air?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member knows, we consult with the Department of National Health and Welfare in these matters. She would recognize that there are not many people in this world who are looking for NDMA. We are probably one of the very few jurisdictions that does. We wanted to present the information to the people in the area at the earliest possible opportunity. I read one of the reports that compared it, for instance, to being in a room where there was smoking taking place and other things of that nature.
The member would know that there are not pieces of information around that are particularly relevant in this case, which is why we consult the Department of National Health and Welfare on it. We felt that it would not have been wise to simply say, “Well, we are not going to provide the results until we have interpretations there.” We did identify all the people, identified it in this specific area, and the company, at the present time, is addressing that particular source.
Mr Callahan: My question is to the Minister of Financial Institutions. I have received calls and I have also had questions asked by members of my riding with reference to Bill 68 as to what impact, if any, that will have on their accumulated sick leave.
Hon Mr Elston: There are a number of people who are interested in this particular issue because they have been informed that they must use up all of their sick leave before they take advantage of insurance under the car insurance program and, in fact, that does not have to be the case. There are options available to people who take unpaid leaves. In fact, a request can be made and, if granted, then they would access the no-fault weekly benefit reimbursement, which would take them up to 80 per cent of their gross wages. If they did not purchase optional additional coverage, that would mean, tax free, $600 per week. So there are a number of options open to those people who are concerned about sick leave, and they should pursue those and understand them more fully than either the opposition or some of their own advocates who are providing them information.
Mr Callahan: I will probably have to read that answer in Hansard, because the official opposition was making so much noise I could not hear it. People from my riding are interested in that answer. Perhaps the opposition is not.
Hon Mr Elston: One of the advantages of this program has been that we have added substantial increases to the benefit level. Particularly for homemakers who are unpaid, there will be an increase to the level of $185. The same is true for seniors who did not participate in no-fault benefits before. That will go, as well, to $185 a week. The same with respect to students and again with respect to those people who are unemployed: There will be up to $185 per week paid.
There is a good bit of misinformation out and about in the communities. One of the problems has been that people will not acknowledge that we have expanded substantially the no-fault benefits on this program to take the place of what had previously been an adversarial process wherein suit established between at least two lawyers, if there were only two parties, or more, could take up a tremendous amount of time and in fact penalize the innocent victim by making him or her wait not only several months but, in some cases, years to receive any payment. By that time, there could have been substantial loss to their own ability to keep mortgages in good stead and also to protect their own businesses.
We have payments being made quickly under the no-fault benefits. We have an insurance commissioner who will ensure that payments are started within 10 to 30 days, depending on the type of request that is made. The benefits are real and they provide people with money in their pockets when they need it most, and that is at the time they are recovering from injuries as a result of car accidents.
The Deputy Speaker: Before we proceed with the next question, I would like to bring to the attention of the members four honourable guests from the House of Commons in Ottawa. In the east members’ gallery, Dr Maurice Foster, the member for Algoma; Bob Wood, the member for Nipissing; Diane Marleau, la députée de Sudbury and Reginald Belair, le député de Cochrane-Supérieur. Welcome to the House.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Minister of Housing and it is concerning his gutting of the tenant hotline program to offer information to tenants in the evening, both in Ottawa and Toronto. The programs were run by the Federation of Ottawa-Carleton Tenants Associations, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, as well as the Metro Tenants Legal Services.
The minister’s argument last week was that these programs could be gutted because he was going to pick up the slack with his own hotline run by his ministry. The Ministry of Housing’s 1989 internal review of its rent review services public education program states that client service staffers are temporary, there is a high turnover rate and they have inadequate training and orientation. Further, there was a study conducted by Parkdale Community Legal Services which showed that calls going to the Toronto rent review office from tenants often got incorrect and incomplete answers.
The hotlines that were provided in Ottawa and Toronto by the tenants were trusted by the tenants and gave a high quality of service, admitted by the ministry itself. Why is the minister taking away that high-quality service and, instead, putting it into his ministry with the service that has already been condemned by his own internal reviews?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I find it a little unusual that this kind of criticism would be coming, because the honourable member may be aware of the fact that it was Ministry of Housing staff who trained the people working the telephone lines for the tenants’ association. In other words, they received the same training from my ministry’s staff as our own staff did. That is the first point.
The second point is that the program, which started in 1988, was a 12-month pilot program to determine exactly what kind of response there would be and what kinds of costs we would face. We discovered in fact, after two years, because there were two extensions, that the tenant hotline in Toronto was receiving an average of six calls a night. The province-wide hotline that was set up last week is receiving 17, half of them coming from the Toronto area. Therefore, there is obviously a higher match as far as the numbers are concerned.
As far as the cost is concerned, we are able to set up across the entire province, in both English and French and with the device for the hearing-impaired, a program that will cost no more than we are spending in Toronto alone. I think that is a reasonable and efficient use of the dollars that we have.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The minister obviously does not understand what the tenants require in this province. They do not need to call bureaucrats who are running a program designed already to hurt tenants in this province. There is no confidence in the government’s rent review system; there is no confidence in the bureaucrats who administer that inadequate service. Maybe the minister would understand if he would visit these services and talk to tenants who have confidence in people who are prepared to advocate on their behalf and not just give bureaucratic lines designed by the ministry.
The minister has underspent his budget in the last four years by $133 million. The tenants need this service for their development. Would the minister not reconsider providing the service to tenants? If the minister thinks it should be provided across the province, why does he not establish tenant-controlled information lines across the province and not gut the ones that exist now?
Hon Mr Sweeney: First, as my honourable colleague well knows, it is not just the hotline with the tenants’ association; we also have hotlines through the legal aid clinics offering the same kind of advice.
The second point I would draw to his attention is that while we have hotlines in Toronto and Ottawa right now at the very cost figures that he has indicated, we have requests at the moment from several other municipalities, places like Kingston and Hamilton, and the cost would go up exponentially if we did that.
The honourable member made the observation that there was a surplus in this ministry’s budget in previous years. I can tell him that there is no surplus this year. As a matter of fact, there is going to be a shortfall that I have to make up.
On top of that we are already anticipating, despite the fact that we are getting a significant increase from the Treasurer, a shortfall from some of the services we have to provide next year. It is my responsibility as a minister, as a good manager, to use the resources I have most efficiently. If I can provide a service to cover the entire province in both English and French and assist the hearing-impaired, and do it for the same dollars I am doing it for Toronto alone, in addition to the fact that the tenants have their program during the day and the legal clinics have their programs, I think that is an efficient and a well-managed use of the resources of this province.
Mr Cureatz: The minister indicated last week, and it is reported in the press by, among other people, Claire Bickley and Robert MacLeod, that mentally ill prisoners comprise up to 18 per cent of the prison population in this province. I have a couple of specific questions for the minister in particular. If he does not have the information, perhaps he would be so kind to advise me at another time. How many meetings has he had with the Minister of Health on this issue, when were those meetings held and on what date can we expect a decision on the establishment of proper facilities for treatment of mentally ill inmates?
First of all, I have not had an opportunity to meet directly on this particular issue with the Minister of Health. However, as I think the member knows, we have an interministerial committee that is looking at the impact of those people who have behavioural disorders in our particular institutions.
I think it may be important to clarify something: Different terms mean different things to different people. I think it is important to understand that in the community at Large there are a number of individuals who have disorders but are able to be stabilized and to function to some degree. From time to time, many of these individuals perhaps go off their medication, commit some kind of offence and, by way of the court, end up in our particular care. We have a whole system to try to respond as effectively as we can with them.
With this great revelation that the minister gave to us last week and with my inquiry of him on the possibility of selling the location of the Whitby Jail, and with those funds opening up a brand-new facility on property located at the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital so that we could provide a facility not only conducive for inmates to be trained properly so that they would not be repetitive but also close at hand to the Whitby psychiatric institution to alleviate the kinds of problems that the minister expressed last week, would the minister be so kind as to forward to the committee that is investigating this overall approach the possibility of the sale of the Whitby Jail and a long-term approach to providing a new facility at the Whitby psychiatric location?
Hon Mr Patten: Number one, I would prefer to see the economics of the member’s friend in real estate who believes that the sale of that particular site could replace a whole new facility. The information I have is that the economics are just not there. If that is erroneous, I would be happy to receive any other kind of analysis of that.
Number two, the member wants some very specific information related to some of the treatment programs we have. I point out that we have a vast network of centres that I believe any hospital would be proud to have connected with it: the Ontario Correctional Institute, which has 220 beds and is known to be a very effective institution in terms of treatment of people with certain kinds of disorder; the Guelph assessment and treatment unit has 76 beds, etc. There is a new northern treatment centre that is being established at the moment, which we hope to open up fairly soon, which has 96 beds.
The member can see that over the course of time there are additions to the services in recognition of trying to be as positive and as effective as we can be in treating some of the people who have certain kinds of behavioural disorders.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Last week I had a meeting with a number of farmers and various commodity groups, and the question came around to this matter of the $500 million that the federal Minister of Agriculture is proposing for financially stressed Canadian grain farmers. Is the minister aware of the details of this proposal? What steps has he taken to ensure that our Ontario grain producers are treated equitably, that we get our share?
When we were at the ministers’ conference in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago, Mr Mazankowski literally threw upon the table at the last minute, this $500-million offer to the provinces across this country. Basically, we do not know the details of this program, other than that the federal minister agrees with me that it should be national in scope. It should also include those grains that are fed on the farm. Also preferably, rather than just a straight ad hoc program, we would like to see such a funding program flow into a national tripartite stabilization program so that we can get on to permanent financial farm programs on a national basis.
Hon Mr Ramsay: I have asked our officials to get the criteria as quickly as possible from the federal government as to how and when we could possibly access these moneys. As the member knows, one of the conditions placed on this program by the Honourable Don Mazankowski was that the provinces match dollar for dollar any program funding, so obviously we would have to have those discussions once we know the criteria.
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The McMurrich Sprouts Day Care this morning brought 46 children to this Legislature to tell the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Liberal government that it is the failure of this government to respond, to deliver its promises for pay equity for day care workers, that is the nub of its problem.
Their workers, like most in nonprofit day care, make about $18,000 a year. They looked at their workers and said, “Surely they are worth as much as garbage collectors in this same city, who get $10,000 more, or farm workers, who get $14,000 more per year.” So they decided to give them a very modest increase, which put them in a deficit position, and now in order to recoup that deficit, because no subsidies have flowed to them to meet their crisis, they are going to have to lay off 10 subsidized spaces.
Mr Allen: The Ministry of the Attorney General has said it is too damned expensive to meet these costs of pay equity for the workers in the nonprofit day care system and they should find their money elsewhere. Is that the attitude of the minister and, if so, where does he think they should go to get the extra money?
Hon Mr Beer: I think the record of this government over the last number of years in terms of the funding of the child care sector has been a very laudable one. We recognize the problem around the salaries for those who are working in the child care centres. That was one of the reasons we brought in the direct operating grants. This year, this adds some $61 million to that sector.
As the honourable member has pointed out, there has been a problem under the pay equity program. What we are looking at on a continuing basis is how we can recognize much more adequately the contribution of child care workers in terms of the compensation package they receive. Certainly that remains a commitment of myself, to see that they are appropriately salaried and that they have the kind of support they need. We are going to continue to look at that to ensure that we can make more progress both this year and in future years to do that.
Mr Allen: Piecemeal top-ups and so on, which have been the history of this government in the past with respect to day care workers, simply are inadequate. It is not a good enough answer, either, to say that there can be no comparisons found to meet the salary needs of day care workers. It is true there are no comparators, directly speaking, in the nonprofit day care sector, but where there are comparators in the municipal system, those comparisons have been made and the salary level in this area is up to $24,000 a year.
Surely, at least as a first step towards pay equity for day care workers in the non-profit sector, the minister would use the municipal day care salary as a comparator. It has been made on a legitimate pay equity basis. Let him use that as his model and subsidize accordingly. That would get --
Hon Mr Beer: We are looking at a number of approaches in terms of this specific problem. I remain very concerned about both this sector and that of homemakers where we have a great number -- indeed, almost 100 per cent of those working in those areas are women. While we have been able to cover a tremendous number, by far the largest number, of women working under the pay equity program, there is an important group that is not covered. That is why we have to continue to try to find the means to give them more remuneration.
I make a commitment to the honourable member, as I have to those in the child care sector, that we are going to find ways to do that. It is not going to happen overnight but I remain committed to ensure that their salaries go up.
The Solicitor General may recall that on Thursday 17 November 1988, almost a year and a half ago, my resolution dealing with compensation of victims of crime was debated and unanimously supported by this House. In fact, I believe the Solicitor General, as parliamentary assistant at that time, spoke in favour of it. The resolution called for review of the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act.
