Monday 5 February 1996
Security of the legislative precinct
Legislative Assembly joint health and safety committee
Mary Edwards, co-chair
Diane Fenech, co-chair
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Chair / Président: Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)
*Bartolucci, Rick (Sudbury L)
*Boushy, Dave (Sarnia PC)
*Cooke, David S. (Windsor-Riverside ND)
*DeFaria, Carl (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
*Froese, Tom (St Catharines-Brock PC)
*Grimmett, Bill (Muskoka-Georgian Bay / Muskoka-Baie-Georgienne PC)
*Hastings, John (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
Johnson, Ron (Brantford PC)
*Miclash, Frank (Kenora L)
*Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East / -Est L)
*O'Toole, John R. (Durham East / -Est PC)
Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt ND)
*Stewart, R. Gary (Peterborough PC)
*In attendance / présents
Substitutions presents / Membres remplaçants présents:
Pouliot, Gilles (Lake Nipigon / Lac-Nipigon ND) for Mr Silipo
Clerk / Greffière: Freedman, Lisa
Staff / Personnel:
Sibenik, Peter, procedural research clerk, Office of the Clerk
The committee met at 1007 in room 228.
SECURITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE PRECINCT
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY JOINT HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEE
The Vice-Chair (Mr John Hastings): The first item this morning deals with health and safety. This afternoon the press gallery people won't be here so we only have till noon today -- 11, actually -- and then we don't meet again until Thursday at 10 am. Okay, folks, for the record would you like to identify yourselves and proceed. Then we'll have questions afterwards.
Mrs Mary Edwards: I'm Mary Edwards and I'm one of the co-chairs of the joint health and safety committee for the Legislative Assembly.
Ms Diane Fenech: I'm Diane Fenech and I'm also a co-chair for the joint health and safety committee.
Mrs Edwards: Mr Vice-Chair, members of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, the presentation by the Legislative Assembly joint health and safety committee is being made by the co-chairs, as we've introduced ourselves. The committee appreciates this opportunity to appear before you. The document you have before you was prepared by the joint health and safety representatives from remarks and comments gathered from Legislative Assembly staff.
The joint health and safety committee, which represents the employees of the Legislative Assembly, has heard many concerns regarding security expressed to its employee and management representatives. The representatives have agreed that there is a need to relay these concerns to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its consideration when reviewing the security issue.
This is being done pursuant to subsection 8(10) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act: "A health and safety representative has power to identify situations that may be a source of danger or hazard to workers and to make recommendations or report his or her findings thereon to the employer, the workers and the trade union or trade unions representing the workers." We are submitting it to the standing committee as it is the body of the Legislative Assembly, our employer, assigned the responsibility to conduct a review on security.
Legislative Assembly employees who work in the main building and the Whitney Block five days a week, 52 weeks of the year, are becoming increasingly concerned about their safety. Their experiences and concerns, as outlined below, are as a result of the changing public reaction towards governments. These changes have been demonstrated by the bombing incidents in Charlottetown and Oklahoma City this past summer and the number of bomb scares, including the one on opening day that compounded the existing crisis situation related to the demonstration that day.
The employees of the main building, which is the Legislative Building, felt secure when the building was first locked against the demonstrators but became concerned when the need for evacuation arose. Since everyone was being evacuated through one door of the Whitney Block, the process was very slow and anxieties rose as people wondered if in fact a bomb might explode before they were outside. Anxiety levels rose in the Whitney Block as employees became aware that they had been locked in with no apparent escape route should an emergency develop inside the building. People who tried to enter the building after lunch and others trying to leave the building found all doors to be locked, and one chained shut, except the door from the tunnel in the basement of the building. Security could not be found except one security officer in the lobby near the elevators on the first floor. Staff questioned who would remove the chains and unlock the doors in the case of a second crisis such as a fire, medical emergency or, as happened, a bomb scare.
Announcements over the public address system were confusing. Staff were left wondering whether they should or should not evacuate, and many did not leave the building because of the message's lack of clarity. Could they evacuate quickly through a single door? Where is this door? Where is the security staff to help staff evacuate safely?
When employees from both buildings were finally evacuated through the freight entrance of the Whitney Block, there was no one directing them to safety beyond the exit. Whitney Block employees have also expressed to their representatives the concern that security appears to be inadequate since the Premier now has an office in their building. Presently, within the legislative precinct there is only one security guard located on the first floor at the west door. The only other visible security can be found at the entrance to the tunnel connecting the Whitney Block and the legislative building.
Ms Fenech: Almost all employees are prepared to accept the badge system, but there appears to be no consistent policy for their use. On opening day, people who had left the building but had their badges with them were not allowed access back into the buildings. Therefore, the staff questioned why they were obliged to wear badges. Some people dealing directly with the public prefer that their names not appear on their badges. This attaches a face to a name and could put that person in a threatening situation.
We suggest the following:
(1) Emergency plans should be put in place in both buildings immediately and communicated to all staff.
(2) There should be consideration of more than one crisis situation happening at any one time. The plans should not place people in an unsafe situation should a second crisis arise.
(3) Scripted announcements should be used and be part of the emergency plan. They should be clear, unambiguous and audible throughout the building.
(4) Standard procedures should be in place regarding the use of identification badges.
(5) Personal information should not appear on the badges.
(6) All persons not wearing a badge, whether visitor or staff, must be stopped and requested to register. Those persons wearing their badges should be allowed to proceed.
(7) Increased security should be put into place in the Whitney Block.
(8) Security should be on duty and available to assist staff in crisis situations.
(9) Attention should be given to the issues of liability in the event of a disaster.
We are pleased that you are addressing the security issue, as safety is an important concern to us all.
Just as a closing comment, with the possibility of a strike by the OPS employees, staff are now concerned, given the rumours that they are hearing.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. Questions?
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Did you have the opportunity to discuss this issue with anybody else before you met with this committee?
Mrs Edwards: This report went to the management advisory committee, which is MAC, which is our body --
Mr Morin: When was that? When did it go?
Mrs Edwards: November, December, I believe, it went to them.
Mr Morin: Did you have any reply?
