Wednesday 5 February 1997
City of Toronto Act, 1996, Bill 103, Mr Leach / Loi de 1996 sur la cité de Toronto, projet de loi 103, M. Leach
Mr Peter Hiscocks
Mr David Wood
Dr Ursula Franklin
Mrs Jocelyn Allen
Ms Doris Bradley
Mrs Kathleen Macpherson
Ms Zoe Girling
Mr Graham Smith
Ms Joanne Naiman
Ms Jocelyn Stratton
Mr Wayne Olson
Mrs Edna-Catherine Ryerson
Mr William Archer
Ms Anne Redpath
Mr Peter Shepherd
Mr Gary Shaul
Mr Dan Leckie
Mrs Andrea Surich
Ms Barbara Czarnecki
Ms Audrey Fernie
Mr Graham Harley
Ms Helen McNeill
Mr Melvin Zimmerman
Mrs Karen Davies Buck
Mr David Kidd
Mr Lee Weston
Ms Ann Davies
Ms Karen Wirsig
Mr Eberhard Zeidler
Mr Richard D'Iorio
Mr Michael Müller
Mr Michael Walker
Ms Betsy Trumpener
Ms Donna Hardaker
Ms Sheila Kieran
Mr Colin Hinz
Ms Fiona Charles
Mr Bob Olsen
Mr Bruce Bonaney
Mr Bruce Hanson
Ms Elise Houghton
Dr Laura Weintraub
Mr Ian Thompson
Ms Kimberley Badovinac
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président: Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Mrs Julia Munro (Durham-York PC)
*Mr MikeColle (Oakwood L)
Mr HarryDanford (Hastings-Peterborough PC)
Mr JimFlaherty (Durham Centre / -Centre PC)
Mr MichaelGravelle (Port Arthur L)
*Mr ErnieHardeman (Oxford PC)
Mr RosarioMarchese (Fort York ND)
*Mr BartMaves (Niagara Falls PC)
*Mrs JuliaMunro (Durham-York PC)
Mrs LillianRoss (Hamilton West / -Ouest PC)
*Mr MarioSergio (Yorkview L)
Mr R. GaryStewart (Peterborough PC)
Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre / -Centre PC)
*Mr LenWood (Cochrane North / -Nord ND)
*Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre / -Centre PC)
*In attendance /présents
Substitutions present /Membres remplaçants présents:
Mr TedArnott (Wellington PC) for Mr Young
Ms IsabelBassett (St Andrew-St Patrick PC) for Mr Tascona
Mr JimBrown (Scarborough West / -Ouest PC) for Mr Danford
Mr JosephCordiano (Lawrence L) for Mr Gravelle
Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber PC) for Mrs Ross
Mr JohnGerretsen (Kingston and the Islands /
Kingston et Les Îles L) for Mr Gravelle
Mr SteveGilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC) for Mr Hardeman
Mr BernardGrandmaître (Ottawa East / -Est L) for Mr Gravelle
Mr JohnHastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC) for Mr Tascona
Mr DanNewman (Scarborough Centre / -Centre PC) for Mr Stewart
Mr John L. Parker (York East / -Est PC) for Mr Flaherty
Mr TonySilipo (Dovercourt ND) for Mr Len Wood
Also taking part /Autres participants et participantes:
Ms MarilynChurley (Riverdale ND)
Mr AlvinCurling (Scarborough North / -Nord L)
Mrs MargaretMarland (Mississauga South / -Sud PC)
Mr PaulJones, local government policy branch,
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Clerk pro tem /
Greffière par intérim: Ms Lisa Freedman
Staff / Personnel: Ms Lorraine Luski, Ms Susan Swift, Mr Jerry Richmond, research officers,
Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 0904 in room 151.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1996 / LOI DE 1996 SUR LA CITÉ DE TORONTO
Consideration of Bill 103, An Act to replace the seven existing municipal governments of Metropolitan Toronto by incorporating a new municipality to be known as the City of Toronto / Projet de loi 103, Loi visant à remplacer les sept administrations municipales existantes de la communauté urbaine de Toronto en constituant une nouvelle municipalité appelée la cité de Toronto.
The Chair (Mr Bart Maves): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the standing committee on general government. Sorry for the delay this morning. I had a few administrative matters to take care of first thing. Before we begin hearing from our first presenter, the clerk would like to explain the cancellation policy to the committee.
Clerk Pro Tem (Ms Lisa Freedman): In the subcommittee report that was adopted on Monday the committee agreed that they wanted to fill any cancelled time slots that arose on a quick basis if at all possible and authorized the Chair to approve the final details. What people have in front of them is the cancellation policy that will be implemented as of tomorrow.
In essence, we will be opening up lists between 8:30 and 9 in the morning for people who may be in the committee room throughout the day who are prepared to come and speak before the committee at next to no notice. If there is a cancellation and it's not being used for other committee business, those people will have an opportunity to appear before the committee if they sign the list between 8:30 and 9.
The Chair: Would Peter Hiscocks please come forward. Good morning, Mr Hiscocks. Welcome to the committee. You have 10 minutes this morning to make your presentation. You may use that time as you see fit. At the end of your presentation, if there is some time left over, I hope you will stay for a few minutes to entertain some questions.
Mr Peter Hiscocks: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on Bill 103. My name is Peter Hiscocks. I teach electrical engineering at Ryerson Polytechnic and I also operate a consulting business in electronics. I grew up in the town of Weston and I've lived in Toronto most of my life.
A few years ago Norm Sterling, who is a Conservative MPP and an engineer, suggested that politics would benefit if more engineers were involved, so I'm here to do my bit. The Conservative ads for the megacity show the Premier sorting out an electrical mess, so perhaps I can offer some consulting services.
I would like to look at Bill 103 from an engineering standpoint. When engineers do a project, whether it be a large building or an electronic microchip, they consider the following questions: First, is there a demand for the project? Do people want it? Are they willing to pay for it? Second, is there a good probability of success for the project? In other words, will it work? Third, will the project be cost-effective?
Let us look at Bill 103 from the standpoint of these three questions.
Questin number 1: Is there a demand for the project? Engineers have been known to design projects for which there is no demand or market. The project is driven top-down and belongs to the "If we build it they will come" school of thought. For years, the American car manufacturers built large cars, and only large cars, because someone in Detroit had determined that everyone wanted large cars. Of course, they were proven wrong by the Japanese and European car manufacturers. We don't know if there is any demand for the megacity, because we haven't had the referendum yet. The designers of Bill 103 have said they will ignore the results of the referendum. In effect, they have said they don't care whether the market is receptive or not. This is poor engineering.
Question number 2: Is there a probability of success? In other words, will the megacity work better in some sense? Will citizens enjoy better access to services? Will the city be more responsive to citizen concerns? The American experience, in the references that I've read, is that service and citizen participation in larger cities decline. In fact in New York and Los Angeles citizens are trying to form smaller political units by seceding from these cities to make their cities work better. It is common sense that a larger city is more bureaucratic, to the detriment of both services and democracy. The government has provided no evidence, in my opinion, that the project will be a success in those senses, so this too is poor engineering.
Question 3: Will the megacity be cost-effective? It is being touted by the government as common sense that one large city is more cost-effective than several small ones. There are some good reasons why this is not so, and the consultants have noted this in their studies. For example, labour costs rise to match the highest level of the amalgamated cities, there is no competition between boroughs to keep the costs down, and political control of the bureaucracy is less effective because it's much larger.
If it is common sense that bigger cities save money, we may say it is also common sense that the sun rotates around the earth, that the earth is flat, that tough prison sentences always reduce crime and that competition necessarily lowers prices. These are all common sense, and they are all wrong. The megacity may well not be cost-effective, and this is poor engineering.
In summary, the megacity in my opinion flunks an engineering analysis on all three counts.
I think it is good to remember a historical example of the misguided "bigger is better" syndrome, and that is the forced collectivization of agriculture in Communist Russia. It was common sense to Stalin that larger farms would be more efficient. In fact, after enormous social disruption and tragedy, it turned out that the larger farms were less efficient, and 50 years on, Russia is returning to smaller units and private ownership.
More recently, in my area of expertise, we have seen large mainframe computers, tended by computer priests in locked rooms, give way to smaller, personal computers linked by the Internet. This technology is a metaphor and an enabling technology for smaller political units and greater local autonomy, and Bill 103 flies in the face of this development.
One final comment: The electorate is grouchy, as we have seen with the fall of the previous Liberal and NDP governments in Ontario. If something is imposed for which there is little demand, that does not work and that is not cost-effective, they are going to be very crabby indeed. It is well to remember what happened to the federal Conservative Party in the last election. In politics, as in engineering, there's a serious price to be paid for mistakes.
I would urge the government to reconsider Bill 103. There are better ways to improve city government.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Hiscocks. Mr Colle, you have just over three minutes.
Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): Mr Hiscocks, I think your metaphor analogy is quite intriguing, where you compare this megacity to going back to the past and creating a mainframe approach to governance. This goes contrary, obviously, to what is happening throughout the world now, where people are individually hooked into information and hooked, certainly in their workplace, through individualized connections through the Internet, as you said.
In terms of an engineering perspective, could you comment on the trends in how workplaces or structures become more efficient when they are competitive and when they are individualized?
Mr Hiscocks: One of the things that happens is that now that these electronic means exist, there's very rapid dissemination of information. So the notion that everybody has to be in the same geographic location no longer applies. People can be distributed across a large city and get information very quickly. The communication paths make that possible.
A very simple example, apart from the Internet, is fax machines. We can fax information to our political representatives and it can come back to us very quickly. That has speeded up the whole political process and made it easier.
Mr Colle: I guess the government is saying it couldn't figure out a way of organizing six cities. This is why they say they rejected the Golden approach: because they couldn't understand how to make it work, given the fact that you had some regional responsibilities like police, protective services, ambulance and other social services. They just couldn't understand how to do it, so the simplest thing for them to do was go back to the mainframe approach and create this megacity model.
Mr Hiscocks: From my perspective, I don't get a sense that the city of Toronto has major problems in those areas. It seems to me that the system which has evolved over a long period of time certainly can be improved in a variety of small ways, but to simply dismantle the entire thing and start over again seems to me very, very risky from an engineering standpoint. When you undertake engineering projects, you try to minimize risk. This is an extremely risky approach from an engineering perspective. We think that it should evolve rather than that there should be a revolution take place, which is what is being contemplated.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Hiscocks, for coming forward this morning.
The Chair: Could I please have David Wood come forward. Good morning, and welcome to the committee.
Mr David Wood: Thank you. My name is David Wood. I live in downtown Toronto. Like my predecessor, I was trained as an engineer. I've lived in Toronto for 29 years. I work as an independent consultant, mostly in the marketing area, with a lot of time spent on computers. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
Those elements of our environment that impact our quality of life the most are managed by our local government. Daily we experience its impact as soon as we leave our front door. We measure it by the quality of the sidewalks, our streets and parks, economic activity, pedestrians, traffic and trees, to name but a few, and generally it's good to live in Toronto. Bill 103 limits our ability to control these fundamentals by reducing and, for a period of time, removing our access to the levers of power that control them.
My neighbours and I have spent thousands of hours of our volunteer time to effect change because we are not satisfied with the status quo. We were encouraged when we voted to eliminate the Metro level of government and we saw proposals -- the Golden report and the Crombie panel particularly -- that appeared to be constructive and rational. Bill 103 ignores all this work. It instead tackles a problem that doesn't exist, usurps the powers of elected councils and makes its motivations suspect.
In summary, we recommend that Bill 103 either be withdrawn or allowed to die in committee. If it's deemed that something must be amalgamated, amend it to amalgamate the municipal electric utilities. It's the only area where we might see some benefits. Instead, where is the legislation to create the Greater Toronto Services Board?
Our specific reasons to reject the bill are as follows:
(1) Accountability of the bureaucracy and elected representatives will be diluted by reducing the councillor-population ratios by about 20%.
(2) Amalgamated services, based on our experience, are less responsive than the city, and Bill 103 presents no evidence that an amalgamated city will be even better.
(3) During a multi-year transition period, vested interests will be able to exploit neighbourhoods because chaos will reign behind the doors of city hall while everybody is getting "restructured." Any progress on local issues will stop; opportunities will be lost.
(4) The method of amalgamation is nothing short of usurpation of financial powers of the city council, carried out by appointees who have no accountability to the electorate most affected. The opportunities for abuse appear to be unrestricted: section 15. Sections 12 and 18 say their decisions will be "final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." These clauses make this legislation particularly odious, arrogant, and above the common law.
I fully expect my taxes for city services will increase, to which will be added the property taxpayer's obligation for the blank cheque to cover the costs of amalgamation itself, including the costs of the trustees and the transition team.
Bill 103, we think, is a bill crafted by bureaucrats only for the benefit of bureaucrats at the pleasure of the provincial government, and no one else.
Our cogent experience is as follows:
My local neighbourhood, formalized as the Toronto East Downtown Residents' Association, or TEDRA, is the foundation of our position. The neighbourhood lies east of Yonge to Sherbourne, and south of Gerrard to Queen. It has an urban area of 0.63 square kilometres, 29% of which is city services: roads, streets and sidewalks. It includes a growing population of 6,300 and provides a variety of services for the tourist, shoppers, those wishing entertainment, and the disadvantaged. It is one of the most diverse areas of the city, and because of its proximity to the downtown core, it participates in Toronto's billion-dollar tourist industry.
Our objective has been and continues to be to improve the quality of life in the neighbourhood by, for example, getting rid of businesses that consistently infract their licences, enhancing the streetscape, attracting new business and encouraging residents to participate in their local community.
TEDRA was organized in 1991 in response to an influx of aggressive drug and street prostitution trades, with most buyers and sellers, I might point out, coming from outside the neighbourhood. Many businesses have been catering to these trades, and numerous police reports are on file to substantiate the violations of licensing regulations. We naturally turned to our local government for help.
This is what we found out: The Metro licensing commission has the power to grant, review and revoke licences for businesses, including taxicabs. In spite of interventions by our Metro councillor and documented infractions of licences and charges laid by the police, it has been almost impossible to get a licence review hearing from this commission. In those cases when we have, it's taken at least 18 months. We have had, on occasion, a representative from this commission at our monthly neighbourhood council meetings, but he gave up attending because we were constantly beating up on him because he could never deliver any solutions, even though he personally filed inspection reports supporting our position.
The resources of the commission have been devoted to Metro-wide issues, such as taxicab licensing, on which issue they managed to flood the market with too many cabs by granting more licences and we ended up having taxi-driven drug runs going through our neighbourhood because there was no other business, at least in downtown. We categorize the Metro licensing commission as an amalgamated service. Our rating on them is poor on responsiveness and insensitive to our problems.
Metropolitan Toronto Police has been going through a major reorganization of priorities and community policing styles called Beyond 2000. We have found that police divisions tend to reflect the personality of the person in charge at the division level, meaning that over time we see inconsistency in the response we get at the lowest levels of the organization. Also, 51 Division, one of the divisions serving our area, needs a new police station -- the current one dates from 1950 -- and although funds are allocated, property transfers will be required and Bill 103 will prevent it under section 10.
We can say that policing in our neighbourhood has become measurably more effective with the introduction of foot patrols. However, we spend all kinds of our time making representations to various police committees and budget groups to protect them. This is because police budgets seem to be modelled on suburban policing styles: police in cars, remote from the neighbourhood. It may work there; it doesn't downtown. It has taken us more than three years of lobbying to get as far as we've got, and we're constantly fighting a rear-guard action to protect our gains.
We categorize Metro Toronto Police as an amalgamated service. Rating is poor to medium on responsiveness to our issues but, on the whole, without a lot of work on our part, insensitive to the needs of the neighbourhood.
The Liquor Licensing Board of Ontario issues licences to establishments for the sale of liquor. To request and obtain a licence review hearing takes anywhere from six months to a year because, we're told, of a lack of inspectors due to government cutbacks. Rulings often are made a year after the hearing, by which time the whole landscape has changed already.
The LLBO and Metro licensing, by the way, taken together, can be viewed as a good example of the costs, wasted effort and ineffective consequences of the bureaucratic entanglement and messed-up objectives of these two levels of government. We consider the Liquor Licensing Board of Ontario as an amalgamated service. Rating is poor on responsiveness, sometimes sensitive to our problems, but their hands are tied.
City of Toronto: Our monthly neighbourhood council meetings are regularly attended by either the councillor or his executive assistant. The city planner responsible for our area of the city also attends to keep us in touch with issues. We're advised of, and consulted on, undertakings by the city and developers in the neighbourhood and have had the participation of developers in some of our workshops and meetings.
Rooming-house licences are granted, reviewed and revoked by the city. Following a complaint, it takes about two to three months for an investigation to be made and a hearing to be held.
On more mundane matters -- for example, garbage and noise -- we find that the city is politically responsive and we actually do get a response from the bureaucracy, although sometimes it's tardy.
We categorize the city of Toronto as a non-amalgamated collection of services, rating, in comparison, medium to good on responsiveness, usually sensitive to our concerns, helpful politically, but sometimes tardy in their bureaucratic response.
These examples, we think, should illustrate why we're sceptical of services in an amalgamated city being better than what we're getting today.
On the issue of taxation, granted, assessments are out of date and they really do need to be fixed. That notwithstanding, over the last five years my property taxes have increased by 15%. Excluding the education component, it's broken down as follows: taxes for Metro, the amalgamated services, have increased by 19.7%, or almost 4% per year; taxes for the city of Toronto, the non-amalgamated services, have increased by 2%, or 0.4% per year. Why? Does this demonstrate that the city is more aware of the taxation burden than Metro and that they have worked to keep them down while coming out of a recession? Does a new management structure at the city mean they will hold the line with greater efficiencies? What confidence can we have that taxes for an amalgamated city will not be similar to Metro's, or worse?
Studies show that US cities of more than one million population spend 21% more per capita than cities with 500,000 to a million residents. The same report states that amalgamated US cities of more than one million population spend 38% more than the average amalgamated city. It is also observed that, "There is no academic evidence to suggest that consolidation produces savings." Based on our experience, neither will it improve services. Why would an amalgamated Toronto be any different? No answer is provided, except for the draconian measures hidden within the legislation.
In conclusion, we think that Bill 103, if implemented, will cause our taxes to go up. We will have a council with no control, a bureaucracy that ignores us and a deteriorating quality of life. If the economic vitality of the city declines, nobody wins and we all lose.
This legislation causes more problems than it solves, will be expensive and aggravating to implement, and is without demonstrable benefit. The Economist, the only publication that comes into my house that doesn't seem to have a vested interest in this bill, characterizes all of the announcements from this government as a whirligig. Whirligigs, they point out, have a way of spinning out of control and even of savaging the man in charge. I think everyone should duck. The flak is about to fly and the Toronto taxpayer is the target.
We recommend that Bill 103 be withdrawn and replaced with a bill that gives form, structure and objective to the Greater Toronto Services Board. This will be certainly a more productive use of our time.
Thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Wood. You have effectively exhausted your 10 minutes, but I want to thank you for coming forward to the committee this morning and making your presentation.
The Chair: Would Ursula Franklin please come forward. Good morning.
Dr Ursula Franklin: Good morning. This seems to be the morning of the engineers. I'm a retired engineering professor myself. I come here not only because, like the others, it's part of an expertise that I want to bring to you, but also because I have throughout my life been very much involved in planning and neighbourhood activities in this city. I've been a director of the Deer Park ratepayers' association. I've been in on the planning of the planning board quite extensively, and I in fact received an award of merit by the city for it.
I come also because I think what is before you, as elected members, is very important work. If I thought that this hearing would be a mere ritual or charade, I have other things to do; I wouldn't be here.
I think this is an important, significant part of the process and that it so happens that in this time of history there's a particularly important role that you, as elected representatives, play. You hear comments and objections to a bill that is of extreme importance in the legislative process of this province. I want to say to you why I so strongly object both to the content and to the method of this bill.
But before that, I also want to say what I said at the end of that sheet that is before you. I think this is one of those historical occasions where individuals count. That's why I am here, because I think you will look at this as elected representatives, as people who have sworn an oath of office. I looked at your oath of office, which says in a fairly nondescript way to be faithful and to have and be mindful of the allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen.
I thought about what that means. It does mean to discharge the duties of governance as the constitutional monarch would and should: without favour, without prejudice, in the face of being in charge, to look after the benefit of all. So you will be bound by your oath of office and you will be bound by the duty you have here to listen. The people who come before you, who take the time and trouble to come and to write, do so because they believe you can make a difference.
I'm among those who urge you, as my colleagues have done, to reject the bill, to reject it outright on the basis of both the content and the method. The content has been dealt with. You remember as well as I do that amalgamation wasn't an issue discussed publicly or among professionals until late October last year. The bill was introduced in the middle of December. That isn't much time, if one doesn't assume the bill was in somebody's desk drawer. There isn't, and I think there will not come to you, any evidence in favour of amalgamation in that sense of the destruction of five elected councils and with this as a structural framework of democracy.
It does not mean that there aren't questions, that there aren't problems, as every and any city has. The Golden report has laid down the problems of the area and the approach to their solution. I'm reasonably familiar with some of these things. I have not seen anything that could be cured by amalgamation and amalgamation only. There is no past task nor can I see any future task that in terms of content, the destruction of an existing framework, could be the basis for future work for the sake of a non-existing, non-democratic framework in terms of its content. It does not seem to me in any way warranted.
As legislators you will know that every piece of legislation has indeed to solve a problem that other current legislation cannot do. You cannot produce a dog catchers act when the existing dog catchers act will do or could be amended to take in pit bull terriers. Every piece of legislation has to resolve a problem that cannot be resolved in any of the existing ways. I suggest to you that Bill 103 is not needed for city governance.
What I object to, and I am sure you will object to even more strongly, are the methods of this bill. Think of what it does. Don't get waylaid by details. The bill dissolves elected representation in five municipalities and sets in its place trustees. When in the public sphere is a measure taken that involves bringing in trustees and pushing aside those who have done the business of the organization before?
In the public sphere this is done when an organization in some way has been accused or found guilty of gross misconduct and that misconduct, whether it is financial, moral or administrative, could not be dealt with by any means except removing the incumbents and putting in trustees. Trusteeship without cause I think has not been heard of in the public sector. That's what the bill does.
There is another case for trusteeship that we know historically and that is colonial. The colonial powers go in and say to the natives: "Your tribal councils are a bunch of nits. You don't know how to run your own affairs. We are your trustees." There have been trusteeships by the United Nations. Are you going to say Metro Toronto is Namibia?
I really think you must, as a committee of the Legislature, question what cause brings about the severity of trusteeship, and then I'm sure you will look at the trustees in terms of their rights and the lack of accountability and obligation. You will look at clauses 12 and 18 that one of my colleagues mentioned, at the lack of recourse of citizens to the courts. You are legislators. Do you really want a bill on the books that you passed that says citizens have no recourse to the courts?
I looked at provisions in which decisions of tribunals cannot be challenged. There is a clause in the OMB that the judgement of the OMB is final. You and I have seen cases in which OMB judgements have been appealed to the cabinet, but you also see the long process before a judgement is made. You also see that the circumstances, the issues are small and circumspect. That sort of blanket, "You can hire, fire, restructure, deal with money," and the courts are not available to the citizen, together with many of the other provisions, I suggest to you, as legislators, regardless of where you sit in the House, you cannot in good conscience pass. You cannot have in Canadian law books that law as being passed by you.
I know, when all is said and done, the bill can be rammed through, but I am quite sure it will not and it will be because all of you have conscience. You are parliamentarians. You have courage. I suggest to you that the option of conscience and courage, in view of this bill, is the only option you have and that you should take the option --
The Chair: Dr Franklin, I apologize for interrupting but we've gone beyond 11 minutes. I appreciate your coming forward and making a presentation today.
Dr Franklin: I think I've said what I need to say. The rest is up to you. I wish you well.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Dr Franklin.
The Chair: Order, please. Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to have to say that unfortunately in the Legislature audience participation is not allowed. The committee rooms in the Legislature are governed by those same rules. I'm a liberal chairman. I think even members of the opposition who have been on committees that I've chaired before will attest to that.
Mr Colle: A Progressive Conservative.
The Chair: A small-l liberal. But I would appreciate it if you'd just keep the applause to a minimum. I know you want to express yourselves but I am bound by the rules of the Legislature so, please, indulge me on that.
The Chair: Could Jocelyn Allen please come forward. Good morning.
Mrs Jocelyn Allen: My name is Jocelyn Allen and I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak at this committee. I was born in the city of Toronto and I have lived here for most of my life; over 50 years, not to be too specific. I grew up near St Clair and Yonge, I married into the Annex and I have brought up my family in south Rosedale, thus I feel that I am truly Torontonian.
I have always been an involved member of my community but I have never been politically active until now. I am driven to speak today by my profound concern for what is happening and what may happen in my city, in Metro and in the province. I am deeply disturbed by the Tory government's proposed Bill 103 and what I see as its repressive measures. At this hearing I will address only the issue of local democracy and some of the effects the bill would have on Toronto citizens and on its artists.
Let me review some of the aspects of Bill 103. As I understand it, Bill 103 would put locally elected governments within Metro under trusteeship retroactive to December 17, 1996, the date the bill was introduced. Included would be the elected councils of Toronto, North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, East York, York and Metro. In the bill the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Al Leach, my local elected representative by the way, is given the power to pass any regulation needed to impose further controls on these local councils.
The organization and staffing structure of this new mega-municipality will be determined by a transition team appointed by the cabinet and reporting to the minister. The bill provides that the new council may not overturn staff appointments or other decisions made by these provincial appointees.
The bill also prohibits court challenges to anything provincial appointees do. There appears to be no recourse for those who disagree with Tory appointees. Thus Bill 103 puts the Harris government in complete control now of all municipal decisions within Metro boundaries as well as control of all important decisions of the new mega-municipality. To me, these measures are dictatorial rather than democratic.
Should it be passed, Bill 103 replaces the existing seven local governments with one municipal government for all 2.3 million residents, effective January 1, 1998. The new council will have 44 wards based on the federal boundaries, subdivided by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, without public hearings. Note that the city of Toronto will have one megacity councillor for 40,000 people -- I repeat, one councillor for 40,000 people. Compare this with North Bay's one councillor for 5,300 people.
A mayor for the megacity will be elected at large, and the upcoming 1997 election will be conducted by a person reporting to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Have you noticed how the phrase "reporting to the Minister of Municipal Affairs" keeps turning up like a bad penny?
As a nod to local government, the Tories will appoint 44 ward volunteer committees to advise the megacity councillors on local issues. How will these volunteers be chosen? On what merit? How, I ask, can these volunteers have the time or long-term commitment to truly serve their local municipality when they have to earn their living elsewhere, and how much clout will they carry with the appointed councillors, who are accountable only to the province? This would seem to me tokenism of the worst kind. Surely local government belongs to, and should be responsible to, the local citizens who elected it, not to provincial government.
All this change has been difficult to grasp. There has been much secrecy on the part of cabinet, and information has been slow in coming, partial or even misleading. Confusion reigns, and I have to conclude that is what the Tories want to happen.
Many questions remain. There is the question of reckless haste. Why are the Tories trying to ram this bill through in such a mad rush? Why are they not allowing time for study, discussion and more extensive hearings? Why should the electoral period dictate the deadline for such complex and crucially important decisions, decisions concerning issues of amalgamation and future existence of local government?
Why are major reports by Trimmer, Golden and Crombie on the future of our city being ignored? Why are the Tories showing such contempt not only for the Legislature but for me, a concerned citizen of Toronto? Why am I being made to feel an enemy of the provincial government because I seek more information, more time for discussion and more responsiveness from my elected representatives?
Bewildered, I can only conclude that creating mass confusion and removing local control over local government will make it easier for the Harris government to download many costly programs on to municipal governments. To quote John Sewell, what the province has been unable to do through a democratic system, it now mandates by autocracy and arbitrary decision-making.
In the past, I myself, in ward 13, have experienced the democratic process at work in the city. Together with my community, school trustees and alderpersons, I have fought successfully to keep our small local public school open, to make a small local park a place safe from drug dropoffs and paedophiles, to keep our downtown residential area free of commercial and inappropriate development, to exert control over the design of a massive development to be built adjacent to our neighbourhood, the Marathon development of CPR lands, and to relocate a crosswalk for the safety of our school children.
I wonder how these and other local issues would be treated by the proposed megacity council. I wonder how it could possibly be as effective as our elected representatives. I fear that the high quality of life in Toronto neighbourhoods will decline if the Harris government abolishes responsive local councils such as this.
I now want to speak to this committee under another hat. As a former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, I want to address the question of the artistic life of the city, especially dance, which I know best, in relation to local democracy.
Toronto is internationally known for the calibre of its major dance companies, the National Ballet of Canada and the Toronto Dance Theatre, but it is also known for the many remarkable smaller companies and independent dancers. Virtually all this dance activity is centred in downtown Toronto. It has been supported in the past by the two levels of government, municipal and Metro. There has been a logical and workable division of responsibility between them. However, local support clearly has a particular interest in local artistic activity. The Toronto Arts Council naturally has a particular interest in supporting and taking chances on dance endeavour in the city of Toronto. Metro, of necessity, is interested in making dance accessible in its own wider region. It has its own priorities, policies and needs. Metro has in fact recently had a 25% loss in arts funding.
We clearly have a rich and thriving cultural life in the city of Toronto, a cultural life which attracts not only Torontonians but also audiences from outside the city. I argue that to keep our artistic life vibrant, we need local elections and local politicians who will take an interest in Toronto artists and dancers and be accountable to the citizens of Toronto. As the protest song goes, we need bread, but we need roses too.
I would like to add one footnote to the subject of dancers and cities. During the 1960s, I danced in all the major cities of North America on tour with the National Ballet of Canada. Most of the theatres where we danced were located in downtown areas of those cities. Many of those downtown areas were desolate business areas, deserted by local residents and often poor. I remember particularly the desolation of downtown Indianapolis, Hartford, Detroit and Cleveland. We, as young dancers, were often instructed to leave the theatre at night only in pairs, for safety.
I grieve, truly grieve, to think that Toronto might end up with such a derelict downtown area. To prevent this, I am here to plead for a democratically elected local government and against Bill 103. I know the democratic process is cumbersome and slow. As Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst system of government in the world except for all the others." Let us avoid all the others.
I want to close by quoting the words of Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn on his beloved Russia, reprinted recently in the Globe and Mail:
"The destructive course of events over the last decade has come about because the government, while ineptly imitating foreign models, has completely disregarded the country's creativity and particular character, as well as Russia's centuries-old spiritual and social traditions. Only if those paths are freed up can Russia be delivered from its near-fatal condition."
Solzhenitsyn eloquently sums up what I wanted to say here. I thank you for the chance to speak.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Allen, for coming forward.
The Chair: Ms Doris Bradley, please come forward. Good morning, and welcome to the committee.
Ms Doris Bradley: I asked to speak to this committee as a concerned citizen and lifelong resident of the city of Toronto. In the 1960s and 1970s, I was an active member of the executive of the Bedford Park Residents' Association. I helped to elect Anne Johnston when she ran as an alderman and David Crombie when he first ran for mayor.
In the past 15 years or so I have been willing to sit back and let others strive to make Toronto a better place in which to live and work.
It used to be that when commissioned reports were brought in, the government of the day, which in the past 50 years has usually been a Progressive Conservative government, at least carefully considered the report and proceeded in the recommended direction to some extent. I do not remember any previous time that the government did the opposite of the recommendations.
Of all 25 reports listed in that paper, censured by the Speaker, that was delivered to every Metropolitan Toronto household two days after the bill was introduced, not one said, "Amalgamate the six municipalities." That is why I've become involved and am now on the steering committee for the Citizens for Local Democracy. I am in charge of the database of over 2,000 people who have signed in and/or sent copies of their letters to speak to this bill to us. One in eight on that database come from the other five municipalities in Metro; more than 30 come from the 905 area, and a few from beyond that. One of my regular phoners lives in Oakville.
The provincial government likes to dismiss us as the left, but I can assure you that there are many card-carrying members of the Progressive Conservative Party not only involved but taking leadership roles in the campaign.
I do not intend to suggest where the city hall of a new Toronto should be or spend much time on how to constitute the community councils, as Mr Gilchrist requested on CBC Radio the other morning. These community councils would only be able to advise; they would have no power. How to choose members for these councils? To really represent the people of the area, individuals would have to run campaigns and be elected to these voluntary positions.
The power is with the people who control the money, and who will that be? Under this new bill, we would elect 44 councillors and a mayor. Would they control the money? No, the transition team would. The transition team, appointed by the cabinet and reporting to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, would control the money and would have far-reaching powers, for example, to determine the organizational and staffing structure of the city, perhaps to privatize services, perhaps to dictate a 5% or 6% decrease in municipal taxes to the municipal council.
What is really draconian is the fact that none of the decisions of the transition team may be challenged in court. The Minister of Municipal Affairs would be able to seize $1 billion in reserve funds of the current municipalities, and this bill does not give assurance that these funds would be used for the good of the citizens who provided them in their property taxes, as the amalgamation of Kingston did. The power would be with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, not with the council we the citizens would elect.
Let's talk about the Metro level of government. Metropolitan Toronto was created in the 1950s when the city of Toronto had Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough as its suburbs. Yes, there was some consolidation at that time. For example, smaller communities merged with Etobicoke and the city of Toronto and Leaside and East York were joined. Why was Metro created? There was a need for coordination of some services across the whole area, for example, police and ambulance services, transportation, including both Metro Roads and the TTC and social services.
Now in the 1990s the suburbs are communities such as Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Markham and Pickering. What is needed now is a coordination of some services on a GTA-wide level. This GTA-wide coordinating body would have representatives from each of the communities in the area, just as the original Metro had representatives from the six municipalities.
Just last week Premier Harris, in response to the problem of downloading welfare on the municipalities, indicated that welfare could be downloaded on a GTA-wide basis rather than Metro. My thanks to the Premier for supporting my argument.
I now live in downtown Toronto, just a few blocks from the Legislature. The city of Toronto is a vibrant part of Metro. I'm sure you are aware that Toronto has been declared by Fortune magazine "the best city in the world in which to live and work."
How would this bill affect the cities and the taxpayers? Bill 103 would not reduce property taxes, and I say this without considering the proposed changes in education funding and the downloading of social housing etc. Once you get past the population base of one million there is a diseconomy of scale. Bigger government is bound to produce a bigger and more expensive bureaucracy. This results in it costing more to deliver services and being harder to react quickly to changing circumstances.
Bill 103 would force two urban styles into one jurisdiction. The older, compact city with its active street life and jumble of shops, apartments, houses and businesses defines Toronto, East York and York and contrasts sharply with the newer suburban style of low-density, single-use areas and reliance on automobile travel found in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke. These two different city styles have different political cultures and demands. Cars versus public transit and community policing versus fast police responses are examples. Experience in Calgary, Edmonton and many American cities shows that the style of the older downtown gets wiped out in this arrangement. I'm sure you've heard of the doughnut effect.
I object to this government's disdain for public comment and public involvement as reflected in your refusal to move these hearings to the city halls at the cost of the cities involved. I appeal to the backbenchers of the Progressive Conservative Party to speak out and make a difference in caucus. Mr Kells, you have a long history with this party. You have been part of Progressive Conservative governments in the past which I have been pleased to call my government. Mr Hastings, I was at Thistletown when you gave your support to preserve that facility, which is the only centre that has provided services that make a difference to my autistic grandson. Mr Brown, you have had the courage to speak in public without sticking to the party line. I applaud you. Mr Parker, I met you at a book launch last year at the Toronto School of Theology and consider you to be a thoughtful family man. The citizens of each of your ridings need you to speak out on their behalf, not on behalf of big business interests.
What to do? Put aside this bill. Have the term of office for the sitting members of the seven involved councils extended by at least one year. You have raised the consciousness of the citizens to a level that has rarely been seen before. Let's work together -- Queen's Park, the local councils and the citizens -- to come up with a system that will save money and enhance what we currently have in the city of Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York, as well as Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Markham and Pickering.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. You've effectively used up your 10 minutes. I want to thank you for coming forward to make your presentation.
