The House met at 10 a.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
MUNICIPAL COUNCIL RETIREMENT ALLOWANCES ACT
Mr. Cureatz moved second reading of Bill 75, An Act to establish the Municipal Council Retirement Fund and to provide Retirement Allowances to Municipal Councillors.
With the limited amount of time I have, which I am not used to, we will do our best on a Thursday morning with the snowstorm blazing about. I am sure that in the Ottawa Valley, the House leader is going to have much difficulty finding his way home. He will just have to stay in the big city for another night or two and I know how sorely he will be missed in his riding.
Of course, I always want to thank the translators in our booth across the way. When I have the opportunity of saying a few words, I think it is important to acknowledge them. There are people whom I call the Star Wars monitors up on the third floor someplace who are operating all these wonderful cameras. I say to the House leader that the only thing we are missing is a colour commentator. I have been mentioning this for a long time.
In regard to my proposed piece of legislation right here, as clear as it is, for legalese purposes it is quite long, intensive and in-depth. I did not particularly want it that way, but working through the offices of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, a lady solicitor whose name is Susan Klein did an excellent job of research for me in terms of putting down on paper -- boy, did she put down on paper -- some of the thoughts and ideas I have.
I say to the House leader that the difficulty is, even when someone is as vocal and clear as l know I am from time to time, there are people dialling in on television at this very moment across Ontario who just may not quite grasp the whole context, first, of my proposed bill -- the Municipal Council Retirement Allowances Act, 1987 -- or for that matter, heaven forbid, even understand and fully appreciate the full functioning here of this chamber, I say to the member for Durham-York (Mr. Ballinger).
It would be nice, I say to the member for Durham West (Mrs. Stoner), if we had a colour commentator. Actually, I am going to bring this up later in a bill. We have a lot of time; I think, for me, another three years before the next go-around. I am going to bring up in a private member's bill that we should have a colour commentator. We have some great people such as Rosemary Speirs, and Bob Fisher from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. They could sit in the magic booth up there and every now and again override the speaker; not you Madam Speaker, but the person who is speaking at his or her spot. I know it could be a little dicey.
To finish off that aspect, we will get into some details. I say to the members, for those of them who have viewers and constituents across Ontario who tune in from time to time, surprisingly enough I get the odd letter from people across Ontario who indicate an appreciation -- I even showed one to the House leader -- of my explaining what is taking place around here because, believe it or not, people do not know. After all, those new Liberal back-benchers still do not know what is going on around here. I see them wandering around lost in a fog. It would be helpful if we had a colour commentator to override the person speaking so that he could explain what is taking place here.
As to what is taking place here this morning at 10 o'clock, as we all try to wake up in anticipation of the last question period coming up at 1:30 p.m., before we get on to other committees, the recess and then come back for the spring session, we are talking about a proposed piece of legislation, the Municipal Council Retirement Allowances Act.
I say to the people at home that we will all be interested to see which way this goes. It is supposedly a free vote here in the chamber, although I admit, from past experiences on the government side, quite often the whip over there, in the days when we were the government, would try to whip all the back-benchers into shape, saying: "Oh no, you cannot vote in a particular way on this because it is going to affect some other minister's legislation. You have to do what you are told." But I know that under this new Liberal administration, freedom and openness prevail so that when the vote finally comes --
Freedom will prevail and we will see individually how it carries. I say to the people at home that if it passes it does not mean it becomes law, because it is up to the government -- the four front people; the Premier (Mr. Peterson), the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), the House leader (Mr. Conway) and the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), who really run everything around here -- to decide if it will become law by being asked to come forward for third reading and assent by the Lieutenant Governor. I am not holding my breath on that one.
I am not holding my breath for a couple of reasons. It is interesting that since I proposed the legislation, I have received a number of phone calls and letters from municipalities across Ontario. We have stirred up some interest. Indeed, the bill is not infallible. There are some mistakes in it. But the whole idea was to bring it forward and have some discussion so that we can talk about the general issue of trying to get people more involved in politics, at all levels of politics, be it municipal, provincial or federal. Boards of trustees is an area I missed that was brought forward to my attention by various trustees across Ontario. They would like to have coverage under the umbrella of the proposed legislation.
The idea in bringing forward this bill is to have some discussion among us here, to have some feedback across Ontario and to try to stir up some interest from people in Ontario so that if they are considering getting interested in politics and running for politics, they could look at it as a career, as establishing, in terms of what some of us have established in our own professions, in our own businesses, a long-term approach, albeit it can be a little hairy because after all we succumb to the electorate from time to time. They may cut our careers short. On the other hand, there are one or two of us, I say to my alerted colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), who has been here much longer than I have and has established a long career. I give him credit for that.
We should be encouraging people at the municipal level to also establish long careers. I am sure all of us who have been involved in politics, and those of us who have had the opportunity to serve at municipal council -- I have not had that opportunity, but we know people who have -- feel we should be encouraging people like that to stay in municipal government and to keep running and encouraging other people to run in politics.
What is one small way of giving them encouragement? I see the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins) has been talking about the limitation of funding, the manner in which those particular councillors can attract funding to fund their campaigns, but we should help them on the other side.
I know this falls under the ambit of, "Oh, no. Here are politicians looking after themselves again." It is the same old routine that we went through just before Christmas about our own salary increases. I will tell the members, that one has not been resolved yet. Eventually, one government, one day, is going to have to take it out of our hands and set it up where it should go, which is up to the commission. Let the independent body decide similar to what we have now, an independent body in the conflict-of-interest act we just passed this week.
In any event, we should allow the councillors the opportunity of looking at politics as a career, and one way of encouraging them is to provide the opportunity for them to establish a pension fund for themselves after a set number of years. There are details in the legislation that lay that out. We would not want to particularly say that a person should serve for 20 years and then should be entitled to a pension, but our own scheme here is the serving of five years. So I picked that particular number. If you serve five years, that would at least ensure that you ran for two terms, and then you should be able to establish a pension fund for yourself.
Well, I will have to say to you, Madam Speaker, and all my other learned colleagues here who are so interested, and for those who are not around -- I know they will be reading Hansard later tonight just before they retire so they can be brought up to date on my particular comments -- I am a titch ill prepared for my debate because I was anticipating we would have the long recess and then when we came back for the spring session, I would have all the necessary documentation prepared. What happened? We had to sit through Christmas. We are back again for this short week, and lo and behold, here I am.
What I attempted to do -- and I will let the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr. Keyes) know -- was I sent a copy of the bill to all the municipalities across Ontario asking for some feedback and some information and some thought process, and that has just started to come in. We have not had as much as I had hoped and we were thinking that over the time lapse, as I indicated, we would have had more so that we would have a fuller discussion, but we will work with what we have. The indication from some municipalities, it was brought to my attention, is that there is a provision where some councillors, if the council so votes within itself to establish a pension fund, can indeed do so. They were concerned that such an act might affect that fund.
Well, I have to confess: We did not make provision for that under the legislation. That can be corrected easily enough; we can amend that at some future time in so far as if the government adopts the proposals so that it can make the amendment. The point is that we did not specifically want those particular pension funds to be affected for those municipal councillors who have already voted themselves a pension program.
The other area we could have concentrated on was indeed to look at the school board trustee level. Indeed, we made no provision for those people who have made a career out of serving their communities at the public school trustee level. There is an individual in the city of Oshawa, George Saywell, who I believe is the longest-serving public school trustee in the province of Ontario. I believe it is well over 30 years.
In any event, that is another little aspect of the legislation that we missed, and if I had put my mind to it, I would have made provisions so that we could encourage people who are trying to make a long-term career of putting some input, some of their concern, at the public school or the separate school boards, so that we should have made some provision for them also.
Now, the point of the matter is that we have had some phone calls and letters from across Ontario in regard to this particular piece of legislation. We were hoping to have greater input but indeed will still be recommending a discussion next year with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the rural municipalities of Ontario, some further input from them and some discussion in terms of how they would look at the matter.
Of course, one would think they would be appreciative of us taking this very sensitive topic in terms of politicians looking after themselves out of their hands. It would allow us to make that particular decision in terms of providing some kind of pension benefits for those people who are seeking a municipal career.
I know all members know people who have served, I can think of the member for Durham-York, the former mayor of Uxbridge. He knows municipal people at the Durham Regional Council who have approached me on the bill, one being the mayor of Pickering who has been very supportive of the legislation. Of course, they have been hesitant, I suppose, at the council of Pickering to come forward with their own piece of legislation for pensions because it takes it out of their hands and lets us decide.
If we are the greater body -- indeed, under legislation, the municipalities get their power from Ontario -- that being the case, then we should take the ball and look at the problem very responsibly and say: "Let us try to encourage. Let us try to get more people involved at the municipal and trustee levels of government." Indeed, one way that we can show leadership, one way that we can get enthusiastic about the proposal is to provide a kind of pension fund so those individuals feel a little more secure that they are going to have something established monetarily, besides the gold watch and a fancy little plaque when they finally finish their careers in politics or, indeed, when the electorate decides that their careers are finished.
Time is marching on. I have almost five minutes left, which we will try to retain, so I can respond to other members; but I just wanted to wind up with these remarks until later in the morning.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs, the member for Victoria-Haliburton -- someone with whom I get along very well, my neighbour to the north, and indeed I say that we have always been co-operative -- has, interestingly enough, sent me a letter which I guess other members have received, advising me that, "To help meet the needs of elected members of municipal councils and to increase public awareness of local government, my ministry's municipal education and training secretariat will be conducting a series of seminars across the province in February and March."
I think that is a good idea. I think it is good for the province for the minister and his staff to take leadership to, again, follow through with a program to help those new councillors, just as all the newly elected members here had a little program at the beginning of the session, it being instructive in terms of setting up a riding office, how to find appropriate staff and how to find their way around the maze at Queen's Park. I think it is good for the minister and the government to take leadership in terms of helping those newly elected municipal councillors with the municipal election coming up this year.
He could have added a nice little cap to the whole thing by saying: "We are going to be looking at the possibility of specific legislation for setting up a pension for those people who want to have a career in municipal politics or being a school board trustee so that we can encourage you to stay in because we want people across Ontario to feel comfortable. Indeed, when they have lots to offer, we are proud to provide to them the availability of a small monetary pension so that upon their leaving or upon, indeed, the electorate deciding that they should leave, they will feel that the contribution has been worth while, besides getting that particular gold watch, fancy plaque or the licence plate `XMAYOR.'" Is that what they gave the member for Durham-York?
We want to get something a little beyond that, and that is what the legislation is all about. There are some areas in it as, indeed, we have well found, but the idea was to have a discussion paper. We talk about red papers, green papers and white papers; this is the Sam paper on the municipal pension plan, to have further discussion, airing of views and working towards at a future date the possibility of establishing such a piece of legislation.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for my time and l will reserve the last three humble minutes for the conclusion of my debate.
Having heard the honourable member who sponsored this bill, I am tempted, for the benefit of the television viewers watching, to clarify the issue of the day by reading the entire bill during my 10 minutes. l believe those of us who were in the House during the debate on the resolution on free trade did experience that with the honourable member. However --
However, there are some comments I feel should be made regarding this bill. First, l would commend the member for tackling this sensitive topic and recognizing the importance of municipal councillors in Ontario. There are over 800 municipalities, not to mention all the many school boards and public utilities commissions on which citizens serve.
The general intent of the bill, which is to encourage citizens to be attracted to serve in municipal government and to provide them with some pension upon completion of their service, is perhaps a good intent. However, I am also pleased that the member has initiated consultation with the municipalities because, indeed, there is discussion going on between the ministry and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario on this very topic.
However, it is our impression that the vast majority of municipalities in the province are not interested in this particular concept. There is some interest in the larger urban municipalities, where councillors tend to be more full-time councillors. It is therefore important that any legislation passed by the provincial government reflect the diversity of the province and allow for local option at the municipal council level which, indeed, is already permitted across Ontario. Municipal councils can opt into the existing Ontario municipal employees retirement system plan. This has worked well. Some municipal councils that feel they need a pension plan have opted into the plan; other municipal councils that feel they do not want it have not done so.
There might be some improvements that could be considered with regard to the present approach, and I could name two improvements that might be considered. First, in some councils the mayor is virtually full-time and the aldermen are not. When you opt in under the present scheme, you must opt in all the members of council. There is not a possibility just to opt in the mayor's position.
In some cases, because the aldermanic positions are part-time, the councils have voted not to do it. In other situations, opting in for all of the councillors does create a hardship for some members of council. If a person is serving in business and he is on council part-time and the council votes to opt in to the OMERS plan, sometimes it is a pittance of a pension. Yet having that pension registered on the income tax form reduces the amount that the person can contribute to his private registered retirement savings plans. So it does create a hardship for some municipal councillors if the entire council opts in.
Having pointed out the need for flexibility, I can point out one particularly vexing problem with regard to the bill that is proposed by the honourable member, which is that this bill would make it compulsory for all municipal councillors; at least that is the stated intent. The member, on the other hand, probably by error, misdefined what a municipality is.
There is an intention that it apply to all councillors, but under the definition of "municipality," it says: "`municipality' includes a metropolitan, regional and district municipality and the county of Oxford." So while his intent was to include all municipalities, he has left out all lower-tier municipalities, all school boards, all public utilities commissions and separated cities across the province. So even the stated intent is not achieved. The bill does have a number of flaws in this regard.
Second, if members look at subsection 9(3) of the bill -- and I will read it for the honourable members: "Subject to subsection 14(3), the amount of a person's annual allowance" -- this is the pension that the person would receive upon retirement -- "under this section shall be an amount equal to 75 per cent of the total of his or her contributions as a councillor, but the amount of the allowance shall not exceed the amount of his or her indemnity."
Let us assume that a councillor has served the minimum five years and makes contributions over the five years. According to this payment formula, 75 per cent of what he contributed during that entire five years would be paid out in the first year. The plan would be bankrupt within two years. This plan is not actuarially sound.
Perhaps the honourable member, in drafting this bill, meant to say a percentage of the salary or the honorarium of the councillor averaged over five years or whatever. If that was the intent, then that is not what is stated here. Having checked with some experts on this, I find that this plan would be seriously flawed; it would be bankrupt within two to three years. Assuming that there might be some interest earned on those contributions, it would be bankrupt within at least three years. So it is not a long-standing plan at all.
Another major flaw in this bill is that the bill makes it compulsory for all councillors to be enrolled in this plan and establishes this municipal retirement fund. However, the bill nowhere gives municipalities the authority to raise the money to pay for it. Municipalities are mandated to have this approach but are not given the power to act to implement it. So there are certain problems there.
Another flaw -- not a flaw but a difficulty that might be faced by municipalities in implementing this -- is that the retirement age is set at 55. This may create some concern for municipalities across Ontario when they have been trying to maintain a retirement age of 60 for police and firemen and a retirement age of 65 for most municipal employees. To set the retirement age at 55 for the councillors might create a precedent that many municipalities would not want to look at.
In conclusion, I commend the member for raising the issue. I think that is his purpose. He himself has admitted that there are some flaws that he has picked up in feedback from municipalities. I think it is a topic worthy of discussion and l urge the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and its respective sections to review this topic. There may indeed be a need for changes in the existing provisions which allow a municipality, at its request, at its option, to opt into the current OMERS plan. As I mentioned, there might be some need for improvement in these areas and this is being considered.
Some municipalities have not been satisfied with the OMERS plan and have approached the province for private legislation. In one or two cases, private legislation has been granted to structure a retirement fund specifically tailored to the needs of a particular municipality. I think that reflects what this province should be doing. It should recognize the great diversity that exists across Ontario.
Whatever kind of retirement scheme is put in place or the authority to implement one should be done with a clear local option and with some ability for flexibility at the local level, because there is quite a significant difference between a municipality like Mississauga or Ottawa or Metropolitan Toronto and a municipality like the township of Tiny or the township of Oro or the village of whatever. These smaller municipalities do not have the same degree of interest, and the vast majority of municipalities across Ontario are smaller municipalities.
In conclusion, the bill has a worthy intent -- and I commend the member for it -- and that is to raise the profile of municipal councillors who serve very often for very little benefit. They take the criticism of their citizens, they serve, and I am sure they get their rewards from seeing things done in their local municipalities. The intent here is to raise the interest and the profile of municipal councillors across the province, to encourage involvement and participation.
I think it is a very worthy intent but I cannot support the bill as worded. As I pointed out, it does have a number of serious flaws in it. I can assure the member that the matter is being reviewed by AMO and, hopefully, some changes will come about.
As the member noted, I observed when he introduced the bill today, there are some pretty serious flaws in here and it would take some considerable amount of work at the committee level to correct some of those problems. An obvious one would be that there are a lot of people who are elected at the local level who have been excluded by the bill, and I do not believe that was the intention. I would certainly want to see that there was provision for some pension fund application for people who provide that same kind of service on a school board or on a public utilities commission. I think there are a number of ways that one can go about that.
It is interesting that the member for Brantford (Mr. Neumann), when he spoke, gave the old litany that we have heard for the last 44 years about how you can already do this. The reason most councils are not really very interested in participating in what is called the Ontario municipal employees retirement system fund is that it is such a lousy pension plan. While many of them ironically deem it to be good enough for their employees, they cannot see it as a pension plan for themselves.
If the government wants to take this notion and expand upon it, maybe one of the best things it could do, something that would make that plan more attractive to people who are on councils, is to just make it more attractive in general so that people who are employees of a municipality could have a decent pension plan, which in my view they do not have now. There is an option that should be explored, to take the existing OMERS pension plan, which is already in place; and the attractiveness, of course, is that it does not require then that we set up a new mechanism and a new plan and all of that. If we took that plan and made it a more decent retirement fund for all municipal employees, then we might well find that more municipal councils would like to participate in that process.
There are, I think, a couple of other things that have to be noted in here. There are a lot of different circumstances out there. One of the nice things about municipal politics in general, whether that is on a school board or a PUC or on a council, is that you do not all the time have to give up your current occupation to participate in the political process. It is one of the last places in Canadian politics now, I would say, where it is still possible in many communities to retain your employment and go off to a council meeting two or three nights a week. The difficulty, of course, is that in many of our centres even local government is becoming a very complicated piece of business and it is not possible for many of our citizens to retain an active interest in a business or in their profession and remain on a local council. I do believe that sooner or later we are going to have to make some provision of this kind, better than what we now have, for local elected people.
I do not think there is any question about it, that it is not really desirable to have only those who are affluent serving in public office at the local level. I think the idea of politics in general is very simply to gather not the brightest, the best and the wealthiest but a good cross-section of your community, whether that is on a local council or in a Legislature like this one. It does not mean that only the rich can serve in public office, or it should not; when you get it to that point, then you do have to deal with the mechanics of it all, that somehow people who serve on a local council have the same rights as everybody else does to some kind of pension plan. They do not, in my view, have that option now.
It is conceivable and it is possible, for example, to have a local council put all of the people on that council into the OMERS, the municipal employees retirement fund, but the difficulty, as the member for Brantford pointed out again, is another classic case of Liberalism. So many rules and regulations are set in place that you cannot possibly attain the goal; the whole council must be involved in it, even though in a local municipality it might well only be appropriate for the one person who is full-time -- that might be a mayor or a reeve; he or she might be the only person on that council who has a legitimate need -- and yet the rules are structured in such a way that the whole council must go into the plan or no one can.
