STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES BUDGETS DES DÉPENSES
Tuesday 19 November 2013 Mardi 19 novembre 2013
The committee met at 0902 in room 151.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): We are here to resume consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation. There is a total of five hours and 19 minutes remaining. When the committee was adjourned, the official opposition had 10 minutes remaining in its rotation.
Before we get to that, all members have before them a letter dated November 18, 2013, from Carol Layton, outlining the documents which were requested by the committee and which have been offered up in written form—six of the eight. So you have six of the eight documents here offered up in written form, and the remaining two are available—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Excuse me, seven documents—five of seven, not six of eight.
The remaining documents are available. They can either be given to the members on a disk or on a key, or the members can ask that they be transcribed, but I understand they’re quite voluminous. I’m in the members’ hands: Do you want it on a disk, a key or do you want it in writing? Any discussion? Anybody proffer an idea? Mr. Leone.
Mr. Rob Leone: We would like them on a USB key, if possible.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right, I’m seeing nods all around for the USB key.
Mr. Mike Colle: I think that’s acceptable; sure.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Then we have the USB key, and we will make that available sometime later today.
Mr. Mike Colle: On a point of order: I’d just like to thank research and staff for the winter maintenance maps—I think they’re really helpful—the Ontario map and all the documents we got. I especially want to thank them for making these maps available through all of Ontario. Thank you very much.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Then, without further ado, it now being, according to that clock, three minutes after 9, we will start with the Conservatives. You have 10 minutes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you. Good morning, Minister.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Good morning.
Mr. Rod Jackson: It’s good to see you. Of course, it might be to your surprise that I have a couple of questions about the Pan Am Games plan. I noticed in my own research that IBI Group was contracted to create a master plan. They were, I guess, retained on April 11, 2013. Can you fill me in on what exactly is expected of IBI and when that plan is due?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The deputy is responsible for managing the contract, so she can describe the particular contracts to you.
Ms. Carol Layton: I’ll also bring up John Lieou, who actually, with his team, was overseeing it. But IBI, absolutely, was retained through a competitive procurement. They have been working for the better part of—oh, my gosh—almost a year, perhaps, John?
Mr. John Lieou: About eight months now.
Ms. Carol Layton: Eight months on the transportation master plan. You can imagine a plan that involves a very large geographic footprint and an awful lot of municipalities and different transit authorities. So it’s a very detailed plan and we have seen it coming in different sort of stages. The version that we’re at right now is version four, and it would be the version that is getting close to being what we would say is the finalized one that we can take out sometime in the new calendar year for public consultation. IBI is indeed the folks. They also did the London Olympics, so it’s a pretty experienced group of people. We’re happy, though, to give you a flavour of the content of that this morning. John and I can easily field that for you as well.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes, I’d appreciate, actually, having a flavour.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, sure. John, do you want to jump in or do you want me to start?
Mr. John Lieou: Why don’t you start?
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure, okay. First of all, there’s a number of different objectives that we want to achieve through the master-planning to support the Pan/Parapan Am Games—18 consecutive days of competition for the Pan Am Games; seven consecutive days of competition for the Parapan part of the games. There are training days in between that. All in, I think, from start to finish, we’re talking about having a transportation plan available for the GTHA, the greater Toronto and Hamilton area, for upwards to 40 or 50 days of training, competition and the time in between. The objectives that we want to achieve, first of all, are reliable travel times for what we call the games family, so the athletes, the officials and the media. That’s going to be critical because they’re going to something like 31 different competition venues. On top of that, there’s a number of training venues, and these are all over the GTHA. I think, when we were in the week before last, the minister might have spoken about the fact that the geographic footprint for the Pan and Parapan Am Games is something like 10,000 square kilometres, so it’s pretty unprecedented. So that’s why; so first of all, reliable travel times for athletes, and that’s critical.
Second is—it doesn’t take much to travel around the GTHA to appreciate that we have a good amount of gridlock in the city and congestion on our highways. In two years’ time, it’s going to be the same or worse. So what we have to also make sure that we have is really good planning in place to encourage people onto the transit systems, fill up the buses, fill up the subways, fill up the GO trains and also still allow the city and the region to function so that we still have people going to work and shippers able to do their jobs. So the commerce of the city still has to function as well. The reliability of travel plus also having a region that continues to function—of course, there’s a para part of the Pan/Parapan Am Games, so accessibility is going to be important, too.
Those are some of the key objectives that we want to achieve. Therefore, the transportation master plan is going to be a combination of things. One is the development of what is called the games route network. It’s transit, but it’s also roads, highways and mapping from where the athletes are staying in the different satellite villages to the different venues and the routes that they will be travelling. So the route is not just for the games family but for 1.4 million estimated ticket holders, as well as a volunteer force that could be upwards of 25,000 or 30,000 people as well. So the development of the games route network is one aspect of it, and that’s something that John can speak about more fully.
Secondly, though, and I think another important thing is something we call transportation demand management. We have to look at everything. Where are the roadworks happening and where do we suspend that work? That’s actually already happening. We’re looking at that certainly provincially and also the cities and the different key municipal partners. We have many municipal partners—upwards of 25 or 26—doing all this transportation planning.
Looking at roadworks, where will we have to think about signalization of lights to facilitate the movement of vehicles? How do we sync up those priority lanes that were in the bid book with our HOV lanes so that we’re not kicking people out of those lanes? That’s an important aspect to this work that we’re doing, as well as to look at those different options that we have.
We’re doing detailed operational planning and, I would say, even detailed micro-modelling at intersections along key parts of the different routes, focusing where we really have to focus, and that would be certainly the city of Toronto; Durham region; because we have some big venues out there; and Hamilton with soccer as well. Those are the key ones. There’s certainly Welland, and there’s Caledon. There are other ones as well, but it’s a complicated, all-in bit of analysis that’s being done. Where we are right now in the planning stage—we’re feeling pretty good about it. I’ll get John perhaps to jump in as well to embellish where I’ve left off.
Mr. John Lieou: Sure. Maybe I’ll expand a little bit on the games route network concept that you were talking about, Carol.
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Can I just get in for one quick second? I’m sorry. We don’t have a lot of time, so I just want to make sure I get some of my questions asked. This is great to know. Thank you, and I’m sorry to interrupt you.
What is the cost of IBI to do this and how much of the plan was done—how much was the plan you’re talking about? It sounds like you already have a fair amount of work done on this. What is the cost of hiring IBI to do a master plan? When are you expecting to get the full master plan from them, and what amount of work have you done prior to hiring IBI? Sorry; there are three questions there.
Ms. Carol Layton: I’ll get John to jump on this. Sure; happy to answer this.
Mr. John Lieou: Yes, for sure. The IBI contract is going to be about $1.8 million. They are actually working with not just us at MTO, but the planning work that Carol was talking about actually has been done in conjunction with all the partners who are hosting, who have venues—all the municipalities—Toronto in particular because they have many, many venues, and Hamilton, Ajax and so on. They’re all at the table working along with us and IBI.
IBI brings their expertise—Carol was mentioning that. They were part of the London planning and so they bring that expertise to the table, working with us. They support us in the modelling work. They support us in the expertise they bring from their various experiences in transportation demand management and things like that.
Mr. Rod Jackson: And when is the master plan expected to come forward?
Mr. John Lieou: As Carol was saying, we do expect that by very early next year, 2014. We expect to be able to actually talk to the public about the draft plan.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Where does the budget for the plan come from? You said it’s $1.8 million, right?
Mr. John Lieou: It’s $1.8 million for the IBI work, yes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Is that out of the Ministry of Transportation budget?
Mr. John Lieou: Yes.
Ms. Carol Layton: So what the ministry—just in that regard, what we’ve done is—certainly it’s a priority. I’m a great believer that you look for the highest and best use of the dollars you have. We made sure that within the ministry, supported by the talented folks we have in our finance branch and our chief administrative officer, who’s here today, we’re able to reallocate and make sure that we can support this contract through existing resources as opposed to incremental resources.
Mr. Rod Jackson: So that’s the cost of getting the plan. Do you have an idea of what the cost of executing it is going to be, or is that going to be part of what comes through in the master plan?
Mr. John Lieou: As we go through different versions of the plan, of course we do estimates. We don’t have final estimates yet, to answer your question, and we do expect that as we get closer to the final plan—collectively, all the partners still have ultimate decisions to make as to ultimately what it should be. For example, the work that Carol was talking about is being done at a staff level right now. So it’s technical staff-level work. We still need to work with the various municipal jurisdictions, as well as our own government, to make the final decisions, along with final costs.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I’m going to have to stop you there. The time has now expired. Hold on to your thoughts. There’ll be another round this morning.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Thank you very much. Can you open your ministry briefing book, page 18?
Ms. Carol Layton: You’re talking about the estimates?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes. Page 18. I’ve got a couple of questions.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes. Actually, we’ll bring up our CAO, if you don’t mind, Linda McAusland, as well, who has led the team that put it together. So page 18?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, okay. Just down in provincial highway management, the estimate is $428 million. You’re showing a negative change of $42 million over last year. What was that savings? I’m just trying to figure it out. I couldn’t find it in the book.
Ms. Linda McAusland: The savings are attributed to lesser contract costs coming in through our bids, through our AMC model.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: That would probably explain the bad condition of my highways last winter. Right, Minister?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: They’re going to be fabulous this year.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I look at it and I’m looking at what the offset is. The $42 million less is what you spent less in the renewal of bids, like the renewal of contracts? Is that how you got to that, that when contracts ended and you had to renew contracts, there were savings in regard to what people bid? Is that what you’re getting at?
Ms. Linda McAusland: No, it was the cost of the contractors to actually do the business. There was—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, so they were performance-based contracts; therefore, there was less work and less money paid out.
Ms. Linda McAusland: No.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No? Then explain it.
Ms. Linda McAusland: It was the cost based on our performance-based contracts.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes. Your performance-based contracts are based on how much work they do, right?
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: They had less work than the year before, so there was a $42-million savings?
Ms. Linda McAusland: No, I think it was through efficiencies. We didn’t specify how the contracts had to be delivered. It was more performance-based, so based on the innovation that they could bring.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Is there any chance I can get a breakdown about how you came up with that $42 million? This is reflective of what we saw last winter, right?
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, and you know that last winter I, Mr. Vanthof and pretty well every northern member were on the minister’s—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Case?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Case. Thank you for helping me out there. I didn’t have—a Fordian moment.
We were on the case because what we were seeing was that highways were in terrible condition last winter. The constant complaint that we were getting from communities across the north and from people utilizing the highways—you’d get phone calls from the OPP etc., that highways were not maintained at the standard that we expected to see and that we used to see. So I’d like to see the breakdown of that $42 million, exactly how that happened and how you found those, if you could give that.
Ms. Carol Layton: Mr. Bisson, if I could just add some comments on that, I can first of all give you complete assurance that we really watch the performance of the area maintenance contract companies. Certainly in northern Ontario we’re well aware of the sensitivities of all of that. We did put additional money in to make sure that we would be responsive to what we were seeing and that there was additional plowing, certainly on passing lanes and shoulders.
The other point I want to make is that we hold these firms to the performance standards that are in those contracts. So it’s not about an underperformance, but it is about those performance standards. It’s also about some pretty extreme—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: It’s also how much snow you get.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s also about the extreme weather conditions and the folks driving in that weather.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I get it.
Ms. Carol Layton: But I would also say, as we said the week before last, that we’ve done an extensive review of this through the summer and fall—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’ve given the minister some credit for that already. Let me get to my questions; you’ll see where I’m going.
Ms. Carol Layton: Okay.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: If I can get a breakdown of the $42 million, that would be helpful.
I remember when this privatization was done by the Conservatives, and the promise was that we were going to save 10% at least over the last years by going to the private sector model. Is it possible to figure out what it would cost us today if we were still doing it ourselves, compared to what it costs us now? I’m looking at that number, the $428 million, and I’m not convinced that we’re getting good value for our dollar compared to the system we used to have, which was that MTO had plows and 50% of the plows were private contractors and we called them in only when we needed them—that kind of thing. Is it possible to get that figured out, or is that—
Ms. Carol Layton: If I could answer that, Mr. Bisson, we certainly could. It’s not going to be overnight, because I think what you’re almost asking for, given that this is now a contracted operation, is, what if MTO brought it all back in—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, no. I don’t want to know what the cost—
Ms. Carol Layton: —so it’s almost like a zero-based budget. We could certainly do that analysis.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, no. I don’t want you to spend a whack of money to figure this out. That’s not my point.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s not money.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: It’s staff time, which equates to money. My point is that I’m trying to remember, way back when Harris first did the download, what we were spending in total under that line. If we can extrapolate from then, what the normally ongoing increases would be, what would be the comparison?
Ms. Carol Layton: Okay, we can do that analysis.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: That’s all I was looking for.
The other thing: Underneath the labour and transportation cluster, there’s a $6-million savings. Can you explain what that is?
Ms. Linda McAusland: It’s a salary and wage budget adjustment. There were—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Less staff?
Ms. Linda McAusland: No, staff moved to other areas—the same number of staff, but there were some that were in the cluster and some were transferred to a different model in Guelph, based on MGS. So it’s just a reduction to MTO, but it’s not a reduction to the government overall.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, got you. I looked at policy and planning, and it went up almost $1 billion—it’s up $828 million.
Ms. Linda McAusland: Yes, there were various things. The electric vehicle program, we upped a little bit to respond to the growing demand for electrical vehicles—our subsidy program. Our gas tax went up. It’s a number based on the actuals for gas tax, so that number would reflect that also.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: The other thing is just, quickly, on the road user safety. I think we all know that highways are among some of the safest in North America, so this is a reflection that we’re doing something well. I’m looking at what we spend on road user safety and, again, it might be in here; I haven’t had a chance to look at it in detail. If you could just give me a bit of a breakdown what that really means—what are we spending that $111 million on? What do you count in as $111 million on road user safety?
Ms. Linda McAusland: Go ahead.
Ms. Carol Layton: Actually, there are a number of functions there, but I think one of the big things that’s in the road user safety budget is actually the commercial vehicle enforcement program. There’s a fairly big operation there: the people who are out there on the roads at the different truck inspection stations as well as the folks who are actually pulling vehicles over. That would be a big part of the road user safety budget; it’s a key operation.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Is it broken down in the estimates binder and I haven’t seen it?
Ms. Carol Layton: It should be—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: As you’re looking, I’m going to get to my next question: why 100% increase on ministry administration over last year?
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s attributed to our fleet model. We essentialized all 1,200 vehicles that were across the OPS into the ministry, so we have a fleet centre of excellence. We administer the use of fleet for everybody except our specialized vehicles. That’s everybody except our enforcement and OPP—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So if MNR has vehicles, they’re now MTO?
Ms. Linda McAusland: They are now managed by MTO.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: That means to say that there’s an offset savings within those ministries.
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So if I go look at MNR, AG and the rest of them—
Ms. Linda McAusland: Exactly; you can see the money that was transferred to the ministry.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Is that a savings or an increase in cost overall to the government?
Ms. Linda McAusland: It’s a net. It’s just that we transferred the operating amortization and capitalization of the existing fleet.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: But if you did that, I would assume that there’s some sort of savings, that’s why we did it, right?
Ms. Linda McAusland: It’s an efficiency. We’re hoping for savings based on better procurement of vehicles and better use of staff.
Ms. Carol Layton: And better management of the asset itself.
Ms. Linda McAusland: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: All right, I’ll look at the other estimates and come back—
Ms. Carol Layton: And Mr. Bisson, the road user safety is on—it should be about page 66, I believe.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, I’ll look at it and I’ll get back to you on that. Let me get you to page 23 now.
How much time do I have?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Lots, 12 minutes.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: All right. I’m going to talk about bridges. So you’re saying, on page 23 at the bottom, you spent roughly about $77 million. I take it that’s $77 million, right—
Ms. Carol Layton: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: —in bridge rehabilitation/reconstruction, and in the north you did $25 million for a total of a little bit over $100 million. It used to be, at one time, that the ministry had their own engineering department that looked at the bridges and did all the inspection. Who does that now?
Ms. Carol Layton: So why don’t I bring up the chief engineer for the province of Ontario. I think folks would like to—if you don’t mind—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, absolutely. That’s why they’re here.
Ms. Carol Layton: Come on up, Steve.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: You guys get paid the big bucks; get on the camera now.
Ms. Carol Layton: He can certainly take you through the—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: And he sits to the left of the minister, that’s saying something.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes, it is.
Ms. Carol Layton: We have chart that we’d be happy to share with this committee, just as an opener, that would show you that back in about the mid-1990s, the Ministry of Transportation had 8,500 Ontario public servants in it, and today we’re at about 3,500. So we’re 5,000 fewer. That’s not just area maintenance contracts, it’s also a lot of the work that we do around engineering inspection. There’s no doubt that there’s a fair amount of divestment of functions based on, sort of, core businesses. That’s just the opening statement and there’s actually a chart that might be in our book, but if not, we’re happy to provide it.
Steve, if you could provide an explanation on the whole function around bridge inspections.
Mr. Steve Cripps: Certainly.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So my specific question is: I want to know who’s doing it now.
Mr. Steve Cripps: It’s a combination. In terms of inspections, it’s a combination of in-house bridge engineers, MTO bridge engineers and outsourcing.
Throughout our five regional offices and head office, we have bridge expertise; we have licensed engineers who are bridge experts. As part of delivering a huge program, we can’t do it all in-house, whether it’s bridge inspection or bridge design. But we do like to retain—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: But just one second: We used to do it all in-house at one time, right?
Mr. Steve Cripps: It has been a long time since we’ve done it all in-house.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, but it used to be.
Mr. Steve Cripps: We’ve always outsourced to some degree. Just based on the volume of work for both inspections—we have about 2,800 bridges in the province, so that’s a lot of inspection. By legislation, bridges are required to be inspected every two years. The fall engineering inspections are done in the interim—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Which brings me to my second question. I was going to get to that. There’s a requirement for inspection every two years, as you said. Are we doing it?
Mr. Steve Cripps: Oh, absolutely. Yes. Again, it’s done either by in-house resources or through consultants under the direction of a licensed professional engineer. Each of the five regions is responsible for delivering that inspection program, and each of the five regions reports to both a chief engineer—myself—and the assistant deputy minister to report when all those bridge inspections are done to verify—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: And is there a difference in the standard of the inspection? Is it any different than it used to be before? Is it more rigid? Is it less rigid?
Mr. Steve Cripps: It has probably evolved over time. It has probably become more rigid over time. There is—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: You’re saying that the standard of inspection has increased as far as what it used to be?
Mr. Steve Cripps: I wouldn’t say substantially. It has always been a very rigorous and thorough inspection. We look at each component of the bridge. Each component gets rated in terms of its condition and then the bridge gets an overall rating. We use that for asset management to decide when to rehabilitate a bridge or when to expand a bridge. So it’s always been extremely rigorous in terms of the inspection.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I only asked the question because I ran across some people that were in that kind of business, and they were sort of indicating that it was the opposite; that, in fact, we were doing a lesser standard of inspection today than we used to in the past. You’re saying that’s not the case?
Mr. Steve Cripps: My experience has been that it hasn’t been reduced—our bridge inspection. That’s certainly one of our top priorities in terms of road safety. Lately too, it’s one of our top priorities in terms of expenditures. We’ve got our pavements in fairly good condition, and we’re really focusing on the bridges—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Back to your asset management: So all of this goes into a great big book or a great big computer program somewhere in the sky that says, “Here’s what needs to happen to these bridges.” Are we meeting the actual timeline or timetable when it comes to doing whatever preventive work that needs to be done on those bridges to keep them in good repair?
