Wednesday 19 December 1990


Semi-annual review: Clerk of the House

Réseau Ont.Parl Network

Continued in camera


Chair: Duignan, Noel (Halton North NDP)

Vice-Chair: MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton NDP)

Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot NDP)

Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East NDP)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North L)

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East L)

Murdock, Sharon (Sudbury NDP)

O'Neil, Hugh P. (Quinte L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre NDP)

Villeneuve, Noble (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry PC)


Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East NDP) for Mrs MacKinnon

O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York NDP) for Ms Murdock

Clerk: Arnott, Douglas

Staff: Yeager, Lewis, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee met at 1546 in room 151.


The Chair: I would like to call the meeting to order. Thank you for attending. We will begin with the report of the subcommittee on committee business dated Thursday 13 December. Has everybody received a copy of that report? The first item of business on the subcommittee's report is a review of the committee budget.

"Your subcommittee recommends that provision for travel outside of Ontario not be included in the 1990-91 fiscal year. Your subcommittee further recommends that the Board of Internal Economy be advised of the committee's intention both to continue its long-standing association with the National Conference of State Legislatures, and to seek budgetary approval in the 1991-92 fiscal year for committee attendance at that annual meeting of the NCSL.

"Your subcommittee recommends that provision be made in the 1990-91 fiscal year budget for travel to Ottawa to consider the following matters: freedom of information and protection of privacy; provision of services and facilities for members; and security."

Are there any questions or comments?

Mrs Marland: If that is the best they can do, I guess we have to support it.

The Chair: Mr O'Neil moves the approval of the budget. Any questions or comments?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: The third item is the notice and schedule regarding the freedom of information comprehensive review. There are a number of recommendations regarding the direct mailing on that, such as, "all who previously contacted the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly re FOI; lists of contacts to be requested from members of the Legislative Assembly committee" -- that is going, if I am not mistaken, to all members of the House as well. Is that correct?

Clerk of the Committee: That can be done also.

The Chair: And "lists of contacts to be requested from: freedom of information and privacy branch, Management Board of Cabinet; Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner."

Are there any further lists that anyone would like to add to that? Is there concurrence on that? Okay.

"Your subcommittee further recommends that the committee delegate to the Chair, assisted by the clerk and research officer, responsibility for scheduling witnesses during the FOI review hearings proposed for February 1990." That should read 1991. Is there concurrence on that?

Mr H. O'Neil: Was that for both weeks?

The Chair: That is for the first week. Is that right?

Clerk of the Committee: It was for the first week of February and the last week of February, if required.

Mrs Marland: I am supporting the report of the subcommittee based on the understanding that we will then make decisions later in the year about other scheduled hearings and other witnesses dealing with the review of the freedom of information act. This is only dealing with February, until March. There may be other witnesses and other locations we need to review and be part of in order to complete a comprehensive review of a very significant piece of legislation in the province.

The Chair: I agree. This is just for the first two weeks in February. The rest of the year is a whole different question.

Mrs Marland: I am supportive of all the recommendations on that basis.

The Chair: The fourth item from the subcommittee:

"Your subcommittee recommends that the Chair of the committee send letters to all members of the Legislature asking for their suggestions and input with regard to committee review of the following matters: services and facilities for members; security; freedom of information and protection of individual privacy."

A draft of those letters is now being circulated to all the members.

Item 5: "Your subcommittee recommends that, in compliance with the order of the Board of Internal Economy dated 14 September 1987, the committee Chair schedule the Clerk of the House and the Sergeant at Arms to appear before the committee at its next meeting on Wednesday 19 December 1990, in addition to the director of broadcast and recording services."

That is happening today. Is there concurrence with those recommendations?

Agreed to.

Mr Owens: I have one fast question on the issue of staffing. Will that be included in this review?

The Chair: Whatever you feel is important to you as a member can be indicated in your reply to the committee.

Mr Owens: It will be at that opportunity that the issue of staffing will be addressed.

The Chair: I suspect so.

The second item on the agenda, the fiscal year committee budget, has been approved, so we move to the third item on the agenda, the administration of the House and provision of services to the members.

Mr H. O'Neil: That letter we are talking about sending out to the members has on it the use of credit cards in the members' dining room lounge. That has already been okayed, has it not? Why would we put that into this draft letter?

The Chair: They were the previous items reviewed, which included the following. That just gave an example of what was reviewed and approved. That was the last time.

Mrs Marland: Because we do have the bank machine now, too.

Mr O'Connor: Maybe you could highlight what has been already looked at and is available now, just to let them know that is available, with, "Any other suggestions you have, please forward them."

The Chair: We will do that. I was not aware of the fact that there was a cash machine here at all. Maybe we need to circulate those new improvements.

Mr Owens: The location of the bank machine would also be of assistance to members. I happened to fall on it one day while I was losing my way through the tunnel.

Mr McClelland: The point is, and it might just be added as a concluding paragraph, that essentially the role of this committee with respect to members, among other things, is to facilitate the conduct of their business in any way it can. If it could be worded in such a way to say that it is our job to be servants to our colleagues, to assist, and use those by way of example, which I think is very helpful to allow people to see the range of things that are discussed; but then just take it a step further and say: "Whatever else comes to your mind. There is really nothing that is not worthy of being brought here for our consideration if one of our colleagues feels it appropriate." To summarize, just to say to people that it is an open invitation: "If it is of interest or concern to you, it is a valid item to bring to this committee."

The Chair: Good suggestion. Are there any other questions? I would like to move to item 3.


The Chair: I would like to welcome the Clerk of the House, Mr DesRosiers.

Clerk of the House: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Congratulations on your election.

It is an honour for me to appear before you. For those of you who are new members, this is normally a biannual thing. I normally appear before this committee twice a year, to answer your questions mainly and your concerns, and usually it turns into some good discussions. I have no prepared statement, Mr Chairman, but if you wish I can go into something, if you give me an indication, or I can speak about things around here if you want. I would just like some indication from you of what some of your particular concerns are so I am not wasting your time.

Mr H. O'Neil: Rather than you asking us what we would like to ask you, maybe we should ask you about some of the things around the building that you would like to see changed. How is that for an opener?

Clerk of the House: How much time do you have? Thank you for the question, Mr O'Neil. To set the frame, I guess, I will go back a number of years. I have been here four years. I came here from a very different milieu in the House of Commons in Ottawa. I had been there for a number of years. I arrived at the Parliament of Ontario, which from my point of view had -- and this is no criticism on anybody, my predecessor or anything. That was the way things were run. I remember very distinctly answering this type of question when the committee -- this committee, actually, which interviewed me for the job -- asked me what kind of Clerk I would be. I said they were hiring a deputy minister and that I intended to try to act that role around here and try to influence how the place was administered and so on, but always with the basic philosophy which is mine and which I try to instil in all of my staff: if you find a staff member who has not heard this yet, please report him or her to me because I would be interested. The philosophy is that we are all here to serve you. There is not to be a big bureaucracy and we try to act as quickly as we can to answer your requests and concerns.

