Thursday 5 May 1994

Audit Act amendment

Housing audits


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

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

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

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

Crozier, Bruce (Essex South)

*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:

Wilson, Gary, (Kingston and The Islands/Kingston et Les Iles ND) for Mr O`Connor

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Peters, Erik, Provincial Auditor

Clerk / Greffier: Decker, Todd

Staff / Personnel: Anderson, Anne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1013 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Joseph Cordiano): I hope everyone has a copy of the agenda for this morning's meeting.

The first order of business is a motion by Ms Poole. I believe when we left off last week, we were still discussing this motion. Yes, on a point of order?

Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): Not on a point of anything, just with regard to Ms Poole's motion. I was going to ask the indulgence of the member and the committee to have folks from the Ministry of Finance available for discussion on the motion, if we can defer it for a week, today being budget day, if that's amenable, and we'll get down to it at our next meeting. I understand it's been around for a long time. Unfortunately, we don't plan the budget release dates here.

I don't know if we need a motion or just a consensus.

The Chair: Let's just deal with it in terms of discussion and get the other parties' opinions on it.

Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): If this is something the auditor feels would be helpful, I'd be happy to delay it for a week for the discussion. Would it be helpful for the auditor in the discussion of the matter?

The Chair: Before I turn to Mr Peters, Mr Tilson, because I need unanimous agreement to do this.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I can only repeat what Mr Owens has said: This thing's been around for eons. I'm sure the audit department and the Finance ministry, treasury, have discussed this over and over. We've been waiting for literally years for the amendment to the Audit Act to come. We have. When I first arrived here, this was raised by the auditor at that time. We were led to believe there was a new Audit Act coming, and it hasn't come.

Mr Owens: I think you'll find a surprising amount of sympathy for this on this side of the House, so if we can agree to defer it, I'm sure we can make you a --

Mr Tilson: Well, can you give us a hint about why it's being deferred? We've been deferring it for at least three years.

Mr Owens: Does the phrase "budget day" mean anything to you?

Mr Tilson: If the mover is suggesting it be delayed, I have no problem consenting to that, if you're looking for unanimous consent, but I'm saying --

The Chair: Sorry. Not unanimous consent. I'm looking for consent, really. I should correct that.

Mr Tilson: We're asking that the Audit Act be amended without delay, and here we are asking for another week's delay. And I can tell you that that will be delayed, because the very next motion, I have a feeling, is going to be dealt with for the next number of weeks as it's that important an issue. I think this issue should be dealt with now and the matter should be dealt with without delay by the Minister of Finance. We shouldn't delay it any further.

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): At least two public accounts reports have made this a high priority and nothing's happened, so if we delay it one more week, I don't think the world will come to an end. In fact, I think it would be perhaps more important for us to get on to the next issue, which is Houselink. I don't know whether you want to ask if we've got unanimous consent again -- I hope we would have -- and we'd get on with the other issue.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): To agree with the previous speaker, we really want to deal with the motion being proposed. None of us wants to defer it indefinitely. I'm a bit sad that we're not dealing with it today, because I wanted to. We haven't had the opportunity to discuss it with the full information in front of us, but by next week we are fully prepared to deal with the motion and would ask for that deferment. Motion 2 will keep us busy for quite some time, but we're not running away from dealing with 1, because we're very interested in dealing with 1 as well.

Ms Poole: The government's support for this motion is going to be critical, and the government's support for amending the Audit Act is absolutely critical. If it would help to secure a positive resolution of this by delaying for a week so that Finance ministry workers can actually do proper briefings and look through to see the best way to resolve this, I would suggest that I defer my motion for one more week, but I would like it to be dealt with next week because I don't think it's fair to the auditor to keep postponing it.

Mr Owens: As I say, there is sympathy for your concerns here.

Mr Tilson: I'm baffled about why it's being suggested, both by the New Democrat members of the committee and now the Liberal member of the committee, that this matter be delayed another week. All this resolution is doing is simply asking that there be an amendment to the Audit Act, and it's specified why. If there's specific wording that needs to be done, that will be done when the bill is put forward. It's no big deal. I don't know why we need to delay it any further.

Let's have our House leaders agree that this matter will be given speedy introduction and the amendments be drawn up. You will have lots of time. You've had at least three years to draft amendments to the Audit Act. What this auditor and his predecessor were saying is exactly the same thing. There's nothing new here. However, it sounds like I'm in the minority in terms of the urgency of this thing. I think it should be processed today.


Mr Marchese: Can I just move as a motion that we have this item deferred until next week so Mr Tilson can have his recorded vote against it?

The Chair: You can move a motion, yes.

Mr Marchese: I'd like to move that this motion be deferred for a week.

Mr Callahan: I'd like to amend that motion, with the consent of the mover, that it will be next week or as soon after we have fully dealt with Mr Tilson's motion on Houselink. If we get into Houselink, that's of equal if not greater importance to the taxpayers of this province, and as we are the public accounts committee and as it is our obligation to police the finances of the province, if we don't finish it today and we have to use next week and the week after that and the week after that, I think this matter should be put on the back burner till that's done.

I can appreciate as well the comment that was made that perhaps we should have an official from the Finance department here, perhaps the deputy minister, to commit himself or bring us up to speed on just why it has taken so long for this amendment to be brought forward as a major portion of business for the House.

Mr Tilson, I'm sure, did not mean to say what he said about us agreeing to hold it up. I'm as anxious as you are to get on with this issue. It has been around as long as I've been here, which is nine years as of May 2. But I think Houselink is of significant importance to the public of this province, that it should be dealt with immediately and that we should have enough time to deal with it in a full and fair fashion and report to the House on it.

The Chair: Just indulge me for a moment in terms of where we are in terms of our organizing this matter. Mr Marchese moved that consideration of Ms Poole's motion be deferred until the next meeting of the committee. I'm just reading the motion so everyone is clear about that. I understand, Mr Callahan, you want to amend that.

Mr Callahan: I amended it to the next committee hearing available after the matter of Houselink has been fully dealt with.

The Chair: I also have the auditor, who would like to say something on this matter if we would permit him to.

Ms Poole: I just want to refer to the fact that he asked for the mover's consent, my consent, to amend, and I would not be willing to do that. I think the amendment of the Audit Act is of crucial importance. I do not see an extensive debate on it, quite frankly. We've had extensive debate over the last five years on it, and all we need is an additional week for the government to decide the timetable for getting this through the Legislature and matters like that. If that's what they want, I am happy to accede to that delay of one week, but I would not be amenable for it to be delayed for another four or five weeks, because I think it's crucial we get started on the amendment to the Audit Act as soon as possible and see if we can get it through the House in a speedy passage.

Mr Anthony Perruzza (Downsview): I don't have a problem with that. It's important for us to be able to provide the levers to institutions like the auditors to be able to get in and review the books comprehensively. I don't have a problem in supporting the spirit of your motion, and I could support it today, I could support it next week or I could support it whenever it comes back, subject to Mr Callahan's amendment.

I essentially will be supporting all three motions in reverse order, because I suspect the amendment will be put to us first. However, if the motion is not supported and allowed to pass today, I have a tendency to agree more with Mr Callahan's intention, given that we are going to be getting into something that's fairly significant and fairly important, and you wouldn't want it to be disrupted once we get into the meat of that.

Those are essentially my views on this.

The Chair: Before I turn to Mr Marchese, would you permit the auditor to have a word?

Mr Erik Peters: Just a very quick word, two issues. First, it is a motion that would permit the committee, actually, to discuss this matter at a later stage. The reason there is some urgency is because of the confusion that continues to exist as to the instructions that this committee, or a minister, or the Legislature as a whole, can actually give my office and what the audit expectation is on that. For that reason, I'm encouraged by the words of support and speedy coverage.

The other point is one I make with some trepidation, but I would like to remind the committee that if you plan to invite witnesses, the Ministry of Finance has the same role vis-à-vis my office as any other ministry in the government and any central agency: They're auditees. In my office I am, as the Provincial Auditor, the legislative officer. Whether it is particularly necessary to hear as a witness one of the auditees or another auditee is totally within the committee's purview.

I just leave that as a thought on the table, when you consider whether you wish to invite witnesses: to merely vote on the motion, or whether you want to invite witnesses subsequently, when you discuss the motion itself.

Mr Marchese: Mr Callahan's suggestion effectively defers dealing with this issue, because once we deal with motion 2, based on the understanding I have from the House leaders, we will be into this next issue for a couple of weeks at least. If I were to accept his suggestion into my motion to defer, that would weaken it. As Mr Callahan has not moved an amendment, I suggest we just deal with the issue of deferring it until next week.

The Chair: That brings me to the point where I might ask Mr Callahan if he wanted to put his motion to amend the motion before the committee, so we could have some clarity around the motion.