Mr. Steve Cripps: Yes, asset management is all about taking the dollars you do get and making the best use of it. No road authority will ever have enough money to do all the right things at the right time, so it’s a matter of doing the best investment with what you’ve got.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question, I guess, is on the asset management list—I’m just going to make a round number—let’s say the magic number is 100 bridges that have to be brought up to whatever standard. To what percentage of that 100 are we actually meeting what we would like to be able to do?
Mr. Steve Cripps: We have a performance target for bridges where 85% would be in what’s called “good condition.” When we do this overall rating, based on life cycles of the bridge, we want 85% to be in good condition. We’re into the 70s right now, which is really good. It’s probably the highest we’ve been in a number of years.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Meaning 70% of all bridges are in great repair?
Mr. Steve Cripps: That’s right. Oh, it’s over 70—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: What about the other 30%? That’s my question. What about the other 30%?
Mr. Steve Cripps: The other 70 would be programmed for work in our—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: The other 70? Thirty.
Mr. Steve Cripps: Oh, sorry. The remaining bridges that are required for rehabilitation would be on our five-year capital program. In this year’s budget, we also got additional funding for bridges to recognize—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Just one second, Glen. I know you’re wanting to jump in, but just one last question before you do—Mr. Minister, I should say, sorry. This is so different from the federal House; they are a lot less formal around here, which is a good thing, I believe. Anyway, I won’t go to talk about what happens at city level. That’s a whole other tune.
Back to asset management: That 30%—are you confident that, in fact, we’re getting to the rehabilitation of bridges in a fast-enough way, that we’re meeting our obligations?
Mr. Steve Cripps: We’re getting close to our performance target. Let me just add too, though, that in terms of asset management and five-year programs, if there’s a safety issue with a bridge, all of those processes go by the wayside and we deal with the safety issue. We’d never prioritize something—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Like a bridge in Latchford falling down or something?
Mr. Steve Cripps: —down the list. So—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: We won’t talk about that.
Mr. Steve Cripps: We do deal with safety issues first, and that was one we did—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Minister, you wanted to add something before I go to the next part?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Just three components that I think are important. One, we’ve just funded the Ontario Good Roads Association. They’ve done an inventory of all of our rural roads. They are now in the middle of a bridge study. What that will do is integrate all the municipal data and sort of measures of standards with ours, and those two programs are to be the foundation for the new rural roads and bridges program and deals with the criticality.
We also have the iCorridor project that’s under way right now, which is actually measuring all of our routes, bridges, to look at conditions and to put that on—the idea through open government is to make that public, so you and your constituents can actually see the full measure.
The third thing is with MIII, the asset management plans revealed some challenges. I was up Saturday with MPP Mantha looking in Espanola at a bridge that the municipality has identified as critical. It’s also the main connection to Manitoulin Island. So those things will move up on criticality through the specific program that’s now in place. There’s another, I think, $40 million.
So there’s a number of initiatives that are connected, but I think part of it is to make it more transparent, which I think is the point that you are making, and to try and integrate all of the people who collect data and do inspections and put that in one place.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Well, I asked the question for a couple of reasons. One—the municipal thing I’ll deal with separately. But there have been a couple of occasions where people have mentioned, engineers that I’ve run across—and these are guys in the private sector, which I thought was kind of interesting. Were they either gunning for more work or were they actually ringing an alarm bell? I’m not quite sure. But I get the sense that we’re not getting to the repairs of bridges in as timely a way as we need to, and they seemed to be indicating that the inspections as well were a problem. You’re saying the inspections are not a problem, to be clear; that in fact we are meeting our obligation of inspecting every bridge in this province every two years?
Mr. Steve Cripps: Absolutely. It’s a legislated requirement under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, and we do them every two years.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Is the asset management plan provincially currently online?
Mr. Steve Cripps: Our five-year capital program is online. There’s a northern version because northern highways are funded through MND. There’s a northern version and a southern version, so it shows all the plant rehabilitation and expansion for the next five—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Can you give me the URL for that?
Mr. Steve Cripps: Yes.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I don’t need to request the documentation because it’s all online, right?
Mr. Steve Cripps: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So if you could give me the URL, I’d like to take a look at it.
Mr. Steve Cripps: Certainly. It’s on the ministry’s public website, but I can provide that.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, just give it to me. It just makes my life a lot easier.
Mr. Steve Cripps: Certainly.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m technically savvy only to a point.
I’m going to get to the point that the minister made in regard to municipalities. They’re coming to see you by the droves in regard to the bad condition—we won’t even talk roads right now, but on bridges, where they’re having to close down bridges and stuff.
To what degree is the province trying to figure out a way to be able to assist municipalities in meeting the financial obligation of making those bridges safe?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Very much so. First of all, just to your earlier comment about planning, I think there’s a very strong feeling in the ministry and the government that infrastructure planning has been a priority with asset management and we have a lot more to do. In the next few months, I hope we can move much more aggressively on much stronger planning database mechanisms to provide more stability and more predictability so we’re getting better value for dollars. The longer term the plan you have, the more effective your spending is.
The big challenge we have—and this is what we’re working with Good Roads and AMO and ROMA on, and I know many of your colleagues, especially in the north, have been particularly engaged in this with their own mayors as well: For example, if you have, let’s say, $10 million to spend on bridges, you could put that all into one bridge that’s quite deteriorated or you could actually invest in 20 or 30 bridges and buy each of those 40 more years of life. Sometimes when you don’t have a good planning regime, the squeakiest wheel gets all the money, and then you end up with 40 more bridges in five or 10 years that are in that same condition and you’ve dug yourself into a hole you can’t get out of. So that’s really important.
When we did the MIII program, we’re up from about $3 billion to about $14 billion in infrastructure spending, and I can tell you, it’s still not enough. That’s, what, over a 400% or 500% increase? It’s the tension between getting in early enough to extend life and then dealing with those occasional bridges that are just so far gone that they need complete replacement. I would give the one on the road to Manitoulin as an example of one that should have been interceded in much earlier but now is a complete replacement job rather than a repair job. We’re hoping that all of that data will be available. I think it’s helpful if all MPPs know this, when they’re talking to their mayors, and AMO knows that.
My guess is that we were oversubscribed in that program by about a factor of 3 to 1 in the first year, about $100 million. I think we want to probably, if you evened it out, get that program up to $200 million or $300 million on a regular basis, because we also have the capacity of municipalities. We have more construction going on in buildings and in infrastructure right now than ever in the history of Ontario, so there’s not a lot of capacity in the private sector to do a lot more work right now. We don’t want to be paying premium prices because we’re pressing the edge of capacity, and some of the municipalities have told us that as well. But we’re trying to get this into more integrated planning and increase the spending.
I’ve got to close by saying that the point is it’s not just simply a challenge of more money; it’s a challenge of better infrastructure planning. We’ve got to marry those two, and we’ll probably need the help of the Legislature to do that.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): That’s the end of the time. Actually, it’s one minute over, but you were in full flight so I let you go.
Next questions: Ms. Mangat.
Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Thank you, Chair. Minister, I have recently heard comments by the Leader of the Opposition saying that he would cancel some of the projects in the Big Move. These could include the Hurontario LRT, which would pass through my riding, and various BRT projects that are currently under way, and one of them is in my riding as well.
What impact would his suggestion have on the congestion that we are facing in the greater Toronto-Hamilton area?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I think one of the challenges we have is that we’ve got to understand the relationship between rapid transit infrastructure and economic development. There’s a model that’s now being developed in Metrolinx and in the ministry that is looking at two considerable parts of that, and I’ll give you one example of why we think this is so critical for jobs and for investment. They talk about the relationship between the economic capacity of land and transportation capacity.
You’ll remember the old Eglinton subway that was filled in. It was more than a transportation decision. If you go along Eglinton, you come to Don Mills. Many of us are familiar with Don Mills, where Celestica used to be. It was a high cluster of businesses. It was one of the largest commercial parks, if not the largest. It was the most centrally located one, and it was dependent—to get the investments and the jobs there, they needed higher-order rapid transit to continue—that was pointed out by the city of Toronto at the time, so the subway decision was made to extend it there—and commercial trucks in and out. The Don Valley Parkway is congested; you can’t move goods in and out.
If you actually look at the value of land at the Don Mills industrial commercial park, it has declined. If you actually look at Celestica and the employers that have gone, much of the economic capacity of that land has been reduced. Why is the Don Mills industrial commercial park no longer a dynamic economic base? Because there isn’t the transportation capacity.
You cannot overbuild transit. You can have too much economic capacity. For example, if you put a subway in and it has to carry 30,000 people, but your potential ridership over 10, 20 years is only 3,000 or 4,000 per hour and you’ve got the capacity for 30,000, your operating costs are huge. The Sheppard subway line: Every time someone pays $3 to get on it, they pay $18 in government subsidy. So you’ve got to be very mindful that you’re not building things. When you’re saying that you want to build subways everywhere, as Mr. Hudak and some others have suggested—he’s not alone in that—you’re really taking on hundreds of millions of dollars in operating subsidies for overbuilding. It’s like buying a car that you can’t afford. The Hurontario LRT has been well planned by the city.
I worked on a project, when I was president of CUI, with some of the leading experts, that actually says that. This argument that somehow, if you put in an LRT—I think it’s a very small amount—and you reduce a lane of traffic—there’s actually a net increase in the amount of capacity on that road, because a well-planned LRT will take about 50 or 60 cars off the road per vehicle on that road, so you’re actually creating capacity. The UK, the Americans—LA is doing that; Seattle has done that; New York is doing that, because we’re trying to integrate highway, road and transportation planning. If you didn’t do the LRT, what you’d end up with in Mississauga is gridlock.
The other problem is that Mississauga is the second-largest commercial centre after Toronto. It’s bigger than Calgary, and it has no rapid transit. What you’ll see happening in Mississauga in some of the industrial and commercial lands is the same thing you saw in Don Mills. If we don’t get that LRT there in time, we will start to lose the economic capacity of land, remembering that there are about 48 million square feet of office space in northern Mississauga along the Hurontario line. That’s more than half as much as in the central business district. Calgary only has 32 million square feet of office space; Mississauga has about 48 million.
Could you sustain a subway in Mississauga? No, and I don’t think the city of Mississauga or Peel region could afford the subsidies. So we like the flex technology of LRT, which can run underground and can run above ground. The model I would refer you to, which I think is sensible, just to get an idea of it—and we’re looking more at elevated right now through Metrolinx—is the system in the GVRD, where Surrey and Coquitlam do not have subways; they have LRTs that run at ground or at above-grade. It works very well. As a matter of fact, I cannot find a system in the world where subways are used in mixed-density suburban environments.
I think the Metrolinx plan, the Big Move, is very good. Our challenge is, we’re picking up 90% of the cost. The federal government is in for 3.85%. We do get a little bit more money in the 905 than we do in the 416, but it’s still inadequate. The Hurontario LRT is probably about 25% of what we actually should be building in Mississauga, quite frankly, if we had the money.
Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Some of us on this committee were on the aggregate review at committee. We went across the province. We went up to Manitoulin Island. We were through the Kitchener area, Guelph; everywhere. One of the things that we learned—it’s quite interesting—is that the major concern of the people in the area of aggregate extraction was the impact on roads. The heavy trucks moving aggregates were causing an undue hardship on local municipalities because of the weight and the constant travel.
Some of these host municipalities in the Peterborough area and the Guelph-Cambridge area were quite willing to accept the aggregate reality, but they were saying that there isn’t really enough support to provide road maintenance upkeep for those host municipalities and surrounding areas. In some cases, the host municipality was getting a subsidy, a certain percentage per tonne, from aggregate extraction, but a neighbouring one was not, yet their roads were being ruined.
If there is anybody here from the ministry that could maybe just give us a bit of an insight into that? I know that the aggregate resource review report has been submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources as of a couple of weeks ago. But I think it really is of importance for MTO to play a role in responding to this very crucial situation, especially for some of the smaller municipalities. Some, as I said, are not benefiting at all by the extraction.
I don’t know if there’s anybody here in the ministry that could—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’ll invite Gerry Chaput up.
When I was president of the Canadian Urban Institute, we did a major study called Between Rock and a Hard Place, of which I’m one of the co-authors—
Mr. Mike Colle: So Gerry is—what is his title?
Ms. Carol Layton: Gerry is the assistant deputy minister for provincial highways management.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: But I commend the report to you. Gerry?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Thank you very much, Minister. The Aggregate Resources Act that you’re talking about is actually mandated by the Ministry of Natural Resources. We have aggregate staff that deal with the municipalities and with the Ministry of Natural Resources staff on that act and that municipal levy that’s charged per tonne.
We’re well aware of the situation and have been working with MNR to try and ensure that—as you mentioned, they can be located in one township but the haul route leaves that township and goes into another—the wealth is spread over the two municipalities and that there’s co-operation between the two. At times, it doesn’t occur; at times, there are operations that don’t facilitate the use of using that levy. We’re working with them to try and ensure they’re aware of different pavement treatments that they could be considering; ensure that the roadbeds are of substantial strength; our road user safety legislation ensures that the axle loadings are correct or that they aren’t overloaded so that the damage to the roads is minimized. We check, in terms of when they’re being weighed, that the trucks are not overloaded, as well, on periodic audits of those.
So we do a number of steps, in addition to working with our Ministry of Natural Resources sister ministry, in terms of trying to ensure that the damage to those roads is minimized and that we educate the municipality in terms of proper road treatments and other aspects they might want to take into consideration.
Mr. Mike Colle: I’m just wondering whether, in the estimates, there’s any place here that demonstrates that there’s going to be a financial commitment. I know the ultimate thing is the financial commitment made in the suggested changes in the tonnage paid for aggregate to municipalities—I know that is going to be the main source of revenue. I think that was one of the recommendations. Gerry, have you seen the report that—
Mr. Gerry Chaput: I have not, no.
Mr. Mike Colle: I suggest you take a look at it. There are some very good recommendations. Joe Dickson from Ajax went all across the province, and he, myself and others from all parties really think it’s important that MTO get very involved in that—because none of us realized how critically important the aggregate industry is, but also the impact on local municipalities. And we’ve got the crack researcher, Mr. Richmond, who would certainly appreciate recognition of his leadership on this, and I’m saying that in a very commendable way, because it was a real eye-opener for all of us, who may not have been exposed to this.
The good news in that report that we found out was that there’s a private member’s bill from the member from Dufferin–Caledon, Sylvia Jones, which talked about the encouragement of the use of recycled aggregates, and I think the report includes that in the—her bill, basically.
The positive thing we found out in our hearings was that MTO is quite ahead of the curve in terms of using recycled aggregates. They’re using, I think, up to 18%, 20% of recycled aggregates in their road builds, and we were pleased to hear that. But the thing that we weren’t pleased to hear was that local municipalities are still refusing, for the most part, to use recycled aggregates because they claim that their engineers say that recycled aggregates aren’t up to standards for the local municipality—yet they’re up to standards for MTO.
One of the recommendations that the committee came up with is that MTO play a leadership role in dialoguing with local engineers from the municipalities so they could be made aware of MTO’s findings in using recycled aggregates for major highways, like the 400-series etc. And yet the local engineers say, “Well, we don’t want to go near recycled aggregates.”
I’m just wondering if you would comment on that dichotomy between the local engineers and the MTO engineers.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Certainly. The Ministry of Transportation is recognized as a leader in North America in terms of recycling. We’ve developed and perfected a lot of methods, such as cold-in-place recycling, where the pavement is actually picked up on the road and put back down, all in a single operation. So it never leaves the road, it’s never trucked over to a plant for processing and trucked all the way back. The savings in greenhouse gases, the savings in terms of the natural resources are significant.
We’ve also used hot-in-place. We’ve also used alternative materials. We just finished the boundary road structure in Cornwall using shredded rubber tires—again, 400,000 rubber tires taken out of landfill, used in a fill where we would have been using non-renewable resources to build an embankment leading up to the bridge, so a significant amount of testing and work that we’ve done.
We’ve participated with OGRA, the Ontario Good Roads Association. We have materials experts who attend those conferences who provide learning opportunities and discussions and presentations on the work we’ve done with cold-in-place, the work we’ve done in terms of our specifications of allowing recycled materials in our mixes, looking at the new science in terms of what better uses can be provided for the asphalt that we tear up or, if it’s concrete, in terms of recycling concrete as well.
We continue to work with the municipalities—some of them have been very good. I think Grey county has made significant advancements in using rubber in their asphalt. We, too, have done tests with rubber in our asphalt—not nearly as successful as Grey county, but they’ve been very successful. Again, we’ve been trying to work to ensure that we get that information passed on.
We attend conferences at the Transportation Research Board in Washington to ensure that we’re kept up to speed in terms of what’s going on in the States as well. But as I said, a lot of the things that are coming up—Ontario’s already been a leader or a developer in that area.
We’ll continue to work with the municipalities through OGRA. Our regional offices often have a lot of local meetings. We attend Association of Ontario Road Supervisors meetings. Again, we try and provide presentations there and education to help them understand the benefits of aggregate recycling, especially in asphalt pavements. It reduces costs, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately saves that non-renewable aggregate resource that we value so much in Ontario and close to market supply.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you for that overview. I just think, though, that the missing pieces that—and I don’t want to talk for all the members of the committee, but I think there’s got to be some kind of carrot or perhaps financial incentive or some kind of coordinated effort on behalf of MTO with the local municipalities in terms of encouraging them to look at the use of recycled materials. Right now, it seems that it’s very ad hoc. Some municipalities might do it, but there’s no real incentive, because I guess it’s a lot easier just to extract, and in some cases the aggregate is very close to that municipality that needs the road reconstruction.
If it’s possible in your roads budget as it pertains to municipalities, or even sitting down with municipalities—the engineers especially, who seem to be very reluctant. I’m not sure whether it’s the engineers to blame or whether it’s the elected officials, but somehow there’s a disconnect. This could, again, relieve a lot of not only local traffic with the aggregates being hauled to Toronto or whatever or in their local region, but it could also reduce your budget because ultimately some of these roads will have to be repaired with local dollars or provincial dollars. So I think it’s a win-win financially for everybody if MTO takes a more aggressive, comprehensive approach to working in partnership with local municipalities. Am I talking in dreamland here? Is this possible, to come up with something that’s not going to reinvent a whole new department or something?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Absolutely. We’ll further our efforts with OGRA. At the ROMA/OGRA conference that comes up in February, we see numerous delegations. The minister sits through almost 40, at least. We’ll make sure that when they arrange those, we can highlight the importance of recycling. We can also look at OGRA’s organization to see if we are able to put on a technical session or something that might again explain the benefits and the opportunities available to them.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: If I can just add, I think it’s a good idea, MPP Colle. The study I referred to—one of the biggest challenges for the industry is because you can’t extract in the greenbelt now and the demand for aggregate has gone through the roof. The distances that aggregate now has to travel are huge. We’re now having to haul it farther than ever before, and it’s now impacting on sensitive lands farther away from the GTHA.
If you’re looking at how you can pay for this, the industry is actually really interested in more cost-effective solutions and has a growing appetite for research. Dufferin Aggregates, for example, is spending a lot of money researching ways right now to localize and get greater proximity and reuse infrastructure.