Mr O'Neil, to address your specific question -- what are some of the items that I think should be addressed around here? -- a lot of things have been started in the previous Parliament that I hope are going to continue to go forward in this Parliament. The building itself had not been paid any attention to at all for a very, very long time, and the previous Parliament, the previous House, had decided to create a special committee on the parliamentary precinct, a special committee of the House which was co-chaired by the Chair of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and by the Speaker. Its membership was made up of a member from each of the parties; therefore, it was a five-member committee. It was a special committee of the House. Unfortunately, as happens to all committees, especially special committees, it lapsed with dissolution. I am hopeful this committee will be re-created and will be able to continue the work that has been started with renovation and restoration of the building.

Mind you, because the committee is not in function right now does not mean that there is not work going ahead. Mrs Speakman, the executive director of the assembly services directorate, has a budget approved by the board which goes a long way to maintaining the building now with a plan, so hopefully the building will not fall any more into the disrepair that had been left to happen in the years past. That is one of my major aims, to try to encourage this renovation, this restoration of the building to continue, but still and always with the proviso that any restoration, any renovation, any redirection of any part of this building be made with the members in mind, after having consulted them and as an expression of their wishes.


Mr H. O'Neil: Who is it that appoints that committee? In other words, if it does not exist now, who --

Clerk of the House: Technically speaking, the House appoints that committee by a motion moved in the House. That motion would come out of the House leaders' meeting.

Mr H. O'Neil: Is that something the Chairman should bring to their attention right away, to make sure that committee is reinstated?

The Chair: On that point, I approached our particular House leader today to see if we can get that motion through before the break. I met with the Speaker this morning. He would like that subcommittee to meet some time in January.

Clerk of the House: It would be very helpful if that could happen.

Mrs Marland: Mr DesRosiers, with some of the, as you have well described, overdue restoration and renovation -- last week I saw them measuring the halls for the carpets and measuring the grand staircase for the carpet. I took the time to stop and ask the people who were measuring if this meant we were finally getting new carpet. I was very encouraged by that. I know the difficulty for you and members of a committee making recommendations is always the cost factor, but there are some very basic needs in this building.

The only reason I bring this to your attention now is that if you are in the process of doing something which this could be included in before our committee gets together and makes further recommendations, I just want to bring to your attention the fact that we have 130 members in the House who, when the House is sitting, have access to two washrooms. Speaking as a woman, I am thrilled that we have more women in the House now than we have ever had before; I think now we have 28 of the 130. But last week when we were sitting until midnight, and I realize that is an exception, but even with normal sitting hours, do you know that it is virtually impossible to tolerate the two existing washrooms we have adjacent to our lobbies, our east and west lobbies?

One thing that is very severe is that even the two that exist -- I cannot speak from recent experience to the one on the other side of the House, but I am sure it is the same as ours -- are not even well maintained in their current condition. As a female, I object to sharing those washrooms with males, although I have sons of my own. I just feel that if it is at all possible -- I do not know where you are with your budget or where we are with our budget as members to make an improvement in the next three months -- to add in the existing space another washroom, even if we added one female washroom that the women from both sides of the House could use. Frankly, I object to using a unisex washroom after males, and I am saying that as a woman. Everybody uses that washroom. The Ontario Provincial Police use it -- I do not know what number of OPP staff use it -- and I would not mind if there was more access or if we could have one that was solely female.

It seems almost ridiculous to be talking about a washroom at this point in this committee, but it is something that has not been resolved in my almost six years here. When we are so short of time and we have such a tremendous responsibility to serve the people in this province, it is ridiculous that something as basic as that has not been addressed before now.

Clerk of the House: Mrs Marland, I do not know if we have a ready solution for you. I certainly cannot promise you that this will be done during the break. What I can promise you is that we are already looking into that matter. There is no question that you are absolutely right in that the existing facilities are definitely not satisfactory.

This might not be satisfactory as an answer to you, and I realize that, but in the long-term plans there are two more washrooms planned there. That is not the answer you are looking for; you are looking for something a bit more immediate. We are looking at that as well. I have had discussions with the Speaker and with Mrs Speakman about this and we are looking into the possibilities right now of seeing what we can do right away.

Mr Owens: In conversation with our chief whip this morning the subject of washrooms came up. There is some mention -- and maybe the Chair, along with Mr DesRosiers, can go forward on the suggestion that may be made to the Board of Internal Economy -- that the current cavern called the washroom for males only on the second floor be subdivided to provide facilities for both male and female members. Clearly the washroom situation is appalling, and whether it is male or female, I do not particularly enjoy having to use the same washroom that 750 other people are using either. I think you are quite correct that the facilities are not maintained to our obsessive-compulsive standards, but I think that if we can go forward on that suggestion that the chief whip made today, perhaps we may address some mutual concerns here.

The Chair: Maybe that is a suggestion we can follow up and present to the Board of Internal Economy. I understand they are meeting next time in January.

Clerk of the House: It is not a proposal that would have to go to the Board of Internal Economy. There is a management advisory committee here. The Board of Internal Economy would look at things that would be more major than that. I think what Mr Owens is talking about is something that is already under consideration. It is basically a commonsense solution, which is made more evident, as Mrs Marland said, by the increase in the number of female members. That is something that can be adequately covered in the maintenance budget here and then could be looked at very easily.

The Chair: Maybe the two of us will work on that and hopefully when we come back in March that problem will be resolved.

Mr Owens: I do not think it is a gender issue, whether it is males or females. Clearly it is an issue of utility and dignity that we need to look at.

Mrs Marland: Well said.

Mr H. O'Neil: Are you going to touch on other matters too within the building that you would like to see?

Clerk of the House: As I just touched upon briefly here, we do have a management advisory committee that meets every week to consider administrative matters within the building. On that list, just from memory here, there are some items that we are looking at that would be of interest to all of you, I am sure; for example, telephones. There is a new telephone system coming in some time in the new year. It is well under way. I think, offhand again, the deadline there for completion would be April. So that is well advanced.

For your information, there was a motion passed at the Board of Internal Economy last week which went away from the necessity to have a specific guideline on the number of sets that members would be allowed, with the full realization that members do not all work with the same style, shall we say, with the same needs, do not all serve the same size of population or the same kind of constituency. Some are urban, some are rural. In other words, the realization is there that you do have different needs, and therefore the board has accepted a recommendation that the new phone system go ahead without specific guidelines. That will be forwarded to you.

Mr H. O'Neil: Could I touch on that just for a minute? Is there any discussion in that area on fax machines in members' offices?

Clerk of the House: Fax machines, you see, used to be complicated by the number of lines that you were allowed. Therefore, if you were already occupying the full number of lines as a member, you could not dedicate one of those lines to a fax machine. The question of the fax machine, I think, is answered by the budget itself, by your office budget, but the tricky part of it was the office line. That has been answered and in the new phone system that will no longer be a problem.


