Mr Farnan: The jobs of employees of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario are being threatened. The LCBO is putting in agency stores across the province. The LCBO is selling off profitable airport stores. The LCBO is cutting 300 to 400 jobs after the most profitable year.
Little wonder that the Ontario Liquor Board Employees’ Union is in the process of taking strike votes across the province, despite the fact that strike action is prohibited by the regressive Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act. This extreme action is being taken only because no co-operation has been received from either the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations or the chairman and chief executives of the LCBO. Is it not extraordinary that employees denied the right to strike must face drastic layoffs imposed by an employer unwilling to discuss the issue?
The following proposals made by the employees’ union should be implemented immediately: that a balanced joint committee be formed comprised of employer and union representatives, that such committee commence its proceedings by fully disclosing all information pertinent to the planned workforce cutbacks and privatization measures presently under way at the board, that an immediate moratorium be placed on the implementation of any job cuts and that a moratorium be placed on the privatization of functions normally performed by employees of the board.
The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has a responsibility. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario can only be at arm’s length as long as it is not abusing the powers invested in it. The time has come when the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations must undertake his responsibility and step in to solve this impasse.
Mr McLean: My statement is for the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. It concerns the action of a cabinet colleague that I fear will substantially reduce the number of US anglers who visit Ontario annually. The minister’s colleague the Minister of Natural Resources recently increased fees for four-day, 21-day, seasonal and seasonal-spousal fishing licences for US residents. The most alarming increases occurred for four-day licences, which rose to $16.25 from $11, and for 21-day licences, which jumped to $28.75 from $22.
The lines of communication between these two ministers appear to be virtually non-existent, because surely the Minister of Tourism and Recreation would have had the common sense to explain the detrimental effects these US fishing licence fee increases will have on this province’s tourism in general and the upcoming Orillia Perch Festival in particular.
The organizers of the ninth annual Orillia Perch Festival, which runs from 21 April to 13 May, were expecting more than 500 Americans to register for this annual family fishing derby, but there are serious concerns that most will decide to stay home rather than pay the new fishing licence fees. The minister and his cabinet colleagues had better improve their lines of communication before policies are developed that will seriously damage tourism in Ontario.
Mr Owen: Recently the city of Barrie lost one of its outstanding citizens, Dr William Little. He was born in 1895 in Churchill, south of Barrie. His father, a medical doctor as well, moved the family to Barrie when Bill was 10. He started medical school at the University of Toronto when he was 16. In 1915 he left his medical studies and joined the Canadian Field Artillery. He was credited with a number of heroic involvements, finally winning the Military Medal at the Battle of the Somme.
At the completion of the war, Bill Little returned to university where he was a welterweight boxing champion and captain of the varsity tennis team. He carried through post-graduate degrees in obstetrics in New York city and Scranton, where he met and later married Catherine Ford, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman.
Dr Little commenced the practice of medicine in Barrie in 1921 where he taught obstetrics to nursing students for over 40 years. For several years he served as chief of staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Some years ago, Barrie honoured him as Citizen of the Year.
Dr Little would spend every Sunday meeting with veterans helping them with their pension problems. A few years ago the Barrie Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147 named the branch after Dr Little. Although he had an incredibly busy practice, he was known to regularly drop into the legion and visit from table to table with his old army comrades.
Mr Kormos: I want to deliver a message to the government of Ontario on behalf of the students and their friends from Notre Dame college school in Welland. Almost 500 signatories are attached to this message, and it reads:
“We, the students of Notre Dame college school, have been following the story of the Bear Island Indian band in Temagami. We understand that the Teme-Augama Anishnabai have requested a decision on their land claim as long ago as 1877. For 112 years the government has kept these people waiting for an answer. In the meantime, a road has been put through the land in question.
“We, the students of Notre Dame, hereby express our serious disapproval of the unjust treatment of the Bear Island Indian band. We are deeply disappointed in the government which has treated this people so unjustly. How can the government justify developing a land before the final decision has been made on the land?
“We request that the government publicly apologize to the Bear Island Indian band and Chief Gary Potts. We request that use of the road be forbidden until a decision has been made. We request that the government come to a decision granting the land in question to the Teme-Augama Anishnabai. We request that this decision be made prior to the spring of 1990.”
According to a recent report by the Niagara District Health Council, patients in Niagara are waiting an incredible five months to get a CAT scan, longer than any other residents in any other part of Ontario. This is appalling, especially when we consider that the criterion in Toronto is that no one should ever wait more than two weeks as an outpatient and no more than three days as an inpatient for a CAT scan.
Due to the long waiting period, doctors in Niagara are attempting to get around the problem by admitting patients to hospitals, where as inpatients the wait is reduced from about five months to about a week. But this ties up already scarce acute care beds; so in desperation many Niagara residents are doing what so many other Ontarians have had to do: they are crossing the border into the United States for same-day service.
Clearly the people of Niagara need another CAT scanner. In its report, the district health council has recommended that the ministry immediately establish a second CAT scanner in Niagara. I urge the ministry to listen to the council and meet the needs of the people of Niagara region by approving a second CAT scanner for that region of the province.
Mr Callahan: Once again spring is in the air, and on behalf of the thousands of volunteers in my community who give great time towards the multicultural festival called Carabram, I would like to invite each and every member of the Legislature to an event that will be hosted on 25 June 1990 for the third time by the Minister of Citizenship. It will be in room 247.
At that time members will be able to see certain people from the various pavilions dressed in their original garb. I invite them to come and savour the sights, sounds and tastes. Perhaps we can persuade them then to come out to Brampton for the full festival which takes place on 6, 7 and 8 July 1990.
Miss Martel: Three weeks ago I raised concerns regarding the shabby treatment of Workers’ Compensation Board staff by administration. I fear that as internal problems worsen and morale declines, the service provided to injured workers will deteriorate as well.
Today’s problems concern the microfilm department. At present, if a file is closed for over six months, it is then transferred to microfilm. For back claims the process occurs after one year. When a worker is reinjured and comes to the board’s office on Bloor Street to talk to a counsellor about his or her file, that file must be reproduced. It is processed in paper form, and once completed the worker and the file are sent to be dealt with by a counsellor. The process now takes two hours to complete and during that time the worker sits at the board waiting for service.
WCB management has decided to move the microfilm department to the Downsview Rehabilitation Centre. Injured workers will continue to go to 2 Bloor Street East, while reproduction of the file will take place at DRC. The worker will arrive, a notice for the file will be sent to the DRC and the file will be processed and sent by cab back to 2 Bloor Street East. Staff have estimated it will take some four hours to complete the whole cycle. Meanwhile, the worker sits at head office waiting for service.
The move was to occur in July. This morning we were told this begins this weekend. The worst part is that the WCB plans to close Downsview in 1991. The whole relocation process will occur again, disrupting staff and workers alike. The WCB is an agency of the Ministry of Labour. If on its own it cannot make reasonable decisions regarding staff and relocation, then the minister must intervene.
Mr Pollock: I welcome the announcement of the Minister of Natural Resources for a provincial committee to deal with the zebra mussel problem in the Great Lakes. She will remember that I brought this urgent problem to her attention last fall. While the minister took her time deciding what to do, the mussels have had a chance to move farther through the Great Lakes. They are not just in the western part of Lake Ontario, as the minister seems to believe; there have been confirmed sightings near Cornwall.
Last summer, it took the mussels only two to three months to move from Long Point to St Catharines. They will be in Lake Ontario in great numbers this summer. They then will be spread through cottage country by way of the Trent and Rideau canals and within the next two to three years zebra mussels will be within the entire Great Lakes system.
I am very concerned that there is no timetable for the provincial committee to report. This government has dealt with almost every problem it faces with a study. As the minister can see from what I have said, this is an urgent situation. We must act now.
Mr Brown: In 1948 a young, adventurous doctor made his way to Manitoulin Island to begin a practice in medicine. He endured the hardships many medical practitioners experience in isolated communities in northern Ontario. But with determination, dedication and compassion, he served the people of Manitoulin.
Although he is to receive the Order of Ontario today, Dr Bailey was also honoured as Canada’s Family Physician of the Year in 1989 by the College of Family Physicians, another testament to his selfless service.
Dr Bailey has also been made an honorary Ojibway chieftain in recognition of his care of the native people on the Wikwemikong reserve. His Ojibway name translates to Swift Wing in reference to his readiness to fly into isolated villages, often at his own personal risk in bad weather and rickety aircraft.
The Deputy Speaker: Before we proceed with the next item, I beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the 13th report of the Commission on Election Finances, containing recommendations with respect to the indemnities and allowances of the members of the Legislative Assembly. I am sure all members will be interested.
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Health. The minister will no doubt be aware that the International Joint Commission has produced a devastating report on the degree of pollution in the Great Lakes, and for the very first time the commission has stated, clearly and categorically on page 15 -- I am quoting from the commission report -- “We must conclude that there is a threat to the health of our children emanating from our exposure to persistent toxic substances, even at very low ambient levels.”
The commission is clearly stating what many others have said for a long time, but is now said officially by the International Joint Commission, that the extent of the pollution of the Great Lakes is such that the health of our children is threatened. When is the minister going to join the fight for the establishment of clear standards for drinking water in this province, as a health issue, as an issue that relates to the health of us, our children and our grandchildren?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As someone who is particularly concerned, as I am, with the health status of the people of the province of Ontario and the opportunities for prevention of illness for our children, I will undertake to speak with the Minister of National Health and Welfare when I next meet with him, as the establishment of standards are a federal responsibility.
Mr B. Rae: The minister knows full well that the health of the children of this province is her responsibility and that of the government. Since we know that over 300 companies are directly discharging into the Great Lakes system and we now have an official report showing, on the basis of studies in Michigan and on the basis of studies around this province, that in fact there is a problem with respect to what is happening -- the minister has the report of the International Joint Commission, which is an official body established to monitor the treaty between Canada and the United States, and the province of Ontario is very much a party to everything that has gone on with respect to the joint commission -- I want to ask the minister, when is she going to take seriously her responsibilities as the Minister of Health to ensure that the health of our children is protected rather than constantly being threatened by the pollution of our environment?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Along with my colleague the Minister of the Environment, I am working with the federal government wherever possible to ensure that it establishes the kinds of appropriate standards. They have that responsibility for all of Canada. I am the first one to acknowledge that health is far more than simply the treatment of illness, that there are many opportunities for prevention of illness and that we work together with the federal minister. The Leader of the Opposition can make representations as well to ensure that they accept their responsibility to establish a standard in Canada which is appropriate.
We know that the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement is a joke; it is not working. We know that zero discharge, which is the objective of this report, is not being met in Ontario. We know that there is direct pollution into Lake Ontario that is taking place right under the nose of the Minister of the Environment. And now we have a clear statement from this document which says that the dangers posed to the ecosystem, including humans, by the continuing use and release of persistent toxic contaminants are severe. This is the strongest statement that has ever come out of the International Joint Commission or any government report with respect to the pollution of the Great Lakes. This is the strongest possible condemnation of inactivity on the part of governments that we have ever seen in this province.
Hon Mrs Caplan: There has not been a Minister of the Environment in the province who has the kind of reputation that our minister has, who has brought in the kinds of programs that we have brought in for Ontario, and we are all looking for everyone to be doing the kinds of things that we are doing here in Ontario. We will redouble our efforts to work with our federal colleagues to be sure that we have the kinds of national standards, but I am proud of the achievements of this Minister of the Environment and the reputation that he has to do what he can do here in Ontario.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. When his bill on insurance is opposed by so many groups, including representatives of the disabled, including representatives of the police -- representatives of literally hundreds of groups around the province have indicated their strong opposition to what the government is doing -- I wonder why the government is persisting in its demand that debate on this critical issue be shut down. Why is it doing that?
Hon Mr Elston: Mr Speaker, I have to admit that I was momentarily distracted by my friend the member for Sarnia, as we were talking about his next potential question. Might I have a brief repetition of the question for my benefit?
Mr B. Rae: For the benefit of the minister, I would like to ask him this simple question. He has representatives of the disabled, he has representatives of police associations around the province, he has literally hundreds of groups around Ontario which are very strongly opposed to what he is doing to their rights and what he is doing to the whole system of insurance in this province. The question that I had for the Premier, who refused to answer, was a simple one. Why, in face of that kind of opposition, would he be persisting in his demand that debate on this matter be shut down?
Let me say this about the people of Ontario: They have required the province to move very quickly and with resolve to deal with the issue of price with respect to auto insurance, and in fact that is what we have done. In the context of what our task has been, which is to ensure that the people who require auto insurance, which is every driver in this province and in fact every person who rides in an automobile and anybody who is involved in any kind of accident associated with an automobile, we are to ensure that there is the ability to buy the product, that in fact it is affordable and that it provides the relief which people need quickly so they can get back into the workplace or back into the home environment. So what we have done is put balance to the issue of auto insurance in this province.
For the benefit of the people in Ontario, we have put forward an entire package, not just a bit of this and a bit of that. We have not just criticized. We have put together the first paragraph, the second paragraph, the third, the fourth and so on, until we came to the conclusions. Our overall package will be criticized by individuals on very minute details, from their point of view. There are significant concerns about our threshold. I acknowledge that. But when we, as government, must address this, we must assert an entire policy, and we have asserted that the policy which we have brought forward will address the needs of affordability, availability and the ability of people to receive not only adequate compensation but more than adequate compensation to allow them to get over the dislocations of auto accidents.
Hon Mr Elston: That is what this entire policy does, and all the flattering of the members opposite will not deter us from addressing the key issues of affordability and the balance of cost with benefits. That is what this program does. That is why we want to implement Bill 68 and the Ontario motorist protection plan for the benefit of the people.
Mr B. Rae: I did not hear an answer to my question. The Premier told the people in 1987 that he had a plan to lower rates. Since that time, rates have gone up nearly 20 per cent. He said he was going to freeze the rates; they went up 20 per cent. Imagine what is going to happen when he unfreezes them.
My question to the minister, again, is this: When he has so much opposition to a plan which is clearly a plan designed by and for the insurance companies of Ontario -- there has never been a plan written as closely by the insurance companies of Ontario -- why would he continue with his Mulroney-like approach, which is to say, “It’s either my way or the byway, and if you don’t go along with it, we are going to shut down debate”? Why would he do that? Why would he be shutting down debate on this matter?
Hon Mr Elston: With respect to the honourable gentleman’s suggestion that we are shutting off debate, let’s listen to what type of statistics there are with respect to debate. If we look at the amount of debate that has occurred, there is no debate; there is a filibuster with respect to the activities of the member for Welland-Thorold. There is no opportunity for an exchange of views or ideas with respect to what he has been saying.
Hon Mr Elston: This particular process that we are going through has long traditions about allowing a member to stand in his or her place and address the concerns from the constituents’ point of view without being taken hostage by a member from the opposition minority party so there can be a real exchange of desires, of expression of the benefits. There are no limits to the number of people who wish to barrack about the --
Mr B. Rae: The fact remains that this government has brought in legislation which is even more in keeping with what the insurance companies wanted than what they originally proposed. The government gave them even more than they asked for. That is the kind of balance that this government has established. They gave them more than what the insurance companies were originally asking for. The insurance companies have got more money out of this government than any government previously in Ontario and any other government in Canada. There has never been a corporate bum deal like this ever made by a government of Ontario -- never.
Given that fact and given the amount of opposition from people with disabilities, from groups all across this province, why is the minister persisting with a closure motion? Why is he persisting in insisting on a closure motion, when he knows that what he is doing is shutting down debate and simply acting directly on behalf of the insurance companies of Ontario?
Hon Mr Elston: I was prevented by the New Democrats from answering the last question. I suspect that I will be prevented again by those people from expressing my point of view, as is their way these days.
Let me say something about lower rates. There in fact have been lower rates in this province because of the freeze that was put in by my predecessor. There in fact have been small increases over the last few years. Everything that has been purchased in this province, like a number of other commodities, virtually has gone up, and there have to be increases in cost. We know, unlike the people from the New Democratic Party, that you cannot get something for nothing. That is what they propose. They want people to believe that you can get something for nothing in Manitoba.
The reason we are bringing this particular piece of legislation forward is that it is a complete package. It does provide a balance of compensation at affordable rates, and that is critical to so many people who drive automobiles in this province. The members opposite barrack about how they are standing up to protect the young people, senior people and all others, but they do not even come close because they are allowing themselves to --
Hon Mr Elston: I want to indicate that, for the first time, our no-fault benefit schedule has been expanded to include more benefits, but there are costs associated with that. The balance that comes from those extended no-fault benefits will include the fact that people will not have to go to court to seek the redress that they would formerly have had to go to court to recover. The one benefit is that they can do it in a less formal structure which allows them, if they wish, to not have to get the costs associated with expensive court proceedings and outside of the adversarial association of court work, which in fact has been a detraction for those people who have had to make --
Mr Brandt: I have a question for the Premier and it is on a matter of very critical concern. I know that the Premier has read press reports with respect to certain allegations relating to St Joseph’s Training School for Boys in Alfred. The Premier has indicated his concern about those allegations and about some of the problems surrounding that particular home and the operations of same some three decades ago.
