Mr Cousens: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Yesterday during private members’ statements the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere took great pleasure in boasting about the government’s boost to transit users in the greater Toronto area. He made reference to me, the Progressive Conservative transit task force and also to some people. While he was blowing his party’s $5-billion horn, his comments about our party’s task force on transportation were distasteful and uncalled for.
If he had actually read the newspaper article which he was citing or, better yet, attended the event at the Scarborough Civic Centre, he would have realized that an improved infrastructure of bicycle paths in Metropolitan Toronto was one of many deputations made to the committee. Furthermore, to thousands of bicycle users across Metro and the GTA this is far from being a laughing matter.
His facetious comments were rude and insulting to Marius Ois who, along with many other residents of the member’s area, was concerned enough to take time out to share his views. I take great exception to a member of this House lauding a government initiative at the expense of decent, caring and intelligent people, many of whom live in the Scarborough area.
Mr Laughren: The results are now almost all in on the country-wide balloting on the Mulroney government’s much-hated goods and services tax. Almost 2.5 million Canadians will have voted, not only against the goods and services tax, but for fair taxes as well.
In Ontario, the latest count is over a million; 1,019,731 Ontario citizens voted against the GST and for fair taxes. I am emphasizing the fact that they were voting for fair taxes because we know that the provincial budget will be presented in this chamber in the not-too-distant future.
Despite the fact that this government refused to allow its employees 15 seconds to vote on that GST ballot, many of them did anyway. This government says that it is opposed to the GST, but at the same time it is falling all over itself to help the federal government collect it. They say they are opposed to the GST but will not allow their own employees to have 15 seconds on the job to vote against it. They say they are opposed to the GST, but at the same time they raised their own sales tax from seven per cent to eight per cent as well.
Mr Harris: I was pleased to read in the Toronto Star that the Minister of Municipal Affairs has requested a review of the housing development proposed in south Etobicoke. Although the parameters of this review were not specified, I would hope that the Ministry of Housing’s proposal for the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and Humber College lands would be included in this review. We all agree that there is a need to build more affordable housing for the people of Metropolitan Toronto, but not at the expense of losing one of the last pieces of Toronto’s waterfront as park land.
On 17 October 1989 the Premier announced his commitment to ensure “the preservation, protection and prudent use of Toronto’s waterfront as an accessible and attractive place for people.” He endorsed the interim report of the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront and he announced the appointment of the member for St Andrew-St Patrick to develop a greater Toronto greenlands strategy. The minister should give meaning to the Premier’s statement by delaying redevelopment of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and Humher College lands until we have heard from Mr Crombie, until we have heard from the member for St Andrew-St Patrick.
It is the most significant date in Croatian history for most Croatians in Canada and the world over. April 10 means a rebirth of their nation, the reaffirmation of their existence, a reattachment to their roots, the preservation of their culture and the end of over 800 years of oppression under various colonial empires.
Let me state quite clearly that those who oppose the celebration of April 10 do not question its historic significance. Instead, they are opposed to the very idea of Croatian nationhood, of Croatian independence and of Croatian self-determination.
As fervent supporters of the democratization process in eastern Europe, Croatian Canadians hope their relatives take their cue from Lithuania and declare their independence following the elections this month. April 10 will retain its significance until it is upstaged by a date, on the near horizon, when the country of their ancestors arises anew, free, independent, sovereign and democratic.
Mr Mackenzie: For construction workers in Ontario today, few issues rate higher than the problem of inadequate toilet and washroom facilities on construction sites. Health and safety is a major concern but is followed closely by the personal and practical matter of toilet and washroom hygiene. Indeed, there is an obvious and close connection between health and safety and clean and adequate washrooms.
This government currently has two resolutions in Orders and Notices to resolve this matter. The first is in my name and clearly outlines the steps suggested by members of the building trades in dealing with this matter at their convention. This is a long-standing concern of construction workers and a matter I have been raising for some time. The second resolution is an abbreviated version in the name of the government member for Hamilton Centre.
It is unlikely that any member would oppose this practical and long-overdue move to washroom cleanliness, unless the construction industry opposes it, and of course we all know its influence on this Liberal government. Surely such opposition would not overrule common sense.
There is no reason why this government should not move immediately to correct this problem. It would pass without opposition, I suspect, and I call on the government to proceed with one of the resolutions on the order paper or one of its own drafting.
Mr Cousens: I am very pleased to present to each of the members of the Ontario Legislature a copy of the annual directory of the York Technology Association. I have a copy here. It was unveiled last week by the Deputy Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, Len Pitura, at a meeting of the technology association in Markham.
Close to 150 people were present at that luncheon as we unveiled this, our 1990 capability showcase, a directory of the high-tech companies in North York. Scarborough and South York regions that are working together to promote the high-technology industry. It is a subject that is very important to all of us in this House, and I think that other members will be interested in the kind of capabilities that are being done by the free market.
The companies that are participating in this association, which is the largest association in the country of its type, are all doing this without government support per se. They might come for the odd loan but they are doing it primarily in support of the free enterprise system.
I am very pleased that we have had excellent support from the minister and his department, but also from those who have put together this publication from Maclean Hunter and from our editorial crew, Mrs Veronica Cluett and the people in the association.
Miss Roberts: I rise today to commend the city of St Thomas on the implementation of its paratransit service. In a society where senior citizens and people with disabilities encounter numerous barriers to living full and independent lives, it is the responsibility of all of us, and particularly those of us in government, to help break down those barriers and to create a society where everyone has equal opportunities.
It is as part of this effort that I approached my colleague the Minister of Transportation to work with the city to improve the transportation services in my riding so as to make them accessible to both disabled persons and senior citizens. Through the ministry’s municipal transit program, the city of St Thomas is now in a position to offer its special transit service to both senior citizens and disabled persons. All advocates of this project ought to be commended for their efforts.
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Rosemary Colledge of the Elgin county chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Marlene Eveland and Colin Tyler of the St Thomas-Elgin Access Awareness Association, and the members of the city’s paratransit advisory committee who have demonstrated an enormous commitment to improving the quality of life for our disabled people. The credit for the St Thomas paratransit service is in large measure their effort. I wish this service every success.
Mr Kormos: It is important that we spend a few moments talking about the liquor store employees here in the province of Ontario. Down in the Niagara Peninsula, we have some 100 employees in approximately 20 stores, two of the stores in Welland, one of them in Thorold.
These hard-working men and women do a number of things besides merely stock the shelves and ring up sales on the cash register. Why? They make sure that underage purchasers are not allowed to buy alcohol or wines. They make sure that Ontario products -- and in Niagara, Niagara products -- get priority when customers ask to be referred to a particular wine or beverage. They make sure that shrinkage is kept at a minimum. They make sure that the stores are run efficiently and effectively.
This government, the Liberals in Ontario, are threatening the livelihood of those same good men and women, people like Peter Battista, Nick Tancredi. Denise Stewart and Andy Thivierge. These people are being faced with tragic layoffs as a result of this government’s trend towards privatization. It is a trend that echoes what the federal government did with free trade: that is to say, those jobs that were not destroyed by the Tories in Parliament Hill by virtue of free trade are now being destroyed by the Liberals by virtue of their policy of privatization.
People like Phil Stevenson and Charlene Burger are too important to their communities, and the communities of Welland and Thorold will not tolerate any effort on the part of this government, these Liberals, to destroy jobs in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores in Niagara.
Mr Eves: I would like to bring to the attention of this House a very serious and urgent matter. Six-year-old Elizabeth Lue from Scarborough has aplastic anaemia, a rare and extremely serious blood disorder. A massive search is under way to find a bone marrow donor for Elizabeth. She is of Chinese descent, and the chance of finding a suitable donor in the Chinese community is one in 4,000. To date, 3,700 people have donated blood to be tested, but a bone marrow donor has not yet been found.
Because of the quantity involved, the blood samples have to be sent to the American Red Cross to be tested at a cost of $75 per test, which is not covered by OHIP. Although $140,000 has been raised so far, the total cost now stands at over $275,000. The campaign to save Elizabeth is in serious jeopardy unless funding for more blood testing can be found. Doctors say that without treatment, Elizabeth will likely die within a month.
The government must assist with the funding of this lifesaving endeavour. We have seen the community rally around Elizabeth; it is now the Ontario government’s turn. The search for a donor for Elizabeth will also benefit future patients in need of a bone marrow transplant. All of the people tested so far are being added to an international bone marrow registry. Time is running out for Elizabeth. We must act now.
Mr Daigeler: It is a true honour to extend congratulations to Dr Satya Bhatnagar of my riding. Dr Bhatnagar last week received the province’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. I am very pleased to see a member of my city recognized in this fashion.
He has been especially active in organizing fund-raising events for a variety of children’s organizations, including the Ontario Society for Crippled Children. Dr Bhatnagar has arranged for children’s concerts that showcase the talents of Ottawa area children in dance, music and theatre. Proceeds from these concerts went to the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton. His ongoing support for this organization has recently earned him an honorary life membership in the children’s aid society. Dr Bhatnagar is also one of the founding members of the Multicultural Society for Children.
In his volunteer work, he has drawn together organizations and individuals from a wide range of ethnic, cultural, racial and religious communities. His caring and concern has inspired numerous adults and children to become volunteers, not only from his own Indian ethnic community but from other areas of life as well.
The Deputy Speaker: Before we proceed, I would ask all members of the Legislative Assembly to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery the Solicitor General for the province of Alberta, the Honourable Dick Fowler and the Attorney General for the province of Alberta, the Honourable Ken Rostad. Please join me in welcoming our guests.
Taking note of the remarkable degree of public opposition being expressed to the goods and services tax by citizens of this province and across Canada, I wonder if the Treasurer can explain the decision on the part of his government to add the provincial sales tax to the GST if and when the GST comes in. I wonder if the Treasurer can justify that kind of decision, because I am sure he would agree with me that it certainly leaves one with the impression that the province of Ontario is living off the avails of the goods and services tax.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The Leader of the Opposition puts it in his own inimitable prose, and in his own inimitable way he is misinformed. The retail sales tax is levied on top of whatever the cost of the goods that we tax happens to be. That includes at the present time the manufacturers’ sales tax, so the province has been collecting tax on tax since the tax was inaugurated in about 1961.
The honourable member would know that if the goods and services tax proceeds there will be a much broader base and much of the base will not be taxed by our sales tax at all, but if we were to forego putting the provincial tax on top of the federal tax we would lose in revenue about $500 million to $600 million. The honourable member may have some alternative for making that up, such as increasing our rate of tax or decreasing support for the opposition parties, something like that, but in fact it is a serious matter when the honourable member would indicate that by changing our policy we would forego about $500 billion. It is not our intention to do that.
Mr B. Rae: The Treasurer has often used that figure. I wonder if he would be kind enough to tell the House, since he has such an accurate accounting, how much Ontario stands to gain in strict revenue terms by adding the retail sales tax to the GST. He must have that calculation. Can he please tell us what it is.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have already told the honourable member, putting the question the other way, how much we would lose if we did not proceed with our policy, which is the same policy that has prevailed in the province since 1961. The answer is, just under $600 million.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Treasurer still stands by the figure he gave, or at least officials in his ministry gave, since he is not willing to share this number with the people of Ontario. Perhaps he would confirm the figure that came out last August 1989. It is that on the most conservative figures provided by the Treasury of Ontario, Ontario’s Treasury stands to gain some $170 million, which can be described as living off the avails of the GST by the Ontario government, adding a tax on a tax. By adding his tax on to this tax he is increasing his revenues by $170 million according to figures he used back in 1989.
I want to ask the Treasurer specifically this question: Is that figure still the figure he is using? If not, what is the figure he is using and can he deny that the effect of what the provincial government is doing is that for all its formal protestations it is going to help the federal government collect the sales tax where it parallels the retail sales tax in Ontario? That is the first thing he is going to do for the GST, and the next thing he is going to get off the avails of the GST is to increase his own revenues by at least $170 million.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have told the honourable gentleman as clearly as I possibly can, and he refuses to accept it, that if we were to change our policy we would have to increase the rate of the taxation by about three quarters of a per cent. If he is urging me to increase the sales tax, then perhaps those people who are interested in the tax base in the province should know about it right now, that the New Democratic Party favours an increase in sales tax. Certainly we do not want to do that. We should also make it clear, since we are both talking with a certain degree of hyperbole, that we have offered to provide some assistance with this tax. The federal government has indicated clearly that it is going it alone.
Mr Brandt: My first question is also for the Premier and in view of the fact that he has not yet arrived, I will stand down the first leader’s question. I ask that I be allowed to give the second leader’s question to the member for Parry Sound.
Mr Eves: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Could the minister tell us what she knows about a confidential initiative that her deputy minister is participating in to merge the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the member opposite that, as he knows, we have undertaken discussions on long-term care reform. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Office for Disabled Persons and the Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs are discussing implementation of a significant initiative.
I would like to read to the minister from one page, and I quote, signed by her deputy minister, “The project will be considered as an internal government study and will not involve any public consultation.” What does the minister have to say about that? Does she think that is an appropriate way to go about merging two of the three biggest ministries in the Ontario government?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows full well from his time in government, governments set policy decisions and deputies and the bureaucracy then implement those decisions. As he knows, there are many policy decisions that are under consideration. Long-term care is a very significant and important one.
Mr Eves: Is the Minister of Health telling us that she does not see anything wrong? Without asking for input from health care providers, those in the health care field and those in the areas of community and social services who provide services, she is just going to go ahead with her own little private initiative, make up her mind what she is going to do, and then hold a sham of public hearings and ask for public input afterwards, after she has decided what she wants to do.
I will read to her the next paragraph in the same memo that her deputy signed. “Decisions on public input will be made following completion of recommendations for a high-level design of a possible new ministry.” In other words, she is going to talk to the public after she has decided to create this new ministry, after she has decided what she is going to do, as they do with so many other things over there. Then she is going to ask the public how she is going to spend $20 billion of their money every year.
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite could not be more off base. I have to tell him that in fact at the present time there is an interministerial task force on long-term care reform which is consulting and discussing widely with all of the groups that have an interest in reform of a system, in fact reform of a non-system, called long-term care. It is a very significant initiative and I can tell him that I am proud of the level of consultation that has begun and that will continue to go on. I would say to him that his theatrics are unbecoming.
Mrs Grier: I would like to address another question to the Minister of the Environment on that issue, because when the Leader of the Opposition asked the minister what protection this employee might have, because of his actions in blowing the whistle on his employer’s violations of the Environmental Protection Act, the minister read from sections of the Environmental Protection Act and strongly asserted that the employee in question, Alan Marshall, was thoroughly protected. Three days later Mr Marshall was fired.
