Wednesday 13 January 1993

Review of audit on Office of the Registrar General

Art Daniels, assistant deputy minister, registration division, Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations

Ted Kelly, deputy registrar general, Office of the Registrar General

James R. McCarter, executive director, ministry and agency audits, Office of the Provincial Auditor

Erik Peters, Provincial Auditor


*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)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Farnan, Mike (Cambridge ND) for Mr Frankford

Fletcher, Derek (Guelph ND) for Mr Johnson

MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton ND) for Mr O'Connor

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC) for Mr Cousens

Clerk / Greffière: Manikel, Tannis

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

The committee met in closed session in room 151.



The Chair (Mr Remo Mancini): The standing committee on public accounts is called to order. The committee has set aside the rest of this morning and this afternoon to review the operations of the office of the registrar general within the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Some weeks ago, members of the committee had decided that this matter was of urgent public concern due to the number of inquiries being received in constituency offices of members because it had appeared and in fact was so difficult to get certain documentation from the office of the registrar general.

The Office of the Provincial Auditor has in fact done some work. The committee has reviewed the work of the Provincial Auditor and we've invited officials from the ministry and from the office of the registrar general to appear before the committee this morning. It's our hope that we can get some answers to the questions the members have received and find out at what stage the office is as far as clearing up whatever backlog may have existed is concerned.

I would ask our witnesses to introduce themselves and then we'll turn the committee over to the members for questions. We'll allow you to make an opening statement, of course, if you have something to tell the committee.

Mr Art Daniels: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. My name is Art Daniels. I'm the assistant deputy minister of the registration division of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Mr Ted Kelly: My name is Ted Kelly and I'm the deputy registrar general.

The Chair: Mr Cordiano, do you have a point of order?

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): No. I just wanted to know if you were taking names for --

The Chair: Yes, we're taking names.

Mr Daniels, do you or Mr Kelly have an opening statement?

Mr Daniels: We've received the report, we've reviewed it and I think the report puts before the committee in fair detail the backlog and the approach we took to reduce it, the efforts we've made to turn it around, the success we've had and continue to have. I have just one small opening statement about the move and some of the things we accomplished. I thank the auditor for putting them in, but I think it's worth all people understanding about the move and that things we accomplished in the move.

The Chair: You're talking about the move from Toronto to Thunder Bay.

Mr Daniels: We used it as an opportunity to create what we call a model organization or a model office, an office where the programs and writings of professionals across the business community we're talking about -- one of them was employment equity. When we first announced the move in 1987-88, our existing staff in Toronto indicated they would not be relocating in any large number. In fact, only six staff indicated any interest in going from Toronto to Thunder Bay. That meant we'd have to have an entirely new workplace and that would create an opportunity for employment in Thunder Bay.

We took that opportunity to work with the people in Thunder Bay, with the community to provide employment for those people who would not necessarily get a fair or good crack at government employment. We worked with the disabled community, first nations peoples, Franco-Ontarians and sole-support parents on welfare and gave them an opportunity to participate in the planning of the organization and to be part of the early recruitment.

I'm really pleased with the results as we stand back a year after we moved. Those staff are still there. As the report of the Provincial Auditor will indicate, they are more productive than the staff we had in Toronto. They've stabilized their lives, they have jobs and, for the people of Ontario, particularly the people of Thunder Bay, that is an annual saving to the taxpayer of $1 million in welfare costs of people who were taken from social assistance. They were provided life-skills training and then work skills. Remember, you're talking about people getting a job for the very first time and we're very proud of that.

The other thing we did in establishing a model office in Thunder Bay was we looked to an organization that would be democratic, an organization without hierarchy, where people are treated equally by pay and compensation. All the front-line staff, what we call customer-service staff or team representatives, are all classified in the same job. They rotate through the various functions. In the Toronto office there were 43 separate job descriptions and people were paid 23 different ways. In Thunder Bay there are three basic jobs. There's the deputy registrar general, the director of the branch, Ted Kelly, there's a layer of team leaders, team managers, and then everybody else. It's a very democratic organization and they work in teams. So that's something else that was quite innovative.

The third innovation was to begin to move to a paperless office, from a reliance on paper, on files that would take up 8,000 square feet of space. We converted these files from paper to digital image. Just to give you an idea of just how much paper that is, if you stacked a 10-foot pile of our books and papers it would go down University Avenue to the lake. That's just how much paper.

We then took that paper and again we used it as an opportunity, in converting from paper to digital, to provide employment for disadvantaged people. We worked with Goodwill Industries of Toronto. They provided us excellent staff. Over 86 people worked for eight months converting the paper to image. From our original estimate of $3 million, we brought it in for $1 million. Again, those people working for Goodwill were all off welfare and that saved the taxpayer another $700,000 in off-welfare costs.

So prior to the move and as part of the move, we wanted to make it a model. As the report indicates, we had some workload problems as people without experience -- and there's a wonderful graphic in the auditor's report that I think tells the whole story. You had an average work experience here in Toronto of 12 years per employee, so there were a lot of 20-year and 30-year employees. We arrived in Thunder Bay with just six staff; your experience average is almost at zero and the productivity declined along with that, as the auditor's report shows. But then, as they gained experience in this past year, their performance and productivity exceeded the performance and productivity prior to the move of the experienced staff.

I think that's the story, but in that trough of time we did develop backlogs and I think we saw patience on the part of many people. We asked for patience and I think that patience has paid off in what I think is a model organization with excellent, excellent staff.

You'll find, if you tour it, there are people, like Brian Sullivan, who are quadriplegics, there are people who are visually impaired, people who are hearing impaired, people in wheelchairs and first nations people all working together in a model workplace, working with technology that lets them use images, applications to the software that allow people without use of hands or arms to work with computers. It's all there for everybody to see, a living example of employment equity, of democratic organization and I think we have a lot to be proud of right now.

The Chair: Thank you for your opening comments. We'll start with the 10-minute rotation: Mr Cordiano, then Mr Callahan and then Mr Sorbara.


Mr Cordiano: I want to start off by saying that I would like to commend you for having achieved the goals that you have set for yourself with respect to making this a model of employment: the move to Thunder Bay and the office that now exists in Thunder Bay, a model office which can be utilized perhaps by other departments in the government. However, that's really not the issue before us.

I think the issue before us is, if that objective was the singular objective that was to be achieved, at what cost was that achieved and was it really the only priority? As far as members of the Legislature are concerned -- and I think these priorities are not mutually exclusive -- we could have actually achieved what you achieved without having had the disruptions and the dislocation of services and delays which caused, I think, some serious consequences for a number of people on the other side of the equation.

That's really the focus of this inquiry, because we all knew that relocation was going to take place. I think most people supported it, for a variety of reasons. The initiatives of the former government to have offices of the government spread out throughout the province, and therefore create job opportunities for others in regions of the province, was one of those objectives. But I think the consequence of dislocation and this disruption and the delays that occurred to service this, which were vital in a lot of instances -- and I'm about to talk about that in just a moment -- was not the intention.

Therefore, I would have to say that on that basis, we did not have a successful relocation and that the complement, actually, with respect to the workforce and the overall turnover was quite high. You had very few experienced staff who decided to move to Thunder Bay, and that certainly was a major problem. It might have been foreseen and therefore steps taken to have some experienced staff move at least temporarily for that transitional period so that these disruptions and this backlog that is now present would not have been created.

The concern I have is for those people who were waiting for adoptions. I had pointed out in the Legislature some time ago that there were 600 outstanding requests for verification of live births, some, I note here, looking back at Hansard, going back as far as February 1990. Some 89 adoptions were delayed due to major problems with documentation being received from the office of the registrar general. This is reported from children's aid societies across the province. They indicated that these were serious delays. Some delays cost from six months to two years, and therefore disrupted the whole adoption procedure that was about to unfold for them. That's quite serious, I think, in respect to those people who were waiting for adoptions to take place. So I think there were some serious consequences as a result of the transition, and I think not all that took place was satisfactory.

Mr Daniels: First of all, let me reply to the training plan, and then I'd like to address the area of the children's aid societies.

As you recommended and as you suggested, we did bring with us for that transition period 25 staff from Toronto who were not going to relocate with us to Thunder Bay who would be training the new staff. So it was planned not just to use the six people who relocated but to supplement them with 25 additional staff with experience. They did locate to Thunder Bay and provide that training.

But we're training such a large workforce and the backlogs accelerated at that period of time. When people began to inquire, everything accelerated. So the staff we had relocated to Thunder Bay, who were going to be basically the buddy training system, found themselves not just training but trying to help us maintain the workload and keep the backlog at bay. We didn't have the luxury of an even work flow. That meant the people who were going to do the training had to supplement the regular work, and that created the problem. But we had the exact concept you just mentioned, Mr Cordiano, that we would bring up the staff who had worked in Toronto for --

Mr Cordiano: Not enough of them, though.

Mr Daniels: Twenty-four of them for six months and we extended that time till September, and then we supplemented those with summer students. We supplemented the staff that summer with summer employment and with additional contract staff in Thunder Bay and we were able to push the backlog back by October 1991. Then expenditure reduction required us to pull back, and then it builds up again.

Mr Cordiano: I see.

Mr Daniels: Do you want me to answer that question on children's aid, too? I think that is a good one and I'd like to bring you up to date. We had a memo on December 7, 1992, from the children's aid societies basically indicating that the backlog had been addressed and thanking us for our efforts, because we went around the province to 10 locations last spring and summer and met with children's aid societies, with genealogical societies, with the Canadian Bar Association and said: "Hey, we've got some backlog. How can we work together?"

We had a very collaborative approach -- I think it was a fine approach -- to go out and talk to our user groups to find out if there was anything we could do streamline activity. Now there are no backlogs at all in the children's aid area. We've addressed that, and we attacked it as soon as we were approached by Louise Leck and the people from the children's aid.

By the way, they attended most of the meetings. When we were in Niagara, the people from the Niagara children's aid were there; when we were in London or Windsor, the children's aid society would attend. It's been quite a collaborative effort. I'd just like to bring you up to date on that one as well.

The Chair: We have three minutes for two other members. We'll have a second round. How's that?

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): I'd like to find out if you're able to comment on the scam that took place and was reported in the press, or is that still before the courts?

Mr Daniels: That is still before the courts.

The Chair: What scam was that?

Mr Callahan: That was where a couple of people working in the office of the registrar general are alleged to have secured the banknote paper that they issue birth certificates on and were using it to allow illegal immigrants to stay in Canada, to obtain health cards and driver's licences and almost everything else. Is that correct?

Mr Daniels: I'll let Ted comment on that, because it's a good question. I think the thing to comment on is how we've tightened up our security.

Mr Callahan: I'd like to know that.

Mr Daniels: I think that's more important, not that it's still before the courts but what we did to combat that.

Mr Kelly: To address that particular case, I can only say, as members are probably aware, that there was an incident uncovered where it was realized that there were employees within the office of the registrar general --

The Chair: This was in Thunder Bay?

Mr Kelly: No, this was in Toronto.

Mr Daniels: No, this was before they moved. It was just at the time they were moving.

Mr Kelly: This took place prior to the relocation to Thunder Bay, when it was necessary to employ large numbers of temporary staff. On investigation, certain members of this staff were found to have been misappropriating blank birth certificates. This was duly brought before the police agencies and an investigation was undertaken.

Mr Callahan: Excuse me. How accessible were those blank sheets to any employee in the ministry?

Mr Kelly: The documents themselves are accounted for totally in the same way as money. At that particular time, there was a process in place which was not adequate, obviously, to forestall this situation, but that has been corrected.


Mr Callahan: I would presume that somebody preparing a birth certificate or a marriage certificate or any of these other documents would bring the stuff up on the imaging machine and then would feed one of these pieces of paper into the machine to prepare the document. Is that accurate?

Mr Kelly: It's not quite as simple as that. The birth certificate itself is printed through the utilization of the database system, which is quite separate from the imaging system, and so it is printed overnight automatically. It's not a direct print, though that can be done by certain individuals who are given that authority to be able to force a print.

Mr Callahan: But I guess what I'm asking is --

The Chair: We have time for only one short question by Mr Sorbara, but we'll come back.

Mr Gregory S. Sorbara (York Centre): I'll wait till the next round.

The Chair: Okay, we have one last question from Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: I guess what I'm asking is that all the people would have to, as a practical matter, have access to the type of bank paper that these various certificates are printed on in order that the process could proceed, and I presume that's still the same today. Otherwise, I have to assume that you've got only one person who can print these things up.

Mr Kelly: That's not quite correct. Perhaps the best way I could answer the question is that our procedures have been examined by various enforcement agencies and they have been assessed as being adequate, very similar to other jurisdictions, and are consistent with the recommendations that have been made to us by the RCMP, immigration authorities and the OPP.

Mr Callahan: All right. I'll come back to that in the next round.

The Chair: Mr Tilson, you have 10 minutes.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I'd like to spend some time on that subject as well. The lawsuit is something else, but I think we need to be satisfied that the procedures are much better than they were, almost airtight if not airtight. You've indicated that the procedures have been examined by police agencies, I assume, enforcement agencies. Can you elaborate on that subject?

Mr Kelly: I don't think it would be helpful to go into the detail of the various protection mechanisms that we have to preserve the security, other than to say --

Mr Tilson: There are all kinds of things, whether we're talking about health cards or birth certificates. The public is getting rather cynical, not necessarily with respect to this subject, but the latest issue of course was with respect to health cards. The public is cynical and I think we, both politicians and bureaucrats, have an obligation to satisfy the public that the systems the registrar general has are adequate to make sure that occurrence doesn't happen again. I think you have an obligation to tell us. I don't want to know the key or the secrets to the whole game, but you must be able to say something more than: "Trust me. We have agencies that have come and said that everything is okay."

Mr Kelly: I can say that we certainly share the concern, and we are concerned that we have adequate systems in place. With the occurrence that took place where the documents were misappropriated, the systems were thoroughly examined and looked at, not only by our internal staff but by police agencies.

Mr Tilson: What has been done to change what you did before?

Mr Kelly: It's a question of the access of individuals to blank documents.

