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)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines L)
Mr Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre / -Centre ND)
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls PC)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Tom Prins
Staff / Personnel
Mr David Rampersad, researcher,
Research and Information Services
The committee met at 0850 in Renaissance
Fallsview Hotel, Niagara Falls.
PROVINCIAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN OF ONTARIO
NIAGARA SARC NETWORK
The Chair (Mr Marcel
Beaubien): I'd like to bring the committee to order this
morning. Good morning everyone. It would appear that Mr Mike
Allan has not appeared yet. Consequently, we'll go to our second
presenter this morning, the representative from the Niagara SARC
Network. Could you please state your name for the record.
Janes: My name is Gracia Janes. I am presenting two
briefs. I'm the chair of the Niagara SARC Network, and have been
for 12 years. I'm also the incoming president of the Provincial
Council of Women of Ontario. I'm going to split my time, if you
don't mind, between the two presentations.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your
presentations this morning.
Thank you very much. I'll deliver my brief from the Provincial
Council of Women of Ontario first. This was prepared by myself
and the vice-president of community services, environment,
economics and housing.
Founded in 1923, the
Provincial Council of Women of Ontario represents hundreds of
thousands of citizens and a broad diversity of interests within
its affiliated groups, namely, local councils and provincially
organized societies. The local councils, some established as
early as 1894 and comprised of a broad range of affiliates, are
found in the major urban centres of London, Ottawa, Toronto, St
Catharines, Hamilton and Windsor. The POSs number 11 and
represent groups as diverse as the Business and Professional
Women's Clubs of Ontario, the Ontario Farm Women's Network and
the Salvation Army, Ontario central division.
Council policy is developed
through a democratic and extensive resolution process and, once
approved, becomes the basis of PCWO's dialogue with the
government and the broader public. In this regard, PCWO has an
extensive history of speaking to all public issues as they relate
to the good of society and the family, using the precautionary
principle, and with a view to the best interests of present and
future citizens of Ontario.
As well, we are bound by
national and international council policy and therefore we look
to the very much wider public good. It is within these parameters
that the PCWO speaks today on the issues before us regarding
public social infrastructure expenditures, ie, for the public
Investment in long-term
returns has always been considered basic common sense. Failure to
do so brings greater long-term costs, ie, if one's roof needs
repairs this year and one does not do it, the damage will be
greater and more costly down the road. We consider that the
social structure of Ontario needs investment in some areas and
repair in others, or we will have greater costs in the long
Investing in children: One
example of far-sighted investment, which we commend highly, is
that planned by the government for early child development, in
co-operation with all sectors. This investment should bring
excellent long-term benefits. Nevertheless, as the government's
own Early Years Study points out, many in our province find it
difficult to provide the proper nurturing and stimulating
environment for their children, because they are not getting
enough to eat and they are wondering whether they will be evicted
from their homes.
PCWO feels that this
difficult situation is caused, for those on social assistance, by
inadequate social assistance benefits. Recipients should not have
to choose between paying the rent and feeding the kids. As we
have done before, we urge you to improve your social assistance
rates in order to avoid heavy long-term costs in terms of health,
social dysfunction and delinquency, and to make investments in
the nurturing and education of children and the stability of the
Child care: Child care is
essential to the 70% of mothers who are in the paid workforce and
it is in desperately short supply. Many mothers cannot get off
welfare, even though a job is waiting, because no suitable child
care space is available. We urge you to reverse your reduction in
funding child care, which has placed an additional burden on the
municipalities and the families who need that child care.
While many mothers use
informal care, some of which is first-rate and others not,
studies have shown that children and parents do better with
children in quality child
care. Therefore, we urge you to fund more such spaces. As well,
some mothers would like to have child care in the workplace and
some employers have responded to this need. We encourage you to
work with employers to provide more such facilities, perhaps with
Another idea to consider is
job-sharing. When both parents are working part-time, the need
for child care is much reduced, if not eliminated. There is also
greater flexibility for workers to take retraining and upgrading
courses that contribute to the maintenance of a workforce geared
to make use of the latest technology and shifts in product
demand. The initial cost to employers of providing benefit
packages for two sets of workers is recuperated from
Housing: In the current
booming economy, vacancy rates are low, affordable rental housing
is scarce, private investors are not building affordable housing
and economic evictions have increased. Tragically, many families
end up in shelters, a terrible environment for children.
Therefore, we urge you to increase the shelter component of
social assistance benefits so that parents can avoid ending up in
a downward spiral to homelessness.
In the case of the working
poor, we consider a return to funding social housing, in
co-operation with other levels of government, to be the best
long-term investment, rather than shelter allowances which could
prove to be a bottomless pit. Additionally, we urge you not to
try to balance the budget in part by selling off scattered
provincially owned houses, which offer desperately needed
rent-to-income housing. Rather, transfer them to the
municipalities, which you have made responsible for social
We commend the government for
making some initial investments to reduce homelessness. In
addition, we urge you to move further in providing more
supportive housing, harm reduction programs and supportive
efforts for those with addiction problems, as well as finding
solutions to the growing problem of youth on the street, which
can have long-term and expensive consequences.
Investments in jobs, training
and supports: We are pleased that the vibrant economy has meant
that many workers have left welfare and many now move directly
from EI to jobs. This means that those left on welfare have more
barriers to finding jobs. Therefore, these clients require more
work by the municipal social service departments, to find them
the right training, education and supports so they may
successfully achieve a transition to work. We urge you to reward
municipalities for their success in moving clients into jobs and
on to the provincial tax rolls, rather than penalizing them for
failing to meet unrealistic community placement targets.
In the same way, PCWO urges
the government to consider the advantages of allocating funding
to programs that result in long-term return of funding that
exceeds their original investment. One such initiative would be
training programs that are organized in many units of small size
and specific detailed curricula and which provide knowledge and
skills that are in demand by employers and are flexible enough to
respond to changes in demand. Those given this type of help will
be valuable taxpaying citizens for a long time.
We would also urge the
government to consider the problems of the many hard-working
people who have moved from welfare to work in a minimum wage
economy and find their situation precarious because of a lack of
discretionary benefits previously provided to the working poor,
such as drug cards. The Trillium plan requires upfront money
which they do not have. Because of this, many may end up back on
welfare and we urge you to reinvest in discretionary benefits for
this hardworking group.
Health: In tune with most
citizens of Ontario, health remains a significant priority for
PCWO. It is obvious that, despite some government reinvestments
recently to stem the most current and obvious problems, the
substantive cuts to health funding early on, combined with a
growing and aging population, have led to a crisis in service
delivery. This may well jeopardize the future of health care in
Ontario and lead ultimately to a two-tier, privatized service
delivery model. Rather than allow this unfortunate result, PCWO
urges the government once more to invest in long-term preventive
solutions, such as quality health care within the system, funding
of community care, increased numbers of nurses, avoidance of
premature hospital discharges, funding and standards for home
care and an adequate number of acute, long-term-care and ALC,
Environment: In the interests
of public health and safety, PCWO environment policy has long
advocated strict environmental regulation, monitoring and
enforcement and investments in safer, more sustainable renewable
energy. Therefore, we are drawing attention to three current
issues of critical importance, where investments could be made to
improve the environment and reduce long-term costs to the
citizens of Ontario, ie, improvements in the monitoring and
enforcement of environmental statutes and regulations, the
phase-out of coal as an electricity source and the eventual
phase-out of nuclear power-starting with the final closure of the
Pickering A and Bruce A nuclear plants-all with a view to
reinvestment of savings in renewable energy sources .
We recommend these
investments in light of our knowledge that extensive cutbacks to
the Ministry of the Environment's operating budget have seriously
undermined the monitoring and enforcement that district and
regional offices can deliver and the quality of our environment
suffers. The use of coal has resulted in significant decline in
air quality, an increase in health risks, and incidents in
high-risk populations such as children, and has undermined the
province's efforts to contribute to Canada's Kyoto commitment;
and the use of nuclear has left the citizens of Ontario with an
enormous and growing debt and a significant environmental
In the case of coal, we would
recommend a two-year phase-out, in favour of more inexpensive,
indigenous Ontario sources such as renewables and gas. We draw
your attention to the
uncounted health and environmental costs and to the costs of
importing coal. As well, promotion of renewables will stimulate
small business in Ontario and help create leading-edge
technologies for export around the world.
With regard to nuclear power,
the 1997 shutdown of the Pickering A and Bruce A nuclear stations
was due to documented serious deficiencies and dangers in
operation. Pickering residents have demanded a complete
environmental assessment before the start-up of Pickering A.
Plant upgrades have cost millions more for taxpayers and the
extraordinary cost of waste management has recently been added to
the picture, with the producers of waste having to pay for their
disposal. No matter who owns the nuclear plants in the future,
the costs of waste disposal and the debt incurred by investment
in this technology will have to be paid by the taxpayer, either
through our taxes or our hydro costs. The costs of any further
investment in nuclear could be better put towards renewable
Education: Council is on
record as supporting the funding of kindergarten and separating
social assistance payments from OSAP loans so that eligible women
can receive both in order that they may be encouraged to continue
their education without incurring such heavy debt. This is
especially important for low-income women on assistance in a time
when the tuition fees for colleges and universities have risen
We have also expressed
concerns in our annual 1999 brief to government regarding the
controversies centred around the crucial issues of class size,
increased teaching time load, reduced supports for special needs
students, the one-size-fits-all funding formula and the need for
investment in community support programs for children, eg,
breakfast programs and after-school care in school.
In conclusion, the Provincial
Council of Women of Ontario again asks for a significant
investment in our children and their families in areas such as
early years programs, child care, income adequacy, jobs, social
housing, the health delivery system and our environment. Only by
investing in what is good for the lives of the citizens of
Ontario may we avoid a deterioration in all of these areas of the
common good and, instead, look forward to a sustainable
I'll move right into my other
presentation, if you don't mind. They're somewhat similar.
This is a presentation to the
standing committee on finance and economic affairs from the
Niagara SARC Network, a coalition of individuals, community
groups and agencies, such as the Niagara South Social Safety
Network and the St Catharines and District Council of Women, who
have monitored welfare changes since 1988 and advocated for
change in the spirit of the reforms of the 1998 Social Assistance
Reform Commission of Judge George Thomson. That's what the SARC
stands for, Social Assistance Reform and we've been at it that
Given the booming economy in
Ontario, the Niagara SARC Network believes the government of
Ontario should now make a significant investment in the poorest
people, ie, those citizens who, through no fault of their own,
require social assistance or are among the working poor.
Failing this, their living
conditions and quality of life will continue to deteriorate. The
government will not capitalize on their long-term potential and
willingness to contribute to the economy and society, and we will
all have to pay for the unnecessary and substantive social
deficit in the very near future.
Children are important. The
canaries are the poor children who live in extremely difficult
conditions in this very prosperous province. While most of us
have continued to enjoy a very decent lifestyle, poor children
and their families have lost ground. This has come about as a
result of a substantive 21.6% reduction in welfare benefits, an
abandonment of investments in social housing, the tightening of
rules to disallow the working poor and to force people off
welfare into low-paying jobs which fail to adequately support
them, the clawback of the child tax benefit, and the cuts to many
community and municipal support services, for example,
Approximately one in five
children in Canada lives in a poor family, one in three in
Toronto is poor, and over 48% of those on social assistance in
Ontario are children. It is well documented that children who are
poor suffer much more from illness and suicide, the related costs
of which can only continue to grow in the years ahead.
These seem obvious outcomes
of going hungry and perhaps having more than one move in a year,
or living in unsafe, inappropriate housing-motels-or being raised
by parents who are tired, hungry and stressed from trying to make
meagre ends meet.
Such living conditions are
worsened by the social stigma of not being able to participate
fully in their school and community life and by having their
schoolmates know they are poor. For to be a poor child on social
assistance in Ontario is by default to be stigmatized as part of
a family who could be cheating Ontarians out of tax dollars, even
though less than 1% are ever proven to cheat.
To be such a child is to be
at risk of having one's parents cut off welfare forever. For some
of us in the social advocacy field, even one child suffering in
this way is too many, and for many Ontario citizens there is a
sense of disquiet.
The adequacy of benefits will
stem the poverty tide and prevent ever-escalating health and
social costs. At the bottom of the disturbing trend to
ever-deepening levels of poverty is the obvious inadequacy of
welfare benefits. It is said that Ontario benefits remain, on
average, 10% higher than the benefits of the other nine
provinces. This avoids the issue that the benefits are inadequate
across the country and that in Ontario, despite our productive
economy, we do not give enough assistance to adequately feed and
house people, much less pay for things most people would agree
are essential, such as transportation, phone, and unexpected
A recent regional document, Impact of Nutritious
Food Basket Survey and Impact on Ontario Works Participants and
Low Income Earners, takes a conservative look at the costs of a
healthy diet and finds that for those on assistance:
"At the beginning of a given
month, after food and shelter is paid, single adults on social
assistance can expect to be in a deficit situation, assuming
adequate dollars are spent on healthy foods.... It is evident,
from the attached samples, that current provincially mandated
social assistance rates are inadequate when a Nutritional Food
Basket budget is used by low-income individuals and families and
the basic necessities of daily living are considered."
People are in a Catch-22
situation. If they buy a nutritious meal-and this is not
extravagant, being only $22 per week per adult and $19 per
child-they may have difficulty paying the rent. If they pay
market rents, which in Niagara range on average from $425 for a
single person, who gets approximately $571, with tax rebates, to
$725 for a family of four, who receive $1,475.94, with tax
rebates, they will have paid over 50% of income in rent-74% for
singles-and have little left for nutritious food, clothing and
other necessities. In fact, the single person is in a deficit
position of $13.63 and has no money for transportation, phone
etc. If one excludes the tax credits, he or she is in a deficit
position of $64.69. Without the tax credit, the family has only
$45 extra for transportation and other costs.
It is also often asserted
that people on assistance may earn back the difference in the
1995 cut. This does not account for the single parents of
children under school age and avoids an obvious chicken-and-egg
scenario. For instance, in the case of a single person, how can
they find a job easily with no money for phone or transportation,
much less emergencies? For single parents, how do they cope if
sickness hits? There is no security of person or family, and this
feeds into any existing health or mental health problems,
creating an even more desperate situation.
An additional problem lies in
the fact that those on assistance nowadays are those who need far
more support than in the past before they are able to enter the
workforce. They are not on the top of an employer's list to
These facts beg the question:
Why won't the province invest in adequate rates when such an
investment will help people find and keep adequate, affordable
housing, avoid food banks, get jobs, pay taxes, move money into
local economies and prevent a growing social and health
Jobs, training and community
supports do lead to long-term jobs. Key to the welfare of many
families is having a good job. Here in Niagara, the economy has
had its share of bad times, due mainly to the severe downsizing
of GM and related jobs. Today, with the economy on an upturn, our
unemployment rate in Niagara, at 7%, is higher than both the
provincial rate and the national rate, and we have the
eighth-highest unemployment rate-next to Saint John, New
Recent job cuts at GM and
related industries probably account for this, and it means we
have not yet recovered as well as most other cities. Also, many
of the laid-off workers are older and find it more difficult to
find employment that pays as well. We have many immigrants who,
while skilled, cannot easily overcome technical barriers to
employment in their trade.
It appears also that some
workers are underemployed and may have given up looking for work.
This is reflected by the participation rate, which at 60.4% lags
behind Ontario at 65.9% and Canada at 64.8%. All of these are
much lower participation rates than in the 1960s and 1970s.
Despite the recent upturn in
the economy, there are a substantive number of low-paying
part-time jobs in Niagara. An additional difficulty faced by
workers who are laid off is the reduction in the EI payments, the
much shortened payout period, and the difficulties in qualifying.
This all means there are many people struggling to make ends
meet. Prior to 1995, these families could benefit from social
assistance supports such as drug cards and a top-up to their
paycheques. Now the tightened eligibility rules have shut them
out, and it is difficult for the region to assist, given its
For those still on social
assistance, there are multiple barriers to employment, such as
lack of experience and education. In addition, many lack cars, a
necessity in an area where inter-city transportation is almost
Prior to 1995, the regional
community services department had a very good track record of job
placement, even in the down years of 1990 and 1991. Today, in
contrast to the temp-job-type agencies which provide short-term
jobs and get tax dollars for the assistance money saved, the
regional community services department is working hard to provide
clients with the individualized, sometimes longer-term supports
that are needed to move them into real jobs. In this, they are
fortunate that in Niagara we have many community agencies with a
long tradition and good track record of pre-employment support
programs; for example, the Employment Help Centre, the YWCA, and
On the other hand, the
Ontario Works community placement targets are unrealistic and the
placements short-term in nature. More important, most community
agencies are unwilling to supervise people who have to work for
their welfare. As private placements are coming on line, public
money is just subsidizing jobs that the private sector should and
would create in the course of business. In this context, it would
seem to make sense for the government to invest in employment
supports provided by the region and community agencies at an
individualized level. This way, having been better educated in a
job-specific way and linked to employers who have certain
needs-for example, tourism and small business-people may move
into long-term jobs. A further wise investment would be to support the
cost of transition to employment, ie, to support those who get a
job so that they may keep it. Enhanced health and social services
save money in the lonq run.
As stated in the regional
document COM 68-99 in Niagara:
"There has been a significant
increase in the sole-support parent caseload, as the FBA clients
have transferred over to Ontario Works. There are now 4,800
sole-support parent families with 7,000 children in receipt of
require a combination of supports, in order to become independent
of the welfare system, for example, accessible and affordable
child care, transportation, job referrals, educational upgrading,
employment experience, and job preparation courses."
Along with an increase in
staff and other new supports for this caseload, the regional
staff looked into the internationally recognized work of Dr Gina
Browne of McMaster University, which provided strong evidence
that "Providing additional health and social services to mothers
of social assistance families and making quality child care and
recreation services available pays for itself in a relatively
short time and produces more permanent beneficial outcomes in
families at risk."
Regional staff concluded
that, "The foregoing findings indicate that positive outcomes may
be achieved for sole-support parents and their children by
providing increased health and social services. By providing
increased health and social services, families do better in the
short term and in the long term the number of exits from the
social assistance system are increased. In addition, these
interventions produce beneficial outcomes for families at
It is clear that such
investments would benefit many sole-support parent families
across Ontario and help people into the workforce for the long
We note that child care is
often a key support for sole-support parents. In Niagara, the
switchover of parents from FBA to Ontario Works has resulted in a
waiting list, and parents would prefer to have their children in
quality child care. The recent provincial disinvestment in child
care means the region must take on yet another expense if they
wish to support parents adequately and help them into the job
Housing helps everyone:
Investment and housing benefit everyone-the poor, the working
poor, the builder, the community and the general economy.
Just prior to 1995, social
housing starts were on the upswing in Niagara, with many builders
benefiting from turnkey arrangements whereby they had the help of
provincial investments in building affordable units and then
turned these over to the non-profit and co-operative boards to
operate. Supportive housing was moving forward, and social
assistance adequacy meant that more people could find and
maintain housing for longer periods.
Unfortunately, just as the
federal government withdrew from most of its commitments to
housing, the provincial government halted all planned new
non-profit housing units, and there has been little action by the
private sector to fill the gap.
As well, the Tenant
Protection Act has allowed more conversions of affordable
apartments to condominiums and for landlords to raise rents to
market levels when tenants move out. Most recently, there is a
fear that the Ontario Housing units may be sold, further reducing
the affordable housing stock.
The 1995 cuts to the maximum
shelter allowance for social assistance recipients have
exacerbated this extremely difficult situation. As we have noted
above, most poor people are paying far too much for their rent
and have little left over for necessities. They are living in
crowded and unsuitable conditions, moving frequently, being
evicted in growing numbers, and some, even with children, using
hostels on a regular basis.
Our conclusions are that the
Niagara SARC Network urges this committee to recommend
substantive investments in this year's provincial budget in the
area of social welfare. We hope these would include an increase
in the social assistance rate-both basic and shelter
components-to 1995 levels, plus an increase to reflect the rate
of inflation since then; the retention by those on social
assistance of the child tax benefit; investments in social and
co-operative housing and no sale of public units; increased
health and social services for sole-support parents; investments
in child care; and increased funding of municipal and community
pre- and post-employment supports for social assistance
Thank you very much. Maintaining the same rotation we had
yesterday, I'll start with the government side. We have two
minutes per caucus.
Mr Bart Maves
(Niagara Falls): Thank you for your presentation this
morning. One of the things that you talked about near the end was
social assistance rates. They're about 10% higher, in some cases,
than the average in the other provinces right now. So you would
advocate putting them back by 22% plus inflation for the last
Yes, I would.
Mr Maves: So
we'd be about 50% above the average of the other provinces?
Ms Janes: I
think if you work out the mathematics-I haven't worked out the
math of what they would be above. What did you say, 15%?
Probably between 40% and 50% above the average of the other
I'm not sure that that would be. I'd have to work it out. But
what I would say, again, is that the amounts that people get
across the country aren't adequate amounts of money.
I've asked this question of
many people: How much would you need, if you were a single person
in Toronto, or even in Niagara, to live on? Given that you didn't
own a house or anything and you didn't have a car, what would it
cost you? They always say, "About $1200 is what I would need to
Can you tell me what they earn?
Ms Janes: -and they get $520.
Can you tell me what the earn-back program is in welfare?
Yes, I can, and I've pointed out the problem with it. It helps
some people, yes. But for young women who are on social
assistance who have children who are not in school, that's a
problem. The other problem is that they just don't have enough to
get by even if they are keeping some of their wages, because they
have to have transportation, they have to pay for their phone-it
just doesn't work out that smoothly.
How about the STEP program?
The STEP program is fine, and the LEAP program is fine, and all
these programs that help people. But the basic rate-and it is
said by many people and it is being experienced by children up
north who came down to Toronto to show how little they had, that
they couldn't participate in their school programs. All the other
kids in the class could participate; they went hungry. People are
going hungry, and it is because the social assistance rate is too
Mr Maves: We
have workfare, earnfare and learnfare. The community placements
portion has been one of the most successful, actually, in taking
people who have had placements and who then move from the
placements into work. We've just announced some changes where we
want at least 15% of people's caseloads in community placements,
next year 22.5%, and the next year 30%. As a result of those
changes, where we only had eight municipalities out of 47 at 15%,
we now have two thirds that are going to hit that 15% mark. You
still don't approve of that, I take it?
It's easy to say. It has actually been an abysmal failure. You
had across the province something like 5% of the people in these
kinds of placements and your targets were well above that. So
most municipalities have not been making them. I doubt very much,
if they don't make those targets, that they're going to make
Thank you very much-
But two thirds are on track to make-
Mr Maves, we've run out of time. I have to go to the
Mr Monte Kwinter
(York Centre): Thank you very much for your
presentation. It was excellent in that you covered an incredible
range of issues.
One thing stuck out, and I
wanted to get your reaction to it. When the House was in session
we raised a question about a woman who had a double mastectomy
and was sent home the same day. When I listened to it and when I
told people about it, they were absolutely shocked and said,
"That's just terrible, but it most have been a unique situation."
Last night I talked to my wife and she told me of a friend of
ours who is going into the hospital on Friday to have a double
mastectomy and is being sent home the same day. I thought, "This
is becoming the norm." I was just curious to know, because you
talk about the avoidance of premature hospital discharges where
people are going home sicker and quicker, how you feel about
In our brief to the government this fall, we commended them for
allowing first-time mothers of babies to stay in the hospital
longer. We had word, and people's personal experiences indicated,
that prior to that announcement mothers were having to go back
into the hospital-and this is just one example-if they were sent
home too soon. It seemed to make sense to us, and we urged the
government to look at other people leaving the hospital and the
kinds of costs that are involved in people going home and then
having to come back to the hospital with complications, not to
mention all the personal trauma.
When I think of all those
women who are going down to Buffalo-I had a lumpectomy and
radiation and had to wait about six weeks. But I can't imagine a
mother with children and responsibilities who lives up north
having to travel distances and stay away from her family for the
length of time that I had to stay. I really empathize with that
The council of women feels
strongly that preventive measures are very important, that one
doesn't just rush people out the door. It doesn't save any money
and we're very concerned about it.
Mr Peter Kormos
(Niagara Centre): A part of me wants to give up my two
minutes for Mr Maves to ask you more questions, but I'm going to
resist that temptation.
Come on, Peter. I'll take them.
At your peril. Be careful what you wish for, Mr Maves.
In response to this whole
issue around welfare rates and the cost of housing, my personal
experience and my familiarity with the region are such that your
figures on page 2 about rental costs, accommodation costs, are
probably dead on, and significantly lower than what they would be
in Toronto or other major cities where housing costs are
The other thing that
bothers me is that when I come to these committees or to the
Legislature, the minimum wage in the Legislature for elected
officials is $78,000 a year. That doesn't apply to the staff, and
my apologies to them. Most elected officials make in excess of
$78,000 a year. So I'm always bothered by people who are probably
in at least the top 10%, if not smaller, of Canadian income
earners-and at $78,000 the fact is you are-talking about my
neighbours, my family, my friends, our children, our sisters and
brothers, our parents living on those social assistance rates
with what are the real housing costs here.
You mentioned the risk of
selling off the public housing in Niagara, and I don't think it's
a risk any more as much as something that's increasingly etched
in stone. What is going to happen to those families-we have
hundreds of families across Niagara living in public housing,
rent geared to income-where are those people going to go? Do we
Ms Janes: No, we don't know,
actually. We know that people are paying far too much for their
rent and they're struggling to find accommodation they can
afford. This will only make the situation worse.
My fear is that we're going to see the enhanced phenomenon of
real homelessness-not television homelessness, real
homelessness-among a whole new sector of our community. A lot of
these people are kids and a lot of these people are persons with
I guess what we may see, which seems foreign to us here in
Niagara, are the kinds of situations you have in Toronto where
recent reports indicate there are more children in hostels.
Children-quite inappropriate, very sad.
It's hard when I've dealt
with so many issues, but I really would like to highlight two:
One is the inadequacy, because all of the regional social
services across the province are saying exactly the same thing,
that the rates are not adequate and that people are going hungry.
Mothers are giving up food so that children can eat, and children
are going hungry. There is evidence with Dr Gina Browne's
study-it's an internationally renowned study. There's a news
article-I meant to get copies for you-that to get moms off
welfare you have to invest in them. Education is needed, the
long-term supports, and you need to do a good job so that when
they have proven-the facts are there that if you invest in these
mums, then they will get jobs. The jobs will be long-term, and
the money will go back into the economy, the local economy
particularly. The children will not go hungry and the children
will be better off.
Investment is really
important. You can cut as much as you want and down the road
you're going to have all these costs. The costs are also
documented. Children who live in poverty have higher suicide
rates, have higher sickness rates, hospital entry rates,
everything. I don't think you can avoid it much longer.
With that, we've run out of time. On behalf of the committee,
thank you very much for your presentation this morning.
ST CATHARINES AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL
Our next presentation this morning is from the St Catharines and
District Labour Council. Could you please come forward and state
your name for the record.
Gould: Good morning. My name is Ed Gould. I'm president
of the St Catharines and District Labour Council.
On behalf of the committee, welcome.
I handed out this short brief here.
With the strong state of
the Ontario economy at the present, there's falling unemployment
and there are continued relatively low interest rates. This is
good news for provincial finances. Tax revenues are growing
automatically and relatively painlessly as the economy grows.
