Mr Ted Arnott (Waterloo-Wellington PC)
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex PC)
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton West / -Ouest ND)
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland PC)
Mr Monte Kwinter (York Centre / -Centre L)
Mrs Tina R. Molinari (Thornhill PC)
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt L)
Also taking part / Autres participants et
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands / Kingston et les
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Tom Prins
Staff / Personnel
Ms Elaine Campbell, researcher, Research and Information
The committee met at 0901 in the Royal Brock
The Chair (Mr Marcel
Beaubien): Good morning, everyone. It is 9 o'clock and
I'd like to bring the committee to order.
Our first presenter this morning is Alan Bickerton. Could you
please step forward and state your name for the record.
Bickerton: My name is Alan Bickerton. I am president of
Bickerton Insurance Brokers in Gananoque, Ontario.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 15 minutes for your
presentation this morning.
Bickerton: Thank you for this opportunity to appear
before you today as you receive ideas to consider for your
2000-01 budget. It is an unexpected and rare opportunity, and one
I appreciate very much.
As a general insurance
broker, my comments are partly focused on the insurance industry
and partly on small business. I am a very strong believer in the
importance of small business to the Ontario government and to the
I would like to compliment
the government on its accomplishments since the beginning of its
first term in office just over four years ago. You inherited a
truly horrible fiscal situation from the previous NDP government.
Having taken the drastic steps necessary to wrestle the
out-of-control spending, we will very soon enjoy a balanced
budget. You have also taken a long-overdue step in implementing
balanced budget legislation to prevent future unbridled spending
of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
You had the courage to cut up
the government's gold credit card. What a relief to know that
soon we will actually be starting to reduce our debt and redeploy
the money that has been needed to pay interest. Past governments
have failed us miserably as trustees of the public purse. My
business is as a trustee of my clients' money. If I had treated
it as cavalierly as prior governments treated our public tax
money, I would be in jail. Thank you for turning the situation
To the naysayers out there
who have felt they were disadvantaged by the cuts that were made,
I say that we had all become too used to having government throw
money at our every request. This includes education and health
care as well as many other departments. It was high time for us
to accept a dose of reality and stop feeling sorry for
Now that your house is back
in order, you will have choices to make to redeploy and
reallocate some of those surpluses.
Debt reduction: First and
foremost, start paying off the accumulated debt. This should be
done on a predictable and committed basis.
Education and health care:
Allocations should be made to health care and education but only
where the need is greatest. I firmly agree with your move to
retest and recertify teachers on a regular schedule. While I am
not conversant with the frequency of testing, it is certainly
long overdue and hopefully will remove the career-for-life
concept that has permeated the education and schooling system for
far too many years. Educators will now be faced with the same
real-life performance standards that we in private enterprise
face every day.
Make these allocations of
resources thoughtfully and with good fiscal management required
of the recipients. Overspending or inappropriate spending will be
viewed by the public as a failure. No government needs to be
reminded about what happens when the public gets upset. I think
that all citizens expressing concern now about health care truly
understand that you did what you had to do. Now there is an
opportunity to put some money back into the system but it must be
Natural disaster reduction
plan: Third on my list, I would like to encourage you to look
favorably upon a proposal by the insurance industry to
participate with other levels of government, federal and
municipal, to establish a natural disaster reduction plan. I know
you have had a presentation on this plan from the Insurance
Bureau of Canada and I also know that many MPPs have been made
aware of the plan through private meetings with local insurance
industry representatives such as myself. As a result of these
previous presentations, I will not repeat the details of the
concept here. Having lived first-hand through our now famous ice
storm of 1998, I can tell you that with a natural disaster
reduction plan such as is being presented to you by the IBC, the
overall cost to governments
and insurers would be enormously reduced in the future.
You have heard about the
enormous savings realized because of the building of the
preventative Winnipeg floodway. You may or may not know that the
insurance industry spends about $1.5 million in Alberta seeding
hailstorms. This is to reduce the threat from hailstorms and
diminish their impact. The success of that program has returned
the annual investment many times over.
Due to the enormity of
natural disasters and the well-proven fact that natural disasters
are increasing in both frequency and severity, it is obvious that
the scale of preventative measures must be equally large.
Accordingly, the cost is most appropriately addressed by
governments. Please consider seriously the long-term benefit of
making the recommended annual allocations of 15% of the cost
currently being paid by governments towards recovery from these
disasters. Imagine how little government involvement would be
required if more power distribution lines had been buried
underground prior to the ice storm or if better drainage had been
implemented prior to Hurricane Hazel back in 1954.
Sustainable economic growth
for Ontario: Ontario is unquestionably a terrific place in which
to live. With your continued fiscal vigilance, Ontario will
become an even better place in which to do business.
Specifically, I suggest that with revisions to the tax system,
Ontario could become the most envied and sought-out location for
businesses in all of North America.
For individuals, income tax
is based on one's gross income. That's not a difficult concept.
For corporations, however, gross income is disregarded and
replaced with a tax on profits. It should be renamed a profits
tax, or better still, change it to be based on gross income.
Obviously, the percentage charged would have to be considerably
I appreciate the fact that
Ontario does not have its own tax act, other than for
corporations, but rather charges a percentage of the federal tax
rate. What I am suggesting is that the Ontario government either
consider influencing the federal government to change their
system or develop Ontario's tax separately.
As a businessperson and as a
chartered accountant in my previous career, I have always found
it an enormous waste of human resources to have to engage a small
army of professionals to understand the Tax Act and guide
taxpayers through it each year. My suggestion for simplicity
would help to reduce the need for this waste. At the risk of
being hung for treason by my fellow CAs, I think simplicity is
Tax counsellors have always
joked that their income increases exponentially with the increase
in the thickness of the Tax Act. There's absolute truth to that.
Can you imagine the collective brainpower that could be
redirected into positive, offensive planning rather than
defensive planning if we could make a system that represented a
one-line tax return, with no convoluted exemptions and no
If the corporate tax system
can't be simplified, I submit that income or profit taxes on
corporations should be eliminated. I know that sounds terribly
hard to imagine. I'll even go so far as to agree that it would be
very difficult to deliver politically. However, consider that
corporations and unincorporated businesses are only amalgamations
of shareholders and owners. These owners want either a return on
their investment in cash or by way of having their companies
reinvest for expansion.
All businesses employ people.
Those people pay taxes on their gross salaries or commissions.
Since corporations now pay profits taxes, they pay dividends to
shareholders with after-tax money, and there has to be a
different rate to individuals receiving those dividends. Why not
consider for a moment that businesses either retain profit to
purchase new equipment or expand in some way to employ more
people or become more efficient? With more workers, more taxes
If the money is not used for
expansions, it will eventually be paid out to shareholders, since
they would not allow the directors to retain unused profits
indefinitely. The tax should be collected when it is paid out to
the individual shareholder. There would not have to be a
different rate on salaries, dividends or capital gains. Income
would be income, period; no exemptions, no hard-to-understand
Can you imagine how Ontario
and Canada would be viewed by corporations if they knew they
could retain profits, untaxed, to use for expansion within
Ontario or Canada? Obviously, foreign owners, corporate or
personal, would be taxed as soon as the money crossed the border
to be repatriated to those foreign destinations. Can you imagine
the collective brainpower that could be released into proactive
I know this may seem radical,
but maybe it's time to start with some radical, unusual thoughts
and percolate out the best of them to develop a system that would
be the envy of the world.
I encourage you to keep
striving for fiscal perfection, paying down our provincial debt,
re-establishing the necessary levels of health and education
funding and establishing a natural disaster recovery plan. These
should all be pursued with vigor.
I also encourage you to think
seriously about ideas that will bring Ontario on to the radar
screens of corporations, large and small. These corporations
would see Ontario as a tax haven in which to operate and employ
Ontario residents. I firmly believe that with more businesses in
Ontario employing more Ontarians, the loss of corporate tax
revenue would quickly be offset by increased personal tax
I look forward to answering
any questions you may have. Thank you again for this opportunity
to present my thoughts to your committee.
Thank you very much for your presentation. However, we have run
out of time. We've basically used the 15 minutes for your
presentation. On behalf of the committee, again, thank you very much for
your presentation this morning.
Our next presenter this morning is Gordon Cameron. For the
record, could you please state your name. On behalf of the
committee, welcome. You have 15 minutes for your presentation
Cameron: I'm Gordon Cameron. I'm the president of Hewitt
(Brockville) Ltd. I can assure you I won't use anywhere near my
15-minute allotment, so there may be some dead air space.
Just to give you a little
background here, I am a small business owner. I've owned a
business that's grown over the last 26 years to have
approximately 60 employees. Our business is primarily that of a
machine shop, a fabrication shop. We've grown as a result of a
local economy that's grown over the years and also by expanding
outside this local area. So my remarks are based on my experience
in running a small business.
There are two points I would
like to make. The first point is regarding the provincial debt. I
understand the figure is around $120 billion, give or take a few
billion. I also understand that the interest payments are
approximately $9 billion, give or take a little bit. I also
understand that our budget is going to be balanced or is balanced
now. But I think it's really important that we get that overall
debt down and that we look at that as sort of an albatross
hanging around our necks. Some people might argue that as the
economy grows debt is a smaller percentage of a larger economy,
but I think it would be prudent to try and bring that debt down.
That's something that I think we should always be looking at.
The other thing I'd like to
talk about is the problem that small businesses have getting
venture capital money. I can give you our story. A few years ago,
we realized that as a small business in Brockville we had to look
outside the local area and also outside our borders to keep
growing. We came up with an idea that we would look for a company
that we could buy or get involved in that had a mandate of
selling worldwide and also making products that we could make in
our own facility. We found one and it was a start-up business.
We've been at it for four years and it has tremendous potential.
All of its sales are going to be worldwide.
We happen to be fortunate
that we have a reasonable amount of cash so we can fund this
thing internally at the level of activity that we want. But from
the experience I've had with this company, it has tremendous
potential in the environmental business. The problem is, with a
start-up business it takes a tremendous amount of cash and the
time line, when you think the thing is going to finally click,
keeps moving. So it takes a tremendous amount of time and
patience as well.
What I see with a lot of
start-up businesses is that you can't go to the banks because you
have no assets. A modern company today probably wouldn't have a
lot of assets. It would be like Nike. It would be a sales and
marketing organization. If it was in the software business or the
dot.com business, it would have zero assets. So what traditional
lenders look at isn't there in a modern company. The next thing
is the companies that are going to grow are going to have a lot
of international exposure, which means more risk for receivables
and things like that. Again, the traditional lenders don't
understand that and don't want to get near it, because it has a
lot more risk.
If you go to the venture
capital people, a start-up business or anything under $2 million
or $3 million is too small for them to look at. So you have
businesses that are, if you use a step analogy, on step one or
two. The venture capital people wouldn't look at the thing until
it was probably at step six or seven. So you've got this huge gap
there. What I see is that there's an opportunity for the Ontario
government to create a tax incentive for people to take that
I understand-I have some
notes here-that Bill 164 tries to address this partially, but in
talking to some people, it appears that it's not doing a very
good job at it. Some of the comments that I've got from people
who have looked at the thing are that there was not a lot of
response from the ministry when asked for application
information. There's a need for a co-sponsor in the fund, either
a municipality, an educational institution or a First Nation
organization. There appear to be cumbersome requirements that
have hampered, for example, a local goal of making a case-by-case
investment decision on the basis of the small business's business
plan. There is something there but I don't think it's
We don't need another
program. We need some sort of tax incentive to allow people who
have money-for example, in this area there are a number of people
who would be willing to invest in a small business that was in a
start-up situation, or become venture capitalists, but because of
the risk, they need a tremendous incentive to do it. I think the
government should look at providing a very large tax incentive
for investors to invest patient capital in small businesses. The
investor has a lot of up-front costs, due diligence. That would
be borne by them. But there would be a real incentive to do
The payback, of course, is
that I believe this is where the growth is going to come from. To
position ourselves for the future is going to be, as a province,
taking risks on small businesses that are in areas that other
people don't want to take the risk in. Certainly, if you look at
the list of venture capital companies, very few of the companies
that they invest in are in manufacturing. They're in service
businesses, intellectual-type businesses, information businesses.
These are things that don't have a lot of assets, so you have to
look at it differently.
Anyway, thank you for the
opportunity to speak to you. Do you have any questions?
Thank you very much. We have approximately three minutes per
Christopherson (Hamilton West): Thanks for your
presentation. You mentioned that getting the debt down was the economic priority that you
see, yet the government's path to get there has been to cut
provincial revenues by between $5 billion and $6 billion every
year. That has increased the debt of the province by between $20
billion and $25 billion. In addition, our international bond
credit rating has not changed since Premier Harris took over from
Premier Rae. Don't you think it would have made a lot more sense
for the government to hold off on the tax cut until such time as
they've brought the books into balance and allowed our
international credit rating to improve, and not add another
$20-billion to $25-billion debt? That in fact would have then
balanced the budget years earlier. Don't you think that might
have been a little more prudent, if debt reduction is your
I think on the other hand, by what the government did, they
created a lot more jobs. The economy is very vibrant, which is
the other side of the coin.
Christopherson: If I can, what we've heard from
virtually every economic expert who came before us at the
beginning of our hearings was that the overwhelming majority of
the benefit we're receiving in terms of the economic boom we have
is as a result of the American economy, in particular the auto
market. Of course, someone buying a car in Wisconsin is not
affected by any kind of tax cut in Ontario. So the tax cut,
according to senior economists, has been negligible.
We do some business in Toronto and some of the companies that we
deal with are not in the auto sector and they're doing very well
Christopherson: There's no question; everyone is doing
better. I'm not an economist, but the experts are coming in and
telling us that the main reason we're booming the way we are is
because of the American economy, which, as you know, is defying
gravity. I just raise the point that if debt reduction is the
most important thing, I find it somewhat strange when people who
are relatively well off feel that it was OK to go with the tax
cuts since they benefited the most. To me, it's contrary to their
argument that the debt ought to be the priority. It looks to me
like they're trying to have it both ways. In fact, the senior
economist from the Royal Bank said that it's much like pigs at
the trough in terms of the fact that the boomers have benefited
from the debt in terms of the money having been spent on our
society, and at the same time, at our peak earning powers we're
benefiting from the tax cut and the younger generation could
indeed look at us as being pigs at the trough.
I hope they don't.
Mr Ted Arnott
(Waterloo-Wellington): Thank you very much for your
presentation. We appreciate the fact that you've come forward and
given us the advice that you've given us.
I think it's fair to go back
to a review of the electoral platforms of the three political
parties in the 1995 election. As you know, our party was
supportive of reducing the deficit to zero over a five-year
period, with a 30% personal income tax cut. I recall the NDP's
position in the 1995 election was to balance the operating budget
after three years' time with no significant tax cuts, which I
think would have required fairly significant expenditure
reductions to accomplish. The Liberal Party's position at that
time was that the budget would be balanced in four years and that
there would be a relatively modest tax cut of around 5%, which
was somewhat undefined.
So there was some similarity
in all three parties' positions in the sense that they all wanted
to work towards a balanced budget. But remember, when we came
into office in 1995 the deficit stood at $11.3 billion. So it
would have required a number of years of fiscal discipline, even
if there weren't tax cuts, to balance the budget. I think it's
fair to say there would have been spending reductions in many
areas to accomplish that, no matter who was in power.
Like you, I think that debt
reduction has to be the next priority of the provincial
government. I think that your advice today is helpful to us. We
need to have a disciplined, long-term plan to reduce the debt, to
pay down the debt, retire it, whatever you want to call it. We
need to have interim targets every five years and try to set
goals for ourselves to pay down a certain percentage of the debt.
I want to say to you that we do appreciate your advice. We
appreciate the work you do in your business, the fact that you've
expanded your business because you've seen opportunity and you
have confidence in the economy, and we want to wish you all the
very best for future success too.
Mr Gerry Phillips
(Scarborough-Agincourt): I appreciate your advice and
all the other things, and congratulations on the business. I'm
going to focus on the access-to-capital issue. In the 1997
budget, the government established what you were referring to
They called it the Community Small Business Investment Funds Act
and established the community small business fund. You've got
your finger on an issue, which is that the venture capital
people, including the labour-sponsored venture capital people,
seem to have a threshold that's above what you're talking
Yes, starting at $2.5 million.
So you're looking for funding-
Up to a million.
Sort of the start-ups.
One of the things that
governments are always cautious of is initiating programs where
there's an expense involved. When you offer a tax break there is
an expense; it's a lost-revenue expense, so they're cautious. The
reason the government started up the small business investment
fund was to ensure that there was some due diligence as to where
those funds were spent. In theory, this is supposed to be the
program that would answer your needs. It has been going since
1997. I don't know how many are in play right now, two maybe?
I think there are only two after three years now, so something's
not working here.
Mr Phillips: Actually, the
labour-sponsored venture capital corporations are now investing
in these things. So there's lots of paper shuffling and meetings
and titles probably, and business cards being produced and
lunches being held, but relatively little ever flowing through to
what you need.
That's correct. Even with the labour-sponsored pools, if you look
at Working Ventures and Capital Alliance, which are two whose
statements I look at, there isn't a lot of activity from year to
year. They might have 60 companies-I'm just going from memory
here-on the books and they might have a change of 10 per
Mr Chair, I think the
presenter has got his finger on an issue. There's a theoretical
program out there that isn't working, so we've got two choices.
One is that we adopt your suggestion, or at least the government
adopt something, or we make these things work somehow or other. I
wonder if it might be appropriate, when the witness leaves, if we
ask the research staff to get an update on how many of these
things are working now and how many investments-I had a briefing
on it about six months ago and there was one, I think.
We'll take that undertaking, Mr Phillips.
With that, we've run out of
time. On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
Our next presenter is Malcolm Stopani-Thomson. Could you please
state your name for the record?
Stopani-Thomson: Malcolm Stopani-Thomson. I'm a retired
engineer and private citizen.
On behalf of the committee, welcome, and you have 15 minutes for
your presentation this morning.
Stopani-Thomson: Mr Chairman, members of the committee,
the constitutional taxation belief system is expressed in the
article from the Ottawa Citizen, "6,000 Years of Feeding the
Dragon," of Monday, February 7, 2000, at page A15, by Randall
Denley. It states, "In Canada, taxpayers were cooked from day
one, when the British North America Act gave the federal
government unlimited taxing powers." This is not so, but it is
the belief system.
There are six sections in the
Constitution of interest; five major, one minor. The sections are
91, 92, 102, 126 and 107, and the minor one is 130.
On the handout sheet, you
will see that the word "generality" occurs within section 91. If
you go to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, which is the official
dictionary of the federal government, you will find out that
generality means "being general." If you go down to the bottom
and look at the last trailing paragraph, 91, you'll see that
local and private matters are assigned to the provinces.
If you go to 102 and 126,
you'll find the word "special," and special in the dictionary
means "not general powers of the legislatures of the provinces,"
ie, Ontario. If you look carefully within the Constitution, you
will find the words "assigned exclusively." They occur in section
91, the introductory paragraph, head 29, and the trailing
paragraph. They also occur in section 130, and they'll always
occur with "assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the
If you look up the word
"assigned," it still means-and it's on the second page; you can
see it-"allotted as a share to; made over (especially personal
property)." "Exclusive" means "shutting out." So we have four
times in the Constitution the words "assigned exclusively to the
legislatures of the provinces," and this basically states that
personal property belongs to the provinces. So why is the federal
government taxing personal property?
What I said was about the
generality. You look at "general," being general; you look at
"local," assigned to the provinces. Local and private are also in
If you want to look up the
word "act" in any of the dictionaries-in this case I've given you
the one that comes out of Black's Law Dictionary-it says an act
is "public general," "local," "private," and "special" equates to
local. We have a situation here where continuously through the
Constitution you uphold that you as the provinces have total
control of personal property.
If you go down to section
107, you'll find the words "all stocks cash." You look in the
dictionary and cash is "ready money," and yet with the GST you
are taxed on the ready money when you walk into a store. Cash is
defined within the Constitution as "property," the third line
down in 107. Property is exclusive to the provinces under section
92.13 and there's many a court case that says so.
If you go back to the
handout on section 91, you will find the word "exclusive" right
at the top. That is the one and only exclusive given to the
federal government. There are seven other exclusives that apply
to the provinces. All have been ignored by lawyers, courts etc.
Those exclusives are two in the heading of 92; one in the title,
one on top. You'll find "exclusively" occurs four times. The last
exclusive is education. The gentleman before me was talking about
education funded by the federal government, yet it's exclusive to
You'll find also, as you
look down here under section 91.29, the words "expressly
excepted." The word "expressly" is also in the dictionary and
"excepted" also. If you look carefully at that and you substitute
these into the actual one, you will find that section 91.29 then
reads, "Such classes of subjects as are `definitely stated, not
merely implied as excluded from enumeration' in the enumeration
of the classes of subjects made over (especially personal
property)"-that's section 92.13-"to the legislatures of the
provinces," such as the class of direct taxation in 92.2.
The aim of the Constitution
was to have personal property assigned to the individuals who
lived within Upper Canada and that was to be taxed under 92.2.
When you get to the
Caron case, which turned around and didn't understand the basic
structure of the Constitution, they find the right to direct
taxation to the federal government for purposes of the
In 1887, Bank of Toronto v
Lambe was the first case in which an imperial Parliament had to
decide what direct taxation was, because the imperial Parliament
had all powers. They could do anything they liked, including hang
old guys who wrote with their left hand if they wanted to. They
turned around and decided that John Stuart Mills's definition was
to be the one accepted, and it's still today being used by the
Canadian government as the standard. However, you'll see in the
handout on the Bank of Toronto that the bar turned around and
decided that the word "general" that John Stuart Mills wanted to
add to direct taxation did not fit the description of income tax.
So basically now, under section 91, we have a government with
general statutory powers only levying, and not general tax.
The "assigned exclusively":
Like I said to you before, you can go through and look it up. But
when you start getting into the definition of an
individual-that's you, me and everybody else around this
table-you are single, particular, special, opposite to general.
The federal government has only general powers. When you are
special, you are not general. That's what the dictionary calls
it. General is universal, but not local, particular, partial or
sectional. So we tolerate the Clarity Act being written by the
federal government, dealing with Quebec, which is a local act
passed by a general government, and it deals with one province
only. The word "general" means not particular, and they've got an
act for a particular province.
You sit back and you worry
about your finances coming in, but you have a situation where you
allowed the transfer payments to be put in the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms, schedule B to the Canada Act. Is it or is it not
sectional? They pay Atlantic provinces out of tax rates in
Ontario, so you get this mishmash. The basic bottom line is the
feds have the general statutory power; provinces have the local,
private and special, because those are the acts, the statutory
power, that existed in 1867.
When you go back to section
91 and you look carefully at it, past the word "generality" you
have the words "foregoing terms." If you look in the Concise
Oxford Dictionary, you will find that "foregoing" means
previously mentioned terms or conditions. What are the previously
mentioned conditions? If you go to the first part, it says
"peace, order, and good government."
However, gentlemen, you
have a Lieutenant Governor in this province, as of 1867, who is a
direct descendant of James Murray, who is the general who took
over from Wolfe when Wolfe was killed on the Plains of Abraham.
