Thursday 14 April 1994

School board value-for-money audits

Non-profit housing

Draft report: Special education


Chair / Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Crozier, Bruce (Essex South/-Sud L)

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

*Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)

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

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

*Marchese, Rosario (Fort York ND)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

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

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre 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 Perruzza

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

Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L) for Mr Cordiano

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC)

Martin, Tony, parliamentary assistant to Minister of Education and Training

Office of the Provincial Auditor:

Peters, Erik, Provincial Auditor

Peall, Gary R., director, ministry and agency audit branchess

Clerk / Greffier: Decker, Todd

Staff / Personnel:

Anderson, Anne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

Murray, Paul, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1010 in committee room 2.


The Acting Chair (Mr Bruce Crozier): I know the members won't be any more sympathetic than normal, but this is the first committee I've chaired, so if I mess up, take that into consideration. I'll also apologize for names because I haven't yet learned everybody's name.

We're going to pick up where we left off last week and that was the discussion of Mr Callahan's motion. We have Paul here this morning to answer any questions.

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): I've just spoken with the auditor and I think this motion could be made a little better. I'm going to ask him if he would guide us through the changes that he suggested to the motion.

Mr Erik Peters: The motion as it is before you has two parts. The first paragraph deals essentially with establishing the principle and the second one gets a little bit into how the minister should apply this particular principle.

Starting with that premise, I was wondering if you might not want to expand a little bit the statement of principle and put the how-to-implement section into a preamble, let's say, "In debating this motion, the committee considered the following options," and go into the details, because the rest would get the minister into whether or not he can apply section 234 of his act or other things. There may be other things that may be available to them to achieve the purpose which the committee has in mind.

The specific suggestion that follows out of that would be to broaden the first paragraph by adding at the end of the second line, after the words "school boards," the words "be subject to."

Mr Callahan: Is everybody with us?

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Mr Peters, if you wouldn't mind repeating that last part.

Mr Peters: In the first paragraph of the motion, after the words "school boards," insert the words "be subject to" and remove the word "conduct" and then make a full stop after the word "audits" and take out "relating to the expenditure of funds transferred from the province" and add a new sentence, which would go, "In doing so, the minister may wish to avail himself of section 17 of the Audit Act." Then I would recommend the removal of the second paragraph. Can I just read the whole thing?

It would read -- especially, Mr Callahan, if you're in agreement; it's your motion -- "That the committee recommends that the Minister of Education and Training implement the necessary steps to require that school boards be subject to value-for-money audits. In doing so, the minister may wish to avail himself of section 17 of the Audit Act."

Just a reminder, section 17 itself essentially says that a minister of the crown, the public accounts committee or the Legislative Assembly as a whole may wish to instruct the auditor to conduct certain audits. It then has a second provision in there under which I can accept these assignments based on the availability of resources to my office, whether I have the resources to do so.

To just follow up a little bit, we were discussing at length the matter of inspection audits, and under the Audit Act there are two kinds of audit, two levels of duties that I have. There is a lot of "shall" -- the Provincial Auditor shall do this and shall do that -- most of which result in the report outlined in section 12, but the inspection audits are introduced with the word "may." So we're dealing here with the inspection audits, which have certain optional features in them. The biggest optional feature is really that they shall not prevent me from carrying out my other duties, so that's why the "subject to resource availability" is in there.

This amendment would, therefore, open it quite wide for the minister. The instruction is to make school boards subject to value-for-money audits, but how he actually goes about it, which auditors he appoints to do so, whether it's private sector auditors, his own internal auditors or through section 17 the Provincial Auditor, would be at the option of the minister, and it would be given a wider range of discretion as to how to install it. But the committee has established the principle that school boards are subject to value-for-money audits. With that I cede the floor.

Mr Callahan: I thank the auditor for that, but my recollection was that at the last committee meeting we had referred this to the subcommittee to make appropriate changes, particularly in light of what we had been told by Anne last meeting about section 234. So the auditor has done it for us. He has suggested a recital. Maybe that's something we're going to have to do ourselves, unless, Erik, you've got a suggestion.

Mr Peters: The suggestion would be, actually, to build on the second paragraph in terms of stating that, in discussing this motion, the committee considered that the minister may want to avail himself of powers given to him under the Education Act to ensure that audits of a value-for-money nature are conducted and that there is a report on such audits to him, or that the minister may wish to consider making grants to school boards conditional on boards agreeing to have value-for-money audits conducted. That would sort of capture the spirit, I think, of your two points and put that as a suggestion to the minister.

Mr Callahan: So really what you're saying is that the substance of paragraph 2 should be incorporated into a recital just to simply let him know what we considered. Is that amendment agreed by all members?

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): Could we have some legal thoughts on this, whether you think this may alleviate some problems, or do you see any problems in that?

Mr Paul Murray: I don't know that it really raises any legal issues. Certainly the changes to the first paragraph that the auditor suggests don't raise any problems.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): What does section 17 say?

Mr Murray: When I gave the opinion a couple of weeks ago, I gave the opinion in the context of this committee's power to direct the auditor to conduct value-for-money audits. It's a special assignment section. It's the section under which this committee directs special assignments. That section also refers to ministers and to the Legislative Assembly, so whatever powers this committee has to direct special assignments, the minister would have.

The problems that may arise in section 17 are all the problems that I raised a couple of weeks ago in the context of the committee trying to direct value-for-money audits, and that was, it's not entirely clear, although it was my opinion the committee would have the authority to direct the auditor to do a value-for-money audit of school boards.

Similarly, the minister would have that authority, but it's quite likely that there might be legal arguments against that position, whereas the other options didn't get into the problems raised by section 17 and that's why those were also raised at the time.


Those are the only things to keep in mind with this approach, but the way the Provincial Auditor suggested changing the motion is still making it general in the sense that it's still recommending to the minister that the minister take the necessary steps to require value-for-money audits. The minister could take whatever steps are available to them, including the ones we mentioned in the second paragraph, and then just add to that, in doing so, the minister may use section 17, but it wouldn't be limited to section 17.

Mr Marchese: I just wanted to support the general direction of what Mr Peters has recommended. I was originally concerned about requiring board auditors to conduct audits because that would obviously be a great expense to the boards. Doing this gives the minister the authority under that act to be able to conduct these audits, which I think we're all in agreement with, and therefore keeping the cost at the provincial level as opposed to the board level. But I think we not only state the principle of wanting to do this but also are instructing or directing the minister to choose the option that gets us to that audit, and I think that's what we all want. So I support your direction.

Mr Callahan: If there's no further discussion on it, then perhaps we can vote on it. I don't want to belabour the point. We've all been through this.

Mr O'Connor: The only other question I might have would be the gender language in there.

Mr Callahan: Yes, his or her.

Mr Peters: We drafted in a hurry. I apologize.

Mr Callahan: But other than that, we've been through this for a long time. Actually, this will spur on the general amendments to the Audit Act which will make unnecessary the passing of specific motions to deal with it.

Mr Peters: Mr Chair, may I make a brief comment just to put you on notice that I would very much like to present to you in the course of this meeting a letter in which I am proposing that the committee consider potentially amending the definition of "inspection audits" under the Audit Act so that these inspection audits could include value-for-money audits. I just want to put you on notice, following up on the comment you just made.

If that's acceptable to the committee later on -- that's for later discussion -- but because the point has been raised as to whether or not the power for the minister is there to instruct me to do value-for-money audits or this committee to do value-for-money audits, I have a second step in mind after this happens that the committee may wish to debate after.

Mr Tilson: Mr Chair, I wonder if it would be appropriate to do that now. I know it's with respect to inspection audits generally, but maybe we should hear what you have to say before we vote on this motion, because that's what this motion is all about, only it deals specifically with school boards.

Mr Peters: The motion would of course come from this committee. My proposal is merely to outline some of the issues that we are phrasing and making a suggestion that you might want to build in.

The Acting Chair: Would it change the intent of this motion at all?

Mr Peters: No. It would further the execution of the motion.