Ms Fenech: No.
Mrs Edwards: All we got was that the notice came back that the Speaker would bring the concerns. We didn't know whether he was going to bring the report as such; we weren't told in what way.
Mr Morin: The other question: You mentioned that you would like to see the badges without a name appearing. What do you suggest instead?
Mrs Edwards: My understanding from the OPS system is that the computer system they have has the picture in it. So officers can bring your picture up at any time without using your name. Or you can assign an ID code number, like a pass code number, and the number can also be used with the computer.
Mr Morin: So it's feasible?
Mrs Edwards: Yes.
Mr Morin: And security would be pleased with it?
Ms Fenech: We should hope so.
Mrs Edwards: Actually, they've started doing some of them now.
Mr Morin: The other question: (9) "Attention should be given to issues of liability in the event of a disaster." What do you mean by that?
Mrs Edwards: They're saying if, say, there was a death that occurred, somebody needs to be concerned that those things could be affected if somebody was seriously hurt or a death arose. There's another aspect we want people to be familiar with.
Mr Morin: But you're all insured, aren't you, through your plan?
Mrs Edwards: Yes, but I think it would be to make sure that they -- the employer in this case -- understand they should be covered in certain types of circumstances.
Mr David S. Cooke (Windsor-Riverside): First of all, thanks very much. How long have both of you worked at the Legislature?
Mrs Edwards: Six and a half years.
Ms Fenech: I've been here nine.
Mr Cooke: Where?
Mrs Edwards: We're both in the Whitney building.
Mr Cooke: You're both in the Whitney Block. Some of the events that are taking place these days seem to be happening with a little more frequency. You've both been here long enough to know that they've happened in the past. There seems to be a higher level of concern in your presentation today than, say, there would have been a few years ago. One of the things that I'm always concerned about on these things is that because of one incident -- and it was a bomb threat on throne speech day, and there was a demonstration out front that turned ugly. I have my own theory on why it turned ugly. But there was a bomb threat. We've had bomb threats around this place for quite some time. So I get concerned when people start talking about spending large amounts of money and putting large numbers of new processes in place to deal with something that, in effect, didn't happen. I'm not suggesting that everything would be valid if there was in fact a bomb, I'm not suggesting that we ever want to get to that point, but it was a bomb threat, and those things have happened all the time over the years.
Mrs Edwards: I think one of the problems is that staff are now aware of other situations, different places, and they're getting a little antsy about their own security. As well as the representatives on the committee changing, staff change, so their concerns change as time goes on. There's maybe a younger population on staff now, with families at home, who are more concerned for their security than at one time as opposed to now. Diane, do you have anything else to add?
Ms Fenech: The way I see it is, mostly we don't want a lot of procedures to be changed; we just want what they're doing to be more straight out. Like the fact of the announcements over the PA: They weren't consistent, they didn't give good instruction, people weren't sure what exactly they should have done. Then when they were told to leave, they went downstairs and found doors locked that shouldn't have been and not manned, and no direction given. It's very hard to see what you're going to do.
Mr Cooke: I totally agree that those are difficulties that need to be addressed, although no matter how ingenious the staff would be, I'm not sure that you can have a list of scripted messages to use when not always are there going to be -- like, how would you have had a scripted message for throne speech day when we haven't had maybe a circumstance where there was that level of a demonstration out front at the same time as a bomb threat, the same day as guests all coming in for throne speech day? The worst thing that could happen is that you have so many rules and so many scripts that you start following rules and scripts that don't apply to that particular situation. Common sense is what we should be trying to -- it's a phrase I don't like to use any more.
Ms Fenech: It comes in handy, yes. We also were thinking that maybe, instead of saying it's a thing, you would just have a code like they do in the hospitals or even in department stores, that security is at a level and such a number. People would know by that announcement that they should take care and maybe get ready to evacuate. They would already know by which door they would leave before anything got out of hand. It would take care of the staff that way. But it must be communicated beforehand and just a simple plan put in place, because it is the same with the fire drills and stuff, it took a while to get them going again, but once they did, they are starting to work quite efficiently now.
Mr Cooke: Let me ask one other question and that's to do with these name badges. I personally would find it rather strange to have an identification badge where I couldn't identify the person who had the identification badge. These badges are not just for security; these badges are also for people who are coming through the building, for other employees, so that people know who's in the building, and if they work in the building, know who they're talking to.
But forget that. If you had this other approach you're talking about and then you had to buy the technology to read the imprint that would then call up your picture, I guess I'd want to be convinced that there has actually been a problem with the current badges before we start spending several hundred thousand dollars or a few million bucks for new technology when we don't have many dollars at all. While I understand the concern you're expressing, how many incidents have there been to show it's a valid concern, that because somebody has got their name, they've actually been stalked or harassed?
Mrs Edwards: I'm not sure how many concerns there have been. We're aware that presently the pictures actually are on computer, so there's no change in technology at all there.
Mr Cooke: No, but you'd have to have all this picked up at each of the entrances.
Mrs Edwards: The computer systems are at the entrances of this building and there is one in the Whitney building. Certainly there isn't anything in the basement.
Mr Cooke: And that system has got all of our pictures in it?
Mrs Edwards: Yes, that's what we understand.
Mr Gilles Pouliot (Lake Nipigon): You'd have to buy the suit to go --
Mrs Edwards: When you get your hair cut, then you need a new picture, they tell you.
I'm not sure how many concerns, as I said, but I understand the other technology is there if you wanted to use it. Some staff currently now have passwords put on to their badge system, the reason being if they lose them or they're stolen, if somebody else can access them, they've put passwords on them, and that's what the number is used for at this point.
The other thing is that if you need the names on it, maybe just take the branches off so people can't relate you to a branch as well. The staff --
Mr Cooke: I'm not going to let that one just go by. I want to know why. How many problems have there been that would actually point to a problem?
Mrs Edwards: I don't have exact numbers. These were just from concerns that staff -- when we asked them what their concerns were, this was one of the ones that came up by a number of people. Whether they've actually been harassed or whatever the circumstances have been, they haven't actually told us.
