STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES GOUVERNEMENTALES
Monday 25 May 2015 Lundi 25 mai 2015
The committee met at 1400 in committee room 2.
Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015 Loi de 2015 sur l’infrastructure au service de l’emploi et de la prospérité
Consideration of the following bill:
Bill 6, An Act to enact the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015 / Projet de loi 6, Loi édictant la Loi de 2015 sur l’infrastructure au service de l’emploi et de la prospérité.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I’d like to call this meeting of the Standing Committee on General Government to order. I’d like to welcome all members, support staff and all the presenters here this afternoon. Today, we are dealing with Bill 6, An Act to enact the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015. We have, I believe, 16 delegations before committee this afternoon. It’s 15 minutes per: five minutes for each presentation followed by nine minutes of questioning, three from each of the parties. We shall start.
Toronto Community Benefits Network
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): At this time, I would like to welcome, from the Toronto Community Benefits Network, Mr. Steve Shallhorn, who is the chair. Welcome, sir. You have five minutes.
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: Thank you for the opportunity of appearing before this committee. The Toronto Community Benefits Network was formed two years ago to bring the community benefits agreement model to Ontario. The model has been successfully used across the United States and in the UK. Just last Friday, Premier Wynne referred to the Eglinton Crosstown community benefits agreement, of which the TCBN is a signatory, as the first in Ontario. We’re very pleased with the progress that has been made in Ontario in just two years and are here to advocate for establishing a legislative basis of community benefit agreements by including it in Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015.
The community benefit agreement model can add value in six ways to Ontario’s infrastructure investment. It can maximize the value of every dollar spent; it addresses high unemployment rates among Ontario’s youth, aboriginal and newcomer communities; it ensures that the supply of trained, skilled construction labour is maintained, despite an expected bulge in building trade retirements; it provides opportunities in the professional, administrative and technical careers for newcomer Ontario residents who have international training and experience that is needed in the construction industry but have yet to find a career in Ontario; it allows it to expand the size and scope of social enterprise businesses in Ontario; and it allows it to build neighbourhood amenities consistent with the nature of the project.
At their core, CBAs are a mechanism to ensure that there’s more equitable information about and access to the training, jobs and contracts needed for completing infrastructure projects on time and on budget.
A CBA is not a make-work project and it is not a job creation program. It’s a more efficient way to marshal workforce development resources already being provided by the province. It works by breaking down silos, creating more effective communication and getting the key sectors working with each other.
The five pillars of success for a community benefits agreement are labour, community, workforce development, industry and government working together for collective impact. We have started working together on the Eglinton Crosstown project.
When a proponent for an infrastructure project submits a bid, they have already calculated their need for skilled construction labour, including apprentices. They’ve also calculated how many professionals and technical people they need, and consultants and some subcontractors. A CBA provides a mechanism to reach into communities to fill those jobs and give access to those who need it most.
In the case of apprentices, the TCBN has already started resident recruitment in different Toronto priority neighbourhoods. Working through leaders of diverse communities, candidates are invited to information meetings that include representatives from the building trades and employment counsellors from Employment Ontario job centres. Those who are interested go on.
The TCBN keeps in touch with the building trades training centres and refers candidates to those centres when they start an apprentice course. Our referrals are subject to the same entry prerequisites and receive the same training as everyone else.
I should note that employers, through the relevant contractor associations, sit on the boards of the training centres to ensure that training is up to date and relevant to what employers need.
In the case of professional, administrative and technical jobs, it takes a little more work to match the skill sets of each individual to an employer’s needs. One of the things the TCBN learned from meeting with each of the proponents on the crosstown line was that each was concerned where they would find skilled white-collar workers to do this type of work. Skilled logistics experts were particularly singled out. Yet we know from experience that these skills exist in newcomer communities. The reality is that, through imperfect labour market information, the companies and new Ontarians have difficulty connecting. The CBAs can provide that bridge.
A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business that also has as its mission social goals such as employing Ontarians who may have difficulty coping with the stress of an ordinary workplace. The sector is preparing to bid on contracts in such areas as printing, courier services, catering, landscaping and others on the Eglinton Crosstown. They can compete on price and service, but, like many small businesses, the contracts they can fulfill are often smaller than what might typically be put to tender. With just a little effort in creating smaller chunks of work, important social goals can be met. A CBA provides that mechanism.
An aspect of a CBA is for a community to ask for amenities and local improvements as part of the construction projects. Sometimes it can be as simple as moving a facility a few metres from a street to make room for a street marketplace, trees and street furniture. It can be to provide bicycle racks or lockers, or making it easier to install solar on large rooftops of built facilities.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Could you just wrap it up very quickly, please?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: Finally, I want to thank Metrolinx. If they hadn’t been so receptive to us in the first place, we wouldn’t have made the progress that we have.
We urge the committee to agree to put forward a legislative basis in Bill 6.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Shallhorn.
We’ll begin with the official opposition. Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks for coming in today. I just have a quick question. I don’t know too much about community benefit agreements. It seems you’ve outlined a strategy for Toronto and the GTA area. Has this been tried and tested in rural Ontario, and is it as effective? Is there an ability for this to be done in rural Ontario, where there are fewer people, and less population and trades and such?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: It hasn’t been tested in a community benefit agreements model, but impact benefit agreements are now fairly standard in northern Ontario, where projects are being undertaken on aboriginal land. There, the focus is mainly on training, so that local people get the training they need to be involved in the project. A lot of the construction companies and design firms that are used to working in northern Ontario are familiar with impact benefit agreements, so they get community benefit agreements as well.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Do CBA agreements cancel out anybody’s opportunity to participate? Can any corporation or private business—
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: As I pointed out, the proponents determine their own labour needs, which they presumably take into consideration when they submit their bid. It’s simply a mechanism to provide access to the jobs that the contractor has already submitted.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the NDP. Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Hi, Steve. Thanks for being here this afternoon. I’m just filling in briefly; Taras Natyshak from Essex will be here at any moment.
Can you tell me what your experience has been with your involvement on the Eglinton Crosstown project?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: So far, it has been very positive. Metrolinx was receptive to the communities that we were organizing in, especially in Mount Dennis-Weston, but across the Eglinton line. We’ve had good co-operation from several of the building trades, who are very keen and very supportive of working very closely with us, and we’ve had some resident engagement meetings already. Some people—mainly from the Somali community, but other communities, as well—who have come to those meetings have already received training in the building trades and are starting work.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: What will they be working on?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: The ones who are starting now are being assigned to other building-trades projects. I believe some are working on the Leslie Barns. We expect construction on the Eglinton Crosstown line to begin in January. We’re starting to do the recruitment and training now, so that those apprentices will be ready to go early next year.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I know you were talking about street or sidewalk amenities and such. Have you had any discussions on improvements on the streetscaping along the line?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: There has been some discussion of that on the Eglinton Crosstown line. For instance, there’s a large bridge structure being built over Black Creek, and I think Metrolinx is requiring some creativity on how that would look. Also, the right of way is being altered there a little bit to make what is kind of a horrendous pedestrian underpass along Eglinton Avenue more hospitable.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Are you part of any provincial association or network that you can compare what you do in the GTA to what happens in Windsor or Thunder Bay or Ottawa or anything like that?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: We’ve started to talk to organizations outside of Toronto, and it’s very much our intention to be a resource for communities and other centres, whether they be in northern Ontario or southwestern Ontario. We see ourselves as pathfinders. We’ve benefitted from organizations in the US that have helped us understand the ins and outs of how this works, and we’re looking forward to turning around and helping other communities across the province.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Is there anything else you wanted to say? I know you just ran out of time at the end there, but anything else you wanted to add?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: Just to say that getting a legislative basis for community benefit agreements is an important step, and it would be really great if the committee could make that recommendation.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Have you had any consultation or any discussion with the government or government members?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: Very early on, we met with every MPP whose riding is along the Eglinton Crosstown line to make sure that they were aware of what we were doing, and we got a very good response.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. It was well timed. We shall move to Mr. Milczyn from the government side.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Good afternoon, Mr. Shallhorn. Thank you very much for your presentation. Particularly interesting was early on, you spoke about the six key benefits of community benefit agreements. I just wanted to make sure that everybody on the committee understands this: You’re not suggesting that community benefit agreements increase the costs of these projects; you’re saying they maximize the value. Could you maybe explain a little bit more about how you feel they’ll be able to maximize the value for the dollars that are being spent?
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: It’s about who fills the jobs that the contractors themselves identify need to be done and who will provide the services that the contractors themselves determine need to be done. For instance, when they build the maintenance and storage facility on the Eglinton line, it’s a 24/7 operation. Presumably, there will be a cafeteria. If that is kitted out as a cafeteria, a social enterprise could be contracted to provide those services.
In the case of apprentices, as I said, the contractor decides how many apprentices it needs in each of the building trades. What we’re about is doing recruitment in communities that often don’t understand how the building trades system works in Ontario. Maybe they come from countries where building trades are very dangerous and underpaid and have low social value. That’s a different situation in Ontario, where it’s a safe job and a good job. In fact, it’s a career. So that’s part of the message that we’re taking into these communities.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: I was wondering if you’ve had any discussions with officials from the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure about specifically how you might want to see this incorporated into legislation.
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: We haven’t had specific discussions. What we’ve presented here today is something that we’ve put together in the last week, since we were aware that it was coming before this committee.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Having come from the municipal sector, does this approach lend opportunity for individual communities to try to leverage their own local community infrastructure to get more out of a project than just a bridge or a tunnel? There could be streetscaping, there could be public art; there could be any number of other attributes that benefit the local community.
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: I think that a community benefit agreement is not a section 37, if that’s what you’re asking.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: No, no. I’m not suggesting that.
Mr. Steve Shallhorn: It is perfectly feasible for cities to enter into community benefit agreements, and in fact, now, the countries—that’s a level of government that’s been most closely associated with CBAs.
The city of Toronto is looking very closely at CBAs as part of its social procurement model, and I believe it’s reporting to council in December. I would expect that there would be some recommendation to engage in CBAs. There may be a threshold at which it is advisable to include a CBA. This would work for a small bridge repair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Shallhorn, for coming before our committee; we appreciate your remarks.
Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have, from the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, Mr. Patrick Dillon. He is the business manager and secretary-treasurer. Mr. Dillon, we’d like to welcome you before the committee. The floor is yours. You have five minutes, sir.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Thank you. My name is Patrick Dillon, the business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. With me is Igor Delov, our executive assistant. Our organization represents 13 international unions that represent 150,000 unionized construction workers in the province of Ontario.
I’d like to thank the committee for inviting us here today to comment on Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2014. Our council is very supportive of the government’s continued investments in critical infrastructure, which benefit not only the construction industry but Ontario’s economy as a whole. We, therefore, welcome Bill 6, which will require the government and future governments to prepare long-term 10-year infrastructure plans.
In our view, infrastructure investments, which are absolutely integral to our economy, should be de-politicized as much as possible because securing those investments helps strengthen businesses, workers and the tax base, which supports public services.
However, we would like to point out some issues that we have with the bill as currently drafted. The proposed bill, under section 3, outlines 10 principles which the government and every broader public sector entity shall consider when making decisions respecting infrastructure. This is a good concept, but how do we anticipate its enforcement? Won’t the entity say, “We considered all those things”? We are rather cautious of creating a statutory duty without meaningful enforcement provisions.
Moreover, we believe that section 8, subsection 2 and section 11, subsection (e) require further expansion in the sense that trade-specific journeypersons-to-apprentice ratios should be consistent with the requirements as presently determined by the Ontario College of Trades and the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009, and, in my view, the ratios should be made mandatory.
Currently, the bill has no reference to health and safety. We would ask this committee to insert language in the bill which would require infrastructure planning to take every step to minimize all health and safety risks to workers throughout the whole life cycle of every publicly funded project, including design, finance, procurement, construction and maintenance.
We would also like to see in this legislation a commitment to work with community groups and potentially, through the use of community benefit agreements, an enhancement of the local workforce by aligning apprentices with work opportunities. Trades training is the key to meaningful employment opportunities and to better workplace safety.
There already are a number of successful programs which attract specific populations in expanding employment opportunities in the construction industry. For example, Hammer Heads for at-risk inner-city youth and aboriginals; Helmets to Hardhats Canada for returning veterans and reservists; Build Together for women; Choice carpenters’ program for young people; and the IBEW Work Ready Aboriginal People Program for First Nations.
Leveraging public dollars by requiring contractors who bid and work on infrastructure projects to hire workers from these and other programs is a smart way of preparing the workforce of tomorrow. That is something that Bill 6 ought to reflect. Programs which have high apprenticeship completion rates are well-positioned to yield high returns on investment from a skills development point of view.
The building trades have an exemplary enlistment and retention rate for apprentices, and our council is willing to work with the government, as well as with all political parties, to support construction apprenticeship as we build Ontario’s infrastructure.
Thank you for the time, and we look forward to answering any questions.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Dillon. We shall start with the third party, the NDP: Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Good afternoon. Welcome.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: How are you?
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I’m okay. You talked about number 5: the hiring of registered apprentices. I’m going on memory, but when I read the recent budget, a previous bill was mandating apprentices on every job. Was that watered down in the last budget presentation?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: I don’t think it’s watered down. What we’re trying to do here is bring attention to the—people are always talking about the ratios like they’re a bad thing. The ratios are a good thing in many ways—I think in most every way that you can imagine—but we’re looking to make them mandatory so that it’s not just something that’s written, that you have an apprenticeship ratio of two to one. When you actually bid and do the work, you should have one apprentice for every two journeypersons. The way it is, it’s voluntary, and some employers will have more apprentices than they do journeypersons, and other employers will have no apprentices. You can’t build Ontario’s future workforce that way.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I remember the earlier bill talked about the living legacy, which would be qualified apprentices left behind after the job has left a community.
In point 9, you talk about health and safety. I’m just curious: When you talk about health and safety through the entire life cycle of every project, including design financing, what part of financing has to do with health and safety? Is that in the design of—
Mr. Patrick Dillon: I guess we mentioned finance there in the sense that it seems that, in a number of circumstances, financing takes priority over health and safety or over most things. We think that’s wrong; that people’s lives are worth much more than what they’re getting at this point, the way the legislation is now.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Okay. Pat, could you expand on your last sentence there: “This can be better achieved by requiring mandatory trades training of the future workforce”?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about there. You mentioned apprentices being left behind. In construction, at least in the building trades side of the industry and the unionized employers—they do not leave apprentices behind. We take the apprentice to the next job.
In some circumstances, we have situations where your comment is right: Apprentices are left behind, and for a number of reasons, that really negatively impacts on the industry. Parents see that little Joey was left behind. Other people—neighbours—see that, so they would not recommend that their son or daughter take an apprenticeship because they get left behind in certain circumstances. We think that has a real negative impact, and so we looked at—that mandatory training, we think, is—the evidence is pretty clear that the trades that have mandatory training have the best retention and the best safety records.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We’ll move to the government side: Ms. McMahon.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Thank you for being here. It’s incredibly helpful; I could listen to you all day. This is great.
I’m a bit biased: My nephew just finished an apprenticeship as a welder, so I particularly appreciated your comments with respect—I echo my colleague here—to the health and safety aspects, in terms of making sure that that is job one. Interesting and very helpful—thank you for those recommendations. I assume we’ll get a copy of your presentation, which I know will add value.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Yes.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: A couple of things: I get the sense that you’re appreciative of the long-term infrastructure planning aspects of the legislation, and that’s great.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Yes.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: With respect to the apprenticeship piece of the bill, you indicated, I think, unless I misheard you, that there’s some challenge with respect to a prescriptive, number-based approach. Although you appreciate the intent of the legislation, you have some concerns about that. Can you just expand on that a little bit, and what you might do instead or how you might suggest that we change that, or anything helpful you can add?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: I don’t have an issue with how the system operates now, as far as what the ratios are. I think the government made a good decision in setting up the Ontario College of Trades, which empowers industry to gather the statistics on the needs of a trade, the future demand and so on. They set their apprenticeship ratios based on that, based on the standard of the trade itself and the safety factors. So, to me, that is the right approach to apprenticeship training. In time, if there’s more demand or less demand, then the industry will see that and will adjust their ratios. To me, that’s the most responsible way to deal with ratios.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Thank you. That’s helpful.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Dong?
Mr. Han Dong:. I just want to ask a quick one. Thank you for the presentation. As the PA for TCU, in my mandate letter it talks about how to deal with the low graduation rate for apprenticeship programs. Having the apprenticeship provision inside, as part of this bill, the same bill talking about long-term infrastructure planning, what are your thoughts on how this will help increase, or if it would help to increase graduation rates for apprenticeships?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Why have it in here? Well, there are a couple of reasons. One, having it in here will make it mandatory for the successful bidding contractors that bid on the work to employ the numbers that are carried by the Ontario College of Trades act. That is the real thrust.
The other thrust is, we need to build Ontario’s future workforce, and when you have government funding, which is probably the largest purchaser of construction in Ontario, you ought to have some obligation to making sure that we do have a future workforce to build infrastructure, not only for the public sector but for the private sector. So we’re looking for a mandatory push from the government by putting that in legislation.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall move to the official opposition: Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you for being here. I just want to go back and revisit your conclusion. You say that you welcome the introduction of Bill 6; you believe that several key additions, as you’ve outlined in your briefing, are needed to strengthen the bill; and you’re ready and willing to work with this government. This particular bill has been on the books since July of last summer, I believe, and indications have it that in the next two weeks, this government is going to be very busy trying to ram through as much legislation as possible. Do you feel that we can do justice and strengthen this bill in eight short sitting days?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: Well, I suppose the length of time that you have to deal with them is not in our hands or in the public’s hands; it’s all within the three political parties in this room, whether you have eight days to deal with it or 20 days to deal with it. So that’s up to the politicians. We think that the legislation is important and that making some—and we don’t see this as rocket science, revolutionary stuff that we’re suggesting. It’s pretty common-sense stuff; I can’t imagine a really good, principled argument why it couldn’t be inserted. In fact, a lot of the stuff that we suggest here, in the private sector—sort of the money-makers, if you will, in the province of Ontario—they have stuff like this, particularly around safety; if you don’t have what we’re suggesting here in your safety record, you don’t come in their plant. But the government—you can work for them.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: So do you feel confident that the government will be bringing forward your suggestions and amendments?