The Chair: Kathleen Macpherson, please come forward. Good morning.
Mrs Kathleen Macpherson: I can't see you well and I can't hear well either. So, you ask, why on earth am I sitting here? I'm sitting here because I came to Toronto just as soon as I got married and arrived here in 1944. I thought perhaps to give you some idea of why I feel it is so important to keep Toronto as the best city, as has been quoted, and why to change the system as we now have been shown it might well be is not in very good order for continuing the life that I feel has been extraordinarily valuable to all of us.
To go back to 1944 when Toronto was known as Toronto the Good -- oh, I should pay tribute to the people who have spoken before me, because you have had the facts beautifully laid before you, and I know you will get many more instances of why we all feel this bill is questionable, to say the least. So my reminiscing can just be a slight intermission for more facts to come later.
I came here in 1944. Toronto was "the Good." Nothing happened on Sundays. It was closed down. Very little happened elsewhere a good deal of the time anyway. I started my interest in what was going on in the city by being told that if I wanted to go out while my husband looked after the baby, I could go to a meeting across the street of something called the Association of Women Electors.
The Association of Women Electors was a group of women, mostly middle-aged with children in school, or perhaps retired, who took it upon themselves to learn something about how the city was run. What they did was observe the city council meetings and the board of education meetings and make their own assessments of what went on, regardless of what the actual minutes said, and they wrote reports for any interested citizens to find out what went on behind the scenes. Those women electors had observers at every council meeting and every board meeting.
I think they began in the late 1930s and they finally came to rest about three years ago when either most of the originals were dying off or they found that the city's activities had become the interest of far more citizens' and more ratepayers' groups. There were none when we started. More interest groups took the initiative to participate in city affairs, and the communication between the elected representatives and their electors was good enough that it was possible to meet the mayor, to talk to the mayor, to know your councillors well and to feel that you participated in the affairs of the city.
The women electors led on to demonstrate that when women got interested -- and this, remember, was before the women's movement as such had become designated in this part of the world -- a number went on to take responsible positions. One of them has been mayor of Toronto; another one has been head of the library board; another one has done a great deal for public housing; and others. So the education of women went side by side with the education of the citizens of Toronto.
From there on, other activities evolved. I'm just trying to think of examples where the change has been so remarkable that we can notice. City council meetings were not the well-attended affairs that now happen, let alone the over-attended affairs that have been going on. Nobody went to see what the city council was doing. The board of education met in the evenings and occasionally had one or two teachers seeing what was happening. The attention and the involvement of citizens has followed the general trend of trying to find out and know more about one's city.
I feel it is essential that we keep the contact and the connections between our elected representatives and the citizens themselves. From the point of view of the method by which this bill has been introduced, I can only say that I can remember far enough back to the goings-on of the 1930s and 1940s and 1950s, and I don't wish to see the Hitlerization or the kinds of things that went on as a result of arbitrary action by groups of citizens who were not even necessarily elected.
I'd like to stop talking, because there are many people who have more facts to present you with. But my plea is that the personal connection between the citizens and their elected representatives is a vitally important part of keeping our city the best in the world, or whatever we think we are, and to wish you well in trying to change the direction your government has seen fit to go with this bill.
The Chair: Mrs Macpherson, there is some time left. Would you care to entertain some questions?
Mrs Macpherson: I can try.
Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Thank you, Mrs Macpherson, for coming down. It's quite good for us to get some historic perspective on this. I certainly know of your long-standing commitment and work and dedication to women's rights as well as the life of the city. I very much appreciate your coming down today to speak to us briefly about that.
I wonder if you can very briefly, because there's such little time, tell me what your biggest concern is. There are a lot of concerns expressed, but with your historical knowledge of seeing the workings of years ago, what is your biggest fear about this amalgamation proposal?
Mrs Macpherson: It's very important that as many people as possible feel that they have a stake and a part in what is going on in their city. One way, and we haven't always made the most use of it, is the connection between our elected representatives and the people themselves and to know that I myself could be in that position of the person we have elected to speak for us. If we lose that and it goes off into the dim and distant horizon, I think we're going to find we're losing our sense of, I guess, ownership of the city that we all enjoy living in so much.
I shouldn't say that, because a lot of people don't enjoy living in the city, and I think part of the whole thing is that the people who value the city do and should have a responsibility for all those who are not enjoying the city's living as much as they are. I think we're losing our humanity in cutting out this concern for other people, one of the connections being our elected representatives to express our feelings when we want action taken to help the unfortunate, whoever they happen to be. Whether they're the windshield wipers of today or the families who can't find homes, we need to be responsible for them, and I think we'd lose it if we lost these connections with the closeness of our own city.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mrs Macpherson, for coming forward this morning and making your presentation.
Mrs Macpherson: Thank you for having me.
The Chair: Would Zoe Girling please come forward. Good morning and welcome to the committee.
Ms Zoe Girling: Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me this opportunity of talking to you in this open and democratic style. With thousands of others, I hope the outcome of this and the other meetings you have scheduled, and hopefully more that you will schedule, will be a reaffirmation and a demonstration of the democratic process itself, its flexibility and capacity for change.
We've just had an example, another one, in the short time the hearings have gone on so far of the wonderful listening and learning we have been offered. I repeat what Mrs Macpherson has just said about the information so many of the speakers have already provided and which I don't think I'm going to be able to add to conspicuously, so I too have to offer you a more personal angle on what's been happening.
This wonderful fund of knowledge that has come forth is indeed the boon, and both supporters and opponents of Bill 103 will acknowledge your megacity project has galvanized all kinds of people into action and speech. On the spot, this has produced a fund of expert knowledge and informed opinion, as well as a treasury of lived experience and the wisdom this has given rise to. It is not only thankless but perilous, I believe, to refuse the understanding such testimony makes available.
Many, perhaps most, of us in the lay public who oppose Bill 103 base our opposition on the strongest of foundations: an idea of democracy which finds abhorrent a process, which we hope you will withdraw from, in which unelected officials are appointed, in this case by the provincial power, to displace elected representatives. This is only the first stage in the effective removal of authority from city councils, here and now the city council of Toronto, although it has the sanction of 200 years of productive practice, and the other five cities which together with Toronto comprise Metro.
The rushing of the legislation, its ruthlessness and the government's declaration that it may hear but will not heed the arguments relevant to its bill are indicators of a fundamentally anti-democratic attitude -- frightening.
On the megacity itself, the changes the plan proposes are so far-reaching, so hard to imagine in meaningful detail, that one feels oneself being held at gunpoint. Please pause long enough to allow those most immediately affected and other interested people and yourselves to consider all, or at least some, other options.
People are not opposed to change in itself; most of your opponents are prepared to recognize where it is necessary or desirable when a case is reasonably presented. The Premier said a few days ago that some of the proposed funding changes, for example, for welfare, are not etched in stone. As these are intimately bound up with Toronto and the megacity proposal, we must take this as hope for an extension of the time available for discussion. The Premier has said repeatedly that the government will not be moved from its intention to amalgamate the cities of Toronto unless there is what he calls "some new information" to deflect it.
"Information, opinion, belief." These are the words we hear. The minister "strongly believes" amalgamation will be good for Toronto. Is this the same as "common sense"? Why is this moment a "unique opportunity"? Does the government fear some imminent change? What is, where is, which is the "information" his strong belief is based on? May we, the general public of Toronto, have access to it before we consent to its overriding of our own strong wishes -- I'll come back to these, especially to my own -- and our own strong beliefs, which come from our own experience in our own active neighbourhoods and from what we've been able to take in imperfectly under this duress from the testimony of highly qualified professionals: administrators, engineers, architects, planners and economists, as well as scholars and practitioners in the social sciences and the arts.
I come to my own more personal angle now. Toronto was a place of happy landing for us, my family and me, almost 35 years ago. We came from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Toronto in Canada. We came from tyranny to freedom. It was extraordinary. From my own student days in the 1940s on, from the deep hostility I then learned about, even between universities, even on the sports fields, I discovered the painful frustration of trying vainly to penetrate the armour of ideology. It separated whites -- I skip the ugly vocabulary of the racial divisions of South Africa -- from whites and whites from blacks, it designated races in ways you've all heard about and separated each from the possibility of living harmoniously, let alone creatively, with the others. It cramped everyone.
When we left South Africa in 1962 the apartheid regime was at a height of power. Violent crime was increasing. The possibilities of life were narrowing all the time, constricting. Great performers who used to come from overseas no longer wanted to visit. All this kind of thing was narrowing. Nelson Mandela was in jail. And here was Toronto: no tall buildings yet at the corner of Yonge and Bloor; a Toronto still remembering what Mrs Macpherson has just described to us, its existence as Toronto the Good; a Toronto not yet in possession of the city hall, though I think it was already in the competition stage, the city hall which spoke and speaks so eloquently of the city's energy and aspiration; an orderly city and a city which had moved into the expansive mode.
It is impossible to imagine that in these years Toronto could have developed the way it has, little by little, without the checks and balances of a vibrant inner city life and its intimately associated local government coping with the problems of growth and of redistribution and so on, with its own resources to pay for what it wants, such as an unemployment initiative we heard about today or that once very controversial sculpture on Nathan Phillips Square, The Archer. One of Toronto's conspicuous achievements has been its success in integrating newcomers from a wide diversity of origins and bringing together a galaxy of gifts and talents. Which other city presents dramas in so many languages? Which other city sends its experts across the world to work in so many fields?
There has to be some magic about a successful city. A Florence, an Athens, a San Francisco, an Edinburgh, each has its own intensity; each is unique; each has a proud history. One may compare the effect of a city to the concentration of a burning glass. The forces and possibilities of a wide area and of miscellaneous endeavours are brought into such a fierce focus that they fuse into a new and unexpected achievement. Toronto has done it. Toronto can continue to do it, but not without the basic means; that is, an appreciable and time-honoured independence of funding and administration, and not if the intensity is smothered by mistaken economy, puny ambitions and unworthy programs.
Let Toronto be itself, with somewhat changed boundaries perhaps but essentially the concentrated core city, and allow Toronto to allow the other cities, its neighbouring cities of Metro, not to mention all the nearly 900 municipalities of Ontario, to be themselves too.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Girling. You've effectively used your 10 minutes. I appreciate you coming forward to make your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Graham Smith please come forward. Good morning, Mr Smith.
Mr Graham Smith: I come to you on many levels. I'm a small business owner here in Toronto. I employ seven people, a virtual reality company. We're expanding rapidly. This is a new field. I'm glad to be in Toronto because it's a great place to do business in this country. I'm an inventor. I hold two patents in the field of virtual reality and am currently filing more patents for new inventions I'm coming up with. I'm also a U of T researcher. I worked at the McLuhan program in culture and technology, looking at how technology affects society and issues related to that. I'm also a father of two children and I've been a resident here for about 18 years.
The issue of amalgamation is to me simply a smokescreen for the takeover of all democratically elected municipal bodies in this city. You talk about cost savings and privatization, but this is simply a media façade. The real issue is about creating a crisis situation where a non-elected body can seize power and obtain powers above the law. In other countries they call it a coup d'état. It was one of the Tory MPPs, John Snobelen, last year who was quoted as saying he was going to create a crisis in education to bring about change. Maybe that's where the seed of this legislation came from.
My main problem with the legislation is the definition of appointees who are above the law. In subsection 12(1) it states, "The decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." What legal precedent can you give for such a piece of legislation? Why do appointees need such incredible powers? Has this power ever been granted before, except during wartime? Apart from the federal government's War Measures Act, Bill 103 is the most far-reaching, anti-democratic legislation ever introduced. My question is, where is the war?
Subsection 12(2) states: "The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply to the board of trustees." What does this mean? Can anyone even tell me what this means? What is the Statutory Powers Procedure Act? Does it mean that the transition team and the appointees can hire whoever they like without being accountable?
Reserve funds: In the legislation the amalgamation of the three municipalities in the Kingston area was very specific about what can happen to reserve funds. The minister's order says that reserve funds can be kept and used only for the benefit of the taxpayers of the former cities in which the revenues were generated. In Bill 103, there are no such assurances for Toronto. Why the difference? What is stopping the transition team from simply taking that money and giving it to the government? We are talking about $1 billion here. Why is there a difference between Kingston and Toronto? This is your legislation.
Harris lied to the people. During the election campaign, Premier Harris lied and said in Elora, was quoted in the Elora newspaper as saying, he was against amalgamation. He did not think larger was better, that megacities were the wrong way to go. The people of Elora believed him. What crisis has taken place to make him go back on his word?
You have no mandate. Where in your Common Sense Revolution literature is there any mention of the creation of a megacity? You have no mandate for these sweeping changes.
To end this presentation, I want to thank the Tory government for introducing this legislation. Metro Toronto is a sleepy town. It takes a lot to get people involved in political issues, especially during a cold February. The amazing thing is that people from all walks of life are now uniting, talking about these issues, forming committees and coming together to stop this draconian legislation, and stop it we will.
I now see seniors from Mississauga talking to teens from York. All over this city people are rising up. Just as the population of Belgrade has taken to the streets to stop a government that does not listen to reason, the people of Toronto are waking up to this legislation's harsh reality.
I ask each member of this committee to momentarily put aside their personal feelings about amalgamation. It is a complex issue which needs to be debated in full. It's an incredibly complex issue. The real issue is the fact that Bill 103 tries to put in place dictatorial bodies that are above the law, acting in private.
Each of you must research this bill and look deep inside yourselves to determine if this is just and right. We live in a democratic society with checks and balances and this bill attempts to destroy that tradition. By supporting this bill you are supporting the destruction of democratic principles that go back hundreds of years. Please take the time to read and understand what you are voting for because the population of this city is waking up. Common sense says that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Report after report states that Toronto is one of a handful of cities that actually work. Why make such radical changes? What is the crisis you are trying to create? If this experiment you call Bill 103 fails, we will be again making the cover of magazines like Fortune, but it will be as a disaster which did not have to happen.
Every level of society is asking for consultation, from the board of trade to David Crombie, who you appointed to look into this. Such wide-ranging change must be open to public input from the people who are directly affected by this change.
This legislation, the appointees, it's incredible. I just do not understand the precedent you are taking in this. Can you give me any examples of other bills where people are above the law in this way?
People are waking up to this and people are getting really angry. The amalgamation is simply a smokescreen and people are now realizing that, and people are not going to stand for it. You cannot take away people's democratic rights the way this bill is and expect people to just sit down and have it shoved down their throats.
If anyone here can tell me what the Statutory Powers Procedure Act is, I would be very interested in knowing what that is and what it means that the transition team and the appointees do not have to abide by that act. Is there anyone here can tell me what that is?
The Chair: Thank you for your presentation. The Conservative caucus is up to ask questions and maybe Mr Gilchrist can. You have just over two minutes, Mr Gilchrist, for any comments or questions.
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Thank you, Mr Smith. You've raised a number of questions. I was getting clarification from the legal counsel.
You asked for other examples. For example, every member of the Ontario civil service is immune from prosecution as long as they're doing work within the scope of their defined duties. That's 84,000 people in this province who have exactly the same rights as the trustees have been given here. This bill speaks only to protection for the trustees if they do work within the context of their defined duties. That is totally consistent with anyone else in the civil service.
In terms of some of the other issues you've raised, the board of trade and Mr Crombie are totally on side with the City of Toronto Act. They are 100% in support of the amalgamation to one city. They have a concern --
The Chair: Order, please.
Mr Gilchrist: Their only concern was with the transfer of services and that is not part of this bill. In terms of the City of Toronto Act, the board of trade was very clear. Mr Fierheller, the president, is totally on side.
Mr Smith: One question. What is the Statutory Powers Procedure Act?
Mr Gilchrist: That's a fairly technical question. It has to do with the rules of procedure for how they hold their own meetings. It's purely technical. Would legal counsel wish to elaborate on that?
Mr Paul Jones: For the record, my name is Paul Jones. I'm manager of local government policy with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. I am not legal counsel, sir.
Mr Gilchrist: Sorry.
Mr Jones: The Statutory Powers Procedure Act specifies certain statutory requirements with respect to hearings where there is a decision made of a judicial nature -- granting of a licence, for example -- and municipal council has to comply with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.
Other hearings do not. Hearings that are deemed to be more of a political nature as opposed to an administrative nature, planning board decisions, decisions of a planning nature made by municipal council are not subject to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.
Mr Gilchrist: I guess the only other thing I would want to --
Mr Smith: What about the reserve funds? Why the difference between Kingston and Toronto?
Mr Gilchrist: The minister was very clear when this bill was introduced that the transition team would work with the existing city staff and ensure that all those other details are worked out well before the 11 months are up. In fact, he was very clear, there will be a second City of Toronto Act that will deal with the specifics that are found in the Kingston legislation. Clearly those reserves are in most cases tied to specific liabilities or debentures. They can't be misappropriated. The fact of the matter is that there is no intention on the part of the government to do anything different with Toronto than was done with Kingston.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Smith, for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee today.
Mr Colle: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: A member of the government staff spoke and I'd like to ask a question based on the presentation the government staff member made, a clarification.
The Chair: That's not a point of order.
Mr Gilchrist: That's not a point of order.
Mr Colle: Well, a point of privilege then.
Mr Colle: Who is the Chair? Is it Mr Gilchrist or you, Mr Chairman?
The Chair: Clearly I'm the Chair. Do you have a point of privilege? Your first point of order wasn't a point of order. Is it a point of privilege?
Mr Colle: Is that his ruling or your ruling?
The Chair: My ruling. Can I have your point of privilege, please.
Mr Colle: My point of privilege is that there is a critical question asked in terms of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act and what it entails. The parliamentary assistant brought forward a member of the government staff of municipal affairs to explain it. I think it's critical that we get an explanation of what this act is from a legal authority, because Mr Jones identified himself as not a lawyer. It is my understanding that the statutory powers act in essence allows government bodies to operate according to the laws of natural justice. By eliminating the statutory powers act provisions it is saying the transition team, the trusteeship, doesn't have to abide by the laws of natural justice. That's why I think it's critical that we get a definition from a legal authority, and not Mr Jones or Mr Gilchrist, in terms of the implications of this.
The Chair: That's fine. Your request is one that's often made in committees, as you know, and we can ask research staff to come back with a written response to that question. I will ask research staff to undertake that.
Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): Further to that, if I may, Mr Chair, I would request that a member of the legal staff be present all during the presentations so that if there are any questions, we can ask the legal staff.
The Chair: I will put that request forward to the ministry.
The Chair: Joanne Naiman, please come forward. Welcome.
Ms Joanne Naiman: As you know, this is a little nerve-racking. I'll just take a little drink before I start.
The Chair: You have 10 minutes to make your presentation and you can use that time as you see fit. At the end of your presentation, if there's time remaining, the Liberal caucus will be allowed to ask some questions.
Ms Naiman: I don't think I'll use my full time. I hope I'll be brief. Just to explain who I am, I'm a lifelong resident of the city of Toronto, the central city, born here almost 51 years ago, and was educated and have worked in the city all my life. I'm currently a professor of sociology at Ryerson.
Many others have already spoken and I'm sure will be speaking in the next few weeks about how Bill 103 will harm the people of this city and of this province. Frankly, from the behaviour I've seen from this government up till now, the arrogance the leaders of this government have shown, they're not the least bit interested, really, in hearing such arguments nor are they about to be swayed by them. We had Minister Leach yesterday tell us that these proceedings won't change his mind.
I'm here today to appeal to you to change this bill, not for the people of Toronto, not for others, but for yourselves. I'm probably going to take a little different tack here than many others, but I'm going to argue that out of pure self-interest this government should withdraw this bill since it is this government that will ultimately be harmed by it. Let me explain.
As a social scientist I'm taught to look beneath the surface of things and to try to make sense of social phenomena. As I try to assess the true purpose of this sweeping, undemocratic bill in terms of the government's perception, the government's self-interest, I think to myself, are they trying to get elected again? Is that what it's about? Are they trying to appease their friends in business by ultimately cheapening the cost of labour, privatizing government enterprises and removing all government barriers to profit maximization, what's been described by many as the neo-conservative agenda? Is that what it's about?
Maybe it's connected to the comments David Rockefeller made in 1973 to the Trilateral Commission that the main problem facing humankind at that time was a global "excess of democracy." Since local levels of government are by their very nature closest to the people, they must be the first to be eroded, and thus it was that Margaret Thatcher dismantled the London city council.
Is that how we're proceeding? Is that what this government has in mind? Perhaps it's any of these things, all these reasons, or perhaps it's others. I can't imagine.
But why then is this bill against the self-interest of this government? As every scientist knows, not only social science but the physical sciences, every action has a reaction. This bill, as one small part of the neo-conservative agenda, is guaranteed sooner or later to have that reaction. As the previous speaker said, it's already begun. We've begun to see increasing social unrest, labour unrest, the marches from the Days of Action, increased social activism in this city which is unprecedented in this city, and increased social instability.
The very stability that big business craves will not be met by this agenda. We've got Mike Harris spending $50 million of our tax dollars going on CNN, I heard this morning, to promote this city. No business is going to want to come to a city with this kind of social upheaval. It has money down the tubes, frankly. Of course some business people have already said this to the government. It's been noticed. Some, such as the Toronto board of trade, have openly asked the government to rethink its policies.
At the most basic level, as the consequences of this government's policies become increasingly clear, more and more Ontarians are likely to look to other parties in the next election for greater social stability and more support for their social needs; in other words, for a party that's going to listen to them. If you want to look elsewhere to see what's likely to happen, as the previous speaker said, look to Belgrade, look to South Korea. People do eventually respond to anti-democratic process.
Why then is this government persisting in pursuing policies which few enlightened people, including some of its closest friends and allies, seem to support? Why will it not show largess by backing off now in the face of widespread public hostility to its position? While I was getting this together last night, I did the academic thing and went to my bookshelf and found a book I had read some years ago, by American historian Barbara Tuchman, called The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam. It's a very fascinating book about governments which continue on wrongheaded paths even when it is against their own self-interest to do so, paths that eventually, you should note, lead to their own demise. Her words seem more relevant than ever. I'd like to read them to you, and I urge the members of this committee and of the Progressive Conservative Party to seriously consider them. There are bits and pieces that I've pulled together to make them coherent. This is Barbara Tuchman now:
"A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity. In this sphere, wisdom, which may be defined as the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense" -- be it noted -- "and available information, is less operative and more frustrated than it should be. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggest? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?...
"Mental standstill or stagnation -- the maintenance intact by rulers and policymakers of the ideas they started with -- is fertile ground for folly.... In the first stage, mental standstill fixes the principles and boundaries governing a political problem. In the second stage, when dissonances and failing function begin to appear, the initial principles rigidify. This is the period when, if wisdom were operative, re-examination and re-thinking and a change of course are possible, but they are rare as rubies in a backyard. Rigidifying leads to increase of investment and the need to protect egos; policy founded upon error multiplies, never retreats. The greater the investment and the more involved in it the sponsor's ego, the more unacceptable is disengagement. In the third stage, pursuit of failure enlarges the damages....
"A principle that emerges [in this process] is that folly is a child of power. We all know, from unending repetitions of Lord Acton's dictum, that power corrupts. We are less aware that it breeds folly; that the power to command frequently causes failure to think, that the responsibility of power often fades as its exercise augments. The overall responsibility of power is to govern as reasonably as possible in the interest of the state and its citizens. A duty in that process is to keep well-informed, to heed information, to keep mind and judgment open and to resist the insidious spell of wooden-headedness. If the mind is open enough to perceive that a given policy is harming rather than serving self-interest, and self-confident enough to acknowledge it, and wise enough to reverse it, that is a summit in the art of government."
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Thank you for your presentation. With the fact that the Premier has said that referendums are irrelevant as far as this issue is concerned -- finally we did convince the government to hold proceedings such as this morning -- do you think it's a waste of time, that the government's mind is made up, it's going to go through with this and it couldn't care less about the people of Toronto?
Ms Naiman: This is a very difficult question to answer, because on the one hand one might say it's a waste of time; on the other hand I do believe in democracy, however limited democracy may be. I don't want us to give up what limited rights we've been given at this point at least to make our voices heard, so that when that democracy is taken away from us -- that's why I'm here today.
I'll maybe give a bit of my background. Growing up as a young Jewish girl in Toronto in the 1950s, I was seized with how good people could let terrible things happen during the war. I was seized with it. I feel we have to speak out and that it's very important, because you don't go to bed one night with democracy and wake up with it gone. It's taken away piece by piece by piece, and we have to fight it every step of the way.
The Chair: Ms Naiman, I want to thank you for coming forward to make your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Jocelyn Stratton please come forward? Welcome, Ms Stratton.
Ms Jocelyn Stratton: Before I begin, I would like to tell the committee that I am legally blind and ask you to bear with me if I have a little bit of difficulty reading my notes.
Mr Chair and members of the committee, it is not easy for me to be here today. I'm completely unused to doing anything of this kind. My life is filled with grandchildren, lectures, hobbies and travel. Frankly, this is not my idea, as the young people say, of a fun thing to do.
I have always voted according to the information I could gather, and I have always voted, but never have I been politically active. However, I am here to speak to the committee today because I believe it is very important to talk to you. I believe in democracy and I love Toronto.
When Bill 103 first came to my attention, a wild supposition came to my mind: What if it were suddenly to be known that the country of New Zealand -- and I chose New Zealand because it has the same population as Metro Toronto -- had handed over its government to three appointed trustees who would be able to govern for a year with arbitrary retroactive powers, with no way to challenge any of their decisions? The United Nations would resound with outcries against this usurpation of democracy. But that is exactly what is happening to us, the citizens of Toronto. Just because we are a city, not a country, doesn't make it any more a curtailment of our democratic rights. Bill 103 strips us, for a period of time, of the precious right to be represented by elected and not appointed persons.
When people realize that their inherited and established democratic rights are being abrogated, they must take a stand; they must bear witness; they must protest. I feel that obligation.
I will not mention the politics of a political party standing for local government and for referenda before the election and then being against those things after the election. That is just politics. However, changing the form of government from that of duly elected representation to that of appointed and largely untouchable trustees is quite another thing. It is akin to taxation without representation. It is a kind of dictatorship. It is a loss of democracy. It goes beyond the game of politics and enters the realm of our system of government, diminishing our democratic system.
It is understandable that members of the Legislature wish to make Ontario prosper. We all wish for that. It is even understandable if they want to help especially their friends to prosper. It is absolutely and completely intolerable that democracy should be set aside to this end.
Have the members here today realized that power is being taken from city councillors and handed over to the board of trustees? Section 9 of Bill 103 gives trustees the power to monitor the actions of council, to revise, amend and approve all expenditures. The decisions of trustees are taken behind closed doors. Trustees are not permitted to speak to the press. It is our taxpayers' money that is being decided upon. No elected councils have ever had such power. How can you, in conscience, allow such a bill?
I have stated that I am here for two reasons. First, I believe in democracy. Second, I love Toronto, and I'm not alone. I think most of those who live in Toronto love it. Certainly those who visit it admire it. As you know, Fortune magazine has voted it to be the best city in North America in which to do business. Does the present government wish Toronto to maintain that reputation? If it does, why change things?
As a concerned Torontonian I ask the following questions: Is there an urgent need for drastic change? It would seem not. Is there a widespread demand for change? Absolutely not. Have many studies and reports recommended this amalgamation? No. Are there many examples of cities successfully governed with populations of over one million? No. Is there a single example of a city of Metro's size which is more successful than Toronto? There is not. In short all arguments for amalgamation are based on undemonstrated predictions. All arguments against amalgamation are based on sound evidence.
I think this point is so crucial to the argument on amalgamation that I will say it again: All arguments in favour of amalgamation are promises, only promises. All arguments against amalgamation are based on facts and evidence. The promises that amalgamation will save money are only promises.
It is therefore quite beyond reason that amalgamation is being forced upon us here in Metro Toronto. The exorbitant cost in money, energy and time to restructure the government is terrible to contemplate. Such a huge expenditure might make sense if there were some kind of guarantee that it would be worthwhile, but all reports and evidence show that Bill 103 would escalate costs and impair service. Is this common sense? Is this business-smart?
I love Metro Toronto, and it breaks my heart to realize what will happen to it, should Bill 103 pass. It also angers me that such an irrational and arbitrary bill can even be proposed.
I want to urge the committee to consider the long-term costs if Bill 103 is passed into law. Toronto will cease to be a vibrant, healthy, responsive, Canadian city and become a huge, overblown, impoverished, ill-administered imitation of Chicago or LA. We should, all of us together, celebrate, congratulate and support this wonderful urban centre as it is. After all, thousands of US citizens do just that when they visit.
What can this committee do? I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, not to report this bill back to the Legislature. Let it die. Let Metropolitan Toronto live.
The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.
The Chair: Order, please, ladies and gentlemen. We have just about a minute and a half for questions.
Ms Stratton: Do I have a minute to add something?
The Chair: Okay.
Ms Stratton: As I have a little time left, perhaps this committee would like to have reported to it a joke that is currently passing around. The question is, what is worse than sexual harassment? The answer is Mike Harrisment. This is important. Members of the committee may want to reflect that when people feel themselves under a repressive and undemocratic kind of government, jokes of this kind gain coinage.
The Chair: Thank you for coming forward and making your presentation this morning.
The Chair: Would Wayne Olson please come forward. Good morning, Mr Olson. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Wayne Olson: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee today. I'm here wearing a number of hats: as a citizen of Toronto, as a parent, as a small business owner, and I'm here as a practising architect in the city of Toronto.
I'm here for two main reasons. First I want to express my concern, and even more strongly, if I may, my anger and even outrage at the tactics and what I see, at least, quite clearly as being misinformation being used by the government to push Bill 103 and the associated downloading legislation into law. This is happening in the face of what seems to me to be virtually unprecedented citizen business and expert concern and opposition.
As an example I refer to the pamphlet we're all familiar with produced by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing which shows contempt, as per Speaker Stockwell's ruling, for parliamentary process, indicating that the government's proposals follow logically from numerous past studies. One only has to hear David Crombie, Anne Golden, Jack Diamond and other authors of these reports to know that this is not completely true. The government also demonstrates abundant contempt for its citizens.
My second reason for appearing before you is to request as forcefully as I can that Bill 103 and related downloading legislation be withdrawn pending further review and consultation. As a citizen of Toronto, a city of some 600,000 people, I value my local municipal government. I value the significance of being on a first-name basis with my local councillor, whether or not I happen to agree with his politics. I value the symbol of democracy that is Toronto's city hall. I value the local parks, the wading pools and the skating rinks. I value the libraries, the recreation centres, all with programs and services tailored to the needs of my neighbourhood and funded out of my city of Toronto taxes at less than $2 per day. I ask you to respect my passion for my city by withdrawing Bill 103.
As a parent I want my two young children to grow up understanding and respecting the principle of democracy. I want them to believe that our government works for us and not the other way around, I want my kids to have faith that consultation and discussion and debate are respected in our society, and in return I want them to be able to respect and support their governments and their elected representatives. I ask you to preserve this respect by withdrawing Bill 103.
As a small business owner I want to work and do business in a city that is safe and humane and enriching. I want a local government that understands the dynamics, needs and benefits of small business in an urban city like Toronto. I want to pay taxes at a reasonable level, reflecting the efficiencies inherent in an older and more compact city to an accountable government. I ask you to act to preserve this locally based, supportive environment for small business by withdrawing Bill 103.
As an architect I believe in a logical and consultative change and design process. I must listen to my clients or I am negligent. I must base my design recommendations on facts and professional experience or I am incompetent. In this case we, the citizens, are the client. The government is the architect, and the obligation of the government, I believe, is to propose a defensible, affordable and desired renovation plan for local democracy.
Say that an architect is looking at six adjacent houses on the street, like six municipalities in Metro Toronto: neighbours, yes, but with different histories, lifestyles and renovation needs. One may want to rebuild, another wants a new kitchen while another only wants a paint job. A responsible architect would listen to all the clients' needs and propose tailored solutions, perhaps suggesting that they may use some of the same contractors for economies of scale but respecting the individual character of the homes and the clients. But in this case our hypothetical architect, who happens to have extraordinary powers, unilaterally decides that all the properties will be assembled into a single parcel, that demolition will commence immediately and that a new dormitory will be constructed in the place of the previous varied house forms. The clients can still live there. Indeed they are forced to continue to pay rent, but there is no consultation and there is no appeal. This is clearly not responsible or professional. I ask you to restore faith both in a logical planning process and in true and democratic consultation by withdrawing Bill 103.
The government being slated for destruction is my government. The politicians slated for extinction are my politicians. This is my city hall, these are my parks, my services, my bylaws and my tax dollars. Is anyone surprised that I and others like me are angry? Thousands of other Toronto residents feel as strongly as I do, and I've seen them at meetings. Many other Ontarians are also seriously offended by what is seen as being undemocratic and arrogant action. I believe that if the government proceeds with the stated agenda and time frame, irreparable harm will have been done not only to the municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto but to public respect for government in Ontario.
The government has a choice: to proceed with the reckless haste we've seen so far, risk the full range of fallout, politically in the short term and perpetually in the history books; or alternatively to demonstrate that you are a government that is willing to listen and to consider alternatives. The opportunity for constructive consultation and consensus building may now exist. Everyone, residents, politicians and bureaucrats alike, has been shocked out of their complacency. I hope that the government will seize the opportunity by withdrawing Bill 103 and by initiating a true consensus-building process.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Order, please. Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you'd hold your applause to a minimum. Mr Silipo, we have about three minutes for questions.
Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Mr Olson, thanks for your presentation. One of the things that has been mentioned this morning -- I want to just put this forward as one potential way, if the government members are listening, they may be able to find to back down from the kind of corner they seem to have painted themselves into -- is that, as you know, there will be a referendum taking place in Metropolitan Toronto which will give people a way to express their views.
The irony of this whole situation is that even today -- this isn't a question of the Tories having promised to be in favour of referenda before the election and now being against this referendum -- even this afternoon, while this committee will continue its hearings here in this room, in another committee room only steps away we will be dealing with the proposal from the same government to actually set in place a referendum law.
The contradiction is incredible, and it just continues to be apparent at every turn. On this one the government refuses to listen to the people, but on many other fronts they're saying they want to have a referendum law. Do you see the referendum process as at least being a way that Mike Harris and company can say, "If people are actually opposed to this megacity concept, just maybe we can hold back and take a look at what the other alternatives are"?
Mr Olson: The referendum is going to be a legitimate expression of community and citizen opinion. One may argue about the technicalities and the details of it, but by and large the result will be a legitimate expression of community concern. I think the government is obligated ethically, if not legally, to take that into account and I hope it will.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Mr Olson, Minister Leach says people worry that local government will be less accessible; he says the opposite is true. He also says the new act will create neighbourhood committees that would give citizens a chance to be directly involved in the issues and then he says, "The way we see it, with a single united system of government in Toronto, a direct line can be created from neighbourhoods straight to the very top." Don't you feel comforted by that?
Mr Olson: These proposed neighbourhood committees are not elected; they're not accountable. The difference between the Metro level of government now and the local levels of government in terms of accessibility and a sense of connection with the population: To see that difference one only has to attend the various city halls and then attend Metro Hall and look at the difference in attendance. I think you'll see which level of government people feel the closest to.
Mr Marchese: There are plenty of other questions that Mr Leach raises. He says: "We have also heard comment that the government is rushing this legislation through without consultation. Again, the opposite is true. We based our decision to act on years of research, debate and public discussion. That includes the work of the GTA task force. And the consultation carried out by the GTA review panel on the task force." He also says, "Amalgamation of some local municipalities has been recommended by...mayors," as well. "We've had a lot of research," he says. "We've done a lot of consultation. We're not rushing through this." Is that your sense?
Mr Olson: I would like to see a synopsis or a summary of the recommendations of these various reports presented by the government as a basis for the content and the approach of Bill 103. I haven't seen that. I've seen a list of these reports and that has been used as an argument for Bill 103, but I haven't seen the recommendations directly related to Bill 103 and I think there's a missing link there.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Olson, for coming forward.
The Chair: Good morning, Ms Ryerson, and welcome to the committee.