Mr Tilson: How do you do that?

Mr Kelly: They're now controlled and audited regularly.

Mr Tilson: Who does that?

Mr Kelly: The managers who are responsible for the particular -- they are accounted for as individual items.

Mr Daniels: Each certificate.

Mr Kelly: Each certificate.

Mr Daniels: It's all numerical, numbered, and issued in smaller quantities.

Mr Tilson: What was done before?

Mr Kelly: I wasn't with the office at the time and I don't have a clear understanding. I can certainly investigate and get back to the committee with the detail of how it took place, but I do know that the same approach could not be successful today.

Mr Tilson: Well, it's like pulling teeth here. I don't mean to be doing that. I need more than what you're telling us. Are you telling us that before, there were blank certificates that were issued, and now they're numbered? What are you telling us?

Mr Kelly: To familiarize, to some extent, the members of the committee, you should know that birth certificate documents utilize a type of paper which is specified by police agencies as the most effective type of material to guard against --

Mr Callahan: Banknote.

Mr Kelly: Yes, similar. But the idea is to prevent any counterfeiting of birth certificates.

Mr Tilson: So you're saying one area that you've done is that you've improved it by having a specific type of paper.

Mr Callahan: No, they had that before.

Mr Kelly: We had that before. These things are pre-printed and they are blank with respect to the detail of individual information that is then subsequently put on when we issue them. We have stocks of blank forms. Those blank forms are kept in a secure situation and issued to individuals who are specifically authorized to handle them, and they are accounted for as individual items.

Mr Tilson: Like pencils.

Mr Kelly: No.

Mr Daniels: More like money.

Mr Kelly: More like money.

Mr Tilson: Anything else that they've done to improve the system?

Mr Kelly: The particular situation that allowed this misappropriation to occur was really a question of how these forms were accounted for and how they were handled. That particular system was modified to ensure that it couldn't happen again.

Mr Tilson: How was it modified?

Mr Kelly: By more rigorous and strict accounting of the blank forms.

Mr Tilson: What was that? I'm cross-examining you, but surely you can tell me more without revealing confidential --

Mr Kelly: I think that's really the extent of the answer, Mr Tilson, that the methods used to account for the form obviously proved to be inadequate.

Mr Callahan: Point of order, Mr Chair: It's obvious that Mr Tilson is not getting answers to his questions because we are in open session. I would move that this is an issue of so much importance that perhaps we should move in camera so that they can answer those questions in a straight and forthright way. I understand their reasons for not wanting to do it. They don't want to let the people who are viewing this out there learn how to perhaps get back into the scam that was reported in the Star on May 19, 1991, where certificates were being issued all over the place and people were able to sell them for large amounts of money and get health certificates and everything else for illegal aliens.

The Chair: Mr Kelly, if we were to go into closed session, how much more enlightening and thorough would your answers be?

Mr Kelly: I think that if we want to get to the very specific detail of how the misappropriation occurred and what specific detail has been undertaken to insure against its recurrence, I'd really have to do some research and bring in some people who were involved with the investigation at the time.


Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, if I could speak to the point of order, I understand that there's a certain amount of confidentiality. Mr Callahan has raised the issue, but it was certainly one of the issues that I intended to raise, because we must be satisfied that this won't happen again, or at least that the chances have been reduced substantially that it will happen again. I mean, I sometimes wonder. Nothing is foolproof, but we must satisfy the people we represent that with the system we have, it would be most unlikely that this will happen again.

I believe that type of information should come forth in public session. If we've caught the delegation by surprise, I don't mean to do that either. If you need some more time to prepare something, maybe that could be done at another time. But I believe this issue is raised in this committee and needs to be pursued. If the delegation wishes more time to prepare something, that's fine too.

The Chair: The point of order by Mr Callahan suggests that we might want to go into closed session. I wasn't quite clear on your response to Mr Callahan's suggestion about going into closed session, Mr Tilson. Would you prefer that or would you prefer an open session?

Mr Tilson: So far, I haven't heard anything that leads me to believe that it needs to be taken into closed session. If anything, it means that they need more time to prepare an adequate response. I understand that too.

The Chair: Thank you. Mr Duignan.

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): We believe there's no need to go into private session.

The Chair: It's the view of the committee that there's no need to go into private session or closed session, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: I'm just trying to help out Mr Tilson so we can get some answers.

The Chair: I appreciate your comments and I think it was worthwhile for the committee to discuss that point.

Mr Daniels: We're going to be back this afternoon. We'll bring the more detailed report without revealing -- I think Mr Kelly is correct. People are interested in how to commit fraud and how it is committed and we don't need to assist people in that, but I think we can share with the committee the types of procedures we have tightened up in terms of issuing certificates to individual workers. Remember, this was done by inside staff in the system, not by a member of the public. The Chair: It was an inside job.

Mr Daniels: It's a person who has breached trust. We called the police in and they put surveillance in there, and that person did breach the trust of the public. This is a public servant who takes an oath of office of secrecy, a person you have to trust. They were given some latitude in the area they worked in to issue certificates on a more timely basis than others. This is a special service for the members of this committee, actually, the MPP service.

The Chair: I think that's complete; that point is answered. The only very brief question I had -- and I apologize for interrupting Mr Tilson to ask it -- is about how many of these blank certificates were issued. How many of these illegal certificates were issued?

Mr Daniels: In terms of the number of certificates --

Mr Callahan: There were 300.

Mr Daniels: -- there were 300 certificates unaccounted for. How many of those were issued, we would not know. What the individual would be doing is printing them himself or herself, depending on the individual involved. I don't want to reveal who it was. The person has access to the information of birth and death and then can create a certificate.

Mr Callahan: And the paper.

Mr Daniels: And the paper. You need all three things.

The Chair: Mr Tilson has about five minutes of his time remaining, if he wishes to use it. If not, we're going to move right along.

Mr Callahan: Could I just ask, if you're going to bring in what you're doing now, can you also bring in what you did before? I think Mr Tilson would agree that we need both of those: What was the situation before? What's the situation now?

Mr Tilson: What sort of security check do you have with respect to employees who are issuing these certificates?

Mr Daniels: Again it's not, as it was where I worked in corrections for many years, a sort of fingerprint documentation, but we do check previous work history, background etc, as any diligent employer would in terms of the previous work history, the experience, references from previous employers etc. It would not be as rigorous as, say, a policing function would be, to take your fingerprints and run them through CPIC, but we would check.

In the case of the individual we're talking about, the police indicated that a CPIC check would not have revealed any previous criminal record or anything, so it would not have been the response. I think an ordinary, diligent check of an individual's past performance, employment record and work history would tell you quite a bit, and that's what we do.

Mr Tilson: I guess then I ask this question: Having experienced this fraud, do you feel the regulations need to be expanded to enable the ministry to require more information from employees who are handling documents that are confidential and that could result in costing the taxpayer of the province and of the country substantial amounts of money?

Mr Daniels: I think a rigorous review of a previous work history and personal history would be enough. As I said, the detail that we gather on the individual would fill out all the blanks of a person's work history and personal history. The added rigour of a fingerprint report wouldn't have helped us in this case anyway, and I don't think would in the future. If people have blank parts of their work history, I think that's when you begin to question them and dig deeper. If they were in prison at that time or something, then you would know. But I'm saying I think the present process is satisfactory.

Mr Tilson: For this particular type of job, which does have great security -- I'm thinking of people who work for banks, of people who work for --

Mr Daniels: It would be the same rigour as with people who work for banks. They're not fingerprinted, but their work histories are examined very carefully and their personal histories are examined through reference checks. I would think we put it through the same rigour as a bank or an insurance company would.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, how much more time?

The Chair: One final question.

Mr Tilson: I must confess that the information that you've given me, when we have a scam such as this that's been perpetrated upon us, the very fact that it seems likely it may happen again simply because of the type of individual who might be attracted to this -- I mean, what a wonderful way. The security system for finding out what their background is like may not be as adequate as perhaps it should be.

Mr Daniels: I think the key to it is you've got to go back to when it happened. It happened in the transitional period, when we were employing a contractual workforce. We are now again in a stable workforce with minimal turnover, people who are committed to their jobs. It's their livelihood; it's their life. They're not going to jeopardize their livelihood, their family's livelihood, their children's livelihood, by committing fraud. The money they would gain is pretty minimal. What you would have in this case, in this circumstance, is somebody who didn't have a commitment to the Ontario government, somebody brought in to work temporarily.

Mr Tilson: If you have 300 birth certificates or more, you can have a substantial gain.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We're going to move along.


The Chair: Order, please. We have Mrs Haeck followed by Mr Fletcher, for 10 minutes.

Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): As someone who has been somewhat concerned about birth certificates and how they have been prepared and sent out to my office, I have to say that I am somewhat heartened by some of the things that are mentioned in this document. My staff tell me that the service generally has improved a great deal. We have at this point very few instances where there are problems, though we did have one just before Christmas. I know that we made your office aware of that particular concern.

What I am interested in, in looking at this document, is that there is mention of the phone service on page 8. It mentions that you have received as many as 30,000 telephone calls per day, that you have not necessarily been able to answer those and that you are in fact making some efforts, I guess, to test the telephone system. My question at this point is, what are the results of those tests and how are you able to deal with customer inquiries?

Mr Kelly: First of all, I should explain to the members of the committee what we have in respect of a telephone answering service. We have 16 lines coming into the office and we have eight full-time inquiry operators. We are able to identify every time there is an attempted call into our system. The figure that you see here when it says "Telephone calls" is attempted calls and does not represent callers.


We have been able, through surveys of people who get through to us, to ascertain in a rough way the number of times on average that they have attempted to call the office, and we've found that it seems to be five or six. But what we're dealing with is to some extent the questionable benefits of technology where automatic diallers are built into a lot of systems and the number here reflects an overloading of the capacity we have.

We do have an automatic attendant through which the caller can obtain information. If they require to speak to someone beyond that general information, then they can punch through. The approach we've had to take here is to address the reasons for making the call in the first place, and that's what we're working on. We can't commit continued resources to responding to the inquiry.

These large numbers were reflective, we believe, of the backlog situation which did occur, where people were calling to ascertain the status of their request. These numbers have been very substantially reduced in recent months. We have also achieved some considerable gains in developing the abilities of our staff to effectively and efficiently handle the calls so that we've moved from what used to be a sort of average length of call of about eleven minutes down to an average of about three, which is pretty well an industry standard for this type of thing.

In summary, we are continuing to focus on this. We are looking at ways of reconfiguring the lines we have coming into Thunder Bay to make it more effective. It still represents a problem, people still have difficulty getting through to us, but we're making considerable progress in that regard.

Ms Haeck: I thank you for that because overall, as I said earlier, my office has experienced a great improvement in the service and I commend you for the efforts that you have made.

Mr Cordiano made mention of the fact that there was a backlog. In looking at page 5 of the very same report, close to the top, you're talking about the whole registration process. I think that most of us are not intimately aware of the various parties who have to participate in the registration of, say, a live birth and what in fact complicates the time factor or the delay in actually being able to get a birth certificate back to, say, a new mother to be able to apply for a health card. Possibly you could take a bit of time to explain the different people or facilities that are involved in the registration process.

Mr Kelly: I'll try to briefly cover a birth registration process. The process, as prescribed by the legislation, calls for the information to be rendered by the mother in the form of a statement of live birth. That is done from documentation which she receives at the hospital, together with whole piles of other information. Additionally, a doctor renders a document referred to as a medical certificate, colloquially termed the "doctor's card."

The doctor's card is forwarded by the hospital records office to a divisional registrar in the municipal clerk's office and the mother, at some point in time, forwards the statement of live birth. The division registrar is then required by the legislation to match up the two items to make his registration locally and then to pass on the documents to the office of the registrar general, where the registration process can then be completed. After that is done, then we can provide a certificate which is proof of registration.

The time taken here can vary considerably in terms of how quickly the hospital records office produces this, how quickly the divisional registrar, how long does it take for the mother to send in the statement of live birth, and in some cases they don't do it all; they are not compelled to do so. We would retain the initial representation if it came from the physician, the hospital, for a year, and if we have still not received a statement of live birth from the mother, then it would go into what is termed a delayed registration process, which is much more lengthy.

This of course causes us some concern because in recent years the demands on the office have changed in nature, where we have requests for birth certification of newborns within days of the event, for reasons of travel most frequently the case.

Mr Callahan: Health cards.

Mr Kelly: No, the health card is looked after separately.

The Chair: We don't have enough time to answer interjections. We've got to stick right with the questions.

Mr Derek Fletcher (Guelph): I'm fortunate enough that I was in Thunder Bay and I had a chance to visit the facility. It's a good facility and it's nice to see the employment equity plans right upfront, your employment programs.

As for the moving of facilities, could you have done it any differently, any better, been more prepared for what was happening as far as shifting people, then realizing only six of the original staff from Toronto were going? Could you have been more prepared? Could you have done anything different, in hindsight? Hindsight is 20-20. We all know that.

Mr Kelly: Yes. Like most things, hindsight is wonderfully clear. I don't think there's any doubt that, given the opportunity to do it again, the ministry would have done things differently. Certainly in retrospect it would have been preferable to have phased in the operation to some degree more than what it was. It was basically shut down in Toronto on a Friday and opened up in Thunder Bay on a Monday, and that was a difficult thing to achieve.

Mr Fletcher: Just one more point. As far as the operation of the present facility, as Ms Haeck has already said, it's getting better. What are the ministry's plans, plus your own plans, as far as making the operation more efficient and customer service improvements?

Mr Kelly: Currently, we are able to provide turnaround service for a request that comes to Thunder Bay within two weeks. We've had it as low as five days, and that's for a service where we have the information complete and the required fee. We do have a quite considerable number of situations which I'll term exceptions, which arise because there is an inadequate amount of information, so that can be somewhat protracted.

We're attempting to revise various processes in our workstream. We've also identified a number of areas in the legislation where the prescribed procedure is just not conducive to efficient and effective processing. Through a consultative process with stakeholders -- divisional registrars, physicians, lawyers, children's aid societies etc -- we've identified a number of areas where we feel that we can make changes which will considerably improve this process even beyond what it is now, and more specifically, remove or reduce the number of exception handlings which we have. We hope to develop this as a legislative package which will be brought forth later this year.