Under the royal proclamation of October 7, 1763, he was enjoined
to appoint governors that were to look after peace, welfare and
good government. So now you have a situation where you have the
federal government, with general powers only, dealing with
I don't have it down for
you, but if you happen to look up "welfare" in the dictionary you
will find: "A satisfactory state, health and prosperity,
wellbeing, usually of person, society etc. ... Welfare state: one
having national health, insurance and other social services."
So now you have Ontario
taxes flowing to the federal government from the GST, the Income
Tax Act; some $90 billion from the various provinces, from
Ontario usually the most of it, somewhere around $40 billion most
probably, all in not general taxes flowing to a general
government and coming back from a government that has peace,
order and good government spending it on welfare, which is the
mandate of the provinces.
You sit here and you don't
know this. You most probably never read the Constitution. I read
it for eight years, over and over again.
A tax is defined within the
Black's Law Dictionary as "a rateable portion of the produce of
the property and labour of the individual." Now, you look up
"private"-it is within your statutory powers to deal with the
private-you can tax my farm, you can tax Darwin's farm, or his
aunt's. You can do what you like with the person. Then you stand
back and allow the federal government to tax the individual too,
so you have a double taxation system, because you don't
understand what the Constitution says. You can quote all sorts of
statutes that were passed prior to 1982, but the mistake that
Trudeau made was he brought this back, made it the written
Constitution of Canada with the words still in it.
I basically wanted an
excuse to talk to you on the unemployment insurance. You have a
SIN number given to you if you're a private individual. You have
the federal government dealing with private individuals. They
don't have the statutory power of the private. They're collecting
your money and they turn around and they hand it back to you and
they'd like you to believe that they have the right to do so. But
if you look at 118, especially if you go down in the notes below
section 118 of the Constitution, in the Constitution itself, and
you read them carefully, you'll find there was a lump sum payment
to all the provinces and there was a universal per-head allowance
Paul Martin stands up the
other day and talks about the universal baby care program they
had. This is fine, but it only applies to babies. That's a
partial, part of the provinces. If you want to talk about the
territories, don't. The territories fall under section 146, and
for section 146 the laws are made as if they came from
We have a bigger problem in
Ontario. We have a problem where we have all the judges on all
your courts appointed by the Governor General. In 1949, William
Lyon Mackenzie King requested permanent letters patent from St
James's Palace, and they came from the hand of the king. They
came to Canada under the Great Seal of Canada. What statutory
power does the Great Seal of Canada hold? Talk to the federal
government; they think they've got everything. That's why they've
walked over you for the last 120-odd years.
The Great Seal of Canada holds general statutory
pow-ers only. That is in accordance with resolution 28 of the
London conference on confederation in 1866. These prin-ciples are
brought forward by W.P.M. Kennedy in his article "Interpretation
of the British North America Act, 1867" that occurs in the
Cambridge Law Journal at page 146, 1943.
We have a situation-
You have one minute to wrap it up.
Stopani-Thomson: Okay. I hope sincerely that you have an
alternative thought on what the Constitution stands for in my
presentation, and I sincerely hope you do something about it,
because I'm getting sick and tired of being taxed by the federal
government. People go to a court and they go to an admiralty or a
civil court and it has three things. If it's an admiralty, it has
prize money, it has torts and it has contracts. If you go to a
civil court, it has torts and contracts. When the federal
government revenue department stands there with the T1 generals,
they do not produce the original contract. So all the cases that
are being done in the civil law courts are fraudulent.
As far as the appointment
of judges, like I said, they're being appointed under the Great
Seal of Canada with general statutory powers only. There isn't a
single judge in Ontario who has the right to hear local and
private matters, because they don't have the power they can
With that, I have to bring it to an end because we have run out
of time. On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Stopani-Thomson: I tried to pack in as much as possible,
Mr John Gerretsen
(Kingston and the Islands): No time for questions, Mr
Chair? I have a few of them.
No time for questions, Mr Gerretsen. I'm sure you do.
Gerretsen: Have you discussed this with your local
member here and with the Attorney General?
Stopani-Thomson: He phoned me up and suggested I come
Gerretsen: I bet he did.
Mr Doug Galt
(Northumberland): I always suspected those rascals in
Ottawa were up to no good, and now I know for sure.
Thank you very much. I must bring back order to the
Our next presenter is Mr Jack Drynan. For the record, please,
could you state your name. On behalf of the committee, welcome.
You have 15 minutes for your presentation this morning.
Drynan: My name is Jack Drynan. My story won't be so
complicated. It's just about money.
Ontario pre-budget tax
review committee, committee members, my name is Jack Drynan and
my topic concerns the property taxes of my tenants at the
Seeley's Bay Centre. I will read my letter of September 7, 1999,
to the Brockville regional assessment office and then my
"Regional assessment office
"Enclosed is the completed
schedule of occupants as per your August 30 letter request.
"In the July 99
"The assessment for the
LCBO, May 1, 1999, would be approximately $1.77 a square
"The assessment for the
medical, January 1, 1999, would be approximately $2.01 a square
"I find these rates
excessive for a rural area lacking in services and offer in
comparison the following news release in the Toronto Star showing
Mississauga at $1 per square foot with the services of an urban
"A medical centre and a
full-time LCBO have brought a much-needed boost for this
community and a more moderate tax will help lease the other 70%
of the building.
"Trusting the July 1999
supplemental assessment rates will be revised by my appeal to be
competitive, as the Harris government advocates."
The Seeley's Bay area has a
need for employment. A great number of the people are unemployed
and receive government assistance, which could be confirmed by
The Seeley's Bay Medical
Centre opened July 1998 in our new mall and has gone from zero to
over 4,000 patients. The seasonal LCBO that was relocated to the
mall is now operating very successfully on a full-time basis.
Both of these ventures have created services and employment where
they did not exist before, along with maintenance such as snow
removal, lawn service and construction. One resident has opened
up a beer bottle return depot due to the LCBO operating a
The 12,000-square-foot mall
sits on one of three lots that were divided up from a 10-acre
parcel with a road passing through it to service the three
commercial lots. There is potential for the other two equal-sized
lots to be developed, as well as the unoccupied area of the mall.
The development of the property, road and building have all been
done privately. The medical centre's 1999 tax bill for 1,200
square feet was $2,451.66 or $2.04 a square foot, which is twice
the price of Napanee, Markham and Mississauga.
Can you imagine how much
relief having 4,000-plus patients attended locally takes off the
Kingston General Hospital, as well as the effect proper
maintenance will have on future long-term care? If this fact is
worth considering, then consider that the same taxes charged
elsewhere would provide twice the tax space, which incidentally
is exactly what the medical centre requires. By reducing taxes to
a more competitive level, you would not only bring more relief to the Kingston
General Hospital by allowing the Seeley's Bay Medical Centre to
grow but would also attract commercial and industrial interests
to our area, providing more taxes and employment and reducing
I have provided newspaper
articles from the Toronto Star and the Kingston Whig-Standard,
along with a photo emphasizing client use of the medical centre,
which expresses a larger space requirement, for your
In addition, I'd like to
comment on a Kingston Whig article dated February 5, 2000.
Approximately 64% of our
tax dollars goes to education, while Ontario's school teachers
are among the highest paid in North America. The Ontario
teachers' pension plan board has shrewdly invested their money
into business and real estate, realizing millions, if not
billions, of dollars. Last year they purchased the Toronto Eaton
Centre and this year, with partners, purchased Shoppers Drug Mart
for $2.55 billion. Government could take advantage of this fact
by taking the tax dollars paid by the teachers and their pension
plan towards reducing the high education tax load.
Just as some personal
information, I moved my business to Markham because of low taxes.
It was a village of 6,000 people. Today, it has upwards of
200,000 people and low taxes. I still have a business in Markham,
but I came here to semi-retire. I was asked to serve on the
search committee for a doctor, and that's how the Seeley's Bay
Centre came about. Low or competitive business taxes start things
rolling. I know, I've been there. Thank you.
Thank you very much. We have two minutes per caucus. I'll start
with the government side.
Thanks for your presentation. There have been some difficulties
with actual value assessment as we've moved into it. It's
something that's been talked about for two or three decades.
Various governments had talked about bringing it in, and we
finally did in our first term. The philosophy is right, but there
have been a few stumbling blocks. Obviously you've run into one
I'm curious. The local
assessment office must be telling you what the local comparators
are. You're going from elsewhere, where you'd think the
comparators would be much higher. Are there other properties in
the Seeley's Bay area, that they're saying this is why your
assessment is at this level?
I'm not comparing it with what's in the immediate area. I'm
comparing it with what it is in Markham and-
The actual tax levels are what you have compared?
Yes. I've received my taxes and paid my taxes in Seeley's Bay. I
also have paid my taxes in Markham.
Maybe I wasn't totally clear. The problem isn't assessment then,
as you see it. The problem is the local tax base, compared with
other areas and their tax base.
That's right. The way to make it competitive is, we should all be
down lower. We should not have to pay twice the taxes in Seeley's
Bay, in a rural area that doesn't have the amenities of a
Maybe we can explore that for a few minutes. You made reference
to education and the cost and what's going there. Fifty per cent
of the residential education is now being paid by the province.
Is that the main reason your taxes on this property are so high,
because of education?
I just point that out as we're paying taxes for education at the
rate of about 64%. I think that's quite high. They might pay the
same thing in Markham. The whole tax structure is too high; it's
twice as high.
Gerretsen: Thank you very much. I'm familiar with your
plaza in Seeley's Bay. It certainly looks like a very well-run
and organized plaza. As a matter of fact, it's the only plaza
probably within about 30 or 40 kilometres, I would think, any
The question that I have
is, are you also concerned about the fact that for the same space
in a plaza, some businesses are being, on a square-footage basis,
charged more than other kinds of business? Why is the LCBO, for
example, paying $1.77 a square foot in taxes and the medical
centre $2.01? What kind of answer do you get from the assessment
people when you raise that issue?
It's something I have no power over. They decide that they've
spent more money on their amenities, and I-
Gerretsen: No, but did they give you a reason? Did they
say why one is more than the other?
Gerretsen: Is it under appeal right now?
It's under appeal.
Gerretsen: I see. Thank you.
Phillips: Just to pursue the question that Mr Galt was
raising, in Markham your property is assessed at a certain value
and in Seeley's Bay your property is assessed at a certain value.
Are you saying that the value per square foot in Seeley's Bay
that you're assessed at is substantially higher than the value
per square foot that you're assessed at for a comparable building
I'm saying that my taxes per square foot are twice the price.
It's $1 a square foot in Markham; it's $2 in Seeley's Bay. If you
read the articles that I've added with my resumé, they show
how important it is for a township or a village or whatever to
bring their taxes down to be competitive if we want to bring
people here, and that's my aim. My aim was to help the doctors,
and they're doing well. In fact, we're running out of space and
it's hard for them. They don't make the money that it's said they
Thank you very much, Mr Phillips. Mr Christopherson.
Christopherson: Thank you for your presentation. When Mr
Galt talks about the fact that they brought in their property tax reform legislation, I'm
sure you'd be interested to know that they liked doing it so much
they introduced six more subsequent bills, which actually were
necessary to correct the problems in the first bill, and then
continued to bring in bills to correct follow-up problems that
were created with the subsequent bills that came after the
initial bill. All of this the government was told was going to
happen because they rushed it through, so it's not surprising
that virtually every day of these hearings we hear of some
business person who, quite frankly, is still getting shafted by
what the government has done.
I'm from Hamilton and I
have two major commercial sectors: the downtown of Hamilton
proper and Westdale, if you know Hamilton. That's in the west end
of the city. Both those small business communities finally were
going to get a little bit of fairness out of this because finally
they would have been charged based on what the value of their
property was and that would have made them more competitive. Then
the government brought in the cap and totally screwed it up and
we're still losing business. In fact, the rate of business
leaving has increased rather than decreased.
So I can just tell you that
your problems are not shared by you alone, that we have these
concerns in all the commercial areas of all our communities right
across Ontario. It's interesting as we travel, because when I'm
in a town, the small businesses talk to me about being
competitive, and then I go into the neighbouring towns and they
talk about being competitive. Of course, everybody wants to
compete with each other, and at the end of the day all everybody
wants is fairness, some kind of system that makes sense.
When a government has to
bring in six bills after an initial bill to keep correcting all
the mistakes they've made along the way, I don't see how anyone
can believe they are benefiting the interests of competitiveness
and fairness for small business people right across the
I appreciate your coming
The Vice-Chair (Mr
Doug Galt): Thank you very much. Your time has run out.
Thank you, Mr Drynan, for coming forward and presenting to us
I got off easy. Thank you very much.
BROCKVILLE AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL
Vice-Chair: I will now call our next witness forward, Mr
Jim Murray from the Brockville and District Labour Council. Mr
Murray, representing an organization, you have a half an hour for
presentation and then the remaining time will be divided up among
the three caucuses for comment and/or questions. Please state
your name and away you go.
Murray: Thank you very much. My name is Jim Murray. I am
vice-president of the Brockville and District Labour Council,
which I am representing this morning. I am also a member of
OPSEU, local 439, at the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital-so it
would be the Royal Ottawa hospital, I guess-where I work as a
Since I think all of you
are from out of town, I'd like to begin by giving you a little
bit of a tour of our town, Brockville. As you come into the city,
if you come in from the west, the first thing you'll see is a
major plant called Phillips Cables, which is now closed, which
formerly employed 600 workers. Mr Runciman assured the community
that lots of great things would be happening there. So far, a few
small operations are in that facility, but it's pretty much
As you continue on your
tour into the town you'll go through our main street, which is
not a big main street. It's probably six blocks, if you live in a
city. Yesterday, I drove through there and counted over 24 vacant
stores in the downtown core. That's a pretty high percentage when
you consider the total number that we have in downtown
If you go north and up
about a block, you'll find a building which formerly housed the
VON, where they had a big banner which proudly said, "Serving the
community" for some 50 years. Well, the VON is no longer in
business because this government decided that the homecare
business, the not-for-profit business like the VON or the Red
Cross, that someone had to make a profit on that, and so the VON
is now out of there and not in the homecare business, along with
the Red Cross and other not-for-profit organizations that we used
to depend on, because I guess that's what the government thought
we wanted them to do.
You can swing now back
along King Street and drive west through the main street. On your
left you'll see the former Fulford Home, which was a
long-term-care facility, which is now closed. The funding formula
is the reason that's given. Really, I guess that means the
government has decided to make the operators operate with too few
dollars to run that facility, so it's now closed.
If you proceed a little
further, on the right-hand side you'll see St Lawrence Lodge,
which is the municipally funded home for the aged. Now, St
Lawrence Lodge is in a lot of trouble these days because under
the new funding formula and by the edict of this government, they
have been told they can't expand that facility. They need more
beds. They can't expand on that property. I know this firsthand
because my mother, before she passed away, was a resident of that
facility. I, the caregiver for my mother, received a letter: "Oh,
by the way, St Lawrence Lodge cannot expand. It cannot be
renovated. It must be replaced. We must raise money to replace
it." Even though it was a municipally funded facility, as I said,
which my mother and other people in the community helped to
build, they were run out of business. They are going to be
replaced for, again, business-operated homes for the aged where
you can get in if you have the money, I suppose.
On the left of St Lawrence
Lodge you'll see Brockville Psychiatric Hospital where I work, at
least for now. That's a
place where the restructuring commission came in-actually they
didn't come in, they didn't even set foot on the property, but
they ordered it closed. Duncan Sinclair was the man, I think,
responsible for that. Right now it's in total disarray. The Royal
Ottawa is supposedly taking over. Nobody really is sure why, or
how this is going to work out, but that's what's happening
I should say that before
you get to the hospital there is another building which I forgot,
another Ontario government building which formerly housed the
MNR, the natural resources people. We of course are gone, because
this government decided we don't need people to go out and look
after our natural resources, that we don't need people to police
our parks and so on. We can hire it out to anybody with a badge
who wants to work for $6.85 an hour or whatever these private
security firms do. That's what has happened in that building.
If you go a little further
north, you'll see St Lawrence College, a community college which
we're all very proud of, which this government has managed to
turn into a former shell of what it was. A number of the programs
that were there are now abandoned. They've been sent out to the
Kingston or Cornwall campus. We hear now that one of them may
return. People have been really fighting to keep that place open.
I am sure it was the mission of the former administration to have
that place closed and out of there. They really would like
private trainers to be able to come in and do the job that
Canadian colleges have done. So that's St Lawrence College.
If you go further west now,
you'll see the former Black and Decker plant, which is closed, of
course, which was another giant loss to our community.
This government has told us
that the economy is booming. I say to them, for whom? Not for
people in Brockville; I don't even think for people in Toronto or
any city in Ontario. It's booming for the people at the top end
of the scale because, if you look at the profits, look at the CEO
earnings, look at the stock market, of course it's booming. It's
certainly not booming for any workers in Ontario.
There are a couple of
industries that have expanded in Brockville. We now have I think
four pawnshops. The food bank can't keep up with demand. In fact,
they've expanded to a Loaves and Fishes operation, which is a
restaurant-soup kitchen, and God love them for doing that. These
people are really trying to make a difference in the community, a
job which really should be done by the government. I don't know
why, in a province that produces more wealth than any other, more
and more people have to go to a food bank in order to survive,
but that's the reality. That's the reality of Brockville.
When we look at what this
government does, and the budget impacts everything they do,
people would ask, "Why has this government abandoned so many
workers?" I'm one of those, as are the people at MNR and anyone
in the public service. I guess the short answer is that
privatization is the key to our fortunes, or so we're told.
Mike Harris and his
followers think, and I remember Dave Johnson saying: "Oh yes, we
have to get more bang for our buck. We can get services cheaper,
better, faster," whatever. That is the big lie that we're being
told. When you extract a profit margin, it can't be cheaper. We
don't think-those of us who are working people are people who
used to trust our government-that you need to make a profit on
sick people. We don't think you have to make a profit on the
elderly. We don't think you have to make a profit on students,
our children, our education. But this government thinks that.
This government thinks that the only thing that's worthwhile is
to make a profit wherever possible. This government has abandoned
its responsibility as a government and really has become a weak
appendage of big business. When Mike Harris said that Ontario was
open for business, he forgot to tell you that it's closed to
people, and he forgot to say: "Not open for business generally;
open for big business." As we just heard from the gentleman
earlier, small business operators, people trying to strive, are
not getting a break from this government.
If you believe that
privatization is the ultimate goal, what do you have to do? As a
famous man, John Snobelen-everybody remembers him-once said, and
I think he misspoke, "What we have to do is create a crisis in
education and then go about solving it." I think he really let
out, misspoke, what the true aim of the government is: We create
a crisis in every situation where we have publicly funded
institutions, not only in education. If you want to make
something look bad-and I know because I work in one of those
facilities-and you control the funding to that facility, it's
very easy to cut the funding, make that institution look bad and
then say: "Gee, this is so terrible, we have to close it. We have
to find an alternative." The great example is in education.
People are saying, and I hear it in the media all the time: "The
public schools are so bad, the public colleges and universities
are so bad, we have to do something. We have to open them up to
private trainers. Boy, we could really do great things if we
operated under the same principles they do in the United States."
In the United States, people send their kids to private schools.
They're afraid to send them to public schools because they have
gotten that bad. Well, this government wants our schools to get
that bad, very simply.
Health care: Ralph Klein,
Mike Harris's idol, is going on and on about how we should make
health care more flexible, open it up to private enterprise and
concerns. What he's really saying is, "Let's let rich folks jump
to the head of the line and get their health care, and if nobody
else gets it, that's too bad." Of course the model again is the
United States, but what they don't tell you is that 40 million
people in the United States have no health care at all; they have
no insurance. People in Ontario right now are feeling the crunch
because this government wants to open up health care to private
concerns. Health care is in crisis, just as education is. It's a
When it comes to the aged,
the saying is, and this comes from the US and it's a terrible
statement: "It's mining
grey gold. There is money to be made on the backs of old people."
This is a government that we should respect? I don't think
Again and again we hear of
public institutions that really have to be done away with. We
hear about the "old Ontario Hydro-so bad." Yet, when we look at
what happens in privately run operations, people don't want to
hear things like Three Mile Island, what happened in Japan
recently with those nuclear waste buckets. Yet Mike Harris is
saying, "Fine, let's privatize Ontario Hydro." Ontario Hydro,
which has a track record that's probably unmatched in the world
as far as safety, now has become the "old Ontario Hydro." In
communities across the province, as a result-one little bit of
our tour that I forgot to mention was the PUC, the Brockville
public utilities. There is such a cash crunch now that while the
foundations are being laid, the population is being fed bits and
bits of information from the propaganda network of this
government to tell us how bad the public utilities are, how far
they're in debt. Yet it's this very government that is putting
them in debt. They wouldn't let them bail themselves out even
though they had a reserve fund. Now we're seeing increased costs,
and my question is, when private concerns take over public
utilities, who is going to pay the 30% tax that private
businesses pay for electrical services? Of course it's going to
be the people. It's not going to be the corporation.
The second question is, why
is there such a need to make a profit on something that we need
to live in this country, especially this time of year? Do we need
people to make a profit so that people can stay warm? We see what
happened in Britain, where they went the whole nine yards and in
fact privatized water. Judging from the track record of this
government, that'll probably be next here. Maybe air will be
after that. You see, everything has to be taxed; everything has
to make a profit.
How have the policies of
this government impacted on this community? I'd just like to give
you a couple of real-life stories. One is a lady who has a deaf
daughter who has now lost the supports that she needs to attend
school because the funding formula changed. It's all being blamed
on the school board, but we know that it goes directly back to
the government's budget. Another lady I know, who was a welfare
recipient, was encouraged-actually forced, I suppose you could
say-to be involved in the Ontario Works project. She was given a
placement-not a job, a placement-and subsequently talked into
taking a course from a private trainer and now has no job but
also an OSAP loan to repay. I would like to know how many jobs
Ontario Works/workfare has created. I don't know of any. We know
of all the placements-tons of placements-but no jobs.
I'd like to talk a little
bit about the tax cut. This government is telling us that tax
cuts create jobs. I would like someone from the government to
tell me what hard data they have to prove that the tax cut has
created a single job in Ontario. I haven't seen any data. In
fact, this regressive tax only goes to the people at the top end.
When you give a tax cut to someone rich, Mike Harris thinks
that's a great idea. It's going to trickle all down. Well, I
don't like being trickled on; in fact, I haven't been. It didn't
work for Ronald Reagan, didn't work for Margaret Thatcher, and
it's not working in Ontario for the people. It is working for Mr
Harris and his friends.
I think it's best
exemplified by the Premier himself. If you give a tax cut to
someone at the low end, they spend it immediately. If they need
food, if they need clothes, if their kids need things, it goes
immediately back to the economy. That's not the route that this
government has chosen, because there is very little in the way of
a tax cut for people at the low or middle end. All of the tax cut
benefits the people at the top.
Our illustrious Premier I
think best illustrates what happens when you get a tax cut. Over
the Christmas vacation, what did Mike Harris do, supposedly with
his tax cut? He went to Florida. How did that benefit the people
of Ontario? It really didn't, as I can see. The other thing is,
he was supposed to be in North Bay. I don't know what happened
there. He told everyone he was in North Bay. I don't know why he
would tell us he was in North Bay when he was in Florida. I
suppose he has his reasons. Maybe somebody here could tell me
that; I don't know.
