Mr Hampton: For almost two years now, environmental assessment hearings to assess the timber management program of this government’s Ministry of Natural Resources have been held in Thunder Bay. These hearings are supposed to look at the crucial issues of the future use and care of the crown land forests, which make up about 40 per cent of the province.
Those of us who watch the hearings, however, have become convinced that the hearings are really being held so that this government can hide its irresponsible forest policies under mountains of gobbledegook and paper. The government does not want the information that is there to get out to the public, but some of the news is getting out.
At the hearings this government has been forced to reveal its position on clear-cutting of the forest. Ministry of Natural Resources officials have stated that clear-cutting is “appropriate and sensible.” One government spokesman at the hearings said that in Ontario a clear-cut of 5,000 to 10,000 acres is an acceptably large clear-cut, but on 16 August 1988 the government admitted there have been single clear-cuts in Ontario as large as 50,000 acres in size.
Contrast the Ontario government’s policy with the US Forest Service policy in the national forests, which are roughly equivalent to our crown forests. There the maximum single clear-cut is 100 acres -- 100 acres compared to 50,000 acres.
Mr Pollock: Bell Canada is in the process of installing a fibre optic cable from Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal. This cable runs the full length of my riding, travelling across a large part of Peterborough county and across Hastings county. The cost of installing this cable is approximately $9 million in my riding alone.
This has provided employment for local contractors, and it has been a hard fight to cope with the swamps, the stones, the bush country and the bedrock. These contractors are to be commended because of the job that they have done in all kinds of adverse weather conditions.
The most impressive part of this process is the fibre optic cable, which has 18 fibres with six additional fibres for local service. This cable will have an initial capacity of 72,000 simultaneous conversations. This fibre optic cable is an amazing engineering accomplishment. Gone are the days when you clamp copper wire together. You now repair the fibre optic cable with a microscope and laser beam.
The fibre optic cable is manufactured in Saskatoon by Northern Telecom. I would like to pay tribute to all employees of Bell Canada and Bell Canada itself for their efforts. They provide good service for the province of Ontario.
Miss Martel: On 21 March the Ministry of Skills Development received a formal request to provide trade-related training to ironworker apprentices at Cambrian College. This important initiative was undertaken by Doug Rollins of Local 786 of the Iron Workers union in Sudbury. If accepted, the request would mean that northern apprentices could remain in the north to complete their formal educational training.
At present, ironworker training is offered at George Brown College in Toronto. The Ministry of Skills Development purchases seats and offers these to apprentices being trained by various ironworker unions. The north receives only a small portion of these seats. For example, while 20 seats were purchased for January and February of 1990, only five of these went to northern applicants.
The second problem concerns cost. Most of the apprentices will be sponsored by the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission for the duration of the course. They will also qualify for an allowance of $75 a week from Manpower to cover out-of-town expenses. However, it is now taking some six to seven weeks to process the first cheque, and it is also impossible to find accommodation and pay for food in Toronto on $75 a week. Northern apprentices are discouraged from even applying for a position at George Brown, because they cannot afford to support themselves and their families in the north during the training period.
Mr Cureatz: I want to make an apology to the honourable Minister of Correctional Services. I had attributed to him a statement that, when he was in Sault Ste Marie, he had referred to psychiatric inmates in institutions as crazy people. He has assured me that was not the case. The article written in the Sault certainly would allude to the fact that he said that. He has assured me that was not said. I appreciate his informing me and I apologize to the minister, as difficult as that is for me to do from time to time.
Mr Cureatz: When Ontario Hydro unveiled its demand/supply plan last December, both the Premier and the Minister of Energy refused to take a position. Instead, they said they had a process in place to determine whether or not we actually need a new source of energy. The environmental assessment of the DSP, they said, would tell us “all.” The Liberal government led us to believe nothing would happen for the next three years until the Environmental Assessment Board had thoroughly scrutinized Ontario Hydro’s plan to make sure it is the best alternative available. In the meantime, Ontario Hydro said it would meet our energy needs by pursuing demand management initiatives.
However, we have seen that Ontario Hydro is proceeding with the DSP bit by bit. First, we had the announcement of the purchase of power from Manitoba; then Ontario Hydro’s testing of a number of combustion turbines to boost power at fossil fuel plants; stow we have Ontario Hydro going ahead with a separate environmental assessment of a new hydraulic station at Little Jackfish River; and of course recently the Liberal Party indicated its support of nuclear power. It behooves me to tell everyone in Ontario that we have no leadership in terms of energy production in Ontario.
Mr Adams: During the last session I spoke twice on the matter of so-called disposable diapers. I pointed out that these diapers are not disposable; being plastic, they do not degrade and their contents are a potential hazard in landfill sites.
I would like to report on some progress in this important matter. The city of Peterborough and others took a firm stand against these diapers at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting. In Peterborough, the number of parents who have happily disposed of the disposable diaper habit is steadily increasing. Those who have done so are saving both money and the environment.
We have 200 infants who use the cotton diapers of one small reusable diaper company. As each child uses 7,000 diapers from birth to toilet training, these 200 cotton diaper users represent a total of 7,000 times 200 diapers which would otherwise have ended up in landfills. This is no less than 1.4 million diapers which will not be polluting our environment. And this is but one of several companies in Peterborough in this growing business. Between them they replace many millions of disposable diapers each year.
Mr Wildman: I note that yesterday the Minister of Natural Resources indicated that she was accepting the 10-person task force report on forest firefighting. This is a task force made up of Ministry of Natural Resources management and members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Members will recall that the staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources had argued vehemently against the cuts that the ministry had made in she total number of forest firefighters in Ontario; specifically, the cuts from five-man to three-man crews. It is interesting to note that in the recommendations in this study it is determined that often at least four people are needed on a crew rather than three, particularly in the northwest.
I am concerned, though, about the recommendation that the ministry look for other sources of funding for forest firefighting. What does this mean? Is the ministry going to look at privatizing forest firefighting in Ontario or transferring the costs to the municipal fire departments where they are available? In each case, that would be unacceptable. The ministry does not provide any funding to the municipalities now for structural firefighting. It would be completely inappropriate to saddle them with the cost of forest firefighting. I hope that the minister will make clear exactly what her acceptance of that recommendation means.
Mr Villeneuve: Ontario’s farmers have been not only neglected but totally forgotten now for more than two years by this government. Farmers want to see some positive steps taken in next week’s budget, not another cutback. Farmers need restoration of the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program and the soil conservation program. Farmers need a farm tax reduction program that makes sense and is equitable and which is not simply an election gimmick which will disappear in one or two years. Farmers need a capital grants program oriented towards the environmental programs that they must put into place.
They also want to know what this government is going to do to make sure that Ontario gets its fair share of Ottawa’s recently announced $500-million farm aid program. The existence of the federal program has been public for some time. The major condition is that funding be cost-shared with the provinces. What Ontario farmers do not know is what this government and what this minister are doing to make sure Ontario is not left out.
Ontario’s farm cash receipts are projected to be down again this year, Ontario’s net farm cash income is projected to be down again this year, Ontario’s realized net farm income is projected to be down again this year and Ontario’s total net farm income is projected to be down again this year. What other industry has that kind of negative reaction? This government has done nothing. It is about time that the minister and this government looked at their own figures and did something positive for Ontario agriculture.
Spike, as he was called, had a varied career of public service in which he was always unselfishly committed to the Sudbury community. He served as Sudbury city engineer for 17 years, from 1953 to 1970. From 1974 to 1979, Mr Hennessy was vice-president, administration, at Laurentian University.
Mr Hennessy is perhaps best remembered for his many years as general manager of the Sudbury Regional Development Corp. During this time he was responsible for overseeing and directing economic diversification initiatives in the regional municipality of Sudbury. In this major and ongoing endeavour, Mr Hennessy worked very closely with contacts around the world, community leaders, staff and members of regional council as we built a strong future for Sudbury.
The purpose of the Change of Name Amendment Act is to eliminate a section currently in the law which requires that if a person chooses to change his or her name as a result of marriage, that person’s birth registration documents must also be changed to reflect the new name.
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of my colleague the member for High Park-Swansea, who in June 1988 moved to amend the legislation with private member’s Bill 164. Today’s amendments were greatly influenced by his concerns for the objections of many Ontario women to the provisions of the existing law.
Les amendements d’aujourd’hui ont été fortement influencés par les préoccupations du député de High Park-Swansea vis-à-vis des objections de nombreuses femmes de l’Ontario à l’égard des dispositions de la loi actuelle.
By amending the act, we hope to correct a situation that primarily affected women. Under the election provision of the amended act, Ontario women who decide to take their husband’s name upon marriage will no longer be required to change the name on their birth registration. The traditional practice of assuming the husband’s name through regular usage has always been in place and remains so. However, if a person decides to make a formal name change under this section, the birth certificate will not be altered.
Changes to the Vital Statistics Act are of a more technical nature, affecting the way registrations of births, marriages and deaths are collected and stored. They lay the groundwork for the implementation of new computer technology that will allow the office of the registrar general to operate out of a new head office in Thunder Bay and a walk-in centre located in Toronto.
L’auto-prise d’images permettra la transmission rapide des documents et des informations, l’amélioration des dispositifs de sécurité et la conservation des registres sous une forme compréhensible par une machine.
The amendments will also permit many of the office’s historical documents to be transferred to the Archives of Ontario, where services can be provided to historians and genealogists. This is actually good news for the thousands of people tracing family histories in Ontario every year. The essential records of our heritage as families and as a society will be significantly more accessible as a result of these amendments.
The amendments will also help the office of the registrar general to provide greater and more efficient services to the people of Ontario. I urge that all members support them when I introduce them for first reading later today.
Hon Mr Wong: I rise on the occasion of National Citizenship Week, which is being celebrated throughout Canada this week. April 17 is the anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so National Citizenship Week serves as a reminder that we all have a duty to play our part in safeguarding the rights of all who call Canada home.
This province’s reputation for fairness and justice has made Ontario the home of choice for more new Canadians than any other province. I am proud that Ontario is a place in which people of very many different backgrounds, languages, races and cultures can feel at home.
This week is also a time for us to be reminded of Canada’s place in world affairs. We are aware that many other countries look to Canada for a positive example of a fair, just and harmonious society. Although we are often inclined to take these very Canadian qualities for granted, National Citizenship Week is an occasion to remember and appreciate them.
Forty years ago Canada adopted its first Citizenship Act. The current Canadian Citizenship Act came into force this week in 1977. The principal objectives of the 1977 act are to eliminate discrimination among applicants for Canadian citizenship based on age, sex, marital status or country of previous citizenship.
The flag that we now regard with pride and affection was the subject of an exceedingly long debate, one that the critics of the day denounced as impossible to resolve and divisive. Today we see our flag as a symbol of our abilities to reach a consensus and our adherence to deep common values, such as the ones we celebrate this week. This week provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to recognize the 40th anniversary of our first Citizenship Act.
Mr R. F. Johnston: In response to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, I want to quote Mel Brooks from Blazing Saddles, “Work, work, work, work.” My goodness, what the minister has produced here. It is good to see he is hard at it, because where would we have been?
When I first saw this on my desk, I thought, “Well, finally, the Change of Name Amendment Act; a number of Liberal backbenchers and ministers are going to change their names to numbered companies.” But no, it was instead to protect women who have changed their names so that they will not have to change their birth registration documents as well. It is high time it has been done. I know the member for High-Park Swansea is delighted to see his work come to full fruition here today with this announcement.
To put this in some context, though, a number of years ago a mildly more progressive government in a province just next to ours actually changed the onus in its legislation around names. Women who wanted to change their names after marriage would have to register and go through a process to do so, rather than the presumption that was in the law at that time, that women would change their names after marriage. I find it strange that this is the best the province of Ontario can do today.
The other matter is of exceeding importance to all those who feel that searching their families’ histories would prove worth while and not embarrassing, which should eliminate most of the members opposite, but I think the rapid transmission of genealogical data is something we could not have waited another day for.
Mr B. Rae: I want to join with the members of the House in celebrating National Citizenship Week and join with the minister in celebrating the extraordinary fact of Canadian life. On this occasion, as we approach the last couple of months leading up to the deadline for Meech Lake, let us all hope that we will have many more national citizenship weeks in the future to celebrate.
Mr Brandt: I too want to join in the celebration of National Citizenship Week and compliment the minister in joining with the federal government with respect to the recognition of some of our citizens who have come to Ontario and Canada from other countries.
As the minister well knows, my own family came from another country. I am a first-generation Canadian and although I was born here in Ontario, I do respect very deeply, as I know the minister does, those who have come from other parts of the world to join in with us in building a better Ontario and a better Canada.
The realities in this province, as I am sure the minister is aware, are that some 50 per cent of all immigrants from other countries come to Ontario and virtually half of that 50 per cent locates in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.
We have attempted over the years, and I say this in a non-partisan way, with all political parties to welcome with open arms these citizens as contributing members of our society, to make Ontario the kind of place where people could contribute in a very positive way and feel that their rights as individuals were well protected. We have tried to develop legislation and laws that are sensible and that are sensitive to the needs of people from various parts of the world.
I think that during the course of the celebrations of this week, we have much to be thankful for. Ontario has provided a home for many people from various countries, but it has also provided an opportunity for those people to be real Canadians in every sense of the word. I join with the government, on one of the few occasions that I can agree entirely with what the government is doing, and say that we should all join together and make this a better province and a better country by strengthening our programs, our legislation and our views towards those from other countries who have made this their home.
Mr B. Rae: The publication in today’s Toronto Star of a letter from the Deputy Minister of Northern Affairs to the Premier’s own deputy minister is a reminder of just how serious the job situation in northern Ontario has become with the closure of many mines across the north and the closure in Elliot Lake.
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Premier. We know, for example, according to the government’s own figures, that the mining profits tax generates some $150 million and that stumpage fees and other fees generate at least $85 million and possibly even more, and yet the government’s own funds in the northern Ontario heritage fund and the northern development fund are worth at most $50 million.
I want to ask the Premier why it would be that every year in the north far more money is being taken out, both in terms of stumpage fees and resource taxes, whether it is in the forest industry or whether it is in mining, than is being put back in to deal with the extraordinary changes that are taking place across northern Ontario.
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend may have a mathematical calculation on this that no one else has. If he has some figures on that, then he should lay them before this House, but he knows what he has said just does not represent the reality by any stretch of the imagination; he knows that and I am surprised, frankly, that he would put it in that context.
The member knows of the support for roads. Obviously there are special programs: the northern development program, the northern heritage program and a variety of others. He knows of the special programs that are going in to support municipal infrastructure. He knows the things that have gone into hospital care and a variety of other programs. The member knows the government jobs that are going to northern Ontario, where we are trying to assist in making the economy less cyclical, which it is and there is no question about that.
Mr B. Rae: The fact remains that if you look at the extent of the problem and if you look at what the government is doing in terms of change and in terms of job loss -- let’s take mining as an example -- surely the Premier would agree that the money that comes out in terms of mining profits comes out over a period of time, yet if you look at the assistance that is being provided to a community like Elliot Lake, it does not begin to meet the need and certainly does not begin to address the size of the problem affecting that community.
My question to the Premier is this: Why would his northern heritage fund and his northern development fund not be equal at least to the amount of money he is extracting from the northern economy in terms of stumpage fees, the mining profits tax and the export tax on softwood lumber? Why would the money he is putting back into those specific areas not be equal at least to the money he is taking out?
Hon Mr Peterson: If you were looking at a calculation of taxes from northern Ontario, you would look at corporate tax, personal tax and retail sales tax -- you would look at all of that -- and then you would look at the moneys going back in from a whole variety of programs, be they medical programs --
Hon Mr Peterson: I understand my honourable friend is shouting that more comes out than goes back. He has never presented any evidence to that effect. If he has a calculation, it would be very interesting to hear it, but I think my honourable friend would want to balance those things out.
I do not think there is a government, and I think many of my friends from the north will tell him this, that has ever been more sensitive to some of these particular problems in northern Ontario. We are sensitive to them. We have moved a vast number of jobs there. We are trying to assist in a variety of ways: road building programs and special programs for northern Ontario.
Now there are special problems in special areas. We know that. The member is someone who stands up and says, “Don’t log anything in Temagami.” He is the author of some of the problems there. So he cannot have it both ways. I think if he is going to present a balanced case, then he would want to present both sides of this case.
Mr B. Rae: I do not think the Premier can be taken seriously if he thinks the government of Ontario is putting back into the northern economy in terms of diversifying it, in terms of providing stability -- not short-term, cut-and-run options, which is the Liberal option for Ontario just as it was the Tory option for 42 years, but an option that provides stable jobs, renewable jobs, jobs that are going to be here tomorrow, next year, five years and 10 years down the line. Those are the kinds of job northerners want.
