Thursday 14 May 1992

Committee budget

Annual report, Provincial Auditor, 1991


*Chair / Président: Mancini, Remo (Essex South/-Sud L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

Callahan, Robert V. (Brampton South/-Sud L)

*Cousens, W. Donald (Markham PC)

*Duignan, Noel (Halton North/-Nord ND)

*Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)

*Haeck, Christel (St Catharines-Brock ND)

*Hayes, Pat (Essex-Kent ND)

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

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L)

*Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants:

*Murdock, Sharon (Sudbury ND) for Mr Johnson

*In attendance / présents:

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Otterman, Jim F., Assistant Provincial Auditor

Sciarra, John, administrative assistant, Provincial Auditor

Clerk / Greffière: Manikel, Tannis

Staff / Personnel: McLellan, Ray, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1015 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Remo Mancini): The standing committee on public accounts is called to order. Everyone has the committee agenda before him or her. The first order of business is to deal with the proposed committee budget. I'd like to ask the clerk to go through the budget with the committee members so that we have an understanding of what we hopefully will approve in a few minutes.

Clerk of the Committee (Ms Tannis Manikel): I don't know how much detail you want, but I can run through some of the highlights.

Obviously "Telephone," "Mailing" and "Courier Service" are just general office things.

The first part is "Staff Accommodation, Meals, Transportation." That covers the staff attending any of the conferences. We've got two conferences suggested that we go to. Sorry, this part just covers the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees conference. Under "Conference -- Staff and MPPs" I've put in for the Canadian Comprehensive Audit Foundation conference, which the committee has attended in the past. It's going to be held here in Toronto in November and I've put in some money for the committee to attend that.

"Witness Travel and Expenses" is something this committee doesn't generally have. That's been put in to cover the transportation, accommodation and other expenses for people travelling to Toronto if they're invited to attend an interview for the position of the Provincial Auditor.

"Advertising": I've put in $15,000 for that. The committee will have to reach a decision --

Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): That shouldn't be called "Witness Travel." You should change that then, if I may suggest, to "Candidate Search Travel" or something. I think we had a battle in another committee I'm on with regard to getting witnesses' expenses paid and we came to the right decision in not doing so. To call it that would be a problem.

Clerk of the Committee: Sure, I can change that quite easily. It's not a problem.

I've put in $15,000 for the advertising. I'm just looking here; I have something from personnel going over the cost of the advertising. It depends on how extensively the committee wants to advertise. The $15,000 would cover the production costs, some of the other costs -- like courier and faxing out the ad -- and advertising in the Globe and Mail national edition and advertising in all the provincial capitals. That would be covered by the $15,000.

If the committee also wanted to advertise in the other Ontario newspapers, such as the Windsor Star and the Toronto Star -- the advertising agency has listed about eight of them -- that would be an additional $14,000, a little over. Then if we wanted to go to some of the other papers, I guess from the list the agency came up with, we could have a potential of almost $30,000 for advertising. I took a sort of middle-of-the-road figure and just put that in, understanding that the committee could change this if it wanted to.

The Chair: Any discussion?

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): Just a question around the process. I realize it's the first time that I as a member, and probably quite a few of us, have actually gone through the process of trying to hire a Provincial Auditor. For our viewers who are watching us, this is what the advertising is for. Is the use of an advertising agency a common practice in seeking out who we're going to advertise with? It seems to me it would be fairly simple, but perhaps the clerk could enlighten us as to the use of an advertising agency and how much of the expense in advertising is actually going to the advertising agency.

Clerk of the Committee: I'm sorry. I missed part of that, but I think I got the end of it. Generally, say, when a committee is advertising or, in this case -- I've gone through personnel for this. When they're advertising, they go through an agency to have it place the actual ad and make the contact with the newspapers.

Was your question about the agency cost involved? To tell you the truth, that wasn't in the breakdown I got from personnel. I think we do this because it's more efficient for us. We don't have the contacts with the newspapers. They know who to contact. They have the facilities to have the ad camera-ready, which we don't, so that's one of the reasons we go through an agency.

Mr O'Connor: So it would be rather common practice for human resources to go through agencies when hiring someone?

Clerk of the Committee: To go through an advertising agency to place the ad. That's what we're talking about at this point. I guess I'm seeing it that when you say "agencies," you could also be referring to placement agencies, and that's not what we're talking about at this point. I don't believe human resources does that.

The Chair: Anything else on the budget?

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): On the registration fees for CCAF, could you elaborate a little bit on that? What conference is that?

Clerk of the Committee: That's the Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation conference, and perhaps Mr Otterman could explain more of the function of the audit foundation.

Mr Jim F. Otterman: The CCAF is about 10 years old, and it really functions as the main research and study group to forward the advancement of the value-for-money, so-called comprehensive auditing. It holds an annual conference that is nationally attended every year, and this year the site is Toronto.

Mr Duignan: And we're expecting all the members of the committee to go to that?

The Chair: I'd recommend one member per party.

Mr Duignan: We have 12 members. Cost it in for 12 members and two staff.

The Chair: We do.

Clerk of the Committee: Not having any clear direction from the committee, I put in the 12 members hoping that a decision would be reached here on how many members to attend, so that's quite simple. Just so I'm clear on this, do you mean a subcommittee? Basically that's a Chair, Vice-Chair and two additional members.

Mr Duignan: I would recommend that the same number of people attend the CCAF conference as the CCPAC conference and that the cost be reduced accordingly.

The Chair: That's fine. I just want to remind members that if you don't give yourself a 5% or 10% leeway in this budget, you're going to send myself and the clerk back to the Board of Internal Economy for $400 or $500 in the middle of the year, and I'd rather not do that. If we know we're not going to spend the money, we'll turn the money back in to the treasury; it's not as if we're going to keep it.

Mr Duignan: That's fine, but I was wondering, that's just for this particular cost here, $7,700, but where is the other cost? Are there other costs figured in here as well in the other parts of the budget such as travel, per diems etc? Is that figured in for that particular conference in that budget as well?

Clerk of the Committee: Because it's in November, when the House is sitting, the committee members would not put in for allowances.

Mr Duignan: Unless it's in constituency week.

Clerk of the Committee: I don't believe it is. It is November 19, I believe.

Mr Otterman: It's November 22 to 24.

Clerk of the Committee: And constituency week is November 9 to 13, so it's not at that time.

Mr O'Connor: How much of the total cost there is actually in registration fees, or is the total for registration fees?