Mr Marchese: There was clarity, but I'm not sure he wants to move it.

The Chair: Would you like to move that, Mr Callahan, so we can incorporate that amendment and deal with that first? But before we deal with it, I'll turn to Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: I just wanted to respond to Mr Peters and say it wasn't my intention to lead you to believe I wanted to bring witnesses from the ministry to the committee. It was simply that we wanted to have some opportunity for some direct consultation with them from the government side. It wasn't because I wanted to hold hearings and make a circus out of this, because I think it's a very clear and straightforward motion. As I say, there is some sympathy on this side with respect to it.

The Chair: Mr Callahan, would you like to place your motion to amend the motion to defer, or would you like to withdraw?

Mr Callahan: My colleague seems to think we can deal with this quite quickly next week. I'm very reluctant to put it off, but I think there's a more important issue before us and that we have to get on with it. I'll move a motion in amendment to the motion, that this matter is to follow immediately upon the final determination of the Houselink matter.

Ms Poole: Might I suggest a friendly amendment to Mr Callahan's? Just to say that we agree to defer this for one week, but that it be dealt with by no more than a one-hour debate, like 10 to 11, because we have discussed it so many times, and that we immediately start into Houselink as soon as the debate on the motion is over. In fact, it may take less than an hour.

Mr Owens: Why can't we just agree? I'm not sure why we need motions. It was a simple request that we defer this. It was not intended to promote a 30-minute discussion. Let's just move on.


The Chair: Might I suggest one thing, to be helpful? It's possible to start next week's meeting at an earlier time to permit this item to be dealt with in the first part of the meeting and allow us to carry on with the other agenda item, which I'm sure will be coming later on this morning, for the better part of that meeting next week. That's a suggestion, because I think I'm hearing some consensus around having to deal with this matter expeditiously, and trying to accommodate that is really a question of organizing it. Am I correct, Mr Tilson?

Mr Marchese: At 9:30?

Ms Poole: I'm agreeable.

Mr Tilson: If that is an agreement, my concern is that we now have a notice of motion, I suppose it is, that the government members wish to amend the next motion, which will essentially put a time limit on the debate with respect to Houselink.

Mr Owens: Agreed to by the House leaders.

Mr Tilson: No, just a second. I've just been handed a piece of paper --

The Chair: Let's deal with one matter at a time before we move on.

Mr Tilson: I've just received a piece of paper -- I assume it's a notice of motion -- that the government members wish to amend the motion on the next topic on this agenda, essentially to put a time limit on the work this committee wants to do on non-profit housing, specifically Houselink. Now we have the government members coming along and saying they want to introduce another motion within that time frame, which will shorten up the process of the debate of Houselink. I'm opposed to that. I see more members over there who are probably going to vote for this amendment they're putting forward, so they're probably going to get their way anyway. Because of that, if your suggestion is honoured, Mr Chair, by the government members of the committee specifically, and Mrs Poole's motion is disposed of before the Houselink issue, then I have no problem.

Mr Callahan: A point of clarification: Is any member of this committee entitled to bring in what in effect is a notice of motion and have it dealt with at that hearing of the committee, or is this just notice of motion and therefore we are entitled to discuss this matter on the basis of what was given --

Ms Poole: They gave notice last week.

Mr Callahan: No, I'm talking about Mr Tilson's motion at the moment.

The Chair: It is always the practice that we would have notice of motion. What we're trying to do here is to avoid that and come to a consensual agreement, but in the absence of that we will revert back to the notice-of-motion procedure.

Mr Callahan: I'm referring specifically to Mr Tilson's motion.

The Chair: I do have a speaking order. Ms Poole, and then Mr Marchese.

Ms Poole: First of all, just to get out of this debate, which is leading us nowhere, I would suggest that the public accounts committee meet at 9:30 next Thursday morning; that from 9:30 to 10 we deal with the auditor's motion, giving each caucus 10 minutes in which to put its comments officially on the record, as we have debated this numerous times; and that we immediately proceed to Houselink. That wouldn't take anything away from the time for Houselink, and it would ensure that we deal with the auditor's recommendation.

Second, with reference to the notice of motion, there is nothing, I believe, in the standing orders requiring a notice of motion. While it is the precedent, I do not believe it is a requirement. I've been on committee numerous times when a motion is put on the floor and voted on immediately without any notice of motion. I don't think we want to get caught up in this technicality of: Is the government motion a notice of motion, or a motion, or do we have to delay it to next week? Let's just deal with it.

The Chair: I didn't suggest it was in the standing orders. I said the practice of the committee had been that there were notices of motion, but it would be permissible.

Anyway, I think I'm reading that there is a consensus around moving to have a meeting at 9:30 to deal with this matter next week, that we deal with this matter in the first part of that meeting, which would take us to 10 o'clock -- 9:30 to 10? Is that the understanding? Okay?


The Chair: Order, please. There are two motions on the floor. There's an amendment to the motion and then there's a motion to defer. Could I have agreement from those who moved the motions that -- Mr Marchese moved the deferral motion.

Mr Marchese: If we're voting on his amendment, Mr Chair, I'm not supporting it.

The Chair: We're not voting on it. I'm asking for a withdrawal of those motions, and if we have agreement, that we meet next week at 9:30.

Mr Callahan: I'll withdraw mine.

The Chair: Mr Callahan withdraws. Mr Marchese, do you withdraw? Was it Mr Marchese who moved that deferral motion?

Mr Marchese: I'm moving the deferral motion and that we begin at 9:30.

The Chair: Fine. So we withdraw the original motion, and now we've got agreement that we are going to meet at 9:30. Done. I think that's sufficient discussion around that matter.

We can now proceed to deal with a motion by Mr Tilson, which is item number 2 on our agenda, but before we do that -- this should take us all of two minutes -- is a housekeeping matter with regard to the budget we approved last week.

There is some new information regarding the way in which the House leaders deal with budgets. They have approved a lower amount than we had submitted simply because of the way in which they do budgeting now, which is that they have a global budget for the committees -- I don't wish to get into a long discussion around this; we could do this in subcommittee -- but it's sufficient to meet our needs for the PEI conference. It's just a technicality, so I just wanted to --

Interjections: Agreed.

The Chair: Okay, done.


The Chair: Now the motion by Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: I'd like to make a motion, of which I provided notice to the committee last week, that the standing committee on public accounts consider at its next meeting a motion to invite the deputy ministers of the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health to review the allegations that Houselink Community Homes misused $2.2 million in public funds in the period April 1988 to March 1990, and to review the actions taken by the ministries and by recipients of provincial funds on audit reports. Any motion to involve the Provincial Auditor beyond the current undertaking to follow up on the 1992 report could then be made.

The Vice-Chair (Ms Dianne Poole): Mr Cordiano, would you like to begin the discussion?

Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): In respect of what's been moved, I would like to make a few comments regarding the unrestrictive nature of this motion. The last sentence of the motion that has been put on the floor by Mr Tilson deals with my concerns that this not be constraining or confining to the committee, from this point of view: The matter we're dealing with is not inconsistent with what has come before this committee through the auditor's report of 1992; we dealt with the problems pointed out by the auditor in 1992 in his annual report.

What we're seeing with Houselink, the matter around this one particular agency, should not be viewed as an isolated instance. We understand there are other audits sitting in the minister's office about particular problems that we're not familiar with yet. I would contend that we deal with this matter in as broad a scope as possible so that, first of all, we not point a finger at one particular agency with respect to administrative matters, with respect to the way in which they have had to operate.

The problems we're seeing there -- and regardless of any wrongdoing on the part of individuals, that's a matter that's entirely distinct from what this committee will deal with. What we want to get at are the questions around administrative efficacy, whether things have been undertaken in a proper fashion from an administrative point of view. You have to keep that in perspective.

I think it's important to draw on as broad a range of scope as we possibly can so that we look at this from the point of view that says, "Hey, there's a systems problem," which is entirely consistent with the way in which we reported on problems in the non-profit housing program in the past.


We made numerous recommendations in our report on non-profit housing. Some of these problems relate to lack of operating agreements. Some of these problems were pointed out in the auditor's report. The reason I'm saying this is because I read the government's motion, which I'm sure will follow, and the government's motion attempts to restrict the matter in a way that I think will do no justice to the work we have to undertake here. I think it's important to keep that in mind. By restricting the terms or the parameters of our undertakings here, then we will not see the broad picture, which is, I think, the way we want to approach this. We want to know if there are additional audits that have been conducted and that the problem perhaps is not an isolated instance involving one or two or three agencies.