Around the building as well, as I recollect what our agenda deals with regularly, there is an ongoing issue with the status of the elevators around here. That is being looked at and all the elevators are going to be replaced. Obviously, we are not going to replace them all at the same time. There will be a rotation. We are starting in areas that cry out most for the need. They have all been pronounced as having seen their last useful moments, and that will be going ahead quite rapidly.

Mr H. O'Neil: What is the timing on that?

Clerk of the House: I do not know offhand but I can check on that with Mrs Speakman. She would know the exact time. I think they are going to start with the west wing on the replacement, but I am not positive about that.

Other items around the building: There is a major refit of the restaurant and cafeteria going on. As you know, what our very dedicated staff down there do or are asked to do daily for the members and the staff in preparing meals is something that my wife certainly would not stand for, and I would not stand for when I go into my own kitchen, I tell you, and my kitchen is nothing to crow about. But what they have to work and bear with down there is really awful. So that major refit is going on there and that will be ready for the reopening in March. But there will be no disruption, really, for the period that it is going on.

Mrs Marland: Is that just the kitchen? There are not any changes in the cafeteria area out front for the members or the staff?

Clerk of the House: No, there are no specific changes there as yet, but all the refits of the kitchen will help serve the cafeteria as well. Whatever is being done for the kitchen will be adequate. Part of that work is going on for the cafeteria as well. But there is no planned expansion of the cafeteria area right now. That is an area which will be looked at eventually. That would be in the major plan which the precinct committee that I talked about earlier would be looking at. There is not much space down there to increase capacity. So the members of the precinct committee will have to be looking at different areas of the building maybe to solve that. But that is not for me to discuss. That is for the members themselves, through the precinct committee, to look at.

Mr Owens: Two questions: One, what type of retrofitting is going on within the kitchen? Two, I have heard rumours, or we have all heard rumours, about the re-establishment of a smoking area within the cafeteria.

Clerk of the House: On the second point. I can assure you that has not been discussed at all. There has been no discussion to my knowledge either at the management advisory committee or at any of the subcommittees or indeed of the board, of permitting a restricted area for smoking within the building. The policy is non-smoking throughout the building, and that stands. There is no move at all afoot in any part of this organization and I have not even heard the matter discussed. This is the first time I have heard it discussed.

Mr Owens: It sounds like wishful thinking on the part of some members, I guess. The issue was about the wall that separates, I guess it is the cabinet dining area, from the rest of the folk.

Clerk of the House: It used to be that the little room off the rear of the restaurant there, in the interim when we were fiddling around with smoking and non-smoking, was the smoking area. No, actually it was the non-smoking area. It was the other way around. The board and the management advisory committee did discuss at the time the policy was adopted whether or not there should be provision for smoking or non-smoking in parts of the building, and the cafeteria and the restaurant were discussed at that time, but the management committee decided at that time that if a policy was going to be adopted or recommended to the board for adoption at that time, the management advisory committee would not recommend a halfway measure, that it would go all out, and the board decided to agree with that.

Mr Owens: I can see you are quite exercised about that.

Clerk of the House: I am an ex-smoker. As Clerk here, when it became evident that such a policy was going to come forward, I decided to quit smoking two months before the policy was adopted. So there. I cannot even say that I followed the policy. I went ahead of it.

Mrs Marland: I feel for the staff who work in this building, most of whom work very hard and work very long hours and most of whom, for that reason, do not have time. They do not have an option of even going over to the Whitney Block, which in fact has a far more comfortable -- it does not have any ambience to speak of, but it has the space and the room and everything else that an employees' cafeteria should have. I think that those staff who are locked into this building, along with ourselves as members, do not enjoy somewhere that is accessible for them.

I recognize the space problem downstairs, but a very simple, inexpensive renovation so that those staff in fact do not even have to feel -- if they eat on the inside, it looks and feels like you are eating in the kitchen, frankly, and if you eat on the outside, you are eating in the hallway. A very simple renovation would be just to build a greenhouse effect outside in that hallway; take the wall up a little higher and put the greenhouse enclosure so that at least you would not feel, when you are sitting there, that everybody else who is running back and forth doing whatever they are racing to do, including the post office and the noise and everything there -- frankly, to sit outside there, I always think, gosh, there is all this dust and stuff floating around that is blowing in and landing on my food.

That is not an expensive renovation and it certainly would aesthetically be much nicer and something that I think could be done fairly quickly. I really do feel for the staff in this building who have to eat down there.

Clerk of the House: I completely agree with you. As a sidewalk café, it really does not rate in my book. I can only say at this point that your suggestion, which is an extremely useful one and I thank you for it, is noted. We will look into the feasibility of that. That is a very good idea. Thank you.

Mr Morin: Were there not rumours at one point that the restaurant was to be relocated to the fifth floor because of the problems you were facing with the kitchen and everything? The cost of the kitchen is normally three quarters of the price of the whole restaurant. Was that considered at all?

Clerk of the House: Contrary to the rumour that was floated, supposedly by Mr Owens, I have heard that rumour, but actually it has never gone forward. What is a possibility, and that will be for the members to decide, is that at some point the restaurant will change its venue, will go someplace else, will leave the basement and come out into the sunlight. When that happens, quite a few things will become possible. Now, what the time frame on that is or if that happens at all will be for the members to decide, again through the precinct committee.

What is being thought of there, the idea, is that nothing happen piecemeal. You see, this is a 100-year-old building. This is another project that will be interesting to talk about, because this building will be 100 years old in two years, during the life of this Parliament. Hopefully things will be organized so that you can all participate in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of this building.

To answer Mr O'Neil, this is another of the matters that we are discussing, but in a very preliminary manner and there is nothing specific on it right now.

This is a 100-year-old building. There is an architect on board. He is a heritage type architect. He has been here for nearly a year now, about 10 months I would say. His name is Julian Smith. He was hired by the board. He is a heritage expert who has a lot of experience in the Ottawa area working with older buildings there, with the East Block and the Rideau convent refit in the art gallery. So this person is here, and what this person is doing is looking at the building as it was designed and as it was conceived. The plan that will be going forward to the members will be this type of thing, so that the members will have something they can decide upon.


Also in that plan will be probably a proposal to reintegrate all of the members who might have offices outside the building back into this building. As you know, the precinct right now -- and this has been a very severe problem that we have been dealing with for the last three years. It is coming to a head now and coming to a very fruitful solution, thankfully. This has been the general space problem here. The Office of the Assembly has employees on Bloor Street, on Bay Street. Employees who serve you in the library every day are situated very far from here actually. This is a ridiculous situation. The precinct was defined three years ago as this building and the two first floors of the Whitney Block. The problem has been that we have not been able to get our space in the Whitney building. The first two floors have not been made available to us. We have known that they are ours, but we have not been able to move people like the Ministry of Natural Resources out of there, we have not been able to move the Attorney General's people out of there. I am not complaining about this now, because it is happening. It is going to happen within the next three months. That space will be made available to us, which will permit us to move most of the staff that is presently in this building into the Whitney building, to recuperate the people who are in the LuCliff building on Bay Street and some people on Bloor Street, to recuperate them and bring them into the Whitney building so that we will have all the people who work for you close by. But this building will be able to be dedicated to the members, with a few exceptions -- I do not plan to move -- a few staff exceptions that have to be close to the chamber. Apart from that, all the staff will be moved over there, and that is starting right now. That is starting during this break. So the space problem as we have talked about it for the last three years is coming to a solution, and not too soon.