So it’s not just that this is—there is actually a structural savings to the industry if we can reduce the distances it’s hauled. So I think if this is something you want to pursue, you certainly have my support. I think bringing this forward, as parliamentary assistant to the ministry, would be wonderful, and I just want to endorse what you’re suggesting. It’s an excellent idea.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you, Minister. You twigged an interest I have in another area—oh, sorry.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You’ve only got 30 seconds.
Mr. Mike Colle: Okay, that’s fine.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Just let it go? All right.
We now have 20 minutes from the Conservatives. Mr. Jackson again?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes. Thank you, Chair. I guess I’ll go back to where we left off last time. I think, if I remember correctly, I had asked for the cost of the planning and execution of the Pan Am transportation plan.
Ms. Carol Layton: Certainly. The cost to execute the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, as you can appreciate, is going to be comprised of a number of things. There’s obviously the planning that’s happening through the IBI contract. That’s going through now. We’re going to be procuring soon for detailed operational planning, micro-modelling. When the games are actually in operation, we’re going to have to have a vendor of record out there for different things that we can’t possibly even anticipate.
Another aspect that will be a figure too is that the expectation on all of our partners, the transit providers as well as local government, is to fill up your buses, fill up the subway system, fill up the GO train; in a sense, use your existing assets to the extent that you can.
It’s the detailed operational planning that is about to get under way. The next step is, now that we have the master plan wrapping up, we have to move into very, very detailed, very, very precise operational planning and leading to the micro-modelling. That’s going to determine even more where we are going to have to look at, for example, incremental services to get spectators to Whitby, to Oshawa, up to York University and all that.
All that is a roundabout way to say that there is an estimate. I would say that we will be somewhere in the range of $50 million to $100 million. That would just be an early, early estimate of where we are in terms of what it’s going to cost us.
The ministry right now is doing its best to re-allocate based on a highest and best use of the costs. At the end of the day, we’ve disclosed, through the annual results-based planning process, the quarterly updates that we do and how we’re tracking, but we haven’t landed on a precise cost. We’re 596 days away, or whatever the figure is. We’ve got a ways to go, but it’s the more detailed work that will help us to refine that as well.
Mr. Rod Jackson: You said between $50 million and $100 million. That’s a pretty big spread in estimates of what things are going to cost.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Back in 2010, the Pan Am transportation team was struck. If we don’t even have an estimate on the budget of what this is going to cost us—you say it’s 500-odd days away. It makes it sound like it’s a ways away. It’s not; it’s coming up very quickly.
Ms. Carol Layton: We know that.
Mr. Rod Jackson: The Pan Am transportation team: Do they report to you? Is that a Ministry of Transportation organization?
Mr. John Lieou: It is a team with all of the municipal reps and the transit agencies on it. It’s co-chaired between the Ministry of Transportation and Toronto 2015, which is the organizing committee for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Since 2010, to date—you know, three years—we don’t have a better idea on the estimates? It’s just between $50 million and $100 million?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: John, go first.
Mr. John Lieou: The actual planning work is still going on. I can tell you that sports schedules will be refined. For example, between 2010 and now, we’ve seen a change in the venue formations, so things have been changing.
In the early days, which was before my time, but from what I know, there was a lot of conceptual work done. The detailed planning work started earlier this year, and we’re going through the final phases of that planning. For sure, we’ll discuss that with the public. And then, as Carol was saying, the next phase is going to be delivery planning.
Along with all that planning work, of course, we develop estimates, and that’s really where the range of estimates comes from.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Do you have a document that has those estimates, like a breakdown of the estimates?
Mr. John Lieou: We do have different versions of it, yes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Can you provide the committee with the latest version of the estimates for the transportation for the Pan Am Games?
Mr. John Lieou: Yes.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes. We’ve already given in, just in my last time here, 500,000 documents, which is several million pages. I don’t mind doing that, but I’m hoping we can get a little focus.
I’m a little surprised by the questioning. I want to be quite blunt, because I’m quite concerned about it. We’ve never held, in Ontario, a major international event anywhere near this scale. And I hosted—I was mayor; I was on the planning committee for the last Pan Am Games. None of this is unusual. Five hundred days before the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, we did not have detail, and we had a much more prescribed, much more contained, one municipal government, one provincial government, one federal government—a much more predictable, less competitive environment, and we didn’t. So that kind of range that the deputy minister gave you is pretty normal at this point.
Why is that? Because this event is also unprecedented in being over 10,000 square kilometres. The largest international sporting and integrated cultural event ever held that even came close was 4,000 square kilometres. So we don’t even have a comparator for it.
Why is it over such a large area? Because we didn’t want this to be a Toronto event. We wanted this to be an event for the largest number of Ontarians possible, so Welland, Minden, Caledon—I can go through all those regions. No one has ever hosted an event on that kind of scale, to try and leave legacies in absolutely every community we possibly could to deal with long-needed things.
The way I’ve put this, having been through this—and I think this is where there are some similarities with Winnipeg and Toronto—is that we’re not building things for the Pan Am Games. There isn’t a single project that we are actually building for the Pan Am Games. Every project, we are building for the longer lease of that community, whether it’s Welland’s canoeing and rowing facility, whether it’s the pool and aquatic centres—we’re actually building that for U of T and U of T students and the people in Scarborough.
When you take that approach, we have in transportation, because some of this is dealing with transportation management, data, traffic management on our highways, HOV lanes—a lot of those are enduring legacies. There aren’t two neat piles. I want to be really clear about that.
The other thing is, this isn’t one event; it’s two events. In 1999, we didn’t have the Parapan Games. We have the Parapan Games. For people with different abilities and disabilities, there are wide-ranging needs of transportation costs.
The second thing is, we don’t have the finalized municipal agreements, nor would it be normal at this point to do it. Are we going to subsidize additional subway lines? Are we going to have the subways run earlier on Sunday mornings? What is the commitment in agreements with Peel region or Hamilton or Minden on integration? Those all have to be negotiated, and we try to find costs out.
We also will not know until a few months before, actually, the scope and scale. Is the Cuban baseball team coming? Is the Brazilian soccer team coming? How many A-list teams do you get for the Pan Am Games and how many B-list teams? Those are all things that are going to drive all kinds of demand management.
The reason you spend millions on planning is because of the number of variables. I said last time, and I wasn’t being flippant—and I was disappointed, because you took advantage of my comment in question period—it’s not that we’re not competent or don’t have the finest level of planning going on in the world for a major event. The reason that neither I nor Michael Chan are prepared to commit to a specific number is because it’s literally impossible to do so. And if I say $42 million or $62 million or $38 million or $82 million—no one can know that. Then you’re going to say, in the game of politics, “Well, the ministry is misleading the House.” We just won’t know, and I will tell you that when the games are over—we’ll get a much narrower range as we get down. But it is easy for this thing to swing. What you have to make sure is that you’ve got enough planning in place that you’re managing the totality of variables. I have some confidence in this. The Winnipeg games came in under budget. I am very optimistic that this is being extraordinarily well managed.
But I also want to say that I’m hoping we’re about to be seized with something that Ontarians never felt, which is showcasing ourselves to the world. We’ve never had an Expo or an Olympics or anything like that. I know there has been some negativity; I don’t think this is something we need to be negative about. This is going to build our image for the city and this region positively around the world as one of our greatest trading cultural experiences. It’s an extraordinary experience. I’m hoping that each MPP, in a non-partisan way, gets excited about how they catalyze this event to be an incredible success for their community and for showcasing their businesses, their culture and their restaurants.
I have to tell you of the stark contrast between what I went through in Manitoba and the unbridled enthusiasm that the city, the province all political parties had in that Legislature celebrating this event. When people showed up from these countries, they were welcomed. When they showed up here, we had opposition members protesting international delegates who don’t care whether it’s $50 million or $60 million or fully understand this.
I think we have to be much more positive about these games, because the multipliers that come out of them are directly related to our enthusiasm for them, and I have great confidence in this. I speak with some authority on this, because this is my second time at it. I’m very proud of the team—the Pan Am Games team—and what we’re doing. I will tell you, there isn’t a nickel that is unaccounted for.
Mr. Rod Jackson: So I guess it’s safe to say you don’t have a more finite number for the transportation plan—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I think it’s safe to say, sir, that if you actually look at every other event—
Mr. Rod Jackson: I think it’s actually safe to say that you mischaracterized—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: —you would see that this is planned at a higher standard than most others.
Mr. Rod Jackson: —what the opposition has actually said here.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Order, please. One at a time.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I think it’s fair to say that everybody from all parties is excited about the Pan Am Games and what they bring not just to the province, but to the city of Toronto and all the participating cities. We’re all very excited. In fact, I just met with some athletes on Friday to talk about the velodrome, and how excited they are about that.
You’re right: As far as everything goes with the transportation and all the venues, they do leave a legacy that is going to be great for our athletes and for our city, and I think everyone’s excited about that. What is in question here is the ability to—“It was done this way before, so it’s not unusual for it to be done this way again”: It doesn’t wash with me.
Part of the reason the province is in the financial situation it is is because we settled. We said, “This is the way it’s always done. We’ve got to buy our way out of this. We’ve got to spend our way out of it.” A range of $50 million to $100 million when we’re so close to these games—it is not acceptable, in my mind, that we don’t have a more finite number for transportation. The fact that the numbers aren’t even coming close to telling us what the actual games are going to cost, I think—you know what? When you run a business, if you have a major plan going on, you at least have a really good idea of what that budget is going to cost you, no matter how complex it is.
The fact that we’re talking about, “We don’t know because it’s a very complex issue”—you’ve had a team on this since 2010 from all the parties, and still no better number than $50 million to $100 million. You’ve got all these people, I imagine, in your ministry who are experts in transportation, and you’ve hired a company at $1.8 million, which may or may not be money well spent; I’m not sure. I would reserve judgment on that to see what the results of that are.
I am surprised, and I think the people of Ontario will be surprised that there’s not a more finite number for the execution and plan to come forward. To characterize it as trying to tarnish the games and tarnish what they’ll bring to the city is misrepresentation at best.
What I think we want is just accountability. Right now, we don’t have a good level of accountability for what these games are really going to cost us. I’m afraid to ask if the ARL—rush to put the diesel trains into the air-rail link between Pearson and Union Station are a part of that plan. I know they’re not, because I know the cost of the ARL, and that’s going to be something else—I’ll give you a heads-up—we’re going to talk about later on.
I’m actually quite stunned that we don’t have a more finite number.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Can you elaborate on that, why you’re stunned by that?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes. I’m stunned because when in any—I come from the business world. I had my own small business. I’ve worked for corporations. No matter how far out you plan and how complex the issue is—I worked for Bombardier Aerospace. They had the C-series jets—this is just an example, if you’ll give me some leeway, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): It’s your time.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Pardon me?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I said, “It’s your time.”
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. They have a major new airliner that they’re developing that’s going to compete around the world. They had a very finite budget 10 years out on what this was going to cost that company. They knew exactly where they needed to hit. They knew exactly where they didn’t need to go and where they were going to, in this case, if they would abandon the project at certain stages if it got to be too much.
That’s an example—one example of many—of how you manage a business. It’s different. Government is different; I’ll give you that. But, really, we need to have a more finite idea of where this thing is going.
Frankly, if I were you, Minister, I would be demanding a more detailed idea of what the transportation is going to cost for the Pan Am Games. You probably have a great idea of what the infrastructure is going to cost, going through your ministry, for snow removal. You probably even have it forecast out for a few years. But for the Pan Am Games, we just don’t seem to be able at any level to get a reasonable number of what these games are really going to cost us. That’s what is upsetting people. It’s not the fact that the games are coming. I think everybody is on board with the fact that we’re going to have a great games. They’re going to come out great; I’m convinced of that. Athletes are excited, people are excited, politicians are excited, if anyone cares, but the fact is, I think people are starting to be concerned that they don’t know what it’s going to cost.
I’d like to know where you would like to see this plan come in. I get that you can’t give me an exact number, but a range of $50 million to $100 million seems like quite a broad spectrum. What is your best-case scenario here? What is the number that you’d really like to see? What is your target? You must have a target in mind of where you’d like this thing to land.
Ms. Carol Layton: As you can appreciate, there are many, many aspects to a range. There are many lines of activity that are going to make up ultimately the cost: everything from a trip planner, for example—
Mr. Rod Jackson: Sorry. If I could just interrupt, because I’m worried I’ll forget.
Ms. Carol Layton: Sure.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Would you be able to supply us with that list, even if it’s not filled in? What are the things that come in? Help me understand the complexity—
Ms. Carol Layton: The components? I have no issue with supplying you with all of the different activities and work under way, and also the need for a contingency. That’s why you have a range as well. I do also understand, I believe, and maybe Katch can clarify, that several boxes are arriving for this committee today—do I have that right?—from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, who had a November 19 due date. Do I have that right, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Yes. We have received 45 boxes this morning.
Ms. Carol Layton: Okay, so I have to admit there that all of the work that we would have done and submitted to the central committee, the games secretariat—there will be early estimates of that in the boxes as well. But I have no concern with providing you with a real accounting of the different activities that we’re working on and that, in a sense, make up the games—everything from the operational planning that we’re doing to the work that we’re doing to make sure that we’re integrated with the transit, you know, the road and the transit, to a trip planner to signage and everything like that. But they really are at this point, still, until we do those next two steps—we have a master plan almost done. We have to do the detailed operational planning and we are doing the detailed micro-modeling. That’s how we can finesse that number, but we also want to get that master plan out there for the public to comment on as well.
Mr. Rod Jackson: So will you undertake to supply the committee—
Ms. Carol Layton: To get you a table? Yes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thanks very much.
Can you tell me how many times, roughly—I don’t expect you to have the exact number, but I’m just trying to get an idea of how often the Pan Am transportation team would have met. Is it a once-a-month thing, once a quarter or once a—
Mr. John Lieou: Yes, we do meet quite often. Once every two months, the program—there’s a whole structure. The PATT table is a steering table. There’s a program team, and within the program team there are different working groups, and those meet as needed. They meet weekly and so on and so forth. There’s a whole series of working structures working on the planning work.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I know you kind of glazed over this a little bit earlier: Who exactly is a part of that team? Is it the member communities and the—
Mr. John Lieou: Basically, the people who are at the PATT table are all the representatives at a staff or technical level from all the host municipalities, for example, and many of their transit agencies. For example, GO and Metrolinx are there. TTC is there as well. Also, there will be the integrated security unit, the ISU. So the OPP planners who actually coordinate security aspects of it work alongside with us on transportation planning. Also there would be the accessibility directorate from our own government, which also guides us on the accessibility planning aspects of transportation planning.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Sorry; I’m bouncing around a little bit, I know. Just going back to something the minister said, I just want to confirm: You mentioned that there are two sets of games, which is true—the Parapan and Pan Am Games. Is there going to be a separate transportation plan for each? They could be potentially quite different.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m going to take one more try at this. So, there’s a master plan for the whole thing.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: This is not unusual. What you’re asking questions about and suggesting, that this is somehow controversial or that people should be concerned about it, simply is not the case. The capital program, which we now have a good number on—and that will be the firmest number, and it’s the biggest one—is $50 million under budget right now, and it could be. You could say we overbudgeted by $50 million in the numbers, maybe—
Mr. Rod Jackson: What’s the budget?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: These guys can tell you the capital budget. I don’t have the total numbers. It’s 40 different facilities and venues.
We’ve got agreements right now that have to be reached with all kinds of regional transportation and private transportation providers. We’re just into those. We’re into trying to determining volume. Is there going to be enough transit volume to make a decision about spending millions subsidizing additional subways early in the morning on Sunday? You cannot make those decisions. That’s about $10 million in decisions.
There is absolutely no conspiracy here. I’d be glad to give you a number once it’s firmed up, but the range is realistic. Every other international event—and I’ve looked at a lot of them, and spent a lot of my life in this—has that. Yes, I’ve run a business. I’ve also run a large city, and you cannot do transportation planning for something that has as many unpredictable variables and unsigned agreements at this point, which you wouldn’t have signed at this point, without being any more specific.
I’m sorry you don’t understand that, but there is just simply no way of knowing that, because we don’t know the outcomes, because we’re not going to be the final determinant of a bunch of decisions. They involve negotiations, consent, federal partnerships and all kinds of things that will change the numbers by tens of millions, and that’s true for every international event that I’ve ever been aware of. This should not be new news to anybody.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. I’m going to stop you there.
Mr. Bisson, you have approximately 10 minutes. You do have 20 minutes, but approximately 10 minutes before the bell goes, and we’ll resume this afternoon.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Really? I thought we were done at a quarter after.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): No, 25 after.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Oh, okay. All right. I was expecting that we were done at a quarter after. Wow. Hang on a second. Let me find my binder. I was somewhere else. I was expecting not to get it back. Okay, I’m back.
Mr. Rob Leone: You were recessed.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, no, no. Okay. Just a couple of things: You’re going to get me what I had requested in regard to your asset management plan. You are also going to get me—hang on; I’m trying to find the page here—the stuff that I asked for.
I have another question. Back to page 18: Under provincial highway management, it went from $3 million the year before to $36 million, and I’m just wondering what the heck that’s all about. Down below operating and capital assets, you’ve explained $8 million in regard to the increase as a shift from other ministries for managing their fleets. Then under road user safety, you go from $3 million in 2012 to $39 million in 2013. What’s the increase? What does that entail?
Ms. Carol Layton: I’ll bring up Rob Fleming, who is the assistant deputy minister for our road user safety division. He can take you through those numbers.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: It’s not a great big bonus or something.
Ms. Carol Layton: No.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay. Just checking.
Ms. Carol Layton: That’s not happening.
Mr. Rob Fleming: Thank you for the question. Those capital assets relate to our licensing and control system. We are—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Is that a one-time expenditure? Is that what you’re referring to?
Mr. Rob Fleming: It’s a multi-year project to replace the foundation licensing and control system. It’s funding that was transferred to us from the Ministry of Government Services. For the renewal of our legacy systems, the original funding was provided by the Ministry of Government Services, and that was transferred into our ministry in the current year, so that explains the increase.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: What would I expect to see under that line next year? A similar amount of money, or somewhat less?
Mr. Rob Fleming: Somewhat less. It depends on how the project work flows.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Is there an offset savings from government services, for them not doing it anymore?
Mr. Rob Fleming: Yes. We’ve always been doing the work. Last year, the work that we did would have been charged back or journalled, in an accounting way, to the Ministry of Government Services. They simply transferred the budget to us, and there would be a corresponding decrease in their books.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Can you provide me with that, the numbers? Can you provide me—
Ms. Carol Layton: You mean the Ministry of Government Services numbers?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, the offset savings. I’d just be curious to see what it is, so if you can give me the offset. Rather than me looking it up, I’ll let you look it up.
The other thing is, you’re changing your database? Is that what you’re doing?
Mr. Rob Fleming: “Renewing it” would be the better way to put it, yes.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I always thought you were in the CPIC system. Why am I thinking—
Mr. Rob Fleming: CPIC is a network—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, I understand what it is, but I thought—
Mr. Rob Fleming: —that is operated by the RCMP.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes. My brother used to run it.
Mr. Rob Fleming: The licensing and control system—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: That explains a lot.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: That’s why I know it. He also ran the gun registry, but that’s another story.
Mr. Rob Fleming: The licensing and control system is our database. It is the system that records all drivers’ licences and vehicle registrations.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So you’re linked to CPIC.