The Acting Chair: I'd suggest, though, that if it wouldn't change the intent of it, this motion should stand on its own, if that's what Mr Callahan wants. It's his motion.

Mr Tilson: Quite frankly, the reason I raised that initially was that, are we in fact putting forward a meaningless resolution? I mean, I support it. I don't want the member to misunderstand that.

Mr Callahan: I'm offended.

Mr Tilson: But are we putting forward a meaningless resolution? I don't know. I'm assuming we may be.

The Acting Chair: I'm still concerned that if it does change the intent of this motion, his motion should stand on its own.

Mr Peters: May I just give Mr Tilson the assurance, though, that it does not make this a meaningless motion.

Mr O'Connor: Mr Chair, on a point of order: I appreciate what the auditor has brought forward for us for discussion, but it's something we haven't discussed at the subcommittee meeting and I think it would be more appropriate that the subcommittee have an opportunity to discuss whether or not we're ready to move forward in that sort of direction. I would like to defer that area of discussion to the subcommittee, as most areas usually do go through that process.

The Acting Chair: If you'll allow what I'm trying to do, that isn't even on the table yet, so you can discuss it then.

Mr Callahan: Move the motion.

The Acting Chair: All those in favour? Carried.

Mr Callahan: Mr Chair, with reference to Mr O'Connor's motion, this issue has been discussed ad nauseam. It's been in about three reports of the public accounts committees over the years. We had correspondence from the Minister of Finance that the matter was before them, that they were considering it and that it was going to be brought forward.

I know Mr O'Connor may have raised that point of order so we could get on with the first point, which we've dealt with now. I think it's a matter that we should again pass and send on to the minister, not to be pejorative or to be nasty to him. I think in the course of events other events have overtaken this and the response we got from the Minister of Finance was genuine, that he wanted to expand the authority of the auditor. Maybe just another motion to him to remind him that this has been going on for quite some time might be appropriate.


The Acting Chair: We'll deal with item 2. Do you have a notice of motion, Mr Callahan?

Mr Callahan: Yes. I'll give it again:

Whereas the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association prepared and distributed a document entitled Ontario Needs Non-Profit Housing; and

Whereas the Minister of Housing referred to such publication for the purpose of "setting the record straight," by letter of January 28, 1994; and

Whereas some 2,000 copies of this document were distributed; and

Whereas such document contains several incorrect and misleading statements attributed to the Provincial Auditor;

I move that the standing committee on public accounts require from the Minister of Housing a public apology for disseminating a document which inaccurately reflected findings of the Provincial Auditor on the issue of non-profit housing in his 1992-93 annual report;

Or, in the alternative, that the Minister of Housing distribute a letter correcting the inaccuracies contained in the document Ontario Needs Non-Profit Housing, prepared by Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, to all those who received the original document.

Perhaps I could just speak to that. For those who are perhaps not committee members and are here this week, the matter was discussed last week. It actually came to light as a result of a document that's cited in here, Ontario Needs Non-Profit Housing, which was prepared by the non-profit housing association, which attributed certain comments to the auditor -- I believe there were four of them -- which I picked up in a document that was sent to me by my non-profit association, which is Peel Non-Profit Housing Corp.

When I saw them -- I didn't see all of them; I saw a couple of them -- to me it didn't sound like what I had heard at public accounts and I felt it was important that the auditor be put on notice of it, and he was. In fact you will recall on the last occasion he brought to us I think two others or maybe three others that I had missed.

We heard that this document had been disseminated to some 2,000 groups and in fact it was disseminated with a letter from the Minister of Housing, I suppose the most succinct way I can put it, endorsing it as further evidence of contradiction to the arguments made by landlords, I guess, and to those people who would see an alternative to non-profit housing.

I have no difficulty with that, nor do any of us. I think a minister has the right to do that, but in so doing she either negligently -- and I hope that's what it was -- or deliberately -- I hope that's not the case; I think it was negligently -- endorsed this document. It went out under her covering letter, which gives it a good deal more emphasis, and it would give a good deal more emphasis regardless of what party the minister belonged to.


In fact there was evidence from my own non-profit organization, Peel Non-Profit, that in response to a letter from the auditor concerning these inaccuracies that I had pointed out and he had pointed out, they said the reason they sent the letter to me and to others was that they were relying on the letter of the minister and this strong endorsement and indication by her that the document was one to be taken verbatim and every word in it was gospel. That was not the case.

I think any time it happens that any one of us makes a mistake in terms of putting forward information, we are required to correct it and I think that's the twofold either/or. I'm sure I may have difficulty getting the first one, but I would think the second one as a stand-down position should certainly be done and an apology to the groups who relied on it. If any minister is to retain the support and the confidence of these groups, where there's an error they have to say, "I'm sorry and it won't happen again" or "It was an oversight, and we apologize."

There may have been actions taken -- I'm not sure the items that were incorrectly stated would have produced that, but there might have been positions taken by non-profit groups out there. There are a whole slew of them. Not wanting to put them down in any way, shape or form, these are volunteers from communities. They're not sophisticated Philadelphia lawyers who are going to understand all of the ramifications of the legalese and all the rest of it.

I think when the minister does that it could result in one of these organizations having either a downside to it because they follow it or perhaps losing confidence in any further documents that come out or losing confidence in anything further -- and I'd say this as a last resort because I would hope it never happened, but they might lose confidence in the particular ministers involved in their whole process. I think that would be to the detriment of Ontario.

Non-profit housing in my community certainly is needed and it serves a purpose for those people who cannot afford to go the usual route. In some of the non-profit housing projects that I've attended the openings of, I've been very impressed by the fact that there is a very strong neighbourly feeling to the place, which you don't necessarily get in an apartment building or you don't necessarily get even in a residential area where everybody owns their own house. I've found there, in knocking on doors, many people don't even know who their neighbour is, whereas, particularly in non-profit housing layouts where they are single-family homes or detached, the people seem to be very community oriented.

I think it's very important that we maintain the integrity of this by ensuring that they can rely with confidence on what the minister says or what the minister offers to them. That's the purpose of this.

There will be those among us who will take perhaps a deeper look at it and say that this is a partisan move and that this is simply to embarrass the minister. I suppose you can read that into it too, but I can assure you that had this been the minister of even my party, if we had been in government, I would have urged this, because I think it's very important that we maintain the integrity of the whole system.

The Acting Chair: I have about eight minutes that Mr Callahan took and I was prepared to suggest that we have about 10 minutes each.

Mr Callahan: Did I speak that long?

The Acting Chair: Yes.

Mr Callahan: Good heavens.

Mr O'Connor: I don't think we need that.

The Acting Chair: Maybe you won't need that. Good, you don't have to take it. Do we have any comments from this side of the table?

Mr Callahan: I can see the votes gathering there.

Mr O'Connor: I think, Mr Chair, that the minister has acknowledged she's willing to send something out in writing. Mr Callahan's motion has an "or," an alternative: The minister would distribute a letter correcting the inaccuracies.

As the member succinctly put it, there was a turn of events here that led to a letter to be sent out. It certainly did stir up some dandruff, and I think the minister is willing to move in a direction to correct that -- I think that he can accept that as well -- as she stated clearly on the record in Hansard in the Legislature.

Mr Callahan: Can I just inquire of the member whether or not -- I think it's important that this committee gets a copy of that correction letter because, as you know, in government --

Mr O'Connor: I think you've asked for that and it has been recorded in Hansard and it probably will get to us at that point now.

Mr Callahan: But as you understand, whatever political stripe is in power, that letter could be -- hopefully within our lifetime, but these things can take a long time. So I would appreciate it if we could get a copy of that when it's sent out so we know that it has been done.

Mr O'Connor: I think that's a reasonable request and I'm sure that the minister's staff are waiting by patiently and making note of your request, Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: Oh, all right.

The Acting Chair: Are you ready for the question? All those in favour? Opposed? Carried.

I'm informed the Chair can request a copy of that letter for the committee, if the committee would like that.

Mr Callahan: All right.

The Acting Chair: Now, we have an item 3, which is the special education report, but I'm wondering if we should deal with the Provincial Auditor's earlier suggestion that he had a -- no?

