STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES GOUVERNEMENTALES
Wednesday 9 April 2014 Mercredi 9 avril 2014
The committee met at 1604 in committee room 2.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I’d like to call the meeting to order. I’d like to welcome all members of the committee, from the three parties. We’re here again this afternoon to review the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games and the Pan/Parapan American Games Secretariat.
MINISTRY OF TOURISM,
CULTURE AND SPORT
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): This afternoon we have one witness before us. As always, according to the motion passed by this committee, we will have a first round of 25-minute rotation, followed by a 10-minute round of rotation. As the witness was requested by the official opposition, we will be starting with the official opposition, then the NDP and then the government.
This afternoon, we have with us, from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mr. Hersh Perlis, senior adviser to the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games in the minister’s office. Welcome, sir. You have five minutes for a presentation, followed by the line of questioning and comments.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Thank you, Chair. Good afternoon. My name is Hersh Perlis. I am the senior adviser to Minister Michael Chan on the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. I want to start off by expressing my appreciation to the opposition party for agreeing to this last-minute substitution. As was explained yesterday, due to a medical issue, Christine could not join us here today. Thank you, Mr. Jackson.
I assumed my role as senior adviser to Minister Michael Chan on March 11, 2013. I will do my best to answer the committee’s questions and to clarify issues to the best of my knowledge based on my time in this role. I note that I have provided to the Clerk copies of three documents for distribution, which I believe have been distributed a number of times but nonetheless may be useful if financial or jurisdictional questions arise this afternoon.
As a quick reminder, I would like to take a minute to review the various partners involved in the 2015 Pan and Parapan Am Games. The main organizer for the games is the Toronto 2015 Organizing Committee or TO2015. The organizing committee reports to its board of directors, which consists of four members appointed by the Canadian Olympic Committee, three members each appointed by the provincial government and the federal government, and one member each from the city of Toronto and the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
TO2015’s main responsibilities are to organize, plan, promote, finance, stage and conduct the games. This includes the sporting events and the ceremonies. To perform these duties, the organizing committee was given a $1.441-billion funding envelope, including operations and capital budgets. This $1.441-billion budget includes $500 million from the province of Ontario, $500 million from the federal government, $288 from various municipalities and universities and $153 million in self-created revenue.
I would point out that the organizing committee and federal government brought Infrastructure Ontario on board to oversee their main capital builds, which has led to tens of millions in savings. These savings have been updated in our recent technical briefing, with our forecasted TO2015 budget reduced by $49 million to $1.392 billion.
Those are the responsibilities of TO2015. The province, as the host jurisdiction, is responsible for:
—oversight for the provincial $500-million contribution to TO2015’s budget;
—funding and oversight of the athletes’ village project, which was first announced in 2009 and restated in our government’s most recent budget document;
—investments in provincial priority capital, including, in Mr. Miller’s home town of Hamilton—he’s not here today—the new Tim Hortons Ti-Cat stadium;
—creating and investing in Ontario’s promotion, celebration and legacy strategy;
—negotiating agreements with municipalities for delivery of municipal services; and
—planning and coordinating provincial services, which include transportation, security, health and emergency management.
These host jurisdictional responsibilities are common in multi-sport games throughout the world.
The document I have provided outlines the cost associated with each of these host jurisdictional responsibilities. This chart has been provided in each of our previous technical briefings and will continue to be updated quarterly. This commitment is in line with hosting the most open and transparent multi-sports games ever, one that the province takes great pride in.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind the committee that, while the minister oversees all the host jurisdictional responsibility, clearly when it comes to specific areas—for example on security, MCSCS and the OPP would be the lead ministries.
Once again, thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee. I am happy to take any questions you may have and answer them to the best of my ability.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Perlis. We will move to Mr. Jackson, from the opposition.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you very much for coming on, I imagine, short notice for yourself as well. It goes both ways; I understand that. I understand that things happen sometimes, and that’s just the way it goes. No worries there. Again, thank you for showing up today.
I’d like you to start off by maybe giving us a little more in-depth idea of your role as a senior adviser. Who exactly do you advise? On what? How often? Do you brief the Premier? Can you give me an example, an encompassing idea of what your responsibilities are? I want to get an idea of the chain of communications there.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I am a senior adviser to the minister, Minister Michael Chan. In that role, I am basically his eyes and ears on the file. I would work very closely with the deputy minister’s office and all the ADMs who have appeared here as well, as well as liaising with people on the organizing committee, the federal government and all the various stakeholders and partners.
In terms of briefing the minister, as everyone knows around the table, this is a very complex file. We are constantly in contact with the minister all the time, every day. Unfortunately, it takes up a lot of time. It’s lots of face-to-face meetings, on the phone, whatever the issue is, whether we need meetings with external stakeholders and all that. There’s no set “You get 10 minutes a day” or anything like that. It’s a very open-door process.
You asked about briefing the Premier. The Premier has her own office, so she would have, I guess, people in her office who would brief her on a more constant basis. But when the minister does go in to have conversations, sometimes he’ll bring in staff and so I’ll also go there.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Part of what I think has been a challenge for just about everybody, including the media and maybe even for you guys, is trying to figure out what the lines of communication really are, generally speaking. I think it’s probably the biggest challenge in a complicated games structure like this, and probably is for any games.
Something I struggle with a little bit—and you mentioned it yourself—is that there are different ministries responsible for different elements of the games. It’s my understanding and you used the—I can never get this right. The MCSC?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: MCSCS.
Mr. Rod Jackson: —MCSCS as an example. The Ministry of Transportation might be another example, responsible for transportation. I think, at the end of the day, it’s probably fair to say that it belies your ministry and Minister Chan’s ministry to be the spokesperson responsible for the games and all goings-on therein.
Can you explain to me how that chain of communication happens? Security and transportation are two of the biggest elements and two of the biggest costs associated with these games, yet it’s very difficult for us to get detailed answers from your ministry because you’re not responsible for it. I would think that it would be something that you should have a fairly in-depth knowledge of. Can you explain to me what the relationships are between you, specifically, and the other ministries? We know that there are several other ministries outside of transportation and security. How do you manage that and what is your relationship there?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: As you pointed out, it’s not just the two ministries. The Pan Am Games are definitely a government-wide priority and so almost every single ministry is involved somehow, whether it be promoting the games or some of those different legacy projects. As you pointed out, MCSCS and MTO are probably the two most important ministries outside of MTCS that we deal with.
The minister is the minister of the Pan Am Games and he is responsible for everything, but when it comes to expertise, you always have to rely on the experts. Obviously, when it comes to security, we rely heavily on the OPP and the MCSCS. What that means is, when it comes to planning for those files, they take the lead and work closely with the minister to keep him in the loop, but when you get into the specific details of it, they’re the experts. They live and breathe security and so they would be expected to answer all the details. The minister would have an overview of everything that’s happening. He would certainly have a say. He’s briefed every time something changes, but you have to rely on the experts to plan the games.
The same thing would go for transportation. We released the transportation strategic framework on March 14. It’s a 400-page document. Did the minister write the 400 pages? Did he have influence over every single aspect? No, but he would certainly be very well briefed on the big issues. He would have a say on it before it went public. That being said, the ministry at MTO and the minister would be the ones headlining that. If you’re going for approval to cabinet or to treasury board or whatnot, the minister would be sitting there, but so would the other members and they would be presenting.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Who would you say has the overall responsibility for the games? You mentioned earlier in your comments that Minister Chan is responsible for everything Pan Am. Where does the buck stop? With projects like this, certainly in the private sector, the buck stops at somebody. In this case, we haven’t really been able to determine where that buck stops.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: It’s a very complex games. I wouldn’t say I ever said that everything Pan Am is the minister. I would say that for all Ontario tax-funded programs, the buck stops with the minister. Again, he can’t answer for security, but he certainly is apprised of it, and he will answer what he can. But if you’re looking for specifics, it would go to security.
He takes full responsibility over Ontario taxpayer dollars, but the fact is that there are other partners in it. There is the federal government, who is putting in $500 million. There are 15 municipalities and several universities who are putting in $288 million. Then there’s obviously the COC, who has the most seats on the board.