Hon Mr Offer: I think that the member’s question, as he poses it, is one which is most properly before the Attorney General. But when the member does talk about assistance to victims and that whole area, I think the member should be very well aware that in the new Police Services Act, which I introduced last December, there is a specific acknowledgement of assistance to victims. There is a whole new impetus and direction, not only with police services across this province but in a wide range of other areas where this government has shown its initiative and its momentum in addressing this very important issue.
We have addressed that particular matter as a principle in the new Police Services Act. I have addressed the issue in the whole area of victims of sexual assault. I certainly appreciate the members’ support in the initiative which this government has already taken in this very important area.
I am signing my name to this petition, which is signed by approximately 290 residents of White River, Dubreuilville, Wawa, Goulais River, Sault Ste Marie, Echo Bay, Bruce Mines, Thessalon and Iron Bridge in the great district of Algoma.
The Deputy Speaker: Before we proceed with the next petition, may I remind members that there are many private conversations and many members standing around, which makes it difficult for the Speaker to concentrate on petitions. Order, please.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I wish to present three petitions on behalf of members of the riding of the member for Timiskaming. These three petitions are all in the traditional form, objecting to Bill 8 and asking that the government not proceed with it. I have signed these even though I do not concur with the petition.
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorder resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident. To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
Mr D. W. Smith: I have a petition to the Lieutenant Governor and the assembly of Ontario. This petition I am presenting today from constituents from my riding of Lambton regards the responsibility of each municipality to deal with its own waste. There are approximately 20 petitioners on this petition, and I have affixed my signature to the bottom as well.
Mr Philip: I have a petition that is similar to the one that was introduced by the member for Windsor-Riverside. It contains 11 signatures. It protests against Bill 68 on the grounds that this bill causes discrimination for those who are affected as a result of mental illness being omitted from the definition and it implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorders resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident. To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
The petitioners express their concern about the exclusion of permanent mental disorders in the threshold definition of the new Ontario motorist protection plan. Their request is “that the Legislature consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorders resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident.” They are concerned that, “To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
Mr Philip: Mr Speaker, I have a petition here to the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario. In the past few days I have tried to abide by your recommendations and summarize the contents of petitions. However, my colleagues have pointed out to me that sometimes my summaries are longer than reading the petition, so I will read the petition to you, which is not all that long. It says:
“We, the undersigned” -- and I assume that means all of the 25 people who have signed this, who come from Windsor, Tecumseh, people in those areas -- “hereby register our concern and protest over the exclusion of permanent mental disorders in the threshold definition of the new Ontario motorist protection plan.
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorders resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident. To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorders resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident. To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
Mr Wildman: I have another petition. It is similar to the one that was just proposed by my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain. This is a petition dealing with Bill 68, the proposed so-called no-fault insurance plan. It is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario. It is signed by residents of London and St Thomas.
It requests that the Legislature consider amendment of the proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorders resulting from traumatic auto accidents. I support this petition and have affixed my name thereto.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a longer petition that has been signed by residents of the province of Ontario. Because of its length, I will not read the petition in total but just summarize some of the points that the petition makes.
These petitioners are very concerned that Bill 68 is legislation that makes tragic changes to the rights of innocent injured motor vehicle accident victims. They are particularly concerned that there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to the Premier’s promise, in 1987, that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates. They are concerned that the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation, as proposed, will in fact provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry, costing Ontario taxpayers at least $141 million in the first year alone.
In particular, there is concern that the insurance legislation will deprive innocent injured victims of at least $823 million in compensation that will be denied to them. Throughout they are concerned that the Premier and the Liberals have refused to listen to hundreds of submissions made to them calling upon them to abandon this bad legislation. Therefore, as a result, they are petitioning the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
Ms Bryden: I have the honour to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario. It is on the subject of the deficiencies in Bill 68, the new Ontario motorist protection plan. One of the loopholes that this petition refers to is the exclusion of permanent mental disorders in the threshold definition of the new Ontario motorist protection plan, and it calls for the Legislature to consider amendment of this proposed threshold definition.
Miss Martel: I have a petition, as do the rest of my colleagues, addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario concerning Bill 68. This petition addresses some of the salient points of the bill, why it is so lousy. Just in case you have forgotten why, Mr Speaker, I am going to make a point of going through a few of them: first, “because the bill makes tragic changes to the rights of innocent, injured victims” in the province; second, because “the Peterson government has made it clear” right from the beginning “that they wanted this legislation rammed through,” and they continue to do so; third, because there is nothing in this bill “that gives effect to David Peterson’s specific promise in 1987,” made in Cambridge, that in fact there would be a reduction.
Ballinger, Bradley, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Charlton, Chiarelli, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Fleet, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Johnson, J. M., Kerrio, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, Leone, Lupusella, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Mahoney, Martel, McCague, McLean, Miclash, Miller, Morin, Morin-Strom, Neumann, Nicholas, O’Neill, Y., Philip, E., Poole, Pouliot, Rae, B., Ramsay, Reville, Roberts, Ruprecht, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Stoner, Tatham, Velshi, Villeneuve, Wiseman, Wildman.
Mr Wildman: This is essentially the same amendment that the government was intending to bring before the House as part of its Game and Fish Act, which it has not proceeded with. The purpose of the bill is to require hunters to wear not less than 3,250 square centimetres, approximately 500 square inches, of blaze-orange material or some other quantity of coloured materials as the regulations will permit to ensure the safety of hunters in the bush. In view of the unanimous support for the bill, I would ask for unanimous consent to move to second reading.
Mr Kormos: Subject to the Speaker’s control of the course of the proceedings, we may well talk about Frigidaires and Sherwin-Williams before the afternoon is over, the sort of things that are so close to so many Liberal members. I suppose the real question is, how can you ever tell that the light goes off when the door is closed, but I do want to remind all of us what we are talking about. We are talking about the motion moved by the House leader for the Liberals, as follows:
“That, notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House, in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, two sessional days shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole House. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the assembly by 5 pm on the first sessional day on which the bill is considered in the committee of the whole House. At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed” -- listen, Mr Speaker, please; shall be deemed -- “to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment” -- and that warrants emphasis, because this is the motion that we are debating right here and now -- “put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for the adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without amendment or debate.
“That one further sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings” -- shall interrupt; cut them off, interrupt them -- “and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further amendment or debate.
Last week, last Thursday, I told you, Mr Speaker, that my goal at this stage of my argument was to have the mover of the motion withdraw that motion. My goal was to persuade the House leader, and if not the House leader directly, his colleagues, those men and women who make up the Liberal caucus here, to persuade the House leader to withdraw that motion.
It would end this debate. As I understand the rules of procedure, and please correct me if I am wrong, if the House leader withdrew that motion, I would have nothing left to speak to, because one cannot operate in a vacuum. I would be forced to sit down. I would be forced to say no more about this cruel, oppressive motion before the House.
So I look forward to that time when the House leader stands up on a point of order and says, “I withdraw this motion.” I have recognized, and my colleagues in the Liberal Party have recognized, that this motion is an affront to democratic process, that it is an affront to parliamentary tradition, that it is an affront to fairness, that it is an affront to decency. I look forward to the House leader rising on a point of order to advise us, to advise this House, to advise you, Mr Speaker, that he withdraws that motion.
Last week, on Thursday -- and again, that stage of the argument was to the end of having the House leader withdraw the motion -- I was in the process of arguing this facet, of all the many considerations that have to be made with respect to this motion, and that is to say that the public disapproval of this legislation is so widespread that to impose such a pathetically short period of time on all of us for consideration of the bill is to treat those members of the public with disdain.
My reasons for saying that were based on, among other things, the contents of a tabloid published by a lobby group, a lobby group that is opposed to this legislation, no two ways about it. Mr Speaker, you recall it, a group called the Committee for Fair Action in Insurance Reform. What I had done was make reference to their tabloid and I had read the list of groups and organizations and political parties -- at least, their riding associations -- that were opposed to the legislation, in contrast to the auto insurance industry, which has been significantly in support of the legislation, and for very good reason. I spoke of those in the context of this motion, this closure -- this time allocation motion.
I read of the trade unions. I read of the police officers’ associations, both provincial and municipal. I read of teachers’ federations. I read of labour councils from various areas in the province, all opposed to the legislation.
I read of municipalities in Ontario that had passed resolutions in their city and town councils condemning Bill 68, condemning this insurance scheme of the Liberal Party and of the big insurance companies, and I named the town of Aurora and the town of Milton and the town of Vaughan as having passed those resolutions and the city of Welland as having passed a resolution that condemned Bill 68 and called upon the government members to abandon, to drop, to dump that legislation.
I made an error, Mr Speaker, and I apologize for that. I was wrong. I extend my sincere apologies to you, to the members of the Legislature and to those persons who might be listening and who might have listened last Thursday, because I left the impression that it was the cities of Orillia, Sarnia, Sault Ste Marie, Welland and Toronto and the towns of Aurora, Milton and Vaughan which had passed resolutions condemning Bill 68, condemning the Liberal insurance scheme. I neglected to advise the House that many more municipalities in addition to those have passed similar resolutions condemning Bill 68, and I apologize for not having listed them last Thursday.
I apologize to those communities, because obviously those communities have taken careful stock of what this government is trying to impose on the people of Ontario, and after a process of debate on their own part -- and I will bet you this, Mr Speaker. I do not know whether it is proper for the Speaker to bet with members or not, but if you were able to bet and you were willing to bet, I would bet you dollars to doughnuts that in not one of those municipalities where resolutions came before the council and they voted condemning the bill, I will bet you in not one of those councils did they impose closure or time allocation on the length of debate. I will bet you that in each and every one of those municipalities across Ontario, those many municipalities which are calling upon the Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier of Ontario to stop serving and servicing the interests of the insurance industry and start taking care of the people of Ontario, I will bet you in not one of those municipalities did they have to consider a motion like the one before us, having been moved by the Liberal House leader.
Let’s take a look at the municipalities which have passed resolutions condemning this insurance scheme, calling upon the Liberal government to vote against it. As I say, it is important to address our minds to that, because what that reveals, what that demonstrates for us, is the significance of the debate. What it demonstrates for us -- I am going to refer back to the motion so that I am correct in my references to the motion. Bear with me please, Mr Speaker, because I want to be specific in my references to that motion. It is important that the restrictiveness of it not be in any way underestimated or in any way understated.
They call them sessional days. In some respects, it could be illusory for some of the people who are listening to this, because we are not even talking about full days. It talks about two sessional days for committee of the whole consideration. We are not talking about two days; we are talking about, at the very best, the small portion of two afternoons, perhaps two hours or two and a half hours, to consider over 30 amendments by the Liberals to Bill 68.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect, important and profound things are being said, in my opinion, and in accordance with the standing orders, the House is not duly constituted. Will you please check for a quorum?
What we were talking about is municipalities that have roundly condemned the Minister of Financial Institutions, the Premier of Ontario and those Liberal members who show such disdain for the public by supporting legislation like Bill 68.
For the region of York, seven of the nine municipalities which make up the region -- Markham has passed a resolution condemning Bill 68; Richmond Hill has passed a resolution condemning Bill 68; the municipality of Vaughan has passed a resolution condemning Bill 68; Aurora has passed a resolution condemning Bill 68, and like those other municipalities, has said to the Liberals: “Please abandon this bill. Dump the legislation now before you hurts innocent injured victims, before you impose heavier tax burdens on taxpayers in Ontario, before you contribute to premium costs that, according to the Minister of Financial Institutions, are going to go up by 50 per cent if this legislation passes.”
They are talking about premium increases of as high as 50 per cent, a $1-billion payday to the auto insurance industry, generated in large part by denying at least 95 per cent of innocent injured accident victims any compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life; a taxpayers’ subsidy of $141 million at least, perhaps as high as $143 million, by virtue of the elimination of tax obligations on the part of the automobile insurance industry in Ontario and by the elimination of the indebtedness of the insurance industries to OHIP for claims which rightly ought to be held against it.
What were we talking about? Those municipalities which passed resolutions and, as I say, not one of them forced closure, forced time allocation on its council members: Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Aurora and Newmarket. The municipality of Newmarket passed a resolution condemning this Liberal auto insurance scheme, this threshold system that the Liberals imported from Michigan, from the United States. They have made it even more onerous, they have made it even more cruel, they have made it even more draconian than the state of Michigan would dare impose on its citizens. So the town of Newmarket joins those other municipalities.
Whitchurch-Stouffville, another municipality, has passed a resolution condemning Bill 68, calling upon the Liberals and their Minister of Financial Institutions and their Premier to abandon this legislation. The municipality of East Gwillimbury passed a resolution condemning Bill 68, condemning this insurance resolution. Yet these Liberals would dare say that we do not debate this; these Liberals would dare say that this Parliament should muzzle the opposition.