I would like to ask the minister today whether he still considers that this individual, who in attempting to protect the environment had talked to the public, had talked to the media and had talked to the ministry officials, has any rights to protect his employment.
Hon Mr Bradley: He most certainly does, as I indicated to the member for York South when he asked the same question about a week ago, I think it was, in the House. I indicated that under section 134b of the Environmental Protection Act there is protection, and it is through the Ontario Labour Relations Board, Statutes of Ontario, 1983, chapter 52, section 22. It says:
“No employer shall, (a) dismiss an employee; (b) discipline an employee; (c) penalize an employee; or (d) coerce or intimidate or attempt to coerce or intimidate an employee, because the employee has complied...with,” and it lists the various environmental acts that we have in the province of Ontario, “or a regulation under one of those acts or an order, term or condition, certificate of approval, licence, permit or direction under one of those acts or because the employee has sought or may seek the enforcement of one of those acts or a regulation under one of those acts or has given or may give information to the ministry or a provincial officer or has been or may be called upon to testify in a proceeding related to one of those acts or a regulation under one of those acts.”
Clearly the legislation does protect this individual and he will receive that protection appropriately before the Labour Relations Board. If he feels that his dismissal or layoff or whatever the terminology that is being used is a result of this, he may certainly through the Ontario Labour Relations Board utilize this section of the act to protect himself.
Mrs Grier: I think the minister is quite wrong and I think the minister is in grave danger of misleading people in this province who feel they have the right to protect the environment. The danger exists because the act he has quoted to us very clearly says that the employee is --
Mrs Grier: The section of the legislation that the minister has quoted, now for the second time, clearly protects an employee who refuses to pollute, and it protects an employee who gives information to the ministry or a provincial officer. The employee I am referring to spoke to a citizens’ environmental group, spoke to the media and spoke to the Ministry of the Environment.
Can the minister explain why he has refused to bring in environmental rights legislation that would make it very clear that, as he says, an employee is protected. The legislation does not say the employee is protected. Why has he refused to bring in clear environmental rights for such employees?
Hon Mr Bradley: It is obvious that it is quite clear under this particular act, and what I read to the member is quite clear. He has the right, obviously, by protection under this particular act. There is not the kind of situation that the member believes exists. In fact the member would know that, in other situations, this has been invoked. The Ministry of the Environment has assisted someone in another situation that was confronted with the same type of information being provided.
Since the information was provided to the Ministry of the Environment -- a provincial officer, it says, or to the ministry -- then obviously this section of the act is going to apply. It is going to apply in this case. I am sure that I certainly appreciate the assistance Mr Marshall has provided to this ministry. Since the Ministry of the Environment was at the meeting where this information was provided to the environmental group and to the ministry, he certainly has the protection that exists under section 134b of the Environmental Protection Act. It is there. It is designed to protect those kinds of people. We appreciate what he has done and we are already in the process of contacting him to assist him in this regard.
Mr Harris: My question is to the Minister of Health. According to the minister’s plan to reorganize and merge the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services into one ministry, one action identified under step 4 of this document is -- I am quoting; this is a ministry document -- “Prepare a high-level organizational structure for the new ministry in terms of divisions and activities within divisions. Prepare a preliminary branch structure,” and it goes on to spell out how the project will go even further to develop a consistent high-level field structure and responsibilities.
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite knows very well that we appointed a joint assistant deputy minister who would look at how Health and Comsoc could work very closely together. I would tell him that most of the constituent groups that I have spoken to and that my colleagues have spoken to greet very positively the fact that Health and Comsoc, the Office for Disabled Persons and the Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs are working together to serve the people of the province of Ontario.
Mr Harris: The document says, “The purpose of this project is to design a new ministry dealing with health and social services and bringing the two ministries together.” That is what the document says the purpose is, so despite what the minister says, this document details the secret plans to present the public with a fait accompli before anyone has a chance to comment.
I tell members it is becoming a pattern: Sunday shopping, free trade, Meech Lake, lot levies, you name it. First the Peterson government makes a decision behind closed doors and then it sends it out for some token hearings before ramming it down our proverbial throats. This is a major, massive $19-billion health and social services shake-up, and once again the public is shut out.
My question is this: Why on earth will the minister not commit it to a full and open public consultation process today with the partners, those on the front line, those who are actually delivering the services, before she makes her decisions behind closed doors?
Hon Mrs Caplan: One year ago in this Legislature my colleague tabled the principles of long-term care, committed to full consultation with the partners and announced a joint assistant deputy minister to implement the principles as they were tabled. There has been much discussion and there will continue to be, because we believe in an open consultative process with our partners as we move to improve services to the people of this province.
Mr D. W. Smith: I have a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In February of this year the minister released a discussion paper on charitable gaming in Ontario, entitled Putting the Charities Back in the Driver Seat, which outlined a number of areas in which the ministry believed reforms to the regulatory framework were needed. The deadline for responses to this discussion paper was 30 March 1990. Charitable groups in my area, as well as other areas, are very interested in the course of action to be taken. Because charitable dollars are becoming ever more scarce and the need for the services of charitable organizations is becoming ever more important, I too am concerned about the plight of these charities.
I realize the deadline has only recently passed and the minister may not have had an opportunity to review all the submissions he has received, but can he tell this House what the initial response has been to his discussion paper?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am glad to hear my friend raise that issue, because as he points out we published a document that proposes to change fairly significantly the rules and regulations relating to charitable gaming in the province of Ontario. If I might just suggest to members of the House why we are doing this, I will tell them that the rules we have right now were created some 20 years ago under an exemption under the Criminal Code, which simply provided an opportunity for the classic model of church basement bingo, if you like.
Since that time charitable gaming has developed, primarily through commercial bingo halls, into a $600-million enterprise in the province of Ontario, and the rules we have right now are simply not appropriate to handle that sort of sophisticated business.
In addition to the consultation document going out and the responses coming in, I have had an opportunity to meet with groups all around the province, in London, Ottawa, Guelph, Windsor and just last Friday in Tilbury, to hear from the charities themselves about the kinds of problems they are having. The thing that has really impressed me is the extent to which people all over this province work on a volunteer basis to raise money for their enterprises, and they do it through this model. We hope within a few months to have a better regulatory model for them.
Mr D. W. Smith: By way of supplementary, I would like to tell the minister that the groups in my area are particularly concerned about one thing, which is regulation of the commercial halls. There was a moratorium put in place to stop more construction of these halls, and this has in fact put a lot of pressure on the charities working in there. I guess they feel they are somewhat hampered when the managers of the halls decide they can be holding a charity. I just wonder if you are going to be able to balance and return charitable gaming to the charities here in the long run.
My friend mentions the moratorium. Just to remind the members of the House, my wise and capable predecessor, the member for Windsor-Sandwich, instituted a moratorium on the expansion of this sector by way of a decision not to allow for the development of any new commercial bingo operations in the province until we had a better regulatory model.
The thing that is absolutely clear in all of this is that the government must have the authority to license commercial operations. Under a licensing mechanism, we would therefore be able to inspect and audit all these operations and do that for one primary purpose, and that is to ensure that the charities are getting all and every single cent that is due to them in this volunteer work they do operating licensed charitable gaming, primarily bingo, all over the province.
We are going to put the charities back in the driver’s seat. We are going to be licensing the commercial operations, and when those regulations are in place, then we will be able to lift the moratorium that my friend talks about.
Mr Farnan: My question is for the Minister of Labour. These are pink slips. It is a form the minister will be familiar with. A worker receives a form like this when he loses his or her job. On my desk are a large number of pink slips, and each pink slip represents the loss of one job. There will be 1,250 workers in Cambridge and Woodstock who will lose their jobs as four clothing plants and the head office of TAG Apparel Group close permanently later this month.
How does the minister have the nerve to call himself the Minister of Labour when he is prepared to sacrifice workers to the barracudas of the marketplace, leaving the workers, in the case of bankruptcy, without any protection for their wages, severance pay or vacation pay?
Hon Mr Phillips: I share the concern of all members in the House when we see a layoff and people losing their jobs. Each one of these is a very real human tragedy. We are very fortunate in the province that over the last five years we have been able to see jobs created at a rate that has reduced unemployment from around 10 per cent down to less than six per cent. In spite of that, there are still tragic cases, as the member points out, where we do have layoffs. We do step in, and our employment standards branch works with companies to attempt to ensure that the workers are paid their back wages and their vacation pay and paid for their severance at termination.
However, in the case of a bankruptcy, it is sometimes difficult to recover the wages. We have been urging the federal government to take steps to ensure that in the case of a bankruptcy, wages are protected. To date, we have been unable to persuade the federal government to move on that, but we will not stop, because indeed it is a human tragedy in each case.
Mr Farnan: The workers of Ontario do not want the sympathy of this Labour minister; they want action. The Brown commission reported in 1985 and recommended protection for workers of wages, severance pay and vacation pay. For five years now this Liberal government has done absolutely nothing to protect workers when a company goes bankrupt. No doubt the minister is comforted that his Liberal friends in the banking community, shareholders and creditors, will all have a piece of the pie, leaving only the crumbs, if anything, for the workers.
Will the minister outline to the Legislature the specific steps the Liberal government has taken and will take to protect the rights of workers to the moneys owed to them when a company goes bankrupt? It is time he acted. He should not shove this off on the feds.
Hon Mr Phillips: Again, I would remind the member that in the case of bankruptcies, it is clearly a federal matter. We have constantly urged the federal government to act in this matter. There is something called the Constitution that we all must recognize, so in the case of bankruptcies, it clearly is a federal matter that we are urging and pushing the federal government on.
Having said all of that, if you look at the severance programs in this province, there is no province that has a more comprehensive severance program than we have. If you look at the activities of the Premier’s Council, for the last year it has been preparing a report specifically on these issues.
So while we might like to step into the federal jurisdiction, it is clear that in bankruptcies, it is the federal government’s responsibility. We will continue to urge them to act in this important area.
Mr Villeneuve: My question is of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The minister’s records will show that in April 1986, fully four years ago, the Premier promised the St Albert Co-operative Cheese Manufacturers Association that he would solve its quota problems. I have a photograph. It was a great photo of the Premier, the member for Ottawa East and the member for Prescott and Russell. The minister knows that the co-op was founded in 1894 and is still not getting enough milk to meet the demand for its fresh cheddar cheese and curds sold over the counter.
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am quite happy to address this question from my friend the critic from the third party today. I would like to almost pose the question back that I would hope that the member is in support of the supply management system of this province, because that is what he is questioning. He is questioning the very heart of that system.
Hon Mr Ramsay: The member knows that at this particular time this issue is before me, as the people at the St Albert cheese co-operative have asked me to review the decision of the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal. I am in the process of doing that. As he knows, by the 16th of this month, I will be rendering a decision on that, so that at this time it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.
The ruling made by the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal has been appealed, and one item not in the appeal is whether or not milk made into fresh cheddar cheese or curd could be exempt from the planned supply quota rationing system. Will the minister agree to follow this route and look at creating an entirely new classification for fresh cheddar cheese and curd products, and is he willing to meet with representatives of the co-operative to try to finally iron this out? It has been four years. It has to be addressed.
Hon Mr Ramsay: In an attempt to answer all the questions the member has posed, it would be inappropriate at this time to meet with the members of the co-op, but after the period that I have rendered my review, I would be happy to do that.
The member must know that the second issue he brought up today about the separate classification for fresh milk going into production of cheese is something that the Farm Products Marketing Board will be looking at separately. I would like to tell the member that in another hour I will be announcing the restructuring of the Farm Products Marketing Board. I think that it will be more flexible and it will be looking at that first challenge to see how flexible it can be.
Ms Poole: My question is for the Minister of Housing. On Thursday, the minister indicated that provincial funding for tenant hotlines in Ottawa and Metropolitan Toronto would be withdrawn for two reasons. First, a province-wide 1-800 rent review hotline would be more cost-effective and, second, there had been a growing demand for provincial funding for tenant hotlines in other centres.
I would ask the minister if he would consider instead a formula whereby if both the local tenants’ federation and the municipality make a commitment of funds to a tenants’ hotline then the province would provide matching funds.
Hon Mr Sweeney: I want to recognize my honourable colleague’s interest in this subject. I also want to tell her that I am impressed by the fact that the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations and Metro council are considering putting some of their own money into this. I presume that is a “maybe,” not a “definite” yet, but anyway, I would clearly say to her that is a legitimate response and I would certainly encourage them to do so.
However, I would say to my honourable colleague that the responsibility of the provincial government is to provide a provincial service, not just a local one, and that if those two organizations want to provide a local service as well, I would certainly encourage them to do so. I point out to her that in just seven days the service we are now offering has answered 163 calls, 93 of them from the central region, 44 of them from the eastern region and 26 from the southwestern region. I think that is a clear indication that we are now serving the entire province, rather than just two cities.
Mr Faubert: This situation is causing some anxiety among tenants, who are concerned that the loss of this hotline may reduce their options when looking for advice and direction, as opposed to simply an interpretation of the legislation. The suggestion by the member for Eglinton may not only allow this service to continue but would also maintain the minister’s concern about efficiency and effectiveness across the province. Can the minister ensure that the funding for the hotline will continue during the period in which this suggestion is being considered?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I accept my colleague’s observation that we need to consider both types of services and I assure him that we have already indicated both to the Federation of Ottawa-Carleton Tenants Associations and the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations that we would extend their service and the funding for their service for two months beyond the time when we would start the provincial one.
We have also indicated to the tenants’ legal service that its contract will run for an additional seven months, so that will give us an opportunity over the next two months and then over the next seven months to clearly compare the service that is being offered, the efficiency and the productivity of the resources that we have.
I wonder whether the Premier can tell us whether he still feels as he did last June, that a public inquiry was the only way to re-establish public confidence in the conduct of public officials and in the integrity of the political system of which he is the nominal leader.
Hon Mr Peterson: There were a number of allegations at the time, as my honourable friend knows, a number of allegations made in this House, some by him. Some of the allegations, the member will recall, that he made specifically were quite wrong and he had to stand up in this House and apologize for that. He will remember that. It was a very supercharged atmosphere and we felt it was a reasonable approach, given the circumstances.
Mr B. Rae: The reason I ask the question is that it is perfectly clear that this government has an awful lot at stake. Indeed, I think it is not too much to say that there is a great deal that this government would rather not have revealed, whether in a public inquiry or in any other way.