Mr O'Connor: I would refer it to the subcommittee for some discussion.

The Acting Chair: How do you determine that?

Mr Tilson: With respect, it's been a topic we've been talking about for years.

Mr O'Connor: Absolutely.

Mr Tilson: I think we should hear it now. Is that what you said?

Mr O'Connor: No. We've talked about this report on special education. I thought we could move to that and refer the auditor's request to the subcommittee so we could perhaps deal with that in a more expeditious fashion.

Mr Tilson: I'd like to hear his letter now.

Mr Callahan: Can I make a suggestion? I think it's important that we deal with the special education item. It has been deferred a long time. If we have time afterwards, we can deal with that motion, or we can refer it to the subcommittee. I notice Mrs Cunningham is here and I'm sure she's here for that purpose.

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): No, I actually came to listen to you this morning.

Mr Callahan: Oh, is that right?

The Acting Chair: It would seem to me that we have the suggestion over here that we move on to the special education item. Not to set you on the back burner, but if that's all right, then item 3.


The Acting Chair: I'm advised that the committee should consider whether it wants to continue in closed session on this draft, because it is in draft form.

Mr Marchese: Someone should explain, whether it's draft or not, why it should be in private as opposed to public. Is there anything in here that's legal --

The Acting Chair: I can take a stab at it, but we can save a lot of time by asking --

Mr Marchese: My sense is that this can be very public, unless someone can convince me that it shouldn't be.

The Acting Chair: There's no problem with it. It's totally up to you. So there's no reason to consider it in private? Okay.

Mr O'Connor: Draft reports quite often are dealt with that way, dealt with in in camera situations.

The Acting Chair: Does everybody have a copy of the draft report?

Mrs Cunningham: Sorry, I don't. I don't know why I wouldn't have it.

Mr Marchese: This is the copy we got about a month ago. Is that the same one?

The Acting Chair: Yes.


Mr Marchese: We're going to stay put.

The Acting Chair: There was just the suggestion that since it's in draft form, we may want to, but there doesn't seem to be any need to do that.

Mrs Cunningham: Mr Chairman, first of all, I apologize that I haven't looked at this. I see the date on it. Maybe I didn't get it because I'm not normally on this committee and we've missed within our own group.

Is the purpose of the meeting today to go through this and ask questions of the auditor and perhaps deal with it again, or is the purpose of the meeting to finish it?

The Acting Chair: I would think the purpose of the meeting is to go through the draft and see if it's in the form the committee wants it.

Mrs Cunningham: Okay. I would feel very comfortable if that were the case.


The Acting Chair: Might I suggest that we take up to 15 minutes per caucus, or is it generally just an open discussion?

Mr Callahan: Mr Chairman, why don't we get through the report and save questions till the end, because otherwise we will wind up not finishing the report. I think it's important that we get this report into the House. I would hope that when we get it into the House it could be debated. It's a significant issue of concern.

Mr Marchese: Mr Callahan, were you suggesting that the researcher carry us through this report?

Mr Callahan: Yes. She can take us generally through it. If you want my assurance, I've read it and I think it's marvellous. I think it says everything we'd like to say.

Mrs Cunningham: Mr Chairman, if I leave to speak in the House just for five minutes, I'll just leave and come back again. I want you to know it's not because of anything the researcher may say.

The Acting Chair: Bob, do you think you have comments or questions as we go through this? I do.

Mr Callahan: The practice we've used in the past, although we've never stuck to it, was that the researcher would take us through it and then when we finished it we would ask questions, unless some burning question arises.

The Acting Chair: Good. Let's go.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): I think we should have a 30-minute debate about how we should undertake this.

The Acting Chair: No. We're going to do it now.

Ms Anne Anderson: Does the committee want me to read it or just go paragraph by paragraph? It's, "On page 1, have you got any comments?" Okay, we'll start at page 1, the introduction. My intention here was just to set the scene, what the committee was doing and how it went about it. The first paragraph talks of the Provincial Auditor's report and how the committee had concerns about special education, the second paragraph about the hearings the committee had, and the third paragraph expresses appreciation to the minister, ministry and to the auditor. Were there any questions or comments on anything on page 1?

The second page: I initially did an overview on special education, looking first at the roles and responsibilities that had been established under the Education Act and where special education had initiated with Bill 82. It goes on talking about the ministry having overall responsibility for the development of legislation and the school board's responsible for the delivery. The second paragraph on page 2 just establishes that there are the identification and placement review committees and special education advisory committees. Are there any comments or questions on that part of the overview section?

Mr Callahan: Could I make a suggestion? There are members here on the committee today who were not here for the hearings and perhaps, Anne, if you could just summarize the pages, what they're all about, and they can read along at the same time and maybe get a feeling for it.

Ms Anderson: Okay. The overview of special education and the roles and responsibilities: Special education received formal legislative power from the Education Amendment Act, which was Bill 82, that was passed in 1980. Before that, special education had been provided by school boards, but it was done --

Mrs Cunningham: What page are you on?

Ms Anderson: I'm at the beginning of page 2.

Bill 82 mandated that children who are identified with special needs should have special education given to them. Under that act and the regulations, school boards are required to put in place procedures for identification of the learning abilities and needs of the pupils and the programs and services that must be available to all those pupils who have been identified as being exceptional.

Each board has to have an identification and placement review committee that examines the students who are referred to it and decides whether or not they're exceptional and recommends a placement for those students. The legislation also requires that each board prepare a plan of its special education programs and services and has to ensure that its schools comply with the plan and submit the plan to the minister biannually.

To summarize that, the ministry really has overall responsibility for the development of the legislation and the school boards are responsible for the delivery of the programs and services. Each board has the flexibility to be able to tailor the individual programs to meet the specific needs of the children who are identified as exceptional within their own jurisdiction.

The ministry's six regional offices should ensure that the legislation and policies from the ministry are communicated to the school boards within their region.

As well as these IPRCs, each board has to have, by legislation, a SEAC, a special education advisory committee that's made up of board members and representatives of the local parent advocacy groups. The legislation says a SEAC can make recommendations to the board about any matter that affects the establishment and development of special education programs and services for the exceptional pupils that have been identified in that board.

Are there any comments or questions or changes people would like in that initial overview?

Mr Callahan: I notice you're going to get into a table, which is I guess the table outlined in the Special Education Information Handbook. I notice there's nothing in here to cover -- or maybe it's covered under "Emotional Disturbance," under "Social Maladjustment." A group came in to see me yesterday -- I'm trying to think of the name of the disorder; it's where you've got a tic.

Ms Anderson: Tourette's?

Mr Callahan: Yes. Apparently, these Tourette's people can be learning-disabled as well. They talk about autism, hearing impairment and so on; they specify particular disabilities. I wonder if, for clarity's sake, we shouldn't just make a note of that Tourette's disorder. As I understand it, one in 200 citizens has it and it's a very debilitating disorder, involving speech impairment and so on. I'd like to see it added to our report, at least by way of footnote, that we'd like to see the information handbook specifically deal with that disorder.

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I would just suggest that that is probably inappropriate, in that if we start to deal with specific afflictions, we can probably draft a substantial list. I would think Tourette's syndrome would probably come under the "Behaviour" title, knowing that Tourette's manifests itself in some very mild and in some very extreme ways.

Mr Callahan: You may be right, but the handbook specifically deals with a number of disorders: learning disabilities, speech impairment, language impairment, hearing impairment, autism.

Mr Paul Johnson: If I may interject, Tourette's is a specific syndrome or affliction, and there is a multitude of those. It would come under the heading of, for example, behaviour or social maladjustment. I might even question why autism is in there. I just think that if we start to list them, we can certainly establish a significant list of specific afflictions that would come under any of these five headings.


Mr Callahan: Let me give a specific reason I think it should be in there. I had never heard of it before I met with these people and I think most members of the Legislature probably haven't heard of it, or maybe some have. There are infinitesimal facilities available in communities to deal with these kids. In fact, what was related to me by the constituents who came to me was that you can't even get a diagnosis. You can in certain areas. Kids who are in the catchment area of Mississauga Hospital can be identified and can get treatment, but in my riding there's nothing available and I wonder if that's not a situation that exists in many of the ridings of Ontario.