Clerk of the Committee: The registration fee is approximately $550. I'm not sure if it has gone up. Last year it was $535. I increased it slightly just to cover us if it had increased at all. That's been their registration fee for a number of years now.

Ms Sharon Murdock (Sudbury): In terms of this conference we are discussing right now, that is in Toronto in November, correct? Does everyone have to be registered? Could one attend as an observer, or must they be registered?

Mr Otterman: I really can't answer that. You'd have to contact CCAF.

The Chair: I think under normal circumstances, when observers attend conferences, there's a fee for that also.

Ms Murdock: Significantly less, though, I would think.

Clerk of the Committee: I'm not entirely sure, because they have one fee that is less for their members and then another fee for non-members, so that may be the observer category they have.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): What was the budget for 1991-92 and what was the percentage increase or decrease?

The Chair: We'll ask the clerk to get that information. Don't forget, in last year's budget we did not have to hire a new Provincial Auditor.

Mr Tilson: I'm aware of that.

The Chair: I think this committee is doing a lot less travelling than the committee did last year, if I remember everything I read correctly.

Clerk of the Committee: Last year's budget was $90,406.56. That's an increase of a little over $30,000.

Mr Tilson: What percentage is that? Did you work that out?

Clerk of the Committee: I haven't worked that out, no.

The Chair: I can tell the committee members in 30 seconds how they can cut their budget. Instead of asking to work four weeks during the summer break and four weeks during the winter break for all these important things members are telling me they want to do, you can reduce that to one week in the summer and one week in the winter, and we'll cut our budget.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I don't think we should be so defensive.

The Chair: No, I'm a little annoyed because I thought we were responding to the committee and I thought I was hearing --

Mr Tilson: There's no need to be annoyed. I was just asking what the figures were for last year. Obviously we have expenses for advertising for the auditor -- advertising alone is $15,000 -- travel expenses for candidates, so there are some substantial expenses this committee is going to have to bear as a result of the search for a new auditor, which will be this committee's responsibility.

I guess that leads to my next question. When the province seeks out a new auditor, is it common practice, is it natural, that this committee would be responsible for that expense?

The Chair: It has never been done before. The only example I can give you of any similarity was when the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly hired the clerk. The committee budgeted all those expenses because it as asked by the assembly to undertake that responsibility, in the same way we've been asked by the government to undertake the responsibility of seeking out a new auditor.

Mr Tilson: There's no question a large percentage of the $30,000 increase is for the cost of retaining a new auditor.

The Chair: Yes.

Mr Tilson: As long as everyone understands that and that whoever reviews these budgets and starts pointing fingers realizes that is an expense this committee is bearing for the government.

The Chair: I'd like to make two points. I realize where your thoughts are heading, Mr Tilson, and I agree with you completely. Any outside observer, if he does not have the facts we have before us, would certainly wonder why the budget has increased.

The reasons are twofold. You've explained one of them: this committee's responsibility for seeking and going through the process of appointing a new auditor. Second, in response to the committee members' statements last week, when we heard from certain presenters about what was going on at certain hospitals and the view of the committee that we had to get in and ensure we had enough time to adequately investigate government transfers to certain institutions to ensure the citizenry were getting value for money, in order to accomplish all that we need to have sitting time. That's where the other expense comes in.

Mr Duignan: Just to follow up on Mr Tilson's comments about going through the process of hiring another auditor. I wonder if we could separate those costs out of this budget and put them under the heading of the cost of hiring an auditor so it's very clear to the Board of Internal Economy that this is what's causing us to go through this process. Then we have a reference for the future of what the cost would be.


Mr Tilson: That's a valid point, Mr Chairman. As you've quite correctly pointed out, this committee is going to have to spend many more weeks -- maybe I shouldn't say weeks, but at least days, as it has in the past, interviewing candidates, aside from the cost of advertising and perhaps paying individuals the the expense incurred in having candidates come before the committee. I think that would be very useful.

Mr Duignan: This is a new process and it would be useful from the start to get a handle on the cost of going through this process.

The second point I have goes back to the conferences. If the conference is being held in Toronto when the House is sitting, there is no way 12 members are going to be at that conference. Factoring a cost of 12 members to go to a conference is somewhat high, and I'm also wondering why we have two staff people going to both conferences. Is there a reason?

Mr Cousens: I have a few concerns and we all have to be worried about the dollars involved. I've been at these conferences in the past when we've been a host city. There's a tremendous advantage for us all to come and go as we want. There's a tremendous learning process that goes on within this committee and if we are able to understand some modicum of improvement of what goes on -- I never fail to learn something when I go. I have never stayed for the full time, so if a news reporter were to come along and ask, "Did I get my money's worth or did the taxpayers get their money's worth?" I think every one of them could write a story that was nasty about me. I can still justify it in my own mind that I've had the chance to go. I have gone and I have shown, number one, my interest in the whole audit control business and I've always come away with a better sense of it. If there's one thing we're going to cut in this place, I would say it wouldn't be the chance for us to continue to do those things.

Number two, in defence of what the Chairman just said, if this committee -- we touch on more dollars spent within the government than any other committee, and with the responsibility for it. I happen to think that the budget that's been prepared is fairminded and there will be some movement that goes back and forth within it. I don't think it's going to be accurate, but at least we've got the flexibility to do what we want to do. I appreciate the concerns you and my colleague from our caucus have. I just say that with the time limitations we've got, I wish we'd get on with some of the other issues we have in the committee. I support the proposals we have before us, imperfect as they are.

Mr Duignan: I appreciate the comments of my colleague and I'm glad to see that he feels the members would benefit by going to the conference, and I stand by his experience. Hopefully, I will get something from the conference as well.

Mr Cousens: You'll probably get a lot more than I ever did.

Mr Duignan: I support this budget with the provision that we take out the cost of hiring the auditor and put that under a separate heading.

Clerk of the Committee: Could I include that in an explanatory note? I can expand on that or I can do it on a separate sheet. For the committee's own knowledge and information, I'm planning on trying to keep the costs very separate on this. We'll have a record for the future of all the costs involved and I'm asking finance branch to help me on this, to keep a separate budget for this so that we're very clear on the costs involved.

Mr Duignan: Again, I would like to see the cost of hiring the auditor separate on this budget because --

The Chair: Mr Duignan, I hear you. We're going to prepare this so that anyone looking at the documentation will immediately be able to know that there were extra costs in our budget this year because we were asked to hire the new Provincial Auditor. I can assure the committee that will happen.