I want to ask the Premier very specifically this question. Since he said last June that he needed a public inquiry to re-establish confidence in the system and since he has said again today that is the reason he called for a public inquiry and considering that he has had time to reflect on the Supreme Court decision, exactly what is it that is stopping him from holding a broader inquiry into the question of how such a degree of outside influence could have been exercised on his government and what is precisely the relationship between the Liberal Party and the development industry?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend is extremely promiscuous in his use of words and his imputation of motive. Mr Speaker, you will want to review very carefully, the kinds of things that this member has said in the House today and on other occasions. I just tell my honourable friend that a lot of the things he has said in here are factually incorrect, and if he were honourable, he would stand up and admit that.
Mr B. Rae: I understand from the press reports that the Premier indicated that an inquiry into the allegations of child abuse at St Joseph’s Training School for Boys in Alfred had not at all been ruled out by his government but that he basically was going to be waiting for the criminal investigation process to be completed before he would make such a decision.
We have now had, allegedly, according to the Premier’s government, according to the Attorney General, an aggressive police inquiry going on into the events surrounding the Houlden inquiry for over a year.
Why would the Premier not make the same statement in the House today that he made outside with respect to this particular set of issues, and that is to say that once he has completed the criminal investigation, once that process is over and a definite decision has been made as to whether he will or he will not lay criminal charges, why would he not also say, as he said last June, that people must be confident that “All public officials, whether elected or appointed, are people of integrity and I insist that the democratic system depends on the public trust and faith in the integrity of their public officials”?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think if my honourable friend wants to quote me, he wants to quote me accurately. I did say yesterday that the Supreme Court of Canada has made new pronouncements with respect to the question of inquiries. Anything that is done, obviously, has to be under the purview of this new ruling, and the difference between the two is quite simple. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled very specifically on the case at hand. That is the difference and it is not that hard to understand.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Premier as well. Back on 24 June of last year the Premier was quoted as having said on the day the Houlden inquiry was called, and I quote him directly and accurately, that he knows “of no special relationship between our government and the development industry, but that is not what the appearance tends to be, and we’ve got to get to the root of it.”
Does the Premier stand behind the words he used on 24 June 1989? Does he believe that there is at the very least a perceptual problem with respect to certain links between the government and the development industry, and does he believe that has to be rooted out?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think we have said on many occasions that a police investigation has to come first. That is what is proceeding at the present time and that is the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada. That is not particularly difficult to understand. I am sure my honourable friend has read the judgement. He has a highly trained legal mind and he will understand the directive of the Supreme Court.
Mr Brandt: We have read the judgement and we know there are certain differences of opinion with respect to the very narrow interpretation being taken by the Attorney General and the position, I might add, being taken by the opposition parties. In that connection, yesterday we set forward the first step of a six-step plan to see if we can break the logjam over this issue now that the Premier has set aside any possibility of an inquiry being held as it relates to the Houlden inquiry.
I say to the Premier that yesterday we placed, through the House leader of our party, the member for Parry Sound, a series of questions that we have asked the Speaker of the House to respond to. I have today tabled with the Premier another five steps that I believe to be reasonable and responsible. I do not believe the steps being suggested conflict in any way with the Supreme Court ruling. Will the Premier at the very least take those steps under consideration?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend just sent me over a press release, and I have referred it to the Attorney General for his wise and thoughtful analysis of the situation. If by chance, by some rare stroke, the member has something specific, new and constructive to contribute, we will take it under advisement.
Mr Brandt: I know full well that no one other than the Premier and his government, who are the fount of all wisdom, would have any ideas or suggestions that might be of any application to this particular problem. But let me suggest to him that the problem continues as it relates to the matters that were under review by the Houlden inquiry. Those matters, in our view, if left to the decision of the government are going to carry on for some period of time without any decision coming forward with respect to the activities of certain people.
Hon Mr Peterson: As I said to my honourable friend, I have not had a chance to review them. The Attorney General will, and if by any chance there is something constructive -- I know how well-motivated the member is in all these matters -- we will take that into consideration when we do the analysis he has come to. We also take into account the extensive legal training he has had in putting this forward. I thank him for his constructive addition to the debate.
Mr Wildman: I have a question to the Minister of Transportation. The minister will know that there has been for some time a considerable controversy about the safety at the Echo Bay bridge location in the township of Macdonald on Highway 17 east of Garden River Reserve in Sault Ste Marie. There has been a large number of accidents over the years because of poor visibility, whiteouts in winter, fog in spring and fall. Can the minister explain why his ministry appears unwilling to investigate the possibility of special lighting to improve visibility in this location and to make highway travelling more safe in that area?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member would want to know that we have been doing exactly that; we have been investigating the possibility of some special lighting. I think the honourable member would want to know and would want to acknowledge that the fog conditions and the whiteout conditions which have caused, by my recollection, two accidents this past winter in that immediate area can be so serious that no amount of lighting can resolve the issue. I understand that both of the accidents occurred during daylight hours this winter, but I do want to say to the honourable member that we are currently looking at whether low-level sodium lighting would be appropriate in the bridge and the immediate vicinity.
Mr Wildman: I appreciate the minister’s response. I want to point out that initially the ministry’s position was that there was no kind of lighting that could resolve the problem. After that initial response, there was a five-car pile-up at that very same location.
Could the minister indicate when his ministry’s investigations will be complete and when his staff will be in touch with the township of Macdonald, Meredith and Aberdeen Additional council to indicate what plans the ministry has to try and improve highway traffic travelling in that area?
Hon Mr Wrye: We have, by and large, completed our technical evaluation of the situation as it exists in the area. There has been a determination made that, from a technical point of view, this low-level lighting can be helpful in these whiteout and fog conditions. In some other conditions, we would have to depend on the Ontario Provincial Police who move very quickly and are well aware of the very peculiar weather patterns and weather conditions which can spring up, as the honourable member knows, very suddenly.
I will need a short period of time in which to sit down with my officials, probably early next week, to review this matter. Then, I give the honourable member an assurance, he and the officials in his riding will be notified immediately.
Mr Wiseman: The question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. I am sure the minister is aware that the deer population in Ontario has increased greatly, in eastern Ontario as well. I have a number of farmers -- apple producers, vegetable producers and now, at the latest, beef farmers -- who are having trouble with their new seeding and the deer pulling it out by the roots. A farmer phoned me last Friday and counted as many as 50 deer eating off his new seeding. He felt that he would have to rework the whole field and seed it again.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I appreciate the question that the honourable member has raised. I know this is an issue of concern to farmers and to managers of woodlot areas across southern Ontario. The issue of compensation has not been one that my ministry has been involved in, in relationship to this problem, but we have been very much involved in the management of the deer herds and the growth in population of the deer herds. As I think the honourable member will know, we are concerned to manage that population growth in ways which are sensitive to the values of effective management of the animal population.
We have been able to successfully carry out controlled hunts in two counties this past fall, as well as successful controlled deer hunt in Long Point, with the consent of the federal government. We are also looking at a controlled hunt as a possible management approach to the deer population in Rondeau Park. I think we can continue to consider that type of approach where it seems to be necessary.
Mr Wiseman: The deer population has increased every year. This past year we had such wet weather that even though the minister put on double the doe licences in my particular area, very few of them actually harvested a deer. We pay for wolf damage done for killing of sheep or lambs, we pay for bear damage done to beehives. I ask the minister again, with the farmers needing all the help they can get, why would the minister not pay for, or recommend to the Minister of Agriculture to pay for, damage done by deer?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Again, I would stress the fact that we are interested in long-term approaches to managing what is a very serious problem. I have indicated what we have been able to do in certain areas of the province and I would certainly undertake to ensure that our district office works with farmers in the member’s particular area to determine what more we could do to assist in the long-term management of that problem.
Mr Faubert: My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. One of the major barriers preventing disabled persons from full and equal participation in our society is the lack of physical accessibility. While the Ontario government has shown leadership by creating programs to break down this barrier, there is still concern that not all government buildings are accessible. Can the minister advise the House what the Ontario government is doing to make public buildings more accessible?
Hon Ms Collins: I want to thank the member for his interest in people with disabilities. I can assure the member that the government is doing several things to make government information services and buildings accessible to people with disabilities. First of all, we have our employment equity policy in the Ontario public service. We have a policy whereby ministries are expected to provide government information in an accessible form, a usable form, such as Braille or audiotape.
Mr Faubert: Some organizations, such as Zion-Wexford United Church in my riding, have utilized the access fund in the previous years to ensure and improve accessibility to their facilities. In December of last year, the minister announced a three-year extension to the access fund. This will obviously help in assisting all residents to more easily participate in the activities of their particular community. Can the minister update this House on the results of the access program and advise the members of the broader range of organizations now eligible to apply for funding under this most important program?
Hon Ms Collins: The access fund is shared with the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. I can tell the member it has been a very successful program. In the renewal of the access fund we were able to expand the criteria. We now have expanded it to include consumer advocacy groups, employment counselling and training centres, volunteer services and co-ordination centres, emergency shelters for victims of violence and sexual assault centres. We have also added other types of projects so that visual alert emergency systems are included as well as portable hearing assistive devices systems and telecommunication devices for the deaf.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Premier in the absence of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. This question deals with the high unemployment rate that exists in Windsor. The unemployment rate has ranged between nine and 13 per cent, the highest in the province, for several months now. There is one practical intervention that the government could make.
One company in Windsor, Kelsey-Hayes, at one point had several hundred employees working for it. It now has had a shutdown for several weeks. Three of its dies that are used to produce auto parts have been moved to the United States, and there are real fears that the plant will actually close down. Kelsey-Hayes is owned by Varity Corp. The government owns hundreds of thousands of shares of Varity. Would it use its influence as part-owner of this company to intervene and protect these jobs?
Hon Mr Peterson: I appreciate the information of the honourable member. I cannot tell him exactly at this moment what influence we would have in that situation, but I will certainly have the matter looked into, and if there is anything we can do we will try to do it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I appreciate that. Perhaps the Premier could also be of equal assistance in dealing with the Windsor unemployment question, in reporting on any activities or studies that the government is currently conducting to move more public service jobs to Windsor to help with the diversification, which is something I have asked him about before. He will be aware that London has approximately 4,000 Ontario public service jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in all of Canada on an ongoing basis for the last several months. Windsor has 800 provincial civil service jobs and the highest unemployment rate of the entire province. Will he intervene in that area as well to help our community with jobs and diversification?
Hon Mr Peterson: I can tell my honourable friend that certainly decentralization is part of the policy of this government. He will be aware of a number of the jobs that we have moved out of Toronto. I have chatted at length with my colleagues from the Windsor area, who have been very forceful in putting these concerns to the government. It is a matter that is under active review.
Until last week the government did not show much interest in private sector funding for the Sheppard subway. However, when the private sector becomes involved and contributes some portion of the cost of the subway, it is going to be looking for some kind of tradeoff, something back. What is the government prepared to give away to entice that private sector money?
The issue the member raises is a very important one in terms of the need for the private sector to become involved in the Sheppard system. In terms of the development of the overall system, our hope is that we will be able to involve the private sector on every line because a great deal of work needs to be done quickly and a great deal of money is needed. At the same time, I want to say to the honourable member that we in this government, and I know our municipal partners do as well, intend to ensure that the public agenda comes first and that the public is served first in the development of this system.
In terms of any specific negotiating stance, I can say to the honourable member that I think it is appropriate, and I think he would agree, at this point for those discussions to go forward between the private sector, the municipalities, Metropolitan Toronto, Mayor Lastman and other officials from North York and ourselves and to let that matter take its proper course.
Mr Cousens: In spite of the minister’s answer there will be tradeoffs. It is going to be important for us to know what these tradeoffs are during these negotiations. I would expect that the minister will be aware of our interest in that.
It is a 10-year deadline for these transit proposals and there are many hurdles yet to be overcome. Choosing the exact alignments will take time, completing the environmental assessments will take time, setting up the formula for private sector involvement will take time, the construction itself will take time. The minister has a long list of plans and proposals in his announcement. What are his top three priorities for transit improvements and when will they get under way?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member raises a good series of issues and challenges that we face. That is why we have a transit implementation committee which will meet within the next 10 days to begin the process of setting the priorities. I would not want to indicate what the priorities are. Let me just say to the honourable member, as I said last Thursday and repeat, the vast majority of these proposals will not be under way, they will be complete within this decade.
Mr D. S. Cooke: As I understand the resolution, and I have not been given a copy of the resolution, he is doing this under routine motions. My understanding is that we have rules that set out the process whereby we get to orders of the day. That is set out in the standing orders, and it would be my suggestion to you, Mr Speaker, that this motion is completely out of order since it is a changing of the standing orders of the Legislature by motion.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am suggesting a process whereby we get to orders of the day. The government House leader is attempting to change the standing orders of the House by a motion, without even notice to the opposition parties and without discussion. I suggest that the motion is out of order completely.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, in support of my colleague, I would presume that all this can be is a government motion. If it is a government motion, we need notice. We do not have any notice. I would suggest to you it is out of order.
“In all contingencies not provided for in the standing orders the question shall be decided by the Speaker or Chair, and in making the ruling the Speaker or Chair shall base the decision on the usages and precedents of the Legislature and parliamentary tradition.”
I have spent some time looking at parliamentary tradition and some of the practices. I have to admit that it is not as entertaining reading as perhaps the Flamborough Review, but this is in fact a motion that has been used in the past. It is a motion that must be put and decided immediately. It is a motion that can be put at any time, even before the ordinary business of the House, and I would ask that you put the motion and have it decided.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The government House leader is quite correct that there is a rule 1(b) that says, “In all contingencies not provided for by the standing orders,” but there is standing order 29. Standing order 29 says, “The routine proceedings before the orders of the day are as follows: Members’ Statements, Statements by the Ministry and Responses, Oral Questions, Motions, Petitions, Reports by Committees Those are the standing orders of this place and it is not covered by standing order 1(b) whatever. There is a standing order that covers this entirely.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, not only is it covered by standing order 29, but it is also covered by standing order 46, I would suggest to you, under motions, and 46(c) says, “Such motions require notice and must be submitted to the Speaker in writing when moved, before being put to the House for debate,” neither of which has been done.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, if I could be of assistance, and I will be the first to admit that a motion of this nature has not been put before in this Legislative Assembly, I would say to you, sir, that clearly the precedent does exist, it is a well-established precedent, and in fact the motion that I have put has the same effect as moving the previous question. It is not a debatable motion, and I put it for a very good reason.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. I will have to study this. I have listened very carefully. I will have to study this question. Because of the nature of this type of motion, I will have to reserve judgement, and because of that, we shall revert to normal procedures.
Mr D. S. Cooke: When you are considering this, Mr Speaker, my understanding is that under motions, routine motions can be put. This, I would suggest, is not a routine motion, this is a substantive motion, of which there has been no notice given. The implications if this motion were to be ruled in order would be to gut all of the standing orders of this Legislature by majority, without even notice or discussion in the opposition parties -- very dramatic.
