Thursday 15 July 1993

Subcommittee report

Workers' Compensation Board

Furniture and renovations

New ventures program

GO Transit


Chair / Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Murphy, Tim (St George-St David L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L)

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

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

Farnan, Mike (Cambridge ND)

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

Hayes, Pat (Essex-Kent ND)

*Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

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

Perruzza, Anthony (Downsview ND)

*Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

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

for Mr Farnan

Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND) for Mr Perruzza

Murdock, Sharon (Sudbury ND) for Mr Hayes

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Otterman, Jim, Assistant Provincial Auditor

Peters, Erik, Provincial Auditor

Clerk pro tem / Greffière par intérim: Arnott, Douglas

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

The committee met at 1010 in room 151.

The Vice-Chair (Ms Dianne Poole): Good morning. I call this session of the public accounts committee to order. We have a number of things on our agenda today, starting with a report of the subcommittee.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Madam Chair, on a point of order: I know there is a heavy agenda, but I wanted to table a resolution which I delivered to the clerk. I wonder if you would permit me to make the resolution for the purpose of debating it at a later date.

The Vice-Chair: Normally, you give notice for the next meeting, but in view of the fact that we're not certain the House may be sitting next Thursday --

Mr Tilson: That's exactly why I'd like to follow this procedure.

The Vice-Chair: If we have the concurrence of the rest of the committee, I would suggest that Mr Tilson be given the opportunity to read his motion into the record, and of course there wouldn't be debate at this time. Agreed? Agreed.

Mr Tilson: Thank you, Madam Chair. It's a resolution, and I've given copies, which I think the clerk is distributing to the members of the committee.

I move that the Provincial Auditor conduct an audit of the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority, GO Transit, to determine whether the agency's recent decisions to terminate and/or reduce services on certain of its routes while maintaining service on routes also served by municipal transit authorities and to areas outside the greater Toronto region resulted in the best use of the funds provided by the province to the agency and were consistent with the mandate of the agency to develop and operate an interregional transit system for people whose travel takes them through more than one regional municipality.

Madam Chair, I would hope that some time in the near future we would be able to debate this resolution.

The Vice-Chair: Certainly that will be put on the list for the steering committee to take a look at.


The Vice-Chair: Now we have three other matters that are on the agenda today. The first is I think basically a procedural one, to decide how to proceed -- oh, I'm sorry. I didn't actually have a motion for adoption of the subcommittee report. This is before members. It was just distributed this morning. I don't know whether, in view of the fact it was not circulated prior to today's meeting, you would like it officially read into the record or have a moment to review it.

The steering committee report basically sets the agenda for today, which is to decide how to proceed on the Provincial Auditor's report on the WCB and also Mr Callahan's motion. It also sets out a possible schedule for a summer recess, including looking at the Ministry of Health, the health cards; in week two, looking at the annual report of the Provincial Auditor relating to the Ministry of Housing and to finish off that particular report; and then in week three, if we are able to get a third week assigned, to look at accountability issues and accounting principle issues which the auditor would bring us up to date with, and also there are several issues on from the Provincial Auditor's report: family benefits assistance and the inspection audit of the Toronto Hospital.

Mr Callahan, then Mr Tilson.

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): I may be wrong, but I thought we dealt with section 2.8, the inspection audit of the Toronto Hospital. No?

The Vice-Chair: Could our researcher comment on that?

Mr Ray McLellan: Following the hearings and the meeting with the union, the committee requested that Mr Decter submit transcripts of his meetings. I'm not sure whether you were at that meeting, Mr Callahan, but I've gone through and prepared a summary and overview of those comments so that the committee, when it meets, can discuss and see whether or not they're satisfied with those transcripts and the summary.

Mr Callahan: This is part two then?

Mr McLellan: Yes.

Mr Callahan: I can hardly wait.

Mr Tilson: Madam Chair, I guess the question I'm asking -- and I'm trying not to ask a silly question, but the question is obviously: Here we are continuing on in the House, and we may or may not have a summer recess. I guess we go from moment to moment, do we? In other words, just following up on a comment you made earlier, in the event that the House is going to continue sitting next week, and it seems like it will, I assume we will continue on with this agenda, or will we leave this agenda for the specific weeks which may or may not arise?

The Vice-Chair: You raise a very valid point, Mr Tilson. As usual, I think the committee will try to be flexible since we don't know when we actually will rise. There was a suggestion, for instance, that we might discuss next week some issues that arose out of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees conference from last week, some of the issues that were raised at that particular point. There is a possibility we might begin dealing with the Workers' Compensation Board report.

What I would propose is that we adopt the report of the subcommittee subject to changes as events change. It may well be that later on in our particular agenda today we will decide to ask the steering committee for an amendment to it, for instance, if we are going to sit next week.

Mr Tilson: Madam Chair, I believe that even if the House rises today, it will be impossible to complete the work of committees in this place. It will be impossible.

Having said that, whether it's next week, the week after or the end of the month, who knows? -- nor do the government members of the committee, I'm sure, know -- I believe the sooner we start on these items, the better. I don't know how other members of the committee feel. If it ends next week, that's fine, but I believe we should start on this agenda, particularly the matters -- for example: the building. That topic, I think, should be dealt with as soon as possible.

The Vice-Chair: We should discuss this further.

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): None of us knows when the House is going to recess for the summer. I kind of agree with Mr Tilson in a way that in fact we should maybe begin to look at what we had planned for the summer and try to begin to schedule some of that work into the coming weeks; otherwise it simply may not get done.

The Vice-Chair: This actually goes into the next agenda item as well, which is how to proceed with the Provincial Auditor's report on the Workers' Compensation Board. In addition to the agenda items set out in the steering committee report, we have at least one other matter -- two, if we count Mr Tilson's motion.

Obviously, anything we don't have an opportunity to do during the summer recess we can continue in the fall. I think there has been some suggestion, for instance, if we're looking at the Provincial Auditor's report for the Ministry of Housing that we would actually go out to some non-profit project. That's the type of thing I think is a priority to have on for the summer session when it is easier for members to get out and do those kinds of things.

The steering committee does have a mandate to meet in emergency situations and to decide on a course of action, so all I think we can do today is decide on a tentative course. I think it would probably be wise to suggest an agenda for next week since it is not impossible we will not be sitting, but I think it is likely we will be sitting as of the current situation.

I'm in your hands as to how you want to deal with this, whether you want to actually proceed with the proviso that the steering committee does have a mandate to make adjustments or whether you would like to discuss at this time where we go next week.

Mr Callahan: We just lost our hard profile on this debate. Bob tried to hang around long enough, but I guess he got so bored that he left.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan's allusion was to the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees where we had a session on how to raise the profile of public accounts committees. One of our media speakers, Bob Johnstone, from CBC radio, spoke to us at that time and told us how to raise our accounts. We just noticed that he was in the audience this morning and suddenly left so I guess we weren't interesting enough to keep his attention.

Mr Callahan: He was obviously here for the third item on our agenda, which we should get to very quickly.

Mr Duignan: I notice under summer recess in week one, we are going to deal with section 3.10 of the annual report of the Provincial Auditor dealing with the health cards. Even this thing has been hanging around for quite a while. I was wondering, maybe we should begin with that item and get this thing cleared up and out of the way.


Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Is that item 2 you're speaking of?

The Vice-Chair: Item 1.

Mr Duignan: Item 1 of the summer recess.

The Vice-Chair: Week 1? The other thing to consider is whether we need a full week to clean up that particular item, because, don't forget, we're meeting from 10 to 12 and 2 to 5.

Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): Before we decide on the order of things, I agree that we should begin to schedule matters. Who knows when we're going to rise? I think we should just proceed and start to do some things now. Frankly, I'd like to see what the special audit on the Workers' Compensation Board is and what it says before I decide on the order of those events. It may very well be that it's a matter of more urgent importance and something that requires it to be pushed to the top of the agenda. In other words, I wouldn't want to decide on the order of matters that are going to be dealt with before we deal with number 2.

The Vice-Chair: If I could make a suggestion, is it agreeable to committee members if we proceed to item 2, which is the Workers' Compensation Board, and then revert back to the subcommittee report? Because how we deal with the Workers' Compensation Board and the timing of it may change the rest of the report.

Mr Murphy: It certainly seems agreeable.

Mr Duignan: I thought maybe we'd go through items 2, 3 and 4 and then go back to the subcommittee report.

Mr Murphy: That seems reasonable too.

The Vice-Chair: We seem to have agreement on that.


