Thursday, 28, July 28, 2022 38 minutes (audio)
Erin: Welcome to the ON Parliament podcast. I'm Erin and I have a very exciting episode today. I'm really happy to be joined by two special guests. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, both of you, and maybe we can start with just having both of you introduce yourselves and maybe talk a little bit about your current role at the Legislature and how you got to be in your current role too.
Val: So hello, I'm Valerie Quioc Lim, my title currently is the Clerk of Procedural Services, which really means I'm the Director of the Procedural Services Branch. This is the Branch that is responsible for providing procedural and administrative support to the Committees of the Legislature. In addition to my role in overseeing Committees and the Branch, I am also a Table Officer. So I spend time in the house providing support to the Speaker and other Presiding Officers and all MPPs. My first role in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario was actually as an Information Officer just like yourself. And working for the Parliamentary Protocol and Public Relations. So that is the branch that produces this podcast. But through that, I became very interested in procedure and what Committees do and what Clerks do. And so I applied and was successful in becoming an Assistant to a Committee Clerk. A few years after that I became a Committee Clerk, and that was 2011. And then eventually the Senior Clerk of House Documents in 2017. And that's when I first became a Table Officer and then a Senior Clerk of Committees in 2018. And then I came into my current role very recently, just last December.
Erin: Amazing. Thank you.
Chris: I'm Chris Tyrell. So I am currently the Senior Clerk of Committees in the Procedural Services Branch, which means I manage the five Committee Clerks. Like Val, I am also a Table Officer. So in the House advising Members and the Speaker on matters of procedure. My first role at the LAO was with House Publications and Language Services as a Transcriber and a Committee and House Reporter. So Transcribers listen to audio of the debate and type them out which eventually creates the Hansard transcript. It was my Committee and House Reporter duties that first got me into procedure. Getting to see the debates up close and noticing that there was always a Clerk present, who everyone looked to for advice and information about the rules of procedure. After a year and a half of working at the LAO, I decided I wanted to be one of those people, the people with all the answers. So I studied the Standing Orders. I did informal secondments and mentorships. I took on projects that allowed me to learn more about procedure and the history of the Legislature. And then all of these things kind of came together, when I applied successfully for a Committee Clerk role in Alberta in 2012. I worked there for three years and then returned here as a Committee Clerk, when an opportunity presented itself. I worked as a Committee Clerk until late 2020 when I became acting Senior Clerk of Committees filling in for a parental leave. And then I moved into the role full time in December of last year.
Erin: That's great. And it sounds like you've both had lots of experience at the Legislature in many different roles. And you've kind of mentioned the word Committee and Clerks both a few times now. So could you sort of talk maybe a little bit about what a Committee actually is?
Val: Well, you can look at a Committee as like a smaller version of the House. So it's a smaller working group, also of Members of Provincial Parliament that essentially reports or it's subordinate to the House. They are empowered to conduct business according to their permanent mandate. And we can find that in the Standing Orders but they also can conduct business that is referred to them by the House. Committees are when or where MPPs review bills for legislation. And they do that in detail and they can also study matters that are within the province's jurisdiction. It's also where the public like organizations, individuals, even young students can inform public policy by providing input through presentations or submissions.
Chris: Yeah, so there are a lot of people required to make a Committee. The room is set up in a hollow square format with the Chair at the head of the table in the center. The Clerk, the, the Committee Clerk will sit next to the Chair on their right, in order to provide procedural advice as needed. Next to the Clerk is Legislative Counsel who attend meetings to provide legal advice and help Members with drafting amendments to bills. Beside them is a Reporter from House Publications and Language Services. Who's there to take notes on what's happening in the meeting, who's speaking. In order to assist their colleagues up in House Publications and Language Services with the drafting of the committee transcript. And to the Chair's left side, is the Research Officer who provides research support to the Committee as needed. On the sides of the square, are where the Committee Members sit. So you'll see the Government Members to the Chair's right. Opposition and Independent Members on the Chair's left. And at the bottom of the square is where witnesses appearing before the Committee would sit when addressing the Committee. If you look in the far left corner of the room near the head of the table, there's a Broadcast Operator who's present to activate and deactivate the microphones of those speaking. And either in an adjacent room, separated by glass, or remotely on another floor completely of the building, is where the Interpreters will interpret everything that's said from English to French and vice versa as needed.
