Wednesday 26 January 1994

Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act \ Loi sur l'accès à l'information municipale et la protection de la vie privée


*Chair / Président: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln ND)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)

Dadamo, George (Windsor-Sandwich ND)

Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND)

MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton ND)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex ND)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

*Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East/-Est L)

*Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford ND)

Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Elston, Murray J. (Bruce L) for Mrs Sullivan

Hayes, Pat (Essex-Kent ND) for Mr Paul Johnson

Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent ND) for Mrs MacKinnon

Malkowski, Gary (York East/-Est ND) for Mr Sutherland

Mammoliti, George (Yorkview ND) for Mr Dadamo

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North/-Nord L) for Mr McClelland

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC) for Mr Villeneuve

White, Drummond (Durham Centre ND) for Mrs Mathyssen

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Platt, Priscilla, legal adviser, freedom of information and privacy branch, Management Board of Cabinet

Clerk pro tem / Greffière par intérim: Manikel, Tannis

Staff / Personnel: Swift, Susan, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1013 in the Trent Room, Macdonald Block, Toronto.


The Chair (Mr Ron Hansen): Before us today we have the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I believe all the members yesterday received the Summary of Issues and Recommendations, and the order of business today would be going over that summary to write our report.

Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): I'd like to ask our researcher, Ms Swift, if she's got any suggestions for how we might go through this.

Ms Susan Swift: I've thought about that. If we want to pattern this report after the 1991 report, which makes some sense because presumably they'll be read together, we should follow the outline of that previous report, and I've tried to do that in setting out the summary of recommendations. Having said that, however, committee members might feel there are some issues of more importance than others, and we might want to deal with those first and then go through the ones that seem to be of lesser significance.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): That makes sense. We know there are some issues that were brought to our attention repeatedly, so why not start with these ones because they're all fresh in our memory and then after that let's tackle the others. The ones that were brought up repeatedly are the most important ones, obviously, and need our immediate attention.

Mr Paul Wessenger (Simcoe Centre): I would concur with that suggestion except that I think we ought not to deal with the aspect of extending coverage of the act to other groups until we deal with the other items. I think we would like additional information on that aspect before we make recommendations on how to proceed.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd concur with Mr Wessenger, although to debate whether we should extend to other institutions such as hospitals and universities, I think some time will have to be spent in hearing comments from those institutions and others about the issue raised yesterday with Mr Wright, the issue of cost for all sectors.

We are here because the act says we have to be here: The legislation says it must be reviewed on or before December 31, 1993. That's why we're doing this. My concern is that if we make our report, there's no reason this committee would ever return to this, unless we agree to return to this subject. I agree with what Mr Wessenger says, that it's probably premature to get into that discussion because we don't know enough about it yet. My concern is that we'll proceed with the report and then never return to it.

Mr Wessenger: There is a recommendation that could be made, as discussed yesterday, with respect to meeting with the various groups. Maybe we could deal with that first. I think Mr Hope has a motion.

Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): After listening to some conversations, there were valid points raised by everyone; even Murray had raised some points. I would like to deal with this issue of expansion, as we were asked to by the minister, taking into consideration the concerns that were raised during the hearing process. I would like to make a motion to the effect that we meet with the interested parties to discuss the expansion of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to include hospitals, children's aid societies, universities.

I would also like to stress, in relationship to what was just brought up, that the meetings be conducted very quickly and a report produced in a very short time frame, because it is important for us to move on it. As indicated, usually when it gets recommended, it gets forgotten about. I would like to see it dealt with right away, in a short period, to consult with those interested parties and expedite the process of making sure we act responsibly towards the general public.

The Chair: Maybe I missed a little. Do we write the report basically mirrored on this and then go on to the hospitals etc, or are you putting it all in one report?

Mr Hope: In this report, there are things we can deal with that we've heard presentations on and we know about. On expansion, there are still unknowns and we haven't been able to consult with the groups. Instead of getting into lengthy discussion about whether or not they're included, there has to be the opportunity for the interested parties to come forward.

I'm asking that the committee meet with the interested parties on the expansion of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or the act itself, to look at including the hospitals, children's aid societies and universities. I want to stress that the meetings be conducted within a very short time frame so we can be responsive to the general public, which has raised concerns.

The Chair: Mr Hope, could you write a very short motion? We can discuss it when you've got it written down, because what you had was quite lengthy. Meanwhile, we'll go to Mr Elston.


Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): I think we could finalize a report around all the material on the municipal freedom of information act, and dedicate ourselves a separate section with respect to universities, hospitals and children's aid societies wherein we say something to the effect -- at least from my point of view, and I think generally the committee is in agreement -- that steps be taken to include these institutions in the act after appropriate hearings have been held.

I haven't heard much dissent around this table, even from some of the presenters who were making presentations on other matters or from any of the members generally. I think our interest and intent is to follow along the expansion, and our reluctance is only from a standpoint of fairness with respect to the institutions to be studied.

There is at least one organization, the Ministry of Health, that probably has all kinds of material that could be brought forward fairly quickly. The information on the universities is that they have worked on their own program but nothing has come forward. I don't know about any contacts with colleges or education, whatever that ministry is now called, and I don't know too much about what Community and Social Services has to say with respect to children's aid societies.

From my point of view, I think we could probably tie a ribbon around this report by following through the recommendations we want to make with respect to the presentations on the municipal side from school boards and others, and then the recommendation that follow-up work be done and that it be completed and a report finalized for next fall.

In my view, I don't think it would be fair to assume we could sit, have these hearings and be prepared to move any quicker than having a draft bill to include those others before next fall. It probably would be full of more errors than we might like if we move more quickly than that. My recommendation would be to do the report and have a section that requires us to complete a draft bill from the committee's work by next fall to incorporate universities and colleges, children's aid societies and the administrative functions of the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Tilson: As Mr Hope is writing his motion, I have no problem with what is being said as long as it's agreed that there be some formality -- I gather it would be the House leaders agreeing -- that this committee in due course have some form of hearings on this additional topic.

Mr Hope: I suggest that the report deal with what we're talking about. I believe it should be a recommendation of the committee as a whole, all of us, to all our House leaders that we would like to expedite this process of making sure there are public hearings held and that as a committee we decide how it happens. I didn't put it in the motion because I thought it was an issue about the responsibility of the committee versus the actual report we wish to put forward. I was separating the two, but if they want it in the motion, I have no problem with that.

Mr Drummond White (Durham Centre): I want to make a brief comment about this issue of the extension of the municipal freedom of information act. I think it's a very serious issue. We are talking about expanding it to include hospitals, where there's an expenditure of something in the neighbourhood of $12 billion per year, children's aid societies, colleges and universities and other public bodies funded by the provincial government, nursing homes, homes for the aged and others, that are significantly funded institutions.