By specifically referring to it, maybe we'll get the attention of the -- if I had realized this when the ministry was here, I would have specifically asked those questions. That's the reason I'd like to see it specifically identified, if only something like a question: Is Tourette's included within, as you say, the general category of --

The Acting Chair: The auditor has a comment.

Mr Peters: Anne, you probably are making the same point. Page 24 of the report deals with this issue, admittedly in more general terms. That's probably what you wanted to say, Anne.

There was discussion, and towards the end of that paragraph, above "Integration," it says, "The ministry is working on updating definitions and reviewing their appropriate use." The whole section deals with defining exceptionalities and raises the point we pointed out, that they have not been updated since 1984.

Mr Callahan: Maybe that's a better place to put it.

Mr Peters: Yes. The choice of the committee is either to leave it as is and assume it will be included in that action, or to put a bracket in that says "such as" the particular --

Mr Callahan: I'd be content with that. That may be a better place to put it.

The Acting Chair: Anne has a comment, and then Mr Frankford.

Ms Anderson: My understanding of the definitions in the handbook when it was originally established was that they were based on the needs the children would have as opposed to the actual disability they had, that it would based on whether you had a hearing need or a physical need. People who had a particular problem, say a physical problem -- they were a double amputee or something of that nature -- may not necessarily have a special need in other areas. The focus was on needs rather than on the actual disease itself.

Perhaps the suggestion of putting "such as Tourette's" as an example would work as opposed to listing it separately.

Mr Callahan: As long as it's identified in here.

Mr Robert Frankford (Scarborough East): I'm grateful to the auditor for pointing out the section on page 24, because I think that largely covers the generic question. I know Tourette's is relatively common. It would be quite interesting to know whether it's been the policy in assessment committees to define it as an exceptionality, whether they have already been using this list of exceptionalities and are able to fit this particular diagnostic category into it. I'm sure there must be other diagnostic categories where people would be making a case for specific inclusion. It may be something we would want to make some recommendation about, but maybe the situation is actually covered by the approach that's discussed on page 24.

The Acting Chair: Ms Marland?

Mrs Cunningham: Cunningham, but that's all right.

The Acting Chair: I apologized at the outset about names.

Mrs Cunningham: Actually, that's a compliment, thank you. I've been wanting to use somebody else's name for a long time.

The Acting Chair: I'm going to go with what's in front of me. I should have known; I've run into you before.

Mrs Cunningham: I strongly agree with the comments of my colleague. In fact, when we looked at this before, I'm sure there were others who had the same concern. I wouldn't have expected -- well, I don't know who would put that kind of recommendation together, because it is a political one. We had looked at the exceptionality list as part of the discussion on Bill 4 and had asked that the minister of the day look at it. I think that is worthy of further discussion. Some of us perhaps can go back to those deliberations in Bill 4.

Mr Chair, that's why I asked about the intent today, because I felt that there were enough issues in here -- and now looking at it, there are enough issues -- that we're going to have to spend some time on these recommendations to change them in some way, based on our own concerns on behalf of our constituencies and on those hearings, where we talked about hard-to-serve children and went far beyond that into some of the recommendations that are here today.

To my way of thinking, that really is the purpose of this report, to expand upon the auditor's report as a result not only of his audit but of some of the discussions under Bill 4 which really do relate to this. I think we've got a wonderful opportunity and I would strongly support some recommendations for change on the exceptionalities list, even if that's the only recommendation we make, that other categories be considered as per our discussions under Bill 4 and the original report of the auditor. So I'm agreeing.

I have a question too. It is under the special education pupils and the numbers. I was interested to see that this 8% number is what the researcher and the auditor found, because when Bill 80 was discussed, many of the public couldn't believe that exceptional pupils would account for this proportion of the education population; I think most school boards used 5%. If we include blind and deaf children, I'm sure that we're probably approaching maybe 9% or whatever. It's a very large number and I think it's very important to policy that we know that number. I'm happy to see that their researcher has concluded at least what we thought we would see during the deliberations of Bill 80.

Ms Anderson: So you don't want any changes to that.

Mrs Cunningham: No. I'm just happy to see those numbers. Because of the IPRCs and the special education advisory committee's work, maybe the 1993-94 numbers are going to be larger because we're identifying, in my view, so many more students, and they say there are so many on IPRC waiting lists. But my real guess, and I hate to say this because it is just that, is that in reality parents are frustrated because their children aren't being considered when in fact they do have special education needs.

The 8% number for programming is probably low. I'm just saying that because I think the Provincial Auditor would be interested. It really means that we are probably going to have to provide more services or more efficient services, because if you really want education to be a success for many people, you deal with them early when they're very young and you put your resources into those first two or three years.

Ms Anderson: The 8% number is the number that the Provincial Auditor has found himself. I think some of the greater number you're referring to perhaps are the 170,000 to 180,000 students that the deputy had mentioned were already being accommodated without having gone through the IPRC process so that the number of students --

Mrs Cunningham: Waiting.

Ms Anderson: -- having special needs that have got some kind of accommodation in the classroom is probably greater than 8%.

Mrs Cunningham: That's right. All you have to do is visit your local school board and ask them how many people are waiting and not being considered, or at least are not being included in the numbers. Especially in the early years, if we don't take care of these young people before, in my view, the end of grade 2 or 3, then we're going to put a lot more resources at the other end. It's our only hope, I think, in Ontario.

The Vice-Chair (Ms Dianne Poole): The auditor would like to make a comment, and then I believe Mr Crozier had some questions.

Mr Peters: I have just a very brief comment on the statements that were just made. The 8% number that we found is at the low end. It is, in certain regards, an estimate. The actual number may very well be higher. So I fully endorse the point that was made.

Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex South): This may have come out earlier, but following that 170,000 or 180,000 figure, where it says, "but have not been through the IPRC process," I just wondered why -- is it a lack of resources, time, they just haven't been identified yet? -- and whether it was worth putting into the report the reasons why they haven't been put through.

Ms Anderson: From my discussions with the ministry, it seems as though these are students who either had special needs that were felt to be sort of smaller than the ones that went through the IPRC process, that parents hadn't yet considered they needed special education, but that there were some sort of preliminary issues the teachers were dealing with, some sort of special needs they were dealing with, or in other cases, the auditor's office had found that there were some children who weren't going through the IPRC process because there were some blockages along the line, and I don't know what percentage there is. I can talk to the ministry tomorrow if you'd like to have something on that.


Mr Crozier: It was just a question whether the reasons should be put in there or identified.

The Vice-Chair: Certainly, when the select committee on education studied this about five years ago now, there was definitely a blockage in the system then, in many instances, and that was the reason a number of them were not going through, although there are definitely also others like Anne mentioned where they either weren't ready for the IPRC or the problems could be solved without an IPRC.

Ms Anderson: Would the committee like to have something put in to that effect?

Mr Crozier: I'm suggesting that, if there's no objection. That's all. It adds some identification to that statement.

Mr Callahan: Could I add something to that? We went through a great deal of discussion or linkage between this and Correctional Services. That number would be very much more inflated. As Mrs Cunningham said and as I've said for some time, if you don't identify and you don't have real figures, you're going to wind up paying for it at the other end of the pipe.

There was the whole question of funds available for education in the correctional system. I wonder if we can have some sort of a note in there, an appropriate note, that would refer to that as well, that these numbers could be unbelievably higher if identification were made of people who were admitted into the correctional system who have never been identified, never been assessed.

The Vice-Chair: Actually, Dr Frankford was next on the speaking list, but if you want to pursue that, I'll take Dr Frankford first and then go back, or did you just want to make that comment?

Mr Callahan: I just wanted to make that note. Maybe Anne can note it and give us the appropriate words.

