Thursday 7 February 1991

Pre-budget consultations

Afternoon sitting



Chair: Wiseman, Jim (Durham West NDP)

Vice-Chair: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln NDP)

Christopherson, David (Hamilton Centre NDP)

Jamison, Norm (Norfolk NDP)

Kwinter, Monte (Wilson Heights L)

Phillips, Gerry (Scarborough-Agincourt L)

Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

Stockwell, Chris (Etobicoke West PC)

Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford NDP)

Ward, Brad (Brantford NDP)

Ward, Margery (Don Mills NDP)


Elston, Murray J. (Bruce L) for Mr Kwinter

Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East NDP) for Mr Jamison

Clerk: Decker, Todd

Staff: Anderson, Anne, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1011 in committee room 2.


The Chair: We have a lot of work to do today. Can we begin?

Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, before we begin proceeding through the report, could you report to the committee on whether the Treasurer has given you any further indication of whether he is going to provide those revenue projections?

The Chair: That request is in the Treasurer's office and I have no further information.

Mr Sterling: He has not communicated with you or the committee at this time to provide us with any more information on that?

The Chair: No.

Mr Sterling: I would just like to indicate that my party will be submitting a dissenting report to the overall report and I want to tell the committee that that will be done before the report is printed.

Mr Christopherson: On that point, Mr Chair --

Mr Elston: No, you cannot do a dissenting report.

Mr Christopherson: No?

The Chair: You mean I am going to have to write this report by myself?

Mr Elston: It is looking pretty grave.

Mr Christopherson: I met with Wildman, Cooke and Charlton and they told me how you go about this. Here is what you put in the dissent.

The Chair: Then, Mr Sterling, this afternoon we will have to set the time frame within which the report should be submitted to the committee.

Mr Christopherson: I think we had originally suggested five days and asked if that was going to be sufficient for the parties.

The Chair: I believe that Mr Stockwell informed us that it was written and ready to go three days ago.

Mr Christopherson: I am glad that everything was considered and carefully weighed.

Mr Sterling: Actually, it has not been finalized, to tell you the truth. We were counting on the revenue projections to finalize it, but unfortunately the Treasurer will not bring them forward.

Mr Elston: It is not on PC letterhead yet.

Mr Sterling: So we are having to revise part of it and go on other evidence.

The Chair: We have also in front of us this morning the Pre-Budget Consultations Report: Revision 2, with the recommendations of the government caucus placed in. What is the will of the committee? Do we look at this or do we finish all of the recommendations and revisit this later on this afternoon? What is the will of the committee on that? How do we want to handle it?

Mr Christopherson: We are easy.

The Chair: Are you leaving the decision up to me to make?

Mr Christopherson: I am just trying to be as cooperative as possible on the last day of our discussions. That is all. We are quite flexible as to how we approach.

The Chair: From my perspective, I would like to deal with the rest of the recommendations and revisit the entire report in the afternoon with the idea of having it completed. Is that acceptable?

Mr Christopherson: Yes. We have the balance of our recommendations, which I believe have been circulated. We are prepared to discuss those. We can begin discussions. I do not know how far we will get this morning, but we can certainly begin discussions on the document that was tabled yesterday and our ensuing discussions. There is one more chunk of the package, if you will, which should not be more than two pages at most, that will be tabled first thing this afternoon, immediately after lunch. Then everything is, if you will, tabled before the committee and just remains for discussion and final approval.

The Chair: I would like to begin then with the New Democratic Party Recommendations, Part II. I think perhaps it would be good if you started.

Mr Christopherson: "The committee is in full agreement over the need to re-examine the financial relationship between the two levels of government. The municipalities, when not included in the decision-making process, are put in the difficult position of having to find the necessary funds.

"The committee, therefore, recommends that:

"The Fair Tax Commission should be directed to include examining the tax structure of municipal governments, with a view to recommending a new financial relationship with the province.

"The government should support the exploration of alternative sources of revenues and the establishment of a revenue-sharing act as potential revenue-generating mechanisms for the municipal sector.

"The province should aim to provide the Association of Municipalities of Ontario with regular updates of government priorities, as well as tentative time lines for the introduction of new programs and policy initiatives.

"Budget decisions should take into account the fact that service delivery frequently involves more than one arm of government."

The Chair: Discussion, please.

Mr Phillips: I did not see where you were, what page.

Mr Christopherson: Sorry, that is page 9, revision 1.

Mr Phillips: The thing that is missing here is any recommendation on what the Treasurer might have been looking for, which is advice on this year's budget and whether the government members were planning to respond at least to AMO's request that grants for the municipalities in one case keep pace with the inflation rather than match the increased costs. I gather not.

Mr Christopherson: I just do not recall it. Did we address that yesterday?

Mr Phillips: No, I am saying that AMO came here with those recommendations, I thought, but there are no recommendations in here, I do not think, about how the Treasurer should respond to the municipalities in this year's budget.

Mr Christopherson: No, what you see before you is what we are recommending in that section.

Mr Phillips: Is there any reason why you chose not to respond to AMO's recommendations on grants?

Mrs Sullivan: Transfer payments.

Mr Phillips: Yes, transfer payments, I should say. Pardon me.


Mr Christopherson: We felt that the recommendations contained here, particularly the first one, dealt with that whole issue. Being from a regional government, I know you could do an entire document alone on the individual specifics of where the cost-sharing arrangement is not currently working. We felt that the first one adequately covered off those specific concerns as well as others.

Mr Phillips: So when AMO says to us, "What was your recommendation on our grants?" we would say, "Well, it's the Fair Tax Commission that you look to for the answer three years from now." I am just saying that would be tough for us to -- I mean, you may be able to articulate to AMO on its transfer payments for this year, but I think that would be seen as a fairly interesting shelving of its request for at least two to three years.

Mr Christopherson: Let me take your points back.

Mr Phillips: This is a good try, though.

The Chair: Do you want to clarify that? That is almost like a dangling participle. A good try in terms of referencing to what?

Mr Phillips: I am just saying the Treasurer is looking for advice on this year's budget, what should he be doing and did AMO make a good case for the unconditional grants and the conditional grants or not? When they come back to us and we say, "We sent it off to the Fair Tax Commission," they will say, "Wait a minute, we've got our property taxpayers coming up this fall" -- in fact it is an election -- "and what you've really done, committee, is just put us in the filing cabinet," for at least two years, I would think. That is all, and you may want to do that.

Mr Christopherson: Like yesterday and the preceding day, on the first runthrough we are taking what you have to say and we will get back to you.

Mr Phillips: Thank you.

Mrs Sullivan: I think as well, unless you have covered it somewhere else, you might want to address the issue of the timing of the announcements of transfer payments. It was raised by a number of groups and organizations. In the past, as a matter of courtesy and custom, to assist the municipalities and the school boards and the hospitals in determining their budget-setting, it has been done much earlier, in fact in early November. As a consequence, this year there have been severe problems for all the municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals or MUSH sector. It was raised by all of them, and I think that it should be addressed.

Mr Christopherson: Just for clarification, are you referring to this year specifically or are you referring to what has been done in the past and the timing of it even then?

Mrs Sullivan: In the past the transfer announcements have been made earlier.

Mr Christopherson: Than this year?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. This year is significantly late.

Mr Christopherson: That has been acknowledged, when it was announced they would be delayed and the why of it. I am just trying to clarify now, did you want something mentioned on that? If so, I could probably comment now. If you are talking about when it is traditionally announced, then that would be a different matter.

Mrs Sullivan: I think there should be some recommendation from the committee that the announcements ought to follow the pattern that they have followed to enable the municipalities and hospitals and schools to meet their budgeting requirements. There have been singular difficulties this year and this budget relates to the 1991 fiscal year, which will also include another transfer payment.

Mr Christopherson: The announcement this year, as I understand it, was certainly not meant to change the timing of when announcements are made. It was unique to this year as a result of the election, the new government, a whole host of things. So I think it might be a little difficult for us to address as a recommendation per se in this report.

If we would like to make a recommendation, however, that talks about the timing of announcements in general and that they be made at the earliest possible date to allow for the councils and boards to set their budgets, then that is, as I said, a separate matter.

Mr Elston: I just want to bring to the committee's attention, because the you may not have been able to go through the pile of material that just landed on your desks, probably this morning. One of the feature pieces, I think, because it deals specifically as well with municipalities, is a letter that has come in from the city of Toronto's Mayor Art Eggleton, who is recommending that several things be done with respect to specific items.

I do not know if you can tell which pile is current, but it was in the current pile of material that landed on my desk when I arrived here this morning. It is a letter of 6 February from Mayor Eggleton, and he has expressed some very real concerns, I think, which are extremely important when it comes particularly to his concern about environmental remediation. It also speaks about taxes and a couple of other items.

While Mr Christopherson is taking back a few of the concerns that had been expressed by Gerry and Barbara to consider, I wonder if he might not want to include in consideration at least two or three of the items which I see here that are particularly large projects. The mayor, for instance, wants to continue with the Ataratiri project, which is a big non-profit housing component development in downtown Toronto. He talks about the change in business taxes, talks about the series of issues that we spoke about when we talked about taxes, ie, taking some of the load off the municipal property tax base and moving it into provincial funding.

Just to bring it to your attention, because I realize it is new, there is some very good and helpful material. I think everybody would recognize that Eggleton, over the course of his tenure in city hall in Toronto, has shown a pretty big interest in renewal of the downtown of the city. There has been a lot of effort put into ensuring a balance of development and maintenance of a homy atmosphere in downtown Toronto.

In fact, it is a significantly recognized city as being an alive inner core compared to a lot of other places. I just bring it to your attention, and you might consider the possibility of including some of Mayor Eggleton's suggestions in the recommendations as well. They are fairly specific, and I guess you could probably say yea or nay fairly quickly if you reviewed his letter.

Mr Christopherson: We will be glad to consider the letter during the break. I would ask the clerk if we could get a better copy, though. This one is pretty faded. Unless any of my colleagues has a better copy, this one is pretty bad. Could we get another one, please? We will do what we can to try to respond to some of those concerns.

The Chair: This was faxed to us and apparently the original is on its way. Since it only has six blocks to go, we should have it relatively soon.

Mr Elston: They are not using the post office.

Mr Christopherson: If not, we will struggle along.

Mr Elston: I know now, just as a point of interest, a small village in my riding that is about 12 miles from Walkerton that will get seven-day mail delivery between Walkerton and it now. The post office has reorganized and become more efficient. They dispatch a letter from Walkerton to Kitchener where it sits for four days before it takes it three days to get shipped that 12-mile distance.

The Chair: Is this because they have closed the post office?