I think the member has admitted his faults when he introduced the bill. Sometimes the member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) does startle us -- he occasionally lapses into honesty, and it throws the whole system off here -- but he began the process this morning by admitting that the bill itself is flawed. I do not think that really should mean at this stage of the game that we throw the bill out completely. In normal parliamentary structure, the process would be very simply that at this stage we would debate in principle whether this is a good idea or not. l believe, quite frankly, that it is. We would then send it to committee, and committee is where we would go through the bill clause by clause, pose various amendments, include other people who should have been included in this bill when it was drafted initially and perhaps give some consideration to setting up a separate fund, if you really want to do that, and I am not convinced that that is the best way to go.
I know that there is a need to incorporate into this type of legislation a lot of flexibility, and it seems to me that this bill as it is currently drafted really does not do that very well. It would require a lot of work at the committee stage to consider all of the options that have to be incorporated into this bill, to consider the different circumstances that people find themselves in when they are, I think, put at a political disadvantage by taking public office.
I would say that part of it is the most important part. We are probably at a stage in the development of our political process now in Ontario where there is a fairly large number of people who are put at a decided economic disadvantage because they choose to take some kind of public office. I do not believe that should be the case. I would always advocate that people who go into public office to make money are crazy and should never be elected. But I do not believe either that people who serve the public ought to pay an economic penalty.
I think there are all kinds of other penalties that we are willing to pay, and my wife and I have this argument annually -- that it is fair game to say that there is more demand on you, that you have less privacy, that people who have complaints have a right to bring them to you and you have an obligation as a public servant of some kind at some level to hear them and try to help them -- but it is unfair to put an economic disadvantage in place in addition to all of these other ones.
The purpose of the bill should simply be to see that people who serve on a local council have access to a reasonable pension plan, and if it means, as it does now, that they are cut off from that by virtue of the fact that they get elected to a local town council, that is wrong, in my view. In my own instance, for example, I know of a number of people who were teachers, who had a good teachers' superannuation plan, who began their political careers by getting involved with politics at the local level. Some of them have gotten involved to the extent that they cannot continue teaching; that means they are excluded from the teachers' superannuation plan. Some of them -- again a myriad of regulations pops up on the scene -- can continue to pay into the teachers' plan, so they have a retirement plan. Others, through circumstances beyond their control, are excluded from that. I believe that is a basic unfairness that at some point in time we have to address.
I commend the member for his initiative and for his honesty in putting forward a bill this morning that is flawed, but at this stage of debate we are supposedly debating the bill in principle. While we could go on at some length about all the things that are wrong with this bill, I believe the principle is correct. I believe that there ought to be put in place a pension plan of reasonable proportions that gives people at the local municipal level, whether that is a school board, a PUC or a council, or whatever the position might be, access to a decent pension plan. That is the principle of the bill, and that is the part that I would support.
I think the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the member for Brantford, has pointed out a significant problem with existing legislation dealing with OMERS. That particular problem was highlighted in a letter to me from the city of Kanata, which is a city of 30,000 people where even the mayor is not a full-time politician. It was felt by the majority of their council that they could not opt for the OMERS kind of pension, because the majority of the council could not afford to give up their private pension plans, which they had in the guise of a registered retirement savings plan.
What happens if you get involved in a pension plan, even if you have a contribution of $1 per year, is that it reduces your eligibility to contribute to an RRSP from $7,500 to $3,500. In most cases, when we are dealing with councillors who are getting paid relatively minor amounts of money, considering the loss of the access to their existing long-term pension plans, which they have set up for themselves, and the fact that they cannot count on being elected from time to time, then they would prefer to opt out of the OMERS plan.
I wrote to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I believe it was three or four years ago, with regard to the problem of individuals within councils being able to opt out once a council had opted into the OMERS plan. Unfortunately, no action was taken at that time. I hope that by the member for Durham East bringing forward this bill, at the very least the government will deal with the particular problem of individuals opting out of the OMERS plan. I cannot understand why it would be a problem for an individual to opt out of that particular plan if he or she so chose.
One of the objections of the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the member for Brantford, was the compulsory nature of this particular piece of legislation. I believe the compulsory nature of the legislation is a good thing. In many small municipalities, it is a very delicate matter for municipal politicians to vote themselves a pension when they are representing a very small area. I do not think the pension should be very large, if in fact their duties are not very heavy, but in a lot of cases, when you get into small towns of less than 1,000, you are really talking neighbour against neighbour.
I think the compulsory nature of this legislation should be there, with an option for a municipality to opt back out if that would be its choice. In other words, the positive step would be coming back out rather than going in. I also believe there should be an opting-out provision for each and every elected municipal politician across the province.
I will not take too much more time, other than to say that I think it is an important issue which the member for Durham East has raised. Sure, there are some flaws with regard to the bill, but there is nothing in it that cannot be remedied in a committee. I know from his statement to the Legislature that he is open to reasonable argument with regard to any part of the bill. I think what he wants to see is a fair break put forward for municipal councillors who, in general, are underpaid for what they do across this province, particularly in smaller municipalities. I laud him in his efforts to bring this issue to the fore.
I must say that I feel some guilt in taking this position. My guilt comes principally from two causes. One is my respect for elected municipal officials and the other is my respect for the member for Durham East, the sponsor of the bill.
With regard to my respect for elected municipal officials, I would like to share with the members, if I might, my vision of politics and government in Canada.
When I think of politics and government in Canada, I think of a fortified hill. At the top of the hill, deep in the ground in a safe and comfortable c ave, is the federal government watching events on the outside on television. Around the outside of this fortified hill there is a system of trenches with comfortable bunkers in which we, the provincial elected officials, operate. We have to go out into the outside world and take a great deal of heat, but we do occasionally get back into our comfortable bivouacs and can rest.
Around the base of this fortified hill, there is a system of trenches which have no roofs and are very muddy, where the elected municipal officials live and work all their elected lives. Those in municipal office deserve all the support and encouragement we can give them. In connection with that support, they deserve an excellent benefits package, including retirement allowances.
Unfortunately and sadly, Bill 75 is not the vehicle for those retirement benefits for those very worthy people. As my colleague the member for Brantford has indicated, the reason for that is that the bill contains many serious errors. It is not worthy of its important cause.
The second reason for my guilt in opposing this bill, as I mentioned, is my respect for the bill's sponsor, the member for Durham East. I have shared with members my vision of politics and government in Canada. Let me share my vision of the third party in this House.
In my vision of the third party, I see its members as a galaxy of stars. This is a galaxy of stars which, at the speed of light, is moving rapidly away from the galaxy in which the rest of us live. In that galaxy of stars, which is moving away so rapidly, in that galaxy of rapidly fading stars, I see the member for Durham East as a shining light. Although almost invariably we disagree with what he says when he speaks, we listen. We believe his intentions are excellent and his political instincts are excellent. We believe his cause is a really good one. It is very unfortunate, as my colleague the member for Brantford has indicated, that he has chosen this dangerously flawed bill as the basis for his intentions on this particular occasion.
Our problems with the bill include the very vocabulary, the wording of the bill, the way it is phrased and its financial basis.
First of all, let us look at the definition of "municipal," for example. This deals with elected municipal officials. The definitions become very important, as members know, in bills of this type. The definition of "municipal" simply does not address the extraordinary diversity of municipal government in Ontario today. As has been mentioned, where are the school boards? Where are the public utility commissions? Does it deal with small rural municipalities as well as it deals with urban municipalities? Does it deal with regional councils and so on? The very definitions of the bill are limited and unworthy of its cause.
My colleague the member for Brantford indicated that the bill is actuarially unsound. This means simply that it will not work financially and my colleague from Brantford has indicated his reasons for that. To give a simple example from subsection 9(3), the figure of 75 per cent is mentioned for the pension levels. As we know, the highest legal amount for pension contributions under the Income Tax Act is 70 per cent. Why the five per cent difference? Thought has not been given to these figures.
Then we have to ask if we really need a separate pension fund for these worthy municipal officials at this time. With all the limitations that have been mentioned, OMERS is serving many municipal councillors well at this time. I would suggest, and I accept the limitations that have been mentioned by some colleagues, that it provides a better basis for improvement at the present time than does Bill 75.
Under OMERS, local councils have the opportunity to buy into the plan by resolution, and many have done so. They can buy in on a contributory basis or a noncontributory basis. For example, my colleague the member for Sudbury (Mr. Campbell) advises that in his city the councillors are all involved in OMERS and the city pays the full expense, so they obtain retirement benefits fully at the municipality's expense.
My colleague the member for Mississauga West (Mr. Mahoney), on the other hand, says that in his municipality both the councillor and the municipality share the cost. He says to me that among other things the OMERS plan is very bad in terms of its portability. This is certainly something we should look at. We are very interested in elected representatives moving from one level of politics to another. We are also interested in people moving into elected office and moving back into their professions.
It seems to me that OMERS is a flexible, easily available option which already exists and we should work to improve it.
To be honest, I was surprised to hear representatives of the third party supporting the compulsory aspect of this bill. Given their political persuasion, I am very surprised they would support something which would be compulsory for thousands and thousands of elected officials. It seems to me that any plan that deals with this complicated matter should at least have the flexibility of being optional, so we have concern with the compulsory aspect too.
Briefly, this is a worthy cause, but an ineffective and probably unnecessary response to that cause. I would say in closing, "Say it again, Sam, in a better way, and you would have our support."
I must vote against Bill 75.
The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) wants to say a word or two.
On second reading, we are dealing with the principle. If my colleagues in the Liberal Party who have spoken on this private member's bill indicate that they agree with the principle of providing pension benefits for municipal politicians who are out there every day in the trenches and deserve disability pay after the difficulties they are going to experience in municipal politics day to day, I think they might consider supporting the legislation in principle and then deal with questions of definition or even changes in percentages in committee and present amendments to the bill, or for that matter, consider the possibility that we might hold hearings at which members of municipal councils across the province might be able to make their views clear on what ways this legislation and the principle might be implemented.
I am sure my friend the member for Durham East would agree that would be an approach that might be taken, that we could benefit from the views of municipal politicians, participants at the municipal level across the province on ways this legislation might be improved. None of us who present legislation in this House, no matter how carefully drafted, ever claim that it is perfect and could not be amended to improve it.
I really do think that if we all value the work done by municipal politicians and if we recognize that more and more often it is difficult to maintain one's own private profession while participating in political activity at the municipal level, then we should be attempting to protect the pension eligibility of people who present themselves for election at the municipal level. I call upon the members of the House to consider carefully that what we are discussing here today is the principle of providing pension benefits for municipal politicians, and that there is nothing in passing it on second reading that means we cannot amend the legislation to improve it.
I say to all the Liberal back-benchers who are here that it is interesting where I get the support from -- indeed from the New Democratic Party, but more important from some members who have been around here for a good length of time such as the member for Oshawa and the member for Algoma. I do not see one cabinet minister of substance here this morning debating this very important issue affecting municipal councillors across Ontario. The member for Oshawa and the member for Algoma know very well --
In any event, the more learned members of this learned assembly, the member for Oshawa and the member for Algoma -- who have been around for a while -- have grasped the gist of the legislation, that we are looking at the principle on second reading. We are looking at the idea of what we are trying to do.
I say to the member for Brantford and the member for Peterborough that they have kow-towed again to the four horsepeople of the apocalypse. They have again taken those members down the path of getting all that civil-servant staff and saying: "Look at the details of the legislation. Find out every doggone clause that is wrong with it and then you are going to speak against it."
Members opposite have been told again they have no independence. Let them go back to their own municipalities -- I say to the former mayor -- let them go back to their own councillors in their own ridings and say, "We love you all." As the member for Oshawa says, it is typical Liberalism. I am not as sarcastic as he is, nor could ever be. I just say it is typical government. Members opposite are playing the back-bench role again, being told by the Four Horsepeople what to do. Let them make sure they go back and support the legislation. We will be looking with great interest to see if the --
Mr. Daigeler moved resolution 14:
That, in the opinion of the House, and in the interest of improved understanding between English- and French-Canadians, the government of Ontario be invited to promote more wide ranging exchanges between francophone and anglophone communities in this country, and specifically, that the government of Ontario be encouraged to establish twinning programs for Ontario and Quebec municipalities.
The concern that I wish to address in the motion before us today arises out of personal experiences during my election campaign. I am sure, however, that my own experience was shared by many others across this province. Like myself, many members of this House will have met during the election Ontario citizens who expressed grave reservations about the extension of French-language services through Bill 8.
For some, this hesitancy was based on a lack of information about the actual government intentions. Many others, at least in eastern Ontario, were opposed to francophone rights on less defensible grounds. They saw, and continue to see, the extension of francophone services as an unwarranted expense for a minority and an intrusion into the accustomed privileges of the anglophone majority. This attitude, which I regret greatly, was expressed too often and in too strident a tone for us to neglect this phenomenon. We cannot sidestep the feelings and perceptions about our country which lie at the root of this attitude.
At least in my area, I was faced with what I can only describe as a very unhealthy degree of antagonism and suspicion between a significant number of English- and French-speaking Canadians. I do not wish to give a detailed account of certain unpleasant memories, other than to remind this House that the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada-inspired independent candidate in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry received almost 5,000 votes in the last election. As legislators, we must take courageous steps to rectify this unfortunate state of affairs. Let us work towards a new era of welcome and appreciation between the English and French partners of Confederation.
The motion that I am placing before this House today is one way to move us forward in this direction. Acknowledging the good work that has been done to date, and especially the renewed efforts over the last two years, my motion encourages the government to go even further and to adopt as a major priority the improvement of French-English relations in this country.
Comme je l'ai indiqué dans ma motion, un moyen important d'améliorer la compréhension mutuelle de personnes venant de diverses cultures, est d'entretenir des contacts interpersonnels réguliers et fréquents. Mon expérience personnelle en tant qu'étudiant en Europe, et les efforts gouvernementaux depuis les années 70, nous confirment que les programmes d'échanges sont d'excellents moyens de bâtir une conscience nouvelle, ainsi que de la tolérance et de la compréhension interculturelle partout dans le pays.
For the benefit of this House, for the viewers on television and for the readers of Hansard, I would like to give a brief overview of the relevant provincial programs currently in place and of their limits. I am grateful to Ann Porter of the legislative research service, who has prepared this information at my request.
Ontario government initiatives include, first of all, a cultural exchange program. This program is delivered by the Ministry of Culture and Communications. It includes activities such as dance, theatre, printmaking, concerts and so on. For example, last year the ministry supported Quebec artists working in Sault Ste. Marie and Ontario artists working in Magog.
Programs delivered by the Ministry of Education include the Ontario-Quebec student exchange program where 16- to 17-year-old high school students are twinned with someone in the other province. The students reside in each other's homes and attend their twin's school for three months. From all accounts, this is a very successful and popular initiative. In 1986-87, 184 Ontario students were involved in this exchange.
The Ontario-Quebec class twinning program also falls under the direction of the Ministry of Education. There the exchange takes place through correspondence and information sharing; 81 classes took part last year.
Finally, there is the possibility for school principals to go to Quebec for a week. Only two principals participated in this program last year.
The Ministry of Colleges and Universities funds student and staff exchanges at the community college level; 150 individuals from each province participated in this initiative last year. At the university level, grants are available for joint research projects for exchanges between Ontario and Quebec faculty, staff and students. Finally, for graduate studies in the other province we have 10 fellowships available.
Third, there are exchange programs for civil servants organized by the Ontario human resources secretariat. Summer student exchange programs give 100 university students from each province an opportunity to work for 13 weeks in the civil service of the other province. A civil servant exchange program is targeted for people in senior management positions. Only two individuals participated in 1986-87.
Plusieurs évaluations des programmes existants ont mesuré leur impact vis-à-vis des attitudes et des motivations des participants et participantes. Même si quelques études académiques n'ont pas pu établir un changement majeur, en général, les résultats sont très encourageants. La plupart des participants et participantes démontrent une connaissance plus approfondie de l'autre culture, ils ont des attitudes plus favorables et ouvertes envers les autres et une motivation plus ferme à apprendre soit l'anglais ou le français.
Some limitations of the program have also been identified. These limits include the fact that a fairly limited group of students are involved, both in terms of background and geographic location. An evaluation of the 1978 summer exchange programs done by the Bilingual Exchange Secretariat found that only one per cent of the participants from Ontario came from homes where the father was in an unskilled occupation or was unemployed, while 47 per cent came from homes where the father was a professional or in a high-level management position. They also found that visible minorities were virtually absent from the program and that members of nonvisible ethnic groups participated only in very small numbers. In addition, only a limited number of Ontario school boards participated in the exchanges.
The tendency of the programs to draw on a limited and small group of students was confirmed to the parliamentary research office by an Ontario government official who pointed out that it is mainly students from middle class backgrounds who are able to participate in the summer exchange programs. They are the only ones who can afford not to work in the summer.
Finally, figures from the Ontario government on the number of program participants indicate that it is a fairly small percentage of the total population who are able to take part in such programs. This limits the ability of such programs to influence overall attitudes towards the other language group.
The principal formal structure through which these programs have been encouraged and co-ordinated since 1969 has been the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-Operation. The creation of this body grew out of a recommendation by the Ontario Advisory Committee on Confederation at its meeting in April 1965. Already at that time the committee suggested that one way to increase mutual understanding and respect between francophones and anglophones would be through a program of exchanges.
As a result, the Ontario-Quebec Permanent Commission was established based on the firm belief "that increased co-operation between our two provinces is essential to the continued strength of the country."
In terms of programs, the 1969 agreement specified the following areas: language training, government administration, education and culture. As I described earlier, a good many activities were put in place in these fields; however, with the coming into power of the Parti québécois, interest in the commission waned. Since 1985, relations between the two provinces have changed dramatically. As a result, a new will exists within the two governments to revitalize exchanges and the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-Operation.
The first full meeting of all members of the revitalized commission took place last April in Quebec City. At that time, the mandate of the commission was renewed and priorities were established. I applaud and strongly support the renewed objectives of the commission which were phrased in this way: "To foster better understanding and co-operation between the people and governments of the two provinces." This objective is affirmed "as a part of the larger goal of ensuring that a relationship of good will, respect and trust is firmly maintained between Ontario and Quebec."
Especially in view of the limitations of the current exchange programs, I am very pleased to note that the commission has been asked to set new directions and to develop new co-operative ventures. Specifically, I wish to bring to the attention of this House that, as stated in its renewed mandate, the commission will sponsor exchange programs and activities which enable large numbers of people and groups to experience the other province's language and culture and to share expertise and undertake joint projects. The mandate makes a commitment that these programs and activities will be in a wide range of areas.
The description of existing programs and of the plans of the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-operation clearly shows that much good work is already being done, and I congratulate the premiers of both provinces as well as the senior bureaucrats involved in the renewal of the Ontario-Quebec commission. At the same time, the limits of the present efforts are also evident. For one, from the material provided to me it appears that the renewed commitment to exchange programs still is somewhat tenuous. I am hopeful that a strong motion from this House will provide the added political incentive to implement the renewed mandate of the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-operation with vigour and persistence
At the same time, I feel there is room to expand this mandate even further or, more specifically to expand the activities which flow from the committee's main objectives. One shortcoming that we must be especially careful about is the unintended upper-class focus of the present programs. Equally disturbing is the fact that so few members of ethnic minorities, especially visible minorities, benefit from the exchanges. I urge the ministries responsible for the current programs to make a special effort to include these groups in their allocations. I hope steps will be taken to increase the participation of all Ontario citizens, whatever their economic, ethnic or religious background.
