That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that there presently exists a program called the Ontario young travellers program which assists students in northern Ontario with the cost of travelling to southern Ontario to learn more about their province and experience and access the resources located in the south, the government of Ontario should take steps to implement a reciprocal program allowing students in the south to travel to the north so that they also have the opportunity to take advantage of both the human and natural resources available in the north and develop a greater understanding of the diversity of the province.
It is my pleasure to put forth this morning what I would call a modest proposal of my own. Like Jonathan Swift’s proposal it does involve economic considerations, but unlike his proposal it is far kinder and gentler to the youngsters in our province than his was.
At the present time in the province we have what is called the Ontario young travellers program. This affects directly or indirectly about 23,000 grade 7 and 8 students in northern Ontario who have the potential to take advantage of this. Not all of them do go, but they have the potential because the program exists for them. A good number, several thousand each year, make their way down primarily to Toronto to take advantage of this with their teachers. I think it is an excellent program. It is one that involves a Toronto visit, where they visit the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada’s Wonderland, the Ontario Science Centre, that other centre of great renown, the Eaton Centre, for shopping and, last but not least, Queen’s Park, where they see the House in action and they take advantage of the activities going on here. Some of them go on to visit Niagara Falls as well. One can see that for them this is a wonderful opportunity, a cultural and educational experience.
Statistics show that in any given year in Ontario there are close to 250,000 students in grades 7 and 8, and approximately 10 per cent of these are in northern Ontario. But I would like to focus on the 90 per cent in southern Ontario who do not have access to this program, who at the present time are shut out of this wonderful experience, not in coming to Toronto, but my proposal is that they visit the centres in northern Ontario for a very rich and lively experience. Northern Ontario has 90 per cent of the land mass, and 90 per cent of the students of this great province never get a valid chance to see this. This 90 per cent factor I think is extremely important.
A little more detail about the Ontario young travellers program: It was established in 1973 by the then Minister of Education, Thomas Wells. There is a subsidy for travel. There is also a subsidy for overnight accommodation if the students travel more than 1,000 kilometres. At that time, when it was instituted, just to show you the population shift, the northern Ontario student component was roughly 20 per cent. We have suffered a population decline and that has even more implications for the huge numbers of students in southern Ontario.
My proposal would see the expansion of this great program or creation of another one specifically for southern Ontario so that these 90 per cent would be able to see the 90 per cent of northern Ontario that presently very few have a chance to. In so doing they would examine the geographic, cultural and economic diversity of this great province.
If we do not proceed with this type of program, unfortunately we see two Ontarios emerging. There is a prosperous, populous one and a scarcely populated, poorly understood northern Ontario. I think that is something that could stand correcting. So the goals of this proposal are the expansion of the existing program or the creation of a new southern Ontario program to foster appreciation of the province’s diversity, to raise the awareness of the students about northern Ontario and to encourage tourism in northern Ontario.
The proposal’s specifics include five target areas, as I call them: the Sudbury-North Bay region, the Timmins-Kirkland Lake-Kapuskasing region, the Sault Ste Marie region, the Thunder Bay region, and the Kenora-Fort Frances-Rainy River region.
To be a little more specific, here is a bird’s-eye view of some of these regions and what they have to offer as possible tourist highlights. In the Sudbury-North Bay region -- let me just read a little bit from here; it sounds like a bit of a tourist travelogue, but it is part of the pitch. In Sudbury they could see such highlights as the Big Nickel mine. “Put on a hardhat and enjoy a fascinating underground guided tour at the Big Nickel mine, compare different mining methods, inspect a powder magazine, see a refuge station where miners retreat in case of emergency, and experience a simulated blast display. At Science North in Sudbury” -- Science North is northern Ontario’s spectacular hands-on science centre -- ”pet a porcupine, create a tornado, find a fossil and take it home,” etc.
If they travel on to the North Bay region, one of the great attractions is that the Dionne quintuplets were born there. Just a little bit from this brochure: “The world was amazed by the birth of the Dionne quintuplets on May 28, 1934, in nearby Corbeil. This amazement quickly turned to love for the five identical tiny girls. It was a one-in-57-million chance of giving birth to identical quintuplets. The Dionne home museum contains many artefacts from the quints’ early days and their growing years -- their five little toothbrushes, five prayer books,” etc. You get the picture. That would be North Bay.
If they travel on to the Timmins-Kirkland Lake-Kapuskasing area, the students would find out that Timmins is, in terms of area, Canada’s largest city, the largest mining municipality in the world, the second largest city in North America, the only Canadian city with 45 registered traplines within city limits and the only city with over 500 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. On the Timmins gold mine tour, they will discover a unique adventure 3,500 feet underground at an operating gold mine in Timmins. They will never forget this exciting tour, which has now become one of the north’s fastest-growing attractions.
If they were to move on to the Kenora-Rainy River-Fort Frances area, what is normally known as Ontario’s sunset country, many more exciting tours await them, including tours of Ontario paper mills. They could go on to a famous place called Minaki. There is a little bit on Minaki here. “Imagine soaring cliffs overlooking endless lakes, silence broken only by the call of the loon, northern lights flashing across velvet skies. Come to Minaki, experience the Ojibway culture, explore sacred rock carvings, test your skills in a voyageur canoe or hike to the top of Gooseneck Mountain.” Just a little taste of that area.
Then there is Thunder Bay itself: the geographic centre of Canada, a city of 120,000 people, the North of Superior tourist area, land of the sleeping giant, where the legend abounds about Nanibijou, the great Ojibway legend of Nanibijou, the prince who fell asleep and turned into this huge rock formation that now graces the harbour of Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay is Canada’s second largest port. It is the world’s largest grain handling port. It is truly a multicultural city, and its international friendship gardens featuring over 30 displays by the various ethnic associations is a truly wonderful statement of the harmony in which we work. It is amethyst country, amethyst being the provincial mineral rock. There are open pits for amethyst, some of the biggest in the world. You can go there and pick your own amethyst crystal.
They can tour the grain elevators, some of the largest structures ever built, take the harbour cruise and end up at Old Fort William, a historic, authentic re-creation of an early 19th-century trading post, one of the largest such in North America, where history lives every day. Then there is the natural beauty of the Lake Superior shore, Ouimet Canyon, Sibley Provincial Park and our own Niagara of the north, Kakabeka Falls.
Last but not least is the Terry Fox monument. Terry Fox, in his marathon of hope, ran to the halfway point in Canada and, unfortunately, had to stop there. He was very close to Thunder Bay. In his memory, as a tribute to that wonderful effort, there is a magnificent monument close to Thunder Bay.
In conclusion, I think a wonderful opportunity awaits the southern Ontario students who would be able to partake of this program. Conducted annually for grade 7 and 8 students, over a period of time it would involve a huge segment of our population that would have this awareness and appreciation for a large part of Ontario they presently do not have. I think these children would become ambassadors of goodwill through their awareness of this diversity, both cultural and economic, not to mention the tourist input that thousands of students touring the north would have. I think it is an opportunity that should not be missed, and I encourage my colleagues to support me.
Mr Wildman: I rise in support of the resolution my colleague has put forward today. I want to congratulate him in recognizing the need for greater communication and understanding of northern Ontario among people in southern Ontario, particularly our young people.
As he said, most people are unaware of the fact that 90 per cent of the land mass of the province is north of the French River, while we have only about nine per cent of the population. Unfortunately, that population has been dwindling. There has been an outmigration from northern Ontario communities, particularly from the small, one-industry towns, into the larger communities in the north, and from the larger communities in the north the young people have been moving in greater numbers to southern Ontario for employment.
I want to say first that the Ontario young travellers program is a very good program and one that I am a strong supporter of. It enables northern Ontario students in grades 7 and 8, usually grade 8, to travel to the capital of the province, Toronto, to visit the Legislature and see the zoo that we call the assembly. But it also allows them to see the Metro Toronto Zoo, in many cases, and the other attractions in the Toronto area such as the Ontario Science Centre. Most often the trips include a visit to the new domed stadium for a baseball game, the CN Tower, Ontario Place and the many attractions that I think people in Metropolitan Toronto perhaps come to take for granted as part of being a world-class city.
It also may let northern Ontario students become aware of the tremendous economic activity and commerce in the Toronto area and the enormous size of the communities here compared to most communities in northern Ontario. I hope it also makes them aware of the ethnic diversity of this part of the province, which is mirrored in some ways by many northern communities. I also hope it makes them aware in some way of the social problems that have developed with the enormous growth in this area and the problems of homelessness and poverty that have grown as well as the wealth in this area.
I want to say that I would have liked to have my colleague the member for Port Arthur mention that there should be some improvements to the Ontario young travellers program as it is already constituted. He is probably aware that there has not been a significant increase in the funding for that program for many years. The subsidy for travel for students, which once covered the return air fare from his part of the province to Toronto, as well as some assistance for accommodation and travelling around this part of the province, no longer meets the needs, the costs, with inflation.
In my part of the province, most of the students travel from Algoma by bus. It is a one-day trip by bus for most. Some come by train, and some fly as well, but most travel by bus. The cost of bus transportation has escalated at a rate that it is now impossible for the young travellers program to properly cover the cost. I suspect that may be the case for my friend the member for Algoma-Manitoulin’s students as well.
I have attempted to persuade the government to increase the funding for that program, because we all know that the students, their teachers, their parents and friends work very hard to raise money for these trips every year. It is usually a year-long project for the grade 8 students. They are having to raise larger and larger proportions of the cost of the trip now. In some cases, I regret to say, some elementary schools have discontinued their trips and no longer do it under the Ontario young travellers program because they do not think the grant is any longer adequate and they cannot raise enough money locally to cover the deficit. So some of the students whose older brothers and sisters were able to take a trip under the program are now denied that opportunity when they reach grade 8. I think that is most unfortunate and I would encourage all members, particularly all members from the north but all members from southern Ontario as well, to encourage the Ministry of Education to increase the funding for the Ontario young travellers program.
Specifically, I agree with my friend the member for Port Arthur that there is a tremendous need, as I said, to educate the people of southern Ontario about the vastness of the north, the beauty of the north, the resources of the north, the potential of the north and the problems of the north. We have had raised in this House this week the fact that the Deputy Minister of Northern Development wrote a confidential memo in January 1990 to his minister in the cabinet and pointed out that a large number of one-industry towns in northern Ontario are facing serious economic depression, that we are continuing the boom-bust cycle that resource communities have faced for years, that nothing has changed, that 2,000 jobs are threatened in the Elliot Lake area, for instance, this year, and nothing this government is doing is changing or addressing that.
To be frank with members, I am not being partisan about this. That was the same problem we had with the previous government, and I would say it would probably be a problem if my party were in government too, as a northern member. The reason is this: Not enough people in southern Ontario understand the situation in northern Ontario. I am not being critical of them in saying that; it is not surprising they do not. One of the biggest mistakes that was ever made in this province was splitting the road map and putting southern Ontario on one side of the map and northern Ontario on the back.
Mr Wildman: Exactly. The problem is, the scales are different on both maps and most people do not look at the scale and are not used to reading maps when they are just trying to find directions by road. They look at the two and they have no idea how large the territory of northern Ontario really is, because it is on a much smaller scale and the southern Ontario portion is on a larger scale. It is quite correct that if it was all one map, the south would be so small in order to fit it on that size of a page, members would not be able to read the road map in the southern part of the province. That is a problem.
I have had people who I would have hoped when I first came here would have known better. I have had senior bureaucrats in the government, other members of the Legislature and people who work around the Legislature ask me, if I could attend a meeting in Sudbury, for instance, on a Saturday. I have said, “I’m sorry, I would like to be there but I have to be in Hornepayne on the Friday night.” They sort of look at me and say, “So why don’t you go to Hornepayne on Friday night and go to Sudbury on Saturday?” They do not understand that it is farther to drive from Hornepayne to Sudbury than it is from Toronto to Three Rivers. Somehow that has to change.
If we are going to ever get around the problem of two Ontarios, we have to have an understanding, and frankly, if I could, I would add to this resolution a proposal that used to be a sort of hobbyhorse of the Treasurer when he was in opposition. Years ago there used to be a program for members of the Legislative Assembly where they would be taken on a tour of northern Ontario every couple of years. They would go on the Ontario Northland Railway up to Moosonee, and then they would go up to the Algoma Central Railway north of Sault Ste Marie to Hearst and all along Highway 11 to Thunder Bay and on up to Kenora and Rainy River, on a tour that would take maybe three weeks. It was discontinued because it was considered just a big boondoggle. Well, maybe it was. That was before my time. The Treasurer probably can tell you more about it, but the fact is, at least those members of the assembly learned about the vastness and the distances and, yes, the potential of northern Ontario. They also visited a lot of the small communities and saw some of the problems, or at least got a glimpse of them.
I think that would be a first step. But just educating members of the assembly is not going to change. The fact is, we have 15 ridings in northern Ontario. We have got only nine per cent of the population. We have to educate the public of southern Ontario about the north or just the fact of numbers is going to make it impossible for any government -- and I say that seriously -- to put the kind of resources out that are required if we are actually going to change the boom-bust cycle in northern Ontario at any date.
I am not being critical when I say it is normal. If you have three million people living in the Metropolitan Toronto area, all of whom have legitimate needs and concerns that they want the provincial government to respond to, it is natural that the government is going to respond to them. But if some of those three million had a better understanding of what could be done in northern Ontario and how that might benefit southern Ontario, perhaps they would be pressing not just to have the problems of Metro dealt with but also the problems of the north, and then governments would have to respond.
Maybe that is a pipedream. Maybe I am reading too much into the resolution of my friend the member for Port Arthur, but I think it is a good idea. It is a first step. I congratulate him for making the proposal, again with the proviso that I think there should also be some improvements in the current Ontario young travellers program. Also, I think there is a need to get more members of the assembly into the north. Some members of the assembly would say: “What do you mean? We serve on legislative committees and we travel to places like Sudbury and Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie for legislative committee hearings.” That is true, but they see only the larger centres. You almost never get a legislative committee that goes to Attawapiskat or to Gore Bay or, for that matter, they almost never do anything but fly from Toronto to the Sault or from Toronto to Thunder Bay. Ministers do that, unfortunately.
I think there should be a rule that the Minister of Transportation should not be allowed to take an aircraft. He should be required to drive on Highway 17 and Highway II any time he is going to the north. Then we might have decent roads up north. We cannot just fly in and fly out and get a real understanding of the north or the vastness of our area. We have to have people travelling in the area by road, seeing the lakes and the rivers, the forests and the small communities. I commend my friend for bringing in this resolution.
Back on 23 October 1973, the program was announced by the then Minister of Education, Tom Wells. It allowed northern students in grades 7 and 8 to travel to Toronto and to experience the Legislature and other unique areas here in the city. The students received a subsidy to defray their travelling expenses, and students from more than 1,000 kilometres away received funds for overnight accommodation as well.
The young travellers program, at the time of its inception, enabled 20 per cent of Ontario’s grade 7 and 8 students from the north to visit Toronto and other southern locations. Given the change in the provincial population distribution, nearly 90 per cent of Ontario students have yet to experience the distinct difference in the north.
When the Ontario young travellers program was introduced back in 1973, as I said, it was intended to allow the people, from the north to travel to Toronto to gain educational experiences. But now, nearly 20 years later, I believe it is time to expand the scope of this program. I agree with my colleague on that. I wholeheartedly agree that the government of Ontario should take the initiative and the necessary steps to encourage students from southern Ontario to travel to the north.
Many of our young people, while having had the opportunity to experience the many faces of southern Ontario, do not know what the northern region of our province really has to offer. They have not seen at first hand the rich forests and lush park lands. They have not looked out over the clear lakes or seen much of the province’s wildlife in its natural habitat. They have not visited the people who work in our mines or who live in our logging camps. In short, many of our young people do not know just how diverse this province really is; and without this knowledge, we cannot expect them to adequately deal with the problems which will face Ontario in the next few decades.
Educating our children should not end in the classroom. We must encourage students to learn through experience. And what better place to begin than within the far-reaching corners of their very own province. Northern Ontario offers an education in history, in geography, in geology, in art, in science and, last but not least, in the way in which our cousins in the north live.
As well, I believe that there would be additional benefits from the implementation of a program to assist students from southern Ontario in visiting the north. As Tourism and Recreation critic for our party, I am especially pleased to support this resolution, as I feel that the initiation of such a program would ultimately encourage tourism in northern Ontario. I have no doubt that, once having gained a greater awareness of Ontario’s north, the participants of such a program would have the incentive to return to the area. Considering that the tourism industry suffered a massive 27.8 per cent decline in person-trips within the province by Ontarians in 1989 and a net loss of $3.25 billion in tourism revenues since 1988, we must encourage recreational travel within our province.
Therefore, in the hope of fostering a greater understanding of all of Ontario in the minds and hearts of our young people and in the hope of promoting our vast and beautiful north, I wholeheartedly endorse the resolution. Over the years we have had the junior rangers program, which has been one where young people could have the opportunity to travel to the north, work for the summer and benefit from the diverse parts of this province. The make-work programs that the Ministry of Natural Resources has had over the years have been a great benefit to the young people from the south.
I remember many years ago I had a young person on the agricultural program from the city of Toronto. He had never been out of the city in his life. He came to my farm to work for the summer. What a great experience for a kid who had never been out of the city. I told him the first two weeks there he would be so unhappy that he would want to get back to the city, that he just would not believe what he got himself into. I said, “If you can get through the first two weeks, you will begin to like what you are doing and you will enjoy it.” It is unbelievable how that young person picked up on what took place around the farm. He ended up milking cows. To make a long story short, when it came to September he did not want to go back to Toronto. The young lad did not have a muscle in his arms when he came, but when he left he was fit and really enjoyed life.
Those are the types of programs that the government should be implementing further. I see this year it is bringing back the agricultural program for students, and I think it is one of the best programs that the government has had.
Tourism is where a lot of the young people can gain experience. They can get jobs in the north. They can travel to the north. They will get to like it and they will want to go back there. So the resolution from the member today is really what we hope will make some of those things happen, but not only that. The member for Algoma speaks about the diverse culture in northern Ontario. Many of us know what it is, but people in southern Ontario are not fully aware of what it is. I think to give them the opportunity to travel to the north is a great education, and it furthers their experience in the habitat and the great clear waters that we have in the north.
Mr D. R. Cooke: It gives me great pleasure to support the resolution brought forward by my colleague the member for Port Arthur, who in my view is one of the more sensitive and thoughtful members of this Legislature. It strikes me that expanding the present Ontario young travellers program to encourage southern-based youngsters to visit the north is a welcome and logical move forward.
It would be one of the more useful in a series of positive initiatives taken by this government to promote northern development in this province. As the members know, of course, I am from southwestern Ontario and it is only fairly recently that I have begun to explore the vast expanses of our province that lie north of the Great Lakes. I am not sure why it is that I waited this long, but the experience has been fantastic.
In the period prior to my election to this Legislature I had been in Sudbury and North Bay many times, but I can think only of two occasions that I have been north or west of those cities. On one occasion, I had a trial in Kapuskasing and I meandered up the eastern side of northeastern Ontario, and on the other occasion I came by train from Banff to Toronto on the CP line. My recollection of that particular trip was that while the Rockies and the Prairies have their own beauty, unquestionably the most beautiful area in Canada is northern Ontario.
I expect that I am not alone in this regard. Certainly I am not alone among the general population of our province. But I would also wager that mine is not an uncommon experience, even among members of this House, as the member for Algoma has been pointing out. For me, as I suppose it is for most southerners, the north was too often perceived as a vast, cold, snow-covered wasteland. I had only a vague idea about who lived there and what they did.
What I have found in the period of time since I have been elected is that there is a series of vibrant and resourceful communities eager to make a contribution to the vitality of the whole province. What I have found as well is that we have a region that is too often left out of the mainstream, a community whose concerns have traditionally been given a low priority by the larger, more populous and more affluent south. So it has been a welcome eye opener to me to see for myself what it had to offer.
I would like to relate back particularly to two visits to the north that I have had in the last year, both of which have had a profound effect on my overall understanding of a variety of issues. Call it a new perspective, if you will, but in any case I am very glad of the opportunity to see things at first hand that so many of us try to understand through news clips and other secondhand reports.
Last summer I was invited by the residents of the village of Temagami, concerned about the impact of restrictions on logging in an area that is dependent on that industry for a livelihood and has been for generations, to visit their village. While I was there I toured their facilities, the Sherman mine as well as the pulp mill, visited with the townspeople, heard how important forestry is to the economic wellbeing of the townspeople. Thereafter, I visited and spent some time with the local organizers of the Temagami Wilderness Society. I saw the trees and the parks and the wildlife, and I saw clear-cut.
I was awed by the beauty of what is there. I was concerned about clear-cut, but overall my visit to the area gave me a much clearer perspective on a very complex range of conflicting needs and competing interests in that community. I only bring this up to illustrate how much more thorough my understanding is, having spent some time in the area talking to the people affected and seeing with my own eyes what previously I had seen only on television.