Yesterday a friend of mine
in the construction industry handed me a publication put out by
the Council of Onta-rio Construction Associations. This is new;
he just got this in the mail. This is an example of what the
Harris government is doing to workers in this province. I'm going
to read from this:
"Major contractor groups
are going to the Harris government asking to change the labour
laws in Ontario. They want to delete section 1(4) of the Labour
Relations Act so they can spin off non-union companies that
operate outside the union agreement. This has been against the
law in Ontario for decades but these contractors want that
changed. They want the flexibility to walk away from union rates
and conditions. They may still keep a union operation in case
they need skilled workers from the hiring hall for big industrial
jobs, but most of their work will be shifted to the non-union
side where they will set whatever wages they want."
Mike Harris has bought into
this plan. He wants to change an agreement that has worked with
labour for years in Ontario. I suppose he feels that people who
work in construction don't deserve the money they earn. I think
if that's the case, he should probably go out and work alongside
someone in construction for a couple of days. Compared to
trotting around a golf course, he might find it a little
Just another little quick
note around the health care issue. These are not the words of
myself; this is from Maclean's magazine, January 17. It compares
all the provinces in terms of the number of seniors'
long-term-care beds and home care beds.
If we look at home care,
this government has recently cut the maximum to 60 hours a month.
If anybody here has had
a sick relative, as I have, or knows someone who is chronically
ill, 60 hours a month just doesn't cut it. What is that a week?
What is that a day? A little over an hour a day for someone who
probably needs to be in hospital but can't. So the long-term care
has been cut to 60 hours in Ontario.
If you compare Ontario to,
say, New Brunswick, and we're looking at home care, the waiting
list in New Brunswick for home care is about 83 people. The
waiting list in Quebec for home care-there is no waiting list.
The waiting list in Manitoba for home care is nothing. There is
no waiting list, and they provide 32,000 people a year with home
care. Their maximum hours are unlimited.
In Ontario the waiting list
for home care is 11,000 people. People are dying, suffering
immeasurably, as a result of the policies of this government. If
you don't believe me, talk to someone who has had a sick relative
recently, and if you don't do that, your time will come and
you'll find out. This is absolutely disgraceful. We're the
province that's producing more wealth than any other, yet here we
are taking it out on the backs of the most vulnerable, the
weakest, the oldest people in the province. This is absolutely
While we're on the subject
of budgets, I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that this
government has continually ignored what was probably the most
telling event of this government's tenure, and that was the
shooting of Dudley George at Ipperwash in 1995. It is estimated
that the coalition for the public inquiry into Ipperwash has
cost-and this is a conservative estimate-over $4 million, to
investigate and cover up what happened at Ipper-wash in September
As a taxpayer and a
citizen, I think our tax money would be better spent uncovering
the truth about what happened at Ipperwash than covering it up. I
encourage the people sitting to my right to continue that
struggle. When the United Nations tells Canada that there should
be a full public inquiry into what happened at Ipperwash in the
shooting of Dudley George, this government cannot continue to
ignore it. Thank you.
We have approximately one minute per caucus. Mr Phillips.
Phillips: Let me assure you that I for one will not ever
give up on the Ipperwash affair until we find out the truth of
what happened there. I can guarantee you that.
It was a very good
presentation, by the way, and I know from colleagues like Mr
Gerretsen the challenges of the economy in the Brockville area.
It's hard to know where to begin, but to start, Ontario is now
the most export-reliant jurisdiction in the world. When we
started these hearings, the government said, "What is driving the
Ontario economy is domestic spending." Since 1995, domestic
spending is up $20 billion and exports are up $80 billion.
Exports are driving the Ontario economy.
I have a suspicion that
that is one of the challenges for Brockville. Exports are tending
to go to New York state through Buffalo and to Michigan through
Detroit-Port Huron. The challenge we are going to run into, and
we've seen this at the hearings, is that exporters say we have to
harmonize our taxes with the US. So we are going to see enormous
pressure to harmonize taxes with the US. Then everybody needs to
harmonize services with the US, or lower services, because our
productivity per capita in Ontario is lower than in the US.
Therefore, in my opinion, if we don't figure out how to manage
this, we are heading towards undermining the primary thing we do
with our taxes, and that is our health care system. That is the
number one area we spend our tax dollars on for ourselves.
I don't whether the
Brockville Labour Council has had an opportunity to look at the
impact of the trends in exports to your economy. I know that was
not central to your theme, but we don't have the chamber of
commerce speaking to us today, and I think the economic group has
cancelled its presentation. So we do not have a chance to talk to
the business community about the effects.
Do you have a question, Mr Phillips?
Phillips: Have you had a chance to look at the impact of
exports on your businesses here?
Certainly that has been a problem with companies. Another plant,
Newell, has just closed in Prescott-90 years in Prescott-bought
by Rubbermaid and moved to Freeport, Illinois, I believe. Rather
than keep the company open to produce for the local market, they
just decided to draw back and save jobs in the US; the same with
Black and Decker.
We don't have a domestic
market. I think Brockville is no different than anywhere else.
When you had to produce in Canada to sell in Canada, we had a
domestic market. With free trade and NAFTA, that is no longer the
case. So unless somehow, some way, government recaptures what we
had in some fashion, we're continually going to compete with
Mexico and Third World countries for these jobs.
Christopherson: Thank you , Jim. I don't know if you
were here at the opening of the hearings this morning, but right
off the bat we heard from Mr Bickerton, a general insurance
broker in Gananoque. His presentation was basically singing the
praises of this government. So it was good to have you come in
and talk about the other part of Ontario that exists out
Let me just read you a
couple of quotes from his presentation. I wouldn't mind your
thoughts, particularly as the last one relates directly to health
care. He did start out by saying, "I would like to compliment the
government on its accomplishments since the beginning of its
first term in office just over four years ago." He went on to
say: "To any naysayers out there"-and I suspect that might be you
and me, Jim-"who have felt they were disadvantaged by the cuts
that were made, I say that we had all become too used to having
government throw money at our every request. This includes
education and health care, as well as many other departments. It
was high time for us to accept a dose of reality and stop feeling
sorry for ourselves." He also said, "I think that all citizens
expressing concern now about health care truly understand that
you did what you had to do."
Well, Jim, do you understand and believe the
government did what they had to do in terms of what they've done
in health and education?
No. I think they threw money all right, but they threw money back
at their friends and themselves, because of course they don't
have to worry about health care. When someone with a fair amount
of money becomes ill, they can get whatever they want to save
their life-have a heart transplant. If you're a working person in
Ontario and you're at the back of the line, you simply may not
get it in time. People are literally dying on waiting lists. To
make that statement is absolutely misguided.
Thank you very much. Government side.
Christopherson: We will also continue to fight for an
inquest into the Dudley George affair.
Mrs Tina R.
Molinari (Thornhill): Thank you, Mr Murray, for your
presentation this morning. I want to assure that this government
truly cares about all the people of Ontario. The difference is
that we've had the courage to make the difficult decisions needed
in order to provide for long-term care.
You talked about some of
the decisions with respect to health care. For a long time it was
stated that health care was not in the position to provide for
all of the services needed and changes needed to be mind. This
government recognized the aging population, and as a result
introduced and made available more long-term-care beds to provide
for the aging population.
You also talked about the
tax cuts going to the wealthy. Well, more than 90% of Ontario
taxpayers experienced a 30% tax cut, and those who earn $60,000
or less got more than 30% of the tax cut. So if your idea is that
90% of the people of Ontario are the richest, then I think we
have a province that is quite fruitful.
You talked about some
personal experiences with people in health care. Let me tell you
about a personal experience of a very close friend of mine whose
father was very ill. She told me that because of the change in
the drug formulary and the fact that we introduced more drugs
that were able to be accessed through insurance plans and through
other sources, they were able to better afford those drugs that
they hadn't been able to afford before. So I have to take issue
with some of the comments that you've made.
With respect to funding for
education and health, it's ever-evolving. No plan is perfect.
What we're doing is trying to make it better, and hopefully, as
we move towards the future ideas that come through, that will
help make it even better and improve it. Certainly as the
government we're open to listening to a number of constructive
ideas on how we can improve all of the services that are
presently in place for the future. So I want to assure you that
definitely these hearings are a way for us to be listening to the
people, of improving what we already have in place and moving
forward for all the people of Ontario.
With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
thank you very much for your presentation this morning.
Due to the road conditions,
our next presenter, the mayor of Gananoque, had to turn back. I
don't know whether she'll be able to make it later. We're going
to be in the building. If she shows up we'll try to get in
Phillips: That can't be so.
Christopherson: Not enough funding to plow the
If you recall this morning when you woke up, unless you woke up
late, the roads were pretty good, and if you have a look outside
right now, I'm sure it would be very difficult for anybody, under
any conditions probably, to have them in good condition. The 11
o'clock presenter has also cancelled, so we'll recess until
11:30, unless the mayor shows up.
The committee recessed
from 1035 to 1130.
ELEMENTARY TEACHERS' FEDERATION OF ONTARIO, UPPER
The next presenter is a representative from the Elementary
Teachers' Federation of Canada, Upper Canada Local-and I don't
have the number. If you could please step forward and state your
name for the record.
Frith: My name is Randy Frith. I'm president of the
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Canada, Upper Canada
Okay, so Upper Canada Local. Thank you very much. On behalf of
the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your presentation
Welcome to sunny Brockville. I gather most of you were in Timmins
yesterday. We've avoided most of the snow so far this year, but
Mr Chairperson and members
of the standing committee, thank you for the opportunity to make
this presentation. My name, as I mentioned earlier, is Randy
Frith. I'm the president of the elementary teachers' federation
here in Upper Canada. Our local represents approximately 1,300
elementary school teachers and another approximately 400
occasional teachers. As you'll see, and I know you've got copies
that have been distributed, the form of our presentation will be
as follows: We'll give you an overview-and some of you will know
this better than others, but we'll give you an overview of the
Upper Canada District School Board, with the emphasis on the
sheer size of our geography; an explanation of the distinct
cultural differences in this board; a clarification of some of
the program differences that we had when this board was
amalgamated; and some of the program differences that still
continue. Then we'll take a look at some of the specific
challenges, as we see them as teachers on behalf of our students,
and their impact here in Upper Canada. Last, we'll conclude with
some recommendations that would enable us as teachers to do a
better job and thus meet the needs of our students here in Upper
Canada, not just now but, as I mentioned, for the future.
The Upper Canada District
School Board is an amalgamation of four former boards: Lanark to
the north; Leeds and
Grenville, where you are presently; Stormont, Dundas and
Glengarry; and Prescott-Russell. We are one of two boards in the
province that were such a combination of four. In the public
domain we are basically eastern Ontario, with the exception of
Ottawa-Carleton. We have 110 elementary and secondary schools
that stretch from just east of Kingston to the Quebec border. To
put that in context, when I visit schools to the east of us, I
often stay at my daughter's house, who lives in Beaconsfield.
It's a lot closer than doing the drive home. So it's large. We
stretch to Pakenham and Almonte in the north and basically circle
Ottawa, as I said. We have one main board office. If you wanted
to go for a good walk, it's about a block away to the east here.
It's located in Brockville, as I said, with three regional
education centres which have evolved. These must service
approximately 25,000 elementary students, 14,000 secondary
students and close to 4,000 staff. Our 1999-2000 budget is $244.5
Geography, especially with
amalgamation, is often our number one concern here in Upper
Canada. Nothing is planned without factoring in the vast
distances. I see that on your program you had a couple cancel out
earlier because of the weather and the geography. Just as I left
my office this morning, I cancelled the meeting for this
afternoon because teachers would have had to commute a couple of
hours. So we have to factor these in. We cover an area of 12,000
square kilometres. To put that in perspective, you could fit 13
Toronto district school boards into our area and have some space
I know, at least I've
certainly heard this through the funding, that we're described as
a rural board-we are a rural board is what I'm saying. We're
described otherwise. There are only two cities within our
boundaries, Cornwall and Brockville. In the elementary panel
there are 73 rural and 13 urban schools following that
description. The government funding didn't provide additional
funding to recognize our rural nature and chose to deem us urban.
They based that on our proximity to Ottawa-Carleton. They are
about an hour or an hour and 10 minutes to the north. However,
Limestone, our neighbour to the west, with a much larger city,
Kingston, approaching 100,000 people, is deemed to be rural.
Being rural and having
substantial distances between our schools leads us to have many
small schools. We have 16 schools with enrolments of under 150
pupils, 10 having less than 125 pupils. We have numerous schools
with split grading and the potential for triple grading. Combined
grades, as you're aware, if you've heard other elementary
presentations, certainly aren't new. But their number in Upper
Canada is increasing dramatically. Splitting grades seems to be
the only way to organize classes to fit the fewer number of
teachers we have. Classrooms with combined grades were always a
challenging environment for any teacher. Now it resembles Mission
Impossible. It has become much more challenging. The new
elementary curriculum requires material to be covered in specific
grades. The curriculum is tied to defined outcomes, and it's just
not possible to teach everything and everyone. The result is that
students get less time and individual attention from their
teachers. Parents are worried about the impact on their
children's province-wide test results. Our students deserve
classroom resources that meet their needs. They deserve adequate
time and attention to learn.
With amalgamation-I must
admit, even though I've taught in this area for a long time, I
learned this with our four former boards coming in-came the
realization of the unique cultural and program differences within
our four former boards. The most distinct and diverse was French
as a second language. Upper Canada, particularly the areas
covered by the former Prescott-Russell and Stormont, Dundas and
Glengarry to the east, recognized its large French-speaking
population by providing programs that met their needs. During the
past two years, the Upper Canada board made decisions resulting
in greater accessibility to French immersion programs and still
maintained a degree of local flexibility in determining the
amount of core and extended French appropriate to the needs of
local communities. Within Upper Canada, just to give you an
example of the range, core and extended programs are offered
within the following parameters: grades 7 and 8 within our board
go anywhere from 40 to 75 minutes a day; grades 4 to 6, 40 to 75
minutes a day; grades 1 to 3, 20 to 75 minutes a day; and
kindergarten, up to 40 minutes a day.
Allowing for these
site-based decisions in local communities within these set time
parameters appears to be serving the needs of our school
communities, but obviously it comes with a cost. The ministry
acknowledges only those core and extended programs offered in
grades 4 to 8 in its curriculum and funding policies. Therefore,
the costs to maintain these programs from kindergarten to grade 3
must come from somewhere else. The government needs to
acknowledge the need for funding in our region in particular-and
I'm sure there are others with a large French population-to
provide this primary French-as-a-second-language program.
In our former boards, local
priorities in the delivery of programs were addressed. Design and
technology-what some of us used to know when I went to school as
family studies and industrial arts-were emphasized, particularly
in both Lanark and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Delegations
from local school councils appear regularly in lobbying the board
to maintain these worthwhile programs. In fact, I sat on an
education and policy meeting last week where there were three
delegations trying to save those programs and legitimately
recognizing the needs and the benefits they've offered in their
community for quite a period of time. The decision on those
programs, by the way, even though they still exist in places, is
to be decided in the next couple of weeks and will be
forthcoming. Continuing these programs, however, means taking
money from other parts of the classroom allocation.
Library was a very high
priority in all of our former boards. One of the things in my job
when I took over two years ago after amalgamation was the
opportunity to visit all 93 of our elementary work sites. I was
very impressed by the
quality of our library facilities out there. Some schools
obviously were better than others, some that were newer, but they
were all very worthwhile and well-used facilities. Because of
cuts many of these excellent resources sit vacant or darkened
during the school day. To maintain these programs, staff must
also come from the classroom allocation, which increases class
The ministry's model funds
pupil spaces-maintenance, renovation and new pupil spaces-at a
lower level for elementary students than for secondary. This
limitation, in my opinion and that of others, is arbitrary and
unrealistic. Young students need as much space as older children,
especially in a time of child-centred learning.
This September in Upper
Canada we are closing three elementary schools. There are
numerous others that are targeted for the future. When a school
closes there is great loss, both to the students and the
community. It can mean loss of programs and an increase in class
size in the receiving school. Often, to accommodate the influx of
these new students, the receiving school must convert science
facilities, music, design and technology or special education
resource rooms over to regular classrooms.
We are facing challenges
here in Upper Canada. Staffing: The major challenge, certainly in
my job and I think with the people in senior administration in
the board over the last while, is trying to maintain the level of
quality that we had here in Upper Canada and variety in the
programs that are offered. This is what I mentioned earlier was
being asked by the parents. We lost 60 elementary teaching staff
for the 1999-2000 school year. It severely impeded our ability to
meet this challenge of offering those programs. Another 20 staff
were lost due to declining enrolment. And we have had declining
enrolment, but it's like anything else. The long-range
projections seem to level off and in fact may increase by the
year 2003. Since September 1997, in our board, Upper Canada
district-and now we're comparing figures from the last year of
when we were four former boards to 1999, last fall-the complement
of elementary teachers has been reduced by roughly 300 full-time
equivalents-a pretty drastic drop.
What specifically was
removed, as we're finding out as it has evolved, was the program
factor. It may not be terminology you're familiar with, but it
was the way we staffed the first two years as a board. By
allocating staff at the 25-to-1 ratio and using preparation time
to provide French, only the basic program needs of the elementary
students are being addressed. This formula does not provide the
flexibility or the teaching staff to offer programs that were
once considered essential.
Valuable programs, some of
which I've mentioned before-music, instrumental and vocal, design
and tech, library, computer studies, reading recovery, junior
kindergarten-were reduced or have been eliminated. Individual
schools, under pressure from parent groups and staff themselves,
have made tough decisions to maintain some of these programs. But
this has been at the expense of the classroom allotment. You
increase class size or you go to split grading to provide these,
to free staff up to do some of these important programs. It's a
dilemma where nobody wins. The problem is exacerbated in many of
our small schools, and that really is an issue in this board. We
just don't have the flexibility to offer some of these with fewer
teachers, and that was true long before amalgamation, by the way.
In the past, at least I know in my experience-and I come from
Leeds and Grenville-the board could and would adapt and add
additional staff to avoid triple grading, which nobody wants to
see. But the flexibility isn't there and the money isn't there to
the same degree. Contrary to what we heard in the last election,
our class sizes are up, and as a result, elementary students in
Upper Canada must suffer from the loss of valuable programs and
According to the data
collected in the elementary teachers' federation's response to
the EIC's second interim report, the elementary PTR in Upper
Canada between 1997 and 1999 has increased by 3.37. That is the
greatest increase of any board in the province. Research on class
size overwhelmingly points to the importance of small classes,
especially in the child's early years. The Upper Canada board
allocated staff at a 22-to-1 ratio this year in the primary
grades for 1999-2000. They should be commended for that. But as
you'll see, because the funding is based on a 25-to-1 ratio, this
meant that junior and intermediate classes became larger. So
there's a set-off. There are numerous classes within our
system-and we survey our members every year to get this data, and
the board provides us with the data-that have 30 or more
students, often in split-grade settings.
Special education: In the
third interim report the EIC confirmed what parents, school
boards and teachers have known for years. Programs for those
students with special needs are dangerously underfunded. The
impact is that identifications are slower, students are left on
waiting lists for placements or programs, and schools and staff
are asked to prioritize special-needs students. Because of the
lack of funds, the reality is that only the most needy get the
attention they deserve. The funding to augment the shortfall must
come from other areas and, again, other programs are reduced.
I think it was in the
announcement recently where the $40 million was added. It was
pointed out that the schools have been spending upwards of $100
million plus in trying to maintain these programs above and
beyond what the funding provides. But, of course, it comes from
The nature of accessing
these funds, though, whether through the ISA or SEPA grants,
forces staff to spend a much greater amount of time to complete
the paperwork necessary. This increased workload greatly lessens
the time that SERT, special education resource teachers, can work
with individual children. Programs, such as reading recovery,
which identify and assist children at the earliest age, should be
expanded, not eliminated. The special education grants are for
one year only, so we have to go through this process of applying
for the grants again. It's very difficult to sustain any kind of
To an elementary teacher, the frustration of
receiving one or more of these special-needs students in the
middle of the school year is agonizing. I want to explain that.
It's not because we don't want to receive those students, it's
just the perception of teachers. If they come in the middle of
the year, especially if they come from outside the board, the
funding doesn't move on until you reapply the next year for the
grants. So you have to deal with these special-needs students but
you don't have the assistance and resources to do it. Providing
essential programs for students with special needs has become
much more difficult and, in many cases, almost impossible.
Recent announcements, which
I mentioned, of increased funding will provide temporary relief
but my understanding is that it's just for one year. If we
compare the pre-Bill 160 funding for special education and the
current levels, it indicates that programs for students with
special needs are seriously jeopardized. The funding shortfall
must be taken from the classroom component or services cut.
It's very difficult. I sat
in an elementary staff meeting last week with the superintendent
responsible for special ed. He has sites within our board where I
would say close to one third plus of the students are identified.
The funding model just doesn't accommodate all of those needs. It
really is a difficult issue with special ed. It's a difficult
issue and it has been for years-I won't deny that-but it's
becoming even more difficult.
Until we get the grants and
the grants are passed on-the applications aren't finalized until
late in the year-it makes it really difficult to establish
programs for the next year. Once more, if you don't-you've got to
address these funding needs-the funding shortfall comes from the
classroom component or other services have to be cut.
Learning problems and
exceptionalities must be identified and addressed as early as
possible. We all recognize that. The later the intervention, the
more costly and less effective becomes the remediation. The
belief that teachers can do more with less is wrong.
Early years: Before the new
funding model was initiated, there was considerable support
directed to the primary grades and I think many of you will
remember this. However, student-focused funding took grant money
away from the early learners and replaced it with the early
learning grant. This grant was to be used to enhance kindergarten
to grade 3. In Upper Canada, we made the difficult but I believe
correct-and I think teachers did too and staff-decision to
maintain the junior kindergarten classes. As a board and as
teachers, we understand the need to give four-year-olds the
opportunity for an education. Only at the primary level, where
our students are the most vulnerable and would benefit the most
from smaller classes, enhanced programs and greater resources, do
we have to make this kind of choice, one against the other.
Transportation: I'll just
briefly comment on that once more, because of the geography. The
challenge in transportation in a lot of ways has been to save
money and to continue to provide the service. We have a great-and
I didn't put it in here and I wouldn't be leading you astray.
We've done a lot of co-operative work with this board for the
last few years and they have an excellent-it's sort of an
amalgamation, one board-joint transportation consortium and it
works. But there are still some things that are concerns.
The savings in some of
these areas have come at the expense of students and I wouldn't
say staff-that's a poor choice of words in my presentation; most
of them aren't walking-with longer walking distances, staggered
school hours, full day/alternate day kindergarten and many more
hours on the bus for the kids. School closures, especially in our
rural settings, will only add to this problem.
The greatest challenge for teachers in the past two years has not
been amalgamation. Teachers get on with life and deal with kids
every day. It's been the arrival of the new curriculum for nine
subject areas and new standardized electronic report cards.
With the cuts in
professional activity days from nine to four and the reduction of
preparation time by approximately 25% in our board, the challenge
is how to implement all these changes without adequate training
or fund-ing for resources. There was no transition period.