Une nouvelle façon de promouvoir un intérêt et une participation plus répandus est la mise en place de fonds gouvernementaux qui encouragent les municipalités québécoises et ontariennes à signer des contrats de coopération et d'échanges. Plusieurs municipalités canadiennes ont déjà choisi des villes partout dans le monde comme partenaires et amies à long terme. Ma proposition d'aujourd'hui nous encourage à mettre cette expérience en application à l'intérieur de notre propre pays. N'est-ce pas le bon moment de profiter du fait heureux que, dans la province de Québec et ailleurs au pays, nous avons des communautés d'une culture autre que la civilisation anglaise?
My vision of municipal exchanges includes sports, recreation and cultural groups from one city making regular visits to the other. It includes exchanges at the political level, exchanges of business and professional groups and obviously among schools. All of these contacts should be aimed at relatively large numbers of people and encourage direct and ongoing contacts of individuals. One of the programs that has proven very popular in Europe is intercity games involving the people of each town in fun-filled tests of physical and intellectual skills. I hasten to add that language has proven no barrier to the creative minds of interested citizens and municipal planners.
In concluding, as I see it, the twinning of cities and towns will overcome that major shortcoming of existing programs, which is their appeal to a relatively small group of often already committed individuals. The involvement of groups will ensure that large numbers of people from all walks of life can learn about each other's hopes and aspirations. In this way, we will usher in a new era of understanding and respect between anglophones and francophones in this country. In the interest of a better tomorrow, I invite all members of this House to support my motion.
On se souvient du fait que l'histoire de ces projets reste très troublée, que c'est une histoire fondée dans une sorte de double tragédie qui est à la base de notre pays. C'est la tragédie d'un peuple qui a perdu son pays dans une conquête sur le champ de bataille et, deuxièmement, la tragédie, pour les anglophones, du fait que leur triomphe était en bataille, en guerre. Donc, nous avons eu à la base de notre histoire, malheureusement, un esprit d'hostilité entre les anglophones et les francophones.
Mais d'un autre point de vue, il y avait une tension, un conflit qui a généré beaucoup de richesse pour notre pays, richesse découlant des contacts variés, année après année, premièrement dans la région du Québec et, ensuite, partout dans le pays. Ce n'est pas une histoire de contacts sans problèmes vraiment, jusqu'ici. Aujourd'hui, on s'aperçoit, par exemple, qu'en Alberta, comme en Ontario, il y a des problèmes à l'égard de l'emploi de la langue française comme langue officielle de notre Législature.
J'apprécie beaucoup les recherches que le député de Nepean (M. Daigeler) a faites pour nous dans ce document. Il a présenté des programmes d'échanges qui éxistent maintenant entre les deux provinces, et c'est une base sur laquelle il est possible d'aller de l'avant, à l'avenir, avec des projets de jumelage, que j'appuie beaucoup.
Mais je pense qu'il est peut-être nécessaire de souligner l'importance des relations jour après jour, dans nos communautés, entre les francophones et les anglophones, municipalité par municipalité, partout en Ontario: à Sudbury, à Hamilton, ici à Toronto, etc.
Vraiment, il est possible d'apprécier les autres cultures « at arm's length ». Il y a une sorte de superficialité où on n'a pas de problème, jour après jour, comme on le constate, par exemple, à Sudbury ou à Hamilton. Ce sont les relations quotidiennes qui sont les plus importantes pour nous en Ontario, et si nous n'avions pas profité des occasions pour créer des organismes francophones ici en Ontario, ou si nous n'avions pas facilité des occasions pour l'épanouissement de la culture française en Ontario, pourquoi instaurions-nous des promotions d'échanges et de jumelage?
Donc, comme toujours, charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même. Oui, mais c'est avec un tel programme, par lequel les anglophones participent à l'épanouissement de la culture française et facilitent la création d'organismes français, qu'il est possible de triompher de l'esprit de malveillance et d'avancer l'esprit de bonne volonté entre les francophones et les anglophones dans notre pays et aussi en général, comme une sorte d'épanouissement de cet esprit même parmi tous les groupes multiculturels en Ontario.
It is a very interesting experience, I think, to grow up as an anglophone in this country. I grew up in British Columbia, and one of the most interesting aspects of my education in British Columbia was the excitement that I had conveyed to me through my teachers of the history of the movement of French peoples into North America, and particularly into what became British North America and the terrain that we call our own country.
It is that experience which made me, as a person, a citizen who inherited more than, if you like, my own lineal descent as an anglophone would have provided me. I became a participant in the annals of Cartier and Champlain, in the stories of Montcalm, Dollard des Ormeaux and all the great heroes of the development and the establishment of French culture in British North America.
It has been possible for me, as an anglophone, to maintain that in my own family: as one of the first families in the city of Regina, when we lived in Saskatchewan, to participate in immersion programs; since then to have my own children involved in some of the exchange programs the member for Nepean (Mr. Daigeler) has outlined and in fact to do a certain amount of twinning ourselves, as we took up residence in a French community in Quebec.
We experienced at first hand the kind of personal growth that could come from getting to know everyone from journalists to professors to workers of all kinds who lived in the community around about us. We experienced that on an ongoing basis, shovelling snow in the midst of a snowstorm with our neighbours and having ongoing, day-by-day exchanges. It is an experience that I would not exchange for anything I have had in any other part of my life's experience, nor would my family, my children and my wife.
What the member has put before us as a proposal for the twinning of communities would, I hope, be more than just a matter of a program that provides for occasional, very brief exchanges, but could perhaps grow into a kind of exchange, a kind of twinning that is very regular, very ongoing and permeates the daily life of the communities in question in important ways so that it is never forgotten.
I think one of the great secrets of our country and of our country's strength is that we have the bicultural and bilingual foundation we have and that it is possible to generate out of that experience an even richer multilingual and multicultural experience and to place our country in the front ranks of those whose relations with all the world are enriched and placed on a positive basis, by virtue of our language capacity, to intimately perceive the problems of other peoples and to relate to them in matters of trade, as in commerce, our cultural and political international life in ways that are enriching to the whole world.
When one begins a program like this one the member suggests, the consequences can be far-reaching indeed. I think it is a very healthy and happy motion that we have before us, and I am happy to support it.
Speaking of communication, I certainly hope that he and many other Liberal back-benchers with a great concern for the rights of the unborn did have some input in some of the decisions that were taken rather quickly by the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) in this province.
Communication is something that I believe we should all emphasize and emphasize more so now than ever before. As the member for Nepean mentioned in his opening statement, yes, eastern Ontario does have a perceived problem of communication between the French-speaking members of that area and the English-speaking members of that area.
As my honourable friend the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) said, il faut débuter chez soi, il faut communiquer chez soi. Je suis d'accord: Il est bon de communiquer et nous avons besoin de communiquer, de jumeler avec notre province avoisinante. Par contre, la bonne communication débute chez nous, entre nos Ontariens d'expression française et nos Ontariens d'expression anglaise.
I believe communication is of primary importance, particularly to people involved in politics. There are times, I suppose, when members of the government in particular would rather dissociate themselves from decisions that have been made from time to time. That is understandable, as I have been privileged to sit on both sides of this Legislative Assembly.
However, there is communication all in English that totally breaks down between the committee room and the Legislative Assembly, for instance in regard to the report on Sunday shopping from a standing committee of the Legislature. The Solicitor General (Mrs. Smith) was a member of that committee and agreed wholeheartedly with the decision and the recommendations that were made. However, the same lady in this Legislature announced diametrically opposed anticipated legislation.
The member for Sudbury (Mr. Campbell), elected on September 10, as a member of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario participated in a resolution from AMO strongly encouraging the government of Ontario to not make the municipal option regarding Sunday openings one that would be in effect. Yet this government has chosen to go totally against what many back-bench members of that particular party believe in.
Similarly, we must communicate a great deal, and very soon, on the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada pertaining to the rights of women and the rights of the unborn. I think communication must be precipitated as quickly as possible.
Yesterday, for instance, in talking about Sunday liquor shopping, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye) said in this Legislature that the chairman of the of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Mr. Ackroyd, should be asked and should be making the decision. However, after an admission by the Premier (Mr. Peterson), the honourable minister was briefed very quickly and the message that came out in the corridors was very different.
Again, communication is of primary importance, and this motion by the member for Nepean reflects that we need to communicate very much. We need to communicate interprovincially but we must begin at home and communicate between our French-speaking groups and our English-speaking groups in this province.
In that light, that is the reason I have requested that the implementation of Bill 8, which was supported unanimously by this Legislature, go to an all-party committee: so we can communicate and bring the message to those people in particular who are concerned that they will be negatively affected by the putting into place of Bill 8. These may be concerns that need not be there, but the communication has been lacking. I believe we, as politicians, certainly we in eastern Ontario -- and the member for Nepean did touch on this in his initial presentation -- have to communicate, and it has to begin at home.
In summary -- I have agreed with my friend, colleague and neighbour the member for Prescott and Russell (Mr. Poirier), who wants to have a few words to say -- we must improve communication, particularly between our two official languages and groups within those two official language groups.
Just as a final comment: this morning, the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) is in Penetanguishene making a statement pertaining to students in École secondaire LeCaron. I understand from speaking to people in that community that they did not know the minister was to be there, other than having read in the paper yesterday that the Minister of Education was to make a statement in Penetanguishene today.
Again, communication, I believe, should have been improved and can be improved. I will support this motion and I hope we can improve communications internally as well as with our neighbouring provinces.
I recently had the opportunity to bring greetings on behalf of the Premier at the inauguration of an organization of francophones of non-Canadian birth. I was surprised to see Haitians, Vietnamese, Belgians, Swiss, as well as others, all brought together in celebration of their francophone heritage, now all a part of the Ontario mosaic.
Later this month, along with a number of my colleagues from the Legislature, I will have the opportunity to be a part of an exchange program to Quebec City. During our stay, we will have the opportunity to meet with our Quebec counterparts and business leaders, while at the same time becoming familiar with the Quebec assembly. The visit will also expose us on a continual basis to the French language.
This program has come about under the auspices of the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-operation, an umbrella structure for a number of cultural and/or educational exchanges in governmental affairs.
Similarly, my daughter, Lisa, will next month have the opportunity to participate in the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa. This is a program open to interested high school students from across Canada to actively participate in a week-long curriculum designed to expose the students to the parliamentary system at the federal level. Anglophone students are given the opportunity to room with francophone students and expand their own French capabilities.
I know each of us will benefit enormously from these experiences, and we will be able to contribute more as a result.
Les Ontariens et les Québécois peuvent profiter des programmes d'échanges qui existent non seulement pour les étudiants, peu importe leurs ages, mais aussi pour les journalistes, les dirigeants, les fonctionnaires, les parlementaires et ceux qui travaillent dans le milieu culturel et artistique.
Dans le domaine des relations coopératives entre l'Ontario et le Québec, il y a trois accords qui sont sur le point d'être signés. Ceux-ci incluent: l'achat de sièges dans les institutions québécoises des hautes études; les accords environnementaux concernant l'élimination des déchets toxiques et la recherche et le développement coopératifs; et un accord visant à promouvoir conjointement le tourisme international. On pourrait aussi inaugurer des programmes coopératifs dans les domaines des logiciels informatiques et des entreprises économiques conjointes.
On a créé des programmes de jumelage au ministère de l'Éducation. Après que les classes sont jumelées, elles peuvent échanger des photographies, des dessins, des films, des enregistrements d'activités ou de musique dans la salle de classe, des vidéos d'événements culturels, etc. L'objectif du programme est de permettre aux jeunes de mieux se connaître mutuellement dans une atmosphère favorisant l'échange d'idées. Les buts sont d'encourager les jeunes à mieux comprendre la diversité culturelle et linguistique et à développer de la tolérance.
The bonds of friendship created by ongoing interaction between anglophones and francophones can be enduring ones. This past weekend my family had the occasion to rekindle a friendship dating back over 40 years, a friendship that joined two families, each very reflective of the francophone and anglophone experience of the mid-1940s.
One family, rather typically Quebecois, is a Roman Catholic family of 10 children headed by a father whose sole income was the milk route he travelled each day, complete with horse and buggy. The other family is a smaller Anglo-Saxon family with the father employed by an American multinational oil company. Despite the passage of time, distance and changing lifestyles, the friendship has endured and strengthened to the enrichment and betterment of all.
It is this kind of bonding between people that the government of Ontario must continue to encourage. The continuation of twinning programs, particularly at the municipal level, the grass-roots level, if you will, will work to develop such bonds and ultimately erode any of the ill feelings between anglophone and francophone communities. As legislators, we must work to further develop and encourage any steps that will facilitate the process.
Like my colleague the member for Nepean, I too came across individuals during the past election campaign who expressed their open hostility towards the francophone community. This arose from the government's support of the extension of French-language services to communities throughout Ontario. It was my personal experience that these individuals were failing to realize the duality of this country and the right of both groups to avail themselves of necessary service in either of Canada's two official languages. Obviously, my name became a red flag.
The remnants of early exchanges are long lasting. For instance, if one travels to the interior of British Columbia one will find a LeBourdais Park, a LeBourdais Street, and even some native Canadians who bear the name LeBourdais, because earlier in our times there was a legislator in British Columbia by the name of LeBourdais and the Inuit people have simply taken their name from a prominent Canadian of the time, which was a fairly commonplace occurrence
I encourage this government to continue to create and develop ongoing programs that will further the spirit of goodwill and understanding that can, in the long run, only help to enrich citizens of both provinces.
I want to tell the member for Nepean that we will be supporting his resolution and we will be proud to do so. As a participant in one of the exchanges he has outlined in this program, I spent a very wonderful summer several years ago with a girl from Quebec. We spent two weeks there and two weeks in my own home town. It was certainly a well worthwhile experience that I would encourage for all young people and, indeed, for all Ontarians.
I must say that the advantages and the benefits gained from that were numerous. I had a complete exposure to the second language in her home, since neither of her parents could speak any English at all. I was forced to use the second language, which is exactly what I needed.
I certainly gained a better appreciation of the French culture and of the French heritage, which I did not have living in Ontario, even though I had studied French during elementary school. It was certainly an added benefit to actually live in that community, live in that home, experience and be a part of that. I would encourage that for anyone who has the time and, indeed, in that case, the money to do it.
We agree with the resolution the member has presented and, certainly, this government should look towards establishing further twinning experiences between Ontario and Quebec municipalities. However, having said that, there are three points that I would like to raise concerning this whole question.
The first is that he has outlined, and most members have read about, the large number of programs that are in place, both on a provincial and a federal level, and indeed presented by private organizations. He has outlined -- and so I will not go over that again -- those programs that work well, that have a large number of participants and where the reaction back to the administrators of the program has been very positive.
We also have, on the other hand, a number of programs that are not working well, in particular, the exchange of principals where only two principals actually utilized the program that was in place. There was a second concerning the civil servant exchange program, which I hope in the future will proceed a little bit better but which up to this point has not been working very effectively.
What I would like to say to him -- and that is the same, both on a provincial and federal level, with the programs in both -- is that I hope we do, in fact, look at the programs which are in place and see how we can improve upon those. For instance, for those that are not working well -- and there are a number that are not -- having a review of what is going wrong, what is needed, are we not expanding the program to enough people, and how can we then present it to a larger group of individuals and indeed try to change some of the programs which do not have a positive impact at this time, and reach large numbers who are not using the program that is already in place.
Second, for those programs that are in place and are working well, I would encourage the government, both provincially and federally, to continue with those programs and to again review how they can be made even more effective. There are two in particular, I recall, where the budget has been doubled for 1988, and the government is expecting a much larger number of participants to apply and try to partake of that. I hope that in the process of the government's setting up new programs, it can go back and look at the ones that are in place to see how they can be improved upon and how those ones that are working well can be further expanded.
On the second point I would like to make, I go back to the member for Hamilton West of my own party, who stated that what we also have to look at is improving our relations here at home. It seems to me that it is a wonderful idea to travel to Quebec, and certainly if I can on someone else's money I do appreciate that. In fact, I will be going with a government group, so l am quite pleased about that. But I do think we can establish those types of programs here in Ontario and that we can, in fact, look at municipalities which exist in Ontario where we can provide a twinning now.
In particular, in northern Ontario, in the eastern part of Ontario and in and about the Ottawa region we do have the facility and the items in place to establish those types of programs before we go outside of the province. I must say that in many of the municipalities we have everything in place that would make those exchanges very effective and very enjoyable. We have the municipalities working in the second language, which is French, and they use that in all the administration and in their educational facilities.
We also have the establishment of many cultural institutions. I look at my own community, for example, where there are a number of events and festivities that Franco-Ontarians present, which all the people in Sudbury can partake of and participate in. I must say that I think what also exists in Ontario, although it will have to be fostered further, is a spirit for that type of co-operation. I think if we look into our own province and see how we can go about establishing those types of programs, we would certainly be as well off as we would be travelling to Quebec for those types of exchanges.
I think it is awfully important -- l go back to my experience during the election as well -- that we look at home first and start to broaden our ties and make those ties better. That might entail at least providing that type of service or organization in Ontario, that under the minister responsible for francophone affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) we develop an umbrella organization made up of anglophones and francophones who can go out and start to review the programs that are in place and work with municipalities in the province to try to establish that twinning so that we have input from both communities. I think both communities would probably be better off working with each other and setting up the programs that people in Ontario will benefit better from, or better than we do at present.
So I hope that when we look at exchanges between provinces, we also seriously consider now exchanges of people within our own province. I think it is very important and necessary that we as legislators start to move towards bettering the relationships between francophones and anglophones in Ontario.
I want to bring up several concerns I had with the projects that we might look at and hope that the government, if it is going to proceed in this manner, will consider several things. The member for Nepean mentioned that the present programs in place were very much limited to a certain segment of society. In effect, we have had a great deal of students, teachers, administrators, educational institutions and perhaps public servants who utilize the programs that are in place. Certainly, there is a much broader section of society that we have to start to appeal to to use these types of programs if we are going to make them of benefit to all Ontarians.
The second problem seemed to be that the programs were geared very much to a certain segment in society. It was mainly middle-class students or young people who were able to benefit. We have to look at programs where we can entice or enhance participation by visible and nonvisible minorities and by kids whose backgrounds are of a father who is not in the professions or who is not in a high-level administration setting. We have to start appealing to a broader group so that relations among more Ontarians can be enhanced.
I certainly think the programs are good, but we need a great deal more work to be done in order to appeal to a much broader cross-section of society. I say to the member, because I know he will probably want to wrap up and my other friend wants to speak, that we will support this resolution, but I hope the government will take into consideration some of the concerns I have outlined.
Par contre, je dois reconnaître qu'à titre de Franco-Ontarien, je me sens un peu délaissé par les mots, tels qu'on les retrouve dans le nom de ma circonscription, lequel est écrit uniquement en anglais, bien sûr. Étant le député de la circonscription la plus francophone de l'Ontario, et vu le problème de communication que nous avons toujours entre les Anglo-Ontariens et les Franco-Ontariens, j'appuie les énonces de mes collègues des autres partis, qui mentionnent également qu'il faut commencer à établir une bonne communication chez nous d'abord, en Ontario.