The Chair: Okay, thank you. We'll start a second round of questioning. Mr Cordiano and Mr Callahan.


Mr Callahan: Even alphabetically I'm ahead of him, Mr Chair.

Mr Cordiano: Go ahead. Just leave me some time, that's all I ask.

Mr Callahan: I thought I had asked.

The Chair: So did Mr Cordiano.

Mr Callahan: I'm making up this gracious --

The Chair: Order. I cannot have individual members make up the list for me; the Chair is making up the list. Mr Cordiano, you noted you wanted to speak; you're first on the list. Mr Callahan, you noted you wanted to speak; you're second on the list, and that's how the committee is going to run.

Mr Tilson: Another minute of their time gone.

The Chair: If we could please proceed.

Mr Cordiano: In the interest of saving time, I will proceed. Getting back to the point that was made about the allocation of resources during the transitional period -- and I note that there was a question just asked, would you have done things differently. But I think it's important to ask this question. If you had the opportunity to do things differently, you might have done things differently. But given whatever constraints might have been put before you, you probably could not have done things differently. To be more clear about this, what I'm trying to get at is, were you restricted in terms of the resources you had to work with in terms of the transition period in order to cope with this, or could you have added more people during that transitional period and in fact increased your costs with respect to that transition?

Mr Daniels: First of all, going back to the original plan, the original plan was obviously to transfer the staff the best way, but also at the most reasonable cost. That cost containment is always an issue. As Mr Kelly said, there could have been a pre-move and a transitional move, but that's very expensive. We went for what we colloquially call a "big bang": you close one place and you start in another. That way you're not having major overlapping, running two operations, one in Toronto and one in Thunder Bay.

It would be almost impossible for us to do that, because the technology wasn't in place to let us operate in Toronto and Thunder Bay simultaneously. We needed the imaging system so we could have a Toronto front counter and an office in Thunder Bay with all the records.

Mr Cordiano: Forgive me if I ask you this, but if you closed one office, I presume you had the other office ready to go operationally. The problem here was with staffing. You did not have enough staff to close that office in Toronto on Friday and start up on Monday in Thunder Bay with an acceptable level of service, because you simply did not have the staffing allotment that you needed to keep service going.

Mr Daniels: The staffing allotment that we predicted we needed was there. We had the core staff of 113. We had a supplemental staff of 24 contract employees.

Mr Cordiano: But you had all this training going on at the same time. You see, this is what I'm trying to get at. We simply could not have contemplated the level of service requirement which would predicate the need for additional staff, given that you were also training. So something suffers, and that suffering took place with respect to all of these services which were not being provided.

Mr Daniels: I think I was saying that earlier. We had our base staff and we supplemented with a training core, but that training core quickly became sucked into doing the regular day-to-day backlog work as the backlog grew.

Mr Cordiano: See, this is what I'm trying to get at. Sorry to interrupt you.

Mr Daniels: But we did add resources. From April to May we began to build this backlog. We then, in May 1991, brought in quite a large number of student labour. I think we brought in about 40 students in the summer of 1991. What we were trying to do there was just pick up all the unfiled paper and to begin to remove the backlog and get it organized so it could be attacked.

If any of you can just imagine 25,000 pieces of mail coming in and building up on you -- you know that Federal Express commercial where the guy just gets squashed by paper? We had to get that paper organized, and that's where we went with our student labour workforce through the summer, to do that.

In the summer of 1991 we supplemented our regular staff. We extended the training staff that had come from Toronto for a number of extra months and we added an agency in Thunder Bay that was good on data entry. We set up a special night shift because we were only operating at that point a single-shift operation. We doubled our staffing, so we were operating an 18-hour day.

Mr Cordiano: That's all fine and good.

The Chair: Leave some time for Mr Callahan.

Mr Cordiano: Okay. I just want to make one point.

Mr Daniels: It did put the backlog right back down again by October 1991.

Mr Cordiano: Fine, but during this time -- all I'm trying to deal with here are consequences -- the consequences were such that we had aggravated the service to the point where our constituents could not tolerate the delays that were being imposed on them.

All of us would have understood a certain amount of delay because of the transitional period that was required. I think most people in the public would accept that. But the delays became so intolerable that, therefore, we brought this question before us to be examined, because we really wanted to understand. Was it a case of having too much transitional period? Was it a case of not allocating enough resources? Was it a case of mismanagement? Was the government not allocating enough resources to do the job properly?

Mr Daniels: In that first summer we were able to allocate so many resources that I think at one point we had over 200 people working there. We would have attacked the backlog at that point, and we did. You can't have that kind of extra staffing for very long, so we removed it in October 1991, and again the backlog began to grow. But then we supplemented again. We started building a whole new scenario.

Mr Cordiano: You still have this huge backlog being created.

The Chair: Your time has expired. Mr Callahan, we'll get you on the next round.

Mr Callahan: We've completely run out of time for this round?

The Chair: For this round for the Liberal Party, yes, we have. Is there another way that the committee members can add more time to the clock after it expires? Can I be helped in this regard? If not, then I would expect cooperation from the committee members. Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: I'd like to talk about the quota system that has been implemented in Thunder Bay, and I'd like you to tell me a little bit more about it.

Mr Peters, I look at page 11 of the report and there's a reference with respect to employment equity, also known as the quota system, that has been implemented in the office of the registrar general in Thunder Bay. I assume that's what that is. It's described as "Figure 4, Employment Equity at March 31, 1992." It has aboriginal, 10.1%; physically challenged, 13.9%; francophone, 5.1%; racial minorities, 6.3%; and female, 81%. I don't know what all that means, because it adds up to 116.4%. What does that mean? What does that figure 4 mean? Are those the people who are hired or is that the staffing complement in Thunder Bay?

Mr James R. McCarter: It could be two things. It could be a female francophone. Do you understand what I mean? If they hired a female francophone, it would be in the 81% and also in the --

Mr Tilson: No, my question is, what is figure 4? This adds up to 116.4%. Could you just tell me what figure 4 means?

Mr McCarter: The objective of the chart was to try to give an indication for the five targeted groups of the achievements or what happened against the employment equity targets.

Mr Tilson: I understand that. Do I assume, then, that this represents the employment staffing at Thunder Bay? Is that what this chart means?

Mr McCarter: I think just on the recruitment side. It was basically for the people they hired: "Here's what was achieved."


Mr Tilson: So this is the staffing complement for people who were hired in Thunder Bay, is that what you're saying?

Mr Erik Peters: That is the recruitment. When they added staff, these were the so-called designated areas or recruitment areas where you'd like to hire from.

Mr Tilson: I understand that. Only six people came from Toronto and the rest were hired from Thunder Bay. Does this represent the staffing complement of who was hired in Thunder Bay? Is that what this chart means?

Mr Peters: That's right.

Mr Tilson: All right, then I understand that. Mr Daniels, do I assume that if you don't fit into this chart you don't get hired?

Mr Daniels: No, not at all. In fact, as the Provincial Auditor was saying, there's a number of people who could be in three or four categories -- in fact, there are -- and they will add up to more than 100%. We have a first nations person, an aboriginal person, who is in a wheelchair as well as being a female.

Mr Tilson: What about someone who's not in these categories?

Mr Daniels: There are people in those categories as well.

Mr Tilson: Where are they? What about a male?

Mr Pat Hayes (Essex-Kent): What about you, David?

Mr Tilson: Yes, what about me? Would I get a job up there?

Mr Daniels: Mr Kelly works there.

Mr Tilson: But he came from Toronto, I assume. I don't mean to be flippant about this. I'm quite serious, because I'm not in favour of the quota system.

Mr Daniels: It was not a quota system, first of all, Mr Tilson. It was definitely an initiative to work with the local community to provide employment equity.

Mr Tilson: Which is the quota system.

Mr Daniels: No, we didn't have a quota, we didn't have a set number. We worked with the community to identify people who could work for us who had the skills but who also came --

Mr Tilson: But the Provincial Auditor has just told us that this is what makes up your staffing complement in Thunder Bay.

Mr Daniels: The percentage of the target groups. In the provincial government's employment equity initiative, it has identified five target groups.

Mr Tilson: I'm well aware of what the government talks about with employment equity. My question was, this chart is the staffing complement in Thunder Bay.


The Chair: Order. I can't hear Mr Tilson. Order, please.

Mr Tilson: I can't even hear myself.

The Chair: Order, please. We deserve to allow Mr Tilson to ask his questions. Please proceed.

Mr Tilson: Unless I've misunderstood what Mr Peters said --

Mr Peters: I think you have. If I may correct that just for clarification, what we said in the line above is that the office has a favourable record in recruitment. The ultimate complement may have a different composition from what you see in table 4. It is the number of people who were added in Thunder Bay at this percentage distribution of --

Mr Tilson: But almost all the staff, with the exception of six, I believe, were new people from the Thunder Bay area. The whole purpose of the move was to employ people in Thunder Bay, a very admirable move; I think all three parties have supported that. My question is that this chart, it would appear, accurately describes who those employees are.

Mr Peters: It would omit, of course, the six to begin with. That's all I'm referring to.

Mr Tilson: It omits the six who came from Toronto. It would also omit anyone who isn't in these various categories.

Mr Peters: That's true.

Mr Tilson: In other words, you have a system in Thunder Bay which obviously requires individuals who must be able to handle very complicated computer equipment, who must be able to deal with the public. Presumably those qualifications must be met to hire.

Mr Daniels: They had to be qualified to be in the public service.

The Chair: One last question.

Mr Tilson: The difficulty I have is that in addition to that, you must be of one of these five groups.

Mr Daniels: No. You've got to go back to the point that of the number of staff who work in Thunder Bay who were recruited, 10% were aboriginal; 81% were female, and that means that 19% of the staff are male.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Was that a requirement?

Mr Daniels: No. That's the way the competition worked. That's the way people who applied for the jobs --

The Chair: Mr Tilson, I'd love for you to be able to continue your questioning. The five minutes for the second round has expired. I even gave you extra time for your point of clarification.

Mr Hayes: Can I have a point of clarification? If I can understand this correctly, when you talk about the aboriginals, the physically challenged, francophones, racial minorities and females up in that area, does this mean that these are people who really never had an opportunity for employment before? Is that correct?

The Chair: That's not a point of clarification; that's a question.


The Chair: The Chair has not been watching the clock because we're past 12 o'clock; that's why I've not been watching the clock. It's been brought to my attention that we are past 12 of the clock, which means we're going to have to adjourn.

Mr Callahan: A point of order before you adjourn, Mr Chairman: I understand that a motion was carried successfully yesterday to literally stop any further matters dealing with the building of the $200-million workers' compensation building. Notwithstanding that that was passed and not wishing to offend the rules by trying to reopen it, I do recall that --


The Chair: Mr Callahan has the floor on a point of order.

Mr Callahan: I think it's a very important issue. It's been swept away, as it were, by that motion, but there were undertakings made, in my recollection, by the people who attended before this committee. Even though the motion was passed and we can't reopen it and it has placed this issue beyond the realm of this committee, those undertakings, contracts and so on, are to be received. I would like to inquire if those contracts have been received, if all the information that we asked of those people has been received, and if not, why not? If it hasn't been, then the issue gives me even greater concern than the premature clamping down and putting a lid on that whole issue.

Mr Cordiano: Mr Chairman, on a point of order --

The Chair: Can I deal with Mr Callahan's point first? My understanding is that the vote yesterday undertaken by the committee was that basically the committee's work was concluded in this regard. If I had been a witness sitting before the committee and heard that motion pass, then I would not be providing any more information to the committee. Whether or not the auditor in his normal course of work is going to request information, I don't know.

Mr Callahan: I certainly have great problems with that, but if that is the case, that means all the information that was promised to us may very well have had an influence on how people voted on the motion of closing down the Workers' Compensation Board issue. This is a very important issue.

The Chair: The Chair has no control over that, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: I think there's sufficient lack of clarity as to why the motion was passed. It may well have been passed by people who misunderstood the fact that by closing it down we would not get --

The Chair: Order, please, Mr Callahan. I think you have a valid concern, but that is not a point of order; I'm ruling it out of order. That matter in itself cannot be raised again. We're not going to redebate a motion that was duly passed by the committee yesterday. Your point of order has been dealt with.

Mr Tilson: On that same point, Mr Chairman --

The Chair: No, I'm sorry. Mr Callahan's point of order has been dealt with.

Mr Tilson: He simply asked a question of the clerk as to whether that information has been received.

The Chair: I answered the question by telling him that no, the information has not been received, and I believe if any one of us had been sitting where the witnesses were sitting yesterday and had watched the proceedings of the committee, no matter how we feel or felt about the proceedings of the committee, you would not be providing this committee any information, because the committee passed a motion to conclude its work, whether we agreed with that motion or not. So I've dealt with Mr Callahan's motion. I've allowed further comment, even though I've ruled on it. That matter is now closed.

Mr Cordiano, you have a new point of order?

Mr Cordiano: Yes, I do, Mr Chairman. Referring back to the original motion with respect to our inquiry on the WCB, it called on the auditor to conduct an audit or an investigation, if you will, with regard to the issues surrounding that question. The auditor may choose to pursue a variety of these matters. I would like to know at this point from the auditor if he intends to do that on the original motion requesting him to look into the matter further, even though the committee's proceedings and public hearings came to an end.

The Chair: Okay, that's a fair question.

Mr Peters: I'm prepared to answer that. Immediately after the motion, we decided that we now need to seek direction from this committee as to where it stands on the original motion. My proposal was therefore to put this on --

Mrs Marland: On the original request?

Mr Peters: No, where the motion to conduct the value-for-money audit stands after the motion of yesterday. I was proposing that we would bring this forward in the subcommittee scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:30.