There are a lot of different partners, but I don’t think the minister would ever say that. He answers for what he’s responsible for, and that would be all Ontario host jurisdictional responsibilities.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Help me understand the relationship between the federal government—I understand it’s $500 million and most of that was for infrastructure and capital builds. Was that federal $500 million—I’m not making a statement; I’m asking a question, just to be clear for the government side here. That $500 million: Was the majority of that money put and delivered through procurements done by Infrastructure Ontario? In other words, did that $500 million go to Infrastructure Ontario for deployment?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t want to comment to say that—I’m not sure where you’re trying to go. Are you trying to say did it flow through the organizing committee, or did it flow through Infrastructure Ontario?
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’m just trying to find out—
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I’m not sure exactly how the money flowed, but Infrastructure Ontario is responsible for the largest projects when it comes to the Pan Am Games. The way the funding works for the federal government, with some exceptions, is that they would put up 60% of the capital, and the municipality and the university puts up 40%. So depending on what the project is, I’m not sure how the money flows, but that’s essentially where it is and where the vast majority of the federal money goes. They are responsible for other aspects of it, but that’s—if you’re talking about capital projects, it’s basically a 60-40 breakdown. But capital flow—I wouldn’t be the right person to answer that.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. I’m going backwards a little bit in our conversation. How often would you say you are briefed by the other partner ministries? You mentioned earlier almost all ministries are involved in some way or another. Certainly that’s not totally—I mean, I’m not calling you a liar; I’m just saying certainly there are some that probably wouldn’t be.
I’m asking you two questions: How many ministries are involved in the delivery of the games, and how often are you briefed by them or briefing them?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: In terms of how many ministries, I’m really not lying when I say it would probably be very difficult to find a ministry that’s not involved or will not be involved with the Pan Am Games. For instance, obviously, aboriginal affairs plays a very big part in it, because we have a number of aboriginal partners of the games. Whether it’s at energy—and we’re looking at ways to maybe put on energy bills a stamp that says “Pan Am Games.” We’re really working with so many different partners, whether it’s at MAG—I don’t want to give away all the secrets, but maybe we’ll be putting flyers or whatnot in courthouses and stuff like that. So to put a number on how many ministries were involved with it, it really is—P/PAGS was created to be the coordinating entity for all of the government. I wouldn’t want to say any ministries aren’t involved. I’m sure there are some, but it really is a government-wide priority, and everyone’s getting involved. For the vast majority, it’s not going to be costing money. So almost every ministry is involved.
In terms of the key partners—the MTO, the MCSCS—how often am I briefed? It depends on what issue we’re talking about. Before March 14, when the strategic framework was coming out, there were a lot more briefings. With MCSCS, we had nothing to do with the RFP, but once the RFP was complete, they came in and briefed us on the process and we had some questions. Then they came back and came back. It was kind of a relationship like that.
Myself, it depends on what is coming. It’s a very complex file, so it depends on the week, on the month of what’s happening. But there is certainly lots of flow between us and different members of the staff.
Mr. Rod Jackson: In the past, there’s been probably some confusion, if not within the Pan Am organization then certainly within the media and the public, about how much the games are really going to cost. Part of that came around because of the confusion about the $1.4-billion budget and then the realization that there’s actually money allocated to the Pan Am Games from different ministry budgets à la the athletes’ village or other projects.
So if you have all these ministries out there, specifically MCSCS—I never know how many CSs there are in that—and the Ministry of Transportation, we’re talking about significant budgets coming out of these ministries, and we know that probably health has a certain budget attached to it as well. Are there other surprises out there for us? Is there other money being budgeted and put towards the Pan Am Games coming from other ministries’ budgets that isn’t being shown?
I’m not saying it’s being hidden—I don’t know—but what I am asking is, is there more money out there that we don’t know about that is actually attached to the Pan Am Games that we should know about?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: The sheet that everyone has from the technical briefings, which was updated on—March 14, I think, was the last technical briefing: These are the costs of the Pan Am Games. So the top would be the TO2015 budget of the $1.441 billion, which we forecast to be lower by $49 million because of certain capital savings, so $1.392 billion. Then, if you look at the province, you’ll see the $1.031 billion to $1.069 billion. Those are the costs of the Pan Am Games as we have it.
Are there other costs? Not that we forecast right now. If there are, we will be totally open and transparent about it and it will go on this sheet.
As I said, it’s a priority of the government; the Pan Am Games is a key priority of the government. That means that other ministries, as I’ve mentioned, are getting involved in the games, and if they are able to find unique ways, such as—I think we’re looking at this, as energy, putting stamps on energy bills and stuff like that. If it’s not going to cost additional dollars, you’re not going to find it here. If they have to go to treasury board and find additional dollars to do something for the Pan Am Games, you’re going to find it here.
So if they are going and they are looking for additional dollars, it’s on the sheet. If they are able to do it from within budgets that have already been allocated, then that’s what it is.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’ve asked different—and you’ve been here for this. I’ve asked different guests, for lack of a better term, about the zero in the health column.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’ve had various answers on it, varying from “I don’t know” to “It’s up to the Ministry of Health, and that number hasn’t been disclosed yet.” I don’t know. It may not be anything—in other words, it may be insignificant—but it may be significant. I don’t know. Help me with that.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: My understanding—and I would get someone from health in here to give the best information. My understanding is that something like health would be something where they’re finding money within to do certain things, but for the most part they are not doing above and beyond.
So it kind of goes back to our municipal service agreements. Let’s say there’s a TTC bus that runs every day. If they’re not adding new TTC buses, we’re not going to pay for new TTC buses. If they could fit 30 people where normally there’s only 20 people, and now we can add an additional 10, we’re not going to offer to pay for those additional 10. But if there’s above-and-beyond costs, that’s what the province would be responsible for.
My understanding is, that’s the same with health or with anything else. If there’s above-and-beyond costs, you would find it here. If there are costs that are just regular costs that wouldn’t be included, then you would find it there. So I’m not sure what health costs there would be, but my understanding is there’s nothing above and beyond what they would have already budgeted for.
Obviously, in terms of athletes and stuff like that, my assumption would be they are responsible for their own insurance. They wouldn’t get publicly funded Ontario dollars from other countries. So—
Mr. Rod Jackson: That kind of leads me to another question. Sorry; how much time do I have, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Just over nine minutes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. So if the Ministry of Health has, for the sake of argument, let’s say, a $1-billion budget—I know it’s significantly more than that, but—
Mr. Hersh Perlis: It’s $48 billion.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes. I’m just trying to keep it in simple terms. If there’s a billion dollars there and you’re saying that some of that money may be distributed, deployed, for Pan Am Games purposes—even though that money is already in their budget, it is being allocated for something for the Pan Am Games—shouldn’t that be included in here and shown? Because it’s being taken away to use somewhere else, right? That money for use for the Pan Am Games, even though it’s in their budget, has got to be coming from somewhere else within their budget. Shouldn’t it be shown?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t know how health’s budgets work. I assume that it’s quite specific where budgets go.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Fair enough.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t want to say how they’re budgeting, but—what’s a good example? I think the buses are a perfect example, and also garbage collection. If you’re already doing it and it’s not an additional cost, then it’s not costing anyone any additional money. If there are additional costs to do it, then it will be put onto this list. I don’t know the examples of health, unfortunately, because, frankly, it’s at zero dollars so it hasn’t been a big issue for us, and it seems to be moving along great.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’ll be honest with you: The zero concerns me a little bit. The fact that it’s there and showing zero just leads me to believe that there’s clearly going to be some expenditure there, and I just want to know what that number is going to be. If it’s already included in their budget, that’s fine; it’s not going to increase the cost of the games. But it’s still money being allocated to the games and therefore should be—that’s just where my concern comes. I understand that you can’t speak for the Ministry of Health.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: We ask everyone for their numbers, and that’s where we get that. Health is saying that there are no additional costs to them, and so that’s what we’ve portrayed here. As I’ve said, if anything changes, it gets updated quarterly.