Mr Frankford: I suppose one can sort of put a note of caution there about making the range of people ever expanding, that eventually one would say there's no exceptionality, that you just need a better system for everyone. I think we should be a bit cautious about sort of saying there's a clearly defined group or there isn't. Some of this must be around the bell curve, certainly around the giftedness. I'm not sure. This must depend on what way you choose to draw the bell curve or cut off the bell curve.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Callahan, did you want to continue?

Mr Callahan: No. I think Anne has got a note of it and maybe in our final report something in that regard will be alluded to, I would hope.

The Vice-Chair: Perhaps then if there are no other questions we could go on to the next page.

Ms Anderson: We discussed that section really on the overview of the number of special education pupils there are, and there's the table Mr Callahan had referred to of the exceptionalities which has been taken from the ministry's handbook, the definition. Those are the categories of exceptionalities that are discussed.

Next, just part of the overview on page 4, is the funding. The auditor had found that school boards spent at least $1.3 billion on special education in the year that ended September 30, 1992. That amount's shared by the ministry and by the school boards.

Just to put that amount in context, the total expenditures for elementary and secondary education in the 1991-92 fiscal year were $13.6 billion, $5.7 billion of which -- that is about 42% -- was paid by the ministry. Another part of the context, the $1.3 billion is about 10% of the $13.6 billion in the total expenditures on elementary and secondary education. Just to update it too, I've added the 1993 figures of $14.3 billion and $6.4 billion for the total expenditures and the ministry's share in there.

Mrs Cunningham: This is a comment and also a recommendation that I'd at least like to see, a recommendation on the numbers of exceptional pupils and give some direction in the report there. I think there needs to be a recommendation around the issue of the exceptionalities, but also -- it may be later in the report, and I apologize, but I'm almost halfway through and I haven't seen it yet.

Under the funding, I feel strongly that there are some programs we're doing in education that are extremely costly that could be better done with the cooperation of another ministry or even under the auspices of another ministry. This would mean that the local taxpayers -- the property tax base, being a question for all of us on the costs of education, could be reduced and that the government, whichever ministry, would be able to serve more young people if they were to operate the program somewhere else.

My example is what my colleague Mr Marchese and myself and maybe someone else is going to be speaking to on Mr Arnott's motion today. The whole issue of junior kindergarten, where we're looking at early childhood education, is something that could be done in a more efficient way, cost-wise, than the way we're doing it and certainly in a more successful way if you're looking at really intervening with children and families that need our help.

I say that because I don't think we can solve the problems with children alone. School boards at this point in time don't have the jurisdiction to move into the home to work with families. Teachers are not trained to do that nor do they feel, under the Education Act, that it is their responsibility. I think that in these days more than ever, although this has been stated for probably a decade or more, we should be looking at the Ministry of Community and Social Services' cooperation.

That's why, as we watch the implementation of the junior kindergarten program, where we're actually watching more and more students go to school every second day, all day, as opposed to the two or three hours, they're capable of gaining some support or education, whatever, confidence in putting their trust in other adults, which is part of the objectives of getting young children out of their home and into this kind of an environment with their peers. Especially in the special education part, I feel we could be doing it in a much better way.

I don't know how we make that statement, but I certainly think a recommendation, not on a junior kindergarten program alone but even on some of the corrections programs that Mr Callahan talked about where other ministries can be involved -- it won't be new, but I think from a financial point of view, which is what this is all about, it has to seriously be considered. Under what jurisdiction can we best help special education students, with our focus certainly on the early years, and unfortunately where we haven't been able to have success in early intervention, with programs to deal with truants and young people who have behaviour problems and others, special needs students in the later years?

I think we could probably come up with a list, or some of us could put a list together, and say, "These are the areas that we feel need careful consideration." It's just a recommendation I think we should be making at the appropriate time during these discussions.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Cunningham, we have Mr Crozier and Mr Johnson on the list. Perhaps while they're speaking you can take a look at the bottom of page 27, and going on to --

Mrs Cunningham: I think the auditor did remark on this earlier today.

The Vice-Chair: -- a recommendation, item number 11 on page 28, which does address the point. You may want to comment a bit later on whether you'd like that beefed up or improved.

Mrs Cunningham: Madam Chairman, the reason I raised it now is it is under the funding part and I thought we could even maybe refer to that in the text of the report, that there are recommendations that will deal with improvements here, or something like that. Efficiency, I'm talking about.


The Vice-Chair: Anne has a comment.

Ms Anderson: I just wanted to explain that in the first two or three pages I was just trying to set out the scene of what the special education situation was, and then the later part goes into it in more depth and comes in with the recommendations. We can make some reference to that in that overview, if you wish, and then expand it later.

Mrs Cunningham: Maybe as we go along, I'll just say, "Is this somewhere else?" and then you won't have to listen to my dissertations. I promise not to do that again. I'll just say, "Is it somewhere else?" Hopefully, I'll have it read by the time we get there.

Mr Crozier: Just a comment as to presentation under funding. In the last sentence, since we put in 42% a couple of sentences above, we might put in the percentage 45% -- the ministry may like that -- which indicates it has in fact increased its portion of the funding.

Mr Paul Johnson: I just wanted to respond to some of the things Ms Cunningham has said. Over the last about 20 years, I guess it would be, we've seen the needs of exceptional children and exceptional people addressed by three different ministries. Back in the early 1970s the Ministry of Health managed much of what the Ministry of Education is managing today, and then there was a transition from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and then eventually there was a transition from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to the Ministry of Education. There's been a real desire to integrate within the educational system those people who require special education.

I understand we are dealing at this point with the funding aspect of this. However, if I heard Ms Cunningham correctly, and she may want to correct me, it sounds like you want to reverse some of the direction in which we've taken the needs of exceptional people and go back to where we were when the Ministry of Community and Social Services managed and looked after the needs, educational needs as well to some extent, of exceptional people with regard to their education.

I understand that we are speaking about funding here, and I know Ms Cunningham would certainly agree with me that however the province funds programs there would be ministries competing for dollars from the province. Certainly we would have the Ministry of Community and Social Services looking for more money, I have no doubt, to deal with the additional funding requirements to manage the education of the exceptional people it would be required to look after, and that would take it away from the Ministry of Education.

We like to think that throughout the province of Ontario our society is divided up equally so that every school board has the same number of exceptional people it has to educate and therefore gets its same percentage of dollars to do that. We know that in reality it just doesn't work that way, and it does create burdens on some of the smaller school boards around the province to deal with some of the exceptional education funding needs. I guess I can stop there, but I just wanted to respond to the comments you've made.

The Vice-Chair: Ms Cunningham, do you want to respond before we go on to Mr Martin?

Mrs Cunningham: Just quickly. We probably would both agree that you can't go back, but you can re-examine what you're doing to see if you can do it more efficiently. You can take the strengths of all three areas -- you mentioned three ministries -- and you can talk about the frustrations.

One of the considerations in the last probably 10 years and recommendations we've looked at from major reports is that there be a single ministry of the child. I'm not saying I would agree with that but I think we should be going back to Laurier LaPierre's report and taking a look at why he made that recommendation.

I am saying that we've gone too far in thinking we can solve these problems in junior kindergarten classes, or, I might add, kindergarten classes. Children who are in school for two and a half days with no liaison or very little liaison, because we don't have the jurisdiction under the Education Act -- that's not being helpful.

There are other programs in other jurisdictions that I think we should be looking at seriously to implement, that I would recommend tomorrow, where Ministry of Community and Social Services dollars are involved. These are in parenting programs in cooperation with child care.

The reason I think Education has really taken over is because it's a very powerful ministry, in my view. People in education and in the education bureaucracy are extremely articulate and confident. If you were to ask people in health care what they ought to do, they're not as sure of what they ought to do because it's never really been their domain. The public health departments have usually pointed out problems and asked school boards and other ministries to deal with the programs. But they've become very much stronger in the last decade in their own programs and we should be working with them where they show success. They've had tremendous success.

All I'm saying, Paul, is I don't want to go back, but I think we should examine the best programs. We may find that all three ministries have to be involved. But I can tell you right now that we're moving far too quickly, putting young people on buses for two hours a day when they're three years old to go and come from school, and it's just not working. Those children should be in their own communities in programs maybe where there aren't schools.