This leaves more room for spending on essential programs like
It is very interesting to
note that provincial tax revenues actually increased slightly as
a share of Ontario's gross national product between 1995-96, when
the Tories were elected, and 1998-99, despite the deep cut in
personal income taxes. In 1995-96, provincial taxes equalled
11.2% of the gross national product, while in 1998-99 they
equalled 11.7%. Rising corporate taxes and sales tax revenue
offset the relative fall in personal income taxes. In essence,
overall taxes haven't been cut under the Tories, but the tax
system has become relatively less fair since personal income
taxes, which were the fairest type of taxes, have been cut.
What I'm trying to say here
is that the people with the highest incomes are getting the
biggest tax cuts. Obviously that's not fair to the citizens of
Ontario or the region or St Catharines.
It is wrong to claim that
there's strong growth in Ontario as a result of the Harris tax
cuts. Other provinces, like Quebec, have also had very strong
growth. The stimulative effect of the Harris cuts was mostly
offset by the effects of reductions in public spending. We've
seen this throughout the province, with cuts in education, cuts
in health care, cuts to social programs. Obviously it's making
the numbers look good.
The main factors explaining
Ontario's growth over the last two years are continued relatively
low interest rates, strong exports to the US and, since about
1998, deep government spending cuts. Again, when you're closing
hospitals, closing schools, closing beds, cutting social
services, taking the money out of the system and keeping it in
the banks, obviously things will look good.
Ontario's government will
have ample resources with which to make necessary reinvestments
in health care, education, early childhood development and social
welfare. In essence what we're saying here is that rather than
have tax cuts for the rich and the corporations, we're asking
that the citizens of Ontario share in this basic growth in
Ontario, with spending on health care, education, child poverty
etc. The government of the day has had a dismal record. They're
too busy keeping the squeegee kids off the streets in
Provincial program spending
has declined by about one seventh as a share of the provincial
economy since 1995, from 14% of the gross domestic product to 12%
by last year. The long-run consequences of this withdrawal by the
provincial government from our social and economic lives are
becoming more evident every day. As we can see, hospitals are in
crisis, public schools are crumbling and there is widespread
poverty. Again, let's reflect on the poverty in this province.
One of the richest provinces in Canada has one of the highest
poverty rates for children. It becomes more desperate even as the
The government should
cancel the next proposed instalments of personal tax reductions
and channel the additional funds into emergency investments in
health care, education and other essential services.
The government's own budget papers from last year
show the lopsided effects of those tax cuts; see pages 76 to 83
of the 1999 Ontario budget. A family with an annual income of
$180,000 saves over $10,000 per year thanks to the tax cuts. A
senior couple with an income of $47,000-that's two people-saves
$1,500 per year. Lower-income Ontarians save even less because
they paid little or no provincial tax in the first place.
Obviously, you can see it's not a fair system.
Ontario has never before
seen anything like it: hospitals closed; ambulances on redirect;
patients piled up in emergency wards, unable to get a bed;
thousands of staff, upon whom patients rely, gone; thousands of
beds closed; length of stay cut to the bone, forcing patients out
of hospital quicker and sicker than ever before. I just heard the
presentation before this and I heard one of the MPPs state that
there is indeed a crisis in the hospitals in this province. The
government plans to close more than 3,500 beds, with vital
services contracted out to the private, for-profit sector, and on
and on it goes. It has been an unprecedented four years of
turmoil. People have been harmed. Some have died. There was
evidence of that in the Toronto newspapers, with ambulances
reshuffling patients from hospital to hospital. It's just
terrible the things that are happening in this province.
The tragedy didn't just
happen this way; it was planned. The government refused to
listen. It was told time and time again not to proceed with its
plans to close hospitals unless and until home care and other
services and sectors were properly funded and in place to provide
care for us. But the government was so intent on cutting health
care to afford its tax cuts, it ignored many of the voices and
warnings. As a result, our once first-class hospital system is a
nightmare for many who rely on it. Again, there is continual
evidence, even in the media, on a daily and weekly basis.
Just some facts here about
hospital care: Almost $1 billion has been cut from hospital
budgets; 45 hospitals have been ordered to close, others severely
cut back or downgraded; the length of stay in the hospital has
been forcing patients out of hospital quicker and sicker than
ever before; thousands of staff upon whom patients rely have been
laid off; thousands of beds have been cut; there are lineups in
emergency rooms, ambulances turned away, vital hospital services
contracted out to big business.
Let's talk about that. If
you have $1 in health care and 20%, 30% or 40% is going to
profit, that means you're not getting a dollar's worth; you're
only getting 60 cents to start with. You can see that would be
the wrong way to go.
The Harris government has
been busy crafting a two-tier health care system. They've done
this by deliberately starving our public system and by imposing
new rules in every sector, including hospitals, long-term-care
facilities and home care, and weighting them in favour of the
private, for-profit sector. Again, if you have a dollar's worth
of health care and you're going to put 20%, 30% or 40% in
someone's back pocket for profit, obviously that's going to buy
less. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
This huge shift is having
an enormous impact on all of us. For starters, citizens are
already spending more money out of their own pockets than ever
before for services that were once covered in the public system.
At the same time, government restructuring has thrown open the
doors to the for-profit health care industry. Increasingly,
services that were once provided in the public sector and by the
not-for-profits are now being delivered by big business. Again,
if you're going to target patients who are willing to pay, and
you've got a dollar and you can get a 30% or 40% profit, plus
make some money on top of that from someone who is ill and will
pay for those services, obviously they're going to do that. What
the government is doing is basically asking us to go parachuting
Some of the radical changes
include user fees for prescription drugs for seniors and social
assistance recipients; delisting or tightening of many OHIP
procedures such as eye exams and pap smears-that's an absolute
disgrace, that someone who can't afford to pay is asked to pay;
restrictions on home oxygen programs, forcing many patients to
pick up the tab; cuts to hospitals, forcing patients into home
care, where services are being rationed. I've gone to the
hospital. I've had some problems with my health, and my family.
I'll tell you, bring your own Kleenex, your own shampoo, your own
soap, and spend time with your daughter or your wife or your
cousin or nephew. Patients now have to pay for services if they
can't get by on the minimal hours available. The elimination of
minimal requirements in long-term health care facilities is
forcing families to hire private agency nurses to care for their
loved ones. And on and on it goes. As you're starving the system,
only those who can afford to pay will purchase adequate health
The government has
eliminated the minimum staffing standards for nursing homes which
ensured that residents got at least two and a quarter hours of
nursing care per day. Meanwhile, government funding cuts and
hospital closures mean that most residents now require three and
a half hours per day or more.
The government has
eliminated the requirement for a registered nurse to be present
in a nursing home at all times. There is inadequate care. Nurses
are highly trained to monitor the body: its rhythm, its
temperature and so forth. Chronic care patients dumped into
long-term-care beds get much less care, a $1.2-billion boom for
big business. Some 70% of the first 6,700 beds were awarded to
big, for-profit companies like Extendicare, Versa Care and
Leisureworld. Patients are forced to pay out of their own pockets
to supplement care, and there are 18,000-plus people on waiting
lists, but the government plans are only to be completed by
I just had this faxed to me
today, so I can leave this if you're looking for it. I have to
apologize for my brief today. I've had some illness in the
family, and other matters.
Broken promises: Figures
released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information last
November now allow us to
examine what is really happening to health care funding in
A chartered but independent
agency, the CIHI, is charged with the important task of
monitoring public and health care expenditures across the
country, and was created in 1995 to consolidate the health care
information functions for several government agencies, including
StatsCan and Health Canada.
The CIHI operates as a
arm's-length body from the government. To many observers, it is
an important source of information, allowing a measurement of
health care and spending and compromises across this
Analysis of the CIHI data
reveals that rather than increasing health care funding by $1.5
billion as claimed, funding has actually been cut in Ontario by
$1.97 billion over the terms of this government.
When Mike Harris was
elected and the government claimed that it was spending more
money than ever on health care, they failed to account for the
4.2% increase in the population, the inflation of 4.5% and the
price of health care. That's simply dishonest. And this is an
arm's-length agency that the government has set up.
In terms of real spending,
the Mike Harris government has cut an increasing amount from
health care each year since coming to power. The government cut
$266.4 million in 1996, a further $628 million in 1997 and $1.1
billion in 1998. On top of trying to hide the facts by ignoring
simple figures such as inflation and population growth, the
government has also attempted to inflate expenditures for the
year 1998-99 by including $500,000 in one-time costs associated
with hospital closures and layoffs and by double-accounting more
than $200 million in transfers to the municipalities.
Health care experts have
clearly rejected these budget claims, although the attempts to
artificially inflate spending account for 3.93% of the estimated
1998-99 expenditures. Even choosing to ignore this means health
care funding comes $1.93 billion short over the last three years.
This information comes from the Canadian Institute for Health
Information in Ottawa on health care prices etc. There are a
couple of graphs. I can make copies available by fax. I just got
it this morning.
Many of you sitting here
today are probably aware that there is the Ontario internal
budget for 1999. I just wondered, later on in the brief, what the
government of the day promised. They promised that middle-income
families would finally get a tax break. What they delivered was
57% of the benefit of the tax to the highest 10% of Ontario
households. There's something wrong with the math there. You're
promising a tax cut, and 57% are getting less than the top
The average household in
Ontario has actually lost ground by $28 under the policies of
this government. The top 25% of the households saw tax cuts
offsetting the costs. Again, I can furnish this document for the
members of this committee if they're inclined to look at this
Health care: Again, this is
from the Ontario internal budget for 1999. They promised that
total spending would be reduced by 20% in three years without
touching a penny of health care spending. That was out of the
Common Sense Revolution, page 3. What they delivered was that 35
hospitals have been closed so far, emergency rooms regularly
stopped, expectant mothers are shipped around the province in
search of beds-that's an absolute disgrace. Cancer patients are
sent to the US while more than 2,000 people suffer on a waiting
list. All the government has to do is buy some more equipment and
train some more people, yet is seems easier just to ship people
to the US.
Downloading to regional
governments: They promised to improve service and end
duplication. What they delivered was a thinly veiled attempt to
cut provincial funding in order to free up money for the tax cut.
The government's so-called Who Does What initiative neutralizes
exchange for responsibilities between two levels of government.
In the end, the provincial government downloaded over $800
million more in costs to regional governments.
That concludes my
Thank you very much. We have approximately four minutes per
caucus, starting with the official opposition.
Mr James J. Bradley
(St Catharines): First of all, I want to compliment you,
Mr Gould, on your excellent presentation and stating the facts as
I think most people in this area know them to be.
Do you see a pattern out
there, as an individual who has observed the political process
for a period of time, with the present administration wishing to
discredit public institutions and create a "crisis" within those
institutions so that people will then accept a radical and what
they would have considered to be an unacceptable solution, shall
we call it, to that particular problem?
I look at health care
today, for instance, where you hear now a lot of talk,
particularly in the National Post and other places, about how we
must go into private care or a two-tier system. Do you think this
is true throughout the policies of this government, discrediting
public institutions so people will accept something else?
That's definitely going on daily in the papers, their press
releases, everything. It's just a shame. Again, just being a
regular, ordinary citizen, I can understand that if you have
health care for no profit alone, you're going to get a whole
dollar rather than lose 10%, 20% or 30% for profiteers. I also
know that the starving of hospitals, emergency wards etc makes it
look like it's the employees' or the workers' fault when in
reality they are the ones who are being starved for funds.
Bradley: You seem to believe, because you obviously
consult widely with people within the trade union movement, that
the significant majority of the people you talk to would prefer
in this budget that the government reinvest in health care and
education and social services and infrastructure, as opposed to
giving yet another tax
cut. Is that pretty well a prevailing viewpoint among the people
you would consult?
Yes, that would be. In fact, a fairer tax system would be to have
progressive tax: The more you make, the more you pay. That would
be an even fairer system, along with what you just said.
Bradley: Looking at the field of education, which again
the labour council is very interested in, and the potential for
problems in the future, do you believe that by continually
cutting income taxes in relatively prosperous times, the
government of Ontario, whichever government it is, would be
placed in real jeopardy if we entered a recession, because there
simply would not be the revenues to maintain, say, the education
system, the health care system and the obviously increasing needs
to assist people who would require assistance in a time of
I totally agree with that statement. You have to spend some money
to make the future better, and spending it on training, spending
it on the youth of this country, on the squeegee kids, on the
journeypersons of tomorrow, on the trained nurses of tomorrow,
will benefit everyone in the future. So education is one of the
prime motivators of any group that understands society.
Bradley: The automotive industry is doing very well at
the present time. You mentioned our exports to the United States,
the booming economy south of the border, low interest rates, the
low dollar-all of that important. Premier Harris said in a speech
to the Fraser forum out west that he wanted to see the dollar
increase in value as opposed to staying where it is. What would
the impact on the automotive industry be if policies were geared
I would see tremendous job losses, myself.
Thank you. Mr Kormos.
Thank you, Brother Gould, for taking the time on behalf of people
in St Catharines and district.
I'm concerned about this
whole persistent message of "booming economy." I can't dispute
the data, the increase in GDP, but just from our own experience
here, the economy isn't booming for the 330 GM workers who just
got laid off.
Any prospect of a return to work?
Not at this particular time, Peter.
I'm told about a contracting out by General Motors of engine
production to Honda.
I'm concerned about the 300-plus workers and their families from
Union Carbide in Welland.
They should be in.
We have lower unemployment, but my suspicion is that the new jobs
tend to increasingly be minimum wage.
God bless the folks who work in Wal-Mart. But you can't pay a
Or raise a family.
-and raise a family on what you make at Wal-Mart. I just had to
mention my concern about this.
What I was trying to show here in the brief is that the economy
seems to be going well but that there seems to be fear driven
into the citizens of this province that we have to restrain, and
we're restraining in the wrong areas.
Let's talk a little bit about your comments on health care. This
whole Klein-initiated proposal, this two-tier health care
system-I should tell you that just recently I had occasion to
visit some private hospital facilities associated with Harvard
University. I was similarly in Ohio where, again, Canadians go
for health care treatment. What I learned, because these were
excellent facilities, is that a day and a half of diagnostic
testing resulted in tabs of US$10,000 to US$15,000. What I
learned when I spent some time with the leadership from
Physicians for a National Health Program in the United States,
who are advocating a universal health care system, is that 45
million to 50 million Americans have no health care coverage,
that the number is increasing-that's one out of six Americans-and
that only the wealthiest can enjoy any measure of adequate levels
of health care.
You've spent your whole
working life with other workers, working families. Is there a
single colleague, associate, friend, neighbour, family that you
know who would agree with that type of health care system?
Not one that I know of.
Thank you very much, Mr Kormos.
Surely that wasn't five minutes, Chair.
I said four minutes. To the government side.
Mr Gould, I know that in the industrial sector here in the
Niagara region we have a group of industrial companies, including
Hayes-Dana and General Motors and many others, who have spent a
lot of time in the last year, maybe even two years, talking about
and trying to educate municipal politicians about the high
industrial property tax rates, and that they're the highest in
The province of Ontario
took over setting the education portion of the property tax rate.
The education portion of the property tax rate in Niagara is set
to decline, courtesy of the province of Ontario, by about 30%
over an eight-year period. We said to the regions, "If you can
find your own savings and match a reduction, we'll accelerate
that." In fact, the regional government has done that now for the
second year in a row, and it looks like we're going to get to
that large reduction in four years now rather than eight. Do you
support that direction?
Mr Gould: I just wonder, has it
shown any improvement? Can you prove to me that it has shown an
The tax rate?
Yes, it has declined. You could just look at a property tax-
How many jobs did that create?
Well, I don't know.
You're the government.
Mr Ted Arnott
(Waterloo-Wellington): About 600,000.
Six hundred thousand jobs in the region of Niagara?
No. In the region of Niagara they're starting to lower the
industrial property tax rate. I think it's necessary-
You were talking about the region of Niagara, right?
Yes-so that we become more competitive with other areas.
You're saying for the third year in a row-
There are a lot of businesses-
Pardon me, I'm trying to make sure I understand where you're
going here. This is the third year in a row that regional
The second year.
The second year they have cut taxes.
Yes, they are going to reduce them.
I asked you the question, did you see any job increases
There are thousands of job increases in the Niagara region, but
that's not the question I'm asking you. I want to know if you
support that direction. I know you come from industry, and the
industry that I believe you work for wants and is asking for more
level industrial property tax rates in Niagara, compared to other
regions that we have to compete with. Do you support that or not?
That's all I'm asking.
I understand what you're implying here. I couldn't give you that
answer fairly because I don't know what they're paying in other
places. I don't believe there should be a competitiveness,
playing one sector of Ontario off against the other, because
someone is going to lose. They're going to lose in schools,
they're going to lose in hospitals, they're going to lose in
roads or they're going to lose in social. That's not where we
want to go. There should be a benchmark across the country, as
far as I'm concerned. So I believe I just answered your
We should all have the same industrial property tax rate-
By how many jobs have they increased for the last two years of
those tax cuts?
Go and ask each employer. There are lots of manufacturing jobs.
In fact, across Ontario provincially there are 675,000 new jobs
since 1995. The vast majority of those are actually in
manufacturing, technology and communications. They're not
low-paying jobs; they're not part-time jobs. The vast majority of
jobs that have been created are full-time. So there have been
thousands and thousands of jobs. A lot of those manufacturing
jobs have been created in Windsor and Oakville and other places.
Mr Kormos mentioned that General Motors has declined in our
region over a period of time. The Ford glass plant in my own
riding closed. Part of the rationale they're giving for that is
that the industrial property taxes are just too high here.
Regional politicians are starting to recognize that and reduce
their rates also. I just want to know if labour supports that
Could you show me job increases in that?
I think over time we could, since it has only been one year that
the property taxation has been reduced-
Obviously there weren't, because there have been plant closures
in Welland and layoffs at General Motors. So what you're telling
I remember Cyanamid in 1995, and I can go on and on about all the
different places that completely left-
But child poverty hasn't gone up in this province?
In child poverty we're the third-best in the world, according to
the United Nations, which is an objective organization.
Really what's wrong is that you're too busy down in Toronto
worrying about squeegee kids.
With that, we'll bring this discussion to an end. On behalf of
the committee, thank you very much for your presentation this
Kwinter: Bart, just for your information, no one has
ever closed a plant because of the difference in taxes,
How do you know that?
Kwinter: Because I used to be the Minister of Economic
Development and Trade, and I'm telling you that it's ridiculous
to suggest that you've got a huge client and they suddenly shut
it down because their taxes go up.
Let's have some order, please. We must maintain our order
ONTARIO SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' FEDERATION,
The next presenters are representatives from the Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation, district 22. Could you
please come forward and state your name for the record.
Hanes: I'm Rosemary Hanes, president of the Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation, district 22. This is Craig
Brockwell, vice-president of the OSSTF, district 22.
On behalf of the committee, welcome.
Ms Hanes: Thank you very much for
allowing us to come and speak to you. This is a very emotional
issue for me as I am approaching the end of my career, and I am
very fearful that with the cuts that we are seeing in education,
I am going to be forced to leave my career not as proud as when I
Investing in education is
the single most important way in which we can ensure a prosperous
and healthy Ontario. However, the Tory government seems to be
taking the opposite stance. The biggest problem educators face is
a result of an inadequate funding formula, and unless it is
revised, boards across Ontario will be in big trouble come
September 2000. Teachers are not opposed to change, but they very
much need the resources to bring about a successful change. We
like our students to be successful and we like to have the
resources so that we can also be successful.
In 1991, both the former
Lincoln and Niagara South boards were doing all the things the
Tory government is now requesting of all school boards across
Ontario. They had already begun coordinating activities with
their coterminous partners and through careful budgeting had
achieved savings before amalgamation. However, under the NDP and
now the Tory government, they have not been rewarded for being
fiscally responsible. The teachers as well had voluntarily been
partners in cost-savings efforts by holding their wages and
working conditions constant, in most cases for seven or eight
years. Now that the economy is booming, teachers, whose standard
of living has steadily been eroded over the past eight years, are
expecting a raise that the funding formula makes impossible to
The government states that
the average teacher's salary is $50,000 in the funding formula.
Unfortunately, this is far from the truth in our board. During
the last round of negotiations our average teacher's salary was
$57,000, leaving us $7,000 short per teacher in a board of over
1,000 teachers. How can we possibly negotiate a contract with our
board in this next round? Who will be the real villain if labour
unrest returns, bringing chaos to our schools? In fact, the
Conference Board of Canada has reported employees can expect
healthy but moderate increases in their take-home pay. Teachers
will expect a salary increase. I don't know how we can negotiate
that unless changes are made to the funding formula to allow us
to do this.
The District School Board
of Niagara has 22 regular schools and one adult learning centre.
We have prided ourselves on offering small community schools. The
board spans a huge area from Fort Erie to Grimsby and has a
mixture of both urban and rural schools. Unfortunately, we do not
qualify for any rural funding, although we have a number of rural
schools: Niagara District, South Lincoln and Ridgeway, just to
name a few. To receive rural funding you must be more than 150
kilometres from the nearest large urban centre; therefore, we do
not qualify, as Toronto and Hamilton are within the required
The government also
provides funding based on the physical space of the building.
Many of our schools are older buildings with wide halls. This
extra space is counted against us and we are given less funding
for educating students. If there are too many bricks and too much
mortar, there is less funding for schools. I don't think this is
common sense. Our schools are filled on average to 62% capacity.
The funding formula bases funding on utilized space. The
government feels that to be efficient, schools should have
enrolments of 1,000 or more students. We have four of 23 of our
schools that have even close to that number.
Should we close our small
community schools, many of which are the only school in the
community? Ridgeway, South Lincoln and Niagara District are just
such schools. Parents who pay taxes certainly will be opposed to
the closure of their community's only school. Niagara District is
a school with severely underutilized space, and despite what Bart
Maves, local Tory MPP, has said to reassure our parents here,
many of whom voted Tory in the last election, it does not qualify
for rural school funding.
To keep Niagara District
open, the board has even considered tearing down a wing of the
school to avoid being penalized for having too much space. This
destruction will cost the board an additional $150,000 which
could be better spent providing resources, training and new
technology. What happens in the future when more space is needed?
Is this not a waste of taxpayers' dollars?
one-size-fits-all funding formula fits no one. Education spending
in Ontario continues to fall under our current government. A
recent analysis of per pupil spending in North America ranked
Ontario as 62nd of 63 jurisdictions. Mike Harris's solution seems
to be to distribute inadequate resources more equitably but in
doing so to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator.
Cheap education is not quality education.
In 1997, $64 million was
cut from training programs and $125 million from elementary and
secondary school operating grants. This included a $90-million
cut to adult education. In our board, we were forced to eliminate
an exemplary program for adult education which had a 90%
placement rate. In Niagara we have lost two adult schools. All
classes that are offered are now on a cost-recovery basis and
must have a minimum of 30 students. Most courses are
computer-based. We have lost the academic programs-math, science
and English-which many adults need to upgrade. We've lost all the
technical and vocational programs. So how do adults who have been
out of school for a number of years get the necessary and
specialized upgrading needed to become gainfully employed in the
new technological and knowledge-based economy of the modern
By 2003, the new rules of
secondary reform will apply to adults. They will have to take a
literacy and numeracy test to qualify for further education. Most
will fail. No longer will every resident of Ontario have the
right to an education.
If there is no opportunity to escape welfare, taxpayers will pay
more in the long run.
In 1999, $167 million was
removed from the 1999-2000 school board budgets, and $385 million
was lost in one-time transition funding for education. In 2001,
$381 million is to be removed from the 2001-02 school board
budgets. In recently talking to Mr Reilly, the chair of our
board, he indicated to me that $800 million will be taken out.
These cuts have had, and continue to have, terrible impacts on
our school programs.
One result is that in many
more of our classrooms we are seeing multiple grades and multiple
courses taught within the same classroom. There is less time for
program delivery, less time for individual attention and less
time for teacher preparation.
Secondary education reform
has also ignored a whole level of our student population, the
vocational students. Not every student will be going to college
or university, but this does not mean they should be condemned to
a life of no employment. There are no resources to deliver
curriculum to those students who can't read or are deficient in
their math skills. What happens to these students who will fail
their grade 10 literacy test? Are these students to become our
throwaway children because they can't keep up and there is not
the money to provide special resource teachers and the
remediation needed? Who will be blamed: the powerless classroom
teacher doing the best with what he or she is given or the
government that controls the purse strings?
At a time when teachers are
faced with curriculum changes of great and overwhelming
magnitude, many of the necessary supports and resources are sadly
lacking. The master teachers or department heads infrastructures
that were in place to deal with mentoring young teachers coming
into the profession and implementing change have been gutted.
There is no time and no money to do the kinds of things we are
asking department heads to do. The teachers and department heads
are the ones who have to deliver the new curriculum. At a time
when they are most needed, the professional development days for
staff development have been removed. Much of the secondary reform
money has been directed to administration rather than to the
classroom teacher, who ultimately must make the changes in
curriculum and help students achieve success. Once teachers are
in the classroom, it's very difficult to remove them to do the
training that has to be done to implement secondary ed reform
successfully. We need professional development days. No industry
trains people on their time; they do the training during work
time. There is not enough money to free up teachers during their
workday for staff development, and this will be exacerbated if we
are forced to teach more than six of eight classes per day.
The recent announcement to
put more money into textbooks is wonderful, but is this new money
or money that has already been announced? Last evening an art
teacher told me that it will cost him $70 per student to
implement his grade 9 curriculum, plus $389 for the teacher
resource kit, and that's just for one class. Furthermore, much
more money than is allocated is needed for the new technologies.
Computer and software spending is not sufficient to implement the
new curriculum. Computer networks and Intranet access and
technical support are very expensive. Loss of school technicians
has resulted in equipment not being repaired and even more work
being downloaded on the back of the classroom teacher.
As more and more
experienced teachers take the opportunity to escape the problems
and uncertainties of the classroom through early retirement,
boards across Ontario are facing a looming teacher shortage.
Faculties of education have taken over their allotment of new
teacher candidates, whose success depends on the mentoring and
training provided by quality associate teachers in our schools.
However, without the time to do even the job they are paid to
do-teach kids-many long-standing associate teachers are having to
decline accepting teacher candidates in their classrooms. Who
will provide this most necessary training?
I work with the faculty of
education at Brock University, and many of the students there say
that the workshops we provide and the training they get by being
in classrooms with master teachers is far more valuable than what
goes on in their faculty of ed classrooms at Brock and the other
faculties across Ontario. Associate teachers do need time to do
this job. Unless they are given it, they will not be doing the
training of our new young teachers that needs to be done, and we
are getting more and more of them in schools. Department heads
don't have the time to deal with the problems of classroom
management that many of these young teachers have. This is really
a problem that will have to be addressed.
Special education places
even greater demands on an already cash-strapped educational
system. Although the government has agreed to put additional
money into special education, there are so many requirements that
must be met that few special-needs students fit the established
profiles in their entirety and therefore do not qualify for
special-ed funding. By law, the board must still provide a
program for each special-needs student, but the funding has to
come out of the general education pot. Special education is
expensive. There is no way the board can deliver the level of
service parents are expecting. Services for preschoolers aged two
to five are good, but the same level of funding is not there once
children are placed in schools. Parents have come to expect this
level of funding. Our board has only four language pathologists
and one speech pathologist for 3,400 kids. The funding formula
does not match the reality of our world. Teachers find it very
frustrating. They are doing their best to meet students' needs
but, with the funding available, find it impossible to meet
parental demands. And we're not lying. Parents are starting to
think that we are the liars and that we are the crooks and that
we just don't want to meet their students' needs, and that's not
The funding line for
transportation has not been revised since March 1998. This was
one area our board was criticized for in the EIC report. Since this
time, the board has introduced junior kindergarten, which
increased transportation costs. A further increase was incurred
with the consolidation of schools. Also, we lost the partnership
with the French-language school, which now does not share
transportation costs with us. Although our transportation costs
are lower than in 1997, we are still $950,000 over what the
funding formula allows, and we have to find that money
Special education also
impacts on our transportation budget. Many high-needs students
have to be transported to a specialized school for program needs.