Mr Villeneuve: I am certainly pleased that my privileges have not been breached, because this is a most important petition and it should be presented today. It is a motion which is pursuant to the question that I put to the Minister of Agriculture and Food today and it is a motion that is most important, because it does not attack and undermine the supply management way of marketing a certain product, such as dairy, poultry and eggs. Certainly it touches many people in your riding, Mr Speaker, as it does in mine, because it is signed by more than 3,000, most of them in your riding, a lot of them in mine, many of them from across Ontario, the province of Quebec and New York state.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. There are many private conversations, and if members would like to have a private conversation, they can please go to the lobbies. The member for Guelph -- private conversations in the lobbies, please.
“We, the Hastings County Federation of Agriculture and residents of Ontario, want a stop put to landfill sites and to have steering committees look at, and use, energy-from-waste systems that promote the 4Rs program of reuse, reduce, recycle and recovery of energy, and no garbage in the Marmora mines.
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider substantial amendment of or complete rejection of the Ontario motorist protection plan as presently proposed. We further respectfully request that a plan be devised more nearly in accordance with the results of the independent studies undertaken at the request of the government.”
“Whereas the Peterson government has made it clear that they want this legislation rammed through, notwithstanding that people across Ontario have made it clear they want this bad legislation dumped; and
“Whereas there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to David Peterson’s promise in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates, because once this legislation is passed by the Liberals, auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent according to the Minister of Financial Institutions; and
“Whereas the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation will provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry, costing the Ontario taxpayer at least $141 million in the first year alone; and
Allen, Ballinger, Bossy, Brown, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Charlton, Chiarelli, Collins, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Curling, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grier, Haggerty, Hampton, Henderson, Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Kozyra, Laughren, Lupusella;
MacDonald, Mahoney, Mancini, Matrundola, McClelland, McGuigan, Miclash, Morin, Morin-Strom, Neumann, Nicholas, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Pelissero, Philip, E., Polsinelli, Poole, Pouliot, Ray, M. C., Reville, Reycraft, Riddell, Runciman, Ruprecht. Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Stoner, Sullivan, Villeneuve, Ward, Wilson, Wrye.
Allen, Bossy, Brown, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Charlton, Chiarelli, Collins, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Curling, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fulton, Furlong, Grier, Haggerty, Hampton, Hart, Henderson, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kormos, Kozyra, Laughren;
MacDonald, Mancini, Matrundola, Miclash, Miller, Morin-Strom, Neumann, Nicholas, O’Neil, H., Oddie Munro, Pelissero, Philip, E., Poole, Pouliot, Rae, B., Ray, M. C., Riddell, Ruprecht, Stoner, Wilson, Wrye.
Mr Laughren: -- to deal with the profits of provincial lotteries and to promote cultural, multicultural and recreational activities. I very much appreciate the support of all the members who supported my bill.
Allen, Ballinger, Bossy, Brown, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Caplan, Charlton, Chiarelli, Collins, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Curling, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Eves, Faubert, Fawcett, Fulton, Furlong, Grier, Haggerty, Henderson, Kanter, Kerrio, Keyes, Kormos, Kozyra, Laughren, Lupusella, MacDonald, Marland, Matrundola, Miclash, Miller, Nicholas, O’Neil, H., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Philip, E., Pollock, Poole, Pouliot, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Riddell, Ruprecht, Smith, D.W., Smith, E. J., Stoner, Ward, Wildman, Wilson, Wrye.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order under standing order 95(d). On 10 July 1989 I tabled Orders and Notices paper question 265, which reads as follows, “Would the Minister of Health table a list of all hospitals approved by the ministry with regard to the sale and/or leaseback of hospital equipment.”
Standing order 95(d) states, “The minister shall answer such written questions within 14 calendar days unless he or she indicates that more time is required because the answer will be costly or time-consuming or that he or she declines to answer, in which case a notation shall be made on the Orders and Notices paper following the question indicating that the minister has made an interim answer, the approximate date that the information will be available, or that the minister has declined to answer, as the case may be.”
Order paper questions are supposed to be answered within 14 days, yet it is over nine months since I tabled this question. Mr Speaker, it is your responsibility to ensure that the standing orders of this House are complied with. The government has shown a blatant disrespect for standing orders by not answering this question. I ask you to take the necessary steps to enforce the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Mr Wildman: The purpose of the bill is to make employers responsible for any losses experienced by the employee when the employee is forced by the employer to cancel or change vacation plans after having received permission to take a vacation at that time.
The Acting Speaker: I would just take a moment to remind members that the obligation of the chair is to read exactly what you hand me as a motion. So if there is a spelling error or a grammatical error, it is not my job to correct it. As a matter of fact it is quite wrong for me or for the table officers to do so. While I was jesting somewhat earlier, it is helpful if the motions that you present to the chair are typewritten, clear and contain no errors. We will now print exactly what you ask us to print. If you want something that is printed in a form that you are content with, please make sure that it is in that form before you present it to me.
Ms Bryden: This is the second time I have introduced this bill, but it died on the order paper in the last session. I hope it will be debated and passed this time, because it is very important legislation for seniors in this province.
Briefly, the bill creates a framework for providing seniors with services integrated with those in the community in order that they may continue to live independently in their own homes and not be institutionalized.
The motion is in order. I would remind members that if members do not want to have the motion put there is provision in the standing orders for what we commonly refer to as blocking; that is to say, if 12 members stand in their place when the motion is put, the motion cannot be put. It is the same blocking provision that we have used on other occasions. The motion is in order. I simply look now to see if there are 12 members who wish to block the putting of that motion. I will ask the table officers to count them.
Mr Kormos: Finally we get back to discussing this motion. I want to remind all of us once again, lest we drift astray, what the motion is because it is important. We are not here now to discuss Bill 68. That is specifically what has been denied us or what is in the process of being denied us by virtue of this motion.
The motion was moved by the House leader. We are going to talk about some of the other motions of the House leader in a few moments, but the motion was moved by the House leader on 3 April 1990. It said:
“That, notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House, in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, two sessional days shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole House. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the assembly by 5 pm on the first sessional day on which the bill is considered in the committee of the whole House. At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for the adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without amendment or debate.
“That one further sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further amendment or debate.
That is once again today the motion that is being discussed. I will repeat so that I can focus my own comments, and as well perhaps focus the attention of others listening, on the issues, and the issue is this attempt by the Liberals to restrict debate over Bill 68.
In argument against that motion it is necessary to illustrate, among other things, the need for a period of debate well in excess of the unconscionably brief periods of time proposed in this motion. To illustrate that need, I have attempted in the last couple of hours to explain to the Speaker and to the members of this House how much and how widespread the opposition is across Ontario to Bill 68.
I suggest to members that is a valid observation in the pursuit of this debate about time allocation, because when there is widespread opposition in the province, that in itself calls out for complete debate in the Legislature. It is imperative that those persons and groups of people who have opposition to the legislation be represented in the course of the debate, that their opposition be articulated.
I know we cannot rely on the government members to do that. We cannot rely on the Liberals to articulate the interests of all those groups, all those hundreds and hundreds of groups that took the time to appear at the committee hearings, those brief committee hearings. I know that, because the government members, the Liberal members want to represent the interests of the insurance industry. I say the interests of the insurance industry; those in themselves take only a modest period of time to articulate, because those interests are to make profit, profit, profit.
A further illustration of the importance of this legislation and hence the reason for our opposition to this motion is the responses that have been flowing in from people all over Ontario, and their concern. I think it is not irrelevant. I really say this to the members, that it is not irrelevant to consider what the people in the community have to say, in this instance about time allocation, about closure.
Before we do that, though, let’s spend a couple of moments reflecting on motive, the motive behind this motion. My position and the position of the New Democrats is that the motive behind this motion is to deny the opposition an opportunity to fight bad legislation. That suggestion was corroborated earlier today.
The members have heard me say more than a couple of times during the course of our discussions about the closure motion that Liberals are Tories too. If any better illustration is needed, the motion that the House leader for the Liberals made earlier today to deny the opposition the right to submit petitions, to deny every member of this House the right to tender bills for first reading, the motion that was objected to by the House leader for the opposition, the House leader for the New Democratic Party, and the point of order upon which the Speaker is reserving decision, that very same motion that the Liberals moved today to deny the right to petition and deny the right to present bills was moved earlier today by the Conservatives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, who wanted to ram through another bit of thoroughly unconscionable, unpalatable, abominable legislation: the goods and services tax.
The problem is that Liberals are Tories too. One is not sure whether it is Brian Mulroney acquiring all of his bad habits from the Premier, the leader of the Liberal Party, or whether it is the leader of the Liberal Party acquiring all his bad habits from Brian Mulroney. It remains that the motion that the House leader moved today, the one upon which the Speaker has reserved on a point of order by the House leader for the New Democrats, is one that was moved earlier today by the Conservatives in Ottawa. My, oh my, what a pattern that is. The desire to short-circuit debate, to scuttle debate, is echoed here in Queen’s Park mere moments after it is spoken on Parliament Hill.
The same motivation for the House leader of the Liberals to move this time allocation motion motivated the government in Ottawa to that same closure motion and to restrict debate there over the GST. Liberals are Tories too. Again, I am speaking to the motion, but I want to illustrate here the motive. I want to state quite clearly that the reason this motion should be defeated is that the motive behind its having been moved is not to achieve the ends of time allocation as discussed in Beauchesne’s and Erskine May.
Mr Chiarelli: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect to this particular motion and the course of the debate to date, I would like to bring to the Speaker’s attention some comments of Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fifth edition, particularly on page 3, where it sets out “Principles of Parliamentary Law.” Stated therein is the following quote, which is the responsibility of the Speaker: “to secure the transaction of public business in an orderly manner; to enable every member to express his opinions within limits necessary to preserve decorum and prevent an unnecessary waste of time.”
Mr Speaker, I am going to submit to you that on a motion of this type, which is for an allocation of time, it is improper and against the principle of law to permit someone to do indirectly what he is not permitted to do directly. I suggest that upon a motion of this type, for an individual member to speak and have the floor for in excess of four days is an abuse of the rules and an abuse of the principles that I just quoted. I would ask the Speaker to consider, with respect, my comments and to please, in due course and with some warning to the speaker who has the floor, indicate that other speakers should be given the opportunity to have the floor to say what they want or conduct business in an orderly manner.
The Acting Speaker: The member is quite at liberty to quote from Beauchesne or anyone else that he cares to quote. The Chair is at the pleasure of the House, of course. While we look to the practices and precedents -- and I suppose you are all mindful that the table officers have all been spending a lot of time with our friends Beauchesne and Erskine May these days. We are mindful of what the member has said, but even more mindful are we of our own standing orders. We are on a motion. There is no time limit in our standing orders for members to speak to a motion.
You may be right; there may come a time when the Chair may indicate that we sense that the debate has gone on too long or is repetitious or a number of other things, but the overriding factor at the moment is that we are operating under standing orders which do not have time limits on this particular type of debate. I listened to the member attentively. I am mindful of Beauchesne, Erskine May and all those folks, but we do not have a time limit.
The government has put forward some motions and the government is at liberty to do so, so we will have to follow the practices and precedents of this House and this chamber. But foremost at the moment are our own standing orders, which do not have time limits on debate, nor is the Chair in the position at the moment to indicate to any member the contents of his or her remarks on the debate. For the moment, that is where it stands.
Mr Kormos: As I indicated, the significance of Bill 68 to the people of Ontario is, of course, of great relevance in determining the position that this Legislature ought to take with respect to the time allocation motion moved by the Liberal House leader. I want to help the members of this assembly in that regard by referring them to some of the recent commentaries we have received in my office from people across Ontario. I picked up a few of the telephone messages we have received.
Hello, Mr Speaker, what a pleasure to have you back with us. I was starting to explain before you came in here that of significance in determining how we ought to deal with the motion before us is the enormity of the proposition contained in Bill 68, the complexity of it and the impact of it on people across Ontario. That is trite to say. Illustrative of that, however, is the type of commentary that I know I am getting in my offices here at Queen’s Park and down in Welland-Thorold at the constituency office from people all over Ontario, people who have great concerns about what Bill 68 is going to do to them.
As I say, I picked up a few off the pile of telephone messages, and I have to tell these people who phoned in with their comments that I very much appreciate their doing that. The number is (416) 965-7714. I appreciate your phone calls and comments, comments like the one from Mr McDonald in Kitchener. “Mr McDonald just called to say he likes watching you on TV and keep it up.” I appreciate that.
There is one from Helen Driscoll in Scarborough. “Helen Driscoll just called in to say that all the seniors enjoy what you’re doing.” Ms Driscoll, thank you very much. We are going to keep on fighting for the rights of senior citizens in Ontario, including their right to have affordable auto insurance.
Mr Haggerty: Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly and I refer to the rules of debate under 19(4) where the member is being what you call repetitious and reading unnecessarily verbatim. The member is not discussing the issue in the chamber, but he is looking to the television, the audience out there. The next thing that will arise is that you will see donations perhaps coming in to the member for Welland-Thorold, and I would not know how he would accept those. So I draw to your attention that he is playing to the television instead of debating the issues that are before the chamber.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member has very kindly brought to my attention that the member for Welland-Thorold is playing to the television. Unfortunately, there is no provision under our standing orders that it contravenes those standing orders. As a result, we will have to rule your point of order not a point of order. But the honourable member for Yorkview has a point of order for me to adhere to.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Yorkview has very kindly moved under the standing orders that the House sit beyond six o’clock. I have some grave responsibilities on that matter to relate to you; that is, unfortunately the member for Welland-Thorold has the floor at this particular point in time and unfortunately we will have to -- not “unfortunately.” It gives me a great deal of pleasure to allow him to continue with his debate.
Mr Polsinelli: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I merely stood in my place; I did not call for a point of order. You, having the chair, recognized me, and I indicated that I was not speaking on a point of order. I think that it was properly in order that I make the motion pertaining to standing order 9(c). I did not call a point of order when I stood up.
The Acting Speaker: I beg to disagree. I do not recognize your point of order. If I recognized you, it was only that I anticipated that you had a point of order. In terms of the specifics and you, as a learned colleague of the law, I can only relate to you my interpretation that the general intent would still be that the member for Welland-Thorold has the floor in anticipation of this debate that is about to continue.
We were in the process of thanking Mr McDonald from Kitchener and Helen Driscoll from Scarborough. I want to thank Vince Maloney from Kingston. He called in to say, “Peter, keep on doing what you are doing.” He has been watching what is happening here at Queen’s Park.