The Vice-Chair: I'd like the auditor to comment, then, on his special report on the Workers' Compensation Board. We did have a letter, which I believe members have a copy of, dated July 7, from the auditor, where he has advised that they've completed the special audit and that their practice has been to submit special assignment reports to the committee when requested by the committee. The auditor would now like our instructions, so perhaps a few comments, to begin with, by the auditor.

Mr Erik Peters: My comments relate to the standard procedures on these special reports. I would prefer not to comment on the report at all unless you as the members of the committee have seen it. I would expect that in the normal course of events we would have a subcommittee or in camera session briefing you, after you have had a chance to read the report, on the highlights. Then you might wish to decide as to how to proceed with the details of that report.

Mrs Marland: Where is it?

Mr Peters: It's available at the call of the committee.

The Vice-Chair: He completed it last week.

Mr Murphy: I'd like to at least propose that the report be tabled with us, in essence, immediately, so that we could have a chance to review it and have it available to us and then prepare subsequently to deal with it as soon as possible in the full committee.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Murphy has moved that the auditor table the report immediately or as soon as possible with the committee so that it may be distributed to members of the committee and perhaps a briefing session could be arranged.

With reference to the auditor's comment about an in camera meeting to review it, would it be the committee's wish that we would do that next Thursday or would you see fitting this into our summer recess?

Mr Duignan: I would like to see a briefing session for the committee next Thursday in camera.

Mrs Marland: When we dealt with this subject before and we had the vice-chair, Mr King, here and so forth, answering questions, was that in camera? I don't think so.

The Vice-Chair: I wasn't on the committee at that particular point in time, so perhaps Mr Callahan would recall.


Mr McLellan: It was not in camera.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, it was public then when they attended.

Mrs Marland: I was here. There were two days that I recall that I was here. I wasn't a member of the committee at that point, but I was subbed in, and I think that it would be absurd for us to revert now to going behind closed doors on a subject that we've already dealt with in public. I happen to think that this is a subject, quite frankly, where the public has a right to know what the auditor's information is.

We're talking about a $200-million office tower being built by the Workers' Compensation Board at a time when there's 23 million square feet of available rental space in this city. We're also talking about a decision of the board at that time to get into real estate, although -- I've forgotten what section it is; I think it's 16 or 17 --

Mr Peters: It's 64.

Mrs Marland: -- section 64 of the Workers' Compensation Act prohibits the Workers' Compensation Board from being in real estate without an order in council. There was not an order in council to permit the WCB to go ahead with this project.

I think all of the facts that came out when Mr King was here, including the fact that the reason they went ahead without an order in council -- in other words, without the cabinet approving this building -- was because they had had, to quote Mr King, several legal opinions. The interpretation of these legal opinions was that they didn't have to get an order in council to proceed.

When we asked if Mr King would produce those legal opinions, one day he said, yes, he would -- he said that he had at least three -- and he came in the next morning with one legal opinion. When I asked him where the other two were, he said he couldn't find them. I suggested that perhaps the other two did not agree with the one that said they could go ahead and he produced the one that said they could go ahead.

All of these questions were raised and a great deal of concern is out there today in the public community about this whole question of the Workers' Compensation Board building a $200-million tower on land that it will never own; it's owned by the CBC. The reason that this committee, which is accountable to the public about how its dollars are spent, asked for this special report by the auditor was because of the questions that were outstanding. I would be very concerned if we dealt with it now behind closed doors when it has been in the public purview.

The Vice-Chair: I think the auditor would like to clarify what he meant when he was talking about "in camera."

Mrs Marland: Fine.

Mr Peters: If I may, it is just standard practice on any report, even our annual report tabled in the House, that we brief the committee first in camera and the committee then makes its decision as to whom to call as witnesses and then makes the decision as to how to construct the public meeting on that report.

I was referring merely to the pre-briefing to the committee. I was not implying at all that this should be dealt with behind closed doors. It was merely to give the committee an opportunity to discuss who they would like to call, if to call, when to call and all of these matters.

The Vice-Chair: It would be more the technical aspects.

Mr Peters: The technical aspects, and to give the committee an opportunity, after having read the report, to digest and feel more comfortable in how to proceed.

Mrs Marland: As a newly appointed member to this committee, if that is the procedure, I will accept that.

Mr Murphy: If I may, two things. One is that I have a problem with an in camera session related to the report. What I'd like to do is ask a clarifying question and then follow up on that with a comment. Is it the case that it is the practice that the report not be released in a public manner until such time as that in camera briefing has occurred?

Mr Peters: No, the report is released to the members of the committee and that briefing takes place after. It is a matter of public record then. It is just to give an opportunity. It is available today, now, in this room.

Mr Murphy: Okay, good. What I would suggest then and the motion I made is to table that today, to provide that opportunity. I think frankly the session that deals with who and how to call could be done as a steering committee, a subcommittee agenda item, it seems to me. But frankly, I'm not sure I care that much. My concern more is that we don't use up the time in the full committee --

Mr Duignan: You want to make a partisan political issue of it, Mr Murphy.


Mr Murphy: Well, (a) I have the floor and (b) that's not the case. My concern is that we not use up the time this committee has to deal with all the many issues that we have, including this one. I think we can have a subcommittee meeting that will meet outside the regular meeting time of this in order to do that. That subcommittee has to report back to this whole committee, as the first agenda item says, so it's hardly a partisan issue. That would be my proposal, that we proceed in that manner and let's see the report.

Mr Tilson: Madam Chair, just a comment on the in camera proceedings. It is interesting. I think you and I and Mr Callahan were present at the public accounts committee during one of the sessions which had to do with the profile of public accounts committees, and one of the topics that was raised on which there was some debate in the committee, just for the benefit of members of the committee, was the subject of in camera meetings, although I don't think it was mentioned in the report by the research officer. To give him credit, I haven't read it thoroughly, but I don't think that issue was raised. But there was some criticism of public accounts committees across this country, and particularly the province of Ontario, the number of private sessions of public accounts committees dealing with this topic.

I understand that the practice in the past has been that the Provincial Auditor briefs the committee and may or may not say things that the public should or should not hear, but then you ask what the public should hear. It's an interesting thought, just to follow up on what Mr Murphy was talking about. I think all of us in this room have a general aversion towards in camera meetings. I mean, what have we got to hide? What do we have to hide?

Are you saying, Mr Peters, that this document will be a public document today, will be available for the public today?

Mr Peters: It will be available to the committee today.

Mr Tilson: It will be available to the committee but not to the public.

Mr Peters: We do not publish. You have requested a report. We report to you. Distribution and afterwards is totally in your hands.

Mr Tilson: So then it's up to the committee.

Mr Peters: It's in your hands, yes.

Mr Tilson: I'm not saying yea or nay on this issue. It's just that it's an issue that has been raised at the conference and was discussed and there was expressed a concern across the country, a general aversion. I mean, on the one hand we're talking about trying to make this place more accessible, more accountable, and the very first meeting we have after a public accounts conference we're recommending a private session meeting.

The Vice-Chair: In the legislative research service report prepared by Ray McLellan, there is a statement on that about the press panel's presentation. The press questioned the need for in camera sessions of the public accounts committee.

Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Madam Chair: We've had a great discussion about whether this should be in camera or not in camera. Nobody has seen the report. I mean, it may say nothing. That's why I find the whole discussion around this to be almost academic, because until I see the report, how do I know whether it's -- I mean, it may be a one-liner. It may simply say they built the building or are going to build a building and they shouldn't have built the building because there was leasable space around the city.

If that's it, you know, what's -- but if it says something that should be in camera -- that's why I think this whole discussion -- we've wasted, with all due respect, half an hour discussing something, a report, that we've not seen yet and we don't even know whether we should deal with it in camera, out of camera, half in camera, half out of camera. So perhaps, Madam Chairman, with respect, we could move on, and when we see the report, then we could decide that issue.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, I would like to resolve it a little bit more than what we have. I agree with you, we don't want to waste the entire morning trying to decide on a procedural matter. But so far, do I take it we have consensus that we would deal with the report in some way next Thursday?

Mr Duignan: I'd like to move a motion that the report be tabled today and then the committee --

The Vice-Chair: I think Mr Murphy already moved that motion, that the report be tabled immediately, and I think you said in your motion that the steering committee would meet --

Mr Murphy: It ended up being a friendly amendment to my own motion, I guess, but yes.

The Vice-Chair: Do you have any friendly amendments to that particular motion?

Mr Duignan: I was simply going to say, to save some time and get on with the other issues in front of the committee, that this report be tabled today and in fact that the subcommittee then deal with the issue of where it wants to go with this report. It may not agree and it may have to come back to the full committee to be dealt with, but in the interest of saving time and dealing with the other issues on this agenda, let's do something like that.