My contention is that the problem has to do with administrative matters or the lack of systems that would produce more accountability, the lack of efficacy, which is something we've pointed to in the past. To be consistent with that I think we need to look at this from as broad a scope as possible, and my concern is that this motion that's been put before us not be undermined so as not to limit our ability to look at other audits and to bring those forward.

I think this committee should reserve the right to ask for those audits as we deem necessary and to explore this in as fulsome a way as possible. After all, what we're trying to do is get to the bottom of the matter with respect to a full accounting and understanding the consequences of the failings of the system that is operational at the present time within the Ministry of Housing overseeing the non-profit program. We know there are problems. We have dealt with this; we've heard from the ministry. We've also heard from the ministry that they have undertaken to resolve some of those problems. We have discussed this with them at great length, so I do not think we will do justice to the ministry or to anyone involved in these programs or to the taxpayers if we simply restrict the matter to what happened with the Houselink situation, and that we look at all audits that are available.

I support the motion by Mr Tilson and I hope it would be approved by this committee.

The Vice-Chair: We have Mr Marchese and Mr Callahan on the list.

Mr Marchese: Several things: I will respond to Mr Cordiano's comments in a second, but I want to suggest that because the House leaders have met, and I understand there was agreement on the motion that the members have in front of them, I thought it would be a lot easier than I expect.

What I want to do is defeat the motion that is before us. I will read for the record the motion that I want to propose in its place, after it's hopefully defeated, and then speak to some of the points that have already been made.

The Vice-Chair: Just a clarification, Mr Marchese. You said the motion that was distributed to members this morning was an agreement by all three House leaders?

Mr Marchese: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: I'm not sure members were aware of this and I don't know whether this makes a difference to the debate.

Mr Cordiano: I don't think it makes any difference.

The Vice-Chair: Okay.

Mr Marchese: If it makes no difference -- well, for the record, I thought it was important to state that. The motion that, to my understanding, has been agreed to would read:

"I move that the public accounts committee, at its next meeting, will invite the deputy ministers of the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health, authors of the ministries' audits, and senior officials of Houselink Community Homes and the Supportive Housing Coalition to review the ministries' audits of funding to Houselink and Supportive Housing Coalition during the period of 1988 to 1990 and to review actions taken by the ministries and the two organizations on those audit reports and that the committee report to the House by June 9, 1994."

There are several points I want to make with respect to what has already been said. We don't think it restricts the motion, as was proposed by Mr Tilson. In fact, it adds to it.

We propose that others come to the committee to speak to these issues and be in front of this committee to answer questions of the committee members in a way that is much more comprehensive. We've added Houselink here to this issue so that it's more comprehensive in the fact that it deals with another matter that has been made public in the last couple of weeks. We too, like they, want to get to the matter of things.

In terms of the points that Mr Cordiano raises, that it's not comprehensive enough, my point to that would be, the reason for a time line is so that we can deal with this issue as expeditiously as possible. I believe that it can be done and should be done within the space that is here. If we are unable as a committee to do that, something is wrong with the committee members or the process, which could lead us to have interminable discussions on this matter. So the proposed deadline is to allow us to be more efficient and expeditious with the issue.

To the issue Mr Cordiano raises, we are not averse to dealing with a matter that is comprehensive in nature. Therefore, I say, we have had an auditor's report in 1992. As a result of that, the committee made 32 recommendations or so. I am not quite sure how many recommendations it has made. We would be quite happy to have the discussion on that report, invite the deputy minister to come to report to this committee on what has been done with respect to the recommendations that have been made based on the auditor's report and then we as a committee can efficiently deal with those issues, as opposed to some other blanket proposal that you might be proposing that may not lead us anywhere.

I would suggest that we're not dismissing Mr Cordiano's suggestions. We're prepared to deal with that, perhaps not today, but we can do this at another meeting when we have time, and deal expeditiously with these two issues that have been in the public's eye for a couple of weeks.

Once this motion is defeated, I will be moving in its place the motion I have read.

Mr Callahan: I think both Mr Tilson's motion and the proposed amendment are far too narrow. We have seen here that as a result of an audit that was called for by the former Liberal government, the audit was done by the auditor, and I can't downplay it any less than the fact that it was an outrageous operation.

I want to be satisfied that if we're going to investigate this, we investigate ongoing until now. I want to find out if the rot in the wood has rotted further. I think that should be the wish of every member of this public accounts committee. You don't just cut it off because finally the auditor went in and found that there was rotten wood, and say, "That's it, that's all we're going to investigate."

I think we have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this province to ensure that this is not still going on, particularly when one looks at the outrageous allegations of money being put away in slush funds, of the political involvement -- I have to say that -- which was raised in the House, of connections of lawyers who are the husbands of people working for the Minister of Health. We see people involved in it who are also related to other people who are politically involved in the government. Is this still going on? I think even if they're not putting $2.2 million away in a slush fund, the fact that there are potential conflicts of interest has to be cleared.

I recognize that during this discussion on this whole issue, there are going to be suggestions, "Let's just deal with the period that the Liberal government was in power." The Liberal government was in power, but it called for this audit and that's the audit we've got. I think we have to expand it right up to now and see whether or not these people have learned anything from this whole process or whether it just continues on and on and somebody's going to have to write off another $10 million next year.


To freeze this in time in terms of saying that 1990 is the end of it or is the period we're going to discuss, I suggest to you, is kind of like just taking a halfhearted approach to ancient history. The fact of ancient history may very well prove that history is going to repeat itself or is repeating itself, and I think it's very important to this committee that we determine that is not the case.

I find the amendment being made by the government -- and even Mr Tilson's being made by the third party -- is restrictive, because what it does do is restrict us to that time frame in which we have an audit. I think we have to get at the whole process.

I'd like to ask questions of officials. Who's now on the staff of these particular non-profit agencies? I would like the names of them. I'd like to know who's involved in the process in which these future developments are being carried on. I think we have an obligation to the people of this province to determine that tax dollars are being dealt with properly.

On the other side of the coin, I think we have an equal responsibility to ensure that there is housing for people who have psychiatric problems and people who are in need. That's an obligation of any government. On the other side of the coin, if we don't get at the full gamut of this particular issue, and we're allowing money to escape down the sieve again or allowing people to take advantage of the process, we're in fact weakening the whole possibility of looking after those people who need to be looked after and helped because, with the scarcity of funds that there are today, we in fact could use those funds.

We could use the $10 million that was written off. That $10 million would go a long way towards helping in issues such as the children's aid society in my riding, which is being hit with the social contract costs and is mandated legally to look after children, but can't do it because there's the potential of their budgets being reduced.

We have a responsibility and I think if this is going to be an amendment that attempts two things -- first of all, to limit the scope of our investigation; and, secondly, to limit the time within which we can investigate this matter -- then I say shame on the government, if that's going to be the effort of the government to try to vote on this.

I've always tried to maintain in this committee, and I think it should be maintained, that it's a non-partisan committee. Let it hang out. The Liberals, by ordering the auditor to go in and investigate this matter, took the responsible approach by letting it all hang out. We're not letting it all hang out when we stop it in 1990, thank you; we've got a responsibility to go beyond that. It may be that we're going to send the auditor out again.

In the meantime, I want to find out how we stop the gap right now by questioning deputy ministers here and all those who were involved with this. If there's not to be a police probe -- and it seems as though that's not appropriate since according to the auditor there wasn't any fraud involved -- and there's not going to be a royal commission or anything like that, I think we, as the public accounts committee, have a responsibility to put no limits on the time frame and no limits on the time frame of the whole operation. If it's still going on -- and when you look at the track record of the past, there's a real possibility that it is still going on -- we're letting dollars just go down the drain. Those dollars are needed for many of the worthy projects that are being cut back in my riding, in your ridings and throughout Ontario.

Mr Tilson: It's interesting that we're starting to debate a motion that hasn't even been made yet, but I suppose it is relevant to a degree. I will say at the outset, just for the record, my information is this wasn't an agreement by the three House leaders, this was a proposal that was put forward. This piece of paper you've just read to us was delivered to the House leaders, as far as I know. I haven't spoken to our Conservative House leader, to be fair to what you've just said, but I have spoken to his executive assistant. My understanding is this is just an indication as to what the government wishes to do and how it wishes to alter this motion.

I understand, Mr Chair, your concern and Mr Callahan's concern that the intent of this issue isn't to be restrictive, that we may go beyond that. If you look at the latter part of the resolution, certainly my exact intent, when I made the notice of motion last week, was to just do that.

For example, I can tell you the intent of whom I would like this committee to discuss with on the two topics of the Supportive Housing Coalition and Houselink Community Homes. I think we certainly should see, whatever motion we have, the two deputy ministers, the Deputy Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister of Housing. I think that the author of the Ministry of Health report -- it's simply astounding that this was released November 23, 1990, and now it's suddenly surfaced, almost four years later. It's an astounding development.