Val: I can talk a little bit about the makeup of the Members of a Committee as well or membership. So it is in proportion to the representation of Parties in the House. And that is usually appointed at the beginning of a Parliament. The House will pass a motion outlining which Members are on which Committees but that can also change from time to time by the House, by another motion. There is also temporary substitution that can happen in a Committee. Sometimes it's really based on, a Member's schedule, if they can attend, or it depends on the topic or the bill that the Committee's looking at. They may want to send in the Parliamentary Assistant or Critics or just Members who may have expertise or interest in whatever they're looking at, so there may be a substitution. So when you walk into a Committee Room, you may see a membership of a Committee that may look very different from the permanent membership, depending on the bill that they are looking at, and then along with all the staff that Chris has mentioned in the room as well. And a lot of times there are many people from the public that can watch and view Committees.
Erin: I actually didn't know that you could have temporary substitutions. So there you go. I learned something new today as well.
Val: I can talk a little bit about the bill. So usually, a Committee would have public hearings whether they're doing a study or looking at a bill. So public hearings, that's when I mentioned the input that can be provided by the public, and then after that, they would do clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. That's when they look at the bill section by section, even you could say word for word, and then debate it and they can suggest some amendments to it, whether the amendment can pass or not. But that's when they can really look at a bill and say, this is, these are the changes we would like, because this is what we heard from the public. In terms of studies, they would usually hold hearings as well, and then could write a report. And that's when the Research Officers would come into play and, assist a Committee in writing a report.
Chris: I'm a big fan of the podcast.
Chris: I'm a big fan of the fun facts.
Erin: Ah, amazing.
Chris: I was wondering if I could maybe do a fun fact?
Erin: You definitely can! Yeah.
Chris: Fun fact: the term clause-by-clause consideration refers to looking through the bill piece by piece. At the Federal level, bills are divided into clauses. In Ontario, it would probably be better to call it section-by-section because bills in Ontario are divided into sections. But clause-by-clause is just more fun to say.
Erin: It is, it is definitely more fun to say. And you had your first fun fact. Congratulations. So there are a couple different types of Committees that we have at the Assembly. Could you maybe talk a little bit more about the types that we have?
Val: Sure. So there are two types of Committees. We have Standing Committees, which as the name suggests, are standing, they exist for the life of a Parliament. And then we also have Select Committees and they are created by an Order of the House. So the House would pass a motion to create a Select Committee with a specific or defined mandate. And they also have usually have a specific and defined timeline. So for example, once they've done their final report, the Select Committee would be dissolved. I'll just name a couple of recent Select Committees that we had. We had the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight, Select Committee on Financial Transparency, Select Committee on Mental Health and Addiction. So as you can tell from their names, they do look at some specific topics. In terms of what the actual Committees do, we have we do have eight Standing Committees and that's starting in the 43rd Parliament after a few changes to the Standing Orders had happened. And we tend to try to categorize them in certain types to be able to describe what they do.
Val: There's overlap in their mandates, but the first category that we have is the financial accountability oversight, which deals with the financial accountability cycle. So we have the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, which is the Committee that would typically look at budget bills. It's the Committee that conducts pre-budget consultations that makes a report to the House and to the Ministry of Finance of what things should go into the budget. So that's sort of forward looking, looking at the programs, the budgets that the government would like to propose. And then we have, we now have, six Standing Committees where Ministries and offices are assigned and they are the ones who would look at the estimates of those Ministries and offices. So looking at the estimates, it's now looking at how much the government intends to, or would like to spend, on the programs they propose in their budgets. And then now we have the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which looks at the money that was actually spent. So they are authorized to review the public accounts of the province and also the reports of the Auditor General of Ontario. So they typically look at the Auditor General's reports in terms of value for money audits. That was done by that office.
Chris: So the next category of Committees are the policy field Committees. So this includes the Standing Committee on the Interior, Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy, Standing Committee on Justice Policy, Standing Committee on Social Policy, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. So those Committees, typically, they will spend most of their time reviewing bills that have been referred to them by the House. They're also able to conduct studies on areas that fall within their mandate. And they, as Val alluded to will also take on a role in the consideration of the estimates. So the expected amounts that the government is going to spend. So each Committee has certain Ministries and offices that are assigned to it as part of its mandate. And each Committee will meet and decide which of the estimates that have been referred to it, it wants to review. And then the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, so in addition to reviewing the estimates and in addition to reviewing bills from time to time, it also has a couple of other things that it will do. One of those things is it is the Committee that will review private bills from time to time as well. It's also charged with reviewing the regulations that are made in the province Ontario. And it does a number of other things as well. It has the power to review the broadcast guidelines for the Assembly. It has the power to review Ombudsman reports. And it's also the Committee that will typically undertake review of the Standing Orders as well.
