STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES ORGANISMES GOUVERNEMENTAUX
Tuesday 6 June 2017 Mardi 6 juin 2017
The committee met at 0904 in room 151.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Standing Committee on Government Agencies.
Before we begin, I would like to advise the committee that the nomination of the following intended appointee, who had been selected to appear before this committee, has been withdrawn: John Andrew McBride, nominated as vice-chair of the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal and the Board of Negotiation. This intended appointment will therefore not be considered by the committee.
Ms. Rita Westbrook
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Rita Westbrook, intended appointee as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We have a number of intended appointees this morning. Our first intended appointee that we will be hearing from is Rita Westbrook, nominated as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
Welcome. Thank you very much for being here this morning, Ms. Westbrook. Please come forward and take a seat at the table. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questioning.
You may begin.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m quite honoured to be here before you, and I really appreciate this opportunity to express my gratitude that you’d consider me for an appointment to the Waterloo Wellington LHIN’s board.
I did provide a brief bio on my application. I appreciate the opportunity right now to expand on that.
As stated, I was originally from Hamilton, Ontario. I moved to the region of Waterloo in March 1975, when I was hired by the Waterloo Regional Police. I was one of the first six women hired by the police service. Certainly, that created a monumental shift in the culture of policing, when women joined the ranks. It was an interesting time.
I worked in a variety of capacities as a police officer. I started off as a patrol officer. After a number of years, I went into investigations as a detective. I then was promoted to a sergeant on patrol, a staff sergeant on patrol. A couple of years after that, I was an inspector of a division and superintendent at two uniform divisions. My final posting was the commander of investigative services out of headquarters in Cambridge.
What I found was that the most important aspect of policing certainly was—I mean, you enforce the law and you involve yourself with the community, but it’s that you remain impartial, understanding human nature and understanding how to police a community and the needs of the people in that community. I think those are the most important things I got from it.
I did retire in 2010 as the superintendent of criminal investigations.
I was married to my husband, John, in 1982. He was also a superintendent of the Waterloo Regional Police, and he retired in 1994. Sadly, he passed away 12 days ago.
My education: I’m a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University. I have a BA in sociology. I’m a graduate of the FBI National Academy. That occurred in 2001. The interesting part about that was, that course started two weeks after 9/11, so it made for a very interesting time in Washington, DC, and Quantico, Virginia. I’m also a graduate of Conestoga College with a criminal law diploma.
All of my education, with the exception of the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia, was completed on a part-time-studies program, and it took me almost 10 years to get my degree. But I was employed full-time when I was doing that—along with my husband, who was doing that with me as well. I really learned to remain focused, organized and very diligent in doing things. When you’re working full-time, and particularly when you are working shift work, you certainly have to organize your time very well. I learned those skills at a very early time in my career.
As far as volunteer work, I just actually resigned from the Cambridge Memorial Hospital board of directors. I had an opportunity to become a board member in 2011. I was appointed as chair in 2014 for a two-year term. Much of the focus for me at that particular time, although running the board as well, was certainly the capital redevelopment of our hospital and all the issues that surrounded that, while ensuring that the hospital remained within its budgetary limits and providing exceptional care to the people of Cambridge. I gained a deeper knowledge of the workings of the hospital, and I volunteered on numerous committees. I was on the quality committee for five years, the governance committee for six years, and was chair of the executive committee for two years, and, as chair, was ex officio on all the other committees as well.
Being very involved with the board and all those committees, I certainly learned a great deal about the intricacies of the hospital. In many ways, it’s not dissimilar to policing. The hierarchy and the administrative issues were very much like policing, I discovered. It gave me a very clear understanding of being in a large organization and all the issues that certainly arise from that.
Some of my other volunteer work: I was at the Child Witness Centre; I was the chair for about three years of the eight years I was there. The United Way of Cambridge board of directors: I was also the campaign chair. Ontario Women in Law Enforcement: I chaired the nominations committee for five years. I was on many committees with the cities of Cambridge and Kitchener.
I’m also a Rotarian. Volunteer work there has included travelling to Uttar Pradesh, India, on two occasions to inoculate children for polio; also the inoculation against polio for children in Burkina Faso and Togolese in Africa. I went to Tanzania a few years ago and installed malaria nets. I’ve done about 10 humanitarian trips to the Dominican, where we built schools, medical centres and homes. Shortly after my retirement, I volunteered to work at a medical centre in the Dominican Republic for about three months. I also spent five weeks in Mexico—Baja California—as the leader of a group study exchange that was sponsored by Rotary. I’m a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Volunteerism has always been an important part of my life, and I believe that volunteering demonstrates a commitment to your community and a willingness to work for the betterment of others. But more than likely I’ve gained much more than I’ve given. I’ve made connections with people from all around the world, and I’ve maintained those connections. Certainly, it’s just a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Westbrook. We’ll now begin questioning with the official opposition. Mr. Walker.
Mr. Bill Walker: Welcome. Thank you very much.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Thank you.
Mr. Bill Walker: One of the things from my perspective is that a lot of people from my region come to the Waterloo region particularly for cardiac needs. I think your hospitals are relatively in the older stages of many hospitals in the province. What do you believe the state of those is and what are you looking for in the future?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: St. Mary’s certainly is the cardiac centre for Waterloo region and it has a very good reputation. I know Don Shilton quite well because of sitting on the board; I had that opportunity to meet him. With the increase in the population that’s coming to Waterloo region plus the aging of the population, that unfortunately goes a little bit with the cardiac issues. Certainly that’s something that needs to have some very thorough discussion, with regard to increasing that—and that is a specialist hospital in cardiac.
Mr. Bill Walker: What do you see as the major challenges facing the LHIN?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Most recently, with the disbanding of the CCAC, I think that’s going to be an interesting challenge in the very near future. Fiscal challenges are always going to be there, certainly; the aging population and demographics; the complex health care needs that people have; and I think some of the IT challenges that are there.
I know one of the things we spoke of at Cambridge, along with Grand River and St. Mary’s, was the IT challenges that we have. In our discussions on that particular committee, technology was something that was certainly brought up by the CEOs—getting the LHINs involved in that and having their support with respect to moving forward on that. I think that’s very important.
Mr. Bill Walker: And why specific to the LHIN—there are lots of volunteer opportunities; what compels you to be on the LHIN?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Being on the hospital board, actually, I was asked by Joan Fisk, who is the chair of the Waterloo Wellington LHIN. That was about a year and a half ago. She asked me if I would consider the LHIN back then, and I said I wanted to complete my tenure with the Cambridge Memorial Hospital board. I did make a commitment for that period of time, and I said I wanted to finish that and that I would consider it. I put an application in, I think, in December.
Mr. Bill Walker: I apologize; I may have this wrong. I’ve read a lot of stuff. You live in Hamilton now?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: No, I’m from Hamilton. I live in Cambridge.
Mr. Bill Walker: Because I was thinking that’s a lot of hiking back and forth—so that’s an interesting one.
If you had one change you could make to the LHIN, what would it be?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: That’s an interesting question. I think probably one change I’d like to see, and I remember saying this to Bruce Lauckner, is having more ability to stick with some of the proposals that are coming out of the Ministry of Health—staying with them and moving forward with them and having that authority to do that. I think that was the frustration that was felt by certainly the CEOs at the hospitals and the board chairs: the constant changing that was going on—or at least it seemed that way. Letting the LHINs have the ability to ensure that we knew what our budget was going to be prior to passing our budget, or shortly thereafter—it just seemed to take such a long time. I remember having discussions with Bruce Lauckner about that as well—so having a greater ability for the LHINs to say, “These are the things that you can have,” and being able to have that authority from the ministry to do that.
Mr. Bill Walker: I thought you might say “Mr. Lauckner.” He and I have lots of history together. We used to work together in Wiarton.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Oh, wonderful.
Mr. Bill Walker: Say hello to him for me.
I guess my final question would be: Adding more bodies, another whole organization, under there—the government structures get fairly large. Do you have any concern with regard to that as opposed to, really, the focus on front-line care?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: With regard to the CCAC, you mean?
Mr. Bill Walker: Rolling them in—and how big the organization is getting. One of the things we certainly hear is a lot more focus on people and paper and shuffling and positions, as opposed to: What is this really going to do for my front-line care? We welcome your opinion on that.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: I think it’s very, very important that the front-line care remains seamless.
In fact, as I mentioned, my husband was very sick. I had CCAC care coming in, and I did speak to them about it. They said they didn’t notice a change. That’s very, very important. So when you make huge structural changes like that, it’s important that that front line continues.
What needs to be done is that there needs to be some very good leadership there. Make the proper decisions. Change, if it’s required, but if you make the right decision you don’t need to change that. You ensure that your focus is always on people getting the care that they require.
The rest of it: Just let it not be seen by the front-line people. I know, from policing, there were a lot of things that we did that we had a lot of discussion about, but the focus was on making sure that the community was policed the way it should be.
Mr. Bill Walker: It’s interesting. From your policing background, I trust you had seen the standardization of all police services relatively consistent and good and a positive. Do you see the same with LHINs? Do you think they should be standardized or do you think they should be flexible according to their geography and their needs?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Actually both, sir. There needs to have some standardization so that you do have that foundation. But, yes, there is going to have to be a lot of flexibility. If the LHIN is in northern Ontario, it’s going to be completely different than it is in Toronto or than it is in Cambridge—but to certainly have that flexibility. If you have a foundation there, you could never go wrong with flexibility.
Mr. Bill Walker: What about your boundaries? In my case, your LHIN covers the very bottom tip of my riding. We sometimes get into these things where, “You’re in this LHIN but really the service should be here for mine.” I get, again, that there are realities of why you have boundaries, but are you willing to take a look at those types of things where it’s best for the patient—to get administration out of the way and get the service for them?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Absolutely. Quite honestly, I give a parallel to that to have a fire department where there’s a fire over here but the township doesn’t respond to it. You know what I mean?
Mr. Bill Walker: Right.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: You always have to look at the main goal. The focus and the mission is that you’re there to help people. Whatever way that’s done, do it properly and not have the machinations carry on that you can’t do this or you can’t do that. Get rid of that sort of stuff and use some common sense.
Mr. Bill Walker: Right. Okay, thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Walker. We’ll now pass the questioning over to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good morning, Rita. How are you?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: I’m well, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I called you Rita because that’s my wife’s name, so it’s easy for me to remember—
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Wonderful. Yes, very good.
Mr. Wayne Gates: —certainly this morning, seeing as I already talked to her.
I’m not treating you any differently from how I treat anybody else who comes here. Have you ever donated to any political party in Canada or Ontario?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Who would that have been?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: I donated to the Liberal Party many, many years ago. I donated to the Conservative Party recently, federally, and to the Conservative Party of Ontario.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. One thing that I think is important to start with is that we’ve had a lot of discussions down in Niagara about women in positions of leadership. Our police services board doesn’t have any women on it. With your background, do you think it’s about time that we start appointing more women to the boards, not only as chiefs but certainly as board members?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: That goes without saying; absolutely. Women have been in policing for long enough and have been in the community long enough—and have those skills—that I don’t know why it hasn’t happened.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I agree with you, and that’s why I thought that I would like to get it on Hansard so maybe some people will read it and start appointing more women to the police services boards, because I think it’s time.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: With Waterloo Regional Police Services Board, I recall, every year there is at least two to three women on that board. I think it’s that way again. It’s very rare that it doesn’t have women on it.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, thank you very much.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: All right.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I understand that you have extensive experience in policing in the Waterloo police service.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: With this unique experience, could you discuss with us, in your opinion, why you want to seek this appointment?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Why I want to seek the appointment on the LHIN.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Not only with the experience on the police scene, but my experience on the hospital board—
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s my next question.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Okay; I can combine them. What I noticed when I got on the hospital board was the parallels and how similar they were. You might call one person a CEO and the other one a chief, and another one a deputy chief and the other one a vice-president, but the structure of it was the same. People being people, the issues were very, very similar. We had a lot of discussion about budget, of course, and overtime issues. Those particular things, I could relate very easily to.
Granted, the LHIN’s board is going to be a little bit different, because this is a little bit more hands-on, in that sense. But having that understanding of organizations, and large organizations, and now that the LHIN is taking on the CCAC, that experience, the human relations experience and the human resources experiences that I have—we always need expertise in that, because that changes all the time—I will certainly bring that to the board as well, along with other things.
Mr. Wayne Gates: As you’ve already noted, you have experience on the Cambridge Memorial Hospital board of directors. With this experience, along with your knowledge of the Waterloo community during your time in the police service, how do you feel that your past experience will assist you in dealing with the diverse health needs of the population that is served by this particular LHIN?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: When I was a police officer—I was the commander of the Cambridge division—I made a point of reaching out, whether it was to the city council, the mayor. I reached out to the hospital, of course, at the time. I reached out to the fire department. I reached out to different mental health—to an organization called Langs, which is a health service provider as well. I made a point of reaching out to all of those.
Maintaining those relationships—those are very important relationships to have, and I have maintained them for many years now. Being on the LHIN’s board—of course, I made relationships and had very good relationships with the CEOs of the St. Mary’s and Grand River hospitals. Having that connectivity with those particular individuals is what it’s all about, really. When you have those, it can lead to some very, very good discussions, as opposed to sort of, “I want to be on this board, but I don’t really know anybody.” I think it’s the connections that really matter.
Mr. Wayne Gates: In my riding of Niagara, I have voiced concerns regarding resource allocation decisions by the LHINs, particularly in the area of front-line workers. What challenges do you believe that the Waterloo Wellington LHIN currently has, and what do you feel the board should do to address those challenges?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: I don’t specifically have the details of what some of those particular challenges are. But certainly, as I mentioned earlier, I think some of the challenges that face any LHIN are the fiscal challenges. That is ongoing; that is never going to change. Then we have to balance that with human resources. We did that, certainly, on the board at the Cambridge Memorial Hospital, with the fiscal challenges that we had there. Unfortunately, it did equate, on one occasion, to the loss of personnel within the organization. But we had that flexibility to discuss that. I think that’s something we’d get more into once we look at the specific details of it.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. Currently, they’re looking at expanding the LHIN. I’ll read this: “The act gives LHINs greater powers and increased oversight of the health service providers to which they provide funding.” I guess my question to you is: Do you believe this is a positive move and, if yes, why?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Yes, I do believe it’s a positive move. I think it refers to something I said a few moments ago: Allow the LHIN to have the authority to make those decisions within the confines of the LHINs’ areas that they’re governing, in co-operation with the boards.
Having the authority to do that come from the ministry itself, to say, “Yes, LHINs, this is what you’re allowed to do,” and then that continues on, that they can do it—I think that’s very important, to have that. I like the idea that they have expanded their authority and they’re going to have oversight. How that’s going to play out is going to be interesting, and we have to safeguard that it doesn’t become too authoritative.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. My concern is the pie, and how the pie is divided. In other words, how do we make sure that—you’ve had a situation where you had to deal with the CCAC. I certainly have had a couple with my family over the last year. How do you make sure that the money and the resources that we need to get to the front-line workers are going to get there when you continue to add executives rather than it really going to front-line workers?
In your particular LHIN, which, when I read the notes, was really interesting to me—I’m going to read something because I think it’s important to get it into the record: Seniors 65 and over are 14% of your population, and seniors 75 and over are 6%. Immigrants are 20.5%—I’m sure Trump wouldn’t allow that. More than 20% of the residents have a mother tongue that isn’t English or French. You’ve got a really interesting area, quite frankly. Twelve thousand are francophones—parlez-vous français? Ten thousand are aboriginal. Ten thousand are Mennonites, with 70% in three townships. There are 1,200 Syrian refugees who have settled in the Waterloo region since 2015. It’s a very interesting LHIN.
You’re being allocated $1.06 billion—to sit on a board and kind of control on how it gets there.
Having said all that, it will get me to my last question—I know I don’t have a lot of time.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have just about two minutes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Oh, I’ve got lots of time for this.
It says here that there are 35 long-term-care facilities in your region, and 26 of them are for-profit and seven are not-for-profit. I’ve always questioned how you have a publicly funded health care system delivered when a lot of the money that is allocated for long-term care—I’m sure you know this, being involved with the police and being involved as a director. We need more long-term-care facilities, and not one or two; we need hundreds in the province of Ontario.
My concern is that if all the money is going to the profit side of it and not to the front-line workers and expanding the long-term-care facilities—do you agree that maybe we should be building more not-for-profits so that every single dollar is going to health care and not into some CEO’s wallet?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: I’m not sure that all that money is going into the profit side of it, so I’d have to certainly look into something like that.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Could you look into that when you get on the board? I think that’s an important issue for us.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Certainly. That’s an important issue because the for-profit tends not to be viewed very well by the public—any for-profit organizations when it comes to health care.
What I want to look at specifically is the efficiencies that are there and the quality of care that is there. That was the one thing, if I learned nothing else when I was on the hospital board—was the quality committee and the quality of care that’s given to people. I think that goes into all kinds of different areas, whether it’s the hospital or it’s long-term care.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Can I jump in?
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m glad you mentioned the quality of care, because that’s my biggest concern.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: In my office, and I’m sure in the offices right across the province, that is the biggest issue that we’re hearing when they come into our office. When you get on the board, please look into it. Our seniors deserve better.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We’ll now turn the questioning over to the government side. Mr. Qaadri, you have four minutes and 25 seconds.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Thank you, Ms. Westbrook, for being here. I have to say that your resumé, your testimony today and the fact that you’re here in such challenging circumstances, from what you mentioned, is really just stunning. On behalf of the government, we’re honoured to have you. It sounds like you should be running not merely for the LHIN, but for a seat in Parliament. Thank you for your testimony today.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any further questions? Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: I just want to expand on that. I think that we’re fortunate as a province and the people of Ontario are fortunate to have persons like you who have climbed through the ranks of the male-dominated police force to the rank of superintendent. You must be a pretty determined person to have succeeded in that and to still offer yourself to public service. I commend you for your years of service and volunteering. And as a fellow Rotarian, I want to thank you for your volunteer work internationally. Again, I think that, too often, we don’t appreciate the great people we have in Ontario, like yourself. What you’ve done is exemplary. Offering yourself to the LHIN, I think, is of great future value to all of Ontario, never mind the regional LHIN. Thank you so much.
Ms. Rita Westbrook: Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Colle. Any further questioning? Okay.
That concludes the time allocated for this interview. Thank you very much, Ms. Westbrook. You may now step down. We’ll be voting at the end of the day today.
Ms. Susan Lo
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party and third party: Susan Lo, intended appointee as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Ms. Susan Lo, who is nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Please come forward and take a seat at the table.
Welcome, Ms. Lo, and thank you very much for being here this morning. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questions. Thank you, Ms. Lo. You may begin.
Ms. Susan Lo: Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee. I’m pleased to be here this morning to present my background and my qualifications for a board position for the newly created Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. It’s a mouthful, so I think I’ll call it the Green Ontario Fund from now on.
I’ve prepared a statement, which will cover my academic background, my work experience, some key accomplishments and, also, briefly explain why I’m interested in this position and what I would bring to this board, if selected.
I graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in applied science and engineering. At U of T, I specialized in geotechnical engineering, which is a very specialized field within civil engineering. Geotechnical engineering is about foundations and earthworks and heavy construction in infrastructure.
My work experience spans more than 30 years within the Ontario public service in three ministries. Actually, after 34 and a half years in the OPS, I retired in November of last year. The three ministries that I had worked in were the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
For roughly the first half of my career, I worked in very technical engineering positions at the Ministry of Transportation. Basically, I was working in planning and design, in construction, in operations and in maintenance of transportation infrastructure. While at MTO, I worked in three of its five regions—those being southwest region, northern region and central region—so I do have an appreciation for the differences and nuances between north and south, as well as urban versus rural.
During my time at MTO, I worked as a licensed professional engineer. Mainly, my roles involved managing fairly complex, multi-million dollar construction contracts on highways and freeways, a fairly large staff of several hundred people and dozens of design consultants. Our annual operations budget was usually in the order of $400 million or so, give or take.
After many years of working in operations, I moved to the communications and the policy areas of the ministry, serving as the ministry’s communications director for more than four years and then the road safety policy and public education director for a further four years.
A communications director’s role is probably self-explanatory to the folks in this room. As policy director, I led multidisciplinary teams to develop road safety legislation and regulations to make Ontario’s roads and drivers among the safest in North America and the world.
In developing policy and policy options, we always used an evidence-based approach. This evidence-based approach was used to help guide our thinking because we were working with facts like real numbers of people who were injured or killed in crashes. We were looking at the causal or contributing factors of car crashes and then putting forward policy solutions, program solutions and/or education options to help mitigate the crashes.
In the four years I was policy director, we worked with ministers and stakeholders to advance four pieces of road safety legislation and dozens of regulations. We tackled important issues like drinking and driving, texting, speeding, racing, aggressive driving, graduated licensing for novice drivers, and speed limiters for large trucks, to name a few of the things that we successfully worked on.
After MTO, an exciting opportunity became available at the Ministry of Energy to be the assistant deputy minister of renewables and energy efficiency. I jumped at the opportunity to apply for the position, where I could bring transferable technical skills and soft skills.
As ADM, my role there was twofold. Firstly, it was to bring about more renewable energy generation in the form of solar, wind, hydro and bioenergy to complement the then-existing energy mix that was in place which was predominantly nuclear, hydro, gas and coal. The second part of that role was to bolster and add energy efficiency and conservation programs to the mix so that Ontarians and businesses and industries could benefit by using less energy.
While at Ministry of Energy, I worked closely with the then Ontario Power Authority, now part of the IESO, and also local distribution companies to create energy efficiency programs and energy conservation programs for households, businesses and industries. For businesses and industries, it was a win-win to be incentivized to do retrofits that would make industries and businesses more energy efficient and hence more competitive. For homeowners, it was about using less energy, which meant lower utility bills.