Also last summer I was the guest of the member for Kenora, visiting in the riding of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. There I visited the Whitedog reserve, discussed with the native people some of their concerns, their relationship with government, good and bad, some of their attitudes and needs for alternative dispute settlement problems. I visited, as well, the mine at Red Lake. I visited the mill in Dryden, and again I saw some examples that concerned me about clear-cut in the forest industry. But the fact of the matter is that while my view of that may be a little different from that of some northerners, it is important that we be involved in that dialogue.
Each of these experiences has impressed upon me a very important lesson. Simply put, there is really no substitute for direct experience in developing a full awareness of anything. Obviously, it is not always possible to rely on the luxury of direct experience, but surely, when the opportunity is available, you should reach out and grab it.
I am certain that intermediate-level students would grab these available opportunities. If they could be provided with a chance to visit our northern communities, to see how the other half lives, works and plays, I am convinced they would jump at that chance. What 12- or 13-year-old would not be thoroughly enthralled at the prospect of going somewhere new and different? And the best part about it is that it would be good for them. I know from personal experience the value of a program that takes people into a new environment and shows them another side of life.
Northerners who have taken part in the existing program have only good things to report, as far as I know. Surely young people from the south would gain as much. As a matter of fact, an argument could be made that they would gain more from the program, if only because it is much more likely that a northern resident at some stage would have reason, in any event, to come to the south to access services that are not readily available in the north, in contrast to most southerners, who do not have the same requirement to go north.
Just look at the benefits of such interaction at an early stage of these young people’s collective development. They would take a more thorough understanding of the familiarity of this part of our great province into their lives. They would perhaps remember their experiences and appreciate them better, the unique hardships that are faced in northern communities. They would recognize the potential for economic development and growth and help all Ontarians take advantage of the richness of the people and the land. Finally, they would understand the need to promote and ensure that nobody feels he is peripheral to the development of this province.
Surely it is the case, when people are developing and Premiers are talking about the division of this country, that we in this province, who perhaps have the most to lose, stick together. The only way we are going to do it is if we are united and we understand each other. This program would be just the kind of incentive we would need in the south to change our attitudes.
Mr Pollock: I am pleased to take part in this debate and I want to compliment the member for Port Arthur for bringing it forward. I think it is a worthwhile resolution and I think the schoolchildren from southern Ontario should have the opportunity to go and visit northern Ontario.
I was at a meeting this morning where we were talking about international trade. The meeting was concerned with the Ontario International Corp. They mentioned the fact that when you are travelling abroad you do not even hear about Ontario. Some people know where Toronto is, but they do not even know where Ontario is. I think this is a message we also have to get out. We all here in Ontario have heard about “Ontario -- yours to discover!” and, of course, “Ontario -- Incredible!” but others of our trading nations have never really heard of Ontario in that respect.
There is no question that northern Ontario is a great place to visit. I was at a meeting in Madoc at one time. The Honourable Leo Bernier was speaking at that particular meeting and he told the audience there that he was closer to Halifax, Nova Scotia, than he was to his home in Sioux Lookout. I have also had the privilege of driving out west. It takes you approximately two days to drive through Ontario.
Also, I have visited Science North in Sudbury. It is a great place to visit. I have seen the Big Nickel display at the Sudbury mines and I have had the privilege of seeing the trains that dump the slag from the mines. That is quite a colourful sight, because they drive up on the hill, they dump this red-hot slag, and as it trickles down the hill, it is something to see.
I have had the experience of getting a speeding ticket in northern Ontario, on Highway 11. I have also listened to the tales of the moose hunters and some of their experiences up in northern Ontario. Of course, I have played golf at Minaki Lodge. Some people question Minaki Lodge, but it is really and truly a world-class facility.
I certainly believe that not all the money should be spent right here in Toronto or the greater Metro area. People from all over Ontario pay a sales tax; so some of that money should be spent in northern Ontario and in eastern Ontario.
I fully support this member’s resolution to have schoolchildren go up to northern Ontario and see what is there. I am sure that later on in life they will go back to northern Ontario as tourists, and this would be good for the tourist business in northern Ontario.
There is a good possibility that the next Premier of this province will be from northern Ontario, and I think particularly of North Bay. There is great fishing in northern Ontario. I have had the experience of going fishing in one of those remote areas in northern Ontario, and it was a better, a more pressing, experience than actually going to Florida.
One other experience I had, and I think it is important to mention this at this particular time, was at the unveiling of the Terry Fox memorial just east of Thunder Bay. It was just 10 years ago that Terry Fox was in the process of making his run across Canada. I remember the Lieutenant Governor saying at that particular unveiling that maybe it was meant to be that Terry Fox ended his run there because it was halfway between east and west.
Mr Brown: I am most happy today to indicate to the member for Port Arthur that I support his resolution. As a member from a northern rural riding, I appreciate his efforts. We as northerners are quite accustomed to the rugged beauty of our land: the literally thousands of lakes, the hardwood and softwood forests, the unforgettable northern lights and the breathtaking landscapes.
However, many children from southern Ontario have yet to experience the north, and some unfortunately never will. It is with this in mind that I must congratulate my colleague the member for Port Arthur for the introduction of this private member’s resolution that would assist the children in southern Ontario with the cost of travelling to the north to learn more about their province. This would also give them a better understanding of the north’s resources, both human and natural, and would help in understanding the great geographical, cultural and economic diversity of the north.
As my colleague has already mentioned, a program, referred to as the Ontario young travellers program, is in place for the students of northern Ontario. Is it not fair that we reciprocate and allow southerners to come north?
In my capacity as a member of this Legislature, I am required to be in southern Ontario virtually every week for several days. On some occasions, my family will come to visit. This gives my children a chance to see what Toronto is about, what southern Ontario is about, what makes this place tick. It would certainly be very good for us to allow southern children to find out what makes northern Ontario tick.
In 1973, when this program was first introduced, it allowed northern students from grades 7 and 8 to get a chance to take in the sights and sounds of Toronto. These students received a subsidy to defray their travelling expenses, and students travelling from more than 1,000 kilometres away received additional funds to take care of their overnight accommodation. In my riding alone, literally thousands of students have visited Queen’s Park and Toronto using this fine program.
An excursion to the north for southerners would enlighten the students as to how we, as northerners, feel about our natural resources and what we draw from them and what contribution those resources make to the provincial economy. Let them learn that our livelihoods are tied to the minerals we mine, the fish we catch, the forests we harvest. Let them learn of our commitment to sustainable development.
I believe strongly, and public opinion polls back this up, that northerners have a stronger sense of environmental issues than any others in the province. Northerners know that once the resource is depleted, there is no more work, there is no more economy and our way of life will disappear.
These types of exchanges between students are not designed to teach the visitor everything about what he or she might like to know; rather, they are meant to give a small flavour of the community. As a member who represents a rural northern Ontario riding, I recognize that it is not possible for students to really get a flavour on a two- or three-day visit, but I think that experiencing our part of the north for just a few days will perk their interest, give them a better understanding and have them return.
A few short years ago I had the opportunity and privilege, as a Rotarian, of hosting an exchange student from Australia. During her three-month stay at our home she became very familiar with and gained a great deal of appreciation for our lifestyle. I believe that exchanges are very important. I am pleased to note that one of the elementary schools in my riding has just recently arranged a trip to Quebec City. When they made the arrangements, they were hoping to take one bus from this small elementary school to Quebec City. The demand to learn about the culture of our neighbouring province was so great that they had to rent two buses; so I believe the interest is there.
I would gladly welcome virtually all students from southern Ontario to my riding of Algoma-Manitoulin. Here they can see the diversity of northern Ontario. They can see the town of Elliot Lake -- small by Ontario standards but large by northern Ontario standards -- and its citizens. They would find that the jewel in the wilderness, as it is referred to, is not unlike most northern Ontario towns, with its friendly people and accommodating atmosphere. They would discover that it is primarily a mining town. They would discover the unique economic challenges that are faced by one-industry mining towns.
If they came to my riding, they could experience a trip to a pulp and paper mill in Espanola, which would be a valuable learning experience. They would come away knowing about a world-class pulp and paper plant that is also world-class environmentally sound. They would learn where the products of their everyday lives are made, and they would know about the people who make them. They would find for themselves that northerners are hardworking and committed individuals with a lifestyle that is both unique and wonderful.
They could also visit Manitoulin Island, where they could see the agricultural communities, they could see our way of life and they could see why so many tourists come to our area, to see the wildlife, to catch fish, to enjoy a setting that I think is unique in Ontario.
Mr J. M. Johnson: In the two minutes that I have, I would like to just commend the member for Port Arthur for this resolution, whose main thrust is to give our young people the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of the diversity of our great province. That is an excellent idea and I fully support it.
Many years ago, when my children were quite young, I and my family used to take summer vacations and we travelled to all parts of this province. Indeed, we travelled from coast to coast, but the highlights were our trips to the north, which provided an opportunity for my young children to see what it was like in the north country.
I recall the first time that we travelled right through the west, through northern Ontario to the Manitoba border. From my home town of Mount Forest it was practically the exact distance to the Manitoba border as it is to the Florida border. I could equate to my children the fact that we can travel through all the states to the Florida border, which are several, or go the same distance across through the north to the Manitoba border.
As my friend and colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough mentioned, the vastness of this province is hard to understand unless you have actually travelled it. To spend two or three days driving 700 miles a day to reach the western border indicates that there is a lot to see in this great province of ours.
I have had the opportunity in the past to fish up in Moosonee and Winisk and some of the places quite far up north, and the fishing is fantastic. This morning, by coincidence, we had an opportunity to meet with the member for Huron, who is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and who is conducting a review of the fish stock in this province. I would heartily recommend that we should take a trip. Maybe the members of the committee would invite the members of the Legislature to travel to the north and try their luck at fishing.
Mr Kozyra: It is very gratifying to have this unanimous support from members of the three parties. I would like specifically to thank the members who spoke so thoughtfully and so supportively of this resolution, the member for Algoma, the member for Simcoe East, the member for Hastings-Peter-borough, the member for Wellington, the member for Kitchener and the member for Algoma-Manitoulin. I would also like to thank the intern who is working in my office for this term, Shaun Cody, for his research and input into this resolution.
The member for Algoma made some interesting recommendations, and I will be gladly following them up. The improvements he spoke to are very valid. At the present time, a full-fare ticket from Thunder Bay to Toronto is over $500, more than it might cost to go to Europe or California. This is the kind of thing that people travelling to the north are faced with. From Kenora to Toronto the fare is about $680.
I am sorry to hear that the member for Hastings-Peterborough got a speeding ticket in the north, but perhaps he was going too fast to take in our wonderful, majestic northern beauty and rightfully deserved one.
The member for Algoma also mentioned a lack perhaps of members seeing the north. I would like to point out that at least the entire Liberal caucus has been at Quetico. They found that a very valuable experience.
I think we all appreciate the value of travel. I think it is important that we start with our own great province and expand this program so that the north is taken into account. I would say that networking is possible. Where you get five schools from a city, they could travel to these five areas and then share their experience and get an experience of the whole north.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a letter here from the Archbishop of Niagara, Archbishop Bothwell, regarding his concern and the concern of many people that the report from Dr Glenn Watson about religion in the public schools has still not been released by this government, even though it has had it in its possession since January of this year and it promised that it would be released by the end of March, after it said that it could not do it in February because it had some problems with translation. It is still not here today and there are many people concerned, even people like myself whose religious affiliation is fairly obscure in terms of trying to divine what it might be.
There are those of us who think that a series of governments that have not changed curriculum on religious education since 1949 might be excused being a few months late again in even bringing forward a report, but when I get messages regularly through to my office about groups like the Gideons society continually bringing forward New Testaments and offering them to every child in a class in various schools around the province, and we hear still that the ruling of the Supreme Court is being flouted in certain areas by certain denominations that are trying to proselytize a particular point of view, I say it is time that this report was brought forward so we can finally update and upgrade and make multiculturally sensitive the religious education we expect to see in the public education system of the province. I call on the government to bring it forward at the earliest opportunity.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to bring to the attention of the House a very serious concern I have relating to the farmers of Ontario and certainly many farmers in my riding of Wellington. It is the urgent need for the reinstatement of the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, OFFIR, which is needed more so now than ever before.
As members will be aware, financial analysts are predicting that a prime lending rate of 15 per cent, the highest since the 1981-82 recession, is possible as prices and the Canadian dollar continue to rise. Our farmers cannot pay any higher interest rates. The Farm Debt Review Board recorded a significant increase in the number of farmers in financial difficulty during the past year, and with the continued fall in commodity prices and increasing interest rates this trend will continue and in fact escalate.
As my colleague the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry stated in the House yesterday, “Farmers need a farm tax reduction program that makes sense and is not simply an election gimmick which will disappear after one year.”
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association have all made recommendations on what initiatives the government might take in addressing this issue. I hope the Treasurer has included in his budget a financial support program that will address this issue.
Mr Faubert: On 10 April, I held a public forum on community safety. The emergence of youth gang activity in Metropolitan Toronto, which became prominent starting in early 1988, was the most discussed concern. As one of the first representatives to raise this issue publicly in the fall of 1988, I remain concerned that the need to promote increased awareness of this issue among our youth, parents and teachers has still to be effectively addressed.
I commend, however, the Metropolitan Toronto council and the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force for taking a preventive approach to the problem. By educating youth, through the schools, on the consequences of participation in youth gangs, they hope to reduce youth gang involvement at its source before the damage is done.
Our young people must be made aware of the dangers, the consequences and indeed the penalties that can result from participation in such gang activity. The teachers and parents in our communities must be educated in how to recognize and deal with youth involved in gang activities.
In Vancouver a number of innovative preventive approaches are being taken, such as radio programs, newspaper articles, pamphlets to assist parents and school boards, theatrical projects dealing with the consequences of youth gang participation, short TV programs and anti-youth-gang video projects. These projects should be given every consideration by all levels of government serving Metropolitan Toronto.
Mr Reville: I was reading Hansard this morning, as is my wont, and I was reading volume 2 of the debates from 1986 and 1987. I had got up to page 1796 at 11:50 am of that day, and this is what was said, “No one in this province will pay more for insured medical services than the schedule of benefits permits.”
There it is in black and white. It must be true. It is in Hansard. Yet when I finished reading my Hansard, I read, oh no, the Globe and Mail and discovered that 1,144 people indeed paid more for insured medical services than the schedule of benefits permitted in the last year, and they paid that amount of money to 193 physicians.
When the Ministry of Health was asked why it did not do something about this, it said, “Oh well, we docked the money from their cheques.” This government has got to take the cake for being one of the larger wet noodles around.
Mr Sterling: This Sunday 22 April is Earth Day, a celebration of the earth and a call to citizens of the world to act on behalf of the environment. This year, 1990, marks the 20th anniversary of the first and only observance of Earth Day by about 20 million in the United States. Their actions in 1970 had many positive results, including the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
At that time environmental problems did not seem very pressing. We were much too busy with other concerns. Now we realize that the health of our planet is a critical issue requiring immediate attention. Environmentalists decided to commemorate the 1970 Earth Day by organizing a worldwide event focused on the environment and make the 1990s the turnaround decade to reverse the damage already done to our air, water and land.
Earth Day will be celebrated in 118 countries around the world from Australia to Zimbabwe, and 100 billion people are expected to participate. The slogan is, “Who says you can’t change the world?” Organizers want to make this a decade of environmental activism that will promote our understanding of nature so that we can work in harmony with it.
Here in Ontario most communities across the province have planned various events for Saturday and Sunday and next week. We urge everyone to get involved and find out what can be done individually and collectively to save our planet.
Crow blames the inflation rate, but an inflation rate of 5.5 per cent is quite reasonable. We have an average jobless rate of 7.2 per cent across Canada. Yes, Ontario, as the business heart of the country, still commands the strongest economy with an unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent. But what about New Brunswick with an unemployment rate of 11.9 per cent, or Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland with rates of 14.2 per cent and 14.7 per cent respectively?
This idea of zero inflation is totally insane because the repercussions are damaging and irreparable. If we allow Ontario’s unemployment rate to reach over eight per cent, then some Canadian provinces may reach over 20 per cent. It is my considered opinion that this is like performing a complete blood transfusion. When people need a complete blood transfusion, they must be very sick.
It is clear that John Crow, Wilson and Mulroney want, for the sake of zero inflation, the Canadian people on the breadline. I submit that John Crow is a scarecrow, and we must let those thick heads of Crow, Wilson and Mulroney join the breadlines themselves.
Last night I was at a meeting where there was almost an explosion at the Toronto Board of Education. Hundreds of very concerned parents came out to try to understand why it is that they should have to pay all the costs of education for their children in their area.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It is the same kind of thing that Mel Brooks’s protégé over there wants me to talk about, which is happening in Ottawa, which is to say that the board of education there is in exactly the same position and has been considering major cut to kids with learning disabilities and the services of psychologists on the board.
The same kind of problem has recently come up with the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, where had it not been for a plea from poverty groups from Scarborough and other places, it also would have cut back programs to try to keep its increases this year down below the double digits that it looks like many boards of education are going to have to face.
The reason for this is that this government is now paying only 40 per cent of the cost of education, down another percentage point from last year alone, beating the Tories at their own record for cutting back their provincial percentage. This Treasurer is now, in another few days, going to come before us with a balanced budget, a few million dollars in food for hungry kids in the school system, and is basically balancing that budget on the backs of school boards and kids who need a proper education in the province of Ontario.
Mr Jackson: On Tuesday the Attorney General informed the House about activities his ministry would be involved in to mark Community Justice Week. While recognizing that increasing public awareness about our justice system is important, we must also recognize that the most crucial justice issue today is the specific one involving the rights of victims of crime.
Crime victims help our justice system achieve convictions in 60 per cent of all crimes. The justice system would simply not be able to function without them, and yet so little has been done on their behalf. Instead of emphasizing mock trials, the Attorney General should be responding to the situation of continuous victimization of citizens involved in real trials who look on helplessly as their assailants are freed on bail to walk the streets to harass their victims once more.
How will Community Justice Week assist the children of a family in my riding who suffered incestuous abuse by their father and who were then thwarted in their attempts to gain justice from our legal system, or a teenager, who has attempted suicide because she cannot obtain counselling to help her heal the psychological wounds criminally inflicted upon her?
These are problems that Community Justice Week neither addresses nor resolves. As one of only two provinces that still do not have a crime victims’ bill of rights, Ontario is lagging behind in this important area.
On behalf of the victims of crime in this province, I call on the Attorney General and the Liberal MPPs to stop their boycott of a victims’ bill of rights. It would indeed be a fitting tribute to Community Justice Week if the Attorney General would ensure that Bill 113 is sent to the justice committee as soon as possible and given a speedy passage into law.
Mr Ruprecht: This Sunday will be a very sad day for Polish Canadians. On 22 April the Polish Canadian Congress will be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Katyn forest massacre, where 15,000 Polish officers were murdered.
This event is recognized by historians as one of the most tragic mass murders committed against a nation that was totally helpless and defenceless. The perpetrators now recognize that the Russian secret police was to blame for it. Until last week the Soviet government did not accept the responsibility. We hope that today the Soviet government will have the courage to accept responsibility for other crimes against helpless victims.
As we mourn this Sunday with those who lost their loved ones, let us remember that the Polish Canadian Congress encourages all interested parties to attend. At 11:30 in the morning on Sunday will be the mass at St Casimir’s Church. Then at 1 pm will be the memoria1 March to the Katyn monument on Roncesvalles Avenue at King and Queen streets. At 4:30 there will be a commemorative dinner at the Polish Cultural Centre on Beverley Street. I would encourage all of us to attend.
Ontario’s 839 municipalities differ in size and structure, from Metropolitan Toronto with more than two million people to Cockburn Island with only three, but all municipalities share the same basic principles of serving their residents.
We need to ensure that municipal councils, school boards and municipal agencies, boards and commissions continue to have the confidence of their public. They must be as open, clearly understandable and as accountable as possible. That is why the government, with the assistance of municipal leaders, is embarking on three initiatives to ensure openness, clarity and accountability in local government.
First, I intend to introduce legislation later this afternoon to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in public and not behind closed doors. This legislation will set out clear guidelines to ensure that local government meetings are open to the public. Exemptions to allow private meetings will be limited and clearly defined.
This legislation also deals with another aspect of municipal government in which openness is crucial, and that is the sale of surplus assets, especially land. The legislation will require municipalities to adopt bylaws establishing their own procedures for both the conduct of meetings and the sale of assets. This will ensure that people have an opportunity to know and understand the rules by which their local government operates and can hold their representatives to account if these rules are not followed.
I am very aware of the diverse needs of Ontario’s municipalities. This legislation provides municipalities with flexibility to tailor procedural bylaws to fit their own needs, as long as they adhere to principles outlined in the legislation. For example, the legislation requires that when selling land, municipalities obtain at least one appraisal from an accredited appraiser, but I would expect that many municipalities will impose even more stringent rules on themselves.