The Vice-Chair: Just for my own clarification, would that friendly amendment to the motion also include scheduling the WCB report for next Thursday, whether it be in camera or out of camera?

Mr Duignan: No. That would be up to the subcommittee to decide what will happen. That's the essence of the motion, that this report is tabled today and then the subcommittee decides what's going to happen in relation to that report and what will follow out of that.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Marland? If we could just keep comments as brief as possible, keeping in mind we have two other items.

Mrs Marland: I'll try to keep my comments as brief as possible, but I think we're dealing with a very serious issue here. We're dealing with the issue, frankly, of élitism: élitism on the part of public accounts committees in general and obviously particularly our own. We're also dealing somewhat with what can evolve as the élitism of the subcommittee, because I can assure you that if the subcommittee decides that this report has to be kept under wraps, in camera, I will have a great deal of objection to that.

The point is that if you deal with matters that have to be dealt with in camera and you deal with it the way municipalities deal with it, it's very straightforward. If it isn't a matter of personnel or land acquisition, what is there that the public isn't entitled to know? I think that's the bottom line question here.

Mr Callahan: Could I have a point of order here, Madam Chair? I understand from the auditor that the report is here in this room. Let's have it. Let's not debate what, you know --

Mrs Marland: I don't think that's a point of order, and I have the floor.

Mr Callahan: It certainly is a point of order because we're now debating whether we should do it in camera or out of camera, or half in camera and half out of camera. What's the point of doing that if we don't know what's in it? Let's get the report. I move we have the report distributed to the committee right now.

Interjection: Well, there's still a motion on the floor.

Mrs Marland: I think I still have the floor.

Mr Callahan: That's fine.

Mr Duignan: On a point of clarification, I think we're still on the motion before.

The Vice-Chair: Technically, I think it's inappropriate to make a motion when you're on a point of order, and Mrs Marland did have the floor. But, Mr Callahan, I think actually -- my speaking list has gone amok. Mrs Marland was at the bottom of the list. I think we keep introducing new topics.

Mr Callahan: I would be most gracious to allow her to continue to speak if she'll allow the auditor's report to be distributed to the committee right now so we can quit wasting time. If there's nothing in it, why are we spending 45 minutes of valuable time of two hours that we get each Thursday to debate something that may be like, "How many angels can you put on the head of a pin?" Let's have the report.

Mrs Marland, because I like you so much -- I'd be prepared to allow her to go ahead of me on the list if she consents to the report being released to the committee post-haste.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sure that you're both very generous, and would like to reciprocate and give each other opportunities to both speak and table reports. First of all, are there sufficient copies for the members?

Mr Callahan: I'll even share.

Mr Peters: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: Do we have agreement of the committee at this very moment for the auditor to table the report and for copies to be distributed? Agreed. We would ask our clerk to take care of that particular item.

We do have two motions which are extremely similar on the table. One is by Mr Murphy, and the clerk can't read it back because we've just sent him off to get copies, but I believe the substance of Mr Murphy's motion was that the report be tabled immediately, which has been done, and secondly, that the subcommittee or steering committee would meet.


Mr Murphy: If I could just have a point of clarification, we had deferred discussion of the first point in order to be able to talk to some degree about points 2, 3 and 4 in terms of scheduling all of the business of the committee, and to a degree, there is a logic to waiting at least -- because what the debate is over is really the scheduling of the consideration of this report. Perhaps we should put off that scheduling issue until we've considered what else we're going to have before us and we can put that back into the debate about the first agenda item as well.

The Vice-Chair: I'm just going to make an attempt as Chair to try to resolve this so we can actually get on to the substance of several of the items on the agenda today. The report is now before us. Do we have consensus that the steering committee would meet and make a decision as to where we're going with this report, but that next Thursday be reserved for dealing with the report?

Mr Tilson: We can decide right now. There's nothing in here.

Mrs Marland: The conclusion is what I expected it would be. I guess I'm a little biased because the conclusion supports the argument I was making in open session. So I would not be happy for us not to deal with this report in open session, and I feel that if the government members decide that this can't be dealt with in open session, then they're going to have to make some very strong arguments to justify keeping this report from the public.

The thing is, there isn't anything here that has not been discussed in open session. Therefore, our request for this report -- as a result of the open session, it obviously makes sense for this report to come back and be dealt with in open session, and I'm not willing, nor do I think it's necessary, for the subcommittee to make that kind of decision, because it's only going to have to come back to the full committee anyway.

I would like to make a motion that we deal with the report we've just received now as an extra order of business this morning, because I think it's important for the public to be aware of what this report contains.

The Vice-Chair: We already have a motion on the floor that we have not voted on. Are you proposing yours as an amendment to the current motion? Otherwise, I think we will have to take a vote on Mr Murphy's motion first, before we deal with yours.

Mr Murphy: I'll withdraw my motion.

Mr Duignan: I'd like to move a motion that this report be dealt with in camera next Thursday.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Murphy has withdrawn his motion; Mr Duignan did not withdraw his amendment.

Mrs Marland: But he's just made another motion.

Mr Callahan: It's contrary to the one that --

Mrs Marland: I'm sorry, my motion was first. Mr Duignan has just placed his.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Marland, would you just give me a moment to confer with the clerk?

The amendment was to a motion that was withdrawn, the clerk advised me. Therefore, the amendment falls. Mrs Marland had made a motion before Mr Murphy withdrew his. Mrs Marland, would you please repeat your motion?

Mrs Marland: I will. In light of the auditor's report that has just been tabled with this committee -- the report is dated June 30, 1993, regarding the new headquarters of the Workers' Compensation Board -- in light of the conclusion that I read in this report, I am moving that the report be dealt with this morning in open session.

In speaking to my motion, I want to be very clear that there isn't anything in this report that has not already been discussed in open session as a result of my questions to Mr King, the vice-chair of the board, when we dealt with this matter in March or whenever.

Mr Peters: January.

Mr Callahan: There was snow on the ground, I remember that.

Mrs Marland: When I asked the questions to Mr King in January -- this report is as a result of some of those points that I raised in my questions. Now when I read the conclusion of the auditor, as I said a minute ago, it supports the arguments that I was raising, and for us not to be able to deal with the report in open session when all of this has already been discussed publicly -- and quite frankly, I believe very strongly in the public's right to know. It would be indefensible for this government to say that this report should not be public knowledge.

Mr Callahan: I have an amendment.

The Vice-Chair: I have Mr Callahan, Ms Murdock, Mr Murphy.

Mr Callahan: I figured I was somewhere in there, along the list. I'd like to amend it. I agree with the member for Mississauga South that this document, on a quick reading of it, says nothing more than what was said to us in open sittings, and some of you may not have been members at that time.

My amendment, however, would be that, although I agree it should be in open session, we do have an agenda. The subcommittee has put that agenda forward, and I see no reason to move this item to this sitting. But I would amend it by saying "open session at the next sitting."

Again, then having spoken to it, the reason I would support it being open is that there is absolutely nothing in this report that the public is not aware of already. All that would be happening, I suppose by discussing it, would be bringing back to their attention the fact that the workmen's compensation board, without any authority, in fact contrary to the authority of the minister, of the rules that said it had to get Management Board approval or whatever it was, executive council approval, went ahead anyway and decided to build this palace.

I think that was the genesis of the request being made for a special audit, to determine whether or not they're just flying out there on their own, they have no responsibility or accountability to anybody. I think anybody reading this report or having heard those submissions that were made by witnesses at this committee could only come to one determination, that there in fact is no accountability between the WCB and the people who are the elected authorities in this province. They just go and do whatever they want.

As I recollect, it was outrageous. They seemed to think -- that's the impression I got -- we had no right to even delve into it; the fact that we told them there was all this leasable space in the city and they said: "Oh well, we can't use that. That's not good enough for us. We're going to build this palace."

I think we should maybe let the cat out of the bag. The conclusion of the report is:

"We believe that the concerns raised regarding adherence to statutory authority and the Management Board of Cabinet directives demonstrate a need for a more effective accountability regime between the WCB, the minister and the Legislature."

That's it in spades.

Mr Tilson: This one too, page 11.

Mr Callahan: Well, that's the big one, I think. What it says is the WCB can do anything it damn well pleases and nobody seems to be in control of what's going on. I think that's something that probably is not a new revelation. It's been one that's been struggled with by every party in this Legislature. I think it's time we told them or told somebody, "You better get a handle on it." It's got the largest unfunded liability in the province, I think.