At the Ministry of Energy, I also oversaw the province’s home energy savings program. That was a partnership program with the federal government’s NRCan. The province’s home energy savings program provided homeowners with rebates toward energy efficiency retrofits, and these were high efficiency heating and cooling systems, insulation and energy-efficient doors and windows. I also worked with technical stakeholders to create regulations for more energy-efficient products like chillers, freezers and pumps.
At the Ministry of Energy, I also played a key role in consulting, developing and communicating the ministry’s long-term energy plan, which was a 20-year plan for energy supply and demand in the province.
The third and final ministry I worked at before retiring was the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. I had always wanted to work at the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change throughout my entire career, because as a kid growing up in the Beaches area of Toronto, I watched CBC’s The Nature of Things, which was a TV show/documentary. I must have watched each of those episodes many times over. That’s because my father worked at the CBC for more than 25 years exclusively on that particular show with Dr. Suzuki. Our dinner conversations, growing up with my brothers and parents, were always lively, filled with debate, but filled with regard for the environment: for the air that we breathe, the water we drink and swim in and the precious and fragile ecosystems.
At MOECC, I was the ADM of the drinking water management division and the chief inspector for drinking water systems across the province.
Throughout my 30-plus years in the OPS, I’ve had the privilege to work with a variety of people and on some very, very interesting and challenging assignments. I’ve worked with ministers and MPPs from all three parties, virtually every ministry, central agencies, crown agencies, the federal government, municipalities, First Nations, community groups, industry stakeholders, and for-profit and not-for-profit entities.
I have a reputation for being focused and listening to opinions, caring about following proper procedures and processes, valuing transparency and accountability, and delivering on results.
In closing, I think that I could bring a number of valuable contributions to the board, and I welcome any questions that you may have of me at this time.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Lo. We will now begin our questioning with Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hi. How are you?
Ms. Susan Lo: Hi.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Listen, yesterday was World Environment Day across the world. Do you believe that we should protect the environment?
Ms. Susan Lo: Your question is, do you think I should—
Mr. Wayne Gates: Do you believe that we should protect the environment?
Ms. Susan Lo: Absolutely. Absolutely I do.
Mr. Wayne Gates: What do you think of the Green Energy Act?
Ms. Susan Lo: Just so that you know my background, the Green Energy Act was created as a policy device of the government. I arrived at the Ministry of Energy after the Green Energy Act was created, so I’m not sure that my views on the Green Energy Act are beneficial to any degree—because I think there are certainly many challenges, but many opportunities, that it created.
The piece that I was involved in, as well, as I talked about—was that the Green Energy Act also created a very significant component on energy efficiency and conservation. With this particular role, on this particular board, it furthers the government’s actions to protect the climate and provide useful tools and useful programs for industries, businesses and the public.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. And I saw that you were drinking water inspector with the ministry. How do we protect our water and our air? I had the opportunity to listen to Mr. Suzuki about two weeks ago, and he spent probably three quarters of his presentation talking about how we go about protecting our water and our air. He said the reason why we have to do it is that without water and air, we’re not alive on the planet.
So I saw you spent some time there. How do we go about making sure that our kids and our grandkids are going to have clean air and clean drinking water on this planet? Just with your expertise, any ideas around what we should be doing?
Ms. Susan Lo: That’s a very, very large question.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s why you’ve got 10 minutes to answer it.
Ms. Susan Lo: Right. With protecting drinking water, Ontario has one of the best and most comprehensive systems for protecting our drinking water. As you probably know, Ontario’s drinking water systems are all licensed and must go through a particular safety net in terms of protecting water at its source and training the people who run the drinking water systems, as well as testing drinking water before it’s served to the public. There’s an entire safety net to protect our drinking water.
There are probably, as I recall, because I did author the chief drinking water inspector’s report every year to report to the minister—we conduct more than half a million drinking water tests every year to check for quality, and there is an entire safety net to protect that.
But in terms of air and the environment, there are other safety nets, as well. Ontario probably has one of the most comprehensive systems to protect its water.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Well, I guess my follow-up question to it is that—I’m sure that on the reserves in Ontario they would probably argue around clean drinking water. We have Six Nations that still can’t drink their water. So I think we have a long way to go to make sure that we have clean water in the province of Ontario. I can appreciate the fact that the government has done what they have, but I know that on our reserves right across the province of Ontario, they have water advisories; they can’t drink the water. So we have to do a lot more. I thought that because of your expertise I would raise that with you to heighten the awareness that we do still have a problem in the province of Ontario with everybody—that every citizen, no matter where you’re from, has clean drinking water. So I just wanted to raise that.
I understand that the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. is a new agency. Could you discuss, in your own words, what you believe the purpose of this organization is, including its primary goals?
Ms. Susan Lo: The purpose of this particular corporation is to seek out partners of a like mind—it’s to put together all of the disparate entities that are trying to accomplish the same goal at this point with climate change. It puts together and will help be the funding agency toward the goals to combat climate change. It’s so large that it’s hard to put together all the pieces, but right now there are many programs by various different entities that are moving forward, and they’re moving forward in a very unorganized way. So one of the main goals of this particular entity is to coordinate, to put it all together to make sure the key programs have the funding that they need—for individuals, for businesses and for industries—to drive forward that change and to report on results: to be accountable so that, for our climate change solutions, there is an organized approach about it and that we know exactly what’s happening. We’re tracking the results and reporting on the results too.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that. Thank you.
The language that outlines the approach of the board speaks about the collective experience that is expected from board members in nine areas—I’m sure you’re aware of that—including finance; Ontario’s energy system, in which obviously hydro is our number one issue in the province of Ontario; working with low-income communities; designing energy-efficient buildings; using commercially available technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; corporate law or regulatory law; corporate governance; risk management; and consumer marketing. So it’s quite extensive. Could you discuss how your background fits into one or more of those areas?
Ms. Susan Lo: In addressing those areas—I believe that I have a solid understanding of Ontario’s energy system, having worked in the Ministry of Energy for more than four years. I have a solid understanding of the ministry’s long-term energy plan, and I have direct experience with energy efficiency and conservation programs, which also targeted low-income and, now more currently, First Nations communities. I’m very familiar with the natural gas and the electricity sectors. I have a solid understanding of the legislative and regulatory process, having worked with it first-hand.
With risk management and corporate governance, my 30-plus years within the OPS—I’ve also extensively worked with that. But I think, most importantly, I’m very passionate about protecting our climate and protecting our water and air and ecosystems. I believe that I have a right combination of the technical skills, being trained formally as an engineer and working as an engineer, but then also shifting over and working in government in three key ministries that contribute toward—that can mitigate climate change impacts.
Mr. Wayne Gates: We’re on the same page when it comes to our environment, for sure, particularly on air and water.
The corporation will be required to comply with any written directive issued by the minister. Do you feel or have any concerns that such directives might compromise the corporation’s independence?
Ms. Susan Lo: I must say that I don’t personally feel that the minister would write any directive that isn’t in line with the goals and actions of what this particular organization is supposed to deliver. I think we’re well aligned.
Mr. Wayne Gates: But he could.
Ms. Susan Lo: I suppose anything could happen, but I really believe firmly that—
Mr. Wayne Gates: So you have no concerns around the autonomy. I guess that’s what it’s about. You’re happy that you are getting on a board that’s going to have lots of autonomy to make decisions based on the criteria that have been put forward to you on applying to the board.
Ms. Susan Lo: I think that, with the purpose of this particular agency and the purpose of the board—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much. Time is up now.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you very much.
Ms. Susan Lo: Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We are now going to turn over the questioning to the government side. Mr. Colle, please.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you, Ms. Lo.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have about 35 seconds.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thirty-five seconds.
Anyway, thank you—great contribution as a professional civil servant. I hope you continue, with your passion and dedication, to do good work for this new board, agency and commission.
Ms. Susan Lo: Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Colle. Now we’re going to turn it over to Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for coming here today to give us an idea of the future, if it were to, as it were, unroll.
I want to ask you a question. As an MPP, I’m always looking at these kinds of initiatives and kind of drilling down to see how this is going to impact or be received by people and how they are going to learn and to appreciate the efforts that are being made. Just as a “for instance,” you talked about your passionate interest in energy conservation. I live with a husband who goes around and checks to make sure all the lights are out. But I think my constituents would point to the issue of time-of-use and the problems that were created around the measures that would be in place for people for time-of-use. I got the phone calls from the pizza makers who couldn’t do it at 3 o’clock in the morning for the noon trade.
So what offer have you to give to those people who are a bit worried about what energy conservation means? Does it mean things like time-of-use?
Ms. Susan Lo: Just to take a giant step back, I think there are going to be lots of initiatives that this agency can put forward. Many of the programs that could be put forward, which are really excellent programs, have to do with reducing the amount of energy use by individuals and people in their homes and by businesses and industries because there are going to have to be very many streams that it will have to take place in. So the overall goal of many of these programs will be to use less energy. It’s not just about when the energy is used but ultimately to lower energy use by the employment of better technologies—lighting that uses less energy, heating and cooling systems that use less energy, telecommuting that uses less energy. I think the whole of it would be that we would want Ontarians—businesses, industries and individuals—to be more cognizant about what they can do themselves to conserve and reduce in terms of energy use.
Then, in terms of the energy itself, our system has become a lot cleaner without coal, as you know, and it could even become cleaner still if we used less of it and used it in a balanced way so that—it is about time-of-use in terms of encouraging those entities that can to use electricity during off-peak hours.
Mr. Bill Walker: Do you know how much we’ve paid to the States and Quebec in the last number of years to export our surplus power?
Ms. Susan Lo: I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have the answer because I—
Mr. Bill Walker: It’s about $6 billion.
You’re obviously very concerned about water and the air. Are you aware that the government currently spills water at Niagara Falls so that we can have the Green Energy Act resources going, but then we fire up gas plants? Is that something you would support going forward?
Ms. Susan Lo: I’m not familiar with the numbers that you’re mentioning, because I have not been at the Ministry of Energy for a while. But I’d be happy to take a look at the numbers and see what it reveals.
Mr. Bill Walker: More in principle, though—we’re spilling water at Niagara Falls, which is our cleanest, greenest, freest form of power, so that we can put up renewable resources. But when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, we fire up gas, which is not very environmental. Do you support going in that same direction?
Ms. Susan Lo: For the situation that you described, there are probably some contractual conditions within some renewable energy contracts that have taken us to this place, so I think it’s not for me to say whether I support it or don’t support it.
But if that’s the way that the contracts are written—as a person who also worked with contract law for many years, I think there must be some larger benefits of the way that particular contract was structured in the first place. I’m not sure. I’d have to really look into it to see.
Mr. Bill Walker: Do you generally support subsidies to certain businesses, or lower market conditions for all?
Ms. Susan Lo: That’s a really big question, so I would think that a general answer to that question would just get me into a lot of trouble.
I think that there are probably circumstances where the free market could be of benefit, and other times when government intervention is necessary. So as a broad statement, I don’t think I could indicate support or not support of what you just said.
Mr. Bill Walker: You have suggested you’re very knowledgeable about the energy industry. Are you supportive of nuclear power and the refurbishment of our fleet?
Ms. Susan Lo: Nuclear power is a very interesting area. As an engineer, I look at nuclear power, and there are so many benefits in terms of clean and efficient and—but I don’t know whether the mathematicians have taken a look at the cost of nuclear power, the cost of building new nuclear power, the refurbishment of nuclear power. That’s a very complex question which I do not feel qualified to answer without spending days and weeks and months looking at the pros and cons.
Mr. Bill Walker: The government has committed to the full refurbishment.
Ms. Susan Lo: I respect the government’s decision to do that.
Mr. Bill Walker: You talked a fair bit earlier about your various capacities, and rural Ontario. We currently have a situation where rural grocery stores—despite being, in many cases, with the most efficient, modern equipment they have—are not qualifying for some of the rebate programs that the government has recently introduced. Do you believe that there should be a way that we can find to make sure that those companies, those small independent businesses, are given every opportunity to make sure they’re as efficient as possible and are eligible for those types of programs?
Ms. Susan Lo: I think we can certainly look at it. I’m not aware of the specifics that you’ve mentioned. But if there are some rural businesses out there that are in need of some government programs, that’s something that certainly the LDCs and IESO and ourselves could look into.
Mr. Bill Walker: Currently, companies have incurred 40% increases, at minimum, and sometimes up to 400%. Now with potential cap-and-trade coming in, those rates are going to continue to increase. We just heard from the fiscal accountability officer that rates are going to increase again very shortly after the election.
How important is it for you to make sure that there’s a balance between, certainly, looking at what the future holds as far as the environment and our air and our water, but also the ability for companies to be competitive?
Ms. Susan Lo: I agree with you that there definitely does need to be a balance. I think that the government programs that we would be trying to advance need to take into account all their impacts to businesses, homeowners and industries. I think all of that, that very large and complex picture, needs to be taken into account.
Mr. Bill Walker: With regard to the accountability and the ability for a minister to come in and offer you a directive—I mean, the Green Energy Act usurped the Planning Act and actually took away all democratic rights of a rural community. In the case of Dutton Dunwich, 85% of the people there said, “We don’t want wind turbines to be installed here.” Yet, the government forced those onto that community. There is a reality that it could happen in the case of a directive to your association from the minister, as well.
Do you think that that should always be first and foremost democratically solved—as opposed to a directive from the minister?
Ms. Susan Lo: I don’t think I’m in a position to comment about that. I’m living within the confines of what this particular board’s mandate is. I serve at the pleasure of the minister and will hopefully join a board that has its goal and mission set in mind in terms of protecting the environment and protecting against climate change. I think that those particular goals are high and lofty and noble. That’s where I’ve set my sights at in terms of trying to do what I can, the small piece that I can contribute, toward the greater good for Ontarians.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Lo. That’s a good way to end your interview here. That concludes the time allocated for this interview. You may step down.
We will be considering the concurrences for all of the interviews today after all of the interviews.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party and third party: Dennis Fotinos, intended appointee as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Mr. Dennis Fotinos, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
Thank you very much, Mr. Fotinos. You may step forward and take a seat at the table. Welcome. Thank you very much for being here this morning. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questioning. You may begin.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for taking the time to listen to our views and where I can share my thoughts and rationale for my motivation to sit on this committee. I think the best way for me to start my explanation as to why I believe I’m qualified to serve on this committee would be to maybe share my journey with you that has led me to this day.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I had the privilege of working with some very inspirational thought leaders and visionaries in our city and in our province. These people had an impact on my views and shaped my thinking about things as a young person at that time.
I was shortly thereafter elected as a member of council. Some of the people I had the privilege of working with who shaped my views on things were people like the former commissioner of works, Ray Bremner, a visionary in our city; Bob Tamblyn, the man who conceived of deep lake water cooling; Richard Gilbert, who was chair of the Toronto District Heating Corp.; and the late Jack Layton, who I was very privileged and honoured to number amongst my friends.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I was elected to city council as a Metro councillor, that was the time where the environmental consciousness was really beginning to take root in Ontario and Canada. I think we were a little late to the game. In Europe in the 1970s, with the OPEC oil crisis, they had acted a little bit sooner.
In the late 1980s and the 1990s, you’ll recall the slogan “Think Globally and Act Locally” first appeared, and people began becoming more aware of the impact that their actions were having on the environment. It was during this time that I had the privilege of working with people like Jack Layton and others who organized charettes in the city of Toronto to talk about what we might be able to do collectively to reduce our environmental footprint. It was the first time that I had heard about deep lake water cooling, which was put forward by Bob Tamblyn.
Bob Tamblyn’s vision at the time was pretty inspirational. He talked about developing the Venice of the north, where we would take cold water from Lake Ontario, pump it up to Bloor Street and then, with gravity, bring it up to the surface and then, on a shallower way, pump it down and cool all the buildings in downtown Toronto. Air conditioning at the time accounted for a very large part of the pollution that was happening in the city, both from a CFC perspective and also from the coal-fired electricity that air conditioners used.
The problem was, of course, that the plan was a $600-million plan and was not commercially viable. Although he pitched it, and the Toronto District Heating Corp. at the time tried to implement it, it just could not be made viable.
As circumstance would have it, in 1997 the amalgamation of the former municipalities that made up the metropolitan area occurred, and I was fortunate enough to be re-elected and to serve as a member of council of the new, amalgamated city of Toronto, and was appointed chairman of the Toronto District Heating Corp. I realized very quickly that this was an opportunity for us to develop deep lake water cooling and actually do something that would make an impact on our environment and on society as a whole, and become leaders globally. In fact, the project has become recognized globally, and I’ll address that a little later.
In order to do this, it was very obvious that we had to change the structure of this company, the Toronto District Heating Corp. We were very fortunate that at that time Mike Harris was the Premier of Ontario. I approached Mike and some of his cabinet colleagues and suggested that what we ought to do was privatize this company and create a viable economic entity that could build these green projects. With the support of the government of the day, we were able, after second reading, to introduce amendments to the legislation that actually privatized TDHC, and we were able to create Enwave.
The result of creating Enwave was that we finally had a business vehicle with which to develop this wonderful project, deep lake water cooling. With the support of people like Jack Layton, Richard Gilbert and Bob Tamblyn, we actually began developing the project.
Like anything else, though, it’s not about doing things right; it’s about doing the right things in the economy. We often see the road to hell being paved with good intentions. It’s not only important to do things that are environmentally right, but it’s important to do things that are environmentally, socially and fiscally correct. That’s what the Scandinavians and the Europeans got correct.
We had to try to find a way to make this wonderful project, this great idea that was going to reduce CFCs and reduce CO2, economically and commercially viable; and that’s what I did. I was the one who put together the strategy and plan to make deep lake water cooling commercially viable. We started building it in 2002, and believe me, when we started, nobody wanted to connect. We did get a little bit of government funding but nowhere near enough to what we should have received to make this project even larger and achieve further success.
But we did what we could with what we had, and we developed deep lake water cooling, a project that has been recognized around the world. At the recent COP21 conference, deep lake water cooling was touted as an example of what can be done by municipalities and the private sector when they work together. It’s being recognized by different organizations, companies and governments around the world.
When we built deep lake water cooling, at the time, when the coal-fired plants were operational, we were displacing over 60 tonnes of CO2 annually, and NOx and SOx emissions; reducing water consumption that was used for air conditioning; and having a tremendous impact on the environment. When the coal-fired plants closed down, which I’m very proud of as an Ontarian, deep lake water cooling served as a way to provide resiliency in an area of the city of Toronto where power is constrained.
The privatization of TDHC actually resulted in some tangible benefits to the taxpayers of Toronto and, obviously, Ontario. What happened was that we were able to sell the business to Brookfield Asset Management, and the city of Toronto walked away with over $150 million in their pocket to the good, for the taxpayers, to be able to use for other purposes.
Additionally, continuing thereafter, Enwave continues to pay municipal access fees, incremental operating fees and energy transfer fees that amount to almost $5 million a year that the government is able to use.
The privatization was a good thing. The commercialization of these technologies was important, and that’s something that I was instrumental in doing, and that’s something that I would be bringing to this committee.
What we’ve done since Brookfield took over the business is develop a strategy that we call a community energy planning strategy. This is, I think, one of the things that make me qualified to serve on this corporation’s board. In this role of community energy planning, what we’ve been able to do is identify commercially viable technologies, ideas and planning that make energy efficient and achieve environmental goals that will far exceed the 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. I think we can get there by 2030.
As we look at these strategies—not only in Toronto now, but we operate in 11 cities across North America—we are able to identify best practices. When we look at the old approach of developing large generation facilities and then building billions of dollars’ worth of transmission lines to bring power to local communities, we have realized at Enwave, through our community energy planning strategy, that in fact the future is much more local. The future is about developing energy strategies and solutions that really reflect the needs of respective communities.
That’s what is exciting about this role that I see on the board of the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have one minute left, Mr. Fotinos.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Thank you.
The mandate of the board and the corporation is to commercialize green technologies and make them economically viable. I believe that, in my role at Enwave, I’ve done that and proven I can do that, with deep lake water cooling. That had been studied before. We developed it at Enwave for 20 years, and we made it commercially viable.
The technologies that I have been privy to over the last year across North America—the lessons learned from developing those strategies are lessons that I’m going to be able to bring to the board and the corporation, so that we can develop those technologies in Ontario.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Fotinos.
We have about 25 seconds left for the government side. Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Mr. Fotinos, thank you for putting your name forward for this important position, and thank you for being here. I have very few seconds. Is there any other point you wanted to make in that time?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: No. I think what we are looking at is a very exciting future, where we are actually at the precipice of creating a green economy. For me, being part of that opportunity to create a green economy in Ontario is very exciting.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Fotinos. Thank you, Mr. Anderson.
We’ll now turn the questioning over to Mr. Walker.
Mr. Bill Walker: Thank you very much. You’ve got a varied background. It’s very interesting to hear all of the things that you’ve been involved in.
In another walk of life here at Queen’s Park, there’s the life sciences and Ontario biosciences, who tell us very succinctly that many of the procurement policies of our government prohibit made-in-Ontario companies from selling to our own province, which is crazy. I trust that you would be keen to make sure that that doesn’t happen if one of your key things is to resource technologies in this sector.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: I think it’s important for us, as a board and as a corporation whose mandate is to identify and support commercially viable technologies, to find the best technologies that are available, and clear the hurdles and obstacles that are standing in the way of making those technologies viable. If we’ve got technologies that are being developed by Ontarians, it’s even more reason for us to find ways to clear the obstacles and hurdles, to allow the private sector to develop those technologies and make them commercially viable.
Mr. Bill Walker: You talked about the green economy. Obviously, I agree with you. I think you talked a little bit in there—how I interpreted it—about economic and environmental balance, that there needs to be both of those. I think that would be some of what you’ve been involved in.