Mr. Patrick Dillon: That’s why we’re here: to present them, and hopefully you will help them come to that conclusion.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Well, there’s been a track record the last few weeks of very quick noes to any amendments, so we’ll see how this turns out.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: All right.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you.
Mr. Patrick Dillon: But our comment there was that we’ll work with the government and all political parties as we go forward.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Good. Thank you very much, Mr. Dillon and Igor, for coming before committee this afternoon. We appreciate your insights.
Consulting Engineers of Ontario
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next on the agenda, from the Consulting Engineers of Ontario, I believe we have three individuals: Mr. Steinberg, Mr. McDonald and Mr. Perruzza. Welcome. You have five minutes.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: Good afternoon. Thank you very much. I’d just like to introduce Gerard McDonald, from our regulated Professional Engineers Ontario—he’s our registrar—and Sandro Perruzza from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers advocacy body.
We’d like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this afternoon about what we feel is arguably one of the most important pieces of legislation that we’ll see for quite some time. I’m of course referring to Bill 6, the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2014.
Our presence together today marks the first time executive leadership representing the province’s engineering firms and our profession’s more than 80,000 professional engineers have appeared together at a standing committee to speak with a singular voice. This is how important this bill is not only to our collective memberships but also to a very large and important sector of Ontario’s economy.
Debate in the Legislature these past months has seen all parties at the table today recognizing the importance of Bill 6, given the framework it will provide for tackling Ontario’s infrastructure needs. More important is the vision it represents, how Ontario will look forward as it plans for and invests in our future prosperity. By creating the statutory requirement for a comprehensive 10-year infrastructure plan, the province is proposing to break the habit that has become common at all levels of government: using infrastructure commitments as campaign planks for election.
This bill has the potential to establish a thoughtful and innovative infrastructure strategy that can, through the primacy of quality design and planning, help Ontario not just dig out from under our current infrastructure deficit, but also accurately address the future needs of this province. Such a strategy is essential if we are going to foster corporate investment and innovation, the creation of good jobs and a return to a standard of living that is the envy of the rest of Canada.
It is for these very important reasons that my colleagues and I appear before you today. We contend that for the government to be able to develop and execute a successful long-term strategy, as proposed in the draft legislation, rooted in principled evidence-based planning, fostering innovation by making the most of our collective talents and accurately accounting for life cycle costing, it must include an explicit and definitive role for professional engineers.
It is our firm belief that professional engineers and the role we play in planning, designing, constructing and maintaining the province’s public infrastructure must be defined so as to be equal to any regulated design profession. Ontario has two self-regulating professions in the design sector. To not afford them equal standing in the proposed legislation represents a significant oversight and does not represent the best interests of Ontarians.
By virtue of the Professional Engineers Act of Ontario, our profession has a fiduciary responsibility to public safety and welfare. By not explicitly acknowledging the role of our profession, Bill 6 ignores this fiduciary responsibility. Interestingly, no such concerns seem to exist for architects under their act. As such, we hold it to be critically important that section 7 of the bill include language speaking specifically to the role of professional engineers.
The vast majority of infrastructure projects to be undertaken under this bill will be of a class and scale requiring the involvement of engineers, as stipulated by our act, hence we assert that it is not possible for it to remain silent on the role of professional engineers.
We have been actively advocating this fact and our proposed amendments for this bill with both the government and the opposition for some time, since it was first introduced as Bill 141 during the last legislative session and its reintroduction in its present form as Bill 6. We are pleased to say that we have had thoughtful and meaningful discussions on our proposals, and we hope that the amended legislation will reflect language that will best serve the interests, safety and welfare of the people of Ontario.
Thank you again for this opportunity to appear before you today. We’d be pleased to take any questions you may have for us.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. We shall start with the government side. Ms. Kiwala.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Thank you so much for being with us today. It’s a great pleasure to have you here. Over the course of the last few weeks and months, I’ve had several opportunities to meet with engineers from your organization. It’s been quite a worthwhile process. I’ve learned a lot more about the concerns for safety that you have and I’ve been very impressed with your commitment as an association to safety in our communities.
I feel that the unseen nature of your work is absolutely critical and cannot be understated. I come from a federal government background. I’m very interested in how you feel this government’s commitment to infrastructure compares to that of the federal government.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: Well, I’ve gone on record on radio and TV as being quite dismayed at the federal government’s lack of long-term planning and long-term commitment to infrastructure, but particularly to transit in Ontario—and generally to its cities, to the municipalities in Canada.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: You’ve touched on it a bit, but can you speak a little bit more about the importance of legislating long-term infrastructure? I feel that this legislation is making history. We’re very proud of the long-term forecast. So I just wondered if you can touch a little bit more on that.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: Infrastructure is probably one of the most important aspects of stimulating economic activity and growth. It creates jobs, it creates a tax base—and that’s roads, transportation, transit. For example, in Toronto alone—and that’s not other municipalities across the country—we’re decades behind in transit planning. I think that’s very important.
In terms of water and wastewater, depending on who you speak to and where you are in the province, 20% to 40% of the water being pumped to homes and businesses is leaking through broken pipes. This is quite a waste of not only water, but money and energy.
I think that there needs to be a long-term commitment in order for us to relieve what is an infrastructure deficit that really dwarfs the visible deficit in this province.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Fifteen seconds—quickly.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Sorry. A quick question for you: My colleague spoke about the investment by the federal government. I hear your concerns about the lack of specificity in terms of the legislation with regard to mentioning the profession. Can you tell us what that might look like? Just give us some guidance and feedback there in terms of what kind of specificity you’d like to see.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: In section 7, we’d like to see specific mention of engineers being involved where required in infrastructure projects, in a very similar fashion to the way it’s worded for the architects.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Good. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We’ll move to the official opposition: Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you for being here, gentlemen. I was taken by the fifth paragraph in your briefing today. I’ll just go back and revisit it: By creating the statutory requirement for a comprehensive 10-year infrastructure plan, you hope that the province is proposing to break a habit of making infrastructure commitments campaign planks in an election.
That stuck with me because just over this weekend, the Premier tweeted that they’ve committed $15 billion to infrastructure outside of the GTHA and need input on how to invest it. The tweet says exactly, “Tell us what’s important in your region.” When I saw that, it was like, “Oh, here we go.” They’re wanting to hear from Ontarians, and then they’ll cherry-pick things that they think might win them favour in areas where they need to start picking up seats.
Based on that fifth paragraph, do you have any confidence that this government will actually uphold the integrity that you hope this bill instills, or are they just talking the talk?
Mr. Barry Steinberg: I’m going to tell you that I don’t actually know what they’re doing. We prefer to be optimistic. We do see this bill as a framework; there’s no doubt that this bill is a framework. We have three years after that to start building a set of regulations that, what I’ll say, give the plan teeth and make the legislation work.
We feel that we should, along with others, be at the table to talk about this. I think the consultation with those organizations and those professionals who do the work, who understand how things are done, is imperative. If that consultation occurs, I’ll tell you, my confidence will grow and grow.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I used to be a reporter, so the journalist in me has to know: After your thoughtful and meaningful discussions, was it an oversight or deliberate that engineers aren’t specified in here the way architects are?
Mr. Barry Steinberg: I have no insight into that at all.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: You didn’t find out from your meaningful and thoughtful discussions?
Mr. Barry Steinberg: Well, what we have been told, of course, is that changes are likely to be made—that changes will be made. We of course don’t know what they are. We would like to see it be changed just through a mention, in a very similar manner, as I said, to the way architects are mentioned. If the change is made in that manner, we would be very happy, but what the motivation is, I can’t tell you.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I’m not a builder, I’m not an architect or an engineer, but it would seem to me that you have a certain responsibility on any building project, the same as an architect, so why would one be singled out and not the other?
Mr. Barry Steinberg: I agree with that. That is our question. That’s why we’re here, and that’s why we’ve been working together with all parties to try to effect change.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I think Ms. McMahon alluded to it in her quick question: What can this committee recommend that would benefit you and your profession?
Mr. Barry Steinberg: If you were to look at section 7, where architects are mentioned, I think it has to be worded in a reasonable way that there’s another section that mentions engineers, not in an identical way, but in an almost identical way.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: To your profession, is this the highest priority that has come along in a long time? Because you say it’s the first time that you’re speaking in a singular voice for all the engineering firms in Ontario.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: It’s one of the highest priorities. We’ve been working hard on a number of issues. One of the biggest ones was when we were working for putting the 10-year capital plan together, which ended up to be Building Together. We put a lot of effort there, and we worked together as organizations.
But this is the first time, because this is so important to the profession in general, that we felt the necessity to bring all the organizations that represent our profession together to make a point, because we have a unified message.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I guess it’s no surprise that we have far more former journalists as members of the Legislature than we do engineers. Maybe that’s something to work on in the future.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: It may be a surprise, but we know it’s a fact.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, gentlemen, for coming before the committee this afternoon.
Mr. Barry Steinberg: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’re quite welcome.
Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. I believe we have Nikki Holland and Mark Lewis as representatives. We welcome you both.
The floor is yours, sir. You have five minutes.
Mr. Mark Lewis: Thank you very much for hearing from us today. We are the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. We represent all of the carpenters’ construction local unions in the province of Ontario. Although probably no union would give you an honest answer to this, it’s probably approximately 25,000 carpenters, journeymen and apprentices in the various fields that carpenters perform work in across this province.
We’re here to speak in favour of this bill. We like anything which promotes and emphasizes the importance of infrastructure. I’m sure that won’t surprise you, that a union comprised of construction workers would like that, and there are numbers of things that we like in the bill because we think it puts infrastructure in a broader context. I agree with the last speaker: We’re very optimistic that if we can work out the right framework, infrastructure will mean something more than just metres of concrete and square footage of drywall; it will be something that’s lasting way beyond the job sites.
What we really want to talk about, given the limited time, is the skills training and apprenticeship aspect of this bill, because we see it as key and one of the most important aspects from the view of our union and from our union’s view of what this province needs for its future.
These job sites—construction projects across this province—mean a lot of different things to different people, but what they are to our union is classrooms. They are the places where the next generation of skilled workers, be they carpenters, electricians or operators, get their training. We need to promote that training.
We are facing a looming problem—I don’t want to say “crisis”—but a clear, serious problem with respect to the next generation of skilled workers. Because of the demographics, because of retirement, because of immigration issues and changes, we will have a limited number of skilled trades workers into the future unless we take training our own youth seriously and make it a priority. We think that what this bill does, particularly section 8 of it, is provide a framework through which the government can promote that training opportunities maximize the amounts of training our young people can receive by setting the minimum requirements for apprentices on these various projects, which government will hopefully fund over the next decade, I suppose, in the initial long-term plans and into the future.
It’s critical for us. We cannot tell you how important it is to give our young people those opportunities. Obviously there are safety concerns, which Mr. Dillon spoke about; obviously there are set maximum ratios, which we don’t want to have touched. But there is a cost to training. What we see this bill as potentially doing is putting all of the companies on a level playing field in terms of absorbing that cost.
This is a very competitive bid-oriented sector in terms of the companies that are going to be picking up this work and doing this work. What we are encouraging and what we are encouraged by in this broad framework is the ability of the government to set those apprenticeship numbers, those apprenticeship requirements at the front end, so that the contractors and all of their subcontractors down the chain—who are often the principal employers; often, the majority of the workforce is not employed by the general contractors, it’s employed by the subcontractors down the line. What we would see as critical is that those numbers are put out up front. Everyone knows what targets they should meet. Everyone is therefore bidding on an equal footing, and we can maximize competitiveness along with maximizing those training opportunities. In that way, what we’re hopeful of is, we’re not just producing buildings, but we have a workforce for decades to come that has the necessary skills and training.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate that. Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Welcome. Thanks for coming in today. Mr. Dillon talked about a 2-to-1 ratio of apprentices to journeymen. Is that the ratio that you favour as well?
Mr. Mark Lewis: The ratios vary by trade. We would favour the ratios set for each trade, but simply requiring the companies to actually have that number of apprentices on the job site, because what you find is that a lot of companies don’t want apprentices, or don’t want apprentices at certain terms within their contracts, because they would rather just get the efficiency of getting the work done, in and out, without having to do any training for the work—because, as I said, there are costs. What we like, what we think is optimal, is to have the apprentice ratios that have been set by the College of Trades but actually require that number of apprentices to be employed on the projects.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Are there apprentice carpenters?
Mr. Mark Lewis: Yes.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: And what is your ratio?
Mr. Mark Lewis: For the general carpenters?
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Yes.
Mr. Mark Lewis: It’s three to one. For other aspects of carpentry—for example, drywall—it’s a different level.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: You referred to job sites as classrooms, on-the-job training. What can be done to strengthen that aspect?
Mr. Mark Lewis: Well, getting companies to actually do it.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: But making it mandatory in any job bid? Is that what you’re saying?
Mr. Mark Lewis: Yes. I think you have to look at the scale of a project. If it’s a small project, then maybe you don’t want to set minimum numbers, but certainly on the major infrastructure projects that we’re looking at to be the focus of this bill, set the minimum requirements: “You must employ this number of apprentices on the job site.”
Although we think this is a very good start, if we were left to our own devices, we would look to specify the term of apprenticeship, because our carpenters are first-term to fourth-term apprentices. We wouldn’t want all the apprentices to be in their first term and just be seen as cheap labour, but to actually set the term so that you can see the follow-through and people are actually progressing to become journeypersons who have their certificates of qualification, who therefore can work anywhere in the province—across the country, in some cases, or across the border—with everyone knowing that they have the absolute best training.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: And what is your best advice to speak to, say, the parliamentary assistant to colleges, training and universities on how to get ready for the skills shortage that we’re going to have in the future in skilled trades?
Mr. Mark Lewis: Promote apprenticeship training for young people in any way you can, and that’s a multifaceted approach. We need to change the mentality of so many people in our society who, for the best of reasons, want their children to go to college and university and see that as the pinnacle. But we also need people to become part of the skilled trades, and there’s no reason that getting apprenticeships in what are complex, highly skilled, technical and, in lots of ways, very financially rewarding trades should not be seen as a pinnacle as well. I—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much.
Mr. Mark Lewis: Sorry.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We appreciate it. Mr. Dong from the government side.
Mr. Han Dong: I would like to thank MPP Hatfield for bringing the importance of training, colleges and universities to this presentation. Thank you very much for the presentation. I’m going to share my time with MPP Dickson.
You mentioned that this bill, if passed, will help to level the playing field by setting the rules and requirements upfront. How important is it in terms of job creation? That’s the opposite side of what MPP Hatfield was talking about, addressing the labour shortage, but I think long-term infrastructure investment, as we are well aware—we’re investing $130 billion in the next 10 years. We know that that’s going to create a lot of jobs. But setting the requirement upfront: How important is that to job creation?
Mr. Mark Lewis: I think that setting the requirement upfront—its key importance to job creation will come at the end of the project. If you’re going to build a building, if you’re going to build a subway or a bridge, you’re going to need so many labourers and so many carpenters. That’s the hours of actual work, and that’s going to be pretty stable whether you demand apprentices or not.
But what’s clear is that after that job is done, in the future, if we’re going to maximize the amount of employment in our trades, which is done within Ontario by Ontario citizens paying their taxes here, raising their families here, we have to have that training component on projects that are going on now to take into the future. So I would see it as key to job creation on two levels.
Obviously, spending money on building infrastructure creates a lot of jobs, and our members certainly appreciate that. But we want to make sure that there are carpenters, there are electricians, there are sheet metal workers who are Ontarians for the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years, who are going to be here, so that we let them raise their families here.
Mr. Han Dong: You’re letting the industry know that we have skilled labour ready to—
Mr. Mark Lewis: Yes. We have construction companies here that have skilled labour which is the envy of the world that we can export. They can go and bid for jobs elsewhere and take our workers with them to build infrastructure in other countries or other provinces, which brings money back to Ontario.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it. We’ll move to the official opposition: Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks for coming in today. A question: You had mentioned our shortage of skilled trades, which I totally agree with. I’d say we’re already there in a number of trades, and it’s only going to get worse as we grow. The idea of mandating trades apprentices at these job sites to increase training—however, you mentioned that you’re kind of happy with the way the ratios are in this province. Wouldn’t it be an idea to think of maybe mimicking ratios throughout the rest of Canada that would therefore be lowered and increase the amount of apprenticeships we could actually get on these job sites, to actually increase the amount of tradesmen graduating?
Mr. Mark Lewis: There are always going to be debates about where the ratio should be, and that’s an ongoing debate. I think it behooves everybody to be flexible and to look at whether the ratios are too high or too low or should be varied, because we want as many apprentices as possible receiving the correct training and working safely on any site. That debate, we think, should happen within the College of Trades or some other body that’s looking at ratios.
What concerns us more with this bill is not what the ratios are but making sure that they are actually followed on the projects which the government is funding and that we’re not denying our young people the chance to do their apprenticeship hours on the jobs that are covered by this bill.
So on one side, I agree with you, but it’s not our particular focus in this bill.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Okay. With regard to enforcement, where would you see that task falling under? Who would enforce to ensure that there is actually the amount of apprentices on each site? Where would you throw that?