Specifically can the Premier deny the fact that more money is being taken out by the mining profits tax, that more money is being taken out in stumpage fees, that more money is being taken out in terms of the softwood lumber tax? If we put them all together, the government is taking a whole lot more out than it is putting into the northern development fund or the northern heritage fund. The Premier cannot deny that.
Hon Mr Peterson: I did not deny that. What I am saying to the Leader of the Opposition is that he is taking a completely superficial, political approach when he wants it both ways. On the one hand he says, “You can’t do anything up there, you can’t log or mine,” and on the other hand he says -- this government has done more for northern Ontario. He should look at the jobs that have gone in: 1,600 jobs in northern Ontario with a payroll of some $50 million to $55 million per year. We have moved to stabilize this in ways the member has not even thought of. So when my honourable friend presents a superficial case for whatever is his perception of short-term political events, let me tell him that he defies his own credibility.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Premier with respect to the matter we raised last week about the alleged abuse that was going on some years ago at St Joseph’s Training School for Boys in Alfred. This series of stories is expanding rather rapidly as others come forward to indicate that they were occupants of that particular home during a time when these situations of abuse occurred, some of them with connotations that are extremely distasteful.
I wonder whether the Premier and his cabinet have come to a decision as to whether or not an inquiry is in order and in fact will be undertaken by the government as it relates to the St Joseph’s situation.
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend raised the question last week and I can tell him that it has been the subject of a great deal of discussion among my colleagues. I share the honourable member’s concerns, as does the government, on these events that took place some years ago. The question is, are they limited to that institution or are there others as well? That is a legitimate question that has to be addressed. Indeed, one has to put that in the context of our entire system for care for young people today and whether we can comfortably give the assurances to parents that we are doing everything we can possibly do to prevent this kind of problem.
As my honourable friend is aware, the ministers met with Mr McCann last week, and I met with Mr McCann last week, and we have responded immediately with counselling and to assist in any way we possibly can. The police investigation has been substantially upgraded, the Solicitor General tells me, to look into all the suggestions and allegations of abuse at this time. Obviously we do not rule any inquiry out at the end of the day, but at the present time the approach is to investigate this with vigour.
Mr Brandt: I appreciate the response of the Premier, and it was far more positive than I had hoped for in some respects. There are other institutions in addition to St Joseph’s where there are alleged problems.
During the course of the Premier’s discussions with respect to a possible inquiry, I wonder if he would also look at situations like that concerning a lady by the name of Christina Boyland, who is a resident of Sudbury and for a period of time was in the St Thomas Psychiatric Hospital. I use the name, by the way, because it is a matter of public information and this case was written up and provided to me by a gentleman reporter from the Sudbury area. While she was a ward in that particular institution, there was a situation where there were reasons to believe there was alleged abuse as it related to this particular lady as well, in a psychiatric institution.
My question to the Premier is this: While he is considering an inquiry into the situation in Alfred, I wonder if he might expand his area of consideration to include other institutions like psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and homes for the aged where there are other situations where we have had situations of abuse brought to our attention.
As my honourable friend knows, it was just a month or so ago that these allegations of abuse some 25 years ago come to light. Reasonable people would ask, “Now, how could it happen that we are hearing of these things 25 years after the fact?” We are looking at all the aspects of that and other allegations and suggestions that have come forward in the last little while. I can tell my honourable friend that we will take all of his suggestions under advisement to make sure that to the fullest extent of our ability these kinds of situations of abuse are not taking place today.
Mr Brandt: What concerns me is that we do have allegations of abuse that are emanating out of the St Joseph’s institute. We have others in psychiatric facilities. Recently I received a letter from the daughter of a lady, 81 years of age, who was abused in a particular nursing home, and as a result of the assault that occurred in that nursing home, I am sorry to say, that particular 81-year-old lady subsequently died. There is another situation where it occurred in a different type of facility, but where abuse is again a matter, I think, that should be of paramount concern to government.
I appeal to the Premier. Since we have a rather substantial number of these cases that are across a broad spectrum of areas of government concern, like psychiatric institutions, nursing homes, homes for the aged, homes for delinquent children and so forth, would the Premier consider expanding any terms of reference of a potential inquiry to look at all of these areas and to make sure our citizens who are extremely vulnerable in these institutions are given proper care and protection?
Hon Mr Peterson: The honourable member mentions a number of specific questions, and I would hope that the member has reported those immediately to the OPP and to the special unit that is investigating those kinds of situations, because when there are allegations of criminality and abuse, they have to be tracked down. There is no question about that. I know my honourable friend would take seriously his responsibilities in that regard.
Obviously, whenever I hear of these situations of abuse in any institution or, for that matter, outside of an institution -- my honourable friend will be aware that happens as well -- we have to look at the kinds of laws that we have in this province to protect vulnerable people, be they young or old, institutionalized or non-institutionalized. Certainly we are trying to respond to this as sensitively and quickly as we possibly can, and to serve the public interest to make sure that all of our citizens are safe.
Mrs Grier: When this Minister of the Environment took office, 50 per cent of the soft drinks in the province were sold in reusable, refillable containers. One of his earliest acts was to cave in to the soft drink industry and agree that only 30 per cent of the soft drink sales had to be in reusable containers in exchange for industry participating in the blue box system. The number of charges laid and convictions obtained by his ministry in the interim indicates that industry was not living up to its part of the bargain.
We understand now that the Recycling Advisory Committee has made a recommendation to the minister that he make another deal with the soft drink industry and that he reinterpret the regulation. Can the minister confirm that he has agreed in principle that he will lay no further charges under this regulation because the industry has shown evidence that it is living up to both the letter and the spirit of its responsibilities?
Hon Mr Bradley: Indeed, I have received from the Recycling Advisory Committee of Ontario -- which, as the member knows, includes representatives from municipalities, environment groups and the various components of the industry -- a unanimous recommendation that the emphasis be shifted from actual sales to the availability to the consumer of refillables and non-refillables in terms of that ratio. The member would recognize that there was not a request that either the legislation or the regulation be modified, but they did make this recommendation based on the fact that the blue box program in Ontario has been exceedingly beneficial and successful. Indeed, some 1.8 million households in the province now are involved in the blue box program.
While others in other jurisdictions have tried different methods to divert waste from what would normally go to either a landfill or an incinerator, they are coming to Ontario to look at what we have done because we have been most successful in diverting that household waste, in that instead of the approximately one per cent which is contributed by soft drink containers to the waste stream, we have, through the blue box program, the engine of which is the soft drink container --
Mrs Grier: Before this minister took office, he believed in a waste reduction hierarchy of reducing, reusing and then recycling. In fact, representatives of all parties in this Legislature last December supported a motion of mine reaffirming their commitment to that hierarchy and calling upon the minister to reduce waste. If there is any easy way to reduce waste, it is to require people to use reusable soft drink containers. One study has shown that only 6.3 per cent of those that could be recycled are in fact recycled.
How on earth can the minister justify this latest cave-in to the industry and the fact that he is prepared to put all the responsibility on the consumers and not on the producers of the waste? I thought he also agreed in making the producers and the polluters pay. Now he is saying it is our fault because we are not buying reusable containers.
Hon Mr Bradley: Of course what the member forgets in this whole matter is that there will still be a requirement, for instance, in terms of advertising, that the soft drink industries must advertise equally both non-refillables and refillables; second, that they must continue to stock on their shelves both refillables and non-refillables so that they are available to the consumers.
She forgets as well that the pricing system will mean that on the average there will be a 30 per cent lower price for those drinks that are sold in refillables instead of non-refillables and that in fact they must maintain their production capabilities so that they can supply to the consumers of Ontario. She would know if consumers in the province, as they indicate in many areas, wish to purchase one product over another -- for instance, 100 per cent of the products that are sold in terms of soft drinks could be in refillables rather than in non-refillables if that were the choice of the people. But she must recognize that the Recycling Advisory Committee obviously believes that the best way to capture the most waste and divert it from either landfill or incinerators is by using blue boxes.
Mrs Grier: I think it is important that members of the House understand that what the minister is saying is: “We’re not going to regulate. We’re not going to monitor. We’re not going to prosecute. It’s the choice of the people.” It is the choice of the people to gobble up prime farm land and live around Metropolitan Toronto. Is that why we have no food land policy guidelines in this province? It is the choice of the lumber mills to lumber old-growth forests. That is what the market might dictate. Is that why we are logging Temagami?
This minister is now saying it is the choice of the people to use non-refillable containers and therefore we will not regulate the industry. Does he not realize that this is a complete abdication of his responsibility to protect the environment and reduce waste?
Hon Mr Bradley: What the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore refuses to understand, or refuses to recognize at least, is the fact that we have in Ontario a system which in terms of household garbage diverts some 14 per cent of that which would normally go to an incinerator or to a landfill in the province and that in fact the engine for this, what is making it work, is indeed the soft drink container which is in that blue box.
Why, I ask the member, are people coming from all over North America to look at the system we have in effect, which has 1.8 million households and which has the broad support of people right across this province? Why are people from the European Community now coming to look at what we are doing in North America in terms of our blue box system and in terms of the Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc system, where the private sector has added, to the $20 million that it already gave, $45 million to promote recycling in this province and where we are going to see even more of that happening?
Mr Brandt: A question again to the Premier. Prior to the 1987 election there was a very substantial announcement made by his government to the effect that it would be investing some $850 million in hospital beds and health services in Ontario and that would amount to some 4,400 beds. I realize that promise has been withdrawn or changed or altered very substantially.
There are people who are extremely angry that the government has led them up the garden path with respect to hospital construction. I say that because areas like Ajax-Pickering have raised $7 million, their required one third of the money, and they have received absolutely no word from the government with respect to what has happened to what they considered to be a very firm promise.
These petitions the Premier sees before him, thousands of them, are from the Ajax-Pickering area saying, “Are you going to build the hospital you promised to build before the last election?” They would like to know from the Premier, is he going to keep the promise?
Hon Mr Peterson: Obviously we will keep the promise. I tell my honourable friend that all those commitments still stand and indeed are exceeded. Some discussions are going on in various communities on the appropriate kind of care for the future, working along with community-based care as well. I do not think the member has any reason to despair.
Mr Brandt: I am glad the Premier does not think I have any reason to despair. I am feeling quite badly about the efforts that have been put forward on a local level by these individuals, who have literally raised millions of dollars, which was the formula the Premier and his ministry and staff put in place in order to proceed with the construction of these facilities. Now he has announced in the Ajax-Pickering area this new community called Seaton, which is going to require some additional infrastructure. The hospital that would be most likely to support the health needs of the people in this new community would be Ajax-Pickering.
Is the Premier prepared to make a commitment today that Ajax-Pickering will receive the money it requires to build the additional chronic care beds that it has requested and that he will meet the commitment that he made?
Hon Mr Peterson: There is no question that we will respond to the needs of that community and there is no question that we understand the needs of the new and expanding community of Seaton. We are determined to have the best infrastructure available for those people.
My honourable friend knows the discussions that are going on with a number of communities with respect to the very best kind of community and chronic care for the future. As he knows, there is also a new emphasis on home care, and community-based medicine. My honourable friend will know that we in Ontario are, I think, the most institutionalized society in the world. There are new approaches being looked at, but every community will have its needs responded to.
Mr Brandt: The Premier says today that we are the most institutionalized province or region in the entire world, and I presume by that he means we have more available hospital beds per capita. There may be some truth in that.
I did not make the commitment for 4,400 beds in 1986; the Premier did. On the strength of that commitment, hospitals in Sarnia, in London, in Windsor, in Orillia, in Ajax-Pickering, in St Catharines, in areas right across this province have proceeded to have bake sales and bottle drives to solicit direct donations from individuals in order to support their part of the commitment. Now what is being said to them is that discussions are going on. They were of the opinion that those discussions had come to a bit of an end and had been concluded satisfactorily and that the commitment was made by the government to proceed with the construction.
What time frame can he give Ajax and Pickering General Hospital or St Catharines General Hospital or other hospitals that have raised money locally before they are going to get the money to proceed with the construction they require?
Hon Mr Peterson: I cannot respond to the specific question with respect to a specific hospital, but I am certainly happy to respond in general. That financial commitment stands and indeed has been exceeded. There is far more than that.
Hon Mr Peterson: I can tell my honourable friend that he is just getting excited about things that are not correct. We recognize the changes of demographics. We recognize the changing emphasis on home care. We recognize some of the changing community needs and we are very comfortable to respond to that in a very thoughtful way, not just for now but in the future as well. I can tell my honourable friend we are working with those communities, and I think they understand this approach.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer of Ontario. The Treasurer said yesterday that he believes taxpayers everywhere are sick and tired of having one level of government pass off its responsibilities to another level of government and make the taxpayers pay there. I happen to agree with the Treasurer in that regard. I know as well that the taxpayers in Brant county agree with the Treasurer, since last year they had a 14 per cent increase in property taxes and they are going to have one of around nine per cent this year, in 1990. Officials at Brant county tell us that the reason for that is strictly provincial government initiatives.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am very much impressed with the abilities of the elected officials and financial officers in Brant county to improve their situation. I think the honourable member would join with me in extending congratulations to them. They are all good friends of mine. That does not necessarily mean they are all Liberals, but I assure the member none of them are New Democrats.
I think the honourable member would also be aware that on average, since 1985, we have increased the allocations to the municipalities by nine per cent per year. I know that the municipalities have been doing their best to control their costs but, as these costs go above that, naturally they have to turn to their own ratepayers to find the funds that are required. We think they have done a reasonably good job at that. They feel we are not giving them enough money, and I can understand that feeling. I have been known to criticize the senior level of government for not giving us enough money, and I do not want to do that any more.
Mr Laughren: The property taxpayers in the city of Brantford are having an increase this year on property taxes of 8.2 per cent, and the reason that it is 8.2 per cent -- which is above the rate of inflation, I am sure the Treasurer knows -- is the unconditional grants that were frozen for the last two years; the health payroll tax, which is costing an additional $150,000; pay equity, $300,000; court security, $60,000, plus a wide array of other costs, primarily caused by this Treasurer.
The Treasurer knows that property taxes are unfair and hit low- and middle-income earners the hardest. Will he assure us that in his budget next Tuesday there will be no provincial initiatives that will pass on the costs of these initiatives to property taxpayers at the municipal level?
Hon R. F. Nixon: It is a fortunate coincidence, I suppose, that the tax increase the honourable member reports from Brantford is identical to the increase we are passing on from the provincial Treasury on the overall basis: 8.2 per cent. It is almost magical. This of course does not mean the local taxpayers are not going to have to dig deeper, not only for the programs that are required on a general basis across the province but for those that are designed specially to benefit the city of Brantford.
We think Brantford is a case that is particularly appropriate to choose because it is one of the progressive municipalities in Ontario. They have been able to control and direct their growth in an exceptionally fine way. My colleague the honourable member for Brantford was really the author of setting that city in this direction and towards these goals, for which the local ratepayers have shown their appreciation by supporting him strongly at the most recent election.
Mr Runciman: In the absence of the Minister of Health, I would like to direct this question to the Attorney General. Hopefully he will be familiar with the topic. He may be aware that John Finlayson is going to be appearing before the Lieutenant Governor’s Board of Review next week, on 27 April, with respect to placement of that individual. A number of years ago, he was found responsible for the sexual assault and murder and mutilation of a young Toronto boy. Subsequent to that, he was released into the community and committed another violent act and was found not guilty by reason of insanity once again. Now this hearing is taking place next week.
The mother of young Kirk Deasley, Carol Ann Deasley, has asked to have the opportunity to appear before the review board and give testimony in respect of her concerns about Mr Finlayson and the possible future release of that gentleman once again into the community. Does the ministry have a position on this sort of intervention on the part of victims?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the Lieutenant Governor’s warrants board is chaired by Mr Justice Callon of the Supreme Court of Ontario and has vice-chairmen, including a number of other Supreme Court and district court judges in the province. It is not a board within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Attorney General but, as the honourable member noted, it is within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. The honourable member can be certain I will bring his concern and the concern of his constituent to my colleague’s attention as promptly as I can.
Mr Runciman: I appreciate that response. I simply want to say that when he was contacted some time ago in respect to this by members of the media, Mr Justice Callon indicated: “I do not want to hear any of that emotional stuff. I do not think it is helpful to the process.”
Again, I would like to hear the Attorney General’s views in respect to this sort of impact statement being made before the review board process. We are talking about a board that makes decisions to release individuals like Mr Finlayson into the community, and in this instance and in many others that we are aware of criminal acts have once again been committed against the citizens of this province. I think it is important that, perhaps through the Minister of Health but certainly the Attorney General, the government take a strong stand in support of individuals like Mrs Deasley having an opportunity to be heard.