I'd like to hear from Mr Liu -- if I'm pronouncing his name correctly -- who, I presume is the in-house auditor for the Ministry of Health, V.W.G. Liu, who was the chief auditor, who appears to be the author of this audit report. I think the committee should hear from Mr Singh -- and I'm probably pronouncing his name incorrectly as well -- who is the author, I believe, of the Ministry of Housing report, B. Singh.

Another astounding thing: The Ministry of Housing audit report is dated February 1991 and here we are in May 1994. It is a simply remarkable situation that the ministries and the government have kept these two audit reports under wraps for all this time. I want to know why, particularly when they reveal that the Houselink agency stockpiled $2.2 million in excess funds in its bank accounts. The staff overpaid themselves $248,349 in benefits and excess salaries without approval and used public funds for unauthorized travel, board dinners, parking tickets, wine and liquor for residents' parties. This is all on taxpayers' money. They inflated their expenses for repairs and maintenance and janitorial work. The agency refused to get competitive bids for major contracts. There were sloppy accounting practices and cost overruns on two developments, of $630,000 and $1.1 million.

The Provincial Auditor, to date, on the topic of non-profit housing, has been dealing with the subject of procedures with respect to non-profit housing. Have they been following correct --

Mr Marchese: We can do this next week.

Mr Tilson: Could I have some order in here? Mr Marchese is babbling.

The Vice-Chair: I think, Mr Tilson, to be fair, the concern of some committee members is that we're actually starting to get into the substantive matters rather than dealing with the motion.

Mr Marchese: Mr Tilson, we can discuss this next week.

Mr Tilson: I'm sorry; I would like the floor. I made the motion. I didn't even have the courtesy of the Chair to make the preliminary comments as to why I made the motion in the first place, and all of a sudden we're dealing with a new motion when I haven't even had a chance to make my comments as to why I'm making the motion. All during this time, the government members are babbling over there as to why they're opposed to my motion, which is trying to get at the root of these unbelievable expenses with respect to non-profit housing.

Mr Marchese: You're killing me, David.

Mr Tilson: You're darned right I'm killing you.

Mr Marchese: I'm next on the list.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson, you have the floor. Would you please proceed.

Mr Tilson: I think we should hear from these people, the auditors of these reports and the two deputy ministers. I believe we should hear from Meg Sears, who is the program manager of Houselink -- and who is the mother of Robin Sears, who is Mr Rae's friend and adviser -- and who went to Germany to a mental health convention with Houselink's former executive director, but there are no board records authorizing the trip. I think we should speak to Mr David White, who is with the Supportive Housing Coalition.


Those are the minimum number of people I think this committee should speak to. Why? Because after we hear from those individuals, it may well be that we may wish to speak to others. It may go beyond -- and this gets to the point that was raised by Mr Cordiano and Mr Callahan, that in hearing from the two ministries that -- and they're quite right, but at the very least we should hear from these individuals. Once we've heard from those individuals, it may lead to other things, as to other rot in the system. There clearly is rot in the system and we need to spend some time on that. So I understand Mr Cordiano and Mr Callahan's concern that the intent of my motion should be made quite clear, that at the very least we want to see these people and we may want to, after hearing the representations from those individuals, look at other organizations.

Finally, and since Mr Marchese has commented on a motion that he intends to move after defeating my resolution -- and he has the votes to do it; he can do anything. I guess at this stage, you've got more votes than we do on this side of the floor and you can do whatever you like, but I will tell you, to simply say that you want to go back to the House by June 9 is absolutely nuts, when we know at the very minimum we want to see these individuals. These are large amounts of money. Yes, no criminal charges have been laid. I want to ask the question why there have been no criminal charges laid, because there's a suggestion --

Mr Owens: Oh, so you know better than the police?

Mr Tilson: It may come to that. We're talking about trust funds, we're talking about taxpayers' moneys that have been used for improper purposes, and it may well come to that. I'm simply saying that Mr Cordiano and Mr Callahan are absolutely right, that it may go further than this, but this is what we see at the present time. That's why you have hearings. That's why we have those hearings, so that we can investigate that.

There's no question that beyond that, this motion that Mr Marchese is -- he wants it to end. He wants this issue shut down by June 9. He wants it to stop. He doesn't want the Provincial Auditor to give an independent review of this matter. He wants it to stop, and I don't blame him.

This is a terribly embarrassing thing for your government. You've sat on two audit reports for four years, knowing that these dastardly things were going on and you did nothing about it. The only reason these audit reports were released was because of badgering by the Liberal and Conservative opposition. That's the only reason that these reports are before this committee right now.

It's absolutely outrageous that you would have the gall to come and say: "We're going to shut this topic down on June 9. We're not going to allow the Provincial Auditor to look into this matter further. We're going to report to the House on June 9. Topic closed, that's the end of it, let's get on with other things."

I can tell you, when we're talking about this amount of money, we're not going to allow you to shut it down. We're going to keep hounding you as to why these things have happened. Yes, Mr Cordiano and Mr Callahan are absolutely right: We want to look as to what's been going on while you're in government. You have a lot of nerve coming to this House and saying, "Oh, we're just going to look at the time the Liberals were in power." I want to know what's going on. I want to know why you've kept this quiet for four years.

The Vice-Chair: We have Mr Marchese, Mr Cordiano and Mr Owens on the list.

Mr Marchese: I am happy this particular meeting is being televised, so that those who are watching it, the fortunate or unfortunate few, have the opportunity to listen to everything that we say. I am happy that there is a time limit because when I hear the babblings of Mr Tilson, they will understand that putting a time limit makes sense. He tires me out with the repetition. I think if we hear it once, it should suffice, but he repeats it interminably. He tires the hell out of me and everybody else, I am sure.

My motion takes nothing away from what Mr Tilson says. He speaks of it as if somehow this motion that I will be proposing might conceal something or might not get to the bottom of what he wants to get to the bottom of. Our motion is entirely consistent with his and it adds a few people, adds the review of the Supportive Housing Coalition, adds different aspects of people who should come before this committee: "...the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health, authors of the ministries' audits, and senior officials of Houselink Community Homes and the Supportive Housing Coalition to review the ministries' audits of funding to Houselink and Supportive Housing Coalition during" that period "and to review actions taken by the ministries and the two organizations...."

What this then says is that it becomes permissive. It allows Mr Tilson, Mr Cordiano or anyone else on this committee to ask and do whatever they like.

Mr Cordiano: No. Wrong.

Mr Marchese: It does; it isn't wrong. When you have the ministries here and you have the different officials of the two different communities here that were asking to come before this committee, you are essentially free, as committee members, to ask what you want, and we as a committee are here to make sure that we deal in an open way on these two issues.

Mr Cordiano, you can say what you like. You'll have your opportunity; you're next. I hope you won't babble as long as Mr Tilson.

Mr Cordiano: I never babble, Mr Marchese.

Mr Marchese: This motion is permissive. We are open, we want to deal with this issue. Contrary to what Mr Tilson is saying, we want to get to the bottom of it as much as he does, and hopefully --

Mr Tilson: It's taken you four years to do it.

Mr Marchese: Mr Tilson will have the opportunity to review this, to say whatever he likes, in the next couple of weeks. I personally am very happy that we have a time limit. In order to be efficient as a committee, we need to have a time limit; otherwise members will repeat endlessly the same things that they will have said over and over again.

Mr Cordiano: I'm surprised you would say that.

Mr Marchese: In terms of what Mr Cordiano stated earlier about getting to a much more comprehensive approach to other aspects of the ministry, we're willing to do that, and I spoke earlier about how we can do that. This is specific to these. Once we have dealt with this, I am quite prepared -- and I'm sure the other members are -- to deal with the recommendations that have been made by this committee, invite the ministries to come to respond to it, and give him and others the opportunity to review all the other things that the auditor has already recommended that we review.

Mr Cordiano: Well, Madam Chair, if I may --

The Vice-Chair: Mr Cordiano, you're next on the list, and then Mr Owens.

Mr Cordiano: The members of the government side -- I was reluctant to go in this vein, but I think --

Mr Marchese: Please do. It's televised. I want to hear it.

Mr Cordiano: -- it's difficult not to review these matters and the discussions that are taking place with the kind of cynicism that ensues after what I've heard from the member opposite.

It seems to me that the members of the government side need to take instructions on dealing with matters that come before this committee, as we always have, in a way that maintains the spirit of the committee, one that's open and whereby this committee has acted in an efficient, effective fashion over the last couple of years, as I think all members who have spent time with this committee that long would attest to. We have never had a problem trying to come to grips with how to organize ourselves. I don't think that's the real issue here. The real issue is: What intention does the government have of getting to the bottom of these matters?