Mr. Mark Lewis: Well, we would try to enforce it if they were unionized contractors, and I’m sure the other unions would too. I would say that we’d be looking to ministry inspectors as well. Obviously, given the nature of these projects, you’re looking at health and safety inspectors and College of Trades inspectors on there. I would say it would probably fall within the College of Trades—more than strictly health and safety—to make sure that if apprenticeship numbers have been set, they are actually followed through on, just in the same way that the College of Trades inspectors are enforcing apprenticeship ratios that they’ve set to make sure they’re not being exceeded.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate you coming before our committee and we appreciate your comments.
Ontario Association of Architects
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, we have from the Ontario Association of Architects the president, Mr. Dreessen, and a policy analyst, Mr. Tracey. Welcome, gentlemen. You have five minutes, sir. Go ahead.
Mr. Toon Dreessen: Good afternoon. Thanks for having us here today. My name is Toon Dreessen and I’m the president of the Ontario Association of Architects.
Mr. Adam Tracey: And I’m Adam Tracey, the policy analyst.
Mr. Toon Dreessen: The OAA is the province’s regulatory body, established by the Architects Act, “to regulate the practice of architecture ... in order that the public interest may be served and protected.”
I’d like to thank the members who have taken the time to comment on the contribution of this province’s architects during debate on Bill 6, formerly Bill 141.
It’s not often that we hear architects mentioned at Queen’s Park. While we take that to be a sign that we do our jobs very well, the fact of the matter is that we would like to be more present during parliamentary debates and decision-making. This is perhaps the first time that the importance of architecture and the province’s architects has been at the forefront of government discussions since the Architects Act was passed in 1984.
Naming architects specifically in this bill was a bold and commendable thing to do, and there’s a good reason why the bill was written this way. I’d like to point to Mr. Fedeli’s comments during second reading debate on May 6; I won’t read it, but it’s part of our written deputation. He points to the fact that the bill specifically names architects because the majority of infrastructure is actually architectural. He highlights a figure of 60% of infrastructure being buildings.
That’s worth repeating, because we do get caught in a discourse focused specifically on roads, bridges and transit. We must all work together to get back to a more balanced conversation about infrastructure, and architects must play a major role in that discussion, because it’s architects who make the majority of infrastructure possible.
As the committee conducts its review of the bill, we’d like to stress that we don’t want to see the purpose of this bill or the focus on architects diminished. We’d feel very strongly against any changes towards that effect.
Some MPPs, both past and present, have characterized this as a feel-good bill that lacks substance. The OAA would strongly disagree. Any legislation designed to further the involvement of architects is an important and long-overdue step in the right direction.
Clearly, we have a lot to say. In the brief time left, I’ll comment specifically on a few items in the bill. We applaud the mandatory requirement for architects to be involved on large infrastructure projects, and for their discretionary inclusion on other projects. While we’re happy with these provisions, we propose a legislative amendment that mandates consideration of whether an architect should be involved on smaller projects. If people aren’t required to at least have that discussion about what an architect would contribute, there will undoubtedly be lost opportunities for the province, as well as lost value.
We also applaud the focus on design excellence. Design excellence recognizes the innovative skills of Ontario’s architects in creating spaces, buildings and communities that respect and enhance the environment and enrich human activity.
Design excellence is measured through five key criteria:
—creativity: the innovative nature of the design solution;
—context: the contribution a project makes to its unique location, to neighbouring uses and to community building;
—sustainability: towards sustainable objectives, including a reduced ecological footprint and reduced dependence on fossil fuels;
—good business: the degree to which the project supports and interprets the business and architectural goals of the client through programming and design; and
—legacy: how the project establishes a new benchmark for architectural elegance and leaves an enriching and enduring icon for future generations.
We’ve heard wonderful examples of these kinds of projects during debate.
Given the importance of design excellence, we’re concerned that it’s only referenced in the “Purpose and Interpretation” section of the bill but doesn’t reappear in the body like other principles such as job creation and economic growth. We’d ask for design excellence to be integrated into the body of the bill, most likely in section 3.
MPPs have rightly pointed out how every dollar invested in public infrastructure significantly raises the GDP. This is important, but there’s still a missing part of this puzzle, which was alluded to by Minister Murray. He commented that “good design doesn’t cost any more or less than bad design.” The OAA would go a step further and argue that good design can cost significantly less.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released a best practices document entitled Decision Making and Investment Planning. In the section “Lifecycle Savings Through Design Innovation,” the FCM concludes that there is an 11-to-1 return on investment over the life of an asset, so the money invested upfront during the design stage into innovation, into design excellence, has a huge return for the government and for the people of Ontario.
I know our time is brief, so I’ll close our remarks here. I’d like to thank you again for the opportunity to speak today and invite any questions or comments you have.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Dreessen. I will move to Mr. Milczyn from the government side.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Good afternoon, Mr. Dreessen. Thank you for coming to Toronto to depute on this.
You mentioned in your deputation the principles of excellence in design. There are a couple of items that I wanted to focus on. One was the creation of a sense of place; whether it’s a hospital, a school or a bridge, there are contributions being made in the design of that. The other one that I know is also a particular interest of yours is design that ensures greater resiliency and improves the performance, the longevity and the presence, big-P sense, of whatever is designed or built. By embedding that as a principle of our infrastructure planning, do you think that’s going to have real benefits for the residents of Ontario?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: Absolutely. I think that design excellence, when it’s integrated from the start of a project, from the beginning of the request-for-proposal process, including how the architectural services are procured right through to the end stages—commissioning and so on. If design excellence is the filter through which we put everything, from the selection of the consultants to a quality-based process—all of that has an enduring and lasting impact on the design by creating a culture in which we value the design excellence and investment that goes into that so that there is an opportunity to creatively explore the right design solution rather than the predetermined one. That opportunity presents enormous value for the people of Ontario, for the government, for all parties invested in the design to see a positive design solution that’s created so that we get buildings that endure and last, that are forward-thinking and have the innovative ideas that maybe this generation might not see or use, but the next generation will.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Do you think the approach that we’re taking in terms of trying to implement a decision-making matrix and framework for long-term infrastructure planning will not only benefit all Ontarians by creating the infrastructure, but your profession in particular in ensuring that there’s a continuity of ensuring improvements to design, improvements to the use of materials and innovation in design and use of materials, and that that, as a continuum, will benefit the quality of infrastructure that’s built and the utility that it provides?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: I think anything we can do to strengthen design excellence, including the procurement process, including the opportunity for architects to do what they do best, which is be creative, is going to help the economy, help secure jobs, help ensure that Ontario is a leader of built form, and forward-thinking—anything that we can do, anything that this government can do to ensure that is going to have a positive impact.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I found the whole principle of excellence in design interesting. You talked about the value that could be added from introducing it right from request for proposal through to commissioning. As you know, in Ontario, tax dollars are hard to come by. People have less and less in their pockets.
You’ve done a lot of work on this concept. I was wondering, have you also done a cost-benefit analysis of how much embedding the design excellence concept would add to the overall cost of a project?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: It’s marginal. It’s in the single digit or less percentage points to recognize the value of design excellence. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’s best practices guide says that it’s an 11-to-1 payback on integrating design excellence and best practices through the design. By creating a culture in which a quality-based selection process in which design excellence principles are the filter through the entire project—not just one, select portion, but through the selection, the procurement, the tendering process, all of that is through a quality-based process—we would see untold payback in value, in contributions to the local economy though job creation, through skills creation.
Ontario architects are recognized around the world as being innovative forward thinkers. We need to find opportunities to strengthen that vision at home by giving those Ontario architects the opportunities to explore those innovative ways of creating design solutions in projects related to infrastructure: schools, hospitals, bridges—all of that needs to find a home.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Very good. Would you be able to provide the background to the numbers that you provided?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: Absolutely.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks, gentlemen, for coming. The engineers mentioned that they should also be included in this legislation as well. I just wanted your thoughts on giving mention to engineers, much like the architects have been in the bill?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: We don’t have any objection to engineers. In one sense, we’re sort of playing on the same team. We’d like to see more investment.
The challenge, I think, is that when you think of infrastructure and you think strictly of engineering, the focus tends to be on a bridge, a sewer or a road. We need to get back to a more holistic understanding of what infrastructure really means. It’s not just about shovel-ready projects that are instantly ready and can be funded with the nearest grant, but long-term projects that are looked at for the horizon as to how communities will grow and evolve over that 10-year period of time.
Mr. Adam Tracey: I would just add that we’ve written a letter supporting the engineering amendment. It’s not something that we oppose, so hopefully that doesn’t come across the wrong way. As we’ve said, we don’t want to lose focus of what the bill is about and the type of infrastructure that the province really builds and uses.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Thank you very much. We appreciate that. Mr. Hatfield.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I’m glad you mentioned that, Adam. For a while there, I thought we were going to have a turf war between architects and engineers.
Mr. Toon Dreessen: No, not at all.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Anyway, it’s good to know that you’re supporting them. I hope the government side remembers that the engineers do have support in what they would like to see included in the bill.
If I can go back to good design versus the cost—design excellence. We have a beautiful art gallery in Windsor. Those of you who have been there recently know it’s like the prow of a ship. It’s all glass. It looks great, but you can’t hang any art on it, and it causes great humidity problems throughout the building. But it looks good, right?
Design excellence should take into account—should it not?—that there’s more to any design? You have to look at all the other things that fall into place behind that.
Mr. Toon Dreessen: That’s right. Design excellence is not just pretty. It’s not just sustainable. It’s not just contextual. It’s a combination of all of these elements. In every building, architecture is a practice. It’s something that is an evolving process.
I can’t speak specifically to the Art Gallery of Windsor. I was at that art gallery maybe eight years ago. I don’t remember—
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Oh, I love it. Don’t get me wrong.
Mr. Toon Dreessen: It’s a beautiful building, but there are elements when we look at design excellence—the Fraser Mustard school, which won a design excellence award here in Toronto at our gala last month. These are buildings that are spectacular and really rise above and create an enduring legacy.
When we think of something like the Bloor Street viaduct, the design foresight and the view that went into planning that with subway tunnels that weren’t going to be used for years—that kind of design excellence stands the test of time, looks beautiful, is enduring, high-quality, functional, and lasts. That kind of design excellence is what we’re talking about: that foresight, that innovative thinking, that out-of-the-box creativity that solves not just today’s problems, but tomorrow’s problems as well.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Has your association given any thought to the value of any future infrastructure project where you feel an architect should be involved? Is there a ceiling or a low basement on that?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: We don’t think that there’s any project that wouldn’t benefit from at least the question, “How could an architect involved in this project help in some way?” It may be that in the analysis it turns out that maybe you don’t, but it’s sort of like when you think of all the different cars you could buy; you might filter all of them, but you’re going to think of the ones that are practical. So in the same way that you’d look at any infrastructure project, you need to say, “How could an architect benefit any of these? Okay, maybe that one—maybe that sidewalk project, that sewer project—or maybe not, but maybe these other ones, these small community centres, these $5-million projects”—whatever they are, there is some benefit to there being an architect being involved from the get-go to at least coordinate, question, assess the parameters and make the right design decisions early on, to be part of that process.
Mr. Percy Hatfield: Just one final quick question, if I could, Chair: Does your association have a policy on public art? Is there a percentage of a total infrastructure project that you feel should be dedicated to public art, sculpture or something in connection with the design of the project?
Mr. Toon Dreessen: Not really, no. There’s no specific threshold. We encourage the involvement of all design aspects. Whether that’s an architect designing the railings or opportunities for public art, there are certainly opportunities where we could see that happen, but in terms of a percentage or a funding model, I’m not aware of anything. Are you?
Mr. Adam Tracey: No. I was just going to add that I think this has actually come through my inbox in, I would say, the last couple of days. I think it’s a conversation that we’re actually about to have in the very near future, because I know that people have talked about tying a percentage or a number to art. The association will—
Mr. Percy Hatfield: I encourage you to follow up on that. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate you both coming before the committee.
Mr. Toon Dreessen: Thanks very much.
Ontario Good Roads Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have, from the Ontario Good Roads Association, Mr. Scott Butler, who is the manager of policy and research. Welcome, Mr. Butler. You have five minutes, sir.
Mr. Scott Butler: My name is Scott Butler. I’m the manager of policy and research for the Ontario Good Roads Association. Our mandate is to represent the municipal infrastructure and transportation interests of 433 of Ontario’s 444 municipalities.
I’m here to speak in favour of this bill, with a small amount of trepidation. It seems that for too long infrastructure planning and infrastructure stewardship in Ontario seemed to operate without realizing the full potential of asset management planning principles.
Five years ago, OGRA began an advocacy campaign here at Queen’s Park targeting all three parties, seeking to have asset management planning made mandatory for municipalities looking to receive provincial funding dollars. It was a rather long and arduous campaign, but nonetheless we were ultimately successful, and we’re starting to see and realize the full benefits of that now. In part recognizing the benefit that asset management planning provides, we’re happy to speak in favour of the bill.
There are two areas of concern, though, when we look forward with regard to Bill 6. These are largely to do with the objectives of the bill actually being realized above and beyond implementation.
First, in order to ensure that the objectives of Bill 6 are actually realized, we feel it’s incumbent that municipalities, as the primary stewards of the majority of infrastructure in this province, are given some sort of opportunity to collaborate in terms of prioritization of the objectives contained in section 3. This is even more important when we look at recent history, where infrastructure program funding has tended to be tripartite in nature. Municipalities have oftentimes been the last ones to find out exactly what those objectives are—and we hear the term “shovel-ready projects” thrown about. This isn’t really consistent with any sort of asset management planning principle. To overcome this scramble that invariably takes place when these programs are announced, we’d like to make sure that municipalities are given an opportunity to collaborate and help identify which of those principles are going to be prioritized.
The second area of concern for us refers back to asset management planning standardization. Currently, the province requires municipalities to have AMPs on record and filed if they’re to receive any provincial funding. We’ve been arguing for a number of years now for greater standardization of those plans. This includes a data standard, as well as some sort of central repository where that information can be catalogued and put into a database that would allow that decision-making to take place. Unfortunately, the effects of mandated asset management plans to date haven’t really been realized.
If we look at the data standard, there are currently four different ways to measure the width of a road in Ontario. All of them are acceptable. What this does is it leaves a fairly wide amount of leeway in terms of what the asset we’re actually talking about is. That’s one of many examples when you have these competing standards. In order for the province and municipalities to realize the full objectives of this bill, it’s going to be incumbent upon coming up with some greater standardization and tightening up the expectations that the province has.
That said, as I indicated earlier, we’re happy to speak in favour of this bill. But we feel that, as a proper first step towards realizing a long-term objective of providing the people of Ontario with the assets that they’ve come to expect from all levels of government—we’re happy to support it, but we would encourage the province to begin deliberating how exactly it is that they can enhance some of the objectives identified in the bill.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. We appreciate that.
We shall start with the official opposition. Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thanks for being here. You spoke about AMP. When I reflect upon the municipalities in my riding of Huron–Bruce, when it comes to bridges and whatnot, I’m hearing a lot of frustration that they’re applying for funds but they’re in essence being told, “Fund it on your own.” Literally, they’ve received letters from the government, from the province saying, “Why don’t you take a loan out and do it yourself?” In essence, it almost feels like the government is passing their debt load along to the lower tier, and they’re very frustrated about that.
How do you reconcile municipalities that have done a really good job managing their assets and they get penalized for it? Do you talk about that at Good Roads?
Mr. Scott Butler: We do, extensively. The reality is that because of the lack of asset management oversight previous to this, there has been a great degree of variation between the quality of how municipalities have maintained their assets.
One of the things we’ve realized, and it applies specifically to bridges, is that in a study we undertook in relation to the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario—together, we looked at bundling assets. Is it possible that a series of lower-tier municipalities might get together, bundle all of their bridges and pursue an AFP to see if there’s a possibility? The study came back and identified two things: Yes, it seems that there’s some potential there, but the primary obstacle was that there was too much uncertainty, that the data was too incongruent to actually afford the private sector any opportunity to bid with certainty on projects.
We think that an incremental process, where we’re increasingly elevating the standards of asset management plans, may be an opportunity to address some of those long-standing grievances municipalities have. It may also provide a bit of an opportunity, if you begin looking at bundling the assets, to level some of the playing field, where municipalities that have significant needs may be able to partner with neighbouring municipalities that may not have significant needs. It may be able to aggregate costs and realize some efficiencies that way.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate that.
We’ll move to Mr. Natyshak from the third party.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you, Mr. Butler, for being here. It’s good to see you.
We know municipalities must have collaborative opportunities through—you referenced section 3. Is there a comparable mechanism in other jurisdictions that enables municipalities to have a voice when it comes to asset management planning?
Mr. Scott Butler: I honestly can’t speak to that. One thing I can say is that the province does have an MOU with AMO. That would be, I would think, without giving it much thought prior to this, an easy avenue for beginning those discussions.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: So that’s the mechanism through the MOU currently, develop a system—
Mr. Scott Butler: Yes, I guess. It’s just—
Mr. Taras Natyshak: It’s right there in front of us anyhow, so why not—
Mr. Scott Butler: Yes. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel or, God forbid, create a new bureaucratic process.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: For other jurisdictions that have standardized AMPs, what does it look like, where can we look at it, has it delivered the results in which we’re all looking for the efficiencies and effectiveness of asset management and—
Mr. Scott Butler: There are a couple of jurisdictions that stand out. British Columbia is a little further down the road on some of this, and they’ve begun to realize some efficiencies. When you look at the performance the province has had out there recently, it seems to validate the fact that certainly at the local level, in terms of collaboration between local government and senior orders of government, they seem to be able to move very fluidly in terms of building out and acting on initiatives.
Australia is held out as a model example for whatever reason. They have a longer history of this, but the reality was that the senior orders of government in Australia made a commitment, and they were very rigid in terms of their expectations, in terms of what local orders of government had to do in order to access those pools of funding.
