Mr Sterling: For those students here today and for those people who may be watching this debate on television, I want to indicate to them that this is a private member’s bill. I hope this will be a private member’s bill that will be a little bit different in that it may gain the government’s support in calling it for third reading. For the past 12 years in which I have sat as a member of this Legislature, I have only seen approximately half a dozen private members’ bills called for third reading and therefore go through the whole legislative process.
I hope members of the public who support the concept of this bill will take the time to write to the Attorney General and their MPP in support of this legislation if they agree with it. When I introduced this bill two or three weeks ago, I did not expect to get such a number of responses back from members of the public about their feelings on this legislation.
I want to quote a letter that was written to a colleague of mine, the Liberal member for Mississauga East. One paragraph succinctly puts the need for this legislation: “I have seen the need for such legislation in my own family, in my own career as a social worker in the community and as an active volunteer in the hospital setting. Medical technology has outpaced our body of laws.”
It is my attempt today to start the debate in this province in relation to the efforts of many of our older citizens in particular who want to die with dignity. I have introduced in this Legislature Bill 131 and Bill 132, which I am going to talk about, although in the strictest sense we are only dealing with Bill 131. This entire issue centres around the mental capacity or the ability of a person to control his destiny once that mental capacity is lost as a result of an accident or illness.
Many members are probably aware of the significance of a power of attorney. A power of attorney allows me as an individual to appoint someone else to deal with the matters of my estate or to sign cheques on my behalf or to sign a deed on my behalf. In other words, through the power of a written document, I allow someone else to sign on my behalf if I cannot be there. It used to be that when I gave someone else this right, that power of attorney was lost if in fact I lost my mental capacity. Perhaps some have thought that, since I have indicated I may be seeking re-election again this next time around.
In 1983, when I was privileged to serve in the cabinet of the previous government as Provincial Secretary for Justice, I carried an amendment to the Powers of Attorney Act. At that time, I had considerable consultations with groups like the Alzheimer society and recognized the difficulty for those afflicted with that disease. These individuals could give their power of attorney to a spouse or a friend but, when Alzheimer’s disease took full effect and their mental capacity was lost, the power of attorney became null and void.
The amendment which I proposed at that time and which was carried by this Legislature as a government bill allowed Alzheimer sufferers to plan for their future while they were still mentally competent. They could then and they can now give their power of attorney to someone, knowing that their estate will be taken care of even after they lose the ability to make decisions themselves.
The Powers of Attorney Amendment Act which I am now proposing deals with much the same issue, although it does not deal with assets but with the power to make decisions regarding medical care. I am proposing a durable power of attorney with respect to the consent and withdrawal of consent to medical treatment after we lose the power to make that decision ourselves. It is an idea that is borrowed from the United States where all 50 states have durable power of attorney legislation. More recently, two Canadian provinces have recognized the durable power of attorney, and both Quebec and Nova Scotia have designed their own durable power of attorney legislation.
The durable power of attorney will provide the authority to a given representative that continues even though the person who has given that power of attorney has lost mental capacity. It will allow someone to appoint someone to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. The appointed person can then be called upon by a health care provider to determine if treatment should be given, continued or discontinued.
The purpose of this bill is to allow an individual to personally select a representative who will speak on his or her behalf in medical consent matters before the need arises. In this way, the wishes of the patient cannot be ignored. I feel this will not only benefit the patient but also make it easier for hospital staff, who are often torn between doing what is humane and doing what is legal or what they perceive as being legal. Now they have someone to whom they can turn to make that final determination.
Take the example of an elderly woman who lives with a companion. Let us imagine that she has been estranged from her husband for a number of years but has not gone through the formal process of divorce. She discovers she is suffering from a terminal illness which will affect her mental capacity. She knows that soon she will not be able to make important decisions, including those regarding her future medical care.
She decides she wants her companion to speak on her behalf when she is no longer able to do so. She discusses this matter with her friend and requests that once her disease progresses and her mental capacity is lost, she does not want her dying to be unduly prolonged through artificial means. She now feels confident that her friend will use the best possible judgement when the situation arises.
Under our present law in Ontario, the friend who knows the patient and who knows the wishes of the patient would be ignored because the friend has no legal status and the hospital would feel obliged to ignore this advice and look to the family, however remote they might be. Out of caution, the hospital may decide to continue treatment long after the patient would have wanted it and may continually resuscitate her.
I only need talk briefly about the current situation with regard to the disease of AIDS in Ontario. Unfortunately, in some cases, a family abandons the particular individual who is afflicted with that disease. In those very important cases, I think it would be most prudent for us to pass a piece of legislation like this so that we can give people afflicted with such an awful disease the comfort that at least someone else whom they trust will be able to make decisions on their behalf should they lose mental capacity and be dying.
We plan for birth. We plan for college. We plan for taxes. We plan for retirement. But so dreaded are the thoughts of death that only a third of us leave a will when we die, let alone prepare advance instructions on medical care. Laws must keep abreast of social reality, and the reality is that if given a choice in a terminal situation, people generally would not wish to be nor would they expect to be indefinitely kept alive by artificial means.
Mr Polsinelli: Like the member for Carleton, I think I would, in responding to second reading of Bill 131, address the issues contained not only in Bill 131 but also in Bill 132, An Act respecting Natural Death.
As I understand it, the central principle of this bill is that anyone, when mentally capable of addressing the issue, should be allowed by law to choose and in writing designate another to act in the event of the maker’s subsequent mental incapacity to consent to his or her medical treatment, to refuse consent to treatment or to authorize the withdrawal of medical treatment.
Bill 132 establishes a means whereby a competent person can express his or her intentions with respect to withholding and withdrawing procedures that merely sustain life in the event of a terminal condition and have those intentions respected. It is clear that in this day and age, when medical technology can keep comatose and terminally ill patients alive indefinitely, a means must be found whereby people can have their intentions known and respected.
It is interesting that in the law of Ontario today the only place where a right similar to this actually exists is in the Mental Health Act, where a person may appoint another to make decisions on psychiatric treatment if that person later becomes mentally incompetent. It does not exist in any other area of the law. I think, from my personal point of view, as the member for Carleton and many of the members of this Legislature do, that it should.
Earlier this year the Court of Appeal of Ontario confirmed the principle that competent adults are at liberty to refuse medical treatment even at the risk of death. I think it is important that we perhaps explore a little bit the fundamentals of that case.
That case involved a Jehovah’s Witness who carried a card stating that, as a Jehovah’s Witness, she did not want a transfusion of any blood or any blood-related products. The physician, irrespective of her wishes, administered the transfusion because the patient was close to death. The witness laid a charge of assault against the doctor. The Court of Appeal held in that decision that the doctor had technically committed a battery in not abiding by the direction of the card -- a very important point.
It also stated that the doctor cannot later be held to have violated either his legal duty or professional responsibility towards the patient or the patient’s dependants when he honours the Jehovah’s Witness card and respects the patient’s right to control her own body in accordance with the dictates of her conscience -- a very important point, a confirmation that a competent adult can refuse medical treatment even at the risk of death.
If I can refuse medical treatment for myself and I am confident, why should I not be able to designate and delegate that responsibility to another competent adult? I support the intention of this bill. This bill would establish an enduring power of attorney that would give people the means of expressing their intentions through their attorney and providing directions to their attorney.
As the honourable member for Carleton knows, this concept in a more elaborate and extended form is part of the recommendations of the Fram committee. The Fram committee is a government committee, the Advisory Committee on Substitute Decision-Making for Mentally Incapable Persons, whose report I am sure the member has; it was published in October 1988.
That committee was chaired by Stephen Fram, who is counsel with the Ministry of the Attorney General, and was composed of five government ministries and offices and nominees of many organizations with interests in this area of law. For example, involved in the committee were the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, the Ontario Association for Community Living, the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens, the Alzheimer Society of Metropolitan Toronto, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ontario Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
It is clear that this very issue on substitute decision-making and a living will is under constant advisement by the government. The government has taken an active role in looking at that issue and seeing what should be done. Quite frankly, along with the Ministry of Health, which has the responsibility of dealing with natural death, we are at the point where we can make a cabinet submission and have cabinet deal with the very important policy issues that have to be considered in this matter.
While we feel that Bill 132, An Act respecting Natural Death, has been adequately addressed by the member, Bill 131, the one dealing with the durable power of attorney, does require some amendments and is technically weak in the way that it is structured. A number of things should have been put in the bill that would make it a little bit better. For example, in dealing with the durable power of attorney, should we not ensure that there are safeguards in the bill so that anyone who has been given this durable power of attorney is competent himself, do we want to ensure competency on the part of the person who is getting the power of attorney, do we want to ensure procedural safeguards in terms of the signing of the actual power of attorney, do we want witnesses -- that kind of stuff? We may even want a centralized record, for example, of these durable powers of attorney. How do we ensure that in fact a durable power of attorney was given? We want any advocates to visit the individual prior to executing this document.
While we can support these two bills and their concepts -- we think they are good ideas and I will personally be voting in favour of them -- I think they do require a little further study and analysis in terms of the actual bills themselves, in terms of the procedural safeguards that are required in the bills. So while I will be supporting the bills, we look forward to the government introducing its own legislation in this regard, hopefully later on this year.
Mrs Grier: I am really pleased to have the opportunity to participate in a debate on the subject of the Powers of Attorney Amendment Act, as well as the companion legislation, or Bill 132, An Act respecting Natural Death, the living will, which would recognize the right of adult persons to make written declarations instructing physicians to either withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition. It is difficult to discuss Bill 131, the one that is particularly before us today, which would provide for a durable power of attorney, without also making reference to Bill 132.
I want to commend the member for Carleton for bringing forward this legislation and certainly indicate my support and my hope that the government will look very seriously at the pieces of legislation that the member for Carleton has introduced and move forward to put them into the law of this province.
The question of how and when we are going to die is something that we do not discuss very often in our society, but that does not mean that there is not a broad interest in it. As people get older, they think about it. They may not talk about it with their friends or their companions, but they certainly think about how the end of their life is going to occur and what that means, and in the vast majority of the cases they want to make preparation for that in a way that will not cause problems for their families. If I have found one thing with people as they get older, it is their very real concern that they not be a burden. They want to have things laid out, in the majority of cases, so that their families and friends will not be faced with making difficult decisions, so that the persons, as they grow older, have laid out very clearly their own wishes and what they want to see happen as they become older and as they become, in many cases, unable to look after themselves.
It is ironic that, with the advances of science and with the technology of health care, we have always been way ahead of changes in the legal and the social systems of our society. We have the technology to prolong life naturally, so that people are dying at a much later stage than they did even 20 or 30 years ago and we have the means of prolonging life artificially. As people approach their three score years and 10, or in many cases their four score or four score years and 10, I find that they fear death less than they fear the loss of independence and the indignity that goes with approaching of the end of their lives.
We have said so often in our policies and statements in this House and outside it how much we wish to support the independence of the elderly. We talk about providing home care systems, we talk about providing Meals on Wheels, we talk about providing the means by which people can remain in their own homes, but we do not provide the legal means to allow them to translate that independence into making their own decisions.
Often the support systems we have put in place mean that people do remain out of institutions longer than they might have in earlier decades. The consequence is that when they are institutionalized they often are much more seriously ill than they would have been in earlier decades. So not only do they have the dislocation of moving from their own place, their familiar surroundings, their familiar neighbours who have perhaps helped them over the years, and the dislocation of going into an institution, they are faced with the inevitable indignities that go with being institutionalized as they get more ill and less able to look after themselves, the indignities of being cared for, of perhaps being fed, the loss of privacy that goes with being institutionalized and frequently having to share accommodation, which was not something that they had done up to that point in their life. They want very much to have control over the final decisions that are to be made about them, those decisions as to whether or not they require medical treatment.
The kind of society we have become also often means that when those people get to that stage they are not dealing with the old family doctor who has known them from childhood, or even from middle age. They may well be being cared for by people who are comparative strangers and who do not know the personality of their patient in the days before that person became ill and therefore may not recognize the stubborn streak of independence that an elderly gentleman is showing to be something that he has shown from childhood, not just something that is attributable to his final illness.
We have a medical profession that is, I think with justice, fearful of the legal repercussions of taking decisions with respect to a patient about which it may entirely sure. Often, sadly, we have a medical profession that does not listen carefully enough to its patients; it tends to know best and not hear what is in fact being said to it by its patients. Also because of the changes in our society, we have many people whose families are not there when they reach their latter years, especially if they are poor and have been isolated, have come here from a different country or have come to Toronto in the latter stages of their lives. So there is not a family or somebody who has known them intimately and who is able to support them as they try to exert independence in an institution and decide what they want to happen to them.
The legislation that has been suggested and that is before us today is perhaps not legislation that everyone would want to take advantage of, but it does provide a means for those who want to plan, who want to think ahead and select, while they are still competent, someone who will carry out their wishes. I think the legislation is long overdue and I think it has widespread support. I hope the government will not be fearful of the opposition that I know will arise from those who feel we ought not to be giving people the power to make their own decisions over life and death. I hope the government will recognize that the legislation being proposed today has been implemented in many other jurisdictions, in all 50 states in the United States. I believe we will find, when we discuss it more broadly, that there is a broad general support for it and that the government will not drag its feet, will not try to reinvent the wheel by coming up with legislation that it can claim to be its rather than something that was introduced by an opposition member, but will move forward and proceed through the process of bringing Bill 131 to law. As I say, l am very proud to support it.
Mr Cousens: We are seeing an age in which people are thinking far more about sensitive issues that go beyond the present, this day in our lives as we have it, to make sure that we have established the context for whatever could happen. We have really had a closed mind to some subjects, but I think medical science and the changes that have taken place, the high publicity on specific incidents, have allowed people to become more educated on what their rights are, what their needs are, what their wishes should be.
As we discuss these two bills before us today, the Powers of Attorney Amendment Act and the Natural Death Act, which is part of it, I think there has to be a great deal of sensitivity to what an individual wants and at what particular time he or she wants to have it. I have been very involved with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for a number of years, and it was largely through it, but other groups too, that we have on our licence form now the consent, under the Human Tissue Gift Act, where people can sign the back of their licence and certain decisions can be made following an untimely accident, or whatever happens to you, that your body parts can be passed on to someone else, again as a living gesture to someone else. Something very meaningful takes place in that, and that is something that has happened within the last number of years that makes a statement as to what you want to have done with yourself.
I think what the member for Carleton has brought forward in this bill brings forward another level of sensitivity to the way the law presently interprets what one would want to have done. I see this as a decision that I would strongly support as part of the whole movement wherein you have a power of attorney. As it stands now, as I understand it, not being a lawyer, you do not have that ability to act on medical needs for a person when you have the power of attorney unless you are a close family relative. So a friend who is close to a person who is in need could then be given this power so he could act on his or her behalf when the need arises.
One of the sensitive areas has to be with those victims of AIDS who are estranged from their families. They do not have a person of their own family who will become involved in their illness or their death or in what is happening with them in the same intimate way as a close family member might and would. In an instance such as that, this act would allow a friend who understood this person, who cared enough for him, to help him in making the right decisions as they pertain to his health.
We are seeing new drugs, we are seeing new respirators, we are seeing efforts in medical science to keep people alive who would have died. I guess one of the classic cases in the mid-1970s was that of Karen Ann Quinlan. After the parents won the case before the courts to have the respirator disconnected, she continued to live in a coma for some nine years. I guess to me the fight and battle they had with regard to the disconnection of the medical services, only to the extent of the respirator, was a battle where one really wonders whether that should be allowed to happen.
I am saying there is a benefit now for someone who does not have family and who does not have that intimate contact, someone who trusts you and someone whom you trust. If you are a Jehovah’s Witness, it means you will have someone else who can respect your own wishes as a Jehovah’s Witness regarding a transfusion or some other act. If it has to do with someone of a deep religious belief that goes beyond what the Jehovah’s Witness would ask for, then you have someone. If it is outside the family and you are no longer part of that family, someone else can fight on your behalf.
When the member for Carleton brought in these two companion pieces of legislation, he did bring in the whole suggestion of the living will. When you look at that, a living will really is a statement that a person makes, in writing, that if a terminal or irreversible condition occurs and that individual cannot communicate, then treatment should be discontinued. Its essence is that life-sustaining procedures should not be used to artificially prolong life. It does not specifically name a representative, but it does give general directions for medical care in these situations. The living will would allow health care providers to obey the wishes of the individual without any liability for their actions. It also imposes penalties for those who refuse to comply with such a request.
As we look to the future, I have to say that there is a tremendous need for all our society to look at our legal needs, at what our own will is, at the action we want to have taken with regard to power of attorney. Should these two bills pass in the Legislature -- and I sense a strong consensus, among those who have spoken anyway -- legislation could be brought forward, which would have strong support from the members of this House, that allows for that individual decision to be made with the best interests of each one of us at heart as to what medical attention would be continued to be given and also what would be the nature of the services provided should it be a very terminal illness and certain action needs to be taken that you would want to have taken.
I do not think society should legislate this for all people. I think the strength of what the member for Carleton has brought forward is it allows each of us to legislate what we want to have done for ourselves. That is a democracy at work. It allows freedom within society where there is a framework where that freedom shows great respect for each human being.
I think that we have to have more respect for all of us. Last night, when Toronto went into darkness, we saw that. People who came from other parts of Canada and the United States were so surprised that it was such a peaceful city even in the darkness. Let it be peaceful in the hearts and minds of all people when they make up their mind as to what they want to have done for themselves with regard to their life and their death and before their death, dealing with it intelligently, dealing with it not only as if it is just for seniors and elderly. Karen Ann Quinlan was a young lady who died at 31. What about our young people and people of all ages? Maybe it is something we should think of when we get married. Maybe it is something we should think of before we go to university. At some point, we should be at least stopping to consider what it is we want to have done with regard to ourselves.
Mr Daigeler: I welcome this opportunity to make a few comments on a subject of grave importance for people during the last stages of their lives on this earth. The issue is not a new one, but the member for Carleton is right in drawing all our attention once again to a serious issue of private and public morality.
At the outset, let me say that I agree with the basic premise and intentions of the member as mentioned in his speech today and in the material which he has shared with us beforehand. It is indeed a basic principle of medical ethics that individuals have the final say over the treatment by others of their physical or mental condition.
With the ever-increasing development of medical technology, this basic right has become blurred. Situations often occur where individual organ functions can be maintained with little or no prospect of a reasonable restoration of people’s health. Often enough, by then they have become unconscious or incapable of making informed decisions about their own treatment. In situations such as these, the initiatives proposed by the member are already followed in many health care settings. The attending medical personnel and the relatives and friends who care about the dignity of the dying person can find comfort in knowing the previously expressed basic mindset of the patient.
Personally, I have often felt that some highly complex medical techniques to prolong life by a few months or even years are a sign of vitalistic idolatry rather than true improvements to our quality of living. Life in this world is not eternal, nor should it be our highest objective. To pretend otherwise takes away our serene peace of mind in adverse conditions and introduces a hopeless frenzy of avoiding death at all costs.
While I have no problems, from my non-legal perspective, with the durable power of attorney amendment before us, I do have some reservations about the proposed legalization of the so-called living will. The member himself said in his press conference speech that the term “living will” is a misnomer. As with the title of the member’s act, it would be much better, therefore, to speak of a natural death will. We are dealing with highly artificial efforts to prolong the process of dying rather than efforts to extend life. It would be more appropriate and precise, therefore, to speak about “death-prolonging” rather than “life-sustaining” whenever this term is used in the current text of the bill.
Moreover, I find it unnecessary and in fact quite ambiguous to say that the withdrawal of death-prolonging procedures “shall be deemed not to be suicide,” as the bill presently does in section 7. Precision of language is exceedingly important, lest we break the radical distinction between artificial prolongation of death and the deliberate shortening of one’s life.
I am also somewhat concerned about introducing too many formal, legal provisions in times when we need, above all, care, love and good, responsible judgement. I hope the member does not want to introduce in this country the American trend towards litigation and legalization of most aspects of life. Doctors, nurses, family members and friends should rely foremost on their good, responsible and informed judgement at the time of death. Moreover, with the increasing emphasis on the need for natural death wills, it may become standard practice to treat patients as long as technically possible unless they have signed such papers. I know the member does not want to see this happen, but it may be an unintended consequence of codifying initiatives that may be quite useful as a matter of practical convenience.
Our awkward parliamentary decision-making process allows for only yes or no votes during private members’ hour. This black and white approach fails, in my opinion, to do justice to meaningful amendments that might make our legislative projects more acceptable to everyone. However, I know that the final okay for today’s bill or bills must come from cabinet, and I am confident they will take my comments and those of my colleagues into careful consideration. I will therefore support this bill today and recommend it to the government for further refinement.
Mr Reville: I will be supporting Bill 131, standing in the name of the member for Carleton, but I notice that the debate continues to get broader and includes Bill 132, An Act respecting Natural Death, which I would also be glad to support if it were indeed before the House at this time, which it is not. In fact, it would be interesting, seeing that they are indeed companion bills, if we could have a process whereby both the bills could be dealt with at the same time. There is a way to do that, I should think. It seems to me that although I would support Bill 131 receiving third reading without delay, it is unlikely that the process will occur.
Accordingly, I will support any motion made by the member for Carleton that this matter be sent to a committee. At committee we could discuss matters more properly discussed under Bill 132 as well, because these are issues that are increasingly important to us as medical technology has advanced to the stage where people may be kept alive, in a manner of speaking, almost indefinitely, although the quality of the life is very much in question.
The member for Nepean describes the private members’ hour as being a very black and white process. I do not agree at all. Whenever this chamber is considering legislation, on second reading we consider the principles of the legislation. Oft-times one votes yea because one supports the principles of the legislation but makes comment about amendments that one would like to see to the legislation in the committee of the whole House stage or in the standing committee stage. It is quite common, in fact, to support legislation on second reading in hopes of obtaining appropriate amendments and having the broad public discussion that I know we all like to see.
I have a personal connection with the Dying with Dignity people, because when I was an alderman at Metropolitan Toronto council, I was asked to chair one of their forums where the issues were debated from many sides. We had a fascinating full debate with different points of view being advanced, and with people from other jurisdictions, notably the Hemlock Society, in attendance to describe the way they approach these issues.
For me, Bill 131 is an empowering piece of legislation because it enables individuals to provide someone who they trust with directions regarding what will happen to them if they are unable to give those directions themselves. I think that has to be one of the most essential rights that an individual can have and I regret any diminution of those rights, wherever those rights may be decreased by medical practice or by our law.
The initiative of the member for Carleton is to be applauded, and I urge other members of the Legislature to vote in favour of Bill 131 at second reading, to support requests for hearings if they are made and to be prepared to come to the hearings and discuss both the Powers of Attorney Amendment Act and An Act respecting Natural Death, because I think they belong together.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I am very pleased to have the opportunity to support this legislation, Bill 131, and also to express my support for Bill 132, a companion piece of legislation commonly known as the living will.
I might also mention that in the gallery today are two constituents from Mount Forest, Mr and Mrs Earl Hunt. Mrs Hunt was very instrumental in promoting the concept of the living will in the county of Wellington and has been very supportive of the initiatives of the member for Carleton.
I congratulate my good friend and colleague the member for Carleton for bringing forth this legislation, because it is something that in my opinion is needed, especially for the benefit of our seniors. It is not legislation that is mandatory in any sense of the meaning, but it is permissive and it allows individuals to make their own decisions on something that is fundamentally their decision to make.
I would feel that if individuals, while they still have their full faculties, their mental abilities, decide that they wish certain things to happen, that they have enough confidence in an individual to entrust him with this very serious power of attorney, they should have that right to do so.
There are decisions that can be made at the time while the individual is in his full mental state that cannot be addressed at the time of an imminent death. Certainly, if the individual did not have this type of power of attorney provision, then the family and the doctors would be placed in the onerous position of having to make the decision. This would allow the person who felt that he was close to reaching the end to make some final decisions at the time as he so wished.
This, to me, makes a lot of sense. The living will goes further and has a lot of aspects to it that are certainly worth consideration. I hope that the government will at least give enough permission to the member to allow the bill, if not to go to committee, to certainly bring in a companion or similar piece of legislation so that the Legislature does have the opportunity to debate it and to put forward reasons for such legislation.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member for Elgin has asked for unanimous consent to allow the remaining two minutes for the government party to be attached to the honourable member who has presented the legislation.
During this debate, members have referred to both Bill 131 and Bill 132 and have addressed the concepts of both the durable power of attorney and the living will. Therefore, I would ask unanimous consent of this Legislature that I be permitted to move also second reading of Bill 132 at the same time. Then, when we come to vote, we will be able to vote on both Bill 131 and Bill 132.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member has brought forward a proposal for consent for allowing consideration of voting on Bill 132. Member for Carleton, are you going to be further discussing the bill in front of us?
I also want to indicate to the members who are working so hard with regard to this whole issue that today we are going to see the Liberal members vote in favour of Bill 131. But in essence what they are saying to all members is, “We are not going to permit Mr Sterling and this piece of legislation” --
Mr Sterling: Mr Speaker, I want to indicate to them that the reason so many people in Canada and Ontario are cynical towards the whole process of politics is that we find within this process a situation where members will stand up and say they support a particular principle but they are saying, for very specious reasons, “We want the government to get credit for this legislative manoeuvre and you’re going to have to wait a bloody long time before you’re going to have this legislation in front of the House again.”
The Acting Speaker: Order, honourable member for High Park-Swansea. As you well know, under our standing orders interjections are allowed from time to time, I say to the honourable minister, but a continuing, rambling dialogue is not permitted.
Mr Sterling: The member for High Park-Swansea has been here for a short period of time and maybe, if we are graced in the next election, we will have people who will think more forwardly in terms of dealing with legislation.
I say to the people of the province and the people who are particularly concerned about this issue, Mrs Hunt, who was introduced by my friend, represents the Women’s Institute of Ontario, 24,000 strong in 1,000 different branches. She has led the fight for the women’s institute to have legislation like this passed. She wrote to the Attorney General four months ago and has not had the courtesy of a response from the Attorney General on this matter.
What kind of hope do we in the Legislature of Ontario, or the people of Ontario, have for legislation like this to come to the fore, to be introduced by the government and to be carried by the government? The fact of the matter is, I offered this legislation. The Attorney General sat across from me when this legislation was introduced three weeks ago. He applauded the introduction of the legislation. I said to him that very day: “If you have objections to this legislation, call me. I’ll change the legislation even before we have second reading.” The fact of the matter is, I have never had the courtesy of a call back from him on the piece of legislation.
I invite the members of the government side to vote against this legislation if they truly do not want the legislation seriously discussed and passed by this Legislature into third and final reading form. I am going to ask this Legislature that the bill, if it receives the vote of the majority of the members in here, be sent out to a committee so that we will have the opportunity to hear different groups talk about this piece of legislation.
If 20 members on that side rise and block that move, I want the members of the public to understand where the Liberals are on this legislation. They are jealous of the fact that somebody has been progressive enough to bring this legislation to the fore. I did not want to give this speech, but it is necessary to talk with regard to this process. Those of my friends who have been here for 12 years with me in this Legislature are getting sick and tired of the fact that a member
Mr McGuigan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The speaker is imputing motives on very sensitive matters, matters of living and dying, and people on this side agree with him on. But he is turning it into a political -- well, I am not going to use the words that really apply. Graveside politics.
Mr Sterling: I did not want to make the speech that I have just made, but I am cynical of the attitude of this government. I want this legislation to pass, and the only way we can get anything done with these guys is to cajole them into something.
The Acting Speaker: We have had the concluding remarks of the honourable member for Carleton on Bill 131, An Act to amend the Powers of Attorney Act. Time having expired on this legislation, we will now look forward to the vote at noon.
That in the opinion of this House, since the problems facing society and government are becoming increasingly more complex; and that the most valuable resource that the Ontario government or any other government has are the people working within it; and that the principles behind the organization and structure of the Ontario government have not been examined for some time, the Ontario government should review its structure and its operating and human resource practices with a view to simplifying and restructuring its operations so as to meet the demonstrated needs of its citizenry in a creative, flexible and responsive manner.
Mr Carrothers: In the few minutes available to me, I want to speak a bit, not about policymaking or how we make policy in government or really about how we exercise financial controls, but about what takes place after we have done that, with the delivery of those policies, with the delivery of the services that we decide we need and we decide we are going to fund to the public, what you might call the business side of what we do in government. I feel that the organization of our civil service is too rigid to allow flexible and effective delivery of services and is too rigid to allow those in the civil service who are performing these tasks to do the best job they are capable of.
In the few minutes that I have, I want to comment on how we got where we are in terms of the principles of organization of our civil service, make some comments on what this means in practice, give some examples of what we might do to change matters and, if time remains, talk about what is going on in some other jurisdictions in the world.
In order to understand the principles that underlie our civil service, we need to look back to the last century -- to 1854, in fact -- to a report which was given to the United Kingdom government called the Trevelyan-Northcote Report. That report set out the principles on which the United Kingdom civil service was to be organized and the principles which we incorporated into our civil service when we organized it in 1918.
The principles outlined in that report were to have a permanent civil service and a professional civil service, one that was oriented towards policy and one that was oriented towards analysis and problem-solving. That was very appropriate to the day. Government in those days really set the context in which things operated. It was not actively involved in what goes on. But as we have seen since the Depression and the Second World War, governments have become much more active, much more involved in our daily life and in fact carry out tasks, perform functions and carry out business activities.
When we modernized our civil service here in Ontario in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we focused again on our policymaking activities, how we are going to co-ordinate policy, and our financial activities. The feeling at the time seemed to be that if we had the plan straight and got the money in order, perhaps everything else would somehow work out.
I am not sure that is enough. I think we need to look at the actual traditions and principles that operate within our civil service, the culture, if you will, within which that civil service operates.
A policy-related organization is one that focuses very much on control and on rigidity, and it speaks of procedures and of structures, all of which is very appropriate when you are coming up with policy, particularly in government.
As we all know, government is not business. It does not operate within a marketplace. It cannot very easily test by going into the market whether its ideas work or do not. So you have to be very careful when developing policy. You need checks. You need counterbalances. You need quite an elaborate structure to make sure that the policy which you are bringing forward is actually appropriate and is going to work, because the results or the impact that you are having with that policy may not be immediately evident. You may not be able to change quickly enough.
But I am not sure that this rigidity and this focus on control is completely appropriate when we move into actually implementing those policies, when we carry out the various actions or roles which government has taken on for itself, for when you move into carrying on a task, you start moving into questions of action, not analysis, you start talking about innovation, risk-taking, adaptability, not caution, and you need to encourage such things as motivation and leadership, not analysis, within the management structure, for you are no longer problem-solving; you are actually carrying out a task.
I think the rigidity which we seem to have carried forward within the organization of our civil service often stifles these very needs or these very attempts at innovation or adaptability, and stifles any attempt to motivate or lead within our civil service. It becomes too difficult. Too many people have to be consulted.
What we end up with is an organization which tends to look inward, tends to look at its own policies and structures and tends to relate to those and does not look outward to the people it is trying to service, does not look outward to its customers, if I could use that term.
I think if we look at how we are organized and try to change that internal culture, we may find there is a great deal of potential within our civil service to do things quite differently, a great deal of potential which we can free up. We might be very surprised with the results that we can achieve.
What could we do? Perhaps we could look at making some changes to the reporting structure within the civil service. We might separate out reporting for policymaking from reporting on implementation and allow those who are implementing our policies to actually report to the very highest levels within the civil service, make them visible, allow them to be seen.
The criticism has often been made that the policy focus which we seem to have in the civil service or it has around here tends to mean that the route to the top is through policy and that those who are the most ambitious tend to evolve to that role. We need to make the actual implementation of tasks much more important, because in fact I think something like upwards of 90 per cent of those involved in the civil service are actually carrying out tasks, not making policy. Perhaps we need to look at whether we can make some changes to allow that implementation to take place more effectively.
We might want to look at delegating more authority. I have been very surprised at how little delegation takes place within the civil service. It is a surprise to me, coming from business, as to how much authority is kept at the very top levels. I was surprised when speaking to someone who has a job within the civil service, quite a senior one, who often has to travel on very short notice, and yet he has to have four people approve his travel. It seems rather odd. Surely that person could be given a budget, maybe based on last year’s travel, which he could then use as he saw fit and report monthly, quarterly, whatever is appropriate, but let him get on with the job, rather than having to ask permission every time he wants to do something.
That points to another problem which has often been commented upon in the public service or the public administration in Canada; that is, somehow we have confused the concept of making someone accountable for results or accountable for his job with controlling him when he does the job, and we have tended to focus on the latter and made the whole organization quite stifling and quite rigid.
We might also want to look at organizing how we perform tasks quite differently. We might want to look at using agencies to deliver services, perhaps agencies that could deliver services on behalf of several ministries. I know that, speaking as the small business advocate in this province, I am often speaking with small businesses that have difficulty dealing with government because they have to deal with five and six offices, all of which operate differently. Perhaps we could find some way to have one office deal with that group of people.
I have also noticed that when you use agencies or some sort of self-contained administrative structure, those working within it feel a greater sense of identity with what they are doing. They can see the results of their work, they can see the problems, and when they make a change they can see the result. They can appreciate what has been accomplished. They also start talking about their clients, they start looking outwards to those they are serving, and the whole organization becomes more flexible and more adaptable. I think we need to look at these types of things.
The United Kingdom has recently completed some 15 years, I believe, of study of its civil service. A report to the Prime Minister has come out called Improving Management in Government: The Next Steps, and it makes a number of recommendations for changes in the UK civil service. What is interesting to me is that this report recommends that the making of policy be separated structurally from the implementation of policy and that different types of organization be used for each and actually recommends the greater use of agencies in the implementation of policy within the UK civil service. It is also talking about changes to the concept of ministerial responsibility, but I think that is outside what I am talking about today.
What is also interesting is in Sweden the civil service as we know it is a very small body; it deals only with policy. In fact, the ministers are only responsible to the Swedish Parliament for the policy which is developed within the civil service. The policy is then implemented by some 80 agencies, boards and commissions which report to the legislature through different channels. So again in that country they have separated policy from implementation, a very different philosophy from the one we use, but one which we might very usefully study when we think about how our civil service works.
In the few minutes that I have had to comment, I hope I have shown how our civil service, which started as a policymaking organization but then expanded, has not adapted its internal culture to the new and expanded role of government within our society. In an era where flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness are considered the keys to success, we need to see whether we can bring some of these features into the operation of our civil service. I think we owe it to the public, which expects very relevant and efficient government. I think we also owe it to those who work within our civil service to put them in a situation where they are able to do the very best job they can and bring their talents to bear in the most effective manner.
Mr Philip: I apologize to the mover of the motion for not hearing the first part of his speech. I have been involved, as he will know, in chairing the standing committee on public accounts, which is dealing with an analogous matter this morning, namely, the accountability of agencies and the way in which we can work through the Provincial Auditor and the public accounts committee to make agencies more accountable and to have the Provincial Auditor’s office operate in a more effective way. I will be returning to that committee momentarily, but I will read the comments of the other members who will have an opportunity to participate in this debate.
I appreciate the comments of the mover of the motion because, by listening to the comments I have heard, at least I have some idea or sense of the direction in which he wants to go. That was not clear from the motion, which I feel lacked a certain amount of focus. I think a motion, if it is to be useful, should be fairly clearly defined and not simply create an eclectic exercise which is not likely to have an end that is useful.
The mover of the motion was talking about the Swedish social democratic system and the way in which government there really is decentralized, where there is a much smaller civil service and where I think there is probably a more democratic system in the sense that there is more participation by various community groups, interested parties, by labour and management and government.
I want to say that while I think we should be moving towards that system, we have to understand that the social democratic system of Sweden, quite different from either the Marxist system of the Soviet Union, which is breaking down at the moment, or the capitalist or free market system, has systematically set up a whole series of structures that have allowed for decentralization. Because these structures are in place and because there is a way of feeding in the various groups and creating a partnership, I think they are a lot farther advanced than we are and therefore that kind of decentralization is quite workable in their system. It is certainly something we should be moving towards.
Let me also say, however, that rigidity comes not from a system that has too direct a line of accountability but, rather, where the accountability line is fuzzy. If a public servant really does not know whom he or she is answerable to or what he or she is accountable for and is therefore open to reprimand from a variety of sources, he or she is more likely to be conservative or indeed to do nothing, because it is frequently harder to be penalized for doing nothing than for doing something that any one of a number of people who feel they have some kind of power over you can reprimand you for.
Therefore, I think what we have to do is look at the system and say that each person should know exactly whom he or she is accountable to. That kind of security then allows one to be innovative. You may decide that the person you are accountable to is so rigid that you cannot do anything, in which case you have to make a career choice, but at least there is a value to not being accountable to a fuzzy bureaucracy out there where you can be called out or reprimanded by any one of a variety of people who, for whatever reason, seem to think they are your boss.
In 1985, Price Waterhouse completed a study commissioned by the then Conservative government. The study, as members will know, was titled A Study of Management and Accountability in the Government of Ontario. In the course of their work, the consultants interviewed and subsequently reviewed their conclusions with a number of ministers, with all the deputy ministers, with the former chairman of the public accounts committee and with the Provincial Auditor. They also met with a variety of other people from other countries. They looked at the practices of the federal government, other provinces, the United Kingdom and Australia. So it seems to me that a starting point in implementing the resolution before us might be to review the Price Waterhouse study and its recommendations in the light of what has or has not happened in the last five years since it was tabled in this House.
I cannot deal with the whole report in the few minutes that I have, but let me just quote about three paragraphs which I think are particularly significant from pages 5 and 6 of the Price Waterhouse report:
“Cabinet should be assured that Management Board has sufficient authority to ensure that ministries are complying with board policies as well as maintaining a satisfactory standard of management. We believe that the board has, under its act, the powers needed to exercise this authority.
“To strengthen the accountability relationship between deputy ministers and Management Board for administrative rules and management practices, our proposal is to provide for formal delegation of authority from the board to each deputy for the board’s management policies. The deputy will then make decisions and ensure compliance within this delegated authority. In this way, the deputy would be accountable to the board for the ministry’s actions under the delegated authority. The board should be responsible to work out a satisfactory mechanism for delegating authority to and monitoring information on compliance by each ministry.”
“Management Board must be able to act if a ministry does not comply with board policies or decisions. Beyond instructing the minister and the deputy that compliance is imperative, the board should have a clearly understood mandate to go further by withdrawing authority it has delegated to the deputy. This would be an action of last resort, taken only after the approval of cabinet.”
It is fairly clear to me that successive Chairmen of Management Board, be they Conservative or Liberal, have failed in this regard. We see examples of the results in the litany of revelations by the Provincial Auditor and in studies done by the standing committee on public accounts.
I believe history will show that there is in every parliamentary government a certain amount of tension between the office of the head of state, be it the Premier or Prime Minister, and the Chairman of Management Board or the Treasury Board, as we sometimes see that office called. But I believe that nowhere in recent times has there been a greater example of the fear in our public service of faceless mandarins in the Premier’s office, in the office, if you like, of the head of state, undermining the role of Management Board than we have in the present government.
Creativity, if it is to flourish, must have a certain stability, and we have many innovative and creative public servants, and indeed we have many excellent deputy ministers, but we have to give them the assurance that their line of command is direct, that they know whom they are accountable to and that they cannot be second-guessed by people who are faceless in the Premier’s office.
It seems to me that if this resolution were to be very effective, it might be useful to have an independent study done of the relationship of the role played by each of the players in the individual ministries, the players in Management Board and the players in the Premier’s office. I am not sure that such a study would be terribly complimentary of the players in the Premier’s office, but I think that it would be a useful study to be done and indeed it would both improve the effectiveness of Management Board and hopefully might reduce some of the unpredictable actions that seem to happen and stem from the Premier’s office.
Needless to say, any action resulting from today’s resolution would have to take into account the effects of the implementation of the strategies for renewal program of the Human Resources Secretariat. If I had a few hours to speak about that, I would love to address that topic.
What we are dealing with is a very complex set of issues and a very complex set of relationships. In other speeches and in journal articles, I have dealt with the parliamentary side of the equation. I think we have made gigantic steps in the last few years, to the credit of all parties in this House, on the parliamentary side of the equation. We in Ontario have an excellent Provincial Auditor, who has made some advances that other auditors envy. That is with the co-operation of the government and with the co-operation of the opposition.
We have, I think, with all due modesty, a public accounts committee in this province that is recognized by other provinces to be the best in the country. There is still a lot we need to do in improving the estimates system, but we have made a major advance in the route that we as a Parliament have taken in this regard. I think we will make other advances as we start to work with the new system that was implemented only a year ago, and in which my colleague the member for Oshawa played such an important role in developing proposals, as did the standing committee on public accounts.