Erin: That's a busy Committee.
Chris: Very busy Committee, lots of hats, lots of hats.
Val: I guess we may look at that Committee as a bit of an oversight Committee as well, but we have another one that really just performs oversight, which is the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. And it's kind of a two-pronged Committee, looks at the operations and management of agencies, boards, and commissions, but also looks at intended appointments to those agencies, boards and commissions.
Erin: And can Ministers be members on a Committee?
Val: Yes, they can. And they can even be Chairs of Committees.
Erin: Oh, I did not know that either. So you did kind of already answer this in terms of public involvement and how the public can be involved, but maybe you can go into a little bit more detail about the process that someone would need to go through in order to present to a Committee.
Val: Yeah. I get very excited about that. Because I, I think there are a lot of people that don't know that they can really be part of the process.
Erin: That's true. That's true. Yeah.
Val: We mentioned that Committee would usually, you know, hold public hearings before it goes into clause-by-clause consideration of a bill, or before it writes a report, if it's doing a study. So in our case, the public can request to appear before what we say appear before a Committee. So essentially requesting to present to a Committee to make a presentation. The public can also simply submit written comments. If you don't feel like going to a Committee and presenting, you can send a letter; send information for the Committee to consider. And the public can also come and watch. So if it's not providing input, but want to be informed, they can come. We say, I say, come, but come in, attend and watch. But our Committee meetings are also live streamed. So they're live streamed on the website, we also have the Parlance App and it's also, meetings are also replayed on the Ontario Parliamentary Channel on Fridays. When I mentioned that the public can request to speak to a Committee, we have a web form on the Assembly's website. So try to make it easier for people to, to reach us. So that's when they can make a request or a submission to a specific bill or a specific topic.
Chris: One thing to note is a witness's testimony before the Committee and any written submissions that are made to the Committee; they do form part of the public record. So, anyone who submits a written submission or information, it will be exhibited. It's available through the library, through the Archives of Ontario eventually. And the testimony, the oral testimony will appear as part of the transcript.
Erin: I'm learning many things today. So.
Erin: The role of the Committee must have evolved and changed a little bit over time, sort of in their role and just everything that they do. So maybe, can you talk a little bit about how Committees have evolved over time? Sort of briefly, I know there's a long history, but maybe some highlights?
Chris: Brief highlights. Yes, sure.
Val: Yeah, cause we've had to do some research on this and a little thanks to our friends at Table Research Office because we've been here a while, right Chris, but maybe not that long.
Erin: I meant more historically, not necessarily in the amount of time that both of you have been here.
Val: I'll let Chris get started a little bit.
Chris: Yeah, so today we use Standing Committees frequently to consider bills and whatnot, but from 1867 through to the 1960s Committee of the Whole House and Select Committees were used far more frequently than Standing Committees were. Back then, I mean, Standing Committees used to have very large memberships around 40 or 50 Members.
Erin: Seems to defeat the purpose of a Committee a little bit, if it's meant to be a smaller group, but I guess sure. Why not?
Chris: They also didn't meet very often. Attendance was poor when they did meet. So there were some issues with Standing Committees. As the province continued to grow and the amount and complexity of the work before the Legislature grew along with it, the House came to a realization that it needed to be able to better delegate work to Committees in order to kind of efficiently get through its business. So the idea kind of took hold that the full Assembly was probably better suited for broadly debating bills and that smaller Committees would likely be better suited for more specialized study and for debate.
Val: Mm-hmm like multitasking, right?
Erin: Yeah. You gotta, you gotta delegate.
Chris: Exactly. Exactly. So there were a series of Commissions and Committees that studied the topic of Committee Reform and they made several recommendations through the 70s and, and 80s. And as a result of, you know, these various Commissions and recommendations and studies, Committee membership shrank to more reasonable levels. I mean, today, a standard Committee is nine members. Written transcripts were kept for all open session Committee meetings. There was a time where we had a full transcript for the House, but not necessarily for all Committee meetings. Now we have transcripts for all Committees that happen in open session. Estimates process. So that process has now been delegated to the Committees. And the previous Parliament, there was a dedicated estimates Committee that reviewed the estimates that it selected for review. In the 43rd Parliament, as we spoke to a little bit earlier, there are six policy field Committees, and each one has Ministries and offices assigned to it. And they, each Committee will be responsible for deciding which of the estimates from those Ministries and offices to review, and then actually reviewing those estimates.