Mr Garrett from Mississauga watched TV yesterday. He was impressed. He totally agrees with the opposition. As he puts it, when he spoke to Mahoney, the only response he got was a sarcastic letter after he tried to make an inquiry of his representative regarding --
The Acting Speaker: I want to bring to the member’s attention that those of us in this august place have been concerned about other members referring to them by their first names and their last names as opposed to by their ridings. I was wondering if you might be so kind in the future as to refer to members by their ridings.
Mr Kormos: I should thank you, Mr Speaker. As you know, I always make an effort to do precisely that. I am assuming that when Mr Garrett left a message saying he spoke to -- all I can do is quote Mr Garrett. I do not refer to the member for Mississauga --
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Now that you are on that topic, that has been of some concern to me personally, because I have had the opportunity of listening to a number of members in debate, one of whom is the member for Welland-Thorold. It has given me great concern in terms of references in the past debate that “Such-and-such has said that So-and-so is a liar.”
After doing some investigations in Erskine May, with which you are quite familiar -- and I know this evening after your debate is concluded, anticipating that you might continue on, you will look up that section -- you cannot impugn, if you take a look, a particular member in terms of his dishonesty or whether he is of bad character or lying, either directly or indirectly.
Mr Kormos: We are fortunate as an opposition that, with these Liberals, with their majority, they have any doors open to us at all. The fact is, that is what this time closure motion is all about. It is about shutting the doors, locking them, bolting them, making sure that the opposition is guillotined.
Well, Mr Garrett from Mississauga, I appreciate the phone call. Mr Speaker, I know you too appreciate the interest of the people across Ontario, people like Mr Garrett who are paying close attention to this debate, who may perceive that their inquiries to their own members of provincial Parliament result only in sarcastic letters. That is unfortunate, so we apologize in that regard to Mr Garrett.
I note not just phone calls, but a letter from John Jones of Don Mills, Ontario. Again, I think it is important what the public perception of a time closure or a time allocation motion is, when our consideration of time allocation is before us now.
John Jones from Don Mills writes, very congenially, “Hi, Peter.” He says, “Please excuse the printing.” He explains that he is an arthritic, a senior, has a little bit of a shaky hand. He writes: “At two minutes of six of the clock on 4 April, you held a book in your hand. Would you please give me the complete title, author and publisher?” I will be sending Mr Jones the references, the citations that I made to Erskine May and to Beauchesne.
I wonder if we could have a page up here, Mr Speaker. Again, I did not write this letter and I am submitting it to you so that you can vet it, if need be, because Mr Jones makes some references about the Minister of Financial Institutions there -- I would be quoting his letter and it is not anything that you have not read in some of those racier novels you pick up at the drugstore -- but I am loath to repeat that. May I, Mr Speaker?
Mr Kormos: You have vetted it then and I will vet it further. Again, bless Mr Jones for taking the time to write. He says, “I wrote a letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions,” who is named by Mr Jones, “giving him” -- I trust I am to delete that particular expletive, but he gave it to him in that letter. At least, it did not hit the fan. But he gave it to him in the letter for using a five-star resort for a committee meeting. “He said the members needed a change. He did not answer. Next time tell them to use an outhouse. Thanks, John Jones.”
Again, I thank Mr Jones for taking the time to write. People across Ontario have strong feelings about this time allocation motion. There are no two ways about it. I think it is incumbent upon each and every member of this Legislature to take into account public awareness of the time allocation motion and public attitudes towards the time allocation motion because, really, the ultimate test of whether that motion is appropriate and whether it ought to be passed by the Legislature is what the general public perceives things as being. Is that not fair to say, Mr Speaker? I know that you would tend to agree with me in that regard.
We have phone calls coming in and we have letters coming in. There is an interesting letter from David Helmer of Delhi, Ontario. Mr Helmer would not know this, I bet most people here would not know this, but Delhi is something dear to me because I spent a lot of time there as a kid. My grandparents were tobacco farmers in Delhi, immigrants from Belgium who worked all of their working lives as tobacco farmers and lived all of their lives in Delhi. It is a great part of Ontario.
Again, this is illustrative of the opinion of communities and members of communities across Ontario, not just in the south, but in the north; not just in the west, but also in the east. Mr Helmer writes, “I have been watching you for some time on our local cable TV.” I apologize for the length of time it has taken to deal with this time allocation motion. It is unfortunate that the motion was moved by the House leader and that it calls upon all members now to undergo a thorough debate of the time allocation motion, because the consequences are so serious, are they not, Mr Speaker?
What we have in this motion is a hamstringing, a guillotining of democracy and parliamentary procedure. We have an entirely premature motion, because we are going to talk about what Erskine May and Beauchesne have to say about that in just a little while.
Mr Helmer writes, “I have been watching you for some time on our local cable TV channel and I feel that I should congratulate you on your heroic efforts.” Honest to goodness, he wrote that. I have never met Mr Helmer before. “I realize that you are not my representative, but mine never seems to be visible, except at election time.” That is what Mr Helmer writes from Delhi, Ontario.
Mr Kormos: There you go, Mr Speaker. I feel compelled to read it now. The members insist that I read it. It is with my reluctance. Here I am, they are dragging me kicking and screaming to the point where -- I am not usually like this.
What he writes is: “You have stated that you are the newest member of the Ontario Legislature. Well, judging by your performance, we need more new members.” Do the members want to know something? After the next general election, in view of the fact that so many Liberals are going to support this time allocation motion and are going to be supporting Bill 68 subsequent to it, there is going to be a whole lot of new members here in the Legislature.
“Judging by your performance, we need more new members.” This is the part I did not want to read, until the Liberal members forced me to. “Those other members, with the exception of a few, seem to be asleep on their wallets,” the wallets with the insurance company donations in them. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for keeping the Liberal government on their toes. Keep up the good work. It’s members like you that make me proud to be a Canadian.” Mr Helmer, I appreciate the comments. You are too kind.
He goes on to write that the debate on Bill 68 is of much concern to him. He talks about licensing and he writes that he heard me refer to the matter of this government having done virtually nothing to change the standards for new drivers in the last, let’s say, 40 years. Really, when we get down to the nitty-gritty, this is what Ralph Nader tried to tell the Minister of Financial Institutions. This is what we want to talk to the minister about during the course of committee-of-the-whole discussion of Bill 68. That is why we need more than a mere two afternoons, or two mere afternoons; two short ones, in any event.
That is why this motion is entirely inappropriate and not to be rejected by the members of this assembly. If they do not, they will be rejected by the electorate of Ontario. There are people here today. There are people like Charles Harnick, who is not a member of my party, who is not a New Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully in the last general election and was unsuccessful in his bid to win the seat of Willowdale.
What do I tell the members? Had he been elected, he would not be supporting Bill 68. I know that. Harnick would not be supporting Bill 68. The people of Willowdale may well reflect on that in the next general election. They may well take stock of who is supporting this time allocation motion and who is fighting it; who is supporting Bill 68 and who is fighting it.
Mr Helmer concludes, in his letter from Delhi, Ontario: “In conclusion, I would like to thank you for your constant efforts and to encourage you to keep punching. Some people are interested and are watching. I just wish more could be aware of what is going on in Ontario.” A whole lot of people are real aware of what is going on in Ontario. Mr Helmer writes from Delhi, Ontario.
What is so important about making reference to these phone calls and letters is that they are from all over Ontario, are they not? They are from ridings that are currently held by Liberal members -- for the short term -- they are from ridings that are held by Tories and they are from ridings that are represented by New Democrats.
From Lively, Ontario -- is that not a wonderful name for a community -- Faye Simmons writes to her MPP, the member for Nickel Belt. She does not address it to the member for Nickel Belt; she addresses it to his Christian name and surname. She writes “Dear,” and she does not call him “Dear Member for Nickel Belt.”
Mr Kormos: That is right. In New Democratic ridings the constituents are familiar enough with who represents them that they do not have to write “Dear Member”; they can write “Dear First Name” and “Dear Last Name.”
“I would like to add my name to the protesters against no-fault insurance.” That is what Ms Simmons writes. “The whole concept of no-fault upsets me as it will penalize the good drivers and take away personal responsibility from the bad drivers.”
Some people suspect there is no order to my commentaries. Catch this, Mr Speaker, because what this does is lead into the next stage of our discussion this afternoon. That is why I want everybody, please, if they will bear with me, to listen carefully.
“I am willing to trust the word of a retired Supreme Court justice with 60 years’ experience in insurance law that this will be a bad law. Thank you for your help in making your constituents’ views known.” Remember what she said in her letter, “I am willing to trust the word of a retired Supreme Court justice with 60 years’ experience in insurance law that this” -- Bill 68 -- “will be a bad law. Thank you for your help in making your constituents’ views known.” It is signed. “Faye Simmons.”
I just happen to have a copy of the letter that Mr Justice Haines wrote to the Minister of Financial Institutions. What we have is a most honourable, learned gentleman who has sat on the Supreme Court trial bench for many years. I do not know, Mr Speaker, whether you are too young to have ever appeared before Mr Justice Haines. I know I never had the opportunity.
Mr Justice Haines -- who is not a young man, but a great man, a great member of our provincial community -- to his great credit, is by no means prepared to abandon his responsibilities to his community. Mr Justice Haines took time to prepare one of the most thorough and complete analyses of Bill 68 that has been prepared since Bill 68’s birth, if indeed one can call it a birth.
The sad thing is -- and this illustrates once again why it is so important to defeat this motion -- that Mr Justice Haines’s analysis and critique of Bill 68 did not even receive short shrift by the standing committee on general government during its short tenure considering Bill 68. That is exactly why it is necessary for this Legislature to have thorough, complete, full discussion on a clause-by-clause basis of Bill 68 in committee of the whole and then to be permitted to have a reasonable period of time for debate during third reading.
Among other things, the Bill 68 that is before the Legislature now bears some remarkable differences from the Bill 68 that was tossed about by the Minister of Financial Institutions back at first reading, in October 1989. What I am going to do later, so those people should bear with us for awhile, is make some reference to what the Minister of Financial Institutions said back in October 1989 about Bill 68. I kept a copy of his speech. I suspect that most other copies have been burned by now, perhaps at the instructions of the minister himself, but I kept a copy. I hid it away knowing that we might have to refer to it, and I will refer to that.
But right now, Ms Simmons from Lively, Ontario, has written to her MPP expressing disapproval of Bill 68 and making reference to her reliance on Mr Justice Haines’s analysis of Bill 68. And in my effort to illustrate, through you, Mr Speaker, to the members of this Legislature, how important it is to fight against and vote against time allocation, I want to tell you exactly what Ms Simmons is talking about. That is going to require some reference to the letter composed by Mr Justice Haines and sent on 8 January 1990 to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
Once again -- and this is where it is so important; it is impossible to place enough emphasis on this, on this feature of this whole debate -- that letter from Mr Justice Haines was copied to all members of the Legislative Assembly. Some were more ready to acknowledge it than others, because of exactly what it said and because the fact remains that what is contained in it is really beyond dispute. The other sad thing is that Mr Justice Haines was not invited, so far as I am aware, to appear before the general government committee. Does it not go beyond unreasonable to have rejected the valuable views of such a learned person? We are talking about no charge, no fee, free to the government. We are talking about an analysis of the law of Bill 68 that is beyond reproach. Again, Mr Justice Haines has no axe to grind. He is not practising law; he is retired. He is a retired judge, for Pete’s sake.
Mr Kormos: I just heard a comment by way of an aside from a member. I will not repeat it, but I apologize to Mr Justice Haines for what was said about him. He deserves better than that. Although people may, if they wish, disagree with him, you do not respond to people of his stature with cheap, stupid shots. I am pleased that the comment will not have made it to the record, and I am pleased that it did not come from an opposition member, or else I would be even angrier than I am now about that type of cheap shot.
In any event, let’s take a look at the analysis of Justice Haines. Why? Because we are not here to discuss Bill 68, are we? We are not here to discuss Bill 68; we are here to discuss a time allocation motion. But in consideration of the time allocation motion it is important to understand how complex the argument is about Bill 68, is it not? Because that is what will enable us to determine whether two short afternoons of two hours each, perhaps two and a half hours, is a sufficient period of time in which to consider all of Bill 68 on a clause-by-clause basis.
Mr Justice Haines is but one of the commentators, along with many others, who provided analysis and insights that are valuable in this Legislature’s consideration of Bill 68, that must be considered, and that, finally, any fair-minded legislator would insist upon being considered during a course of debate either in committee of the whole or on third reading.
Do not forget, Mr Speaker, Mr Justice Haines’s analysis was not prepared at the time of second reading. It could not have been of assistance or of guidance at the time of second reading. That is why it is important that time be permitted for its utilization during the course of discussion at committee of the whole and on third reading.
Mr Justice Haines, in his 8 January 1990 letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions, writes that: “It is not usual for judges of the Supreme Court to write ministers of the crown concerning proposed legislative changes to our law, However, as a retired judge of the court, the privilege would appear to be restored. What prompts my letter is Bill 68 and the current draft regulations; together packaged as the Ontario motorist protection plan.”
So Mr Justice Haines prefaces his commentary in a most appropriate way. Although he does not have to justify them to me, he goes on to basically explain what his qualifications are. He writes that: “My interest in writing you may be evident from my background. Until my appointment to the Supreme Court trial division in 1962” -- is that not remarkable -- “I had, since 1927, been a member of the Ontario bar engaged in practice devoted largely to the processing of automobile personal injury claims; acting on behalf of many of the leading insurance companies as well as injured claimants.”
Can members believe it? We are talking in 1990 about a gentleman who has been practising at the bar from 1927, 63 years ago, sitting as a member of the bench after his call in 1962. We are talking about an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise being made available to each and every one of us. The government spent $250,000 on its secret studies in 1989 so that it would know how much new profit the insurance industry was going to make when Bill 68 was passed, $250,000 of taxpayers’ money; at least that is what we were told by the government. Lord knows, I hope that figure is accurate and it was not any more than that. But here is Mr Justice Haines, 63 years since he has been called to the bar, appointed to the bench in 1962, and it is a matter of no charge. This analysis is basically a professional courtesy on the part of Mr Justice Haines, a gentleman who prefers to continue to fulfil his sense of responsibility to his community, notwithstanding that he is not getting paid for it, notwithstanding that he does not have an axe to grind; he is retired.
To boot, here is Mr Justice Haines whose experience at the bar has been to a large extent with personal injury claims, both as a defence counsel acting for the insurance companies and for innocent injured victims who need a little bit of clout when it comes to fighting big, wealthy, powerful -- politically powerful, too -- private, corporate auto insurance companies.