The second point, if I may, just to clarify another point, is that the officials from the WCB did approach us immediately and said, "Where do we stand with regard to providing this information?" I advised them at this point that we were uncertain as to the status of the original motion and, pending direction, would they please prepare all the information they had promised as far as it would affect the financial audit. I don't know whether you know this or not, but the Peat Marwick partner who carries out the financial audit was in the audience, and he was uncertain as well. So they agreed to provide all the information that is required for the financial audit, and they're pending a decision on the other motion to provide the other.

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: On the same point of order?

Mr Tilson: On the same point. I don't believe there is a motion that would be required to deal with this. There was a motion that was made in November by Mr Cordiano, which was passed, requesting the Provincial Auditor to complete an audit. That motion is quite clear. There was then a decision as to what topics this committee would review in its committee period during the break. It was decided that this would be one of the topics that would be discussed. Mr Farnan made a motion, which we on this side violently opposed, that we no longer discuss this very important topic, but that motion has nothing to do with the previous motion that was made in November. I don't think there's any further motion that needs to be made.

The Chair: I'm going to ask the clerk to obtain for us a copy of the original motion so we can look at it.

Mr Fletcher: And then the Hansard.

The Chair: Is there any further discussion on this motion from this side? Seeing none, it is now past 12 of the clock. The committee will reconvene at 2 pm in committee room 151.

The committee recessed at 1214.


The committee resumed at 1408.

The Chair: The standing committee on public accounts is called to order. Mr Callahan, you advised me of a point of order.

Mr Callahan: Yes, Mr Chair. When we broke here, the Chair had ruled on a point of order, and my good colleague from up there in the Orangeville-Caledon area had asked that we be given the proper resolution that Mr Cordiano had moved. I understand I have it; I don't know whether everybody else has it before them. Perhaps for the purposes of putting this matter forward, everybody should have a copy, and I'll wait till the clerk provides copies.

Just while she's doing that, just with some background for the benefit of those who might wish to try to understand what we're doing here, you'll recall that yesterday, I think it was, this committee was reviewing the issue of the proposed $200-million building to be built on Queen Street on lands owned by the CBC for the Workers' Compensation Board. We were investigating it as a result of statements that we had requested of the auditor and he had placed in his report. It's my understanding that although there was some desire to continue those investigations and those discussions, there was a motion brought by Mr Farnan of the government to have the proceedings finished, and that won the day.

I raised this morning -- and you ruled on that point of order; I don't wish to debate it again obviously -- that the undertakings that had been made by the ministry people in terms of providing us with documentary evidence in regard to this issue would be provided to us. The auditor commented that in light of the motion by Mr Farnan, which effectively cut off debate, he had been told by the ministry officials they were not certain what they should do with those documents. I think it now becomes important to look at Mr Cordiano's original motion, and you should each have a copy of it before you.

I would suggest that the motion clearly directed that the Provincial Auditor "review the Workers' Compensation Board's plans to build a $200-million office tower to serve as its new headquarters. As part of his consideration, the auditor should examine whether this is good value for money, in light of the fact that it would cost $380 per square foot for this new office space at a time when there are 27 million square feet of available office space at an average cost of $20 per square foot in Toronto."

That was passed by the committee. Although we have heard that the investigation by the auditor has made some changes to that, it would seem to me that in order to adequately carry that out and, for that matter, for this committee to adequately satisfy itself that all of the motion that Mr Cordiano had moved had been carried out, it would be necessary for the undertakings that were made by the ministry staff who were here be fulfilled, that these documents be placed in the hands of the auditor to be considered along with the audit that they've already given us and that they also be available to the committee in order to have us determine whether or not the matter has been appropriately dealt with.

I would say as well that the vote that took place -- and I don't wish to comment on it, obviously, since you've made a ruling on it -- I would think, in any fairminded consideration of it, the members would have been influenced in how they voted by the absence or presence of those documents. I would presume that we all thought the documents would be provided, despite Mr Farnan's motion, and I therefore suggest that the original motion by Mr Cordiano requires that those undertakings that were made during those hearings on the Workers' Compensation Board's proposed building be provided to this committee for our use.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chairman, I guess he's quite right. I won't repeat the comments that I made prior to the break, other than a summary of the fact that we're talking about two separate matters, and I think it's quite clear we're talking about two separate matters. I'm not trying to negate what Mr Callahan has said. I agree with everything he's said. But I repeat that Mr Cordiano's motion was made that the Provincial Auditor, and I won't read it, essentially do an audit.

The motion made by Mr Farnan was that the discussion, the time that's being spent on this committee with the particular group that was before us on the particular information we had received at this time, does not preclude the Provincial Auditor -- I don't think Mr Farnan ever intended that, because it would be a complete reversal of this committee and a complete reversal of his party's representation on this committee that the Provincial Auditor continue on with his audit.

If that audit requires that the same delegation come back with further explanation, I suppose we would accommodate that later on in the spring. But I really don't think there's a problem. It's quite clear that the intention of this committee is that the Provincial Auditor continue on with his inquiries.

The Chair: We have Mr Fletcher, Mr Farnan and Ms Haeck.

Mr Fletcher: Looking at the motion that's moved, I can agree with the first part, "That the Provincial Auditor review the Workers' Compensation Board's plan to build a $200-million office tower to serve as its new headquarters."

After that, the figures in there, the $380 per square foot, were, under testimony and in Hansard, brought into question. The motion is saying that it would cost -- not that it may cost, not that perhaps it will cost or somewhere down the road there's a possibility -- that it would cost.

I refer to Hansard from December when the Premier was asked this question, and I quote: "I'm advised that the information which the member shared with the House when he last asked this question, that the rental rate to be paid by the WCB -- I think $380 a foot was the figure he used. I'm advised by people who know about these things that the member's rental description is an absurdity and in fact bears no relationship at all to the facts."

So it was also brought into question in the House at the time, and I think at the time this motion was being raised that number was being --

Mrs Marland: Can you give the date of the Hansard that you just read from?

Mr Fletcher: December 2, sorry.

Mrs Marland: So that was after this motion was passed.

Mr Fletcher: Yes. I think at the time the motion was being raised -- I believe it was the member for Renfrew North, Mr Conway, who was questioning the Premier at the time and using that figure and that it was also being used. In fact, in the testimony given in the previous two days by the people sitting at the front here that figure was flatly denied, that it's not $380 per square foot.

In light of the fact that it is not a fixed cost, that it was just an airy-fairy figure picked out from someone else's calculations, I think the second part of the motion would be invalidated on the grounds that these figures do not bear any truth.

Mrs Marland: A point of order.

The Chair: A point of order, Mrs Marland.

Mr Duignan: On the same point?

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, my point of order is --

The Chair: She has a point of order, I'm assuming, based on what Mr Fletcher --

Mr Fletcher: I was speaking to the other point of order. I was already on the point of order. I was just speaking to it, about this motion.

The Chair: If I understand this right, we have an original point of order placed by Mr Callahan in regard to Mr Cordiano's motion. I have a list that we've been working on in regard to that point. We arrived at Mr Fletcher's comments and I'm assuming something you have said has caused Mrs Marland to raise a point of order. If that's the case, she will be allowed to speak on that. If that's not the case, we're going to continue on.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I would like to be clear whether when speaking to a point of order it is in fact in order to start to dissect the motion or the fact that the motion has already been passed. I think that's what's being discussed here.

The Chair: That is the crux of the situation. Mr Callahan has raised a point that I've not yet ruled in order or out of order and I'm listening. I want to have the advice of the committee and listen to all of the arguments before I make my decision. That's exactly what I was doing and I'll continue listening to the advice of the committee.

We have Mr Farnan, and then Mrs Haeck.

Mr Mike Farnan (Cambridge): Mr Chair, if I could address the point of order of Mr Callahan in this way, perhaps he has concerns; there's no doubt he has concerns. I believe part of the problem arose as a result of what Mr Fletcher was just talking about, that when you look at Mr Cordiano's original motion it trivializes the issue by giving a statistic that indeed has no bearing in reality when he talks about $380 per square foot.

In order to address the impasse, I recommend that we pass this matter to the subcommittee, which is meeting tomorrow. Each caucus will have an opportunity to reflect on where we're at and to make accommodations, if that's possible, and to see if there is a way we can accommodate the concerns that have been addressed by some of the members of the committee. But I think we could go on at this for a long time this afternoon --

The Chair: I won't allow it to go on for a long time. I'm watching the clock.

Mr Farnan: -- and I'm sure we won't come to a resolution today. I think there is a need for some caucusing around the issue and I would recommend that it go to the subcommittee tomorrow and then back to the committee.


Ms Haeck: I too, like Mr Farnan, am somewhat concerned that we are moving off topic. We have a limited amount of time to deal with a range of issues. We have two gentlemen here, again at the behest of this committee, much like the members from the WCB were here Monday and Tuesday, to deal with some questions that are timely and are of concern to our offices. I think it really behooves us at this point to make good use of their time and our time to really get back on topic and allow the subcommittee to deal with this outside of the framework of this important topic.

Mr Callahan: Can I save some time, Mr Chairman?

The Chair: No, the Chair is going to make a ruling. I've allocated as much time as I can to Mr Callahan's point of order. Mr Callahan, in my view, does not have a point of order. Mr Callahan's point is that we should somehow review and either reinforce or in some other way take away from the authority of the motion that had been passed by this committee, as moved by Mr Cordiano. I do not believe that is order.

What I see before me is a motion moved by Mr Cordiano, dated November 26, 1992, fully and duly endorsed by this committee after debate. In my view, this motion stands. This motion is a clear instruction on what the Provincial Auditor should do. Whether or not the figures alluded to in the motion are correct or incorrect is something the Provincial Auditor will determine after professionally and carefully looking at all the information at the disposal of his office. As far as I'm concerned, there's no more discussion needed on this motion. It was debated and carried by the committee.

Mr Callahan: Just a point of clarification: Does that mean, Mr Chair, you're saying that the undertakings of the ministry officials do not have to be carried out in terms of producing this --

The Chair: My ruling was very clear.

Mr Callahan: I'm not sure about that.

The Chair: My ruling was very clear. The people who appeared before this committee were told that the work of this committee, as far as they were concerned, was completed, over with and closed. What they do with that material, I have no control of. I cannot in any way try to obtain that material, try to direct that material or in any way try to influence what they're going to do. We have a motion of this committee which instructs me, as the Chair, to go on to new business, which we have done. That has nothing to do with the motion that was passed November 26 regarding the responsibilities and obligations and the direction given to the Provincial Auditor.

Mr Callahan: So the public will never see those documents.

The Chair: Mr Callahan, that is not for the Chair to decide and I'm not going to allow any more debate on the ruling I've made.

I appreciate the assistance of the committee on this very sensitive matter. We're going to carry on now with our work in regard to the review of the office of the registrar general.

Mr Daniels was kind enough to inform me earlier on that he had some information obtained from the office in regard to the questions that all members had in regard to security at the office and the concern we had in regard to birth certificates and other important documents being falsified. Could I count on you to review that information in five minutes, Mr Daniels?

Mr Daniels: I'm actually going to pass it to Mr Kelly. He has all the information.

The Chair: Can we do it in five minutes?

Mr Daniels: For sure.

The Chair: Is that fair?

Mr Kelly: Yes, certainly, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr Kelly: I understand that the question, as it was left, was that we were asked to outline the procedures that were in place when the 220 blank certificates were discovered to have been stolen. I can tell you that this occurred in the operation of what was termed "the manual desk." At that time it was the practice, if the circumstances warranted, to issue birth certificates manually by filling in the data using a typewriter. The blank certificates for this purpose were at that time issued to the supervisor of the area that operated the manual desk, and as each was used, it was to be recorded.

The practice in place now is, first of all, that there is no manual desk. The birth certificates, as issued, are only issued through the computer system, a database which governs that operation. Each team representative who is authorized to issue a certificate -- and this occurs just at the front counter operation -- is, as an individual, issued a block of certificates, and a record is made of the numbers that he or she has been issued. At the end of each day, those numbers that are utilized are recorded, and as the certificates are issued to individual members of the public, the number is recorded on the application form and is receipted by the individual who receives it. That is the current process.

The Chair: I'm going to allow five minutes' discussion from each caucus on this particular matter and then we're going to move along.

Mr Callahan: What you've told us seems to me to be kind of like Air Canada when it issues a ticket. They have ticket stock which is accounted for, and then they punch something into their computer and then the ticket comes out of the computer. Is that something similar to what we're talking about here? Is the paper actually in the printer?

Mr Kelly: I'm not familiar with Air Canada's procedure, but the blank certificates are serially numbered.

Mr Callahan: Okay, but are they kept in the printer? I mean, are they in a box where I could go grab 20 of them and manually hold them?

Mr Kelly: No. The inventory of blank certificates is kept in a vault and can be accessed only by the manager at the front counter or her deputy.

Mr Callahan: Okay, but I'm trying to get these things from the vault to wherever they're printed up. Obviously, one person doesn't do all the printing. There are other people who would do the printing.

Mr Kelly: The sequence, as I've just outlined, is that blocks of these certificates are issued at the beginning of the day to individual team representatives who are servicing the public.

Mr Callahan: Right.

Mr Kelly: Okay. The numbers that they have been issued are recorded in a book, initialled by the manager and the individual team representative as having received those blocks. As these certificates are completed and issued, they are not issued manually through a typewriter, which was the previous procedure. They are only issued through the computer system which operates the database that governs those applications.

Mr Callahan: Okay.

Mr Kelly: As they're issued, the number that is utilized is recorded on the file on the application system, and the individual who receives it acknowledges receipt.

Mr Callahan: And then at the end of the day, is there an accounting?

Mr Kelly: At the end of the day, that individual team representative reports the actual numbers that he or she has utilized and that's recorded.

Mr Callahan: Is the same paper used for a birth certificate as would be used for other types of certificates that are handled by your office under the Vital Statistics Act?

Mr Kelly: It's the same type of paper, but they can be differentiated by colour.


Mr Callahan: But are they numbered, as well, and is the same sequence for them?

Mr Kelly: Yes.

Mr Callahan: All right. Then somebody's responsibility is to lock them away in the vault at the end of the day?