Val: Yeah. A lot of the big, the last big change to happen in Committees, which relatively recently, like in the 70s and 80s that Chris mentioned came out of the you probably hear a lot about the Camp Commission, which is formally known as the Ontario Commission on the Legislature, when studies were made and big reforms were made to Committees. But even the recent Standing Order changes, you can see that Committees continue to evolve over time and just how it functions, relating to mandates, but even just how it works. For example, because of the COVID 19 pandemic, and the past couple years Committees were able to meet in a hybrid format, which it didn't before. And so just continuing, continuing to evolve in the ways that it functions.
Erin: Mm-hmm. And I know that there's no real standard day for any of us that work in the Legislature and especially in Parliament.
Erin: But are there some, I guess, more common elements that Committees encounter on a day to day basis or sort of in, in the running of, I'll call it a standard Committee meeting, but I know there's no actual standard for it, but some, some commonalities between Committee meetings?
Val: Sure. So well, I can talk a little bit about like the days that let's say as a Clerk, you have a Committee meeting. And yes, no standard days, because anything can happen. You come in and there may be phone calls already and emails from different people asking questions, or just saying, things that, you know, to anticipate that may happen in Committee, but usually we do I mean we arrive in the office, but we make sure we are in the Committee Room well, in advance. So about an hour before the meeting, let's say to do some setup. Setting up the room physically like getting our name plates, laptop set up. Any papers that needs to be distributed, but also coordinating with the other staff, like the big team that we work with that come to the rooms. So Broadcast and Recording, Hansard, Interpreters to make sure everyone is, is good to go and they know what to expect. And if there're any last minute, things that are happening, to advise members of the team as well. During the meeting, depending on what it is, but a big part of our work is advising the Chair, just keeping the Chair up to date on what's happening. So for example, it's public hearings, just keeping track of the agenda and timing with the Chair. If it's clause-by-clause, it's a little bit more involved, but really we really work hand-in-hand, closely with the Chair during the meeting, but at times Members too, because they may ask questions, not sure what's going on at the proceedings. So we make sure they're aware and they know what's happening and also taking notes of the, of proceedings just, a big part of is for the minutes, like for the record but also keeping track of things that we may need to follow up on and what had happened. Yeah. So when I mentioned public hearings it's also I know we work with the Chair and Members, but we make sure the public knows what's going on, like the presenters. So when they come in person, so we, we greet them. We just let them know where we are on the agenda, if they're coming up next and what to do to come up to the, the witness table. And sometimes it's little things. You know we need more water in the room or it's getting too hot and too cold, or there's some sound issues like banging and construction. And we may need to contact someone from the outside to see if we can do something about it. And then at the end, there's we take time to as, as the Committee ends to, I guess, the take down, you know, just making sure to room, picking up all the, the paperwork and, and taking down name plates and just getting back to, you know, gathering all the things. And then just making sure we keep up with any follow up that needs to happen after that if a letter needs to be sent or reminders to Members about deadlines we work on that as well.
Chris: So that's a standard day when there is a Committee meeting. But there's a lot of prep that goes into Committee meetings ahead of time.
Erin: I'm sure. Yeah. That the public really doesn't see.
Chris: So I mean, you know, we, Procedural Services puts together the agendas for the meeting, the notices of Committee hearings. And those are distributed to the Members and the agendas are posted on the website as well. The ola.org website. Witnesses that are scheduled to appear, they need to be scheduled. Yeah. So we will do the, we will take all the requests to appear. And we will. Contact each witness and make sure that, you know, this is your day, this is your time slot. This is the information that you need in advance. So we, we're kind of dealing with that behind the scenes. All of the written submissions that are submitted via the web form, we kind of take those, we catalog them, we distribute them to the Members to make sure that the Members are able to see what members of the public are sending to the Committee in terms of their thoughts and feelings about the bill or issue under consideration. And we are kind of giving them all exhibit numbers as well. I've mentioned that anything you send in is becomes a public exhibit. So we also create exhibit lists. Of all of the written submissions that we receive, and just make sure that those are ready to go with the minutes, which are the official record of the Committee proceeding.
Erin: That would be a big job. Just documenting all of that and making sure it's all correct.
Val: Yes. I'll, I'll just mention too, because I know earlier we mentioned that it takes a big team, like the other branches work with us in Committees. But now that we mentioned like the day-to-day that within our own Branch, I know the Clerks are front and center in Committee meetings, but we have our other staff within the Branch that does a lot of the contacting witnesses and processing these exhibits.