Mr. Rod Jackson: On that note, though, why is MTCU not included on that list? They have a fairly significant OSAP forgiveness-for-volunteers program that’s going to cost a significant amount of money, and I’d be surprised if that was actually included in their numbers at all. We’re talking about millions of dollars here, potentially. Why isn’t it here? If it is money included by your own definition of how these things are done, even at zero, why are they not included on this list?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: That’s a good example where they approached us. Again, I have no clue how their budgeting works. They approached us and understood that one of the priorities of the government was the Pan Am Games, and they said, “You know what? We would love to help out.” I assume they already have money that isn’t being fully used, and so they said they can come out and support students to get involved with the games. As we all know, it’s volunteer week this week—we just announced the volunteerism. I think we’re up to 5,500 volunteers who have signed up already, in three days, so very impressive. They approached us and said, “We would love to get behind this, and we can offer OSAP”—I think it’s a one-year offer or whatnot. That was a great example of it not costing them any more money—they’re not going to the treasury for additional funds—and it’s a great way to encourage students from across the province to get engaged with the games.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. How am I doing for time?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Over five and a half minutes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. I’m going to shift gears a little bit. There has been some concern—I’ve asked this question before; you’ll be familiar with it—about the lack of French language accessibility, for lack of a better word. That’s been something that has raised some warning flags for some people. Not only that, but certainly there have been some issues with people with disabilities as well, and aboriginal people not being included or consulted in a fulsome way.
Can you tell us what is being done to make sure that people from Latin America and French-speaking areas in the Pan-American area and people with disabilities—we’re talking about everybody—that it’s really, truly going to be an inclusive games? We’re seeing some early warning signs that could probably be corrected now if the correct action is taken. What can you tell me that would allay any fears that we’re not going to have a completely inclusive games in that respect?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: On the French language issue, my understanding is that it came from a letter to the organization from a federal department. I can tell you that my federal colleagues have never contacted me and said they were concerned that there wasn’t enough being done for the French language. We’re 15 months out. Is everything going to be perfect? No. But that was the first I heard of it, when it was in there.
I think they probably want to make sure that everything is staying on course. My guess is that was kind of a reminder that it’s important to all of us, as it is important to this government. Vancouver seemed to have some issues around that, so I think that was just kind of a reminder, but I don’t think there is an issue with that. If there is—again, the federal government has not contacted us and said, “We really have to keep an eye on this.” I don’t think that is an issue.
Some of the other questions in terms of First Nations, the Hispanic community, accessibility—I would say they’re all very different issues. But we call it the people’s games. It’s a great opportunity. The legacy that is going to be left here for every single community is actually quite amazing.
In terms of accessibility, the government is doing a lot of different things, but I’ll just go back to volunteer week because honestly I think the number one legacy of the games will be the 20,000 volunteers who get trained for these games. Part of that training is going to be an accessibility component. Is that the only thing we’re doing? Absolutely not, but if you look at every single legacy piece of these games, you’ll find a piece that fits in with a whole bunch of different groups. So the volunteers, they’ll soak up a lot of this stuff.
I went to the Vancouver Olympics and, besides going to the gold medal game, which was obviously the highlight of my life besides my two kids and my wife—everyone remembers the blue jerseys on with the volunteers and they were there smiling. We’re very proud of these volunteers and they are going to get trained in accessibility. They are going to get trained about the different communities. We’re very proud of that.
More on the accessibility: I’m told—I won’t guarantee this—if you picked up the athletes’ village and put it anywhere in Canada, it would be the most accessible area in all of Canada. That’s a great legacy that we are leaving behind. Again, we have more announcements, more celebration, more legacy announcements that we’ll do around all these different communities.
But it’s a complex games and I don’t think you are ever going to keep 100% of everyone happy. Frankly, they keep us sharper. But we’re confident in the plans that we have. We love our PCL plan and we think everyone is doing a pretty good job.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): One minute and 34.
Mr. Rod Jackson: One minute. Okay. I’m not going to be able to cover any more ground probably in one minute, so I’ll cede the minute. Thank you very much for—well, I guess we’ll talk in the second round.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Mr. Jackson. We’ll move to the third party. Ms. Sattler.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you for joining us here today and for taking our questions. Before I get into the other questions I had, I wanted to actually just carry on a line of questioning that was started by Mr. Jackson. I understand and appreciate the transparency of including health in this budget table with zero dollars to indicate that they are involved in funding parts of the games, but it’s being captured by their current budget. But why only health? You mentioned that pretty much every ministry is involved in some way, and you talked about TCU in particular. Why don’t we see all of the ministries that have zero dollars—that are using their own budget to contribute to the games? Why aren’t they listed on this budget table?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I think the answer to that would be that health, in general, because of the size of the games, the 250,000 volunteers and 41 nations coming here, would play a larger role. I think they have planning exercises and whatnot. If there would be a cost, I think it would be more significant if one came about in terms of—as I said, MAG opening up a courthouse and putting brochures in there wouldn’t cost them anything. OSAP is a relatively small amount, which, again, they found totally from within.
I think in terms of health, maybe this is a way that we’re saying we are keeping our eye on it. But I couldn’t actually tell you. Maybe it’s just easier than not throwing every single ministry there and showing zeroes. I don’t know.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes, it just seems odd that that one ministry was selected to be displayed on this table as a zero, rather than other ministries. But that’s something you can take back.
Just talking about your role within the minister’s office, do you have other responsibilities, or are you assigned just to the games?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I am just responsible for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Are there other staffers in the office who are assigned just to the games?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, I am the only staff just assigned to the games. Then, just like in every other minister’s office, there would be communications staff, legislative assistants and whatnot, who would cover all aspects of their portfolio—tourism, culture and sport—but I would be the only one exclusively on the Pan Am Games.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Who do you report to, then? Is there a chief of staff?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I would report to the chief of staff.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: And through the chief of staff to the minister?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I wouldn’t say through the chief of staff to the minister; I don’t want to make it seem like that. I would report to the chief of staff, but I would say my briefings are directly with the minister.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: You mentioned in your earlier description of your role within the minister’s office that one of your responsibilities was to liaise with the organizing committee. Can you elaborate on that a bit? What does that involve? Do you attend meetings of TO2015? What form does that liaison take?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: In terms of meetings, not very many meetings—not a board meeting or a different committee meeting. Once a week, I would have a phone call—before it was with Peter Donolo; now it’s Amir Remtulla—just to update on what’s happening within the organizations and make sure that we’re all on the same page. Outside of that, it depends on if there needs to be a meeting on a certain topic, but nothing scheduled.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Do you have a specific person at TO2015?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: It would be their government relations person.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay, so with the government relations person there. Since you began your position in the minister’s office in March 2013, has this been pretty much the structure, that you’ve had these weekly phone calls with TO2015?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. They’re supposed to be weekly. Things happen, and sometimes they get pushed off. But yes, certainly, there is a key contact there, and then, obviously, we would have conversations with many other people. If we wanted to get updated on sponsorship, the head of sponsorship would come in and brief us, and I would have meetings with them. For any detail that we’re looking for, we would have meetings with various people within the organization. But on a constant basis, if I had a quick question, I would reach out to their government relations person.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: You also said that you liaise with the federal government. Would that be less frequently? Is your main contact with TO2015?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes, that would definitely be less frequently.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: As needed?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes, as needed. There’s nothing set up constantly. As needed, we will contact each other. It would be my counterpart in Minister Gosal’s office. It’s actually a good relationship that we have with our federal counterparts, so it’s probably unique within the government.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: You liaise with the political staff in the federal minister’s office, and there’s no liaison on the bureaucratic side?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t liaise with the bureaucratic side federally, but certainly P/PAGS and the feds are in constant contact, for sure.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Speaking of P/PAGS, what’s your involvement with P/PAGS? Or is it just with TO2015?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, no, it’s definitely much more with the civil service. I’m constantly in touch with the deputy minister’s office and all the ADMs who have been here; we have meetings on all the topics that they are covering. They’re definitely our point people.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Would you be spending as much time at P/PAGS as you are in the minister’s office?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Our offices are kind of right next door to each other.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I work in the minister’s office, but they’re right across the hall.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Right across the hall; okay. Do you expect your role and the kind of liaison activities that you’re involved in to change as the games get nearer?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No. This is the role that we play.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: You’ll just continue to do this liaison, briefing, that kind of thing? Yes. Okay.
