Wednesday 29 May 1991
St Clair Wharton
Fran Reid Endicott
Kenneth J. Weber
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair: Runciman, Robert W. (Leeds-Grenville PC)
Vice-Chair: McLean, Allan K. (Simcoe East PC)
Acting Chair: Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)
Bradley, James J. (St. Catharines L)
Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East NDP)
Grandmaître, Bernard (Ottawa East L)
Haslam, Karen (Perth NDP)
Hayes, Pat (Essex-Kent NDP)
McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South L)
Stockwell, Chris (Etobicoke West PC)
Waters, Daniel (Muskoka-Georgian Bay NDP)
Wiseman, Jim (Durham West NDP)
Curling, Alvin (Scarborough North L) for Mr Grandmaître
Jordan, Leo (Lanark-Renfrew PC) for Mr McLean
Also taking part:
Huget, Bob (Sarnia NDP)
Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)
Clerk: Arnott, Douglas
Staff: Pond, David, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 0910 in room 151.
Resuming consideration of intended appointments.
The Chair: I call the meeting to order. The first item of business on our agenda this morning is the one-hour review of Marc Eliesen who is the intended appointee as the chair of the Ontario Hydro board of directors. Mr Eliesen, would you like to come forward and take a seat at the witness table, please. Anywhere there is fine.
Mr Bradley: Are there three Conservatives coming too?
The Chair: I hope so.
I want to welcome you to the committee, Mr Eliesen. Your selection in respect of you being before the committee today was a decision of the official opposition. I like to offer witnesses an opportunity for a few brief comments if they wish. Would you like to do that before we get into questioning?
Mr Eliesen: Yes, Mr Chairman. In fact, I have copies to be circulated to members of a brief, three- to four-minute opening statement.
The Chair: Fine.
Mr Eliesen: I feel privileged and honoured to be the Premier's nominee for the chair of Ontario Hydro. If the committee approves the recommendation, I would welcome the challenge and opportunity associated with the job.
You will have received a brief background on my professional work experience. As you can see, while I have worked in the private sector, I have had a 25-year career in public service in senior executive positions for the government of Canada and for the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.
For the last 10 years, I have been extensively involved in the energy and utility sector.
From 1982 to 1984, I held the position of Manitoba Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines.
From 1982 to 1988, I was the chair and chief executive officer of the Manitoba Energy Authority. This crown firm has legislative responsibility for energy allocation, electrical energy marketing, managing and co-ordinating the employment and industrial activities of hydraulic generation projects and promoting the development of energy-intensive industries in Manitoba.
From 1984 to 1988, I was the chair of the board of directors of Manitoba Hydro. During that period, the utility operated profitably, increased its financial reserves for three consecutive years and maintained its position as the lowest-cost electrical service in Canada.
Also during that period, the 1,200-megawatt Limestone generating station was developed in an environmentally responsible manner sensitive to the needs of aboriginal people and northern Manitobans.
This clean renewable energy project resulted in no major flooding of the landscape and minimal environmental impact. It was built for less than $1.5 billion, more than $1 billion under the original cost estimate of $2.52 billion, and had aboriginal people representing 25% to 40% of total employment, the largest aboriginal workforce of any major construction project in North America. Further, about 3,000 northerners, mainly of aboriginal ancestry, were provided with specialized and technical training in carpentry, heavy transportation, machinery and cement work, skills which remain to be utilized in aboriginal communities today.
In 1989 I joined the management consulting firm of Stevenson Kellogg Ernst and Whinney, later Peat Marwick Stevenson and Kellogg, as partner and national director of government services. Based in Ottawa, I was responsible for organizing and co-ordinating the company's resources and expertise in providing strategic public policy to senior management in government and the private sector on a wide variety of issues with emphasis on energy.
Then in April 1990, I was appointed Deputy Minister of Energy in the government of Ontario by the then Premier of Ontario, the Honourable David Peterson. Subsequently, I have also assumed the position of president of the Ontario Energy Corp and a director of the Suncor corporation.
Before responding to your questions, I would like to make some brief observations on Ontario Hydro.
Under the Power Corporation Act, it is Hydro's responsibility to generate supply and deliver reasonably priced and reliable electricity throughout Ontario. As a public corporation established to meet the needs and expectations of the people of Ontario, the utility has to vigorously respond to changing social, economic and government priorities to ensure that those needs and expectations are met.
The government's policy directions for Ontario Hydro are set out in the new energy directions, announced in the speech from the throne in November 1990. These directions established a very challenging role for Ontario Hydro, setting energy efficiency as the first priority in meeting Ontario's electricity needs. The government is also expecting an aggressive role for Ontario Hydro in supporting the development of parallel generation in the province, particularly cogeneration and renewables.
Other elements of new energy directions include ensuring that northern and native communities benefit from Ontario Hydro's proposed and ongoing activities.
There are also some major operational issues that must be addressed at Hydro as well. These include raising the operating capability and reliability of the existing nuclear system back to levels closer to planning targets while assuring the highest possible levels of public safety, and containing cost pressures now resulting in much higher electricity prices.
These are issues which I know are already a major part of the agenda being followed by the senior executive at Hydro. If confirmed by this committee, I would look forward to being part of the team at Ontario Hydro charged with these responsibilities.
Thank you very much for your attention.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Eliesen. We will begin the questioning with Mr McGuinty.
Mr McGuinty: As you know, the Power Corporation Act provides that the board of directors of Hydro is to appoint the president and also provides that the president is the chief executive officer of the corporation. That second reference about the president being the CEO came about as a result of an amendment introduced in 1989 pursuant to a recommendation contained in a report prepared by a Mr MacIntosh. You are probably familiar with that report.
In any event, Mr MacIntosh made compelling arguments to the effect that it was crucial to have a chairman and a CEO as two different persons. He argued that the chief executive officer of a corporation with $39 billion in assets, $6 billion in revenues and some 27,000 employees should be involved in the day-to-day management of the company. On the other hand, he argued that the chairman had a responsibility to provide sober second thought to the board and also to act as a conduit from the government to allow the government to inject policy and to review policy.
Other significant amendments to the Power Corporation Act provided that Hydro was to respect policy statements made by the government and also was to enter into memorandums of understanding on a fairly regular basis that again would compel Hydro to again follow government policy.
Do you believe, Mr Eliesen, that the existing legislation ought to be changed, and if so, why?
Mr Eliesen: First of all, I should say I am not aware of the MacIntosh report. I assume you are referring to Alex MacIntosh, who is one of the current directors of the board of Ontario Hydro.
Mr McGuinty: Yes.
Mr Eliesen: I have not seen the report, so I am not aware of the report.
I would answer your question in the following manner, that up until 1989, or I guess for the 83 years or the 85 years that Ontario Hydro has been in existence in various forms, the chair has been as well the chief executive officer. When you look around the country, this is the same practice in other major utilities, whether in British Columbia or Alberta or Saskatchewan or Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. So I just note for information that this has been a practice for utilities across Canada and still exists in most of the other utilities.
I think personally that this is a matter of government policy, and if the government of the day decides to reverse what took place in 1989, then I am prepared to assume that particular role. I certainly believe I have the expertise and the background to do so, but it is my understanding I am here before you simply as the nominee for the chair of Ontario Hydro and not the chair and CEO of the utility.
Mr McGuinty: Do you feel that a change in the law that would provide that the chief executive officer would be the chairman would enable government to have better control over Ontario Hydro?
Mr Eliesen: Clearly it is not a matter of control over Ontario Hydro. The control elements should be clearly spelled out in the Power Corporation Act, and if the government of the day believes that there are inadequate provisions in the act, then it is incumbent upon it to introduce them.
The position of chair and chief executive officer clearly, as it has been practised for many years here in Ontario and is still existent in other corporations, really reflects the fact that it does provide the chair the opportunity to be the chief executive officer of the corporation and to provide the overall direction, rather than simply being head of a board of directors and chairing that board of directors.
Mr McGuinty: So are you saying then that making the chair the CEO would not give the government better control?
Mr Eliesen: It can work both ways. The control element, in my judgement, has to be clearly spelled out in other provisions of the Power Corporation Act. Personally, I have never regarded the CEO attachment to the chair as one method of giving government, so to speak, control. The control elements should be reflected in provisions in the act itself.
Mr McGuinty: The board, as I am sure you are aware, has now appointed as president and chief executive officer Alan Holt. The minister has said, "Mr Holt is an able and competent person." The eight directors presently sitting on the board have said, "Mr Holt is eminently qualified to serve as president of Ontario Hydro." Do you agree that Mr Holt is fully qualified to serve in that capacity?
Mr Eliesen: Let me make two observations, Mr McGuinty. First of all, I believe it was not prudent for the existing board of directors to make an appointment, given the fact that five new members were about to join the board of Ontario Hydro. I believe that the current president and chief executive officer, Robert Franklin, had a contract to stay on until 1 September. I have not spoken to any of the existing board of directors and I am not aware of any reasons of urgency which necessitated such an appointment to be made in such a short period of time.
Having said that, I have worked with Mr Holt in the past in my capacity currently as Deputy Minister of Energy. I believe Mr Holt is a qualified individual, and it is my intention that, if confirmed in this position as chair of Ontario Hydro, I would work with Mr Holt and with the existing as well as new members of the board of Ontario Hydro to provide effective management.
Mr McGuinty: Have you had discussions with the Premier or the minister or anyone from the Premier's office regarding your candidacy for this position?
Mr Eliesen: I became aware of the fact that it was the government's intention, as the legislation establishes, that separate individuals hold the position of the chair and the president's position, and I made it known to my minister and then to the Premier that I was interested if the position became available.
Mr McGuinty: Have you had similar kinds of discussions regarding your candidacy for chief executive officer of Hydro?
Mr Eliesen: I have been made aware of government's intentions with regard to the future, but I believe it is not incumbent upon me. I still hold the title of a professional public servant and I am still deputy minister. I think it would not be prudent for me to announce any government policy. I think the responsible minister, obviously, if there are any changes, will have to make the announcements on those changes in the future.
Mr McGuinty: Okay. Leaving aside government policy, are you interested in the job, chief executive officer of Ontario Hydro?
Mr Eliesen: If you are asking me if, hypothetically, legislation is introduced to reverse what took place in 1989, yes, I certainly would.
Mr McGuinty: Are you aware of how the board feels about your being made chief executive officer?
Mr Eliesen: I indicated earlier, Mr McGuinty, that I have had no discussions at all with the board in general other than an informal discussion of a couple of hours with Gordon Bell, who is the vice-chair of Ontario Hydro.
Mr McGuinty: It is my understanding that the board has indicated that you "do not have the experience and proven managerial record" -- and I am quoting -- "to qualify as the chief executive officer." How would you respond to that?
Mr Eliesen: I am afraid I cannot respond at all. I am not aware of the observation or the judgement being exercised. I believe my background, which I briefly summarized, would provide sufficient information to reflect the fact that I have had major responsibilities and I have carried them out quite successfully. I am very proud of the efforts I have undertaken in the past in the energy and utility sector and I will let the record speak for itself.
Mr McGuinty: I understand that you have asked the board, pending any change in legislation, to appoint you as president and chief executive officer. Is that correct?
Mr Eliesen: No, sir.
Mr McGuinty: I have a copy of a letter here dated 14 May signed by eight directors of Ontario Hydro. I am quoting from page 6, "Mr Eliesen has also requested that the board, pending any change in the legislation, appoint him as president and chief executive officer." How do you respond to that, Mr Eliesen?
Mr Eliesen: That statement is false, sir.
Mr McGuinty: So the eight people who have signed are telling an untruth.
Mr Eliesen: Sir, I have no basis upon which they make that statement other than that I have exercised my role as Deputy Minister of Energy of communicating to the vice-chair of Ontario Hydro and to the chairman at that time -- he still is the chairman, in fact -- certain intentions of what the government intended to do in the future, and that was communicated further in written form by the responsible minister. I am afraid that is all I can say on that issue.
Mr McGuinty: How would you describe the relations at this time between this government and Ontario Hydro?
Mr Eliesen: Well, I think the relationships are quite good. I have not noticed, in my capacity as Deputy Minister of Energy, from the previous government and the current government any significant changes in terms of working relationships. I think the board and management are responding to the long-term policy goals of the government, and certainly I have no qualms in my existing capacity as Deputy Minister of Energy that there is a lack of response in this area.
Mr McGuinty: How can you say that and at the same time we have Bob Franklin resigning as president and chair? We have this apparent insurrection of the board proceeding to appoint a president without consulting the government.
Mr Eliesen: Mr McGuinty, all I can refer to is the public record. Bob Franklin indicated that he wanted to seek other paths, and particularly in the private sector. Certainly my understanding is that is what he informed the Premier. It is my understanding he was asked to stay on for another period of time. He had stayed there for five years, but both public and private comments he has made certainly indicated the reasons why he has decided this time to leave Ontario Hydro.
With regard to the word you used, "insurrection," I would not be so pejoratively strong in that kind of language. I indicated earlier I thought it was imprudent and I am not aware of the reasons for the kind of haste the board made in appointing the new president. However, having said that, Mr Holt is a competent and able individual and it would be my intention, if confirmed in the position, to work very closely with him.
Mr McGuinty: You must be aware that the coalition of environmental groups made up of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Nuclear Awareness Project are strongly opposing your appointment as chairman. I have a letter here dated 2 April 1991 to the Premier and they say, second paragraph, "Mr Eliesen has publicly taken a fundamentally pro-nuclear, anti-conservation position, and has been notably inactive in pursuing the government's proconservation and nuclear moratorium policies." They go on to say, "He has spurned meaningful public consultation." They also say, "It would appear that Mr Eliesen has not been able to let go of the supply-side (environment be damned) focus he gained as chairman of Manitoba Hydro." How do you respond to that, and how do you intend to work with these groups?
Mr Eliesen: Mr McGuinty, if what they allege is true, I too would be against my candidacy for the chair of Ontario Hydro. I have never taken a pro-nuclear, anti-conservation position. I have not been notably inactive in pursuing the government's pro-conservation and nuclear moratorium policies. I cannot answer the allegations that are being made. I believe the question should be addressed to those individuals.
I am a professional public servant. I have been actively carrying out the policies of the current provincial government, and these have included the implementation of the policy of the nuclear moratorium on new nuclear generating stations. I think the results, in terms of significant increases in Ontario Hydro's demand management, which is going from 100 million in 1990 to 330 million in 1992, are also reflective of that.
There have been major changes in energy conservation in other ministries, such as Housing and Government Services and Transportation, and furthermore, there have been substantial increases in the ministries' allocation for expenditures on energy efficiency programs, over about 150%. I think the facts speak for themselves in the whole context of energy conservation.
Mr McGuinty: You have advocated, or felt -- maybe that word is better -- there was great promise in developing the Moose River drainage region. It has the potential, as I understand it, for 14 hydraulic sites to be built over 30 years. The Moose River-James Bay Coalition, you are probably aware, has intervened in the demand-supply hearings, since it opposes developments in the Moose River basin. This coalition, which consists of seven first nations and organizations, is also very concerned about your appointment and has raised matters which I would like to put to you here.
The first question would be, if appointed, would you support a moratorium on hydraulic sites in the Moose River basin, pending the outcome of a comprehensive, cumulative impact assessment which examines the impacts of existing and proposed hydraulic and other developments of the Moose River basin, James Bay and Hudson Bay?
Mr Eliesen: Let me answer your question in the following way. First of all, I am one member of the board, if appointed to the position. I am just one member of many other members of the board of Ontario Hydro. I think that should be taken into account.
Having said that, I think my way of dealing with aboriginal groups and their real concerns are reflected in the letter which you have received from Elijah Harper. Elijah Harper has written to the committee, and I am very thankful for his comments and his efforts, because he notes the manner and method by which aboriginal concerns were dealt with, and dealt with quite effectively, in the province of Manitoba. It would be my intention to recommend to the board of Ontario Hydro a different manner and a different approach of dealing with aboriginal matters in hydraulic development.
To answer your specific question, with regard to specific new hydro development -- and we are not talking about rebuilds or extensions, that is, Mattagami rebuilds -- yes, I would support and I would encourage members of the board to support a cumulative assessment for the Moose River basin.
I cannot comment on James Bay in general. I would have to look at that area, but certainly for any activities that are proposed by Ontario Hydro, there should be, together with the active participation and involvement of aboriginal groups themselves, planning studies for such a cumulative assessment project.
Mr McGuinty: This coalition is also concerned about possible fast-tracking of the environmental assessments for the Hydro projects at Moose River and at Little Jackfish, and for the purchase of power from Manitoba. Do you support fast-tracking in those instances?