We are, I believe, moving slowly towards a more congressional system of government, as are other parliaments, including that of the Mother of Parliaments in Great Britain. This is inevitable in my opinion and I think it is positive, provided that certain safeguards are taken to eliminate some of the excesses and worst aspects of the American system. Of course, I refer to the patronage system, the power of unseen vested interests and so forth, which have had what I consider to be an undemocratic and unreasonable influence on the congressional system of government.
I think there is a willingness of members of all parties to try to evolve a system which is more flexible, which is more accountable and in which members of the Legislature can, through the committee system, work more closely with the bureaucracy and encourage the kind of creativity that the bureaucracy is capable of stimulating and that we as parliamentarians are capable of stimulating.
I do not see the same kinds of initiatives, and I may be underestimating it, from the various chairmen of Management Board we have seen. I do see it from people just close to the throne in that ministry. If we look at our counterparts in Australia and if we see some of the leadership that is coming out of Great Britain at the moment, and indeed some of the leadership that the Treasury Board has exercised in Ottawa, we see that there are examples we can look at and that Management Board can look at.
I do not believe this resolution has enough ammunition in it to wake up Management Board, but if the member for Oakville South wants to take a shot at ~t, I will certainly help him to pull the trigger.
Mr McCague: The member for Oakville South has proposed a motion that he and I had an opportunity to chat a little bit about prior to the debate today. It is one of those motions that are very difficult to oppose, because it would be misunderstood. I am sure the honourable member had great difficulty in writing it so that it would not be misunderstood, yet I think he may have raised a few issues in here that he may not have wished to.
He ends up by saying that this has all been done “so as to meet the demonstrated needs of its citizenry in a creative, flexible and responsive manner.” What this says is that there is something wrong. Sure, things can be improved but, without some concrete suggestions as to what should be done, just to seek unanimous approval for a motion like this on the basis that something is wrong, I think does show a little bit the misunderstanding of the member for Oakville South.
I came to this august body 15 years ago and I would admit that I would have written a motion probably exactly the way the member for Oakville South has written it in the first two years here. It shows, I think, a misunderstanding of what actually happens. The member refers to formulation of policy being part of the civil service. I do not believe that if a minister of the crown is doing his or her job properly, the civil service should be doing the policy side of it.
As I understand the system, the policy will be suggested by the civil service but endorsed by the cabinet. It is the minister’s job to carry that through, and it is the civil service’s job to implement that policy. ff1 have incorrectly interpreted what the member was saying earlier, I can easily withdraw, but I think he did refer to the civil service as setting policy, which is not part of its function.
These kinds of motions are always dangerous from the point of view of what kind of message they send to a very, very dedicated civil service. I think the member may not have checked with the Civil Service Commission, the Human Resources Secretariat, to see what it is they are doing and have been doing on an ongoing basis, in order to keep up with what it is the citizenry would call creative, flexible and responsive.
I know that a lot of my constituents in the riding of Simcoe West are not happy with the civil service, because they see the civil service as the person who answers the phone on the one or two calls they might make per year to the Ontario government and sometimes the message or the courtesy, whatever it is, extended to my constituents is not what I know all of us would expect it should be. But that does not mean we do not have a very dedicated, thoughtful, progressive civil service in this province.
If the member had said it would be a good idea if we could see if we could do the job with 10 per cent less, I would have been a full participant in the endorsement of this but, as I have explained, the member writes it in such a way that it is almost impossible to vote against it. I do not feel there are the number of things broken that the honourable member does; therefore, why should we attempt to fix it?
The member may one day be in the inner circle of the Premier’s Ontario and he may then come to an appreciation of just how the system works. Had that happened earlier, I suggest that the member would not be writing this kind of motion.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words on the resolution put forward today by the member for Oakville South, because I have growing concerns about the increasing difficulties the people of Ontario are experiencing in their dealings with government agencies, ministries, boards and commissions.
I want to make it clear that my remarks will be in support of this resolution, which reads that “since the problems facing society and government are becoming increasingly more complex; and that the most valuable resource that the Ontario government or any other government has are the people working within it; and that the principles behind the organization and structure of the Ontario government have not been examined for some time, the Ontario government should review its structure and its operating and human resource practices with a view to simplifying and restructuring its operations so as to meet the demonstrated needs of its citizenry in a creative, flexible and responsive manner.
The reasons for my support of this resolution are so simple that even this government can understand them. We all remember the Premier saying when he came to power that there would be no walls or barriers with this government. What the Premier and his ministers have done is to replace the walls and barriers with piles of red tape that are used to confuse, frustrate and confound the people of this province when they attempt to obtain services, assistance or access to programs they need and deserve.
In other words, this government continues to break its promises. This government has become a band of interior decorators who prefer to paper their walls with barriers, with red tape. No wonder the member has brought this resolution forward. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and it has been caused by the government.
The colour of this tape I am talking about is red, much the same as the members’ ties are. The members are proud to wear them. I want to tell members that the public service has grown by 11.7 per cent since 1985. That represents an increase from 81,429 public servants in 1985 to 91,024 in 1990. No wonder the member wants to bring in this resolution today.
I believe the successive hiring is leaving the people of Ontario with the distinct impression that this government is doing its best to throw up roadblocks and to prevent people from gaining access to health care services, programs for seniors, assistance for battered women and the disabled, legitimate Workers’ Compensation Board claims and proper educational instruction and facilities for the people and the children of Ontario.
This disgraceful situation we are in today is not really because of the rules and regulations. We are in this situation today because this five-year-old government has put us there. This government’s record clearly shows that it gets a great deal of pleasure out of taxing people to death. We all know this is the same government that has bludgeoned the people of Ontario with 33 new or increased taxes since gaining power in 1985. We also know this government is getting added pleasure from strangling the people of this province in red tape.
The time has come for this government to face up to its failures and end the unsatisfactory abuse of the people of Simcoe East and others from all over the ridings in Ontario. It should end now. With this resolution, I hope it would. It should never have been allowed to happen, but it is not because of the rules; it is because of government.
We will not forget how the bank accounts of people in this province have been pillaged by the current Treasurer over the past five years. Those in desperate need of government service and assistance will not forget how tight the government drew the red tape I spoke of earlier around the necks of the people of this province.
I want to conclude my remarks shortly by saying that I support this resolution wholeheartedly. I think we all agree that the past five years have clearly demonstrated the need for a complete review of government structure and the operating and human resources practices. I think the past five years have shown us that operations must be simplified and restructured so as to meet the needs of the people of this province. I urge everyone here today to join with us in supporting this resolution.
The resolution really looks at who makes the decisions. The decisions are made in cabinet. Recommendations will come from the civil servants. The members will remember that not long ago there was a commitment of $850 million over eight years for hospital construction. That was a commitment. What happened to that commitment? How are they going to change the rules to make that commitment be fulfilled?
Remember OFFIRR, the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, which was cut off? Was that recommended by a civil servant or was that recommended by cabinet? Then we see in this latest budget $48 million for interest relief for farmers brought back in. Why was the farm tax replaced? To change and to save the government millions of dollars? Who reviewed that and who brought that in? Is that the public service or is that the minister? I believe it would be the ministry.
The budget brought in dealt with homes for the aged and nursing homes to be working together and to be funded the same way, but that does not start until 1992. When the Treasurer gets up and reads his budget, is he saying that the rules should be changed so that takes effect immediately? How can he plan down the road almost two years from now to bring this policy forward?
Yesterday we had an announcement from the minister about a six-year plan with regard to the homemakers program. Why is it a six-year program when the government cannot fulfil its commitments now on a yearly basis? Does the Treasurer expect to change the rules or regulations and talk to the civil service on how it is going to change it? It is the government, the cabinet and the Treasurer’s colleagues, that makes that decision.
The Treasurer indicates there are no new taxes, only on tobacco. How can the Treasurer increase his budget by over $3 billion without any new taxes? He forgets to tell the people of all the new taxes that came into effect on 1 January. He seems to think that people are going to forget about that. They are not going to.
Who announces the policy? It is the cabinet which announces the policy. The members should remember, when they look at the statistics in the administration in all of the ministry offices -- and that is where all the new employees mostly have gone to: hired in ministers’ offices to shuffle paper -- it is not the programs or the projects that are getting funding, it is staff in administrative offices. I say that is not fair, because it is those people out there who need the service and should be getting it who are not. So if the Treasurer wants to change the way government operates, he has a big job ahead of him.
Do members remember when we dealt with Bill 119 in this Legislature and in committee? People travelled from all across the province to have input into that bill. That was a bill whereby it was lottery funds for sports fitness and recreation. That is really what lottery funds were for, but the Treasurer wanted it to go into general revenue, and he got his way with the huge majority of the government. Those people travelled for thousands of miles to have input into that committee, the committee hearings. What did it do? The government still passed the Bill.
So if the government is talking about changing the rules and changing regulations, I think the best thing for the people of this province to do is to change the government and get rid of the ones who are making the decisions today. If the government wants to change the rules, I think it is all right to look at them.
I am all in favour of this resolution today, I am pleased to have the opportunity to vote on it, but I am sure if the member who has brought this resolution is serious, then he should be talking to his cabinet colleagues.
A former speaker talked about 1992. Well, European companies are girding themselves for 1992. The shape of business in Europe is starting to change in anticipation of the European Community’s further integration in 1992. Companies all over Europe are revamping their business plans, moving production facilities and streamlining operations. The end result, business leaders hope, will be a revived corporate sector better able to compete against Asian and US companies.
The developments are occurring relatively quickly. In 1988 a survey of 700 European companies by the accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwick found that 63 per cent of executives were considering changing their business strategy because of 1992. Last year, these considerations were turning into hard plans. “A very large proportion are reviewing and coming up with ideas and proposals,” said Ian Watt, a general partner at Peat Mar-wick.
Sir Robert Scholey, the chairman of British Steel, said 1992 is like putting the plank to the back of the donkey. Peter Wallenberg, the vice-chairman of a Stockholm bank, observes that European corporations are preoccupied with becoming more competitive. There is a need for Europe to strengthen its enterprises, he said.
Sir Robert believes that 1992 may hasten the consolidation of the steel industry in Europe. He said: “A substantial portion of the tonnage is not competitive in price or quality -- labour is 30 per cent of the cost of a tonne of raw steel in continental Europe. By way of contrast, it is 12 per cent for Korean steel, 16 per cent for Japanese steel and 20 per cent for British steel.”
Asea Brown Boveri has made major administrative changes to help it become a stronger competitor. Since the Zurich-based manufacturer of electrical equipment has operations in 13 European countries, it conducts all corporate meetings in English. ABB has streamlined its corporate headquarters staff to 100 professionals running a company with 200,000 employees. With such a decentralized structure, line units have bottom-line responsibility. In fact, the company brags it has 3,500 different profit centres. He said, “We try to be big and small at the same time,” said Percy Barnevik, the president and chief executive officer.
Sir Robert Scholey hinted at an acquisition on the continent for British Steel. Alfred Herrhausen, the chairman of Deutsche Bank, said he was looking at acquisitions in France and Britain. This consolidation might happen even sooner if Barnevik’s vision of Europe 1992 is accurate. He predicts that over the short term only one third of European companies will be winners. Less than half the companies are competitive with Japanese and US manufacturers, he said. There will be fewer manufacturers and fewer people making the same number of units.
Author Joel Kotkin, talking about Japan, said that when civilizations are on the ascendant it is because they have a belief and an idea. The miracle that Japan had in the past 30 years is a miracle of will. People felt they had a mission and they were going to fulfil it. They worked hard.
Konsuke Matsushita, who died last April in Osaka at the age of 94, was a remarkable man. He built a three-person operation into a multinational corporation employing over 200,000 people worldwide. He had a belief that everything and everyone has value. The secret is to discover what that value is, then use it to its full potential. He was visionary, combined with a hardheaded, realistic and eminently rational approach to business and to life. He was committed not only to succeeding but also to recognizing the facts of the situation he found himself in, no matter how unpalatable they might be. Honest with himself and with others, there could be no other way if he wanted to run a business in a rational or constructive fashion.
Terry Van Tell, a communications and management consultant, says that today’s corporate setting increasingly calls for a more collegial team approach, the type of participatory management style found in Japan where workers frequently have input in the most important company decisions.
Konsuke Matsushita said the intellectual capacity of a single genius can never be larger than the sum of resources brought together by all the members of the group or community to which he belongs. Man’s true greatness lies in the ability to pool the ideas, to pool the talents, the idea that everyone on the staff should think and act as a manager.
If we are going to deliver services to our customers, the taxpayers, we have to develop a business strategy of superior service based on a team approach of participatory management. I certainly support the resolution.
Mr Mackenzie: I only want to take three or four minutes. I do want to indicate that I too will support the resolution that is before us, but I have been provoked -- I guess provoked is not the right word -- encouraged to say a few words by the comments of one of my colleagues who is no longer in the chamber with us, the member for Simcoe West. I think he raised the point that had been bothering me when I read the resolution earlier today and took a look at it. I take it he was going to support it, but the thing that bothered him a bit was that he did not clearly understand it and there did not seem to be any particular direction in the resolution. Maybe that is why I think the very good presentation from the member for Oxford had any connection whatsoever with the resolution that is before us; at least I could not find a single thing he said that had any connection with this particular resolution.
I have no real objection to that in a debate of this kind, but let me point out that there were some suggestions made by my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. He said that maybe they should take another look at the study of management and accountability done in 1985 by Price Waterhouse, and I think that is a valid suggestion. He also gave some ideas of what we should be looking for. I think there was a little more meat in it.
Let me tell members why I have one or two reservations about this resolution. The best way I can do it is, I guess, by reading it in sections and then commenting on those sections. The resolution says first, “That in the opinion of this House, since the problems facing society and government are becoming increasingly more complex; and that the most valuable resource that the Ontario government or any other government has are the people working within it; and that the principles behind the organization and structure of the Ontario government have not been examined for some time”
Apart from the Price Waterhouse study, I think that is probably true, although it seems to me there is always an ongoing look at the procedures and rules, which has something to do with this in the House, how we conduct business. But nobody could object to that first major half of the resolution. I certainly do not. I think it probably accurately describes the situation, the increasing complexity of business in Ontario today, and I think most of us would agree that one of our most valuable resources is the people and the expertise that we have working for us.
Then let me tell members what bothered me in reading this resolution and why I wish it had been a little more descriptive or a little more informative of what the member actually wanted to do. It goes on to say that “the Ontario government should review its structure and its operating and human resource practices with a view to simplifying and restructuring its operations so as to meet the demonstrated needs of its citizenry.”
That is the section that put a bit of a red flag up to me right off the bat, because I can tell the member that anybody who is interested in government, any civil servant and any representative of civil servants in the province of Ontario who are interested in the way we do business and the way we may change the way we do business, is going to take a look at that and say right off the bat, “Hey, they’re just looking to get rid of additional people.”
Miss Roberts: I rise today to support the resolution presented by the honourable member for Oakville South. I too will read the resolution, or part of it, because I think many of the speakers before me have maybe not looked at it carefully enough to see what the honourable member for Oakville South was trying to accomplish.
I think the important part in the first part that was just completed and read by the honourable member for Hamilton East was that the most valuable resource the Ontario government or any other government has is the people working within it. That is what the honourable member for Oakville South is talking about. He is also talking about the principles behind the organization to help the human resource that is there.
The member has put forward a resolution that is looking at simplifying and restructuring the operation of the Ontario government. The importance of an effective program implementation and administration is known to everyone, and the people in this province demand effective implementation of the Ontario government programs, of this government’s programs or of any government programs. This is of vital importance to all people.
Devising and creating programs and policy is, of course, a very essential process, but it is only the first step. It is another thing altogether to deliver the goods, and this is what the honourable member for Oakville South is talking about: to ensure that the program is efficient and that it is put forward in an effective manner to all those who need it. We must strive for a means of delivering our programs so that they are responsive to people’s needs and are flexible and able to deal with change.
We also must strive to provide the best possible service to the public, and this is what the civil service in Ontario has been doing. The purpose of this resolution is to help that civil service to continue to do that. This is to give the taxpayers the best possible value for their money.
For these reasons, I support my colleague’s resolution in favour of improved program delivery. We may argue whether or not the program is the one that would be put forward by another government, but we cannot argue that it is important that the programs are delivered in a simple and effective manner. The civil service, like any other business, as the honourable member for Oxford spoke about, needs to have morale. It needs to be looked at and needs to be considered.
My colleague also referred to the problem of frustration among civil servants in administrative functions, due to the low priority that is accorded to these functions. Again, we are talking about administrative functions; not policy functions, but administrative functions. I also recognize this problem and support the efforts to alleviate it.
To be most productive, workers need to get a sense of fulfilment from their jobs. They need to be motivated. They need to feel part of a team. Feedback is the important element of this. We need mechanisms so that people are rewarded on the basis of their performance. I believe that we are moving in that direction, and I believe that this resolution will help the government to focus on that movement.
I was interested by the specific suggestions that were put forward by my colleague in trying to achieve these goals. He outlined a couple, and they are deserving of some consideration. I was also interested in the comments of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, outlining some things that could be done and for consideration with respect to the administration and the effective delivery of programs.
A suggestion that is intended to increase the focus on implementation, to increase autonomy in program delivery through the establishment of self-contained administrative structure, is an intriguing idea indeed. Any program may need and should have an implementation process in the program itself, and the civil service, the people who are providing the front-line service, should be part of that implementation pro-gram.
One might be wary of separating the two functions of policy development and implementation, and this is something that has to be considered. I believe the member’s resolution is indicating that we in the government should look at and examine various structures and make sure that the functions, although separate, are dealt with in a fair manner.
Although distinct, the functions of policy development and implementation are complementary. Often people who design the program are the most knowledgeable about it and sometimes are in the best position to implement it. But each situation might be different. Implementation might be necessary and might be best known about by the person on the front line, the fellow -- I should not say “fellow,” which is very bad of me, very sexist, and I apologize for that -- the person who answers the phone, the person who is at the counter may know and look at the programs and say, “This is the appropriate way, the proper way to implement a program.
As indicated before, the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale looked at a review that had been done, and his development of the standing committee on public accounts as well shows his understanding of the need to integrate and make sure that implementation is part of the policy process. But in each situation, the approach may be different and may call for a unique approach.
Another consideration of which I am sure my colleague is aware is accountability. That again was spoken about by other members who spoke before me. There is always a tradeoff between accountability and autonomy. Increased autonomy might increase effectiveness, but also decreased accountability of a program might have some problems, making sure that the public representatives have a decreased accountability.
We must be sure that all members of the Legislature have their accountability; but members of the civil service, to make their jobs more fulfilling, more part of the system, should also have effective and responsive accountability. That was spoken about by the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale as well.
In summary, I applaud and support my colleague’s initiatives. Policy implementation is important in its own right but should not take a back seat to the often more high-profile area that is known as policy formulation.
Mr Carrothers: I certainly do. I appreciate the comments here and I think the various perspectives we have heard on this question indicate its very complexity, which was the reason that the resolution is a general one. I will agree with the comments of my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale.
The reason I made it general was that what I am calling for is a review. I pointed out that I agree with the direction the UK government is moving in, that is, separating policy from implementation because the two perhaps cannot coexist. They are uneasy bedfellows within the same organization.
But at the same time I recognize that our practices in Canada have often been somewhat more modern than those in the United Kingdom and we may not have to make such a radical change as they are making there. I do not want to presume that we need to go that far, and I am simply asking for a study and suggesting a direction.
This resolution is certainly not a criticism of those who work within our civil service because, certainly, in the two and a half years that I have been here, I have been very astonished or very impressed with the level of dedication of those who work within our civil service.
But, as my colleague the member for Elgin has just pointed out, it is about giving them the opportunity to do the jobs they want to do, do the jobs they have come to work to do, to serve the public in the most appropriate fashion. I am suggesting with this resolution that perhaps the organization which we have here needs to have some changes made, because it is not as relevant as it could be to modern-day needs.
Perhaps we can look at different ways of implementing policies. Perhaps policies can be implemented across ministerial boundaries and various other ways could be used. We need to be imaginative in this respect.
What I am calling for in this resolution is that we review and look with a view to making things more flexible, making them more responsive and making them more effective for the public and for those who work within our civil service.
The Speaker: According to our standing order, it states very clearly that when a private member’s bill is approved it goes to committee of the whole House unless the majority of the House wishes it to go to some other standing committee. So you would like me to put the question?
Mr Allen: Yesterday in the assembly the Treasurer attacked my activities and questions on behalf of the hungry, homeless and poor in this province as a mindless crusade. Evidently, feeling passionately about that subject unsettles the Treasurer, as it does the Premier, who occasionally refers sarcastically to my party’s “theological” views on the subject of poverty.
The vast majority of food bank operators and their tens of thousands of supporters who are religiously motivated will be surprised to learn that the Liberal leadership of this government appears to consider them “mindless crusaders” for their deeply held religious convictions about the poor and their demonstrations of intolerance for the shocking contrasts of poverty and wealth about us.
Much in politics may be a careful balancing of competing interests, but for me and my party, both religious and humanistic convictions tell us that the condition of the poor is non-negotiable. There is no competition between adequate incomes for the disabled and capital gains write-offs for the rich. There is no competition between taxes on minimum wage earners and a tax on net wealth. There is no tradeoff between infants on watered formula and the paying down of the provincial debt.
Mr McCague: Maybe I can help the Treasurer. The Treasurer told us that the 1990 budget provides a solid basis for our continued shared prosperity in Ontario. It is refreshing to hear that from a government whose policies have consistently undermined the competitiveness and productivity of our economy, from an administration that appears determined to change Ontario from an economic powerhouse.
I know that the Treasurer does not share this view. When we express our concern that his policies have destroyed the tax advantages we enjoyed over major competitors, he shrugs it off. When auto parts makers conclude that Ontario is the worst jurisdiction in North America in which to invest, the government tells us that geography will save the day. When we and others suggest that his spending policies fuel inflation and put pressure on interest rates, the Treasurer tells us it just ain’t so.
Now, no doubt, the Treasurer will tell us that the findings by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, showing small firms in Ontario to be the most heavily taxed in the country, are no cause for concern.
Strange how everybody is out of step with our Bob. Strange how everybody is concerned except our Bob. Strange how no one in this province has benefited more from the now-withering economic boom than the Liberal government itself. Strange how all these chickens have a way of coming home to roost.
Today Muslims all over the world will celebrate Eid, the end of the fast of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. It is by abstaining from food, drink, smoking and all indulgences that Muslims are able to empathize with those who are pained by the deprivation of the basic necessities of life.
Today we rejoice and celebrate with all Muslims who are celebrating Eid, the festival of breaking the fast. This festival is an occasion for rejoicing in the revelation of the Koran and the appointment of Muhammad, peace be upon him, as the prophet of Allah. It is also a time of thanksgiving for having been given the strength, courage and resilience to complete the fast, thus fulfilling the duty enjoined upon them by Allah.
The festival begins with a festive prayer at the mosque. It is also an occasion for socializing with other Muslims and to foster a sense of brotherhood and unity among the community. After the prayer, family and friends gather together to exchange gifts and enjoy a meal.
Mr Morin-Strom: This Liberal government has taken a workers’ compensation system in Ontario that was a mess and turned it into an utter disaster. The WCB continues to strand the injured workers of Sault Ste Marie and northern Ontario. The office of the worker adviser in Sault Ste Marie is today beginning to act on cases it received in October 1988. What is an injured worker to do when it can take 18 months to even begin work on his appeal?
Under the recent so-called reforms of the workers’ compensation system contained in Bill 162, the waiting-list situation is getting worse, not better, across northern Ontario. One of these reforms requires the injured worker to act on a case within stringent time limits or have the case dismissed. To help the worker facing a time limit, the office of the worker adviser must push back those already on the waiting list even farther. The offices of the worker adviser in Sault Ste Marie and elsewhere have been forced to judge one case against another.
When will this government recognize that all injured workers count, that each deserves speedy and efficient assistance? When will workers be assured that the help they need and deserve will be available? When will this government provide the resources that are so desperately needed to worker adviser offices in Sault Ste Marie and right across the province?
Mrs Cunningham: The government should peddle its 1990 budget as the “once and future” budget: Once we get the election out of the way, we can get on with the job of dealing realistically with the future of the province. That is a job this budget, full of vague commitments to do this by 1992, to do something else over four years and another thing over a decade, largely ignores.
I suspect this budget has much in common with the 1987 Liberal election campaign. It is designed more to conceal than reveal the government’s true agenda. I am sure members recall the 1987 Liberal agenda, the no-deal, anti-free trade position, the promise of lower auto insurance rates, the commitment to fund 4,400 new hospital beds.
Today the Liberals run ads touting the benefits of the free trade agreement. Their policy on auto insurance resembles a pile-up on Highway 401. The commitment to those hospital beds has simply evaporated. No doubt a similar fate awaits much of what we read in this latest Grit wish list.
This government has consistently assigned more importance to public relations than to public policy. It has shown itself more proficient at dreaming up slogans than implementing solutions to problems. The 1990 budget is part and parcel of that approach to leadership, an approach that puts the political interests of the governing party before the economic interests of the province.
Mr Owen: The city of Barrie has seen considerable building activity in the past few years. Barrie is an attractive location for many people to work and raise a family in. There has been a steady growth in the city’s population, which is now approximately 54,000.
One area in which Barrie excels among municipalities is non-profit housing development. Since 1987 more than 1,000 units have been built, are being built or are in the planning stages in just about every section of the city. The majority of these units were built and are managed by the Barrie Non-Profit Housing Corp. Since 1987 the corporation has seen a 475 per cent growth in assets. Many of these units were developed through funds guaranteed by the province’s Homes Now program.
More non-profit projects have been built or are under development by other organizations. These include the Independent Order of Oddfellows and the 441 Huronia Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association. The 441 wing was the first RCAFA wing in Canada to take on the responsibility of sponsoring a non-profit housing project and they are planning to do it again in Vespra township, adjacent to Barrie.
All the people who have been involved in the process of bringing non-profit housing to Barrie should be commended for their hard work and social responsibility. I believe they can be counted upon to manage effectively into the future.
Over the past eight months, southern Ontario patients who have been referred to Thunder Bay for specialist treatment have received full funding of their air fare, hotel accommodation and meals from the Ministry of Health. In addition, the Ministry of Health has also paid 100 per cent of the air fare and other costs for a family member or friend to escort the patient to Thunder Bay.
Air fare from Toronto to Thunder Bay is $514; for two people that is $1,028. Hotel accommodation runs to $100 at least, and more likely $225 for the week; meals $100; taxi $100. You are looking at a total of $1,450 a week for someone referred to Thunder Bay.
I emphasize again that the Ministry of Health is paying the bill, not the Canadian Cancer Society. The Minister of Health has tried very hard this past week to leave the impression that it has been particular hospitals or the cancer society that would pay the $1,450.
Let me say to the Minister of Health, drop the façade. The impression she has tried to create is totally unsupported. I have checked out her story with the Ontario division of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Thunder Bay office of the cancer society. Both offices expressly deny cancer society funds paid for the air fare or anything else. Both offices categorically state that the funding for this health care travel came from the Ministry of Health, yet someone from the north gets $250.
Mr J. M. Johnson: The 1990 budget is more remarkable for what it is not than for what it is. For instance, no matter how hard the government pretends, the budget is not a break for Ontario taxpayers, who will continue to shoulder one of the highest tax burdens in this country. This budget does nothing to lighten the tax load on the vast majority of taxpayers who have seen six Liberal budgets increase the per capita tax burden by 112 per cent, more than double the personal income growth rate.
It is not a break for taxpayers, who will continue to pay the more than 30 tax increases imposed by this government since it took power in 1985. It is not a break for taxpayers, who will still have to pay their share of the $847 million in new taxes the government will collect this year as increases and levies imposed by last year’s budget come into effect.
This budget is not taxpayer-friendly. It is, rather, an insult to the intelligence of the taxpayers. This government is using this budget in an effort to dupe the taxpayers into believing that the Liberal leopard has changed its spots, that they can safely ride on the tax tiger’s back for another few years.
Mr Ferraro: As most members of the House will know by now, Canada lost a great Canadian Tuesday night. I am speaking, of course, of the death of Edmund C. Bovey, chancellor of the University of Guelph, who died at his home in Toronto, more specifically in the riding of York Mills.
Mr Bovey, 74, was a member of the board of governors at the University of Guelph since 1979 until he was replaced last year by Ian Murray. In October of last year he was appointed chancellor of the University of Guelph.
Bovey had a distinguished career to say the least. He was chairman of Telefilm Canada and the Toronto Economic Development Corp and a director of Argus Corp. Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc and Griffith Laboratories.
As well, most people will recall that he was chairman of the Bovey commission, the 1984 Ontario government Commission on the Future Development of the Universities of Ontario. He also chaired the 1985 national Task Force on Funding of the Arts in Canada and was a member of the Order of Canada.
Thomson Hall, head of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation, the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada, the National Ballet of Canada and the world and Canadian federations of friends of museums.
At the time of his death, Mr Bovey had just returned from a holiday in the Caribbean with his grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Margaret (Peg) Snowdon, two children, Myra and Charles, and two grandchildren. I had the pleasure of knowing him and indeed he will be sadly missed.
Hon Mr Phillips: As honourable members know, Saturday 28 April is the national day of mourning for injured workers. Across this province, workers will be joining together in memorial services to honour colleagues who lost their lives or who were injured in the performance of their jobs.
It is a day of mourning. For many families, however, it is a time when it will be a very painful remembrance of the loss of lives of loved ones. For those of us who have shared such anguish, the national day of mourning will be a time to reflect on the terrible human cost of all workplace accidents and all workplace illnesses.
As well, it will be a most appropriate time for government, for labour and for management to reaffirm our shared commitment to a preventive occupational health and safety system in this province. As legislators, we must do all we can to provide Ontario with an occupational health and safety system that protects the lives and the wellbeing of workers. We know that a genuine partnership between the workplace parties is the true key to success. Together they must develop and deliver the safety education and training that people need to work safely in their workplaces.
I would like to commend the labour movement for its initiative in establishing an annual day that honours those who have died or who have been injured on their jobs. In keeping with this occasion, I have requested that the flags of this Legislature as well as the flags at our provincial government offices throughout Ontario be flown at half mast throughout the day tomorrow.
At this time I would also ask all of us here today to recognize those who died or who have been seriously injured at work. Therefore, I am requesting the unanimous consent of this House for a moment of silence following statements from my colleagues opposite.
Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to rise to represent my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus on this occasion. Deaths and injuries, along with the slow poisoning of workers by toxic substances, take place far too often in far too many of our places of employment. It is a totally unacceptable fact of a worker’s life in Ontario today.
Tragically, once again this year, just up to 31 March, another 62 workers have been killed and 134,968 workers injured. In addition, in the last few days alone we have witnessed the deaths of miners, construction workers and municipal employees.
The day of mourning organized by the labour movement in recognition of the sacrifice made by workers would be a betrayal of dead and injured workers if it did not bring a renewal of commitment by all of us to guarantee workers and their families and friends a healthier and safer future. We must reaffirm our responsibility to end the slaughter in the workplace.
During the recent public hearings on Bill 208, the proposed changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, one of the most moving moments occurred in London, Ontario. The labour council and local unions filed into the hearing room, each member carrying a daisy which they placed on the desk from which the various petitioners were to make their presentations on the bill. Some 285 daisies were deposited, one for each worker killed in the previous year. All 285 deaths were employees. There were no owners, no managers, no presidents or vice-presidents, no supervisors or public relations hacks, just rank-and-file workers.
Is it not strange that the Liberal government recognized the opposition to Bill 208 by business interests, who do not suffer the deaths and injuries, but gave far less credence to the workers who suffered the injuries and deaths?
One year since the last day of mourning, we are still without a bill that recognizes an equal authority for workers with respect to the safety of their workplaces, the government’s lack of enforcement of safety in the workplace and its inability to understand that those doing the work really are best equipped to deal with their own safety, and that is disturbing. Despite the deaths, Bill 208 is still inadequate and not yet in place.
The Liberal government insists on denying rights to its own public sector workers that are available to the private sector under Bill 208. Inquests into deaths in the workplace that might provide the remedies to save others often take months and in some cases years before they are held. Sadly, in some industrial deaths there are no inquests at all.
The income protection and health and rehabilitation process provided for under the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is the immediate lifeline for injured workers, is rapidly approaching a crisis status. Delays of months and years before recognizing and paying claims is becoming the norm at the Workers’ Compensation Board.
I say to this government and to all members of the Ontario Legislature, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Up until now, this day of mourning has not resulted in much renewal of a commitment to workers’ safety. We are not adequately remembering injured workers and those who have paid the supreme price with their lives.
Mr Runciman: As someone who a number of years ago suffered a serious industrial accident when I was sprayed with liquid urea and continues to deal with the after-effects of that accident, I am very pleased, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, to acknowledge and commemorate the injured workers in this province on this very special day.
In Ontario last year, a worker died every working day because of an industrial accident, and over the past decade the number of disabling injuries has risen over 60 per cent. That is not a record to be proud of.
We in the Progressive Conservative Party, and, I assume, in this Legislature, are very much in sympathy with the justifiable concerns of injured workers. The Workers’ Compensation Board is an instrument which was set up to deal specifically and compassionately with the problems of injuries in the workplace.
It is an instrument of the government and should be addressing the workers’ concerns. Safety in the workplace is of prime importance and is of mutual concern to both employers and employees. The severity and frequency of workplace accidents must be reduced.
When accidents do occur, emphasis should be on rehabilitation and getting people back to work as soon as possible. Workers must be given the assurance that employers are committed to having them back on the job as soon as they are available. That is essential both for the morale of the worker and for the benefit of the employer.
It seems that everyone wants to point the finger at someone else. Victims are sometimes blamed for carelessness and employers for not caring enough about safety. Whatever the reason, the workers of Ontario are paying the price, and it is a very high price indeed. Those who have been injured on the job are worried about the future and what it holds in store for them.
Hon Mrs Caplan: It is said that the best in people often comes out during the worst of times. I cannot think of a better example than what happened last night during the blackout in Toronto. I am sure that we were all impressed by reports of the caring, dedication, creativity and quick thinking exhibited by those faced with life and death situations under such adverse conditions.
On behalf of the government, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of everyone who contributed to the quick and successful response to the emergency. I particularly commend the efforts of those professionals who responded during the blackout. The police, fire and other emergency response units deserve our highest commendation for their professional and co-operative actions last evening which ensured the highest possible level of public safety. Of equal importance were the responsible actions of our citizens which reinforced the level of security within our communities.
Emergency power systems were in place in case of such an occurrence as last night. When further problems arose, steps were taken immediately to deal with the situation. Ambulances were rerouted away from all emergency departments in downtown Toronto. This was done quickly, efficiently and without incident by ambulance dispatchers, relying on the central resource registry which links all emergency departments in Metropolitan Toronto by computer. An emergency operations room was set up at the Metro Toronto headquarters for ambulance services to establish links with the affected hospitals to meet whatever needs they had. Cardiac monitors and portable suctions were made available to Mount Sinai and St Michael’s Hospital when they were completely without power. As well, a portable generator was sent to St Michael’s to help with the auxiliary power.
Most members no doubt heard of the heroics demonstrated at Mount Sinai where five critically ill babies were rushed through the tunnel under University Avenue to the Hospital for Sick Children. I am sure as time goes by we will be hearing and marvelling at numerous other inspiring stories of how the doctors, nurses and health professionals on the front lines responded during this crisis. Again, my utmost appreciation and admiration to all in the health care field who prevailed during those desperate hours of need last night.
Mention must also be made of the key role played by Ontario Hydro’s emergency crews. By 11:30 pm, just over two hours after the failure of the transformer, electricity services had been restored to 90 per cent of Hydro customers. By 1:10 in the morning, full service had been restored. These emergency crews are to be congratulated for the speed and efficiency that they brought to their task.
I should also mention that the Ministry of the Environment personnel made an inspection of the site and determined that there were no safety risks from PCBs as a result of the transformer fire. The Ministry of the Environment spills action centre was notified of the explosion and an emergency response person was sent immediately to the site. He conducted onsite sampling of soil, water and oil from the exploded transformer and worked with city and other officials to contain the spread of contaminants in the sewer system. The Ministry of the Environment is continuing onsite monitoring today.
It is indeed reassuring to know that when things do not operate as they should in this modern world of technology, we have the invaluable resource of dedicated and caring people to see us through these critical times.
Hon R. F. Nixon: As I said in the budget statement on Tuesday, the government is making a significant enrichment to the Ontario tax reduction program in 1990. These improvements will benefit low-income working families that have children under 19 years of age or dependants with disabilities.
Raising the threshold at which Ontarians begin to pay provincial income tax is an ongoing part of the government’s commitment to improve fairness in the tax system. This fiscal year we are doubling the amount of spending on the tax reduction program. This improvement to the tax reduction program will benefit 115,000 families, providing additional income tax cuts for up to $200 for each child or a dependant with a disability who is cared for in the home by a low-income working adult.
A single working parent with two children currently does not pay Ontario income tax on income under $14,100. As a result of this year’s budget initiative, that parent will now pay no Ontario income tax on income below $18,700. If one of the children has a disability, the parent will not pay tax on income below $24,500.
With this expansion of the Ontario tax reduction program all families earning the equivalent of the maximum social assistance benefit will not pay Ontario income tax in 1990. In total, 625,000 Ontario taxpayers will have their income taxes reduced or eliminated by this program, at a total cost of $88 million in 1990-91. The improved tax reduction, together with the almost $900 million in property and sales tax relief provided this year for lower-income and senior households, will bring to almost $1 billion the cost of our tax relief programs.
J’aimerais transmettre aux députés de cette Assemblée des détails supplémentaires sur certaines mesures dans le domaine des services de garde d’enfants que mon collègue le Trésorier a annoncés dans son budget.
Over the last five years the government has quadrupled funding for child care, from $88 million in 1985 to $396 million this year; $257 million of this is 100 per cent provincial funding. Through this expenditure we have doubled the number of subsidized spaces and introduced the direct operating grant which increased the salaries of child care workers.
Of the $10 million the Treasurer referred to in his budget, $2 million will provide direct operating grants for 3,200 new licensed child care spaces; $8 million will be used to provide 1,600 subsidies to support those new spaces and help families who need assistance in paying for child care. About half of the 3,200 spaces will be in new schools, as a result of the Ministry of Education’s child care capital initiative. The other half will be in community-based centres.
As well, we value our partnerships with municipalities. As a result, we are currently providing $10 million to assist them in meeting their child care responsibilities. Specifically, this funding will assist certain municipalities which are facing extreme pressures in purchasing subsidies in the community.
When we announced our New Directions for Child Care, we did so with the understanding that the federal government would launch a national child care strategy. That has not happened. Indeed, the federal government has placed a limit on its contributions to Ontario’s child care system.
My ministry is proceeding with its review of Ontario’s child care legislation, the Day Nurseries Act. This review is being conducted to support our continuing development of a stable and good-quality child care system by developing simpler, more up-to-date legislation.
As growth continues in Ontario’s child care system, the federal government has imposed a five per cent limit on the Canada assistance plan, or CAP, as it is popularly known. The implications of the federal government’s actions are profound for Ontario. In practical terms, it means that programs traditionally funded under CAP, such as child care, will not be fully cost-shared by the federal government.
L’Ontario s’est engagée de façon claire et nette à l’amélioration de ses programmes de garde d’enfants. La création d’un programme de garde d’enfants d’un calibre élevé requiert la collaboration à l’échelle nationale de tous les intervenants, y compris le gouvernement fédéral.
La déclaration que le ministre fédéral de la Santé et du Bien-être social a faite récemment sur la stratégie fédérale des services de garde, attendue depuis longtemps, constitue par conséquent un geste encourageant.
Ontario is clearly committed to improvements in its child care programs. Building a high-quality child care program requires a national partnership with all those involved, including the federal government. The federal Minister of National Health and Welfare’s recent statement about the long-awaited national child care strategy is therefore encouraging. It is my hope that Ottawa will restore its traditional role as a partner in child care and other social services throughout Canada. Ontario’s commitment is firm and constant, and it will remain so.
Mr Reville: Those of us on this side are pleased to join with the Minister of Health in paying tribute to all those hundreds of people who responded so alertly to the power blackout crisis that was created last night. I should note, however, that heroism is part of the daily job description of many of the workers she mentioned.
I am surprised that the minister did not speak to the question that is very much on our minds, which is, how could it be that the emergency power systems at two major downtown hospitals failed to operate effectively when called upon. We expect a full report very soon from the minister on how she intends to deal with the inadequacy of emergency power sources in all 222 hospitals.
Mr Laughren: I want to respond briefly to the Treasurer’s statement of today. Yesterday the Treasurer announced a $140-million exemption in taxes to the private sector; today he has announced a $38-million exemption to the lowest-income earners and the most vulnerable people in our society.
The Treasurer brags that with this program a single parent with two children will no longer pay taxes unless he or she earns more than $18,700 a year. That surely is still about $5,000 below the poverty level as established by Statscan, and that surely is unacceptable.