Another important aspect of this legislation involves housing. We are all aware that it is necessary for all levels of government to work together to ensure that the people of Ontario who need our assistance have adequate homes. For that reason, the legislation will require that the province be given the first right of refusal to purchase surplus municipal land being sold in certain high-growth municipalities where the need for affordable housing is greatest. The province already has a similar policy to allow municipalities to acquire provincial land. I intend to consult with municipalities to determine the best way to implement this policy to serve the needs of municipalities and the provincial government.
The second initiative is designed to assure members of the public that their municipal representatives are acting in their best interests at all times. Following the 1988 municipal elections, ministry staff met with municipalities, municipal organizations and other interest groups across the province to consult on improvements to the electoral process. The reports on municipal elections by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers provided an important focus of discussion for this consultation.
Staff are reviewing the current legislation on municipal election contributions and spending, and later this year I will introduce legislation to address a number of concerns expressed after the 1988 municipal elections. The new legislation will also improve the rules regarding how much money contributors may donate to municipal candidates, and it will deal as well with the surplus funds many candidates are left with at the end of a campaign.
The third and final initiative in this package involves reviewing municipal conflict-of-interest legislation. I believe that the citizens of Ontario must be reassured of the integrity of their local government, and the rules on conflict of interest must be clear and easily understood by local representatives and the public.
I am releasing today a discussion paper on this topic this afternoon. This paper represents a framework to facilitate discussion of this complex issue. It examines issues and new policy options but does not make specific recommendations.
I will be appointing a consultation committee which will receive advice from individuals and groups on the paper. This committee will be chaired by Cy Armstrong. Mr Armstrong has had a long and distinguished career in municipal government. Most recently he was the city manager of the city of Edmonton, and for many years before that he was the chief administrative officer of the region of Hamilton-Wentworth.
I have had the opportunity to discuss these initiatives with Grant Hopcroft, the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. I am pleased to recognize Mr Hopcroft in the east gallery. The association has forwarded a list of representatives to sit on the consultation committee. We are also inviting the Ontario Press Council, the Ontario School Trustees’ Council and the Law Society of Upper Canada to be represented on the committee.
These initiatives and the new freedom of information legislation for municipalities, which takes effect next year, have one goal: to ensure that the level of government that is closest to the people is as open, as well understood and as accountable, as possible.
Hon Mr Sorbara: It is my pleasure to inform the members of the House that the last full week of April will be known this year and in future as National Consumer Week. This year the dates are 23 April to 29 April. This marks the inauguration of this event on a national scale, co-ordinated by consumer affairs departments in the provinces, the territories and, of course, the federal government.
This year’s theme is “Team up for a stronger marketplace! Business, consumers and government.” It is a message that demonstrates just how the marketplace works and recognizes the important part played by everyone in obtaining an open and fair marketplace.
Les célébrations de 1990 se dérouleront autour du theme «Faisons équipe pour un marché dynamique : consommateurs, entreprises, gouvernements». II s’agit alors d’un message qui montre bien à quel point les forces vives de l’économie sont à l’oeuvre et reconnaissent l’importance du rôle que chacun joue en faveur d’un marché ouvert et equitable.
In proclaiming National Consumer Week, I am pleased to have representatives of the Ontario branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce joining us in recognizing this event. I would refer members of the House to the gallery. Joining us today are Joan Huzar, president of the Ontario wing of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, and Linda Matthews, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
It is significant that we begin a national consumer awareness effort in the year designated as International Year of Literacy. With an estimated five million Canadians considered functionally illiterate, my ministry is even more conscious of the enormous number of vulnerable consumers who need to be informed and educated in special ways to function adequately in today’s marketplace. To do the job, we look to the support of all members and the help of such organizations as are represented here today.
Finally, it is also my pleasure to invite all members to join me and representatives of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in room 113 following question period for a reception which will be for the celebration of National Consumer Week. As I said, members of the two associations will be there, along with other associations representing the groups that our ministry works with.
I should say to the minister first of all that I am surprised and disappointed that on page 12 of the background document the paper would say: “Some concerns not addressed in this paper include: What conflict-of-interest rules if any should apply to municipal staff?” and “Should the act cover other benefits besides money?”
I find it incomprehensible that the government would be talking about a coherent approach to the conflicts of interest within a municipality without being able to answer clearly in the affirmative what conflict-of-interest rules, if any, should apply to municipal staff. It is difficult for me to understand, for example, how somebody who has a role in planning or in development would not be clearly covered by conflict-of-interest rules and guidelines with respect to his advice and participation. I find it incomprehensible that this would not be seen as a critical area for public policy.
Mr B. Rae: My colleague the member for Scarborough West, in his inimitable fashion, says, “Should it refer to refrigerators?” The point is, of course, it needs to refer to any benefit that is being transferred to an individual or to any benefit that an individual might receive.
I think the government has to understand the questions we have raised in this House over the last number of years on this very critical question of conflict of interest. The major issues that have been raised by the way in which decisions have been taken in certain municipalities and the extraordinary pressure that is brought to bear on municipalities by the development process itself and by the development industry have got to be understood. We have to have laws to provide that protection and to build that protection into our decision-making process.
You do not have to be a genius to understand that in southern Ontario in the last decade we have seen one of the greatest building and expansion booms in our history. I would say there has never been a time in Canadian history when a boom of this kind has not been accompanied by potential and real conflicts of interest. Anybody who reads Canadian history would understand that is the temptation that is there, that is the process that is there. We are dealing with human beings, and that is the problem we face.
We have faced this problem in a major way in the greater Toronto area in the last few years, but that is not alone. We have faced problems with respect to the financing of municipal election campaigns. We have to come to terms with the fact that the reality of municipal politics today is that the financing of municipal politics is controlled basically, in a majority sense, by one industry and one industry alone, and that is the one industry that stands to benefit by decisions that are taken at the municipal level. We have to clean up that process, we have to clean up that financing and we have to ensure that the laws are in place which guarantee that the public interest is protected.
This government has consistently stonewalled the idea of a serious public inquiry which would deal with the adequacy of municipal conflict of interest, which would deal with the adequacy of the Planning Act and which would deal with the adequacy of regional government as to whether it is strong enough and capable enough to deal with the degree of development that is taking place.
The kinds of things that have taken place in communities in this area and across the province can be protected against, but only if the government has the determination to do it. I do not think this discussion paper reveals a sufficient determination on the part of government, and we want to see action taken now. We still want to see that public inquiry put in place.
Mr Sterling: At the outset, in talking about municipal conflict of interest and about the freedom of information laws, which have now been passed and which will come into effect at our municipal level, I would like to say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the province of Ontario has been an abysmal failure. It is now harder to obtain information from the Ontario government than it was before that act was passed. We wait longer for information than was the case before the freedom of information act was passed.
I do hope that the act which was passed by this Legislature for municipalities will be respected by the municipalities when put into place and implemented. This government has used the freedom of information act for the province as a stalling tactic to the opposition, to the members of the press and to the members of the public who want to get information. It is almost routine that the response from every ministry, when you ask for a piece of information, is a request for an extension of the time to respond. The response you get almost always requires further correspondence. Civil servants, on the instructions of the ministers of this government, are using it as a secrecy act.
Secondly, with regard to the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act, which governs this Legislative Assembly and members of the cabinet of Ontario, to my knowledge, there has not been one reference of conflict of interest to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner in this province under our act, the reason being that every MPP in this Legislature knows that the act is a shield for the government in the way that the act was constructed by this government. In other words, if you bring a complaint to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, then before you submit your application for a review, you can bank on him whitewashing what the government will do, because the government has constructed the legislation in such a manner that it is a whitewash.
If you refer a matter to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and he comes back with either a negative or a positive answer, the legislation forbids a committee of this Legislature to look into that matter after the Conflict of Interest Commissioner has looked at it. No other piece of legislation in the province has ever forbidden a committee of the Legislature to look at a matter that is of concern to the citizens of Ontario.
I only hope that the minister, when he looks at the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, will construct a reasonable and meaningful piece of legislation, a piece of legislation which will in fact protect the public.
Mr Sterling: If I can speak over the interjections of the Attorney General, who is chagrined that I have brought these matters to light at this time -- the press knows those two provincial acts are a farce -- I only hope that the minister will in fact make meaningful pieces of legislation with regard to the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when it is brought to this House.
Mr Cousens: I just wish the government would listen to the member for Carleton, because he has some good advice for them. I would like to compliment the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations for finally recognizing consumers with National Consumer Week. Maybe at this point this government could do something to recognize the role played by our agricultural community in producing the food we eat and help it produce more at good prices.
Maybe the government could do something about the interest rates. If we are going to buy something and we have to borrow money -- I know we have to borrow money -- what is the government doing to help bring interest rates down? If it is going to be consumer week and the government wants to get buyers out there doing something, then it should help do something so the people can afford it without having to pay taxes and pay high interest. Let’s do something together with the federal government and do something to improve it.
If the government wants consumer week, let’s have Sunday as a day off instead of having a law that is not working. Here the government is saying, “Let’s support the consumers,” yet its laws and what it is doing are making a mess of this province.
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Housing. The minister received a 12-point action plan from the Basic Poverty Action Group, which has been organized to try to bring the world of poverty and food banks to an end. The first four points dealt specifically with housing, talking about the need for a commitment to new housing, a housing-first policy for all provincially owned land, protection of existing affordable housing and bringing in a land speculation tax.
When the minister received that from Rev Bill Major, executive director of the Downtown Churchworkers Association, he said to the good reverend, “The issues which you identified in your letter are not directly within my mandate.” I want to ask the minister how he could deny that recognition of housing as a basic social right in this province is an essential part of his mandate. Why would he be trying to get out from under that most important obligation of his?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My recollection of my response with respect to that particular phraseology referred to the other parts of the letter, and certainly not to the housing components. The honourable member will be well aware of the fact that I have met with the Metropolitan Toronto coalition on a number of occasions for different reasons and have clearly indicated what this province is involved in with respect to non-profit housing, the use of government lands, affordable housing being built on those lands and the allocations we have made for co-op housing, municipal non-profit and private non-profit. All of those are clearly within my mandate, and I have discussed them with the coalition.
Mr B. Rae: If the Seaton plan is any indication of where this government is going when it comes to affordable housing, then I can say the government has clearly abandoned its obligations with respect to affordable housing. That is obvious; that is perfectly obvious.
I have a specific question to ask the minister. There are 71,000 people, or at least 41,000 households, now on the waiting list for financially assisted housing across the province. The vacancy rate across the province is 0.8 per cent, or four fifths of one per cent. We still have no commitment from this government in terms of the extension of the Homes Now program. Can the minister stand in his place today and give us a commitment that there will be new moneys available for the Homes Now program extending past 1993 so we will have new supply coming on stream well into the I 990s?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member rightly indicates the waiting list, but he ignores the fact that over the last four and a half years of this government we have put in excess of 60,000 affordable units on the market and that the other 30,000 of Homes Now are currently in process. Granted, a relatively small percentage is actually complete and in operation, but the bulk of it by far, I think, with the exception of about 2,000 units, has been allocated and is either under construction or under way in some form right at the present time. That will give us 90,000 units in this province by the year 1992-93, as against the 70,000 figure he mentioned, and correctly mentioned that particular figure.
With respect to Seaton, the honourable member will be well aware of the fact that when I announced that particular project I indicated there would be a significant affordable component. At the present time, all the provincial pieces of land we have put on the market have had in excess of a 50 per cent to 60 per cent affordable component. Seaton will be no less than that.
Mr B. Rae: The fact remains that when it comes to financially assisted housing in the province there is still an enormous, incredible waiting list. The minister knows it and every member in this House knows it, even in terms of the case work that each of us has to do.
My final question to the minister is this: He will know, because I am sure he has met with the Basic Poverty Action Group about this particular issue, that as a result of the Rupert Hotel fire in this city just a few short weeks ago there has grown a movement of people determined to effect a conversion of those buildings and rooming houses into non-profit and co-operative buildings. They will be operated on a non-profit basis so that we will be able to maintain standards and be able to ensure the safety of people who are living in rooming houses.
The last time the minister met with these groups, I understand, he told them there were no funds available for such conversions. I want to ask the minister today, can he stand in his place and ensure that people who are living close to homelessness, who are being affected by speculation in the downtown cores of many of our cities across this province, will be able to live in a place that is decent and that is not run on the basis of speculation but is run on a non-profit basis?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member may very well be able to say that we are not allocating sufficient resources, but let me share with him, as I have shared with his colleague before, that when this government took office, the total allocation for supported housing in Ontario was $140 million. Today it is $340 million, and by the end of 1992-93 it will be $900 million. That is almost a fivefold increase. So the member can clearly indicate that we may not be doing enough, but he cannot say that we are not doing a very significant amount. I can also point out, as I have also told his colleague, that we are doing more in Ontario than all of the rest of Canada put together.
The other point I would make to the honourable member is that I have met with representatives of the Rupert Hotel Coalition and I have clearly indicated to them that we are prepared to work with them. I have assigned a member of my staff to work with their committee, to involve them in all of the resources that are available. I have indicated that the non-profit allocations and commitments that we are making to the Metro area can be used for this purpose. I have also indicated that we can use our low-rise rehabilitation program for that purpose. I have also indicated that we can use our convert-to-rent program for that purpose.
Mrs Grier: My questions are for the Minister of the Environment and they are about soft drink containers. Yesterday the minister confirmed that the major emphasis of his waste management policy was recycling and that the major prop in that policy was the blue box system. We know that when the ministry made a deal in 1985 with the soft drink industry that had it contributing to blue boxes, part of that arrangement was that soft drinks could be sold in aluminium cans. Since then, aluminium cans have generated about 42 per cent of the revenue from the blue box program. We have today received confirmation from the Recycling Council of Ontario that Coca-Cola, which is the major user of aluminium cans, is very likely in 1991 to switch back to steel cans. This means that half the revenue from the blue box program is gone.
Can the minister confirm on behalf of his government, seeing that this program is such a major plank in its policy, that if that revenue shortfall occurs there will be a commitment to make up the revenue from the ministry, not on the backs of the municipalities?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member has been waiting, I think, for about three years for an opportunity to attack the blue box program in Ontario. But the outstanding success of the blue box program has not allowed her to do so over that period of time, and the growing success --
Hon Mr Bradley: The member can get involved in dogma. The member can get involved in what she considers to be purity. What we are dealing with in this program is attempting to get as much of the material that would go either to incinerators or to landfills into those blue boxes. In fact, that is exactly what is happening.
What the member is talking about is approximately one per cent of the waste stream that is going into the blue box but, in addition to that, for household waste we also have another 13 per cent. So you are getting 14 times what you would otherwise get. In other words, we have a practical program that people from around the world are looking at -- people who have tried other methods of dealing with waste and have abandoned them or are about to abandon them because they see the results we are getting. That is what we really have to look at in Ontario:
Mrs Grier: I suspect the minister would have been dreadfully disappointed if I had not asked the question and allowed him to get that off his chest. It was obvious he had been practising it for quite some time.
I have never attacked the blue box program. I have attacked a government that has one policy, recycling, and is content with a target of 14 per cent reduction in garbage instead of looking at reusing and reducing before it starts to recycle.
The minister announced in February, with the usual fanfare, that the grocery industry had come aboard the blue box program and Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc 2 was going to have a major contribution from the grocery industry. Can the minister tell the House whether his cave-in on the question of refillable bottles was in any way connected to that contribution and commitment from the grocery industry?
Hon Mr Bradley: The contribution, or the OMMRI 2 process, has been in discussion for a period of time, because the member, I remember, asked in the standing committee on estimates about this, whether we were going to have an OMMRI 2, and I indicated we would. Of course, there were a number of parties, including the newspapers of the province, that made major contributions, and others who made a contribution. We would expect that many more people are going to be coming on line making a contribution because of the fact that they are producing substances that ultimately --
What I find interesting about the other subject is, I can recall when there was an issue going on whether aluminium cans would be allowed in the box or would not be allowed in the blue box, but the members from Hamilton were extremely concerned about this because of the jobs in Hamilton. In fact, there was a provision in the beginning that aluminium cans could not even come on stream. Now the member is telling me -- and I would be interested because I know the member for Hamilton East works hard on behalf of his constituents and he is a strong supporter of an industry which is so important to his community. I know very well that he would be speaking on their behalf. So I am interested to hear why the member would now be looking with chagrin –
Mrs Grier: Suffice it to say that the minister’s verbosity is designed to cover up the fact that his policy is totally dependent on the whim of a single industry, and if that industry pulls out, the blue box program is going to collapse and he is desperate to keep it going, at least until after the next election.
If this program is so wonderful and so widely accepted and so widely copied, can the minister explain and can he tell us what response he has made to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the municipalities being the agencies that implement the blue box program? At the AMO convention last August, no less than three resolutions were passed resolving that the provincial government be urged to put a refundable deposit on beverage containers, that a refundable deposit fee be instigated and that the government should prohibit the sale of non-returnable drink containers.
Hon Mr Bradley: I find it interesting, because on the Recycling Advisory Committee, which made a unanimous recommendation to me on this -- that is where this came from -- the latest development is it said, in effect, you should put the emphasis where it is practical; that is, you cannot tell people how much they are going to sell but you can tell them what they must make available for sale, and that is the emphasis. There are municipal representatives on the Recycling Advisory Committee, there are environmental representatives on that, there are representatives from a wide field on that. They are the ones who recommended it to me.
I ask the member, when she is talking about the blue box program, is she going to scrap the blue box program in Ontario? Is that what she is telling the people of this province? I do not think so. I can tell the member that, overall, our recycling efforts will have close to $55 million in this particular year. While we have achieved 14 per cent of household wastes now, our goals overall are 25 per cent by 1992 and 50 per cent by the year 2000. Those goals have in fact been adopted by environment ministers across Canada, so what the member is attacking is the best recycling program in North America.
Mr Brandt: I am almost encouraged to ask the Attorney General a question, he is in such a spirited mood, and perhaps I will. Since the Attorney General is so anxious to participate in the debate, I wonder if the Attorney General could indicate whether he has had an opportunity to look at a six-point program of recommendations that I made with respect to the Houlden inquiry, six points that I suggested to the government, through the Premier, that may be an adequate response to the problem that developed with respect to the Houlden inquiry and the Supreme Court decision.
If in fact he has reviewed the six suggestions put forward, would he specifically respond to suggestion 3, which relates to the disposition of the evidence in the Houlden inquiry? Could he indicate to this House where that evidence is at the present time and who in fact has access to the evidence that was brought from the Houlden inquiry?
Mr Brandt: If I might, going back to the problem that arises as a result of the Supreme Court decision, the Houlden inquiry has been determined by the Supreme Court to be disallowed as a result of the complications which we have in fact discussed in this House. It is the view of my party and of many people outside of this Legislative Assembly that in fact another response, in addition to the OPP investigation, is necessary in order to get to some of the very substantive issues that were being reviewed during the course of that inquiry. Is it the intention of the government of Ontario to do anything other than to hope this problem simply goes away, or is the Attorney General prepared to take any action along the lines of the six recommendations that I made?
Hon Mr Scott: As I have said to the honourable member on a number of occasions, the problem that is presented by the Supreme Court of Canada decision -- and I think we had better understand that the Supreme Court of Canada decision changed the law with respect to royal commission inquiries in Canada -- is that it will be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to conduct, under whatever terms of reference used, a criminal investigation in which allegedly accused persons have certain rights not to incriminate themselves at the same time as you conduct an investigation by royal commission in which there is no such protection. That is the dilemma the Supreme Court of Canada sought to grapple with.
At the present time, as the honourable member knows, a joint OPP-Metropolitan Toronto Police Force, I think, task force is engaged in examining questions of criminality that were before that commission. It has been ongoing for some time.
When the police make their report, we will be able to determine whether charges will be laid. If charges are laid, I have undertaken to the House on more than one occasion that they will be prosecuted as effectively and as vigorously and as quickly as we can possibly do so.
Mr Brandt: I would like to direct my second question to the Premier. The Premier is aware, I believe, that the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health held a press conference in which it pointed out very directly to the government that what I have been saying over the course of the past few days is correct, that there are some 10,000 children who are on waiting lists waiting for services that would be provided by a large number of agencies that provide assistance to these children, that the waiting list is running anywhere from six months to two years and that the problem is becoming increasingly critical.
Can the Premier indicate whether he is prepared to respond to the request on the part of the alliance that some immediate assistance be provided by the government to overcome the difficulties and the problems that are related to this lengthy and completely unreasonable waiting list for children’s mental health services?
Hon Mr Beer: I am aware of the press conference that was held today by the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health, and certainly I am aware of the remarks which my honourable friend and others made last week in the debate which was held in the Legislature. I would like to set out for the honourable leader of the third party a number of specific things that are ongoing which are intended to address the specific points made in the press conference. I also want to underline that I think it is important to understand the focus that we take on this issue. That focus is a somewhat broader one than specifically the problems in the children’s mental health area, but looking at it more from the focus of the children’s services sector.