One high-needs student requires a rider on the bus and must
travel a considerable distance. This one student will cost the
board $35,000 in transportation costs for just one year. The
funding model does not allow for such exceptional circumstances.
Where are we to find the money to deliver costly
We are a large, diverse
board of both rural and urban schools. If we are to fund all our
costs, these must be real costs. Over the last few years our
costs have increased due to inflation; however, the funding
provided does not reflect this. Hydro, gas, snowplowing, CPP
costs, up 10% from last year, and employee benefits are necessary
expenditures and aren't accounted for in the funding formula.
Boards are stretched to the
limit and, without more funding, are doomed to fail. With what
will we replace them? Should we encourage our boards to go into
deficit financing to do what local taxpayers have elected them to
do: to provide quality education for all the children in our
schools and in our communities? That's what I'm going to
encourage our board to do if adequate funding is not there for us
to provide quality education to kids in Ontario. That's what we
have prided ourselves on in Ontario, and I certainly hope this
government does not intend to privatize education but to fully
fund quality, universal education for everyone.
boards the ability to raise funds through education taxes. This
is necessary at a time when the economy is booming. Let the
boards decide what kinds of programs their communities need. The
government is far removed. I don't see them listening to our
The funding formula should
be revised to reflect the diverse needs of boards with a mix of
both urban and rural schools.
The funding formula should
be revised to reflect inflation and real costs.
The funding formula should
be increased to allow for professional development at a time of
such enormous change in curriculum, assessment and new
The funding formula should
be increased to address the need for salary adjustments at a time
when the economy is booming and teachers are seeing salary
increases for many other public and private sector workers.
needs to be addressed. Not only the mixture of our urban and
rural schools, but also extracurricular activities and special
education, bring added transportation costs.
As evidenced from the chart
that outlines the percentage change in spending per full-time
equivalent pupil in secondary and elementary education in Canada,
Ontario's percentage of spending decreased much more than all the
poorer provinces that are not experiencing the great growth and
economic boom that Ontario is currently experiencing.
The funding formula is in
serious need of revision if public education, universally
accessible to all, is to survive. Thank you.
We have two minutes per caucus. Mr Kormos.
Not very much time, Chair.
Thank you kindly. Your
comment, "Not every student will be going to college or
university," I accept that. We've struggled in this province for
a long time to improve the retention rate. That is the number of
young people who enter high school but who then complete it.
I was at an event the other
night with a whole lot of teachers, talking to special-ed
teachers who can confirm everything you say. These are teachers I
know. These weren't political comments. They were just personal
comments to me. Have we seen anything in this regard yet? I think
the bar was raised. It's no longer just a matter of completing
high school. Really we need some post-secondary education for
young people. When I was a kid, it was completing high school on
a good day. Are we seeing any changes in the retention rate, if
I've got that right, as a result of what's been happening, the
gutting of any number of programs in our high schools?
More and more students-and this is going to increase when the
literacy and numeracy tests are imposed-are just not going to
make the grade. Students who need more assistance are not getting
it. We don't have enough EAs. We don't have the resource teachers
available to assist those students, and teachers have taken on an
increase in their workload. They are doing 1,250 minutes now,
therefore there is less time. I think you're going to see more
and more hard-to-serve students, special-needs students failing
us. They will just become frustrated and they will drop out.
Not even finishing high school, never mind going to college.
Yes. They won't be able to because they are not going to be able
to pass these tests.
You've still got 30 seconds.
Wait a minute. Chair, in these 30 seconds, this is a shocking
revelation after the struggle-
Mr Kormos, we allocated 30 minutes for the presentation.
No, I'm talking about my 30 seconds.
They took 22 minutes. I have divided the time equally. I will not
debate the issue and I'll go to the government side.
Mr Kormos: What happened to my 30
seconds? The Chair used it.
We've used your 30 seconds.
Help us, Mr Kormos, speak for the students and these young people
in the Legislature who cannot speak for themselves.
Mrs Tina R.
Molinari (Thornhill): Thank you very much for your
presentation. As we've been travelling across the province and
listening to different views from different people, we've heard a
number of presentations from OSSTF. There seems to be a
consistent stream, yet there are individual situations which
you've raised, and we appreciate your doing that.
Just some clarification. I
have a couple of questions and I don't know if I can get them all
in in two minutes. Just so that I get a better understanding of
the school board-from your presentation it's the District School
Board of Niagara-you indicated 22 regular schools and one adult
learning centre and somewhere here you said there are 3,400
No. There are probably over 15,000 students, but just for
language and speech pathologists we have 3,400 special-needs
students who need those services, and those are all the people we
have to serve them.
Molinari: So in 15,000 students, there are 3,400
students who need speech and language. OK, thank you. Of the 22
regular schools, how many are elementary and how many are
They're all secondary.
Molinari: They're all secondary, because you represent
the secondary. That's not the full Niagara board. Then there's
the elementary component.
We have 1,050-some teachers. The elementary teachers are
something like 1,900.
Molinari: I'll focus on that. I was just trying to get a
picture of how big the board is and the school is.
I appreciate your comments
on the fact that the Lincoln and Niagara south boards were
already doing all the things that the province wanted them to do.
I have to say that not all the boards across the province were
doing that, so it was necessary to put some things in place that
would allow other boards to be as efficient as the one you've
indicated. There were some that had some very efficient ways, and
we're looking at those to come up with the best practices and
share that with all the other boards. I thank you for that.
But part of our problem here was that we were then penalized for
it. Where other boards were given mitigation monies, the fact
that we had been fiscally responsible was never considered. It
made it much more difficult for us to meet the demands of the
government when we had already cut. There wasn't a lot of fat for
us to cut as far as our administration and as far as our
consultants. At a time when we have to implement all these new
changes, and at a time when department head structures have been
removed and department heads don't have the time to be master
teachers in the schools, we need consultants. We need people who
can say, "Okay, here's what you have to do to make the
implementation of secondary ed reform successful." We don't have
Bradley: Excellent presentation. I'll only be able to
focus on a couple of areas, obviously. One is going to be special
education. As an educator, you would see the consequences of not
addressing the special needs of those students who can be
disruptive in the system because of the problems they experience.
They simply are unable to cope. What happens if we do not put
that investment in special education, both at the elementary and
secondary schools? What are the consequences for those students?
What usually happens to them?
They become throwaway children. Unless they come from wealthy
families where the parents can provide the support and some form
of education so that these students then can find a job, they
become unemployable. No employer will look at them. Often now the
schools provide the training so they can go out and find jobs
where they feel proud and they earn their own way. That's not
going to happen.
It's these students I am
most fearful for and whom the teachers in our board are fearful
for, because right now we don't have any program or any path that
says, "This is what you're supposed to be doing with these
students." From my understanding, we have to wait for another
whole year before we get anything. So teachers are doing what
they think is best for those students who are entrusted with
Bradley: My second question deals with the students when
they leave the secondary system and go to post-secondary. Today
they face drastically increased tuition fees, huge increases in
accommodation costs and other ancillary costs that we see for
post-secondary education. One effort was made with the Millennium
Scholarship, but the province decided it would take that money
and put it in its own coffers instead of allowing it to go to the
What is the consequence of
high tuition fees-huge ones, particularly for professional
programs-and other costs in education at the post-secondary
Fewer students are choosing to further their education. This is
going to cost us all in Ontario, because we are a knowledge-based
economy. I think it's very short-sighted on the part of the
government to throw roadblocks in the way of young people who
really want an education.
I would have been one of
those people, because I came from a family of seven. My father
was a railroad worker. We did not have a lot of money. Unless I
had grants and scholarships available to me, I could not have
attended school. Then I would not have gone on to further make a
contribution to Ontario.
Just a few days ago, at the
BEC conference where Jane Stewart was speaking, at my table sat a
young man I had taught at Welland high. He was now working for
the parks commission. It's those kinds of successes that make
teaching so rewarding. Fewer and fewer of our young people are going to have
that opportunity to contribute to a prosperous Ontario, and that
is a great shame.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Thank you for having us. I had lots more to say but not enough
Bradley: You should be in the Legislature, where it
happens all the time.
ONTARIO CHILDCARE COALITION
Our next presenters this morning are representatives from the
Ontario Childcare Coalition. If you could come forward, please,
and state your name for the record.
Walters: Libby Walters, Ontario Childcare Coalition.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your
presentation this morning.
Walters: Thank you for the opportunity to address this
group. As a child care worker and trainer of child care workers
for over 20 years, I sit on the executive of the Ontario
Childcare Coalition. The brief I will be presenting to you is
similar to one that some of you would have reviewed in the
Toronto hearing. That's why I did not provide it for you. I will
be presenting it today with my own additions, and that is why you
don't have copies.
I work at a community
college where I train early childhood education workers, but I
also work in child care. I am fortunate to be in a setting
organized by OPSEU, and that is why I'm here today. I really see
that we need to draw this government's attention to the issues in
As you probably know, the
Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care was founded in 1981, with
a mandate to advocate for the development of high-quality,
non-profit child care services in Ontario. The organization
includes representatives from education, health care, labour,
child welfare, injury prevention, rural, First Nation,
francophone, social policy, anti-poverty, professional, student,
and women's organizations. The fact that I'm here is because we
have a women's organization called the Provincial Women's
Committee in which child care is one of the issues that we
In addition, we serve
community-based child care programs and local coalitions across
the province, so we're linked right across the province, trying
to give the support that's needed to programs, centres and home
care providers who are out there on their own. It's a very
fragmented system. Unlike the system you just heard about which
has been highly organized for many years, our system has been
struggling. Groups like the coalition help to bring it some
The coalition is a public
awareness organization bringing benefits to early childhood
education and attention to the public and policy-makers like
The work of the coalition
covers a wide range of activities. It monitors provincial child
care policy and legislation, and lobbies for changes and
improvements. It develops policy alternatives for government
consideration to improve the quality and management of and the
accessibility to child care services. It develops books, manuals,
fact sheets and news bulletins on child care policy and
operations for use by child care programs and early childhood
education training programs-that's what I'm a part of-and also by
parents and the general public. It conducts public information
campaigns through written materials, videos, public service
announcements, public speaking and media relations campaigns.
The coalition was
responsible for helping to promote wage grants which came out in
the 1980s and has helped to keep people employed at a decent
living in the field. We also lobbied for pay equity, because this
group was going to be excluded in the pay equity legislation
because of its being a female-dominated occupation. The coalition
is constantly out there trying to improve the lot of these
The coalition also conducts
research and provides a variety of services to assist
community-based child care programs. A lot of the coalition's
funding has been cut over the years, so one of the ways it can
continue to survive is through getting research grants. That has
been very helpful to us to be able to then provide the
information to the public as to what's happening in our
We participate in an array
of advisory committees, task forces, community planning bodies
and child development associations, and play an active role in
the development of high-quality child care services at a local
level by offering information, training workshops, supports and
advice for child care programs and allied service
The current environment in
Ontario has seriously affected the accessibility of quality
services and threatens to destroy the entire system, which was
once the envy of every province in this country. Although the
Ontario government maintains that it is spending more on child
care than any previous government, analysis of the provincial
allocations for regulated child care shows the difference of $70
million between 1995 and 1998. The actual annual child care
expenditure per child has dropped 15% since 1995, from $281 to
$238 per child. In addition, between 1995 and 1998 the number of
children under 12 with mothers in the workforce has increased by
70,000, but only 19,000 new child care spaces were created. This
came from the Child Care in Canada study, from the child care
resource and research unit at the University of Toronto.
It is clear that the
present system is not responding to the needs of families in
Ontario. Some of the additional pressures that are affecting
child care include-it's interesting, because I've spoken on this
before, and people who see a lot of these pieces I'm going to
talk about as separate don't realize that when you put them
together they all impact this particular sector quite
The first one is municipal downloading. The
downloading on to municipalities of child care costs was fully
implemented in January 2000. In 1997, when the decision to
download was initially made, parents and other members of the
child care community, as well as municipality representatives,
lobbied the province strenuously so that we could keep 100% of
the subsidized parent fee revenues, worth $25 million, in order
to protect existing subsidies.
Recently, the province
reversed this decision, thus downloading an additional financial
burden to the cash-strapped municipalities. Municipal governments
are still trying to assess the impact as they prepare their
budgets and it is clear that without additional provincial
funding, municipalities will either increase property taxes or
cut funding to public services and community-based programs, such
as child care. Every time a municipality sets its budget, this
will have a direct impact on the centres and their workers
because the next impact is just not the parents and the children,
but also people who work in this field and to whom I'm directly
related in training.
The Harris government is
also privatizing child care. In some ways, instead of privatizing
the services through provincial legislation, the province has
downloaded the services to the cash-strapped municipalities.
They're responding by saying, "OK, deregulate; privatize." That
can cause additional impacts on the quality of the program.
The privatization of
municipal child care programs: Traditionally, these fully
subsidized municipal programs were established in communities
where there was no other child care available or in
neighbourhoods with very low-income and high-needs and
special-needs families. Staff training and qualifications reflect
To date, as a result of
downloading, facilities in York region and Elliot Lake have been
closed and their services contracted out to the community-based
sector, where staff with fewer qualifications and who earn lower
wages will have to deal with this high-needs population without
the appropriate supports. That flies in the face of the work that
we're trying to do in the college sector to train these people,
when they can't get jobs with decent wages, and the programs are
then not available for the children as well.
This underfunding of
community-based subsidized programs-their staff are struggling
with per diems that have been frozen for the last six years.
Contending with these funding shortages, municipalities are not
increasing per diems to reflect the annual costs, and the actual
costs as well. As a result, parent boards are forced to increase
parent fees and cut funding for outings, games, supplies and
educational materials, as well as staff wages and their benefits.
Clearly, program quality will deteriorate if funding is not
The next one is
rationalizing wage grants to the child care workers-wage grants
which we fought for, as I said, back in the 1980s. Wage grants
were implemented in the child care sector because public
policy-makers recognized the relationship between quality child
care and a stable workforce. In its downloading process, the
province gave municipalities the discretion to reallocate wage
grants as a flawed option for managing increased child care
costs. If acted upon, the same pot of money will be used to
provide grants to new staff in non-profit centres who currently
don't receive grants, possibly to staff in the profit sector who
traditionally have been excluded from the bulk of the grant.
Child care workers in the
non-profit sector remain grossly underpaid for their work, even
with wage grants. The coalition is opposed to the idea that these
staff should be subsidizing the wages of child care workers in
non-profits who don't receive grants and who are even more
grossly underpaid. It just sets workers against workers. Many
workers in our field don't know their status. Their funding comes
in bits and pieces. There's a grant here, there's a subsidy
there. It really makes for a lack of job security and it makes it
a very contingent workforce. I think the stats are that one in
five will end up leaving within about five years or less than
five years. They don't stay in the workforce, which is a waste of
training and a waste of good people.
I have also participated in
the development of a health and safety training module with the
Workers' Health and Safety Centre. What was interesting-we were
looking at the health and safety of the workers, so you would be
thinking about exposure to chemicals and musculoskeletal
injuries, and we did look at all those things. But the additional
thing we looked at was the stress of lack of job security and low
wages. I think those things are really important to mention here,
because what is happening with the rationalization of wage grants
and the municipal downloading is that you're impacting this
workforce more and more and making them more and more
disadvantaged, which again affects the quality of the
municipalities are considering including the for-profit sector in
their reallocation proposals. Reallocation will result in lower
wages for the majority of child care staff. Where reallocation
includes for-profit providers, it will represent public dollars
being used to subsidize private businesses that are not
accountable to the taxpayers. So what will happen is that the
wage grants and subsidies that are going into the hands of
private for-profit operators will go into their pockets, and
that's where our tax dollars are going, as opposed to going into
the programs and to paying the staff adequate wages. We just
can't accept that.
Ontario Works child care is
another impact. Municipalities' inability to implement this
program was documented in the KPMG report which concluded that
the Ontario Works program could not succeed in the long term with
inadequate access to child care. It predicted that children of
Ontario Works clients would be forced into informal care
irrespective of parental choice. Part of the reason for that is
that the amount of money provided for child care is not adequate
to pay for organized child care, so parents will make a choice of
perhaps a family down
the street and unregulated care, which puts children at high
Some municipalities have
indicated that they will use only unregulated care for these
children because of the lack of adequate funding. These children
are already at high risk and it is they who benefit from
participation in quality, regulated child care services.
This is the first time
public policy in Ontario has created two tiers of child care
service by forcing low-income families to use unmonitored care.
As a result, these parents will be put in the unacceptable,
unconscionable position of having to leave their children in
settings of dubious quality and safety in order to access the
money they need to feed and house those same children.
Privatization through the
reallocation of funding to the for-profit and unlicensed sectors
does nothing to address the needs of thousands of parents already
on waiting lists for subsidized quality child care services.
Privatization means children being placed in care of dubious
quality, parents losing equal access to benefits for quality
services, fragmentation of an already fragile network of
services, increased parent fees, deterioration of wages and
working conditions for child care providers and a loss of
accountability to taxpayers.
The province has also
pursued other initiatives which, unbeknownst to them-but I'm
going to let you know-have a really negative impact on child care
services. One is child care in schools. Some 40% of Ontario's
licensed child care centres are in schools. However, with recent
cuts to education, as we just heard from the previous speaker,
they do not treat the child care centres in the schools as
legitimate school expenses. If forced out of schools, child care
programs have no capital funding to relocate.
Under the previous
government, before the Harris government-and you probably know
this-new schools were to have child care centres, every one of
them, and that was a really good way to approach it. Now schools
are closing, centres are closing and if any new schools are being
built, child care centres aren't a part of that. So we're really
going backwards in that regard.
The coalition completed a
survey to determine how child care programs in schools are being
affected by the government's policies. The survey data reveals
that child care programs across the province are facing eviction,
increased rental costs and reduced space. These are many issues
that are jeopardizing an important link between child care and
the schools. The one really wonderful advantage of that for
parents-many of you who are or have been parents or grandparents
know that if a child is in child care and is in kindergarten,
there is a real concern, if you are a working parent, about how
you get your child from half-day kindergarten to child care.
Well, if the child care centre is in the school, they just walk
down the hall. It's such a safe situation, yet we're closing
child care centres in schools.
Cuts to capital funding and
the playground initiative are something new that's happened. In
1995, the government eliminated capital funding for child care
programs, so that wasn't new, but the impact of that is what's
happening this year. In September 1999, the Ministry of Community
and Social Services had a new playground directive requiring all
operators of licensed child care centres to meet new Canadian
Standards Association standards for outdoor playgrounds. All
licensed child care operators were required to develop a
playground safety policy.
While this on the front end
sounds really wonderful, what ends up happening, because there's
no capital funding, is that the child care centres are forced to
dismantle their programs-it's been quite well publicized in the
paper-and then have nothing in their playground because they
can't afford to refurbish it. I sit on the board of a child care
centre in Hamilton-it's located in a church-and our playground
has been deemed below standard. There's no capital support, and
we're going to have to go begging and pleading to find money
because right now there's nothing in the playground for the
children. We've been given five years by the Ministry of
Community and Social Services to bring it up to standard. I note
that the municipality in the city of Toronto is giving 20%
funding to help and they are giving them seven years to bring
their playgrounds up to standard. But that's only 20%, and
where's the rest coming from? I think it needs to come from the
While the child care
community supports the move to ensure that outdoor play
environments are safe, we are astounded that the government would
expect to implement such a policy without any training or capital
funding. Successful implementation of this directive requires a
partnership. If the government is serious about keeping children
safe, it should ensure that necessary resources and training are
available to make this directive successful.
The next item that has
affected child care is the changes to the OSAP regulations, OSAP
being the student assistance program. The decision in 1996 to
remove parents in post-secondary education from social assistance
and eliminate the child care bursary is still having a
devastating impact. Low-income parents struggle for a better life
for their families. They are graduating with untenable debts and
are the only parents expected to borrow money to pay for child
care. Again, working in a college setting, I see this all the
time. Many of our clients are parents who are returning to school
so they can get a better job. They need child care in order to do
that, yet they're just building up huge debts to do that, which
doesn't give them a good start.
Pay equity, which I
mentioned before, has also impacted the programs. While
legislation mandates that child care programs continue pay equity
adjustments beyond 1998, the government refuses to flow
additional money to meet this obligation. Child care programs are
being forced to decide between making the pay equity adjustments
and accumulating debts that will become unsustainable, or
discontinuing further adjustments, putting them in direct contravention of pay
After many years of
advocating for children, the coalition has come to appreciate a
holistic approach to providing support for the early years, but
families in Ontario need help to support them through the
parenting cycle. In Ontario, parents need a judicious mix of
benefits and services that are targeted to meet the identified
needs and not designated to favour one family type at the expense
The next part I'd like to
talk about is a little bit about the background and research
which has been fairly well presented publicly, but I'd just like
to put it together for you so you see where we're coming
The child within the family
and within society: The formula for good child care is no
mystery. Extensive research shows that quality programs have high
adult-to-child ratios, consistent caregivers, small group sizes,
appropriately trained and compensated staff, and an adequate,
safe physical environment. These elements of quality care depend
on adequate public funding, non-profit delivery, parental
involvement and enforced regulatory standards.
Numerous reports and
studies from experts in the areas of social policy, health,
economics, education and child development agree that the best
way to support children is by supporting their families through a
progressive family policy. A recent University of Toronto study
entitled The Benefits and the Costs of Good Child Care
established that for every $1 that government invests in quality
child care services for children aged two to five, there is a $2
return in increased labour productivity and decreased social
costs. The study demonstrates that child care is a prudent and
productive use of scarce public funds.
The National Council of
Welfare stated that many social programs support families, but
child care is the backbone of them all. The Early Years Study,
commissioned by the Ontario government, envisioned the
development of a system of early child development and parenting
centres to support children from conception to formal school
entry, and also support their families. This concept ensures that
optimum parenting and early child development support the most
sensitive period of brain development. That was in May 1999.
Federal-Provincial-Territorial Council on social Policy Renewal
found that the quality of child care received in the early years
directly affects the way they will think and learn and has a
lasting impact on their future abilities.
The Royal Commission on
Learning found that a major factor in future success in school is
participation in quality early child development programs.
The Ontario Coalition for
Better Child Care is calling on the provincial government to
invest in the future of Ontario by developing a comprehensive
system of early childhood development services, including child
care, to support families during the important years of child
development. We know from the volumes of research available to us
that the early years are too important to waste on the patchwork
and disjointed system and the diminishing services available in
Why do we need a system of
early child development services? I've just mentioned that it
supports healthy child development. We recognize that regardless
of parents' employment status, early child development
opportunities benefit all children and help them realize their
full potential at each stage in life.
We need a system that
fosters economic growth. Early childhood development services
enable parents to work or be trained so they can enter employment
opportunities. Flexible, reliable, affordable services help
parents maintain their employment.
We need a system because it
creates jobs. With the government invested in early childhood
development services, we will create thousands of jobs for our
early childhood education graduates over the next 10 years.
We need a system because it
reduces child poverty. Affordable early child development
services allow parents to participate in the workforce and break
them out of that poverty cycle.
We need child development
services to invest in our future workforce so that we have
children who have the best start in life and who can become
skilful, competent workers. It is more cost-effective for the
government to invest in high-quality services now than to pay
later for the results of low-quality or non-existent
The Ontario government can
make the development of early childhood development services a
high priority by co-operating with the federal government in its
negotiation of a national children's agenda and by allocating
their own additional resources. When I went to speak to my own
MPP, that's the answer he gave me. My own MP gave me the opposite
answer. One said, "Go to the federal government." The other said,
"Go to the provincial government." I'd like to see you guys work
together. You've got to work together on this.
The coalition recommends
that the Ontario government return to its traditional leadership
role in developing licensed quality child care by making
substantial new investments in this sector. We also recommend
that the government undertake a five-year plan to increase child
care spaces and provide base funding for child care services
through the creation of a pilot project modelled on Quebec's
universal child care system. Ontario used to be the leader in
child care in Canada. Quebec and British Columbia are moving far
ahead of us now in providing services for their children and
families. While there's been criticism of Quebec's model, it has
a lot of really important tenets that we need to look at and
consider in Ontario.
The Ontario government must
provide ongoing funding for mandatory pay equity adjustments in
recognition of pay equity principles. The Ontario government must
immediately dismantle Ontario Works and invest in a job creation
and training program that will lead to permanent jobs and access to quality
child care for the unemployed and for people on social
We recommend that the
Ontario government restore all funding cuts from education.
We recommend that the
Ontario government reinstate the policy that required all new
school buildings to include child care space. I mentioned that
before. I think that is so important for the safety of our
We recommend that the
Ontario government make new and substantial investments in
children and address the serious issue of child poverty.
We recommend that the
Ontario government restore capital funding for child care,
provide the necessary resources and training to child care
programs to enable them to meet CSA standards and implement safe
Finally, we recommend that
the signatory to the National Children's Agenda, the Ontario
government, demonstrate vision, political will and commitment to
regulated, licensed, non-profit services for Ontario's children
and families in the next provincial budget. That's why we've come
to you today.
Just a final note from
myself as a worker and an advocate in this field: I have trained
early childhood education workers for over 20 years, and I have
seen the system struggle. This government needs to direct their
energies to a system of child care that will give children a
better start. It needs to recognize the workers in this system
who are well-trained and need to be fairly compensated. They are
a key element of the quality care that is an essential component
for our social infrastructure. A coordinated system with
sufficient public funding is what we need. Thank you.
We've got time for a quick question from each caucus. You have
Thank you very much for your presentation. I certainly learned a
great deal from your presentation this morning. We've heard from
many child care advocates in the course of our deliberations as a
committee, but you've provided additional information that will
be helpful to the committee as well as the Minister of
I listened carefully to
your presentation, but I don't recall if you mentioned the
Ontario child care supplement for working families, the program
which spends about $200 million for low- and modest-income
families. I think it's up to $1,100 per child under seven. Do you
think that's a good approach to ensure that there is a program to
assist low- and modest-income families and allow them choice in
their child care decisions?
Walters: I think it's part of the answer. One of the
problems in allowing choice is that if there's only a set amount
of money, similar to the Ontario Works program, parents could
very likely choose unregulated settings because they're cheaper.
The problem is that the system is fragmented. That's only one
small part of it. Yes, parents need assistance, but we have a
system that's so fragmented. It's regulated, but it's here and
there, and parents could choose something that could possibly be
inappropriate. We need to work with parents. We need community
centres and support centres for parents to help them make those
proper choices. That's not out there.
Bradley: The problem that you identified of the various
levels of government working together is indeed a very valid one.
I was getting a number of telephone calls as a provincial member.
When the federal government increased the amount of money that is
provided for child care, the provincial government deducted a
certain amount. When one level of government provides more money,
regardless of what level of government that happens to be, would
you think it legitimate for the other level of government to
deduct that much so that ultimately the people don't get any more
money at all?
Walters: Are you kind of leading me down the path of
saying that we should not be working together? My comment to that
is that the two levels of government need to work together on
this. That's the major problem. We need a child care system
nationally, but I think Ontario needs a system. What you're
talking about is giving dollars, taking dollars away. That isn't
the answer. I'm sorry, that's just not the answer.
Bradley: Good. Glad to hear you say that.
Thank you very much for taking the time, notwithstanding that the
coalition made a presentation in Toronto as well. I don't know
who your MPP and MP are, but I'm sure that neither of them are
Walters: They're not.