It still remains a fact that in this province a single person earning the minimum wage of $5 an hour will still pay income taxes to this province totalling $368 a year. That fact makes a more important statement about this government than all the statements this Treasurer has ever made in this House or ever will make.
Mr Allen: I want to rise to respond to the announcement of child care initiatives by the Minister for Community and Social Services. It is interesting that gone is the rhetoric of commitment to child care as a public service in these announcements. Now we hear only of minimal improvements that leave thousands of families, especially in the low-income category, still struggling to find scarce subsidized spaces.
The minister’s figures sound grand, $396 million, but when one discounts the announcements that have already been made, the transfers that have already been announced, that leaves $142,443,680 which will have to cover, for example, expansion of spaces, direct operating grants, new capital money -- both major and startup -- as well as ongoing funds for program development, and clearly it is inadequate. It amounts, in point of fact, to a 16 per cent increase, but that compares with a 30 per cent increase in each of the last three years. In other words, what we are getting this year is a 50 per cent cutback in the pace of development by this government in the child care system.
The $10 million allocated for new spaces, for example, will not even provide service for one quarter of the eligible families that are now there on waiting lists. That means, at $5,000 per space, 2,000 new spaces, as against 4,000 spaces last year.
Again, the child care workers, with their subpoverty wages, will have to endure further in that condition. They were left out of the pay equity legislation. Their incomes at this point in time are 20 per cent less of the average wage than they were in 1984, when they represented 66 per cent of the average industrial wage, and now they are 47 per cent of the average industrial wage. These child care workers, in short, have been overlooked one more time, even though this budget provided $58 million in increased compensation for other social service workers.
Those who look to the child care system to provide healthy beginnings for children who will one day become productive workers or non-productive workers, depending upon their start in life, will of course not see too much to hope for in this pace of development. One can only conclude that the government appears to have given up on the concept of child care in Ontario as a basic public service for the children and families of Ontario.
Mrs Cunningham: In response to the child care announcement today, of course we are always pleased to see improvements in the availability of child care spaces across the province of Ontario. On behalf of the families, one would say thank you.
At the same time, though, it seems to me that the most important issue in child care right now is the quality and the standards of care. We have been asking for that now for over two years and the fact that this announcement today advises us that this spring we will receive that review leaves the question out there for many families and certainly many workers in child care facilities across the province of Ontario. I should underline too that the Provincial Auditor, in his most recent report, underlined his tremendous concern about enforcement and about quality of care, which takes us into the next question.
When I first came down here, I had already been working in the community towards a new Day Nurseries Act, a new act that would in fact relate to today’s needs, and it just simply has not happened. It does not say in this announcement when it will happen. We have been waiting a long time. We are pleased about the spaces but we must make certain that they go to deserving families. The auditor also said that there is abuse of the system that should be taken care of. I would point out these problems to the minister.
Mr McCague: In relation to the statement made by the Treasurer, it is encouraging that he has carried on the tradition of making those less fortunate, those on lower incomes, exempt from tax. I think, if the Treasurer were to do something in the area of affordable housing, this might not be as necessary, but I just congratulate him for putting the cost of living up so high in this province that he has to give it back at the bottom end.
Mr Cureatz: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to have the opportunity of responding to the Minister of Health’s statement. Of course, I want to say to her that it is very difficult to be critical of such an all-consoling statement and we are very supportive, but the interesting aspect is that she covered various other ministries, for instance, the Ministry of Energy. I see our Minister of Energy is not present so I want to direct some thoughts and comments in that area.
Through this minister, I want to remind the Minister of Energy, when she makes her way forward in a day or two, that I have been mentioning to this government, time and time again, that the energy policies concerning electricity in the province of Ontario have been disastrous. It is too bad the minister is not here because actually I was on, finally, for question period, after begging the question period chairman to get me on and the minister does not show up today. My luck.
But let me remind the Treasurer, it is interesting, I remember days ago, when we were the government and he sat over there and he had crocodile tears about, “Where are all the Conservative cabinet ministers?” I would like to know that myself now, actually. Let me say to him, “Where are all the Liberal cabinet ministers now?” Oh yes, I am looking, there are three of them in the front bench. Where are all these wonderful people who are guiding the province of Ontario? There is no guidance, I say through the Minister of Health to the Minister of Energy, concerning the production of electricity.
I will give some free advice to all the Liberals over here. They had better get back to their ridings because there are going to be a lot of them who are going to be gone. One of the reasons they are going to be gone is that there has been no planning for, among other things, the production of electricity.
Last summer, we saw the possibilities of brownouts in the province. Last night, we saw a major blackout in downtown Toronto. It was for a short period of time and, of course, I say to the Minister of Health, as she said in her statement, that indeed we give credit to all those individuals who were able to compensate and work quickly to remedy the situation.
But the long-term policies of this administration are going to show that, among other things, it is giving no guidance to major policy fields, certainly in the area of electrical production. Time and time again, we have heard from this administration that it is concerned about acid rain and is not going to build any thermal plants. Now, of course, as we have seen recently down in Windsor, they have taken the freeze off, after so many years, on building nuclear power plants.
When is the government going to give us the decision? I know when they are going to let us know: after the election, when the electorate has made its decision. Of course, we are presuming that the Liberals are going to be back, but I have words to all the Liberals over there. They are not going to be back. Trust me. The Liberals are going to be like so many pieces of paper just blowing in the wind and they are going to be ashamed that they did not bring forward positive policies in this legislative process today.
The Speaker: This might be the appropriate time to remind the member who has just spoken that yesterday a member of his caucus rose and made some comments regarding a member referring to other members who were not in attendance. I tried also to draw that to the attention of all members and I hope they will follow that tradition in the future.
Mr B. Rae: On Tuesday the Treasurer was quoted, in one of the newspapers of the province, as admitting that if somebody in Metropolitan Toronto earned $5 an hour, that person would have to rely on food banks. Those are words that apparently came out of the Treasurer’s mouth.
Yesterday my colleague the member for Nickel Belt clearly established that a person earning the minimum wage of $5 an hour would have had to pay, in 1989, $360.40 to the Ontario government for personal income tax. This means that the Treasurer has created a most bizarre world where someone earning the minimum wage, on his own admission, living in this community of Metropolitan Toronto, will have to use a food bank at the same time as he will be paying $360 to the Ontario government.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The point is that the personal income tax base across Canada goes into effect at below the minimum wage level, at actually $8,100 for a single person. That is below minimum wage, and it is at that point that the honourable member weighs in with his views. All of the provinces have this basic personal income tax and we in Ontario have a tax reduction program which, in the five years that I have been Treasurer, has taken about 625,000 off the tax rolls, people who are still eligible to pay income tax at another jurisdictional level.
This year, in enriching the Ontario tax reduction, we have focused on low-income families with a $200 reduction, not in taxable income but in taxes payable for each child, with additional reduction for any disability in the family. We feel that this is a move towards an improvement in the progressivity of the system.
Mr B. Rae: The fact remains, and the Treasurer cannot get around it, that on Tuesday he admitted that the minimum wage in Ontario was so bad that there would definitely be people who would be having to go to a food bank who were being paid the minimum wage, a minimum wage established by his government. It is his government that establishes that wage. Now he is admitting that that same person earning $5 an hour is having to pay $360 to him.
I would like to ask the Treasurer how he squares that fact with the fact that in this province there are 40,000 corporations, working again under the provincial income tax system, under rules devised by him, earning over $1 I billion in profits, which do not have to pay a cent of tax in this province, at the same time as the person making $5 an hour is paying $360 a year. What kind of sense of fairness does that make?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member is aware that corporation income taxes have sections within them that entice and encourage the investment in expansion in this province that makes the jobs that the honourable member and I and all members and citizens are interested in.
it. We expect to create 64,000 new jobs in this province. As a matter of fact, the unemployment level in Toronto, which is the area the honourable member represents, has one of the lowest unemployment rates that you can find anywhere for the last decade. We feel that our policies have been very productive in this regard.
Mr B. Rae: They have been productive for the Treasury in the sense that the ministry continues to stick it to the ordinary person and lets the corporations that are doing well, thank you very much, get off without paying a cent of taxation. That is the reality of his tax system.
I want the Treasurer to square this. We have somebody making $5 an hour who, on the Treasurer’s own admission, may have to use a food bank. He is paying $360 a year to the Ontario government at the same time as he is using a food bank, and the government has this incredible source of income from corporations earning over $11 billion that are not paying any tax.
I would like to ask the Treasurer again just how he squares 40,000 companies making money and getting off scot-free and somebody making $5 an hour, having to use a food bank and having to pay income tax at the same time.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member perhaps was not in his seat for members’ statements or he would have heard the member for Simcoe East criticize me with almost as much vehemence, if not eloquence, as the Leader of the Opposition for having a tax regimen for corporations that is the highest in Canada. He was wondering whether we were going to adjust that so that the competitive situation would be improved here.
The honourable member realizes, of course, that because of our policies, the utilisation of food banks has been reduced in general by seven per cent. But the most important thing is the targeted situation where families, that is, families with children, have reduced their reliance on food banks by 25 per cent.
I personally believe that this is due to the implementation of the Social Assistance Review Committee recommendations, which began a year ago and which will continue this year with the expenditure of $403 million above and beyond last year’s expenditure. We feel that this is an appropriate move which will at least attempt and move towards the alleviation of any situation that the honourable member might criticize.
I would like to say to the Treasurer, before he gets overwhelmed by his own complacency, that he has taken on a mining profits tax this last year which has produced $197 million and stumpage fees which have raised, he has agreed and recognized, almost $100 million in the last year. That means that in the last year the resource industries of northern Ontario have produced revenues for the government of Ontario of $300 million, that is, one third of a billion dollars.
I want to ask the Treasurer a simple question. Why is it that the northern Ontario heritage fund is getting only 10 per cent of that? Why would he accept a 10 per cent solution for northern Ontario when it really means that northern Ontario is subsidizing the rest of the province and subsidizing the government of Ontario to the tune of $290 million?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member is undertaking voodoo arithmetic which is meaningful only to himself. The honourable member is also aware that he just got through criticizing me for having taxes that were too low and now he seems to imply that we are taxing the mining companies and the forest companies too much. His irrationality in this regard boggles the mind and takes my breath away.
The honourable member will also know that the northern heritage fund has now had transferred to it over the last three years $100 million -- $90 million plus interest -- and my colleague the minister in charge, who I understand is in the north today, with the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources, is responsible, along with a representative board, for the expenditure of those funds.
The honourable member, since he is repetitious in his approach to these issues, will be glad to know, of course, that at the same time, government policies have transformed and transferred more than 1,600 full-time government jobs to the north. Since he may have something to say in supplementary, I will rest my case for the moment at that point.
Mr Hampton: It is quite a fact now that every time the Treasurer is asked a question about northern Ontario, he refers to 1,600 jobs that went to North Bay, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Timmins, as if those were the only places that exist in northern Ontario.
I want to ask the Treasurer again about $100 million in stumpage fees. The only extra thing he could find in his budget for northern Ontario was $18 million for forest regeneration. He made special note of that in his budget as if it were something wonderful. How far does his $18 million for forest regeneration go when, at the hearings in Thunder Bay, it is acknowledged that there are now 3.8 million hectares of cutover land that has not been regenerated or, if you wish, nine million acres that has been cut over and not regenerated? How far does his $18 million go when he took $100 million in stumpage fees?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am surprised that the member, with the advantages of an excellent Ontario education subsidized by the taxpayers, would be at the point where he is not better informed. He is surely aware that we have allocated an additional $30 million for mining exploration.
It may be because he comes Fort Frances that he thinks there are no mines in the north, only forests. I am amazed at his rather narrow, tunnellized provincial view of the matter. I happen to have the list here. Besides the $100 million in the heritage fund already referred to, there is $30 million of new funding for mining exploration, which is very important in certain parts of the north.
As far as forestry is concerned, it is not $18 million. It is $232 million for the management of our forest resources, as well as an open-ended account for the fighting of forest fires. Last year, that was an additional $75 to $80 million.
The whole philosophy behind the heritage fund is to provide the means, the tools for economic diversification and to build infrastructure in the north. The Treasurer does so when the going is good, and heaven will attest that the going is good indeed. He is under record provincial revenues and he could use some of those revenues at Hemlo, for instance, to help other communities in the north that need his help so much.
When will the Treasurer stop milking the north and have a sense of reciprocity in this kind of affair between the north and the south and return some of the mining taxes and some of the forestry taxes that we send down south every year?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The member is perpetuating a myth near and dear to the hearts of a diminishing handful of socialist representatives from the north, and that is the concept of milking the north. That is simply not true. The member knows that that is the case.
As a matter of fact, as a resident of a northern municipality, he should be aware that the per capita unconditional grants that the municipalities receive are double those received on the average in southern Ontario. The member, coming from his community, must be aware of the $14 million in new funding made available for the Indian communities. I would think if there was any milk of human kindness in the soul of the honourable member, and I have given up on most of his colleagues in this regard, that he would be prepared to acknowledge that.
The members also referred to the royal commission on forest resources. It probably is not very politic of me to say so, but if we could redirect the allocation of the millions of dollars directed to that royal commission and put it at the service of the northerners, it might have almost as much good.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Some four regional offices of the Canadian Paraplegic Association will close on I May for lack of funding. We know that his ministry in fact, rightfully so and graciously accepted, has committed some $2 billion to long-term care. Of course, included in those services would be the disabled.
We have a program that is going on right now to support the quadriplegic community across the province of Ontario. Why would the minister not see fit to continue with something he knows is working? It is just as important as those new programs in the future.
Hon Mr Beer: I am aware of the situation facing the Canadian Paraplegic Association and have been in correspondence with it. As the honourable member might be aware, a few years ago the association received an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant and expanded the number of its offices in Ontario. We had expressed some concerns about planning that expansion in as careful a way as possible because, as the member is aware, the foundation’s grants are for a limited period of time.
We are continuing discussions with the association around those offices that it feels it is going to have to close. As the member is also aware, we are involved with them, to a considerable amount of money, on a number of programs and will continue to do that.
As to just what is the best way to go in terms of how many offices they should have and how those fit in with other community programs which are already in place, that is something we want to look at carefully so that we can make use of the available dollars and serve the people who need those services.
Mrs Cunningham: As of Tuesday there will be 300 disabled persons with spinal cord injuries who will not be receiving services. It is just fine to take a look at where they fit in and whether the Ontario Trillium Foundation should be supporting them or whether the government should be supporting them, but these programs have been provided by this association for over 45 years. This is an extension of the same money and same programs that are there today.
Hon Mr Beer: We have made very clear, in working with the association, that we will ensure that everyone who may be affected will be properly placed and that there will be service for those individuals. We recognize that in a number of these communities there are other organizations providing similar kinds of services and it is terribly important, both with long-term care but also with all of our programs, that we try to co-ordinate and ensure that those dollars are used effectively.
Mrs Cunningham: The minister knows very well that services to disabled persons in Ontario have been extended far beyond the capacity to deliver in this province today. That is why I hope the minister has looked at a long-term plan to build on those services day by day, week by week and month by month.
It is not good enough to say that existing agencies can take on this increased load, nor can his ministry offices. If the minister is talking about priorities, his own budget in the head office of the Ministry of Community and Social Services right now is over $1 million. These people are asking for less than half that amount. I guess the question they would ask is, where are the priorities?
I hope the minister is not saying that 300 people can show up at some office on Tuesday and receive the same level of service they have had in the past. What is the minister’s long-term plan for the Canadian Paraplegic Association as part of the big picture?
Hon Mr Beer: The association, as with others active in working with the disabled, will continue to be a key player with us in a whole series of programs, whether in terms of long-term care or others such as special support at home and programs of that kind.
We are increasing funding in these areas, as the honourable member will be aware. We are moving to fund other programs in terms of supporting people at home. The amount of money that is going mm this area each year increases, but there is a tremendously important need for everyone in the field to work together to ensure that those services are provided in the most effective and cost-efficient way.
We think that can be done, we believe that the current difficulties the association is facing can be overcome and, as I said before, we will ensure that anyone who, for whatever reason, is not able to be served by the association will be looked after effectively by my ministry.
Mr Runciman: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. We were advised he would be in the House by 2:30 and he has not yet appeared. I would like to stand down my question in anticipation of his arrival shortly.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Housing with regard to an apartment building at 161 and 163 Gilmore Street in Ottawa. The landlord of that particular building went to rent review and asked for a 104 per cent increase in rent for the tenants. The decision from rent review came down in the last couple of days and the minister will be happy to know that his rent review system gave the landlord a 189 per cent increase in rents. For Evan Frank, it means his rent will go from $363 a month to $1,064 a month.
The major component in this building is renovation. I ask the minister again, does he not realize that his rent review system is a farce, that it must be scrapped and that rent controls must be brought in to protect tenants across this province?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My colleague will be aware of the fact that the rent review legislation does authorize the rent review officer to examine the figures that have been placed before him or her and to determine exactly what increase is recognized.
The member will also be aware of the fact -- I presume he is, anyway -- that on 24 April the tenants in this area launched an appeal to that particular decision. He will be aware of the fact that the tenants are therefore not required to pay the increase until the appeal has been heard.
I would point out to him that on another occasion very recently, within the last month, a similar situation existed and on appeal something like $110,000 worth of renovations was not allowed. In fact, the decision with respect to the increase was practically cut in half. So that is still possible.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Even if that type of thing did happen, the percentage increase is still going to be outrageously high in this case. The fact that these tenants have this 189 per cent rent increase hanging over their heads, the rent review legislation allows it to be retroactive and thousands of dollars can be owing when the final decision comes through, just reinforces that the rent review legislation is not working to protect tenants.
My supplementary deals with changes in regulations which the minister brought in this week, dealing with renovations, which are supposed to help alleviate this problem. Is the minister aware that in this case, applying his regulation changes that are supposed to protect tenants, the increase in this case, instead of being 189 per cent, would be 181 per cent? Does he not now realize that even those regulation changes are not going to do anything to protect the tenants of this province?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Part of the difficulty we are all working with -- and the honourable member is well aware of this -- is that we have a responsibility to recognize that there are legitimate pass-through costs in order to keep a building in reasonable repair. He will be well aware, as I am, that tenants have come to both of us expressing concern about those buildings that are not kept in repair.
Our system of rent review is designed to allow the hearing officer to look at the costs that have been incurred. If they are legitimate costs, then they are allowed to be passed through, and of course they are amortized over a number of years, depending upon the particular element. I do not think the member would suggest we should put in place a situation where legitimate costs cannot be passed through. If he did, he would obviously know we would end up with a situation such as they now have in places like New York City where streets and streets of buildings are boarded up because no one can afford to repair them. That just does not make an awful lot of sense.
I would suggest to him that in the province of Ontario we do not want that kind of end result. The tenants have clearly told us they do not want that kind of end result. When buildings must be repaired and there are legitimate costs, then they must be passed through.
It is my understanding that the investigating officer completed and sent his report to the Attorney General’s office and the Solicitor General’s office on 28 March following an investigation which took about a year and a half. In a similar situation at Wasaga Beach, the investigation lasted about four and a half months and charges were laid through the crown attorney’s office in Barrie.
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the question -- the member has posed this question and we have had some discussion about it in the past -- all I can do is indicate that the matter is under investigation. It is proceeding in the usual course. This is a matter which I understand has some complexity, and I believe the allegations which the member has made are factually incorrect. The type of investigation which has been ongoing is one which is done in the usual course and that is how this matter is proceeding.
Mr McLean: The facts I have given are correct. Charges were laid from the Barrie office. This has bypassed the Barrie office. It is in the minister’s office and the Attorney General’s office. There are apparently some high-profile people involved in these irregularities, from what I have been told.
Hon Mr Offer: I think the member should be well aware that this matter is and has been under investigation, as the member indicates, for quite some time. It was a matter of some complexity and it was done in the usual way. After the investigation, discussions take place with crown attorneys to provide advice as to whether charges are to be laid or not to be laid in appropriate and reasonable circumstances.
That is how this matter has been proceeding. That is the way in which all matters have been proceeding. For the member to stand up and suggest it is being handled in any way other than that is lobe factually incorrect. That is just not the case.
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. It concerns the government budget and the decentralization policy by which government jobs are relocated to cities other than Metropolitan Toronto.
The budget statement says the government plans to continue decentralizing its functions from Metro Toronto, but it does not indicate any allocation of money for that purpose, other than for the northern Ontario relocation program.
Has the minister been provided with funds for the relocation of Ontario government jobs to places other than northern Toronto, in particular to the city of Windsor, and when can we expect action in this regard and the relocation of a significant number of Ontario government jobs to our city?
Hon Mr Ward: I would like to .thank the member for his question and for his ongoing interest in this particular issue. The member will know, because he has raised this with me on several occasions before, that indeed the government is looking very closely at its current accommodation practices. It is important to note that government operations in Ontario are already highly decentralized, with some 70 per cent of all employment through the Ontario government being in areas outside of Metropolitan Toronto.
The fact remains that there are still over 34,000 jobs occupying very expensive space in the Toronto region. Many of those offices are in leased accommodation. As a matter of fact, it is anticipated that those leases will cost the taxpayers of this province somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1 billion over the course of the next five years.
So as leases come up for renewal we are looking at various locations and we will be making some judgements as to whether or not it will be more cost-effective to relocate those offices in other centres throughout Ontario, not only generating significant savings for the taxpayers of this province but also providing a very definite economic catalyst in regions outside of Metro.
Mr M. C. Ray: The people of the city of Windsor are growing quite impatient with respect to this issue and they fear such statements as “programs and policies which will take several years to implement.”
Hon Mr Ward: To my honourable friend I would say it is important to note that the government of Ontario does have contracts and commitments in terms of its leased accommodation in this city and elsewhere throughout the province.
I believe it is very important that, in making these judgements as to the relocation of government offices, it be done in a fiscally responsible fashion. I can assure the member that we have been working very hard on this over the course of the past year, trying to identify possible candidate sites and also to identify offset savings that may accrue as a result of this program, and I can assure him that we will be announcing details of various relocations over the course of the next several months in an appropriate fashion.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question of the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. His ministry has closed down some parks in eastern Ontario because of alleged low occupancy. We have some information here that says only two of the five parks which were closed actually had so-called low occupancy.
Hon Mr Black: I guess I am somewhat puzzled by the question. Just about a month ago the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry attended a meeting with all of the municipal representatives from the area in question -- that meeting, incidentally, was arranged by my colleague the member for Cornwall -- and we had the opportunity to discuss at that time the attendance figures at the five parks in question. At that time there was no dispute over the figures that I have, other than perhaps 100 or so here or there.
If I look -- and I have these in front of me because I anticipated there might be such a question -- the occupancy rate at Farran Park was 27 per cent, at Grenville last year was 46 per cent, at Charlottenburgh was 19 per cent, at Morrison-Nairne 32 per cent and at Brown’s Bay 32 per cent.
We know we have a surplus of camping spaces in the St Lawrence Parks Commission. We have been endeavouring to address these in a way that would assist the people of that area to continue to enjoy the facilities of that area, but also in a cost-effective way. We will continue to do that.
Mr Villeneuve: The minister cannot have the same information that I have, and I have the report here that says Grenvi.11e Park, occupancy rate medium to high; Morrison-Nairne, medium to low; Farran, medium to low. Charlottenburgh is low because of problems with the sewage system.
Would the minister not now tell this House he is prepared to keep these parks open for at least one more year so that either the municipalities have the opportunity of budgeting to run them or deal with private individuals so that these parks do not close? They are most important to the tourism industry of eastern Ontario. The minister calls the shots.
Hon Mr Black: I appreciate very much the confidence that is shown in me by the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and I know that reflects the views of all of his caucus. I do want to say to him, however, that it is important that we look very carefully at this question. We have had meetings with the municipalities involved. We are involved in ongoing discussions with those municipalities and some of them have indicated an interest in taking over the operation of those parks.
In fact, I can share with you, Mr Speaker, because I know you are interested, that just yesterday we completed an agreement with one of the municipalities to operate the park this coming summer. We believe those negotiations will continue with other municipalities and hopefully will be fruitful.
So at this point I do not want to interfere with the St Lawrence Parks Commission which, I would remind members, has a board of directors composed of people who live in and are from that area and who are very representative of the people of that area. I want them to continue the process of trying to solve the problems that exist there.
Mr Runciman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I was going to raise my question with the Treasurer. He had left the assembly. So I think, in terms of standing down a leader’s question, I should have priority.
Hon Mr Ward: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am sorry, I am trying to be helpful here. My understanding was that the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry placed the last question, or is this a stand-down from earlier?
Mr Runciman: I appreciate that the Treasurer will perhaps not be as knowledgeable on this issue as the Minister of Financial Institutions, but I am sure he will not be falling short in respect of providing an answer.
The minister may know that the superintendent of insurance has issued a cease and desist order against Firestone Insurance Co, of Antigua, for having failed to pay four claims to Ontario manufacturers totalling $1.8 million. Firestone Insurance has 300 to 500 policies, representing a third of a billion dollars of underwritten risk that may not really be insured. Offshore insurance firms are not subject to the same standards as domestic insurers because of a loophole in Ontario law.
Mr Runciman: He may have been the Minister of Financial Institutions in 1988; I am not sure. Are the Treasurer and his government colleagues prepared to change the law so that offshore companies will be subject to the same standards as Canadian firms, and if so, when?
Mr Runciman: It is regrettable that the Deputy Premier and former Minister of Financial Institutions apparently does not have any familiarity with this issue, but I am going to forge ahead in any event.
In December 1988, the Financial Post’s Diane Francis brought this legal loophole to the attention of the superintendent of insurance, but no action was taken to protect the Ontario public. Furthermore, the cease and desist order does not stop Firestone Insurance and its officers from opening another offshore shell company to again take advantage of the loophole. I should note that two men operating this firm have been charged with fraud by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Why has this government taken no action to correct this loophole, and how much more risk will it expose the public to before it will make a decision on this?
Ontario’s laws currently favour foreign companies over Canadian firms, and these offshore companies can unethically prey upon Ontario residents. Despite knowing this in 1988, the government abdicated its responsibility by not taking action. Firestone Insurance is not the only potentially unscrupulous offshore company operating in this province. We require quick and decisive action by the government. Was the Deputy Premier, perhaps in his role as the Minister of Financial Institutions -- I believe it was in 1988; he has not commented on that. In any event, whoever held the office ignored the warning of December 1988, and as a result of his and his officials’ lack of action, several Ontarians are facing economic hardship.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I will bring it to the attention of my colleague and also add, probably in a gratuitous way, that I thought supplementaries had to do with the answer rather than simply the desire to make three lengthy speeches.
The Speaker: I would inform the members that on previous occasions questions have been taken as notice, and then there seemed to be quite an uproar in the House if the Speaker did not allow supplementaries so that members could ask for further information. That has been the custom. However, if the members wish to change that, I would be most happy to change it.
My question is concerning a report in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star last week regarding a statement by Europe’s largest bank, the Deutsche Bank, that in fact it is advising its clients to reduce their holdings of Canadian bonds and other securities. The Deutsche Bank feels that political uncertainty surrounding the possible demise of the Meech Lake accord will lead to a significant economic downturn in this country.
Mr Runciman: What about eastern Ontario? We have an MPP here who supposedly represents eastern Ontario and he gets up and asks a question about the deutsche mark. Where are his priorities? Why does he not start doing his job?
Mr Daigeler: Even if the opposition does not feel that way, I consider the economic consequences of whatever happens surrounding Meech Lake of extreme importance, certainly to my area that I represent, the Ottawa area, to this province and in fact to the whole country. Can the Treasurer tell this House whether other financial institutions have expressed similar fears and whether, as Treasurer of Canada’s economic engine, he shares this gloomy forecast for international investment if Meech Lake fails?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the member is very wise to be concerned about the matter. When the Deutsche Bank recommends to the people who seek its advice that they should sell half their Canadian holdings, it has to have an impact even in Leeds, believe it or not.
The Deutsche Bank participated in a syndicate that assisted Ontario Hydro in borrowing $500 million in the European market a year ago, and we certainly have a very high regard for its professional ability and regret very much that although it had a great deal of confidence in Ontario a year ago, its concerns
Mr Daigeler: In view of the nervousness about Canada’s economic future by the international business community -- and I note even in today’s paper a reference by the vice-president of the Royal Bank of Canada on the same subject -- is the minister taking special steps to reassure investors about Ontario’s economic prospects?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the best reassurance I could give them was a balanced budget and the reduction in our debt. I believe that the international investors would look at Canada and Ontario as a good place to invest and to hold the bonds of our nation and our provinces and our various municipalities and some other agencies. As a matter of fact, they seem to be readily saleable around the world and we are having no trouble in meeting these requirements.
There is no doubt, however, that the instability in the minds of some people concerning our constitutional future is regrettable, because this is not the first time we have come this way in the discussions of our constitutional future. Most of us in this House have participated in debates strongly supporting the Meech initiative. The Premier has taken a position of leadership which is highly commendable, and whether or not that is crowned with success, most of us as Canadians are aware that it is a continuation of our Canadian constitutional process. I do not believe that we should have anything but confidence, not only fiscal and monetary but also democratic, in the future of our nation.
Mr Allen: The Minister of Community and Social Services has some promises to keep with families that look after their handicapped children at home. He will know that the special services at home program was founded in 1982 for families that were looking after their developmentally handicapped children at home. In 1986 and again last May, in 1989, predecessors of his indicated that they were planning the expansion of that program for the physically handicapped who stayed at home with their families and for developmentally handicapped adults who remained in their family situations.
Since that time, however, families that have developmentally handicapped children have discovered that their support services are declining in terms of family allocations. When is the minister going to reverse those reductions on a per family basis and when is he going to extend the program for physically handicapped children and developmentally handicapped adults who remain in their families?
Hon Mr Beer: My honourable friend raises a question which is of concern to us in trying to meet the great demand for those services. I can say to my colleague that with respect to the services for developmentally handicapped adults and physically disabled children, that program will be going into effect this year. In fact, meetings are being held around the guidelines for those programs, and it is our hope that moneys can begin to flow by the early fall, if not before. All of the various groups that are involved in those areas will be involved in that consultation.
I have, further, at the member’s request a few weeks ago, indicated that I would meet with the coalition of interested groups, and I will be doing that with respect to the program that has been ongoing. We have increased and continue to increase the amount of money available in that program, but as the member points out, the demands have grown, which has meant in some cases that the amount of hours for each client has had to drop. We are trying to work on that on an area-by-area basis to see if we can bring those levels back to what they have been.
Mr Allen: One of these families writes: “Our lives are anything but normal. I must devote all my time and energy caring for my child. My husband must work all day and help relieve me evenings and weekends. I feel it is outrageous and shocking that we must beg for help that we need and then live on the edge when we get help, fearing cutbacks.”
This family is hearing that the agencies that serve them, that support them and that advocate for them in the community will be asked, under some of the minister’s new proposals that he is considering, to do the adjudicating as to who among them will get service, which puts those agencies in a conflict situation. They are also hearing that 49 per cent of the budget will be devoted to co-ordinators who will help them or teach them how to access resources in the community, as though they were not already burdened with looking after their families. Will the minister tell them that this is not so, that neither of those developments will take place and burden them still further with problems?
Hon Mr Beer: I would certainly state that it is not my intention to set up a system which is going to burden those particular individuals, and I do not know where that figure comes from, but I can say that the funds that we have are intended lobe used for the families that need them.
I think one of the things we are looking at in terms of trying to determine areas of greatest need is also to see what other resources are available in the community that might be able to assist families where the needs are not as great. That decision and the framework for that kind of decision, though, will be taken with all of the partners in this program together. In addition, we will continue to find increased resources to meet that ever-growing demand.
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. I would like to ask the minister what his rationale is in providing only 60 per cent of the cost of sewage and water proposals for small communities within regional municipalities, while he is willing to provide up to 85 per cent of the cost in grants for municipalities that are outside regional municipalities. I would like to know why he is discriminating against small municipalities in regional municipalities.
Hon Mr Bradley: Regional municipalities were established a number of years ago by the government that the member used to be part of. It was anticipated by that government that one of the assets of regional government would be in fact a much larger tax base which could be utilized by that region to assist the municipalities within it. What has happened in most of the municipalities around the province that are within regions is in fact that the region has assisted those municipalities and there has been some help for them which would not have been there in the past.
I know, for instance, that the regional municipality of Niagara has helped out the smaller municipalities in many ways. The people who are in the larger municipalities which have a tax base have been generous and wonderful in many cases with the smaller municipalities. So because of that tax base that is available to them and because others who are outside the regions do not have the same tax base or potential for assistance, there is up to 85 per cent for those who are outside regions.
Mr Sterling: I would like to bring to the minister’s attention the small village of Marionville which is on the border between my riding and the riding of the Deputy Speaker. Approximately 70 per cent of Marionville is in the other riding and in another county and there are about 15 homes along one side of the road which are in Marionville.
The problem with the split kind of financing which the minister is trying to justify on the basis of some concept which he understands -- which I have never understood before or never knew existed before. These 15 homes are being denied water and sewage because the grant to them can only be 60 per cent, whereas for the people across the road it is 85 per cent.
I do not understand. Since the region is not willing to soak up this extra cost, who does the minister expect to pay the extra 15 per cent to 25 per cent? Does the minister expect the 15 residents along the other side of the road in Marionville to pay that extra 25 per cent?
Hon Mr Bradley: I too share the surprise of the member for Carleton that the region would not be prepared to financially assist those communities, because the region does have that tax base. In addition to that, the member may be aware that when his government was in power, the maximum amount of money that would be available for projects for the region itself, a region-wide project -- in other words, under the auspices of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton -- would in fact have been 15 per cent.
I initiated a program in Ontario on behalf of people in areas such as that so that they could have potentially up to 33 per cent of the project paid. So the region has benefited rather immensely from the dollars that were freed up, obviously, from the very generous consideration of projects within the region in which he lives.
I would have thought that the region would have been willing to assist the smaller communities that are part of that region and want to feel part of that region. I think they would feel part of that region even more if indeed the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton were to assist them with the additional dollars which have been freed up from the generosity of this government.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. In January the minister announced a plan which was to restructure eight municipalities in the south part of Simcoe county into three larger and stronger municipalities.
In my riding of Simcoe Centre, the township of West Gwillimbury and the town of Bradford were amalgamated into one municipality and, following the guidelines set by the minister, a transition team including representatives from each municipality was established. They have been working for several months now towards ensuring a smooth transition into this larger municipality. I wonder if the minister could update the House as to the status of these negotiations.
Hon Mr Sweeney: I am pleased to share with my colleague that during the three months that the transition team has been in operation, it has been very successful indeed in resolving a number of very contentious issues that it drew to my attention in January when the team was set up in the first place.
They had indicated to me at that time that they were going to have some difficulty with some of these issues, but let me share with my colleague that they now have agreed as a transition team on the names of the new municipalities; they have agreed on the composition of the new municipalities; they have agreed on the council representation of the new municipalities; they have agreed on public utility and police commission composition of the new municipalities; they have agreed upon employee protection and a number of other things.
I want to share with my colleague how pleased I am that they have been able to accomplish so much in such a period of time, which is clearly a reflection of their willingness to co-operate with one another.
Mr Owen: The transition teams have indicated to me that they have some concern about the status of the necessary enabling legislation that would be required for the amalgamations to go ahead. They feel that after all their work they know the enabling legislation has to proceed, and yet they are concerned with the delays in the Legislature that have been taking place over the last number of weeks as to whether or not we will ever be able to reach the legislation that is required for this to proceed.
Hon Mr Sweeney: One of the causes of the delay in introducing the legislation is, partly at least, my commitment to the transition team that we would incorporate into the legislation its particular findings. We now have a good start on that and the legislation is in process. I fully intend to have it introduced into the Legislature itself. I am looking forward to doing it within a month.
However, what I cannot guarantee him, as he said, given the situation in the House at the present time and the difficulty of passing legislation, is that it will in fact be passed, but I will guarantee to him that it will be introduced. If we can get sufficient co-operation, it ought to be passed as well, but I cannot guarantee that.
Mr Reville: My question is to the Minister of Health and it refers to a statement in the budget that describes a consistent level-of-care funding system, which will be introduced for homes for the aged and nursing homes. The Minister of Health is responsible for only half of that statement, but we do not know how much money is involved.
Because the ministry was so tardy in requiring nursing homes to meet the requirements of the Nursing Homes Amendment Act passed in 1987, I cannot imagine that the minister has any financial information on what nursing homes currently do with the $400 million worth of public funds they get. Why does she now think nursing homes might need part or all of $200 million more, or is this a giveaway?
Hon Mrs Caplan: My colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services tabled some time ago the principles for long-term care. One of those principles was moving to a focus on people, rather than the name on the door of the institution or the label on the bed they happened to be in, in that institution.
The goal of long-term care reform is to focus on the person, on the level of service he needs, and to develop a funding formula that will respond appropriately to ensure that whether that person is in an institution or in the community he is receiving appropriate services.
Mr Reville: What we got was a focus on hocus-pocus. The previous Minister of Health said, “No money without financial accountability.” That is what he said. We still do not have it. The information required by the act is just beginning to come into the Ministry of Health, and not one financial statement is posted in any nursing home in this province as required by the act.
It makes you worry that we hear about $180 million in co-payments on the one hand; we hear on the other hand about $200 million more for private sector providers. We know that there is a lawsuit against this government by the Ontario Nursing Home Association, and we could be forgiven for wondering whether the Ministry of Health is going to buy off this lawsuit out of the pockets of the elderly and the disabled in the community. Is that so?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite refers to regulations under the Nursing Homes Act. He knows that there were extensive consultations and that the new regulation is now in force. It sets out the form and the manner in which financial and operating information required under that act must be presented, and this includes a requirement to prepare an audit file and post statements containing financial information. The amendment and the regulation dictate how recordkeeping and auditing requirements for financial records are to be prepared and maintained by nursing homes.
He knows as well that in accordance with the Nursing Homes Act, financial statements must be filed within three months of the nursing home’s fiscal year-end. I can tell him that regulation is now in force.
Mr Cureatz: Of course the first thing I have to do now is apologize to my chairman of question period committee, because he has come back to me and said: “All right, all right, you are winding up. You are allowed to go on.” I have a great question to the Minister of Transportation. This is terrific: 1990 Ontario Budget, right here on page 3 under ‘Transportation” -- ! love it -- it says immediate GO rail expansion to my riding in Bowmanville.
I want to say to the Minister of Transportation that this administration promised back in 1985 to have GO rail extension to the city of Oshawa. Five years, and it never made it to Oshawa. It got as far as Pickering. The Second World War only took around five years and the minister could not get that train to the city of Oshawa.
Now he is telling us it is coming to Bowmanville, and does he know why he is doing it? So the Liberal candidate can march around in the riding of Durham East and say, “You see, the Liberals are bringing the GO train to Bowmanville.” I am going to say that I brought the GO train to Bowmanville when --
Hon Mr Wrye: I heard something akin to a question. I heard a longer speech. I was really surprised. I thought my good friend the member for Durham East was going to be on his feet claiming credit for what is the most positive announcement for his community of Bowmanville. He does not want to claim credit, so I guess whoever the Liberal candidate is, whenever an event is, will have to claim credit because obviously that member is not interested in having GO train service to Bowmanville. The GO train service to Bowmanville will start just as soon as we can get Canadian National to agree to allow us the track time. I predict that we will be seeing GO train service into Bowmanville before the end of the year.
Mr Allen: Mr Speaker, I have a petition from representatives of the francophone community asking that you receive 40,000 letters that have been written by their compatriots with respect to the situation at the Sault.
« Attendu que nous avons reçu 40 000 lettres d’appui des Canadiens de toutes les provinces demandant la révocation de la déclaration d’unilinguisme anglais du 29 janvier par le Conseil municipal de la ville de Sault Ste-Marie, nous, soussignés, désirons déposer à l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario ces 40 000 lettres d’appui requérant le respect des droits des minorités et le renforcement de l’harmonie et de l’égalité entre les deux peuples fondateurs. »
“Whereas we have received 40,000 letters from across Canada asking the city council of Sault Ste Marie to revoke the resolution of January 29, 1990 that declared English the official language of Sault Ste Marie,
“We, the undersigned, wish to present the 40,000 letters to the Ontario Legislature as an expression of support for tolerance and respect for minority rights and for recognition of equality between the two founding nations.”
I have signed the copies. I send the copies to the table and I wish to send a sample of these petitions with one of the pages to the minister responsible for francophone affairs in order that he might begin his --
“That the Parliament of Ontario legislate total protection for all human life, including the unborn, and that parliamentarians feel free to invoke the notwithstanding clause in order to accomplish the above.”
“We, the undersigned, wish to draw your attention again to the inequity of the employer health tax. This tax should be fair. Everyone should contribute and pay a health tax. Everyone should pay the same percentage. Everyone’s tax should be based on the same levels of remuneration, not some before expenses and some after.”