To allow this to continue is similar to allowing -- I mean, I can understand why Hydro spent $1 million and whatever on finding out if people loved their refrigerators. If you don't have any control over these people, you create a bad example for the rest of these megalithic -- is that a good word, "megalithic"?

Mr Murphy: It's a big word anyway.

Mr Callahan: That's all I've got to say. I didn't want to say anything that was not positive.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan has moved an amendment to Mrs Marland's motion that instead of being dealt with immediately today in this session that we continue with today's agenda and that it be dealt with at the next session in full public hearing.

Mr Murphy: On a point of clarification, if I can, just to understand that the normal process is for the in camera briefing to deal with both (a) the auditor providing us with information as to the background to his conclusions and (b) the committee dealing with the scheduling and deciding who the witnesses should be. I don't understand why we can't do that today.


The Vice-Chair: That's an interesting point of clarification. Ms Murdock.

Ms Sharon Murdock (Sudbury): When I raised my hand to be recognized, I was speaking to Mrs Marland's comments. We've had a number of other suggestions since then, but I will speak to what Mr Murphy just said.

I think if the normal procedure is for the auditor to make the presentation in camera, and we'd be able to ask the auditor -- I presume this would be what would happen -- exactly how he arrived at those conclusions etc, I see every good reason to do that in camera, then ask the questions to other people based on what the auditor has discovered in this. I would like to have the opportunity to read this sentence by sentence. I don't want to just skim through it and read the conclusion; I want to see how we got there.

I think then we can decide in that session how we should proceed, whom we want to call or if indeed we want to call anyone. I think we should follow the normal procedure, and it has nothing to do with what I'm hearing suggested, that we as the government side are trying to hide something here. I agree that it should be as open as possible, but I think the auditor should be able to explain. If we feel the need that he should re-explain it again publicly, then we can decide to do that as well.

Just before I conclude, I would like to remind Mr Callahan that women make up a large part of this workforce and it is no longer the workmen's compensation board, it is the Workers' Compensation Board.

Mr Callahan: Oh, my God.

The Vice-Chair: I guess we're going to have to take you out and shoot you, Mr Callahan. There's no other choice.

Mr Callahan: I'm sorry. I really apologize.

The Vice-Chair: And so you should.

Mr Murphy: I'm going to speak in favour of Mrs Marland's motion. I think it's entirely appropriate. The report is here. It seems to me that the conclusions of the report speak to the kinds of things that have been raised by the opposition in the House repeatedly, including the member for Mississauga West, I believe, Steve Mahoney, conclusions that the WCB didn't follow section 64 of the Workers' Compensation Act in spirit, that it didn't comply with Management Board directives, that it may have contravened regulations under the Pension Benefits Act. These are clearly things that (a) have been raised and (b) have been issues that have been discussed before in committee and in public.

It seems to me no reason to conduct this in camera, and I'm in full support of this motion. We should proceed. There's nothing to hide. We should have nothing to hide. We are the public's representatives after all, and I think we should proceed.

Mr Duignan: I call the question.

Mr Callahan: You've got to call it on the amendment first.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Callahan. That was actually very helpful. I will now call the question on the amendment.

Mr Callahan: A recorded vote.

Mr Tilson: I'm speaking to the amendment; I'm not in favour of the amendment, which is to put this off until next week, because the agenda simply has the whole topic of the Workers' Compensation Board today.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson, the question has been called, so I'm afraid I'll have to call it. Would the clerk read it out for the members' benefit.

Clerk Pro Tem (Mr Doug Arnott): Mr Callahan moves that the motion by Mrs Marland be amended by striking out the words "be dealt with this morning" and inserting in lieu thereof "be dealt with at the next sitting of the committee."




Duignan, Frankford, Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings), Marland, Martin, Murdock (Sudbury), Murphy, O'Connor, Tilson.

Mr Callahan: I think it was defeated.

The Vice-Chair: Yes, the amendment is defeated. We will now vote on Mrs Marland's motion.

Mrs Marland: I'd like to ask Mr Arnott, when the question is called, is it called only on the amendment or is it called on the main motion and the amendment?

Clerk Pro Tem: The vote would be first on the amendment to the motion.

The Vice-Chair: She's saying, is the question automatically put on the motion if the question is put on the amendment?

Mr Callahan: Call the question.

The Vice-Chair: We have a difficult group with us today. Is there further debate on the motion where things that have not been said that are vital to the motion itself need to be repeated -- I shouldn't say repeated; I just defeated my own purpose -- that have not been said and that need to be put on the record at this time?

Mrs Marland: The main motion is still mine, I understand.

The Vice-Chair: That's right.

Mrs Marland: It was said by one of the government members that she would like to be able to read this report line by line. I guess the unfortunate thing is that when members of this committee are subbed in who were not on the committee when the matter was originally dealt with that, for them this is totally new material.

For those of us who were here when this matter was dealt with before, the material is not new. A lot of it is referenced to questions that were raised by myself to the Workers' Compensation Board vice-chair, Mr King, when he was here.

Since I'm very sensitive to the fact that my motion is going to be defeated by the government and we now have a report that has been tabled in public, I would like to know, since it's been tabled in public, how we can legally then say we're going to deal with it behind closed doors, in camera. When I get the answer to that question, I have another comment.

Mr Tilson: It's a public document now.

Mrs Marland: Perhaps somebody can give me the legal answer is to that, because I can tell you that when I read here what the auditor's conclusion is, which is a very serious conclusion in my opinion, I think that to delay this report for a week, in any way at all, would be just a shamefaced denial of the public's right to information that is duly in their domain. The public is entitled to know what this report says. Can you tell me what the answer is when the report has already been tabled in public?

The Vice-Chair: I think you asked for a legal opinion, and I believe, Ray, you are a solicitor.

Mr McLellan: No, I'm not.

The Vice-Chair: Let's let the auditor speak to this.

Mr Peters: Just very quickly, in terms of the annual report, the annual report is also published. My comments to the in camera briefing were exactly along the lines of Ms Murdock's point of merely that the committee can question me in camera to have additional background information or anything that it would like to know.

The second part of that briefing session is really, if the committee wishes to discuss the report with representatives, for example, of the Workers' Compensation Board, would you like to invite Mr King back before you to make these kinds of decisions or would you like to have somebody else before you?

It is only to make those kinds of decisions. That is what the in camera briefing is about. There's no denying this is merely to give the committee an opportunity to make those sorts of decisions.

Mrs Marland: All right. Then you've cleared it up for me that this is now a public document, and if I want to ask you further questions, you're saying you would prefer to answer those questions in an in camera session.

Mr Peters: No. That's not my preference. I would be willing to answer those in public or in private. It is the committee's own wish as to how it wishes to proceed. I just outlined the options that had been followed in the past.


Mrs Marland: The fact that the report is public and there is a conclusion that the Workers' Compensation Board did not comply with the Management Board of Cabinet directive dealing with the establishment of subsidiary companies and joint ventures etc, if I want more information on that, I'm going to have to be bound by the wishes of the committee.

But I want to say that I think that in light of the conclusions that are in this report this morning, it's absolutely imperative that we have Mr Di Santo, the chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board, invited to appear before this committee. The only reason Mr King was here in January, I understand, was that Mr Di Santo was not available, and I think this report is so critical, based on where we are today with, I think, this building coming out of the ground. Does anybody know? Are there more than the foundations poured? Is the building in fact rising out of the ground?

Mr Duignan: Yes, it is.

Mrs Marland: Wonderful.

Mr Callahan: Well, we'll put a stop-work order on it.

Mr Duignan: I'm going to call the question.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Duignan, I can appreciate that we've spent considerable time on this issue, but we technically have only had one speaker on it and Mr Tilson has not spoken to the issue at all, so I am going to take the Chair's prerogative and say that Mr Tilson can make some brief comments.

Mr Tilson: The trouble is, you see, that a lot of the members of this committee are new since we got into this. There's nothing new in this report that hasn't been said before, other than the fact that we now have the Provincial Auditor being critical not only of the WCB but the Ministry of Labour. Here it is in black and white. The whole issue of accountability is being questioned.

It's not as if we're seeing a whole new topic. This topic has been spent in a great deal of detail, and not only should Mr Di Santo be here, but a deputy minister should also be here to make comments on the Provincial Auditor's remarks.

I see no reason why we can't start on this process. It's not like the Provincial Auditor has presented his report and is making private session comments, because this topic has been dealt with before. There's no reason we cannot continue with this today, starting at page 1, to make initial comments, and to instruct the clerk to ask Mr Di Santo, as Mrs Marland has suggested, and there's no question that the deputy minister should also appear, and topics like that, in preparation for next week.