There are real issues. The member raised them in his comments last week, as did members on both sides of the House, and we are not for a moment saying that those are not there. That is one of the reasons why in February I met with the executive of the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres, to look at some specific things that we could do in the short term, as well as talk to them about the Advisory Committee on Children’s Services under Dr Cohn Maloney, which is very hard at work and will be reporting to me in June with some specific proposals around where we go in the future. Now, we take it as being very --
Mr Brandt: Over 1,500 professionals are appealing to the government to respond quickly, immediately, because of the urgency of this particular problem. In the past, on other days in which we have engaged in a discussion on this same question, the minister has responded by saying that Canada assistance plan funding at the federal level has been reduced. The result of that is that there are fewer dollars available for these kinds of programs.
The minister is well aware that CAP disallows expenditures in this particular field. The responsibility is in fact provincial and the programs that they are asking be expanded or improved upon in order to reduce those waiting lists are a provincial responsibility.
Mr Brandt: The minister has constantly talked about reports that are to come, that will clear up the problem. The delays can no longer be allowed. I appeal to the minister, on the basis of the critical nature of the waiting lists --
Hon Mr Beer: I am afraid that the honourable leader of the third party is simply wrong in the first assertion that he makes in his question. I would point out that out of the some $165 million which we spent on children’s mental health centre programs and the centres themselves last year, some $35 million was recovered under the Canada assistance plan.
As the honourable member knows, that program has been capped at five per cent, and just two weeks ago I undertook, and have since done, to provide a five and a half per cent increase to all of our agencies, including children’s mental health centres, which was an increase over what had been announced earlier. That was an immediate $20 million that was being added to the system of the agencies within the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
What we have said is that all of the initiatives we will be taking this year -- and these are specific things that we are dealing with now in terms of the salaries of front-line workers and in terms of the waiting list where I have people working full-time with the association on that particular difficulty. But I would again remind the honourable member that a number of the examples he has cited are ones, in terms of individual cases, that can be dealt with as well by other parts of the children’s services sector, whether it is the children’s aid societies or the family service associations. We have to keep in mind that this is a --
Stephen Lewis, who I do not frequently quote in this House, Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations, indicates that conditions for children who are in need of mental health treatment in Ontario are so bad that Ontario most likely does not comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Here we have the richest and largest province in the entire country in a position where our former ambassador to the United Nations has made, I think, a very insightful and very accurate observation, that our services for children who are in need of mental health treatment are totally inadequate. Does the minister think that is the kind of judgement he can accept on the part of his government, that we do not even come up to the standards established for some Third World countries in terms of mental health programs for children?
Hon Mr Beer: No, I do not accept that. I would put our programs, the range and the gamut of programs in this province, against any other province in this country. We have, over the last four or five years, made significant inputs into the programs that we have, in developing and funding them. That does not mean that we cannot make more progress, but we have to understand that we have a very, very good system which we are seeking to make better.
I think, as I have said before, that with the thrust of our programs, with the work of the advisory committee, those will become better, but the reason that I continually raise the federal government’s role in this is that the increase in these programs will be completely dependent on what the province puts in, whereas in the past those programs have been under the shared-cost emphasis of the Canada assistance plan. The $35 million that we got last year from the federal government is what we will get.
He may praise the system to the skies, but I wonder what he says about Michael Doesburg, who is 13 years old and suicidal. Last November, when they were searching for a children’s mental health setting to have him looked after appropriately, he was admitted to Whitby Psychiatric Hospital, where he was supposed to stay for one month. He ended up there for four months with only custodial care assessment -- no treatment. They tried to find places at C. M. Hincks Treatment Centre, the Hospital for Sick Children, the Children’s Psychiatric Research Institute in London and Placement House, which is one of the minister’s special services units. No luck. He is now at Thistletown Regional Centre for Children and Adolescents waiting for placement. He is drugged like a zombie, his parents say he is getting no treatment whatever and he is waiting now for an appointment a week from now with Hincks to determine what? Whether he will even get on a waiting list?
Hon Mr Beer: I think a number of examples, such as that, which have been brought to my attention and to that of other members, are ones that are not acceptable and are not things that we want to see in our system. That is precisely why we have moved, in working with the association, to look at the specific question of waiting lists and, equally important, to see whether there are individual young people on those lists who could be assisted in other ways within the community so that the children’s mental health centres can deal most effectively with those kids who are most at risk and most in need. That is why, within my own ministry, I have taken on a specific person who will be working on that issue and that issue alone. That is to try to deal with the immediate short run. In addition, as we look at changes in terms of funding for the base programs and other ways that we can help in terms of staffing, I believe we will be able to do that, and that will assist us as we go down the road.
Mr Allen: It would appear that the minister has not seen, for example, the Windsor list, even a partial list of the children awaiting mental health services: a three-year-old traumatized by a house fire in which a relative was trapped inside, preoccupied with morbid or disastrous events and acting-out confusion daily; bizarre behaviours of a five-year-old -- indiscriminate urinating, destructive, fire setting, sleep disturbances, witnesses extreme violence of mother in the company of relationships with abusive men; uncontrollable nine-year-old -- steals, lies, screams, kicks, will not obey rules, has poor peer relations, tried to strangle younger sister with a towel -- and on it goes.
These are, as I read the list, children who can be dealt with in less intrusive arrangements and other community settings than children’s mental health centres. There used to be a universal right of access to treatment in legislation in this province for children and their families in these circumstances.
Hon Mr Beer: I think that we have set out in the Child and Family Services Act specific proposals around children’s mental health. Let me go back again, though, to the fundamental question around the waiting lists and one of the issues that we are dealing with the association on, which is in terms of those who are on those lists -- and I am not saying that I cannot deal specifically with the ones the honourable member has raised -- where we have said that there are those on the lists who in fact could be dealt with by other parts of the children’s services sector.
I think one of the ways that we can deal with that list is having a better way of determining where is the best place for the different individuals on that list. Indeed, we need to continue to improve that system, and that is precisely why we have put in place some of these other changes and raised and increased the budgets. But I think that if we focus only on the children’s mental health centres per se, we are not going to deal effectively with the overall sector in ensuring that all children’s need are met and that that sector is indeed properly funded.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. It is not just the young kids we are worried about today; it is the elderly as well. As the minister knows, we do not have regulations or guidelines from this government around the rest home situation. I know also that we have got some 30,000 or 40,000 people in these special homes. Some of them are being abused. We have read the stories in the last couple of months and we are not happy about it.
More recently, the report on the regulation of residential care facilities from his own advisory committee made some pretty strong recommendations for regulations, as did the response by the rest home committee of the Ontario Long Term Residential Care Association in response to his own government.
Given that all of us are having a lot of problems out there in our communities, and there has been in fact this response to his own report, is the minister prepared to tell us today in this House exactly when we will be able to look forward to those guidelines and regulations?
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member points out, there has been a great deal of discussion around the issue of abuse. The specific instance of elderly persons and the whole question of rest homes has been one which, up until this point in time, has been dealt with primarily through local bylaws. We as well have been concerned about this and how that area is regulated.
The member has indicated a number of reports that have come forward. We believe that one way we are going to be able to help in improving that is under the long-term care plan, which will provide a better means of assessing and placing people, but we recognize that there would be still be an issue in terms of how exactly to help people who are in those situations. I am looking at those recommendations, together with my colleague the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs, and will be coming forward at the appropriate time with specific proposals on that.
Mrs Cunningham: My supplementary has to do with the words “the appropriate time.” Some of us have been around a lot longer than we like to admit, and this report was made in 1986 by my predecessor, Ron Van Horne. That is longer ago than some members want to remember. Those were the recommendations five years ago. Let’s face it, we know that we have a hodgepodge of regulations out there, sometimes enforced by municipalities and sometimes not. It is not new. We have an aging population. We do not want to institutionalize them. We have a nice setting in rest homes. We know it is something we should be supporting. The minister talks about community-based care -- let’s do it.
Hon Mr Beer: The member will be seeing the long-term care initiative, I think, emerging very clearly as we proceed through this year. The document we have mentioned, the strategic document, will be released very, very shortly, within the next several weeks. That will, I think, provide a good indication of the areas we are intending to act on.
Specifically, around the question of elder abuse and our concerns about that, I think we are concerned about abuse across the board. Indeed, at this point in time, in terms of all our programs, I am looking at how we most effectively ensure the security of young people and seniors or anybody who is in our care. I believe that as we go forward with long-term care and these other programs, we will be able to address specifically the questions that the member raises.
Mr Adams: My question is for the minister responsible for native affairs. The minister has, as I have, constituents who are native persons who live and work in his riding; that is to say, off-reserve. I know that the minister realizes that native people who work off the reserve pay both federal and provincial taxes. What services do these native people get for their provincial tax payment, bearing in mind that the federal government reimburses the province for native education, health and social service costs?
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member undoubtedly knows, because he is conversant with native affairs matters, that until 1985 the view of the government of Ontario was that if it was on-reserve it was federal and if it was off-reserve it was provincial.
Since 1985 -- that was the year of change in Ontario -- the view of the government of Ontario on native affairs matters has been different. We have begun to acknowledge the unfairness of discriminating against residents of Ontario even if they live on-reserve. Supported by the federal government, often in cost-shared programs, we provide a wide range of services to Indian people who live on-reserve, whether they work on the reserve or not. I do not know whether the honourable member wants a list of those now or will wait, but on the assumption that the Speaker is busy and I can go on a little while, I can tell him that we of course provide on-reserve policing services, we provide --
Hon Mr Scott: -- social services to adults and children, we provide a wide range of health care services, we provide employment and training, tourism and recreation and economic development services and education services.
The leader of the third party thinks I have this list just for today. I am so proud of the contribution that we make in this very difficult field where much remains to be done that I have it with me always.
Mr Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. In view of the fact that he is going to be visiting Sault Ste Marie in the near future -- tomorrow -- can the minister inform the House as to whether or not he intends, during his time in the Sault, to visit the Family Services Centre? If he is, what assurances does he intend to give the centre that it will get the funding it requires in order to allow it to service the community and provide the programs of marital and family violence counselling for which it has a mandate?
Hon Mr Beer: The reason for my visit tomorrow is specifically to address a meeting that is bringing together those from across the north, parents of handicapped young people, and to look at various programs that we and they have and how they can be improved, particularly in the north. I will be meeting with a number of other groups during the day.
I can certainly tell the member that with respect to that specific issue, I know that we have been working with them on it. I do not have a specific answer at this point in time, but I will certainly ensure that, before I go up, I am briefed as to precisely where it is at and make sure to share with the honourable member the results of that information.
I want to ask the minister specifically about the situation at the Family Services Centre in that Mr Rivard, the director, announced earlier this week that the centre is closing intake for family and marriage counselling because it has a 12-month waiting list for services. I wonder what the minister intends to do to ensure that this centre gets the funding it needs to be able to provide the counselling that is obviously badly needed in the Sault and area.
Hon Mr Beer: I know that a number of our agencies, as we have been discussing earlier in the session today, face difficulties around the growing demand for services and the resources that are available to meet those. I can tell the honourable member that I will review that specific situation. I think that what we are always trying to find here is a balance to ensure that we can provide services in the north that are similar and comparable to those in the south. Sometimes it does not work out as well as it ought to. I appreciate that this is an important service that is provided and I will review the situation and report back to the honourable member.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Last week I asked the honourable minister what his top three priorities were for the transportation development plans in the greater Toronto area, because it is urgent that we get on with these projects and begin to solve the crisis in transportation that we have in the greater Toronto area. He indicated that he had an implementation committee that will establish what the priorities are.
I asked the minister what the top three priorities were and he was not able to tell us last week. But he did indicate that there is going to be a special implementation committee set up within 10 days to begin that process. Ten days have now passed. Has he named the committee, who is on the committee and when it is going to meet?
Hon Mr Wrye: I am just so delighted that my friend asked me that question. The first meeting of the transportation implementation committee started one hour and 22 minutes ago and will go on for about another half an hour.
The committee will be meeting regularly under the chairmanship of my deputy minister. It contains the senior administrative leadership of GO Transit, the Toronto Transit Commission and all the regions of Metropolitan Toronto. There were about 15 individuals in the room, plus two or three of my most senior officials. I spoke to them at the beginning of the meeting and will be kept advised as to their progress.
Mr Cousens: Very often I have great problems when we call it question period because I never get an answer. Today I got an answer, so I compliment the minister. I am not used to any answers from these guys. It is an urgent priority that we get on with the task for the greater Toronto area transportation needs.
On this whole subject, the deputy minister for the greater Toronto area, Gardner Church, was quoted recently as saying that local municipalities will require some $30 billion over the next 20 years to support growth. We all know that good transportation, infrastructure and planning must precede growth, or you end up having the kind of congestion that we are seeing now in the areas outlying Toronto itself. So we need a blueprint for growth that must include transportation planning.
I want to ask the minister what role Mr Church and his office are playing in the setting up of transit priorities for the greater Toronto area, so that we can begin to see how this additional $30 billion is going to be spent.
Hon Mr Wrye: This is another question I am just delighted to answer. I am sure my friend the minister responsible for the greater Toronto area will not mind if I outline a little bit about Mr Church’s responsibilities and how we are dovetailing transportation initiatives into them.
Mr Church is involved in looking at the longer-term issues in terms of the GTA and in developing exactly the kind of blueprint for the orderly growth of this very dynamic region. Those matters are going forward and the report will be completed within the next several months to a year.
We are completely involved in all of that planning, because transportation is such an important component of that initiative. We are involved at the deputy minister level and at the assistant deputy minister level with our most senior officials. I can assure the honourable member that what he saw was for the short-term and medium-term initiatives to keep Toronto and the greater Toronto area moving, keep it livable and make it the kind of place that we are all so proud of even today.
The longer-term initiatives will come forward, and I assure the honourable member that, under the leadership of the Premier and the Treasurer, and with my good friend the minister responsible for the greater Toronto area, the long-term vision will make the greater Toronto area the place in North America well into the next century.
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is to the Minister of Labour. In March 1987 a very serious chemical fire took place in Kitchener. Since that time one firefighter who was at the scene has died of cancer, and a dozen police and firemen who were at the scene have developed some form of marrow bone cancer, liver disease or kidney disease.
According to our 1987 amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, in October 1990 additional provisions dealing with the reporting of hazardous chemicals to medical officers of health and fire departments will come into effect. But I understand that there is a further amendment in Bill 208 which could weaken the measures brought forward under the previous changes in the bill because section 17 requires that the inventory and material safety data sheets will be provided to local authorities only when requested.
Hon Mr Phillips: I appreciate the question from the member for Kitchener and I realize his intense interest in the matter. In this particular case, we are attempting to make the provision of the information more helpful to the fire departments and the medical officers of health. I think, as they looked at the provision that would require organizations to provide the data sheets as they come in on a regular basis, they were concerned they would be overwhelmed with paper.
What they have asked us to do is ensure that where they want the data, where they believe an organization should be providing the data or where they have any reason to suspect that they want the data, those data must be provided. But they have suggested to us that, rather than it being helpful to improving the service for their employees and for the public to get all the data all the time, they would prefer to get the data as they request them.
I might also add that where the Ministry of Labour inspectors believe the data are required by the fire department and the medical officer of health and they have not been requested, we can require that those data be provided. But it is our hope and intention that this amendment will be more helpful to medical officers of health and fire departments and more useful in terms of their being able to deal better with their employees and the public.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I accept that the minister’s motives and my own are identical, but I wonder if the minister, in the circumstances, would review that policy to make certain that the information available to medical officers of health and fire departments is as immediate and concise as possible.
Hon Mr Phillips: Again, as I said, we are responding to requests by both fire departments and medical officers of health, but I can assure the member that it is our intention that they have the required information. If, as we have our experience in dealing with this, there is a need to amend it, we certainly will consider that. We are attempting to respond to -- their request and the information that they believe would be most helpful to them. We will review that on an ongoing basis.
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. The minister recently announced with great fanfare a $5-billion package for subway and transit improvements in the Metropolitan Toronto area. It has been referred to earlier today. I am sure the minister is aware of the fantastic pressure on drivers travelling the Queen Elizabeth Way, in particular between Toronto and Hamilton.
The people of Hamilton would like to know when Hamilton will get its share of the funding and priorities so that we can deal with and step up the procedures in putting into place rapid transit right from downtown Toronto to downtown Hamilton and lessen some of this pressure. Can the minister report to us just what he is prepared to do?
Hon Mr Wrye: I am very glad that the honourable member asked that question. I am certainly very sensitive to the kind of traffic congestion that he talks about. I came in by car this week; I drove in myself on Monday afternoon. I will be going home on the QEW tomorrow morning and will certainly see the traffic along the QEW at first hand.
As I believe I indicated in the announcement, but certainly in some of the specifics, we have a series of initiatives on the Oakville west line of GO Transit which will see us begin some additional work. The Waterdown station begins later this year and will be completed in 1992. We are hopeful to get to Hamilton, to the new facilities, by 1992. I should tell the honourable member in that regard that the environmental assessment report is in and before the Minister of the Environment now. Some additional work on the Burlington station is beginning this year. There is a whole action planned for Oakville west.
As the member will know, part of the problem -- and we continue to work with the railways -- is that very congested rail corridor. One of the problems is that we have to lessen some of that congestion as we move to all-day service. The goal, and it will be met, is all-day service, peak and off-peak service, by the end of the decade all the way to Hamilton.
Mr Mackenzie: The minister has confirmed what we had Heard, that the environmental assessment is in on his desk. Can I ask him when the other interested parties are going to see that report, which is certainly something the people in Hamilton would like to see? Can I also ask him if it is not a fact that if the improvements are not started until next year, it will be 1995 before we will complete the construction into Hamilton? Even the terms of the assessment study can change in that period of time, so there is concern.
Hon Mr Wrye: Both the member and I would agree that there is always concern that we move ahead as quickly as possible. The environmental assessment report has gone to the Ministry of the Environment. Our work has been completed in that regard. I want to move ahead just as quickly as lean.
I am sure the honourable member will know from reading the paper that my good friend the member for Hamilton Centre has asked a number of questions in this House and has been most aggressive in ensuring that we move forward in our service to the Hamilton area.
With some of the work under way in the Burlington station and some of the work under way in Waterdown -- and I know it is not right into downtown Hamilton -- we are moving that way just as quickly as possible. We will have the Waterdown facility open by 1992. We will hopefully be able to move forward additional service into Hamilton throughout the decade, so well before the end of the decade we will have both peak and off-peak hours. The most difficult challenge will be the off-peak challenge. That is because of the volume of rail travel in the area, which the member I am sure knows is among the most congested, if not the most congested, in all of Canada.
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of Education. The minister knows that today 51 elementary schools in Ottawa under the Ottawa Board of Education were vacated by some 1,300 teachers, who are on strike since provincial mediation failed last night. I was informed that the schools have asked the students to come to the schools, which are still open, but they have indicated to parents of disabled children that they should not bring their children to the schools. I would like the minister to comment on the legality of the schools discriminating against this one set of individuals versus the students who are normal and not handicapped.
Hon Mr Conway: I thank the honourable member for his question. I might add that my own colleagues on this side of the aisle from the national capital area have also communicated their concern about the situation within the Ottawa public school board.
As the honourable member will know, thanks to his government we have legislation that governs the relationship between school boards and their various teacher organizations. That process is in place here for the situation in Ottawa. I am very hopeful that under the aegis of the Education Relations Commission this situation in Ottawa will be resolved as soon as possible in the interests of the students. I would fully expect that both parties, the board and the teacher representatives, would want to work very closely with the ERC to bring about a speedy resolution to this particular dispute.
Mr Sterling: Thanks to our government as well, there are certain rights granted to handicapped or disabled children. It seems to me that the parents of disabled children probably require the services of the school to care for their children when both parents are working perhaps more than the parents of children who are not disabled. I understand that the schools have not been closed and that this process has to be started, was started this morning, to close those schools. The schools are open.
I understand Bill 82 guarantees the parents of disabled children the right to take their children to the schools. How is the minister going to enforce that law and make certain that the bill which was passed by the former government, which guaranteed disabled children the right of access to those classrooms, is going to be enforced? What is the minister going to do to enforce it?
Hon Mr Conway: I will give the honourable member the assurance that the provisions of Bill 100, which govern these relationships, will be at work in Ottawa. It is my view that both parties will and must accept their responsibilities under that particular statute. The Education Relations Commission will monitor the development and will certainly advise me as to the situation, and I fully expect that the school board and the teacher leadership will discharge their responsibilities under that particular act of this Legislature and that both parties will be animated by the very best interests of all students concerned.
Mr Brandt: I am pleased to table a petition signed by approximately 1,100 residents from the Ajax-Pickering area, asking that the government keep its commitment to provide additional hospital beds for the Ajax and Pickering General Hospital.
“Whereas the Peterson Liberal government has decided to charge drivers in greater Metropolitan Toronto $90 per year for a car licence plate while at the same time only charging residents in other parts of Ontario $33 per year for identical licence plates;
“Whereas the same Peterson government has, in this year’s budget, imposed other taxes and levies on the people and businesses of greater Metropolitan Toronto which will not be imposed on those in other parts of Ontario;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to express to the Liberal government our great disapproval of its policies of tax discrimination against the people of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area.”