As a first step, as I said, this is a good effort. We want to see it elevated so that the objectives are realized in a collaborative way.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Do Australia or British Columbia have a clearer, more dedicated, streamlined commitment to funding than Ontario would have?
Mr. Scott Butler: I couldn’t speak to that.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: But you’re saying that they tie the metrics to funding through the provisions of their asset management plans. They have to have their books in order, so to speak, and the data compiled to—
Mr. Scott Butler: Yes. Well, when I was referencing the data earlier—the cliché, of course, is apples to apples and oranges to oranges, or in this case one of four possible road widths to one of four possible road widths. I recognize it sounds very esoteric, but you need a data standard in order to be able to provide the certainty and in order to be able to ensure that municipalities and the province, when they’re speaking together to prioritize whatever asset class it is they want to take action on, they’re actually talking the same language.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
We’ll move to the government side. Ms. McMahon.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Hi. How are you?
Mr. Scott Butler: I’m doing fine.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: It’s nice to see you.
Mr. Scott Butler: Likewise.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Building on my colleague’s questions a little bit, could you give us some more examples of how the province can best support the AMPs? To your earlier point, you were talking about a data standard, a greater standardization. If you can do two things with some specificity, it would be great: Give the committee an example of what that might look like, and, within current operating procedures now or in a future, better state, what that might look like—to help you do your work?
Mr. Scott Butler: Sure. I’ll go back again. We like the road width one because it seems to be the one that’s most widely understood but also somewhat the most comical. Municipalities maintain roughly 301,000 lane kilometres of road. The difference between the narrowest measurement and the widest measurement is actually about 1.2 to 1.4 metres. If you aggregate that out across 301,000 lane kilometres of roads, we’re talking about a substantial variance between what the narrowest possibility of that might be and what the widest possibility might be.
When the private sector is looking to bid on contracts, when municipalities potentially could be looking to bundle initiatives together, it’s important that everybody has the same definitions, the same standards in place, so that they, again, are talking apples to apples and oranges to oranges. In terms of what that would mean from the provincial side—and I recognize it’s somewhat strange for a municipal association to ask the province to afford even more oversight on something—what we would like to see is the province begin standardizing what they accept as an asset management plan, become more prescriptive in what is in and what is out in terms of the AMPs that municipalities file. That will allow them to begin aggregating that information in a much more cohesive way, and it should provide them with the insight that they need to make the investments that they want to make.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: That’s helpful. I assume you’ve been prescriptive in terms of supplying this information to us so that we can begin to do this, which will be helpful for you from a planning point of view.
You talked about a database earlier, a data repository. Not to get too granular, but is this something you would envision that the industry could maintain or is this something that the government should be looking at doing?
Mr. Scott Butler: Well, there are lots of them out there. In 2004, OGRA began to put together an asset management application that allows small municipalities to catalogue and inventory their assets. It’s a wonderful data model. It’s just like Google, except we don’t have the billions of dollars behind us in order to actually roll it out. But it’s free to municipalities to use. There’s no shortage of private sector options as well. Obviously, the needs of somebody like Toronto are much different than, say, Manitouwadge. So what we would like to see is that guidance from the province in terms of establishing something. How they manage the data they receive now I’m not necessarily certain of. But it would seem to me that if they’re going to fully embrace asset management planning and include the broader public sector, including municipalities, they’re going to need some sort of repository that will allow that information to be aggregated.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: That makes sense.
Thank you, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate it, Mr. Butler.
Mr. Scott Butler: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Have a great afternoon.
Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): From the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, we have the executive director, Mr. Kerur. You have five minutes to make your presentation. Welcome, sir.
Mr. Sharad Kerur: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for permitting me to be here today. My name is Sharad Kerur. I’m the executive director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. I’m here today representing 760 member organizations which are responsible for providing homes to thousands of people across Ontario.
By providing housing that families can afford, social housing providers play a key role in helping Ontarians lead healthy, happy and productive lives. Social housing is not currently listed in the definition of infrastructure contained in Bill 6. I am here today to recommend that this be remedied.
Including social housing in the definition of “infrastructure” will make explicit municipalities’ discretion to apply future infrastructure funding to housing assets that are under their administration. It is also an important way that the province can support the social housing sector and municipalities at no additional cost.
Right now, the future of social housing in Ontario is in peril. Municipalities are grappling with the need to repair crumbling social housing assets as the outstanding capital repair bill has climbed to as high as $2.6 billion. Housing providers have admitted that they may have to start closing units that are no longer safe for people to live in. Social housing is an investment that taxpayers have funded over the past 50 years, and it is currently at risk.
Bill 6 has been tabled by a government that is keen to use infrastructure investment to build up Ontario. In the bill, the connection between infrastructure and economic growth is clearly outlined. Like schools and hospitals, social housing infrastructure is vital for economic growth, creating jobs while simultaneously providing an important public service to Ontarians.
In previous budgets, the province has invested in social housing in order to create jobs and boost the economy. Moreover, social housing providers are already listed as eligible to receive infrastructure financing under the Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation Act. Aligning Bill 6 with this legislation would provide clarity on the government’s intent.
Over the past 10 years social housing waiting lists in Ontario have swelled by more than 40,000 households. There are currently over 168,000 families, seniors and single adults waiting for up to 10 years for an affordable place to call home.
At the same time, housing providers are forced to close units that have become unsafe due to the lack of funds for repair and revitalization. Again, amending the definition of infrastructure in Bill 6 to allow municipalities access to direct funding to social housing assets in need of repair would bring us one step closer to an Ontario where everyone has access to a safe, secure and affordable home. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. You only used three minutes. That’s fantastic—very efficient.
Mr. Sharad Kerur: Brevity in the social housing sector, Mr. Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall start with the government side. Who’s up? Mr. Milczyn.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Thank you, Mr. Kerur, for your presentation this afternoon. You made the point that social housing is a piece of infrastructure that had been funded for 50 years in this country. Could you speak a little bit to the benefit that long-term infrastructure planning could have broadly for all infrastructure and certainly specifically for social housing as well?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: I think you hit on the very point in terms of “long-term” and “planning.” Right now, funds that are provided through various programs, such as the investment in affordable housing, are really time-limited. Typically, those funds have been mingled in with federal contributions, and usually the federal government is the one that sets the time frame on the use of those funds. I think ongoing, flexible funding through an infrastructure plan would allow for a much longer time frame in terms of being able to determine, according to good asset management plans, what needs to be repaired today versus the mid term, versus the long term.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: So part of your presentation today is that you’d like to amend the definition of “infrastructure” contained in this.
Mr. Sharad Kerur: That’s correct.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: What do you think would be the net benefit of doing that in terms of social housing in the long term?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: I think two things. First of all, there would be a clear signal from the province that social housing is part of local infrastructure. That’s a clear element. In fact, the Premier of Ontario, in previous speeches both as Premier and formerly as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, did, in fact, say that she regarded social housing as being part of infrastructure.
This would also help to provide better guidance to municipalities that want to be able to provide funds towards social housing as part of their planning process, even where it isn’t explicitly stated. Municipalities typically require some direction in terms of the allocations that they are provided for funds. This would be, again, a clearer way to be able to give them that direction as well as some discretion.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Thank you very much.
Ms. Thompson, from the official opposition.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thanks very much for being here. When we think about poverty in Ontario, we hope we have a government that is tuned in to the needs, but hydro costs keep soaring, the ORPP—it’s a job tax on both the employee and the employer. Now we’re hearing, and you’re confirming it today, that there are waiting lists for social housing, and that in the last 10 years, you specifically point out, the waiting list has swelled by more than 40,000 households. So my first question is: Have you been consulted, or has the government reached out to you to discuss Bill 6 prior to today?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: We have not explicitly been consulted on Bill 6 per se. We do typically get approached by the government through a variety of different ministries that touch our members directly. Bill 6 doesn’t necessarily touch our members directly. It in fact touches our members by virtue of the way housing is administered and funded, so it really is a support for our municipalities.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay. Very good. My second question is: With regards to the number 40,000, can you tell me where those 168,000 families, seniors, and single adults are, in terms of regions? How would you divvy that up?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: Well, the vast majority of that increase is of course in the larger urban centres, so typically Toronto and Ottawa would absorb the largest numbers.
The number is based on existing social housing waiting lists. We admit in our reports over the years that those numbers we regard as being minimum numbers, because in areas such as rural Ontario or in small urban Ontario or in northern Ontario, we don’t really know whether in fact that number is accurate. We think that it’s probably a lot higher, because people may choose to not put their names on social housing waiting lists, recognizing that there are long wait times.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I appreciate that. Thank you. That’s it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall move to the third party. Mr. Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much, Mr. Kerur. Are you aware that there’s nothing that prohibits the government at this very moment from making long-term social housing planning?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: I’m not aware—
Mr. Taras Natyshak: They could absolutely do it today, on their own regard, without Bill 6 at all. They could make a commitment to X amount of social housing units over X amount of years and, of course, tied with X amount of dollars. So we view this bill as obviously something that is welcome, but aspirational, in the sense that they could certainly do it without the requirement of this bill.
A real easy question for you to answer: What has led to the backlog of 40,000 households and 168,000 families waiting for social housing?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: Well, a couple of things. One is that the provision of housing is largely a marketplace-driven exercise right now. So, as we see the price of housing, largely around home ownership and around condos, there’s been little provided in the way of purpose-built rental and even less so in terms of affordable rental and certainly even less with respect to rental that meets the needs of low- and moderate-income people. Whenever you have prices going up and supply going down, you have, naturally, a big backlog in terms of the people who are trying to access that very limited amount of affordable supply.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Bill 6 is about establishing priorities when it comes to infrastructure. I think your recommendation is quite reasonable. Would you, and would the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, prioritize the priority of social housing, in a sense address those acute areas of need and acute demographics—those with disabilities, those who are marginalized populations? Have you done that type of exercise?
Mr. Sharad Kerur: We haven’t done that exercise explicitly, but I think by including the definition of social housing in infrastructure, you are in fact allowing that prioritization for social housing to bubble up to the top.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Great. Thank you very much. Thanks, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Kerur, for coming forward this afternoon. We appreciate it.
Mr. Sharad Kerur: Thank you.
Ontario General Contractors Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We have the Ontario General Contractors Association next. We have the president, Mr. Thurston, and the director of government relations, Mr. Frame, I believe, with us this afternoon. Welcome, gentlemen. You have five minutes—is the chair stuck? Good job.
Mr. Clive Thurston: It’s a good thing I’m a contractor.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Exactly. Welcome, sir.
Mr. Clive Thurston: Thank you very much, and we very much appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
The Ontario General Contractors Association represents over 200 members working in the province of Ontario in the construction industry. On average, we do $10 billion worth of work in this province every year. If it’s big, beautiful and ugly, we build it. We work in many areas in this industry, including health and safety, education, excellence and contracts and procurement.
We have worked with various ministers of infrastructure over the years, and it has been very supportive of the government’s commitment to long-term investment and strategic investment in infrastructure. It’s a vital part of the economic plan.
This bill supports and extends the principles of strategic long-term infrastructure planning by extending them to the broader public sector, with a focus on laying a foundation for the province’s economic growth.
We want to touch on three parts. Section 3, making decisions: The bill proposes to establish a list of planning principles. This requires the province and the broader public sector governments to implement these processes and procedures with the purpose of enhancing the quality and the economic benefits of our infrastructure assets. These are important principles, and we fully support the intention to establish the practices into law.
The intent is to maximize the long-term benefits of the investment. OGCA proposes that it should include established procurement and tendering processes in order to produce value for money for the project and the taxpayer.
Broader public sector buyers generally are not experienced or equipped to tender, award and manage construction projects. Their procurement experts are very capable of managing most of the purchasing needs, but our experience is that the broader sector of infrastructure procurement is wasting literally hundreds of millions of dollars every year in Ontario.
It is a result of poor planning that bids are coming in over budget. There are numerous change orders and delays that can add years to a project, not to mention the litigation. Our experience is that professional procurement and contract management using standard industry documents will avoid the majority of these challenges and return greater value for money.
Many broader sector entities currently pay a significant premium. They are known to have tenders that contain unreasonable requirements, often related to transferring risk, and issue plans that are incomplete and require numerous change orders. Some of our members will not bid many of these municipalities, school boards and transit authorities due to what we call the “aggravation factor.” Those who do bid generally add significant additional cost to their tender.
We recommend that Bill 6, under section 3, also recognizes and incorporates the principles of effective procurement, tendering and contract management. The intent is to maximize the value of the investment and reduce delays in project delivery.
I’d like to next address section 7. The design of an infrastructure asset is a complex process that involves a number of professionals. Section 7 requires that an architect or “a person, other than an architect, with demonstrable expertise in and experience with design in relation to infrastructure assets” be involved in the preparation of design. This we fully support.
We are concerned that the critical design at the very least involves the engineering process as a fundamental component of the design, utility and longevity of the asset. For that reason, we fully support the recommendations of the Consulting Engineers of Ontario to include engineers in the preparation of design under section 7 of this act.
Support for apprentices: I was very happy to hear our friends from the carpenters actually admit, finally, that general contractors are not the ones in charge of the apprenticeship program. I was surprised he said that.
OGCA actively participates in outreach programs to support the establishment of apprentices in the construction industry. We recognize that we have a responsibility to provide apprentice opportunities, and we support the bill’s goal to expand the opportunities for apprentices. However, we are supporting an amendment to this section to move it away from apprenticeship quotas and replace it with requirements for an apprenticeship plan.
The bill’s proposal to prescribe numbers of apprentices through the tendering process is totally impractical. The general contractor who bids on the tender and signs the contract will be asked to guarantee the required numbers without having control of the workforce. The general contractor manages the project, usually with a core of supervisors and tradespersons. The work is subcontracted to the trades who are not a party to the tender and who have control and responsibility for their own workforce.
We are confident the intent can be fulfilled by a requirement of a plan requiring contractors involved in the project to track their apprenticeship participation and be accountable for the results. This fulfills the intent of this proposal to provide apprenticeship opportunities for all the trades that are involved.
This bill is principled in its nature and should continue that approach with apprentices. A requirement that all contractors and subcontractors participate in an apprenticeship plan and report on its implementation and achievements will meet the intent of this proposal. This approach is enforceable, it’s flexible, it’s administrable and it’s fair, and it will produce the results that the bill intends.
With that, I’d like to thank you again for the opportunity to participate. Hopefully, you have time for more discussion.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Thurston.
We shall start with the official opposition. Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks for coming in.
I appreciate your comments on section 3 about instead of continually always having legislation go towards the private workforce and trying to control what they do, maybe the bureaucracy themselves can get their house in order and actually be competent in delivering these tenders out to people.
I’ll tell you one thing: One of the many reasons I got into politics is something I heard behind the pharmacy counter all the time: how overrun every single project seems to be done by any government that’s in power. It drives people nuts. They would like to see 100% of the money go towards building whatever infrastructure they need, but at the same time come in on budget, like any other business has to do in this province; otherwise, they just can’t go forward.
I’m very glad to see that you’ve made comment that if we could actually get our house in order here, as the government, and decrease the change orders, delays and maybe have some come out on budget, we would have more money for other projects.
You heard the gentleman beforehand talk about social housing. Maybe we would have some money for social housing on the side instead of having to take it from our infrastructure programs in order to provide it.
Anyway, I just wanted to say those few things. You don’t really have to comment on them.
Going to the ratios: You made a good point that the contractors really have no say over the ratio issue. Perhaps the problem isn’t the fact that we need to legislate how many apprenticeships to have. Maybe we need to look at our ratios in the trades to start with, to open up more opportunities so the subcontractors could actually bring in more of the apprenticeships on their own. They would be more able to do so, not having to hire so many journeymen to have those apprentices. Do you have any comment on that?
Mr. Clive Thurston: The ratio issue, as you heard earlier, is a fairly touchy one. I noticed that my friend from the carpenters refused to answer the question on whether 3 to 1 was any good, and that doesn’t surprise me, considering they are such supporters of the College of Trades.
Yes, there is a problem in opening things up. This is one of the problems we have with legislating quotas. If you’ve got three journeymen to an apprentice, and you’re starting a job and you’re told you have to hire 10 apprentices, you’ve got to hire 30 journeymen. What if you only need 15? No thought went into that. We don’t control that. That’s the law.
If this bill went ahead and set quotas and said, “On a job of this size, you must hire X number of carpentry apprentices,” then we have to hire three times as many journeymen. That increases the cost of the project. It affects the viability of the project and the ability to deliver it in an efficient manner—something else my friend from the carpenters mentioned, about us being interested in delivering our projects on time, on budget, and efficiently. Is that such a bad thing? I loved him saying that, but I don’t understand what his point was.
We want to deliver projects properly. We want to hire apprentices. But our hands are tied based on the rules that are there. If the winning bidder is required to put a plan in place, he can then sit down with each of his subtrades that he’s hired for that job and say, “What are your rules? How many can you hire?” He can get all that information right at the start, before it starts, put his plan together and say, “We’re going to be hiring this many electrical apprentices, mechanical apprentices, drywall,” whatever. But you can’t do that prior to the tender. You just can’t do it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Appreciate the comments.
Mr. Natyshak from the NDP.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you so much. You’ve raised some really interesting points and important points. I think you’re making a case against the continued usage of P3s to finance and build the majority of our infrastructure projects in the province, are you not?
Mr. Clive Thurston: No, that would get me fired.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Can someone really fire you?
Mr. Clive Thurston: Oh, yes. Have you met Geoff Smith? Trust me.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: You’re sort of melding them in with municipalities, school boards and transit authorities in their usage. The bill doesn’t cover municipalities or school boards. It may touch on transit authorities; I’m not certain. But you’re aware that we can’t talk about how they finance, right?
Mr. Clive Thurston: No, but they generally will follow good practice, and if the province is following good practice, the municipalities will quickly fall in line.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Was it not the case that the Ministry of Transportation, as well as Infrastructure Ontario, had up until recently a lot of resources and a lot of good practices and a good track record in financing, designing and managing projects?