I want the committee members to know that there will be less travel this year than last year. There will be fewer members travelling this year than last year and I want you to feel comfortable in being able to say that if you feel it's necessary at any point. I've been listening to the committee where we've been trying to zero in -- the budget is to make moneys available so we can carry out, along with our auditor, the investigations we deem necessary because of allegations of misuse of public moneys. That's where we are going to zero in our expenditures. After having witnesses before us last week and having heard the committee members for two weeks telling me how they would like to move in certain directions, that's how we have structured the budget.

Mr Tilson: A question, to anyone I guess: We seem to be moving towards the next subject of an inspection of hospitals. Specifically, the Toronto Hospital has been referred to. If we get into areas such as this, if things are revealed, the auditor may have a further report. I don't know where we are going. I guess my question is whether the clerk thinks sufficient time is being set aside in the summertime in case we get into other areas such as that. Obviously we will be spending more time with respect to interviewing candidates, but we may be obliged, for obvious reasons, to spend some time on investigation with respect to hospitals.

The Chair: Okay. I believe I've asked for just about the maximum that committees are given under normal circumstances, and that is the four weeks. We can certainly ask for five weeks if we think we are going to use five weeks. I don't see why we might not use five weeks once we start to delve into some of the things we heard.

Mr Tilson: The reason I say that is that obviously a large portion of that time will be spent dealing with candidates, whereas normally we might be looking at other areas. The Legislature is asking this committee to deal with a specific issue, which I gather now we're being told is a little unusual -- and I support it because I think this is the committee that should be doing that, performing that role -- but we do have other obligations to pursue. We do have other areas which this committee may choose or may not choose to do. In light of the fact that we will be spending considerable time with interviewing candidates, should we not be allowing for some time to deal with other topics, such as hospitals?

The Chair: Good point. Mr Duignan and then Mr O'Connor.

Mr Duignan: I would like to follow on with that point. I think the hiring of the auditor is an extraordinary process and should not be seen as part of the regular, ongoing work of this committee. It should be separate and the committee should be allowed that extra time to deal with the hiring of the auditor. The regular time that's allotted during the recess to deal with other matters should still be allowed to continue.

Mr O'Connor: I believe last year when about this time we were going through the budget for this committee, we made recommendations and time allotment for the committee to sit during the recess periods. We didn't receive what we asked for from the Board of Internal Economy and went back to it asking a second time. In fact, I believe the whole committee went into the Board of Internal Economy to make our point and we came away with a little bit better.

I think the difficulty you may have, Mr Chair, when this is presented to the Board of Internal Economy is the fact that it will take a look at the large amount of time we have set aside here. I don't think it's being overly generous at all. It is quite frugal in handing out time for a committee to sit, so I think you'll have to make the point very clear to the Board of Internal Economy when the budget is presented that the time we're asking for is not only for the committee, as my colleagues have mentioned so far, but will also be for looking for the Provincial Auditor.

But I don't believe we'll need the entire committee for a lot of that process. We have talked about the subcommittee actually doing some of the screening so that we get down to a smaller number, so you may want to point that out to the Board of Internal Economy when that time comes.


Mr Duignan: That was precisely my point, and in separating out the costs of the auditor from the regular committee budget, that should be seen as an extraordinary process this committee has to go through, and the regular business of this committee still should be reflected in the regular budget of this committee.

The Chair: I'm going to recommend to the committee, then, that we set aside two weeks to complete the process of hiring the Provincial Auditor. I foresee one of those two weeks with the full committee sitting and possibly the first of those two weeks with the subcommittee sitting. Then I'll recommend to the committee that we set aside three further weeks to do the work it appears absolutely necessary we do. We've got to get to the bottom of this problem at those hospitals.

The clerk aptly points out that of those three weeks one of them is going to be taken up with that conference by the subcommittee. So it's going to be two, two and one.

Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): I think we should really make a pitch for that extra time, at least try. We may not get it, but the point is to try.

The Chair: The two, two and one?

Ms Haeck: Yes, whatever additional times we can in fact negotiate, because I have heard from constituents in St Catharines who are anxious to get to the bottom of some of this. I think we're all in concurrence that in reality this is an area which does need to be delved into at some greater depth.

The Chair: That'll drive the budget up further.

Mr Cousens: I'll second the motion on it.

Ms Haeck: How many letters would you like supporting this activity?

The Chair: How about if we redo our budget with all the changes the members have suggested? We're going to ensure absolutely that the time and the cost necessary to go through the procedure of hiring a new Provincial Auditor will be separate and very clearly so.

I ask that the committee members speak to and explain to their House leaders in advance -- I'll certainly speak to the Liberal House leader -- that we need two weeks for the process for the Provincial Auditor and a minimum of two weeks to look at this matter with the hospitals. I will be making that pitch. I don't know how we're going to get anything done unless we get this time. We will not get to the bottom of the presentation made by the group that came before us last week unless we have that time. Does that sound fair? We'll come back to this on the 28th.


Consideration of section 2.8 of the Provincial Auditor's 1991 annual report regarding the inspection audit of the Toronto General division of the Toronto Hospital.

The Chair: I think that during our discussion of point 1 on our agenda we have, in a way, discussed also point 2, and that was discussing section 2.8 of the Provincial Auditor's 1991 annual report, inspection of the Toronto Hospital.

I was wondering, maybe the auditor might want to tell us his opinions as to how we should proceed, generally speaking, and what would be most efficient, if you have any ideas on that at this time, so that the committee members could maybe have clear in their own minds what role your office is going to play, so that we could kind of coordinate our work together? If there are any questions and answers, we may be able to resolve them this morning or may be able to have greater cooperation as we go through this process. I think it's going to be very important that we have a structure in place, as we review all of this matter, that makes us as efficient as possible.

Mr Otterman: Yes. Mr Chair, perhaps you could give me some idea on the process and the type of motion you have in mind.

The Chair: We're handing out a draft motion right now. The motion reads as follows:

"The standing committee on public accounts requests that, under section 17 of the Audit Act, the Provincial Auditor perform a follow-up audit, with full access to the financial records, of the Toronto General division of the Toronto Hospital and report the results of this audit to the committee. The audit should address, but not be restricted to, the following: the new computer equipment at the Toronto General division; contracts with Begley and Associates; recent construction/renovation projects at the Toronto General division.

"This audit may also take into account the concerns raised at the committee's hearings in February and May 1992."