Mrs Marland: Can I just support what my colleague Mr Morin is saying? If there is to be a major expenditure on the kitchen in the basement -- and frankly, it is a huge laugh when you invite people here to have lunch and you say, "Would you like to come down and have lunch in the members' dining room?" to take them down that atrocious little narrow stairway and into the opposite of ambience where that dining room is located. I think the point is very well made by Gilles that if we are going to consider relocating the dining room, would it not be better to postpone the kitchen and do it all at once. because the kitchen is the major cost?

If we were looking at taking over -- I do not know where all the big spaces are, because we do not use them any more in our party, but room 228 and all those large rooms, wherever the area would be, that would finally mean taking down walls and partitions and so forth, I am sure. The idea of making this building for the members, we all support 100%. It should be for the members, but at the same time, if it is possible to move something from upstairs down into the space occupied currently by the dining room and the kitchen, which is not very much space, I wonder whether now is the time to do it, before we build a new kitchen down there.

Clerk of the House: That point was taken into consideration very seriously. The points that you make are very good ones. The fact of the matter is that the decision was made to go ahead with the refit because we are talking about new equipment here and that equipment will be used in any new location. The amount of money that will be spent is not especially for redesign of cupboards or what have you, but is mainly equipment and so on.

Mrs Marland: So it is transportable.

Clerk of the House: It is all transportable.

The Chair: On that particular point, I understand the amount of money is about $220,000 and all the equipment is mobile, so if the dining room is located elsewhere that equipment can be moved.

Mr Morin: I had also heard that at one point one suggestion made was to purchase a home for the Lieutenant Governor, for his residence, and use his quarters as a restaurant. Did you ever hear that?

Mr H. O'Neil: You mean you are going to touch that one?

Clerk of the House: I am known as a very candid person. Yes, I have heard that rumour as well. If you ask the Lieutenant Governor, he would happily move. I think if you had asked the previous government, it would have gladly moved the Lieutenant Governor. I think if you ask this present government, it would gladly move the Lieutenant Governor. It is a question of how you do that type of thing. That is not for me to say. Because the Lieutenant Governor is the symbol of the Queen here, it is for the government to make that decision.

If the Lieutenant Governor did vacate the Parliament Building, it would be good because it would be good for the Lieutenant Governor, it would be good for the institution and it would be good for a whole lot of things. It is not the best of things to have the Lieutenant Governor in the Parliament Building. If that happens, if the Lieutenant Governor does vacate the premises, then that permits a whole matter of things. That of course would be a possible solution for a restaurant and so on. But that, again, would come through the precinct committee and through consultation process with the members.

Mrs Mathyssen: I wonder, if the Lieutenant Governor's suite was redesignated, would that create problems with official functions that are now held there or would there be another space for that?

Clerk of the House: There would have to be other space for that. Ideally speaking, I think governments will tell you that public functions would probably be better held elsewhere. That is not a very good reception space. It is very nice living quarters, which is not used for that purpose. It is very small space for the type of entertaining that has to be done by a government. This is not parliamentary entertaining; this is government entertaining. A government is limited in the type of entertaining it can do with the space it has.

As you probably know, that two-storey apartment was the apartment of the Speaker beforehand. If it were restored to the use of Parliament, because that is to the use of the Legislature, then the House would decide what it would do with it. It could be partly entertainment and partly Speaker's quarters as well, but that is for the members to decide.

The Chair: Any further questions? None? Thank you very much, Mr DesRosiers. On behalf of the committee, we wish you all the best for the festive season and a prosperous new year.

Clerk of the House: The same to you. Thank you for inviting me. It has been a pleasure. À la prochaine.



The Chair: The next item on the agenda is the report on the television broadcasting system. At this point I would like to welcome Mr Somerville, who is going to give us an overview of the television service of this place.

Mr Somerville: If you give me a few seconds, I will distribute my paperwork.

The Chair: Welcome, Mr Somerville. The floor is yours.

Mr Somerville: As with my boss whom you just spoke to, it is a pleasure to be in front of the committee again. I wish I had had more notice of appearing before you. I would have hopefully prepared more information. I have taken the liberty of putting it in a three-ring binder, hoping you will hold on to the binder and as I get some of the facts I am missing today, I will supplement and send them on to you.

The first item in there is a letter called Preview which really outlines the history of broadcasting and recording at the assembly here, which was introduced on 14 October 1986. It is one of the better broadcasting systems in any legislature throughout the world. In fact, we are the model for most legislatures that have put television in in the last four years. We have had delegation after delegation of parliamentarians coming through looking at the system and taking up most of the items that you see and hopefully enjoy working with.

I will not go through any of these items in detail. If you have any questions on them, you could perhaps stop me and ask the specific point. This brochure is also given out to schoolchildren and people who are interested in broadcasting. It is very basic information on the system.

Behind item 1, I have listed some of the hours we have done. These hours and statistics you see listed there are up to the end of November. You can see the House proceedings that we do live and committee proceedings live if the House is not sitting, then repeat broadcasts of the House or of committee, for a total of 767 hours up until the end of November.

The audio House recording profile of broadcasting people: We also do all the audio recordings for all committees and public meetings in the building. We have recorded 372 audio meetings that were not televised.

Our broadcast schedule is from 1:15 to 11:30 on Monday and then, as you see, Tuesday from 10 to 11:30. Any time the House is sitting we are broadcasting live and then we repeat the broadcast of the afternoon session in the evening. On Friday we replay all committee recordings that were not broadcast live or that we could not broadcast the day after. We try to broadcast every recording we produce within the week it was recorded.

For example, if we recorded a committee meeting on Monday afternoon, we would rebroadcast that on Tuesday morning, being that the House does not sit on Tuesday morning. So we rebroadcast Monday afternoon's committee meeting on Tuesday morning starting at 10 o'clock.

The times you see here are approximate. As you know, the House can run late. I think last Thursday night we finished replaying about 3 o'clock in the morning. We will try to get everything replayed on the week it happens.

Mr McClelland: Margaret knows because she was watching.

Mr Somerville: And hopefully enjoying.

Mrs Marland: Are you kidding?

Mr Somerville: Our repeat broadcast on the Sunday, we repeat the first 90 minutes or up until the end of question period every day. So that is four 90-minute segments that make up the Sunday afternoon broadcasting. I was very pleased with that. It was a request from the public which called and sent a few letters saying, "Why don't you have some of the parliamentary proceedings on a Sunday afternoon?" With the previous Legislative Assembly committee, we decided this should be done.