Au moment ou on se parle, il y a des individus et il y a des groupes à l'échelle de l'Ontario, mais surtout dans l'Est de l'Ontario -- ironiquement, dans une zone très bilingue -- qui travaillent à faire la mésentente, à empêcher que les anglophones et les francophones puisse mieux se connaître. Et ça, je trouve ça fort regrettable.
La Loi sur les langues officielles du Canada a été adoptée il y a déjà 19 ans. En 1986, le gouvernement de l'Ontario, avec l'appui de tout le monde, a adopté la Loi 8 sur les services en français. Nous sommes maintenant 1988, et je peux vous assurer, Madame la Présidente, qu'il y a encore beaucoup de chemin à faire pour que les anglophones et les francophones de ce pays et de cette province puissent mieux se connaître. Je félicite les gens qui ont pris l'initiative de participer à des échanges, de s'assurer que leurs enfants pourront aller dans les écoles françaises, dans les écoles mixtes ou dans les écoles d'immersion. Mais il reste beaucoup à faire.
I would like to say I humbly feel that we, as Canadians, still have a lot to learn about our own history. As Ontarians, we have a lot to learn about our history. I think Ontarians would be very surprised to find out the role the Franco-Ontarians have played in this province. I would like my English-speaking colleagues to twin their communities with some of my communities in my riding or else rather in French-speaking Ontario.
The village where I come from, Alfred, is 96 per cent French-speaking. If you want to live in a environment, come to Alfred. Come to Saint-Isidore-de-Prescott, which is 97 per cent French. Come to Dubreuilville. Come to Hearst. Come to Saint-Eugene, Sainte-Rose-de-Prescott, Cheney, Limoges, L'Orignal, where Champlain stopped in 1608 on his way up to the Ottawa River. How many Ontarians know that Toronto is sitting on the site of Fort-Rouillé from the French regime days? We, as a government caucus, sit in room 247 below this huge painting that depicts Fort-Rouillé.
How many Ontarians know that Windsor is on the site of l'Assomption from the French regime? How many Ontarians know that there were two seigneuries in Ontario: la seigneurie de Longueuil and la seigneurie de Frontenac and Kingston? How many Ontarians know that there are over half a million franco-Ontarians waiting to make better the communication between our English-speaking friends and neighbours and French-speaking friends and neighbours?
Some unilingual English Ontarians came into my office and said, "M. Poirier, I know you need bilingual staff, but if you send me for a year to Paris, all expenses paid, I promise I will come back bilingual." One does not have to go to Paris. One can come to Alfred. In my riding, I have six name places that are taken right from France. Take your pick: Bourget, Orleans, Embrun, Vars, Cheney and Limoges.
Come to Prescott and Russell, go to the other areas of French-speaking Ontario, but I implore the members, let us start to better the communications between anglophone Ontarians and francophone Ontarians, and then we will go elsewhere to learn even more about our fellow Canadians: Quebecois, Franco-Tenois from the Northwest Territories, Franco-Yukonnais from the Yukon, Fransaskois from Saskatchewan, Franco-Colombiens, Acadiens. Let us know each other better as Canadians first. I think that is very important. I congratulate my colleague and I bring this small amendment.
I am very pleased and very encouraged that we have such strong support for a renewed relationship between these two groups as expressed in this House. I wish to thank all of those who have spoken and I ask that all of us work together in a nonpartisan fashion to improve the relationship so that we can look forward and be an example, I would say, to the world of different cultures, different languages and different people working together, being enriched by each other, and in this way to live in peace, in harmony, acceptance, respect and tolerance.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I encourage all members to support unanimously my resolution.
MUNICIPAL COUNCIL RETIREMENT ALLOWANCES ACT
If any members are opposed to a vote on this motion, will they please rise. Seeing none, the question before the House is that Mr. Cureatz has moved second reading of Bill 75.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
The next item will be ballot item 10. If any members wish to --
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 12:03 a.m.
The House resumed at 1:30 p.m.
1988 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
Our congratulations will be extended to all of the participants, win or lose, because they have already proven their abilities by making their countries' Olympic teams. Win or lose, they are all champions and are splendid examples of athletes who have demonstrated world-class excellence in their sport and conduct consistent with the ideas of amateur Olympic sport.
I would also like to wish Toronto's Tony Reis good luck as he leads his team of Portuguese-Canadian bobsledders as they represent the country of Portugal.
I extend best wishes to the world men's figure-skating champion, Brian Orser, in his quest to capture a gold medal. l know Brian is the world's best and I am confident that he will have more success than his dad, Butch Orser, who tried unsuccessfully to skate his way into the riding of Simcoe East for the Liberals during last September's provincial election.
In addition, I have submitted 427 individual signed cards expressing the view that Whitby General Hospital urgently needs to expand and incorporate additional active treatment beds. Also in the package were 48 signed newspaper clippings and 42 cards signed by emergency care patients.
When the hospital first opened in the late 1960s, the town of Whitby had a population of 15,000. Today that figure has risen to 51,885, and the region of Durham forecasts a population for Whitby of almost 90,000 by the year 2011.
Construction on Whitby General Hospital started in 1968 with an acute care bed allocation of 65 beds. Today, 20 years later, the number of active beds remains the same.
The board of directors of Whitby General Hospital, supported by resolutions from both the region of Durham and the corporation of the town of Whitby, strongly implores the minister to consider the acute care bed allocation to Whitby General Hospital.
The provincial government should stop siphoning much-needed tax dollars out of its own allocation budget. The gas tax, which was designed to pay for necessary road repairs, is no longer used solely for that purpose. Municipalities are shouldering more and more of the responsibility for roads, but have no vehicle for collecting the necessary revenue.
In 1986, $1.77 billion was collected by the provincial government through taxes related to motoring, but only $644 million of that was spent on roads. The money being spent today is one third of what it was 10 years ago. Allocations must be increased to at least match the present inflation rate so that cities like Cambridge can maintain the status of their roads. Otherwise, we will end up with winding dirt tracks fraught with potholes.
The fact that the rate of growth in federal transfer payments will decline is not news. Every provincial Treasurer has been aware of that policy for several years. The blame for any tax increases lies entirely with the government of Ontario and its free-spending ways. Reduced federal transfers have been more than offset by increased provincial revenues, which have jumped by over $9 billion.
Given the strong performance of the Ontario economy and the consequent growth in government revenues, no tax increases would be required had this government demonstrated even the slightest commitment to expenditure controls. The responsibility for any tax increases will lie solely with this Liberal government right here in Ontario, its free-spending policies and its lack of any spending controls on the budgetary policies it has brought in.
What is their secret to success? Their success depends on every employee and every department serving Timberjack's customers better than they are served by the competition. They have spent and will continue to spend heavily on research to make better products for their customers. Their employees all share in the financial results of the company through profit-sharing.
One last thing: When you look at the serial plate on the Timberjack skidder you will see something unusual: the names of the people who assembled it. That is pride, that is Timberjack and that is Oxford county.
The Premier (Mr. Peterson) said he would rectify this ridiculous situation in 1985; nothing happened. He reiterated that commitment again last year; nothing happened.
Provincial legislation created this mess. Provincial legislation is required to sort it out. The houses are running down and the bills are running up. The island community needs the help of this government to survive. The government knows there is support on all sides of the House for the island community. At the very least, the government owes the community some answers. What does the government intend to do, and when does it intend to do it?
For the benefit of those members who are unaware, I shall offer a bit of the background on this situation. Just prior to the departure of the minister on a trade junket -- sorry, mission -- I received a call from his office inquiring as to my availability to do a speaking engagement. The telephone scenario goes something like this:
"Mr. Sterling?" said the aide. "Yes," I replied. "We are hoping you could do a speaking engagement in North Bay in a couple of days," said the aide. "Is this to participate in a panel discussion?" I asked. "No, to speak on behalf of the minister." I asked, "What is it all about?" "Oh, the normal stuff about the north." "Can I make changes to the speech?" I asked. "Some," replied the aide. "Well, I do not think the government has done anything for the north," I replied.
LITHUANIAN AND ESTONIAN INDEPENDENCE DAYS
On these dates, our friends commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1918 proclamation of Lithuania and Estonia as sovereign democratic nations. We who live in a democratic society do not always appreciate our good fortune. We take for granted our freedom of speech, of press, of religion, of travel, and even the right to openly criticize our own government. The courageous determination of the Lithuanian and Estonian peoples to regain this kind of freedom is a source of inspiration to all of us. Indeed, because these peoples have tasted freedom, neither the weapons of starvation nor prison walls could extinguish the torch of freedom and hope that has been resolutely expressed and passed on from one heroic generation to the next.
Those who came to Canada from Lithuania and Estonia have made important contributions to the development of our province and country and to the enrichment of our culture.
Today we have reason to admire the unbreakable spirit of optimism and hope of our friends that, in spite of past tragic events, they maintain their ideal of democracy and independence and their dream that Lithuania and Estonia will one day determine their own future and one day determine their own destiny.
It is with great pleasure that we extend our heartiest congratulations and best wishes to our friends as they commemorate Lithuanian and Estonian independence days. Thank you.
There are important cultural and spiritual celebrations for the Lithuanian- and Estonian-Canadian community. It is to the benefit of all Ontarians that the distinct culture and tradition of our citizens of Lithuania and Estonia have remained so strong and so rich. Lithuania and Estonia are rich in history and resources, and their people are to be admired for their strength of will and nationalistic spirit. Even after 70 years, the quest for national freedom and independence remains a goal in the life of Lithuanians at home and abroad.
We hope that the 70th anniversary celebrations of Lithuanian and Estonian independence will be allowed to take place peacefully in the homelands and will not be marred by attempts by authorities to stop them. We join in commemorating the historic occasion here in Ontario.
We in Canada have difficulty imagining a life without freedom of expression, religion or assembly. Canadians speak out against their judiciary, their political system and any aspect of their lives in which they feel they have been infringed upon. They do so free from the threat of persecution. Such actions in Estonia or Lithuania are met with violence and arrest. Dissidents are imprisoned for their political beliefs or for any fight for human rights. Demonstrations, particularly those in recognition of their independence days, will be greeted by the militia in Estonia and, perhaps, imposition of martial law in Lithuania.
Perhaps glasnost, the openness of the Soviet government, has not yet reached the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea, but for those who remain, both in their native countries and here in Canada, the traditions of their heritage continue. Their fight for independence continues and is as indomitable as their spirit.
This is the 70th anniversary of Independence Day and for 10,000 members of the Lithuanian community in Toronto, this upcoming weekend will serve as a reminder of their heritage for the rest of us. There will be celebrations and demonstrations as well as a flag-raising at Mississauga city hall on February 14 to commemorate this event.
The Estonian community, 12,000 strong, will also be celebrating the following weekend with the Estonian flag to be raised at city hall on February 24. The Estonian and Lithuanian communities have contributed greatly to this city's growth and development and have maintained a strong sense of their former identity. I know that all members of this House wish for an end to the oppression of these peoples in their homeland and extend our hope that they may one day enjoy the freedoms which we take for granted.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
1996 OLYMPIC SUMMER GAMES
I would like to make a statement concerning the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. When Ben Johnson carried the Olympic torch into Nathan Phillips Square on his way to Calgary, many of us in Ontario shared the same thought. We were thinking that the Olympic flame will return to this province because Toronto will win the bid to host the 1996 Olympic Summer Games.
Making that happen will take support, both moral and financial, from both private and public sources. The government of Canada and the corporate sector have shown their support.
Mr. Speaker, let me bring you and the honourable members up to date about what has happened here in Ontario. Last February, cabinet approved in principle the city of Toronto's proposal. Since then, an interministerial committee led by my ministry has been formed to co-ordinate this government's initiatives and support to the Toronto Ontario Olympic Council, better known as TOOC.
The committee has already met with representatives of TOOC, the federal government and the representatives of the city of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto to establish the responsibility for the many aspects of the bid preparation and the actual hosting of the games. The committee will continue to ensure that the best possible bid will be put forward for the consideration of the International Olympic Committee in 1990.
The Premier (Mr. Peterson) helped enhance the committee's international profile when he led a provincial delegation in Switzerland last fall to meet with the International Olympic Committee. His presence within Olympic diplomatic circles was most effective and his message was clear. Toronto is a city of international stature and it is more than capable of hosting the games.
Today I am pleased to announce that my ministry will provide $3.1 million over four years to the Toronto Ontario Olympic Council to support bringing the 1996 Summer Games to Ontario. These funds will go towards the technical aspects of the bid. Additional services will also be provided where feasible.
The funds we are announcing today are an investment. Already the city and the province are receiving international exposure through this bid.
Further, the legacy of hosting the games is long-lasting and far-reaching. A Toronto-centred games could inject up to $1 billion directly into the Ontario economy and create more than 30,000 person-years of employment.
New and improved facilities would benefit amateur athletes and the general public for years to come.
Many other southern Ontario municipalities would share in the long-term economic benefits of the games.
Visitors from Canada, the United States and beyond would stretch the region's hospitality and retail services to capacity. Clearly, the economic impact province-wide would be substantial.
There is much more than a dollar value to hosting the games. I am speaking of the pride and enjoyment the games would bring to all Ontarians.
The games can also generate a tourism impact like no other event, putting Ontario in the spotlight of world attention, where we belong.
Hosting the games can bring great social and economic benefits to our province. Quite simply, there is no better place than Ontario for the 1996 Olympic Games.
I would like to acknowledge the presence today in the members' gallery of the man who is the driving force behind the Toronto bid to host the games, TOOC chairman Paul Henderson.
When more than one municipality must contribute a share of education taxes requisitioned by a school board, the amount paid for education purposes can differ considerably from municipality to municipality. The Ministry of Education therefore requires that a formula be used to make apportionment between municipalities more equitable.
The equalization factors used by the Ministry of Education to calculate apportionment and provincial grants do not reflect fairly the economic change that has occurred since 1970.
This situation has been borne out in recent appeals by the city of Nepean and the township of Goulbourn to the Ontario Municipal Board of the Carleton Board of Education's apportionment for the years 1984 to 1987. The Ontario Municipal Board has indicated its reluctance to hear these appeals.
I am pleased to announce today that a negotiated settlement has been reached with the municipalities involved. It will provide a total of $4.575 million, which will be divided among the Carleton Board of Education, the city of Nepean and the townships of Goulbourn and Cumberland.
I am also pleased to announce that the 1988 grant regulations will include the updating of the equalization factors for the calculation of both a municipality's share of the school board's requisition and provincial grants.
These changes will be phased in and details will be provided with the publication of the general legislative grant regulations. This will resolve the issue of unequal distribution of the school board requirement and place municipalities throughout this province on an equal basis at the end of the phase-in period.
Later today I will also be introducing legislation that will modify the appeal process available to municipalities. Appeals will be directed to arbitration by municipal treasurers only on questions of error or omission in the assessment data or in its calculation, and where the provisions of the regulation under the Education Act have not been applied. These changes will be effective for the 1988 tax year.
COMMISSIONER THOMAS B. O'GRADY
Commissioner O'Grady has been with the force for 26 years. I am convinced he will provide the force with the type of leadership that has earned the OPP a reputation for excellent law enforcement and superior public service. In fact, it is probably fair to say Commissioner O'Grady is one of the officers who have helped to build that OPP tradition.
During his years with the force, he has held managerial responsibility for a wide variety of policing tasks and the force has been the better for his efforts. In 1986 and 1987, he headed the force's investigation support division; from 1984 to 1986, he was director of the criminal investigation branch; and from 1979 to 1984, he served as detective inspector in that same area. Prior to that, he served as a noncommissioned officer at various OPP locations around the province. During those years, he has demonstrated the ability to develop new ideas and motivate others to help carry them out.
I believe this combination of experience and innovation will allow Commissioner O'Grady to provide the progressive leadership the OPP needs in today's changing Ontario. Both the Premier and I feel Tom O'Grady will be an able successor to Archie Ferguson, a man who made a superb contribution to public safety in Ontario. His appointment will take effect Monday morning. I wish Tom, his wife and family every success.
PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION PLANS
Members will recall that in September 1986, Malcolm Rowan was asked to head a task force that would review investment practices relating to Ontario's public sector pension funds. That same year, I also asked Laurence Coward to report on financing issues regarding indexed pension benefits for Ontario's public servants and teachers. Both reports address the detailed aspects of investing and financing both pension and pension indexation funds.
I would also like to point out at this time that the Rowan report deals with a number of public sector pension policy issues other than those related to the financing and investment policies of the pension plans for teachers and public servants.
Rowan makes detailed recommendations on issues relating to the Ontario municipal employees retirement system, the Ontario Hydro pension plan, the hospitals of Ontario pension plan and the Workers' Compensation Board pension plan.
My colleague the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Elston) has asked the Public Sector Pensions Advisory Board to consider these issues. As well, the board will review Rowan's general recommendations on the role of plan members in administration and investment policy and the use of pension funds to enhance economic development in Ontario.
In reviewing the financial status of the superannuation adjustment funds for teachers and public servants, Rowan and Coward were dealing with a serious financing deficiency which has existed for some time. In fact, when the funds were first established in 1975, a regular review of the funding arrangements was to have been undertaken.
The deficiencies in financing we are facing today are the result of two key decisions made more than a decade ago. First, it was decided to fund indexation payments on a pay-as-you-go basis. Put simply, this means that contribution rates are set at a level sufficient to pay for the pension benefits of plan members as they retire.
Problems arise when the number of retirees increases relative to the number of current contributors, a situation in which we find ourselves today.
The second decision was to extend indexation retroactively without any corresponding funding to those who had been contributing to the plans prior to 1976, as well as those who had retired previous to that date.
The Rowan and Coward reports conclude that the cost of financing indexed pensions for teachers and public servants is being passed on unfairly to future generations of taxpayers and plan members.
In response to the current status of the plans, both reports recommend that the basic pension and indexation funds be merged and funding arrangements changed. Both reports also recommend that the basic pension and indexation funds be transferred gradually into market investments.
To make the best possible decision on the financial, investment and policy issues these reports raise, we will seek the response and input of all affected and interested parties: teachers, public servants, the pension community, academics and the general public.
To allow for this input, I have asked Dr. David Slater, a former chairman of the Economic Council of Canada, to invite written submissions and meet, as necessary, with interested groups. Dr. Slater will synthesize the findings and recommendations of both the Rowan and Coward reports, as well as the opinions he receives from the involved and interested parties.
I have asked Dr. Slater to report his findings to the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet, the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) and myself by July 31 of this year. These findings will be discussed with the directly affected parties and their responses will be requested prior to any announcement of the government's policy and the introduction of appropriate legislation.
There can be no doubt that the financial problems of the adjustment funds are serious indeed. In commissioning these reports, the government's aim was to get a realistic assessment of the plans' financial status and options open to us to ensure that pensions for our public service and teachers are securely funded.
However, I want the Legislature and all the involved parties to know that the government is also keenly aware of the very personal and human aspects of the pension issue.
I want to ensure Ontario's teachers and public servants that any legislative changes that result from the review of their pension plans will not affect pensions or adjustment benefits for which credit has accumulated, nor will any future legislative changes affect the pension or adjustment benefits that ate being paid currently to retired plan members. Retirees will continue to be paid in accordance with the formula in the legislation that now governs their pension and adjustment benefits.