That is our first draft.

Mr Otterman: Mr Chair, given the nature of that type of request, the normal procedure would be that if the committee passes this resolution we would make arrangements to meet with the hospital people first and basically structure the audit and how we would want to conduct the audit. We would normally not come back to the committee, provided we were not encountering any problems. If we felt we were proceeding in a manner that was getting the information the resolution requested, we would not anticipate any interim briefings or reports. That's based on past practice and it's probably just a matter of timing and practicalities. We would issue the report to the committee on finalization and then it would be a public document and you would schedule your hearings in the normal manner.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, has someone made this resolution?

The Chair: It's just a draft motion for discussion.

Mr Tilson: Certainly I'm prepared to make the resolution and support it, but my question to Mr Otterman is: Is the draft extensive enough in light of the difficulties the auditor had when visiting the Toronto Hospital in the past? Particularly having access to particular records, at least in my observation, you've met with substantial resistance.

Mr Otterman: Having just seen this wording, I couldn't give you a definitive answer right now. However, I would point out that under section 17 of our Audit Act we still could encounter resistance, and if that were to happen, that would certainly be the point when we would come back to the committee and say that we could not proceed in the manner you had instructed us to. So you would be fully aware and could consult and give further guidance.

Mr Tilson: It's for that reason that I'm raising the issue, because from what I've seen listening to the representatives from the Toronto Hospital, there's no reason why that won't occur again. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Audit Act, can this committee direct you -- not direct; I guess we can't direct you to do anything -- but request that you do certain things?

Mr Otterman: I think, under Section 17, what you've done here is what you can do. However, perhaps I can defer to the clerk to address what powers this gives us. In the past we have had some precedents. I believe in the investigation of the IDEA investments back some years ago we were asked by the committee to investigate some of the companies that were connected with that and we sought the cooperation of those companies. However, when they refused, that was the extent of our power under the act, and we reported back to the committee.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I've been concerned about this issue for several reasons. One was because the Provincial Auditor's office has told us it met with substantial resistance when it attended before. Second, from my own observations, when the representatives from the Toronto Hospital were before this committee, many of the answers -- I don't know whether members of the committee would support me or not, but in my opinion at least, they were evasive and did not address some of the concerns we were getting at. So I don't believe we have adequate answers for many of the issues you have raised.

My concern is that we don't want to send you off and then have you come back. I believe there's enough evidence now, with the presentations made from the Toronto Hospital, from your own comments that they gave you resistance, and, more important, from the most serious allegations that were made last week when the representatives of CUPE came before this committee.

So I think there are enough facts there that whatever power we have, if it could be done in this resolution -- and it may be my not understanding the procedure enough -- if we have certain powers to do certain things, asking or requesting that you do, I believe that should be in this resolution. That's my only question to you: that we ask for your guidance that you tell us the wording is adequate enough in this resolution.


The Chair: We're running a list. We have Ms Murdock, Mr Cousens, Mr Duignan and Mr Cordiano.

Mr Tilson: Before we get to that, I wonder if Mr Otterman could comment.

The Chair: I think you may want to look at it a little longer before --

Mr Otterman: Yes.

The Chair: Yes. I think he needs a couple of minutes with the motion. As we're waiting, we'll continue. We're running a list.

Ms Murdock: Actually, Mr Tilson and I are thinking along the same wavelength, because my concern is that this doesn't state it fully enough: that just putting "with full access to the financial records" is not strong enough.

What I'm wondering too, along the same vein as Mr Tilson, is what recommendations could be made by this committee as to sanctions, should there be any resistance or those kinds of possibilities, in order to have access to non-transferred funds or non-governmental agency funds. Since that seems to be the area where they get the most resistance in terms of access to the books, do we have any recourse to any other pieces of legislation in terms of investigations by agencies other than this committee if we don't have the power to go any further?

The Chair: We've said here in the motion "with full access to the financial records." I guess we could say "with full access to all the financial records."

Mr Otterman: "Financial and related records" would strengthen it.

The Chair: Yes. We'll change some of those words around.

Mr Cousens: I concur. The only point to add is the time frame. I would like to see some reference to when the auditor would try to report back. Jim will be good at giving us an interim report along the way, but I hope we can start this without delay and report back as expeditiously as is possible.

Mr Duignan: Again, I think we're all saying the same thing. I had a real concern last February when the people from the Toronto Hospital were here and they were totally evasive in their answers. I couldn't agree more with Mr Tilson -- the question, for example, around the administration and administration salaries. For example, down in the Burlington area, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital down there, sheer public pressure finally made it reveal some of what its administration costs were. Hopefully, by this committee doing this resolution it will force them too to reveal or open up all their books to access by the auditor.

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): I would like to ask the committee what our objective is in setting this motion forward. I think we've discussed this particular issue in the past with respect to the powers under the Audit Act. I really think the issue is not so much how we word this motion. If we're attempting to show the inadequacies of the act by attempting to move forward in this fashion, then that's an objective you surely will meet by taking this action. If, on the other hand, we really want to get information, I think we have a long time to wait until the act is changed. That's really our primary objective.

So I would not want, first of all, to commandeer the resources of the auditor in an exercise that's futile if we're going to spend a great deal of your time doing that and once again coming up against roadblocks that inevitably will be thrown at you.

So I think we need to think this through in terms of our objectives, what we really want to accomplish, and not get hung up about the wording of the motion, because I think you're still going to encounter those difficulties. Our act does not give you unlimited powers. I think this will be challenged quite fiercely by the institutions you're entering.

I think as a committee we need to understand that and set those parameters. If it's so desired that the auditor spend his time to prove this objective, then yes, by all means let's move forward if we understand that that's a primary objective. On the other hand, if that's not a primary objective, then let's not waste the auditor's resources by coming up against roadblocks time and again.

Mr Cousens: Mr Cordiano is making a point that we shouldn't just overlook.

The Chair: I'm not going to overlook it.

Mr Cousens: But to address what he's just said --

Ms Haeck: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Can you check whether I'm on the list? I know I was on the list and I do have some comments in relation to this.

The Chair: Your point of order is well taken. As a matter of fact, my list shows that you're after Mr Cordiano, and then Mr Cousens.

Ms Haeck: Thank you very much, Mr Chair, and thank you, Mr Cousens. You are always a gracious colleague.