Mrs Edna-Catherine Ryerson: I am happy to be here this morning and to express the fact that I've always felt privileged to be a homeowner in the city of Toronto, taxes or no. I am appreciative of the education I received along with others during the years David Crombie was the mayor. He helped us assume responsibility for making our city a better place in which to live, to participate, to speak up, to have a say, to organize neighbourhood ratepayer and community groups, and to work with and influence our elected representatives for the common good. That education stands and is helpful today when we face this amalgamation threat.
Our city changed immensely after the Second World War. There was a steady arrival of people from Europe, the Caribbean and Asia and the city became livelier, more colourful, less rigid and there was an enthusiasm and an eagerness to meet the challenges of the day. We needed a subway. Underneath Yonge Street was the perfect route, but when it was extended many thought the north-south should be under Bathurst Street. It was not to be. We had tried to change the minds of the TTC, but the developers had won out. The heavy traffic is still on Bathurst Street.
The widening of Bathurst Street was proposed, and we won that one because we unitedly didn't want any more speedways directly into the city. The Spadina expressway was finally stopped at Eglinton Avenue. The opposition to the Spadina expressway was a mammoth effort on the part of people who treasure our city and who did and will protect it.
Should the city hall, designed by Lennox, be torn down? The nays won out. Could we save the original small TD Bank on King Street, a marvel in handwork with bronze posts in the individual tellers' cages, mouldings three feet high joining wall and ceiling? No. We lost out on that one, but we participated.
Now we have the historical society to protect our treasured past and environment groups to help protect our water and air. We have theatres, concert halls, symphonies, both public and in our schools, other wonderful musical groups to delight us. We have Harbourfront with its theatre, ballet, gallery and the only place in the world where famous authors come to read from their books to audiences where an empty seat is hard to find. We have free swimming pools, wonderful parks, thousands of trees to shade us on our streets, nightclubs with country and jazz music, sports arenas. I could go on and on and on. Toronto is a remarkable city with a concern for others, and the people of this city deserve all the credit.
Now we are faced with the most secretive and difficult assault on our city by the Ontario government. It's declared that our city of Toronto shall amalgamate with the cities of East York, North York, York, Etobicoke and Scarborough. We're told that a board of trustees will be nominated by the Lieutenant Governor and that it will work with, but dominate, the elected representatives until 1998. The decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court. The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply to the transition team.
Why is Toronto treated this way by the provincial government? I think the government wants to control the activities and the money our city generates. Otherwise, why would our elected representatives be unable to make any decisions without the approval of the appointed board of trustees? We will have no say as to whether amalgamation should take place. When one asks why, there's never a straight answer. No one in government can come back on this decision to amalgamate with any figures that can be studied.
Is it money that's the reason for such plans to change what we treasure? In the past six years we have experienced a difficult time. We're told by the federal and provincial governments that we must pay off the deficit. There is 10% unemployment in the country; higher in Quebec and among native people and students. The federal and provincial governments tackle this grave problem by laying off thousands of people from government jobs, closing hospitals, laying off nurses in hospitals and homes for the aged, getting rid of teachers and social workers. Benefits are cut for the unemployed and the poor.
Industries, while making enormous profits, are promoting and acting on the theory that they must get leaner and meaner in order to compete in the global market. They downsize their staff, using technology to answer our telephone queries. Although it gives the customer very poor service as he or she pushes buttons, it's still cheaper.
There's no money to maintain OHIP as we know it, and transit in Toronto has increased senior fares by 75 cents return. They've increased the student fares by 60 cents. The mechanical condition of streetcars and buses is ignored, as the Honourable Al Leach well knows. No money.
Whenever one of us, concerned citizens, complains about the deep cuts to health care, education, welfare, unemployment insurance and social programs, we get a scolding from the corporate and political downsizers: "You are living in the past. The time has gone when governments could afford to keep funding such a strong and generous welfare state. The money isn't there any more." To quote Ed Finn, a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, "That answer is tommyrot."
Let's look at the deficit. In 1954 corporate taxes made up 24% of Revenue Canada income; individual taxes made up 35%. In 1994 corporate Canada produced 6%; individuals 60%. The federal government is responsible for collecting taxes in Canada. Why does this branch of the federal government allow $40 billion in taxes to be interest-free, to remain with the companies that owe it as an interest-free loan and allow these companies to add the money outstanding each year to the interest-free loan?
Corporations and Taxation in Canada lists all the corporate companies with pre-tax profit, income tax paid and income tax rate; also outstanding taxes. It's an eye-opener. Let me just quote from one of the 13 pages of corporations allowing $5 million or more of outstanding taxes. In 1994 BCE, which is Bell Canada's parent company, owed $2.25 billion. In 1995 it owed $2.377 billion. This is government policy here. In the US it's used as a splendid reason to say: "There is no money for our social services. We must cut, cut, cut and fire, fire, fire."
No wonder people are questioning the enormous profits when so many in Canada are having a terrible time. One in four children live in poverty. Maybe they will start to wonder if there really is a money shortage. Why is this subject of the deficit never looked into by newspapers, television or radio programs?
There will be higher taxes for small businesses and individuals if the amalgamation goes ahead and the megacity is realized. Mr Mundell, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, says the province of Ontario will set the rules and we will have no control over our own budgets or know how property taxes are spent. Mr Mundell concluded that, "AMO's initial calculations indicate that, rather than the promised shifting of equal dollar responsibilities, municipalities" -- in Ontario -- "may lose up to $700 million a year." This article was written by Gay Abbate and it was in the Globe and Mail on January 18, 1997.
How will we pay our share of the money without a tax raise? This is a yearly figure. The megacity proposal will cost money and will neglect our cities because the provincial government is far away from our needs and interests, and today is far away from understanding how a large, beautiful, successful city got that way. Don't destroy it.
Mr Gilchrist: Just very quickly, Ms Ryerson, I draw your attention to the fact that there have been 60 different reports done just since 1992 on various aspects of service delivery within Metro Toronto. Some dealt with all services; others were individual. For example, there was an Ernst and Young report on the possible amalgamation of fire services. It alone showed $35 million in savings. The heads of the various parks departments met just last week and between them agreed they would save $20 million without reducing any services.
I guess my question to you is, given the evolution of Toronto -- not just Metro Toronto in the last 44 years but all of Toronto -- which started out as a very small settlement right on the lakefront to something far bigger today, what is there implicit in just the change of artificial political boundaries that would in any way compromise the quality of life in this city? What possible difference does it make?
The people in Forest Hill, who all consider themselves Toronto residents today, were very opposed 30 years ago to being amalgamated. Today, Forest Hill is still considered Forest Hill. It's still a community and those people are proud to call themselves Torontonians in the greater sense. What is so fundamentally important about artificial political boundaries in the sense of what makes a community?
Mrs Ryerson: I think Toronto is an especially remarkable city. I think you would agree with that. There are not very many places like it in the world. I think it must be partly from the fact that the people who live in this city are prepared to give extra, to work harder, to live in a more expensive place because they have such a beautiful place to live in. I'm sure that's true. We have water, we have an island close by and so on. All these things matter very much, and I think it's that that makes people feel happy.
If you are always told what you can do and what you can't do, and if the law is laid down in such a way that says, "It will be this way whether you like it or not," I don't think that's a way of getting along with people. I think there has always been a give and take. That sounds as if it's going to be gone.
The Vice-Chair (Mrs Julia Munro): Thank you very much, Ms Ryerson. We appreciate your comments this morning.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on William Archer. Good morning and welcome to the committee.
Mr William Archer: I have copies of my text available for the media.
I appreciate this limited opportunity to address the committee. As the time is short, I am providing your members with some background material. The clerk might distribute it because I can't cover everything in 10 minutes and you may find it of interest. I regret that I have only one copy of the New York handbook which deals with community boards. That could be filed with the clerk, and they might obtain others.
To identify my political affiliation, I simply say, "Shake the hand that shook the hand of G. Howard Ferguson." That's a couple of weeks ago.
There is a need for modifications in our structure of local government, but there is not a need for major surgery. Changes require time. In my study of Niagara, I found that four years of study, review and consultation took place before the region was established, and as a result, it has worked quite well. I appreciate that someone may have only been 10 or 12 when I did the study, but if he goes to Brock University and gets the study by Rod Church, he will find the details that occurred in Niagara.
Bill 103 ignores the principles of effective representation, access and informed discussion at the area and local levels. Mr Gilchrist was talking about artificial boundaries. All municipal boundaries are artificial and are established, so you're always going to have a break somewhere and you have to have some lines. But there's a difference between area levels and local levels. Actually, the real need today is for a coordinating structure for the GTA involving transportation, water and sewage services, development and planning. This legislation does nothing for the GTA and does serious damage to the structure of government in Metro Toronto. The costs are mythical. It's a beautiful Greek word, but it does describe: they're mythical; they're in the clouds.
If your problem is semantic and you want the word "Toronto" to be used for the Metro area, the answer is simple. It was suggested in 1969. Call the whole area the city of Toronto and call the local governments boroughs. This word is used both in New York and London and has some stature to it.
One wonders if the purpose of this legislation is to get rid of some political representatives who have views and ideas that some people don't like. If you want to change elected representatives, you do it at the election. You should not wipe out the structure of a government which in many ways works very well. Some improvements may be needed; there always are. Probably here at Queen's Park you've got committees doing reviews of various things.
Your attention is directed to the article from the Toronto Star of September 24, 1995, "The Shame of London" -- it's in the additional material -- showing what Margaret Thatcher did when she wiped out the greater London council. The Labour Party, which is likely to be elected, has committed itself to restoring the greater London council.
This legislation is full of errors, both major and minor. Read the Metro report of January 28. You even leave out the riding of Greenwood, where the famous slogan, "Not a partisan cry, but a national need," was first used. John Diefenbaker used it two or three times and credit was given to various people, but it came from Greenwood, and you leave Greenwood out.
Good legislation requires full consideration and a timely consideration of its nature and effect. Decisions do take time, consultation and knowledge, especially when they have far-reaching consequences. Metro Toronto did not come into effect overnight. It was the result of much discussion and several reports, and over time there have been modifications.
Metro may not be as well known as it should be, but a major cause of that has been the inadequate coverage by a media far more interested in Sunshine Girls and big ads for all the furniture dealers, "Don't pay until 2520" or something, and inadequate coverage can be said about all governments. The Toronto Star could not find space to print the boundaries of the new federal ridings, ridings which are to be the basis of the provincial ridings and proposed for Toronto in this legislation. The Toronto Star couldn't find space to print them.
This legislation contains serious gaps. It mentions neighbourhood committees and community councils but provides no detail. The handbook from New York has 158 pages and is only one of several documents I would draw to the attention of my colleagues in the Conservative Party; perhaps I might even reach the minister. He'll find an exchange of correspondence with him that he finally answered when the president of the local association said he should.
In 1989, the voters of New York City ratified new charter provisions changing how city governments deal with the budget. What might be good for New York might be good for Metro. The legislation flies in the face of worldwide use of two-level local government, whether it's Tokyo or Belgrade. The Serbs are fighting for the results of 14 district elections, not for one big city. It's a system that was introduced by Robert Baldwin in 1849 and used in every county and every regional area. There's talk about the Olympics. The next Olympics will be held in Sydney, Australia, which has many local governments.
If the proposal for a single city is valid, it should be able to stand up to a thorough review. If it is not, which is the view of many people, it should not be adopted.
All this is happening at a time when the government is doing a big downloading of the costs of social services, which should be financed by income taxes and not by taxes on property, a sound Conservative principle.
It is well to remember the Depression of the Dirty Thirties, when many municipalities had to be rescued. This led to the adoption of the 50-30-20 sharing by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Unfortunately, and I look to this side, the federal government has changed its policies. Now the province proposes to do likewise.
As for duplication -- it's a great word -- this depends on the actual operation. "Planning" is a generic word. The actual function differs from location to location and the responsibility of the planner. Is it area-wide? Is it for a local purpose? If I go to Niagara, is it for something that affects the whole area, because you finally got rid of your telephone system where you couldn't call from Niagara to Welland to St Catharines without paying a toll charge? Is it for a local purpose, a boulevard café? Is it for financing? Is it for family use? Is it for education? Is it for the environment? "Planning": the word may be the same, but the functions differ.
Let us avoid the extremes, both left and right, and rise above the pettiness of small-minded critics. Time should be provided for this proposal to be fully examined, with full details of how it would operate by the people who are going to have to live with it. Remember, decisions are easy. It is the consequences which may be difficult and even disastrous.
When I look to the board of trade, Mr Gilchrist, I think of the president of the board of trade, who's part of the Rogers Group, and I think he should go back and tell my friend Ted Rogers, "Amalgamation is so good that we're going to put video, cable, radio and Cantel all together into one set of administration," because he knows --
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Archer. We've exceeded your allotted time. I want to thank you for coming forward today and making your presentation to the committee.
Mr Archer: Did all the members get a copy of this?
The Chair: Yes, we did.
The Chair: May I please have Anne Redpath come forward. Welcome, Ms Redpath, to the committee this morning.
Ms Anne Redpath: My name is Anne Redpath, and I object to the merging of the cities and borough that presently make up Metropolitan Toronto. I believe such an action is poorly thought out and smells of decision-making done with 30 seconds' rattled thought. But I object even more to the power Bill 103 gives to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to kill the democratic process in Metropolitan Toronto.
I believe the democratic process has four components: electing citizens from among ourselves to make decisions about our actions and our lives; providing an input into the decision-making process of the elected officials; providing access to the courts to ensure the actions of the decision-makers, ie, the government, are legal and constitutional; and holding elected officials accountable for their actions. These components or actions are the due process of being governed in a democracy.
How does Bill 103 affect democracy in Toronto and the process of my being governed as a resident of the city? Bill 103 replaces the elected officials of the city of Toronto with politically appointed trustees. The trustees are responsible and accountable to the Ontario government. The persons whom I and my fellow residents elected to our municipal governments are, as they say in the vernacular, toast. Indeed, their position is untenable. Legally, they are accountable and responsible to the residents of their municipalities until the next election. But illegally now, and legally if Bill 103 is passed, they have no authority to make any decisions that deal with revenues, expenditures, budgets, the hiring of personnel or the separating of personnel. Due democratic process has been breached, shattered like a china teacup hurled against a concrete wall.
The trustees meet in secret and do not report on their meetings to the public. Thus it is not possible to have any input into their decision-making process. It is not even possible to know what decisions they have made. The public -- that's me and other ordinary people like me -- pay the salaries of these trustees. For that, we are entitled to no consideration, not even to know how much we are paying them.
Worse still is to be found in the bill. The public are not entitled to have any contact with the trustees or any input into the decision-making of the trustees, yet these same trustees are given the power to create and install a transition committee to oversee the proposed amalgamation. This team is paid for by us, but it reports to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
Looking at my copy of the bill last night, I found that when I read it last December I had written "Christ," followed by three exclamation points, next to subsection 18(1). That is the subsection that says, "The decisions of the transition team are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." Another element of democratically due process bites the dust. The trustees are above the law.
Bill 103 provides that a transition team be appointed to oversee the proposed amalgamation. The transition team is appointed until dissolved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs at some date on or subsequent to January 31, 1998. There is no assurance that the team will ever go. The team are political appointees of the government. They report to the minister. They are not accountable to us; we only pay their way and the way of those they appoint to assist them.
Bill 103 requires the transition team to bring into being the administration for the megacity. Think about the implications of such an action. The government makes political appointments of trustees, who in turn make political appointments of the transition committee, who in turn make political appointments of all the other positions in the administration, and the bill says that no person appointed can be changed by subsequent municipal governments, another abrogation of our democratic process.
The government of Ontario appoints all, absolutely all, of the civil servants of this new megalopolis, and appoints them for life. We have no input into the personnel decisions, no way to hold those appointing accountable, because they are not elected. The bill prohibits the courts from scrutinizing the actions of the transition team or the trustees. All are exempt from being held personally liable for their actions. Oh, what a wonderful world in which to be a political appointee. Oh, what a wonderful world for the Tory government. They will have created an administration for the new megalopolis with a structure and personnel to reflect their image. The bill will prohibit our ever changing it.
Bill 103 tramples yet again on the due process of democracy when it gives the following powers to the transition team, the transition team that may have been appointed forever. The bill gives the transition team the ability to recommend to the minister "the amounts the new city may raise and the amounts the new city and its local boards may spend in any year." That is not the language that would be used if the transition team were not expected to be in power for a long, long time. I found I had written "Shit" beside this section in the bill when I first read it last December.
Bill 103 is a powerful instrument which carries with it the ability to easily crush and destroy the democratic process as we have known it on the municipal level in the Toronto area.
The Premier has indicated that he believes that because he was duly elected to his office he therefore has the right to do as he wishes with the 2.2 million persons in the Metropolitan Toronto area. The power he is using to destroy us is not unlike the power that gets used when a man takes a woman to dinner, subsequently rapes her but calls it consensual sex because she gave her consent by accepting his dinner invitation. Because we voted Tory in the last election, we are presumed to have given our consent to have the democratic process of our city pillaged by those we elected provincially. We did not.
As I wrote this submission to the committee, I found myself asking why Premier Harris and Minister Leach would want to disfranchise me. Why would they want to use their power to squash me like a beetle under the foot of a jackbooted thug? What have I done to deserve this treatment?
But the issue is bigger than a personal one. The issue is, what has Toronto done or what do Toronto and North York and Etobicoke and Scarborough and York and East York have the potential to do that requires this naked use of power and the obscene abuse of the democratic process by the government of Ontario under Mr Harris? Bill 103 deserves to die.
Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): An excellent presentation. Could you give me your comment on a statement made by Mr Gilchrist that amalgamation has nothing to do with the downloading of the responsibility now being given to the municipality? What are your views on that?
Ms Redpath: My view is that amalgamation is probably necessary, because if they were to download without it, two of the municipalities could be forced into bankruptcy by the downloading, unless they have merged it and the costs are shared.
Mr Curling: You feel that it's a further cost to the municipality, that the province is neglecting its responsibility as a province and passing it on to the municipality? Is that your view?
Ms Redpath: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Curling, and thank you for coming forward --
Mr Sergio: Do we have more time?
The Chair: You have about 30 seconds if you want to add something, Mr Sergio.
Mr Sergio: If I can squeeze it in very quickly. Mr Leach did say it's time to move on, because they've had too many studies; therefore, he has to move on. Then they engaged Mr Crombie to do a final study of disentanglement and his recommendations were totally neglected. They did not do what Mr Crombie had recommended. What do you think of that?
Ms Redpath: If you were to say to me it's time to move on, and I'm on an ice floe out in the middle of the lake, how I move on is of critical importance, and I think it's how we move on here that's important.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Redpath, for coming forward.
The Chair: Would Peter Shepherd please come forward. Good morning, Mr Shepherd. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Peter Shepherd: Good morning. I'm not representing any particular group, but I'm with the Citizens for Local Democracy and I'm also with the Carpenters Local 27.
I guess my main concern is work for people in my union and for what we've been trained in. I felt I had been trained in thermal retrofit, so I am very interested in whether we're able to work in something that should be socially beneficial and should reduce the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate in my union was about 50% for four years, from 1991 to 1995. I see this bill as the direct antithesis of being able to operationalize energy efficiency programs.
I live in a rooming house which is a thermal slum. I have no leverage with which to change that. My walls are very cold, and there are many other concerns in terms of energy and security. What I'm seeing coming from the environmentalists is that we could be facing an ecosystem crash within several decades and that there's no consideration given to distribution of positional goods. For instance, if you could generate 10 times more jobs from energy efficiency programs, from putting to carpenters to work retrofitting buildings, then you would actually cut the unemployment rate a great deal.
But this kind of legislation and removing, as the provincial government has just done, the requirement to insulate basements, is in direct opposition or is not trying to fight the trend towards eco-catastrophe. You don't have to look very far into hydrology and radiation balance to see that this is all supported by mainstream science, and this government is not doing anything to deal with this in a systematic way.
I guess to have a little more focus, I'll read from what Brian Milani wrote describing how the changes of this Bill 103 will impact on the economic system for my community, which is Carpenters:
"The megacity is not just bad for environmental protection, but it sabotages advanced forms of production and development.
"Environmentalists have long championed local control as the surest means of protecting the natural environment. People generally know and value their communities best. Local organization, local participation and local representation in government has been the best guarantee of environmental health and quality. Current provincial government moves to undercut local governance through its megacity plans have been unanimously condemned by the environmental movement. But the crippling of environmental protection is only one ecological dimension of the megacity project. Green economic development is the primary hope for a truly efficient, job-creating and high-quality economic development in urban areas today. The giant centralized bureaucracy proposed by the Tories represents a choice for development based on waste, paper (not material) wealth, labour displacement and growing inequality.
"Scale, efficiency and participation
"The relationship of efficiency and democracy to scale is always important. But in an ecological economy, the connection between grass-roots democracy and economic efficiency is especially crucial. This is because ecological efficiency depends so much on flexibility and participation. Green economic development works by doing `the most with the least' -- the fewest materials and the least energy -- by moving with natural processes and making the most of local capacities."
Related to this, I'd just like to point out that the company that I worked with that built the healthy house -- you'll hear from the National Energy Conservation Association, which is a trade-based organization, there is not a level playing field in terms of the energy policy in the country. When you give billions of dollars to oil, auto and nuclear industries, it's impossible for those companies to get off the ground, and they basically kill themselves because they're not on a level playing field. It stunts the entire industry so that all we're left with is being able to export very dangerous technologies such as nuclear to China and underwriting those at great cost and risk, which is an enormous security risk and does nothing in terms of the distribution of positional goods, that is, jobs that pay a living wage to those who are perfectly willing to work and who are trained in these programs.
"In a green economy, the landscape, urban design and spatial organization of all sorts have a particularly important role to play in doing `more with less.' In green development, the landscape itself can be skilfully cultivated to do the work ordinarily requiring massive megaprojects and great materials and energy throughput."
By this, we can go back to hydrology. When you look at, say, ecological footprint studies, if you haven't studied environmental engineering, the numbers seem to come out of nowhere, but what I'm seeing is that it is very possible to have a complete ecosystem crash within several decades, because all you have to do is remove one critical factor from the equation. You change one critical factor, and that's enough to crash the whole system, which is what we're actually doing.
"`Eco-infrastructure' can provide for many community needs for pure water, food, energy, clean air, climate control, and even industrial feedstocks. Even the siting of industrial processes can facilitate the elimination of waste by having complementary enterprises use each other's byproducts and waste heat."
At this point, we could point out that you could heat all of Scarborough from the waste heat from I think it was either Darlington or Pickering, one of the two, so in terms of having massive projects that don't distribute work, it's just extremely inefficient, even from a conservative point of view. We all express our conservatism in different ways, but in mainstream science, there's a powerful cultural bias in the scientific community towards saying that large-scale projects that work with nuclear physics, which is a very exciting, glamorous area, are more efficient than actually having energy retrofit, which doesn't on the surface appear to be very interesting. But this is a way in which we can democratize science and put many people to work, and the training is already there.
There have been 100 people trained in my union, and of all those 100 people who have been trained in the last four years in energy retrofit, only 18 of them got a contract for six months, so this is many man-hours that could have been done operationalizing a system that would show that green economics is really the way to promote an industrial renaissance in employment. I'll just go back to reading the text here.
"Absolutely key to this kind of intelligent design are questions of scale, that is, appropriate scale. Small is not always beautiful, but large is most often quite inefficient and inflexible. `Closing the loops of production and consumption' usually means fitting into very specific local circumstances, and being tuned into very specific local needs. It means serving local consumption and regional markets much more, rather than exports. And the design and management of such processes are too complex to be done from above in a hierarchical fashion.
"Making the best use of every place means that green economic development requires much greater participation than conventional industrial development, which is capital-intensive and export-driven. Making the most of the diversity and idiosyncracies of every community and place means a much greater `eyes to acres' ratio. This is true when considering major energy-retrofit programs, urban permaculture, solar aquatic water treatment, recycling and remanufacturing systems.
"Eco-development is people-intensive. It relies less on large amounts of capital, energy or materials, and more on human skills and creativity. These projects and enterprises create prosperity, not just as a spinoff of capital accumulation, but directly, by increasing a community's quality of life. This direct production of green development for community and environmental need, coupled with the people-intensive nature of green development, means that human development occupies centre stage. Community is at the core of real green economic development, and a key to local development is intimate knowledge of local needs."
The Chair: Mr Shepherd, I'm going to have to ask you to wrap up. You're coming to the end of your allotted time.
Mr Shepherd: Okay. I'll just stop there. If anybody has any questions --
The Chair: You've actually gone beyond your allotted time, so if you want to have a final word on your presentation, you can.
Mr Shepherd: No, that's fine.
The Chair: I want to thank you very much, on behalf of the committee, for coming forward today to make your presentation.
The Chair: Will Gary Shaul please come forward. Good morning, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Gary Shaul: Thank you. Just for the record, the name on the list is spelled incorrectly. Thank you for the opportunity to make a few comments this morning. My name is Gary Shaul. I was born in Toronto and spent a big part of my life in North York. I currently reside in Toronto and I also work in Toronto, next door at the Ministry of Education and Training in the Mowat Block, where I'm also the local OPSEU president, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. I would like to focus briefly on three areas: representation, privatization and equity.
First, on representation: Reducing the number of elected representatives from 134 to 44, as I understand, is a cut of about 67%, and this will cause the average ward to have about 50,000 residents. In contrast, it's my understanding that the average ward in North Bay has about 5,300 residents. I ask, how will councillors ever find the time to meet with all the constituents who have problems? How often will councillors get a chance to speak at council meetings of 44 councillors? I believe the wards are too big and the council is too big.
With wards this size, it's going to take considerable resources to even think about running for political office. I believe this will narrow the pool of candidates to those who can either afford to bankroll themselves or find corporate sponsors to back them. I believe this will severely impact the diversity of our elected councils and result in a council dominated by business-oriented candidates. The few grass-roots candidates who may succeed in getting into office will be grossly outnumbered on the council.
This leads to my second point, on privatization. The trend towards privatizing public services is growing. We're seeing it at all levels of government. By creating one huge city, it's going to make it easier to sell off public services and assets. Contracts are going to be larger, and only the largest corporations are going to benefit from this. Who will people complain to when they're not receiving the services they are paying for?
Public services should be delivered by the public sector, not by the for-profit private sector which cares little about the communities in which they operate and cares most about their bottom lines.
My last point is on equity. First, what is going to happen to all the equity-related programs currently being delivered by the different cities? These are programs which have been designed and tailored over a period of years for a variety of different communities and circumstances. These are programs which have a direct impact on the quality of life for residents and working conditions for civic employees.
What we will see, I believe, is at best the lowest-common-denominator approach to dealing with fairness in the delivery of programs and in working conditions. With the downloading of services on municipalities -- and I know this is probably the topic for another set of hearings -- we will see the new city of Toronto unable to afford any funds for equity programs. We have already seen this at the provincial level, where the Employment Equity Act was repealed, plans to address systemic discrimination that were already under way were scrapped and, despite promises, nothing has been put in place to deal with systemic discrimination in the workplace.
Another aspect of the equity issue goes back to my first point about representation. People of colour and others who are already not well represented in any of the seven governments will become even more marginalized if corporate candidates dominate the new council.
In conclusion, the creation of a single city of Toronto is shortsighted and not well-planned-out. There are more questions now than there are answers. A more reasonable approach to dealing with municipal reform in Toronto would be to set up an inclusive consultation process with enough time to allow citizens to participate fully with access to all the facts and information. Thank you.
The Chair: We have about five minutes for questions.
Mr Silipo: Thank you very much, Mr Shaul, and also for allowing a bit of time for us to exchange some thoughts. I want to start with your last point on the consultation process that you're advocating happen. Certainly we have been calling upon the government to ensure that here, just like they're able to accept the consultation and discussion process in the surrounding area, the 905 area, in Hamilton and Ottawa and many other areas where different ways of restructuring municipal governance have been looked at, where there has been or will be some process in place -- Metropolitan Toronto seems to be the only place where they're saying: "No, we know what's best; we don't need a process," even though David Crombie, the last person they asked to look at this, said that's exactly what was needed. What they want to do instead is to simply roll on with their decision.
Of course, one thing that has resulted in is the referenda being held later, starting this month and into March. It seems to me that those at least give the government the possibility to say that if the people of Metropolitan Toronto reject their megacity scheme, they will at least take some time to reflect upon that and pause in this. Could you comment about your sense of the role that the referenda are going to play in this process we're into now?
Mr Shaul: Minimally, the referenda are allowing for discussion to happen, debates at all levels. I was in an Italian restaurant the other night; I don't understand Italian, but I heard the word "megacity" going. Everywhere I go -- I was talking to my mother, who I wouldn't call political in any way, and she's talking about the issues. I think that's at least one positive thing: People are starting to talk about it.
For something that took as long to build as Metro Toronto, we need to make sure there's enough time to make sure all these issues are dealt with. I believe the results of the referenda should be respected. Whether that's the end of the road and it's just the status quo -- I don't know if I'm advocating that either, but I think the government should heed what people have to say at the community level.
Mr Silipo: I'm certainly not hearing many people advocate the status quo. Others have said, and I certainly would agree, that there is a will to look at what changes should be made, but it should be done with some kind of sensible process of discussion that involves local politicians and, most important, involves citizens who are going to be affected by these changes.
At the many meetings I've been attending on this, as you and others have, people are beginning to understand very clearly that this is all about downloading costs, increasing property taxes and losing services that we have today and that perhaps we've been taking for granted to some extent.
Ms Churley: Thank you for your presentation. Personally, I very much appreciate your point about the difficulty there will be for local grass-roots people to run in a municipal election. I say "personally" because when I ran in 1988, my short-lived career at city hall -- you may recall back in 1988 there was quite an uprising against the pro-development council which existed at the time. Remember Bay-Adelaide and the curtain of high-rises built without public consultation and proper planning down by the waterfront? There was an uprising against that and against bad environmental planning in my ward, and other issues, and I was able to go out there, with very little money, as a grass-roots community candidate and over a nine-month period knock on practically every door, get to know people, have them know who I am and my involvement in the community.
I very much fear, as you do, that with these huge boundaries, that isn't going to happen, that the kind of innovation that local grass-roots candidates who know their communities can bring will just disappear. I believe that's what you're saying, that the innovative programs that came out of city council here in Toronto, for instance, that come from local grass-roots candidates, just won't be there any more.
Mr Shaul: There's a saying which probably applies: Think locally and act globally. To the extent that communities are able to participate in decision-making around what happens in their neighbourhoods, in their communities, you're going to get programs and policies that reflect what people need. The bigger those ridings, the more distant the representatives are going to be and the harder for representatives to take the pulse of the community as well as to actually make things happen in their community.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Shaul, for coming forward to make your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Dan Leckie please come forward. Good morning, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Dan Leckie: Thank you, Mr Chairman and members. My name is Dan Leckie, and I guess what I'm here to do is to appeal to you for my job. I am a city councillor for ward 5, downtown Toronto. That includes Queen's Park, so in some sense we're your host, but it also includes a number of very vibrant and healthy downtown neighbourhoods: Chinatown, Kensington, Sussex-Ulster, the waterfront, Bathurst Quay.
These are neighbourhoods I love. I also say that I love my job. But I also want to point out to you that if you think of them in terms of the neighbourhoods you personally live in, you know that neighbourhoods are very fragile places; they're very vulnerable to change. If all of a sudden Elliot Lake gets hit with a huge Denison Mines layoff, property values fall through the floor, people are unemployed and every community support starts to be challenged: the hospital, the women's auxiliary, the welfare situation. A neighbourhood like that is very vulnerable.
I want to point out to you that downtown neighbourhoods are equally vulnerable. They're in very fragile circumstances. They're in a large metropolis area which has not only millions of tourists -- downtown Toronto has about two million tourists in it almost every month -- but more significantly than that, these neighbourhoods can be affected by planning decisions or by environmental factors or by safety issues that other neighbourhoods usually have more control over.
One of the things I urge you to think about is, how can downtown neighbourhoods have the, mainly, planning power they need to protect themselves? I sometimes use the example that one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto is the Sussex-Ulster-Annex area. Everybody knows about it. However, at one time it was going to be the offramp for the meeting of the midtown and Spadina expressways. If those had been built, that neighbourhood wouldn't have existed at all.
Today, I've got to point out to you, most of my job is spent working with those neighbourhoods, with the city planning department and public works department in solving local problems to keep those neighbourhoods from feeling abandoned, to solve their traffic and parking problems, to deal with environmental issues, to make sure they have adequate parks. It's those kinds of things that are so important.
If you take an area and let it deteriorate, which I propose to you would happen under Bill 103, then abandoned buildings in those areas become subject to vandalism and they decrease property values and a feeling of safety in that area. Then what you have is a mass exodus from those areas and a switch of use, usually to a worse condition.
Toronto has always prided itself in being, and is known internationally as, a city which has people on the street 24 hours a day. There's a residential base, there's a working day base, there's a tourist base, there are events, bars, nightclubs and cafés, but that's only possible because you have those residential core neighbourhoods there to anchor the whole process. Part of the reason Toronto is safe and healthy, why people can walk the streets at night, is because it's someone's neighbourhood and they respect that and they look after it.
Just this morning I met with the police. We were doing local problem-solving about where some gang activities had developed. With my ability now to work with the street allowance control bylaw staff, neighbours and the police I can say: "Hey, if we move that vending stall and that grate, then that situation won't develop in that particular place. We can solve that problem for you, for the police and for the neighbourhood and it will be a more safe place." That is impossible under Bill 103.
You might ask why. It's simply that not only would my job, representing now maybe 30,000 people -- I've got to point out to you that I also have all the downtown business square footage to contend with. My new ward would be 50,000 people, but I would have the problems of the whole of Metropolitan Toronto to deal with. I would spend all my time solving the problem of what I just spoke of by the simplistic solution, the formula solution of, "Gee, if there's a problem there, then we need more police." But everybody knows that doesn't work.
You solve community problems by flexible, local neighbourhood solutions. In a new council I would be so preoccupied with mega-project approaches and formula approaches to problem-solving that I would never have the time or the orientation to get down and work with a neighbourhood and try to figure out how it can be a safer place, a healthier place, a place that has some sense of power and control over the significant things that affect it.
I beg you to think about your own neighbourhood, to think about what it needs to be healthy and safe, to think about the fact that what you're doing here is changing the political power of our neighbourhoods. My downtown neighbourhoods will go from one vote in a council of 17, where all the other councillors represent similar kinds of neighbourhoods and understand each other, to a council where there will be one vote out of 45, where the predominant preoccupation and all your time will be absorbed in trying to capture in your mind how to solve the mega transportation, policing and utility questions for the area. Local community planning and safety issues will be completely lost. I just urge you to think that through.
In that regard I obviously continue to support a two-tier structure. I just want to point out quickly why. First of all the lower tiers don't cost you much. The total transfers to the city of Toronto from the province are only $24 million out of a budget of $500 million. Yet we're out there trying to solve problems that you are going to have to deal with in the future.
I'm a chair of the city cycling committee and I'm the president of the Toronto atmospheric fund. We're out there making Toronto the best cycling city in North America. We're trying to solve issues associated with air quality, asthma, cancer, water quality, swimmable beaches. These are things that we systematically work at with local neighbourhoods and not with many resources from the province. These are the things that not only keep Toronto healthy and safe but they give the whole of the GTA a healthy core on which to base their economic development and their quality of life.
We aren't the cause of the problems you're trying to solve, and I say "we," the local municipality. A two-tier structure is meant at the senior level -- the Metro government in this case -- to provide for coordination and equity issues. The local level tries to deal with the planning and public health and community accountability issues. That can work very well. We're in the process of resolving a lot of our problems with Metro, and those can be done through convergence of departments and by good communication and coordination. I agree with you that to have efficient, effective growth, there needs to be more coordination, but on the broader regional basis. You still need to have the local accountability of a lower tier of government which has influence and power over planning and health issues.