Mr Eliesen: I am not aware of any fast-tracking procedures currently under way. There is, under the Environmental Assessment Board, a review of Ontario Hydro's demand-supply plan for the next 25 years, which includes some of the projects you have referred to, and those deal with the question of need. There is also caused to be undertaken, in a simultaneous way, site-specific environmental assessment of the Beck station in Niagara Falls, the Manitoba transmission line and Little Jackfish and the Mattagami rebuilds. There is no specific fast-tracking, in the way that I understand it, taking place.
Having said that, I believe those northern energy projects cannot and will not take place until there is the active involvement, participation and joint decision-making by the aboriginal groups who are affected in the areas where those developments are to take place. I think this is the kind of approach I recommended to my colleagues in Manitoba, which was adopted, and which, again, if appointed in the position, I would recommend here in Ontario.
Mr McGuinty: In Ontario at present, there are, as I understand it, three --
Mr Silipo: Is this the last question?
The Chair: This is your last question. I have about a minute.
Mr Bradley: Are we cutting the opposition off?
Mr Silipo: No.
Mr Bradley: We must be getting too close to the truth. That is the trouble with this committee, of course; we are so limited in the time.
The Chair: You are going to lose that last question if we do not speed it up here.
Mr Silipo: It should be noted that the time was decided by the opposition.
Mr McGuinty: There are three basic ways to generate electricity in this province: through fossil fuel, nuclear and hydraulic. What do you feel about the nuclear option? Does it have a place in Ontario's future?
Mr Eliesen: Let me answer your question in the following way. I would not personally describe myself as either pro- or anti-nuclear. As a form of technology in the generation of electricity, nuclear has some pluses, but unfortunately it has problems which cause great concern.
As an active participant in the development and implementation of the government's moratorium on new nuclear generation development, which I support, I would make the following observations. With Darlington coming on stream, approximately 60% of the generating capacity for electricity in the province will be nuclear. This is the second-highest level after France. While nuclear plants have operated in this province with a high level of safety, further expansion and higher dependency rates should be carefully reviewed.
The second point I would make is that I am concerned that over the last number of years there has been a significant deterioration in the operational performance of the nuclear plants here in Ontario. Ontario Hydro has planned nuclear plants operating at an 80%-plus capacity factor. This has deteriorated significantly, down to 62% at present. I think this has called into question the long-term economics of nuclear plants.
With these two observations, I believe the review currently under way by the Environmental Assessment Board, which will review the nuclear option, provides a breathing period to look at the economics seriously and to see what is the best form for any additional supply options if they are required in the future.
Mr Jordan: First, Mr Eliesen, I would like to congratulate you on being chosen as the government's choice for chairman of Ontario Hydro.
Mr Eliesen: Thank you, Mr Jordan.
Mr Jordan: I thank you for your participation in the estimates committee last fall and the information that you were able to bring forth to the committee at that time.
Following my colleague's line of questioning and concerns, you indicated that just being chairman of Ontario Hydro does not put you in a position to carry out government policy per se, that you would see being chairman and chief executive officer the real position you would require to carry out your duties. Is that a correct interpretation of the questioning to date?
Mr Eliesen: No. I have indicated that I am here before the committee as the nominee for the chair of Ontario Hydro. I was asked in a hypothetical way whether I would be interested in being the chief executive officer and I replied in the affirmative. I am prepared to carry out either role, whatever is offered to me and confirmed.
Mr Jordan: Do you see a problem in, as chairman, attempting to carry out government policy with a president who has come up through the ranks of Ontario Hydro and who knows the operation of one of the largest utilities in North America and perhaps in the world? Are you going to see a problem there in a conflict of ideas for future planning and so on to try and implement government policy in conjunction with how the new president and chief executive officer might see the operation of Ontario Hydro at present?
Mr Eliesen: No, I do not anticipate any problems, as I indicated in response to the earlier question posed in this area. I think it is incumbent upon government to clearly articulate to Ontario Hydro what the long-term policy is, and if the current Power Corporation Act is inadequate for that purpose then there should be amendments applied to the bill to clearly reflect that.
Mr Jordan: So if there were to be changes, that the government could not accept the present appointment of the board as the chief executive officer, would you be in favour of someone else in that position? I guess I am asking if you would like to see that position maintained.
Mr Eliesen: Again, I am reviewing what I indicated earlier. I made reference to the fact that here in Ontario, for 83 out of 85 years, the chair has been the chief executive officer. Obviously, there are additional benefits in being the chief executive officer with the chair. However, I am prepared to do either. If it is the government's intention to bring back what had existed before, then I am prepared to undertake that particular responsibility. I can work under either model.
Mr Jordan: It would appear to me that a utility of that size, taking into consideration that Mr Franklin himself, in leaving, assessed it as being quite a heavy load to attempt to carry the two positions, and that with the 25-year demand-supply plan in place and looking to the future -- I cannot say that he recommended two separate positions, but do you have any view on that, looking at the size of the utility and the internal operations of it, to have someone as chief executive officer at your right hand to keep you informed and you keep him informed as to government policy and what direction the government would be wanting you to go?
Mr Eliesen: The practice here in Ontario for most of its existence, as well as in other utilities today, is that the chair has been the chief executive officer. At the same time, there has been a president and chief operating officer. I think both those individuals are required in any utility, particularly a utility the size of Ontario Hydro. There are different arguments either way. There has been reference to a report by Alex MacIntosh in this area, which I have not seen, which presumably was responsible for the changes being made in 1989. Other utilities have operated differently.
Mr Jordan: On the conservation of energy, do you see Ontario Hydro as an electrical industry in Ontario or do you see it as a utility meeting the minimum requirements of society in Ontario?
Mr Eliesen: I do not regard Ontario Hydro or any other public utility here in Canada as a method of promoting the service it provides. I do not see Ontario Hydro going out as it did in the past, as most other utilities did in the past, telling people to use electricity. I think there is a valid concern on the production and generation of energy and its impact on the environment, that the ways of the past cannot continue in the future. In terms of my own priorities, I believe energy conservation should be the number one priority.
Whether that is adequate to meet the needs of the future will remain to be seen. Ironically, we are in a position today where, because of the recession, the kind of expectation for electricity demand has not materialized. We are now at the level of demand that existed here in Ontario two and a half years ago. The recession, in my judgement, has had a structural impact as opposed to a cyclical impact. A lot of existing capacity, I believe, will not come back.
So there is a breathing period and a useful period for Ontario Hydro to have the most aggressive and the most expansionist kind of energy demand and energy efficiency program in the province. We have the comfort level that we are not going to run out of electricity -- the reliability of the system will be intact -- because of what is taking place in the economy. I believe those should be the priorities of Ontario Hydro and what I would recommend to the board of directors.
Mr Jordan: There is no question that the recession is having a deeper effect on the demand for energy than any conservation program, but we cannot live in Ontario basing our future on a recession. We have to have a plan for the future. My concern is that we sit back and think this is the lowest demand for energy on an ongoing basis we have experienced in the history of Ontario Hydro, really.
Leaving the recession aside, would you see Ontario Hydro as an electrical industry developing resources to the extent that we can export and make it a real viable industry in the province, taken that we have the expertise and we have the raw materials and everything to go with it, that we could be a real dynamic part of the life of this province; or we could turn into a prune, if you will, by withdrawing from everything and just providing essential services? This is the question I see before the people of Ontario. Which direction are we prepared to go?
Mr Eliesen: I believe there is an opportunity here for Ontario Hydro, in association with the government of Ontario, to seek those opportunities and those new technologies, particularly in the energy conservation area, just as in the past. There has been specialized work done on nuclear or Candu-related technology. I think in this day and age there are evolving new technologies related to electricity which should be explored, and Ontario Hydro does have one of the largest research and development laboratories in the country.
I think the energy conservation area provides an opportunity for Ontario to be a world leader in evolving technologies. This is one area where certainly it would be my intention, if confirmed in the position, to sit down with my fellow board of directors to consider ways and means in which Ontario Hydro can actively, in association with government, progress in this area.
Mr Jordan: How do you see the present operation of Ontario Hydro? Your minister, for instance, has indicated that the ministry would be worried if someone were appointed either as chairman or chief executive officer who would not respect or have interest in the theory that a kilowatt saved is as good as a kilowatt made. Does that give you any problem in assuming your role?
Mr Eliesen: None whatsoever. In fact, it is what I would advocate. If you can impact human behaviour with regard to the consumption of electricity and not significantly impact the environment through the supply option, then clearly it is the preferable way to go. The question in a lot of people's minds is, how much energy efficiency is there? Well, it would be my recommendation to see how much we can do here in Ontario. That would be my approach.
Mr Jordan: What is there, then, about the generation or making of the product of electricity that you find so offensive to the environment? Taking all other industries into consideration -- steel, mining -- taking them all into consideration, why are you zeroing in on Ontario Hydro as being so offensive to the environment when the net product is one of the cleanest energies we have on the market?
Mr Eliesen: Mr Jordan, it is not only Ontario Hydro but all other industrial methods or developing methods that have had and continue to have an impact on the environment. I believe the ways of the past should not continue in the future. No technology has a total benign effect on the environment, and there are pluses and minuses with each form of technology. I think people should recognize that and try to seek the areas that have minimal impact on the environment, on the costs of the environment, and at the same time provide the needed goods and services for the people.
So if you can impact through energy conservation and lessen, let us say, the demand by 4,000 or 5,000 or 6,000 or 8,000 or 10,000 megawatts, then why flood large amounts of land through hydraulic development or why cause global warming through fossil fuel generation or why cause concern with nuclear waste and safety factors associated with nuclear if you do not have to do it? I think it is the preferable way to go as much as possible, to see what you can do by impacting society's demand for electricity.
Mr Jordan: I agree with you that the environment should be taken into consideration in any of these decisions, but in all other industries along with the electrical industry, the question still in my mind is whether we want to develop Ontario Hydro into the strong electrical industry that it is capable of being developed into or whether we want it to be just a minimum service to the people to the extent that you also want the people to change their living habits. This room, for instance, today -- it is not necessary that it be air-conditioned, but it is and it provides a comfort.
So the point is, to what extent do you want to change the living habits of the people of Ontario? Like the flooding of land: if we had taken that approach 50 years ago in the electrical industry, that we just must not flood any land, that we must not have any global warming or we must not use fossil fuels, we would not have the province of Ontario as it is today. So what I am saying is, would you be in favour of developing the electrical industry, provided all the necessary environmental studies were done in a proper way, and then after they were done, would you be willing to carry the ball and move forward with that?
Mr Eliesen: Well, I believe the Power Corporation Act sets out the mandate of Ontario Hydro. Ontario Hydro does not have the mandate to develop the kind of industries that you refer to. It does have an opportunity to play in a partnership role with government in certain select areas. With regard to other industries, I believe all industries including Ontario Hydro are changing their ways and means of production in respect to the environment.
Mr Jordan: Mr Eliesen, what is the problem you have with the storage of waste as it has been presently designed? Do you have a problem with the storage lab that we have in place?
Mr Eliesen: I think it is generally felt that we have a temporary and safe method of storing nuclear waste under the results from our current plants. There is concern with regard to the future long-term storing of nuclear waste and I am aware of the fact that significant expenditures have been made by the federal and provincial governments and utilities to seek long-term methods of storing nuclear wastes. The verdict is still out and there will be quite an extensive environmental assessment process as to what is the safest method of storing that waste over the long term. So it is not as if I have problems right now. I think it is a concern that society in general quite rightly has pointed to. I believe the proper kind of investigation still has to take place with regard to the long-term storing of nuclear waste.
Mr Jordan: You have visited the long-term storage site, have you not?
Mr Eliesen: I did. I was out in Manitoba and I have seen the experiments that are under way there.
Mr Jordan: Do you have a degree of satisfaction with that?
Mr Eliesen: I am interested in acquiring more information. There is a review about to be initiated by the federal government in this particular area and I certainly will be interested in following the results of that particular investigation.
Mr Jordan: I am sure that investigation will be positive. To the point that you were able to accept it, then, that would end any problem you would have with using nuclear as a method of making steam to run the generator?
Mr Eliesen: No, it is not a problem I have, as I mentioned earlier, with regard to nuclear being used as a method of generation. As I mentioned, all technologies have pluses and minuses and whether people like it or not, it is a fact of life here in Ontario that 60% of our electricity is generated through nuclear.
I pointed out earlier that initially I was more interested in the economics of generating electricity through nuclear. I pointed out some of the current operational problems which have limited the operational performance of the current system, plus the heavy dependence of nuclear, both of which would cause anyone concern with regard to the long term. I think all of these require a particular judgement as you proceed into the future. That is why to me, energy conservation should be the highest priority, to the degree that if you do not need an additional supply coming from any other source, then clearly it is the preferable route to go.
Mr Jordan: I do not think that any of the political parties have an argument regarding conservation as being a good method or a good tool of management. Regardless of what industry you are in, you should not just be making the product to throw it on the street. It is being made for a use.
The conservation that Ontario Hydro has been in since 1967 is more than a conservation of the product; it is a conservation to the extent that it is more or less changing the way of life of the people. We are becoming accustomed to controlled environments. You go into many large homes today and they are not opening windows to cool or to have a breeze. It is a completely controlled environment. The house is insulated to the extent that you have to bring in fresh air to maintain the oxygen level in that home. This is a type of living that the people of Canada, Canadians in Ontario especially, are accustomed to and look to. I think we have a responsibility to continue that style or level of living and to do that we have to come up with the product to supply.
You mentioned economics. What is the cost per kilowatt-hour today to generate by nuclear? Could you tell us that?
Mr Eliesen: I am afraid I do not have the figures in front of me. Roughly 4.1 cents is the 1990 average, I believe, for the nuclear plants of Ontario Hydro compared to about 4.7 for fossil and roughly around 1.0 or 0.9 for hydraulic, or something like that.
Mr Jordan: Is natural gas not up near 10 cents?
Mr Eliesen: I am afraid I do not have the figures. It all depends on how natural gas is used; whether it is base load or whether it is peaking, etc.
The Chair: This is your last question, Mr Jordan.
Mr Jordan: Yes. In that I am thinking primarily of the future demand, if I believe in Ontario at all I cannot concentrate on a recession. I am looking to the recovery, and I am looking to a strong recovery. In that light, given that the storage facilities as set out in the lab you visited were acceptable to you, and the hearings that followed, would you be prepared then to move forward with nuclear energy in the province of Ontario so that industry could plan ahead 10 years, 15 years, or whatever is the requirement, in order to be able to have a strong policy at its board meetings instead of an unbalance, which it has today?
Mr Eliesen: Let me tell you very emphatically that coming with a utility background I believe in the integrity and reliability of an electrical system which is a necessary and sufficient condition for residential and industrial living, wherever you live. I believe the integrity of the electricity system should not be compromised.
Having said that, I believe we are in a current period, a breathing period so to speak, where we should do everything possible in energy conservation, in non-utility generation, and in improving the operational performance of the existing system. If I were forced to recommend a decision to government, I would not recommend the nuclear option because of concern with the economics, unrelated to the other factors that have been mentioned.
Mr Jordan: Excuse me, but you just mentioned it was the cheaper per kilowatt-hour.
Mr Eliesen: I am suggesting to you that with an operational performance of 62% --
Mr Jordan: Excuse me, but you just mentioned it was cheaper per kilowatt-hour to generate by nuclear.
Mr Eliesen: The figures I gave you were averages. We are not talking about marginal price costing. The new stations and the problems we are having will be reflected in the books of Ontario Hydro. That is why Ontario Hydro is forecasting almost double-digit increases in electricity prices for the next few years, because the nuclear system is not performing as it should. That is why last year --
Mr Jordan: Could I interject there. The problems are in tubing and things related to steam. There is nothing wrong with the nuclear fraction of it. You can have that using any fuel.
The Chair: Let Mr Eliesen finish his answer. We cannot have a debate. We just do not have the time.
Mr Eliesen: The tubing is one aspect. There are other problems as well, as we are seeing with the Darlington station that was supposed to come into operation two years ago, and it is still not there. It is my hope and expectation that Ontario Hydro will be able to bring that on as quickly as possible. I think the operational problems of the nuclear system right now will involve -- it has received the approval of the existing government and Ontario Hydro's board of directors -- hundreds of millions of dollars. I think we will have to reflect on that and compare the economics at the end of the day.
Mr Wiseman: I would like to go down a slightly different road than we have been going down. To start with, there has been mention made that we should be world leaders in terms of electrical energy generation. I would like to start just by setting the background so I have some information. How much is it costing to build the nuclear power generating station at Darlington?
Mr Eliesen: I do not have the current figures in front of me, but roughly about $12.5 billion is the current estimate.
Mr Wiseman: How much excess capacity is available in the system now in Ontario?
Mr Eliesen: Again, this relates to different periods of time, whether it is winter or summer. Last year, because of the poor operational performance of the nuclear system, Ontario Hydro had to import 10% of its requirements in order to meet the demand that existed within the province. Just reflecting on last year, there was not much of a surplus there to meet the demand requirements --
Mr Wiseman: This is because Darlington is only operating at about, what? 20% capacity?
