Resuming the debate adjourned on May 11, 2016, on the motion for second reading of the following bill: Bill 156, An Act to amend various Acts with respect to financial services.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The Member for Carleton-Mississippi Mills.
Mr. Jack MacLaren: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise today to continue debate on Bill 156, the Alternative Financial Services Statute Law Amendment Act. The proposed legislation represents a complex issue regarding the alternative financial services industry in this province. The government’s motion is far-reaching and will amend the Consumer Protection Act, the Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and the Payday Loans Act.
Unfortunately, this legislation does nothing to address important issues at hand. Unless amended, this legislation will only make things worse. As many of my colleagues have already stated, this bill is just bad legislation. We can’t support this bill until the concerns we have raised regarding the amendments are recognized and understood by this government.
One of the biggest problems with this legislation is that this bill is more micromanaging than creating a safer and more informed consumer environment.
This government has a history of micromanaging. As my colleagues well know, it just loves red tape. The issue of micromanaging and creating excessive regulations goes hand in hand with the MO of this government. In fact, their own special adviser, Ed Clark, was quoted in the Star as saying, “Ontario has 380,000 regulatory requirements for businesses, almost double the number in some provinces.”
He went on to further say, “While the number is staggering, the structure and complexity of compliance is even more problematic.”
This type of approach makes Ontario less competitive. Who is going to want to move to this province and do business if they have to go through all of this red tape? Who would want to move a business to a province with one of the highest numbers of regulations in North America? Under the Liberals, we are seen as one of the slowest places to do business in the world.
I was reading an article in the National Post by Philip Cross. He talks about the micromanaging and red tape created by this government. He tells a story about Ontario’s ladder law. This new law requires anyone working with a ladder in the building and trades association to take an online government course at a cost of $29. Can you imagine? You graduate from a trades school, and the Liberals think you need to take a course on how to use a ladder. I’m sorry, but any contractor who can’t use a ladder probably shouldn’t be in the trades business.
Another example from a few years ago was the requirement to force all barbers to obtain an occupational licence with a $140 fee attached. As Mr. Cross pointed out in the article, “The market has always protected the consumer from barbers who either can’t trim properly or lack a rapport with customers, by quickly driving them out of business.”
Many of my colleagues have highlighted the need for financial literacy. In fact, the member from Leeds–Grenville expressed concern that money management should be part of the secondary school curriculum. The need for education starts with our youth.
An article in MoneySense from November 2013 provided a shocking statistic, that “39% of Ontario high school students feel ill-equipped when it comes to money” management. “Parents and teens want financial education in the classroom.” According to a new survey for the Investor Education Fund, 84% of Ontario parents and 70% of teens agree that “students aren’t prepared to manage their money after high school.”
“Financial education was introduced in the Ontario school curriculum for grades 4-12 in fall 2012. One year later, more than a quarter … of parents don’t think it’s being taught and more than half … say they aren’t sure if it is.”
Education is key. Students need to leave high school knowing how to spend their money while living on a budget.
Our leader, the member for Simcoe North, has rightly identified that portions of this proposed legislation are incomplete. Further amendments are needed. I quote from an article in the Toronto Star in December 2015 about Ontario’s plans for tighter rules for payday loan companies:
The “Progressive Conservative leader … said he was disappointed in the lack of specifics in” the minister’s “announcement and is looking forward to more detail.” I imagine he’s just as disappointed today.
“I think government has a role to play to make sure people aren’t taken advantage of,” said the member for Simcoe North. I couldn’t agree more.
Since coming to power in 2003, this government has hit Ontario families with continual tax increases such as the health tax, eco taxes, the hidden hydro tax, the electronics tax, the tire tax, increased taxes on tobacco and wine, increased airline travel costs, increased fees on driver’s licences and health cards and hunting and fishing licences, the Ontario Registered Pension Plan and the cap-and-trade program, leading to increased costs of 4.3 cents per litre on fuel and 3.3 cents per cubic metre on natural gas, while at the same time the government is eliminating tax credits for programs like the tuition and education tax credits, the children’s activity tax credit and the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit in the 2016 budget, and delisting OHIP services for eye exams, chiropractic services and physiotherapy.
The list goes on with increases and mismanagement to include continuing to force Ontarians to pay for the ridiculous Drive Clean program e-test fee, a program about which the Auditor General said in 2012, “Vehicle emissions have declined significantly since Drive Clean’s inception in 1999, to the point that they are no longer among the major domestic contributors to smog in Ontario.”
This is in addition to continued increases in hydro rates associated with their green energy policies.
We have issues concerning Bill 156, the Alternative Financial Services Statute Law Amendment Act. The government claims there would be increased protection for consumers in several ways. However, adding rules to keep people with money problems from accessing legal ways of obtaining emergency cash without providing them with a clear path to financial stability may well drive them to the illegal loan market.
From reviewing the content of this bill, we call on the government to amend this legislation. This legislation is short on details, long on rhetoric and, simply, legislatively incomplete. We look forward to further clarification. To reiterate what many of my colleagues have been advocating: If the Liberal government would focus more on eliminating the waste and mismanagement in how it runs the Ontario economy and stop nickel-and-diming Ontarians, perhaps then individuals would not have to turn to these institutions in times of dire need.