Mr. Clive Thurston: Yes. We’ve had 10 years of it now, 12 years of it. We’ve built a whole ton of hospitals, which we would not have built, and it works. The thing with AFPs or P3s or whatever you want to call them is they are one tool in the box. They make sense for certain kinds of projects.
Just as bundling, which my friend from Good Roads mentioned—bundling can make sense in certain aspects. What I always discovered is, it makes no sense in doing schools, as Alberta has found out, and others. Don’t just bundle projects to come up with the financial number because it fails, and IO is aware of this, but it does work for certain kinds of projects, if you do the preplanning and the research.
Same with a P3. A P3 can work as long as the proper planning—and IO has been, I would say, very good at that, I think mostly because IO has a major open-door policy with this industry. We actually sat, myself and others, on the planning committee that set up IO, so we were given that opportunity to speak. To this day, there are regular meetings between the industry—you saw some of my predecessors here, the engineers and that. We’re all part of an alliance that meets regularly with IO to talk to them about best practices. Have they always followed our advice? No. But that’s why we keep talking.
So yes, we’re not against P3s. They work. They should be used where they make sense, but we need to make the argument that it makes sense.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
We’ll move to the government side, Ms. Kiwala.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Thank you so much for coming here today. I have had some experience being a general contractor, so I—
Mr. Clive Thurston: I’m sorry.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: A very light level compared to what you’re doing, so I do appreciate your work and the complexity of some of the different areas that you need to be mindful of. Certainly, coming in on budget is critical for maximum benefit to our economy and for our communities.
I know you’ve had some discussions with the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure on the apprenticeship aspect of the legislation. Can you explain to the committee your position on this aspect of the legislation, just provide a few more details there?
Mr. Clive Thurston: Yes. As I said—and you’re right, we have had discussions. We welcome them. He was very open to our concerns. Part of the suggestion for the plan idea came from the minister’s staff, and we fully endorse it. We have to find a way to deal with hiring people and apprentices and all of that, there’s no question. And we want to do that, but we have to do it in a way that works.
The recommendation that was made to us by the minister’s staff was, what about requiring that the bidder has to submit a proper plan, showing what apprentices are going to be used on the job, how many, and then track it to make sure it is happening. I can tell you that right now, there is no research. Nobody has taken any existing projects and tracked the use of apprentices. We don’t have those numbers; it’s never been done. That’s another reason to stay away from setting quotas. You don’t want to do that.
But mandate the winning bidder that you have to sit down with your trades and work out your apprenticeship plan: How many are going to be hired for this project; what’s the duration? One thing I do strongly agree with, it needs to be staggered. You don’t want all first-year apprentices; you want to make sure it’s staggered, so that is a good point.
Then the winning contractor knows who his subtrades are, because, as you know, in each division we might get 10 different subtrades bidding us. We don’t know which one we’re actually going to end up in a contract with until the very end. We can sit down with our team; we can find out what they’re governed by. If they’re governed by union contracts, then the ratios apply. It could be an open-shop contractor, where it’s a totally different thing, but we can find out, and we put that plan together; we submit it to IO or the government, whoever is in charge, to approve it. If it’s approved, then it’s monitored, tracked, and then we finally have some research.
Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Thank you. I’m just going share my time with my colleague.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You’ve got 18 seconds. There will be no response.
Mr. Han Dong: For the record, I understand the ratio and the challenging practice and all that stuff, and you answered most of my questions with the previous answer.
Do you, in general, support the intent of the apprentice provision of this bill, which is to legislate to require their involvement?
Mr. Clive Thurston: Yes.
Mr. Han Dong: Okay, thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Very quickly, do you want to just elaborate for 10 seconds?
Mr. Clive Thurston: Just in line with what I’ve said: as long as it’s a workable plan that is in the best interests of everybody, and that it will work. Let’s not implement something on to the general contractors that just isn’t going to work, that even if you passed it we couldn’t do it. Give us a tool that allows us to do what you want and we’ll do it. We’ll beat the drum for it, no problem.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Thurston. Thank you, Mr. Frame for coming and joining us this afternoon.
Social Purchasing Project
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, from the Social Purchasing Project, we have Mr. Jon Harstone. He’s project manager. We welcome you, sir. You have five minutes. My Vice-Chair will take the chair for a few minutes.
Mr. Jon Harstone: I’d like to commend the government for introducing Bill 6. This bill has the potential to transform how infrastructure is conceptualized in Ontario. Infrastructure should be more than just building highways, transit and hospitals. Infrastructure spending has the potential to transform communities.
The amendments I’m proposing—and I believe they may have been handed out; you’ll probably see similar ones from some of the other groups working on this—if they’re incorporated, it will permit infrastructure spending to underpin the province’s poverty reduction strategy and provide real benefits to the unemployed and low-income Ontarians.
I work for the social housing project—sorry, Social Purchasing Project. The social housing project was back there. We help social enterprises get contracts with government and private corporations. Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is to achieve a social, environmental or cultural goal. The businesses I work with are mainly, but not exclusively, owned by non-profit organizations. Their primary purpose is to provide job training and employment to people from historically disadvantaged groups, including street-involved youth, people living with mental illness, people with intellectual disabilities and so on. I help the social enterprises get contracts so they can create meaningful employment for their disadvantaged employees.
Now, one area where we’ve had some real success is the Pan Am Games. The games are an enormous infrastructure program and, from the get-go, community benefits were central to the way they thought about the games. The games’ legacy includes not just sports facilities, housing and transit, but also employment and training opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups. The games’ procurement policy was structured to encourage diverse suppliers and social enterprises to bid on some of the small and medium-size contracts. I’ll give two examples.
Kitigan distributes and sells arts and crafts by aboriginal artists. Kitigan won the contract to make moccasins with the Pan Am logo that would be sold at the games and, currently, more than 40 aboriginal craftsmen and women—most of whom are living on a reserve—are making moccasins, earning money, which directly addresses poverty reduction.
Another successful social enterprise is the Phoenix Print Shop, which trains formerly homeless youth to become printers. Phoenix won a contract with the games—a contract that directly benefits street-involved youth by giving these youth skills that allow them, when they leave the program, to be gainfully employed.
The Pan Am Games had a procurement framework that made it easier for social enterprises and diverse employers to get contracts that directly addressed poverty reduction. These community benefits were achieved without incurring additional costs and without compromising quality. We need to build on the success of the Pan Am Games and integrate community benefits and a proactive procurement policy in infrastructure planning so that spending will directly benefit low-income Ontarians living in poverty. Community benefit agreements coupled with appropriate procurement policies can make this happen.
Along with colleagues from labour and the community, I’m asking the committee to consider amending the bill to add the words “community benefits” to the purpose, and then define community benefits in section 2 as follows:
“‘Community benefits’ means ‘tangible social and economic opportunities and outcomes for communities, especially historically disadvantaged groups, including but not limited to jobs, training, and apprenticeships; procurement from local businesses and/or social enterprises; and other benefits as determined in consultation with the community.’”
I’d really like to emphasize the community consultation. To make the community benefits work, it has to be a community-driven process.
The result can be transformative. Infrastructure spending without any additional cost to the government can support employment and training opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups, which in turn will address poverty reduction.
Amending Bill 6 to include the community benefits is a win-win proposition. Thank you.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Joe Dickson): Thank you. We will now go—I’m not going to try to pronounce your name—
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Let’s do it, Chair. Come on.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Joe Dickson): I got it right one time. I’ll go to the third party to commence questioning.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you so much, Chair.
Mr. Han Dong: MPP Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thanks to my colleagues.
Thanks very much for your presentation. Your suggestions seem so reasonable that I can’t imagine they would ever be implemented.
Mr. Jon Harstone: Thank you.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Yes, it seems too reasonable to try to look for a triple net benefit in a neighbourhood procurement.
I wonder if you’ve done any analysis on a procurement policy, provincially-driven, that had buying-local provisions or even, God forbid, some protectionist provisions built into it, and what the ramifications would be, given multinational trading agreements. Are they in conflict with each other?
Mr. Jon Harstone: The one thing that I have been told by the people who are working on international trade is that that’s a red herring. That’s not where the problems are. The EU has regulations up the wazoo and you can do this local purchasing, if you know how to phrase the tenders properly and if you know how to work the regulations. That’s not a problem.
The international trade regulations are not going to be a problem around local sourcing, finding ways to assist social enterprises and diverse groups to get contracts.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: I like the concept. I think you’re on to something here. You had referenced the Pan Am Games—
Mr. Jon Harstone: Yes.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Was there that type of dialogue in the process?
Mr. Jon Harstone: Absolutely. If you went to take a look at the bidding formula—Pan Am Games went out of their way to encourage diverse suppliers, that is, women-owned businesses, aboriginal- and minority-owned businesses and social enterprises, to bid. They actually had a tendering process in which there were points awarded to make sure that there was going to be serious consideration given to those groups. So the Pan Am Games is seen as a real leader in innovative procurement techniques.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Interesting. Well, I’ll be interested to follow up and to see what the ultimate effects have been. Thank you very much. Thanks, Chair.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Joe Dickson): Thank you, member Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Ah.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Joe Dickson): I will now go to the government side. Member Peter.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Yes, it seems we need to have some training room.
Mr. Harstone, thank you for your presentation this afternoon. We had an earlier witness also speak about community benefits.
In broader terms, though, could you speak to the benefit of long-term infrastructure planning and what the impacts of that would be on the provision of services, jobs and employment in Ontario?
Mr. Jon Harstone: In terms of this long-term infrastructure planning—don’t we wish we could make this happen?
When we think about infrastructure, if you just think about it as roads, not as how those roads knit the community together, then that won’t make sense. We have to have infrastructure that says, “The roads create bridges between communities; the hospitals are a way of helping people improve their quality of life.”
If you start thinking about your long-term infrastructure in terms of how it’s going to impact the whole community and how it’s going to improve it—not just clear economic: “Here, we’re going to get some more apprenticeships”; that’s important—how it’s going to actually make everybody’s life better, and how 50 years or 100 years from now it’s going to make that difference, then I think that will work.
Part of what I’m seeing is that infrastructure can have an incredible impact on disadvantaged communities if it’s structured correctly and it goes into those disadvantaged communities giving people opportunities to find jobs, rather than what I’m worried about with Metrolinx, where it will gentrify the community and we’re going to find the poor forced out. We’ve got to find a way to make sure they can stay and get work. Proper long-term planning is something that will include the entire community and everybody in it for the benefit of all.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: You referenced the approach that the Pan Am/Parapan Games has taken. Metrolinx also has adopted, on the Eglinton Crosstown project, some community benefits into some of the projects. Is there additional cost to implementing community benefit agreements to the overall project costs?
Mr. Jon Harstone: I don’t believe there is. Now, I’m particularly speaking about getting procurement to work for social enterprises and small and medium business. The reason I can say that is that we’ve been spending a lot of time talking with the private sector about trying to get them to do it. Up until now basically there has been a small group that gets an ask to bid, and recently private business has been saying, “We’d like to see more diversity,” and those diverse suppliers are now getting contracts because they’re hungry, they’re innovative, they’re small and they want to make things work. The older guys who have always been getting the contracts have been sitting back on their laurels and they’re now losing work. Why? Because small business is the generator and social enterprise is a particular kind of small business that works with people; it does a lot of training and works with people who are historically disadvantaged.
But I think that in our infrastructure projects, if you create a way to get more small businesses and gave them a leg up—that may mean disaggregating some of the contracts—you’re going to see a net cost benefit to us.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Appreciate that.
We’ll move to the official opposition. Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks very much for coming in. I was reading your note on community benefits. It’s a term I’ve heard a couple of times today. The last bit of the line on the definitions is “consultation with the local community.” I think we have to be quite cautious of one aspect of having consultation, but another aspect is actually listening to that consultation.
I’ll tell you that in my riding there is infrastructure going on right now and this government is going to shut down the 401 for farmers in my area. All their farm equipment is now going to be forced onto heavily trafficked highways, which is (1) unsafe, and (2) it cuts their route from their fields to the marketplace. And I’m pretty sure what we’re growing in Elgin–Middlesex–London is actually bought, sold and consumed by the members of Toronto and GTA ridings who are ignoring the pleas of our farmers.
However, I liked your aspect on not just consultation but listening to the local people who are going to actually benefit, because right now they’re axing our agricultural economic powerhouse by the fact that they’re shutting down this 401 for our farmers.
Mr. Jon Harstone: Right, exactly, because this infrastructure cuts both ways. It’s a benefit and it can also be detrimental to our communities if we do not implement it in a way that makes some sense.
Of course, it’s the local people who know how it’s going to impact. Therefore, we’ve got to make sure that if we set up a community benefits agreement, part of what—when we were looking at this and talking about it, we said all infrastructure is going to be an absolute pain in the ass to do, so there’s got to be some benefit to the community if we’re going to do it. How else do you sell it? “Oh, this is very good for you. Yes, the 401 is going to now be three lanes all the way.” Who cares? It doesn’t help the farmers unless we are looking at, “You’re going to lose money. This is going to have this impact and this impact.” How do we, through a consultation process and through a community benefit agreement, which can be done that way, find a way to make that happen? That’s why I think this consultation—and the community benefit agreement can be part of what we do with infrastructure planning—is really critical.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Great; thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir, for coming before the committee this afternoon. We appreciate it.
Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next, from the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association, we have stakeholder relations manager, Mr. Patrick McManus. Welcome, sir.
Mr. Patrick McManus: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Yes, he did a great job.
Mr. McManus, you have five minutes. Enjoy.
Mr. Patrick McManus: Thank you. I’m here representing the OSWCA. Across the province we presently represent north of 750 member companies, which include contractors, manufacturers, distributors, consulting engineers, all who build, supply, service and maintain the sewer and water main construction sector in the province. I appreciate having the opportunity to speak with you here today and to lend our support to Bill 6, albeit with a recommendation for a small adjustment to language in the bill.
We support the passage of Bill 6 because it proposes to address a number of central concerns that the broader construction industry has had for a number of years, the development and maintenance of a long-term role in the infrastructure plan being one; the standardizing of criteria to prioritize infrastructure investments being another.
We’ve long been advocating for progress on these issues because there is an inherent need for greater predictability and prioritization in how the government actually invests in its infrastructure. Because government is the primary owner and/or funding partner of core infrastructure in the province—roads, bridges, sewers and water mains—developing a long-term plan for where and when these investments are going to be made will help create a much greater degree of market stability in this sector of the construction industry.
Companies operating in this sphere will be better able to plan for staffing and resource needs by identifying regions well in advance where investments are going to be made. It’s also going to help companies grow and compete for projects outside of their traditional operating areas.
Implementing a standardized set of criteria for prioritizing project investments is also of quite critical importance. It’s going to ensure that existing asset management plans at the municipal level and provincial infrastructure plans and strategies are not only going to be accounted for but also utilized. It will also ensure that investments are targeted on infrastructure needs as opposed to infrastructure wants, which will make certain that investments are being made in critical areas of importance for community development and delivering core public services.
With all the positives that we do see around the bill, we believe that there is a small amendment that needs to be made—some previous groups have noted as well—to subsection 8(2), which seeks to prescribe a quota for the number of apprentices to be hired on public projects. Although the intent of the provision is positive, the wording of the clause is problematic because it will eliminate the staffing flexibility that’s required to properly administrate a construction project in the different sectors of the industry.
We support the idea of promoting apprenticeships and expanding the pool of skilled labour through government procurement, but believe that getting into this type of specific detail in the legislation is not the appropriate place for this. We believe that it’s rather more appropriately dealt with in the regulation-making process when the significant differences that exist between the various sectors of the construction industry can actually be fleshed out.
We hold this opinion because the heavy civil construction sector for the most part operates outside of this traditional scope of trade apprenticeships, say for shop mechanics or occasionally crane operators that are required on heavy civil sites. This means that we hire full-wage employees that are slowly developed from within the company, whereas in trades operating in the formal apprenticeship process, an individual is hired and typically makes what amounts to 60% to 80% of a journeyperson’s wage, and then requires a formal process regulated by hours of experience before they can reach their full wage-earning potential. The nature of heavy civil construction doesn’t allow for this process. We typically hire individuals to work as labourers, screed men, flag persons, lock tenders—a whole host of different jobs, where no formal process is in place requiring a specified number of hours of service before a person can make a full industry wage.
Each sector of construction has vastly different training requirements, vastly different skill sets required to perform the work, and each, as a result, holds different hiring practices. These differences must be appropriately understood and accounted for in this bill and in its accompanying regulations. Applying the language as it’s presently drafted simply will not work.
To achieve the intended objectives of Bill 6, which we believe are to increase the pool of skilled labour in the province and get more young people working in construction, we firmly believe that this language must be much less rigid and move away from a quota-based approach. Allowing the promotion of apprenticeship opportunities through government procurement is important where it’s applicable, but including language to this effect in the legislation does not consider the differences that exist in the various sectors.
I’d like to conclude by saying thank you for considering my viewpoint. We very much appreciate having the opportunity to speak here today.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. McManus.
We shall start with the official opposition. Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Yes, you’re right; the Ontario General Contractors Association also brought up the issue around apprenticeship quotas. We’ve heard you on our side, but we’ve come to realize during other committee hearings that the government of the day has a bad habit of voting almost all amendments down these days.
I was wondering if you could touch specifically on the negative economic impact of having to deal with apprenticeship quotas. What would that mean to your association in numbers?
Mr. Patrick McManus: More specifically, to the members: Typically, the way a sewer and water main construction crew is made up, they work in seven-people crews. They have a foreman, three operators and three labourers. In order to insert an apprentice into that process, you would have to remove one of your full-time, full-wage employees. The way that it’s set up, an individual starts at the most basic job and, as they gain experience, they are moved through the various jobs within a crew that they’re able to do. It’s based on the merit of their work.