These municipalities joined the municipalities of Cornwall and North Bay. Both those cities condemned Bill 68 in resolutions before their city councils. The city of Orillia, in its wisdom, has passed a resolution telling the Liberals to take Bill 68 and dump it before they hurt more innocent injured accident victims and because the insurance companies are doing quite fine, thank you, and do not need the help of this industry. Sarnia and Sault Ste Marie I talked about last Thursday as being among the municipalities in Ontario which have passed resolutions condemning this auto insurance scheme.
The city of Toronto, of course; Milton, of course. We spoke about those earlier. Hamilton; Brampton passed a resolution condemning Bill 68 and opposing Bill 68. The city of Brampton sent a message to its representative here at Queen’s Park tantamount to saying, “Please, if you are going to act for the residents of Brampton, if you are going to act for the people in this municipality, to do that you have got to oppose Bill 68, because the will of this municipality is that Bill 68 be dumped.”
The city of Woodstock has passed a resolution condemning Bill 68. The city of Woodstock joins those others as among the many municipalities in the province of Ontario which condemn Bill 68, which call upon Liberal members -- because we know where the opposition members stand. I told the members last week, we have no stake with the insurance industry. We in the New Democratic Party do not owe the insurance industry one penny or one favour, not by any stretch of the imagination.
We ain’t beholden to the auto insurance industry, which is why we are opposed to this motion for time allocation and why we are opposed to the motion of the House leader. We are not indebted to the auto insurance industry. We do not see it as our task in the New Democratic Patty to increase the profits of the insurance industry by an extra $1 billion in the first year alone, by virtue of taking that money from taxpayers, innocent injured victims and drivers in Ontario. We speak out condemning this motion, condemning this government for its seemingly bold and unashamed advocacy of the interests of the insurance industry.
It becomes all the more perplexing when one recognizes what a great American influence there is in the auto insurance industry in Ontario. It becomes fascinating that this government, these Liberals, would try to ram it through without debate -- because that is what this closure motion is all about, what this time allocation is all about -- when in fact the profits that they are generating are almost as often as not going to go into American pockets as they are Canadian pockets.
That is where some of the big shareholders, that is where some of the big ownership interests of these very same automobile insurance industries, that these guys are in the back pockets of, are from, the United States of America. My goodness, anybody who would ever suspect that the free trade sellout of Ontario took place only on Parliament Hill had better pay close attention to what is happening here.
I am just overwhelmed on a daily basis by the continued and growing opposition to Bill 68 and the criticism of it. This is why full debate is needed. The reason I cite these things -- I do not purport to argue the issue of Bill 68 when discussing this motion. That would be inappropriate. It would be inappropriate for me to argue Bill 68 during the course of discussing the motion. I know that.
I want to impress upon the members of this Legislature how important full debate is, which is why I raised these issues. I do not believe the Liberal members of this House have the letter, dated 2 April, from the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. I will bet they do not have it. I will bet not a single one of the people sitting here has a copy of that letter to the honourable Premier, dated 2 April 1990, from the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
It says, “Dear Mr Premier,” most politely and most appropriately. The interest of this organization is to look out for the welfare of women in our country and to speak out on their behalf when need be. It is not a partisan organization. Their interest is to safeguard women in our society.
Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, and more important the members, because I suspect that you indeed are aware of the position of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and I know that you, as Speaker, have probably made it a point to educate yourself about all of the background material concerning Bill 68 and all of the opposition that there is in the community and across the province to it. I want to read this letter because I suspect that it has not been made available yet to the members of the Liberal caucus. If they had had it available to them, their position on this motion, their position on Bill 68, might well have been different.
Let me read it to the members. It is dated 2 April 1990, addressed to the Honourable David Peterson, Premier of Ontario, Room 281, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1A1. I should say that -- one moment, Mr Speaker. There are a few people out there watching and I am going to read you some of the letters I have been receiving lately because again they lend weight to this argument in opposition to the motion for closure.
There are a few people out there watching and they are the ones who are -- I received phone calls, not only here at Queen’s Park but down at the constituency office in Welland-Thorold, saying, “What’s the Premier’s address?” This is it. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women wrote to the Premier, and this is the address you can write to him at: Honourable David Peterson -- or Premier of Ontario, or Dave Peterson. if you wish, or just Premier -- Premier of Ontario, Room 281, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1A1.
I suspect if they simply wrote, “Premier of Ontario, Legislative Building, Toronto,” or, “Premier of Ontario, Queen’s Park, Toronto,” the correspondence would get to him. I know that the Premier welcomes their letters. He disregards them, obviously, because he has received thousands and thousands and thousands of contacts, calls, cards and letters condemning Bill 68 and he does not appear to have listened.
“The National Action Committee on the Status of Women is compelled to write to you regarding this legislation” -- Bill 68, the auto insurance legislation that the Liberals do not want to have any debate on; that is what this motion is all about -- “which if passed in its current form entails serious consequences for the women of Ontario.”
This is what they write: “We believe that not only will all innocent victims unnecessarily and unjustifiably suffer an enormous loss of benefits” -- we have been telling the people of Ontario and the people of Ontario have been telling the Liberal members that for months and months now, that all innocent victims will unnecessarily and unjustifiably suffer an enormous loss of benefits, if this legislation passes -- “but the legislation also discriminates against women in a number of ways.”
It is not lawyers saying that, not people with an axe to grind, not people with a vested interest or a monetary interest, is it, Mr Speaker? This is the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. As I say, I know you have read this correspondence because you make it a practice to be aware of the public commentary about Bill 68.
In this letter, dated 2 April 1990, to the Premier regarding Bill 68 they write that “not only will all innocent victims unnecessarily and unjustifiably suffer an enormous loss of benefits, but the legislation also discriminates against women in a number of ways.”
As I started to read: “1. In many cases, benefits to injured children will be inadequate to provide for their proper care and to compensate them for financial losses. As most single-parent households involve women” -- of course they are not saying all; they are saying most. There is nothing inaccurate or even unreasonable about that, is there? Of course not, and women in Ontario know that -- “the plight of the children will be more sorely felt by women than by men. Even in two-parent households, the primary care giver is more often women than men.”
Again, what is remarkable about this correspondence is that it does not try to overstate the case. It states their case in very modest language, in language that does not flow in the direction of hyperbole but rather flows towards caution. “In some cases” -- and they say “in some cases” -- ”mothers will be forced to place their children in institutions rather than caring for them in the home.” That is true. That is what Bill 68 is going to mean to women in Ontario if Bill 68 is passed by these Liberals.
All we are asking for when we oppose this time allocation motion is a meaningful period of time in which to debate the issues. That is all we ask. We see it as our job as members of this Legislature to participate in a healthy, full and meaningful debate, and we know that cannot take place in a period of a couple of hours a day for but two afternoons when the Liberals alone have over 30 amendments to pass, which will more than use up the time they would have allocated to discussion of Bill 68. That is damned nonsensical, is it not, Mr Speaker? You know it and these members know it.
“2. The act discriminates against women who have temporarily left the labour force to raise a family. For example” -- I, of course, read this before I came into the Legislature this afternoon with a view to seeing whether this example is absurd or realistic, and of course it is not absurd; it is a very valid example. Again, if anybody has a quarrel with it, then so be it.
Listen to this, please. This is the way in which Bill 68 is going to specifically condemn women in this province to far less than what should be rightly theirs. This is specifically how Bill 68 is going to be discriminatory against women:
“The act discriminates against women who have temporarily left the labour force to raise a family. For example, if a woman in this situation becomes an accident victim, her injuries may delay her return to the work force. She would receive only $185 a week in disability benefits regardless of what her income would have been in the labour force.”
The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, in its typical manner of understating its case, neglects to point out that this is not just a single threshold piece of legislation -- I am going to talk about this in the days and weeks to come -- it is a double threshold piece of legislation. That is something which the Liberal members of the standing committee on general government in the brief time -- that is one of the problems with the brief time the Liberals permitted for the general government committee to hear submissions and have discussion and some exchange there. The Liberals could not get it through their heads that this was in fact a double threshold system. There was a threshold to pass if you wanted to get into the courts to sue for general damages. There was also a threshold that you had to pass for your so-called no-faults. There is a threshold for both aspects of the legislation.
When the National Action Committee on the Status of Women talks about a disabled woman getting a maximum of $185 a week in disability benefits regardless of what her income would have been in the labour force, I can go farther and qualify that and say “maybe,” if indeed she satisfies her insurer that she is sufficiently disabled, if she passes the no-fault threshold that this bill and its regulations contain. Really, it is a big “maybe” as to whether or not she is going to get that $185 a week.
Ms Crawford, a wonderfully gifted young lady, as a result of this accident was forced into a wheelchair. Her lower limbs are rendered lifeless by a criminal driver. She of course, while the determination of the total amount of damages is pending, expects to get her no-fault benefits from her own insurer.
We have had those in this province for a long time now, so there is nothing new about no-faults, and it is absurd that the Liberals could call this no-fault insurance. It is threshold insurance. It is something substantially different than what we have had. Were it new no-fault insurance, why we would have no opposition to it at all. I hope that is clear. We would have no opposition at all.
Ms Crawford, who indeed does receive her no-fault benefits, accepts an invitation from what I understand was the Attorney General’s department to appear at an anti-drunk-driving rally. Because she is such a wonderful and multitalented young person, notwithstanding the cruel disability that was imposed on her by a criminal driver, she has fought that and she has rallied her own soul to permit her to fight back. She attended that rally. From her wheelchair -- her lower limbs being lifeless, as I have said -- she spoke out to an audience of young people and old people and told them about what drunk driving can do to people’s lives.
As a result of that her insurance company cut off her no-fault benefits, because it said, “Ms Crawford, if you’re well enough to go and speak at anti-drunk-driving rallies for the Attorney General, you’re well enough to go to work.” That was her own insurance company.
There is nothing in Bill 68 that cures the inherent nature of the auto insurance industry. There is nothing in Bill 68 that makes them more humane, that makes them kinder in spirit, that makes them more generous with their money.
Ms Crawford’s scenario is so absurd, yet at the same time it is so horribly obscene. So when the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, in its condemnation of Bill 68, very modestly points out that an unemployed woman who may have been employed two years earlier or who might have been employed a month down the road -- what happens under this legislation is that the woman whom the National Action Committee on the Status of Women speaks of is the same woman who was scheduled to begin a contract position, let’s say as a consultant, for $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year two months from now. If she is crippled by a drunk driver or a careless driver or a negligent driver or a reckless driver, she will be lucky to get her $185 a week, notwithstanding that this drunk prohibited her from commencing that $40,000-, $50,000- or $60,000-a-year job. That is what this legislation is all about.
This is the response that the National Action Committee on the Status of Women has to the stupid, dumb comments that these guys come up with in a pathetic attempt to sell this miserable package of profit insurance. Members have heard these clowns on almost a daily basis saying, “Well, if what we’re providing by way of Bill 68 is not adequate, go out and buy more.” That is what they have been saying time and time again. But the National Action Committee on the Status of Women has this to say about that. “It should be noted that private disability coverage is generally unavailable to protect women in such situations.” That makes short shrift of those pathetic, miserable arguments that are being made to try to peddle this miserable piece of legislation, does it not?
I cannot for the life of me understand why the Premier would not share this correspondence with his colleagues in the Liberal Party. Surely, as the leader of that party and as the Premier of Ontario, correspondence received by the Premier that is as significant as this deserves to be distributed among the members of his caucus. Sometimes you just wonder what kind of institution is being run right here. To think that the Premier would not distribute this piece of correspondence to members of his caucus so that they could even begin to make a learned decision about the bill and about the time closure motion is really abominable, and it is shameful. Shame on him.
We go on further about the letter from the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the letter dated 2 April 1990, to the Premier of Ontario. “3. The act” -- they are talking about Bill 68 -- “discriminates against small business operators.” We have talked about this many, many times, have we not? We have a government here that talks a big line about free enterprise. This government’s idea of small business is small business: the entrepreneur who has 500 non-union employees. Those are the kind of people this government embraces. That, to the Liberals, is small business. We have told this Legislature, we have told the committee and we have told these people in the hallways and in their offices. I have begged with them to please be more supportive of small business people, small entrepreneurs. For so many of our communities, that the backbone of the economies in our respective communities. I know it is for Welland and Thorold. We value the heavy industry that is there but we know that in this day and age of Liberal de-industrialization, of exorbitantly expensive electricity costs here in the province of Ontario, this Liberal government has generated an environment that is hostile to big industry.
That is why I oppose this time closure motion. That is why I speak about what I am speaking about right now. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women has this to say, in addition to the two previous points, about Bill 68, in a letter to the Premier that it appears the Premier did not have the decency to share with his colleagues. Never mind decency to his colleagues: What about decency to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women? Come on. Do the women of Ontario not deserve better treatment than that?