Mr. Rob Fleming: So we are linked to CPIC.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, that’s what I understand. How old is that technology that we’re using now? That must be pretty old.
Mr. Rob Fleming: Anywhere from 10 to 40 years, depending on which component.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Well, we didn’t have computers—well, we had computers 40 years ago, but they were—
Ms. Carol Layton: They were gigantic.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: They were about the size of this building. Now we can put them in a calculator. I don’t have an iPhone, but my BlackBerry has as much.
This particular computer system that you’re fixing, or you’re upgrading, is obviously going to create some efficiencies for you. Are there any savings there at all?
Mr. Rob Fleming: We expect some, yes. In fact, we rolled out one of our first components earlier this year, the international registration plan system, and it will generate some efficiencies. We also implemented a new electronic collision reporting system in the last year, which is also creating efficiencies.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’ve got to repeat this story, because it was told to me this weekend. You’ll get a kick out of this, Minister. I was meeting with a friend of mine, a long-time acquaintance, Lloyd Richards, who owns a moving and cartage company up in Timmins. He was singing the praises of ServiceOntario compared to the private-issuance licence when it comes to renewal stickers and stuff, which I thought was kind of interesting, coming from Lloyd, because he has been a long-time Conservative. I thought that was kind of interesting.
I want to just clarify the record with the minister on a couple of things. The last time we met, we talked about that highway in Kapuskasing. In fact, they resurfaced that highway, as you know. That was done, I believe, under the Connecting Link Program, 90-10. They’ve actually re-grinded the surface on the highway going through the town of Kapuskasing, which is now a municipal road.
Are there any plans for you guys to actually come back and fix that road base? There was an agreement, two or three ministers ago, to do it, and then I understand that the current mayor, Al Spacek, had an agreement two years ago to get it done. It was about putting some extra lanes in and stuff. Where the heck is that at?
Ms. Carol Layton: I’m not sure. Gerry, do you have that?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: I think, if you’re referring to the Connecting Link Program, there may have been some discussions, but there were no approvals for the project. Then, of course, Kapuskasing was successful in receiving funding under MOI’s municipal infrastructure program last year.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, but that was for the re-grinding.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: That was for the re-grinding, so—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: But when do we plan on actually fixing that road? Because there’s a whole issue with regard to how it’s like a bottleneck going through Kapuskasing, and it’s like a single-lane thing. There was supposed to be some expansion to the lane system. Is that in the works? Where is that at? Can you give me a—
Mr. Gerry Chaput: It would be a municipal project.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I understand that.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: We’ll have to go back and check with them on that and find out.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Can you report back to me on what the timeline is?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Absolutely.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: How much time have I got, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You have until the bells ring, so approximately three minutes.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m having so much fun. Jeez, I’m just beside myself.
All right, if you can give me that, that’s just something that has been bugging me. I know this mayor of Kapuskasing but also the previous mayor of Kapuskasing—J.C. Caron, who was a previous mayor—had been trying to get that for some time and it has been talked about and promised now for I don’t know how many years. On behalf of those, the current mayor and the former mayor, it’s something that we need to get done.
That will be all I have for now, Chair.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Chair? Hey, Chair? Yoo-hoo. I’m done.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Sorry, sorry.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m done.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You’re done?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m done. If you guys want to adjourn three minutes early, consider it my gift to you.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): But do you want your additional time this afternoon?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes. We’ll take it this afternoon.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. So you’re done for this morning?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): So you would have 10 minutes left. You’re giving up three minutes, then. That’s what in fact happens.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m just saying let’s move it all to this afternoon. Let’s get out of here.
Interjection: We appreciate it.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Is there agreement that he gets 13 minutes this afternoon?
Mr. Mike Colle: You use it or you lose it. That’s what I say.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Well, then, I’ll keep you here for three minutes, then. That’s it. Minister, why is it that you—do you want me to go there—or we’re out of here? Okay, we’re done. See you this afternoon.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Is there agreement that he gets the 13 minutes this afternoon, then? Yes. All right. Agreed.
We are recessed until this afternoon at approximately 3:45 p.m.
The committee recessed from 1024 to 1602.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): We’ll call the meeting to order, but we’re going to suspend, for a moment, the questions and the timing. I understand that the minister and deputy minister have a statement they want to make for some corrections, and they’ve given out some new documents as well.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Can I beg your indulgence to do that after my 10 minutes, because I’ve got colleges waiting in my office?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): This is only going to take less than one minute.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, if it’s less than one minute.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Just really quickly, I spoke with the member from Barrie after entering, and you had asked me the question: Could we give you a more specific range? In the spirit of goodwill and non-partisanship, I went back and I said, “Given those numbers, was there any new update?” So I can narrow that range for you, if it’s helpful. In addition, because I think it’s important that we’re not kicking the tires on—I think it’s good to kick the tires, but not kick the shins on people, and I think that’s the spirit in which you were asking the question.
We expect that now we’re into something between $75 million and $90 million, in that range, being more likely what the transportation costs were. I put that on there because you were asking the question, I think, sincerely and in a heartfelt way. That’s the best estimate. It may move down; it may move outside, but the probability is, if that’s helpful to you, that’s closer to—we expect it to be more likely than not in that range. With those qualifiers on it, I’m comfortable giving you that, if that’s helpful.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I very much appreciate that. That’s the best answer I’ve been given in two years on the subject.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Finally, we will try to get a briefing with you in the very near future, and for others. What’s more useful than the numbers is understanding the variables that could change those numbers to be significantly lower than that or significantly higher. As an act of good faith and goodwill, the deputy and Minister Chan’s deputy will get the detailed moving parts of this so you can understand: What are the things that might provoke a change in those numbers?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes, that would be helpful—just with the knowledge that it’s fluid—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Chair—
L’hon. Glen R. Murray: Excusez-moi; merci. Je suis fini.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I’ve got to finish the statement. Is there anything further you wish to add?
Ms. Carol Layton: No. We tabled some material, and I could take you through it, maybe after the 12 minutes, if you want me to help.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, please. Thank you.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s mostly for you, actually.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, I know, and I already started reading through it.
Ms. Carol Layton: So we’re fine.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): So we’re going to go back onto the clock. I was mistaken this morning; there are only 11 minutes left.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, that’s fine.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): And the 11 minutes are now to Mr. Bisson.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, I’ve got a couple of things to do, and after that, as I said, I apologize, I’ve got people from the colleges waiting in my office.
First of all, as I start, as I was sitting in question period I got something from my staff on my northern roads report thing that you know all about. The emails are starting again, and I’m just going to put this on the record, just so that you know. A guy out of White River by the name of Leon Nadeau writes the following: “Well, well, the snowplows seem to have forgotten that it’s winter and forgot to head west. From the snowplow turnaround near White Lake Lodge all the way to White River, no sand, no salt—hell, no snow removal at all.” He talks about Transfield: “I guess somebody out there will have to die before we see the standards at what they used to be before.”
I’m just saying that we’re still getting it. You heard Sarah Campbell this morning. This guy out of White River would be out of Mike Mantha’s riding. I know that there’s 42 more pieces of equipment that have gone in, and that certainly has helped, but man, there is still the sense out there that those roads, when it snows, are not being maintained to the degree that they were. If you want to respond to that quickly, then I’ll go to a couple of other things.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Gerry can come up, and while Gerry’s coming up, I’ll quickly respond.
What I can do as minister is, I can get more equipment out there. It’s actually about 50, because when the contract was renewed for Thunder Bay, we added more equipment there, so that gives you more.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: This is specifically between—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The second thing is—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Oh, sorry.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I was just up in Sudbury; I was up in Algoma–Manitoulin. We visited the MTO offices there. I had a long chat with front-line staff about how we managed the contract to make sure that this equipment is actually out there—because there’s no point adding capacity if it’s not being used in a way that is anticipatory of weather, not just reacting to it. So—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, keeping in mind that I’ve only got about 10 minutes and I’ve got some other things that I’ve got to do—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay, so I’ll ask the ADM just to see if he can make a commitment to you to—
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Just quickly on your point regarding Transfield, we had a meeting yesterday with all the AMC contractors to discuss some specific issues regarding maintenance contracts, and it was very productive. I assure you that they have a lot of local content in there in terms of operators, patrollers. They too have a vested interest in the safety of the highways because of their families travelling on them as well. I’m also meeting with Transfield again, on November 25, which is a week from yesterday, again to further discuss issues, and I will raise that issue about White River.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So to be specific, it’s from the turnaround at White Lake Lodge all the way to White River, okay?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: That’s right.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I’m just going to put that, because I don’t have a lot of time. I’m just saying that if we’re starting to see it, that means to say there’s a problem.
I just want to clarify, too, the request that I made earlier, just so there’s no confusion. What I want to get is the figures on how much we used to pay for winter road maintenance for the last two years prior to Harris privatizing winter road maintenance. So what was it in the estimates binder what we used to spend on what you now call “provincial highway maintenance,” in the last two years prior to the privatization Harris government.
Ms. Carol Layton: Okay.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: The other thing is—and I just want to expand on it, because then I started looking at this a bit more—when you look at page 18 and you’re looking at “Operating and capital expense” and then “Operating and capital assets,” I take it expenses is what we pay for people to do things and the assets is what we pay for equipment, if you can explain. Let me get to the point: If you look at page 18, at the bottom, it talks about, under “Operating and capital assets,” “Provincial highways maintenance,” it talks about $2.2 billion, and then it talks about, on the upper line, “Operating and capital expense,” “Provincial highways maintenance,” $428 million. Can you explain the difference between the two activities, just to be clear?
Ms. Carol Layton: First of all, the difference between assets and expenses is that we have the accrual basis of accounting, so we amortize. So when it comes to a lot of the highway maintenance programs, when it comes to the construction programs—and I’m not looking specifically at these numbers right now—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: But these are assets, right?
Ms. Carol Layton: These are the assets. I’m going to go right to where you were, so—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So that means we estimate to have $2.2 billion worth of assets, of equipment? Is that what it means?
Ms. Carol Layton: This is the investment right in the highway assets in 2013. It’s the actual capital investment that we’ll be making this year in highway assets in the province of Ontario—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: And that could be anything from a traffic sign to a—
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s the bridges; it’s the culverts; it’s the paving. I guess the point that I’d also like to give you one bit of context on is that the total value of infrastructure assets for the Ministry of Transportation, if it had to be replaced today, is $80 billion. So this, in a sense, is the investment in the 2013-14 fiscal year in that—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So this is the investment into highway assets, which could be anything from building a bridge to paving a highway to whatever?
Mr. Gerry Chaput: And the designs and construction associated with those as well. Remote northern airports as well. There are some small components, property—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, I’ve got them all in my riding. I land on them.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Essentially, it’s the highway-related components of that. The—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: And Michael’s been there before.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The entire highway and roads budget is approaching $3 billion now.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay. I just want to go back up to the provincial highway management line. So $42 million is what you had there as a reduction overall for the operations side—right?—on provincial highway maintenance changes from 2012-13?
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, indeed, and one of your questions earlier this morning was to break that out, and that work is under way. And we’ll have that—absolutely have that. That figure, then, of the $428 million and how it compares to the $2.2 billion is, again, the amortization, in a sense, the amortized cost. For example, bridges are amortized over 75 years; highways are a shorter period of time.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay. All right. How much time do I have left?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): About five minutes.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Cool. There was one other thing under those numbers I wanted to get to. When you look at your assets management, under provincial highways management: 2011-12, $1.7 billion; and then all the way up to $2.2 billion. Is that because there were things that we had to do more? Or is that just because it’s getting more expensive to buy this stuff?
Ms. Carol Layton: We can unpack that for you better, and I don’t know whether Linda has that. But I think the bottom line there is that—and I think Steve Cripps, the chief engineer, mentioned it earlier—there has been a recognition, certainly in the last two fiscal years, of the need to really get at some of the rehabilitation, such as the bridge program and certainly the highway programs as well. So that’s going to be a variable number, depending on—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: And that’s what I’m trying to figure out: How much of it is actually that we’ve decided to do things that need to be done and appropriate the dollars for it, versus the cost has just gone up?
Ms. Carol Layton: We can unpack that for you, but what it relates to is actually that, just like every other ministry, we line up as well when we go through the results-based planning exercise, and our different priorities are matched up against others. As a ministry, though, that largely produces, as you can appreciate, significant infrastructure to meet the health and safety and the good quality of life of the people, we do fairly well in terms of that, because these are economic assets. These are assets that last for generations. So it’s not as simple as, “We want this,” and therefore we get; we have to be part of a decision-making process. So the different investments we have in different provincial highway network items are subject to formal decision-making.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: On the northern highways program, $513 million: Does that include the ice roads? I was just curious about that.
Ms. Carol Layton: Is that out of MMAH?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I didn’t know if was northern development or you guys.
Ms. Carol Layton: MNDM? So it’s in the northern—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, it’s in—
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, it’s in there.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay. All right. I wasn’t too, too sure.
There was a study done, at one point—I can’t remember who funded it—to look at an all-seasons road up along the James Bay. Was that funded by you originally?
Ms. Carol Layton: I’m pretty sure that was probably funded by our colleague ministry the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, so you don’t know the—
Ms. Carol Layton: I don’t know the status of that.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So you have no capital plans at this point for an all-seasons road up by James Bay, from Moosonee north? Because I know they were looking—
Mr. Gerry Chaput: We haven’t seen any plans for it, no.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: So that was a northern development exercise only.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: Yes.
Ms. Carol Layton: But I would add, though, in terms of access to the north—because it’s important—that the 29 airports that support all of the First Nations communities up there, the very remote ones, are all owned and operated by the Ministry of Transportation.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes. They’re gravel strips, and I’ve got the chips on my plane to prove it.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, there you go.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay, the last part is—and you had explained this, but I just want to get it clear, because when I looked at it again, I was a little bit unclear. Policy and planning went up by $828 million on the expense side. You explained it, but I kind of missed it.
Ms. Carol Layton: I probably did explain that, but I don’t whether John Lieou wants to explain that. But the policy and planning is the division that we have in the ministry that covers all of the transit investments that we have. So items like, for example, the transfer payments that we would be providing to, say, Waterloo for their light rail transit, and likewise to Ottawa, would come out of that area.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: But when I look at the top line, the top line, I thought, was more on the operating—oh, that’s right; it’s operating and capital on the expense side. So that’s additional spending for transit?
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, so a good amount of it would be the expansion program for GO; for example, the 30-minute service that you have along the Lakeshore line.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Did you put $24 million a year for the ONTC train in there?
Ms. Carol Layton: I think that would be our colleague the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, I think it should be you. I think you guys should just transfer the money over.
Ms. Carol Layton: Well, we certainly care about what’s happening with ONTC.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I notice that we’ve gone from docks and now we’re up to trains.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Well, we got the docks; now we get the trains. It’s a plan—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: We haven’t said no yet, Gilles.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: —all the way up to Moosonee. We’ve got it worked out.
Ms. Carol Layton: We have a table, and we’d be happy to provide it—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, if you could provide—
Ms. Carol Layton: —that could break that out for you. Sure.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Could you provide the breakdown, just so that we see it?
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Okay. That’s all I’ve got.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. Just before I go back to let you continue and answer the questions—first of all, we’ll go off the timer, and when we go back, we’ll go to the government. So the floor would be yours. But before that, I would just like to welcome the American legislators who have come in to watch estimates. Do you have anything like this in the States? It’s not too hot and heavy at the moment, but it can get pretty testy at times.
Having said that, Mr. Minister, you said you had additional comments you wanted to make?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: No, I’ll turn it over to the deputy. We were trying to report back quickly because you had asked us to be prompt in answering your questions. The deputy followed up with some of the others, and maybe we can just give her an opportunity to respond.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes. Sure—
Mr. Mike Colle: Point of order: Whose time is this?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): It’s nobody’s time. We’re off the record now.
Mr. Mike Colle: It’s not on our time.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): We’re off the record.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: No, no.
Mr. Mike Colle: Hey—well, you know, we want to ask some questions too.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): We are off the timer. Don’t be—okay.
Ms. Carol Layton: Very, very quickly—I think you have it all in front of you. It was actually mostly for MPP Bisson that we’ve actually provided three different documents now. One was just the URL to connect to the northern highways program and the southern highways program. There was also a question about the $36-million increase for what’s called our road user safety budget and the fact that there’s a similar decrease for the Ministry of Government Services. So we provided that detail as well.
The third thing is—it’s actually quite an interesting chart that we provided, and it relates a lot as well to what, again, Mr. Bisson was talking about. It shows you, since the mid-1990s, how the Ministry of Transportation has, in a sense, changed from about 8,500 public servants to 3,500. So it shows you, in a sense, the different actual divestments, largely, that have happened over those years.
So that’s what we’ve provided. We know that we have other information that we owe, such as a breakout for MPP Jackson, the detail on the activities that support the $75-million to $90-million cost for transportation planning. That is work under way. We have an awful lot more to provide, based on just this afternoon, with MPP Bisson. He also wanted some information on the Kapuskasing road base, so we’ll provide that too. So there’s a bit more to come—some tomorrow and perhaps some Thursday or Friday, if that’s doable.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Well, tomorrow is doable in committee, because after tomorrow, the committee is finished.
Ms. Carol Layton: Okay.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay? All right. So the time is now 4:16, and it’s over to the government; you have 20 minutes. Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I see the member from Trinity–Spadina is here, and he would be—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Buses on Dufferin.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, he knows. He can read my mind after all these years.
Just in terms of our role as the Ministry of Transportation, we provide capital funding for new light rail vehicles, subway vehicles; with the new Viva buses, I think, we’ve helped. I’m just wondering whether we have helped to pay for some of the new articulated buses on Dufferin. Is that just 100% local Toronto transit money, or is there some provincial money there? Because when these new buses, you see, come to Dufferin, I want to be able to say, “The province is helping provide 21st-century buses on Dufferin.” Because the people on Dufferin—and for our American friends, if you want to see how Toronto works, you should go on the Dufferin bus, or take the Queen streetcar. The Queen streetcar goes from one end of the city to the other, with one fare. You can go from the Don River to the Humber River, and you can see how transit has helped to shape the city. So I would suggest a good trip on the Queen streetcar or the Dufferin bus if you want to see the real face of Toronto, where over 55,000 people a day are jammed on the buses on Dufferin—
Mrs. Laura Albanese: And Keele.
Mr. Mike Colle: Dufferin has 10 times more passengers than Keele. But the problem with it is, it’s not only the buses that—and this is a traditional problem with buses: that in traffic, they end up bunching up, and you’ve got four or five buses stopped at a stoplight, and it’s not very efficient. That’s why I’m very happy that they’re bringing about the articulated buses on Dufferin. This should help.
The other issue is, I guess the policy directive of MTO is for air quality, cleaning the air, reducing greenhouse houses. But my constituency office is even on Dufferin. My landlord, who’s upstairs—she sleeps upstairs—cannot have her carbon monoxide detectors on because they go off, day and night. That’s how bad the air quality is in the Dufferin corridor.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And you want to send them on Dufferin?
Mr. Mike Colle: No, that’s what I’m saying. I’m just making an explanation of the reason why we need clean buses on Dufferin. You know that.
I know we’re investing in light rail vehicles, subway cars, everything, all across this province. Can we do more to get more clean vehicles to transport people, get away from diesel buses, and cleaner-burning fuel—whether they be electric, hybrid. What’s the MTO policy on helping cities deliver clean buses? We can’t have subways and LRTs everywhere, but people should expect to see clean buses that don’t fire off their carbon monoxide detectors.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: A yes or no will do.