You used the word “efficient” a number of times. Can you just define what you believe are the core components of an efficient technology and an efficient system for Ontarians?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: With technologies, for me, you have to assess the benefit, the risk, the financial reward and the social impact all together. As we look at technologies, we’re going to have to weigh those technologies that provide the greatest benefit at the least cost.
I think it was very clear to me on the mandate of the committee that we are not a development corporation. We are not looking to seed new ideas. There are many new ideas that I think should be looked at through other avenues in the government and other ministries and departments that fund these technologies, but our role is to commercialize and incent those technologies that are going to actually produce tangible results for the least cost to the taxpayer.
Mr. Bill Walker: I’ve heard you say that commercialization—and certainly I think a quote you made was that privatization is good. If it’s a private company and it can work and it’s in the best interest of Ontarians, you’re fully supportive of that?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Absolutely. I’m a firm supporter of public-private partnerships and the opportunity for government to work with the private sector to achieve goals, as long as there is transparency, accountability, very clear and defined roles and responsibilities for all sides, and the taxpayers’ interests are protected. I think the private sector has an important role to play in working with the government to achieve its environmental goals.
Mr. Bill Walker: You talked in one of your last comments about large facilities. I’m very close to the Bruce nuclear power development—right next door. That certainly is a big facility, a large generating facility. That refurbishment has been approved to go ahead, and all of the money there will come from the private sector and private investments. I trust you’re supportive of that type of a project going forward?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: You know, as I look at the role of this board, it’s to look at new technologies that are going to advance the green agenda of the government and benefit Ontarians. I think that nuclear technology is established; it’s there. I don’t see this board and this corporation really playing a role with the Bruce nuclear facility. I see us looking at finding ways to promote those technologies that are going to be able to address problems, I believe, on a more local level.
There are many of those kinds of technologies available out there today. I can give you an example of just one. I just came back from a visit out in BC, in Southeast False Creek in Vancouver, where a Canadian company that is also looking to do business in Ontario has developed a project where they’re using sewage to extract heat and provide heating to the former Olympic village and also to the entire development that’s occurring in Southeast False Creek. It’s incredible to me that this is a Canadian technology that we can promote and implement on a local level, because, of course, there are sewers and sewage in every municipality across Ontario.
If something like this—and there isn’t just one company. Apparently there are a number that do this. But insofar as these kinds of companies are available to do that, I think that’s the kind of local solution that we can come up with. If you can displace natural gas and if we can reduce the amount of natural gas that buildings are using in favour of doing things like sewer heat recovery, then that’s what we ought to be doing. And we should be looking for those local solutions, because I think communities are now growing locally as opposed to on a larger scale, and master planning should include master energy planning. I think that’s an important part of what we are looking to do.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mrs. Munro?
Mrs. Julia Munro: I was just going to ask one question, but I think you’ve virtually answered my question, which was to do with the title. You’re a deployment corporation. Perhaps you could expand on the conversation you just finished on what you would see as priorities in deployment, which the title obviously encourages.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Yes. I think it goes back to the agenda of the government of Ontario to reduce CO2. I’m quite proud that in Canada we’re not taking the approach of Donald Trump and the United States in denying that there is a climate problem. Climate change is around us. We realize it. We’ve been aware of it. We have the technology, we have the know-how and we have the desire to do it. I think it’s important for us to try to reduce CO2.
To me, it’s offensive when I hear people suggest that there is no such thing as climate change and that it’s all a hoax. Just intuitively, looking at the stuff that comes out of a tailpipe, any rational human being has got to think that that can’t possibly be good for the air. To deny that that is a problem is putting your head in the sand.
I’m digressing a little bit, but for me, it’s about finding—to your question—those technologies that are going to reduce CO2. Notwithstanding that natural gas has gotten us to this level, and I think it’s a far cry better than coal and oil, and we’re here, I think it’s time for us to begin phasing out natural gas. I think we start phasing out natural gas by looking at things like sewer heat recovery or battery storage or photovoltaics for—thermal energy, as opposed to electrical energy. I think there’s a difference in that.
But all those things—and there’s not one recipe, a one-size-fits-all for every community. You can’t say, “We’re going to support this technology across the entire province of Ontario.” I think you take a look at the community, and when you look at the community, you take a look at the solution that best fits that community, and it’s a local solution.
I think those are the kinds of technologies that are being developed now. So it could be geo-exchange. It could be geothermal boreholes that are dug in, providing a base amount of energy, coupled with sewer heat recovery, coupled with photovoltaics, that get you to 80% below 1990 levels by 2030.
I would be lying if I said that, in the short term, natural gas won’t play a role. It will. But our role and our goal, I think, as Ontarians, is to begin phasing that out. Putting these strategies in place and commercializing these technologies is going to allow us to get there in the future.
Mr. Bill Walker: Thank you very much, Mr. Fotinos. I certainly agree with that approach.
The last deputant said that she served at the pleasure of the minister. Do you agree that you serve at the pleasure of the minister, or the people of Ontario?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: We serve at the pleasure of the people of Ontario. I think our role as members of the board of the corporation is to serve the interests of Ontario through the direction of the government.
With respect to the role of the minister: As a former elected representative, I respect the role of elected representatives to represent the people who elected them and Ontarians.
Mr. Bill Walker: If the minister gave you a directive that you truly didn’t agree with, how would you deal with it?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: I know my answer is going to sound like I’m obfuscating, but the danger with me responding to that is that it’s a hypothetical situation. Without knowing the context, I don’t think, right now, me giving an answer to that question would really be beneficial.
Mr. Bill Walker: Would you challenge the minister if you saw something you didn’t like?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: I think there’s an opportunity to ask questions, and I think, as members of the board of the corporation, just like we ask questions of our management—I chair the Enwave board of directors. I ask questions of my management team, because I have a fiduciary responsibility to my shareholders. Although Ontarians are not my shareholders, they are the people that we serve, ultimately. I think asking questions is absolutely the role of the board of directors.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Fotinos.
We’re now going to pass on the questioning to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: How are you doing?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Good, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I enjoyed your presentation. It was very good.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Thank you. I hope I wasn’t rambling on too much.
Mr. Wayne Gates: No, you’re good. I think it’s good to have somebody who is as knowledgeable as yourself, but who also understood that Jack Layton was slightly ahead of his time when it came to the environment.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Jack was—I’m not of that political persuasion, but he was the best Prime Minister we never had. Besides that—and I know that will get me in trouble in some circles—he was a dear friend and a visionary, and certainly was a catalyst for making Enwave happen. He supported my efforts with developing deep lake water cooling and, I might suggest, supported the commercial efforts and realized that the only way we could make deep lake water cooling happen was by privatizing TDHC, and supported the privatization efforts. As a matter of fact, he had actually spoken to Howard Hampton to get his support in the Legislature for the privatization of TDHC.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I agree 100% with you: Jack would have been the best Prime Minister we never had, and God took him way too early in his life.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I was good friends with Jack, as well, and have nothing but the utmost respect for him—not just as a politician, but as a person. I’m glad you had the privilege of knowing him.
You talk about new technologies, which to me are very, very important because we have to tie the environment in. I think what the guys from the other country, our friends in the USA, might not understand is that there is an opportunity with new technologies to create good-paying, stable, long-term jobs right across the province of Ontario. Would you agree with that statement?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: For me, that is one of the fundamental reasons why I am so excited about the green economy. I think we have an opportunity in Ontario to become leaders in green technology. That means jobs, jobs, jobs, tax income for the province, tax income for municipalities, and it means that we become the magnet that attracts all these new ideas coming to Ontario.
I’m already seeing that. There’s a technology that I came across—and I won’t mention the name—developed in Escondido, California. Notwithstanding that California is such a leader in the environmental movement, they haven’t been able to get traction. So where did they come? They came to Ontario to commercialize and develop this battery storage technology, which is pretty innovative and creative. They have received money from the federal government. In the process, these people have created—it’s a small start-up—five new jobs, and they’re projecting that if they get a contract, the five will turn into 20.
This is the kind of technology that I hope, through the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp., that we’re able to incubate and grow, because it is proven that it actually works. If we can attract that kind of investment in Ontario, it’s an exciting time for this province.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You probably don’t know my history, but I came out of a car plant, a manufacturing sector, where, going back to the 1980s, when you were talking about Jack and worrying about the environment, we had 10,000 people in our plant. Today, there are 1,500.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Right.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Oshawa had 22,000, and they’re down to about 3,200. So we have to find a way to make sure there are jobs for our young people.
With you, I believe that with new technology, however we award the jobs, we have to make sure that local companies are getting them. You touched on that: local solutions, which means local jobs, which means that the local elected officials at city council and regional councils should be looking at that in their master plan. I agree with you on that. We’re not there; I don’t see that.
I sat on council a few years ago, before I had this job. I think that educating local councils on this opportunity as well is important. When they go to AMO, we should make sure that we’re doing presentations to make sure that the councillors understand the opportunity for their community in the form of keeping their young people in that community, because they’re going to have good-paying jobs and interesting jobs that are going to build for the future.
I like where you’re going on that part of it. I’ll get into my questions. They were just some notes and comments.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Yes, sure. Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’d appreciate you answering. I’ve got a few here that I’ll read out, and hopefully you can give me some good answers on them.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Yes, sure.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I have spoken with several newly appointed members of the committee that you’ll be part of. I believe one of the most important questions we have asked is this: How do you feel the corporation can work to make sound decisions, independent of partisan and political influence?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: I think the environment and what we’re trying to do in Ontario is not a partisan issue. I’ve spoken to members of all three political parties, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that climate change is an issue that everybody has to tackle.
I go back to the premise of sustainability. We cannot have a situation where the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We have to make sure that the technologies we support, encourage and develop in Ontario achieve the three pillars of sustainability: They have to achieve environmental objectives; they have to definitely achieve social objectives; but they have to make financial sense. Without the three pillars of sustainability, the success that the Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Sweden and all the countries that we hold out as leaders—without the three pillars of sustainability working together, you cannot achieve the environmental goals.
As a board and as a company that is deploying taxpayers’ money, I think it’s important for us to assess every single one of these projects and every single one of these technologies on the basis of those three objectives. If they don’t meet those three objectives, then I don’t think we support them.
Those three objectives don’t recognize political parties. I don’t think there’s any political party that objects to any of them—to social responsibility, fiscal responsibility or environmental responsibility. It crosses boundaries.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that answer. I’m going to actually add Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway—
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Yes, yes. Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: —so when you’re talking about how you can make sure that you have the quality of life that we want for our kids and our grandkids, just take a look at those countries.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Yes, absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: And I will add that those countries are highly unionized, so they’re being paid extremely well. Their standard of living is extremely good, too. As far as the environment goes, they are leaders in the environment, but they’re also leaders in quality of life. The environment can go hand in hand with quality of life, not only for those of us, ourselves, who are still here, but also for generations to come. I loved your comment on that.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: And on your union issue, Enwave’s labour force is unionized and we’ve achieved incredible results because of our unionized labour force.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’ve seen that. That was actually one of my questions. I’m glad you said that. Yes, it’s highly unionized and they do a great job. Thank you.
Then the last part of that particular question, bringing on the next one, you answered a little bit, but I’m going to ask it anyway so it’s in the record. Do you believe that this corporation should be autonomous and solely based on making evidence-based decisions?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: That’s the mandate of the corporation. It’s very clear to me that the mandate of the corporation is to deploy capital on a sound fiscal, environmental and social basis. To me, that’s the way I read the mandate of the corporation and of the board.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. I appreciate that. Thank you.
I’ve said this before to other of your colleagues—and I think a lot of them are going to be your colleagues—but I think it’s important to repeat, if you don’t mind: Climate change is a hugely pressing matter in our province and throughout the world. It may be one of our biggest challenges to address to ensure our children and our grandchildren have a world to grow up in and raise their families. Because of that, I do support the general premise of the corporation; however, I do not doubt the corporation will face many challenges. Could you discuss, in your opinion, some of the major challenges that Ontario faces when it comes to combatting climate change?
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Thank you for that question. I recently spoke in Ottawa at a conference and the title of my presentation was You Can’t Get There From Here. The challenge that we face is, we have some really good ideas and the government has great ideas, but then we don’t realize that the devil is in the detail. For example, I’ll give you a case in point. Recently we tried to take waste heat from Redpath Sugar, a sugar refinery right on the waterfront, where they are producing—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): A minute left, Mr. Fotinos.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: —an inordinate amount of waste heat. We tried to take that waste heat and supply the waste heat across the street to the new building the LCBO, by the way, is building.
The problem was that right now, the way the building codes are written, they don’t allow you to take low-grade heat and provide it, on the premise that we’d create Legionella. Well, guess what? They’ve been using low-grade heat in Denmark and all those countries since 1972. There’s been no Legionella and nobody has died. Somehow they figured out how to do it.
You see, we had the good intentions. We could have done that. We could have made a totally green building, but the building code has to be changed. So in terms of the challenges, it’s finding those kinds of legislative obstacles in obscure legislation and building codes and addressing those so that we can make these technologies economically viable in Ontario.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I just wanted to finish by saying thank you. If I could get that presentation—if you could send it to me—I’d greatly appreciate it.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: I will.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I like your enthusiasm around this and I like the fact that you continue to say jobs, jobs and jobs.
Mr. Dennis Fotinos: Absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s what this province needs, so thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much. That concludes the time for this interview and I’d ask you to step down. We are going to be considering concurrences at the end of all of the interviews today.
Mr. Tim Stoate
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party and third party: Tim Stoate, intended appointee as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Mr. Tim Stoate, who is nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Please come forward and take a seat at the table.
Welcome and thank you very much for being here today. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questions. Welcome, Mr. Stoate. You may begin.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you very much. I’m very pleased to be here today. I very much appreciate this opportunity to be of service to our province. My desire to be here today is a result of a continuing life journey that started with a 12-year-old reading a book given to him by a wise, concerned individual. That book was called Silent Spring. I think that book has engaged many environmentalists. And let’s face it: Being an environmentalist has at many times not been met with the easiest journey.
Over my career, I have had the opportunity to influence and observe the positive impacts of Earth’s stewardship. I’ve had the experience in a recycling company and working at the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, now the Atmospheric Fund, and on the board of GreenSaver, an environmentally focused organization. In addition, I have also worked in a mental health organization, on the board as well. Mental health actually is impacted by the environment, and energy efficiency is a way of bringing positive mental health aspects to buildings.
My experience includes strategic planning, finance, corporate development and board governance. My very formative initial career was in banking. That experience provided me the opportunity to work with small and medium-sized corporations led by passionate people, and I realized that without passion there is a much lower chance for success. It also taught me the need for disciplined analysis of opportunities from both the business and social aspects.
Fortunately for me, two key elements were occurring simultaneously in my life: (1) environmental assessments; and (2) I began to pursue, and eventually complete, a master’s in business administration. What became clear to me was that the environmental assessment was being driven by two forces: policy and finance. Someone was going to pay for the cleanup of sites and the financial institutions weren’t going to be the ones. Responsibility was going to be derived and decided by circumstance and deep pockets. So financial institutions mitigated risk. Throughout my ongoing career assessment of myself, one of the things that I have realized is that I have worked very, very hard on using the concepts of risk mitigation and the transfer of risk. That I’ve applied towards TAF’s award-winning energy savings performance agreement.
One of my key skills that I bring to the table is my governance experience. I have worked on a number of different boards; one of them was a mental health organization called Oolagen. That institution had a significant influence on my approach to governance. First of all, it taught me a significant amount about process, as well as about being an ethical, involved and guiding board member. I spent about 10 years on that particular board. Some would say that that was beyond the pale, but others were happy that I was still there. It also was my first experience on a board, and I wanted to gain as much out of it as possible. What I saw was a significant amount of passion, both from the staff level as well as the board level, to work towards achieving the mandate of improving the mental health lives of children in the province of Ontario. Other organizations also helped me develop my respect for governance and how a board could influence and guide an organization. Oolagen convinced me that public service was in my blood and will always be there. My life’s journey would be incomplete without fulfilling that particular personal mandate.
I also bring a financial skill set. This skill set was initially nurtured in large financial institutions under the tutelage of some less-than-gentle souls with crack intellects and a laser focus on getting to the best answer in the shortest period of time. This tutelage was enhanced through some top professors at my MBA program who disconnected and then reconnected all the dots. My focus at this time was also on bringing forward entrepreneurial businesses. I specialized, under my MBA program, in entrepreneurship and finance, which along with strategic planning are the tools I used to make my consulting career, where I assisted many entrepreneurial mid-market firms to grow and become profitable and successful.
One of those firms was actually involved in recycling. That firm’s positive influence helped grow me again in an environmental focus, bring me towards that environmental focus once again, and understand that both environment and business can be aligned.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Five minutes left.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you.
It was the focus of the founder on a long-term approach and strategy, and the determination to stick to that approach, that was clearly a message to me to pay attention to that approach. That eventually led me to TAF, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, which gave me the opportunity to blend both my environmental as well as financial skill sets. It became a ready home for me.
Many key elements of my experience are relevant to this particular opportunity. One is my key understanding as to how the economy and ecology work highly together and are highly aligned. I have a number of examples of that. One of those is the investment in energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is a net present value positive investment.
TAF has led a number of different initiatives in this area. One of them is the development of a financial tool called the Energy Savings Performance Agreement, which was awarded a commendation by the Financial Times of London. That particular tool allows a transfer of risk and a mitigation of risk in the hands of the building owners. Those building owners transfer the risk to the investor and that risk is then sold down to engineers and technical experts, as well as an insurance company, allowing the building owner to reap the benefits of energy efficiency but reduce the potential downsides from that energy efficiency investment.
This has prompted a number of different projects. It also prompted us to be able to spin off a corporation called Efficiency Capital Corp. that is now highly focused on driving energy efficiency retrofits in the mid-market and high-rise residential sector. So we look at everything from a very practical perspective. If it doesn’t deliver a net present value positive return and it doesn’t deliver the kind of environmental benefits that we’re looking for, we can’t provide the level of investment that’s required. Every investment must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 10% and every investment has to provide a net present value positive return to the investees, including TAF.
One of the projects that came out of that whole development was a partnership with an organization called the Toronto Community Housing Corp. TAF just completed, along with a private partner, a retrofit of seven buildings in a comprehensive and extremely focused manner, which provides not only a significant reduction in the energy costs in those properties, but also a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across those properties.
The added benefit of all of this was the fact that we also began to realize the complete and absolute spinoff effects that came out of those retrofits, including the improvement of the mental health of the residents because of cleaner air, cleaner hallways—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Just under two minutes.
Mr. Tim Stoate: —and a completely renovated and retrofitted building through an energy retrofit, which provided a much warmer and cooler living environment, depending on the circumstances.
TAF has worked with a number of private and public partnerships, including working with Tridel in order to develop what is called a green condo loan. That green condo loan allowed us to invest in new condominium construction that was focused on doing a holistic approach. Each one of those properties that we invested in, along with Tridel, achieved a much higher level of energy efficiency than would have been achieved otherwise, if it hadn’t been for that program.
What we also learned from that was the power of policy and that what happened through that, because we were able to show that with a green condo loan you could achieve a higher level of energy retrofit and compete in the marketplace against buildings with the same price that did not deliver that particular approach, was that we developed a following that allowed the government to determine to change building code, which improved the building code so that—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thirty seconds.
Mr. Tim Stoate: —the energy efficiency program in Ontario has improved by 25%.
I bring a long-term strategic focus, governance, financial acumen and a passion for the environment, and I’m happy to be here today.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Stoate. We will now begin the questioning with Mrs. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much. We certainly appreciate your enthusiasm, interest and commitment to this project.
When you were looking at the experience that you’d had with built environment, you did mention transportation. I wondered if you could speak a little further to that area, because it’s one that I think directly affects everybody, and they understand that it does. Some are a little more difficult to link up with, but transportation is a big issue.
Mr. Tim Stoate: I think your question is: Does transportation link up with the building stock? I think it’s clear that as we become more dense in cities like Toronto and as people become more urban, it’s critical that the transportation sector is modified to adapt to that particular challenge.
There are a number of technologies that we are looking at at TAF which will be germane to that transformation. I can’t mention those because of confidentiality agreements, but they deal with the nature of fast charging, vehicle transportation movement, and vehicle circulation, as well as the improvement of the efficiency within those vehicles, which will reduce the amount of NOx and SOx that come out of those particular vehicles.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Is there a community that you would point to as one that is a model, or are we on the edge of being the model?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I think there are a number of communities. Surprisingly enough, one of the communities we should look at for vehicle circulation issues is Detroit. They have adapted a new program there. That particular program is making vehicle circulation easier in a new reality.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much.
Did you want—
Mr. Bill Walker: Yes, please.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mr. Walker, you still have about seven and a half minutes.
Mr. Bill Walker: You spoke about ecology and economy. I just want your opinion, really thinking from your banker’s background: Is the current approach of the Green Energy Act the most effective use of taxpayer-invested dollars to meet both?
Mr. Tim Stoate: Sorry, I didn’t hear the first part.
Mr. Bill Walker: Is the current approach of how the Green Energy Act has been implemented the most effective use of dollars to achieve both of those criteria?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I think it’s a very effective way to achieve those criteria. The marrying of energy efficiency projects and the demand for new-build approaches in energy efficiency both provide an economic and environmental impact, and they’re usually, in our experience, all net-present-value-positive, so the money that goes in actually generates a revenue stream that pays for the cost of that money and provides a return of that money to the investors.
In all of the projects that we’ve done, we have looked at everything from the perspective of: Is there a financial return that comes out of that project? My whole mandate is focused on the practical use of money that is invested and provides a return back to the investor, as well as a greenhouse gas emission reduction. In fact, our first screen on every project is: What are the greenhouse gas emission reductions that we’re going to get out of this project? What are the other environmental aspects? What are the other environmental benefits?