Have you or other members of the minister’s staff had any interaction with the integrated security unit at MCSCS?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No. Frankly, the first time I met the deputy commissioner was at the technical briefing, or preparing for the technical briefing. No, we don’t interact with the ISU. P/PAGS, I believe, has representation there or attends some of their meetings, but we would not get involved with that. Again, once their plans would be finalized, they’d bring it to us to brief us.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: You mentioned that the minister’s office was briefed about the MCSCS RFP after the decision had been made. Did a recommendation on the RFP come to the minister’s office? You said you asked some questions.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No. A recommendation did not come to us. When we found out about the RFP, I don’t even think they mentioned the name of the company. They just mentioned what it entailed, because the RFP went out and then it came back. They basically, at a very high level, told us what the cost would be and what the cost drivers were. Again, I think what they were talking about was best practices learned from London and other situations.
We never heard of the company. Actually, I think Mr. Miller mentioned the company before; I’d never even heard of it. No, it was very much led by the OPP and MCSCS.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So they came to brief the minister’s office that the RFP process had been completed and that a vendor had been selected. They didn’t mention the name of the vendor, but they talked about—
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Not “they.” MCSCS did not come to our office and brief us. It would have been P/PAGS, so the ADM. It would have been the deputy and the ADM, Tim Casey, who would have come to us and given us an update.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: And the nature of that briefing: Am I correct that they just said, “Here’s what was in the RFP. There was a successful vendor and here’s the cost”? You said they didn’t mention the successful vendor’s name?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, they didn’t mention the successful vendor’s name. I think they basically told us the cost, then they told us some of the cost drivers that would have been included.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Around the reason that it was $81 million or whatever.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Right.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Have you ever worked with any of the other members of TO2015 outside of your current position?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: TO2015? No.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes, the executives who were on TO2015. So your first experience with those people was after you assumed your current position.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes, when I started here, I had met people at TO2015. I didn’t know any of them before.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: How about the OPP or anybody involved with the ISU? Have you ever had previous interactions or working relationships with—
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No. As I said, I met the deputy commissioner. I think it was a week before the technical briefing on March 14. We came in just to do a dry run. That’s when I met the deputy commissioner of the OPP. I couldn’t tell you anyone else who would be involved in the ISU.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: In terms of communicating information back to the minister about the work of these other organizations like the OPP, the ISU and TO2015, how does that work? Do you have one of these weekly phone meetings where you’re briefed, and then you brief the minister on an as-needed basis? Is there a formal structure of briefings?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: There’s generally not—there are two parts. The formal structure is that if there is a certain thing that we need the civil service to brief the minister on, if it’s a more complex issue and stuff like that, then we’ll set up a meeting with him and he’ll go in and get briefed by the ADMs and the deputy. But generally, on a daily basis, it would be me walking into his office or walking into the House, pulling him out of House duty and just updating him on various issues.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So for the sort of more routine things, you get briefed by P/PAGS and then pass that along to the minister. For the bigger issues, P/PAGS comes and briefs the minister directly?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. For the more complex issues, he would need more of an in-depth briefing and in-depth knowledge of it, and obviously for bigger decisions, if he would have to make bigger decisions, he would get a formal briefing.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay. Can you tell us, how frequently does the minister meet with the MCSCS minister to discuss Pan Am Games issues, given that security is a big component of the games?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: They obviously meet outside of us when they’re in cabinet and caucus and all that.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Formally, at different points, when there’s bigger decisions, or say we’re about to go to treasury board or cabinet, we’ll have meetings together, but it wouldn’t be on a weekly basis. Again, Minister Meilleur at the time and now Minister Naqvi would be responsible for the security and putting together the proper plan through the OPP—obviously leading ISU. Then they would come to us. We are there to support them, but again the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport isn’t going to give his input on what he thinks is an appropriate security plan.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So does P/PAGS go to brief those other key ministers, like MCSCS, MTO, infrastructure? The relationship between Minister Chan and the ministers who are in charge of those other ministries—when they have a significant role in the planning and delivery of the games, how are they briefed?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: P/PAGS plays the coordinating role for all of government. If we’re focused on security, Tim Casey would be our liaison into MCSCS, so he wouldn’t have to brief Minister Naqvi on security because it’s his ministry and the OPP who are leading the security planning. P/PAGS wouldn’t be briefing them. It would be their officials who would then brief Tim Casey.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Okay.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: It wouldn’t be vice versa. Then they would come and brief us.
Frankly, on transportation, we would have a much more formal, longer briefing with the minister because that’s a plan that—again, we posted a 400-page document online. It’s a very complex strategic plan, whereas, frankly, security is probably the province’s number one priority when it comes to these games, and the minister isn’t going to pretend to be an expert on security. He’s going to trust the OPP and, through the OPP, Minister Naqvi. He’s not going to need every single detail, so it would be a lot less of a briefing and more of an overview where, again, transportation is a much more in-depth plan that he can get more behind.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So there haven’t typically been specific meetings that are organized with Minister Chan and the ministers for these other ministries, say, infrastructure or transportation?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Transportation and security—on a number of occasions, the three ministers have gotten together just to talk about the file, because they are two other main ministries involved in putting on the games in terms of the host jurisdictional responsibilities.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: So there have been meetings with the three ministers?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: There have been a handful of meetings with those three ministers, just to talk about the file and how to move ahead. But those meetings would be more to make sure everyone is on the same page and not necessarily—again, we’re not going into the specifics of the RFP. That has never happened.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: And what about the Minister of Infrastructure? Is he—
Mr. Hersh Perlis: It’s the same minister.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Oh, okay; that’s right.
How about the ISU? The minister doesn’t meet specifically with the OPP or the ISU?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Never.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: They meet with P/PAGS, and then P/PAGS meets with the minister?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. Again, security is kind of a different beast than transportation. We exclusively have to leave security to the experts. So the minister does not really play a role when it comes to how we should be planning for security. That’s a priority that we’re not going to get involved with. When it comes to transportation, we have had officials from MTO come and brief the minister because it’s more appropriate to get into the nuts and bolts of the transportation plan as opposed to the security.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: As the senior adviser, do you participate in these meetings when the ministers meet?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes, I have participated in a number of meetings. Again, if he’s meeting at a cabinet table, just with the three of them, I’m not going to be there, but when it has been a formal get-together, then yes, I’ve been at the table.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Are there other staffers involved in these meetings? Are there staffers assigned to the Pan Am Games in the other ministries as well?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: In the other ministers’ offices?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: One of their jobs would be the Pan Am Games, but it would be one of, I would assume, a dozen other files that they have. There’s definitely no one in another minister’s office whose only file is the Pan Am Games. I am that person. Other people in other ministries, I assume, would have 10, 12, 15 other files that they deal with, Pan Am being one of them.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Going back to the security contracts, we’ve been told that there are actually two security contracts. There’s the big one that the OPP and the ISU have already awarded, but then there’s the smaller one that TO2015, I think, has issued. You talked about the minister receiving a briefing about the awarding of the external security contract. Has the minister had any involvement or knowledge of the internal security contract? I think it’s an RFI.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t want to confuse the minister getting briefed on the outcome of the RFP. It was quite limited, the big one. In terms of this other RFI—I believe it was also an RFI—that is being conducted by the organizing committee. It’s already coming out of their budget. It’s part of their budget. It’s not part of the overall security budget. It has already been budgeted for. He has not been briefed on it.