Mr. Mike Colle: That’s my question.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’ll just give you the top-shelf stuff and then I’ll turn it over to the deputy. We have about $320 million that we give in gas tax every year to municipalities. About half of that goes to Toronto. It’s based on a formulation of population and ridership. We do not have the bus replacement program, vehicle replacement program, which we had before, where we have actually, in the last several years, built a large component of those vehicles. The reason we didn’t pull back is that we actually shifted our funding focus, which was to LRT and subway infrastructure, in which we’ve now invested, to this point, $8.4 billion in Toronto, of what is over $16 billion in the GTA. So we’ve expanded that every year.
Finally, unlike Quebec, which claims the five-cents-a-litre gas tax as a federal transfer to the province of Quebec, we do not retain that money. We allow that to flow directly through to Toronto, the five cents a litre, and through AMO to other municipalities, unlike other provinces. So our funding, unlike other provinces, is in addition to the federal gas tax. We also have our own gas tax, and we have direct funding as well. If you were in Montreal or Chicoutimi, the Quebec government would be claiming and using that as part of their contribution.
We have a very robust program. There may be other details, but I think we, on a per capita basis and overall, have the highest level of transit subsidies now in Ontario than we ever have had in the history of this province.
Mr. Mike Colle: So the key point there—getting back to the Dufferin bus—is that the new articulated buses are probably paid for by the TTC out of the gas tax money, in part, that the province gives.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes.
Mr. Mike Colle: I know that 55% of it goes to the city of Toronto, based on ridership.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Right.
Mr. Mike Colle: But I just want to, again, raise that issue about how, in some cases, municipalities cannot afford to replace their buses, and I think it’s critical we do an evaluation of the state of good repair of our bus fleets in our urban centres so that people are in buses that don’t add to the poor air quality. That’s the point I was trying to make. And the fact we had Mitch Stambler here in this very room—I don’t know if you were here. Yes, I think you were here. He was the planning director for the city of Toronto, and we asked him the question, “If you were going to have the most immediate impact on reducing congestion in the GTA, through southern Ontario”—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Spend $50 million on buses.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, he said basically that you could get the biggest bang for your buck on buses, because you don’t have to have a whole capital infrastructure, you can get the buses on the road quickly, and you can get people out of their cars right away because the vehicle is there. I know in part the ministry is doing that. The York region Viva is quite, I think, an adventurous, positive investment that you’re making on Steeles—no, it’s on Highway 7, right?
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes. Just one other thing I wanted to mention too is about the different projects that are under way throughout southern Ontario in light rail and infrastructure. In the information we got in the binders, it would be helpful if we were given maps of the routes, of the new Yonge-University line, the Spadina line up to the city of Vaughan. That would be helpful, just like we have the roadmaps of northern Ontario. I think those maps would be very helpful, because I find that unless you live in the corridor, unless you live in the Keele region, York South–Weston, or you live in York West, you wouldn’t know that there’s a major subway project under way going up to York University and eventually going up to the city of Vaughan. So I think the more maps that are out there showing people the progress that is taking place, that’s—my question is, what is happening in terms of progress to that Spadina extension up to York University and eventually up to Vaughan? Where are we at in terms of the construction status?
Ms. Carol Layton: That’s the Yonge-University-Spadina—what’s called the TYSSE, the Spadina subway extension. That is about an 8.6-kilometre extension, as you said, right up to Vaughan.
The province itself has an interesting funding arrangement. The $870 million from the province was put into a trust. It’s called the Move Ontario Trust. We don’t oversee the project management of it, but certainly we are apprised of the status of it. That particular project has had some delay. But where it was once forecast by the city to be done in the final quarter of 2015, it’s tracking about eight to nine months later. So it will be into the 2016 calendar year, most likely about the third quarter or so when that subway extension off the University line is expected to be completed.
Mr. Mike Colle: Who does the project management?
Ms. Carol Layton: Actually, the project management is done by the TTC. It’s actually their project. There’s funding from the federal government, from the province and from York region, as well as the city of Toronto. Some of that money is a direct contribution through transfers or a direct expenditure, in the case of York region and the city, but there’s also a trust fund that was established as well by the province back around 2006 or so. Over time, it’s earned a certain amount of interest and it’s now basically helping to pay out as that project progresses.
Mr. Mike Colle: And that’s quite unique because the Eglinton Crosstown is being totally project-managed under Metrolinx, and then you’ve got this hybrid system going up to York University, which is done basically with a TTC lead, then.
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes. I think it’s fair to say, though, that with all of these—and actually it’s another point that I wanted to make this morning when we were talking with MPP Jackson, and that is that—
Mr. Mike Colle: With who?
Ms. Carol Layton: With MPP Jackson about the Pan Am/Parapan—
Interjection: For Barrie.
Ms. Carol Layton: —for Barrie. But the comment I wanted to make is that the minister talked about some of the legacy of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, and a really good legacy is actually going to be the fact that the transit services in the GTHA, of which there’s nine of them, are going to be working a whole lot closer. Certainly, Metrolinx works very well with the TTC, but we’re talking about York region and we’re talking about Durham, and so that’s going to be a legacy that’s going to be enduring. It’s certainly the case that’s happened in other jurisdictions. But all that to say—back to all the different transit projects that are happening in the Toronto area, for example, the Eglinton Crosstown, the Bloor-Danforth extension, the Toronto-York-Spadina subway extension as well: They all have different competitions to them in a sense, guided always by different governance instruments, whether it’s a project agreement or a memorandum of understanding. At the end of the day, it’s all about good clarity and the roles, responsibilities and excellent project planning and a good partnership.
Mr. Mike Colle: But there’s always delays, though.
Ms. Carol Layton: You know, in the case of the Toronto-York-Spadina—
Mr. Mike Colle: From time immemorial there’s been a delay.
Ms. Carol Layton: The Toronto-York-Spadina subway extension did experience some unique things. Actually, there was a fatality on that particular one up at York University, which was very troubling.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, right.
Ms. Carol Layton: I guess the point that I’d make, though, is that for some of these other projects, like the Eglinton Crosstown, which will actually be with one of the partner agencies to Metrolinx, with Infrastructure Ontario, which is also going to play a role—there is a pretty good record of on time and on budget when it comes to those projects, a very good record. You can see that right on the Infrastructure Ontario website. It’s going to be interesting to see these different types of project management structures as we live and learn from them.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, and that brings to mind, again, in light of the fact that we’re looking at the expenditures, what is the ratio out of the fare box in terms of the operating costs for GO? I know that it used to be about 90% that would come out of the fare box.
Ms. Carol Layton: It’s 80% now.
Mr. Mike Colle: So 80% is paid for by the riders. I don’t think you’ll see that anywhere in the United States. Maybe in BART or whatever; I’m not sure. But that’s quite high. Is there anything comparable to GO in terms of getting 80% out of the fare box, in terms of other transit services? I can get that later, or Bruce can—
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, Bruce is here too.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I used to be the Canadian representative at the US congress of mayors, and I think the program is still in place—we have some American legislators here. They have a program where they replace buses every 12 years with significant federal subsidies, and there’s a national transit strategy in the United States that provides a level of funding that we simply don’t have in Canada. I think we’re the only OECD country that has no national transit program and no strategic replacement program. So we have the highest level of spending on rapid transit of subnational governments and about the lowest nationally, and you see that as a strategic problem.
The last thing I’d say is that Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario have pretty close to a perfect track record of on time and under budget, and there has been, with all due respect to our friends at the TTC, a marked difference in the execution of Metrolinx-run projects compared to other transit authorities in Ontario. It’s been quite remarkable—on time, on budget, without delays. Bruce is one of the reasons for that, so I’ll turn it over to him.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Thank you very much. I can confirm that the cost recovery on the GO Transit rail and bus system is currently operating at about 80%. It’s tops in North America and it’s one of the reasons why I’m wearing my lapel pin today. GO Transit has been awarded the 2013 top public transit system award of the year by the American Public Transit Association, so it’s a reflection of efficiency, a reflection of service, and a reflection of how it’s been able to grow over the years.
The next-top-ranked system in terms of cost recovery is the TTC, which comes in, typically, at around 71% or 72%. But again, GO Transit has been very effective in terms of managing its cost structure and providing services that customers are taking up, and over the past four years we’ve been able to increase the amount of rail-based service on the system by about 25%. So we’ve had some great success, and that leads to greater ridership and more efficiencies as we go forward.
Mr. Mike Colle: I know there was a committee in this room a while ago where someone said that transit was one of the most greatly subsidized government programs, and I reminded them of that very fact, that transit riders pay a toll. Every day they ride the TTC and they ride GO, they have to pay. They’re paying 80% for GO and about 70% for TTC. So although the government does subsidize the capital infrastructure part—I mean, that’s operating, right?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Correct.
Mr. Mike Colle: I was getting to the project management. As you know, Bruce, there are some discussions on the Eglinton Crosstown about community benefits. I know the member from York South–Weston is very interested in that. People are coming together as this massive investment is being done in this corridor across the middle of Toronto on Eglinton, and they’re saying, “Is there any role for community development and community investment, perhaps employing local people and helping small business?” I know that people are very thankful that Metrolinx paid for the planning study, Eglinton Connects. I think that was paid for by the province and Metrolinx, although the city is taking all the credit for doing it. I remind them that it’s Metrolinx and provincial money. I think that’s a good thing.
But what about community benefits in these projects? Sure, we’re going to see the community benefit at the end of the road, in 2020, when Eglinton is done, and 2016, when the Spadina line finally goes up to York Region. But are you looking at any potential community benefit approaches as these massive infrastructure projects go ahead?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Well, it was a great pleasure for me to participate in an event just a couple of weeks ago with the minister to celebrate the graduation of the first Hammer Heads Program that we were supporting through the Georgetown project, through the Weston community. That was all about: How can we leverage the investment we’re making in transportation infrastructure to provide skills development opportunities for priority communities and to actually leverage our investment to see if we can provide apprenticeship opportunities and, ultimately, longer-term employment opportunities?
On the Eglinton Crosstown project, we’re working with community groups—a community network—to develop a community benefits agreement that will actually set out very specific objectives and targets in terms of supporting for training, supporting for economic development along the corridor and supporting for employment opportunities. Apprenticeships and jobs for youth is a big part of that. So we see that as a real opportunity.
On the $8.4-billion program we’re implementing in the city of Toronto right now, we believe a big part of that has to be how we provide benefits for the communities in the short term, during what can be a very significant construction phase as we build this infrastructure. So, during that program, how can we support those communities while at the same time we’re building this infrastructure for the long term?
Mrs. Laura Albanese: Can I ask where those conversations are at?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: We’re working toward basically a memorandum of understanding between ourselves and the Toronto Community Benefits Network. But ultimately, our objective is to build it into the process for the alternative financing and procurement for the Eglinton Crosstown. So when we go out to the market, the bidders are also responding to and advising us how they’re going to provide these kinds of community benefits. I think the most important piece of this is how we can build this into a very structured and effective procurement process where our vendors and our partners are going to be committing to deliver a lot of these benefits for the community.
Mr. Mike Colle: And I think—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You have about 15 or 20 seconds.
Mr. Mike Colle: Okay. I’ll let it go, then.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. Then we are going now to the Conservatives. You have 20 minutes. Mr. Jackson.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I just want to thank you again for endeavouring and actually getting those more accurate numbers, I guess, for lack of a better term. I really do appreciate the effort to do that. Like I said, it’s the closest I’ve gotten to a real answer on that stuff. I really do appreciate the fluidity and flexibility those numbers have over the long term, and recognize that.
I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth on that, but I will. Would you be able to just give me a better idea of what that 75-to-90 number covers, exactly? For example, is the $1.8 million for IBI included in that total cost? Is it just capital? What exactly is included in that number?
Ms. Carol Layton: I could give you a bit of a breakdown, as best I can, just going from—
Mr. Rod Jackson: Not detailed. Just give me a general idea.
Ms. Carol Layton: For sure, and John here, of course, knows it a whole lot better.
Again, I just have to give a wee bit of context first. As you know, you travel around the cities of Toronto and Mississauga, whatever, and you’re going to deal with congestion. So, what’s going to be really, really critical is the actual planning, and ultimately the operationalizing, a games route network. That’s a combination, certainly, of road, as well as transit. The IBI cost would be in that, because that is a three-year figure that we’re talking about, or maybe even a little bit more than that, although we’ve absorbed that this year in a sense.
But if we had to be sort of in a most transparent way—what would we pay for?—there’s going to be the actual work to do the detailed modelling, planning and testing of what we call the games route network. There’s going to be things like, for example, really trying to encourage people onto transit—how do you do that?—things like a trip planner, an app, so there’s going to be some technology components to that.
There has to be signage and way-finding. We have folks who will be coming, certainly, from Pan-American countries and otherwise, maybe not speaking English as well, so we have to think about that too. So how do they get around? When they walk around the city of Toronto, when they walk around Whitby, when they walk around the city of Hamilton, they need to be connected, in a sense, to the Pan Am/Parapan Am that they’re in, but they also need to know where they’re going. There’s not just the route planning that we have to do for the actual highways and the city streets, as well as for the many different transit services that we’re talking about, but there’s also the fact that they have to be able to appreciate it.
There are going to be volunteers who aren’t going to be paid, but they certainly have to be supported as well, so there’s a lot coming into that particular strategy.
Those would be some of the key aspects, I think.
Maybe, John, you might want to add a bit more?
Mr. John Lieou: Yes. I think you covered most of it. There may be things like, as part of the signage, we may have to draw a line, for example, depending on the games route networks and so on where the games might be—so signs and lines on the road and things like that.
Ms. Carol Layton: Just to add to that, I’d like to also say that we would lever off, of course, of what we have already. For example, Metrolinx, trip planning and TTC: Right now you can go onto the TTC website if you want to go from here to here. There are existing things like that, but we have to integrate all of this. They can’t sort of go one place for the GO network, one place for the TTC and, likewise, Durham, and onwards we go.
The other point, too, that’s worth noting, is that we are talking about 31 different competition venues. They’re not going to have the same name, necessarily, as they have right now. Is it going to be called the University of Toronto or York University? What will be that name? It depends on the sponsorship and so we do have to provide, in a sense, a purpose-built facility, in a way, through the technology that we’re talking about.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: There are so many different issues in that number, which is why it’s so unpredictable. For example, the integration of transportation ticketing with venue tickets: That’s a complex series of things through a whole bunch of venues. Can we do it for all sports, with the anticipation of what times and where the high-volume events will be? The Brazilian soccer—football, as they would call it in Europe—or the Cuban baseball team: If it’s early on a Sunday morning at a venue, then you’ve got to maybe add early-morning subway service, which could be quite expensive for a few more hours. The cost-sharing agreements that have to be negotiated for Ivor Wynne Stadium with Hamilton transit are quite extraordinary.
We’re hoping to get goodwill from the cities. See, the unusual thing, in the Winnipeg case, is that you had Winnipeg, Manitoba, the federal government and the private sector. A lot of the deals you were able to do because you weren’t dealing with dozens of municipal governments. You couldn’t negotiate with Minden or Welland, so in some ways we’re on the goodwill of strangers here. We’re hoping that these municipalities—and they have shown great goodwill, but we don’t know what the cost-sharing arrangements are on probably 20 or 30 transit-sharing agreements. No one has ever done this over 10,000, because it’s a bit of a regional economic development strategy. As I said, everything we’re building, we’re not building for the Pan Am Games. Their purpose is built for their use after the Pan Am Games, whether it’s Milton or whether it’s Minden.
The other thing is the complexity of having—what normally happens is that you sequence the Parapan Games or the Paralympics after the games for principles of ethical treatment and equality and social justice. It’s all-inclusive, in one package, to treat everyone equally. I think it’s the first time that’s ever been done. To move people with some mobility and safety issues, there’s—I won’t go on forever. But another level of complexity is doping and regulation. As you probably know, security around that and where you deploy doctors and test sites relative to the times that people have to be in a pool and the limited amount of contacts—there’s complexity to that. The reason that there are ministerial responsibilities in addition to Minister Chan, who’s the lead minister on this—I’m focused very much on transportation; Minister Meilleur is very focused on security—is because those are the two things that have the greatest complexity.
If you think about screw-ups at major events, they are almost always in security or transportation. Part of the reason that the budget is unpredictable—because I’m sure if you went back to Atlanta, where the buses all broke down and the big story of the Atlanta Olympics was how bad their bus service was, there were probably a bunch of people sitting in a room saying, “Do we need to double the number of buses and improve the amount of mechanics on duty?” I think that in hindsight, they probably wish they had spent that money. Had they spent that money and the buses were sitting empty, they would have been criticized for spending money. You’ll remember that in the London Olympics, shortly before the event, they found out they didn’t have the security in place and they had this debate that went on—it was a crisis in their national Parliament—about how well-trained their security was and whether they had sufficient security in place for those games. President Obama decides to come and you’ve just blown your security budget. The number of variables—and you’ll see this when you get the briefing—is almost impossible to predict, which is why the range still isn’t down to $500,000, and if it comes in at $60 million—don’t be surprised if it comes in at $92 million. But our best guess is, in a normal situation, if things work out according to plan, that should be it. It won’t be higher than that, I don’t think, but I’d rather underpromise and overdeliver, and I’m hoping we’ll have a significantly better number, but—we’ll see where the Cuban baseball team is playing—
Mr. Rod Jackson: Right. I appreciate that. I do appreciate the number. Again, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get anything—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: And I couldn’t have given it to you. I’ll be very honest with you, MPP, I couldn’t have given it to you before today. I literally—if you had asked if I could have given that to you before or Minister Chan could have, we would have happily given it to you.
You can thank the deputy here and the ADM who spent the last couple of hours digging through and double-checking numbers. I say that with the qualification that that’s our best guesstimate. If it changes, please don’t come back and beat me up and say, “Minister, you were misleading,” because I think I’ve so heavily qualified that number as to give you the best information I can.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes, and I consider it in good faith. I don’t intend to do that, and I realize that there’s flexibility there. All right. So I’m going to move off that.
I want to ask for a clarification on the ARL, the air-rail link. I have just a few facts here that I want to—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’d invite my friend back—
Mr. Rod Jackson: I figured he might be coming back, yes.
Just a few facts here, and I don’t want to belabour them too much but I am curious about some of the numbers. Back in 2012, Metrolinx reported that the air-rail link will be about $300 million, and then in March 2013 the costs rose to $456 million, so an increase of $156 million. As quickly as you can—and I’m not looking for a hugely detailed response because I’m sure there’s a reason for it—can you explain how that increase happened in such a fairly short period, a relatively short period of time?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Absolutely. I think the short answer is, there was no increase in the capital construction costs of the Union Pearson Express. The $300 million that you referred to was not a complete number. It was referring to a component of the project, and the total project value, which includes vehicles, which includes all of the capital construction on the infrastructure, which includes the station construction, which includes all of the information technology that goes into a new service—all of those things add up to the $456 million. I can say with complete confidence and with complete honesty that we’re on budget, we’re on schedule for spring 2015, and the $456 million represented the total budget right from the outset of the project at Metrolinx.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Thank you. Now, I guess the original plan for this was for it to be electrified, is that correct? Am I safe to say that?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: The planned-for connection between downtown Toronto and Pearson International Airport over the decades has formed a number of guises—from the 2003 process that the federal government started, the plan had always been that it would be a diesel-powered service, operating on the existing corridor. That was what it was approved as through the environmental approval process, and when it was transferred to Metrolinx for delivery, it was as a diesel-powered service.