Mr Elston: No, it is because they have changed their letter flow and they no longer sort all the mail in Walkerton to be sent with the delivery person and pickup person around the area. They have to take everything back to Kitchener to sort and then send it back out. So if they are doing anything like that here, we might have to be sitting again next noon.

The Chair: Maybe we could get magnifying glasses out and try to read this then.

Mr Elston: It is a little hard, but I was able to go through a bit. It is not the best, I agree, but there are some good suggestions in there just from the point of view that they fit, I think, fairly well with some of the things we have talked about here.

The Chair: Any more discussion on this section, or do we leave this pending consideration of these requests from the mayor of Toronto? Should we go on to another section?

Mr Christopherson: We are prepared to go on to other sections. Maybe now is a good time. I have a concern that I think needs to be expressed. We have been receiving reports all along, up to and including this morning, as Mr Elston has brought forward, and I am concerned that there may indeed still be things that came in this morning or other reports that -- fine, if one us, while we are sitting here, gets a moment to go through one of the submissions or we recognize the organization, but I am wondering if we could have some sense of at what point the researchers are able to capture some of the points made in submissions if indeed they are not raised by committee members.


The Chair: The advertisement indicated that this committee would accept submissions until 6 February, which means we should have them all by now. As far as being able to read through these and put information into the report is concerned, I will let Anne handle that.

Ms Anderson: The initial draft of the report only included recommendations which had come in basically till the end of the hearings, who we have heard from, so what is in the text does not at this point include a lot of information that is in the others. On a quick look through it, a lot of the additional submissions that have come in do not incorporate points which have not been raised to date, but I will check that and make sure there are not any additional points that need to be looked at.

Mr Christopherson: In fairness, we are on the last day of the hearings and I can appreciate that you have been kept very busy with the changes we have made to the existing drafts, let alone additions. I am wondering, Mr Chair, if it would not be appropriate to send an additional letter or include in the body of a letter to those submitters when we are thanking them to acknowledge that indeed it came after the submission date but that we made an effort to try and incorporate -- just to express somehow in the letter that it did not come in at the same time as the other submissions so that it could not be given the time it deserved, but we did make an effort or it was at least reviewed, something to that effect; just so that if there are very important recommendations or positions that do not get addressed, there is a legitimate answer why they did not get the same consideration as others.

The Chair: Okay. Moving along.

Mr Christopherson: Next paragraph: "The committee is fully supportive of the arts community in its efforts to enhance cultural activities. In order for any community to thrive, it must have a strong artistic base.

"Therefore, the committee recommends that:

"The government should act with the conviction that the arts are an important element in the quality of life that Ontarians enjoy.

"The government should strengthen and expand the mandate of the Ontario Arts Council."

Mrs Sullivan: I hate to go back to the theme I kept raising yesterday, but I am going to have to. This document we are preparing are recommendations relating to choices for spending and for revenue generation for the next budget. The Treasurer responds either by accepting or rejecting those recommendations and by responding to them. The Ontario Arts Council came before this committee with a very specific plan, a significant change from its previous five-year plan, moving into a three-year plan, which it justified before the committee. The question before us is: Is the committee going to accept, reject or want to adjust that kind of recommendation and put that before the Treasurer?

Another area which has not been addressed and was not particularly well addressed relates to the continuation of the Ontario film investment program, which has been a significant contributor and is apparently under review. Perhaps there ought to be recommendations relating to those particular issues. The government has already spoken in a major way in relationship to the arts with the discontinuance of the opera ballet theatre. The government must clearly, then, have a point of view relating to a continuing arts policy.

If this committee is going to contribute to the decisions relating to the funding or the program strength, the recommendation should be so that the Treasurer is able to look at those recommendations and make the choice of agreeing with them or disagreeing with them and putting that choice into the budget.

"Strengthen and expand the mandate of the Ontario Arts Council." We were not asked at all to even look at the mandate of the Ontario Arts Council. We were asked to recommend funding for operations so that their programs can continue and continue to be strong. We were not asked to review the mandate, nor is that a budgetary decision.

Mr Elston: I apologize for being out. I just wanted to bring, again, to the attention of people -- I thank my colleague for mentioning the Ontario film investment program. It is a specific program. I have received phone calls about it in my office. I know there has not been anything put forward here, but when you talk about a firm commitment to the arts, I have been told by several people and some through correspondence that that particular program is probably up for slashing by this government, that policy and priorities is undertaking a review of it with an eye to ending it, that there were huge amounts of investment brought in by this relatively small program, that it employed a whole series of people who were attached to organizations that provide labour to the film industry and, in fact, made it possible for the Ontario film world to exist.

While I do not think we can make a recommendation here because we have not received a presentation directly enough on the point, I think it would be a shame if I did not at least bring it to Mr Christopherson's attention that this is a component to the cultural community's wellbeing in the province. Perhaps if we cannot make a recommendation in the body or the text of this, I would hope he would take back -- certainly I am concerned that the government is considering taking apart the support structure of the cultural community of Ontario and that the Ontario film investment program be looked at as a component, just as you have already looked at the Ontario Arts Council, obviously, of a healthy cultural community.

I know I am treading on rather thin ice because we have not had a presentation, but I felt I could not just let it pass by without bringing to your attention the concern that has been elicited -- maybe it is just rumour, but certainly major concerns in the filming community.

Mr Hansen: In the draft summary of recommendations, there is nothing on the Ontario Arts Council at all. Did you notice that? I am looking through. I wanted to just refresh my memory on that. Is there anything in there?

Mr Elston: In the draft, on the Ontario Arts Council?

Mr Hansen: In the draft of the summary of recommendations.

Mr Elston: I was not looking at the summary of recommendations.

Mr Hansen: I was trying to go back, in case they were not up here.

The Chair: Page 5, the second version. I do not know if you have that.

Mr Hansen: I have an old version.

Mrs Sullivan: Whether or not they are included in the summary, they appeared before the committee a week ago today, as I recall. I think I probably have somewhere in this pile their one-page sheet, which is a very specific monetary financial summary of the requirements of the

Ontario Arts Council to move into the implementation of its new three-year program. It was a significant presentation. During the course of it, they talked about not only the necessity for the arts in terms of support for quality of life but about the economic impact of the arts, which may also be words you want to include. I have it right here. The final page of their document: basically they are looking for an increase to base of $11 million.


The Chair: In year one.

Mrs Sullivan: In year one, which is the budget year we are talking about.

The Chair: That plan calls for a three-year incremental increase. If I remember, the final numbers were somewhere in the neighbourhood of $20 million over the three years.

Mrs Sullivan: It is $26 million. If the government caucus is looking for a reference for framing, perhaps we could suggest that the Treasurer acknowledge and commit to the three-year program with the Ontario Arts Council, and budget in the current fiscal year an $11-million increase to the base.

Mr Christopherson: The information for that is where? Is it in their submission?

Mrs Sullivan: It is in the Ontario Arts Council presentation.

The Chair: It is on the last page.

Mr Christopherson: There was a chart on the submission you showed? Okay. We will take a look at it.

The Chair: Further discussion? Should we move on to the next section?

Mr Christopherson: The next paragraph leads in:

"The committee recognizes the construction sector's leading role in the economic recovery. Any efforts to stimulate economic activity must begin in this area.

"The committee, therefore, recommends that:

"The government should continue its anti-recession

spending on public works for maximum impact.

"The Ontario government should urge the federal government to relax its adherence to high interest rates and tight monetary policy in order to reverse the downturn in the construction sector.

"The government of Ontario should negotiate with the federal government to begin addressing the transportation needs of the north.

"The province should seek a creative financing arrangement by all levels of government to finance new infrastructure, maintenance and renewal.

"The committee would like to note that other recommendations were made under `Social Issues -- Housing.'"

Mr Phillips: I think the challenge here is going to be that in the preamble it says, "Any efforts to stimulate economic activity must begin in this area" and that three of the four recommendations are long-term and therefore, I think, will look a little unusual if this is going to be a lead horse to work out of the recession. It talks a lot about longer-term solutions. I would think you would want to be a little firmer on accelerating this anti-recession spending. If indeed we are only six to eight months from coming out of the recession, whatever we want to do to bring it out has to occur instantly.

I do not know whether you want to mention the sewer and water commission in here. I think it is planned to proceed, but that seemed to me to be another thing that can move things along quickly.

The last point is that I know it will be convenient to blame the federal government -- for both parties that are still here it might be easy -- but the fact is that we cannot lose sight of the fact that the federal government still only provides about 10% of the revenues to the province; 90% come from elsewhere. So there will be a limit to how much we can blame them -- it would be good -- for all the economic woes. I think it is a nice tactic. I think we have to be careful of hiding behind the federal government, because in at least two and maybe three of the four recommendations, we are looking for the federal government to help us.

My point is this: If we are looking for things to bring us out of the recession in the next few months, I do not think three of the four recommendations are timely. They may be things we ought to look at for the longer term. I would think you want to be talking about accelerating the anti-recession spending, and maybe we want to look at other things. In the Agenda for People, there was $200 million a year committed to the northern fund, for which you may not have to wait for the federal government, and $100 million a year for the four-laning; that one says it will be after negotiations with the feds, but when things are as desperate as they are now, I am not sure you want to tie all your fortunes to the federal government.

Mr Elston: Bringing my past experience to bear on the item dealing with northern Ontario travel. I remember quite well that Floyd used to advocate, as did his colleagues in the last Parliament, that we should proceed and move ahead rapidly with our own initiatives and not wait for the feds, because they were not very reliable anyway. I would think that Floyd, taking this type of recommendation, would sit in his office with his feet up on his desk and laugh and say, "That's no recommendation at all," because he knows the practical nature of a recommendation. I said that yesterday about agricultural stuff and a whole series of things. It just lets the whole problem escape having to be addressed. Anyway, that is in that particular issue.

I have a bit of a concern at this moment putting a checkmark beside these recommendations as well, when you say, "The committee would like to note that other recommendations were made under `Social Issues -- Housing,'" because there were some specific things that we had asked you to consider, and if you did not accede to implementing some of the recommendations that were listed as stimuli for increased housing construction, under that section, I would make the same arguments here. If you recognize the construction industry as the prime mover of the Ontario economy out of recession, then we ought to have some very specific recommendations for the Treasurer saying that the material presented by some people with respect to housing or with respect to these particular projects was such that they would develop both employment opportunities and tax revenues for the province to help us move forward.

While I can understand you wanting to put that in, I am not sure whether you put anything else in that is going to be precise enough to be seen as a recommendation that really goes along with your preamble.

Mr Christopherson: I can respect what you are saying. It is consistent with your position yesterday that most of the ticks were tentative. I think this is one where if you are not seeing the wording that you prefer in that section, you may then have to pull back your support for that and this. I understand that. We will be aware of that when we make our final deliberations.