COMMISSIONER THOMAS B. O'GRADY
PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION PLANS
My concern with the thrust of Mr. Rowan's report is that if it is going to create a completely market-oriented approach for government pension plans, I would have hoped the approach of the government would be to give the members of those plans more control over the money which is going to be invested. I find it simply not acceptable that we would continue to have a situation, such as that with the hospital plan and the workers' compensation plan, for example, where employees representing the beneficiaries of those plans in both cases have said, in particular, that they do not want those plans to invest in companies that do business in South Africa, and it continues to be the case that those plans do invest in companies that do business in South Africa.
Nothing in what Mr. Rowan has suggested would change that. I think it is not only unfortunate, but it is undemocratic and an affront to those members of the plan, and to the majority of members of the plan, who have expressed their very real opposition to continued investment in companies that do business in South Africa.
The government should take Mr. Rowan's report and the review of pension plans as an opportunity to state categorically that as far as the government is concerned, the surplus does not belong exclusively to the employer who contributes on behalf of employees but rather is something which should be worked to the advantage of the employees who are members of the plan. In this regard, public sector pension plans, if they are to become more market-oriented, should be a leader and a symbol for private sector plans rather than simply reflecting the status quo in the private sector which, I suggest, seems to be the approach that is being suggested by Mr. Rowan.
The debate is now joined. The government can rest assured that the members of the plans, who are very articulate, very knowledgeable about their plans and very knowledgeable about how their captive investments have been used and misused by governments, will be very actively involved in this issue, in this question, whether they be teachers or people working at the Workers' Compensation Board. I can assure the Treasurer that we are going to be active in pursuing these issues as well.
1996 OLYMPIC SUMMER GAMES
If there are real housing needs, if there are real needs facing the people of Ontario, these must be our focus. Our bid for the Olympics must never lose sight of the focus and must never postpone the initiatives to implement those schemes that will bring about essential housing and programs. Therefore, I say to the minister and the government it is important that the Olympics must never be used as a mirage of grandeur to take away from the essential problems facing this province. We will keep the government accountable in those areas.
COMMISSIONER THOMAS B. O'GRADY
I can only say to the Solicitor General that we feel the appointment has been a little tardy. Possibly she should have moved a little sooner in terms of filling the position. With that in mind, I say to the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon), the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the government House leader that we will be looking with great interest and anticipation to see who will be replaced on the Metropolitan Board of Commissioners of Police. We know with great anxiety that this position will be filled sooner as opposed to later.
As the minister knows, on behalf of the township of Goulbourn and the city of Kanata, I have been seeking a solution for this matter for over two years. While this was left in limbo by the present government for a long period of time, I think it has come to a reasonable conclusion.
With regard to looking forward to fixing the problem for the future -- in other words, reaching an equitable equalization factor between various municipalities in a school board area -- I look forward to seeing his wisdom in striking that particular formula. Once I see the wisdom in striking that formula, I will also look forward to either approving or disapproving of the appeal process.
1996 OLYMPIC SUMMER GAMES
I would also like to point out that, in addition to the government of Ontario's money, there is significant federal money in this and even more private sector money than all governments combined. It makes a tremendous partnership, and I congratulate the government on entering into this partnership.
PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION PLANS
We also have some initial concerns in respect to the tradeoffs that will accompany a move of the funds into market investments and the long-term impact this might have on government borrowing costs.
Finally, we are not enthused, to say the least, to see the appointment of Dr. Slater to again perform one of the government's infamous studies of a study. This is a very serious situation and the minister should get on with the job.
There is an urgent need for it. We know he is getting a big pot. I know the interest will rise as he waits a little bit, but he should not wait too long, because some of those school boards are just not going to be able to survive or get those places in order for the students next September unless he announces that, as well as his other great things.
I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Labour.
ADHERENCE TO LABOUR LAWS
He will also know there are employees who are not now working at McDonnell Douglas, who were laid off by the company, and at the same time work that is contracted out is being performed in the company by other workers.
When is the minister going to enforce the Occupational Health and Safety Act? When is he going to ensure the return of 238 workers to their jobs at McDonnell Douglas? When is he going to do his job as Minister of Labour and make sure that workers are not out in the cold having to look for a job when they ought to have --
Let us remember where we were two and a half months ago. Two and a half months ago we were in a situation where my ministry had made a thorough investigation and issued some 212 orders citing violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
More important, we had a situation where, frankly, the company seemed to think that there was some sort of impunity in connection with these violations. At the same time, we had a union which felt it was at its wits' end and did not have any power or enthusiasm, whether from the government or from McDonnell Douglas, in resolving those situations.
Shortly after that, we had 3,000 workers who were sitting in cafeterias on work refusals. Since that time, we have had an agreement between the company and the union to resolve --
In January 1986, the fellow who sits just below the minister and to his right, the then Minister of Labour, said in this House in a statement, not in response to a question but in a statement dealing with the question of overtime and the Employment Standards Act, and I quote:
"It should be understood by employer and employee alike that the director of the" employment standards "branch will prosecute those who violate their obligations under the law."
That was the ministry position in January 1986.
In February 1988, this minister's staff wrote to the superintendent of personnel and industrial relations at Stelco and said as follows:
"The investigation, completed after the union asked, determined that the hours worked by five of the 11 employees were in violation of part IV of the Employment Standards Act in 1986 and/or to October 31, 1987; that is, these employees had worked hours in excess of those permitted" --
There has been an investigation going on at that facility for quite some time. That investigation has now reached the stage 1 completion. We have determined, at this point, not to proceed with prosecutions -- and frankly there were very good reasons for that. My friend the member for York South cites that in the letter and I confirm that. But the investigation that we are doing of that facility will be ongoing and will monitor what is happening at Stelco over the next six months, and a new team of investigators will be going into that facility in October to ensure strict compliance with the Employment Standards Act and the provision of hours of work in that act.
Why should any worker who does not want to work on a Sunday in a retail shop believe the Premier or the Minister of Labour for one instant when he says he is going to prosecute? He has not prosecuted anybody under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or the Employment Standards Act. He has no credibility when it comes to protecting the workers of this province on any issue.
Let us go back for a moment to McDonnell Douglas. That is a situation where there were very substantial violations. I can only tell my friend that as the situation stabilizes and the workforce gets back to work, at the same time there is extensive work going on within the legal branch of the ministry, which I told the member for York South a couple of months ago may well lead to prosecutions. It is not appropriate for me to say at this time that there will be prosecutions at McDonnell Douglas before that investigation is complete.
USE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Is the minister aware of correspondence going back as far as the mid-1970s and even as recently as 1984-85, in particular the letter that was written by the man who was the chairman of the Drug Quality and Therapeutics Committee between 1979 and 1985, Dr. Mahon? In that letter he says, in writing to Dr. Dyer who was then the deputy minister, "It is clear that many, if not most, of the drugs paid for by the Ministry of Health under the special authorization scheme are of limited, if any, therapeutic value."
That was the position of the chairman of the committee as he was leaving the committee "in frustration," in his own words, in 1985. Since that time, even more drugs have been prescribed under this special authorization scheme which continue, in the views of the experts in the field and the man who was the chairman between 1985 and 1988, to be of no therapeutic value whatsoever.
I would like to ask the minister, if that is the position, why the government has not implemented even one of the recommendations made by the members of the committee to deal with stopping the abuse of the special authorization program.
To quote Dr. Carruthers, they are in many cases "toxic or ineffective." They are placebos or jelly beans at best, and at worst can hurt people and drive them into hospital and medical care. Is the minister saying that Dr. Carruthers and Dr. Mahon do not know what they are talking about?
We are concerned about issues of safety, we are concerned about issues of quality of care and I would like the member opposite to know that whenever we pay for a drug under the Ontario drug benefit plan, those drugs which are listed must meet the standards of the federal government for quality and safety.
Does the minister think Dr. Carruthers and Dr. Mahon are wrong or does she think they are right?
We know that many of the recommendations that this committee of 12 has made are of interest to the Ontario Medical Association, the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, which I met with this morning, consumer groups and senior citizens' associations and consumers, many of which would like an opportunity to discuss the kinds of recommendations that have been made. We share the concerns but I cannot believe the Leader of the Opposition would want this government to take unilateral action without full public discussions.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Contrary to the comments the Premier has repeatedly made in this House, the committee believed a wide-open Sunday would represent "a strain upon the family structure. The committee also believes that `wide-open' Sunday shopping would have an adverse impact upon common time together for primarily female-led single-parent families." That is what the committee found to be true in May 1987.
Let me place it in a somewhat different perspective then. With respect to this question of whether the issue should in fact be passed on from Ontario to the local municipalities, it is our understanding that the policy with regard to this question was done not with cabinet approval or cabinet review and not even accepting the input of the back-benchers of his party on this particular subject.
Let me quote again, since this was singularly the Premier's policy, or maybe that of the four horsemen in the front row here. Make a note of that because that is what he is going to respond to now rather than the meat of the question, I know; his style is becoming quite obvious.
If in fact that comes to pass, is the Premier prepared to pay for those additional costs or is he going to do what he has been following by way of his trend in the past?
My honourable friend will be aware that lots of people work on Sunday now. My honourable friend thinks this putting forward --
So my friend, I assume, would argue their families have been rent asunder by this tradition that has gone on for some long period of time in our province. I do not think the member can justify that, any more than he can justify that the social fabric of Point Edward has been rent asunder by its using the tourist exemption to open up certain of its stores.
With great respect, I think my friend has been putting this issue somewhat out of proportion in that regard. We respect the municipal option. They will make determinations about their own communities. That is done in other provinces. I ask him to look at the evidence. It by no means leads to the so-called wide-open Sunday he is talking about.
The workers whom we are talking about and whom we are trying to protect, and whom we know the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) is not going to protect, are those who are going to have to work on that seventh day with absolutely no break whatever.
If there are additional social costs involved, is Ontario prepared to pick up those additional costs?
We recognize there are social pressures from a variety of forces in our communities. If he looks at the record, this government has responded to the changes. to the changing nature of the family in some respects, to single mothers. We are determined to provide the best assistance we possibly can to make sure we have a system that is flexible, that is sensitive, that recognizes individual needs and individual choices, and we will continue to be a leader in that regard.
COMMITTEES OF THE LEGISLATURE
I would like to indicate, first of all, to the Premier, since the minister is not here today, that I was absolutely astounded to learn that the cost of that particular exercise amounted to some $400,000.
It is also interesting that, after that committee brought in a very predictable report costing the $400,000, the Premier now appears to be interested and supportive of having further study taken, which we warned him against, by passing this entire matter of a free trade study over to a committee of the Legislature, namely, the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. We estimate the cost of that at $175,000.
Since the Premier and the government are not going to take any advice from any committee anyway --
The member is quite right about the costs. We are happy to share them. They were, as he knows, $146,000 for public notification; $137,000 for simultaneous translation; $45,000 for published reports; and $43,000 for support services. I invite him to scrutinize it. I think it is a very worthwhile expenditure in looking at an issue of this broad consequence.
We said during the campaign when we talked about it, and prior to then, that we were going immediately to have a look at the preliminary agreement, as the committee did, as soon as it was available on October 5 or 6, as I recall. We started to do that, working with the information that was at hand.
Now the standing committee on finance and economic affairs of the Legislature is seized with the final text and is having its own discussions. If you do not think that is a good idea or if you want to withdraw your members from that, it is certainly within your rights to do so, but I believe that discussion of one of the major public policy issues of our day is very, very worth while.
In fact, with Meech Lake, you have made it clear from the outset that we can study all we want, debate and talk all we want and, I suppose, spend whatever money we want within reason, but the bottom line is no change. How can you justify that?
Let me say about Meech Lake -- he obviously does not understand the import of that particular discussion -- that it is looking at a lot of constitutional matters, not just Meech Lake but also the second and third rounds. Constitutional change has now been enshrined as a way of proceeding. We are going to have annual meetings on these matters. I think it is important to build a body of expertise in this House dealing with all parts of the country, getting the tone and flavour of the country with respect to important constitutional changes.
If my friend wants to come in with some recommendations because he does not like Meech Lake, it is certainly his right to do so. You have every right, through your members, to put forward whatever position you want, but I cannot imagine this member of this House standing up if I said, "I am waiting for the results of this committee to take a position" -- what would he say then? He would say this government was not providing leadership. I tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, on these matters, this government is providing leadership.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out through you to the Premier that since May 1987 we have had the Thom report on housing, the select committee report on retail store hours, on which the Premier has changed his position, the county government report, the Podborski report, the Evans report, a whole series of reports. The cost of these reports, I want to point out to the Premier, through you, sir, is in the millions of dollars.
When the Premier raises the question why members on this side of the House have lost some confidence in the committee structure as it has been established in this House, let me just point out that of all those reports, of all the different reports I have highlighted just now and brought to the Premier's attention, not one of those reports has been brought forward for any action whatever or --
I thought my honourable friend would understand the use of reports in government. His government, for example, not knowing what to do in northern Ontario, commissioned the Fahlgren report. What was it? Ten million dollars? It dragged on for how many years?
If we added up the reports my honourable friend's government commissioned, compared to the ones we have commissioned and taken action upon, I think we would see a record of action and activity and a record of a government that confronts the problems and does not run away from them. If they had acted upon the advice they had taken in the past, we would not have all these messes to clean up that we do at the moment.
I think it is worth noting here, since he raised the matter, that tax reform, if we go into it without making any adjustments ourselves, will see us about $300 million behind, just on the basis of the changes that are part of Mr. Wilson's initiative.
I think it is also worth noting that, since the Progressive Conservative government took office about three and a half years ago now, the changes in established programs financing, which have affected all the provinces, affect the province of Ontario in the upcoming fiscal year to the extent of $1 billion. So we are down about $1.3 billion as we start in the preparation for the budget we face.
The honourable member would indicate, I am sure, that it may be necessary for us to make some innovative decisions associated with recouping that loss and also meeting the expanding costs of the programs that are discussed on a day-to-day basis right here in the House. We hope and trust and we are committed to making any changes of that type on a fair and equitable basis.
Certainly, I believe in the progressivity of taxation systems and I hope in any changes that would be made, or even if the tax base remains unchanged, we can adjust the progressivity.
The Treasurer knows that people in Ontario living at the poverty level, individuals and families, still pay provincial income tax. At the same time they do that, we have 30,000 profitable corporations in Ontario that pay no corporate income taxes whatsoever. We have well-heeled people in Ontario who earn up to $100,000 in capital gains and pay no tax on that whatsoever.
Given that, will the Treasurer assure us that in 1988 there will be absolutely no increased sales taxes or income taxes until those two major problems have been redressed?
In moving to tax credits at the federal level and changing the bases through tax reform, it really means our tax credits have been almost rendered useless in that almost everybody would be at the zero level for credits. That means that the officials of the ministry are examining ways by which we can restructure the credit system. This gives us an opportunity to use the same amount of money, or even more if possible, to establish credits that are certainly designed to assist those at the lower end of the tax system.
I can assure my honourable friends that my direction to the officials is to establish this new system of credits, which we will be announcing at the time of the budget some time in April, or whenever it is ready. We will hope that even the honourable member, who looks at these matters with such a critical eye, will be able to commend us for the progressivity of those decisions.
The legislation for rent review is two years old already. It seems the minister is just adding more staff and there is still no guarantee that she will have enough. How many more affordable rental units could she build with the $29 million that she has already aside just for the rent review? How many more affordable rental units could she build and how many more tax dollars is it going to take before she gets her system working?
Let me say to the member opposite and to the rest of the House that rent review is not the only way in which we protect the people of this province and help them with their housing needs. It is not a panacea, as we know very well. It does, however, offer significant protection, particularly for people of low and moderate income, who need more help to make sure they are not subject to unreasonable increases in their rent. There are other programs we are working on, dealing with the larger provision of housing meant for people of low and moderate income, which will help the situation in the province in a much broader way.
I know my friend the member for Wellington (Mr. J. M. Johnson) joins me in emphasizing to the minister and pointing out the fact that last year the Wellington county school boards were among what we believe to be only a few in the province that received essentially no capital funds, save and except, I think, $170,000 for some roof repairs.
Having said that, coupled with the fact that, as I am sure the minister is aware, Guelph and Wellington county are among the fastest growing areas in the province, there is as a result a desperate need for capital funds. Overcrowding in our school system, particularly in the south end of the city of Guelph and in the town of Fergus, is almost at crisis proportion.
I have had the opportunity to visit some schools in the member's riding, as well as schools in the riding of the member for Wellington. I acknowledge that, indeed, the needs within that community are real, but we do try to allocate the funds that are available on a priority basis province-wide.
HOURS OF WORK
The minister knows that in 1985 the company was found in violation of overtime provisions, was not prosecuted, was to be monitored in 1986 and was not, and in 1987 he had specific cases brought to him where, as was pointed out earlier today, his colleague the previous Minister of Labour said, "We will now prosecute."
I would like to know when this minister is prepared to prosecute his friends at Stelco, where we have obvious violations; or is it a case where you are innocent when proven guilty if you happen to be a company?
More important, we have involved the union there, and Mr. Silenzi, in a review of the permit under which overtime hours are now worked in Stelco. I believe that, combined with the further investigations that will be done in September-October of this year, will bring about a final resolution to this problem, which I admit to my friend has been going on far too long.
This letter that I referred to earlier says there are 57 previous examples of potential violations given to the company. The ministry now cannot find them or has no record of them. I would point out they are clearly referred to in letters to him that I have here on my desk.
Can he tell us what is going on in his ministry and when we can expect some action where there are actual violations of the laws of Ontario, or is that hopeless for workers?
As far as the specific situation goes at the Hilton Works of Stelco, I have told my friend, I have told Mr. Silenzi and I have told the company that we would expect, within the process that we put in place now, including a review of the permit which the union will be involved in, the union will be involved in the process of determining whether there should be any additional permits granted to Stelco at Hilton. That matter will be resolved. Our officials and our investigators will be in there again in September-October and I think that process is going to resolve a matter that, as I said earlier, has gone on far too long.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Will the minister now tell this House exactly what the Premier's (Mr. Peterson) staff advised him is the government's policy in this matter?
There was, when the member's party was in government, and there remains with this government, a view that opening on Sundays is not appropriate. I suppose, in a general sense, it is a balance of the access issue and the social responsibility issue that governments, not only in this province but in others, have attempted to achieve over the years. It remains government policy and I contemplate no change.
This morning, I was given confidential information by a former councillor at a halfway house in Brampton. This information contains strong allegations that violent offenders are being released to the community in halfway houses as a matter of course and that other communities are also being misled about the type of offenders who are living in their midst.
My question of the Solicitor General, who is responsible for ensuring public safety in Ontario, is as follows: will she undertake to forward this confidential information without delay to the federal minister of corrections and demand that the federal government instigate an immediate investigation into the whole system of halfway houses?
I myself find it very difficult to understand that, on the one hand, the Solicitor General of Canada is holding meetings and making announcements to reassure the people in her riding that they will never be allowed to put sex offenders or such violent people in that halfway house. He is making these assurances on the one hand and yet, on the other hand, we are indeed finding out that these same rules are being broken elsewhere.
It would seem apparent to me that if the assurances are good enough for one halfway house, they should be applicable right across. Indeed, we do need to find out how much this rule, unspoken or spoken, has been broken, whether it is being corrected and whether the information is being properly shared with our police forces.
I would like a third commitment from the Solicitor General. Would she please make the following commitment, that when the Metro police bail and parole unit is notified that a violent offender is being released in our community, the unit must as a matter of public policy notify the local 53 Division?