More recently, we did a study of electrification across the entire GO Transit corridor. The board of directors of Metrolinx supported the electrification of the Lakeshore corridors and the Georgetown corridors, including Union Pearson Express, and we’re currently undertaking the environmental assessment for the electrification of the Union Pearson Express.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. There’s a couple of different timelines here that we’ve come across, and I hope you can shed some light on them. This was reported by Metrolinx officials on August 14, 2012: It mentioned that the ARL could have been electrified in three years, in time for the Pan Am Games. That’s coming from your own sources.
Then, Minister Murray, you mentioned that because of the environmental assessment, if I’m correct, that number’s going to be more like seven years, in which case it would not be able to be ready for the Pan Am Games. Is that why it’s being—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’ll let Mr. McCuaig answer for Metrolinx, then I’ll talk a little bit about some of the electrification agenda at MTO and the government and what the Premier’s hoping for.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: From a Metrolinx perspective, we had always felt that, if we’re going down the path of electrification, the Union Pearson Express is a good first phase of the implementation of electrified service more broadly on the network.
We knew that we needed to go through an environmental assessment process right from the outset. We had always targeted that that environmental assessment process, from the time that we initiated it, would take us to 2014. Then we needed to have two decisions made. One is a decision on the environmental assessment itself, an approval of the project, and the second piece is a funding decision, because there is infrastructure we need to build and it’s currently not funded. Once we have those two decisions, we estimate it will take us about three years to deliver the electrified Union Pearson Express.
I think that’s been a common position of Metrolinx for a number of years now. I’m not sure, when you refer to August 2012, exactly what that reference is, but I can tell you, from my perspective, the first gate that we go through is to complete the environmental assessment, the second gate is to have funding in place, and the third gate is to have that three-year period to construct. We’ve communicated publicly in the past that, subject to when those gates go through the process, 2017 would be the earliest that we could have electrified service.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The other piece of this is that the Ministry of Transportation, with Infrastructure Ontario, with Metrolinx, is now undertaking some significant research in concert with the private sector.
There are two types of electrification. One is the traditional one with gantries—which is very expensive—which is external to the vehicles. That would cost about $900 million on that line. That’s quite expensive. The other challenge we have is that we’re looking at biodiesel on this line that is three times as clean as the trains that run on the CP, CNR and GO line, along with the Gardiner, about half a block from my bedroom window. I’m particularly concerned about air quality because I live half a block from the busiest transportation corridor in Canada, if not the busiest in North America. So air quality on the system is a huge thing.
What we’ve been exploring is the viability of on-board systems which are Canadian technology, some of them based in the GTA and Ontario companies, which are now in their initial commercial steps in the United States. Those would actually reduce operating costs if we had the same performance as that, and we’re looking at a potential pilot project, potentially on the Union Pearson line, if we can demonstrate the viability of these technologies.
We’re at a point of major technology change in electrification between on-board systems that are sometimes using things like hydrogen and hydrolysis and those technologies. We’re looking at those because we’re in a major tech shift right now in transportation technology. Recently, and some of you may have attended it, the electric train, the hydrogen train, international summit was held here in Toronto in the last few months. It showcased a great range of technologies—pleasantly surprisingly, a large number of Canadians.
Before we make a major investment—it would also mean on-board systems are a lot easier and quicker to do, and the equipment that we’re buying, some of which is being made in Canada, some of it made in Japan, can adapt to these systems. They could actually significantly reduce operating costs. We’re just in the early stages of research on that and we have both private sector actors in Canada as well as Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation looking at options which will hopefully be presented to Ontarians if that research proves to have the same results it has had in other places.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay, thank you. You answered, actually, part of my next question within that.
In 2012, MPP Albanese wrote a letter asking for what the cost was going to be for electrification, and I guess the answer that she was given was $440 million. What’s the discrepancy between the $900 million and the $440 million? What happened there?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Well, I’ll let Bruce explain, but my understanding of it is that you can’t cost-effectively do part of a corridor. You have to do the full extent of the corridor, as it has been explained to me.
Again, this is why I hate numbers, because they always change; numbers through the rear-view mirror are a lot more reliable, especially in the dynamics.
The other thing that we’re a little hesitant about getting into detail on is that we actually are seeing a very different technology platform that’s being advanced in the UK and the United States which we think may be simpler, cleaner, safer, more efficient and allow us to utilize energy at a fairly low cost.
But I’ll leave it to Mr. McCuaig to explain the difference between the two numbers.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Thank you. I can confirm that I don’t like giving numbers early in the process. We’re going through an environmental assessment; we have not done detailed design. So please recognize that the process will actually drive forward what the final design is, which drives the final cost of the project.
The cost of the narrow question of electrification: Our estimate currently is $440 million along the corridor. That basically includes all of the direct electrification costs, the overhead catenary, bringing the power to the corridor, and doing other pieces of work along the corridor to make sure that it’s suitable for electrification.
The other part is that we’re electrifying a live rail corridor. GO trains, freight trains and Via trains will continue to be operating in this corridor while we’re electrifying it. We believe that at this point, to stage the work effectively, we need to build an additional track in the corridor that would be the ultimate construction of track capacity through it. That way, we can move the service over while we’re constructing the overhead catenary above it, because you can’t build while we have live traffic going underneath it.
That’s the additional $500 million that gets you to about that $900-million cost. It’s technically not obligatory that you do that, but I think if you’re going to deliver the project in a reasonable period of time, then it’s an important part of looking at how you would electrify the Union-Pearson corridor.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. How much time do I have, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You have about a minute and a half.
Mr. Rod Jackson: All right. The million-dollar question, then, so to speak: Is the air-rail link being not electrified all together at once, in the first part of the project, because it needs to be ready in time for the Pan Am Games, or was this part of your plan all along? I guess what I’m getting at is, if we’re rushing to get the rail done all at once and then have to go back and redo something that could have been done right the first time, i.e., electrified the first time, what is the cost of that?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: From our perspective, the project originally was not a games-related asset. It was a project that had been planned and designed for decades, frankly, and it will serve customers in this corridor for decades to come. While it is important to have the Pan Am date as a milestone, as an opportunity to deliver the service, we had not been planning this project solely for the purpose of providing service during the Pan Am Games. Like all games of this nature, it provides an opportunity to drive forward with projects that are otherwise planned and needed in a community, and that’s exactly the category I would put the Union-Pearson Express in.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): I’m going to stop you right there.
It’s time for the third party. Mr. Marchese.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you, Chair. I’m going to try to get through as many questions as I can. I’m not sure I’m back here in the morning, so I’m going to be as concise as I possibly can.
We’re reviewing Metrolinx at another committee, and I hope to be able to ask these questions on the Union-Pearson link, because I called for electrification right from the start as opposed to redoing it at the end. I’ll leave it for that review, but I do have a quick question related to that, because I’m profoundly worried that if Porter gets its way and is able to change the tripartite agreement, they’re going to get jets on the island—and the whole idea of the air link was to be able to get people from Union Station to the airport quickly. If the jets end up at the Toronto Island, how does that affect your plans vis-à-vis the Union-Pearson air link?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: It wouldn’t affect our plans at all because the demand, we think, is so significant. You’re never going to have at the island the major kinds of international flights or transfers. We’ve got the connection to, soon, international coach service—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So it wouldn’t be an issue.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I don’t think it would be an issue, no.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay. We’ll get back to it another time because I’ve got the other questions.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Go ahead.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Infrastructure Ontario gets paid to administer and promote P3s. That’s part of its job, but it is also responsible for performing the value-for-money assessment comparison, comparing P3s with traditional procurement. In other words, the IO is both the buyer and the salesperson for P3s. My view is that there is a conflict. Do you think there’s a conflict?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: No, because it’s not IO that decides which projects are P3s. Those are government decisions made, based on evidence by the ministries. I’m then referred to that.
There’s a criterion. We’ve tried it under one criterion, which we’ve had great success with, internationally recognized success, as being best in practice. We also found there are some projects that didn’t work as well and, as a matter of fact, in the other ministry I’m responsible for, there’s a review going on based on—which I think will advance some of the stuff we’ve been doing and redirect some of efforts in other ways.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: The point is, Minister, you don’t see a conflict because the government drives this, not IO.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Yes, actually it’s the ministries that drive it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: In 2003, Mr. Larry Blain—this fellow here—the president of BC’s equivalent to Infrastructure Ontario, said this: “Public sector comparators won’t do you much good anyways, because I can make the public sector comparator as bad as we want to, in order to make the private sector look good.”
In 2008, the Auditor General found that the government wasted almost $400 million by building Brampton Civic Hospital using a P3 rather than the traditional public procurement. Half was higher construction costs and the other half was borrowing costs. The AG basically said the value-for-money process was a joke. He didn’t use the word “joke,” but it was a joke. In fact, when the first VFM actually favoured traditional procurement, the hospital corporation hired another consultant to do another comparison. This time, the estimated cost of the traditional procurement had magically jumped by $125 million, tilting the balance over to P3s. Clearly, the decision to go with a P3 was a foregone conclusion and the VFM was just window dressing.
Last year, Professor Matti Siemiatycki found that Infrastructure Ontario had overpaid on its first 28 projects by about $1 billion compared to traditional procurement.
And now, with new information coming from the construction and finance industries, estimates, particularly the construction estimates: “We believe current AFP contracts will end up costing $1.5 billion more than it would if they were financed in the traditional way.”
So groups such as the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario believe that the government may be cooking the numbers to make the P3s option look better than traditional procurement, just like the government did with the Brampton Civic Hospital.
The question: How can the public trust that the government isn’t still manipulating the value-for-money process to seek a predetermined outcome favouring P3s?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I think I referenced last time here and recommended Professor Siemiatycki’s paper because I think it’s very good, and I think he accurately critiques it, both positively and negatively. He points out there are times—I think he says that there’s as much as 16%, in some cases more—but this is an area of huge debate around procurement.
We are reviewing projects. My deputy in transportation and transit—we pull projects from the AFP process based on evaluation and have done that recently. We have redirected projects that hadn’t been considered for it, which we’ve done recently on major projects. The evaluation that we’ve had, I think has been very good and effective, but in 20-20 hindsight, which is always easy, we found strengths in it and we found weaknesses in it. So we’re doing that.
The norms and comparators right now, when I talk about things like iCorridor and some of the new standards that we’re talking about, which are more comprehensive data and metrics to measure these things that are not particular to either an AFP or a traditional model of public sector procurement, will get better. But we use Professor Siemiatycki’s work to evaluate, and change is based on it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay, so you’re saying, “We don’t answer the question.” We just have to trust you, basically, in saying that you’re reviewing projects and we’re trying to get better at it. Is that more or less—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: No, I said—to compare apples and apples, there are ideological arguments on both sides. If you’re asking me, “Is AFP only about saving money?”—no. There are certain reasons, when you have complex integrated projects or you’re trying to design a hospital to reduce operating costs so that you can get better, more effective use of operating rooms and doctors’ and surgeons’ time, that you would want to use that process, and that in other times you wouldn’t. All I’m just saying is I don’t think it’s as black and white or as simple as that, and there is room to argue on both sides.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Is there any evidence that the minister or ministry can use that would counter the construction and design industry claims that you might be cooking the books or cooking the cost overrun numbers in order to justify your AFP approach to financing infrastructure?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’ll ask the deputy, because she’s quite independent of the agencies that make those determinations, and she can give you her very strong and—I can tell you, from working with her—strongly independent views on this.
Ms. Carol Layton: So when we look at different projects that are considered traditional versus whether they are good candidates for the alternative finance procurement, we put an awful lot of effort into that, and we work our way through a formal process, including through the treasury board, and ultimately through cabinet.
The other point I’d want to make is that the value-for-money assessment itself is actually calculated three different times. The other point that I should make is that the IO itself—Infrastructure Ontario—is overseen by a merit-based board of directors. They themselves bring rigour as well to the value for money so that you see the value for money before it is actually assigned to the agency itself. You see it around the time of financial close, and you see it around the time—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Sure, sure, and I appreciate the argument. The point is that you do value-for-money audits. You do it three different times. You’ve got experienced people who understand these things. My point is, if somebody’s cooking the books, it doesn’t matter what you’ve got.
Ms. Carol Layton: I guess the point that I’d make is we’ve worked our way through a number of different projects in the Ministry of Transportation. We are, actually, later to the game in terms of being a ministry who has projects through Infrastructure Ontario, largely because, unlike, for example, the Ministry of Health—and I used to be in charge of the capital planning program at one point in my career in health. I didn’t have, in that ministry, a team of people who were really, really skilled in capital planning, but you come over to the Ministry of Transportation, a ministry that is two years away from being 100 years of age, and you have people who know how to plan and design roads.
So the point that I’d want to make, Mr. Marchese, is that that public sector comparator that is done, which is developed by the staff at MTO against, in a sense, the shadow bid, is scrutinized heavily, certainly by the team at Infrastructure Ontario, and also by our team. I can tell you, there’s some really good, heated conversations on that.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I appreciate that. Can I ask you, with respect to the Brampton Civic Hospital, where the Auditor General did that review and there was $400 million more that we spent, did we apply the same rigour, with the same experienced people that you’re talking about? Or is that, “We screwed up there, but we’re learning as we go”?
Ms. Carol Layton: I can’t speak to that particular project. I wasn’t in the ministry at all at that point. I just simply would rather defer either to Infrastructure Ontario or to the folks at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay. Is it possible for you, the ministry, to supply this committee with the detailed numbers that justify your cost over on comparative figures for each of the approved AFP projects? Is it possible?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m here as the Minister of Transportation, not as the Minister of Infrastructure, so I can’t respond on that ministry, by the rules of this committee. But in transportation, I can certainly give you the criteria. I can also tell you that projects that are coming the next year, we have not decided, because these eventually will be treasury board and other decisions, whether or not they’re going to be AFP or traditional design build. I can tell you that the criteria that we look at—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: But of the approved projects in the Ministry of Transportation, could we get that?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I can completely share all of the transportation ones with you, for sure. I have absolutely no problem with that at all.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So we can expect something, to the Chair—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: You can expect it formally, but as I have done earlier with the MPP from Barrie, if you want me to—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Normally, formally would be better.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Formally, but if you’re in some urgent rush, hopefully there’s enough trust here that I can actually try to get that to you just MPP to MPP as well.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay, that would be fine, too, unless the other members would want to see it. I’m not sure.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: We’ll share it with everyone—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): If you ask for it, we all see it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: That’s the idea.
Mr. Mike Colle: No, I don’t want to see it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: No problemo, Mikey. You don’t have to share it—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: He’s got enough paper.
Mr. Mike Colle: I don’t want it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: He’s got so much to read.
Minister, how many bidders responded to the request for qualifications for the Eglinton Crosstown mega-project?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I would not be privy to it and would not know. That’s a closed-bid process, and I’m not allowed, as a minister or a politician, to be involved with that. The deputy would tell you what she could tell you, or Mr. McCuaig—
Ms. Carol Layton: I think Mr. McCuaig would be best to respond—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. McCuaig. I’m not sure we can actually disclose that, but that’s a process that we politicians have to keep our fingers off of. Mr. McCuaig?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay, very good. Bruce?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Yes. We’re in the process of procurement at this point in time. We don’t disclose publicly the detailed information of the respondents to a live bid.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I see.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: When we get to the RFP phase, we will be releasing the information at that point.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So you can’t tell us who the bidding companies or consortia might be or are at the moment?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: I’m not in a position to release that information.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So we read that there are only two bidders from all over the world. We hear that, we read that, but we don’t know that. We can’t say?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: I can’t confirm that for you; I’m sorry.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So people speculate, I suppose, in the papers, regularly, but that’s only speculation, is that correct?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Never, never; not in politics, no. Never does it ever happen.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: If there are only two, Minister or Mr. McCuaig, do you believe that two bidders would be enough to ensure that it would be a competitive process?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: We of course are very conscious of making sure that we do have competitive attention in the process as we go through.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Of course.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: The target is that two, three or four bidders would be responding to these kinds of proposals. They are significantly large proposals and they bring together a number of—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Sure; I hear you. But, Bruce, if there are only two, is it enough to ensure that this would be a competitive process?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I’ll just write “yes” for future reference.
A study done by the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario and the Ontario General Contractors Association warns that you are about to pay $500 million more than you should on the LRT. The report says that the huge contract is so big that only a handful of international consortia—perhaps only two—are capable of bidding on the project. The CDAO says that if the contract had been broken into smaller and more manageable contracts, more companies would have been able to bid, including local builders and architects, and money would have been saved due to the increased competition. Do either of you agree?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Right now, our track record, I think, is that out of over 80 projects that have been done through these models, only one was not under budget. The second thing is that with projects of this scale you’ll find, in many parts of the world, that they are assembled not for financial reasons singularly but more because of the complexity of integrating all the systems and stations in that. We’ve just sent people to the UK, both to participate and do that. So the complex number has a reason, and that’s determined through Metrolinx, and there’s oversight by the ministry to do that.
We’ll also do a risk assessment of the upsides and downsides of bundling. I do meet with the Ontario general contractors. Many of their concerns, to be quite frank, I think, are legitimate and valid, and they’re being incorporated into reforms. So Mr. McCuaig may want to answer—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: As quickly as you can, Bruce.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: I’ll just say that the biggest risk on a project like the Eglinton Crosstown, a 19-kilometre-long project, is integration of all the various elements. By having a single procurement with a single consortia, we can transfer the risk to that agency, that group, to manage that risk, we believe, more effectively than we could or others could.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Gotcha. So you basically don’t agree with what they’re saying?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: We believe that it’s an effective mechanism, yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I hear that you don’t agree, but okay, not a problem—
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: I agree, sorry—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Let me give you a straight answer—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: No, no, no; I’ve got so much, please.
The CDAO report also says that the sheer scale of the project adds huge risks, and this has scared off many good builders. So the risk premium being paid to the eventual winner will make the project much more expensive than if it had been done in the traditional way. Do you disagree on that?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: No, I don’t disagree. There was an interview that I did with what’s called generals, which is the Ontario general contractors. You can see the government’s response to their concerns. You will see that, because this is very situational, many of the concerns that they raised are around design, planning and around project management. We accept the criticism as valid.
I think you’d also hear that there is severe debate on both sides in the industry and amongst academics as to whether there are savings or a risk of $500 million. There are others who would argue the other side of the question. So to save you time, I just refer it to you, because I think that the simple answer is, yes, there’s legitimacy to the question. Yes, the government has accepted the legitimacy of that. Yes, on some large projects, to help build industry, they should be differently scaled.
On this project, as Mr. McCuaig said, the scale of integration is really unprecedented. We’ve never done a project this big or this complex before, and there is no easy right answer, but we think that, of the two options, this was the least risk. It doesn’t mean there’s no risk, but it’s the least lower-risk option.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay. Very good. Thank you, Minister. That’s fine.
The private consortium on the P3 arrangement own the project, so they have at least some ownership equity. How much equity do they have relative to the total cost of the project? Just a ballpark figure, if you know.