I am reading from the letter again. I realize I should get back to the letter before I say something unfortunate. I just cannot tell members how disturbing I find that. It is really abominable behaviour, damnable behaviour.
In any event the letter, paragraph 3, says: “The act” -- Bill 68 -- “discriminates against small business operators. If one becomes an innocent accident victim and her business goes bankrupt as a result of her inability to run the business while recovering” -- that is not a bizarre example, is it? It is not a bizarre or strange example. Listen to what Bill 68 does to small business people. “If one becomes an innocent accident victim and her business goes bankrupt as a result of her inability to run the business while recovering, she may receive no compensation for her loss of her business.” Zero, zip, not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime; nothing in compensation for the loss of her business.
That is as an innocent injured accident victim, a totally innocent victim. As a person without fault, as a person who is a victim of a drunk driver, a careless driver, a negligent driver or a dangerous driver, she receives not a penny. This small business person receives not a penny for the loss of her business.
The National Action Committee on the Status of Women is quite right. This legislation that they are proposing, that they want to rush through because they do not want to have debate about it, is not just anti-women; it is anti-small-business, be they women or otherwise.
Point 4 of the letter, a point well made: “Women in general usually make less money than men.” We are trying to rectify that as an opposition, without a great deal of support from the Liberals in this Legislature, the sad reality that women in general usually make less money than men notwithstanding that their jobs, as often as not, are equal in terms of what is demanded of them. If members want to know something, I bet you do not have to go much farther than this very building to find examples of that. We are trying to rectify that. Organizations are spearheading the movement for pay equity and job equity, such as the Ontario Federation of Labour, with Julie Davis spearheading that on behalf of the federation without a great deal of help from these clowns sitting on the Liberal benches.
In any event, back to the letter: “Women in general usually make less money than men, own less property and have fewer resources to tide them over the experience of being an innocent accident victim.” That is true. That is a truism. That is the reality out there in communities across Ontario, in big cities and small towns. “Women in general usually make less money than men, own less property and have fewer resources to tide them over the experience of being an innocent accident victim.”
As I say, these are all reasons, important reasons, why a full debate on this bill is essential and why this motion to allocate time, this guillotine motion -- I told members about Fowler’s Modern English usage. I looked it up over the weekend: published by Oxford, Fowler’s. It was sitting beside my armchair at home down in Welland. I opened up Fowler’s to “closure.” They talk about “time allocation.” They talk about “guillotine.” They also talk about “kangaroo.” Did you know that one, Mr Speaker, as a euphemism, as a colloquialism that accompanies “time allocation” and “guillotine” and “closure”? Interesting. I just wanted to throw that in for the interest of all these people listening here.
Again, we talked about English language and its flow, its development, its genesis and its growth, and it is interesting that “guillotine” would be a colloquialism that has acquired usage along with “kangaroo” for “time allocation,” which is what the Liberals are trying to do here.
Point 5, by Lynn Kaye, president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women: “Women in general must stay home to care for children disabled through an accident.” That is true too. Who would dare argue to the contrary what is being said in the letter from Ms Kaye to the Premier of Ontario? When one reads this, there is little wonder that the Premier did not disclose this to his fellow Liberals, little wonder that he has concealed it from the other members of his caucus. I am pleased to be able to let them know what this letter says right here and now.
I know there are going to be a few Liberal caucus members who will be darned angry with their leader for concealing this information from them, darned angry. That is a matter between them and their leader to deal with. I know what I would do, but far be it from me to try to tell them how to deal with a leader who wants to conduct an agenda with clandestine, surreptitious conduct.
“6. The home lives of victims and their families can deteriorate as a result of the strains placed on family, finances and by stresses which occur when one is in pain regularly and loss of patience resulting therefrom. This legislation” -- this is very important. “This legislation may result in increased incidence of abuse within the home.”
Let’s get some yucks out of this one, okay? Let’s get some yucks out of this one from some of these honourable members. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women says this about Bill 68, “The sad reality of it is that the increased strains and pressure generated by the discriminatory, unfair procedure wherein innocent victims are not compensated” -- they are not compensated so that the insurance companies can prosper and double the profits they made last year. The net effect of that may be “increased incidence of abuse within the home.” The incidence of abuse within the home may logically be increased as a result of this type of legislation.
It is sad that I have to deliver that message from the National Action Committee on the Status of Women to these Liberal members, when the letter was addressed to the Premier. It is sad and it is worthy of reflection, and it makes us all, on the opposition benches, somewhat sorrowful.
I want to tell members about this. This is a flash. At it regular meeting of 27 March 1990, this is what the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board had to say about Bill 68: “Recommendation approved by the board at the regular meeting of 27 March 1990: That the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board opposes the provincial government’s Ontario motorist protection plan and urges the government of Ontario to consider alternative methods of reform to the system governing compensation to victims of accidents and automobile insurance; and that a copy of this resolution be circulated to all school boards in Ontario, to the local members of provincial Parliament and to the Office of the Premier in Ontario.”
That raises an interesting consideration, because they call upon the government to consider alternative methods of reform. That is why we need full and open debate on this motion, so that we can contrast the pathetic injustice of Bill 68 with the options that are available to the government of Ontario. There has been a lot of hooting and hollering from the Liberals during this discussion of the closure motion, about some real options.
All it would take would be a little bit of courage and the political will and we indeed could have a made-in-Ontario motor vehicle insurance system right here in Ontario. All it would take would be for the Minister of Financial Institutions to cut his umbilical cord to the auto insurance industry, the one which seems to provide him with more than a little bit of nourishment, and he could start looking at a real alternative like the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board calls for. It asked the government to consider alternative methods of reform.
Members know that we in the New Democratic Party oftentimes use the Insurance Corp of British Columbia as a model, as an example of how a public, driver-owned, non-profit insurance system can serve drivers, can serve victims, rather than the profit-making, profiteering private corporate auto insurance industry in Ontario. What we have in terms of the ICBC, a public, non-profit, driver-owned auto insurance system, is one that has been functioning for almost two decades now; Manitoba for a little longer. The province of Saskatchewan has had a public, driver-owned, non-profit system since 1946. Successive governments in Saskatchewan, not being Co-operative Commonwealth Federation or NDP, no two ways about it, have not dared tinker with it, have they?
When the minister sits in the House, the caucus he sits with has a far better understanding of that than I would, because the Conservative parties in Manitoba and in Saskatchewan run public, driver-owned, non-profit automobile insurance systems that provide insurance fairly and affordably, far more cheaply than in Ontario, programs which flourish.
In Saskatchewan -- and I am going to talk about BC in just a minute -- there have even been instances where everybody’s premiums have dropped in a subsequent year because, the system being non-profit, benefits accrue to the drivers in subsequent years when an earlier year has been more successful than anticipated.
Let me tell members about British Columbia. I am going to concede that Saskatchewan might be a difficult example to compare or contrast with Ontario, because it is quite true that Saskatchewan simply does not have the large dense urban areas that Ontario or British Columbia does. That is why I think British Columbia -- and I really believe this -- is a more adequate comparison than Saskatchewan, and I am prepared to live with that. For instance, you can compare Vancouver with Scarborough, can you not, in terms of the type of population you are dealing with, the density and the roadways? Of course you can.
The New Democrats in British Columbia, Dave Barrett and his government, campaigned on public auto insurance, got elected, fulfilled their campaign commitment and now -- my goodness, I used to think that Social Credit, Vander Zalm, out in British Columbia was the most right wing government. But now I realize, after seeing some of the stunts that the Liberals have pulled here in Ontario, that British Columbia comes second -- mind you, a close second -- to the reactionary and regressive tax policies of the Liberals in Ontario.
The second most right-wing government in Canada, the Social Credit, Vander Zalm, runs a public, driver-owned, nonprofit auto insurance system; one which Social Credit, when it was in opposition and when the New Democrats formed the government, fought tooth and nail. The end of the earth was pending if the New Democrats carried through with their plan to develop a pubic, non-profit, driver-owned auto insurance system. The Social Credit out there, as opposition members, insisted that it would be the end of the world, but of course it was not and of course the system works well, so well that the Socreds would not dare dismantle it.
I am going to tell the House what they can do out there and how they can provide a better service and how we can do the very same in Ontario to the driving public. We can do it in three principal areas: one, in terms of protection; two, in terms of availability, and three, in terms of premiums. Those are the three areas where a public, driver-owned, non-profit system could effect serious changes right here in Ontario. It is in those three areas that it would constitute a real alternative to the gouging by the private, corporate auto insurance companies that exist now.
Before I get to that, let me tell the House exactly what I mean, because we are not dealing here with businesses that have, as I told members before, an inherent sense of charity. Oh, they try to put on a show, and they will put on a show at the right time and when they have to come out and lobby -- holy cow, Mr Speaker, when you saw these insurance company folk at the standing committee on general government, by and large, they were the only people --
Mr Kormos: If the minister had been at those hearings, we would not have to be discussing this at length because he would have known the facts that we want to put before him during committee of the whole House discussion. He did not have the decency or the courage to show up at those committee hearings. Lord knows his friends from the auto insurance industry were there.
Mr Kormos: Do you know who else was there, Mr Speaker? Loose Lips over on the Liberal benches mentions that the members of the legal profession were there. I suspect that particular member, to whom I apologize for interrupting -- no, that is quite all right, please stay seated. Relax, Mr Speaker, we are doing fine.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Gentlemen, the honourable member for Nipissing. The member for Lake Nipigon is not even in his seat. The honourable House leader for the opposition, and the minister also, you are partly to blame.
Mr Kormos: I know that the Speaker has to be nonpartisan and I am loath to ever correct the Speaker but, quite right, as was pointed out, the Minister of Financial Institutions is 100 per cent to blame. I mean, if it were not for him and the Premier, and the auto insurance industry being greedy, we would not have to argue about this bad legislation and prevail upon these Liberals to ask that it be dumped.
So I tell you, Mr Speaker, there was an occasion last week when I spoke about those groups that were in support of and opposed to Bill 68 when they appeared at the general government committee on insurance.
You know who else was there? I am going to go through the list I went through last Thursday because, obviously, it has been raised now by virtue of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere. We had better go through it again because he clearly did not pay attention the first time. I am loath to ever repeat myself. Members know that. But sometimes something is of such significance that if it is not said a second time, it will not be recalled.
So let’s look at who was appearing during those brief periods of hearings in front of the general government committee to tell the government and the government members, “Drop the legislation, discard it.” Lawyers were there. Of course they were. These are their front-line people. Mr Speaker, you know, as a member of that profession and an outstanding member of the bar, that lawyers protect people’s rights. You know that lawyers are the front line of defence against abuse of people’s rights. Lawyers were out there because, you see, the lawyers that appeared in front of this committee were the lawyers that see the broken bodies in their offices every day. There were the lawyers who see the cruelty and the parsimony of the auto insurance industry on a daily basis. The lawyers are the ones who have to go into courts and fight the insurance companies so that the insurance companies have to pay out to innocent injured victims what is rightly belonging to those innocent injured victims.
So the lawyers were there. Who else was there telling the government that Bill 68 should be junked, that it should be dumped, that it is cruel, cruel legislation that is only going to result -- what were they saying? You know what they were saying. It is only going to result in higher premiums, premiums up to 50 per cent higher than what people are paying right now.
Lord knows that they are high enough now. The government has done absolutely nothing to effect control over climbing, rising premium rates. They froze them and then they went up, first, by an aggregate of 9.2 per cent and then another 7.6 per cent. That is some 18 or 19 per cent during a period of freeze. And you know what? The freeze was not regarded at all by the insurance industry because, through the process of premium shuffles -- flips -- insurance companies like Scottish and York and Victoria -- the minister knows about Scottish and York and Victoria. These are the ones about which the minister could do diddly-squat when they were hammering the life out of insurers. These are the ones about which the minister was prepared to do diddly-squat.
I want to tell the members about the people who are opposed to Bill 68, and the minister should listen. If the minister had been there, I would not have to tell him so today. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who raised the issue, should listen very carefully so that I do not have to cite this a third time.
The insurance companies were there, and their executives, in the nice suits, fancy shoes, the Guccis and the Ballys and the -- what do you call those? -- Rolex watches. They were there supporting this legislation. Sure, they were there. If the minister had been there he would have seen them showing up, not in the numbers that even the minister would have wanted. One fellow showed up three times under four different labels in three different communities and then finally showed up a fourth time -- Terry Taylor. I said, “My God.” He said: “Don’t worry. The fourth time and that is it.”
This is the difficulty the government had procuring support for this legislation. Taylor had to come to four different cities under four different banners to try to bolster the pro ranks because, by and large, and as I have told you, the only people in Ontario who supported this legislation were the auto insurance industry and its colleagues, its cohorts and its flunkies, mere flunkies.