The gentlemen of the review board are releasing these chaps into the community. They should be responsible. They should have those witnesses appearing before them so they can understand, in a very real sense, the impact on those families.
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the board is regulated, among other things, by the provisions of the Criminal Code. I am sure every member in the House wants the board to operate as effectively and as fairly in the public interest as it possibly can. That is why the government has gone to the trouble to make sure that it is chaired by a senior justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario of very great experience.
I understand the honourable member’s concerns. I must take them at face value, because I have not heard the comment that he has assigned to Mr Justice Callon. I will ask the Minister of Health to make an inquiry about the matter.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I have asked and raised this question on previous occasions in this House and, so far as I can tell, nothing has been done.
I have been told there are over 20,000 refugees within Ontario who are not allowed by the federal government to work and who therefore must be assisted by the provincial taxpayers. I hear the costs can be in excess of $100 million annually to this province. Yet when you talk to each of these refugees, as I have done, you realize that they desperately want to work, to support themselves and to support their families.
Hon Mr Beer: My honourable colleague raises an issue which is once again of some concern to the province, not only to my ministry and our government but indeed to a number of municipalities. In fact, yesterday I met with the chairman of Peel region and a number of his officials to discuss some of the concerns they have around the increasing number of refugee claimants in that municipality and the cost to them. I have also had an opportunity to discuss that with Metropolitan Toronto, and I know that Ottawa, Hamilton and others have raised concerns.
The honourable member might be interested to know that in February 1989 some 21,000 refugee claimants were on the general welfare assistance rolls. Some changes were made subsequent to February 1989, but today the figure is over 15,000 and is beginning to climb again; and of those 15,000, approximately 12,700 are in Metropolitan Toronto, and that number is growing by some 600 cases a month.
For this reason, at the end of March, I wrote to the federal minister, Barbara McDougall, and suggested to her in the strongest terms that it was time the federal government assumed the financial responsibility for the refugee claimants in Ontario.
Mr Owen: I know that other provinces, such as Quebec and Newfoundland, are also carrying a heavy burden in this problem, as we are. I am also told that the federal immigration system is not waging a very effective battle in eliminating or even reducing the number of refugee cases. I wonder if it would be possible to give an ultimatum to the federal government that it either allow the work permits or pick up the tab for the problems it is causing by its policies or that it provide us with the opportunities for work on federal, municipal or provincial projects. Something has to be done, because it is unfair in the present situation.
Hon Mr Beer: We have looked at a number of options to see what we as a province can do but, as the honourable member knows, the legal responsibility for the refugee claimants rests with the federal government. We also know that the vast majority of refugee claimants want nothing better than to get accepted into the country as refugees and to become full members of the society; indeed, when they are given refugee status, we see that this is precisely what they do.
I have said to the municipalities with which I have been meeting and discussing this issue that I would expect a response from Mrs McDougall very shortly, and if we do not we are going to move in a very aggressive fashion in conjunction with the municipalities most affected to get the federal government to accept its responsibilities in this regard. To a number of approaches that have been suggested, they have said no, or they have cancelled other approaches that provided financial help. But now, when we look at it, the actual dollar figure last year was over $112 million in Ontario. For the coming year we are projecting $128 million, but if the situation continues to deteriorate that figure will of course go up. It is time the federal government took some action.
Mr Allen: My question is also to the Minister of Community and Social Services. I want to acquaint the minister with some ripple effects of the unfortunate funding and policy response the government has made to children’s mental health centres.
I refer to the Earlscourt Child and Family Centre, which has recently had to reduce the catchment area it has served in central Toronto, broadly speaking, which has had to lay off three of its workers and which now, as a result of funding constraints, has to close down a reception class for transient children exposed to family violence who come from the four interval and transition houses in the area of Huron Street school -- the Annex, as it is called.
The minister will be aware of not only the social problems but the academic problems faced by children in those emotionally difficult circumstances and yet, as a result of funding constraints, Earlscourt has had to give notice that at the end of this school year that reception class, unique in this country and described as a very valuable experiment in Canada’s mental health, will have to close. Why is the minister standing by and letting that happen?
Hon Mr Beer: Our colleague the honourable member for St Andrew-St Patrick has also raised that specific issue with me regarding the transition class, and I think, as the honourable member has noted, Earlscourt has done some extremely innovative work in a number of areas dealing with this and other issues. It is my understanding that this program at the present time has been transferred to another school.
One of the issues that has come out of that is, given the effectiveness of the program at Huron, whether there is some way in which it could be continued there as well as at another centre. As the honourable member mentions, we have had some funding problems in the broad area, but we are looking to see what we might be able to do in that regard.
I would underline, though, that the decision to move the program, as I understand it, was made by Earlscourt and that the program is continuing. I think the issue is to see whether or not it could continue as well at the Huron location in Toronto.
Mr Allen: The program itself is not transferable; it is not being displaced into another school. What we have is another school with a set of transient children of a slightly different character, but also high-risk, who will be served at the Lord Dufferin school as distinct from the Huron school.
The problem there, and the tragedy, I am told by Earlscourt, is that if there is no more top-up funding to meet pay equity needs in the Earlscourt situation, the program will never open at all. So instead of having two high-risk children’s groups being served in at least one location, we will have neither of them served in either location, and the program will be totally gone.
Hon Mr Beer: We do take it very seriously. In fact, one of the reasons we moved to increase the percentage increase for all the transfer payment agencies in the Ministry of Community and Social Services was the various pressing needs they had. We hope that the move to 5.5 per cent will be helpful in this regard as well, but we are mindful of the particular nature of that program. I have directed that we look very carefully at it, and indeed we are doing that to see how we can meet the needs of those two programs. I believe that, working with them, we will be able to find a way to resolve this situation.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Premier. He will be aware, I am sure, of an external report done in late February 1990 with respect to cardiovascular services at the Hospital for Sick Children here in Toronto. I am sure he will also be aware that the report, which was done by an independent review team headed by Dr Salerno of St Michael’s Hospital, concludes:
“At the crux of the matter is the inability of the hospital to retain recruited critical care nurses. The nursing department has done everything that is possible internally to deal with the issue of retention within those areas.”
Hon Mr Peterson: I wish I could respond in more detail to my honourable friend’s question. It is a fair question. The minister is not here; I am sure she could assist him more on the specific details of that question. But there is no question that is a problem, particularly for the downtown hospitals in Toronto, where a high percentage of the medical care is based, as my honourable friend knows. Getting technical staff is a problem in a number of areas. Mind you, it is an international problem, as my honourable friend knows as well. I have talked to a number of health professionals who tell me that.
Mr Eves: Perhaps I can help the Premier out somewhat. Last Thursday I did ask the Minister of Health this very question, because the first recommendation in this report is a submission to the Minister of Health, which was made about four weeks ago now, requesting some $8 million in additional funding to address this very particular problem of a critical care nursing shortage at the Hospital for Sick Children. In her response, the minister relayed some initiatives that she has taken about nursing generally in the province. She relayed the information the Treasurer had given her about the additional funding to hospitals but did not specifically address this particular problem and this particular request for which an answer was requested by the hospital, I might add, by last Thursday, which is why I asked the question on that day.
Can we get a commitment out of the Premier today that he will direct the Minister of Health to look seriously at the Hospital for Sick Children’s proposal and respond in a positive manner so that these children are not on waiting lists for 16 weeks on average and do not have to go, as two children did recently, to Minneapolis and other places in the United States for treatment?
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Housing. Affordable housing is a problem in Ontario. Government land is made available in the province from time to time for the purpose of development. Considering the need for affordable housing, can the minister update the members of this House on the policy relating to the lease or sale of government land for affordable housing?
Hon Mr Sweeney: As my colleague knows, the Minister of Government Services is responsible for the land holdings of the government. A decision was made by this government that any lands that were surplus to the needs of other ministries would be made available for housing first. We have, over a little while, put a number of pieces of government land on the market. As the member will recall, last December, I think it was, I explained a situation in Stoney Creek.
The member may also be aware of the fact that we do make government land available for non-profit housing corporations. Up until this point, we have sold them that land and incorporated that cost into our payments. We have decided, however, that from now on, whenever we make government land available for non-profit housing, it will be by lease.
With respect to making land available to the general population, we have indicated that we are quite prepared to make it available either for lease or for sale, whichever is in the best interests of and produces the lowest-cost housing for the people who wish to buy it.
Hon Mr Sweeney: We plan in this calendar year of 1990 to have about six or seven fairly large land holdings released for housing. The member will recall that earlier this year -- as a matter of fact, just about a month ago -- I announced the Seaton project, which involves about 7,000 acres of government land. We are currently negotiating with Markham for about 500 acres of government land, which would produce housing for about 15,000 people. We are negotiating in Windsor right now for government land. We are negotiating in Bowmanville. We are negotiating in Kitchener-Waterloo and in Oakville, I believe. Those are the ones that come to my attention.
Over the next couple of years, there are about 20 sites that we will be making available for either sale or lease or lease-to-buy. It is our goal to make them available to the public in the way that will produce the lowest-cost housing for the most number of people.
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Earlier this month, the minister announced his $5-billion package for public transit in Metropolitan Toronto, a plan that was welcomed by the municipalities and the opposition parties in this House. At that time, I pointed out the glaring omission of any commitment to making those new transit systems fully accessible to the disabled.
Can the minister explain that omission, and given that it is so much cheaper to make a system accessible when you are first building it rather than retrofitting it, can he give us some commitment that he will provide the funding to allow those new systems to be used by all the people of the Metropolitan Toronto area?
Hon Mr Wrye: I am well aware of the fact that this is a very important issue to which there has been considerable discussion and attention throughout the greater Toronto area. As the honourable member knows, a number of reports have been prepared by the Toronto Transit Commission itself.
I can tell the member that while the discussions continue and indeed while our progress on this issue continues, and it has seen a budget which has grown by leaps and bounds and a commitment to transportation for the disabled which has grown very, very quickly -- I think over 90 communities now are affected -- nevertheless the issue of accessibility is an important one. We have indicated that in the building of new stations, and in making provisions for the expansion of the system, provision for accessibility will be contained within.
Mrs Grier: I welcome that commitment. I want to ask the minister a more specific question. In March, Metro council passed a resolution endorsing a 10-year plan to make its system retrofittedly accessible. The plan was called Choices for the Future. Can the minister tell us whether he has met with Metropolitan Toronto around these proposals and whether he is prepared to support the 10-year plan that would make the existing TTC system more accessible?
Hon Mr Wrye: I can say to the member and to my colleagues that this government has been proceeding with a whole range of options, and certainly public transit is one of them, not just for the disabled but for the frail elderly. In that regard, such issues as kneeling buses and others are issues which we are moving on immediately.
I am aware of the latest proposals from Metro council. I have not had an opportunity to review them with Chairman Tonks and the leadership of Metro council yet. Obviously, as the member knows, since she alluded to it in the preamble to her first question, there have been a number of other very central issues we have been dealing with, but this is a very, very important issue and I expect to have these discussions with Metro council to see how, working together, we can make progress on this issue in the years to come.
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. We are aware that the government announced the new tire tax last summer. We are also aware that it is up to in excess of $40 million at this point. We had the excitement of the announcement of the program, of course, following the fire at Hagersville. The announcement for the program was approximately between $13 and $16 million. That would probably leave a balance of maybe $25 million that is yet unaccounted for from last year’s accumulation on tire tax. Would the minister like to tell this House what he is doing with the money he is collecting under the pretence of tire tax for environmental programs?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member knows that in all jurisdictions of this kind, all money that is collected as a tax goes into the consolidated revenue fund to be distributed as seems fit. That is true in any province in Canada. It is true of the federal government. It is true in the province of Ontario. If the member looks at what the Treasurer announced in his last budget, he announced that such funds would be used for the purposes of recycling in the province, and indeed the member would know that the recycling commitment in Ontario this year is approximately $55 million.
I know the minister is aware of the fact that St Lawrence Cement is advocating tire incineration. In fact, the general manager of St Lawrence Cement has been on The Journal, talking about burning tires at his plant. I would like to know from the minister whether tire incineration is a program that he is going to advocate and whether he supports St Lawrence Cement’s interest in burning tires. If so, will he encourage them, in spite of the fact that they are out of compliance with their current operation in the manufacturing of cement and now have a control order issued against them?
Hon Mr Bradley: I see. The member is not saying whether she is advocating that. I was just wondering about that, because when I have had advice from various members of her party, that advice is not always the same, depending on where it is coming from.
The emphasis that we in the Ministry of the Environment have placed is on recycling efforts, all of the recycling efforts we can bring forward. Anybody who has any other solutions is welcome to bring those solutions forward. They must be proceeded with in an environmentally desirable manner. They must go through the approval process. But anyone who has any ideas which would be useful in dealing with this matter is most welcome to bring those to the attention of the government of Ontario and the Ministry of the Environment. We would evaluate them on the basis of all the environmental criteria that are set up and make a determination at that point in time.
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment concerning the Detroit incinerator, which is a matter of considerable importance to the people of Windsor and Essex county. The minister will know this is the largest incinerator in North America, and perhaps in the world, which has been permitted to be constructed and operate without the best available technology. I understand there has been a recent development with respect to this incinerator before the Michigan Air Pollution Control Commission. Could the minister please bring the House up to date on this matter?
Hon Mr Bradley: I certainly can. The member for Windsor-Walkerville, along with the member for Windsor-Sandwich, has brought this matter to my attention on a number of occasions. If my memory is correct, we were both in Windsor at the time and the member was receiving an award from the Windsor and District Clean Water Alliance for his initiative in being the first person to appear before the Michigan Air Pollution Control Commission. He was instrumental in bringing forward a resolution at city council to oppose the incinerator without the appropriate equipment.
I can inform the House that we filed a suit to force the operators of the incinerator to place what we refer to as state-of-the-art pollution control equipment on this new incinerator. We felt then, as we do now in 1990, that a Model T incinerator is not acceptable; that is, an incinerator with less than the best available pollution control technology.
Our suit, I am pleased to report to the member, has survived several challenges by authorities on the other side of the river. Yesterday evening the Michigan Air Pollution Control Commission voted, and I am happy about this, six to four to deny the incinerator an operating permit on the ground that it was emitting too much air pollution. We applaud this decision in the province of Ontario, and I understand that the incinerator is shut down at this time.
Mr M. C. Ray: Could the minister advise the House of the impact of this decision upon the future conduct of his continuing lawsuits in Michigan courts? Decisions of the Michigan Air Pollution Control Commission can obviously be appealed. What impact will that have on the minister’s legal actions in the Michigan courts?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member is quite right. One decision of a board does not necessarily do the job. We recognize that there is the possibility of the city of Detroit and the operating company in this case appealing this particular decision. That is why we intend to continue to press our case, which I believe ultimately we will win. I think it is a good case we are putting forward to get the people who run the Detroit incinerator to do the right thing and to spend the necessary money to ensure that the best pollution control equipment is on it and that they can eliminate unnecessary pollution that might be created by this particular facility.
It has been a long fight. It will continue in the courts, even though we have this favourable decision, which we think is a good decision. It is as a result of a number of people who have complained. We took the initiative as a ministry. We were criticized at the time by some who said we should not be involved in the American courts. We felt, on behalf of the people in Essex county, on behalf of the people in Windsor, that it was our responsibility to do that. That is why we undertook this action, which we will continue to pursue in the courts in the United States.
Miss Martel: In the short time remaining, I have a question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities concerning funding for dental hygiene programs. He will know that two years ago Niagara College had to terminate its dental hygiene program because of the high cost of delivering it. He will also know that Cambrian College announced some months ago the suspension of its program because of the high cost of delivery.
At the same time, a task force within his ministry was put together to study all college programs, in particular high-cost programs. I am advised that this particular committee recommended a substantial increase in the weighting of dental hygiene programs across the province so that his ministry would flow more money to those colleges in order to allow them to deliver them. I am also advised that this report has been sitting on his desk for several weeks now.
If the minister would make some kind of announcement today about increased funding to those colleges, I am sure colleges like Cambrian would continue to pick up the cost in order to continue the programs. Will he give us that commitment today?
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my honourable friend the member for Sudbury East for raising this matter. It is true that at the Ministry of Colleges and Universities we have been reviewing a number of the formulae, but I can tell her that I am not prepared to give her a response to her particular question in that connection today, although I could observe that Cambrian has received a rather generous increase in overall allocations this year over last.
I would also observe, as I know she and the member for Nickel Belt would want me to observe, that matters of the management of those resources at a particular college fall within the purview of the board of governors and the management team at the particular institution. Neither the member for Sudbury East nor the member for Nickel Belt would want me, as the Toronto-based minister, to intrude upon the management rights of the local board or the local management team. But I do repeat that Cambrian has enjoyed a significant increase in funding this year over last.