Chris: So definitely, definitely.
Val: Yeah. We have our Procedural Services Assistants, our Office Coordinator, our Receptionist, just taking in a lot of calls and answering questions. So that's a big part of the, the work of the Branch behind the scenes.
Erin: And what if people can't physically come here to the building for Committees? Do Committees ever travel?
Val: Oh, great question. So, yes, travel's always a fun topic. And yes, a Committee can under the Standing Orders, so procedurally, can adjourn from place to place in Ontario so they can travel. But Committees tend to travel when there's a like the winter adjournment, summer adjournment. Because if meetings are happening here in the House, they want to stay close and meet here so that they can still go to the House and debate and vote. So they tend to travel during those times that the House is not meeting. So, and that's when they would require I guess, permission from the House. So a motion has to be passed in the House to allow Committees to sit during that time. And then that's when they would travel. So one of the Committees, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, typically travels for pre-budget consultations. But all other Committees can travel as well for a bill or a study. Yeah. And we've had Committees travel different parts of Ontario up North, South, East, West. So yeah, so Committees can travel and do hearings in different parts of the province. Well, I will say that the witnesses now that, you know, they can join usually by videoconference as well, just to help ease the part, you know, be able to participate
Chris: Yeah. Videoconference. Teleconference as well. Yeah. Anything to allow the public access and, you know, have their opinions heard.
Erin: Do you have any particular, maybe like personal memorable moments that you've experienced while in your roles or even just at the Assembly in general, since you've had each of, you have had a few different roles, but any memorable moments working in Committees?
Val: There are a lot Well, I'll start, I guess when, because when I started as a new, I'll use an example as a Clerk. When I was a new Committee Clerk, we were fair, I was fairly new and we were in a Minority Government. So that was, that was exciting because there were a lot of unpredictable situations that happened. One, I guess one specific memory is I was a Clerking, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, when it was considering the first budget bill of that Minority Government. So there were a lot of unpredictable things to happen, in clause-by-clause, in terms of like the sections or schedules being defeated. We weren't sure if the bill was going to be reported back to the House or, or in what form it will look like. So there were some memorable moments around that in terms of procedure, but also just Members debating and, and, and, and being able to use I guess, tools that they had because it was a minority situation. So we weren't sure you know, how votes were going to go. And so that was memorable. And I will mention travel because you, you asked that before. So usually that's when we get to know Members just how they are as people because you know, we're traveling with them day and night. And of course, we get to know Assembly Staff as well. And, and in travel, you see a lot of Members getting to know each other, like from different political stripes and they become friends and they form a bond. So just even seeing that is really nice because they're, they kind of end up sharing experiences as Elected Officials and, and what they go through. So on the road, you see a lot of that bonding happening, so it it's, it's nice to see that.
Erin: That's great.
Chris: And then the one thing that stands out for me and this kind of goes back to public engagement and that but the one thing for whatever reason that stands out in my mind is when I was, I was Clerking a meeting several years back now, and it was, the Committee was looking at a bill on children and youth in care. And there was a witness who came in, could not have been more than 10 or 11 years old and gave just an amazingly eloquent speech to the Committee on their experience with the children in care. Like the...
Erin: The system?
Chris: The system, the system. Yes. The system. Yeah. And they were able to answer questions from Members. You know, Members were complimenting them on, you know, how, how great their public speaking skills were and, and all of that, I, I don't know why that sticks with me so much. But just the fact that, you know, anyone can participate in Committees. If a 10 year old can do it, anyone can do it. And the fact that they, you know, understood the topic, felt the need to participate and have their story told and, you know, showed up to Committee and did that. That is something that always sticks with me.
Erin: That's pretty amazing. I mean, and, and it is, like you said you know, many people think you have to be 18, you have to be able to vote and all these things, but it's not true. Anyone can, can sort of get involved in the Committee phase, which is, which is really cool, I think. Yeah. And something unique in not just our Parliamentary System, but just you know, in our Democracy that we have in Canada, which is cool.
Val: Yeah. Mm-hmm and, and that made me think of it's really, sometimes individuals sharing personal stories. Like being brave enough to do that. That does stick with you. You know, sometimes the whole room you can, you can just feel everyone just really their heart goes out to that person. Yeah. And everyone's trying to be very professional about it. Yeah. But, and then you can, and then again, the Members sort of, a common ground because they all feel like, okay, we agree and we want to help. So yeah, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Erin: That sounds really nice. I guess sort of in, in the opposite vein, are there any challenges that sort of have arisen in your experiences just with Committees or in, in your role as, as a Clerk. Just challenges even just the way Committees function, maybe?