One of the things that is definitely a by-product is the opportunity for all of our projects to generate jobs at all kinds of levels. One of those levels is at the service level in the engineering sector; one of them is at the service level for the renewal and maintenance of equipment. There is a significant number of by-products of energy efficiency, and a lot of those products that are used in those particular energy retrofits come out of Canadian and Ontario companies.
Mr. Bill Walker: Mr. Stoate, I think you’re talking very localized on energy efficiency. I get that. What I was more talking about was the Green Energy Act in the global sense, that we’re going to spend $133 billion for 5% of our grid at its optimal time. Is that a good use that represents your net present value of investment—not so much how you are utilizing it at your local TAF. I get how well you’re doing that, but in the bigger scheme, if you were sitting there in your banker’s hat, would you have gone forward with that in the way it was implemented?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I’m not sure that the mandate of this particular organization is to flow that way. The mandate of this organization is to provide a runway in order to be able to drive opportunities from a reduction-of-greenhouse-gas-emission perspective.
Mr. Bill Walker: Where I’m going with that is, if you had a decision presented to you that you felt was more of a political decision—ideology, a government slant, as opposed to fiscal prudence—what would you do?
Mr. Tim Stoate: As someone who is provided with an opportunity to provide a fiduciary responsibility, I would look at that particular decision at that time and determine, along with the colleagues on the board, what the best approach would be.
Mr. Bill Walker: Okay. I noted you have experience working with low-income communities. In that perspective, would you support short-term relief or would you rather see the government of the day addressing the actual causes of the increasing costs to people, particularly those in low-income areas?
Mr. Tim Stoate: The beauty of energy efficiency is that it drives out costs. That’s one of the things that it does, in a manner that many other aspects don’t. When you put your money into energy efficiency, the money goes out and it comes back. It’s recovered through the savings that are generated. It also protects against rising costs. In driving out the costs, it also protects against rising costs because you’re using less volume.
Mr. Bill Walker: Would you agree that lowering the costs for all consumers is a good thing?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I guess I look at it from the perspective of, if we use capital that drives out costs across a number of different sectors, that is a real benefit to everybody within the province.
Mr. Bill Walker: Would you suggest that rising costs with no thought process as to how much that’s going to cost—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have three minutes right now. Thank you so much.
Mr. Bill Walker: For example, the fiscal accountability officer just gave a presentation last week that the short-term relief that we’re going to receive is going to be a $25-billion investment that could cost us $93 billion. The money that could have been used there if we were to invest the same $25 billion could provide a lot of conservation projects and provide a lot of relief for a lot of people—in fact, everyone across the province. Would you agree with that statement?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I’m really focused on the mandate of this organization. The mandate of this organization is to help us achieve a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to help bring the tools that I have and that I know work within that particular set of circumstances.
Mr. Bill Walker: Would you agree that $25 billion going to your ability to deploy those types of resources and find them would be a better use of money than a very short-term relief program?
Mr. Tim Stoate: Again, you’re asking me to delve into a number of different aspects that are, I think, outside the mandate of the organization. The mandate of the organization—it has been defined as an organization that is to use particular tools in order to be able to drive out greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Bill Walker: But would $25 billion not help you in that initiative?
Mr. Tim Stoate: Of course it would. So would $50 billion. But I think we have to prioritize. I think we have to determine what the most important aspects are and what our mandate is supposed to deliver.
If we look at the total aspect of investment and we understand that that transportation energy efficiency, new-build energy efficiency and holistic approaches that also attract new capital into developing new products and create new jobs, both locally and within the broader spectrum of the overall province, especially potentially in local areas, by driving in projects such as geothermal, geo-exchange and those kinds of things—I think there are a number of different aspects that we all benefit from, both in the deep urban centres and the dense urban centres as well as in the broader communities and rural centres.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much. You have about a minute left, Mr. Walker. That’s good? Ms. Munro, we’re good? Okay. Thank you so much.
We’re now going to pass the questioning over to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you, sir. How are you?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I’m good, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: An interesting comment that you had that is a real concern to me, outside of your solutions for this corporation—I want to ask you this because I think it’s important and because you raised it—is what this can do for mental health. One of the fastest-growing and most misunderstood diseases in our communities is mental health, and I thought it was very interesting what you said a retrofit does for the mental health of the people who are living in condos or apartments. Could you just elaborate on that? Because I found that quite interesting.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you very much. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to be involved in mental health organizations. As you quite rightfully pointed out, we need to do a lot more talking about mental health in order to be able to reduce the stigma.
One of the things that we found when we went through the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s properties with respect to the improvements that we were able to derive not just from an energy efficiency perspective but also from a clean air perspective and a reduction of challenges in the building stock itself—how it looked, how it was cleaned and how it was approached—the before and after pictures that you can see would lighten anybody’s spirits.
I think that the issue with those particular properties and other properties, especially for a lot of modest-income individuals, is that they don’t provide a window that gives you a significant amount of hope. By providing retrofits of those buildings, you increase hope, and hope improves mental health.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I met with six people from my condo yesterday. They were having trouble with the condo owners with some of the things that you talked about, which would improve their quality of life and their mental health state—trying to fix the windows, and those types of things that are causing them all kinds of stress that leads into mental health issues. A lot of these were seniors, right?
I think it’s a nice tie-in, by the way. I thought it was really good.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’ll ask you a question. I will just address this: I don’t think it was fair, some of the things you were asked, but I understand where the PC Party was going on the hydro relief. Obviously, short-term relief for long-term pain is kind of how everybody feels—but I don’t think it’s fair for you to come here and try to answer those types of questions. I just thought I would say that to you. I don’t think that’s why you’re here.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate the fact that you didn’t answer those questions, because that’s not why you’re here.
This is a question that I did ask your previous colleagues who have been before this committee. I believe it is an important question to have on the record. It is clear that a collaborative approach to decision-making is very important for a corporation in their mandate. That is why I ask you this question: Out of the nine areas of collective expertise, which area or areas do you feel your background fits into? What do you believe your area is able to bring to the deployment corporation?
Mr. Tim Stoate: I think that my experiences and skill sets fit into at least two of the particular nine areas. One is my background in finance and my practical experience in providing an energy-efficiency financing model, and working through those financing models face to face with the individual who will have to end up using them, and discovering, on the ground, what is working and what is not, and how to improve what we are offering.
That finance piece also leads me into the public-private partnership areas that I believe are important.
Secondly, I believe that I bring a significant amount of governance and board experience to the table through my years at Oolagen and GreenSaver and a couple of other organizations as well.
At TAF, because we are under the Municipal Act and under the governance rules there, I’m very used to working inside an organization that is highly skilled at adhering to all the governance issues. I bring a lot of that to the table.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that response. I’m not so sure we’ll agree on the P3s and the level of P3s that are done in the province. It was proven that we spent over $9 billion more than we should have on P3s. But I appreciate your response.
The other thing that we touched on with some of your colleagues, who will probably end up on the committee together, is the importance of jobs that this can create. I would like you to touch on that and the fact that, I believe, they could be good-paying jobs. As one said, his entire company was unionized. Obviously, that’s good, because we know that they’re being paid and have benefits. But even non-union jobs that this could create could make sure that our kids and our grandkids have a future right here in the province of Ontario. Could you elaborate on how you feel on that particular issue?
Mr. Tim Stoate: One of the things that we’ve discovered is that out of every $100,000 you spend on an energy retrofit, about $30,000 of that goes to labour. That’s both at the professional level and at the worker level—to actually put the windows in the building and actually change out the boiler. Then those jobs are ongoing, because what happens is, of course, there’s a need for a high level of maintenance. At TCHC, our program demands maintenance. There’s ongoing work that happens out of this.
Also, one of the things that occurs, which will connect a lot of the dots, is that you’re seeing all kinds of technologies that are being generated and created in Ontario because of the Green Energy Act. OCE itself has now invested in 12 corporations that have opportunities for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, significantly. Those particular opportunities, as they are funded in Ontario for Ontario corporations, will create local jobs. I think we are beginning to see a transformation, or at least an add-on to our already diverse set of employment opportunities, with more and more green opportunities and more and more green technologies. With the help of continued policy and investment, I can’t see how that would not continue and flourish.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So it’s fair to say that you agree that there’s a potential to create good-paying jobs in the province of Ontario?
Mr. Tim Stoate: Yes, I would agree with that 100%. I think there is significant potential.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Would it be fair to say that because of how this would have to be done, it would create opportunities for local companies, local engineers, local businesses?
Mr. Tim Stoate: Yes. I would underline that fact. I would say to you that, throughout Ontario, as the building stock starts to renew, there will be more and more opportunity for individuals and corporations to provide services and products. Many of those are produced in Ontario, including insulation, which is one of the key issues. We also create some really world-class windows in this province as well. Those world-class windows need to be built somewhere, and a lot of them are built here. Those will create well-paying jobs and also long-term jobs, because every 20 years, they’ve got to be replaced again.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, I know. I just replaced our windows. I can tell you that you’re absolutely right on that one.
I’ve got a couple of more questions; I don’t know how much time I have left.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have a minute and 20 seconds.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’ll try and get this question to you, if that’s okay.
It’s clear that your background on this board is particularly unique. I believe you may be the first person we have spoken with who has an extensive background in both finance and renewable energy. Could you give some insight on any financial limitations or restraints that this organization could have when looking at exploring renewable energy projects in the province of Ontario?
Mr. Tim Stoate: So—
Mr. Wayne Gates: I went through that quick; I apologize.
Mr. Tim Stoate: That’s okay. I’m not sure that I see constraints. What I see is trying to really focus the money on long-term thinking and not trying to solve the problem tomorrow, and to really work hard at saying that what our mandate is and what we’re trying to achieve here are some really positive long-term impacts, in all of the things that you’ve mentioned—governance, jobs, greenhouse gas emissions and long-term mental health benefits.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Perfect.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Ten seconds. Anything else?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thanks very much. I enjoyed your presentation.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Perfect. Thank you very much, Mr. Gates.
We will turn it over to the government side, who do have 10 seconds.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Thank you very much for your deputation. The government and Ontarians look forward to your expertise.
Mr. Tim Stoate: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Stoate. That concludes the time for this interview. You may step down.
Ms. Deborah Crawford
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Ms. Deborah Crawford, intended appointee as member, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Ms. Deborah Crawford, who is nominated as member, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network.
Thank you very much, Ms. Crawford. You may come forward and take a seat at the table. Welcome and thank you very much for being here today. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questioning. You may begin.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Thank you, Madam Chair, and good morning, committee members. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to present my application to the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network for your review.
I would bring to the position of the LHIN board of directors 34 years of experience in the education sector in both large urban and small rural districts. I have demonstrated an innovative and collaborative leadership style as an experienced system leader who is committed to the achievement of excellence in education and student well-being. In my current role as a supervisory officer, I’ve demonstrated my strong work ethic and superior communication, interpersonal, management and executive skills in the execution of the many and varied areas of responsibility that I have led. I manage multi-million dollar budgets and work with a large and diverse group of employees and partners. I lead strategic planning processes that require adaptive and creative solutions to financial and social challenges through the integration and alignment of resources across a large system.
I work closely with multiple ministries in an effort to coordinate, align and rationalize resources and to ensure that our efforts across the province achieve the best possible outcomes for our students and their families. My work makes me accountable to the province of Ontario, my school board and to my professional association, as president of the Ontario Catholic Supervisory Officers’ Association, and reflects my deeply held commitment to the students and families of Ontario.
I have successfully applied my skills in policy and procedure development, budgeting and analysis, organizational design and development, as well as strategic planning and change management to leadership roles across Chatham-Kent, Sarnia–Lambton and across the province.
As a community leader, I have been instrumental in developing the Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton Community Threat Assessment Protocol, working with police, emergency services, hospitals, health providers, a mental health community service agency, boards of education and ministries, that has resulted in the training of over 700 community representatives and an ongoing commitment to safety and well-being in our communities.
As co-chair of the special-needs strategy in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent, I’ve further demonstrated my skills and dedication to the achievement of creative and collaborative solutions to structural barriers that impede the attainment of overall good health and well-being for members of our community. I have worked closely with community and provincial partners and have established strong relationships with diverse groups and individuals.
Throughout my career I have continuously improved my qualifications and skills and will continue to do so. For example, I’ve completed the Rotman School of Management’s leadership and strategic change institute and this summer will be earning my certificate in conflict resolution at the University of Windsor faculty of law.
Building strong and healthy communities is foundational to the well-being of individuals and to the success of future generations. I am seeking a position as a member of the Erie St. Clair LHIN board in order to contribute to the strategic planning process that sets the priorities, assigns resources and aligns and provides coherence to the provision of health care in our region. I am confident that my skills and personal attributes as an experienced system leader who has dedicated a steadfast commitment to health and well-being in my community and across the province will continue to build upon the strong foundation of excellence in health care provided in the province of Ontario.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Crawford. Now we will start the questioning with Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: How are you?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Fine, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good. I’m going to give you a little background, just so we can kind of feel like we know each other extremely well.
My oldest daughter works in the Catholic education sector with special-needs children. My middle daughter is a teacher at a Catholic school in Mr. Bradley’s riding of St. Catharines. My daughter went to Saint Mike’s Catholic school. My wife was a principal who always liked working with her superintendents. We used to have lots of conversations around the superintendents. I just thought I’d give you a little history around my education part.
I understand that you have extensive experience in the education sector, obviously. Having served as a superintendent of education at the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, could you discuss the reasons that you’re seeking this appointment for the Erie St. Clair LHIN?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I’m seeking the appointment to the board of directors for the LHIN because I have a very strong belief in the need for a coordinated, strategic approach to health care in our region. As a superintendent and as a community member in the Erie St. Clair region, there are a number of very concerning issues that our LHIN has been working on over time and the province has been working on over time. I feel that I can bring the skills and the relationships that I’ve developed through education, working with families, my own personal experience as a parent and a daughter using the health care system in this area. Having come from Toronto originally and living in this area now for 15 years, I can see that there are a lot of gaps that exist. These are causing families and children to struggle, and I feel that the need for an integrated system of health care is essential.
I feel that I have a lot of skills and a lot of relationships, and a lot of experience in dealing with community and bringing together community to work together for a common goal. I think that the common goal that we need to work together for at this time is the health and well-being of our families and our seniors.
Mr. Wayne Gates: We all get to the seniors as we go through.
For the past year, we as MPPs have been questioned and have met with many individuals regarding medical assistance in dying. We have heard from groups both for and against the legislation introduced at the provincial level regarding this issue. Could you discuss how you feel the province can best address medical assistance in dying in the health care system?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I think the province has been working with our medical providers and our hospitals to come to an understanding around the need for this, the desire for this across the system, as well as the personal opinions of some of the people providing medical help in our communities and our hospitals. I think they’ve arrived at an understanding, working in the hospital systems, working in the private practices, around the ability for choice and respect for choice within the legislation of the province of Ontario. I think that that has been resolved at the provincial level.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, thank you. Today I asked previous appointees being appointed to the Waterloo Wellington LHIN this question; I think it’s important to also ask you. In my riding of Niagara Falls, I have voiced concerns regarding the resource allocation decisions by the LHINs, particularly in the area of front-line workers. What challenge do you believe the Erie St. Clair LHIN currently has, and what do you feel the board should do to address those challenges?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Regarding front-line workers specifically or challenges overall?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Front-line workers and challenges within the LHIN that you’re applying for.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Oh, okay. I know at this particular time that the transition of the CCACs to the LHINs is taking place and has been taking place since May. Any time you’re integrating a large organization under another large organization, there are the struggles that occur with that, but my understanding, from working with people in the community, is that this transition is moving along.
The Erie St. Clair LHIN has specific challenges. It is an area that has a larger rural population than would be typical of the rest of Ontario. Distance is a concern, and access to good medical care for some of the smaller rural towns. There is an 18% senior citizen population, which has given us a chronic illness situation as far as capacity to deal with people and their ongoing concerns around chronic illnesses that are related to their age. As well, we have problems with obesity, COPD and a number of other chronic illnesses in our area.
You’ll see that access to primary medical care has been a problem. There is overuse of our emergency departments in our hospitals. There is a lack of education around healthy living in our communities. Our childhood obesity rates are up. Smoking in that area is higher than average for the province.
A lot of these types of concerns are very much a challenge to the LHIN. I think that moving forward with the Patients First addition to the legislation, bringing in consultation from the public and focusing on access to good medical care and voices from the community—the LHIN has plans in place now for the next three years to try to address some of these problems.
Mr. Wayne Gates: My concern, quite frankly, is that the dollars aren’t getting to front-line workers. The pie is only so big, and if you continue to give it to CEOs and all those others, nothing is getting to the front line, and that’s where it’s needed.
An example of that in your catchment area, including Windsor: The Windsor Regional Hospital experienced significant over-capacity issues during the winter in 2016-17, leading to the cancelling of surgeries and the overflowing of emergency rooms. That’s a big issue. I know it’s a challenge, and I know they’re talking about maybe building another hospital out there, but a hospital is 10 years away.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: That’s right.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Make no mistake about it. I’m going through it in Niagara Falls. We made a big announcement almost four years ago: A hospital is coming. Well, there are no shovels in the ground. Windsor is in the same boat—a huge issue there.
We cannot have people in the hallways, particularly a loved one. If it’s a loved one—or anybody in a hallway, but it really hits home if it’s one of yours and you’re saying, “What’s going on?” Until you see it, you don’t realize it is going on.
I know that if I’m having a surgery, there’s a lot of stress around that, leading up to surgeries. Then all of a sudden, you get a phone call: “Your surgery has been cancelled.” That’s a big issue in the Windsor hospital. I just thought I’d raise that with you. It’s part of my notes.
I’ve talked about this before, and I’m going to ask you this question because I think it’s fair. You were in a position of real leadership. You had a lot of responsibility in the job that you did. But I also know that you weren’t paid $500,000 to do your job, and you were dealing with a lot of things. The NDP has continued to call for a cap on CEO salaries. We’re the only party that has. When I took a look at the notes that were given to me here, the CEO was let go or replaced or whatever—he was terminated, anyway, for whatever the reasons were. He got 23 months as severance, which worked out to be $572,000. Do you think it’s fair or reasonable that somebody would get that kind of money to walk away from a job? I’m shocked at that. But, again, I thought I’d raise that with you.
You’re going to be there. You’re going to be dealing with these types of things. You’re going to be dealing with CEO salaries. They’re out of line. It’s wrong, what’s going on. Maybe you can answer that, if you can and if you want to. I know you didn’t make that call.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: No, I didn’t make that decision. There was a great amount of upset across all of the communities in southwestern Ontario. Certainly, the oversight of salaries is a priority for the LHIN. The money needs to go to the front line; it needs to go to the patients.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I agree with you. CEO salaries are wrong. The CEO of Hydro is getting $5 million a year, and I’ve got seniors who can’t pay their hydro bill. We have to address it. Like I said, we’ve tried to do it through putting legislation in place, but unfortunately, we haven’t got the support yet. I think you understand where I’m going there. I think most residents and most people who are fair, reasonable and understand how hard it is to live day to day believe that that’s unfair.
I only have like 10 seconds left—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Fifteen.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It was a pleasure meeting you. Thanks for your contribution to Catholic education.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Thank you, sir.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We’ll now turn to the government side. You have six minutes and 25 seconds left. Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Just out of interest, as a former member of OECTA myself, a union member—
Mr. Wayne Gates: All right!
Mr. Mike Colle: I was union rep back in the day. We walked out one year. Anyway, what high school did you go to in Toronto? I noticed you’re from Toronto.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: First I went to St. Basil’s college and then I went to West Humber collegiate in Rexdale.
Mr. Mike Colle: Up there on Weston Road, St. Basil’s.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Yes.
Mr. Mike Colle: The old St. Basil’s school. Yes; good school. It’s still there, I think, in a new building.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Yes, I think so. Since I was there.
Mr. Mike Colle: And Weston collegiate, right?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: West Humber, in northern Etobicoke, in Rexdale.
Mr. Mike Colle: Oh, West Humber. Okay. Again, I’m just interested in your Catholic education background.
We did a provincial tour on LHIN reorganization. Every 10 years you have to do it. We did it two years ago. We found that a lot of people out there don’t understand or relate to the LHIN. Any ideas of how to better explain what the role and functions of this coordinating local body are and to connect with people?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I would agree with you. I think that overall there’s a lack of understanding of the work that the LHIN does. I know that in the strategy going forward for the Erie St. Clair LHIN, one of their goals is to do some education in the communities to try and deepen the understanding of the importance of the LHIN as far as oversight as well as the power that the LHIN has to bring coherence to the health system. I think that the work that they’re going to be doing around reaching out to the public with consultation with patients and families: I think that will bring that forward as well. I would agree that in past years people have had trouble understanding the work of the LHIN. So I think this strategic plan that is in place for the next three years will bring a greater understanding in our communities.
Mr. Mike Colle: You have a huge job ahead of you with the elimination of the CCACs; you’ve got to take that on.
I’ve just found over the years that it’s very difficult to explain to people that all the front-line workers have to be organized, utilized properly, paid and administered. We don’t want front-line people to be doing that work, really. We need backup people to do that so they can stay with the patients. I think that’s the real challenge in trying to explain that, because people appreciate the nurse who’s at the bedside, and the doctor, but they don’t appreciate all the people who are doing the lab tests behind the scenes, but they’ve got to be there too, right? They’re sort of the faceless part of health care.
Anyway, good luck. It’s a hard job. Thanks for continuing to offer your services to the people of Ontario.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mr. Anderson?
Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you for putting your name forward as well, Ms. Crawford. I also have a Catholic background. I was a Catholic school board trustee for 11 years, and my dad was a Catholic teacher, so thank you. I know the hard work you put in and the service you put in towards education overall in the province.