“We, the undersigned members and/or adherents of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Port Credit, Mississauga, protest strongly the removal of Christian traditions and values from the public school program, both elementary and secondary.
“We realize that religious education in the form of classes in the schools is difficult to defend in this day and age, but we feel that the simple reading of the Lord’s Prayer by the principal as part of the opening exercises should not be considered to contravene the Charter of Rights.
Mr Haggerty: As an explanatory note, the purpose of the bill is to relieve persons from liability in respect to voluntary emergency first aid assistance or medical services rendered at or near the scene of an accident or other sudden emergency.
Mr Kormos: Once again, thank you, Mr Speaker. I should tell you at the outset my plans for this afternoon. I think it is important that if I lay out some sort of structure for these comments, you and the other members here might find it somewhat easier to follow along, recognizing that there is a course, there is a flow, or certainly an effort on my part to do that.
Yesterday I began with a reference to the critique by Mr Justice Barr, retired judge of the Supreme Court, with respect to Bill 68, and I am going to try to include that among my comments this afternoon. The rationale for that is to illustrate how complex the matter really is and why, because of that complexity, it calls for a reasonable period of time for debate. I am going to deal with the critique of Mr Justice Barr because, in my view, that goes directly to our opposition to this time allocation motion.
I am also going to talk about the objections that the Ontario Head Injury Association has to Bill 68 because those objections once again illustrate that this is not a simple matter, that it is not one that can be adequately dealt with, and should not be dealt with, in a period of a couple of hours. Indeed, it requires careful consideration by all the members of this Legislative Assembly.
I do also want to tell you, Mr Speaker, that I am buoyed by the Liberal backbenchers who have approached me to discuss their concerns about Bill 68. The Liberal backbenchers have approached me in confidence, of course, because they are still fearful of the House leader and the Minister of Financial Institutions. I have every intention of respecting their confidences, but I tell you, Mr Speaker, these Liberal backbenchers I have spoken with -- oh, here are the Beauchesne and Erskine and May. We will be dealing with those a little bit too today.
These same Liberal backbenchers have not yet brought themselves to a position where they can indicate to me that they are prepared to vote against the legislation, but they do indicate that they are prepared to absent themselves from the House when this matter comes to a vote. As I say, I have every intention of respecting the confidence that those people request when they express their positions to me. But I do want those Liberal backbenchers who are beginning to understand just how bad Bill 68 is to know that they are in good company. They share concerns with a lot of people all over Ontario.
Indeed, Ontario is a big province. We are talking about a lot of people from the north, from the south, from areas up around James Bay, Hudson Bay. We are talking about people all over Ontario who are opposed to Bill 68. Those people have been brave enough to let their positions be known. This is important. It is important to understand that Bill 68 is so unpopular as a bit of legislation that, once again, it warrants far better treatment than the shabby treatment that would be given it if this Liberal time allocation motion, this Liberal closure were to pass.
they call or write and ask for the FAIR tabloid, I will send them a copy of this tabloid, published by the Committee for Fair Action in Insurance, which discloses the results of a survey undertaken here in the province to show that the vast majority of people in Ontario oppose Bill 68.
If people want to call my office here at Queen’s Park, at 965-7714, or if they want to send a note in the mail -- just address it to me, Parliament Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto -- and ask for the FAIR brochure, we will send them that brochure with the information that is contained in it. They should know that is not taxpayers money; that is contributions made by people across Ontario to this particular organization.
Similarly, people may want one of these pin-on buttons. It says, “No-fault, No Thanks.” I have a limited number of these that I will send out to people who phone in with their addresses. Again, they can call us here at Queen’s Park, at 965-7714, or drop a note in the mail addressed to me, Queen’s Park, Legislative Building, Toronto, Room 221, North Wing, to be specific. If they ask for the “No-fault, No Thanks” button or if they ask for a copy of the FAIR tabloid with all the information it has about how bad this legislation is, I will send them the tabloid or the button, for as long as these buttons last. I am looking forward to hearing from even more people.
By the way, just for those who might be concerned, we did excerpt parts of this FAIR tabloid because what it demonstrates is the massive opposition to Bill 68 in contrast to who supports Bill 68, this lonely little column here that says, “The auto insurance industry in Ontario.” Yet all these good folks -- trade unionists, workers, seniors, injured people, victims -- they all oppose Bill 68, for good reason. That is why this time allocation motion is in such bad taste and really bad form, and quite frankly so dangerous.
So we will send out the FAIR tabloid for people who are interested in it, who phone my office, 965-7714, area code 416, or who write to me here at Queen’s Park, Legislative Building, Toronto; similarly the buttons, these buttons which say, “No-fault, No Thanks.” That is a relevant thing to talk about when we are talking about this time allocation motion, because people all over Ontario are saying to the Liberals here at Queen’s Park: “No-fault? No way. No thanks, pal. We can do without, Mr Parliamentary Assistant, member for Guelph, Liberal front man for the Minister of Financial Institutions.”
So there you go, the buttons and the FAIR tabloids, because people have been calling and people have been writing. It is important to understand what they have been saying and to hear what they have been saying. These Liberals are loath to listen to people across the province. That is why they short-circuited the committee hearings. It is time for them to sit here as a captive audience, if you will, and hear what real people in Ontario say about Bill 68, hear about what real working people say about Bill 68. Here is a letter I got the other day. It says:
“Your filibuster has become my favourite television since Watergate. Go, go, go. I am a middle-aged woman, licensed and insured for 25 years, who allowed my insurance” -- see, if the parliamentary assistant would listen to this he would understand how thoroughly inadequate Bill 68 is when it comes to the difficulties being experienced by Heather Dean from Scarborough.
She writes that she allowed her insurance to lapse during a year when she was hospitalized and convalescing and temporarily disabled. She said, why pay insurance if she was unable to drive? That is a reasonably logical thing for anybody to do, is it not? To ask themselves, “Why should I pay insurance,” as Ms Dean asked herself, “if I’m convalescing and I’m not going to drive anyway?” So she let her insurance coverage on her car lapse.
“Wrong move,” said the insurer, as he announced to Ms Dean that she would have to acquire Facility Association coverage. The member for Guelph should listen carefully, please. The Minister of Financial Institutions ain’t here. Hopefully, if the minister is still talking to the parliamentary assistant him, he can convey this message to the minister. The insurer announced that Ms Dean would have to acquire Facility coverage. He asked her, “How is Allstate supposed to know that you didn’t have a major accident during the period you weren’t insured?”
Ms Dean writes: “The Liberals’ insurance legislation shares the fatal failing of their rent review legislation. The Liberals have a fanatical ideological commitment to the starting point that all the players in the group to be regulated are honourable gentlemen” -- and gentlewomen -- ”who would never deceive the government and have no appetite for gouging.”
Ms Dean is dead on. She is dead on. Just as the Liberals’ rent review legislation in this province caters to and accommodates the big, wealthy landlords and developers who could manipulate that so-called rent review regulatory system, their suggestion about what type of commission will be established pursuant to Bill 68, once they ram that through this Legislature, is once again going to create that same industry-loaded bias.
The insurance industry and these Liberals would have us believe that the industry being regulated, the auto insurance industry, consists of honourable gentlemen and gentlewomen. I say to the contrary. Ms Dean knows better and I say better the Liberals should wake up and see what is going on around them. They are not honourable gentlemen and gentlewomen, they are not people who would never deceive the government and they are not people who have no appetite for gouging. As a matter of fact, specifically to the contrary, each and every instance. Ms Dean goes on and writes:
“Since this is not the case, they consistently fail to anticipate the real-world consequences of their legislation. Your kid-smashed-by-the-drunk-driver scenario is a particularly defensible type of analysis. It should be done with any legislation. Without this type of game playing in advance we spend our next 10 years using all our fingers and toes to plug the leaks in the dike when these things do happen and the faults in the legislation are revealed, one by one, by the suffering of the victims of hasty legislation. Think it through for them, Baby Blue.” That is Heather Dean from Orton Park Road in Scarborough.
Once again, Ms Dean’s analysis is 100 per cent correct, is it not? She is dead on. The fact is she is trying very hard to send a message to these Liberals. These Liberals do not want to listen. They do not even want to debate. That is what time allocation is all about. That is what closure is all about. Closure is all about muzzling the opposition so that you are not required to defend, in this instance, bad, bad legislation.
I can ask the members this as well: Is that very fair, to not permit debate about a piece of legislation, like Bill 68, that is going to have such a serious impact on so many people’s lives? Is that fair, to not allow discussion and debate about that bill? Of course it is not. Would a democratic government, would a government that had a sense of responsibility to democratic principles muzzle the opposition? Of course not. A democratic government would welcome debate would say --
Mr Kormos: Exactly, that is the point -- ”Let’s discuss the issue.” That is what a democratic government would say. It is not what the Liberals here in Ontario say, no. They want to use their majority to smash all those principles upon which this institution, this Legislative Assembly is built. They have demonstrated it. They demonstrated it yesterday. They demonstrated it back on 3 April, when the House leader for the Liberals moved this time allocation motion.
Once again, all he has got to do is withdraw this motion. He has just got to withdraw the motion, so we can get down to talking about Bill 68, which is all that we ever wanted to do, discuss Bill 68 and point out to the Liberals here how unfair Bill 68 is to so many people in Ontario. That is why we are opposing this time allocation motion and that is why it is so horribly important to us, because we believe in democracy, we believe in fair play, we believe that the interests of the people of Ontario should be represented here at Queen’s Park, and not just the interest of the big, wealthy, powerful auto insurance industry, that same auto insurance industry that has been pulling the strings of this government, making it do their bidding.
That is what Bill 68 is all about. Bill 68 is all about making big new profits for the auto insurance industry. Bill 68 is all about increasing premiums for drivers by as much as 50 per cent. That is what the Minister of Financial Institutions said. The member for Guelph, poor man, when he was sitting with that standing committee on general government, midway through that committee’s hearings -- and I will bet you dollars to doughnuts, Mr Speaker, without any consultation with the member for Guelph -- was confronted, as we all were, with the promise of the Minister of Financial Institutions, published in a Toronto newspaper, that once Bill 68 is passed premiums are going to go up by as much as 50 per cent for drivers in Ontario. That is drivers with regular insurance.
What we learned through the press, in the last week and a half, was that some 300,000 drivers, almost a third of a million drivers here in Ontario, if Bill 68 is passed by these Liberals, are going to face premium increases of as much as 80 per cent. Did the members read that? Do they remember that in the Toronto newspaper? Three hundred thousand drivers are being promised premium increases of as much as 80 per cent, because these are the ones who are going to be forced into Facility Association, 80 per cent premium increases for almost one third of a million drivers. And that is in the first instance. Lord only knows what is going to happen in the months, and indeed few short years, following the implementation of this bad legislation.
That is why we want to send copies of this tabloid, the FAIR tabloid, to people who call or write to my office here at Queen’s Park, and that is why we want to see people wearing these “No-fault, No Thanks” buttons and we are prepared to make these available to people who just call or write as long as they are available. And that is why I am so pleased to hear from people like Heather Dean in Scarborough, who writes about how disappointed she is in this Liberal government here in Ontario, she like so many others and certainly like myself.
I will say it to you, Mr Speaker, let’s see this debate ended right now. Let’s see it go to the ultimate jury. Let the Liberals call an election. Let’s have an election call right now. Let’s have them call an election so we can talk about Bill 68 with the public in Ontario, with the electorate. The sad thing is that there are a whole lot of Liberals over there who had better start talking about some retirement plans, because people in Ontario will not tolerate being sold out by the Liberals so that the auto insurance industry in Ontario can enjoy windfall profits of $1 billion as a result of Bill 68 being rammed through this Legislature.
Heather Dean from Scarborough is not alone. Donna Moscattini phoned in to say she has been following this on her cable TV and she is proud of the position the New Democrats are taking in opposition (1) to the closure being imposed on us by the Liberals and (2) to Bill 68 because she knows Bill 68 is bad legislation and should be dumped.
Helen Hanson from North York phoned up to say she is delighted with the work that we are doing against Bill 68. She is really frightened of the impact that Bill 68 will have on herself, her neighbours and her family. She is sure that people are going to suffer if Bill 68 is rammed through this Legislature by the Liberals. And Helen Hanson from North York is right.
Mac Galbraith phoned up from Mississauga, an interesting person. He is a cousin of John Kenneth Galbraith. Later, if some of the Liberal members want to speak to me in the hall, I will tell them who John Kenneth Galbraith is. He is a great Canadian. But Mac Galbraith called in from Mississauga and said he has been following this debate. He indicated that he has been voting Liberal. He says, “Never again.”
Ken Harris from Mississauga called up. He said congratulations to the New Democrats and the work we are doing against Bill 68. He says that Bill 68 is going to create social injustice for all people. Again, Ken Harris is right on, he is 100 per cent correct.
Dave Bogdon called from Kitchener. He is a member of the federal Liberal Party. He was very specific about telling my office staff that he was a member of the federal Liberal Party. But Dave Bogdon called to say that he supports the New Democrats’ position on Bill 68 wholeheartedly. He wonders how much personal disability insurance one would have to buy to protect oneself under the proposed system and what do you do if you cannot operate your business and others are relying on you. Mr Bogdon’s concerns are legitimate, and some time next week I am going to be talking about some scenarios wherein the concerns that Mr Bogdon speaks of will actually arise for small business people.
Bill 68 is not just an attack on women. It is not just an attack on farmers and farm workers. It is not just an attack on working people. It is not just an attack on the middle class. It is an attack on small business people too, because small business people will suffer under this proposed system that the Liberals want to ram through and that the insurance companies support, oh so fervently.
Mr Kormos: The problem is that the Liberals are so slavish in their relationship with the auto insurance industry that they are not prepared to listen to others who have extremely legitimate insights. Remember, we spent a lot of time trying to explain to the Liberals why Mr Justice Haines’s critique of Bill 68 was significant and something that warranted debate? Mr Justice Haines -- a lifetime as often as not acting for insurance companies, as a defence counsel. Now what better source of insight and information could one ever ask for?
Once again, here is Val Leroux, 12 years as an insurance adjuster. He says, regarding the filibuster, “Keep doing it. The implications of Bill 68 are horrendous. There’s not going to be a saving of one cent,” not to drivers. Heck, no. Drivers are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent, plus a third of a million drivers are going to be forced into Facility, new members of Facility, and they are going to face premium increases of 80 per cent.
That is exactly why the member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, nice guy that he appears at times, does not want to debate Bill 68 here in this Legislature. Because the member for Guelph does not want to be confronted with the reality of 50 per cent -- indeed, 80 per cent -- premium increases, for not just a handful of drivers but for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of drivers.
Were that not the case, then all the House leader has to do is send me a note saying that he wants to stand up to withdraw this closure motion. That is all he has to do and I will sit down and then we can start talking about Bill 68, instead of having to talk about the closure motion that the Liberals are trying to impose on us.
There was an interesting phone call this morning from Fred Brown on Tedford Drive in Scarborough. Mr Brown is a senior citizen and Mr Brown is extremely concerned about what will happen to people who might want to drive to Florida, as seniors have every right to do, those who wish to and have earned the luxury of a few weeks of sun in the wintertime.
But what about the seniors who have to drive to Florida if they will not be covered? In fact, if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the rules of the jurisdiction in which the accident occurs will apply and their insurance coverage may not be adequate under Bill 68. That puts the little house trailer down in Daytona Beach at risk. It puts the vehicle, the old 10-year-old, 11-year-old or 12-year-old car that they might keep down south, at risk, because insurance coverage under Bill 68 is going to be designed for Ontario, not for North Carolina, South Carolina or Florida.
No bloody wonder that tourism is down in this province. There should be a sign put up at the border crossings that does not just say, “No studded tires in Ontario,” but says, “If Bill 68 gets passed, don’t you dare get injured in Ontario, because Ontario’s insurance laws will bankrupt you as an innocent injured victim so that insurance companies can make profits that they have never dared dream of before.” That is what the sign at Fort Erie, at Niagara Falls, at Windsor, should say.
There are some who say that by our trying to debate this time allocation motion we are delaying Bill 68. I say, good, because every day that we prevent this crummy legislation from becoming law we protect the rights of perhaps a few more innocent injured victims. What Bill 68 is all about is taking away rights from the people who are most vulnerable, taking away the rights of innocent injured victims to be compensated for their pain and suffering and their loss of enjoyment of life.