It is fine to say that these audit reports relate to the period 1988-1990, but the real issue goes well beyond these audit reports. The point I tried to make earlier is that we not deal so much with these audit reports in particular; that they form part of a comprehensive review of all of the audit reports that are before the ministry.

What would it hurt to have laid before the committee in terms of documentation -- if the government members are listening to this, because I think they'll understand where we're coming from when we express our concerns -- what would it hurt for members of the committee and for the public to review all of the audit reports that have been commissioned by the Ministry of Housing or the Ministry of Health over the past number of years, including any audit reports that have been undertaken during the time of this administration?

I think that would form an essential part of the information package that we should have before us because, after all, if what we're talking about at the end of the day, gentlemen, is the wrongdoings of one particular agency or two particular agencies, then let the police investigate that. Let the police find out if there are any wrongdoings.


We already know there are problems. The audit is before us. It's been made public. We know that. We know there are problems with Houselink. What we're trying to get at here is not the problems with Houselink. What we're trying to get at is the way in which the ministry has conducted itself --

Mr Marchese: We're going to be dealing with this, Joe.

Mr Cordiano: Can I speak, please? I do have the floor at this time.

What we're trying to do is get at the overview, the broad scope of management that has been undertaken by the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health to deal with the problems that have emerged. Have they conducted additional audits? If they saw these audits in 1990, that begs the question that if the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Housing reviewed these audit, they should have been alarmed. After all, they had them in their possession. Having been alarmed, that would have prompted them -- it should have anyway -- to review other agencies for similar problems, because after all, this couldn't be an isolated case, and if it was, then so be it.

After an alarm bell went off, don't you think it would have been logical for the Ministry of Housing or the Ministry of Health to ask itself those questions? If there are these problems in these agencies, these particular organizations, there could be other problems. As the auditor found out, there certainly was the potential for other problems. We didn't look at specific, detailed projects -- at least, the auditor might have -- and reveal that there were systemic problems, problems within the system that would have affected other agencies and other organizations within the non-profit housing program.

My concern is really that we deal with all the audits, whatever audits, whatever information the Ministry of Housing has, whatever information the Ministry of Health has, that we deal with all these audits, that they be given to the public accounts committee so that we may then, in the most logical fashion, because I think that in this, ladies and gentlemen -- I am referring to gentlemen of the government side; there are only gentlemen on that side -- we not deal with this matter emanating from the House leaders, with all due respect to the House leaders, but the House leaders are not informed of this issue in the way that members of this committee are. Members of this committee have dealt with the auditor's report on non-profit housing. We have been familiar with some of the problems that have been expressed by the auditor. We have made recommendations to the Ministry of Housing.

This matter that's before us is not in contradiction with or distinct from some of the problems we have seen in the auditor's findings, the only difference being that we didn't deal with the particular details of the alleged misspending that took place. I'm sure that had we delved in a more detailed fashion into one organization or other, we would have come up with some of these problems.

We have before us an internal audit that was conducted by the Ministry of Housing back between 1988 and 1990, but the auditor also referred to problems in his 1992 report. So we ask the question, what has the Ministry of Housing done to deal with these problems? What actions have they taken? I agree that the motion by the ministry deals with what actions have been taken, but let's not forget that the actions referred to would only deal with the problems between 1988 and 1990 and not with problems that have emerged since.

We know from information that we have that there are other audits before the Ministry of Housing, that are in the possession of the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Health. We should have those audits so that this matter be dealt with in as comprehensive and as broad a fashion as possible so that we deal with the entire matter, getting at the systemic problem and not just one or two isolated incidents. If it were one or two isolated incidents, it would be a problem that could be dealt with in the way that has been suggested by the government motion, but we know that's not the case. We know it goes broader than that.

Again I repeat what the auditor has said in his 1992 report, that the lack of operating agreements -- even to this day there are organizations that do not have operating agreements in place. It was one of our basic recommendations in our report on non-profit housing that operating agreements be put in place. Some of these problems stem from the lack of operating agreements. So I say to you gentlemen, there are ongoing problems --

Mr Gary Wilson (Kingston and The Islands): Well, let's get to them.

Mr Cordiano: Let's get to them by expanding the terms of this motion by agreeing with Mr Tilson's motion, or at the very least I would suggest that we amend the government motion. We're not dealing with it yet, but we will deal with it when we get to it.

The Vice-Chair: Just before we continue with the speaking list, there's been some concern expressed about the wording here. The auditor, as usual, is quite helpful and has made a suggestion. I think Mr Marchese was going to make a friendly amendment to his own motion.

Mr Marchese: When the other is defeated and this is introduced, but for the others to know in advance --

The Vice-Chair: Just so you know in advance that if this motion is brought forward at some time, what the suggestion has been is that the words "during the period of 1988 to 1990" be deleted. It would just open it up.

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Madam Chair: I just find it absolutely remarkable that we're starting to debate the next resolution.

Mr Marchese: Madam Chair, when I get to the motion, I will reread it, including those words.

Mr Tilson: I thought I had the floor on a point of order.

Mr Marchese: No, you don't, Mr Tilson.

Mr Tilson: I'm sorry, I have the floor on a point of order.

Mr Marchese: No you don't. Is he on the list?

Mr Tilson: You just sit over there and keep quiet.

The Vice-Chair: Okay.

Mr Tilson: My point of order, Madam Chair, is that I would prefer to deal with the motions before us until that is disposed of, either for or against. I think we should continue to deal with that. Mr Marchese's just going to have to sit in his place and wait for his motion to be dealt with. It may never come.

The Vice-Chair: That's fine, Mr Tilson. I appreciate your comments. We were simply trying to be helpful and to resolve this so that the scope of the motion would cover what most members want it to be. You are perfectly correct in that we are debating your motion at this time.

I would suggest to members that we continue till 10 to 12 and at that stage Mr Tilson's motion would be put on the floor for a vote.

Mr Marchese: Mr Cordiano has already spoken, Mr Tilson has spoken, we've spoken. We're probably read for the question.

The Vice-Chair: I had more speakers on the list, but if you're ready for the vote --

Mr Owens: I'm prepared to yield my time and get this thing done.

The Vice-Chair: If everybody's ready, we can take the vote on Mr Tilson's motion at this time.

Mr Perruzza: I want to speak.


The Vice-Chair: Mr Perruzza.

Mr Perruzza: I'm next? This is wonderful. I'm going to be supporting the motion put forward by my colleague, but I also want to say that I'm of the view that the focus at this committee should come from the perspective of the taxpayer. I'm of the view that you can't sort of prejudge what may or may not happen here as the process unfolds. I'm not necessarily bound by years; I'm not necessarily bound by specific audits; I'm not necessarily bound by time lines.

The energy I would like to bring to this committee is not a combative energy that proposes to score Brownie points either against this party or that party or this group of people or that group of people. The energy I'd like to bring forward and apply to these audits is energy that looks at the interests of the taxpayer and how those interests are being advanced by the government, by the bureaucracies, by the recipients of the grants, the groups and so on.

While I'm supporting these motions, I'm very interested to see how the process unfolds, always with the interests of the taxpayer at the forefront of the debate. I think that any illusions or when you try to blanket over these things, like, "Well, Jeez, it's the NDP," or, "It's the Liberals," or, "It's the Conservatives that are the people who are responsible for some of this stuff" --


The Vice-Chair: Sorry, Mr Perruzza, a point of order.

Mr Cordiano: On a point of order, Madam Chair: I apologize for interrupting Mr Perruzza, but perhaps we could clarify this matter if we asked the clerk, in terms of a procedural matter, when a motion such as the one that is put before the committee by the government, directing this committee to do certain things in detail, as it inevitably will be dealt with by this committee and probably approved by this committee, once that motion is put to the committee, we have to follow the edict of that motion and the parameters of that motion are pretty constraining. I don't think we could ignore that motion. It's a procedural question, and that's why I raised the point of order. Because the House directs us to do something, as a committee we are then obligated to do what the House has directed us to do by motion.

Mr Marchese: No. There was agreement. There were no directions; it was an agreement.

The Vice-Chair: The clerk has made a point of clarification, that the committee, if it passes the government motion which we have been given notice of, at any time can reach either unanimous agreement or make a subsequent motion to extend that time if, for instance, there was deemed not to be sufficient time to deal with it.

Mr Owens: On a point of order, Madam Chair: Our House leader's person contacted the Tory House leader's office, and I find this astounding because it was our understanding, first of all, that we had an agreement. The language that says "authors of the ministries' audits" was a request by the Tory caucus that it be included in this motion. So I don't understand why we're spending another 30 minutes having a discussion about something that was agreed to by the three House leaders.