With the elimination of the CCACs—that’s one level of bureaucracy that we are trying to get rid of so that more money can go to front-line services. Would you agree with that?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Yes, I would. I’m working with the special needs strategy. That is the goal: to bring more coordinated care to the people.
Mr. Granville Anderson: Okay. Thank you very much, again, for doing it.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We’ll now turn the questioning over to Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for putting your name forward and coming to visit with us today. As I read your background, I thought it was something very unique about putting education and health care that you bring to the table—because when you look at the responsibilities that you have undertaken as a superintendent in the school system, this is like taking those skills and putting them into health care.
From that, I came up with an open-ended question for you, and that is, when you look at health and education as the two drivers of an enormous amount of money and an enormous amount of resources—as a province and our commitment to people in general; but health and education are certainly up there. So my question for you is: In terms of taking on the responsibility as a member of the LHIN, what things, what resources, what issues stand out in your mind as you move your focus from the superintendent of education to the LHIN? Can you suggest as many as three things that you feel are priorities, that are challenges, that you would want to champion?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I am very interested in working on mental health and addictions. I have seen the carry-over of that into the education system. Working in the education system, there are gaps when we interface with health and MCYS as well. So there needs to be coordinated work between the ministries. I think, bringing that view forward from education, that there are interconnections that we need to manage, pathways to care that need to be in place, and suicide prevention protocols that go from the family to the school to the hospitals to the mental health support area. I would say that that is one area.
The other piece I’m interested in is with Patients First, the interface between public health and the Ministry of Health. With the LHIN, that is an opportunity to do some proactive work to bring people the education that they need to make good choices for lifestyle and that will fulfill a better level of health and make good choices that are well informed for their own health care.
The third piece that I’m interested in working for is seniors. I think that with the number of seniors we have in our area we need to coordinate care in a more appropriate fashion so that we’re not bringing seniors into emergency with chronic conditions that could be treated. We have paramedics right now on one pilot where they’re moving around to work with seniors in a knock-on-the-door type of protocol to make sure people are okay before it becomes something that needs to be cared for in an emergency or inappropriately brought to an emergency.
I think those are three areas and all of them interface and interconnect. I think the experience I’ve had in education and the experience I’ve had as a parent and a daughter of a senior who needed to use the health system in southwestern Ontario have helped me to make those three areas something that I really am committed to work forward on.
Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m sure that the people in your community would like to hear that response. But I have another question and that is simply that—there’s always the elephant in the room. There’s always the question of funding. I wondered if you could indicate to us any knowledge you have in terms of the funding for the three that you’ve mentioned, because I think everyone in this room would agree with you on your choice, but when you look at the whole notion of the LHIN, it’s pre-supposed on a very great deal of money. Is there, in your mind, a priority of the three in terms of funding?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: The Erie St. Clair LHIN manages about $1.14 billion, which is an awful lot of money. The majority of the money goes to hospitals, so I think that part of the priority in the strategic plan is to look at the emergencies, the use of emergencies. Mental health and addictions are also a priority but one that would have less funds attributed to it. I would say it’s probably around 20% of the funding. As well as seniors—I’m not exactly sure of the percentage of funding that has been attributed in the file. I don’t have the budget in front of me, but they certainly are priorities of the Erie St. Clair LHIN. Hospitals being funded at the greatest extent and working to coordinate services between hospitals and community health care facilities and primary care physicians—it’s all part of that parcel.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Bill Walker: How much time?
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mr. Walker, you have four minutes.
Mr. Bill Walker: Many people in our riding, certainly in my riding, when it’s regarding the LHIN, ask particularly in regard to the CCAC and the LHIN mergers, why so many resources in admin but nothing, really, that they can see evidence of going to the front line. You’ve referenced mental health, which I think is almost pandemic across our province. One of your goals was to contribute to the strategic planning process. Do you believe that once you’re there and you get comfortable and you understand the process and the systems, that if you have a belief as a board that mental health is where you’re going and you want to shift those roles from the governance structure that you’ve been given to adopt into more front-line mental health—is that something you believe you should be able to do?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I think it’s something that we have to do. I think that the purpose of the LHIN is to do some strategic planning that looks at integration and coordination of resources to try to get the most for our money and to ensure that the work that’s being done is aligned and coordinated. Looking at one of those strategies is looking at breaking the actual area down into smaller units so that you can even be more strategic in the work you’re doing in those smaller areas. Our particular LHIN is broken into four areas.
I think it’s possible to move our focus to the front line to bring the care to the people, but I think you have to look at how we can address these things on a multiple level of strategies because you’re going to have to look at education with the long view in front of you, that you want to do some preventive work—the same with mental health. There’s a lot of preventive work that can be done that needs to be going on at the same time as you’re looking at cutting costs and at efficiencies and accountability. We need to audit. We need to make sure that best practice is in place, that we’re using best practice in that communication, and that the work that’s being done is very transparent to the community so that we can build some trust.
Mr. Bill Walker: Similarly, near and dear to my heart is long-term care. I’m the long-term care, seniors and accessibility critic.
Again, one of the roles, I believe, as a community representative is pushing the government. There were no dollars in the most recent budget for long-term care, and yet we have 26,500 people on a waiting list. I don’t know all the stats for every LHIN. But again, if you identify that there’s a huge need, I think you’re also the advocate of the people going back to the ministry. You’re not just there to take their marching orders.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I think the role of the board is to know the community, listen to the community and respond to the needs of the community. It has to be done in as clear and transparent a way—and fiduciary responsibility has to be primary.
Mr. Bill Walker: You’ve slightly touched on it, but it was one of my questions: the whole idea of including the public health unit, because at times it’s in a silo, and we’re over here as a LHIN.
I think what I heard you say was, you’re supportive that they should be rolled into one and both should be within—
Ms. Deborah Crawford: They should be working together, because the goals should be virtually the same. They’re in aid of each other.
Mr. Bill Walker: And as far as them being melded into one? Or do you see them just having a collaborative working relationship—
Ms. Deborah Crawford: At this point, they would be under different legislation, but there is a mandate for more collaboration between the two.
Mr. Bill Walker: So not pushing as far as one mandate and they’re merged?
Ms. Deborah Crawford: I would have to look and see if that would be possible. You wouldn’t want to lose the ability of public health—
Mr. Bill Walker: Sure.
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Right?
Mr. Bill Walker: And that’s exactly why I’m asking, for sure. I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t; I just—
Ms. Deborah Crawford: Because public health is on a municipal level.
Mr. Bill Walker: Great. Okay, thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Crawford. That concludes the time for the questioning. At this time, I’ll ask you to step down. We are going to consider all the concurrences following all of the interviews later on this afternoon. Thank you very much.
Mr. Richard Makuch
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party and third party: Richard Makuch, intended appointee as vice-chair, Ontario Municipal Board (Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario).
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Mr. Richard Makuch, who is nominated as vice-chair, Ontario Municipal Board (Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario).
Please come forward, Mr. Makuch. Thank you very much for being here. Welcome. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questioning. Thank you very much, Mr. Makuch. You may begin.
Mr. Richard Makuch: Thank you, Madam Chair and honourable members of this committee. I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to answer questions respecting my candidacy for the position of vice-chair, Ontario Municipal Board.
Bonjour, madame la Présidente et membres du comité. Je vous remercie pour l’opportunité de comparaître devant vous aujourd’hui pour répondre à vos questions concernant ma candidature pour le poste de vice-président à la Commission des affaires municipales de l’Ontario.
As you probably have seen from my curriculum vitae, I have quite a varied background as a lawyer in both the private and public sectors. After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in 1979, I articled with a small bilingual law firm in the former municipality of Vanier, now part of the city of Ottawa. I was called to the bar in 1981. I joined the legal department of the National Energy Board of Canada as a bilingual counsel, where I provided advice to the chair and members as to statutory powers and jurisdiction. Part of my responsibilities at the board were to be counsel at hearings in both official languages across the country concerning large energy projects of national significance and also appearing in the Federal Court of Appeal.
I then spent a couple of years in private practice and then moved on to become the city solicitor at the city of Gloucester, which has since been amalgamated into the city of Ottawa. At the city of Gloucester, I sat on the senior management committee and was responsible for the management of the city’s legal department. I appeared before the Superior Court of Ontario and the Divisional Court as well as the Ontario Municipal Board on a regular basis, representing the city’s interests.
I then returned to private practice, which brought me to a mid-sized law firm in Ottawa, where I practised in the field of municipal planning and development law. In that capacity, I represented a number of individuals and community groups and some companies as well as municipalities on a regular basis before the Ontario Municipal Board.
In 1994, I returned to the public sector, joining the National Transportation Agency as senior legal counsel, appearing at a number of hearings across the country dealing with a large range of transportation undertakings, including rail line abandonment applications, Coasting Trade Act matters, and licensing matters under the Aeronautics Act. Again, I frequently appeared as counsel for the agency in the Federal Court of Canada.
I also spent a couple of years with the federal Department of Justice, seconded to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, as part of the team negotiating an implementation agreement to the 1975 James Bay and northern Quebec treaty with the Cree and Inuit communities of northern Quebec. In my capacity at that time, I was involved in a fair bit of mediation with the native communities across the country on issues that arose.
In 1998, I was appointed to the Ontario Municipal Board as a member, and stayed until 2006. During that time, I presided over quite a number of large and small hearings as well as mediations in both languages, French and English.
In December 2006, I was appointed as deputy commissioner of the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals, under the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act, where I was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the tribunal, including member training, particularly in the areas of decision-writing and hearing best practices.
In September 2012, I returned to the Ontario Municipal Board as a member. In November 2013, I was appointed as well, on a part-time basis, to the Assessment Review Board to conduct mediation.
The experience I have accumulated to date in my career has reinforced my belief in a fair, impartial and independent system of administrative justice where all parties who have an interest in a matter can appear before the tribunal and feel confident that their concerns will be heard and carefully considered by the board. I think it’s an imperative.
I’ve always taken my responsibilities very seriously. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take my responsibilities seriously and, I think, in an honest, serious manner, doing it conscientiously.
Having said that, I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have as to my candidature. Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Makuch. We will now begin questions with Mr. Qaadri. You have about five and a half minutes left.
M. Shafiq Qaadri: Merci beaucoup, monsieur Makuch, pour votre présence et votre députation. Nous espérons que le peuple de l’Ontario va bénéficier de votre contribution. Merci beaucoup.
M. Richard Makuch: Merci, monsieur.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any further questions from the government side? Yes, Mr. Bradley.
Mr. James J. Bradley: There is a perception amongst those who lose cases that the OMB should be abolished, and those who win cases see the virtue of having the OMB.
The government has been dealing with the issue of changes to the OMB for some period of time. Do you have any general observations that you would make about how the system could be improved? Or are you simply in a position of only dealing with that which exists at the present time? You’ve had some experience. I’d be interested in knowing how it can be improved.
There are a couple of things that arise. One is, there are those who feel that it tends to be pro-development and that the average person doesn’t have the opportunity to stand up to the developers, lawyers and paid consultants. The other side feels that they don’t have that same advantage.
So I’ll let you deal with that—and we’ll see if there is any more time—about the inequity that exists between those who have money and those who don’t, in this process.
Mr. Richard Makuch: Yes, it certainly has been an issue for people. As a board member, I’ve always strived, and my colleagues as well—you have to deal with what’s in front of you, the evidence that is before you. You deal with it, and you deal with it in the best way that you can, in terms of giving people that opportunity to have a fair hearing where we apply the rules of procedural fairness, or what we used to refer to as the rules of natural justice. There are winners and losers in all of these, but I think being able to provide a fair hearing, following those rules, is important.
In terms of levelling the playing field, quite often some of the most difficult hearings that we can get involved in are where one side is very well represented and the other side isn’t so well represented. Trying to balance the playing field, you have to be very careful in doing that, where you don’t, as an adjudicator who is supposed to be fair, independent and impartial, appear to tip that scale a little too far in one direction, where you may be seen as an advocate of one side or the other. Again, it’s a very difficult balancing act achieving that and doing that. I always try my best to apply those rules. I always explain to people that these rules of procedural fairness and natural justice are the rules of engagement, so that everybody has an opportunity to put their case before the board and has an opportunity to test the other side’s case.
I think the board has made great strides in terms of the mediation program that it carries out in terms of trying to get parties to come together and resolve their issues between themselves prior to an adversarial hearing, or at least to scope those issues to a certain point where there’s as little as possible left for the board to adjudicate on, because I think people are generally a lot happier with something that they can agree to than something that’s imposed on them by a third party. Again, I think the mediation efforts have been excellent at the board.
Certainly you would note from my presentation that I was with the board from 1998 to 2006. In 1998, mediation was just starting at that time. When I came back in 2012, I was impressed. I was quite happy to see—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): One minute left.
Mr. Richard Makuch: —that the board had taken the steps and made the advances that it had in terms of mediation.
Mr. James J. Bradley: Do you think that there is a possibility that, from time to time, when municipal councils make decisions that they know will go to the OMB, the decision is not to make a decision so that they know that the OMB will do what they are not prepared to
do? Or would you prefer, as an adjudicator, not to comment on that?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I don’t think it would be my place. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on that.
Mr. James J. Bradley: I guessed that might be the case. Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): And you also ran out of time, so thank you very much, Mr. Bradley.
We’re now going to turn over the questioning to Ms. Munro, please.
Mrs. Julia Munro: I just wanted to follow where you left off. It seems to me, on the issue of the municipal role, that there is not a fulsome understanding of the process for people who want to be able to have their voice heard. That doesn’t go quite as far as the member opposite, but as an elected official, I’m frequently asked about the OMB and how we should get rid of it. When you pursue the questions of the people who are expressing those concerns, it has more to do with not understanding the process and the possibility of the council letting something go by that they don’t have to respond to. In your case, did you feel that people were not well enough informed when you saw them in the previous time you were in this role?
Mr. Richard Makuch: That certainly does occur—that either people don’t have the time or the resources. They file an appeal, or they get notice of the proceeding before the board and show up at the hearing and want to be made a party or a participant to the hearing. I can say that sometimes it does happen that people do show up and are not well informed, and I think the process as a whole could benefit from people being more educated about the process, and those people taking some responsibility for themselves and taking the time to familiarize themselves with the rules.
I think the board’s practice has been to be open and to make it easy for people to show up at the board and make their presentations and advocate their positions in terms of what they are looking for in terms of a remedy from the board as a result of the hearing. But more education of such people would be helpful.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Can I ask you, then, should you be appointed to this board, would you be willing to encourage any direction, whether it comes from the government in terms of a new OMB or it’s done internally as a member of the board, to advocate for a process that is a little better, easily understood, to be able to get information on how to proceed, pamphlets or something like that? I would just ask you if you would be willing to encourage that kind of direction.
Mr. Richard Makuch: I think I would take my direction from the executive chair of ELTO as well as the associate chair, but certainly I would want to make my views known to my colleagues as to how I see the process unfolding and what improvements we can make to that.
In my former capacity as a deputy commissioner of review tribunals, when I first came in there we had a very high adjournment rate, which was, again, very costly to taxpayers. So we implemented an appeals management system. We did a fair bit of work speaking to representatives who represented these appellants to the tribunal, and had discussions with the federal ministry responsible for those programs, as well as our own people, our case workers. We found that the reason the adjournment rate was so high was that people weren’t prepared. They would show up at a hearing and they didn’t have all of the information. They weren’t ready. What was worse is that they didn’t know what it meant to be ready for a hearing.
We undertook an education process with representatives. We went out into communities across the country and met with people who represented appellants before the tribunal and we sorted the appeals into different categories and were able to reduce that adjournment rate. We found that people who did appear, over the course of a few years, turned out to be much better prepared to present their cases and much more effective.
Mr. Bill Walker: Are you supportive of the current changes, as proposed, to eliminate the OMB as it currently exists?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I have to say that I really don’t think it would be appropriate for me to say that. I don’t know exactly what—I have not read the legislation.
Mr. Bill Walker: Let me change it slightly—and I appreciate that; I don’t mean to put you on the spot. Do you think there could be potentially more impact on the process, and certainly more court cases? One of the ones that we’re talking about—and you would, I trust, have been very involved in this—is the 2015 one in Ottawa where it was challenged in regard to the decision to not allow the height of buildings. Are you concerned that some of the changes might actually move to more court challenges?
Mr. Richard Makuch: Good question. I don’t think I can answer that. I think that decision spoke for itself. That was my decision. It was upheld. I don’t think I can add anything to that.
Mr. Bill Walker: And where I’m coming from—I have many people on both sides of the coin coming at it. Some are saying it’s a good thing. Many municipal councils are thinking short-term, four years; they are making decisions based on their term of government, as opposed to the long term and the big picture. You have lots of other people coming and saying, as my esteemed colleague referenced, that many municipal councils don’t want to make a decision, and that becomes a challenge and it comes to the OMB.
So I’m just trying to filter through many of these things. Of the proposed changes, I’m hearing some good things, but I’m also trying to sit back and say, is it going to have some unintended consequences? And certainly, if we clog our courts up because we’ve taken this tack, then are we really moving forward?
That’s more where I was trying to get your sense of, do you see this as an enhanced—you’ve run the board once. You came back now, and this is yet another move in a different direction.
Mr. Richard Makuch: Again, I have not read the legislation, so it would be very difficult for me to comment on that.
Mr. Bill Walker: I realize you’re in kind of a tenable position. Is there anything you would have liked to have seen? If you were writing that piece of proposed legislation, were there things that you would have said, “You know what, this is”—and to my colleague Julia Munro’s thought process, maybe that whole education component. Is it strong enough? Is it truly making sure that we meet the criteria so that there is efficiency and we’re not wasting any more tax dollars than some would say we already do?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I think any such system to educate people, potential appellants or parties before the board, will require the expenditure of some public monies to do that, because I’m sure that money is not going to come from the private sector, but maybe overall it may make the system much more efficient. But I’m not sure.
Mr. Bill Walker: Right. And any changes you think, again, if you were writing that legislation from day one? Is there anything that you’d say, “You know what, we really could make it better by doing this, this or this”?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I have really not addressed my mind to that—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Two minutes.
Mr. Richard Makuch: I’m sorry?
Mr. Bill Walker: Just two minutes left.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Two minutes. Sorry.
Mr. Richard Makuch: Oh. I have not addressed my mind to that. My responsibilities: I get my jurisdiction, as a member of the board, from the OMB Act, as well as the Planning Act and others—the Expropriations Act, the Development Charges Act. I apply that legislation to the cases before me.
Mr. Bill Walker: Do you think—and certainly up to your current status now—it truly serves a balance of that broader, big-picture provincial need and also that local flexible need? Do you think it currently does that, the way it’s structured?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I’m not sure that I understand that.
Mr. Bill Walker: The way the current structure is—
Mr. Richard Makuch: Of the board?
Mr. Bill Walker: Yes. From the board’s perspective, they’re looking at the big view, as well as respecting that there is enough local autonomy that local councils can deal with it. Then if it doesn’t get resolved, it comes to you. Are you comfortable with the way it has been working?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I’m comfortable with the way it has been working. Yes. As any system, it could stand to gain from some efficiencies and things. I think that whole mediation program that the board undertook and the case management system—I can remember the days when I first started practising in the area of municipal law, it would take 18 months to get an appeal heard. If you wanted to delay a project for someone, if you were opposed to something, you could file an appeal knowing that the whole thing would be stalled for 18 months. That whole process now is, I’d say, much more efficient with the case management mediation, where cases get on fairly quickly.
For both the proponents and individuals in the community—it’s stressful for individuals in the community to have something out there outstanding, something they’re afraid of, they’re not sure is going to be to their benefit, and to get that resolved in a more expeditious—
Mr. Bill Walker: So one key—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Makuch. That ends the time here.
We’ll now flip the questions over to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: How are you doing, sir?
Mr. Richard Makuch: Very well, thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’ve got to tell you, this is interesting, the OMB. I’m going to tell you—and it’s something that happened in my Niagara Falls riding—why we had to take a look at the OMB.
Elected councillors make a decision based on being—one, they’re elected to represent the entire community. In Niagara Falls, on Thorold Stone Road and Kalar, there’s a corner. It goes like this. There was a proponent that wanted to have a gas station there. Right behind where he’s putting his gas station, you’ll never guess what there was. Take a guess. A school; a school.
Now, we just discussed for how many weeks talking about school safety zones?
The entire elected council said no, because of the school and the safety of the school. The proponent took that to the OMB, and guess what happened? The OMB overruled the council. Do you know what’s there today, right where the school is, every day, while kids are going to school? There’s a service station.
It’s why we had to take a look at the OMB. Those types of decisions were wrong, where unelected people are making decisions based on what’s best for a community that they may have never been to. That was just an example of one.
Mr. Wayne Gates: What’s that?
Mr. James J. Bradley: What gas station was it?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Well, I’m not going to say what gas station it was, because I don’t think that would be fair or balanced.
Then, when you talk about you like to make sure that it’s fair, well I’ll tell you, there’s nothing fair when a developer and a lawyer who understand the process and somebody like myself, who knows it’s wrong for my community, go to the OMB, and to your point, show up—and I might not know the process. There are a number of issues around that. A lot of times, the developer is going to win. The OMB has been used by developers for years to get what they want done. It’s not that the council is not making a decision. That may happen in the odd case, but the reality is, the council is making the decision. The proponent knows that he’ll just take it to the OMB and win because he knows that they have more money and better lawyers than the person.
The back part of that is, the elected reps who are making those decisions then have to use taxpayers’ money to fight the decision that goes to the OMB. I’m not so sure there is anything fair and balanced with the OMB. That’s just a statement. I apologize for doing a statement.