Were we to simply make that a recommendation from this committee without thoroughly investigating the ramifications, without hearing representations from those bodies, I don't think that recommendation would necessarily be fruitful. I think we need to consider seriously what the implications are. Essentially, in my mind it means an effective doubling of an already very significant act, and I don't think we can do that without knowing what the effects will be. That's why the recommendation that we have additional hearings makes a great deal of sense. Some of the other issues in terms of the application of the MFIPPA could be summarized and dealt with at this point. But that extension is a very significant one, and we want to be sure it has the appropriate impact and that it is not something we are simply sloughing off on to government knowing that it may or may not be adhered to.

Mr Sterling: The committee is charged by the act, not the House leaders, in this matter; therefore, I would like to get on with dealing with what we've heard. After we've dealt with this, which will take probably the rest of this week, then why don't we deal with the other issue? I'm willing to vote on it. Obviously, we can't make a recommendation on this, as everybody has said, until the other side has a say. Why don't we just postpone that? We're obviously not going to do that during this recess. The report won't be final; we don't have to finish it until the end of this year. Let's get on with writing what we can about what we've heard vis-à-vis the purposes of this act, then deal with the other part later. I don't see what the big discussion's about.

Mr Pat Hayes (Essex-Kent): We're talking about expanding the act. I suggest we go ahead with Mr Hope's resolution right now, just to avoid a lot of unnecessary discussion at present, until we have the interested individuals or groups that may have concerns come before the committee; also, of course, to address Mr White's concerns about costs and all these things. I think it would be wise to pass the motion and get on with the report, rather than have a lengthy discussion on that one particular issue and hold things up.

Mr Wessenger: It seems to me we have a reasonable amount of consensus around this room. I know we have differing detailed suggestions. I'm going to ask the researcher whether she feels there is sufficient consensus to draft a recommendation based on the input of the members. She's listened to the discussion. She could incorporate all the views, in my opinion. I've listened to them, and I think they could pretty well be incorporated into a comprehensive recommendation. I'm asking whether she thinks that's possible, that there's sufficient consensus from what she's heard to go ahead.

It appears to me that we all agree we want to deal with the extension of the act to these other institutions, want to deal with it as a committee, and that's what Mr Hope's motion is. There have been other suggestions thrown out that might broaden the recommendation. Yes, we want to have hearings, we want to make sure we investigate the whole aspect. We may endorse the principle of extension, but obviously we want to be aware of all the ramifications. I'll ask the researcher if she thinks that's a reasonable suggestion, rather than us trying to come up with exact language now of how to deal with it.

Ms Swift: Rather than give my opinion about the reasonableness of that, I would just say that my sense of what the committee has said so far is that, yes, it wants to investigate the possibility of extending application of the act to these other institutions but that it needs more information on several levels to do that. What it would like to do at this point is proceed with the issues and recommendations that were raised with respect to the municipal act as it exists now and then defer further consideration of the extension until it's had the opportunity to hear from these stakeholders, the various groups.

My sense is that the report would be almost in two stages, as Mr Sterling has suggested, that you would have perhaps an interim report right now dealing with the issues we can deal with and then dealing with the issue of extension after you've heard from the stakeholders.


Mr Wessenger: Mr Hope's motion includes a commitment to request hearings, which I think we should be involved in, and I don't think anybody would have any objection to that. I'm trying to work out a consensus so you can draft a recommendation based on it, rather than us trying to spend hours discussing it.

Mr Hope: I'm following the work done by our legislative research; the first issue is public hospitals and nursing homes and the Legislative Assembly. We know we can't deal with it. We all agree we need more public input, so why get into a lengthy debate on that section of the report? Just recommend it.

My major concern, and Mr Tilson's, is that we take it very seriously. People are asking us to examine this. We've been asked by the minister to examine it. As a committee, we have a responsibility to the general public. We have to do it. This motion serves notice to not only the minister but to the broader groups out there that the committee is very serious: "Get ready. There can't be excuses. We're going to be talking to you about it."

I was trying to pick a time frame. The next order of business is to deal with the appointment or whatever. After that, we start into this process so we can be productive and complete a report.

That's all my motion is. It's going to be a while before the report is written, but I want to send a strong message from this committee to the general public and to those contemplated as being included in the act that we're going to be taking a very serious approach to incorporating you into this act. That's the intent of the motion, nothing else.

The Chair: I have Mr Hope's motion. It's that the report be written on the review, and then, in the second part of your motion, I don't know whether we need more direction. Mr Elston was talking about House leaders. I'll read it and then maybe we'll have some discussion about approaching the House leaders on the second part.

Mr Wessenger: For clarification, this motion will mean that review of extension be one of the recommendations in the report. It isn't separate?

The Chair: As the Chair, I'm a little confused myself.

Mr Wessenger: Can we have some leeway for the researcher when she's drafting the recommendations?

Ms Swift: I'll summarize it, and you can tell me whether my sense of this is correct.

The Chair: Let me read the motion. "Mr Hope moves that the committee meet with interested parties to discuss expansion of the MFIPPA to include hospitals, children's aid societies and universities, and that these meetings be held as soon as possible and within a very short time frame." Comments?

Mr Elston: I am confused. I was expecting him also to have made mention of the first part of the report as well. I thought it was going to be a business resolution type of thing. I know what Randy's concerned about, but this book came out a while ago and there has been no movement made on incorporating the Legislative Assembly yet into legislation. The report we make is only a report, and the order of business will be ordered according to the government's time frame for making moves on this. That's basically going to be the result.

Our job in the committee is to word our recommendations as strongly as possible for two audiences: first for the minister who asked us basically to substantiate a position he has already -- I shouldn't say he's already seized upon it, but he's certainly contemplated moving to the expansion; second, for the advocates in those various areas out in the field who have for some time wanted access into records of universities, children's aid societies and hospitals. That's the best we can hope for. We cannot push our will on anybody, but the strength of our wording is what is much more important in the context of our discussion.

I would have been happier had this motion said let's get on with first completing the report of the review of what is covered, and that we then direct the attention of the government and the Legislative Assembly to our need for further hearings to on the proposed expansion to hospitals, the Legislative Assembly and otherwise.

Mr Hayes: If Mr Elston wants to amend or add to that, we don't have a problem with that.

Mr Hope: What he just said, I agree with. I second that motion.

Mr Elston: We're so poor we have no paper, but I'll use the back of my notes.

The Chair: Let's get the wording right. Actually, this is a total plan for the committee: that we do the report we were ordered to, plus look into the expansion in the other areas.