I’ve been very highly briefed, as much as was told to the committee last time, as much as the Chair allowed. It’s not our responsibility. They have put out the RFI and it’s part of their budget. Again, it’s a very different piece. It’s kind of protecting the assets—the medals, the equipment. It’s very different than what our RFP was.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Have there been further briefings about the progress of the external security or the public safety security contract that has been awarded? There was just that one briefing about the process?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: To the minister or to myself?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes, with the minister.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, it has not been a big topic for us. Again, it is led by the OPP through MCSCS and their minister, and so they’re the ones who have been overseeing the process and they’re the ones, I believe, who have been answering the questions in the House. Again, especially when it comes to MCSCS and security, it’s very much led out of their ministry. It has not been a topic that we’ve been briefing the minister on, just the current events.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Were any concerns ever expressed by the minister about the rising costs of security, the increase in the security budget?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes, it would be the same as everybody else. When you find out that there is an increase that you weren’t expecting, you are surprised and you start to ask questions, so that’s what would have happened. It would have been like, “Why did these costs escalate?” and then we would have gotten the same answers that the deputy commissioner would have given at the technical briefing.
Frankly, a lot of it had to do with the London Olympics. The RFP was sent out before the London Olympics, and at the London Olympics, frankly, the private security, to my understanding, wasn’t prepared; they couldn’t get enough people and that forced them to hire people from the army, to bring in the army, which was very expensive. They actually, I believe, called in the CSC—I think that’s what they’re called—to help them out and get them out of the mess.
From lessons learned there, to make sure that we don’t run into those processes, is, in my understanding, what drove some of these costs. When we found out the increased number, obviously we started to ask questions and that’s what was expressed to us. That would have been the briefing that I’m talking about. It wouldn’t have gone into the specifics of the RFP.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: That’s been the only briefing that the minister has had, except maybe to prepare for question period?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Specifically on that?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. Again, it’s very much a process that was led out of MCSCS, with the OPP taking control of it. Yes, absolutely.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: In your opinion, if the costs for security continue to increase, do you think the minister would be prepared to intervene, to raise concerns?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Unfortunately, you weren’t at the technical briefing, but at the technical briefing—it’s actually quite nicely laid out. The cost is $239 million. We went through what the cost drivers are and what the potential future cost drivers are. At this point, I believe every single venue is set. The celebration zones are set. This most recent RFP, the largest one, is, I believe, finished, so the main cost drivers are complete.
What are the cost drivers now? There are municipal service agreements, which are built in there; it could drive it a little up or it could drive it a little down, frankly. Then there are world events.
Are you saying, “Is the minister going to step in if the OPP recommends that you have to increase it by X amount, because God forbid that something happen in world events?” Again, this is people’s lives we’re talking about. This is a government priority because it’s people’s lives. It’s protecting the visitors. Every single plan that has been in there—which I believe the deputy commissioner said; I’m just working off of the deputy commissioner—they’ve run through the plans. They’ve been evaluated by external people. They are fairly confident in these.
To say, “Would the minister step in if the costs rose?”: not if it’s dealing with people’s lives. If it was because people wanted to buy a new set of equipment, yes, absolutely, but that’s not what’s driving these.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Do you know why the security contracts—the protection of the assets, and then the public safety—were split up between TO2015 and MCSCS?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: My understanding is that it’s because protecting the people is a host-jurisdictional responsibility of the province, whereas protecting the assets is something that the organizing committee—it’s the same thing if you’re going to a Raptors game. They’re going to have security guards to protect their basketballs. Obviously at the Stanley Cup, they’re going to hire extra security to protect the Stanley Cup.
These security guards are there to protect the medals, or to protect equipment. It’s very different than the protection of people, so that’s my assumption of why it was split up. It’s very much the organizing committee that’s responsible for the assets, whereas security of people should be left to the experts, which is the OPP.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. The time is up, so we shall move to the government side. Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Once again, thank you, Hersh, for coming here. May I say I’ve been following your answers—very clear, very lucid. Well done.
I just wanted to ask you very quickly: You’ve been involved with these games now for about a year, and they’re coming along. One of the things that is really different about this set of games compared to previous Pan/Parapan Am Games, or even other international games like the Olympics, is the fact that—two things.
One is the legacy piece. We have been planning the legacy piece from the get-go. It’s not “Let’s build it, and then we’ll worry about how to make it work after the games are done.” From the get-go we were saying, “What are we going to do with these legacy pieces after the games are done?”
The second thing that’s different is that we have deliberately geographically dispersed the games so that communities across Ontario—as much as is practical, of course—can enjoy the benefits of the games when they take place, as well as the post-game benefits.
Within that context, can you tell me a little bit about the athletes’ village and what it will do for the West Don Lands?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: The athletes’ village, I understand, has won a number of awards for being green, accessible and whatnot. It’s pretty amazing when you drive by there. I grew up in Thornhill, so basically a Torontonian; you used to drive down there and you would drive down nothing. There was basically just wasteland. My wife and I biked down there all the time. Now I assume it’s going to be a lot busier.
It’s pretty fascinating and unbelievable to see what the Pan Am Games have been able to create there. My understanding is that the government has been talking about building there for generations almost, so this was a great opportunity to say, “We are going to revitalize the West Don Lands and make it more than just a quick Distillery District, where people go to eat once in a while.”
The athletes’ village is just an amazing project. It offers affordable housing. It offers affordable renting—a whole brand new community over there. I think there are 800 units and 100 of them are of affordable ownership. We have the YMCA, which will be a great hub. On top of that, actually, George Brown has their first residences ever, which is pretty unbelievable. It’s really an exciting project. Anyone who has been down there is just amazed to see what’s happening over there.
It’s also exciting to see what’s happening around there. It’s not just the athletes’ village, which we’re very proud of, but if you go there, there’s construction everywhere, so people are really taking advantage of this great legacy project and building around it. It’s going to be the up-and-coming neighbourhood for a generation.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you so much for clarifying that bit around George Brown being the first residence, because I asked earlier—I can’t remember—one of the witnesses if this was the first time ever that a portion of the athletes’ village is going to be transformed into a residence for a college, and he couldn’t confirm it. But now you’ve confirmed it.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Sorry, I didn’t confirm that.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay, all right. That’s fine.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I’m confirming that it’s George Brown College’s first residence.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay, not the other way. I got it.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I can’t comment if it’s the first residence ever—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: No, got it. Fair enough. All right.
How about the other venues, the Milton Velodrome, the Pan Am Aquatics Centre, the Hamilton soccer stadium, the Goldring Centre, the Innisfil shooting venue—what was our thinking when we decided to distribute these venues?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: My understanding is that Ontario has kind of been lacking in high-performance sports facilities for many years, and so this was a great opportunity to start putting up facilities where people can come to Ontario to train.
I would actually use one of the smaller venues, the Innisfil shooting club. I went there for the announcement with the minister; I think it was about two months ago. This is a shooting club in Innisfil. We met the president of one of the shooting federations, and the smile on his face was unbelievable because—I think he’s from Ottawa—literally, shooters in this country, not just Ontario, in this country, have to leave the country because there is no appropriate shooting venue to go to. I think, in Ontario at least, the training venue that they go to is in Illinois. Now, because of the Pan Am Games and the investments that everyone’s making—the federal government, the municipal governments and the province—the federation of shooting has a venue in Ontario, in Innisfil, where people from across Canada, not just Ontario, are going to be coming for generations to be shooting here and not in Illinois. It’s probably one of the smaller venues but the story there always resonated with me because—I’m not a shooter; I don’t know anything about it. But really, every aspect of these games is going to leave a legacy on someone different for a different reason. So that’s amazing.
Obviously, Milton is going to have the velodrome, which, again, I believe is the only velodrome in all of Canada, so we will be able to attract riding from around the country, and probably from the States as well, to come up here and train year-round, indoors, at a venue that is just number one.
I would also say the Scarborough campus, the facility that we’re putting there—a number of sporting federations from across the country will be moving their headquarters from wherever they’ve been, whether it be BC, Quebec, Alberta, to Ontario to move into this facility, which is just going to be spectacular, actually.
There are just so many different legacy pieces to point to when you’re talking about a capital campaign that the province is going to benefit from.