Since the environmental health and safety effects of aggregate extraction -- dust, noise and traffic control -- can be devastating for the community, and since an amending act was submitted to the cabinet, I understand in February 1987, a full year ago, can the minister explain why there has been such a delay in the introduction of the bill and can he make a commitment that he will introduce the new aggregates act in the spring session?
The minister will be aware that during the 1985 beer lockout, a great many small and large businesses, hotels, restaurants, pubs, etc. experienced difficulties in terms of securing adequate supplies of beer during the labour dispute and then in getting rid of surplus United States beer afterwards. With the possibility looming of a strike this weekend, would he advise the House of any plans he has to deal with that eventuality?
I have some proposals. In terms of helping Canadian beer producers versus American, in terms of helping small and large Ontario businesses involved in beer sales and in terms of helping to remove interprovincial trade barriers, would the minister consider two proposals:
1. Would he allow beer producers not involved in a labour dispute, such as Amstel and Brick, to sell directly to licensees, rather than having licensees required to buy American beer through Liquor Control Board of Ontario outlets?
2. Would he allow licensees in eastern Ontario to purchase products directly from the province of Quebec for the duration of any strike or lockout?
Is he prepared to consider these proposals?
I would just say to the honourable member once more, and reiterate it is certainly my hope -- and I have some sense of cautious optimism today that I think is shared by both sides in these negotiations -- that with goodwill none of the contingency plans that he is suggesting or any others that have been set forward will be needed, but that we will be able to have a successful conclusion to these negotiations. I know my friend the member for Leeds (Mr. Runciman) has that right at the top of his agenda.
I would like to know from the Solicitor General what I should tell my people tonight, since there is a great concern in our area. What recommendations would she think she could possibly make to ensure that such occurrences are minimized?
It is interesting that the Solicitor General of Canada has assured the people in Eglinton that he will cease and desist from putting violent sex offenders in that home. I would think the people in the member's riding, knowing this, will want the same assurances. I think everybody in Ontario wants to know not only what the policy is here but also what quality of care is being provided in these halfway homes.
Indeed, in the case in Eglinton, there was quite a lapse in time before the police were informed that this person was missing. From what I understand, there was quite a lapse of time before we became aware of the events in this riding.
I will be inquiring immediately to see when the police were informed of that particular event and to make sure we are not once again running into a condition where we were not even informed after the fact of the person's escape, which would help enable us to assist in catching these people. The unfortunate thing --
In particular, he is aware of the situation facing the employees at the Royal Hotel in Sault Ste. Marie where employees such as Carmel Daynes, who worked for 19 years for that firm, and who retired last June, now cannot collect a pension or get a pension confirmed by the commission because the employer has taken the funds and not submitted either his contributions or the employer's contributions for a period of over two years.
Can the minister tell us why nothing has happened on this case, which his investigators have been looking at for six months? More than three months ago he wrote to me stating that he had been investigating this case on a high-priority basis and that his officials had been told and directed to vigorously pursue this case. What is the minister doing about this situation?
However, I will have to give the honourable member a more complete report when I have asked my officials for it. Frankly, I thought the investigation had been completed and that some decision had been taken as to whether charges would be laid or other actions taken.
NIAGARA ESCARPMENT COMMISSION
I have a copy here of his letter to his fellow commissioners to try to encourage them to do the same.
GOVERNMENT TELEPHONE DIRECTORY
I will not take all afternoon, which it would take to bring out all of the problems with this particular directory, but I would like to comment for a couple of minutes and bring some things to the attention of the House. For example, on page 11 of the directory alone, his staff managed to misspell three out of seven names of individuals employed in my leader's office, as well as making other errors in one little section.
I would like to inform the House that, contrary to the information contained in this directory, my leader's name is Brandt, not Branat. For the time being anyway, I would give the minister the benefit of the doubt that he has not sunk to some new low Liberal effort to minimize the opposition in this House in misspelling my leader's name. I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and it is probably an honest mistake --
This is the directory that is put out by this assembly. The Minister of Government Services does it on our behalf. It lists all of our names. It lists where we work. It lists what we do. For example, it puts our party ahead of the official opposition, which I do not object to, but I can tell you that maybe some others in this chamber do.
The odd little mistake we understand. The odd little typographical error we understand, but there is error after error after error. Things that just have to be transposed from one to the other have not been done well. I would point out to the House, Mr. Speaker, and I hope you will to the minister as well, that we are very disappointed in this disgraceful attempt to reflect accurately the members of this House --
SUNNYDALE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"We, the following members of Brock township, residents of Sunderland and the Sunderland Business Association, petition against the closing of the Sunnydale Children's Hospital on the grounds that Sunnydale contributes greatly to our community status and revenue through goods and services.
"The many employees and residents of our town of Sunderland and nearby communities will suffer financial hardship if this institution closes, and we feel this move is not in the best interests of the children concerned."
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
"And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment."
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
"And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment."
RETAIL STORE HOURS
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"We are against Sunday opening of retail stores."
ADULT DAY SCHOOL
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"We request that the adult day school be kept in the Peterborough Collegiate Institute and Vocational School building, whether that building be a public or separate high school. We also request that this adult school continue to be administered by the Peterborough County Board of Education.
"The majority of students come from the core area of the city. Many go home to be with their children at lunchtime and find the location convenient. The majority of the adult students do not have their own transportation and would find it difficult to travel to another school."
TRADE WITH UNITED STATES
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas there is a question that the proposed free trade agreement will threaten Canadian political sovereignty;
"Whereas there is a question the proposed free trade agreement will threaten Canadian cultural identity; and
"Whereas there is a question the proposed free trade agreement will result in the loss of jobs;
"Therefore, we support the Premier of Ontario in his opposition to the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States."
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas it is our constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of our preference; and
"Whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practice their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment."
JUNIOR PUBLIC SCH0OL
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Further to this, we, the residents of the subdivision known as Lion's Gate, Erin Mills West, wish to express our considerable concern over the urgent need for a junior public school in our community.
"We hereby petition you to communicate our collective interest in this issue to the appropriate individuals in your government."
It is signed by about 135 people.
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas it is my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
"And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practice their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment."
RETAIL STORE HOURS
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Ward moved first reading of Bill 100, An Act to amend the Education Act.
Motion agreed to.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATIONS CREDITORS PAYMENT REPEAL ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 101, An Act to repeal the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act.
Motion agreed to.
CONSTRUCTION LIEN AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Fulton moved first reading of Bill 102, An Act to amend the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
Motion agreed to.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act protects suppliers to contractors and subcontractors working on Ministry of Transportation contracts. All contracts awarded by other Ontario government ministries and agencies are subject to the Construction Lien Act. Recent events, including the bankruptcy of a subcontractor working for seven ministry contractors on nine separate projects, have revealed some shortcomings in the act. After extensive review, my ministry has decided to replace the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act with the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
The Ontario Road Builders' Association, which represents many of the contractors who bid for our contracts, has also studied this matter and concluded it would be beneficial if the construction lien legislation were amended to apply to ministry contracts. There are several reasons for this decision. For example, the necessary changes to the old act would make it similar to the lien legislation. However, it would be applicable only to a relatively small segment of the construction industry in Ontario.
Another reason for our decision was consideration of the fact that most of our contractors and subcontractors are familiar with the lien legislation since it applies to contracts they do for other government ministries and agencies as well as municipalities and private employers. They are not as familiar with the MTC creditors payment legislation since it applies only to contracts awarded by my ministry.
In our study of this matter, my ministry also found that there were a number of misconceptions regarding the extent to which creditors were protected by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications Creditors Payment Act. Taking all these facts into consideration, my ministry believes that we, our contractors and their subcontractors and suppliers of labour, materials and services, would be better served if our contracts were subject to the provisions of the Construction Lien Act, 1983.
Of course, the MTC Creditors Payment Act will continue to apply to any claim arising from a contractor's award before it is repealed.
LIVING WILL ACT
Mr. Cureatz moved first reading of Bill 103 An Act respecting Living Wills.
Motion agreed to.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDENT ACT
Mr. Cureatz moves first reading of Bill 104, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
The bill increases the monetary jurisdiction of the provincial court, civil division, across the province from $1,000 to $3,000, which is now applicable in the city of Toronto. We are trying to make it a fair process across the whole province.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Cureatz moves first reading of Bill 105, An Act to amend the Legislative Assembly Act.
Motion agreed to.
The bill provides for a nonpartisan explication of the proceedings in the House as part of the existing daily television coverage.
TABLING OF INFORMATION
On November 16, I tabled questions in this Legislature to various ministries concerning how each was advising the public about the new services offered under Bill 8. I received an interim response on December 7, stating that I could expect a full response on or about January 28. To date, I have not received that response.
I am bringing this to your attention, Mr. Speaker, in the hope that through your good office, I can get a resolution to this as soon as possible.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ONTARIO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE BOARD ACT (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 2, An Act to establish the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and to provide for the Review of Automobile Insurance Rates.
The passage of Bill 2, which we can expect with the support of the Liberal majority today is a sad day for Ontario. It is a culmination of a questionable process. It will mark the successful culmination of a carefully executed scheme designed by the tag team of the Liberal government and the insurance industry. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill because indeed it succeeds in doing what it set out to do, namely, to design a scheme whereby the Liberals get the votes, the insurance industry gets the profits and drivers of Ontario get shafted.
The people of Ontario have a right to know the way the system operates and how it has operated specifically with regard to Bill 2. Realizing the system, they will understand why Bill 2 is loaded in favour of the insurance industry and against the drivers of Ontario. As I sat on this committee, I was shocked when government members and Conservatives, at committee and in the House, accused, declared and alleged that consumers appearing before the committee were in some way planted by the New Democratic Party. This was absolutely outrageous. What are hearings for but to hear the people of Ontario? But when the people of Ontario do appear, when the drivers of Ontario do appear, when the consumers of Ontario appear, somehow or other, because they have a legitimate point of view which is in opposition to the bill, the charge of the government and the Conservative members on that committee was, "Oh, they are planted by the New Democrats."
Can members imagine if we were to take this logic and push it to its obvious conclusion? The majority of delegations at the hearings were members of the insurance industry. Are we to presume then that because they appeared at the hearings the insurance agencies, the insurance industry, the brokers, etc., are simply Liberal stooges or Conservative stooges? I think this is a very poor way to conduct this matter.
The reality of the matter is that what we are voting on in Bill 2 is indeed an offspring of what I consider to be a shady relationship between the Liberal government and the insurance industry. As proof of this close relationship, I draw the attention of this House to two items. The first appeared in a newsletter of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, dated April 10, 1987. This is the insurance brokers' association. They have set up a list of action items that they are going to put forward.
"We will conduct a second annual fund-raising drive, i.e., a political action fund. We will have and conduct briefings with the caucuses of the Ontario Liberals and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. We will establish an election campaign organization. We will be in constant communications with all Ontario MPPs -- Liberals and Conservatives. IBC has started a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign."
There is no question there is a relationship between the insurance industry and the government in moving this bill forward. If anyone has doubts that a deal was cut between the Liberal government and the insurance industry, let me put them to rest. A month after the first publication I quoted from, in the same newsletter from the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, we read, "To a great degree, both the Liberals and Conservatives have been defenders of the industry."
In moving the amendment to subsection 3(2), "At least one half of the members of the board shall be members of consumer associations or persons representative of the interests of consumers," I spoke at some length a couple of days back on the refusal of the government to be open and fair. This bill will not guarantee fairness. Indeed, it ensures that the rate-setting board remains in the hands of the tag team of the Liberals and the industry.
There will be no meaningful representation. All the amendments put forward by the New Democratic Party to emphasize our commitment to the drivers of Ontario and to ensure they would be represented and heard and fairly treated were defeated by the bloated majority of the Liberal government. We argued that the board also notify any organization or individual who asked to have his name in a registry for the purpose of receiving notification of any hearing to deal with rates. This was defeated by the government.
We argued that the board should provide funding from a pool set up by the insurance industry to interest groups participating in the hearings; again defeated by the Liberal government. We argued against extra rates being charged to individuals simply because they were related to or lived with a bad driver; again defeated by the Liberal government. We argued that policyholders should be notified when their insurance company was applying to raise their rates above the amount prescribed; again defeated by the Liberal government.
We argued that we should be examining a driver-owned automobile insurance plan. With a majority on committee and with a majority in the House, this government is not going to make that comparison. The evidence we heard in the committee suggests that the driver-owned automobile insurance plan is cheaper, is more efficient, is more effective and is supported by the people in the provinces in which it has been implemented, and it has not been removed by those governments that followed NDP governments which introduced that legislation. Any government in those three western provinces would remove that plan at its peril.
I have spoken of the futility of Bill 2's avowed purpose of providing a window on the industry. In appealing to the voters of Ontario, the government said, "We will be able to see what the rates are." You have the insurance industry saying in its own literature that it is setting up a political action fund to support the Liberals in achieving power, when I believe most of the members in this House have a conflict of interest on this bill because they received significant, direct financial support from the insurance industry as they contested the election of September 10.
There is hardly a riding where the New Democrats were given an opportunity of winning the election where the insurance industry did not infiltrate with massive mailings of literature. Those Liberal members who won those seats have a responsibility, a debt to pay to the insurance industry. I believe they have a conflict of interest in voting on this bill because the insurance industry put them where they are sitting now and this afternoon they are going to pay their debt back to the insurance industry by saying: "Don't worry, boys. You supported us when we needed a vote. We are going to support you now that we are in power. When we have this window in the industry, the only people who will look in through that window will be the Liberal government and the insurance industry. We will have that tokenism."
Of course, as a committee member said -- this was the extraordinary thing, the most extraordinary thing I heard on the committee: "Everybody on the board is a consumer. Even if they are presidents of insurance companies, they are consumers." That is absolutely ridiculous. We demand that significant numbers of that board, if it is to be fair, must be representative of consumers. We demand that there must be a registry for consumers. We demand that the consumers must be notified when there is going to be an increase over and above the rate. We demand that there be funds available for consumers to appeal the process.
But every demand that we made, every time we put something forward that said, "Let us do this for the consumers to make sure that this bill is fair," the Liberals used their majority. They said no. Every time they said no they paid back a little bit of that debt to the insurance industry. As a result, what is going to happen is that the public perception of this bill, the public perception of this act when it is passed, the public perception of this board when it is functioning, is going to be that it is still unfair.
There is still going to remain in Ontario the reality of distrust. If the government thinks that the drivers of Ontario are going to say, "Hey guys, we trust you now," when only the Liberal government and the insurance industry has access to the window, then it is badly mistaken.
Finally, we are going to see the gouging of Ontario drivers by means of escalating premiums continue. All the charade we have gone through is for nothing, absolutely nothing. I should not really say that, because there were some results, were there not? The Liberals got the votes, the insurance industry got the profits and the drivers got shafted. So there were results, and it is unfortunate.
As I wind up, let me say that as a new member of the New Democratic Party caucus, as a new member of this House, it was a pleasure for me to sit on the committee with the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart). I knew the drivers of Ontario had a champion. I knew there was an honest individual who had given his total commitment to defending the consumers of Ontario. To work alongside this man and to watch day after day his commitment was an inspiration to me as a New Democrat.
We are proud as a party, inspired by the member for Welland-Thorold, to stand beside the drivers of Ontario, to stand beside the consumers and to say to the consumers of Ontario that it is a sad day for us in some respects. We have to be sad when we see the duplicity in moving forward a bill that continues to pressure the drivers with escalating costs.
But as well as being sad, we are also proud. I was in the committee. I worked with the member for Welland-Thorold. We fought every step of the way. I think we can give a guarantee to the consumers out there, to the drivers out there, that we will continue this fight. The fact that this bill passes today is not the end of the battle; it is the beginning of the battle. But the battleground has changed because up to now, when the drivers of Ontario were getting upset, when the drivers of Ontario were getting those extra premium increases and when the drivers of Ontario were angry, they were angry with the insurance industry.
But believe me, from today, after the bloated Liberal majority files in and sheepishly passes this bill, not only will the drivers of Ontario be looking at the insurance industry, they will also be looking at this government, which has been a partner in the betrayal of the drivers of Ontario.
We may not like the machinations of the financial power brokers of this province, but we must admire their ability to maintain control. You know, they worked so long with the Conservatives and, indeed, received loyal and faithful support, but there comes a time in the history of a province when governments do change. The insurance industry made that adjustment very smoothly, but they made that adjustment because they found a willing party.
The New Democrats will never succumb to that kind of relationship. We will work with the people, we will fight with the people, and lower insurance will remain a priority for the New Democratic Party.
I do not know why I am defending the government, because I am very unhappy with the way it has handled this issue. I am very unhappy with what they told the people on the one hand and then intended to do on the other hand. Those facts are undeniable and indisputable, and it is a despicable act the way they handled this issue and many others, although I do respect a party's right to adopt a position that another group may have put forward. Certainly, I would respect the New Democratic Party's right to do that; I would respect the government's right to do that.
I would suggest that maybe the member would like to clarify that. In fact, it was the significant misrepresentation that went on in the campaign that is the real problem here.
But you know, the bottom line is that they must be subservient to one master player, and the reality of the matter is that ordinary folks go about their lives thinking that a change in government will make a difference, but little do they realize that the new government is in the employ of the same master. That is the point I am making: that there really are political power brokers. There are groups that control our future through background orchestration of major political parties. Those individuals, those sinister forces that pull the strings on our political marionettes, are the great manipulators of our destiny.
I have no illusions about saying that the insurance industry, with the tremendous financial lobby, as indicated in its own literature -- and that lobby was put out into every riding where New Democrats were running. Indeed, in my own riding I can tell you that insurance industry material in support of the Liberal government and the Conservative Party went into every mailbox. Really, it does not matter to those financial interests which one of the two gets elected, as long as it does their will. The Conservatives did their will, the Liberal Party is doing their will; until the drivers, the consumers, the people of Ontario, realize there is a party that will stand up for their interests against the financial interests, and we are here and ready to do the job.
I do want to comment just for a few moments. It is fortunate that I have the opportunity to follow the response of the member, because from my view and I think from the view of the member for Leeds-Grenville -- l always forget whether it is Grenville-Leeds or Leeds-Grenville -- l have never considered the Toronto Star a Liberal paper. It is a totally socialist paper. The only time it supports the Liberal Party is when the Liberal Party adopts totally socialist positions, and that is what we have seen happen in the last two years in this province.
I want to talk about the bill briefly. I want to tell members why I am opposed to this bill and I want to tell them what I think is wrong with the principle of what the government is doing.
This bill does absolutely nothing to address the problems of insurance rates. It will not lower insurance rates one cent. In fact, in my opinion and in the view of many, it will lead to substantial increases in insurance rates in this province, increases that there is no need for, and it does that by removing competition from the marketplace.
This bill does nothing to look at tort reform, which would lower insurance rates. It does nothing to look at the repair industry, which would, in my opinion and in the opinion of many, lower insurance rates in this province.
I use as an example windshield replacements. Most members, in their home towns, as in my home town and as I have seen in Toronto, will drive by window repair shops and they have big signs now, advertising right in the windows, "No deductible; we will pay the deductible for you." I do not know how they get away with that. That is not the principle of the deductible on insurance. "Got a little nick in your windshield? Come on in here. Get a brand new one." It does not cost you $50 or $100, as your deductible is supposed to charge you. In my opinion, that leads to many more windshields being replaced than otherwise would be replaced.