He goes on and he indicates that his involvement as a member of the bar dealing with personal injury claims continued during 20 years on the bench. In addition to that, upon his retirement in 1982, he writes that he remained active as a commissioner at pre-trial, assisting in the settlement of over 1,000 cases until final retirement in 1987. Here is a gentleman who, with his expertise, has assisted in the settlement of over 1,000 cases in those five years subsequent to his retirement from full-time on the bench.
“It has been a source of pride, at the end of my 60 years of experience, to look back and telescope forward all of the changes to our system of accident victim compensation. As a caring society,” he writes, “we have developed a great host of protections to help people, injured through no fault of their own, to achieve reasonable compensation. The principles of compensation, assiduously developed over the last half century through the combined efforts of the bar, the bench and the Legislature, as well as the insurance industry, have served the public well.”
He refers to us in the province of Ontario as a caring society. I am concerned that Bill 68 would show the rest of Canada and perhaps the rest of North America that we are not the same caring society. That is exactly what Ralph Nader had to say, that people in the United States --
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: One more time, indeed words of wisdom, food for thought for each and every one of us. Unfortunately, embarrassment seems to have one more time forced the Liberals not to attend. I therefore request, with high respect -- the House is not duly constituted -- a quorum call.
Mr Kormos: We were talking about Mr Justice Haines’s commentary about Bill 68 and how important that is to recognizing that this time allocation motion is entirely inappropriate, because there is simply no way that a matter of such magnitude and impact as Bill 68 can be discussed anywhere close to appropriately in that unconscionably brief period of time that the Liberals would impose upon us -- not just on us, not just on the opposition, on the people of Ontario. That is what it is all about.
We were talking about how Mr Justice Haines prefaces his one statement by saying that as a caring society, we have developed a system wherein victims are compensated. We are talking about legislation, we seek the opportunity to debate legislation, that reflects an uncaring society. It certainly reflects an uncaring government, because it is legislation that takes compensation away from innocent injured victims. We know that now. We know that if Bill 68 is passed, 95 per cent of all innocent injured accident victims will receive not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
It is not a caring society that passes legislation like that. It is not a caring government that would want to impose legislation like that. It is an uncaring government that would impose legislation like that on the people of Ontario, on the drivers, on the taxpayers, on the innocent injured victims. So we in the opposition are impressed by Mr Justice Haines’s comment that what happened in the last half century happened as a result of there being a caring society.
Mr Justice Haines goes on -- of course he does -- “Based on those acknowledged principles, the majority of compensation claims are settled directly between insurance adjusters and the injured victims or their lawyers.”
Wait a minute. Perhaps we are starting to understand, even before we get to the end of page 1 of Mr Justice Haines’ letter, why the Liberals would seek to bury this letter, why the Liberals would seek to deny this analysis, because we are starting to see some of the criticisms and some of the contradictions of the myths that the Liberals are trying to generate to justify Bill 68, are we not?
I mean, right off the bat, right at first instance, Mr Justice Haines tells us -- based, do not forget, on personal injury work since 1927; 63 years ago Mr Justice Haines started practising law. In 1962 he was appointed to the bench and he indicates that most of his trial work is in this very same type of work, and from 1982 through to 1987, his final retirement, he participated in some 1,000 pre-trials wherein he effected or aided in the effecting of settlements. Based on his familiarity with them throughout a long and distinguished career, he finds that the majority of compensation claims are settled directly between adjusters and the injured victims or their lawyers.
Well, we knew that too. We knew that only the smallest minority, perhaps no more than three per cent of all cases ended up in litigation. We knew that 97 per cent of all claims were settled without courts; no two ways about it.
If the innocent injured victims were required, as Bill 68 would tend to require them, to deal with their insurance companies or with the faulty party’s insurance companies without the help of a lawyer, as often as not they would be denied what is rightly theirs. That is why the lawyers are there, but the fact is that some 97 per cent of all claims are settled without litigation. Although Mr Justice Haines in his letter does not speak of percentages, again, he speaks of the majority.
“Where litigation is involved” -- again, listen carefully to this, Mr Speaker, and I suspect that your own experience as a litigation lawyer has led you to similar conclusions -- “the overwhelming majority of claims are settled without a trial.”
“Those cases actually tried” -- and here Mr Justice Haines relies upon his wealth of experience, his abundance of experience, to cite a statistic, to cite a figure -- “are less than one per cent” -- the cases actually tried are less than one per cent -- “and the results, whether judge or jury, reinforce the conclusion that assessments are not excessive but fair and reasonable.”
I am going to interject for just the briefest of moments, because we are going to talk about Mr Justice Barr’s analysis of Bill 68 later. I do not know whether we will get to it this week or whether it will be some time next week or the week after. We are going to talk about Mr Justice Barr’s analysis later, but Mr Justice Barr, I should tell you, who did appear in front of the committee, on his own initiative -- again, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario; again, a gentleman whose personal practice involved a great number of personal injury cases -- indicated to us –
I have spoken before about how it was with some embarrassment that even during the general government committee’s sittings, the opportunity for individual persons to make submissions was so seriously abbreviated, reduced down to a 15-minute slot of time. Mr Justice Barr came to that committee and was somewhat rudely told that he had but 15 minutes to address the committee.
Mr Kormos: Rudely told that he had but 15 minutes to address the committee. I tell members, I was embarrassed for all of us that such a fine person as Mr Justice Barr who takes time out of his schedule would be dealt with in such a brusque way.
We pleaded with the Liberals on the general government committee to permit more time for submissions from interested persons. The Liberals refused. We pleaded with the Liberals to sit into the evenings so that working people, people who had real jobs and had to be at work during the day, could make submissions to the committee. The Liberals refused. They refused, they refused, they refused. We pleaded with the Liberals on that general government committee to at least sit Monday mornings. They were being paid for it, but they refused to sit Monday mornings. They refused, they refused, they refused.
Mr Justice Haines’s commentary -- and as I say, Mr Justice Barr’s, who had appeared before the committee -- was that in his years on the bench hearing personal injury actions involving motor vehicle accident claims, he could not recall a single case wherein liability was difficult to determine -- not a single one. He said liability was the easiest part. Determining fault was the easiest part and the least contested part.
He said on the matter of quantum of damages, in other words, how an innocent injured victim is compensated, it required perhaps a little more attention and a little more argument, but it is that compensation, it is that compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, that the Liberals propose to take away from innocent injured victims, at least 95 per cent of them, by virtue of the threshold contained in this legislation, the threshold contained in Bill 68. Such an onerous bit of legislation we have hardly seen before, one which requires full consideration, full and thorough debate, and one which should compel us to reject this motion before the House now, this motion for time allocation.
Mr Justice Haines goes on, after talking about how in the one per cent of cases that are tried, indeed less than one per cent of the claims result in trial, “Their results...reinforce the conclusion that assessments are not excessive but indeed fair and reasonable.”
Mr Justice Haines writes, “Compatible with the tort system, Ontario introduced a significant range of no-fault benefits.” Mr Justice Haines knows that we have had no-fault insurance in this province for a long time now. He writes that in his letter, something that the Liberals would try to deny, part of the mythology that the Liberals have tried to generate to make this most distasteful bill, this most distasteful legislation, palatable to the people of Ontario. The people have not bought that bill of goods by a long shot.
The mythology that the Liberals have tried to generate is directly contradicted in this statement by Mr Justice Haines, “Ontario introduced a significant range of no-fault benefits” -- but here is the interesting part, Mr Speaker, one that I know you will find as interesting as all of us did who read this correspondence -- “whose shortcomings lay mainly in the lack of indexing, to overcome a problem of inflation that remains entrenched to date.”
What is the same is that, just as the no-fault benefits introduced years ago have been rendered inadequate by the passage of time, the problem of inflation and by virtue of the lack of indexing, so are the no-faults contained in the no-fault schedule in Bill 68 similarly unindexed. They will similarly erode through the passage of time and similarly suffer from inflation. There is nothing new about no-faults. The shortcoming that existed back a decade and more ago which Mr Justice Haines writes about exists right now, today, because the Liberals would not even index the no-faults in their threshold insurance system.
One of the Liberal members here interjected a few moments ago, “What about Osborne?” That is what he said. We address him as Mr Justice Osborne, okay? Members do not refer to a judge of the Supreme Court as Osborne, please. We call him Mr Justice Osborne, especially when we are speaking about the gentleman in the Legislature. If people in the community see disrespect for judges from the members of the Legislature, what does that do to our whole justice system? Please, Mr Justice Osborne, okay?
In any event, Mr Justice Haines talks about Mr Justice Osborne. That is in response, and it is timely, to the Liberal member who hollered out “What about Osborne?” I am sure he meant, “What about Mr Justice Osborne?” or the Honourable Judge Osborne, as you wish.
In any event, in a letter from Mr Justice Haines to the Minister of Financial Institutions -- and once again, I go through this to illustrate to you, Mr Speaker, and to members of this Legislature how complex the whole matter of Bill 68 is and that this complexity compels us to reject any concept of time allocation. It compels us certainly to a lot more than a mere two couple-of-hour afternoons of committee of the whole discussion. Surely nobody from the Liberal ranks is going to honestly submit that that is a sufficient period of time. Not a single member of the Liberal ranks can be honest and say that.
“‘I should make it clear at the outset that were the tort system alone to be a compensation option, I would reject it out of hand. There is, however, room for peaceful” -- here is the important part -- “co-existence between tort and no-fault.”
That is what New Democrats advocate. That is what the systems in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are all about. They are about good, healthy no-fault benefits, along with the right of every single innocent injured accident victim to be compensated for that pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life and the right, if need be, to have access to a courtroom to enforce that right.
What Bill 68 does is it takes away from 95 per cent -- let’s face it; that is just five per cent short of all innocent injured accident victims -- the right to be compensated for pain and suffering. You are talking not a penny, not a cent, for those innocent injured accident victims, 95 per cent of them. It takes away from them the right to be compensated, the right to be compensated for the pain and suffering they endure, for the loss of enjoyment of life, and indeed for economic loss.
It is not a system that is fair. It is not a system that can be talked about in two brief afternoons. It is a system that punishes victims, that punishes innocent people who suffer pain, who suffer loss of enjoyment of life, who suffer economic loss for which they will never be compensated if Bill 68 is passed by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park.
The motive for the House leader’s motion is to suppress any meaningful discussion of Bill 68, of what it means to people in Ontario and of what the options are, because the options are really rather clear. Once again, we in the New Democratic Party have not been stingy with our solution. We are quite prepared to share a solution to the insurance crisis in Ontario with the Liberals. We believe in a public, driver-owned, non-profit auto insurance system, one that has strong no-fault benefits and one that also provides compensation for all innocent accident victims and ensures that they will have the right to use the courts, if need be, to enforce that compensation.
“There is, however, room for peaceful co-existence between tort and no-fault. Humane rehabilitation and long-term care can be provided on a no-fault basis. Death benefits, reasonable income replacement benefits, homemakers’ benefits and provisions for child care can also be provided on a no-fault basis. This can be done at a reasonable cost and without eroding the values inherent in tort law which I view to extend beyond the perimeters of compensation and deterrence.”
Where do no-fault benefits come from? We are proud, as New Democrats, to say that we are the people who fought in this province as well as in the other provinces out west to establish no-fault benefits for accident victims. We will fight as hard to retain the right of innocent accident victims to be compensated for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life, a right that the Liberals will take away if Bill 68 is passed.
If Bill 68 is not permitted to be discussed and debated in full, every clause, every section, if the time allocation on the floor at present is passed, there will never be a complete consideration of Bill 68 and there will be a seizure, not just a carrying away, but a wrenching away of rights from each and every person here in the province of Ontario.
“Ontario has the finest system of compensating motor vehicle victims in Canada and the United States. It is the envy of all. May I paraphrase the thoughts of Justice Osborne by suggesting to you that in the world of ‘judicial’ free trade we have an accident victim compensation system that should be exported throughout the world. What Bill 68 represents is a cheaper imitation of the Michigan no-fault system which, as an import, has found virtually no acceptance in any other jurisdiction beyond our border.”
That is what Mr Justice Haines says about Bill 68. I am going to repeat that: “What Bill 68 represents is a cheaper imitation of the Michigan no-fault system which, as an import, has found virtually no acceptance in any other jurisdiction beyond our border.”
No wonder the government was not eager to see Mr Justice Haines’s analysis of Bill 68 carried forward. No wonder the government does not want to see a thorough debate about Bill 68. These are the very sort of points that will be raised during committee of the whole and on third reading unless debate is suppressed and indeed destroyed by virtue of this time allocation motion.
Mr Justice Haines goes further: “If the proposed amendments are adopted into law, Ontario will lose its leading position in the compensation of accident victims and go to the bottom of the heap.” If this bill is passed, Mr Justice Haines is telling us, Ontario will lose its leading position. If the Liberals ram this through, Ontario will lose its leading position and go to the bottom of the heap. “Reduced to basic terms, the threshold proposed wipes out that hallmark principle of a civilized society enunciated over a century ago by Lord Blackburn and followed ever since.”
We are talking about what this insurance is all about. It is all about threshold insurance, is it not? What is that hallmark principle? Mr Justice Haines refers to it in his correspondence and he writes, quoting Blackburn: “‘...where any injury is to be compensated by damages, in settling the sum of money to be given for reparation of damages, you should as nearly as possible get at the sum of money which will put the party who has been injured, or who has suffered, in the same position as he would have been in if he had not sustained the wrong for which he is now getting his compensation or reparation.”’
That was an accurate presentation of what compensation meant to innocent injured people 100 years ago when Lord Blackburn first enunciated it and it remains as valid a statement now in 1990. Mr Justice Haines used that as an embarkation point to take a look at Bill 68.
It is precisely these criticisms of Bill 68 that would be part of a meaningful debate, that very debate that the Liberals with this time allocation motion would seek to suppress, indeed eliminate. They do not want debate. The Liberals do not want debate on this issue. They were not prepared to debate it in the standing committee on general government. They scuttled that committee. They turned that process into a sham by using their majority; by displaying their arbitrariness and indeed arrogance; by conducting themselves in as supercilious a manner as any government has ever acted.
Maybe the Premier of Ontario is contemplating the fall of 1990 for an election. As it is, that is a relatively short period of time since the last general election. Let’s go in June and have a general election in Ontario on the issue of auto insurance. Let’s go to the ultimate jury; let’s go to the people of Ontario. If the Liberals in this Legislature really believe that the people of Ontario want Bill 68, let’s go to them with it.
The Liberals have been as uncomfortable in the last week and a half as they have been in a heck of a long time, and the reason is that their introduction of a time allocation motion has focused the attention of people across Ontario on Bill 68. The Liberal motion for time allocation -- a Liberal motion for closure, for the guillotine -- has focused attention from across Ontario on Bill 68. The Liberals know that they are not just in hot water, but that the water is deep too. I say to them: “Let’s go to the electorate with auto insurance. Call an election.”