I wonder if the Premier has had any further opportunity to review the circumstances surrounding some of the conditions that apparently existed at that time. Would he share with this House what his intentions are in connection with looking further and in more detail into the allegations surrounding the St Joseph’s situation?
Hon Mr Peterson: Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would invite the Minister of Community and Social Services, who has been extensively involved with this, to bring the member up to date on everything that the government knows at this point in time.
Hon Mr Beer: This morning, together with my colleagues the Minister of Health and the Minister of Correctional Services, I met with Mr McCann to discuss this issue in some detail with him. There were two major areas that we explored with him, if I might bring the member and the House up to date on those discussions.
In the first instance, we reviewed what the needs were of those individuals who were coming forward and telling their stories with respect to what had happened to them while they were at the institution. We are moving in to provide supports in terms of working initially with the telephone line that the OPP has already in place to bring in support so that people can be provided with whatever counselling is required. We are talking with the different agencies with which we work around these issues to ensure that support will be there. Mr McCann had a series of other requests that he made of the three of us in terms of supports for him and for others who have come forward, and we have agreed to move ahead with those. I think we made very clear to him that we want to ensure that whatever help is required will be provided and as soon as possible.
The second key point which Mr McCann raised was the issue of a public inquiry. We discussed that with him and, on behalf of my two colleagues, I said that we would take it back and report to the Premier and cabinet specifically on that issue. By no means do we rule out the possibility of an inquiry. We will be meeting with our cabinet colleagues and making that decision at a later date.
Mr Brandt: The minister is aware that in this particular situation, potentially 100 cases of abuse are involved, perhaps more. I do not know how many the minister may have had brought to his knowledge at the present time. Certainly the matter is a very serious one and involves not only providing -- and I applaud the minister for this; I know we do that all too infrequently on this side of the House -- immediate assistance to those who need it now, who are potentially wearing the scars of what happened some years ago. I think it is a very appropriate and proper move on the part of the government.
As well, however, I think there is a second step to this entire matter, which is the focus of my question. That is, what does the government intend to do with respect to looking into this entire area of concern and making sure that it does not repeat itself ever again in this province?
Since the minister and two of his colleagues met with one of the former residents of St Joseph’s who shared with them the information that he had along with his personal observations, will the minister be making a recommendation, as a result of his discussions with his colleagues, that the province undertake a full and thorough inquiry, as, I might add, was done in the case of Newfoundland under somewhat similar circumstances so that we can look into this matter as it should be looked into?
Hon Mr Beer: Certainly, in exploring this issue with Mr McCann, he drew to our attention information that he had. I think everyone shares in the desire to ensure that we know what has happened and that this cannot be allowed to happen again.
Very specifically, one of the things that the three ministers involved in the meeting took from it was that we have to keep looking at our procedures and ensuring they are as effective and as up to date as possible. With respect to the specific request for an inquiry, as the member knows, a number of our colleagues have been involved in different parts of this particular question. At this point I would certainly not rule out the possibility of an inquiry, but I think it is important that I and my colleagues report back to the Premier and cabinet, and at that point we will take a decision.
I would want to underline that I share completely the view of the leader of the third party that it is terribly important that we know what has happened and, equally important, that we ensure that those people who were affected by what happened receive the necessary support and help that is required.
Mr Brandt: By way of preamble to my question, I want to simply say to the minister that our party very firmly supports the need for an inquiry into this matter. We believe that if there were wrongdoings they should be thoroughly investigated, that it is the proper and correct role and responsibility of government in connection with matters of this kind. Can we be assured that the minister will use his good offices to make every persuasive argument possible with his colleagues in cabinet that an inquiry is absolutely essential and critical in this particular matter and is the only route for the government to go under the circumstances?
Hon Mr Beer: I can certainly assure the leader of the third party that in our discussions with our colleagues we will review our discussion with Mr McCann and ensure the right and appropriate decision is made, so that we know what has happened and that we know this will not happen again.
Mr Brandt: A question to the Premier again: In response to a question with respect to the St Joseph’s matter, the Premier said: “I look at that and it just makes me weep and my heart goes out to them. I mean, think about it, think about it in terms of your own kids. It’s just awful and obviously we’re going to help.”
I agree with the fact that help is needed and I think those are laudable sentiments, but I want to bring to the Premier’s attention the fact that just a matter of days ago I brought to the attention of this House children who are in need today, not 20 or 30 years ago, as serious and as critical as that situation might be. Let me, if I might, with the indulgence of the Chair, just read a couple of these cases before the House into the record:
“A male child, age 2, sexually molested by father, parents separated and the child displays hysterical behaviour.” These are taken directly from a report that was provided to the Premier’s minister. “Female, age 3, physically abused by a 19-year-old living in the household.” “Male, age 3, sexually assaulted by a male baby-sitter and witness to sexual abuse of the sister by this same individual.” I have many more cases here.
Mr Brandt: I can understand the Premier’s concern about what happened in St Joseph’s in Alfred back some years ago, but there are some 10,000 children on a waiting list that runs anywhere from six months to two years before these children, who are with us today, can receive the kind of services that are required. What is his government prepared to do about it?
Hon Mr Beer: We would share completely the concerns of the leader of the third party with respect to anyone who is waiting for needed care. I do not, for any minute, say we are as yet satisfied with all that we have been able to do to ensure that care can be provided. I think it needs to be made very clear, however, to my honourable friend that over the last three or four years we have made a significant commitment to the whole children’s services sector, not only in terms of children’s mental health but also in terms of child welfare and the care of young offenders.
I would remind the honourable member that on Friday last both the Minister of Health and I announced we were increasing the amount of funds that would be going to all of those transfer payment agencies that come under our jurisdiction, so that they will be receiving a 5.5 per cent increase in their budgets. I think this is in part a reflection of our concern about the needs that they have. I also indicated at that time that we were going to continue to look at the issues which I had outlined to the honourable member earlier in answer to other questions. We view this as a most serious issue and we are committed to resolving it.
Mr Brandt: I want to say to the minister, and I want to put this in the appropriate context, that there were measures taken by his government which increased the costs of the operations that provide these types of services. The minister provided a 4.5 per cent increase in their baseline budget. That in and by itself is not an inappropriate amount, although it is slightly below the rate of inflation.
However, what the minister did -- I pointed this out to him previously and I stand by the comments I made at that time -- was to introduce the employer health levy and, in addition to that, pay equity, which is impacting on these particular agencies. In one instance, an agency which operates in his own home riding and has seven branches is going to have a cost increase of $1 million, not as a result of the government’s increase when that is meshed with the total global budget, but as a result of the additional costs that decisions by his government are imposing on top of the costs of the operation without the employer health levy and without the pay equity introduction.
I ask the minister, is his government satisfied that these particular operations can maintain the current level of service, let alone look after the waiting list, recognizing that he has increased their costs of operation?
Hon Mr Beer: I would simply say again that one of the reasons specifically that we have changed our funding for this year and moved to 5.5 per cent was, after sitting down and talking with the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres and other agencies active in the child services area, we recognized that there were greater demands and made that change. At the same time, we are actively involved with them in looking specifically at the question of waiting lists and how we can bring that down, at the question of the salaries of front-line workers and at the comparability between the professional staff in many of those agencies and how they relate to the educational and health sectors.
We are doing this now. We have said very clearly that it is critical that we recognize the problems that they are facing. I think it is very important to underline that when we look at the total amount of funding that we have put into this sector -- which has grown, as I mentioned the other day, by some $18.6 million above inflation -- there is a real commitment on our part to help those organizations, and we will continue to work closely with them. That is the commitment that we have made, and we are going forward. I think a good sign of our intent is the change that we made last week in terms of their base budgets.
Mr Brandt: The only way we can avoid a St Joseph’s situation from occurring 10, 20 or 30 years into the future is to do something to help those children today. That is the only way that problem can be dealt with. The minister’s government, as a result of decisions made by his cabinet colleagues, has increased the cost dramatically for the operation of these agencies. They are losing staff, they are cutting back staff, they are shutting down operations, one of which was, I might add, an operation in the minister’s riding, in the Newmarket area, which had to be closed as a result of underfunding.
It is not a question simply of increasing the budget; it is a question of looking seriously at what the impact of his programs is on the operating costs of these particular agencies. Is the minister prepared to maintain the current level of service and remove the waiting list of some 10,000 children?
Hon Mr Beer: We have made a specific commitment to enhance services in the children’s services sector. An advisory committee has been set up to look at the broad area to see how we can do that. We have increased funding in this area. We have done all of that. And we did what we did last Friday in the face of a complete and utter withdrawal by the member’s federal cousins in terms of any kind of funding under the Canada assistance plan for these programs.
I think it is terribly important to recognize that we have always said there are issues within that sector that we are trying to address and it is time the federal government came back to the table. We are moving ahead, we are providing more funding and we are going to continue to work directly with those agencies to ensure that the kinds of things the member mentions will not happen. That is a commitment proven by past experience and it is a commitment that will continue from this moment on.
Mr Reville: In the absence of the Attorney General, I must direct this question to the Premier. The unhappy incidents that appear to have happened at St Joseph’s Training School for Boys in fact point out a failure of this government. As long as we have institutions, we will have the breeding grounds for abuse against people who are vulnerable, and there is no question about that. My question to the Premier is, why has his government not moved on any of the umpteen reports and recommendations to implement advocacy services for vulnerable people in this province?
Hon Mr Peterson: I understand the temptation to blame the government for every problem in society, even though the things were not in its particular time. I understand that easy temptation. I know if my friend thinks about it, he will probably take another view in this matter. I can tell my honourable friend that this matter is under review. There are things that have been done in that area. I can tell my friend there are broad ramifications for that. I cannot tell him at this point when that will be forthcoming.
Mr Reville: Perhaps I should have an opportunity to elucidate the temptation of the member for Riverdale. Basically what this government has had before it are the Fram report, the Graham report, the O’Sullivan report, the Manson report, the Hilda Danielsen inquest and the Starkman work, which of course did not result in a report because I understand Mr Starkman left before completing a report.
Every one of those reports said that people in institutional settings will be subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including having their faces rubbed in faeces and urine, if there are no independent advocates to protect them. What on earth is the government waiting for? Some more allegations? They are happening every minute.
Hon Mr Peterson: A number of initiatives have been undertaken, as my honourable friend knows. There have been very substantial increases in the social services budget. There are a number of problems that we have been trying to arrest. I appreciate the views of my honourable friend on this particular matter, but I can say it is something that is under review.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Yesterday during members’ statements I raised the case of Elizabeth Lue, which I am sure the minister is aware of, and the need to have more funding for more blood testing to save Elizabeth’s life. The community has raised over $140,000. The costs to date are just under $280,000. In the scrum after question period yesterday the minister was quoted as saying that she would like to help Elizabeth but that she cannot do anything about it because her hands are tied and the OHIP system does not permit her to fund this type of blood testing. The minister has had 24 hours to reconsider that statement. Is she now prepared to do something to help Elizabeth Lue?
Hon Mrs Caplan: For the information of the member opposite, the Ministry of Health funds some 36 per cent of the cost of a national registry which links not only Ontario but all of the provinces in this country as people seek matches for unrelated donors for such services as bone marrow transplant and blood products. We hope to see this expanded so it will link internationally, and I think that we in fact have shown great leadership in Ontario in accepting our responsibility and funding this very important registry, which hopefully will help with identification of people to provide this important service.
Mr Eves: That information, I am sure, is all very important, but that is not the issue at stake here. The issue at stake here, as the minister knows, is that this testing has to be done in the United States by the American Red Cross and it has to be done within 24 hours, because of the volume and the number of people who have to be tested and the time line that they have to do the testing. And these people are going into an international registry. This is not lost money.
I note that the minister was quoted yesterday also as saying, “My heart goes out to the family.” The minister is always concerned when members bring issues here, on a very personal level sometimes, asked by the family, as I was asked to do in this case. I am asking the minister, on behalf of the Ontario government, to do as much for Elizabeth Lue as the community is doing. Will the minister match them dollar for dollar and do something? And the minister should not give us her bafflegab, while people are dying out there, about what she is doing about something that has nothing to do with this specific case.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think that the outburst from the member opposite is completely inappropriate. He knows that in fact we want to do everything we can in Ontario to make sure that people have access to the services that they need. I can tell him that there are some services which are not funded by the Ministry of Health. There are many things that we would like to do for everyone. We do not pay for tests for people who are well. In these kinds of testing programs we are always reviewing to see how the policies can be reviewed on a universal basis.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. With the advent of Europe 1992 and the opening up of eastern Europe, there would appear to be many challenges or opportunities for the business community here in this province. And in the past number of years there has been considerable interest of European countries in investment in our province. As a matter of fact, Volkswagen has brought an innovative and highly automated automotive parts plant into my own riding, in Barrie. I would like to ask the minister if he could advise us, with these opportunities there, what the province is going to be able to do to take advantage of what is opening up.
Hon Mr Kwinter: I am sure members will know that in 1992 Europe will become the largest economic bloc in the world, with 320 million inhabitants, possibly expanding even larger with the advent of eastern Europe and other countries that are trying to gain entry into that. We are very aware of that and have been working very hard. We have had four missions to Europe under our Euronex program, which is new exporters to Europe. We have published a handbook which outlines business opportunities in Europe 1992. We have constantly received delegations that have come into Ontario. With all of these things we have been making companies aware of the opportunities that are there so that we can capitalize on this new and exciting market.
Mr Owen: Before the Legislature resumed, I had the opportunity of going over a number of business magazines and newspapers. I was very impressed with what seems to be done in the United States and in Japan, gearing up to enter and to compete in these same markets that I have earlier identified.
I appreciate the minister’s concern, but I would submit that the minister cannot do anything unless he has the support and the awareness of the industries of this province. Various states in the United States and other countries in the Pacific sector are gearing themselves into this market. Could we have some reassurance from the minister as to the leadership which we can show to our own industries and make them aware of these opportunities?
Hon Mr Kwinter: We have entered into a special relationship with the so-called four motors of Europe. These are the areas in Europe that are very similar to Ontario in the fact that they are the manufacturing and economic centres of their respective jurisdictions. We have a relationship with RhôneAlpes, which is centred in Lyons; we have one in Baden-Würrtemberg, which is centred in Stuttgart; we have one in Lombardy, which is centred in Milan; and we will be entering into one fairly soon with Catalonia, which is centred in Barcelona. These are areas in Europe where we can gain access to those particular markets.
I am sure all members will want to know that the Premier will be hosting a summit of the leaders of the four motors in Ontario in June and my ministry is working very closely to co-ordinate the business aspects of those meetings.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Premier with regard to the Temagami wilderness. The Premier’s government has disregarded both aboriginal land claims and environmental concerns in this area and his government is now threatening to destroy one of the province’s finest economic and ecological assets, the pine wilderness here in Ontario.
This government has refused to recognize the inherent sovereign rights of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai first nation over this region of the province. Why at this time will the government not order a full environmental assessment of the interim timber management plans for both the Temagami and Latchford crown management units?
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not want to be unkind to my friend opposite; he is usually -- or at least sometimes -- relatively moderate and occasionally even accurate. But he is wrong in a number of his assertions. He has said that we have ignored the Indian claims. This matter --
This matter has been in the courts for some 12 years. The government’s position has been supported at all turns. My honourable friend knows that and would not want to give a false impression in what he says. He would want to be accurate. He says that we have ignored the environmentalists. There have been ongoing discussions. There has been ongoing dialogue with the environmental groups. This has gone through a whole variety of discussions and we are not oblivious to their concerns at all, just as my friend is not oblivious, I am sure, to some of the concerns of people in northern Ontario. He is not oblivious to the concerns of environmentalists either in this unique stand of timber.
I can tell my honourable friend, and he probably knows it, there is a class environmental assessment going on with respect to our forestry practice across the north. One of the most esteemed members of his group is one of the commissioners. If they do not have faith in Elie Martel, how can we persuade them that we are doing the right thing? They know him far better than we do; they lived with him. Do they not have faith in this esteemed gentleman’s judgement?
Mr Morin-Strom: Unfortunately, that environmental assessment will take a number of years before its completion. In the interim, this government has tabled an interim timber management plan which reveals that some 88.2 per cent of the total planned area of the harvest is to be clear-cut; that even in areas not to be clear-cut too many of the trees are being cut to ensure adequate regeneration; only some 18.5 per cent of the area to be harvested in fact will be replanted; and the forest resource inventory on which the long-range wood supply projections are made is today 23 years old.
Given these clear inadequacies, should the Premier not insist that this area be subject to a full environmental assessment on a specific-case basis to ensure that that resource is protected in the long run?