The Vice-Chair: We are now, even with your point of order, Mr Cordiano, getting into discussion of a motion that is not yet on the floor. We are still debating Mr Tilson's motion, and Mr Perruzza had the floor.

Interjection: You still have the floor?

Mr Perruzza: Yes, I still have the floor. I was just about to make a similar point. I would urge my colleague to be patient, because this is going to be a long process and he should approach it with caution and with persistence because I suspect that we're going to be here for a while. I'm of the view precisely that as the process begins to unfold and if we need to look at certain matters in a more detailed way or if we need to request other audits, it's well within the purview of this committee to do that.

I think Mr Tilson should leave the committee here today and should reflect on making pre-emptive comments that, "Oh, Jeez, these guys aren't going to go beyond this deadline," or, "Jeez, they're never going to go beyond this," or, "They're never going to go beyond that," because that's absolutely, I believe, not going to be the case.

I'm of the view that I would hold up our record against any record. I'm of the view that if he proposes a sensible motion --

Mr Tilson: I guarantee you'll be holding up your record; I guarantee it.

Mr Perruzza: -- that would want to look at a specific item in the process as it evolves in more detail, he'll find considerable support on this side of the House to do that. So I would caution that he hang on to his hat and that he roll up his sleeves and come to this committee with enthusiasm and energy, because we're going to do something here that I believe is going to be very important.

I'm going to support the government motion. I'm going to support it with the amendments. If the dates and times are removed, I would support that; if they're in there, I would support that. But I reserve the right, as Mr Tilson would reserve the right, to move motions in this committee that would go beyond the parameters of any motion that's passed today or tomorrow or at the next meeting.

The Vice-Chair: Well, Mr Perruzza, it sounds like you're in a very agreeable mood today. You're going to support just about everything. Mr Tilson, you're the final person I have on my speaking list.

Mr Marchese: No repetition, okay, David? Please?

Mr Tilson: Dealing with the motion that is on the floor, the reason I support it is that it is not as restrictive as what the government is saying. In fact, it is more open than what the government is suggesting. The government wants to shut this process down by June 9. Mr Perruzza has said that if necessary he would agree to extend that date, and if that is the case, then why don't they simply take the date out?

The problem we have is that we have two reports, two audit reports from the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health. We know there are others. We know there are other reports and they may be revealed as these hearings unfold. We may wish to look at other authorities. We may wish to look at other housing authorities, from information that comes from these hearings that we are about to embark on. There may be more individuals we may wish to examine, we may wish to speak to.

That's why I simply say that in my short time on this committee -- and I have been on this committee during the tenure of this government, which is since the fall of 1990 -- I've never yet had the government restrict this committee by saying that you can only discuss things for a short period of time, namely, two or three weeks. I've never seen that happen.

I don't blame the government for trying to be as restrictive as it is and narrowing it down to three weeks. I don't blame them, because this is very embarrassing for them. They've sat on two audit reports for almost four years: very serious, wild expenditures with respect to unauthorized expenditures by agencies that are receiving taxpayers' moneys.

I'm opposed to the philosophy of the government to make this as restrictive as it is. I'm opposed to the philosophy that they are ruling out any possibility of the Provincial Auditor, who would be independent in looking at these matters. Quite frankly, on the audits of the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health, I question whether or not, with due respect -- I'm not challenging the individuals who prepared them, but I'm challenging the fact that they were done by two government ministers. I believe these matters are serious enough that they should be looked at by an independent group, namely, the Provincial Auditor. That is his role.

I'm also concerned with the suggestion by the government that it would only look for the period of time in which the Liberal government was dealing with non-profit housing and not look at other matters since 1990. That's the whole issue, and presumably that's why they only want to deal up until 1990.

I believe the motion that I have put forward deals specifically with Houselink Community Homes, because that was how this all arose in the House. It enables this committee to look at other agencies, whether it be Supportive Housing Coalition or there may be other agencies this committee may wish to look at or receive comments from. It enables the Provincial Auditor to in due course receive instructions for being a little bit more specific with respect to reviewing these matters. It enables us to go beyond the scope of what the government wants to do. So I would encourage the members of the committee to support this resolution.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson, thank you for your comment. I've just clarified with the clerk that notwithstanding the fact that the three House leaders have apparently reached unanimous consent that this would be the wording of the motion, this committee is free to have whatever wording we choose.

Mr Tilson: Madam Chair, on a point of order: Mr Owens keeps saying that this is an agreement by the House leaders. That's not my understanding. That's what he says.


Mr Cordiano: It's a motion by you, the members of the committee. Could I have the floor, Madam Chair?

Mr Tilson: I have made a motion that I expect to be dealt with, and just because Mr Owens comes in here and claims that there's an agreement between the House leaders, which is not correct, I would expect that this motion --

Mr Owens: So how does this fit into your 20% expected reduction?

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson has the floor.

Mr Tilson: I would expect that the motion that I was courteous enough to give this committee notice of a week ago would be dealt with and it simply wouldn't be shunted aside because the government doesn't like it.

Mr Cordiano: I would say to the government members of the committee that this is not, as I understand it, now a motion that's referred to us by the government. This is a motion that's introduced by members of the government side of the committee. There's a vast difference there, and I didn't quite make that distinction before.

I think, having said that, it's entirely consistent and entirely appropriate for us to discuss this matter in terms of what we as a committee will do to order our business. If it's a motion that was directed to us by the government, that would have been an entirely different matter. Since this motion is being put to the committee -- it hasn't been put yet, but it will be put by one of the government members -- then this discussion is about how we organize our business on this committee. Therefore there is nothing inappropriate or wasteful about this discussion. We are simply trying to order how much time we will give to ourselves to deal with this matter.

I would say this to members of the government side as well, that quite frankly this is an important matter. We on this side in our party would be agreeable to dealing with this matter for however long it takes to deal with this matter.

Mr Perruzza: Remove the dates.

Mr Cordiano: I will propose a number of things when we deal with your motion, but if you want to deal with the motion that's before us, Madam Chair, which has been put forward by Mr Tilson, then let's move on that and we'll deal with your motion when we get to it, because I want to amend that motion.

Mr Owens: Call the question then. You have the floor.

The Vice-Chair: The final speaker is Mrs Marland. After, we are going to be taking a vote on Mr Tilson's motion. That's what we're addressing right now. If you want some debating time for the government's motion, which it's given us notice of, then I would suggest we wind up this part of the debate fairly soon and then we'll take the vote. Mrs Marland, I think you're the last speaker I have.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I'm sorry I couldn't be here earlier. I'm actually sitting in another meeting at this point in this building.

Just on a procedural matter, it's my understanding that the House leaders met as late as last evening and that this is no longer the motion that the House leaders have agreed on. I know one of the things that isn't included in this motion, which obviously is not the motion that's on the floor, it's the next one that's coming, is that there is agreement now to have the people attend this committee who did the audit.

Mr Cordiano: That's in there, I think.

Mrs Marland: Well, this says --

The Vice-Chair: "Authors of the ministry's audits."

Mr Owens: That's what I said earlier, Margaret, but you weren't here for the first hour and a half.

Mrs Marland: Steve, you obviously are in great humour this morning.

Mr Tilson: Don't be so grumpy.

Mrs Marland: I've just explained why I wasn't here for the first hour and a half. If you'd like to comment on my absence again, I'll explain again that I'm in another meeting in this building.

Mr Owens: That's not necessary.

Mrs Marland: Madam Chair, you wish to deal at the moment with Mr Tilson's motion, and I respect that. Obviously, what's going to happen here is that we're going to have a vote on this motion and we're going to call members to come and vote on it, which will take us past 12 o'clock, I assume.

The Vice-Chair: Not if you have fairly brief comments. You can have your bell, Mrs Marland, although you do have all the members of your caucus here who are entitled to vote at the moment.

Mrs Marland: Yes, but all your members aren't here and all the government members aren't here.

The Vice-Chair: So you, on behalf of the other caucuses, would like --

Mrs Marland: Not having been here for the debate, are the government members supporting Mr Tilson's motion?

Mr Marchese: No, Margaret. We have this other proposed motion in place.

Mr Tilson: Mr Bisson I'm sure will.

Mr Owens: We have another proposal that was agreed to.

Mr Marchese: But even if it weren't agreed to, this is the proposed motion.

Mrs Marland: So you're going to vote Mr Tilson's motion down and then table this one.

Mr Marchese: That's right, replace it with this.

Mrs Marland: That's what I mean by calling the members.

The Vice-Chair: I'm sorry, with due respect, Mrs Marland, I don't see what we're going to accomplish if we delay the vote until after 12 o'clock so that we can't deal with the matter this week. I think all members of the committee today have expressed the fact that we want to deal with this starting at 10 o'clock next week -- in fact, that was part of a previous motion -- and we can't do that if there is no resolution of it.