Mr Eliesen: It is a combination of a number of reasons. The existing nuclear system, which includes all the units, has not been operating at what Ontario Hydro had forecasted, which was 80%-plus. We are operating at a 62% level. It also will reflect the delays that have been experienced in Darlington units 1 and 2 coming into operation. Those two factors were the main reasons responsible for Ontario Hydro having to import roughly 10% of its requirements last year.
Mr Wiseman: Okay. Now I would like to go down another route, because I do not agree with Mr McGuinty. I think there are at least two other sources that could lead to generation of electrical supply.
I would like to talk a bit about methane gas. The Eastern Power Co has set up a generation station at the Brock West landfill site. They are so happy with it now that they are thinking of expanding it. I know that the Ministry of Energy has contributed to the funding of that. I would like some of your comments on the potential and the possibility of expanding that kind of generation station to perhaps Keele Valley, Britannia and other landfill sites that are currently just spewing out the methane gas, a greenhouse gas, and perhaps looking at research in the future to use the methane gas from biodegradable material as a source of cheap fuel for the generation of electrical energy.
Mr Eliesen: The Ministry of Energy has certainly supported those kind of efforts. There have been programs in the past, as well as currently, to provide incentives for those kinds of developments. Clearly methane gas is a negative factor. With regard to global warming and with regard to landfills, where that methane gas is emanating from, energy-from-waste projects certainly provide a very attractive development to take place.
I do not believe, though, and I would have to check with greater expertise than I have in front in me, that the amount of methane gas that you would get from landfills would be highly significant, but that is a factual matter that can be looked into. Certainly to the degree possible as many plants as can be economically operated from these landfill sources should be undertaken.
Mr Wiseman: This leads me to the next part of the equation then, and that is the buyback plan that would be necessary in order to make these plants viable in terms of economics. Would Ontario Hydro be prepared, or is this something that would have to be mandated by the Ministry of Energy and the government, to increase the per-kilowatt-hour of buyback in order to make these small generating stations viable throughout the province?
Mr Eliesen: The buyback rate from Ontario Hydro has never been a static figure. In fact, as recently as January this year there have been increases of up to 20% in the buyback rate. The whole notion of Ontario Hydro's buyback rate, of course, is one of the major items being reviewed by the Environmental Assessment Board. In the context of the definition, whether the true avoided costs are being reflected in the buyback rate will come out in the hearings and the recommendation by the commissioners. But Ontario Hydro in the past, as well as currently, has made significant adjustments in the buyback rate for all forms of non-utility generation.
Mr Wiseman: Can you give me a number on what the current buyback rate is?
Mr Eliesen: I am afraid I cannot. I do not have it in front of me. It depends on whether it is above five megawatts or not. I can give you that information later on.
Mr Wiseman: Okay, l would like that at some point.
I would like to go down another track, research and development within Ontario Hydro to maximize the efficiency of fuel use. One of the areas where I am really keen on seeing some movement is in the use of hydrogen as a fuel and the use of hydrogen in Ontario. I know the Germans -- it used to be the West Germans, but now that they are unified it is the Germans -- have done a tremendous amount of research into the use of hydrogen, hydrogen hydrides, as storage containers, and the ability to use hydrogen and move it around in a safe way and to use it in jet airplanes, submarines, cars and so on.
Does Ontario Hydro have a role to play in that kind of research and development if it can also use the excess capacity at off-peak hours to generate hydrogen and then burn that hydrogen in stations to generate electricity in peak hours?
Mr Eliesen: I believe there is a role for Ontario Hydro. I think in the past the main role has been through the Ministry of Energy. There have been efforts over the last number of years with the other provincial governments and the government of Canada to provide some funding for the electrolysis of water, and clearly those provinces and those utilities where falling water represents a major portion of electricity generation, such as British Columbia and Manitoba and Quebec, have been the main innovators. But still there is room and opportunity for some support and some development by Ontario Hydro.
Mr Wiseman: My last question, because I am getting the hook here -- and I can go on for ever. In the past, the philosophy of --
Mr Curling: Do not go overtime here.
Mr Wiseman: Yes, I know. You have not got any left.
The philosophy in the past for the generation of electricity is "Big is beautiful." That is why we have an Ontario grid system and huge nuclear power stations, and we tend to localize our power production in major projects.
My understanding is that there are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 625 falling-stream areas in Ontario that could be, without serious damage to the environment, used for small generation of electrical energy that could then be used in the local communities, thus freeing up the major grid systems for either export or the expansion of industries in Ontario.
I would like you to comment on whether or not you see this as an important road for Ontario Hydro to go down, researching the small technology that will generate one or two kilowatts and then feed that back into the line, in terms of the cost of $12.5 billion for a large nuclear station.
Mr Eliesen: Yes, Mr Wiseman, I believe in fact there is a significant program in Ontario Hydro, as well as through the Ministry of Energy, to encourage those kinds of developments. There are, at the same time, particular institutional barriers which limit the development, and this is what the Ministry of Energy has been working on.
There are always tradeoffs, even in limited river systems, whether they are through agriculture or recreation or even some form of industrial development, that limit bringing on stream or cause judgement to be exercised as to whether or not those smaller units should be brought in. But to the degree that there is a benign impact on the environment and to the degree Ontario Hydro has not been involved because the developments have been, I guess, too small, then there should be and there is an active program both on behalf of the Ministry of Energy and Ontario Hydro to accelerate the development in this area.
Mrs Haslam: I was interested in a couple of comments, and I have written a couple of them down, such as Mr Jordan saying that he did not want to change the way of life of people. But I had a lot of environmental groups come in and see me last week. I met with at least three environmental groups. One of the things they talked about was the fact that the more electricity you use, the cheaper it is. I found that a very interesting comment, the fact that your rates decrease the more you use from the public utilities people.
You talked about in 1984-88 being chair of the board of directors in Manitoba Hydro. "During that period the utility operated profitably, increased its financial reserves for three consecutive years and maintained its position as the lowest-cost electrical service in Canada." Do you foresee a raise in rates in order to promote the type of conservation that we should be looking at?
Mr Eliesen: I personally do not believe rate increases should be used as a method of limiting consumption. I believe you limit consumption through other methods. l believe that current rates are already quite high in the province of Ontario, in part related to some of the difficulties of the nuclear system. That is why the stress should be provided towards energy-demand conservation. If you can limit, then you do not have to invest more in the system.
The method upon which electricity is priced is on an average-cost basis, which means, in effect, that the low-priced, let us say, hydraulic developments from the past or low-priced other generation sources are mixed in with some of the higher marginal-priced costing of today's plant, of which Darlington would be a prime example.
The methods upon which residential, but more specifically industrial, users have been priced have been on a fixed and variable basis. This is one area that I believe is currently being looked at at Ontario Hydro to ensure that there is not a built-in incentive, as a result of the rate structure, to utilize more.
At the same time the costing procedures, as set out in the Power Corporation Act, clearly reflect that you need to obtain sufficient revenue from your fixed assets. That is the basis upon which the rates have been formalized, not only here in Ontario but also with other utilities. But it is an area that I am aware is being looked at and certainly should be addressed in the near future. The same thing is taking place with other utilities in Canada.
Mrs Haslam: Along that line, one of the other comments was that you sell the use of electricity. Now that we are getting more and more into promoting conservation of energy in various ways, I wondered what role you see Hydro playing in this energy conservation.
Mr Eliesen: I believe Ontario Hydro should be the number one player when it comes to impacting the consumption patterns of electricity by users here in Ontario. I think roughly 7,000 to 8,000 megawatts have been identified on a technical basis for demand management or energy conservation. That is quite a large amount of potential to be impacted. The largest amount, of course, is in the industrial and institutional area as opposed to the residential, but the manner and method by which individuals live and work in society obviously impacts the industrial and institutional area. That is why the message that has to go out by Ontario Hydro, together with major incentives, is to impact people's consumption patterns of electricity. This is taking place today at Ontario Hydro. I believe it can and should be accelerated.
Mrs Haslam: I will pass, Mr Chair, for now.
Mr Hayes: Mr Eliesen, you have a so-called reputation of flooding areas, like in Manitoba. I guess I would like you to really address that and ask you if the kind of things you did there you would plan on doing in Ontario.
Mr Eliesen: Let me say for the record that as the chair of Manitoba Hydro I was associated with the construction of one generating station, the 1,200 megawatt Limestone generating station. It represented the third of a series of hydro stations on the Nelson River and, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, was developed in an environmentally responsible manner, sensitive to the needs of aboriginal communities.
Unlike earlier hydraulic developments in Manitoba, which did result in substantial flooding, the Limestone project was largely a run-of-the-river development which, due to the high banks of the Nelson River, for anyone who has been in that part of the country, resulted in no major flooding of the landscape and minimal environmental impact.
I am very proud to have been associated with the Limestone project. You had a clean, renewable, non-polluting project which provided tremendous economic and social benefits to aboriginal people, which came in $1 billion under cost and is a renewable energy project. I am very proud of the project and I think some of the descriptions that have been made of the project in the media have been inaccurate.
Mr Huget: Mr Eliesen, one of the concerns I think a lot of people have about Hydro itself is that there are huge cost overruns in some of its facilities. Could you give me an indication in terms of what can be done about those cost overruns and how you would handle those sorts of problems?
Mr Eliesen: Obviously, when you are dealing with major technologies, and particularly for utilities, which are now becoming more involved in rehabilitation as opposed to developing new, greenfield kinds of sites for generating electricity, it is a new area. There perhaps is not the expertise associated with this new area and it has involved major expenditures.
My own experience in Manitoba Hydro has been to ensure that there is proper accountability and management accountability in the development of these projects. My own experience has been very favourable in this area. It is an area obviously that is of concern at Ontario Hydro, particularly in three or four major areas, and it is an area that I would want to discuss with senior management and with my fellow board members if I am appointed to the position.
Mr Huget: Are there, in your view, other areas where Hydro could make a positive contribution to the economy of Ontario, other than just providing low-cost power?
Mr Eliesen: As I mentioned in reference to Mr Jordan's questions, I believe there is a role for Ontario Hydro in strategic purchasing, which is a continuation of what existed in the past, but in the context of new technologies, dealing with demand management and energy conservation. I think Ontario Hydro, which purchases roughly $1 billion a year, can provide a formidable creative instrument for developing indigenous, Ontario-based employment and related technologies. It is an area that certainly I would want to explore with board members and with management.
The Chair: Time for one more quick question. Who wants it? Mrs Haslam.
Mr Wiseman: I do not want to face the wrath --
Mr Bradley: I am shut out.
Mrs Haslam: I am not that way, Mr Wiseman. I will pass to you, if you really want.
Mr Wiseman: Go right ahead.
Mr Bradley: Karen, you can let me ask them. I have an hour's worth ready.
Mrs Haslam: It is just that I do not want to give the impression that I have this wrath that --
Mr Wiseman: You had better hurry up and ask the question.
The Chair: Sorry, time is up.
Mrs Haslam: No, Mr Chair. You mentioned 60% -- that is another note -- that the nuclear plants were operating at 60%. I wonder if you thought that Hydro could maintain power supply and still comply with the directions of the current government regarding nuclear power.
Mr Eliesen: I indicated ironically, because of the recession and the kind of demand that currently exists here in Ontario, which is at the same level that existed two and a half years ago, we do have a comfort level for the next three or four years of ensuring that we do as much as possible on energy conservation, on non-utility generation and improving the operational performance of the existing nuclear stations. All those things are areas which I would recommend to my board if I was appointed to this position.
The Chair: Thanks very much, Mr Eliesen. We appreciate your appearance before the committee this morning.
Mr McGuinty: I wanted to make a motion, Mr Chair, if I may at this point and while Mr Eliesen is here. I have several more, I think, very important questions to put to Mr Eliesen. I note that our terms of reference provide that we can spend up to three hours on one party's review of intended appointments. This of course, I am sure the members of this committee will all understand, is not your typical appointment. We are talking about the chairman of Ontario Hydro -- again, 27,000 employees involved, assets of $39 billion, annual revenues of $6 billion.
I would like to move that we request that Mr Eliesen return at some time in the very near future for another hour and a half in order that we might proceed with further questioning, which I think is very important.
The Chair: I do not think this is the appropriate time to deal with this. I want to put that on the record. The procedures that have been set down by this committee and have been functioning since this mandate was applied is that the subcommittee would make the decisions.
I want to point out, as was pointed out earlier, that Mr Eliesen's review was a selection of the official opposition. The representative on the subcommittee for the official opposition has the opportunity, if he or she so desires, to take up to a maximum of three hours, with Mr Eliesen, for example. So if your appointee on a subcommittee when the decision was made to review Mr Eliesen's appointment wished to take up that additional time, that choice was his at that point in time. He asked for one hour. I think it would be totally inappropriate, once we go through this review process, to at this juncture say we are going to delay the deliberations on Mr Eliesen's appointment to ask for additional time. I think it is --
Mrs Sullivan: That is a reasonable thing to do.
The Chair: I think it is quite out of order and it is quite in contradiction to the ways in which this committee has been functioning. If we want to deliberate this at some point, we have an agenda here, which I want to stick to, because we have very tight time lines, and if you, Mr McGuinty, want to refer this to your representative on the subcommittee for deliberation or if the committee wants to deal with this at some future point, I would say, let's do so. We have a tough schedule here to comply with today. I would like to move on. If you want to challenge the Chair on this, I am trying to be as co-operative as I can be. But I think that we have a lot of people waiting to appear before us. I do not want to get into this kind of debate. I think it is out of order and I think it is inappropriate at this time, respectfully.
Mr McGuinty: You are not saying that I cannot bring the motion at some later date.
The Chair: No, I am not at all, but I am asking for your co-operation.
Mr Eliesen, thank you. For your information and those other intended appointees in the gallery, we will be reviewing the appointments next week, and the decisions will be conveyed to all of the intended appointees following that meeting. Thank you once again.
Is there a brief comment from Mr Silipo?
Mr Silipo: It is really just a reflection, Mr Chair. While the next person is coming up, I was going to ask if Mr McGuinty would be willing to provide members of the committee with copies of the letter from some members of Ontario Hydro that he quoted from.
The Chair: That request is on the record.
The Chair: Our next review is Elmer McVey. Would you come forward. Welcome to the committee, Mr McVey. Again, Mr McVey, you are a selection of the official opposition. Would you like a minute or so to make some comments, or should we get right into questions?
Mr McVey: No, I think they have all the information they require. The only thing I can say is that I am here and you can give a go at me, if you like. Whatever comes out of it, we will accept.
Mr Bradley: My first question is to deal with political affiliation, because we are looking at all these committee appointments and seeing that there seems to be a pattern developing. I see you list yourself as an active member of the New Democratic Party.
Mr McVey: Yes.
Mr Bradley: Do you think that this influenced the government's decision to appoint you to this position?
Mr McVey: It may have. I do not know.
Mr Bradley: Do you believe, sitting on this board, that you should reflect the viewpoint of the New Democratic Party as it relates to energy and environmental issues on the board?
Mr McVey: Mr Bradley, my appointment comes through a recommendation from the Municipal Electric Association. I think the MEA has very strong views on certain items that appear generally before the board and before Ontario Hydro and the government. As such, I would be prepared and will accept the fact that I am an MEA appointment and will do what I can towards fostering the better use of electricity in the province of Ontario as seen by the utilities and by the MEA.
Mr Bradley: When the viewpoints of the MEA are in conflict with the viewpoints of the New Democratic Party, which do you feel should override?
Mr McVey: I would say the views of the MEA.
Mr Bradley: Let me clarify this, because I recognize what you are saying when you say you are recommended by the MEA. It is a bit of a different position. Do you consider yourself to be a delegate or a representative of the MEA, or neither?
Mr McVey: I would say neither really. The recommendation comes through the MEA. They were asked for a number of names. My name was put forward. It was a surprise, to a degree, but not greatly. I have been a member of the party for a considerable number of years and knew that might have some influence on the people who are making that appointment, but I believe they felt my qualifications as a member of Sudbury Hydro and my background in community affairs within the Sudbury area were sufficient to suggest that I could do the job for Ontario Hydro -- hopefully, for Ontario Hydro and the MEA, and the people in the utilities and the people of Ontario.
Mr Bradley: There have been some suggestions from some people nearby, particularly in the Elliot Lake-Blind River area, that the area should be considered for a nuclear generating station. Do you have a view on that?