Hon Mr Peterson: No one is talking about clear-cutting all of Temagami. My honourable friend is aware it is a very, very large area. There is a specific group of sensitive trees, of large pine, and we have said, and I will say to my honourable friend, there will be no clear-cutting of those old pine stands. That is just a fact of life. I know my honourable friend understands that, being a northerner, being sensitive, being an economist, and I am sure my honourable friend would want to stand up and tell the facts on this case. Being a member of the Legislature, being a rational person, he cannot avoid the luxury of inaccuracies or just straight emotionalism when the facts are very clear in front of him.
He will know that the honourable minister is reviewing the timber licences -- independent reviews by a number of respected people, Mr Buck and others, who are looking at the situation. It is under review. But I want to tell my honourable friend that he does not have to worry. He can sleep well tonight, because there will be no clear-cutting of those old pine stands. Anything to be done will be enormously sensitively, with the co-operation of the band, if it is prepared to work with us, and the Temagami Wilderness Society and other people whom we have invited to give us their advice and their submissions. So my honourable friend, I think, now that he knows the facts with respect to Temagami, would want to stand up and say that, so he is not accused of just being an extremist or emotional on the subject. Normally he is quite rational.
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Premier. I just want to point out to him that Ken Yarrow and Earl Harren from the federation of agriculture are in the gallery and very interested in his answer to this question.
Last August, the Premier announced that the greater Toronto area interim landfill sites would be exempt from the Environmental Assessment Act, and since that time we have asked the Premier and the Minister of the Environment a number of times to reconsider the exemption from the full environmental assessment of these sites. We feel that his government is going to be creating major environmental havoc around this province if that policy goes forward.
I am here to ask again, particularly on behalf of this one particular application, if the Premier will reconsider his government’s decision and fulfil his government’s so-called commitment to the environment and make all the GTA waste disposal interim sites subject to the full force of the Environmental Assessment Act.
Hon Mr Bradley: I would be pleased to answer that question, on behalf of the Premier, naturally. I would say first of all to the member, who I think is aware of this, and I think that the members of the House must be reminded of this, that his party has consistently chastised this government over the past five years for taking too long to deal with these matters of waste management. Their leader, putting forward a point of view that he believed in, said to me on occasions gone by, in all sincerity, that he was chastising and saying the government had never approved a landfill site in the province of Ontario since it has been in office. That is not the case at this time, but he was expressing that particular concern about the problems that are created by not dealing with these matters as expeditiously as possible.
What we want to ensure is that any site that is put forward for consideration by people in the GTA, and this was an agreement that was made among the chairmen of the GTA, would be going to an Environmental Assessment Board hearing under the Environmental Protection Act, which takes into consideration all of the scientific aspects, all of the technical aspects, all of the environmental aspects of any proposal that comes forward. The board would then render a decision, having heard from both sides, one of the sides being eligible for intervenor funding from the government of Ontario to help present its case, and this would be on the interim sites. Any long-term sites, of course, would be subject to the Environmental Assessment Act.
Mrs Marland: It is obvious that the Premier does not know what is going on. It was the Premier who made this announcement. That is why I was asking the Premier the question. However, he has chosen to refer it to the minister.
I want to talk to the minister about a site which Metro Toronto has nominated. It is an abandoned open-pit mine in Marmora, and they have nominated this as an interim site. It is a 75-acre mine, it is 600 feet deep and it has 300 feet of water in it. I would like to tell the minister that the Minister of Natural Resources has said that she is concerned about the potential of contaminating ground water, as well as the Crow and Moira rivers.
Based on the concern of the Minister of Natural Resources in this province, who said that to alter or destroy this habitat would require the authority of the federal government, and since Metro is very keen on having this as an interim site when it is obvious that there are serious environmental concerns in this site, I ask the minister again to give us his word that this site in Marmora and all interim GTA sites undergo the full environmental assessment.
Hon Mr Bradley: In Marmora there have been people who have legitimately expressed concerns about the possibility of having their area used for a landfill site and it is certainly understandable that they would do so. That is why, through the act pertaining to this, which allows for intervenor funding, the intervenor funding initiative that was begun by this government for these purposes is available to them. I am certain that all of the --
Hon Mr Bradley: Well, I am sorry, but the honourable member’s government, remember, built Darlington and Pickering and Bruce without an environmental assessment, so she need not lecture me on the Environmental Assessment Act.
Hon Mr Bradley: Anyway, to go back to the member’s specific question, all of these matters will be taken into consideration, and I recognize that every landfill site that is proposed in the province will be opposed by members of the opposition. When I was in the opposition, I opposed all those sites in Ontario, because that is the role of the opposition. But they are not going to propose any specific site for it, because of course then they would have to take the responsibility for that.
What we have done is ensure an Environmental Assessment Board hearing for those people. We ensure that there will be intervenor funding. We ensure that all environmental considerations will be taken into account before any decision is rendered by the independent Environmental Assessment Board. That is a commitment that I give to the people of this province.
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The need for quality day care has grown enormously in recent years and in fact is still growing at a very rapid rate. One of the reasons for that is that women form the largest new component to the labour force, and as a result they increasingly need quality day care.
Hon Mr Beer: I think that the commitment of this government and indeed the programs that have been brought to bear on the development of child care represent a tremendous impact on the whole child care sector. As the honourable member will know, over the last four to five years, our funding for child care has grown from something in the order of $89 million to close to $350 million, a significant contribution and increase. At the same time, the number of subsidized spaces has more than doubled, from some 22,000 to 45,000 subsidized spaces.
In addition to that, we have taken other specific steps, as, for example, in the support to employment program which was brought in last year under the social assistance reforms. We recognized clearly that one of the important ways of helping single women, single mothers, to get back into their jobs that they had had or into jobs that they wish to carry out was to ensure that they had funding for child care, and that initiative, which began in the late fall, is beginning to show real dividends.
In other areas, we have, for example, placed in child care centres the day care posters, which set out clearly what inspections have taken place, when, and is everything in order as it ought to be. We have reviewed staff training, developing new training needs, and we have done more planning and preparation for the development of child care legislation.
I would say we have done that again in the absence of the federal government. They withdrew their child care initiative, but that has not prevented us from taking vigorous action and going forward in this area.
Mr Adams: I am very grateful to the minister for that informative response, but I wonder if he could now address his attention to the situation in Peterborough. As members know, my riding is a very diverse one. We have an urban component with very mixed industry and very mixed employment opportunities, and there is a rural component. The city of Peterborough is faced with the task of providing day care, not only for people in its immediate area but for those in the surrounding rural areas, where quality day care is particularly lacking, and, by the way, particularly needed.
I wonder now if the minister would address the case of Peterborough and its surrounding area. I wonder if he could be fairly specific and if he can assure me that the present level of quality day care in Peterborough will at least be maintained and will -- much better -- hopefully be increased.
Hon Mr Beer: I know the honourable member has been very involved with a number of organizations in the day care area in Peterborough, and I think that there we have seen a real growth both within the city and in the rural area. As the honourable member knows, in 1989-90 approximately 1,018 licensed day care spaces were available in the Peterborough area, and of course in terms of enrolment it is even greater, because those represent in effect the actual subsidized spaces. The amount of funding that we put into that area last year was approximately $3 million for subsidized spaces.
The honourable member might be interested to know some of the breakdowns. In the direct operating grants, over $425,000 was provided, and that was for the enhancement of staff salaries and benefits and for program startup costs, because again we are involved each year in starting up new programs; almost $284,000 was provided for community development, public education initiatives and other startup costs; $191,000 was provided to licensed child care programs for toys, equipment and minor renovations, and over $200,000 was provided to the resource centre in Peterborough to provide training, education and support programs for informal care givers and families.
I think that those amounts of dollars, the commitment that we have made, indicate that we view this as a critical area, and we are going to continue to work with my colleague the member for Peterborough and others to enhance and develop child care programs throughout the province.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In view of the fact that yesterday we in the opposition parties were not aware of this motion coming forward and that this motion has had no precedent in this place, the points of order that we raised with you in considering your ruling were just what we had at the tips of our fingers without any proper research and I would appreciate the opportunity to make a few additional points before you render your decision to the House today.
The Deputy Speaker: This is not an habitual request, though we have looked at this decision carefully, and if some members want to make some additional points today, because of the importance of this decision that I have to render, the Speaker will entertain some arguments from whoever wants to make arguments. Do you want to make arguments?
Mr D. S. Cooke: First, if I might, I would like to express my appreciation for your decision allowing us to have additional input. I would also like to express my extreme disappointment at the decision yesterday of the government House leader at moving this motion in the Legislature.
I think that we all, as members of the Legislature, must be very careful about what motions we move without a great deal of thought being given to those motions. I think that the government’s move yesterday did not consider all the possible ramifications of this motion, in my view the destruction of our standing orders, and I think it demonstrated very clearly a lack of respect for the integrity of this institution and the democratic procedures that have developed in the Legislature over the last hundreds of years in parliaments throughout the world.
Mr Speaker, in making your decision on whether this motion to move to orders of the day is in order, I think you must be mindful, of course, of the government’s right to govern, but you must also be mindful of our right in the opposition to oppose. You must protect both those rights and balance them.
In Ottawa, as you know, and that is where this motion comes from, it is not unusual for routine proceedings to be destroyed by this type of motion; it happens routinely in Ottawa. However, I do not believe that this institution wants to duplicate every precedent and every rule that exists in Ottawa.
It is certainly clear that, generally speaking, the precedents that are set in Ottawa do apply here if we do not specially cover those rules in our standing orders. Standing order 1(b), I believe, is the authority that is given to you to do that. However, I do not think that we should assume that the Speaker in the federal House of Commons is always correct. I think that the overwhelming issue you have to decide is a commonsense approach to the implementation of the rules in this place as well as the obligation to respect the government’s right to govern and our right to oppose.
I do not think, as I said, that the Speaker at the federal level is infallible; he is not the Pope. Therefore, if you believe in weighing the pros and cons of a question of a point of order, it may be that we will apply those precedents and judgements in a different way in this place.
Our rule 29 sets out our routine proceedings, and our routine proceedings are very clear. We start out with members’ statements. Under members’ statements there are certain people who can rise and speak and make their statements. The length of time and the number of statements are spelled out. With statements by the ministry and responses, it is the same. The rules governing that section of the routine proceedings are spelled out very clearly in our standing orders, right to the point where we get to question period, and then we get to standing order 34, which is motions.
“Under the proceeding ‘motions,’ the government House leader may move routine motions that are part of the technical procedure of the House, such as for times of meeting and adjournment of the House, changes in membership of committees and similar non-substantive motions. These routine motions do not require notice.”
This is clearly the point in the routine proceedings where routine motions can be moved. In the past, there have been many times in the Legislature when we have gotten further in the afternoon into orders of the day and the government House leader has come across to the opposition House leaders and said, “I forgot to move a motion,” or “There is a motion to replace someone for private members’ hour or on membership of a committee. Would I get unanimous consent to go back to routine motions?”
Routinely, unanimous consent is granted, but clearly this routine motion would not be in order if unanimous consent were not granted and these types of motions would not be allowed once we have gotten into orders of the day. Substantive motions certainly would be in order because notices are given, they are printed and they are listed as orders of the day.
It is my view that the motion presented yesterday by the government House leader could be considered as a routine motion. If in fact it was to be considered as a routine motion, it would not be able to be placed any other time during the day than in the section on motions. Then it could be considered to be in order. You would still, I believe, have to consider the impact on other rights that members have to introduce bills. The government has the right to introduce bills, petitions and so forth, traditions that have existed in this Legislature for a long time.
The House of Commons, with regard to the motion to move to orders of the day, does have a specific rule, standing order 59. It is set out in their standing orders. Clearly, they have a provision in their orders to have this type of motion. But I should point out that in the House of Commons, their routine procedure is completely different from our routine procedure.
They have tabling of documents, statements by ministers, presenting reports, introduction of government bills, introduction of private bills, first reading of Senate bills, motions, petitions and questions on the order paper. Question period does not form part of those routine proceedings that take place in the morning. Question period is another order in the afternoon, I believe from Mondays to Thursdays.
Clearly, if we were to allow this type of motion to be put any time during routine proceedings, the effect of that would be that immediately after prayers, a government member could get up and make this motion and say, “I move that we now move to orders of the day,” thereby eliminating not only petitions and introduction of bills but also question period. While that was not the purpose of yesterday’s motion from the government House leader, your ruling could in fact enable that if you were to say that this motion was in order any time during routine proceedings.
The federal House can never interfere with question period. I think you would agree and all members would agree that question period is the most important part of the day in terms of holding the government accountable and raising questions of the government publicly, therefore playing our very important role of holding the government accountable on a daily basis on the issues of the day.
I continue to argue that these types of changes and motions that are being moved by the government, whether it has been time allocation or in this case the motion to move to orders of the day, are an inappropriate way to start writing our rules. If we do not have the process of coming to consensus on rules, I think while the government might view the effect to be more time for government business in the short term, the end effect will be that this institution will not run smoothly at all on a daily basis.
In the end, the government will create chaos in the Legislature instead of having a relatively smooth time of it. Most of what we do in here is dealt with on a consensus basis; most of the pieces of legislation do not have the opposition members opposing government legislation; in most cases there is agreement. It is in those cases where there is very strong opposition and very controversial legislation that these types of rules start getting built into our procedures. It has been said by more than one member of the Legislature, and in particular by members of the Liberal Party when they were in opposition, that to start writing our rules when we are in difficult circumstances makes for pretty bad law around this place.
It is also of interest in researching this matter that the Ontario Legislature did in fact, in the early 1970s, have a rule that dealt with this matter. It was rule 29. It was in place in 1970 and it read, “A motion for reading the orders of the day should have preference of any motion before the House.” That rule was withdrawn from the standing orders of this assembly.
It seems rather strange to me that when there was a decision by consensus, an agreement by all three political parties that that rule was to be withdrawn, that you could interpret it that we did not want to use that procedure here. It is in effect in Ottawa. We did not want it in our standing orders. If in fact you indicate that under rule 1(b), because our rules are silent on the matter now, we are going to adopt the Ottawa rule, I guess the only alternative that we have in the future would be to leave a section like this in the rules but say it is not to be used; in other words, have a negative rule. That seems rather silly to me.
I think the communication to you, to the Speaker, was clear that when the Legislature decided in the 1970s that that rule was to be withdrawn, the message was that we did not want to use that standing order. Whether it is used in Ottawa or not is irrelevant. It is not to be used in the Ontario Legislature, and I think that is the message you should read.
Finally, I am at a real difficulty understanding what this type of motion would have accomplished yesterday if it had been ruled in order. If your decision is based on the fact that the government has the right to govern and, therefore, its agenda should be proceeded with, all this motion would have accomplished yesterday was to move past routine proceedings and into government notice of motion 30.
My colleague the member for Welland-Thorold had the floor, adjourned the debate and would have resumed debating that government notice of motion. He is involved in a filibuster. We are more than willing to admit that. We do not agree with the use of closure. We have indicated, right from the beginning, that we are fighting that motion.
But to use this kind of motion on the argument that it needs to get to government business because the government has the right to govern would not have accomplished anything, because the member for Welland-Thorold would have received the floor again and would have continued talking all afternoon.
So what is the purpose of this motion? It does not accomplish what the government argues it needs to accomplish, therefore it does not protect its rights but does diminish our rights in the opposition to oppose, to question, to present private bills and to present petitions.
In summary, Mr Speaker, I think you should be ruling that this motion is out of order. The House of Commons rules should not always apply in this Legislature. You should be looking obviously at the balance between the government’s right to govern and our right to oppose. However, to allow this motion to proceed would eliminate the ability of members to ask questions during question period, if carried to its logical conclusion, to present petitions and to introduce bills.
As I said, we had a provision for this standing order in our rules before. It was withdrawn. That is a clear message to you about the feelings of the members of this Legislature on a consensus basis. I appreciate the way you have dealt with this matter, in reserving judgement yesterday and hearing additional arguments today, and we await your decision.
Mr Eves: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: I want, on behalf of our party, to put forward the points of view that we have on the motion proposed yesterday by the government House leader. First, I would like to echo many of the comments and sentiments made by the House leader for the official opposition. You are more than aware, I am sure, of your duty as the Speaker of this Legislature to protect the rights of all members and the minority from being abused.
I would simply like to be quite succinct. Standing order 59 in the House of Commons, as I am sure you are aware, specifically addresses this particular type of a motion. It says, “A motion for reading the orders of the day shall have preference to any motion before the House.”
Our standing orders of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario have no such similar provision. It is my understanding that a similar provision was in our standing orders up until 1978, but the members of this Legislature made a conscious decision to remove that type of a motion from our standing orders so it would not have a place in this Parliament, in this Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Despite the fact that that provision had been in our standing orders for many years, I understand that it was never used. The tradition and the parliamentary practice in this assembly since its inception has been never to adopt such a motion.
On 9 October 1989, as I am sure the Speaker is aware, this Legislative Assembly changed its rules and standing orders after many years -- and I am not exaggerating -- many years of discussion and, I think, fruitful discussion among all three parties. Many, many issues and many standing orders were discussed over that period of time.