Mr Elston: Mr Chair, you might want to read the motion as I've formulated it, and then we could ask Mr Hope if he might withdraw his previously placed motion, if everybody is content with that.

The Chair: I was just talking to the clerk. It might be easier to do it that way, because it would be unfair for Mr Hope to withdraw it until we see yours.

Mr Elston: That's fine.

The Chair: Mr Elston moves that the committee complete its review of the MFIPPA and make recommendations for changes required to the act as it is currently structured, and that we further direct the attention of the government and the Legislative Assembly to the need for further hearings to take place concerning the expansion of the act to hospitals, universities, children's aid societies and the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Elston: The last item I added on my own, although we were not directed to take that interest from the minister.

Mr Hope: I'd have no problem with adding the Legislative Assembly. The missing part, which I feel is very important, is the short time frame.

Mr Elston: As I said, we can't deal with the time frame in the committee except to make the recommendations very strongly worded. The strength of our wording is what then goes out to the advocates and to the government people. I already have heard from Mr Charlton that he is interested in it, and the commissioner is interested in it. Everybody's interested in it, but we can't say it's a short time frame or a long time frame. It's just the strength of the recommendation that will carry the weight.

Mr Hope: Okay. I withdraw my motion that was previously placed and support Mr Elston's as it has just been put forward.

The Chair: All in favour of --

Mr Elston: Mr Chair, as Mr Hope has now withdrawn his motion, I think we should read my motion anew and move it officially for the record so it can be discussed.

The Chair: Mr Elston moves that the committee complete its review of the MFIPPA and make recommendations for changes required to the act as it is currently structured, and that we further direct the attention of the government and the Legislative Assembly to the need for further hearings to take place concerning the expansion of the act to hospitals, universities, children's aid societies and the Legislative Assembly.

Mr White: I would like to suggest that we broaden that last phrase, because we are specifically naming some institutions and not others. There are many public institutions such as conservation authorities, for example, information from whom environmental groups are very interested in obtaining. We have other private institutions such as nursing homes from whom patients and individuals should have a right to obtain information. They're publicly funded. There are different boundaries in terms of some of these public institutions, and I think we have to explore those. As the motion is presently worded, it precludes us from investigating other possibilities. I suggest that we simply add to that "and other publicly funded institutions."

Mr Hayes: Just for clarification on Mr White's concerns, I want to know whether the recommendation on page 12 in the report would already cover it: that the act be extended to cover all government agencies, and that "government agencies" should be defined in the act as any agency to which the government appoints at least one member, and that the act should also be extended to cover any organization which receives more than $50,000 annually in public funds. Does that address your concern? I'm not talking one way or the other.

Mr Sterling: In my view, the whole purpose of this motion is to warn groups that "We're coming to get you," if you want to put it that way. So let's not be generic about what we're doing; let's be specific. If we are going to bite off a huge chunk, let's put every institution that we're considering. If it's conservation authorities, if that's what you want, let's put it in.

I only say to the committee that it's not my intention to go by huge leaps here. I'd like to progress, and then another committee three years from now can consider doing more if that's necessary. I think we should only include what we've heard about to date, as put forward by the information commissioner. Let's be specific, though. Let's not have people in front of this committee if we have no intention of including them under this act. Therefore, I would not like an extension to a generic kind of situation.

Mr Elston: In principle, I'm not opposed to what Mr White suggests. It's just that I took from the opening comments of both the minister and the commissioner that there was a tacit understanding that if we felt we had enough information to move us to that second step of considering inclusion of the institutions added, and my addition of the Legislative Assembly, they would be prepared to assist in that regard in a more orderly expansion of the freedom of information act.

I agree with Mr Sterling that we may be biting off much, much more than we can chew if we then direct our attention to a second group of organizations that we haven't totally contemplated to this stage. The principles obviously fit them: Conservation authorities or other organizations that have members on their boards appointed by the province obviously should fall within its ambit. But let's attack the problem as it was presented to us and understand that one of the reasons it's still a problem is that there have been, at least on a couple of occasions that I know of, undertakings to develop a specific act to cover hospitals. It has been an important issue in terms of hospitals predating our administration, coming through our administration and now to yours. It has been the same with universities, children's aid societies, I must confess, I haven't been as familiar with, and the Legislative Assembly is one that has obviously gathered interest over the last three years.

If we were able to complete the review of those and implement an expansion to those areas, we would have done a huge amount of public business, and we might be able to think it was a reasonable expansion in regard to the amount of work that had to be done by the commissioner to prepare administratively for his new role.

I like the idea Mr White has given. I just think maybe we shouldn't bite off any more than what has already been put in the motion at this point.

Mr White: While I agree with you that the amount we're attempting to deal with is significant in terms of the parameters of what we're looking at -- I understand the rationale behind the extension to public hospitals. That's an issue that's been discussed and it's certainly been brought to our committee by several deputants, but I'm not sure what the rationale is for the other areas we are precluding from investigation.

For example, as you mentioned, why are we including the children's aid societies but not community care or home care or nursing homes, as is suggested in the report? Why would we be investigating children's aid societies and not an environmental agency such as a conservation authority, which has a highly significant role in our community? Those are the concerns I have.

I would suggest that if we had a resolution which does not preclude investigating other things and if the committee or the subcommittee later decided we wished to, we could do that. But if we act in our further investigation under the aegis of your resolution, it would preclude us from looking at other things. I simply suggest changing the motion to allow us at some point to look at those other things if we so chose. We could do that by saying "other institutions such as the Legislative Assembly, children's aid societies etc." It doesn't stop us from looking at other institutions that are publicly funded.

The Chair: I am just trying to read the committee. I think the comments are that if it's too much at once, a lot of the faces of the committee would change if the hearings are for any length of time and it would be lost. The other thing is, the House leaders had agreed to investigate this particular area, so I think there would be more clarification also. Just observations.


Mr Hope: We've got to move on. I agree with Mr Elston. Mr White raises that we have to look at it generally, but there have been concerns raised that we might be bringing too much into one meeting. I believe if we have focused conversations, we're able to expand it. It's on page 128, recommendation 80, which has built into it a statutory review. So we start off with these, and if we want we can build into the motion that we can continue this process but we only do it piecemeal, very progressively.

I agree with Mr Elston. As Mr Sterling said, we've got to make sure we don't open up the doors too far, that we keep very focused. That's why I support Mr Elston's motion. Mr White is talking about others. I agree, but in the sense that there ought to be reviews done in conjunction with recommendation 80, that there be periodic reviews to bring in more people as we go. But as a legislator, one who wants to make good decisions for the public, I don't want to overdo our first step in extending the act.

The Chair: Can we get on with Mr Elston's motion? Seeing no more hands, is everybody in agreement that Mr Elston's motion carry? Opposed? One opposed.