Mr Elston: David, you are in this a little deeper than any of the rest of us, because you are doing some consultations as well with the Treasurer in the pre-budget sense, and you are in the flow of information. Is it your intention, the NDP caucus's intention, that we have specific items for the Treasurer to consider? Yesterday we did consider funding the SARC group's corporate strategies. I know I reacted rather negatively to that one, but as an example, you chose to recommend a funding area there for discussion purposes, but in the housing and construction sectors you have chosen no particular programs as items you felt should be favoured with a particular move. I see, for instance, in the housing one, again, for yesterday, the recommendation that the 20,000 non-profit units be built.

I do not want to go through each of those items and discuss their relative merits if it is not the intention of the committee to consider recommendations along the lines of specific programs that have a fiscal outlook and that also, because they are a little more defined, would have a real effect on employment and other things. If you do not want to consider those things for inclusion, if you want to be more general in nature in this document, I will accede to that and not waste too much time. But if you want to do some specific checkmarking of programs that appear to be good ideas, I would not mind giving a couple of my ideas on the list that is in front of us.


Mr Christopherson: We have been very frank, other than some of the usual sparring that happens between different parties. By and large, we have been having good, direct discussions and we understand where we are coming from.

We do not envision a document that gets into specific programs in great detail in every area. That is not to say there are not programs, for instance, that we would highlight if we really felt they were that significant or that there was special merit to them. At this point our feeling is that a lot of those programming decisions, especially where they were not addressed specifically in submissions and specific recommendations made, are best left to the people who are in that area, both the bureaucrats and the politicians of all political stripes.

If there is a fault in this system or this approach -- I am not pretending to be a newcomer who sees everything and neither do any of my colleagues -- the downside seems to be that it kind of jumps all over the place. We do some macro discussions when the banks come in, the economists come in, the labour movement, the agriculture people. Although we do the macro, then there are also the interest groups who come in within not only a ministry, but within a branch and within a program, as you pointed out yesterday with the assistive devices. You were much more aware than any of us, of course, on that and even within that division, within that branch of the ministry, if you will, there are still a number of programs, and people would come in pushing that one particular program.

It is not that we were hesitant about putting our own government on the hook because we are identifying programs; it was rather that without the expertise and without the broad discussion to give us the background, were we indeed making the right recommendation or were we merely responding to an interest group that had the opportunity and the means to come in and make a presentation? That is where we are at right now.

Mr Elston: I guess in many ways, if you look at some of the collection of recommendations, it would seem to me to be fairly easy for you to go along and say, for instance, in the housing section again because I have that on my mind, that a recommendation by a group that you have received to develop 20,000 non-profit housing units ought not to need too much debate since in fact you suggest in An Agenda for people that you not only do that, but that you do more, in many ways. I could not anticipate that you need a whole lot of discussion because it is part of your raison d'être perhaps. Can we recommend something that specific, because it really goes right along with the flow of your sort of battle document, if I can describe the Agenda for People as that.

Mr Christopherson: It is certainly becoming that. Let me say that I was responding to your general overview and I leave that to stand on its own. As we go through things, if you feel as a caucus that we are not being specific enough, and if we have reviewed everything you have had to say, then of course we have the means available that you can dissent and disagree. You asked me generally how we were approaching it so you did not waste the valuable time we have left today, and I think I have tried to be as honest and open and specific as I can.

Mr Elston: Okay.

Mrs Sullivan: I wanted to look at this section, really. In fact the section relates more to reflation policy than it does particularly to the construction industry, I just want to make some observations about some of the things that are written here.

First of all, we know that the government has committed $700 million in spending as an anti-recession policy. All the way through the hearings we questioned economists and people from various sectors to confirm that in this type of a recession, that would be a valuable contribution, and we heard that in fact spending in capital areas was a worthwhile thing for the province to do, and there was recognition that the federal government was not in a comparable position.

As we look at what has been spent, first of all, what was promised for this current fiscal year was $41 million, I think. Now we are down to about $34 million in projects that could be sprung. That leaves about $665 million that the Treasurer has committed and he, again in his interview before us, said "should be committed." So we look at how the province spends its capital dollars, and when it spends it, and traditionally about one third of government spending is in direct spending: the province puts in 100-cent dollars and spends 100-cent dollars. The other two thirds are transfers that go out and the capital is spent in the hospitals or wherever.

One of the things that I see here as being problematical in terms of making a recommendation is that there is no differentiation between where the government ought to be spending its own direct dollars, what portion of that $665 million that is there for everybody to see should be direct provincial spending, and what portion ought to rely on municipal or other transfer sector involvement. Given that the transfer announcements are so late, how can we expect the municipalities to budget for the increased capital during the period of time when it is going to be necessary if the whole thing is going to work as a reflationary device?

I put those things to you for your consideration. In my view the province, simply because of the lateness of the transfers, is going to have to consider a far greater proportion of these expenses as direct expenditures than might otherwise have been the case, because there is just a lack of planning time at the municipal level.

The other thing is that we asked for and finally got today from Treasury -- we asked on the very first day of the hearings, I want to suggest to you, and finally got today, on the last day of discussion, a discussion paper on the infrastructure spending. In fact, I had particularly asked about projections relating to the greater Toronto area. It is here. A lot of the projects that are identified in this document, or at least the parameters that are included, are ready to go. Whether you want to suggest that specific areas ought to be looked at -- we did not have the greater Toronto area office in to testify before us, but clearly the water and sewage problems of that area have been voiced as a significant need over a period of time. I am not certain how specific you are getting. I have been pressuring for more specific discussion, but I am just making those observations.

Mr Christopherson: Thank you, and they are noted.

The Chair: Whoops.

Mr Elston: Mr Chairman, the opposition is pretty helpless.

The Chair: I would like to say that the opposition has been very helpful this morning. Thank you.

Mr Christopherson: Which ones?

The Chair: They picked up my piece of paper that fell on the floor.

Mr Christopherson: Credit where credit is due. The ones who are here?

The Chair: I do not think that should go unnoticed, that the participation of the Liberal Party here is in full and --

Mr Phillips: Fairly good quality, too.

The Chair: And they think it is fairly good quality, too.

Mr Christopherson: Certainly attentive.

Mr Phillips: The division did not carry.

The Chair: That is for this week. The last one was for her contribution last week.

Where are we at this point? Are we revisiting these in light of the comments that have been made and should we try to get through this entire document this morning, so that we can -- we should move along.

Mr Christopherson: I am waiting for your direction, Mr Chair. I am ready to go. Just give me the word.

The Chair: I just wanted to make sure that we have heard everything on this section that we want to consider and then can move along.

Mr Christopherson: We have made notes, as we have all along. We will respond to them.


The Chair: "Committee's Observations and Recommendations -- page 12." We will let him read it into the record.

Mr Christopherson: "The committee is fully supportive of a renewed partnership between local school

boards and the province. The relationship that currently exists cannot be allowed to continue.

"Therefore, the committee recommends that:

"The province attempt to forge a new era of co-operation with local school boards.

"The Fair Tax Commission should be directed to examine the issue of 60% provincial funding for education, and that the Fair Tax Commission give this issue immediate priority.

"The government should support the Ministry of Education's review of the capital grant program and should urge consultation on such key policies as:

"the funding criteria;

"the allocation process;


"child care capital;

"rated capacity and true capacity."

Mr Phillips: I will try not to be too partisan here, but this is perhaps the most pathetic one in the whole document. I tell you that I am very sensitive on this because during the whole campaign, if there was one promise that was so clear-cut, at least in Metropolitan Toronto, it was the 60%.

I go back to the Ontario Teachers' Federation press release:

"The president of the 124,000-member Ontario Teachers' Federation applauded today the campaign platform of the NDP party to restore 60% provincial funding for public education. `NDP Leader Bob Rae confirmed his party's support for education during last night's television debate....It was pathetically apparent that the other two parties do not perceive the education of Ontario's young people as a major concern.'

"The OTF board of governors has demanded that the PC and Liberal parties respond by declaring their commitment....`We challenge them to recognize their responsibility....They can best do this by promising a return to 60% funding....Provincial funding has actually dropped to 41% and local taxes have had to cope with the differential.'"

Then, in An Agenda for People:

"New Democrats propose raising the provincial share of education costs to 60% over five years, providing a solid base for better education funding and lifting some of the load of property taxes.

"The cost of the initiative over the next two years would be $1.5 billion. That's also $1.5 billion in property tax relief for Ontarians. We want to reverse the punishing increases in property taxes which hit seniors and low-income people especially hard."

There is no question in anyone's mind about what was intended: 41% -- the ministry outlined what 41% is, promised 60%. It will be seen as quite a major betrayal, I think, by the property taxpayers, by the teachers and by the school boards to try to shelve this for two or three years in the Fair Tax Commission. It just will not fly; it honestly will not.

As the OSSTF said, "We call on the Treasurer to define publicly once and for all the components of the provincial share as discussed above, and to agree not to change it unilaterally. Were he to do so, he would impose a much-needed measure of integrity on our discussions."

There is no question that the teachers' group knew exactly what it was, that the trustees" groups knew, that the property tax people knew. I think we are going to have to make some commitment on moving to reduce the property tax burden in this budget and the next budget. I think is a cornerstone of the Agenda for People of the Agenda for Power, whatever it was called. I really think that of all the recommendations in here, this is the one that -- there are others in here that I think you are going to have trouble with, because it will look like delaying tactics, but this one is just too transparent.

The Chair: Comments?

Mr Elston: I just had one brief one. You are going to get yourself into a little bit of trouble as a caucus here because of the problems that are occurring right now in Kingsville. You are getting some very interesting editorials when you talk about forging a new partnership with school boards. Marion has just returned from Kingsville, and the editorials down there are "jackboot tactics," "undemocratic." This is from the Windsor Star after Marion went in and said: "You four school boards sit down. You've got one hour to consider my ultimatum, and by the way, Kingsville school is now gone." Kimble, you are shaking your head. This is partisan -- there is no question about it -- but it is a very difficult thing for a group of people to say, "We've got to have a new partnership," when Marion is going around saying things like, "You've got an hour to decide, you trustees, what we do with that school down there."

She goes in and she says, "Oh, councils, if we give any more money, you don't have the right to use your taxing power as a council to do what you will with your democratically given opportunities for doing programs locally." I just want to bring it to the attention of the committee. I am not reading some of these things because they are highly inflammatory and will get us nowhere, but I just want to give you the context of the way some people are feeling in light of what you are talking about in terms of a new co-operative atmosphere. These people as well --

The Chair: Could I see the article?

Mr Elston: Yes, I can give this to you. This article as well, by the way, is indicating that there was a real intention by Boyd not to be around when the decision ultimately was announced in Essex; she left. Neither David Cooke nor any of your members down there, I guess, except for Pat, who is a newly elected member this term, but Dave Cooke is the veteran and none of those people were there when this occurred.