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: It varies from project to project, depending on the nature of the project, but it can be that anywhere from 10% to 20% to 25% is the equity that is retained by the consortia, and that’s really to try to make sure that, over the maintenance and operational phase, they have a long-term commitment to making the right kinds of choices.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: But it’s about 10% to 25% more or less, give or take? Okay. Can you provide documents that show the equity stake of the private partners versus the total cost of your current project?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: We’re in the procurement process for that project, but ultimately all that information will be made public, yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay. You will send it to us—once you’re done—because I’m assuming you guys are going to get it. This is what’s going to happen. So once it’s done, you will send it to us?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: It’ll be public?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: It’ll be public at that point, yes.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Very good. I ask because I’ve looked at some documents suggesting that the investors in P3s put very little of their actual money on the line. Almost all the project cost is financed with borrowed money. So if I’m a hedge fund manager with $400 million to invest, I’m not interested in a $400-million hospital project because only a tiny sliver of that project would be my money. I want a $4.5-billion project like the Eglinton LRT where I can invest my $400 million and borrow the rest. Is this trend towards bundling being driven by the investment needs of the finance industry, contrary to what I might have heard the minister say?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: First of all, I’d like to clarify that on the Eglinton project, I don’t actually view that as a bundled project. It is a single project. We’re putting it out into the market as a single project. It’s not like we’re bundling separate projects together.
From our perspective, the development of the structure of the arrangement was not driven by the kinds of characteristics or factors that, Mr. Marchese, you’ve just outlined.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: So you don’t think this bundling is being driven by the investment needs of the finance industry, is what you’re saying?
Mr. Bruce McCuaig: Not to my knowledge.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Okay.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Actually, I can answer that very quickly for you.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Go ahead. We have a few seconds.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay. It has nothing to do with the scale. We—
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Are we over? I can’t believe it—sorry.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: So, to answer your question really quickly, we have smaller-scale products. What you want, if you want to attract—because it’s Ontario pension funds, it’s labour funds like Fengate, whose capital we want to invest in this because it has to be stable, predictable and bankable. Those qualities do not relate to the scale or size of the project. There is in labour and in pension funds, which are one of the most secure sources and pay a good return. So it’s our teachers, our municipal workers and LIUNA members, for example, who benefit by this, and we think those quasi-public sector sources—but it doesn’t determine the scale or the quality of that, but it has to be predictable, it has to be stable and the government has to have a long-term plan.
What we hear from industry to invest in this is that the stability and predictability of a long-term investment strategy and infrastructure is the biggest single determinant of attracting, particularly, pension fund money.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. I’m going to stop you right there. We’re going to over to the Liberals: Mr. Colle.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes, I just have to correct the record.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Whose?
Mr. Mike Colle: The member from Trinity–Spadina—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): You cannot correct his record.
Mr. Mike Colle: Okay. I won’t correct it.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: You can correct yours.
Mr. Mike Colle: As you know, I’ve been involved with the Eglinton subway for over 25 years: proposed EAs, investments, sewer lines moved, streets boarded up, holes dug, holes filled in, cancellations. It’s probably not the dumbest transit mistake ever made but certainly the most horrendous transit decision ever made, because we not only lost a subway that would have gone to the airport for $800 million—I think now it’s up to $4 billion, but it’s going the other way—then the extension to Sherway Gardens on the Bloor-Danforth was cancelled and then the Sheppard subway was stopped at Don Valley—halfway. So you’ve got half a subway, Eglinton filled in, and then you’ve got Sherway cancelled.
Now we’re back to investing, 20 years later—I can’t even remember the number of years that has gone by. But we’re back now and we’re all for subways again. By the way, I think it’s important, when we’re talking about the investment on Eglinton—we’re at the point, because of the horrendous experience on St. Clair—and I’m not trying to blame, whether it was Mayor Miller or whether it was Giambrone, the TTC chairman. The word “LRT” is now a four-letter word in Toronto, all over. So I always like to correct the record. When I refer to Eglinton, I refer to it as either the Eglinton subway, which all the people in Eglinton call it, or the Eglinton Crosstown. I don’t like to use that four-letter word. I would hope the ministries would stop using—the member from Trinity–Spadina is not here. He was using that four-letter word. People are afraid of the building at grade of light rail through urban municipalities because of the disruption of traffic, the disruption of cycling, the lack of parking. So I think that’s a reality that MTO and Metrolinx have to deal with, because here you are building transit, but people now think that surface transit reduces road capacity, whereas we know it doesn’t do that.
Anyway, I’d just like to correct the record. I refer to it as the Eglinton subway, because if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck—in other words, the Eglinton Crosstown is an underground tunnel; it’s electric; and it’s got cars. They’re smaller subway cars, but they’re basically the same thing as multiple cars on subways. It’s a little narrow and a different gauge. If it is electric, it’s underground and it has cars, it’s a subway. If I try to tell people, “LRT,” they say, “Oh, it’s going above ground,” I say, “No, it’s going underground.” I think that’s a reality.
When we’re talking about communicating with people what we’re doing through Metrolinx or MTO, we have to explain, I think, the advantages and disadvantages, because, again, there has been a real, you might say, awareness shift from people’s perception of the benefits of at-grade transit. I was involved when we brought back the streetcar line to Spadina. We brought it underground at Bloor to interface with the Spadina line. At that time, it was an improvement, because we took the dirty diesel buses off of—
Mr. Mike Colle: The Chairman is laughing; he remembers. We took the dirty diesel buses off Spadina, and people were happy to see the streetcars come back. But now we’ve changed the paradigm, and people are very, very suspicious about at-grade public transit.
The other thing that’s interesting here is that we’re talking about electrification of the Georgetown air-rail link, which I guess we all want in the long run, and then we’re talking about building subways in Scarborough, the Sheppard line and the LRT conversion. We’re talking about Eglinton. Minister, if you look at the map of Toronto and if you talk to transit experts—and I happen to live across the street from Canada’s number-one transit expert, and he’ll tell you one thing only. If we’re going to build, we should be building one thing: the downtown relief line. The Yonge line carries, what, 40,000 people an hour at peak? The people at Eglinton and Yonge have to wait for five, six, seven, eight trains in the morning to get on the Yonge line. It is beyond capacity. It’s worse than Japan and Tokyo right now.
If we’re going to extend the Yonge line up to Richmond Hill and we don’t do the relief line, how are people ever going to use the Yonge line? We’re going to need sardine cans or something. How are we going to deal with that if we don’t build the downtown relief line?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Right now, as you know, the downtown relief line has been re-profiled as a priority by Metrolinx. I can tell you, it’s one of my biggest priorities. If you actually look at integrated land use and you look at all the economic data, that line and Hurontario are probably two of the most consequential, next to Eglinton.
I am shocked. I spent 25 years of my life in Ontario, some in Quebec and some in Manitoba. The level of average literacy about transportation or transit is very low. It has allowed some politicians to so grossly misrepresent things that are not even factual that I agree with you. Surface and integrated transit like the stuff they’re using in Vancouver or Paris and that we’re now introducing on Eglinton, which is flex transit—it is a subway, and I do use the word “subway” because much of this new technology is running more underground than what people think of as our subway system. If we don’t build it, if we cancel the LRT system—and I’m trying to produce the numbers because there’s lots of evidence out there—the economic cost of this would be huge.
I know, MPP Colle, that you’ll be particularly aware of this, because I asked people to go and look at the consequences of not building the Eglinton subway. You described many, so I won’t repeat them except to endorse what you’ve said. As you know, my background and my work in the private sector was in the relationship between land use transportation and economic development. I’d invite the members of the official opposition, and I’m not saying this lightly or in an attempt to be politically—especially my friend from Kitchener–Conestoga. I’d like you to go and look at what has happened and look at the tax base numbers. We just did a tax map of the entire GTHA. You look at the areas where you put higher-order transit and the concentration of employment and commercial lands. Look at Don Mills and the Don Mills industrial-commercial park. You will see that the decision to put the Eglinton Crosstown in to resolve the issues on the Don Valley was critical to the trucking industry, to support Celestica and the logistics there, and to get people in there. All of the evidence and work that was done wasn’t about building an Eglinton subway; it was actually about maintaining the competitiveness and the economic capacity of the Don Mills industrial and commercial land, which at the time was one of the biggest tax generators and the most in-demand industrial-commercial land. It is not.
If you drew a line now from the waterfront all the way up to Markham, when you come to Don Mills, you’ll now see that the tax revenues and the assessment base collapse there and it’s a death valley. If you look at what Coca-Cola just did, moving out of Don Valley and moving its head office operations downtown and its other operations out to the periphery of the GTA, you’re now losing the value of your prime industrial land.
If you want to look at the Scarborough Town Centre and the employment lands between Kennedy and the Scarborough Town Centre, you’ll find that the lack of subway investment there never caused that kind of investment and development.
All that work is being done by ADM Lieou and the growth secretary and the private sector. I have developers who are coming to me and saying, “We want to figure out a way to accelerate it, because you can do it.”
For Mississauga, as MPP Amrit Mangat said earlier today, the future of Mississauga’s industrial-commercial base isn’t going to be satisfied by half-hour GO service unless that GO service, when you get off those trains at Cookstown and other places, is onto high-speed LRT.
When you get into Hamilton, the new GO station is not going to revitalize downtown Hamilton if the LRT isn’t on James Street North.
I don’t mind debating priorities, but they’ve got to be evidence-based. I will say, very comfortably and confidently, that if we go through another generation where we abandon these investments, you won’t only lose transit and have worse congestion; you will see the loss of all the value investment and hundreds of thousands of jobs in critical infrastructure. I did consulting work in cities like Atlanta and Indianapolis that failed to do this. Indianapolis and Atlanta didn’t make these decisions, and now the compounded cost and economic loss in those cities—
Mr. Mike Colle: Minister, I just want to get back to Toronto for a second. I think those are valid comparisons. I just want to say that the other thing you talked about, people understanding transit and literacy—I think that the real problem, too, comes as a result of the people who are constructing transit, or cities or provinces or the federal government that are investing in transit, not taking the time to partner with people to explain the benefits of transit and how transit works.
Therefore, an ordinary person like Joe from Ajax here—how is he going to have the time to understand the cost benefit of transit at the surface, an LRT or a bus? Joe is just trying to get down the 401, and the 401, as we speak right now—I wouldn’t want to be on it. That poor Joe on the 401 is stuck for two hours getting from Ajax to Toronto, and he’s saying, “What’s all this investment in transit doing for me, Joe from Ajax? I can’t get any benefit of an Eglinton Crosstown or downtown relief line.” Joe from Ajax is stuck in his car. He’s had to buy a small little four-cylinder car here, poor Joe from Ajax, and Joe is not a man of meagre means. He’s had to go to a four-cylinder Chevy because he can’t afford to pay—I don’t know how many dollars he pays a day, not because he’s going a long distance—
Mr. Steve Clark: Why don’t you ask him? He’s sitting right beside you.
Mr. Mike Colle: But Joe is typical of a lot of people. They have to sit in that traffic. Coming from Kitchener it’s the same, right? People sit for hours and hours and hours, and they say, “All this transit talk, all this transit investment”—which we all want and see—they say, “How is this investment in public transit going to help Joe from Ajax pay his gas bill and get to work on time?” He or she will not see the benefits, because I think we—as government or municipal or federal officials or the transit experts—have talked over people’s heads. They haven’t talked to Joe and explained to Joe why we may need some investment in transit. Could you answer that, Minister?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Sure. In my constituency, which is home to the most crowded—we don’t even get transit anymore. With the King Street streetcar, which runs through my neighbourhood, you have to be there before 6:30 to get a seat, and I don’t mean you wait for 7. You don’t get it. So 70% of the people in my community do not own a car, and they don’t have public transit, because by the time it gets in from the east end of the city to Riverdale—
Mr. Mike Colle: What about Joe, though, coming along the 401?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I want to be really clear. I appreciate the humour of it, but I will tell you that in my community, people understand that they do not have transit services. One of my constituents said, “Why don’t you do this one day? Shut down all the streetcars in the city and see what happens to King Street, if you want to see gridlock and understand the value of that.”
We simply do not understand, because people have been politically convinced by some politicians—and they’re very specific because they say, “Subways, subways, subways,” and they say, “Cancel LRTs”—that anything other than subways is detrimental to transportation and mobility.
I’ll be quite frank with you. I’ve always said that in politics you can’t win the positive argument if the majority of other people are arguing, opportunistically, the negative argument—
Mr. Mike Colle: On the other hand, I think we’ve got to spend some dollars or some—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I don’t disagree with you, but let’s be really blunt about this. Find me somewhere in the world—and I say this quite seriously. Why is the national government in the UK putting $24 billion into two subway lines and LRT projects? Because there’s a huge consensus in London that rapid transit, surface and underground, is absolutely critical, and there’s no divided debate. Labour and Conservatives all agree that the experts on the panels should make that decision. I cannot find a region in the world today where there is actually an active political debate over whether or not we could do it. If you want to ask what your legacy is going to be in this Legislature going forward, a failure to raise the money and make these investments will be the single biggest thing you can do to give every other urban region in North America a competitive advantage. The simple—
Mr. Mike Colle: Okay, and I agree with that, but, again, it just doesn’t connect with the reality of what’s happening to—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: So put it in your householder, which I do, and second—
Mr. Mike Colle: No, no. Can I just finish, Minister?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Sure.
Mr. Mike Colle: I hate to argue with my own minister here, but—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: That’s okay.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Sometimes you have to.
Mr. Mike Colle: You have to, right?
The reality of people like Joe on the 401—I mean, how many people a day travel the 401? Do we have any information on how many vehicles a day are on the 401? If I could get that—our crack researcher will find out. Jerry, you’ll get that.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: It’s 400,000, to answer your question.
Mr. Mike Colle: It’s 400,000 vehicles—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: A day.
Mr. Mike Colle: —a day. Basically, a trip that should take a half hour, used to take a half hour, now is taking two hours, and the Joes of this world are stuck in traffic. They’re stuck on the Don Valley, they’re stuck on the 400. They do not understand why there aren’t investments. They see the widening of the highway. I think we’re doing a great job. I think Highway 427 is being widened. They see some improvement and they see continual widening of the 401. The 401 has been under construction since Babe Ruth played baseball in Toronto. It has always been under construction. The MTO of the last provincial governments, under the Conservatives and the NDP—we’ve always been widening the 401; forever. There are billions spent on widening the 401. It’s an amazing highway, considering how many trucks it carries.
But the thing is, today, people are stuck in traffic. They’re stuck in traffic on all the major highways surrounding the GTA, whether you’re trying to get to the QEW—what are we doing, as a ministry, to invest in a way that addresses their reality? We know we’re investing in GO Transit, and that’s a fantastic investment, and I’m glad that we’re expanding. But we have to look at the next plateau of investment for the Joes of this world, who shouldn’t be forced to spend four hours a day in traffic every day of their lives. It’s not productive.
The last comment I’ll mention: I remember when we first discussed building subways in Toronto back in the early 1980s. I had these talking heads telling me, “Why are you so supportive of building subways and transit? In the world of the future, everybody is going to be telecommuting,” they told me. “So it’s a waste of money. Once they get computers, people will work from their homes.” Have you ever heard those old arguments? “You’ll be working from home and you won’t have to drive to work. You can shop online. You don’t need transit. You don’t need subways.” So Joe can stay at home and sometimes make money. But as you know, with all the computers in this world, we haven’t seen a decline in congestion; we’ve seen just the opposite. We’ve seen more traffic, all the way to Brockville—wall-to-wall traffic, despite the telecommuting.
Again, how do we address the Joe problem?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay. The Joe problem—
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Let me answer your question.
Mr. Mike Colle: I want to talk about the 401, the QEW, the Joe problem.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I can only tell you how I describe it. I do think that there are some things that transcend partisan politics, and this is one of them. A tale of two highways, as I describe it: The 401 now is 16, 18 and 20 lanes wide, and it is exceeding capacity. Our iCorridor system, which we’ve just developed, will now be able to model out over the next 30 or 40 years. Let’s take—I don’t know—anonymously, Steve from Brockville. Steve from Brockville will have a three- to four-hour commute, and it is happening at an accelerated rate.
If you look at the Queen Elizabeth Way—let’s say Andrea from Hamilton comes in, she at least—because we have half-hour GO service now.
Mr. Steve Clark: Would Andrea and Paul commute together?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m very serious about this. You asked me how to explain it and why I think it’s important, and I do think this is a critical issue and I’ll get to the point.
The reason we only have four or six lanes there is because more than half of that is carried by GO service. So when we went to half-hour all-day service, it’s going to take 10 or 20 years to get the concentrations of employment along that line so that the GO trains that are jam-packed coming into the city and empty leaving are actually going to be like the highways: balanced both ways.
So the question is: On the 404 highway, which is the next one to go over capacity in the GTA and will choke out future economic development in Markham and Richmond Hill if we don’t do it, do we actually put GO service and/or rapid transit service in that 404 corridor, or do we try to create another 401? What do you want to have happen with the 404: the Queen Elizabeth Way integrated with a complete transportation corridor, or do you want another 401? That’s the fundamental policy question right now and that’s the shift we’re trying to get to right now. Ask yourself what you want to live beside.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): That’s it. We just need a clarification from the researcher.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: Good afternoon, Mr. Colle. What I will do in response to your question is, if you look at the 401, say, east-west in the GTA, from say, Milton—
Mr. Mike Colle: To Brockville.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: No. What I’m proposing is, from Milton to Clarington, the broader GTA. The MTO compiles traffic figures. They have a report. I will select certain points and give you a sampling. From my knowledge of those figures, one of the busiest points is where the 400 comes down and joins the 401. Would that suffice?
Mr. Mike Colle: Sure, that’s fine.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: Because they measure it at certain intersection points.
Mr. Mike Colle: Yes.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: Okay?
Mr. Mike Colle: Thank you. That’s fine.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): All right.
Mr. Joe Dickson: If I may, Mr. Chair, if you’re going to Clarington, the next major artery going north and south is within a kilometre. It’s Highway 115. If you would include that.
Mr. Mike Colle: Just go a little bit further.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: So I’ll go as far out—
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): As 115?
Mr. Jerry Richmond: So, say, from Milton to 35/115?
Mr. Joe Dickson: Perfect.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: Okay?
Mr. Joe Dickson: Perfect.
Mr. Jerry Richmond: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Everybody’s happy with that? Okay.
We’re going to go to the last 20-minute rotation for today—to the Conservatives—which will take us right up until about the time we quit.
Mr. Michael Harris: Good afternoon, Minister. Minister, I couldn’t help but notice that you issued a press release last week, on November 6. There’s bit of back-patting, of course; on occasion, that’s okay. You are opening up, actually, two new roundabouts on Highway 7 in Perth to improve traffic and safety conditions for local families, businesses and visitors.
First off, I’m awfully glad to see that you’re supporting building more roundabouts in Ontario, but of course I can’t help but see the irony with this situation. You clearly support including roundabouts in Ontario’s infrastructure, yet you don’t support including specific rules for these intersections in Ontario’s laws. I guess, on behalf of folks—the Joes in Waterloo region—I’m just trying to help clarify how that position makes any sense, with regard to building new roundabouts but not yet providing those rules in Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’d be glad to get people from the ministry up, but I’m a little at a loss to understand exactly what you’re asking for. Roundabouts have been part of Ontario. They exist in many other jurisdictions. There are regulations and highway rules that govern these and other intersections, and there are specific things in the driver’s manual that deal with roundabouts. This is well-regulated and well-covered.