Now we have some direction for the committee to take.

Mr Elston: I just want to say that there is nothing to preclude any organization from coming forward with an amendment to this act between the times we do the reviews. If conservation authorities come forward, or nursing homes or whatever else it might be, those can all be contemplated any time, whether the ministries want to move on them or any other organization. It's just that our review is limited to a maximum time period of every three years.

Something else could happen, but I hope we can just complete this job. Perhaps we can start by running through a list of the recommendations that have been made, check off the ones we can agree about and then contemplate ones where we have some differences of opinion. But at least we could get a structure formulated so that research can start fitting the pieces together. Then we can eliminate the necessity of discussing too many of the uncontested issues and just revolve around a very limited number of contentious ones.

Mr White: Following Mr Elston's comments, I'm wondering whether we could include that in the body of our report, that it is our intent and our hope that other groups could possibly be included as time goes on, because it's beyond the scope of our capacity --

Mr Elston: I have no problem indicating that while we've enumerated four organizations, there are others that have come to our attention and we ought to keep our minds open to further expansions. I have no problems with that at all.

The Chair: I think concerns from some of these groups will be brought to the attention of the government, and the priorities will be groups that need more freedom of information. Would you like to go on, Mr Elston, with the recommendations and see where we agree? Let's just make sure we're reading from the same summary. It's 0641/93-94, Summary of Issues and Recommendations. Has everybody got a copy? It was handed out late yesterday afternoon.

Mr Elston: Do they include Ms Reinsborough's?

Ms Swift: No, they don't include anything from yesterday, but if you want to refer to them --

The Chair: Mr Elston, do you want to start off with the recommendation?

Mr Elston: I guess page 3 is where we could begin. I'm not sure how far we need to change the preambles. The "in the custody or under the control of" issue really focuses on councillors' notes, or I suppose trustees' notes or anybody else's, and whether an outside solicitor would be compelled to deliver his or her records relating to a council meeting to freedom of information. I don't know how to deal with that. I think "in care and control of" leaves it pretty wide open for somebody to say: "Here's a record. Why don't you take that to your office? I don't want to have it here." Really, in each occasion we have a decision to be made about whether the record is in care and control of.

I read a section of the decision by Commissioner Linden on care and control and the intention of notes when he suggested that notes be made available. He really laid down the set of principles that have to be used when you contemplate whether or not the record should be made available to an individual who's seeking it, and ultimately decided that the records that were made up of notes provided to a councillor, plus her own notes, would be made available to the individual. But it was on that case-by-case basis, and I would think we have to be very careful of the "in the custody or under the control of" phrase.

The Chair: Ms Swift, was there any mention of this particular issue in the BC act or other jurisdictions on the wording? What has been done in other jurisdictions is sometimes valuable to give some guidance to the committee. While you're looking that up, I'll go to Mr Sterling and you can report back to the committee.

Mr Sterling: I agree with the commissioner's recommendation to amend clauses 1(a) and 1(b) of the act. Quite frankly, I don't care whether we add the new provision he suggests to make public bodies more accountable to the public. That was the stated intention of the freedom of information act. It's up to other members on that.

With regard to records in the custody of an institution, which Mr Elston has spoken to -- I don't know whether section 1 would require amendment or another -- I had a great deal of empathy for the councillor who appeared in front of us and think there should be an amendment to the act. I would put this in the form of a recommendation, although I don't have the specific words, that when a councillor or municipally elected official, whichever is necessary to include trustees and anybody else, puts his own notations on a document, those are not records of the institution or controlled by the institution and should not be subject to the act. They're his personal property, unless he in some way makes an effort to have them become part of the institution or whatever.

Mr Wessenger: I tend to agree with Mr Sterling, but I'm having some difficulty understanding how the notes of an elected official end up in the "custody or control" of a municipal government. I'd like to know how that would actually occur, because I would think they'd normally remain in the custody of the individual elected official and not find their way into a file of the corporation or the school board. Maybe I'm wrong. Am I right that it's by inadvertence that the notes of an individual get left in the hands of the corporation? That's what this exemption is designed to cover, is it, Mr Sterling?

Mr Sterling: I think Susan has done a paper on it and said that in fact the concerns of this particular witness were well founded.


Ms Swift: It's not so much the location of the document as the circumstances in which it was created. The commissioner has made an order saying there are several kinds of questions you should ask to determine the nature of the document or the circumstances in which it was created. If it was created for the purposes of performing the functions of a councillor or another elected official, that document is one that is in the care or custody of the institution. If it was a notation regarding some personal information, for example, a grocery list or something else that was not connected to the performance of functions of the councillor, it would not be in the care and custody of the institution. That seemed to be the distinction that was made.

Mr Wessenger: Then I would support Mr Sterling's recommendation.

Mr Elston: Is it the case that the clerk would not be able to do anything with those notes other than keep them if they were left on the table at the end of the day? Can they be collected and destroyed? If a councillor said, "Here are the minutes I had; please take these and destroy them," can they direct that? Is there any prohibition against the clerk collecting and disposing of that information?

Ms Swift: I hesitate to answer that question because I'm not entirely sure of what the act requires in terms of retaining documents, but my sense is that you can destroy documents.

Mr Elston: The councillor could have destroyed their documents on their own, but if they left them there and said to the clerk, "Destroy them," are they prohibited from doing that? I agree with Paul in several ways. How would you end up having a record unless you intended to have a record of all this material? Can you imagine collecting all the minutes of all the meetings, with all the jottings that go on -- at least some of the jottings I've seen on materials at meetings -- and keeping those compiled in your municipal or school office? That's an amazing contemplation.

Ms Swift: Looking at the act, there is nothing in part I that deals with access to general records that has anything about the collection and retention of general information. There are sections in the act in part II dealing with the protection of individual privacy and rules about the collection and retention of personal information, but there seems to be nothing about the general. I assume from that that certainly those records could be destroyed.

The Chair: Just for clarification, since we don't have Hansard, if I remember correctly, I believe the file of the gentleman who came forward was at home. It was his own personal file. He had minutes from a meeting, typewritten, and he wrote his own comments alongside and put it in his file for his own reference at home. He was asking the question at that point since it was his own file; it wasn't a public file but his own reference to certain minutes at a council meeting.

Maybe this is where the committee is taking a look. Are these public documents or are they personal papers that have been taken home which are duplications? The official record is at the town hall. This is something he could pull out. I don't know if you can remember or if you've got it written in the recommendations here. I don't know if there are other committee members who are a little confused on that particular presentation.

Mr Hope: I go back to the commissioner's report, page 25, which talks about some of his notes in the possession of the institution. The two recommendations, I take it, were Nepean and TM, whatever "TM" stands for. Is that what we're making reference to?