As I told you, Mr Speaker, people across Ontario -- it is a big province, is it not, Mr Speaker? -- are saying no to Bill 68. They are trying to get the message across to some of these thick-headed Liberals here that the people of this great province do not want Bill 68. They do not want to see the right of innocent injured victims to be compensated for pain and suffering stripped away from people here in Ontario.
People like Norman Biback do not want to see that. This was a fax message. He writes: “I have been watching you on television. I am very impressed with the way you are” -- he was being flattering there and I appreciate it, but my modesty prevents me from reading that. I appreciate the comments of Mr Biback.
Mr Kormos: Okay. The Liberals want to hear it. They have insisted. Mr Biback writes that he has been “very impressed with the way that you are presenting yourself. Just as a comment aside, if it were me, I would demand” – “demand” is underlined -- ”to know why my rights as a citizen are arbitrarily being taken away from me by a government that never raised this issue prior to the election.”
Interesting, is it not? Once again, that is why the Minister of Financial Institutions and that is why the Premier of this province and leader of that provincial Liberal Party do not want to see Bill 68 debated.
Mr Biback writes: “I wonder if the Liberals would be in power if they advised the people of this province that they were going to take away our basic given rights to take action against a person or persons that caused us damage. Keep up the good work.” Well, Mr Biback, you are right. The Liberals did not campaign on Bill 68. They did not campaign on threshold insurance. The Premier of Ontario promised in September 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums.
The Premier of Ontario promised three days before the general election in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums, and what do we get? We get premium increases of not just 50 per cent, but now almost one third of a million drivers in Ontario are going to be facing premium increases of up to 80 per cent.
How could the Premier promise that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums and yet produce legislation that is going to increase premiums by not just 50 per cent, but for a third of a million people in this province by as much as 80 per cent? How could the Premier do that?
I ask, more important, why would he do that? Why would he promise three days before the last general election that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums when all he has done is produce legislation that is going to create a billion dollar payday for the auto insurance industry?
It is going to take away the rights of at least 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims to be compensated for pain and suffering; it is going to take that right away. They will not even be able to think about being compensated, because what Bill 68 does, what this threshold system does that the Liberals are trying to impose on drivers, taxpayers and victims in Ontario, is that it makes it impossible for them to be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
What happens is that -- never mind the insurance company -- an injured person, a victim, cannot even look to the wrongdoer. This does not just protect the insurance company from paying compensation; it protects the wrongdoer from paying compensation, just as Bill 68 can sometimes treat a drunk driver with more compensation than the victim of that same drunk driver, just as Bill 68, this Liberal insurance scheme, can sometimes treat the car thief. Believe it or not, it can give the car thief more compensation than his or her victim lying in a pool of blood on the asphalt.
I had a hard time believing it myself until I read the legislation very carefully and until I listened carefully to the submissions of learned people appearing in front of the standing committee on general government. It is true. Bill 68 is structured and designed so that a drunk driver can, in more than a few instances, get more than his victim. Is that fair? Does that strike members as being fair? I think not.
These pages have been here for what, two days now? They know already that it is not fair. They know already that Bill 68 is not fair. It does not treat young people like them fairly. It does not treat them fairly at all. How come the Liberals cannot get the same message through their thick skulls?
J.T. Fidler from Toronto, again, faxes: “I have been following your arguments on the legislation this week and simply want you to know that I have great respect for the job you are doing and hope that you have the strength to continue for as long as it takes for the government to see the sense in your position.” Again, Mr Fidler is right.
Craig Brown, Toronto, I am following your valiant filibuster with interest and amazement.” I appreciated that. “Your strength of conviction is rare and commendable. Please keep up your good work, and bring the government to its knees. All my best wishes, now and in the future.”
Because of the stranglehold that the Liberals with their majority have imposed on the opposition, because of their closure motion, because of their disdain and disregard for longtime rules of procedure, the Liberals have been able to make it very difficult for the opposition to do its job here at Queen’s Park.
I appreciate Mr Brown’s message, and I apologize to Mr Brown because I am not sure, with the jackboot tactics of the Liberals here at Queen’s Park, that the opposition can by itself bring the government to its knees, but the voters of Ontario can.
I know that the Liberal backbenchers I have spoken with, who have concerns about this legislation, intend to absent themselves from the House when a vote is taken -- I have no control over these people who confide in me their concern about Bill 68, but I tell members this: I wish they would go one step farther and start joining the people in Ontario in speaking out against Bill 68, because it is a bad law. It is going to hurt good people. That is not what legislation should be about. Legislation should be about helping people, not hurting people. What Bill 68 is about is hurting people.
Mr Futerman sends a note, which is appreciated: “I want you to know that many of us who have watched you perform applaud your courage and your commitment to the people of this province. We are indeed proud of you. Keep up the good work.” Again, I appreciate that from Mr Futerman here in Toronto.
I do want you to know, Mr Speaker, as an illustration of how widespread the opposition is to Bill 68 and how important it is that we have a full debate and how important it is that we similarly defeat this time allocation motion, this effort on the part of the Liberals to censor, to muzzle, to gag the opposition, that in Waterloo on 25 April 1990 there is going lobe a rally at the Waterloo Inn, 475 King Street North, Waterloo, at 7 pm. Everyone is invited.
It is a function that is being sponsored by BATFIV -- Better Accident Treatment for Injured Victims in Ontario. Steve Crouse is the president of that organization, and he and his volunteers have organized what will be an impressive educational rally for people to learn all about Bill 68. As I say, that is just next week, 25 April in Waterloo at the Waterloo Inn, 475 King Street North.
The member for Leeds-Grenville, the Tory insurance critic, is going to be there speaking. Dr David Corey, a chronic pain specialist, Behavioural Health Clinic in Toronto, is going to be there speaking. Fred Sagel, a Kitchener-Waterloo lawyer, is going to be there to help people understand what Bill 68 is all about. Steve Crouse is going to be there. The emcee -- I have not met this man -- is going to be Kenny Hollis from Lulu’s. The member is familiar with Lulu’s in Kitchener-Waterloo, is he not? I am going to be there as well, as the New Democratic Party insurance critic.
“BATFIV is holding a rally to educate the people of Ontario about Bill 68, no-fault insurance. We would be very pleased if you could be one of our guest speakers. I have enclosed a flyer with the necessary information. A reply from you as soon as possible would be appreciated.” This BATFIV is not a partisan organization. There is no effort on their part to have this rally in Waterloo on the 25th -- when is that? Actually, that is a week from today. That is next Wednesday. I am last on the speaking list because it is around an hour’s drive from Queen’s Park to Waterloo. Once I get in the pickup truck and get to the 401, it takes no more than an hour. I am last on the list and there is plenty of time for me to get there. I just wonder, is the Minister of Financial Institutions going to accept the invitation or is the Minister of Financial Institutions afraid to debate Bill 68? I am looking forward to seeing whether or not the minister is there.
It makes me all that much more committed to fighting this bad legislation and fighting this time closure motion that the Liberals want to pass so that they can muzzle and smother the opposition. That is what the Liberal game plan is all about:
Chuck democracy out the window. The next step may well be to lock the doors of this assembly building. The next step on the part of the Liberals may be to simply lock the doors and send us home, because they do not have much respect for parliamentary tradition when they refuse to engage in open debate.
The Minister of Financial Institutions is prepared to take those principles, those traditions, those values and stomp them with the jackboots that he and every other Liberal member of this government wear when they approach things like Bill 68 with such an undemocratic perspective.
I have an interesting letter from London, Ontario from Ivan W. Kasiurak. He writes that he was watching TV. He indicates he is not a member of the New Democratic Party, but he is sure against Bill 68.
He writes: “I have been watching you fight with the Liberal bandits on Bill 68 and I would like to congratulate you. The Premier and Elston are giving the people of Ontario a lot of loving but no kissing. I would like to give you my experience with the auto insurance industry.”
Then he writes about one more horror story, one more of the many horror stories that we keep on hearing about the abysmal treatment of victims by the auto insurance industry in this province, the same auto insurance industry that is so cozy in bed with the Liberals of Queen’s Park, the same auto insurance industry that might as well have written Bill 68. What is remarkable is that Bill 68 gives the auto insurance industry more than even it dared ask for in its submissions to the Osborne inquiry.
Here is a horror story. Here is a frightening, tragic scenario and it comes to me from Thunder Bay in a letter dated 17 April 1990. It is about a lady there, Donna MacNeil. The letter is from her lawyers, Carrel and Partners, in Thunder Bay, a competent, good firm of good lawyers.
They write: “A client of mine, Donna MacNeil, has been watching your debate of the no-fault closure motion in the Legislature. I have been watching with some interest as well. Mrs MacNeil thanks you for the stand you are taking in the face of this sellout piece of legislation.” It is not the first time we have heard this, is it? That is what Mr Justice Haines said was going to be the clear impression on the part of the people in Ontario once the Liberals rammed Bill 68 through, and that was going to be that the people of Ontario, hard-working people, were sold out by the Liberals in favour of the auto insurance industry in Ontario.
So they write about the sellout piece of legislation that Bill 68 is. He writes further: “Mrs MacNeil appreciates the difficulties the consumer will be faced with when forced to deal directly with an insurer on no-fault.” This lawyer, Alex Demeo, writes that he represents Mrs MacNeil in a personal injury action. On 5 September 1988 she injured her back and neck. Her treating physicians are concerned about a possible thoracic outlet syndrome. Mrs MacNeil is a nurse and was working at the time of the accident. She has not worked as a nurse since. The pain, the discomfort, the disability that Mrs MacNeil suffers as a result of being a victim has prevented her from working since the date of this accident in September 1988. She has, Mr Demeo acknowledges, to a large extent recovered from her injuries but any attempts at the heavy work and lifting required of a hospital nurse result in a flare-up of her back pain.
Mrs MacNeil has been forced to change careers because of this. She has obtained employment as a bank teller, which pays approximately one half of what she had been able to earn as a nurse. Her no-fault insurer sent her a letter denying her further no-fault benefits. I enclose a copy of that letter. Shall I go to that? Because I would like to name the insurer. It is the Cooperators. That is some co-operation from the Co-operators, denying an injured victim what is rightly hers.
“Thank you for the information you were able to give me concerning your present employability status. It is my understanding that you are now working full time at the Royal Bank. Since you are no longer totally” -- underlined -- ”disabled within the meaning of the wording set out under the standard automobile policy, we are no longer responsible to continue making total disability payments to you.
That was really big of them. That was really big of Cooperators. Here is a lady who because of her injury is unable to work as a nurse. She takes employment as a bank teller at half the salary, because she does not want to be a malingerer. The reason she takes that employment is that she cannot do her job as a nurse. The physical effort is simply too demanding in view of the thoracic outlet syndrome that she suffers from.
Mr Demeo writes on: “The letter states that because Mrs MacNeil is no longer totally disabled, she is no longer entitled to benefits. The existing no-fault insurance” -- you see, there is absolutely nothing new about no-fault insurance here in Ontario. We have had no-fault benefits for well over a decade now. What is new about this legislation is the threshold, the provisions that deny innocent injured victims any compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life. That is what is special, that is what is unique, that is what is new in Bill 68.
“The letter states that because Mrs MacNeil is no longer totally disabled, she is no longer entitled to benefits. The existing no-fault insurance, however, provides that if she suffers substantial inability to perform the essential duties of her occupation, she is entitled to no-fault benefits. The policy goes on to provide that any income earned from other employment is deducted from the income used to calculate the no-fault benefit.”
It is a cruel game that Co-operators is playing with their insured. The policy says that if she suffers substantial inability to perform the essential duties of her occupation, she is entitled, but because she does not want to be an unproductive member, she is doing the very best she can. She took a job at half the salary because it is the only job she can do with her injuries.
“Mrs MacNeil is still entitled to benefits on any reasonable interpretation of the existing policy. Her insurer has required her to be totally disabled from any employment before continuing benefits. When I spoke with her, Mrs MacNeil had assumed that the insurers were right and was not thinking of questioning their denial of benefits.”
Mr Kormos: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I appreciate your assistance in getting Liberals in here so that they can listen to what is happening, so they can hear about what is happening across Ontario.
Let me tell members what Mr Demeo writes about Mrs MacNeil. Mr Demeo writes this: “Mrs MacNeil is still entitled to benefits on any reasonable interpretation of the existing policy. Her insurer has decided to require her to be totally disabled from any employment before continuing benefits. When I spoke with Mrs MacNeil, she had assumed that the insurance companies were right and was not thinking of questioning their denial of benefits. She was relying on their good faith.
“After I explained what the policy really said, Donna MacNeil has become more concerned than ever about what will happen to injured people left, by virtue of Bill 68, to deal directly with the auto insurance industry. If there is any way of stopping the ramming through of this legislation, it would certainly benefit the people of Ontario.”
We are not afraid to say, once again, that we are not beholden to the auto insurance industry the way the Liberals in Ontario are. We do not owe the auto insurance industry a darned thing, and it does not bother me to say that.
It does not bother me to tell you, Mr Speaker, that I am not here in this Legislature fighting so that the auto insurance industry can make bigger and better profits. I say that without hesitation, but I will sure fight to make sure that this legislation is not rammed through, because I am concerned. I am concerned about the drivers who are going to face premium increases if the Liberals have their way with Bill 68. I am concerned about the taxpayers who are going to be gouged to the tune of another $141 million to $143 million by virtue of the direct tax subsidies to the auto insurance industry that Bill 68 contains and I am concerned about the innocent injured victims who, if the member for Guelph has his way, are going to be denied compensation for pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life.
If the minister and his parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, have their way and Bill 68 passes, 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims are going to be denied compensation for their pain and suffering and for their loss of enjoyment of life. Is that fair, Mr Speaker?
It boggles the mind to think that the member for Guelph would associate himself with a scheme that will deny to innocent injured victims, to 95 per cent of them here in the province of Ontario, the right to be compensated for pain and suffering and for loss of enjoyment of life. It is a sad day.
Mr Speaker, I told you a little while ago about Fred Brown, who called me from Scarborough, and I told you Mr Brown expressed concern. He expressed the same concern as was expressed by Mr Justice Haines in his letter to the government back a couple of months ago, the one I referred to a few days ago. Mr Brown from Scarborough, 36 Tedford Drive, has remarkable insights into this whole scheme.
He is concerned about the effect on people travelling outside Ontario, driving their cars, let’s say, to Florida, as many seniors enjoy doing. That was raised in Windsor. The Liberals only let us sit for one day hearing people in Windsor because they knew the opposition to Bill 68 was so profound. The opposition to Bill 68 when the standing committee on general government sat, briefly as it did, was so great that the parliamentary assistant himself, the member for Guelph, said that the Liberals got hammered by the opposition during those hearings. That display of candour on the part of the member for Guelph was appreciated. It was a remarkable comment, yet it was oh, so true. They got hammered.
Windsor was one of the places where, because it was a border community, there was some concern expressed about the effect of Bill 68 on Ontario drivers travelling in other jurisdictions. This is the whole problem with the minister’s refusal to participate in those same hearings. Do not forget, the minister refused, he thumbed his nose at those people who would attend before that committee. He sent the parliamentary assistant. When the issue was raised in Windsor about out-of-province travelling, the parliamentary assistant as much as went, “Huh?” The government had never canvassed the issue with its own staff. The parliamentary assistant as much as shrugged and went, “Huh?” And I am sure I heard him whisper to one of the staff people, “What the heck are these people talking about?” That was the problem with not having the minister there.
Would the page take those over to the member for Dovercourt? One should not walk in front of the Speaker. That is it. The MPP for Dovercourt might spend his time more appropriately by doing some colouring. He should keep it inside the lines. The Crayolas are sharp, but he should not worry but be careful.
In any event, we were in Windsor. I knew that the Liberal mentality was pretty childish so I brought a couple more sets of colouring books and crayons. If any of them act up just point them out to us, Mr Speaker. We will send a page over with more colouring books and crayons for the infantile Liberals here. Lord knows, they are not interested in talking about Bill 68. Once again, as long as they do it neatly and stay inside the lines, it would seem that they might better spend their time doing some creative artwork. The Crayolas and colouring books are on me.
In Windsor, the concern was raised about out-of-province driving and the impact of this legislation on Ontarians who might drive in Michigan, who might drive in other provinces, who might drive in American jurisdictions. That is what Fred Brown called to ask me about this morning. That is where I agreed with Mr Brown that indeed it was important to be discussed. But that is why the Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier of Ontario do not want to have any debate before they ram Bill 68 through this Legislature, because concern about the out-of-province traveller --
Mr Ferraro: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would just like to say to the member opposite that we would love to have a debate if he would cease his verbal diarrhoea so that we would have the opportunity.
Mr Pouliot: I very rarely rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, but I am both appalled and shocked and somewhat offended by the language, the analogy, the parallel, which is without validity. I am shocked, and I would like the honourable member to withdraw his remarks. My God, this is not a pool hall.