Teachers are expected to carry on doing their jobs while planning
and preparing to implement the new curriculum at the same time.
They are expected to scramble to find new resources and materials
to support this new curriculum.
I want to give you an
example. The funding has gone down over the years but my wife and
I-my wife is an elementary teacher, a grade 1 teacher, just west
of here. She went in to talk to her principal because she's in a
fortunate situation: She can retire at the end of the school
year. She was just pointing out to the principal, "It depends on
who comes in, but you're going to have to really put some money
aside to address some resources and the needs of this classroom."
The principal said, "Why?" and she said, "Because I've bought 80%
of what's there and I'm planning on taking it with me"-not to
take it away from the students, but she's promised it to a
student who is graduating from a faculty of ed this year and is
going to take it to another school.
We often thought of putting
out a survey to our members to say, "What do you actually own
that's in that classroom?" Most of them would say, "I'd leave
it." I know they would say that, because it's the needs of the
students. But a good percentage of what is there actually has
been purchased by teachers.
The last-minute dash to
provide these materials has not been successful. Many classrooms
still do not have the materials required to implement the new
Our teachers are reporting
having spent up to 100 hours of their own time to prepare one
class set of report cards. They do this three times a year. We
have surveyed our members the last two years and their comments
on reporting are very harsh and directed as to the amount of
time spent on
reporting. For at least two weeks each term reporting takes over
a teacher's life. I must admit I am fortunate in that I don't
have to do them right now, but I have to listen to my wife, who
is doing them for two weeks. She likes doing report cards; it's
just so demanding with the electronic version. With additional
time each night, it really takes away from people's families.
Classroom preparation and
marking during the time when reports are being done is severely
limited. Inadequate training-and these are the comments we hear
back from teachers-short time lines, lack of access to computers,
difficulties with software that has not been properly field
tested, and constantly changing expectations are not acceptable.
That's probably one of the most frustrating calls I get in that
everybody knows you do reporting. That's a very important part of
your job and parents expect it. We used to look forward to it.
It's just that it's changing so rapidly that it's become a great
Just a couple of short
comments on fundraising. It has always been a part of school
life. However, over the past few years I know it has changed.
It's changed quite dramatically. Schools must now fundraise for
essentials: supplies, textbooks, field trips, sports and
playground equipment. In the past, fundraising enhanced the
program. The focus now is on the basic needs and requirements of
the child. Now the funds go more directly to the classroom and
subsidize the necessary resources. In less affluent communities,
access to these essentials is less likely to occur.
Staff morale-and I will tie
it to a budget presentation. The EIC report specifically
recognized, and I think accurately recognized, the low morale of
elementary teachers and staff in general in Upper Canada. The
obvious causes are the increased workload and the fast-paced
change in education. However, that's only part of the problem.
Our members are deeply affected by the lack of recognition of the
value of elementary students and themselves. The funding formula
says clearly, and has for a long time, that an elementary student
is worth less than a secondary student. When the nine years of
new curricula were introduced without appropriate resources and
support, elementary teachers were not provided with similar
training to that which the Minister of Education ensured for one
year of secondary curriculum change. A period of stabilization is
really essential. Teachers can cope with change, they always
have, but they need the resources to support that curriculum
They need the financial
support for adequate professional development. They need to be
reminded that the focus is on children, not on testing. They do
not believe in teacher testing for the sake of accountability.
There already are, in Upper Canada, effective models for
evaluating teachers. Soon we will have one consistent
supervision-for-growth policy. Teachers do not want to see
further ministry money wasted in this area. Put those funds
earmarked for testing back into the classroom where they will
Two other issues also lead,
I believe in Upper Canada and maybe around the province, to a low
level of morale. First, with reduced funding over the last few
years we've evolved, here and maybe in other boards, to
school-based occasional teacher budgets. That pot, that envelope
that goes to the schools, is inadequate.
Teachers come to school
sick because there is no money to replace them. Unintentionally,
they are made to feel guilty by their administrators and their
colleagues who are forced to cover their classes internally.
Teachers of French, special education and library are often not
replaced. The impression left with students, teachers and parents
in these programs is that they are not as important. That's not
If a school's budget goes
into the red, the deficit is taken from the next year's budget.
Children are impacted by those kinds of decisions.
Elementary teachers need to
see a real salary gain in their next round of negotiations. This
acknowledgment of an increased compensation package is long
overdue and in keeping with the improved economic climate. Boards
recognize this need; they just don't have the funds to do it.
We, as elementary teachers
in Upper Canada, are committed to quality education that fosters
lifelong learning for all. All children are equal and have the
right to reach their highest potential. That's our professional
responsibility and the reason that we're all in the profession.
These beliefs and this vision are framed by what we really want
to accomplish and by what the ministry expects of us in the way
of curriculum. To achieve this, we must handle a complex variety
of challenges and deal with an endless number of restraints.
Education is a shared responsibility, but the individual
classroom teacher, who after the parent is the most crucial
person in a child's pursuit of learning, has very little say in
providing the resources and support that are necessary to
The government wants us to
be proud of our education system; so too do the elementary
teachers here in Upper Canada.
I would just conclude with
a number of recommendations. Some you probably have seen before
as you move around the province, but I just want to reiterate
We would like to see
increased funding to reduce elementary class sizes, particularly
in primary grades; real caps placed on elementary class sizes so
we don't have 36 or 37 in certain rooms; the formula for funding
elementary pupil spaces increased; preparation time for
elementary teachers funded at a rate no lower than the 200-minute
standard set out in Bill 160; the funding formula fully recognize
increases in inflation and enrolment; the right to levy taxes for
local education restored, and if it can't be-and I understand how
that's a fundamental change-at least some funding given for
program factors to address particular community needs; the
ministry increase the funding targeted specifically for
professional development to help elementary teachers implement
the new curriculum and report cards; and, I think one of the most
important, special education funding restructured and the grants
I end there. Thank you for the opportunity. I
certainly look forward to any questions or comments you may
We have a very short time but we'll go for a minute for each
Christopherson: Thank you very much for your
presentation. Again, it offers up a view very much different from
that of my right-wing poster boy of the day, Mr Bickerton, who
thinks everything is wonderful because the bottom line numbers
There are so many key
issues you have raised. Let me tell you, I represent Hamilton
West, and all the issues you've raised here save and except the
geography are exactly the same as we have.
You did mention that
special education is of particular concern. You state, "Programs
for these students with special needs are dangerously
underfunded." Very strong words for an educated person. Obviously
you had reason to choose that particular word. Could you tell me
why you used the word "dangerously" in relation to special needs
and the lack of funding?
Once more, I'm not that far removed from the classroom, even
though I've done this job for a while. I do have, as I said, a
spouse in the education field and I hear from colleagues all the
Special ed has got to be a
priority. The impression in teachers-and there's not just some
pressure. There's a feeling and even a message we hear that we've
got to prioritize who we deal with. We know we should deal with
all, and I know that's next to impossible sometimes, but there
are so many needy students out there. Teachers will go to
regional meetings of special-ed resource teachers and will only
be allowed to bring forward, say, two names from your school. You
may have 10 who need it, but to prioritize it, it's not right.
It's a fact of life based on what we can allocate to them, but
it's something we're going to pay the price for down the road. If
we don't deal with these students now, somewhere we're going to
have to deal with them within the system.
Christopherson: Thank you for your presentation and for
Thank you very much for your presentation. I want to compliment
you on the tone of your presentation. Although you have a number
of issues that you want to bring forward, and we appreciate
hearing those, your tone has been very positive.
Like you, my wife is a
teacher, so I think I have some understanding of the dedication
and professionalism of the vast majority of teachers.
I want to ask you about one
point that you made about the fact that in the Upper Canada board
you say there are "effective models for evaluating teachers."
That perhaps could be a model upon which we could have a
province-wide policy. I wonder if, in the minute you have, you
could explain to me how it's done in this board, how you do
I don't sit on that committee, but I know they met again
yesterday afternoon. Obviously we had four former evaluation
policies and it was "Supervision for Growth"-the same name there.
It may come out as a different name once they finally get it in
print, but it was a model that I would say tracked teachers. It
was a model with supervision. There was a cyclical part to it. At
least in the former Leeds and Grenville, we would have done it a
maximum of every four years.
But we acknowledge
difficulties there. I'm not hiding that. I get those kinds of
calls. If there's difficulty with a teacher or a concern with a
teacher-supervision means let's help that person-those would get
acknowledged. Those wouldn't get pushed on till four years down
the road. Those would come up. Everybody had the right to access
that kind of procedure and we'd deal with it. I think it was a
good way of keeping track of what teachers were doing. The
relationship was ongoing and positive. As I say, I deal with-not
many, but I do deal with those teachers, and even if the
principal in the school is having some difficulty maybe finding
assistants, we can do that through our own organization.
I'm quite happy to forward
it to you too, but I think there are models out there that will
identify the great quality teachers we have, but also-and I'm
going to say it-weed out the ones perhaps we don't. I think we've
always done that.
Gerretsen: Congratulations on an excellent presentation.
I'd like to get back to the special education funding. We've
heard in the House time after time from the minister that in
effect the same amount of resources, if not more so, is being put
into this area as was happening before. Can you tell me from a
practical viewpoint how it is affecting your teachers and the
students in particular? How many students are being left off the
special education funding list who were there before who had some
special education assistants and now no longer have them?
You hit the right word, "students." Even though I represent
teachers, that's what we're all here for. I can't give you that
number. I could make an approximate guess. I think the feeling
with teachers and people at the college, working right in the
classrooms, is that there's a great demand, I believe a greater
demand, for special-needs students. I think that's got to do with
society and how it's evolved too. Some of the problems weren't
the same 20 years ago. We've got to recognize that.
But the thing is that all
professionals, but teachers in this case, want to help everybody
and you have to draw a line. I understand they aren't all at the
same level, but there seems to be more severe difficulties at
this time and not the opportunity to address those. The grant
structure-and I won't deny it-within Upper Canada has provided us
with EAs to help the students, non-teaching people to help the
students. And our numbers aren't down; I will tell you that right
up front. They aren't up, but they certainly haven't gone down
The problem with the
funding model there is, because of the quite complex way of
getting the grants, we often don't hear the actual answer till
well into the summer. You don't even know who you're working
with, an EA, to help
your identified student until right when you walk in the first
day or the day before. The need is increasing. I think it's just
the frustration of not knowing that you can address all those
needs, and I think split grading makes it more complex.
Gerretsen: It's unfortunate that the board isn't here to
make a presentation as well, because those would be the kinds of
questions that we'd be able to ask them.
You make a very good observation.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Thank you. I hope you all have a safe trip out of Brockville.
Before we break, I'm told that the mayor of Gananoque is going to
try to make the empty space we have at 1 o'clock, so if we could
reconvene and see if she can make it by 1 o'clock, we'll adjourn
until 1 o'clock.
The committee recessed
from 1205 to 1322.
MUNICIPALITY OF GANANOQUE
If I can get your attention, we'll bring the meeting back to
order. I know some of the members are not here, but due to the
situation we're facing I think I'll invite the mayor for the
municipality of Gananoque to start her presentation.
For the record, could you
please identify yourself.
Fletcher-Thomas: I'm Mayor Sylvia Fletcher-Thomas, town
Go ahead. We'll let you make your presentation and then we'll
decide how many minutes we have for questioning or statements
Fletcher-Thomas: I will try and make it brief. First, I
have to say that I really appreciate this opportunity. I feel
quite honoured and pleased that there are so many taking their
time, so much interest in wanting input from the municipalities
for the budget. That's why, in spite of the weather, I really
wanted to make it. I do apologize for being late, for the second
time, even. But I'm not a good winter driver any more and I
I don't have any
revelations, so I won't take too long. I asked in the community
when I had an opportunity to get input from people, and at least
in the Gananoque area, infrastructure and health services and
that type of thing-everybody says infrastructure and health care
were the two top issues.
With the infrastructure,
just a couple of comments. I have been to see ministers before,
and Gananoque's just an example where the connecting link in some
cases was brought up to provincial standards and in other cases
it wasn't, with some money in lieu. In the community of
Gananoque-and there are others-the King Street bridge connected
the only route from Toronto to Montreal. That bridge was built in
1930, and the 401 didn't open until 1967. So I just feel that I
and the community would like to see monies put back into
infrastructure to bring things up to provincial standards, and
then the municipalities take that over. That is
With infrastructure, I'd
like to maybe suggest a stipulation. I know that before with
infrastructure a lot of it was put into new things. I think we
have to take care of what we have first, so we need to work on
the infrastructure as far as roads go but also sewage separation.
With storm water there's a lot of filtration, which causes
charges by the Ministry of the Environment. In our municipality,
we have done it on our own and owe money, but there still are
problems. We do need to bring those things up. Rather than hurt
the environment, we're better to put monies into getting sewage
standards up to par. Again, I think there should be a stipulation
that we should bring the old up to standard as far as
With recreation as well,
which is a very important part of our lives, but especially with
younger people-I know in one councillor's course I took, they
mentioned in Texas they'd opened a recreation thing all night
long for basketball and everything and the crime rate went down.
They are the things I hope will be considered: the
infrastructure, maybe money towards landfill sites, because a lot
of them have closed down but not properly, and there will be more
being closed down; maybe put a focus for municipalities that they
really do need to plan ahead for that as well.
Land ambulance: As I said,
we'd really like to consider and really appreciate what the
province has done in taking some back, but I know the big concern
of employees and staff is that they still don't have that much of
a say in things like social services, land ambulance and health
services and would really like to see that considered. I know our
social services costs have gone up. I'm not being critical; I
appreciate the changes and know that we need to change more
within, actually. But at the social service end of things, now
they're talking about a call centre. It was questioned, "Would
that eliminate some staff to alleviate things?" They said, "No,
it means additional staff." I do think those things are funded
better provincially than at the municipal level and would just
request that that might be considered.
Restructuring: We'd like to
consider monies again that could be put into the budget for
people like ourselves that haven't restructured yet. I know it
has to take place. Unfortunately or fortunately, we're in a
unique situation, with a county where there are three separated
municipalities. It's not the norm across the province. There are
only four separated towns in Ontario, and two of them are in
Leeds and Grenville.
So there has been a lot of
stumbling, territorial and everything else, but it's really
difficult to sort things out between county and our
responsibilities and not having a say, or as much say, for the
dollars as we feel we should. We'd really like to see if some
funding could still be provided to help restructure. We're doing
restructuring within, and a lot of the municipality's money is
going to consultants and lawyers and retraining staff. Not that
change wasn't necessary, but it does add a burden. I'm one who
would rather put it into sidewalks, roads and sewers. If we could
try to come up with even some standardization from the province or access to
provincial lawyers on some of the issues, something that might be
considered to save the municipality some money and maybe have
more standards there.
We really appreciate what
the province did with the municipal liabilities, but wish that we
could have a few more changes there because the money that saves
in insurance alone is quite valuable.
Policing is the one
thing-and I'll try to be really quick here; sorry. I know with
crime, the CPP grant has been wonderful and appreciated. The
additional funding for front-line officers has really been needed
and appreciated. Extending the RIDE program and the OMERS holiday
have been good, but something that municipalities have done and
are still doing with the cost impacts of standardization-the
subsidized policing is still going on in areas previously policed
by the OPP. They are still enjoying the subsidy, where
municipalities have paid their way all along. So we'd like some
consideration, or dollars possibly, to have some extra municipal
funding for the costs as far as standardization. The
standardization criteria are necessary, and we know that, but it
means for us either a new building or extensive renovations to a
building or some form of amalgamation. We've been trying to look
at that with cost savings, but we would like the province to take
into consideration that we've been paying our full bill the whole
way along and would like some consideration in that area.
Also, and I don't know
whether the province would ever consider this, a provincial cap
on union demands. It is difficult for a small municipality, or
any municipality, I would say-the unions have more money than
municipalities, so even if there was a cap on when you're
negotiating, when things go back, it can only go back so many
years, because a lot of the things can really break
municipalities. Even when we talked about amalgamating with the
OPP service, the cost of payout is quite a bit. So if any
consideration could be taken along those lines, we'd appreciate
Then there's economic
development and tourism. We appreciate that the province has
recognized that and would like that to continue, tourism being a
big industry at this point, but all industry and high-tech. We
just want that to stay considerations of the province.
I know that one of the
clerk's things is the capping. She understands it more than I do.
I don't even want to pretend, with all her changes, but the
capping of municipal taxation on certain properties should be
reconsidered. The current value assessments were put in place and
tax bills issued in 1998. Taxpayers accepted it. Now they're
upset because of the capping and implications it has on their
operations. I just wonder if it would be worthwhile to get a
notice out to clerks or to the tax collectors just for their
input on that when you're being good enough to listen.
I think that's it.
Thank you very much. I will give each caucus two minutes for
questions, and I'll start with the government side.
Thank you for making it. I know it's been a bit of a trial for
you getting here. Just a couple of quick comments and then I want
to get to the provincial cap on union demands. That's a new
approach to a new suggestion.
You started out by saying
your priorities were infrastructure and health care. We've been
hearing a lot about education, all from teachers' unions. We have
three coming up this afternoon and we had one this morning. At
each stop we're hearing a couple. We've yet to hear from a group
of trustees or any school board and there are none scheduled to
speak to us. I'm curious, you haven't mentioned education in
here. Where would that be in your priorities?
Fletcher-Thomas: Education is here. I really skipped
over things. A lot of people seem quite happy-the people in our
area-with education and some of the changes. But it is important
and I feel-I hate to say "I" when I'm representing the
Fletcher-Thomas: We feel that some programs with
education are really improving and there should be more money put
into it. They just started a hospitality program in GSS,
Gananoque Secondary School, training people for jobs and that
type of thing. Something that I always wondered about with
education is that I think the province should look at putting
money into a simple course in CPR and retraining every year; the
number of lives that could be saved, that type of thing. But
education is at the top of the list.
If I could just quickly get to my other one, and that has to do
with capping union demands. Some people would suggest it's been
union demands and settlements that have driven inflation in the
past. How would you go about that? How would it happen? It's a
tremendous idea. How would it work?
Fletcher-Thomas: Do you know what I say to people? I
always say-and I try to do this myself; I was on holidays so I
was a bit behind with this when I got back-"When you have a
problem, come with a solution." What I'd like to do is think a
little longer than that. I was trying to think of things that are
problems for our municipalities, for the province. My father said
years ago that unions were a necessary evil, and they were, but
now the demands are so high that I'm not sure how to do the
capping. I'd like to give it a little bit of thought and get back
to you if I could.
I'm sure Mr Christopherson will explore that a little further
With that, Mr Galt's time has expired.
Gerretsen: It's always nice to hear from a mayor of a
municipality, because after all you are the persons and councils
that are the closest to the people and know about their problems
a lot more, particularly from a place like Gananoque which is one
of the tourist meccas in Ontario. I'm sure you will agree with me
that we'd like to invite all of the committee members and staff
people to come back to Gananoque this summer and enjoy the heart
of the Thousand Islands.
The one issue that I feel very strongly about is
the infrastructure issue. You mentioned the King Street bridge.
For those members who aren't familiar with it, it's part of the
original Highway 2. The bridge has never been replaced since
With the downloading of all
the road systems outside of the 400 highways to the local level,
the major concern that I have is that perhaps a lot of these
roads are in good shape right now but what's going to happen five
or 10 years from now when they deteriorate, when they not only
will have to be maintained but will have to be rebuilt. Do you
think smaller municipalities like yours will have the financial
ability in those days coming up to do those kinds of major
infrastructure repairs, since a lot of the grants and subsidy
programs that governments have come up with over the last 40 or
50 years were precisely done because municipalities didn't have
the financial ability to do that? Do you have any comments as to
what's going to happen to your road system in the future?
Fletcher-Thomas: I am concerned. That's why I am, and we
are, very concerned. I do feel that the connecting link
especially-it was brought up to standard in many areas, but
wasn't totally across the province, Gananoque being one of them.
I do feel that to have that capability, we need to get them up to
standard and plan ahead, something that we and a lot of councils
do. That's where there have to be restrictions and guidelines
too; just get through the three years and don't plan ahead or put
in the infrastructure either. So I feel there has to be a
directive from the province as far as planning goes, but I feel
that we need funding in those areas.
Christopherson: Thank you for that presentation. I'm
glad you were able to get through, Your Worship.
I want to tie a couple of
the issues together. I know my friend Mr Galt likes to isolate
his favourite little hobby horses and ride them to death but most
things are linked together.
You talked about the costs
as a result of changes of consultants, lawyers, downloading, and
then you threw into the mix the idea of the capping of union
demands. Having been a former alderman myself and a former
minister, I've been on the other side of the table and I know
what it's like to face demands that you have a great deal of
difficulty seeing your way clear to be able to meet, whether you
agree with them or not. I just wanted to get a sense from you
whether you were concerned that the wages and benefits that you
are paying your employees, who are actually your neighbours and
friends and family, are too great in terms of that they want too
much for what they do, or whether what was driving you making
that recommendation was trying to deal with all the fiscal
demands and just not having enough money and finding more and
more demands on you as a result of downloading.
Fletcher-Thomas: Well, it's dealing with all the fiscal
demands. As far as paying and everything and benefits, I think
what's happened in the past is-and I would say everywhere, and
that's where I feel we need provincial help maybe. We negotiate
contracts. You're elected; no training. You go in and negotiate.
Things have been in little pieces of wording, because no one
wants to spend the money on expertise that could have saved
municipalities a lot of money. The things that have been written
in really weren't given the thought, or it's just the lack of
background or knowledge, really, on what goes on. I just think we
either need some guidance or help or, again, guidelines to get
things get levelled out a bit.
I'm not saying unions are
bad, but the thing is, every year you sit down, and half your
council time-and we're volunteers, really-is taken with
negotiation. Everybody wants more. I do think that with
negotiations that go back where contracts have been lapsed for
years because you can't get together, and then you have to go
back and pay three to five years, even if there was capping
on-municipalities only have to go back two years or three
Christopherson: The problem with that, of course, is
that it would be to the advantage of a council to drag their
heels and let a lot of time go by, and then they wouldn't have to
pay it. I'm sure you're not out to screw your employees.
Fletcher-Thomas: No, no. It's just that a lot of times
municipalities get into situations they can't really afford
because of, myself included, lack of knowledge when you're doing
those things. Then you look at wording after and-
Christopherson: Thank you very much for coming today,
With that, we're running out of time. Your Worship, on behalf of
the committee, thank you very much for your presentation this
afternoon. Sorry that it had to be abbreviated. However, we do
have a train to catch later on tonight.
Fletcher-Thomas: That's my fault. I appreciate it.
ONTARIO SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' FEDERATION,
DISTRICTS 26 AND 27, TEACHER BARGAINING UNIT
Our next presenters are representatives from the OSSTF teacher
bargaining unit. Could you step forward and state your names for
the record, please.
McGillis: Members of the committee, my name is Greg
McGillis. I'm president of the teacher bargaining unit of OSSTF
district 26. That's Upper Canada. That's that large section of
most of eastern Ontario other than Ottawa. My colleague here is
from the other part of eastern Ontario that's nearby. This is
Joan Jardin. She's the president of the teacher bargaining unit
from OSSTF district 27. We're here to present some of our
concerns and what we think are some solutions.