Mrs Marland: All right. Do you have a list for the next motion? If not, I'd like to speak first on the next motion.

Mr Cordiano: I would like to speak first. Don't we do it in rotation?

Mrs Marland: All right. Then I'll make my comments with this motion.

The Vice-Chair: No, we're not doing rotation. We're doing people on the speaking list, and Mrs Marland was the last person.

Mr Marchese: There will be time.

Mrs Marland: Obviously --

The Vice-Chair: Look, we have spent a good portion of the last 45 minutes at least talking about the government motion instead of Mr Tilson's. Why don't we take a vote on Mr Tilson's motion? Mrs Marland, you've requested that you be the first speaker on the government's motion. Is that agreeable?

Mr Marchese: Oh, absolutely.

The Vice-Chair: Okay. We will now vote on Mr Tilson's motion. It has been read into the record so I don't believe, unless members need it to be read, that we will do that.

Mr Tilson: Recorded vote.

The Vice-Chair: Recorded vote. All in favour?


Cordiano, Marland, Tilson.

The Vice-Chair: All opposed?


Frankford, Marchese, Owens, Perruzza, Wilson (Kingston and The Islands).

The Vice-Chair: Mr Marchese, you have a motion you would like to put on the floor.

Mr Marchese: I will read the motion for the record.

I move that the public accounts committee, at its next meeting, will invite the deputy ministers of the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health, authors of the ministries' audits, and senior officials of Houselink Community Homes and the Supportive Housing Coalition to review the ministries' audits of funding to Houselink and Supportive Housing Coalition to review actions taken by the ministries and the two organizations on those audit reports and that the committee report to the House by June 9.

I'll speak to that briefly. We have removed "during the period of 1988 to 1990" so as to make it absolutely clear that if there are audits that obviously go beyond that date, they be included. I originally believed that when it says in the language "to review actions taken by the ministries and the two organizations on those audit reports," in my view it is permissive and allows members to say and do whatever it is that they like, as they are doing at the moment with respect to these motions.

It's an important matter, Mr Cordiano says, and we agree with him. I don't know how many times we have to repeat the same thing for the members on the other side to understand that we agree as well that it's an important matter. I hope that they don't have to feel the urge to convince us of that over and over again. We are as open on this as they. This motion allows them and us to do this. It is not restrictive, therefore, and we've taken out language that they might perceive to make it more restrictive. It is not inconsistent at all with what Mr Tilson had moved; in fact adds to what he had proposed. It will allow him to say whatever he has said and say it again, and it will allow us to get to the bottom of this in a way that I think will satisfy everybody.

As to the time limit, June 9, I genuinely believe that you need a time limit. If you don't do that, members will feel they have the right to go on ad nauseam, and I don't think it helps us or anyone, for that matter. If it is believed, after we've done some work of three or four meetings, that we might need more time, then I think we would be prepared, as committee members, to look at that. But I'm not prepared to say that this matter should go on indefinitely to allow members to stretch it out for their own purposes without getting to the bottom of it, and I think we can get to the bottom of it in the time that we have.

Mrs Marland: Madam Chair, could the clerk advise me how many meetings we would have of this committee before June 9, knowing that there is one constituency week in there?

Mr Marchese: We potentially have four.

Clerk of the Committee (Mr Todd Decker): Four.

Mrs Marland: We have four? Including June 9.

Mr Marchese: Yes, the 12th, the 19th, the 2nd and the 9th.

Mrs Marland: I'm wondering if the government would be willing to extend it at least by one week, to amend it by one week, only for the purpose that we're talking about two-hour meetings.


Mr Marchese: This date for me I believe allows us enough time to do the work that we need to. I have said that we're prepared as a committee to extend that if we believe that somehow we have left something out and an extra meeting is required. But I'm not prepared to move that date today.

Mrs Marland: Okay. Now the motion says to report to the House by June 9. That means that we can't meet the morning of June 9 and report in the afternoon.

Mr Marchese: Yes, we can. Sure we can.

Mr Gary Wilson: It has been done.

Mrs Marland: And have the report in both official languages? I doubt it. Let's be realistic.

The Vice-Chair: I don't think the report would have to be in both official languages to report back to the House. This is a committee report back to the House; it would not be a public document that would be distributed.

Mrs Marland: I file a weekly report to the House on behalf of my committee, which I chair, and it's in both official languages.

Mr Marchese: No. It's reported in French and English but not the whole report. That is my understanding.

The Vice-Chair: It's not a requirement.

Mrs Marland: If it's not a requirement, then we could spend that morning debating and making recommendations. Is that what you're saying?

The way committees work, this committee then would, for example, meet for three consecutive Thursdays. You're saying the 11th, 18th --

Mr Marchese: The 12th, the 19th and the 2nd.

Mrs Marland: The 12th, the 19th and the 2nd. Somewhere in there we have to draft a report and have our staff write it, or what kind of --

Mr Marchese: I appreciate what you're saying. All I'm saying is that once we have the deadline in mind, the committee then will have to order its business so it gets to the heart of what you want to get to quickly, as opposed to thinking that we have timeless dates to deal with the issue. That's why I'm saying we'll focus the agenda by having this deadline, and it'll focus your thoughts on what you want to get at within that time line. Once we've done that -- I'm not sure, I'm missing your point -- we'll see how far we've gotten and then we'll assess whether or not that date needs to remain fixed or not.

Mrs Marland: I'm not trying to be difficult, Rosario, but if you look at what we have to do, one meeting we would be talking to the ministers, another meeting we would be talking to the senior officials and another meeting, I would suggest, we're talking to the people who did the audits. That's three meetings.

Then we have to as a committee discuss our findings and formulate recommendations and have our research staff write the report, write a draft report with draft recommendations, and we're talking about a matter that involves multimillions of dollars in this province.

We're not talking about something that is at all a partisan issue. The fact that all three parties have agreed that this should take place emphasizes the importance of what it is we're about to start, and what I'm saying is, if we start something that is as critical and as important as this is and do not do it properly, the report will not have any credibility at all. I would suggest to the government members, if they would care to listen, that it is to the government's benefit to have this report done thoroughly and professionally.

It's an ideological difference between your party and ours about these kinds of housing programs. But in order for you to defend to the public this kind of program, in which these examples have shown tremendous mismanagement -- unfortunately, the example that I brought up in the House yesterday may involve criminal mismanagement, and the seriousness of that was not emphasized by me originally. The fact is that the example that I bought up yesterday with the Metro Toronto Housing Authority is being investigated today by Project 80. The police are in there, not because they don't have enough to do; they're in there because there must be serious evidence of serious concerns and possible mismanagement.

My choice in fact would have been to add to this motion the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. I know that since the government House leader has agreed to look at the Supportive Housing Coalition and Houselink Community Homes, there's no way that they would be willing to expand it to Metro Toronto Housing Authority, so I have to deal with that as I can through the House and through questions in the House.

But it's a pretty scary situation that we are in. We have $29 million that has been written off by the Housing ministry of this present government. Written off -- we don't have anything for it. We have $29 million that's been lost.

Mr Tilson: The Minister of Housing just wanted to clean it up.

Mrs Marland: Here we are, we have an opportunity now with this motion to look in depth, ask questions of the ministers and their staff and, more importantly, as the motion says, the people involved in two programs. Now, I want to tell you, government members, you may not know as much about this problem as I do, but there is worse stuff coming. There are more serious situations coming about these programs.

You have an opportunity, each one of you, to stand and be creditable on this in terms of your own communities, because when you go out to your own communities and advocate these types of housing programs and you advocate on behalf of the work of your government, you've got to be able to explain what these scandals are about. If you want to be in a position where you can do a surface, cursory investigation in eight hours -- that's what we're talking about. If we're talking about four committee meetings, we're talking about eight hours.

I would suggest to you, with three parties asking questions, do you know how much time that is for each party, out of eight hours, to all of these people who are going to come before this committee? It is very, very serious. We are not going to have enough time by June 9 to have a creditable report from the public accounts committee on this matter.

The Vice-Chair: Mrs Marland, before we proceed, I'd like some direction from the committee. We have about 10 minutes left, if we wish to take a vote on this matter so that we can begin this matter next week. I have --

Mr Cordiano: On a point of order --

The Vice-Chair: Mr Cordiano, can I please finish my sentence first? Then you may have your point of order. We have four speakers left on this motion. Are we in consensus that we will have a vote at five to 12?


Mrs Marland: I have three people telling me what to do and I can't hear the Chair.