We made a conscious decision not to have a similar provision to standing order 59, which exists in Ottawa, in our standing orders. We felt, as members in all three parties, that it had no such place in this Legislative Assembly of Ontario, I would suggest to you, Mr Speaker.
If the government felt that it wanted such a standing order, why was it never brought up during the course of negotiations? Why it is not in the standing orders that this Legislative Assembly adopted on 9 October 1989?
Even in Ottawa, even in the House of Commons, where they have such a provision, I would like to point out the kinds of circumstances in which it has been used. One of the most recent was in 1987, on Tuesday 10 February to be exact, when Doug Lewis, parliamentary secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Privy Council, was putting forth his argument to the Speaker in the House of Commons in Ottawa as to why he should be allowed to invoke such a motion.
It was because the government had not been able to get to orders of the day for three consecutive procedural days. No business was transacted under orders of the day in Ottawa. That is a much different circumstance than we have here, and we do not have here a similar standing order to standing order 59 in Ottawa.
I would respectfully suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that for you to deviate from the tradition that this Legislative Assembly has followed since its inception would be indeed a very, very distinct and different step. I would caution you upon taking that step here this afternoon.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I do appreciate the difficulty that the moving of the motion yesterday creates for you in making a determination. As I said at the outset of consideration of the motion yesterday, I do understand that such a motion does not form a part of our existing standing orders and that in fact when situations arise, as they do from time to time, that are not covered by the orders, your obligation, I assume, is to look at precedents and look at usages not only in this Parliament but in other parliaments throughout the world.
Much has been made of the fact that at one point this was a part of the standing orders of this Legislature. It has been suggested that it was deleted because it was felt to be an inappropriate mechanism. Unfortunately, none of us can make that judgement, not being part of the consideration at the time at which that order was removed. I think what is most important to note is the fact that as near as anyone can ascertain, the mechanism was never utilized.
I assume it was not utilized, Mr Speaker, because the need to utilize it never arose. Over the course of the past several weeks, as you know, during the course of routine proceedings, we have seen the introduction of bills utilized in an effort to either delay or prevent the House from getting to orders of the day. I think that is a very serious situation. In fact, there was a day in which we did not arrive at orders of the day.
I ask you to consider very, very seriously the implications of that as a mechanism to prevent this House from reaching the point in its proceedings in which it does the business of the day. The use of such a delay is a mechanism which can prevent this House from exercising its view, its authority, its action on a previous motion putting forward the will of the House. It clearly can prevent the government from proceeding with its business.
The point has been made here that the introduction of this motion is to prevent a filibuster that is currently under way. I want to assure you, Mr Speaker, there is nothing in this motion that prevents a filibuster. My concern, and it is a very serious concern, is that should a motion pass expressing the will of this House to order its business in any such way as it may choose, whether it be through the allocation of time or whatever, utilizing the routine proceedings to prevent the house from even reaching a sessional day pre-empts any other decision this House may or may not make, and I think that is a very serious situation.
We have heard much about the rights of the minority and frankly those rights are, as they should be, undeniable. There has been no effort or attempt to stifle any member from participating in the debate. As a matter of fact, on two occasions we have moved an extension of the sitting hours so that the member speaking could have more time to make his case and to make his points. We will continue to do so. We are happy to seek unanimous consent at any time to extend those hours so that he may be heard. There has been no attempt whatsoever to curtail the debate.
What concerns me very seriously is that once that matter has been completed and decided, it is absolutely necessary that the government and this House be able to go about their business. It is absolutely essential that the majority in this House as well as the minority has the right to put forward business, has the right to have issues decided, and that is as it should be.
Much has been said about the fact that this motion could be put after prayers. I do not know that. The fact remains it was not put after prayers and it was not put before oral questions. It was put under motions for a very specific purpose, so that once oral questions had been dealt with we would have some assurance that we could deal with the business of the day.
Mr Speaker, I am sure you have in your hands precedents on rulings that have been made in other parliaments under different standing orders and I am sure you have made reference to the various texts that are available to all of us. I hope you will consider very carefully the implications of what has transpired in this Legislature over the course of the past seven to 10 days in terms of routine proceedings being used to prevent this House from doing its business. We very much look forward to your ruling and we thank you for your indulgence.
I just want to say that as one of the three members of this House who was involved in the negotiation of the new standing orders, this equivalent of federal standing order 59 was never discussed for one minute in the negotiations that took place between the three representatives of the three parties leading to the amendments to the standing orders last October.
I want to indicate also that during those negotiations, in order to reach a compromise, we did consider all the time constraints that were put on our Legislative Assembly by various interests on various sides. The opposition gave up the right to ring the bells indefinitely. In fact, we have given up the right to ring the bells even for five minutes, because the government House leader has the right, as soon as those bells start, to walk across to you, Mr Speaker, and stop them by saying he wants the vote on the next parliamentary day.
Mr Sterling: The whip has with regard to the government House leader. So notwithstanding that there is an allegation that the members of the opposition party ran out the time one week ago, that could have been cut short by the government whip if he had chosen to use the existing rules. The opposition House leader asked me why I do not go on his staff. I assume they did that with good intent because they wanted to let some frustrations vent off and they allowed it to go on for a full day. I assume they knew they could do that.
We in the opposition agreed to restrict petitions to 15 minutes, because we felt in the opposition that it was absolutely necessary that every member of this Legislature have some right each sitting day to read petitions to this Legislature from the various interest groups we have to represent. We did consider limiting our right to speak, but that was never for one second a card on the table as far as the opposition was concerned.
Therefore, when we were dealing with the time of day that we are dealing with during a normal legislative day, it was clearly understood, as far as I was concerned, that we would go through the routine proceedings each day and that the government would be left with approximately two and a half to three hours a day to deal with other government business, save and except for the last two weeks of the Legislative Assembly when it can extend, unilaterally, the time for another six hours each night, if it so chooses, by motion. In effect it is unilateral, because they have in this case, of course, the overwhelming majority of the Legislature.
Therefore, I believe that the arguments put forward by my two colleagues from the New Democratic Party and by the member for Parry Sound are valid. I also want to indicate that the motion is really out of the mode of the agreement that was reached in reaching the standing orders. I think it would be a breach with regard to the understanding when those orders were drafted and would be understood to change very significantly the meaning of them by ruling in favour of the government House leader on this matter.
Mr Charlton: Just very briefly, Mr Speaker, I want to address one issue that the government House leader raised in his argument to you. He raised with you a day in the last two weeks when the House never reached orders of the day and attempted to imply that this was because the opposition parties were using routine proceedings to ensure that did not happen.
Again, as my House leader did earlier, we admit that there is a filibuster going on here and that in fact we have used routine proceedings to cause some delays, but the House leader for the government party was incorrect in implying that there was a day when our antics with routine proceedings caused this House never to reach orders of the day. The House never reached orders of the day two weeks ago because the government members in the House were unable to respond in a situation of a motion by a member of the third party for the adjournment of the House. They did not know what to do and they did not respond and the House adjourned early.
Mr Callahan: As Chairman of the standing committee on regulations and private bills, I feel I have to say something. There are some 10 to 15 bills that are being delayed, legitimate concerns of the citizens of this province, that cannot receive royal assent while this continues.
The Deputy Speaker: I listened carefully to the arguments yesterday. I have listened carefully to the arguments today. I have spent a lot of time going through the material that was provided to me, through the precedents and non-precedents in other parliaments and this Parliament, in former standing orders and in current standing orders. I have taken very careful note of the arguments heard today, and I would like to state that I will take time to look a bit more carefully. I will reserve judgement before I come out with a final statement and decision on this.
Mr Faubert: I rise on a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I feel my privilege as a member of this Legislature has been objurgated. Yesterday, the member for Markham rose on a point of privilege that was ruled not to be a point of privilege. I expect you, the Speaker, also to rule --
“It is one year since people from across this province marched on the Legislature to call on the elimination of hunger, homelessness and poverty. Since that time, poverty in Ontario has continued as an epidemic running out of control. Tens of thousands still line up at food banks to stay alive and inadequate income continues to wreck countless lives.
“Today we, the undersigned, have come back to Queen’s Park to tell you on behalf of hundreds of thousands who are suffering the effects of the poverty crisis that we can stand no more of your government’s neglect of our situation.
“Social assistance rates are still pitifully inadequate; the minimum wage is a form of legislated poverty and a complete disgrace; the crisis of affordable housing puts decent accommodation beyond the reach of huge numbers of people.
“Whereas the Peterson Liberal government has decided to charge drivers in greater Metropolitan Toronto $90 per year for a car licence plate while at the same time only charging residents in other parts of Ontario $33 per year for identical licence plates;
“Whereas the same Peterson government has in this year’s budget imposed other taxes and levies on the people and businesses of greater Metropolitan Toronto which will not be imposed on other parts of Ontario;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to express to the Liberal government our great disapproval of its policies of tax discrimination against the people of greater Metropolitan Toronto.”
Miss Martel: I have a petition signed in particular by people from northern Ontario -- North Bay, Sudbury etc. It is addressed to the assembly, stating that it has been one year since people from across this province marched on this Legislature to call for the elimination of hunger, poverty and homelessness.
Since that time, Mr Speaker, you will well know that all of those problems have continued to grow and are now at epidemic proportions. Today, as you will know and as members of the House will know, a number of people marched on this Legislature again. They have come back to tell all of us, on behalf of those others who are suffering, that the government has to respond. On their behalf, I have affixed my name to this petition. I agree with them entirely.
Your committee further recommends that the fees, and the actual cost of printing at all stages and in the annual statutes, be remitted on Bill Pr40, An Act to revive the Immanuel Christian School Society of East Toronto.
Mr Kormos: I appreciate the support that the members of this assembly -- all members from all three parties -- have given me over the last couple of weeks. I appreciate the efforts on the part of the government to make more time available to us for the discussion of this most important matter.
I want to do what I have done more than a couple of times and that is, at the onset of afternoons like this, it is always -- I should mention, if I can take this liberty, that after listening to the government House leader for the last half hour, I am wondering who is being more filibusterist, the government members or myself? I was inclined to think that the government House leader was more inclined to display filibusterist tendencies in the last half-hour than we have over the last several days.
It remains that once again today we are talking about a motion brought by the government, brought by the Liberal House leader, certainly not by us and certainly not by the third party in this instance. That motion is what we, colloquially around here, call a time allocation motion. That is what we are speaking to here and now. That is what we are speaking to today, a time allocation motion or a closure motion or a guillotine motion. That is an historical term that has been applied to these.
This particular motion that we are going to spend at least part of the afternoon with -- I do not know whether I will be able to complete this afternoon or not. This motion, moved back on Tuesday 3 April 1990, is as follows, and I read this so that the members of the assembly can address their minds once again to exactly what it is we are talking about. We are not talking about Bill 68. That is the sad part of it, because we in the New Democratic Party would dearly love to debate Bill 68. We are talking about a motion moved by the government, the purpose of which is to deny the opposition the right to discuss and the right to fulfil its obligations to the public, to its constituents, to the voters of Ontario and indeed its obligations as members of this assembly.
We are confronted once again today with a motion that speaks in the following terms, “...notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House, in relation to Bill 68” -- that is what is perhaps most troublesome about this particular time allocation motion, in that it appears at first glance to want to restrict debate solely on Bill 68, and indeed that it does.
But we know that this motion, this time allocation motion, this closure by the government majority, by the Liberals is becoming a trend, a habit; it is becoming a tendency. That is what makes it all the more important to nip this malignancy in the bud right now, as it were, if I can mix my metaphors for the briefest of moments. This is a malignancy that is affecting not just the Liberals at Queen’s Park, but clearly their federal cousins, the Tories, at Parliament Hill.
The Tories in Ottawa are as eager to employ closure motions, to stifle debate, to muzzle the opposition, to, if you will, eunuch the opposition as their Liberal clones are here at Queen’s Park, because their Liberal clones the Premier, the Minister of Financial Institutions and the rest of that Liberal caucus would want to muzzle the opposition, would want to end debate. The proof really is in the terms of this motion.
So although it appears to be in relation solely to Bill 68, and indeed this particular motion very much is, it is part of a trend, part of a tendency, something that all of us have an obligation to interrupt, to put a halt to, we must put a halt to this trend, put a halt to this tendency.
What this motion says is that “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.”
What that means in practical terms is two short afternoons. That is what this motion would have. It would have this Legislature discuss a most important piece of legislation, the 30 or so amendments that the Liberals have already tabled, the 20-plus amendments that the Conservatives have tabled. And we make no bones about it. We in the New Democratic Party have not moved any amendments to Bill 68. We see it as such a despicable, unacceptable, thoroughly nasty bit of legislation -- so despicable, unacceptable and nasty that it is beyond amendment -- the only action that is warranted with respect to Bill 68 is defeat, is to dump it, is to toss it out on the trash sheet along with the rest of the garbage.
But it remains that but two afternoons would be permitted if this House lets this motion pass, this time allocation motion; but two afternoons would be permitted pursuant to the terms of that motion for discussion of the bill, the amendments by the Liberals and the amendments by the Tories. It is just not enough time from any intelligent person’s point of view, from any thinking person’s point of view. There simply is not enough time in those two afternoons to read the amendments that are being proposed, are there, Mr Speaker?
Now, the motion that we are speaking to this afternoon goes further, because it says, “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 committee of the whole House.” That is not onerous in itself, because that is not an unreasonable expectation and, really, that is somewhat in compliance with the standard terms.
“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.” Without any debate.
This motion is really an extraordinary move on the part of the Liberals here. They do not even want to pretend that they are going to deal with the points raised by the opposition, do they, Mr Speaker? They are not even going to put on a show. They are feeling their oats. They are demonstrating an arrogance so profound and so unprecedented that they are not even going to fake it. They are simply going to say: “No. There will be no debate. We’re the majority. That’s the way we want it. That’s the way it’s going to be,” without any concern for parliamentary procedure, without any concern for tradition, without any concern for the rights and obligations of the members of the opposition.
“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” -- it does not matter how far they have progressed – “and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further amendment or debate.”
That is the motion, and that is the motion that I purport to speak to this afternoon, continuing on from yesterday. Yesterday I was interrupted by virtue of it being six of the clock while midway through my consideration of the issues raised by Mr Justice Haines with respect to Bill 68. The reason I was referring to that criticism was that it is my view that before one can consider the appropriateness of a time allocation motion, one has to look at really how weighty the issue is, really how much debate is warranted. Is it something about which there is really little at issue? Is it something about which the parties are really ad idem or is it something about which there is a whole lot of contentious stuff?
With reference to Mr Justice Haines’s criticism, again I appreciate that the Speaker could say, “Well, you could go on and refer to countless numbers of people.” Sure, and I am going to refer to more than a few, but I am going to refer to those criticisms which in themselves have significance because of their source or because of what they say or indeed because of both.
I also talked about opinion across the provincial community, and that is to say that I very strongly submit that it is important, and it should be important to each and every member of this assembly, that when one considers this time allocation motion, one considers whether or not people across the province have concerns about the bill itself. If there is no concern about Bill 68, then I can appreciate that it would require but a modest period of time for debate.
There is simply no way that one could ever buy two afternoons for committee of the whole House. Even the most trivial, most modest proposition on the part of the government could arguably require more than the briefest of times that it has allowed in this motion. But here we have a bill, a set of amendments and amendments to the amendments that constitute such major, radical change to the rights of so many people here in Ontario, and the people are well aware of that.
I noted Siobhán Gibson and her interest in this proposed legislation, Bill 68. Indeed, she gathered names on a petition which she has presented to my office, hoping that petitions would still be allowed in this Legislature and that it would be presented before the end of this week. I shall endeavour, on behalf of Siobhán Gibson, to present that petition. It is a petition that she gathered with her classmates in high school condemning Bill 68 and what it means and how it strips people in Ontario of their rights.
Edward Jup telephoned. He encourages us to carry on in this fight to acquire proper periods of time for the debate of Bill 68. Jerry Taciuk called and gave us encouragement to carry on this fight to ensure that there is a full and thorough debate about Bill 68. He is from Islington. Doug Mclntee from Burlington phoned in and said, “Making great sense about Bill 68. Congratulations.” Again, it is important to understand that people across Ontario are listening, watching and that they have concerns that Bill 68 cannot be properly debated in the short period of time allowed in this time allocation motion.
John Wever from MacDonald Place in Waterloo in a brief phone call said, “Watching you on TV doing a great job helping the case of poor victims against the rich insurance companies.” He points out that he is not a New Democratic Party supporter. He thinks that Bill 68 is a total scam for taxpayers. He says that OHIP is going to have to pick up the bill that insurance companies pay now. He talks about how sitting members whom he had voted for in the past who were not New Democrats seemed to be asleep except for around election time. Mr Wever phoned us, saying: “Liberals are backed into a corner on this issue. They know it is a bad piece of legislation.”
I want to thank those people and others who have been phoning in giving words of encouragement. I want to tell them that their opposition to Bill 68 is widespread. Their concern about the inadequate period of time that would be permitted by virtue of this time allocation motion is of great concern to us in the opposition. It should be of great concern to members of the Liberal Party.