I’ll give you a question so you can do a rebuttal on some of the stuff that I said. I understand that you have been with the OMB since 2012. Since then, the government has proposed several changes to the OMB. Could you comment on these changes and how this may address some of the concerns municipalities have had with the OMB?
Mr. Richard Makuch: Again, Mr. Gates, I have not read the legislation, so to ask me to comment on those changes—I don’t have enough knowledge about that to comment on that. I’m not sure that it would be appropriate for me to comment.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That’s fair; it’s a fair response. I’ll read this again. If you have that same response, I’m fine with that. I was up all night doing these questions for you, and I apologize that they didn’t jive with something you could answer.
It is likely that the proposed legislation will pass. With all the experience that you have had with the OMB—and you’ve had a lot—could you discuss how you could provide leadership to the board in this time of transition? Do you believe that there will be any challenges to these changes?
Mr. Richard Makuch: Firstly, in terms of once the legislation is passed, I will have to, as a board member, hopefully, if I am successful here in my capacity as a vice-chair of the Ontario Municipal Board—take a leadership role to become familiar with the new legislation and what the board’s mandate, powers and jurisdiction are, and to assist my fellow board members in terms of understanding it, applying it and understanding what the intent and purpose of the legislation is, and apply that jurisdiction properly, as I do now as a member under the current jurisdiction that the board has to continue in that vein.
Mr. Wayne Gates: In some of the notes that I was given on how the cases are resolved, they did talk about mediation. The one thing that I think mediation has done is that somebody—I’ll use my own name—Wayne Gates goes to mediation, and then it’s explained to him that I don’t really have an appeal. So there’s no reason to even go further with a hearing because I’m only going to lose. So the mediation part—I’ve done that through my union and said, “Hey, listen, this is what really is out there.”
I think some of the mediation may work, but when you take a look at the process itself, when you have to get into pre-hearings and into hearings, the cost to a resident is just too much money. That’s why you end up with some of the stuff you have and that’s why they don’t have lawyers when they go to these. So I think the mediation can work on the education part and they’ll know exactly what their legal rights are. I think that’s where the mediation may come in, but as far as the pre-hearings and the hearings, it’s just a cost, and developers have a lot more money than most people have when it comes to this stuff.
Then I took a look at the caseload. It’s talking, in 2015-16, about 2,437 caseloads. The largest number of cases—I’ll repeat that; the largest number of cases; 74%—were in the central region, which is really comprised of the GTA. Why do you think that is?
Mr. Richard Makuch: I think the majority of the population in the province is in this area. There’s a lot of immigration to this country, and a lot of it is coming to this area, I believe. These applications, I think, are in response to the pressures of development in those areas needing additional housing, municipal services and all of those things that go along with that. I guess, to venture, that that’s why most of the applications are in this area.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Why do you think, then, the Toronto council is calling for changes to the OMB? They’re facing the same thing that every other municipality is. They’re elected, they are making decisions, and their decisions just go to the OMB. In a lot of cases, they’re going to the OMB and they’re losing. They don’t believe the process is in the best interests of their residents.
I think the big issue with most people when they talk to the OMB is that you have an elected body and an unelected body. I think that’s where the big concern is with municipalities on the OMB.
That’s probably my opinion. I was a city councillor, sir, for a number of years. It was very frustrating. I wasn’t sitting as a councillor of Niagara Falls at that time, with the situation with the gas station. That would be very frustrating to me: that the residents of my community put their trust in me to make a decision, I make the decision, and then it’s just overturned. I know—because I live in that community—that it’s a wrong decision by the OMB.
I understand how the OMB works. The lawyer puts the presentation thing. They do it by the law. You have to rule on what has been presented to you. I get all that. But I just think it’s a mistake.
I don’t have a lot of questions more—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): About a minute and a half.
Mr. Wayne Gates: A minute and a half?
First of all, I guess I’ll just say thanks very much for coming. I appreciate all of the answers that you gave me. But I think that changes to the OMB have to happen for the betterment of communities right across the province of Ontario. I hope that, when you’re sitting on the board, you participate in that and make sure that the communities are safe when decisions are being made that affect their kids and their grandkids.
Thank you very much, sir. It was my pleasure.
Mr. Richard Makuch: Thank you, sir.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Makuch. You may step down. That concludes the time for this interview.
We will be considering the concurrences following all of the interviews this afternoon.
We will now take our break until 1 p.m. The committee is recessed until 1 p.m.
The committee recessed from 1202 to 1305.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome back. We are now going to continue with our committee and intended appointees this afternoon.
Mr. Michael Lio
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party and third party: Michael Lio, intended appointee as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee this afternoon is Mr. Michael Lio, who is nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Please come forward, Mr. Lio, and take your seat at the table. Welcome, and thank you very much for being here. It’s great to see you again.
You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questions. You may begin, Mr. Lio.
Mr. Michael Lio: Very good. Thank you. Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the standing committee. My name is Michael Lio. I’d first like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before the standing committee. It’s my pleasure to introduce myself to you and to answer any questions that you may have today.
I recently applied to sit on the board of the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. I noticed the position on the PAS website and thought that there was a fit, so I applied. I think I understand why the organization was formed and the objects of the corporation, specifically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and from the production of goods. I’m ready to offer what I can to help realize this important goal. I’ve spent my entire career working on improving the performance of buildings, and I would be pleased to help Ontario transition to a low-carbon economy.
Let me first give you a snapshot of my background. As I’m sure you’ve read, I’m a professional engineer. I did my graduate work in building science at the University of Toronto. I am president of a Toronto-based consultancy that’s focused on improving building performance. We work with builders, with designers, with building officials, with utilities and with government. Indeed, we work with the entire building ecosystem. We promote innovation in building practices to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Let me tell you about some of our work.
We’ve been responsible for every background study that has supported changes to the housing energy efficiency requirements in the Ontario building code since 1990. Most recently, we’ve built the regulatory path to net-zero housing for the provincial government. We understand building technology and construction practice. We understand market barriers to change. That understanding allows our firm to act as a catalyst for change.
I’m proud that over my 30-year career we’ve cut the energy consumption of new housing in half. I can think of no other consumer product that has improved so much without requiring a corresponding change in how we interact with it.
My company piloted the first EnerGuide ratings in houses in the province. As president of EnerQuality Corp., I helped to bring Energy Star for new houses to Ontario. Both programs have been instrumental in making Ontario’s new housing the best in the entire world.
I wrote the vision paper that helped to establish EnerQuality Corp. as Canada’s largest energy efficiency service organization for housing. I chaired its board, and at one point was recruited back by its shareholders to lead and restructure the organization.
Recently, with support from Natural Resources Canada, my company managed a project that saw the construction of five net-zero communities across the country. We worked with some of the largest builders from across Canada to double the total number of net-zero houses built in Canada. I hope that in my lifetime the construction and retrofit of net-zero buildings will be commonplace and that we will have reached that ultimate target.
I taught sustainable housing at Ryerson for 12 years. I subsequently moved to the graduate program at the Daniels faculty of architecture at the University of Toronto and taught building science there for 15 more years. After 27 years, I decided to retire.
Aside from my technical background, you should know that I’ve spent my entire career as a consumer advocate. I have been the executive director of the Consumers Council of Canada and the Homeowner Protection Centre of Canada.
You should know that I deeply care that people get full value for the things that they pay for. I think about the eight consumer rights and responsibilities. You may know that President Kennedy introduced the first four consumer rights: the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose and the right to be heard. These have subsequently been expanded to eight. They now include the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to redress, the right to consumer education and the right to a healthy environment. These have guided me as I’ve represented consumers to government and other agencies.
I want to share with you my governance experience. I’ve served on the board of three provincial authorities. I was a ministerial appointee—a Conservative minister, I should add—to the TSSA board; I was a ministerial appointee to the ESA board; and, most recently, I was a ministerial appointee to the Tarion board. In every case, I was a public representative.
You should know that I appreciate the challenges of being a fiduciary of a corporation, and listening and responding to the needs of the government of the day. My board experience extends back to 1995, including 17 years on the voluntary board of the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance. I have experience with almost every board committee. I’ve chaired audit and human resources committees, and currently I’m on the Markham District Energy Inc. board of directors, serving on the government relations committee and on the human resources committee. In 2010, I received my Institute of Corporate Directors designation.
From my perspective, our work on the board should promote a constructive tension with management. I’m aware that we should always follow the board rule of “noses in and fingers out.” Our job as board members is to ask tough questions, to turn over every rock and to work to ensure that the money we’ve pulled out of the economy is spent effectively, that it has produced a demonstrable and equitable benefit, and at the same time that the company is run efficiently and is not wasteful. I think Ontarians expect nothing less.
On a personal note, my wife and I, along with our three boys, live in Thornhill. You can imagine, with three boys, we spend most of our free time as Uber drivers to soccer, piano and part-time jobs. We also try to make a difference in our community. At one point, Madam Chair, you may recall we both served on the parent council at our children’s elementary school.
I think it’s important to give back. Three years ago, I became a voluntary mentor at the engineering Hatchery at the University of Toronto. If you don’t know about it, you should find out about it because it’s a wonderful program for students. The Hatchery gives students an opportunity to transform their business ideas into functioning businesses. We work with student teams to refine their business models and build a robust business plan. This year my group wants to use video game theory to produce a content-rich learning platform that can engage children with ADHD to improve learning outcomes.
Finally, I want to thank the members of the standing committee for inviting me here this afternoon. I suspect that I’ve probably got a little bit of time left but I’m anxious to give each of you an opportunity to ask whatever questions you may have. Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Lio. We will now begin our questioning with Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much, and I appreciate the breadth of the experience you bring to this. We’ve heard various people who have been suggested for this role, but listening to yours was a much fuller extension of all of the areas in which you’ve been active and I certainly appreciate that. I also wrote down “noses in, fingers out.” I thought that was a very important goal for any of those of us who take on those roles in the voluntary sector.
I want to actually go back to a point that was made earlier by one of the people seeking this role—at least, what I got from it, so I want to give that safety for the person who actually said it and says, “She thinks I said what?” I got the impression that in the future, to carry through on those efficiencies that people all aspire to create, it may require a very different approach to planning—that is, municipal planning.
I wondered if you would care to comment on the notion that I got from this, which was that planning has been done on such a big scale that it loses some of the nuances and the strengths of individual communities that could benefit greatly from a smaller look, a smaller study, particularly in providing answers to the energy-efficiency needs that communities have. That was what I got from what I heard. I just wondered if you’d care to comment on that notion.
Mr. Michael Lio: If we’ve got a few hours, I’d love to engage.
I’m working with a landowners group in north Markham to develop a community energy plan. I think you’re absolutely right that there are many levers that exist when it comes to community energy planning. It’s not just about the shell of individual buildings. It’s really the relationship between the buildings, and it’s also how people are integrated among all of those buildings.
I have to tell you that we’ve been reasonably good at engineering the individual buildings. We have not been so good at engineering the relationship between buildings. I have to tell you that we’ve been lousy at integrating the most fundamental part, and that’s how people interact with all of the things around them.
I think the next frontier is understanding people’s behaviour. In our net-zero communities, we made a point of including an on-counter display for every single house, so that homeowners could see the energy that their photovoltaics were generating and how much they were consuming. When they were over-consuming, that provided them with an instant feedback, and they would say, “Our house isn’t net-zero. We need to go turn off the lights.”
It’s the next frontier. It’s understanding how people interact with all of the artifacts around them.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mr. Walker, please?
Mr. Bill Walker: Certainly it’s very impressive, all the studies—20, I think—and different things that you have been engaged in, in just a short period of time.
I guess what I’m trying to get my head around is a couple of things. I asked one of the other applicants this earlier: Do you generally support subsidies to a chosen few, or more across the masses, so that everyone benefits?
Mr. Michael Lio: I have no religious affiliation one way or the other. What I can tell you is that what I will cling to is what’s most effective. I need to see a demonstration of a test as to how that money is going to be spent. In some cases, I have to tell you that targeted, specific incentives to deal with a particular barrier might be better than an overall incentive. I would want to understand—
Mr. Bill Walker: Case by case.
Mr. Michael Lio: —on a case-by-case basis. So I’m not going to make a pronouncement.
Mr. Bill Walker: Sure. That’s where you commented—and I’m quoting—about demonstrable benefits.
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely.
Mr. Bill Walker: You want to see very pragmatic, black and white, what it is, and where we’re at.
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely.
Mr. Bill Walker: It leads me to some of the thought processes in regard to a minister having a directive, and some people said, “Oh, absolutely, he”—or she—“would never do that.” But I think we’ve seen, in my six years, that there are ideologies of certain people who are going down that path.
As a member of this board, if you felt there was something that was ideology versus scientific fact, it sounds to me like you would stand up, ask the tough questions and truly challenge that minister.
Mr. Michael Lio: Ultimately, I think we’re responsible to Ontarians. If you can’t demonstrate it in black-and-white terms, then we’ve failed. You have to be able to demonstrate it.
We’re pulling money out of the economy. In many cases, we’re pulling money out of the pockets of individuals. If you can’t demonstrate that you have been prudent in spending that money, then we’ve failed.
Mr. Bill Walker: Agreed, agreed. Certainly, that was one of the other comments made: “I’m here at the pleasure of the minister.” My suggestion would be that, no, you’re here, the same as us, at the pleasure of the people.
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely.
Mr. Bill Walker: Certainly the minister plays a role, and there are very good ministers and there are ministers who maybe aren’t quite as favourable, in some thoughts, but I think your point here is that it’s the people we’re here to represent and make sure the bang for the buck goes as far as it can for the most people as possible.
The other one, I guess, and I don’t think we’ve talked about it too much, is the deployment of technology. So the other side of this, I think, as I shared with an earlier applicant, is that, particularly in the life sciences and the bio sciences, there’s actually legislation that inhibits, through the procurement process, Ontario-based companies from actually selling to our own government. My hope would be that as you go through that process, you would make sure, not that we can be protectionists—I don’t mean that—but that we should at least let them have a stake in the game and have the ability to play in the game. I find it very challenging when we have them in our own backyard and, when I go to some of their sessions, they are telling me that they are actually starting to think about moving to the States because there they’re very open and welcoming, and here we actually prohibit, through our own archaic processes. So any thought process in regard to any kind of barriers to the research market? You’ve done a lot of research. Is there anything where, right off the bat, you would say, “There are two or three things that I think we as a group can put in place to make sure this is seamless and move forward as quickly as possible”?
Mr. Michael Lio: So you want me to tell you about my report to the provincial government about the path to net-zero?
Mr. Bill Walker: Sure. In two minutes, yes; the elevator version. Three minutes.
Mr. Michael Lio: There’s a host of soft and hard barriers. Barriers with regard to technologies that need to be promoted, need to be demonstrated in the marketplace, need to be debugged: Those are the hard barriers, the hard challenges. Then there are all of the soft challenges that have to do with capacity, with just not knowing. And because of that not knowing, individuals and organizations won’t readily adopt. So you need to be able to introduce, on a risk-free basis, an opportunity for them to get to know these new practices and get to know these new technologies, so they become comfortable with them, so that they’re properly priced. There’s great work to be done in building capacity, as well as promoting specific technologies.
Mr. Bill Walker: And I trust that all that—again, quickly summarizing—goes back to, if you’ve got the black and white in place, you’ve got the detail, you can actually have it so that it’s measurable, and then there’s a much better chance of having success with all of the factors that are out there.
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely.
Mr. Bill Walker: Accountability is absolutely critical. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You still have a minute and a half, Mr. Walker. Anything else, Ms. Munro? No?
Mr. Bill Walker: Thank you very much for all your efforts.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We’ll now pass the questioning on to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hey, how are you? Just a follow-up to my good friends over here, the PCs: You’re talking about the government giving money to corporations or non-corporations. Do you believe the government should have bailed out the auto industry?
Mr. Michael Lio: I have no opinion.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I guess I was just trying to show that there are times when government should invest in certain sectors of the economy, whether it’s the energy file, shipbuilding, the auto industry. I just thought that would be a fair analysis of what you said.
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely. Mr. Gates, if I didn’t think that governments should intervene, then I wouldn’t be presenting myself for this board. I think that there is a role for government. There’s a role for government to promote a specific industrial strategy. There’s a role for government to look after its citizenry. This is what we do in Canada. I think we’re all comfortable with that. I don’t think that there’s any conflict in suggesting that we’re prudent in the way we spend money and going after those opportunities to make our province that much better.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that. The only reason I mentioned the auto sector—I’m out of the auto sector. If we hadn’t given a hand up to the auto sector, not only would we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs but we would have had retirees with no money, too. I thought that was an easy example of a success story that we can take into the energy sector as well, and into shipbuilding and into all the other ones: that sometimes we need to invest to get that investment back in the form of good-paying jobs, whether union or non-union. That’s where I was going with that. I appreciate your answer.
I have spoken to several of your soon-to-be colleagues—because usually anybody that comes before us wins and gets onto the committee; that’s just the way it is.
Mr. Bill Walker: That’s not a win.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s a win. It’s something they have a passion to do and something they have the heart to do and the desire to do. I think that’s a win. So I think that’s a good thing.
I have gotten great insight on how this corporation is planning to function and achieve its goal. I understand that the Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.—that’s quite the name—is a new agency; we all realize that. Could you discuss, in your own words, what you believe the purpose of this organization is, including its primary goals?
Mr. Michael Lio: I think that there is a set of barriers to moving towards a low-carbon economy. We understand some of them, perhaps not all of them. But some of them are soft barriers that you can get at by improving the way information flows, not just to industry but also to individuals, so that they can make the right choices.
There is capacity-building. Within my industry, I know that there’s a disconnect. Most people point to builders and say, “Why don’t you build better?” They don’t recognize that builders don’t build houses; it’s the trades. There’s this great disconnect.
The trades are low-skilled, and nobody is attending to training them so that they can understand how to install a cold climate heat pump, for instance—it’s new on the market, but they don’t know how to do this—or how to wrap an air barrier so that houses are tighter.
There are some real skills. It’s not just understanding the technology, but actually trying it in the field and doing it.
These are the types of activities that I hope the organization actually tends to. There are all of these soft barriers and there are these hard barriers, with regard to actual technology, that we should really get after.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Do you feel that, with your help, there’s an opportunity to create a lot of good-paying jobs, with the role that you’re playing and getting that out into the communities?
Mr. Michael Lio: I think President Trump walking away from the Paris accord gives us a great opportunity in this province to jump ahead, to become North American leaders in clean tech and energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. This is a great opportunity, and we shouldn’t squander it. We don’t get these very often.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You’re right: We don’t get a President Trump very often. I’ll agree with you on that.
Do you think we should be repealing the Green Energy Act?
Mr. Michael Lio: I’ve never given it any thought, Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. It’s just because of what you said around Mr. Trump.
Could you tell me what your role was with Tarion Warranty Corp.?
Mr. Michael Lio: I was on its board for six years. I chaired its human resources and compensation committee. I think that, during my six years, we saw a transformation within the organization. Certainly, with the new CEO, we saw it making great advancements. We were able to re-craft the face of the board so that the board was balanced between builder and non-builder.
I’m proud of my six years there. After six years—I left in 2015—I thought that I had given what I could. I could have stayed for three more, and they were actually quite surprised when I said, “You know, I’m going to hang it up.” But you have to know when to leave, and I left at the right time, as it turned out. But I was proud of my six years there.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Just because we get a lot of complaints from people who bought homes—
Mr. Michael Lio: I know. I was the consumer rep on the board. I know. I was among those pushing.
Mr. Gates, when you sit on a board, it’s about an evolution; it’s not a revolution. It’s about doing the right thing. Sometimes, it takes longer than some of us would hope, but we eventually get there. If we’ve got that vision in mind, we eventually get there.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I think my vision is like everybody else’s who buys a new home: They just want to make sure that their home is built to code, and that if they do have problems, there’s somebody to stand up for them to make sure that that home they’re going to pay for for the next 30 years is taken care of. We do have some issues around that going on in the province of Ontario. I’d just ask that because I saw it in the notes.
Mr. Michael Lio: I live that every day.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate that. Thank you, sir.
It’s also my understanding that the primary objective of the corporation is to stimulate the development of the industry: trades and business undertakings that further the deployment of commercially available technologies in the hopes of greenhouse gas reduction. How do you feel this objective can be achieved by the corporation, and how much autonomy from government direction do you believe the corporation will have to achieve to get there?
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have about two minutes.
Mr. Michael Lio: I think we’ll have reasonable autonomy. I’m not going into this thinking that the government won’t try to exert influence over the organization. I’ve been on three delegated administrative authorities. I know about all of the conversations that have to take place with government. I retired from the TSSA board before the Sunrise explosion—again, very well timed. But I know that you have to have ongoing conversations with government and you have to talk about your business. They need to be comfortable with what you’re doing and you need to anticipate what the government might do. You can only get there through constant communication.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So being open, honest, all those—
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely. Transparent.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Transparent—all the things that we have to do here as we move into a different type of economy, quite frankly, for the world, but more importantly, for Ontario and Canada.
Mr. Michael Lio: Absolutely. So on a board, my mantra, aside from “noses in, fingers out,” is always “no surprises.” You can’t do anything that’s going to surprise government. So it’s constant communication. Everybody needs to know each other’s positions. It’s no surprises; that should be the mantra that we follow.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate your honesty in answering the questions, sir. My pleasure.
Mr. Michael Lio: A pleasure.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Gates.
We’re now going to turn it over to the government side, which has a minute and 45 seconds. Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: We’d just like to thank you, Mr. Lio, for your deputation and your presence, and of course your vast history and experience. We look forward to the people of Ontario benefiting. Do you have any questions?
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Thank you.
Mr. Michael Lio: Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): That concludes the time for our interview, Mr. Lio. You may step down. We will be considering the concurrences following all of the interviews this afternoon in about an hour, if you’re interested in sticking around. If not, it was a pleasure seeing you again. Thank you so much.