A point well taken: The
lady before, Her Worship, mentioned that if you have a problem,
present a solution. We're here to talk about some solutions today,
and we appreciate you giving us the time.
You have 30 minutes for your presentation.
McGillis: Before I even get into the written text-and we
won't be reading the entire amount-I'd like to point out that in
many ways education fits the bill in a lot of what the mayor from
Ganonoque was talking about and a lot of what we're all talking
about in terms of safety. It's infrastructure, it's quality of
life, it's the way we think about our society, and it's a way
that we ensure that the values and the purposes of our
civilization continue. Really, when we think about education and
as we're presenting today, I would ask the committee members to
think in terms of-perhaps you're not currently parents; perhaps
you're grandparents or whatever, some other form of parenthood.
Perhaps you could think in terms of all those children being your
children. Every day, we see opportunities and difficulties that
teachers encounter, and those difficulties invariably involve the
difficulties of children and of teenagers. There is no
underestimating how important those difficulties are, and I am
going to talk about some of those in my presentation, and so will
I just happened to visit an
interesting newsgroup on teachers and schools where someone had
posted a written cry of agony in the form of an article from a
teacher and writer in Mississippi to other teachers in the same
state. I have attached the article. The writer and teacher
chronicles the decline in Mississippi of the teaching profession
and of schools from years of cutbacks and neglect. Perhaps you
will say that there is little that is reasoned or even thoughtful
in her argument. It appears to be a cry in the wilderness, a cry
for help, a cry that has gone unanswered for too many years to
And yet there is hope to be
found in this article in the person of the new governor. A
political solution, potentially, can offer an educational
The hope is most assuredly
not that the teachers in Mississippi will speak out for
themselves, for the children or for the community. They have had
to abandon that very important role that educators play in the
formation of education policy. Mississippi remains mired at the
bottom of almost every ranking of education finance and also at
the bottom of almost every ranking of productivity and
post-secondary education in North America, and indeed in the
world. As almost every American state has reinvested massive
amounts in education, even as the American federal government has
reinvested in education, the decline of between 10 and 100 years
of neglect in that state, in many of those jurisdictions and also
elsewhere in the United States, seems irreversible.
Would it surprise you to
find that Mississippi, with its long tradition of poverty and
ignorance, ranks 51st out of 63 jurisdictions in North America,
while Ontario, in per pupil expenditure, ranks 55th?
You have before you the
future. The rich can get richer and the poor, poorer. The wheel
of poverty can grind the bones of the unfortunate as it has in
many places in many times. We can starve the teaching profession
for the money needed to hire the best and the brightest-yes, why
not the best and the brightest?-and feel the rising brain drain
where it hurts: in the classroom and the schools. Or we can
realize the inadequacies of the funding model, of the education
taxation system and of the command economy that education is
There has been a real
effect on the children in our classes of more than $1 billion in
cuts. I say "more than $1 billion" rather than "$1.7 billion"
because even the most optimistic observers can agree that more
than $l billion has been cut from the education system in
constant dollars during the first mandate of the government. As
the American Senate armed services committee chair once remarked
to the general, "Sir, a billion here and a billion there, and
pretty soon we're talking real money."
In Ontario we can only
count the recently restored money in the millions. We do
appreciate that and I want to mention that. Thirty million
dollars that's been "defrosted"-that's been the word that's been
thrown around-related to special ed and $40 million for ISA. It's
not enough, but I think it's a symbol and perhaps a kind of hope
to the people who are working every day and to the children who
learn in our schools.
We have a golden
opportunity before us. At no time in the last 50 years of
education has money been so critically short in our education
system. At no time have we been in a better position to correct
that dire shortage. At no time is education more important in
Ontario than it is right now.
I'll ask Joan to
Jardin: I'm just going to continue on what Greg was
saying, especially at the beginning about the importance of
education. If you were to ever measure the wealth of a
population, the wealth of a population is not just money. Are the
people educated? Are the people healthy? Do you have a safe
society? Education is paramount in all three of those to ensure
that we have a very wealthy society, where you have educated,
healthy individuals and, of course, safe streets. We contribute
to help education and certainly we're the ones to promote
discipline, self-discipline and respect for others.
I'm going to vary a little
bit from the text that follows in that I've heard it and I've
even seen it written that we want to put kids first.
Unfortunately, whenever I see that or hear that, often it's
followed by cuts to programs for kids. I think it's really
important that we actually follow through. It's not just
something you write down, but it's something that actually will
pay off in the future.
Unfortunately, since I've
been president, I've attended a rally about child poverty in
Kingston, where child poverty has actually been increasing
despite the motion-I know it's not in your House-in Parliament 10
years ago to eliminate child poverty. I was at a rally about
rising tuitions for universities. That has great implications for
our students and for the future of our province, the future of
expectations and hopes of young people.
All this relates to underfunding-induced
inefficiencies. Things are underfunded, but in the long run it
really does catch up and they really will have long-term
difficulties. Talk about ESL. Talk about junior kindergarten.
That's where it starts. Certainly adult education is at the other
What we're asking for you
to do is to ensure that our students have hope in the future,
that they are supported with services such as ESL, starting with
junior kindergarten and going up to adult education.
Another point: With these
underfunding inefficiencies-I've listed quite a few there. Please
note that the previous speaker had said that people are happy
with the cuts to education. I want you to know that the education
workers that have absorbed the cuts for over eight years have
managed to try to do their best. We're at the edge. We're at the
breaking point, because not only do we have to absorb our own
cuts but we have to absorb the cuts that have been made to
society, to social programs. I speak from Kingston-there are at
least eight penal institutions in the Limestone area-and there's
quite a lot of need for social assistance and support for
families. We've absorbed that also, and we're doing our very
best, but we're asking for some support and forward planning.
McGillis: Among the inefficiencies that we've seen, some
of them have been catalogued by the people like the EIC, even by
our own boards. A lot of the documents that I've used in creating
this submission to this committee have been public documents,
sometimes created by the boards themselves. In one case here I
quote the EIC, which clearly is concerned about issues related to
transportation, and mentions the issue of student support staff
and the increased workloads. In this area of eastern Ontario,
we're looking at workloads for social workers, for psychologists
and psychometrists which are, depending on the profession,
between four and 10 times what we're seeing in the rest of the
province. It's partly these inequities in the funding model that
are driving these kinds of problems. The fact of the matter is,
if it's not in the funding model, you have to find money for it.
It's all well and good to say, "We're only going to fund this and
you'd better find some other way to fund it." The reality is, if
you have no power for taxation, if you have no other source of
income, you're going to have difficulty funding those kinds of
levels of service.
One of the things that's
happened in our board, to a great extent, has been that teachers
and professionals have been encouraged not to identify students.
There are students out there today with those needs who are not
being identified simply because what's driving it is the fact
that there is simply no money in the pot.
I can speak from
experience. It's in my submission here, but I will speak from the
heart to you, about a young man I met the other day, driving a
truck down the main street in Kemptville. He had been severely
physically, sexually and mentally abused over a period of 10
years. His entire life was some sort of hell. He lived in a barn.
When they finally found him, they changed schools, changed
families, did everything they possibly could. It was a very long
road back for that young man. It took every teacher in that
little school to get him ready to rejoin society. It took teams
of professionals to get him ready to possibly rejoin people and
to start to think about having friends. He's married now and he
has a family. He has a very good-paying job, and his story would
not be possible today. I want to leave you with that at the very
We have several
recommendations. It's not just in special ed; it's in other
areas. You can say that education has to focus on the academic.
Too often, schools do focus on the academic and put a high price
on it. That's our main focus. But in fact a key part of learning
and a key part of teaching is understanding the whole child and
understanding that as teachers we learn and as learners we teach.
I really invite you to visit some of those schools.
I saw the mayor of
Gananoque here. I come back to this: Gananoque Secondary School,
which was referred to, has some very severe problems right now.
That community's in great turmoil. I'm surprised the mayor didn't
mention it. That school currently has a severe health and safety
crisis which is certainly out of control in every respect, mostly
due to funding cutbacks causing the deterioration of the physical
plant in that school. Many of the students are saying they don't
feel safe or healthy in that school any more, and we've had to
transfer teachers out. Those people are called susceptible
workers. If you're familiar with the terminology, you understand
that they're like the canaries in the mines. They're telling us,
"It's not healthy here." That's the kind of problem we have.
These are very serious problems. It's only the beginning of
what's going to happen.
We can sound the alarm now.
We can say the level of morale of the teaching profession has
sunk to a point that's really beyond what is sustainable, but
until you really sit down and examine what's happening and look
and try to project for the future, you can't realize that in the
end you're talking about the people who at the end of the day
have to be extremely motivated, no matter what, to try to find a
way to reach those students day in and day out.
I'd like to encourage the
committee to consider some of those issues, look at the
submission that we have here and ask any questions. We're
certainly interested. I'll also defer to my colleague Joan to
Just continuing on with the unique aspects of both the Limestone
and the Upper Canada boards, certainly the rural, remote schools,
the small schools, it cannot be over-expressed how difficult it
is thinking about students on buses for even longer periods of
time than they are now. We must ensure that the smaller schools
can remain open for the kids.
The mayor of Gananoque is
very happy about the hospitality program. The Limestone board has
been having what they call focus programs for almost 10 years now
and they are wonderful programs. I spoke to the hearings on Bill
160 about how if you don't allow local determination-actually, I put it in a
more positive way: "Please allow local determination, local
choices and ability to raise local taxes because there are unique
things that happen in each board." Our focus programs are
excellent. They are being repeated and followed in other boards,
as witnessed today. They need the money in order to pay for those
because it does involve increased costs, because quality does
often cost. So what it means is transportation, but what it also
means is a priority in excellence in education. That's what our
local boards want to be able to do. So we recommend that school
boards should have taxation power to ensure that inequities in
the funding model can be dealt with locally by those familiar
with the needs of the community and the students.
Our focus programs are in
trouble. Unfortunately, our board is looking at any other way to
fund it, but it's a public responsibility. Those are very good
programs. We all benefit, in particular the students.
McGillis: Just one last thing before taking some
questions: We'll read through the recommendations for the record,
but I also want to mention that there was a mention of the fact
that no trustees or school boards were presenting today. In fact,
we had spoken extensively with the trustees and the director of
education about presenting today. I must admit it's my failing
and my responsibility that we were not able to get a joint
submission together in time. The director expressed a keen
interest to prepare a joint submission and was encouraging us to
write it. He would simply review it and discuss the contents and
we would make that joint submission.
We also had several phone
calls from parent councils that wanted to participate in our
presentation. Unfortunately, to begin with, the word seemed to
get out that we were making this presentation. Teachers were
talking about it. I asked teachers to submit. A lot of our brief
is written from what teachers have submitted and from our own
personal experiences. So there is a broader education stakeholder
group out there that we have been in communication with, that
certainly could have been represented in this brief, that is not
very far from what we've said here. I don't want to misrepresent
that this is what they're saying, but some of these people were
calling me as late as this morning to see if there was some way
we could have arranged to make a joint presentation. That is our
fault, but nevertheless, it's not for lack of trying. I think
they expected that we were going to do that. So you should know
Thank you very much. We have four minutes per caucus. I'll start
with Mr Gerretsen.
Mr Monte Kwinter
(York Centre): Did you not say you were going to make
We're going to wrap up by reading the recommendations.
We've mentioned the first
one: School boards should have taxation power to ensure that
inequities in the funding model can be dealt with locally by
those familiar with the needs of the community and the
Recommendation 2: The
foundation grant should be increased to ensure quality education
for all students, including those at risk who may not have been
identified as worthy of ISA grants.
Recommendation 3: That the
qualifications and experience and benefit lines be adjusted so as
to reflect the changing demographics of many boards and to allow
for reasonable compensation increases for teachers and other
Recommendation 4: The
targeted increases in areas like department heads, support
services, adult education, ESL, guidance, preparation time and
library be used to ensure that students are given the support
they need to become contributing members of society to whatever
extent they are capable.
I want to assure you that
we know taxes are used, we know every day that they're used
wisely and we promise that they are every single day, and we do
our very best. Our taxes do pay for very important programs and
quality public education is, I believe, one of the very most
Gerretsen: Thank you very much. Congratulations on an
excellent presentation. I'd just like to follow up on something
that Ms Jardin mentioned and that deals with the focus program
situation. I'm personally familiar with one of those programs,
the building intern program that Don Voteary and other people in
the Limestone board started about 10 years ago. I believe that
they've finished building 34 houses and are now involved-from a
meeting that I attended on Saturday-in the historic restoration
of houses as well.
I think the committee ought
to know that these are two teachers who got together mainly boys,
but also girls, who were 15, 16 and 17 years old. They started
this about 10 years ago for kids who otherwise undoubtedly would
have dropped out of the system. I know what I'm talking about
because my son was involved in building the very first house some
10 years ago. What these two individuals, with some extra
funding, were able to accomplish and how they turned these
individuals around on an ongoing basis over the last 10 years-to
bring young people back into the education system and to teach
them the different techniques and trades in the building area
that they will benefit from for the rest of their lives-is
I really believe, and I'd
just like your comments, that one of the problems that we've
always had is that we have a tendency to look at education in a
very narrow scope. We have to realize that there are people out
there who don't learn by the traditional methods, and it's
programs like that, which need some extra push and help from the
community and from the system through resources, that really make
it happen. Do you have any comments on that at all?
I've been very closely linked with the focus programs. At the
school at which I taught for 12 years that was, I'll say, the hub
of most of the focus programs. The comment is that I agree with
you. They are wonderful for the students. They address a need for
the students. They incorporate the community. They give them vital learning and living
skills, and actually they also help the teachers and they help
the community of the school.
As I did say in Bill 160,
they were going to be under fire, and some excellent programs
have had to stop or have been cut back. I think that is a wrong
use of money if these wonderful programs are not being supported,
such as the masonry program. I can go over other lists. We have
done our very best to support them and we work to make huge
concessions in other ways in order to maintain those programs.
Unfortunately, as I said, we're at the breaking point.
Christopherson: Thank you, Greg and Joan. I appreciated
and enjoyed your presentation. You talked early in your comments
about child poverty. I've noticed, with very few exceptions, that
members of the government side don't address the issue of
poverty. Their answer seems to be that it's complicated, the feds
have to be involved, and beyond that, I get a sense that they
wish it would just go away.
We have once again the
government version of how wonderful everything is, that things
are just terrific, couldn't be better. We have stats that now
show us that there are more people who have slid from middle
class into poverty, and those who are in poverty are in deeper
poverty. That's the statistical. So you get the political and the
statistical. Can you just share for us what your experience has
been, and that of your colleagues, in terms of what you see in
terms of changes of socio-economic levels of children and
families now as opposed to earlier in your careers?
McGillis: Perhaps I'll start and Joan can finish. I
taught in a small school in eastern Ontario. I won't identify it
because I don't want to say anything negative about it. But the
key was that it was a difficult-to-serve population. It was a
very small school with a high degree of rural element and a
significant amount of poverty and a lot of other social
I only became a teacher in
1990. I'm fresh off the boat, or fresh off whatever you get off
to become a teacher, and Joan is relatively-very, very fresh,
McGillis: She's a little more experienced than I am.
Christopherson: I think you should just get off it, man,
and move on.
McGillis: Thank you, Mr Galt, I will.
There is no question, there
has been a significant effect. The problem is the combination of
the fact that we're seeing-and it's strange, the statistics don't
seem to bear it out. I hear government statistics and they seem
credible and yet I see rising amounts of social unrest,
difficulty within families and real problems with families who
have been on some form of social assistance, on employment
insurance, whatever government program.
I'm not pointing the finger
at any particular government, but it has been a problem
throughout the education system. At the very moment when the
crunch has come from one side in terms of the schools' ability to
actually meet those problems, the crunch has come from the other
side in terms that the need has probably quadrupled, really only
in the last four or five years, let alone over the last 10
Also, our society seems to
becoming more violent. I noticed that even over just seven or
eight years from when I started till just recently when I began
this job. I was really shocked by the degree of violence and the
need for special programs to combat that violence and the amount
of teacher time and professional time spent to try to deal with
the problem. There's no funding for that in the funding model.
There is really no resource out there for it and that's a serious
And it's certainly important not to become complacent because
generally crime statistics have gone down, but it's people's
ability to deal with all the cuts and the hurt that they feel
because of the cuts.
Just to answer that, I also
teach in an area which is relatively low socio-economically and
the cuts to welfare and to social assistance made huge
differences. I have mentioned this publicly, that we have a
food-sharing program and, unfortunately, every year they say 600
more meals are being delivered. It's not supposed to be a growth
program. I find it very disturbing that every year it's gone
We've absorbed the other
cuts to social programs etc. By the way, I can provide any of you
with the Kingston report on poverty. I apologize to the rest of
Upper Canada and Limestone, that it doesn't deal with all, but I
am quite sure it would be all very similar statistics.
Christopherson: I've had a copy of that given to me and
it's very similar to what happened in my hometown of
And so once again, it's just the idea of putting kids first. Are
we? We are obviously financially not putting kids first.
Christopherson: Thank you very much for your
Molinari: Thank you very much for your presentation. I
could make several comments, but with the short period of time I
want to leave some time for one of my colleagues.
Just one quick question: In
your recommendation 4, where you talk about targeted increases to
be used to ensure that students are given the support they need,
school boards are supposed to use the funds given to them to
provide the support they need directly to students. Could you
expand a little more on that, what your expectation of the
McGillis: One of the things that has happened is that
things look pretty good on paper sometimes, and I've seen this
myself. I have to set a budget as president and I've had to do
this recently. It's a daunting task in some ways and I admit that
it's a daunting task for the government as well.
Things look like they're
being used for one thing on paper and perhaps it isn't even
understood how those particular programs function in the context
that they are in, except by the people who are involved, and even
sometimes then. I think a good example was the elimination of department heads, the
almost complete elimination of departments heads from the
schools. It had been an old saw, you know: "It's something we
could cut." In fact, we would often go in and that was one of the
first places we were cutting way back at the beginning of the
social contract. We would say, "If there is some softness there,
we'll cut that; that's one of the things."
We have found, and it's
almost universal now among teachers, that there is a general
consensus that there is a crisis of leadership in the schools. Is
it a short-term issue? No. It's a long-term issue. Are students
getting the support from teachers in their learning that's
necessary? There's a bit of a gap from where the government
introduces legislation or guidelines and curriculum to where it
finally gets to the teacher. At every point there, there are
weaknesses in the system. One of the biggest weaknesses was the
withdrawal of department heads, and we didn't realize that, I
think because we hadn't really seen in the last three or four
years a lot of curriculum change all at once.
If you were going to do
something to improve the delivery of the government's curriculum
policies-and I'll applaud the government for that. Some of the
curriculum was excellent and people are very happy about it. It's
the implementation that's all gone to hell. Pardon me. I'm sorry;
it's unparliamentary, I'm sure.
Molinari: So you're looking for the government to take a
more leadership role in that issue rather than leaving the
responsibility up to the boards to make those kinds of
Unfortunately, the government hasn't allowed boards to do that
because they have actually provided funding and envelopes with
very specific allocations. It isn't: "Here, have a couple of
thousand dollars. Allocate as you want." The funding is
incredibly strict, it's targeted, and that's why we've listed it
here. I truly believe that our school board is doing its very
best, but it's the funding model that is fundamentally difficult
and flawed and underfunded the way it is done.
With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
thank you very much for your presentation this afternoon.
CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES,LOCAL
OTTAWA-CARLETON CHILD CARE ASSOCIATION
The next presenting group is CUPE local 2204. Could you please
come forward and state your name for the record, and on behalf of
the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your presentation
Bird: My name is Shellie Bird. I'm here today to
represent CUPE 2204 as well as the Ottawa-Carleton Child Care
Association. My co-presenter fell victim to the flu today so
she's not going to be here with me.
The Ottawa-Carleton Child
Care Association represents 50 non-profit child care agencies
which provide a variety of child care services to over 2,000
families. CUPE local 2204 represents over 200 early childhood
educators, cooks, cleaners and clerical staff employed in
non-profit child care centres in eastern Ontario.
I would like to thank you
for this opportunity to speak before the standing committee on
finance and economic affairs.
provincial minister responsible for children, made a statement
that child care and child development are separate and
unconnected. To impose this false separation between child care
and child development is harmful and counterproductive, and
ignores more than 20 years of research. All the research to date
demonstrates the critical link between positive early child
experiences and healthy development and later life outcomes. If
this government is to achieve its stated economic goal of
building a strong, vibrant, knowledge-based economy, it must
reconsider this artificial separation between child care and
child development. Investment in high-quality, non-profit early
learning and care services is the bedrock of the economic
objectives of this government.
Before I get started, I
think it's important to define exactly what I'm talking about
when I talk about high-quality child care and education. The key
indicators of high-quality learning and care include adequate
government funding and regulation, not-for-profit delivery,
adequate physical environments, high adult-to-child ratios, small
group size, parental involvement, consistent staffing with
specific training in early childhood development, and good wages
and working conditions.
Not-for-profit child care
ensures that public dollars remain in the public domain, where
parents, communities and local government can work together to
build a range of child care services to meet the diverse needs of
the community and to improve the quality of care.
Research shows that
not-for-profit child care has better staff-child ratios,
better-trained staff, higher salary levels, lower staff turnover
and higher staff morale, which supports a higher standard of
Research clearly indicates
trained and knowledgeable care providers as the central
ingredient of high-quality care. Knowledge of child development,
patience, respect for children, practical skills to meet their
learning needs and to guide their behaviour, together with a deep
appreciation of the knowledge that I bring to my work, lasts a
Let us look at the benefits
of high-quality care. The 1994 report of the National Forum on
Crime found that investment in high-quality child care reduces
high school dropout rates, youth crime, unemployment and
The 1995 Royal Commission
on Learning and the 1999 Statistics Canada Longitudinal Study on
Children and Youth found that children who attend preschool
programs score higher on language, reading and math skills. These studies show
that regardless of socio-economic background or mothers'
employment status, children who participate in early childhood
education perform significantly better than children who do not.
School performance at 10 years correlates positively with the
decision to pursue post-secondary education and with future
The 1999 report of the
National Council of Welfare, Preschool Children: Keep the
Promise, found that children who had access to high-quality child
care were in better health and less likely to require expensive
health and social services later in life.
These studies all agree
that society gains significant benefit from the future effects of
high-quality childhood care and education. The long-term effect
of early learning and care services is linked to later
productivity and lower welfare, health, education and social
Benefits are realized
through increased workforce participation rates of single- and
two-parent families, which produces lower social spending, higher
tax revenues and increased economic security for women throughout
their life cycle.
The 1998 economic study,
The Benefits and Costs of Good Child Care, concludes that for
every dollar invested in high-quality child care and education,
there is a two-dollar benefit to children, parents and society.
In preparing for this presentation, I read somewhere that
economists refer to this as "external benefits."
Numerous studies show the
direct relationship between the quality of care children receive
in their early life and later outcomes. Children in poor-quality
care arrangements score a full standard deviation below those in
high-quality care arrangements.
The two-year Goelman and
Pence study to test quality levels using standardized quality
indicators found that unlicensed, informal child care settings
score consistently lower than licensed home care settings.