Let me run this one past you, Mr Speaker. This motion provides about the briefest period of time for discussion of a bill that has ever been permitted in any time allocation or closure here at Queen’s Park. That is number one. Number two is that this motion was presented after about an afternoon and a half of debate, before there had been any real demonstration of an unwillingness on the part of the Legislature to deal with the matters before it. So it is, in itself, a horrible precedent.
I put this to you, Mr Speaker: The Liberals here should have great concern about this motion because when they form the opposition, when they are defeated by the electorate of Ontario -- because the people in Ontario simply are not going to tolerate representatives who vote for bad legislation like Bill 68. People of Ontario are not going to tolerate members who support Bill 68. People of Ontario are not going to tolerate members who would support regressive tax grabs.
Mr Kormos: Yes, a government that has habitually picked the pockets of hardworking people, seniors, single parents and students here in Ontario. So the Liberals should be concerned about this motion and they should be eager to defeat it, because when they are back in the opposition by virtue of a general election, then they will be the potential victims of this type of precedent. To that end, I suppose the whole matter could be resolved here and now if the Premier would simply announce an election in the province.
We would not utilize more of this House’s time to discuss this matter. We would not have to, because we could go directly to the people and let the people of Ontario decide about the future of members who would support, one, such an atrocious piece of legislation as Bill 68 is and, two, a time allocation motion like the one before us now that would restrict debate in such an unconscionable way, a motion that really reflects the jackboot mentality of the Liberals here at Queen’s Park.
Members will recall, and I do want to carry on where I left off yesterday, that I had been discussing the critique of Bill 68 by Mr Justice Haines, one that was contained in a letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions dated 8 January 1990. I know I have received some phone calls about people wanting a copy of Mr Justice Haines’ critique. They need only call us here at Queen’s Park, 965-7714, that is area code 416, and we would be pleased to send them copies of Mr Justice Haines’ critique of Bill 68 or indeed any of the other material to which we have made reference during the course of these discussions here in the Legislature.
I repeat once again, we in the opposition would dearly love to see the government, the Liberals, show sufficient courage to face the electorate over this particular issue. It remains that there is no good reason to call an election in the fall. That will be cheap opportunism on the part of a party that is going to juggle around with the polls and sort of take a stab at it, as much a stab in the dark as anything is, in view of what it could see or perceive as the polls putting it in the best possible light.
It is a government that the Supreme Court of Canada salvaged, to a certain extent, by virtue of the Starr decision. It is a government that wants to hide behind and utilize pettifoggery in its interpretation of the Supreme Court of Canada Starr decision to avoid confronting the real issues of ethics and morality. Indeed, this government breathed a sigh of relief when it realized it could hide behind the gowns of the Supreme Court of Canada when it comes to Patti Starr and fridges and paint jobs. I mean, it is the old Kelvinator and Sherwin Williams defence, is it not? It could hide behind the gowns of the Supreme Court of Canada when it comes to fridges and paint jobs. It could hide behind the obfuscation contained in its grandiose announcement of its Ontario motorist protection plan and all the glossy stuff that went along with that.
Well, we say no. We say that this warrants debate. We say that it is not good enough to be permitted but two afternoons for committee of the whole consideration. It is not good enough to be permitted but one half-day for third reading debate when that glossy announcement of the Ontario motorist protection plan is so thoroughly full of holes. Indeed, to the contrary, it is the Ontario insurance protection plan. I will tell members where this should go. This should be tossed in the trash heap as well, because it serves not to protect the interests of drivers, taxpayers or injured people in Ontario; it serves only to enhance and bolster the profitability of already profitable insurance companies.
Mr Justice Haines, in his critique -- as I say, we refer to that because that is but one of many illustrations of the need for considered debate on Bill 68. Members will recall that I had reached the point in his critique where he talks about how people are victims, in his experience. I am talking of Mr Justice Haines, appointed to the bench in 1962, serving through to 1982; appointed to the bar of Ontario in 1927 and practising personal injury law since that time. What a wealth of experience and expertise upon which to draw to provide assistance to all of us, to provide the meat for debate, a debate which is being denied us by virtue of the motion before us now.
Mr Justice Haines, in his letter to the minister, spoke about the delivery of no-fault benefits and referred to what Mr Justice Osborne found in his inquiry, and that is that “the insurance industry’s performance in this area” -- in the area of no-fault benefits -- “is nothing short of abysmal.” Atrocious, horrible, horrific, thoroughly unacceptable is what Mr Justice Osborne said, and Mr Justice Haines adopts that.
Mr Justice Haines goes on to say that, “For this reason he” -- Mr Justice Osborne -- “recommended arbitration that must be binding on the insurer.” Mr Justice Haines notes that, “While Bill 68 provides arbitration it fails to accept the companion recommendation” of Mr Justice Osborne which is so crucial to an arbitration option, “‘to establishing an arbitration division within the court system. Judges involved should have some specific interest and expertise.’” That is what Mr Justice Haines says when he adopts the language of Mr Justice Osborne.
Mr Justice Haines goes on to indicate that, “Even to pursue their meagre benefits the injured victim must now run the gauntlet with the traditionally reluctant insurer before a new bureaucracy of government” -- and this is what he says about this creature manufactured by the Liberals in Ontario -- “that almost certainly will have neither the respect nor the depth of legal experience of the existing judiciary.”
We very much want to talk with the minister, we want to debate with Liberal members the significance of that comment and we want to discover whether or not that conclusion by Mr Justice Haines is indeed substantiated by what is or what is not in Bill 68. I can tell the members that it is our position that Bill 68 does not adequately provide for dispute resolution between first parties and their insurers, does it? It does not provide for that, and Liberal members who have read the legislation know that we are entirely correct in that regard, and I see them nodding now in agreement.
It does not provide for appropriate dispute resolution between insureds and their insurers. The mechanism that it imposes -- and I know that the same persons who agreed with me on my last suggestion, the same Liberals who nodded their heads in affirmation, will do the same now, correct? Yes. The mechanism that is created “will have neither the respect nor the depth of legal experience of the existing judiciary.”
Once again, I see a large number of members of this Legislature agreeing with me. I am pleased. My concern is that without full debate those people who express agreement with me now will not have an opportunity to join in the argument and perhaps persuade their fellow Liberals of the weakness of their position, and that is to say those fellow Liberals who would persist in supporting Bill 68, notwithstanding all of its shortcomings, all of its deficiencies, all of its discriminatory qualities, all of its cruel qualities, those qualities that would take away the rights of innocent injured victims to be compensated for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
During the course of talking about this time allocation motion, I have noted that the pages have been as attentive and as interested as any member of the community could ever be. They have, I know, paid close attention to the discussion about time allocation, close attention to the discussion about the necessary discussion of Bill 68 that is inherent in any debate about time allocation. Those pages will form their own conclusions. Again, we certainly do not expect them --
Indeed, in their role they are very much like you, Mr Speaker. They have to maintain an independence, but that does not mean that, when they go home at night and reflect on what they have heard and in their minds reflect upon what is just and what is unjust and what is fair and what is unfair, they cannot form opinions. Indeed, they are entitled to do that. They are as entitled to do that as you are. What they are prohibited from doing is, of course, expressing those opinions while they are in their role as pages, just as you are as Speaker. Similarly, they are prohibited from letting those opinions prejudice them, interfere with the performance of their duties.
Just because some of the Liberals here persist in supporting this time allocation motion, I would not expect any of the pages to refuse to get water, let’s say, for those same Liberal members or to treat them with any less respect than they treat the members of the opposition or the members of the third party. I know it is difficult for the pages, but that is the challenge they face, really, as young professionals who display a talent and indeed an aptitude and a cleverness about them, as impressive a group of pages as we have ever had here at Queen’s Park.
I bet you right now, Mr Speaker, that more than a few of them will be in this Legislature in the years to come, not as pages but as members of this assembly, or perhaps as Speaker. Indeed, it has been pointed out that if the government does not withdraw this crummy motion for time allocation, notwithstanding that it will take them 10 years, give or take, to finish high school and university, they may be here in time to carry on with this debate about time allocation and Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: I would not count on that because I will bet the member, knowing how bright some of these young people -- most if not all of them -- are, they would have persuaded the Liberal members to dump Bill 68 and to dump this time allocation days ago. I extend my compliments to all of the pages who have graced us with their presence over the last several weeks. Their families can by very proud of them, and they should be very proud of themselves. I know that they all face promising futures.
Mr Justice Haines, talking about Bill 68 -- again, it is important to look at the concerns expressed because this is what will indicate or illustrate or demonstrate what has to be debated during the course of committee of the whole.
Mr Cousens: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would just share with the House the passing of Harold Ballard. I would like to make a comment on that because I know it would be of interest to other members of the House, just for a brief moment.
Today we will mourn the passing of one of Canada’s finest sportsmen, Harold Ballard. He passed away after a feisty battle with illness. He exemplified the true, albeit old-fashioned, all-Canadian spirit of hockey. He was far more generous and charitable than many of us realize.
His vastly improved Maple Leafs are still in a position where they can make it to the top. Hockey in Ontario suffered a major setback today with Mr Ballard’s passing. Young Ontario hockey players never had a better crusader working to ensure them an opportunity above all others in the big hockey league.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): I thank the honourable member for bringing that to our attention. I would suggest to other members that possibly tomorrow would be a more appropriate time for all members who wish to participate, representing all parties.
Mr Kormos: I am pleased to have this ongoing opportunity to talk about why we must, not just should, abandon this time allocation motion, why we must defeat it; why not only New Democrats will vote against it, and rightly so, but why enough Liberals must vote against it if they are going to fulfil their commitment to their constituents, if they are going to fulfil their commitment to their oath upon becoming members of this assembly, if they are going to fulfil their commitment to their respect for parliamentary procedure and democratic principles.
After I am finished with Mr Justice Haines’s critique, I am going to start referring to the statement the Minister of Financial Institutions made to the Ontario Legislature back on 23 October 1989. That was on the occasion of first reading of Bill 68. I am going to refer to that because there are a whole bunch of things in there that give rise to the need for a prolonged debate over Bill 68.
“Even to pursue their meagre benefits, the injured victim must now run the gauntlet with the traditionally reluctant insurer before a new bureaucracy of government that almost certainly will have neither the respect nor the depth of legal experience of the existing judiciary.”
“As disputes between policyholders and insurers will be decided by government officers, predictably the government will be forced into the insurance business, with the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board achieving something of a cancerous growth in terms of manpower and government revenues.” Mr Justice Haines talks about the malignancy that Bill 68 is going to nurture, that Bill 68 is going to foster.
“Equally predictable, the promised saving to the public because of the threshold will become a mere down payment for the new system. Much like the rent review board, it can be anticipated that compensation cases will grow to a two-year backlog. The government may even be forced to extend the two-year limitations period Bill 68 allows for insurance companies to be sued.”
Think about that, Mr Speaker. You know exactly what he is talking about because you are an experienced trial lawyer. You know exactly what he is talking about because you know, Mr Speaker, as an experienced member of the bar in Ontario and a respected one, that currently the limitation period for motor vehicle accidents under the Highway Traffic Act, as I understand it, is two years and that the limitation period is sort of like a threshold. It bars people from pursuing their remedies, does it not? Quite right.
What Mr Justice Haines, with his wealth of experience, indicates is that there is going to be such an incredible backlog in the administration of the commission and tribunal that this government would purport to create that it may even necessitate altering the long-standing limitation period of two years. This is what he writes, “The government may even be forced to extend the two-year limitations period Bill 68 allows for insurance companies to be sued.” It means the limitation period for actions and then the new limitation period for suing insurance companies themselves, because even in Bill 68 that limitation period is extended to be compatible or concurrent with the limitation period under the Highway Traffic Act for personal injury actions pursuant to motor vehicle accidents. He is saying that no, the new, expanded two-year limitation period that Bill 68 provides may not even be adequate because of the incredible backlog that there is going to be.
Here is another tax grab that is hidden away in Bill 68. The Liberals at Queen’s Park were not content just to pick pockets; they want to take the taxpayers of Ontario, turn them upside down, shake them by their ankles and shake every last nickel and dime out of them, do they not? I know members understand that, another hidden tax grab contained in Bill 68. This is what Mr Justice Haines has to say: “It’s foreseeable that government will be asked to expand its legal aid plan to assist injured and impecunious accident victims.” Members know what that means.
Mr Kormos: For the benefit of that member, I will explain it. It means a victim without money. Does the member understand now? Yes, the impecunious accident victim. Again, for the benefit of that member, it is spelled i-m-p-e-c-u-n-i-o-u-s, and if the member does not have a dictionary I will lend him mine.
The impecunious accident victims or the injured accident victims will be forced to call upon legal aid plans in their respective areas. Legal aid will be called upon to assist these people, injured and impecunious accident victims, with both arbitration and with the lawsuits, because there is nothing about this top-heavy scheme that the Liberals create in terms of their so-called commission and dispute resolution in Bill 68 that precludes the use of lawyers. Indeed, lawyers are going to become busier than ever under Bill 68, and it is just as well because there are a few members of the Liberal caucus who practise that fine profession who are probably going to see themselves back in their law offices after the next general election if they persist in supporting Bill 68.
So to those Liberal lawyers here at Queen’s Park I say, “Don’t worry. If Bill 68 passes, you will not have a job at Queen’s Park because your constituents are going to vote them out, but there will be tons of litigation for you because Bill 68 provides litigation opportunities that the present system has never dared contemplate.” That is the truth. I see there are three or four of those Liberal lawyers nodding their heads, and indeed they have got their pocket calculators out and they are looking at the cost differential. Put the calculators away. The members are going to do just fine.
Mr Curling: Mr Speaker, I want to draw your attention to the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly, orders 19(d)1 and 3, especially order 3, where it states if the member, “Persists in needless repetition or raises matters that have been decided during the current session.”
Let me tell you, on my point of order, Mr Speaker, what this has caused. There is An Act to revive Gursikh Sabha Canada, which was introduced as Bill Pr58, which this corporation is awaiting in order to proceed with its business of the day. The member continues to repeat things that have been stated before, and this corporation cannot conduct any business unless we proceed with the process of the day. I do not mind being here listening to things that are new, but this continuous repetition that has caused small companies and small corporations like Gursikh Sabha Canada, which want to proceed with their business -- I would like you to rule on this matter of repetition, Mr Speaker. I can submit to you the Instant Hansards and you can read them too. I know you have listened very carefully, but just for your aid I will submit these to you, if you wish, but I do not think it is necessary because you have listened and heard repetition. I think it is a disgrace that we hold up this situation and this organization and many organizations like that across this province that need to continue their business.
That party and honourable member who advocate for the small man -- as Mr Broadbent says, the “average man” is now waiting to continue his business. I think this repetition has caused a lot of embarrassment and maybe for this corporation not to exist. I ask that you rule on that, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Scarborough North has made an inquiry of me in terms of a specific ruling, which brought to my attention, interestingly enough, that the member must have the old abridged edition of our standing orders, because there is a new abridged edition of October 1989. I only point that out to the honourable member for Scarborough North, but he is not the only one, because from time to time it is brought to my attention on various sections which is the old edition.
Notwithstanding that, it is a very important point of order and I am willing to listen to the honourable member for Nickel Belt respond to the honourable member’s point of order so that I may have the opportunity of having full dialogue.
The member for Scarborough North should know better than to challenge the member for Welland-Thorold, who in his very short length of time here has made an enormous contribution to the debate. I should remind -- I know I do not have to remind the Speaker, but it is clear that the government House leader had the opportunity to call any order of business he chose when it was his opportunity to do so. The government House leader chose to call the order of business dealing with closure, time allocation, call it what you will. Surely, given that fact, the member for Welland-Thorold has an obligation to debate that very important motion.
Hon Mr Ward: The only other comment I had is that there are important matters before this House. I think the member has made a very legitimate point, but we are prepared to allow for extra time and I am willing to move that, pursuant to standing order 9(c), we extend the hours past the normal adjournment time of six o’clock.
The Acting Speaker: Speaking to the original point of order by the honourable member for Scarborough North, I listened very closely to the honourable member, I listened very closely to the honourable member for Nickel Belt, and I want to remind all honourable members that when I have had the opportunity of sitting in the chair and acting as Acting Speaker, I have always been very conscientious to make sure that each and every honourable member, no matter what his political affiliation, always has the benefit of the doubt in terms of allowing his expression to be heard. I can only think of the opportunity that I gave to the honourable member for Yorkview yesterday. Even when he stood up without asking for a point of order, I allowed him the opportunity to stand, recognizing him so that he might express his thoughts and concerns.
The difficulty I have, and I say to him that with a number of humble years of experience that I have had in these chambers, it is not the precedent of this House for this office to make a new precedent in terms of such a ruling.
I have been conscientious from time to time when I have sat in the chair to ensure that the honourable member for Welland-Thorold has at least acknowledged in his discourse recognition of the time allocation motion in his discussion. I have been very conscientious when not in the chair, watching the monitor, to make sure, as tedious as some of us might think it is, that his remarks are consistent throughout the day.
