Thursday 28 May 1992

Committee budget



*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:

*Conway, Sean G. (Renfrew North/-Nord L) for Mr Callahan

*Murdock, Sharon (Sudbury ND) for Mr Johnson

*In attendance / présents

Clerk / Greffière: Manikel, Tannis

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

The committee met at 1036 in room 228.


The Chair (Mr Remo Mancini): The standing committee on public accounts is called to order. We have a brief agenda this morning. Item 1 is the approval of the committee budget; we had some discussion on it last week. I believe we incorporated into the budget all of the suggestions of the members. As noted by the members, we separated out the cost of the selection of the new auditor. Further to that, we added a lengthy explanatory note in regard to a couple of the high-cost items in the budget. So if the members are now satisfied with the layout and with the numbers that appear in the budget, we could make a motion approving the budget and sending it to the Board of Internal Economy for its approval.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): There's a sheet we were presented with summarizing the estimated advertising costs for the selection of the Provincial Auditor. I wonder if the clerk could give me her thoughts on that.

Clerk of the Committee (Ms Tannis Manikel): As I indicated last time, for budget purposes I just put in a sort of middle-of-the-road figure of $15,000. This is the information I received from personnel giving me an estimate of what it would cost to do the advertising in a variety of newspapers across the country. I have discussed this again with Ellen Schoenberger from human resources. She feels that we could probably get away with just using the national edition of the Globe and Mail. That could cut our costs by about $10,000.

Mr Robert Frankford (Scarborough East): Was it agreed that there wasn't enough time to put it in a professional journal?

Clerk of the Committee: We still haven't checked that out to verify that we could get it in the professional journal. We aren't sure of the publishing dates. The other thing we don't know yet, and which the committee has to decide, is the time frame. When does the committee want to meet on doing the selection process? That will determine the closing date of the ad. Until we have that information, we can't make arrangements to run the ad.

The Chair: Other thoughts or suggestions?

Mr Tilson: It's a lot of advertising.

The Chair: It is a lot of advertising, that's correct.

Mr Tilson: What does the government do when it advertises a position as major as this?

The Chair: If we decide to go three days in the Globe and Mail, I think that'll get the message out. We can go four days instead of three, or five days, or what have you, and we can still get the ads across the country and still save $9,000 or $10,000.

Mr Tilson: Yes, the Globe certainly goes across the country. Anyone who's interested reads the Globe.

The Chair: Sure, and we can have an ad big enough that would attract anyone's attention. I'm sure there are only a limited number of people who would actually qualify for such a job. They probably know about this even before the ads appear; I'm sure they know now.

Ms Sharon Murdock (Sudbury): There has to be a professional organization that could send out notices to their own members, isn't there?

Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): There is. The Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees, right? That's the provincial auditors throughout the country, and that includes federal as well as provincial.

Clerk of the Committee: That's the Conference for Legislative Auditors, I guess.

Ms Haeck: But they frequently have a convention at the same time.

The Chair: There's also the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. So you want to go with advertising just in the Globe and Mail national edition? Agreed? Agreed. Is that all right?

Clerk of the Committee: Sure. Now I guess the question is, do we want to decrease the advertising in here to $6,000? That would lower the entire budget.

The Chair: So we're going to put in a global figure of $6,000 for advertising; we've reduced it by $9,000.

Clerk of the Committee: So the new total of the budget would then be $134,741.

Ms Haeck: Could we also, I guess in some respects as a courtesy, but at the same time it would allow that informal flow of information, more formally indicate to the two organizations we just mentioned -- the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the provincial and federal auditors' group -- that an ad will be placed and interested members should contact this committee?

The Chair: Why not? Okay, anything else on the budget?

Ms Haeck: On the advertising again, there was a suggestion that possibly some of the wording --

Ms Murdock: We're not on that.

Ms Haeck: Oh, that's for the ad?

The Chair: Yes, let's finish up the budget. Anything else on the budget? Motion to accept the budget?

Mr Tilson: So moved.

The Chair: Moved by Mr Tilson. Agreed.


The Chair: Item 2 approving the advertising for the Provincial Auditor.

Ms Haeck: We had a concern and talked about it before the meeting started that possibly some of the wording could be cut down in the ad. We might save some additional dollars if we kept it down to two paragraphs.

The Chair: What I would prefer is to ask Ellen Schoenberger for cooperation with our committee to see if the ad can be reduced by a paragraph. The ad's got to be as professional as possible.

Ms Haeck: That's true, but it's also a matter of how much space it takes. Some of this is extraneous and could realize a saving.

Ms Murdock: I'm not even looking at it in terms of cost; I'm just looking at its visual appearance. Instead of becoming a basic advertisement listing or itemizing the position in point form or briefly, it ends up becoming almost an essay. It appears to be the style in other advertising of the Ontario government, but I'm wondering why. I don't think this is necessary. Maybe we could lead the way in being a little different.

Mr Tilson: You're doing that very well.

Ms Murdock: I'm not talking about that, and you know it. In fact, I'm pleased to say this is probably one of the most non-partisan groups that exists around this place.

The Chair: That's the trouble. The public accounts committee should be the firebrand of the Legislature. However, that not being the case -- can we just turn it over to Ellen Schoenberger and say that the committee feels the ad is too lengthy and a bit too cumbersome? I really don't think the committee should get into drafting the ads. I would recommend against it.

Mr Tilson: I don't have any problem with the ad, but I agree with you. We have people who are trained in telling us what is professional, and I would support that. If she has approved this or if she has something similar, that would be fine too. It's quite clear we're looking for someone who's independent, it sets forth their qualifications -- you have to say that; you have to say all of these things. Maybe there are different ways of doing it that we're not trained in. If she has some thoughts, I agree with your suggestion.

The Chair: So we'll just send it back to Ellen and say: "It's a bit too wordy and can we make it a little snappier or tighter," or what have you.

Okay, let's go in camera, as per our schedule. We're continuing "discussion of draft report on substance abuse," point 3, and then "survey on crown corporations," point 4.

The committee continued in camera at 1048.