-because we have the luxury of criticizing both the province and
the federal government at the same time.
One of the problems, and it
happens around here, is that you've got right wing radio talk
show hosts still pounding away at the irresponsibility of parents
who would utilize child care, not understanding that it isn't
just about taking care of children while a parent or parents are
working, but it's also good for the kid, for Pete's sake. You do
it because the kid should be in, maybe not five days a week, some
sort of disciplined structure where there's professional
How do we respond to those
dough-heads, and I'm putting it generously, those afternoon radio
talk show hosts who put under attack parents who would choose
child care for their children? Do you know the kind of
dough-heads I'm talking about?
Walters: Yes, I hear it all the time, and the whole
thing about babysitting and how you don't need training. I've
been involved in this field for 20 years. I think what we've been
trying to do in our sector is broaden the area of support.
Economists from the University of Toronto are talking about the
economic sense of having child care. Health care reports-Dr
Fraser Mustard, people like that, who are well-recognized
professionals, are getting up and speaking about this. It's not
just, "Where do you put your kid when you don't need it?" These
things are well-documented, that we need proper, adequate care,
we need it to be
accessible, we need it to be affordable and we need it with
trained, qualified people.
How do you deal with these
talk show hosts? I think you have to educate them. I think more
of us need to go and talk with them. We need to bring people in
and see what's happening in the programs. As a group, child care
workers need to become advocates for themselves as well. But the
support of people like you, who maybe aren't familiar with the
field, is really important. Coming before you today has been that
opportunity to help to educate you. I think that's one of the
things, but also the support of the government-this government or
any government-is what we really need, to look at it not just as
a fragmented give-a-dollar-here, take-a-dollar-there, but as a
system that really works.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this morning.
Walters: Thank you.
ST CATHARINES PROMOTION TASK FORCE
NIAGARA COLLEGE FOUNDATION
ST CATHARINES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Our next group this morning is the Niagara College Foundation and
St Catharines Promotion Task Force. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. You have 30 minutes for your presentation. Could you
please state your name for the record.
Johnston: Good morning. My name is Don Johnston, and I'm
the chair of the St Catharines Promotion Task Force, chair of
Niagara College Foundation, and a past president of the St
Catharines Chamber of Commerce. Actually, I will have some
comments on behalf of the chamber of commerce as well in my
Initially, I'd like to talk
about Niagara College as an example of some of the current
problems encountered by colleges in Ontario.
The Niagara College
Foundation was established in 1989. It has 22 directors,
including the college president and a member of the college board
of governors, as liaison to that board.
The foundation has two
primary roles. The first is fundraising for capital campaigns:
One we have just wound down in regard to financing a new campus
at Niagara-on-the-Lake, plus some major additions in Welland,
plus fundraising for student bursaries and scholarships. We have
now raised about $1 million, the income from which is used for
bursaries and scholarships. Again we have to thank the government
for its two-for-one program wherein they matched public funds
that we raised.
The other function of the
foundation is advocacy on behalf of the college throughout
Niagara and beyond. It is in that role that I am here today.
Niagara College was founded
in 1967 and has three campuses in Niagara. The main campus, also
the administrative centre, is in Welland. It was built in the
late 1960s and early 1970s and has some recent additions. It has
currently 3,260 full-time students.
Glendale campus, the new
campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was built in 1998, replacing two
buildings which were over 100 years old and were the worst
college buildings in the whole system. It currently has 1,400
full-time students. That building was initially designed for
1,200 students, with growth to about 1,400, but we have moved in
with 1,400. Because of changes in student choice and the programs
offered at that campus, it's already full.
We also have a hospitality
and tourism centre in Niagara Falls which was opened in 1989. It
has 420 full-time students. A major increase in that building is
planned to satisfy business demand for more graduates. As new
hotels and restaurants are constructed in the Niagara Falls area,
there has been a greater demand for our hospitality and tourism
students, and we are in the process of planning a major addition
to that centre.
In total, Niagara College
has full-time enrolment of 5,080 and 15,000 registrations in
continuing education programs at all three campuses. Its
current-year budget is $54.8 million.
Niagara College, like most
of the 25 community colleges in Ontario, has some specific
problems which should be addressed in the next budget or budgets.
Some 33% of the 25 colleges already have accumulated deficits at
the end of March 1999. Our forecasts indicate a similar situation
at Niagara if our problems are not addressed soon.
Our information systems are
badly out of date. The cost to update these systems averages $2.5
million to $3 million per college. At Niagara, upgrades and
replacements of hardware and software will cost nearly
$1.8 million. In addition, the ongoing cost to maintain
appropriate computer and non-computer equipment is $750,000 and
$400,000 respectively each year. There currently is no separate
funding from the province for these costs, resulting in continual
deferral of new purchases.
Because most college
buildings are 30 to 40 years old, all of them have serious
deferred major maintenance costs. Prior to moving to the Niagara
area, I was chair of another community college in another city
and I have visited 23 of the 25 community colleges in Ontario. I
can say that there are a fair number that need upgrades. The cost
to restore these facilities at Niagara is estimated to be about
$4.5 million, and throughout the college system, $410
Because of insufficient
funding, colleges have also deferred other types of expenditures.
For example, at our learning resource centres in the three
campuses, only 19% of circulating books are less than 10 years
old; 58% of these books now predate 1980. Obviously we're hooked
into the Net, but someone must have written a book upgrading the
educational processes since 1980. Possibly you could throw some light on that,
Jim. This situation at Niagara and other colleges falls far short
of the standards recommended by the Canadian College Learning
Because of the 15% drop in
funding in 1996-97, class size per instructor has increased 19%
during the last six years. This has resulted in less time
available to assist individual students.
The various deferrals and
changes in class size are largely the result of conditions which
are beyond the control of local college administrations. For
instance, provincial grants per full-time student, and in total,
have declined significantly during the last 10 years. There is a
chart in my presentation which shows that in the 10 years ended
1997-98, the grants per student for elementary and secondary
school boards increased 8.2% to $7,222; per student grants to
universities in Ontario decreased about 2% to $10,854. However,
to community colleges, in the 10 years to 1997-98, the funding
per full-time student has declined over 20% to $6,770.
Annual increases in tuition
have been generally capped. There is a 10% cap on most courses.
There are some specialty courses that have been uncapped and
their costs per student have increased. However, the fee
increases, while significant to students, are far from sufficient
to offset reduced grants. As you know, student intolerance of
these fee increases is growing and becoming more militant.
As an offset to that, the
grants in the two-for-one bursary program have allowed us to give
out more bursaries to needy students. Basically our program of
bursaries and scholarships has moved away from scholarships
rewarding marks to one of bursaries awarding qualified students
financial assistance, not only in the first year but in
continuing years. That has helped significantly.
Salaries for academic,
support and administrative groups are either negotiated centrally
or set at the provincial level with very little input locally.
Salaries and benefits of any community college represent about
80% of the annual budget and they obviously continue to increase
We sincerely appreciate the
government's financial support for new buildings and new
specialty equipment. Of course, a case in point is the $32
million that formed part of our granting for the new facility at
Glendale and also for the partial financing of the $11 million
that has gone into upgrades in Welland. In addition, the
provincial government recently announced a $1.6-million grant to
purchase state-of-the-art equipment in our advanced manufacturing
and research facility. In that area our equipment was decades old
and it has now been replaced, and our students are now operating
with equipment that they will encounter when they go out into the
However, the demand for
work-related, technology-based education grows, but colleges
under the current grant system are progressively hindered by lack
of adequate funding to provide up-to-date replacement resources
to supply such training.
We urge the Ontario
government to address this problem in the next budget,
(1) Provide funding for
cost increases, such as salary costs, which are negotiated
(2) Provide funding to
upgrade computer and other equipment and maintain it thereafter.
This is a major suggestion on our part and on behalf of all the
(3) Provide funding to
restore older buildings to a proper state of repair. As I said,
we've got good support for new buildings, but our 30- and
40-year-old college system requires some upgrading and
(4) Provide funding for
growth programs such as agribusiness. There's a major increase in
the student population in our agribusiness area because our
Niagara Peninsula is one of the main agribusiness users of our
students. Hospitality-we've spoken to that before. Integrated
manufacturing and applied research and international trade-we
have one of the pre-eminent international trade courses. Our
students are accompanying these world tours. They represent
Canadian firms and they are all university graduates. We have 132
university graduates attending Niagara College-at least last year
we did. I don't know what the figure is at this moment. That says
that a lot of them are looking for specialty assistance in their
education, and we're there to provide it. Currently, funding for
growth programs only applies to computer-related programs.
(5) Modify the
enrolment-driven formula-growth for growth's sake. I believe
monies should be directed to growth programs rather than just
increasing the funding per student. If the province feels there
are certain areas of economic growth that we need to support and
to grow, those are the ones that should receive the greatest
amount of funding. Maybe it can be addressed through an increase
in general grants, if that's the easiest way, but that isn't
necessarily the best way to treat it.
Those are the
recommendations of our college foundation.
I've got a brief comment
also on behalf of the St Catharines Promotion Task Force. It
was established in 1990, receiving contributions from 246
businesses in the St Catharines area. Its mandate was and is to
support projects which assist existing business to stay and grow
and also to support projects to attract new firms and employment
to this area.
One of our major concerns
has been the level and annual growth of municipal taxes in St
Catharines and throughout Niagara. We believe that major
restructuring of municipal services and costs must occur in
We think that a single- or
three-city solution will happen within the next few months,
whether agreed and decided locally-and that's what we're still
working on-or whether out of frustration it is ultimately
mandated by a provincial adviser. Hopefully, whatever solution is
decided, aggressive restructuring will start immediately and
continue for the next 12 to 15 months.
In addition to being past president of the St
Catharines Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Chatham
Chamber of Commerce, I have followed very closely the
restructuring of Chatham-Kent and the savings, something like $11
million, $12 million per year, that have resulted from the
restructuring down there. It takes time, though. It takes more
than the nine months Chatham-Kent had. In Niagara, with 400,000
population, it's going to take 12 to 15 months to do it
Such restructuring will
entail significant one-time transition costs for personnel
downsizing, building closures, new signs etc. The transition
government or governments will require provincial assistance for
this task, as did other restructured governments such as the
Chatham-Kent area. We suggest that some funds be allocated by the
Ministry of Municipal Affairs for this situation.
Ultimately, the businesses
and citizens of Niagara will receive more efficient and less
costly municipal government services, but we will require your
help over this initial hurdle.
I have just a couple of
brief comments relative to the chamber of commerce. Some of them
will be addressed in another presentation. In quick summary,
they're indicating that in order to maintain Ontario as the most
competitive jurisdiction in the country, we have to move beyond
deficit elimination and dedicate some of the surplus to debt
reduction and continue to balance budgets.
One of the significant
Niagara concerns of course is the mid-peninsula transportation
corridor. There's been a lot of talk about it. We would like to
see that because since the 1999 report, Niagara Frontier Gateway
Study, nothing really has been done. A joint MTO-Niagara study
was started and it's still in limbo, and I'm not too sure what
"in limbo" means because it could be deferred for a short time or
a long time. We believe that the assessment, planning and
construction of a new thoroughfare through Niagara will help our
general economy. We encourage the ministry to proceed with the
needs assessment study so that we will have sustained economic
stability and growth in the Golden Horseshoe.
Balancing the budget: We
commend the government for reduced deficits, and I understand
that the estimated deficit will be $1 billion in this fiscal year
and that balancing is targeted. We suggest that in the current
budget, the minister forecast the amounts of surpluses he
estimates for the next five years and, to follow that up, to move
towards the reduction of the debt-to-GDP ratio back to the 15%
historical level within the next five years.
Finally, to maintain the
Red Tape Commission and to see that the commission also looks at
how the government can utilize technology to simplify the process
of delivering of government services. The comments regarding the
municipal assessment and taxes will be presented in a few
minutes, so I won't speak to those.
In your package there is
also a copy of the Niagara College 1999 annual report. I'm
available for questions.
We have two minutes per caucus and we'll start with the official
Bradley: Thank you, Mr Johnston. You're wearing about
three or four different hats today. I can't think of anybody
who's more knowledgeable about the community college system than
you are, and as a person from business and industry you would
understand the importance of the community college to our
You are proposing to what
is now called the SuperBuild Fund, which is a renamed existing
fund for capital distribution in the province, in my opinion. I
guess I could ask you this question, because you've covered so
much so well: What kind of impact would the approval of the
funding from SuperBuild on your applications have on the
Johnston: It means that certain projects will move
forward faster and others will have to be deferred. With our
limited facility people we can't do it all at the same time. Our
greatest immediate need is an expansion of the facility in
Niagara Falls. We have demand from incoming students which would
double that facility. Architectural drawings are now underway to
not only double the size of that building but also to build a
residence which will not be funded by the college; it will be
similar to the one in Welland, which is privately run. We have
some of the best-known graduates from that course in the world-a
graduate who was executive chef at Truffles in Singapore. I
followed up and he's now executive chef of 14 restaurants at
Bell'agio, which is the largest hotel in the world, running a
huge staff. There are others similar to him. Our annual chefs'
special dinners that are put on monthly encourage incoming
students. We've got to provide for them but we're also encouraged
to take students from outside Niagara because we are a specialty
here and we've got some really top-notch instructors. To utilize
them means that some of the incoming students are from outside of
Niagara; they're coming from other areas of Ontario. So we're
going to move forward on that.
We would like to have moved
forward on things that have to be done in Welland. We have done a
lot in Welland but there are a fair amount of other things to do.
Because part of our funding will have to be public as well as
government, whatever that ratio is-I think it's 20% or 25%-we
can't just move forward on all the fronts at the same time. We're
addressing that SuperBuild project initially on the Niagara Falls
Thank you, Mr Johnston. You may or may not know that I'm a big
fan of Niagara College, and I appreciate your presentation here
this morning. You and I were becoming really good friends while
you were making the presentation on behalf of Niagara College,
but then you switched hats. I've got to tell you I disagree with
the presentation made in other regards, except for the fact that
I think there are people out there who concur about the
three-municipal option. Tell them I'm confident we would be
pleased to take on governance of the rural area, Thorold would
love to take on governance of the industrial part of St Catharines, and
Niagara-on-the-Lake I'm sure would take on governance of that
tourist-dominated area stretching down south to Niagara Falls. I
concur with you. Pelham, Thorold and Niagara-on-the-Lake would
probably concur with the three-municipal option if it were
designed as Niagara-on-the-Lake being the dominant community,
Thorold the dominant community and Pelham the dominant
Johnston: What would happen to your favourite place,
Welland and Fort Erie are renegade communities. They'll probably
secede from somewhere.
Johnston: Is there a question in this?
Yes, besides just having some fun with the fact that you and I
disagree profoundly in that regard.
What do you say to the
proposition that the Fort Erie survey revealed that most
Niagarans appear not to want the imposed megacity options? What
about grassroots democracy? I'm serious. What do you say to that,
that people have a right to determine how they govern
Johnston: You're suggesting that there would be a
Johnston: I don't know that we want to run that up. If
we're going to do this, we can't wait three and a half years for
it. We need reduced costs. Whatever the mix of geographical
cities is, I think we need significantly reduced costs, and
Chatham-Kent proves that. It's only 10%, but they took 156
politicians down to 18. If you talk to the citizens now, two
years later, they're very happy with it. The mayor and many
others weren't at the time, but they're happy.
I don't know that the Fort
Erie survey was sufficiently broad outside of the boundaries of
Fort Erie. A couple of hundred people is not a good
representation. If you watch channel 10 on Wednesday, Saturday
and next Monday, you'll get my side of the story.
Thank you for your presentation. I note in your book that at the
Maid of the Mist campus in my riding there's a room named after
Mr Kerrio. I would encourage you to maybe name a room at the new
Glendale campus for Tom Froese. With $30 million from the
government for that, maybe you'd consider naming a room in that
building after Tom.
One of the points you had
in here is about who is intolerant of fee increases. There are
more and more people, actually, who are continuing to enrol in
colleges and universities, and that may be the type that will
require more and more enrolment grants.
The other thing I want to
ask you is, surely you believe that students should pay some
portion of the cost of their own education, because there is a
benefit to them. Do you have any thoughts about what percentage
of the cost of their education a student should pay?
Johnston: I don't know. My one son just graduated. He
now has four degrees. He hasn't got a job yet but he just got his
MBA from the Ivey School of Business. That was $11,000 per year
annual tuition, plus the cost of going there, which he and I
financed. I don't know that he could have financed it by himself.
Hopefully before I pass on I'll get some of that back. I don't
know. I'm not counting on that.
But I don't know that
there's a fixed figure. If you're going to move into an immediate
high-paying job, dental hygiene-there are a number of types of
jobs or positions that are so well paid immediately that we can
charge, and I think they should pay, 50% plus.
We have one in Welland
making microchips. We're the only college in Canada that
manufactures microchips, and we can't keep our students until
their graduation. They are being hired away in their final year,
before they graduate, because the pay is so significant. It's
We've run out of time. On behalf of the committee, thank you very
much for your presentation this morning.
WILLIAM BENSEN, LEE SIMPSON
The Acting Chair
(Mr Ted Arnott): Is Mr William Bensen in the room? Would
you please come forward. Welcome to the standing committee on
finance and economic affairs. You have 15 minutes for your
Bensen: I'm William Bensen. I'm a rheumatologist. With
me is Lee Simpson, an arthritis patient. We want to make a plea
today for an investment in arthritis care, which we think will be
an investment that will actually save money.
Let me give a brief
outline. The outline is in the handout.
The impact of arthritis in
Canada in undeniable. Already in Ontario arthritis is the
principal reason for primary care visits and the principal reason
for long-term disability, and as well is a very frequent user of
our drug plans, our hospitals and surgery. With the aging
population and the coming boomer bulge, it will overwhelm our
medical and financial resources if we cannot develop new
paradigms of management to tame what we call this awakening giant
of health care.
In Canada, arthritis is the
leading untreated but treatable disability. Arthritis is not
always curable, but it is usually controllable, especially if
treated early. Early treatment dramatically improves prognosis,
but as well is remarkably cost-effective. In Canada, it is
estimated that for every dollar spent now, $10 to $30 can be
saved later. Immediate diagnosis is the cheapest option,
long-term palliative care the most expensive and costly, yet in
Ontario right now early management is virtually impossible.
The treatment that we use
toward the goal of personal best in each patient is a combination
of a management team and treatment modalities. In recent years,
hospital-supplied management teams have been obliterated by
cutbacks and there have been no new resources put into outpatient care. To give an
example, renal dialysis patients have $4,500 of capitated
professional care a year. The last estimate for rheumatoid
arthritis patients is $50 to $70. In no place in Ontario have
physicians been able to rehire the management teams of nurses and
therapists, and therefore this appropriate care has become
unavailable. Arthritis patients, however, when treated early and
brought under control, usually return to or maintain their work
and become taxpayers again.
So we have a problem with
the management team, but we also have a problem on the drug side.
The drug treatment for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis has advanced
more in the past five years than in the previous 50. The
non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs which up to now were the
baseline of our therapy have been replaced, and will be replaced,
by these remarkable specific COX-2 inhibitors, which have the
same potency but have the side effects and intolerability that we
normally see with a placebo. Already we know that these drugs
would save millions in terms of hospital costs and doctor costs,
but these drugs are currently unavailable in Ontario in the
government-sponsored plan and in many of the private-sponsored
Similarly, we're getting
new drugs that have the ability to turn off the disease process.
We call these the DMARDs, or disease-modifying drugs. These drugs
are expensive and the way you give them, sometimes intravenously,
is expensive. We don't have a fee structure in Ontario that will
even pay the cost of handling this. The $22 for a $500 cost makes
these treatments also functionally unavailable. I believe, and
the statistics show, that the short-term gain from these
limitations will soon be paid in long-term financial and medical
pain by our patients and by all of us as taxpayers.
In essence, I am here to
plead for an investment in arthritis care, an investment which
the evidence clearly shows will pay an annual dividend of about
50%. We believe that in the current gridlock of health care and
the crisis it is going through, arthritis care changes won't
happen. We need the resources now to replace the management teams
which have been cut back by the hospitals, and to give us the new
drugs that will do the job and allow our patients to get their
disease under control.
We believe that an
investment in arthritis care, coupled with new management
paradigms on an outpatient basis, would save both dollars and
people's lives and would be a win-win solution for the
government, health care providers, the public at large and, most
importantly, the patients.
I'll turn it over to Lee
Simpson: My name is Lee Simpson. I'm here today as the
incoming chair of the Arthritis Society, but I speak to you truly
from the heart as an arthritis patient.
I was diagnosed with
osteoarthritis at age seven. My drug of choice during the 1960s
was aspirin, and I went from there to what they call the
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs. These are drugs
like Arthrotec and naproxin, and during the working and
productive part of my life these kept my arthritis well under
In the mid-1990s, however,
they started to take a toll. I was then publisher of Chatelaine
magazine and happily working in my job when the grinding feeling
in the pit of my stomach which I'd been feeling for a while
erupted into a full-blown ulcer. I found myself in hospital with
what was first diagnosed as a heart attack but turned out to be a
very irritated ulcer. Well, there were no more NSAIDs in my life.
When you reach that stage, they really don't help, and there
wasn't anything that did.
For a year, in the most
productive years of my life, I found myself reduced to someone
who was looking, frankly, at long-term disability. In a year I
went from a productive, working citizen to someone who couldn't
move very well, couldn't walk upstairs, couldn't possibly sit all
day in a boardroom meeting. These things were gone from my
I would probably have ended
up in a very sad state of affairs, both physically and
psychologically, you might well imagine, if it hadn't been for
Celebrex, the first of the COX-2 inhibitors. It came along just
in time. I have very recently had the courage, due to the health
reformation that Celebrex has given to me-I'm able to exercise
again; I'm back on the motorcycles that my husband and I so much
love-I have entered a new phase of my career and I have gone back
to school to do my master's of divinity. This is a reformation in
my life that made me want to become more involved and tell the
The second tiny little tale
I want to add to that is the story of someone who's near and dear
to me, my mother, who also suffers from arthritis. However, when
she last year hit the threshold of the end of NSAIDs, the start
of the ulcers, her doctor was most reluctant to prescribe
Celebrex because she said she was concerned about my mother's
pocketbook, and rightly so. We have many elderly female citizens
particularly for whom having drugs that are not on
government-assisted programs is a major difficulty, and a
difficulty in the mind of the prescribing physician when it comes
to alternatives to NSAIDs. Had I not persisted with the
physician, my mother would not be on Celebrex. My mother today
leads a happy, productive life and enjoys her grandchildren and
all that life has to offer.
I hope that these two
stories make a telling point and help you understand better from
the citizen's and arthritis patient's perspective why it is so
imperative to get drugs like the COX-2 inhibitors and the TNFs
that are on the horizon that can help control arthritis and help
those of us who suffer from it live with it rather than fall
victim to it. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We
have just over a minute per caucus. I'll start with the New
I'm no fan of pharmaceutical companies because I think they're
greedy and rip off consumers left and right. But Celebrex, you're
saying, isn't covered in the drug benefit plan?
Mr Bensen: That's correct.
And what's the cost to, for instance, a senior citizen?
The cost is about $1.25 a day for osteoarthritis, and it's
equivalent or less for many of the other plans. In fact, you hear
Bill Clinton arguing about the Americans coming across the
border. That's because the company in Canada put it at 40% less
than the States so it would be more available for people.
And the government is unresponsive to requests to put Celebrex on
I think it's being processed, but so far there's been no decision
made about it, as I understand.
That's nuts. It's whacko. No taxpayer would agree with the
government not listing that, no fair-minded taxpayer. That's a
problem our constituency office has on a daily basis, among
things like home care, which we have big problems with, the
reduced amount of home care available. Delisting of
pharmaceuticals is one of the big problems we encounter on a
daily basis. I wasn't aware of Celebrex, but I could list you a
whole bunch of other pharmaceuticals in any number of areas of
treatment-mental health care, other ailments-that have been
delisted. Doctors are in a dilemma. People who can afford it get
it; the whole rest of the world, including, obviously, a whole
whack of seniors, are denied it. That's pitiful.
Chair: Turning now to the government side.
Mr Kormos is right. What's pitiful is that the NDP delisted
hundreds of drugs in the five years they were in office.
I didn't agree with that.
You never agree with anybody, actually.
Contrary to that direction,
we've actually added 700 drugs to the formulary since we've been
in office. Obviously, you know there's a process in place where a
company that manufactures a drug has to apply to a panel which
then researches the drug, looks into the drug and then decides on
whether or not it's going to be added to the formulary. You've
indicated that that process has been undertaken already?
It has been undertaken; that's correct. In a number of provinces
they are listed. Because we have a process in place in a sense to
get health care and to get drugs, what we're asking for is a
different initiative, a different step, because arthritis isn't
going to be high enough on the radar screens of these committees
to make those decisions, yet it's the investment that keeps
Bart, you can make it happen. Just say yes.
I don't have the ability to say yes. Mr Kormos knows that.
So that process is being
undertaken. Do you know how far along they are in the approval
No, I don't.
Chair: We'll turn to the Liberal caucus.
Kwinter: Mr Bensen, I don't know whether you know it or
not, but I have introduced a bill in the House on alternative
medicine. I have no interest in any specific treatment; I'm only
interested in freedom of choice for the doctor and freedom of
choice for the patient. That was really the intent of the bill,
but as a result of introducing it-and it has now been introduced
three times and it's gotten unanimous approval-one of the side
effects of it is I have been inundated by people who tell me
about all their complaints and all their different treatments.
The most prevalent by far, like 20 to one, is people calling me
about glucosamine sulfate, telling me how it helps their
arthritis and they're saved by it. We don't have time, but I
could tell you a story about a doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital
who's doing a study on it. What can you tell me about that?
In a nutshell, the data to date shows it does have an analgesic
effect, and there is some data, that isn't perfectly put together
because of the X-ray technology, that suggests that maybe it'll
help slow the process. In a sense, it would be like a Tylenol. It
would have an effect of about this much. The drugs we're talking
about here have an effect of about this much and the data's very
clear. There's no question, some people do get a response from
the glucosamine, but it is not enough of a response to return
them to normal life. So we tend to tell people that if they want
to take it, please take it, because that will help, but you need
the bigger things also, at the same time.
I wasn't aware of the bill;
Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We
appreciate your advice.
Point of order, Chair: I'm concerned about M. Beaubien, the
Chair. He's been gone for some time. I'm not sure whether he's
well or not. Should somebody go looking for him?
Chair: I think he's just fine.
Could I make a motion that Mr Kormos go and look for Mr
You don't know how much I'd love to.
Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Kormos.
Chair: I'd like to call forward Mr Ian Spraggon, if he's
in the room.
Spraggon: I'm Ian Spraggon.
Chair: Welcome, Mr Spraggon. You have 15 minutes for
Spraggon: My presentation is not generic, but is related
directly to the Niagara region. I will be brief.
I'll draw your attention to
those charts I distributed. Down the left-hand side is the tax
ratio and along the bottom are some of what we consider to be the
competing areas to the Niagara region-not a difficult
calculation. Obviously, as you can see from those charts, the
Niagara region has an enormous property tax problem, which I suggest affects the
economics and certainly obstructs economic development.
The Fair Municipal Finance
Act, 1997, is quite specific when it says the tax ratio for
residential/farm property class is 1. The act, to the credit of
the government, I think really simplified the process. It was
always very difficult for someone to appeal their taxes because
they never understood where the calculations came from, and today
a homeowner can understand where they came from and, without the
expense of an expert, can figure out their taxes, ie, the tax
ratio multiplied by the property value equals the taxes in
dollars. They can then make an educated decision on whether or
not to appeal.