I listened very closely before taking the chair. He indicated that he had an approach this afternoon which covered a large area of explanation. I have been listening now in the chair, and if from time to time it is repetitious to me, I have reminded him, which I think he might acknowledge, but under the circumstances, I have to advise the honourable member for Scarborough North that I do not now recognize his point of order and rule that the honourable member for Welland-Thorold’s remarks are not in contravention of our standing orders which all of us have acknowledged. I would now allow him to continue.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, maybe you can help me. As I understand it, during a consideration of a previous point you did recognize me. I had the floor. I made a motion. The standing order says that such a motion should be put forthwith.
The Acting Speaker: I thank the honourable House leader for his moving the motion. Again, I have had the opportunity -- would you like there to be further discussion on the possibility of the government always allowing the full ambit of discussion?
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would only disagree with the member for Parry Sound on one matter. I do not think that the government House leader does know that he cannot move a motion on a point of order.
Hon Mr Ward: My only concern is that I was trying to be helpful, to allow some additional time to consider the matter that was raised by the member from Scarborough to give a little more time to the member for Welland-Thorold to get to the point.
Mr Farnan: I would at this time like to invite all of my colleagues in the House to join me in recognizing the outstanding contribution of the member for Welland-Thorold in this fantastic explanation, and a round of applause.
The Acting Speaker: Order. He is taking advantage of my good graces, because he was to speak to the point of order of the honourable House leader moving a motion. It is only because I recognized the honourable member for Cambridge that I will allow one further recognition, speaking to the point of order.
Mr McClelland: Actually, it is a point of clarification, because I want to know: Does the member for Cambridge mean that the member who has been speaking for four days has finally broken through the record and that is the reason he is being applauded?
The Acting Speaker: Order. The honourable House leader had proposed under a point of order to bring forward a motion, and after listening to all discussion, I can only advise him that of course his motion is out of order and I would like to recognize the honourable member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr Kormos: I am indeed flattered by the support that I receive, not only from the members of my own caucus, the New Democrats, but from the Liberals sitting here in the Legislature. The applause of my fellow New Democrats warms my heart; the applause I just heard from the many Liberals sitting here excites my soul, I tell them that. I welcome the support, not only of my own colleagues in the New Democratic Party, but I especially welcome the kind, kind gestures of support by the Liberals here.
Let’s talk for the briefest of moments and let me interrupt my remarks to point out that there is a simple solution to this bottleneck, to this, as it is, intellectual gridlock that appears to have been met here. All that the House leader for the Liberals has to do is withdraw his motion. All that the House leader has to do is withdraw his motion. Now I tell the House leader, please, just send over a note, or the siblings Grimm, House leader or whip, one or the other, send over a note that I can pass on to my House leader, saying the government recognizes, the Liberals recognize, how dumb and stupid this time allocation motion is. The government and Liberals recognize really how much time could have been devoted to Bill 68 but is necessarily, because of their time allocation motion, their effort to guillotine, so unnecessarily being spent on this motion, because it is so important.
Do not forget the comment that was made, and that is to say that the government House leader orders the business of the day, does he not? It was only at the grace of the government House leader that I was able to carry on my discussion of this motion today. Had the government House leader put other business before the House, I would have had to wait until tomorrow, or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday, to carry on with my discussion of this time allocation motion.
So there you go. The Liberals are indeed the authors of their own misfortune, are they not? The Liberals have basically cut off their own noses to spite their own faces, and that is sad, because what we are talking about here is a demonstration of disdain, disregard for the public, for the rights of the public, for the rights of taxpayers. The Liberals, by virtue of trying to ram through highly unpopular legislation, are generating a confrontation here at Queen’s Park that is going to leave its scar on this institution for a long, long time, and that is a sad thing. It is one thing to confront individuals. It is one thing to even attack personalities. But it is another to show thorough disregard to the rights of the public of the province. I am talking about millions and millions of people in the province of Ontario who place a great deal of trust in this institution, and that trust is being betrayed by the Liberal members of this assembly.
So I say in some respects it is a sad day. It is a sad day that the Liberals would want to impose their arrogant will on a public that says, “No, no, no, to Bill 68.” It is a sad day that the Liberals of Ontario would sell out the public, sell out the senior citizens, sell out the children, sell out the women, sell out the farmers and the small business people, all at the demand and the insistence of a very profitable automobile insurance industry. It is a sad day, and I am saddened by it.
I know my colleagues in the New Democratic Party are saddened by it, and I know that there are Liberal members who want to vote against this time allocation motion. There are Liberal members who want to let their constituents know that they are not going to join with the jackboot tactics of their Liberal leader and their Liberal majority. These Liberal members want to be able to go home to their ridings, if they do indeed go home this weekend, it all depends on whether or not there is an extension of hours tomorrow, but these Liberals would want to be able to go home to tell their constituents, “I voted against time allocation, I voted against the motion that the Liberal House leader brought to restrict the amount of time for debate over Bill 68,” so that they can go back to their ridings and tell the people, so that they can tell their families, so that they can tell their children, so that they can tell their kids that their mom or their dad believes in democracy.
So I know that there are Liberals here today who want their House leader to withdraw this motion. There are Liberals here today who would want the question to be called, so that they can vote against time allocation, so that when they go home they can tell their kids that their dad or their mom believes in democracy, believes in the principles that are centuries old in our parliamentary tradition.
I feel badly for those same people, because the force of the jackboot does not just oppress the opposition, it oppresses those same Liberal members who would dearly love to vote against their House leader and vote against the directions and the instructions of the auto insurance industry but who are fearful for some reason about doing that. They are fearful about that, or perhaps they will not get donations from the auto insurance industry at election time like so many Liberals did.
Let me tell those people that there are other sources of funding at election time. You can hold bake sales. You can hold raffles. You can hold auctions. You cannot rely on the auto insurance industry for all of your funding. There are other ways to do it.
Mr Callahan: -- imputing motives to members of this House as to why they would vote on this legislation. I am asking you, Mr Speaker, to rule on the fact that he should withdraw it. It is certainly a comment that should be made by no member of this House, and this gentleman has made it consistently for four days.
The Acting Speaker: Actually, I missed the point of order. I am not sympathetic to your comment that for the last four days he has imputed motives. That is a generalization that from time to time we want to make in these chambers. If you want to speak specifically to what the honourable member said in terms of imputing motives about the manner in which they should or should not vote to the legislation, I am maybe a little sympathetic, and I could only advise the honourable member that from time to time imputing motives in terms of what other members should or should not do under our standing orders is not allowed.
The Acting Speaker: I am supportive of that. If the honourable member for Brampton South is so offended that he feels -- do you feel personally that the honourable member for Welland-Thorold indicated specifically that he was imputing motives in terms of why you are supporting the legislation?
The Acting Speaker: Just as soon as you sit down. I will have the opportunity of responding. Thank you very much. The difficulty I have from time to time is in terms of the generalizations that honourable members make. In this particular case, you personally feel affronted. I am sympathetic with that because I think the adherence to proper decorum in these chambers is foremost in the Chair’s mind.
I would only ask the honourable member for Welland-Thorold in the fairness of approach in terms of imputing motives, that you withdraw the statement suggesting that in any degree whatsoever you were imputing motives to other colleagues of ours in the chambers.
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your direction and guidance once again. I want to tell you now that if I have ever imputed motive in the past, if I have imputed motive in the present and if I ever do it in the future, I withdraw it now. I tell you that, Mr Speaker, because I am the last person in this House who would want to violate the standing rules.
We are the ones who fight for them on a daily basis. Is that not true, Mr Speaker? We are the ones who fight for them. We are the ones who stand up and tell this Legislature and the province that what the Liberals are doing when they try to impose time allocation is repugnant and repulsive and what the Liberals do when they attempt to impose closure is abominable. It is an affront to every fairminded person in the province.
We in the New Democratic Party are the ones who have to constantly resist the assaults of an arrogant majority, a majority that does not speak for the seniors of Ontario, a majority that does not speak for the working people, the men and women who work in our factories and shops, or for the single mothers or for the youngsters. They are silent when it comes to the rights of those people who, as innocent injured victims, would be denied compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life in some 95 per cent of all cases. But they speak loudly and clearly for the auto insurance industry, do they not?
They have no difficulty articulating and presenting the interests of the auto insurance industry. That is what this motion is all about; that is what these interruptions are all about. We are talking about Liberals who have been Starr-struck and who have been identified as the beneficiaries of illegally diverted charitable funds. We are talking about Liberals whose staff, we are told, got the old Kelvinator and Sherwin-Williams handling, the old fridge and paint job treatment. We are talking about a party that wants to pass legislation that is going to create a $1-billion windfall for the auto insurance industry. They know it. They knew it before we knew it because their secret studies revealed that to them.
So we will speak on behalf of the seniors. We in the New Democratic Party will speak on behalf of the workers, the small business people and the children who are going to be victims, the single mothers, the farmers and the farm workers, the unemployed and the middle class, the middle class in this province that is being hammered to death by the regressive tax policies of this Liberal, cloned-Tory government.
Let’s remember what Mr Justice Haines had to say about Bill 68. After we consider what Mr Justice Haines had to say about Bill 68, we will talk about what Mr Justice Barr had to say about Bill 68. Let me carry on, because this is indeed a serious matter. It is a serious one for all of us in the New Democratic Party because we are fighting for innocent injured victims, we are fighting for taxpayers and we are fighting for drivers in Ontario. We are fighting for an opportunity to have issues like the Liberal attempt to strip away rights, considerable rights, from every person in Ontario thoroughly debated before they are voted on.
Let me tell you what Mr Justice Haines has to say, Mr Speaker. We would have finished the Justice Haines material at around four o’clock had it not been for the interruptions of the Liberals. Once again, I know that there are people out there who are saying that I am involved in a filibuster. I wonder, though, because I am involved in a serious address of the issues. When it comes down to who is doing the filibustering and who is not, it seems to me that the Liberals have been doing an awfully effective job of prolonging this and making it longer than would ever be necessary, were they to not interrupt and were they to let us carry on with this debate and with this exchange.
Let’s talk once again about what Mr Justice Haines has got to say about Bill 68, because that is what is so horribly important in this discussion about time allocation. He writes about the burden that Bill 68 is going to put on legal aid systems, legal aid plans in jurisdictions across Ontario, because injured and impecunious accident victims will be going to legal aid in incredible numbers seeking help with both arbitration and their lawsuits.
Then he goes on to point out that the reason plaintiffs, the reason injured people need lawyers is because the insurance companies have lawyers and because insurance companies have incredible wealth, incredible resources to use in their attack on innocent victims. Mr Justice Haines writes: “Of course, the complexity of this new bureaucracy will compel insurers to hire far greater numbers of ‘in-house’ legal staff to attend mediations and arbitrations, leading inevitably to an acceleration of the increase in auto insurance premiums.”
What Mr Justice Haines writes in his letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions is this: “What is evident is that your government has simply not thought through the consequences of its proposed legislation. Experience has taught me that the indirect adverse effects of legislation can be far more reaching than the direct effects contemplated at the time of enactment.”
That is Mr Justice Haines with his wealth of experience: appointed to the bar in 1927, appointed to the bench in 1962, semi-retired in 1982 and serving five more years, conducting 1000 successful pre-trials in that five-year period from 1982 to 1987, an outstanding member of both the bar and the bench during that magnificent career.
Mr Justice Haines writes: “There are additional foreseeable consequences. With the basic exception of the convicted impaired driver” -- and that was without Mr Justice Haines talking about how this legislation, Bill 68, can treat a drunk driver better than it treats his or her victim. How does it do that? It ensures that drunk drivers will receive wage replacement benefits. What it means is that --
One of the problems with talking about sometimes complex things here in this House is that simple members sometimes have difficulty understanding complex things. They tend to get confused and that is why I feel compelled to go slowly sometimes and sometimes why I feel compelled to repeat a difficult phrase or a sentence that has multisyllabic words in it. I understand that the member who just raised the point of order is having difficulty following along and is having difficulty distinguishing one concept from another and I am trying to be helpful.
If that member who raised the point of order will slow down and relax and not get his shorts in a knot and pay attention, he will understand that we are carrying on through this bit of correspondence that the Minister of Financial Institutions received from Mr Justice Haines. What this illustrates is what I suggested to you yesterday, Mr Speaker: that the minister did not share this correspondence, this critique, of Mr Justice Haines with the members of the Liberal caucus. Let me carry on, please. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that encouragement. Let me carry on.
What Mr Justice Haines writes is, “What is evident is that your government” -- and he is talking about the Liberals as he writes to the Minister of Financial Institutions -- “has simply not thought through the consequences of its proposed legislation.” That is something we said numerous times during the course of the committee hearings, the brief hearings of the standing committee on general government.
I apologize if some members of the House are unable to hear me. The rustling of pages from over there in the Liberal ranks where they are trying to keep up is, I am sure, disconcerting for some of the Liberal members.
Mr Justice Haines goes on and points out that experience has taught him -- and here I am repeating myself because I had to indicate to those members who are unfamiliar with this man’s distinguished career that we are talking about a gentleman who was appointed to the bar in 1927, who was appointed to the bench in 1962 and who served as an outstanding member of our trial bench in this province, in the Supreme Court of Ontario, until 1982. From 1982 to 1987, Mr Justice Haines participated in some 1,000 pre-trials where he successfully assisted in the settlement of disputes in personal injury actions.
I am impressed by that type of career. I am disappointed in the fact that some Liberal members would belittle Mr Justice Haines and not accord a gentleman of his stature the respect he deserves, but they will live with the consequences of their own actions. Mr Justice Haines writes, “There are additional foreseeable consequences,” and this is where I was at the point of the last interruption. I was talking about how the government’s, the Liberals’ auto insurance legislation can treat a drunk driver better than it treats that drunk’s innocent victim.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Let me tell you what happens to a drunk driver. Perhaps this warrants recalling an example that I utilized the other day. We talked about the 14-, 13- or 12-year-old kid on his or her way home from school. We talked about a kid who obeys all the rules of the road, who looks before he or she crosses the street, who makes sure that the signs saying “Walk” or “Don’t walk” are appropriately lit before he or she crosses.
This little kid, who has been taught to do all the right things and indeed does all the right things, notwithstanding that, gets smashed to the ground by the car of a drunk driver. He gets smashed to the ground by the car of a drunk driver.
Mr Kormos: If the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere would listen, he would understand and he would be able to tell his constituents what Bill 68 is about. Quite frankly, I am not here to argue with the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere. I am going to take a few minutes to educate him, if that is at all possible.
We have a drunk driver who smashes a kid to the ground and the kid suffers maybe, the example I used last time, a broken back. What that means to that little kid is a whole lot of pain and suffering. It means a whole lot of loss of enjoyment of life. It means, as we have talked about before, three, four, maybe five months in the hospital in traction with the wires, the pulleys, the pushing, the pulling, the contraptions and the adjustments. It means missing a year of school because that kid who is in traction, that little kid, the innocent injured victim, cannot participate in academic work, so loses out, let’s say, on grade 8.
Even when he is released from the hospital, even when that little 12- or 13- or 14-year-old kid is released from the hospital, he still cannot go back to school after the traction is over. He has to go home and recuperate there for another eight, nine or ten months. What that means is that that kid misses another year of school. Is that not right? So now that kid has missed two years of school and has undergone pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that is almost immeasurable, certainly unenviable.
I should perhaps explain. When we are talking about this time allocation motion we have to talk about its inadequacy, because of course we oppose it. We insist that it is an inadequate period of time in which to discuss Bill 68, either in committee of the whole House or during third reading.
To illustrate the inadequacy of the time allocation, it is important for us to point out to you, Mr Speaker, and to the members of this House, how complex Bill 68 is, to the end of demonstrating that a mere two afternoons is insufficient in which to completely and properly -- most importantly, properly -- discuss Bill 68.
I tendered to the proposition that drunk drivers are treated better by the Liberals under Bill 68 than their victims can be. I pointed out that the car thief under the Liberals’ Bill 68 can get better treatment than the victim of that car thief. Now I am going to illustrate how that can happen, to demonstrate why the closure motion is so grossly inadequate. This is but a reflection of the real scope of debate that ought to be taking place and that will not be permitted by this highly restrictive closure motion.
Again, the proposition that the Liberals’ legislation can treat a drunk driver better than it can treat an innocent injured victim, the proposition that this Liberal legislation can treat a car thief better than it can treat the victim, is significant, is it not, Mr Speaker?
I apologize for the interruption the member for Brantford imposed on us. I am not going to backtrack to the beginning of the example, but I have to backtrack a little bit to make sure that we have not lost a portion of it along the way. Sadly there are people here who are so unconcerned about this time allocation motion that they would prefer to deal with it by way of interruptions, would prefer to deal with it by way of petty interjections.
What we are talking about is a piece of legislation, Bill 68, the auto insurance legislation, which can treat, in circumstances, a drunk driver better than it treats the victim, which can treat a car thief better than it treats the innocent injured victim.