The one thing I did want to raise around the comments Mr Cordiano just made is that the point is the Audit Act. I really, truly have to say that I have had letters from constituents who are concerned about how hospitals are spending their money, and they have also talked about the fact that they are concerned about the Audit Act. As a result of that, I have continued my lobby of the Treasurer to find out what is happening to those proposed changes.

Something that's incumbent upon this committee -- I would call it a two-pronged attack -- is to make sure we do make our opinions regarding the Audit Act and the changes we would like to see happen known to the Treasurer, and do that forthwith. On the other side, we are all concerned, as has been evidenced again today, with how public moneys are spent and that we do not just encourage but in fact mandate the auditor to follow up.

Having sat on this committee last February to listen to the universities making their presentations and realizing the kind of impact our concerns had on the university community in this province and the changes they have undertaken as institutions, I think it really behooves us to follow through on the proposed motion and thereby communicate to the hospitals within the province that we are definitely concerned about how public dollars are being spent and lend weight to anything the auditor is trying to do in that regard.

The Chair: Mr Cousens, thank you for waiting.

Mr Cousens: If there's some concern that we don't have sufficient control through a motion and through the Audit Act, if it were necessary to have a bill brought to the Legislature, I would strongly endorse that this committee bring forward special legislation, following discussions that the Chair could have with Mr Otterman and other people, and that we have the House leader table it. It would receive full party support from our caucus, and knowing where other members are coming from, I think it would receive quick support so that we could do what was necessary and correct and there would be no fooling around.

I don't think there's anyone in this committee who doesn't want to get to the bottom of it. Let's just make sure we do it right. I personally would be prepared to work with anyone to make sure the truth is finally unveiled.

Mr Cordiano: I think that's probably not a bad suggestion at this point in time, since we've moved forward in this regard, with the auditor probing, if you will, in the past and finding it difficult to achieve stated objectives and ascertain the information that's required to really move things forward.

I think the point you made earlier, Christel, was well taken in the sense that once the auditor begins to ask questions you get some movement there. However, I'm concerned that if we continue to do this, I don't think the auditor has the resources at the present time to just do that. If it were a full audit, then that would give a signal to people that they can be audited at any time. I think that's really what the auditor's role is, to ensure that by example -- if you were to do an audit on every single transfer recipient I don't think you have the resources. You can't do that right across the government, so we try to do it in a targeted fashion that in the end tries to achieve the objective of people looking at it and saying, "This is an example." Therefore, you have to be on alert because you never know when you're going to be audited.

At this point, if we're serious about allowing the auditor to move the yardsticks forward, we should take some immediate action. Other than that, I'm simply not prepared to move forward with the kind of role we've indicated in the past the auditor should take. At this point we need to discuss this more fully and state some objectives that are going to be a little more far-reaching at this time.


Mr O'Connor: There was one area in the motion that I don't think has been addressed that was addressed by the presentation we received from CUPE a week ago: personnel and management. I was wondering if this would allow that auditing to take place. They mentioned it, I think, around page 4 of the report and again on pages 21 and 22.

I think it would be appropriate, if possible, for them to take a look at some of the changes in personnel in regard to layoff and hiring practices. It seems to have been a concern that CUPE presented as well as some of the more common things they had talked about; for example, the pumps and the beds and the huge dollars in those two areas that they'd mentioned in the report. Perhaps you would naturally follow with some of the discussion they presented to the committee in the report. Whether it would have to actually be in the motion or not, I would just like maybe some clarification.

Ms Murdock: I see Mr Cordiano's point. Under the act they have gone in, done an audit and encountered resistance. I think this should be seen as having a legislative committee giving them further import and impact in going in and asking for the same information. I think it's pretty evident from what everybody's saying here -- we expect they're going to get resistance again. But it adds import to the letter we're sending to the Treasurer as proof positive that changes to the act are needed and they should be done ASAP if not, as Mr Cousens suggests, immediately.

I've only recently been added to this committee so I haven't had the advantage of your February hearings, but in the short time I've been exposed to some of the things here it's pretty evident that the act just isn't powerful enough in certain areas and needs to be reinforced. The point of changing the act, as Mr Cordiano suggests, if that's our intent -- I think this needs to be done, or this resolution should go through, just to add impact to the whole thing and at the same time we don't sit back idly and wait for this all to happen. We can still be working with the auditor's office to see what kinds of amendments should be done or indeed if a different piece of legislation should be put through.

Ms Haeck: I want to raise one question with Mr Cordiano. While I appreciate everything he is saying and don't in any way totally disagree, I would be concerned if we sort of put this very important investigation aside to lobby and work solely on the Audit Act. My question to you is, what would you propose we do in the meantime if we don't try to get to the bottom of some of the very real concerns at Toronto General Hospital?

Mr Cordiano: Could I respond to that, Mr Chairman? It's a sensitive issue. I'm not suggesting we put this on the back burner. I'm just saying that if we're going to continue in this vein, understanding that we're always going to bump up against resistance, then I think it's incumbent upon us to realize that obviously we're not going to reach stated objectives through this method, and at the same time understanding that perhaps this should go through -- we know what's going to be the outcome -- at one and the same time determine in our own minds that at this point in time we should take this opportunity to then move forward in a serious, direct way if we mean business about this.

If we don't, then let's just understand that as well. We've been dealing with this for a number of years, and if we want to continue as we have in the past, by all means let's just understand that among ourselves as a committee and realize that we have limitations with respect to how we are mandated under the Audit Act. But if we're willing to move forward, and as legislators understand the importance of doing that, in fact there couldn't be a more meaningful point in time to be undertaking this exercise.

Ms Haeck: I think we're all in concurrence. It's not a matter that we're really trying to put anything aside. We actually all want to move forward on this particular motion, but with the understanding that we do have to be moving in other areas as well, as in the Audit Act.

Mr Cordiano: I'm using this as an opportunity to say to all members of the committee that now is the time to take this thing seriously and to move it forward. Whatever means we use as a committee I'm in favour of as long as they're within our mandated operations here, but I think we can legitimately say to the House, in some fashion, by some method, that we as a committee want to see movement on the act.

Whether that's through the vehicle of a bill that's presented to the House leader in agreement with all three parties, I'm not sure, but let's examine that. Let's just simply say that we need to take some action now. We have serious problems with funding our transfer recipients. We all understand the pressures that the government's under with respect to funding.

I think this is a way for members being responsible to their constituents. You've heard and I've heard from many people that there just isn't enough money to go around. I think one of the areas that we as legislators, this assembly, should be looking at is those transfer recipients. We've been talking about this for a number of years and I think now's the time to move. There hasn't been a better time.