I use that as an example, and I do not specify any one industry. There are some in my town that do it and it is wrong. Those who are out there know it is wrong. That is not the principle.
This bill does not go after some of the reasons for rising insurance costs. Tort reform and the repair industry, in my opinion, are two areas that could begin to address why auto insurance rates have escalated in this province and would reduce insurance rates in this province.
So what does this bill do then, if it does not really get at the crux of what the problems are? This bill, in my opinion, applies monopoly logic to what should be a competitive industry. I have seen what has happened when we set up government review boards, if you like, or government rate-setting boards, and I use for example Bell Telephone, which has a monopoly. Because it has a monopoly and competition is not there to reduce or to allow or prohibit, if you like, or discourage a corporation charging far more than is logical, one of the things that is done in a monopoly situation -- the granting of that monopoly -- is it must accept a rate-setting mechanism.
But what happens in those case -- and I have seen it with Ontario Hydro, which has a monopoly and its rates have to be reviewed -- is that the review takes place from the point of view that they look at the costs and they ask, "Are these costs of the industry?" There is no incentive for the industry to control wages because it passes the costs on, plus a percentage. There is no incentive to not build a $400-million head office building, as opposed to renting something more modest, because you can pass the costs on.
There is incentive in hiring a large team of lawyers and accountants to go before the rate review board and justify all the costs and they are very good and very successful at it. It is one of the problems that we have in controlling monopoly industries. I accept that we have to keep working at it because there is nothing else when there is a monopoly industry, but it does not work nearly as well as the marketplace. It does not work as the marketplace works.
I have heard many arguments from my colleagues in the New Democratic Party who have agreed with me, I have heard them use their arguments on free trade. I have heard the leader of the New Democratic Party say it may lead to lower prices -- a free trade agreement, freer trade, that principle. Then he goes on, and where we start to lose one another is where he says because it may lead to lowering costs in those industries he has concerns, which I accept as legitimate concerns from his viewpoint, on occupational health and safety, wage rates or what not. None the less, they do accept the argument that competition reduces prices.
In my view, this bill is to restrict competition in the insurance industry instead of attacking the very legitimate reasons and things that could be done to reduce auto insurance rates in this province. I do not want to review all the tort reform proposals that have been put forward by the various groups, but I want to mention that this bill does none of those and there are avenues there that have been proposed by the insurance industry, by the Law Society of Upper Canada and by other groups that have put forward proposals that would indeed reduce insurance rates.
Lack of competition: what is going to be removed now from the marketplace in Ontario, or limited to a very great extent, is the incentive for a company to say: "Go out there and get those premiums even if you have got to cut costs. Even if you have got to cut the premiums, go out and get it because we have got such a shrewd investment department we will make it back there." That happens, we saw that in the insurance industry. Some companies run into problems, but that is competition. The good ones survive; the good ones do well.
What is the result of that? The result is lower premiums, lower insurance rates here in Ontario. So were there problems? Of course there were problems. There were problems that tort reform could have addressed. There were problems in the repair industry that could have been addressed.
Instead of trying to encourage more competition, the government comes out with something that goes the other way and makes it worse. That is why I do not support this legislation and I do not support the principle of what the government wants to do with it. I believe it will lead to significantly higher insurance costs in this province. I believe that is what will occur.
I will tell members where I disagree with my colleagues in the New Democratic Party who believe this is a sellout. Quite frankly, I believe this may lead to more pressure for government-run auto insurance. It may lead to that because it is not going to work. That is the basic principle and why my party and I cannot support this legislation.
The second thing I want to comment on is, given that the government is going to go in this direction, how is it going to go in this direction. My colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville pointed out in his remarks yesterday how Alberta was able to set up a rate review board, with two full-time staff and a part-time board, that consumers and industry say does the job.
So how does this Liberal government plan to proceed? The same way it proceeds in other areas. The same way it proceeds in the Social Assistance Review Board. Instead of some part-time people bringing their expertise there, it says: "No, that is not good enough. We have to pay these people big bucks."
Interestingly enough, many of them are Liberal appointments. There is no doubt about that in anybody's mind. I think the member for Leeds-Grenville has pointed that out and proven it beyond a doubt. The sad part is that even $55,000 a year was not enough for them to be at the trough. They had to get it bumped up to $61,000 or $62,000. But that is how this Liberal government dealt with that. They went from part-time people, keeping it part-time, to "Let's get a bigger and fuller bureaucracy."
What have they proposed in this? Alberta does it with two full-time staff and a part-time board. We are going to do it with 100 staff. That is what the ministry tells us. It is going to take 100 employees to do it in Ontario. The only good job creation record this government has is in creating jobs for civil servants and increasing the government payroll. We do not agree with proceeding that way. We do not think the name of the game is to advertise job creation in terms of the thousands and thousands of new civil servants the government can figure out how to hire. We are not happy with what we see of how the government is going to implement the bill. I want to get that on the record.
Finally, we will be interested because nothing has been said about who these board people are going to be. We have had some discussions about whether they should come from the insurance industry or the consumer associations, but I have not heard any discussions about how they are going to be appointed. Is it going to be another patronage trough for Liberals? Is it going to come to the Legislature to recommend people and approve those people? Are they going to go to consumer associations and say, "You tell us who you want on the board"; or are they going to say, "You can recommend some people you want, but we will appoint who we want all on our own in a Liberal order-in-council appointment"?
We will be watching with interest and I hope that we do not see the chairman being some Liberal hack, somebody like John Kruger or somebody with a pipeline into the Premier's office. I hope that in fact, for the first time in history since this government has taken office, it is not a partisan appointment.
Those are my remarks. We will be voting against this bill because we disagree with the principle. We will be voting against this bill because we think it will lead to higher insurance rates than need be necessary in this province. We will not vote for this bill because it does nothing to address the very real problems that have led to insurance rates that we believe are higher than necessary in this province. We will vote against this bill, as well, because we do not have confidence in this government to implement it in anything but a very extravagant, expensive and wasteful way. We are not happy about this bill because we think it will lead to a number of Liberal patronage appointments.
I say this because I have just finished celebrating my sixth anniversary as leader of our party. I know it feels like a lot longer than that to some members, but it is really just six years. It was the member for Welland-Thorold who had something to do with my seeking that office and winning the election. He nominated me at our convention. Our friendship extends well before that. I can only say, as I stand, that his is a friendship that I really do value. His is an example that I truly admire. I think he is a source of admiration and inspiration for every member of our party whether in the caucus or outside.
The member for Welland-Thorold has been a tremendous fighter on behalf of the people of his constituency, the people of his part of Ontario with his campaign on car insurance, which he and I initiated not too long ago. The member has been seen, I think, as a fighter on behalf of all the people of the province and all the drivers of the province.
Perhaps I may be permitted for one brief moment to say, "Mel, we love you, admire you and appreciate the extraordinary work you have done on behalf of the drivers of the province." If only he were over there as minister on behalf of the drivers, we would have a better deal, we would have a better bill, we would have a better law, lower insurance rates and a fairer deal for the drivers of this province. If only the member for Welland-Thorold was the minister instead of the member for Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk.
Let me say, Madam Speaker, as you assume your position in the chair, that our opposition to this bill has been very clear from the beginning. I listened carefully to the remarks of the House leader of the third party. He closed by saying he felt one of the things this bill might do would be to increase the possibility of our having to move to a public plan.
I can only say that I do not know whether that is true or not. I do know this scheme is not going to work. I do have a very strong sense this scheme is not going to work on behalf of drivers.
I do think it is going to work on behalf of the insurance companies. For that reason, I do not know whether it is going to lead to a public plan, when the insurance companies see that what this bill does is to guarantee a year-in, year-out rate of return for the insurance companies; not overall, not their whole business, not simply that, but with respect to car insurance.
What have the insurance companies been telling us over the last number of years? They have been telling us during the election they had their industry captains in every constituency. I am sure in your own riding, Madam Speaker, the insurance industry was there looking to see which side members would be on, who was going to be speaking for the industry, who was going to be speaking against the New Democratic Party, who was going to be attacking the possibility of a public plan for Ontario.
Their message throughout the last little while has been very consistent. Their message has been: "We are losing on car insurance. We are not making any money on our car insurance lines." Some companies say, "We are going to get out of car insurance because we are not making any money." I have no idea whether this is true or not, for no other reason than that the insurance companies will not tell us; they will not give us the audited statements.
I challenged them in the election campaign. I said: "Tell us how much you are making. Tell us what your costs of administration are. Tell us how much money you are losing on claims. Tell us what your overall losses are. Tell us how much you are paying in dividends to shareholders as a percentage of your car insurance business. Give us that information and we will assess whether or not you are losing money on car insurance." They would not do that. I am not saying they are losing money. I am saying they are saying they are losing money.
I say with respect to the remarks made by the member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) that it is not really a competitive industry because it is providing a monopolized service, but it is providing a compulsory service. You have to have insurance in order to drive. It is very hard to talk about a purely competitive situation, because if the market were purely competitive you would have a choice as to whether to buy or not to buy. That is what a truly competitive situation is.
In that situation, if you want to give consumers a fair deal in that kind of market, in any marketplace, the consumer has to have the ultimate choice, not whether he will go to a different seller but whether he will go to any seller. That is how you have a truly competitive marketplace and that is when the consumer can say, "I do not want to buy this product." But if you have to buy the product, you already have the element of, if you like, a monopolized need. The need is monopolized by government, by us, by the law. We require people to have insurance as a matter of law.
Perhaps I could make a comparison to the nursing home industry, for example. I use the word "industry" on purpose because that is what it has become. In that field, if you want to get into a nursing home, you have to qualify for extended care; and if you want to operate a nursing home, you have to have a licence. When people talk about, "It is a competitive situation," there is nothing competitive about it.
Every nursing home, whether it is good or lousy, whether it has a good health record or a lousy record, has a long waiting list. Why? Because there are a lot more people waiting to get in than there are spaces. Do not talk to me about a free or enterprising system; there is nothing free or enterprising about that system. It combines the worst of a government regulated system, with all the uniformities that requires, with all the disadvantages of a private profit system in that the benefits that come from the government go exclusively to the companies. That is precisely what we are going to see in the insurance field.
I want to suggest that this really is a very direct parallel to the question of health insurance and I want to suggest that 20 years ago our country and our province were faced with some choices. Perhaps it is worth recalling that debate and that division of opinion in this House as well as in the country.
When the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan started, first, hospital insurance in the 1940s, and then full-blown health care, fully insured by the government in the early 1960s, it was the first government in all of North America to do that and it was called every name in the book. It was called Communist; it was called Nazi; it was called Soviet. It was called whatever name you wanted to describe it by the doctors and the others, by the Saskatchewan Medical Association and the private insurance companies in Saskatchewan, which fought it tooth and nail.
When that system came to Ontario and Canada, because it had worked so well in Saskatchewan and because the logic of that system was so compelling and the advantage of that system was so compelling, what was the compromise suggested for Ontario by the Conservative Premier of the province, who happened to be the member for London Centre? What was the suggestion?
Premier Robarts suggested: "What we will do is we will have a compulsory plan in the sense that everybody will have health insurance, but we will add a catch. We will make the private insurance companies the deliverers of the service. So we will have all the insurance companies competing to provide care under the health care system to people who are sick."
The federal government of the day, Mr. Pearson's government, which was a minority government, looked at that scheme and just said: "It is not going to work. All you are going to end up doing is having your costs dictated by the private insurance companies and at the same time those costs will be borne by government and taxpayers, which means that you are going to have excess administration, excess regulation, excess profit, all of it subsidized, guaranteed, sanctified, rubber-stamped and paid for by taxpayers."
Let me say this. Mike Pearson showed courage when he said it was no good. Tommy Douglas showed courage when he said it was no good. Let me say this to you, Madam Speaker, it was no good for health care in 1967 and it is no good for car insurance in 1988 in Ontario.
That is as clear a choice as we are facing. We are facing a system right now in Ontario, or what the government of Ontario is doing is saying, "You have to have insurance if you want to drive." All of us agree with that. They are also saying, "Every insurance company that provides insurance has a right to make a profit.'' That is contained in the meaning of the regulations that are there. They have a right to what is described as a fair return.
The member should go back and listen to what his political master said, now the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter). He made it very clear when he was asked questions on the bill, which is exactly the same as this bill. He said as far as he was concerned, insurance companies had a right to make a profit. They were not in business to take a loss, and if that is what it took to keep them in business, that is what the government was going to do to keep them in business. That is the implication of this law and that is the meaning of this law.
What does that mean? It means that for insurance companies, that have costs of administration that are 40 cents on the dollar -- when we look at public plans they have costs of administration somewhere between 18 cents and 23 cents on the dollar, but in the case of that extra 17 cents or 18 cents on the dollar, who is paying for that?
We are; drivers. Who is telling us we have to pay it? Not the insurance companies any more, but the government.
There will be a big red stamp of approval on every insurance bill that goes out from your insurance company. That big red stamp on it will say, "Approved." Approved by whom? Approved by a board appointed by the Premier (Mr. Peterson). That is exactly what is going on.
I say to the Liberal Party of Ontario that it will regret the day it brought in this bill. Every time somebody comes to me with a problem on insurance -- and they are still coming, still phoning and still calling -- I am going to say to them: "Go to the man with 94 seats. Go to the man who put his stamp of approval on every bill that you are going to get. Go to the man who guarantees to Wawanesa and to all the other insurance companies -- name them across the board, Royal Insurance, the Co-operators -- go to the man who said they had a God-given right to make money delivering car insurance in the province of Ontario, and who is going to sanction it, approve it and guarantee it as the Premier of the province. That is the man to talk to. Go to the man who said he did not want to have anything to do with something as terrifying as a driver-owned plan."
I can recall over the last two and a half years a number of issues where the Premier has said, "I don't know whether we can do that or not. Don't push us too hard on that one. I don't know whether we can make it." Whether the issue was pay equity or whether the issue was ending extra billing by doctors, he has said: "Don't push us too hard. Don't go too fast. No, we can't do it."
Then once the logic was there, once the political direction was there and once the spine was put into the government to say, "This is what you have to do for that brief two-year period;" oh my gosh, all of a sudden it becomes the status quo and they say: "Not so bad after all. Not so terrible after all. Not so terrifying after all."
I want to suggest that is exactly the case with driver-owned car insurance. Members have heard the logic of the arguments in committee, and I know people will say: "What about Manitoba? What about British Columbia? What about Saskatchewan? The rates have gone up in the public plans." One can only say, "Yes, rates have gone up under public plans." There are pressures on all insurance plans across the world. There are pressures on all plans on car insurance. Everybody knows that.
The question is, how do we best meet those pressures? Do we meet them by building the principle of profiteering and profit-making into that system or do we meet them by building the principle of public service and efficiency into the system? I say give me the notion of public service over private enrichment every time, if we can do it fairly, if it is a monopolized service anyway and if the system can be demonstrated to be more fair and more efficient.
I am quite happy to take the case on behalf of an effective public service effectively delivered. I do not believe a system of insurance which costs in terms of administration somewhere between 36 cents, 37 cents, 42 cents or 43 cents on the dollar is a very efficient scheme. I do not think that is efficient. I do not think it is a reasonable cost for drivers in this province to have to bear. I do not think we should be subsidizing that kind of a system.
Obviously, this bill is going to pass. We certainly recognize the size of the Liberal majority with regard to this bill, but I think it is important for us to appreciate the campaign that has led up to its being passed. It is the response from the Liberal Party to the campaign that my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold and the members of the New Democratic Party have led on behalf of drivers for over two years. It is a response that has taken two years to create.
What is that response? That response is to set up a level of bureaucrats, all of whom will have their rubber stamps in hand. There will be government-issue rubber stamps from the Ministry of Government Services. They will be there, ready for the insurance companies saying, "We need a rate increase of 15 per cent, 20 per cent, 25 per cent or 30 per cent;" and this is what we get.
Look at the experience of the Ontario Energy Board. Consumers Gas comes in and says, "This what we need." Consumers Gas puts forward its guaranteed rate of return, and the energy board says: "Maybe the rate of return is a little bit too high. We will adjust it a little bit." But there will always be that guaranteed rate of return to the shareholders of Consumers Gas.
I was shocked and disappointed to see the remarks of the chairman of Consumers Gas, Mr. Aird, who happens to be a former Lieutenant Governor of the province, saying that the only trouble with this winter was that it was not cold enough in terms of the profits that Consumers Gas wanted to make. It was important for everybody to pray for more cold weather so they could make some more money.
I think what we are looking at here in the insurance business is exactly the same issue as we face in these other situations. I come back to my point and I will make it as clearly as I can. The rates that are charged to drivers in the public plans are lower. That is no accident. That is because the costs of administration are lower. That is because the return on investment is higher. Those facts are there; they are indisputable. No matter how you cut it, no matter how you add them up, those facts are there.
The only thing preventing this government from doing the same thing for Ontario is the fact that it is committed to the private insurance industry in this province, that it is not concerned about public efficiency and that it is ideologically blind to the advantages of a public plan.
I can think of one or two members opposite who said to me when they were members of my own caucus -- and I look forward to seeing how they are going to vote today, because that will be an interesting flip-flop to explain -- when they went to their own voters and said, "Oh, I think a public plan is good." Even after they switched parties they were saying to their own supporters, "You know, the one thing I do agree with the New Democratic Party on is this question of public insurance." Publicly they said it. In the newspapers they said it. In the newsletters that we, the taxpayers, pay for and that they send to their own constituencies they said it. And many other members have said to me privately: "Oh, yes, we support the notion of public insurance; you are right. But really we have no choice. This is the way the system works; this is the way it is."
I just want to say, this bill will go through. It will lead to higher rates. It will lead to a continuing ripoff of the drivers of Ontario. It will lead to a guaranteed rate of return and a guaranteed profit to the insurance industry. It will mean that all the drivers of the province will be paying too much. It means the insurance industry will be given succor and support and nourishment from this government in its attack on our party and those of us who believe in a public plan. That will continue right through until the next election, and it will be paid for by drivers' bills, which bills will be sanctioned and sanctified and made holy and pure by the activity of the Liberal Party of Ontario and its determination to make those bills holy and pure and sanctified.
I think it is a bad law. I think we could do a lot better on behalf of drivers. I am very sorry that we do not have more members to make that happen, I really am. I have enjoyed the first stage of this campaign. It has been an experience and a lesson in political democracy for me that I will not readily forget. But, Madam Speaker, do not come crying to us when the bills start to go up. They are going to go up and it is because of the Liberal Party that they are going up, and that is the bottom line.
The former Minister of Financial Institutions, when he rose on April 23 to announce the six-pronged reform package of this government, alluded to the fact that we had waited for the insurance companies to act, and they had not acted; we had requested specific remedies and reforms, and they had not come forward, or had come forward too slowly. So on April 23, when he rose, he announced, among other things, a temporary capping of insurance rates; the creation of the auto insurance review board; the mandatory uniform classification system eliminating the use of age, sex and marital status; the Motor Vehicle Repair Act, which my friend the member for Nipissing has conveniently forgotten, to control the prices charged for auto insurance repairs. He announced the commission of the Honourable Mr. Justice Coulter Osborne to study the alternative form of compensation, no-fault compensation to the court system, and he referred to the tort reform examination being conducted by the Ontario Law Reform Commission.