I also want to point out to you that not only are we not the cause of the problem but we're in the midst, in downtown Toronto, of a major recovery. This is something that should appeal to those of you who are primarily concerned about cost and economic development rather than local neighbourhood safety. In my ward alone, on the waterfront we have $3 billion worth of building permit applications or planning requests for rezoning or revitalization. In the rest of the ward, in the King-Spadina area we've taken an historical industrial area and rezoned it. I have 2,000 housing units being developed right now in the Wellington-John area. Those are major aspects of a recovery for downtown Toronto. We've also filled up a commercial space.
Even that economic recovery is very vulnerable. If you go through with Bill 103, you're going to create not only destabilization but in the investment community you're going to create a great doubt. I know they already have the doubt and have expressed it to you, on the board of trade side, on the downloading and tax side. But in terms of the development side of the community, they're going to have a great doubt about, "Is this a good place to invest?"
First of all, I'll have to deal with a government that doesn't know what it's doing for a couple of years as it tries to figure out what to do with all these applications. It's not easy to make those planning transitions. Second, they're not going to know about the actual stable area in terms of its ability to support the kinds of investments they want to make. I beg you to look at that issue as well, one I thought might appeal to you.
The Chair: Mr Leckie, sorry. You're beyond the 10 minutes already.
Mr Leckie: Okay. I had more points, but does that mean I've also lost the opportunity to answer any questions?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr Leckie: Okay. In terms of wrapping up I simply go back to my primary premise. I have a job now that I love to do. It's for neighbourhoods that I love and a city that I love. If you think about your own neighbourhoods, you'd want them to have enough political power so that you could keep them healthy and safe. That's a very primary thing not only in municipal government but in all levels of government. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Leckie.
The Chair: Would Andrea Surich please come forward. Welcome, Andrea.
Mrs Andrea Surich: Good afternoon. Thank you for understanding the importance of having public committee hearings on this question. My name is Andrea Surich. I live and work in Toronto. I own a home in the east end of Toronto, and together with my husband, am raising my two daughters here.
I am opposed to the megacity bill, Bill 103. I've lived in many cities across Canada and have now chosen to live in Toronto. Though I have recently been offered opportunities to leave Toronto for work in other cities, I've chosen to remain here. This has not been a difficult choice. The vibrant cultural life, the opportunities afforded my children in the form of services, festivals, ethnic diversity and good, flexible education all helped me in forming this decision.
I like living in this city. I feel safe here. I know my family can have a fulfilling life here. I know my councillors will get back to me if I have problems and are creative in finding solutions.
Now the government of Ontario wants to make sweeping changes in how the cities in Metropolitan Toronto will function. To implement this amalgamation, they want to appoint three trustees to oversee our elected officials, so three appointees will be able to overrule, along with their own appointed staff, any decisions that our own elected representatives make. I'd never heard of these trustees before, and I know I certainly didn't vote for them. Maybe this is legal in provincial terms, but it certainly sounds autocratic to me, dare I say anti-democratic.
I've grown up in a democratic society here in Canada and I've always taken it for granted. I hadn't realized what a fragile thing democracy is and how important it is that we nurture and watch over it. This apparent lack of democratic process has made me stop and think about what it has been like living under this government.
I have lived, indeed thrived under many Ontario governments. Seldom have they actually been voted in by me personally, but as a citizen of Ontario I have always felt I could trust them to represent and support me. I have always seen them as a benign presence interested in the good of the population. Now I feel otherwise.
I do not trust that this government is making decisions in a measured, thoughtful manner. I do not trust that they care about every member of this society. I do not trust anything they do or say any more. Why? Because this government has abused that trust. This government is a bully government. The definition of "bully" in the Oxford dictionary: "A person who uses strength of power to coerce others by fear, who persecutes or oppresses by force or threats"; in Webster's dictionary: "Rough, overbearing fellow who intimidates, overawes; ill-treats."
We all know what bullies are. We have all dealt with them in our lives. They intimidate only those who cannot defend themselves, such as women, children, seniors, the poor and the unemployed, they are afraid of those stronger and more intelligent than themselves, such as doctors and corporations, and they emulate those they perceive as most powerful, as having it all, such as Americans. Only they are worthy of the bullies' regard.
How else to explain their unwillingness to look to Ontarians for creative solutions? How else to explain this headlong rush to copy American cities in their misguided megacities and downloading of services to the municipalities? How else to explain the joy with which they describe the city of Chicago or New York? How else to explain putting plans forward that didn't work 10 years ago elsewhere? Why can this government not believe that the way we govern municipally is the envy of other communities? Why can this government not believe Fortune magazine when it describes Toronto as the best city in the world?
Is it so difficult to believe that a Canadian way of doing things is worthy of international praise? Is this government so set in its ways that it cannot imagine that a compassionate social democracy can produce something that works better?
You should see this as a challenge to show off our form of municipal governance to the world rather than destroying it. Self-confidence in our own ways is the first step to a strong society. Bashing us continually with the information that everything is broken is demoralizing and non-constructive. In fact it is bullying.
Yes, I imagine there are inefficiencies in some areas of our municipal bureaucracy. Won't there always be? I believe many of these are being addressed as we speak. Yes, there probably are politicians who have their own agenda and won't listen to the local citizens. Won't there be if it's all bigger, and won't it be even harder to catch them at it? Amalgamate things that make sense as it's already happening, but don't take away our local representation. Don't expect councillors to represent twice as many people on local issues and expect them to function well. That's a recipe for failure.
The ability of local councillors to understand the diversity of their own wards is probably stretched to the limit as it is. As services are downloaded on the municipalities they will be even more stretched, and the bullied will have even fewer resources to protect themselves.
Where do the bullied go for help in defending themselves? To each other? Too much of their energy goes to mere survival. To their local representatives? Not if those representatives don't exist any more. Where do they go? They could look to that group of people who have a little bit more time to think about the consequences of the edicts coming down from Queen's Park -- the group that has a social conscience and still feels responsible for the wellbeing of a society as a whole, the compassionate group that is being squeezed out of existence: the middle class.
This class knows that if the city goes the way of American cities, it will no longer be pleasant to live downtown. It knows that inner-city schools will have even fewer resources and that services will be cut. It is not so naïve as to think that property taxes will not be raised to save what is important. The spectre of empty office buildings and a dying downtown core are frightening ones. This group knows that it either voices its concerns or leaves the city. The bullied do not have that choice.
So why are we still here? Because we know in our hearts that bullying is unfair and cannot be tolerated. Being bigger does not give the right to bully, and the same goes for a government. Just because a government gets a majority through the first-through-the-gate principle, that does not give it the right to bully either. It must take the responsibility of representing the whole of society seriously. It must consider all points of view when making decisions, particularly when it is making fundamental change decisions.
Democracy is a participatory system, and all our views must considered. I am here to join in that democratic discussion. If democracy gets in the way of making fast decisions, so be it. The outcomes will be stronger for the discussion if the process is respected. Having a referendum in each affected municipality is a celebration of the democratic process, and the outcomes need to be taken seriously by this government. Any suggestion that they be ignored by the government will show arrogance and the bully mentality.
Please see the referendum results as binding and show that you understand the responsibility you hold in your position of power. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We have two minutes for questions from the government caucus.
Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mrs Surich, for coming before us here this morning. We find it somewhat frustrating and we appreciate that in partisan politics, positions held today may not be the positions held tomorrow. One of the Liberal members sitting before us as part of this committee today, when he ran for municipal office, called for the amalgamation of the cities.
We also have the Liberal Party at the referendum hearings going on right now, at least their representative, Ms Pupatello, stating that it is the Liberal Party position that referendums are flawed, that they are an inappropriate way, that they are an abrogation of the rights and responsibilities of MPPs. That is what they are saying in the other committee hearings, and Mr Christopherson from the NDP agreed with that. Those comments are all on the record --
Mr Sergio: That was taken out of context.
Mr Gilchrist: -- saying it was totally inappropriate to deal with municipal issues through referenda.
Mr Sergio: That was taken out of context.
Ms Churley: That's not true.
Mr Gilchrist: I guess our frustration here is that we have afforded 600 people the opportunity to come forward here and we have said that --
The Chair: Order, please.
Mr Gilchrist: -- we want to have people make specific suggestions. You mentioned as part of your address that there may be inefficiencies in how municipal governments are run. That's exactly what this bill hopes to address.
Ms Churley: Nonsense.
Mr Gilchrist: If you don't like this bill, what would you suggest is the appropriate way to deal with the duplication and the overlap in services and to deal with the fact that, for example, the city of Toronto has two and a half times as many employees per capita as the city of Scarborough, yet they each plow streets and they each mow park lawns? How would you see us dealing with that duplication and that tremendous imbalance in what it costs the taxpayers of the very cities?
Mrs Surich: I'm not equipped to make a decision on that because I don't have all those facts before me. As a citizen it is important to me to know there is a democracy going on, and that is not my perception of what is going on here.
Mr Gilchrist: If I told you there are 60 different reports that put the facts at our disposal --
Ms Churley: Speaking of bullies.
Mr Gilchrist: -- on every single aspect of municipal services --
Mrs Surich: Are you bullying me, sir?
Mr Gilchrist: I'm asking you another question.
Mr Colle: Don't bully the witness.
Mr Gilchrist: I'm asking a question --
The Chair: Order.
Mr Gilchrist: -- the way you did to Alan Tonks yesterday.
The Chair: Mr Gilchrist, order, please.
Mr Gilchrist: They've taken my time.
Mr Sergio: He's misinforming the public.
Ms Churley: You're making their case right there.
The Chair: Order.
Mr Gilchrist: If I told you there were 60 different reports --
Mr Douglas B. Ford (Etobicoke-Humber): Chair, can we get some order here?
The Chair: Order, please.
The Chair: Mr Gilchrist, Mr Sergio, Ms Churley. I would appreciate it if members of the audience and members of the committee would respect everyone's right to have an opportunity to speak. Mr Gilchrist has that opportunity just as members opposite at certain times have time to make statements.
Mr Colle: Don't let him bully the witness.
Mr Sergio: Tell him what Crombie said.
The Chair: All that being said, Mr Gilchrist, we've exceeded the 10 minutes allotted to Ms Surich.
Mr Gilchrist: Hijacked by the opposition.
The Chair: Thank you for coming forward today and making a presentation. This committee is recessed until 3:30.
The committee recessed from 1219 to 1533.
The Chair: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to our afternoon session. I think most folks in the audience this afternoon are actually different from the ones who were here this morning. I want to just remind folks that the rules of the chamber apply here in the committee.
As an impartial Chair, I am bound to uphold order, and the rules in the chamber are that there's not to be any audience outburst, whether it be clapping or any kind of shouting or so on and so forth, whether you're in favour or opposed to the presenter, whether you're in favour or opposed to the member speaking. I would ask, please, for your cooperation. I know in some cases you want to voice your feelings, but it's not appropriate to do that, and it's up to me to make sure there is order in the committee hearings. I ask for your cooperation.
Likewise to the members on both sides: I've served on committees with many of you and you're very cooperative. Members deserve and have the privilege in the Legislature to speak and to question uninterrupted. You all know that and so I hope you will also cooperate this afternoon.
The Chair: The first person to speak to us this afternoon is Barbara Czarnecki. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee. You have 10 minutes this afternoon to make your presentation. You may use that time as you see fit. If there's some time left at the end of your presentation, the question time will be allotted to Mr Colle or Mr Sergio of the Liberal Party.
Ms Barbara Czarnecki: May I ask, if there is time left over when I've made my presentation, would it be in order for me to ask a question and ask for an answer, or does it not work that way?
The Chair: You can ask a question. Whether or not it gets answered is a different story.
Ms Czarnecki: Could I direct my question to anyone or must it be Mr Colle or Mr Sergio?
The Chair: We'll see when we get there, okay? We'll see who will pick it up.
Ms Czarnecki: That's fine. I would like to tell you a little bit about my corner of Toronto and then I'll address the issue of how many politicians are too many.
I live in the St Lawrence neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. Some of you may not be familiar with it. This neighbourhood was developed by the city of Toronto in the 1970s and is now widely acknowledged to be a model for successful urban and community planning. The city took industrial wasteland south of Front Street, near the old St Lawrence Market, and turned it into mixed-tenure housing with some light industrial and commercial spaces. It has schools, parks, transit, a community centre and lots of small shops.
The building I live in, Windmill Line Co-op, is a non-profit housing cooperative. Nearby are condominiums, freehold townhouses, private non-profit buildings and municipal housing. The neighbourhood is one of the safest in the city and people from all the different types of housing work together pretty well on community issues.
From my apartment, I can see the site of Ontario's first Parliament building on Berkeley Street; it serves as a reminder to me that the "government" and "the people" are actually neighbours and fellow citizens.
A neighbourhood like St Lawrence could not be built under an amalgamated Toronto government. It's a quintessentially urban, downtown form, an example of intensification, as the architects say. It's not for everyone. No one who wants a big backyard and a two-car garage would want to live in St Lawrence. Fair enough. People who believe in the suburban model of neighbourhoods are welcome to their preference, as far as I'm concerned. I just don't want them dominating the civic government that will make decisions about the very non-suburban community where I live.
The radical change in civic culture that Bill 103 would impose, together with the financial measures in other proposed legislation, would put St Lawrence at risk. Without adequate political support for the concept that downtown cores can and should be good places to live, and with either increased property taxes or decreased services, possibly both, the downtown of Toronto would empty out at 5 pm and become an unappealing dead zone.
Since moving to St Lawrence more than 12 years ago, I've been involved in local issues from time to time. That brings me to the second point I'd like to make here, about politicians and bureaucrats. Mr Harris and Mr Leach seem convinced that politicians are the problem: There are too many of them, they are fat cats, they can't be trusted and so on. I won't dwell on the fact that they, and all of you here, are politicians too. Thus, Bill 103 would reduce the current total of municipal politicians in Toronto by more than half.
My experience in local issues has been consistently at odds with this picture. When push comes to shove, I found that the elected officials were the only ones I could rely upon to keep the unelected officials in line. The bureaucrats -- and I mean mostly senior managers, department heads and so on -- are the ones with attitude in too many cases. They have the huge salaries, they are well entrenched, they know all the ins and outs and they don't have to face the public at the polling booth. Perhaps we need to arrange special screenings for government members of that very acute British TV series, Yes, Minister, which depicts these basic phenomena of organizational politics with painful accuracy.
I think it's important to consider the politician-to-bureaucrat ratio. Cutting the number of politicians in half would mean less control over bureaucrats, unless the number of bureaucrats were cut to the same degree. I've looked at all the government documentation I could find -- and there's not much since the government hasn't released much -- but I couldn't find even an undocumented claim of anywhere near a 50% cut in bureaucrats -- hardly surprising, given that administrative costs make up only 15% of the Metro Toronto budget -- and as the committee is well aware, the great majority of studies and reports other than the government's own suggest that the bureaucracy would actually grow in a mega-Toronto.
There's a lot of talk about one fire chief instead of six, but it's either naïve or misleading to pretend that the overall reductions could be on this scale. Bureaucratic organizations just don't work like that. What we'd probably get is a structure with six chiefs, perhaps with deflated job titles for window dressing, and then one superchief. It would be like the Toronto Transit Commission where there are six general managers -- a mind-boggling concept -- and one chief general manager. The TTC culture is notorious for empire building. The chief general manager until a few years ago, incidentally, was Al Leach.
Bureaucrats of the salaried sort are one problem; unelected officials parachuted in by the provincial government are another. The potential for corruption exists in all government, at all levels and all parties. Over the years, therefore, we have built safeguards against corruption. The most important is the basic accountability flow: The unelected are accountable to the elected and the elected are accountable for the whole ball of wax to the voters who can toss them out at regular intervals.
I find the provisions of Bill 103 regarding the powers of the trustees and the transition team extremely alarming because they would nullify many of those safeguards. How would my councillor be able to keep these unelected officials in line? They would act in private and report only to the provincial minister. In fact, instead of the unelected officials reporting to councillors, in the Bill 103 model the councillors actually report to the unelected officials. The province's men would have the last word over management of my taxes when I thought I'd voted for a councillor and a mayor to handle that.
The Statutory Powers Procedure Act would not apply to the trustees or to the transition team and their decisions could not be reviewed by courts. The transition team has no fixed dissolution date. Under these conditions, I would like to know -- and this would be my question, if I'm allowed to ask it -- what safeguards would exist to protect my city and my dollars against a trustee or a transition team member hiring his friends and awarding contracts to his cronies. Is it really necessary to cage the councillors and hand their duties over to a secret club in the proverbial back room?
As you know, this is an election year in the municipalities. I want to use my vote to put good people in charge of my city full-time and I want those people to answer to me if they screw up. If Mr Leach wants the job of running Toronto, let him resign as an MPP and run for city council. In the meantime, I ask the government to withdraw Bill 103. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Mr Colle, you have just about two minutes for questions, and if you'd like Mr Gilchrist to answer that question, that's up to you.
Mr Colle: Yes. That question about the transition team is quite an interesting one and perhaps I'll allow the government to try and answer that. I think your question was, "What assurances are there that the transition team will be answerable to the people and not to the minister?"
Ms Czarnecki: My question was a little more general than that. What safeguards exist against corruption of the smoke-filled backroom variety? I'm sure there must be some, but I don't see it in the bill and I would like to know.
Mr Marchese: The trustees and/or the transition team.
Ms Czarnecki: Trustees and transition team.
Mr Gilchrist: Basically, very simply, the municipal councils will be the ones that oversee all the actual decisions. What the transition team will do as it works through the balance of the next 11 months, working together with staff from the various cities, will be to simply cobble together the most senior levels, the recommended appointments that would take effect on January 1; for example, that of the fire chief.
The new council could literally, on the first day it meets, January 2, dismiss any or all the people the transition team has put in place, but obviously, as the new council takes over, it needs to have a staff structure, and the transition team is simply there to ensure that, working with those six cities, the right fire chief or the right head of the planning staff or the right head of parks and recreation is in place.
It will also be there to oversee issues dealing with the election. Obviously that is something that has to be coordinated, as Metro does not run elections, they're run by the cities, so that will be a function that starts and ends clearly on election day.
The Chair: Will you wrap up, please, Mr Gilchrist.
Mr Gilchrist: Very simply, all the work the transition team does is recommendations, and the new council has absolute authority, literally, at its first meeting to undo any or all its decisions. So if they want to do anything untoward, it will last for a grand total of one day.
Mr Colle: If I can just have one point of clarification there, it's interesting to note that it says here in the act, "The transition team and the person shall agree on the terms of employment, and the new city is bound by the resulting employment contract."
Ms Czarnecki: Thank you, Mr Colle. That's exactly what I wanted clarified.
Mr Colle: In other words, you can imagine the cost --
Mr Gilchrist: For one day.
Mr Colle: -- of the new city council firing --
Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): It's a contract.
Mr Colle: -- or getting rid of the bureaucrats that are hired by the transition team --
Mr John L. Parker (York East): After one day's seniority, Mike.
The Chair: Order.
Mr Colle: Who's going to sign a one-day contract?
Mr Cordiano: It's absurd.
The Chair: Mr Parker, I just asked the audience and all members of the committee politely to respect each other's right to make statements, and first presenter, we have people in our own legislative committee violating that, so I prefer you to refrain --
Mr Sergio: Can I add a phrase?
The Chair: No, I think we've gone well beyond the 10 minutes. Mr Colle and Mr Gilchrist have had time to have discussions.
Thank you very much for coming forward today. I appreciate your taking the time to make the presentation.
The Chair: Would Audrey Fernie please come forward? Good afternoon, Ms Fernie. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Audrey Fernie: Good afternoon. This wasn't planned at all, but I chose as my one issue the transition team. I'll just start with a quote. Mr Gilchrist, it says the transition team "may" be dissolved on January 31. In other words, they may not be.
I have chosen to speak on one issue only, the transition team, described in article 16 of Bill 103. I direct my comments particularly to the Conservative members. The many programs coming at you have confused the issue.
Bill 103 is not about a megacity. It is not about folding seven elected governments into one. It's not even about downloading, bad as I think that is. In my opinion it's about turning over our elected government to corporate control. It's a coup. I think most of us think coups are only military and that they only happen in South America. This is a coup.
I particularly address the Conservatives because the arrogant, anti-democratic nature of the transition team appals me and I have faith that it will appal you. I believe Mr Harris and Mr Leach are ideologues with simple answers to complex questions, no believable statistics or studies to back them up, except a three-week hurried study, and they ignore three comprehensive studies.
Maybe I'm naïve, but I can't believe that all Conservatives are ideologues. Some of you must have morals and you also face re-election. Did you run on killing democracy? I beg you, on items that offend your morals, to speak out at caucus. If you aren't heard at caucus, have the courage to vote against your party on issues that offend your morals, and even cross the floor if your party is so rigid that it will not allow you to vote against a motion that is against your principles.
As well as three unelected trustees with absolute power -- and I really didn't realize anybody was above the law; I didn't think even Mr Chrétien was above the law, but apparently with the stroke of a pen these people are above the law -- we have in article 16 an appointed one-or-more transition team with absolute power which may or may not, Mr Gilchrist, be dissolved on January 31, 1998, when the new elected mayor and 44 councillors take over.
This team is above the law. Article 18 states:
"(1) The decisions of the transition team are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court.
"(2) The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply to the transition team."
The team can:
(1) Impose the amount of money the elected council can tax and spend, so if the elected council decided it must raise property taxes to sustain a program, the elected council could be overruled by the unelected team and the program would suffer. Kingston's amalgamated body has been told to cut 15% of spending.
(2) The unelected team hires and fires all bureaucrats.
(3) The unelected team decides the functions of neighbourhood committees and who will sit on them.
(4) The unelected team decides on the integration of municipal services.
(5) The unelected team can sign contracts with anyone and these contracts may not be reviewed. So we could have privatization of our water system, our hydro etc behind closed doors, even possibly the sale of utilities we've built up over the years to friends of the team.
Bill 103 is about getting control of all the cities' services. The cities' power is destroyed without public input. With these terms, could the $1-billion assets of the cities be given to the province?
The taxpayer will pay for this team. That's kind of ironic. Why are we bothering to have an election? Why are we bothering to elect a mayor and 44 councillors to take office in January 1998? The elected body may find the team has already decided everything, and the team may be dissolved on January 31, 1998, or it may stay on and make all the decisions while the elected body has been elected. Surely that's a loophole, if nothing else, that you should plug.
I ask you Conservatives, is this what you ran on, to destroy democracy? This is a coup. We always thought of coups as happening elsewhere.
Actually there were hints that Bill 103 was more than a merging of seven elected governments into one: the speed, the arrogance. I was in the House when Mr Leach was asked if he'd wait for the referendum, and he answered, "I'll have to give that deep thought -- no."
Why did you have to distribute propaganda which cost the taxpayer, not the Conservative Party, $300,000 if Bill 103 was such a good bill? When the Conservative Speaker ruled the party in contempt, I was ashamed to see every last Conservative stand on a motion in defiance of contempt. Two days later illegal faxes were sent to the board of trade in the middle of the night.
I implore each one of you to examine each item of this bill, and the transition team in particular, in light of your own morals. Speak out in caucus. Have the courage to vote against your party. I don't think you ran on dictatorship.
The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.
The Chair: Order, please. It couldn't have taken 20 minutes for everyone to have forgotten my opening request. Mr Marchese, you have three minutes.
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Ms Fernie, for your presentation. It was very thoughtful, I thought, and very well researched as well.
Mr Leach has made a statement around the issue of trustees because he's been very concerned about what people like yourself have been saying about that. On page 4 he responds to people's criticism about the whole issue of democracy being hijacked by this group. He says: "In response to that, I'd like to quote from an editorial I read just last week in the Ottawa Citizen" -- which obviously he concurs with -- "`Far from being undemocratic' the editorial said that the appointment of trustees was a `critical safeguard' for democracy."
Ms Fernie: First of all, I don't get my information from newspapers. Secondly, I wonder whether we're going to have a Ernst and Young. Actually, I understood the three trustees were different from the transition team.
Mr Marchese: Yes.
Ms Fernie: It's the transition team I'm concerned about. I didn't know about that until Monday night and I didn't hear anybody in the Legislature even mention it until after Mr Sewell mentioned it Monday night. I think it's a separate item. Am I wrong?
Mr Marchese: It is.
Ms Fernie: It is a separate item.
Mr Marchese: I think you've answered it in your presentation, but some of us are appalled by that kind of statement.
Ms Fernie: Yes, I know. I don't consider that a good answer.
Mr Marchese: The fact that these trustees are beyond the law is an incredible thing. How they can say it safeguards democracy when their decisions are above the law, not to be scrutinized and/or adjudicated by any body other than themselves, I think is terribly undemocratic.
Ms Fernie: I was prepared for a fight on privatization, but now it may just happen behind closed doors. The privatization of the water system in England is an absolute disaster. I welcome any comment from the Conservatives because you have the majority in the House and you can do what you want to do. Do you really think there's a point where you morally might think something is wrong?
The Chair: Are you finished, Mr Marchese?
Mr Marchese: Is there more time?
The Chair: You still have about 45 seconds.
Mr Marchese: The government says that right now 72% of Metro's services are already consolidated. I think the system has been working very well between our cities and what is handled by the Metro government. He says what we need to do to make it better is to consolidate it completely and take over the 28%.
Ms Fernie: I don't see why that can't be done. It's too bad they did it too late, nevertheless Toronto has agreed to take one group and another group is taking water treatment. I don't know why that can't be done without all this confusion. Let's wait a year and see if it works.
Mr Marchese: Sure, but what they want with that other 28% is to take over all the cities. They've got 72%, so they're saying: "What we need to do now is control the rest of the 28% and it'll be complete. Everybody will be happy in Metro and we'll be stronger, not weaker." Do you agree with that?
Ms Fernie: No, not at all. I won't be happier; I can only speak for myself.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Fernie, for coming forward and making your presentation this afternoon.
The Chair: Would Graham Harley please come forward. Welcome, sir.
Mr Graham Harley: Thank you, Mr Maves, and thank you to those members who ensured that these hearings would be held. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to speak.
At about the time I first came to Toronto in the early 1970s on what I thought at the time would be a temporary basis, Mr David Crombie was running for mayor of the city of Toronto. One of the chief proposals in his program was the preservation of older city neighbourhoods against the encroachment of wide-scale development, together with various height and mixed-use requirements for new construction.
This plan was specifically designed to prevent the downtown core from sinking into that pit of urban decay all too well known from so many American examples by encouraging the future growth of downtown business, residency and culture. There was much dismissive talk from his opponents of pandering to a fear of change.
Mr Crombie won that election. With remarkable civic sense and sensibility, the voters of Toronto had had a unique vision of their future and chose, long before other cities followed their example, to merge, or entangle if you wish, the past, the present and the future.
I mention this election not only because it was the extraordinary response of the citizens of Toronto, their passionate pride in their city and determination to preserve and nourish it that first sparked in me a love of Toronto which has grown exponentially over the years, but also because it showed an enlightened recognition of what is important in the daily lives of citizens: their neighbourhoods, their environment, the almost muscular sensation of living in a particular ambiance that you help to define and in some ways helps to define you, of being a member of a civic society that actually cares about its citizens and has the mechanisms in place to realize that care.
It also demonstrated that the act of preserving what is fine and distinctive from the past in no way implies any fear of the future or resistance to change. That election was one of the most important steps towards the creation of a contemporary Toronto, a city widely praised by disparate organizations as the best place in the world in which to live. But when voices are now raised in Toronto against the current Bill 103, which promises fair to destroy so much of what that election set in motion, it is the standard dismissive response of its defenders, "You're just frightened of change," they say, as if change, any change however flimsily thought out and hurriedly rammed through, were ipso facto a good thing, and as if opposition to this change were synonymous with opposition to all change. How passé.
What many, many citizens of Toronto are opposed to is not change -- there's always opportunity for that -- but destruction: destruction of identity, destruction of services, destruction of representation, destruction of many of the things that make this city so brilliantly unique. In the absence of any reasoned defence or explanation of this bill on the part of the government -- merely vague and unsupported platitudes about making a city that is already fiscally responsible fiscally responsible -- and in light of the downloading of the service delivery, of course there is a growing distrust of why this bill is being proposed.
You've already heard and will continue to hear many more times the litany of objections that concerned citizens have, but that is your particular hell, and it reflects the fact that these objections are real, considered and deeply felt. These are some of mine. I had a top 10 list, but there's only time for a few.
(6) Not only is there no guarantee that the amalgamation of the municipalities will save money, the virtual certainty, on the experience of other cities, is that it will cost a great deal more. Coupled with the tactic of downloading soft services on to municipalities, the city of Toronto in particular will be, and I quote, "devastated." Yet the government hypocritically continues to insist that its motives are financial and that it has the best interests of Toronto at heart. Why should anybody who lives in Toronto ever trust such an analysis, and why would anybody who represents a Toronto riding ever support it?
(5) Mr Harris, speaking to the Ontario taxpayers' association in the last election campaign, assured them that local municipalities should not be eliminated and that any issue about the transfer of responsibilities to regional governments should be decided by a binding referendum. Not only was the creation of a megacity not included in the Common Sense Revolution platform, and therefore not discussed or voted on, but the leaders of the Conservative Party were at that time actively espousing the preservation of local governments. There is clearly no mandate from the people for this bill.
(4) Every study on this issue, with the exception of the three commissioned by the government, either has not recommended or has warned against amalgamation of this nature. You know this, we know this, the government knows this. Question: Are they fools, are they knaves or do they have a hidden agenda? To service more than half a million people or so, administrative bureaucracy has to increase in order to cope with the demand. Therefore, costs go up and the operation becomes decreasingly economic. A city of 2.3 million people, larger in population than all but three of Canada's other provinces, will inevitably require a considerable bureaucracy. Any money saved on elected officials' salaries is likely to be devoted to the salaries of unelected bureaucrats: a lose-lose situation which denies the citizenry access to decision-making while contradicting the government's stated purpose of cutting down on bureaucracy.
(3) The government refuses even the opportunity to listen to the views of the very citizens whose lives will be most radically affected by this legislation through the various referenda to be held by the municipalities. This is as staggeringly offensive as it is resoundingly obtuse. The Premier himself is on record as saying that such issues should be decided by binding referenda. Municipalities in other areas of the province have been accorded this courtesy and the legislation that allows it has been introduced by this very government.
(2) Municipal councillors are elected representatives of the people at the most immediate, accessible and comparatively non-partisan level. By savagely reducing their numbers and having them serve vastly more constituents than they do now, the bill will strip the citizens of Toronto of access and of their influence on decision-making, influence that will increasingly be gathered in the hands of bureaucrats and party political nominees, who in turn, because of the increased costs of electioneering, are likely to become spokespeople for vested interests.
(1) The indefensible appointment, pace Mr Gilchrist, of three trustees to oversee financial dealings of elected officials; the refusal to allow access to them by members of the public or even the press, while having their undeclared salaries paid for by Metro taxpayers; the failure of the bill to define the terms of their employment or the limits of their powers and responsibilities; the granting of similar powers to the so-called transition team; the prohibition of any challenge to the activities of either group in a court of law: All these provisions smack unmistakably of the old-fashioned extremist regimes of eastern Europe or South America or Asia. An inevitable, a sad, ultimately a revolting analogy, but then revolution is so often followed by a tyranny.
How could the government ever have come up with this bill? Could it be that they just don't care about Toronto, still less the future of their Toronto MPPs? But even if for some petty reasons they don't, isn't it suicidal to destroy the most important city in the province and a city that ostentatiously works? Is it revenge for real or imagined slights? Surely too petty a reason for any political action, particularly of this magnitude. Maybe, just maybe, they want to milk the cash cow and give it away -- cash and cow -- in tax breaks to people who are likely to spend them in Florida.
I urge the government members here to ask themselves whether if this were a bill proposed by another political party, they would not in all honesty, in that dark night of the soul when it is always 3 o'clock in the morning, be as puzzled, as furious and as outraged at its provisions and methodology as are most of the people who come here to testify before this committee.
A final analogy: Recently, the famous golden spruce tree in British Columbia was meaninglessly and cruelly cut down at night by a chainsaw-wielding ideologue. This tree, unique in its genetic structure and its golden beauty, has been known even to white men for over 100 years, was sacred to the Haida Indians, and has been a source of wonder to many a tourist. Fortunately, through a speedy alliance of community groups, environmentalists and business concerns, there is hope that the tree's unique DNA can be harvested and used to regenerate it. Even then it will of course take many decades before the tree can return to its former glory.
The government of Ontario is holding a chainsaw to Toronto. I urge this committee to recommend the withdrawal of Bill 103 before the massacre starts. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Harley.
The Chair: Order, please, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming forward this afternoon and making your presentation.
The Chair: Would Helen McNeill please come forward. Good afternoon. I know you've been here and you know of your 10-minute allotment today.
Ms Helen McNeill: Good afternoon. I'm going to have to squeeze it to get 10 minutes in. My name is Helen McNeill. I was born in the city of Toronto and I am pleased to say I'm still a resident. Thank you for this opportunity to voice my views and concerns.
Let me begin by saying I'm not against change. In fact, I was one of those in the city of Toronto in November 1994 who voted to eliminate the Metro level of government. We then said clearly we need change and we need simplified government. We voted to start the process by removing the Metro level of government. This was a reasonable approach and one that made sense. Bill 103 makes no sense. It makes no sense because of the widespread havoc it will wreak upon 2.3 million people. The inordinate amount of anger, confusion and expense sparked by Bill 103 does not augur for a smooth transition.
Time does not permit to address both democratic process and Bill 103, so I will confine my remarks to Bill 103. I have to admit I had to read it three times before I finally made a connection. It was only when I read it for the third time and I decided to focus on the intent of the bill that I made the connection.
The two points that had to be connected in my mind were the procedures described in Bill 103 were very similar to those procedures used in a corporate merger or bankruptcy. The first step taken is that of financial control. Then the power and control vested in two appointed bodies, the board of trustees and the transition team, created by Bill 103 are enormous and staggering.
Municipal government is not about things; it's about people. Governance at any level is supposed to be for the people and by the people. Our history is that people have made decisions about major changes that affect them, not corporations, not bureaucrats and not politicians.
Having said that, I have concluded the intent of Bill 103 is something different than what the government would have me believe. Bill 103, in my opinion, is not about savings, efficiency and accountability but rather about control. As I understand Bill 103, it gives Mr Leach complete control of the province's largest realty tax base and gives him the power to manipulate that base. This investment of control and power in one individual is both unacceptable and dangerous.
I looked at the different components in Bill 103 and I look at them as (1) process and functions; (2) duties and responsibilities; (3) elections; (4) regulations and other matters. That's the way I kind of grouped them in my brain.
Under process and functions, Bill 103 puts the following processes in place: dissolves six municipalities; establishes one council; redefines boundaries; establishes a board of trustees and a transition team. I'm still trying to sort out how the government's mandate to cut the size of government translates into overlooking due process.
How can the stroke of a pen, namely, clauses 27(1) and (2), dissolve something that took a vote to establish it in the first place? I suppose the swift answer is that it is legal, but does that make it right? Are we, the people, chattels of the state? Where procedures are in place to deal with the above processes, such as dissolving municipalities and redefining boundaries, then I believe it is my right to be advised when the procedure is being circumvented, changed or altered.
I will now move into the area that I call duties and responsibilities. I'm going to address the board of trustees first.
The Chair: Just one second. I'll tack on some extra time for you. Could the clerks at the back ask the people in the hall to take their conversations away? It's quite distracting. Thank you. Go ahead. I'm sorry, Ms McNeill.
Ms McNeill: It's okay. Clauses 9 to 15 apply to the board of trustees. I find the power and control vested in the board of trustees offensive and beyond credibility.
Clause 9(2): By virtue of this clause, the board has the power to run up incredible costs, hire staff, enter into contracts which are binding to the new city.
Clause 9(12) reads, "The decisions of the...trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court."
Clause 9(4)(e): The board of trustees shall "report to the minister at his or her request."
When I look at the combination of these powers, I shudder at clause 9(12). These people are above the courts. The duplication and costs which will be incurred -- and again, I have to say, who is accountable? Where is the open and democratic process?