One third of unlicensed
care providers report that they do not read, sing or listen to
music with the children in their care; half report not working
with the children on language, numbers or nature studies; and 18%
stated that they did not play with the children.
I think it is safe to say
that how a child spends its day, no matter the circumstance, will
determine how that child will grow and develop. Children develop
regardless of who is doing the caring. Children's early
environment and development are intrinsically linked. This is
supported by your own research.
Over 70% of young children
spend anywhere from four to 10 hours a day in non-parental care
arrangements. The sheer number of children we are talking about
moves this from a private family matter to a societal issue
requiring government funding, standards and regulation.
care and its benefits to children's development and to society,
we will now talk about what happening to high-quality early
learning care over the past six years in Ontario.
The ill-conceived and
artificial separation between child care and child development
has been used to de-fund high-quality early childhood care and
education and to fund the informal, unlicensed child care sector.
Since its first term in office, the provincial government has cut
more that $70 million from the regulated child care system.
These cuts have also been
accompanied by provincial funding restraints, a general
tightening of child care sub-sidies and changes to cost-sharing
arrangements as a result of restructuring and downloading. Under
downloading, municipal governments are now required to cost-share
the entire child care budget, including child care subsidies,
wage subsidies, family resource centres and supports for children
with special needs.
Without additional dollars
being flowed to local government to assume these new
responsibilities, many municipalities are unable to maintain a
quality system of child care. They are being forced to rely more
and more on the informal sector to fulfill their child care
The non-profit child care
sector in Ottawa-Carleton has sustained a 2.21% budget cut since
1996 as a result of changes to cost-sharing for Jobs Ontario
child care subsidies. We did this to save 707 Jobs Ontario child
care subsidies from being lost in our region.
Operating budgets for child
care programs have been frozen at 1994 levels. Though the actual
cost of operations continues to rise, there are no new dollars
flowing from the province to cover them. Cash-strapped
municipalities are unable to increase funding for per diems to
cover these additional costs. This leaves parent boards forced to
increase full parent fees. Spiralling parent fees will force many
middle-come earners out of the regulated system and into
unregulated care. Parent fees constitute 50% of the provincial
child care budget. The erosion of this vital funding base does
not bode well for regulated, affordable high-quality child
Though research proves
conclusively that child care providers are the cornerstone of
high-quality care, this government has not seen fit to fund a
cost-of-living increase since it has been in office. In 1990, the
wages of child care workers were compared to zoo attendants. In
1994, our wages were comparable to parking lot attendants. The
latest federal study compares our wages to pet groomers. It is
terrible that we value children so little that we don't care who
is caring for them.
A major flaw in the current
funding for child care is that staff wages are directly tied to
parent fees. When staff receive a wage increase, it puts pressure
on government to increase parent fees as opposed to per diem
The implementation of wage
grants was meant in part to alleviate this situation, and to
recognize the relationship between quality child care services
and the need for a stable child care workforce. Municipalities
are now responsible for 20% of wage grants, with no additional
dollars being flowed from the province to cover them. To deal
with this, the province has given the municipalities discretion to reallocate wage
grants from one underpaid child care sector to another.
This is a flawed option for
managing increased child care costs. This will see the already
low wages of early childhood educators lowered further. The
research clearly shows the need for improving wages and working
conditions in order to attract and maintain a trained,
knowledgeable and skilled child care workforce.
The province has also
indicated that it will no longer fund mandatory pay equity
adjustments beyond 1998. Not only does this continue an injustice
against child care workers; it also puts parent boards in an
untenable legal bind. Boards will be forced to choose between
making mandatory pay equity adjustment and accumulating
unsustainable debt for their centres, or ignoring the legislation
and putting their centres in direct contravention of the
I think it is important for
people to realize who these boards are. They are voluntary boards
made up of local community members and parents whose children are
enrolled in the centres. They are people who take their
responsibility as parents and board members seriously. It is
reprehensible that the provincial government can have so little
regard for the position these parents have been put in as a
result of the province refusing to fund pay equity but holding
boards accountable for it.
The provincial changes to
child care subsidies are exacerbating an already difficult
situation. The 1996 decision to remove parents attending
post-secondary education from social assistance and to eliminate
the child care bursary is having a devastating impact on these
families as they struggle to improve their employment
opportunities and provide for their children's care. This change
has forced many young parents to drop their studies or to
accumulate huge debts or to take their children out of
high-quality care because they can no longer afford it.
The provincial directive to
include RRSPs as a liquid asset in determining eligibility for
child care is forcing many municipalities, under threat of
sanction, to implement a guideline that they know undermines the
interests of children, parents and the child care system. This
provincial directive is forcing young families who have
demonstrated foresight in planning for their retirement to choose
between economic self-reliance in their old age or taking care of
their children and taking them out of the kind of care that they
believe is best for them. In Otta-wa-Carleton, a regional staff
report indicates that approximately 600 families and 900 children
will be expelled from the system in a matter of months as a
result of the implementation of this directive.
The introduction in 1996 of
the Ontario Works program is adding additional pressure on the
child care system. Since 1995, 70,000 more children are requiring
early learning and care services. The 1999 KPMG report found that
the Ontario Works program could not succeed, because of
inadequate funding for child care. Some municipalities have
indicated they will use only unregulated care for these children
because of lack of provincial funding.
In light of the current
crisis in the regulated sector, we must ask, how is it that the
provincial government can claim so loudly and so vehemently that
it is putting more money into the child care system than any
previous government? To account for this, we must look at how and
where the government is investing in the system.
The government is funding
the growing demand for care by defunding high-quality regulated
child care. Provincial allocation for regulated care shows a
difference of $70 million between 1995 and 1998. The actual child
care expenditure per child has dropped 15% since this government
has been in power.
It is also finding savings
by clawing back money from welfare recipients receiving the
federal child tax benefit. The savings from both these measures
are being directed to the Ontario child care supplement for
working families. So while the province claims to be injecting
$175 million into the system, it is doing so by robbing from the
regulated system and taking money from poor children to provide
unlicensed care of unknown quality to a growing number of
children. As Mustard and McCain point out in their study, these
care arrangements may be good, bad or mediocre-we don't know.
But let's look at what this
Ontario child tax supplement really means for these families. The
maximum annual benefit for one child under seven is $1,100
dollars to be paid out in quarterly instalments. On an annual
in-come of $20,000, a family with one child will pay, on average,
$600 a month for informal, unlicensed care. Minus the $92 monthly
child supplement, this will be $508 a month. So with an income of
$20,000, child care expenses for a year of $6,096, housing and
utilities for a total of $9,000, transportation-this is the cost
of a bus pass in Ottawa-Carleton-of $780 a year, and food and
other necessities of $4,200 a year, the total that this family
pays for just basic living expenses and child care costs is
$20,076. They are in debt after the year for $76.
Though this government can
claim it is investing millions of dollars in child care, when we
look at it, this investment is supporting families to live in
near poverty and children to be placed in unlicensed care where
there is no certainty about the care being offered.
The Ontario child
supplement is flowing millions of public child care dollars into
the unregulated, informal sector where there is no
accountability, no assurance of quality and no standards for
training to ensure high quality.
In the conclusion of their
study, Fraser Mustard and Margaret McCain clearly call on the
provincial government to develop universal programs available and
accessible to all children. They state that a targeted program
that reaches only children at risk will miss a very large number
of children and families in need of support in all socio-economic
sectors of society.
We urge this government to
reconsider this artificial separation between children's care and
children's development, and to fund the kind of care research
shows to be the most
beneficial to children's development and to society. The research
clearly proves the link between positive child care and child
development and its benefits to society. If you are serious about
preparing this province for the knowledge-based economy, then
invest now in our children for our future.
We urge the Ontario
government to make the development of early childhood care and
education a high priority by co-operating with the federal
government in negotiation of the National Children's Agenda.
The Ottawa-Carleton Child
Care Association and CUPE Local 2204 recommend: that the
provincial government return to its traditional role in
supporting the development of licensed, quality child care by
making substantial new investments in the regulated system; that
the Ontario government undertake a five-year plan to increase
child care spaces and provide base funding for child care
services modeled on Quebec's universal child care system; that
the Ontario government dismantle Ontario Works and invest in job
creation and training programs that lead to permanent jobs and
access to quality child care for the unemployed and for people on
assistance; that the province provide ongoing funding for pay
equity adjustments in recognition of pay equity principles; that
the Ontario government restore all funding cuts from education;
that the Ontario government reinstate the policy that required
all new school buildings to include child care programs; that the
Ontario government make new and substantial investments in
children to address serious child poverty; and finally, as a
signatory to the National Children's Agenda, the Ontario
government demonstrate vision, political will and commitment to
regulated, licensed, non-profit services available to all
Ontario's children and families who require it. Thank you.
We have three minutes per caucus.
Christopherson: Thank you very much for your
presentation. It was excellent. I noted that, contrary to what
some folks might think, the issue of wages for early childhood
educators didn't find its way into your report until the bottom
of page 4 and then only briefly. I think that underscores again
the commitment and professionalism that early childhood educators
bring to the job that we as a society ask them to do.
I want to focus on that
just a little bit because I agree very much with the idea. I have
a seven-year-old daughter who was in child care early, and we had
the benefit of very professional, dedicated, educated, committed
individuals who just made a huge difference.
You make reference to the
fact that in 1990 your wages were compared to those of zoo
attendants, in 1994 you were at parking lot attendants, and now
you are told that they are looking at pet groomers. You don't
mention dollar figures here, and I know they vary across the
province depending on whether it's not-for-profit or profit, and
even within each of those categories there is rich or poor,
depending on neighbourhoods etc. Can you give us a sense, so that
it's on the official record and for the benefit of committee
members, just what are the ranges of wages? Most early childhood
educators have post-secondary-education degrees and some of them
even beyond that. With that in mind, can you give for us the
range that you're aware of?
The range for an ECE graduate just coming out of college after
two years is minimum wage. You start out as a teaching assistant
at minimum wage. I can give my own self as an example. I have a
university degree. I have worked in the field with children for
18 years. I have reached the maximum of my earning potential in
the field at $38,000. I cannot look forward to more money in my
field, even though my 18 years' experience and my university
degree should be giving me more.
Christopherson: I think that will be a shock to a lot of
people. Think about it: Two years of college, taking care of our
kids, and you walk into a minimum-wage job. You've got to be
pretty committed, or crazy.
Ms Bird: I
have to say, for myself, I work in a unionized centre so I'm at
the top wage scale of early childhood educators, but even at that
I have reached what I will make for the rest of my life, other
than cost-of-living adjustments.
Christopherson: Just in your own experience, looking
ahead, if things continue down this road-and we're at the
beginning of a fresh mandate for the Harris government, a second
term-if things continue this way for the foreseeable future, if
this committee were to revisit with you in five, eight, 10 years
hence, where are we going to be? Where is this trend going to
Ms Bird: I
can tell you that right now, with the provinces having downloaded
discretion to reallocate wage enhancement grants, for those of us
who work in the non-profit sector, we are looking at a loss of
$6,000 minimally in our wages. That will be taken right off the
top. I'm looking actually in my future at losing my income as a
result of the province giving municipalities the discretion to
reallocate wage grants. I know of one municipality that has
already chosen to take that route in order to manage the
downloading costs. So it's being done directly on the backs of
people who are working with children.
Christopherson: I understand that in the private sector
it's even worse, with lower wages and benefits.
Thank you for the presentation-very thoroughly researched and put
together, and well presented. You made reference to the $175
million-the figure I've heard is $173 million, a 30% increase-and
you've sorted out where that did or did not go. These are the
figures we hear and that it has increased by that 30%.
As you talked about no
dollars, that responsibilities were transferred to the
municipality, it started out in the discussions with the previous
government of disentanglement, which they backed away from. We
gave it a new heading, Who Does What, and proceeded. When it
ended up, we followed through on every recommendation that came
back from AMO, with the exception of a 5% tax levy for boards of
education. It was revenue-neutral, although the opposition would
like to say "downloading." That's got a great ring to it and it's
been effective as far as an emotional rollout.
As you are aware, there has been a minister
appointed to oversee children's issues. Certainly this kind of
thing and the concerns you're expressing are of paramount concern
My question to you-and this
came as quite a surprise to me. This was 20-plus years ago when I
was on a school board. There was a struggle at that time-senior
kindergarten, full-day, half-day; junior kindergarten; the whole
package-and a study was done at that time indicating that
academically at the end of grade 3 you couldn't measure whether
they'd been in kindergarten or not. What young children learn is
tremendous; they're just like sponges. So I had real problems
with that. Maybe you'd like to expand a bit on the educational
experience that occurs in child care activities.
This is the result of your own Early Years Study that's drawing
more from the sciences-epidemiology, biology-to determine that
the wiring of children's brains begins at a very young age and
sets the stage for how they learn throughout the rest of their
lives and how they cope with life's stresses throughout the rest
of their lives. They're discovering more each day about how
critically important the first five years of life are. The
long-term impacts are being followed through longitudinal
studies, and they are finding a direct correlation and link
between children's early life experiences and how they go on to
develop throughout their lives. The research is all coming
together to reconfirm what has already been found around
children's early experiences and later life outcomes.
Phillips: Just to follow up on the comments from the
previous speaker, the facts are that Mike Harris appointed 14
people to look at what things should be handled municipally and
what things should be handled by the province. He handpicked
these people, 14 of them, all his friends and whatnot. When they
looked at it, they unanimously said: "Don't do this. Don't put
social housing, don't put social assistance, don't put child care
on property taxes." In fact, they said: "We are unanimous in this
view. The panel strongly opposes such a move." They begged them
not to do it.
AMO said, finally, "If
you're going to ram this down our throats, then at least try and
do some things to make it go down the throat a little easier."
That's what Mr Galt was talking about.
But Mike Harris's own
people said, "Don't do it." Why not do it? Because of exactly the
reason you've pointed out now. When you go to a local
municipality that is up against it on property taxes, has a gun
to its head-and that's their only access to revenue--and you're
saying, "We need help on child care," no wonder it's difficult
for municipalities to respond to it.
The other half of the
equation, and some of our educational leaders from the community
are here today, was that Mike Harris wanted to get a hold of
education. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Now he has
total control over it, although he has set up these school
boards, covering huge geographic areas, as a buffer between
himself and the school system and gives them no flexibility. He
tells them dollar for dollar what they're going to spend and
virtually how they're going to spend it. When people complain,
Mike Harris says, "Go to the school board; it's their
I couldn't let that comment
go by, because what you've done for us today is prove the success
of Mike Harris's formula, which is to get municipalities taking
the heat for this issue.
The second thing you've
done for us, which is extremely important, is that you've
outlined this shell game for us of where the money has gone. The
staff are preparing for us a kind of road map of the shell game,
but you show the shell game. Here's the money here, and then it's
the old three-card monte. Where is the money now? It's over
And they say, "We've got
more money than we've ever had." I see even recently here they've
taken some federal money, put it in as revenue and then shown it
as expenditure and said: "Aren't we nice? We're spending more
money." It's just taking somebody else's money, laundering it
through their bank account and saying, "Look at us, we're
helping." So that's, first, a comment.
I appreciate, frankly, the
work that's gone into this brief. You have outlined for us about
six or seven areas where real people are being hurt, the young
people on social assistance-I had a young lady in my office who
went back to school because she wanted to get an education and
was told that this was the approach. Now she owes $66,000. She's
a single parent and it's a mountain for her to climb that is
virtually, if not literally, impossible.
My question to you would
be: Has your organization been able to put together for us a
simple little chart? As I say, you've outlined here in words, but
a picture would be very helpful for us. I personally wouldn't
mind the six or seven areas where you show what it used to be and
where it's gone now and a dollar figure. Is it possible for your
group to put that together?
Yes, we could work on that.
Phillips: And forward it to the clerk of the committee,
who would circulate that to us?
We've run out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank you very
much for your presentation this afternoon.
ONTARIO SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' FEDERATION,
DISTRICT 26, PROFESSIONAL STUDENT SERVICES PERSONNEL BARGAINING
Our next presenter is the OSSTF, district 26, professional
student services personnel. Could you come forward and state your
name for the record, please.
Wells: Good afternoon. I'm Heather Wells.
McEwen: I'm John McEwen.
Ms Joan Jardin: I'm Joan
Jardin. I'm from Limestone, District 27. I'm district president.
The professional student services personnel is actually one of
our bargaining units.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your
presentation this afternoon.
I appear today on behalf of my bargaining unit, which is the PSSP
bargaining unit for District 26 of the Ontario Secondary School
Teachers' Federation. PSSP stands for professional student
services personnel. Within that bargaining unit I represent a
conglomerate of 20 psychologists, psychometrists, attendance
counsellors, speech-language pathologists and behaviourists.
We offer students
emotional, behavioural and social support. The services that we
provide to at-risk and challenged students often make the
difference between a successful graduating student and a
We have before you in the
brief a table, which I'll ask John to walk you through,
Since 1992, school boards have been reducing the staffing levels
of these professionals. As you can see, it's gone from 1.3 staff
per thousand to 1.14 staff per thousand. Paradoxically, as you
heard in an earlier presentation, as the staffing levels have
been reduced the demand for these services has increased. Now,
back to my colleague.
In the same period, our particular corner of the world
amalgamated four boards and, by doing so, as part of that, we did
originally start with a staff complement of 42.5. That has now
been reduced to 20.
On the next page, I'd like
to take some time with this particular table and explain it to
you and help to draw it out for you. We have the staff categories
and I've listed the staffing complement before amalgamation,
after amalgamation and the change. I want you to bear in mind
that we're servicing 40,000 students. We have three psychologists
to service 40,000 students. We have two speech-language
pathologists. We have three attendance counsellors. These people,
the attendance counsellors, would have approximately 14,000
students each, in 37 schools. That doesn't allow much in-depth
There were three
behaviourists before amalgamation. I'd just like to clarify that
those three were in one predecessor board and they served the
14,000 students. With amalgamation, yes, we got more
behaviourists, but it was now six spread across the 40,000.
The job of the
behaviourists is that they're called on by the schools; a child
in crisis, a child tearing up a classroom, whatever. The
behaviourist goes in, observes, sets out programming, coordinates
with family, with school, looking at the system. In the past,
they had what we called educational-behavioural assistants whom
they could leave to do some of that programming. That's been lost
so that now we have fewer behaviourists and we have not the same
support in the school.
Where I'm going with this
is, that bounces down to the teacher. The teacher then becomes
the person who is trying to follow through on a behavioural
program, because she or he needs that in order to keep their
class stable. They also have a few other things on their plate
too, so that gets to be difficult and very stressful.
I think I missed
psychometrists. We did lose 3.5 psychometrists. These people do
the assessing for learning disabilities, for at-risk children. In
the past they used to do some consultation, and that has been
lost as part of this puzzle.
As well, there were speech
assistance resources available before, where the speech
pathologists could give their programming to these assistants to
be carried out. Again, that is gone, and it goes into teachers'
hands, which again expands their jobs.
We took a survey and have
bulleted various concerns and comments within the brief. You will
notice that they are not all specific to my PSSP bargaining unit,
because we are not isolates. We impact, and the kids impact, on a
whole variety of things. It impacts on what the community mental
health agencies have available for us. All of that is one big
package. So you will see comments that aren't totally specific
but do have influence.
Since amalgamation, we
still have the same number of children, with maybe even greater
problems than we had before. Across the system, my membership
sees increasing difficulties with behaviour, increasing social
difficulties in the home and in the community. In my job is a
psychometrist, and when I assess kids, I see that the depth of
learning difficulties these children are presenting is greater.
Hence, I would like more time to delve further into those
assessments rather than having a set number that have to be
accomplished. Sometimes you feel that you have a choice. You can
give a quick-and-dirty, which I don't like and I don't do, or you
take the time and then you run and burn your own little candle at
both ends, as it were, to try to cover that base for the
Some of the things my
members are seeing are an increasing number of parents who now
complain that their children aren't getting what they perceive to
have previously been in existence in terms of individual,
one-to-one, specialized programming. We are seeing that shifting.
We are seeing many more disturbed children and a real reduction
in the community services available to help with those mental
health issues. We have children who set fires in schools, who
abuse and bully other children, and we do not have community
resources to handle those mental health issues. So it comes down
to our three psychologists covering 40,000 students.
I am sure you have heard
endlessly about the increase in class sizes. From my point of
view, I have students who are overwhelmed by large groups or
maybe can't process auditory information. So a large group gets
even more diffuse and they really can't hang on to what is being
said. They quickly get lost in the woodwork of a large group, and
that's something that can't be picked up because we have lost
that one-to-oneness we were able to provide in the past.
Attendance counsellors, for
us, are a big concern. As I said, we have three who cover a large
territory. I think the
frustration for them is that they find they've gone from being
able to be proactive to just being able to cover the bases. I was
talking to one today and she was telling me that the piece she
missed most is that transition when kids go from grade 8 to grade
9 and don't arrive in grade 9. They're not there. Where did they
go? They don't have the time to go back into the woodwork to try
to find that child and see where they may be. Are they on the
street? Did they not make the transition? That kind of issue.
They can look at the major
things, when a child has missed 15 days, which I understand is
the important number, but they aren't able to pick up the kid who
misses four days a month or two days every week or that kind of
thing. That is a pattern which, if someone could take them for
coffee or a sit-down, you might be able to work through a little
personal thing and get beyond that.
Teachers as mentors: As we
all know, teachers have a huge impact on children. The time they
can spend with a child on a very informal basis can be far more
valuable than me going in with my wonder box and trying to come
up with some reason why the child is not learning. By virtue of
the stresses we are seeing these teachers under, with extra
paperwork, credentials, criteria and all that kind of thing,
which are needed in part, so much at once, has reduced that
mentoring time that they might have had. We as a group see that
as a loss to the system.
For our own PSSP staff,
we're very frustrated. We feel we're constantly running-nobody
really eats lunch; we eat on the run-and there are huge distances
involved, all of which sounds a bit whiny, but that's not the
design, please. The design is that we would much rather be
working with a child and we find that's compromised
Maybe, Joan, you could add
some from your PSSP groups, please.
I certainly want to echo everything that Heather said about the
cuts to professional student services personnel. In the Limestone
board, we've also had cuts. Sorry, I don't have a handy, nice
chart, but trust me that they've been cut about 30% in the last
couple of years, which is not the best for students.
I want to also follow up on
the travelling time. Once again with the rural schools, with the
large school boards-our Limestone board is a very large board; of
course it's almost puny compared to the Upper Canada board-we
have very few professionals who are going from school to school,
and a lot of their time is being spent in the car as opposed to
with students because there are so few. That certainly is not a
wise use of money and is certainly not good for kids when the
professionals are in the car for a large part of the day.
The one difference is that
we have what are called adolescent care workers in the schools, a
little bit like the behaviouralists. We actually have maintained
one per school, but that is definitely a cut. The adolescent care
workers provide much-needed connection. If a student needs a
social agency, when there were social agencies-actually there
still are. They're just harder and harder to find and therefore
actually adolescent care workers are very good at making
connections with the agencies that might be helpful for the
Also not only increased
class sizes but those ISA grants, the recent word or the recent
release was that they will be a little bit more open, but they
have been strictly dedicated to providing EAs, and really the ISA
proposals are taking a lot of time from the professional student
services personnel to write up. They are very large in paperwork
and what they not do is provide a big-picture response to the
needs of the students.