Mr Kormos: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. There are things that have to be said about this time closure motion and, as an essential part of that, about Bill 68, things that simply have to be said, and we have every intention of saying every one of them.
Let’s go to the electorate. The Liberals should call an election. These Liberals should tell their leader to call an election. Let’s have it in June and let’s fight it on the issue of auto insurance because, as it is, the Premier of Ontario wants to call an election, let’s say, for the fall of 1990. It is no more required in fall than it would be now. The mandate is still alive and well, except that, just like Charlie getting a second opinion, the people of Ontario insist on one now in any event.
I will tell members what is going to happen very soon and, once again, this very much goes to the whole matter of this time allocation motion, this closure motion, this guillotine. The Liberals know that public opinion is just horrendously opposed to Bill 68. They know that and if they did not know it before, they knew it after I read them the data a few days ago which showed that the overwhelming majority of people in Ontario oppose the government’s insurance scheme. They know that it is only going to make big profits for the auto insurance industry. The Liberals know that.
They also know that public opinion is very much against a party and a government that would suppress debate, a party and a government that would impose closure like their brothers and sisters, the Tories at Parliament Hill, who want to impose closure on the opposition there when it comes to discussion about the GST. That is exactly what these Liberals want to do here at Queen’s Park. They want to do what their Tory clones on Parliament Hill have done time and time again. The Liberals at Queen’s Park are doing it time and time again as well. That is number two.
Mr Kormos: You know, Mr Speaker, these guys talk about getting in the back door when they cannot get in the front door. Let me tell you what they are doing. They know that they cannot win on the auto insurance issue. They know that they cannot win on the closure issue.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Do you know what the next bit on their agenda is going to be? The next bit on their agenda is going to be to suggest that by virtue of the debate that is taking place on this time allocation motion, Bill 68 is being delayed and the community is somehow suffering as a result of that. Every day that Bill 68 is delayed, you have more drivers in Ontario who are driving without facing the up to 50 per cent premium surcharges that Bill 68 is going to create. The Minister of Financial Institutions promised that.
Every day that Bill 68 is delayed, we might permit one or two or three or four innocent injured accident victims to collect the compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that they are entitled to. For every day --
The Liberals are going to try to get in the back door when they cannot get in the front door. They know they cannot argue and debate Bill 68 dead on, which is what this time allocation motion is all about. They cannot face the music when it comes to Bill 68. They want to run from the truth. It is true. When it comes to time allocation, look at their response. Are they eager to get involved in the debate over time allocation? No. They are eager to call the question. These guys want to call the question. They do not want to see a full and thorough debate take place.
That is shameful. At some point more mythology is going to be generated by the Liberals, that if Bill 68 is delayed something bad is going to happen. I tell you, Mr Speaker, the longer Bill 68 is delayed, the longer the taxpayers are safe from the greedy paws of the Liberal government. The longer Bill 68 is delayed, the safer innocent injured victims are, in that they will still be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, compensation that will be denied them by the Liberals once Bill 68 is passed. The longer Bill 68 is delayed, the more protected people are from the 50 per cent premium increases that Bill 68 is going to carry with it. That is one of the promises the Minister of Financial Institutions will keep, I am sure.
Let’s take a look at what Mr Justice Haines says about Bill 68, because that is exactly what the Liberals do not want to debate in the course of committee of the whole or during third reading. Mr Justice Haines says this in his analysis of it, something that the government has avoided, something that the Minister of Financial Institutions has avoided. He has tried to suppress, he has tried to bury this particular critique. Let’s look at an example and let’s look at the threshold, because that is what this insurance is all about. It is all about being threshold insurance.
Mr Justice Haines says this, “Now let’s look at the plight of the car accident victim under the proposed plan.” That is under Bill 68, this so-called Ontario motorist protection plan. This plan is going to protect the profits of insurance companies in a way they have never been protected before in their corporate lifetimes.
What does Bill 68 do according to Mr Justice Haines? Again, we are prepared to debate this. We are prepared to have an exchange about this. It is the Liberals with this time allocation motion who want to deny us any opportunity to engage in that very exchange.
Mr Justice Haines says that Bill 68 “takes away the right to receive compensation beyond no-fault benefits except in the case of (a) death; (b) permanent serious disfigurement; or (c) permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature.”
This is the threshold: death, permanent serious disfigurement or permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by a continuing injury which is physical in nature. Mr Justice Haines writes that, “Under this plan, people with disfigurement, which is permanent but not serious, or if serious but not permanent, will get no compensation for it.” My goodness, that is true.
What the Liberal Party in Ontario proposes and what the insurance industry in Ontario wants is that people who are disfigured, innocent victims who are disfigured where the disfigurement is permanent but not serious, or if serious, not permanent, then those people will get no compensation for it. Innocent injured accident victims will not get a penny of compensation.
Mr Justice Haines goes on, “If the evidence is that a series of painful plastic surgical operations over several years will make the permanent disfigurement no longer serious, then there will be no compensation for that disfigurement.”
I am going to refer to what Mr Justice Haines just said about this threshold. I am going to refer to what he said about the threshold one more time. “If the evidence is that a series of painful plastic surgical operations over several years will make the permanent disfigurement no longer serious, then there will be no compensation for that disfigurement.” There will be no compensation -- none. That is what the threshold does.
“A moment’s thought,” Mr Justice Haines writes, “will show how few injuries will pass the proposed threshold. To qualify, injuries must meet all of the following: (a) an impairment of a bodily function; (b) the impairment must be permanent; (c) the impairment must be serious; (d) the bodily function must be an important one; and (e) the injury must be physical and not mental or psychological in nature.” Mr Justice Haines says “a questionable if confusing semantic distinction with frequently little medical merit.”
This threshold is more onerous than the threshold utilized in the state of Michigan. This threshold is the most draconian, most onerous, most compelling threshold that has ever, ever been imposed upon any public in any jurisdiction.
Mr Justice Haines says, he questions, he queries, “What does it all mean?” His response: Mr Justice Haines, sitting on the trial bench for some 20 years, participating in successful pre-trials for five more years, a member of the bar in Ontario since 1927, looks at this threshold and says “What does it all mean?” He answers, “I believe it will be a quagmire. My experience tells me that Bill 68 imposes a ‘catch-22’ test that will abolish the existing rights of compensation for all but a handful of injured people.” It is worth repeating, is it not? It is worth repeating. “Bill 68,” Mr Justice Haines says, will impose “‘a catch-22’ that will abolish” -- end, abolish, eliminate -- “the existing rights of compensation for all but a handful of injured people.”
Mr. Justice Haines goes on: “Possessed of the motoring public’s premiums and an ability to search out and retain legal and medical experts in large numbers, insurance companies will not hesitate to constantly challenge injured victims that their injuries are not physical, but rather they are psychological or mental; that, even if they are physical, they are not serious; or, that if serious, they are not permanent; or, that finally, if permanent, they have not been, or will not be, continuously serious. Mr Justice Haines writes, followed by an exclamation mark, “What a mess!” It is exactly those issues that we want to raise with the Minister of Financial Institutions and the government during the course of committee of the whole discussion of Bill 68.
This time allocation motion, in view of what we are aware of now, surely must be withdrawn by the Liberal House leader, because when the Liberal House leader hears what I have just said, he has to acknowledge that there is simply no way the types of issues that the Honourable Edson Haines speaks of in his correspondence to the minister can be resolved in the course of two mere, short afternoons. If the House leader will not withdraw the Liberal time allocation motion, then it falls on the members of the Legislature, Conservative, New Democrat and Liberal alike, to vote against the time allocation motion.
I should mention I have friends who keep buying me glasses of water, and I am very grateful to them. I know that they are interested in my welfare. I appreciate it, and I know it is Liberal friends who are taking care of me and looking out for me. I do not think it is inappropriate for me to thank them for being so attentive to my physical needs. Let me be attentive to their spiritual needs as we talk about this time allocation motion. Man does not live by water alone.
Mr Justice Haines, in his analysis of Bill 68 -- and again, I make reference to this, and I cannot help it if it is a lengthy analysis. All that does is indicate more strongly than ever that the time allocation motion, this closure motion, really does not permit sufficient time in which to engage in a proper discussion of Bill 68. Mr Justice Haines, in his letter, as much as you can in a bit of correspondence, threw up his proverbial hands, exclaimed “What a mess” Bill 68 and its threshold is, but then goes on to say that it does not end there, because Mr Justice Haines writes, “Worse still, this new law creates two classes of claimants.”
That sounds grossly discriminatory, does it not? I have a feeling that Mr Justice Haines is starting to get into that area of consideration about constitutional challenges to Bill 68, ones that Mr Star from Kingsway General Insurance Co was expressing some concern about. Mr Justice Haines writes: “Worse still, this new law creates two classes of claimants. They are: (1) those injured by reason of the use of an automobile.” That is the first class of claimants, those injured by reason of the use of an automobile. “(2) All other victims suffering any personal injury.”
Mr Justice Haines provides an example. He says this: “For example, those injured in car accidents on the highway because of dangerous repair, people injured in airline and train accidents or unsafe premises, defective products or fires and explosions; indeed, anyone injured by the negligence of all others except for the owner or driver of a motor vehicle, are protected by the rich endowment of our tort law.” All those people injured on the highway because of dangerous repair, in airline and in train accidents or on unsafe premises or injured as a result of defective products or as a result of fires or explosions, anyone injured by the negligence of all others except for the owner or driver of a motor vehicle are protected by the rich endowment of our tort law. Why should an innocent injured traffic victim be singled out for such disparate treatment? Why should an innocent injured motor vehicle accident victim be singled out for such disparate, discriminatory treatment? We are eager to debate the answer to that. The reason why is that this government, the Liberals in Ontario, want to create a billion-dollar windfall, new profits for the auto insurance industry. That is why. It is as simple as that.
The Liberals in Ontario are prepared to sell out drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured motor vehicle victims so that the auto insurance industry can have a payday of a billion bucks in the first year alone, an auto insurance industry that is not doing that badly, thank you very much; an auto insurance industry that, quite frankly, is able to hold its own.
Mr Justice Haines goes on. He says, “Incidentally, who will speak for the victims created by the threshold of Bill 68?” Mr Justice Haines questioned this as a long-time member of the bench, an even longer-time member of the bar with a vast wealth of practical experience. Members should not forget what we said earlier. Mr Justice Haines identified himself as someone who had acted in his practising days, before his appointment to the bench in 1962, not just for plaintiffs, not just for accident victims, but for the insurance companies.
Here is a gentleman who has a wealth of experience, legal and practical, who is eager to share that with the government, who is eager to provide his critique. But does the Minister of Financial Institutions listen? No. Is he even interested in having these issues discussed? No, because the Minister of Financial Institutions, it would seem, is supportive of the House leader’s motion. It would seem that the Minister of Financial Institutions is as eager to crush the life out of the opposition as his own House leader is.
That is what this time allocation motion is all about. It is a motion of closure. We should question who is imitating whom. Are the Tories of Parliament Hill imitating the Liberals at Queen’s Park or are the Liberals at Queen’s Park imitating the Tories on Parliament Hill? The Liberals seem about as eager to impose closure and stifle debate as their Tory cousins do up on Parliament Hill. That is shameful. Perhaps I overestimated the distinction between the two. Perhaps, indeed, the relationship is far closer than that of mere cousins.
Mr Justice Haines says, “Incidentally, who will speak for the victims created by the threshold in Bill 68?” Who will speak for the victims created by the threshold in Bill 68? It is a question that warrants answering. I tell members that we are prepared to speak for the victims contemplated by Bill 68, except that this time allocation motion, this guillotine, this closure, would prevent us from doing that.
That is why we oppose the time allocation motion; we oppose it vigorously. That is why we intend to canvass all of the issues relevant to the time allocation motion and persuade enough of the Liberals sitting in this Legislature -- at the very least, those Liberals who genuinely want to represent the interests of their constituents -- to vote against the time allocation motion too. We want them to be able to stand up and leave this House with pride at having done the right thing. We want those Liberal members who can muster up the courage and integrity to vote against this motion to be able to walk out of this House with pride and with a sense of having fulfilled their responsibility to their constituents, their responsibility to an institution that is older than any of us and their responsibility to a procedure and a tradition that warrants our respect and requires that we should fight to maintain it rather than move motions like the Liberal House leader did. The only effect of that motion would be to denigrate and destroy long-standing tradition and procedure.
Mr Justice Haines goes on and says, “Incidentally, who will speak for the victims created by the threshold of Bill 68?” He writes: “It is as true today as it was 60 years ago that injured victims rarely have any financial resources to spare and what savings exist must be used up to meet bills that constantly pile up in the aftermath of an accident. Today lawyers representing the innocent traffic victim rarely receive any financial remuneration before the cause is concluded.”
The compassion that the Liberal members are displaying for my physical wellbeing is moving me. It is moving me and, again, what it does is motivate me and provide me with energy that I would not have had otherwise, because now I know that there are members of the Liberal caucus here at Queen’s Park who are going to oppose this time allocation motion. I know that if I just spend enough time canvassing the right issues, we will persuade even more to reject a bad motion and to do the right thing. So I am moved by their sense of compassion, and I am going to try to move them now and tomorrow and next week and the week after and the week after.
“Incidentally,” Mr Justice Haines writes, “who will speak for the victims created by the threshold of Bill 68?” He confirms that “Today” -- 1989-1990 -- “lawyers representing the innocent traffic victim rarely receive any financial remuneration before the cause is concluded.”
Mr Kormos: I hear a heckle to the effect that it is not true. Now, I know the member is not calling me a liar. Is he calling Mr Justice Haines a liar? It is pretty shabby. Once again, it just shows where these folk are coming from, these Liberals here at Queen’s Park. These are the same people who moved this motion, the same people who want to impose closure on the opposition, the same people who, quite frankly, do not want to debate the issues that Mr Justice Haines raises; who, rather than debate them, would rather heckle from the backest of benches to the effect that Mr Justice Haines is not telling the truth.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): I want to point out to the members here assembled my hearing is impaired somewhat today and it tends to remain that way. I am sure that certain things have been said in the chamber that members do not want as part of the record. There is one sure way to see that it never becomes part of the record: Do not say it.
Mr Kormos: But strong of voice. “Today, lawyers representing the innocent traffic victim rarely receive any financial remuneration before the cause is concluded; indeed, in seeking to competently represent their clients, they usually go out of pocket in no small way.” Mr Justice Haines writes that in his letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
Mr Kormos: It is not me saying it; it is Mr Justice Haines saying it, based on his experience back from 1927 through to sitting as an esteemed and outstanding member of the bench here in Ontario, the Supreme Court of Ontario trial bench.