I have talked to municipal leaders. I have talked to the OPP. I’ve talked to all kinds of folks. I cannot find anyone who thinks that there is a specific need for more specific legislation or regulation. As a Conservative, I thought you might be a little opposed to government solving everything by a whole bunch of new rules to tell people how to live their lives, but if you have some specific ideas or you can give me an example of a jurisdiction that has greater or more detailed regulation or rules, I would happily look at that. I’ve said that several times in several places to several media outlets, and as of November—is it the 19th today?
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I have yet to receive from anybody, in Ontario or anywhere, a list of suggestions or a proposal for some new regulations, and I haven’t been able to find any that are significantly different from what we do. This, to me, is a little bit of a red herring, but if you can point me to some regulations or rules, or a standard that you think is appropriate, we will gladly consider it and look at putting it into legislation, but nobody has produced that yet.
Mr. Michael Harris: All right. Well, Minister, I know you read. The Waterloo Region Record is our daily, and you know what? In a recent issue, it referenced Waterloo Regional Chair Ken Seiling—I know you know him—the Waterloo Regional Police Service, the CAA and several other local politicians supporting creating clear, uniform rules for roundabouts in the Highway Traffic Act. Are you suggesting that these people are actually wrong?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I will ask them—Ken Seiling is a friend; I think highly of him—what kind of regulations, what is missing in the Highway Traffic Act, what would you like to add, and where is there a lack of clarity? Because the debate is whether or not the existing rules are sufficient. There is a very passionate columnist in the Waterloo Record who writes about this more than almost any other subject, who feels very strongly about this.
But if you want to offer up some rules or some regulations, or point out where there’s inadequacy—we have roundabouts being put in by regional governments and municipalities in the province everywhere across Ontario and all across Canada. The only concerns being raised in Kitchener—I’ve said to people in the Waterloo region, since I haven’t gotten a complaint from a single other municipality or jurisdiction, if you want to introduce some special rules or regulations, as a municipality, you can do all kinds of things. You have control of sidewalks, public rights of way and things like that within municipal jurisdictions.
I’m happy to do it, but please find someone else in Ontario who thinks this is an issue or give me some regulations or some things that you think should be in there to be clear. No one has produced that yet.
Mr. Michael Harris: Well, you mentioned the fact that—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: And my deputy is happy to address that as well.
Mr. Michael Harris: I just want to refer back: On March 30, there was a news article published in the Waterloo Region Record. You said that my concern about ensuring safety at roundabouts wasn’t a real issue. I want to quote that to you. You said, “It doesn’t surprise me that my dear friend”—and I appreciate that comment—“Michael Harris is asking questions and going on about these things. It’s a little demonstration about how disconnected he is from the real issues in this community.”
Would you agree with that statement? Do you still stand by those words?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I haven’t read the article and I don’t know what the source of the quote is, but what I did say at the time—and I was very clear—is that the priority right now in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for this government is completing Highway 7 and getting regular GO service and completing the LRT. When I ask people locally, those are the priorities. We’ve just doubled the GO service, and our federal cousins in your party cut two trains to basically negate the improvements. Those are the kinds of fights that I think people in Waterloo region are telling me about.
Mr. Michael Harris: Well, you did promise four initially; you’re now only providing two.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: It was in the context of saying that no one, to this point, has been able to produce a set of rules or regulations or give me an example of a set of rules or regulations in another jurisdiction that they think are better than what we have. I said that I thought it was a little disconnected from reality, given that no one else had done that. If you had done that, I would not have made that comment.
If you talk to the member from Barrie, you’ll find out that I am most accommodating when people are reasonable and not overly political. I will make a very sincere commitment to you today: Produce some regulations or rules that you think are more reasonable or more responsible, or give me an illustration where someone is doing this better than Ontario, and I will take that seriously. It’s hard for me to take it seriously when neither you nor anyone else has produced that set of rules or regulations or been able to give me an example of how it could be better.
Mr. Michael Harris: But, Minister, that’s your job, to create the regulations. You’re the minister.
Ms. Carol Layton: Can I—
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you not take roundabout safety as an important issue?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: My deputy wants to get in on this, so I don’t want to stand in her way.
Ms. Carol Layton: Can I jump in a bit too? I have to admit—
Mr. Michael Harris: I want to just have him answer that question, though. Do you not believe or agree with me that roundabout safety is a major issue in the region of Waterloo?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I think that the need to have safe intersections, including roundabouts, is a very real issue in Waterloo and across Ontario.
Mr. Michael Harris: So then why don’t you make regulations?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I don’t believe in simply manufacturing red tape regulations for the sake of somebody’s populist agenda. I have said to you—and you’ve raised the issue; the onus is on you—that there isn’t anyone in the ministry that I can find who has actually identified this as a real, serious concern. You’ve said it’s a serious concern; I accept your word on this. Then I’ve asked you what the logical question is back from the minister, which I ask everybody: What is your proposed solution to this or that?
Mr. Michael Harris: I just don’t see, Minister, how you can say that pedestrian safety—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Anyway, my deputy really wants to get her oar in the water here, and I think, just out of courtesy, that we should let her.
Mr. Michael Harris: I just find it difficult, and I think the folks in my region will find it difficult, hearing the transportation minister saying that ensuring pedestrian safety at roundabouts is red tape.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: If you want to have an honest discourse, I said that pedestrian intersections, whether they’re roundabouts or other kinds, is absolutely a huge, number one priority. I also said to you that you’ve raised a concern that there is something peculiar or unusual about roundabouts in Waterloo region that requires additional rules. You have failed to actually identify what those rules would be or identify a jurisdiction that has rules different than ours. When you do that, I will more than accommodate it, but you’ve failed to do that.
Again, I’m going to ask you, can we let the deputy get her oar in the water here to answer your question, since this is an area she has some expertise in it?
Mr. Michael Harris: Quickly, and then I’ll come back to it.
Ms. Carol Layton: My parents are in Kitchener-Waterloo and I know how much they talk about the roundabouts in your area.
Mr. Michael Harris: You should take Glen with you someday, then.
Ms. Carol Layton: What’s that?
Mr. Michael Harris: You should take Glen for a ride someday up to Kitchener-Waterloo.
Mr. Michael Harris: Gilles can drive.
Ms. Carol Layton: As a jurisdiction, Ontario is fairly late getting into the world of roundabouts. Since, I think, 2009, we’ve built about seven on our provincial highways, and there’s another 40 or 50 of them in planning. Of course, we know that a lot of municipalities have really embraced them. I’ve got one right in my neighbourhood in Toronto, and I certainly appreciate the good number of them that are in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
I guess the point that I’d say there is that it is a shared responsibility. All the rules of the Highway Traffic Act that apply to driving at an intersection also apply to a roundabout. Whether it is following too closely, yielding to pedestrians, properly signalling, all of those rules apply.
The other point I want to make, though, is that in the driver’s manual, the handbook that we give out to all of our young folks and new people who want to drive, there is a specific section on roundabouts as well to actually guide people on that, because you do have to take care.
I guess the other point I would make is that when I first became deputy of the ministry and I started to learn more about the roundabouts—I do appreciate, though, the safety that you have in roundabouts when it comes to vehicle traffic. When it comes to an intersection, and if you do have a collision, it’s going to be a very different scenario than if you have a roundabout and you have a collision, which could just be the side-swiping of a car. I guess the point there being that the Highway Traffic Act—all those rules do apply. We need people to be educated, and that’s the critical thing there, and we do that through the different products that we produce as well as the driving schools.
If you Google “roundabouts,” you’ll find a lot of great YouTube videos—
Mr. Michael Harris: Yes, and I know our region has done a good job—
Ms. Carol Layton: Yes, and many others.
Mr. Michael Harris: —on educating motorists. There’s clearly more to do.
I want to bring you back to when you referenced the Highway Traffic Act. I received a letter from you, Minister, back in June, after I wrote to you and your predecessor on the same issue. You actually admitted that the Highway Traffic Act “does not specifically state the responsibility of pedestrians and drivers at uncontrolled crossings found at roundabouts.”
I also want to reference, also from Kitchener–Waterloo, an editorial, in fact, from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record just recently. It also called on Ontario as needing a roundabout law.
“As it stands, the Highway Traffic Act, the most important law governing motorists, says nothing about the roundabouts.
“One of the gaps in provincial law became glaringly apparent during the recent trial of a Grand River Transit driver who hit a student at a Kitchener roundabout in 2011,” in my riding. “Local roundabouts are posted with signs that tell drivers to yield to pedestrians. But because Ontario traffic legislation is silent about roundabouts, drivers are not required by law to give way to pedestrians in roundabouts.”
Were you aware of that?
Ms. Carol Layton: I am aware of that, and actually, I think I’m also aware of that unfortunate accident. I guess the point that I’d make there is that a roundabout is just another form of an intersection, in a sense, and so the Highway Traffic Act applies, regardless. It should not be seen as—if you don’t have a very express reference in the Highway Traffic Act, it doesn’t mean that you don’t use good common sense and understand how to drive a vehicle when you’re in that roundabout.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: First off, I drive through roundabouts. A family I sponsored to Canada lives in Waterloo—I’m out there a lot—and two of my best friends and my partner’s best friends, so I’m out there all the time.
Mr. Michael Harris: Do you signal when you go in a roundabout?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Of course I do. When I get into the intersection of a roundabout—you yield to pedestrians. In my community, I have five-way corners, I have off-centred intersections, I have all kinds of confusing corners, and we have a set of rules. We don’t have a set of rules that apply. The same standard applies. When you come to an intersection, you yield to a pedestrian. Every driver does that.
If someone was driving a truck, who was a member of the Ontario Trucking Association—or a bus—they are not only trained in the manual; they are well trained in that. Find me bus drivers who don’t know that, and I will be—
Mr. Mike Colle: Point of order, Mr. Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): On a point of order.
Mr. Mike Colle: Can we get a photo or a picture or a map of this famous roundabout? Because I want to know—really, it would help.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Your point of order is not well taken, but you can ask for it tomorrow when it’s your turn. That’s not a point of order.
Mr. Mike Colle: I’m going to ask for it tomorrow.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Yes.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The rules are very clear, because they apply to all intersections. The same rules apply in a roundabout that apply in other intersections. They are not difficult. They exist in almost every country, and they’re in—we do not prescribe differently.
Mr. Michael Harris: Now, I want to go back—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: What would you imagine we would put in the highway act? At roundabouts, the same rules apply as at a four-way intersection or a five-way intersection? Just give me the language you want and I’m happy to write it in. But I’ll tell you—
Mr. Michael Harris: Well, you know what? I did; I tabled—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: But seriously, it has been very—
Mr. Michael Harris: I tabled a private member’s bill, Minister.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I find it disingenuous—
Mr. Michael Harris: No.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: —when I say to you that I have no issue with the concern you’re raising and accept that this is a matter of concern, and I say to you I don’t think the problem is more regulation, because the rule is simple and clear. Traffic experts—and I’ve talked to lots of folks, CAA and others—say, “Don’t have multiple rules because people don’t follow them. Have one clear rule, which is that at an intersection, you have to come to a stop if there’s a pedestrian and yield to the pedestrian.”
Every safety expert I talk to tells me that the clarity and simplicity of that rule is paramountly important, and creating different rules for different intersections would create complexity and problems.
Mr. Michael Harris: Well, you know, Minister—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Again, I ask you sincerely: If this isn’t politics, and you’re really concerned about public safety—and I accept that you are—then please find me a jurisdiction that has a regulation substantially different than Ontario’s, anywhere in the world, and show me what the writing is. You failed to do that in over a year.
Mr. Michael Harris: No.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: You’ve dined out on my reputation, which I take deep offence to—
Mr. Michael Harris: Oh, Minister, come on.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: —and you can’t give me today, in front of your colleagues, a straight answer to a straight question.
Mr. Michael Harris: You told me—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Quite frankly, sir, would you please show me a single regulation different than our own, better than our own—a panel of safety experts who are giving different advice than I’m getting, because, with all due respect, I defer to the experts in this, not a colleague of mine in the Legislature who can’t produce a single bit of evidence to support his position or an alternative rule.
Mr. Michael Harris: All right. Well, I let you talk, so I’m going to go. Minister, you came to my community in Kitchener–Waterloo and said I had my head in the sand, that roundabout safety wasn’t a real issue in my community. Well, I’ll tell you it darn well is. There was a girl that almost lost her life crossing a roundabout. Even in your own letter, Minister, you said that it “does not specifically state the responsibility of pedestrians and drivers at uncontrolled crossings found at roundabouts.” So it’s your law that you need to fix; you are the minister.
Minister, I tabled a private member’s bill in this Legislature, the Safe Roundabouts Act. I’m not being prescriptive. I said, “Consult with the experts,” including the police in my region who support my call for clarity on roundabouts in Ontario here. The CAA, the agency you just referenced, also supports my bill.
I’m asking you to consult with the experts and create clarity in the Highway Traffic Act to create rules on roundabout use. People are going to get killed here because there’s not the clarity. You say this isn’t an issue? It darn well is an issue.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay, I will consult again; I have.
I want to tell you a little story about some of the things you’ll learn when you’re old like me. It’s what I call the problem with crosswalks. Any of us who has been in municipal government maybe has experienced this. A young child gets killed on a busy street, or an elderly person; the city council, against the advice of the police and all the experts says, “Well, the solution is we’ll put a crosswalk here.” All the evidence is that you shouldn’t put a crosswalk there, but it’s like a placebo. The city councillor, the mayor and everyone say, “Well, little Jane got killed and this is terrible.” So, under political pressure, “How can you look the parents in the eye and not put a crosswalk there?” I’ve seen that happen before. Then, I’ve seen other people get killed, hit and injured in that crosswalk because it wasn’t evidence-based.
So I went to talk to people. Everyone thinks that we should do more awareness and more education about this, and the region of Waterloo is doing that.
But I really want to go back to the deputy and the ADM. Show me what that rule is. I can’t find anyone, Mike, with the greatest sincerity and respect, that is actually proposing something different than what’s already in law. I think there are other things we can do to do that. To say that I’m not concerned about safety—I’ve said it over and over. It’s not my issue here. My issue is simply, “What is the rule?” Now I’ll turn it back to—
Mr. Michael Harris: But I’m asking you—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Give my deputy a chance because they’ve been dealing with this issue for years before I came along.
Mr. Michael Harris: So are you telling me the CAA, the Waterloo region police—you know what? These parties all support a roundabout law in Ontario. Are you saying that they are wrong?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay, so tell me what the roundabout law looks like.
Mr. Michael Harris: Well, I’m asking you. You’re the minister. You’ve got the experts; consult with them. Come to the table and add clarity to the Highway Traffic Act to include roundabouts. I’ve also proposed a solution that would include testing on roundabouts for G2 and G exits—road exits.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m going to ask a question here. ADM Chaput, you’re one of our experts. Maybe you can talk a little bit about this issue—
Ms. Carol Layton: The design—
Hon. Glen R. Murray: The design issues and that—
Mr. Michael Harris: Let’s find some middle ground and support the Safe Roundabouts Act. It’s there. Consult and create some clarity.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: I have consulted, and I will go back and meet with the Waterloo—
Mr. Michael Harris: They support this. Let’s work together on this, Glen. I’m happy to sit down and work with you.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Michael, they support it; that’s great. If you can describe to me what it is they support and what are the changes they would like to make or you would like to make, I’ve said very sincerely I will take it seriously. I’m going to turn it over to ADM Chaput because I think you and I are going around in circles here.
Mr. Michael Harris: We’re going to go for coffee.
Mr. Gerry Chaput: So if I could just add a few points; I think that the deputy raised it as well. Certainly, the instructions in the driver’s handbook are a good start in terms of educating the public on how they should manage and drive through a roundabout. The legislation does include, as we mentioned before—and the roundabout is designed to include one-way signs, yield signs, stop bars etc., for the driver so they have an understanding of how to treat the intersection similar to others.
I think the biggest issue here is that there’s a shared responsibility between the pedestrian and the driver. The pedestrians should be looking both ways before they cross the street. The driver should be attentive to the pedestrian that’s standing on the sidewalk or waiting to enter the intersection. I think, clearly, drivers have to yield to pedestrians when they’re on the roadway. Our legislation says that. Clearly, pedestrians need to wait for a safe opportunity to enter the intersection. They need to get that eye contact with the driver. We want to make sure that pedestrians cross where it’s safe. We teach our children that. That’s one of the laws that we learn, as a young child and as we grow up, with Elmer the Safety Elephant.
But the important aspect, too, in terms of a design perspective, is that a properly designed roundabout is designed with islands. It’s designed with traffic features that slow the driver down considerably before even entering a roundabout. The pedestrian has a chance to make that eye contact. There are splitter islands so that the pedestrian doesn’t have to cross all the lanes at the same time. They usually have a splitter island that allows them to stop in the middle. Again, watch the traffic approaching in the roundabout to wait for a safe opportunity to cross—
Mr. Michael Harris: So I’m going to get this on, because I know we’ve got seconds left: What I want to ensure is that the Highway Traffic Act states who yields to whom when the pedestrian is on the curb at a roundabout. That is what we’re looking for: clarity in the act. It needs to be there. It’s the yielding with pedestrians that’s unclear right now in the act itself. You can only look to the court case recently for the confusion pertaining to that.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay, so now we’re making progress. All right. I agree with you on that. My understanding is that there is clarity, and I can tell you as a driver that that was always clear—
Mr. Michael Harris: But “roundabouts” isn’t in the act.
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Okay, but it is a universal law, and the argument against specifying in law is that it then starts to create exceptions—
Mr. Michael Harris: So, the final question of the day: Will you work with me on this?
Hon. Glen R. Murray: Absolutely. Yes.
The Chair (Mr. Michael Prue): Okay. That’s the final question, because the time is up on that. It is now one minute to 6. I’m going to use the Chair’s prerogative to say that we are finished for the day.
We are back tomorrow to continue and to complete this particular ministry. Given the time that is left for tomorrow, which is approximately two hours and 15 minutes if we start at 3:45, and given the fact that we still have two hours left of questioning, I have taken the decision as the Chair to tell the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs not to come, because there will literally only be about five minutes after we deal with the questions, after we deal with the estimates and the votes, and after we deal with the two important motions that are before us. Just so people will know, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs will not be called. Okay? Everybody understands that? All right.
It now being 6 of the clock, we are adjourned, and back tomorrow at 3:45.
The committee adjourned at 1800.
Tuesday 19 November 2013
Ministry of Transportation E-303
Hon. Glen R. Murray
Ms. Carol Layton
Mr. John Lieou
Ms. Linda McAusland
Mr. Steve Cripps
Mr. Gerry Chaput
Mr. Rob Fleming
Mr. Bruce McCuaig
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES
Chair / Président
Mr. Michael Prue (Beaches–East York ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr. Taras Natyshak (Essex ND)
Mrs. Laura Albanese (York South–Weston / York-Sud–Weston L)
Mr. Steve Clark (Leeds–Grenville PC)
Mr. Mike Colle (Eglinton–Lawrence L)
Mr. Joe Dickson (Ajax–Pickering L)
Mr. Rob Leone (Cambridge PC)
Mrs. Amrit Mangat (Mississauga–Brampton South / Mississauga–Brampton-Sud L)
Mr. Taras Natyshak (Essex ND)
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa PC)
Mr. Michael Prue (Beaches–East York ND)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Gilles Bisson (Timmins–James Bay / Timmins–Baie James ND)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Mr. Rod Jackson (Barrie PC)
Mr. Rosario Marchese (Trinity–Spadina ND)
Ms. Soo Wong (Scarborough–Agincourt L)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr. Katch Koch
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Jerry Richmond, research officer,