Clause 9(10), still pertaining to the board of trustees, says, "On or after January 31, 1998, the minister may, by order, dissolve the board of trustees." Well, I'm sorry, the word "may" also implies "may not." It is conceivable that the board of trustees may continue forever if the minister invokes clauses 9(4)(g), 14(2) and 24(1)(e)(i).
Now I'll look at the area of transition team, clauses that apply to their responsibilities, clauses 16 to 21. I find the power and control vested in the transition team even more offensive than in the above.
Clause 16(4) states, "The transition team shall...consider whether restrictions should be imposed on the amounts the new city may raise and the amounts the new city and its local boards may spend in any year...."
Again, clause 16(12): "The minister may" -- or may not, in my understanding -- "...dissolve the transition team" after January 31.
My interpretation of the above combined two clauses is this: The government will control the budget for 1997 and quite probably until the next provincial election, simply by invoking clauses 16(4)(g) and (24)(1)(e)(i). The impression could be that the government is doing such a good job of controlling expenses, when in fact what could be going on is good old manipulation, and according to clause 18(1) "The decisions of the transition team are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." I ask you, members of the government, is this control or a takeover by the government in the most subtle of forms?
Clause 16(4)(c) reads that the transition team shall "establish the new city's basic organizational structure," and 16(4)(d), the transition team shall "hire...department heads and other employees as the transition team considers necessary to ensure the good management of the new city." What's wrong with what we've got now? It's working very well.
Then again, for the transition team, the decisions of this team are final and shall not be reviewed by the court. When I read all these clauses and put them together, I have to ask you the same question again, is this control? Where is the open and democratic dialogue, or is it a government takeover?
I found one clause, clause 5, that addresses council and it reads -- this is under duties and responsibilities -- "The city...shall, by bylaw, establish neighbourhood committees and determine their functions." Then I go on and I find that clause 16(4)(e)(i) reads that the transition team shall hold public consultations on "the functions to be assigned to neighbourhood committees and the method of choosing their members." I think this says it all.
My question is, why are we pretending the new council will have any powers other than those dealing with the civic matters, and the very smallest ones at that. The heart of any municipality is the budget. This raises the question, why are we going through the charade of having the charade and expense of municipal elections?
The followings points pertain to elections, and my first question is, what's the hurry?
In his speech to the board of trade on December 17, 1996, Mr Leach said, and I quote, "Restructuring must be in place for the 1997 municipal elections or it just won't happen."
My question is, what won't happen? What is "it"? If Bill 103 is just the beginning of things to come, I think it would be a very good thing not to happen.
But in addition, Mr Leach's statement is not true. I understand that in 1995 Toronto had done some preliminary work on the dissolution of Metro. Why was that work not supported by the government? Were the Toronto recommendations not part of the government's agenda? I ask again and again, why the sudden urgency?
Because I can't get any answers, I've concluded the "it" is about taking control of the capital and expense budgets in the Metro area. I think this is how the $1-billion fund will be established. Remember, until mega-week the people of Metro were still being told Bill 103 was about amalgamation.
Again, what's the hurry? The government has chosen to ignore the request to slow down, so I conclude the elections must happen in a hurry so the government can tell us we gave them the mandate to take over the responsibility for municipal finances. In all probability we will also be told we gave them the mandate to proceed with mega-dump.
Under the area of regulations and other matters --
The Chair: Ms McNeill, I apologize for interrupting. We're at 11 1/2 minutes. I tacked on some time for you.
Ms McNeill: I'm sorry. What I'd like to say can't wait, and if I can't say it here, where am I going to say it?
The Chair: The members all have --
Ms McNeill: Just let me --
The Chair: -- your brief and they can read it. To be fair to all the people who are --
Ms McNeill: I'll ask somebody if they'll give up their time.
The Chair: To be fair to everyone else --
The Chair: Maybe that person can finish reading it for you. That's up to him, but I have to --
The Chair: This was agreed upon.
Ms McNeill: Okay, I'll finish in one minute.
The Chair: No.
Ms McNeill: Just a minute, you've got to hear me.
It is an affront and an insult to suggest anyone would offer amendments to this document which so blatantly undermines the very values on which open and democratic societies depend.
Bill 103 writes the end of democracy at the municipal level, not only for Metro Toronto but for every municipality in the province of Ontario.
The responsibility to stop this tragedy lies with this standing committee. I urge each member of this committee to re-read Bill 103 and try to read it through my eyes.
There is only one answer, even if it means some members of the government will have to cross the floor of the House. This will take courage and it will reflect integrity.
Who in this province would not vote for a candidate who stands for principle and truth?
The Chair: Mrs McNeill, that's well beyond any allotted time. In fairness to everyone who comes after you, whether they're for or against the bill, we're selected for 10 minutes.
The Chair: Would Melvin Zimmerman come forward, please? Go ahead, sir.
Mr Melvin Zimmerman: J'accuse. I accuse this government of laying the way open to extortion.
J'accuse. I accuse this government of contempt of court.
J'accuse. And finally, I accuse them of treason.
J'accuse. With these words Émile Zola a century ago began a fight for truth, justice and freedom known to the world as the Dreyfus affair. Ultimately, the French government had to retreat, and it was compelled to liberate and vindicate Captain Dreyfus. That government had charged him with treason, but finally it revealed itself to be treasonous.
With this precedent in mind, I will now demonstrate the reasons I have for making these three charges in regard to Bill 103.
The minister, under section 24, and the two bodies, the board of trustees and the transition team, sections 9 and 16 respectively, who report solely to the minister, would have full budgetary powers over the present six or seven municipalities.
I, as a citizen, as a taxpayer, would have no access to members of the board of trustees or the transition team, nor would members of the press. And they would meet with their boss in closed session. Notice, I'm saying they would and I'm not saying will or shall.
They would have the power to transfer moneys, perhaps $2 billion, from these cities to the coffers of the province. This would in my opinion be unlawful, but if Bill 103 becomes law nothing could be done about it, presumably.
What? Nothing? asked one of my students. I'm a professor at York University. Today one of my students asked me that. What? Nothing? What about judicial review? Good student. You have apparently closed that door by section 12, "Decisions final, no judicial review."
I believe that you are preparing to illegally transfer huge amounts of public funds from Metro's reserve funds, for example, and others, to your provincial funds so that you may deliver a tax reduction to those in Ontario who least need it. This would in my opinion be collective extortion. That was charge number one.
My second charge to you is that the framers and executors of Bill 103 are already in contempt of the entire judicial system of our province or country. In all societies that call themselves democratic, the legislative branch has constitutional limits to its legislation. Every school child knows them as checks and balances. How dare you diss the courts of our land by writing in section 12(1) "The decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court"?
Mr Leach, have you learned nothing from the Speaker's ruling of prima facie contempt of the Legislative Assembly, the brochure incident, number one; plus, number two, the repetition in the incident of the faxes?
Now you are adding insult to injury by your scorn for the judiciary. I think you ought to beware the judiciary. Jamais deux sans trois, as they say in French. Anybody forbidding judicial review in my view is suspect, as they appear to fear it. There would be no other reason for it.
Which brings me to my last charge, treason. Is it not reasonable to call treasonable any action or call for action that usurps powers citizens gave to their elected officials? By cutting short mayors' and councillors' terms of office and their budgetary powers, even while they are in office, which the people of Metro gave them in sacred trust, you are in my view attempting to foist upon us a dictatorial regime. You would have us believe that our only option is to submit, as referenda are futile, not binding. Not true.
Our city, which you call the old municipalities, we love because they are cities that care. Your city, the so-called new city, is one I predict will be stillborn. It is condemned for the same reason God condemned Sodom, because its prosperous inhabitants closed their doors to those who, shivering in the cold, asked for hospitality. Read the Bible again; you'll see that's what Sodom is about, not so much about the sexual orgies. That was the real reason, as I learned in a sermon recently.
Your Bill 103 is doomed. It may well be called, by Ontarians of the future, the bill of Sodom.
The Chair: Mr Zimmerman --
Mr Zimmerman: I didn't use my 10 minutes and you could have afforded the previous speaker --
The Chair: -- would you --
Mr Zimmerman: Excuse me, I still have a few more minutes. This is a criticism of the Chair. I think it was unwise and you could have been a little more courteous. I gave up a few of my minutes and I knew that she could have said her piece in dignity. Thank you very much.
The Chair: We did have over 12 minutes from the last presenter.
Mr Zimmerman, there are a few minutes left in your presentation. Would you care to entertain some questions?
Mr Zimmerman: Of course. Any reactions or questions.
Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): In 1953 Metro was first formed. I see this bill to a large degree as a natural progression for a great city. In 1967 we went from 13 municipalities down to six again. Do you have any comments on that?
Mr Zimmerman: There was some trouble with the mike and I was distracted. Would you please repeat your question?
Mr Young: In 1953 Metro was first formed and in 1967 the six cities were formed again. I see this bill as a natural transition for a great city and I'm thinking, if everyone had felt the same way you do during the last four decades, we'd probably still have 30 municipalities here with 30 mayors and all the additional costs. Do you have any comments on that?
Mr Zimmerman: Yes, my comment is this: I find it odd that I'm making my plea in this Legislature. We have federal elections, we have provincial elections and we have municipal elections. These three each are proper to the problems -- a citizen, when he makes determinations about what his city should be like, what his country should be like, what his province should be like, puts on a different hat and thinks differently.
We can do our own evolving and we have done our own evolving. You are using a bill that is archaic. It is presumably legal. It goes back to the 19th century and it gives you responsibility. But that word "responsibility" I think is a sacred word and you are using the word "responsibility" as though it were the word "power" to effect the change. I am not against change but I am against the method and even the ones who are doing the change. Even if this were an entirely different bill and even if you had taken a lot of time to consult the people involved, even if you had got reports and really debated this in a democratic way and the bill were very different, I still would find that bill that gives you responsibility for us, when you have so much provincial business anyhow, unseemly.
To finally answer your question, we have evolved and we have made changes ourselves over those years without anybody's help.
The Chair: That has exhausted the time. Thank you, Mr Zimmerman, for coming forward and making your presentation today.
KAREN DAVIES BUCK
The Chair: Would Karen Davies Buck please come forward. Good afternoon.
Mrs Karen Davies Buck: Good afternoon. Chair Maves and members of the committee, thank you for allowing me the time to make this presentation. For me, Bill 103 has raised serious concerns about the direction, planning ability and democratic intent of this government. If this government wanted less government and fewer costs, it should have entered into a process of mediation with the governments of the Metro area. After all, if mediation will save tax money in the courts of Ontario, should it not also save tax money in the governments of Ontario? Mediation could perhaps have avoided the confrontation that is now taking place.
Robert Farquharson, a deputant in your first round of deputations, echoed my concern around government spending. Why has the province spent $50,000 on a fax campaign selling amalgamation, another $100,000 on a study to support it and $300,000 on a promotional pamphlet that landed Municipal Affairs Minister Al Leach in contempt of the Legislature?
To this I would add, why is this government now spending even more of the public tax dollars on TV advertisements? These expenditures don't include or take into account the expenditures the Ontario government's actions have created in counter-reactions at the municipal level. Amalgamation of the cities is a serious government matter that should not be reduced to a public relations campaign.
Let me now tell you what I think about Bill 103. Although the government of Ontario is saying, "Less government at less cost to taxpayers," Bill 103 is not saying this to me. What Bill 103 is saying is that instead of pursuing a democratic and open forum to forge the new megacity, this government prefers to appoint a board of trustees to oversee Toronto municipal governments. This is more government, not less, and for how long? The dissolution of this board of trustees is left very much up in the air by Bill 103, which states in subsection 9(10), "On or after January 31, 1998 the minister may, by order, dissolve the board of trustees." Bill 103, by saying "may," is certainly lacking definite time lines.
Bill 103 lacks democratic principles. The board of trustees is created as a body corporate. Under clause 9(5)(b), "The board of trustees...may establish and publish guidelines with respect to" all clauses in section 10. It is the words "may establish" and "may publish" that are of concern here. This process lacks full disclosure.
Subsection 12(1) states, "The decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court." This is totally unacceptable and not in the spirit of democracy in action. This is a mini-dictatorship forging a megacity until the next mini-dictatorship, in the form of the transition team, takes over and carries on.
Bill 103 is indefinite in its description of the dissolution of the transition team. Under subsection 16(12) it is stated that "On or after January 31, 1998 the minister may," -- not "will" but "may" -- "by order, dissolve the transition team." This creates concern. Maybe things are going to take longer than they actually think.
Bill 103, in my opinion, is creating more government, not less, and of course both the board of trustees and the transition team will require tax money to exist. Bill 103 is very explicit in describing the source of this tax money; it is to be provided by the old municipalities and then the new municipality. "The members of the board of trustees shall be paid the remuneration fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and the reasonable expenses incurred in the course of their duties under this act." Another statement about their finances: "The transition team may hire staff, arrange for facilities and obtain expert services as it considers necessary to perform its functions." Another statement or clause: "The transition team may require that an employee of an old municipality or of its local board be seconded to work for the transition team."
Bill 103 ensures more government and more costs. What happened to common sense and mediation to bring about change? Instead of Bill 103 and its in-your-face, imposed governance, its undefined time lines and undetermined costs, the Ontario government should be proceeding in staged increments of change. To achieve less government, this Ontario government should seriously consider replacement of the Metropolitan Toronto government with, for example, service boards or elected commissioners where they make sense. The TTC and the Metropolitan police might be considered as successful Metropolitan Toronto models.
Bill 103 dissolves the hydro-electric utilities commission of each of the old municipalities to form them into the new Toronto hydro-electric commission. Maybe in this one respect Bill 103 has some merit. The Ontario government could lead with this change to show the residents of the Metropolitan Toronto area how efficiencies of scale can result in less administration and lower costs. The flip side, however, is that many city commissions are already achieving efficiencies and economies that maybe cannot be surpassed.
The extra layer of political decision-making at the Metro level can be eliminated. In my experience, it has in many cases ignored local community needs and interfered with the political decisions made by local councils. Lawsuits and controversy between local municipal governments and the Metropolitan government have cost us a lot. I thought the Metropolitan government was there merely to look after the affairs in a very efficient, cost-effective way for the local municipalities, but it hasn't done that; it's become another political decision-making entity.
Toronto, the megacity, could indeed see a reduction in the numbers of political positions, but would it really reduce costs? I don't think so. Politicians with twice as many constituents as they have now, with too many responsibilities and with too little time would soon vote themselves larger salaries commensurate with their increased responsibilities, would surround themselves with increased personnel and would require greater expense accounts. With politicians further removed from people and their neighbourhoods, Toronto, the megacity, would become a place where we would rather not be.
For the Ontario government, mired in debt, to attack the municipal governments that achieve balanced budgets is unreasonable. I believe this Ontario government must work with the municipalities. As one deputant on Monday pointed out, the province need only reduce its transfer payments to municipalities to start the province on the road to fiscal responsibility. I would like to see this government working with my tax dollars, and everybody else's, in concert with local municipal governments to resolve existing problems, as it is the local municipal governments that may understand these problems best.
In conclusion, I do not support the new Toronto, the megacity. Toronto, for both myself and my family, has always been a community of neighbourhoods. Do not destroy this wonderful Toronto for the new megacity. If the model is American cities, no thank you. If the model is New Zealand and its amalgamations, no thank you. I believe it is our neighbourhoods and our local governments that serve us well and that have made Toronto a model for the rest of the world. Toronto is unique, it is cosmopolitan and it is world-recognized, and more than all that, Toronto as a city is a great place in which we live. We should all be working together to keep it that way.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Buck. You have exhausted your 10 minutes. I want to thank you for coming forward today and making your presentation.
The Chair: Is David Kidd here? Welcome to the committee, Mr Kidd.
Mr David Kidd: Thank you for having me here today. I'm here to talk of the proposed Bill 103. I was born in the city of Toronto and have lived here and raised a family here. I have worked here for almost 30 years at a variety of jobs in Toronto, Scarborough and Etobicoke.
I have with me a number of notes; I will supply the committee with a copy of my comments at a later date. I would like to look at this proposed bill from the aspects of credibility, service delivery and jobs, and I will finish with a number of recommendations.
Bill 103 is a Trojan Horse around two key issues: It's the downloading of costs to the municipal level of government, and it assists in the increased privatization of all aspects of everyday life. Others have probably talked to you already about the issue of governance, and I will refer to that in small ways, but I mainly want to speak to you on the delivery and provision of services and the decent jobs that public services provide.
Bill 103 and the minister responsible for bringing this bill forward have promised to provide better local accountability to the delivery of services and to do more with less. But the bill is another example of governance by a vision where cost-cutting and deregulation are seen as goals in themselves, where people who don't believe in taxes or laws or public services have become elected, and they've asked some accountants and financial managers to come in to review all aspects of their purview. This is not what people voted for nor what they live in this province for.
People are overwhelmed these days just trying to survive difficult economic times. More and more families have two and three wage earners to make things meet. More and more wage earners have two or three jobs, as part-time jobs are the only positions available. But people want better; they don't want less.
First, let's talk credibility. I would like to ask the members of the committee, would you trust the amalgamation of municipal services such as public health, water purification or libraries to the same people who brought you the amalgamation of the family support plan in Ontario? Do the families that have lost loved ones to unsafe vehicles on Ontario's highways in the last two years feel assured that this provincial government can deliver improved fire safety and building code standards, among other things?
How can this government keep a straight face when it promises to deliver better services when the Minister of Community and Social Services stated just this week that she is having consultations regarding the moneys that were promised last May for improved children's programs? And she is doing consultations, something that has only been happening on this bill after a lot of public pressure.
Of course in the election we heard promises, and in the hockey rink ads the Premier continues to promise, that health care will not be touched, but not a day goes by, not a minute goes by that bed closures are not going on. Waiting lists are getting longer, and a two-tier system is being created as we speak.
The cities of our region are known not just for their architecture or their neighbours or their attractions or their culture; they are also known for the particular services provided. People in the six cities have voted for and supported free public-supported services for years, where economies of scale are used to provide affordable, accountable services.
The city of Toronto and others are known for their public libraries, public health department, parks and recreation programs, their support of trees, enforcement, animal control programs and projects to restore such things as rivers and bicycle lands. But this bill is about cost-cutting and taking away public discussion about the delivery of services.
Bill 103 on its own gives enormous powers to a non-elected body of three trustees and then, at a later date, an appointed transition team to decide on the future delivery of services. With the inclusion of the announcements to download social assistance, social housing, public health and transit, among other things, this sets the agenda of the trustees and the transition team. With fiscal limitations already placed on municipalities in law, this body will simply represent a cost-cutting body. They will be known as the slash-and-burn brigade.
The services that the six cities are noted for will be reduced -- no question -- and short-term financial savings will lead to privatization, reducing further the accountability of local service delivery. I don't know if any of you have ever tried to phone one of the private waste disposal firms if you've had a difficulty in getting your garbage picked up, or if you've tried to contact any of the contracted-out services, if you've had a difficulty with your meter reading, your service at your local community centre. This is also going to create a bigger level of government, which will make it much more difficult to reach that group to make any kind of comment on your service delivery. That's one of the reasons the businesses of Chinatown East in the city of Toronto have come out against amalgamation. They are confident in and feel they get a responsive waste disposal program now. The new bill does not guarantee them this.
It's known, and studies have shown, that private sector service jobs pay less, increasing the number of workers who are already in precarious employment. Just in November 1996, we finally have gotten back to the employment levels in the GTA of November 1989, when this recession started. The difference now, though, is that there is two and a half times the official unemployed in the GTA region, and now when they talk about job creation, let's be clear, three out of five jobs advertised as job creation are part-time jobs. Privatization of services will only lead to increased part-time work, contract work, and will make it much more difficult for workers in our economy, workers in our community.
It is ironic that oftentimes in marketing Toronto, the Forbes article and others are commented on as naming us number one in terms of quality of life. That's what they did: They identified Toronto as number one in terms of quality of life. I would like to ask the committee, did the infamous KPMG study look at how Bill 103 will impact on the quality of life in the Toronto region? Just the cost-cutting is not good enough. What makes Toronto a livable, wonderful community to live in is its quality of life, and it's something that leads to economic growth as well.
At this point, I would like to move on to some recommendations. I want to at least get on to that. My first recommendation would be to downsize Bill 103, which means to eliminate it, restructure it, whatever term you want to use.
As my second recommendation, I would like this committee to respect what President Milosevic of Serbia has finally recognized, the will of the people, and recognize the vote that takes place in the referendums that will be conducted between now and March 3.
In terms of a vision, I reject -- the mayors of the four municipalities came up with a plan, and that is not required. What is required is first of all to establish, what are the sizes of municipalities that need to be established in our region? That's something that only the people of the six municipalities can decide. We will then require, as has been said by report after report after report, whether you live in the city of Toronto or Etobicoke or Halton, a second tier of government, a second tier of government that will lead to an assistance in delivery of services over the wider region, and that also has to be established.
Going to the amalgamation of six municipalities and one Metro region into one is not the way to go. You are foisting, as other people have said, a dictatorship on us. It is basically a very Tory coup. I for one reject this bill, and I can only say that as strongly as I can.
Mr Colle: Thank you, Mr Kidd. You mentioned Halton. In terms of the uneven treatment of Toronto, certainly the disparity in treatment of Metro, as you know, this government has basically said that in Halton region there will be three levels of government -- they're going to maintain the local, the regional, and they're creating this new GTA level, so three levels -- and they've given those 905 areas an unlimited number of years to work out how they want to be governed locally, but here in Metro they've said, "We have decided we're not going to listen and you're to have the megacity, no time, no alternatives, take it or leave it." How do you react to that as a citizen?
Mr Kidd: I totally reject that. It's hypocrisy in the ultimate sense. Also, as a government committed to so-called elimination of red tape, they are now going to have three levels of government over there.
Here's something: A predecessor of this government actually created something called the GO train, the government of Ontario railway, and now of course we're going to call it the Hamilton-Oshawa, the HO train. Of course it has been reduced for our benefit and not for the rest of the people of Ontario.
You would think Halton and other parts of Ontario would like to have amalgamation of services so we can all benefit. That's what we need: a two-tier system throughout the entire region. We also need to have the same amount of time as that given the 905 region to decide on our future, not only in terms of our governance but in terms of delivery of our services.
The Chair: Thank you for coming forward and making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Lee Weston please come forward. Good afternoon. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation today.
Mr Lee Weston: In order that I might plan my time properly, I would like to ask a question at the beginning of this that may or may not have been asked. I would like to address the KPMG report, An Estimate for Potential Savings and Costs from the Creation of a Single Tier Local Government for Toronto. One of the difficulties I had in doing that is that the report in its introduction states it is based on some confidential reports. I was wondering if someone would be prepared to answer whether this committee is privileged to those confidential reports. If not, I will change the focus of my talk.
Mr Gilchrist: I'm not aware of that reference. The KPMG report was prepared based on the financial information returns for the years 1993, 1994 and 1995 and published budget material for 1996 from the seven municipalities, all of which are public documents available from the city halls themselves or the Queen's Park library. The only other things they may have had were working papers dealing with certain other amalgamations in process right now, for example, Hamilton-Wentworth, where there is a proposal to amalgamate that region into one city. I know there are internal working papers that the cities themselves have put together that I don't believe the cities have published yet.
Mr Weston: Thank you.
"The utter want of municipal institutions giving the people any control over their local affairs may indeed be considered one of the main causes of the failure of representative government and of the bad administration of the country."
That was in the Durham report, 1839, on the Mackenzie and Papineau rebellions. It sort of puts into context how important what we're looking at is: two of the most important and shattering rebellions in our history. We have had very few. It indicates that in terms of what we consider here as municipal institutions, the importance goes beyond whether we are saving 2% or 6%. It has to work. If it doesn't work, the ramifications can be very bad. They will make people's lives miserable and we have quite strong precedents that they can be very damaging to the country as a whole. I follow that up with some references from the UN and from Fortune magazine that you've probably heard several times. What it shows is that we've gone in Toronto from a city which was so bad that there was a revolt to being recognized internationally as one of the best cities in the world.
It seems very strange to me that I'm speaking to a government, currently a Progressive Conservative government, and saying that I believe in capitalism, I believe in competition and I believe public review improves results. I believe the reason we have been so successful is that the six cities compete with each other. I think each mayor wants to be the mayor of the best city in Metro. No mayor wants to be seen as mayor of a loser city. They're very easy to compare. We live right next to each other.
We're also in a situation where we don't have other models to follow very well. Ask anyone who lives in downtown Toronto if they would like Metro to be like an American city and you very quickly get a no. And we can't really copy European cities and there are no other Canadian cities to copy, so for our competition we compete with ourselves. The current government has spoken quite a bit about the importance of competition in private industry. Competition in public affairs is also important.
The Premier has criticized having a three-tier road system: Metro roads, provincial roads and city roads. I support the fact that there are three tiers of government taking care of my interests. Roads which are a Metro affair tend to be roads which affect the traffic flow between the cities. Roads which are a provincial affair tend to be roads which affect a greater area than Metro. Roads which no one who doesn't live in that city really has a great interest in are taken care of at a city level. The idea that the 401 and my three-block-long street are going to be taken care of by the same group of people I think will lead to incredible inefficiencies.
The example I cite is that the residents on my street wanted another street light, so we called the department of roads and traffic for the city of Toronto, talked to our alderman, and got another street light. I would be appalled to think that the process for getting that street light will be the same process that one would use to consider adding more collector lanes to the 401.
It also allows for a subtle and appropriate review of neighbourhood issues: the traffic flow in your neighbourhood, whether you really want a lot of cars going by the public school, what happens if we put in another stop sign. Albany Avenue right now, instead of being one way from Bloor Street to Davenport, reverses direction in the middle. Some residents on that street had it reversed. Now there's a controversy in the neighbourhood because some of the other streets are getting more traffic. That should not be considered by the same group of people who are considering what to do with the 401, what to do with the Gardiner Expressway. Those issues are not similar.
Efficiency comes from taking people with similar interests and similar goals and putting them together to work together. Having people with different interests and different goals and putting them together on a committee leads to inefficiency, leads to increased costs, leads to worse solutions. It's very surprising to me that the Premier has repeatedly attacked the fact that roads are run by the most appropriate level for them to be run by.
North York City Centre is another reason I believe that having six city governments is good. It's really the baby of that mayor. He's cared for it, nurtured it, funded it, poured money into it when, what's the immediate revenue recovery? Well, not very much, but he's really worked on that. He's got his city hall there. He's got a library. He lobbied and got a subway stop. He used his influence to get the Ford Performing Arts Centre to locate there. There is a public skating ring and a public performance area. The city of North York pays for free public performances in that public area. Revenue recovery is zero. What's happened is that there are more businesses there, more tall towers, and each year there are more. It's growing into a real city centre. It is a success.
If there were one government -- and I'm going to assume for the sake of argument that it worked out of Metro Hall because I haven't got anything else to work on -- I do not believe that North York City Centre would have ever grown up. It needed a mayor there who believed in his city and wanted his city better than the city of Toronto. Because of that, that's a success. The other mayors are looking at that and other mayors have said that they have looked at that model and want to do that in their area.
What's more, it makes the city of Toronto more efficient. That is efficiency in terms of provision of services, but also efficiencies on another level of efficiencies for the people and their time. They don't have to come downtown. It's better for the environment. It is something that has been publicly stated by Metro that is important to do: develop these alternative centres.
As I say, it's very strange for me with my political views to be addressing a Conservative government and saying I believe in competition. I believe that the competition between these cities is what drives the efficiency. I also believe six brains are better than one. There's an importance in the fact of the way that those cities work with Metro in that their budgets tend to look a lot alike and you get six tax bills to compare. When you only have one tax bill and the guy goes, "I'm doing a great job," you go, "I believe you." This way we can compare. For example, I know my bill as a resident in the city of Toronto is greater than any of the other cities in Metro.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Weston, can I ask you to bring your comments to a close. We are running out of time.
Mr Weston: Okay. I will say that with the KPMG report the thing that concerned me the most is that it seemed inappropriate to me that the 6% figure was quoted in the fact that it not only depends on the amalgamation but on the adoption of more efficient practices.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you. I'll have to ask you to wrap up.
The Vice-Chair: Do we have Ann Davies here please. Welcome.
Ms Ann Davies: Thank you. I appreciate being able to speak to you as part of the democratic process. That line from our national anthem that says, "We stand on guard for thee," means to me the ongoing process of protecting democracy. I voted for the Harris government, only to be dismayed by its lack of regard for the democratic process and its arrogance.
On February 4, 1995, the Financial Post quoted Premier Harris as saying: "We're looking at the possibility of government-initiated, opposition-initiated and citizen-initiated referendums.... We also feel, unlike other politicians, that referendums are a good idea and do not limit the ability to manage a government. We don't think it's unreasonable for people to have these alternatives."
Why then have Metro residents not had an opportunity to vote on whether they want amalgamation? Each of the six cities has its own distinctive characteristics and is cost-effective because they're not allowed to run a deficit. There are already services that are Metro-wide. There's no need for amalgamation of the cities to increase the number of Metro-wide services such as the fire departments. Negotiations could be used to accomplish this.
If Toronto is to remain a place with high quality of life as touted by Fortune magazine and the UN, we need to pay heed to Michael Keating's article in the Globe yesterday morning. He says, "Toronto...should look to successful European cities that have combined economic competitiveness with good public services, not south of the border, where our American neighbours have produced the worst cities in the developed world."
Another worrisome aspect of the lack of democracy is the appointment of a board of trustees. Local councillors received a letter from Mr Leach stating that they could carry on their duties and responsibilities except for any decisions that involve finance. These restrictions are contained in section 10 of Bill 103. The 1997 rigid budget rules are set out in section 11. In section 12, the decisions of the board of trustees are final and shall not be reviewed or questioned by a court. This is Ontario, not Hong Kong.
Does this mean that the appointed board of trustees has absolute power over our duly elected councillors? This makes me suspect that one of the underlying purposes of this entire exercise is some hidden financial agenda to pay for the 30% upcoming tax cut promised by the Conservative government.
In section 9, it says that the board of trustees report only to the minister, despite the fact that their salaries are paid by the municipalities. Appointed officials are not accountable to voters. Section 14, paragraph 16, second point, states that the transition team is a body corporate, which is defined in Webster's dictionary as a corporation. Corporations have not been noted, thus far, for their adherence to democracy or for operating in the public eye.
When you read part IV, "Regulations and Other Matters," the powers of the minister to regulate are excessive. Clause 24(1)(f) says he is even able to define any word or expression used in this act that has not already been expressly defined in this act. In section 25, he may apply to the Ontario court for an order requiring any person or body to comply with any provision of (a) the act, (b) a regulation made under this act, and (c) a decision of the board of trustees or the transition team.
Premier Harris admitted, after the passage of the omnibus bill in January 1995, that many MPPs had voted for it without understanding its implications or ever having read or discussed all its details. Are you comfortable with the duties, guidelines, powers and the mandate of the board of trustees and the transition team outlined in this bill? I certainly have grave concerns.
This bill enables the province to download social service responsibilities that David Crombie described succinctly as "wrong in principle and devastating in practice." Thank you.
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Ms Davies, for your presentation. We have heard from time to time some of the members of the government talk about the fact that we only get left-leaning types of individuals who are opposed to the megacity. Are you familiar with other people who may not be left-leaning but who are against the megacity proposal?
Ms Davies: Yes, I'm familiar with people who voted for the Conservative government, who were not left-leaning but who are dismayed at the lack of the democratic process. Change is inevitable, and I think any intelligent person realizes that; it's how the change is brought about. I feel if the democratic process is not involved in decision-making, then we're on the wrong track.
Mr Marchese: The trustees, as you know and have heard from many others, have tremendous powers, which I believe are -- and they go beyond the law too. They're not subject to review by the legal system, which I myself find abhorrent. Do you think that the powers of the trustees are consistent with a Conservative view of government? Perhaps an opinion.
Ms Davies: Unfortunately, yes.
Mr Marchese: Thank you very much.
The Vice-Chair: I ask Karen Wirsig to come forward, please. Welcome.
Ms Karen Wirsig: Thank you very much. My name is Karen Wirsig and I grew up in North York but I now live and work in the city of Toronto. In fact, I live in Mr Marchese's riding. I am a conference organizer by profession and I am also active in my community as a volunteer.
I work in a small entrepreneurial firm that employs 10 people, and is located in the west end of downtown. All 10 of the employees live within Metro Toronto, eight of us within the current city of Toronto, and most of us have some pretty serious concerns about what will become of our cities if Bill 103 becomes law. Many of my neighbours also share these concerns.
I would like to address my remarks today as much to the media and spectators present as to the honourable members of the committee. Scepticism prevents me from believing that this committee's report will have any bearing either way on the small group in the Premier's office intent on amalgamating the municipalities of Metro, apparently at any cost.
We must make sure that the people of Ontario hear the full range of discussion and debate on this issue. Ensuring that people remain informed and able to participate in the political process is crucial in a democratic society. In this particular case, the people living in Ontario must know how many of our concerns and suggestions were contemptuously ignored, if the government proceeds with its agenda.
To offer a glimpse of where I'm coming from on the issue of amalgamation, I'll describe the city that I want to live in. It is a diverse and healthy city, where people can live, work, raise children, learn, start businesses, drink their tap water, afford public transportation, involve themselves meaningfully in community issues, participate in cultural events, know and respect their neighbours and feel safe no matter who and where they are.
What I foresee happening if Bill 103 and the other pieces of legislation which immediately follow it and which can't be isolated from it are passed is the devastation of the place where I live, and I want to underline I don't think we can look at Bill 103 in isolation.
The core of the city, the place I call home, will be abandoned as taxes in the new city of Toronto rise and services decline so that it cannot hope to compete with the 905 region. The division between the 416 and 905 regions has not even been addressed by Bill 103 or by any legislation announced so far.
I would like to flag other aspects of Bill 103 in its current form that I find shocking. These relate to the ways in which the legislation has been presented and how it is to be implemented.
First of all, Bill 103 bears very little relation to the actual municipal region that gives the bill its name: Metro Toronto. Just as one can go to an office supply store and purchase, for about 50 cents, a generic will or contract, it seems as though the government has gone to some kind of legislative supply store, located perhaps in a suburb of Washington, DC, or Calgary, and has bought a generic form that reads "Bill number," fill in the blank, "The city of," again fill in the blank, "act." You would be able to find this form in the section of the store called, "Forms for effectively unloading those pesky municipalities you don't want to pay for any more." We'll become a world-class city all right, but I'm not sure why, in this context, this is a good thing for the vast majority of us.
Second, the bill proposes to reduce the number of democratically elected representatives. We now have 106 councillors for the 2.3 million people in Metro, and that works out to one councillor for every 22,000 people. Already it can be difficult to get a local politician on the phone to discuss urgent local matters. Imagine when the number of councillors is reduced to 44. That works out to one councillor for every 52,000 people.
The final shocking aspect of Bill 103 that I want to mention today is the appointment, not election, of two incredibly powerful teams to make sure that the government's agenda is carried through to the letter. Their powers over the structure of the new city and its spending are virtually limitless, according to the bill. There is really no avenue of appeal of their decisions, unless of course you happen to know the Premier or the minister personally, I guess. Already, the first such team, the board of trustees, has been ordered not to talk to the press. These people are operating, and will continue to do so, completely outside the democratic process.
I will end my remarks here by underscoring that Bill 103 in its current form is entirely unacceptable and very likely to bring my city to ruin. At minimum, the three issues I've mentioned need to be addressed before the legislation is passed: The entire GTA needs to be restructured under the same bill; we must retain our current level of public, democratically elected representation at the city level; and finally, the power of the appointed teams must be severely limited and their actions open to public scrutiny.
The Vice-Chair: I now call on members of the government. Are there any questions?
Mr Parker: Ms Wirsig, thank you very much for appearing here this afternoon. Thank you for your comments and your perspectives. You touched on a number of points. I don't know if we'll have a chance to follow up on all of them but I'd like to follow up on one.
You gave a bit of a vision of the city you want to live in as one that is diverse, healthy, one where you can drink the water, one where there are cultural events and one where you feel safe, and I appreciate that.