Ms Swift: That is the town of Mariposa. An index to the acronyms is contained at the back of the summary.

Mr Hope: Okay, but that's what we're making reference to. I notice on page 25 of the commissioner's report that it talks about "in the custody or under the control" of the institution. We have already agreed with Mr Elston's amendment. Under the purpose of the act, we've agreed to section 1, which should take into concern the issue that was raised in bullet points 3 and 4.

I refer back to the commissioner's report and I see the commissioner has addressed that with the wording he has now put forward. Maybe I'm wrong, but I need a clearer understanding then, because listening to Mr Sterling explain -- and he wasn't trying to make a motion but he was trying to bring it to our attention -- I referred back to the commissioner's report and I thought it was addressed. What I've read so far on pages 25 and 26 is being addressed in the part of the report we just agreed to.

Mr Sterling's shaking his head. Please explain it to me.

Mr Sterling: If I may, the first amendment we have in terms of the act in dealing with section 1 was a clarification of the wording, which the commissioner sought to change, the purpose section of the act, 1(a) and 1(b), as contained on page 3 of our summary. I think that has almost nothing to do with the second issue in terms of notes by an individual.

Mr Hope: Could you read the rationale for why the commissioner has put forward this recommendation? Did you read that part?

Mr Sterling: Yes, I have, pages 25 and 26.

I don't think it's incumbent upon me as a member of this committee, or any other member of this committee, to draft the legislation. All I think we have to do is put forward the recommendations. My view is that there should be some alleviation of this problem for municipal councillors who want to make notes in municipal council meetings or in the privacy of their homes dealing with municipal business. I don't think they should be part of the public record.

However we define that, or the government of the day chooses to define where the limits of that should be, that's a discussion for another day as far as I'm concerned. I just think that problem should be addressed. I don't think that if I'm a municipal councillor and I get a planning document and in the quiet of my den at home I am scratching on it, that should become part of the public record. Evidently, according to what the information commissioner has ruled, it is part of the public record. I think it should be part of the public record once I have shared that with somebody else. Those would be the limits I would put on it.

If the government wants to have those same kinds of limits, fine and dandy. If they want to put some other kind of limit on it or if they want to present to me some reasons why we shouldn't do this in the future, fine and dandy, I don't care. Maybe that's a discussion for another day. But I am convinced at this stage of the game that this is an unreasonable restriction on how a municipal councillor can effectively function. If he can't make notes and not have those publicly exposed, when he's effectively making notes to himself so that when he goes over this subject again -- then I think that doesn't allow a councillor to do his job properly.


Mr White: I don't know the circumstances of the ruling of the privacy commission in regard to those councillor's notes, but I would think in looking at the suggested revision -- we're talking about things which were in the custody and control of an institution. As we look on page 26 at the top, it talks about, "`any personal information about the individual contained in a personal information bank in the custody or under the control of an institution' and a right to access `any other personal information about the individual in the custody or under the control of an individual.'"

I would suggest that this amendment would speak to issues such as information about Mr Sterling which is contained in an OHIP data bank, for example, or whatever. The issue of what notes one might take, which are for one's personal use, should not be in the custody or control of the township or whatever. How that happened is, I'm sure, a very interesting and curious incident.

I would like to argue in favour of this recommendation. It speaks really to the issue of people having access to information about themselves which is in the custody -- it's their access, their information. This amendment really clarifies that it is their property. For example, when we had the psychologists before us and they were talking about notations that people might make, records the psychologist might make about an individual, that individual should have a right to see those records.

The Chair: Mr White, are you going off the subject? This isn't part of the review. When the psychologists came forward, there was some concern they had with medical records and we aren't looking at medical records, just to keep on track here.

Mr White: Thank you, Mr Chair. Under the present MFIPPA, medical records, or any records that have to do with a psychiatric hospital where psychologists are employed and paid by the provincial government, are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. They are subject to that act if they're under the employ of any board of education.

Those statutes we are reviewing control institutions which employ the majority of social workers and psychologists. If we extend the application of this act to public hospitals, it would also include medical doctors' files as well that are in the custody and control of those public hospitals. So I think the issue of those personal documents is very much at issue here. It's at issue in regard to the matters we're reviewing; it's also at issue if we extend this legislation.

I think people should have the right to access information about them which is in the custody of an institution, and if an individual professional or a counsellor makes notes that are personal and private, that is not something which should be in the care and custody of an institution. But all other information should be accessible and that's what this amendment would speak to.

Mr Hope: There are two things here, and I always reflect back to what the commissioner said. We're talking about accessing public information.

I listened very carefully to Mr Sterling. He talked about municipal information which is not personal; it's public. He made reference to municipal planning, which is public information. Forgive me, but if there is information related to a decision that has been made, and usually it's when a decision is made, that it was part of a decision process or part of corporate information, if I turned over information, until it's shared, and according to what the recommendation of the auditor is, "in the custody or under the control of an institution," I can still sit at home with a municipal plan and make my little footnotes. But if I reveal that, or exchange the information to somebody else and it becomes part of the institution, then I'm entitled to that information according to the changes we're supporting.

When I look at, is it personal information? No, it's talking about a municipal function. Is he expressing a view as a municipal councillor, or is it John Q. Public and he's reflecting it as a municipal councillor, he's doing it in his role and responsibility? I believe it's public. It's part of a preparation of decision-making process, and I believe that's public.

It's fine when he keeps it in that closed stage, but until he reveals it, and when it becomes more of an open process and it becomes part of the institution, then it becomes covered under the amendment we just agreed to.

Mr Sterling: Randy, let's not worry about what's covered and what's not covered. Are we in favour of the principle when that a councillor or a trustee or whatever writes some notes to himself, they should become part of the access procedure?

Mr Hope: If that's a direct question you're asking, then I agree with you on that one.

Mr Sterling: That's what I think we should write in our report and not worry about definitions and all the rest of it because there are several ways of reaching that goal.

Mr Hope: Yes, but I listened to you very carefully in your explanation when I was asking you some questions about, isn't it covered under here? Norm, you were making reference to the municipal. He might have a plan in front of him that he's making some notes about. When I hear you talking about that, that tells me that's public-bodied information. He's making a decision or something is being written on paper. That's what I was taking. When you're saying somebody writes a note to remind him to do something, you've changed the focus of what you explained to me earlier. I'm trying to listen to what you're saying.