I think this committee has been particularly non-partisan in its nature, and that's why I'm happy it's here.

The Vice-Chair: Just before Mr Martin finally gets to make his long-awaited comments, the auditor has asked for an opportunity.

Mr Peters: Thank you, Mr Martin. Just a very quick comment on the numbers. These numbers in the funding are influenced by that half-a-billion-dollar deferment of the payments to the pension fund that I've commented on in my audit opinion, so I'm not quite sure whether it's safe to put the percentage into that. I'm not sure how they were reflected, and that would make quite a difference. The half a billion did all refer to this ministry, because it was the pension contribution to the teachers' pension fund.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I don't think I'm long-winded, Madam Chair. I don't speak much, actually.

Mr Tilson: You decided long-winded. She said long-awaited.

Mrs Cunningham: I'm long-winded.

The Vice-Chair: I said "long-awaited," because Mr Martin was actually on the list before Mrs Cunningham and before the auditor.

Mr Martin: I try to get to the point.

I appreciate the comments of Ms Cunningham, and I want to confirm some of what Mr Johnson has said. Being in the ministry now for almost four years, nothing is ever as simple as we'd like to make it: It always seems, when you get into it, much more complicated.

One thing I wanted to say is that regardless of how you cut the cake here, if you're going to resolve this one you're going to have to spend money. Whether it's coming through Comsoc or Health or Education, it's going to have to go out there. If you're going to respond to what the community is telling us the needs are, and we certainly are trying to do that, you have to spend the money. Whether it comes through property tax or income tax, it's the same taxpayer. It's one person digging into his pocket and paying. Where it comes from, after a while becomes semantics, as far as I'm concerned.

We need to change the system. It needs to be more effective. We need to be working more cooperatively with communities. There certainly need to be more interministerial things happening and all of that, but I think we fool ourselves if we think that in the end, by doing all of this we're going to get away with spending less money on this issue, particularly if, as has been suggested here this morning, we're going to define and redefine and put new groups on and add to this whole question in the way I've heard. Pretty soon everybody will have their own special ed class and their own professional attached and the cost would be astronomical.

Over the years, there's been a move away from a community dealing with the people who live within it in ways it has the ability to do and to think that some professional can come in and resolve it. We have people in the mental health area who move into areas of difficulty and move out of them, and with support and help in various ways and levels, that can happen.


What we're trying to do as a ministry and as a government is be cooperative, allow for those supportive areas to come forward and be part of the equation and do it in a way that recognizes that we don't have unlimited funds, that we have a problem at the moment in this province which sees us with a deficit and debt that the people out there are saying is problematic. In trying to balance those things, the question then is, how do we do this in an effective and progressive and proactive way?

I don't have any answers either. I know it's something we need to grapple with, but I think we need to be careful that we don't get into very simplistic solutions of adding another category or getting the money out of some other pocket or working cooperatively ministerially if there is no plan. I just put those comments on the record.

Mr Peters: Mr Martin, the 1993 auditor's report also contains a comment on the child welfare programs. You'll notice that Comsoc, for example, spends about $850 million on it, and that ministry at the moment has put out a brand-new policy framework on dealing with that issue. I think the recommendation -- why we are particularly endorsing it -- is of cooperating. There may be a link between how to provide children's services in this province by Comsoc with the way children with special needs are dealt with in the education program which may not actually require additional funds, just a better way of cooperating in the process.

Mr Martin: All I'm saying is that that's not as simple as it sounds.

Mr Peters: Absolutely.

Mr Tilson: Not only what the auditor has just indicated, but there's also the issue of cost. I quite agree that nothing is as simple as it sounds, but the fact is that the delivery of the service may be more expensive under the education system as opposed to under the Comsoc system, that a particular service that involves the child could be handled as well, if not better than, the education system. Obviously, the salaries alone under Comsoc are much less than those under the education system.

More important, I suppose the service that's delivered under the education system is directed more to the property tax system. You say it's the same taxpayer. It really isn't the same taxpayer. Not all people across the province pay property taxes, and in different ways they pay property taxes, depending on the type of place they live in.

I guess one looks at (1) the cost of the service that can be delivered and (2) it may be a provincial issue in the same way that -- whether we're talking the subject of junior kindergarten, which by coincidence happens to be going on as we speak in the House, or whether we're talking about correctional services, these may be provincial matters. The service may be less expensive and perhaps even better provided by those agencies as opposed to the education agencies.

I give the example that teachers aren't trained to do everything. Just to repeat what Mrs Cunningham has indicated, they're not trained to go into the home, nor should they be, and there may be other agencies that should be involved in the delivery of the service and in the cost of that service.

Mr Martin: Just to respond, I understand all that. Yes, the cost of delivering through Comsoc may be in some instances less expensive, but when you get into this area of special ed and mental health difficulties, the cost of professionals is quite exorbitant. Maybe I shouldn't say it in quite that way, but it is expensive. Whichever way you do it, if you want the professional who is going to do the job, you're going to have to pay for it. There is an expense there, and that's why I say it isn't as simple as it sometimes appears, once you get into it. There are some costs.

I agree with you: There is a difference in taxing through the property tax system versus income tax. I would like to see us move more to an income-tax-based delivery of services, because as the Fair Tax Commission reported, the property tax system is not a fair one. There's no consistency; there's no rhyme or reason to it in many significant ways. So we need to do that.

I guess all this just goes to say that, as I think you are saying yourself, Ms Cunningham, we need to look at this and find other ways. But let's be realistic in terms of what it will cost us, and the fact that it will cost us if we get into the area of providing the professionals we need in Comsoc as well. They're very expensive.

Mr Marchese: I had just stepped out for a moment and missed the question, so now I understand that the question is whether Comsoc should be running some of these services versus the educational system.

My personal preference has always been that the educational system run these programs, for a variety of reasons. I think the costs are probably very similar. I suppose an audit could be done to see which of these two, if it were to be run by any one of them, would cost less or more. My suspicion is that it would probably be more or less the same.

Even if I were wrong, however, I lean very heavily towards a learning model as opposed to a pathological model. Part of my concern in some boards of education is that we have overburdened our system with a lot of social workers and a lot of psychologists and plenty of psychiatrists, to the extent that we have overpathologized learning. I think good teachers have managed to get students who have been in special education out of it, whereas in many other programs in fact we have not been very successful, so they linger and are trapped in special education programs for a long, long time. This is not to take away from the concerns of parents who say, "No, but my child is different and needs that special attention."

In all my learning as a teacher and as someone who's been in the system for a long, long time as a trustee and in research I've done, the label that we attach to these learning problems, the fact that we put them in these special education programs, creates in itself a major, major problem to deal with. Whether it were in Comsoc or Education, I don't think we'd solve some of these problems, although I think the focus has to continue to be on what we, as teachers, can do to get these young people out of these special-ed programs as fast as we can. But I lean towards a learning model and therefore an educational system as opposed to a Comsoc-delivered system.

Mr Martin: There are some examples of some schools in the education system where there has been some creative adjustment to the schedules that allows for teachers to go out of the school and into the homes to find out what's going on there so that there is that kind of connection and interaction. However, I think perhaps in some ways the social worker might be the most appropriate professional to be doing that, and perhaps we need to be finding ways to allow that to happen.

The Vice-Chair: Anne has a comment on how she thinks we can resolve this particular discussion.

Ms Anderson: It's not really resolving the problem but is on how to put it in the report. There's a subsequent section which is called "Ensuring a Cost-Effective Service." Perhaps I could add a subsection of that which talks about looking at collaboration with other ministries in some way to see whether that would help improve the cost-effectiveness of the total delivery of education. Then the committee can look at that and see whether it wants to come up with a recommendation out of it.

Mr Tilson: I never try to anticipate what Ms Cunningham is trying to say, but --

The Vice-Chair: But you're going to.

Mr Tilson: I guess you're probably referring to page 28, are you?