I’d also point out that for the three largest capital projects, we’ve created a legacy fund that is part of TO2015’s budget—I believe it’s to last at least 20 to 25 years—to help fund these facilities so that they have the appropriate funding to recruit the greatest athletes throughout the country and North America to train at these facilities. It’s a really exciting project for so many different people in different parts of the country.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: It doesn’t hurt that we’ve been able to attract $500 million of federal funding to build here in Ontario.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. I often lead with that; I forgot that part. Getting $500 million from the federal government, especially these days, is an impressive feat. Again, we’ve had a great relationship with them and we’re just proud that we’ve been able to use their $500 million to get 40% more from all the various municipalities and universities to build these great facilities.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: You mentioned that the president of the shooting club couldn’t wipe the smile off his face at the opening of the venue. How about the local mayors? When you go to these various different openings or to see progress, what’s their reaction?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: We had one session a couple of months ago with all the municipalities, and basically every single one attended; if it wasn’t the mayor, it was the second. We went around the table, and we thought there would be some issues because there are always issues, as I was telling Mr. Jackson. Whenever you deal with any communities, there are going to be some issues; you can’t do everything perfectly.
This meeting was so unbelievably positive. Everyone went around the room and all the mayors were basically talking about the impact that these games are going to have. I think it was Durham who mentioned that they were having a hotel built there, which was, I think, their first hotel or something like that. It’s actually quite amazing. You have public funds going into this to create venues. Then you have the private sector following up to create infrastructure around the venues.
Without exception, every single mayor or councillor who attended this meeting had something positive to say about the games, and we’re really excited to start planning more, start planning the celebrations and really get behind it.
It’s a great experience for everyone, whether it’s Innisfil that’s going to have people go there, or Minden that’s going to have people who have probably never heard of Minden go up there, have a great time and experience the local atmosphere. It’s actually quite incredible.
Frankly, we all hear the negativity around these games, which is actually quite normal around multi-sports games—it’s a shame, but it is. But I think as we get closer to the games, these legacies are going to start popping out, these mayors, these other stakeholders are going to start popping out and saying, “You know what? These games are going to be amazing for our community.”
We’re excited. Every day there’s a different story of a good situation happening, so yes, there are so many different legacy projects that we can point to. Again, I’ll point to volunteerism because it’s volunteer week, but the fact that we had 5,500 volunteers signed up in three days—I can’t remember who said it the other day in committee on Monday when they said, “Well, how are you going to get the 20,000?” No one thinks it’s going to be a problem to get the 20,000. You’re going to get a lot of volunteers because everyone understands that they want to be a part of these games. The experience that they gain from these games they are going to take on the rest of their lives. They’ll tell their kids about it. They’re going to tell their employers. They are going to be able to use it on resumés. So the legacy is really on every corner of the province, not just in the municipalities that are hosting the games.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Just speaking about the volunteer piece, I know I heard in the House that this is going to be the largest peacetime coming together of volunteers in the history of Ontario—or is it Canada? I can’t remember, so help me with that.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t actually know what that stat is, but 20,000 volunteers is really impressive. Just to wrap your head around it—I can barely wrap my head around that. Again, I have to go back to Vancouver. Actually, Minister Murray in cabinet once—I remember him talking about Winnipeg, and I think there were orange jerseys in Winnipeg. He also said that the greatest parts about the Winnipeg games were the volunteers. I was in Vancouver, and honestly, the volunteers in the blue shirts—of all ages—all had a smile, they were all very helpful, and you could just tell that they were really enjoying it. Every time I go back to Vancouver—because my wife is from Vancouver—you always meet people with stories of how they volunteered during the games.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: That’s great. The other thing that is a little unique about these games is just how transparent and open they are. Would you be able to give me a little bit of your perspective on why these games are, for example, more open and transparent than the Vancouver Olympics? We are comparing apples—you know, local jurisdictions.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: When it comes to openness and transparency, my understanding is that there has really never been a games that has gone to the great lengths that we have gone as a government, as an organizing committee, and it’s actually quite impressive.
I’ll start with the fact that we have put the organizing committee under FIPPA. There have been a number of FOIs that have happened. In my understanding, that’s never happened in the history of games, to be able to FOI them. Obviously, they fall on the sunshine list every year, so you see salaries upfront. I don’t think Vancouver ever had—I think the CEO’s salary once came out publicly. But it is always there every single year on the sunshine list.
Many of their multi-party agreements are posted on their website. Their expense reporting is now up, so all of their executives post their expenses, I believe it’s quarterly—certainly comparable at any time—and their expense policies have been posted online. So that organization is—I can’t imagine how you can make it any more open and transparent.
Then, when it comes to the government, again, we’ve implemented these technical briefings, so basically, quarterly, we’re coming out, and if numbers are changing we’re going to be posting them. We offer a chance for media to ask us questions all the time. We’ve been very open as to why the costs are changing, and if we see the possibility of costs changing we it try and forecast that. So, for example, security—I know some people made a big issue with the fact, “Oh, my God. Can you guarantee us $239 million is not going to change?” Well, on March 14, I think it was page 21 that literally said, “The cost drivers that could potentially increase the costs are,” and it listed the four cost drivers. To create news is sometimes exciting and, as I said, it’s just normal that we get negative before the games approach, but we’ve been open and transparent about the process and what those cost drivers are, and they could go up and they could go down. I think in that document we only said that they could go up, but they could go down. So the technical briefing we’re very proud of.
Obviously, in terms of P/PAGS, they fall under FIPPA and sunshine lists and all of those aspects. Then, frankly, this committee, we’ve sat here and—I think it’s three months running on various committees. I know we’ve handed over 120,000 documents, and we continuously do that. I think our last was 40,000 documents, and I’m sure in the next little while there will be another batch and another batch. All of my emails have been made public, all of my chief of staff’s emails have been made public and the minister’s emails have been made public, so I’m not sure—I know for a fact, no other games has ever been close to being this transparent, and we are doing our best because, frankly, that’s what the people of Ontario deserve. So we don’t deserve a pat on the back for this. This is just—if you’re using taxpayer dollars, this is how transparent you should be and, frankly, I’m proud that our government understands that. Hopefully this is going to be the way that all multi-sports games, moving forward, are going to operate, because it makes my life a lot more difficult and that, but it’s the right thing to do; it’s taxpayer dollars.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: We raised the bar. Thank you so much for that.
Here in this committee, we’ve often focused on the role of Ontario—and we are the host jurisdiction, no question about that—but at the end of the day this is a multi-government undertaking; it’s not just the government of Ontario. Could you just speak to that whole issue of the levels of government that have co-ownership of these games?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I think that’s where the confusion, for lack of a better word, happens, when questions rise up that say, “Who is responsible? Does the buck stop with your minister?” When it comes to Ontario taxpayer dollars, 100% our minister answers the questions, but there are a lot of other partners. So when you look at the board, and we’ve said it a thousand times, the board is comprised of 12 seats, and Ontario has three seats. It’s a quarter of the board.
The federal government is putting up $500 million; they have been fantastic partners, and we’ve already talked about all the great legacies that they’re going to use. Again, they are putting up $500 million and they’ve been great partners. They also have three board seats. The city of Toronto has a seat, and they’re putting up a good amount of dollars; thankfully we have a great relationship with them. They’re coming forward with $20 million to help celebrate the games, which is fantastic—celebrations are going to be a massive part of these games. Then, of course, the Paralympics have another seat.
So, yes, there is responsibility everywhere, and the organization is a not-for-profit, independent organization that is led by the board and the chairman. We are a key stakeholder just like the federal government, and we’re not afraid to answer the questions when they come to us. But there are definitely a lot of partners involved, and they answer to an independent board that makes the vast majority of their decisions. But obviously, we’re held accountable and we make sure that they know that they’re held accountable to the taxpayers.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: I think you’ve answered most of the questions. Thank you so much.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move over to Mr. Jackson. You have 10 minutes, sir.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you. Welcome back for round 2.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Thank you.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I just want to try to pick up a little bit on where we left off with language requirements and get a little bit of a better sense about responsibilities here, too. On March 11, the minister was asked about language requirements. At that time, he was unable to say exactly what is being done to meet the official language requirements. In fact, the exact quote is, “‘I’m in charge of the Pan Am Games,’ ... noting that he is not informed of all of the ‘nitty-gritty’ details.”