Mr. Jim Harper
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: William Jamieson Harper, intended appointee as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Mr. William Jamieson Harper, nominated as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Good afternoon, Mr. Harper. You may come up front to the table. Take a seat. Thank you very much for being here. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questioning. You may begin.
Mr. Jim Harper: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here today. I’m not sure—I just received from Sylwia the package that you received, so when I was preparing my remarks, I wasn’t exactly sure what you were provided with and what you weren’t. I’ll try to be brief. I just want to perhaps talk a little bit about why I feel I’m qualified for the position that I’ve applied for.
First, in my long-term experience of 40 years of professional practice as an accountant with public accounting firms, I had a lot of exposure to the health care system through advising clients who were physicians, not-for-profit organizations that dealt in the health care area, and something I know you are aware of: I served for 12 years on the St. Mary’s hospital foundation and its board of trustees, ending up being the treasurer of that organization and having to deal with the LHIN for a couple of years with some issues that we had. So I had a fair amount of experience in the health care industry. I guess also my experience as a patient, having seen it from the other side: I have had some surgeries where I needed additional care. I’m fine, but you do see the system from a different perspective when you’re lying in a hospital bed.
Secondly, I think my experience working in the not-for-profit and community sector will be relevant. I’ve spent a lot of time leading teams, and I’ve chaired a lot of organizations and made a lot of changes to the organizations that I’ve been privileged to serve with.
I’ll give you a couple of specifics. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce in the late 1990s was in real trouble. Myself and a couple of other individuals were tasked with the goal of saving it and reinventing it. We had lost our executive director of 25 years, which made it that much more difficult. I chaired that organization. I sat on the executive for three years and chaired it for two years.
I sat on the University of Waterloo board of governors for six years. In that time, I was the vice-chair of the board at one point for three years, and I chaired a committee that looked into the development of a research park at the University of Waterloo. While these things take a long time and it extended beyond my term, I was very proud when David Johnston, who was the president at that time, called me to tell me that it was going ahead. I felt very proud of the contribution that my team had made to moving that forward.
In 1990, I was asked by the Kitchener and Waterloo chambers, which were going to merge at that point, to come in and chair the new board and make sure that the merger happened. I did that. We had a wonderful team. We were given two years to do it; we did it in six months. We put two very different cultures together into a new culture that, I’m very proud to say, is very strong and prospering today.
Professionally, as you can see, I was with KPMG for 28 years. The significant item there might be that I was the national independent business advisory services chair for the firm for 12 years. As such, we were charged with implementing a new service model to effectively service entrepreneurial and owner-managed businesses, which heretofore we did not feel, as a firm, that we were doing a very good job of. We were very successful in putting in a new methodology and new people, and we changed a lot of mindsets of partners that we worked with.
I then joined BDO in 1998. Right away, I was asked to chair the national office review task force, which looked at how the firm should be run, because they had just had a major merger before I joined them. I did that, and we made a report to the board and suggested that a strategic plan needed to be done. They looked at me at that point and said, “Okay, then. If that’s the case, we’d like you to lead it. So we’re going to ask you to run for the board.” I did get elected, served for three years while we implemented the strategic plan, and chaired BDO Canada for just over one year.
In 2005, I became the managing partner of Waterloo region. The major issue there was that we had to change the culture. We had to learn how to service our clients differently and we had to change the mindsets of people. We hired an individual who helped me develop the plan. We implemented it over a two-year period. When I retired at the mandatory 65, we all felt that we had achieved a cultural change. If any of you have been involved in that kind of thing, changing a culture is not an easy thing to do, but when you do it the results can be tremendous.
Professionally—very quickly—I’m a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors. I’ve taken most of their courses, but I haven’t taken the major course at this point. I have mediation certificates from the University of Windsor, Ontario. I’ve been involved in a number of those, which I always feel is helpful when you’re on a board. I picked up from the last individual that you’re interested—I have served on three different government committees over the years, two in Ontario and one federally, that I’d be happy to talk about if you want and if you’re interested.
I think that’s enough about me. I’m happy to answer any questions about what I’ve said or whatever you’re interested in. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to come here today and engage with you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Harper. We will now turn it over to Mr. Gates for some questions.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Sir, how are you?
Mr. Jim Harper: I’m fine, thanks. How are you, sir?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good—not too bad, actually. Question: You talked a little bit in your opening comments about the not-for-profits and the work that you’ve done around not-for profits—for a good part of your life, by the way.
Mr. Jim Harper: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Why do you think not-for-profits are important?
Mr. Jim Harper: Because I think that they deliver social programs, and benefit people. I think of some of the ones like United Way, which I was very involved with for many years, and counselling services. I’ve been involved in one national foundation that was athletically directed.
The excitement is to create a culture and a passion for what the organization does and the social benefit that it will have. The challenge always is funding it and making sure that you’ve got a clear mission and vision as to what you want to be and do.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Just for the record, for yourself, for your knowledge, I was campaign chair of the United Way twice in St. Catharines, in district.
Mr. Jim Harper: Oh, fantastic.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I did enjoy it immensely. The 39 agencies that they represented, and how they raised money, and how much money went back into the community—a not-for-profit is a very rewarding place to volunteer, knowing that most of the money is going right back into your home community.
Mr. Jim Harper: Absolutely.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I congratulate you on the work that you did with all the not-for-profits, but certainly with the United Way, because I certainly understand the workings of the United Way better than some of the other ones that I haven’t had the privilege of volunteering for.
Mr. Jim Harper: Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’ll get into the formal questions, but I’m going to ask you one. You were on the board with St. Mary’s.
Mr. Jim Harper: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: What challenges did you have with dealing with the LHIN?
Mr. Jim Harper: Well—
Mr. Wayne Gates: I thought that might bring a smile to your face.
Mr. Jim Harper: Well, it did. There were challenges, obviously. When I was elected to the board, I had served for a number of years on the board on a couple of their committees, and I had been the foundation representative on the board, so I was pretty familiar with what was going on.
The chair called me about five days after I was appointed. They hadn’t bothered to tell me this in the interview, but they were having profitable issues, and they were showing deficits. They were going to be showing a deficit for the year, which totally shocked me, because I was always under the impression, when I was at the foundation, that we were going along pretty good.
I got a call, and the chair said, “Jim, we want you to step up and become the treasurer. We know you’re familiar with the hospital and accounting. We are now having to report to the LHIN, and we’re having to work with them on programs to get rid of the deficit, and we’ve probably got two years to do it.”
I went, “Oh, jeez, I just came on the board. I don’t know if I’m up for this.” But I did say yes. I did get a good team of people to work with. Literally, within a year of working closely with the LHIN—and that’s how I got to know the chief executive of the LHIN, who actually used to work with me at KPMG, and the chair of the board, because we worked pretty closely with them over the course of a year. At the end of the year, we achieved a break-even, and the next year, we were back into a surplus. At that point, I had retired, so I decided it was time to leave the board and semi-retire.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Sometimes balance doesn’t really mean the best interests of the patients, either, so we have to be careful on the balancing part in our hospitals as well.
Mr. Jim Harper: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Hospitals are there to provide a service for patients in a lot of cases, too.
Mr. Jim Harper: That’s correct. We went through a lot of those things—
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, I’m sure you did, too. I’ll give you a couple of questions, and then maybe I’ll ask you something else if I have time.
Mr. Jim Harper: Sure. Okay.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I see from your background material that you have provided to this committee that you served as the treasurer of the St. Mary’s hospital board of trustees.
Mr. Jim Harper: Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m sure that with this experience, you have some insight into the financial constraints or realities that hospitals underneath this LHIN have faced. Could you speak about some of the potential financial challenges that hospitals underneath the Waterloo Wellington LHIN are facing? How do you plan on addressing that in a capacity at the LHIN?
Mr. Jim Harper: Good question. To start, the challenges that we faced were the ones that a lot of them face: The hospitals want to provide more services than they’re going to get money for, so they have to figure out how to make do with what they’re getting.
I know that part of our strategy involved us closing some beds. It involved us backing off on some services. It involved us co-operating with other hospitals to share services in a more collaborative way.
I think the LHIN, at that time, was also going through some growing pains in terms of where they were going to go. The Patients First Act had not yet been passed. They were still trying to look at and deal with all of the organizations that were in the LHIN. They all wanted their money and they all wanted to continue providing services and more services. Nobody was working together yet to figure out how we should be doing it.
I got very interested in the LHIN when I listened to Bruce Lauckner, at one point, talk about the IHSP that they’ve got for 2016 to 2019, which is the patient-first philosophy.
One of the things I didn’t say, and I should have, when I talked about the culture change at BDO, was that we adopted something called the client-first philosophy, where everything is done for the client. You don’t just sell the services you have. You figure out what the client needs, and you try to find a way to provide it. Usually, it means partnering with other people, because you don’t have all the capabilities that you would like to have.
I see the challenge with the LHIN—which kind of excites me, because I like the direction of it—is that it’s a patient-first thing. They’re going to try to change a culture of how health care organizations in our LHIN work together and provide services. There were a couple of new ones in the paper in the last few days as to what they’re thinking about, and it’s kind of exciting. But there are challenges, and changing a culture is time-consuming and challenging.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Just for the record, I don’t want to ever be called a client when I’m in a hospital.
Mr. Jim Harper: That’s why I said “patients first.”
Mr. Wayne Gates: You did.
Mr. Jim Harper: I appreciate that.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That is the word that has been used in the past.
Mr. Jim Harper: Really?
Mr. Wayne Gates: I certainly don’t like it.
I will talk about health care. The province spends $50 billion in health care. We shouldn’t be closing beds, and we shouldn’t be having people staying in emergency room hallways to get care. I believe that some of the problems that we have are in how the health care dollar is distributed.
Today, not taking into account the new bill—May 29, I think, it came in—we’re giving money to the LHINs. Then we’re giving it to the CCAC. We’re then giving it to outside companies like CarePartners. Before one penny of those dollars got to front-line care, it was going to CEO salaries, to executive salaries, to all that other stuff, to run a lot of organizations. I think there’s money in the health care system. I think we have to figure out the best way to get it to the front line, rather than going down—and I think the easiest one to talk about is CEO salaries.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): You have about two minutes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Two minutes? I’ll wrap it up.
Mr. Jim Harper: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear what you said. The easiest thing to talk about is what?
Mr. Wayne Gates: The easiest thing to talk about is the overpaid CEO salaries of $700,000 and $800,000 in our hospitals. I think that’s wrong as well. I think there are ways that we can get more money to front-line care.
That leads me to my next question. I’ll ask it as directly as I can; it’s kind of how I am. I wanted to ask you a very direct question: In your opinion, is there a lack of front-line workers in our hospitals in Ontario?
Mr. Jim Harper: I’m not sure. I’ve been off the board for three or four years. I’m not sure I can answer it directly, but I can tell you what I hear. What I hear is that we need more nurses. What I hear is that we need more eldercare workers, if that’s a term that I can use.
The challenge that the LHINs have with the money that’s available from the provincial government for funding health care is that we have to figure this out: Are there strategic partnerships and things we can do differently that will rearrange who looks after the patients, how they look after them, and how they’re paid for it? That’s one of the major challenges that certainly our LHIN faces and, I’m guessing, that they all face.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I appreciate your honesty with those questions.
I will say that in your area, seniors 65 and over are 14%, and 75 and over are 6%; immigrants are 20.5%, which is interesting; 20% of the residents have a different language other than English and French; 12,000 are francophones; and 10,000 are aboriginals. The one that really jumped out at me—because it has to be one of the most interesting areas in all of the province of Ontario—is that 10,000 Mennonites live in this catchment area.
Mr. Jim Harper: Yes, it’s true.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You’ve got a very diverse, very interesting and very needy area. I hope you can come to the board with an open mind and find a way to get more money to the front-line workers. That’s where they need—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you, Mr. Gates.
Mr. Jim Harper: Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We’re now going to turn it over to Mr. Qaadri. You have just under four minutes.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: We’d just like to thank you for your presence. We’ve looked through your considerable accomplishments and contributions, and we look forward to seeing you serve the people of Ontario. Thank you very much for your presence and your deputation.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any further questions? Mr. Bradley.
Mr. James J. Bradley: You come from St. Marys. First of all, it’s the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s home. I’ve got to say that as well. They have their annual induction ceremony each year and a lot of people flock into St. Marys on that occasion.
The great challenge that you always have with LHINs, or that governments have, is the smaller hospitals. I wish you well as you do that. When the Conservative government was in power in Ontario, they closed 28 hospitals. Everybody said, “Aren’t they awful?” They were consolidating and so on, and they had to meet that challenge.
Presently our government is in power, and in Niagara, for instance, the question comes up. We have a couple of new hospitals: one that’s built, one that has a planning grant. What do you do with the other hospitals? That’s the problem. When the NDP were in power in Saskatchewan, they closed 52 rural hospitals—not to be mean, and not simply to be parsimonious, but they were looking to find the best way to deliver service to people.
You believe, I detected from what you said, that trying to get co-operation between hospitals and other health care entities could help to be able to use those dollars in a more efficient manner. As Mr. Gates has suggested, a more efficient manner is required. Would that be the case?
Mr. Jim Harper: I would say so. As an example, sir, I can tell you about the work I did with an organization called the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. Our mission was to help with perinatal care, families with children with critical illness. The way we ended up doing it, because of the way the system works—particularly in Ontario, but not just Ontario—is that a lot of the hospitals in the outer reaches, the smaller hospitals, did not have the equipment and the ability to get those patients from the care that they could give to the centres they needed to get to. So one of the things that the Sandra Schmirler Foundation did was to partner with some of those hospitals, to get equipment to them so that they could feed into the centres of excellence, I guess they’re called.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Harper. We’re now going to turn it over to Ms. Munro.
Mrs. Julia Munro: A quick question: Were you on the CCAC board or the original LHIN board?
Mr. Jim Harper: Neither, ma’am.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Neither? Okay. Well, when the CCACs were created, there was a set number of them, geographically distributed around the province, and then when government changed they added the LHIN, the local health integration network, to the picture. Then a decision was made that they needed to get rid of the CCACs, but they also needed smaller units of the LHIN.
So in the last, I guess, about 15 years, we’ve seen this attempt at making home care available, and all of the ancillary things that go with it, but nobody seems to have been able to figure out whether it’s the number of LHINs, the number of CCACs or, in fact, something quite different. How would you view this?
Mr. Jim Harper: I guess I have that same quandary. My familiarity with the CCACs is only through services that they provided to my parents, actually, in their waning days. But I guess I would say to you, as I look at it today and look out to what’s ahead of us, that with the demographics of the aging population, the requirement to provide additional health care and a different kind of health care has just multiplied because of all of us baby boomers coming and starting to need health care of a different nature.
I have not been having discussions with the current LHIN on this, but if I were to get on the board, one of the things I would be looking at in our strategic plan is, how do we deliver the services to those patients who need it with a patients-first attitude, and what is the best way to do that? Is it a CCAC? Is it a long-term-care facility? Or is it a combination of both? I’m hoping that that’s what they’re looking at, and that’s what I would probably be looking to hear, because I don’t have a lot of knowledge of the inner workings of the LHIN at this point.
Mrs. Julia Munro: No, but you can see how confusing it is. Obviously, I think most would agree that it creates its own inefficiencies when it shrinks, it gets subdivided and it gets unified. It seems to be something that morphs from one thing to another pretty easily.
Mr. Jim Harper: My understanding is that—I think Wayne mentioned it—I do know from the chair of our LHIN that the CCACs have now been merged into the LHINs and that they’re in the process of making that happen. I’m sure they also are realizing it’s not just, “Hey, we’re going to do it.” There are a whole lot of things that need to be done.
Mrs. Julia Munro: They’re also creating sort of mini-LHINs.
Mr. Bill Walker: We’ll share a question with you on that one in a bit more detail.
Mr. Jim Harper: Okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t—
Mrs. Julia Munro: That’s okay.
Mr. Bill Walker: I’ll digress for a moment. I’d like to see this list of the 28 hospitals that my colleague from St. Catharines keeps bringing up. I’ve asked for that for six years here, and I never actually got a copy. I know he likes to send things around the Legislature, so when we get back, I’m sure he’ll send that to me.
Mr. James J. Bradley: I will endeavour to do so.
Mr. Bill Walker: Mr. Harper, I’m glad to hear first and foremost that your health care is good. I take it that it’s commendable for you, being an accountant and looking from an audit, that you actually went through the process just to make sure you were getting value for money from that. I applaud your foundation work. I’m an executive director, formerly, of a hospital foundation, so we share a kindred spirit there.
I want to commend you for actually jumping up to this challenge and keeping my friend Bruce Lauckner challenged at the LHIN, if you’re successful in this.
Mr. Jim Harper: I will.
Mr. Bill Walker: A couple of quick ones: One of the things that is really in regard to that whole LHIN and CCAC amalgamation, one of the things we hear at the community level, is that they’re amalgamating these two organizations but where is the focus on the patients first? There’s a lot of administration, a lot of bureaucracy, but what’s that going to transcend into? Obviously, you’re just getting in, so maybe you don’t have an answer to that.
Mr. Jim Harper: I don’t. I accept the question as being a very relevant and key question. How is it going to be better? How are we going to make it better? I hope that’s the goal, and I hope they’ve got some strategies to meet that goal. But I can honestly say, at this point in time, I’m not privy to what they are.
Mr. Bill Walker: It sounded, in your opening comments, that one of your biggest focuses is on patients first or clients first, whatever terminology we want to use.
Mr. Jim Harper: Absolutely. Patients first.
Mr. Bill Walker: I think the other question then is: In many cases, when there’s an appointed board like that, it’s almost like you’re taking direction from the ministry or from the minister. Do you believe that one of your roles is also listening to your local community and pushing back to the government, saying, “This isn’t what we need in our region; this is what we need”?
I’ll give you a prime example. You referenced long-term care. I’m the critic for long-term care, seniors and accessibility. Not one bed was allotted in the newest budget, and yet we know there’s a waiting list of 26,500 people, going to explode to 50,000 people in six years. Is that an area where you believe you should have a role to play, as a LHIN, saying, “This is what we need, regardless of what you’re telling us; we’re the feet on the ground”?
Mr. Jim Harper: The answer is yes. When I had my interview with the LHIN, by way of answering you, I was asked a question along those lines, about, “If we’re sitting debating something and you don’t agree with it or you think there’s a better way, how would you deal with that?” My answer was that inside the board meeting, you always say what you think. You always advance the case that you believe in and try to make a cogent argument for it and to have your opinion prevail.
But at the end of the day, it’s about debate. There are, I gather, 12 of us around the table. Sometimes, I might be successful, and sometimes, I might not.
Mr. James J. Bradley: Like a caucus meeting.
Mr. Bill Walker: Maybe. It sounds that way.
Mr. Jim Harper: So the chair then said to me, “So what do you do if they adopt something that isn’t exactly what you want?” I said, “I have two choices. I can live with it and work with it, stay on board and get behind the movement”—or whatever it is—“or if I think it’s immoral, illegal or unethical, I have another choice, and I would not hesitate to do that.” I did that in one case in my career and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
Mr. Bill Walker: You’ve been on the trustees for a while—I know you’ve been off for a little bit as well. But a couple of your hospitals, at least—I believe from my colleague they are long-standing hospitals—are getting up there in age. We certainly are a referral area from Bruce Grey to St. Mary’s, the cardiac. What is your thinking on those two older hospitals? Are you in good shape? Are you already looking down the road of where those are and where they’re positioned and what their ability to actually provide the proper service is in the future?
Mr. Jim Harper: I don’t know that for sure, because again I haven’t been part of the meetings, but I have to believe that. I know that major renovations have been done to St. Mary’s over the years, which is one of the ones you’re talking about. Grand River has been constantly under renovation. Cambridge is now doing their renovation that was scheduled to be done, like, 10 or 12 years ago. At this point, I can’t believe they’re looking at throwing that all away and building one hospital, but I think they have to look down the road and say, “What does it look like 10 years from now? What’s the landscape 10 years from now?”
Mr. Bill Walker: Sure. Part of why I ask is exactly that. In Markdale we’ve been waiting 14 years, and it is moving, but it’s a very slow process. It’s a very arduous process, particularly with the volumes you’re going to be having and the variety of people you’re serving. Those changes are going to continue, and having that foresight, it’s great to see someone like you there.
The other is my colleague from St. Catharines. The funding formula is a big issue from a rural hospital to an urban hospital. Any thought process or any ideas—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We have about two minutes left.
Mr. Bill Walker: —from your time as a trustee, whether that formula needs to truly be revised? In Owen Sound, Grey Bruce Health Services is looking at a deficit of $17 million. We run five sites, based on the same formula, for the most part, as one facility in an urban centre. I know they’re looking at it, and I give kudos to the government for doing that, but I think there is a lot of difference from a rural to an urban site.
Mr. Jim Harper: I would concur with that. I do remember when I was on the trustee board and we met with the LHIN a number of times. We ended up engaging them in that discussion, because at that time we were taking in patients from Bruce Grey and things like that, and there were cost issues about how we integrate them, how we bring them in, how they get here etc. I’m not honestly sure what happened to it, but I can tell you that we kept asking them to look at it and make sure that it was being spread where it was needed. I can’t tell you today whether it’s been done well or not.
Mr. Bill Walker: It’s good to know that your accounting audit strengths will be there asking those same questions. We’re asking them all the time about school closures right now in a very similar manner. The funding formula is outdated and needs to be brought to today’s world and how we best address all of our communities—obviously we’re very focused on rural, but all communities—so that we’re providing the services to all patients so it is truly patient first.
Thank you for your efforts, for what you’ve already contributed to the community. Say hello to my friend Mr. Lauckner for me.