Mr Cooke: I think that's an important part of it. I don't think we should start making changes or suggesting changes unless we know there's a problem that those changes are addressing, and as health and safety reps, I think that should be part of your focus, that we don't want to put in place new rules or new procedures that address something where we don't even know if there's a problem.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): Thank you very much for an informed presentation. You certainly have a point of view. I really don't have too many questions, but I would imagine my main concern is, of course, the badges and the questions that have been asked. I would ask you one thing: In your particular block, do you see any reason to have tours or visitors of a casual nature? If people are on business, I suspect they would have an appointment. There could be prearranged information at the desk.
Mrs Edwards: In the Whitney building?
Mr O'Toole: Yes.
Mrs Edwards: The precinct is only the first three floors, so we can only speak to those three floors. At this point, I don't see anything unless you have your badges; that's just the way the offices are set up there. There's no need for tours of the area. It's just basically we deal with legislative staff or members or members' staff. The only other concern we would have is we have people in for interviews in certain areas, or picking information up, but there could be a control system set up for that in the building, which isn't there right now.
Mr O'Toole: So you think, given the badges that exist today and the security in place, instructions being given to visitors, interviewers or friends, whatever, that the appropriate precautions could be taken right at the desk where they're being instructed to attend before their meeting.
I guess the concern is -- this is perhaps an unfair question but the whole issue of regulating entrance into this building -- once they get inside here, they can go a lot of different places. Do you think there should be more strict control of entry and access to the building? That's the balance here. It's a public place and everyone has the right to come to the Ontario Legislature sort of thing. Do you have any comments on that?
Ms Fenech: I feel there has to be a bit of restriction, only to keep the employees safe. As in the Whitney, there is public going in to visit some of the members on the first floor, so they should have unlimited access to get to that member, but meanwhile, on the second and third, it's all staff, employees of the Legislative Assembly and some protection must be made, because nobody questions anybody walking around there unless you call security and ask them to come check them out.
Over here in the main building I think it's pretty well regulated, but still there are people drifting around near staff offices where they should be questioned or at least registered before they go and see that office, just to have some control.
Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): I have a couple of questions. I just want to pick up on one word that you said, "unlimited" access to that first floor. You just made a comment. If bombs are on the first floor, the rest of the floors above it come tumbling down, unfortunately. What do you mean by unlimited access? Do you feel that people should just, as Mr O'Toole said, wander in and out of that first floor over there any time, any day?
Ms Fenech: No, that's what we're trying to stop.
Mr Stewart: All right, so you're totally against open access to these buildings. I'm saying "total." I use the words "total access." So you want some limited access.
Ms Fenech: No, like you say, it should be public, but still there should be some concern that we have some kind of safety, because over in the Whitney Block there is one security guard on the first floor and he's got to take care of three floors. Most of the time he's just sitting at the desk and that's all he ever does. We don't see him roaming around or anything.
Mr Stewart: I'm in full agreement with you. I'm certainly not arguing against you, because I think it should be controlled access. One of the things in the business community is that they have employees going in one door or two doors and they then have the public or visitors come in the main office, register in and out and all the usual things. At the Whitney Block, could employees or anybody go in and out any door?
Mrs Edwards: Yes.
Ms Fenech: Entrance, yes.
Mr Stewart: What are your thoughts on controlled access, then, say for staff? If staff came in one or two doors only and then the other one or two were limited to visitors and other people, could that be acceptable to your group?
Mrs Edwards: Certainly. Anything is better than what we have.
Mr Stewart: You don't think they would say, "Why are you telling me I may have to walk half a block to get to my office?" You don't think that's a problem.
Mrs Edwards: No, and I think one of the hardest ones to control could be the tunnel from the subway, or the entrances.
Mr Stewart: I want to go back to the identification badges. We were talking about personal information on it, but you've also got number 4, "standard procedures." What are you talking about there, how they're issued, how they're displayed?
Mrs Edwards: Just even asking for them and checking to see if you have them on. In the case of the Whitney building, no one asks you -- even the security officer on the first floor doesn't ask you. When you go from the Whitney building to the main building, you're asked, but when you come from the main building to the Whitney building nobody asks you.
Mr Stewart: If you had limited access and it was all through one door --
Mrs Edwards: That would control some of it.
Mr Stewart: -- or two doors, then that would solve that problem.
Mrs Edwards: Certainly.
Mr Stewart: Okay, thank you.
Mr Tom Froese (St Catharines-Brock): Thank you very much for making your presentation. There's certainly no hidden agenda on the questions I ask; it's just I need some information.
In the presentation here, did you ask all departments in the Whitney Block or was it information forthcoming? What transpired, was this document because of what happened since Parliament opened, or have these concerns been raised before that you aware of?
Mrs Edwards: Some have been before, but I think the idea of the report was based on opening day where it really came to the climax. All staff were asked if they wanted to participate. It wasn't limited to strictly certain departments; it was from staff from both buildings.
Mr Froese: Is there an emergency plan in place when something like opening day occurs? Is there a procedure? From my former life in the private sector, I'm very much aware of your committee, because at first hand in the branch of the financial institution I was working with we worked hand in glove with health and safety, the committee we headed as well. I'm asking you because usually there's a plan in place, especially in a financial institution. There are security procedures. We have some of the similar problems of security and safety because of bomb threats, the same type of thing. Is there a plan in place now and is it regularly gone over with the staff? Do you have meetings where the management team, as it were, sits down with yourselves and goes through the staff, department by department, what happens in a situation, what you do?
Mrs Edwards: We can't comment on the Legislative Building. As far as the Whitney Block is concerned, there is a process for fire and basically the same process is used for every other type of emergency at this point. There is an evacuation committee within the Whitney building that's concerned with the whole building. It's not just the Legislative precinct, it's Natural Resources, cabinet office as well. They're in the process right now of starting a new committee because there have been changes in the person looking after it and we'll be getting ready to go over the fire plan as well and probably update everybody on the evacuation process that you can use for everything. But there is communication in the Whitney building.
Mr Froese: There is a plan in place -- whatever that plan is -- for emergencies of the type we're talking about, or is there not?
Mrs Edwards: Not to the --
Mr Froese: Not clearly defined?