He is saying that personal injury lawyers as often as not do not get a penny of remuneration in personal injury actions until the whole matter is completed. As often as not, the lawyer goes out of pocket himself or herself in no small way because the lawyer, as Mr Justice Haines is trying to explain -- and again, we would dearly love to debate this with the minister and with other government members when it comes to Bill 68, and it is this very sort of debate that we insist this time allocation motion is designed to preclude -- what happens is that personal injury lawyers go out of pocket themselves in no small way in the course of representing innocent accident victims.
Mr Justice Haines, as a retired lawyer and retired judge, says this is made possible because our system here in Ontario has developed to make the wrongdoer pay costs on a reasonable basis to the innocent victim. Mr Justice Haines writes: “Bill 68 is designed to get rid of the lawyer who has traditionally stood the ground to even the contest between the insurance company and the injured victim.” It is an interesting perception, one that is shared by many people out there in the community, one that appears not to be shared by the Liberals, and for good reason.
Mr Justice Haines writes this: “Bill 68 is designed to get rid of the lawyer who has traditionally stood the ground to even the contest between the insurance company and the injured victim. From whom will these victims obtain representation if they cannot pay fees? How many, if any, lawyers will become involved in asserting ‘threshold cases,’ knowing that their clients cannot afford the expense of matching medical experts and the uncertainty of the outcome?”
That is a dilemma that Bill 68 generates. It is a very specific problem that the threshold in Bill 68 creates. The reality of it is that if Bill 68 becomes law -- and our fear is that if full debate is not permitted it will inevitably become law because the Liberal majority will ram it through without thorough discussion and consideration -- victims will not have access to legal representation. And that is exactly what the design of the legislation is, that is exactly what the insurance companies had in mind when they wrote it, that is exactly what they had in mind when they drafted it, that victims of motor vehicle accidents not have legal representation and that there be no one there to stand the ground to even the contest between the insurance company and the injured victim. That is the way the insurance companies would prefer it.
Mr Justice Haines writes: “Today the medical reports of general practitioners routinely cost $350 each; those of medical specialists frequently cost twice as much. How is the injured claimant to match the financial resources of the insurance company which is entitled to and will challenge the threshold both before and during the trial?”
That is why we need lengthier committee of the whole than this government is prepared to permit us. That is why we need more than two mere half afternoons for committee of the whole consideration of this drastically, dreadfully, horribly important piece of legislation, one that is going to strip rights away from everyone in Ontario. The question is, “How is the injured claimant to match the financial resources of the insurance company which is entitled to and will challenge the threshold both before and during the trial?”
Let me explain that very briefly, because it is something the government has not been eager to talk publicly about. If you do not meet the threshold, you cannot get compensated for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life or even for excess economic loss. For instance, for the small businessperson whose business is destroyed as a result of his injuries, he cannot be compensated for that economic loss if he does not meet the threshold.
We already know, from both Mr Justice Haines and other commentators, that the threshold is a very complex and difficult one to begin with. One might try to simplify it and say that the threshold is so onerous that you have to be dead or damned close to it before you can even think about being compensated, before you can even consider it. We know that the threshold does more than exclude modest injuries like a sprained ankle or a modest bruise, scratch or cut that heals quickly. We know that it not only excludes those, but it also excludes serious injuries like broken legs, broken arms, fractured ribs, fractured skulls and broken backs from compensation by virtue of the threshold. We talked yesterday about how a kid who is a victim of a drunk driver and suffers a broken back could receive not a penny in compensation, notwithstanding that he is a perfectly and totally innocent injured accident victim.
Mr Kormos: He is from the riding of Bruce. The issue that the minister, the member for Bruce, does not want to debate and why the government is so adamant about this time allocation motion is the double kick at the can that the insurance companies get when it comes to threshold.
Mr Justice Haines talks about challenging the threshold both before and during the trial. He talks about very wealthy insurance companies using their resources, their abundance of resources to hire experts and specialists that people like us simply cannot afford. Without lawyers, against whom we are not on an even ground, we are victims once again. What is special is that the threshold can be challenged -- well, challenged on the part of the insurance company, not by the poor victim -- not just once, not twice, but, quite frankly, almost an infinite number of times.
The insurance company, by virtue of a pre-trial procedure, a motion, can apply to a court to have that court rule that the victim does not pass the threshold. Even if that court, on a pre-trial motion by a wealthy insurance company, rules that the victim does pass the threshold and ought to be compensated, that same insurance company can apply once again at another point in time to a different judge with different evidence -- it is almost unbelievable, but it is true -- to seek to have that judge declare that the victim does not pass the threshold. Finally, they can do it once again at trial.
There used to be a rule against double jeopardy. There used to be a rule against what some people have called res adjudicata. It remains that what this proposition in Bill 68 does is impose infinite jeopardy on the innocent injured accident victim. As if the insurance industry in this province were not wealthy enough and powerful enough already, this government, these Liberals here at Queen’s Park want to strip all rights away from innocent injured accident victims: the right to be compensated for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life, and the right to have access to a courtroom, and now the right to be adequately represented by lawyers. That is just not fair, is it?
Mr Justice Haines says, “How much litigation can the ordinary person afford?” In the context of Bill 68, we would very much want to talk to the Minister of Financial Institutions about this, because Bill 68 is going to increase litigation. It is going to generate litigation. It is going to increase legal costs. The people who are going to suffer are going to be the innocent injured accident victims, the drivers of Ontario and the taxpayers.
Let’s get on to the no-fault component because that is where Mr Justice Haines goes next. Mr Justice Haines questions, “What does Bill 68’s ‘no-fault benefits’ hold for the injured accident victim?” Let’s not forget that there is nothing new about no-faults in this bit of legislation. We New Democrats fought for no-faults a long time ago, and indeed were successful in getting them here in the province of Ontario along with some of the western provinces. We had to fight hard for them. Even when the governments of the day finally delivered, did they index them so that the no-fault benefits kept pace with inflation? No. Does this government, do the Liberals index the no-faults contained in Bill 68? Of course not. The Liberals at Queen’s Park want to see the no-faults contained in Bill 68 eroded as quickly as the no-faults of a decade ago eroded as a result of the passage of time.
Mr Justice Haines asks this, “What does Bill 68’s ‘no-fault benefits’ hold for the injured accident victim?” This is the sort of thing that we would dearly love to talk to the Minister of Financial Institutions about. This is why the briefest of mere moments this motion would permit for debate is so thoroughly and grossly inadequate. Because we want to say to the Minister of Financial Institutions during the course of committee-of-the-whole discussion of Bill 68, “What does Bill 68’s ‘no-fault benefits’ hold for the innocent injured accident victim?”
The Minister of Financial Institutions and other Liberals, among them the member for Guelph who is -- this is sort of like two strikes and you are out -- a Liberal and also the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions. I do not know what else bad could happen to him last year or this.
Mr Justice Haines has this to say. Because these people have “trumpeted $500,000 worth of medical and rehabilitation benefits, with a similar amount for extended care costs,” Mr Justice Haines points out that “is beyond the margin of the usual case.” He points out, effectively and basically, that these are chimerical figures, these are chimerical numbers. These are the unicorn of injuries. Mr Justice Haines writes, “In my experience, the vast majority of injured claimants rarely incur the need for medical and rehabilitation benefits beyond levels already provided by OHIP and extended insurance commonly provided in the workplace.”
I am going to interject once again. That is exactly why Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, and why Mr Justice Osborne of the Supreme Court of Ontario, who was also the author of the Osborne report for this government, identified, among others, senior citizens as people who, as a direct result of the Liberals’ Bill 68, are going to be forced into Facility insurance, where they are going to be required to pay premiums of thousands and thousands of dollars a year. And they are not alone, because women are going to be forced into Facility Association where they are going to be forced to pay premiums in the thousands and thousands of dollars.
Unemployed people are going to be forced into Facility insurance as a result of the Liberals’ Bill 68. Young people, students, farm workers, small business people are going to be forced into Facility Association as a result of the minister’s Bill 68, and he does not want to debate it.
Mr Kormos: The solution is simple. If any of these Liberals want to challenge -- if they can challenge -- what I have to say, well then, let them withdraw this time allocation motion so that we can talk about Bill 68 in committee of the whole, so that we can have a thorough debate of Bill 68 in third reading. They are afraid of the truth, which is why this motion is on the floor and which is why they will use their majority to ram this motion for closure through, because they cannot and will not face the reality that this insurance scheme is going to force seniors into Facility. That is what Mr Justice Osborne said in his analysis of Bill 68. He is a trial judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario.
Seniors are going to be forced into Facility Association with premiums of $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 a year. That is what Don McKay, the general manager of Facility Association, said -- Mr Justice Osborne, Don McKay, and indeed Mr Justice Haines, when he points out the reliance on extended insurance commonly provided in the workplace. That means that those people who do not have that type of workplace are going to be denied regular insurance coverage.
It really makes them but a tool, but a mechanism, to help advertise and promote in a most deceitful way, in the deceitful way that advertising agencies are prone to utilize, a piece of legislation that is being packaged up and marketed as replete with mythology as a box of laundry detergent.
I want to carry on with what Mr Justice Haines has to say about Bill 68. He writes, “On careful analysis, a true appreciation of the average no-fault benefits seems consistent with consigning the innocent victim to the ‘poverty level’ after one week of starvation.”
We would dearly like to question the Minister of Financial Institutions about why is it that an accident victim, a person who cannot go to work, a person who is injured so badly that he or she does not meet -- because this a two-threshold system. Let’s not forget that. There are two thresholds in Bill 68, and that is something which Liberal members who sat on the general government committee, and even the minister, have a hard time understanding, how there are two thresholds contained in Bill 68.
One is the threshold one has to meet to get compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. We know that that threshold is so high and so onerous, so unreachable -- one has to be dead or damn close to it to reach it -- that 95 per cent of all innocent injured accident victims are going to be denied any compensation for pain and suffering.
The other threshold is the threshold that a victim has to meet before he or she is entitled, or can even think about being entitled, to these so-called no-fault benefits. That is the second threshold. That threshold is going to be used by the wealthy and powerful insurance companies to deny people no-fault benefits that are rightly theirs.
Mr Justice Haines recognizes that these no-fault benefits are, one, tantamount to imposing poverty on a victim, and two -- and this is what we want to talk to the minister about, but he does not want to talk about it and indeed he wants to protect himself from any inquiry about it by virtue of this motion -- there is a one-week waiting period.
I will tell the members what our suspicions are. Our suspicions are that a waiting period simply, once again, enhances the profitability of this whole exercise for the auto insurance industry and that it indeed is as arbitrary as that. Our suspicion is that the secret studies that were carried on by the Liberal government of Ontario throughout 1989, wherein it had no intention of ever listening to Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board, where it displayed that it had no intention of ever accepting any alternative to threshold, those secret studies, those $250,000 worth of taxpayer-funded secret studies throughout the course of 1989, studied how much more profitable the insurance industry would be if there was a one-week delay, a one-week penalty for victims. A one-week penalty for victims: That is what it amounts to. That is why we can say, time and time again, that what Bill 68 does is make victims out of victims.
“What is the Ontario motorist insurance protection plan saying to an innocent injured parent, without savings, who lives in a house with a mortgage, a leased car and three hungry young children? What will it say if that person happens to have an existing income replacement plan of $1,550? Bill 68” -- the insurance scheme that the Liberals want to ram through this Legislature -- “will say and do nothing at all.”
It is worth while talking about no-faults a little bit. I want to remind the people who are here that over the next couple of days I am going to be talking about some recent litigation regarding no-fault, in particular a litigation over no-fault that was contained in the 30 March 1990 edition of the Ontario Reports. So those people who want to take a look at that now should, because we are going to talk about it either next week or later on in the month. It is the case of Lovric v. Federation Insurance Co of Canada. We are going to talk about that, and people should take a look at it now so they can follow along with the discussion of that, either next week or, as I say, some time before the end of this month.
Mr Kormos: We are getting it right now, because this is exactly what the point is. We have had some guidance as to what happens in the type of threshold system that the Liberals want to impose on people in Ontario. We have already received some strong advice about how that increases litigation. It increases the involvement of lawyers and courts. What people are forced into doing is, people have to sue their own insurance companies to get their no-fault benefits. Once again, insurance companies become increasingly parsimonious, increasingly reluctant to pay out benefits that rightly belong to injured people, but increasingly eager, hungrier and greedier when it comes to collecting premiums.
Mr Justice Haines, in his correspondence to the Minister of Financial Institutions, says, “Concerning the delivery of existing no-fault benefits” -- the ones we have had in this province for well over a decade. Once again, I have to repeat, there is nothing new about no-fault contained in Bill 68; that is a marketing tool. I have to repeat that. It is a marketing tool that the Liberals are using to deceive the community, to deceive the people of Ontario, about what is really being peddled to them. What is being peddled by the Liberals in Ontario is a threshold system. There is nothing no-fault about it. Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, there are a lot of faults with this insurance scheme. There is nothing no-fault about it.
Let’s talk for a moment about what Mr Justice Haines says about the existing no-faults and their mode of delivery. Again, who better to tell us about what happens to no-faults in Ontario right now than a man who has been a member of the bar since 1927, who sat on the Supreme Court of Ontario trial bench from 1962 through 1982 and then, upon his first retirement in 1982, sat for another five years effecting settlements during the course of pre-trials?
Mr Justice Haines writes, “Concerning the delivery of existing no-fault benefits, Justice Osborne found that” -- here he is quoting, and indeed he has highlighted it -- “‘the insurance industry’s performance in this area’” -- in the area of delivery of no-fault -- “‘is nothing short of abysmal.’” That is what Mr Justice Osborne said about no-faults and that is what Mr Justice Haines refers to.
We are not finished, Mr Speaker, with an understanding, with a discussion of what Mr Justice Haines says about this legislation and we are going to talk a little bit more about it tomorrow. Our goal is to have this motion withdrawn by the Liberal House leader.
Mr Kormos: The motion for time allocation, the motion for closure. We have some real copy-catting going on here, because the Liberals at Queen’s Park are trying to do what the Tories on Parliament Hill are doing to the opposition there. Jackboot politics are no more acceptable at Queen’s Park than they are on Parliament Hill. The New Democratic Party opposition at Queen’s Park will fight that antidemocratic jackbootism as vigorously here and now as the New Democrats on Parliament Hill fight it when the Tories try to impose it there. The people of Ontario will have nothing to do with it. The message will go to the Liberals come a general election.