“That Bill 68, the Ontario government’s threshold no-fault insurance legislation, be withdrawn because this legislation eliminates the right to sue for 90 to 95 per cent of the innocent injured accident victims who are not seriously or permanently injured or killed. This threshold clearly discriminates against those suffering mental injuries, soft tissue injuries, broken bones, as well as those seeking compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
“It fails to fully compensate workers for lost wages due to inadequate unindexed income replacement, does nothing to discourage drunk, careless and negligent drivers by protecting them from litigation, does nothing to ensure consumer protection and lower interest or insurance rates, particularly within urban areas where predictions for rate increases by the minister tend to fluctuate.
The Speaker: Order. With respect, the member has the right to present petitions. There is a limit on time for petitions, in case other members wish to participate. You are allowed to put in your own words the content of the petition, but it is not necessary to read it all.
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, with respect, some 125 Monarch Park Collegiate students went to the trouble to sign this petition. They have every right, I submit, to have their petition fully and properly presented in this Legislative Assembly and I thank those kids from Monarch Park. The government ought to listen to them for a little bit.
Mr Philip: I have a petition that, in summary, calls on the Peterson Liberal government and the Treasurer of Ontario to stop dumping on the taxpayers of the greater Metropolitan Toronto area. It refers to the fact that we pay $90 for a licence plate identical to those who receive it for $33 and $55 in other jurisdictions, and to the fact that the greater Metro Toronto area corporate concentration tax is putting businesses into receivership in our area and is cutting down on the hotel business.
Monday 30 April will be the third party budget response and the continued debate on the budget motion. Tuesday, I May, we will be resuming the adjourned budget debate. On Wednesday 2 May the estimates will be tabled, followed by a New Democratic Party opposition day in the name of Mr Cooke. Thursday 3 May, in the morning sitting, it will be private member’s ballot item 47 in the name of Ms Bryden and item 48 in the name of Ms Oddie Monro. In the afternoon sitting, we will have second reading debate of Bills 114, 107, 96, 108 and 106 and, time permitting, any previously stated unfinished business.
Mr Allen: Mr Speaker, on a question of order: I understand the normal procedure is that the official response initiates here and then the official response moves to the Tories, and usually those are considered leadership responses. Then one gets into normal rotation. I would have thought that perhaps it would have come back, to initiate the subsequent round of rotation, to the official opposition and then would go to the secondary responses from the third party. That is my understanding. Perhaps I am wrong, but perhaps you could straighten this out before we get too much farther into the afternoon.
The Speaker: I would be glad to try to straighten things out. I thought we usually operated very smoothly around here. I understood the House leader saying that they would sort of stand down the leader of the Conservative Party’s comments, so I asked if any members wished to participate in the debate and the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry stood up. So I recognized the member. But I am in the hands of the House.
Hon Mr Ward: If I could be helpful, the debate on the budget began with the motion by the Treasurer. The member for Nickel Belt spoke to that and moved an amendment. It is correct that an arrangement has been made for the official third party response on Monday. I assumed we were following a normal rotation, which in my view means it will be a member of the third party, followed by a member of the government side, followed by a member of the New Democratic Party -- a normal rotation as in any other debate.
The Speaker: We seem to be having a little difficulty here. It is up to the Speaker to recognize the first person who has the floor. I recognized the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. If he wishes to yield the floor to the member for Hamilton West, I will leave it up to him.
Mr Villeneuve: My leader is on very urgent, pressing business out in the rural tidings of Ontario this afternoon and he will be officially responding as leader of the party on Monday. It is my understanding that it was our turn to participate in the debate and I certainly plan and intend to do that this afternoon.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The official response was ours yesterday. The next person should be the official response from the Tories. They have stood that down until Monday. If they had given that response, it would be a Liberal. The person who should be up would be a Liberal. That would be the appropriate response. Then it would be us and then the third party. This way, they get an extra person in the rotation.
Mr Villeneuve: Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I was about to say, the Treasurer presented a budget on Tuesday of this week that certainly made a lot of people wonder when exactly the election date would be in the province of Ontario. There is a great deal of speculation to that effect now, and there is no doubt about the fact that it is a pre-election budget, very similar to what was presented to this Legislature in 1987, some two and one half years ago.
At the time when this government took over in 1985, the now Premier admitted that he was a very fortunate politician indeed to be taking over the province of Ontario at a time when the economy was in full bloom and that indeed the federal government had just changed and the climate for investment and for economic expansion in the province of Ontario was certainly very positive. That prediction came very true, although we do not hear the Premier these days saying much about how lucky he was back in 1985 to have inherited a good economic situation in this province, and also to have come in following a very tough period of time when interest rates were very high.
Well, we are going back into a situation where interest rates, in order to fight inflation, are quite high. The province of Ontario is still doing quite well. However, the economic activity and expansion is slowing down quite extensively.
The Treasurer has predicted a 1.7 per cent expansionary factor, economic growth, for the next year. That turns out to be a fairly liberal estimate, according to the economists we have spoken to of late. Indeed, it tends to be possibly up to one per cent beyond the expectation of many of the bankers and the economists in this province and indeed in Canada.
If somehow or other the Treasurer does happen to have been somewhat high in his economic growth projection, it could mean up to a half-billion-dollar reduction in his anticipated $44.5-billion income for the province of Ontario. If this occurs, the $440 million that was estimated to be addressed towards reducing the overall deficit of the province would not occur.
Getting into the more regional areas, as you know, Mr Speaker, I come from a riding right next door to yours, and the economic situation in eastern Ontario is not nearly as buoyant as it is in other parts of Ontario. As a matter of fact, it is probably not even as buoyant as certain parts of northern Ontario.
Yet the Ottawa Citizen, of all papers, states on Wednesday morning, “East Left Out in the Cold.” That is pretty brash, coming from paper like the Ottawa Citizen, particularly when it is speaking of a Liberal government. However, that heading was definitely there, and I was interested yesterday during question period that the minister in charge of correctional institutions was showing the headline to some of his colleagues on the Liberal benches. He was quite annoyed. I know he was annoyed at reading that eastern Ontario had been left out in the cold, and that is indeed what has occurred in this budget, this pre-election budget.
Locally, the St Lawrence Parks Commission has decided to close down five of its parks, something that is very, very annoying and concerns a lot of people, particularly when tourism is such an important factor of the eastern Ontario economy. The five campsites that were closed down -- and I will refer to them individually, because the minister, when I questioned him today, certainly did not react in a positive way oriented towards keeping these parks open.
There is an interesting scenario. An analysis was done regarding the operational procedures of the St Lawrence Parks Commission and particularly of its camping sites. With respect to cost recovery of campgrounds, based on some of the facts that we have from across Canada, “In general,” the report states, “no province recovers its total campground costs.”
Some estimates of total average cost recoveries were as follows: In Alberta, approximately 50 per cent; similar for Manitoba; Newfoundland attempts to get 50 per cent but winds up closer to half of that, or approximately 25 per cent; Quebec recovers from 40 to 50 per cent; Nova Scotia is slightly under 50 per cent; British Columbia is right at the 50 per cent. However, we do have the St Clair Parkway Commission, which has an identified ratio that is much less than 50 per cent. The state of Michigan recovers approximately 80 per cent.
Of the campsites that were closed down, Browns Bay has an occupancy rate that is considered low. However, it has a cost recovery factor of 58 per cent, well above what it anticipated in other provinces.
I say to the minister and the ministry, we have five prime waterfront property campsites in eastern Ontario that are being closed down by the government, by the parks commission, and attempts have been made by different municipalities to negotiate with the St Lawrence Parks Commission to operate them in 1990. It is my understanding that one municipality may be operating one park. It is not official or finalized.
However, I do know for sure that the township of Edwardsburgh is not in a position to operate the Grenville Park this coming year, and unless matters change very drastically, a very popular park with a cost recovery of well over 50 per cent, Grenville Park, will be closed down this year, and that is a tragedy.
I want to quote from a letter that I received, and I received a number of letters. I presented a 6,700-name petition to this Legislature, but this is an interesting one. It comes from American campers Linda and Bill Knox from Columbia, Connecticut. I think it bears reading in part. It is addressed to myself and it reads in part as follows:
“We have camped in a great many of Canada’s provincial campgrounds across your lovely country from Vancouver to Cornwall and have found them all to be exceptionally clean, quiet and beautifully kept. Our favourite is Nairne, along the St Lawrence River, and we have returned year after year. This would have been our eighth year if the park remains open.
“It makes us heartsick to think that we may not be able to spend our vacation this summer in eastern Ontario along the St Lawrence River. Please consider the following before closing the campground, and particularly Nairne campground: Firstly, closing a few first that aren’t as well-loved and quiet as Nairne. Many are overrun with noisy young people. Nairne is a family park area and full, whenever we seem to be there, with quiet campers who take good care of their sites.
“Secondly, our strong suggestion is to do as we do in the US: Allow senior citizens a 20 per cent discount rate or even a 50 per cent discount rate through the week, but not free camping. We have noticed many seniors simply hopscotching from one spot to another all through the summer. You’re losing a lot of revenue there alone. All should share in the cost.”
“Your small business people, corner stores, etc, near these campsites will suffer if the campgrounds are closed or eliminated. Even those enjoying camping and visiting Upper Canada Village will be eliminated. Upper Canada Village will definitely suffer. Your campgrounds attract people from near and far. You must not close them.”
I could continue. This comes from someone who visits our country, who brings American dollars into our country, and I think that is most important. Eastern Ontario is known for its hospitality, its hospitable people and its beautiful scenery, among other things, of course, and the closing of these campgrounds, I think, is an absolute atrocity to the area, to the businesses and indeed to the public that uses these parks.
I have had a number of phone calls from the Good Samaritan camping organization, the Ottawa section, very concerned at the closure of the parks, particularly Grenville Park, which to those people was their favourite. Many seniors and many people who just enjoy fishing were using the site as the launching area for their small fishing boats.
Again in the same general area, Upper Canada Playhouse, which is live theatre based out of a very temporary playhouse just off Highway 401 and close to Upper Canada Village, had to shut down its temporary structure because it was no longer usable. We have discussed the possibility of having the playhouse incorporated with Upper Canada Village. We have had a lot of discussions. I have sent a number of letters to different ministers at different times, and as ministers were changed I certainly made it a point to ensure that the new minister was aware.
However, this has never come to fruition. It is my understanding that the playhouse operated last year out of St Lawrence College, in Cornwall. It was not a very successful year. It was almost similar to operating like a fish out of water. The people who support the playhouse basically had to drive the distance from wherever they reside to downtown Cornwall, and it was not a good experience. I understand the playhouse will operate from the town of Morrisburg this coming year.
However, we must look in a positive light at having the playhouse, live theatre, incorporated as part and parcel of Upper Canada Village. This would not only bring additional people to Upper Canada Village to see live theatre but would also interest them in the heritage of Ontario, the Ontario of the mid-I 800s. So I think we have to look very strongly at constructing the Upper Canada Playhouse as a permanent structure as part of Upper Canada Village.
We can move on to education. The area that I very proudly represent is operated as the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Board of Education and also parts of the Leeds and Grenville County Board of Education. All boards that form part of these two boards of education have had to increase taxes tremendously in the last several years because of impositions from the senior level of government here at Queen’s Park, and funding has not been forthcoming in the way that it should have been to these school boards.
We are in the far reaches of eastern Ontario, and it is interesting that the Ottawa Citizen alludes to -- and did allude to prior to 1985 -- the fact that the government of Ontario thinks and actually operates as if the province ends at Kingston. It is even worse now. I thought, certainly upon being elected, that eastern Ontario would obtain its share of funding from the senior level, the provincial government here at Queen’s Park. When you see a paper like the Ottawa Citizen being very annoyed and in bold headlines saying, “The East Left Out in the Cold by the Budget,” I think we should all sit up and take notice.
Hospitals: There are three medium-sized hospitals in the riding I represent. We have one, the Winchester District Memorial Hospital, which is in serious need of additional funding. They have had a local fund drive which has obtained substantial amounts of money. However, they still have a major deficit, and it is an ongoing discussion with the Minister of Health here at Queen’s Park to ensure that the hospital has sufficient funds to operate efficiently. It operates in a rural area, in the shadow of the city of Ottawa, but it is providing a very important health service to the community in Dundas county.
Roads I think we could talk on for quite some time. A question in this Legislature yesterday pertained to a dozen deaths on Highway 17, the killer strip west of Ottawa going into the Upper Ottawa Valley. It is an absolute must to twin and become four lanes, as is Highway 416. Highway 416 land acquisition was completed in the early 1980s; the land has been
The road was improved considerably last year with a new coat of paving. However, it must be twinned, it must be four lanes, it is one of the main accesses to the capital of our country from the south by Americans. Highway 16 leads from the small village or hamlet of Johnstown along the St Lawrence River at the international bridge directly to the northeast into Ottawa, so we have many of our American tourists who visit the nation’s capital effectively driving in on a road that is very much inferior and that leaves a great deal to be desired.
The year 1998 is estimated to be the completion year of the twinning of Highway 416. I think some urgency is needed here. I recall that during an election campaign the Premier mentioned that 1994 would be a great year, but of course right after the election that particular promise was somehow overlooked, forgotten or totally neglected.
The Alexandria courthouse has been the subject of a number of discussions here, and we do now have it reopened. There was a period of time when it was closed and all courtroom activities that would have normally occurred in Alexandria were being held in Cornwall and there was great concern that possibly the courthouse could be closed down. Hopefully this will never happen, but because of the fact that this government imposed on the local municipality the total cost of policing the courthouse in Alexandria, the mayor and council decided that they could not effectively and efficiently operate the courthouse with the amount of per-household contribution that the provincial government was providing them with.
So we did have considerable discussion, and it finished up that, yes, the courthouse was reopened. However, it was at considerable financial cost to the ratepayers of my largest town, a town of 3,300 which is indeed looking after all of the costs of courtroom facilities for all of Glengarry county. The cost is being borne by the town of Alexandria. It is not fair, but it was decreed and imposed and there was very little choice but to go ahead and do it.
The Treasurer was rather eloquent when he made his presentation of the budget, emphasizing the fact that there were no tax increases. The residents of the province of Ontario are certainly paying now for the tax increases that were announced in previous years, in 1988 and again in 1989.
I will cite just one example that is rather obvious, and it is in the budget. The OHIP premiums that were provided by Ontario residents in 1989 amounted to $1,394,000,000, something less than 20 per cent of the cost of operating the health care facilities across this province. Lo and behold, the employer health tax, which came in on 1 January 1990, is projected to recover from employers in the province of Ontario $2,614,000,000.
That is an increase of $1.3 billion, all borne by the businesses, the municipalities, the school boards, the hospitals, the employers of Ontario. It is a cost of doing business. So that is a very, very substantial tax increase which the Treasurer failed to mention when he was presenting his budget to this Legislature on Tuesday afternoon.
There are a number of other tax increases, such as the personal income tax increase of one per cent, very much now being felt by the residents of the province of Ontario, and the $5-per-tire tax, very much now being felt and paid by the residents of the province of Ontario. There are numerous others, but we are talking about this year’s budget. But the previous years’ budgets, the 103 per cent increase in taxes that have occurred in the last five years, are now being paid by the residents of the province of Ontario.
I am critic for Agriculture and Food, and that is a ministry in which, although a lot of lipservice has been paid to it, very little financial action has occurred. Oh yes, we did have an interest rebate program that was in place in 1985, when interest rates were actually lower than they are right now. We are now facing the highest interest rates that we have since 1982, and those are factual figures.
However, it took the almost call of an election to have $48 million injected into the Ministry of Agriculture and Food on interest rate reduction. I do not know on what they will base what should be the normal interest rate. Under the old plan, the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, it was eight per cent. Right now, most farmers are paying 15.5 or 16 per cent, so it is an additional eight per cent; prime plus one, in the mid-teens, 15 to 16. Farmers cannot in any way, shape or form afford this kind of interest.
If, for example, an average farm has a $50,000 mortgage and/or operating loan, that additional eight per cent is some $4,000. If we look at the figures, we have about 75,000 active farms in the province of Ontario. If we take the $48 million that the Treasurer allocated, it is slightly more than $600 on average per farm. As the Treasurer mentioned yesterday, yes, some of our farmers probably do not have borrowed money and therefore they will not be collecting this $600.
However, the $600 is a far cry from the $4,000 in the example I have just given members on a $50,000 mortgage and/or operating loan that is now paying eight per cent above what the base figure was in 1985, 1986 and 1987 of eight per cent, and the OFFIRR program was oriented towards reducing the interest rate paid by farmers to eight per cent. So it is not a large amount of money.
You have to remember, Mr Speaker, that agriculture farming is a somewhat different type of endeavour. You buy retail and you sell wholesale, and not many businesses do that. Think about it. You buy retail and you sell wholesale. Commodity prices, beef, pork, grains, are somewhat at the levels they were about 10 years ago. As a matter of fact, I recall selling corn in 1980 at $180 a ton, and right now you are lucky to get $135 or $136. That is doing well.
We are getting a little more in eastern Ontario. We are getting a little more because we happen to be situated a little bit farther away from some of the markets. We always like to think that in spite of the fact that we have somewhat less heat units, we have pretty good farmers in eastern Ontario and we can compete with some of the best anywhere at growing crops, producing livestock or whatever is involved in agriculture.
So it is a $48-million amount for one year just to get the government over the election process and then we will be forgotten again, as a very important economic group of people here in this province. We are, as farmers, something less than three per cent of the total population. However, I think that primarily due to agriculture this province has always prospered and done well. We in the agricultural production end of things, given the market, can double if not triple our production. We could feed the world.
However, the limitations are there regarding economics. We are hoping and trying to do away with some of the very major subsidies and the Uruguay round of the GATT is attempting to solve some of those problems, not very successfully, I might add. However, they know the problem is there. It will take a lot of political will to eliminate some of the high subsidies that are being provided to the European Community and others in the production of food.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food anticipated a $579-million expenditure in the 1988-89 fiscal year and actually spent only $522 million. Some $51 million of that reduction was direct transfer payments to farmers, farmers out there who were faced with increasing costs, declining income and yet declining support from their provincial government.
In another example, some 14 agricultural engineers were chopped from the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food without consultation, without asking anyone, simply chopped. We were told they were only working at 27 per cent efficiency. The agricultural engineer in my area was available, providing assistance in designing drainage projects, in soil conservation projects, in livestock accommodation, such as ventilation systems and what have you. These are services that now will probably have to be paid for by our agricultural community.
Yes, we still have some agricultural engineers, but they will be very busy. They probably will not have the time to come out to the farm and look at the situation at first hand: “What is the problem? How can we resolve it?” This is something that our agricultural people had grown very fond of. They certainly accepted the fact that the agricultural engineer was there and would have been able to visit the farm in the near future at the request of the farmers. I am afraid most of that will be gone.
There are a number of other casualties, cuts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, one of the very few ministries that suffers from cutbacks, in a time when the industry is going through some of its most difficult times, not only in the decade but in the century.
Certainly conservation is an important aspect. In the budget, $48 million was announced for the land stewardship program, soil conservation. What the Treasurer forgot to tell us was that $10 million of that money had already been spent; so that brings it down to $38 million. It is spread over four years, going through until 1994, so it is about $9.5 million a year for the land stewardship program. I am not sure just how dedicated this government is to supporting agriculture and the conservation of some of our very good soil that we have here in this province.
Another area is the farm tax rebate. The Treasurer did not touch on that one. About this time last year, he decided, I am told without even discussion with the then Minister of Agriculture and Food, that he would make the farm tax rebate a political animal instead of an equity lever to the agricultural community. Farm land and farm buildings are taxed for educational purposes, and that is certainly not a fair tax because, for educational purposes, land and buildings should not be part and parcel contributing to that particular tax burden.
Many years ago, after a great deal of persuasion from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the then government, the Tories, brought in the farm tax rebate program to bring equity to the administration and the operation of a farm, equity in that someone in the city owns a house, a house accommodates people and is therefore subject to education tax and is fair game. The same does not apply to farm land and farm buildings. That was simply a recognition that equity had to be brought to this particular area.
Lo and behold, this Treasurer has now turned it into a means test and a political beast, and I think that is terrible, because the Treasurer does know better, being a farmer himself and a very astute businessman also. But he chopped $27 million from that program because it was deemed to be too rich and then he applied a means test. That politicized the process completely, and now we are probably trying to orient farmers in the direction that the government wants them to go. The farmer and his wife are subject to a means test, to establish whether they qualify for the farm tax rebate program to bring equity to the payment of education, and it does not make any sense at all.
I understand at present there is a committee studying the new and rejuvenated farm tax rebate program. Will they listen? That is another story. What will become of it no one knows, but it was reduced from $167 million and that should not even be part of the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. It was only a reimbursement to bring equity to the system, a reimbursement to the farmer, because in order to operate his business, he has to have farm land and farm buildings. All it was doing was reimbursing the educational portion of those taxes on the land and the buildings. Equity no longer applies with this particular government. It is a matter of politics and whatever direction the Treasurer and the Premier want to bring agriculture to.
In regard to auto insurance, I am also very concerned about our agricultural people. Bill 68, which is still under siege and debate in this Legislature, will simply look at the previous year’s net income of a business person. It will be based on 80 per cent in the event of an injury that incapacitates the owner of a business to not only operate his business but probably do some of the manual labour.
The Minister of Financial Institutions has stated that he has amendments that will be changing this to some degree, and I gather there are some 30 amendments being brought forth. I am not sure what the amendments are, but as things now stand, $185 a week is the minimum amount. I am sure we will have some new struggling businesses and young farmers who may not have a taxable income the previous year, having taken some very legitimate expenditures, and they will be faced with a $1 85-a-week maximum amount, if indeed they had no net income or paid no income tax the previous year. That must be changed to a percentage of the gross income and, of course, we have a maximum of $600 a week.
I hope some of the Liberal backbenchers, if not the Liberal cabinet ministers, appreciate and understand a beginning business, a struggling agricultural operation, where the farmer, his wife and his family all contribute free labour. Thank goodness for that or many of them would not be able to operate at all. So we have to look at Bill 68 for agriculture and for small business based on gross income and not net income, and always remember that there is a maximum there at $600 a week. I defy anyone running a farming operation to replace himself as both the manager and the hired hand for $185 a week. It is less than $10,000 a year. It does not make sense at all.
I want to touch on supply management a little bit. Certainly that is the area of agriculture that shines the brightest. It is something that we have to protect. The federal government is moving rather quickly in that area in order to make sure our dairy and poultry producers do have support from the GATT.
The jury is still out on that one, but certainly the climate for doing business here in Ontario was depicted in a report of the Food Industry Advisory Committee. I will read just one short paragraph on page 1.
“A conducive business climate is required in Ontario. Industry’s perception is that there has been a series of legislative initiatives imposing new costs. Cumulatively they make Ontario less attractive for long-term business investment.”
This is a report that bears looking at. The government has constantly shirked its responsibility and the cost of many of its programs to municipalities, to industries, as in the employer health tax, to whoever happened to be handy and close by.
Again, we saw it happen in this budget. It happened in that crown corporations are now being established to look after the assessment departments and also the water and sewer installation. It was interesting to read the comments by the mayor of the city of Ottawa, who saw this as a direct vehicle to charge municipalities and to also put the government at somewhat of an arm s-length distance from bad news.
We all know the market value assessment tempest here in the city of Toronto. Certainly we all tend to look with a degree of apprehension when we get our tax notice and we look at the assessment. You scratch your head and you say, “Is the property worth what someone else really thinks it is worth or is it worth less?” I certainly hope it is worth a little more when I come to sell it but, darn it, when I am paying taxes on it, I would like it to be worth just a little less; it would make the taxes a little more bearable.
But this government has put itself at arm’s length from the assessment people by creating for them a crown corporation, a crown corporation that will inevitably, in the long run, be charging municipalities for doing the assessment of the properties they have within that municipality, and likewise for the Ministry of the Environment, in the installation of sewer and water systems, I think we are going to see again a mechanism in place to collect and to collect as best they can and the government will be at arm’s length.
Again, it is a situation where the government has shirked some of its responsibilities and indeed created new vehicles that will kind of put the government itself in a slightly different area so that people will be taking aim at crown corporations, instruments of the government instead of the government itself when decisions are made in either the assessment area or the sewer and water area. It is kind of a handy little gimmick that was thought up by the Treasurer to distance himself from the problem.
Getting back to agriculture, many farmers were very disturbed when changes in pesticide regulations were announced earlier this year, and I see several of my colleagues in the Legislature who operate farms. Maybe they had reason to be a little concerned when the Ministry of the Environment changed the regulations on the way to handle herbicides and pesticides; they must now be secure. I have always put up my supplies in the back of my pickup truck, come home from the supplier, put them in the shed and use them when I need them. They now have to be secure.
Mr Villeneuve: Absolutely. I am going to have to go with the car now and put them in the trunk on the way home. It is the only way I can lock them up. Either that or put them in the front seat with me as I drive home, and I think that is a bit ridiculous. I can tell you, Mr Speaker, it was sprung on farmers without consultation, without asking. They were told, “These are the rules.” Do you know what it does, Mr Speaker? It makes us, the farmers, look like we are big, bad ogres, we are polluters, and the government is saying: “Look, we made them toe the line. We made them secure their herbicides and pesticides when they travel home.”
However, it just makes one wonder. We are putting agriculture through all sorts of gymnastics and actually leaving the impression that agriculture is a major culprit. I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that the farmers I know are probably the best conservationists of all. Lo and behold, our city people are just discovering composting; it is a big wonder -- and it is; composting is great. However, farmers have done this for ever. That is another example of the shifting of burdens on to an industry, agriculture in particular, that really cannot afford the additional costs.
I have occasion regularly to visit one of the cheese plants in my area. It is known as the St-Albert Co-op. I did not ask a question of the minister during question period; however, I did send him a small note today to find out just what had happened with their appeal.
We have a very strange situation there, where this small cheese plant in eastern Ontario effectively markets all of the supply, all of the milk that it processes at the door in the same building where it is produced, and it has been cut on a number of occasions from the amount of milk it receives. They have appealed to the Farm Products Marketing Board and the board has decided it is not really in its jurisdiction to decide, so it is really in the minister’s hands now. What we are looking at is simply providing them with enough raw product to meet the demand that their customers, via a 3,000-name petition, say they want and they like and they are going to continue to consume.
I am still looking towards the Minister of Agriculture and Food to be providing me with the decision that it is not undermining supply management; it is the last thing in this world. It is simply assisting to market processed dairy products, and our dairy farmers, who happen to be one of the more fortunate groups in the agricultural field today, are doing reasonably well under supply management. But they have also been faced with one, two and three per cent annual cutbacks in production, because we have a declining per capita consumption of dairy products.
This is one way of correcting to some degree that declining consumption per capita. This is a product that is wanted by the consumer and yet somehow or other bureaucracy is standing in the way. So it is in the minister’s hands and I certainly hope he is able to come to a decision that will not only keep the processors happy, because they will be able to meet the demand, but also keep the consumers happy, because they travel from Ottawa, they travel from Cornwall, they travel from all over eastern Ontario, northern New York state and the province of Quebec to the little town of St-Albert to purchase their cheese curd and fresh cheese, which is, I guess, the moment in the sun or what this little cheese factory is best known for, its fresh curd and fresh cheese.
In summary, I was pleased to see a budget that did not spend more than it took in. However, in order to have that occur, there were some accounting gymnastics done, and that is fine. By and large, the same amount of money that is being taken in by the government is being spent, and it is called a balanced budget.
However, I am very concerned about the area of the province that I represent not having been mentioned once. Yes, the Premier is talking about a committee of cabinet to look after eastern Ontario. Right now, the minister cannot even reopen five closed-down St Lawrence parks, which would really effectively cost nothing and at least give municipalities and/or private individuals a chance at operating these parks another year. They did not have enough lead time this year.
So what would a committee of cabinet be able to do when the minister himself seems to be totally incapable of doing anything positive about reopening or making sure they do not close five of 15 St Lawrence Parks Commission parks? I do not know.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity of participating, and I can assure you that I will continue reminding this government that Ontario does not stop at Kingston and that we in southeastern Ontario must not be forgotten, as we have been totally in this most recent budget.
Mrs Sullivan: I am very pleased to be able to participate in the debate on Ontario’s 1990 budget. I believe that the presentation of this document will be seen as an historic occasion in our provincial government history.
The budget is certainly being greeted warmly in my constituency and I will speak more of the specific effect and response in Halton Centre latterly. As well, the budget is being welcomed throughout the province. I have noted even a measure of grudging respect from members of the other side of the House in relationship to this particular fiscal plan.
The 1990 budget is creative and it is innovative. It has been carefully crafted to combine fiscal responsibility with a commitment to social justice. It provides an indication of the firm resolve of this government to meet what is a clear priority of Ontarians in coming to terms with environmental matters. It provides incentives to encourage continuing economic strength. We know that economic prosperity is a spur to social development.
This is a Liberal budget in a framework of fiscal responsibility. It provides services and funding today while building for a better tomorrow in education, in transportation, in health care, in agriculture, and in ensuring an adequate infrastructure to cope with deteriorating, inadequate or non-existent facilities.
Everyone in Ontario, along with members of this House, will celebrate that for the second year in a row the budget is balanced. The last time two balanced budgets in a row were presented was in 1966 and 1967. You might be interested in knowing, Mr Speaker, that indeed that was when the Speaker of the House was first elected and when the member for Niagara South was first elected. The only other sitting member in this House who was a member of the House at that time is the current Treasurer.
I was thinking of those heady days. I took the opportunity to review the history of budgetary planning decisions in Ontario over the years. Until this Treasurer, over the past 40 years there have been only three balanced or surplus budgets: the two I have mentioned in 1966 and 1967 plus the budget of 1970, 20 years ago. The current Treasurer of Ontario has, in less than five years, balanced the budget twice. That is history in the making.
I said last year, when I was speaking on the 1989 budget, that I believed the current Treasurer would be acknowledged as the finest who has served this province in that capacity. The evidence of his stewardship is very clear, and no one could doubt that prediction today. I thought I would take a few moments to review the progress made by the Treasurer in charting the course of deficit reduction and to remind members of the sound management approach of this Treasurer and this government.
In 1986 the deficit stood at $2.6 billion, which the Treasurer inherited from the previous government. In 1987, that shrank to $2.5 billion. In 1988, the position improved by over $1 billion to a $1.5-billion deficit position. Last year the deficit fell a further $1.5 billion to a modest surplus position, and that continues in 1990.
It is also interesting to compare Ontario’s budgetary performance over a period of time with that of the federal government. As members know, the federal government was elected in 1984. In Ontario, the government changed hands in 1985. Each new government faced a growing annual deficit and substantially increased total debt. Each new government expressed publicly a commitment to eliminate annual deficits and reduce total debt. If members want to take a look at the position of the federal government today and the provincial government today, it is not too difficult to see which one has the management skills and which one keeps its promises.
Neither the Ontario nor the federal government has huge printing presses in the basement to produce vast new stocks of money to pay the bills. Both have used revenue moves to meet new service needs but Ontario, for two years in a row, has achieved a balanced budget. Ontario has also vastly increased services which are provided in exchange for taxpayer dollars, and Ontario today has a per capita deficit of zero dollars. The federal per capita deficit is close to $1,200.
In a different context, someone made the apt comparison, “Some chicken, some egg.” The Minister of National Revenue, Mr Jelinek, represents part of my constituency. He has recently distributed a circular complaining about Ontario’s fiscal performance, but my constituents know where the egg is -- covering his face and his eyes, and that is why he cannot see the positive fiscal and budgetary management that is included in this province.
For his benefit, I would like to underline again the positive trends in deficit reduction in Ontario and, indeed, in reducing the total debt for the first time in the last 20 years. I would like to commend that type of management to his colleague Mr Wilson.
The indicators of strong, balanced fiscal management are evident on the bottom line. The same trend lines, though, can be seen in the course of change in net cash requirements. In 1986, net financing requirements were $2.2 billion and in 1990 we expect a net cash surplus of $430 million.
Under the Treasurer’s direction, the province’s operating position has also strengthened. From minus $400 million in 1985, the operating position moved to a surplus of $3.3 billion last year. For 1990, the Treasurer is forecasting a surplus of $3.2 billion. That surplus means that 100 per cent of our capital expenditures will be financed from current revenues. It also means that our day-to-day accounts are to be met from our revenue base.
The charts for every indicator tell the story of fiscal responsibility. We can see that Ontario’s total debt will fall to $38 billion in 1991. In 1985, the total debt measured as a share of the economy stood at 17.9 per cent. The 1990 budget plan calls for a decline to 13.5 per cent, the lowest level in 20 years. The number of months’ revenue that would be required to repay the total debt has also declined from 15 months in 1985 to 10 1/2 months this year. Ontario’s debt charges expressed as a percentage of revenue also continued to decline from 12.4 per cent in 1985 to 9.7 per cent in the current budget plan. Every indicator underlines a responsible approach to our spending today and the effect it will have on the next generation.
This fiscally responsible approach matters to my constituents and I know that along with me they applaud the conscientious efforts to keep our performance in control. Ensuring that the province operates in a fiscally responsible way has not meant that we jeopardized our social responsibility.
There is an element of fairness in this budget that goes hand in hand with fiscal responsibility, and that is important to all of us, because that means those who have not fully shared in the benefits of eight years of sustained economic growth in Ontario have a place and an entitlement to benefits from that prosperity.
My constituency of Halton Centre is one that is facing rapid change. Not long ago, agriculture was the mainstay of our economy and the change to a dynamic, ex-urban community has been swift. Day after day, new homes are occupied by new families with children. Like other growth areas around Metropolitan Toronto, the pressures on our schools, our transportation, our water and sewers, our waste management, recreational facilities and health care service have been significant. Those changes will continue.
In Halton, within 20 years we expect to see a population close to double what it is today, and there will be a changed demographic in our population mix. Our proportion of population over the age of 65 will more than double in that period of time. The number of people who will work in our own community rather than travelling elsewhere will also double. The number of school-aged children will be half again what it is today, and they will live in newly developed areas. As in other areas of the province, we expect to see an increase in the proportion of families headed by a single parent. We also expect to see a continuation of the trend of more and more women participating in the workforce, to the point where female participation rates will equal those of males.
Changes will also be reflected in the makeup of our business and industrial community. I should tell the House that Halton is enthusiastic about being part of the greater Toronto area approach to dealing with growth and indeed has proven to be a leader in the development of a co-ordinated planning scenario. Our municipalities and school boards have joined together to look at what that demographic change will mean over the years and the impact it will have on our infrastructure needs. It is a community that believes in planning ahead.
And that approach is precisely the one that is being taken in this budget document, because this budget sets the course today for the needs of the future. It reflects an underlying theme that planning today will meet the needs and the burdens of tomorrow.
A lot of those burdens relate directly to people. The Treasurer has indicated that reforms in long-term care that this budget heralds will be the most significant change in the provision of health and social services since the introduction of medicare in the 1960s. I believe he is right.
I hope members will not mind if I reminisce for a moment or two. I well recall as a university student attending meetings, speaking at events and knocking on doors to garner support for a universal medical care program. I remember reasoning at the time, when Mr Pearson was faring less than unanimously with federal proposals, that a medicare system made not only social sense but common sense as well.
Since that time, we have had generations of people in Canada who have not known a Canada without knowing a Canada which recognizes a right to a high standard of health care for every person. Defining Canadianism today for all of us includes a recognition of medicare as part of our national fabric. But over the past 30 years our society has changed and our sociology has changed. Our population is ageing and that brings with it new care demands.
We all know that there are deficiencies in the current system that must be corrected if we as a society expect to continue to provide social and health care with dignity. We know that many people receive inappropriate services, including premature institutionalization, because alternatives are not available. We know that people who have been providing in-home care have been leaving the agencies because they cannot afford to continue to stay at work. We know that there have been different funding mechanisms for different services. We know that delivery services at the local level are confusing to people and costly to administer.
We know that without the substantial change the Treasurer has introduced in this budget, things can only get worse because, like Halton, the entire province is entering a period of rapid demographic change with a significant ageing of the population. Along with that come increases in the numbers of people with disabilities and of those who require special care. This budget commits $52 million this fiscal year to initiate long-term care reform.
The program will include a one-stop agency that will simplify the process of identifying appropriate services that can be provided in the person’s own home or that will assist in the really trying process of having someone admitted to a long-term facility. For the person affected, or for his family, this will be not only a convenience but a welcome relief from the confused system which people now face.
The people who provide homemaking services are caring and dedicated. They frequently provide the only contact with the outside world for the persons in whose homes they work, and there is no question that the work they do is vitally important. I have, in my own constituency, gone with them and seen them at work with people who are disabled, the elderly and those suffering from acute or chronic health problems.
Members will remember that last year the Treasurer provided $88.8 million for people working in community agencies across the province, including visiting homemakers, to enhance their salaries. This year, he has again recognized the contribution of homemakers with an $1 I-million commitment that will boost wages by a dollar an hour. There is no question that funding reform will be greeted with open arms in Halton and elsewhere.
That is just the beginning of long-term care reform. Over the next five years, we shall see $410 million of new provincial funding injected into rationalizing and changing our long-term care approach. Along with a co-payment system, which we are familiar with from programs like Meals on Wheels, there will be some $640 million available to fund new and revised services. I know that we are all going to be eager in this House to hear further details of these reforms from the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Long-term care is not the only place in the budget where people come first. Last year, the 1989 budget introduced social assistance reform. In the short time since that $415-million commitment was made, we have been able to measure, or agencies have reported, substantial improvements in the lives of recipients of social assistance. Changes, including increased benefits for children, improved shelter benefits and improved employment support programs, have had an effect and we expect to see more.
The commitment of the province is clear. In 1985, $1.3 billion was spent on social assistance. Over five short years, including the 1989 SARC reforms, we shall see a trebling of provincial social assistance funding with this budget. In addition, the budget has brought forward a major initiative to assist low-income families with children or disabled dependants. By doubling the cost of the Ontario tax reduction program from $44 million to $88 million, 115,000 families, more than 600,000 people, will no longer pay provincial income tax.
In the budget, the Treasurer spoke of a single-parent family with two children who would currently pay Ontario provincial income tax if they had an income of $14,000. Following the changes, provincial income tax would not have to be paid until their income was close to $19,000. The opposition will say it is not enough, and we all wish it could be more, but that tax reduction program in total, with these enhancements, will cost $900 million this year. People I talk to who will be eligible for the new benefits in the Ontario tax reduction program tell me they believe this is a generous move and a caring one. To them it will make a difference, and they have been quick to tell me they feel cause to rejoice.
Many of these people, and others, will also benefit from the government’s commitment to affordable housing and to social housing. I want to put some housing facts on the table. This year, our housing budget will rise to $666 million, a 25 per cent increase over last year’s $530 million, which was itself a $110-million increase over the previous year, and that was a $100-million increase over the year before. In 1986, $200 million was allocated to housing programs; today that figure has jumped to close to $700 million. We are producing more social housing units than any other province, indeed than all other provinces combined, and we are doing it unilaterally. We are getting the job done.
I want to remind members that the federal government, in its last budget, cut its commitment to social housing by 15 per cent. Of course, we feel the pinch of that decision in Ontario. Our response has been to recognize the need and to take action. If our federal counterparts have seen the need, they have done so through a glass darkly.
I spoke earlier of the rapid pace of change in my riding and of the extensive number of families with school-age children who are becoming part of our community. That growth is located where schools do not exist, and the pressure on existing facilities is enormous. I am not alone in saying thank you to the Treasurer for making a renewed $300-million school capital commitment in this budget. There has probably never been a time nor a place where there has been such a continuing commitment to providing educational facilities as this government has shown.
This announcement takes to $1.5 billion the capital contribution of the province to school boards that has been announced since the 1988 budget. Since 1985 the province’s commitments to school boards in Halton will mean that $ 102 million worth of capital projects have or will come to the fore. With this new budget commitment, we in Halton expect consideration for our fair share of additional capital to meet our growing demands in the next phase of capital allocations.
We are also aware of the commitment to child care that is desperately needed because of our changing demographics. In 1960, 31 per cent of women were in the workforce. Today, in my constituency 60 per cent of women work outside of their homes. Usually the 25- to 34-year-old age group is regarded as a period of temporary retirement because of child-bearing and child-rearing. In reality, in today’s world this age group has a participation rate in the labour force of 75 to 80 per cent, and that is expected to rise to 90 per cent in a very short period of time.
The government has recognized the need for the funding of child care in a very real way. In 1984, child care was funded in Ontario at a level of $88 million. This year, we will spend close to $400 million and, of that, close to $300 million is 100 per cent provincial funding. Child care facilities will be included in our new schools, and this budget includes a $10-million allocation for the operation of those centres. Those dollars are flowing despite a fiscal restraint at the federal level that not only fails to keep pace with inflation but also means that new or expanded Ontario child care would not be supported under the Canada assistance plan.