Mr Kelly: Yes. There is an inventory and then there is a "ready use" allocation that's issued to the individual members. The inventory is kept separate. There are only blocks issued to individuals.

Mr Callahan: But at the end of the day, what's not used is put back in the vault, I presume.

Mr Kelly: They are locked up, yes. They have individual lockups.

Mr Callahan: They're not put back in the major vault. They're put back in the individual lockups of the people who are responsible for those papers.

Mr Kelly: That's correct.

Mr Callahan: So that really without warning, to sound melodramatic, there still is the opportunity for an employee to simply take them home and say goodbye to the job and go out and sell these, isn't there?

Mr Kelly: Yes, I suppose that's the case. As in many other things, there is an opportunity for an individual to breach his or her trust. The important thing here is that you can't escape unnoticed.

Mr Callahan: Right. But if someone did that, how would you determine which ones were bogus and which weren't? Do you have any internal mechanism to be able to catch those bogus birth certificates or whatever that might get out on the street under the hypothetical scenario I've put to you?

Mr Kelly: I'm not sure. If I understand you correctly, we would --

Mr Callahan: I've got to do this very quickly because I'm running out of time. What I'm saying is, if you had an employee or employees -- I understand you have a lot of them on a contract basis, and I don't want to point a finger at any of them, but I'm looking at the system. Let's say they were given their block of paper and they didn't use it up during the day and at the end of the day they put it in their own locker. They decide: "Well, at $2,000 or $5,000 a pop, I've had enough of this job. Goodbye." They go home and create a mechanism to do phoney birth certificates or phoney whatever. How do you pick those up? Is there anything in your office that would pick those up?

Mr Kelly: We have a means of reconciling, yes. We have a means of reconciling all certificates that have been issued against the individual who would have issued them.

The Chair: Thank you. Mrs Marland, five minutes.

Mrs Marland: Could I have my five minutes added to the time that I need to ask my other questions but not on this matter?

The Chair: No; I'm sorry.

Mrs Marland: No credits?

The Chair: No credits.

Mrs Marland: Okay. But I'm first on the list on other matters, right?

The Chair: Absolutely. Yes, you are.

Mrs Marland: Thank you.

The Chair: Mr Tilson can use some of those five minutes if he wishes.

Mr Tilson: No; pass.

The Chair: Thank you. Mr Fletcher.

Mr Fletcher: Just on the fraud on the 300 cards, how long was this going on before the person or persons were caught?

Mr Daniels: It wasn't a long period of time at all, Mr Fletcher. Our staff recognized the shortage and contacted the local authorities, first the OPP and then the RCMP. They alerted the passport offices. It was a multidisciplinary police action. We were prepared to release that employee right away, but the police wanted to put surveillance on to make sure they could build the case a lot stronger. We kept a careful eye on this employee, as did the police forces. There was cooperation there.

But once found, I think the key is what Ted said earlier. There is no longer any manual way of issuing a birth certificate. This was a very special service for emergencies, and right now if somebody tried to type one, it wouldn't look like a birth certificate you and I get. It wouldn't be machine printed. It would obviously look like a fraudulent certificate.

Mr Fletcher: Was this the first case of fraud in the --


Mr Fletcher: If you don't ask, you don't find out.


The Chair: Mr Callahan, you've used your five minutes. Mr Fletcher.

Mr Daniels: As I said earlier and as Ted said, it was a breach of trust during that transitional period. We hadn't had that type of fraud and we haven't had since. I think it's all a matter -- and I think it is a good point -- that people who are committed public servants have a career and are not going to commit this kind of fraud, but in a transitional period, if a person's job is wrapping up --

Mr Fletcher: This leads into my previous question of this morning: In hindsight, being 20-20, you'd do things a lot differently as far as security is concerned. So it was a learning experience also and you're a little bit the wiser for it.

Mr Daniels: Very much so. As Ted indicated, we brought in our internal auditors and our external auditors.


The Chair: I can't hear Mr Daniels.

Mr Fletcher: I'm also having trouble with that.

The Chair: Order, please.

Mr Daniels: We not only had the police assist us on this but we have an internal security person in our ministry who came over and helped us initially on security around documentation and storage etc, and we had our internal auditor come in and look again at what we had implemented and if it was working. I think we're quite satisfied now, but as soon as things like that happen we get on it right away.

Mr Fletcher: Just one quick point: Because of this incident, would you say security at the registrar general in general has become a lot better, with more scrutiny?

Mr Daniels: A lot more scrutiny; a lot more reconciliation daily. As Ted mentioned, each individual has a block and they really are responsible for their own individual blank birth certificates -- a lot more accountability.

The Chair: We're going to carry on now, because I know members have other concerns and other questions in the remaining time. We're going to start a 15-minute rotation. We're going to start with Mrs Marland, then we're going to the government and then the official opposition.

Mrs Marland: I want to get back to this subject of delays. I've heard the presentation this morning about the productivity level that's been identified by the auditor and I've heard some of your answers. Nevertheless, there are real hardships being experienced by people around this province, no less a large number of my own constituents, by the fact that it takes a totally unacceptable length of time to get different types of certificates from the registrar general's office.

I want to tell you, I think probably the worst examples I'm faced with, certainly on almost a daily basis in my office and if not, definitely a weekly basis, are the examples of families waiting for the death certificate. I'm obviously not going to give you any names, but one family last fall who did not have a lot of worldly goods and chattels had the experience of the premature death of a father at a very young age. That mother -- I think it took, in the end, almost five months to get the death certificate. In all of that time, she couldn't even access the bank account. I just think there's got to be a solution to these kinds of delays.

I actually asked my staff person in my constituency office to type me up some examples of what she has been experiencing and I've written to you. I have a letter here from Ms Churley of last May, where we were talking about the difficulty in getting your stolen driver's licence replaced because you can't get your birth certificate. The reply there was, of course, that there is an alternative with other valid identification to get an interim birth certificate.

The point is that if you can't have access to any money at all while you're waiting for a death certificate at a time when a family is just trying to cope -- it's the most traumatic situation a family can be in, when an immediate family member has died. I really can't believe there isn't a solution to the kinds of delays we're talking about.

One of the examples that Wendy gave me -- and she actually has put in brackets "my personal favourite" here -- was a change of name. She said: "Staff seem surprised that you don't know these applications take at least one year to process, and in the case of one of our constituents it took two years.

"The applicant began this process to have her son's birth certificate amended in 1990, her cheque was cashed in December of 1991 and finally she received the certificate in December of 1992. Twice her documents were lost and she had to replace them and was then told she must fill in more forms. Even forms I faxed were misplaced."


This particular person called into my constituency office in November "of 1992 to ask for assistance as she was now getting nowhere with the registrar general's office. It took several calls to that office before the call was returned" -- this is my office, now -- "and then several more before the file could be located. The first clerks I spoke to were pleasant and tried to help but then turned the matter over to the amendments section, where I was made to feel very silly for even asking for this application to be speeded up" -- after two years.

Finally we had to call the minister's office, and fortunately in the minister's office we did reach someone who was very helpful and pleasant who promised to look into the matter. We then received a call from a very unpleasant clerk in Thunder Bay, who apparently then went on holidays and the matter was delayed again. I mean, because somebody is on holiday, surely a file isn't sitting on that person's desk. "Another call to the minister's assistant finally got someone to move and the amended certificate was finally received at the end of December 1992. It is very hard to explain this delay and this apparent lack of concern to our constituents, especially since this office should be well established by now."

That is just one example. Some of the suggestions my staff have made are that there should be more than one line so applicants can at least reach the office to make inquiries. "Very few people have the time to sit and redial their phones for an hour or more," which is the experience they're having. "If necessary, increase staff to clear backlog. It is ridiculous to have to wait such a long time to get a birth certificate, especially since it is very difficult to go to another country without a proper certificate for a baby and so many people are travelling nowadays" -- and obviously the example of when wallets are stolen etc.

"If processing of death certificates cannot be speeded up, perhaps some thought should be given to accepting the certificate from the funeral home in order to expedite the processing of wills or insurance benefits." I know that's not under your jurisdiction, but the point is, why isn't it working?

I must tell you something. I came in this morning and saw on my desk this table 3, "Most Popular Given Names in 1990.

"The office has been receiving increasing requests for the more popular first names given to children. As a result, the office published a listing of first given names selected 100 times or more."

Is this a priority? How much staff time went into compiling this list of the most popular names? If I ever showed this list to the widows and widowers my office has been dealing with while they've waited in excess of five and six months for a death certificate, they would not be amused, and I am not.

Mr Daniels: I think, actually, starting with the last point first, the Provincial Auditor reports that we haven't been doing that. We're a year behind on that kind of report. We didn't prioritize that type of material.

Mrs Marland: A year behind on the popular names report?

Mr Daniels: Yes.

Mrs Marland: But why are we doing it?

Mr Daniels: People want it and it's required by statute, as you'll see in the report. I think, getting back to --

Mrs Marland: It's required by statute to make a list of the most popular names?

Mr Daniels: It's required by statute that we do an annual report on the office of the registrar general.

Mrs Marland: Which statute requires that we --

Mr Daniels: The Vital Statistics Act.

Mrs Marland: That we list the most popular names?

Mr Daniels: I'm not sure if it's that detailed, but it requires a report on the services and the various summaries of how many births, deaths, marriages, the whole demographic --

Mrs Marland: Okay, but I'm asking a specific question. I want to know if it's required that the people in the province pay for a compilation of a list of the most popular names.

Mr Sorbara: What happened to "Margaret"? It's not even on that list anywhere.

The Chair: Did you have an answer to the question?

Mr Tilson: Margaret's not even on the list.

Mr Callahan: Margaret's not on the list anywhere.

Mr Sorbara: I'm more concerned about the names. There are no Margarets, there are no Remos, there are no Erics.

Mrs Marland: Excuse me, what is the answer to that?

Mr Kelly: Mr Chairman, perhaps I could address the question. It's the Vital Statistics Act which requires us to provide an annual report. From previous interest and requests that were expressed, it was determined that it would be a reasonable thing to include this data in the annual report. The compilation of that material is done by the computer system annually, so it does not occupy an individual's time.

Mr Sorbara: It takes a minute and a half.

Mr Kelly: I should also maybe address your earlier question. I don't know about the specific case, but I'd be happy to deal with the specifics at another time. The fact right now, today, is that we issue death certificates within two weeks from the time of the receipt of the application.

Mrs Marland: So how does it take five months?

Mr Kelly: Well, there can be complicated cases, and I did talk earlier about the process for registration. We can't, of course, issue a death certificate if we've not received the information that allows us to register the death. There are difficulties in that, and we're working with various stakeholders to improve that situation. Until we get information such as the medical certificate from the attending physician and the information from the next of kin, we can't make a registration. That does cause us problems, and we recognize that it can be a difficult situation for some families.

Mrs Marland: What about two years for a change of name, a year after your department has cashed the cheque for that change of name requirement?

Mr Kelly: To answer that, in January 1992 we took the deliberate decision to apply the resources that we had to address the backlogs that had built up in dealing with the routine requests for certificates, and we reasoned that we would be better advised to apply the resources we had to that area. We advertised widely that it was going to take us 10 months to do a change of name because we had a backlog of some considerable number. However, we also said that if there was any emergency circumstance that required this to be done, we would do it immediately, and that's what we have done.

Mrs Marland: How does the public know that? You see, the problem is that 99% of the public doesn't know that if they call the MPP's office, we might be in a position to help them. That's part of the problem. It's all the people out there who don't know how to access government services. They go through the normal channels because that's all they know. They don't know that if they call our office, maybe we can call your office and get some special assistance and have something expedited. But even that has not worked, in my experience.

You know, the other thing that I find really interesting, it's great when government decides to relocate these government offices around the province to provide employment in other parts of the province. It's pretty hard to argue against that. But I can assure you that when these government offices are moved a great distance away from the greatest concentration of the populace in the province, the telephone call cost is added to the operation of government, because I now have long distance telephone bills to Thunder Bay. Sometimes they're very lengthy calls. My staff are sitting there waiting for the phone to be answered, and rather than redial later on and still have to wait, it takes up a lot of my staff time because they're on the end of the phone waiting for the phone to be answered. Then when it's answered, they get bumped around, and I'm talking about one of our government offices. A constituency office is a government office.

Mr Sorbara: No, it's not.

Mrs Marland: A constituency office is paid for by the people of this province, and every time there's a long distance call to another government agency that's been relocated -- in this case, Thunder Bay -- it costs the taxpayers money to have that service relocated elsewhere. So there is a factor of financial burden to that operation.

How do you feel about it? You can't be very happy about the fact that even if you had a 10-month backlog in change of names, they cashed the cheque a year ago.


Mr Kelly: I could perhaps best answer that by saying that the practice of cashing the cheque, of course, was to address the security of those funds to make sure we didn't have loose cheques hanging around. We realized a year ago that we had some significant problems to deal with and proceeded to deal with them in the best way that we could with the resources that were at our disposal.

Mrs Marland: That's the caveat.

Mr Kelly: In attempting to communicate this, we did communicate widely with all our stakeholders to try and disseminate this to the public at large. You will know that we ran a number of briefing sessions for MPPs, division registrars, members of the clergy, anyone who would come into contact with members of the public dealing with questions that the office of the registrar general was concerned with, for example, a change of name.

Also, when people did contact our office with the application, we communicated to them, by return mail, a little note saying, "We regret, with our current difficulties, that we're unable to complete the processing of your change of name request, which may take up to about 10 months, but in the meantime we're returning your documentation to you, which we have photocopied, and when we are ready to complete the processing, we'll contact you so you can return it and we'll issue your change of name certificate," and that's proved to be generally satisfactory.

We do recognize it's still a long period. We are now able to address the backlogs in the specialty areas, which we are doing, and we hope that in the near future we'll have that turnaround time for those specialty areas within satisfactory limits.

The Chair: Thank you. The 15 minutes for that series of questions is now concluded. Mr Fletcher, followed by Ms Haeck.