M. Poirier : J’ai deux pétitions : une première du Comité de parents et enseignants de Casselman demandant à l’Assemblée législative d’accorder la première priorité pour la reconstruction de l’école à Casselman ; et une deuxième pétition de l’Association des parents et enseignants de Saint-Viateur de Limoges demandant également que le ministre respecte la priorité numéro deux du Conseil des écoles catholiques de Prescott-Russell à voir à ce que leur école Saint-Viateur de Limoges soit reconstruite.
“While we respect the rights of minorities and youth, whom Bill 149 alleges to protect, we oppose the way in which the proposed legislation will erode the ability of owners and occupiers to provide a safe and hospitable environment for their patrons or customers.
Mr Haggerty: The purpose of the bill is to limit leases of public lands to 10-year terms, to prohibit the leasing of public lands to persons who are not Canadian citizens or corporations that are not Canadian-controlled, and to prohibit leases of public lands that would restrict local residents’ access to a body of water.
Mr Haggerty: The purpose of the bill is to provide a low-cost mechanism by which a non-unionized worker may obtain a review by the Ontario Labour Relations Board if the worker is discharged or otherwise disciplined for cause. At the present time a non-unionized worker who is dismissed or otherwise disciplined for cause may have no right of action against this or his employer, despite the fact that the discipline, having regard to all the circumstances, may be unduly harsh. This follows the Charter of Rights.
The bill provides a two-stage process for reviewing complaints involving unduly harsh discipline. Initially a labour relations officer would be appointed to effect a settlement that would be reduced to writing and would have to be complied with according to its terms. If no settlement is reached or if a settlement is not likely, the Ontario Labour Relations Board would inquire into the matter. The board, if satisfied that the complaint is justified, would have the power to make an order substituting such penalty as is just and reasonable in the circumstances.
Mr Kormos: Thank you very much, once again, Mr Speaker. There are so many motions currently before us, motion on top of motion on top of motion, that to avoid confusion, I guess mostly for my own benefit, about which matter we are debating here -- we know we are not debating Bill 68, and that is clear, because the government does not want to debate Bill 68, so the government moved a motion, but then there is another motion on the floor too, the motion that was moved on 12 April by the Solicitor General, filling in for the government House leader, one of those siblings grim who we spoke about.
That motion said, “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; and that this order shall take precedence over any standing order or other special order.”
We in the opposition did not move that motion; the government House leader did, calling upon the Solicitor General to move that motion. We debated that motion back on Thursday 12 April. Members should remember this clearly, please. I dearly wanted to debate Bill 68. We are here to talk about legislation. I so much wanted to talk about the government’s insurance scheme and how bad it was, how flawed it was, how cruelly it treats taxpayers and drivers, and most sadly, innocent injured victims, but the government will not let us, the Liberals will not let us, because they brought a motion for time allocation. Even that motion for time allocation was interrupted on 12 April by this motion to extend the hours.
What it is important to understand is that the government, with its majority, unless the government is sensitive to the rights of the opposition, unless the government is sensitive to its obligation to make sure that the people of Ontario are represented here in this Legislative Assembly, then it just rewrites the rules day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, issue by issue.
Mr Kormos: One has a hard time avoiding becoming emotional, as has been pointed out, about this plethora of motions. So let’s not forget that not only do the Liberals not want to debate Bill 68, but they appeared last Thursday 12 April to be unwilling to even debate this time allocation motion, because they brought in this crazy motion to extend the hours of the House to midnight. I had some difficulty understanding why even the Liberals would want to bring in that motion. That is the one we have not finished arguing yet. It is the one that is still out there on the floor somewhere, floating around, waiting to be placed back on the orders of the day by the House leader.
Let’s get down to brass tacks here. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Let’s say what we mean and mean what we say. The Liberals could be talking about anything they wanted to right now at Queen’s Park. If they wanted to pass legislation -- Bill 208, any other number of pieces of legislation -- they could be placing that on the order list for the day and that would necessarily then have to be argued, have to be debated.
It is the Liberals who control the ordering of discussion and debate. It is the Liberals who very specifically are fleeing, running from any discussion of the auto insurance legislation they want to pass, and they want to pass it dearly. Why? The Liberals want to pass this bad auto insurance legislation because the auto insurance companies want them to pass it. It is as simple as that.
For the briefest of time they deflected attention away from auto insurance and how bad it is by bringing in this motion to extend the hours to midnight. As I say, I wondered why even they would bring in that kind of motion, and then I realized that the Liberals were well aware that people across Ontario are watching what is happening here at Queen’s Park on their cable television sets. They are watching their cable channels that broadcast the Queen’s Park debates.
The reason the Liberals tried last Thursday to extend the hours of the House was so that we would have to debate this into the late hours of the evening when a whole lot of the people, who would otherwise be able to watch what is happening, would have to be in bed because they work for their living. Unlike politicians, there are a whole lot of people out there who have to get up at five in the morning to get to the factory or to the mine or out into the fields where they are getting them ready for spring planting. There are farmers and factory workers and miners and business people, entrepreneurs, whose working day does not start at 9 or 9:30 or 10 in the morning, but rather whose working day starts at 5:30 and 6, and 6:30 and 7 in the morning.
These good people would not be able to watch what is going on here in this assembly, here in this chamber, if those hours were extended. These good people would be denied the opportunity to witness the obscenity that is being imposed on the public of Ontario here by virtue of the Liberals ramming Bill 68 through this Legislature.
I am prepared to argue that motion to extend the hours to midnight; I am prepared to argue that passionately. But as I say, what happened is that this is just one of the many motions that are floating around out here, because the other motion, the one we are talking about today, the one moved by the Liberal House leader -- you see, we would not have moved that motion because we want to debate Bill 68. We want to talk about the auto insurance legislation; the Liberals do not. To avoid talking about it they moved this motion that we are forced to debate right now.
That motion reads, “That, notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House, in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, two sessional days shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in committee of the whole House.”
When that motion says that, it does not really mean two days. You know as well as I do, Mr Speaker, that politicians have a pretty perverse sense of what a working day consists of. When this motion by the Liberals talks about two sessional days, they are really talking about two very short afternoons. They are talking about that period of time from around 3:15 or 3:30 in the afternoon until around six in the afternoon.
That is what a sessional day is to the Liberals who wrote this motion. That is what they wanted to restrict us to in discussion of Bill 68 and all those amendments that the Liberals were going to present in committee of the whole House, to clean up all the errors and drafting problems in Bill 68, and then the other 20 or so amendments that the Progressive Conservatives were going to present. There simply would not be enough time in that brief period of time in committee of the whole to even present the amendments.
One of the things that is important -- I will say this once again -- one of the things that is important to consider when we are discussing time allocation or closure or a guillotine motion, which is what this is called in the parliamentary colloquial, is the breadth and reach of concern across the province about the legislation, and that is to say that if it were trivial or modest legislation that was not of any real import to any number of people, then one would be hard pressed to argue as we have that the bill requires thorough consideration and thorough debate.
In assessing its impact on the community -- I am of course talking about the provincial community -- one of the things we have to do is look at the concern being expressed by people across that provincial community about this guillotine by the Liberals, this guillotining of the opposition.
There are people like Arthur Taylor in London, Ontario. Arthur Taylor telephones in to my office and says that he is disabled. When he is out on the street, out on the sidewalks, out in the public places, to get around he has to use a Sierra three-wheel mobility device. It is not his fault that he is disabled. Of course he wishes he were not, but he learned a long time ago that he is not going to be able to wish that disability away, and indeed Arthur Taylor from London has confronted that disability, meets it head on and copes as best he can, indeed copes admirably.
Arthur Taylor is a brave person and Arthur Taylor is very interested in what is happening here at Queen’s Park with Bill 68, because Arthur Taylor wants Bill 68 to be debated. Arthur Taylor from London wants Bill 68 to be canvassed in its entirety by this Assembly. He wants an opportunity to see and hear that being done, because his body is not what it used to be when he was younger; he needs that three-wheel mobility device to get around, but his mind is as sharp as could ever be.
Arthur Taylor wants an opportunity to see Bill 68 debated and Arthur Taylor wants to see these types of questions posed, the very sort of questions that the Minister of Financial Institutions is avoiding by virtue of this guillotine motion, this closure motion, this time allocation motion. Arthur Taylor specifically wants to know about the impact of the provisions in Bill 68 on disabled people, like himself and like thousands and thousands of others here in the province of Ontario.
If this closure motion passes, if the Liberals pass this closure motion that we are debating right now, we will never get a chance to ask the Minister of Financial Institutions about what Bill 68 is going to do to disabled people; we will never get that chance. Arthur Taylor is not alone. He wants that issue raised. He wants the minister confronted.
I tell members that it is Arthur Taylor’s right as a citizen of this province, as a voter, as a taxpayer and as someone who is as likely to be a victim of a careless, negligent or reckless driver as you or I or anybody else in this Assembly. It is his right to hear a thorough debate of Bill 68. It is in Arthur Taylor’s right to see legislation that is going to impact on him and others like him debated, and to hear it debated.
The Minister of Financial Institutions and the Premier of this province want to deprive Arthur Taylor of that right, just like so many other rights that are going to be stripped from citizens in this province if Bill 68 gets passed. You have never seen a gang like these Liberals with so much disdain for the most basic rights of just plain, old, ordinary everyday people.
This Liberal gang here at Queen’s Park thinks that the auto insurance companies have a whole lot of rights. This Liberal gang here at Queen’s Park thinks that the auto insurance companies have the right to make billions and billions and billions of dollars in profits on the backs of innocent injured victims. That is what these Liberals here at Queen’s Park believe.
The Liberals at Queen’s Park believe in rights for the auto insurance industry and they are prepared to strip the taxpayers of another $143 million in the first year alone to make sure that those rights of the insurance companies are upheld, but they do not give a tinker’s damn for the rights of taxpayers. They do not give a tinker’s damn for the rights of taxpayers, or for the rights of innocent injured victims. They do not give a tinker’s damn for the rights of drivers, the right to have affordable auto insurance. That is why these Liberals here at Queen’s Park want to pass Bill 68, so that insurance premiums can go up for most drivers by as much as 50 per cent and, for almost a third of a million drivers here in Ontario, premium increases of up to 80 per cent.
So the Liberals at Queen’s Park think a whole lot about the rights of insurance companies, but they think nothing, they think not at all, they do not give a damn for the rights of taxpayers, drivers and victims here in the province of Ontario, or for the rights of fine gentlemen like Arthur Taylor out in London.
Elvira Virelli from here in Toronto called me at 3:15 this afternoon, just 15 minutes ago. She left a message: dismay, she expresses, at the Ontario government for trying to push Bill 68 through, and congratulations to us in the opposition for all our efforts on behalf of the people of Ontario. Once again, when Elvira Virelli says that, she raises the clear prospect that we in the New Democratic Party are not here fighting for the auto insurance companies.
The auto insurance companies are big, wealthy and powerful. We do not see ourselves as advocates for the auto insurance companies. The Liberals fulfil that role quite thoroughly. But I will tell the members this: We will fight for senior citizens; we will fight for working people; we will fight for students. We will fight for them because we are not concerned about --
Mr J. B. Nixon: You will sell out as soon as you can. You sell everyone out for power. The only people you won’t sell out are the trade unions because you are their puppet. That is what you said in committee.
Mr Kormos: We are not concerned about an auto insurance industry that has a government in its back pocket, the Liberals here at Queen’s Park, but we are concerned about the taxpayers, the drivers and the innocent injured victims in Ontario who are going to suffer by Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: In any event, it is important for us to consider that people like Elvira Virelli would phone in with her concern, because that is part of the consideration that we have to keep in mind when we deliberate on this time allocation motion.
It is people like Arthur Martin from Peterborough. He called at 3:20 this afternoon, 12 or 13 minutes ago, with a message of sincere appreciation for the work that we in the opposition are doing to fight Bill 68 and to fight this time allocation motion.
Once again, we are not just talking about people from one part of Ontario or another part. We are talking about people from all over Ontario who are witnesses to this effort on the part of the Liberals to muzzle the opposition. The fact that it generates and has generated such thorough and across-the-board concern should be of concern to us.
That is what makes these messages very relevant. So you see, those people who call my office here at Queen’s Park at 965-7714 -- I thank them for their calls, and I know you do, Mr Speaker. I know all of the people in this assembly thank them for their telephone calls and their messages.
I tell you this -- this is a very personal statement -- that if I were not receiving these phone calls to my office here in Toronto at 965-7714, I do not think I could carry on with this argument. If people were not calling me at 965-7714 here at Queen’s Park, like so many have yesterday and today, I believe I would have to sit down. I believe I would have to sit down and let the government just take over --
Mr Kormos: If I did not get these calls, these messages, I would not be able to make the argument against the jackboot tactics of the Liberals. Because these calls and these callers are active participants right now in a process that is so valuable and so dear to all of us in Canada and in Ontario. These people, these hundreds and hundreds of callers who have been calling my office at 965-7714 here at Queen’s Park -- and, my goodness, we are proud to be able to talk to them. We are proud to be able to hear what they have to say, and we are proud to be able to come into this assembly and tell the other members of this Legislature what these people have to say, these good people from across Ontario.
These people are participating actively in a fight, in a resistance to an effort on the part of the Liberals here in Queen’s Park, here in Toronto, to wipe out a century of parliamentary tradition. So each and every one of those people who have called us and have called my office here at Queen’s Park can be also very proud of themselves because they have participated in a fight for democracy.
People like John Murray from Beaverton. Once again, as I tell you, the concern over what the Liberals are doing is widespread. John Murray from Beaverton wants to know how he can get in to watch the proceedings of the House. He is prepared to come down here to Toronto to watch, live, what is happening here so that he can lend his presence to the fight against what the Liberals are doing to drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims with Bill 68 here in the province of Ontario. So John Murray from Beaverton knows, like so many others do now, that it is a matter of simply coming here and we will get him the best seat in the House if we can.
The bottom line is that this is the Premier of Ontario’s legislation. the Premier of Ontario is ultimately accountable for this legislation that is being imposed on the drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims of Ontario. People across Ontario are saying no way to Bill 68. Let them call the Premier at 965-1941 and tell that to the Premier right here at Queen’s Park, and those people who do not live in Toronto should be calling collect.
Let me show you what happened yesterday, Mr Speaker. Let me illustrate for you the disdain that the Liberals have for the people of Ontario. We know that yesterday people were encouraged to call the Premier’s office here at Queen’s Park, 965-1941. You know that, Mr Speaker. People were encouraged to call the Premier of Ontario at his very personal office at 965-1941. Well, those people, according to the messages we received, were not being treated very well, and I tell members, it shows the disregard that even the Premier’s office has for people in Ontario.
One message that we got was that “a snotty secretary said that the Premier was not available for those kinds of calls.” Can you believe that, Mr Speaker? Can you believe that a caller, a citizen of Ontario, a taxpayer, a voter, the very same kind of voter who is concerned, as I am, about this time allocation motion would attempt to call on the telephone his or her Premier and that the Premier’s staff member, described by that same person as a snotty secretary, said that the Premier was not available for those kinds of calls?
Mr Kormos: Let me tell you this. I bet you dollars to doughnuts right now, Mr Speaker, that the president of Allstate or Co-operators or any other number of auto insurance companies gets put through to the Premier. I bet you the Premier’s staff is not snotty with the president of a major automobile insurance company in Ontario. No way. I bet you the Premier of Ontario is available for those kinds of calls, is he not? Because those are the guys who pay some of the bills at election time, like they did to the tune of over $100,000 last general election here in Ontario. It is true. The auto insurance paid over $100,000 to Liberal candidates for their campaign chest in the last general election in 1987.
Do members want to know something? I am proud to be here at Queen’s Park fighting for the rights and interests of working people. Are the Liberals proud to be here at Queen’s Park fighting for the rights and interests of big, powerful, wealthy automobile insurance companies?
Mr Kormos: The Premier’s staff is snotty to workers in Ontario. I bet the Premier’s staff is not snotty to the presidents of auto insurance companies. No. That staff person would not last very long at all, would she?
The concern about this closure motion stretches from Niagara to Windsor to Ottawa to Bane. That is why Mrs Marianne Butterworth from Bane phoned us to tell us to please convey her opposition to Bill 68 and the closure motion to this Legislative Assembly, and we do that with pride.
Mr Speaker, as I tell you, if it were not for people like Mrs Butterworth calling my office at 965-7714, I could not carry on this argument against Liberal arrogance and against Liberal superciliousness. I would have to sit down were it not for the people of Ontario calling my office here at Queen’s Park with words of encouragement. It is on behalf of those same people that we keep on fighting this fight.
People like Rob West, who, I should say, is a good friend of mine from St Catharines, the head of the St Catharines and District Labour Council. He called on behalf of some 15,000 affiliated members down there in St Catharines and the Niagara Peninsula.
Rob West is a good friend of mine and one of the finest people you will ever meet, one of the finest labour leaders you will ever meet and one of the finest members of the community you will ever meet. Rob West is a guy who is not beholden to any insurance companies, but he feels awful strongly about the rights of working people. Rob West would not lift a finger to fight for the auto insurance industry. He knows that they have gouging drivers and victims in this province for a long, long time and they have all the help they need in the form of Liberals.
Mr Kormos: The only thing that is sad is the fact that the government in Ontario, the Liberals, are not interested in listening to the workers. They are not interested. The government of Ontario, the Liberals here at Queen’s Park are not interested in listening to the 15,000 affiliated members of the St Catharines and District Labour Council.
Mr Kormos: Once again, root canals are always painful and we can expect a little bit of squawking and squealing from the patient, but it is a matter of touching a nerve. The pain could be made so much more temporary if only the House leader would stand up and withdraw this motion. If only the House leader would stand up and withdraw this time allocation motion, we could sit down and then we could start talking about Bill 68, which is all we ever really wanted to talk about.
Let me tell this House, the last thing in the world I ever wanted to do was have to fight Liberal jackbootism. It is a sad day when the debate in Queen’s Park descends into a debate over democracy rather than a debate over the issues. What has happened here is that the Liberals are trying to snuff out democracy.
T. Kitagawa -- and I hope I am pronouncing that right -- called to say that he is opposed to Bill 68, that it is crummy legislation. He is opposed to the closure motion and he wants us to keep up with this fight against it.
As I say, if it were not for the people like T. Kitagawa calling me, I would not have the strength to carry on with this argument, this debate. I would not have the desire. The fact is that these people from across Ontario have been good enough and kind enough to call, and that is what makes me all the more committed to fighting this Liberal closure motion, to fighting jackbootism. Whether it is by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park or whether it is by the Tories on Parliament Hill, we fight that because we --
Mr Kormos: Here is a wonderful letter just faxed up from my constituency office in Welland. This illustrates why we oppose Bill 68 and why we oppose this time allocation motion. As I say, it is the letters like this and the comments like this that are important to consider, because ultimately this assembly gets to vote on this time allocation motion, when I am finished making my arguments and the other members of my party, the New Democratic Party, are finished making their arguments, at some point, unless the House leader withdraws his motion, which would end this right here and now. Really, in some respects, this is entirely within the control of the House leader. The House leader for the Liberal Party is trying to generate an image of somehow it is beyond his control. On the contrary, all he has to do is withdraw this motion, and I would have to sit down. There would not be any more motion to speak to.
Deborah A. Buckner -- there are a lot of Buckners down in the Welland area where I come from, down in the east end, the Cooks Mills area. It is an old family; I think they are United Empire Loyalists; but a good, hardworking family. Deborah A. Buckner, from Mallah Drive in Sarnia, wrote a letter to me down at my constituency office in Welland. The constituency office received it today and just faxed it up to me. She writes:
“May I first say, if I could give my strength and patience so you could speak for as long as it is going to take to delay the vote, I would send it to you today. I also wish I could block all the TV stations and make the people of Ontario watch the parliamentary channel.”
She must have a grudge against somebody, because really, at some points in time, people watching this parliamentary channel must throw their hands up in dismay at the disregard that the government has for rules and procedure and for tradition. People watching this must shake their heads, saying, “What’s going on at Queen’s Park that the Liberals would not permit discussion arid full debate about Bill 68?”
But Deborah Buckner applauds us on our stand on Bill 68. She believes, just as I do, that Bill 68 should become an election issue, that really the people of Ontario should constitute the ultimate jury. Let the government call an election right now. Let the electorate, let the voters of Ontario decide Bill 68, because do members know what the Liberals would learn real fast? The Liberals would learn that drivers can vote, but insurance companies cannot. All the money in the world from the insurance companies is not enough to buy off the people of Ontario, because the people of Ontario have seen the track record of the insurance industry.
Mr Kormos: Of course, Mr Speaker. Thank you. And of course I thank the House leader for his interjection. I appreciate that it is so frustrating for the House leader and for others participating in this debate that, to make any apparent contribution, they have to stand up on a point of order. So I understand why they would feel compelled from time to time to rise and make a point of order, be it frivolous or not.