Of course teachers and PSSP
staff are spending a lot of time doing that. There seems to be
almost a lottery on which student does actually get the grant and
it's, "I can have more paperwork than you and therefore you might
get it," so it is incredibly time-consuming and not as
beneficially used in the big picture. I certainly hope the money
continues to be put in and more and more money be put into the
needs of the ISA students.
Thank you very much for the
opening of that envelope, which is really very important, meaning
that it's not as targeted as it was before, but of course we have
yet to see the real regulations involved with it to see what it
Just to continue on with
the ISA grants, with all the work from the PSSP to do that,
unfortunately some students who really need it are not
sufficiently identified, probably and mostly because there isn't
enough time to do all the paperwork that's involved with it.
That's really a great difficulty. We have to make sure the
students are getting the programs they need.
Once again, the cuts in
teachers and cuts in administration-administration actually does
help out in the school and when you cut them, it adds to the
Thank you, Joan.
Does that complete your presentation?
Just a couple more comments. I think we need to constantly keep
in the forefront of our minds these children. Have we given up on
them? Where are we wanting to go with them? Do we care about
their emotional, behavioural, social support systems? How do we
see that fitting into the big picture?
Ontario has made many
advances in raising the levels of education and literacy over the
last 30 years. A great deal of the success has been due to the
efforts of non-teaching professionals, and we would like to see
that continue and be built upon.
I don't think we want to go
back to the days when troubled young people were automatically
marginalized. We don't want to pay the social and economical
costs down the road, and I ask you to keep that in mind. When you
look at your next budget, I hope you will also keep us in mind
and remember our children and their troubles and the challenges
that we wish to address to help them.
I'd like to recognize the
director of education for the Upper Canada District School Board,
Mr Gino Giannandrea, who I understand is with us today, and I do
thank him very much for being present at my presentation.
Are there any
The Chair: We have
approximately four minutes per caucus.
Thank you very much for your presentation. I found your ideas and
your suggestions to be very interesting. This is a perspective
that I don't think has been brought forward to the committee as
of yet, the particular point of view of the non-teaching
professionals. I looked at this graph that you provided on page 2
very carefully, but I wanted to ask you this one question first
of all. The government has created, through its new funding
formula, two broad categories of spending: One is classroom
spending, as you know, and one is non-classroom spending. Which
category do you fall into?
I would think non-classroom spending.
A little of both?
My more experienced colleagues say a little of both.
I don't feel so bad. I thought I should know the answer to
A little of both. It's quite a complicated funding formula.
-but it's more complicated than that.
The real problem is for students with difficulties. The student
with difficulty has to be there before the process to generate
the money begins. That's highly inefficient in that in a board of
our size you would expect that there will be a certain number of
students with a certain set of difficulties, and therefore, one
ought to presume that you will need people with the kinds of
skills that are required to treat them. But the cart is, if you
like, before the horse.
I might just clarify that there is a foundation grant per pupil.
However, my understanding is there are about nine lines in the
funding formula considered inside the classroom and there is
paraprofessional and student support as a line separate from the
foundation. I'll also give you, though, that throughout each of
the lines there are various aspects that are to be allocated
towards special education and, as I said, the ISA grants. That's
a separate line.
So the school-based educational assistants, for example, would be
considered paraprofessionals; is that correct?
Educational assistants are not one of our bargaining units at
Gerretsen: At this time.
I think that might be just one of the things, how we can work
best for the students in that way.
Yes, because certainly the government wants the kinds of services
that you perform in the schools to be adequately funded. I think
that's a fair statement to make. The fact that you used to have
42.5 positions and it's been reduced down to 20, you say that
this is before and after amalgamation?
Does it coincide with the funding formula changes as well, or was
it due to amalgamation primarily that these positions were
reduced in number?
You can't separate them.
I guess I really can't answer that adequately. I don't know the
funding formula. I do know there's been a reduction in staff. I
do see the impact in the schools. It would take someone else with
I regret I did not look at the variance table this morning as I
had planned to. The variance table is the one where you find out
whether the board has spent as much as the funding model allowed.
I am aware that the board, in its approved estimates, admitted to
spending less in every single classroom category than it was
allowed to. But I did not specifically look at this one, so I'm
sorry, I cannot answer that question.
Thank you very much, Mr Arnott.
Gerretsen: I think the last four minutes completely
indicate the absurdity of trying to separate funding between
so-called classroom and non-classroom funding when the government
members themselves-and I've got the highest respect for Mr
Arnott. He's what I would regard as one of the more progressive
government members there. If he doesn't know-and I certainly
don't intend to take a shot at him or anything like that.
We have school boards with
elected people, the trustees etc. They are run by competent
administrators. Why don't we let them decide what is in the best
interests of their children in their particular areas. To
artificially say, "This is classroom funding and this isn't
classroom funding"-and nobody seems to know exactly what fits
where-leads to all sorts of useless time and energy that's been
wasted rather than just looking at it as a whole, which is surely
what we want to end up with in the long run.
One thing that your
chart-and that's really what I wanted to comment on-clearly
indicates, something that the minister has been denying in the
House for the last year and a half, both before the last election
and after the last election, is the notion that the non-teaching
professional staff in the school boards have not changed at all,
that there hasn't been a decrease. We've brought to them example
after example where this has happened, and you've clearly
indicated that in your board the net result is that there's been
a 50% reduction in the non-teaching professional staff.
Regardless of whether it's due to amalgamation or to funding
cuts, that's the net effect. Those people are no longer involved
for roughly the same number of students who were there two or
three years ago to help them in their non-teaching-related
activities that the students may be involved in or for the needs
they may have. Is that standard within the other districts as
well, as far as you know?
Precisely. It's more than 50%. We are presently-"we" being one of
the groups that I belong to-analysing this. I do not have a
definitive answer but that is my impression. My colleague from
Limestone spoke of a 30% reduction; we're talking about a
reduction of approximately 55%. There's a range for you. Let's
hope we don't find anybody who's outside of that.
Ms Jardin: I'd like to combine
the last two questions in that I think it's a very important
point to make about what, by the funding formula, is inside the
classroom. Apparently, heat is not inside the classroom, and
things like that. Certainly with amalgamation, just to echo that,
our PSSP has been cut back quite a lot, the point being made that
you can't separate amalgamation and the funding formula because
it was all done at the same time. I do believe strongly that our
board is trying to provide the very best that they can within the
funding formula. Therefore, if there's been a cut, I have full
confidence that it's because the funding formula is not adequate
to what it was before.
Christopherson: I very much appreciate your last
comment, because far too often in all of our communities we see
major battles going on, pitched battles, either between school
board trustees and teachers, school board trustees and parents.
In the case of my home town in Hamilton, we had the HSR, our
public transit bus drivers, at battle with the regional
councillors and none of them picked the fight. It was Harris who
picked the fight by cutting the transfer payments that set up
this scenario and yet within the community it was always the
local folks fighting among each other.
It's really positive and
helpful when you acknowledge the fact that sometimes people are
making decisions you don't support-you wish they'd make other
decisions-but you don't think they're being evil and don't care
about the kids and that they're not doing this because they don't
believe or support.
I also want to touch on the
issue of the classroom spending. Government members have got a
lot of nerve asking a question about this, because we all know
that whenever government members talk about education they're
very careful to say "classroom spending." That is deliberate,
because they've eliminated so many things from classroom spending
that all they have to do is increase the few things that are left
in that category and they can accurately, although deceptively,
say, "We've increased classroom spending."
You mentioned heating the
classroom. Hydro doesn't count, transportation doesn't count,
cleaning the classroom doesn't count, maintaining computers and
upgrading them etc doesn't count. There's a whole load of things
that affect schooling that they've cut out of that category.
They've slashed those budgets and then increased the couple that
are left over, and this is the shell game they play here.
I want to ask a quick
question, if I could. I suppose one could say I should know this,
but I don't. Behaviourists, psychometrists and psychologists-you
mentioned that you're a psychometrist and that you do assessing
for students who are at risk. How does that differ from
psychologists and behaviourists? Exactly what do they do that's
A psychometrist does testing for learning disabilities to find
out why a child isn't learning properly, what we want to do about
it, to look at programming, that kind of thing. A psychometrist
has to work under the auspices of a psychologist. The
psychologist would have to approve my work before it is then
transferred to parent and school. The psychologist as well would
be able to do in-depth counselling, that kind of thing.
A behaviourist is someone
trained in behavioural management, and so a child in the
classroom who constantly is in difficulty would come to the
attention of the behaviourist who would go in and set up
programming to try to mould that behaviour to make it more
socially appropriate within the class, to try to find out why
they are kicking their neighbour-or whatever the child is
doing-for the child's benefit, for the classroom benefit, that
kind of thing.
Christopherson: I think it was you, Joan, who mentioned
existing community agencies. The community mental health agencies
are referenced in the document. What sorts of things beyond
community mental health agencies are you as educators reaching
out to when you have children with special needs, and in the past
finding that help?
We find that hospitals, vision and hearing clinics, that kind of
thing, where you used to have maybe a three-month wait-if when
I'm doing an assessment I discover a child has some neurological
issues, it might be that we refer to CHEO or Kingston General or
something like that. The wait at that end has become so long that
Christopherson: For example, the three months has now
Six, a year, something like that.
Christopherson: A year? And what age children?
All ages. It's just the impact of-
Christopherson: What happens in the interim to that
child who needs the special help?
The child is in the class and people try very hard and actually
do a very good job of trying to program and accommodate the
child. The real concern for the staff is, are we doing the right
Christopherson: Because you're not the experts.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
Thank you. I appreciate your time.
Our next presenters this afternoon are representatives from
Loyalist College. Could you please step forward and state your
names for the record please.
Auld: Douglas Auld, the president of Loyalist
White: Wendel White, a governor of Loyalist College.
Good afternoon and welcome on behalf of the committee. You have
30 minutes for your presentation.
Thank you very much. We appreciate the opportunity to meet with
you this afternoon.
Let me start off our presentation by saying that
in a perfect world there would be sufficient resources for a
college education to provide quality education for every
qualified student without the student having to take on excessive
debt in getting that education. But we don't live in a perfect
world. We have a lot of competing demands. I'm sure that everyone
here in this committee realizes how competing those demands for
public funding are. Those competing demands of course have
resulted in, as we all know, increasing student debt as students
attempt to gain a post-secondary education, which is so important
in the world today.
In eastern Ontario, and
certainly in the four-county area that we serve to a large
degree, this is even more burdensome by virtue of the fact that
the average family income in our area is considerably lower than
the provincial average and our unemployment rate is higher than
the provincial average as well.
There seem to be two
approaches to solving this particular dilemma. One is to provide
additional funding on the operating grant side on a per-student
basis which would then allow our college, for example, to freeze
tuition fees. That would reduce slowly but over time the amount
of debt that students would have to incur.
The other solution of the
problem is a little more creative and innovative, and I will ask
my colleague to outline that approach.
Thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation. I would
add at this point to the handout you have that the creative
solution or the proposal here is modelled after the state of
Georgia, where they have in effect and in use the Hope
scholarship program. To date the Hope scholarship foundation or
the scholarship in the state has benefited 457,000 students in
the state. What is more glaringly obvious for the state of
Georgia is that it has benefited the economically disadvantaged
of that state and made college education or university education
more accessible via providing a performance-based program for
students who achieve a B or B+ average in the state. When they
achieve that performance, then they are eligible for a
scholarship from the state. That scholarship covers tuition fees,
books and other related costs.
The story here is that it's
an attempt by the state of Georgia to make college and university
education accessible. What I wanted to also point out is that
it's a legislated program, and that being the case, it does not
get altered by politics. It's also part of the mandate of the
Hope scholarship that it supplement, not supplant, the present
funding that the state provides for education. These are funds
that are available to students over and above what the state
budgets for education. As well, they've expanded the program of
their scholarships to include pre-kindergarten.
Probably for me one of the
most creative things about the Hope scholarship is that it's
providing an opportunity to educate teachers as well and that the
state is demonstrating that education is important. "It's so
important that we're going to provide and find opportunities
through an existing management program"-thus the lottery
corporation-"to fund teachers for post-graduate work and
That is basically in a
nutshell what the Hope scholarship does and the impact it's had
on the state of Georgia.
I also want to make one
other observation for you. Presently, the Ontario Lottery Corp,
through Super Bingo, also designates three charities through
which it funnels money. To be honest, I have no idea exactly what
charities they are, but I know the funds they give to those
designated charities are is a significant sum of money. Given
that that structure is in place, I think it's a perfect fit for
an idea such as this.
We have approximately seven minutes per caucus. I'll start with
the official opposition.
Kwinter: Thank you very much for your presentation. I
just want to give you a little bit of background for my comments.
In your particular submission, you say: "Ontario is no stranger
to lotteries. Hundreds of small community arenas and community
centres were financed by the first years of the Provincial
lottery." The background on that, just so you'll know, is that
prior to the provincial government getting into the lottery
business, there was a huge, huge resistance on the part of the
people that this was a form of regressive taxation. You're
holding a lottery and you hold out this prize-and all you have to
do is take a look at the casinos. They generate billions of
dollars to the province.
The problem that was
evident at that time was that the Irish Sweepstakes was available
and people were buying tickets to the Irish Sweepstakes; that
money was leaving the province and the province felt that was
money that could usefully be kept here, but how do you bridge the
political problem of getting into the lottery business? The way
it was bridged was to suggest that the proceeds of this lottery
would go to community activities and sporting facilities,
recreational facilities. That was the justification, but the
actual intent was to stop the flow of money to the Irish
Sweepstakes. After a number of years, when every arena in Ontario
had a new roof and they really had no place to put the money, it
reverted back to consolidated revenue, and that is where it is
today. This money goes in and basically it's a way of getting
revenue for the government.
In 1995, Mike Harris stated
he was opposed to casinos. When he took a look at the monies that
were going to be generated, he suddenly had a conversion. We now
have lotteries and charitable casinos and casinos in places like
Rama, Niagara Falls and Windsor, and more charitable casinos are
going to be emerging and we have video lottery terminals on the
horizon, all these things, and they're all meant for one purpose
and one purpose only: to generate revenue and to offset problems
we have balancing our budget and reducing the debt, all those
The reason I am giving you
that background is that over the years virtually every group that
has had a financing problem has come to the government and said,
"If you would only let us run a lottery, we would solve our
problems." Your presentation is not new at all. As I say, it has come forward from
many groups that want to do that. As a matter of fact, the
Princess Margaret Hospital runs a lottery, the Hospital for Sick
Children runs a lottery-all sorts of groups run lotteries. You
get to the point where you have to decide: Is the total economy
going to be lottery-based or is there some reason why, for social
reasons, for economic reasons-every time you have a lottery you
drag money out of the economy. Monies that go to the lottery and
then go to, say, the consolidated revenue fund, take away monies
that are community-based, where you get the added value, you get
the spin-offs and all these things.
In theory I understand
exactly where you are coming from. In practice it is very, very
difficult. What happens is that the community college is going to
have a lottery. Then another group comes along and says: "What
about the opera? We want to have a lottery." Then the ballet
says, "If the opera's got a lottery, we want to have a lottery."
Before you know it, every organization that has the greatest
intentions wants to have a lottery and then it becomes
counterproductive. Because you have so many lotteries and there
is only so much discretionary disposable income, you have a
The reason for giving this
background is to say that this is not a new approach. It has been
presented many times by many organizations. Maybe you know why,
in the state of Georgia-I don't know whether they singled out
community colleges. Have you done any investigation as to what
other endeavours are funded by lotteries in the state of
If I could speak to that, the only program we have really looked
at in the state of Georgia was the Hope scholarship, because it
dealt with education. But as far as the rest of what the GLC is
doing, I don't have the answer to that question.
But at the same time, if I
may, the whole issue would probably never arise if there weren't
actually a disaster afoot related to the amount of debt students
have. Certainly one would have to take a look today-and you had
it at the front door of your Legislature last week-at the number
of young people and the number of families out there in
distressed circumstances related to the whole issue. Dr Auld and
I probably would not be sitting here in front of you if this were
a perfect world, if this were a great situation in the province.
But it's not. The funding situation related to colleges is a
disgrace. As a parent, I say that to you. As a governor of a
college, I say that to you. It's a disgrace. I would not be here
saying that to you if that were not the case, or suggesting the
use of lotteries, which I myself don't like. However, trying to
be creative about how we solve a real, unconscionable situation
in this province related to students' debt and how we reward
excellence of students I think really deserves a lot of
Gerretsen: Would you agree with me that we'd have to
have, if we were to implement what you're suggesting, something
in place to ensure that the province wouldn't do what it's
currently doing with the Millennium scholarships that have been
granted to students whereby the money is taken right from the
students and the students don't benefit from it at all? In some
cases they're no better off and in some cases they may be better
off as far as their overall debt load is concerned somewhere down
the line, but it doesn't help them right now.
Would you agree that if
anything like this was even contemplated, we'd want to make sure
that this current government wouldn't be taking those kinds of
steps that they're doing with the Millennium fund right now?
Certainly, if you're going to talk about the Millennium fund, the
whole issue around taxing the money is significant for students.
Basically, it is an interesting concept, but the whole tax issue
for students is one that really needs to be examined.
Christopherson: Thank you for your presentation. Let me
say at the outset that I agree very much with my colleague Monte
Kwinter in terms of his concerns. I won't repeat those; I think
he articulated them very well.
Do you know what I worry
about in this, given that I share that viewpoint? I worry they'll
That's a good thing.
Christopherson: I was going to say I know that you'll
see that as a good thing, and in the short term it is, there's no
question, if it's going to take some of the pressure off. In the
long term, though, it's just a time-delayed disaster. It's still
The real answer to this is,
if there weren't the kind of cuts that are going on and if there
weren't the deregulation of tuitions, we wouldn't have this
problem. We've always had disagreements in our society about
tuition levels and what they ought to be and what they ought not
be, but we've never been anywhere near where we are now and where
we're heading. It's worse.
I worry they'll do it,
because I don't think in the short term they're prepared to
change their priorities from giving more tax cuts to the very
wealthy, who quite frankly don't need it, and put the money into
education and health care, which are the top two priorities. All
they have to do here is stickhandle the politics of the
charitable groups, the small-p politics within those groups, who
will say, "We're quickly reaching saturation; there are only so
many tickets you can sell." If they deal with that, they don't
have to put out a dime to help make you folks go away, which is
what they would like you to do.
They know the problem's
there. I even think there are some individual members who are
really bothered. I watch some members, particularly when people
come in and talk about children and how they're being hurt, and I
know they're uncomfortable with some of these things. Yet at the
end of the day this is an easy solution. It's not the long-term
solution. There will be a fair degree of disparity. We're already
seeing now fundraising events going on in elementary schools,
high schools, and whether you're raising $60,000 or $5,000, it
depends on whether you're doing it in downtown Toronto or whether
you're doing it maybe in Markham, where you have one of the
highest per capita incomes in the country. The fact is that the
areas that can generate the most money to pay for school books,
which are no longer being paid for because of the changed funding formula, are the
ones that need it the least. They've already got enough parental
support, home support, that they are able to manage the cuts in
the education system and the lack of supports better than
families that don't have. And yet when it's time to go out and
get money to buy books, which is a scary reality for us to be in,
the ones that can most easily do this are the areas that are
already most capable of dealing with, as best they can, some of
the cuts that are coming.
I don't have any questions.
I'd like to give you a chance to respond if there's any of my
time left. But I did want to be right up front and say to you
that I know that you want them to do it and that it would solve
your immediate problem. I worry, though, that they will do it and
that it'll solve it in the short term and then we've got an even
bigger problem in the medium and long term. The only real answer
here is to adequately fund our post-secondary education systems,
I'm not sure what the question was.
Christopherson: No, there wasn't one. I just said I'd
give you a chance to respond in case you disagree or-
On the question of the short term versus the long term, we could
spend a lot of time talking about the difference between them,
but if we take the short term as even being a few years, I think
we're in a situation now where the accumulated mounting debt, in
particular in communities like ours, is now becoming a
significant deterrent to higher education, particularly in an
area which has a less-than-average participation rate in higher
education because it has a less-than-average income level and a
higher unemployment rate. This is a major concern of ours.
When we look at this, if
it's over a five- or 10-year period and something else is put in
differently and along the run, the fact remains there are now
sanctioned lotteries in Ontario and people will be involved in
lotteries. What we've indicated in our proposal is not
necessarily the launching of a new, complicated lottery, but
either the possibility of diverting existing lottery funds into
something we believe would be of enormous social value, economic
value, personal value, in our community, or, if that's not
feasible, let us run a lottery in our own community for the
purposes we have stated; in other words, to provide scholarships
for motivated, qualified students so that they can spend two or
three years at college and not walk out the door $20,000-plus in
Christopherson: Would you want to fund our hospitals
based on the vagaries of lotteries?
You already are. You're doing it.
Christopherson: I mean a large portion of the budget,
growing parts of that. Is that where we really want to be going?
That's what worries me. Right, we already do, and probably more
than we should. Governments down the road of all political
stripes-if it's being taken care of and adequately being looked
after through lotteries, the odds of a new government coming in
and saying, "We're going to rejig the finances to do this
differently," is not likely to happen.
Let me respond to that one. We just finished a capital campaign
at our college. We went out and raised money from the private
sector. All colleges have started to do that and universities
have been doing it for eons. One of the really positive things
about going out and fundraising, whether it's knocking on
corporate doors or raising money from foundations or selling
lottery tickets for scholarships, is that you're arguing the case
of your institution. You're creating awareness and knowledge
about the value of post-secondary education. As one of the
co-chairs of our campaign said, "The best thing about the
campaign you've just finished here at Loyalist College is there's
a much better understanding of the value of college education in
Similarly, if a hospital is
selling lottery tickets, when a person buys a lottery ticket they
say: "What's this for? How is the hospital run?" I think there is
some value in that kind of fundraising. Whether it should be 10%,
20% or 50% of the gross revenue of an institution, I have no
idea, but in this particular proposal we're making we're not
talking about a significant proportion of the total cost. We're
talking about just enough to take the edge off the high burden
that students are suffering today.
Christopherson: I'm just so saddened that you're so
excited about the prospect of a lottery taking care of something
that just a few years ago was properly funded. They could also
use more money, but we didn't have this kind of crisis. It really
worries me and disturbs me that you find yourselves in this
position because of the reality you're in and where that will
take us. I've been around long enough at different levels of
government to have a really sickening feeling in my stomach about
what this is. I agree with earlier presenters who said that the
government wants the public education system-this is more
secondary and elementary-to deteriorate, they want the health
care system overall to deteriorate, because then people are more
open-minded to the idea, "Here's a choice for you," you know, the
great democracy card, "This is choice and now you can buy private
health care if you want more, or you can send your children to
private school and get away from what's going on in the public
schools." It's down that slippery slope, and here's a reflection
of that, in my opinion. You wouldn't be here suggesting this if
we were back six, seven, 10 years ago in terms of the kind of
funding that you were receiving versus your needs and those of
Thanks for coming with your presentation, especially after I
heard you making a few comments I guess about a month and a half
ago or thereabouts. I appreciate your journeying down on a rather
slippery road today.