In addition, he announced amendments to the Insurance Act which would increase consumer protection, would increase enforcement remedies of the office of the superintendent of insurance and expand disclosure of information to consumers about how rates are set, why rates are set, what rates are, what classes they are in and financial information they need as consumers.
Of the six elements of reform, the bill before us, Bill 2, has only one of those elements. The purpose of Bill 2, quite simply put -- not as my friends in the opposition would put it but as it is stated in the act, not in their minds as they imagine it might be but as it is stated in the act -- is to set rates which are fair and equitable, not excessive nor inadequate. The two principles behind this bill are, first, stability in the market; and second, disclosure of the rate-setting process via public hearings.
One important aspect of the bill is the mandatory classification system, which eliminates the use of age, sex, marital status and disability as rating criteria. This initiative was fully supported by the human rights commission, and we hoped it would have been done quite some time ago. In fact, I can recall reading, and some members here may recall hearing the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in 1979 announcing that that government intended to rid us of discrimination on the basis of age, sex, marital status and disability in insurance rating.
It did not happen. This government did it. This government did it in a committee, and the committee system worked. Contrary to what the member for Cambridge (Mr. Farnan) has told this House, and I think the member for Welland-Thorold will agree, the committee worked well, it was a good exercise in democracy and there were no stonewalls.
Once we achieve passage of this bill, the House willing, I want to mention that the government will be recommending to the Lieutenant Governor the appointment of John Kruger as the first chairman of this auto insurance board. Mr. Kruger, as members will know, not only has served this government in his civil service capacity very well -- he is chairman of the Pension Commission of Ontario and will continue for a period of time to allow for an orderly transition to his full-time capacity as chairman of the auto insurance board -- but he has also served well in his employment with the Metro Toronto government.
Having said that, I would like to comment briefly on some of the material that was put before the standing committee on administration of justice, simply because we have heard so much of the passion and vigour of our friend the member for Welland-Thorold.
He has told us and his party has brought before us its program. In my own way, I would applaud the member for his compassion and vigour but not for his ideas and not for his program. I would remind you, Madam Speaker, you may not be aware, but the member for Welland-Thorold was pursuing this quite some time ago.
I am quoting from the Welland-Port Colborne Tribune: "The Liberal candidate in Welland riding today accepted the invitation to debate automobile insurance rates. The debate challenge was issued early last week by the NDP candidate, Mel Swart, and the formal request from that candidate was received by the Liberal candidate. The Liberal candidate agreed that the matter of automobile insurance is of significance to the public in his riding. As soon as the Progressive Conservative Party candidate is formally chosen, they agreed to arrange a debate."
The only thing I would say in addition is that that was the Welland-Port Colborne Tribune in 1967. I do not know whether the member for Welland-Thorold did get his debate or not, but I can say that in the standing committee on justice we had a debate. We heard the evidence. People came from British Columbia, they came from Saskatchewan, they came from Manitoba and they told us what their experiences were.
I would like to read to the House from Hansard, the record, just a few comments that were made:
A Mr. Garriock, a chartered insurance broker in Manitoba, past president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Manitoba, also an insurance broker in Ontario, said: "The advantages within the Autopac system are that our government in the province has done away with the age, sex and marital discrimination features which, in my opinion, are a very obvious flaw within the Ontario system."
We have done away with it. That is the flaw he cited, and we have done away with it. He goes on talking about the Manitoba experience: "Perhaps a solution would be something along the line of what you people are looking at right now in Bill 2 ... ."
The solution he is looking for is a solution to 24 per cent rate increases and escalating rate increases. He says perhaps the solution is "what you people are looking at right now in Bill 2, which I am personally much in favour of. I wish there was something like that in Manitoba, where there would be an independent review board." They do not have an independent review board in Manitoba.
Joe Stark, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan, talking about the Saskatchewan experience, told the committee "as all drivers are rated equally and no provision is made for claims-free or conviction-free drivers, we feel that the rates in Saskatchewan are higher than those of other provinces that do not have government auto insurance." That is the head of the brokers in Saskatchewan. The classification system here proposes to rate people on the basis of their driver experience, driver history, the very thing which the Saskatchewan government-run program does not do and the people of Saskatchewan find objectionable.
I go on. Mr. Stark again, the chief broker in Saskatchewan: "A general concern of drivers who move into the province, and from my own agency I can attest to it, is that they always think Saskatchewan's rates are going to be lower. They are quite surprised when they get there to find they are paying more than they paid in the private province for comparable coverage."
Again: "The insured deals directly with the company and if he has some problems with the company" -- this is the public auto insurance company -- "he feels that the minister or his member of the Legislative Assembly should be able to help him." I know my friend the member for Leeds-Grenville referred to this yesterday. This is a Saskatchewan broker saying: "I heard a statistic at one time in one of the claims offices that one of every two claims had a ministerial inquiry on it because of the MLA. Once one person starts doing it, they feel it -- it can be a real problem for the government." I am sure it can, and that is the testimony we heard.
We heard a lot of testimony about the difference in rates. I can tell members that my friend the member for Welland-Thorold asked the Clerk of the Legislature to perform a mathematical calculation which showed that rates are lower in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia than they are in Ontario. But just for the purposes of the record, if someone ever reads these things, I would like to point out that that calculation excluded a few factors.
First, it said that the Ontario rates were based upon gross premium income and the public company programs were based on net premium incomes, so he had less premiums in his calculations and it automatically resulted in lower rates in the calculations.
Second, his calculations were done in 1986. In 1987, Manitoba increased its rates 24 per cent, BC increased its rates 22 per cent and Ontario capped its rates. I would like to look at the 1988 figures.
Third, and this is most important, and I will come back to it because it refers back to the reforms initiated by this government and that we are still working on: The average bodily injury claim, we were told by the president of Autopac, in Manitoba is $5,200. I am advised by the insurance industry, I will be quite frank, that the average cost of a bodily injury claim here is $19,000.
Once we have a board, members will be able to get that information and make their own comparisons, but we have heard it is $5,200 in Manitoba and more than $19,000 in Ontario. I can tell members that everyone in every system, no matter where it is located, says there is one thing about premiums that all can agree on: The cost of auto insurance, the price of the premium, is driven by one thing and one thing alone, and that is the cost of the claims.
"Liability is what is killing us here. Liability costs are up 61 per cent from 1983 to 1986." ICBC president Thomas Holmes said, "The drivers of this province, to a large extent, set their own premiums."
In any event, I have suggested to members why they cannot compare the rates which are produced, whether it is by brokers or by legislative research offices, and, in fact, I am not alone when I make that statement. We heard in the standing committee from the president of the Insurance Agents' Association of British Columbia. This is what he had to say about comparisons of rates:
"The only comment I can make is that any of these comparisons, to my mind, are not worth the paper they are written on because there have been so many and each side refutes the other one. If you have the information there from the corporation, it is going to give you a perfectly legitimate and worthwhile example, and you will believe in it, that its premiums are less, and yet you get information that will equally stand on its own from the other side and it will show that they are less."
Again he goes on, "The factor that makes it so difficult'' to compare rates "is that, for example, the total population of vehicles in British Columbia is just over two million. You have over two million vehicles within 100 miles of this seat," speaking of this House. "...So you have a totally different exposure, a totally different weather pattern" and, I might add, a totally different claims experience.
That was a man who writes insurance in British Columbia.
We also heard from a gentleman who is president of Wellington Insurance Co., Murray Wallace, but has the added benefit of four years' experience as past president of the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Corp. So he has seen both sides. He says:
"If you take a look at the situation in British Columbia...every auto insurance situation provincially is completely different in terms of the things that drive the loss-cost database. That is why rate comparisons are so futile and that is why they can be used to advantage by us in the industry, or by people who are proponents of public auto insurance."
"I would like to say" -- and this is the man who has seen both sides of the story -- "and I can say this dispassionately, having been fired by two separate governments of different stripes" -- yours and yours, not ours -- "that there is no valid comparison between the operation of a proposed public automobile insurance plan in Ontario and what happens in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
"In the case of the Saskatchewan, which I do know well, we have had a wide range of discretionary alternatives available to us in representing what were the costs of the system."
Having heard that evidence, I can tell members that many of the committee members who came to that committee without their minds made up have said to me, "We did not hear the same evidence, we do not think, that the member for Welland-Thorold heard." I suggest that he puts it forward with passion, but I suggest that the evidence just simply did not support it.
We had the public hearing. That has been done. What we are dealing with now is Bill 2. Quite frankly, I would suggest that, as only one part of an overall reform package, Bill 2 will accomplish the purposes which the government has set out: that is, major reform in the insurance industry, the premium-setting process and the cost of claims and adjustment.
I suggest that for all those reasons I would urge everyone in this House to support this bill. I am much more optimistic about its prospects for the future, particularly with the appointment of our new chairman. That is all I have to say.
I also want to say with regard to the comments of all these people -- the parliamentary assistant knows this to be correct -- from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia that the bottom line for every one of them was that yes, they should keep the public system. There was not one that recommended they abolish the public system. Even the Conservative spokesman from Manitoba, from the official opposition, as the bottom line on the question said: "No, it is not the policy of our party that it should be abolished. We do not think that would be right. We do not think the people would put up with it."
The parliamentary assistant talks about how you cannot compare the premiums. I stated that when you compare premiums you cannot give an exact comparison. But when the premiums in British Columbia are 20 per cent lower than they are here -- that is today, not two years ago -- when they are 40 per cent lower in Manitoba and almost 50 per cent lower in Saskatchewan, I want to say to the member that those small differences -- in fact, they have more coverage out there than we do here. We do not compare that. They have more accidents. It stands up that those plans are substantially cheaper than they are here.
Stability in the marketplace: I did not know any auto insurance companies were leaving Ontario. What is the stability this bill had to provide? Was there a problem with rates? Yes. What has this government done? It has frozen rates at the highest level they have ever been at in Ontario and now it has provided a mechanism so those rates can automatically be higher and higher and higher. It is a joke that this is to provide stability in the marketplace.
Public disclosure and review we agree with, but this bill sets rates we disagree with. This is not the way you treat an industry. It takes all the competition out and now it is going to give it rate-setting power which means it will operate like a monopoly, as I explained before; two lousy reasons, by the way, two inappropriate reasons to suggest why this bill was brought in.
The member also said the committee hearings worked well. They did not want hearings. He quoted all the things that happened in the hearings that helped him. They did not want them. We are here this week for three bills that they all wanted before Christmas. "We want these before Christmas without hearings." He should not take credit for anything he heard in hearings on conflict of interest, on municipal elections or on auto insurance. He did not want to hear from the people.
The last thing I want to say is that it is a disgrace the minister responsible is not here. He was here for next to nothing of the debate. He ran in after committee of the whole House. He moved third reading and then he ran out. He has been here for next to nothing of the debate. He is not here on the final day. He is not here on the wrapup. Now there is nobody to even wrap up for the government or comment on behalf of the government because the minister is not here, and that is a disgrace.
The House divided on Hon. R. F. Nixon's motion for third reading of Bill 2, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ballinger, Beer, Bossy, Callahan, Caplan, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Daigeler, Dietsch, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Kanter, Kerrio, Kozyra, LeBourdais, Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella;
Mahoney, Mancini, Matrundola, McClelland, McGuigan, Miclash, Morin, Neumann, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Oddie Munro, Offer, Owen, Patten, Peterson, Phillips, G., Poirier, Polsinelli, Poole, Ramsay, Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Ruprecht, Smith, E. J., Sola, Sorbara, Stoner, Sweeney, Tatham, Velshi, Ward, Wong, Wrye.
Allen, Brandt, Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Cureatz, Eves, Farnan, McCague, Philip, E., Pollock, Pouliot, Rae, B., Reville, Runciman, Sterling, Swart, Villeneuve, Wildman.
Ayes 69; nays 26.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
ROYAL ASSENT / SANCTION ROYALE
Bill 1, An Act respecting Conflicts of Interest of Members of the Assembly and the Executive Council;
Le projet de loi 1, Loi concernant les conflits d'intérêts des membres de l'Assemblée et du Conseil des ministres.
Bill 2, An Act to establish the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and to provide for the Review of Automobile Insurance Rates; Bill 29, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Au nom de sa Majesté, Son Honneur le lieutenant-gouverneur sanctionne ces projets de loi.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ENERGY
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that a select committee on energy be appointed to inquire into and report within one calendar year on Ontario Hydro affairs; that the committee have the authority to release its reports during any adjournment or recess between sessions by depositing a copy of the report with the Clerk of the assembly and upon the resumption of the meetings of the House, the chairman of the committee shall bring such reports before the House in accordance with the standing orders; that the committee have the authority to sit concurrently with the House and during any adjournment or recess of the House, subject to the approval of the three party whips; that the committee have authority to adjourn from place to place in Canada; that a full Hansard service be provided for all of the proceedings of the committee; and that the committee be composed of the following members: Mr. Carrothers, chairman, Mr. Brown, Mr. Charlton, Mr. Cureatz, Mrs. Grier, Mr. Matrundola, Mr. McGuigan, Mr. M. C. Ray, Mr. Runciman, Mr. South, Mrs. Sullivan.
I do, however, have some serious concern about the intent stated by the Minister of Energy (Mr. Wong) in a statement in this House in December, to refer the matter of the Ontario Hydro demand-supply options study to the select committee as its first and major priority in this one-year period mentioned in the motion.
I would like to point out to the government House leader and to the Minister of Energy that the select committee that they are reconstituting by this motion sat in the fall of 1985 and in the spring of 1986 for a considerable period of time reviewing matters related to Ontario Hydro, including a preliminary review of the demand-supply options study.
After very careful consideration, that all-party select committee, including unanimously all four of the Liberal members of that committee, recommended that: "The Ontario Energy Board should conduct a public review of the results of Ontario Hydro's demand-supply options study. This review should take place at least 60 days after a final report on the options and all supporting documents have been issued. Recommendations should be made to cabinet in a public report."
When I raised this matter in the House with the Premier (Mr. Peterson) in December, his response was his feeling that a select committee of this assembly would be a more democratic approach to the question of reviewing the demand-supply options study. That kind of comment and the statement by the Ministry of Energy has made it very clear that this government does not understand in any way, shape or form either the complex nature of the study itself or the importance of the issue to which that study speaks.
When the select committee dealt with this question in the spring of 1986 and tabled its report of July 1986, the question was very carefully considered and the committee decided to recommend that the matter be referred to the Ontario Energy Board for a number of very specific reasons. The first of those reasons, where the committee will have to seek permission to sit from the whips, the House leader stated very carefully in his motion today.
We have all seen the process that has gone on in the last two months as committees fight to get sitting time. We will go through the process in this select committee to get the time to sit to study the matter of the demand-supply options study. We will fight and we will get offered probably four weeks, maximum. If we fight really hard as a committee, we may be allowed to sit and review the demand-supply options study for as long as five weeks. We will likely be allowed to retain some staff to that committee, one consultant and maybe one other expert.
Those are the very reasons why the last select committee recommended that this matter not be referred back to the same place, that it go to the OEB -- what is required to do a proper job on an issue that is so important to this province that obviously it has gotten by the government's ear. The results of the review of this study and the decisions that are made resulting from this study will lock in this province in terms of Ontario Hydro's direction for the next 25 years.
Once the decisions flowing out of this study are made, there will be no more options to consider. They will be locked in for the next 25 years. The select committee, as I suggested, will end up with a couple of staff and four or five weeks in which to review this extremely important matter. What is required is three to four months of very intensive hearings, with a lot of expert cross-examination, so that we can get to the best, final decision for this province before we proceed to implement those decisions.
For those reasons I felt compelled to rise this afternoon to make these comments. This issue is far too important to let just slide down the chute without any comment at all. I am giving notice to the government that when the select committee sits for its two days of organization, on February 29 and March 1, I will be moving motions to refer this matter back.
I guess I am not terribly enthused about being involved in another committee simply because of my own workload and the workload of members of this caucus and, I suspect, of the official opposition as well. Our primary concern is we would like to see the select committee established but only if it is going to prove to be a meaningful exercise. If we look at the experience of the past select committee, most of the recommendations have not been acted upon by the government. If we look at the select committee on retail store hours and what the government's reaction to the committee's recommendations were with respect to that particular issue, it treated them with disdain. So I guess those of us who are going to be serving on this have, at best. to hope that the government is truly committed to acting upon any recommendations we may come up with.
With regard to the terms of reference, the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) indicated that he is going to be making some motions. I am sure our party will be making motions with respect to what this committee is going to be looking at. We hope we are not going to be facing difficulties from the majority membership of the government on this committee that indeed it is committed to having a full, open review of Ontario Hydro and all aspects of Ontario Hydro that all members of the committee feel are worthy of review. I certainly do not want to see us get bogged down in technical aspects of the demand-supply options study. I do not think that is going to be a very useful exercise.
Some of the political issues and questions involved are important, such as the question of subsidies and the question of the appointment of the chairman of Ontario Hydro. I think perhaps looking at a number of the key players in the Ontario Hydro hierarchy would be a useful exercise, as would be a review of legislation governing Ontario Hydro to make it more accountable to the government. Those are the kinds of issues that we feel would be worth while and productive: parallel generation, cogeneration, those kinds of questions that are important and significant, that have to be dealt with and are not being dealt with in a very meaningful manner by Ontario Hydro currently.
If the government is indeed committed to following through, and we certainly do not have an awfully high degree of optimism based on past experience, we are going into this, giving it our best shot and hoping that the government will follow through on some very significant recommendations that the committee will come forth with within the year it has been afforded.
I do want to express one concern. I think I heard the government House leader indicating that the committee was going to be restricted to Canada in terms of travel. If that indeed is the intent, he may want to broaden that to the North American continent because of the significant use of nuclear generating capacity in the United States and the private utility companies established there, etc. He may want to take a look at that. Perhaps it is too restrictive, and the committee, hopefully, will have the flexibility to expand beyond the restrictions he has placed on it with his motion.
Motion agreed to.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that the following standing and select committees be authorized to meet during the winter adjournment in accordance with the schedule of meeting dates agreed to by the three party whips and tabled with the Clerk of the Assembly, to examine and to inquire into the following matters:
select committee on constitutional reform to consider the 1987 constitutional accord;
select committee on education to consider matters referred to in its terms of reference;
select committee on energy to consider Ontario Hydro affairs;
standing committee on finance and economic affairs to consider budget-tax reform, and the US-Canada free trade agreement (sessional paper 108) and to adjourn to Washington, DC;
standing committee on government agencies to review the operation of certain agencies, boards and commissions of the government of Ontario and to adjourn to Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, with respect to legislative oversight of government agencies;
standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to consider matters related to the procedures and administration of the House and to adjourn to Sacramento, California, to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures and to Victoria, British Columbia, to review restorations to the Legislative Building and rule changes;
standing committee on public accounts to review the 1987 annual report of the Provincial Auditor and to adjourn to Washington, DC, to meet with US officials on audit oversight function;
standing committee on regulations and private bills to consider regulations and the regulatory process; and
standing committee on resources development to consider and report on safety in Ontario mines.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that, with the agreement of the House leaders and whips of each party, committees may meet during the winter adjournment at times other than those specified in the schedule tabled with the Clerk today.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Conway moved that when the House adjourns today, it stand adjourned until Tuesday, April 5, 1988.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 5:38 p. m.
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