I just want you to be prepared for the idea of having a partnership when you know that style is out, and perhaps if you could deliver a wee bit of a message that if you are really setting out a new partnership type of activity in this document, then other people had better be able to live with this style of partnership that some of your ministers are delivering.

Mr Christopherson: Let me respond this way: As a new group of members in government, specifically we have been attempting to find the line among ourselves of acting both in the capacity as non-partisan members of this committee, but also recognizing the reality that we are all members of caucuses and that that has an impact on what happens here. I think the best thing about our discussions is we do tend to acknowledge when we are trying to be non-partisan and when we are wearing the party hat, and everybody has been, I think, really up front about that.

We have been trying to walk that line and we take it very seriously. This recommendation is one which all the members of our caucus on this committee feel very strongly about in terms of the area of co-operation both with school boards and with municipalities, and if there are incidents that you believe or the other opposition parties believe are at variance with that recommendation, then I not only expect but almost know for a fact, you will point out and that you will be using this document and holding it up and saying, "This is what your committee has said," etc. I do not need to make the speech for you. You will all make it many times.

On that issue, I would just say that we are comfortable enough in our capacity as members of this committee and as new MPPs to make that statement and to stand behind it, and if you will, deal with anything that comes afterwards. Now I do not want to leave the impression that that is an absolute purity high road that we have taken. The report shows that we have got some realities to face, but on that issue I would just say to you on that we feel very strongly about it and we are very comfortable with that clause being in there and we will deal with other things as they happen.

On the 60%, we spent a fair bit of time on that issue. We knew how Mr Phillips and the entire opposition caucuses felt about this issue, and we felt that this recommendation was not a delay tactic. We felt that it was consistent with Agenda for People in the context of what our Premier has said, that we will implement what we can over the term of this government and if -- the opposition these days can quote Agenda for People from memory better than I can, but the acknowledgement was that over five years the 60% would be reached and there was a reference to some action within two years.

I would bring to the attention of the Liberal caucus that the Treasurer went to great length to say, and repeated it many times, that when he announces the Fair Tax Commission and when its mandate is approved or appointed, however that process happens, he not only hopes but expects there to be recommendations that will come in the short and medium terms and that everything will not be waiting for the end of the commission's work.


It was asked, I think by the Conservatives: Was the Fair Tax Commission merely the groundwork for the plank in our re-election platform? The Treasurer said clearly that it is not, and I do not believe it is. I believe it is a sincere effort on our part to make significant changes to the tax system and our relationship with cost-sharing bodies as responsibly and as thoroughly as possible. That is why the government has gone this route and our caucus feels comfortable with that.

We have taken the step of giving this issue immediate priority. Again, we can always attach immediate priority to everything. In a political sense, that is what the opposition would like; that is certainly what our opposition did. But we feel strongly enough about this issue, in the context of the Fair Tax Commission and its work and the recognition that there are going to be short- and medium-term recommendations, that this be given the immediate priority we ask.

So we are still, as we are on everything else, listening, making notes, and are going to consider everything that is said and get back to you about any changes we might feel comfortable with, but I thought that needed to be said, because we did spend a great deal of time on this and I think we feel good about what is here and are comfortable with it. But I am, on behalf of my colleagues, willing to ask that if you still have further comments we would be pleased to receive them and consider them.

Mrs Sullivan: I just had one observation about the way you have written this. Of course, we are very sensitive about this issue, as you will understand. We are looking at the Fair Tax Commission and the examination of the issue of 60% provincial funding. In fact, what we have been led to understand by the Treasurer is that the Fair Tax Commission, this tax review process, will be looking at the sourcing of funds, the raising of funds and where the proportional balance should be in terms of education, not at what comes back out from the province. You may want to change the wording, because in terms of the funding of education there have been studies done relating to the cost and the definition of terms and so on,; last year there was a select committee on education that talked about it at great length. You are not talking about reinventing the wheel, it seems to me; what you are talking about is looking at what is coming in rather than what is necessarily going out. So you may just want to look at what in fact you want the Fair Tax Commission to do.

Mr Christopherson: Specifically, what might you be suggesting?

Mrs Sullivan: Do you really want the Fair Tax Commission to look at the 60% question -- that has been reviewed to death -- or do you want it to look at the issue of taxation on property tax being directed to education? What do you want them to do?

Mr Christopherson: I see. You are concerned that the wording may suggest that we want them to look at whether it is fair that we should pay 60% or 70% or 30%, and more the question of just how that should be done. Is that a fair assessment of what you are suggesting?

Mr Elston: You are not going accept from the Fair Tax Commission a review to your decision to move to 60% funding, are you? You do not expect them to do that, but that is the question you have really given in this: look at the 60% issue. I do not think that is really what you really want; you want to look at the sources of funding. I think you are already committed to the 60%.

Mr Christopherson: Let us take a look at what you have pointed out.

Mr Phillips: Members may appreciate the dilemma we are in. I go back to the Agenda for People. It says there is a recession. Floyd had to have been involved in the preparation of the Agenda for People. Your senior financial person could not have avoided that. That is the big consultation. We are less than six months away. There are 13 cost recommendations in the Agenda for People. So far, you have shelved 11 of them, other than the Fair Tax Commission, or just delay. The third thing you are trying to do is to blame the feds.

From our side, we were defeated on the basis of your saying you would do these things and the dastardly Liberals would not. So I think you can expect us to say: "All right. You knew there was a recession. Floyd helped prepare the document. The recession is going to be over at the end of this year. How do you do it?" As we go through each of these, you put one thing into Floyd's filing cabinet on the Fair Tax Commission, with another one you say, "We can't do that unless the federal government co-operates," and on others you are just backing off. And then you want us to sign the document. You cannot have it all ways. That is what I am saying. That one will not go down my throat; it will not even go in my mouth, because it is such a, frankly, pathetic backing off from a major commitment.

Mr B. Ward: In your opinion.

Mr Phillips: No, any person who looked at it. There is absolutely no question of what the commitment was. You can say, "We want to back off it now, we're sorry," do a mea culpa and say, "We lied," but that is a clear, unequivocal commitment. The Premier himself wrote a letter a week before the election promising $400 million to the property taxpayers of Metropolitan Toronto, 21% of the cost of public education. As the group that was in here the other day said, "We have a letter from the Premier saying that's what he would do" -- the now Premier, the then Leader of the Opposition.

I know you are squirming a bit on it because it is going to be tough. But for us it was not particularly pleasant to be picketed, with people saying: "Well, another party can do this. Why can't you?" So now, you are going to have to do it.

Mr Elston: It got rather intense at some of those events.

Mr Christopherson: Just a couple of points. I understand your sensitivity. It is apparent. I am sure that if we found ourselves in the same situation we would be as sensitive to any agenda that a party that defeated us was putting forward. There is no trivializing our recognition of your feelings.

Let me make two quick comments on that issue. First it is acknowledged in An Agenda for People that there is a recession. I am now answering for myself; this is not a government position. I think it has been pretty evident in the submissions we have had here today and from everything we have seen and heard and read about in economic circles that this recession has not performed like any other, it has not been anything like what happened in the early 1980s. There have been major changes. In fact, our own report reflects the fact that there is economic restructuring and other changes happening that did not happen.

I would also point out that there are clear points of reference from economists who have said that the recession declined, and the acceleration in the decline of the economy and the deepening of the recession happened quicker than anyone expected and quicker than anyone was anticipating and signalling. I think that is also fair.

I accept the fact that you point to the word "recession" in the Agenda for People, but I do think when we are looking at things and weighing them out fairly, it must be acknowledged that it has not performed in exactly the way economists had expected -- any economist, regardless of philosophy -- at the time that document was written.

The other thing I would point to, again, is that our Premier has made the position on behalf of our government, and your caucus and your leader and the leader of the third party have attacked this position. That is fair ball, and it has happened in the appropriate arena. But the point is that our Premier has said we will be judged on all of our election promises as we have performed over the up to five-year term of our mandate. On behalf of our caucus in this committee, I do not believe this recommendation is inconsistent with either of those points.


The Chair: I notice we have the Treasurer here. I say good morning to you. Do you wish at this point to address the committee?

Hon Mr Laughren: I apologize for dropping in this way, Mr Chair. I had a cabinet committee on labour and economic policy but I squirmed out of there. I had heard there was a problem on the committee yesterday and, as a strong believer in the committee system, I wanted, if you had the time, for a couple of minutes -- I do not want to take over the agenda of the committee or try to, by any stretch of the imagination. I talked to my parliamentary assistant, David Christopherson, last night. I ran into him on the street, as a matter of fact. He indicated to me that there was a problem yesterday, there was unhappiness that we would not provide some numbers to the committee. I was bothered by that, because that is not how I believe the system should work. If you wish, I could try and clear up some things, although I am not too sure to all your satisfaction. I would be prepared to try, if you want to take a few minutes now.

The Chair: It is very nice of you to show up, to come to this meeting. It was totally unexpected. You are welcome. Maybe we should do it by way of allowing people to ask you questions.

Hon Mr Laughren: Can I give you a couple of indications first? Would that be helpful? It might obviate the need for some questions. I am sure you have other items on your agenda. This is your last day, is it not?

The Chair: Yes, it is.

Hon Mr Laughren: That is another reason I wanted to pop in today, because I knew it would be the last chance.

We have done some very rough projections for 1991-92. They are based on data I would just be careful about because there are so many imponderables at this point. For one example, we have no idea what the federal government is going to do in its budget with the transfer payments, absolutely none. We know from the cuts they made last year on the two big programs, CAP, Canada assistance plan, and the established programs financing, that we are going to be down over $1 billion, and there are a couple of other small ones that add up to about $1.3 billion we are going to be down.

Mr Wilson is already hinting at a smaller piece of pie to share with the provinces. We are not trying to be mysterious. We really do not know what is going to happen with the revenues. We do not know growth in the economy. We do not know to what extent it is going to continue through the year. There are guesses, but our guesses in the past year, as you know, the projections during this past year, have been off base. They have not been very good, quite frankly, as the economy has deteriorated from underneath us. I am nervous about those numbers.

We -- the people in Treasury -- went through and tried to do some high, medium and low numbers about growth. I can see Mr Elston nodding his head. I am sure when he was Chair of Management Board he was engaged in this kind of process too.

Mr Elston: I was certainly accused of relying too heavily on the lower end of a lot of expenditure needs. At least that is what my caucus and cabinet colleagues accused Management Board of doing.

Hon Mr Laughren: Right. I have heard the line before.