In the area we now call Metro Toronto, about 100 years ago there were 30, 50 separate municipalities. Over time they have consolidated. In 1953 we had 13 municipalities that got together and formed Metro. Within Metropolitan Toronto we had 13 separate local municipalities. In 1967 those 13 further consolidated and formed the present six.
What is it about a further consolidation of those six, within the boundaries of the present Metropolitan Toronto we've been living with for the last 40 years, that would undermine all of these characteristics that are important to you?
Ms Wirsig: I think my presentation made it fairly clear that it's not necessarily the changes to the city that I oppose; it's the way those changes are going to be brought about. What I'm most concerned about is that if three or four good friends of the Premier who clearly support him are chosen to implement not only the regulations of the new legislation but also the structure, hire all the top bureaucrats, what we're going to end up with is a city that's not necessarily reflective of the full diversity of the current population.
I'm concerned then that services will be privatized, that we won't have access to our elected representatives in order to effect real changes that we think are important in our local neighbourhoods and that in effect we won't have a say any more, that corporations will move in and take decisions and use their access to those members of council to invoke their own agenda on our city.
Mr Parker: Do I understand then that you're less concerned about the actual possibility of amalgamation than you are about the process of getting there?
Ms Wirsig: I think I was quite clear too in saying that amalgamation can only happen if we take the GTA into consideration. To create a false border between Metro and the rest of the GTA to me seems stupid. I don't know if any report so far would have suggested that, certainly not one that I've heard of. Most of the reports we've heard on the city, on the GTA issue, have said that we must include all the municipalities in the GTA in any kind of regional structure. So amalgamating the six cities within Toronto into one bigger city doesn't seem to solve any kind of problem that exists between the 416 and 905 regions.
Mr Parker: I'll just mention that a Greater Toronto Services Board is part of the overall vision that's being implemented here, not in this act --
Ms Wirsig: Will it be elected?
Mr Parker: -- but it is part of the overall proposal.
Ms Wirsig: Will it be elected, and what kinds of powers will it have?
Mr Parker: We'll see more about that down the road.
You mentioned representation --
Ms Wirsig: When?
Mr Parker: We're dealing with Bill 103 here, and I want to touch on another point you raised. You commented on representation. You indicated that with the proposal in Bill 103, there would be one representative for every 52,000-odd residents.
Right now, far and away the bulk of the municipal work done in Metropolitan Toronto is done at the Metro level: 72% of the spending is done at the Metro level, the bulk of the taxing is done at the Metro level and that's where most of the big decisions are being made, at the Metro level. At the Metro level right now we have one representative for far more than 52,000 people. In my community we have one representative at Metro who is responsible for a constituency of over 100,000 people. Can you give me your thoughts on that?
Ms Wirsig: Can I ask for clarification? When you say "the bulk of the work done," how are you weighting that work? In terms of how it impacts people where they live or in terms of the money spent? Are we talking about money work or --
Mr Parker: I'll take it on either basis.
Ms Wirsig: Personally speaking, the city of Toronto offers a lot of services to me that I rely on that no other level of government obviously is providing. I agree too that Metro offers an important level of service, including transportation and water provision, but what I'm concerned about is that we won't have the checks and balances we currently have in this system. At least now --
The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, I have to cut you off. Thank you very much for making your presentation.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Eberhard Zeidler, please. Welcome, Mr Zeidler. You may begin.
Mr Eberhard Zeidler: We are being told that no matter what our opinions are, amalgamation is a reality. I am probably wasting my time protesting it, but I feel it is important, for history's sake, to take a stand.
What is amalgamation going to solve? There are issues in any system that need adjustment and correction. The question is, will they be better resolved by calcifying an outdated political structure? I say "outdated" because Metropolitan Toronto, which in 1954 was set forth as a shining example of how a city can control its growth, has jumped its borders and now its problems cannot even be discussed without taking into account the greater Toronto area, which includes four million people, not the 2.4 million people who face amalgamation. The GTA is the first problem that needs to be addressed, not a megacity.
A pamphlet issued by the government of Ontario that tries to sell the idea of a megacity states that the Ontario government realizes this problem and that "a new coordination system of governance is in the works." Isn't it a horrible, tragic mistake to resolve an issue that does not have to be resolved but leave the burning issue of the GTA unresolved until later, maybe much later? Meanwhile the hulk of Metro Toronto is transformed into a megacity that will serve neither the people within it nor the area it effects, namely, the four million who live in the GTA.
We are proud that we have one of the most livable cities in the world. That is exciting. We have achieved a metropolitan lifestyle that can be favourably compared with London and New York. "Toronto is New York run by the Swiss," said Peter Ustinov.
Notwithstanding such comparisons, what exactly are we talking about? We are talking about the core, the heart of this metropolitan conglomeration, Toronto itself. The heart has to be kept beating and cannot be amalgamated because all the taxes, transportation and emotional feeling about the city start with Toronto. It is easy in the battle between boroughs to neglect this and say that North York also has a downtown district. Three cheers for Mel Lastman for making it so, but North York is just a sub-downtown that would not exist the way it does if Toronto were not vibrant.
When comparisons are made we often think only of our homes, and luckily Toronto provides good, diverse housing for many people. However, if we think of a place to work, then Toronto, the borough, becomes the heart for all. It produces the tax money that makes the region vital, and through this work the tax money passes into the hands of governments. The city of Toronto, however, has to battle to raise its municipal money mainly from house taxes. If this system continues, it makes it viable only for the rich and the poor to live downtown and pushes out the middle class.
If you pay some $300,000 to $400,000 for a house in Toronto because of the land value, and you pay substantially less in the suburbs for the same house on a much larger lot, then the Toronto house is closer to your place of work and reduces the cost of public transit and roads. The house outside the city core needs public transit or a road for which the downtown house now pays a disproportionate share through its house tax burden.
It makes these areas very unstable as you can only live there during the time in your life when you make enough money, then you are forced to move. If those who use public transit and the road system to get to work had to pay their share of transit costs, there quickly would be a desire for higher density in these areas.
Furthermore, the megacity will encourage business to move outside the metropolitan area to get inexpensive land and taxes. It is therefore important -- no, essential -- to build legislative control around the GTA so that businesses and housing are not free to jump these borders.
We have to slowly rebuild the density of the GTA, which would provide the money and the rationale for an effective transportation system, which would include the airport and such institutions as York University.
Yes, we are overgoverned. We have Toronto, Metro, the GTA, the province and the federal government. It is not practical to have five controls. However, instead of reducing the lowest level, which deals with people and their very special and different identities in these areas, we should amalgamate Metro with the GTA and put most of the services -- the 70% currently administered by Metro -- into the hands of the GTA, leaving the historical borough system intact.
Toronto has existed for 200 years and has done well in its government. However, there are villages that have grown up out of proportion in the last 10 to 20 years that do not have such historic bondage, so the area within the GTA could be ordered in a number of boroughs that deal with these respective constituencies. This way we could have a government that can deal with regional issues as well as the individual issues of each borough. Mississauga, North York, Toronto etc all have different issues to deal with and all have to be accommodated, not only on a regional but also on a personal basis.
The Ontario government has tried to make the case that amalgamation will save money. However, enough examples in North America have shown that bigger governments create bigger expenses per capita. Better coordination between the GTA and the boroughs has been suggested as a better way to save.
Expand Metro into the GTA and set up a system through provincial legislation that makes jumping borders for cheaper land impossible. Keep in principle the boroughs and cities that have developed in Ontario's long history. This is the way most great cities of world stature have organized themselves. Look at Paris and its arrondissements and Berlin and its stadtteile. Perhaps as a sidelight, like Berlin or Singapore, we should make the GTA with its borough system its own city-state, responsible only to the federal government. That would really be a saving.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. We have questions from the Liberal caucus.
Mr Cordiano: Thank you, Mr Zeidler. I'm certainly honoured to have you address us and I want to congratulate you for your lifetime achievement and your contributions that have made this one of the best cities in the world to live in.
The Chair: Order, please.
Mr Colle: I want to express my humility in addressing you. I think the message you're giving is essentially that there is a very simple alternative to the megacity madness that's staring us right in the face, that has been documented and is certainly in evidence around the world. Could you just summarize that again? It seems this government is saying, "This is the only, one solution." Could you state again what you think the alternative is and the clear path that is a viable future for Metro and the GTA?
Mr Zeidler: I have said the GTA is the new border of Metro. Because Metro can't work any more, most of the construction is happening outside its area. There has to be a legislative body set around the GTA that prevents further border jumping because the density can be achieved for many more people than four million who live within that border.
The other thing is, how do you deal with the 25% that you have not metropolized, so to speak, at the moment? These are the personal things that affect people. They cannot be done if you break up the four-million-people GTA area into a 2.4-million group that seems to be the big boss and controls everything and then the other people into a group of 500,000 or 800,000 people. It would be much better if that area is broken up like the arrondissements in Paris, into groups like Toronto, like North York, and of similar area.
Mr Colle: I do want to again mention your excellent work on the North York Performing Arts Centre. That's certainly one of your legacies and I congratulate you for your contribution.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Zeidler, for coming forward and making your presentation today.
The Chair: Would Richard D'Iorio please come forward. Good evening, Richard. You have 10 minutes to make your presentation this evening.
Mr Richard D'Iorio: Thank you for letting me speak today. It's certainly a tough act to follow. I'm here today for a number of reasons: principally because I'm a resident of the city of Toronto, but also because I'm a member of the Toronto arts community and I have a background and an interest in urban planning. But I'm here first and foremost because I'm a resident of the city of Toronto.
Mr Zeidler pointed out the potential ramifications that this bill could have on the downtown core. That's of great concern to the Toronto arts community, and I'm sure it has been reiterated many times throughout these proceedings.
When I set out to go through this bill and read it in depth, I must admit I was actually frightened. I've never been frightened by a piece of legislation like this. You read through it and you go through definitions and the definition section is fine. You're sort of comfortable with that.
You get into part II of the bill, and the existing bylaws will remain in force, employees of the old city will be incorporated in the new city. You get a sense that this is chaotic and somewhat problematic: How are these folks going to sort things out? The bill gives you the impression that it will all be sorted out in time: "Trust us."
I just don't see how it can happen so smoothly, unless of course extraordinary power is given and exercised by the trustees and the transition team, and that is fairly frightening. It's something which to me is almost like removing a level of our democratic process in this country and in this province. We elect our federal leaders, we elect our provincial leaders and we elect our municipal leaders; we have two tiers of municipal leaders. My sense of this part II, the transition team and the trustees, is that what we're in effect doing is just having two elected levels of government.
The section that I immediately honed in on was the trustees section. It's perhaps the most insulting part of the bill. The citizens of the cities in Metropolitan Toronto have elected their municipal representatives. That means these people have confidence in their officials, or at least as much confidence as a democratic system can provide. In my mind, they should maintain this confidence until they are proven to be irresponsible in their actions.
Why trustees? What have these municipal representatives done wrong? I've heard something being suggested in East York. Beyond that I haven't heard anything else specific.
We elected these people. We like these people, a lot of us do. We elected these people to perform a job and we elected you to perform a very specific job. In my mind, there has been no evidence that has come forth that leads me to believe that any of the councils as collective bodies have compromised the constituents they represent. So my first recommendation is that we remove any references to trustees and that we use the existing legislation to deal with any matters that come up in terms of wrongdoing in councils.
In my mind this provincial government is, with this bill, attempting to do something that it did not set out to do in its agenda that it mentioned to everyone in the last provincial election. The amalgamation of the cities of the new Toronto was not part of the Tory mandate in the election campaign, and that's important. If you were elected with this as a mandate, then I could understand. This is democracy. Fine.
In my mind, proceeding with a 1997 transitional year, with our elected municipal officials being apprehended in their duties as our representatives, would be the greatest insult to me and my community. While you may be able to legally follow through with interrupting democracy at the local level, you could also probably legally remove all municipal representatives across the province and run all decisions through the office of the Minister of Municipal Affairs. This, in my mind, might be more honest.
In my mind, if you proceed with this 1997 transitional year and with the trustees as set out in Bill 103, you're challenging the will of the people of the cities of Metropolitan Toronto. We voted you in and we voted them in, and in my mind that makes both of you equal. The fact that you, the provincial government, can legislate the city of Toronto staff and councillors to submit to strip searches each time they exit city hall to make sure they haven't made off with the old city stapler, in my mind, is purely the result of constitutional error. The fact that you can do it doesn't mean you should.
To add insult to injury, you are asking us, the citizens of Toronto, to pay to have the people we elected treated like criminals. As the people's representatives for the province of Ontario, you are responsible for municipal affairs, and I respect that. I am asking you to respect me and the citizens of the city and act accordingly.
If there is no evidence of wrongdoing, don't suspend local democracy. These are our councillors, and while I can tell you that I wouldn't necessarily vote for all of them, I would do, and am doing, everything in my power to ensure that their duly elected positions are preserved fully for the terms that they are serving, just as I understood when I voted in the last municipal election.
My suggested changes are: Remove all references to a board of trustees and change the transitional year to 1998 with a new council. I should also mention that my first and foremost recommendation is not to proceed with Bill 103.
Finally, in closing, respect the ruling of the Speaker of this House, respect the principles of our electoral system and respect your councillors unless they are proven guilty of something.
One last recommendation: Make amends by removing your Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
The Chair: Order, please. Order. The next outburst, folks, we're just going to have a five-minute recess, so I'd appreciate -- I've asked several times, over and over and over again, please refrain from applause and any other comments from the audience.
Mr Marchese, you have about two and a half minutes.
Mr Marchese: Thank you very much, Mr D'Iorio, for your presentation. I have a number of questions but I'm going to focus on one particular part of Mr Leach's presentation, where he says the reason, more or less, why we need to amalgamate is because we have an opportunity to create a governance structure that will save money, remove barriers to growth and investment and help to create jobs.
He says, "We have been clear about our intentions to create a new and unified Toronto from the start." Well, that's not true exactly. At the start, he was opposed to this. He wanted to get rid of the Metro government, so why he says they've been clear from the start is unclear to me. The Premier had different intentions too while in opposition and during the campaign.
But it seems clear that they are trying to do several things: save money, remove barriers to growth and create jobs. From what you've heard, from your experience, is it your sense that somehow amalgamation is going to do any of these things or that the quality of life might even be improved? Will it do any of those things for us? For you?
Mr D'Iorio: I think it's the greatest threat to our prosperity and that the recommendations of the four mayors are a reasonable alternative. I see nothing in this that leads to any of those aims.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr D'Iorio.
The Chair: Would Mr Mike Müller come forward, please. Good afternoon, Mr Müller. Welcome to the committee. You have 10 minutes, almost, this evening to make your presentation.
Mr Michael Müller: Thank you, Mr Chairman and committee members. I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about Bill 103, the act that intends to replace the seven existing municipal governments in Toronto with one megacity.
As an architect and planner, I have some understanding of cities, of urban space and its functions. I grew up in New York City and witnessed the growth of the skyline with all the new high-rises. I also witnessed the race riots in the streets when we could not go to our schools because of the people who were there at the bottom of the heap. I've lived in Frankfurt, the banking centre of Germany, and in Berlin, a political hotbed when the wall was still up and it was quite political. I've even lived in Port of Spain, Trinidad, which is a country the size of Metro. But I have come to love Metro Toronto and its culture and have lived here for over 22 years.
As a community volunteer, I have been on the boards of a seniors home help agency, a social planning council and my ratepayers' association. Thirteen years ago I became involved in the development of our local community centre, and have been the chair of its advisory council for the last five years. During those years, the city of Toronto had no increases in its realty taxes, which meant we had to be very creative in providing services while avoiding the alternative form of taxation, user fees.
There is nothing wrong with the municipal governments in Toronto. They are solvent, their structures are sound, and they have been operating for over 150 years. Sure, they can improve, just like we all can, but you don't tear down a building when you need to change a lightbulb or put in an elevator shaft. This proposal to do away with these cities does not make rational sense, but then this bill is not about megacity; it is about democracy and public accountability.
I don't understand how any elected official who believes in representative government can support this flawed legislation. And, frankly, I do not see any of you here in this room, in good conscience, supporting the removal of elected officials of successfully functioning municipalities, where Toronto among them has been recognized internationally, for these officials to be replaced by hand-picked appointees responsible to only one person: the minister. You would not stand for it at the federal level; you must not be party to it at the municipal level.
Since "common sense" resulted in this bill, let us use critical sense to review it.
Consider paragraph 9, the board of trustees. They are an appointed body corporate that shall review, amend and approve operating and capital budgets when they consider them appropriate. They will have full control over the spending of our taxes and in paragraph 10 can tell our elected councillors what they can and cannot do. Is this the safeguarding of public assets or a hostile takeover? Then there is the gag order on financial transactions in paragraph 13 and the removal of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.
But none of this compares with the placement of the decisions of the board above judicial review in section 12. Draconian, don't you think? Have you considered the democratic principles you are violating by even proposing this bill, let alone supporting it?
The plot thickens in paragraph 16 with another appointment: the transition team. Oh, yes, there will be elections in November as required in paragraph 22, but they are really a mockery of the electorate because the real power rests with the team, who, as per paragraph 16, shall recommend further legislation to entrench their position, impose restrictions on the amounts the city may raise and spend, and, you will note, report this to the minister, not to the taxpayers. Truly a new form of taxation without representation has been created here. They shall hire staff and, under paragraph 17, be the employer of that staff: a government within a government, to be paid for by taxpayers who have no judicial recourse against the team.
Finally, they shall establish the new city's basic organizational structure. What then is the purpose of the 1997 elected council? Is it only to give superficial legitimacy to this team?
Once again, the decisions of the team are final, above judicial review and not to be questioned by a court. The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply and the freedom of information act is gagged.
The setup is simple: If you want to control another company or another government or another country without being obvious, you let the shareholders or the electorate of that company or country think they are electing the board, the council, while you put your people into key positions with all the power. The council makes motions while the team takes the actions.
Why? Why go through all this turmoil? Just so that all of the services in the city can be tendered out, thereby limiting municipalities to being only the holders and enforcers of contracts? Why? Why go through this mess of hearings and costly explanations on television? Why not save the money and skip the election and just set up the big MT right away, the Ministry of Municipal Toronto, the shadow government which this bill creates?
There are other ways of achieving the same effect without trampling on democratic principles or destroying several hundred years of urban culture in this city. Are you so intent on creating an autocracy where the ordinary people are expected to obey the laws, to pay the taxes and not to complain that you need to change local representation to 1 to 50,000? Democracy stems from a philosophy of fairness, and to be fair, at this rate of representation, Ontario should only have 200 or so municipal councillors, with 44 of them in Metro. Toronto then becomes the fourth largest "province" in Canada.
We will now have big government at all three levels with this bill. This has been tried in the US and been shown not to work. However, Bill 103 implicitly recognizes the need for local municipal councils by disguising them as neighbourhood committees. The act calls on the team to determine how to choose them but shies away from outright electing them and paying them as the municipal councillors they are. As a volunteer, I know the amount of time and effort it takes simply to run or advise on one community centre. To try to advise on a neighbourhood and all the different aspects that a municipal council takes on would be a full-time job in and of itself, which it is at the municipal level.
If the intent of Bill 103 is to cut the deficit and reduce the cost of government, there is no rational basis for this bill. You can't do it to the 416 area without doing it to the 905, because it creates a hole in the doughnut where the cream filling is supposed to be.
I urge you to reconsider and rescind Bill 103 in light of what I have said and of all that is being presented at these hearings. Please do not go down in history as a provincial government that destroyed municipal democracy and took away the accountability of municipal elected officials to the taxpayer.
I thank you again for this opportunity to speak.
The Chair: There are two minutes remaining for Mr Gilchrist.
Mr Gilchrist: Thank you, Mr Müller, for your comments.
Let me just go on record very definitively, because you and a number of the previous presenters -- unfortunately, because of the way the rotation works, we weren't able to speak to their presentations -- the premise behind your comments, with the greatest respect, is absolutely flawed, absolutely incorrect.
The trustees, once the existing councils approve their budgets, which I think you and I as taxpayers would expect them to do -- that's what they do every year -- are merely there to oversee, to make sure there are no deviations. That's it. In other words, once the existing councillors have decided, whatever those expenditures are -- that is up to them to decide -- and once they have voted on that and it becomes the official budget for this year, the trustees are merely there to control.
You want a specific reason why that's needed? In the recent amalgamation in Halifax, there were cost overruns for one reason and one reason only: the extraordinary -- in fact many councillors have said illegal -- severance packets that were given to senior bureaucrats who were bought out as part of the deal, a $20-million variance from what was budgeted. What have they said? If they had had trustees such as we've proposed here, they would have had the control to ensure that was not done.
The bottom line is, this is not about another level of bureaucracy. This isn't about taking away accountability. This does nothing more than what the auditors of the cities do themselves, only this is done in a timely fashion.
If the council of East York does as they have suggested according to their motion to review a way of giving away their city hall, I don't think there's a single citizen of East York, whose taxes have paid for that building, who would agree with that decision, and you and I as taxpayers in this city would have, in a timely fashion, the information we would need to be able to react accordingly.
Quite frankly, some of the other things -- "gag order." There is no gag order. It's just exactly the opposite. The same protection is being afforded to people under the freedom of information act --
The Chair: You're coming to the end of your time.
Mr Gilchrist: Very quickly, if your pay or something else is protected right now under that act, the trustees can look at it, ie, in the connection of a severance packet, but if it was protected, they are also guaranteed not to disclose that information. I would have thought you would want that similar protection.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Gilchrist. You've come to the end of the time allotted. I want to thank you, Mr Müller, for coming forward tonight and making your presentation.
The Chair: Would Michael Walker please come forward. Good evening, Mr Walker. Welcome to the standing committee on general government.
Mr Michael Walker: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. My name is Michael Walker and I'm the councillor for ward 16 in the City of Toronto. Yes, I'm a local councillor. I know the minister has rendered judgement on all of us, "Off with your head and off with all of your heads," but at least for now, I am still here to represent the citizens of ward 16. You may not be willing to listen to Michael Walker, city councillor, but you should listen to them. I know that I speak for them today.
The city of Toronto has an international reputation of being one of the best cities in the world in which to live -- and I emphasize to live -- and work. Our system of local government is one of the reasons why Toronto is number one in surveys from Fortune magazine to those conducted by the United Nations.
One of the big factors in the success of the city has been the level of accountability and accessibility that local elected representatives have provided. The province's plan to amalgamate the seven municipalities clearly removes effective accountability and representation from local government. The provincial government has failed to show that amalgamation would be beneficial both in terms of accountability and financial savings.
The provincial government has ignored a basic principle of democracy -- the delivery of coordinated, responsive services. Local government provides a vehicle where the concerns of individuals and neighbourhoods are addressed, and this will be removed if amalgamation becomes reality. People may not always get what they want through their local governments -- Mr Müller has been one of those -- but overall they feel they have been heard from and thus can support the final outcome. That's displayed week after week in the operation of the city of Toronto and the other municipalities here in Metro.
Contrary to what the provincial government would lead us to believe, there will not be savings to the taxpayers through amalgamation. All the experts agree that amalgamated cities cost significantly more. None of the 25 reports cited in the province's own advertising pamphlet supports elimination of local governments. Even the report prepared for Minister Al Leach refuses to commit itself on savings and ignores the fact that some of costliest services such as police and transit are already amalgamated.
Many residents share the concern that the bigger the ward, the less accountable the local politician will be to local voters.
Even those who support the concept of a megacity are very concerned with the government's proposal to download responsibilities for funding and delivery of services to it. The services being downloaded include general welfare, family benefits, social housing and homes for the aged, to name four. Even if the provincial government foots the bill for education, it still leaves local taxpayers in Metropolitan Toronto with an additional $530-million tax increase -- all that just to stand still.
Put another way, research conducted by staff of the City of Toronto estimated average tax increases under the province's plan to download provincial programs would result in significant tax increases such as: per household, $400 a year; per business, $7,900 per year -- small businesses on our retail strips will be hit hardest; per industry, $4,900 a year. I've rounded those figures.
As another Michael Walker, from the small-c conservative Fraser Institute, says, a megacity will be incredibly inefficient. The transition costs we have to pay up front are the most certain aspect of this whole exercise: $400 million, conservative estimate; $1 billion, liberal estimate, according to Metro's own staff. Our taxpayers have to pay for that, and for what? For less effective neighbourhood democracy and a huge new bureaucratic local government.
I'd like to point out that this tax does not include the devastating tax increases that will result from the provincial tax plan, actual value assessment or whatever its latest version is. I remembered it, but forget the name of it right at the moment. Under actual value assessment -- I'll pass around one of these folders that shows how unjust it is -- the average increase for Toronto homes will be $413.88. The tax increase will be a whopping 16%. On older homes the increases could be significantly higher. Approximately one fifth of Toronto's houses will face tax hikes of up to 40%. Clearly many residents, especially senior citizens and young people just starting out, will be facing real financial hardships, even economic eviction.
Mike Harris, who I supported in the last election, is known as the Taxfighter, but he will become the Taxhiker if the government goes ahead with these proposals. Actual value assessment should be abolished. With hospitals being closed, with police budgets being cut, with no essential service secure, actual value assessment is a malignant idea brimming with noxious overtones.
Consider: With over $160 million to be spent on each yearly reassessment under actual value assessment, how can you in government responsibly justify employing hundreds and even thousands of new civil servants or contract people to guess what homes used to be worth the year before, when in the same breath you are firing thousands of nurses, technicians and support staff in hospitals all across this province?
In light of the above, I'm shocked to hear that Minister Leach is still undaunted in his desire to eliminate local government. His own riding will be one of the hardest hit, from the wealthy north to the working poor south. I'm at a loss to understand what more would be needed to change his mind that in his view "a single unified city is the most appropriate move for this community."
Clearly, for the reasons outlined, that is not an appropriate move. Previous deputants have said that. The health and vitality of a great city is at risk if the provincial government goes ahead with this plan. I emphasize to you it is a vital and great city. An endorsement of any proposal of reform to government structure must include full and meaningful public consultation and result in more effective local government and ensure real tax savings. This provincial government's proposed legislation fails on each of these principles.
I'm for strong local government, I'm for local option assessment, I'm for responsible democracy and I'm for the people. What are you for?
Mr Colle: Thank you, Councillor. I just want to get something straight. In terms of the impact on property taxes, you're saying that the download of $530 million on Metro will amount to about a $400 increase per home.
Mr Walker: Yes.
Mr Colle: Then the $413 you mentioned is separate, for the market value assessment download?
Mr Walker: That's right. The $413.88 is for AVA or market value assessment. I can leave these with you. They make a good case why he shouldn't do it.
Mr Colle: The thing, though, that I haven't seen any of the cities factor in is the other Trojan Horse, and that is the removal of the business occupancy tax, which is about $600 million that the provincial government has taken off business. Has anyone done any calculations of what's going to happen to property taxes on the residential side if that is picked up on top of the other two tax increases?
Mr Walker: I don't know. My understanding from the legislation is that we can find that shortfall, which is about half of the tax on average, still in the commercial sector if we are short. I'm not going to load it on to the residential sector. It's already overburdened, little houses -- we're getting into the market value assessment. We haven't calculated those in.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Walker, for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee this evening.
The Chair: Would Betsy Trumpener please come forward. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee.
Ms Betsy Trumpener: Good afternoon. I apologize for not having a written brief to offer you tonight. I brought my brief with me in a bag and I'm going to speak pretty directly from my heart. I'm speaking to you against Bill 103 as someone who has been a resident and chosen to live in Toronto for over a decade.
I want to talk about some of my neighbours who are maybe getting forgotten. I want to talk about people who are living outside places I've lived who are homeless; I want to talk about adult education, particularly for people who haven't had a chance to get an education; and I want to talk about joy, which I think is a really important part of living in Toronto.
I speak against Bill 103 with a very strong feeling that it's local solutions that are usually the most innovative and most appropriate, and local solutions that are supported with money from all the citizens, of course.
The first thing I want to talk about is --
The Chair: I have to tell you that we're not supposed to have props or signs and so on and so forth at these hearings.
Ms Trumpener: I won't be throwing them. It's only a sleeping bag.
The Chair: It's still a prop or a sign, ma'am. I'm bound by the rules of the Legislature. Maybe the fact that you've said you've got a sleeping bag in there will have to suffice.
Ms Trumpener: Okay, exhibit A: sleeping bag. I want to talk about people who are homeless. Until recently I lived just behind the Art Gallery of Ontario and there were a lot of homeless people living in the park behind me. It's something that we see a lot on the streets and it continues to increase. In a lot of ways it has become downtown Toronto's problem, although homeless people I've talked to come from all over the province.
These are people who are coming to Toronto with the hope of work and the hope of getting housing. They want to work and they want to have housing. So I'm really concerned about the implications of this bill on the ability to build housing that's going to be cheap enough for people to live in and in terms of welfare payments and the cuts to welfare payments and how those issues hit people in Toronto the hardest.
Prop B, which I'm not allowed to pull out, is a book.
Mr Sergio: Pull it out.
Ms Trumpener: Pull it out?
The Chair: No, don't pull it out, Ms Trumpener, because I'll just recess and you won't be able to finish.
Ms Trumpener: I wanted to pull out a book to recognize that just as the city of Toronto has developed some very innovative and appropriate responses to homelessness, something which might get lost in the megacity, so too the Toronto school board and the Toronto public libraries have developed a lot of really innovative local solutions to issues like adult illiteracy. For those people who would talk about global competition and economic competitiveness, the literacy rate of the citizens of your city is a very important issue.
The last thing I wanted to talk about was joy. This prop I really would love to pull out. Oh, come on.
The Chair: If you pull out a prop, I'll have to recess and your whole time would be off the record. I'm sorry.
Ms Trumpener: You will have to recess? Okay.
Mr Sergio: We want to see it.
The Chair: That's bad advice from Mr Sergio.
Ms Trumpener: My last prop is a skate.
Mr Sergio: It's her 10 minutes.
The Chair: You know the rules of the Legislature, Mr Sergio. She's going to lose her time if she follows your advice.
Ms Trumpener: I have a skate here. Here is my skate. You can see it peeking out of my bag. To me the skate represents one of the joys of living in the city: having free recreational activities which are enjoyed by everyone. I see it as like my freedom to trip over the skates of other people who are my neighbours and live in other parts of Toronto; our right to enjoy hot chocolate together outside city hall after we've done our free skating. I want us to remember our neighbours who are least fortunate and who will get lost in the shuffle in the megacity. I want us to also think about the joy, of the opportunities of things that we have to do together with all our neighbours. Thank you.
Mr Len Wood (Cochrane North): Thank you for your presentation, for coming forward. It's unfortunate that the Chair has ruled that your props can't be used as evidence here. In any event, do you see any good coming out of Bill 103 for the city?
Ms Trumpener: I'm sorry, whose question? I'm confused about which question to answer.
The Chair: Can I have order on both sides of the table, please? Mr Wood has the floor.
Mr Len Wood: I'm used to having people interrupt on committees of this kind, but I hope that the Chair will bring them under control. Do you see any good for the city coming out of Bill 103?
Ms Trumpener: No.
Mr Len Wood: Communities outside of Toronto, outside of the seven cities they're talking about, are being given a choice to sit down and talk with their neighbours. Why do you think that this is not the case for these seven cities that they want to combine into one?
Ms Trumpener: The only thing I can think of is a fear of what people working together can come up with, which is usually something pretty powerful.
Ms Churley: Can I just ask you, since you can't display your props, what you've got in there and what exactly you were going to prove?
Ms Trumpener: The first thing I have is a sleeping bag, which I see a number of my neighbours sleeping under on grates around the city. They're people who come from all over the province but end up being, in terms of cost, something that gets put on to the city of Toronto. I also have a book, which represents to me literacy and the joys of reading and education, something which is represented by the Toronto public libraries and the Toronto Board of Education. I have a figure-skate, which to me represents the joy of using some of our city's services, like the free skating rinks.
Mr Len Wood: I would just like to say that this is my first entrance into this committee, although this is normally my regular committee that I sit on. I'd like to say that you should be proud, as I am and other members of this committee, that an audience is here to fill up the room to listen to your presentation. It's something that I'm proud of and I'm sure you are and the other audience that is here to listen to the presentation. Once again, thank you very much for coming forward. We appreciate it.
Ms Trumpener: Those of us who believe in democracy and people power, yes.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Trumpener. The committee is recessed until 7 pm this evening.
The committee recessed from 1807 to 1901.
The Chair: Welcome to the evening session of the standing committee on general government. Donna Hardaker is before us. You have 10 minutes this evening to make your presentation. You may use that time as you see fit. If at the end of your presentation there's some time left over, I hope you'll stay and maybe receive some questions from the government caucus.
Ms Donna Hardaker: When I started to prepare this deposition, at first I considered asking the members of the panel and everyone else listening to excuse the obvious tremor in my voice. I am very nervous. I have never spoken to a legislative committee before. Indeed, I have never become involved in politics in any overt way beyond casting my ballot.
Instead, I am going to ask you to hear that tremor, to hear that someone like me, with no political savvy and a deathly fear of speaking in public, has come here tonight to speak to you from the heart. I have no political agenda. I hold no political loyalties. I am a citizen of East York, of Metro Toronto, and I am here because I thought I lived in a democracy and because I like the way my local representation works.
When I received in my door this pamphlet from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing entitled One Toronto for All of Us, I read it and I was very angry with myself for not having paid attention to the planning of the megacity, because even from my relatively uninformed position I had many questions and concerns after reading this brochure.
When I found out that these plans were made without public consultation and that Bill 103 had not passed into law, that what I read in here was in terms of Parliament hypothetical but in terms of Al Leach a fait accompli, I got angry and I turned into a political animal. I lost trust in this government's ability to respect our democratic system, to respect my democratic rights and those of the more than two million people who will be directly affected by this bill.
How could I assure my children, who are seated in the audience here tonight, that the democratic process of consultation is alive and well in Ontario? I thought democracy meant that the government was accountable to all the people. I remember learning this in grade school. Even with majority rule, a democratically elected government is obligated to consider the needs of, and to consult with, all the citizens, not just those who voted them in.
A referendum is one way for the people to be consulted. In the government's discussion paper, Your Ontario, Your Choice, I learned that this government does believe in the referendum process and would like to see it implemented in Ontario. However, it will not be in place before Bill 103 is passed. Is this at all expedient on the part of the government? If this government stands by its own words, then surely direct public consultation, not just these committee hearings, is absolutely warranted.
I have concerns that the citizens of Toronto are being treated differently than citizens in other areas of Ontario. In the government's pamphlet I learned about the Savings and Restructuring Act of 1996, in which the government gave authority to municipalities in northern Ontario, counties and cities, to decide how they are structured, their boundaries and how many levels of government they need. Why has the government given this authority to decide on restructuring to only certain areas in Ontario? Why are we in Toronto being denied this decision-making process?
I wonder too about the role of these hearings. These are supposed to be another way for the voice of the people to be heard. For normal legislation this would be sufficient, but Bill 103 is not normal legislation. The amalgamation of Toronto is of such great importance that in the past governments have established royal commissions to look at the concerns of restructuring this city.
Indeed, the Conservative governments of both Premier John Robarts and Premier William Davis established royal commissions to examine the concerns of Metro. These royal commissions ensured no one felt deprived of his or her day in court. But this current government is acting as if this is a done deal and has made it clear they will not alter their amalgamation plans regardless of what is said at these hearings.
These plans to dismantle Metro Toronto were made behind closed doors. Does the government expect me to trust in the process when it abuses it so flagrantly? Am I wasting my time by speaking today when the government is committed to not listening? Are you, the committee members, wasting your time?
I would like to be assured that the government respects this process and will listen to all the concerns presented here and will accept that if the voice of the people, such as it can be heard at these hearings, is strongly against this bill, it will delay its passage and will consider withdrawing it.
From my understanding of democracy, political appointments are kept to a minimum and are only used when elections would be inappropriate. I have grave concerns that the three appointed trustees and the appointed transition team, who are not elected and are not in any way accountable to the people, have and will have sweeping powers to make decisions that cannot be changed after their job is finished, even in court. This authority, without accountability, is not democracy as I have learned it.