Mrs Marland: This is a serious question. Why would you run something until 3 o'clock in the morning? Do you think our public are that keen?

Mr Somerville: I would not like to be the one who decides when to stop and when to cut it off. I made the decision with the past Speaker that we do not interrupt any play. If we start a replay, we will go until it is finished.

Mr Morin: And people do listen.

Mr Somerville: Yes, they do.

Mr Morin: They do listen. You would be amazed.

Mrs Marland: But last week when the House sat until midnight three nights, are you saying that you start to rerun it after midnight?

Mr Somerville: When the House sat until midnight we did not start a replay that night because we would have been replaying until 11 the following morning.

Mrs Marland: That is what I mean.

Mr Somerville: No, we did not replay on the nights when we sat until 12. But the night that we finished at eight o'clock, we started the replay, which did finish at two or three in the morning. My goal is to get as much of your debates as I can on the air and out to the public.

Mrs Marland: Could I just ask you, since you are talking about the broadcast schedule and you are talking about it starting at 1:15, I notice that we now have something quite new and different at 1:15. In fact, some days we have these outside shots and I like what is being done. I am just wondering how difficult that has been. I notice that there is something on the monitor here.

Mr Somerville: That is the Christmas card.

Mrs Marland: Oh, that is the Christmas card.

Mr Somerville: That was a summer project the staff took on to keep fairly occupied. Each member of staff was given the opportunity to produce 60 seconds' worth of video about the building and we have eight of them now that we rotate through the system. It is like a small promo for the Parliament and the building and we hopefully show it in all seasons and all different bits of the building.

Mrs Marland: It is excellent. It is really well done. I have really enjoyed watching it. Are you also going to go back to including in that time slot a similar format to what you had before, explaining the House with shots --

Mr Somerville: Yes. As soon as the Speaker gets time on his agenda, it is on the calendar to produce another introduction to the assembly with the new Speaker. You will find, when I get to another item in the book here, that this is a major production goal we have during the next three months, to update all of the previous recorded video with the new parliamentary members in it. We have to change premiers and speakers and all of the proceedings, which is a major job because most of our programs are built around the members and when the members change it is almost creating a new program. Do you want me to move on a bit faster?

The Chair: Our talk is running late here. I wonder if you could just continue to make your presentation and we maybe will hold off questions until the end.

Mr Somerville: I will just briefly mention TVOntario and La Chaîne française. They are still welcome partners with us that repeat the question period in their evening schedule, normally about 11 or 11:25, and they have a repeat broadcast of the question period only. That is of benefit to people who are not on the cable system who still have to have antennas and pick up the signals off the air.

The major innovation that happened just a few weeks ago was the live captioning. That was a huge innovation and a major step forward for this Parliament and any Parliament. In fact, we are the only Parliament in the world that is doing live captioning, a major undertaking and very successful.

With the indulgence of the members who have seen it before, I have a seven-minute recap of the broadcasting service. It would probably save some time if I could show it in its entirety, with your approval. Some members will have seen it before, but you may get some points from it. This is one of the programs we have to change some of the faces in.

[Video presentation]


Mrs Marland: I did catch the new edition today and I just think that we should be so proud of our in-house staff. That is such a professional production, everything that they have done. It is of particular interest for me because I was on the committee that went across Canada and to a number of places in the United States when we first were reviewing the possibility of having electronic Hansard in this House. I guess it is four years now or so that we have had it. I am very proud of the talent of the technical and administrative staff who have run our electronic Hansard for the last four years and who have the ability to put together those kinds of presentations that we now have. They have really excelled and I think we are all very appreciative of that.

The Chair: I think I echo everybody else on the committee with the same sentiments.

Mr O'Connor: As a parliamentary assistant, I am not located in this building. I am up at St Clair and Avenue Road. I know members in here can have some Hansard recalled and programmed up to their office. I wonder how you duplicate a similar service for members not located here.

Mr Somerville: Ongoing for the last two years, I have been working with the Ministry of Government Services, trying to find ways of getting the signals to ministries that are outside the Queen's Park complex, which for television distribution runs from this building to the west side of Yonge, south of Wellesley and north of College. Anything outside that area is not covered on the in-house system. We are getting much closer. In fact, we hope to have a solution by March, by the time you come back. There is a new technology that just came on the market maybe nine months ago called multichannel microwave distribution system, so we are looking into having one transmitter located somewhere in the centre of the Queen's Park complex that will take in areas within a three-mile radius of the Parliament here. Hopefully you will get all nine channels and become an ardent viewer. If I could just make a point on that video, it mentioned that the caucus communication departments use the video and edit. At the moment, most of the caucus video and communication departments are not up to full speed or full staffing in that department, so we are still sort of negotiating and getting things done between us, but that will happen in the near future. There were major changes in all parties in the communications departments, and it takes everyone a chance to break it in again.

Mrs Mathyssen: What time is the news broadcast in the morning?

Mr Somerville: At eight o'clock and 9:30, but I have this in another item.

Mr Villeneuve: I am sorry I was not able to be here sooner, but I was in the chair in the Legislature.

There have been concerns brought to me by people out in the rural part of Ontario who do not have access to cable and are not likely to have access to cable. That may be beyond your mandate. I believe they receive it through the normal TVO general broadcast or telecast. The problem is, those who want to see question period -- and I am surprised how many want to see question period -- have to wait up until midnight. It goes from midnight until 1. They seem to think there would be more opportune timing for question period. I am surprised, again, at how many people deem it an education, if you will, and some may call it other things, to watch question period. I would certainly like to initiate, either from this committee. from your guidance -- and I happen to be one of the Friends of TVO from my party -- but we have to look into a better or more opportune time for many who want to see question period. You do an excellent job, I feel, at broadcasting it. I have been told on a number of occasions that our quality of broadcast is superior to that from Parliament Hill and I think that is a feather in your hat, sir, but we need a more opportune time for those people to see question period. Can you give us guidance?

Mr Somerville: I would suggest that this committee contact TVO directly. I did about two and a half years ago when we tried to get them to extend their televised coverage from the House to more than question period. At that time they turned that offer down. It is at no cost to them. We have the cables between here and TVO and we transmit the signals to them and then they broadcast them to the public, so there is no cost to them involved in doing what you suggest. If you could change the programming schedule, it is a purely internal matter for TVO.

I am not surprised at the numbers. I too get lots of phone calls from people who tell me it is too late.

Mr Villeneuve: Mr Yeager, would it be in order for us to express the concerns? I do not know whether there are other members from rural areas expressing the same thoughts, but I have certainly had that expressed to me in the last month or so. I wonder if this committee could possibly discuss it with TVOntario or put a suggestion forth.

Mr Yeager: The clerk might be better able to answer that, but I would expect the committee can invite anybody it wants from TVO, or anybody else, to discuss this matter. There is probably market research that is available to all the television stations which would tell how many people are presently watching the broadcast either directly from here or indirectly by TVO or the French network. So that type of thing could probably be arranged.