Mrs Edwards: -- extent where they lock the doors and they chain the doors that staff are aware of, no. That's what happened in our building.
Mr Froese: What happened on opening day was different than what the procedure should have been according to what's in place right now?
Mrs Edwards: Right.
Mr Froese: All right.
Mrs Edwards: I think that's the problem with the Leg building too. Staff were asked to evacuate through the Whitney building. They're not familiar with the area, so it was a different type of circumstances that I think still needs to be communicated as an alternative type of plan for both buildings so they know where it is.
Mr Froese: Do you know how many entrances there are into the Whitney block?
Mrs Edwards: Nine.
Mr Froese: Nine. Thank you very much.
Mr Bill Grimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay): I also have an office -- actually it's over in the Hearst Block, but I take it that's what you mean by the Whitney Block, all of those related blocks?
Mrs Edwards: No.
Mr Grimmett: You don't. There are nine entrances into Whitney, and there are more into Hearst, Macdonald etc?
Mrs Edwards: Right.
Mr Grimmett: Do you know how many there are in the whole group over there?
Mrs Edwards: In the Macdonald Block? I have no idea.
Mr Grimmett: My questions relate to recommendation number 6, and I'd like to hear the ladies comment on whether there has been a significant change in the consistency of the application of requiring some kind of identification. Have you noticed any change since the incident in September?
Mrs Edwards: In our building, no.
Mr Grimmett: I remember a day my wife came to visit me. I was asked three times when I went through the tunnel for identification, and my wife went through the tunnel twice at separate times that day and was not asked for identification. I thought that was quite ironic. You'll notice I'm wearing my identification now.
Ms Fenech: Were you going to or from the main building?
Mr Grimmett: Both.
Ms Fenech: That's strange.
Mrs Edwards: No. Actually, I went to the main building the other day and I was asked to show mine and two people behind me, coming from the Whitney across, weren't asked for ID at all.
Mr Grimmett: That's one of the concerns I have: the consistency of application. Do the employees in the building share that concern?
Mrs Edwards: Yes. They get a little frustrated because sometimes they forget their ID and they have to run back upstairs, yet they watch someone else walk through who doesn't have ID. They're concerned that there needs to be some consistency in the building in how it's used.
Ms Fenech: Also, people wearing badges have been harassed, that they don't -- I don't know -- for some reason believe its their badge or something and don't want to let them through. What's the sense in that?
Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): You mentioned fire drills. Do you have regular fire drills or evacuation plans on a regular basis to evacuate the whole building, dry runs? Are they effective? Do you have them, and how often?
Mrs Edwards: With the fire drills, they only have to test an area; they don't have to do the complete building. Last year they tested a certain area to make sure it worked, but there has not been an entire building evacuation in the last year, that I know of.
Mr Boushy: You don't evacuate the whole building in a dry run?
Mrs Edwards: They haven't had to do a test that way, a test of the whole building. They did a section just to see how the process worked.
Mr Froese: One question I should have asked before. Is your committee mainly for the Whitney Block?
Ms Fenech: Both buildings.
Mr Froese: What about the other buildings, the Hearst Block, the --
The Vice-Chair: This is just the assembly.
Mr Froese: Just the assembly? All right.
The Vice-Chair: Any further questions? Mr Botticelli.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Thank you, Mr Hastings. It's "Bartolucci," but that's all right; it took me 10 years to be able to pronounce it correctly.
As I listened to your presentation, I'm fearful, because you're occupational health and safety and what I hear is that there really is no awareness of emergency measures to the degree you would think acceptable. Is that correct?
Ms Fenech: Yes.
Mrs Edwards: Fire's good in the Whitney building. The other circumstance is I think where the problem is, and as I said, we can't comment on the Legislative Building.
Mr Bartolucci: But there is no awareness in the Whitney Block?
Mrs Edwards: No.
Mr Bartolucci: And there should be.
Mrs Edwards: Right.
Mr Bartolucci: With awareness comes some type of accountability, because to have input into awareness, there has to be some input into the accountability factor after that. What do you see your role being with regard to the evolution of emergency plans appropriate to different instances?
Mrs Edwards: At this point, as I said, the Whitney building is working on coming up with its evacuation plan and we do have input into that representative of joint health and safety. That's one way we'll have some input, as well as the employees certainly bringing their concerns. It's a matter of employees bringing their concerns and trying to get something done.
Mr Bartolucci: A final question, going to the comments Mr Froese was making. There has to be appropriateness attached to any type of plan. What do you see your role being with regard to the appropriateness of a plan? How do you see it working? How do you see the improvement taking place?
Ms Fenech: I hope they would ask us for our comments and suggestions and plans and that everything will be communicated so we can find the best way to communicate it to the rest of the staff and educate them so everybody will have a responsibility to look after each other and, in the case of an emergency, we all are safe. That's the bottom line.
Mr Cooke: I'd like to get back to this part of it. You're being consulted now in terms of the plan for Whitney Block, is that right?
Mrs Edwards: We're on the actual committee. We have representation on the committee. The committee hasn't started to meet yet.
Mr Cooke: But you're part of that plan, so that process is satisfactory to you in terms of your involvement.
Mrs Edwards: Yes.
Mr Cooke: I want to get an idea of the relationship of the joint health and safety committee with management. You said earlier that you wrote to MAC and you haven't got a response. I know you're not unionized, but you have your joint health and safety committee. What is the relationship that committee has with management where some of these concerns would obviously be voiced? Do you meet with anybody on management side?
Mrs Edwards: No. The joint health and safety is a representation of employee and management, and it's an equal representation across the board in this case. Because our reporting relationship is to MAC, we felt --
Mr Cooke: Who's on from management?
Mrs Edwards: Myself, and there are representatives from each of the divisions. There are four employee reps and four management reps, plus the alternates; one management and one employee rep from each of the four divisions.
Mr Cooke: You're from management and you're non-management. This part of it I think is important. What have you done as one of the management reps to take the concerns of management employees and non-management employees -- it seems bizarre to me that the approach would be to write a letter to MAC when there are management people actually on the joint health and safety committee. I would assume you wouldn't have to write to management but could communicate directly to management the concerns about health and safety as they relate to security.