We spoke about the little kid who is crossing the street, gets mowed down by a drunk driver and suffers a broken back. That is not an unrealistic injury. We talked about that kid, and again it could be anybody’s kid here in this Legislature. It could be any kid anywhere in Ontario, because we know these types of accidents happen. We are talking about a kid who suffers a broken back, who suffers the pain and loss of enjoyment of life associated with three, four, five months of traction in a hospital room, who loses that year of school, who has to go home for more recuperation even when the traction is finished and loses a second year of school.
Notwithstanding a broken back, notwithstanding being a perfectly innocent injured victim, notwithstanding the pain and suffering that kid has to endure through no fault of his or her own, and the loss of enjoyment of life -- no chance to play with his or her schoolmates; no chance to ice skate in the winter or to play baseball in the summer, or soccer or rugby or football in the fall; no chance to participate with his or her family in the summer outings during summer vacation. It is called loss of enjoyment of life and it is called lost opportunities.
Do not forget that a kid who then is two years behind -- it is also called lost friends, because that school kid, that 12-year-old, 13-year-old or 14-year-old school kid’s friends have moved on two grades up. So when that kid goes back to school, those playmates, those classmates, are no longer there.
The Liberals’ insurance scheme, the one they are trying to ram through this Legislature without debate, the insurance scheme the insurance industry wants so badly that it can taste it, would give that kid nothing by way of compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life; not a cent.
That is what this Liberal government wants for the victims of drunk drivers: not a cent in compensation for pain and suffering, not a cent in compensation for loss of enjoyment of life and for the two years delayed entry into the workforce --
Mr Kormos: -- surely, once again, a measurable economic loss, even from the most conservative figure of $25,000 a year; two years, that would be equal to some $50,000 -- that kid suffers by way of lost earnings because of that two-year delayed entry into the workforce. What this means is that kid’s classmates are out there in the workforce earning that while that child is still in school. Again, not a penny for economic loss.
This is where the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere really should listen, because if the drunk driver who smashes that kid to the ground bangs his or her head against the windshield of the car and has to miss work for two or three or four weeks, that drunk driver could collect up to $600 a week from the insurance company for the lost wages. Is that not remarkable? The innocent injured victim with the broken back receives not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life, for the delayed entry into the workforce, for the economic loss, yet the drunk driver can collect up to $600 a week in wage loss if he or she bangs his or her head.
How does that happen, Mr Speaker? I will tell you, because, oh yes, the Liberals thought that they were going to cover their proverbial butts by excluding drunk drivers from compensation. But then what they conceded was that you can only exclude a drunk driver from compensation after the drunk driver has been convicted, and we know that with the court system the way it is in this province, backlogged the way it is because the Attorney General refuses to provide adequate court space across Ontario, there is not a drunk driver anywhere in Ontario who cannot delay his or her trial for six months, a year, possibly two in some parts of Brampton and Toronto.
This means that drunk driver gets to muck around with the rules so that he or she can collect $600 a week in wage replacement while the victim, the kid smashed to the ground with a broken back, receives not a penny. That is how it happens.
This legislation would provide to the car thief lost wages up to the tune of $600 a week. The car thief who smashes the stolen car -- let’s say it was the car thief who mowed the 15-year-old or 14-year-old or 13-year-old kid to the ground and broke that kid’s back -- could collect up to $600 a week in lost wages. Yet the kid smashed to the ground collects not a penny in compensation, nothing for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
That is how this legislation approaches the car thief and the drunk driver, and that is what the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere had better start understanding, because the people in his riding understand, just as people everywhere else in Ontario understand, that this legislation is the most unfair, the least just, the most unconscionable, the least reasonable auto insurance scheme that could ever be imposed by anybody on drivers and taxpayers and innocent injured victims here in Ontario. I know people here know it. So be it.
There are going to be Liberal lackeys who persist in having their little strings pulled by the insurance companies. There are going to be Liberals who close their minds to understanding what the legislation is all about or indeed, more pathetically, simply lack the capacity to ever understand what this legislation is really all about. For those people it is a sad day and there is little that we can do for them now, but there is a lot that their constituents will do for them. Come the next general election, their constituents can arrange for an early retirement, quick as a boo, because that is what is going to happen to a whole lot of Liberals who persist in supporting this legislation. Their constituents are going to arrange for early retirements. Their constituents are going to say, “Out to pasture, because you won’t represent us but you Liberals will represent the interests of the insurance companies, the wealthy, powerful insurance companies in this province.”
Do you know what the problem with that is, Mr Speaker? It is this: Drivers and taxpayers can vote; insurance companies cannot. If members want to talk about fault, that is the fault in the Liberal logic, inherent in their support for this time allocation motion. Is that not fair to say? Of course it is. That is the fault in the relationship between the Liberal members and their bad legislation.
We were talking about Mr Justice Haines -- remember, Mr Speaker? -- and his learned critique of Bill 68. I know that sometimes it seems as if we are drifting off to the side, to the left or to the right -- preferably to the left. All I can promise is this: Sometimes a particular proposition needs a little bit of setup. You have to lay some groundwork for it. Mr Speaker, you know what that is like. You have to paint a background before you can hone in on the specific or on the particular. So when I appear, to your skilled judgement, Mr Speaker, to be wandering astray, trust me and believe me in this regard. I promise you that I am merely painting the background so that we can deal with the specific, so that we can --
Mr Justice Haines talked about additional foreseeable consequences. He did not really analyse how this bill in fact was going to compensate drunk drivers as often as not in a way that victims were not compensated. What he points out is that the public perceives a system wherein there is apparent equal compensation of an at-fault and not-at-fault driver. The public perceives this as a system that rewards the wrongdoer at the expense of the innocent victim whose compensation entitlements have been abrogated, and they will be angry.
Do members understand what is happening here? This legislation, with its design -- its design is to generate a billion bucks worth of windfall profits for the auto insurance industry. That is what this legislation is ultimately all about. To achieve that end it has to take away compensation for over 95 per cent of all innocent injured accident victims. It has to deny them, strip them of the right to that compensation. It is taking longtime rights away from innocent injured victims. To achieve the end, which is an ultimate goal of giving the auto insurance industry new billion-dollar-a-year profits, to get that money for the auto insurance industry, it has to take it away from innocent injured accident victims. The bill does that effectively.
I know that any number of people here would agree with Mr Justice Haines in this regard. I know that members of the Ontario New Democrats would agree; I know that members of the Conservative Party would agree; I know that there are members here in the Liberal caucus who would agree, and I know that people like Siobhán Gibson would agree with that proposition -- that people will sense a great unfairness, a great injustice, when the at-fault driver is treated as well and the same as the not-at-fault driver, as the innocent injured victim. That is what Mr Justice Haines talks about.
When we talk about Mr Justice Barr’s critique of Bill 68 we can talk a little bit if you wish, Mr Speaker -- I appreciate the opportunity -- about how Mr Justice Barr, in his long experience as a lawyer and as a member of the bench, how people do perceive that injustice to be one that is simply not acceptable.
Mr Justice Haines says that ultimately this will make people angry, make them mad. “Such notions,” he writes, “violate traditional and fundamental human values.” “We know,” Mr Justice Haines writes, “that a sense of injustice makes people want to tear things down, that it breeds resentments that sooner or later will focus on the conclusion that government sold out to the insurance companies and sacrificed the little guy.”
The judgement is in. The verdict is in. Mr Justice Haines announced it to the Minister of Financial Institutions back in January. This legislation will breed resentment and will focus on the conclusion that government sold out to the insurance companies and sacrificed the little guy. That is the judgement of Mr Justice Haines of the Supreme Court of Ontario, and it is a finding that is very much based on the facts. It is a finding that is beyond criticism. Here is a government, a Liberal government, an Ontario Liberal government that sold out the little guy to the insurance companies. Here is a government, the Liberals of Ontario, that threw the fight, that took a dive, that sold out the little guy in favour of the big and wealthy and powerful auto insurance interests in this province.
I say it to you, Mr Speaker. Mr Justice Haines of the Supreme Court of Ontario, now retired, said it to the Minister of Financial Institutions back at the beginning of the year. What a sad conclusion for people in Ontario to reach -- sad because it constitutes a betrayal of the trust that they put in their elected members, who were elected as Liberals; true because the facts simply support it. The facts do not permit those same people to come to any other conclusion than that the Liberals in Ontario sold out the little people in favour of the big and wealthy and powerful auto insurance interests.
I say once again the facts support no other conclusion. Indeed, the facts, when accumulated, strengthen and corroborate that conclusion because members will discover, as so many people have, when they check the books, that those same auto insurance companies that are going to enjoy billion-dollar windfalls in the first year alone spent over a $100,000 providing contributions to Liberal candidates in the last provincial general election. My goodness, that is why this bill warrants full debate, far more than the briefest of time that will be allowed it if the Liberals have their way.
That is why this motion before us now, the one that was moved by the Liberal House leader back on 3 April 1990, right here in this Legislature by the House leader -- and I refer to Votes and Proceedings, Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, volume 98. It is for the day Tuesday, 3 April 1990. There it is, the motion that we are debating now; the motion that would hamstring, that would smother, that would eunuch the opposition. The motion that would let this government, let these Liberals jackboot their way through this august chamber.
Mr Justice Haines goes on, and we are almost finished with the Haines analysis. It is important not to give it short shrift because it is as thorough -- but again, it is not the only analysis of Bill 68. I understand that. It is not the only analysis of Bill 68. Other critics of Bill 68 do not necessarily agree with Mr Justice Haines, which is why we are going to examine their criticisms and their critiques once we are finished with that of Mr Justice Haines. I do not want it to ever be said that we in the New Democratic Party would be so narrow in our approach as to not encourage a full and meaningful debate so that all perspectives can be discussed and revealed, which is why those criticisms that are not in line with Mr Justice Haines are going to be spoken of by us as being a valuable component of this debate as well.
Not that they support Bill 68, because, sadly, Bill 68 is quite indefensible. But they provide different perspectives and they permit us to see without hesitation that the conclusions reached by Mr Justice Haines are some of the conclusions that could be reached.
Some of his criticisms are stronger than others. For instance, his commentary that people will reach the conclusion that the government sold out to the insurance companies and sacrificed the little guy -- well, that is not one about which there will be much debate or confusion. That is one about which most critics will agree.
In his correspondence with the Minister of Financial Institutions, Mr Justice Haines follows up by pointing out that, “You” -- speaking of the Minister of Financial Institutions -- “must be aware that more than a million Ontarians travel by car to vacation throughout this continent. Many of them” -- and this once again will illustrate to us how it ought to be argued and must be argued and answered by the Minister of Financial Institutions during full debate -- “particularly senior citizens, seek respite from our harsh winter climate and live away for several months at a time. They may own property in Florida and elsewhere in the United States. If these persons are involved in accidents beyond Ontario, and judgements are obtained against them outside the province, what insurance protection are they to have?” That is among the many questions that have to be asked during the debate of Bill 68, specifically, in this instance, during committee of the whole House consideration of Bill 68.
The minister was not around during the standing committee on general government hearings to answer that question, and it was raised by more than Mr Justice Haines when we were in Windsor -- only for one day, because that is all the Liberal majority would permit. We knew that there were more delegates than could be heard in that one day, but the Liberals would only permit us to be there for one short day.
When I was there with our New Democratic Party House leader, the member for Windsor-Riverside, the outstanding member representing Windsor -- unfortunately, he has to represent not only his own riding but, as often as not, surrounding ridings. He has to carry that burden. The member for Windsor-Riverside participated with me in those general government hearings. What I am going to do is speak later on about some of the submissions that were made at committee hearings, because we are not at that point yet.
I am speaking about Mr Justice Haines. He sent a letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions. There were considerable concerns raised in the Windsor area about the effect of this legislation, the legislation that the Liberals are trying to impose on people in Ontario; about the effect of the legislation on people who would travel outside of Ontario. What kind of protection would those people have?
The parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, that Liberal, was not in on the backroom bargaining. He was not a part of that -- I have no hesitation in saying that -- the member for Guelph, the one who was sent out to the front by the minister during those hearings of the standing committee on general government about Bill 68. The minister is hiding in the bunker, and here is the poor member for Guelph, a heck of a nice guy, being sent out to the front because the minister does not want to be tarnished and the minister does not want to stand in front of the stream of the fan in view of what hit that fan as soon as that committee started hearing submissions from people across Ontario. He did not want to risk the consequences. He did not want to risk being sullied or tarnished or dirtied by the incredible opposition that there is in Ontario to Bill 68.
So the minister was not there in Windsor. We wanted him there, and if he had been there, we would not be able to make the argument that we do now for considerable committee of the whole House discussion of Bill 68.
The minister simply refused to show up. The minister refused to participate in general government committee hearings. The minister refused to face the critics of this legislation. The minister refused to look working people in the eye about Bill 68. The minister refused. He fled from the senior citizens who came before the general government committee because they were going to tell him what a bad piece of legislation it was and how this insurance scheme that the Liberals are promoting will only hurt senior citizens. The minister refused to face the students who appeared in that committee, and the poor parliamentary assistant did his very best. But the poor parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, was denied that delicious opportunity that the minister had to engage in the actual negotiations with the insurance industry.
I mean, when the Minister of Financial Institutions was sitting at the feet of the executives of Lord knows how many of the major auto insurers in Ontario, the minister’s parliamentary assistant was not there with him. So this very specific issue and how it illustrates yet another example of how discriminatory this legislation, the Liberals’ auto insurance legislation, is to seniors has not been discussed yet.
It has not been discussed, and there simply is not enough time in the time spoken of in the Liberal motion for closure to properly discuss it. Again, if it were only a trivial matter, if it were only a matter of dotting some i’s or crossing some t’s, we would not be able to make this argument. But look what Mr Justice Haines says, along with so many others, about what Bill 68 means for seniors.
He writes to the minister as far back as January of this year saying to the Minister of Financial Institutions, surely: “You must be aware that more than a million Ontarians travel by car to vacations throughout this continent. Many of them, particularly senior citizens, seek respite from our harsh winter climate and live away for several months at a time.”
I know my grandparents took advantage of their retirement, the fact that they had worked hard, until their deaths, to travel to Florida to obtain some relief from the cold. And how that hot sun can help with things like arthritis, the sorts of ailments that seniors have. So do a whole lot of seniors, and it is a well-deserved break from what can be harsh winters here in Ontario. But look what this auto insurance legislation says to them.
What it says to them is, “Forget about your trips down south.” This Liberal government is telling senior citizens of Ontario that they should not have the hard-earned luxury of spending a couple of weeks in the sun in Florida during the peak of our harsh winters. That is what the effect of this legislation is, that is what Mr Justice Haines says and that is what the Minister of Financial Institutions refuses to debate during the course of committee of the whole or third reading. Do members want to know why he refuses to debate it? Because that proposition by Mr Justice Haines is oh so true.
Look what Mr Justice Haines writes: “Many of them, particularly senior citizens, seek respite from our harsh winter climate and live away for several months at a time. They may own property in Florida and elsewhere in the United States. If these persons” -- if these senior citizens on their way to a short vacation in Florida in the middle of our Canadian winter -- “are involved in accidents beyond Ontario, and judgements are obtained against them outside the province” -- as they inevitably will be -- “what insurance protection are they to have?”
Listen to this. This is what Mr Justice Haines, with his 20 years on the bench and his 63 years’ experience as a lawyer, has got to say: “Are foreign judgements to haunt them when they step out of Ontario? Are their assets outside the province to be seized and sold in execution?” Or, and this is the option that the Liberals and the insurance industry would like to tout, “Are they to pay an additional premium for protection which insurance policies currently provide” but which is going to be denied them when this legislation passes?
These Liberals, this government, have not even got the decency to show some respect and some very fundamental generosity to our senior citizens. What could be crueller, what could be more unthinking, than to condemn senior citizens by virtue of the fact that they are a little bit older than they were a few years ago and that they want to partake of some well-earned vacations in sunny winter weather? But the Minister of Financial Institutions has no intention of ever debating that issue.
That is what this time closure motion is all about; it is about avoiding the debate, about avoiding the facts, about running from the truth and about hiding from reality. It is about selling out the people of Ontario for the interests of the auto insurance industry. That is what the Liberals and the Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier of Ontario do not want to be confronted with, and that is what this time allocation motion is all about. It is true, Mr Speaker. I tell you once again, it is sad, but I tell you this: We in the opposition will fight like the blazes to defeat this time allocation motion because it is wrong, it is just plain wrong, because this time allocation motion condemns all those in this province who expect and indeed deserve far more from their government.
Mr Justice Haines once again refers to Justice Osborne’s inquiry. We are going to talk about Osborne because it is an important consideration during the course of discussing this time allocation motion. Mr Justice Haines writes, “In his thoroughly able inquiry, which took Justice Osborne some 15 months to complete, he concluded his recommendations with these words: ‘In the final analysis’” -- it would do well for every single member here, and I know they have been most patient with me, and I appreciate their attentiveness during the course of this discussion. I should also indicate that I appreciate the notes, not a whole lot, but the few notes that I have received from Liberal members encouraging me to speak out as I have against this time allocation motion. I appreciate their support and I know that their consciences will guide them when it comes to voting on this bill, on this motion.