Otherwise, we're going to be at next week and we'll have to wait another week before any of those people need to appear. I think that currently we should be prepared to proceed with questioning the Provincial Auditor on his report and at the same time, during those discussions, instruct the clerk to ask various --

Mrs Marland: I just wish to raise a point of order before this lady leaves the room.

Mr Tilson: Well, they're all here now.

Mrs Marland: I'd like to know who this young person is who Ms Murdock just gave a copy of the report to, just so I know who else has a copy of the report.

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I think Tim Murphy just walked out with it too.

Mrs Marland: I'm asking a question, which I think I'm entitled to know.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Marland, that is not a point of order.

Mrs Marland: I think I'm entitled to know. At the moment, the only people who have this report are members of this committee, until a member sitting in the public gallery was just given a copy. I simply would like to know who it is in the public gallery Ms Murdock just gave a copy of this report to.

Ms Murdock: Bob Mackenzie's assistant.

Mrs Marland: The minister's assistant. The Minister of Labour's assistant.

Mr Tilson: The Minister of Labour should come next week too, because they're being critical of him in this report.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, there is no point of order. Mr Johnson.

Mrs Marland: As long as I know. Thank you very much.

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): A considerable amount of time, in my opinion, has been, I might say, wasted here this morning trying to determine whether we should have a conversation about this report in camera or not. I think that traditionally in this committee, and I've been on this committee for quite a number of years, actually, although I'm not presently now a member, we had an opportunity in camera to talk with the auditor with regard to the report, so we could talk about some of the maybe inane things about the report that aren't the meat of the report, if you know what I mean.

It doesn't mean there's any delay to the public. It doesn't mean the public is going to miss any of the information. It was just an opportunity in a more comfortable atmosphere for the committee to talk to the auditor about the report so that we could get a good grasp of what the report actually said.

Mr Callahan: I want to make one comment.

The Vice-Chair: If you are very brief, Mr Callahan, since you have had an opportunity.

Mr Callahan: I want to make one comment. The fact is that I find it amazing that the WCB would have gone ahead with that contract when it knew that the public accounts committee was looking at it and that we had in fact directed a special audit by the auditor. That's what bothers me. Now I'm starting to think that maybe delaying it is a mistake, but maybe it's academic at this point, if they've poured the footings of the building.

I find it incredible that they would come before a legislative committee -- my recollection was the time they were here as witnesses, there was a way out. Am I wrong in that regard, that the contract was not yet finalized which would require them to build the building? I'd like that checked out. If I'm correct, then I say the Workers' Compensation Board had in fact incredible gall to continue with a building where it was not legally bound to do so when it knew that a legislative committee of this House was investigating it and instructing the auditor to do a special report on it.

I would like to have those people here, and if I'm correct that there was no legal responsibility to proceed with that building, I want them here to be able to question them about it, because if they're not only out of the control of the minister, but they're out of the control of the Legislature, who's running the show? Are the inmates running the institution, or what?

Mr Tilson: That's what the Provincial Auditor was just saying.

The Vice-Chair: Seeing no further members' names on the list to speak, I will call the question.

Mr Tilson: Recorded vote.

The Vice-Chair: Could I have Mrs Marland's motion read, please?

Clerk Pro Tem: Ms Marland moved that the special report on the Workers' Compensation Board special audit be dealt with this morning in open session.


Callahan, Tilson.


Duignan, Frankford, Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings), Martin, Murdock (Sudbury), O'Connor.

The Vice-Chair: The motion fails.

Mr Tilson: Why in the world aren't you prepared to proceed on this today? There's no logical reason why we can't prepare today, list off who should be coming --


The Vice-Chair: Order.


Mr Tilson: It's $200 million.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson, order. I can understand this is an emotional issue, but the motion has been defeated. We now have to make a decision how to proceed with the Provincial Auditor's special report on the Workers' Compensation Board.

Mr Duignan: I had a motion also on the floor. The motion was that we would deal with this report in a closed session next Thursday.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Duignan has moved that the public accounts committee hold a briefing session with the auditor in camera at the next session, whether that be next Thursday or at a subsequent date. Is there any discussion?

Mr Callahan: Recorded vote.

The Vice-Chair: Can we keep the discussion very brief, because I think a lot of things have been said that cover the issue.

Mr Tilson: I just have a question for the mover as to why in the world should this particular topic be dealt with in private session when we've already talked about this in open session. What in the world is so new about all this stuff? It's all old news. The Provincial Auditor is confirming what has been said in this committee before. Why do we have to go behind closed doors? There's no reason why the government members should insist that this go behind closed doors, no reason at all.


You should attend these conferences more, because they were being very critical of this committee and other committees across this land, government committees, as to why in the world so many of our sessions are being held in private session.

Mr Duignan: Maybe the words "deal with" are a little too harsh. What I meant was that we would deal with the briefing from the auditor at the next closed session, along the lines the auditor indicated and Ms Murdock indicated earlier. I think we should get on as much of this as we can. I would move that Mr Di Santo be requested to appear before the committee next week as well.

The Vice-Chair: Is this part to be in camera or in public session?

Mr Callahan: Obviously, in public session, I would say.

The Vice-Chair: We did need that clarified. Mr Callahan is moving an amendment to the motion that the public accounts committee would meet in camera for the briefing with the auditor next Thursday and this would be followed by a public session that the chair of the Workers' Compensation Board, Mr Di Santo, would be invited to attend as a witness.

Mr Callahan: In open session.

The Vice-Chair: In open session. First we will vote on the amendment.

Mrs Marland: Can I ask a question?

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, I thought you said, "Put the question."

Mrs Marland: Sorry, no, I didn't. I have a question. Could you tell me -- I think I am allowed to -- how the main motion is worded, please, Madam Chair?

The Vice-Chair: Our trusty clerk will do that for us.

Clerk Pro Tem: Mr Duignan moved that the committee hold a briefing session on the special report with the Provincial Auditor in closed session at the next meeting of the committee.

The Vice-Chair: That was the main motion, and there is an amendment.

Mrs Marland: So the main motion is that we deal with this behind closed doors at the next meeting, which would be next Thursday.

The Vice-Chair: We're not sure it will be next Thursday. If the Legislature is in session, it will be next Thursday.

Mrs Marland: It's at the next meeting of this committee.

The Vice-Chair: That's right, and the briefing of the Provincial Auditor will be in camera, I think was the wording of the motion. Would you like the amendment read out?

Mrs Marland: No, I'd like to speak to the motion, please.

The Vice-Chair: It's the amendment that's on the floor right now.

Mrs Marland: All right. In speaking to the amendment -- and then will I have an opportunity after that to speak to the main motion?

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Marland, we have had an hour and 10 minutes of discussion on this this morning. If it is to raise new points --

Mrs Marland: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: -- of course you would have an opportunity to speak.

Mrs Marland: I think with respect, Madam Chair, it's a very important matter, and I do agree with the amendment, that it should be an open session with Mr Di Santo. I think also I would ask for a friendly agreement with the mover of the amendment.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, we have a friendly amendment to your amendment.

Mrs Marland: Yes, would you accept, with Mr Di Santo's request to be before the committee, also the Minister of Labour, Mr Mackenzie?

Mr Callahan: I was going to add him, but it's difficult, I think.

Mrs Marland: Well, that he be invited.

Mr Callahan: That he be invited; he may not be available.

Mr Tilson: I'm sure he won't be.

The Vice-Chair: Am I to take it that Mr Callahan agrees to the friendly amendment?

Mr Callahan: I'm agreeable to that, yes.

Mrs Marland: Thank you. Obviously, I'm in favour of that amendment. If the minister could not attend, obviously, we would like to invite the Deputy Minister of Labour.

I think it's unfortunate that the government whip on this committee has moved to deal with this public report behind closed doors. It's obvious that they do not realize the right of the public to information that should be public. We now have a public report, and they want to discuss it in private. It just doesn't make any sense. It's so contradictory to what our responsibility is as members of the public accounts committee. You know what it says? Public accounts. So now what we're going to do is keep it all controlled, sweep it under the carpet, have closed sessions.

Mr Duignan: I thought she was raising new points on this issue, Madam Chair.

Mrs Marland: You know, the style of this government is incredible. I suppose the good news is that every time they want to do something like this, they just confirm more and more for the public that this is a style that the public will not accept. The public does want public reports that have an impact on where their tax money is being spent, whether it's directly through the treasury or through the funds that are paid into workers' compensation -- workers' compensation was designed to compensate injured workers; it was never designed to build $200-million ivory towers when there are 23 million square feet of rentable space available in this city.