At the same time, it is important, I suppose, that all of us are reminded from time to time of what we in fact are talking about here. We are talking about a time allocation motion that is really the jackbootism of the 1990s. We are talking about a time allocation motion, a closure motion, if you will, that has become a habit with the Tories up at Parliament Hill and is becoming a similar addiction to the Liberals here at Queen’s Park. It basically comes down to when they know they have to pass an unpopular bit of legislation because of a particular interest group having such power -- here I am, of course, talking about the auto insurance industry -- they want to avoid debate about it, because all debate is going to do is make them squirm.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I wonder if the member will permit me to ask a question with regard to that. If he wants an amendment, or if he would like to suggest that the motion be changed to allow for additional time, he should say so.
Mr J. B. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It is quite clear under the standing orders that a member is not to unduly repeat himself. We have heard for uncountable, innumerable times a repetition of what this motion is about and his imputing motives to the members of this Legislature, which, once again, violates the standing orders of this House. I would urge you, Mr Speaker, to call this member to order or terminate him, put him out of his misery, so that we do not have to listen to the continuous breach of the rules of order.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will tell you that to this extent, obviously, some people have not been listening. And when they do not listen I feel compelled to repeat a particular point, because sometimes a point is so germane to the matter at hand that if one does not understand that one cannot really move on from that point to subsequent issues. So for the benefit of the Liberals here, for whom I am trying to outline some commonsensical arguments, it is important for all of us, because ultimately we are going to have to vote on Bill 68 and on this time allocation motion.
The House leader seems unprepared to withdraw it, at least today. Perhaps he will some time next week or the week after -- I am not sure -- but so far today I have not been able to persuade him to withdraw the motion. So it remains then that we have to look at one of the considerations, and we get right back down to where we were a few minutes ago. Sometimes I wonder who is delaying these proceedings. It is these jackbooters with the jack-in-the-box syndrome jumping up all the time who simply prolong this and make it longer than it has to be.
So if they would just sit down, calm down, be quiet for a minute and listen, this whole process is going to be speeded up and be a lot briefer than it would be otherwise. People like Deborah Buckner from Sarnia -- she says she is sick and tired of being a proverbial frisbee and being tossed around and stepped on, both through the Bill 68 issue and the GST.
There you go, Mr Speaker. Taxpayers and voters in Ontario see the abuse imposed upon them by the Tories in Ottawa by way of the GST being equalled by the abuse imposed upon them by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park with Bill 68. Look what is happening. Taxpayers, voters and members of our provincial community are sick and tired of the abuse being heaped on them by way of the GST at the instance of the Tories. They say that abuse is being paralleled by the victimization to which they are being subjected by the Liberals right here in Toronto at Queen’s Park, by virtue of Bill 68.
She condemns the Liberals for their disregard for time allocation motions, their disregard for the opposition that is inherent in this time allocation motion, in this closure motion, in this guillotine.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member, on many occasions, has made reference to the fact that the time allocation motion does not provide enough opportunity for him to debate the issue. If he would like to suggest how much time he would like, I would be quite prepared to consider bringing in another motion with the appropriate amount of time that would suit him.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: If the government House leader is interested in that, then perhaps he should withdraw this motion and we can talk about it. But the first step would be to withdraw this motion.
Mr Kormos: Young Neil, one of our new pages here, just brought me a few more messages. They are bringing them down as they are coming in. This is from Bob Buck in Willowdale. He does not belong to any party. I suspect he is about as cynical and frustrated by politicians as most people are in this province and in this country. He opposes Bill 68 because it is discriminatory. Bob Buck from Willowdale is on track. His head is on straight.
Jess Parker from here in Toronto just called up to say that he is opposed to Bill 68. He said, “Thanks for standing up for the little guy.” Remember, Mr Speaker, what Mr Justice Haines said about Bill 68? Mr Justice Haines said that if the Liberals pass Bill 68 there is going to be the very distinct impression here in Ontario that the government, the Liberals, sold out the little guy so that the insurance companies could make big, big profits. Jess Parker from Waller Avenue in Toronto is saying, “Thanks for standing up for the little guy.” You know what, Mr Speaker? We are proud to be able to fight these Liberals over this time allocation motion and over Bill 68.
Cathy Richards from Toronto phoned us this afternoon at 3:45, just 15 minutes ago, to say that she supports us and that Bill 68 is the equivalent of the GST being rammed down people’s throats. That theme is starting to appear more and more, is it not, that Bill 68 is the provincial equivalent of the GST, that the Liberals and Bill 68 are but clones of the Tories and the goods and services tax coming out of Ottawa, and both have to be defeated. Both the GST and Bill 68 have to be defeated.
What we need is a meaningful and thorough debate over Bill 68. This is why time allocation is inappropriate and has to be voted against. We need the opportunity to persuade some 35 Liberal backbenchers -- that is all we need -- to vote against Bill 68. You know that, Mr Speaker? If 35 Liberal backbenchers who want to keep their ridings in the next general election would vote against Bill 68, it would not matter then what the Premier does, or what the Minister of Financial Institutions does, or what the member for Guelph does. If 35 Liberal backbenchers voted against Bill 68, what they would be saying to their communities is: “I’m prepared to represent my constituents, but I’m not prepared to represent big, wealthy, powerful automobile insurance companies. I don’t care how much money they donate to the Liberal Party at election time.”
That is why I am opposing this time allocation motion and that is why I am arguing against it as carefully as I can, because we need an opportunity, in debating Bill 68, to persuade those same Liberal backbenchers to speak out for their constituents and stop speaking out for the auto insurance industry.
Suzanne and Doug Green from Woodstock, in the kindest of words, phoned in at 3:46 this afternoon to say, “Congratulations on doing a great job and on being a good politician” -- 15O per cent support for me. I appreciate that coming from Suzanne and Doug Green down there in Woodstock.
Once again, Mr Speaker, look at this connection between the GST and what the Liberals are doing here in Ontario. Mr Millar is ready to leave the whole country. Once again, look at the connection, look at the parallel people are drawing. The Conservatives up on Parliament Hill are trying to ram the GST, the goods and services tax, through that parliamentary body. And they are using closure. The Tories on Parliament Hill are using time allocation and closure to ram the GST through, just like the Liberals want to use time allocation and closure to ram Bill 68 through this assembly.
Do you know what, Mr Speaker? New Democrats up on Parliament Hill have been fighting the Tories tooth and nail over the GST. We New Democrats here at Queen’s Park are going to keep fighting the Liberals tooth and nail over Bill 68. I tell you that, Mr Speaker, and I tell people like Stuart Millar from Hamilton. Mr Millar, thanks for calling. Mr Speaker, I am pleased to be able to convey his message on to you, but I say to Mr Millar, let’s fight the next election on the auto insurance issue, on the Liberals’ taxation policy, on the Liberals’ abandonment of the public when it came to free trade and on how they are going to abandon the public and the taxpayers here in Ontario when it comes to the GST. What we are looking at here when we are looking at the Liberal ranks here at Queen’s Parks is but clones of their Tory cousins on Parliament Hill.
Bob Black from North Bay called in this afternoon. I am going to be speaking in North Bay tomorrow night, Friday evening, about auto insurance. Perhaps Mr Black and his family will come out and say hello. He says that what the opposition is doing is tremendous. He says to tell the Liberals that they do not have any divine right to rule. Bob Black from North Bay is quite right. People like Bob Black, who called today from North Bay, are going to let the Liberals know that in the next general election.
Jim Briggs from Bronte calls. He is watching this debate. People are watching what is happening, Mr Speaker. That is how important this debate is to people across Ontario. The fact that they are watching should illustrate to you and to every member of this assembly that the people in this assembly are obligated to vote against time allocation, that the people in this assembly, if they are going to serve the interests of their constituents, should be voting no to time allocation and then no to Bill 68.
Jim Briggs from Bronte says that he appreciates what the opposition is doing and that the government has been protecting insurance companies for years and keeps on doing it with Bill 68. Jim Briggs from Bronte wants a full debate on Bill 68. I am sure he is wondering why the member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Financial Institutions, will not ask his House leader to withdraw this time allocation motion. Why will the member for Guelph not do that? Why does the member for Guelph persist in running from a full debate over Bill 68?
Jim Beesack from Brampton South calls up this afternoon. He is watching what is happening. He has a question. He has a simple question to ask of the member for Guelph or perhaps the Minister of Financial Institutions or perhaps the Premier of Ontario. Jim Beesack from Brampton South asks this question: If the government thinks that Bill 68 is so good, why does it not want to talk about it in the House so that it can convince people it is good legislation?
If the government thinks Bill 68 is so darned good, why does it want to restrict debate on it so that it can never be meaningfully debated by any of the members of this assembly? If the government thinks Bill 68 is so good, why will the member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant, not tell the House leader to withdraw this time allocation motion right now? The minute this time allocation motion is withdrawn, the sooner we can start talking about Bill 68. The minute the time allocation motion is withdrawn, I lose the floor with respect to this particular discussion. It is as simple as that.
Jim Beesack from Brampton South, I appreciate your calling. I know you do, Mr Speaker, because I know that his comments make a valuable contribution to this debate about time allocation. I tell Jim Beesack that I appreciate his calling my office at 965-7714. Perhaps Mr Beesack and others watching would call the Premier’s office at 965-1941. I hope they call the Premier. The Premier of Ontario is right here at Queen’s Park, and those people calling should not take any snotty guff from the Premier’s staff.
Connie Quinn from Clara Street in Thorold, what a brave lady, because she has got a back injury now as a result of an irresponsible and negligent driver. She was hit from behind. She knows that if Bill 68 were law, if we were not engaged in this debate and if we were not able to slow down the passage of Bill 68 and if Bill 68 had already been passed, she would not receive a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
She would not receive any compensation for not being able to pick up her children because of the pain and the diminished strength that she suffers as a result of that tragic injury. Connie Quinn, an innocent injured victim, under Bill 68 would receive not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life as an innocent injured victim.
Connie Quinn is a brave lady. She is living with pain, with the reality of being unable to pick up her children and carry them and play with them, with the reality of being less of a mother than she would want to be. She is an innocent injured victim. The Liberals and the insurance industry here in the province of Ontario would desert Ms Quinn and would leave her without a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life.
That is why we are fighting this time allocation motion, so that we can fight Bill 68 as vigorously as we are fighting this time allocation motion. Connie Quinn deserves our thanks, all of our thanks, for calling in and sharing some of her tragic personal experience with all of us.
Ken Morgan from Manitouwadge calls. Mr Morgan says the opposition is doing a great job in the Legislature during these debates and he extends his congratulations. The message here from people like Ken Morgan up in Manitouwadge is that this debate is crucial because this time allocation motion is such a serious, thorough threat to tradition, procedure, such a serious, through threat to basic fairness.
That is what Ken Morgan from Manitouwadge called to say. Ken Morgan from Manitouwadge called me and I appreciate his call. He picked up the phone and called us at area code 416-965-7714, to congratulate us for the job we are doing in the Legislature on this debate. Ken Morgan from Manitouwadge should maybe call collect to the Premier, area code 416-965-1941, and tell the Premier of Ontario that too.
Robert Cousineau from here in Toronto calls up. The concern about this motion is not just from Manitouwadge, it is not just from Sarnia, it is not just from Thorold and Welland; it is from here in Toronto as well. Mr Cousineau calls --
Mr Kormos: Yes. Calls from Manitouwadge, Sarnia, Toronto. Mr Cousineau calls and says the opposition is doing a terrific job. He talks about the indifference of the government to innocent injured victims. He talks about how they are going to be creating a system with Bill 68 that is going to be worse than this Liberal government’s workers’ compensation system. Robert Cousineau from Toronto knows that this debate over this motion is significant and warrants the full attention of all the members of this assembly.
Peter Conroy from London calls. He congratulates the opposition and opposes Bill 68. He sent in a little poem, a ditty, about the member for Guelph, the parliamentary assistant, which I will share with the parliamentary assistant later. I am confident he might tell it to his wife, but certainly not to his kids.
Madeleine Rota calls, once again from North Bay, another North Bay person. Madeleine Rota from McIntyre calls to say that she wants this motion defeated. Why? So that we can have a thorough discussion of Bill 68, so that we can persuade some 30, perhaps as many as 35, Liberal backbenchers to vote against Bill 68. That way, those Liberal backbenchers will be able to hold their ridings in the next general election, and Bill 68 will be defeated.
You see, Mr Speaker, the message that has to be delivered is that it is not merely enough for the Liberal backbenchers to stay away when we vote on this motion and when we vote on Bill 68. What is important and what people like Madeleine Rota from North Bay want me to tell you, Mr Speaker, is that those Liberal backbenchers who oppose Bill 68 should not just disappear when the vote is being taken but stay and vote against it. All there have to be are 30 or 35 of these Liberals to vote against Bill 68 and the bill is history. That is all we need.
I made some notes that I want to refer to. I have a whole mass of other phone calls that we received late yesterday after we were finished and early this morning. When I walked into my office at around quarter to nine this morning, poor Sharon was in there and the little pushbuttons were already lit up and just glowing, the bells just ringing. We are, as I told members before, proud to be able to talk to those people here in the province of Ontario.
Let me give members another illustration of why we want to persuade enough Liberals to vote against this time allocation motion. Really, if I thought it was futile, I would have stopped arguing it a long time ago. If I thought there would be no way to persuade at least some of the Liberals sitting here in Queen’s Park to vote against the time allocation motion, I would have sat down last week or the week before, or heck, even the week before that.
But I know that there are some Liberals sitting here who are scared about their futures come the next general election. I know that there are Liberals who know that their riding associations have condemned Bill 68, just like the Sudbury Liberal riding association condemned Bill 68 and instructed its member, the representative of that riding, to vote against it; just like the Sudbury East Liberal riding association condemned Bill 68 and has called upon all Liberals sitting to vote against it.
Let me tell you why this time allocation is bad, Mr Speaker. I understand that sometimes you might be concerned about the fact that I am referring to case study after case study. Yet the remarkable thing about the human beast is that each of us is very different and no two people could ever share exactly the same experience. So when we talk about the tragedies that have afflicted people here in the province of Ontario by virtue of a government that does not give a damn and by virtue of an insurance industry that is interested only in making bigger and bigger profits, I give those case studies and those illustrations so that members here can understand how important it is to debate Bill 68.
Here is another pile of telephone messages that were phoned into my office from about 4 o’clock through to 4:20. Gord McEwan from Sarnia called in at 4 pm this afternoon to say he is opposed to Bill 68. John Gore from Cobalt, Ontario, phoned in at 4:05 pm today. John Gore phoned me at 965-7714. Mr Gore from Cobalt says that he appreciates the NDP’s efforts on people’s behalf. He is dismayed that the provincial Legislature seems to have been taken over by the auto insurance industry.
If this were the only telephone message that I had been able to refer to, that in itself should have been persuasive enough to convince the House leader to withdraw this motion. Does he see what the perception is out there? Does he see why it is important to argue this motion from the point of view of people who are observing it? The perception out there is that there is a link between the way the Tories are trying to impose the GST on us up in Ottawa and the way the Liberals are trying to impose Bill 68 on us here at Queen’s Park.
There is also an understanding, an observation, a perception, and members know that perception is oftentimes as significant as reality. There is a perception out there across the province, articulated by John Gore from Cobalt, that the provincial Legislature seems to have been taken over by the auto insurance industry. Mr Gore from Cobalt has that perception of what is going on, and he is not unique, he is not alone.
The Liberals would be wise to listen to people like John Gore, who takes the effort to phone in from Cobalt to try to tell them what the public perception is of this particular assembly, and that is that it has been taken over, it has been seized, it is under siege by the auto insurance industry.
It is sad that people in the community, people across the province, regard their Legislature as having been taken over by the auto insurance industry, but I tell you, Mr Speaker, people like John Gore from Cobalt say so, and he is not unique, he is not alone.
Bob Whiteford calls from Brampton. He has voted Liberal all of his life, but he is disgusted with Bill 68, and, more important, with not allowing full time for debate. I have a feeling Bob Whiteford will not be voting Liberal any more, and that is from Brampton.
Ray Lamontagne -- and Ray is an old friend of mine -- phones in from Welland and he is in full support of the opposition. He wants Bill 68 abandoned, he wants it dropped, he wants it dumped, he wants it defeated and he also wants this time allocation motion withdrawn. There are more messages here. Ray Lamontagne from Welland feels that way.
I wish and I hope that these people are calling the Premier of Ontario at 416-965-1941 right here at Queen’s Park. Those people who live outside of Toronto should be calling collect because he is their Premier too. You would not know it by virtue of the fact that he does not want to talk to them; you would not know it by virtue of the fact that if you are the president of an insurance company, you get put right through to the Premier of Ontario.
This time allocation motion has caused us so much concern. People from every community in every part of this province regard time allocation in the instance of Bill 68 to be worthy of nothing more than a withdrawal or a condemning vote by this assembly. We have to debate time allocation. Do you know why, Mr Speaker? Because if we do not win in our fight against time allocation, we do not have a snowball’s chance in Hades of winning in our fight against Bill 68.
Ralph MacDougall from Brampton opposes Bill 68 and he is particularly concerned about the promise made by the Minister of Financial Institutions. Remember what the promise was, Mr Speaker? The promise by the Minister of Financial Institutions was that after Bill 68 is passed drivers in Ontario are going to face premium increases of as much as 50 per cent.
Then we learned through the press a week and a half ago that a third of a million drivers in Ontario are going to face premium increases of up to 80 per cent. A third of a million drivers after Bill 68 is passed are going to face premium increases of up to 80 per cent, and the balance of the drivers in Ontario, according to the Minister of Financial Institutions, are going to face premium increases of as high as 50 per cent. That is one promise I am sure the minister is going to keep.
Ralph MacDougall from Brampton is scared out of his wits by that particular promise. He does not like Bill 68, he does not like the time allocation motion, and he is not very pleased with how his affairs are being conducted by his government, except that the reality is that it is the insurance companies’ government. This really is not Ralph MacDougall’s government or Doug Anderson’s government or Ray Lamontagne’s government or Bob Whiteford’s government. It is the insurance companies’ government, is it not? This really is not Ralph MacDougall’s government or Doug Anderson’s government, or Ray Lamontagne’s government’s government or Bob Whiteford’s government; it is the insurance companies’ government is it not?
Allen Hopkins from Sudbury East. You see, Mr Hopkins says that the Liberals are cowards for not holding a debate. You know what, Mr Speaker? The Liberals have fled from a debate over Bill 68; that is what a time allocation motion is all about. A time allocation motion is all about not wanting to debate the issue or rather fleeing from debate and imposing closure, especially in this context.
Let’s take a look at why flight from debate can be used to describe this particular time allocation motion. Let’s take a look at why, because the time allocation motion permits but two scant afternoons for committee of the whole consideration: two short afternoons, about two and one half, maybe two and three quarter, hours each. There is not even enough time to read all of the amendments that the Liberals are going to propose. Two scant afternoons are not enough. The Liberals know that and what that amounts to is a Liberal refusal to debate Bill 68.
Chris Reece from Cambridge phones up and he says: “I do not like Bill 68. It stinks.” Chris Reece is probably right and you see, we are prepared to listen to people like Chris Reece from Cambridge, we are prepared to listen to people like Susan Hagar from Matheson, Ontario, who says that she is totally against Bill 68.
People like Michelle Najaro from Etobicoke who is opposed to Bill 68 because it takes away people’s rights and people should have a right to use the courts to seek redress when they are victims. Michelle Najaro from Etobicoke knows that. To the Liberal members here, are they prepared to listen to her? They hear her, but are they prepared to listen? No, because the stranglehold that the auto insurance industry has on this government is simply too tight and too firm.
Richard and Barbara Pinelli from Downsview say they voted Liberal in the last election. We know that there are people out there who voted Liberal in the last election. They could not have ended up with the majority that they have unless there were people out there who voted Liberal. Richard and Barbara Pinelli from Downsview say: “No more. Not next time,” because of this time allocation motion and because of Bill 68.
George Anselmo calls from St Catharines. Mr Anselmo, like so many others across the province, are watching what is happening here at Queen’s Park. They are watching with dismay and they are calling in to say that they support the opposition 100 per cent. Let me tell you why Bill 68 warrants full debate and why this time allocation motion has to be voted down.
William Boehm -- although it is written Boehm it is pronounced B-e-e-m -- was an insurance broker and indeed still is. He is the vice-president of W. R. Boehm and Son in Grimsby, Ontario. I think anybody who wanted to get a hold of a broker whom they could trust would be more than satisfied with William Boehm, because Mr Boehm was involved as a victim. He was hit from behind at 70 kilometres per hour. He had brain surgery in October 1987 and the operation was successful.
This was not a modest or trivial injury and Mr Boehm -- after all, he has been an insurance broker for some chunk of time; he is the vice-president of W. R. Boehm and Son in Grimsby -- knows what he is talking about. He knows the insurance industry in a way that most people never have the, as it is, fortune or misfortune of ever learning about it.
But Mr Boehm also knows, having been an innocent injured victim back in October 1987 -- hit from behind, no blame whatsoever could be attached to him -- that if Bill 68 passes and if Bill 68 had been in effect when he became an innocent injured victim, he would not receive any compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. He had to undergo brain surgery as a result of his injuries, but his injuries were not sufficient to pass the threshold. It was not a continuous impairment.