Ms Haeck: No, I think we're all in agreement actually.

The Chair: I think the auditor has something to tell us.

Mr Otterman: I recall back to the February hearings. I just want to raise this in true audit fashion; I shouldn't prejudge the situation. The Chair or Vice-Chair who was here that day, or the president -- I can't recall exactly which -- did say that if the Provincial Auditor came in today with new management there would be excellent cooperation. This would be an opportunity to find out of course whether that existed. There is also quite a change in the senior management there, so I just want to mention that that was what was stated at those hearings.

Mr Tilson: Can I ask how long this draft resolution has been before us? If we were to put this forward to pass, could we put a time frame as to when an audit could be completed, a time frame to report back to this committee?

Mr Otterman: This is a bit of a guesstimate of course, but given the time of year, the summer period, anything before our reporting in September would probably be out of the question. We could entertain a motion asking the auditor to report back by a date of September. If you could allow some flexibility in that, though, it would be appreciated.

Mr Tilson: September 1, the end of September, what do you think? I'm going to consider making this resolution, and that's the only item I see that we need to put in the resolution.

Mr Cordiano: Could you explain why, just for my purposes? It's not a big issue, but I'm curious as to why a time frame. We generally don't do that with the auditor. We allow the auditor to report back to us.


Mr Tilson: If he can't make it, he'll tell us. If he can't get it done in September, he'll tell us.

Mr Cordiano: I'm not saying we have to do things the way we've always done them. I'm just wondering why. Is there any particular reason with respect to this?

Mr Tilson: Well, I think this is a serious issue. Two issues have been drawn to our attention. One is that the Audit Act needs reform. In fact, my belief is that there is already a draft Audit Act sitting on someone's desk somewhere. I don't know whose desk, but I hope it comes forward soon. Every day, whether it's Education or whether it's Health, we're finding that the legislation does need to be changed, that the auditor is restricted.

The second is that this whole subject of hospitals is of grave concern to all of us and I think we're remiss if we don't act as soon as possible. I don't want this thing to be reported back "in due course." If it's a reasonable date, if some time in September is a reasonable date and you find that you're having trouble reaching that date, I assume you'd come and tell us.

Mr Cordiano: If I could just respond to that, given the time that's required, I would be somewhat concerned that if we were to wait until you either came back with a somewhat acceptable report or found resistance, we would then be putting off our time schedule for doing something to move forward with amendments to the Audit Act way ahead in terms of the fall sitting -- that would probably be the earliest time for any action -- and by the time this legislation were dealt with, it would be the spring of 1993 or beyond that, the way things move around here.

If we're very serious about this, I think we need to respond probably now, start the process at this point in time, and then hopefully by the fall we can see some movement with respect to possible amendments to the act and then line up some time in the legislative session for that to occur. I just think we need to move more quickly than that.

Mr Tilson: That is the reason I asked. I'd actually hoped that if the auditor discovers serious issues, this committee could have spent some time during the summer months. But Mr Otterman is telling us the earliest he could report back to us would be September, which would preclude this committee dealing with this matter further until that time. That's essentially what you're saying.

Mr Otterman: We could try, but I wouldn't want to promise. Six to eight weeks in the summertime, with people being away, depending on how it goes, the debriefing process and getting the right people at the right time and all of that, could be very difficult.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I would move the resolution. There are some suggested amendments which I concur with and a date that the auditor --

The Chair: You want a date, Mr Tilson?

Mr Tilson: Yes.

The Chair: What is the date you are recommending?

Mr Tilson: September 1 or September 30? The 15th of September?

The Chair: If we wait until the end of September, we won't have any sittings.

Mr Tilson: The 15th of September. He's telling us it's unlikely that he can be any earlier. The earlier the better, but --

The Chair: The only reason I point that out to the committee is that we may want to do a couple of other things then during the two or three weeks in the summer. There have been some ideas floating around from members that there are other matters they want to look into.

Mr Tilson: Without this report coming back, we're pretty well precluded from doing that in the summer.

The Chair: Exactly. Just as long as we all understand that.

Ms Murdock: Rather than just set a finite date, could we not just say early fall? Would that appease Mr Tilson?

The Chair: Say September 1, and if there's a problem, we'll be notified in due course. We all work together on this committee.

Mr Tilson: I would so move that resolution, Mr Chairman.

Mr O'Connor: I never heard Mr Otterman talk about the personnel, medical and administration. Would that have to be in the resolution or can that be addressed without being in the resolution through your routine audit process? That was one of the areas that was raised by CUPE when they were here before us.

Mr Cordiano: What was that? Can you repeat that for me?

Mr Tilson: It's in the final paragraph.

The Chair: I will read to the committee the amended resolution. It was moved by Mr Tilson:

"The standing committee on public accounts requests that, under section 17 of the Audit Act, the Provincial Auditor perform a follow-up audit with full access to all the financial and related records of the Toronto General division of the Toronto Hospital and report the results of this audit to the committee by September 1, 1992. The audit should address, but not be restricted to, the following:

"(a) the new computer equipment at Toronto General division;

"(b) contracts with Begley and Associates;

"(c) recent construction/renovation projects at Toronto General division.

"This audit may also take into account the concerns raised at the committee's hearings in February and May 1992."

Discussion: Mr Cordiano and Mr O'Connor.

Mr Cordiano: If the auditor should receive some difficulties along the way in terms of retrieving information or access to this information, I believe it might be wise to report back to the committee in the interim the difficulties you're experiencing. Therefore we would probably have a report, in that scenario, before September 1. That would kind of indicate to us that you're not going to get any further than we anticipated, so therefore we're at the point where we are today, basically not having gone any further ahead. Would that be acceptable or reasonable?

Mr Otterman: Yes. I believe that in some earlier comments I made, I indicated that that would be the normal procedure.

Mr Cordiano: At that point we would then be able to determine that you're certainly not going to make any headway with respect to this issue, and therefore we're back to square one.

Mr O'Connor: This is on the motion as well, the final sentence. I haven't heard, Auditor, whether we need to put that into the response. Could we change, in the last sentence, the word "may" to either "should" or "shall take into account concerns raised"?

Mr Otterman: Mr Chair, that covers a great deal of waterfront if you change that to "shall." There are many issues, as you recall, raised by the brief from CUPE as well as arising from our audit that would have a time and resource impact. So my recommendation would be that if the committee desires to add an additional definitive part, that would be preferable to saying "shall" to all the other concerns.