Mr Sterling: I chose a planning document because it's usually yea thick. As a municipal councillor, I would suspect many of them would go through it and say, "How does this affect this, or whatever?" He would take that to the meeting and sit down with it.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Paul Wessenger): Could I just make a suggestion here? The way we're proceeding we're not going to make very much progress. What I'm going to suggest and what's been suggested by the clerk is that when we have a recommendation made, if there's a general consensus, it should be put in the draft. We're dealing with draft recommendations today. We're not dealing with final recommendations. What I'm suggesting is that when any suggestion is made where there's a general level of support, even though it may not be unanimous, we put it in as a recommendation, as a draft, and then we can go back. If we have full debate on every item, we're never going to get through this whole process.

I'm suggesting that Mr Sterling's suggestion has a reasonable amount of consensus so that we accept it as a recommendation. I would suggest we deal with each matter in that way today, because if we have to debate everything, we're never going to get through this at all.

With that, if somebody wants to make some more comments, that's the process I'm suggesting. We're dealing with draft recommendations. We're not dealing with final recommendations. We're not going to vote on any recommendations. We're going to go through the act and perhaps we can incorporate all serious suggestions. Maybe we could do that. Then all serious suggestions would be incorporated into the draft report, and where there are alternatives, we'll be able to look at those alternatives.

I think that would be a better process. As I said, I think the only way we can come up with a report is take all serious suggestions by committee members and incorporate them. That's my suggestion. Mr Tilson first.


Ms Swift: There's just one thing. It seemed that members might be confusing two things; that is, firstly the recommendation by the IPC as to section 1 perhaps would more appropriately have been put under technical amendments. The problem, as it's phrased on page 25, is that there is inconsistent wording in the act. A second issue, which has also been discussed in the same context, is the issue of the marginal notes. I'm just concerned that we might be confusing the two.

Mr Hayes: Mr Chair, are we going to have a debate about the question or are we going to get a turn to talk?

The Vice-Chair: I just made the suggestion. If there's no problem with my suggestion, we'll proceed with the discussion.

Mr Sterling: Why don't you put the question and then you can get an answer?

Mr Hayes: Point of order or clarification, whatever you'd like to call it, Mr Chair: We're having discussion here back and forth. The longer we debate, the more confusing we make this particular issue look. I would suggest that we have Priscilla Platt from FOI to help clarify this issue, especially when we're talking about records in the custody of an institution. I think we're really going overboard on some of these issues.

Mr White: Why don't you let Ms Platt explain?

Mr Hayes: I'll let her do that, yes, thank you. I won't be like others.

Mr Tilson: I want to make sure I understand the researcher's report, which is certainly a very thorough report. Page 4 deals with severability and section 4, and I want to make sure I understand how you're doing this. Are you referring to section 4 of the act?

Ms Swift: Yes.

Mr Tilson: Am I in order to ask what --

Mr Sterling: We're not there yet.

Mr Tilson: We're not there yet? I thought we were in that overall section.

Ms Swift: I think at this point the discussion is limited to the first recommendation, section 1, purpose of the act.

Mr Tilson: Okay, thank you.

The Vice-Chair: I now will ask if Ms Platt would like to add anything for clarification.

Ms Priscilla Platt: If the committee wants me to clarify something about custody or control, I am happy to do that. Also, we put out something called an annotation of the legislation. I believe the legislative library has a copy. What it does is summarize the decisions under both pieces of legislation. In reading two pages you can find out what the commission has determined custody or control to be.

Essentially, a minister's notes, for example, in the provincial context, a cabinet minister's notes, in so far as they are integrated with the records of the ministry and they relate to ministry business, are in the custody or control of the ministry. It would be a departure, for example, to do something differently at the local level. The provisions that apply at the local level are the same, the identical provision at the provincial level. The commissioner has interpreted them similarly.

What one looks at is, what the commissioner has said, which is a very important idea is, whether it is related to the business of the institution, but also whether it's integrated in the same file.

In fact, there was one decision emanating out of the Premier's office where certain big-L Liberal Party records, dealing with contributions to the Liberal Party, were integrated with all the other records of the business of that particular institution. The commission ruled those were in the custody of the institution. There's a distinction between coverage under the act and accessibility.

The fact that something is covered by the act doesn't mean it's therefore a public record, as I think some members had indicated. It just means it's covered, and there may well be exemptions that apply. I think what the commissioner has emphasized very strongly is this idea of separating them. The elected officials at the local level, because of the training we've done, I believe are aware of that.

Secondly, the commissioner has said in respect of board members' tribunal notes -- in other words, the personal notes of the board member or decision-maker -- that in so far as those notes are not integrated in the files of the tribunal and are not required to be taken, they are not in the custody or control of the institution and are therefore not covered under the act.

Those are some of the ideas that the commissioner has developed in this regard.

The Vice-Chair: I think all members here, as members of the Legislature, are concerned that their personal files with respect to their decision-making process when they are dealing, say, in their capacity as a parliamentary assistant could be subject to disclosure. They're all very concerned about that aspect. I think we feel the same with a municipal councillor. In other words, we feel that what we do when we're preparing in our decision-making process ought not to be subject to freedom of information. I get the impression from what you said that they are subject to freedom of information.

Ms Platt: There would be a number of factors. Ostensibly, if a request came in that covered some of those records of the parliamentary assistant or the elected official, one would have to look at the circumstances. For example, are they integrated with the other government records and therefore archived and subject to records retention schedules and so on?

That may not be the case, because we have done a significant amount of training at the provincial and local levels, and because of the commissioner's orders with respect to emphasizing this issue of whether they're integrated, whether they're in the same file with all the other records in respect of that decision-making that the government or the municipality is making, because of that distinction that the commission has emphasized considerably in its decisions.

There are steps that can be taken to ensure that those perhaps are not covered, but again it's a question of fact in every case. That is considered by the commission to be a significant factor in not making them covered; that is, that they're not integrated with the rest of the files.

Mr Tilson: A question of the researcher: Looking at your report on this topic, specifically in response to the councillor, Mr McCormack, from Mariposa, if I understand what you're saying, this isn't necessarily the law, what Mr McCormack has said, as being a decision from the commissioner. What I understand you're saying is that the appeal to the commissioner was over fees and that in passing it's acknowledged that at least one municipality, the township of Mariposa, ruled that these notes were available. Is that your conclusion as to what the law is?

Ms Swift: Actually, this isn't one of my reports; it's a colleague of mine, Andrew McNaught.

Mr Tilson: Oh, I'm sorry.

Ms Swift: That's okay. As I understand it, there are two orders that he's referring to. The first is the one dealing with the township of Mariposa in which the central issue was the question of fees and there was this other side issue, or it was dealt with in that way. I think it's order 120 that dealt more directly with the issue of the notes.

Mr Tilson: Yes, but it makes it quite clear, at least as I read Mr McNaught's report, that it was that specific municipality, rightly or wrongly, that released this information.