He goes on in his message in his memo to say that, when he spoke with the Attorney General when he met him a month ago at an address here in Toronto, the Attorney General avoided the issue. The Attorney General did not want to discuss Bill 68 with Mr Boehm, an insurance broker who himself is a victim, an innocent injured victim of a motor vehicle accident. Mr Boehm says that, in his view, the Attorney General is hiding his head in the sand and that if he cannot stand the heat in his own kitchen, he should get out of politics.
It is because of people like Mr Boehm, people who are indeed innocent injured victims, people who, if Bill 68 becomes law, will be forbidden from receiving any compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Mrs Putnam from Welland called up and asked if any of the Liberals here want to pay her son’s insurance of $2,500 a year, explaining that he had to sell his car because of the rates, and she knows that if Bill 68 passes people like her son are liable to face as much as 50 per cent premium increases, or if they are one of the unlucky third of a million people in the province of Ontario, will face even higher premium increases of up to 80 per cent.
David Klein of Toronto phoned us this afternoon, but he phoned to explain that he supports what we are doing here at Queen’s Park, we in the opposition. He supports our position on auto insurance and our position on this time allocation motion, which is a bad law, and the time allocation motion simply has to be defeated.
Mr Speaker, suppose that, notwithstanding how massive the opposition is to this time allocation motion and Bill 68 right now, the real impact of it is going to hit a year, two years, perhaps even longer, down the road, and that is if the Liberals have their way. Bear with me for a moment, Mr Speaker, because I want to narrate a scenario to you, one which will, I am confident, draw you closer to the inevitable conclusion that this time allocation motion has to be defeated; that we need full debate over Bill 68.
Let’s look at a date some time on down the road. Let’s look at a date, maybe, 19 April 1992, two years hence. Notwithstanding the protestations of thousands and tens and hundreds of thousands of people across Ontario, this government persists in ramming Bill 68 through.
The government has kept its promise. Its premium increases in the first year were as much as 50 per cent and, for almost a third of a million drivers in Ontario, as high as 80 per cent. On top of that, of course, drivers across Ontario had to pay the goods and services tax that those Tory cousins of the Liberals here at Queen’s Park, the feds, imposed.
So, premiums are higher than they have ever been, even in people’s worst fears. By 19 April 1992, premiums are higher than they have ever been. And this government, these Liberals at Queen’s Park, refuse to call an election over Bill 68, notwithstanding the demands, the insistence, of the opposition. They refuse to listen to those thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people across Ontario who said no to Bill 68.
Let’s talk about a scenario in April 1992 and let me introduce you to an average Ontario family. We will call them the Innocent family. Father Bill works for Ford Motors as a maintenance man down there in Oakville. He earns around $50,000 a year and he works hard for it. He has got a wage continuation plan hammered out by his union that pays him $600 a week if he is sick or injured. Bill Innocent’s wife, Mary Innocent, is a high school teacher and she earns $40,000 a year. Again, these are not unreasonable illustrations of what real people in this province are all about. Mary Innocent is in good health. She has not missed any time from work and, as a result of that, she has accumulated a total of one year’s worth of credits in her sick bank. The son, Jack, is a medical student. He is one month away from graduation, and let me say that Jack Innocent worked hard to achieve that goal in school. His sister Chris is a mere 15 years. She is an exceptional tennis player and she, of course, is a good student attending high school.
Let’s talk about the Innocent family driving home from church one Sunday morning in Bill Innocent’s five-year-old car. Bill Innocent is driving his car along a through highway with his wife Mary beside him and the two kids in the back. All of them are wearing their seatbelts and, without warning, they are struck by a 10-year-old car driven by a Noel Fault. He is a service station attendant earning $650 a week. Noel Fault earlier that morning had had a falling out with his girl friend and that had caused Noel, Mr Fault if you will, to get into the beer. He drowned his sorrows with some seven or eight beers, just happened to miss a stop sign and ran into the car that the Innocent family was in on their way home from church on that Sunday morning in April 1992.
The Innocents’ car is struck on the right rear corner exactly where young Chris, the 15-year-old high school student, good tennis player, is. The right rear quadrant of the car is what is hit by Noel Fault in his 10-year-old car as he goes through a stop sign drunked up on seven or eight beers. The car is a total loss but, within a matter of days, Bill Innocent’s insurers, the Peter and Son Insurance Co, settles his collision loss at the depreciated market value.
Once again, insurance companies, even the Peter and Son Insurance Co, get heavy-handed when it comes to total losses and, although the car was worth much more when it came to replacement, they can grind away and they settled it as a total loss for its depreciated value of $3,000. We are talking about Bill Innocent’s car because his wife, Mary, has her own car, which is also insured with Peter and Son Insurance Co at a premium just slightly less than what was being paid by her husband, Bill.
Let me tell members about Chris Innocent, a 15-year-old girl, high school student, great tennis player. She ends up in the hospital with both large bones in her lower legs broken, smashed. She also suffers a separated right shoulder. Luckily, fortunately, she did not require surgery. This 15-year-old girl, sitting in the right rear of the car -- exactly where Noel Fault struck it, drunked up, going through the stop sign -- wearing a seatbelt like her brother and her parents, on her way home from church and struck by a drunk driver going through a stop sign. This beautiful 15-year-old girl, great tennis player, high school student, ends up in the hospital with two broken legs and a separated right shoulder. She is put under a general anaesthetic and her broken bones are realigned, and she is placed in two plaster casts. During that same procedure at the same point in time, her shoulder is manipulated, twisted back into position and was taped up.
It takes a long time for her bones to heal and she has to stay in hospital for some four months while that healing process was initiated. I tell members that the hospital and doctors’ accounts are all paid for by OHIP, of course, because, as a result of the persistence of the New Democrats, OHIP is available to every resident of the province of Ontario regardless, and to Chris Innocent among those people.
After she is discharged from that four-month stay in the hospital -- that is how long it takes for those two broken legs to heal -- she still goes to a convalescent home for another three months or so. Five months after the accident, the last of her casts is removed. She uses crutches and then she has to use canes, and finally, a full year after that accident in April 1992, she is able to return to school.
The doctors do a marvellous job, and she is left with only some occasional aching in her legs and just a little weakness and stiffness in her right arm, but basically the bone was healed and the dislocated shoulder was restored. But she has some aching in her legs and some soreness and weakness in her right arm and her right shoulder where that dislocation took place.
She tried playing tennis, and members should not forget that she was a great tennis player and it was a pastime that she pursued with vigour and with passion, but really, there was little strength left in her serve and her game just was not what it was before the accident. Before the accident, people were calling her an up-and-coming Carling Bassett, but it was clear to her even a few months later that when she played her tennis game, a game that she loved, she was just simply not as quick afoot as she used to be. She finally resigned herself to being an average club player.
Incidentally, members should know that arrangements had been made for this young lady, this young 15-year-old Chris Innocent, to attend a tennis camp in Florida during the summer of 1992. The accident was in April. Just two or three months later she was supposed to have gone to this tennis camp down in Florida. Indeed, the payment was made in advance and the club, in accordance with its policy, could not make a refund, notwithstanding that this young lady was unable to attend; she was in the hospital with two broken legs.
Her brother, Jack Innocent, suffers a concussion in this scenario. What happened was that his head struck the window beside him. Members should not forget that he is the young man who is -- what? -- about a month away from graduating from medical school. Here is a young man who worked hard academically to achieve success in his academic career. He was in the hospital for only a couple of days. He got a concussion. He banged his head against the window as a result of a drunk driver, Noel Fault, who has seven or eight beers and goes through a stop sign.
The drunk driver strikes the Innocent car in the right rear and causes Jack, the boy, to bang his head against the window beside him. There is a concussion and a couple of days in the hospital, but he is left with severe headaches and dizziness. His memory is impaired and his concentration is poor. He attempted to write his final examinations for medical school, but he failed. Here is a young man who had achieved good grades all of his academic career, who all of a sudden now has failed his final examinations for medical school. Thanks to a doctor’s letter, he was permitted to repeat his final year at medical school, and that second time around, after another year invested, another year of lost opportunity, he did indeed graduate successfully.
In the summer after the accident, he had forced himself to work at a carwash by day and at a restaurant by night in order to earn the tuition for the year following the accident. His headaches and dizziness finally disappeared at about the same time he was rewriting his final examination a year and some months later. What happened was that effectively his career as a doctor had been delayed one year. That is what happened to Jack Innocent, the brother.
Mary Innocent -- remember the school teacher? -- suffered severe neck injuries as well as headaches and dizziness. She became depressed because of those injuries and because of the injuries affecting her children and her husband. What happened is that a supply teacher had to complete Mary Innocent’s year at school and Mary Innocent missed her next school year. She had many, many trips to a doctor and a physiotherapist. Once again the physiotherapy and the doctor’s attendances were all paid for by OHIP.
Joan Brown of Etobicoke called and said she is worried about sick leave. We are going to talk about that in just a minute when we see what happens to Mary Innocent in our scenario. These people, just as we do, insist that a full debate on Bill 68 is required and that a time allocation motion simply gives too short a shrift to the whole issue. The issue is not a simple one; it is complex one and it is a broad one. Joan Brown from Etobicoke knows that. She is worried about accumulative sick leave and asks, “Will it get wiped out when we have accidents before the insurance companies pay any benefits with Bill 68?” Ms Brown, we are going to talk exactly about that in an effort to illustrate why we need full debate on Bill 68 when we talk about what happens in this 1992 scenario regarding Mary Innocent, an innocent injured victim.
John Hill from London, Ontario, phoned this afternoon. He supports the opposition’s position on Bill 68. Again, that is exactly why I am going through this illustration, this 1992 scenario, because John Hill wants to know about what happens to a university student who is in an accident and looses a year of university. John Hill from London would have us ask that question of the Minister of Financial Institutions, if the Minister of Financial Institutions and if the Premier of Ontario were to permit a debate about Bill 68.
Mike Beam from London, Ontario phones in and talks about his total disagreement with Bill 68, about losing rights. That is what Bill 68 does: It strips rights from drivers, from taxpayers, from innocent injured victims. He asks what happens to a person on disability if hit by an impaired driver and if he had to go to a hospital, and would he lose benefits because he was no longer at home. He also knows that you cannot use the courts in 95 per cent of the circumstances. You will not be able to use the courts. You will not be permitted to use the courts if the Liberal House leader persists in this time allocation motion so that we cannot debate Bill 68, because the whole reason we want to debate Bill 68 is that we know it is bad law and we want to see it dumped. We want to see it defeated. We want to see it abandoned.
People across Ontario are phoning this afternoon, just like they did yesterday afternoon, and they are saying no way to no-fault, no way to closure, no way to time allocation by the arrogant Liberals here at Queen’s Park. People across Ontario are insistent that the Bill 68 debate be permitted to proceed.
We have, as I say, Mike Beam calling in, and John Hill, both from London, John Conte from Amherstburg, Jim Savage from Thorold, and Joan Brown from Etobicoke. They are calling in with concerns exactly like those concerns that I am going to illustrate in this scenario. Do not forget, we are talking 1992. We are talking about what happens if we do not get a chance to debate Bill 68 so that we can encourage those -- what? -- 30 to 35 Liberal backbenchers to vote against Bill 68.
That is why we want and need what we insist on, the opportunity to debate Bill 68, because it has become so important that we persuade a mere 30 to 35 Liberal backbenchers that the right thing to do is not what the insurance companies want them to do, but what the people in their ridings want them to do. The reward will be re-election for those same Liberals who would vote against Bill 68.
A thorough debate of Bill 68 is imperative if we are going to achieve that goal. It is imperative that just as there surely are 30 to 35 Liberal backbenchers to vote against Bill 68, there are as many Liberal backbenchers who are prepared, once they have heard all of the arguments, to vote against this time allocation motion. One of the important things is to illustrate that the time contained in the time allocation motion is insufficient, is inadequate for a careful consideration of Bill 68.
Let’s talk about, once again for the sake of argument, an imaginary family but for the sake of discussion a very realistic family. We have given them names. They were called the Innocent family, because that is what they are. We had talked about the injuries the Innocents have received. We had talked about young, 15-year-old Chris, with broken legs and a dislocated shoulder, unable to play tennis as she once had.
We talked about her older brother, Jack Innocent, the medical student, who suffered the concussion, dizziness and headaches, who was unable to pass his examination at medical school that year and will have to repeat the year, and Mary Innocent, with the severe neck injuries, the headaches and the dizziness, who had to have her school year completed by a supply teacher and who became depressed as a result of her injuries and the injuries of her children. Do not forget that we are talking about a point in time and a scenario that will occur if we are not permitted to debate Bill 68 so as to fight for its defeat.
Once again, just as the medical bills and the hospital bills for Jack Innocent and his younger sister, Chris Innocent, were paid for by OHIP, Mary Innocent’s are paid for by OHIP too. She went to a lot of doctors; a lot of doctors’ visits, a lot of physiotherapy. She also spent a lot of time in bed because of pain and the effect of the drugs she was required to take, the painkillers and the muscle relaxants. The drugs were paid for by a drug plan that her husband had as a result of working at the Ford plant in Oakville.
A year after the accident she finally got back to her career, to teaching. Her neck was still a little stiff and tender, but the doctors told her, “We’ll give it another couple of years and you will be fully recovered.” There is just no doubt in their minds about that, notwithstanding that she had been off for a year, that she had been depressed, that she had been physiotherapied, that she had been painkillered, and yet her neck was still sensitive and sore. In another couple of years, the doctors told her, she would be cured and healed completely.
She continued to receive her pay, but in the process she used up all the sick days she had accumulated in her previous year as a teacher. In September 1993 she contracted a virus and was forced to be off work another three months. Since she had used up all her available sick leave days, she now received no sick pay for those three months. So here it is. You have a lady who is a perfectly innocent victim, who because of Bill 68 has to use up all her sick days. Notwithstanding that she is injured by a drunk driver, she has to use up all her own sick days and when she becomes sick as a result of a virus some time later, there are no more sick days in the sick bank to call on. She does not get paid.
The virus, according to the doctor, was something that just happened as viruses do and could not in any way be linked to her accident or even, according to the doctor, although she was suspicious about this, to her rundown condition when she forced herself to return to work. Ms Innocent continues to be mildly depressed and the doctors say that, unfortunately, is probably going to be permanent, that although her physical injuries will heal, given another two or three years, her mild depression is sadly going to be permanent as a result of the accident, as a result of those injuries.
The fourth person in that car, the driver, Bill Innocent, suffered a fractured vertebra in his lower back as a result of being struck by Noel Fault, the drunk driver, the one who had the fight with his girlfriend, who drowned his sorrows in seven or eight beers and went through the stop sign, ramming the Innocents’ car as they were coming back from church.
Bill Innocent, Ford factory worker for a long time, making a good income, $50,000 a year, suffers a fractured vertebra in his lower back and the strain of some muscles in his neck and in the lower back. He spent two weeks in the hospital and when he was discharged he continued to complain of constant low-back pain, which prevented him from lifting and bending. His doctor advised him that as a result of the heavy nature of his work at the Ford plant, he should stay off work for at least six months. It took a whole lot --
Mr Daigeler: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Under standing order 23(m) I would like to ask whether the arrogant and self-appointed monopolizing of the business of the House for the last two weeks by one member of the House offends the practices and precedents of this House or of any other democratically elected parliamentary institution.
Mr Kormos: What we are talking about here is a scenario that will unfold if we do not vote against time allocation and if we similarly, as a result of that, do not have full debate about Bill 68. Because if we do not have full debate on Bill 68, if we are not permitted to debate it fully as it deserves, I fear that there are enough Liberals here that it will pass. It will become law.
Why we need full debate is so that we in the opposition have enough opportunity to persuade, through argument, 30 to 35 Liberal backbenchers who want to keep their ridings in the next election to vote against Bill 68. A part of that argument will be an illustration of what Bill 68 entails. We cannot divorce Bill 68 from the time allocation motion.
If Bill 68 were a modest or trivial bit of law that had marginal impact on very few people, then it would be hard for me to argue against time allocation, but to the contrary, it is a complex and weighty matter that requires full consideration. It is exactly this scenario that I am talking about. We are talking about a province wherein there has been time closure, wherein the Liberals have used their arrogant majority to have their way and the way of the auto insurance industry, because we are talking about a time in April 1992 when a family can become innocent injured victims. We are talking about what happens to them under Bill 68.
I should tell you, Mr Speaker, that Burt Dandy from Manitoulin Island, who is the past president of the Scarborough West Provincial Liberal Association, just phoned my office from Manitoulin to say no way to Bill 68.
What happened to Bill Innocent? We heard about the broken vertebra in his lower back. We heard about the prohibition by his doctor from returning to work because of the heavy lifting and the bending required at the Ford plant where Bill Innocent works. We heard -- we will now -- about the painkillers that he is subjected to, the painkillers that he has to take and the time that it is going to take for the vertebra to heal. We are then talking about a succession of physiotherapy, more pain pills and more muscle relaxants.
We are talking about a scenario wherein the doctor was overly optimistic, where six months was not enough for recovery to take place. Rather, the doctor -- he cannot be faulted for his optimism -- underestimated recovery time by a full 100 per cent, where indeed it was a year before Bill Innocent could return to work after the accident.
He went back to work and continues to suffer pain, but he persevered at his job. His doctor assured him, just as the doctors assured his wife, Mary Innocent, that eventually he would be fully recovered.
What happened is that the ongoing discomfort, which the doctor assured him would eventually disappear, made his work much more difficult than it had been before the accident. Indeed, it made it impossible for Bill Innocent, in 1993 now, to work any overtime. In the past, he had worked a whole lot of overtime. Part of the family’s prosperity was due to his eagerness to work extra hours. In the year prior to the accident, he had made some $5,000 in overtime. In the year in which he returned to work, he made not a penny in overtime because the pain, the discomfort, his own disability prevented him from taking on that overtime work. His own wage continuation plan -- indeed, the employer provided one -- paid him some $600 a week before he was able to return to work.
Mr Speaker, I will tell you why this scenario is important to consider. It is because if we do not have a full debate about Bill 68, if we are not given an opportunity during committee of the whole House to confront the Minister of Financial Institutions with these various facets of Bill 68, there will not have been an adequate consideration of the effect of Bill 68 on drivers, on taxpayers and on innocent injured victims, like the Innocent family is here in this illustration.
Noel Fault is the fellow who went through a stop sign. He made $650 a week working at a gas bar. Noel Fault suffered some injuries too. He had injuries to his head, his neck and his back, and his injuries were such that he could not return to work.
It has been contended by a whole lot of people that Bill 68, in more than the rare circumstance, will treat the drunk driver better than it will treat his victim. It has been proposed by more than a few that Bill 68 can treat a drunk driver better than it can treat that drunk driver’s victim. John Bates from People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere knows that and he tried to tell the government that.
I tell you, Mr Speaker, that is the very sort of thing that has to be dealt with during the course of committee of the whole House. That is why two mere short afternoons are thoroughly inadequate for a proper discussion of Bill 68 and what it means for drivers, taxpayers and victims. If you think that it is fanciful to suggest that drunk drivers can be treated better than victims under Bill 68, under this Liberal auto insurance scheme, the one the auto insurance industry wants, and you think it does not warrant consideration and discussion during a careful, lengthy, appropriate, timed debate, listen to this, please.
We are talking about Noel Fault, who had seven or eight beers after a fight with his girlfriend that early Sunday morning, who hopped into his car, went through a stop sign and rammed the Innocent vehicle in the side, injuring all four occupants of that vehicle. Under the terms of the Liberals’ Bill 68, Noel Fault, as an at-fault driver, was entitled to collect 80 per cent of his wages up to a maximum of $600 from his own insurer for that period of time that he was disabled. In the case of Noel Fault, earning $650 a week at his job, unable to work, injured as a drunk driver in that accident, his insurer is obligated to pay him $520 a week while he is disabled.
This is the proverbial caveat, because the Liberals would tend to crow about the fact that if he were convicted of impaired driving, his insurer had the right to ask for the money back. Let me develop this, and the members will find it as remarkable as tens and hundreds of thousands of people across Ontario do right now. Because you know, Mr Speaker, that because of the backlog in the provincial court system it is going to turn out that Noel Fault will not be brought to trial for his impaired driving until some two years after the accident. He will be convicted, but by that time his insurer will have paid him $53,040 at the rate of $520 a week.
The Liberals would say, “Ah, but the insurance company can look for its money back.” But by the time two years has passed and the insurance company has paid him $53,040, it will look at the practicality of the matter and it will decide that it undoubtedly will be a waste of time and money to sue him since Noel Fault’s only asset was the job to which he had returned. The insurer will simply close its file. That is not speculative. That is exactly what is going to happen.
Mr Kormos: You hear the squeaking from the Liberal ranks now and you realize that this calls out for debate. What a contentious issue, and it should be a matter of great concern to everybody in this assembly. The fact, the proposition, that Bill 68 could treat a drunk driver better than his victim calls out for thorough debate. That is why this time allocation motion has to be defeated.