I want to echo the words of the honourable Minister of Community and Social Services, who recently sent a strongly worded letter to the Minister of National Health and Welfare, the Honourable Perrin Beatty. He said: “The effects of hunger and poverty are the same to everyone, regardless of whether one lives in Ontario or Newfoundland. The broken agreement” -- relating to the Canada assistance plan -- ”is one that has served as a basis for the development of the country’s social assistance programs. Partners who share common objectives simply do not arbitrarily and unilaterally break agreements.”
Ontario is now supporting the British Columbia court challenge against the federal government’s unilateral and unexpected actions. It is clear that we see child care as a priority. We are making strides in providing new spaces and in providing fee subsidies. To again quote the Minister of Community and Social Services from his announcement of today, “Ontario’s commitment is firm and constant.”
For a couple of minutes I would like to turn to some of the economic areas of the budget. I have indicated that growth pressures factor strongly in my constituency, and one of our clear concerns relates to waste management problems that accompany growth. In growth times, it is frequently more difficult to have compatible economic and physical development that melds with environmental concerns, and that is a matter of great importance in my riding.
In Halton and in Halton Centre we have gone through a lengthy, expensive and divisive time to identify a new landfill site location. We have the highest participation rate in the province in the blue box recycling program. Our regional council is exploring further expansions to that program, and people are eager to participate. We have a community commitment.
In the long run, a fully integrated waste management system will include the 4Rs: recycle, reduce, reuse and recover. It will require that there be public and private involvement both in participation and in paying the costs. I see as a particularly useful initiative the 60 per cent funding increase in waste management programs that is included in this budget.
I believe, as we discovered through our acid gas abatement programs, that there is an economic advantage to be had in appropriately designed, integrated waste management systems. The international experience shows that energy recovery must play a significant part in those, and in doing so contributes, through the life cycle, to economic benefit and to environmental support. I believe we must maximize the use of the full complement of technological advances and state-of-the-art integrated system development that is available, not only here but elsewhere.
There is no reason to suspect that we cannot create entire new industries or expand existing ones in support of our waste management priorities, but as well, we must produce less garbage. By making waste producers responsible for the cost of dealing with that waste -- along with a substantial increase in the public funding component -- the budget provides a welcome stick. The carrot is a more effective use of products and materials, which reduces costs and has positive environmental impacts because there is less waste to deal with. That is a sound approach that is presented in the budget and it is in tune with the times.
The funding in waste management areas that is included in this budget underscores the commitment of the government to the environment. Just a year ago, the Minister of the Environment announced our waste abatement targets: to cut in half the amount of garbage going to landfills and incinerators by the year 2000 and an interim goal of diverting 25 per cent of the waste stream to reuse, recycling, reduction and recovery by 1992.
Just last February the minister announced that the private sector, through Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc, would commit $45 million for new recycling initiatives. OMMRI includes six industry associations, and its financial contributions are key in efforts to expand and create new recycling programs, to find and develop new markets for recycled products and to upgrade or add recycling facilities. That public sector-private sector partnership, with the producers of the waste joining in the efforts to change the course of the waste stream and paying to do so, is a signal of good corporate citizenship and enlightened government policy.
That forward-looking approach is also being taken with the announcement of the new water and sewage corporation. In Halton, our sewage capacity will be reached in the early I 990s, and our mid-Halton plants are already operating at capacity. We also need new water facilities and we cannot do it alone. The water and sewage corporation, I believe, is a singular step in ensuring that we have the capability of providing new and rehabilitated facilities. Like Ontario Hydro, the agency would be empowered to borrow with a provincial guarantee to finance new and expanded facilities. Municipalities would be able, at their wish, to contract with the corporation to accelerate their water and sewage infrastructure construction.
I noted at the back of the budget one short line -- I think it was on page 66 -- that described that the capital cost of providing drinking water and sewage services to a typical house in a small Ontario community ranges from $27,000 to $40,000. The costs are high, but this approach is practical and will have a far-reaching impact. We must guarantee a clean, safe supply of water. This initiative will help to do that.
Another recognition in the budget of the fragility of our environmental tolerance is a continuation and enhancement of the land stewardship program for the next four years. I have said that agriculture is a diminishing part of our economic mix in Halton, but it is still very much a force. The working farmers in my community tell me that the land stewardship program is one of the most popular programs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the active involvement of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association has provided significant benefits in the delivery of the program. It is a wide-ranging effort to reduce soil erosion and soil compaction, to restore organic matter to the soil and to minimize the potential for environmental contamination as a result of agricultural practices.
Conservation farming techniques are very much a part of the business of agriculture in Halton, and our land stewardship program takeup was high. I join with my farm constituents in celebrating a renewal of the program and expect that our agricultural community will make maximum use once again of the opportunity to be part of it.
Trucking is also an important industry in my riding and a major cog in the distribution of products, not only from my riding but from elsewhere. Across the province, the industry is also a key player in our competitive footing, particularly as just-in-time delivery becomes the operational mode in industry. Ontario originates 14 billion interprovincial truck shipments each year; 70 per cent of the total freight, 90 per cent of the food consumed and 85 per cent of our consumer goods are moved by trucks in this province. Trucks carry 70 per cent of Ontario’s exports to the United States and 75 per cent of our imports from the United States.
Our trucking industry has not been treated with equity vis-à-vis American-owned competitors because of the tax treatment under the different corporate tax regimes. The industry also faces adjustments because of deregulation and corporate choices that have been made as a result of the free trade agreement.
The Treasurer’s action in applying a provincial corporate income tax to all foreign trucking firms that pick up and deliver freight in Ontario will have a significant effect on our Ontario-based industry. I am told that this kind of level playing field in the corporate income tax area, along with the Treasurer’s initiative in requesting the federal government to renegotiate the Canada-US tax treaty, will assist in keeping the industry healthy and viable.
There are other measures in this budget that will also build on Ontario’s competitive strengths. Ontario’s businesses are now making investment decisions while facing pressures from the implementation of the free trade agreement and from the increased globalization of our markets.
The enhancement of the Ontario current cost adjustment, by doubling it from 15 per cent to 30 per cent, will encourage investment in manufacturing and processing equipment, including pollution control equipment, by reducing costs. The stimulation of new manufacturing investment is a key factor in ensuring the continuation of our competitive position. For industry in my area, this is a thoughtful and positive incentive.
This budget will go a long way to ensure that all of our assets in Ontario are maximized. I believe a budget is not a document that is put together in isolation. Before it is drafted, expertise and an analysis are solicited from a broad range of groups and organizations representing a wide spectrum of our Ontario community. The Treasurer has opened up the budget process by requesting the involvement of the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, and that committee heard some 31 oral presentations before it made its report available to the Treasurer. Some 78 groups submitted budget briefs or met with the Treasurer and his staff as the budget was being prepared. I know that the internal analysis of the Treasurer and his officials is comprehensive, intensive and demanding.
It has been five years since this government took office. In the course of that we have seen the preparation and delivery of significant social policy changes, major environmental protection initiatives, the preparation of our industrial sector for the next period of international competitiveness. We have seen massive new commitments in education, health care and social services. We have seen that in a context of steadily reducing deficits, two balanced budgets in a row and a substantial reduction in our total debt. There is no question that we have seen leadership, and there is no question as well that I will be supporting this budget when it is placed before the House at the end of the session.
Mr Kormos: Brief ones. There was absolutely no mention by the last speaker of the relief that is being given to the auto insurance industry here in the province of Ontario by virtue of Bill 68. When members look at the elimination of the premium tax, there is $95 million that is going to be scooped from taxpayers’ pockets that the auto insurance industry should be liable for, but oh no, this government with its largess would rather have that money come from taxpayers than from a wealthy, powerful corporate industry. That is number one.
Number two: Most shocking, there was no mention whatsoever of the second bit of fine gouging that these Liberals have done with respect to Bill 68 and their regressive, reactionary, intolerable fiscal policies, and that is of course that they have relieved their good friends, the auto insurance industry, of responsibility for the some $46 million worth of health care costs that OHIP is going to have to absorb. It is incredible that the Liberals, when they talk in their fluffy tones about this non-budget, would not mention those disastrous consequences of Bill 68.
Mr Speaker, the debate about the time allocation motion that the Liberals are trying to impose in the debate about Bill 68 is not over. It has gone on for 23 hours and 24 minutes now, and once these comments on the budget are over with, I still have the floor and we are going to finish the debate that we started back on 3 April about time allocation and about Bill 68. That is a promise. That is a promise that can be kept. That is a promise that will be kept. So to those good folks who have been watching, wondering what is going on, just stay tuned.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Mr Speaker, perhaps you could advise us at some point whether or not questions and comments are permitted on a budget, comments by any member, but if they are I will take the time to talk about this little squib of a man over here who tells us total garbage and trash and talks about an unrelated bill. This man is so disgusting in the way he puts forward what he says is true and I find it so repulsive to even be standing in the same House with him, that it is difficult to be here.
First of all, he talks about tax giveaways. This man has no proof to back it up. He has to put evidence before us. He has no truth, no accuracy, no evidence, nothing whatsoever to back up what he says. In fact, this man has no agenda at all. His mind has gone amok. We do not hear anything now but yelling and screaming from this man. He is beyond control. His caucus cannot control him, his leader cannot control him and he is getting pathetic, beyond pathetic. It is getting embarrassing for the citizens of Ontario, never mind all of us in the Legislature here.
I say to you, Mr Speaker, that I am not sure how you can tolerate sitting there hearing all these conceptions of reality that seem to have been piped in from some nether world above and beyond the ozone. I am just not sure where they came from. I am just not sure what he is telling us, but we never have the opportunity to say, “Give us your facts.” He will give opinions and phone calls and letters, but he does not have facts, he does not have an agenda and the whole party is falling apart because it does not have an agenda. They do not know where they want to go on this issue, as always.
The Acting Speaker: I do not know. We were having such a nice, pleasant Thursday afternoon. What happened? The honourable member for York Mills had indicated about clarification on questions and comments. As the table has so wisely advised me, the first speakers on the rotation will not have questions and comments on their deliberations. However, in rotation, the Treasurer had brought forward the budget. There were no questions and comments, but of course we were in discussion with the honourable member for Halton Centre on her opening remarks to the budget and that is why we are just participating now.
I can only advise the honourable member for Welland-Thorold that it has been with a great deal of interest that we have been listening to his concern from time to time, but I want to advise him that continued repetition, so that other members cannot be heard, will not be tolerated. I know the honourable member would not want me to name him and ask him to leave the chamber, would he?
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I had attempted to indicate earlier -- I had read somewhere, and I rose on a point of order when the member who just spoke did, that I was hoping the Speaker would rule him out of order on the grounds of being boring, but since then I have been advised that being boring does not constitute a violation of the rules of order so I withdraw that point of order.
Mrs Sullivan: Yes, just in response to the diatribe from the member for Welland-Thorold, I think the member should recognize that Ontario is in a singular position in North America. We have a highly trained labour force. We have a competitive corporate tax structure, corporate labour rates that compare favourably with other jurisdictions. We have been placing additional capital and additional incentives into research and development in association with our universities. We have been placing incentives to increase energy efficiency to affect the bottom line. We have been moving very clearly to take our industries and our businesses in all sectors into the next phase of development in a highly competitive global international market.
I think it is very clear that this gentleman does not understand the facts of life relating to the business world, nor how the business world must adjust and is being taken into that adjustment period over the next period of time.
Mr Philip: Since coming to power in 1985, revenues from personal income tax under this Liberal government have risen 100 per cent, while at the same time the people in this province have had their incomes rise only 50 per cent. Now what we have is a budget that says they are balancing the budget and are not raising taxes except for those who want to puff and smoke. But yet if we look at this budget, it has done nothing for housing and the word “housing” is not even mentioned in the budget.
Those responsible for health care in our hospitals say that it will not solve their problems, our problems, in the health care field. It does nothing to remove the tax discrimination against those living in the greater Metropolitan Toronto area. We had expected that there might be an attempt by this government, at least before an election, to lower the sales tax, since this was the government that raised the sales tax in the first place at a cost of $400 more per family per year, but there was no mention of that.
It is a misleading budget. To talk about balancing the budget, when at the same time this government is more and more divesting itself of provincial responsibilities and passing them on to municipalities so that they have to pick up the costs and pass them on to the home owners and to the tenants through their property tax, is completely dishonest.
It is a misleading budget when we see that it is going to raise at least $100 million in user fees by the middle of the decade from seniors who need services in order to remain in their own homes. This budget moves services from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Community and Social Services and it can only be seen for one purpose, to allow user fees, because user fees would be unacceptable to the people of Ontario if introduced by the Ministry of Health.
If one looks at this budget, too, one has to say, “How realistic is this budget?” It is based on the following assumptions. It is based on a projection of falling interest rates. That is a view that is not held by all economists who are looking at the province of Ontario or indeed at North America. It is based on a projection of falling oil prices and other energy prices, and that again is not a position that is generally taken by economists looking at what is happening in the industry. It is based on a projection of a decline in inflation to below five per cent, something else which is not accepted by a good many economists.
What we see is a government that has accepted that there will be a 10 per cent increase in unemployment, and yet it has no plans on how to cope with that, and indeed we see $11 million going to worker training, in comparison to $140 million given as giveaways to its corporate friends.
If you look at the budget then, I guess it is a budget that has to have on it the label of, “Don’t worry, there’ll be an election and six months down the road we can change our plans.” The latest budget tabled by the Peterson Liberal government appears to be little more than another attempt by the majority government to buy votes at the expense of those of us who live in the greater Toronto area. It does nothing to remove the millions of dollars of extra taxes imposed on Metro-area residents but not on others living in other parts of this province.
I have talked at some length in this House, and indeed introduced petitions, about the corporate concentration tax of greater Toronto imposed by the Liberal government, the first government in all the history of this province or indeed of Canada that has said that if you live in a particular geographical area or if you operate a business in a particular geographical area, we, as the central government, are going to charge you higher taxes than if you happen to live or operate your business in another area.
So we have carried into this year’s budget from last year’s budget what some of their own ministers in private conversations admit are unfair measures. We know that the hotels have stopped all capital construction in the greater Toronto area. There is not one hotel in my riding, and there are dozens of hotels in the airport strip, that has not cancelled its plans for future construction, that is not planning layoffs, that does not see a major reduction in conventions as a result of the increase of some $4 to $6 per night per room caused by this Liberal government.
I have introduced petitions that deal with other obvious inequities against the people of Metropolitan Toronto. The people resent the fact that they are paying higher for their licence plates than the person in St Catharines. They see that as basically unfair. On top of that, while this government now in this budget offers an increase of 11.3 per cent in transfer payments to Ontario municipalities to pay for social programs and other programs, Metro will only get an increase of 4.8 per cent. This is at a time when inflation is running at 6.3 per cent.
It is clear that the Premier and the Treasurer do not like us in Metropolitan Toronto, or they feel that they can take us for granted. What is so sad is that the Liberal Metro members have said absolutely nothing about the economic apartheid of Ontario, of being discriminated against, not because you have a higher income, not because your business is showing profits, but because you happen to operate your business or you live in the greater Toronto area.
The Liberal government’s latest budget, while they talk about a balanced budget, means higher property taxes for people in both Metro Toronto and in other areas. For the home owner, we see that the unconditional grants have increased by only 4.8 per cent in two years, frozen last year as they were, and taking into account the growth of population and inflation, unconditional grants have declined by 10 per cent in real dollars over the last two years.
Road grants were frozen in 1988-89, so the increase over two years is 10.9 per cent, while inflation will increase in the same period by 11.5 per cent. Thus, in terms of real dollars, in terms of inflation, the road grants are still falling behind inflation.
Other transfers for environment, health and social services are above inflation, but these programs are being paid for in part by the municipal tax base, anywhere from 20 to 50 per cent, so local governments are forced to increase their regressive property taxes in order to pay for these provincial initiatives.
What the province should be announcing is new transfers to the municipalities, which cover 100 per cent of the expenditures involved in the programs which they are initiating. Instead, what we are faced with by this budget and by previous Liberal budgets are unfair municipal tax bills affecting both home owners and tenants. This will give more rise to inflation because of other recent provincially mandated programs such as the employer health levy, pay equity and the transferring of financial responsibilities, such as the court security, to the lower levels of government.
The Treasurer has done nothing to alleviate this increase in the financial burden on municipal governments and their property tax payers. So while this government likes to play a shell game of saying that it has a balanced budget and that it is not increasing taxes, it in fact is increasing taxes, it is just increasing them at the municipal level rather than provincially.
I guess the most astonishing thing about this budget is this government’s failure to respond to the need for housing. The government fails in this budget to even use the word “housing” once. It fails to announce any new housing programs.
Maybe the government thinks that it has solved the housing problems in Ontario, but in fact statistics reveal otherwise. Over 200,000 households are caught in the cycle of homelessness; over 41,000 households, representing at least 71,000 people, are on the waiting list for assisted housing in this province; an apartment vacancy rate for Ontario of 0.8 per cent, or eight apartments for rent for every 1,000; a vacancy rate in my area of Metropolitan Toronto of 0.3 per cent. One third of Ontario tenant households pay over 30 per cent of their income for rent, and this will likely increase as more tenants are hit with large rent hikes because of the Liberal government’s rent review system and because of property taxes increasing, thanks to this Liberal government’s budget. From 1985 to 1989 the average house price increased in Ontario by 114 per cent, from $86,000 to $184,000, making home ownership beyond the reach of many families, and yet this government has no new initiatives to help people presently renting to get into home ownership. For 1990 there will be less than 5,000 new non-profit and co-op housing allocations from the federal and provincial programs.
The province has not announced a new housing supply program since the spring of 1988. The allocations of 30,000 units from the Homes Now program for 1988 are all used up and the Treasurer ignored the recommendation of our Legislature’s own standing committee on finance and economic affairs to introduce a follow-up program to the Homes Now program. There is still no introduction of a property speculation tax, which our party has called for for years and which is in fact imposed in many countries as a way of stopping speculation in an essential commodity. The government should again become active in land banking as part of a long-term approach to the provision of affordable housing, but it fails to do so. In the first four fiscal years of Liberal rule, the Ministry of Housing budget was unspent by $135 million. One has to ask, how can anyone take this government seriously when it talks about housing?
Then, of course, we have the serious problem of the rooming house problems, unsafe conditions and just deplorable living conditions, which this government is not dealing with. It was the topic of not only public outcry in this House but also of a study by the standing committee on public accounts.
When we look at the environment, we still see that this is basically an ungreen province. There are no green taxes, even though so many groups recommended this. There should be a tax on excess, non-recyclable, non-returnable packaging as a way of dissuading industry from using environmentally unfriendly products. There are no incentives for companies that are moving towards environmentally friendly products.
There is no change in emphasis regarding the solving of the garbage crisis. It is still landfill and incineration, which the Minister of the Environment in 1985 said was a completely objectionable solution to the garbage problem. Basically we are talking about recycling all the way, whether or not there is a market for it or a strategy to deal with the recycled products once those products are collected for recycling.
There is no mention of sorely needed increased dollars for an environmental contingency fund to clean up abandoned and toxic waste sites such as the Smithville PCB site or of a superfund funded by taxes on companies which manufacture toxic chemicals. Where is the Minister of the Environment who said the polluter must pay? Where is he in this budget?
There is no announcement of badly needed increased funding for the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement program or the clean air program. The former is certainly badly behind schedule and the latter barely off the ground and there is terrible staff overwork and burn out in spite of the various grand pronouncements and announcements over and over again by the Minister of the Environment.
The sewer and waste crown corporation is really a terrifying move that is being certainly criticized by the environmentalists and people who are concerned about our environment. In spite of the Treasurer’s protestations to the contrary, a government’s own source quoted in the Toronto Star on 23 April calls this proposal “the biggest setback for the environment that Ontario has seen in five years.” It is the biggest Liberal envirodisaster yet -- macro, as my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside called it.
There is no reason why a pro-development ministry like the Ministry of Municipal Affairs should have the responsibility for this crown corporation. Why was the Ministry of the Environment good enough for the Liberals in the 1987 election campaign when the sewer infrastructure renewal program, LifeLines, was announced. It is not good enough now. I guess it has to be the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the developers who are going to make what are environmental decisions.
On waste management, there is no indication of how the government will achieve the Minister of the Environment’s goal of 25 per cent diversion of garbage from disposal by 1992 or 50 per cent by the year 2000. The money will go largely to recycling, and the word “incineration” recurs over and over again in the last few weeks, a word which the minister could hardly use without spitting in 1985. So we are back again as the 4Rs instead of the 3Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and incinerate.
If we look at the situation of the poor, we see that this government also has not responded. Effective 1 January 1991, there will be a five per cent increase in the basic benefits of the shelter allowance ceilings, but this budget will make no difference to the people who use food banks and indeed the minister has announced the cancelling of the food bank subsidies. In my riding, the food bank is closing because this government refuses to fund it any further.
Indeed, by setting the 1 January 1991 increase rate now, before the impact of the 1990 inflation and the federal goods and services tax are realized, the poor may well be worse off in 1991 than they are now. The government’s own predictions put inflation at 4.9 per cent with the GST adding 3.2 per cent, which gives a total of 8.1 per cent. Thus the poor will be worse off by the government’s own projections.
Between January 1989 and January 1990, there has been a 6.2 per cent increase in the number of social assistance cases, particularly in the family benefits category. Rising numbers of persons depending on social assistance will account for increases in the overall budget in 1990.
Without an increase in the minimum wage, which this government is refusing to put in place, and without an increase in the amount of affordable housing, very large numbers of the poor now relying on food banks will continue to be in a desperate situation. With only small increases in training budgets for displacement of workers, the workers who are going to be displaced by the government’s own admission of an increase in unemployment are similarly going to be affected, and those on social assistance will be in a worse situation than they are now. There is no increase for the single unemployed and disabled persons who are not assisted by the 1989 children’s benefit increase, so the unemployed and the disabled are similarly in worse shape as a result of this budget than they were before.
What we have is a budget that lacks any kind of vision. It boasts about balancing a budget, but it balances at the cost of the poor, the home owners, the property taxpayers and the municipalities. It is not a pre-recession budget, even though the government’s own figures are indicating that we are on the verge of a recession, and indeed figures by a number of economists would suggest that. It is not designed to deal with the real economic challenges of this province. It does not really ask the question, what is the amount of the revenue that we need and what are the sources from which we can obtain that revenue without hurting more and more middle-income earners and poor people?
In that sense, I think the headlines, the editorials and the comments by the various groups during the last couple of days have been very significant. The Treasurer had hoped that this would be an election budget, that it would make everybody sigh with relief that a government that has increased taxes so dramatically during good times was now going to ease up during bad times. But the taxpayers, the people of this province, will see through this. It is a shell game. They are merely passing on the cost to municipalities, to user fees and to other ways of robbing our pockets.
We have a government that only in the last few months has managed to transfer from the pockets of ordinary citizens, from our pockets, close to $1 billion to the pockets of the insurance companies. We have now a government that introduces a budget that transfers taxes from the pockets of the provincial taxpayer to the pockets of the municipal taxpayer. The only problem is it is the same citizen who is paying the bill, it is the same citizen who is being robbed, it is the same middle-income earner who is being attacked by this government.
I think the people of Ontario will understand what this government is doing to them. I think they will understand exactly what is happening. I would be happy to have an election called on this budget. I think I can sell the fact that a majority Liberal government budget is a high-tax budget, a budget that taxes the middle-income earners, that lets off the large corporate and rich friends of the Liberal government. It is not a budget that they can successfully sell to the public of Ontario, and I invite them to try to do so.
Mr Matrundola: It gives me great pleasure to rise on this wonderful warm afternoon, this spring day, and speak about the government’s budget. Like the spring day outside, it is a wonderful, warm budget: wonderful that for the second consecutive year the people of Ontario have a balanced budget and warm for the compassion our great Treasurer has shown for the people of Ontario.
I am very proud and pleased to be able to rise in this House today and address the Ontario budget presented in this same House only two days ago. I am proud because I am reminded daily of the honour I have serving the people of my riding of Willowdale. I am pleased because I have an opportunity, given to me by the residents of Willowdale, to assist in the process we have in this great province of Ontario and indeed in this great country, Canada, a process of representative government, one which gives them a better, fairer life. I am particularly proud and pleased because I believe the residents of Willowdale will see the budget and realize how well served they are by the provisions given in it for all Ontarians.
This budget shows a sense of responsibility, that our government is responsible and has a sense of direction. Yes, while in the last two budgets there were significant measures to ensure fiscal responsibility, the money was not wasted. It has been spent wisely and usefully, and not only is this the second year that we have a balanced budget, we also have a surplus. We have shaved off $430 million from the huge, $38.8-billion deficit that was so greatly accumulated by our predecessors.
We have regained the sense of direction and responsibility, and the people of Ontario know that. When governments lose their sense of direction and responsibility, it is dreadful. That is why they fall. Indeed, do members know why the Roman Empire fell? It fell because the people, the people in the government, the ones who were actually running it, had lost their sense of direction and responsibility. The public sees that, and on Judgement Day they will act accordingly.
This budget is about challenge, and the Concise Oxford Dictionary has one definition of “challenge” as “calling to respond.” Certainly, the residents of Willowdale have seen the times we are in, the difficulties we are all facing and called upon this government to respond. It is a challenge to give to the people of this great province the services they are entitled to without unfairly taxing them to do it. This government has met that challenge.
Ontarians always have wanted and always have deserved a healthy economy, and the best sign of a truly healthy economy is a balanced budget. Yet this is something which was denied to the people of Ontario until this government took office. Perhaps it was too much of a challenge. Now, not only is our current spending balanced, but this province is in an excellent position to meet the future challenges we will face.
Another challenge, the reduction of our provincial debt, has been met for the first time in 43 years. This is a sign to investors that our province is stronger now than ever before. Perhaps best of all, this balancing act, which was apparently quite a challenge because previous governments were unable to do it, has been done without any general tax increase; not only no tax increase, but the 1990 budget includes tax reductions for the truly needful low-income earners.
As everyone knows, we have entered a new decade. People are just not happy with the status quo any more. The challenge of the 1990s is to accommodate our population in an intelligent, fiscally responsible manner. Our government has met that challenge.
For one thing, our population is an ageing population. This is something which is very close to me. I had the pleasure to present a resolution in this House on 18 May 1989. My resolution sought to “establish a framework to allow for the relatives of frail elderly, chronically ill and disabled persons to care for them at home, where mutually agreeable and medically possible, by compensating the care giver at the same rate as qualified homemakers.” Unfortunately, at that time it was not possible to get a broad enough consensus to pass the resolution.
However, even though my resolution has not been fully accommodated even now, this budget shows that our government is sensible and responsible enough to respond to the needs of the people and is, at least in part, addressing home care. More work is needed on this subject and I will keep working until the ultimate goal is achieved.
Our Treasurer has introduced what is, in his own words, “one of the most significant improvements to health and social services since the introduction of medicare.” The challenge here is to adequately care for ourselves as we grow older and are less and less able to do so. This government has committed $52 million in funding over the next year to benefit elderly and disabled persons. This funding will be directed towards reforming the current system, jointly by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Health. Perhaps best of all, the strategy is a reform towards community-based services.
I am sure the citizens of Willowdale, and indeed of the whole province, are gratified to see that this government is showing it has a strong commitment to care for both our elderly and our disabled by working to establish new community-based, in-home services or placement in a residential care facility. This means less need for institutions, already overburdened, and more use of the expertise available in our own communities.
As I said in the House before, it is often far better to be cared for in a familiar environment by someone that you know and trust, and at the same time that allows people to live in their own environment, with the care and dignity they deserve. Immediate relief is being provided for the wages of visiting care givers, to help improve the consistency and quality of services; $11 million is targeted towards these people who help our elderly receive necessary care without having to be put into institutions. I know all the people across the province will recognize the importance of home care givers and their contribution to our ageing population.
Another specific challenge facing this government, as it has other governments, is how to fairly raise adequate revenues, but to raise them from sources most able to pay. For sources least able to pay, relief is necessary.
The Ontario government is providing tax relief for low-income working families who have children or dependants with disabilities. This measure is designed to encourage these workers to remain in the workplace.
Families with dependant children 18 years or younger will be able to claim a $200 supplement. The same amount of supplement will be provided for dependants with disabilities, regardless of age. If there is a child with a disability, the total of these supplements will be $400.
This government is responding to the challenge of creating a fairer system of taxation. I am sure that the residents of Ontario, like the people in my riding, will be glad to see this response to the tax challenge.
Yet another challenge is the ageing of our city infrastructure. The Ontario government has responded with assistance to municipalities in the form of $175 million in grants and $71 million in loans for the next year.
But that is only the beginning. New and rehabilitated facilities are needed for the increasing demand placed upon our water and sewer systems. For this the government, through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, is setting up a new crown corporation to build and operate the water and sewer facilities. Working along with the municipalities and the private sector, we must ensure a good supply of clean and safe water in Ontario. This new corporation will assume responsibility for those facilities which the Ministry of the Environment is currently looking after.
A city such as North York, in my riding of Willowdale, is a city which needs provincial assistance with its infrastructure responsibilities. I believe these steps by the Ontario government are vital and needed and will be welcome by both municipal officials and residents in my riding as well as by all people across Ontario, and this is another challenge we have met.
Challenges to this province’s budget are never-ending. I do not envy the task of our provincial Treasurer. His commitment to the people is particularly worth noting in this time of federal cutbacks. Despite these ruthless cutbacks, especially in provincial transfer payments, our Treasurer has brought forth his second balanced budget, which actually increases Ontario transfer payments to municipalities without increasing general taxes. An 11.3 per cent increase over last year in payments to cities and towns of Ontario will be especially welcome. These transfer payments will include $90 million in social programs alone, programs which provide assistance for visiting care givers, for example, as I have mentioned.
Included in this $90 million in social assistance are homes for the aged, child welfare, child care and other social services. In all, $164 million will be shared with municipalities across Ontario. The residents of North York in my riding can only benefit from this increase in provincial government commitment. This government is backed by dollars and these dollars show that our government is meeting these challenges head on.
Mr Speaker, as I am sure you know, a great number of the working population in my riding of Willowdale are commuters. Many rely upon both municipal and provincial transit services, including GO Transit. The $400-million commitment from last year and over the next five years for service improvements will be welcome. The challenge here is to provide the most cost-efficient means of public transit. The extension of GO Transit rail service announced in this year’s budget, in addition to the service improvements, is a big step towards the challenge of moving so many people in a very efficient manner.
Of special note, in my riding are the proposed improvements to the Old Cummer station at Finch and Leslie. There are several GO Transit lines which this government is improving, but the one to Richmond Hill, which passes through the riding of Willowdale, is the one that really affects the residents in my riding.
Perhaps I might offer a suggestion here while I am addressing the topic of transportation in this budget. There is a commitment to the Sheppard subway proposal, which may be brought back this fall. The Sheppard subway line is very important and I fully support it. Consideration must be given in this context to taking the already approved extension of the Wilson line north of Sheppard and running a line which could extend up to Steeles Avenue through York University, with a stop at York University for the students so they can use public transit. Then running the same line along Steeles Avenue east to Yonge Street and down to 1oop at the present terminus at Finch at the same time could leave facilities for extending the subway at Yonge and Steeles east on Steeles Avenue.
In this manner, we can service a lot more people. Steeles Avenue is the boundary which separates the Metro region and York region. We will be servicing North York as well as Vaughan and Markham in that manner. We are not disrupting the environment. We are not disrupting any parks, because it could run along Steeles Avenue.
I would ask the people studying this proposal to consider my suggestion, because I believe it makes sense. I lived in Willowdale for 27 years. I have seen the area growing, and I believe I am qualified to make this suggestion.
Our Treasurer has a difficult challenge which he should not have had. It was necessary to provide for the citizens of this province with less money than Ontario had come to expect from federal transfer payments. True, we were told by the Mulroney government that these payments would be reduced; however, it is like telling your brother that you will regularly be giving him some money you have collected for him, then, after a while, when he has gotten used to the payments, you will tell him you are awfully sorry but you will need more of that money for yourself, henceforth giving him less. Wilson’s budget included our payments based upon good faith. Now he has cut it short.
The federal transfer payments to the provinces are a longstanding agreement which was worked out by both parties. They represent a commitment by the federal government to assist the provinces in matters of shared responsibility. Unilateral action where agreement was made by both parties prior is not an accepted way of fostering the Canadian partnership.
I am deeply heartened that our Treasurer is continuing to ensure that Ontario meets its obligations to its citizens. Our Treasurer had this challenge facing him. It was unfortunate, but he faced it squarely. This particular challenge echos my recent statement in this House regarding the need for the federal government to intervene and reduce the high interest rates being set by the Bank of Canada.
The people in my riding speak to me about these rates. These high interest rates strongly hamper their ability to make the progress they are working so hard for. The idea of reducing the inflation rate by raising interest rates is insane, because the net result is the inability of the population to reasonably achieve its goals -- purchasing homes, cars etc -- while the government pursues its impossible dream in Ottawa.
Many people who need to renew their mortgages cannot afford it and they risk losing their houses. It is an investment that they made for life. It is a roof over their heads. It is something that they need and that we all need.
Mr Mulroney, Mr Wilson and Mr Crow want people on the breadline, and we should give them, in turn, some of their own medicine so that they will understand what it is like paying up to 18 per cent, or maybe more now, interest rates with the responsibility, at the same time, of feeding and clothing children.
I want to state in this House my continued commitment to the residents of Willowdale and my support, therefore, of the Ontario Treasurer’s belief that constructive solutions to federal-provincial differences are possible and, may I add, very necessary. If just these two matters, the interest rates and the provincial transfer payments, could be worked out, there would be some breathing room for the people who are struggling to make ends meet -- people like the hard workers who I have the pleasure to represent in Willowdale, the business people and the professional people in my riding. For them, we have good news in the doubling of the incentives for manufacturers.
Surely helping these companies stay in our province and in our country and assisting them to continue to expand is the best thing that we can do to spread the message to investors that our economy is healthy and thriving and our workforce can absorb growth for their investment.
The 1990 Ontario budget tabled in this House this week goes a long way towards easing the pains facing new home owners, borrowers, etc, but this province cannot apply the balm alone. That challenge is facing others. The people of my riding have sought a budget like the provincial one tabled on 24 April. They are still looking for the federal compassion that our provincial Treasurer has shown.
Mr Kormos: The only thing I feel badly about is that the phone lines here at Queen’s Park are going to be shut down. I suppose the contraire of that is true, because at some point the message will get through anyway. So unfortunately those folks who thought they were going to watch the budget debate this afternoon are now watching a resumption of our debate on time allocation.
I brought down some of my material that I was going to talk about when it comes to time allocation. I know some members will want to be on their way. I merely remind the Liberals they are going to need at least 19 to maintain a quorum. Those 19 are going to be here to keep the quorum. They should not make any dinner plans.
What was remarkable just the other day was the commencement of a new contest. The real pressure was the pressure that was put on the Liberals to produce a piece of legislation that was going to satisfy the greed and avarice of the auto insurance industry here in Ontario, an industry that had proven itself some time ago to be less than considerate when it came to the interests or welfare of drivers, innocent injured victims and, sadly, taxpayers as well.
What happened the other day, as you might recall, Mr Speaker, was that we told the people listening -- and they were interested because they were phoning in, using the telephones, using access to this forum to express their significant disapproval of the Liberals, of the tactics of the Liberal Party and of the refusal of the Liberal Party to participate in a debate -- what happened was that people recognized that all we need is 29 members of the Liberal Party to vote against Bill 68 and that would make Bill 68 a bit of history, defeated, as it should be.
What happened across Ontario was that people, many of whom had been long-time Liberal supporters, recognized that the Liberal Party was deserting some traditional values that it had itself. These people became very frustrated, very angry, very disgruntled. in fact, what happened was that we started getting messages from across Ontario, from these very same
Liberals, people like Herman Turkstra in Hamilton, who indicated he had had enough. He was not going to put up in silence with a Liberal Party that has abandoned its ideals, has abandoned what Mr Turkstra as a Liberal member in Hamilton saw as a commitment to the community, a commitment to the province. What happened is that people like Mr Turkstra have begun expressing their strong disapproval, their condemnation of their own party. That is a painful process, as members can well imagine.
Mr Kormos: What has happened is that Liberals across Ontario have become thoroughly disenchanted with this government, with their own party. Things like this: What I have here is a cut-up Liberal membership card from an ex-Liberal in Barrie. Here is a Liberal who was not just a Liberal supporter, but a Liberal who was a member of the Liberal Party of Ontario. He was so thoroughly disgusted and disenchanted with his own party that he cuts up his membership card as a symbol of his disdain, not just for his government but for his own party, a party for which he had worked, a party to which he had made contributions, not just financial contributions but a party and candidates for whom he tramped the streets, a party for which he took great pains on an annual and monthly basis to campaign for its candidates.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. It has been brought to my attention that under the standing orders we have not had the opportunity of allowing the honourable member for Welland-Thorold to continue. Now it is with a great deal of hesitation that I bring to the attention of the honourable leader of the official opposition that the Chair had clearly heard that he indicated to the government House leader that he had lied. Of course, under our standing orders, I know that the honourable Leader of the Opposition would reconsider, and I would ask him to withdraw.
The Acting Speaker: I would like only to comment to the honourable member for Hamilton East, for whom I have had nothing but a great deal of respect -- I can think of times in this chair when the honourable member had displayed a certain Santa Claus outfit -- would he not consider retracting his statement?
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I am going to tell you what this ex-Liberal from Barrie had to say in his letter, a letter dated 23 April 1990. What happened is, he sent it down by Purolator -- not Purolator, a quasi-Purolator; he sent it down by Vita Express. It is a 24-hour emergency courier service operating out of Lisle, and I have got to confess I have never been to Lisle in my life.
Do you know what, Mr Speaker? Some day I am going to go to Lisle, Ontario, because I bet you the people in Lisle, Ontario, know that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong. I bet you the people in Lisle, Ontario, know that you do not sell out the people of Ontario for the interests of wealthy, profitable automobile insurance companies and their profits.
It is funny, in the sense of being peculiar, because when I talk about this cut-up Liberal membership card that I got by Purolator -- we received it on the morning of the 24th -- the minute I mention that, of course, I get a whole lot of squealing from the Liberal benches. Listen, Mr Speaker. Do you hear the squealing and the raucous moaning and groaning from the Liberals? This is exactly what we have been talking about for a whole chunk of time, and I can say this: I guess I should take some solace, some comfort in that, because what it means is that we are getting close to a nerve. We are touching a nerve.
Let me tell members what this gentleman from Barrie had to say in his letter to me. He writes, “Dear Mr Kormos, I called your office last week and explained my views on Bill 68 to your secretary, and in return you voiced my concerns in Parliament.” In some ways what is to follow in this letter may seem like a repeat of thousands of other Ontarians’ concerns. But obviously the Liberal members across Ontario and the Liberal members sitting here in this Legislature cannot understand when something is said but once.
This gentleman writes that he has supported the Liberal Party since he was 16 years old and was a member both provincially and federally. He says he is a proud Canadian, a very proud Canadian, albeit trying of late to maintain this particular frame of mind.
He writes that he is a working man. He works hard in a factory in Barrie manufacturing industrial filter cloth, to earn a salary of just over $30,000, and his wife is a bank teller and she earns a moderate income. “I was not complaining,” he says. He says he is by no means complaining. He is proud of what he does and he is happy with his financial situation.
He writes, “But, sir, I am also 20 years old and my wife and I are just beginning a new life together.” He writes that they are responsible, mature young adults. There is nothing whatsoever that would permit anybody to say otherwise. He writes they pay their bills; they drive responsibly; they have clean driving records. They also pay their insurance company on time and in full.
You know people like this, do you not, Mr Speaker? You know people like this all over Ontario. You know people like this from big cities, small towns, rural areas. These are the sort of people who you know well.
This gentleman would like to ask the Liberal Party if it realizes that for a 20-year-old couple to insure two family cars -- and he writes his is a Pontiac 6000 -- the insurance premium is just over $3,000 for a one-year period. Under this new -- and he does not call it Bill 68, he calls it “scam 68.” Scam 68 is what this gentleman calls the insurance legislation, and rightly so. Scam legislation, because it is a scam.
What would you rather I called it, Mr Speaker, than what it is? You would not want me to distort the truth, would you, Mr Speaker? You would not want me to be less than honest. I know you would not want me to be less than honest. I know you would not want me to not call it the way I see it.
I tell you, Mr Speaker, he is not alone when he calls it a scam. He is not at all alone, because there are hundreds -- and not just hundreds, there are thousands; and not just thousands, there are tens of thousands and, I tell you, hundreds of thousands of people across the province of Ontario who agree with this gentleman from Barrie. You see, what they have been asking for is an opportunity to see the issue fully debated. They have been asking for an opportunity to see the Liberals defend the position that they have taken on Bill 68 and on auto insurance in general. They are asking for an opportunity to hear their concerns, people who share their fears. I mean, they are asking for this issue to be debated.