Mrs Edwards: We've also addressed our concerns to Thomas Stelling, who's in charge of security. Security is only -- the health of a person is a small aspect, and we have no involvement in the security part in the other building. We've asked to appear before MAC to bring this report to them, and there was no indication they needed to meet --
Mr Cooke: What have management reps on the joint health and safety committee done to work it up the line in management? The reason for having a joint health and safety committee with management and non-management is so that management can take the appropriate action and be fully informed of the concerns of all the employees. I'm just a little confused, with a committee that has management representation, why it would be necessary to write to management, which is basically what MAC is.
Mrs Edwards: I guess it was the process that's been going on all along. We've talked to some of the people in higher management. They have the same concerns we have, but the problem is trying to get something done in some cases.
Mr Cooke: Who have you talked to?
Mrs Edwards: I've talked to my director and I've talked to other --
Mr Cooke: The director of? I don't know which branch you work for.
Mrs Edwards: Human resources. We've talked to other branch people along the way. We've talked to the security aspect in terms of one of the MAC members, but we're waiting for them to help us do something because we have no power other than to direct them what they need to do.
Mr Cooke: You understand my concern here. When you say "have no power," management has all the power. They're not talking about a unionized area --
Ms Fenech: But the direction must come from MAC, which is all directors. The management people on our committee are just senior management; they don't really have much say or power to do --
Mr Cooke: Well, senior management has some say. The other option, I guess, is to write to the Board of Internal Economy. If what you're saying is that the management reps on the joint health and safety committee have no authority to act on issues of health and safety, then the question is, is the health and safety committee properly constructed? Maybe there should be management reps who actually have some power to execute recommendations that come from the committee.
Ms Fenech: It's all in the hands of the directors of the branches on MAC and nothing can be done unless you're one of them, so you're down to the five members. We can't deal with the issues all the time.
Mr Pouliot: Good morning. I certainly appreciate the candour: "Nothing can be done unless you're one of them." I think it's sort of symptomatic. Those are at the director level?
Mrs Edwards: Yes.
Mr Pouliot: Wow, director. That's about $85,000 to $90,000 a year, right? No higher than that?
The normal flow of traffic: When I look at the recommendation, I'm trying to find out -- and I need your help, please -- what is your jurisdiction? How far can you go in recommendation? It's fairly straightforward, but in terms of meat, in terms of substance, it brings more recommendations. I'm not saying they're feeble, inconsequential, but may I suggest that the reading is too easy.
You have on the one hand a request from the people that we address the security and safety of the system here. Then there is a focus about the Whitney Block. Once we go into the real world -- and, Madam, you seem to know the ins and outs of the building; you speak with confidence, and you must have spent a lot of hours looking at this -- there's a normal flow of pedestrian traffic. It's a web, it's intricate. You can reach the subway without leaving the buildings, right?
Mrs Edwards: Right.
Mr Pouliot: Bon. The subway's on University, is it not?
Mrs Edwards: Yes.
Mr Pouliot: Oh, that's a long way. And you can go to the Ontario savings office without leaving the building, right, and you can exit on 900 Bay Street? And good citizens and taxpayers use the building as a convenience if it's cold, if it's windy, as you head towards the renowned Bay and Wellesley situation, which is one of the windiest spots in the city, is it not?
Mrs Edwards: Right.
Mr Pouliot: Bon. So people will use the convenience of the buildings. Even though I didn't have a badge, I would feel I'm paying for all this. A cynic may even suggest when they look at all the government buildings around them and ask, "Guess how many people work there?" that it's "Not enough," and other people may say, "Well, about half." How many thousands and thousands, tens of thousands people per month, per day in fact, use the web of government buildings? Would you have an idea, ball park, grosso modo, any figure?
Mrs Edwards: No.
Mr Pouliot: And this also of public service: You have the mineral office on the second storey, you have human resources on the areas that connect there etc. You have the smoking gallery, because the government does not allow the sanctity of its offices to be polluted by cigarette smoke. How do you reconcile that? I would be upset big time if I were a taxpayer going to get my driver's licence and I would have to produce a badge, because it's one of the busiest offices in the province of Ontario. That's my first question.
The second one is, when you say "added security" you obviously feel -- let's assume that everyone is employed to the maximum, that Harry and Jane for so many hours at their designated workplace will constitute a day's work. There are only so many bodies, notwithstanding that they're asked to be amateur psychologists; they're asked to do this and that. The thing is that you need more resources. Any time when there's a recommendation you don't need fewer resources; not every time, but most times you need more resources.
Some of the members opposite have mentioned, and the point is very well taken, that it's a judgement call. On the one hand, you don't want to restrict accessibility to citizens. On the other hand there is a sense, in view of what has happened over the years -- it may be a sign of the times; I don't know that -- for more and/or better security. The next time you come here people might be asking you about a timetable, a step-by-step approach, and some dollar figures attached to it. Do you feel that you have the jurisdiction -- I sense not; you have the capacity but you don't have the jurisdiction -- to come up with answers to the second question, which is a timetable and money attached to it?
Mrs Edwards: In terms of your second question, no, I don't think we can. We can give suggestions but I don't think we can do a timetable or anything in terms of your second question.
Mr Pouliot: So you're asking us to identify the problem -- ping pong -- and then you can come back with the answer; and we've asked you to identify the problem, but now for the cost factor we would have to give you the problem, what we want done.
Mrs Edwards: I don't know.
Mr Pouliot: You're not going to win either way, by the way.
Mrs Edwards: No, I know.
Mr Pouliot: Let's go back to the first question. This is the identification of the problem. I must apologize first for my methodology. It's not that it's inverse, but it's a little different. I make the same mistake in many languages.
The flow of traffic, you don't seem to have a good handle on it. It doesn't address that. It addresses the tunnel. It pinpoints the tunnel between Whitney and the Leg.
But it's all connected. One is just as important as the others. You have government offices, not all over but certainly people connect back and forth. What if we were to talk about safety, if we were to talk about jeopardy? Is it not just as existent there as it is elsewhere?