Mr. Jim Harper: I will do that, Bill. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Harper. You may step down. That concludes the time for this interview.
Ms. Judith Robertson
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Judith Robertson, intended appointee as member, Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Our next intended appointee today is Ms. Judith Robertson, nominated as member, Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
Please come forward, Ms. Robertson, and take a seat at the table. Welcome and thank you very much for being here today. You may begin with a brief statement, if you wish. Members of each party will then have 10 minutes to ask you questions. Any time used for your statement will be deducted from the government’s time for questions.
Thank you, Ms. Robertson, for being here. You may begin.
Ms. Judith Robertson: Great, thank you very much. I’m pleased to be here. I’d just share that it’s been a long time since I’ve been in this building. I was a legislative page—
Ms. Judith Robertson: It was quite a long time ago, yes. Anyway, the building is as—
Mr. Wayne Gates: Was Jim here then?
Ms. Judith Robertson: I don’t think so.
Mr. James J. Bradley: What year were you a page?
Ms. Judith Robertson: It was 1972.
Mr. James J. Bradley: Oh, 1972? That predates even me.
Ms. Judith Robertson: The building is as beautiful but, I have to say, not quite as big as I remember it.
I’m pleased to be here and honoured to be considered for a position at FSRA. I have prepared a few remarks, so I’ll go ahead and then be pleased to answer whatever questions you might have.
As you know, this is a newly formed agency that will bring together the regulatory functions of several existing organizations that regulate quite a broad coverage of industry sectors: credit unions, insurance companies, mortgage brokers and the pensions. The objective in creating the new agency, as outlined by the report of the expert panel and highlighted by Minister Sousa in his announcements, is to enhance consumer protection in these areas and modernize the regulatory oversight of these important sectors.
As I understand it, the current regulators are performing well, but there are some structural and resource limitations that have hampered their evolution and effectiveness. The job will be to create a new organization that eliminates these identified limitations, while ensuring continuity and a smooth transition.
I’m interested in participating in this important initiative because I believe it will result in significant improvements to both industry and consumers. It’s a rare opportunity to make a real difference. I endorse the strategy of creating a fully modern regulator that’s flexible enough to address the rapidly changing landscape. I also believe that I have something to contribute to this, that my background and experience will make me an effective member of the initial board.
I’ve had a diverse career in financial services at senior levels, both in Canada and internationally. This experience has been broad, spanning several areas, principally in the investment management and securities sectors. I’ve worked in large global firms and I’ve worked in small entrepreneurial start-ups, and along the way I’ve led and participated in several mergers, divestitures and change-management situations. The common link, of course, in all of these is managing the constants of regulation, technology and change. I would bring that experience to this role.
Most recently, I have spent the last six years as a commissioner for the Ontario Securities Commission, so I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the formulation of regulation from the other side. As you may be aware, the OSC commissioners have three roles: board oversight; policy formulation and approval; and we also serve as adjudicators for the enforcement proceedings. I believe that all of these roles are relevant to the proposed FSRA board.
On the board side, I served on several committees at the OSC, including as the chair of the HR and compensation committee for the last four years. I have had other board experience, including not-for-profits—at TVO, for example, where I was a member of the finance and audit committee, and at Mprime, which was a federal centre of excellence, where I was chair of the conflict-of-interest committee. I personally invested in obtaining the ICD.D designation while at the OSC to ensure that I had as much training as I could to bring to the table. I felt that the financial oversight and governance issues were particularly critical in that role.
On the policy side, I was a strong supporter of the evolution of the OSC that I have seen over the last six years of really focusing on evidence-based policy, not just things that we think would work but things we actually have done research on and have at least—there’s never any certainty, but some demonstrated guidance that the policy formulation will protect consumers while maintaining an efficient and vibrant industry.
I’ve been associated with many of the proactive and forward-looking achievements of the OSC in recent years, and I’m very proud of what they stand for. My final day at the OSC, in fact, was just last week. I’ve come from the luncheon, where I had a chance to reflect to them my experience over there, so it’s very fresh in my mind.
Interestingly perhaps to you, I think, on the enforcement side, serving as an adjudicator has actually been completely eye-opening for me. I’m not a lawyer, but to be in a situation where individuals come, individuals whose trust has been abused, who have suffered terrible harm, and to realize that the tools you have are unfortunately quite inadequate to really help them—after the fact, you can perhaps eliminate someone from the industry and you can do what you can, but what you really want to be is proactive to try to prevent these terrible, unfortunate situations from occurring.
All of these experiences have resulted in me having a more nuanced understanding of the importance and constraints of regulation, and I think they would be relevant to the challenges in creating FSRA.
In summary, I believe that my combination of private sector industry experience as well as the public sector regulatory experience will allow me to contribute in an effective way. It would be an honour and a privilege to participate and to continue to find a way to serve, as I have really had a tremendous satisfaction and personal growth in serving through the OSC. I look forward to that. I’d be happy to answer any questions.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Robertson. We’re now going to start with the government side, and you have just under three minutes: Mr. Dickson.
Mr. Joe Dickson: I’m just mesmerized, so I would suggest that you pass it to the next person to my left.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mr. Bradley, then.
Mr. James J. Bradley: I’m delighted to ask a question about—it went to the right actually—a national securities commission, as opposed to individual ones in the various provinces. With your vast experience and background, what do you think the advantages would be of having a national securities commission, as opposed to individual ones in the provinces? I know that it’s controversial in other provinces; not necessarily in ours.
Ms. Judith Robertson: I am a strong supporter of national regulation, however it is effected. I think my personal position and the OSC’s position are similar on that front. We see advantages from an investor-protection side in terms of consistency and effectiveness of regulation, if it is clear that there are no differences across the country on those standards. I also think there are great advantages from the industry side, again, in the same vein as far as efficiency and effectiveness.
I have certainly seen personally the costs, both in dollars and time, of the friction created by having to have negotiation on every single point. I do believe that, of course, we’re a very diverse country, both demographically and economically, but I think that the benefits that the regional regulators can contribute, as far as the focus on making sure we’re not in a one-size-fits-all type of regulatory environment, can be achieved within a uniform structure. I think the benefits way outweigh any risks that we would lose.
If you look at Ontario, for example, the economy of Ontario is really as diverse as the economy of the country. I think that people don’t quite appreciate that. Everyone thinks Ontario is Bay Street, but if you think of the challenges in capital formation of our mining sector in northern Ontario, those are probably more similar to the challenges of the mining sector in BC, for example—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Robertson.
Ms. Judith Robertson: Oh, sorry.
Mr. James J. Bradley: That’s okay.
Ms. Judith Robertson: Sorry, I’m carrying on. Anyway, I’m a supporter, and I think that—
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Robertson. We are going to turn over the questions to Ms. Munro, please.
Mrs. Julia Munro: Thank you very much for coming here. I want to begin by saying how exciting this potentially is for you. Very few of us get the opportunity to say, “We’ve laid the table. It’s yours.” Essentially, that’s what we are looking at here. It’s pretty clear when it says to regulate the regulated.
How would you classify the breadth of those that you are regulating in terms of—from a consumer point of view—risk to less risk? Where are the hot spots that you’d want to get under control first?
Ms. Judith Robertson: Okay. Let me take a little bit of a step back. It is a bit of a blank canvas to a certain extent, and it is a challenge. It’s a bit daunting, but it’s a huge opportunity that I’m eager to engage in.
The job for the initial board, of course, is to create the structure, as opposed to diving into hot spots. My preparation and thinking has been more about thinking about the structure and the framework as opposed to hot spots. So I don’t have an answer for you on where the hot spots are, except for what I read in the paper, as everyone does. We know there are issues.
I would say that one of the keys on the structure and the framework that I will be very focused on is ensuring that we don’t allow any gaps or fissures between this umbrella over these sectors and others—for example, the OSC—that allow those who seek to exploit fissures to exploit. That’s one area where I think we don’t have full coverage at the moment. We do have fissures. We do have areas where the unscrupulous can pretend to operate ethically. That would be a critical area, I think, on the initial set-up—to ensure we’ve got that encompassed.
Mrs. Julia Munro: It sounds like it. It sounds as if it would be the first place that you’d want to be able to identify as something you would be taking on.
I want to ask you a question from the point of view of if I were to tell my constituents today that I was going to have a conversation with a financial regulator. Their concern is the risk they take on the street, so to speak. Do you see opportunities to be able to give assurance to those people? You’re not a bank, so they’re not going to you directly, but they are definitely at risk if the job isn’t done well, if the regulator isn’t regulating. So I just wondered if you have a message, or what you would want to say to those people I represent.
Ms. Judith Robertson: One of the things that has come out of the expert panel that was repeated several times and which resonated with me was the need for clarity and transparency. Certainly, we saw that at the OSC as well. One of the key challenges for consumers is that, of course, they are not financial experts. This is a complicated area. I’m a consumer; I find it complicated, and I theoretically am an expert. We shouldn’t expect consumers to bear the responsibility of becoming an expert in order to purchase a product. It’s important for the industry as a whole and our society to establish an appropriate level of confidence so that they know what they can expect and what they can’t expect. Is it going to be perfect? No. But they should be able to expect that they’re going to be dealt with fairly, honestly, with clear information about what is in and what is not, and not have to worry about having to ferret out the hidden fees or the hidden risks and so on. So to me, clarity and transparency will go a long way to fostering the confidence that’s required.
Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m sure it will.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Mr. Walker, you have about four and a half minutes.
Mr. Bill Walker: The expert panel recommended that FSRA—one of the key points was “operationally independent from the government.” With agencies like the IESO, the OEB, especially with what we’ve been going through with regard to our hydro prices and our markets and the changes that are continually moving there, I think a lot of the public is jaded and saying, “Are they truly arm’s length, or are they at the direction of the government?” Can you just give me your sense of what you truly believe needs to be, and how you would ensure that the public has a comfort level that you’re truly independent from the government?
Ms. Judith Robertson: My experience at the OSC is probably relevant to that. The very best way to ensure appropriate independence—of course, we all serve at the pleasure—we serve the public interest, and we must recognize, of course, that a very legitimate expression of the public interest is the government, so there isn’t a conflict there. There may be different views, but that’s not necessarily a conflict.
But I do think that the independence of operation is critical, because you won’t achieve an effective, modern organization that can respond in appropriate time frames, without perhaps political overtones, unless you do have independence of operation. Really, the only way to achieve that is to have a board that is competent and will not serve unless that is the case.
Mr. Bill Walker: Can you just clarify? I don’t think you finished your sentence. You said you serve at the pleasure. At the pleasure of the government and the minister, or at the pleasure of the people?
Ms. Judith Robertson: At the pleasure of the people, as reflected in the minister of the day.
Mr. Bill Walker: In some ways, what I look at is how the Fiscal Accountability Officer and the Auditor General are at arm’s length. They are officers of the Legislature. In essence, you would be operating the same.
If you disagree with the government, if they’re going down a political vein that you don’t believe is in the best interests of the mandate that you’re to serve, do you believe that you are bound to stand up and acknowledge that, and challenge the government on that?
Ms. Judith Robertson: Speaking for me personally, I would be absolutely looking to the mandate to guide what I thought was the appropriate action, yes.
Mr. Bill Walker: Great. Just out of curiosity, because I read here that you were commissioner for the OSC from 2011 to 2017—
Ms. Judith Robertson: Yes.
Mr. Bill Walker: Is that a mandatory term?
Ms. Judith Robertson: No, it was several renewals. My first term was only a year, because we thought we would have a national regulator.
Mr. Bill Walker: Right.
Ms. Judith Robertson: That didn’t happen, so there have been a few subsequent renewals since then.
Mr. Bill Walker: Do they cap out? Do you have to step aside at some point, like many of the positions?
Ms. Judith Robertson: My understanding is that the absolute maximum is 10 years, but the practice at the OSC has been a four- to five-year cap-out, in order to ensure renewal and the ability to configure experience and expertise appropriate to the time. I think it’s actually a very good practice.
Mr. Bill Walker: Thank you very much. Any final closing comments?
Ms. Judith Robertson: No, not from me. Thanks.
Mr. Bill Walker: Great. Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): We’re now going to turn over the questions to Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m going to start with a question that really has nothing to do with you at all. I just want to talk, because it has been mentioned a couple of times today, about rural school closings.
I had one in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with Parliament Oak. Some of it was because of the funding formula, but the funding formula was brought in by the PCs. I just wanted to clarify who got the funding formula in. It has absolutely nothing to do with you, but I wanted to get that out on Hansard, because I had to listen to it today.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I want to at least know why my school closed—it was the funding formula in rural Ontario—and who was behind that. I wanted to get that out. I think that’s fair to Parliament Oak school, as I fought to keep it open.
Ms. Judith Robertson: I’m happy you didn’t ask me that question.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You don’t have to answer.
I understand that an expert panel on financial services regulators in 2015 outlined a number of recommendations, including the creation of the FSRA. Could the witness discuss how the FSRA plans to achieve its goals and potentially implement recommendations made by the expert panel?
Ms. Judith Robertson: Sure.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You don’t look so sure, but go ahead. You have that look.
Ms. Judith Robertson: I, of course, can’t speak for FSRA. FSRA doesn’t actually exist just yet in anything more than statute.
My understanding is that the plan is to create a small initial board which will do the heavy lifting of all of the legislation and the structure and organizational structure and so on, and essentially create the transition plan from the existing entities to the new entity. The recommendations from the expert panel will be an important input into what the result will be, but even in the expert panel report, they highlight that there is more than one way to achieve the outcomes. While we will use that as guiding and important information, it’s certainly not a road map that needs to be followed, if we determine that there is a better way of achieving the outcomes and the mandates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, thank you. Are there any areas of the financial services industry that you believe should be addressed immediately?
Ms. Judith Robertson: Well, of course, there have been reports of issues in the mortgage broker industry—syndicated mortgages. I have also heard of that through the OSC side, because there’s some overlap and some issues there. That certainly appears to be an issue that is very relevant and that is being addressed by the existing regulators. I would think that that would be something that we would take on board, as we progress.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay, thank you. I understand that the FSRA will continue to consult with stakeholders and review the original recommendations made by the expert panel on the mandate and government structure. Does the witness anticipate a timeline for when these further consultations will take place? If not, do you believe that you have a goal for when they should take place?
Ms. Judith Robertson: I think the answer is, “As soon as possible.” It’s a very short timeline. The objective is, by 2018, to get this up and running, so consultation has to take place. Luckily, a lot of work has been done, but of course we would need to refresh. We would be expected to start right away.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Everything seems to be happening by 2018—just an observation that I’m having at this place.
Mr. Bill Walker: What’s happening in 2018?
Ms. Judith Robertson: It’s going to be a big year.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m just saying; I’m just hearing that. I don’t know if it’s accurate or not.
An incredibly important area of concern for constituents in my riding, and I’m sure in ridings right across the province, is the high cost of insurance. Could the witness discuss how increasing insurance costs are affecting the industry and the industry’s consumers?
Ms. Judith Robertson: This is not a new issue. As you can see from my background, of course, I don’t have particular expertise on the insurance side. But it’s a long-standing contentious issue. It’s an issue that, as you point out, affects everyone—consumers, the industry. It has got complicated sources. We hear about fraud as being a big contributor, where a regulator can certainly play a role, and of course many other sources. It’s something that gets in the way. I think part of the issue has been transparency and clarity, understanding of the sources and trying to get to root causes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I think the fraud issue is one that was addressed. I think lowering the ceiling for those who have suffered injuries is a bigger issue, including their rate of return. It used to be 5%; it has gone down to 1.5%, which really doesn’t help the victims, in insurance.
The other thing that I’d like you to consider, because it has been raised with me—certainly last weekend, because they had a rally up here—is motorcycle rates are going through the roof. One of the ways that we can help motorcycles, especially this time of year—a lot of older people are driving motorcycles now, just for recreation. The HOV lanes: We should allow motorcycles to drive in HOV lanes. That would help. A lot of times, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t see the motorcycle; I admit it. You’re not looking for it, particularly on a highway that’s moving quite quickly. So HOV lanes, maybe, when you’re talking about insurance, are something that we should allow motorcycles to drive on.
Ms. Judith Robertson: Interesting.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The other question: Do you believe there are any mechanisms underneath the FSRA to combat consistently increasing insurance costs?
Ms. Judith Robertson: I can’t answer that; I’m sorry.
Mr. Wayne Gates: You can’t answer that?
Ms. Judith Robertson: No.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. Then I’m going to ask you this one, which I thought was interesting: When you’re talking about financial institutions, we all think of banks, credit unions and those types of things, but one of the emerging competitions for non-traditional financial service providers are large retailers, technology companies and crowdfunding websites. What do you think of that?
Ms. Judith Robertson: I think it’s really interesting. I think that that’s one of the key reasons why this agency is going to be so critically important, in that we see the bleeding or the blurring of the edges all over the place. On the one hand, it’s exciting because it’s new delivery mechanisms, new competition, right? It could be really great for consumers. On the other hand, our historic regulatory structures just aren’t geared for that. Is a grocery store a bank? So to me, that’s—
Mr. Wayne Gates: Is Walmart a grocery store?
Ms. Judith Robertson: Exactly. To me, that’s absolutely part of the impetus for creating this and for creating it in a way that will be flexible enough to deal with however these things are presented. Just because they are called something different or look different—we need to look at, what are they really, and what do they really mean for the end purchaser?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes. Just for the record, I read that, and what I wrote was “Interesting,” and your opening word was “Interesting,” so there you go. Thank you very much. I enjoyed your presentation.
Ms. Judith Robertson: It was a pleasure. Thank you.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Ms. Robertson. You may now step down. That concludes the time for this interview.
We will now consider the concurrences for all those who presented before us today. We have a number of intended appointees.
We will now consider the concurrence for Rita Westbrook, nominated as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Rita Westbrook, nominated as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for Susan Lo, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Susan Lo, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for Mr. Dennis Fotinos, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Dennis Fotinos, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for Mr. Tim Stoate, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Tim Stoate, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for Deborah Crawford, nominated as member, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Deborah Crawford, nominated as member, Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? Excellent. The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for Richard Makuch, nominated as vice-chair, Ontario Municipal Board (Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario). Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Richard Makuch, nominated as vice-chair, Ontario Municipal Board (Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario).
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for Michael Lio, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Michael Lio, nominated as member, Ontario Climate Change Solutions Deployment Corp.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? The motion is carried.
We will now consider the concurrence for William Jamieson Harper, nominated as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of William Jamieson Harper, nominated as member, Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any discussion? All in favour? The motion is carried. Congratulations, Mr. Harper.
We will now consider the concurrence for Judith Robertson, nominated as member, Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Would someone please move the concurrence? Mr. Qaadri.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Judith Robertson, nominated as member, Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Any further discussion on that? All in favour? The motion is carried.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Madam Chair, just an item of business: I invite the Chair and the Clerk to please convene a subcommittee meeting by email, phone etc. for next week. We have, I think, a number of appointments. We may need to meet in July.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): I’ve actually just been informed by the Clerk that we are up to date. We have no outstanding appointees to consider at this point, so we will not be meeting next week. We will wait until such time that more appointees are received by the committee and then assess at that point whether or not a meeting is required or necessary. We can do that, I believe, through the usual means, through email.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: It’s my understanding that, in fact, Chair, you are quite correct, that attendees are up to date as of now. But my information, I think, is more current. Therefore, we may be needing to meet sometime in July, for which purpose I would invite you to please convene a subcommittee meeting next week by either email and/or phone. We may need to meet in July. There is still under deliberation—for example, there’s a cabinet meeting that will be happening at which some of this may emerge.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): That’s correct, Mr. Qaadri. I was referring to the meeting that we had agreed upon last week, which was that we were going to meet today. Should we require an additional meeting, based on the fact that potentially we couldn’t get everyone in today, then we would have that meeting next week. Seeing that we are up to date, we will then, as per your suggestion, wait until such time that we have a number of appointees to call a meeting, and do that via email.
Mr. Bill Walker: Madam Chair, on somewhat of a pertinent item: the police services board in Owen Sound. I’ve been working with the minister on this. They have had a situation where there’s illness and, I believe, one other circumstance. They are virtually almost not able to meet because they don’t have enough membership. We’ve been waiting for quite some time to have someone else appointed to that board. So if there is a meeting coming, I would certainly ask that that be part of the agenda, and that that appointment be made as quickly as possible so they can continue on without any delay in their very important business of police services.
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I am just told that we don’t need the subcommittee meeting until July, so I think we have time.
The Chair (Mrs. Cristina Martins): Thank you very much, Mr. Walker.
That’s correct. Just for clarification, there is no meeting next week. We will wait until such time that we have other interviews to be scheduled. We can do that via email, perhaps, for sometime in July.
There is no further business. We are adjourned. Thank you.
The committee adjourned at 1440.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair / Présidente
Mrs. Cristina Martins (Davenport L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Ms. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre / Kitchener-Centre L)
Mr. Granville Anderson (Durham L)
Mr. James J. Bradley (St. Catharines L)
Mr. Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls ND)
Mrs. Amrit Mangat (Mississauga–Brampton South / Mississauga–Brampton-Sud L)
Mrs. Cristina Martins (Davenport L)
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff (Niagara West–Glanbrook / Niagara-Ouest–Glanbrook PC)
Mr. Randy Pettapiece (Perth–Wellington PC)
Mr. Shafiq Qaadri (Etobicoke North / Etobicoke-Nord L)
Ms. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre / Kitchener-Centre L)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton–Lawrence L)
Mr. Vic Dhillon (Brampton West / Brampton-Ouest L)
Mr. Joe Dickson (Ajax–Pickering L)
Mrs. Julia Munro (York–Simcoe PC)
Mr. Bill Walker (Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Ms. Erin Fowler, research officer,