Mr McVey: I have heard that, and I know there are a number of people in the Elliot Lake area who have suggested that would be a great area for it. My view is that before any of that work is done on a new nuclear power plant, there has to be an awful lot more work done on what I would call the efficiency of nuclear energy before we can do that at all. I have no strong feelings about where a plant would go. I know there are a number of people who are unemployed up there at present or probably will become unemployed within the very near future. Ontario Hydro, as the main procurer, if you like, of fuel from the Elliot Lake area would be responsible to a degree for the outcome of all of the shutdowns as a result of that, and I think it is incumbent upon it and the government and all of us to see that those people are fully employed. Now, whether it would be in that capacity or in some other capacity, I do not know. I would not particularly recommend, if you want to call it that, a nuclear energy plant in northern Ontario.
Mr Bradley: Do you believe that Ontario Hydro should continue to purchase its uranium from Ontario sources?
Mr McVey: I have a bit of a problem with that, because knowing what the cost of it is at the present time, if we are going to have electricity provided by that I think we have to use the cheapest fuel it is possible to get. I do not see how the people of Ontario can continue to subsidize the purchase of uranium from those mines when it is such low grade. There is one mine in the area that is much higher grade than Denison and that will be shutting down within another year and a half or two years, so I do not see how it can be justified to continue to purchase the uranium from Ontario.
Mr Bradley: Is this a viewpoint which you have had for a number of years? Because you have been involved, I know, with the hydro.
Mr McVey: Yes, it is.
Mr Bradley: You have had that for number of years. In terms of nuclear generating stations, do you think there should be no more nuclear generating stations built in Ontario?
Mr McVey: No, I do not feel that strongly about it. No matter what type of generation you have, there are problems with it. You have environmental problems with every one of them; it does not make any difference which one it is. I think we should take the one that is the safest as far as the environment is concerned and the safest to operate. If that means nuclear, that is what it means.
Mr Bradley: How do you think which is the safest should be determined?
Mr McVey: I think you have to be able to provide safe storage for nuclear waste. You have to be able to provide safe transportation for nuclear waste. You have to be able to provide a method in which it can be transported, if you want to call it that, that it would not be taken from Darlington through the city of Toronto and up Highway 17 to wherever it is going to go, or up Highway 400. I am not sure whether the transporting of that waste on water would be acceptable to the environmental people. I am not so sure it would be acceptable to the people in your area and the Welland Canal to have a shipload of nuclear waste going through the Welland Canal. But I do not know how you are going to be able to do all of this. I think an awful lot more studies have to be done on it to find out how you can make a nuclear plant a hell of a lot safer than it is at the present moment.
When I say "safe" I mean the safe storage of the spent fuels. The present method of doing it has been working very well, but it cannot last for ever because there is not enough room for it.
Mr Bradley: I have heard people advance the cause -- and perhaps if I look back on the record I may have even advanced the cause at one time in this Legislature -- of small water projects. You are in the advantageous position of seeing the effect of two kinds of environmental impacts. One is sulphur dioxide, which is not through coal plants in your area but through Inco. The second is, you are familiar, living in northern Ontario, with the number of smaller water projects and their impact on areas.
I think you have indicated there is no totally benign way of producing electrical power. What do you see as the problems, if any, with these small hydraulic projects? As I say, you can see them perhaps more in your area than others can in other areas, although even in my own city I see one that is causing some problems.
Mr McVey: Earlier, when the previous person was sitting here, the suggestion was made that there are about 60 or 65 places around Ontario where small plants could be put into small rivers and streams. I think that is a hell of a good way to produce electricity.
Unfortunately, in the wintertime in northern Ontario a lot of those rivers freeze up pretty bad. Some of them freeze completely, as you well know, coming from the area. The runoff in the spring may not be what is required, so you may not be able to generate the power you require. Even some of the plants on the Spanish River, for instance, that have been built by Inco over a period of years, because of water conditions or amounts of water, have been having to be shut down because there is not sufficient water to operate them.
That is about the only problem with it, a lack of water in certain times of the year. I really do not find any problem with small generation. I know it is done in England all the time.
Mr Bradley: Do you think that Ontario Hydro should be in the business of promoting development in areas of the province that do not have development by means of providing electricity at a lower rate than perhaps other areas of the province? I invite you to think of northern Ontario, where so many of the costs are significantly higher of developing or of implementing plants. Do you think that Ontario Hydro should be in the business -- I hate to use the word "subsidize," but I will -- of subsidizing rates in that area to encourage certain development in that area?
Mr McVey: I do not think Ontario Hydro should be in that type of business at all. But I think that if the government says it should be in that business, then it should be in that business. I think it is up to the government. It is a government policy that must be established as to whether they are going to subsidize industry in northern Ontario to develop in northern Ontario, which means of course that the government itself is going to have to make that decision and pass on that decision to Ontario Hydro, and the board of Ontario Hydro would have to take it under consideration and work towards whatever it is the government wants.
The Chair: I am sorry, that was your last question, Mr Bradley. I neglected to note this is only a half-hour review, so actually you had a little more time.
Mr Bradley: That is fine.
Mr Jordan: I would like to welcome you here this morning, especially as a delegate or appointee through the Municipal Electrical Association. I would be interested, Mr McVey, in knowing your thoughts on the future of Ontario Hydro relative to the municipalities. I will be more specific. Would you foresee Ontario Hydro looking after generation and transmission of power and your groups looking after the retail and service end of it?
Mr McVey: That is the way it is at the present time, except that Ontario Hydro still has a fairly large rural customer base. I believe that rural customer base should be transferred to a utility, either establish a utility of rural customers or have as many rural customers as possible transfer to the utilities in place.
Mr Jordan: Do you see an amalgamation of smaller utilities? We have utilities with as few as 500 customers still functioning and, to some degree, contracting their work to Ontario Hydro. Do you see a regionalization or an amalgamation of those utilities into something of a minimum size so that they could in fact handle the retail --
Mr McVey: Yes, I do. I should say to you, though, that there are times when there is a cost of size. If you get a small utility with only 500 customers, it may be able to serve those 500 customers exceedingly well. If you add another 10,000 customers or another 1,000 customers to it, it may not be able to serve those additional people as it is able to serve those 500 people. A lot of it depends on how they do it and whether it would make a viable utility or not. I know that lately, in the last six or seven months, smaller utilities have been amalgamated with other utilities to make larger utilities. I do not think size is always advantageous.
Mr Jordan: No. I think we understand, though, that there is a certain amount of equipment required, say, for a community of 5,000 people -- in trucks, in trained staff, in computers, in administration staff -- in order to make that utility function. What I am wondering is where you have a series of communities of 5,000 to 8,000 within a 50-mile radius, do you see your organization, through your experience with MEA, looking towards consolidating under one commission and under one administration and equipment centre that would service all those areas? Do you see that in the future?
Mr McVey: Yes, I do. I see that coming in the future, because it appears that the cost of equipment for a utility of 500 customers and a utility with 10,000 customers, or even more, is exactly the same. You cannot buy a line truck now --
Mr Jordan: For $100,000.
Mr McVey: Well, $100,000 is a pretty small line truck.
Mr Jordan: Without equipment.
Mr McVey: It costs a real arm and a leg in order to be able to operate a utility to any extent. There should be a way of pooling resources, if you want to call it that, for a number of utilities, either by amalgamation or by an agreement between them all to have one singular setup for line persons and the other people who are necessary.
Mr Jordan: Is there presently a force, if you will, in that direction within your organization?
Mr McVey: I am not so sure there is. I know there has been one amalgamation in the Simcoe area where a number of smaller utilities got together and a couple of townships got together and have established a utility. I believe they are going to have an election this fall to name it. That will bring in a pool of equipment so they can operate from one single area. I think it may be something that is going to be coming in the future.
Mr Jordan: I understand Ontario Hydro's original mandate was the generation and transmission of power. Then when it was wholesaled to a utility, the utility took over and set its policies under Ontario Hydro's approval to retail that to the people at cost, if you will, from the thing. In the last number of years, Ontario Hydro has tended to infiltrate into the utilities with almost overruling policies relative to conservation, in some instances, where the mechanism for conservation in that utility was placed before it but that utility in fact did not see fit in its community to implement those conservation policies or whatever marketing policies they might have been. So I am wondering, are you positive about Ontario Hydro returning to generation and transmission and the people in their communities or utilities deciding on how they are going to use the product?
Mr McVey: We have a family, if you want, of electrical users across the province, regardless of where you happen to be. We also have a family of utilities, one of which is Ontario Hydro. I do not think any utility by itself, including Ontario Hydro, can do the job of conservation that is required. I think everybody has to work together on it. There is not any utility, including our utility in Sudbury, that has the money to do what is required to convince people to conserve electricity, and it is a big job to convince them. We can go to alternate fuels and all kinds of other things, but you are not going to convince them to save electricity under the present system we are using.
Mr Jordan: So you feel that part should be on provincial --
Mr McVey: Well, l think we all have to work together to do it. It cannot be done in isolation. Ontario Hydro cannot do it in isolation. There is no utility in the province that can do it in isolation. We all have to do it together, we have to work together. And not only the utilities, but the government has to work with it too, the Ministry of Energy, and Ontario Hydro all have to work together in order to make sure the conservation objectives of the government and of Ontario Hydro are met. It cannot be done in isolation at all.
Mr Jordan: But it can be done through the MEA or some body that has --
Mr McVey: Somebody has to have some authority over it; not necessarily authority, but some reporting mechanism so you can see where you are going and where you have been.
Mr Jordan: Are you familiar with the 25-year demand-supply of Ontario Hydro?
Mr McVey: Very lightly, I guess you would call it. I really have not paid a great deal of attention to it.
Mr Jordan: You would be aware that the 25-year demand-supply was put together with a lot of expertise and with a lot of environmental input?
Mr McVey: Yes.
Mr Jordan: And with a lot of expense?
Mr McVey: Yes.
Mr Jordan: And you also realize that at present the hearings are going on, and we have groups of people with no expertise, if I may say so, but a philosophy, who are being given finances to make presentations there -- which is part of our democratic society, which I am not questioning. On the other hand, should those environmental hearings come out positive to the 25-year demand-supply plan as presented by Ontario Hydro -- there are different options within the plan, if one of those options is accepted -- would you feel your group, the MEA, the Ministry of Energy should get behind it, then, and let's get on with the job?
Mr McVey: I am not sure what you mean by positive. There is a positive and a negative, but to each one of us the negative is different than it is. If it came out in favour of the 25-year plan as it is presently written, which means there is another nuclear plant in the offing some time, and the environmental assessment review came out and said that is what we should do, I suppose that is what we should do. I suppose under those circumstances the MEA and the utilities and Ontario Hydro would say, "Fine, let's go." If it comes out opposite to that, I think there would be a long discussion.
Mr Jordan: So you feel the money spent by Ontario Hydro, with its expertise and with the input from environmentalists and so on, has been money well spent in putting forward a 25-year plan to give industry in Ontario some confidence in the future supply of electricity to the province, to the extent that they can now start planning for a plant expansion that is going to take 10 years to --
Mr McVey: If the large users of power in Ontario, the large manufacturers, require power to operate a plant, they will get that power. Whether they get it from nuclear or whether they get it from some other source, they will certainly get it, because I do not believe Ontario Hydro has a mandate to say to somebody, "No, you can't have it."
Mr Jordan: How do you feel --
The Chair: This is the last question.
Mr Jordan: How do you account for the unrest and the discontent among the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario today relative to the present policy, or lack of policy, if you will? "It's nuclear if we have to and not necessarily nuclear," is about the way we are approaching it, and yet when you sit down in a boardroom you cannot make a decision for a company on that basis unless we know, as you just said, that the power will be there.
Mr McVey: I am really not sure. There is a problem across the province, and a lot of us seem to take exception to the fact that environmental groups will say you should not flood any land. We also take exception to the fact that we should not build another coal-powered plant. We take exception to the fact that we should not have another nuclear plant. We take exception to every possible way because there is no non-polluting way of producing electricity.
I think the environmental people coming before the board have every right to be there and every right to accept the fact that their suggestions and their comments will be taken into consideration when the final decision is made.
Mr Jordan: Including Ontario Hydro.
Mr McVey: Including Ontario Hydro. And I think under those circumstances that the environmentalists and the other people who are involved in it, the native groups and everything else, should not accept anything less than a really good environmental assessment before anything is done on their lands or anything that is done in the province before any new plants are built.
The Chair: Thank you. We have to move along here.
Mr Waters: I will pick up on, l guess, what you have been talking about, and that is you have been talking about the need for types of power and how we create power.
I look across the province and I look at the area that I represent as being probably just normal. We have a large number of small to medium-sized hydroelectric plants across the province that date back to the beginning of hydroelectric power that have never been updated; they are running exactly the same generators and everything is the same.
I was wondering, in your opinion would it be cost-efficient to replace these generators with more modern generators, up-to-date generators? Would we not produce more power and would it be cost-efficient to do such a thing? That is another alternative to me. It is something that we do not seem to look at very often.
Mr McVey: No, you are quite correct, it is not looked at too frequently, particularly by the public who is involved in it. As long as the power is still on everybody seems to be happy.
Mrs Haslam: Especially Mr Jordan; he likes the air conditioning.
Mr McVey: Exactly; we all like it. The thing is that there is a considerable number of technologies that are available now whereby you can put a generator into a plant that will produce twice the power with the same amount of water that it would have done 25 or 30 years ago. A lot of the plants are 50 and 60 years old. Some of them have been upgraded over a period of time, but to the technology that was available about 25 years ago. With the newer technology they can produce much, much more power without having to flood additional lands, just changing the generators and the technology that is within those plants to do it. It is quite possible to do it and my feeling is that it should be done. We have six or seven plants in our area, in the Sudbury area, that I believe should be done.
Mr Waters: Just to give you an idea, I actually represent Muskoka-Georgian Bay, so we have that whole watershed. The flooding, if there is to be any flooding, has already been done.
Mr McVey: It is already done, yes.
Mr Waters: What I do not understand about it, and that is why I asked the question, is whether there would be a savings then in the long run, I guess, to the public because you would have more power. It would pay for itself and also create savings.
Mr McVey: That is right. It can be done, there is no reason why it cannot be done, except money.
Mr Waters: In the one case in Muskoka, they just decommissioned it and I do not understand that. That is stupid to me, when you decommission. That is why I asked the question. I would like to know basically where you stood on that topic.
Mr McVey: I do not know why it was decommissioned. I understood there was one decommissioned just lately, but it could very well be that the equipment in the plant is in such bad shape that it is a danger to operate it. So the thing to do would be to shut it down and then rebuild it. I do not know the plant you are talking about, but that would be my assessment of it, without knowing too much about it.
Mr Wiseman: I am back on my theme again. I see two philosophies about the production of electricity, "big is beautiful" versus the small local. I do not know if you can answer these questions, or whether I am even being fair in asking them.
Do you have any idea how much electrical power is lost over the distance of transmission on the transmission line?
Mr McVey: I do not know, but I understand it is considerable.
Mr Wiseman: Would you be in favour of doing some kind of study to ascertain how much power is lost, and then to put that into a perspective of generating and, as we have already mentioned, rebuilding local plants to see if there is a cost efficiency there?
Mr McVey: I believe that study has already been carried out. I believe Ontario Hydro has the figures of what the line losses are on transmission. I have not seen it, but I am sure there is a study. Their study has been done and they really know, because I know each utility is charged for line loss.
Mr Wiseman: As a member of the board of directors, given some of the questions that have been put forward this morning to you, would you be carrying any pet projects of your own to the board of directors you would like to see them investigate and move on?
Mr McVey: I do, but I think that is kind of an unfair question because I am not on the board yet.
Mr Wiseman: I am getting back to the Eastern Power generation. You were in the room when I asked Mr Eliesen about Eastern Power and the methane gas generation of electricity, burning methane gas in a station in Pickering to generate electricity. In conjunction with that, as the closer you generate electricity to where it is being used the less loss there is going to be, I see this as an area that should really be looked at in terms of expansion. Would you be interested in looking at it and doing that kind of research?
Mr McVey: An awful lot of research has already been done on it, and the report I read by the company that has done it was that it had spent some time researching the project to see whether it could be large enough to make it efficient, and it seems to have agreed it would be. I suppose the same company, as you have stated earlier, is thinking of going into other areas, and it would be much more advantageous to everybody concerned if it were able to do that in other areas as well, to burn off the methane from the garbage dumps or whatever, in order to produce electricity. I am not sure what size of plant would be required, or whether you would have to have something else with it to make it a cogeneration plant. I do not know. I have never looked at that. I suppose they have.
Mr Wiseman: I read, and I am not sure if this is accurate, that Ontario Hydro at some point in the near future will have to be decommissioning a nuclear power station, perhaps part of the Bruce or even -- I think Chalk River is AECL, but one of these plants will have to be decommissioned. Have you any idea what the cost might be of decommissioning one of these power plants and what impact that would have on rates in Ontario?
Mr McVey: I have no idea.