Chris: Yes. For the past few years. Yeah, just the, the pandemic and the way we had to kind of very quickly pivot from, you know, everyone's here in person and all witnesses show up in person or most witnesses show up in person and that to, the Committee Clerk and the Chair have to be in the room. Members are able to appear virtually and witnesses are also encouraged to appear virtually. And so just kind of getting up to speed on the technology, getting all of that set up, making the appropriate modifications in the room. You know, writing manuals and guidelines and, different things, things to send out to Members and to witnesses on kind of the best way to participate via video conference. All of that had to happen very, very quickly. And again, that was very much a team effort. Yes. It was not just Procedural Services Branch. Right. So Broadcast and Recording took a large role in that as well. But we were, we were able to do it. We were able to get to a point where we were able to have meetings, Committee meetings where, you know, the, the Chair was there in person and the Clerk was there in person and other Assembly Staff that needed to be there were there in person, but the majority of the Members were appearing virtually and all of the witnesses were also appearing virtually, and we were able to consider bills and other topics that were referred to the Committee and just kind of keep the whole democratic process rolling.
Val: Mm-hmm and just anticipating things that would arise because that's what we normally do in, in any situation, like how do we handle it? But in, in that time, in the pandemic, you can only anticipate so much because it's some someplace we've never been before, but yeah. So that's definitely, that was definitely a challenge. And but I would say, I think it was, it was a good challenge because we were able to come out of it with, with new ideas and innovation. So but I would. The, the pandemic is, was, is top of mind, but in, just in general, the always staying impartial and neutral. But I would say a lot of us, not just Clerks, but at staff of the Assembly maybe I would say naturally have a, a, a knack for being impartial. That's why we, or, and, and neutral, that's why we work here. That's why we gravitated toward these roles. But, you know, there are times like in the moment when um, you're in the, I guess we have front lines to seeing front seat, front row seats to the action and seeing what's going on in the debates. So always having to really keep, you know, keep neutral, confidential with things that we know and not share with anyone else. So yeah. Most of the time that's fine, but there are times when it can be a challenge depending on the situation. So.
Erin: It's a good test for your poker face, I guess.
Val: Yes, for sure. You know, not reacting. So, yeah. And I would say, I know a lot of the Clerks, Chris would agree too, it's it also giving advice. Cause we give advice, but sometimes we know that it it's advice that may not be received well. And whether it's a Member or member of the public or anyone, so. But we sticking to the guidelines that we have and the rules and the precedents, that's how we would have to approach it. But that could be the challenge as well. Finding a way to deliver that information. Yeah. In, in the most palatable way.
Erin: I can see that for sure. And just sort of as our last question today, is there something unique or special, or if you sort of had to sum up Committees in, you know, one word or a sentence, what's one thing that, you know, the public should be aware of for, for Committees?
Val: I, I think I'll just say that Committees are very accessible. Like you can be part of it. So whether it's more you know, just part of it as in being up to date and watching all our live streams on Parlance App or presenting or submitting like that's Committees. It's Elected Officials mixing with, you know, the, the general public of the province.
Chris: And I, I think most people think, you know, it's, it is difficult to participate. Or it's difficult to, to put your name forward. But again, we have a web form on ola.org. It's very easy to kind of just select what topic you want to discuss or want to participate in. If you want to submit written documents, you can do it through the web form, if you want to request to appear before the Committee, do it through the web form. And it's just, it's very easy to get involved in the democratic process, if you want to get involved.
Erin: That's great. Well, thank you both so much for being on the episode with me today. I really, really appreciate it.
Val: Thank you.
Chris: It's been great. Yeah.
Erin: And hopefully, keep listening and maybe we have more fun facts for you next time, Chris,
Chris: Oh you can never have too many fun facts.
Erin: Never too many.
Val: It's the only place where you can make facts fun!
Erin: Well, thank you again so much. Thanks for listening to the ON Parliament Podcast. Where we help spread the word on Parliament. Got to go. I think I hear the bells.
Erin: The ON Parliament podcast is produced by Parliamentary Protocol and Public Relations for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Social media by Parliamentary Protocol and Public Relations for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Additional research provided by the Table Research Office for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please support the podcast by sharing it with others and subscribing. For more fun facts about Ontario’s parliament, follow us on Twitter and Instagram : @onparleducation. Et en français: @parloneducation . Thanks again and see you next time