The Chair: On that particular point, maybe I can take it away and I will discuss it later with the clerk and see if we can come up with some answers.

I have a question, if you do not mind. It arose out of a meeting of the chairmen of the committees and the clerks this morning and it was in relation to split screening for signing. There was some concern expressed that it was not happening in this particular room.

Mr Somerville: We did that on one occasion with the past Speaker. He did not think it was in our mandate to do that. Since then there has been some discussion among the members, in particular this committee with its previous members, and they thought this type of coverage should be extended. We have technically no problems in doing it; we just need the Speaker to give the go-ahead. We are technically capable of doing it. With your direction, I will approach the Speaker and hopefully we will be in business by the next meeting.

The Chair: Is it the wish of this committee to approach the Speaker to do that?

Agreed to.

The Chair: You have the permission of the committee.

Mr Somerville: Okay.

If you want to move on to the second index there, I have just laid out the budget for the 1989-90 year, and I am in the process of preparing the 1990-91 year which will be almost identical and, if you can believe it, probably a few dollars cheaper than last year.

The administration covers salaries and office expenses, telephones, everything. The TVO one is rather a misnomer there. That includes our satellite rental fee, which is the major expense for broadcast and recording services. We have very little control over that. It is a federally controlled satellite run by Telesat Canada and we just pay the going rate. We have the satellite, we have a dedicated channel to the Parliament which we are on all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It may seem extravagant, the number of hours we use, but it is by far the cheapest way. If we go as the full-time user that we are classified as, we get a much cheaper rate than if we were an occasional user. For the first session in 1986 we were an occasional user and it cost us almost as much as it did for full-time use for 12 months of the year. That cost includes satellite rental, maintenance, operation of the total uplink.

The closed-captioning services you see are -- what we did in the past was delayed captioning. We captioned during the afternoon break and then we replayed programs at night with captioning on them. Now, as you know, we have changed to live captioning. I am preparing a budget for next year, but it will not be very much different from the current budget.

The electronic components are to keep the plant operating. We are into our fifth year now. Probably electronic components have a lifespan of seven to eight years, so we are beyond our halfway mark. In fact, during the recess we will be putting new picture tubes in all the cameras in the chamber. They are showing the worse for wear. You may look at the pictures and think, "Oh, they're good enough," but they are not quite good enough and we have to spend a lot of time every morning now trying to get them to look the same so that no matter which camera you are taken on, you look the same, so that you do not look as though you have an illness on one camera and look fine on another. That is becoming more and more of a chore, so hopefully when you come back in March you will see a marked difference.

The tape stock, that is the one I hope to save some money on next year. The cost of tape has gone down since everybody now has home VCRs, and the tape market has expanded so the prices have dropped. Hopefully we will see some saving there. All of the tape that we record on goes to the archives, so it is not a replenishing amount. We store the tape in this building for two years and then after two years we run out of storage space. It goes to the archives, where it is maintained for ever. I am pleased to say that we are now getting calls for tapes back from three and four years ago. They may come back to haunt some of you members, but for me it is reassuring that the system is being used and videotape is being used by broadcasters and the public and television programmers.

Mr H. O'Neil: From whom would you get a request like that?

Mr Somerville: We get requests from all the broadcasters -- CBC, CTV. There have been a couple of specials on some of the members in the new government, which drew tapes out of the archives. We get one or two requests a month for tapes at least two years old.

Mr Villeneuve: Is there a charge for them?

Mr Somerville: No, there is no charge. The companies supply a blank tape and they pay any dubbing charge, but there is no charge for getting access to the tape.

The Chair: I was just wondering if we could hold questions until the end of the presentation as the clock is running late.

Mr Somerville: On the committee room audio system, this is an ongoing thing. Last year we replaced all the equipment in committee room 1, and I will go back to the board in March for funds to replace room 228 or committee room 2. I would like this committee's guidance on which room it would like to replace next. We are favouring 228, being it is the largest room at the moment, so any input and guidance I can get from the members who use the facilities is great.

Also, while on the committee facilities, a project that I have worked on unsuccessfully for a couple of years is trying to replace the furniture in the committee rooms and trying to come to a much more manageable design in furniture, a simple design that can accommodate the electronics. The electronics are built into these desks and we are continually having to take them out and unwire the desks, which are connected to each other. There must be a better solution. If I can get any help to get that done -- last year with the previous committee's assistance, I took it to the board to replace the furniture, but unfortunately it was not funded at that time. It is not a major expense, but I think all committee chairmen have to get together to decide what they would like in the way of furniture and the seating arrangement.

The Chair: On that particular point, again, the committees' chairs in the meeting this morning indicated that a letter will be written indicating to do something about the furniture in the committee rooms. Hopefully, we can have some action on that soon.

Mr Somerville: Great. TENO, the television extension in northern Ontario program, has been ongoing for the last three years. This is the current budget, which will not be spent this year. They have been delayed with weather and for multiple reasons. There have been a lot of delays in the CRTC approvals of this licensing and they were just granted a year's extension on Monday night by the Board of Internal Economy. So that budget will be carried on to the 1991-92 budget and hopefully the program will finish on 31 March 1992. Are there any questions on the budget?


The Chair: Are there any questions on the budget? No.

Mr Somerville: Item 3 is really just a very basic satellite plan. I get quite a few questions from the members, "How far does our satellite go?" If you look at the inner circle on that top map, our satellite coverage at the moment is cut off somewhere between Winnipeg and Regina. That does not say you cannot get a picture, but it is a weak picture. It is fair in Winnipeg and weak in Regina. That is where our coverage sort of falls off. Come the summer of 1991, we will be able to cover all of Canada in that major circle you see. We will be changing our satellite from Anik C to Anik E II, which is a stronger satellite, a newer satellite which will be launched in March. Then we will have complete Canada coverage, so when you are on vacation in Vancouver you can watch us working back here.

The bottom is just a simplified drawing but it may be of interest, being the Premier's statement today. The satellite can be accessed from anywhere in the province. It does not have to be in a major city or suburban area. You can get it on the back of a truck and touch the satellite from anywhere in the province. Once you are on the satellite, it truly is broadcasting throughout the province or, as of the summer of 1991, we will be throughout Canada.

The next drawing I have here is a very basic diagram of how our system works, being we have cameras in the chamber, cameras in the Amethyst Room, this room we are in and cameras in the media studio, which are all fed into a master control room where we then divide up the signal and send part of it on to the satellite via TVO, part of it to our in-house channels you see here, to the press and the media gallery. We feed them a slightly different signal from the one you see in your office, being there are no members' names, there are no party ridings on it. We give them what you call a clean feed. They can put their supers or your titles on whenever it suits them and the picture. The other line goes to the Bell TOC, television operation centre, where any broadcaster can access the signal, American broadcasters, British broadcasters, they just have to call Bell up and say, "I would like a feed of the Ontario Parliament." That can be accessed through the Bell television centre.