The Vice-Chair: I'm just asking, is it the will of committee members that we take a vote on this motion at five to 12 so that we can commence Houselink next week? If we do not make a decision today, that means we cannot even begin debating Houselink next Thursday at 10, as we had scheduled.

Mr Tilson: On a point of order, Madam Chair: I believe the authors of the report should come first, because they're the ones -- that's how this thing started.

The Vice-Chair: I have no problem with that, Mr Tilson, and the steering committee can meet to decide who comes first. All I'm saying is, if we don't take a vote today and resolve this matter, then we won't be able to begin next week.

Mrs Marland: I agree with you; it's terribly important to take this vote today. I'm simply trying to give an argument --

Mr Cordiano: On a point of order, Madam Chair: There's a motion before the floor that's been put there by one of the government members. I respect the fact that Mrs Marland has the floor, but I would like to make my views known from our party's point of view on that motion.

Now, we can take a vote. We can agree to have the vote taken this morning.


Mr Cordiano: On a point of order, Madam Chair --

The Vice-Chair: Mr Cordiano, I have heard your point of order.


Mr Cordiano: I haven't finished.

The Vice-Chair: I believe there is consensus that we will have a vote in 10 minutes. We have four speakers left. I would suggest we have Mr Cordiano, Mr Perruzza, Mr Callahan, Mr Marchese, and that you take approximately, two, two and a half minutes each so that everybody at least gets an opportunity to put their opinion on the record.

Mr Marchese: I was going to propose we start at 9:30, for the record, so that we'll have two more hours. The next speaker should speak. I just wanted to say that out loud.

The Vice-Chair: We are actually starting at 9:30 next Thursday because of the audit matter.

Mr Marchese: Subsequent to all the meetings, or earlier, if people want.

The Vice-Chair: That certainly, I think, might be helpful in giving some more time for the committee.

Mrs Marland: Take a photo of Rosario; he's being constructive. I'd be willing to meet at 9 o'clock.

Mr Gary Wilson: I wouldn't want that on the record, Margaret.

Mr Marchese: Okay. So, Joe, you're next.

Mrs Marland: I think what is interesting is that obviously --

The Vice-Chair: Could you wind up quickly, just because we have so little time left.

Mrs Marland: I don't mind, but I suppose what's going to be said has already been said in the hour and a half that I wasn't here. I appreciate the fact that I have an opportunity to say something.

The Vice-Chair: Yes, and it has been about 12 minutes.

Mrs Marland: Thank you. I hope that, based on what has been said on the record by some members of the government this morning, if you pass this motion about June 9, you are quite sincere about saying realistically that you would be willing to look at, as the investigation proceeds by the committee, doing a creditable report and having enough time to do something in depth.

The suggestion of expanding the hours even by four, which starting at 9 would accomplish, is very helpful, and I appreciate that. I hope you appreciate that it's terribly important to the government to make sure that you clean house once and for all on this issue. You cannot have one scandal emerging after another and not be willing to take an in-depth look.

This motion says you're willing to take a look. I'm simply saying, make sure that it's a sufficient, in-depth look so you can defend what the outcome is in a professional way and a creditable way, where you're answerable to your taxpayers, the same way that we are.

Mr Perruzza: Madam Chair, I'd like to make an amendment. I want to delete that day, right? I want to propose that amendment; I just want to do it before five to 12. I don't know how I get to it.

Mr Marchese: We're almost there. Joe, go ahead.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, Mr Cordiano, we've got about five minutes left for four people.

Mr Cordiano: I think we should move on and have a vote on the government motion. I, just to put it on the record, would agree with the deletion that has been made. I think that, as regards the time limit, I will take it at face value that the members of the government side will agree, if there is interest on the part of the opposition members, to continue with this investigation after June 9 if it's warranted and if there is a request by opposition members.

I think it would be in the spirit of the way in which we have operated on this committee to do that; otherwise, I would be once again cynical about the government's intentions. If there is further interest on the part of opposition members to ask important questions, and that you not cut off debate, as was evidenced in the past on this committee -- I think it's only justifiable to say that -- I would agree with you on that, if you would agree with that point of view that I'm just expressing. So let's get on with the vote, Madam Chair. I'm amenable to that.

The Vice-Chair: I just have one further suggestion. If we are going to put a date in, we could amend it to June 15, which is the Wednesday following, simply to give time to write the report to go the House. That would mean that June 9 would be used by the committee as a working meeting. That gives four full weeks, plus time to write the report. It doesn't involve another day of committee time.

Mr Marchese: Madam Chair, just to be fair, Ms Marland was suggesting we move it to another week with the existing time lines, starting at 10. If we start at 9, it adds four hours to this discussion, which in effect is like extending it to June 15 and more; it gives us two extra hours. So by starting at 9, we have four additional hours. I don't want to take from some other --

Mr Perruzza: I want to propose an amendment to that motion, because I don't want a blanket to be thrown over these proceedings that says that somehow people are trying to control it so that you don't get all the pertinent information and facts out.

I'd like to add some words at the end of "Housing and Ministry of Health." Where it says, "The deputy ministers of the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Health," add "and other ministry officials, as required or requested by the committee." That broadens it so that this committee, if you want to talk to somebody within the ministry, nobody can be sheltered and say, "So-and-so's going to stay up in the ivory tower." They can be called before the committee.

The other amendment which I would like to make is to put a period at the end of where it says, "on those audit reports," thereby deleting "and that the committee report to the House by June 9, 1994." That gives the committee some range, and if at some point in time it seems that the committee is dragging this thing out and really being redundant in what it's doing, then I would be the one who would introduce the motion that would drop the curtain on the proceedings. That's my amendment.

Mr Callahan: I move the vote on the amendment.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Perruzza's amendment is debatable. Do we have unanimous consent that we will not debate his motion so that the votes can be taken today? Okay, we will first of all vote on the amendment to the motion. All in favour?

Mr Tilson: Recorded vote.


Callahan, Cordiano, Marland, Perruzza, Tilson.

The Vice-Chair: All opposed?


Bisson, Frankford, Marchese, Owens, Wilson (Kingston and The Islands).

Mr Callahan: Guess what, Dianne?

The Vice-Chair: Why do you do this to me?

Interjection: What is the status quo on this?

The Vice-Chair: I am to preserve the status quo of the original motion, which means that --

Mrs Marland: Who says?

Mr Marchese: It's precedent. You know, Mrs Marland. You're the Chair of --


The Vice-Chair: This is the precedent by which the Chair has always been guided, so the amendment is defeated.

We will now vote on the original motion, Mr Marchese's motion. All in favour?

Mrs Marland: Wait a sec. Are you moving an amendment to start to sit at 9?

Mr Marchese: That doesn't require a motion, really. I think we should start at 9, if you want.

The Vice-Chair: I think it is the understanding of all committee members we will begin at 9.

Mr Marchese: Yes, and we could begin, by the way, having the auditors come in first. If there's agreement, we could just decide that right now. Or the deputies. We could decide that now, if you like. So we'll begin with the auditors?

Mrs Marland: At 9 o'clock.

Mr Marchese: Nine o'clock is fine.

Mr Owens: The Tories will pay for legal counsel for witnesses.

Mr Cordiano: I think it should be 9:30, personally. First of all, no one gets here when we have it at 10 o'clock.

Mr Marchese: That's why we should start at 9, because no one comes here on time.

Mr Cordiano: I'd like to see this.

Mrs Marland: Nine o'clock.

Mr Marchese: Is 9:15 all right for the members opposite?

Mrs Marland: No, 9 o'clock.


Mrs Marland: You all live in the city. You don't have as far to drive as I do and I don't have an apartment.

The Vice-Chair: We will start the committee meeting at 9 with the understanding that regardless of whether there is all-caucus representation or all members here, we will start at 9.

Mr Owens: No, 9:15.

Mr Marchese: Madam Chair, 9:15. I'm trying to accommodate some members here.

The Vice-Chair: Okay, 9:15.

Mr Callahan: Madam Chair, I believe this is a matter of significant importance and that all of the hearings should be held in room 151.

The Vice-Chair: The committee hearings will be held in room 151. The clerk has said that is --

Mr Perruzza: Can I ask a question? Will the committee be meeting the week during the caucus --

Mr Callahan: No.

The Vice-Chair: So we have a consensus: meeting 9:15 sharp in room 151. Now may we take the vote on the motion? All in favour?

Mr Marchese: It's unanimous.

Mr Perruzza: Can I make a request, Madam Chair? We're going to get a lot of information, right? Can I make a request that we be provided by somebody with those folders so we can keep it in an organized way?

The Vice-Chair: All right. The clerk can provide us with the organizational folders that we can keep our material in.

This committee stands adjourned till 9:30 next Thursday.

The committee adjourned at 1201.