I will tell members what the excerpt is from Justice Osborne: “In the final analysis, I confess to having considered the interests of those who purchase automobile insurance and those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents as the dominant interests to take into account.” What better guide, how straightforward, how so effectively simple that even most Liberals would understand it? How effectively simple that even most Liberals should be able to understand that. Justice Osborne said, in terms of a summation or defining of the guidelines that were apparent to him in arriving at his conclusions, writes, “In the final analysis, I confess to having considered the interests of those who purchase automobile insurance and those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents as the dominant interests to take into account.” That is easily enough understood, is it not? And that is difficult to argue with. Basically, if one is talking about a fair automobile insurance system, those are the types of guidelines that ought to be adopted.
What is significant when we look at Bill 68 is, does Bill 68 stand the test that Mr Justice Osborne used in reaching his conclusions? Can it be submitted to that very effective, short, simple guideline or standard? That is why we need committee-of-the-whole consideration of Bill 68, is it not? That is why we need appropriate time for third reading, because none of this has ever been discussed anywhere else ever before. Unless these Liberals are prepared to add Mr Justice Haines to the list of people whom they would simply dismiss and send home without listening to, unless they are prepared to do that, it warrants some discussion and consideration. Again, I thank the Liberal members who are agreeing with me now for their support.
Mr Justice Haines writes this: “It is with the greatest of respect that I say that the legislators owe that same duty.” Members saw what I was getting to, huh? Mr Justice Haines did not anticipate such an unconscionable move as the Liberals made in their time allocation motion, yet something prompted him to basically join our debate in a peculiar and most interesting sort of way. Back in January 1990 he said, “It is with the greatest of respect that I say that the legislators owe that same duty.” What duty? The duty to consider “the interests of those who purchase automobile insurance and those who are injured in motor vehicle accidents as the dominant interests to take into account.” Do members know what the Liberals are adopting as the dominant interest? The profitability of the insurance industry, billions of dollars in new profits seized from taxpayers, seized, stolen from innocent injured victims and clawed from drivers across Ontario who will face premium increases of as high as 50 per cent over what they are paying now.
Mr Justice Haines then writes -- again, members knew I was getting there -- “By that test Bill 68, apparently the product of a mere 15 weeks of consideration, is altogether wanting.” What he is talking about is the short period of time from when it was announced up at that chorus line, the glitzy show up in North York, until when it was presented in the House in October for first reading. Mr Justice Haines, having reviewed Bill 68, reaches the same conclusion that so many of us from the opposition did in the standing committee on general government, that this was a hastily prepared bit of legislation, that its sole purpose was to guarantee profits for the auto insurance industry and that the Liberals had their own clandestine, secret agenda all along, an agenda which was not very admirable at all because it was an agenda which constituted a sellout of little people in Ontario for the sake of the big, corporate automobile insurance companies.
Mr Justice Haines writes, “In large measure it is little more than an adoption of the proposals of the Insurance Bureau of Canada which Justice Osborne considered and rejected.” The distinction between what the Insurance Bureau of Canada proposed and what is contained in Bill 68 is that even the Insurance Bureau of Canada, whose proposal was rejected in Mr Justice Osborne’s inquiry, did not dare ask for a threshold as onerous as the one contained in Bill 68.
The Liberals are ensuring the profitability of the insurance industry beyond even what the insurance industry reasonably expected; that is to say, the Liberals are creating even bigger profits for the insurance industry in Ontario than the insurance industry dared demand from the Osborne commission. I say it now. Mr Justice Haines said it in a letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions back in January 1990, a letter that the minister, I tell members, has sat on.
In view of the Liberal majority, I am not going to pretend that I am here winning any popularity contests. I am not going to pretend that at all. There are a few people’s cages that get rattled a little bit when this type of previously suppressed dialogue, previously suppressed communication, is presented to them and they have to face it. Does the House leader stand up to announce to us that he is going to withdraw this motion so that we can discuss Bill 68? No, he does not.
Mr Kormos: He does not stand up to withdraw this crummy motion. He does not stand up to repeal this jackboot effort on his part, this copycat of the Tories on Parliament Hill. He pleads with his caucus to maintain its opposition.
Mr Kormos: My corner man cautions me. Mr Speaker, your sensation is yours alone and it was very uniquely felt by you. If we can ever generate more sensations for you in the future, feel free to call on us. We will do our very best. I appreciate that there is a certain age all of us will reach where sensations are harder to come by.
“This legislative initiative appears to have been motivated by political expediency in the form of an election promise on the government’s part to limit the increase in car insurance premiums for the motoring public. Whether or not no-fault threshold will achieve this goal is” -- in itself -- “open to debate. What is not in doubt is that, based on dollar-for-dollar premium, that injured accident victim will receive far less compensation as compared to our existing law.”
“As a former jurist, what concerns me most about the Ontario motorist insurance protection plan is its sacrifice of the rights of traffic victims to the motorist’s quest for lower premiums. There is an obvious conflict of interest between the motorists and their victims.”
We spent a little bit longer on this particular issue than I had hoped to. I had hoped to deal with it somewhat more expeditiously, but I appreciate that there were Liberal members who wanted to make points of order, and make points of order they did. That is what lengthened this particular stage of my discussion of the motion. Again, those are things, I suppose, that we basically have to expect in the total scheme of things.
As I told members yesterday, the next consideration in our argument in opposition to this motion includes references to the statement to the Ontario Legislature by the Minister of Financial Institutions on the occasion of first reading of Bill 68. I have some hesitation in making reference to that statement, because I know that I am inclined to be candid and forthright in my choice of language -- frank sometimes, if you will. I have marked those portions of the minister’s statement to the House on first reading which might impel me to say things that are unparliamentary, which might compel me to point out what constitutes things that we simply cannot expect from elected members.
The Minister of Financial Institutions, back in October 1989, when Bill 68 was prepared in its first draft -- there were more than a few drafts of Bill 68 and the regulations, and I am going to talk later on about some of the contrast between what was first proposed and what was finally prepared -- and I point this out first, spoke about “introducing legislation which will ensure affordable auto insurance rates.” That is the very first thing he said. He said, “Today I will be introducing legislation which will ensure affordable auto insurance rates.” He said that. The minister said that.
He said that, and what we learned later is that this auto insurance scheme is going to result in premium increases of up to 50 per cent on top of premium rates that are simply unaffordable, that are forcing more and more drivers off the road, that are forcing more and more drivers off the road, that are forcing more and more drivers to take that horrendous chance of driving without insurance, that are generating a plethora of incidents wherein people are using forged, phoney, outdated or otherwise altered pink slips to try to demonstrate to police officers that they have insurance when indeed they do not. They cannot afford insurance coverage because this government has permitted insurance premiums to rise beyond affordability.
Now this same government, these same Liberals, are imposing a scheme that is going to create new billion-dollar profits, billion-buck paydays for the auto insurance industry, with premiums that are as much as 50 per cent higher than they are now. The minister knows that, because he promised the drivers and the taxpayers of Ontario that this auto insurance scheme was going to create premium increases of up to 50 per cent. That one the minister told the truth on, did he not -- premium increases as high as 50 per cent.
I tell the minister, drivers cannot afford those premium increases. I will tell him this right now: Senior citizens who are going to be forced into Facility Association cannot afford those multithousand-dollar premiums, those $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 premiums they are going to be charged in Facility. That is exactly what the minister’s auto insurance scheme is imposing on them. The minister told the Legislature back in October 1989 that he would be introducing legislation which would ensure affordable auto insurance rates. I say to the minister, let’s see the legislation. He sure as heck did not mean Bill 68, because Bill 68 is going to carry with it premium increases of up to 50 per cent.
What about their victims? What about the 15-year-old kids with the broken bones, the broken legs, the broken backs, the broken arms, the fractured skulls, who are not going to get a penny of compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life? The minister’s plan does nothing for them. His plan takes away what is rightly theirs and puts that money into the profits and the pockets of the auto insurance industry.
The minister said, “Our plan.” It is not ours. It has to be his that he was talking about, because we in the New Democratic Party would never propose a plan which constitutes a sellout of drivers, taxpayers and victims in Ontario so that the profits for the auto insurance industry can be jacked up by $1 billion in the first year alone. No, that is not our plan, that is his plan and the auto insurance industry’s plan.
Do you remember, Mr Speaker, that the minister used to talk about how this plan was made in Ontario? We used to say, “No, you imported it from the United States,” and the minister used to say, “No, it was made in Ontario.” Then we conceded that perhaps it was, but not here at Queen’s Park. Surely it was written in the boardrooms of the auto insurance companies, because those are the people who will benefit.
The minister said this -- and I want the minister to listen for a minute, because Lord knows he did not listen during committee hearings. He was not there to hear. In October 1989 the Minister of Financial Institutions said, “Our plan will return more of the premium dollar to those who need it, the injured victims.”
Do you want to know something, Mr Speaker? The government’s own secret studies revealed that was not the case. The government’s own secret studies which were forced out of them, finally, on 6 February 1990, showed that $823 million was going to be taken away from victims and given to the auto insurance industry to produce for that auto insurance industry profits that it had never dared dream of.
Those secret documents that we forced out of the government on 6 February were in the minister’s possession throughout all of 1989. This minister knew, or ought to have known, what those studies said when he made this statement in October 1989. How could the Minister of Financial Institutions -- because these are the questions that have to be asked, are they not? -- have said that his plan will return more of the premium dollar to those who need it, the injured victims, when we know, as a result of finally obtaining the government’s own studies, that some $823 million less is going to be given to injured victims? There is a contradiction there. There is an error.
I told members that there were parts of this that were going to compel me to consider unparliamentary language. You know what I am thinking, Mr Speaker, but I will be darned if I will say it, because it is unparliamentary.
We are talking about returning less of the premium dollar to the injured victims. We are talking about jacking up premiums by as much as 50 per cent. We are talking about introducing taxpayer subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry in Ontario to the tune of $141 million.
The minister said, “The system itself will be reformed ... so that consumers get premium savings.” Where are the savings that he promised? He promised premium savings, and now he is telling us that we are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent.
Once again, that is another part of these comments that I marked because I would feel motivated to use language to describe that comment that might be considered unparliamentary, and again you know what I am thinking of. I want to say that the minister -- but I will not. I want to say that, rather than keep his promise, the minister -- but I will not, because the facts speak for themselves.
The minister, on 23 October 1989, told this House that consumers get premium savings under his new legislation. It sure as heck ain’t Bill 68. Will he please tell us which legislation it is that results in premium savings for drivers in Ontario, because members are not going to see those premium savings in Bill 68, not by a long shot?
Mr Kormos: Do those members want the floor? Withdraw their time allocation motion. It is as simple as that. From day one we wanted a healthy debate about Bill 68, and the Liberals have run from the truth. From day one we have wanted a healthy exchange right here in the Legislature, and what do the Liberals do? They try to impose closure on us. They try to muzzle the opposition. They try to kill, stifle, muzzle debate -- the guillotine, the kangaroo; shackling the opposition, muzzling the opposition. We will not stand for it. People of Ontario will not stand for it.
I am looking forward to the scrum outside these doors at 6:05 pm where the Premier of Ontario says: “We’ll let the electorate decide. We’ll call an election here in the province of Ontario and the issue will be auto insurance.” The issue will be: Is it going to be big, profitable corporate insurance companies or is it going to be drivers, workers and innocent injured victims? That is what the choice will be.
The government’s problem is that drivers vote and auto insurance companies cannot. The problem is that the Liberal riding association in Sudbury East calls upon Liberal members to vote against this legislation, so whoever the Liberal candidate is going to be, poor soul, in Sudbury East, he may not even find workers. The problem is that the Sudbury provincial Liberal association similarly calls upon its member to oppose this legislation, so whoever the candidate might be -- it could be anybody; they have not had their nomination meeting yet -- that Liberal riding association may not even elect as a candidate somebody who supports Bill 68. We are looking at some retirement potential for a whole lot of Liberals here.
More important, we are talking about a time allocation motion that is simply premature and so unrealistic. We are talking about a time allocation motion that is an effort on the part of the Liberals here at Queen’s Park to flee from debate. We are talking about a time allocation motion that is going to encourage disorder. We are talking about a time allocation motion that will generate, yes indeed, anarchy right here at Queen’s Park.
We are talking about a Liberal move, the Liberal House leader’s motion, that is going to create anarchy because it constitutes a complete rejection on the part of the Liberals of all of the parliamentary rules, all of the parliamentary procedure and all of those democratic principles that require debate, exchange and free vote. The members opposite should watch it.
Back on 23 October 1989, when the minister introduced this pathetic bill before the House, he talked about a strong new regulatory authority. Hah. This government create a strong new regulatory authority? That is mind-boggling. Like the Residential Tenancy Commission, a strong regulatory authority? Is that what they are talking about? Like their consumer protection legislation? Strong regulatory authorities.
If there were strong regulatory authorities here at Queen’s Park by this government, people like my friend the member for Cambridge would not have to move a private member’s bill to safeguard the rights of property buyers. A strong regulatory authority like the superintendent of insurance? A tough one, eh? Real tough guys over there at the superintendent of insurance’s office, I say to the Minister of Financial Institutions. They have no hesitation in writing their Dear John letters to people who are getting shafted by the insurance companies, saying: “Sorry. Too bad, so sad. You’re on your own with these guys.”
The minister does not want to enact any legislation that is going to permit us to control a greedy and abysmally shabby industry. Listen to this, Mr Speaker: “Continued access to the courts in cases of serious injury or death.” Serious injury? What, like a broken leg? Does that give a person access to the courts under the threshold scheme that the Liberals are proposing? No. A broken leg? That will not get you access to a court. The minister promised access to the courts in cases of serious injury, and a broken leg is sure as heck a serious injury where I come from.
Does this Liberal bill give you access to the court if you have a broken leg? No. Broken arm? No. Fractured ribs? No. Broken back? Does that get you access to a court? No. The minister promised it, but for the same broken leg, fractured ribs, broken back there is not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering. Not a penny in compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
Fractured skull? Is that a serious injury, such as the minister promised would get you access to the court? No, not under this legislation. No access to the court; no compensation either for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Once again, one really wonders whether the Minister of Financial Institutions was talking about Bill 68 when he made this announcement back on 23 October 1989. The minister promised enhanced consumer protection. Where is it? Let us see it.
The Acting Speaker: There are a number of members in the chamber who are in the wrong seat, who are having private conversations. I appreciate that members may be tiring somewhat near the end of the day, but I for one do have to listen to the member as he delivers his speech. I would appreciate it if you would help me just a bit. Proceed.
The Minister of Financial Institutions back on 23 October 1989 had the nerve, more nerve than the proverbial toothache, to say that large premium increases are unacceptable, to say that they are unacceptable to the general motorist, to people who must drive for their livelihood, to seniors whose mobility means independence and to government which must act in the public interest.
When he is talking about government acting in the public interest, he is not talking about the Liberals at Queen’s Park. They do not act in the public interest. They are acting in the interests of big corporate automobile insurance industries who are going to enjoy paydays in the first year alone of up to a billion bucks. This is not a government. These Liberals at Queen’s Park are not acting in the public interest. They are acting in the interests of an elite, powerful, wealthy group of private automobile insurers who took good care of the Liberals at election time. We know that. That is a fact. It is not a figment of imagination. It is recorded. It is documented: over $100,000 to Liberal candidates in the 1987 general election from the auto insurance industry in Ontario, and more and more and more than that.
Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by that same auto insurance industry on third-party advertising in support of these same Liberal candidates during that general election. We are talking about a lot of fridges. We are talking about a lot of Kelvinators. We are talking about a lot of paint jobs. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash donations, over $100,000 in cash donations to Liberal candidates. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on behalf of the Liberals in third-party advertising.
We are talking about a government that has forsaken the drivers of Ontario, because this government, the Liberals in Ontario, is going to impose premium increases of as high as 50 per cent. We are talking about a government, the Liberals in Ontario, that has forsaken the taxpayers. The Liberals in Ontario are going to force the taxpayers in Ontario to subsidize the auto insurance industry, their private corporate auto insurance industry, those Liberals’ bedmates, to the tune of at least $141 million in the first year alone.
We are talking about a government, the Liberals at Queen’s Park, that has abandoned the innocent injured victims. This Liberal government is going to take away from innocent injured victims, 95 per cent of them, all of any compensation to which they would have been entitled for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. This government is going to scoop some $823 million in the first year alone from innocent injured victims and drop it into the pockets of the private corporate auto insurance industry.
Well, I say once again, come on guys, call an election. Let the electorate decide whether they want to vote for the big corporate auto insurance industry or whether they want to vote for the victims, the drivers and the taxpayers of Ontario.