Mr Fletcher: I'll be brief. Just a couple of questions about the delays in the turnaround time and everything else. When the move took place to Thunder Bay and you were left with six regular employees and had to hire new people -- training was done beforehand, I realize that, but the move itself -- were you still sort of living out of boxes for a while? I know what it's like when you move houses. You look for that can opener and it's somewhere. Were some of those problems just inherent in the move itself?

Mr Kelly: Certainly, Mr Fletcher, a move does trigger a number of difficulties and it has taken a period of months to stabilize the operation as a result of the disruption of the move.

Mr Fletcher: Before the technologies were introduced, before the 1990s and the technology, the process for getting a certificate, the search and everything that had to go on for the documents, how long was that process before? I'm talking, I guess, prehistoric times now.

Mr Daniels: I'd like to answer that. Historically, I think this is something a lot of people don't realize, that with the on-line system that we put in place in October 1990, up until then -- and I think a lot of you will remember prior to 1990 -- if you wanted a birth certificate you would come down to Queen's Park, you would apply for the certificate and it would have to be produced manually. You'd be asked to return two or three days later to pick it up. That was going to take you probably 120 minutes of just waiting time, because you're waiting two days in a row or two days over a period of a three-day visit. So nothing was ever done onsite, on what they call on-line, until October 1990.

We now have an on-line capability. Some days that line is long, but at least you know that at the end of that lineup you're not going to be asked to come back later to pick up the certificate. The system will produce it. So we've very much reduced our time there.

In terms of mail service, as Ted said, on birth certificates etc, we're running five to 10 days right now, and that's the tops for our ministry in terms of mail service components.

Mr Fletcher: That's pretty good, using a crown corporation.

Mr Daniels: The area we're not back to where we'd like to be is the area of change of name, amendment and delayed. What Ted's doing is, starting on February 1 this year, we're going to be running a special night shift to reduce the backlog in those three specialty areas.

Mr Fletcher: How long do you think this night shift will have to work?

Mr Daniels: We're funded for it until the end of this fiscal year, until March. But that means a whole shift of people who are only working on change of name, delayed registration and amendments, the three areas that we --

Mr Fletcher: This will clear up the backlog?

Mr Daniels: We'll get ourselves back to actual reasonable services that we'd like to have.

Mr Fletcher: That's good to hear.

Mr Daniels: We did receive extra resources this year.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Cordiano): Ms Haeck is next.

Ms Haeck: Mr Daniels, you made a comment just a minute ago relating to change of name, and I know Mr Kelly mentioned it at some point as well. On page 16 of this report, there's sort of a lengthier description of that.

I think there are some interesting things said in that description, such as the fact that, "Any Ontario resident may apply for a formal change of name. Alternatively, one may apply for a change of surname election while they are married, living common-law or at termination of their marriage or conjugal relationship. Generally, there is no fee for an election, whereas a formal change costs $137," and it goes on.

Around this change of name, these are people who have recently married and there is a decision as to whether or not someone like myself would be keeping her maiden name or taking on the married name? This was something that was relatively new as well, if my memory serves me correctly.

Mr Daniels: That's right. In 1987 the government at the time passed a Change of Name Act. The Change of Name Act basically breaks changes of name into two distinct types of change. I think a good example would be new Canadians years ago -- it doesn't happen as much now -- may have wanted to anglicize their name for business purposes. They would have to go through the courts, through a formal court process, to change their name. That was a court requirement.

Ms Haeck: That's the $137 one?

Mr Daniels: That's the $137 one. The 1987 law replaced that very complicated and very expensive legal procedure with a shortened formal change of name procedure that made it an administrative rather than a legal process.

At the same time, they changed the concept of change of name on marriage, what we call an election. This was a service that would be provided free of charge. There was a lot of controversy around this section, because it required that the ministry change the birth registration.

Ms Haeck: Yes, which I must admit I found rather strange.

Mr Daniels: That piece of legislation is the other reason why we gave change of name a low priority. I think three or four times -- Mr Sorbara is here too -- we've been trying to change that legislation, because it's controversial. Both the Liberal and the NDP governments have put forward motions to change the Change of Name Act.

It's not a thing that prevents people from carrying on with their name. Women prior to 1987 got married and changed their name. They didn't do it formally. They were able to get drivers' licences, they were able to get bank cards. Since 1987 they still can change their name and get bank cards and drivers' licences, so we said that this is not an important thing to do, because women can change their name at marriage without our having to get involved formally with it.

I think we did the right thing. There are a lot more important things. As Mrs Marland said, it's more important to get the birth certificate for travel, for people going overseas with their newborns. It's more important for somebody to get a death certificate. We said change of name will be the lowest priority. I think, as you can see here, the report also indicates that the ministry will again be bringing forward amendments to the Change of Name Act.

Ms Haeck: There was a question raised earlier. We had a bit of a briefing from the auditor about our presentation today, and one of the things raised was around divorce. You do maintain some files, I understand, from those discussions relating to divorce, but that's really a federal law, is it not? Why are you hanging on to these things when really it's a federal jurisdiction?

Mr Kelly: We are charged under the Vital Statistics Act with maintaining a register of divorces. We receive copies of each divorce that is sanctioned by the courts. We took a deliberate decision, in light of the difficulties we're having in coping with the normal work, to not complete the divorce registrations.

We receive the documents and we file them, we have them readily available for access, but it's been our intention to seek a modification of the legislation to remove this requirement, because it essentially is redundant. The federal government maintains a central registry of divorces with the Department of Justice, and that is the normal source of access for the public. In the last year we've only had one inquiry of our divorce registry.

To summarize, we have all the documentation but we haven't completed the registration. In other words, we haven't entered it into our imaging system and had it recorded on video disc, but we have the documents available to do so. We hope to remove the requirement by the change in the legislation.


Ms Haeck: The change in legislation would affect your backlog in what way?

Mr Kelly: The existing backlog as shown on page 16 is comprised of -- divorce registration amounts to 54% of it, so it would reduce it by more than half.

Ms Haeck: I thought someone else here might have a question.

The Vice-Chair: I have several people on the list. I have Mr Duignan and then Mr Hayes. There's approximately six minutes, so if you'd like to take three minutes each, unless there are other questions.

Mr Duignan: I just want to follow along on the same type of questioning as Ms Haeck. There's been some reference made to bringing forward a bill some time in the fall in relation to some changes to the Vital Statistics Act. Could you outline what type of changes you want to see in that act, or what you are proposing to change in that act?

Mr Daniels: I'd like to answer part of that and Ted can sort of fill in the parts I miss. One of the things that -- and it's flagged, I think very well, in the Provincial Auditor's report as well, some of the changes.

One we talked about this morning was the very, very complicated and archaic registration process that requires the doctor to certify the birth, the mother to complete a form, for it to go to the municipality, it's packaged at the municipality, then it makes its way up to Thunder Bay. The public doesn't understand that complicated process.

When somebody comes to our counter or comes to see you within three or four days after leaving the hospital and wants a birth certificate and we try to explain to them this long process in this modern automated era, they can't fathom why we are doing this or why there are so many forms to fill out.

What we're hoping to do and what we're recommending in the legislation is to take those multiples of forms and have one form completed at the hospital. Ultimately, in working with the Ontario Hospital Association and working with the Ministry of Health, it's our hope that when the mother or the parent fills the information out at the hospital and the hospital registers the information, we could have what's called electronic data interchange going straight from the hospital up to Thunder Bay and back again, so that it happens instantaneously.

You can see that, in terms of the number of forms somebody has to fill out, waiting for a doctor to complete and maybe going away from the hospital and not returning for a couple of weeks slows it down. This will all be done at that time. This is one very major change we're going to make and that is integrating forms, working with the Ministry of Health, working with the hospitals to provide for a speedier process.

Other forms will be changed; other processes will be streamlined. The Change of Name Act will be amended to eliminate, we think, the elections on surnames and to return more to the practices of the past, to focus on the formal change in name, the really important change in name that people require. That's what we direct ourselves to now, major changes to the Change of Name Act. Ted, what other ones might you want to flag?

Mr Kelly: Well, there are a series of small things which we're working to implement in consultation with the various parties that are part and parcel of the registration process in a way that'll make the whole thing more timely. Suffice it to say that the current procedure was not designed for a timely fashion.

Historically, the first occasion someone required a birth certificate was when they were 16, in order to take their driver's test. Now we're finding a requirement within days of the event of a birth. We have a requirement for death registration and death certificates in a much more immediate fashion. So the general thrust of our change will be to bring about a change in the procedure and the process which will make it more timely.

Mr Duignan: Very quickly, will changing this act also include getting rid of such things as compiling lists of the most common names?

Mr Callahan: Isn't your name on there either?

Mr Duignan: No, I don't think so.

Mr Daniels: I think, as Ted said, that is not an administrative problem. The computer is programmed to pop out these kinds of things. You can produce a good annual report once everything's on an automated system. It's not a labour-intensive report. It doesn't involve the time of our really important staff, the people who work the front counter, what we call the team representatives.

This kind of report is compiled by the computer, and the words written around it are compiled by a senior manager. It doesn't take away from the day-to-day operations. It's quite important, I think, in terms of vital events in Ontario that people know whether the birth rate is increasing or decreasing or what the death rate is, and we code the underlying causes of death; we do medical coding. So these are really important things. We work with the Canadian Cancer Society on death and causes of death. We work with other associations, with Sick Kids Hospital working on nutrition, infant mortality. These things are very important. That's why you need the statistics, not just the services that you and I see every day, like the birth certificate. There's a whole other part of our ministry and our branch that's helping demographics and the social fabric of Ontario that you've got to leave in place. We're doing a lot of things you don't hear about that are contributing to the betterment of Ontario.

The Vice-Chair: We have one minute remaining, and Mr Hayes has the floor for a brief question.

Mr Hayes: During the period of 1987 to 1991, the staff turnover indicates that it resulted in decreasing productivity, yet the auditor's report claims that staff productivity for 1992-93 could be the highest in five years. Can you elaborate a bit on that? Also, you might tell us how close you are to the target of reducing employee costs per output from $7.27 to $4.75, where we're at on that.

Mr Daniels: That's probably the most interesting part of this study. It tells you a little bit about relocation and it tells you a lot about training. What it tells you is that experience is a very important thing and that the best way to learn a job is on the job. We all know this, and this just shows you dramatically what happens.

We had a workforce with an average of 12 years' experience in 1987 when we announced the closure, some of them with 20, 30 years' service. They know stuff automatically; any question they're confronted with they can answer. The announcement is made, and we make a commitment because we want everybody to get a job: "Nobody's going to be laid off. Nobody's going to be surplus." So we worked with the staff starting right away in 1987, said "Nobody will be held back from finding another job."

In fact, I took all 150 staff on a tour of the other ministry programs. Because what happens is, all of a sudden somebody says, "Your job's gone," and you say, "Well gee, I only know registration of vital events." We took them to the land registry offices and said, "Hey, you can do land registry." We took them to the companies registration office and said, "You can do companies registration." All of a sudden they realized they had generic skills, so they began to take those jobs. In 1987, 1988, 1989, I lost most of my staff.

We began then to supplement it with contract employment, and you heard some of the downside of that. Then by the time we reached the move date in April 1991, we had no experienced staff other than the six staff going to Thunder Bay. They arrived in Thunder Bay and began their training process, and this chart shows you that. As they learned their jobs -- and this is a real testimonial to their skills; remember the point we made earlier, that a lot of them had never even worked -- they shot their production past the production of the 20-year employee in that year's period.

Ted and his staff have worked really hard to train staff. I brought the training plan with us. This is a document I have extra copies of for everybody if you have time to read the philosophy of the organization, how staff are trained, the knowledge they will gain. At each stage of their training they're given a test to see what they've learned. We call it training verification.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, we've run out of time on this section. I've allowed great latitude because we've gone over by about two minutes. I will turn to the Liberals now.

Mr Daniels: Okay, but that's the answer.


Mr Sorbara: I want to begin by making clear my biases. For quite a long time I have been pretty impressed with what the office of the registrar general has done over the past three or four years, including a move to Thunder Bay, the adoption of leading-edge technology and the implementation of new workplace organization; doing all that at one time and coming out at the other end -- yes, there have been periods of very serious problems -- with a pretty impressive organization, run with approaches to workplace organization that I think ought to be at least one of the models for other government agencies.

All that being said, I might ask the assistant deputy minister, because we have an audience of perhaps 2,000 or 3,000 people around the province, just to explain -- perhaps again; I don't know if you've done it before -- in very simple terms, with this office now using fancy technologies in Thunder Bay, how one goes about the simple process of getting one's birth certificate. What does one do? I'm a citizen in Kingston. My son is about to join minor league hockey and needs a birth certificate. What do I do?

Mr Daniels: In Kingston, the best thing would be by mail.

Mr Sorbara: By mail?

Mr Daniels: That's right, to apply for the certificate by mail and, as we said earlier, completing the information, finding out about the fee --

Mr Sorbara: Who do you send the letter to? Is there an application form that you have to pick up somewhere in Kingston? What do you do?

Mr Daniels: Yes, you could pick up an application form and actually complete it at the land registry office. The land registry office staff are trained to help you complete it, by the way; we have 14 offices that have that capability. They would then put it in a courier pouch: It goes to Thunder Bay quite instantaneously, and then by return within four or five days. It goes through our system. We will input the data, verify the birth and then issue the certificate. As Ted was saying earlier, this takes five to seven days now. We're not including the mail time in that. We're including the time it hits the front of our office and goes out into the mail from us. In Toronto it's even better.

Mr Sorbara: Before we get to Toronto, how much do I have to enclose with my application?

Mr Daniels: A birth certificate costs $11.

Mr Sorbara: You say that in Toronto it's even easier. People in Kingston won't be happy about that. Why is it easier in Toronto?

Mr Daniels: Or in Thunder Bay; we have same-day service. We have a counter in Thunder Bay that provides same-day service. As I was saying earlier to Mr Fletcher, the same-day service is an innovation. It used to take you two trips to Toronto over a three- or four-day period. You would apply for it. We'd have to produce manually. We'd say, "Come back in a couple days to pick it up." Now people who come to the Toronto counter will get it that day.