What are those nitty-gritty details? What is it that he knows and doesn’t know? To me, this seems like a fairly basic thing. You should be able to answer about official languages, especially when you’re dealing with the Pan Am Games. Who is briefing the minister on this stuff? Who runs those meetings?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Again, what are the nitty-gritty details? I think, when the question was posed to him—obviously, he knows that the official languages have to be followed; that is a very important aspect of the games. But I believe that question came when there was some letter sent to the organizing committee—not from the province. I don’t even think it was from the minister responsible for the games federally. To expect him to know every single letter that gets set in to the organizing committee, I don’t think it’s fair. Is that a nitty-gritty detail? You are talking about a letter that was not sent to us—I don’t believe it was copied to us; that was just sent to the organizing committee—then ask him to know what the issues are on the language.
He is very comfortable answering any question around the big details. But any CEO of any large corporation—this is a multi-billion-dollar initiative. He knows the vast majority, but to expect him to know every letter that gets sent in to the organizing community, I’m not sure if that’s realistic.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I actually wasn’t asking about that letter at all. You brought the letter up. He was asked about what is being done to meet the official language requirements. That was with no reference to any letter.
It’s a fairly basic question, and I wouldn’t consider it a nitty-gritty detail. In fact, I consider it a fairly important detail, considering there are going to be people coming from many different countries, speaking several different languages at least: Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, just to name a few. So I think it’s fairly fair for a national news organization to ask the minister responsible for the Pan Am Games what is being done to meet the official language requirements.
My question is, how is it that he doesn’t know? Is he being briefed on official language requirements? Why are there cultural groups that are starting to express their dissatisfaction with not being included or consulted about sensitivities around the games? What is the missing piece there, and why is the minister not aware of this?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Give me an example of those cultural groups.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’m actually reading from a communications brief for P/PAGS, I believe. Maybe you can tell me what the cultural groups are.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: If you share that brief, I can maybe—
Mr. Rod Jackson: We did last time, actually. We submitted that exact same one.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I don’t have it in front of me. I can’t comment on something that I don’t see in front of me.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Fair enough. That answers the question in and of itself, I suppose.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Sorry. I don’t want to be difficult here, and I don’t think that answers the question. But if you have a specific question about a specific issue with a document that you have, I think it’s only fair to allow me to see the document.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Sure, okay. There certainly were issues with the aboriginals; I know that there was at least one group that had some certain issues. There was a Latino group based in Toronto that had concerns and met with Mr. Rafi and the mayor, I believe, to express their concerns about not having been included at all in the TO2015 organizing committee or in a way that would represent the fact that probably most of the countries competing in the Pan and Parapan Am Games are from Latin America—and, of course, the French-language expectations. There’s three right there.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: The First Nations communities—the organizing committee has had a First Nations table set up, I believe, for the last two years. I know that there was a letter sent in from the Mississaugas First Nation to—I think you’re referring to a letter to the Speaker. My understanding is that Chief LaForme and the community have had lots of discussions with the organizing committee and are coming to a very good agreement. Obviously, the land is on the Mississaugas First Nation’s land. Every speech that the Premier gives, I know, starts off with that comment. We take our partnerships with the First Nations very, very seriously. Whether there is a letter sent—I don’t think that’s indicative of how they see their relationship.
Is there always work to do? Probably, but I think we’ve actually gone quite a long way. If you look at the celebration and legacy initiatives that we’ve announced and are about to announce, there’s actually quite a bit there for all different aboriginal communities and different groups locally. In terms of the aboriginal front and First Nations front, I think that we’ve done a good job and we’ll continue to do a good job. There are always going to be conversations, and that’s the good thing about these games and, frankly, about government. We’re able to have honest conversations with each other. I don’t think we’re going to shy away from the fact that we have good conversations with our partners, just like everyone has conversations with their partners.
In terms of the Hispanic community and what you’re alluding to there, again, there have been a lot of different programs implemented, not only by the organizing committee. We’ll be coming out with a whole bunch of different commitments. Are there always going to be issues that people can point to? Absolutely. But we’ve had a number of different conversations with those groups and many other groups, because the people you’re alluding to aren’t the only people there. Absolutely, I would say that we are doing a lot to work with the Hispanic community. They are a very important group because, as you’ve pointed out, the majority of the countries coming here and the athletes are coming from Hispanic communities, so we take that seriously.
That being said, one of the reasons Ontario won the Pan Am Games is because of how diverse we are—not just the 41 countries coming to us, but just around the GTA, we are probably the most diverse area in the world. Actually, when the president of Chile, I believe, came to visit before they put in their bid for the next Pan Am Games, the minister had a meeting with him, and one of the things that they pointed out to us that blew them away was just how diverse our community is. They are so excited to come here and celebrate that diversity.
The Hispanic community is very important. We are doing a lot to work with them. We can always do more and we are doing more, but we are here and we are going to celebrate every single community here, because we are very proud of the diverse community.
Mr. Rod Jackson: How much time, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Two minutes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Just recently—actually, on March 14, the minister commented to City News that the transportation budget of $70 million to $90 million which has been quoted would go to—the HOV “lanes will cost … $75-$90 million.” I just wanted to make sure I get that quote correct. The reference there makes it sound like the HOV lanes alone are going to take up the majority of that budget. Is that true or did the minister misspeak?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Again, I don’t have the document in front of me, so I can’t comment on what—
Mr. Rod Jackson: I just told you what it said. The minister is quoted as saying, “The lanes will cost between $75-$90 million.”
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I wasn’t there when they claim that he said that the lanes were going to cost—I find it hard to be believe that he would have said that the lanes were going to cost $75 million to $90 million. On March 14, we released a 400-page document that was the strategic framework that went into exactly what that plan was going to be. The HOV lanes are one aspect of that plan, but that plan took best practices from many of the past and upcoming multi-sport events—
Mr. Rod Jackson: So the answer to that question would be that the HOV lanes are not solely going to take up that $75-million-to-$90-million budget?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, it’s a 400-page document that goes into a whole bunch of different strategies of how we are going to deal with transportation. No, the $75 million to $90 million will not be for HOV lanes. I would assume that he was probably misquoted or something like that. But, again, I wasn’t there. I don’t see the quote. I can’t comment on something that I don’t see.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’d suggest maybe someone brief the minister on that.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: He’s very well briefed on the transportation plan, and I have full faith in that.
Mr. Rod Jackson: He should probably answer questions a little bit better then. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to the third party, and I believe Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you, sir. Thanks for being here, Hersh. As you know, I’m new to this committee. I must say you’re impressive on your knowledge of the file. Some of my questions may have been covered previously. I know you introduced yourself as the senior adviser to the minister on the games. How did you get the job?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I applied for the job. I had previously worked for his chief of staff, Christine Innes. I started in government about four years ago, and I started when she was chief of staff at aboriginal affairs. I knew her, so when the job opening happened, I went—
Mr. Percy Hatfield: So you were in the government as opposed to coming from outside when you got the job?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. I’ve been in the government for four years now, and previous to that I worked in a number of places in the not-for-profit sector. So my first ministry that I worked at was at aboriginal affairs with Christine Innes, who was my chief of staff.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Am I correct in assuming you don’t have a degree in sports management or games planning or anything like that?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, no.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: It’s a political appointment to be the special adviser. In your role as a special adviser, for example, do you brief the minister before he goes to question period on what he might expect to be asked that morning?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No. It’s the LA’s job to brief the minister before question period. If there’s a more complex issue, then I might get involved to help out with that briefing, but for the day-to-day issues that might arise, it would be the legislative assistant’s job to brief the minister before question period.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: You wouldn’t write any lines, like “Another day, another drive-by,” or anything like that?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, I don’t write the lines. I would help with the policy behind the lines, but I’m not that smart to write the smart lines and, yes, the quick sinkers. That’s not my stuff.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: What about bringing to the minister’s attention potential political fireworks, like the hiring of an American company to do security over a Canadian company at a higher cost? I would think a special adviser might see the political connotation there, that this could blow up. Would you brief the minister on that or, again, is that an LA job?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: If you didn’t use that example, I would say yes, that would be something that I would be briefing the minister on, but as I’ve stated, when it came to an American company over a Canadian company and $14 million more than the other company, we didn’t have those details. It was very much MCSCS that had the lead on that because it’s security and, through MCSCS, it was the OPP. So those details we would not have been updating the minister on because, again, the minister at MCSCS, Minister Naqvi, who was, I think, one day on the job, would have been handling that.