I have heard that the present municipalities were put into trusteeship to prevent the outgoing councils from making wild expenditures on their way out. The government has made it clear that they do not trust my democratically elected municipal representatives, but I am supposed to trust their appointees who will never have to justify their decisions. This is not democracy.
From my understanding, a mandate is created by the promises and plans made during an election campaign. Nowhere did the Conservative Party state an amalgamated Toronto was in its plans. In a 1995 debate, Mike Harris said he supported the idea of eliminating the Metro level of governance and preferred, "the level of government closest to the people." I don't understand how this became a mandate for a megacity. A government acting without a mandate from the people is not democracy.
I am aware of the mandate to cut the deficit, cut spending, cut taxes. The government has declared that the megacity will save Torontonians money. However, as I consult the list on the back page of Al Leach's flyer, I find that not one of these studies or reports supports Bill 103's type of reform. The financial figures published by all sides and readjusted day after day of mega-week changes do not ensure a tax saving. No report that has been released to the public can say with certainty that after the mega-changes have been put into effect, there will be savings, yet the government has said there will be. On what basis does it make this claim?
I cannot help but feel that the people of Toronto are being deceived and swindled. From my understanding, there are no provisions in Bill 103 to ensure that our municipal reserves, totalling over $1 billion, will stay in our communities after amalgamation. Does the government perhaps have plans for this money that their appointees will carry out?
Finally, I want to speak about my city. I have lived in Toronto practically all my life, with just a year or two in other cities in Canada and one year in Europe. I have lived, worked and volunteered in many parts of Toronto. I have always been proud and grateful that the downtown core in my city is vibrant and safe. I fear that Toronto will become like Chicago, Los Angeles or New York where the needs of the downtown are neglected because decisions are made centrally by a huge governing body when the vastly different areas like Scarborough and Parkdale will have to compete with one another for a piece of pie.
I do not appreciate the pat on the head on page 2 of Al Leach's brochure telling me that I "will notice little change in a megacity. The services you rely on -- garbage collection, libraries, fire protection, parks programs -- will continue to be delivered."
Maybe the minister doesn't know that they are delivered quite differently across Metro, depending on the needs and desires of the community. I most certainly will notice changes, one of which is that as a resident of East York, I enjoy my right to get through to my mayor easily. Will the mayor of 2.3 million people welcome me into his or her office to hear about my concerns? Of course not.
I will be expected to voice my concerns to the appointed neighbourhood committees, who will then advise the community councils, who will then advise the elected megacity representatives. There are so many pitfalls here. Lots of advisers with no decision-making power, and again, appointees at what is supposed to my local level of government. How is this less government? How is this convoluted system supposed to be my local government?
Let me say also that I object to the contempt shown to me and all other citizens of Ontario with this government's decision to have a mega-week. The government seems to be hoping that people like me will be so overwhelmed by day after day of sweeping changes that we will sit back in stunned silence and just let the steamroller continue on its heavy-handed path.
This government must slow down the pace at which these enormous changes are being made, stop the posturing on all sides of the debate and find out what is best for the people of Toronto by listening to the people of Toronto. We need a royal commission to do this properly.
Last November 11, I stood with my younger son at the Remembrance Day services at the East York Civic Centre. We watched the veterans march past and we listened to speeches about young men and women who gave their lives fighting for democracy. At the time I was more concerned about the cold and getting home for lunch than I was about democracy, but shortly after Remembrance Day I became aware that my democratic rights to meaningful consultation and meaningful local representation were being severely compromised by Mike Harris and the government of Ontario.
Bill 103 has forever removed my complacency. I will never again assume and I will never again allow my children to assume that our democratic rights are safe simply because we live in Canada.
The Chair: Order, please, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Ms Hardaker. Nary a waiver and you used up the 10 minutes and a little bit more. Thank you for coming and making your presentation this evening.
The Chair: Would Sheila Kieran please come forward.
Ladies and gentlemen, I know some of you have been here in the afternoon and the morning and some even on Monday, and I know that the clerk has spoken to some of you as you came in. The audience in a committee room is the same as the audience in the chamber and my job and my role as the Chairman is to keep a level of decorum and a level of order, so I'd appreciate it if you'd refrain as much as possible from any outbursts.
The place for people to speak and be heard is in the chair and I think many people here tonight have made their presentations. We have a limited amount of time and I want to make sure everyone gets their 10 minutes. If we could refrain from that, I'd appreciate it.
You have 10 minutes to make your presentation and if there's any time left, it'll be the government caucus to ask questions.
Ms Sheila Kieran: I want to first of all thank the committee for responding to my request to appear in front of you.
First, I'd like to give you something of an introduction. I'm that increasingly rare person, the native Torontonian. In fact, I was the first baby born in what used to be known as the private patients' pavilion of the Toronto General Hospital in a very long-ago year, though perhaps not as long ago as my grandchildren think.
Like most people, I've always felt great attachment to Toronto, but unlike most I have always been active in civic affairs. That means that, among other things, I'm a veteran of the fights to save the old city hall and to stop the Spadina.
Unlike some of the people I know you've heard from, I'm not reflexively against the idea of reshaping the government of the six cities. I've been around long enough to remember the late Carl Goldenberg's 1966 recommendation that the then 13 municipalities be replaced by four. I even remember, provincial politics being what they were at the time, that it was deemed wiser to permit York and East York to keep their separate identities, which gave us the six cities we now have at issue.
I recall the 1969 referendum in which the people of the city of Toronto supported amalgamation and only the provincial government said no. I remember a succession of mayors, including Allan Lamport, Nathan Phillips, Donny Summerville, and of course David Crombie, who over time have supported it.
I suspect I'm not alone when I say that I would be very interested to be part of a democratic process of consultation and openness that might indeed lead to amalgamation, but it would not, I want to assure the members here, be anything like the pretence of democracy of which this committee and what we're doing is a part, given the minister's announcement that he will virtually ignore your recommendations.
I believe the current government has been provocative and insulting at the very time when cooperation and openness are greatly needed. The attitudes and manners of the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, I'm afraid to say, have been particularly unhelpful. By "manners" I don't mean simple courtesy or civility, though it is sad these are so noticeably lacking. What I mean can be found in the words of the great 19th-century Canadian humorist Thomas Haliburton, who said, "To whom much is given, much is expected." Exactly so.
Mr Leach has been given a great deal of power, trust and responsibility. With those went great expectations that he would facilitate needed change, not smack people in the face with it and then boast about his ability to do so. The appointment of the trustees was insulting and deliberately provocative, particularly because Mr Leach, the provincial government and the trustees themselves are aware that any action on their part will bring down the force and majesty of constitutional and charter law.
Despite Mr Leach and Mr Harris's assurances that they will not pay any attention to suggestions brought before you, I would like to offer some ideas on what should be done now.
First the legislation should be taken off the fast track. No one, certainly not Mr Leach or the Premier, has suggested why amalgamation has to take place this year. It is not enough to repeat some mantra about savings which has been discredited in the eyes of anyone who has read even a summary of the various reports, including that by KPMG.
Second, with the legislation delayed, the minister and the Premier should sit down with their best advisers and start thinking about how they might best sell their ideas about amalgamation to the community. Clearly the most effective method would be to undertake a true process of consultation.
There's nothing wrong with having a goal, as the government surely does, but it would have to see amalgamation as a process, which it is, not as an event to be rammed down people's throats. Certainly no one is entitled to feel either so knowledgeable or so arrogant that they are qualified to dismiss out of hand any statement, for example of Jane Jacobs, about appointed neighbourhood citizens' bodies.
Success would be possible only if the government had a genuinely open mind on the "how," even if it doesn't have on the "what." Yes, you'll get amalgamation, but you can get it without the freight of bitterness and disillusionment the government is now buying for itself.
Third, that process should start by turning down the rhetoric on both sides and beginning at the top. The minister and the Premier have to keep from acting as if municipal public servants were petty thieves bent on destroying the community. This is particularly ill suited to the minister, who after all was publicly employed for a good number of years. I would also deeply appreciate it if the powers that be here at Queen's Park would stop insulting my councillors.
It is graceless and not very useful to suggest that the people in these precincts are the font of all wisdom while the folks further down University Avenue are a bunch of lazy louts just trying to save their own skins.
Finally, I do not favour referenda as a way of reaching decisions. The legislation making more of them possible is, in my view, a totally unnecessary and potentially dangerous idea borrowed in haste from the United States right wing. Outcomes of referenda can easily be influenced by lobbying and corrupt financial practices. I support the current municipal referenda plans only because the government has closed off every other meaningful avenue of public input. This is just another example of how it has been its own worst enemy.
Maybe amalgamation is the devil's own work, maybe it is a brilliant idea whose time has come, but we're not about to find out. Rather, we're going to be left with a very real sense of bitterness and isolation, I must say with good reason, with people who feel they've been cheated and pushed around.
Winston Churchill once said that democracy was the worst possible form of government except for all the others. I would urge this government to recognize Winston Churchill's wisdom now, before it's too late to recognize it and act on it. Thank you.
I'd be happy to answer questions.
Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford): Thank you very much, Ms Kieran, for the presentation.
On the issue of referenda, you mentioned that you don't have great faith in the ability of the referendum to actually answer the questions that would be asked.
Ms Kieran: No, that isn't what I said.
Mr Hardeman: Okay. Maybe I should rephrase it.
Ms Kieran: I said I don't like referendums.
Mr Hardeman: You don't support the principle of referendums.
Ms Kieran: Right.
Mr Hardeman: Of course that would be based on the fact that they are not as representative of the public's opinion as they might be.
Ms Kieran: No, that isn't what I said. I said they are very open to corrupt practices.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you. You explained it far better than I could. I guess the question really would be, would it be appropriate -- as you mentioned, you see this as the only alternative to the present situation, but do you feel that the results of a referendum are the results that one should then accept as the people's wishes, recognizing the concern you have with the validity of it?
Ms Kieran: I think you're going to have to accept these simply because the government has cut off any other avenue of very broad discussion and input. It's not ideal, but it's all we've been left with.
Mr Hardeman: The other issue I think you spoke to is the trustees and the need for trustees. Leaving out the fact that we disagree on the need to go through this process, do you have any suggestions on how one would deal with the suggestions that have been put out that if it wasn't for the trustees, local government would do some strange things with the assets of the public?
Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): You should know better.
Mr Hardeman: These are not my ideas; these were suggestions brought forward at local council meetings.
Ms Kieran: I'm sorry, I didn't get your name.
Mr Hardeman: I'm sorry. I'm Ernie Hardeman. I'm parliamentary assistant to the minister.
Ms Kieran: I see. Are you suggesting then that I can't trust you and the minister? That certainly sounds not unreasonable. Should I have trustees appointed to look over you? Maybe the federal government should do that.
Mr Hardeman: I just read it in the paper, I wasn't at the council meeting, but there was an article in the paper that suggested one of the city councils had suggested they should look at ways to put the title of city hall in a non-profit corporation so a new entity would not become beneficiary to that asset.
Ms Kieran: I'm sorry. I don't know which paper; I didn't see the article and I would reject it. After all, presumably when the people in your riding elected you, they trusted you to behave honourably. I feel the same way about the people who represent me here and at city hall.
The Chair: Thank you for coming forward and making your presentation this evening.
The Chair: Would Colin Hinz please come forward. Good evening and welcome to the committee.
Mr Colin Hinz: Good evening, Mr Chair and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening. My name is Colin Hinz. I speak to you tonight as a city of Toronto resident and also as a professional engineer.
Engineers are by nature problem solvers, and thus I have chosen to contemplate Bill 103, the so-called City of Toronto Act, from a problem-solving perspective.
The problem-solving process can be summarized as follows: identifying the problem, formulating a suitable solution, implementing the solution and verifying the results. If there are unanticipated problems or inadequate results, the process must be repeated.
The minister and his staff, under the guidance of the Who Does What panel, have been correct to identify that there are some problems with the current governance of the Metro Toronto region and the GTA. The ministry has also managed a credible attempt to identify what those problems are. Certainly its analyses are incomplete, but they are a worthy first attempt. Where it needs help, however, is with the remainder of the problem-solving process.
First off, an aphorism: "There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over." This appears to be the approach favoured by Mr Leach. In a mere 11 days from receiving the recommendations from the Who Does What committee, he has managed to table a comprehensive piece of legislation. I can't conceive of how the minister, with the aid of his staff, could do this in a manner which considered all reasonable alternatives and which took into account the impacts of the legislation, not in that kind of time frame.
I note with dismay also that the minister is attempting to solve several large problems at the same time, all of them with sweeping changes. How can he expect to study the effects of these changes and make course corrections where necessary? Quite simply, he cannot. The resultant turmoil will be solvable only through -- you guessed it -- damage control and crisis management. This appears to be the only management style the minister is comfortable with.
Now another aphorism: "Haste makes waste." I am appalled that the ministry is attempting to bring forth such sweeping change in a year's time frame. Certainly, the region will benefit if Mr Leach acts promptly on solutions instead of letting yet another study gather dust, as his predecessors did. However, this promptness must be reasonable. The creation of Metro Toronto is cited by the minister as an example and role model for Bill 103. What is forgotten is that the enabling legislation was drafted only after three years of hearings and consultation. The honourable minister needs to be reminded that caution is a virtue here and that the economic and social consequences of a misstep could be dire.
The transition costs presented in the mayors' report have been compared to those in the KPMG study, and the upper figure given by the mayors is a full $100 million less than KPMG's. Is it entirely a coincidence that the mayors are allowing a four-year transition period, in contrast with Mr Leach's single year? I think not.
On the verification of results: A fair and reasonable transition process should include feedback paths both from the citizens and from the municipal bureaucracies. This feedback is necessary to correct the problems that will arise from the transitional activities.
The minister promises us that the new Toronto will be as responsive and accountable, or even more so, to its citizens. Why then is the transition process so cloaked in secrecy? Why are its operations so much at variance with normal due process and accountability? This is hardly an auspicious way of introducing something that's supposed to be good for all of us.
There is also a curious lack of confidence shown in the transition process. How else to explain the bulwark of extraordinary protection provided to the trustees and to the transition team? It appears that the minister is so unconfident that the decisions of these teams will pass public and legal scrutiny that he has constructed an impenetrable fortress of secrecy and immunity around them.
In recommendation, I am calling upon the committee to take the following actions:
(1) To insist that the minister demonstrate that the amalgamation proposal is the most effective means of solving the problems already identified, while minimizing negative impacts. So far its chief evidence consists of the KPMG report, which by its own admission is limited in scope and thoroughness. Mandates for large, sweeping changes require a strong burden of proof. The minister will have to do better.
(2) To insist that the revised legislation allow a sufficient transition period to ensure orderly and coherent change. This includes the settling of labour issues, winding up of surplus assets, consolidation of information services and harmonization of service levels and bylaws.
(3) To insist that the transition process be an open and accountable one. It must not engender suspicion or bewilderment in the affected citizens or in the affected governments.
(4) To recognize that if municipal referenda endorse amalgamation, this is support for the end result and not the proposed process. Concern for fairness and equitability of any restructuring process must be paramount.
(5) Last, in the event that Bill 103, as it stands, is passed into law, I urge the six existing municipal councils to immediately declare a state of emergency to end on December 31, 1997. This state of emergency would free councils from the obligations imposed under subsection 10(1) of the act and would be morally justifiable, considering that they are all victims of what in essence constitutes a hostile takeover action. A municipal state of emergency would also suit the management-by-crisis style that the provincial government favours so well.
Mr Gerretsen: Sir, both in your presentation and in the two preceding presentations there was quite a bit of comment made about the haste with which this legislation is being brought forward. I think you probably realize, which the government is not telling you, that this bill is very closely tied in to the megadumping bills of health care and social welfare costs etc. We all know that the city of Toronto has a larger aging population than some of the other cities around, and a greater need for some of the health care and social services. Quite frankly, in order to pay for those costs, they've drawn in the other cities in order to make them pay for them as well. That's really what it all boils down to. The two actions are very closely related. You won't get any admission from them on that, but I can tell you that's the reason they are in such haste to do this.
Mr Hinz: I'm quite aware of that. I just chose not to focus on the broader issues, but rather to address specifically Bill 103.
Mr Colle: I have another question. The government is always making the comparison saying: "This is no different than when Metro was created back in 1953-54. The process is no different. What are you worried about?" I think you've made a very excellent point. You've researched that and I think you're putting it on the record that it was much different. In that process, there was consultation that extended over three years. There was consensus, there was dialogue, and nobody in Metro felt that it was shoved down their throats without due process. Do you want to comment on what you found in your research, a comparison of 1954 to today?
Mr Hinz: My primary source of information was the biography of Fred Gardiner, written by Timothy Colton, called Big Daddy. It's a fairly comprehensive book.
I would like to mention also that the incoming Metro council stepped into office in April 1953, whereas the existing municipal councils served in office until the close of 1953. So there was an overlap period, and that overlap period was constituted by democratically elected councils, which is not the situation that we have under Bill 103.
Mr Colle: An excellent point.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Hinz, for coming forward tonight to make your presentation.
The Chair: Would Fiona Charles please come forward. Good evening, Ms Charles. You have 10 minutes this evening to make your presentation.
Ms Fiona Charles: My name is Fiona Charles and I'd like to thank you all for the opportunity to make this presentation this evening.
I'm sure that in the course of these public hearings you will hear many arguments for and against amalgamation. I have come here this evening to talk about the astonishingly undemocratic -- indeed anti-democratic -- nature of Bill 103.
First there is the government's refusal to hold a binding referendum on the question of amalgamation. With a referendum, all sides would have the opportunity to campaign on the strength of their arguments. This would mean public debate on all the issues and an airing of all the alternatives, followed by a democratic vote by the people most affected. Instead, with this bill, the decision is imposed and the only public consultation is sought after the legislation is tabled. The government has made it very clear that it is not interested in the electorate's wishes as they would be expressed in a referendum.
Second, this bill proposes the drastic reduction of local representation. The ratio of 44 municipal councillors to 2.5 million citizens will mean that each representative will represent 56,000 people. This is a dramatic reduction in the accountability of local government, replacing what are now, by and large, accessible, human-scale city governments with one that is remote and inaccessible.
Finally, and most disturbingly, Bill 103 imposes a profoundly autocratic decision-making process. This process begins immediately with appointed trustees having power to overrule the spending decisions of duly elected municipal governments, the people we elected to spend our property tax money. This in itself is a mockery of the democratic process.
Following amalgamation, decisions will be made by an appointed transition team with sweeping powers. This team will be accountable only to the minister, not to the new municipal council we will elect or even to the Legislature. It will have the power to make staffing appointments and sign contracts; in effect, to govern the new municipality in every way that counts.
Bill 103 then tries to raise the decisions of these appointees above the rule of law. They can't be overturned by our elected council and they will not be subject to challenge in the courts. Quite simply, this is government by fiat.
By vesting irrevocable decision-making powers in appointed officials responsible only to the minister, the provincial government is suspending local government. Effectively, Bill 103 suspends local democracy in Metropolitan Toronto indefinitely. The province has the power to do this, we know, because of a Constitution that became law 130 years ago. Yet this is a power that has rarely, if ever, been exercised. Like the power of the Lieutenant Governor to call an election over the objections of the elected provincial government, it is a power that runs contrary to the democratic spirit and practice of the last half of the 20th century. It is a power that should not be exercised.
I've heard the argument that this bill cannot be anti-democratic because it has been tabled by a democratically elected provincial government. Supposedly, because the trustees and transition team will be accountable to this same democratically elected government, their decisions will therefore be democratic by definition.
It doesn't take very much knowledge of 20th century history to know what a fallacy that is. There are many examples of democratically elected governments that have acted undemocratically. Without resorting to rhetoric, and to take an extreme example, we should remember that Hitler first came to power in a democratic election. The transition of German government during the Third Reich from democracy to dictatorship was made entirely within the legislative process, with the gradual passage of one law after another destroying democratic rights until all were gone.
The usual excuse for government by fiat is a state of emergency, "apprehended insurrection," war. But there is no war or emergency in Metropolitan Toronto. There isn't even a financial emergency. The cities are not bankrupt or even in debt. They aren't allowed to have deficit budgets by law.
It is undoubtedly true that municipal government could be more efficient. Doubtless, with greater cooperation between cities, we could achieve cost savings through economies of scale. The citizens of Toronto might decide, after hearing all the arguments and considering all the alternatives, that amalgamation is the right way to go. But it is our decision to make. It is not a decision that should be rushed or imposed on us.
Democracy is a messy business. It is not always the most efficient or cost-effective way of making decisions or of governing, but it is the best system we have and it is easily imperiled. In a democratic society, every piece of proposed legislation must be rigorously examined to see if it threatens democracy. In a democratic society, the end does not justify the means. Bill 103 is a bad piece of legislation. Bill 103 imposes undemocratic means to achieve its ends.
Mr Len Wood: Thank you very much for your presentation. I just want to go back: You're saying the powers that the trustees have, they're appointed trustees and they've taken over the whole democratic process that was there before, where the mayors were elected and the councillors were elected. Now, for no apparent reason, there are appointments of three trustees.
Maybe you could expand a little bit on what kind of a democratic system you think should be in place now as we're proceeding with Bill 103.
Ms Charles: Unfortunately, I'm not sure there can be a democratic process, because we are proceeding with Bill 103. The democratic process would have been to initiate public consultation as part of the decision-making process leading up to drafting legislation. That hasn't happened.
Mr Len Wood: As you pointed out in your presentation, there are all kinds of reasons why people are going to be rising up against Bill 103, and you've brought more reasons forward. Since the hearings have started, there's always a large audience in the room, people anxious to make presentations and saying: "Why is Mike Harris doing this? He's allowing democracy to take place outside of these seven local governments." In the 905 region and northern Ontario he is saying, "You people can get down and talk it over and come up with some kind of an agreement." Why do you think he would be doing this to the people of what he considers the new Toronto? Why would Mike Harris and Al Leach be treating them in a different fashion than everybody else?
Ms Charles: I don't understand that at all. I have heard suggestions that perhaps Harris wants to punish Toronto because that's not where his support comes from. I don't believe that a democratically elected government would behave in that way, but it's a mystery to me. Perhaps it's also a distrust of the electorate, that we're not trusted to be smart enough to make decisions about our future.
Mr Len Wood: You might be right on that because I know that he is punishing northern Ontario severely in all the dumping that he is doing and the cutbacks and the money he's taken out of it. Maybe that is what is happening. Maybe that's why Mike Harris and Al Leach -- maybe they are punishing Toronto for not supporting them in the last election.
Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): The northern Ontario heritage fund.
Mr Len Wood: The heritage fund has given nothing whatsoever. There hasn't been a single penny in the last two years given out of the heritage fund. It's a big joke. Chris Hodgson and Mike Harris --
The Chair: Mr Wood.
Mr Newman: Sixty-five million --
Mr Len Wood: Control your members, there. They've been yapping away like little dogs.
The Chair: Mr Wood, you have the floor.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Just ignore him.
The Chair: Order, Mrs Marland.
Mr Len Wood: Now we've got Margaret starting to yap away.
This is what is happening on a daily basis in the Legislature. You have 82 members of the Conservative caucus that are ramming everything through. They don't care about democracy in Ontario. We've seen what has been happening over the last 18 months. We see the example here again tonight where people like yourself come in and make presentations and we hear the Conservative caucus making fun of their presentations. I think it's wrong, deadly wrong, and --
Mrs Marland: No, we weren't.
The Chair: Please, Mrs Marland, you're out of order. Mr Wood has the floor. Mr Wood, you have about a minute left if you want to ask another question of Ms Charles.
Mr Len Wood: I would just like to say that I appreciate very much your coming forward and making a presentation and having the nerve to do that. I know the presentations are going to continue until this bill is withdrawn, because it won't work. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Charles.
The Chair: Would Bob Olsen please come forward. Good evening, Mr Olsen, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Bob Olsen: Thank you. My name is Bob Olsen. I have been a citizen of Metropolitan Toronto since 1948. I am concerned about the growing numbers of homeless people in Toronto. My concern has led me to serve on the board of directors of the Open Door Centre, a drop-in program serving the homeless for 27 years. The Open Door Centre is one of the member agencies in the Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness.
I've come to explain why it is important to the homeless people to preserve local democracy and not amalgamate the municipalities of Toronto. The city of Toronto is the only Metro municipality trying to provide housing or health care for the destitute and the homeless. The city of Toronto does things differently than the cities of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.
The city of Toronto has been one of the world leaders in the field of public health for 100 years. The city of Toronto has been one of the leaders, if not the leader, in North America in the field of affordable housing for more than 50 years. People come from all over the world to see how Toronto's housing policy works. The city of Toronto is the only municipality in Metro that has a housing department, the only municipality in Metro that has a housing corporation.
The city of Toronto is one of the two or three jurisdictions in Canada that license rooming-houses. Until recently, the other Metro municipalities did not even allow rooming-houses, let alone license them. For example, North York had a bylaw that defined who could be a family -- can you imagine? I've got a copy of it with me -- and thus limited who could live in a house. They had a bylaw as to who could live in a house, thus prohibiting rooming-houses and shared accommodation in North York, the only type of housing that the poor can afford, thus discouraging low-income people from living in North York.
The city of Toronto is one of the few municipalities in Ontario that permitted basement apartments. Scarborough and Mississauga both fought tooth and nail against legalizing basement apartments. Basement apartments are the refuge of sole-support mothers.
The city of Toronto was the first municipality in Canada, and the only municipality in Metro, to set up a municipal housing corporation. Regent Park, built by the city in the 1940s, became the basis of the Ontario Housing Corp, which now has 85,000 housing units in communities across Ontario and is likely to be sold.
Cityhome, the city of Toronto non-profit housing corporation, was set up 22 years ago under Mayor David Crombie, and became the model for other municipal non-profit corporations. None of the other Metro municipalities have even considered setting up a municipal non-profit housing corporation. The city of Toronto, through its housing department, has been proactive in providing affordable housing. Other municipalities have used parking regulations to prevent the construction of affordable housing.
Where other municipalities are neutral or obstruct affordable or social housing, the city of Toronto housing department staff have facilitated and promoted both social and for-profit affordable housing for at least 50 years.
How do we explain the city's concern with public health? How do we explain the city's concern with affordable housing? Is there something different or strange about city of Toronto politicians? Were mayors Crombie, Sewell and Eggleton smoking funny cigarettes? Or is it that Toronto's political differences are due to a difference in community?
Do different communities identify their own specific problems? Do they find solutions to common problems that are specific to their community? Do they elect the politicians who are able to implement the solutions the community needs? Do the elected politicians and the solutions they implement reflect the communities they serve?
Housing and health care services for the homeless are priorities for the city of Toronto. I have had the opportunity to work with both public health and city housing officials for some years on these issues. These issues are not a priority for Etobicoke, North York or Scarborough. They are not even on the agenda.
A suburban solution to the problems of housing the poor is to deny or discourage them access to housing in their communities. That option has not been available to downtown Toronto politicians because the poor have nowhere else to go. You can't get rid of them. You can't drive them out of downtown Toronto. And so for 100 years the city of Toronto has been the leader in providing health care and affordable housing to the poor.
The poor and the destitute and the homeless will suffer the most from this amalgamation.
Mr Hardeman: Thank you very much for your presentation, Mr Olsen. I want to commend you first of all on your work in the housing industry or housing for the poor in Toronto.
The question comes as to why we have the concern that in making the city larger, the needs of the people within that city will not be looked after in the same manner. Would you see all of a sudden electing different people or seeing different needs in a community that is larger?
Mr Olsen: We have a good example in the difference of the response between the city of Toronto and Metro Toronto. We already have a Metro structure which covers the whole area now. Being on the board of directors of two local agencies, we have better access to city of Toronto officials -- I'm talking about bureaucrats -- we have better access to elected officials, and we get a much quicker response, whereas going to Metro, they have defined programs and it takes years to change a program.
If you say you've got a problem, they have to set up an entire program to address a very specific problem. We can go to the city of Toronto and say, "We need a new kitchen because we've got to cook for several hundred homeless people a day." The city of Toronto will find a way. They'll say yes; they'll make the money available. But to go to Metro, they would have to set up an entire program to provide kitchens to all the services across Metro. It just doesn't work.
Mr Hardeman: Is that because the Metro level is a different type of government?
Mr Olsen: It's just bigger.
Mr Hardeman: Because it's bigger.
Mr Olsen: It's bigger. A smaller person than I am can move much quicker than I. I'm six foot three and I'm a bit cumbersome. Someone who's five feet tall and weighs 100 pounds is much more nimble on their feet and they can move around more quickly. They can manoeuvre on the icy streets; I can't. It's more difficult for me. I'm just too big.
Mrs Marland: I think some of the points Mr Olsen is making are very valid. I think his arguments, particularly for the homeless and particularly for those people that are not able to find affordable housing, are very real concerns and they are concerns our government is facing. They are concerns we had when we were in the opposition and they are concerns we share with you today and we want to address.
I'm wondering actually, although I can't ask Mario Sergio, how he feels about the criticism of North York, because I feel that Mel Lastman is a mayor and his council are members who also share the same concerns for people who have those particularly unbelievably difficult challenges in their lives on a daily basis.
Mr Sergio: I'd be pleased to answer that.
Mrs Marland: Personally, I appreciate the points you have made by bringing these in your brief to us tonight. They are not areas that are being ignored. The tragedy of people dying on our streets has been a tragedy not only in the last year or the last 10 years; it is something that every government and every municipality is trying to cope with on a daily basis, and it's a responsibility frankly that all of us share.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Olsen, for coming forward and making your presentation this evening.
Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order --
The Chair: Bruce Bonaney, please come forward.
Mr Gerretsen: On a point of order, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: We don't want to have -- the two can have a conversation about that --
Mr Gerretsen: No, I just want to make a point of order.
The Chair: Mr Sergio, if you're in a position to ask some questions of the next person, if you want to respond in any way to that --
Mr Gerretsen: I've got a point of order.
The Chair: Okay.
Mr Gerretsen: The point of order is that these gentlemen are saying that you've just got many more of these people in the city of Toronto so that there's a much greater need to look after them --
The Chair: You know it's not a point of order, Mr Gerretsen.
The Chair: Mr Bonaney, you have 10 minutes to make your presentation. At the end of the presentation, if there is time left over, that would go to the Liberal caucus to ask questions.
Mr Bruce Bonaney: Dear members of the committee, it is a profound level of disgust that brings me here before you tonight. I live and work on Yonge Street just north of Lawrence Avenue here in Toronto and am pleased to say that I am very happy with our community. It is an area where I feel very comfortable with my neighbours, don't have to worry about walking around at night and enjoy frequenting the local businesses of which I am a part. I do not want this to change for the worse.
For the past 20 years or so I have been rather apolitical and had hoped to remain so in the future. Living in St. Catharines, when I was last involved in politics during an earlier Conservative rule, opened my eyes to a political world I wanted little to do with. If memory serves me correctly our local MPP was only known outside the district for his pronouncements in favour of public flogging. His heavy drinking prevented him from doing as much as he should have done for his constituents.
The local power brokers were decent enough men, and back then they were almost always men, but they seemed to me at any rate much more interested in influence and control than democracy or society. That is what I moved away from, moved away to the big city, where the politics were probably not any better but the place was large enough so I could just do my work, live my life and ignore what I did not like.
Mr Harris's and Mr Leach's recent political manoeuvres and statements to push through Bill 103 remind me too much of what I was trying to escape from. Now, however, the dictatorial methods and political ramifications of what the Conservative government is doing cannot, nor indeed should not, be ignored.
Why is it so important to Mr Harris to take the democratic rights away from the citizens of Toronto and give power to three trustees appointed by Mr Leach who will be answerable only to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing? This looks much like an old-time power grab with the interests of the subject population ignored. Gone now, for whatever reason, is the Conservative Party's commitment to having binding referendums that allow citizens greater input in government as mentioned in their document Your Ontario, Your Choice.
The average number of people in the new wards will be increasing from 29,500 to 52,000. With advances in technology and communications we should be increasing the representation of the local communities, not decreasing them. It is the local communities, as diverse and complex as they are, that give our city the vitality and dynamism that make our city the great place it is and even better place it can become.
Toronto has been consistently rated one of the most liveable cities in the world. The new municipality of 2.3 million people created by Bill 103 will put two mutually exclusive styles of urban living -- the downtown core and the outer ring of suburbia -- into constant conflict, a conflict that can only decrease the quality of life we have been noted for.
As a small, independent business person I am constantly concerned with expenditures. I believe that Bill 103, as it is being forced upon us, will only cost us more in increased taxes. Experience in other Canadian municipalities indicates costs of amalgamated cities exceed those of the independent cities before amalgamation.
Where is the sense in paying somewhat less in provincial tax when local taxes have to go up even more? If the downtown core residents have to pay extra to provide services for the majority outside the core, because we will be unfairly represented, it will not be long before downtown Toronto comes to resemble the deserted and crime-ridden American megacities.
It is my understanding that most of proposed savings in the spending are to come from 2,500 to 4,500 layoffs, including 500 police positions, 200 firefighters and 200 public health nurses and educators. Too many of these people, it would seem to me, directly influence the quality of life we have come to expect in Toronto. Should we really be getting rid of so many people providing essential services?
There are always things to improve, but there is no rational justification for the damaging whirligig of changes proposed by the Conservative government. Whirligigs, as mentioned in an Economist magazine article recently on Mr Harris, have a way of spinning out of control.
If Mr Harris is really so concerned about the bottom line, let him stop sending out those requests for money that I continually get from him inside these awfully expensive, high-quality envelopes. These are the same envelopes that say, "Neither printed nor mailed at public expense." It is my guess that these mailings were paid for by the same party donations he keeps asking me for, the same party donations that will give the sender extremely generous tax credits that have to be made up for by public expense. If that's his idea of saving money, then no thank you, Mr Harris. No thank you to that suggestion or any of your other suggestions on amalgamation.
If we are going to change local government, let's do it democratically. Thank you for listening.
Mr Sergio: Thank you for your presentation and thanks for coming down. A couple of questions, if I can fit them in, and then I want to leave some space for my colleague.
First question: Today, this morning, we had a number of architects come to make a presentation to our committee here. Also we had one of the former councillors here making a presentation. This is what he said: "A proposal, if it's sound, must stand up to public scrutiny. If it doesn't, it shouldn't be approved."
When we started the hearings Monday morning, we tried very hard -- I'm not criticizing the members of the government because evidently they have directions as well -- to get this committee to travel to the city halls of the municipalities here in Metro. We couldn't.
A two-part question: This would affect our democratic process and this would affect seriously, infringing upon, the people of Metro to have the opportunity to go to them and not them to come to the politicians. How do you view that?
Mr Bonaney: I'm not sure I understand fully what you're saying, but my view is that the way things are going here, the government's going to be far too removed --
Mr Sergio: I'll rephrase it, if you wish. What I was trying to say was that we have tried very hard to go to the people in the various municipalities.
Mr Bonaney: With the committee, you mean?
Mr Sergio: Yes. Of course, the government side has a majority. They had directions not to. Now, if this is such a good proposal the government is putting out for the people, why are they so afraid to go to the people and listen to the people?
Mr Bonaney: I just don't think they want the facts of the matter to be brought out into the open. They're just trying to ram this through. It's a typical power play that I saw all too often in the past.
Mr Sergio: My second question: They are spending millions of dollars to promote this and their agenda as well. Is this telling us, the people in Ontario, that it's not such a good proposal and they are pumping millions of dollars to try to sell it to the people in Ontario?
Mr Bonaney: If you have to spend a lot of money to sell it, there's got to be something wrong with it.
Mr Sergio: Don't you find it offensive, as I do, that they are using my money, taxpayers' money, to promote something that does not really make sense?
Mr Bonaney: I feel like I'm getting ripped off by the government all the time. This is just another one on top of everything else.
Mr Gerretsen: Just very quickly, and this dealt with some of the presentations we heard earlier today as well: Each community, each one of the six municipalities really has a different makeup or a different mix. If I got the gist of the earlier presentations, particularly from the homeless organization, which I thought was very well done -- having been involved with the Ontario Housing Corp, I know what he's talking about -- I think there's the feeling that particularly the most vulnerable in our society simply will no longer be part of the system or will no longer be paid attention to, to the same degree, in a larger governmental structure. I think that's the real concern people have. Do you have comments?