The Acting Speaker: Are we ready? Can I proceed? The honourable member for Guelph has brought to all of our attention the length of time that the honourable member for Welland-Thorold is taking. He has used the kind of language that here I am, stuck with having to determine whether it is parliamentary or not. You know, a word –
Mr Kormos: I do not understand what all the hullabaloo is about. The comments of the member for Guelph, scatological as they were, did not cause any concern on my part. I do not expect anything more profound from him. Do not forget, I had to sit through three or four weeks -- that is all the Liberals would permit -- of standing committee on general government hearings about Bill 68. I had to sit through three or four weeks and I saw a lot of shrugging and head-scratching and a lot of feverish whispering on the part of the member for Guelph to the staff persons from the Ministry of Financial Institutions. Stuff like, “Could you spell that for me?” ‘Those are awful big words they’re using; do you think maybe you could write a précis later tonight?” So I am not concerned about the member for Guelph. I am concerned about his refusal to debate Bill 68.
All I need is a note from the Minister of Financial Institutions or from the Liberal House leader saying that he wants to stand up to withdraw this time allocation motion. That is all I want from them. I will sit down so we can start talking about Bill 68. You would be pleased about that, too, would you not, Mr Speaker? Here it is. How long now have we been discussing this time allocation motion? Three weeks now. Three weeks we have spent discussing a time allocation motion that was only just barely in order. Remember the agony of the Speaker when the Speaker had to rule on a point of order about this time allocation motion? Remember how the Speaker appeared to have approved the orderliness of the motion, but it seemed to me that it was only just barely? It was just barely.
The Liberals do not want to see Bill 68 discussed. They keep bringing motion after motion after motion. It is shameful. The sad thing is that the Minister of Financial Institutions is not here to participate even in his time allocation motion. He was not at the committee hearings to talk to people about Bill 68 then. He sent the member for Guelph and the member for Guelph did his very humble best, just as the member for Guelph does his humble best here in this Legislature now, trying as good as he can to deflect attention away from the real issues, because is that not what the Liberals here are all about: avoiding focusing on the real issues so that they can do their little smoke and mirrors, create those delusions and illusions with their legerdemain? But the problem is, it ain’t working any more. It does not fly. The people in Ontario are saying, “No-fault, no way, no thanks,” and “Dump Bill 68.” Is that the very best that the member for Guelph can do? Is that the very best? I know you are as disappointed as I am, Mr Speaker.
Fred Brown from Tedford Drive in Scarborough, as I told you, gave me a call this morning, and he was concerned about the out-of-province traveller. I told Mr Brown that we had talked about that a few days ago. He apologized for having missed an afternoon. I said: “Don’t worry about it. Call the Ministry of Financial Institutions. They may well be able to give you a video of the afternoons that you weren’t able to see. At the very least they’ll provide you with the Hansard transcript.”
Once again, I encourage every single person who is watching to write to the member for Guelph, and they should address their correspondence, because the member for Guelph is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, to: Member for Guelph, Queen’s Park, Legislative Building, Toronto, and ask the member for Guelph for a set of Hansard transcripts of this time allocation debate. They are free. The member for Guelph is virtually obligated to send them to you. It is his job. So write: Member for Guelph -- and again, I am not referring to the member when I say his name -- because when you write the correspondence it is nice to write a letter to Rick Ferraro, F-e-r-r-a-r-o, so write to: Rick Ferraro, F-e-r-r-a-r-o, Member for Guelph, or Rick Ferraro, F-e-r-r-a-r-o, MPP, Parliament Buildings, Queen’s Park, Toronto. Write to that member. And again, the more of you who do it, the more pleased he would be, I am sure, to respond to your correspondence. Write to that member for Guelph and ask for a transcript of the time allocation debate from 3 April to the present. It is free. It is one of the few free things that anybody could get nowadays. I know that the member for Guelph would be more than pleased to accommodate people across Ontario in their requests for Hansard transcripts of these time allocation debates commencing 3 April on through to the present.
I appreciate the opportunity to share that with you, Mr Speaker, and I am looking forward to people doing that. Now do not forget, as I told you earlier, people who want a “No-Fault, No Thanks” button should either phone my office here at Queen’s Park, area code 416, 965-7714, and ask for a no-fault button and we will send them a button as long as they last. Or those same people may want to call me here at Queen’s Park, area code 416, 965-7714, and ask for a copy of the FAIR tabloid, which has all the data, all the details of the overwhelming opposition there is in Ontario to Bill 68. It has got a list, as you can see, Mr Speaker, of the people who are for Bill 68 -- that is a very lonely spot, for Bill 68 -- that is the auto insurance industry, and then all those groups and organizations in Ontario who are opposed to Bill 68.
It is fascinating reading, including -- catch this: the people against Bill 68, the people who condemn this legislation -- the Sudbury Provincial Liberal Association, which has instructed its member to vote against Bill 68. The Sudbury East Provincial Liberal Association does not have a Liberal member. Of course not. Our member for Sudbury East has serviced her community, her riding, so well that the Liberal riding association in Sudbury East knows it has not got a snowball’s chance in Hades. The Sudbury East Provincial Liberal Association, notwithstanding that it does not have a Liberal elected and knowing full well that its NDP member for Sudbury East is going to do the right thing, calls upon all Liberal members to vote against Bill 68. All of them.
That is contained in this FAIR tabloid, so to people who phone or who write to me, Queen’s Park, Parliament Buildings, Toronto, and ask for the FAIR tabloid or for the no-fault button, I would be pleased to send these out promptly. I am pleased, as I told you, Mr Speaker, to have received all the phone calls and all the letters. I am thankful to the people for their encouragement, but I say this to them:
You know what side I am on. I am prepared to fight for the interests of hardworking people, for the interests of senior citizens. I am not here to protect the financial interests of the wealthy, powerful auto insurance industry like the Liberals are.
You know what is important, Mr Speaker? People across Ontario should be writing to the Premier, should be writing to their member, calling upon them to join this crusade against cruelly oppressive legislation, legislation that is going to cause premium increases of, now we know, not just 50 per cent, but up to 80 per cent. Almost a third of a million people in this province, once this legislation is rammed through, will face premium increases of as high as 80 per cent as a result of Bill 68. The rest of them will face premium increases of up to 50 per cent as a result of Bill 68.
Mr Ferraro: A point of order, Mr Speaker: It is painful enough to listen to this barrage, but I at least wish the member would be accurate. He is categorically, unequivocally wrong when he says the rest of the 6.2 million drivers will face increases of 50 per cent. He knows that is a lie, that it is wrong, and I wish he would correct the record.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Guelph: We have always gotten along. This is the second time you are making it awfully difficult for the Chair. If I remember under Erskine May, I only try to administer the rules of our standing orders. Notwithstanding one’s personal feelings, of course, one is not to call one’s colleague “a liar” or “has lied.” If I recall, the honourable member --
The Acting Speaker: Well, you almost speak like a lawyer. The honourable member for Welland-Thorold, the honourable member for Guelph has retracted his comment that you are lying, so might you continue on with your discussion?
Once again, this is all much ado about nothing. I do not mind if the member for Guelph makes comments like that. That is the best they can come up with, is it not? And that is pretty pathetic. We want to talk about Bill 68.
The people in Ontario know now that the Premier was less than complete in keeping his promise that he made back in 1987. He made a very specific promise that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums.
What would be interesting for people to do would be to let not only their own members know that they expect their own members to vote against Bill 68, but they should be ringing the -- It has been a long time since bells rang here, and I think we need a little more bell-ringing, only I want telephone bells to ring. So what I want people to do is to get on the phone and phone the member for Guelph. You can phone him at his constituency office, and that is area code 519, 836-4190. Now tomorrow I am going to give his home number, but you can phone the member for Guelph at area code 519, telephone number 836-4190.
Mr Kormos: Oh, call collect, by all means. Area code 519 again, because that is over in London. Call the Premier’s constituency office and call over and over again. Keep registering your opposition to Bill 68. Make those bells ring. So the Premier in London at his constituency office -- We are going to get to Queen’s Park offices in a few moments and home numbers are going to be tomorrow. The Premier of Ontario in London, area code 519, 433-6631. So people should be calling collect to let the Premier know that they do not like time allocation any more than the New Democrats do, and they think this is a crummy motion that should be defeated.
So you call the member for Guelph in Guelph and you call him at area code 519, 836-4190, and you call the Premier at his constituency office. Make those bells ring in London, area code 519, 433-6631. Call these people collect. The Premier of Ontario should be more than pleased to accept collect phone calls because the Premier certainly cannot expect people to fork out their own hard-earned money when the Premier should want to hear from them. Similarly, the member for Guelph, as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, makes extra salary. He is paid more than other Liberal backbenchers, and he similarly should be pleased to accept those collect phone calls.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: On the subject matter most relevant, of bells ringing, I note with regret again that out of a possibility of 94 members only 15 Liberal members are present. Therefore, may I respectfully draw your attention to the standing order regarding quorum?
We talked about the correspondence. We talked about the letter from Ivan Kasiurak in London. We are talking about the time allocation motion, an interesting motion that was moved the other day. Do members remember that one? It struck me as strange because this one sort of has been put off into abeyance. Why will the Liberal House leader not simply send a page over with a message that he is going to withdraw this motion so we can start talking about Bill 68? Why will he not simply do that?
In any event, there was a motion made on behalf of the Liberal House leader the other day that the daily hours of meeting of the House be extended from 6 pm to 12 midnight on each sessional day following the adoption of this order up to and including Thursday 3 May 1990. That motion is still being debated too.
See how thoroughly disinterested the Liberals are in talking about Bill 68? They want to clog up the process with all their motions. We were not even finished debating this crummy time allocation motion, and the Liberals moved yet another one. They will not even let us finish debating this because this is held in abeyance and they want to switch back to the time allocation motion. What gives, Mr Speaker? What kind of scam are the Liberals here at Queen’s Park running anyway?
I want to talk about a message I got from one Herb Alexander. He had visited his MPP, who happens to be the Minister of Health, right here at Queen’s Park. Mr Alexander wrote to the minister a letter confirming that meeting and thanking her for taking the time to see him. In that letter, dated 30 March 1990, confirming the meeting, he started out in his conversation with the minister by saying that he only wanted to present to her his thoughts on the government’s intended action regarding automobile insurance and that he did not expect the minister to defend the government’s position; he merely wanted to be heard out.
He writes in his letter confirming that meeting with the minister that the minister indeed made several statements. These were some of the comments that are representative of this government made to Mr Alexander. They betray the real lack of design on the part of the Liberals here at Queen’s Park and reveal why they are so thoroughly uninterested in debating Bill 68 but rather want to hide behind time allocation motions.
Mr Alexander writes in his confirming letter to the minister, a copy of which I am referring to now, with respect to the licensing of 16-year-olds. He has some concerns about the licensing of new young drivers here in the province of Ontario and their impact on collision rates, accidents and personal injuries. He writes in his confirming letter that when it came down to talking about 16-year-olds and the standards that were expected of them before they are put behind the wheels of 3,000- or 4,000-pound cars, the sense of the minister’s position was that all the other kids did it.
When Mr Alexander raised with the minister the arbitrary cutoff in the wage replacement scheme, which prohibits people from looking to the negligent party, the reckless party, the careless party, the drunk driver, prohibits innocent injured victims from looking to those wrongdoers for full wage compensation, he points out to the minister in his letter to her that she was silent on the point of those individuals who would be penalized by Bill 68.
When Mr Alexander raised Mr Justice Osborne’s inquiry with the Minister of Health, the member for Oriole, he writes in a confirming letter to her that the minister dismissed it as one person’s opinion. With respect to Quebec’s experience of greater claims following the introduction of no-fault, Mr Alexander’s member of this Legislative Assembly made no comment.
With respect to Mr Alexander’s understanding that premium claims are merely a symptom, that the real problem was bad driving, which results in claims which force up premiums, with that proposal, he writes, the minister boldly disagreed. With regard to the government having been in his words “bilked” by sharp practices relating to manipulative insurance premiums, Mr Alexander writes, the minister, his member of the provincial Legislature, had no comment.
Mr Alexander asked the minister in his letter confirming this meeting with her to note that he is not a member of any political party, that he is not a member of the legal profession. Indeed, you might enjoy this, Mr Speaker, Mr Alexander writes, “and just for the record, I am not a member of any political party.” In his view: “For all practical purposes, they are all the same. Nor am I in or near the legal profession.” He writes, “I firmly believe that a large part of the ills of society are due to there being too many lawyers in government, the dumb leading the blind.”
Then Mr Alexander, who clearly has no axe to grind, who has no agenda of his own, writes in his letter to the minister that he forgot to give her an opportunity to comment on the contribution to safer driving that will result from the government permitting larger and more frequent ads for alcoholic beverages. That is what happened just a couple of weeks ago, is it not? Just a couple of weeks ago, the Liberals here at Queen’s Park relaxed the guidelines for liquor advertising here in the province of Ontario, guidelines that really had been in effect for but a few short years.
Just as the Liberals are prepared to sell out the public of Ontario lock, stock and barrel in favour of the auto insurance industry, it seems that the strength, the power, the control of the liquor and beer industry in Ontario are sufficient that the interests of the public in Ontario will similarly be exchanged by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park for the financial welfare of those same liquor manufacturers.
Mr Brown, when he called me this morning, as I explained to you, expressed concern about the out-of-province motorist, that is to say, the driver who is an Ontario driver with Ontario plates and Ontario insurance, who, for instance, in the case of many seniors, wants to travel to Florida. Mr Brown expressed concern that that had not been discussed by us during the course of our discussions so far about this time allocation motion. I explained to him that we had, some days ago, when we were talking about Mr Justice Haines’s critique.
Just as Mr Demeo from Thunder Bay, in writing to us about Mrs MacNeil, the nurse who has been denied her no-fault benefits by her insurer -- as an aside, the Liberals here, the Minister of Financial Institutions and his parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, have been persistent in their claim that when you have first-party insurers, those insurers will treat their insureds oh, so much better, so they will not lose them as customers.
Well, the member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions might give Co-operators a call because it seems Co-operators has not got the message. It is their own insured, Mrs MacNeil, who is being treated so shabbily by Co-operators, her own insurer. And nothing is going to change, because insurance companies are still going to operate by the golden rule, and that is, when it comes to insurance companies, he who has the gold makes the rules.
The Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier of Ontario could not care less for the welfare and the wellbeing of drivers, innocent injured victims and taxpayers. Rather, they want to force legislation through this assembly which condemns those same taxpayers, innocent injured victims and drivers and generates profits never before dreamed of for the auto insurance industry. That is why they do not want to debate it.
Fred Brown this morning expressed concern, as a senior, about the impact of Bill 68 on seniors who are driving outside of Ontario, driving south, for instance. That is specifically a matter the Liberals have avoided in any of the discussions so far about Bill 68. They received the letter from Mr Justice Haines. The Minister of Financial Institutions got it back in the first week and a half of January 1990. Mr Justice Haines writes on page 6 of that letter that the “legislation ends car owner and occupant’s liability for actions brought in Ontario for bodily injury occurring anywhere in Canada and the United States.”
“You” -- as the minister -- ”must be aware that more than a million Ontarians travel by car to vacation 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. 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? 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? Are they to pay an additional premium for a protection which insurance policies currently” -- pre-Bill 68 -- “provide?”
Back in January 1990, this question was asked of the Minister of Financial Institutions. It was asked of the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, in Windsor. With a shrug and a “huh,” it was not responded to. The issue was not dealt with either in January or subsequent to that in Windsor. The Liberals do not want to have to respond at all because that is what time allocation is all about. It is about the Liberals not having to participate in a debate about those most important issues; about the Liberals running from debate; about the Liberals running from the reality of their legislation; about the Liberals wanting to use their majority to override some long-standing rules of procedure.
It is just not fair, is it? It is not fair to the people of Ontario, never mind to the members of the opposition. It is not fair to the drivers in Ontario who are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent, and in the instance of almost a third of a million, premium increases of up to 80 per cent. It is not fair to the taxpayers who are going to be gouged to the tune of another $141 million, $142 million or perhaps $143 million in the first year alone, so that these Liberals can subsidize their friends in the insurance industry. It is not fair to the taxpayers and it is not fair to the innocent injured victims.
It is not fair to the innocent injured victims of the drunks, the careless drivers, the reckless drivers and the negligent drivers, the innocent injured victims, 95 per cent of whom will be denied any compensation, will not receive a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life.
It is not just unfair to the opposition. Were it only us, perhaps the argument could not be made as strongly. More important, it is not fair to the drivers of Ontario, it is not fair to the taxpayers of Ontario and it is not fair to the innocent injured victims.
Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, we are eager to debate these issues. We are eager to see a full discussion of Bill 68. We in the New Democratic Party are eager to have an opportunity to question the Minister of Financial Institutions about the impact of Bill 68 on drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims.
We simply do not find it acceptable that 95 per cent of innocent injured victims will be denied any compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. We simply do not find it acceptable that those same people will be denied access to a courtroom to enforce those rights.
Quite frankly, the insurance industry is the party with the greatest interest in making sure that people do not have, that innocent injured victims do not have, legal representation. The insurance industry would like very much to deal directly with those victims, just as Co-operators wants to deal directly with Mrs MacNeil up in Thunder Bay. Look what happened to her, Mr Speaker. Her no-fault benefits were denied arbitrarily. She was stripped of that right by her own insurer whom she took at face value initially, whom she listened to in good faith.
I am disappointed. I have a note here from my office up in the north wing indicating that we have had 30 calls in the last 48 minutes, 30 telephone calls of support for our position on this issue, and that neither the Premier’s office nor the parliamentary assistant’s office is accepting collect phone calls. I’ll be darned. The Premier of Ontario and the member for Guelph, it appears, are not interested in listening to the people of Ontario, people in Ontario who would take the time to attempt to communicate to people who are having a significant effect on their lives, the lives of their children, the lives of their grandchildren, by virtue of Bill 68. The Premier and the parliamentary assistant, the member for Guelph, do not want to accept phone calls from those people who take the time and the interest to let them know that Bill 68, in the eyes of the public of Ontario, simply will not fly.
I thank those people. Again, I think this is important. It is important to note the attention that is being paid to this issue across the province, because this is such a contentious piece of legislation and one about which the public in Ontario has had no hesitation in expressing its strong disapproval. It surely warrants lengthier and more thorough debate than what the Liberals are prepared to give it in two scant afternoons for the purpose of committee of the whole House.
The fact that people are using their phones should be something of a premonition because those same people, you can bet your boots, Mr Speaker, are going to be prepared to use their ballots come a general election. Again, it would be so simple for the government to show the courage that it has lacked so far and say, “Okay, let’s have an election in Ontario and let Bill 68 be one of the issues.” We are talking about a government which shows disdain for the public in Ontario, disdain for the rules of this House.
Mr Kormos: Perhaps a page could come up here. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is acting childish. Perhaps he ought to have a colouring book and some crayons. Would the page take that over to the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere? He wants to do some colouring.
Talking about the regulations to Bill 68, in particular I have been provided with two editions of the same section 14 of those regulations. The notation is attached to the original and current versions of section 14 of the regulations. Section 14 created the obligation on the insurers to pay weekly benefits regardless of any dispute over entitlement. It sounded straightforward enough, did it not? It was a much-touted cornerstone of the legislation that this would force the payment of benefits and deal with the sharp criticism of the current system levelled by Mr Justice Osborne. That is the report that the Liberals refused to read.
Listen carefully to this one, Mr Speaker. This one will curl your hair. The Liberals have quietly scrapped a cornerstone of the plan. The obligation to pay pending dispute resolution is gone. Remember I talked about legerdemain a few moments ago? Here it is again. It is, “Now you see it, now you don’t”; a little bit of the old pea-and-shell game again. The Liberals have quietly scrapped what they touted as a cornerstone of the plan. The obligation to pay pending dispute resolution is gone.
That is exactly why the Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier do not want to have a debate about Bill 68. It is exactly why the member for Guelph does not want to engage in a debate about Bill 68. They want to keep on playing their little pea-and-shell game. The problem with that position, though, is that the public in Ontario has had it. The public in Ontario is as mad as hell and just will not take it any more.
I am so disappointed that the Premier, at his constituency office, will not accept people’s phone calls; I am so disappointed that the member for Guelph, at his constituency office, according to the information I have just received, will not accept collect phone calls. He wants to gouge the public in Ontario one more time. Perhaps they would like to call the Premier here at Queen’s Park.
Mr Kormos: I want to hear some bell-ringing around here again, I want to hear the bells ring, so if people would like to call the Premier’s office here at Queen’s Park to let him and his staff know what they think of Bill 68, they can do it by calling 965-1941. Of course, it is in Toronto so it is area code 416. I can hear the phone ringing now. It is remarkable. We want to hear that phone ring and ring. I want the Premier’s staff to be answering that phone just every second of the working day. The Premier may not want to accept collect calls at his constituency office, but we are talking about a big province.
I think people from across the north should be calling the Premier’s office collect. I think the people from northern Ontario should be phoning the Premier here at Queen’s Park. It is area code 416 and the number is 965-1941. So I think people from the Timmins area, right here, should get on their phones and call collect to the Premier of Ontario here at Queen’s Park by calling 416-965-1941, making those bells ring in a way that makes us all a little bit nostalgic. The Liberals with their arrogant majority can take away the rights of the opposition, but they cannot take away the rights of the public of Ontario to pester the daylights out of the Premier of the province, to pester the daylights out of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, the member for Guelph, to pester the daylights out of the Minister of Financial Institutions and to let those actors know that the people in Ontario just will not tolerate Bill 68.
Down in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula, in Welland-Thorold, people down there know what Bill 68 is all about. It is all about real bad legislation. It is all about legislation that is going to make drivers in Ontario pay premium increases of as much as 50 per cent and, for a third of a million of the drivers in Ontario, by up to 80 per cent. People from Welland-Thorold know that is not the fulfilment of the promise that the Premier made back in 1987.
Members know the promise, right, the big promise, the big Premier Peterson promise? That is that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. The people down in Welland-Thorold waited and waited. They waited and they waited for that very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. What did they get? They are getting Bill 68. They are getting a scheme that is going to jack up premiums, for at least a third of a million drivers here in the province of Ontario, by up to 80 per cent and for the rest of them by as much as 50 per cent. Do members call that a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums? I call it bullfeathers.
Mr Kormos: You bet your boots it is, Mr Speaker, and let me tell you this: It is exactly because of the failure to keep that promise that the Premier, the Minister of Financial Institutions and the member for Guelph want to impose this time allocation on us. It is because of the Premier’s inability, his refusal, to keep his promise that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. It is very much because of that that the Premier does not want to see full debate about Bill 68. That is a promise that was not kept, and it is a promise by the Premier that has been characterized in a number of ways by a number of people. There are people here in the Legislature who have been here a lot longer than I have, Mr Speaker, who recall the litany of broken promises, and I know you remember them too.
Mr Speaker, you know that one of the things we have done in the course of this discussion is to talk about how important it is to people across Ontario. These are the messages that we have received here at Queen’s Park in the last hour. The message I got was, “Phone’s ringing off the hook.” That is fine, I do not mind talking to the people of Ontario; we in the New Democratic Party are pleased to hear from the people of Ontario.
Mr Kormos: Some of those same people who feel comfortable calling New Democrats, because they know that New Democrats will listen, I want those same people to try calling the Premier’s office. Please, right now. Area code 416, 965-1941. You call and, if you are from out of Toronto, you call collect.
By gosh, if you are from Orillia, you call collect to the Premier of Ontario, right here at Queen’s Park, right now this afternoon. You call 416 -- that is the area code -- and then the Premier’s number is 965-1941. Because hearing those bells ring is going to be a nostalgic moment for all of us. So I want people, the good people who called and left messages at my office, to call the Premier. Area code 416, 965-1941. And call collect if you are out of town.
Listen, those same people should not take any guff from the staff. The Premier is here this afternoon, I am sure of it. I am pretty sure he is right here. So they should not take any excuses about the Premier being busy, about the Premier being unavailable. If somebody says the Premier is out to lunch, that you can believe. But other than that, the people who call the Premier at 965-1941, you get to talk to the Premier personally. He is your Premier and you get to tell him personally what you think of him and the Liberals and Bill 68, and what you think of the Liberals trying to muzzle democracy here at Queen’s Park.
Mr Kormos: Quite right. If the Premier is in a meeting, it is undoubtedly with the board of directors of any number of auto insurance companies here in the province of Ontario which are pulling his strings again.
Mr Callahan: I thank the member. Not only does it offend the rules; it demeans the member in making those statements in this House, any honourable members of this House. I would ask you, as Speaker, to rule that he desist and not do that again.
One of the considerations that we have always had during the course of this discussion is the significance of Bill 68 to the people in Ontario. That is surely a consideration that has to be made about whether or not time allocation is appropriate, and that is what we are talking about now. Let me give an example of the type of attention that is being paid to this, that cries out for full debate.
Matt Napier from Curry Avenue in Windsor called in. He is not in a New Democrat’s riding. He is in a Liberal cabinet minister’s riding, but he says he will never vote Liberal again. He wants a flyer and a button and he is going to get them.
Joseph Camilleri from Brampton phoned in. He has never done it before but he says this time, because of the auto insurance legislation, he is voting NDP, and as far as he knows, his wife and his kids are voting NDP too. So Joseph Camilleri from Brampton is paying attention and this issue is significant to him and his family.
Beverly Brown from Pelham Avenue in Toronto: Mrs Brown phones in and she says Bill 68 scares her and her family to death, with the danger it poses for drivers and taxpayers and innocent injured victims. So Beverly Brown wants a button and a flyer and she is going to get a “No-fault, No Thanks” button. She is also going to get the FAIR tabloid, the one that outlines the results of the survey that the Committee for Fair Action in Insurance Reform undertook here in the province of Ontario, which showed that the vast majority of people in Ontario oppose Bill 68.
Vince Farrow phones from Owen Sound. He says he has been watching for three weeks. He has been watching since 3 April, the beginning of this time allocation debate. He wants a button and a flyer, and he is going to get one. He encourages us to keep on fighting this bad legislation. Well, thank you, Mr Farrow in Owen Sound.
People are paying attention out there. They want to see Bill 68 debated. They want to see questions put to the Minister of Financial Institutions. They want to see him accept responsibility for the havoc that Bill 68 is going to wreak on drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims.
Here is a call from B. Showers in Paris, Ontario. He phones in with support for what we are doing in the opposition. He asked, “Do Liberal members not have families who are going to be subjected to Bill 68 also?” He is worried about the impact of an out-of-jurisdiction accident, just like Fred Brown was from Scarborough, just like Mr Demeo, the lawyer from Thunder Bay, just like Mr Justice Haines was back in his 8 January 1990 letter to the Minister of Financial Institutions. To B. Showers from Paris, again, thank you.
Gary Cockram from Kitchener phones. He totally disagrees with the inability to sue, with the denial of the right to use the courts to obtain relief. He questions, “Isn’t it unconstitutional?” Well, Mr Cockram from Kitchener knows that a whole lot of very competent lawyers and legal minds have already warned the Premier of this province and his Minister of Financial Institutions, and they have warned the Liberal House leader, about the prospect of constitutional challenges to the threshold, and again, the pain and expense that is going to create for so many people.
All I ask is that these same people phone the Premier of Ontario right here at Queen’s Park at 965-1941, area code 416, because that is in Toronto at Queen’s Park; 965-1941. Call collect if you are outside Toronto. It is the Premier of Ontario. Surely the Premier of Ontario would want to hear your views about Bill 68. Is that not fair, Mr Speaker?
Gregory Ellwood from Windsor called in. He said everyone he talks to is opposed to Bill 68. He does not like the closure motion and no-fault. He does not like that at all. Greg Ellwood from Windsor knows what the Liberals are doing here at Queen’s Park is undemocratic, and the message he has given is that this closure motion has got to be defeated or withdrawn by the Liberal House leader, so that we can start talking about Bill 68.
Volkmar Schedereit from Shaughnessy Boulevard in Willowdale. He knows that among other people, people in the cab industry are going to pay dearly. He says that what we are doing in the opposition, trying to defeat Bill 68, is fantastic and that we should be doing it all the way, as far as we can.
Mrs Enid Parks from Briar Hill Avenue in Toronto: She does not drive but she is scared out of her wits by Bill 68 anyway. She knows that even though she does not drive she is going to pay as a taxpayer, that she is going to pay to subsidize with taxpayers’ money a very powerful and wealthy auto insurance industry. She knows that even though she is not a driver she could become an innocent victim, and that as an innocent victim she could well be among those 95 per cent of all innocent victims who are being deprived of their right to be compensated for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. So Mrs Enid Parks wants a FAIR tabloid and a button. She is going to get it, and thank you very much.
These are real people, real Ontarians with real things to say, and this Liberal government is not interested in listening to them. This Liberal government is more interested in selling these people out so that the auto insurance industry in Ontario can become more profitable than it has ever dared dream of.
That is what these Liberals are all about, but these good people are listening and these good people are phoning the Premier’s office right now at 965-1941, right here at Queen’s Park. The ones who do not live in Toronto are calling collect, as they should. They are not taking any guff from the Premier’s staff. They want to talk to their Premier personally.
Mr Kormos: All these people have my phone number. I gave it earlier today because I want these people to call, and I want them to call the Premier of Ontario. The people who want a FAIR tabloid or a “No-fault, No Thanks” button -- until we are out of them; they are going fast. We will give them while they last, and the FAIR tabloids. I want these people to call me here at Queen’s Park at 965-7714, and right after they call me I want them to call the Premier’s office. I want them to call Premier, the leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario at 965-1941 and let the Premier know what they think of Bill 68.
Larry Stirling from Moy Avenue, Windsor, phones and says, “Keep up the good work.” He knows Bill 68 should be defeated, and I will bet you dollars to doughnuts right now, Mr Speaker, that people like Mr Stirling are not going to vote for members of a Legislative Assembly who would support Bill 68. I could tell you that right now.
John Thomas phones in from Wiarton and he makes note of the fact that his member is the Minister of Financial Institutions. Well, John Thomas is not very happy at all. John Thomas from Wiarton ain’t very happy at all about what his member, the Minister of Financial Institutions, is doing to him, other taxpayers, drivers and innocent injured victims here in the province of Ontario.
Robert and Dinah Dickie from Brownlow Avenue in Toronto: This is why we need full debate on Bill 68. This is why this closure motion is just unacceptable to any fairminded person. Mr and Mrs Dickie phone that they have been insured for 35 years and never had an accident. Mr Dickie, now 53, has been with Co-operators. Once again, Co-operators: Remember what they did to Mrs MacNeil up in Thunder Bay? Well, they are doing it to Mr Dickie right here in Toronto. He has been with Co-operators for six years.
His insurance is being increased to $2,500 a year, a 500 per cent or 600 per cent increase. It is $2,500 a year. The man has never had an accident and has been insured for 35 years. That is exactly why we have to have full debate about Bill 68 and that is exactly why the Liberals want to run from any debate about Bill 68. That is pretty damnably pathetic
Mr Kormos: C. Sharpe from Oakglade Crescent in Mississauga phones in; again, is opposed to Bill 68 and wants a FAIR tabloid and a “No-fault, No Thanks” button. C. Sharpe is going to get the tabloid and is going to get the button.
Yvonne Pennington phoned and said: “Good job. Keep going. Keep fighting.” What she says about the Liberal members here I am not going to repeat in the Legislature because it is, quite frankly, the sort of thing that these youngsters, the pages, should not have to hear at their tender age.
Mr Kormos: Carolyn Martin from Eva Road in Etobicoke admires what the opposition is doing about Bill 68. Oh, these are sisters; I bet they are sisters. Here is Magdelina Martin from Eva Road, and yes, same address, and Carolyn Martin. You are both going to get buttons and thank you very much for paying attention. It is people like you who really are the people who safeguard democracy. It is people like you who are going to tell these Liberals that their jackboot tactics, their attempt to muzzle the opposition -- it is people like you, Carolyn and Magdelina Martin, who are going to tell these Liberals during the next general election that you, like thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of others here in the province of Ontario, are not going to put up with that. I tell the Liberals that.
F. M. Windatt from Fenelon Falls called in, once again, to join those thousands and hundreds of thousands of others who say no to Bill 68. F. M. Windatt wants a button and a flyer. Mr Windatt will get a button and a flyer.
Dan Culhane from Linwell Road in St Catharines calls up and says the opposition is doing a good job. Thank you very much to Dan Culhane. More important, are the Liberals listening? People across Ontario are saying no to the closure motion. It is a big province. People across Ontario are saying no to Bill 68. You know what, Mr Speaker? The Liberals are so beholden to the auto insurance industry, they are so deep under the covers with the auto insurance industry --
Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member for Welland-Thorold I think has indicated something which is not true. He says his colleagues support him, but I do not see any of them in the House in support of him.
Mr Kormos: That warrants some explanation. I appreciate that member for bringing it up. My colleagues are answering the phones in my office. These are people who cannot get through to the Premier’s office because the Premier is not taking calls.