I will start off by going through what the high and low economic projections are and then take a look at the revenues. If you leave inflation in, in other words, not real growth but just nominal growth, at the high level we see it as possibly 5.9% -- that is gross domestic product; that is very high -- at the medium, 5.5%, and at the low 1.7%. If you assume, which was what the grey book did last year, I believe, that our revenues will grow at 90% of GDP, then you would get revenues at the high end of around $46.5 billion and at the low end of about $44.8 billion. The low end is assuming, by the way, that revenues only grow at 80% of GDP, in other words, lower elasticity.

But I would keep in mind that there is nothing in there that reads the budget changes at the federal level. There is nothing in there that has to do with any changes in provincial taxes, because we have not made those decisions yet. We have barely started that. We are running behind; there is no question about that. We are running slower than the government and Treasury was last year at this time. I do not say that apologetically, because it has been a transition period from 1 October when we were sworn in. For example, the major transfers we are going to announce on Monday, and we are behind on that as well. I do not particularly like it, but that is the way it is.

If we take out the inflation and end up with real GDP growth at the high level -- this is at the high level -- it still comes to less than 1%, 0.9%, we think, and at the low level, minus 2.5% growth, negative growth, in the economy. We are looking at unemployment as well. At the high level, which is 0.9% real growth, we still have an unemployment rate of over 7%, 7.1%. At the low rate, in terms of real growth, but high rate in terms of unemployment, it would be over 9%, I think about 9.2%.

Those are the three scenarios. It would be very logical if you asked me: What assumptions did you make in order to arrive at the high and low scenarios? For the high scenario, in terms of economic growth, that assumes it would be an earlier recovery in the US with its economy than many people are projecting and an early end to the war in the Gulf, which everybody seems to agree would cause a rebound in consumer and business confidence, which has a lot to do with investment and spending; it also makes the heroic assumption that there would be continued and substantial reduction in interest rates in Canada. I think you know why I say it would be a heroic assumption. I am sure even Mr Stockwell would agree with me. The low end, in terms of low real growth -- I thought maybe some of you did not see Mr Stockwell come in -- at the low end, it implies that the recession in the States goes on longer than we hope it will and that the war drags on as well, and because of those factors that consumer and business confidence declines as well.

That is a very, very rough and, I realize, lay person's way of approaching it. You could draw a line down the middle between those highs and lows as well and come up with something, but that is how we see it.

There are a couple of comments I would like to make. One is that I think you appreciate the fact that we are quite happy to share these kinds of things with you. It is always dangerous, when things are changing, that you are going to beat us up later when these numbers do not come out the way -- we are saying, "These are what the projections could be," and you say: "Look, you guys don't know what you're doing. You said this and here's what's really happened." I do not think the official opposition would say that to us, but others might.


Hon Mr Laughren: Anyway, I will not tease the bears.

The other thing is that we cannot be put in the position of writing the budget in public. I think that causes all sorts of nonsense out there. I am not a big fan of secrecy, and we are going to be wrestling next year with how to make the process a little more open, and I would hope to use this committee. At the same time, there is a line you walk there, in terms of dealing with revenues, based on the tax changes you make. There is some kind of balance there and I, quite frankly, do not know where it is. I would hope you will respect that dilemma of trying to be as open as we can without writing the budget in public. We are -- I am not just saying this -- just now starting the process of looking at potential revenue sources at a time of a recession. We know, once again, that that is a fine line to walk.

Anyway, I will stop talking. I have a few minutes. I have to go back to the labour and economics committee, but I would be glad to try to answer any questions.


Mr Phillips: We are trying to get a handle on revenues for next year, and we find this process quite difficult, because I think in the past a grey book has been prepared and it says, "If the status quo goes on, here's the revenue, here are the expenditures and here's the deficit." I do not know whether you want to give the committee advice on what kind of deficit one should be considering. I know you have mused in the press. We did get today from your officials an estimate that for every lowering of the credit rating, it costs $25 million a year per billion dollars. I assume we go to the market for $4 billion this year or something like that, so presumably if we lose one credit rating it is $100 million in incremental cost.

Hon Mr Laughren: As a matter of fact, I was talking to people on that this morning. That, once again, is a very rough figure, because I do not think there is a formula you can apply. I suspect it means what is happening to other people's credit ratings. The interest rates are dropping out there as well although, to be fair, whether they are dropping or going up or staying down, it is the difference between a triple A and a double A plus, for example, that you are talking about, I believe.

Mr Phillips: I am just trying to get a hint from you of whether this committee needs to be worried about our credit rating or not.

Hon Mr Laughren: I wish I could answer that question. I do not know. There is no question that our deficit is going up. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that the deficit is going up substantially in 1991-92. I cannot give you a hard number, for the reasons we have already gone through: some of these predictions in the economy; we do not know what our revenues are going to be because we have not set them yet; we have no idea how the economy is going to rebound, or we do not know very precisely. The deficit will go up.

What I cannot read, and I do not think people in Treasury can, is to what extent the bond rating agencies -- I think there are two in Canada and several in the States as well -- will see the makeup of the deficit. For example, if it was expenditures out of control, that would be totally different than the economy going into a recession, us keeping our expenditures under control but not wanting to raise substantial revenues. It seems to me that the bond rating agencies would judge us differently depending on how we respond, and the component of that deficit, what has led to that deficit. But I am guessing on that, I do not know how they will respond.

Mr Phillips: I have quite a few questions. I just do not know how you want to handle it. Can I ask a couple more and then come back?

The Chair: I think you can continue. You may ask questions that other people have, and if not --

Mr Phillips: We were just having a debate when you came in about the Agenda for People. It is something I cannot get off my plate, because that is what everybody trots in here with. I can only assume you were involved in the drafting of it, as the senior financial person in the party.

Hon Mr Laughren: That is another heroic assumption.

Mr Phillips: As we have said here many times, recession was in the agenda --

Mr Elston: Floyd, now I know why you are not wearing your pink shirt. The blush to your complexion at the moment would clash.

Hon Mr Laughren: Never mind.

Mr Phillips: I was saying before you came in that there are 13 agenda costs, and so far in the committee's suggestions I think 11 of them have been shelved either to the Fair Tax Commission or to the --

Hon Mr Laughren: That is not shelving; it is giving it to the Fair Tax Commission. That is figuring out a way to implement it.

Mr Phillips: Relative to your promises in the Agenda for People it is. You said on education taxes, "In the next two years, we would remove the burden of $1.5 billion from the property taxpayer." Now the committee is suggesting, or government members are, shelve it or delay it for two or three years.

Mrs Sullivan: Postpone, postpone, abstain.

Mr Phillips: All I am saying is that of the 13 recommendations in here, at least 11 are going to be put on the shelf or delayed substantially.

Hon Mr Laughren: That is a better way of putting it.

Mr Phillips: Delayed substantially?

Hon Mr Laughren: Delayed.

Mr Phillips: I would like to comment on that, but I want to get the other part of my question out, too. You say that federal government transfer payments are down a billion next year. From what to what are you estimating they will go? This year they have gone up; at least in your current outlook they went up another $225 million.

Hon Mr Laughren: Yes, but we are talking now about the CAP. You recall that with the Canada assistance plan they served notice that they were limiting the growth in the CAP, and they did basically the same thing with the established programs financing. If they had not done that, if they had stuck to the old formula, that is how much -- we are getting that much less this year than we would otherwise be getting. Am I explaining that correctly?

Mr Phillips: What is the billion? From what to what, from $5.6 billion to $4.6 billion?

Hon Mr Laughren: Tony has it. This is Tony Salerno from Treasury.

Mr Salerno: The decrease is from where it would have been, because CAP, for instance, is triggered by provincial spending on social assistance. To the extent that there is growth in that expenditure, the province would pick it up in the first instance but be reimbursed for half of those costs by the federal government. You have all heard how the social assistance payments have been increasing and are projected to continue to increase next year. Well, the federal share would have been increasing. Frankly, with the 5% cap at this time, it limits the federal transfers to the province to a 5% growth. Given that our projection of spending in that area is much higher, you will still see an increase in CAP transfers from the federal government. However, it will not be at the rate of the provincial expenditure in that area.

You were asking about the increases this year. First of all, there is a delay in the transfers of those, the effective reduction or cap of the federal transfers, because the cash flow is somewhat delayed. So the full impact of the 5% ceiling this year is not felt to the full extent because of the lag in the transfers to the province.

There are also some adjustments that are included in the third quarter Ontario finances in respect to prior years, essentially settling accounts with respect to prior years.

Mr Phillips: Should we think that the federal transfer payments will be up 5% instead of something else? When you say it is down a billion, I think most people think it must be going from $5.6 billion to $4.6 billion.


Mr Salerno: There is another complication there, because the total entitlements will grow by 5%. However, the cash transfer could in fact be negative, depending on the value of the tax points that have been transferred to the province. Part of the transfer to the province is in the form of tax -- 13.5 points of personal income tax and 1.5 points in corporate taxes. So to the extent that, for instance, the personal income tax is growing, if it is projected to grow at greater than 5% it will reduce the cash entitlement. The total entitlement is calculated, you subtract the tax value and what is left is a cash transfer from the federal government. In fact, as you see, in the established programs financing, EPF, there is an inverse relationship. The PIT growth of $937 million triggered a reduction in the EPF transfers, and that reduction is reflected in a negative adjustment here in the third quarter Ontario finances. You cannot say in aggregate right now what the observed growth will be in the cash transfers.

Mr Phillips: Being as gentle as I can be -- as I said before, this party and our party like to offload on the feds. Your explanation there really just clouds it for me, because I think, "All right, I understand now." I look down at the bottom of this document here and I see those dirty feds are reducing the transfer payments. But you are saying no, because one of the things we agreed is that when we took more of the personal income tax, we would take less in the transfer payments.

We are trying to figure out the advice to the Treasurer. You can appreciate, as I listen to this, I am confused, because you start off saying, "We're going to get $1 billion less from the feds."

Hon Mr Laughren: Perhaps a better way of saying it is we are going to get over $1 billion less than we should be getting, in our opinion. It is particularly offensive at a time when our welfare case loads -- because this goes to help pay for social assistance -- are going through the roof and we get municipalities such as Peel, was it, saying it is not going to reimburse the province, it is not going to pay their cost of welfare -- it was in the paper this morning -- and stick it to us. That is a very nice solution. Would we not all like to be able to that?

Mr Phillips: Except that your official has said that part of the "windfall" -- I do not like to call it windfall personally, because I follow the federal numbers and I look again at the first nine months -- was not windfall at all; it was an agreement we had with them that they would give us less money in CAP payments and more money in income tax. Did you not just say that, that we are taking more per cent on the personal income tax?