Who was against it? The Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped condemned Bill 68 and tried to tell the Liberal members sitting on that committee how pathetically indefensible their position was. Its submission was called The Disability Giveaway: How the Ontario Government Subsidized the Insurance Industry by Cutting Compensation for Disabled People. And the Liberals are proud of that? That is shameful.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable House leader of the official opposition and the minister, I am trying my best to listen to the remarks by the honourable member for Welland-Thorold. Sometimes your conversation is overpowering his remarks. Please.
Mr Kormos: I am sorry. I will start again. We are talking about the people who appeared in this committee trying to tell the Liberal members on that committee to dump the legislation. The Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, ARCH -- again, no axe to grind, no lawyers. These are people who look out for disabled people. The Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped said this, “The Disability Giveaway: How the Ontario Government Subsidized the Insurance Industry by Cutting Compensation for Disabled People.” Some of the Liberals had the decency to lower their heads in shame. Some of the Liberals on that committee had the decency to at least lower their heads in shame while ARCH was making its submissions.
The bulk of them were so arrogant as to actually feel pride in the fact that they had good friends in the auto insurance industry and that they had received big donations from the auto insurance industry in the last general election. Do the members know what they were doing? They were calculating what they were going to get from the auto insurance industry in the next general election as long as they followed the marching orders. That is shameful.
Mr Kormos: I saw the pads of paper and the calculations and the references to the various statutes that talk about the maximum you can receive. Let’s face it: Notwithstanding that the inquiry is over, Patti Starr, for all intents and purposes, is out of commission. Her chequebook has been shelved. We know how a retired gunfighter hangs up his guns and a retired boxer hangs up his gloves. Let’s hope that Patti Starr has hung up her chequebook before more charitable funds get diverted into the coffers of a political organization. Patti, wherever you are, please shelve the chequebook. I should not have said that because it may sound like an invitation to deal in cash. At least the cheques can be traced. If it is going to be done, it is preferable that it be done with cheques.
Let’s get back to this motion for time allocation. I am telling you right now, Mr Speaker, I read these out yesterday and it is only because of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere that I feel compelled to read them again. If I am doing wrong, just nod or go like that and say, “You’re doing wrong.” And I will stop. Okay I will go ahead. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped said no to Bill 68. The Advocates’ Society said no to Bill 68. Associative Rehabilitation Inc said no to Bill 68. They said: “We believe the legislation as drafted represents one step forward and two steps back. The threshold must be changed to include psychological and mental injury.”
The threshold is the heart of this legislation. The minister can make like he is being responsive in that fraudulent sort of way, with that fraudulent style, can make like he is being responsive and tinker, as we predicted he would, with some of the regulated benefits, the no-faults, but he will not touch the threshold because it is the threshold which creates the big profits for the auto insurance industry. The big bucks are in the threshold. That is why the threshold is there. That is what is unique about this legislation, that it is threshold legislation, not no-fault legislation. My God, there is lots of fault that can be found with this bill, and we know it.
Better (Auto) Accident Treatment For Injured Victims in Ontario, BATFIV: Steve Crouse, from Kitchener, a victim of a motor vehicle accident and a victim of the insurance industry. If you want to hear about how inadequate the insurance industry’s response is to no-fault benefits, you talk to people like Steve Crouse. He will tell you about getting jerked around and jerked around in an effort on the part of the auto insurance industry to basically starve him out, not in a law suit, but in terms of his no-faults, by his own insurance company.
Let me tell the members this: This is why we need full debate. The Minister of Financial Institutions and the member for Guelph -- the parliamentary assistant, the Liberal, the one whom the minister sent out into the front during our discussion of the bill -- have had this to say: “Look, under the no-fault portion a victim will be getting the no-fault benefits” -- again, if they pass the threshold -- “from their own insurer. So if an insurance company doesn’t treat you good, you’re going to go shop for somebody else.”
That is poppycock, that is horse feathers, that is baloney, that is balderdash. It is downright dumb and nobody in Ontario really believes that, because insurance companies are jerking around their own customers now by not paying the no-faults. Nothing has really changed. They do not regard their customers, their drivers, as such a valuable commodity that they would even begin to think of being fair with them when it comes to paying no-faults; not currently and not in the future if Bill 68 is passed.
Indeed, if anything Bill 68 is going to increase the amount of litigation that is going to be necessary between an insured and his own insurance company. That was the experience in Michigan. They had introduced threshold. That is what Mr Justice Osborne told this government. If only they had listened to the Osborne report, the recommendations in Osborne about threshold insurance.
If you want to talk to somebody about how insurance companies abuse the recipients of no-faults, you do not have to go any further than talking to Steve Crouse from Kitchener and the hundreds of people, if not more, who are represented by BATFIV, Better (Auto) Accident Treatment For Injured Victims in Ontario. As I say, they were in front of the standing committee on general government saying no to Bill 68. It is not good, it is not acceptable legislation.
C. R. Eddie Engineering Inc appeared in front of the general government committee to condemn this insurance company legislation. They spoke strongly against it. They said, “Absolving individuals from personal responsibility sends the message that traffic accidents are not preventable, they just happen.”
Mr Kormos: The Minister of Financial Institutions interjects with a note of envy. Let’s face it, if you are going to have supporters, the minister knows I would far rather have the Canadian Auto Workers support me than the auto insurance industry. If I am advancing the interests of auto workers, I am advancing the interests of good, hardworking people in this country, men and women who work in our factories and who deserve far better than this government -- the Liberals -- is giving them. I am a lot prouder about advancing the interests of working people in this province than these Liberals can be about advancing the interests of the auto insurance industry.
So I have no hesitation in telling anybody who wants to know -- I will tell them even if they do not want to know -- that I and my colleagues are financially supported by virtue of donations from trade unions and trade unionists. I appreciate their support and I am going to continue to fight hard, along with my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, other members of the official opposition, for the interests of working people, small business people, the middle class, seniors, young people and students, all those people whom the Liberals in this province have deserted, the very same sort of people whom the Liberals have thrown to the wolves, because those are among the classes of people who are going to be most hurt by this legislation.
Yes, we will continue to speak out for those people, and if they see fit to support us with financial donations come election time, we will continue to accept their donations. We talked about this last week, and we may have to talk about it again next week, but the auto insurance industry does not even think of sending us money. They know we are not going to be their little flunkies, their little lackeys, their little handmaidens.
The Canadian Auto Workers, Local 222 from Oshawa, came to the general government committee and said, in short, “Bill 68 will punish rather than protect the members of our union.” We are talking about thousands and thousands of people that the Canadian Auto Workers, Local 222 Oshawa, speaks for, thousands and thousands of hardworking men and women.
The Canadian Mental Health Association appeared before the general government committee to say no to Bill 68. They talked about the discriminatory quality of the threshold, which precludes any consideration of psychological injuries flowing as a result of being an innocent victim in a motor vehicle accident.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: One more time -- the truth does that from time to time -- there seems to be a degree of penetration that is becoming embarrassing. I do not believe that the House is duly constituted in accordance with the standing orders. Therefore, I am asking for a quorum call.
Mr Kormos: The Canadian Mental Health Association appeared in front of the general government committee and tried to tell the Liberals to drop this legislation now. The Canadian Mental Health Association pointed out the highly discriminatory quality of the threshold, an unfair and discriminatory quality. Again, we are talking about the Canadian Mental Health Association. An axe to grind? No. The only thing that distinguishes the Canadian Mental Health Association is that it is not in the back pockets of the insurance industry.
The Canadian Paraplegic Association came before the general government committee. They condemned the legislation: “The proposal is very unfair. The government is proposing to take away the rights of 95 per cent of the people in Ontario and they are not giving adequate benefits in place.”
Let’s think, once again, about who is that all about. Do they have an axe to grind? The only thing that distinguishes them is that the Canadian Paraplegic Association is not in the back pockets of the private corporate automobile insurance industry in Ontario, is it? They appear and act and represent the interests of their membership and their constituency. And who is that? People and folk in wheelchairs, people whose lower limbs are dead, lifeless, without control, the people who will never walk or swim or run or play soccer with their kids because they were victims.
The Canadian Paraplegic Association, which represents those people, has this to say: “The proposal” -- Bill 68, the Liberals’ auto insurance scheme -- “ is very unfair. The government” -- the Liberals -- “by virtue of Bill 68 is proposing to take away the rights of 95 per cent of the people in Ontario and they’re not giving adequate benefits in place.” The auto insurance industry was there supporting the legislation.
The fraud, the essential fraud here, the nub of the dishonesty, the nub of the deceit, and the thing that we should spend more than a little bit of time realizing, is why this motion is before the floor. Members should not forget we are talking about the motion for time allocation. Let’s understand why this motion has been put forward by the House leader for the Liberals. Because he does not want to talk about the opposition to the legislation, because he does not want to talk about the fact that this is really threshold insurance. It is not no-fault insurance; we have had no-fault insurance in this province for over a decade now.
As a matter of fact, the Liberals know that Mel Swart’s position and the New Democratic Party’s position on no-fault was so popular, so highly supported across the province that if they could capitalize on that by calling this scheme no-fault, they would. That is fraudulent. It was dishonest on the part of the ad agency. It was deceitful because there is nothing no-fault about this. What is new about this scheme is the threshold.
That is what so much of the commentary in front of that committee was about. If the minister had been there, if he had taken time out of his schedule, he would have heard it. Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals’ spinal cord and acquired brain injury programs: Again, these people do not have a vested interest. The folk from Chedoke-McMaster, the folk dealing with spinal cord and acquired brain injury programs, do not have an axe to grind. Their job is to take care of people who have brain injuries and who have spinal cord damage, the very sorts of people who are innocent injured victims in motor vehicle accidents. Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals’ spinal cord and acquired brain injury programs said this, “The threshold is far too severe and restrictive.”
If the minister had been there, if he had had the decency to appear in front of that committee, he would have known that Cheshire Homes Foundation said this: “Clearly, the proposed limits on long-term care are inadequate. They do not support community living for people who are physically disabled.”
The Driving School Association of Ontario: They were wonderful people. The Driving School Association of Ontario appeared in front of the general government committee. They gave its members some wonderful handbooks that they use as a part of their own driver training program. It is something that I would recommend to every member of this Legislature, every staff person, and anybody who would be listening, especially to those people who have young people in their homes and those same young people who are contemplating taking up driving. The Driving Association of Ontario came forward and talked about the real issue, the importance of putting safe drivers on to the road and keeping the unsafe ones off.
What the Driving School Association of Ontario had to say about Bill 68 is, in part, this, unfortunately, “Self-employed persons will not be able to sue for disability, business losses, pain and suffering if they are an innocent party in an accident.” That is what the Driving School Association of Ontario had to say. The Minister of Financial Institutions just was not there.
The member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant, was there, and we did not hear a peep out of the member for Guelph when the driving school association said this about the legislation. We did not hear a peep from the member for Guelph, the front man for the Minister of Financial Institutions. The minister is in the bunker avoiding the flak and the poor member for Guelph -- I have been cautioned not to call him Rick Ferraro, and I think that is still standing, that I should not refer to him by name, Rick Ferraro -- was there taking all the flak, unable to answer the questions because even the member for Guelph knew that so much of this legislation, especially the threshold, is inexcusable and indefensible.
The Electrical Workers’ Compensation Council of Ontario was there. This is what they had to say: “Bill 68 severely restricts the right of injured accident victims to be fully compensated for their loss of income. Bill 68 will increase the costs to employers and taxpayers of providing workers’ compensation benefits.” That is what the Electrical Workers’ Compensation Council of Ontario had to say. They, of course, along with the hundreds and hundreds of others, were opposed to the legislation, and they tried to tell the Liberal members on the committee why those same Liberal members should support full debate, full discussion, and ultimately should condemn this bad bill. The Employers’ Council on Workers’ Compensation was there in front of the general government committee.
Let’s remember one thing: the Liberals hijacked and shanghaied this committee from the very onset. Because they had a majority, they were able to get away with it. What they did was make sure that no single presentation could last longer than 30 minutes, and they kept on guiding and directing every single person who appeared in front of us to not spend more than 15 minutes. Can you believe it, Mr Speaker? Can you believe how embarrassed some of us were when Ralph Nader was told, “You have 15 minutes and that is it, you’re cut off.” Can you believe Mr Justice Barr, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, being told that he had a mere 15 minutes? That is bad, bad form. That was shameful, disgusting, abominable and, quite frankly, repugnant.
The Heritage of Children of Canada had their representative in front of the general government committee. They said, “We find the threshold draconian and against all principles of democratic and natural justice.” The Heritage of Children of Canada appeared in front of that general government committee to oppose Bill 68 and to say, among other things, that it found the threshold -- and look what we are talking about again; we are talking about the threshold, not no-fault, because this is not no-fault insurance. It is as simple as that. They said the threshold is draconian and against all principles of democratic and natural justice.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers appeared in front of the committee. The minister could have heard their comments, had he had the decency to be there, had he had the interest to be there. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- oh, I am sorry; that is right. Why should the minister listen to them? These are workers. These are people who work with their hands and work hard and build things and make our cities and our province grow.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was there. They had this to say during their condemnation of Bill 68, on behalf of all of their membership, “The elimination of compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for 90 to 95 per cent of innocent motor vehicle accident victims is totally unacceptable.”