Mr O'Connor: Could you respond to my comments about the personnel?

Mr Otterman: An initial reaction to that is that it would be probably a more difficult area to assess, because I think it ties back in with the whole background of the merger and the alleged savings. As you know, the testimony in February by the hospital people was that they never intended to track it, and the records -- I think they said you couldn't verify it. I'm just cautioning that this could be a grey area and it could be very difficult to come up with something auditable in that area. But certainly, if it's the wish of this committee, we could try.

Mr O'Connor: Would it be possible to amend the motion to direct the auditor to look into the personnel numbers of medical and administration for a period of time? That was one area that was raised; it was raised several times when they were before us and referred to at page 4 and pages 21 and 22 of the CUPE report. It's just a concern.


Mr Tilson: I appreciate what you're saying. We don't know the accuracy of those allegations. The auditor's office may simply determine at the very outset that those allegations are not well founded. I am certain that if the auditor found the allegations were well founded, the auditor would proceed, but I don't think we should be sending the auditor off on some wild goose chase. The staff may come to the conclusion that those allegations simply aren't true, so I'm not prepared to amend that. I think the resolution is general enough. It allows the auditor and the auditor's office in their discretion to make all of those inquiries.

Ms Haeck: I am going to concur with Mr O'Connor. The reason is that I have seen in various media -- I think we all have -- that there is a very clear concern in the public about executive salaries and the golden handshakes and parachutes and a few other things happening these days that are very much hidden from public view. In a private company, the stockholders obviously bear some responsibility, as well as the board of directors, to try to ascertain and keep a lid on that, but in the case of an agency like this, that receives hundreds of millions of dollars of public moneys, I think it has to be very clear to all and sundry what is happening in this regard.

We really took the bull by the horns with regard to the universities and tried to ascertain as well as possible what kind of contracts were concluded. There were very clear questions to my alma mater, Trent University, on the kind of golden handshake it gave one of its outgoing presidents. That was a substantial sum of money, if I may remind Mr Tilson.

Likewise here. With some of the perks of office, as well as the kind of moneys involved, I think it should be clear to all and sundry what is involved and what these moneys are going for.

Mr Cordiano: It goes back to the original question: Just how much time do we want the auditor to dedicate to this? The resources are not limitless. The time the auditor has allocated to undertake the three items we've suggested already indicates to me that about a three-month period is required. If we're going to ask the auditor now to look into a number of areas that have been mentioned here previously -- that you've brought up, Mr O'Connor -- I think it's a real problem in terms of the resources available to conduct that extensive an audit, which the auditor has indicated very clearly would require a great deal more work. It really comes down to how many resources the auditor has, and that again speaks to the original issue I raised at the beginning, that we need changes in the legislation to permit the auditor to move that much forward with additional resources, if we're going to move in that area.

The Chair: There appears to be a wish here by some members of the committee to amend the motion that's on the floor, so I'm waiting to hear an amendment.

Mr Duignan: I just wanted to speak. I concur with Mr Tilson, except that I think the way this particular motion is drafted right now is fairly broad in its scope, that it would give the auditor leeway to go in and look at all aspects he felt needed to be looked at.

Just a question: There is no existing legislation right now that compels a hospital administration to disclose administration salaries, is there? They don't have to disclose them.

Mr Otterman: None that I'm aware of.

The Chair: The Minister of Financial Institutions mentioned something he wanted to undertake to disclose salaries in the public sectors. Maybe he could --

Mr Tilson: It's private companies that tell their salaries, not public.

The Chair: But I'm saying that maybe while he's doing that, he could broaden his attempt to get full public information out by including everybody in the public and para-public sectors.

Mr O'Connor: In the form of an amendment, then -- I'd appreciate a little help in wording it -- perhaps we could direct the auditor to take a look at concerns raised around personnel, medical administration, and should he feel it warrants further delving into, that he be so directed. Whether we have to put that in or whether the auditor knows the wishes of the committee --

The Chair: Well, the wishes of the committee are split, so I think we have to deal with a motion. I would not want to send our auditor out to do an important job like this and have him worrying, "What is it that the committee wants?" I think we have to pass a motion by a majority of the committee, turn the work over to the auditor and then complete the work when we are able to.

Ms Haeck: My question is a little less tangible, but following up on the amendment, if in your work delving through those records you happened to come across something that would lead you into administrative salaries or whatever, would you naturally pursue that or would that be set aside? Knowing we are definitely interested in that, would you pursue it if you found some records?

Mr Otterman: Other than the questioning and the hearings in February, I don't believe this matter was raised. I'm not sure the CUPE people raised it in their brief.

Yes. It's fair to say that when we did our inspection audits of the universities, if in our normal examination of the accounting and payroll records we came across some abnormal or anomalous type of transactions that raised our curiosity, we followed up on them.

Ms Haeck: In the case of the universities, things that have been raised in the past are chauffeur-driven cars, mortgage payments for houses and things of this sort. If you found that, you would be reporting those for us as well?

Mr Otterman: Yes, although given what we've seen, it wouldn't be the primary matter we'd pursue. If you wanted us to look at the executive salaries or the senior management salaries, for example, to include those in our scope and report back on those areas, I think that would be a good thing to put in the resolution. That way, it's up front. That echoes somewhat the other member's suggestion that if we are going to meet resistance on this, it's going to be over the lack of clarity as well as the individual items: what you really want to look at in that area, for example. It may be best, if you want something in there, to specifically word it.

Ms Haeck: I'm wondering how best to address that. Is it looking at anomalies relating to payroll at all levels? Would that give you the kind of handle on the issue you would require?

The Chair: We can't ask the auditor to write the motion for us.

Ms Haeck: I could try. He nodded appropriately.

The Chair: He's been very helpful. The committee has to know what it wants.

Mr Cordiano: Given that question, if we were to move on that, how much additional time would be required if you're increasing your workload? We're asking difficult questions in terms of setting the right time, because we're setting a limit on it. I'm just concerned that you're going to be off and running and find all kinds of interesting things, if you're even allowed to get that far. By all means go for it. If you're allowed to access those records, we've accomplished our objective.

Mr Otterman: If I can respond to that, who knows what we're going to encounter when we get into this examination? There may be other matters that come to light. I think it would be appropriate for us at that time to come back to the committee, in camera if necessary, and relay what we're finding and what our concerns are. Then the committee would have the opportunity to direct us further, and that would then maybe mean another assignment or something outside of the original report that we'd be giving you.