Just hearing from the
opposition, it's obvious that we have had-and I'm thrilled to
hear it-10 years of a perfect world, and as a result of that
perfect world the deficit climbed at a phenomenal rate and the
debt doubled in the first half of the decade. Then they talked
about the shell game.
I'll tell you what the shell game was all about. Back in the late
1980s the Liberals bragged about a balanced budget, and I'll tell
you that was a shell game.
Order. Only one person can speak at a time.
Then in the beginning of the first half of the decade we had a
government that had two sets of books. If you want to talk about
a shell game and playing games-
Christopherson: We didn't hurt kids.
-when you have two sets of books-
Let's have some order, please.
-that is indeed a shell game and one you played very effectively
until we came to office to find out what in fact the deficit
really was. There's just no other way around what was going
Something like the
Millennium fund was made reference to a few minutes ago. Any
savings from that are certainly being reinvested right back in. I
heard Mr Kwinter making many comments about how many times we've
heard it. This is the first time I've been on the committee. It's
the first during these hearings that we've heard of this kind of
approach with a lottery to help students. Congratulations to you
for the idea. I was just checking with my cohort sitting beside
me, Mr Arnott, who's been on this committee before and he has not
heard of this type of a presentation before.
I'm coming around to ask a
question. It has sort of come up before, but is there room out
there in the lottery community? Would one fly at a significant
level? How much room is there out there for one? I don't have a
feeling for that.
Do you mean at the local level?
At the local or provincial level that would support this
philosophy. Have you carried out any investigation into that?
The short answer here is no. I'm of the belief that knowing what
the general public knows about debt, regardless of what political
party we're talking about here and regardless of the significance
of the debt that students carry-the projected costs of education
in the future, I recently read in a Canadian magazine, in the
next 10 years would be $60,000 for a four-year degree program-I
think that there is significant support, if marketed properly
through the OLC, that such a lottery would work and would not
supplant present educational funding in the province.
It would reward excellence
in education, and there is nothing wrong with that. We do it
every day in business and in other enterprises. We reward people
for excellence. The example in the state of Georgia is highly
recognized. Out of the 37, I believe, lotteries functioning in
the United States, it is highly touted as the most successful one
because of how it targets its program. So yes, I believe it would
You make reference to student debt. Add to that another $20,000
for federal debt and another $10,000 for provincial debt, another
$30,000 on to what they come out of college or university with,
and they've got quite a load on their backs.
May I also add too the cost of managing in excess of some $500
million in defaulted loans? What's that cost the province? I'm
not saying this is perfect. I'm not saying this is the absolute
right thing that a person in his normal mind would really want to
do. But the reality here is that there are people in need, and we
as a college are saying that we want to help. There's a mechanism
in place. It's in place in your government. Why can't we make it
work for education?
Molinari: Thank you very much for your presentation.
Since this committee started meeting and hearing presentations, I
don't recall one coming forward that wasn't specifically asking
for money, but this one's coming up with ideas of how to generate
money which I think are good and need to be explored to a certain
You talked about the amount
of debt and you referred to it as a disgrace. I agree that
student debt is a real issue. We've initiated a number of
initiatives to assist students who are in debt. But just for the
record, it needs to be made clear that more than 50% of students
graduate without any student debt, so it's not as bleak as it
appears because there is a good portion of students who actually
don't have the escalating debt.
Also, I want to
congratulate you on your work that you do in colleges, because
the enrolment has been increasing constantly. I think that says
something for the kind of work that you do in the local community
colleges across the province. In all the post-secondary
institutions enrolment is increasing, so students are saying that
there is a real benefit to post-secondary education. Although
there is tuition to pay, a shared responsibility between the
student and the province, in the end that student will be better
off for having sought post-secondary education.
I don't have any specific
questions. I just wanted to congratulate you on your
Could I make one comment? The long-term solution that was
referred to over here-it's not a 100% solution but part of the
solution-is a totally seamless federal-provincial system on a
student loan basis that is based on an income-contingent
repayment plan. I know that people at the provincial level here
have been trying to work at that for a long time, and I know you
have some problems with the federal government on this. I was
part of a major conference three years ago.
Once you get a student loan
scheme that is tied to the taxable income of the individual and
you develop a scheme like that, which is far more equitable,
which allows people-for example, take graduates coming from
colleges and universities. We have graduates who are going out
and doing some of the most important work in this province, and
that is working as early childhood educators. Do you know what
they get paid? Some $12,000 to $14,000 a year. Then we have
graduating electronic engineering technologists starting at
$40,000 to $50,000 a
year. One of the unfair things about that is it costs those two
people exactly the same to go college, right? So if you have in
place an income-contingent repayment plan-which is a long,
long-term goal of mine that I have been arguing for for 10
years-then you allow a much more equitable and fair way.
Maybe this lottery thing
doesn't have to be around forever, maybe for the next five years,
until this income-contingent repayment plan is in place and
working. Maybe this is a way that we can stop the acceleration of
student debt by providing some funding, either at the local level
through a lottery or at the provincial level, until we get a
better solution. I agree that this is not the best solution.
There is a better solution, and I certainly encourage the
province of Ontario to work very hard with the federal government
to bring that plan to fruition as soon as possible.
Gentlemen, on behalf of the committee, thank you very much for
your presentation this afternoon.
ONTARIO SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' FEDERATION,
DISTRICT 26, OCCASIONAL TEACHERS' BARGAINING UNIT
Vice-Chair: I call the next delegation forward: OSSTF
District 26 Occasional Teachers' Bargaining Unit. I see some
familiar faces. Could you state your names for the record. As you
have heard before, a half- hour for presentation and responses
from the three parties divided up, the remainder divided up three
McEwen: As we say in some parts of eastern Ontario, plus
ça change, plus c'est la même chose. My name is John
McEwen. With me are Greg McGillis and Joan Jardin, who you have
seen before. We appear today on behalf of the 200 teachers who
are members of the Occasional Teachers' Bargaining Unit. They of
course replace regular teachers for illness and other
I thank you very much for
permitting me this opportunity to appear and be heard. Such
opportunities are part of what I believe is something quite
necessary to a democracy: a dialogue between those who are
governed and those who do the governing.
I have to begin with a
confession. I am not yet president of the Occasional Teachers'
Bargaining Unit, although he would like me to be. At present, I
am a classroom teacher. I have responsibility for science and
math. I am a parent of adult children. I have had a lifelong
interest in school-to-work transitions. I am currently on the
Eastern Ontario Training Board. Frankly, you are going to hear
all those perspectives. I'm bringing all those persons to the
table, along with my two colleagues.
I'd like very quickly to go
through the numbers. It should be quick because you've probably
seen them all before. Last spring the government announced that
it would spend $13.25 billion in allocations to school boards, or
$6,600 per pupil. That amounts to 3.5% of the provincial gross
domestic product, as it was known in the spring. That is the
lowest percentage since I started tracking in 1991, and the
percentage devoted to this investment has been dropping steadily
I do various comparisons.
I'm the person who does the annual ranking of Ontario in North
America, just in case you want to know where to send the letter
bomb. In the process of doing that I have discovered that again
this year Ontario ranks 55th in North America, and I have a small
chart that shows we have been declining steadily in that regard
in comparison with other jurisdictions in North America since
1992. Further, when this jurisdiction is compared with other
provincial jurisdictions, no other jurisdiction in Canada on a
year-over-year basis, or on an eight-year basis, has had as
severe a reduction in real per pupil expenditures.
Does this matter? I guess I
wouldn't be here if I believed it didn't matter. Money does
matter. It provides up-to-date texts and learning materials, it
can be used to lower class sizes and it can provide specialized
instruction for those who require it. Money helps provide
teachers with time and resources to be effective. I teach 15
minutes away from the New York state border. I am familiar with
the practices of my colleagues in upstate New York. They have
higher salaries, better teaching loads and better working
conditions. Their students have access to better facilities,
additional learning materials, richer educational experiences and
more special support. These things confer advantages on their
students that my students don't have. But frankly, ladies and
gentlemen, this is not about the fact that we don't have the
resources they have in New York state. This is about the fact
that we don't have the resources we used to have.
I'd like to take you
through the first bullet. I'm responsible for science and math.
Each and every one of my science teachers teaches in a room with
28 seats. Each and every one of my science teachers has a class
with more than 28 students in the room. I have two: one with 29
and one with 34. When I attempt to do a lab, I have to be very
careful. Open flame is out, and heat and reactive materials are
out, because they provide a very real risk to the students and
the teacher. As a consequence, there are parts of the curriculum
that we simply can't offer because it's too dangerous.
Departmental budgets are
two thirds of what they were 10 years ago. I can barely cover
photocopy costs and the tax I pay to the principal for central
office functions. I have a list of things that this has meant.
For three years now I've taught a course without a textbook. I
can't afford to buy it. When my teacher colleagues heard I was
coming, they said, "Bring some textbooks to show them." I failed
to do that. Most of our textbooks are rags, and our students have
to rebind them very carefully. When I come to presentations like
this, I steal the pens. I picked up this pencil and you're not
getting it back. I have a whole drawer full of pens I've stolen
from conferences that I use with my students.
Once there were two of us
who had oversight of math and science. Now there's me and I have
no time for it. I have
two brand-new departments; that is, everybody is younger than I
am, they all need mentoring and they're all struggling with this
new curriculum. Frankly, the resource is not there to do the kind
of job that was done for me.
Joan, you wanted to say a
bit about department problems, didn't you?
Jardin: Yes. Certainly the new curriculum-and I have a
great deal of knowledge of the new curriculum, as I was
responsible for a large part of the biology and a large part of
the science, so I know a great deal about what the new curriculum
means and entails-really requires a lot of extra work for the
teachers and certainly for the department heads to provide
leadership and support. The difficulty is compounded by the
reduction in PD days.
The way I relate this to
occasional teachers is that when I started teaching, which was a
little bit ago-
Not as long ago as me.
-we actually were able, because of departmental budgets, because
of budgets in schools, given a need, in order to be innovative,
in order to really coordinate with other teachers and to enhance
what we do in the class, to get occasional teachers in during the
school day so that teachers could work together to share
curriculum, share curriculum ideas, work on team teaching. The
department heads in, I'll say, "the olden days," which means just
a few years ago, six, were able to meet and share and have
reliable occasional teachers in the classroom so that we could
better enhance and better do our job in the classrooms.
You have most of this in front of you, and your reading skills
are at least as good as mine.
I'd like to focus on a
couple of things. First of all, we don't answer the phones at my
school any more; there's nobody to do it because of the clerical
cuts. That's a security issue, but we can't have someone answer
the phone some days. We have teachers who drag themselves in ill
because the money for the supply teacher, the group that I'm
speaking on behalf of, is not there. They stay sicker longer.
They spread their illness to students and to other teachers.
Generally, if a class is served by an on-call teacher, it gets
make-work, whereas in a class taught by a supply teacher there's
a much greater likelihood that they'll get something that's
instructionally appropriate to that point in the curriculum.
The current funding model
requires that teachers in Ontario teach a greater proportion of
the instructional day than any other group of teachers in Canada.
The remainder of that time at school is filled with clerical and
administrative tasks, supervisory duties, lesson preparing and
marking, student assistance, meetings, extracurricular activities
and so forth. Not surprisingly, the teacher day is intense and
long, and there is little time for that most necessary of
activities, quiet reflection and creative thought.
Understandably then, I read
the Stats Canada statistic that says Canadian teachers experience
the greatest amount of overtime of any employee group in Canada
and realize that the teachers in Ontario are probably responsible
to a great extent for that average.
We teachers try to make
things work. As a result, when resources are taken away from us,
when materials and supplies disappear and demands increase, we
try harder to make things work. I'm spending about $20 a week,
ladies and gentlemen, out of my own pocket. I don't like it. I
feel abused. But I am doing it because it's the only way I can
keep my program going.
In the long run, this is
not a viable solution for insufficient funding. We have reached a
point where the continuing or additional resource shortfalls must
result in reduced services, no matter how strong the desire of
teachers to carry on and to do the job properly.
I'd like to add some
context. We have a remarkably successful education system: 81% of
high school graduates go on to post-secondary; 44% go on to
university. An Ontario high school graduate is one and a half
times more likely to go on to university than those from other
parts of Canada. Our graduates are readily accepted throughout
North America and the developed world. When I started teaching,
40% of the students made it to grade 12 and 20% made it to grade
13. It's a remarkable change, and the International Adult
Literacy Survey shows that in fact there has been a comparable
rise in literacy levels in Canada and in Ontario over the same
At the same time, we are
now aware that good education is more important. I list a set of
economic authorities that make exactly that case and the case for
investing more money in education. As the demographics are
shifting, we are moving into certain skill shortages. In my part
of the world, we need to find teachers, we need to find
millwrights, we need to find information technology people, and
all of these things require either good education or good
education and training, and they require the foundation that we
attempt to provide in public education.
I would just add that there is certainly a teacher shortage in a
lot of different subject disciplines. We are having a batch of
students graduating from the faculty of ed in the spring, and if
we cannot guarantee them a full-time job in the Limestone-Upper
Canada school board, it's nice to be able to say that there is
sufficient occasional teaching available to keep them in the area
so that we know we will be able to fit them in whenever we can.
If we are not able to provide them with occasional teaching while
they're waiting or applying and working towards getting a
full-time position, that really is a difficulty and certainly a
reflection of the funding being able to provide for relief
Make no bones about it, this is a brief that argues for
reinvestment in education, particularly at the elementary and
secondary level. As I have written, if we fail to do that while
others around us are doing exactly that, we will have committed
some kind of unilateral disarmament in the economic competition
between our jurisdiction and others.
I'd like to close by reading something that is
the reason I'm here and the reason I'm still a teacher:
"Teaching is more than a
traditional civil service job with a small but steady paycheque.
It's more than a new building or a winning team. It's a
fundamental commitment to the protection of our children's
"Democracies and free
markets rest on the assumption that people are sufficiently
well-educated to make informed decisions at the polls and in the
markets. A nation's continued wellbeing rests on the civility and
creativity of its citizens. Civility is not genetic. Each
generation must learn it anew. It must be modelled by parents and
teachers. Education reform is as much about relationships of
dignity, respect and innovation as it is about systems of bricks,
budgets and mortar."
Although there is a slight
disparagement of budgets in that quote, I believe that citation
is why the community, the government, has to consider
reinvestment. The government has taken on an awesome
responsibility. It controls every aspect of elementary and
secondary education, including how our schools are funded and the
levels of that funding. If the government is to carry out this
responsibility to assure the continued wellbeing of the province,
it must provide for a substantial increase in funds.
Greg would like to close
off with some remarks.
McGillis: I recently had the opportunity to speak to
some health people who went into a school that had some health
and safety issues. They had their usual team that goes into tight
or sick buildings go in and simply do the preliminary analysis to
allow them to begin to analyze why there was a problem in that
school and whether indeed some of the people were getting sick as
a result of various airborne contaminants. The jury is out to
some extent. Nevertheless, the one thing that did come out of it
was that all of them to a man and a woman said they were
surprised at the dynamism and the difficulty of measuring. The
fact was that any one area of the school seemed almost unique in
terms of its ability to either have contaminants or who was there
at any one time and what activities were occurring. They hadn't
actually been in a school to try to do this kind of testing. They
had done testing in almost every other workplace but they had not
done a school and they simply had no way to properly measure what
was going on in that school in terms of contaminants.
One of the reasons is what
I think you see in everything else here. Over the last little
while we've had three different presentations from three
different bargaining units, and we've had other people involved.
The director has dropped by from Upper Canada, and we thank him
very much for doing that. But we want to portray to you the
complexity of what's happening in our schools, that it's not as
simple as cutting one or two budget lines and then you've just
realized half a billion dollars in savings. There's a cost to
that savings, just like there is a cost to spending the money.
Your job ultimately, as you're consulted and help to build the
next budget, is to evaluate those costs. I can tell you those
costs are already very high and that the marginal cost of any
further cuts would be tragic.
We certainly have found
that the twin evils of amalgamation and budget cuts have left us
in some pretty tough territory in our school. I'm constantly told
that it's necessary to cut money. I'm constantly told by various
people that we have to simply tighten our belts.
My brother is an OPP
officer, and we began talking about some of my former students
who are currently some of his clients. They have managed to find
themselves all the way through the system. I did teach a class of
particularly difficult children for two years. I was with these
students all day and every day; in fact, one of the things we
used to do was golf together on the weekend. It was an
all-consuming thing and it was an unusual experience
pedagogically, I have to tell you. Nevertheless, some of those
people are now in custody. That's very unfortunate but what
became clear to him was, he said: "Nevertheless, this is what
we've got and these are the various new programs that we've got
to deal with this. This is how we're dealing with students-or not
students, essentially young offenders and criminals. These are
the kinds of resources we're able to put behind the effort to
catch these people and put them behind bars."
I said, "It would have been
nice if you had caught them at the beginning." That's the
problem. I quote him now directly, and I hope he's not angry
about this, because he's probably going to read this. He's
saying, "Mike Harris has been very good to me and Mike Harris has
been very good to the police across the province." I'd love to be
able to say that and I really can't.
I leave you with that, and
I think we're ready for questions.
Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.
We have just barely three minutes for each caucus, beginning with
Christopherson: Thank you again. We're all getting to be
family here. You mentioned textbooks, and I think, and I'm just
going from memory, you said there are some classes you're
teaching with the new curriculum and you still don't have the
These would have been classes under the old curriculum. I taught
environmental science for three years without a text and I teach
any basic level of science at whatever grade without a text.
Quite frankly, I find the resources where I can. I just don't
have the money to buy textbooks. I have a hit list of students
who have not handed books back, and we go after them like
Christopherson: Did you run into the circumstance,
particularly in the science discipline, of having to buy
textbooks before you saw the curriculum?
That is so. I also had to buy materials before I saw either.
Christopherson: That is such lunacy.
If I may say something about those textbooks, after one semester
the wear on them is equivalent to 10 years of wear on my senior
physics textbooks. They're not going to last.
I just want to add to it, giving a different district's
viewpoint. I also am a science and math teacher, and I have been
head of both the science department and the math department when
they were separate. They both are certainly very unique
departments. But there is very little money for textbooks and
with the new curriculum it is very difficult in schools, because
even if you know that you're going to have a new curriculum in
three years, there just isn't enough money now if you're thinking
about where you're going to allocate money. In the long term,
because we're thinking three years even, it's not worthwhile
buying textbooks for those students, so for three years that's
going to be a difficulty. It's not just, "OK, next year we're
getting new textbooks"; we hope to get new textbooks with the new
curriculum, but it's three years in the future.
Christopherson: This is another perk of being one of the
double cohort if they're captured within that group.
It's with the changing curriculum. As I've explained, I have a
great knowledge of the new curriculum in both math and science
and there has been some support with the new curriculum.
Unfortunately, the fact that we've had a curriculum and this year
it's been the present curriculum for 10 to OAC, that's actually
kind of been lost in the funding all together.
Molinari: Thank you very much for your presentation.
I've enjoyed hearing the various presentations, although some of
the faces are the same at the table.
I just want to first
clarify some of the comments you made and then ask for your
feedback on how it specifically affected the board you're with,
because we're hearing from the teacher representatives and we're
not hearing from the actual board about the funding and that
there isn't enough money.
The new funding model was
to provide equitable funding for all the students in the province
of Ontario. The previous funding model allowed more dollars to go
to boards which were rich in assessment and those that were poor
in assessment did not receive the same dollars for the students.
The foundation grant was based on the average per pupil
expenditure of all the boards in the province of Ontario.
Granted that some boards
were spending below that and some boards were spending above
that. Those that were spending below actually got more money for
their per pupil. Those that were spending above obviously had to
come down. And then there were mitigation grants that were also
given to boards to provide for some of the difficulties in
reaching that per-pupil spending if they were spending above. I
don't have the specifics of how the board that you represent
works, but I would like your feedback on it.
Also, classroom education
spending, the intent was that more money would be going directly
into the classroom instead of being spent in other areas. I know
that the issue of classroom spending is still being discussed and
debated as to what's actually classroom spending and what's
actually spending that supports the classroom and so directly
benefits the student in the long run. There is still discussion
Previously, one of the
presenters was talking about special education and mentioned
that, from her knowledge, there was less being spent in special
education in every category. I would ask why are you not going to
the board and demanding that at least the board spend the money
they receive for special education on special education?
Actually, three parts from that: I do want to let you know that
our director of education has written a letter to the government,
stating the difficulties with the funding formula and many of the
points were incorporated with these briefs. I want to once again
say that certainly with the Limestone board it's not the teachers
having a different viewpoint or very different from the
Something that's very
interesting to me is that before what you call equitable funding
was put in, I was in a poll. I was actually one of the people who
was polled. When I was asked, "Should there be equitable funding,
should there be funding for everyone?" I never in my dreams
thought it would be brought down. I don't know why. When I was
answering the questions I thought, "Yes, let's bring everything
up to the highest denominator," and I don't know why. I assumed
naïvely, but that's when I was answering the questions, yes.
So "equitable" pretty well means going down. It certainly has
been for our board.
You mentioned the
mitigation grants. That's been tenuous and from year to year we
don't know whether we have it or not. We cannot even make with
the Limestone board an imaginary prediction of what our funding
is going to be for next year. It's already February and our
school year starts in September.
Vice-Chair: I think we'll have to move on to the
official opposition caucus. I gave an extra minute there because
you were really wound up.
Phillips: Just a comment first: I've been struck by a
couple of government documents that are circulated on Why Ontario
is the place to invest and why businesses should be here. The two
major reasons are our health care system, publicly funded and
accessible to everyone, and our education system. In fact, as you
know, this is a document the government sent to us on Why
Ontario. It points out: "The United Nations human development
program ranked Canada number one in its human development index
for the sixth straight year."
What does the index
measure? You already know this, but it measures life expectancy
at birth, which is how we deal with expectant parents and things
like that, adult literacy, educational enrolment and real per
capita gross domestic product-four measurements, two of which are
educational in nature.
It is odd that the thing
that sets us apart, both in terms of a measurement of the quality
of life and the two things that apparently are the key reasons
why companies should
invest in Ontario, are the two things that are under attack:
health care and education. This is as much a statement as a
question for you. But we've heard from many of the presenters
that we have to harmonize our taxes with the US. The trucking
industry believes we've got to have the same taxes on a variety
of things as the neighbouring jurisdictions. The high-tech people
say we've got to get our income tax down to the same level as the
US. I think it was the real estate people who were saying we've
got to get our property taxes to the same level. We've got to get
our corporate taxes to the same level.
We are under enormous
pressure to get taxes to the same level or lower than the US, but
the two key reasons why we are unique and why this is the best
place in the world to live and the best place in the world to
invest can only be funded by adequate resources, from wherever
they come. Tragically, we heard earlier that a college feels
we've got to get into the lottery business to fund colleges. We
see right now that the government's introducing 10,000 slot
machines that will take $1 billion out of taxpayers' pockets.
Every penny of the tax cut is going to go back into the slot
machines. It will be different people playing them. That billion
dollars is after winnings, by the way.
Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Phillips. Your three
minutes are up.
Thank you for your
presentation. We very much appreciate it.
The standing committee on
finance and economic affairs is now adjourned. We'll reconvene in
Chatham on February 14 at 9 am in the Wedgwood Room, Best Western