The Vice-Chair: No, page 6.

Ms Anderson: Page 6 starts off a major heading called "Ensuring a Cost-Effective Service," and it goes into issues that the Provincial Auditor had looked at in terms of compliance and financial transparency and the different audit arrangements. They talk largely of funding, indirectly anyhow, and perhaps there would be room for an additional section within this major heading of having people, whether it's the ministry or whoever the committee decides, look at the question of greater collaboration. It does come up on page 28 but it was more in relation to some of the supports.


Mr Tilson: I agree, teacher training and support. You're quite right: That is under teacher training and support. I believe that we're all -- well, we may not be saying the same thing as Mr Marchese, but certainly Mr Martin seems to be saying the same thing: "Accept it's a complicated issue." I don't think it would hurt, as a recommendation, to look at this issue, notwithstanding what Mr Marchese has just said, because I think he's saying, "No, don't look at it."

Mr Marchese: I wouldn't. But I don't advocate your looking at it.

Mr Tilson: I think the report should indicate that we should at least consider these issues, that these issues should be considered by several ministries.

Mr Peters: It is actually under that. On the very page you're at, item 11.

Mr Tilson: Except that that deals strictly with teacher training and support. I suppose you can relate that to funding.

Mr Peters: A fair point, yes.

Mr Tilson: But you're right. If item 11 on page 28 dealt with the whole concept, then I would hope that item 11 should be made a little stronger.

The Vice-Chair: So is the committee agreed that Anne will put in a special section under page 6, "Ensuring a Cost-Effective Service," and we could take a second look at that and decide if we want to strengthen it or make a recommendation on it? Okay?

I think that's everybody who's indicated an interest in speaking, so we'll go on to the bottom of page 4, "Provincial Auditor's Review."

Ms Anderson: My intention in this next section was to lay out the Provincial Auditor's concerns and what he had done. The objectives in undertaking the value-for-money audit were "to assess whether there were satisfactory procedures in place to determine compliance with special education legislation, regulation and policies and to measure and report on the effectiveness of the special education programs."

This formed the structure of the Provincial Auditor's review.

"The audit included visits to five regional offices, eight school boards and 15 schools as well as interviews" with various groups, "education researchers, school board administrators, teachers and advocacy groups" etc.

The Provincial Auditor found that, while the legislated responsibilities were relatively clear, the ministry did not have procedures in place that would enable it to ensure that those special education children, the exceptional children, had special education programs. Particularly, they noted that:

"Ministry procedures are not adequate to ensure that school boards comply with various legislated, regulatory or policy requirements; and

"Procedures to evaluate the variety of special education programs and services offered by school boards were not adequate to determine whether these programs and services were the most appropriate and cost-effective in meeting the needs of all exceptional students."

That really was a brief summary of the Provincial Auditor's objectives and in one sentence what he found.

The Vice-Chair: Just before we go to Mr Martin, I have a very minor technical point. The first sentence, where it says, "The objectives of the Provincial Auditor," goes on in the quote, which isn't attributed to anywhere, to say, "Specifically we assessed." Could we just change it to, "The objectives stated by the Provincial Auditor," with a semi-colon? It just clarifies that it's the Provincial Auditor stating this and the "we" refers to the Provincial Auditor, not the committee.

Mr Martin: I just wanted to ask the auditor, in doing this and in this piece, if he looked at the whole area of what responsibility school boards had to make sure that some of what was seen by the ministry as necessary and most appropriate in a given circumstance re the question of special ed -- what responsibility they have as elected officials representing the community with a mandate to govern, and the Education Act clearly stating that there are some areas of jurisdiction that they have control over and that they should be working with them, and given that the ministry counts very much on the responsibility and accountability and professional ethic of a school board to do what's in the best interests of the students who come into its purview.

I know here you said that the ministry didn't have procedures adequate to ensure. What about school boards and their responsibility, working with their own SEACs and responding to the needs of their area and involving the resources that are present in their area to actually do this job? Did you give any thought or consideration to that, and what was your sense of what's happening out there?

Mr Peters: I'm just making an outline. Firstly, we have discussed at great length that our role of auditing school boards is a very limited one. It was only to the extent that they let us in the door. We are not the auditors of the school boards, so the discharge of their responsibility was available to us only on the basis that school boards actually opened their doors to us and let us look as to what they were doing. But yes, we did think about it and we did, where we could get into school boards, review and interview people on this basis to follow up on the questions that you have just raised. In doing so we would not, though, consider that as a full audit, because we did not have full audit rights. But I'll let Gary follow up.

Mr Gary Peall: I guess the short answer is also that because the ministry doesn't have a lot of procedures in place, the regional office rule wasn't particularly strong in this area. They themselves didn't really know the strength of the board's procedures and that's one of the objectives they should have: finding out what system the boards do have in place to make sure they adhere to the ministry's policy requirements.

We did find variances in the practices in the school boards we visited, so it really is all over the map in terms of how regimented they are in reviewing the programs that they have and monitoring the degree to which they comply with ministry requirements.

Mr Marchese: The question I think he's asking is, to what degree are trustees accountable as elected officials for this? Was that the question?

Mr Martin: That's part of it, yes. What you're saying, though, is interesting too.

Mr Peall: The act makes the boards accountable for the delivery of special education programs and services, so they're allowed to design programs that meet local needs, subject to the framework of policy that the ministry has put in place. So yes, they do have a responsibility to do that and some trustees sit on SEACs and that's maybe their main point of interaction with the special education programs and services. But there is quite a variance in how boards respond to that and the kinds of information that a board would be provided with. I think we found a general weakness in the kinds of information about what programs work and which ones don't, so that kind of information generally isn't available to school boards.

Mr Marchese: Just as a clarification, the question is, are trustees accountable where boards are not accountable? We have specific provincial policy or guidelines. To what extent are trustees held accountable for that?

Mr Peters: I can just speak, and Gary, you will want to get into the detail. In our audit itself, to the first question, yes, we are aware of their responsibility, but the performance was very sporadic and we did not find that the accountability mechanisms in place were adequate. They are poor. I think I would rate them as poor.

Mr Martin: The point I'm trying to make here is that it's very difficult for a ministry to make sure that everything that it wants done gets done, working through various layers, particularly if one piece of that is an elected body that is responsible to the people. We may come up with the best of legislation and policy and procedure. If somehow that's not working its way down the system and arriving on the street in terms of service, then the question I have is value for money and who's responsible for making sure that -- is it really us or is there somebody else out there who's getting in the way of this really happening? We're spending $13.6 billion a year, 10% of that on special ed.


Mr Peters: To answer your question very specifically, we have two reports in the report. Two sections in our report dealt with the issue of curriculum development and special ed. If we really have to summarize what we found in terms of getting value for money, in terms of performance, in terms of the existing accountability framework, in the curriculum development we found that delivery of the objectives that are set out in the Education Act was difficult, and in special ed it was beyond difficult. We had the feeling, from our report, that the system wasn't delivering, and the accountability framework is not a good one.

Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Madam Chair: I'm not sure, Mr Martin, are you the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education and Training?

Mr Martin: Yes, I am.

Mr Callahan: The point of order I'm making -- and I don't say this in a pejorative fashion, Mr Martin -- is that the Ministry of Education and Training officials were already here. We're dealing with what we put together from those hearings and there really is not a second chance, I suppose, to question or to explain the position. What we want to do is we want to get the report out. I think we're getting bogged down in the question of -- and I can understand your position as parliamentary assistant.

Mr Marchese: He was raising a good point, though.

Mr Callahan: I appreciate that.

Mr Martin: I am also the member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Callahan: Yes, I appreciate that, but the point of order is that we're not moving on with the report. I thought the purpose of this was to go through the report with Anne and determine whether or not the facts that she has put together and the recommendations are those that we remember as being the case and that the recommendations are acceptable. If we don't do that, we'll be doing special education when a lot of these kids who are subject to special education are collecting their pensions.

The Vice-Chair: While I appreciate your point, Mr Callahan, quite often what happens is that we have people substitute in while we're holding the hearings when the Legislature is not in session and we have different members present, so sometimes we have to go over things from a different viewpoint.