The subsequent regulation,
which gives the allowable ranges for tax ratios, gives us
multi-residential of 1 to 1.1, commercial-industrial of 0.6 to
1.1. My interpretation of that is that the minister wants the tax
ratio on commercial and industrial properties to be no higher
than 10% of residential. Therefore, if I have a house valued at
$400,000, my property taxes will be $4,000. My factory valued at
$400,000 will be taxed at $4,400. The legislation, if I read it
correctly, gives the municipality until 2005 to achieve the
My concern and the reason
for my presentation today is I'm not sure that the municipal
politicians in Niagara have understood that the clock is ticking
and that we're nowhere close to achieving these ratios. I'm not
even convinced that they understand this despite the fact that we
have 130 of them-one for every 3,000 of the population. The
regional chair, as an example, on a recent television appearance
quoted the Slack report of September 1999, which suggests that
the taxes in Niagara are right in there with most Ontario
communities. I would totally disagree. Let me give you an
example. A $150,000 house in Milton, which most of us would agree
is pleasant community, with good shopping, good highway access,
an international airport nearby, GO train in rush hour, a lot
more things than we have-taxes are $1,650, a 1.1 ratio. Niagara
Falls, same house: $2,150, a 1.7 ratio. Real estate practitioners
will tell you that house deals collapse for a whole lot less than
With the tax ratios we now
have in Niagara, this is the scenario. That $400,000 house has a
ratio of 1.7 and the factory has a ratio of about 9. If you do
the math, the house taxes are about $6,700 and the factory about
$36,000. However, if my interpretation of the legislation is
correct, those factory taxes should be closer to $7,400. How do
we close the gap? We can pray hard, obviously, for another
government in the next provincial election to rescind the
legislation, or we prepare, I think, for an unbelievable increase
in residential taxes. I don't see where else it's going to come
from. I can almost guarantee you that you, the provincial
politicians, will be blamed.
There are many examples,
and I'll give you one excellent one. A friend of mine, employed
at Brock University-he's not a dummy-wrote to me about his
property taxes. He has a rural property of about four and a half
acres and said that on the market value assessment he got a
dramatic increase. Being a fair sort of person, he said: "I don't
have a problem with that. I wasn't paying sufficient taxes
anyway." Interesting. Then he got his notice, which came at the
time of the actual value assessment from the province, and his
taxes increased 21%. In fact, his taxes increased 15% because of
the region and 5% plus because of the municipality. But that was
not his position; his position was that it was the province doing
current value assessment.
My appeal to this committee
is to urge the finance minister to make these municipalities face
the music now and persuade the government to put the citizens of
this region out of their misery by addressing the governance
issue. I think it should be one city of 414,000; I noticed
yesterday that it had jumped to 422,000. Dispose of 120
politicians and allow us to speak with one voice on economic
development, not 12. It's unbelievable that we have 12 economic
development offices for a population of 414,000. I recognize that
you're not the economic development committee and you're not
municipal affairs, but my mother always told me that he who pays
the piper calls the tune.
Lastly, one of Conrad
Black's better hires is a young writer in St Catharines by the
name of Doug Herod. The header in his column on
municipal-regional government, November 19, 1998, says, "More
Mischief in a Dysfunctional Family." And he got it right.
Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We
have some time for questions, if you care to take them, from the
three caucuses, starting with the government this time.
I think Doug Herod is actually a favourite of Mr Bradley's.
Bradley: Don't stick him with me.
I'm sorry. I thought he was; I know Conrad Black is.
Bradley: They all get told what they have to write.
Do you know Conrad Black?
No. I never met him. We had an earlier presenter from the St
Catharines Labour Council and we were talking about the
industrial tax rate. This really shows how out of whack-I said at
the time that ours were amongst the highest in the province. This
chart shows that Niagara Falls, Welland and St Catharines, the
three principal cities in our region, all have about a 9%
industrial tax rate. The closest you get to that is about, what,
7.5% in Kitchener? Cambridge is 7.2% or something. Those
municipalities are ripe and leaning right towards amalgamation
themselves, so you would expect that rate to decline, probably
below 7%. That leaves us 2.5 points above anyone else in
I suggested at the time
that that has a negative impact on an industry's decision to do
business in this region, would discourage them from doing more
business, and in some cases retaining current business, in this
region. Do you think that's the case?
Mr Spraggon: I've always
classed Mississauga-Oakville as being our competition. I have,
for the most part, avoided industries sitting on Highway 401,
figuring that's not exactly our competition. But even when we
look at those municipalities, we're totally out of whack. If you
look at property prices, industrial-commercial in Mississauga or
Oakville, they're about the same as here, $3.25 or $3.50 a square
foot to lease a place. Then you give them the whammy with the
taxes. You do the add-ons, the TMI-the taxes, maintenance,
insurance-and we're simply out of whack.
If you're talking about
2,500 square feet, it's not a big deal in the scheme of things.
But if we're talking about a factory that's dear to a
politician's heart-50,000 would sort of indicate it's a little
bit labour-intensive-it's huge, absolutely huge.
This also indicates that we're higher than every municipality on
this chart in residential property taxes right now.
Spraggon: That's right. Incidentally, I did not prepare
those charts. Those charts were prepared by the region.
Bradley: I agree with the challenge that we have to
meet. I don't actually agree with the prescription, Ian, that you
have for it. Unfortunately, we haven't heard on this matter from
Dr Andrew Sancton, who is expert on the field of megacities and
their effect. Dr Sancton states that there are no savings. He's
done several studies. There are no savings, ultimately, with one
big city, contrary to what some people continue to write.
Second, he pointed out that
in places like Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and
Chicago, they have all kinds of municipalities within the
municipality, so the argument that if you speak only as one big
region somehow it's an advantage, he indicates clearly that that
is an advantage which is far overestimated.
The obsession with too many
politicians-I can think of what you'll have for the regional
council. You may be happy with it; I wouldn't be. If you have a
16-member regional council, they'll all be rich candidates,
because they'll have to be rich to run, or you will have party
politics sitting there. If I were a lobbyist, I'd be delighted to
be able to get at only 16 people. It won't be very representative
of the community. I disagree with individual councillors from
time to time, but at least they reflect the community.
I would suggest, Ian, that
the real problem is the downloading of $18 million in additional
net costs on the region by the province. That's why we see such a
huge increase. I do agree with you that we have to address that,
and the nine bills that have been passed in the Legislature
dealing with it, each one correcting the last one, have not done
so so far.
Spraggon: If I could address that very briefly, I liked
the quote the bank president gave: "The status quo is not an
option." The huge tax rate is not new to us. It has been lying
around there for years. The Kingston report-and then you go to
the Chatham-Kent experience, which is not just a report-is
interesting because they went ahead on the basis of that
My main thrust in
everything is economic development or the lack of it. We are so
parochial in this region, we absolutely kill ourselves. I asked
the mayor, when he went over to Cologne on the world rowing
thing, "How many people asked you on which bank of the St
Lawrence St Catharines sat?" He said, "Nobody asked that specific
question," but everybody asked him where it was. We kill
ourselves in St Catharines because we're not Niagara. You need to
geographically, in their heads, decide where they are.
We are so parochial. I had
an example just a month ago where I got an inquiry for a
5,000-square-foot restaurant in downtown St Catharines from the
city. That same inquiry went to Niagara Falls. But because I'm
not in Niagara Falls, I don't get the inquiry despite the fact
that I have a 5,000-square-foot restaurant in Niagara Falls. In
terms of economic development, we would rather see that person
drive up the highway to Mississauga than locate them elsewhere in
the region. In other words, they don't believe that if somebody
sells a washing machine in Port Colborne, I'll eventually make a
I appreciate your comments, quite frankly. They're very
provocative. I think you know where I'm coming from a little bit
on this megacity stuff. You've got Welland, St Catharines and
Niagara Falls. I can't dispute that. I'd like to see Thorold,
Pelham, Fort Erie. I don't know where they stand with respect to
those other communities that are listed here, but it would be
interesting to see where they stand with respect to St
Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, because my impression, based
on what people tell me, is that they have lower rates. Have you
got that data there?
Spraggon: Let me tell you. Residential, you're one point
higher in Welland than you are in St Catharines, which means
you're two points higher than Niagara Falls. You're 1.8442.
Thorold, you're 1.684, which is about the same as Niagara Falls,
which is 1.686. Go to industrial, almost the same. Thorold is
0.8. I don't have Welland there, but I'm sure Welland is up there
Those are some of the figures I'd like to look at. It's too bad,
because the region wanted to come here today. I've got a letter
from Debbie Zimmerman, the chair-
Spraggon: They weren't allowed to?
It would be fascinating to put the points you raise to the chair
and have some debate here. That's what this is all about. I've
got a letter from the chair, Debbie Zimmerman, dated February 9,
expressing her regret that, notwithstanding their efforts, the
region cannot participate directly to express its concerns. In
the letter she talks about some of her concerns about the 10-5-5
issue and about the overall tax issue and the fact that the
region has shown some restraint, reduction in services among
other things. It's unfortunate because I appreciate what you've
had to say. At face value, I don't quarrel with it. How can I?
That's the data. But it would be so nice to be able to engage the
region in that debate.
Mr Maves: On a point of order,
Mr Chair: I think you should perhaps explain to the committee how
people get selected to appear.
Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Maves. I will. The
subcommittee of this committee, which is a committee represented
by members of all three parties, makes determinations as to how
the committee is going to deal with presentations. You will know,
Mr Kormos, that a member of your party is on that committee and
was a part of that decision-making process. It's my understanding
that the region made a request to present before this committee
but that the request came in after the deadline. Certainly the
region has an opportunity to present a written submission to this
committee which will be considered in the context of all the
On the point of order, the committee is scheduled to sit until
3:30, which means 4 o'clock, as the last presentation is at 3:30.
However, the data I have show that the 2 pm presentation is
cancelled. I wonder if staff could give Ms Zimmerman a call and
invite her to come and fill in that little spot.
Chair: I'm not the permanent Chair of the committee and
I feel it's not appropriate for me to make a ruling on that.
Where is the Chair? He's been away from here for a long enough
time. Chair, please.
I understand. I'm getting older too.
Sorry about missing the discussion, but apparently you raised the
concern with regard to the region of Niagara not being able to
make a presentation. The reason is that we made a decision as a
subcommittee that they were not on time in asking to be a
presenter in Niagara Falls. We've also had other requests from
other groups whose applications were not on time. We decided that
we would not make any exception for any groups. Consequently, we
are sticking to-no pun intended-our guns here for the rule of
consistency throughout the hearings throughout the province. The
region of Niagara is not the only one that has requested. We had
other groups. However, we refused the other ones and consequently
will maintain our consistency.
Kwinter: Mr Chairman, I should explain also. The 2
o'clock slot has been filled, but it was filled with a presenter
who had presented on time but couldn't be accommodated. He had
made his presentation on time; we just didn't have room. He was
contacted to say, "There is a spot for you," and they will be
May I make a motion, please? I move that this committee sit an
additional half hour and that the region be contacted to invite
them, Ms Zimmerman or any other representative of the region, to
be the final presentation today after the Taxpayers Coalition of
I appreciate the
explanation about the subcommittee, but this committee has the
power to overrule the subcommittee. It can control its own
process. So I so move.
Mr Kormos, I will not entertain taking that motion on the floor.
I have made a decision, and if you don't like my decision, you'll
have to appeal it to the Speaker. My decision is not
We are now adjourned.
The committee recessed
from 1206 to 1302.
TOGETHER IN EDUCATION
Good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to bring the committee back to
order. Our first presenter this afternoon is the Elementary
Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Waterloo local. Would you please
come forward and speak your name for the record.
Elinesky: Actually, there are three of us here and we
represent a group that is known as Together in Education, from
Waterloo. The groups that we represent in our submission are the
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Waterloo local, the
Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, Waterloo unit,
the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, district 24,
as well as AEFO, who are not present here this afternoon. The
three of us-myself, John Ryrie and Pat Cannon-will be making
individual presentations as we go through this.
The people we represent are
75,000 students and more than 4,000 teachers in the region of
Waterloo, and educational workers as well. The following
presentation indicates our belief that the education system lacks
the resources to provide the quality of education Ontario
students deserve and expect.
The current Ontario
Teachers' Federation public education campaign indicates that the
great expectations of students, parents and the general public,
plus great teachers, along with the government support, equals
great results. We are here to encourage the government to provide
the necessary support to reach this lofty goal.
Ryrie: If we look back at least two years, the Ontario
government at that time proclaimed it would provide stable
funding; it was a primary goal. Funding was going to be stable in
a couple of ways. First, boards would be receiving the same
amount of money per pupil. They would continue to receive similar
amounts per pupil for the foreseeable future, thus creating a
stable and level playing field in all boards across the province.
This stability, once reached through increases in funding to
boards who had historically received less per student, such as
the separate and rural boards, would allow all boards to provide
the same level of opportunity and support to all students in
Ontario. At least on paper, this was a noble ideal that promoted
the equitable use of social resources.
The other idea reflected in
the concept of stable funding was that students, schools, boards
and parents would know henceforth that funding would not be
subject to fluctuations of political whim or the uncertainty of
local or regional economic growth and development, such as were
talked about by previous people this morning.
centralized funding, schools would be stable in the delivery of
their programs, their level of service and their staffs. On both counts the
government is failing to deliver stable funding. On page 17 of
our submission you will see a chart of the 1998-99 and 1999-2000
figures for 56 school boards, which was recently produced by the
Ministry of Education. The chart clearly shows that reforms have
not produced equal funding. In fact, the funding is tremendously
unequal on a per pupil basis, and the differences are not
cosmetic or trivial but represent a difference of millions of
dollars to a public board such as our own, which educates 60,000
students. If we had $100 more per student, for example, we'd have
$6 million more.
On the one hand, such
differences are likely inevitable and reflect, to a degree, real
differences in geography. This would certainly explain why many
northern boards appear near the top of the chart. They have
extraordinary transportation and heating costs before you even
begin to count their other exceptional costs, such as
communications and supplies as well as financial incentives to
entice employees to work in remote environments.
On the other hand, only
some of the discrepancies can be attributed to geography.
Instead, the chart suggests these conclusions: (a) equalized
funding, and equal student opportunity, to date is a social lie;
(b) since June of 1995 the province has simply rearranged the
haves and have-nots by replacing one form of inequity with
another; (c) the gaps between boards are too large and pronounced
to be closed by merely tweaking efficiencies, which was certainly
the focus of the EIC as it went around the province fairly
On January 13, the director
of the Waterloo Region District School Board announced, via an
interview reported in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, that the
board is looking at a $5.2-million shortfall for 2000-01. This
figure has been repeated at public budget forums as recently as
February 3. To cope, the board is looking at further cuts to
school staff and school programs. Basically it is looking to
reduce what it offers to students. Logically, however, if the
Waterloo Region District School Board had truly stable funding,
it would have enough money next year to fund all the classes and
programs the board has this year, but it doesn't.
This is not a short-term
problem or an aberration. This shortfall is a problem that comes
on the heels of seven years of cuts. In 1992-93, Waterloo spent
$6,700 per student. In 1999-2000 the same board is spending, by
its own reckoning, $6,100. The board has more students than ever
before, and yet its income in 1999-2000 is millions of dollars
less than it was several years ago. In fact, throughout the 1990s
the public board in Waterloo has lost teaching positions, library
and guidance positions, secretarial positions, custodial
positions, dozens of consultants, senior administrators, middle
management, small schools-the list goes on and on. In the back of
the document you have a list from 1996, which shows just the
examples from one year of cuts.
The obvious question is:
Where is the stable funding that has been promised? Unless the
legislative grants increase in March, stable funding is just a
political myth, a fantasy assuagement of the anxiety of parents,
who want the best for their children and thought that provincial
funding would deliver it and continue to deliver it.
What one sees in Waterloo
and other boards is not stable funding but rigid and inadequate
funding. One could also call it static funding or stagnant
funding, or perhaps even strangulation funding. Simply put, the
funding model fails to provide the support required to create a
true educational stability.
First, the model ignores
inflation, as someone also pointed out this morning. Yet if the
Waterloo Region District School Board were receiving a modest 2%
increase, the board would also be receiving an additional $7
million dollars, which would be well over the predicted
shortfall. By not building in escalators, the funding model
continues to reduce educational supports for students. When
boards have no choice but to pay more for heat, light and
supplies, something else has to be lost or reduced. Ironically,
in refusing to add funding to compensate for inflation, the
Ministry of Education constrains schools and boards in a way that
neither the business community nor the government generally
Secondly, the funding model
is blind to reasonable salary expectations. Nurses, auto workers,
even Ontario government employees, have all received pay
increases of 2% and up, some even retroactive to 1998 as the
nurses recently got. But even though teacher salaries have been
essentially frozen for seven years, since 1992, the ministry
through its funding model continues to expect educators to fund
any pay increases by losing positions and taking on an increased
load such as a seventh secondary class. The funding model only
haphazardly supports the long-standing structure of six of eight
for secondary; for the most part, the funding formula presumes an
average workload of 6.5 or 6.67, which is a destabilizing
pressure. One need only review the last two years at a few boards
such as Durham Public and Dufferin-Peel Catholic to see and
understand the devastating effects of assigning additional
classes to full-time high school teachers.
When the ministry first
developed the funding model, many critics said it was too
simplistic, that no simple formula could possibly apply equally
well to all areas of Ontario or even to two commensurably
identical boards. Nevertheless the government claimed that equal
funding would fix discrepancies and put everyone on an equal
footing. This has not happened. The most painful consequence of
all the rush and confusion and ministry abstract policies has
been the reduction of educational standards in many boards of
education including the Waterloo Region District School
Fewer dollars has meant
fewer supports for students, not better or enriched
opportunities. In this sense the ministry, ironically, has not
demonstrated the accountability it has demanded of everyone else,
and the real goal has not been the improvement of education, as
Bill 160's title promised, but the squeezing of the more extensive and sophisticated
boards, such as Waterloo, into a plainer, barer and, without
doubt, cheaper box.
What we would like the
ministry to do is provide truly stable funding. Truly stable
funding would recognize inflation. Truly stable funding would
treat educational employees no worse than other employee groups
in both the private and public sectors who have been receiving
pay increases and improved working conditions for the last
several years. Truly stable funding would recognize the real
complexities of geography and school-building history, especially
in large boards. Truly stable funding would map out the stable
needs that are required to support students everywhere and then
fund those needs, instead of imagining a mythical norm and then
forcing boards to make ugly educational amputations to achieve
the mythical ideal.
boards, teachers and students during a period of unprecedented
growth, development and success is a major contradiction. If
school failure were so rampant and truly responsible for
provincial uncompetitiveness in a global economy, our whole
economy and social structure would be failing miserably. Instead,
Ontario is leading the G7 nations and Canada. Most of the
employees fuelling this growth were educated in a period of
substantially higher support for students. Concomitantly, decades
of rigid underfunding of California schools ruined that state's
educational infrastructure. Years of underfunding of schools in
Great Britain has also devastated their system. More money is
certainly not the only answer to any deficiencies in our present
system, but it is certainly part of the answer. Bill 160 itself
accepted this idea in pushing so strongly for improved funding
for separate and rural boards.
What we would like the
ministry and current government to do is ensure adequate funding
so that boards can stop making cuts that in the short and long
terms simply reduce the viability of the job of teaching and in
turn the opportunities offered to students.
Cannon: I'd like to deal with a couple of specific
The early years: There is a
great concern for the way funding is allocated for early year
classes, being kindergarten and JK, in schools. Because the
children are included in the 25:1 ratio for the aggregate count
in a school, we end up with a couple of areas of concern.
First, it is extremely
unreasonable to think that a class of 25 or more three- to
six-year-old children is a manageable group. There are, however,
many situations where this is the case in Waterloo region. To
accommodate these numbers there are many blended or split JK-K
classes, which would indeed have this age range in them. This
becomes an issue from purely a safety aspect. One adult
supervising that many little ones, let alone attempting to teach
some academics, would have his or her hands full. Because funding
is limited, an educational aide is not hired to assist until the
average number of students in these classes for the separate
board exceeds 23. For example, in a school where there are 52
JK-K students, one class is kept around 23 and the other would
have 29 and receive an educational assistant to assist for that
half day. This is the current practice, although it can hardly be
considered an adequate resolution to the concern.
Research has shown us that
smaller numbers of students in the younger grades has a positive
effect on their ability to learn because of the increased amount
of individual attention they receive from the teacher.
Consequently, many elementary schools endeavour to reduce the
number of students in early years classes, if they possibly can,
by rearranging the numbers of children in the other classrooms.
Accommodating lower numbers in JK and K classes has the
detrimental effect of causing the rest of the classes in the
school to be larger than the 25:1 legislated by the government.
This puts added stress and additional workload on the teachers in
the upper grades.
Second, the full-time
equivalent per pupil amount of funding for JK and K students
doesn't recognize and account for the double usage, and therefore
high cost, of regular replacement of early years classroom
equipment such as toys and games, outdoor play and gym equipment
as well as the many learning activities and materials that are
necessary for this age group, nor does it cover the cost of the
large amount of consumable materials. Indeed, most early years
teachers subsidize their students' classroom learning by
purchasing many materials and activities with their own funds.
This is often the only way the teachers can assure they will have
the equipment or materials they need when they want them.
In a survey conducted by
Environics for OECTA two years ago, they found that teachers
spend an average of $400 a year on their classes. You can be
assured that the early years teachers would be spending at the
higher end, contributing to that average. Most teachers don't
mind buying special things for their classrooms. We just should
not be depending on their contributions as a subsidy to the
current funding situation.
Burnout is another issue.
How is funding affecting the burnout level of teachers? This is a
more complex situation, but the relationship is definitely there.
Every week, we as federation leaders are seeing and counselling
more teachers who are finding it harder and harder to deal with
the multitudinous curriculum changes that have been downloaded
onto classroom teachers over the last year and a half. They are
expected to implement all the changes in every area of the
curriculum, based on new and more difficult expectations for each
age level. They are expected to evaluate the children's progress
using an entirely new assessment model. Then they have been
required to report on the progress on new report cards using
faulty and defective computer programs which frequently have
caused teachers to lose an entire class set of reports when a
spell check was done.
Because of these problems,
we find ourselves in a major dilemma. The teachers continue to
require a great deal of in-service just to begin to accomplish
some of these expectations. Normally, in previous years, this
would or could have taken place on professional development days that were
scheduled for this purpose. We now have only four such days in an
entire year. This is far too little time to manage the gargantuan
task that is still ahead of us. We therefore must find some other
way to deliver the necessary information.
Can it be provided through
workshops during the day? This would seem reasonable at first
glance, but there is too much information to be dispersed,
causing too many teachers to be out of their classrooms too much
of the time. To further complicate matters, there are often not
enough occasional teachers available to cover classes for the
teachers receiving professional development. As well, in many
cases there is not enough money provided in the budget to pay for
occasional teachers to cover classes for professional development
to take place during the workday. Conversely, the classroom
teacher would actually prefer to be with their own class,
teaching their own students, during the day. PD opportunities
should be available when they don't conflict with so much
classroom time. It would seem reasonable to schedule more PD
More schools and boards are
now scheduling PD opportunities after school. This may be the
answer to the cost issue, but we now enter the teachers' own
time, and how much of it is actually available with all the
planning, organizing and marking that needs to be done. Teachers
generally spend three to four hours of additional time beyond the
six or seven hours at school. The added pressure this expectation
brings increases stress in their lives to a very high degree.
Split grades are another
problem, and one that is further exacerbated for teachers when
they are responsible for having two grades within their classroom
contingent. There is currently not enough funding to allow for
greater flexibility in the arranging of classes to eliminate this
split grade situation. Teachers who have split grades are now
responsible and accountable for knowing, teaching, evaluating and
reporting two full grades of curriculum. There is not time in
one's day to fit in all that is necessary for a single grade, let
Teachers continue to take
on more and more, and now many of them are starting to break
under the pressure. Teachers with the Waterloo Catholic District
School Board have one of the highest LTD experience ratings in
the province. In the private sector there is a claims rate for
LTD of about seven per thousand claims. In education the Ontario
rate is about 16 claims per thousand for 1998-99. With the
Waterloo Catholic District School Board the rate was almost 30
per thousand. In education as well, over 50% of the claims are
stress-related. Inadequate funding is creating increased workload
situations that are proving to be hazardous to teachers'
From the Catholic
perspective, as previously outlined in this report, there are
many similar concerns about the effectiveness and inadequacy of
the funding model for the Catholic boards as well. While it is
true that some Catholic boards are receiving more money than they
did before, the previous amounts were much lower than what public
boards received. Because of the long history of lower funding for
Catholic schools in the province, many of our schools have been
unable to maintain physical and educational equality with their
public school counterparts, let alone improve these standards.
Even today in Waterloo region there is a large discrepancy in the
amount of money received per student by the Catholic versus the
public board. In total it would make an over $3-million
difference if we were funded at the same level as the public
In Waterloo region, the
Catholic schools have been without the services of
teacher-librarians for the last six years. We have been unable to
fund special qualified itinerant art and music teachers for over
10 years and, to my knowledge, we have never had drama, physical
education or guidance teachers in the elementary schools even on
an itinerant basis. Our base of resource people at the board
level, such as consultants and special service teachers, has been
steadily declining over the last 10 years. Consequently,
associated programs have deteriorated or disappeared
We have had a reduction of
department heads in our high schools from over 100 several years
ago to a total of just 40 today. All these reductions in staff
have a huge effect on individual teacher workload and program
delivery, as many of the tasks have been downloaded on to their
Ongoing costs continue to
rise, and current funding does not meet the regular class
expenses. With the recent wholesale changes to the curriculum,
there are no longer sufficient textbooks and learning materials
in classrooms to meet the needs of children in the schools. Texts
for intermediate geography, history and science average $40 each.
Most schools are unable to purchase enough texts for every
student in every subject area. They often have to share texts by
alternating days that students can take them home or through
creative scheduling when there are several classes of one grade.
This would allow all students to have some opportunity with a
textbook; however, it hardly provides the quality education we
have always delivered in the past.
It becomes increasingly
apparent that the funding model is too restrictive to accommodate
the local variations and needs of individual school boards. More
flexibility to accommodate local and district needs is
Elinesky: Another area we would like to address is
special needs, in particular ESL and special education.
As pointed out in the
recent EIC report, Waterloo, like many other school boards, is
seriously underfunded, especially in the areas of special ed and
ESL. Waterloo has one of the highest rates of settlement by
recent immigrants to Canada and therefore the needs for ESL are
even more immense.
There is also a significant
number of students who come to our schools from
non-English-speaking homes. The Mennonite population of Waterloo
is a prime example. We have many students entering kindergarten
and grade 1 who do not
speak English and who are not eligible for ESL support because
their families have been in Canada for many years. This compounds
the problem of high numbers in our primary grades, as discussed
earlier, as our teachers try to accommodate the special
circumstances of these non-English-speaking students.
Special education funding
for our neediest students is also dangerously low. Over many
years, the board has developed special education programs to meet
the needs of our students. The lack of funds in the current model
has forced the board to cut programs drastically. As reported by
school business officials across the province, the boards are
spending $100 million more on special education than they
receive. The Waterloo Region District School Board is no
different as they spend nearly $2 million more than they are
allocated by the funding model. This does not include
transportation costs of an additional $3 million to transport
those students to special classes.
The Waterloo Region
District School Board has attempted to cope with the situation by
overbudgeting for ESL and special education. As a result, serious
cuts have been made in spending for administration, school
operations, computers, textbooks and so on. Boards have come to
the end of the line for cuts in these areas. As pointed out
earlier, the board is now in the untenable situation of trying to
maintain quality but with dwindling funds to provide programs.