So again, he wouldn’t be answering those questions. But again, once those came to light publicly—again, we had nothing to do with the RFP; we didn’t see the RFPs before they were announced—we would have briefed him on that.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: So to be special adviser, you must have your thumbs on all the files that are going on with the games.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: You can read between the lines at times. Do you expect any future—I don’t want to say over-expenditure, over budget. Is it reasonable to expect that in the future we could see some more announcements about budgetary escalations on the games?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: As I’ve said before, security is one aspect on which we’ve been very clear that there are—I think there were four cost drivers that were stated in the technical brief on March 14, so those cost drivers, frankly, could drive it up, but it could drive it down as well. That would be the main area that I would say there’s a risk that—whether it be four months from now or eight months from now—we could be coming out with a different number, again up or down. So that’s the big one.
The capital campaign is probably—I don’t know this for a fact. I would say this is probably the first capital campaign in the history of multi-sports games that is coming in under budget. That’s normally where you see the massive overruns. It’s just not happening here. Infrastructure Ontario has done a great job, so yes.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: We’ve heard recently about something called a BLT, a budgetary leak team or something. Do you have any kind of a master plan like that under your belt, that at some point you’re going to be making announcements on a given date about this or that? Are you going to leak to the media that this is going to happen or not going to happen?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: We definitely don’t have a BLT. That was the first I heard of that. We certainly have a com strategy. It’s not around these numbers. These numbers are very much focused on technical briefing; that’s when we get technical, and we release those numbers.
We have a com strategy mainly around the PCL strategy, which I’ve handed out there, and so those various announcements we go out with and we announce. I would recommend everyone go to TO2015’s offices. They have a really impressive boardroom that has basically every single month until the games up on a big whiteboard. They have their various announcements there.
Obviously we plan different announcements, because we’re very proud of what we’re doing for the Pan Am Games. But it’s not stuff that would be leaked to media or the stuff that I think you’re trying to get at there. It’s very much part of the PCL or the great stuff that the games have to offer.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Don’t answer this if you think it’s too personal. I’m finding when I’m here you hear about, say, IT people who are spouses of somebody who works in a minister’s or the Premier’s office and so on. There seem to be a lot of people with a family connection working for the same government. Is your spouse working for this government in some fashion or capacity?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, thank God, no. I am definitely the only one in my family working anywhere remotely close to any of this. I’m sitting in the hot seat today, so I assume none of my family would ever consider coming here. No; they’re doctors and businesspeople and have nothing to do with the games. There’s no connections whatsoever.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you.
I’m from Windsor–Tecumseh, so I feel obligated to remind you or to inform you that, when the planning for the games was going on in Toronto and Hamilton, we did not have the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre that we have now, with an Olympic-size pool, diving pods and all that. Now we do, and apparently it’s one of the best in the country. It’s getting international acclaim. I’m just wondering, if anything goes wrong with any of your aquatic sites, whether you might consider Windsor as an option.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No, but it’s actually a good point that you’re bringing up. A plan that I understand we are working on right now is that a number of the federations will have—call it a swim meet in Calgary two weeks before; I made that example up. Instead of going back to Chile, they’re probably going to be staying in Canada. So what we’re trying to find is a way to connect those international federations with communities like Windsor, like London, like Ottawa. Maybe they could be hosted at the University of Windsor or Western Ontario and allow their athletes to train at those fantastic facilities. So we are looking at ways to connect those people, because it’s another great aspect of the games, and it’s probably another way to get the rest of the province involved.
It’s funny that you brought that up, because I was just told about this on Friday, that we are working on a plan to try and find ways that we can connect either a local university or a municipality to an international federation to see what might work.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Well, I’ll put Windsor out there as an option, because I know the training facilities are tremendous.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: How much time do we have?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): One minute, 25 seconds.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Can you just speak quickly about the process to transfer the legacy venues after the games?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: To transfer the actual venues?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: It’s not my expertise, but my understanding is the organizing committee has control over the venues—sorry; I take that back. Some of the venues are actually being used right now. We had a test event last summer in the first venue. So many of the venues are being used up until the games, but then at some certain point, the organizing committee takes control of them, makes sure that they’re appropriate for the sport and then, after the games, hands it back to the university or the municipality. My understanding—and it’s not my expertise—is the aquatic centre in Scarborough, I believe, will start to be used shortly and then, at some point before the games, will have to get transferred back for the games. Then afterwards, some adjustments will be made, depending on what has to be done; every venue is different. Then it will be going to the community and to the university. That’s my understanding.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll pass it now to the government side: Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to go back to the HOV lane question, just to clarify. The cost was ranging from $75 million to $90 million. Could you expand on this and just tell us how the ministry reached out to the opposition MPPs to explain to them what was going on?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Again, as another part of our openness and transparency, we’ve started doing these technical briefings, basically on a quarterly basis. I think we were a couple of weeks late this time, but it’s basically on a quarterly basis.
At this time, it was mainly focused on transportation and security. We offered a technical briefing. We opened it up to media, and we do invite the official opposition and the critic of the third party to attend the briefings.
They would go into many of the specifics and some of the different cost drivers of what the plan would be. It would have been made very clear in those technical briefings how the money is being spent. I don’t think they got very specific in terms of “$5 million here” and “$10 million there” and whatnot, but it would have been made very clear that there is a detailed plan, and that there is a lot going into it. It’s far from just an HOV lane.
Again, it was 400 pages. We can’t say what the media is going to print, but often people don’t take the time to educate themselves on what the true answers are. It’s a very complex file, so it’s not always the easiest thing to do, but there’s a 400-page document out there on the transportation plan.
In terms of security, it seemed to come out that there was a revelation here the other day. But if you went back on March 14, word for word, it’s in there. People don’t take the time to—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Now, do you recall if any MPPs from the official opposition or the third party attended this technical briefing?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: I believe Mr. Jackson was at the technical briefing, and I believe Mr. Miller was not at the technical briefing. I’m not sure if he sent people there. I don’t know that.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: But it was made available.
Mr. Hersh Perlis: Yes. It’s absolutely made available.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Anything else you’d like to add today as we wrap up?
Mr. Hersh Perlis: No. Thank you for coming, again, and I apologize for the last-second change. Hopefully, I was helpful.
If there are any other answers I can give—we really do want to try and make this as clear as possible, because we’re very proud of these games. We want to get as many people as possible behind these games, to try and start to celebrate these games. There are 41 countries coming here that are going to be celebrating with us, and we can show them that we are the greatest province. We’re excited; I’m excited about these—I don’t know. That’s it.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Good stuff. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Perlis. We really appreciated your time this afternoon and your answering questions and feedback.
I’d like to thank the members of the committee and everyone else here this afternoon. This meeting is—
Mr. Rod Jackson: Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Jackson.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Just a question—I swear I’m not going to take too long. Can I just confirm that Ms. Innes will still be invited to be a witness?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I can’t see why there would be any opposition to that. Upon her availability, I would think that that would be more than appropriate.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): This meeting is adjourned. Thank you very much.
The committee adjourned at 1738.
Wednesday 9 April 2014
Pan/Parapan American Games Review G-623
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport G-623
Mr. Hersh Perlis
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield (Etobicoke Centre / Etobicoke-Centre L)
Ms. Sarah Campbell (Kenora–Rainy River ND)
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield (Etobicoke Centre / Etobicoke-Centre L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Ms. Dipika Damerla (Mississauga East–Cooksville / Mississauga-Est–Cooksville L)
Mr. John Fraser (Ottawa South L)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Ms. Peggy Sattler (London West ND)
Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock PC)
Mr. Jeff Yurek (Elgin–Middlesex–London PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury L)
Mr. Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest / Scarborough-Sud-Ouest L)
Mr. Percy Hatfield (Windsor–Tecumseh ND)
Mr. Rod Jackson (Barrie PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Ms. Anne Marzalik, research officer,