Hiring an apprentice in this situation would mean that you’re taking—first of all, at this point there are no apprentices for these types of jobs. But in an instance where an apprenticeship was required and an apprenticeship had to be created, it would mean taking somebody who is currently full-wage and paying them an apprenticeship wage.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you. I appreciate that.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the third party. Mr. Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: In the scenario that you just presented, there are no regulated, apprentice-able trades involved. Therefore, there are no ratios that are applicable.
Mr. Patrick McManus: Right.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Is there any instance where the ratios—as a compulsory trade—would be applicable, and what are they?
Mr. Patrick McManus: From time to time, there will be mechanics in the shops—occasionally for crane operators when they’re required. But that’s it at this point. They simply don’t exist.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: So my question is, why would the government then go through all this trouble to enact the College of Trades, to give the college the ability through regulation to manage ratios and training parameters and qualification parameters, just to subvert all of that work and legislate it through the provisions of Bill 6? Does it not sort of inoculate the rationale for the College of Trades as it is?
Mr. Patrick McManus: There is that system, that body in place that goes through the certification of trades. As it stands now, the trades, the workers in our industry, are not certified trades.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: So with the provision of the quota system, what the government is saying is that it’s good enough for us to be able to dedicate quotas but not good enough, ultimately, for the private sector when they’re not involved in public infrastructure projects.
Mr. Patrick McManus: I think it just—
Mr. Taras Natyshak: You don’t have to say it exactly—
Mr. Patrick McManus: No, I think it’s just because the hiring practices are so different in the different sectors of construction. Those differences have to be recognized. That’s why I think putting this piece in the legislation doesn’t make sense for all of the publicly owned or publicly funded infrastructure, because it doesn’t account for a lot of the companies that operate in this sphere that can’t hire apprentices because there are no apprentices for their actual work.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Gotcha. Okay, thanks.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall move to the government: Mr. Dong.
Mr. Han Dong: First of all, thank you for the presentation. I want to ask you your view on the government’s commitment for the next 10 years to invest $130 billion in infrastructure. Do you think that helps your industry?
Mr. Patrick McManus: It certainly does.
Mr. Han Dong: Okay.
Mr. Patrick McManus: It certainly does, specifically when it comes to predictability. That’s something that construction—companies that operate on public infrastructure projects have not had that in the past. Having a long-term plan, understanding where investments are going to be made over the course of 10 years, knowing that there’s going to be funding there—that is of critical importance.
Mr. Han Dong: You said “in the past.” That means that this improvement and the commitment of infrastructure investment is basically historic. It has never happened—
Mr. Patrick McManus: Typically, we operate on year-over-year budgets, or maybe three-years-in-advance budgets, but nothing of this size and scope.
Mr. Han Dong: Good. The second thing is, you mentioned the details of the apprentice provision of this bill. I just want to ask you—and you sound like you agree with the government’s intention to promote apprenticeships through publicly funded infrastructure projects. Is that right?
Mr. Patrick McManus: Where it’s applicable, I think that utilizing government procurement to promote apprenticeships is important. It’s something that, just in terms of how rigid and quota-based it is set in the act, doesn’t necessarily fit with all of the sectors in construction.
Mr. Han Dong: Because the minister numerous times in the House has mentioned that he’s quite willing to work with the opposition to do amendments. What’s your advice? How would you, in detail, think that this could be carried out?
Mr. Patrick McManus: I think that it’s something that should be dealt with more in regulation. In the regulation, there’s a greater opportunity to flesh out what the differences are between the different sectors of construction, and how the hiring practices are different and how the nature of the work is different.
I just think having it set in stone in legislation, that presumably can’t be changed, is not the appropriate place for it. I think dealing with it in regulation allows for a much more fluid environment as the nature of the work changes.
Mr. Han Dong: But you will still need a legislative framework for the regulation to happen, right? What we are debating here, or discussing here, is the legislative framework. Do you have any recommendations to amend it or to change it?
Mr. Patrick McManus: My recommendation is just that the quota-based language, specifying a particular number of apprentices, needs to be removed, and it has to be left more flexible, because on publicly funded infrastructure projects that can’t hire apprentices—how does that play out in the field, right?
Mr. Han Dong: Gotcha. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir, for coming before committee this afternoon. We appreciate it. Thanks to everyone.
Christian Labour Association of Canada
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the Christian Labour Association of Ontario. I believe we have Mr. Ian DeWaard with us, who is the regional director. Welcome, sir. You have five minutes.
Mr. Ian DeWaard: Great. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for the opportunity to speak to you. As you’ve noted, my name is Ian DeWaard, and I’m with Christian Labour Association, or CLAC.
CLAC is a labour union that was begun in 1952 and was founded on a unique values-based approach to worker advocacy and labour relations. Today, we’re one of the largest independent unions in Canada, with more than 60,000 members across the country. In Ontario, we represent approximately 7,500 construction workers who do work on major public infrastructure projects throughout the province. We’re here today to support the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, but also to request some modification.
It’s no secret that we have an infrastructure deficit in the province which is impacting our province’s prosperity. The requirement in this legislation that governments develop long-term infrastructure plans and allocate funds to properly prioritize projects is well-intentioned and important. In particular, CLAC supports the goal of using procurement policy to encourage apprenticeship registration and completion. We’ve been on record supporting this idea since the bill was first introduced. We would like to ask, however, that the mechanism to incentivize the use of apprentices be considered carefully, to ensure that it achieves the desired goal and that it does not create unintended consequences.
The approach currently taken in the legislation is to set a quota for the number of apprentices who must be engaged on a construction project. On the surface this seems to make sense, but in reality it is a very complicated notion and will not work in the construction sector. This is due to the fact that a construction work site is a very complex work environment. Those key differences, or key complexities, include the types of projects that we’re considering. The types and quantity of tradespeople used on a road, for example, will vary greatly from the number and types engaged on a hospital, to use two examples. We also need to take notice of differences in labour market availability. The differences between Sarnia to Ottawa, from Toronto to the north, can be quite distinct.
We have to take into consideration the difference between trades as to what ratios of apprentices are permissible relative to the journeypersons employed. Those ratios will be different for different components of the work and from trade to trade.
We also have to keep in mind the two different ways that apprentices are indentured to employers. Primarily in Ontario, there are two models. On the one hand, there are local apprenticeship committees, by which an apprentice is a shared resource; not indentured to one particular employer, but in fact to a pooled group of employers. On the other hand are the types of employers that engage apprentices on individual contracts of apprenticeship. Those can have a significant effect on the availability and the manner in which apprentices are engaged and taught.
In our view, because of these wide and varied types of workplace organization, there will be no way to assign a particular quota that would be meaningful or universally appropriate. To attempt to do so would likely result in a number so low that it is meaningless, so high that it will cause arbitrary and unintended consequences, or so differentiated for each type of variable that it will be impossible to administer and enforce.
In summary, a quota system would be too costly, too complex and too burdensome to administer. Instead, we would encourage the committee to look to established models that are used in other jurisdictions or are in place at Infrastructure Ontario. These established but more flexible approaches will help the government to achieve its goal of bringing more apprentices into the trades and toward improving completion rates. But, unlike a quota system, these models are able to achieve this legislation’s desired goal without creating a heavy administrative burden for government or for the sector.
As stated, CLAC fully supports using procurement policy to achieve gains for apprenticeship in Ontario. We simply ask this committee to revise the apprenticeship section of the bill, section 8, and would suggest that the amendments support the goal of driving apprenticeship outcomes in a flexible, fair and administratively simple manner.
With that, I’m happy to answer any questions. Again, thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. DeWaard.
We shall begin with the third party. Mr. Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thanks very much for your presentation. We’re hearing a reoccurring theme, of course, with the quota system as it relates to apprentices. You referenced how IO does it, and—somewhere else.
Mr. Ian DeWaard: There are other models in other jurisdictions. Manitoba is an example where they use a participatory approach worth further analysis. It requires that contractors demonstrate their support and use of apprentices historically and for the projects that they’re undertaking.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: What about Infrastructure Ontario?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: I understand Infrastructure Ontario’s requirement to be project-based. On the basis of being awarded a project, they need to work out a plan that says, “We will engage apprentices in this way.” That gives them the capacity to, first, work those details out with the list of contractors or subcontractors that will be on-site, and that could be quite a myriad, depending on the size of the project.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Ultimately, these decisions will be done by regulation anyhow, so I guess it’s a pre-emptive position that you’re taking in raising concerns about how this could play out?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: I wouldn’t presume to write the language for the bill, but I think it’s fair to say that the bill makes a clear statement about the government’s intention to incentivize the use of apprentices as it invests tax dollars. That is a positive end. The details in terms of how that works out or at what level that’s made clear, I will leave for people who are much smarter than I.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Have you ever seen this type of a quota system enacted?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: I have not, no.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Okay, great. Thanks.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the government side. Ms. McMahon.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: I guess I’m in the same place as my colleague in terms of asking you to elucidate or expand on your suggestions for encouraging apprentices to become engaged, yet at the same time disagree with your concerns about quotas and the feeling that that’s an administrative burden. Do you see no happy medium at all? Isn’t there a way for us to do this in order to encourage an apprenticeship plan for the future? We’ve heard today from a number of witnesses about the importance of encouraging our young people into the trades. My nephew is a welder, for example, so I guess I hear about this a little bit from his perspective, too. Any thoughts on that?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: Speaking from our own experience, CLAC has been very committed to creating opportunities and causing people to move into apprenticeship as a viable career. It’s a great place to work. I think it’s fantastic that the government is considering how to use tax dollars to encourage contractors and the owners of construction to pass on that responsibility, a civic responsibility. I think that the learned are passing on the skills to the learner. There are great tools available by which to do that. There are a number of levers to pull to continue in that effort.
I would urge that the quota system, as I said in my remarks, would have unintended consequences and would cause much complication as it was rolled out or administered.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. From the official opposition, Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you for being here. Have you been consulted on Bill 6? This has been on the books for some time. Has your organization been consulted by this government?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: My colleagues and I have had a number of opportunities to comment on the bill, either this one or its predecessor, 141, I believe.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay, very good. Obviously, the elephant in the room is the apprenticeship quota today. I picked up on a comment that has been shared this afternoon, that an unintended consequence may impact the labour market availability, if you will, in rural and northern Ontario and things like that. You don’t have the same pool to draw from. Marry that with the fact that this government is looking to incent more apprenticeships; is there room here for people to take advantage of and play around with that incentive and misuse that intent?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: Well, there are bad things done by bad people all of the time, I guess. I’m not sure how to respond to that.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: We live with that every day.
Mr. Ian DeWaard: Yes. This bill, it seems to me, is about causing good behaviour from the people who are going to be participating in the building of these projects or in the operation of these projects and specifically ensuring that they achieve some duty or meet some end, in terms of preparing today’s workforce for tomorrow and ensuring that we’ve got the qualified number of journeypeople we’ll need in the future.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Interesting. You identified the two areas that hit home for you in terms of your organization and what will not work, in your view, in the construction market. You specifically touched on roads versus hospitals. Do you think there’s merit in amending this bill to reconsider how infrastructure towards roads is dealt with?
Mr. Ian DeWaard: I’m only here to speak in terms of the use of apprentices. On both a road and a hospital, there will be the transfer of knowledge from a certified journeyperson to an apprentice or a learner. To incentivize that behaviour is good. I think the bill needs to be sufficiently flexible to contend with the differences between a road or a bridge and a hospital where the number, the quotient and the type of tradespeople used is going to vary greatly.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay. And as you said, you’d rather see that in regulations as opposed to—
Mr. Ian DeWaard: Again, I think it’s valuable for the bill to make that point clear that the government is going to incentivize that behaviour. How that’s achieved, I wouldn’t dare to author. If that’s simply regulation—how that gets worked out—I guess that would be fine.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay, that’s fine. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. DeWaard for coming before committee this afternoon. We appreciate it.
Ontario Nonprofit Network
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): From the Ontario Nonprofit Network, we have Ms. Cathy Taylor with us this afternoon. Welcome, and if you’d be so kind as to just introduce—
Ms. Cathy Taylor: Yes. My name is Cathy Taylor. I’m the executive director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network. This is my colleague Liz Sutherland, our policy adviser on this file.
Good afternoon. Thank you for having us on this warm, humid afternoon. I am here to speak on behalf of Bill 6 and to put our support towards the introduction of Bill 6, the jobs and prosperity act.
Our organization is the provincial network for 55,000 non-profits and charities in Ontario. They employ over one million people in Ontario, including full-time and part-time staff, and contribute $50 billion to Ontario’s economy. Our mandate is to support a strong and resilient non-profit sector in Ontario.
I’m here today to add our voice to the network of the broad coalition of organizations, many of whom you’ve heard from today, seeking to have the importance of community benefits recognized in Bill 6, the legislation that will guide Ontario’s infrastructure investments in the coming decade.
There are many compelling reasons to include community benefits in this statute. Infrastructure projects that include community benefits leverage public dollars that are already being spent to benefit Ontario communities, aligning the government’s infrastructure with other policy goals, such as job opportunities, training for diverse populations, small business, social enterprise promotion, affordable housing and healthy communities.
Specifically, community benefit agreements, or CBAs, provide a mechanism to create locally driven benefits for specific local communities. For example, they can tackle youth unemployment or shortages in the labour force in key trades via training, apprenticeships and quality job opportunities. CBAs can also strengthen social and economic development in communities by supporting social enterprise activity. The Eglinton Crosstown, which you’ve heard about today already, has a community benefit framework, and is a good example of how to help marginalized communities, including youth and newcomers, being part of an infrastructure investment.
Adding a community benefits clause to Bill 6 would serve to cement the commitment that the Ontario government has already shown to spending infrastructure dollars in a way that benefits local communities. Premier Kathleen Wynne has noted that “the community benefits process signals a new era of collaboration ... bringing the goals of government, labour, not-for-profit and business closer together.” The 2014 budget committed the Ontario government to enhancing procurement models “by ensuring that, beginning with the Eglinton Crosstown, future infrastructure projects include plans for providing opportunities for apprentices and supporting the completion of apprenticeships, with focused programs for at-risk youth, local communities and veterans.”
Last week, I was at a conference called the Precarity Penalty Symposium, on precarious work, where Premier Wynne noted that CBAs can “advance our core values.... With another decade of historical infrastructure investments ahead, we want to duplicate this model” as we work together. So including community benefits in the act would simply formalize a position that this government has already adopted in principle.
We recommend that community benefits be defined and included in the legislation as a principle and as a criterion for investment decision-making. Community benefits should be defined as tangible social and economic opportunities and outcomes for communities, especially historically disadvantaged groups, including but not limited to jobs, training and apprenticeships; procurement from local business and social enterprises; and other benefits as determined in consultation with the local community. In our written submission, we have included specific recommended wording for Bill 6 amendments.
Bill 6 also establishes principles and criteria which will require further definition in regulation. We urge the government to involve a broad range of stakeholder groups, including industry, workers, community non-profits and workforce development, in the development of these regulations. Finding meaningful and practical ways to implement this act will be critical, and the minister can benefit from the input of stakeholders and community groups who have expertise to offer in the areas ranging from job training to construction to community engagement. A hallmark of successful community benefit agreements is early and meaningful consultation, and the same applies, we believe, to the development of the regulations.
In closing, we would like to reiterate that there is a broad coalition of non-profits, funders and labour organizations seeking to have community benefits included in Bill 6. Communities across Ontario—large and small, urban and rural—would stand to benefit from the inclusion of language that would ensure that our public dollars are invested in a way that supports community needs for training, apprenticeships, vibrant social enterprise, small businesses and other community amenities.
With Bill 6, the Ontario government has a historic opportunity to significantly advance many of the policy goals it has by enshrining community benefits in legislation. We certainly urge the standing committee to support this important amendment.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate that.
We’ll start with the government side. Ms. McMahon.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Thank you so much for coming, and thank you for your work. Just prior to being elected, I ran a not-for-profit organization that I started, so I know the sector very well. I also worked at United Way. So I feel like we’re fast friends already.
Ms. Cathy Taylor: Comrades.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Yes, comrades-in-arms.
I have to confess to you that I didn’t know much about community benefits. I feel very ignorant, but I have to be honest with you: It wasn’t something that was part of my lexicon prior to this conversation, and I’m very interested in it. In terms of adding it to the legislation, can you expand a little bit more on that and if you’d like to see the language embedded within it? Is it something that’s within the legislation, for you? Is it maybe part of the regulations? How can we shape that moving forward?
Ms. Cathy Taylor: I think there are a few areas specifically in the legislation—in the preamble and in a couple of other areas—where it makes sense to include the term “community benefits” as part of the criteria that decision-making would be done by. I think the devil is always in the details of the regulation, but I think if the intent, the principle, is there in Bill 6, in the legislation itself, it would be really helpful to lay the groundwork for what will come in the regulatory discussions. There are two or three spots—and that’s in our submission—we actually propose specific wording in the amendments to Bill 6. Then that will be a message to the communities that we can then follow through and work with the infrastructure projects to ensure that the community voices are heard.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Do you know any other jurisdictions that have done this and have done it well? Is there some evidence as regards the impact that has resulted?
Ms. Cathy Taylor: Certainly, it has been tested in Toronto, through the Toronto Community Benefits Network. I think you heard from them earlier today, on the Eglinton Crosstown. There are a number of jurisdictions in the US that have done that work. There’s a researcher here actually, in Toronto, who has been compiling the best practices in that area. So there are a number of jurisdictions that have done that. I’m not familiar with other ones in Canada.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: This researcher in Toronto—is there anything published that we could share with the committee?
Ms. Cathy Taylor: We could probably get that information for you.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Perfect. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We shall move to the official opposition. Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: We very much appreciate you coming in today.