Mr Callahan: I appreciate that.

The Vice-Chair: Secondly, I don't think we are necessarily limited to only discussing what was in the hearings. There may be things that, as we discuss them today as a committee, which is one of the few opportunities we've really had to look at this and discuss it, there may be other items that come up.

I've always found when we discuss these reports, in the first half-dozen pages we spend a large amount of time and then it speeds up because a lot of the questions get answered early on that may refer to other parts of the report.

Mr Callahan: I appreciate that, Madam Chair, but what I'm saying is that -- and I'm not suggesting Mr Martin is subbed in here to once again question what we've already determined -- we've heard from the ministry officials. This is what our report is supposed to be, a report of what we got from the ministry officials, and in addition to it, what the auditor has said about the weaknesses and the strengths.

What I gather from Mr Martin's discussion, and I certainly am not being critical, I'm just saying that what we're doing is getting a second look at it. Maybe as we go through the report, if he disagrees with what Anne is saying, as a result of what we've heard from the ministry officials and what the recommendations are, that's fine. But I get the feeling that there's an apologetic coming through here, which I find is not useful to us getting our report. I say that with all due respect, Mr Martin. I'm not trying to be critical. That's the feeling I'm getting.

The Vice-Chair: I'm trying to give a fair amount of leeway because Mr Martin's comments were pertinent to the subject of special education and other members have taken considerable --

Mr Callahan: Including myself.

The Vice-Chair: -- whatever word I wanted to use there. Mr Marchese.

Mr Marchese: I just wanted to agree with you fully and to disagree with Mr Callahan.

Mr Callahan: Surprise.

Mr Marchese: The point is that Mr Martin raises a good point of accountability. This whole report is based on whether the system is accountable. He raises the additional question, "Who is? Would the trustees be accountable?" as an extension of this argument. They're not the persons, obviously, to answer this particular question, but it's certainly a good one, so it would enhance the report, given that we're talking about an accountability mechanism. It's not an apology, it's not a diversion, I think it's a useful addition to the discussion.

Mr Martin: In fact, if I might just clarify the point --

Mr Callahan: I didn't mean to sidetrack you.

The Vice-Chair: But you did.

Mr Callahan: I'll withdraw it.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, he's withdrawn, but would you like to make the comment?

Mr Martin: No, that's okay then. We'll just leave it at that. I just think that if the auditor's work, and he does good work, is going to be helpful to us as a government, we need to ask these kinds of questions and we need to be able to determine at what point intervention needs to happen, if in fact that's what needs to happen, in order to make it better. I'm just exploring that in light of what you're doing here. That was why I asked the question.

Mr Callahan: I surrender.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson is next. I had Mr Callahan, but I assume that was covered by your point of order? Okay.

Mr Tilson: I think the issue is a valid issue to raise at this point. I can tell you that it was actually an issue I wanted to raise at Mr Callahan's motion, which we passed, which dealt generally with education, in that one looks at whether or not value-for-money audits, whether it be an accountability of trustees or accountability of whoever, how meaningless that may be. I was a trustee on a small board and I know we have trustees of two large boards and you were a trustee. We've got lots of trustees around, but they're ex-trustees.

Mrs Cunningham: We know what power we didn't have.

Mr Tilson: We know where the power is. I was a trustee just when special ed was coming into the fray, which was in the 1970s.

Mr Paul Johnson: That explains all the problems in the system.

Mr Tilson: I do remember this topic of accountability which you raised -- whether it be with trustees or whoever, it gets to a question which I would have preferred to ask at Mr Callahan's motion -- is just that. I will be looking forward to seeing how the Provincial Auditor or any other auditor is going to have value-for-money audits of teachers, whether they be special ed or anyone else who's delivering the service. There are different models, as I understand, and Mrs Cunningham could speak on that far better than I, that have been suggested.

Certainly as a trustee, I can well remember sitting there. If you wanted to question that process of evaluation of a service, then you'd better be prepared to take on the unions. If you weren't prepared to take on the unions, then I can tell you that the whole evaluation process is not even there; it's meaningless.

I don't know whether the auditor has put his mind to that, because I really look forward to someone coming forward and talking about the evaluation of the delivery of a service, which is what we're on here -- actually, we won't be on it, I don't think, until page 6, but it's sort of introduced on this page -- on that topic, because that's what it's all about.

I know that's a political issue. I know what I'm saying is political and partisan but I can tell you, as a trustee I remember sitting there, "If we want to change this system, we're going to have to take on the unions." That's all I have to say.

Mr Martin: I think what Mr Tilson has pointed to here, in my mind, is that we have various levels of responsibility and accountability and pressure points in terms of where decisions are made and where the buck stops. There are certainly the teachers and their organization, the trustees and their mandate, and then we get up to the Ministry of Education.

If we're going to find a way to deliver programs effectively and in a way that's going to be helpful to students in the end, I think you're right: We need to be discussing the whole ball of wax. To leave it simply at the door of the ministry -- and I'm not being apologetic here; I'm speaking as the member for Sault Ste Marie who deals with this on a local level -- then we miss the point and we don't deal with the whole issue. There are other pressure points too: There are parent groups, there's the SEAC itself, there are other --

The Vice-Chair: The auditor wanted to comment before we move on.

Mr Peters: That is a key element in our report, and one of the things is that we had a very positive response from the ministry, both directly to our report as well as when it appeared before us, as to wanting to deal with the issue at all levels.

The other point is, in conducting value-for-money audits, in conducting these audits particularly, we interviewed -- I forget the exact number, but it was a vast number of teachers, principals and others, and they had, as professionals of course, their own ideas, and they were very useful. If we set the audit criteria as to how the service is better done, there are a lot of professionals in the system who are quite willing to move in the right direction at all levels and all organizations.

I think something can be done, and the unity that this committee particularly showed on this issue is probably one of the most outstanding examples I can think of, on this particular issue of education, bringing virtually everybody on side in the process, and maybe that can be followed through through this report.

Mr Martin: I guess it's with that in mind -- I don't see in here myself in this particular portion, and it may be further on. I apologize. I'm not on this committee so I didn't spend a whole lot of time with this. Maybe I should have out of my role as parliamentary assistant and my interest. But there's no reference in this, in my mind, to that question of the larger picture and the other bodies that are responsible and who want to participate. Is it further on?

Mr Peters: I thought it was. It was at the outset, but maybe not as emphatic as you would like to see it.

The Vice-Chair: Perhaps that's something we can revisit at the end of the report, and if at that time you feel that it isn't emphasized as much as you would like, we can return to it.

Mr Marchese: I think Mr Peters raised some interesting points. I have been part of this committee once, actually, when it was being dealt with, and part of the concern I had was how the auditor does one's audit, using what kind of knowledge. You have the knowledge of finances in terms of whether or not dollars are spent in a particular direction, but how do you actually evaluate its effectiveness in terms of a learning model? You then have to presumably resort to the ones who have the knowledge, which is what you said you would do.

Mr Peters: Yes, which we have done.

Mr Marchese: So I think it would be useful, in the body of this report somewhere -- and maybe at the next committee some of us can reflect as to where, or the researcher -- to find a way to include those remarks into the report.

Mr Peters: I have to make, if I may, another point. There is a separate report on curriculum development, which also deals with this issue. I think that is forthcoming, I guess, and will be discussed by this committee. The committee may consider, for example, such a solution as dealing with this as a preface to both of those reports, because both curriculum development and special ed are totally affected by the quality of the accountability framework that is in existence.

To answer your specific question, yes, we are quite aware that we are accountants by training and auditors by training, but particularly in this particular examination, I would think that I wouldn't be overstating the case that we had interviews with about 700 professionals, something like that, to come up with these two reports.

The Acting Chair: Might I suggest -- it's a couple of minutes before 12 -- we adjourn this till next week?

Mr Marchese: I move adjournment.

The Acting Chair: We're adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1155.


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P-15P-287 1 15 a memo that was dated May 3, 1993, that was issued