Mr Sorbara: What happens actually? You have to come downtown to Queen's Park.

Mr Daniels: To Queen's Park, to the Macdonald Block, second floor. It's important to come at certain times. If you come at lunch-hour, you're at the worst possible time.

Mr Callahan: The best time is 8 o'clock in the morning, isn't it, to beat the lines?

Mr Daniels: Usually being there early in the morning is the best bet.

Mr Sorbara: So to get it quickly in Toronto, you come downtown to the Macdonald Block, at 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning, you go up to a counter, you fill in an application, you pay your $11 and then what happens?

Mr Daniels: The clerk will sit down with you and verify that information and you'll leave with your certificate. The service time when you get to the front of the counter -- there is a lineup -- is three or four minutes.

Mr Sorbara: So you can turn a certificate out in three or four minutes, given this technology.

Mr Daniels: Absolutely.

Mrs Marland: Are you the former minister?

Mr Sorbara: I don't think that's relevant.

I have a couple of other questions around the technology. You've implemented leading-edge technologies in the registrar function of governments of the size of Ontario. Can you tell us what's coming up, what innovations we're going to be seeing in this registration function? Are there going to be computer linkages that allow, say, the passport office in Ottawa to directly verify in your computers that someone really was born in Canada? Are people going to get their birth certificates printed out in their own homes on their fax machines? What can the citizen look forward to over the next 10 years?

Mr Daniels: The next 10 years? Everything you talked about is even closer than that. By moving ourselves from a paper process, filing by paper, to filing by disc, on image, we can be live in Thunder Bay simultaneous to being live in Toronto, and ultimately, with link-ups, we can be live in 55 of our land registry locations.

What you need to produce a certified copy of your birth is the original birth registration, and that's what we've imaged. Under the Vital Statistics Act, that imaged document is the official certified document. You don't need to find the original piece of paper. That means that in Toronto, they're issuing certified birth registrations over the counter, with a hard copy that's actually in the Archives of Ontario, it's on a disc in Thunder Bay and it's being given to you over the counter in Toronto; so it's in three places.

What it means is that we can be remotely everywhere. Ted's working right now with the Ministry of Health. You can see the benefits of a link with the Ministry of Health, so that when somebody is completing an application for the health card, they're also completing their live birth and the doctor, and everything can be integrated to one-stop shopping. So there's that. Ted is working with the Canadian government to do those kind of link-ups as well. The link-ups you make with passport, so that things can be done instantly, are not tomorrow, but they're also not 10 years away. The fact that we have our system digitized and have automated records means we can do a lot of things with that material.

In California, for instance, you can get a birth certificate through a kiosk.

Mr Sorbara: Through a kiosk?

Mr Daniels: Yes. The Ministry of Transportation in Ontario is --

Mr Callahan: You get your picture taken too, I guess, at the same time.

Mr Daniels: Yes, and we'll be working with credit cards; you won't need the $11 certified cheque or cash. These things are just around the corner. All of it will improve customer service. I know we've had a hard year in 1991, but it's behind us. We've moved that technology. We are the only Canadian jurisdiction using digital images now. Others are looking at it and will be following us shortly.

Mr Sorbara: Are they coming to investigate? Are Alberta, Saskatchewan, coming to talk to you in Thunder Bay about how you're doing?

Mr Daniels: Absolutely. We've had lots and lots of visitors, from Argentina, Singapore, you name it, because it's the technology of the future. But somebody has to be first. It's the perfect place for an imaging technology. We were paper-intensive, weighted down. Any new buildings the government builds, if it builds them for paper it's going to cost you more money. Paper weighs more than people. You build massive floor-loading costs to file paper. The 10.8 million records, that were piled 10 feet high here in the Macdonald Block, are now stored in the size of a refrigerator.

Mr Sorbara: I'm going to defer to my brother Callahan.

Mr Callahan: Some of those questions are ones I wanted to ask about what's in the future. I notice that you use mail. What's wrong with fax? That's number one. I understand some of the comments of the auditor in the delays was the fact that the mail didn't get it there. We all know what happens sometimes with the mail. Why do you not have fax? Why have you not integrated with PPSA? You've got a thousand divisional offices around this province, and I presume some of them are the clerk's offices of the General Division courthouses, are they?

Mr Daniels: Most of them are the county clerks.

Mr Callahan: Why would you not have an immediate linkage and allow this type of information to be done like the PPSA, where you could do a search of names and get them to spew out a certificate? I gather that there's a certain degree of privacy involved in this, but certainly some of the documents you should be able to file, I would think, by fax or through various institutions.

Having said those things, I've got limited time because the Chairman is coming back and I'm about to get cut off. But there are things like when you moved to Thunder Bay, and I have to say this, because every member of this Legislature has had criticism and I think correctly so, and I think you people would acknowledge it, from our constituents in terms of trying to prove that you're alive, dead, married or divorced. Sometimes that can be a very significant factor; in fact, all the time it can be a significant factor.

Mr Daniels: Yes.


Mr Callahan: I have to really think about it because your ministry, through it or your division, through increased fees -- increased by the government, I should say -- raised $8.25 billion as I read it, and it's a 15.3% increase of revenues, whereas in some ministries the revenues are down. The Treasurer is trying to be spot on and he can't be spot on because there are these increases. Yet in your area, where there's a 15.3% increase over 1989, one would expect that the government would see this not only as a service to those frustrated people out there who have to write Star Probe and everybody else, but that it would be a priority item that you would be given the appropriate number of staff to deal with this entire issue. That's a rhetorical question. You don't have to answer that one.

Mr Daniels: No, actually I can answer it.

Mr Callahan: That's for publication for the public.

Mr Daniels: But actually we did get extra staff, I gather.

Mr Callahan: Well, not that much; not enough, obviously, to cover the task. I applaud you for what you're doing now.

Mr Sorbara: This ministry is a big profit centre for the government.

Mr Callahan: That's right. It's a glut, it's a cash cow and you guys and ladies are not getting the support you need. The net result is that the people in Ontario are having difficulty in terms of getting their birth, death and so on certificates.

Finally, if I could suggest this to you, we all know that part of the report is that when you moved from Toronto to Thunder Bay, only six people went.

Mr Daniels: Yes.

Mr Callahan: Why did you not, instead of having these people go out and get jobs at the land registry office -- it was commendable of you to do that and I hope you won't take this in a critical way. Why did you have them go out there and get those jobs instead of perhaps taking a contract job up in Thunder Bay to help these 100 new employees you had employed in a field that was totally foreign to them and which they had to be trained for? You could have used these contract employees to train them and you would have had a much smoother turnover in terms of reversing this, and perhaps we wouldn't be in this problem.

I simply say that so that if you ever decide to move someplace else, or if the government is listening and it's going to move some other ministry, it use some common sense in terms of using the people who have the knowhow. I can believe that if I were working in your area and somebody said to me, "We're moving to Thunder Bay," I'd say: "What? I live in Toronto" -- or Brampton; Brampton, of course, is much better than Toronto. I would say, "I'm not going to go."

We have to anticipate that it's probably a good idea to move ministries around for cheaper real estate and to create jobs around the province. But if we're going to do it, I think we should make certain that we keep a pool of those people on tap for contract work for a month, two months or three months to train the new individuals who are going to take those jobs.

Mr Daniels: I think the answer to that is --

The Chair: Thank you. I'm not sure where the rotation is. We've finished with Mr Callahan.

Mr Hayes: We started with the Conservatives.

The Chair: We started with them, so that last 15-minute round is completed?

Mr Callahan: No, we started with Mr Sorbara. Don't let them mislead you, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: That's fine. We're going to start a new rotation of 15 minutes.

Mr Tilson: Mr Daniels, I will start by saying that I've been before a number of committees which you've attended and you're an excellent civil servant. You're always very convincing that everything's fine in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I will say to you that on the particular subject of servicing, with respect to death certificates, birth certificates and marriage certificates, I appreciate some of the things that you're saying.

As critic for my party, I asked a number of my colleagues to tell me some of their experiences they have encountered in their constituency offices as to this subject. I appreciate that the minister has said things are going to be improving, and I'm sure they have, because you essentially started with a new staff; as Mr Sorbara indicated, a new move and computer system and a new staff. I appreciate that. But I will tell you that I don't think everything is as well as you're saying. Perhaps they are from your office, but they aren't from the constituency offices, at least the constituency offices I spoke to.

In my own experience in my office, if I'm to assist a constituent or my staff is to assist a constituent in getting any of these various certificates, I can't phone the Thunder Bay office. What I have to do is fax them a message and then they'll get back to me. I can phone, but I'll get a machine saying --

Mr Daniels: A voice mail.

Mr Tilson: I'll get a voice thing. They will get back to me, but I find that very strange. You've indicated that you're increasing telephone, but I find it very strange that I, as a representative for my riding, cannot personally phone the office of the registrar general in Thunder Bay, which is issuing these certificates, directly. I have to go through a fax machine.

A number of my colleagues have given me letters. I'm not going to repeat individuals' names, because I don't think that would be appropriate, but I'm going to list to you some of the complaints, and these are just typical. I understand that you have said you've responded to many -- perhaps my question is almost identical to Mrs Marland's, and you have indicated things are fine. I can only tell you that they're not as fine as you're saying.

This is just one example that I've taken at random from my colleagues. This particular constituency assistant says that the complaints they're receiving on a general basis include that when birth certificates have been mailed, they never seem to show up. When the constituents call back, they are told everything from, "The file has been lost," to, "It does not appear on the system," to, "You did not submit a fee," when they did, to, "I don't know who you talked to before, but the application has not been processed."

The second complaint this particular constituency assistant has made is that with respect to name changes, they say they are told the waiting period is 10 months. This isn't last year; this is current.

Mr Daniels: I agree.

Mr Tilson: With respect to name changes, they're told that the waiting period is 10 months, yet, "When we attempt to follow up after 10 months, we are told that the file will only then be pulled and the application will be processed in six to eight weeks following the 10 months."

I can only tell you that I don't know how common that occurrence is, but it is occurring, and I believe it is occurring, because this isn't an isolated situation. I find that process unacceptable.

Thirdly, in the case of delayed registrations for birth, one constituent had a birth certificate which she lost. When she applied to replace it, she was told her birth had never been registered and that it would take 10 months to do so. She completed the DRB forms, which were submitted in April 1992. This constituent was then asked to wait a year or more in order to register a birth which in fact was registered to begin with.

The office is therefore making the constituent pay in money and in time for its failure to keep accurate records. In other words, time and time again, people's cheques are cashed, but the forms are returned for whatever reason. For the second year in a row, the constituent must cancel travel plans or take the chance of customs officials refusing her entrance into Canada because of her failure to present an Ontario birth certificate. That's one of the common things: people going out of the country and requiring a birth certificate going to a travel agent and suddenly realizing they need a birth certificate, and being told it's going to take weeks or months to get a certificate. Not everyone knows that you can call up your provincial member or go through the process you have described.

There's another constituent who has been trying to have his son's name changed for three years. I understand there may be problems I haven't been made aware of, that this may not be routine, but there is a whole slew of examples. Each time he reaches the ORG, with the great difficulty he has after speaking to machines, which is the same problem I have -- you speak to machines, which frustrates him and frustrates my staff, so you can imagine what happens to the public, speaking to machines -- he's told a different story each time. When they finally get through, they're told a different story.

No one seems willing to take the responsibility for resolving the mess. Only this morning, and this memo is dated January 13, they received a call from a constituent who has been trying to obtain forms for name change in the Thunder Bay office. Again, she had extreme difficulty in reaching a human voice. When she does, she is refused a name and never speaks to the same person twice. She began asking for name change forms in October. She was told they'd been mailed. She waited. She asked again in December. She was told they'd been mailed. She waited. Finally, she called this member's office. There are forms at the office and they've given it to her.


This constituency assistant was told by the Thunder Bay office that it's now processing regular applications for birth certificates in about six weeks. The constituents tell this member that is not the case, because the member is brought applications and cancelled cheques and is asked to resolve the issue of no birth certificate forthcoming. So these people are angry.

Mr Daniels, as much as I admire your persuasiveness at committees that everything is fine, I can tell you that, over and over, everything is not fine. Notwithstanding the problems you have that have been foisted upon you by whichever government, whether those are good decisions or not good decisions, I'm suggesting that you're going to have to move a little faster, that you're going to have to devise a better system or better training. I know you've got green forms that say how wonderful those are, and you might even be able to convince me, but everything is not as well as you say.

I could go on and on. This goes on for further pages, essentially saying the same type of complaints. These are not fabrications, so would you comment on when we, as representatives of the constituents in our respective ridings, can tell our constituents that the situation will improve?

Mr Daniels: I think the information you have on areas like delayed birth registration or amendment and change of name, everything you've said there is absolutely true. We're running a year on a change of name, 10 months plus. As I said earlier, though, starting on February 1 we have extra staff, because we've taken some surplus people from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, people who now have a job opportunity, and we've established a night shift to deal with those three areas that we continue to be backlogged in, and those are delayed birth registration -- you mentioned an example there -- and change of name and amendment.

That's our commitment, to bring those numbers back down to reasonable service levels. Your letter of January 13 will be absolutely correct. Those are the kinds of periods of time that people are facing in those three service areas.

The point about six weeks to get a birth certificate I don't think is valid. We track the incoming mail and we track that same certificate going out, and we're looking at 5-, 7- and 10-day turnarounds. We're not looking at anything like six weeks any longer.

I'd like to turn it over to Ted to give you more detail, because you put forward a lot of relevant and important questions. But I'm not deluded into thinking everything's perfect, because we are still getting better. I think the Provincial Auditor's report is a fair report. It shows a dip and it shows a recovery, but we're still in the recovery period.

I think you're right. I used to get 40 calls a week personally, so I know, and it's dropped right off. I think you may have received lots of calls last summer, and they're dropping off. But still there are going to be people who are going to fall through the cracks, and we're going to have individual stories that we're going to have to deal with on an individual basis. There are going to be emergencies, and I think that's important for all of us around here to understand. When there is an emergency, we should get involved.