Cliff Pottruff from Burlington said in his phone call to me he voted Liberal for 20 years, but if this bill goes through this is the last time he will have voted Liberal. Cliff Pottruff from Burlington says if the Premier is so sure about this bill, why will he not let the public have a vote on it? Why will he not go to the polls with it? Why will he not debate it in the Legislature? Why does he want to gag the opposition? Why does he want to muzzle the opposition?
Let me get back to the Innocents. We are talking about 1993 now. The Innocent family was referred by a family friend to a lawyer, a former cabinet minister now in private practice by the name of Great Scott. They saw that lawyer in December 1993. He listened to them as they related their injuries and losses and he concluded that none of them had suffered a permanent, serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature, which is, of course, the threshold. This imaginary lawyer in this scenario, one Great Scott, concluded that none of the four Innocents met the threshold. Notwithstanding the severity of the injuries, not one of those four Innocents could be compensated for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life as a result of Bill 68.
Additionally, they were advised by that same lawyer that there was no economic loss which, under the provisions of Bill 68, entitled any of them to claim against either Noel Fault, the at-fault party or their own insurer.
That same lawyer in 1993 had to tell them that as a result of Bill 68 having been passed by the Liberals, they could not go to the courts to enforce any remedies against the at-fault party. What this meant was that Chris, the 15-year-old daughter, the tennis player, the high school student, would not be compensated for her confinement to the hospital, for her pain and suffering, for her loss of enjoyment of life. She would not be compensated for the loss of a school year and for the destruction of a promising professional tennis career. She could not even sue for the tennis camp fees. Remember, in the summer of 1992, the summer tennis camp down in Florida that she had paid the fees for, that were not refundable, but that she was prevented from going to because she was an innocent victim in a motor vehicle accident? Bill 68 prohibited her, it barred her, it forbade her, from even collecting the fees that she had paid out of pocket for the summer tennis camp in Florida.
Jack, the medical student, was entitled to nothing, not a penny, not a nickel, not a dime, for his pain and suffering and for the loss of one year’s income as a doctor. Let’s remember, as a result of his injuries he had to repeat his final year of medical school, yet he was entitled to nothing, not a penny, because of Bill 68 having been passed in 1990.
Now Mr and Mrs Innocent Sr. the parents, could not sue Noel Fault. They were forbidden. They were forbidden by Bill 68 from suing Noel Fault for their pain and suffering and for Mrs Innocent’s, Mary Innocent’s, depression. Mr Innocent received no credit for having a wage continuation plan at work and, to boot, he was prohibited, he was barred, he was forbidden from suing for his wage loss over and above what he received from work because that was not an allowable claim under Bill 68. His inability to work overtime, perhaps for the rest of his life, is similarly not something for which he can recover compensation. He is an innocent victim, an innocent injured victim. He is not at fault; he did not do anything wrong.
Mrs Innocent, Mary Innocent, a high school teacher, could not sue for the loss of one year’s accumulated sick days, nor could she sue for the three months that she lost when the accident caused her to use up her sick days. None of those four Innocents could sue Noel Fault nor even their own insurer for the loss of companionship that each had suffered because of the hospitalization and the effect on the quality of their lives for the months following the accident.
Noel Fault would not be liable to pay anything to any member of the Innocent family. This is a drunk driver who went through a stop sign, smashed into their car and smashed their bodies. But Noel Fault, as a result of Bill 68, would be cleared of any liability, would be protected from any liability for his damage, his injuries inflicted on members of the Innocent family. Mr and Mrs Innocent, with their two insurance policies with the Peter and Son Insurance Co -- and other than the collision loss, not one penny was payable to any member of the Innocent family under either policy. You are talking about Bill 68 as a piece of legislation that will compensate people for smashed vehicles but will not compensate them for smashed and torn bodies.
Now up to December 1993, as you know, Mr Speaker, Noel Fault had received many thousands of dollars from his own insurer as wage replacement because he had not yet been convicted of drunk or impaired driving. The Innocents ask how such an unjust result happened in an enlightened society like Ontario.
Did I tell members? In December 1993, when they are at their lawyer’s office, his lawyer, one Great Scott, would tell them that his job as a lawyer is just to interpret the law, that he does not make it. Despondent and dejected, the Innocents would leave Great Scott’s office, go home, probably call the friend who had referred them to that same lawyer, one Great Scott, and say, “Look, is there anybody else you can have us go see?” Having been referred to a second lawyer, that lawyer could listen to the suffering and disruption that this family had endured for close to two years, but all he would be able to offer them would be his sympathy. He would undoubtedly tell them that it is his duty to tell them that if they had sustained the injuries and losses before Bill 68 was passed, they would be compensated justly for pain and suffering, for loss of enjoyment of life, for excess economic loss, for loss of companionship and for loss of opportunities.
Young Chris Innocent would have been compensated for the lost fees that she paid to the tennis club for the summer tennis camp in Florida. If those injuries had been imposed on them prior to the passage of Bill 68 they would have been compensated as innocent injured victims, but those injuries having been incurred in 1992, not a penny of compensation, yet the drunk driver receives in excess of $50,000.
Needless to say, the Innocents, when told that in December 1993, are dumfounded. They say, “You mean we get nothing and yet the drunk driver gets in excess of $50,000?” and they would exclaim, “What’s wrong?” They would exclaim: “That can’t be. That’s not justice. What can we do?” By 1992 or 1993, or even by 1991, if the Liberals pass Bill 68, it will have been too late. I tell members this, if there is not a full debate about Bill 68, as Bill 68 warrants, it will be passed in a perfunctory way. The time allocation motion that the Liberals have imposed on this Legislature and that we are debating now would give but two brief afternoons for discussion of Bill 68 in committee of the whole.
During that time, the Liberals would be presenting some 30-plus amendments to clean up the drafting shortcomings of the bill, and then the Conservative Party has some 20-plus amendments of their own. In two brief afternoons the amendments being proposed would not even be read, never mind any opportunity to ask the Minister of Financial Institutions about how it can be that Bill 68 could treat a drunk driver better than an innocent injured victim.
This has to be asked of the Minister of Financial Institutions: How could it be that a victim like Chris Innocent would not even be compensated for the fees she paid for a summer tennis camp in Florida, as an innocent injured victim? How can it be that a young man like Jack Innocent who, as a result of his injuries received as an innocent injured victim, when he loses a year of medical school and has a delayed entry of one year into the workforce and loses a year’s income as a young doctor, how can it be that he as an innocent injured victim is not compensated for that?
How can it be that Bill 68 would compensate people for a damaged car, but refuse to compensate them for broken bones and smashed vertebrae, torn tendons and ripped nerves? That is why we need full debate about Bill 68, because these are incredibly contentious issues that call out for full debate. People across the province have concern about what Bill 68 will do for them.
That is why Robert Woodward phoned in this afternoon, to say that he just called the Premier’s office to lodge his opposition to Bill 68. That is why Gary Shillington from Mississauga says, “Good for the opposition and too bad for the Liberals if they persist in this time allocation motion.” That is why David Martin from Sarnia phoned this afternoon and said, “It’s about time politicians started listening to the people of Ontario and Canada, on both the provincial and the federal levels.”
Remember when we talked about Mr Justice Haines’s critique of Bill 68? We noted that Mr Justice Haines concluded that if Bill 68 is passed -- and I say if it is passed without full debate -- then the people of Ontario will almost inevitably come to the conclusion that they have been sold out by their government in exchange for the interests of the auto insurance industry. What is worthy of remark is that that is not solely the opinion of Mr Justice Haines. That reflection is being made by people daily in their calls to Queen’s Park. That is exactly what people like David Martin from Sarnia are talking about. He says that it is time that politicians started listening to the people of Ontario and Canada, on both the provincial and federal levels.
People are making the link between the Liberals at Queen’s Park and the Tories on Parliament Hill. The people of Ontario are understanding that just as the Parliament Hill Tories will use closure to force the GST on the people of Canada, the Liberals here at Queen’s Park will use closure, time allocation, to force Bill 68 on the people of Ontario. The GST is no more justifiable than Bill 68 is here at Queen’s Park.
Douglas Weir of Toronto phoned in and said he opposed Bill 68, and he wants full debate, which means that we have to defeat this time allocation motion. Douglas Dalzell is a man from Elmira, Ontario. Douglas Dalzell from Elmira says that the fight has to be kept up. He refers back to the Magna Carta and talks about how significant that was in our history and how this motion by the Liberals is an assault on that centuries-old tradition that the Magna Carta embodies.
Mr Kormos: The personalities are quite irrelevant, I suppose, but what is significant is the need for full debate, the need for full discussion, the need for an opportunity, as I have said, to convince enough Liberal backbenchers to simply vote against time allocation and then, given enough time to adequately debate Bill 68, to vote against Bill 68.
Did you see this copy of Toronto Life, Mr Speaker, from March 1990? The feature article and the cover story is on how to fight back. Here is this great big guy here acting arrogant with his arms crossed and his chest puffed out and here is this little feisty scrapper there, much smaller, but you see this big arrogant guy with the smirk on his face, with his arms crossed, is like the Liberals here at Queen’s Park: smirking, a look of disdain on his face, a smear, no respect for tradition, no respect for the community, no respect for the rights of citizens. And here is an opposition. It is not a big opposition. We wish it were bigger. We wish that we did not have to fight so hard to defeat the time allocation motion. We wish that there were enough members of the opposition to simply vote it down. We wish, Mr Speaker, that we did not have to fight so hard about Bill 68 that we would have to plead with you and with the members of this Legislative Assembly to permit a lengthier debate than is being permitted by virtue of the time allocation motion, this closure motion. But do you know what, Mr Speaker? This big arrogant bully here does not have the support of the people of Ontario, and I say the opposition here at Queen’s Park, albeit perhaps small in numbers does.
That is why Barry Day from Haliburton would phone in at 5:25 this afternoon, insulted, he says, with what the Liberals are doing. They have lost sight of their purpose, and he would insist that this be an election issue.
That is why Bill Horne from Wasaga Beach would phone this afternoon, as a veteran and a senior citizen, and say that if Bill 68 goes through he will not be able to afford insurance, he will have to give up his car, and there is no public transit in Wasaga Beach.
That is why Dennis Chamberlain from Thunder Bay would call and say that he has been watching what has been happening here at Queen’s Park for the last two weeks and that the time used in this House over this debate is not the opposition’s fault but is the fault of the Liberals, because the end of this debate could occur like that. All the Liberal House leader has to do is stand up and withdraw that crummy motion.
That is why Bill Taylor, who called from St Catharines, said to us that he hoped the next message that would be brought to me would be one from the member for Guelph, wherein the member for Guelph would say that yes, the government will debate Bill 68, that the government will abandon its time allocation motion, that the government will take off its jackboots and talk about the issues so that the members of this Legislative Assembly can make a learned decision based on reason and not based on their sense of devotion to a greedy, greedy, powerful auto insurance industry.
That is why L1oyd Styles from Waterloo would call, mad as one could ever be, just mad as all get out, about the Liberals’ effort to impose closure on the opposition here at Queen’s Park. That is why L1oyd Styles would say that he has got full support for the opposition on the time closure argument and on the issue of Bill 68 itself.
Dan Arnold from Belgrave would say: “Keep going. Bury the Liberals.” He voted Liberal last election, but not again. Dan Arnold from Belgrave voted Liberal before, but not if Bill 68 gets passed. And that is the whole point.
Sadly, I guess, for their own personal careers and for their families, there are Liberal members of this Legislature who, if they support Bill 68, are going to be defeated in the next general election. They have an opportunity. There are Liberal backbenchers right here at Queen’s Park who have an opportunity to maintain the support of their constituents, if only they would stand up and say, loudly and clearly, “No, I’m not going to be part of a scenario that is being manipulated and controlled and directed by the auto insurance industry,” if those same Liberal members would shake off the grip that the auto insurance industry has on their caucus and say: “No, I’ve had enough of the auto insurance industry. This time I’m going to vote for my constituents. This time I’m going to vote for the people I represent here at Queen’s Park, the people of my riding. This time I’m going to vote for the people of Willowdale,” or Etobicoke West, or York East, or Carleton East. Those same Liberals members would probably be re-elected in the next general election, if they stood up and voted against Bill 68, if they voted for the drivers, the taxpayers and the innocent injured victims instead of voting for the auto insurance companies of Ontario, because what they are going to learn is that drivers can vote, auto insurance companies cannot.
Frank Cesario from Weston, Ontario, phoned this afternoon to indicate that he is fully behind the opposition, that he used to be a Liberal but not any more, because of Bill 68 and because of this time allocation motion. Frank Cesario from Weston is one more person among thousands and tens and hundreds of thousands of voters in this province who are not going to be voting for their Liberal members next time, if their Liberal members persist in supporting Bill 68.
Robert Begin from Stoney Creek phoned in and said he has been watching for three weeks now. He is pleased with the job that the opposition is doing on this time allocation motion. He says he was a 40-year Liberal who, because of Bill 68, no more. Robert Begin knows that Bill 68 is an attack on the drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims in Ontario and that the only real reason why Liberals would support Bill 68 is because they want to enhance the profits of the auto insurance industry to the tune of $1 billion in the first year alone. Well, Robert Begin is like thousands and thousands of other people in this province who used to vote Liberal but will not vote Liberal any more, because of Bill 68.
Here is a message from Fred Green of St Catharines. He says that he is against Bill 68. Here is a message from Tammy Hagar and her father Melvin from Matheson, Ontario, who are opposed to Bill 68 and to time allocation. Matt Napier calls this afternoon and says no to time allocation, says no to no-fault, says no to the Liberal auto insurance scheme.
Lesley Penwarden from St Catharines calls and expresses great concern about the assault on democracy that this Liberal time allocation motion means. That is what it is. It is a direct attack on democracy. It is a direct attack on fairness. It is a direct attack on the rights of every driver, every taxpayer, every victim right here in the province of Ontario. That is what this Liberal time allocation motion is.
Lesley Penwarden will not have anything to do with it. She calls this a horrendous piece of legislation. She talks of the Liberals as a government that cannot see the forest for the trees. She says that the government is unaware that it is a minion for the large corporations who are manipulating it. They are transforming our society from a democratic one to a new corporate federalism. A new corporate federalism, that is what Lesley Penwarden says the Liberals are all about.
Sarah Truax from Bruce Street in Welland calls and she says there should be a debate on Bill 68, that Bill 68 is serious enough and complex enough and significant enough to warrant full and meaningful debate.
Vicky Mason from Nepean says it is time for democracy in Ontario, not a dictatorship. Time allocation is important to Ms Mason. Time allocation is important to Ms Mason because she thinks that Bill 68 is significant enough that it warrants full and lengthy debate, full and thorough debate.
Don Comi, the president of the Niagara District Injured Workers’ Organization, has great concern with the auto insurance bill that is being proposed. He feels that the Liberal government is ramming it through. He asks, “Don’t they have any concern for the voters in Ontario?” People like Don Comi from the Niagara District Injured Workers’ Organization are trying to give a message to the Liberals here at Queen’s Park that the voters are concerned, that the voters are vitally interested in whether or not there is full debate on Bill 68. The voters of Ontario would insist on full debate of Bill 68.
Dustin Luckett from Port Hope calls in to the opposition saying, “Keep it up,” and insists that the time allocation motion be abandoned by withdrawal by the mover, the Liberal House leader, or defeated with enough support from Liberal backbenchers.
William and Robert Ayling from Toronto phone in and they are from the riding of York South. They say, “Keep the pressure on.” They are very disturbed. William and Robert Ayling from York South are very disturbed that there is not going to be full debate on Bill 68. They are very disturbed about that.
Ian Smith of Port Colborne phones up. He supports what the opposition is doing because he knows that Bill 68 requires meaningful debate if the people of Ontario are going to be adequately served. It requires meaningful debate if we are going to be able to persuade the 30 or 35 Liberal backbenchers to vote against the legislation, those 30 or 35 Liberal backbenchers who want to keep their jobs as members of the provincial Parliament, those 30 or 35 Liberal backbenchers who have the courage to abandon the interests of the big auto insurance companies and to start looking out for the interests of drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims here in the province of Ontario.
David Small, a student here in Toronto, thinks it is very important that we speak out for the drivers, taxpayers and victims, and he thinks it is important that the time allocation motion be defeated.
These are all people who have called me at 965-7714 here at Queen’s Park. They have called my Queen’s Park number, 965-7714, and we are pleased to be able to talk to them. Come tomorrow morning, those same people may well call the Premier of Ontario right here at Queen’s Park. Those people who call us and who are concerned about what is happening here in this Legislature by virtue of this time allocation motion have a right to let the Premier know that too; and maybe, just maybe, the Premier will tell the Liberal House leader to withdraw the motion.
If those people want to call the Premier tomorrow, they should call him at 416-965-1941, and the people who do not live in Toronto, the people calling from Wetland, Nepean, Port Hope or Thunder Bay or from all those places across Ontario that they have been calling from, should call collect. They should call the Premier collect at 965-1941 and they should insist on talking to the Premier himself. They should not take any guff from his staff. They should tell his staff that they want to talk directly with the Premier of Ontario because they pay his wages.
All those people who want this time allocation motion defeated pay the wages of the Premier of Ontario and they should insist that he talk to them so they can tell him to tell his Liberal House leader to withdraw this time allocation motion so that we can talk about Bill 68. That is all we have ever wanted to do.
Don Hickey in Mississauga acknowledges, like a lot of people have, and Don Hickey has never voted New Democrat, that he will have nothing to do with the time allocation motion of the Liberals. Don Hickey from Mississauga wants to hear a full debate on time allocation.
Frances Nand from Mississauga used to be a hard-core Liberal supporter. Frances Nand calls and says, “No support for them, a bunch of thugs.” Frances Nand is totally disgusted. That is what this time allocation motion is doing in communities across Ontario, not just here in Toronto but in places like Belleville that Rachel Ence calls from and says that she is scared to death of Bill 68 and that she wants it opposed. She wants the time allocation motion opposed so that there can be a full debate about Bill 68.
George Tkaczyk from Mississauga is totally opposed to Bill 68. This gentleman wants there to be a full debate about all the issues surrounding Bill 68 and all the impact it is going to have on drivers and taxpayers and innocent injured victims here in the province of Ontario.
John Greco of Huntley Street in Toronto calls in to say, “Thanks for reminding the Liberals what democracy is about.” His insurance premiums doubled; they went up by 100 per cent. Why? Because he went to Florida for six months and his insurance had to lapse. John Greco knows that he cannot count on the Liberals in Ontario to protect his interests when it comes to auto insurance companies and he knows that he certainly cannot rely on the auto insurance companies.
Don Morris from Mississauga is “disgusted with the way the Liberals are trying to ram the bill down our throats.” He does not want to see this time allocation motion succeed; he wants to see it defeated.
Mr and Mrs Hamilton from Hogdon Avenue in Toronto call. Mr Hamilton is a senior. His premium already went up 25 per cent. So much for caps on premium increases. Mr Hamilton was probably a victim of the premium shuffle. Remember the Scottish and York Insurance Co Ltd and Victoria Insurance Co of Canada flip?
Again, that is why the Liberals do not want to debate Bill 68. They do not want to have to be accountable for how it is that they could have let the insurance companies run roughshod over drivers and victims in Ontario. Mr and Mrs Hamilton ask, “If the Liberals are for this, then why are they afraid of debate? Why do the Liberals flee from debate if they are so supportive of Bill 68?”
Here is an interesting comment from Claire Agranov from Essex Street here in Toronto. Claire Agranov is an insurance agent. She says: “No fault, no way. It just can’t be permitted to go through. It is going to hurt too many people. There has to be a full debate about it in this Legislature so that people of Ontario can see and hear all the issues being canvassed.” Otherwise, it is nothing but jackboot politics.
That is really whom it is being imposed on. It is not being imposed just on the opposition. This motion before us right now imposes closure not just on the New Democrats, not just on the Progressive Conservatives at Queen’s Park; it imposes closure on all Ontario. It imposes closure on all the drivers, all the taxpayers and all the innocent injured victims, both today and tomorrow, in Ontario.
Michael Cacaba from Castlefield Avenue in Toronto calls and says that the opposition is doing a good job. He encourages the opposition to keep up the good work. He says no way to no-fault and no way to time allocation, because it is closure not just on the New Democrats, closure not just on the Conservatives, but closure on all of the people in Ontario.
Ken and Joyce Green from Guelph, Ontario phone and understand that what we are trying to do is to get the government to run this province the way it should be run, by the will of the people. Ken and Joyce Green tell us that they have always voted Liberal, but they will never vote Liberal again because of this time allocation motion. Of course, I know you want to thank Ken and Joyce Green, Mr Speaker.
On Monday 23 April, we will proceed with the government notice of motion 30 and second reading of Bills 108, 96, 107, 106 and 114. On Tuesday, the House will recess after routine proceedings and the budget will be presented at 4 pm.
On Wednesday, we will proceed with any unfinished business carried over from Monday, followed by the response of the official opposition to the budget. On Thursday in the morning, it will be private members’ business in the names of Mr Sterling and Mr Carrothers. In the afternoon, it will be any unfinished business from the previous days of the week, followed by the official opposition response to the budget.