Mr Wiseman: Again, one of questions that was raised earlier is about the storage of spent nuclear fuel rods and waste material from reconstruction of these plants. Currently it is being stored onsite in Pickering, which I am very familiar with since I live less than a mile away from it. I am just wondering, have you any notions or any knowledge about that kind of storage and any preconceived notions about whether it is good or bad?
Mr McVey: I have followed to some degree the discussions by the federal government and its agency regarding the safe storage of spent fuel, in conjunction with the steelworkers in Sudbury, Homer Seguin in Sudbury, who is on that commission. I have talked to him on a number of occasions. They seem to feel that at the present moment there is a safe method of doing it and the safest method of doing it is by burying it or storing it underground in the manner in which the federal government and the agency have stated.
As I mentioned to Mr Bradley a while ago, the problem that arises from the whole thing, even if the project itself becomes environmentally safe, is getting the spent fuel to the site, wherever the site is. To find the site is no great problem; it is to get the fuel to it without travelling it through the city of Toronto or the Welland Canal or however you are going to get it to a site that is going to be the biggest problem with it. Is it better to leave it where it is at the present moment because it is safe, as safe as it would be in transportation? The argument comes, how do you get it to where you want it to go?
Mr Wiseman: Are you aware that they are currently transporting tritium from Pickering to Darlington?
Mr McVey: Yes.
Mr Wiseman: They are using the 401. It goes through Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Newcastle.
Mr McVey: Yes.
Mr Wiseman: They are already transporting nuclear product.
Mr McVey: But they certainly are not fuel rods.
Mr Wiseman: No, they are not, it is tritium. It is water.
The Chair: Last question, Mr Wiseman.
Mr Wiseman: Thanks a lot; you just blew my concentration. I will leave it at that.
The Chair: Thanks very much. That concludes the questioning, Mr McVey. We appreciate your appearing before the committee and we wish you well. We will convey the committee's decision to you next week.
Mr McVey: Thank you very much.
Mr McGuinty: Pursuant to Mr Silipo's request, I think it only fair that I file the letter that I referred to, just so the committee will know what I am talking about. It is a letter dated 14 May 1991 to the Premier, signed by the eight existing directors of Ontario Hydro. In addition to that, I think it would be useful for me to file a letter dated 16 May 1991 from the chair, Robert Franklin, of Ontario Hydro -- I am sorry, from the Premier to the chair.
The Chair: Thank you. They will be received and circulated by the clerk to all members.
The Chair: Next is Jerry Woods, an intended appointee as a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Mr Woods, welcome to the committee. Any brief comments you would like to make before we get into questions?
Mr Woods: No, not at this time, thank you.
The Chair: All right, fine. Mr Jordan, are you prepared to lead off on questions? I know this is catching you unaware.
Mr Curling: Mr Chair?
The Chair: No, Mr Jordan gets first opportunity. If you like, we will vary the cycle and give you an opportunity.
Mr Jordan: I would appreciate that, Mr Chairman.
The Chair: All right, fine. Mr Curling?
Mr Curling: Thank you for coming before us and giving us this opportunity. It is unfortunate, though, Mr Woods, that we have just spent about 55 minutes talking to Ontario Hydro, which is one of our resources in this wonderful province, but the other resource we do have, which is much more important, is people, and we have about five minutes in which to ask you questions. This is a priority, I presume, that the government has given in this light of importance.
Mr Silipo: On a point of order: Perhaps, Mr Chair, you would want to clarify one more time how the time limits were set.
Mr Curling: Is it my time you are talking on?
Mr Silipo: Because they were not set by the government. They were set by the third party in this matter.
The Chair: This is one of the unfortunate things about having new members coming into this committee on a rotating basis, but the times are selected by the various parties and they have up to a maximum of three hours. The time was selected by the third party.
Mr Curling: Regardless of even that, I think it is completely inadequate in a sense.
Anyhow, Mr Woods, I want to thank you for coming forward and giving us this opportunity to ask you a couple of questions. I notice you have extensive union activity as part of your qualifications. I am sure you have learned a lot about people in that process. Do you feel this was one of the factors that brought you to be appointed or to be selected on this commission?
Mr Woods: My union activity or union involvement?
Mr Curling: Your union involvement.
Mr Woods: I am sure that had something to do with the process because that is where I have been most active throughout my working life, with unions and, as you say, with people.
Mr Curling: The commission itself has been going through some extensive criticism and review over a couple of years. Some people feel their credibility has been damaged. The commissioner herself has been trying over a couple of years, and ministers in the past have tried, to bring this credibility to a standard that it could be properly represented and deal with the issues afoot. We feel that many of the problems it has been riddled with need a lot of specific action. What action do you feel you would take to restore that kind of credibility that has been lost to what I feel is one of the most important institutions that we have?
Mr Woods: The most glaring thing to me, Mr Curling, is the incredible backlog. I think if I am going to bring anything to the process, should I be selected, it would be to work towards clearing up that backlog.
Mr Curling: There is much more than the backlog situation here. Are you aware of the report that was done by Frances Henry in regard to the Toronto west office?
Mr Woods: No, I am not.
Mr Curling: Are you aware -- I ask you this not in any way to put you on the spot but just to maybe assist you and to alert you; I presume you are being appointed now because the minister stated that is a completed action -- of some of the situations that arose about racism and discrimination within the commission? I raise that because you will be the commissioner who will quite possibly be looking at a review of the entire Ontario Human Rights Commission. If you are not aware of that and realize that the report itself states emphatically that it is not only that area that is riddled with discrimination and low morale but it is across the entire commission -- could you tell me if you are aware of that? If you are not, would you support that a review be done of the entire commission in this regard?
Mr Woods: I am only aware of what I have read in the newspapers and I have read some things to that effect. If those things are true, as you say, I would support whatever action had to be taken to clear that up, of course.
The Chair: I am sorry, Mr Curling. As you said, there is a very brief time on these questions. Perhaps one of the other parties may allocate you some additional time.
Mr Jordan, I am going to ask one question on your time, unless you object.
Mr Jordan: Oh, yes.
The Chair: Mr Woods, I would certainly like to have your views of an issue that I find of interest -- and I know it is going to be a controversial one. I know there was one complaint lodged with the commission and there may be others that I am unaware of. There has certainly been one that has got a lot of press attention, and certainly the current government has undertaken some initiatives in respect to government employees, and that is the question of extending benefits to same-sex couples. I know there is at least one very prominent complaint that has been lodged with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in respect to this matter. I am just wondering if you have a view on that issue, and if so, would you bring it to the committee this morning?
Mr Woods: I really do not have a view on that particular issue. I have not given it a great deal of thought. I have read about it in the papers. Sexual preference and that is really of no concern to me per se. So I have not given that particular issue any thought.
The Chair: It is a question that, with Mr Jordan's permission, I would like to pose to all of the candidates. Mr Jordan, do you have any further questions on your time? You only have two or three minutes.
Mr Jordan: Mr Woods, what do you see as the main contribution of the human rights commission to date?
Mr Woods: It is a vehicle for ensuring social justice for all people. I guess that is its main contribution. I think that is the fundamental contribution it has to make.
Mr Jordan: What do you see as the areas of conflict in the operation of a company or an organization or whatever that have led to these abuses that your commission would have to deal with? Is it a matter of ignorance of the present-day law or is it a social problem with society?
Mr Woods: I think it is much broader than that. I think there are a number of reasons, ignorance being one of them, hundreds of years of social and economic interplay between different ethnic groups, politics of all sorts.
Mr Jordan: As someone who has been affected in such a way that I, through my employer or through someone, would have to approach the human rights commission, do you see an area of abuse on my part, say as someone who is taking my complaint to the human rights commission? Do you think that in some cases the rights to be heard have been abused, if you will?
Mr Woods: I think in every institution there is a percentage of abuse, but I would think it was very small.
Mr Jordan: Do you see a certain fear in the workplace today of an employer or employee unknowingly, and not in any positive way having contributed to, but having found himself or herself in a position where they are in fact in conflict with the Ontario Human Rights Commission?
Mr Woods: Not so much a fear; I think a new awareness of course and a concern. I think, Mr Jordan, we all know the difference between right and wrong. If people are doing the wrong things, they may be fearful.
Mr Silipo: Just to start, Mr Chair, one of the things that I gather this committee, in its earlier incarnation back in 1989-90 when it reviewed the Ontario Human Rights Commission, suggested or recommended in order to deal with the backlog of cases and the resolution of complaints was that precise time limits be set on the proceedings and the various stages, which would impose therefore some time lines by which decisions would have to be made. What is your reaction to something like that?
Mr Woods: I think that is an alternative. I think if people are denied an answer to a problem for a long period of time, years, there has to be another vehicle, and if after a certain period of time it goes automatically to the next stage, I would support that.
Mr Silipo: Are there other ways that you believe the commission could address the better management of its caseload?
Mr Woods: Not that I am aware of now.
Mr Silipo: If there were one or two things you could identify as being particular contributions you would be able to make or skill that you would be able to bring to the commission, what would you say that would be?
Mr Woods: Well, just the experience I have had, just my life experience, I think. I was born on a reservation and grew up in both cultures. I am well aware of discrimination and racism, and I think I dealt with it quite effectively.
Mr Wiseman: Mr Chairman, I would like to make a point at this time that I am not terribly pleased with the feeble retraction Mr Curling made of his accusation that this government party had allocated merely 15 minutes to hear this very important review. I would like to point out that if one were to take this to its logical extreme and to point to the opposite side, one would see that while there were four Liberals here for the entire morning, none of them the regular members of this committee, there is only one now, so I think one should be very careful about accusations.
Mr Curling: Is that part of the five minutes?
The Chair: Mr Curling made a mistake. For your information, Mr Wiseman, it is considered inappropriate in this place to mention the attendance or lack of attendance of members, so I think this is something you should be cognizant of.
Mr Wiseman: With due respect, Mr Chairman, I think that would not have come had the earlier comment been retracted in the gentlemanly manner which this House has normally seen in the past.
Mr Curling: I just said that five minutes is inadequate. I do not care who made the rules, whether it is my party, the Tories or your government. Five minutes is an inadequate time with which to deal with a very important issue.
The Chair: I agree. We just used up the final two minutes, Mr Woods, on that little exchange. Thank you very much for appearing before us. We appreciate it and wish you well.
Mr Woods: Thank you.
ST CLAIR WHARTON
The Chair: The next intended appointment for review is St Clair Wharton. Welcome to the committee, Mr Wharton.
Mr Wharton: Thank you.
The Chair: Is there anything you would like to say before we start the questioning? It is a very brief time we have.
Mr Wharton: Maybe just a little bit I will say about myself.
The Chair: For about one minute.
Mr Wharton: For those who maybe have not given enough time to read my job description, I quite frankly have been a human rights advocate for quite a lengthy time within the city of Toronto. There are a number of cases I have dealt with quite closely, and as a result of some of those cases and the things we dealt with back in those days, I think that from way back then I had that interest in pursuing human rights issues.
The Chair: Thank you. We will begin the questioning with Mr Jordan.
Mr Jordan: Thank you, Mr Chair. Did you wish to share the time with me on this?
The Chair: No. I think I will reserve that question for one other candidate who is going to appear before us.
Mr Jordan: You mentioned that your experience had provided you with some of the incentive to become active on the Ontario --
Mr Wharton: That is right.
Mr Jordan: Would you like to relate some of those for the benefit of the committee, not by name but just by instance?
Mr Wharton: Well, maybe I can. There is a case I was assigned to by the Ontario Federation of Labour some eight or so years ago, as a liaison person reporting to the trade union movement. It dealt with what I considered a brother of East Indian extraction who was fired from his job at a plant here in the city. Consequently, he filed grievances and he also filed a complaint with the commission, and it has taken quite a number of years for resolution of either of these cases.
Mr Jordan: So you have a real concern about the length of time the commission has been taking to deal with issues.
Mr Wharton: Definitely.
Mr Jordan: On investigation of that, have you found there is a fair assessment being done by the commission and that there is a reasonable explanation for delay, or do you find that there are other --
Mr Wharton: I think that is a pretty tough question for me to answer because I am not a commissioner and I do not know of the internal dealings of the commission. I can only view it as a person outside the commission, and the view is that it has taken too long to reach resolution. The specific reasons given -- I do not know if they are correct or not.
Mr Jordan: Do you have some ideas of being fair and yet speeding up the process?
Mr Wharton: I would think that, like the candidate before me who answered the same question or a similar question, in terms of speedy resolution, coming from a trade union background, when you reach a certain point in a process you can automatically go on to the next stage of the process if resolution is not forthcoming. That is a mechanism that should be built in, or could be built in the process as well.
Mr Jordan: I see. So it could be not so much the commission as a group, it could be that the processes need to be analysed and perhaps amended, reviewed or whatever.
Mr Wharton: Exactly.
Mr Waters: I guess I should state that as this particular person is a friend of mine, I am not going to be mean, but I would like to ask one thing. Do you believe the commission does enough in a proactive way or in an education way throughout the province, or do you feel that the commission basically just hears complaints? In other words, do you think it should change or expand its focus?
Mr Wharton: I think it could change and expand its focus as you mentioned and maybe become a little more proactive. I know there are things being done. There are educationals, there is publicity about the work of the commission. However, I do not know if that addresses the question. I think what we have to do in this society is to change people's attitudes so that we might one day render the commission useless.
Mr Waters: I was wondering if you felt that the commission should maybe become more active in the workplace. In other words, from what I have seen and some experience that I have had, I do not see where the commission comes in until -- there seems to be very limited knowledge about how the commission works or how to access or what it does in the workplace. I was wondering if it should go into the workplace where most of this seems to start, and into the schools. What is your opinion?
Mr Wharton: Quite frankly, I do not see that as the solution to the problem, because even though it is true that a lot of conflicts start within the workforce or the workplace, there are also lots of incidents that are also in society at large. Therefore, you have got to address the whole sphere of society as opposed to one particular segment of it.
Mr Silipo: Following along the lines of the first question asked by Mr Waters, one of the things I was surprised to find out in reading the background materials that we have been provided with was the large number or the large percentage of complaints that are based upon issues of handicap. It was something I was surprised at. Maybe I am the only one, but I wonder if you have a comment on that. Is that something that you believe is general knowledge, or is there something we should be doing about that?
Mr Wharton: I do not get your question, sir.
Mr Silipo: I guess the first question I should ask you is whether in fact that is also something that comes as a surprise to you. When I see statistics that indicate that over 40% of the complaints received for the last three years at the commission deal with issues of handicap, is that something that comes as a surprise to you?
Mr Wharton: No, quite frankly, because I was aware of that. However, I think that in the past maybe there was a willingness to bring that kind of situation to the fore and address it quite frankly, as opposed to maybe other areas that we see there are quite lengthy backlogs.
Mr Curling: Mr Wharton, I want to congratulate you for being selected for the commission, and reading your résumé I see too you do bring a lot of experience there, as you said, especially the fact that, as you mentioned earlier on, you were involved with the John Persaud support committee. I have been approached by many people who have shown some concern about that case, and they have expressed disappointment with the new government. Despite statements that were made in the past, they are now not doing anything in this regard. I know the question was put to you. I want to put it to you again, since you were involved in it. Are you satisfied with the outcome of that case?
Mr Wharton: Quite frankly, I am not satisfied with the outcome of the case. However, I do not propose to know the terms under which it was settled. I knew that there was resolution some time closer to the end of last year. I have not seen anything in print as to what exactly was the settlement. All I know is that the case was not ruled in John's favour.
Mr Curling: When we are outside of cases like these, like the way you were active in that case, sometimes we feel there are mysteries within the establishment. Now you are going to be a part of that establishment.
Mr Wharton: I hope I will be.
Mr Curling: Do you have any comment to say, "What is it I would do now to make it more open, to make cases move a bit faster," or some of the disappointments that you have had in that case? What do you feel you would do, or could do, when you would be appointed to the commission?
Mr Wharton: One of the things I can bring to the commission would be my personal experiences as one of colour. Like the old saying, the old cliché, he that wears the shoe feels the pinch. I think that from that standpoint alone I can bring some experiences that maybe can assist others, my peers, I would imagine, at the board to see things maybe much differently than they normally would have seen it without my presence.
Mr Curling: Do you feel that the process is a bit secretive, that it is not involving the public, the commission itself? I know you have met with the commissioner before you came here, or maybe I should ask you that. Did you meet with Commissioner Frazee before coming to the board here?
Mr Wharton: Yes, I met her once.
Mr Curling: Do you feel that sort of closed-door approach needs to be open? Do you feel that is an appropriate way?
Mr Wharton: I would imagine it must have been appropriate, because I would imagine it has been done before.
Mr Curling: So you did not question whether or not that is an appropriate way to follow through?
Mr Wharton: No, I did not.
Mr Curling: With the vast experience that you have, did you feel that the process wherein this system is now set up to be reviewed by all honourable gentlemen and women, when the minister stated that five commissioners have been appointed, meaning it is over with, that you are not coming here for a review really, you are coming here just to be presented and go through that motion?