Mrs Marland: Do you want us to call you?

Mr Daniels: No, with our special services group.

Mrs Marland: You don't want us to call you?

Mr Daniels: You can call me -- I have a special services number -- but all I do is fax it to Ted.

Mr Tilson: He's got a machine too?

Mr Daniels: Yes. Ted, you might want to address this.

Mrs Marland: I thought you were going to give us your home number.

Mr Kelly: I can attempt to outline a number of particular circumstances, and I'd be pleased to address them on the individual case if you'd like, but I can only answer with the facts. Currently, today, we turn around all service requests inside two weeks. It fluctuates. It's been as low as five days, but it's not been above 10 days for a considerable number of months.

On the change of name, we are saying right up front currently it's 10 months, but if anybody reaches 10 months and it hasn't been done, I will personally ensure that it's done immediately. If anybody has an emergency circumstance, we'll do it immediately.

In terms of phone contact, I mentioned earlier that we have 16 lines coming into the office, nine of which are 1-800 numbers, and we have eight full-time operators. We would certainly like to be able to provide a human being for people to talk to if that's their wish, but the volume of calls is such that we simply can't do that.

We're hoping to address this situation by reducing the requirement for them to call us. If we can provide the service in a timely fashion, then that should negate the requirement and also will free up these resources we currently have dealing with callers from the general public, dealing with MPPs' offices, to be able to actually process work. That's the direction we're moving in.

Mr Tilson: Do I have time for one more?

The Chair: Two and a half minutes.

Mr Tilson: With respect to the change of name, this is a letter that was received in this same package from the same constituent. It was received the last day of December. Again, I won't give you the person's name unless the person consents to it, but attached to this letter was a notice on the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations letterhead, this change of name notice. It's undated, signed by you, or a copy of your signature, again simply saying:

"Enclosed is the documentary evidence relating to your application for name change. We have photocopied it and are returning your originals in order that you will not be inconvenienced. Unfortunately, this department is currently working with a significant backlog and do not expect to be able to process your case for approximately 10 months from the time you submitted your application. We appreciate your patience and are working as quickly as possible at decreasing the time delay. Thank you for your cooperation."

It's signed by you, Mr Kelly. This was attached to a letter which was received at the end of December. It's just a letter to the constituency office saying: "I have had it. I received this letter" -- the one I just read -- "a few months ago and the maddening thing about it is they didn't put no date on it. It's been over two years now and I still haven't received any birth certificate. It's paid for, $130 was the amount. I think I deserve to be served a lot better than what they're doing to me now." Then it goes on with a sentence I don't think would be appropriate to read.

Again, these people are very concerned, Mr Kelly. I know you've got a difficult situation and I will just simply say that the people in the trenches who are the constituency assistants working for members of this Legislature are very concerned about the service you and your staff are providing with respect to birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and changes of name.

Ms Haeck: Just to sort of go through a bit of past history, I used to work at the St Catharines Public Library. I was called a special collections librarian. I dealt with a number of genealogical requests, assisted people and gave out the forms for requesting a birth, marriage or death certificate of an ancestor. Obviously there were a lot of discussions about the turnaround, and one issue that was always somewhat thorny was having -- Mr Tilson's comment sort of sparked my concern with regard to having a cheque sent in and not receiving, necessarily, the information the person had desired.

I know of some cases where several cheques were cashed and no information necessarily received. I really sometimes have some difficulty in explaining this to someone, because as an educated consumer you do tend to wish to get some result for money spent. Could you give us a clarification of what the situation really is?


Mr Kelly: I guess the best way to answer that is it certainly has been the traditional practice within the office of the registrar general -- and the process that has been in place for many, many years -- to receive the application with the funds and to then process the cheque or the money order, whatever it is, immediately it's received. Normally, I guess, historically this was not a problem because the general turnaround was such that the service was provided fairly quickly.

With the onset of the delays occasioned through the backlogs we've been discussing here at length, that became a particular thorn, and understandably, in that it seemed the funds were processed and taken weeks and weeks in advance of the service having been provided. As a matter of practice now, which we have instituted recently, we screen all applications right at the outset.

Ms Haeck: That's not just genealogical ones.

Mr Kelly: No, that's any application for any service of any nature. If the information is not complete to the degree that we can actually process the request, then we return the funds that have been forwarded with a letter outlining what is deficient and send the funds back. This is a significant change and we hope it will alleviate this problem where people have forwarded an application with the funds and because the application does not contain sufficient information for us to service the request, the period of response becomes protracted and in the meantime we've already cashed the cheques.

Ms Haeck: How long have you had this particular procedure in place?

Mr Kelly: That's as of six weeks ago.

Ms Haeck: So it's really quite recent.

Mr Kelly: Yes.

Ms Haeck: Any sort of feedback at this point? I know it's fairly recent. Any feedback from folks?

Mr Kelly: I think it'll take some time for us to get substantive results here, but what we're trying to do is to reduce the number of exception handlings here. We can have, and have had in the past, as many as 50,000 and 60,000 requests for service in limbo, waiting for either additional information or in some cases for the correct fee to be rendered. Our approach now is that we won't put them into the system until we have sufficient information that we can actually complete the process.

Ms Haeck: I'm not sure you'll be able to answer this, but in any one year, how many genealogical extract requests do you actually get? I know it's a very popular hobby and it's probably quite time-consuming for you, but I know that from the community I address it's a hot item.

Mr Kelly: We have been receiving in the order of 30,000 requests for genealogical search and we've been attempting to process as quickly as we can, but the nature of a genealogical search is such that it routinely requires a manual process of searching. That's one of the areas where the time frame here has been more extensive than certainly we would like.

Ms Haeck: I understand you've had some folks going over to the archives as well.

Mr Kelly: Yes. We have transferred a lot of the records that were previously held by the office, records that go back to its very beginnings, to the provincial archivist. That constitutes a large proportion of the records that genealogists are interested in. The provincial archivist is processing, cataloguing and taking those into his system and will be able to respond to genealogical requests quite quickly, and currently at no cost.

Mrs Ellen MacKinnon (Lambton): I've heard a few times around this committee today about the delay in getting the registration for death. Things must have changed, because at the time of my husband's death the undertaker issued it to us and I was able to proceed. Then in 1992 there was another death in my family and again the undertaker issued a death certificate and we were able to proceed once more. Is there something I'm missing out on here? Because if so, I'd better find out. Not that it matters if I'm dead; I won't know what they're doing.

Mr Kelly: Normally, the funeral director's certificate is accepted as proof of death. In our experience, it's quite an unusual circumstance where organizations insist on receiving an actual death certificate. In order to issue a death certificate, we must have completed the death registration and received all the documentation, including the medical certificate by the physician, or the coroner if the nature of the death called for his involvement, so there can be quite a period of delay before you get all that and before you can actually complete the death registration.

From our research, there are some organizations, some insurance companies that have routinely been insisting upon a death certificate. We've been working with the insurance association of Canada to rectify that. But it's not a common occurrence for the death certificate to be demanded.

Mr Daniels: I think that was a very important question, because we did meet with this in that consultation we did across the province with various groups. The insurance association attended the Toronto meeting, and the representative there indicated support for the certificate of death issued by the funeral director as satisfactory to them as an association. I think that was important.

That was why this dialogue's really important, because some insurance companies or some legal firms may slow down the process inadvertently. I think Mrs Marland also said it, "Why isn't the funeral director's certificate enough?" It should be enough to process the pension, to process the estate. It is in 99% of the cases.

Also at that meeting was the Canadian Bar Association. It's really important, in this kind of consultation, to get all the players in the room. I think that was a real eye-opener for them to sit around the table, for the lawyers to hear, for the funeral directors to hear, for the insurance companies to hear, because we're sort of receiving all this stuff. I think it was a good exercise, to bring them all around the table to see what each one is doing to the other by asking for a form that maybe we can't produce quickly when they could accept something from the funeral directors.

The funeral directors attended every one of those 10 sessions and there's quite a good rapport we have with that community. The response we got from the insurance association was again very positive. This is why this consultation was really good. Sometimes out of crisis comes a lot of virtue, and I think that's the best part of this. We went out and we met with our constituents and all our stakeholders.

That's something we do all the time in real property, that's something we do all the time in personal property, but for us to finally get out and talk to our vital statistics stakeholders, bring them into a room and talk to them was a tremendous move. We're going to continue that. We need a user group to tell us when we're messing up, as we just heard. I think that's really good.


Mrs MacKinnon: The other issue that is brought to my attention on many occasions is that the newer birth certificates are paper, and they have printed on them, "Do not enclose in plastic," or something. Why? Do you know what happens to them when you put them in your wallet without something to protect them? I've had to renew my son's twice in the last one year.

Mr Kelly: We understand that concern. It's something that we have expressed frequently. The reason why you get that warning -- and, as you know, previously certificates were issued in laminated form -- is the concerns about security and insuring against false or fraudulent representation of identity.

Because of that concern, Ontario, in concert with other jurisdictions across Canada, agreed and adopted, through the Vital Statistics Council, the recommendation of the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police that we utilize material for our documentation that was better able to guard against counterfeiting, to maintain the security of it. The nature of that material is such that a lot of the security features are negated if they're laminated in plastic. As a result of that, we've had to issue only in what appears to some people as a flimsy document.

Mrs MacKinnon: Forgive me, but I would have thought that plastic would have been a great security measure. Mine has been in plastic.

Mr Kelly: Durability, yes, but it negates the security features that are inherent in the material that's used for the printing of the certificates.

Mrs MacKinnon: It gets negated anyway. Have you ever watched a young man put them in and out of his wallet? The security gets very well negated after you've pulled them out a few times.

Mr Kelly: The aspect is to guard against counterfeiting.

Interjection: And you wash them.

Mrs MacKinnon: Yes, if gets left in his jeans, heaven help us.

Mr Daniels: It's the paper itself. It's paper like is used in making money. It's Canada note paper. It's the paper that has to be maintained. It's not the usage of it or the frequency or encasing it; it's the security of the Canada note paper. As Ted said, we made an accord with all other -- this is happening in Manitoba, British Columbia and the Yukon. All the vital statistics organizations of Canada adapted the same paper and the same security provisions.

Mr Kelly: We've had to sacrifice the durability feature for the protective measure against counterfeiting.

Ms Haeck: Does this raise the issue of the fact that, for the most part, most Ontarians, and I'd say probably most Canadians, don't look at these documents as something that they really, truly should take a whole lot better care of? I've watched a lot of people photocopy theirs after theirs have gone through the washer several times. The number of people who come into the office having lost them has always amazed me in light of the fact that this is obviously something that is highly important and really should be kept very secure and in fact obviously is not.

In light of what you're talking about with the health card and possibly linking it up with passports and whatever, I think we have a bit of education to do and convincing of the public around the fact that these are important documents that really should receive special care.

Mr Kelly: You're quite right, and we've certainly witnessed over the last number of years the increasing importance of registration information, particularly the birth certificate, in the normal course of public activities. In a number of jurisdictions, the concern is such that they don't even issue a wallet-size type of certificate. They do not wish to encourage anybody to carry the certificates with them, and they're really designed to be kept in safe-keeping.

The Chair: I think that pretty well more than uses up the allotted time. Are there any final questions members might have? Mr Cordiano.

Mr Cordiano: Very briefly, I just wanted to ask about the accounts, and I don't know if have you some documents --

Mr Daniels: We're looking at the same report.

Mr Cordiano: Okay. In appendix A, if you look at comparisons year over year, I'm just curious -- and I'm sure this must be related to the transitional period -- under the heading "Services" in the period 1990-91 there was quite a large increase over the previous year, $3.5 million. Give us a little breakdown of that. I'm sure it's related to the technical move.

Mr Daniels: It's actually related to the imaging technology system. As you can see, it comes back down again after that year.

Mr Cordiano: Yes.

Mr Daniels: What is in there is the fee for the development of that software. Also in that would be the conversion costs with the Goodwill Industries, a transfer of funding to them. The equipment costs would be under supplies and equipment, that would be the hardware, but the big cost of the technology is the conversion cost and the software development. We were the first vital statistics area to do it, so in a sense we're developing brand-new software, and that's the cost there.

Mr Cordiano: Last question, Mr Chairman. In the estimates 1992-93, salaries and wages, you're estimating also a reduction over 1991-92. We were at $5.4 million for salaries and wages in 1991-92 and in 1992-93 you're looking at $4.4 million in estimates.

Mr Daniels: That represents the savings that are associated with the technology. As Ted indicated earlier, we're going to be operating now with 137 staff. We have operated in the past with 150 to 157. Because of technology improvement, we are surrendering a certain amount of our salary and wages. That's what that represents.

Mr Cordiano: Okay, good. That's what I wanted to know.

Mr Daniels: We're saving money with technology.

The Chair: Any other final questions? Seeing none, I wish to thank Mr Daniels, the assistant deputy minister, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and Mr Ted Kelly, deputy registrar general, for appearing before the committee today and answering our questions. The committee will be going into closed session -- oh, I'm sorry. I forgot. The auditor had mentioned to me that he has one or two short questions, if you don't mind, before you leave. I'm sorry about that.

Mr Peters: Actually, it's more a comment than a question. I just want to remind the members that our report also includes the statement that we have begun our audit of the imaging system in use at the registrar general and that the audit focuses on the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and the security of the system. So we're still looking also at the security aspect of that and I'd thought I'd mention that to you.

We are at the moment planning to issue the report in the first quarter of 1993, so probably at that point the members will have the opportunity to meet with you again, and if there are any questions or any developments that may take place in the intervening period, they might be brought up.

The Chair: Thank you for that information, Mr Peters. Mr Daniels, Mr Kelly, thanks again.

Mr Daniels: I'll leave this training information. If anybody gets really excited about reading it, it's here.

The Chair: Okay. We're going to go into closed session in a couple of minutes. Before we do, I want to remind the subcommittee that we're meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30 am in committee room 2 and at 10 am the full committee is meeting in committee room 151, the room we're meeting in today. That concludes the open session of the public accounts committee for today.

The committee continued in closed session at 1600.