When we talk about community benefits, again, I have to come back to people’s ability to pay. There’s a lot of research on the benefits of embracing the overall community, but has there ever been a cost analysis done in terms of what community benefits will add to a total project cost?
Ms. Cathy Taylor: I think the intent is that it doesn’t actually add anything, because it’s about the process of how the infrastructure is tendered. So it doesn’t actually add to the project itself; it’s how the projects have actually been tendered. What we’re asking for is that the community benefits be part of the decision-making process, rather than a financial cost upfront.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: And you trust the government to do that? I can’t help myself, Chair. In 2009, community benefits and municipal autonomy were totally ripped away with the Green Energy Act, so I have a tough time believing this government will actually get it right this time. I had to get that off my chest.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I hope you feel better.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I live with it every day; you guys don’t. You have no idea how it’s been—
Mr. Jeff Yurek: She didn’t say you’re corrupt; that’s good.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay, I’m good. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): MPP Yurek, I’ll ask you to withdraw.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Withdraw.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. We shall move to the third party. Mr. Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much for your presentation. Can you elaborate or expand on the criteria for—
Mr. Taras Natyshak: I can’t hear myself, Chair—prioritizing foundational infrastructure projects that “provide measurable community benefits”? How do we measure them? What are we measuring them against? What do we hold ourselves to if we don’t achieve those measurable outcomes? I would expect that the community consultation process would then inform us of where we want to be. I mean, is this just a stick? Can we ultimately point back to the fact that we didn’t do this, and we didn’t achieve those measurable outcomes and try to fix it?
Ms. Cathy Taylor: It’s a good question. I think if it’s enshrined—our goal is to enshrine it in the legislation as a principle. I think, then, the details of what is a community benefit, what’s the community’s expectation and how the community is consulted become part of each project, and part of the details would be in the regulation. That decision-making would be part of each infrastructure project as it goes forward.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’ve been elected for three years—enough time to become incredibly cynical, unfortunately. I don’t think the government is going to do this. It makes too much sense to do it. I think that they will tell you that infrastructure projects inherently provide community benefit: “Look at what happens when we build new roads and bike paths”—just that evidence that we know exists. I don’t think they’re going to want to hold themselves to any targets or benchmarks for fear of actually being held to them at some point.
Ms. Cathy Taylor: Well, we’re certainly looking for that level of detail.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: I would love to see it. I would think that that would bring in the aspirational and quantitative benchmarks that we need to see.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, and thank you to the two of you for coming before committee this afternoon. We appreciate it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We have with us Springboard Services. I believe we have a Ms. Assan and a Mr. Terada with us this afternoon. Welcome. If you just want to introduce yourselves with your positions. You have five minutes. Thank you.
Mr. Randall Terada: Thank you. Members of the committee, colleagues and fellow travellers, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Randall Terada. I’m currently the program design and evaluations specialist at Springboard Services in downtown Toronto. I’m here with Mafaza Assan, the supervisor of our Employment Ontario office.
At Springboard Services, we work with youth involved in the justice system, with developmentally disabled youth and adults, and in employment services as an Employment Ontario agency. We’re speaking in full support of Bill 6 and in full support of our previous speakers, perhaps with the slight nuance that, while we work with individuals to strive to reach their full potentials, and we are members of the Toronto Community Benefits Network, I’m here to support the inclusion of three words: community benefits agreement—possibly in section 3.5 of Bill 6, Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act.
Why? There are currently 83,000 young people in the GTHA between the ages of 19 and 29 who are not employed and not in education or any type of training. That acronym is NEET. NEET youth are far, far removed from formal apprenticeship training because apprenticeships are hard; apprenticeships are hard work. Apprenticeships are also a material opportunity for this group to work in careers and occupations that pay a living wage and much more than that.
Now, for many of us in the social services, when we come across apprenticeships in our work, it’s somewhat of an abstraction. It speaks generally of economic opportunity. The language of apprenticeships in our work gets stylized into some economic equation about skills shortages, regional economic development, apprenticeship agreements and the like. But with a community benefits agreement—why that works for us is that it works at the ground level. Apprenticeships now are connected with real economic opportunity for real people and communities, and concrete materials factors, such as race, gender and class get weighed in and thrown into the mix.
The “agreement” in community benefits agreement points to the work that goes into making sure the right parties are at the table and that all of our efforts are pushing in the same direction. A community benefits agreement means the term “workforce development” moves from an abstract concept in the policy papers to the smell of rubber hitting the road.
A community benefits agreement is the foot soldier or under-labourer to the more generalized working agreements. A community benefits agreement gets people in the same room creating collaborative projects and dealing with those granularities that don’t get hashed out at the more mid-level talk about frameworks.
My fear is that if left at too generalized a level, talk about “community benefits” may get swept up into status quo procedures, and the necessary innovation around the important concrete community engagement process pieces that include supportive education and essential skills training may get overlooked and, along with that, a core group of potential apprentices.
I’d like to conclude with two additional points about community benefits agreements.
Point 1: Community benefits agreements help to underscore the importance of the specific supports required of historically marginalized and equity-seeking groups. These supports range from the development of community engagement strategies that build up the resilience of individuals to help manage the personal ambivalence and uncertainty that comes with stepping up and into a life-changing opportunity and, like any huge personal endeavour, requires a healthy amount of social capital in the form of social networks and other community supports to ensure that they navigate the journey with increasing confidence and successful outcomes. For an abundance of reasons, for historically marginalized groups, their timelines are such that they are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the race for open apprenticeship opportunities.
Point 2: Community benefits agreements highlight the need for an effective tracking system as a crucial piece of the community engagement process. This is because those individuals who wish to throw their hat in the ring and investigate the first step in the skilled trades journey need to be sufficiently supported, mentored and encouraged throughout the process. When historically marginalized and equity-seeking groups write their names on the initial community engagement attendance sheets, this should trigger a logical sequence of follow-ups and intake procedures that get them eventually to the right place, at the right time and in the right frame of mind.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. I gave you an extra 30 seconds. I’m sorry.
Mr. Natyshak, from the third party, to start.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much, Chair. Thank you very much for your presentation. Thanks for the work that you do on behalf of our communities.
This is a novel idea, but I guess it’s not that novel. We’ve seen community benefit agreements in place in other jurisdictions. We’ve seen them as stand-alone, within private contracts or even municipal contracts.
I think it’s a great idea, but I think I’ve already expressed some of my concerns: that it will ultimately allow us, as the general public, to have consultation with the government when it comes to having these difficult or important discussions—sometimes governments are averse to doing that. We’re finding that out on major, very important projects that involve the public. I’ll point to the privatization of Hydro One as one of them—very, very little consultation happening, with massive ramifications for the public.
So I don’t know. I think you’re making a wonderful case for community benefit agreements. I wonder if you share those same hesitations or concerns that I do.
Mr. Randall Terada: The landscape of employment services—and I can speak to the landscape of Employment Ontario services in the GTA. Coupled with the fact that empirically, we’re members of the Toronto Community Benefits Network, our experience with this network has been that, around the table, the size of this table, we get a number of really important actors on the scene, actors that heretofore have not been sufficiently—a lot of them, speaking of a lot in the trades, the unions—sensitized to this cohort of unemployed youth who have been structurally barred from the economy due to the nature of the knowledge economy, as such: those with perhaps less than high school, with perhaps some anxiety, with perhaps some other multiple barriers. Then we get around a table, and the key groups, spokespeople from Employment Ontario offices who have dealt with these clients—job counsellors, job developers, people from other social services—can talk and engage in a really productive conversation with other actors who are closer to apprenticeship agreements and are closer to workforce development policy analysis.
What we’ve seen is that we walk away from these tables and people are somewhat more enlightened, but also, constructively, we engage with the community. We go out in the community. There’s construction engagement in light of the Eglinton Crosstown line, so we have a concrete objective to bring to the community when we engage them and say, “Here’s a possibility of a career. Here’s a possibility that you may want to pursue. If you sign our attendance forms, then we can engage in a process with you, engage with unions, engage with skilled trades spokespeople, engage with other social services such as maybe health counselling, and engage with Employment Ontario offices.” It’s that dynamic that we think works.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. I appreciate it. We’ll move to the government side: Mr. Dong.
Mr. Han Dong: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the presentation. I want to thank you, first of all, for your support of the bill; I heard you mention that at the very beginning of your presentation. And thank you for the good work you do in your community.
I agree with you that the community should benefit from these projects, and I think that, with the government legislating a long-term infrastructure plan, it’s going to help that and it’s going to solidify the government’s commitment in building up the communities.
Could you speak to how a community can prosper or benefit from modern infrastructure? Can you think of any examples in the past that you can use to tell us how these investments would benefit the communities locally?
Mr. Randall Terada: Do you want to just say some personal examples?
Ms. Mafaza Assan: Yes. I can paint a picture as to the types of clientele that come to our door and how they could benefit from something like this. Over the past year we’ve had 462 youth under the age of 30 that came through our doors and expressed interest in apprenticeships, as well as trades. Of these youth who came through our doors, 69% of them ended up in customer service positions and sales positions, 10% ended up in foodservices and only 2% actually ended up in apprenticeships, the main reason being the demographic that they are. They are at-risk youth, youth who are in conflict with the law, youth who have special needs and mental health needs. However, they just need that extra push and assistance and opportunity to allow their demographic into something like this.
Although we have information sessions and we have professionals from the sector who come in and speak to them, immediately they’re facing multiple barriers. They come to the information session. They’re told to go online and apply for a position. When they go to apply online they’re told to go to another office to get a password to do their online application. So it’s just multiple barriers that we see them go through, and they struggle, just trying to overcome that.
We see that, from the number that walk through our door, if only 2% are actually ending up in it because of the barriers that they face, we want to help remove these barriers, and hopefully a CBA would put something in place where we’re removing barriers, allowing these youths to actually get these opportunities and see that their interests are something that can lead them to a viable option one day.
Mr. Han Dong: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate that.
Over to the official opposition: Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: My question to you is probably not so much on the CBAs, but just your thoughts—you were here this afternoon listening to the other groups talk about apprenticeships. Are you more for or against? What are your thoughts on having a quota for apprenticeship, where you have to have X number of apprenticeships on the job? Or are you more for a flexible system? I’m just asking because you seem to be—well, I can’t say if you’re impartial; I don’t know you well enough. But you’re not part of the system per se, as in the construction industry. So where do you sit with that?
Ms. Mafaza Assan: A quota would be preferable. That way, they have targets to meet from their end and needs to fill.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate the two of you coming before committee this afternoon. Have a great afternoon.
Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ Local Union 30 Women for Change
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Are the representatives from the sheet metal workers’ and roofers’ union here? Yes. Okay, good.
I’d like to welcome Ms. Dirie, the executive director for Women for Change. Is Mr. Peterson with us?
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: He couldn’t be here today, but he has a message that he sent to you, and I would like to read it to you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Thank you for joining us. The floor is yours. You have five minutes.
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: Thank you.
“The Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ Local Union 30 recognize and support our collective responsibility to include community benefits agreements into a construction project while new infrastructure and facilities serve their purposes. The true total value derived from any project should include the social aspect. Creating hope and opportunity for youth, aboriginals, new Canadians and women will improve our communities and is the right thing to do.
“It is with pleasure that we have invited Ms. Nasteeha Dirie from Women for Change to share her community perspective for us.
I have a message of my own that I would like to read to you.
My name is Nasteeha Dirie. I have been working as a community support worker for 10 years in the Mount Dennis-Weston area. I am here today to talk about the inequality and challenges faced by many of our Somali youth in accessing employment and training programs and services in Canada.
After much struggle to obtain stable employment in Ontario, many of our youth decided to shift to Alberta for better opportunities. This shift also caused a lot of roadblocks for the youth who made the migration to the west. Yes, they did manage to find employment, but it was not in permanent positions. There were layoffs, and they were away from the nest of their parents. Many of the unemployed youth opted for criminal transactions to support themselves. This, however, caused deaths, imprisonments and mourning communities.
Back in November 2014, the Toronto Community Benefits Network held community engagement meetings in the Mount Dennis-Weston area. Over a hundred young men attended and had the opportunity to meet with different unions and employment agencies. Because of the Toronto Community Benefits Network connection, now we have four young men employed with the building trade unions, doing their apprenticeships. More are in the process of getting into the trades, and we expect some of these to find work building the Eglinton Crosstown line.
One of the young men who found employment through the Toronto Community Benefits Network’s resident engagement had called me from Alberta before the meeting was held in Mount Dennis-Weston. He asked if I would be able to find him a job. I told him about Toronto Community Benefits Network’s vision and asked him to attend the meeting so he could get the chance of meeting union representatives. He was able to attend the meeting, and he was also able to find employment.
I strongly hope that the provincial government recognizes the value of community benefit agreements. They can take the lead to reduce poverty, violence and crime in our communities through the jobs pipeline they create by giving access to apprentice, pre-apprenticeship and training programs.
By including community benefit agreements in Bill 6, you will make it possible for newcomer communities to have equitable access to jobs created by the infrastructure program.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We appreciate that.
We shall start with the government. Mr. Milczyn.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Thank you very much for your presentation and your patience. I saw you were sitting there for most of the afternoon.
You made a very interesting comment about how young people, particularly in the Somali community, followed jobs to the west, but that really wasn’t sustainable, and now many of them are coming home. Could you speak to what it would mean to that community and other communities to have a long-term infrastructure plan like we have—10 years, $130 billion—and incorporate apprenticeship opportunities and community benefit agreements into that? What would that mean in the longer term?
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: In my normal job, I serve 9 to 5 in the community. One of the issues that they raise every single day is how there is no employment. Usually we serve mothers, and they complain about how their young boys or their husbands can’t find employment. In giving the opportunity, like the community benefit agreements, to families like that, you change their lives.
I have a message that I would love to say to you about one of the young men who attended the Toronto Community Benefits Network resident engagement meeting, who found employment from there. He sent me a message a few months later, saying that—I would love to read it to you, word for word, if you don’t mind.
“I wanted to update you on the union job that I got, and how I want to say thank you. I completed my training and I have been working five days. Alhamdulillah”—which is “thank God.”
“Call me when you get a chance. Thank you. May Allah bless your family”—God bless your family.
That tells you what the community benefits network did. This is the proof.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: I just wanted to comment that, hopefully, if we had a matching commitment from the federal government for this level of infrastructure spending, coupled with these kinds of initiatives—and if our friends from the third party actually supported the common-sense, reasonable things that we’ve put in our budget—then we could be creating a lot more jobs. But we should all be working together and not being partisan, I suppose.
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: Yes. I would love to see that happen.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Thank you. Support the budget.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. Your time is up.
We’ll move over to the official opposition. Ms. Thompson.
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I really appreciate you coming today and sharing your experience and your perspectives. I don’t have any questions for you right now. I just share in your hope that if this comes to fruition, especially around the community benefits, that it’s equitably considered throughout the GTHA, as well as rural and northern Ontario.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Natyshak?
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much for your presentation. Thanks for the work that you do on behalf of your community and the association. Please give our regards to Mr. Peterson as well.
The letter you wrote was very heartening. I’ve received those types of letters as well. I previously worked for the labourers’ union, LIUNA, and I ran the training centre and the pre-apprentice program as well. We made a point to prioritize those who didn’t necessarily have the immediate skill to work in construction but had a massive amount of desire. What it sounds like is that the individual you received that letter from has just an incredible amount of passion and drive to have gainful employment. I’m also encouraged to hear that it’s unionized employment, which offers a whole other layer and level of protection and job security.
Two questions: Would you put an emphasis on access to jobs that are unionized within the community benefit plan? Also, would you prioritize access for women to enter into the trades, and what is your experience with that demographic looking to enter into various aspects of the trades?
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: I would love to see women in the trades. We have three young girls who are doing pre-employment, getting training, who have the ambition to enter into the trades.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Wonderful.
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: They all have different kinds of ideas of what they want to do in the trades.
Yes, you will see women from my community who would love to join the trades but not as much as you will see the men. We have a lot of young men, especially when they went to Alberta, who experienced the concept of working in the union environment, having that benefit. They know how important it is because they weren’t working in union companies. They felt like they’d been used: give them jobs when there were lots of jobs there, and then lay them off—and then keep the ones who were in the union. They know the meaning of what it means to them to work in the union environment. That’s why, when we had the residents’ engagement meeting in Weston, over 100 young men showed up.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Wow. That’s amazing.
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: Yes.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you so much for the work that you do and continue to do.
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thanks again for coming before our committee this afternoon. We really appreciate it.
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie: Thank you.
United Way Toronto
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): From the United Way Toronto we have Pedro Barata. He’s the vice-president of communications and public affairs. Welcome, sir.
Mr. Pedro Barata: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I’m your second-last speaker, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): There is.
Mr. Pedro Barata: There’s an architect, yes.
I’ll be speaking to slides, so feel free to follow along, and I will be directing on the flips. Thanks again for this opportunity.
Slide 2 is my first slide. I’m here today on behalf of United Way Toronto to urge you to enshrine community benefits in Bill 6. Linking infrastructure projects with community benefits signals a new era of collaboration, bringing the goals of government, labour, not-for-profit and business closer together. Doing this would ensure that at the same time we build infrastructure in Ontario, we can also grow youth economic opportunities. We can build a strong workforce. We can drive poverty reduction, enable economic development and contribute to healthy communities.
Community benefits extend social and economic opportunities to disadvantaged communities through access to jobs, training and apprenticeships, procurement for local businesses and/or social enterprises, and other benefits as determined in consultation with a local community.
On slide 3: Premier Kathleen Wynne voiced the government’s support for this approach just last week, on Friday, during the launch of the precarious employment report of United Way, citing the community benefits agreement between Metrolinx and not-for-profit partners along the Eglinton Crosstown, and in the Premier’s own words—she said, “With another decade of historical infrastructure investments ahead, we want to duplicate this model as part of our work together.”