Mr Tilson: The resolution says "perform a follow-up audit with full access to all financial records." I can't believe that if the auditor's office finds something that's out of the ordinary, the office isn't going to report it. They are not doing their job if they don't. I concur with the points that are being raised over here, but I think the resolution is a good one because it's so general.

Mr O'Connor: I guess the purpose I was trying to raise in directing the auditor, or hoping to, in the form of an amendment, was to have him look at the personnel.

The Chair: Can I summarize what I think you want? You want the auditor to look at the personnel because you believe the management has become top-heavy as compared to the front-line workers, and you believe that because of the merger, front-line workers have suffered and the management has not. Is that basically what you are trying to tell us?

Mr O'Connor: That's what we heard from the representation from CUPE.

The Chair: Could I ask the auditor how he would go about investigating that?

Mr Otterman: You can ask, Mr Chair.

The Chair: We might as well get right to the point, because we've been nibbling around the edges here for half an hour. I think we've got to address the question frontally.

Mr Otterman: That would require looking at and analysing the various staffing and workload factors over some time period, to be able to place those changes in context. You could get into a whole range of things. Some of it could be new technology, a host of things. It would be, let's say, a more difficult, challenging area to do because in our previous audit we were denied any information, as you know, on merger savings or any of these changes that took place. Therefore, that could be a difficult area to pursue.

The Chair: Do you want to add that to your motion?

Mr O'Connor: I'd like to add that to it, and whether it's a task the auditor could accomplish. I'd like to be realistic about it. If the auditor doesn't feel that it's something that is achievable, then there is no sense in putting that in there and tying his hands in coming to this committee with a report in September, making him work needlessly for something he can't give us, something that's unachievable.

The Chair: The member wishes to pursue this matter strenuously, but he has concerns that if it is added to the motion, he may be giving you work that you may not be able to achieve. He wants some clarification on that.

Mr Otterman: I would respond that like any other part of this motion, we'll take it as far as we can go, if that is the wish of the committee. We just don't have the audit knowledge base, because we weren't allowed to see this information, to be more informative at this point on this.

Mr Cordiano: I think we can just put the motion forward then.

Mr Tilson: I think it's general enough, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Do you want to make your amendment?

Mr O'Connor: I'll agree with the motion as set forward. I think that through the discussion we've heard, we're going to end up tying the hands of the auditor anyway if we do proceed any further. Perhaps later, as we deal with the letter to the Treasurer, maybe it will help the auditor in performing his function.

The Chair: All in favour of Mr Tilson's motion?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: Okay. Members were distributed and received draft letter 2.

The clerk reminds me that a copy of the committee's motion is going to be sent to the hospital so that it has the understanding that the committee has instructed the auditor to carry out these responsibilities.

The members received draft letter 2, dated May 11, 1992, addressed to the Treasurer of Ontario. We've had a chance to review this letter over the last few days. I wonder if the committee is prepared to pass a motion to accept the letter.

Mr Duignan: This particular part of the meeting, is it not in --

The Chair: I can't hear you, Mr Duignan.

Mr Duignan: It's okay, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Oh, you're happy? Ms Murdock.

Ms Murdock: Since I was the one who raised the change, or the suggested change, I think it's incumbent upon me to speak to the conclusion or the submission that was made by Mr McLellan. I thought it was fine the way it was. My only one consideration was that the section that was changed on the last page could possibly be a separate paragraph, but I understood it fit within the context of the paragraph on the page before it and continuing. So I liked it the way it was. I think our point has been made.

The Chair: Any further comments on the draft letter? Can I have a motion that we accept the draft letter and that it be prepared for our signatures?

Mr Tilson: Mr Chair, why are we all signing it? Why don't we just direct you to sign it? Is this normal practice?

The Chair: The previous committee had decided that all members would sign, which was the previous committee's decision, and the clerk, since she received no other instructions on the matter, prepared it as the previous committee had suggested.

Mr Tilson: It will take two weeks to track everybody down.

The Chair: Does the committee want me to sign and send it?

Mr Cordiano: Can we amend it so that the Chair can sign the letter? Let's just amend it.

The Chair: Is that okay? That's what we normally do anyway.

Ms Murdock: Just on that point, not that your signature doesn't have any import, but I know that if the Treasurer were to receive this with that many signatures -- but Mr Tilson's point that everybody is going to be difficult to find is well taken. Let's face it, if you saw a letter with that many signatures at the bottom, certainly the impact of it would be much more significant than a single signature. So I think that in the absence of doing it with the many signatures, we should then make sure that we speak on an individual basis to the --

The Chair: We're going to add a line that says I've been instructed by the unanimous consent of the committee.

Ms Murdock: Okay. I think it's important that he realize that it's unanimous.

The Chair: It is unanimous. It's been agreed then. We have consensus that draft letter 2 be sent immediately. We're adding a sentence at the end that the Chair has been instructed by unanimous consent of the committee to send the letter. Before we get to our closed session and the discussion of the draft report on substance abuse, next week being constituency week, the committee will not be able to meet, but the following week I plan to schedule a meeting, the same time, the same place maybe, or maybe committee room 251. I'm not sure. I'd like you to block some time off.

Clerk of the Committee: It is 228.

The Chair: Oh, it's 228. Okay. That's right; you're right.

Interjection: Room 251 is the government caucus.

The Chair: Yes, it's the government caucus. Yes, that's right. There was a reason why. I'm two years early to convene meetings in that room.

Mr Cordiano: Three.

The Chair: Two. So what's the date? We'll be meeting again on May 28. The committee, unless there's anything else we wish to discuss in open session, will now go into closed session.

Mr O'Connor: One other question: I don't know whether we want to deal with this in camera or not. The questionnaire that was filed for the committee to fill in the blanks, so to say, has been something that's been with the committee for some time. Perhaps we should deal with it. I don't know whether we should be dealing with it --

The Chair: Can we deal with it on the May 28? I want to get the committee to these draft reports that have been hanging for a month. If we don't give Ray some time to do his work this morning, we're not going to get past these draft reports ever. Could I put it on the agenda for the 28th?

Mr O'Connor: Quite all right.

The Chair: I hear you. It's been dragging too, but these other matters have come up that have taken the committee's time. The committee now will go into an in camera session to review the draft report on substance abuse.

The committee continued in closed session at 1140.