Let me interrupt just for a moment and let members know that indeed I made reference to this list of opponents the last time we spoke about this, last Thursday. What happened this afternoon was that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere could not remember which groups had opposed the legislation. I asked the Speaker’s chair. I said: “Mr Speaker, I feel compelled to go through that list again. Is it okay?” The Speaker indicated that it was okay. I appreciate that some might criticize this as being repetitious, which is why I checked it out with the Speaker before I commenced, just to be perfectly fair to all of the participants in this scenario. That is why I wanted to explain that to members.
Again, I have never had as difficult a time as I have had during the discussion of this debate. I have never had as difficult a time addressing narrow issues. The reason why is that we are talking about broad affairs; we are talking about broad matters; we are talking about things which are going to impact on the lives of every single resident of the province of Ontario. That is why these groups and organizations, these trade union movements, these organizations of injured people, appeared in front of that general government committee, and that is why they told the government no to Bill 68. That is why they told it to abandon Bill 68, to drop Bill 68, because it is bad legislation.
These good people whose names I am referring members to now have read the legislation. They have worked with the people who are innocent injured victims. They know the type of impact those injuries have on those people’s lives. Who better to tell us how bad this legislation is?
I was telling members that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had appeared in front of that committee to say no to Bill 68. The International Union of Operating Engineers said no. The Ontario Provincial Council of Labour said no. Young people, students -- because we have talked about how they are being discriminated against in the saddest way by this legislation -- the Lakehead University Student Union came before the committee and said that it was concerned because of the unfair consequences this legislation will have on post-secondary students, particularly in northwestern Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. There are many private conversations. The standing orders call for only one member at a time and the only member who has the floor is the member for Welland-Thorold, period.
Mr Polsinelli: Standing order 23(b), Mr Speaker. Since you are calling the House to order, I would ask that you enforce standing order 23(b) in reference to the member’s speech. Standing order 23(b) indicates that the member should direct his speech to matters under discussion. Clearly, for the past 30 minutes that I have been listening to the member in his debate, he has been talking about everything other than order 42, which is the order of the day, so in calling the rest of the members of the House to order, I would ask also that you ask the member for Welland-Thorold to respect the standing orders.
That is exactly what we are doing here. We have got to illustrate for the members of this Legislature the broad concern there is out there across Ontario about Bill 68, and that is why a time allocation motion is so thoroughly inappropriate.
I know the member who just raised the point of order, the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General, has not been here for a whole lot of the discussion, and he has conceded he has been here for 30 minutes; so be it. What he has managed to pick up in those 30 minutes is an impression of how widespread and how broad the opposition is to Bill 68, to this auto insurance scheme. What he should also understand is that I appeal to the government members at two levels.
First, I will be calling upon the House leader to withdraw his motion upon the completion of my argument. I am hoping that my argument will be sufficiently persuasive to compel him, if not in any other way, morally. I am hoping that my argument will compel the House leader to draw on some moral resources of his own and withdraw the motion, in which case there is no more conversation, there is no more debate. The parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General will know that is one option. He will know that if you were to go out and drag the House leader for the Liberals in here by the ear, sit him down at his seat and ask that House leader to stand up on a point of order so that the House leader can withdraw the motion, why, I would sit down and we would have to stop talking about closure. There would no longer be any need to talk about closure. That is number one.
Number two, barring that, if there are not sufficient moral resources for the House leader to call upon to compel him to withdraw this bad motion, then I leave this to the parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General. It remains then for the Liberal members to vote against the motion because it is bad, because what it does is restrict debate. It denies some fundamentals of democratic principles. It denies some fundamental principles of Canadian parliamentary law, which is why I read from Beauchesne and Erskine May. This is an extraordinary --
We know that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, on behalf of all of its members in Ontario, condemns Bill 68. We know that the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Ontario Provincial Council of Labour, and as I was trying to tell the parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General -- again, I know I cannot refer to Mr Polsinelli by name, so I just refer to him as the parliamentary assistant for the Attorney General -- students recognize how discriminatory Bill 68 is. The Lakehead University Student Union came forward to the committee to call upon the Liberal members to please oppose Bill 68, that it is bad legislation. It is going to hurt students, along with a whole lot of other people, but it is going to hurt students.
The Metropolitan Toronto Police Association came before the committee. The Metropolitan Toronto Police Association said: “This piece of legislation is one of the most ill-conceived in living memory. It will have a horrendous effect upon the fabric of society and will severely compromise and curtail the rights of Ontario citizens.”
When the Liberal members of this government reflect upon what has happened over the last few weeks, and if they have got their minds set on supporting this legislation -- why? Perhaps because they were told to by their House leader; perhaps because they were told to by the Premier; perhaps because they were told to by the Minister of Financial Institutions; or perhaps because they were told to by the insurance company that donated the last time to their campaign fund. It is a possibility. I can understand how those things happen. That is why it is indeed that type of relationship that we wanted to see investigated by virtue of a public inquiry that the Attorney General and the Premier have been stonewalling. I understand that those things happen. I understand that corruption can interfere from external sources about our conduct as members.
So, as I say, if they feel at first glance compelled to support this legislation, for whatever reason -- because the Premier told them to, because the minister told them to, because an auto insurance executive told them to -- they should reflect upon what the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association says about Bill 68, that Bill 68 is one of the most ill-conceived in living memory, that it will have an horrendous effect upon the fabric of society and will severely compromise and curtail the rights of Ontario citizens.
Ralph Nader: I know that back on 8 January, the Minister of Financial Institutions, in an anticipatory spiel, anticipatory because Ralph Nader had not appeared in front of the committee yet, he was not to appear until one week later, 15 January, but the Minister of Financial Institutions -- last time, when I said he crapped all over Ralph Nader, the Speaker raised an eyebrow, so I changed it to dumped all over Ralph Nader -- on 8 January dumped all over Ralph Nader.
When Nader came on 15 January to share with us some of his expertise and experience in fighting big, wealthy, powerful insurance companies, along with big companies like Ford and GM and people like that --
Why would the Minister of Financial Institutions not want to be there to hear what Nader had to say? Why would he not want to be there to share some of the expertise of Nader? Why would he run from yet another critic? Nader had this to say:
“This plan, for at least 90 per cent of the accident injury cases in this province, would eliminate compensation for pain and suffering and even compensation for economic loss if an injury does not make the verbal threshold. In short, Premier Peterson is asking the people of Ontario to buy a pig in a poke.”
The insurance industry supports it. Of course the insurance industry supports it. This is one real big payday for the insurance companies, is it not? It was intended from the very beginning to be that payday, because that is what the secret studies of the Liberal government disclosed, that the Liberal government knew throughout the bulk of 1989 what a big payday Bill 68 was going to make for the insurance industry.
Those studies were conducted to the tune of some $250,000 of taxpayers’ money, spent secretly, spent surreptitiously, in a clandestine study, and those figures were only released after much pressure was applied to the government, after freedom-of-information applications were made compelling the government to finally release those 30-plus studies.
When, Mr Speaker? This was great, this was really big. This was really impressive. On 6 February, when the short public hearings were virtually at an end, when none of the experts appearing before that committee could be asked to comment on those very same studies, those secret, clandestine studies being conducted by the government, with a secret agenda which told the government that the savings, by eliminating compensation, the savings in that respect alone, by denying innocent injured victims their compensation for pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life, the government knew that those were going to equal some $823 million, almost $1 billion in reduced compensation alone, a billion bucks obtained by denying innocent injured victims any compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
The government knew that. They knew that as a result of the secret studies. They had their own agenda; the agenda was set. The sole, singular purpose of Bill 68 was to generate a payday for the auto insurance industry. That is the sum total of it.
Let’s take a look at what the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres had to say to the standing committee on general government about Bill 68, this Liberal government’s auto insurance scheme, a threshold system that Osborne recommended against and Kruger of the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board recommended against. Shameful, shameful and sad, sad for the whole province of Ontario; it was a sad, sad day. The Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres had this to say about Bill 68: “The overall scheme discriminates against persons with a mental disability. The scheme also discriminates specifically against children under 16.”
“The scheme also discriminates specifically against children under 16.” Let me tell the members how that happens, please. I know that some members have heard this before, but perhaps it warrants telling again. Let me tell members what happens to a 15-year-old kid or a 14-year-old, a 13-year-old or a 12-year-old kid, a kid under 16. Exactly what the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres says is that among other bad things, this legislation discriminates against kids, little people, youngsters. Let me tell members how they can say that and how dead on, how right they are, how 100 per cent correct they are in saying that.
Let me run this scenario past the members. Again it is one I have reflected on and I have asked myself, am I overdoing it? Am I being, once again, hyperbolic? I say no, because these scenarios unfold every day of every week of every month of every year in this province. They unfold for a number of reasons. They unfold because sometimes I am convinced that our war against drug abuse and alcohol abuse is not quite a war. Perhaps it is just barely a skirmish; perhaps we are not doing enough about it or as much as we really could.
They occur because it is not just the insurance industry that has the Liberals in its back pocket. The liquor and beer industries in Ontario have back pockets too that are full of Liberals. We should not forget that it was the Liberals who mere days ago expanded the guidelines for advertising for liquor and beer. We know why liquor and beer manufacturers want broader guidelines for advertising. It is so they can advertise more, more often and in a greater variety of ways. Their reason for advertising is to induce more people to drink more, more often and when they are younger.
War against drugs? Perhaps. The question is, what side is the government on? What side is this government on when it would permit alcohol pedlars to produce more advertising to induce more people to drink and at a younger age? As I say, the sad realities, the scenario I am about to speak of unfolds daily, weekly and monthly.
Let’s talk about a 14-year-old or a 15-year-old kid, walking home from school at 3:30 or 4 pm, who does all the right things. He or she obeys all the rules that pedestrians are required to obey and watches out for traffic. Before he or she crosses the road, and indeed when he or she does cross the road, he or she does it at a corner, an intersection, at a crosswalk and waits until the light turns green and even then looks once more for traffic.
We are talking about a little kid on his way home from grade 8, grade 9, grade 10 or perhaps grade 7 or grade 6, who is doing all the right things, who could do nothing more to protect himself against what is going to happen in a mere five seconds. That same little kid, not a motorist but a pedestrian, is doing all the right things and following all the rules of the road. But the drunk driver has no concern for the fact that that 15-year-old, 14-year-old or 13-year-old kid obeys all the rules of the road, because the drunk driver does not.
Notwithstanding that that 13-year-old, 14-year-old or 15-year-old kid crosses as a pedestrian at the crosswalk when the light is green, the drunk driver, who does not give a tinker’s damn about crosswalks, pedestrians or green lights or red lights, the same drunk driver can mow that kid down and smash that kid into the asphalt, leaving a trail of skin and flesh and blood as the body is dragged by that car.
As I say, it is a gruesome and a horrible scenario. It is one that happens far too often in our province. If that kid is fortunate enough -- fortunate enough, lucky enough -- he will suffer merely a broken back. The severity of that kind of impact, the carelessness of that kind of driver is such that a broken back is not an unreasonable injury to be suffered by that kid under those circumstances.
That 13- or 14- or 15-year-old kid, who just barely survives that type of accident, will be taken to the hospital, at least in some communities. In other communities, hospital facilities may be such that there is no room at the inn. But if that kid is fortunate, he will be taken to emergency facilities and will be tended to by the fine doctors and fine nurses that we have here in the province of Ontario.
A broken back, with the grace of God, with no spinal injury, with no neurological injury, will require traction for three, four, maybe as long as five months. Traction in the hospital: the pins and the needles and the screws and the wires and the pulleys and the contraptions and the pain. It is a pain that no amount of Aspirin or Tylenol or Ibuprofen or Demerol or codeine can ever fully suppress. It is such a pain that as the codeine wears off at two or three in the morning, this same 14- or 13- or 12-year-old kid wakes up in the middle of a dark sleep to experience an agony that he has never dared even think about prior to that in his life.
We are talking about pain that most of us have been blessed to the extent that we have never had to experience it. We are talking about suffering that most of us have never had to endure. We are talking about a young victim completely without fault. What happens in that young victim’s life? He misses that school year because he is in traction in the hospital. Even when that child, that kid, that little boy or little girl is released from the hospital, he or she has to recuperate at home for another year, and that means a second school year missed; more pain and more treatment and more medication and more therapy, then finally a return to school, a return to the schoolroom, a return to the schoolground.