Our youngest, neediest students are at risk. Not to address their
needs when they are entering the school system is to condemn them
to failure, and the resultant cost to society will be huge.
As a result of having
insufficient funds for vital programs and materials, the level of
fundraising in our schools is at an all-time high. In years gone
by, schools spent money on fundraising for perceived extras such
as creative playgrounds. Now, students and school councils are on
the streets for a different need. Let me quote from a recent
newsletter sent home by a local school council: "Parents are
fundraising more than ever just to cover the basics. Fundraising
now goes to replace broken and outdated equipment and to purchase
text books and wall maps."
In conclusion, there are
many issues that we have pointed out in this document. It is our
sincere hope that you will look at our recommendations as
positive suggestions for improving the quality of education for
our most important resource, our children. Teachers want to do
the best job possible. They want our system to work well. But
they can't do it alone; they need the tools, resources, both
human and material, as well as an environment that will help
encourage and develop a positive love of learning in our
students. You can help by recognizing that some changes are
necessary in the funding as well as expectations for the
curriculum in order to foster this development in our
As a summary of
recommendations, we would like to see that the funding formula
takes into account inflationary pressures such as, but not
limited to, heat, hydro and salary increases; that the funding
formula adequately funds early education programs such as junior
kindergarten; that there be a reduction in class sizes for all
grades, particularly primary classes; that there be a cap on
maximum class sizes at all grade levels; that the funding model
be adequate to allow a reduction in the number of split classes;
that there be adequately funded professional development
opportunities for teachers during the regular workday; and that
the special education, ESL and learning opportunities grants be
increased to meet the needs of our students.
Thank you very much. We have two minutes per caucus, and I'll
start with the official opposition. Mr Bradley.
Bradley: Thank you very much. You have painted an
interesting picture of what is happening in the Waterloo area. I
suspect that many areas in the province are experiencing the same
I guess we have to look at
the consequences of this for the students and for society as a
whole. The funding model you have talked about does present a
genuine problem. But I want to deal with one phenomenon that is
happening at the present time, and that is the number of teachers
who are retiring, not in the year they can retire, not in the
month they can retire, but on the day they are eligible to
It seems to me that you are
losing an inordinate number of teachers who are, as you say, the
mentors to others, who potentially provide that balance, because
you need some good younger teachers and some teachers with
experience who have been there for many years. To what do you
attribute the fact that people are now getting out of the
profession the day they can get out, as opposed to years gone by,
when they taught for many years beyond when they would be
eligible for retirement?
I think part of it is a true reflection of the burnout that
teachers are feeling. As I mentioned in my section, the workload
has increased for teachers. The expectations on teachers now to
provide more and more services as well as fund some of these
things themselves are far too great for people to consider, at
that point in their careers, that they should still be doing work
to that degree. There is certainly a sense of resentment at a
government that does not listen to the needs that are being
expressed to them on a regular basis. When you get that kind of
response to suggestions, and none of it is taken into account,
there is a sense of despair that a lot of these people feel, and
no longer feel they have a commitment to a system that isn't
Thank you, Mr Bradley. Mr Kormos.
It's interesting that you came to Niagara to make your
submission. I understand your complaint about the ranking of
Waterloo region board, at 43. Take a look at Niagara. We rank
53rd. Holy cow.
I've been blessed, because
at least once a month I get into an elementary or a high school.
Over the course of years, because I have gone to the same
classrooms with some of the same teachers, I have seen kids with
special needs-and some of these needs are very dramatic, or very
demanding. Let's put it that way. Teachers used to have aides helping them out,
but these kids have been a charade, as we all know, to that
classroom education. Your average of a $400 contribution per
teacher-you pointed out that it's only the average. I know these
teachers and have seen them taking stuff in at 8:30 in the
morning. I think teachers are spending incredible amounts out of
pocket. I suggest your figures are, dare I say, conservative.
I'm especially concerned
about our kids with special needs, ranging from those more
readily responded to, to the more-these kids are just getting
swept aside. Teachers are paying a huge price, and the kids are
paying an even higher price.
What's the response when
you get MPPs into your classroom and you say, "Here, look for
yourself. If you don't want to listen to this sort of submission,
come into the classroom and look for yourself"? What's the
response of MPPs when you do that?
Elinesky: It's interesting to note that we'll be
inviting our MPPs. We have a meeting with them on February 25.
We're inviting our local MPPs to come to class with us to see the
The effect is twofold,
actually, in having the students in the class. It's not only that
those students aren't receiving the adequate teaching that they
deserve to have for the special needs that they have, but also
the effect it has on the teacher because then they are having to
spend more time with that student in the class and therefore have
not the time to spend with the other students. It's a Catch-22
between them. Both groups are then getting inadequate time.
One former MPP suggested that those kids with special needs have
no business being in the classroom because they only detracted
Interjection: Name names.
Well, he's not an MPP any more.
That's your time, Mr Kormos. To the government side, Mr
Thank you very much for your presentation. I think you've done a
very effective job of expressing your views. You would be
surprised if I said I agreed with everything you had said, I
think. But I do appreciate the fact that you've made the effort
to come to the committee and I want to assure you that your views
will be taken into consideration among all the presentations that
have taken place over the course of these public hearings.
For my part, I want to say
to Mr Kormos that I accept invitations to visit schools when I
can and I would look forward to visiting a school in Waterloo
region if I receive an invitation of that type. I know that
Elizabeth Witmer has made time in her busy schedule recently to
visit schools in her community, and obviously shares my viewpoint
One statement you made that
I want to ask you about is on page 6 of your presentation. "Bill
160 itself accepted this idea in pushing so strongly for improved
funding for separate and rural boards." Technically, it wasn't
Bill 160 that provided additional funding for some rural and
Catholic boards, but it was Bill 160 that empowered the
government to bring in the new funding formula, which in turn
provided equalized funding, which meant that many Catholics
boards, if not most Catholic boards, would have received an
increase in their per pupil funding compared to what they had
been able to afford before, as was the case in many of the rural
boards across the province. Certainly in Wellington county, the
area that I represented in the Legislature up until 1999, the
public board received considerably more funding per pupil than
was the case previous to Bill 160.
I was just wondering, did
the Waterloo Catholic board receive an increase in per pupil
funding as a result of the new funding formula?
Elinesky: Yes, they have.
Indeed they have, but according to the list that John was
referring to, Waterloo public is ranked as 55th and Waterloo
Catholic is ranked at 67th, with a $144 difference.
Unfortunately, that isn't on the page. We didn't have all the
figures. We're way down here at the bottom.
So yes, indeed, we did
receive some additional monies, but one might think, if we're
talking equalized funding, that for a similar region both boards
would have been receiving similar amounts of money per pupil.
This makes almost a $3.5 million difference.
I look forward to discussing this further.
It will be brought up.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
ONTARIO CHIROPRACTIC ASSOCIATION
Our next presenter this afternoon is the Ontario Chiropractic
Association. Could you please step forward and state your name
for the record.
Haig: Good afternoon. My name is Bob Haig. I'm a
chiropractor practising in St Catharines and the director of
government affairs of the Ontario Chiropractic Association. With
me is Mr David Chapman-Smith, who is general counsel of the
Ontario Chiropractic Association.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your
We appreciate the opportunity to present to you today.
The main message that
you'll hear from us today is that adding more funding or
tinkering around with the health care system is not really going
to be enough to solve the big problems that are ahead of us, that
are ahead of the government. Really, the government needs to do
It needs to completely
rethink how it funds services and why it funds health care
It needs to make
restructuring decisions and funding decisions based on outcomes.
I mean best evidence of patient outcomes, what works, and I mean
best evidence of cost-effectiveness, what works, and what works
in the most
cost-effective manner, because we are all completely aware of the
issues facing health care funding down the road from now.
The third thing the
government needs to do, regardless of the historical silo funding
that exists, regardless of what might happen with respect to
federal funding for health care, regardless of what some people
would call the antiquated provisions in the Canada Health Act, is
to find some way to make the best possible use of non-physician
practitioners if in fact the health care system is going to be
restructured so that it works effectively for the people of
Ontario down the road.
There's a brief before you.
What we propose to do is not to go through the whole thing, but
to go through the executive summary with you and then leave
plenty of time for questions so that we can delve into specific
areas of the brief that are of interest to you or other things
I'll turn it over to David
at this point.
Chapman-Smith: Good afternoon. Actually, to illustrate
the second point Bob made, imagine the management of back pain.
There would be many of you sitting there who would think the most
cost-effective thing to do is to rest for a couple of days and
take nothing because that doesn't involve going to health
practitioners or, if you do go to a practitioner who says, "Go to
bed for two days," that's much better than getting into drugs,
getting into manipulation, getting into all sorts of other
It is now firmly
established that the most expensive thing you can do in the
management of back pain is to tell people to rest, because it
promotes disability, both physical and psychological decline.
There is a tremendous volume of evidence in the last 10 years and
now clinical guidelines telling health practitioners: "Don't tell
people to rest. Keep them moving. Keep them positive. There are
certain things you can do like over-the-counter drugs and spinal
manipulation that are good, but don't send them to bed." A lot of
the common sense sort of things you might think about in the
costing of health care are actually rather different at ground
The submission we've put
before you is a little bit large and, as Bob has said, we're not
going to go through the whole thing. Fundamentally, it covers two
areas: first, health care policy, which is not your concern but
is the background to our presentation today, and secondly,
economic issues. What I have tried to do in preparing this
submission is to, as you will see in the table of contents, give
you relevant questions and areas, deal with them in a very
succinct fashion and give you good references. So if you or
policy people with you want to read about this afterwards, I
suggest it does reward reading. It's good material. It's easy to
You will see in the table
of contents that there is a review of complementary and
alternative medicine, which we see all around the world and which
is here to stay. Two of the quotes I have in here are from the
Journal of the American Medical Association and from the New
England Journal of Medicine, both from leading physicians saying:
"This isn't a fad. This is a complete restructuring of the health
care system and it's here for good."
Basically, patients want
both. They know they want good medical care for certain reasons,
but for chronic and lifestyle disorders and various other things,
they're shopping around for various complementary forms of care.
They want both. They haven't decided for one or the other. I
needn't say much more about that to Mr Kwinter, because I know
about his background in this area and the pressure he put on the
CPSO to come out with the recommendations they did in favour of
the integration of complementary care just a couple of years
Then I look at: What do
Ontarians and others think of chiropractic services? There have
been good surveys done in the province now. If that interests
you, that's covered in detail there. Who uses chiropractic
services? The basic answer is, everyone across the population,
but the details are there. How strong is the evidence of
effectiveness? How strong is the evidence of cost-effectiveness?
What savings could be achieved? That is the only section that
I'll come back to, because that's of relevance to you.
Turning now to the
executive summary, the first two paragraphs are what I call the
health care background, and then we get straight into money. Bob
has made the first point, that it's not a question of just
putting in more funding; we really are at a point of history
where we have to look at quality and restructuring.
(2) The rise of
complementary alternative care has been significant. As I say,
we've given you quotes on that, and I don't go into that
(3) Quality control and
cost savings: The government must focus not only on funding
services but also on assessment of their quality. There is a
compelling need for evidence-based care and funding for services
which have proven effective, cost-effective and accepted. Health
economists, and this is Professor Manga and his team from the
University of Ottawa, predict-and we give their most conservative
figures here; in their full report you'll see they predict three
levels, hopeful, likely, and in any event, and these are the "in
any event" figures-direct savings of at least $380 million year,
and disability and other indirect savings of $1.25 billion, if
barriers to access to chiropractic services are reduced so that
the number of Ontarians using chiropractic services for
musculoskeletal pain doubles from 10% to 20% annually.
There are in fact two
factors-the other one mentioned elsewhere in the brief-that are
relevant here. One is the volume of patients seeking that form of
service for those problems, and the second is doing it early. At
the moment, over 80% of chiropractic patients have had their
problem for six months when they finally pay out of their pocket
to find chiropractic services, and during that six months, of
course, many things have happened. They've used the other health
care system, they've had disability. If you can get them to an
appropriate service quickly, the speed is also relevant
It may be that some of you who have been sitting
around these tables for a number of years still feel there is an
element of major conflict between medicine and chiropractic and
that the Ministry of Health is a little bit chary of getting near
chiropractic. In fact, at ground level things have changed, thank
goodness, for patients tremendously in the last 20 years.
Paragraph 4 draws your
attention to the Chiropractic Services Review Committee Report.
That's the Wells report in 1994, named after Tom Wells, who
chaired it. That was a bipartite committee of the Ministry of
Health. Their representatives were led by Bob MacMillan, an
ex-OMA president and general manager of OHIP at that time, and it
had a number of senior ministry reps. There were four OCA
representatives, including Bob and myself. I can assure you that
when that report came out after three years, at every level of
the ministry every word had been approved, because it was saying
some new things.
You'll see three of the
recommendations here: "That on the grounds of effectiveness,
safety, patient satisfaction and public acceptance ...
chiropractic services should continue to be accepted and funded
by OHIP." I think a lot of people in the ministry to that time
felt it was just political pressure, but on policy reasons it was
felt that that's now well established.
Secondly, "That the
citizens of Ontario should have improved and genuine freedom of
choice...." To achieve that, a number of barriers to access had
to be removed.
Finally, of relevance to
you, "That the current level of copayments for chiropractic
services, particularly in a ... system where other services have
no copayment, represents an inequitable barrier to access which
should be minimized."
In paragraph 5, the funding
of services: The government's decision last year to reduce
funding from $220 to $150 per person per annum and to maintain
funding at its frankly silly level of $9.65-25 years ago, when
chiropractic was brought into OHIP, the government funding was $5
a treatment; it's now at $9.65-is wrong in terms of cost.
Substitution with chiropractic services will bring huge savings,
but these services will not be used while patients are paying $20
a treatment to get there.
And here I pause, because
it has always seemed to me, in the work I do for the profession,
that to advance its interests the OCA and I have to look at the
public interest and have to look at better integration and
maturity in the profession and coming into the health care
system. One of the amazing things we see now is the average
physician wanting to refer patients but unable to do that with a
lot because it's such a financial burden to the patient. I even
know of physicians in Ontario who have as a spouse a chiropractor
who won't refer to their spouse because the patient can't afford
the care. So the integration which is so much needed in the
system is really being prevented for this cost reason.
The second bullet, policy:
The Wells report has recommended that the services should be
improved, but the user fee is now approximately $20 per visit.
I've just mentioned that. The breakdown is there. Actually, the
real cost is the first visit, where you're having X-rays and all
of that. It's a big shot of money straight off, and then 20 bucks
a visit after that.
And it's wrong in the
public interest, we assert.
The OCA recommendations of
a financial nature to this committee are:
At a minimum, funding
should be restored for chiropractic services to the level in the
1970s, namely, 2% to 3% of the OHIP provider services budget.
This would increase access by reducing the patient copayment from
over $20 to less than $10 per visit. The copayment was $1 when in
the 1970s chiropractic was brought into OHIP. The level of
chiropractic during the early 1980s was between 2.5% and 3% of
the OHIP provider services budget. Since then we've seen a huge
growth in the profession, a huge acceptance of its services, many
more patients coming, directly or on medical referral, yet it's a
much smaller percentage of the provider services budget that is
going to the profession. That, of course, is where the funding
Subsidiary points: the
second one is restoring access to funded diagnostic imaging in
hospitals. Everyone agrees this should be done, but it's been
stuck in the ministry for a while.
Third, restoring access to
funded lab services as necessary.
Fourth, making chiropractic
services available in hospitals, primary care reform pilot sites
The only other thing I'll
direct your attention to before pausing for questions is the
first of the three appendices. That is the executive summary of a
report by the economists Manga and Angus. It could well be that
you are assailed by many people arriving here who sit down and
say, "Fund us; you will save money," that you are suspicious of
the sort of figures being thrown around. How could you have such
big savings through better use of a relatively small profession?
Incidentally, there are about 2,200 chiropractors in Ontario
In the executive summary,
page A2, paragraph 5, which, with your forbearance, I will take
you through, there are some facts that might be surprising and
will show why this is so.
(a) Approximately 95% of
chiropractic practice is musculoskeletal or neuromusculoskeletal
disorders: headache, neck pain, back pain etc.
(b) These disorders, which
means things like arthritis and just idiopathic problems or
injuries, are the second and third most costly categories of
health problems in the economic burden of illness. Further than
that, musculoskeletal disorders are the most important reason for
activity limitations and short-term disability and are first in
prevalence in chronic problems. So on every count, this is where
the money is spent.
disorders rank first as a reason for consultation with a health
professional in Ontario and second as a reason for the use of
prescription and non-prescription drugs.
I think (d) is significant. The poor and
lower-middle-income groups and the elderly are low users of
chiropractic because of the deterrent effect of high copayments,
yet the prevalence of these conditions is highest in these
Finally, (e), there is
considerable empirical support for the cost-effectiveness and
safety of chiropractic management of those conditions.
That is the essential
underpinning of that argument. The full report, which is too
long, and we haven't given it to you, can either be downloaded
from the Web site, which is on the first page, or the association
will be happy to provide a copy.
I hope I didn't bombard you
with too much. We would welcome questions.
Thank you very much. We have five minutes per caucus.
Why would the OCA maintain as its position the maintenance of
user fees, having said what you say about chiropractic? And I
don't dispute any of it.
Perhaps we're caught up a little bit in the same game that the
government is, and that is that it's easiest to tinker with
what's there. Fundamentally what should happen is that
chiropractic services should be included as a part of the health
services provided by the government regardless of what form that
takes, whether it's on a fee-for-service basis, the way a lot of
health professional services are paid for now, or whether it's
part of a CHC where chiropractors and physicians and everyone
else are on a salaried basis, or whether it's part of the primary
care reform. The fundamental point is that it should be there
with everything else. I suppose it's just too much of a leap for
us to think that the government would go that far.
If I accept your arguments in terms of it reducing overall cost
and at the end of the day constituting a saving, and if I
continue to believe, as I do, in my opposition to
copayment-because you can reduce the user fee and that might mean
that the deterrent it has will impact fewer people, but
nonetheless it will still impact significant numbers of people.
That was my concern.
Chapman-Smith: Can I just make a brief comment?
Important as it is to try and operate at a level of principle, we
are surrounded by a real world also where, if the government here
were to explore any other jurisdiction worldwide and any other
payment system, there is some small user fee in there. So that's
an additional reason for that.
When the second Manga
report was prepared-the first one was prepared by the Ministry of
Health, or for it, and funded by it, and we thank Frances Lankin
and your party for the funding for that. That was an important
report in 1993. The second one was commissioned by the OCA. At
that stage what we put to Manga, and what in his report he put to
the government, was full funding for seniors and those on social
assistance and then a user fee under $10 for the rest.
I appreciate that the Wells report dates to 1994. I recall that
government. It didn't last much longer than 1994. That government
was also plagued by huge deficits because of the recession.
I just wanted to express
that concern. If the argument is a user fee because people, in
principle, should bear part of the cost, fair enough. I disagree
with that, but that's an argument. The other argument is user
fees to provide a control on people "abusing" the system. To
that-and if you've got time I'd like you to reflect-I say no,
regulate the profession. Just as if you have doctors abusing
their access to OHIP payments, although it's very difficult now
because of the caps, if you have chiropractors abusing it and
giving unnecessary treatment, deal with them within their own
regulatory regime. Is that a fair proposition?
Chapman-Smith: Yes, it is. There are some interesting
issues here that I could get into for the next half hour, but to
cut right to it-and a lot of the members of the OCA would not be
happy to hear me saying this right now, as many members of the
OMA wouldn't be happy to hear their reps saying it-in reformed
primary care I think we're going to see a lot of salaried
services. That's going to solve so many problems in terms of
utilization rates, how you deal with patients and everything
else, and the ability to use different professionals without the
Interesting that you say that.
I've seen the members opposite today kind of nod their heads in
agreement with people who have come and called for increased
funding support for home care, new drugs, long-term care,
arthritis, nurses' salaries, hospitals, child care, secondary
schools, elementary schools, including ESL, junior kindergarten,
teachers' salaries, bureaucrats, welfare recipients' increased
funding, special ed, developmentally challenged adults, colleges,
universities, debt reduction, social housing and capital
By my count, if we do all
that, we're back to about an $11.3-billion annual deficit.
Thankfully, we've gone from that $11.3-billion annual deficit to
a balanced budget, largely through trying to tighten some of our
spending, and through some tax cuts, which have helped to spur
the economy and have actually increased revenues to the province
and helped us get closer to a balanced budget.
My question, actually, is
almost brought out by Mr Kormos's comment. Among all these
things, number one, where does the additional expenditure on
chiropractic services rank or fit in? Number two, related to
that, you say there are direct savings of $380 million. I've read
it before. I've talked to a lot of chiropractors. Dr Taylor is
very good at what he does. The savings from Manga and Wells I
know about. On the same basis, does that $380 million kick in
right away? Does that kick in the same year we bring in funding
or is that a couple of years down the road? How does that all
That kicks in immediately. This is why I started the whole
presentation by saying that the government or the ministry needs to completely
rethink how and why it's paying for things. The government is not
going to save money if it pays more for chiropractic services but
does not capture that savings anywhere. As long as the ministry
only looks at funding in its little silos, that won't happen. It
needs to take a bigger look. Just as if you replace some
physician services with nurse practitioner services there are
going to be immediate savings, if you replace some physician
services and other health care services with chiropractic
services there are going to be immediate savings.
It has to be a replacement, not just an addition.
It has to be an integration. You need to look from the top down
and figure out how you get the best bang for the buck out of the
pieces you've got on the table.
To your credit and Dr Taylor's credit, you guys have been after
this for quite some time and you've not been able to get the NDP
government or our government to really move on this, despite the
evidence. Why is that? Is that because of the silo mentality, the
doctor-dominated mentality in the Ministry of Health? What is the
rationale, in your view, because of that?
It's not fair to say it's a doctor-dominated mentality. I use the
term "systemic inertia." The Ministry of Health and the funding
structures that exist are big and complicated and they've been
there forever, and it is very difficult to change anything like
that. I think we've all seen successive governments look and say,
"We'd better see if we can do things differently and better."
We're just supporting that concept. I'm completely convinced that
if the government were to look at how we can make the best use of
these services, they can find a way to do it.
On that note, in your presentation on page 4 you say, "Making
chiropractic services available in hospitals, primary care reform
pilot sites, health service organizations...." Related to that, I
would ask how your organization feels about the possibility of
the province moving to rostering or group practices with doctors
and maybe a nurse practitioner and a chiropractor and so on. How
would your group feel if we moved with primary care reform in
That's obviously a very broad question. I think David has already
said that fundamentally it's a good idea to move to a more
manageable form of delivering health care, one that removes some
perverse incentives and puts in some better ones. It needs to be
done in such a manner that you are using the best people for the
job and making the most appropriate use of the people. The best
examples are nurse practitioners, chiropractors and midwives. I'm
not at all convinced that the process underway now is doing
Kwinter: Thank you very much for your presentation. In
your opening statement of your executive summary you say that the
system doesn't necessarily just need funding, it needs "changing
societal attitudes." I think that's the core of some of your
problems. As you know, the medical profession 20 years ago openly
denounced chiropractic and called chiropractors "quacks." This
attitude has stuck.
Let me give you an example.
I sit on the board of a hospital in my riding. The
physiotherapist came to a board meeting to say, just as a point
of information, that two of her physiotherapists would henceforth
be providing acupuncture as a treatment. She didn't need
approval-they're a self-governing body-it was just information.
The chief of medicine said, "There is no way that acupuncture is
going to be practised in my hospital." The board was caught sort
of unawares and we said, "We'll report back at the next meeting,"
and at the next meeting it was approved. Mount Sinai Hospital now
has an acupuncture facility.
I think it's going to take
time; I don't have to tell you. It was announced that the
chiropractic college was going to be located at York University
and immediately there were all sorts of people coming forward and
saying, "It is absurd that you would in fact diminish the
reputation of York University by having a chiropractic college on
its campus." I think that is one of the problems and it's really
the crux of my bill, which is to say that there should be freedom
of choice for the doctor and for the patient to have access to
those treatments that can be shown to be of help. It may not be
the conventional way, but it is probably as effective as some of
the conventional treatments. Do you think that's a valid
Yes, I do think it's a valid statement, but I need to say that
we're not talking about services in a profession that is quasi.
The things you've said are problematic for us. You're right,
they're political. When you look at the evidence of effectiveness
and you base your decisions on that, it makes no sense, for
example, that there's an acupuncture clinic at Mount Sinai but
not a chiropractic clinic, if you look at it from a rational
point of view. I do agree with what you're saying, that patients
should have access to services.
Chapman-Smith: Can I just add a brief rider to that. The
point that I would draw attention to-and this is a difficult
thing; again, without spending time, but I'm sure this will ring
true to you-is that there really are very few people against the
chiropractic college going into York University. By a huge
majority, I think 68 to 13, the senate approved it in principle,
but as soon as it was done, the few remaining sword-rattlers in
political medicine get to work and create all this fuss.
Let me give you one example
that you will have read about in the press recently. You have
probably read that there's a woman who's alleged to have died
following a chiropractic neck manipulation. There's been a press
conference, litigation, everything else. Dr Murray Katz from
Montreal, who has fought the profession for 30 years with money
out of the United States, got to the coroner's office-and I know
this through speaking to coroners; and there's not going to be a
coroner's inquest in this, which is what he was pushing for to
get months of bad news-got the name of the family of this woman
who died years ago two weeks after seeing a chiropractor, persuaded the family
to file litigation and set up a news conference, all of this to
help oppose the entrance of the college into York University, to
give bad press. I speak to so many physicians who are irate about
it all, but that's not what you read in the press.
This doesn't invalidate at
all what you're saying because it's perceptions that count, but
really-and I know a little bit about this having a wife who's
both a medical doctor and a chiropractor-the level of acceptance
now is extremely high, based on evidence and interdisciplinary
guidelines. Throughout the world now there are well-established
guidelines that for the average patient with back pain, spinal
manipulation and early activity is as effective as anything and
that you should be seeking skilled manipulation. So there are
wonderful things happening, but still there are these closet
problems and it will take about another 10 or 15 years to get the
final ones out of the way.
Gentlemen, on behalf of the committee, thank you very much for
your presentation this afternoon.
TAXPAYERS' COALITION NIAGARA
I've just been informed that the presenter for 3:30 is in the
audience, so with the endorsement of the committee, we'll proceed
with the presentation from the Taxpayers' Coalition Niagara.
Would you please step forward and state your name for the
Fielding: My name is Ian Fielding.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your
Fielding: I really don't intend to read what we have
written, but I'll paraphrase some of it.
The taxpayers are fully
supportive of the present Ontario government and the many changes
they have brought about to eventually attain a balanced
One of the books I've read
and listened to is by Roger Douglas. Three of his principles when
he was turning around the New Zealand government-and he did do
it-were, "No subsidies, no monopolies and no privileges," and he
lived by those three principles, and they have worked.
The only problem we see now
is that there is a possibility, because we are enjoying good
times in the province, that we may go into a spending mode again.
Then, if the economy changes, we'll be back to where we started.
I would just like to say that we don't want to see this happen.
I'm not saying no spending, but we don't want to go back to where
we were. One of the subsidies I have mentioned here was actually
offered to us. We find it disturbing that there is so much money
out there that it can be offered to organizations like our
On the medical side of
things, we really don't believe we can see OHIP being maintained
in its present form. I don't think we can be all things to all
people and just supply on demand whatever is required. As our
technology grows, so does the cost of medical care within OHIP.