Mr Bonaney: I think there's no question of that. I put in 60-plus hours a week at my business. I have little time really for community work. But the people I know who do this type of thing tell me that as soon as you take local government away, people are even less inclined to help out. So those people at the bottom of the list are going to be put right away, completely out of everybody's mind.
The Chair: Thank you, sir, for coming forward this evening and making your presentation.
The Chair: Bruce Hanson, please. Good evening, Mr Hanson, and welcome to the committee.
Mr Bruce Hanson: Good evening. My name is Bruce Hanson. I live at 375 Elm Road, near Lawrence and Avenue Road. Thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight. I hope the voices that are raised before this committee will be taken into account. Above all I hope that the results of the referenda will be honoured.
Canadian and Torontonian: I'm a Canadian and know that it's an immense privilege to have been born into this rich western democracy. Democracy in Toronto has been suspended. It must be restored. Canada is rich in wealth, human and natural resources and culture. I'm a citizen of this awesome nation of Canada, yet it is the city of Toronto that I relate to and feel a part of.
Toronto is the economic capital of Canada, and much of the rest of the nation looks askance at us because of this. Despite the grudge that many have against Toronto, it is vital to the economic health of the region.
Toronto has been my home for all but two of my 37 years, and I both love and hate it. I love the cultural and intellectual smorgasbord. I am glad to live in a city with a wide range of employment opportunities. I am happy about the social supports that are available to the disadvantaged.
I hate the automobile pollution and the environmental costs associated with low-density suburban sprawl. My hate for the effects of the car, however, does not prevent me from owning one and occasionally using it to get around. I take great joy in using my bicycle to commute. When I use the subway, it's normally a quick and stress-free service. I dislike the move away from public transit, such as the reduced service on some routes, and the construction of more roads. I despair at the hostile environment for cyclists and pedestrians.
Large versus small: The amalgamation of Metro Toronto under Bill 103 will result in a reduction of local democracy. The approximate doubling of constituents per council member and the increase in the overall size of bureaucracy will result in less responsive government. I have seen first hand the difference in responsiveness and accessibility between small and large corporations. I have worked for IBM, Ontario Hydro, a small auto parts manufacturer and a small engineering company. Based on my experience, large corporate entities result in lower responsiveness to clients' needs and lower accessibility.
Trusteeship: The appointment of trustees to approve most financial decisions for Metro is a direct cancellation of local democracy and is wrong. The citizens must be consulted before this is even contemplated. The way the Ontario government has implemented the rule of trustees over Metro is a clear indication that legal reform is required. The law must be changed to take control of municipalities away from provincial governments. The national or provincial governments must not be able to arbitrarily change municipal structures without a binding referendum.
City and the economy: The powerhouse states of Asia show that the engine of any economy is the city. However, the lack of democracy in these city-states has resulted in extremes of wealth and poverty that we would do well to avoid. The importance of cities to the economy has been extensively documented by authors such as Jane Jacobs. The Ontario government is clearly ignoring the importance of the city of Toronto to the economy of Ontario in its reckless amalgamation under Bill 103 and the legislation following it.
Dumping of social costs: The legislation following Bill 103, resulting in the transfer of 30% of welfare, 50% of family benefits, 75% of public health and 100% of public housing costs to the municipalities, shows the true foundation that Bill 103 has laid. Bill 103 and the legislation following it will result in dumping of social costs on Toronto. This will accelerate the urban decay that has started. Substantial increases in property taxes will cause further flight of business and residents from the city core.
Like many, I believe that reform of social services is necessary. The ideal reform is prevention of social ills rather than treatment of symptoms and results. The reality is that existing social programs must go hand in hand with reforms. Reform of social services does not start with their termination. The present Ontario government has been very strong in the termination of social services and negligent in the support and implementation of reformed social services. I ask you, will workfare jobs be created from the thousands of public service jobs to be cut in the new Metro?
Bill 103 and the environment: The city of Toronto has a high population density resulting in an energy-efficient and economic public transit system. Virtually all city services have a lower energy input and cost than the lower-density suburbs. To turn the tide on the environmental destruction that humanity is causing we need to uphold and strengthen the compact and efficient urban form of the city of Toronto.
Cars require huge inputs of non-renewable resources and reduce the quality of living through traffic accidents, the production of smog and the demand for valuable city space. Will dedicated transit and bike lanes be a priority in an amalgamated city? Will the needs of the car users win over the needs of the bike and transit users? Diluting the needs of the compact urban core with the needs of suburbs will serve the needs of neither. The needs of the core of the city will be lost in a move to an amalgamated city. Bill 103 is a direct attack on the compact urban form that must be nurtured if humanity is to survive.
Amalgamation and cost savings: In cities across North America, municipal amalgamation has resulted in higher costs. The only study that the Ontario government can cite to indicate lower costs is the one it commissioned. Savings, if they are eventually realized, will come from significantly reduced services. Bill 103 and the legislation following it will force increases on to property taxes needed to uphold social services.
Bill 103 and a better Toronto: Not. Many reports on the reform of municipal government in Metro Toronto have called for a need for reform or restructuring to build a better Toronto. None of these reports has called for the end of local democracy.
It is clear that the effects of Bill 103 and associated legislation will not create a better Toronto. Bill 103 will result in a lose-lose situation for both residents and those in the surrounding region who depend on a healthy city. Thank you.
Mr Len Wood: I was listening to your presentation. You've made a link between Bill 103 and the dumping of the costs of welfare, public health and housing costs. In your opinion, do you feel that people should be not only opposed to Bill 103 but should be taking strong action against the government's dumping of the other services and costs, and the fact that Mike Harris used to consider himself to be a Taxfighter and now a lot people have labelled him as a Taxhiker?
Mr Hanson: Absolutely. It's all part of the same package. I know we're here addressing Bill 103, but a number of the pieces of legislation all come together under the same focus.
Mr Len Wood: So you feel that the people should be taking a strong stand on dumping the other services?
Mr Hanson: Absolutely.
Mr Len Wood: Comments have been made, and in part of your brief you're making an important point, about how large corporations are less responsive than small businesses. Would that same thing apply to having a megacity compared to a number of smaller cities?
Mr Hanson: It certainly has been the case across North America, and the effects on the urban core have been negative. I think that's why we should be very cautious. In fact, we should be throwing this out.
Mr Len Wood: With the larger bureaucracy of a megacity the costs can go right through the roof compared to the costs of operating the seven governments now.
Mr Hanson: Yes.
Mr Len Wood: Very interesting. Why would they bring in Bill 103 if nothing good is going to come of it?
Mr Hanson: I guess, as others have already speculated, it's to punish the lack of political support in the Toronto area.
Mr Len Wood: Punishing Toronto to a certain extent.
Mr Hanson: Yes.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Hanson, for being here this evening.
The Vice-Chair: I'd like to call on Elise Houghton. Good evening and welcome to the committee. You may begin.
Ms Elise Houghton: Good evening. My name is Elise Houghton and I have been a resident of the city of Toronto since 1976. I came to this city because I was fortunate enough to be offered work here. I've married here, I own a home here and I've raised two children here. I have considered it a privilege to live in the downtown area of a city which is one of neighbourhoods and communities and a city which offers excellent public education for its remarkably diverse population. It is a privilege to live in a city which values its diversity, its cultural offerings, its economic opportunities, its green spaces and its many traditional values.
Now, like many of Toronto's citizens, I am very concerned about the future of our city. I have come here today to speak not about the abolishing of legislated boundaries between what we now call Toronto and Scarborough and York and North York and East York and Etobicoke but about the abolishing of our city as a place where we feel we are in our city.
It has been my experience that our city is a place which listens to its citizens and which works with its citizens to be a reflection of what they value most. As a parent I have found Toronto to be a place where children are important, with schools and a school board which are responsive to the many and varied concerns of the parents of its students. As a mother, I've tried to teach my children to place a high value on the exercise of democracy in our own city and in Ontario and in Canada. These are not privileges we take lightly.
Bill 103, which we have read, is a proposed piece of legislation that effectively removes the democratic involvement of the people of Toronto in decisions to be made about their city, except for this, which I'm not sure about. It places an unelected group of trustees and transition team members in control of what happens in our city for a period without a specified term. In this I refer to section 9(10), which states, "On or after January 31, 1998, the Minister may...dissolve the board of trustees." This could be construed to mean that even after the election of a new representative body of municipal counsellors, there is no guarantee that Toronto's elected representatives would be in a position to act in ways which reflect the wishes of the residents of what will be Canada's largest city.
I would like to speak briefly about finances. I am not in any way a financial expert, so I'll begin by quoting an Austrian economist called Joseph Schumpeter:
"Public finances are one of the best starting points for an investigation of a society. The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structures, the deeds its policy may prepare -- all of this and more is written in its fiscal history, stripped of all phrases. He who knows how to listen to the message here discerns the thunder of world history more clearly than anywhere else."
The deeds this government's financial policy proposes to prepare threaten to have a swift and profound effect on many people of Toronto. In spite of Minister Leach's promises quoted in the Toronto press that our property taxes will decrease, other analyses of the proposed exchange of education from property tax base and the downloading of major items such as public transit, local provincial road maintenance, sewage and water treatment, and the many important social services needed in our city, will require a substantial increase in the tax burden on municipal businesses and residents to cover the financing they require in order to provide even adequate service.
As a resident I am concerned that I will no longer be able to afford the property taxes on my home. As a human being I am concerned that in order to maintain existing infrastructure and city services, the so-called soft services or social services to the many people who need them will continue to evaporate, causing great human suffering. I believe that financial help to the disadvantaged, the abused, the poor, the recent and not-so-recent immigrants, and the unemployed who need training to help them in their efforts to rejoin the taxable is the responsibility of everyone in our province and not only that of the residents of a new and densely populated megacity where the disadvantaged may be obliged to come to seek help.
I will not speak today on what I see as a great upcoming lessening in the quality of our public education system due to loss of local control, loss of adequately paid, full-time school trustees responsive to the public and loss of vital services to many students in our highly diverse social and cultural school population, except to say that I believe our local property taxes should support local educational needs.
Lastly, I'd like to speak about the environment. I know this is not in Bill 103, but I think it's related. I've been closely involved with public environmental education for quite a few years, and I am very concerned about initiatives, both educational and governmental, which foster the protection of the health of the natural environment, which is essential to our future prosperity. Both we and our elected representatives, as parents of young people -- and that's you all, I assume -- who will be the citizens of the next generation, have an obligation to understand the relationships between economic and lifestyle choices and to exercise common sense and wisdom in planning for the future.
The present city of Toronto and many of its surrounding municipalities currently have a wide variety of funded initiatives which contribute to local environmental protection and the health of the ecosystems which support a healthy human population. Since the election of the current Ontario government, provincial legislation which protects the natural environment, and government staff who formerly worked to ensure the enforcement of environmental regulations, have been drastically cut.
I am very concerned, when the financial decisions for our new megacity will be made by appointed trustees of this government, that many hard-won local environmental initiatives currently under way here -- initiatives which contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, restoring the health of polluted waterways, increasing green space, protecting habitat, reducing chemical loadings and helping the public to participate in local environmental activities -- will fall through the cracks in the effort to finance the many other items our city will have to bear.
This government has demonstrated that it regards environmental protection requirements as "irritants" to provincial industry. It is a serious concern that it will equally see local environmental initiatives as irritants to our city, which it describes as an "economic engine." Environmental protection is not a cost, it is an investment, and it is one which many of us wish to see continue in the interests of a possible healthy future. We do not consider Toronto to be an "economic engine"; we think of it as our home, our community, the place we live, we raise our children, we help our neighbours and, yes, we work. Economics factors are important, certainly, but it is a well and increasingly demonstrated fact that economic activities do not flourish where the environment has been devastated. It is important to get the priorities straight.
In conclusion, I hope to remain a resident of the city of Toronto if I can continue to afford to do so. This is my children's home, and I wish for them that they will become reasonable, responsible, participating citizens in this wonderful city. The process of amalgamation of our cities and the proposed amalgamation of our school boards by a government which has stated that it does not wish to listen to us has provided us with a crash course in the workings of, and in some cases the failure of, democracy which will probably last our lifetimes.
I'd just like to end with a quote from a philosopher, John Ralston Saul, which you may have heard, because he can say it better than I can: "Democracy is simply about the nature of legitimacy and whether the repository of that legitimacy -- the citizens -- are able to exercise the power its possession imposes upon them. We are having great difficulty today exercising the power of legitimacy...nothing in our current crisis is untouchable because of great mystic forces of inevitability. Legitimacy is not a matter of mystics, but of practicality, as are the actions of a healthy democracy."
Mr Parker: Ms Houghton, thank you very much for your presentation. Thank you for appearing before us this evening. Thank you for assisting us in this process. Thanks also for quoting Joseph Schumpeter. I've attended many hours of hearings with this legislation and you're the first one who's quoted Schumpeter, who I've read quite a bit myself.
You professed not to have a great deal of expertise in financial matters, but you dwelt at some length on financial concerns and put forward a strong financial analysis. One of the arguments that's been put forward in favour of amalgamation is that it will yield financial benefits. Now, do you see these as not worthy of pursuing?
Ms Houghton: I suppose it depends on benefits to whom.
Mr Parker: The argument is that an amalgamated structure could do better for less, make more efficient use of public resources so that more services could be provided more effectively at lower cost to the taxpayers in the Toronto area. I'm interested in your comments.
Ms Houghton: I do not profess to be any kind of financial analyst, but everything I've heard from people who have tried to simply add up numbers and say, "The city spent X and we have this in property taxes and we have this much available at the moment," all the services which have been listed in various sources, which I'm sure you're aware of more than I am, seem to cost more than that. We're also assuming that our property taxes will not go down, although we read that in the paper, because it doesn't seem to add up, so if you can guarantee us that, that would be very nice, but --
Mr Parker: But if financial benefits are available, are they worth pursuing or are they irrelevant?
Ms Houghton: That depends on from what and to whom.
Mr Parker: You've listed a number of benefits that you've identified --
Ms Houghton: Can I make an intrusion here? I believe that financial benefits to business, which this seems to benefit, could be to our loss, and I'm not a businessperson.
Mr Parker: Tell me how business in particular is benefited.
Ms Houghton: I can only take the example of hearing that this government has done a great deal of work to make sure that benefits to business increase. I could go on, if you want, about cuts to environmental legislation which are big benefits to business. We seem to think that all the poor people in our city are going to be much poorer because of this. I know that we're going to have 25% cuts to my children's education. I haven't yet seen where we're going to win.
The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry I have to cut in; our time is up. Thank you very much for appearing, Ms Houghton.
The Vice-Chair: I would like to call on Laura Weintraub. Good evening, Ms Weintraub. You may begin.
Dr Laura Weintraub: I would like to thank this committee for the opportunity to be heard this evening. I trust that all other residents of the city and province equally interested in donating their thoughts, fears and ideas will also enjoy the same democratic entitlement. There has been some concern, as I'm sure you are aware, that this is a shadow consultation. I am here in a demonstration of faith in the abilities of a reasoned, diverse and resourceful populace to be heard, and with faith that our reasoning will actually be reflected in the actions of those who govern.
One of the fundamental principles of the agreement to be governed is transparency. We expect that the actions of government will not be hidden away in dank crevices, deprived of the light of public scrutiny. Those who govern do so at the pleasure of the governed. It is my understanding that the present government is obscuring our view of what is happening.
Bill 103 is a vehicle for drawing a curtain across what should be transparent. The purposeful design of laws that forbid public participation or representation, that suspend representation or scrutiny, has raised deep suspicion about governance now in Ontario. Bill 103 is not the only or first law that this government has written placing the province's governors beyond representation, beyond scrutiny, or beyond accountability. But Bill 103, as it stands, most severely suspends, deletes, cancels our very right to governmental transparency.
Perhaps some are not aware of the fact that the legislation grants enormous powers, including power over millions and millions of dollars, to a small and secret trinity -- and here I intend no reference to cowboys -- to so-called trustees, ensuring that they meet in secret, decide in secret, spend in secret and, in effect, govern in secret.
Next, the legislation grants enormous powers, including powers over mega-millions of dollars, to a small and secret transition team. They too will meet in secret, decide in secret, spend in secret, govern in secret.
I did not have the opportunity to exercise the right to vote for any of the appointed trustees, yet you believe I have the obligation to obey them and to pay taxes into a secret coffer. I will not have the opportunity to exercise the right to vote for any of the transition team appointees, yet you believe here too I have the obligation to obey them and to pay more taxes into a secret coffer. The coup de grâce is that Bill 103 shelters this secrecy from court review, purposefully. Why?
I wish to put you on notice that the government is about to shatter the principles that frame our agreement: the agreement of the governed and the governors, an agreement resting on democracy and transparency. Bill 103 disentitles me and others from enjoying representation, from our duty to scrutinize the expenditure of public money.
What is more pernicious, Bill 103 disentitles us from the safeguards of court review. If you proceed to break our agreement, I must reconsider my agreement to be governed by you. Either I have elected representation or I do not. Failing such representation, either the justice system and court scrutiny are respected or I too am freed from such scrutiny. In other words, we are a partnership, as uncomfortable as that may be for either party. But if this government dismantles the bricks and mortar of democracy, then I must consider that I and my neighbours are thereby released from our governance agreement. Surely this is not a dissolution that either party would want, for the alternative is an absence of civil society. The alternative to civil rule of law is the uncivil rule of -- what?
The trustees must not continue to operate and spend in secrecy, shrouded from the people, privileged from court review. The proposed transition team must not be permitted to operate and spend in secrecy, similarly shrouded and privileged.
At the very least, I still respectfully suggest that those sections of Bill 103 that shatter the civil agreement between us be replaced. I call on you to restore the principles of accountability, transparency, genuine legality, and democracy.
I am not aware that any recognized procedure has been followed to challenge the mental competence of those already elected to serve their municipalities, nor am I aware that any recognized process has been followed to investigate the implied criminal intentions of those representatives. What then is the justification for supplanting the elected with the appointed? Further, with the transition team, Bill 103 already challenges the mental competence and integrity of those to be mega-elected. What really is the justification for supplanting the to-be-elected with the to-be-appointed?
I can only imagine two motives that would cause you to leave this bill as is, to do your best to ensure that not even the courts may review what is done and allocated in secrecy. Motive one: fear. The government must fear what will happen if people see what is done, so the doors are closed, the windows are shuttered, those who know are gagged. Motive two: corruption. The government must be planning to aid and abet corrupt profiteering. If you are not frightened of those you govern, you do not cower from public scrutiny. And if you are above the crassness of corruption and profiteering with public moneys, you do not cower from the court's scrutiny.
The Statutory Powers Procedure Act sets out some very basic rules for public administration in this province. Those rules have to do with fairness. Very few would argue that our courts are a perfect system, but why does this government in Bill 103 take the explicit trouble to make reference to this piece of legislation, exempting the appointees from the very laws that address the fairness of public procedure? Is it the self-serving fear of the governors, or is it anticipated opportunities for corruption? It can only be one or the other.
There is not time here to address many other crucial aspects of Bill 103 and how it is, in effect, an act of destruction. I will not here speak to the issue of our communities' frail elderly and how the devolution of funding for long-term-care institutions will extend and deepen the misery of too many of our senior citizens when they are at their most vulnerable. We see what is happening to our elderly neighbours, family, friends; mega-government will not.
I will not speak about the stench of gratuitous child poverty here and how the devolution of social welfare will fray the last remaining strands of our collective wellbeing. We see what is happening to children and teens among our neighbours, family and friends. Mega-government will not see.
I will not speak to the greed-driven mantra of efficiency, the new religion that means savaging the very jobs of those who help care for our elders, for our children, for our daily landscapes. We see what is happening to younger adults, to adults once productive, among our neighbours, families and friends. Mega-government will not see this.
The slogan of efficiency over jobs has already intensified the misery of thousands of the newly displaced across this province and of those who are ill and frail and old and weak, the misery of those who would continue to care for them and those who would remain, if they could, active contributors yet who now face personal ruin. They are my neighbours and, I remind this government, they are your neighbours too. Their ruin is our ruin.
You think perhaps that Toronto is to be bear-baited. You have set an ugly leghold trap on what you appear to hate and now you have begun to gnaw at the trapped limb. You may succeed with your self-inflicted amputation. But make no mistake; it is your own body politic you are destroying. You need not continue to gnaw at the injured limb. Perhaps you have forgotten, you have the key to the trap. You can release yourself from this uncivil mess.
Historically, the rule of law in civil society replaced what? Do you know? I urge you to consider very carefully what you destroy here when you place the appointed over the elected, when you place your anointed ones outside the scrutiny of the public and beyond the reach of the court. Consider what is the alternative to representation, to accountability, to transparency and to court review. It is likely that you will either consider or experience the consequences for shrouding what belongs in the sunlight. I thank you for your attention.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Weintraub. I'd like now to call upon Ian Thompson.
Mr Gerretsen: Is there no time left to ask any questions?
The Vice-Chair: No. That was 10 minutes.
The Vice-Chair: Good evening, Mr Thompson, and welcome to the standing committee. You may begin.
Mr Ian Thompson: Madam Chair and members of the committee, my name is Ian Thompson and I'm a proud citizen of the city of Toronto. One of my concerns about Bill 103 is the fact that it is not a result of any advanced study or expert report. The government has not really investigated all of the problems and issues that go with such a megaproject. In fact, Bill 103 is not really a complete bill at all. It's only part of a bill on amalgamation and the rest will come when it's too late to avoid this mistake.
The government has decided that it will impose a unified city with a single council of 45 members and then its collective brain has come to a full stop at this point. The Ontario government has no idea how it's going to amalgamate all the different municipal departments and services throughout Metro and neither do we.
I personally believe that if the government took the time to investigate the actual situation and confront the details of amalgamation, it might realize that this whole idea is flawed and that it will mean a bigger, more expensive bureaucracy less able to deliver services and make decisions efficiently and effectively. The city of Toronto is big enough as it is, probably too big. Why compound the problem by a factor of six or seven?
The mega-council will be so powerful that political parties and special interests will vie for control of the council. What we'll end up with is really another provincial government within the province. Municipal government, that is, government of the local people by the local people for the local people, will be replaced by power groups and a mega-bureaucracy.
What a growing number of people are coming to realize is that the city of Toronto, which began as the little town of York and evolved into one of the most citizen-focused and creative cities in the world, will die with the passage of Bill 103. The city of Toronto will survive in name only, not in body or in spirit.
There is nothing in the bill which sets out how the government proposes to amalgamate, unify or coordinate all the different municipal departments and services now existing throughout Metro. The creation of a new 45-member legislative body is only the tip of the iceberg. The mega-dollar question is how the government plans to amalgamate all of the boards, administrative bodies and municipal employees and yet save money and maintain the same standard of efficiency and responsiveness to the needs of the citizens as the standards set by the city of Toronto, North York, Scarborough, York, Etobicoke and the borough of East York.
"The devil is in the details" is an expression which seems to have come out of this megacity debate. It simply means that the implementation of a plan itself may create its success or create a nightmare of chaos. The Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Honourable Mr Leach, claims that the new, unified city will save money and be more efficient, but how can he make this assertion without knowing the actual structure and organization of this new megalopolis?
Also, how can the Legislature of Ontario approve a bill which clearly indicates the government has no idea how it plans to amalgamate the various municipal departments and services, like parks and recreation, public works, sewage, water, garbage pickup and waste, building and planning, housing, health, welfare, other social services, care of the elderly, fire, ambulance and transit, and how can the Legislature of Ontario approve legislation where the government has handed over dictatorial powers to a transition team?
I direct your attention to one of the most undemocratic parts of this bill. Section 16(4)(a) says the transition team shall "consider what further legislation may be required to implement this act, and make detailed recommendations to the minister." Nothing wrong with that. Section (b) talks about considering restrictions on the amounts the new city can spend. Nothing wrong with that. Section (c) says the transition team shall "establish the new city's basic organizational structure," and then section (d) goes on and says that the transition team will hire "department heads and other employees as the transition team considers necessary to ensure the good management of the new city and the continuity of municipal services."
In other words, section 16(4)(c) gives these mega-czars power to decide the structure of the new city without democratic process and without a decision being made by duly elected representatives. Section 16(4)(d) gives the same transition czars the power to hire mega-managers, again without any democratic process and without duly elected municipal officials having any say in the matter.
This absolute power to decide and establish the new structure of the megalopolis amounts to an unjustified suspension of democracy. It is my suggestion that this committee recommend that section 16(4)(c) and (d) of Bill 103 should be struck out completely. If this is done, then the transition team will end up doing what should have been done in the first place, namely, studying this supercomplex problem, hold public consultations and then make recommendations to the minister as to the appropriate legislation and bylaws to give effect to this plan.
Then the minister should present to the Legislature the rest of the essential aspects of this plan. Instead, the minister is presenting the Legislature and the people of Toronto and Ontario with a fait accompli, a structure imposed on Metro Toronto by a few all-powerful persons who are not accountable to the people and are not even liable for their mistakes.
We all know the reason the government is resorting to these arbitrary measures is that it is pressing to have its megalopolis operational by January 1, 1998. Why the unseemly haste? We are not at war so why do we mindlessly accept this suspension of democracy?
Besides, haste makes waste. The implementation of Bill 103 ought to be postponed until the transition team has studied the whole problem and presented a detailed plan to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Legislature. Otherwise, the ministry and the government are getting away with an end run around the Legislature and an end run around the democratic process.
What we have here is a government guilty of urban planning without a complete plan.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you. We have about a minute and a half for questions.
Mr Gerretsen: It's too bad we only get a minute and a half. In any event, I'd like to congratulate you on your presentation and the other people as well.
As a former municipal politician -- I was one for 16 years -- I find it an affront that we hear that the reason the trustees have been set up is that somehow the elected people that we have now would somehow dispose of the assets. As everybody knows, if the elected people were ever to do anything, the government could, by a stroke of the pen, reverse anything that they did anyway. It's as if they were -- from what we heard earlier from the parliamentary assistant -- afraid that the elected representatives are going to pick up the buildings and take them to South America or something with them. Absolute nonsense.
Do you have any comments on the trustees and the fact that the elected politicians obviously aren't trusted any more?
Mr Thompson: I don't have any comment. I just didn't have time enough in my presentation to deal with that area. But I agree with the person ahead of me that the trustees and all the power that they have, plus the transition team, is a disgrace and a shame to our country. This is typical, I think, of the omnibus bill that we've seen before. It's the same sort of attitude to the whole process of democracy. It's a pain and something that you really don't want to put up with, so if you can find some way to get around debate in the Legislature and things like that, you pass 101 regulations or you pass laws to give trustees all sorts of powers and transition teams all sorts of powers so that nobody can look at them and criticize them.
I can't understand why this government feels so insecure that it has to do that because the polls seem to indicate it has some popularity. You get the impression from this government that they're worried they're going to lose the next election so they're going to have to force all these things in in the next year before they get turfed out.
That's the impression I get, that they want to impose this Common Sense Revolution on us before they are sent on their way.
Mr Gerretsen: I think you may be right.
The Chair: Mr Thompson, I hate to interrupt, but we've exceeded your allotted time. Thank you for coming forward and making your presentation to the committee tonight.
The Chair: Would Kimberly Badovinac please come forward. Good evening, Kimberly.
Ms Kimberly Badovinac: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill 103. Although I know that this standing committee has been flooded with requests, I want to impress upon you that for every one requester and each presenter, there are many more who share the same views and concerns. In this vein I would like to acknowledge the support of my family members, friends and co-workers who came here tonight.
The government uses the metaphor of "government as corporation." I am hoping that by using this same language and employing this same metaphor, you will understand and appreciate the message I have to share.
I would like to start with a quote: "The public be damned.... I don't take any stock in this silly nonsense about working for anybody's good but our own because we are not. When we make a move, we do it because it is in our own interest to do so, not because we expect to do someone else some good."
This statement was made by William Vanderbilt, the railroad tycoon, back in the late 1800s. It shows utter contempt for everyone but the corporate powers. What is really quite remarkable to me is that these very same sentiments are expressed in the language used by a late 20th century government.
Corporations which are leading edge, which are effective, which are successful would all agree that this is not the way business is done in today's world. In fact, if we were to look at this proposed legislation from the perspective of change management, we would see that it falls short of the "best practices" Mr Leach referred to in his presentation to you. The "command and control" management philosophy presented in this bill died long ago.
Change management is a process by which change is effectively accomplished. It is a process which ensures that the kinds of changes made will be of long-lasting value to an organization. Change management is really what this proposed legislation should be all about.
There are three key principles of change management that I wish to discuss tonight. The first is that effective change results when the people affected by the change are allowed to participate freely in the decision-making and in the outcome. In Metro we have an accumulated political experience among the mayors and councillors that far exceeds the political experience of the elected representatives of Queen's Park, especially as it pertains to local governance, yet the Conservative government has totally dismissed their views and continues to villainize them despite that fact that they are doing their jobs, namely, responding to the concerns of the constituents.
I find it ironic that Mr Leach depicted the mayors as protectors of their fiefdoms when in actuality this bill gives him absolutist powers as Minister of Municipal Affairs and gives enormous powers to appointed, not elected officials under the guise of protecting assets. Who does the province propose will pay for the salaries and expenses of these appointments? Why, the taxpayers of Metro. And to whom do these appointed officials report? Mr Leach.
Although Mr Leach stated repeatedly on Monday that we are here to discuss Bill 103 and only Bill 103, good managers do not think about issues in isolation. I cannot think of one professor at the Schulich School of Business where I am currently doing an MBA who would encourage budding managers and entrepreneurs to took at opportunities without considering their context. The right hand wants to know what the left hand is doing. If I'm the marketing manager, it is in my interest to understand and keep abreast of developments in production, accounting and sales. So Bill 103 cannot be discussed as a separate entity from the other reforms that are being thrust upon us.
The offloading of social programs and health care to municipalities will have a significant and detrimental impact on all of us and I think everyone in Ontario realizes this. Yet once again the very people, the citizens of Ontario, who will be affected have been repeatedly denied access to discuss their concerns with this government. One participant who attended a workshop I delivered in northeastern Ontario just last week posed the question, "What do you do when the government's doors are shut, shut, shut?" And those are all exclamation points. It is hard to give people hope when this government has shown time and time again that it has no desire to hear what average Ontarians, those directly affected by the proposed changes, have to say.
What do I worry about? Well, my father is in a nursing home here in Toronto. He's about the age of Mr Parker's father. He had a very serious stroke a few years ago and he is now in a wheelchair. I wish I could have brought him here tonight but it is a little too late for him and this side of the room it is proposed we have these hearings in is not very wheelchair-friendly. My sister and I selected a nursing home for him here in Toronto because there are few options in the Niagara area where we are from.
I thank my lucky stars each and every day that this city has a facility like Fudger House available. What will happen to my father when an amalgamated Toronto is overburdened by the downloading? What will happen when the transition team dictates spending rates that are insufficient to support the kinds of social and health care programs that my father and many other vulnerable people like him need?
What will happen to my brother Anthony who would love to be a homeowner, but will likely never be able to handle both a mortgage and a heavy property tax burden? Will he and other young people have to leave Toronto and relocate to other cities, perhaps other provinces?
What will happen to my friend Cathi who is a civic employee? What assurances are there in this legislation that her job will not vanish or be privatized? We are real people and of course we are suffering these real consequences. I doubt that the proposed neighbourhood committees, again not elected, are going to address these concerns.
Companies on the vanguard are companies that realize that healthy and happy employees are capital assets that improve the bottom line. Take Husky, for example. Based in Bolton, this company has implemented all kinds of innovative programs aimed at improving the health of their employees. The results: Absenteeism has gone down and productivity has gone up. What about Hewlett-Packard? They refused to get caught up in the downsizing frenzy and proceeded with alternatives like operational improvements and training and skill development opportunities to staff. Human capital has become their competitive edge. Think how enriched the public policy process would be if we listened to the diverse opinions of Ontarians. Think about how wonderful it would be if we could work together towards a purposeful and common agenda.
The second major tenet of change management is that effective change can only take place in an environment of open and honest dialogue and communication. When I sat here on Monday morning I listened to Mr Leach's presentation, searching and hoping for just one morsel, one shred of data which would support this proposed legislation. I guess tired dogma is the privilege of a majority government, because it was so full of hackneyed and trite platitudes that one had to ask "Where's the beef?" Despite the fact that the KPMG study has been resoundingly dismissed, it remains a fundamental data source for his assertions. He alludes to numerous studies but these have not been openly shared, and from what I gather they do not support the process outlined in this bill.
Now I know that Mr Harris has made much of the recent poll showing an upward blip in his popularity. What I would like to ask is, how much money was spent to finance this rather modest increase in popular support, that is, how many television and radio ads, how many flyers, how many midnight faxes did it take? A government with a truly progressive vision, with social good at the heart and essence of its public policies, would not have to resort to this kind of propaganda. They would be able to dialogue in an open way with their constituents.
The third and final proposal of change management is that change is best advanced in an incremental and staged process. The timetable proposed for this amalgamation is in my opinion far too ambitious and, as we all know, haste has a tendency to make great waste. Incremental change allows for attitudes to change in concert with practice; it allows for smoother transitions; it ensures greater buy-in; it allows for input along the way, all of which will benefit the final outcome.
There is a tremendous dearth of trust and faith in political institutions in this country. The survey data collected by Ekos Research in Ottawa demonstrates that Canadians have become very cynical about government and that this cynicism runs very deep. If we were to ask Canadians the question, "Would you be proud if your child became a politician?" many would answer, "No."
Henry Mintzberg from McGill has said, "Attacks on government are attacks on the fabric of society," but to truly respect political institutions, people need to feel respected by their elected representatives.
Successful companies are ethical companies, are those companies that take the moral high ground. In one of my courses at York, executives from General Electric came to talk to us about business practice. Did you know they regularly refuse to do business with countries whose practices contradict their ethical code? Sure, there are opportunity costs but they realize that adhering to their principles has a greater payoff in the long run.
In closing, Mr Chair and members of the standing committee, I believe you have an opportunity to make history. You can exercise heroic and ethical political leadership, and you know how much this is needed. You can send the message to the people of Toronto that you are not drones who toe the party line. You can really listen to the people making deputations, your constituents, your own hearts and minds. Conscientiousness is the moral style of leading-edge corporations. Things should be done for good reasons that can be explained and justified to others. A truthful and open and participatory approach should prevail.
I beseech you to vote with your conscience. Tell Mr Leach and Mr Harris that Bill 103 is simply unacceptable as it is. The principles of change management, as I have outlined, are required. It will take real courage but all of us are here to support you.
The Chair: Thank you, Kimberly. You've effectively used up your 10 minutes. Thank you for coming forward tonight and making your presentation.
Would Angela Slazak please come forward? If you'll just wait a minute, the clerk will see if Angela's in the hallway.
Mr Gerretsen: I would request unanimous consent to perhaps hear from some of the other people who are here, who undoubtedly may have something to say as well, Mr Chair. Since we have a few extra minutes, I'm sure we wouldn't mind listening to someone else.
The Chair: We have a formal cancellation policy which isn't in effect tonight, and seeing it's 9, we're not supposed to sit beyond 9 anyway, so I think I'm going to follow the motion passed in the Legislature that says we sit to 9. There will be a cancellation procedure that is in effect tomorrow, which actually the clerk may want to reiterate as we finish up for the night, just so people here who may want to get on a list through the cancellation process may have an opportunity.
Clerk Pro Tem: Between 8:30 and 9 every morning, we'll be collecting names of people who happen to be in the room throughout the day and are willing to take a cancelled time slot on next to no notice. This will be in effect until February 13, when anybody can just sign their names, after February 13, which is the cutoff date for oral presentations. We'll only be accepting cancellation names from people who have previously registered with the committee. It will be open every morning between 8:30 and 9 to take names from people who are willing to go on a standby basis.
The Chair: Thank you, committee, and thank you, audience for being respectful of the rules of the Legislature this evening. We'll recess until tomorrow morning at 9 am.
The committee adjourned at 2057.