Now, that kid’s playmates, that kid’s classmates from the year that that kid was struck down as an innocent injured victim, have moved on. They are two years beyond that kid now. Indeed, for that year and a half, almost two years of total recuperation time, that little kid, that little guy has not been able to ride his bicycle or play on the soccer team or play ice hockey or go to the school dances on a Friday evening or a Saturday evening. He has not been able to go on vacation with his family when they went to their cottage up north because it was simply too dangerous, too risky. The little girl has not been able to go to her ballet lessons or her ice-skating lessons. She has not been able to socialize with her classmates, with her friends. These kids have lost more than just two years of their lives. They have suffered two years of lost opportunities.
Mr Kormos: I am not bothered by it, Mr Speaker. These clowns have little in their arsenal but that sort of garbage. The problem is that that kind of sleazy interruption is an effort to interrupt a narration that is going to have a little bit of impact on a few people’s lives. But that is okay, because that type of crummy interruption does not change the reality of little kids like the one we were just talking about, little kids all over Ontario who can suffer in that very same way.
What are we talking about? We are talking about a 12-year-old kid who has suffered incredible pain and suffering, who has suffered almost uncompensable loss of enjoyment of life, the little girl who, after the traction, looks at her buttocks and sees the scars where the pins were inserted so the wires and the pulleys could pull that back straight again.
She is only 12 or 13, but she rightly thinks, “What are those scars going to look like when I am 17 or 18?” Members know that it is oh, so important to a little girl who is 12 or 13 years old, because she is going to know she is different. She is going to know she is marked, not just emotionally, not just by virtue of having lost two years of her life, not only by virtue of having had two years of lost opportunity. She has been physically tattooed as well, physically marked so that everybody, in her mind -- to that young lady those tiny scars where the pins were inserted are enormous and they are scars that everybody can see and that everybody’s attention is drawn to the minute she dons a bathing suit or shorts.
What has the Minister of Financial Institutions -- I almost said Murray Elston -- got for the little kid who is mowed down by the drunk driver? What has this insurance scheme got for that little kid? What does the insurance industry in this province want for that little kid? Compensation for pain and suffering? Not a penny, not a cent in compensation to that 12-, 13-, 14-, 15-year-old kid for pain and suffering, because that injury, the broken back, just does not cross the threshold.
The threshold was designed -- it was designed; it was not an accident -- to exclude injuries of that severity. That is how the insurance industry is making itself an extra $823-million profit in the first year alone of this legislation. It is doing it by stealing money from little kids who are mowed down by drunk drivers, money that is rightly theirs by virtue of compensation for pain and suffering.
Loss of enjoyment of life? Not a penny, not a cent of compensation. We are talking about an innocent victim here. We are talking about somebody who did not contribute in any way, shape or form to her injury. We are talking about somebody who obeyed all the rules of the road and was the victim of the drunk.
The lost opportunity, the two years’ delayed entry into the workforce, surely that is compensable because it is so readily measurable. That youngster is two years behind his or her peers who have had two years of work by the time that kid even gets out of high school -- university or college or however far it is that kid is going to go in school -- and will never be able to recapture those two years or the lost income. Surely that child can be compensated and ought to be compensated for that two years’ delayed entry into the workforce, even in the most modest, the most conservative terms of lost income of perhaps $25,000 a year.
But again, does the Minister of Financial Institutions, does the Premier’s insurance scheme, compensate that child for that delayed entry into the workforce, for the two years’ lost wages? No, there is not a penny for that kid for compensation for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life or for economic loss by virtue of two years’ delayed entry into the workforce. We are not talking about a trivial or modest injury. We are talking about a broken back. The insurance industry knows exactly what this threshold is designed to do to victims across Ontario.
You want to know something, Mr Speaker? The insurance industry does not give a damn. Being what they are, they will take their money any way they can get it. As far as they are concerned, it is cash on the dash; money upfront. That is the nature of the business.
That is why the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres says that this scheme, Bill 68, specifically discriminates against children under 16. Bill 68 creates victims out of victims. What Bill 68 does, what the Liberals’ auto insurance scheme does -- it is not theirs alone. They should not get credit for all of it, because after all the insurance industry told them what to write. It was a co-operative effort, a joint effort. It is about as sleazy a bit of legislation as we have had a chance to look at in a long time.
We were talking about the individuals and the groups and the organizations that oppose Bill 68 and have said so at the committee hearings. I want to speed up because there are some other things I want to talk to today, which I have scheduled for today. I do not want them to interfere with tomorrow’s lineup.
The Ontario Federation of Labour, again representing hardworking men and women across Ontario, says: “Bill 68 is seriously flawed. In its current version, the bill will have significant and detrimental implications for the average working men and women who are our members.” Here is a bill that discriminates against youngsters. It is a bill that discriminates against hardworking people.
Listen to what the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens’ Organizations says. This is an organization that represents seniors: grandmothers, grandfathers, retired people who have worked hard all their lives, who have tried to save money, who live on modest pensions, people to whom we owe an unpayable debt because they have made our society a better one than what it was when they grew up as children. The Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens’ Organizations says this, “In our view, Bill 68 should be scrapped” -- as succinct and as precise as one could ever be. That is what senior citizens say about Bill 68, that it should be scrapped because it is going to hurt senior citizens.
That is why we oppose this motion for closure. That is why we insist on full, thorough debate both in committee of the whole and during third reading, because the interests and concerns of people like senior citizens -- perhaps it is wrong for me to even argue this. I know just too many of the seniors down in Welland-Thorold and I have too much regard for them, and sometimes I feel that perhaps, because of my respect and affection for the seniors in my riding, I get too emotionally involved when I argue about this insurance legislation.
Perhaps somebody who was more detached would not be so inclined on occasion, as I have, to become angry about what I hear from the insurance industry. The senior citizens of Ontario, the senior citizens of Welland-Thorold, have worked too hard for too long to be treated the way the Liberals are treating them in Bill 68 with this insurance scheme.
The Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens’ Organizations, representing seniors across Ontario, says, “In our view, Bill 68 should be scrapped” -- not amended, not tinkered with, but scrapped, dumped, placed on the trash heap where it belongs.
The Ontario Head Injury Association, another organization that looks out for victims, came with no axe to grind. No profit motive here; there is no money to be made in head injuries. You meet these people and you understand that their motive is a genuine passion and concern for the welfare of others who may find themselves in that same tragic plight.
The Ontario Head Injury Association says this: “If the whole issue of liability and subsequent right to compensation is to retain any integrity, the threshold has to provide reasonable access to litigation,” and it does not. The threshold is designed to keep people out of a compensatory scheme. That is what it is all about. That is how it generates these new, incredible profits for the auto insurance industry. That is why the threshold is so crucial.
We were up in Sudbury and the Minister of Financial Institutions announced through his parliamentary assistant that regardless of what happened, regardless of who said what to the committee, the threshold was going to remain intact, because they knew that that was the essential part of the legislation. That is what the member for Guelph told the committee and the public up in Sudbury. The fine member for Sudbury East was up there at the committee hearings with me. She was there and she was aghast, shocked and horrified.
It is just incredible to think that the government would prejudge the issue, until we find out about the secret agenda all along. The government never had any intention of letting these committee hearings change its mind one way or the other. It was a show trial, a sham, and people across Ontario know it full well. Let me tell the Minister of Financial Institutions that they know full well what a sham those hearings were. That is why we need full, thorough debate right here in the Legislature. That is why the Liberals will run from debate, and if they cannot run fast enough or far enough they will muzzle the opposition.
The Ontario Provincial Council of Labour once again succinctly, very precisely, says this, simply put, “The proposed Ontario motorist protection plan is totally unfair to the workers of our province.” The insurance scheme of the Liberals and the auto insurance industry is totally unfair to the workers of this province.
The Ontario Psychological Association -- my problem is that I hear these Liberals yapping off about the lawyers who oppose it. I have named group after group. I could see the lawyers were there, but we are not talking lawyers here. We are talking about the Ontario Provincial Council of Labour, the Ontario Psychological Association, the Ontario Head Injury Association, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens’ Organizations, the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres, the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association, the Lakehead University Student Union, the Labourers’ Provincial District Council of Ontario, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Employers’ Council on Workers’ Compensation. The lawyers in Ontario oppose Bill 68; so do these hundreds of thousands of other people.
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, representing thousands and thousands of fine, skilled men and women across Ontario who work hard educating our young people, said, “The legislation should include the right to sue for psychological pain and suffering,” because it does not. It denies persons suffering psychological pain and suffering from ever having a chance to pass that threshold, because the threshold specifically excludes those people. That means they can never be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
The Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists says. “It is our concern that the proposed system in fact sets up serious barriers to the process of rehabilitation itself.” The Ontario Teachers’ Federation says that Bill 68 is lacking in fairness and that it is punitive. “The Ontario Teachers’ Federation calls upon the government to withdraw Bill 68 and send it back for redrafting.”
I am going to go back to that list. I have not finished it, and I know that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere -- I know I cannot refer to him by name, which is why I refer to Mr Faubert as the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere -- was the one who, notwithstanding that I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday trying to explain -- last Thursday, last week it was. Even a numbskull would have recalled what I said last Thursday.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere said, “Which ones were it again who opposed it?” I do not mind him doing that, because that means he is paying attention. That means he is assessing the pros and cons. That means that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere maybe is just about ready to break free from the grip that the insurance industry has on them.
Let me tell members why we need full, complete debate on this, why it is such an important issue as to warrant, surely, far more than a couple of hours in committee and a couple of hours for third reading. I have here a memo from S.O. Mason Brokers Ltd on Division Street in Welland. It is dated 7 March 1990 and it is addressed to Denise Carter, 3 Lisa Court, Welland, Ontario. The subject is Wellington auto policy, Wellington Insurance Co. Catch this, Mr Speaker, and hold on to your chair because this one is going to throw you for a loop, let me tell you.
When Denise Carter phoned me up -- she phoned me up at night here in Toronto -- I thought for sure she had it mixed up, that she did not quite have it right, because I could not believe what she was telling me. I just could not believe it. Notwithstanding all those things that I called the insurance industry, and I meant them, notwithstanding all those things, I thought, “No, they could not go this far.” Catch this:
“Attached is a copy of your son Wade’s driving record from the Ministry of Transportation. Due to the four convictions in the past three years, the Wellington Insurance Co is unable to offer you a renewal.” This was sent out 7 March. Once again, we are not talking about Mother Teresas here, we are talking about an auto insurance industry that is as greedy as it ever has been. They are “holding you covered until March 22, 1990, and as of that date you will not have coverage with this office.
Incredible. Again, do not shoot the messenger. J. R. Mason is just a broker. They, like so many other brokers, have been concerned about what is happening in the insurance industry in Ontario as much as anybody, because they are merely the messengers. Now those members are saying, “Wait a minute, so what is the problem here?” They are saying, “Her son’s driving record shows four convictions in the past three years and that is why Wellington is dropping him. Oh, and quite right, they attached a record.”
Wade, who is going to be 20 years old this year, it would appear, had a speeding, 65 kilometres in a 50, a speeding, 60 in a 50 -- one is 15 over, one is 10 over -- improper use of seatbelts, speeding 60 in a 50, and they are cancelling Denise Carter’s insurance. They are saying, “But, you see, Wade is her son. Yes, but Wade does not live in Welland. Wade lives in Ottawa, some 600 kilometres away. What is the rationale when Wade lives 600 kilometres away? Wellington’s goal is to participate in that oblique flip, the oblique shuffle. Denise Carter has no more insurance coverage, and members know what happens when you get turned down by an insurance company, when you get told, “We are not going to renew.” As often as not, you get tossed into the Facility Association.
Denise Carter does not have a record. Her son Wade has not a really bad, horrendous record but a less-than-admirable record: three minor speedings and a seatbelt. But he lives in Ottawa. Here is a lady, Denise Carter, who probably ended up in Facility Association paying thousands and thousands of dollars a year for insurance because her son, who lives in Ottawa, has a bad driving record.
These are the insurance companies that the Minister of Financial Institutions is applauding for their fine spirit of generosity and their sense of charity. These are the insurance companies about which the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Financial Institutions are saying, “Do not worry, just trust them.” We could not trust them when it came time to setting premiums; how can we ever trust the insurance companies to determine what the benefits ought to be? Yet that is what this legislation is all about, because it denies the vast majority of people in Ontario -- 95 per cent of all innocent accident victims -- the right to use the courts to be compensated. And it does it by design; it does it by purpose. It is not a mere accident, It is very specific in that goal.
That is how we get the $1-billion payday for the auto insurance industry, by taking away innocent injured accident victims’ benefits to the tune of $823 million in the first year. Add to that the premium increases of as high as 50 per cent. Drivers in Ontario are going to be paying premiums as much as 50 per cent higher if this legislation is passed. That is a promise from the Minister of Financial Institutions. The Liberals are not prepared to keep very many of their promises. That is a promise from the Minister of Financial Institutions. You can bet your boots it is going to be kept.