Mrs Edwards: Yes. I think the problem is that we didn't look at -- we're only concerned with our employees, although I think the idea is you have to go in a broader sense. I've talked to employees in other areas, in different committees, in health and safety, to see if they have some ways we can work around it. The concern is the LA staff at this point. There was no consideration for staff coming from, say, the Hearst building or the Macdonald Block when they prepared this.
Mr Pouliot: But in terms of the LA, I've noticed, since the new administration took office, where barricades have been cemented in place to keep the citizens of Ontario out of their building. I've noticed that with great sadness with my very eyes. It's become sort of a bastion. People in fact have called my office saying, "I hope our lines aren't being tapped" -- I was certainly shocked -- "and what about access to the building etc?" I mean, I've heard words mentioned that I have never heard before, Madam, people going to the extreme with the qualifications of the present regime, the present administration. That disturbs me, the ability --
Interjection: The revolution.
Mr Pouliot: I'm coming to the revolution.
People talk about, it's time for a prise de la Bastille. I say: "No, no, now take it easy. Come and see me. You have access to the building." There's been a great deal done here. We don't see as potential terrorists or as potential criminals any taxpayers, contributors who come to the door. The poverty vigil outside does not bother me, does not trouble me. Because they don't have a badge they should still have access, with the few dollars they have, to the cafeteria to have a hot chocolate like us so that they can go back to the vigil to do what they do best and to await the present administration.
I have mixed feelings --
Mr O'Toole: What's the question?
Mr Pouliot: -- about the security system. I really do have mixed feelings.
Mr O'Toole: Mr Chair, point of order: If I may, through the Chair, I would question the member opposite if he has a question. I'm serious. I don't like to trivialize process and we've been going on, we've given several clutch phrases. My point, and I'm asking a question: Do you have a specific question? Skip the rhetoric. I want to hear your question. We've had 10 minutes of rhetoric here.
Mr Pouliot: First of all, I have no lesson in anything to take from you. Let's get this very straight. If you don't like my terminology, my friend, tough.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Pouliot --
Mr Pouliot: I've made my question. The subject matter being addressed is far too complex. Si tu ne comprends pas -- comprends-tu, bonhomme? Ah, tu ne comprends pas.
M. O'Toole: Qu'est-ce que c'est, là ?
M. Pouliot: «Qu'est-ce que c'est, là, là ?»
The Vice-Chair: Question, please.
Mr Pouliot: The subject matter is too complex, first of all, to be interrupted by the likes of him.
Interjection: Hear, hear.
The Vice-Chair: Questions, please.
Mr Pouliot: I've asked my two questions. I'm trying to get the answers. It's not a matter of black or white. It is a tedious matter and a compromise has to be reached. I would like to see some recommendations and I'm asking for a timetable attached to them.
Mrs Edwards: I said we couldn't do a timetable. I think this is going to take more than just your group and our group. There are a lot of groups that need to work together to come up and study it. It's not just something that we can just do ourselves.
Mr Cooke: I just have one suggestion, that this is a particular area where I think there have been a number of points raised that we will want to, when we write our report, make recommendations on. If I might suggest and just get a very quick reaction from the two deputants, we would want to make a recommendation on the role that employees in the legislative precinct have in terms of being involved in the development of policy, and the lines of communication that seem to be fairly weak, in terms of existing policy, to the employees of the legislative precinct.
Those are just a couple of areas, but I think you've made several important points: at the very least that employees, management or non-management, should have a right to know what the rules are and that they're working in as secure an environment as possible; and if there are suggestions, we've got to see some changes in the lines of communication. It's bizarre to me that the management reps on the joint health and safety committee have to write to the management advisory committee. There surely have got to be better communications available to management on the joint health and safety committee than that.
Those are just a couple of areas, but I think this is a significant presentation that we'll need to make recommendations on.
Mr Froese: I fully agree with Mr Cooke, but I'd like to know a little bit more about the procedure. I'm just as much concerned. That's the way the joint health and safety committees are worked where there are management and employees on it. It's that way across the province. But the procedure where we were at was that the recommendations were written by the committee. I was in a branch office of our organization. It came to us; it came to myself as manager and then a copy went to the senior management of our organization and I had to respond within 21 days.
Within that 21 days I had to respond with what my feelings were if things were going to be changed or my recommendations had to be changed. The system we had was fairly open in that I would go directly to the people involved and say: "Okay, you're making a recommendation here. How do you think it should be handled?" Then we'd talk it out and then we'd put the paperwork in process.
What I'd like to know and my concern is, and I think it's absolutely necessary, where's the responsibility? The responsibility definitely lies with management to change things or not change things. They have to respond. I did not totally agreed with everything that came to my desk, because there were certain things that were not common sense to put in place when you looked at other factors. So that always has to be built into it, and it will, but what is the procedure? I'd like to know specifically from your perspective, what exactly is the procedure? When you make up a report, where does it go? What time are responses back? Does everybody know the system?
Mrs Edwards: In terms of what you're talking about, the procedure, the 21 days and the aspect of that: We do our standard health and safety inspections of areas, that is the procedure followed. The information is supplied to the committee. We go through the recommendations. The recommendations then are passed along, eventually to MAC for their ultimate approval, but in the process things are being done, in relation to our facilities management branch or starting on the work that is based on there, in conjunction with a discussion with a department head with regard to the recommendations to make sure things are done.
At the time this report was done I think my recollection is that, because they were making suggestions, not recommendations, that's why there's no feedback on it from MAC. It was just I guess the context and when they did it. They figured these were suggestions, because recommendations -- what's there is fine right now. They can live with it but they think there should be something further. So this was not used in the same process.
Mr Froese: So what you're saying is that the process is in place and it works well.
Mrs Edwards: Right, with the normal process.
Mr Froese: It's not like maybe what we said before in this committee, thinking that there isn't a process in place. Everything's in place. It's working well. It's just on this issue, when it came to the security of people there were suggestions made, not recommendations, and you want more heads involved in thinking the process through.
Mrs Edwards: Yes.