The fact is that what we have here is a report that confirms that the Workers' Compensation Board went beyond its mandate in order to do something that it wanted for the comfort of its own workers and to be in an ideal working environment, their 180 square feet per worker, all these things that Mr King told us he wanted. He wanted ideal floors, ideal ceilings in a time when people are lucky even to be working. We're talking about $200 million that obviously we now know was spent unnecessarily. I upset Mr King last time apparently because he said he was going to challenge to say it outside of the shroud of the committee room, but obviously we now know that the decision of the Workers' Compensation Board was at best questionable. This report just confirms that. So I think for Mr Duignan to move, on behalf of the government members of this committee, that we deal with it under the carpet, behind closed doors, is deplorable.

Mr Tilson: Paying interest at 10.25%, I'd want to keep it quiet too.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mrs Marland. Seeing no other people on the list, we will vote on the amendment to the motion.

Mr Callahan: Recorded vote.

The Vice-Chair: This is the amendment by Mr Callahan, as amended by Mrs Marland with the friendly amendment. Could the clerk read it?

Clerk Pro Tem: Mr Callahan moved that the motion of Mr Duignan be amended by adding the words "and that Messrs Di Santo, chair of the WCB, and Mackenzie, Minister of Labour, be requested to appear as witnesses before the committee at the next meeting in open session."

Mrs Marland: Are you still agreeing to a private session?

Mr Callahan: No, no, in open session.

Mrs Marland: Also, the deputy was added, I think, if Mr Mackenzie couldn't come.

Mr Callahan: Yes.


Callahan, Marland, Tilson.


Duignan, Frankford, Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings), Martin, Murdock, O'Connor.

The Vice-Chair: The amendment fails. We will now vote on the main motion by Mr Duignan, if the clerk could read that for us.

Clerk Pro Tem: Mr Duignan moved that the committee hold a briefing session on the special report with the Provincial Auditor in closed session at the next meeting of the committee.

The Vice-Chair: All in favour? Now, was your request for a recorded motion only on the amendment?

Mr Callahan: No, a recorded vote on this.


Duignan, Frankford, Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings), Martin, Murdock, O'Connor.


Callahan, Marland, Tilson.

The Vice-Chair: I see Mr Murphy is on television speaking in the House. He did have his hand up, so I'm not sure -- oh, he's got his hand down now -- he counts, but he gets at least an honourable mention.

The next item: I hate to cloud the issue and to delay even further Mr Callahan's motion, but we were going to revert to the report of the subcommittee, I believe.

Mr Duignan: No.

The Vice-Chair: At the end of the entire thing?

Mr Duignan: We're doing 2, 3, and 4 and then going back.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, you're on.



Mr Callahan: Yes, I have it on good authority that Hydro, that famous pollster operation that wants to find out whether or not the light inside your refrigerator goes out and all of this other stuff and can spend $1.6 million on that poll --

Mrs Marland: One point three million.

Mr Callahan: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, if I could ask you to read the motion first and then you can make comments.

Mr Callahan: The motion by myself is that the Provincial Auditor be authorized, under section 17 of the Audit Act, to carry out a special audit to investigate the large quantities of assets purchased, but not used, and presently being warehoused by Ontario Hydro, and further, the recent renovations and replacement of furniture at the General Division courthouse at 361 University Avenue, Toronto, including the costs thereof and when such renovations were last carried out.

I move that motion, Madam Chair.

The Vice-Chair: Any opening comments?

Mr Callahan: Yes. I have it on very reliable authority, and we've yet to be able to find the warehouse where this stuff is stored, but I understand that Hydro spent something in the neighbourhood of about $1 million on refurbishing the Hydro building. It turned out that the interior decorator didn't like the furniture that was purchased, so it has been stored in a warehouse. It has moved from warehouse to warehouse because they don't want to be caught up with, I understand. I'd like to find that furniture, because it might be suitable for somebody else's --

Mr Paul Johnson: We can't sell it to the National Capital Commission. They've already bought some.

Mr Callahan: Well, that's true, but it might be suitable for use in some other facility. In addition to that, I find it incredible that a facility that is obviously, as a result of some of the questions in the House yesterday, totally out of control, would have the audacity to not at least take this stuff out of storage and have a garage sale and try to recoup some of the taxpayers' money. So that's the first thing. I want the auditor to find that furniture, if he can. Failing that, if he has any difficulties, I suggest that we invite Mr Strong to appear before this committee and tell us what he knows about the furniture. I think it's time the furniture came out of hiding. It may be out of style by the time we catch up with it.

I'm also given on very good advice, and in fact it was the advice of someone who should know, and I don't want to reveal in any way, shape or form that person's capacity, but apparently 361 University Avenue received an entirely new renovation: replacement of furniture and wallpapering. In this person's considered opinion, and as I say, this person works in that facility, it wasn't necessary. It's nice to create jobs, but one would wonder, at whose expense? I'd like to find out why, as I said, this work was done, whether it was necessary, if we got value for money and when such renovations were last carried out. If we're going to go around wallpapering buildings and renovating buildings just simply to create a façade of economic activity, we've got real problems in this province.

I would hope that the members would, in a non-partisan way, because this really is an important issue, particularly in this time of attempts to try and control the deficit through things such as the social contract and the rest of it -- I think the government members certainly will support this because they are, as we are, concerned. I think we as members of public accounts should deal with this. This is really looking into the question of whether or not the taxpayers' money is being spent wisely. I would hope everyone would support this motion and maybe we'll find the furniture.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Callahan. It appears that the auditor is going to have to dig out his private investigator's licence in order to conduct this.

Mr Callahan: If he needs any help, you come back and ask us for the authority. We'll ask Mr Strong to come before us. Maybe he knows what garage the furniture is in.

Mr Duignan: We agree with the motion from Mr Callahan, for some of the reasons stated by Mr Callahan. I know time is getting short, so I will keep my comments to that.

The Vice-Chair: There appear to be no other comments to be made by members, that they've indicated to me anyway, so I'll call the vote.

All those in favour of Mr Callahan's motion?

It appears to be a unanimous decision.

Mr Paul Johnson: What, no recorded vote?

Mr Callahan: I'm getting better. I should have recorded it. It's the first one I've got everybody.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sure Mr Callahan wishes to point out, though, that it was unanimous. Is that what he would like?

Mr Callahan: Yes, thank you very much. When we find the furniture, each of you can have a piece.


The Vice-Chair: Now we have a motion from Mr Duignan which I would ask him to read out, and then he'll have an opportunity to make opening comments.

Mr Duignan: I move that the standing committee on public accounts conduct a review of the new ventures program for the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade during the summer recess.

The Vice-Chair: Would you like to make some comments?

Mr Duignan: Very briefly, as time is getting on, I would like the committee to conduct a review of this particular program to see if in fact the new ventures program is working well, if the public is getting value for its money, and see if there are any problems in relation to that particular program, especially in this particular time of tight money. I want to know, is the public getting value for its money?

Mr Peters: May I make just a brief question? Are you aware of the sunset report commissioned by that organization?

Mr Duignan: Yes.

Mr Peters: You are? Okay. I just wondered.

The Vice-Chair: I just have one question for the auditor. Has there been any special review from the auditor's office on new ventures, or is this something that would be conducted by the committee but not under the auspices of the auditor?

Mr Peters: We have carried out an audit of the Innovations Ontario Corp which we have recently completed, but that is only part of this. It does not specifically refer to this program. I think this is a specific motion, and we have not done specific work on that program.

Mr Paul Johnson: Is that audit on Innovations Ontario available now? Will it be available soon?

Mr Peters: Our practice is for consideration for inclusion in the annual report if it's not a special report under section 12 of our act.

The Vice-Chair: So that would probably be the latter part of November or early December, then?

Mr Peters: That's right.

The Vice-Chair: Any other comments? No? Then I'll call the vote. All those in favour of Mr Duignan's motion? All opposed? It appears to be another unanimous motion. This committee is improving.

The auditor has a point he'd like to make.

Mr Peters: Just a quick point of order. You're meaning this to be carried out under section 17 of our act?

The Vice-Chair: No, I think this is for the committee.

Mr Peters: This is for the committee, not a section 17. Okay, just a clarification. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. Now, given that Mr Duignan's motion does ask that the new ventures program be looked at during the summer recess, I think that has bearing on the subcommittee report, which was the first item on our agenda, and we have to make a decision on how we are going to organize our summer. Now this could be left to the subcommittee again, or members could make comments at this time.