We have a couple of examples here of abuses of the system by
users. There are also abuses of the system by doctors, and one of
them is here as well. It was a personal one that happened to my
Further on, under budget
controls, the one thing that amazes me and our group is that when
the original health plan was put together the federal government,
I've been told, was funding 50% of it and Ontario 50%. I know we
probably can't do much with it now, but why is it that when the
government sets up systems like this, we don't have a binding
contract that once the proportions are agreed to, those
proportions cannot be changed in order for the federal government
to make room for new programs and free up finances and it is just
downloaded onto the province? In a business you certainly
wouldn't enter a contract that didn't have any binding agreement.
I don't see why we as a province should enter those agreements
Going back to OHIP
spending, because of certain extended health care clients and
because of the shortage of doctors in this area, there are many
examples of people who go to the emergency room or a walk-in
clinic-but sometimes the emergency room is their first choice-to
get a prescription so that they only have to pay the $2 drug fee
rather than pay for something or wait for an appointment with a
On the education system,
I'm very pleased to see the proposal that children have to attend
their home school. I think we have to do a little bit more,
because of the proposals that are now before us for funding for
all groups. In the past it was only the public and separate
systems, but I believe we are going to be faced with funding all
the other groups' schools as well. So we're really going to have
to come up with an innovative plan to save the taxpayer.
On downloading from the
provincial government, one of the problems we found was that
certain business people were claiming that the new tax loading
was going to put them out of business. I know there were some
inequities in the system, but we have to make sure, when we
download to local authorities, that not only do we give them the
tools but we make sure they use the tools so they don't put
people out of business and therefore lessen the tax base again.
We want to keep the tax base up so that everyone benefits from
Thanks for your presentation. That gives us about six minutes per
caucus, and I'll start with the government side. Mr Maves.
Welcome to the committee, Mr Fielding.
One of the topics you have
touched on is the medical system. We have already had some
presentations about how even though we're funding it from $17.4
billion to over $20 billion now, and it will continue to grow to
at least $23 billion in a couple of years, most people will say
it's not enough, and doctors and nurses and hospitals will want
more money and so on. There are more and more people-and I think
you indicate this-who don't seem to understand that when they
access the health care system they don't access it properly. They
don't understand that even though their doctor basically says
it's free, in fact it's not free. It comes out of our
Have you got any solutions on how we can deal
with that and make people recognize that there is a cost?
Fielding: I remember one time that I came out of
hospital and I actually got an invoice, which was mistakenly sent
to me, for the cost of the procedures I received in hospital.
That certainly wakened me up to the actual costs. We have to put
some management tool in place to make the public access the
system properly, so we're not paying $500 for a visit to an
emergency room-a figure that was stated for Scarborough General.
It was in excess of $500 per visit.
I really don't know how you
do it. There are various ways to do it, but finding the most
equitable way to do it is certainly a difficult question. It's
probably much easier to manage the doctors' side of it and to
make sure they do not abuse the system. The fear of a lawsuit
against them for malpractice is probably one factor that drives
the massive amount of testing that goes on. I know that the
popular way of managing it is to put a cost on it. I'm not really
You mean user fees, or something like that?
Fielding: I'm not completely against it, because if a
person really can't afford it, it can be refunded to them or it
can be waived. I think there's got to be something put in place
to just stop the misuse of the system-not for somebody who's
using it and really needs it.
I remember, back when I turned 18, having an $89 OHIP insurance
bill for six months sent to me. I had spent lots of time in the
hospital when I was a kid, so I thought this was a great deal,
that I could get all that health care service for $89 for every
six months. That's gone by the wayside and of course we can't do
user fees in Ontario or any other province, with the Canada
Health Act. I know in Sweden they had a problem like we have
here, and many other countries with public health care systems
have had a problem with misuse. Sweden, the home of
socialization, the grandest socialization experiment anywhere,
actually had user fees for a while and it did reduce their use of
the health care system. Those are just options that I've heard
discussed here and there, and I thought that was what you were
getting at with some of your comments.
One of the things you
touched on was the federal-provincial split, and you're right:
Some time ago there was a 50-50 health care split between the
province and the federal government. Over time that has declined,
especially between 1993 and 1998, where it declined dramatically.
It became about 8% that the federal government is funding health
care and the provinces were funding the other 92%. In 1999 they
put back a little bit. They haven't even got anywhere near 1995
levels yet, but they've put back a little bit and their
percentage grew to about 11%. Subsequently, we added more money
and their share has dropped down to more like 10%. Do you see
that as a problem and do you think we should have some kind of
contract binding the federal government and ourselves in that
Fielding: Well yes, I think if you're going to enter
into a contract, enter into an agreement of any sort, it's not
advisable to enter into an agreement where you have no control
and the other person has all the control. This, from the outside,
seems to be what's happening. I would like to think that if my
company is negotiating with our parent company or with another
company, when we sit down and negotiate a contract, that contract
is binding. So I would like to think that if our government is
negotiating a contract with the feds, they would ask the federal
minister to sign it in blood before they walk away. Because if
you take it now that we're supporting it 89% and they're
supporting it 11%-that $23 billion, the differential there, would
be very attractive to the government of Ontario right now, to
have that in their pocket, rather than not to have it.
I'm sorry, we've run out of time. Mr Bradley.
Bradley: Following on that line of questioning, would
you agree, then, that any contract between the provincial
government and the municipal government should follow the same
Bradley: I'm glad to hear that it's a matter of
principle on that.
Dealing with the problem of
provincial debt, the taxpayers' coalition has been an advocate of
elimination of debt, lowering of debt, dealing with the debt
problem that we have, and has on many occasions stated how much,
even probably to the minute, we pay in terms of servicing that
debt. The provincial government of Mike Harris-and you extolled
their virtues in here-has added at least $22 billion to the
provincial debt, part of it by making a decision to invoke tax
cuts before eliminating the deficit, something that I think my
friend across the way Mr Arnott advocated against many years ago,
advised the government that they should in fact deal with the
debt before they invoked any tax cuts. Do you believe that it
would have been wise to try to pay down that debt and save the
tax cuts for when we reached a position where we had eliminated
the debts in the province?
Fielding: I'm not an economist, and I think if you asked
half a dozen economists the same question you'd get half a dozen
If you're going to make the
economy in the province better by giving tax cuts-and most
economists agree that tax cuts boost the economy-then you're
going to have greater revenue to pay down the debt. There's merit
in both arguments. As I say, I'm not the expert. I just pay the
taxes; you're the guys who spend them.
Bradley: The Dominion Bond Rating Service, a very
small-c conservative organization that watches governments such
as the Ontario government and has not placed it at a triple-A
rating-I think the last time we had a triple-A rating was
1989-said the government was yielding close to $5 billion a year
in potential revenue which could have been applied to debt
reduction, in other words, bringing the deficit down at an earlier
point in time. So this $22 billion or $24 billion worth of debt
accumulated under the Harris government would perhaps have been
$12 billion or something of that nature.
Wouldn't it have been
preferable to reduce that debt and bring in the tax cuts later
on, once the deficit had been dissolved?
Fielding: Yes. I'm not saying I agree with everything
the Harris government has done. But we certainly seem to be in a
much better position today than we were in when they took
Bradley: You mentioned New Zealand. I think we recognize
that the people of New Zealand have turfed the government since
the last election-haven't they?-and gone to a different
government with a different point of view. But that's their
decision to make.
You talked about emergency
rooms. With the redirect crisis we have, where ambulances are
told, "You can't show up at Greater Niagara General Hospital; you
have to go to Welland County General Hospital," or something of
that nature, that was not due to people going in needing a
Band-Aid for a cut. That was due to a lack of beds available in
the hospital. These were serious cases where they had to redirect
because people were sitting in the hallways.
Would it not be desirable
to try to deal with the problem of serious people sitting in the
hallways by investing in the health care system, as opposed to
eliminating funds from the health care system for that
Fielding: From what I've been able to read in the
Bradley: I hope it's not the Standard.
Fielding: -when the Bob Rae government was in, they
closed the beds. I believe that Mike Harris didn't close any more
beds; he closed the buildings.
Bradley: And the beds with them.
Fielding: But the number of beds overall was near enough
Bradley: I don't think so.
The Acting Chair
(Mr Ted Arnott): Thank you very much, Mr Bradley. In
rotation now, the NDP caucus.
Thank you, Mr Fielding. I appreciate your coming by. You
mentioned the government before the last government, the
government of 1990. It's remarkable how much you have in common
with the former leader of that party, the former Premier. He was
a big fan of New Zealand as well.
Fielding: It was a Labour government.
He was a big fan. He played that W-5 videotape to his caucus till
we were all-you know how your grandkids know all the words to the
Lion King because they've seen it? All the caucus were reciting
the words along with the narration.
I just found it
interesting-I don't think you and I would agree ideologically on
very much. We might enjoy each other's company sitting down over
a beer, but ideologically I suspect we're at opposite extremes.
Were you as shocked as I was when the Harris government proposed
the multi-million-dollar subsidy for those NHL hockey teams?
Fielding: Millionaires. I was one of the first people to
phone and complain about it.
I hope so. I darned near swallowed my bubble gum. So did most
people in the province.
Honestly, do you think you
speak for most people in, let's say, Niagara Falls?
Fielding: I can't say I speak for most people, but I
think I speak for a fair number of taxpayers in Niagara
I appreciate that you are very critical-this HRDC boondoggle over
the last few weeks is not new. Various sources have reported
these sorts of wacko things-
Fielding: Oh, no, that's not the last few weeks. This
was a long time ago.
But the revelations about it, or at least the focus on it. I
agree. I mean, there's some wacko stuff that's come out of
Although I wish it wasn't
the case, all four ridings have elected Liberals-my riding,
Niagara Centre, Niagara Falls, St Catharines, down in
Erie-Lincoln. Notwithstanding everything that you say, Liberals
have been elected handily in the federal elections, and none of
those Liberals are closet right-wingers. They're all liberal
Liberals and they've all backed their government, even though
there are times over the last three weeks that I've learned
of-but that's not the point; that's me.
I'm serious. So here you are saying the things you do and
pointing out some stuff that, again, I can't quarrel with. Some
of the HRDC stuff, along with stuff-I like criticizing every
political party. Why should anyone be immune from my wrath? But
why is it then that people in our communities, knowing all the
things that you know, still elect Liberals handily and support
the Liberal government in Ottawa?
Fielding: Well, I think as long as we-and, by the way, I
was probably a bigger labour person in the UK than you are. I was
in the union business much more than probably you-
So was Samuel Gompers.
Fielding: But to answer your question, we've got a
system here where we've got Preston Manning on one side and we've
got the old Tory party on the other side. As long as that is
maintained, Jean Chrétien will be there for as long as he
wants to be. There is no alternative.
Who's your money on, Tom Long or Stockwell Day? Come on. Let me
in on it.
Fielding: I don't know.
A lot of help you were today, Mr Fielding. Thank you.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
CANADIAN CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION, ONTARIO
Our next group this afternoon is the Canadian Co-operative
Association of Ontario. Could you please come forward and state
your name for the record.
I have to try to drown the
other discussion going on at the same time here. Once you get the
floor, I'll make sure that we hear you clearly.
Lang: Thank you. My name is Cathy Lang. I'm the region
manager of the Canadian Co-operative Association, Ontario region.
I bring with me today George Alkalay, who's the principal
consultant for Northfield Ventures, a company that has worked
quite a bit with farmers in Ontario setting up value-added
production through co-operatives and, in particular, Farm Fresh
Poultry Co-op, Newgeneregg Farmers Co-operative and the
Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative. I also bring with me Ron
Voortman from Brantford, a pork producer and a founding member of
the Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative.
On behalf of the committee, welcome. You have 30 minutes for your
presentation this afternoon.
We do have a written presentation which you can follow along
with, and a little bit of background material on co-operatives
and on the Canadian Co-operative Association.
We're appearing before your
committee today on behalf of CCA Ontario to reaffirm the
important role that co-ops play in the Ontario economy and in
Ontario communities. We also wish to express our serious concern
about the impact of proposed new fees and/or assessments to which
co-ops will be subject under a draft funding proposal-that's
outlined in Appendix 1, the part that relates to co-ops-released
by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario in the fall of
1999. Our view is that the government should find ways of
reducing the regulatory costs, a goal which CCA has been actively
pursuing with staff of the Financial Services Commission over the
past two years, rather than finding ways of recovering the costs
We believe the government
should take the opportunity in its upcoming budget to ensure that
co-ops can continue to make their valuable contribution to
A little bit about the
Canadian Co-operative Association. We're an association of co-ops
in Ontario that provides a common voice for 1,500 co-operatives
and credit unions in the province. Together, these co-ops and
credit unions have more than two million members, hold assets in
excess of $15 billion, and provide paid employment for nearly
10,000 Ontarians. Our members include Ontario's major
co-operatives and co-op federations, including Gay Lea Foods
Co-operative, GROWMARK Inc, the Co-operators Group, Ontario
Natural Food Co-op, Credit Union Central of Ontario, and the
Ontario region of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada.
So we represent a very broad and diverse group of co-operatives
and therefore their members.
The CCA is also appearing
here before you today on behalf of many of the newer agricultural
and rural co-operatives, as yet unaffiliated with our federation,
who are concerned about the impact of FSCO's funding proposal
upon their ability to raise funds from their member investors.
These co-ops include many of the new generation value-added
processing co-ops such as Newgeneregg Farmers Co-operative,
Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative,, Seaway Valley Farmers
Energy Co-operative, and Farm Fresh Poultry Co-operative.
I'm now going to pass the
floor over to George Alkalay, who will read through the rest of
Alkalay: I'd like to talk a bit about some of the
background to Ontario co-ops and the legislative and regulatory
environment that governs them.
Co-ops in Ontario are
incorporated under the Co-operative Corporations Act and are
governed by that act. As corporations, co-operatives are subject
to many of the same regulatory and filing requirements as
business corporations incorporated under the Ontario Business
Corporations Act, and as not-for-profit corporations incorporated
under part III of the Corporations Act.
The Financial Services
Commission of Ontario, colloquially known as FSCO, is the body
which is responsible for the incorporation and regulation of
Ontario co-ops. As part of its recent restructuring,
responsibility for the regulation of co-operatives has moved from
the Ministry of Finance over to FSCO. FSCO is an arm's-length
agency reporting to the Minister of Finance, and in Appendix II
you'll see a description of its mandate.
Regulation of co-operatives
represents only the smallest part of FSCO's regulatory
jurisdiction. The regulatory jurisdiction includes pensions,
insurance, loan and trust companies, credit unions and mortgage
brokers. Co-ops are less than 1% in terms of the dollar value of
FSCO's total budget and the services they provide.
In accordance with the
mandate given to it by the government, FSCO is moving toward full
cost recovery. In its current funding proposal, which applies to
all the sectors within its jurisdiction, that funding proposal is
guided by the principle of full cost recovery with no
cross-subsidization of costs among the sectors it regulates. In
other words, the principle is that pensions pay for pensions,
mortgage brokers pay for mortgage brokers, and co-ops pay for
Compared to the costs
associated with the other sectors it regulates, FSCO's costs
associated with co-ops are truly negligible, amounting to
approximately $532,000, according to FSCO's initial proposal and,
following discussions with FSCO staff, apparently no more than
$350,000 in costs. We understand that this is a very small piece
of the overall fiscal responsibilities of the government. The
precise costs of co-op regulation through FSCO have been
difficult for staff to determine, in part because FSCO is still restructuring its
internal operations. There has been a lot of restructuring over
the last three or four years there.
I would like to set out
some of the principles for cost recovery. From the outset, we
want to make clear that we are not particularly seeking any
special privileges for co-operative businesses or not-for-profit
co-operatives. We believe that co-operatives can prove themselves
as efficient, viable enterprises in a fair and free marketplace
and that they do have a unique yet parallel role to play in
relation to other forms of business and social enterprises.
However, in determining
what fees to charge to co-operatives, it is essential to consider
the marketplace impact of the proposed fees and assessments and
how that impact relates to the stated public policy supporting
economic growth and efficient public-private provision of
services. Co-operative businesses and not-for-profit
co-operatives function within the same environment as other
businesses and not-for-profit corporations. Particularly in the
case of co-operative businesses, differential regulatory costs
could place co-operatives at an unfair competitive disadvantage
to other types of business.
The CCA is not opposed to
government recovering the costs of the services it provides to
the co-operatives directly using those services. The CCA does,
however, wish to suggest that the following principles should
guide any such cost recovery.
First of all, recognize the
important contribution that co-operative enterprises and
not-for-profits make to Ontario's economy and social
infrastructure: $15 billion, as Cathy mentioned a few moments
ago. That's an important piece of the economy.
Ensure that co-operative
businesses are not placed at a disadvantage to other forms of
private enterprise, and that not-for-profit co-operatives are
treated similarly to other forms of social enterprise.
Take into account the
impact of excessive costs of co-op regulation vis-à-vis the
public policy, which is that of supporting business and job
development in Ontario. Excess costs of regulation have a direct
impact upon jobs and business growth.
Ensure that the costs of
regulation are commensurate with the significance of the
regulatory objectives to be achieved. That's almost a paraphrase
of the preamble of the Ontario Securities Act, which always talks
about the fact that there are certain regulatory costs, but when
you measure what those costs are, you want to balance them
against the objectives being achieved. If there's a compelling
reason for regulation, then it might justify a certain cost
imposed upon the sector, but you want to make sure those
regulatory objectives are compelling.
Distribute the costs of
regulation in a fair and equitable fashion among co-operatives
requiring the regulatory services of government, with
consideration given to the regulatory costs incurred by other
forms of business organization, and indeed of non-profit
organizations. It's the issue really of a level playing field. We
want to be treated the same as everybody else.
Let's compare fees. If you
take a quick glance at the table down below, you'll see the
extent to which FSCO's new funding proposal will place
co-operatives at a competitive disadvantage relative to other
businesses and not-for-profit corporations. For there to be such
a differential in fees, there must be some rational basis in the
type of regulatory activity required. Instead, based upon our
discussions with FSCO staff to date, it appears the primary
reason for the differences in fees is to be found in the lower
volume of business handled by FSCO compared to either Consumer
and Commercial Relations or the Ontario Securities
If I can just walk you
through this table very quickly, in the first column you have the
current fees that co-operatives are charged. The second column
outlines the proposed FSCO fees. The third column outlines what
the CCA is proposing as a reasonable balance. The fourth and
fifth columns show what business corporations are charged and
what not-for-profit corporations are charged.
For incorporation, co-ops
currently pay $285 for a for-profit co-op compared to business
corporations that pay $330. We're suggesting they should pay the
same amount, so increase the fees by $45. I suspect there aren't
too many people appearing before you asking for increased fees,
but we think that is reasonable. FSCO is proposing a $1,000 fee
for a service that's essentially the same as a business
The same issue with
non-profits: Currently co-ops pay $135 versus other non-profits
that pay $155. The FSCO proposal calls for an increase to
Offering statements: This
is really one of the key areas, because it's one of the areas
where there's the greatest degree of regulatory intervention, and
the greatest costs are imposed upon co-ops. Currently, co-ops pay
a nominal fee of $50. Under the FSCO proposal, co-ops would have
to pay $1,500 plus 0.25% of the face amount of an offering
statement. What that means is that a co-op seeking to raise $10
million would have to pay $26,500. It's important to note that
the co-op going out there saying, "We want to raise $10 million,"
might raise $7 million. They're still paying the fee based on the
face amount, the maximum of what they want to raise.
If you look at what
business corporations pay, they pay an initial fee of $1,000 plus
0.04% of the amount actually raised. So a corporation going out
to raise $10 million would pay $4,000, and then the initial
fee of $1,000 would be deducted. They would be paying $3,000. For
a co-op and a business corporation both going out to raise $10
million, the business would pay $3,000 and the co-op would pay
$26,500 under this proposal.
Bradley: That's not fair.
Alkalay: That's why we're here.
That's an issue,
particularly when you look at the fact that when business
corporations are filing a prospectus with the Ontario Securities
Commission, they are going out to the broad public. When co-ops
file an offering statement they are for the most part going out
to their members, who
are intending to use the services of the co-op and who have
inside knowledge about the business of that co-op.
There are a number of other
fees that FSCO wants to go through. I won't go into detail. The
one that is notable is that for filing financial statements they
want to charge $250 on an annual basis. All co-ops that issue
securities are required to file financial statements annually. We
don't have a problem with that requirement. No other corporation
has to pay to file their financial statements. Obviously, if you
want an incentive to regulatory compliance, do it for free. If
they want to charge a late penalty for not filing them, we're
certainly open to that idea.
Finally, on top of
everything, FSCO is suggesting that there be a base assessment or
base regulatory charge of $750 a year on co-ops with assets of
less than $5 million, and $1,500 a year on co-ops with assets of
more than $5 million. Essentially what we're talking about
is a capital tax.
What's the impact? We
believe the proposed new fees and assessments will have a
chilling effect on new co-operative development and will create
unnecessary and unfair barriers to the growth of existing
co-operatives. In addition, the burden of proposed fees unduly
falls upon agricultural and rural co-operatives and has a
particularly onerous effect on start-up co-operatives in which
agricultural producers are seeking to add value to their
commodities. Taken together, in the past year alone these new
agricultural and rural co-operatives have filed offering
statements with FSCO with an aggregate value in excess of $45
million. That is $45 million coming from farmers and being
recycled back into rural communities.
Under the proposed fee
structure, four of these co-operatives would have been required
in aggregate to incur approximately $120,000 in fees for filing
offering statements and an additional $8,000 in other fees and
base regulation charges, representing nearly one quarter of the
total annual budget of the co-operative section of FSCO.
The Ontario government's
efforts to support the diversification of farmers' income through
value-added strategies should be complemented by the regulatory
policies and practices of its agencies. FSCO's draft funding
proposal is inconsistent with the broader public policy
objectives of supporting value-added agricultural co-operatives
and will discourage the start-up and growth of new farmer-owned
agricultural businesses in Ontario.
It goes without saying, and
I'm sure all of you here fully appreciate the fact, that
agricultural businesses typically operate in highly competitive
environments, with narrow margins, and are often subject to the
volatility in profits characteristic of the global commodity
markets in which they are active. Regulatory fees, along with the
expenses associated with complying with the progressively more
stringent regulatory requirements imposed on co-operatives over
the past five years, are likely to have a substantially greater
impact on the agricultural sector than on the broader financial
services sector, which is the client base for most of FSCO's
In order to remain
competitive in the marketplace, it is critical that agricultural
co-operatives be adequately capitalized. Fees equivalent to 25
basis points on the amount offered by co-operatives, which may
translate into 50 basis points or more on the amount actually
raised, will act as an incentive to rely upon external debt
financing rather than member equity. Instead of going to their
members, co-ops might say, "Let's just go to the bank." An
increase of 50 basis points in the cost of equity, when added to
the costs associated with the preparation of offering statements,
will make outside debt considerably more attractive, particularly
to established co-operatives. This is not in the long-term
interests of either the co-operatives themselves or their member
The focus we would like to
see the government taking is on regulatory streamlining and cost
recovery. As stated previously, we understand that FSCO needs to
recover the costs of its regulatory activities and we are working
with staff to determine how best to accomplish this.
At the same time, we wish
to continue to seek ways of reducing the overall costs of
co-operative regulation. Much progress has been made by FSCO and
the Canadian Co-operative Association over the past year in
clarifying and streamlining the regulatory process for
co-operatives. The efforts of FSCO in this regard are very much
appreciated. By continuing to streamline the regulatory process,
we believe that FSCO can achieve further cost savings and deliver
an improved level of service to co-operatives. We must make sure
that the level of regulation imposed on co-operatives does not in
itself create costs that other forms of business and social
enterprises do not have to bear.
The CCA believes that this
regulatory streamlining should take place before instituting the
proposed new fees, not afterwards. In order to ensure that FSCO's
cost recovery process can start in the new fiscal year, we are
proposing that new fees, equivalent to those to which other
corporations are subject, be immediately levied on co-operatives.
We also have some further, more specific suggestions for
exploring alternative strategies for reducing the costs of
co-operative regulation, and we indicate some of these below.
With respect to
incorporation costs, we acknowledge that even after streamlining
the regulatory process, FSCO's lower volume of incorporations
simply may not permit it to obtain full cost recovery while
enabling co-operatives to enjoy the same fees as other types of
If that proves to be the
case, we would suggest that serious consideration be given to
transferring responsibility for co-operative incorporation to the
companies branch of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial
Relations, which may well enjoy substantial efficiencies due to
the volume of incorporations they handle each year. This would
also eliminate the unnecessary duplication involved in sending information on
co-operative incorporations to MCCR.
With respect to offering
statements, it's a bit harder to find a ready solution to the
fees associated with the filing of offering statements, but here
too we believe that there are some approaches which can make some
Over the past five years
co-operatives have been subject to increasingly stringent
requirements for the disclosure provided to member investors. The
CCA has worked closely with FSCO staff to ease some of the burden
associated with these more stringent disclosure requirements.
It should be noted here
that the regulatory regime governing offerings by co-operatives
under the Co-operative Corporations Act has been generally
acknowledged to be less stringent than that governing
prospectuses filed by business corporations under the Securities
Act. The less onerous regulatory requirements for co-operatives
are justified by the generally non-speculative nature of
co-operative securities, the limited scope of their distribution,
the absence of established secondary markets and their
comparatively lesser complexity. Put very simply, members invest
in a co-op to get a service, to get their product marketed and to
add value to their product. They're not doing it in order to
speculate on publicly traded securities. If the farmers in Farm
Fresh wanted to get the highest return for their money in the
simplest way possible, they might have gone out and bought shares
in Maple Leaf. They did not do that, and there was a reason for
that. They see the co-op as an extension of their farm business,
and I think the same is true of Progressive Pork Producers.
Accordingly, one would
expect that the costs associated with filing offering statements
would generally be less than those associated with filing
prospectuses. However, in part because of the lower dollar value
of most co-operative offerings, FSCO's funding proposal would
actually institute fees that are more than six times higher than
those faced by business corporations issuing securities.
If the costs incurred by
FSCO in reviewing offering statements do not permit the adoption
of a fee structure roughly similar to that which publicly traded
corporations are subject to, we would recommend that various
mechanisms be examined for reducing these costs.
Possible options, all of
which would require further consultation with the co-operative
sector, would include amending the Co-operative Corporations Act
to expand the scope of the exemptions from offering statements
and to simplify the requirements for co-operatives issuing
securities only to their members. There are some quick
legislative fixes that are possible.
The CCA has proposed a
series of such amendments to FSCO, to the Ministry of Finance and
to the Red Tape Commission on a number of occasions over the past
several years. We believe that such cost-saving amendments to the
act could be accomplished through the government's budget
Contract out the offering
statement review process to the Ontario Securities Commission,
which handles a much higher volume of prospectuses and may be
able to achieve greater efficiencies in reviewing offering
statements, particularly those which are of a more complex
nature. The OSC's review would need to occur on the basis of the
requirements under the co-op act, not the Securities Act because
they are two very different acts.
Another option is to
contract out the offering statement review process to one or more
legal firms with expertise in securities and/or co-op law.
Finally, an option is
delegating the offering statement review process to a
self-regulatory body subject to the Minister of Finance.
With respect to fees for
filing of financial statements, very quickly, no other
corporation has to pay such fees. We don't think co-ops should be
required to pay those fees. We think there should be a late
payment fee but no more than that.