Mr Salerno: No, the total entitlement is determined. What the federal government has done a number of times since 1981, but most recently in its last budget, is limit the total entitlement. The only thing I said is that in calculating the cash balance, you have to first subtract the value of those tax points that were negotiated back in the 1970s. To the extent that those tax points are worth more, then the balance, the cash transfer, will be less. But you first have to work off the total entitlement, and this is what they have reduced, to the tune of about $1.1 billion last year. There is another $200 million in other actions, but the impact of CAP and EPF in last year's federal budget will cost the province next year $1.1 billion, in that neighbourhood, based on our estimate of what we might be spending on social assistance.

Hon Mr Laughren: Our other problem is that there is no indication that that is the end of it either, for this coming year.

Mr Phillips: I am sorry. I guess somebody else had stated it. I think we get about 11% of our revenue from this source; 89% comes from elsewhere. You are saying it is only going to go up maybe 5% instead of substantially more.

Mr Salerno: No, it will grow at a rate lower than 5%, the cash transfer, because you have to distinguish between a total entitlement and the cash transfers. All I am saying is that the cash transfer here, what you will observe in that segment of the budget that is the federal transfers, will likely grow at a slower pace than 5%, because I think the personal income tax may be growing at a faster rate so that will offset some of that.

This is all assuming that there are no prior year adjustments, which there may be, and that might be positive or negative. That may cloud up exactly the observed rate of growth. It is not a simple calculation. I am sorry if I seem to be making it even more confused, but that is the way it goes.

Mr Phillips: When we got the $1 billion, I just -- I am repeating myself, Mr Chair.

Mr Elston: Perhaps while we are with Mr Salerno disclosing how he determines revenue from the feds, perhaps we could get the Ministry of Education in to tell us about general legislative grants too. We might as well continue on in this same fashion.

I just want to thank you for being here. When I was listening to this -- Dr Christie and his panel have been through this with others before -- I cannot help but reflect on several policy and priorities meetings we used to have in a previous situation we found ourselves in. This is not too much different from what we were dealing with last year. I remember the issues for us last year were: What are the feds going to do to us when the budget comes down in February? How difficult is Wilson going to be? What is he going to do? We just went through, and basically both the Treasurer and Mr Salerno have told us again that there is concern about just how far the speculation on slashing at the federal level will go. That is a given.

I remember as well having the three scenarios for income. For revenue levels you have a bright one, you have a not-so-bright one and then you have one that is absolutely dismal just to get everybody's attention, because if you do not get everybody's attention, then you can be really in bad shape.

I know what happens. People reach out and say, "Okay, this is what has been generated internally." Can you tell us of the options that have been chosen by Treasury, if you have sort of an accumulated wisdom from the private sector as to which of the options is most likely to occur? Because I know there is a comparison always made internally with external numbers, and although there are various people who do the crystal ball gazing, you would kind of like to know whether your crystal ball is as finely tuned as others or not. Did you bring your crystal ball with you?

Dr Christie: No, I do not have much room. We do, as you have noted, look at the external forecasters for the Ontario economy. When we were here last time, we left with you some material on what we had at that point in terms of what people were saying for Ontario. One of the difficulties with that approach is that, while we try to stay as current as we can, the way that business works is that there is always quite a publication lag between the time, say, that the forecaster for a chartered bank internally changes his or her forecast and gets it through his management process and through publication, etc. When those forecasts come out they are often quite dated.

While we do try and measure that and have a good sense of where people are, and by talking to them have a sense of where they are versus what they have published, it has not traditionally been a really good test of where in the range things are going to be, because, as I described, you never know where the range is at any point in time; it is only a couple of months later that you see where the range was, I think.

Mr Elston: There have been, I think, though, an establishment of a general track record of those people who come closest to the dart board, when the dart board actually appears where the dart was thrown, if I can describe it in that fashion. You would probably rely on a particular organization more for a good track record than others. Can you tell us what those are?

Dr Christie: How many reputations are going to --

Mr Elston: The Conference Board of Canada sometimes comes out with good stuff --

Dr Christie: From year to year, our experience has been that, for example, certain forecasters appear to be better at anticipating higher growth than everyone else, so if you are in a high-growth environment you will find person A to perform quite well; when it turns around, person A is probably the worst of the forecasters because he tends to be more optimistic. You will find also people in the other camp. We have not found anyone who is, good years and bad years, better than the crowd.

Mr Elston: Not to spend too much longer on it, basically this is normal exercise for the folks in Treasury, even this year, although it may be more difficult to isolate just how deep the recession is, and there is one more really big variable, which is, of course, the war in the Gulf, an external influence that none of us probably anticipated. I do not remember us talking about a war in Kuwait and Iraq a year ago when we were looking at budgetary items. That going into the mix, it is going to be still difficult, but it is normal experience for budget activity, is it not, when you try and figure what your revenues are going to be?


Dr Christie: There is a continuing exercise, week in, week out, certainly in terms of the economic indicators. There is usually something coming out every week and you look at it and try and assess it and say, "Does this make enough of a difference to change the forecast of any particular major item?" but, as I am sure the committee has noted from the people who have come to talk to you, things are sufficiently fluid now that it is a rolling exercise. At any point in time the numbers are different, so there is not a high degree of reliance placed internally on any given set of numbers, because the staff working on them know, just wait 10 days and they will be different.

Mr Elston: Just to move to one particular question, then. Although I would love to have the Treasurer here for an extended period, I know he has to get back. When you talked about the credit worthiness of your plan, you mentioned that if expenditures were seen to be wildly out of control as opposed to expenditures made for recession fighting, you would probably think you would have problems with the bond rating. Basically, I want to know which recommendations you are more apt to be comfortable with if we make them through the committee. Would you believe that a large increase by the province towards payment of salaries, which are ongoing type of activity -- for instance, we have a whole group of people in who want to have higher pay as part of their lifestyle.

Hon Mr Laughren: The public sector?

Mr Elston: Obviously in the public sector. Although we are talking about a higher minimum wage as well, that is a different issue from the one I want to isolate. For instance, the nurses have asked for a fairly large increase in negotiations with the Ontario Hospital Association. Would you say that the province making a move towards funding higher salary demands would be seen as expenditures out of control as opposed to the province making arrangements, for instance, to build more sewers or to build more of the 20,000 non-profit housing units or moving to build highways in northern Ontario, whatever? Would you see the difference between those as causing you concern about the credit worthiness of your planning?

Hon Mr Laughren: You have asked me directly. I will try and answer, although Mr Christie might be able to give you a better answer than I. My guess would be that we would be judged more critically if we allowed our public sector costs to rise through collective bargaining, although, to be fair, lots of it can be settled by arbitration as well. My guess would be that we have to bargain in a very serious way with the public sector in the next couple of years.

Mr Elston: But in terms of the weight of that type of injection of money into salaries alone or into the supporting of salaries through benefit payments or whatever, you would see that as probably being more critically eyed at this juncture than perhaps if we recommended a whole series of construction-type activities, such as housing or sewage treatment.

Hon Mr Laughren: For one reason, that in one case you are, I assume, trying to help people who would otherwise be unemployed and in the other case you are helping people who are already employed.

Mr Elston: Just one final question, then, because this is an important issue for us to consider. I know there is some continuing consideration, at least, of the agency for water and sewerage service provision. Mrs Grier was quoted as saying that you are still considering that agency for water and sewerage services, that it is part of the landscape, so you are looking at it.

Hon Mr Laughren: Very seriously.

Mr Elston: Very seriously? As it has the potential for removing about $500 million or so, we will say, from the bottom line of the province's books --

Hon Mr Laughren: If you set it up independently as a borrowing authority.

Mr Elston: Yes, if you set it up independently, the whole thing. Are you sympathetic to doing that in order to retain your fiscal flexibility and your rating flexibility?

Hon Mr Laughren: No, not for that reason. Do you know what it is like? It seems to me that we talked about separating the capital account from the operating account for deficit purposes to get a number at the end of the budgetary process. I think it would be counterproductive to pretend that the capital part of your budget was not just as big a part of the deficit as the operating. I think it would be seen to be so transparent to try and do that, either through a separate agency or through a separate capital account, although people do not tie in Ontario Hydro with the provincial deficit.

Mr Elston: Actually, Anne Stewart wrote us a nice note here. I am surprised to see that.

Hon Mr Laughren: It is seen as totally separate. If the debt of Ontario, which is now around $40 billion and Ontario Hydro is around $30 billion -- I am using round numbers -- people, in the language they use, do not say Ontario has a $70-billion debt. They do make that distinction.

Mr Elston: I think I had better stop there and give somebody else a chance.

Mrs Sullivan: Actually, a lot of the questions I had were answered. I want to go back to specific revenue decisions. You have made revenue decisions already that have been announced. With some of the discussions we have had this morning, it looks, doing some quick calculations, as if you will be looking at about $1 billion to $1.5 billion less revenue, in the absence of other decisions for the next budget. I am wondering if you can give us hints on any kinds of revenue moves you would not consider at all. Is there any area that you would say: "No, that is not something we are going to contemplate. We simply won't consider any recommendations coming in that area"?

Hon Mr Laughren: You mean up or down?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. The second thing I was wondering: When you are looking at, for instance, the reflationary policies and funding you have announced, do you have a formula or a calculation by which you say, "If I throw a million dollars into the construction sector, there will be X amount of employment" -- I think the construction industry has told us it is about one and a half people for so many houses built. Is there a simple formula, a subsequent adjustment that affects your revenue side? Can you predict, for every dollar you put into construction, the multiplier that will affect your, say, PIT income?

Hon Mr Laughren: Better you than me.

Dr Christie: A simple formula?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. Is there a standard ratio? There is a standard ratio for predicting revenue that involves growth.

Dr Christie: What we do when we look at these things is to try and get a sense -- if the spending is actually on construction, then the standard multipliers that are used for government spending are probably too low, so we make an adjustment in terms of the job and GDP multiplier; for construction it is somewhat higher than it is for government expenditure as a whole.

In terms of the revenue impact of that, we generally do not track that through as precisely. For any given expenditure program, normally the revenue implications are looked at in the context of the economy as a whole, as opposed to any particular measure. However, as a very gross, simplified rule of thumb, provincial revenue tends to be, let's say, 15% of GDP; so at times when we try to do back-of-the-envelope calculations, that is one kind of rule of thumb we have used if we create an extra dollar of GDP, revenue being about 15% of GDP, if I have that number right. That gives us some feeling of the feedback there.

For construction projects, and as I say, we have not done a specific piece of work to try to identify this number, I think, because the leakages out of construction are lower, we might see a somewhat higher figure, perhaps somewhat higher than the 15%. It is worth noting, of course, that there are benefits to the federal government in that as well, particularly in terms of the income tax that is collected.


Mrs Sullivan: Are there any Treasury revenue moves that you would not consider?