Ms Swift: Yes.

Mr Tilson: My concern is, what is the law of the province of Ontario, and I suppose the law from the commissioner, as to whether this information should be made public? We're dealing specifically with a municipal councillor's notes.

Ms Swift: I don't believe that there's been an order right on point or that there's been a case that's been directly on point, but order number 120 dealt with notes of a person who was conducting interviews of a person for a position with the women's directorate. As I understand it, the commissioner set out a series of factors or questions that would have to be considered in determining whether or not these things ought to be made public. I think Ms Platt has also said that even though they would be subject to the act, the other question is whether or not certain exemptions might apply in those cases.


Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): Just a clarification on one of the points that has been mentioned: Ms Platt, you talked about personal notes that are kept in a file. Even if they are personal notes that perhaps just by accident have got in there, a letter or something, is that something that would then be under the care and custody? Is that part of it or would it be a person's own personal information?

Ms Platt: The act doesn't draw the distinction between personal notes and other notes. If they're in the custody or control, which is a very broad concept, they are covered by the act. The commissioner, however, has introduced certain factors or situations in which the notes may well be outside the purview of the act, and one of them may well be what you're indicating, sort of the intention of it. Was this something that was required to be produced? Was it something in relation to a constituent member, for example, which might be a personal matter and have nothing to do with the legitimate business of the government or of the institution?

Also, what was the intention about integrating those in the institution files? The commission has felt that this was a very significant sort of determinant as to whether it's in the custody or control. In the case you've indicated, it may well be that the commission would say that it was not because it was accidentally in another file, that the intention was not to integrate it with the files of the institution, that it was a personal matter, that the notes did not have to be produced and so on.

Those are some of the factors the commission has felt are significant and have, in other cases, resulted in records not being under the purview of the act.

Mr White: I'd like to explore this issue a little bit. We're talking about something which might have ramifications and might not. For example, if I am, during the course of these hearings, making gratuitous notes about the colour and quality of Mr Tilson's ties or whatever, I doubt very much that those notations would be gathered up by the clerk and entered into the public record of our meetings.

If, for some strange and peculiar reason, that were to happen, if Mr Hansen, for example, in his review of the law -- and he of course would have the final copy -- were to inadvertently in pencil or whatever make some gratuitous comments or notations in an area where he should be putting nothing but his signature or initial, that might fall into the public record.

What I'm curious about though is that those personal notes could not be seized upon unless they, by happenstance, by curious omission or commission, end up in a public record. The commissioner could not, for example, request me to release my personal notes about when I'm hiring someone and that I might make in the course of interviews or any notation I might make about Mr Tilson's tie during the course of these public hearings. Is that the case?

Ms Platt: The Legislature isn't covered, so currently of course your records wouldn't be covered. But if you were covered, then I think that as it would apply in other contexts, inadvertent comments that are made in a job competition or otherwise are accessible. One of the implications of that is that people are making better notes. They are not writing down comments that might embarrass them and so on because they do operate under the purview of the freedom of information scheme.

The scheme itself doesn't recognize the distinction between what one would call one's personal notes and other notes, other than, as I've indicated previously, in so far as whether those are required to be produced and how they're integrated with the files and so on.

Mr White: But if they were not part --

The Chair: Mr White, I might interrupt --

Mr White: You might interrupt?

The Chair: -- that you'd better keep notes on what you're saying because you're not speaking into the mike so that Hansard can pick up and note what you're saying. If you don't mind, speak into the mike, please.

Mr White: Thank you.

I'll inquire further. What I'm asking is, if in the course of an interview I'm making notes in my own handwriting for my own personal use, which I then dispose of, and it's not part of a file and is not submitted into a file, could those notes be requested?

Ms Platt: That's a bit of a grey area. Your question is an important one. The act does require that personal information such as one might create or collect during a job competition be retained for a minimum of one year, and as long as one records it, then technically one cannot destroy it. It is kept. It is a record under the act. I think you'd be in a difficult position.

I don't think we've had this precise situation. We've had very close to it in order 120, as mentioned by the researcher, where notes were kept during a job competition by an individual on the panel and taken home. They were, as far as she was concerned, her personal notes. The commission ruled that they were in the custody or control of the institution and were governed by the act. So we have one context of that sort of thing.

I think job competitions are a bit unique. It's a little different when you're talking about elected officials who are creating notes about constituent matters that perhaps are not related directly to the business of the institution and so on. When you get into something like a job competition or a meeting that is directly related to a decision that the institution is to make, the records are more important to be covered by the act and I think the act in a broad context would generally cover them.

As I say, in the one decision we've had about Liberal Party contributions, the one that arose out of the Premier's office, the commission said they were covered simply because those records were integrated with all the rest of the records of the institution, and as a result of that, it felt the intention was to have them covered even though one couldn't directly connect the records themselves to the business of the institution. Obviously they were big-P political records. I think from that one gains some understanding that the commission has made it very significant how these records are integrated.

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I'd like to return to your question as to how we're proceeding with this report. Is it your intent that someone puts forward a recommendation as to whether we agree or disagree with the recommendations as itemized by the researcher and then permit extensive debate on that, or will it be a general consensus? I do concur that the way we're going, we'll never finish this report.

The Chair: I agree with you, Mr Tilson. I think we have to have comments on it before a decision is made, but I don't think we can drag it out for half a day for each recommendation. I think we have to bring our points forward very short and see whether the committee agrees with that particular recommendation. Is that your idea also?

Mr Tilson: I don't want to limit debate; I'm just trying to clarify how you intend to proceed with this report.

The Chair: I think when we take a look and we're all in agreement, we would proceed and say, "That recommendation the committee agrees with." As you say, as for the length of debate, we don't want to cut it off, the points put forward, but I think we also have to keep on the subject very closely.

Mr Hayes: I agree entirely with Mr Tilson. I think that on this particular issue, for example, we are exaggerating this issue. If I'm sitting on a municipal council and I'm making myself some notes about a proposed question I may ask to a delegation or to the clerk or administrator or something like that, that's fine, that is my property, but if I take that and submit that to the clerk, then it becomes the institution's property.

We're talking about original documents here. That's what we're talking about. I would say that if the clerk was making certain oughts and dots or whatever on that particular original document, then that would be the property of the institution, but I think we're getting a little carried away here. If I'm sitting in a council meeting and I make a few notes on a piece of paper, stick it back in my pocket and go home, and I don't disclose my thoughts on that particular meeting to anybody, I don't think it has anything to do with the institution or anyone wanting to know what I wrote down.

All we should be doing is saying to the municipalities and the municipal elected officials that we don't expect you to have to do any more than the people of this Legislature have to do. I think that's the bottom line where we should be.