My friend sitting beside me, the member for Hamilton Mountain, can read the writing on the wall. He knows that if this legislation is passed, innocent injured victims across Ontario are going to suffer. He knows that.
Now, the gentleman from Barrie writes about him and his wife, 20 years old, a Pontiac 6000, an insurance premium of just over $3,000. Is that affordable insurance? Is that a reasonable premium? Is that fair? Is it fair by anybody’s stretch of anybody’s imagination? Of course not. We know that. We know that is not fair, and so do the members.
The sad thing is that the Liberals here in Ontario would sell out this gentleman from Barrie so that the insurance companies could make bigger and bigger profits. That is why this gentleman from Barrie, who was a long-time Liberal member -- he has a Liberal membership card that is cut up into tiny little pieces because, like so many thousands of other people here in the province, the Liberal Party does not reflect his views. It reflects the views of the insurance industry, because the auto insurance industry wants this legislation really badly. It has for a long time. The auto insurance industry wants this legislation so badly because, heck, the legislation that it asked for was not anywhere near as draconian as the bill that is confronting drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims now.
You know what else, Mr Speaker? This is not the only Liberal membership card in Ontario that has been cut up in the last couple of days. I know we have received phone calls that others have, and not just tens and tens and tens, but beyond tens in score, and I tell you there are hundreds of Liberals and Liberal supporters, activists, across this province who will not see themselves as activists any more.
I told you, Mr Speaker, that this gentleman from Barrie sees himself as a working man. He says he is 20 years old, that he and his wife are just beginning their lives, their adult lives, their productive lives, their lives of contribution to the community, and he talks about premiums in excess of $3,000 in one year alone. This gentleman knows, because the Minister of Financial Institutions told him, that premium increases are going to be as high as 50 per cent.
Mr Kormos: I was talking about this young man from Barrie who knows that he, like virtually every other driver in the province, could face premium increases of as high as 50 per cent if Bill 68 is permitted to pass. He knows that almost a third of a million people here in the province of Ontario could face premium increases of up to 80 per cent. Those are the people who are going to be forced into Facility Association. Those are the people who are going to be denied regular insurance coverage, not because they are bad drivers but because regular insurance companies simply will not cover them. It is as simple as that.
This gentleman writes that he is fearful of the premium increases that he is going to face if these Liberals are permitted to pass Bill 68. He knows that he could -- and he is not certain, because there is no certainty about any of us -- face premium increases of a sufficient size that he would be having to pay some $4,500 a year, and that is if you use the 50 per cent factor. If he is one of those people who is forced into Facility, he is talking about even more. He is talking about premium increases of in excess of $5,000 a year.
The Acting Speaker: I am advised that a quorum is present. Actually, I am trying to think. Under the standing orders, there is nothing to prevent members from requesting quorums, is there? Not that I am aware of, so in theory, anyone can ask any time if a quorum is present.
Mr Kormos: The author of this letter says, “Now, if my fellow Liberals” -- he corrects that; he says, “If my once fellow Liberals.” Just do not forget, Mr Speaker, we are talking about a gentleman here who, although a long-time member of the Liberal Party, sent in his Liberal membership card shredded to pieces as an expression of disdain for people like the member for Dovercourt.
This gentleman from Barrie has nothing but disdain for the member for Dovercourt, because he knows that the member for Dovercourt does not represent the people of his riding. He knows that the member for Dovercourt is but a member of a caucus that -- you see, people out on the street call people like him Liberal hacks, guys and gals who let their strings be pulled; who cannot think for themselves; who could not, if their lives depended on it, come up with an original thought; who are just pathetic little people, the smallest of people in the eyes of this gentleman from Barrie.
People like this gentleman from Barrie call the member for Dovercourt a zero. If you are mentioning this member for Dovercourt to people from Barrie, they say, “Which one is that?” They would say, “Which zero is that?” Because, you see, there are so many zeros sitting in this Liberal caucus. What is a zero, Mr Speaker? A zero is a person who is afraid to represent his or her constituents. A zero is a person who is a hack. A zero is a person who would sell out the people, the drivers, the taxpayers, the innocent injured victims of Ontario in exchange for the profits of the auto insurance industry. That is what a zero is.
This gentleman from Barrie says: “If my once fellow Liberal members would do some quick calculations -- and I know they can; they have lots of practice adding up money in their bulging bank accounts -- they would see that those numbers add up to 10 per cent of our gross annual income or, more accurately, 13 per cent of our yearly take-home pay. However, what concerns me even more is the loss of proper coverage that will be passed on to the Ontario driver.” That is what this gentleman from Barrie writes.
And do you know what, Mr Speaker? Up in my office in a bookcase, the one that has my Oxford English dictionary, on the bottom shelf, is a collection of the submissions that were made to the standing committee on general government during the brief, brief hearings. That fills up a whole shelf of these expandable files, plus three, four or five, I think there are, three-inch, black, three-ring binders. You are talking about a whole lot of effort that went into a whole lot of preparation by a whole lot of people during the course of the general government committee hearings, and their effort was in vain.
But let’s make sure that the disdain that the Liberals have for those kinds of hardworking, interested people, does not spread across the floor. Let’s make sure that we in the opposition continue to fight for the drivers who have been deserted by the Liberals of Ontario, continue to fight for the taxpayers who have been deserted by the Liberals and continue to fight for the innocent injured victims, most of whom will be denied compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life, because this gentleman from Barrie writes that what concerns him even more than the premium increases he is going to face is the loss of proper coverage that will be passed on to the Ontario driver.
On 2 March 1990, this gentleman’s wife was struck head-on by an impaired driver, driving a stolen pickup truck and with an already suspended licence for impaired driving. This gentleman writes: “The car that Angela was driving was written off. The car was a total.” He writes, “But fortunately Angela wasn’t.”
Now, his wife experienced bumps and bruises, and even the police officer who arrived on the scene found it just incredible that Angela’s injuries were not more significant. The police officer who arrived at this particular accident scene said he just could not believe that the injuries were not more severe. Nevertheless -- you see, here is the crux of all this -- this young lady still experiences pain from that accident. The physical injuries that she displayed at the time of the accident and immediately afterwards were so, I guess, unimpressive that they caused the police officer attending to exclaim that he was surprised the injuries were not more severe. Yet, you see, notwithstanding that the physical manifestation of those injuries was so modest, it remains that this young lady, this very young lady, still experiences pain as a result of that accident.
Now, this gentleman -- who writes to all of us, really; he wrote to my office, but his message is one for everybody here, not just in this assembly but in the province of Ontario -- says what he has learned is that if Bill 68 were in effect, Angela could not be compensated for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. If the Liberals’ Bill 68 were law now, Angela would be barred from receiving any compensation, not because she was in any way negligent, not because she was in any way at fault, but because she was the --
Mr Lupusella: This gentleman has been out of order consistently. We are dealing with a motion before the Legislature and he is talking about generalities of accidents and the effects of the bill. I think he has to talk about allocation of time, nothing else.
The Speaker: I have been listening very carefully. The point has been raised on a number of occasions previously. I listened very carefully to the member on his point of order and I will ask the member to continue.
Mr Kormos: What I should indicate, perhaps, is that we are of course discussing a time allocation motion, and the concern that we have in opposition to this time allocation motion is that the time provided, two scant afternoons, does not permit sufficient time for an adequate consideration of all of the issues. Why I am going through some of these experiences is because they are not hypothetical. They are real experiences of real people. What they illustrate is that two scant afternoons, two two-and-a-half-hour sessions, just are not adequate for a meaningful discussion of Bill 68 and what it is going to do to people across Ontario, are they?
I know that Liberal members have spoken to me in privacy to express their concern about the fact that this motion is on the floor. I know that Liberal members have come to me to ask me whether I knew of any parliamentary tricks that would somehow get this motion ruled out of order because these same Liberal members are getting pressure from their constituents. These same Liberal members are getting pressure not only from their constituents, but they are getting pressure from their membership in their ridings. They are getting pressure from activists, from the inner circle. They are getting pressure from their financial supporters.
I got a phone call the other day. The message is in here somewhere and the caller said, “Look, we are senior citizens and we have been trying to watch this debate since April 3 but we know that we have missed a couple of afternoons.” The request was: “Look, when you are finished, would you please start over again at the beginning so that we could have a chance to see the parts we omitted.”
Here is a gentleman who writes: “I have been watching the debate on time limitation on the evening rerun. Unfortunately, I cannot send you a ripped-up Liberal Party membership card because I destroyed my card after Premier Peterson announced that he had a very specific plan to lower insurance rates.”
I am going to edit the letter right here. The next statement is a very personal opinion of this author, one which contains language that is indeed unparliamentary. For that reason, I am going to take the liberty of editing the letter. I am going to omit the next sentence. I tell members, it is important to understand what people like this gentleman are writing about because they are writing about their sense of having been deserted. So I am going to omit a portion of the next sentence and indicate that this author of this letter found that this was merely a cynical ploy for votes.
Members remember that, do they not? People across the province remember that promise. They remember it so well. The people in the Legislature have been asking the Premier and the Minister of Financial Institutions, we have been asking the government House leader, we have been asking anybody we could, what is this very specific plan that the Premier had in mind when he made that promise back in 1987?
In any event, this author notes that he joined the Liberal Party in 1977. He is a former vice-president of the Toronto and District Liberal Association. In 1980, he helped manage the campaign of the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health might be interested in this letter and this author because, in 1980, he helped manage her campaign in Wilson Heights. In 1985, he campaigned for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and, in fact, held a cocktail party for him in his home.
He is the former executive vice-president of the federal Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal Association. He was a co-campaign manager for Roland de Corneille in the 1979, 1980 and 1984 federal elections and was a delegate to the federal Liberal leadership convention in 1984.
In 1987, he became a member of the provincial Lawrence Liberal Association and was on the slate of candidates for the executive, having run for executive vice-president. In 1987, he helped campaign for the Minister of Health. She told him that a Liberal government would never take away an injured accident victim’s right to sue. Listen carefully. When the author of this letter campaigned for the Minister of Health in the 1987 general election, the Minister of Health, candidate as she was then, told this gentleman that a Liberal government would never take away an injured accident victim’s right to sue from him or her. “Little did she know,” this author writes, and asked her if she was prepared to vote against Bill 68.
This man says that he doubts he will ever vote Liberal again, that this government is mean-spirited, arrogant and deceitful. “How dare they refer to Bill 68 as the Ontario motorist protection plan?” He jokingly says, “Why don’t you ask the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to investigate this matter?” Do members see how concerned this author is? He, I guess only half facetiously, only somewhat facetiously, says that maybe the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations ought to inquire into the use of the title, Ontario motorist protection plan.
This person writes that he carries on practice as a personal injury lawyer. What that means is that the author of this letter practises law and represents people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, among other things.
He says this: “I have had to hire additional staff to get ready for the anticipated litigation once this bill becomes law.” See what is happening? Lawyers across Ontario, like this gentleman, expect there to be more litigation, more legal work, more courtrooms being occupied, more lawyers being paid fees once this bill passes than before.
This author writes, “Notwithstanding that no-fault benefits are a measly $141 per week now, insurers are loath to pay them.” He writes that he has launched and is presently pursuing a number of bad-faith claims against insurers for failing to pay no-fault benefits. He writes that he is also pursuing a number of claims for the payment of the present rehabilitation benefits.
“Mr H,” he writes, “had an accident in April 1989. He is insured by Scottish and York. He has not worked since the accident. His disability has been well documented by specialists. He has lost his job because he is unable to return to work. Scottish and York refuses to pay no-fault disability benefits and simply refuses to pay for rehabilitation assistance. Mr H, who has no-fault benefits right now, in Ontario, in 1990, has not been able to collect them from Scottish and York. He has had to resort to general welfare assistance.
“Mrs I insured by Economical Mutual Insurance Co. As a result of an accident in November 1988, she sustained a severe head injury. She was in a coma for several months. She is now permanently brain-damaged and is confined to a wheelchair. This lady, Mrs I, requires assistance in all her home care activities. She is a patient at Riverdale Hospital. With appropriate financial support she can go home, but her claim is being litigated. Economical, the insurance company, simply refuses to pay her rehabilitation assistance and will not advance sufficient no-fault disability benefits by way of a lump sum to enable her to go home.”
How mean can you get? Just how mean-spirited can you get? The author of this letter offered to actuarily reduce the amount due. He says: “She will likely remain at Riverdale at taxpayers’ expense until the claim is settled. Her family is devastated and is on the verge of disintegrating.”
This author says he can go on and on with these horror stories. He asks, “When will the people of Ontario wake up?” and he prevails upon us that it is now up to us to wake them up. I guess if this goes on late enough this evening, we may well keep a few people awake. We may even put a few people restfully to sleep. In any event, here we are.
Barry Edson, the author of that letter, is a man who obviously, only after a great deal of pain and effort on his part, only after a great deal of agony, finds himself in a position where he has to reject the party in which he has been thoroughly involved for so long.
Mr Kormos: He was a campaign manager. He helped campaign for the Minister of Health; he helped campaign for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; he has been on riding executives; he has undoubtedly been a financial contributor to the Liberal Party. And more so than the money, be-cause we all know that candidates’ money -- well, I guess it all depends. If Patti Starr is on the Christmas card list, I suppose money is not that much of a problem at all, but by and large it is not the money that is the difficult part in a campaign, because there are supposed to be limits on campaign spending.
It is the workers, it is the people who get out there and knock on doors, help distribute material and help organize an effective campaign. That is what Mr Edson clearly was. By anybody’s interpretation, Mr Edson was clearly one of those very same sorts of workers.
He feels abandoned. I can tell you this, Mr Speaker. If Mr Edson, as an executive member of a riding association, as a long-time supporter, as a worker, as an activist, as an active member of the Liberal Party feels abandoned by the Liberals in Ontario, surely the bulk of those in this province who are far less partisan feel doubly, triply, quadruply threatened by the Liberals’ refusal to debate Bill 68, by their insistence, instead, on closure, on time allocation. Surely to goodness, if Barry Edson from Downsview feels abandoned by the Liberals in Ontario, the vast majority of people out there who do not purport to have party memberships in any political party feel doubly, triply or quadruply abandoned. Those are valid considerations when we are looking at whether or not we should support a time allocation motion.
Going back to Barry for just a minute, or two or three, do you remember Angela, the young wife of the young author of this letter, Mr Speaker? This is the fellow who sent in his Liberal membership card to me cut into pieces. He, like Mr Edson, was not a member of an executive, he probably was not a big financial contributor, but he was a member. He thought he could have a role, a say, in a political party that he thought would represent the things he thought were right, the things he believed in. Just like Mr Edson, as an executive member, as an activist, as a financial contributor who feels abandoned, this gentleman from Barrie does as well.
He writes about his wife, Angela. He talks about how Angela still experiences pain as a result of being the innocent injured victim of a drunk driver with a suspended licence as a result of his previous drunk driving conviction. This gentleman knows that his wife, Angela, would not receive compensation for her pain and suffering or for her loss of enjoyment of life. That is not to say there is not any pain there, it is not to say there is not any loss of enjoyment of life, it is not to say that she was not a victim, it is not to say that she was not injured, but her injuries do not pass the threshold. If Bill 68 were in effect, her injuries would disentitle her from being compensated for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life.
In response to that understanding, this ex-Liberal-Party member simply asks: “Is this fair? Is that just?” Is there a single fair-minded person here in the province of Ontario who would say that is right? This gentleman says he would like the people of Ontario to know that this is what the Liberals are proposing to give to him through Bill 68 -- not give; I submit, more accurately, force upon them -- a system wherein a drunk driver can steal a vehicle, hit an innocent passerby head on and the victim pays. The victim goes through pain and mental anguish, has her life turned upside down and, on top of it all, has to deal with an uncaring insurance company, while the offender is getting three or four meals a day with free rent, in this instance paid for with our tax dollars.
This gentleman from Barrie asked me to tell you, Mr Speaker, that he is not a rich man; he is not a doctor, he is not a lawyer. Remember, this is exactly what we were talking about. He says, as far as the Liberals are concerned, he is not even an influential man. “What I am is an honest, hard-working, proud, taxpaying citizen of Ontario and, as of last week, a former Liberal who at present is being ripped off by the insurance industry.” Those are not my words; those are his words. “And if the Liberals have it their way, they will be ripping me off too.” Then he questions: “As if they already are not? So, Mr Kormos, I would like you, the Liberals and all citizens of Ontario to know that I now plan to join another party.”
This man does not want to belong to the Liberal Party any more; he is going to join another party. He writes which party he is going to join, and I am not going to indicate which it is; I do not think that is important. This gentleman from Barrie writes that he would like me to know, he would like you to know, Mr Speaker, he would like all the Liberals and the citizens of Ontario to know that, having left the Liberal Party, he plans to join another party. He plans to join one of the mainstream parties, one of the three major parties here in the province of Ontario, and I am not going to tell you what it is. But I will tell you what he says next. He says he realizes now that:
“The Liberal Party has become nothing but Tories with red ties. The Liberal backbenchers are not representing their constituents as they are supposed to do. They are simply kissing the feet of the Premier and his cabinet. They are acting like little boys and girls, not the men and women they are supposed to be. I, sir, am ashamed to admit that I was once a card-carrying member of this playschool political party. But then we all make mistakes. I have enclosed my liberal” -- yes, sir, that is “liberal” with a small “l.” So this gentleman writes “liberal” with a small “l,” representing the gutless, small-willed, backbench Liberals. Again I am going to paraphrase; I do not have the gonads to fight for what is right:
“Membership cards, both federal and provincial -- I have sent them to you in the form they can best be used, as garbage. I would like to say one last thing to the Liberal Party. I may be just a middle-class factory worker, and to you Liberals my concerns may be so minuscule and so unimportant” --
He writes that there are some 1,028,000 others in the manufacturing business, the same type of business he is a worker in. Remember, he made filter cloth up in Barrie; that is what this gentleman does for a living. He says, remember, there are some 1,028,000 others in the same manufacturing sector in Ontario who will feel the same way as he does. This gentleman writes that he intends to do his part to make sure that as many of those people do not support the Liberals in the next election as possible:
“Mr Kormos, I urge you to use my letter in Parliament and please contact me at any time to tell me how I can help with this cause or any other. Could you please also send me Hansard reports from the last couple of weeks? If you could put me in touch with the NDP party from my riding, I would most appreciate it. Again, contact me at any time, and for all the people of Ontario, keep up your/our fight.”
I was pretty moved by that letter, Mr Speaker, just as with the letter from Herman Turkstra from Hamilton the other day -- you recall that one -- and just like the letter from Barry Edson. These are painful decisions for people to make, and I am convinced that they are not made lightly, that they are not made without a great deal of thought. I am convinced that these people cry out for a thorough debate of the issues. These people are calling out to the members of this Legislature to recognize that our function, our role, is to engage in thorough, complete and careful debate of all the issues before us. Again, all the more so when it is an issue like this that has so many considerations to be had, all the more so when it is an issue like this that affects so many people in so many different ways.
Everybody in this Legislature has, I know, been overwhelmed by the concern of the community -- I do not just mean the city of Toronto; I do not just mean the cities of Welland or Thorold; I mean the whole province -- about the Liberal refusal to debate. That is what this time allocation motion is all about: it is a flight from debate. I should say that I have mentioned time and time again, not to be repetitive but to draw attention to, the fact that if the House leader merely withdrew this motion, why then we would have nothing more to say about time allocation at this point in time; we would be able to get on with the task at hand, of voting for Bill 68 after we had a careful debate about it.
The sad reality -- is it not sad, Mr Speaker, because who has been filibusterous around here? The Liberals have with all their motions. The Liberals have been filibusterous. They are the ones who have been obstructionist because it is their time allocation motion that has interfered with a discussion of Bill 68. Just think, Mr Speaker, if we had started discussion of Bill 68 back on 3 April, when we started the discussion of this time allocation motion, I bet you dollars to doughnuts right now that we would have debated it completely and fully. I just cannot help but believe that we might even have finished debating it a week ago and we could have moved on to other business.
I get in trouble all the time, Mr Speaker, for referring to members by name. I appreciate being reminded each and every time I do that how improper it is. As I have told you time and time again, there are a whole lot of Liberal backbenchers here who certainly do not make an impression on the assembly and about whom it is hard to remember where they come from and indeed who they are. For some of them it is hard to remember what the heck they are doing here.
Let me tell you what type of concern there is in the community once again about this time allocation motion. We have been getting thousands and thousands of phone calls from all sorts of people, and hundreds of letters. Some of those people have indeed been lawyers. Lawyers have always had something to say about this. The strange thing is that a whole whack of them have been Liberal lawyers. Just like, remember, when I told you what Mr Turkstra had to say. One of the things about which he felt great concern, Mr Turkstra from Hamilton, was that there was an effort to raise the issue of Bill 68 at the recent Liberal convention in Windsor but Mr Turkstra and his colleagues were prevented from doing so. I appreciate that the operation of the Liberal Party, apart from its role here in the House, is a different thing, in the most technical sense, from the Liberal caucus that is here.
But I tell you, Mr Speaker, I am afraid about a party that has power that shows disdain for democracy here at Queen’s Park, in the Legislative Assembly, and similarly shows that same disdain internally when it comes to its own members.
I wish people would stop doing that. I have really disciplined myself, and the staff who help me, to write “Dear Madam or Sir,” because it is 1990 now and we have got to smarten up and do things properly. My only bit of criticism here would be that the letter said “Dear Sirs” when in fact I know that in our party women have roles in leadership, roles in executive, roles in administration. I do not know whether that is the same for High Park-Swansea. I think Nestor Kostyniuk would -- I think it was an oversight. He did not type the letter; he had staff type it. But it reads, “Dear Sirs.”
Mr Kostyniuk writes that he has been a supporter of the Liberals all of his life, the Ontario Liberal government of which -- I have always been uncertain about how to do this. I have always thought that if you quoted somebody, it was okay to use the person’s name, but just to err on the side of caution, he is writing about --
Mr Kormos: Holy cow, Mr Speaker, there you go. Here is another Liberal member who -- I am going to find it sooner or later; I just do not see him here on the chart. There he is, number 59, the member for High Park-Swansea, a Liberal backbencher.
Anyway, this Liberal backbencher, from High Park-Swansea -- I should have known that, because the letter was addressed to the High Park-Swansea Liberal Association -- in any event, Nestor Kostyniuk -- K-o-s-t-y-n-i-u-k, and Nestor, of course, is spelled N-e-s-t-o-r -- that is so that the Hansard people do not tear their hair out trying to figure out how to spell Kostyniuk. But I bet you there are more than a few people working for Hansard who could spell Kostyniuk with their eyes closed standing on their heads.
Nestor Kostyniuk writes that he has been a supporter of the Liberals all of his life. “The Ontario Liberal government, of which the member for High Park-Swansea is a member, is no longer acting in the best interests of the people of Ontario. Specifically, the high-handed and arbitrary actions on the so-called Ontario motorist protection plan” -- I am going to use this chair to hold some of the notes that I am going to refer to over the next while. Mr Kostyniuk writes that:
“The Ontario Liberal government, of which the member for High Park-Swansea is a member, is no longer acting in the best interests of the people of Ontario. Specifically,” he says, “the high-handed and arbitrary actions on the so-called Ontario motorist protection plan is despicable. The member for High Park-Swansea’s government has chosen to take away the rights of accident victims and have replaced it with” --
Mr Kormos: Howdy. Sorry about that interjection, but I had to greet one of our members, the member for Riverdale. The member for Riverdale, he ain’t going to sell out the people of Ontario. He ain’t beholden to the auto insurance industry. The member for Riverdale is here to join in the fight for taxpayers, and fight we will; the fight for drivers, and fight we will; and the fight for innocent injured accident victims, and fight we will.
And you know what, Mr Speaker? We are going to fight to have some principle restored here at Queen’s Park. I mean, what this joint needs is a little bit of ethics, if you do not mind me saying so. Right now I tell you, if we were to give this joint a transfusion of ethics right now, we would need big bottles of ethics.
But I tell you, Mr Speaker, this gentleman who writes writes that the government of the member for High Park-Swansea has chosen to take away the rights of accident victims and has replaced them with enhanced no-fault benefits.
You know what, Mr Speaker? This is important. This Mr Kostyniuk notes, and he notes something I have been trying to tell you and the Liberal members here for a long time now -- I mean a long time. Lord knows, I wish I did not have to argue this motion any more. Lord knows, I wish I could sit down and we could carry on with other members talking about Bill 68. But you know what Mr Kostyniuk says in his letter to the High Park-Swansea Liberal Association, hoping that the member for High Park-Swansea has it read to him --
Well, it is true. People are laughing about that, and it is not something to laugh about. Nestor Kostyniuk sends it to the High Park-Swansea Liberal Association, and this is what he says, “We already have no-fault benefits here in the province of Ontario.” That is what Mr Kostyniuk feels obliged to tell his own Liberal riding association, so that, hopefully, they will send the message on to the member for High Park-Swansea Liberal Association, and if they do, maybe that member will be one of the 29 Liberals who can come back here after the next general election.
Remember the lady who wrote in and we talked about last week? Remember she speculated as to what the real concern was that prompted the time allocation motion. She said the real concern was that the Premier of Ontario does not want a debate about Bill 68 because he is worried about Liberal backbenchers abandoning this Bill 68 ship, because remember what the analysis was.
The analysis was that the Premier has dumped a whole lot of his backbenchers. I mean, even the Premier knows that there are a whole of Liberals here and it is inevitable, and there is nothing wrong with it, but it is inevitable that with this size majority -- I am told they elected 94 members in the last general election, and a lot of them, from a political analyst’s point of view, have no business being here, not because they are any better or any worse than anybody else, but because they were elected in a Liberal landslide, in a Liberal sweep. They were elected to Tory ridings.
And you see, even the Premier knows that they are not going to get re-elected. I mean, why else would the Premier overlook, let’s say, a leading member of the agricultural community when it came time to appoint a Minister of Agriculture? Why would that happen? That member has been thrown to the wolves. Do you not think so?
There are people here with a lot more experience at Queen’s Park than I have who really understand that analysis far better than I do, that there are a whole bunch of Liberals who are going to get defeated in the next general election, just because -- I am not saying that -- Who knows? We still have an election campaign to fight and I am not saying right now; it all depends upon how the campaign is fought as to who wins the election.
But do you know what happened? I was in the supermarket the other day, Mr Speaker, and I was thinking about this time allocation motion -- well, I was -- and what I was buying is some of that fresh-squeezed orange juice, not the pasteurised kind made from condensed orange juice but the fresh-squeezed orange juice, and there the tabloids were at the checkout counter.
I thought about what I was going to say this evening. It prompted me to think about, “What I am going to say Thursday night when we go for broke?” I mean, we are going for broke on this one. We are here for the long haul. This is it; this is the final shot.
As I say, I was standing there in the lineup with my fresh-squeezed orange juice, not the small container, but the big -- I think it is a two-litre container or 1.6-litre or something; it is expensive, anyway -- and there is “Jeanne Dixon Predicts” on the very front cover of one these tabloids. As I say, I have seen Liberals reading them here. They could perhaps help me whether it is the National Enquirer or Star or what have you.
I have seen them reading them, Mr Speaker. You can see them when they are sitting in the back benches. Lord knows, they have got nothing else to do, you know, and Alexandre Dumas or anything like that -- I mean, Reader’s Digest -- would be too demanding, so you are talking about National Enquirer time. Let’s face it. I know they are reading it because I can see their lips move.
As I say, I am trying to think about what I am going to talk about next when we discuss this time allocation motion here at Queen’s Park, and I realize, “Well, of course, that’s what it’s all about,” because you cannot predict the outcome of the next election. And I tell you, I do not care what the Liberals do, this auto insurance legislation is going to be an issue.
But I can tell you this, Mr Speaker, that the 29 Liberals who vote against Bill 68 are going to get re-elected. It is true, Mr Speaker, and those same 29 Liberals are going to be the ones who support a full debate, because you see, it is those same 29 Liberals who are not going to be satisfied with being identified as part of that gang that sold out the drivers of Ontario, that sold out the victims of Ontario, sold out the innocent injured victims -- that is what they are; the innocent injured victims -- that sold out the taxpayers of Ontario in favour of the profits of the private corporate auto insurance industry.
Jeanne Dixon, were she here today, would agree with me. She would predict, with unfailing accuracy, that the same 29 Liberal members who voted against time allocation, this very motion, and who voted against Bill 68, those 29 Liberals would not have to look at retirement plans.
I bet there are 29 of them there. I know that some have spoken with me to canvass that very prospect, and I have every intention of respecting the confidences and the confidentiality, of course, of those Liberal backbenchers who have indicated a desire to vote against time allocation and a desire to vote against Bill 68.
They know that the ministry is simply pumping out rubbish. The ones who have spoken to me know that the Ministry of Financial Institutions is pumping out rubbish about this bill, that what it is is an incredible selling job, a slick, slick, slick selling job.
That is how one of the Liberal members, the member for Mississauga West, could have in his householder such incredible, incredible statements. It is difficult to identify any of those statements with anybody’s version of veracity.
Do you remember Barry Edson, Mr Speaker? Do you remember Barry Edson? He is a lawyer, also a campaigner for the Minister of Health in her 1987 election, also an activist in the Liberal party, just like Mr Kostyniuk, and I am sure Mr Edson was a contributor, a financial contributor, because political parties need that.
I know, once again, that some political parties in this province have managed to dip into charitable funds that they are not supposed to dip into, and far be it from me to bring up the Patti Star affair again and again and again, because that is not what we are talking about here, is it? We are not talking about the fridges and the paint jobs, and we are not talking about the close links with a very powerful -- powerful with a capital P -- “we lean on you, fellow, and you ain’t ever going to walk again” type of development industry. I mean, we are talking powerful. Far be it from me to talk about that stench emanating from the Liberal Party, filling the nostrils of voters right here in the province of Ontario, a stench, a veritable stench of corruption coming out of this Liberal Party.
I tell you, Mr Speaker, the stink of that corruption within the Liberal Party will not be tolerated by drivers and taxpayers and innocent victims and voters right here in the province of Ontario, because at some point this is going to have to go to the electorate. At some point this is going to have to go to the electorate.
People have been writing their member of provincial Parliament, have they not? You ought to see some of the stuff that these Liberals are peddling off as responses. You ought to see it. Holy cow, Mr Speaker.
And if you think those responses are out of this world, you ought to see the responses that people are getting when they write to their Liberal member complaining about this guillotine, this closure motion. It is a closure motion. It is a closure motion that we are talking about right now, the very sort of thing that the Tories --
Perhaps it is appropriate that the Liberals are trying to impose closure here at Queen’s Park, just like their Tory clones on Parliament Hill impose closure there, because the reason the Tories imposed closure on GST is because GST is the most popular thing any government has ever done in this country. You know that; you know that that is true -- the most undemocratic thing that has ever been done, the most unparliamentary thing that has ever been done. And you know what? The Tories, the Conservatives, Brian Mulroney imposes closure on the opposition at Parliament Hill so that he can ram through the GST, while the Liberals impose closure here at Queen’s Park so that they can ram through Bill 68. The similarities are significant and impressive.
We have gotten sidetracked a little bit from the letter of Mr Kostyniuk, and I dearly want to tell you what people like Nestor Kostyniuk have to say about crummy, crummy motions like this time allocation motion, which is in effect a closure motion. Why do we call it any different? Why do we sanitize it by calling it time allocation when in effect it is closure? Down where I come from they would say: “Cut the crap. Call it the way it is.” Do they not say that where you come from, Mr Speaker, when you want to call a spade a spade?
Let’s get down to brass tacks here. This is a closure motion, plain and simple. The Liberals have friends in the auto insurance industry who want Bill 68 passed. They want it passed real bad. How bad? One billion dollars worth of bad. A billion bucks: that is the windfall the auto insurance industry in Ontario is looking at once Bill 68 gets passed. That is in the first year alone.
The insurance industry wants this passed real bad. I have a feeling they have been leaning on some of these Liberal members. Well, not the backbenchers. The backbenchers in the Liberal Party are insignificant in the total scheme of things. They are bodies that are supposed to be there when they are supposed to be there. They are supposed to vote when they are supposed to vote. Sadly, they are supposed to vote mindlessly, which is not hard for a whole lot of them, I tell you.
Mr Kormos: That brought a smile to my face, an interjection that the audience could not hear, but some dummy is saying to speak for myself. Who the hell does he think I am -- speaking for? I am not speaking for the auto insurance industry. I am speaking for the New Democrats. I tell you, Mr Speaker, we speak out on behalf of the victims, the innocent injured victims. We speak out on behalf of the taxpayers who are going to be gouged by this legislation. We speak out on behalf of the drivers who are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent. How do we know that? Because the Minister of Financial Institutions told us that.
Now we discover but a week and a half ago that for almost one third of a million drivers right here in the province of Ontario, when Bill 68 passes, premium increases of up to 80 per cent. What has that to do with a very specific plan to lower automobile insurance premiums? That is why the Premier of Ontario -- you know who he is, from London -- the Minister of Financial Institutions and the rest of that Liberal gang have the comforter pulled up real tight to their chins and all they can do is look over and see Allstate on one side and Co-operators on the other, and far be it from me --
Mr Villeneuve: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: There is a very important commemorative event out on the front lawn of Queen’s Park right now. It is commemorating the Chernobyl disaster. We have quite a few members out there. I would like to move adjournment of the House so that our members in this Legislature could commemorate this very terrible disaster of Chernobyl.
The Acting Speaker: I agree with the honourable House leader that the honourable member for Welland-Thorold had the floor. I was recognizing the honourable member on a point of order and he was out of order.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Where was I? Nestor Kostyniuk. It tell you, Nestor Kostyniuk has -- I am ordering supper, Mr Speaker. I am getting a hot beef with fries, gravy on the fries, peas and a diet Coke. Is there anything you would like? A tea with lemon? You got it, Mr Speaker. I will do my very best.
I hate these points of order because all they do is interrupt my train of thought. Sometimes what I have to do to recapture it is to back up about 15 minutes, 20 minutes or a half-hour. You see, you are going to jump up, Mr Speaker, and say, “Member for Welland-Thorold, you’re being repetitive,” and I am going to say: “But Mr Speaker, it’s not my fault. I didn’t interrupt myself. I have never interrupted myself in my life.” We need a little bit of discipline around here, a little bit of control and a little bit of seriousness about what is happening.
Look at what Mr Kostyniuk says in his letter to the High Park-Swansea Liberal Association. He points out that we in Ontario already have no-fault benefits. He points out that this plan enhances the current no-fault benefits. By and large they enhance them to the point where they would have been had they been indexed properly plus a little bit more, but little else.
Mr Fleet’s government -- sorry; I should not mention Mr Fleet by name. He is the member for High Park-Swansea. I am sure Mr Fleet would be pleased that I did not mention him by name, because he is the person being condemned in this letter. Mr Fl-the member for -- I almost said “Mr Fleet” again and I saw you start to jump up. You almost spilled that glass of water, Mr Speaker, when I said “David Fleet” instead of “member for High Park-Swansea.” Again, all the more fitting in this case that I should not mention Mr Fleet by name, because this letter is dumping all over him.
Anyway, the member for High Park-Swansea’s government -- we are talking about the Liberal Party -- has convinced the media that the benefits provided are better than the tort system. This is where the punctuation is very important, if Hansard would only bear with me.
The Acting Speaker: Before the honourable member for Welland-Thorold continues, we have some difficulties, I suppose, if a quorum call is asked repetitively, but again, as I indicated, in the standing orders there is nothing specific that limits members asking for a quorum call. I recognize the honourable member for Yorkview indicated earlier that it was all right as long as it is not abusive. I think that would be a fair approach to take under the circumstances.
I was telling members, this is where the punctuation is very important. The Hansard people have to really pay close attention to me, because Mr Kostyniuk writes: “I disagree. Mr Fleet is a lawyer.” This is where the punctuation is important. He writes, “I disagree” period. “Mr Fleet is a lawyer” period. This is just the kind of guy I am. I could have said that in perfect candour and Hansard might have put down, “I disagree Mr Fleet is a lawyer.” People would have read Hansard and said:
“Whoa. He didn’t appear to be one. Now we read that he’s not.” On the contrary, it is just the kind of guy I am to be very careful about that sort of thing. I could have, either through malice or mere inadvertence, created a Hansard transcript that would have had Nestor Kostyniuk disagreeing about Mr Fleet’s capacity to perform his professional tasks. But on the contrary, you can take it from me, Mr Speaker, that cheap shots are not part of this itinerary.
Mr Kostyniuk writes, “I disagree. Mr Fleet is a lawyer.” See how punctuation can be so important? Punctuation can change everything. “Mr Fleet is a lawyer.” This is the point Mr Kostyniuk wants to make, “As a lawyer, Mr Fleet knows darned well that people who do not pass the threshold will receive little or nothing from Bill 68.”
Mr Kostyniuk goes on, “I thought that the member for High Park-Swansea would fight for these victims, given his knowledge of their suffering.” What Mr Kostyniuk is saying -- this chair is in the way again, Mr Speaker -- is that Mr Fleet should know better. What Mr Kostyniuk is saying is that Mr Fleet, as a lawyer, knows that the government is being less than honest when it tells the people in Ontario what Bill 68 is all about. That is why he writes what he does.
Mr Kostyniuk says, “I thought” -- once again I am going to paraphrase so that the record, the transcript, the Hansard, will show that I am not referring to a member by name, because that would be improper and that would attract censure from you, Mr Speaker, perhaps on the advice of the Clerk -- I do not know -- because I know you rely on the Clerk for assistance. That is the Clerk’s job here.
Our job in the opposition is to fight bad legislation. Our job in the opposition is to debate bills that come before this assembly. The Liberals here do not want to debate Bill 68. Is that not clear to you by virtue of what is going on here at Queen’s Park?
It should be. I see a glimmer of affirmation in your eye, Mr Speaker. I know you cannot nod your head, but there are certain bodily responses that we simply cannot control. You see, that glimmer of affirmation, that glimmer of agreement that I saw in your eye tells me and permits me to tell the people of this assembly that the Speaker agrees, that the Speaker knows better than these Liberal backbenchers who are going to lose their jobs.
Nestor Kostyniuk said, “I thought that the member for High Park-Swansea would fight for these victims.” One would hope that the member for High Park-Swansea would fight for innocent injured victims, it not as a lawyer, then as a member of this Legislative Assembly.
Mr Kostyniuk writes, “I thought that the member for High Park-Swansea would fight for these victims,” the innocent injured victims of motor vehicle accidents, that he would fight for them, given his knowledge of their suffering. Mr Kostyniuk writes this in his letter to the High Park-Swansea Liberal Association, 66 Pacific Avenue, Apartment 911, Toronto, Ontario. I expect that if this is an incorrect address and this letter has been detoured, the member for High Park-Swansea, who is right here in the Legislature now, will jump up on a point of order and --
Mr Kormos: The voters of Ontario are going to put him in his place come the next general election, unless he indeed crawls out from under the thumb of the auto insurance industry and votes against this time allocation motion.
Nestor Kostyniuk has been a supporter of the Liberal Party all his life. Do not ever forget that, Mr Speaker, in the course of this conversation. He thought that the member for High Park-Swansea would fight for the victims, the little people, the hurt people, the crippled people, the injured people, the people in pain and the people who are suffering, especially given the member for High Park-Swansea’s knowledge of their suffering.
What Mr Kostyniuk is saying is that the member for High Park-Swansea has a special familiarity because the member for High Park-Swansea is a lawyer, that the has a special familiarity with the type of pain, the type of suffering, the type of injuries experienced by innocent injured motor vehicle victims. Do you know what Mr Kostyniuk says? Let me tell you what Mr Kostyniuk says in his letter, Mr Speaker.
Mr Kostyniuk says that he is disappointed in the efforts of the member for High Park-Swansea and that he, Mr Kostyniuk, will not support him. It is not unique. It is sad, is as sad as the other letters we have read. It is as sad as the letter from Barry Edson in Downsview. It is as sad as the letter from the young man with his young wife, Angela, in Barrie. Do you remember Angela, Mr Speaker, a victim of a head-on by a drunk driver? Do you remember Angela, who would not have received a penny in compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life had Bill 68 been in effect when that accident occurred?
This is Angela’s car after the accident. It is a total. Do you know what, Mr Speaker? Bill 68, the insurance company’s and the Liberal Party’s insurance scheme, the one they are trying to ram through, would have repaired this car. But do you know what, Mr Speaker? It would not fix Angela.
You might want to come over and take this from me, Mr Speaker. I cannot go there. Mr Speaker, there is something wrong here. I am trying to submit something to you, sir. Somebody had better come and take this from me, or else this whole system is just going to fall to pieces. Thank you.