Mr Stewart: A question maybe to you, Mr Vice-Chair: We've just heard that there are nine entrances or exits in the Whitney Block. I'm wondering if this committee, and maybe everybody knows but me, could find out how many entrances are also in this building. If it's nine over there, I think we've got to be looking at entrances being open and other ones being closed so that they would only be open for exit purposes in an emergency.
In the Macdonald building over there the only security is at the information posts or stations when you go in. I guess this is either to you or to Bill; you're over there. I've been in there a number of times and I don't see any security other than the information booth. Is that right?
Mrs Edwards: That's all I've seen, offhand.
Mr Stewart: Is that of concern? I guess that's my other concern because it's connected to the Whitney Block. Again, a bomb is on the first floor or on the side of the building and it makes a hell of a lot of damage to the whole building, I guess. I think if I was to ask the same question to find out how many entrances also are used in the Macdonald Block and the Hearst Block, I guess for the whole complex, is what I'm saying -- if we're going to deal with the thing, we might as well do it right and find out what's going on, if I could have that.
The Vice-Chair: We'll get that determination as to the number over there for the whole set of buildings.
Mr Stewart: Great. I'd appreciate it.
The Vice-Chair: Mr DeFaria.
Mr Stewart: As well as here, Mr Vice-Chairman.
The Vice-Chair: Yes, we have nine here.
Mr Carl DeFaria (Mississauga East): I would like first of all to compliment you on your review of the problems. I would submit that the main recommendations that you make here that I find to be very useful are number 1 and number 2, which is basically having emergency plans that take into account multiple emergency situations, because that's what happened on the throne speech day. There was no emergency plan that took into account the fact that you may have a bomb threat and at the same time you may have a demonstration outside so that people couldn't leave the building. Your highlighting that point, I think, is useful to the committee. I think we have to develop emergency plans that take into account multiple emergency situations and that don't conflict with each other.
Your recommendation 4, regarding the standard procedures to use the identification badges -- the problem with the identification badges that you have is that any former client of mine could produce an identification badge like that in less than about an hour, an hour and a half. Unless you have an electronic system that you can, like you indicated, check through a computer by running it in a magnetic computer outlet, there is no way that you could have a safe system.
Not only that, I'm quite sure that by your experience people will just look at you and look at the badge and you walk through most times. Anybody can have a badge like that and walk through. You don't have to be staff. It's shocking to me that in a building like this people still use those kinds of systems. There should be procedure in place that if you're going to have identification badges, the security should compare the picture with the person specifically and not just look at the people and if they have a badge they walk through.
The only thing that is missing in your recommendations that I would ask if it's possible if you could send to us is, is it possible to have situations like -- you have been working here for a long time. If you could relate specific incidents that you have observed or that people have observed that created a situation of danger, without identifying the individuals or whatever, but just fact situations that you could suggest that have happened in the past six or seven years, on many occasions that you could see create a problem -- excess exits and entrances into buildings that are not needed that we could get rid of, things like that, that happen in your buildings that you feel could be changed to increase security. I'd like to hear from you if you are aware of fact situations that you could find out from the workers in the building that you could relate to us.
Ms Fenech: What was the last part of your question?
Mr DeFaria: If you are aware of specific fact situations where that has happened and people feel, "Gee, anybody could have come here and done this because there is no" -- like the example of nine entrances and exits that may not be needed. You may need only two entrances or exits to the building, or one.
Mrs Edwards: Could we go back to the group and we'll ask them for this information for both of those questions for you?
Mr DeFaria: Sure.
Mrs Edwards: Okay.
Mr Froese: I wonder, is it proper -- I don't know; I'm new at this. My concern is that while discussion is fine, what we're doing here to familiarize ourselves and so on and so forth, my concern is that we as a committee could just keep on going and asking questions, whatever. I'm wondering if we could ask all the departments that are involved, like these good folks here, to specifically get recommendations on what they think should be done for security reasons, and also from all the groups that use the building specifically with respect to security, so that there's a starting point where we can start addressing the issues one by one, like some input as far as what we're going to do, what we're going to achieve.
When we come back Thursday, after the subcommittee's gone to Quebec and to Ottawa, I guess I'd like to know exactly what we're going to do here. But I think a starting point is, I'm not familiar with all the security issues by any means on what should be done, and we should be getting the opinions of those people who use the buildings. We've heard that there are nine entrances in the Whitney Block; I think there are 13 here, or something like that. We should get specific recommendations from all those groups and then we could start dissecting it or saying, yes, no, whatever. I don't know.
The Vice-Chair: I'll let Ms Freedman answer that.
Clerk of the Committee (Ms Lisa Freedman): I can give you a little bit of help on that. When we set up the agenda for this committee, there were a number of people we wanted to hear from, and we've heard from most of them. We wanted to hear from the Speaker, from the Clerk, from the Sergeant at Arms. We wanted to hear from members and staff from the three caucuses, and in that regard there's been time put aside for each of the caucuses. We wanted to hear from staff in both Whitney Block and the main building, and we wanted to have some input from the public.
In terms of staff in the building, as you heard today from the Legislative Assembly occupational health and safety committee, the only unionized assembly staff are an OPSEU local that was scheduled and cancelled out. You heard from Deborah Deller from committees branch in terms of the specific concerns about the committee rooms. You will be hearing from Karyn Leonard who's in charge of the interparliamentary and press relations. They are the first-point people as people walk into the building. Other staff were approached and didn't have any specific concerns or anything they thought would specifically help this committee.
We will be trying, for our third week, to put some time aside for the public in terms of people who have specific concerns, users of the building, people who may have had problems getting into the buildings. I'm looking at getting in touch with some tour groups or boards of education, and people who specifically contacted some of the caucus members in terms of concerns.
Other than that, we're flexible in the third week. So, we're open to any suggestions, any gaps that you may feel you need more information on in order to write a report. The end result of this will be some type of report, be it to the House or directly to the Speaker. So if you think there's still information that you're going to need at the end of this process after people who are travelling come back with some comparative information, it's open for the committee to just decide who else they want to hear from and I'll attempt to get that person before the committee.