Mr O'Connor: I want to speak on a new subject, Chair, so my feeling is that the subcommittee could deal with that.

The Vice-Chair: Mr O'Connor has expressed the opinion that the subcommittee should take a second look at the agenda, given that Mr Duignan's motion does ask for new ventures to be looked at during the summer recess. Are there any other comments on that? Is there consensus that the subcommittee would rejig the agenda, as it were?

Seeing no opposition, then, the subcommittee will be directed to take a second look at the agenda and try to fit in all our various items.

Mr Murphy: If I may, just on that last point, I think it makes sense to do that. The only question I have is that I assume part of that deliberation will be the discussion we had earlier, the fact that we may be sitting anyway, so that we should be not just scheduling for summer recess but scheduling to get on with things, and that be part of what the subcommittee considers.


Mr Duignan: On the same point, I agree. Maybe the subcommittee can look at putting them in priority so that the committee can start dealing with some of those summer recess items now. If the House is sitting through July and August, let's start at the top and work through the list.

The Vice-Chair: Just to finish up on that point, it would be my intention as acting Chair to have the subcommittee meet prior to next Thursday's meeting. If that is acceptable to the committee, then I would suggest that the first item on the agenda prior to going in camera on the Workers' Compensation Board would be to approve the subcommittee report. Mr O'Connor?


Mr O'Connor: I received a motion here placed on the desk by Mr Tilson. It's a Progressive Conservative motion. Seeing how we have a little bit of time, I wonder if we could we deal with this motion this morning. I think it may need an amendment to give the Provincial Auditor the authority under section 17. I'm not sure. I would think that it likely needs that amendment, but maybe we could deal with that now and have the work done.

It's something that I think, for some members of the committee, perhaps we are coming here a bit as a local MPP with concerns of services going to be cut and people being thrown into a position where they have no way of getting to work. It's something that does have not only a broader prospective concern, but also as local MPPs it has a concern to us. I wonder if we could deal with that this morning.

The Vice-Chair: As long as we have Mr Tilson's concurrence and the concurrence of the committee.

Mr Tilson: Madam Chair, I would welcome that. The only reason I didn't pursue that is because you had a number of items, but you seemed to have gone through the agenda. But if there is time, I would like to discuss that motion now.

The Vice-Chair: That's fine, then. I'm going to ask Mr Murphy to speak, since he -- well, actually, I think Mr Tilson would like to speak to the motion.

The Chair has a slight problem in that she has to go up to the House to speak now. So with the committee's indulgence, Mr Murphy could ask his question or make his comments from the chair. Then I'll leave the chair to Mr Murphy. Mr Tilson, would you like to make your comments?

Mr Tilson: Yes, Madam Chair.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson, Mr O'Connor has suggested that you need to move the motion again.

Mr Tilson: Very well, Madam Chair.

The Vice-Chair: I don't know whether that's true or not. You may as well do it.

Mr Tilson: I would be pleased to move it again. I concur, before I make the motion, that subject to what the Provincial Auditor has to say, Mr O'Connor is probably correct that we should be specific that it's under section 17 of the Audit Act, reference section 17, but I will read the motion as printed:

I move that the Provincial Auditor conduct an audit of the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority, GO Transit, to determine whether the agency's recent decisions to terminate and/or reduce services on certain of its routes while maintaining service on routes also served by municipal transit authorities and to areas outside the greater Toronto region resulted in the best use of the funds provided by the province to the agency and were consistent with the mandate of the agency to develop and operate an interregional transit system for people whose travel takes them through more than one regional municipality.

That is the motion, Mr Chairman.

The Acting Chair (Mr Tim Murphy): Would you like to speak to it?

Mr Tilson: Yes. There are several concerns, as Mr O'Connor has reiterated, that affect a number of ridings within and without the greater Toronto area. GO Transit, of course, is designed to operate inside the greater Toronto area, although a number of routes take it outside. One was cut from Guelph, I believe, but that was outside of the GTA. There are a number of areas that are still outside the GTA.

There have been accusations made to me privately, none of which have been substantiated, but accusations have been made by constituents in my riding suggesting that the decisions to make the cuts that have been made have been political, as opposed to for sound economic reasons. There have also been accusations made, none of which I have followed but which have come from different sources, that there may be municipal transit routes which are operated by municipal transit authorities operating along the same lines as the GO Transit, in other words, the accusation of duplication.

When I hear accusations such as this, along with the alarming concerns of constituents in my riding -- and Mr O'Connor, I know, is hearing the same concerns in his riding. We have an area called the greater Toronto area which GO is servicing and we have substantial cuts, and yet we are concerned that those cuts are being made on sound economic principles and not on political principles. We are also concerned because of the accusations as to whether or not GO is being administered in the way that it should and that perhaps those cuts shouldn't be made in the manner in which they are.

That is the intent of the motion. Many of these cuts will take place, as I understand it, in the fall. They have been announced now but they will take place in the fall. I don't know how much the auditor's staff have on their plates, but I would suspect that it would take a good chunk of the summer to make these inquiries. Hopefully, a report could be made in the fall.

The Acting Chair: Mr Tilson, given what you've outlined and what I think the purpose of your motion is, I've been advised by the auditor that in order to have adequate scope, it should make reference to a special audit under section 17 of the Audit Act. So you might want to amend your motion.

Mr Tilson: Yes, I thank Mr O'Connor for that and I'd ask the clerk's assistance as to where in the motion that should go. But the intent would be to have the appropriate wording in the motion referring specifically to a direction under section 17 of the --

The Acting Chair: Yes, the proposal would be to add, after the word "audit," "pursuant to section 17 of the Audit Act."

Mr Tilson: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Yes, I would make that amendment, subject to members of the committee.

Mr O'Connor: As has been pointed out by my friend and colleague Mr Tilson, this is something that has been raised to me by a number of constituents: some concerns about money-making, peak-hour operations being deleted. One must question why they would be trying to cut a service that is actually making money.

So, as has been related to me, I guess the concern is, when we take a look at public transportation, it's not actually in the business to make money. When a public transit authority does actually make some money, then I don't think that's reason to cut it. It seems rather ludicrous to me.

I know that for a community like Uxbridge, it would probably be into the next century before it would ever see the possibility of an extension of the GO train, though I'd like to see that happen at some point in the future. GO Transit will, I'm sure, do that when it feels it's the best time, and I'm sure it's got a manner in which it does these sorts of things.

But it's been pointed out to me that in the past there has been a private operator run the service and made a profit at it and that the numbers they needed to run at a profit are still the numbers using the transit authority today. So I find it rather difficult to see that a service that appears to even be making money would be cut like this.

I guess if there are alternatives that are shown to people who have been using this -- and it's not like they can turn around and catch the TTC, because there is no TTC in the outlying areas that the GO Transit does reach out into, and I think we need to take a look at that seriously.

I support the motion that Mr Tilson has raised and I'm glad that he's going to make that amendment to make sure that the auditor has the ability to take a look at it. It certainly is a concern and I know that Uxbridge council is very concerned about this. In fact I believe it's probably going to be calling GO Transit to come and explain the situation as well. But perhaps this committee should be taking a look into it further and just see the reasons behind some of this, especially when something is making money, that it should be cut just seems beyond belief.


Mr Robert Frankford (Scarborough East): I'm supportive of this. I have two GO stations in my riding, which are not being cut, but I appreciate the opportunity of just having a little input on this.

I'm very interested in the overall economics of transportation and I hope this audit would give some indication of the broader social cost-benefit analysis of services like GO transportation which have the potential for reducing car dependency. I'm strongly convinced that really has very broad, desirable effects.

Mr Callahan: This is something that was raised by, I think, Charles Beer in the House, this very issue, and it's certainly very germane to areas such as Brampton.

We've had an issue there for probably 15 years, I guess, where they required double tracking between Brampton and Bramalea to increase the GO service on that line. It has never been done. It could have been done for $10 million. Now it's probably up around $100 million.

Mr Duignan: That's about what it's going to cost.

Mr Callahan: Yes. The other thing that always amazed me was that the owner of the rail system -- why we could never have gotten together with them to establish some sort of timing for freight trains so you wouldn't have to expend this money, but you could in fact schedule more GO service. The people from my community have to drive into Toronto if they work in that area, or Rexdale. I don't know whether you've ever been on Highway 401, but's it's like wall-to-wall traffic. If we're really serious about eliminating the massive amount of traffic on our roads, we should really be very seriously looking at not a cutback in GO service but expanding it.