I want the Speaker to see that, because do you know what? That is what drunk drivers in stolen cars do. Do you remember Angela? Angela continues to experience pain and suffering as a result of what that drunk driver in the stolen car did to her. If Bill 68 had been law when that drunk driver totalled Angela in her car -- you saw the photograph, Mr Speaker, it is about as grizzly a picture as you could ever see. I know that you are a lawyer and you are hardened to many of these things because you utilize your professional ability, your professional capacity; you are hardened to these things. Yet I know that you are moved by this because you can understand how much impact this accident had on this young lady’s life.
Let me tell you about something that is really pathetic, just crummy and pathetic. It is the way these guys -- I am talking about the Liberals -- respond to well-meaning people who have been petitioning this government to dump Bill 68. All I want is the chance to confront the Minister of Financial Institutions with some of his own crummy statements, that is all I want; statements as recent as ones I received today. Do you remember the petition we presented, Mr Speaker? Of course you do, because I know you listened carefully when we presented the petition. It was back on 29 March. I presented a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it read as follows:
“Whereas the Peterson government” -- this is what the words of the petition are -- ”has made it clear that they want this legislation rammed through.” It is going on right now; the Peterson Liberals want this legislation rammed through, “notwithstanding that people across Ontario have made it clear that they want this bad legislation dumped.
“Whereas there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to David Peterson’s promise in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates, because once this legislation is passed by the Liberals, auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent according to the Minister of Financial Institutions, Murray Elston.” Do you remember him, Mr Speaker? Where is he tonight? I think the standing orders say that you are not supposed to mention a member’s absence. Is that correct? If I were to talk about his complete absence during the course of the standing committee on general government hearings, is that correct or is that inappropriate? Help me, because I do not want to break the rules.
Oh, I see. The impression I get is that it is not proper to refer to a member’s absence in the present tense. Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, the Minister of Financial Institutions was not here five minutes ago either.
Mr Kormos: Lies? The member has been listening to him too, has he? I tell you, Mr Speaker, you and I agree on a whole lot more than you think we do. I am hearing the same things you are and I am calling it the same way you are, and I respect you for that.
“Whereas there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to David Peterson’s promise in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates, because once this legislation is passed by the Liberals, auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent according to the Minister of Financial Institutions, Murray Elston;
“Whereas the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation will provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry, costing the Ontario taxpayer” -- darn it, if we are going to stay here all night, there had better be 20 people in this chamber. I do not think there is a quorum and I am not going to speak to empty seats, I tell you that right now. I want a quorum call. What gives here?
Mr Kormos: I want to tell you something, Mr Speaker. A new record has just been set. More quorum calls have been asked for in the last hour and a half than ever before in the history of this Legislative Assembly and in the history of any legislative assembly in any province here in this Confederation. We are proud of that.
You know, Mr Speaker, you only said half of it. I was not going to read this time allocation motion; but you whetted people’s appetites. You did. You talked about notice of motion and people out there who are listening to this -- I tell you, people are, because it was on the six o’clock news -- are saying, “Well, wait a minute, what gives here, what gives, because Kormos” -- I am sorry, the member for Welland-Thorold -- can I refer to myself by name, sir? In any event, the member for Welland-Thorold, that is I, was talking about time allocation motions since 3 April.”
Then the Liberals introduced their crummy little budget, the smoke and mirrors one, and the Liberals promised that there was going to be debate about the budget for a whole bunch of days. I was angry because, I tell you, Mr Speaker, there have been people out there watching my discussion of the time allocation motion who phoned up on Tuesday and said, “What is this? Who is this guy, Bob whatever, the Treasurer? We expected to hear you talk about time allocation and about its impact on Bill 68.” People were calling; they were concerned I was sick and that the Treasurer was but a filler. They thought it was some old tape that had been hauled out of the archives, out of the proverbial VCR morgue and foisted on them as some sort of makeshift excuse for what they had been used to hearing over the last three and four weeks.
Similarly, Wednesday. People are calling my office. People are concerned, they think that I am sick. My office assured them 11 am well and eager to talk about this time allocation motion except the Liberals are trying to jerk around with them. So it pleases me that we are back here.
I came here with stuff about the budget and, boy, did I have a speech about the budget. Once again, it is important to understand that the Liberals flee from debate, so I got a feeling that they were as concerned about what I was going to say about the budget as they are about what I am going to say about auto insurance and this time allocation motion so as to juggle the two. Really, it comes down to six of one, half a dozen of another.
I am not going to dwell on this, okay, but I was during my budget talk, which I am going to have to give later, some time next week or the week after or the week after that. I was going to talk about the fact that this was really a non-budget. It was a pre-election budget. I had been told that, indeed, the sin taxes that were going to be imposed were far greater than that penny a cigarette tax that we learned about when the Treasurer gave his speech on Tuesday. I trust you had heard some of those same things.
The position that the Liberals were going to take was, forget about alcohol and tobacco, that there was going to be a proposal for the immediate payment of a $100 penalty for such things as adultery, lying, cheating and stealing. This is going to be an original-sin tax. The sad thing is that the original-sin tax was unanimously voted down in Liberal caucus who felt that they themselves would have to unfairly bear the burden of that tax. That is how budgets happen.
I was going to talk a whole lot more about how this budget is about smoke and minors, but we are talking about a time allocation motion and you gave it short shrift. It is not fair. I am not being critical of you but it is simply not fair. It is not fair to the people who are paying close attention to what is happening.
I can tell from the glazed look on some of these Liberals’ eyes in here that they either had a different dinner than I did or they are confused about what we are talking about. Sometimes it is helpful to bring everything back home. Right? I know you were trying to do that when you made reference to what it was we were discussing but simply to say notice of motion 4225 does not help the people that are trying to pay close attention.
What we are talking about is a motion that reads, “That, notwithstanding a 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. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the Assembly by 5 pm on the sessional day on which the bill is considered in the committee of the whole House. At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House.”
I want members to notice something, and this is a brief aside. I mean, it is an aside and it is brief. But the sad thing is that we have rules here about television, do we not? The rules are that the television cameras can only look at certain things at certain times. So the people who are watching this across Ontario right now cannot see the member for Essex-Kent holding this black-and-white, tabloid kind of newspaper in front of him. The only question is, is it the National Enquirer or is it the Globe and Mail? Viewers may well want to write in or phone in tomorrow with their choice. I want to hear how many people out there think it is the Globe and Mail. People who know the member for Essex-Kent- -- do not forget; remember who he is -- how many really know that it is the National Enquirer? People may well want to call in. It is those little things, those little observations that make life interesting, especially here at Queen’s Park.
Can members appreciate what a crummy motion this is? You really do not have to go further than read the first paragraph of this and any reasonable person would say, “Wait a minute.” A reasonable person might call for the question because he would say, “We want to vote against this.”
Do members realize that we are talking about something of an exodus from the Liberal Party? We are talking about not just electoral support, we are talking about key members leaving the party; key members in key communities across Ontario leaving the Liberal Party. And they are not just quietly leaving the Liberal Party. It is one thing to sit in one’s living room or one’s rec room and speak with one’s wife or friends and say, “You know, I just cannot bring myself to get involved in any more election campaigns with the Liberal candidate.” These people are not just doing that. These people are phoning, writing letters to the editor, speaking to the press. These people are declaring their condemnation of the Liberal Party of Ontario openly. These people are mad as hell that they were denied an ability to argue the issue at the Liberals’ own convention in Windsor recently -- mad as all get out.
They are not particularly happy about this time allocation motion either. They are not particularly happy about it because the balance of that motion is: “At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings” -- like so many Liberals have interrupted these proceedings -- “and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for the adoption of the report forthwith” -- not a day later, not an hour later, but forthwith, “which question shall be decided without amendment or debate.”
“That one further sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further amendment or debate.
Members will recall that a point of order was raised, and during the course of raising that point of order lengthy discussions were had about how dumb the motion was. It remains now that it is for the Liberals here to take a position once the question is put and deal with that motion appropriately.
You will recall that I was explaining to you a little while ago, Mr Speaker, a few moments ago before we were interrupted, before we were side-tracked, about the pathetic response of the government to all those people who went to great lengths to attempt to make their views known about Bill 68 by petition. The petition that we were concerned with was the one that said, and I mention a couple of the paragraphs of the preamble, that:
“Whereas the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation will provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to the private, corporate auto insurance industry, costing the Ontario taxpayer at least $141 million in the first year alone;
“Whereas this legislation will deprive innocent injured victims of at least $823 million in compensation that will be denied them; whereas this insurance legislation will create a $1 billion payday” --
You know, Mr Speaker, if we are going to do this, we are going to do it properly, and that means there should be a quorum here, and I would ask that the Speaker call on the Clerk, please, to determine whether there in fact is a quorum here. I am awfully disappointed in that.
As I was saying, “Whereas this legislation will deprive” -- my goodness, Mr Speaker, they all stayed in their seats -- “innocent injured victims of at least $823 million in compensation that will be denied them;
“Whereas this legislation will create a $1 billion payday for the auto insurance industry at the expense of taxpayers, drivers and innocent injured victims” -- these people will be forced to pay more and get less;
People from all over the province signed those petitions to be presented. Claudio Botticelli from Toronto signed. F. Bates signed. Dave Cook signed. Oh no, Mr Speaker, not the member for somewhere around Kitchener-Waterloo, not the Liberal. He did not sign it. He probably wanted to, because he likes his job. He does not want to have to worry about retirement. He wants to worry about whether he gets front bench or way in the back. That is his biggest concern. He would love to be able to enjoy the luxury of having to worry only about that.
But these people signed these petitions, praying that they would be heeded, with the hope that the Ministry of Financial Institutions -- because as members know, that is how it happens. You submit a petition, you file a petition, you present a petition, and it goes to the respective ministry.
Listen to the sort of garbage that the Ministry of Financial Institutions is saying to these petitioners. This is the response, this is the crummy response -- You could drive a big car through the holes in this response. You are lucky if you can afford insurance on it. The holes in this response are pathetic. This is what the Minister of Financial Institutions has got to tell those people, and that is why we need debate.
I thought for a moment somebody was playing a prank on me, and so I looked at the second one, and indeed it was not a fake or forged response from the minister. This is the response he has attached to all of these petitions. No wonder he is not here to engage in debate about Bill 68. No wonder he proposes, through his House leader, time allocation motions. This is what he has to say to those people who would pray for relief from this crummy legislation. That is why now I move adjournment of the debate.
Mr Kormos: You remember, Mr Speaker, we were talking about this time allocation motion in the context of the types of responses petitioners have been getting from the Minister of Financial Institutions. Are we ever going to see the Minister of Financial Institutions? Maybe he really is in the witness protection program somewhere in some small town in Saskatchewan.
Look what he has got by way of responses to petitioners. No wonder he does not want to show up for debate. There is another motion that is alive and well, and that is the motion that this House sit from six to twelve to debate this time allocation motion. The reason I objected to it at the time, and I never was permitted to finish arguing that one, was because I was insistent that the reason for that motion was so that good folks in their homes would not be able to watch what is going on on their cable TVs.
You know what, Mr Speaker? There are people watching this right now, as if they were in the gallery -- because that is all those TV cameras are, an extension of those same public galleries that people are entitled to sit in -- who do not understand what has happened. I am going to tell you, Mr Speaker, I have been talking now for around 26 hours. I have been talking now for around 26 hours on this time allocation motion, from 3 April to the present. Usually when people watch in the evenings, they see reruns of the afternoon. That is important to a whole lot of people because they are working in the afternoon and what have you.
Mr Kormos: This is live. This is actually happening. It is around 12 minutes to nine o’clock at night. Here we are on Thursday live at Queen’s Park. I know the opposition is alive and well. The Liberal ranks -- somebody should hold a minor under some of their nostrils. We see them there, but we do not hear them. We see them.
But something happened a little while ago. Something happened a few weeks ago. That is to say that people started wanting to participate in what is happening here, just like these petitioners, who got such an incredibly absent response from the minister, wanted to participate. People learned that they could participate by using their telephones. But here we are at almost nine o’clock at night, and I do not know whether anybody is watching this. It could be that nobody is watching us.
Now if people were to telephone us at 965-1239 -- and I know that the member for York South is among the people answering the phones -- they might get a chance to talk to the member for York South and they could tell him what they thought of him or the New Democrats or what have you. But they would also get a chance to tell the Liberals what they think of their trying to ram this legislation down the throats of the drivers, taxpayers and innocent victims of Ontario.
Seeing as how it is almost nine o’clock at night, I really want to hear from people who are watching this, if only to convince myself that in fact people are watching. I suppose if people are not watching, if there are no people in the galleries and if people leave the galleries, and that is where these television cameras are, then I suppose I should sit down and let the next speaker in this debate take up his or her arguments. But if there are people watching and if they phone us at 965-1239 -- that is not the same number we gave out because my office staff is not there -- we would dearly love to hear from them.
Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, what the Minister of Financial Institutions had to say to those good petitioners who tried to be a part of this process. That is why he wants to flee from debate about Bill 68. He wrote that, “The merits of the various options for insurance product reform were thoroughly investigated by the government in the creation of the Ontario motorist protection plan.” That is just incredible -- “various options.”
At some point somebody is going to bring down my Osborne report, the grey Osborne report from my office, later this evening and we are going to take a look at what Mr Justice Osborne had to say about threshold insurance. The reason we are going to look at it is because that is exactly why the Liberals do not want to debate threshold insurance.
The fact is that some options were investigated by the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board -- that is the Kruger board, John Kruger and his board -- and that cost millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. That board did look at some options and rejected them, including this one, including Bill 68, including the threshold system that we are being confronted with right now. Kruger and the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board in 1989 told this government, these Liberals, that the threshold system was not going to lower premiums and that it was going to create great injustice. That is from the government’s own board.
I suppose there is nothing technically incorrect when the Minister of Financial Institutions says that the merits of the various options for insurance product reform were thoroughly investigated by the government. That is what the Minister of Financial Institutions says in reply to these petitioners. As I said, I suppose very technically that is correct, but what he omits to say is that the options were investigated and rejected. Do you see how much difference that makes, Mr Speaker? One concedes that yes, they were investigated, but they were rejected by the advisory board which this government had retained.
Through you, Mr Speaker, I want to gesture hello to the member for Willowdale, because I know that up in Willowdale people are concerned about what Bill 68 is going to do to them. People are concerned about the fact that the Liberal Party of Ontario is imposing closure on the opposition. I am glad the member for Willowdale is here. I know the member for Willow-dale is a gutsy person. I say that sincerely. The member for Willowdale is the sort of person who enjoys his constituents. He likes his job, no two ways about it. He enjoys meeting them on weekends. He would be with his constituents here on Thursday night if the Liberals had not insisted on this matter carrying on this evening.
So be it. That is fine. I understand that. The Liberals are mad. The Liberals here at Queen’s Park are just hopping. They were darn near bouncing off the walls. That is what you get for bouncing off the walls. If you bounce off the walls often enough, something sure as shooting is bound to happen to you.
The member for Willowdale is here. He is sitting here at nine o’clock at night. The member for Willowdale is sitting right here, when he could be at home with his family, when he could be out with his constituents, and I know he enjoys his constituents. The member for Willowdale has constituents who have been asking him to please vote against time allocation. The people up in Willowdale want to see matters fully debated.
That is exactly what we are trying to convince these Liberals of here. Not only do we want to see the issues fully debated and this time allocation motion defeated, we want to see that happen, we want to see that people are paying attention out there across Ontario. We want them to call 965-1239 and let us know that. If it were within my power, I would have that number appear on the TV screen, 965-1239, but it is not. I know that good people who are listening will phone to say that they are listening and watching.
The member for Willowdale is here. Wow, this is incredible. Don Mills wants me to talk for a year. Notwithstanding that the Liberals have been afraid of that, it is not going to be quite a year. A friend from Port Perry has called 965-1239, an ex-director of Toronto-Peterborough Passengers to Oppose Via Rail. Here is a person who knows what it is like to be confronted by a government that does not listen, that does not care. Here is a person who took on the jackbooters from Ottawa.
From Port Perry, the ex-director of Toronto-Peterborough Passengers to Oppose Via Rail, thank you for calling us at 965-1239. I tell you, we are going to keep fighting the jack-boots sitting over here in the Liberal ranks, the ones who want to eliminate debate, just like the good folks from Hamilton who say we are doing a great job. I thank you. It is people like you who give us a reason for doing as good a job as we try to do. When people like the people from St Catharines phone in and say they do not want Bill 68 and do netlike what the Liberals are doing, I tell them we in the New Democratic Party do not like what the Liberals are doing either and we are going to fight it, because that is our job.
There is not a fairminded person in this province who would not fight it, because fairminded people believe that there ought to be full debate, do they not? Fairminded people know there has to be full debate so that people can make a learned decision. Fairminded people do not make a statement like the Minister of Financial Institutions did that carries with it the deafening roar of silence about the fact that many committees considered the options and that they were all rejected.
Wilson Heights in Toronto, an ex-Liberal; Meaford, that is interesting writing; Don Mills; Oakville; Toronto -- I tell you, Mr Speaker, people are listening right now and we are going to be here. We are here at nine o’clock in the evening on Thursday; we are going to be here at 10 pm on Thursday 26 April 1990; we are going to be here at midnight; we are going to be here at 1 am.
East York; Yorkview; Glen McDonald, Willowdale; Wayne Meddon from Pickering, 100 per cent support. Mr Moscattini hopes that his member for Yorkview is listening to what we are saying right here in the Legislature. These are folks who are calling 965-1239, and they are letting the people of this assembly know that it cannot draw the curtains on Queen’s Park.
The Liberals here in Toronto cannot draw curtains, cannot build a wall around Queen’s Park, cannot build a wall around this Legislative Assembly, no matter how much they would like to, no matter how much they would love to lock and bar those doors so that we could not even be here. They would love that. That would be the perfect Legislature for these Liberals, would it not? It would be the perfect Legislature for the Liberals with their jackboots sitting here at Queen’s Park, would it not?
Mr Kormos: We know it. They would love to build a fence so high that nobody could ever get over it and so solid that nobody could ever see through it, right around Queen’s Park, right here. Is that not what secrecy is all about? Is that not really what a time allocation motion is all about?
Mark from Thunder Bay called in. An ex-Liberal from Windsor called in. I tell you, Mr Speaker, these people are calling 965-1239. Don Clarke from Marathon on the Trans-Canada Highway. I have been there. I know where Marathon is. As a matter of fact, one of the times I was there, as I said before, I was coming back from working in the copper mines in Granisle, British Columbia, on Babine Lake. I worked in the Noranda copper mines on Babine Lake and was coming back after a summer of work in the mines. I was going to university and I went through Marathon.
As it was, I have never really understood. We have talked so many times to the Liberals -- they do not listen to that either -- about what the north is all about. The Trans-Canada Highway was washed out at Marathon, and my response was:
“What do you mean it is washed out? How can that be? This is the Trans-Canada Highway.” At that point in my life, I just did not have an appreciation of the fact that we are talking about a big province with a lot of remote territory. In the case of Marathon, it is basically serviced by that one highway. When the highway is washed out, you wait until it is fixed or you take that long northern detour, a 350- or 400-mile detour.
Don Clarke from Marathon calls in, and we appreciate that. These people are calling 965-1239. These people are telephoning into Queen’s Park in Toronto, 416-965-1239. We appreciate your calls and we would appreciate more of them as the evening grows. Have your friends call, and if you visit the tavern later tonight, give that number to your friends in the tavern. If you are down in Welland, Mr Speaker, and going to the Station Hotel or the Crowland Hotel or the Devil’s Den up on King Street or the Aqua-Duck or Gilligan’s, tell them we would like to hear from them and would they please call us at 965-1239.
They will call and their friends will call and then rush your little bodies home, because you are going to be watching this debate on the Queen’s Park parliamentary channel. Good Morning, America is going to be the choice people have in the morning -- between the Queen’s Park parliamentary channel and those American network stations that the cable companies insist on broadcasting. Good Morning, America. Well, good night to the Liberals, and so long, it’s been good to know you, according to so many ex-Liberal members, including Liberal executive members. This is a remarkable and indeed revolutionary thing that is happening right now.
Steve Vance called. He has called before. He lives in a Liberal riding. He lives up in Barrie. He says that the MPP from that part of the province ought to take note. That is all we are asking, for the Liberals to listen to our arguments about time allocation. We are just asking for the Liberals to please take note.
Mr Speaker, I want to talk to you about how the Minister of Financial Institutions is responding to people who petition this government to abandon Bill 68. That is why we are debating this time allocation. If we were confident that what the minister was telling them was accurate, we would say that is good enough. If we were confident there is nothing more that has to be said than what the ministry is telling people, my gosh, I would be on the highway heading back down to Welland-Thorold so fast tonight, short of exceeding the 100-kilometre-an-hour speed limit. You have got to be careful on the QEW because occasionally when you are doing 100, maybe 102 clicks, there is somebody behind you who is pushing you and trying to get you to go four or five kilometres an hour faster. I really resent that. I am most uncomfortable when that happens.
Tom Finlay from High Park-Swansea was obviously watching earlier. Tom Finlay supports what we are doing in our opposition to Bill 68. He called 416-965-1239. Look what the Minister of Financial Institutions is telling people who petition. The minister’s signature is on it. If this were a trial, the jury would be in by now.
Mr Kormos: I have seen hanging juries. This is like a confession that Bill 68 is not what it is said to be, nothing akin to what it was supposed to be. Catch this, Mr Speaker. The Minister of Financial Institutions, above his own signature, and I know the minister’s signature, writes, “Most of the recommendations” -- look at the qualifier there, most -- ”respecting enhanced no-fault benefits for injured motorists made by Mr Justice Osborne, as well as his proposals for tort reform, have been incorporated into the plan.”
That could, unless it is debated and made the subject of clarification, leave people with the impression that Mr Justice Osborne endorsed a threshold system. People think tort reform, threshold, deny people the right to use the courts. Oh, my goodness, did Mr Justice Osborne recommend that? You know he did not, Mr Speaker. If there is a member of this assembly who does not know, darn it, he ought to know or else he has not done a very good job of earning his paycheque the last couple of years. My goodness, the government spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars on Mr Justice Osborne’s inquiry, and Mr Justice Osborne -- we are going to talk about that later.
This is it; this is the end of my speech about time allocation. When I am finished some time on Saturday or Sunday, I will have said all that I am going to be permitted to say on time allocation, and no more of these afternoons only. We are not talking about doing from three to six; we have clocked up around 25 or 26 hours now, but that is in a succession of afternoons. This is it. We are going for broke now.
Shana Sullivan from Stoney Creek -- I wonder whose riding that is -- supports us. Her son, Brendan, and husband also support us. Brendan Sullivan, young Brendan Sullivan, is listening to this right down in Stoney Creek as much as if he were sitting up here in the visitors’ gallery at Queen’s Park. Shana Sullivan, Brendan, her son, and her husband do not feel too favourably towards Liberals, especially Liberals who would try to gag and muzzle the opposition. These Liberals with their jackboots are trying to silence the opposition. They are trying to silence the opposition. They do not want a debate about Bill 68. They appear to be just about ready to do anything they have to do to avoid it.
People like Andrew Marshall from East York, folks right here in Toronto should know that they can come right down here to Queen’s Park right now at 9 or 9:15 at night and sit right up here in these members’ galleries. That is what our parliamentary procedure is supposed to be all about, openness. The public in Toronto has a right to come right down here to Queen’s Park. There is all sorts of parking on the north side of the building off Wellesley. Watch out for the BMWs and the Mercedes. That is the Liberal parking lot.
Which cabinet minister was it who went down to Scarborough to express sadness at the demise of the jobs of so many hundreds, indeed thousands, of GM auto workers? Which cabinet minister went down there, along with several other of the area MPPs to express great regret to the GM workers who were being forced out of jobs, hundreds and thousands down in Scarborough, and then drove away in his Honda Accord? Which Liberal cabinet minister was that? I know who it was and he knows who it was. Shame. That is what Liberals think about the public. That is why they do not want to debate Bill 68, because they have disdain for the public.
Come on, Mr Speaker. The same kind of Liberal who, as a cabinet minister, would go and sympathize with GM workers about to lose their jobs and then drive away in his Honda Accord is the same kind of cabinet minister, or ex-cabinet minister rather, who would try to persuade his fellow caucus members to support the insurance companies against the people of Ontario.
The problem with this reply by the minister is that Mr Justice Osborne did not endorse threshold insurance. Andrew Marshall in East York knows that; so does Mr Fazaro. Mr Fazaro from London, Ontario, knows that. The Liberals thought they could hide from the public of Ontario by extending these sittings into the evenings, did they not?
Mr Kormos: The Liberals thought they could hide from the public of Ontario. The fact is, these TV cameras are bringing this live at 9:15 Thursday night, 26 April, into hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of homes across Ontario. Those people are listening, and they are mad.
Mike Perron from Welland has been trying to get through for 20 minutes, and he is going down to the Aqua-Duck Bar. Mike Perron, take a cab home. I tell you, Mr Speaker, people are watching, and they are calling 965-1239.
Bev Midland from Pickering calls in, and she understand what I am talking about when I am reading this reply by the Minister of Financial Institutions to the petitioners. She got a letter with the same -- well, bullfeathers.
Mr Kormos: She did not say “bullfeathers.” I know that people get irate about these things, but I bet Miss Midland has been on more than one farm and she knows what she is talking about. I bet those farms had cows and bulls on them and I bet she has walked barefoot and she knows exactly what she is talking about when she talks about the content of this kind of letter. She got the same thing from the Ministry of Financial Institutions when she wrote to it. She got the same sort of what I would call fluff, for the sake of methane avoidance.
People have got the same sort of fluff in their replies to concerns they expressed to Liberals as the minister has given in his reply to a significant petition. The minister replies to this petition, and this is in his response to these thousands and thousands of petitioners across Ontario: “One of the key components of the plan is the new Ontario Insurance Commission.” It is right here above the minister’s signature.
Listen, you do not have to be a really serious student of English to take a look at what the minister is trying to do in his next statement. He says, “The commission will approve all insurance rates and classifications.” You bet your boots they will approve them. They will approve every rate that any insurance company ever submits to them. That is what the commission is all about, the Liberals’ new auto insurance commission.
Mr Kormos: I am sceptical about whether he writes better than I speak and, quite frankly, I hope the minister bought it on the remainder tables because it is awfully close to that. I am disappointed that he would read fluff like that. I suppose if the ministries of the government are going to generate fluff, they have to ingest it. From fluff grows fluff, like this response to the petition.
You have a Minister of Financial Institutions who is acknowledging that all that his Ontario Insurance Commission is going to do is approve the insurance rates and classifications, baboom, baboom, baboom, rubber-stamp them. These guys wonder why we want to debate Bill 68. These guys actually scratch their heads, jaws slack, saying, “Why would they want to debate Bill 68?” Because of all this stuff that is being flushed out of the Minister of Financial Institutions’ office.
The minister then goes on to say that because the commission will approve all insurance rates and classifications -- this is in response to petitioners -- this will result in savings being passed on to the consumer. The Ontario Insurance Commission will result in savings being passed on to the consumer. What a crock. What a pile of baloney.
The phone number is 965-1239. Joseph Camelare of Toronto voted Liberal for the last time and supports us in what we are doing. It is incredible. Virginia Robertson calls and she is going to get a reply because she asked for a reply, but she is opposed to this time allocation motion. She called us at 416-965-1239. What an opportunity for people to plug in to the parliamentary process. Teanna Brown calls from Brampton.
It is 9:30 in the evening of Thursday 26 April and people are watching this. The Liberals blew it again. The Liberals thought that if they pulled this one off, that people would stop paying attention. Wrong. People are vitally concerned about what the Liberals in Ontario are doing to this province. People are vitally concerned about what the Liberals in Ontario are doing to this Legislative Assembly.
Teanna Brown from Brampton says no way to the Liberals and their jackboots. Teanna Brown is listening and her friends are listening. Her friends are going to be calling us. I do not know whether Teanna Brown is from Brampton or from some other part of the province, but Teanna Brown is going to be on the phone to her relatives. Teanna Brown is going to be on the phone to her schoolmates or her workmates, whatever the case may be, and she is going to tell them about telephoning 416-965-1239.
Teanna Brown is going to be calling her relatives, her friends, her workmates, be they in Brampton or anywhere else in Ontario, and telling them to phone in. You know what, Mr Speaker? If these people were not calling in, I would be sitting down. If these people were not calling in, this whole show would be over. If these people were not calling in to say that they support what we are doing, then why do it? Seriously and quite frankly, it is pretty hot and sweaty in here. It is pretty dank.
Like I said before, I would love to be on the highway to Welland-Thorold. Then again, I know you are proud of the community you are from, Mr Speaker. I am proud of the people we have heard from across this whole province in the last three and a half or four weeks. I would love to be on the highway, to be back down in Welland-Thorold. The beagle is waiting for me. The beagle knows when it is Thursday night, honest to goodness. The beagle knows when it is Thursday night because that is when I get back into town. He ain’t the youngest beagle any more, he ain’t the best looking beagle any more and he got hung with a moniker like Charlie.
As I say, I would love to be at home with my feet up, patting the dog on the head, scratching him behind the ears. But we are here. We are here fighting the jackboot tactics of an arrogant majority. We are here fighting garbage like the stuff that is being flushed out of the Minister of Financial Institutions’ office in response to good people in Ontario who want to petition this government to do something fair and something reasonable and something honest for once.
Teanna Brown from Brampton, I cannot tell you how much your phone call means to us. I cannot tell you, Mr Speaker, how much that phone call from Teanna Brown in Brampton means to me. I know the people in Welland-Thorold watch, because they say, “That’s our member.” But I tell you people in Brampton are watching, people in Brampton like Teanna Brown, who I know is going to be calling her friends, her relatives, her workmates.
Like Paul Bebella in St Catharines. Listen to what Paul Bebella has to say. Catch this. Paul Bebella called us up here just moments ago at 416-965-1239. Paul Bebella called up at 416-965-1239. We have people out there answering the phones right now. The member for York South has been helping out, and a whole lot of other members. I know it takes time to get through the lines, so I will tell you what I am going to do, Mr Speaker. There is a second number that can be called. If 965-1239 is busy -- people should take a pencil. I know the members here will want to write these down.
The Acting Speaker: I feel like I am watching channel 17 or something. Where does it end with the phone numbers? I am just feeling uncomfortable in terms of the approach that you are taking in terms of the discussion to the closure motion.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, I think the point you raise is a very good point. I think perhaps it would be more appropriate if, rather than having the member for Welland-Thorold have to repeat that number or perhaps add additional numbers, someone could see to it that the number is put on the screen for people so that he would not have to interrupt the flow of his speech so much. Then he could just read out the thousands of letters coming from the member for Guelph’s riding or the Minister of Community and Social Services’ riding. I know that he would love to hear.
If you would rather they did not phone in, perhaps those in the Toronto area would like to come down tonight. We have many seats here in the theatre and would appreciate their attending. But I would just suggest that for the principle of wanting the public to be involved and have the opportunity to participate, I think an occasional reminder, perhaps less frequently than the member has done, would be appropriate.
Mr R. F. Johnston: We are not asking for donations. In fact, Mr Speaker, the interjection from the member for Scarborough East is an interesting one. I would suggest that what people are doing is spending their money to phone here because they are so angry.
Mr Kormos: With all respect, Mr Speaker, I appreciate what you are saying. Listen, if you think you are upset about these phone calls, these Liberals are just hopping. These Liberals are bouncing off the walls. You know what the message that is going out into those communities is? The message is that the Speaker does not want you to call in. The message that might be going out to people in Thunder Bay and North Bay -- I was up in North Bay a Friday ago, great folks up in North Bay, really opposed to Bill 68. In Ottawa, in Kapuskasing, in Timiskaming, in Orangeville, in Newmarket, in Guelph, in Cambridge, in Kitchener-Waterloo, in Windsor, these people -- remember the other day I had a map here of the province of Ontario? Mr Speaker, if somebody were to give me my map of the province of Ontario, I would show you where some of these fine people live. The page could pick up the map that is being offered to me, please, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, look what the Minister of Financial Institutions was doing when he answered these petitions. Get your pen, Mr Speaker, because if you have your pen and a piece of paper, the other number that can be called is 416-965-1224. The Speaker is almost as nervous as the Liberals are about the people calling in. These people have a chance to fight back, they do, Mr Speaker. To the people who call 416-965-1224 or 416-965-1239, there are people waiting to answer their calls.
Jason, 11-year-old Jason: Listen. Jason is listening and Jason is concerned. Jason is scared out of his wits because in five more years he is going to have to be shopping for auto insurance. Jason, 11-year-old Jason, who phones in says, “Thank you for speaking for me and my friends.” I say to Jason that we are not afraid to listen to 11-year-old Jason or his parents. We are not afraid of that, Mr Speaker. I tell you that. Jason calls in and he has every right to. He called in at 965-1239. Bless him.
Jim Ferguson from Ingersoll phoned in on the other line. He phoned in on area code 416-965-1224. Liberals are mad as hell that these people are phoning in. The Liberals are mad as all get out. The Liberals would love to shut this down right now, but no, they are going to be hoisted on their own petards.
You know what, Mr Speaker, if these folks like Teanna Brown in Brampton, Joseph Camilleri in Toronto, Bev Midland from Pickering, Shana Sullivan from Stoney Creek, Tom Finlay from Swansea, Steve Vance from Barrie -- trust me, Mr Speaker. Erskine May does not say anything about closed-circuit cable TV, does not say anything about televised parliamentary proceedings.
If the Liberals bit off more than they can chew, it is too bad, so sad, ain’t it? The fact is it is a madhouse back there. The leader of the official opposition, the member for York South, who has been answering phones back there, comes back into this Legislative Assembly and says it is a madhouse back there where the phones are. I do not know whether he was answering 965-1239 or 965-1224, but he has been busy.
How can the Premier of Ontario let the Minister of Financial Institutions get away with this garbage in his letter, in his response to petitioners? How can it be that the Premier would let that take place? Did you read this, Mr. Speaker? I know I spent some time dealing with it with you and I am going to spend a little bit more time because it warrants that consideration.
The Minister of Financial Institutions dares to tell the petitioners that his insurance scheme will result in savings being passed on to the consumer. What savings? The same Minister of Financial Institutions who signed that has already told the province of Ontario that drivers are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent, and almost a third of a million of Ontario drivers are going to face premium increases of up to 80 per cent. We have learned that in the last week and a half.
The Minister of Financial Institutions himself has already promised that drivers in Ontario are going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent, and then we find out but two weeks ago that a third of a million drivers here in the province are going to face premium increases of up to 80 per cent.
Savings? There are no savings. Premiums are going to keep on going up and up and up. Premiums are going to keep on going higher and higher. More people are going to be forced out of their cars and off the roads. Do members know who some of the people are who are going to be hardest hit? Those folks watching in their homes, in their living rooms and rec rooms right now, they know -- senior citizens.
Senior citizens are among those who are going to be paying the 80 per cent premium increases. We know that. The reason we know it is because some of the government’s own people have told us that. Don McKay, the general manager of the Facility Association, says that among others, among the other groups, senior citizens are going to be those people forced into the Facility Association. There is not a senior out there in Ontario who should not be scared out of his wits by the prospect of what Bill 68 is going to do to him.
You know, Mr Speaker, that this assembly usually shuts down at 6 pm and that is it. But here we are; it is 9:45 at night on Thursday, 26 April. These visitors’ galleries are just waiting to have people come visit them. Now, I do not care if people just got home from getting their groceries -- I suppose a whole bunch of people did; it is Thursday night -- and maybe just had dinner. Subway it down here -- there are no blackouts downtown tonight -- or drive down here.
There is all sorts of parking on the north side of Queen’s Park, off Wellesley, free parking, and they can come in here and watch what is going on here. They can be a live part of what is a debate and a fight for democracy and fairness. I mean, do you know what people have understood this to be? The fight against the goods and services tax in Ottawa --
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Perhaps this time I can be helpful. I know the member has mentioned a couple times, and once or twice at my interjection, that perhaps people should come down here to our galleries this evening. Although this would normally be an appropriate thing to do, we do not want to mislead the public about what is possible. In fact, we do not have the staff here this evening for people to be able to come down, and people should know that rather than this be presumed to be the case. Because it is clear that people outside this House are watching this, they should not be brought down here unnecessarily if they cannot get in. I think this is perhaps a helpful suggestion to the House.
The Acting Speaker: Are you finished? Let’s not worry about whether it is a point of order at this particular point in time. Let’s think of the practical problems where someone indicated that the galleries are open, and lo and behold, actually they are not open. So I will repeat again -- thank you to the member for Scarborough West -- and remind everyone that in terms of what is available this evening, they will just have to tune in to their respective television stations, because it will be difficult to come into the chambers. The chambers are closed because of lack of staff because of this very interesting debate that is taking place. Hopefully that has cleared up that problem and we will allow the honourable member for Welland-Thorold, unless someone else has another point of order to that point of order, to continue.
Mr R. F. Johnston: This is a point of order, I think you will find. I am suggesting that if the House is to be open tonight and the principles of this place are to be maintained, that is, that this is a public place, we should not be proceeding unless the galleries are open and people can come down here and witness what is going on. It is a fundamental principle of this place that we do not sit in camera in this House, that this place is open for people to come to. Why is it that the government has not made arrangements for the galleries to be open to the public if it thinks we should be sitting at night? One of the principles of
this place is that this is a people’s place where they can come down. So my point to you, Mr Speaker, is, how can we proceed when in fact we are now shutting the doors of this place?
The Acting Speaker: Do you know what I just found out? Interestingly enough, individual members would still be allowed to have their constituents come in if they signed individual passes, to be seated in the members’ guests gallery. So that being the case, we have a reasonable compromise. Although the guests’ galleries are not available, at least members’ passes are available for those fine constituents of all of us who would like to come in personally and listen to the debate taking place.
Mr R. F. Johnston: If I could ask for clarification on that, is it possible for you, for instance, as the member for Durham East to write out a slip for somebody who is not from your riding to come in? Because all the Liberal members from all the Metropolitan Toronto ridings are not here tonight, and I would not want people to come down and not be able to come in if the member for Scarborough East could not sign them in, as I will be suggesting he do.
The Acting Speaker: I can only respond to that in a practical nature. I have to admit that from time to time I have signed in guests of colleagues of mine. I do not know if that is covered under the standing orders or not but I have done it, so I guess if that is the precedent, other members would probably do it. They will have to take the responsibility, of course, for signing those members in. For instance, for someone who is coming from the Ottawa Valley tonight who would like to listen to the debate, the honourable member for Renfrew North is here. He could sign in for someone from that location, but we have the opportunity of having guests come in.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It is section 18 of the standing orders, if I might. I am wondering if the government has, by its own actions, decided that strangers shall be excluded from this House and from the galleries and has not used section 18, which is the only way we are allowed to clear the galleries, as I understand it. Why is it that people can only come in by invitation at this point, rather than being able to come into the public galleries, which is our tradition in this place, if this government feels we should sit at night?
The Acting Speaker: Order. I think I have been more than patient with the member for Scarborough West, who I have nothing but the utmost respect for, who has had the opportunity of sitting in various positions, as I have, in these august chambers. This is the third time you have stood up and, in my evaluation, the government, in terms of the administration, technically has not had any decision-making process in terms of what is available and not available in terms of the public gallery. It is a matter of staffing. The procedure that has taken place has been unusual. The Speaker’s office --
The Acting Speaker: That I cannot make a judgement on, but in terms of the administration of the building, such was not prepared for. Not that I am sticking up for either side. I am just telling you the way it is. We have done the best we could in the situation. I have listened to three points of order and I think we should listen to the member for Welland-Thorold to see what he has to say.
Mr Kormos: Let me address this matter, albeit briefly, Mr Speaker. Listen. Our whole argument here is because the Liberals would stomp democracy into the ground. I tell you this is a public chamber. I tell you that one of the hallmarks of our parliamentary process is that it is not behind locked doors. Darn it, Mr Speaker, are you telling us that the Liberals are going to be permitted to finally do what I have suggested they might, in our worst dreams, do over the last three and a half weeks, lock the doors to this chamber? I say no. I say that the people of Ontario, the people who are right here in Toronto, should be exercising their right to be physically present at the operation of their Parliament.
Their phone calls say one thing, I tell you that, and I tell you this, Mr Speaker, their physical presence in this building -- this debate is going to go on all night. This debate is going to go on well into the morning. We are here at eight minutes to ten on Thursday 26 April. This is live. This is not a replay in the evening.
I say to the people who are watching who are close by: “Get on your streetcar or your subway. We will be pleased to give you a member’s pass. Bob Rae will sign your member’s pass to get into the members’ gallery. You come in through the east door and you can sit down and have a coffee, have a coke, have a ginger ale with Bob Rae and with other members of the New Democratic Party caucus.” There are sandwiches for them. I say those people should be here watching this go on, because these Liberals have actually this evening tried to get away with what I only feared they would want to do. That is to lock the doors of this chamber. We cannot let that happen.