Mr Wharton: I think it is just a question of semantics. I do not know if there is any substance and truth to the fact that -- what you are saying is that it is a fait accompli. I do not know if that is the fact.
Mr Curling: But her statement was that, and I am saying that in defence of you. You maybe do not need to be defended, but I am saying too that the minister stated that five commissioners have been appointed and we all here, even my colleagues in government, would love for you to come forward so they could make their unqualified, without-any-coercion-at-all assessment of what you are. Then, when we give you our blessing -- I am going to give you my blessing now in that commission -- you know it did not come by any coercion by my leader or anybody else. I wanted to just say that to you. Do you feel that was an appropriate way for her to state, "We have just appointed five new commissioners to go in who have very extensive backgrounds in human rights and civil liberties"?
Mr Wharton: I think it was appropriate in that she maybe went through a process of selection based on maybe a number of names that were forwarded, and she says, "Well, these are the five that I'd like to appoint." Maybe that is when she said, "I've just appointed five." However, you know just as well as everyone else here does that this process has to take place as well.
Mr Curling: My last question: It is always regarded, especially by the Ontario Federation of Labour -- we are quite familiar with it -- that if there is any organization that has been studied, it is this one. It has been studied and restudied. Do you feel any more studies are needed in order to improve the commission?
Mr Wharton: Quite frankly, I do not think so. I do not believe in reinventing the wheel. I think that what we have to do is put our heads together. I think we all know what the problems are in society. Just clean up society a little bit; that is all.
Mr Curling: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Wharton. We appreciate your appearing before the committee today.
Mr Wharton: Thank you, too.
Mr Silipo: While the next person is coming up, if I could just make a point with respect to the issue that Mr Curling was raising: I think that certainly we would all agree that we all sit here without coercion. I think there is a danger sometimes in trying to read from newspaper clippings and attribute statements to ministers.
Mr Curling: Not a newspaper clipping; Hansard.
Mr Silipo: If it is Hansard, I would have to take a look at that because I did not see that. I believe the minister certainly would be the first to acknowledge that her nominations would be subject to the review of this committee.
Mr Curling: At the same time, I resent the fact that he is assuming that I am getting my information from -- I come here as informed as you are, Mr Silipo.
Mr Silipo: I certainly agree with that, Mr Curling.
FRAN REID ENDICOTT
The Chair: Okay. Moving right along, the next intended appointee for review, Fran Reid Endicott, also an intended appointee to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Ms Endicott, welcome to the committee.
Ms Endicott: Thank you.
The Chair: We appreciate your appearance here today. Any brief comments before we begin the questioning? There is a very brief time allocated.
Ms Endicott: Given the brief time and given the sort of cross-talk that has happened, I think I would rather wait for questions.
The Chair: Okay, wise decision. Mr Jordan?
Mr Jordan: Welcome to the committee. I was wondering what objectives of your own you look forward to developing a plan to remove the hangups and the slowness, if you will, of the present system under the present board. Do you have some real suggestions for the board that you hope will still cover the subjects well and the people will be looked after, but yet the whole process would be speeded up?
Ms Endicott: I think one of the things I am looking forward to is working with a group of people who are committed, as I am, to the whole issue of human rights, and in doing so working within a context in which we understand that we are looking not just at issues, say, connected with a backlog, but we are looking to restructuring the commission, looking at the systemic barriers within the commission itself that provoke a backlog or provoke the kind of newspaper reports that we have been reading recently.
What I hope I can contribute to the commission if I am appointed is my experience in dealing with organizations, and in fact working towards developing systemic solutions towards systemic barriers.
Mr Jordan: Thank you. I notice that in some of your experience in representative projects you have experience in developing a policy on sexual harassment and procedures for dealing with related incidents. Do you have any plan through the commission to assist in education in the workplace so that incidents of this nature are not going to happen just through somebody not being familiar with the code and the ethics of the code relative to that type of discrimination -- which can happen, in my experience, very unknowingly -- and all of a sudden the person finds themselves facing a harassment charge? Would you like to say anything on that?
Ms Endicott: I am not sure this is going to sound as a direct answer to your question, because I am not sure that at this point I can give a direct answer. I think it would be inappropriate for me at this point to lay out a blueprint for what the commission should be doing when I am not even yet a member of the commission.
What I would like to say, however, is that in dealing with issues around sexual harassment, or racial harassment, for that matter, one of the things that we have to be aware of is that we are not dealing with these issues in a vacuum, but we are dealing with what we see as incidents symptomatic of something that is deeply buried within the society. So I would see that the commission would certainly have a role in educating the general public in being very -- I hate the word, but I cannot think of a better one at this point -- proactive in areas like the workplace, in itself becoming a model for other workplaces to emulate.
I would see that education aspect as being extremely important. How that is done becomes extremely important as well.
Mr Jordan: Could you tell me, at the present time the person accused, if you will, of racial or sexual whatever it might be, what protection do they have?
Ms Endicott: I believe that they have a fair bit of protection under the law. One of the things that I think --
Mr Jordan: Excuse me, I mean through the commission; is there any protection?
Ms Endicott: For one thing, I think the burden of proof is still there within the commission itself.
Mr Jordan: But at present, are you not now guilty immediately the charge is laid under the commission?
Ms Endicott: I would assume not. I do not believe so. I think that charges are made and an investigation is then made to see if the charges are supportable and therefore should be brought forward.
The Chair: That was your last question, Mr Jordan.
Mr Silipo: Having had the pleasure to work with Fran Endicott for a number of years as a colleague on the Toronto Board of Education, I know a lot about her feelings and her work. I just wanted to put that on the record.
I want to ask really just one question, Fran, and that deals with the whole area of systemic discrimination, which I know you have both some interest in and have done a fair amount of work in. Again, it is an area that in the past, through various committees, including I guess an earlier report of this committee, there was some suggestion that the human rights commission should have the power to initiate affirmative action programs as a means of dealing with the whole issue of systemic discrimination.
Can you comment about that, as to whether you think that is a direction that should be pursued, or any other thoughts that you might have on how proactive the commission could become or should become in the whole area of systemic discrimination?
Ms Endicott: I think that the commission should be extremely proactive. Again, I would say that how that is done becomes very important. One of the things that is happening at present in this current climate is that there are a number of organizations, a number of commissions, a number of institutions that are involved in dealing with these issues. So one of the things that I personally would hope for is a great deal of co-operation so that we avoid time-wasting turf wars, for instance, and that we in fact come up with policies and implementation practices that use the things that we have at our disposal to our best ability.
As far as the pro-activeness of the commission, I think it is extremely important that the commission be seen, be heard, and a face be placed on that commission as being proactive, as being serious, as an institution that intends to be clearly heard on those issues.
Mrs Haslam: I was interested also to see that you were a trustee on the board and wondered if you found it difficult within the board and within the trustee structure to gain support and set up the -- I am thinking of discrimination against women -- to set up your employment equity as regards to women, affirmative action program?
Ms Endicott: Well one of the things that I am sure, in talking to this group of people, you are well aware of is that you develop political skills very quickly. Especially at the Toronto board, you learn them very quickly indeed the first two months.
When I became a trustee, it was at the time when there had been some work done on the ground. In the same way with the commission, there was work that had been done. There had been a climbing. So no, it was not that difficult in fact to find support to undertake a review. What was far more difficult and what continues to be difficult is to implement the recommendations that the review brought forward.
Mrs Haslam: I come from a trustee background and to tell you the truth, it seemed to be the dollars and cents that they objected to in putting in an employment equity and it got to be a real fight to actually try to implement some of the programs or to actually have someone to implement the program. How much did dollars and cents play in your particular area?
Ms Endicott: I think it played a large role, but on the other hand I think if a board or any organization decides that such an action is a priority, then clearly it has to be prepared to put the money behind it.
Again, an institution like a school board or like the Ontario Human Rights Commission does not exist in a vacuum, so the pressures for something to be done, for changes to be made, are there not just internally but externally as well, and that certainly helps to squeeze some of the dollars and cents out.
Mrs Haslam: I actually made a complaint through the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and it was very difficult to prove. I am wondering what the success rate is. Are you aware of what the success rate is and how many are concluded to the benefit of complainants or are the success rates not as good as they should be?
Ms Endicott: I am sorry but I have not got that kind of information at my fingertips. I am sure that is something that could be provided to you and should be provided to the public generally. I am aware of the backlog, of course. I am aware.
Mrs Haslam: I was not talking backlog. I was talking successful completion.
Ms Endicott: I am sorry. I have not got that information at my fingertips.
Mr Curling: Ms Endicott, you come to this review with your credibility and your credentials quite impeccable and you are well known in the community for the work that you have done. I want to commend you for that.
Ms Endicott: Thank you.
Mr Curling: Let me just refer to the backlog itself since it has been raised. I have heard the minister say that within a very short time the elimination of the human rights commission would come about. From your experience with the issue of racial discrimination and sex harassment, do you feel that this is a realistic assessment: that we will see -- if we even put a time frame of 15 years on it -- there will not be a human rights commission any more because we will have solved all the human rights violations in this wonderful place, Ontario?
Ms Endicott: Mr Curling, I think you and I share an experience which makes us rather dubious about that 15-year time lag. I think what can happen in 15 years, however, is that we can create a climate, we can create expectations, we can create institutions in which something like the human rights commission becomes a part of that society that is integral to the functioning of that society and not something that hangs on the fringes. I think part of what has dogged this commission from its inception is somehow a looking at the commission as something that exists out there and on the fringes and not as part of creating the society we want to see being created.
Mr Curling: Your response triggers me again to comment that someone like you coming before the review should spend an hour with us. The reason for that is that in any job application, one learns of the applicant and wants to know why we should employ that individual and realize that we do get good quality for our money. However, five minutes is given to me and I think it is our loss, not your loss as much.
You are quite familiar, I am sure, with the problems of the low morale in the commission, of the morale of racial discrimination and sexual harassment within the commission itself and the persistence of case backlog, as a matter of fact, it is said. Do you feel that the appointment of five new commissioners is adequate to respond to all of these problems, or do you feel the commission should be expanded and more should be there in order to deal with all these problems?
Ms Endicott: I think I would like to reserve judgement in terms of the numbers until I am actually on the commission. But let me just say that whether it is five, 10, 12 or 50, it has been my experience in doing this work that the numbers, while important, are secondary to the kinds of plans, to the kinds of analyses that are brought to bear on the problems or the issues. So in terms of numbers, I think I would be in a much better position to answer that if I become appointed to it.
Mr Curling: I see the Chairman is getting uneasy, so my five minutes must be up, but let me ask you this last question then. I will put it in this way. There was one renowned leader -- and I will not call his name; he is not one of my favourite persons -- but he has said a very wise thing. He said, "Give me the tool and I will do the job." So therefore within this we would like maybe people and where the resources of money -- that is very important. If we have money with the commission, it can assist. At the present there seems to be a freeze on the funding of the commission at the level -- I am looking at what they got last year to what they got this year. Do you feel that this in any way assists the commission that you will sit on, as soon as you have been appointed, in dealing with the task ahead of you?
Ms Endicott: We have talked about money before. I always believe that the finances are important. We need as much money as we can get, but let me repeat that I think that having the money also depends on wisely spending it and making sure that what we do get we spend as wisely as we possibly can.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Endicott, for your appearance here today. We will be in touch with you next week to advise you of the committee's decision.
Ms Endicott: Thank you.
The Chair: Welcome to the committee, Ms Paquette. Would you like to make any brief comments before you get any questions?
Ms Paquette: No, that is fine.
The Chair: Okay. Mr Jordan has kindly given me a couple of minutes of his time. Perhaps you were here earlier. I know that in the bio we were given with respect to you, it was indicated that you were a strong advocate with respect to gay and lesbian rights. I know when the minister was meeting with the Toronto city council race relations committee, one of the clippings we have been provided indicated that she hoped to see some changes with respect to the Human Rights Code dealing with sexual orientation. I just wondered if you have any views, and do you see yourself as an advocate for those kinds of issues, if indeed you do become a member of the commission?
Ms Paquette: Yes. As an active member of the gay and lesbian community, I am particularly interested in looking at harassment, the way harassment is not included in all the 15 grounds of discrimination. I think this particularly affects the lesbian and gay community in that I could not be fired overtly because I am a lesbian, but I could be harassed in my workplace because I am a lesbian. There were a number of other grounds which also do not extend to harassment, and I do think that for the Human Rights Code to be more just for all citizens of Ontario, it should also be extended to --
The Chair: What sorts of things do you see as harassment in the workplace for a lesbian?
Ms Paquette: Someone could call me a dyke all day long, and as long as that person was not my boss and did not fire me by saying that I am a lesbian, that would be my day-to-day reality, and that is not just.
The Chair: If I was working with someone and he or she was calling me a jerk all day long, would you see some sort of differentiation there, simply because it is sexual orientation versus perhaps my IQ?
Ms Paquette: I think we have to look at the whole educational aspect of this. I think a lot of racism and sexism and homophobia passes as humour in the workplace, and I hope that nobody would treat you as a jerk. Whether or not this would be called harassment within the Human Rights Code, it probably would not, unless maybe you were a black person and you were the only one consistently called a jerk and no one else of similar ability and intelligence was.
The Chair: I think it would be a difficult area to define.
Ms Paquette: Yes.
The Chair: As you know, the government recently extended benefits to what are termed same-sex couples, and I know there is a complaint before the commission which has received a fair amount of media attention recently with respect to, I think it is, basically the same sort of issue in the private sector. I am wondering if you have a view on that sort of thing. Do you think those sorts of benefits should be extended generally in those kinds of relationships, if you will; recognized for the extension of benefits?
Ms Paquette: I think in an enlightened society we try to recognize all of the forms, that people form communities and form bonds and love one another, and if one of those ways to recognize that there are different ways of loving is to extend coverage to same-sex partners, I think that is as valid as for people to recognize that they might have responsibility for children who are not their biological children or for grandchildren who are not their biological grandchildren. It is part of a vision of society that says we want to promote and sustain that people love one another, not that they hate one another.
The Chair: Would you extend that to the point where, from the point of view of personal belief, I guess, you think that, for example, the Marriage Act or whatever other provincial legislation would have to be amended or dramatically altered to legally recognize marriages of same-sex couples?
Ms Paquette: I think there has to be a lot of discussion, within both the gay and lesbian community and the community at large, because there is not any consensus among heterosexuals about what is adequately covered or not covered in the marriage law. There are a lot of common-law couples who may wish or not wish to have their relationship recognized. The same reality holds true for gays and lesbians. Some of us want to have the possibility of having our relationships legally recognized and others are like common-law heterosexual couples. Again, allowing the diversity and not eliminating recognizing any particular form of relationship is part of a view of society that I adhere to.
The Chair: I guess I am not clear. I do not want to give myself any more time than I give other members, but things like the Family Law Act, for example, where a separation or a divorce occurs -- and there are requirements under that law in respect to compensation, etc -- I am wondering if you feel, as an individual, that those sorts of things should apply equally to couples of the same sex who recognize their relationship as a marriage.
Ms Paquette: To those gay and lesbian couples who seek to have those rights and responsibilities, because it is a two-sided possibility, yes, for those who seek it.
Mr Silipo: I want to go back to a question I raised earlier with one of the other nominees. You may have been in the room and heard or not, I am not sure, but it was the issue of the large percentage, relative to the other grounds, the large number of complaints received by the commission over the last three years, 44% in 1989-90, dealing with questions of handicap. Again, if you have any general reaction about why that may be the case, I would appreciate hearing it.
Ms Paquette: I am an adult educator, and I would be interested to know whether or not the number of complaints from within that community comes because the code is getting better known within that community. For instance, at the moment there are only 2% of cases that come before the commission that are on the basis of sexual orientation. Is it because the code is not known in my community, or is it because the complaint process forces people to have their name go through the system and therefore to come out to say that they are gay or lesbian? There is probably a number of reasons why it is that percentage in the disabled community and much less in my own community. I am interested in finding out.
Mr Curling: I too want to applaud you and congratulate you for being selected -- although the minister feels otherwise, that you have been appointed already -- to come before us. I would like to ask you one or two questions in the short time I have. What comes to mind is that there are three areas of policy that are always being mentioned: affirmative action, pay equity and employment equity. What constituents do you think those would serve mostly, or should serve?
Ms Paquette: I think all Ontario citizens deserve to have an equitable place both in the workplace and in society. I do not feel that there is any particular minority that would be better served. I know that my own minority is less served by those mechanisms because it requires coming out, the process I have just said. You cannot have a process based on coming forward and saying you are gay or lesbian in order to have any kind of justice. It really is more in creating a workplace where it becomes unacceptable to call anyone by a racist name or to call anybody a faggot. It is the creation of a workplace, a just environment, rather than asking for people to come forward and use legal or quasi-legal mechanisms.