Mr Stockwell: The War Measures Act.

Hon Mr Laughren: Is that a revenue move? These decisions are perhaps more collective than they have been in previous governments, but I would have --

Mr Elston: I would not bet on it.

Mrs Sullivan: Maybe, maybe not.

Mr Phillips: Only if they go well.

Hon Mr Laughren: No, especially if they go badly, they are a collective decision. I would be hard-pressed, for example, to raise the retail sales tax, the GST having just come in this year, in the middle of a recession. We just made a decision not to -- Mr Phillips does not like it when I use this; I do not think he does -- we decided not to tax the GST, which in a sense was leaving $500 million in the pockets or perhaps closer to $400 million, with decreased activity out there, in the pockets of Ontario citizens that would not otherwise have been there if we had gone along and left the system on top of the GST. Anyway, that is one where I would sure have to be convinced it was a wise move at this point in time.

Mr Elston: Of course that would be the case if you did not do other extra things with that revenue bill that allowed you to be more thorough collecting and harvesting the tax money out there. There is a whole series of other initiatives that help you collect more money, so if the net effect is not going to be $400 million --

Hon Mr Laughren: It is what?

Mr Elston: The net effect of your announcement is not the $400 million you said, because what you did was you increased the harvestability of the standing taxes at the same time as you decided not to do something, collect the retail sales tax on the GST. You extended for a year, for instance, the amount of time you left your revenue people for collecting retail sales tax and other things, so you are not going to effect a net saving of $400 million for a lot of those people.

Mrs Sullivan: It is going to cost you $500 million, but the savings is not going to be $400 million.

Mr Elston: It is going to cost you more for one reason, because you are going to have to hire some people to do the work and there is a whole series of other things there. It is probably just too far away from this, but I just --

Hon Mr Laughren: I do not think it would come close to eating up a very big percentage of what we are leaving in people's pockets.

Unless there is a question that is searing someone's soul, I really should get back to the committee, which adjourns at 12:30.

Mr Elston: Does it have to be our souls?

Mr Phillips: Can I just confirm what we heard?

The Chair: Okay, quickly.

Hon Mr Laughren: I think I will leave before he confirms it.

Mr Phillips: Revenues are going to be up in the 6% to 7% range.

Hon Mr Laughren: I do not think I said that. But to be fair, we did not make any changes. They sure would not be up in the 6% to 7% range.

Mr Phillips: I thought you said $46.5 billion.

Hon Mr Laughren: That is at the very high end.

Mr Phillips: And that the second one was down to about a quarter of a million.

Hon Mr Laughren: That was the high number and the low was $44.8 billion.

Mr Phillips: I know that, but I am going by what the Treasury estimates gave us two weeks ago just in terms of your estimate of the economy, real growth of 0.5% and a consumer price index of 6.1%. I assume you are saying that the $46.5 billion is the high but that the second one is just down, maybe a quarter of a million. Is that right? I am trying to figure out when you leave here what the message is.

Maybe they can just clarify. On the capital account, there is an extra $650 million you are planning for next year. Is that on top of this year's number of $3.6 billion, and the non-recurring expenses that you are incurring this year would be UTDC, SkyDome and the retroactive part of the doctors' settlement?

Hon Mr Laughren: Yes.

Mr Phillips: I do not know; I am just trying to get an idea. Are we talking about $700 million that we incur this year and do not incur next year? Because you are looking to us to get some advice on the spending side. As Mr Stockwell said, we are kind of dealing with a sandwich with only one piece of bread, because we are not clear on the revenue side yet.

Hon Mr Laughren: I will ask Mr Christie to respond to your more specific question. But if you ask what message I would like to give to the committee, it would be that our revenues are going to be relatively flat, our expenditures, because of the built-in nature of many of them, are going to be up and our deficit is going to be up. We would appreciate any advice you have in all three matters: the deficit, any revenue suggestions you have for us in terms of taxes, and any particular advice you have on expenditures either that should be made in view of the recession or should be contained in view of our deficit problems.

If you ask me what message or advice I would like to see come back from the committee -- I do not see the committee as an opposition enterprise; I see it as one that would give us some advice we could use. But I do understand the political nature of the committee. That is the way it should be. I am talking about what we would like to see back from the committee, but perhaps Mr Christie could address your specific question. I am not sure if there was any question.

Mr Phillips: I do not know yet. You came in and said $46.5 billion is your upper revenue estimate, the bottom is $44.8 billion, but I thought there was the middle one, which you said is probably where you are at. That sounds to me like it was around $46.3 billion. Then there are the non-recurring expenses, the $400 million for UTDC, whatever you put in for SkyDome, which is secret, I know --

Hon Mr Laughren: We do not know yet.

Mr Phillips: -- the retroactive part of the doctors, and the capital one.

Hon Mr Laughren: There is also an assumption we will settle all those this fiscal year.

Mr Phillips: Yes.

Hon Mr Laughren: I would like to.

Mr Phillips: But if you do not, I assume you --

Hon Mr Laughren: Then it gets rolled into next year.

Mr Phillips: But the capital --

Mr Elston: Your deficit then will be reduced for this year if you do not settle it.

Hon Mr Laughren: That is correct, and higher next year.

Mrs Sullivan: And added on to next year.

Hon Mr Laughren: Yes.

Mrs Sullivan: You have already made some revenue decisions for next year as well.

Hon Mr Laughren: It is not magic.

Dr Christie: Do I understand your question on the capital count to refer to the $700-million anti-recession program?

Mr Phillips: Correct.

Dr Christie: Of which some $40 million is expected to flow this year, and the remainder is to flow next year.

Mr Phillips: The $660 million, yes.

Dr Christie: There is a special capital allocation for job creation purposes --

Mr Phillips: On top of the $3.6 billion?

Dr Christie: The ongoing capital program has its own growth profile. It is handled through estimates and allocations, and I do not have a figure on what that would naturally become next year. The decision on how much to allocate to various ministries for their capital spending purposes is part of that broader budget process; I do not have those numbers, but I assume they will be available in the budget and in the estimates when they come forward.

Hon Mr Laughren: They are coming now.

Mrs Sullivan: Just to clarify, we asked this question earlier, I think, when the Treasurer was here before as to whether this $665 million, which is about what is left, is new money. The response was it is new money and it would not go through the same process that the other capital funds would. It is sort of a TSF, Treasurer's slush fund, opportunity. It is another account that is specifically designed for the anti-recession policies that have been announced. It is new money on top of the normal capital.

Hon Mr Laughren: That is correct.

Mrs Sullivan: I just was not sure that that is what I was hearing from you.

Dr Christie: I apologize if I was unclear. That is what I was attempting to say. The discussion of allocations and estimates was simply to indicate that it is not clear that it would be added to a number of $3.7 billion because the $3.7 billion in its natural growth through allocations could be $4 billion --

Mrs Sullivan: Or $2 billion or whatever.

Dr Christie: Or $2 billion, but I do not have that number.

Hon Mr Laughren: Mr Chair, thank you for this opportunity, because I was fretting somewhat about being seen to be trying to avoid the committee and sharing any of the numbers that we have. That was not the intent; so thank you.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank you for coming and allowing these questions to be asked.

Mr Phillips: I would personally find it useful, just because that revenue thing has left me totally confused still on the federal government, you know, the explanation that Tony gave that you get some here and you lose some there, because I suspect that this will be a centrepiece of the budget --

Hon Mr Laughren: Would it be helpful for a one-pager to go to you with that?

Mr Phillips: I would find it useful, yes.

Hon Mr Laughren: We could do that with no problem at all. Do you want us to send it to the Chair and then we could distribute it to members of the committee?

Interjection: Yes.

Mr Phillips: I would compliment the Treasury because I think a year ago you made a revenue estimate and you are within 1% of it now.

Hon Mr Laughren: What a team.

Mr Phillips: Yes. I bet you there is no business in Canada that came that close.

The Chair: I have not had a motion to adjourn.

Interjection: Shall we meet at two?

Mr Christopherson: To give us a full two hours for our discussions, can we make it at 2:15? Is that a problem? Adjournment to 2:15, Mr Chair?

The Chair: Yes, we are adjourned until 2:15.

The committee recessed at 1211.


The committee resumed at 1433 in committee room 2.

The Chair: I would like to begin the afternoon session with discussion of the proposals. We really must move along on this and make some definitive decisions concerning what this report will look like, given that this is the last day of hearings. I would like to be able to move through this document, making definitive recommendations to the writing team about which recommendations go where and what we are comfortable with. We will very quickly finish off the recommendations we were doing this morning and then move to the final draft recommendations. I will leave it to Mr Christopherson to lead off the discussion this afternoon.

Mr Christopherson: I had read into the record the points on page 3. I believe I finished reading those, and we were just recapping or finalizing our discussion on that section when the Treasurer came in and we took the opportunity to ask him some questions. So if it is agreed by all present, I will move on to the next area.

"In the opinion of the committee, the area of colleges and universities is in desperate need of attention. The economic and human costs of an inadequate system of post-secondary education are becoming apparent in our society.

"The committee would recommend that:

"A re-evaluation and a restructuring of the way funds are labelled and disbursed from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities should take place.

"While the financial needs of students are related to tuition, the bulk of costs are living expenses. OSAP increases should not be solely based on tuition increases.

"The government should play a leading role in maintaining quality and accessibility controls.

"The province should persuade the federal government to eliminate the 3% administration fee on Canada student loans.

"A new system of funding should be devised which reflects the true costs of research and does not remove resources from base operating budgets.

"There should be increased government support for research at Ontario universities.

"A faculty growth fund should be looked at for the replacement of tenure-track faculty members as they retire."

Mr Elston: Again, I am at a bit of a disadvantage. Any of my colleagues here can tell me that this shortforming is sufficient to let everybody understand what you are saying. But when you say, "A re-evaluation and a restructuring of the way funds are labelled and disbursed," for me coming off the street without hearing a presentation or anything, that does not mean one bit at all.

When I look at that sentence I think I know what you are telling me. You are telling me that when Colleges and Universities sends money off to Sheridan, it is disbursed for X, so they have to put it in X, or whatever. But this does not read like an instruction to anybody. It is not a real recommendation, if you know what I mean. If you want them to change the manner in which the basic income unit is formulated for college students as opposed to the way it is done for university students or anything like that, we should actually say it rather than being so vague as to be either misunderstood or not understandable at all. I think you should be more precise.

That is a general concern, because I think this paper should be generally read by people who are interested in the budget and what we have said about it. The other thing I am really concerned about is this: "The government should play a leading role in maintaining quality," which I have no problem with, but it is the second part, "and accessibility controls." Are we getting into the same debate I thought we should not have been engaged in yesterday about health care accessibility? You were wanting to discuss limitation then. Accessibility controls, again, raises the same flag to me.