Mr Froese: My problem still is that at the end of the day we're still going to be all over the place, unless we put in place from, let's say, the joint health and safety committee -- they've got some recommendations. If it was your baby to make recommendations on exactly how the security should happen at the Whitney Block or to the Legislative Assembly, what would you do, specifically? Would you have a striped card? That type of thing is I think what I'm looking for. These are good recommendations -- don't get me wrong, they are -- but specifically what would you want to see? I'm not saying you'd have to answer right now.
Mrs Edwards: You mean in order of preference?
Mr Froese: Yes, exactly what you would, even you as an individual, even as an individual staffer -- and that's what I've asked my staff numerous times. If you were making the decision, how things should run and for security, what would you put in place and the reasons why? Taking into consideration that I know there's probably a political side here, and you wouldn't -- or maybe not. I think you might understand it, but not to the degree that maybe we as politicians would, but as far as keeping it open as much as possible, that might not even come into your thinking because, as I understand it, sure, at the Whitney Block for the safety of people who are there, you want to keep it as secured as possible. I'm sure you wouldn't want it to be a fortress or anything like that. We'd have to make those decisions, as this committee, what recommendations we forward on. That's understood. But if you wanted it the way you want it, what would you recommend? I think that's what we should be asking all groups.
The Vice-Chair: Comments?
Ms Fenech: I think we would like to think about this and get a report back to you, have a written report from the rest of our committee and have something sent back to you or through the clerk, and as soon as we can. We have a meeting this Friday and we'll --
The Vice-Chair: We won't have any report ready by then, but --
Ms Fenech: No, but we will have something for you.
The Vice-Chair: You'll be able to respond? Okay. Thank you very much.
Ms Fenech: Next week, hopefully.
Mr Morin: I believe Mr. Froese has raised a very good point. Maybe a suggestion would be that instead of submitting a final report, we submit an interim report, to give the opportunity to everyone concerned, like these representatives, so that they read the report and so also, I should say, that no one can say, "We were not consulted." OPSEU wasn't here this morning. At least they would have the interim report. Give us your feedback. Then we come back and then we come up with a final report. This way everybody would have been asked for their point of view and it would be sort of a collage of all the best recommendations that we can obtain. Because it's a very serious matter. You have raised concerns, and that is the first time I've heard them, about the building, the Whitney Block.
The Whitney Block, in my opinion, was always a place where there was no concern; the concern was over here. But obviously you're a member of the staff -- I don't know many how many thefts happen in your area, how many threats there are -- so I think you're entitled to be as protected as these people here in this building. Again, to repeat it, instead of a final report, an interim report, and after that, all the information comes back here and then we issue a final report.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Morin, in terms of the final report, do you have any kind of outer time limit, six weeks from now, eight weeks from now?
Mr Morin: That's up to us to decide. If it's a complex report, then we say okay, give them six weeks or give them five weeks, because I know within my own caucus, if we were not to consult them, if we were not to submit an interim report, they would criticize us, and the same thing will happen with your own colleagues. I've gone through that I don't know how many times. But this way everybody will have an opportunity to voice an opinion.
The Vice-Chair: That's an excellent suggestion. What I think we could do is undertake, after the folks return from Quebec City, to compile an interim report and ship it out to the groups concerned, even those that haven't made a submission, and put some kind of approximate final week on it and then it could be looked at by the subcommittee when they get back.
Mr Morin: Yes.
The Vice-Chair: Any other questions?
Mr Stewart: If you're looking at a date or a proposed date for a final submission, I would suggest that it be done prior to March 18, mainly with the House going back then. I think we should be prepared to act on it prior to then.
The Vice-Chair: So noted.
Mr Stewart: You're looking at probably six weeks, which is what Mr Morin was saying, suggesting. Prior to that date, I would suggest.
The Vice-Chair: Any other questions or items? Okay. Then I move to adjourn this session until 10 am on Thursday morning. Those who are travelling today can meet where all the photos are taken at 3:45 pm, those who are going to Quebec City.
Mr Bartolucci: I thought you were dealing with our witnesses, but you're finished.
The Vice-Chair: Sorry.
Mr Bartolucci: I just have one point of clarification I'd ask the Vice-Chair to rule on. It's with regard to Mr O'Toole's challenge of Mr Pouliot. I don't want to be confrontational here, but I do want everyone to have a very, very level and fair playing field. Mr Pouliot is a sub on this committee today and, as such, he has every right of every other committee member, and under anyone's rules of procedure, Mr O'Toole would have been deemed out of order with his challenge to the trivial nature of Mr Pouliot's comments. So, Mr Vice-Chair, I am just asking for your ruling. Is it in fact appropriate for a member of equal status to be criticizing the method, content or method of presentation of another member? I heard a question being asked by Mr Pouliot, and I would just like to know what your ruling is with regard to that.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Bartolucci, Mr O'Toole did not have a point of order. On the other hand, let me point out that your Vice-Chair usually likes to give a considerable degree of latitude in the exercise of putting questions. However, it should be noted too that Mr Pouliot to some extent I think, if he'll with all degree of grace and fairness -- perhaps I didn't hear the question clearly -- perhaps might be moving along a little more, how shall I phrase it, more prolonged than necessary. But I'll leave that to your judgement, Mr Pouliot. Maybe we could get the questions more precisely worded in the future. That would be a good exercise for all of us to undertake.
Mr Bartolucci: But, Mr Vice-Chair, let's not remove or divorce the issue that is being presented as a point of clarification. Clearly you said he was not correct; therefore, I don't think he has the opportunity or right to do it to Mr Pouliot. Certainly you as Vice-Chair can tell him to be more pointed, to get to his question. But I do not believe a member has that right, and at that point in time I think he should have been ruled out of order. I just say that because I want to know that at this committee everybody's ideas and everyone's approach to presenting a question or a comment are equally respected. That is very, very important to me with regard to process.
The Vice-Chair: So noted. In the future I will rule with a little more effectiveness, perhaps, in terms of we will not have these points of order being brought up, and I would ask for all members to be much more tolerant and co-operative on all sides.
This meeting is adjourned until 10 am on Thursday February 7.
The committee adjourned at 1123.