With regard to the base
regulation charge and general assessment, FSCO has also proposed
that either all co-ops or all co-ops offering securities to their
members be required to pay a base regulation charge or assessment
based on their assets. Again, no other type of corporation,
either business or not-for-profit, is subject to an assessment of
this nature. We see no reason why co-operatives should be singled
out for such an assessment.
Conclusion: We wish to
emphasize that however FSCO addresses the issue of cost recovery,
it should be guided by the principle that the costs of regulation
should not outweigh the objectives served by that regulation.
While ensuring investor protection and creating a climate of
investor confidence in co-operatives are goals we share with
FSCO, we believe that goals could still be achieved through a
more streamlined and less costly regulatory process.
The imposition of excessive
regulatory costs on offering co-operatives will act as a barrier
to the raising of capital by co-operatives, and send out a market
signal to existing co-operatives to seek external debt financing
over internal equity financing. In the long run, this will only
weaken the financial stability of Ontario's for-profit
co-operatives to the detriment of their member investors.
We also wish to reiterate
our belief that regulatory costs should not be so high as to
discourage the incorporation of co-operatives. Co-operative
businesses make an important contribution to Ontario's economy,
particularly in the agricultural sector and in rural areas of the
province. I think Ted can probably attest to the benefits of
co-ops of rural Ontario.
Higher incorporation costs
will have the effect of deterring new businesses from choosing to
organize in a co-operative form. They will also act as a
deterrent to the many not-for-profit co-operatives active in
Ontario's social economy.
We thank you for the
opportunity to appear before you and welcome any questions. Ron,
do you want to quickly-
Voortman: Quickly, my name's Ron Voortman. The reason I
drove from Brantford to Niagara Falls is that it was a beautiful day and we
need to be cost-competitive, plain and simple. Our co-operative
started in 1993 as 11 people in a rented room with no money. In
the year 2000, we expect to expend close to $40 million. We're
going to renovate a plant in London, Ontario, that will turn an
empty building into 200 jobs. Also, and our main reason for doing
this, is to provide some price stability to our members, who
control approximately 20% of Ontario's pork production.
As you're all aware, if you
read the paper last fall, the pork industry went into a crisis of
immense proportions. On my farm, our revenue to expenses went
about 35%. The pork industry is experiencing a vertical market
failure. Basically, there aren't enough buyers and far too many
Our group got together in
1993. Our common vision was not that clear. We understood that
the pork industry needed to have some stimulus. We've gone
through different scenarios. One was bringing another buyer into
Ontario from 1995 to 1998.
Our goal at this time is to
provide a value-added facility. Our intention is not to compete
with the multinationals but to fill the market holes they leave,
do value-added cutting and pass that value onto our
Like I said, the simple
reason for my taking time out of my day today is that we need to
be cost-competitive; whether it's the cost of operating our
facility or our regulation costs, it's as simple as that. We can
talk for hours about the details, but we need to be
cost-competitive with the Maple Leaf Foods and the Smithfields of
the world. If our regulation costs are detrimental to us, it's
like George says: it's a tax.
In building a business like
ours, there are tremendous bumps and lumps on the road. We're not
asking you to pave the road for us. Just don't make too many
hurdles that we can't climb over. I guess that's the simple
statement. I don't have a prepared speech; I'm speaking off the
top of my head.
It was pretty good. We have about a minute and a half per caucus.
Kwinter: Thank you for your presentation. I'm a little
disappointed because when I started reading it-you may know I
used to be the minister responsible for this area-I said, "I've
got the perfect solution for you." But you've come up with the
perfect solution, and that's why I'm a little disappointed. I was
going to give you the answer.
I agree with you that those
aspects that should be regulated by Consumer and Commercial
Relations should be given to them. They have the economies of
scale, the staff, the infrastructure and the computer software
programming to do it. The same thing with your offerings: They
should go to the Ontario Securities Commission, all on a contract
basis with the new Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
It makes eminent sense,
because the reason they have imposed what I think are exorbitant
fees is that they have to set up a new sector with a new
infrastructure to do it over a very small base, when the
structure is already there. So I agree completely that that is
the way to do it. What I don't understand is why people at the
Ministry of Finance don't see that.
Have you made these
representations to them?
Alkalay: We have.
Kwinter: And what is their response?
Alkalay: Their response is that co-ops have always been
there, and they don't really address the issue of turning it over
to CCR. Their most recent response has been, "We would have to
amend the act to do that." That's our suggestion.
Bradley: I'm going to call Frank Sheehan right now.
It'll do you no more good now than it did six years ago.
First, I'm a fan of
co-operatives. I knew Gay Lea Foods, and is it the pork
Voortman: Progressive Pork, in London, Ontario.
Progressive Pork. That makes me feel even better about it. No
hesitation, it's-honest, it's Progressive Pork. All right. These
guys will have a hard time buying Progressive Pork chops.
I appreciate that you are
here today. I appreciate that you have got a history of lobbying
for this issue. It's not complicated. First of all, you're right,
it's not fair. And the solution is obvious. So my question is:
What the heck is going on, guys? If this is one of those
amendments that would have inevitable support from the opposition
parties, we'd be idiots-and all of us have done a lot of stupid
things, but none of us are exactly idiots-to oppose this sort of
amendment being proposed. For Pete's sake-no, for your own
My concern is that these
committees are very fluffy. The press is no longer here. They're
gone. They show up early in the morning. You have a parliamentary
assistant here now, a very senior MPP who is highly regarded by
the members of the opposition, and a new, young MPP who is very
aggressive and very bright. I'm appealing to them to drive this
issue home. I can't do it. If I stand up in question period,
they'll say: "It's an arm's-length organization. "We've got no
control over them. FSCO is at arm's length. We can't tell them
what to do." That's their standard line. If we stand up and raise
it in question period, we won't even make the Toronto Star. We'll
make the agricultural newspapers, but that won't be persuasive.
You've got to lean on these guys. Stick around till 3:30. Take
them in the corridor. Shake them down. Grab them by the ankles,
turn them upside down, shake every last nickel. I'm serious. This
is your kick at the can.
I'm telling you, and it's
on record, that I'm confident that my caucus would support this
type of amendment in a New York minute. I suspect that if the
Liberals had another chance to address it, they'd say the same
thing. What's the impediment here? It's a couple of pages of
amendments. End of story.
We'll end on that high note.
Mr Arnott: Unfortunately, I'm
not in a position to commit the government to any specific course
of action, but you have made a very compelling case and I'm sure
that the Minister of Finance will be very interested in what
you've had to say.
My only question was the
same question that Mr Kwinter asked as to what kind of an answer
you are getting from the staff-you indicated you're discussing
this with the provincial government staff-as to why this can't be
accomplished. Did you want to add anything to what was previously
The response to that is that the Ministry of Finance has given
the Financial Services Commission of Ontario the mandate to
achieve full cost recovery. They are willing to go a little
slower, but they have a particular amount in mind, $350,000
subsequent to the first proposal, that they are being told to
recover. It's basically to cover costs of space, staff that are
already in place and so on.
Our argument is, give us a
year. We'll work it out with you. We'll make the legislative
amendments we need to make. We'll streamline the regulatory work
with you. We'll even explore the role of our own system in
self-regulation, but we need and want that year to achieve a fair
I would encourage you to continue that dialogue with ministry
staff. We appreciate your presentation.
CANADIAN TRANSIT CO
Our next and last presenter this afternoon is the representative
from the Canadian Transit Co. On behalf of the committee,
welcome. You have 30 minutes. Would you please step forward and
state your name for the record.
Mancini: Good afternoon, members of the committee. My
name is Remo Mancini and I am here representing the Canadian
Transit Co, which is the owner and operator of the Canadian half
of the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Windsor and Detroit.
The CTC is a Canadian company with corporate headquarters in
Toronto and operational headquarters in Windsor.
Naturally, we are
interested in the direction of the province's economy. We have
noted that over the past number of years the current government
has decreased personal income taxes by more than 30%, reduced the
annual deficit to its current balance of around $1 billion
per year, assisted in the creation of over 600,000 new jobs, and
helped more than 450,000 people escape welfare dependency.
Bradley: You have Bart's notes.
Mancini: Well, we footnoted all of these-
I have higher, better numbers.
Let's keep our agenda.
Mancini: Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Today I would like to speak
to you about opportunities for continuing this pace of economic
improvement. First, let me begin by telling you a bit about the
Canadian Transit Co and myself. The Canadian Transit Co was
established in 1921 for the purpose of developing a direct
connection between Windsor and Detroit. The Ambassador Bridge was
completed in 1929, and its operations have continued to improve
Since 1991, we have
invested over C$48 million, after-tax dollars, in infrastructure
improvements on the Canadian side of the bridge. Among others,
these improvements have included:
Construction of a new
Canadian plaza and administrative building at a cost of more than
$10 million, creating the largest and most efficient plaza at any
border crossing in North America.
Recent land acquisitions
have approximated $8 million to permit further expansion of the
Canadian plaza, and $4 million to $5 million of further
acquisition is planned and pending.
Development of a
one-of-a-kind off-site facility for commercial traffic inspection
in a 50-acre industrial park, at a cost of $7 million. With this
facility we are able to handle large volumes of commercial
traffic in an extremely efficient manner, freeing up capacity for
passenger traffic and ensuring that vehicles are not left idling
in residential areas.
Construction of a
$5-million award-winning duty-free store, in a joint initiative
with the University of Windsor.
Repainting the entire
bridge. The cost of repainting the Canadian half is approximately
$15 million. This project began four years ago and will be
completed in approximately 18 months.
Wyandotte Street entrance, at a cost of more than $1 million.
Repaving the Canadian
portion of the Ambassador Bridge span-$750,000.
Upgrading lighting on the
Canadian plaza at more than $500,000.
Similar investments have
been made or are being made on the US side of the bridge. The
Canadian and US companies are fully integrated, ensuring that the
Ambassador Bridge is run as a world-class business.
Since the early 1990s, the
Ambassador Bridge has been North America's pre-eminent
international border crossing. In 1998, more than 25% of all of
Canada's commercial imports and exports have traversed the
Ambassador Bridge. To put that in better perspective, our imports
and exports between Canada and the United States, commercial
products only, are approximately $460 billion to $470 billion.
Fully 25% use the Ambassador Bridge corridor.
For the past six years, I
have served as the CTC's corporate vice-president. Prior to
joining the company, I spent 18 delightful years as a member of
the Ontario provincial Legislature, getting to know some of you.
In my time as a public office holder, I held a number of
different positions, including committee chairmanships, official
opposition House leader and two cabinet posts. I believe that my
experience as a public office holder helps me appreciate the
difficult job that you have to do. However, today I am speaking
to you not as a former elected official but as a business person
interested in the continued development and expansion of
Ontario's economy, and as someone who, like you, wants to see all
of Ontario's residents benefit from this expansion.
I recognize that you have
many significant and challenging issues to address. Ontario and
Canada as a whole are faced with a pressing need to revitalize
both our health care and educational systems. Further, the
continued restructuring of the justice system and the social
safety net to ensure that Ontario's social needs are met in an
efficient and effective manner is a difficult but important
undertaking. How we achieve these objectives is a matter of
political debate, and people in this room have differing views on
that matter. This is as it should be. The committee will be
hearing from people much more qualified than I on these issues.
Balancing these issues while restoring fiscal responsibility is a
very difficult job, but it's a job that has to be done.
But we also need to ensure
that the province's economic underpinnings stay strong. Premier
Harris highlighted this point in his speech at the Cultural
Business and Professionals Association's luncheon this month,
when he said that, "We must never take our prosperity for
granted." In our view, trade is the foundation of Ontario's
economic prosperity. It helps grow our economy and therefore
funds all important social and infrastructure improvements.
The strong US economy,
Ontario's own productivity gains and multilateral trade
liberalization, starting with the 1965 Auto Pact, have all led to
exports becoming increasingly more important to Ontario's
economy. Exports are now responsible for more than 52% of all the
wealth created in this province, compared to just 29% 10 years
In 1998, approximately $155
billion worth of commercial goods were exported through Ontario's
major land border crossings. That includes Sault Ste Marie, the
Windsor tunnel and the three big crossings that I will mention
later. But over $59 billion of these exports traversed the
Ambassador Bridge. As you know, Ontario's exports tend to come
from manufacturing companies. Every $100 million of these
manufacturing exports supports the creation or maintenance of
roughly 1,000 good jobs in Ontario.
This increasing focus on
North American trade has led to a rethinking of Ontario's
economic role. Thomas Courchene, a noted Canadian economist, has
written a number of documents discussing the evolution of
Ontario's economy. He has noted that Ontario has evolved from
being the focal point of east-west trade within Canada to the key
region in north-south trade. Among these documents is the book
From Heartland to North American Region State: The Social, Fiscal
and Federal Evolution of Ontario.
In this and other
documents, he has noted, "Canada is progressively less and less a
single national economy and more and more a series of regional
cross-border economies," and that Ontario has evolved from a
"Canadian heartland to a North American region state." In support
of this evolution, he compares Ontario's exports to the rest of
the world with exports to the rest of Canada. As the following
graph shows, Ontario's exports to the rest of the world are now
almost three times its exports to the rest of Canada.
Dr Courchene attributes
this shift in part to the fact that Ontario's economy is
particularly tied through both industry structure and trade to
the North American economy as a whole. He also discusses
geography as an important factor in this evolution. In one paper
he notes, "Within one day's trucking distance of Toronto, the
disposable income exceeds US$2 trillion, with the potential
retail sales base exceeding US$1 trillion-a one day's trucking
market comparable to that of Boston, Detroit or New York."
Further, he says, "Ontario's economic future lies in middle
America," citing that the "US portion of Toronto's one day's
trucking market is 17 times larger than the Canadian portion."
Obviously you don't need to be a mathematician to know what those
Many recent activities by
Canadian companies demonstrate the growing importance of this
cross-border trade to our economy. In recognition of the
continuous and significant increases in Canada-US trade flows,
Canadian National railway recently acquired the US-based Illinois
Central railway and more recently has proposed to merge with the
US-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway. Canadian firms
that have recently acquired US companies include Nortel, Magna
and Corel, further supporting the importance of north-south
This cross-border trade is
reliant on multiple modes of transportation and transportation
infrastructure. By far the most significant of these is trucking
and road infrastructure. This makes effective roadways and
efficient border crossings more important than ever.
However, the growing
infrastructure deficit could hinder this trade and impair
Ontario's ability to be the economic engine of Canada. We cannot
risk the potential job losses that would result from this. As
governments have been moving to bring revenues and expenditures
in line, there has been a reduction in transportation
infrastructure spending as a percentage of total revenues. The
following graph shows the extent of this trend as it relates to
Ontario. As the graph shows, it has been significant.
In response to this need,
the province has established the SuperBuild fund. Through this
vehicle, the province is committing C$10 billion in
infrastructure funding, to be matched by investments from
partners such as the private sector and/or other governments.
In a speech last month,
David Lindsay, president and CEO of the SuperBuild Corp,
discussed the need to invest in transportation infrastructure. He
quoted from the 1999 report by the Ontario Jobs and Investment
Board, an organization that he had previously chaired. The report
identified three key infrastructure challenges for the province.
Two of these are of particular relevance today; namely an infrastructure investment
deficit and the need to develop gateway and trade
In his discussion of the
infrastructure investment deficit, Mr Lindsay noted: "The size of
Ontario's economy has expanded fivefold since 1955. The total
public infrastructure stock, however, has grown only by a
magnitude of four." Further, the report says: "This gap is
unsustainable because capital investment and economic growth go
hand in hand. Investments in strategic public infrastructure are
essential to keep Ontario's economy growing and competitive."
infrastructure, or the infrastructure that facilitates
cross-border travel and goods movement, the report says that,
"International airports, border crossings and strategic highways
... are critical to Ontario's success in the global marketplace,"
and that, "Ontario is one of the world's major trading
jurisdictions and quality infrastructure is the platform we need
to grow and sustain our export-oriented economy." Further, Mr
Lindsay acknowledged that, "The conventional approach to capital
investment needs to change to reflect the new economy and the new
realities of the 21st century."
The need to address this
infrastructure deficit was echoed in a 1999 report from the House
of Commons finance committee headed by Maurizio Bevilacqua, a
Liberal MP from Vaughan-King-Aurora. The report called for $2.5
billion in federal money to be spent over a five-year period to
improve highways, transit systems and water and sewer systems.
Further, the report addressed the need to "develop new
infrastructure for the new economy." This belief was also
expressed by federal Transport Minister David Collenette when he
said, "Canada cannot continue to live off of the transportation
investments of the past."
A recent report by the
federal Interdepartmental Working Group on Trade Corridors
further demonstrates this need and specifically addresses issues
related to border crossings. In developing its report, the
working group consulted with stakeholders, including the Canadian
Transit Co. With respect to border crossings, it found that one
of the key issues cited was "congestion and delays due to
infrastructure constraints and commercial traffic flow
The route for commercial
traffic to cross the border at Windsor is a prime example of
infrastructure deficit. The Ambassador Bridge crossing, which
itself is only at about 55% capacity, is one of three major
commercial border crossings between Ontario and the US and, as
the chart shows, currently facilitates the movement of goods
equal to the other two major border crossings combined. Despite
its pre-eminent role, the Windsor-Detroit crossing at the
Ambassador Bridge is the only major commercial international link
in Ontario without direct access to a 400 series highway. Highway
401, the busiest road in the country, stops nine kilometres from
this major international crossing. Truckers must go from Highway
401 to Highway 3 and then over Huron Church Road, travelling
through much of west Windsor, to access the bridge on the
Canadian side. As David Bradley, president of the Ontario
Trucking Association and CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance,
has noted, "You can take a truck from Toronto to Miami and of the
15 stop lights, 14 of them are in Windsor."
The 1998 Southwestern
Ontario Frontier International Gateway Study published by the MTO
stated that by 2011, annual vehicle crossings between Windsor and
Detroit are expected to grow by 50% and that Huron Church Road
will not be able to handle these volumes. It also said that
traffic forecasts show that congestion problems will arise along
critical segments of the road prior to 2011.
The city of Windsor has
stated that it pays roughly $400,000 per year in maintenance for
the upkeep of Huron Church Road, as well as 25% of any of the
capital costs for this connecting link. The road has long since
ceased to be a city street and now functions primarily as a trade
and transportation corridor serving Windsor, the province of
Ontario, and Canada. The other border cities that compete with
Windsor, namely Sarnia and Fort Erie, are not subjected to these
costs. Windsor has justifiably objected to the continuation of
this discriminatory policy. It is not a question of supporting
either Sarnia or Fort Erie or Windsor. All of these
transportation corridors are needed and all deserve appropriate
infrastructure investment. The corridor linking Windsor and
Detroit is too important to be dealt with in a fragmented way. In
order to create a level playing field, the route between the 401
and the Canadian Plaza of the Ambassador Bridge needs to be
treated in the same fashion as the routes leading to the Peace
Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge.
This goes double for the
users of that corridor. The users of that corridor deserve to
have an appropriate route. The job creation which the users are
trying to increase counts on that. Any increased cost due to
unnecessary congestion or unrequired stopping of big
tractor-trailers adds cost to Canadian product and adds no value
to the product whatsoever.
This will maximize current
infrastructure. The federal and provincial governments should
take responsibility for this key element of Canada's trade
infrastructure. Action is needed now.
Further, I support the
Canadian Automobile Association's recommendation that the portion
of Highway 401 running west from London be expanded to at least
six lanes. The CAA presented this recommendation to the
Honourable David Turnbull, Minister of Transportation, in their
August 1999 report entitled Recommendations from CAA Ontario for
The United States has been
putting significant resources into their transportation
infrastructure and, in particular, into their border crossings
and connections with Canada. The US government's transportation
infrastructure bill, the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the
21st Century, TEA-21, authorized up to US$218 billion in spending
for highway and transit programs over a six-year period. This
includes a provision for up to US$140 million in annual spending
to fund national corridor planning and development and border
infrastructure. Only this week when I was in Washington, I found
out that this $140-million annual expenditure has now been
In 1999, the Federal
Highway Administration allocated US$10.6 million to the state of
Michigan to cover the costs of engineering for improvements to
the gateway on the US side of the Ambassador Bridge. This is part
of an approved US$124-million plan to improve the roadway
connections to and from the Ambassador Bridge on the US side and
to reconstruct parts of the interstate freeway system that lead
to the Ambassador Bridge.
decision-makers have created a plan, have funded a plan, and are
implementing a plan to ensure that no bottlenecks occur on the
American side of the Ambassador Bridge. This plan takes into
consideration a second span planned by the Ambassador Bridge
companies. A similar gateway plan on the Canadian side of the
Ambassador Bridge is absolutely necessary.
In keeping with the
province's move toward joint public and private investments in
infrastructure, we are eager to work with you and make
investments in our own facilities to ensure the long-term
viability of this critical trade corridor. We are planning to
invest up to $300 million, when warranted, to improve this
gateway by making investments such as expanding capacity at the
current bridge and/or building a second bridge when
I'd like to take a moment
to summarize the main points of this presentation.
(1) Ontario is increasingly
an export economy and its number one trading partner is the
United States. I remember Mr Kwinter making many speeches citing
that fact a number of years ago, and it's true today more than it
has ever been true.
(2) Ontario in general, and
the Windsor-Detroit route in particular, has a transportation
infrastructure deficit that must be remedied.
(3) Ontario's economic
well-being is dependent on good transportation infrastructure,
and the corridor leading to the Ambassador Bridge is a critical
component of this infrastructure.
(4) Ensuring that Ontario's
border crossings and transportation corridors can meet our
economy's needs is a wealth- and job-creating investment.
(5) Windsor should not be
treated differently than Sarnia or Fort Erie. All three are
needed to meet the future demands of growing trade.
(6) The federal and
provincial governments must devise a Canadian gateway plan for
the roadway system leading to the Ambassador Bridge. This has
already been done in the United States.
(7) The Ambassador Bridge
companies are prepared to work with you and to invest, when
needed, up to $300 million in after-tax dollars to improve our
Ladies and gentlemen,
members of the committee, thank you for being so patient and for
listening. I'm prepared to answer questions if time permits.
Thank you very much. Committee members, just to show my fairness,
I'll give each caucus two minutes for questions.
Remo, you know you're the last presenter.
Mancini: I'm happy to have made the trip and to have
joined you and to see some old colleagues again.
I certainly don't dispute anything you've got to say. I've been
down there and at that bridge a good chunk of times on that
stretch of highway from London to Windsor, which Mr Turnbull
describes as "a very pleasant ride."
In the broader context,
what's the level of lobbying and government planning with respect
to the proposals you're making in this submission? What's
happening in the broader context? What's the status of
Mancini: As far as lobbying is concerned, we haven't
really got into high gear. I consider this to be probably the key
piece of lobbying, if I could say so. I've had one brief meeting
with David Lindsay to find out more about how the SuperBuild fund
would work and how that would relate to our private sector
I'm going to be requesting
a meeting with appropriate government officials in the near
future, because we are developing an 80-year master plan to show
the capacity of the Ambassador Bridge today, which is at about
55%, and the improvements we're going to make in the very near
future to the Ambassador Bridge, which will increase that
capacity substantially. We've hired what I consider some of the
best engineers in Ontario to help us develop a strategic proposal
with regard to Huron Church Road, which we hope to show to many
departments of government, including members of the Legislature
in all parties, to show everyone that with good engineering we
can develop a very sound 80-year plan which will respect the city
of Windsor's needs, environmental concerns, safety needs, and of
course how we'll be able to help the export community.
All of that is in the
works. We have several groups of engineers and experts working,
and hopefully in the near future I plan to travel to Montreal to
meet with the Centre for Transportation, which is a non-profit
associated with the University of Quebec in Montreal. I
understand from my preliminary findings that they have some of
the best transportation experts in Canada, if not the world,
there. I've made some preliminary inquiries and I hope to gather
as much professional expert advice as I possibly can to do what
you've just asked me to do.
What about the Windsor-to-Montreal corridor? Is that anything
you're including in any consideration?
Mancini: Not for our proposal, no.
Thank you very much, Mr Mancini, for coming a great distance to
make a very good presentation.
On this stretch of Huron
Church Road, is it a bunch of commercial properties on either
side of the road at this point in time?
Mr Mancini: Part of it is. You
have Highway 401, which stops, then you have Highway 3, which is
a provincial highway, and that looks like it's the easiest part
to improve. Then the city arterial road commences, Huron Church
Road. They flow, one into the other. There is an extensive amount
of commercial strip development and a number of traffic lights.
All of these traffic lights are needed because we need to move
east-west city traffic.
I believe we can come up
with a plan that will look after the city of Windsor's needs and
look after the export community's needs also. I think that's
How quickly will your second bridge become necessary?
Mancini: We're at 55% capacity now. We've accumulated
almost enough property to expand the Canadian plaza, which will
extend the capacity of the bridge, and we've just improved our
off-site facility, which is a one-of-a-kind facility in North
America. We've just doubled the size of it, so that's going to
help. Just to give you a rough guess, without all of you holding
me to it, 2012 to 2020.
We haven't even used the
new technology which I believe is just around the corner. I work
with Canada Customs, US Customs and a number of other
organizations interested in bringing technology to the border. We
spend far too much time inspecting people and goods that don't
need to be inspected. We have very few resources at the border
and we should be using those resources in a highly targeted
fashion so we can get the most out of our money.
Kwinter: Remo, thanks for an excellent presentation.
There was some really useful information in here.
To me, this is a
no-brainer. One of my criticisms of the SuperBuild fund is that
you've got to get a private sector partner and you're not going
to get a private sector partner unless there is some kind of
income stream that's going to make it profitable for them to get
Mancini: That's correct.
Kwinter: You have a built-in situation where the
province can participate, you can participate. You could put a
slight surcharge on your fees going across to pay for the thing.
It's a win-win situation for everybody. I just don't understand
why there is this reluctance to get involved in it. It's
absolutely critical, as you say.
Notwithstanding that the
government loves to say that their tax cuts are the reason the
economy is booming, it's because of trade. I was in Davos and I
heard an economist talk about tax cuts. He said it's like the
captain of a ship saying he controls the tides. It doesn't work
that way. All of these things are happening and we are the
beneficiary. I'm not condemning it. I think it's fabulous that we
are the beneficiary of it. There's no question that a tax cut is
a lot better than a tax increase-no question about that-but the
reason we are enjoying the economic activity that we are is
because of trade, and anything that impedes that ability,
anything that causes someone to reroute their traffic, is a
When you're talking nine
kilometres plus some other adjustments, I think it should be the
highest priority. I think it's something that everybody should
get behind and really make happen.
Mancini: On the American side, if I could say that,
under the borders and corridors program, it has been listed as
the number one priority for the state of Michigan. When the
Federal Highway Administration released their first set of grants
to states and communities, the Ambassador Bridge gateway project
received the highest grant under the borders and corridors
program in the United States. That shows what the American
officials are thinking.
I believe we can catch up
to them very quickly. I think there are a number of things the
Ambassador Bridge itself could do, and we are planning to do in
the very near future, to relieve some impediments.
Huron Church Road is no
longer a major urban arterial roadway; it is a piece of
significant national and provincial infrastructure and it needs
to be treated that way. It needs to be under provincial
jurisdiction, hopefully with funding from the federal government
through the new infrastructure program they're announcing.
We're prepared to do our
part. We are more than prepared to do our part. We're anxious to
do our part.
On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for your
presentation this afternoon.
Mancini: I can't have a question from my old friend Mr
We'll do that after the meeting.
A couple of short
announcements: The taxi will be leaving from in front of the
hotel at 4:30 sharp.
This committee will
reconvene tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock in room 151 at Queen's
Park. This committee is now adjourned.