Today, I’d like to spend just a couple of minutes describing some of this work that is happening on the Eglinton Crosstown, and I would invite you to turn to slide 5, which shows that poverty in Toronto, just like in many other communities, is increasingly tied to geography, and that has led to responses from United Way and other partners, including the province of Ontario, the city of Toronto and many others to take on a place-based approach.
In the next slide you see how that has played out over the past decade in Toronto. Over the past decade, we focused investment in those neighbourhoods that needed it most. We invested in resident leadership and we’ve built new social infrastructure, including community hubs.
We’ve had great success in terms of expanding our footprint, and as we’ve gone back to speak to residents about what needs to happen next, we’ve heard, “This is great, the community gardens. We have eight new community hubs. We now have new capacity to have voice and work together, but we are looking for economic opportunities. We’re looking for good jobs for our community.”
On slide 7, a historic opportunity emerges, which is the Eglinton Crosstown. This is a major project, with many jobs being anticipated over a multi-year time frame.
In the next slide, slide 8, we see that the Eglinton Crosstown, in the top left-hand corner, happens to cut right through five priority neighbourhoods. These are neighbourhoods where at least 40% of residents live below the poverty line. If you look over to the top right-hand corner, you see unemployment rates in those very same five neighbourhoods. They’re quite a level above the provincial and city average. Below, you see the other side of this challenge, which is that this project is unfolding at the same time as demand in the skilled trades is growing.
Slide 9: In an ideal world, all of these dots would be connected. People would look for jobs, they would get those jobs, our economy would keep growing and we would build the infrastructure that we need. But as we know, a deliberate, strategic approach is required to break down barriers to opportunities for youth at risk, for internationally trained professionals and for residents with labour force challenges.
Slide 10 shows the flourishing of a cross-sectoral collaboration happening on the Eglinton Crosstown, with Metrolinx and the anticipated project company all committed to this approach, the community being quite excited about the prospects for careers, and the building trades understanding the pressure of growing demands and opening their doors to this kind of an opportunity. Government has embraced the promise both at the provincial and municipal levels, and various players are now working in new ways to achieve better results.
Slide 11 shows the work that we at United Way are doing in partnership with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Infrastructure Ontario, the Toronto Community Benefits Network and many other partners, including foundations, to make sure that young people who live in neighbourhoods like Weston-Mount Dennis can be engaged, recruited, assessed, get the right intervention and training, and end up placed and tracked six months down the road so that we know this is actually a sustainable approach. This is one of the first times where all of the key players from all of those parts of the pipeline are finally working together in common cause.
We believe that our approach is working. It’s a great proof point about the promise of this project, and it’s helping to establish conditions for a strong workforce development pipeline that can fill the need and deliver projects on time, on budget and safely. We believe that this very same approach can be expanded to other parts of Ontario, and to facilitate that, we have two recommendations that are on slide 13, and I will read them quickly into the record:
(1) “Community benefits” should be defined and included in the legislation as a principle and as a criterion for investment decision-making; and
(2) Community partners and other stakeholders should be engaged in the development of regulations under the act.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir.
We shall start with the official opposition. Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thank you for coming in today.
I’ve done a bit with the United Way in my area. It’s suffering right now. We’ve lost quite a bit of the manufacturing base. Ford and the CAW used to give almost half the money we raised in our community. Unfortunately, they shut down the factory and moved away due to the economy.
My question to you with CBAs and putting it in the legislation is, do you have facts—or a research base—that it’s actually sustainable in rural and northern Ontario? I’m hesitant. It doesn’t matter; we can amend whatever we want, and they will only amend what they want to amend. To legislate something that might not be sustainable and effective only means that we’re going to have to come back to this place and fix the legislation. So I’d like to hear more about how it has worked in rural Ontario—not just northern, but southwestern Ontario in particular.
Mr. Pedro Barata: Much of the evidence, as I’m sure you’ve heard today, has been in the urban environment, specifically with transportation builds. But we’ve also seen how in the Far North, through resource extraction, there have been some very important agreements that have been made, for example, between First Nations and other companies, to make sure that local communities can be trained and participate in some of the growing industries in the local economy.
These are all questions that I think we now have an opportunity to ask in the context of the changing economy and changing labour force, and how it is that we can look at people who in the past may have been employed in manufacturing but these days will have to look for new pathways to employment. This provides us with a venue to plan in a more integrated fashion and to do it in a way which is not just one sector thinking about what their needs might be, but instead is involved in a conversation with colleges, with the trades, with the community and with local residents, as well as local and provincial governments.
The reason why we are great champions of this approach is because it breaks down silos around planning for what economic needs are going to be in the local community, what the workforce that’s available is, and how it is that we can begin to better integrate those.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We shall move to Mr. Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Again, we’ve been hearing this reoccurring call for an enhancement on the government’s infrastructure initiatives and a tangible benefit, a quantifiable benefit through the implementation of community benefit agreements. I think it’s a wonderful idea, which is probably why the government will vote against it.
I can’t attack the concept. It’s something that makes perfect sense, something that gives us triple net benefit, something that involves our community stakeholders and things that I think the government is averse to.
But I wish you luck. I think the chorus that we’ve heard today should have at least some impact, but we’ll have to see what the government does. I appreciate your efforts.
Mr. Pedro Barata: Terrific. Thank you very much. As we say at United Way, if things are not keeping you up at night, then you’re probably not taking the risks that you need to really make things happen. This is the kind of project that’s doing that for us, but we quite believe in it.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. We shall move to the government. Ms. McMahon.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Nice to see you. United Way is in my DNA, of course. I was the vice-president in Ottawa for a number of years, worked closely with Toronto—the largest United Way in the country, I think.
Mr. Pedro Barata: In North America.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: In North America.
Your priority neighbourhoods research has been groundbreaking in terms of shaping solutions. I just want to give you a shout-out for that once again. It’s a valuable tool for government making these kinds of decisions. Perhaps it was my work at United Way that leaves me glass-half-full when it comes to our ability to work together to make a difference, and you’re demonstrating that.
I was pleased, but not surprised, to see the Premier’s comments in support of the kinds of benefits that can be achieved through CBAs. Given the work that you’ve done on Eglinton Crosstown, the work that you’re doing through the workplace development pipeline with TCU and IO, can you just give me an example of how we might leverage the Crosstown project into other areas and other projects, to your point that that would really leverage the benefits into disadvantaged populations?
Mr. Pedro Barata: I will give you one example. Marc Arsenault is here from ironworkers and has been a very close partner of ours on this project. Marc was telling me in a recent tour of the ironworkers centre that they had received a new cohort of about 20 young people, ready to become ironworkers. Marc discovered about halfway through the training that about half of them were scared of heights. You cannot be an ironworker if you’re scared of heights.
I think that this very simple example speaks to how it is that different systems are not working together. There should be a very simple diagnostic that asks you simple questions like, “How do you do when you’re on top of a building?” that prevents (1) wasting Marc’s time, (2) dashing expectations for the community, and (3) not making for the most effective pipelines to opportunity.
What we are doing with our project is actually getting all of the players who need to be part of the solution around the table and really challenging ourselves to work differently. This comes at the same time that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is looking at reforming the system of workforce development and training and really looking at how it is that we can better systematize some of these connections.
We have a great opportunity through this petri dish of the Eglinton Crosstown to actually learn big policy ideas and big policy lessons that can apply to how we develop systems that are much more effective and can actually deliver hope for people.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Fabulous. Do I have time, Chair, a quick one?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thirty seconds.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Just a quick question for you: In terms of this broader conversation in Ontario, given where the world is going and, obviously, the legislation we’re talking about today, this issue, are there other United Ways in Ontario that are working with you collaboratively? Are you sharing—we used to call it R and D: rip off and duplicate. Are you sharing that best practice amongst United Ways?
Mr. Pedro Barata: We are now all seeing that one of the great opportunities in Ontario is going to be a decade of infrastructure investments. For example in Peel, there is the promise of a new transportation line. We are working closely with United Way of Peel—and the mayor is very supportive there as well—in terms of applying this very same approach to how that line is going to be built.
This just makes sense. It’s about connecting the dots and making sure that everybody wins in the end. I think it can become a growing movement. Enshrining it in legislation will ensure that it will become part of the conversation moving forward.
Ms. Eleanor McMahon: Awesome. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you, Mr. Barata, for coming before committee this afternoon. We appreciate it.
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Next we have, from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Mr. Leslie Klein, who is the principal of Quadrangle Architects. Is that correct, sir?
Mr. Leslie Klein: That is correct, sir.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Welcome. You have five minutes, sir.
Mr. Leslie Klein: Chair and members of the committee, I am appearing before you as a national director of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. I represent the Ontario southwest region, which includes almost one third of all architects in Canada.
The RAIC is recognized nationally as the leading voice for excellence in the built environment, championing sustainable growth of our community, economy and culture, and demonstrating how smart design can enhance quality of life, while addressing important issues of society. Our mission is to promote excellence in the built environment and advocate for responsible architecture.
It is in this capacity that the RAIC, along with our colleagues from the Ontario Association of Architects, wished to appear before you to lend the RAIC’s support for Bill 6, which calls for significant government spending on infrastructure projects throughout the province. In this context, the bill contains provisions requiring the involvement of architects and designers in the design of certain infrastructure assets. Since 60% of all infrastructure projects are buildings, the RAIC believes that the requirement to involve architects and the provision that design quality should be an integral part of the evaluation process of proposals for infrastructure projects will lead to better facilities and improvements that go far beyond aesthetics.
The concept of design excellence is often understood in a very narrow sense; namely, a project’s physical appearance. But design excellence involves more than just the look of the buildings or structures. Design excellence also includes issues such as:
—the innovative use of materials and systems to enhance human activity;
—the operations, efficiency and functionality of the facilities;
—how the buildings fit into and enhance the context in which they are sited and how they add to the communities in which they are located;
—the enabling of full accessibility for all citizens; and
—sustainability, which includes reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, the wise use of resources such as water, enabling the use of public transit and improvements in indoor air quality.
Furthermore, it is the position of the RAIC that in evaluating the success of a project, it is not enough to look at the short-term capital costs to construct it, but rather at the long-term life cycle costs which will determine the ultimate value delivered to the taxpayers of Ontario. The long-term operating costs of a building far outweigh the initial costs, and architects are uniquely capable of advocating for the use of durable materials, efficient systems and low-maintenance strategies, all of which bring long-lasting value to the process of revitalizing the province’s infrastructure.
In addition, thinking about infrastructure in this holistic manner engenders economic gains in very broad ways, beyond mere bricks and mortar. For example, high-quality urban design fosters employment and economic growth, and encouraging the use of innovative materials in public projects can stimulate the innovation and global competitiveness of Ontario’s private sector firms engaged in the design and manufacture of construction materials.
This bill serves to steer the province to a positive outcome that offers the greatest benefit to Ontarians, because it ensures the creation, delivery and sustenance of built assets that are functionally suitable, economically viable, safe, healthy and inspiring.
Since you are the stewards responsible for Ontario taxpayers’ dollars, assets and resources, we urge you to support this bill and allow the skills of Ontario’s architects, working in the best interests of the public, to create visionary, functional, accessible, sustainable and valuable infrastructure facilities which will serve its citizens well and cost-effectively. This bill represents a strategic investment in a legacy the province can create to enhance the quality of life of all communities in Ontario for ourselves and for future generations.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, sir. We appreciate that.
We shall start with the government. Mr. Milczyn.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Klein. It has been a while.
Mr. Leslie Klein: It has.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: It was in a different context.
Mr. Leslie Klein: Very different.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: You spoke so eloquently that there’s really not much to add. The RAIC had a campaign going a few years ago, Architecture Matters. It wasn’t about esthetics. It wasn’t about pretty buildings. It was precisely about many of the things you spoke about: innovation in design, innovation in materials, innovation in the operation of buildings and innovation in the way buildings are designed using software now that integrates the life cycle costs and the operating costs, not just the design elements.
With all of that being brought into the mix by architects and other design professionals, does that cost more money, or does that save money?
Mr. Leslie Klein: No. I think one of the great misconceptions is that good design costs more. Good design takes time, and good design requires skills, but good design does not have to cost more, both in the short term and certainly in the long term. If we think about what we are building now as having a lifespan of 50 years, we think about it very differently than if it’s intended to last for one, two or five years.
Architects are skilled at not only managing complex processes but in thinking in that 50-year time frame, recognizing that the buildings we build today will be part of our legacy for the future.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: There has been much said about the lack of engineers in the bill as it is right now. Is there any disagreement between the architectural community and the engineering community about the role that each profession, separately and collaboratively, should play in infrastructure?
Mr. Leslie Klein: On the contrary, I think that we are very much aligned. The Building Code Act specifies very clearly the roles of architects and engineers. Architects and engineers have, in fact, always collaborated positively to the benefit of both the clients and the ultimate users of buildings and structures throughout the province.
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): We’ll move to the official opposition. Mr. Yurek.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thanks very much for coming in today. Just a question: With regard to previous infrastructure projects throughout the province of Ontario, architects have always been involved, have they not?
Mr. Leslie Klein: They have.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: So adding them into the bill to go forward, is there a fear that architects are going to be cut out of the process? What’s the—
Mr. Leslie Klein: Not so much a fear, sir, but very much a desire to emphasize their essential nature in the process. It has been viewed at various times that initial capital costs are the most important thing in terms of determining the ultimate decision-making for which project will go ahead or which proponent will be chosen.
Our purpose in appearing before you is to say that first of all, there are far more important elements that are also included in your responsibility as government to ensure that infrastructure projects are built to provide value for Ontario taxpayers, rather than merely the lowest cost. We believe that architects have played that role and will continue to play that role. We wish to emphasize not only their role but also the importance of including design excellence as part of the important evaluation criteria.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: And that won’t happen unless it’s enshrined?
Mr. Leslie Klein: Well, we believe that enshrining it in the bill ensures that the government’s intentions and the intentions of the taxpayers of Ontario are well respected.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Do you see any place on the government side, the bureaucracy side, of infrastructure projects that maybe needs to be cleaned up to possibly ensure excellence at the end of the day or cost savings? If we can make savings in other places, not necessarily—always picking the lowest cost denominator is not always the best thing, but we may not have to if the government has their act together in deciding how to tender and bid for a project.
Mr. Leslie Klein: I believe that the process of tendering, receiving tenders and evaluating tenders is an ongoing and evolving process. We believe that whatever process is ultimately selected, these larger important issues should not be lost.
Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Natyshak.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you for your presentation. I simply want to congratulate you on your efforts and those of architects in the province of Ontario to have your profession recognized and valued within the context of infrastructure planning and spending and, ultimately, launching and delivering infrastructure.
I want to know if you can give us some examples of where performance and the involvement of architects in infrastructure projects—either in the design process or the construction phase—was explicitly ignored and where, ultimately, the value of that project was diminished without using the resources that architects bring.
Mr. Leslie Klein: I can’t give you any specific examples. I can only say that, in the process of determining, some decisions are made differently than others. We would like to see a design-quality-based evaluation process be the norm and be implemented throughout the province.
Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much for being here today.
Mr. Leslie Klein: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, again, Mr. Klein, for sharing your views with us this afternoon.
To all members of the committee, I want to thank you for your work this afternoon. Thanks to all who presented.
I’d like to remind all members of the committee that the deadline for filing amendments is tomorrow, Tuesday the 26th, at noon. As well, I look forward—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): —which is tomorrow, noon, according to the order from the House. I’ll ask the Clerk to verify that, but I’m sure we’re good.
I really look forward to seeing everyone on June 1, from 2 o’clock to 6 p.m., to begin clause-by-clause consideration.
As per the order of the House, just to confirm, the deadline for filing amendments to the bill with the Clerk of the Committee shall be 12 noon on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
This meeting is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 1737.
Monday 25 May 2015
Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015, Bill 6, Mr. Duguid / Loi de 2015 sur l’infrastructure au service de l’emploi et de la prospérité, projet de loi 6, M. Duguid G-545
Toronto Community Benefits Network G-545
Mr. Steve Shallhorn
Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario G-547
Mr. Patrick Dillon
Consulting Engineers of Ontario G-549
Mr. Barry Steinberg
Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario G-552
Mr. Mark Lewis
Ontario Association of Architects G-554
Mr. Toon Dreessen
Mr. Adam Tracey
Ontario Good Roads Association G-556
Mr. Scott Butler
Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association G-559
Mr. Sharad Kerur
Ontario General Contractors Association G-560
Mr. Clive Thurston
Social Purchasing Project G-563
Mr. Jon Harstone
Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association G-565
Mr. Patrick McManus
Christian Labour Association of Canada G-568
Mr. Ian DeWaard
Ontario Nonprofit Network G-570
Ms. Cathy Taylor
Springboard Services G-572
Mr. Randall Terada
Ms. Mafaza Assan
Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ Local Union 30; Women for Change G-574
Ms. Nasteeha Dirie
United Way Toronto G-575
Mr. Pedro Barata
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada G-578
Mr. Leslie Klein
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Joe Dickson (Ajax–Pickering L)
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton–Lawrence L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Mr. Joe Dickson (Ajax–Pickering L)
Mrs. Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West / Windsor-Ouest ND)
Ms. Ann Hoggarth (Barrie L)
Ms. Sophie Kiwala (Kingston and the Islands / Kingston et les Îles L)
Ms. Eleanor McMahon (Burlington L)
Ms. Lisa M. Thompson (Huron–Bruce PC)
Mr. Jeff Yurek (Elgin–Middlesex–London PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Han Dong (Trinity–Spadina L)
Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn (Etobicoke–Lakeshore L)
Mr. Taras Natyshak (Essex ND)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr. Percy Hatfield (Windsor–Tecumseh ND)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Jerry Richmond, research officer,