Mr Curling: Would you say then, and you could correct me -- I stand to be corrected quite often, even in here -- that those three areas, employment equity, pay equity and affirmative action, really more serve the women or group of white women? Would you say that I am wrong, if the statistics -- one of the reasons I ask that is that Mr Silipo keeps asking about the statistics and the surprise, talking about sexual harassment, and the statistics are there. We can in society sometimes introduce policy, and somehow, when it is intended for all society to be served by it, a selected group is being served by that.
Ms Paquette: I would not conclude that white women are being served most by these mechanisms, just as I would not conclude that the Ontario Human Rights Commission is of better service to the disabled community because the disabled community is accessing the commission more. No, I would not agree with the statement that white women are served best.
Mr Curling: A recent report done by Frances Henry on the Toronto west office of the commission stated there is evidence of racial discrimination and low morale. It is fair to state, too, that it is not only in that office alone but widespread within the other offices of the commission. If it is recommended that a single review should be conducted for the entire commission, would you support that review?
Ms Paquette: I am not sure we need another review. l think we need to look at the problems within the commission and probably move to implementing some of the recommendations that have been made in these various review processes. Another wider review may or may not be warranted. My initial reaction is that it is probably not warranted, but I would need to look at it more and get to know it more.
Mr Curling: But they stated it should be done. In other words, they feel the Toronto west office is like that, and an entire review should be done. You are saying no, we should not have it. You do not feel --
Ms Paquette: It is my initial reaction. I am open to being convinced otherwise.
Mr Curling: Do you feel the minister's statement that you have already been appointed jeopardizes you in any way, that feeling you have already been accepted for the job puts us into a peculiar position in asking you certain questions so you can respond to certain questions in a different light? Do you feel that has in any way jeopardized that?
Ms Paquette: From the beginning I have been notified that I am an intended appointee. I do not feel I am a commissioner at this point. I do feel that in this process, I am at this point in a state of limbo about whether I will, in effect, be serving.
Mr Curling: The commission itself did not get an increase of funding in this year's budget to conduct its business. Would you be fighting and advocating for more funds for the commission, considering, as you are quite aware, the issues that are there, like the backlog and other great issues that have to be dealt with, which need money? Your colleague who came forth, Ms Endicott, stated very eloquently that efficiency is the first thing you must look at, but in the meantime I would say to you that it may need more money to put into the programs and address the backlog and other issues. Would you be fighting for more money for the commission?
Ms Paquette: I need more information before I form an opinion about that.
The Acting Chair (Mr Silipo): Ms Pharand, we will give you the opportunity, if you wish, to make some comments at the beginning.
Mme Pharand: Je voudrais demander si c'est possible de m'adresser à vous en français d'abord. Si vous voulez me poser une question en anglais, je peux répondre en anglais, mais je préférerais que vous me le disiez à l'avance.
Le Président suppléant: Vous pouvez certainement répondre en français si vous voulez. Il y a la traduction. If members could make use of the translation devices, it would be useful. Est-ce que vous voulez dire quelque chose en commençant ?
Mme Pharand: Non, j'attendrai les questions.
Le Président suppléant: Puisque le représentant du Parti conservateur n'est pas ici, on va passer au gouvernement. Est-ce qu'il y a des questions ? Are there questions from the government side?
Mr Waters: I would actually like to go down the line our temporary Chair went down. Do you see with the handicapped any reason for the 40 -- is it 40%?
The Acting Chair: Forty-four per cent, I believe it is.
Mr Waters: Of the complaints coming in being from handicapped. Do you see any --
Mme Pharand: Je crois qu'il y a énormément de progrès qui ont été faits du côté de l'éducation. La commission a quand même fait certains efforts. Récemment aussi, elle a publié un document traitant de toute la question des personnes handicapées et des recommandations faites à cet égard. Je crois que l'éducation, de pair avec le public qui devient de plus en plus conscient de ses droits à ce moment-là, a peut-être fait que les plaintes ont augmenté auprès de la commission.
Mr Waters: Also along the line I had asked earlier on of one of the previous people, do you feel that the commission should be more proactive, be out there doing more work within the community, before it ends up being complaints brought before the commission; trying to, I do not know, be a better part of everyday life in the community?
Mme Pharand: Je suis d'accord que c'est très important, d'abord pour les membres qui siègent à la commission d'être très actifs dans leur communauté au sein de tous les regroupements possibles. Il est bien évident qu'il est presque impossible pour une seule personne de faire cela. Aussi, il faut absolument commencer à mousser, si vous voulez, et à mettre une image, comme une personne l'a indiqué tantôt. Il faut qu'on sache que la commission existe, ce qu'elle fait et non pas seulement au niveau des étudiants à l'élémentaire et au secondaire. Il faut commencer aussi à éduquer tout le public en général.
À mon avis, de toute facon, il est primordial d'être présent et d'avoir aussi des structures en place qui font, possiblement au niveau collégial ou au niveau universitaire, qu'il y a des cours obligatoires, surtout quand on parle des droits de la personne. Parce que sans l'éducation, on ne réussira pas à faire avancer toute cette question.
Mr Waters: Can you give me any ideas on how you would go about doing this in rural Ontario? I find that Toronto or the big centres seem to have a lot of knowledge about the committee, but when you get into rural Ontario, it is almost as if it does not exist.
Mme Pharand: Je pense qu'au niveau des commissaires eux-mêmes, des personnes qui siègent à la commission, ils ont un rôle à jouer en ce sens, à savoir que, quand on reçoit une invitation, ce ne soit pas nécessairement toujours les membres du personnel -- si c'est possible, d'accord -- mais aussi que les personnes qui siègent à la commission puissent avoir la chance de se déplacer avec l'appui, naturellement, du personnel pour pouvoir aller se rencontrer.
Naturellement encore, si on veut parler de budgets, ça peut demander un peu plus d'argent dans les régions isolées, tel le nord de l'Ontario. Par contre, la commission ainsi que tous les employés et les membres ont un rôle à jouer, à promulguer, à promouvoir, et également celui d'aller chercher des personnes qui travaillent non seulement pour faire avancer une cause en particulier, mais qui travaillent dans leur communauté de façon générale et qui ont souvent un certain pouvoir auprès de leur communauté distincte, que ce soit la communauté francophone ou d'autres groupes.
Mr Curling: I want to congratulate you on the selection of being a nominee to the commission. Are you familiar with the commission's guidelines for dealing with complaints in cases of racial discrimination and sexual harassment?
Mme Pharand: J'ai eu la chance de feuilleter le rapport annuel 1989-90, certaines des recommandations, des rapports des différentes unités. Par contre, pour vous dire de façon très précise, non.
Mr Curling: Mr Silipo in his role as a member of the committee and not as Chair asked a couple of questions, citing some observations about the 44% of complaints that were received on handicaps. I looked at the race, colour and ethnic origin complaints and there are roughly 17%. I may be in a sort of way answering but asking too. It seems to me there are specific guidelines about discrimination because of handicap and what is included in a handicap. As you said, it could be education that has caused an awareness that may have caused the amount of complaints that come forward. You further stated that more education may be the other area, at least that is what I understood you to have said. There is a tremendous amount of education and sensitization about discrimination in regard to race and ethnic origin. Do you feel more education is needed or more legislation is needed in order to raise that awareness?
Mme Pharand: Avant qu'on essaie de promulguer d'autres lois et d'autres arrêtés etc, je crois que oui, c'est important d'éduquer. Mais davantage il faut comprendre les différents groupes. Je prends mon exemple comme personne francophone, femme vivant dans le nord de l'Ontario.
Quand une personne minoritaire reçoit certains services, et je dis bien certains services, elle ne peut pas se permettre de critiquer. C'est très difficile pour une personne dans un milieu minoritaire de critiquer, de vous demander plus, parce qu'on se dit toujours, «On nous a donné un peu, alors profitons-en, n'allons pas branler les choses, n'allons pas créer des difficultés». En tant que minoritaire, on a un certain vécu et une certaine expérience. C'est presque appris qu'il ne faut pas branler les choses, qu'il ne faut pas demander trop parce qu'à ce moment-là on risque de se faire taper sur les doigts.
Je crois que c'est davantage encore toute une question d'éducation. Il faut connaître les communautés à qui on s'adresse, il faut aller vraiment s'informer quels sont leurs besoins particuliers, parce qu'à ce moment-là, une fois qu'on aura connu les différents groupes, que ce soit sur la question de la race, la question du sexe, des groupes multiculturels, ethniques, de la langue etc, ils ont des besoins distincts. C'est bien facile de dire oui, on a une loi, mais cette loi n'adresse pas du tout les besoins. On reste encore avec le problème.
Mr Curling: The morale of the commission from time to time has been rated at all different levels. What is your rating of the morale of the commission now?
Ms Pharand: I really have no idea. I am choosing to answer you in English just to show that I can go back and forth. I think a lot of things have apparently have been done from my reading of reports and so on. But I also feel that it is very important to have an interaction with your employees or with people working in any business and what have you. I feel that if you can satisfy your staff, if you can give them an environment they are happy to work in, where they feel that their concerns, their ideas are being listened to, then those same people will give you in return 100% and 150% and more. Perhaps the question of morale, because of having offices in a lot of different cities and so on, it might be difficult to address all that, to be present also. There are certainly different ways that the morale can be addressed. Perhaps the commission has done so now. I am not really knowledgeable in that respect at the moment.
The Acting Chair: One more question, Mr Curling.
Mr Curling: Thank you, Mr Chairman. May I take it from your response that the morale of the commission has been damaged because of -- in other words the morale was and maybe is pretty low in the commission? Would you say, then, that an overall review of the commission is necessary, just basing it on the report that was done by Frances Henry in the Toronto west office and saying that it is not only at the Toronto west office but it is quite possible that it exists overall in the commission? Would you say that a review should be done now so that we know who we are dealing with and that all our people within the commission are happy and understand the problems that they are facing?
Mme Pharand: Je crois qu'à la lumière des difficultés qui existent en ce moment dans un des bureaux ce n'est pas mauvais, mais sûrement il faut avoir un processus où on peut vraiment aller s'informer, savoir exactement quel est le problème dans ce bureau, vérifier si la situation est pareille à d'autres endroits et s'il y a aussi des bureaux où ça va très bien, peut-être à ce moment-là mettre en commun les choses qui se font de façon adéquate où les gens semblent bien fonctionner ensemble pour ensuite essayer de régler les problèmes dans les autres centres.
Après les lectures que j'ai faites, je crois aussi que des jours il y a des choses qui ont été faites à ce niveau, des recommandations, des procédés pour essayer de remédier à la situation, mais pour vous en parler concrètement je n'ai pas plus de détails.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr Curling. We do have a few minutes left. Mr Jordan, any questions?
Mr Jordan: Since I have not been here for the previous questioning, I guess my basic question is that a general overview from this morning was that the human rights commission is seen as being something over there, instead of really something that is part of the workplace. Do you see that management and labour combined have, over the years, developed great on-the-job safety programs? On the human rights thing, perhaps it is time there was more of this type of education relative to the workplace, before some incident takes place that is not a planned incident and it is embarrassing to everybody.
Mme Pharand: Je crois l'avoir indiqué un peu plus tôt en répondant à une des questions. Oui, c'est très important, la Commission des droits de la personne. Autant les employés et le personnel que les membres de la commission elle-même ont un devoir très important d'être présents au niveau des conseils d'administration, des regroupements dans les différentes communautés, que ce soit un syndicat ou autre. Il faut s'assurer qu'avant même que les problèmes existent, bien qu'il en existe plusieurs en ce moment, avant que ça avance trop, qu'on ait la chance d'adresser le problème, d'en discuter et de promulguer certains critères pour tenter d'éviter des situations difficiles plus tard.
Mr Jordan: Actually, at time of employment or time of interview for a position with a company, would you feel that would be an appropriate time to make it known, not just as a condition of employment but with some samples and some examples of what is in fact considered harassment, whether it be racial, sexual or whatever in the workplace? In my experience, people have put themselves in awkward positions unknowingly.
Mme Pharand: Je crois qu'il ne faut pas nécessairement le faire à l'entrevue comme tel. Par contre, il faut que l'entrevue soit pendant la période d'entraînement, si vous voulez, ou à un moment donné avant que l'employé soit confirmé dans son poste, absolument. Que ce soit dans l'entremise d'un cours donné par la commission ou par des membres du bureau de la Commission de droits de la personne dans le milieu, ou des jeunes politiques établiés au sein de l'institution, je crois que cela aiderait à éviter des problèmes.
Mr Jordan: Thank you very much.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr Jordan and merci, Madame Pharand. Le comité prendra sa decision la semaine prochaine à notre prochaine réunion.
Just as Mr Runciman indicated earlier, the committee will be dealing with all the nominees that we are interviewing today at our meeting next week in terms of making a decision and recommendation to the Legislature.
We have two further appointees to review. The next two deal with the Ontario Special Education Tribunal.
KENNETH J. WEBER
The Chair: The first is Ken Weber, the intended appointee as Chair of the Ontario Special Education Tribunal (English).
The time allotment for this item is half an hour. I realize the fact that we are late and we are going beyond the normal time is causing some problems both for members of the committee and possibly for the people who are coming before us. We apologize for that, but we will try to do our best.
I could start perhaps, Mr Weber, with a couple of questions, since I was responsible for selecting you to come before the committee.
One of the issues in the whole area of special education and particularly in terms of the role of the tribunals is, it seems to me, how you sort of balance the need, on the one hand, to keep the process as informal as possible so that it does not become cumbersome and threatening to people who are appearing, at the same time that you have the procedures set out in such a way that it offers some reasonable safeguards to people who are coming before the tribunal or through one of the regional tribunals that is established. Can you comment on how that balance should be drawn and what kinds of things a tribunal, in your view, is doing or should be doing to ensure that?
Mr Weber: My experience as a member of tribunals since 1985 is that, as they function, we tend as tribunal members to perhaps go overboard on behalf of the appellants, who are the parents, simply to make them more comfortable and so that they realize that the purpose of the tribunal is the best interests of their child. That needs to be the case because the board, being the respondent, can usually marshal resources, if only in number, at the tribunal hearing.
My experience has been therefore that parents do feel they are being fairly treated during the process. By the same token, there is the reality that the tribunal functions by the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act and as a consequence must follow certain operational principles. That is my response in terms of your question legally.
The legislation does not allow for -- that is not a fair way to put it -- it is not specific in the legislation that a tribunal or even the appeal board process, which is one level before the tribunal, should attempt a kind of facilitation. I do not like to use the word "mediation," because it implies a confrontation. I like to use the word "facilitation," although all of the tribunals on which I have sat have made some kind of attempt -- and in fact two of them are in almost a state of permanent adjournment because we have been able to at that point bring the parents and the board together to achieve a resolution over the disposition of a child.
I think the tribunal process has been very fair in terms of what it has done for parents and boards, and of course ultimately for the child.
The Acting Chair: Are there other questions from the government side? Mr Waters?
Mr Waters: One of the concerns I have is that once again, with the appeals and the tribunal, from what I can understand it is becoming very legalistic, and I have a problem where I do not see the need for it to be that. I would like your comments actually as to whether you feel it could ever be changed back so that the average person could go in there and be comfortable.
Mr Weber: That is exactly a word I have used, Mr Waters, that it does encourage legalism. It is a concern that I have and I understand exactly what you are driving at. By the same token, the existence of the legislation makes it a protection for all parents and children. Without it, it is entirely possible that knowing and unknowing harm could be done. At least it is there as a backup procedure, because the legalism that would become involved would be even worse. We certainly experienced it before the legislation was passed in that when parents are not satisfied with the procedure, they tend to turn to the civil court, which invokes a great deal more legalism than exists under the tribunal process or under the appeal process set up by what we have come to know as Bill 82. Certainly we are all concerned about the legalism, but I think it is safer with this degree of legalism than we had before, or that would result if parents turn to the civil courts.
If I may come back to my comment made to Mr Silipo, though, it certainly would be better if we could achieve facilitation between parents and school boards, if there were an easier way to achieve that. We are evolving that, because I have been involved in a number of situations where boards and parents independently have asked me to sit as a facilitator between the two. I think we are evolving in that direction.
Mr Waters: I am quite glad to hear we are evolving in that direction. I will pass on to anyone else.
The Chair: It is pretty much the time, or is it? Sorry, it is a 10-minute review. Pardon me, I am coming in in the middle of this. Mr Hayes, you have another five minutes.
Mr Hayes: There is a lot of talk, discussion and study dealing with some students in vocational schools, for example, and of course there is a lot of talk about integrating them into the mainstream type of thing. I would like to hear your opinion and your feelings on that particular subject of integration.