The Liberals, with this legislation, are subsidizing the auto insurance industry in Ontario to the tune of at least $141 million in the first year alone with taxpayers’ money. That is a business that is already profitable. The insurance industry in Canada -- I told members this last week -- showed record high profits in 1989, profits that it had not seen in over eight years, profits that are going to constitute over $1 billion in profits in 1989 alone, and the Liberals here want to throw another $1 billion into that coffer.
That $1 billion is going to come from taxpayers, drivers and off the broken, torn bodies of innocent injured accident victims. That is where the money is coming from. The money designed to supplement, in an obscene way, the profits of the auto insurance industry is coming from the broken, torn bodies of the 12-, 13- and 14-year-old kids who are hit by drunk drivers, the ones I told members about a few minutes ago. Do members want to know something? It is the ultimate obscenity. I told members about the 12- or 13- or 14-year-old kid, totally without blame, an innocent injured victim, a broken back as a result of a drunk driver, who receives not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering, not a penny in compensation for loss of enjoyment of life, not a penny in compensation for the delayed entry into the workforce. Do members remember I told them about that?
I did not tell them -- and this is the topper, this one will end this story and leave all of us with the most repugnant sensation -- if that same drunk driver who smashes that kid to the pavement happens to, let’s say, jump the curb and hit a telephone pole after smashing that kid’s spine and dragging that kid’s body along the pavement and through the rubble and through the gravel so that the flesh is torn and the blood is staining the asphalt, if that drunk driver hits a telephone pole and bangs his or her head against the windshield and has to lose work for a month or two, that drunk driver is liable to collect up to $600 a week in income replacement from the insurance company, the same insurance industry that will not pay that kid a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life or lost opportunity.
Is that a fair system? No, that is a very Liberal system. It is a system that is designed not to be fair. It is not designed to be fair. We know that, oh, so well. And those hundreds and hundreds of people in Ontario who appeared at the committee -- and there were more but the Liberals strangled the life out of that committee by virtue of short-circuiting it and making sure it sat in the briefest period of time.
I pleaded with the members of that committee: “Please. Look, the House isn’t sitting. Committee members make extra money for every day that they sit with their committee.” The committee was only sitting four days a week, Monday through Thursday. It would not sit Monday morning. I knew there were tremendous backlogs of people who wanted to participate in those hearings. I knew that people were being turned away. I knew that the Liberal majority had made sure that those committee hearings were as brief as possible. I said: “Look, will you do this for those good people who want to talk to you about the legislation? Will you please sit Monday mornings? You’re being paid for it. Please sit Monday mornings to accommodate some of those people.” They would not do it.
I then said to the Liberals on the committee: “Look, you’ve got lots of good, hardworking men and women who work for livings who want to talk to you about this legislation and what Bill 68 is going to mean to them, their children, their neighbours, their families and their grandchildren, but they work at real jobs. Please sit in the evenings so that we can hear from them. It will do two things. It will enable us to hear more people and it will accommodate those hardworking people who can’t afford to lose a day’s or half a day’s pay to come and appear before the committee.”
The Liberal majority on that committee refused to sit in the evening. Do members want to know why? Because they do not give a tinker’s damn about working people, because they do not give a tinker’s damn about the people who would plead with them to drop that legislation. They have a bunch of clowns -- and I have said it before and it warrants saying right now -- who are so deep in the back pockets of the insurance industry that they are spitting out lint. Do members know one of the first issues to arise out of the course of committee hearings? It was the discovery that the members of the general government committee had been specific, personal beneficiaries of insurance company largess.
I mean, people like the member for Hamilton Centre had been the beneficiaries of insurance company contributions at election time. That is remarkable. One would have thought that a person who was in that position would at the very least have declared it so that we would know where she was coming from, and she was not alone. That is fair enough. Here is a committee that is supposed to be sitting, hearing submissions about Bill 68, a bill that is going to make the insurance industry oh, so much more profitable for automobile insurers, and the bottom line, in fairness, would have been for the members of that committee to reveal, to divulge to the rest of the committee and to the public that they had been greased by insurance companies at election time.
They have been greased by the insurance companies at election time. A little bit of grease, a little bit of payola -- I am sorry, these are donations. But it is for that very same reason that the Liberals do not want full debate during committee of the whole; it is for that very same reason that they do not want full debate during third reading.
Erskine May and Beauchesne both contain some valuable and valid commentary on closure motions. I want to tell the members what Beauchesne says about time allocation. That is what we are talking about right now.
Mr Kormos: Some dummy said I read that last week. The proof is in the pudding. I read from page 1; I am now reading from page 162. I am reading from Beauchesne and I suppose I should qualify the citation: Beauchesne’s Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, with Annotations, Comments and Precedents, sixth edition, 1989, published by Carswell.
“Time allocation is a device for planning the use of time” -- I will repeat that. “Time allocation is a device for planning the use of time during the various stages of consideration of a bill rather than bringing the debate to an immediate conclusion.”
That is remarkable, because what we have here by virtue of this time allocation motion is an attempt to stifle the opposition, to muzzle the opposition, to strangle the opposition, to crush the life out of the opposition, if it were at all possible. It is the most repugnant affront to parliamentary procedure and tradition that one could ever think of; it is the most repugnant affront to parliamentary tradition and procedure that one could ever imagine.
Mr Kormos: It was. I got back to Welland. I should tell the members, I live down on Bald Street in Welland. It is a wonderful neighbourhood of old houses, big maple trees, great neighbours. Joanne and Roger Bouchard are the best neighbours. I have got great neighbours. They look out for me like nobody could ever look out for anybody. I have got great neighbours. Roger and Joanne are very special people, Roger and Joanne Bouchard.
Mr Kormos: They are and I tell you, take care, Mr Speaker, because this has got a point. Roger and Joanne Bouchard are wonderful people. Joanne walks my dog twice a day, every day. Joanne makes sure the dog is well fed and of course, she cooks up treats for it.
To my shock and dismay, Joanne Bouchard had taken the dog to the vet. It was not that she had taken him to the vet, because indeed she is entitled to do it. I want her to do it. She cares about the dog. She came back to me on Friday with a letter from the vet, Main West Animal Hospital. They are great people and they have been great to Charlie. That is the beagle, Charlie the beagle. They have been great to Charlie, great to me, and they have taken care of him in times of need.
But the letter says, “Dear Mr Kormos,” because Charlie cannot read. Charlie is only a beagle. It said, “Charlie the beagle had his urine tested again at our office and it appears that his urinary tract infection has recurred.” The problem is that the remedy being suggested by the vet for Charlie is exactly what the Liberals want to do to the opposition. They want to neuter Charlie, they want to turn him into a eunuch.
But at least Charlie can get a second opinion. I tell members that the people of this province are ready for a second opinion on the Liberals. The people of this province want a chance to tell the Liberals what they think about their policies when it comes to regressive taxation, about their policies when it comes to auto insurance, about their policies when it comes to democracy, to parliamentary procedure. The people of Ontario want a chance to tell the Liberals what they think about the Liberal effort to gag the opposition, about the ultimate Liberal panacea: closure, restrict debate, impose the guillotine. That is the Liberal panacea.
Mind you, it is done not in the interest or the welfare of the people of Ontario, the workers of Ontario, the drivers of Ontario, because this legislation that they are talking about now and that they want to pass without debate is going to result in premium increases of as high as 50 per cent for the drivers of Ontario. Taxpayers are going to be dishing out another $141 million to $143 million to directly subsidize the auto insurance industry, and innocent injured victims are going to pay to the tune of $823 million.
I told you earlier, Mr Speaker, that what happened is in response to the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who was not able to recall how much opposition there was to Bill 68 at the general government committee hearings. Because he raised that to this Legislature this afternoon, that he was not able to recall the massive numbers of persons and groups making strong points in opposition to Bill 68 at the general government hearings, I had started listing them.
I got sidetracked talking about some of these other things because it is so difficult in such a short period of time. We are talking about such a compressed period of time, so much to be discussed, so much to be dealt with. We are talking about an incredibly extraordinary bit of conduct on the part of the Liberals and one that shows such thorough disdain not just for democracy, not just for the principles of parliamentary procedure, but for the people of Ontario, for the workers of Ontario, for the seniors. The numbers opposing Bill 68 are that is what this debate about closure is all about. It is because of the numbers of people opposing Bill 68, because of that, that it becomes all the more important that this Legislature not permit this motion to be successful.
As I say, my goal in the course of this discussion is to either persuade the House leader for the Liberals to withdraw the motion -- that would be the decent thing to do. The effect of withdrawing the motion would mean that we could then get on to Bill 68. But this motion represents such a significant threat to democracy in this province, it poses such a significant threat to democratic procedure and it poses such a significant threat to the role of the opposition, that we cannot let it go unchecked, we cannot let it go by with brief and trivial commentary. It requires and cries out for thorough consideration and thorough argument.
As I say, I am confident that if we are not able to persuade the House leader for the Liberals to withdraw the motion during the course of this debate, at the very least Liberal members will have learned enough about the insincerity of their own government, the insincerity of their own leader, to speak out against this type of draconian -- these are jackboot tactics, are they not? That is what the Liberals called it on Parliament Hill this week and last week when the Tories tried to impose closure on them. They said, “These are jackboot tactics.” That is what we call it at Queen’s Park when the Liberals try to stifle and muzzle opposition here in the provincial Legislature. We call it jackboot tactics.
This is for the benefit of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, who asked me to recite these again. You will recall, Mr Speaker, that I asked for your consent and approval prior to doing this because I was indeed repeating myself. I appreciate your consent and approval.
The Ontario Teachers’ Federation says no to Bill 68. Members should listen. The Ontario Teachers’ Federation says that Bill 68 is regressive, lacking in fairness, punitive. The Ontario Teachers’ Federation does not want amendments. They want this bill dumped. They want it thrown out on the trash heap where it belongs, with other garbage. That is what the Ontario Teachers’ Federation says.
The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan opposed Bill 68, too, and it did so at committee. If the minister had been there to hear them, he would know that. As it is, we are obligated to tell him. The reason we are obligated to tell him and the other members of this Legislature is that there is such significant and complete opposition to this bill that giving it short shrift during committee of the whole is to deny justice for all the people of Ontario. The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan says that Bill 68 does not fly, it will not wash, because serious psychological injury or impairment is denied by virtue of the threshold. You cannot be compensated for it.
Mr Kormos: Let me finish this, or else we are going to be here too long. If we do not make the most economical use of time, we are going to be here for an ungodly long time, Mr Speaker, and I do not want to interfere with anybody’s summer vacation. When does school get out?
The Police Association of Ontario says this: “As a result of these grossly unfair, even punitive loss-of-income provisions found in Bill 68, members will be forced to pay higher insurance premiums for income protection plans through their employees.” Again, insurance premiums are going to go tip and up with this legislation. Insurance premiums are going to go up higher than they have been for a long, long time, and compensation is going to go down. That is how the auto insurance industry is going to make unheard-of profits by virtue of the Liberals’ ramming this legislation through.
The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario opposed this legislation. The St Catharines and District Labour Council -- Mr Speaker, I am not going to be able to finish this particular list this afternoon.
I know members share with me in extending best wishes to Charlie the beagle and I know they share with me and him a hope that the second opinion shows more promise than the first one did, no disrespect to the West Main Animal Hospital. I know members join me in thanking Joanne Bouchard for tending to Charlie’s medical needs. We all wish him well.
In view of its being just shy of six of the clock, but two minutes -- fine, Mr Speaker, I saw you gesturing. I thought they were polite gestures; I did not realize that they were angry gestures. It looked for the briefest of moments as if we were on Highway 401 with each other, each trying to get off at the same exit and I was not letting you into the exit lane.
That gives me a chance to talk about the St Catharines and District Labour Council. Rob West of the St Catharines and District Labour Council said: “The burden placed on individual workers who may be required to use sick-leave credits or sick pay to offset the already limited responsibility of the insurance company for lost wages incurred by accident victims is unfair. Bill 68 must be scrapped.” That is what the workers in St Catharines and district are telling the Liberals. Again, the Liberals have not been listening, but that is of no great surprise, because these are working people and the Liberals do not listen to working people. They listen to the auto insurance industry because the auto insurance industry pads their pockets come election time.
The proof is in the pudding. We are talking about over $100,000 in the last provincial election, $100,000 given to the Liberals of Ontario as campaign contributions, over $100,000 of premium money. Drivers of Ontario wonder where their premiums are being spent? They wonder where their premiums are being spent? They are being spent on grease for Liberal candidates come election time, that is where.
The bottom line is that the Premier, in September 1987, promised a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. David Peterson, the leader of the Liberal Party, promised that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. That was not a promise.