I'm going to vote in favour of the motion. I think we are being very foolish in using GO service as a method of cost saving. I know the trains out of my community -- they had to put doubledeckers on because they were so popular and so well used.

If you look at the United States, that's essentially how the US has been able to eliminate the high cost of housing in the urban area. People were able to move out to the suburbs where the prices were more reasonable because they had access through a commuter system to the places of business. We had that, and certainly when GO was instituted way back when, I was very excited about it; I think most people were. It in fact provided a very good opportunity to limit the traffic on our highways and at the same time give access to points north -- Barrie, even beyond Barrie -- to allow people to take a reasonable trip into Toronto or wherever.

This may also be the reason why our cities are becoming so congested in terms of people living in the city, because they don't want to have to go through the problem of driving in from the -- I don't want to call it the "boonies," but certainly from the suburbs.

Mr O'Connor: Don't call my riding the "boonies." It's just a rural riding.

Mr Callahan: All right. I really think we should conduct that audit into the termination and reduction of services. I think they looked at the routes where there was a tremendous amount of service and one would think that if there's a tremendous amount of service, that means there's a tremendous amount of demand.

It certainly doesn't make any sense to me to reduce something that's successful in an effort to curtail costs. Surely to heaven, the rates on GO are high enough that they should have been operating at probably a profit or certainly a break-even point. I'd be very interested in finding out whether or not that's the case -- I think that may be part of the audit -- as to whether or not those rates were significant enough to provide a break-even or perhaps below break-even.

Finally, I wish I had the authority to investigate the TTC. This is going a little far afield, but I think it's important as well. The TTC charges people the same rate whether they're travelling two stations or one station. In London, they have a process whereby you get a ticket and you pay from point A to point B. If you go beyond B you have to get another ticket. It seems to me that's fair and equitable to people that they should be able to travel. That's what we do on GO. If you're coming from Oakville, you'd pay less, more if you're coming from Burlington or more if you're coming from Hamilton.

I think this is a timely and important issue to be considered and I applaud the member for bringing it forward, even though, as I say, it was raised in the House earlier, and I think it's a matter that public accounts should look at.

It also becomes particularly germane in that the move seems to be afoot to sell the rolling stock and lease it back. I'd be very interested in what impact that will have in terms of the cost of providing service to future GO expansion, whether or not that was a wise -- now, I'm not sure. Maybe the auditor by doing that would be getting involved in policy, but it seems to me we could try to determine -- stop me, Mr Auditor, if I'm going too far afield or if it would be an impossible task. I'd like to find out what the impact is of our selling the rolling stock. Are we creating a scenario that will result in even further reductions or further lessening of the availability of rail from points outside of Toronto? I don't know whether that would be part and parcel of this or whether we need an amendment to the motion to be able to enjoin that additional feature.

The Acting Chair: We would need an amendment.

Mr Tilson: To be fair, I tried to make the --

Mr Duignan: Could we share some time here?

Mr Tilson: You're right; I apologize. I just wanted to clarify that point, that hopefully the motion is broad enough to cover that.

The Acting Chair: If I may, Mr Callahan, the auditor indicates that in order to do what you want to do, the motion would need to be amended.

Mr Callahan: All right. I would so then amend it, that the audit include the impact, negative or positive, of the sale, the proposed sale -- I don't know whether they've done it yet -- of the rolling stock and the leaseback by GO. Is that enough? The auditor's nodding his head yes, so I would so add that as an amendment to the motion.

The Acting Chair: Is that a friendly amendment, Mr Tilson?

Mr Duignan: Mr Chair, I thought there was a rotation.

The Acting Chair: Yes, there is a rotation. I have a speaking list. I'm just asking the mover if it's --

Mr Tilson: I prefer that be strictly an amendment as opposed to a friendly amendment.

The Acting Chair: Okay, fine. Mr Duignan.

Mr Duignan: I just remembered I have actually two GO lines in my riding, the Milton line and the Georgetown line, and it was always a problem to get the service extended to Georgetown and beyond because of the whole situation with regard to the rail lines owned either by CP or CN. I was wondering if, when the auditor is looking at this whole area of GO Transit, it would look at the whole question of how much GO gives to CN and CP for the use or the lease of the track and whether that's actually value for money, whether it's higher than what it should be; that type of thing.

Mr Peters: May I speak to this for just a moment? With your permission, if I may broaden the point a little bit, we have a number of motions before us to look into special things. As you may recall, on the Workers' Compensation Board, it helped the committee greatly, before we even conducted the audit, by inviting officials from the various organizations for clarification.


With the points that are coming in to this motion about the GO Transit service now, I find myself a little bit at sea as to the focus, where we want to go with this. In order to help me focus better and help the committee maybe in getting some of the questions resolved already beforehand, I was wondering if, after dealing with the motion, once you deal with it and pass it, for example, whether you might not want to invite officials of the organization before you, saying you have passed the motion and you would like to explore various issues with them. That would give me a better opportunity to serve you better in this regard. So I would like to expand that. To answer your specific question, that could be an issue that you could raise in the discussion with officials, and we can certainly follow up in the audit.

Mr Duignan: I have a concern with that. That could have an impact on the rates and on charges. Are the GO Transit services subsidizing the freight services of CN and CP? That's the question I would like to have answered.

Mr Frankford: I welcome that suggestion because, although I didn't propose any motion around the broader cost-effectiveness issue, I would very much welcome the opportunity of questioning some authoritative people on that.

The Acting Chair: Maybe what we can do is deal with this motion, and if it is passed, we can proceed to either a motion or put it to the subcommittee, and the amendment as well, but I meant the motion in the broader sense and then deal with the suggestion of the auditor. Is there any more discussion on either the amendment or the motion?

Mr Callahan: Mr Tilson raises a good point in response to the auditor's suggestion, which I think is a good one, that we have somebody here from GO, but whom do we invite now? Mr Parsons's term has run out. Do we invite him? If we do, you'd have to pay him to come, I would think -- maybe not; Lou's a pretty flexible guy.

Mr Duignan: The vice-chair.

Mr Callahan: Well, who is the vice-chair? Mr Tilson suggests that maybe it's Dale Martin.

The Acting Chair: I think that's a debate for the motion beyond this one.

Mr O'Connor: I think that the motion as Mr Tilson has placed it, with his minor amendment, was pretty succinct. It dealt with an issue that's imminent. It's something that's going to happen in the very near future, and it's something that I think for a lot of committee members and for people living within the greater Toronto area is of concern right now. I think if we broaden things too far, we're not going to be able to deal with the issue before us. With that, perhaps Mr Callahan will rethink his amendment. In any case, time is running rather short here.

Mr Duignan: Very briefly, I agree with Mr Tilson's motion, but I think we have to look at what Mr Callahan and I said, because that has a bearing on the costs of the operations of GO, that and some other issues. I think we've got to look at all aspects.

Mr Callahan: I'd accept Mr Duignan's amendment as a friendly amendment to my amendment if we vote on the amendment first.

The Acting Chair: I'm not sure he moved one.

Mr Tilso then: I believe we should put the question, Mr Chairman.

The Acting Chair: I think so. We will vote on the amendment to the motion and then the motion itself. I don't have it. Do you have it there?

Clerk Pro Tem: Mr Callahan moved that the motion of Mr Tilson be amended by adding the words "and that the audit include the impact, negative or positive, of the proposed sale of rolling stock and leaseback provisions."

The Acting Chair: All those in favour of Mr Callahan's motion, just raise your hands: four. All those opposed? It fails to carry.

All those in favour of Mr Tilson's motion? Unanimous vote again. All right, now do we want to deal with the issue of inviting somebody to come and speak? Does someone want to move that?

Mr Tilson: I think the Provincial Auditor's comments are valid.

Mr Duignan: Why don't we have the subcommittee deal with this issue, because we should have somebody from CP and CN here?

Mr Tilson: Agreed.

The Acting Chair: Why doesn't Mr Tilson move that we have the subcommittee deal with --

Mr Tilson: So moved. Do we have to do that?

The Acting Chair: Can't we just do that by agreement? It seems we can do that by agreement.

Mr Frankford: There are advocacy organizations, such as I believe Transport 2000, and can I suggest the possibility of inviting them being added?

The Acting Chair: I think that can be done by consent through the subcommittee. Do we have a motion to adjourn?

Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): Just before we adjourn, could we just have members of the subcommittee stay for two minutes afterwards to try to determine when we would meet?

The Acting Chair: Okay, a motion by Mr Duignan to adjourn. We are adjourned. Thank you very much.

The committee adjourned at 1156.