The down links you see are the cable companies that normally have satellite dishes tuned to the satellite, which receive our signals and then pass them on to the home viewers. I have put a box there for individual receivers, who could be people in the rural communities with a satellite dish in their gardens or whatever. All our stuff is public.

Next to that I have a list of all the cable companies in Ontario that carry our signal and the channels they are on. You may find this useful when you are out in the riding; you can look up the company or the town or city and you would find out which cable company operates there and which channel the Parliament should be on. I would appreciate, if you run across any mistakes or errors in here, or some cable company breaks down, your telling me on the telephone as soon as you can. Then I can get on their case and find out what has happened.

Interjection: Your home phone number?

Mr Somerville: If you get that desperate, yes. We had a couple of problems after the recess with one particular television company. I think they got a new technician who went around retuning all the programs and he tuned in the French channel. As you know, we broadcast in English and French, so he tuned all the English out and people all over the St Catharines area were receiving us in French. I had to get the phone call before I could make the correction there. That is what the next six pages are, the companies throughout the province that carry us. You see we go to 97% of the cable companies in the province.

If I can move on to item 4, the in-house distribution you are probably familiar with, all the things we put on, I am open to suggestions if you have a good idea or something you would like done. Mrs Marland was saying to me she likes the news digest, if she can get in at 8 o'clock to watch last night's news. As you know, at home you can only watch one television station. If you come in early to work you can watch all local TV stations. We edit nine news channels and take all the political items out so you can watch them all in the morning.

Mr H. O'Neil: What time is that again?

Mr Somerville: At 8 o'clock and 9. If the news digest runs long on a particular day, we delay it until 9:30. So 8 o'clock the first time, then at 9:30 we repeat it. That is on channel 8 and 58. I put a daily schedule about three pages down from there. You have a breakdown of the in-house distribution, just some of the highlights we put on, and then I have shown you your television menu or television fare.

I have given you a sample. This is our internal sheet with our program for the day, or for the week. Come January, I will be adding more programs. You saw one on the British Parliament there. I will add that to the television menu in January. I know everyone has been too busy to worry about what they do in Britain. But starting in January I will be playing more information things from Britain and from Washington that I think you would be interested in.

Mr H. O'Neil: You are talking about channels 8 and 58 here in the building.

Mr Somerville: Yes.

Mr H. O'Neil: Can any of this stuff be picked up outside the building?

Mr Somerville: Only within the Queen's Park complex. If we go and get this small distribution system, it still will be only picked up within government buildings. The specific building up on Bloor Street or St Clair will have to get a special receiver to receive these signals.

We are just at the moment, and by the time you come back will be improving our news information channel. We are just integrating a new computer into the system which has much more exciting graphics, I think, and we will be putting other items on it, so hopefully you will pay more attention to the channel. I am finding out that people are used to the same information coming out, so I am looking for ways to make it more relevant to your daily work. Items that will be on it in the near future will be the leaders' schedules and the Lieutenant Governor's schedule. So we will tell you daily what the leaders are up to, what meetings they are up to.

This is some of the information we will be putting on come January. This also will be broadcast to the public. I get complaints from the public that we do not do enough. They would like to know more of the business that is happening and would like to have advance notice of what bills are going to be debated that day. As soon as I get the information from the Clerk's office at 10 or 10:30, then we will put that on the new system.

[Video presentation]


Mr Somerville: This is all produced in-house with our own staff. We can schedule someone two or three hours to do it between committee hearings or whatever else you are involved in. Also, l will be putting a telephone machine on the system so that people can phone in 24 hours a day and we can collect the calls and get back to them in the morning

These are some of the items you are interested in coming up. This will be in-house service. We would not broadcast this. Again, here is your news digest. This is advertising the television system. On channel 8 you will see these programs. There is the hot new item. We will have the dining room menu on.

So that is it. If you would like just to go on there, I will briefly mention the video productions. I said earlier it would be a major editing job to update everything to change the faces in it, also a major job that I get from all the television stations. Over the last years I have compiled a stock shot tape of 30 seconds of every member of Parliament. We are taking you off every time you get up and we list them on a tape alphabetically and then I send free copies to all the television stations. So there is at least 30 seconds of you in action in the House. That is your stock shot tape and, as I say, there is the major editing job of updating all our programs to show the 35th Parliament in action.

If you go to item 6, that is just a very brief list of our dub requests and these are --

Mr H. O'Neil: Could I go back to what you were talking about, the video productions again, because some of us have cable shows in our own ridings, we can pick up any of those and sort of do an introduction to them and use them.

Mr Somerville: Oh yes, I would be pleased to give them. Also, I briefly mention, at least two of the caucuses are not set up with the media department yet and we have been sort of assisting them in providing material. This has increased our workload, but I am sure it will fall off once the departments get organized.

In theory, working for the assembly broadcasting and recording service, we cannot be seen to be working individually for a member, compiling a television program for him. We can give you excerpts of your own work on the floor or in committees, but I could not compile a specific program for a member. For example, I could not make you a cable show program but I can give you the material for a cable show. You have to come up with the date and the time of your speech and I will give you that speech on a blank tape that you supply, then you take it to the cable company and it will package it for you.

Mr H. O'Neil: What you have here is the video productions of all the news digests.

Mr Somerville: Yes.

Mr H. O'Neil: You would provide the news digests for a particular day or a week?

Mr Somerville: Yes, we provide the news digests daily. We record all the news during the evening, all the early news broadcasts, and then I have someone who comes in at 7 o'clock and edits all the political items and compiles them -- it is usually 40 to 60 minutes long -- and then we replay them in the morning at 8 o'clock.

Mr H. O'Neil: Do you say there are tapes if somebody wanted to borrow that tape?

Mr Somerville: Well, the news digest, I would have to get the broadcaster's permission.

Mr H. O'Neil: I see.

Mr Somerville: They have never refused but I make a point of always asking them on every request.

The Chair: Again, perhaps I could beg the indulgence of the committee members to hold their questions to the end of the presentation. His talk is running late and the Sergeant at Arms is late with his presentation.

Mr Somerville: The dub is very easy to understand. That is just the number of dubs we do on a specific month, and as I have mentioned there could be 90 seconds which is a member's statement, as you know, or it could be a complete committee meeting. We have had to dub a few of them. That is an enormous job because videotape has to be dubbed in real time. If you have any call for a dub or you see some dub coming up and you would like a copy of this committee, if you can tell us ahead or organize it with your own caucus or have a VCR in your own office, we can assist you in making the recordings. If you come to us after the fact, if the committee sits for 18 hours, then we have to spend 18 hours with a person supervising two machines for 18 hours. It is a lot of time.

If you go to item 6, there is another diagram there, B, and I have placed it in with the technical, a couple of paragraphs that I have there.