Mr Kormos: Well, we have a number of lines and a number of phones. Sadly, my colleagues, who I trust feel quite comfortable with me carrying this stage of the debate, are busy in my office up in the north wing answering those calls. People out there have got to lean on the Premier a little bit. People out there who are listening who call the Premier at 965-1941 have got to be persistent. If they are told that the Premier is not available for them one minute, they call back again. That is what they have to do; 965-1941.
If the Premier is unavailable to them, maybe they should ask for the House leader or the whip. You know, the siblings grim? If the Premier is not available to them, these people have got a right to say: “What is going on in this province? Are the only people who can get through on the Premier’s telephone line executives from the auto insurance industry? The real people in Ontario cannot.” Do members want to know something else? Drivers can vote; insurance companies cannot. The Liberals are going to learn that lesson real well come the next general election.
Lionel Deveau from Sentinel Road in Downsview calls in. That is up near York University where I spent a good chunk of time. The first time I ever graduated from a school. High school and I did not get along too well, but university and I got along just fine. So I am familiar with the area of Sentinel Road in Downsview. Lionel Deveau calls up to say we are doing a good job. Thank you very much. It is only fair that these people receive some recognition for their contribution. He says, “Keep it up.” I tell Mr Deveau we are going to do our very best to make sure that this crummy legislation is defeated.
Fern Pereira from Aylmer Avenue in Ottawa phones this afternoon and says that what we are doing is very admirable. “Keep up the good work.” Fern Pereira is 27 years old and is wondering how Bill 68 is going to affect his insurance rates when they come up for renewal. Well, the sad message to Fern Pereira, to this 27-year-old person in Ottawa, is that he risks being among those third of a million people who are going to face premium increases of up to 80 per cent once Bill 68 becomes law if these Liberals ram it through.
Almost a third of a million people, a third of a million drivers here in the province of Ontario are going to suffer premium increases of up to 80 per cent if Bill 68 gets passed. That is number one. Number two, the rest of the drivers in Ontario are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent. The Minister of Financial Institutions promised them that a few weeks ago, and that is one promise that minister is going to keep.
So to Fern Pereira, I tell him that Bill 68 means this to him, my friend, as a 27-year-old driver: He is going to pay higher and higher premiums. He is going to pay more and more taxes, and if he ever suffers as an innocent injured victim, he will probably fall into that 95 per cent of them who will not receive a single penny in compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Suzanne Philip is a 46-year-old teacher at Humber College -- and she does not look it, I tell you. Her husband sent me a message that says, “Suzanne says keep up the fight. We are behind you all the way.” To Suzanne Philip, I thank her and I quite frankly thank her husband. She wants a “No-Fault, No Thanks” button. We will make sure she gets one. I know just who to give it to, to make sure that he takes it to her.
Here is an interesting letter we just got on the fax. The page brought it to me: “18 April 1990. Dear Mr Kormos” -- once again, Mr Speaker, it is important to refer to these messages to understand the scope of Bill 68 and how many people it impacts on, but some of the comments again embarrass me because of my modest nature.
“You are to be admired for your courage before the Legislature. Your addresses and your strategies have been brilliant. The people of Ontario will be grateful if you are able to defeat the machiavellian legislation proposed in Bill 68. There is a large segment of the population which understands that the government has not been truthful with regard to the proposed legislation; has, by the sin of omission, been guilty of misrepresentation; has failed to acknowledge the windfall to the insurance companies and the increased cost to government and the taxpayers which the proposed legislation will entail.
“It was merely yesterday that I read in the newspaper that Mr Peterson has stated that the proposed legislation has fulfilled his promise, made at the time of the last election, that he had a plan to reduce insurance premiums.”
How could the Premier say that? How could the Premier say that Bill 68, which is going to promise premium increases of up to 50 per cent for most drivers and, for a third of a million drivers, premium increases of up to 80 per cent, fulfils his promise to provide a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums? Somebody’s nose is growing. How can the Premier say that? How can his Liberal caucus let him say those sorts of things?
“If he had a plan, why did he have the hearings? Was this all a sham at the taxpayers’ expense, or did he not have a plan at all? Were the committee hearings also a sham? Keep up the fight. If it were not for members such as yourself, the legislative process would be in even greater distress than it is today.”
That is from Mr Levinter. Again, I thank Mr Levinter for taking the time to send that. I appreciate the encouragement. I tell people it is important to this debate about closure that they reveal, that they display to this assembly how significant Bill 68 is for every person in the province. It is important, when we are talking about this closure motion, that people in Ontario make their voices heard and they let the members of this assembly know that closure motions are unacceptable because the significance of Bill 68 is just too great.
There are a few more messages. T. Friend -- what a great name -- from Glengany Avenue in Toronto, phones in and says no to Bill 68 and wants a FAIR tabloid. Mr or Ms Friend, whichever, sir or madam, T. Friend is going to get a FAIR tabloid. Again, I thank T. Friend from Glengarry Avenue in Toronto for phoning in.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I tell you, your job and your task is not an easy one. I admire the Speaker and I think it is timely that we pay tribute to you for your patience and your tolerance with some very rude and dumb members of the Liberal caucus. They have tested your patience, I know that, but you have conducted yourself admirably and I admire you.
If members of the Liberal caucus, those members who insist on following the insurance companies’ orders, had some of your character, some of your integrity and some of your ability to analyse issues, we would not have to be arguing this debate right now. Thank you. I respect you and admire you and I have an affection for you that it is important to express. I share that with you, Mr Speaker, respect and affection.
Mr Kormos: Of course, sir. Thank you. But H. Harrison from Downsview agrees with everything we are saying. He is a senior citizen. He just experienced a 23 per cent increase in premiums. So much for the Liberal freeze and the Liberal cap. That meant diddly-squat in the real world. The insurance companies spent no more than a day figuring out how to weave around that little so-called restriction. The Liberals’ regulatory process has about as much teeth as my old toothless beagle, Charlie, who is risking being neutered, as the members well know.
Mr Harrison admits that he voted Liberal before but he is disgusted with this government. I have a feeling that some Liberal candidate up in Downsview is going to be hard-pressed to get Mr Harrison’s support next general election. Do the members not think so? I bet them. They better believe it.
Connie White from Cobalt, Ontario phones in, “Keep up the good work.” She admires what the opposition is doing. She says, “The Liberals are walking all over the citizens of Ontario.” Ms White should call the Premier’s office at (416)965-1941. Connie White from Cobalt and others like her should call collect and should not take any guff from the Premier’s staff. Darn it, he is their Premier.
He is the one who got us into this mess. He should be prepared to talk to these people himself, with none of this special assistant, this secretary, this “my colleague” stuff. The Premier himself should be talking to these people, because they have something to say to the Premier of Ontario and, darn it, he had better listen, Mr Speaker. I will tell you that because he spent enough time listening to the auto insurance companies, did he not?
He has done their bidding for too long. The Premier of Ontario had better start listening to the people of Ontario or he had better start thinking about retirement plans himself. That is it in a nutshell.
Emmerson Greer from Sarnia congratulates the opposition on our role in Bill 68. He does not believe in any of the Premier’s promises. He says, “The Liberal government is nothing but” -- could I have a page, please?
Would the page show the Speaker that -- I am not sure whether I should say what is written there -- just so he can vet it for me and see what that fine man from Sarnia has to say about this Liberal government.
Mr Kormos: Oh, my. There you go, Mr Speaker. Perhaps I could have that back now from the page. Fine, I will not read the complete message. But let me tell you what Emmerson Greer from Sarnia -- what he writes here we agree with entirely.
Mr Kormos: There are some Liberal members who are getting frenetic. They have every good reason to be upset. They have sold out the drivers, the taxpayers and the injured victims of Ontario in favour of the insurance companies.
Mr Kormos: They think they have friends in the insurance companies. The insurance companies will throw these crumbs to the dogs quick as a boo. Some day during the course of this discussion we have to chart out which of these Liberal members ain’t coming back here and which are, because we are talking about a good 25 or 30 who are goners come the next general election, just no two ways about it.
In any event, the time allocation motion is what we are talking about. People like Neil Maycock from Bowmanville think the opposition is doing a magnificent job. He supports the opposition. Neil Maycock in Bowmanville says no to Bill 68. These Liberals are ready to do the bidding of the insurance industry. They are ready to listen to the insurance industry.
If people, when they called the Premier’s number, 965-1941. told the receptionist that they were from the Co-operators or Allstate or any other number of auto insurance companies, I bet they would get put through right away. Some people should try that just as a little bit of an experiment, because I bet if the president of Allstate calls the Premier’s office, the Premier is on that phone quick as a boo. It would be an interesting experiment.
Ross Battle, 17 McNaughton Road in Welland, wants a button and a flyer and he says no way to no-fault. I tell him, I appreciate his calling and look forward to the next time we have an opportunity to chat.
Frank Spry from Windsor needs 30 buttons and 30 flyers. I am sorry. Mr Spry surely has to understand that we are running short on buttons. We will get him as many as we can, but Frank Spry from Windsor says no way to no-fault.
Mr Kormos: What a remarkable display we have had this afternoon of the unwillingness of the Liberals to hear from the people of Ontario. It is not hyperbole when I suggest to the House that the next thing for these Liberals to do may be just to lock the doors and not bother using this chamber any more at all. The Liberals’ disdain and disrespect for democracy is no longer subtle; it has reached high, new proportions. We will have to see what the Premier, at 965-1941, might say about that. Again, people should be calling him collect.
Anyway, Ron Broughton in Welland, I appreciate your comments. We will give you a flyer and a button. To Ron Broughton we say, “Take care,” and we thank him, like so many thousands and thousands of other people, for paying attention. Max Murray, from Danforth Avenue in Toronto, says no way to the Liberals’ Bill 68. He has had it. He does not want a government that will sell him out in favour of the auto insurance industry.
Here is the last phone message I have right now. I do not know whether my office will have a chance to bring more down or not. but Mr Heads, an insurance broker here in Toronto, says that Bill 68 is only about making more money for the insurance industry.
Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Could I inquire under the rules what this has to do with the motion that is presently before this House? Perhaps in fairness we should ask the people of this province to call Mr Kormos collect at 732-6884 or fax 732-9782 and see if he takes collect calls.
Mr Kormos: Of course, Mr Speaker. That is exactly what we are doing. It is worthy of remark to point out that once again we have really got the Liberals going this afternoon. These guys are just hopping. These guys are as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.
Do you know what happened, Mr Speaker? Some of these Liberals, the ones who can read, read their newspapers this morning, and in at least one of those newspaper articles was a suggestion that maybe our participation in this debate was going to end today. The surprise is this: No, our participation in this debate is not going to end today and it ain’t going to end tomorrow, so members should stick around. There is a whole lot more to talk about before we are finished this debate about this crummy motion, about muzzling the opposition, about marching jackboots through Queen’s Park, about showing disdain for the rights of people across Ontario.
One of the considerations in talking about the time allocation motion is the significance it has to people across the province. That is to say that a trivial matter would not require -- here are some more phone messages. Mr Heads is an insurance broker here in Toronto. He thinks Bill 68 is a dumb proposal too, because he knows that it has nothing to do with fairness and that all it has to do with is more and bigger profits for the auto insurance industry.
Insurance brokers are really special people. They perform a difficult task at the best of times, because they are as much victims of the insurance industry as anybody else is. That is why later on during the course of this debate, when we talk about how public, driver-owned, non-profit auto insurance, like in British Columbia, could address some of the real issues here in the province about the crisis in insurance, we are going to talk about how brokers fare in that sort of system and how welcome brokers are in a public scheme.
Mr Kormos: Flora LeMire from Park Lane in Kincardine called in to say no to no-fault. She said she used to be a Liberal but she will not vote Liberal again, not after she has seen this display by these Liberals. The sad thing is that her daughter, her little girl Delage, was five years old when she was struck as an innocent injured victim by a driver last summer in the park.
Her daughter, with a fracture in the right foot, had to be inactive for a year. That little girl would not receive a penny; if Bill 68 were passed, Flora Lemire’s daughter in Kincardine, that little girl, that innocent five-year-old victim struck by a negligent driver, with a fractured foot, would not receive a penny.
Mr Kormos: He is a student. He says no to Bill 68, and because of our opposition to Bill 68 he is going to be voting NDP for the first time. I tell Brant Fudge in Downsview that we are not afraid to talk to people like you and your friends and other students and seniors and workers and small business people. We are not afraid to listen to those constituents across Ontario.
Gord Bowes from Palmer Road in Belleville phoned in with his support. His mother lives in Welland. It is good to hear, of course, from Gord Bowes in Belleville. I appreciate his attention. That illustrates how widespread the concern is about this time allocation motion. These people are crying out for a debate, for a complete, thorough debate.
George Brown in Toronto, from Pelham Avenue, is another one of those thousands and thousands, tens and hundreds of thousands of people across Ontario who phoned in to say that he agrees with what the opposition is doing. He says no to Bill 68, no to the Liberal’s auto insurance scheme.
Mr Callahan: The standing order is 23(b)(i). If the member continues to direct his speech to other than the motion before the House, I would like, as I am sure other members of the House would like, to see those pink slips, so that we can return the calls if the member is not going to return them. We would like to see them. I think the House has a right under Beauchesne’s rulings to have every piece of paper that is supplied by a member in this House.
Mr Kormos: Once again, we are getting close here. I am just overwhelmed by the response of the Liberal members. You know, Mr Speaker, it is important to know -- once again, that is why I am reading these messages -- how widespread the concern is about Bill 68 and the time allocation motion.
The member for -- I keep forgetting his riding because, after all, he does not speak that much in the Legislature -- the member for Brampton South is just the sort of person who does not make much of an impact on the Legislature. In any event, people like George Brown in Toronto, Robert and Dinah Dickie in Toronto, Leon Stickle in Mount Forest, John Thomas in Wiarton, Larry Stirling in Windsor, Charles Crump in Pickering, Enid Parks in Toronto, Volkmar Schedereit in Willowdale –
Mr Kormos: Gary Cockram in Kitchener, B. Showers in Paris, Eleanor Tremblay in Toronto, Vince Farrow in Owen Sound, Beverly Brown in Toronto, Joseph Camilleri in Brampton. These are not fictitious people. These are real people in the real world. These are the sort of people that the Liberals do not want to listen to. These are the sort of people that the Liberals will sell out so that the Liberals can benefit their bed-mates in the auto insurance industry.
Dave Alexander from Capri Street called in from Thorold. I appreciate the call from Dave Alexander, Mr Speaker, and you will too when you hear what he had to say. He said, “Between the Liberals and Bill 68 and the Conservatives and the GST, thanks for fighting for the little guys and keeping people off welfare.” To Dave Alexander, we appreciate that, and I know you do, Mr Speaker.
Steve Vance in Barrie -- it is exactly because of what Steve Vance in Barrie has got to say that these Liberals, the Minister of Financial Institutions, the member for Guelph and the Premier, precisely because of what is contained in this message that they do not want to debate Bill 68. Steve Vance from Grove Street in Barrie says he is a card-carrying Liberal. His wife and he are just starting out with insurance premiums of $3,000 for two vehicles. A 50 per cent increase is going to leave them with a premium bill per year of some $4,500. That is a lot of money for a young couple just starting out. Now Steve Vance, a card-carrying Liberal member, says, “In view of what Bill 68 is going to do to drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims, it won’t be much longer.”
Pat Bryson from Cartier, Ontario called in and said, “Hang in there.” He equates what the Liberals are doing to victims under auto insurance with what the same Liberals have done to victims on workers’ compensation. Conrad Noddin from Main Street in Dutton, Ontario called in to say no to Bill 68. He wants a button and a FAIR tabloid and he is going to get that, because we are not afraid to listen to people like Conrad Noddin from Dutton.
We are not afraid to listen to small business people and working people and senior citizens. We are not afraid to fight for them, because we do not owe the insurance companies. We in the New Democratic Party do not owe the insurance companies one red cent. I do not know whether any Liberals can stand up and say the same thing, but we do not owe the insurance companies one red cent.
David Sills from Curlew Drive in Don Mills phoned this afternoon about his disappointment with Bill 68. He spoke about one dictatorship in Ottawa being enough. He does not want another one in Toronto. That is what David Sills has to say about this time allocation motion. David Sills is probably going to call the Premier tomorrow at 965-1941. David Sills is going to call the Premier tomorrow at 965-1941 and he is going to let the Premier know what he thinks about Bill 68.
The opposition to this legislation, the cry for a full debate is so widespread, so complete across the province. Mrs Vangaal from Melbourne Crescent in Brantford called in. She tried to call the Premier. No way. She said, “Keep fighting the Liberals.” On that note, I move adjournment of the debate.