The Acting Speaker: I have a funny feeling that you are just crossing over the line a little too much with that, because we came up with the compromise that individual members are able to sign in constituents for themselves or on behalf of their colleagues. As I indicated, we were not, in terms of the Speaker’s office, prepared for what was taking place. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, defending the administration. I am defending the chair and I am just feeling a little uncomfortable that you are being critical and we are not able to be in a position. If I was seated in another place, I might have the opportunity, but I am not and I would like you to maybe divert some of your thoughts to another area.
Mr R. F. Johnston: If I might, on the comments that you just made, Mr Speaker, I agree with you that the compromise may seem to be a practical one for those people who do wish to come down. But think about the message that we are now sending out, and that is to say that a person from the public who wishes to come into this House --
We are now saying that the only way you can in come here tonight, the only way you can reach these doors to come into your place which you control, the place that you have elected people to, is if a member of this House signs a piece of paper that says you can enter. That is our rule for the security in the lower part of this chamber; that is not our rule for the way things work in the public galleries. In general terms, people just have to go down and get a pass which they show to a person who is at door and they can walk in. They do not need the member for Renfrew North to sign that and say it is okay with him if they enter. They do not need the okay of the member for Scarborough West for them to come in. They have the absolute right as citizens to sit in that gallery, unless they abuse this House by interjecting or by having some sort of display in that place.
I agree that what we are doing tonight is perhaps a practical compromise until something else is done, but I suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that the message is not acceptable and that some message from you in the chair should go to the administration that we expect, because this debate is going to go on all night, that some provision is made so people can come in here without having to go to the member from Lambton-Keegstra and suggest that he has the sole right to allow them to come in or not. They have the right to be here.
Mr Reville: If we do not solve this problem, we have a much more serious problem than you may realize. I was just talking to two people from High Park-Swansea who believe, as a result of this discussion, that they are somehow prevented from attending at the Legislature and watching this debate. They believe, after having listened to the discussion, that if you are from the Ottawa Valley, a member from the Ottawa Valley would have to sign you in here, which of course might be true if we were going to talk about the members’ gallery. But there is a public gallery. This is a Legislature in a democracy, the last time I looked. I am concerned that people feel they may not attend at their Legislature and I would like a clarification of that.
Mr B. Rae: -- I am just curious as to what the authority is for the galleries to be closed. The assumption of the House is that when the House is in session the galleries are open. I am just curious as to the rule or authority under which the galleries have been closed. I cannot think of any clear precedent for it and I am just curious, sir, as to what the authority for that ruling is.
The leader of the official opposition knows full well that I have nothing but the highest regard for him and his capabilities. I have to be very stern about this. It boils down to a practical problem of security.
in other places. Practically, the security is not in the manner we have been accustomed to during the normal course of sitting hours. The best I can do, and I am going to rule very strictly on this, is that there was some provision for members to sign in constituents. Tomorrow -- is it already tomorrow yet? No, it is not tomorrow yet. However this discussion continues and resolves, there should be further discussion among respective House leaders and party leaders to resolve the security problem. I am going to centre in on the security for members of the assembly, which I feel very strongly is the responsibility of Speaker’s office.
Mr B. Rae: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: If I may, the government House leader is responsible for having moved the extension of the hours at six o’clock without any notification; in fact, as will become very clear, directly contrary to every understanding that was reached with respect to the conduct of business this week after much discussion. So we on this side can say with some degree of clarity that there is clear responsibility on the government’s side for the fact that, without precedent, debate has been extended tonight and that, Mr Speaker, I say to you, sitting in your chair, it is hard for me to imagine a Speaker of this assembly wanting to go down as the Speaker who said that the public of Ontario could not come in and watch the debate, the debate which the government itself has required.
We are here tonight for one reason only. We are here tonight because the government House leader moved a motion extending the hours of the debate on this particular motion, without any warning to us whatsoever, at six o’clock on a Thursday evening, knowing full well that everyone on this side was working on the basic understanding, because that is the understanding we had from the government House leader, that today we would be debating the question of the budget and that debate would conclude at six o’clock, as it normally does, and would resume again next week on the agreement of the House leaders. If the government wants to run the House in some other way, which it is clear that it does, all I can say to it is that it owes at least to the public of Ontario the continued right to attend at this assembly, and I say to you, sir, that any Speaker who rules that the public is not welcome in the Legislature of Ontario had better think again.
Hon Mr Ward: Some suggestion has been made that perhaps the galleries have been closed as a result of direction from the government. I want to disabuse everyone of that notion. Frankly, as far as the government is concerned, if arrangement can be made for security -- and I understand that is totally within your purview, Mr Speaker -- we will do anything we can to help or assist.
The Acting Speaker: Well, you know what? You have just helped me a great deal because I am very sensitive to the honourable leader of the official opposition, having had the opportunity of travelling with him to Lithuania on the back of the bus from Vilnius to Kaunas, and indeed myself, just returning back from the first free vote in Croatia. Far be it from me to limit access of the people of Ontario to the public gallery. So I will turn over that decision to members of the House. Is there now general agreement, as indicated by the government House leader, that if the arrangement --
I will leave this decision to all the members. Is there an agreement, at best and as quickly as possible that security can be obtained, to then allow the galleries to be open within a reasonable length of time?
Mr Kormos: I am sorry to have generated, I guess, some of the -- I hope it was not ill feeling. All I can tell you, Mr Speaker, is that we feel strongly about this being a public process. I think that is so important. I know you do too, Mr Speaker. I was concerned because I know that FAIR is an organization that has worked very hard fighting this legislation and I know that there are members of FAIR right here in Toronto who, when they find out that this is the last chance I am going to have to speak on this motion, would want to come down here and see it.
Mr Kormos: -- but not all; head injury people, doctors, all sorts of people. I know that FAIR people who are watching would want to drive down here to Queen’s Park and watch this. I know that their friends would phone them at their homes and say: “Look, do you see what’s happening at Queen’s Park? Will you please go down there and help the opposition fight for fairness?”
We think FAIR and its members should be able to see this final stage of our initial submission on this time allocation motion. We really believe that. So I am hoping that at this late hour, at 11 o’clock, of this marathon, if you will, people will come down here after their dinners, before they go home to bed, to watch what is happening. I know that the lawyers who have been so actively and fervently involved in this fight against bad legislation will want to come down here and watch this. I pray that they do.
You know who called in, Mr Speaker? Belinda Anderson called in from Welland. She is at home with her husband, Bob. She called in to say that she is pleased with what the opposition is doing. I cannot tell you how much it warms my heart for Belinda to call in. I am not saying this is fun. I am not saying I am not tired. I would love to go home and go to bed. I would love to sit down and put my feet up in front of the TV. But I believe in this fight. I believe that if people call 965-1224 and let us know how they feel, then we can have the energy to carry on this particular debate. That is why Belinda Anderson knew how to call.
Mr Speaker, I told you the other day, and I read the newspaper clipping to you, that the town of Georgina has passed a resolution opposing Bill 68. You want to know something, Mr Speaker? There was one councillor, Bill Laird, who spoke against it. He is an insurance broker. Bill Laird spoke against the resolution of the town of Georgina.
My goodness, Bill Northmore is watching. He called in from Mississauga. I wish he would come down here and see this for himself. The member for York South will sign a member’s slip to get him into the members’ gallery to watch. Bill Northmore from Mississauga says he supports everything we are doing: “It becomes clearer and clearer that the Liberals are running a dictatorship.”
I am going to get back to the town of Georgina. What happened in the town of Georgina -- and Dale Woods in Oshawa, Belinda Anderson in Welland and Bill Northmore in Mississauga know this -- is the little town of Georgina did not have closure when it discussed Bill 68, did it? The town of Georgina had a full debate. These are good, hardworking folk, who again had better things to do than spend all evening at a town council meeting. There was opposition because there was an insurance broker -- not hard to believe, is it? -- who tried to persuade them to support Bill 68, but no, the majority said, “No way.” Indeed, one councillor in the town of Georgina said, “Look, if the government really wanted to look at options it would start looking at public auto insurance.”
The town of Georgina does not have closure motions. How is it that some people here can say that is okay at Queen’s Park? Is that what prompts Bill Northmore from Mississauga to say the Liberals are running a dictatorship? I am fearful that it is.
Joe Sullivan from Hamilton calls in and supports our efforts. He was a Liberal, but he says he will never vote Liberal again. Joe Sullivan knows there is a time allocation motion that the Liberals are trying to force on us right now. What is the time allocation motion all about? It is about denying the opposition the opportunity to do its job. It is about telling the opposition, “Be silent.” It is about telling the opposition that the interests of the wealthy, powerful insurance industry should overwhelm and override the interests of drivers and taxpayers and innocent injured victims. That is what is happening. Joe Sullivan from Hamilton does not want time allocation. He does not want closure. There is the phone ringing; I just heard that door open and that phone is ringing. Joe Sullivan from Hamilton wants to see the Liberals vote against this time allocation motion.
What Mary Chatterton -- four drivers in her family -- out in Guelph characterizes or illustrates for us is that insurance companies cannot vote. Oh, they can pay out the bucks at election time. They can make the big, greasy donations at election time, can they not? But they cannot vote; drivers can. Mr Speaker, time and time again I have reminded you that these Liberals have received big campaign contributions. In the last general election, over $100,000 was paid by the insurance industry to the Liberals as campaign contributions. You are not talking about $5 and $10 and $20 bills.
More phone messages: Lori Moore from Oriole riding; is it not great that she would be watching what is going on right now, paying attention? Lori Moore is afraid about what the Liberals are doing to this Legislature with their time allocation motion. Lori Moore from Oriole riding calls in and says, “Keep fighting.” It is because Lori Moore phones us that I am going to be here not just at 10 after 10, because that is what time it is right now, but I am going to be here at 10 after 12, I am going to be here at 10 after two in the morning, I am going to be here after MTV signs off the air, so you might as well switch to the cable parliamentary channel.
We are going to be fighting this time allocation motion. How could any of us go home and face our constituents if we did not fight this time allocation motion? How could we? This is not just closure of the opposition; it is closure of the public of Ontario. Because what is happening now is that thousands of people in Ontario are witnesses to this effort on the part of the Liberals to shut down debate. You know what they are calling it? They are calling the Liberals the federal Tories of Queen’s Park, because this time allocation motion is all about what the federal Conservatives do, what Brian Mulroney does.
Mr Burns from Bradford called. He missed the hockey game so that he could witness what was happening here. Mr Burns believes that the public should be able to see this. God bless you, Mr Burns in Bradford. There are some Liberals here who may laugh at you, Mr Burns, but I tell you it is your energy and your enthusiasm, and that of thousands of people like Mr Burns, that keeps me going.
The town of Georgina did not impose closure up in that part of Ontario. That makes it now eight out of nine local municipalities up north of Toronto here that have passed resolutions against Bill 68, and in not one of those municipalities was there a closure motion. You know what, Mr Speaker? They had full, open, thorough debate in each and every one of those municipalities. It is true. Those municipalities, like Georgina and eight others in the area, permitted debate. I said to you before and I say to you again, if city councillors in good, healthy, small communities can and should have debates, should we not right here in Queen’s Park?
The region of York council and the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board have both passed resolutions against Bill 68. They had full debate. They did not have closure. Oh, no. Up in Elliot Lake, where the seniors are watching right now, the seniors are phoning in. Oh yes, the seniors in Elliot Lake have seen a whole lot. They have seen this government, these Liberals, let jobs be taken away from miners, hardworking people, with no options. The people in Elliot Lake are sick and tired of a government that will force its will on them without open debate. They are opposed to the time allocation motion.
Laurie and John Lafontaine -- they are from Ottawa, but they are visiting in Toronto tonight -- say people in Ottawa do not like Bill 68. They sort of plan on coming down here, getting into the members’ gallery, having the Leader of the Opposition or any other member sign a slip for them so they can get into the members’ gallery and watch this all night. Well, they are welcome. That is the way it should be.
Now we are starting to get somewhere. Phil Bagnall from Welland says we are doing a great job, “Relax and loosen up your tie.” Listen, Mr Speaker, we have got to talk about time allocation for a whole lot. I am going to loosen up my tie around I am.
Georgina had full, open debate. The region of York council had full, open debate and York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board had full, open debate, and yet the Liberals will not let us have full, open debate here at Queen’s Park. Those boards and councils have all passed resolutions against Bill 68 after full, open debate. In the case of the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, it sent that resolution along to school boards across Ontario, asking them to look at it and do the same.
Vince Ragona just phoned us. Mr Speaker, if only that phone could be brought in here; these people want to be able to talk to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Vince Ragona of North York says: “It is about time somebody told the Liberals where to get off. Happy somebody is finally standing up.”
Mr Weber down in Welland phones in with his support. Everybody in this assembly should be thankful to people like Mr Weber, because Mr Weber, just like the folks in Georgina, does not believe in closure. Mr Weber down in Welland, he will not buy closure from the Tories at Parliament Hill, nor will Tom and Joanne Jenkins in Welland.
Tom and Joanne Jenkins down in Welland will not tolerate closure when it comes from the Tories and Brian Mulroney because they want to ram through the GST up in Ottawa. Tom and Joanne Jenkins believe strongly enough about democracy and about our political system that they will not buy closure from the Liberals here in Queen’s Park when the Liberals want to ram through Bill 68. What the GST is to Mulroney, Bill 68 is to the Premier of Ontario. Mark my words. Tom and Joanne Jenkins know that. They called in this evening to say so.
I got a letter from Newmarket -- and once again, I am telling you, from a lawyer and this is a concern about Bill 68 that we in the New Democratic Party share with this lawyer, and he is D. W. Monteith.
Ange Topping and her husband from Niagara Falls voted Liberal, but they cannot afford any more premium increases. This is what we want to talk to the Minister of Financial Institutions about. People like Ange Topping and her husband in Niagara Falls cannot afford any more premium increases. Yet the Minister of Financial Institutions would tell the press, and you heard it too, Mr Speaker that for drivers in this province, once Bill 68 is passed -- and Lord knows the Liberals want that bill passed; so do the insurance companies -- premiums are going to go up by as much as up to 50 per cent. Ange Topping and her husband in Niagara Falls know that, and they say they cannot afford premium increases of up to 50 per cent.
I hope they are not among that group of almost one third of a million drivers here in Ontario -- you know what I am talking about now, Mr Speaker -- who are going to face premium increases of up to 80 per cent if Bill 68 becomes law. People do not deserve treatment like that, do they?
Yvon Dupont of Dupont Painting in Welland, all 10 of them are watching. I know Dupont Painting; they are a heck of a painting company. Yvon Dupont and his friends have got their heads on straight, because they will not tolerate closure either.
The concern that was raised by Mr Monteith, and he is a lawyer -- is it wrong for lawyers to raise concerns about flaws in legislation? Is it wrong for personal injury lawyers who work with injured victims day after day after day, who see the catastrophes, to raise concerns?
Scott Isapon calls in and says our time will be long remembered, Bill 68 will not be forgotten either. I know I am so thankful to Scott Isapon and Yvon Dupont and Scott’s family and Yvon’s friends for listening and for sending in their comments, Mr Speaker, because I do want you to know that it is simply an impossibility for me to keep talking for ever. There are no two ways about that. It is impossible for me to talk for ever. What I can do in the next, let’s say, 20 hours is going to be the last chance I have to persuade the Liberals to vote against this time allocation motion, the one that their very own House leader proposed, and I do not know whether my strength will permit me to last 20 hours.
But I tell you, Mr Speaker, the Liberals have raised the price of poker, if you will. They have suspended the rules, because no longer do we debate until six in the afternoon; now they have said, “Okay, we’ll use our majority to suspend the time rules of the Legislative Assembly.” That is what they have done. They have suspended the time rules of the Legislative Assembly.
The minute I sit down, the minute I lose the floor, there is no more second chance. This is my last chance to persuade the Liberals here that what they are doing is dreadfully, dreadfully wrong. This is my last chance, and I do not know whether I have the strength to last 20 hours.
I am so thankful to the people who have shown their support for our position, and it is because of them that I have been able to last this long. As long as my legs will keep me upright and as long as my voice will keep on working, I am going to use every second of this opportunity. I am going to treat it jealously because it is my last chance, but there is so much at stake that I am going to use every second of it to do my best.
I appreciate that there are better speakers than I am. Oh yes, there are people who have got more eloquence than I do, for sure, and there are people who are more persuasive and more effective when they talk; I know that. I grew up in a small town. I grew up in Welland with good people. I was raised by immigrant parents who worked hard and did their best, and I am lucky for everything I have been blessed with. I am talking about the quality of life that my family provided for me, with hard work, the schooling that I managed to have. But I did not go to Harvard or Oxford universities or stuff like that, and I did not get big scholarships. When I went to university I worked in a Canadian Tire store 40 hours a week and then I figured myself lucky to get a job at a gas bar on the weekend. So I am not no slick orator and there is a whole bunch of people in this House who could be a lot more slick than I am.
But the fact is that right now it is my job, it is my responsibility to all the people here in Ontario -- I really believe that it is my responsibility -- to persuade the people in the province that we are doing everything we possibly can to prevent this time allocation motion from becoming a reality.
You know what happens if this motion passes is not just a last argument; it is no argument. That is what happens. If this time closure motion passes, then there is no more argument; it is finished. If this time closure, time allocation, guillotine motion passes, you have snuffed out democracy here in Ontario. You have given this assembly lock, stock and barrel over to the Liberals and their friends in the auto insurance industry. That is what happens. If this closure motion passes, there is no more debate, there is no more discussion. This is my last chance.
Mr Speaker, it is 10:30 in the evening now on Thursday 26 April, and there have been enough phone calls and enough people coming down here to Queen’s Park, sitting right here in this members’ gallery, to make me want to go on till 12:30 or maybe 1:30. A few more phone calls, a few more people down here at Queen’s Park and I may be able to argue till 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 in the morning. If there is enough support across Ontario for what we are doing right now, we can go for ever.
Ron Alexander from Newmarket says, “Keep it up and maybe democracy will work.” That is what we are fighting for. We are fighting for democracy. Why will the Liberals at Queen’s Park not listen to the Ron Alexanders of Newmarket? Why? Why was it that when people tried to telephone the Premier of Ontario last week, the Premier was not taking their calls?
When the president of Allstate phones up the Premier’s office, or the president of Co-operators, or the president of Scottish and York -- those are all big auto insurance companies -- when they phone up the Premier’s office, the Premier gets on the phone, does he not? You bet your boots he does.
Why? Because if Ron Alexander is inclined to provide a political donation -- well, to any number of political parties -- I mean, Ron Alexander is a working guy; it might be $5, $10, $20. But when Co-operators or Royal Insurance or Scottish and York make contributions to the Liberals, you are talking about contributions in the last general election in excess of $100,000 by the auto insurance industry in this province to the Liberals sitting here at Queen’s Park and their fellow candidates in the last general election.
Sandra Richardson from Windsor phones, and her husband has been in a serious accident. She is still fighting for compensation. She shudders to think what would have happened under Bill 68. She lives in a Liberal member’s riding. I can tell you, without naming the member, who that is. They keep moving these folks around. The Liberals keep shuffling around. Sandra Richardson from Windsor lives in a Liberal member’s riding and she says: “Last time, pal. Make retirement plans.”
Elaine and Ken Forsythe in St Thomas phoned. I suppose if one were to condense our argument, one would say exactly what Elaine and Ken Forsythe from St Thomas say: “If it is such a good bill, why do the Liberals not let a real debate happen?” Enough said.
Don Hotte from Welland has five drivers in his family. This is why we need a debate about Bill 68. These folks know. Don Hotte’s family pays over $5,000 a year in auto insurance premiums. It is not because they are bad drivers. It is not because they are careless drivers. The Hotte family are not reckless or drunken drivers.
The member for Guelph might want to tell Don Hotte what it means when you are paying over $5,000 a year in premiums now, if you are one of those people who face premium increases of up to 50 per cent after Bill 68 has passed. What if you are one of the almost one third of a million people who face premium increases of up to 80 per cent?
I do not care who you are; I do not care where you work -- the Premier of Ontario is a millionaire. Premium increases do not particularly concern him. He is the worst kind of millionaire. He did not earn it; he inherited it. He does not worry a whole lot about premium increases.
Don Hotte and his family from Welland care, because they work too hard, quite frankly, for far less than what they deserve as hardworking people. Don Hotte and his family care about premium increases and they are opposed to this closure motion.
Do you understand, Mr Speaker? The Liberal House leader moved a time allocation motion. The Liberal House leader, back on 3 April, interrupted the commencement of the discussion about Bill 68 to move his time allocation motion, and that is closure. That is what Brian Mulroney and the Tories do in Parliament when they want to get the goods and services tax rammed through. That is closure. Do members want to know what? That is what the Liberals at Queen’s Park do when they want to ram Bill 68 through.
We say no to closure. We say no to locking the doors of this assembly. We say no to that. I have pleaded with the Liberal House leader to withdraw Bill 68. The minute the Liberal House leader withdraws Bill 68 I have nothing more to talk about. But he will not withdraw it. If he withdrew his time allocation motion, I would have no more debating to do.
We are talking here at about 10:30 at night and we have visitors here in this House. We have members of the public who came down here to Queen’s Park to see what is happening. We have members of the public who, I tell you, are afraid. They have better things to do on Thursday night at 10:30, do they not? They have far better things to do, but they are afraid about the future of democracy and they are afraid for what Bill 68, if it is permitted to pass, is going to do for taxpayers, innocent injured victims and drivers.
Roy and Lori Green from St Catharines are too far away to sit up here in these galleries like these good folks, but their windows to Queen’s Park are in these television cameras and Roy and Lori Green from St Catharines are watching what is happening and they are witnesses to what is happening. They are witnesses to a debate about democracy.
Roy and Lori Green know that, and so do the people in Georgina, just like Robert Magnus does in Penetanguishene. Robert Magnus, senior citizen, is a Second World War veteran. Veterans who fought for democracy, who fought for freedom, who risked their lives, know what closure motions are all about; they know how important it is to maintain parliamentary traditions.
Robert Magnus from Penetang, Second World War veteran, senior citizen, he knows what it means to see the jackboots stamping out democracy, snuffing out free debate, does he not? He never said so, but I bet you Robert Magnus has voted for one or two Liberals in his lifetime. And we know that people voted for the Liberals back in 1987 because they brought enough members with them to Queen’s Park, did they not? We know that, but the sad thing for those same Liberals is that people like Robert Magnus from Penetang, and all the hundreds of others who have been phoning here in the last two or three hours, plugging these phone lines, are saying, “Never again, not when the Liberals showed such disdain for the public, for the taxpayer, for the driver, for the innocent injured accident victim.”
The member for York North, a cabinet minister, a person of influence -- not a whole lot because, after all, you have the insurance companies there -- a person of some influence, the member for York North -- there are the phones. Is this not exciting? It is almost 11 o’clock at night and people are phoning in; people are down here in the galleries. I think if enough people were here and if enough bodies were right here in this building –
Mr Kormos: Rob Wightman, I have to tell you, is my next-door neighbour down on Bald Street in Welland, Rob and Sherry. Rob works at the tube plant, Page-Hersey. Rob knows what it is like to work hard. Rob works his butt off and then Page-Hersey says, “Sony pal, we are going to lay you off for a month or two.” That is the sort of working conditions Rob has to cope with and he copes real well. He works real hard. When he is laid off, he is always out there looking for other work because Rob is about as responsible a person as you could ever find.
Sherry, his spouse, is just a delightful person. They are wonderful people and they are a hardworking young couple. They are part of what makes it so nice for me to live on Bald Street, the corner of Bald and Denistoun in Welland, a big 80-year-old brick house with big maple trees in front, big verandas both front and back. It is the kind of neighbourhood where, in the summertime, you sit out on your porch on a Saturday afternoon reading the Star with all its sections and the neighbours drop by and pick up the sports section or the entertainment section. We have the kind of lawn chairs that have the canvas backs on them, the ones that I grew up with back in the 1950s that you can still pick up down on Queen Street West. The people down on Bald Street look out for each other. They care about each other. We all know each other by first names and we think nothing of dropping by to say howdy. We think nothing of dropping by each other’s homes on a cold winter day, on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday evening, for hot chocolate or howdy. We think nothing of doing that.
Rob and Sherry Wightman phone in to say, “Thank the New Democratic Party for exposing this awful legislation.” We are here because of the Rob and Sherry Wightmans; we are not here because of the Allstates and the Co-operators and the Scottish and Yorks. If I have to stay here until 7:30 in the morning to try to make sure that Rob Wightman is not forced off the road because of unaffordable insurance premiums, darn it, I am going to stay right here. Just watch me.
Mr Speaker, I have told you more than half a dozen times now about how there are a whole lot of Liberals who ought to be looking to retirement. The future member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is sitting right here in the members’ gallery. David Warner is right there with his family and I tell you, the people in Scarborough-Ellesmere are not going to forget what their Liberal member is doing to them when he continues to support this time allocation motion, this closure motion. It is not a Liberal invention. It is a Brian Mulroney invention and the Liberals are adopting it.
Do you want to know something? Liberals are Tories too. Every day that we see the Liberals here at Queen’s Park with their jackboot tactics, we have come to realize that more and more. So you see, David Warner, the future MPP for Scarborough-Ellesmere -- I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that he is going to run again and I know that he is going to be the member. Why? Because the people in Scarborough-Ellesmere, watching right now, know that the Liberal Party of Ontario is prepared to sell them out and indeed is doing it in exchange for the wealthy interests of a powerful insurance industry.
How many times do I have to tell you this, Mr Speaker? Listen to this. There is no secret about it. The Liberals get money from insurance companies. Over $100,000 was recorded in the last general election, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in third party advertising. This is no secret either, that trade unionists and trade unions -- and I am so grateful to them – were very active in their support in our by-election down in Welland Thorold. I cannot think of a New Democratic Party member who has not been so blessed and graced.
David Grimaldi from Windsor expresses high thanks for sticking up for the rights of the average person in Ontario. “I think it is a sad day in our history when a government takes advantage of an individual the way they have taken advantage of me.” God bless you. Dave Grimaldi. They are trying to take advantage of him, but that is okay, because you care so much about the average person.
I just wonder how members of the government would feel if one of their loved ones suffer because of this bill. They would have to carry the guilt that they were part of the process that rammed this bill through the House. “Try to find the inner strength to go on. Fight for democracy and our rights.”
Dave Warner called in on the telephone line 416-965-1224. There are all sorts of good folk there to answer it. The member for York South, the leader of the New Democratic Party, was down there answering the phone. A whole bunch of other New Democratic Party members are answering the phone. If it were not for people calling 965-1224, I would have had to sit down a long time ago -- honest.
Mike Mann from North Toronto has been trying to call for three hours. He finally got through at 965-1224. Mike Mann, come on down to Queen’s Park because we are going to be here all night and we are going to be here all morning. You know that, do you not, Mr Speaker?
Mike Mann worked all his life and finally bought his dream, a 1989 Corvette made by General Motors workers, big parts of it manufactured right here in Canada. We are not talking about the ex-cabinet minister who went down to Scarborough to commiserate with the GM workers who were being told that -- what, 1,000 or 2,000 were going to lose their jobs? -- 2,300 GM workers in Scarborough were bumped, tossed out, told of a pending layoff that is going to be permanent. A Liberal cabinet minister shows up to commiserate and drives off in his Honda Accord. Thanks a lot, pal, thanks loads. Honda Accord be damned.
Mike Mann from North Toronto works all his life to buy his dream car and let me tell you, I know a little bit about Corvettes. I read some of the Corvette books and magazines and I tell you, they are fine cars. It is no secret that I drive one. I have just about the best. Cathy Robertson down at Brian Chev-Olds in Welland, and Cathy Robertson is about the greatest person you could ever meet. Cathy, I tell you, has told me frequently over the last month and a half how she supports our opposition to Bill 68 and to the time allocation motion.
This guy is mad. He has finally been able to buy this dream car of his. It is not new, it is used. Mike Mann feels he is being used by the Liberals here at Queen’s Park now. He knows that the Liberals are ready to sell him out so that the insurance companies can make unheard-of, unprecedented profits. We have got folks up here in the visitors’ gallery who are witnessing what is happening right here on this time allocation motion.
We are talking about thousands of phone calls; we are talking about people calling 965-1224. We are talking about people coming down here because of what is happening here, because this is so important. I told you just a few minutes ago, this is my last chance, Mr Speaker. Thank you. More phone messages.
Let’s talk about Lucy Gunther and Scott Sauer from Welland. They are behind this all the way. Why are the Liberals not listening to them? Do you want to know why, Mr Speaker? It is because they are not millionaires, they are just hard-working folks. Why are the Liberals not listening to Lucy Gunther and Scott Sauer? Because they do not own insurance companies and they do not make $1 00,000-contributions to Liberal campaigns in general elections. Lucy Gunther and Scott Sauer are just plain hard-working people who deserve a heck of a lot better than what these Liberals are giving to them right now.
Mr Kormos: Sure, you are darned right. David Warner, the ex-member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, came down tonight and he knows. Do you want to know something, Mr Speaker? Guys like Dave Warner do not get money from insurance companies. There are just no two ways about it.
Dave Warner does not take money from insurance companies. Heck, I bet they do not even offer it to him. Guys like Dave Warner and the rest of us here in the New Democratic caucus are not at all concerned because we do not want to be beholden to the insurance companies.
I started to tell you before, Mr Speaker, that I and all the rest of us here in the opposition get money from trade unions and trade unionists. You bet your boots we do, and we are proud of their support. I am proud to be fighting for the interests of trade unionists here at Queen’s Park. Are the Liberals proud to be fighting for the interests of the auto insurance industry? The proof is in the pudding.
Harold Wrightman from Peterborough phones in a message to his member, the member for Peterborough. He says, “This is the last time I’ll ever work for you.” Mr Wrightman wants the member for Peterborough to resume his job teaching at the university.
Bernice and Roland Seguin from Sturgeon Falls -- I have a whole lot of Seguins living down in Welland; they are good people. The Seguins are a big family and they are good people. They are calling in from Sturgeon Falls. They are saying, “Keep up the good work.”
Do you want to know what they are saying, Mr Speaker? They are saying the same things we have been telling you in this House for a long time. The Liberals are destroying small business here in the province of Ontario. The Liberal Party of Ontario is as anti-small-business as any party in any government ever could be. They are delivering the final blows through Bill 68. This is the party of big business; this is the party of big corporate friends in the liquor industry, in the beer industry, perhaps in the garbage industry and certainly in the development industry. We are talking about the party of Patti Starr. We are talking about the party of fridges and paint jobs. We are talking about the party of Kenmore and Sherwin-Williams and Maytags.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to say to the honourable member for Welland-Thorold that of course he is straying somewhat from the debate before the House, and I can only remind him, if he would be so kind, to reconsider some of his discussion so that it makes and winds its way back to the subject at hand.
While I have the floor, it is usually customary, I have noticed from time to time, to recognize former colleagues of ours who are in attendance in the members’ guest gallery, and be it far from me to be remiss, I recognize David Warner, who used to be a member.
Why will the Liberals not listen to people like the Seguins from Sturgeon Falls? The Speaker wants me to come back on topic. You heard me tell before about the time the road was washed out in Marathon on the Trans-Canada when I was coming back from the copper --
Tony Carillo and his wife, Melinda, from Welland. I know that Tony and Melinda Carillo are as important to you as they are to me, just like Ed Hoag from Scarborough. He says: “This closure motion is totally ridiculous. Liberals are gearing up for an election which they will not win.” That is what Ed Hoag in Scarborough says.
Rob Sitte from Scarborough, a single parent, cannot come down in person, but Rob Sitte phones in at 965-1224 to say that our voice is his voice. Why will the Liberals not listen? Mr Sitte does not have a fridge on the back of his truck.
Mr Kormos: I will tell you that, Mr Speaker. In Marathon the highway is washed out. I am coming back from the copper mines and I have got to make a detour that seems like it is never going to end. It seems as if it is hundreds and hundreds, and it is hundreds and hundreds of miles. But eventually you get back to the Trans-Canada. Eventually I found my way on through to Sudbury and then back down south to Downsview where I went to school, at York University. You see, Mr Speaker, there are small detours and there are big detours, but a detour is a detour. Do not go away. My goodness, Mr Speaker, the Liberals are getting mad and they are starting to leave.
Mr Kormos: How can Brian Mennen from Brantford afford to pay for automobile insurance on a disability pension? That is what Brian Mennen wants to know. Richard Spence from Kitchener: “This provincial government is no better than the federal government. Won’t vote Liberal. Thanks for sticking up for us.” Ken Moore from Willowdale appreciates all that we have been doing, has written to his MPP, the member who is the Minister of Health. He has not gotten a reply, not even a phone call.
Those things happen, do they not, Mr Speaker? Especially when you are a Liberal who does not want to answer questions about Bill 68. Remember the letter I read you a little bit earlier today, back around five hours and change ago? You know, Mr Speaker, we have spoken for almost 28 hours now, and that is the longest debate in the history of this Legislature. That is the longest debate that is spread out over a number of days. I want to tell you, Mr Speaker, and I know that the Clerk is going to help us, because we are approaching, now, at 11:05 pm, yet another record of one sort or another.
Mr Kormos: David Case from Toronto calls, says he is behind us 100 per cent. Mr Speaker, remember back a little while ago, when I talked about FAIR? I read from a FAIR tabloid. You have got to forgive me. I probably should wear glasses, should I not?
Mr Kormos: Thank you. Richard Cuba from London; Gerry Birmington, Sault Ste Marie; John Purcell from Welland -- full support in what we are doing. Dr Earl Dobkin from Toronto says, “Keep fighting.” Simon Blackstone; oh, Simon Blackstone has a way with words. Simon Blackstone is a wordsmith. Simon Blackstone -- this, I think, is one of those little if-then situations in logic and I am not exactly sure -- if our friend the member for Sault Ste Marie were here, he would know all about that kind of stuff -- but he says, “If Patti Starr is a snake, then which cabinet minister is a worm?”
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member, who has always been most obliging to me from time to time when I have been concerned about his use of language -- now, h-e-l-l. It is written in the good book, and of course you can use it in terms of heaven-and-hell this, heaven-and-hell that, but I do not know. You have been using it periodically in a manner that, although it has not been overly disruptive to the House, I just feel a titch uncomfortable. But I know the member for Scarborough West would have something to say about that.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I do have two comments I would like to make and I agree with you that there is always -- we have to be very careful about how we use that particular phrase. I think it is fair to say that many members on all sides in recent time have used the word in the sense of an expletive, if I can put it that way, or to express a very strong emotional feeling about something, and it has not been ruled out of order, although I believe it is in the list of words which are not to be used from time to time.
But I am amazed these days about what one can find in the dictionary, and with its other meanings. This word, in fact, expressions of sorts which indicate the vernacular usage of this are now commonly shown in some of the larger dictionaries of the time, of which I would be pleased to go and get some examples and read them to you, as well as some other language which is even more obstreperous.
I think your caution to the member is a good one, that he should not use this unduly, but you are wise as well not to try to say this is something which is outside of the bounds of our common usage these days in the Legislature. As one who has been called to task from time to time myself on words of similar usage, which I have regretted deeply since and have tried my best to refrain from in these my twilight years here, and months and weeks and days in this Legislature, I think it was a very helpful intervention and I hope this has been helpful to the member for Welland-Thorold.
The Acting Speaker: Well, then I will just wait to see whether we are going to be here for some time and, that being the case, possibly one’s physical and mental attitudes become a little lax. I am just advising the member that, as tired as he might or might not get, we are all going to have to be a little cautious in terms of our use of language to all members of the House.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have here the Concise Oxford Dictionary on the word “hell,” which starts off “abode of the dead.” One could say from time to time, but not this evening, this could be almost representative of this Legislature.
David Levian from Waterloo calls. He has been watching for the past week and a half. What is remarkable is that the people who are watching this right now are not watching the rerun from this afternoon. It is 11:15 at night and it is Thursday 26 April 1990 right here at Queen’s Park -- and they have come down to say hi and see a little bit of democracy at work, because they will be darned if they will see it snuffed out by the Liberals in their arrogance.
Mr Kormos: We are fighting the time allocation motion here. We are trying to persuade at least 29 Liberals to vote against this bad motion. That is all we need -- 29 Liberals who want to keep their jobs, who are prepared to vote against time allocation, are all that is necessary to defeat this motion.
Tim Prothero called from North Bay. Tim Prothero wanted to drive down to Queen’s Park this evening. He talked to the member for York South just a few minutes ago and the Leader of the Opposition persuaded him to stay where he was and watch it on his television set. We appreciate his wanting to drive down from North Bay, but we appreciate as much his calling and letting people in Ontario know that people in North Bay will not tolerate jackboot tactics from the Liberals at Queen’s Park.
Gladys Rothman, the New Democratic Party candidate in St Andrew-St Patrick in 1987, writes: “Dear brother, I am with you. Hang in there. The working people of Ontario are proud of you.” I say God bless people like Gladys Rothman because that is real special folks. They are people who work real hard, and I say this: The member for St Andrew-St Patrick would not be supporting this bad legislation if it had been Gladys Rothman rather than the Liberal who is representing that riding right now. And I tell you this, Mr Speaker, the people of St Andrew-St Patrick are going to think twice, they are going to think thrice. It is not going to take them long at all to realize that they are going to have to vote for a New Democrat come the next general election because then they will elect somebody who will reject any proposition that premiums should go up. That is what Bill 68 is all about, higher premiums.
New Democrats representing St Andrew-St Patrick would reject any proposition that there should be closure motions here at Queen’s Park, because that is all about gagging the opposition. That is all about muzzling the opposition. It is all about shutting down debate rather than fostering and encouraging debate.
When I was just a little kid and spending as much time in school as they would let me, I read books and read about history and about democracy, and I thought that democracy was all about debate, exchange, fair play. I read about Germany in the 1930s and the jackboots of the Nazis and how they shut down opposition, and I say that is the antithesis of democracy.
Here I am, and sometimes I say to myself that even though I have not yet spent quite two years here in this Legislature, I am surely going to go to heaven because, in the past two years, I have spent my time in Hades.
Mr Kormos: The hell, you say. He is from Hades Street. Danny Sandford is opposed. He is a veteran. He knows what I am talking about when I am talking about jackboot tactics. He knows what I am talking about when I am talking about trying to preserve some very fundamental things about our democratic system.
Mr Kormos: Roy Armstrong from Mississauga phones in. He is in full support of what we are trying to do. Homer Krug from Windsor hopes that we are successful in fighting Bill 68. I tell you that. You know what? Angelo Bucciarelli drops by with his business card. He is a realtor. Angelo Bucciarelli from the National Group Realty Services Inc.
Angelo Bucciarelli is a sales rep from National Group Realty Services Inc up on Wilson Avenue in Downsview. All I can tell you is that if Angelo Bucciarelli had a property listed, I would be looking to him for real fair, honest, straightforward dealing. I tell you, Angelo Bucciarelli works for National Group Realty. He is a guy, I tell you, you can trust.
He sends a card. It says: “Dear Mr Kormos: Please keep going. You’re doing beautifully. No-fault stinks and” -- he does not say very many complimentary things about the government. But it is awfully hard to say complimentary things about the government when it is trying to ram this legislation through, is it not?
You see, Angelo Bucciarelli came down from Downsview tonight. He brought some friends with him. Angelo Bucciarelli is not going to be shut out of his own Parliament. Angelo Bucciarelli is not going to tolerate closure, because do not forget, Mr Speaker, this closure motion -- and all these people calling at area code 416-965-1224, every single one of them, are calling because they will not tolerate a shutdown of debate. They will not tolerate the Liberals seizing Parliament. They are seizing it with their majority as readily as it would be seized with guns and barricades. Remember what happened a little while ago? There were some people here -- and again, I know the Speaker was in a horribly difficult position.
Rochelle and Jeff Smythe from Welland phone in at 965-1224 and they say, “Keep talking.” Had it not been for Rochelle and Jeff Smythe calling in, I was thinking about ending this, but because Rochelle and Jeff Smythe phoned in, I am good for another 10 hours. I will tell you that, Mr Speaker.
And you know what? Regardless of what happens, regardless of what people see on their TV screens, we are going to go all night and all morning. You know what? We are going to be here in time for the early editions of the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun. We are going to be here in time for the late editions of the Globe, the Star and the Sun come Friday 27 April 1990, regardless of what happens. I am telling you, Mr Speaker, I have not even started to deal with this material. I tell you what, I have not started to deal with this stuff here or the rest of this stuff beside my desk.
The Speaker: Order. Just a moment. I want to remind all members of standing order 20(b). I will recognize the one member to speak. I would also like, before I recognize the member, to advise all our visitors we are glad to have them here, but they are not allowed to participate in any way or demonstrate in any way.