Mr Weber: It is a large issue, Mr Hayes, and I promise to be brief, because that is where much of my research lies and I could probably go on for ever.
There is no question that it is a desirable issue to mainstream all students, at least on the surface. Research evidence does not support the emotional feeling one gets that stands behind the proposal to integrate all students in that sense. The research evidence suggests that academically these students tend to perform -- in fact, just this morning I put together one of my own pieces, which is at this stage incomplete, that again reinforces the notion that academically the students do tend to do somewhat better in ability grouping stages than they do when they are integrated. The fault could lie elsewhere, though. It might not necessarily be the fault of the children; it could be just because we are not prepared to instruct them in a mainstream situation. It may well be academic, though, by 1992, because that is when the destreaming begins at grade 9.
Mrs Haslam: Although I look at special needs as covering many areas and not just looking at a particular handicap, I think special needs encompasses many different things. I was just interested in his comments because I do not agree with the streaming. I prefer to see children have an opportunity to attend a mainstreaming type of education, because I think that is beneficial. However, that is a comment I would like to make, that I was interested in your research because it is not my feeling for the education system right now. But I will pass a question, Mr Chair.
The Chair: Mr Curling, do you have any questions?
Mr Curling: May I just ask Mr Weber one question? Have you had experience at how teachers really deal with special needs within the normal system? Do you have any experience at all of how this is done? Because you are asking that the special-needs students will be a part of the everyday structure.
Mr Weber: You are asking if I have personal experience with this, Mr Curling?
Mr Curling: Yes.
Mr Weber: Yes, I do. I actively work with children with special needs in a mainstream setting as part of my work at the University of Toronto. Have I answered your question? I am not sure.
Mr Curling: Yes, you have. I do not have very many questions to ask you because the material just came to me a minute ago anyhow.
The Chair: Mr Jordan, do you have any questions for Mr Weber?
Mr Jordan: To what degree are you in favour of promoting the integration of special ed with regular classrooms?
Mr Weber: In principle, I am in favour of it, and in the best of all worlds we would achieve it on a 100% basis. In practice, the experience is that it does not work absolutely on a 100% basis from all perspectives: the children with special needs, those without, the teachers, the parents; everyone. I think that my philosophical attitude is that it should be an objective towards which we all work but which we do not impose on an arbitrary blanket basis. If we truly believe in working in the best interests of every child, which I think is what the legislation certainly stands for and the reason we all work, then we will take every case on a by-case basis.
Mr Jordan: Excuse me, but who is "we" now?
Mr Weber: I would think "we" being legislators, teachers, parents; everyone.
Mr Jordan: So if I have a child who would normally be in special ed because of a handicap and I insisted that that child become part of the regular education stream, what authority would I have to say that in fact my child would go to the regular school?
Mr Weber: The likelihood is in 1991 your first approach would be to the principal of the school and the school would most likely agree with your wishes and the child would be placed in the mainstream with the rest. If the school disagreed, you would have the option, of course, of going next to the appeal board, which will either uphold the IPRC, or the school's committee, or uphold your opinion. If there is dissatisfaction at that level, it would come to tribunal for discussion, which is the appointment of mine that is being discussed here. The tribunal would then make a decision based on all the evidence, acting in the best interests of the child.
Mr Jordan: I do not know if it is in order, Mr Chair. I give as an example in my own riding, and my daughter-in-law happened to be the teacher who ended up with this student, one who has now been recognized across the North American continent for the progress made in the regular classroom because of the special ed teacher being placed there to deal with that person on a one-to-one basis, but it was only through a number of years of consistent pressure that the parents were able to get that student into that stream.
Mr Weber: I am sure that is the case, and it is probably a tribute to your daughter-in-law the teacher as well for making this kind of thing happen, as well as of course a tribute to the parents.
In the current climate, the current climate being today, 1991, the likelihood is that the parents you refer to would not have to struggle to the degree you indicate. The receptiveness of all schools and all boards towards, first of all, following parents' wishes and simultaneously following them in terms of integration is much greater than it was as little as four or five years ago -- as little as two years ago.
Mr McGuinty: Mr Weber, you have in the past been somewhat critical of faculties of education for failing to prepare teachers adequately for teaching their students. I wonder if you might indicate if you have any views on how well teachers deal with children with special needs.
Mr Weber: You mean vis-à-vis their professional preparation?
Mr McGuinty: Yes.
Mr Weber: There is probably very little preparation at all, because our system in Ontario generally is based on a one-year teacher preparation program. When you include all the traditional things in that program -- and tradition has a way of establishing itself with a great deal of permanence -- there is not a great deal of time left over to try and prepare those teachers for dealing with special-needs children. The fact that the teachers do an exceptionally good job with special-needs children is perhaps more of a tribute to their own personal ability and their will and their humanity and compassion than it is to the preparation they receive.
Mr McGuinty: Is there more we should be doing?
Mr Weber: Certainly there should be more opportunity to prepare the students, and I just do not think it is possible to do it in a one-year program -- in a one-year university-year program, too, which is, in effect, seven and a half to eight months.
Mr McGuinty: I am not sure I understand it completely. What is the name for this one-year program you are referring to?
Mr Weber: It is the teacher preparation program that is most common in Ontario. There are a few small exceptions. My home base is the Institute of Child Study which is a two-year program, and we are able to achieve things that could not be dreamed of in a one-year program. York University has a pre-service program, but the-vast majority of faculties of education at the universities in Ontario which have them, and I believe there are 10, have a one-year program, which is a post-degree program. You have a degree first and you apply to get in, and then you have a one-year teacher preparation program which grants you a certificate if you are successful, as most students are.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Weber. I appreciate your appearance here today. We will be in touch with you next week.
Mr Weber: Thank you.
The Chair: The final witness to appear before us today is Colombe Daigneault. Would you like to come forward, please.
Mrs Daigneault is the intended appointee as the chair for the French tribunal of the Ontario Special Education Tribunal. Welcome to the committee.
We appreciate your appearance here. Would you like to make any brief comments before we open it up for questions?
Mrs Daigneault: No. This is a first for me, to appear before a board to obtain an appointment, actually. I have been appointed on the board for the last four or five years without even appearing anywhere, just getting a letter, "You have been appointed," and I did not know there was such a thing.
In any event, I have had the occasion to sit on three different cases through the years, two in Ottawa, I believe, and one in Toronto, and I have enjoyed the experience, but I am not an expert.
The Chair: Thank you. We will begin the questioning with Mr Silipo.
M. Silipo: Bienvenue, madame. En tant que personne responsable, dans un certain sens, par votre présence ici, je voudrais commencer par ce que vous venez de dire. Votre expérience semblerait, à regarder votre curriculum vitae, limitée dans un certain sens. Mais évidemment aussi, vous avez de différentes expériences comme enseignante et maintenant comme avocate. Qu'est-ce que vous apporteriez au tribunal qui serait, de façon particulière, basé sur votre expérience ?
Mme Daigneault: Ce que j'apporterais, ce serait peut-être un jugement basé sur les faits qui me seraient présentés par les divers témoins. Je pense que chaque cas demeure sur ces faits; il faut juger chaque cas séparément selon les circonstances et les faits pour déterminer le résultat.
En tant qu'enseignante, j'étais bien préoccupée de l'élève doué et de l'élève sous-doué. Je veux que chacun puisse développer son potentiel au maximum, que ce soit un enfant sous-doué ou surdoué. Je ne crois pas à une dépense d'énergie pour rien. Il faut que l'enfant s'améliore.
M. Silipo: Selon vous, sur la question d'intégration, quels devraient être les critères selon lesquels on déciderait que c'est positif ou meilleur d'intégrer l'étudiant dans une classe régulière ou par contre de ne pas l'intégrer, par exemple? Quel serait le rôle du tribunal dans ce type de situation ?
Mme Daigneault: Le tribunal se doit de regarder tous les faits, toutes les pièces qui sont devant lui. Il y a les tests de psychiatres, de psychologues, académiques et les côtés social et émotif.
Il faut que l'enfant puisse avancer de tous les côtés: émotionnellement et sur les plans académique et social. Si le côté social de l'enfant est négligé, parce qu'il est dans un mainstream, qu'il est avec l'élève moyen et qu'il se referme sur lui-même parce qu'il a peur qu'on rit de lui parce qu'il a des connaissances au-delà du groupe dans lequel il travaille, alors à ce moment-là il y a quelque chose qui ne va pas. Il faut que l'enfant se développe, et qu'il soit, à mon avis, a wholesome child.
Il faut écouter les témoins puis regarder les pièces justificatives de divers professionnels et voir quel est le meilleur intérêt de l'enfant et comment cet enfant peut se développer pour faire de lui le meilleur citoyen possible dans la province et au Canada.
Mr Waters: Do you feel there is enough training of teachers for children with special needs?
Mme Daigneault: I am not really up to date on the most recent training afforded to the teachers. I can only tell from my daughter who is involved in secondary teaching and who is involved with Douance, with the exceptional child now, and from my own experience, when I had one child who really needed extra help and was very brilliant, and I attributed the deficit to the poor training of the teacher who had initiated her in reading. Fortunately I had been involved in education and I did find a remedy, but I think lots has to be done in special ed now.
On what kind of training, I am not versed in the latest courses offered for teachers. I do not know what is done at the university level except that there is summer school and there is university training, as I heard Mr Weber say. But I think there should be a committee studying the needs of the exceptional child and whether we give more to the teachers in training.
I have been involved in the last year with this committee which we hope to call Douance-Ontario; I am trying incorporate the association under the name Douance-Ontario. We would be dealing with the exceptional child. The rules and regulations are done, we have our committee. All we need is a name for the corporation, for the non-profit organization, and it appears we will have difficulty with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations because the name Douance-Ontario is just too vague and not descriptive enough, though I have given them translations.
We are in the process of preparing a recommendation to make sure they accept it, because it is at the provincial level and we do not meet that often -- we have people from all over Ontario. So we are hoping to have the ministry accept the name Douance-Ontario, and then have the pupils, the teachers, the administration, the school boards involved. We are divided in four different areas, Ontario north, south, east and west. We surely count on the co-operation of the ministry to put that into action within the next couple of months because we are ready. I do not know if I answered your question, but --
Mr Waters: I think you did.
Mrs Daigneault: This group is for French-speaking people, actually. I would trust that maybe there is a similar organization on the English side. Maybe we are copying or we are just behind a little bit, but I would hope that this group would certainly ensure that the teachers' training is improved. They will look into it, anyway.
The Chair: Mr Wiseman, you have got about three minutes.
Mr Wiseman: Thank you. It will not take that long.
One of the questions that comes to mind is that in my previous life I was a high school teacher and the integration of exceptional children into the classroom is not an easy thing. We have already alluded to the fact that teachers need special training and special skills in order to handle it properly, which I would hazard to say most do not have. It is going to take an awful lot of time to retrain the population of teachers to be able to handle that.
There is another part of the equation that could be a problem and that is the exceptional child in the classroom itself and the dynamics that that creates with the interpersonal relationships that exist there and the teacher-pupil relationships that will exist there. It is very difficult with a large number of students in a class for teachers to give as much as they would like to the needs of each student. I am just curious if you have given any thought to what kind of pupil-teacher ratio might work or might not work and how you would see this kind of integration taking place.
Mrs Daigneault: Teacher ratio: First of all, it is expensive also. It is not easy and it is expensive. Teacher ratio? I think a lot has to do with the way the teacher deals with the class. I think you can use, and I did in my days of teaching, the students to help other students because I find students learn a lot from other students. They learn faster from their colleagues than they learn from teachers, and I have used it in teaching French to English-speaking pupils. A lot has to do with the teacher.
A handicapped child or an exceptional child or an enriched child has certain needs which colleagues cannot offer, like washrooms or moving from one desk to another, and the responsibility is too great for colleagues to handle. Then there is the teacher aide. I suggest for the basic physical needs, it is a teacher aide who would be the solution. Teacher ratio, it is hard to tell, but I really think a lot has to do with the basic way that the administration deals with it. I have seen a handicapped child being integrated with her friends in my daughter's days. Everybody pitched in. She was part of their social life and she did not feel handicapped at all. Everybody had a responsibility for that child.
The teacher who goes for special ed has to be a special teacher, as Mr Weber said. I think teachers who are special ed teachers now are relying more on their inherent aptitude, their capability, than on the academic training they did get from universities. Teacher ratio -- if they are integrated in a regular stream of, say, 30 students, it is hard to tell. I think there should be a teacher aide for each two or three handicapped children in each classroom. It is hard to tell.
Mr Wiseman: Like you say, that will not come cheap.
Mrs Daigneault: No, but it depends on how many handicapped children you would have in a classroom. I think there would not be more than two or three in a classroom at the most, but it is not really my field at this time.
The Chair: I will have to jump in here, Mrs Daigneault, because of the time limit. We are going to ask Mr McGuinty now to proceed with questioning.
M. McGuinty: Bonjour, Madame Daigneault, ça me fait plaisir de vous souhaiter la bienvenue à Toronto.
Mme Daigneault: Monsieur McGuinty est mon voisin et mon député de l'Assemblée législative.
M. McGuinty: Je devrais dire aux membres de notre comité que ça fait plusieurs années que je connais Madame Daigneault en tant qu'avocate. Elle est très bien respectée dans notre communauté non seulement comme avocate mais aussi comme bénévole.
Combien de temps est-ce que vous passez actuellement dans votre poste de présidente de ce qu'on appelle le «special education tribunal»?
Mme Daigneault: J'ai seulement travaillé sur le tribunal pour trois cas, dont l'un a été très court et l'autre exigeait deux ou trois jours de séances. Alors pendant une période de quatre ans, j'ai peut-être passé deux semaines, c'est-à-dire 75 heures au maximum. Nous avons rédigé un seul jugement. Les jugements, on n'y a pas fait appel.
M. McGuinty: Est-ce votre opinion qu'il est nécessaire d'avoir un avocat ou une avocate comme président du tribunal ?
Mme Daigneault: Pas nécessairement.
M. McGuinty: Est-ce que les parents et les élèves qui comparaissent devant vous ont avec eux des avocats ?
Mme Daigneault: Un cas en particulier était très bien préparé par le père, et il faisait ça aussi bien qu'un avocat, peut-être mieux. Il était très bien préparé et très connaissant de son cas. Bien souvent le parent très impliqué ne serait pas représenté mais le conseil scolaire est représenté par un ou deux avocats dans chaque cas.
M. McGuinty: Le docteur Shapiro, l'ancien sousministre de l'Éducation, avait critiqué un peu le procès en disant:
"I understand how it might be intimidating in some sense. And here we find ourselves caught by two opposing kinds of forces. One is the one that says: `Let's try to humanize the process, bring it down to an appropriate scale so that the parents feel that this is a real interaction.' On the other hand there is another force, and that is that since people are very concerned, and legitimately concerned, with their own rights in the process, the need for formality increases with a number of lawsuits which we face in those instances where it was not carefully observed, so we have this kind of tension that exists. How do you bring it down to a more human interaction and, at the same time, how do you stage it in such a way that when a court examines it, it stands up to reasonable canons of natural justice?" Est-ce que vous pouvez commenter ça?
Mme Daigneault: Ça me rappelle une cour d'équité. Si vous allez comparaître devant un juge, par exemple, de cour de petites créances, le juge de petites créances est peut-être plus sympathique au client qui se représente lui-même que le client qui est représenté par un avocat. Lorsqu'on voit un parent qui présente son propre cas, je crois qu'on s'assure que ses droits sont respectés; on est sympathique à son cas. Alors votre question, vous me demandez de commenter...
M. McGuinty: Pensez-vous que ce conflit existe ?
Mme Daigneault: Non, pas dans les cas où j'ai agi, absolument pas.
The Chair: Mr Jordan, do you have any questions?
Mr Jordan: No, I do not.
The Chair: Mrs Daigneault, thank you very much for your appearance before the committee. I think you are aware that we will be deliberating on your appointment next week. The Clerk's office or the Premier's office, I am not sure which, will be in touch with you following that.
Mrs Daigneault: Thank you.
Mr Curling: Mr Chairman, if I may, on a point of order: I noticed when we were interviewing some of the applicants coming before us that quite a few of the members are quite familiar or have relationships with the members brought before us. I just wondered if it would not be fair if they could not have substituted -- Mr Silipo, for instance, said to Mr Weber, "I am responsible for bringing you here," if I heard him right, when he came forward here. It would have been better if we had substituted --
Mr Silipo: I am sorry, I should perhaps clarify that particular point. I was responsible in the sense that the person was chosen by the government party to be here and I am the representative of the government party on the subcommittee. So that, Mr Curling, was the extent of that connection.
Mr Curling: That is clarification. Thank you.
The Chair: Okay, fine. Is there anything further? This has been a long haul. I appreciate your participation. We will adjourn the meeting.
The committee adjourned at 1256.