During the summer we replaced all of the audio facilities in committee room 1 to be identical to the ones in this room. For new members, this room was similar to 228 and all the microphones and the speakers on your desks are new. Also, there is the muting switch, which is a privacy button if your microphone is on and you can get that by the red light. If you would like to cut it off yourself, you just have to hold this button and that will cut off your microphone. I will demonstrate it now.

I have seen members on television and they grab the mike and the members used to have to cover the mike to cut it off. Now you have this muting button so you can cut the mike off yourself if you want a private conversation with your colleague next door.

Also, in this room we put in, and I have noticed members using, the infrared system. If you want to listen to this committee in English on channel 1, if you would like to listen to the interpreters on channel 2 or else the House broadcast on channel 3, it is a matter of plugging in the earpiece and then you can tune it in.

We seem to have lost a lot of the importance of this. Members used to like to listen to the House but now you can read it on the captioning and keep up. It is of great value to opposition parties that do not have a lot of members and are spread so thin; they have to be in committee and in the House at the same time.

For members' information, that was brought around by this committee which came to me with the proposal and said: "We would like to do this. We have to be in two places at once. How can we solve it?" I said, "The system being what it is, this is the solution." We put this on the infrared audio system and also installed television monitors in all committee rooms. This is the sort of feedback I need from this committee to look after the members' interests to get things done.

I briefly mention in the last paragraph on that page that the equipment is getting old and so our costs of maintenance will go up over the life of this Parliament, even to the cost of replacing some equipment. I think that in two years we will be into another recording technology, hopefully videodisks, something that takes up a lot less space than the current videotapes, but I have been delaying any decision on that until the new technology gets settled in.

I have put in a copy of an old article, "Will The Government Get Good Ratings?" That is really a very technical article on the system, but it is still true. All the things that are mentioned there are still currently in the system and in use. If you have to write a paper or give a technical talk, there is lots of material in there that you could pick on and should feel free to use.

On item 7, this was another item that continually was brought before this committee, use of our transponder, which is another word for a satellite transmitter. When the House was not sitting we have had applications from different groups that would like to use the time on the satellite. Commercially at this time it is worth anything from $600 an hour to $1,400 an hour, so if the committee or the Speaker decides to give the transponder to an interested party, then you are saving it a fair amount of money and also giving it the opportunity to broadcast throughout the province.

Last year we had three applications, two from the one group. We have had an ongoing agreement with the Wawatay Native Communications Society over the last four years. They used two hours of satellite time, as you can see there, on Saturday from 1 until 2 and then on Sunday from 6 until 7. They broadcast at these hours. It involves no work or cost to the assembly or to any of the staff who work for me, and these broadcasts are in the native languages, in Cree and Ojibway. The program quality I cannot say enough about. The change in four years has just been tremendous. They have done a marvellous job, the people who work for Wawatay, and produce very credible programming.

The other application, from the Ontario Cable Telecommunications Association, was one that it brought to us, wanting to get on the satellite to broadcast a program throughout the province. They had a joint production group within the association and they made a program on the environment that they thought all of the province should see. They proposed to use the satellite as a distribution network.

The committee thought that they were a commercial enterprise and that they should be able to find the facilities within their own means and turned them down on that. They turned them down on the grounds of the guidelines, of which I have put a copy at the end of this section 7. These are ongoing rules and guidelines that the committee has stood by. I think they are fairly good guidelines. They were developed by this committee in the past and they have worked for us. I would recommend that you carefully consider them. There was a lot of time put into them. I think they are very good guidelines.

Another item in that section 7 is a letter I just received yesterday from the Wawatay native society that in the past came before this committee and asked for transponder time. You can see that this is a letter of intent. He says that he would like similar times as we gave him last year, which was four hours in March and four hours in June, and continually ongoing use of the satellite on Saturday and Sunday. He is also asking for a piece of an audio channel on the satellite.

The satellite communications are quite unique. We have one video channel, but we have seven audio channels. That comes as a package. We use English on one channel and French on another, but we do not use the other five channels at the moment and this Wawatay native society is asking for the use of one of these unused audio channels. You will see in the letter that they want to do some communications into schools and teaching native languages. But there is no rush on this item. He would like a decision probably by March and it would be at this committee's discretion.

I truthfully have not raised this with the Speaker yet. The past Speaker's procedure was that I would take this letter to him with a report from me, and then in the past he usually referred the matter to this committee which then guided him on the decision. I do not know whether the new Speaker will treat it the same way, but I will be taking this letter. It just came in today, but I thought I would bring it to your attention in case you have to do some House business to consider this matter.

Item 8 is a breakdown and a summary of the television extension in northern Ontario project, which I brought for your information. At the back of it are all the districts, councils, small towns and cities that have benefited from the TENO project. It is a project to get television into northern Ontario where it is not economical for either commercial companies or small towns or bands to bring television in. The project is to bring the Ontario Parliament and the two TVOntario channels as a package. We share the cost of it. The Board of Internal Economy and the Ministry of Northern Development share the cost. The board and the assembly pay 39% of the cost, with the ministry paying 61% of the cost. It is very successful and a further year's extension was approved by the board on Monday just past.

Item 9 I think wraps it up for me. Thank you for your time and your patience. If you have any questions, I will be pleased to answer.

Mr H. O'Neil: A very short one to facilitate the members. If members are getting up, they know they are getting up to ask a question in the Legislature. What is the best way to handle that if you want to take that and get it back to your own TV stations?

Mr Somerville: If your caucus is not set up to record it for you, then give me prior warning. Say: "I'm going to get up and ask a question today. I'd like a copy of it." You would supply a tape to me. We will put it in the machine and you can have it the moment you sit down. That is the best way to get it done. It saves our time, it saves machine wear and tear and you can have it immediately you are finished speaking.

Mr Cooper: You have productions in planning here. Have any of them started yet, and the ones that have, are you doing them all in-house?

Mr Somerville: All in-house, yes.

Mr Cooper: They are being done here.

Mr Somerville: Yes. The only time we go outside is that I usually go outside for a narrator or to rent a piece of equipment. On occasion we have hired a director, but 99% of it is done in-house.

Mr Cooper: Are they ongoing now or are they still in the planning stages?

Mr Somerville: They are ongoing. These are make-work jobs. When the House is not sitting or we run out of committees to televise, then we get into our production mode. We do not produce as fast and as often as I would like, but we are at the call of the House and committees. The productions are filler jobs.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation here today. On behalf of the committee, the best of the season and a prosperous new year.

Mr Somerville: Thank you. If the members would hold on to this binder here, I will pass more information to you. As with the last committee, if I see articles that I think you would be interested in, on legislative broadcasting or the media, I will send you copies and you may want to keep them in this binder in the blank item 9 or 10. Thank you for your time.

The Chair: Our next item of business is dealing with security. I would like to welcome to the committee the Sergeant at Arms, Mr Stelling. Before we begin the presentation and ask questions, this part of the proceedings is normally held in camera and I would entertain a motion to that effect right now. It has been moved by Mr Owens. All those in favour? Agreed.

The committee continued in camera at 1725.