I think we're getting a little carried away here when someone says, "I want to know what you wrote on that piece of paper of yours that you stuck in your pocket but you didn't share with anybody else." I think we're getting a little ridiculous.


Mr Tilson: I'm just trying to figure out, are we expressing recommendations so that the researcher, or whoever, is going to prepare a draft report? Is that the exercise we're going through here?

The Chair: A draft of the --

Mr Tilson: Well, then, I think it's self-explanatory. With due respect, we are getting carried away.

The Chair: That was the question I asked at the very beginning of the researcher of that particular issue, to make the committee aware, because as the Chair I didn't completely understand the notes and whether they apply and that to shorten it down, I thought would be beneficial. I think I also asked if she had any information of what's done in other jurisdictions to guide this committee, and I believe she said in BC there is no information on that particular issue, so it hasn't been addressed.

Ms Swift: Not that I'm aware of.

The Chair: I see Mr White has his hand up. I take a look at the committee, which is sort of in agreement. There have been other issues thrown out. Mr White, you don't agree with the --

Mr White: I don't disagree. I'm in support of the --

The Chair: Well, do you agree?

Mr White: I don't disagree with the recommendation. I'm strongly in support of it. It has a lot of merit. My concern is as I hear Ms Platt's discussion of, I think it was, item 120, the question of what are personal notes. Are they personal notes or are they not personal and whose property are they? I think that's an issue that bears some discussion, but I think that's something we could include in our recommendations. The issue of what is personal bears some exploration and some expansion while we still support the requested amendment to the act, and I certainly support that amendment.

The Chair: You support the recommendation of what the committee is saying here?

Mr Hope: Not all of us. Some of us have kept our comments. Some of us have made our comments, which we don't agree with, of putting it in the report, but I've expressed those. If the majority feels that it ought to be, then that's the process. To say that everybody agreed with it -- I just wanted to clear you up on that, that everybody agrees with what Mr Sterling has said.

The Chair: In principle you agree --

Mr Hope: In principle to be a part of the report; I don't agree with it, but I've expressed my viewpoints and now we'll just move on. The majority rules.

Mr Elston: I think the committee ought to understand that while we will recommend something here -- particularly, we recommend that something be done with this notes issue -- at the end of the day the legislation that comes forward will be under the carriage presumably, I suspect, of the Chairman of Management Board. They will have another determination and discussion, and the bill itself will come back here for us to discuss and play every one of the words to their fullest extent so that we understand exactly what is intended.

I think it's only for us to acknowledge that there's a problem. If we agree, we should direct, with some specifics perhaps, the direction the resolution of the problem should go, but I don't think we should carry the discussion to too large a degree into the minutiae of the actual drafting problems.

In that regard, I wonder if it wouldn't be helpful if perhaps the caucuses could all go away at the break and go through the list that has been compiled and come back and enumerate one point after the other, without discussion, the points which they have seen as being unproblematic. The three of us could compare notes and then we could list all of those items off and then get down to actually discussing the areas where we have some real deficiencies of understanding.

From my point of view, that would make the exercise much easier for you as Chair, because you could probably eliminate a number of the point-by-point questions. Research could then begin to see a structure coming in the report, and we could save the committee time for issues which really are compelling us in different directions. I think that might be a lot more productive, if I could make that as a recommendation.

The Chair: Mr Elston, I'll ask the one question, whether between 12 and 2 o'clock the three caucuses would have enough time to wind up going over -- as you know, sometimes there are meetings and everything else scheduled.

Mr Hayes: Can I suggest 2:30?

Mr Elston: Yes, 2:30 or 3 o'clock, if that makes it better.

The Chair: I would say, if it's agreeable to the committee here, that we resume sitting at 3 o'clock, because that would save a lot of time; one hour not lost in committee but most likely gaining three hours.

Mr Elston: I think that might be helpful.

The Chair: I see that everybody's in agreement with 3 o'clock. If you do have meetings, you still have an hour.

Mr Malkowski: Keep it simple.

Mr Elston: If it's possible that we could conclude our discussions among the caucuses shortly before 3, then we could have a little get-together and compare lists. We could read off those agreed upon when we come back, right at 3 o'clock to start, and then enumerate the ones we really want to talk about.

Mr Hope: What if we have a problem where the caucuses can't agree?

Mr Elston: Resign.

Mr Malkowski: I agree with what Murray Elston was saying. Let's keep it simple. Let's have a break and then we can resume later.

The Chair: Is everybody in agreement that we recess till 3 o'clock? Okay.


The Chair: We've got one more item left here, if we can just go over it. It's the report of the subcommittee and we're just going to hand out the copies now. I believe this -- I'm guessing on this one -- took place in September.


The Chair: No, it would have been after that. It says:

"Your subcommittee met and recommends the following with respect to the attached letter from the Speaker:

"1. That the Chair should write to the officers of the Legislative Assembly and inform them that they are welcome to appear before the committee any time on an issue-by-issue basis.

"2. That the Chair should write to the Ombudsman and inform her that if she has any concerns, she should discuss them with the standing committee on the Ombudsman.

"3. That the Chair should write to the Provincial Auditor and inform him that if he has any concerns, he should discuss them with the standing committee on public accounts."

Any discussion?

Mr Hope: What is this? We don't want to talk to these people or what?

The Chair: Okay, so we recommend that --

Mr Hope: Wait a second. Somebody explain something to me here.

The Chair: Mr Hope, I believe you weren't sitting on the committee before.

Mr Hope: That's right. You're asking me to conduct a vote, so I want to know what was --

Mr Hayes: Just explain it very briefly, Mr Chair, that's all. Let us know what your intent is.

The Chair: What I have to say is that I don't think I was at this subcommittee meeting. I was not the Chair at that particular time. Mr Wessenger was not there also, and Mr Sterling is missing.

Mr Hayes: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Is anybody here now who was on that subcommittee who could explain this thing to us? That's all; simple.

The Chair: Mr Sterling was at the meeting, so maybe we should just leave this, because our clerk also was not at that meeting.

Mr Tilson: Does this report exist?

The Chair: We'll recess until 3 o'clock.

The committee recessed from 1151 to 1505.

The Chair: Earlier I guess our minds were a little blank and we had the report of the subcommittee. It was read into the record, with Mr Sterling coming back and refreshing some of the new members here on what was discussed. We felt this was agreed upon by the subcommittee and would like to have approval by the committee.

Mr Hope had a question. He has dropped his question. Any other questions on the subcommittee report?

I take it that the committee will adopt the subcommittee report. All agreed with the subcommittee report? It looks like everybody's in agreement. Opposed? None opposed, so we'll adopt the report of the subcommittee.

The committee continued in closed session at 1507.