We wrestled, and not as successfully, I think, as perhaps we would have liked to as a government, with the whole issue of funding and allowing anyone who was qualified and able to get into university or college. We spent a long, long time trying to make sure that if there were classrooms needed -- we tried. There was a capital fund that was made available. It was not good enough. We tried to give them a few more grant dollars, which in the end was not good enough to take up all of the demand.

I think you ought, though, to clarify those, because I suspect you do not want that debate to be raging about government taking a lead role in maintaining accessibility controls.


Mr Sutherland: I think Mr Elston has a point on the wording. I think the intent was that one of the ways the government has influence on accessibility, not in terms of limiting it but trying to expand it, is on how you decide tuition fees. I think it is more the intent on controlling how you expand it, but when you use the word "control," it implies limitations. I think that is a concern, and maybe if we could delete the word "controls" it probably would be better.

Mr Elston: "Maintaining quality and accessibility."

Mr Sutherland: Yes.

Mr Elston: Okay. Actually, there are several ways you can militate against broad accessibility. One is tuition, as you said. The other is by not having enough classroom space. The other is not providing enough money for faculty. I see that you have a faculty growth fund and all that type of stuff, but tuition is not the only area. What you are basically saying is, I think, government should be funding to allow all students to attend courses for which they are qualified.

Mr Sutherland: Delete the word "controls." I think it is quite clear.

Mr Phillips: I am not sure this is what Mr Ward had in mind for his touchdown, I think he described it as. In reality we have not commented on the major recommendations from both the universities and the colleges. I think the universities said they are facing a crisis and are looking for substantial increased help in the next year, and the colleges had the same one. These words really are kind of skirting that issue. I think when people do read it they are going to recognize it for what it is, which is avoiding the issue of whether you are in support of the universities or not. I think Mr Ward will have trouble describing this one as a touchdown. I would have thought you would want to comment on the recommendations of the need for beginning the implementation of the universities' recovery plan or something like that.

Mr Christopherson: I am sure Mr Ward will reflect that he is looking forward to a review after all four quarters, as opposed to after the first snap.

Mr Elston: He has already suffered a reversal of nine points. He was going to score a touchdown, which is seven; he has just suffered a touchback, which is minus two.

Mrs Sullivan: That is right. He is not going to make the cheerleading team next time.

Mr Christopherson: What matters is where you are when the buzzer goes off. And we have learned it matters when the buzzer goes off.

Mr Phillips: We are talking quarters, not periods.

Mr Sutherland: You should not finish the game at the third quarter.

The Chair: I am glad to see there is some jocularity left in us after all these hours.

Ms M. Ward: That is a good word, given that these are all sports metaphors.

The Chair: I am trying to get into the mood.

Mr Christopherson: What about the earlier issue? Did that get clarified, the label, the concern you raised on that one? Any suggestions?

Mr Elston: I think you ought to tell us what you really want. Let's use plain language. Let's just say, "a re-evaluation and restructuring of the way funds are labelled and disbursed." I am guessing at what you are wanting here, but my understanding is that if a college runs a course it gets reimbursed on the basis of the basic income unit assigned to each student. To run a nursing course, it may be assumed by colleges that it costs $82 a student a semester, so they get reimbursed on the basis of 40 students in a course at $82 basic income unit for that course, and that is what they get. Then it may be assumed that in the music course at Mohawk, the number is $27 a student or something, so they get reimbursed at that level. I assume what you are trying to say is that the teaching of a course ought not to be so precisely labelled that it may hinder a college in developing a flexibility to have more students in nursing, for instance, as compared to the music, but still being able to put good, credible courses. It looks like they are so inflexibly funded as to be unable to respond to new course requirements. I guess that might be part of it.

Mr Sutherland: I think the concern is that there seems to be a difference of opinion between some of the college and university administrative officials as to how that should be designated and how MCU interprets it should be designated. What we are looking at is some negotiation process there so they can come to an agreeable way, that they both can say, "This is a fair way of deciding."

Mr Elston: Rather than getting caught in a bunch of jargon, which does not mean a lot to us, we should be just saying that the Minister of Colleges and Universities should reassess with the colleges and universities community the manner in which funding is allocated.

Mr Christopherson: That is fine, because it really is what we are trying to say.

The Chair: Can we have the wording of that?

Mr Sutherland: I think you had it very good, Murray.

Mr Christopherson: Run the tape back.

Mr Elston: "The Ministry of Colleges and Universities should reassess with the universities and colleges community the manner in which funds are disbursed."

That might, just for everybody's edification, be an interesting recommendation, bearing in mind that the auditor has just completed the first full audit at Trent, and I think there is one ongoing at the University of Toronto and there are a couple of others happening. I know there is a bit of a difference of opinion as to just how adequately administration of funds is being carried on, but at least we can go that far.

Mrs Sullivan: Once again, I do not see precision addressing the recommendations that have come from the groups who have appeared before us. We saw, for instance, on the university financing issue, the Council of Ontario Universities, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, the Ontario Federation of Students coming forward in virtual agreement on the need for a $410-million injection over a four-year period ultimately added to base, and on top of the usual increases in base funding there is no response at all and no recommendations relating to that.

Additionally, on the OSAP issue, there were very specific recommendations relating to OSAP, and if this budget recommendation is going to mean anything it should say the committee recommends increased funding of OSAP, to expand programs to include living expenses. One of the things we heard from everybody was the need to address the changing nature of students because of changing economic issues, and including in the consideration of expanded OSAP services the mature student and special circumstances there. Once again, no mention of colleges here. I would be embarrassed to submit this with no mention of colleges other than in a very nebulous first paragraph. Colleges are not here.

They are observations. I am not happy with it.


Mr Elston: Just a point on the item where, "The province should persuade the federal government." I am sure everybody would like the province to persuade the federal government, but bearing in mind that that is unlikely -- these people are bent on doing anything they can to cut back on a lot of areas of financing -- are you as a caucus committed enough to the issue of dealing with the 3% administration fee on Canada student loans that is being charged by the feds to indicate that the province should pick that up? It is a hope, I guess, but it --

The 3% administrative fee charged on Canada student loans is something that we would all like the province to persuade the feds to drop. Bearing in mind that they have become increasingly unresponsive to anybody who wants things like this removed, are the members of the government caucus committed enough to deal with this issue that they would recommend a makeup by the provincial Treasury?

I just want to be clear because I am not particularly in favour of supporting a whole lot of things that tell the province that it should persuade the feds, because even if you think they should, that does not do much for me nor does it do anything for the issue. I would prefer that you say perhaps something like, "The Ontario government should respond to the losses experienced because of increased administrative charges levied against students by the federal government," if you want. That is really flexible, but it also gives the sense that we think the province should consider maybe doing something about it without telling it what.

Mr Christopherson: What are you suggesting?

Mr Elston: Just that the provincial Treasurer should deal with the losses experienced by the 3% administrative fees levied against post-secondary students by the federal government. If all they want to do is negotiate with them, that is fine. If they want to persuade them to change it, fine. Maybe they want to go further and say, "Listen, we cannot countenance a 3% reduction in the assistance available for post-secondary education through Canada student assistance program."

Mr Christopherson: We have been through most of our document and there is still some fresh territory. I have got one more at the table that is only a page and a half. We are prepared to respond, to give our revisions to the first and second and we are also prepared to have a quick caucus this afternoon to respond to what you are raising now. That is a tight time frame, but that is what we are prepared to do, if you would like.

Next the committee is concerned with the --

Mr Elston: Sorry. The increased government support for research, are you looking as well still at a partnership with private business in the research area or are you looking solely at research being sponsored by the provincial government? There has been an attempt. In a real way the feds have done things to a larger extent with a huge private development initiative in terms of funds in the university sector. We had as well, through the tech fund, in a couple of other places married private development with university research facilities. In fact that was one of the requirements for funding, that you had to have a tie-in with a provincial university for research if you were asking for tech funding as a private organization. Are you excluding private industry participation in the research funds or are you looking for the partnership to continue? Because increased government support --

The Chair: With respect to increasing support for research funding, when the private sector is involved and a new development is made and a patent is claimed on that, who controls that?

Mr Elston: There is usually a development contract entered into which actually assigns royalty rights depending on the amount of money put in among the parties, including the university if it happens to be a participant in the process. It may be, sometimes, that the research is actually building on a patent already owned by a private organization, or a private inventor even. Usually the agreement which is arranged -- I think it was always arranged through the Ontario Development Corp for the dispensing of funds -- also dealt with any returns made on the research development for product delivery.

The Chair: That is important because one of the big criticisms of research and development in Canada and Ontario is that most of the multinational headquarters claim that any developments made by their branch plants anywhere belong to them, and in fact, if it is made here, funded by Ontario in this case, we could be funding a branch plant doing research here and then pay royalties to the home office, which may not be in Canada.

Mr Elston: Oh, sure, and that was always a concern when we were dealing with these contracts, that we made sure that the research that went into the end product which was marketed showed some return, and we tried to build that into some of the contracts. I think probably at some stage, if you wanted to as a committee, you could probably go in and take a look at some of the contracts that were signed and see some of the provisions where we were afraid of a couple of things: One was the end point for royalty delivery, but also the sale, sometimes, by Canadian developers of technology in co-operation with the university sector -- sometimes those would be sold to a foreign owner or could be sold to a foreign owner. We were really worried about good technology being purchased with --

The Chair: Not developed here.

Mr Elston: Yes, and then ending up being sold through another area.

Mr Sutherland: If I may comment on Mr Elston's specific concerns, I do not think he should look at this recommendation being mutually exclusive. I think we all recognize that it is everyone's responsibility to participate in research and that this should not be seen as discouraging the private sector. I think everyone has to increase his role, and there seems to be some concern that the government increase its support and hopefully that provides leadership for the private sector.

The Chair: Have we finished discussion on this section?

Mr Christopherson: "The committee is concerned with the structural dimension of the present recession. Unlike previous recessions, the committee feels the present economic downturn must be addressed in a way that deals with the structural component.

"Therefore, the committee recommends that:

"The government should provide financial assistance for retraining of the workforce. Such training programs should be implemented in partnership with labour, business and government.

"At least as a short-term measure, government should concentrate on training and skills development programs to facilitate labour mobility, particularly into areas of projected economic growth.

"The government should ensure more active investment activities of pension funds in Canada, and move to discourage pension investment outside the country.

"Access to benefits and entitlements for workers that are conferred by statute should be certain and assured.

"The government should take steps to ensure that R and D incentives provided to industry are used for the purposes for which they were allocated.

"Incentives should be created for high technology to locate in Ontario.

"The government should reappraise the policy of deregulation in the financial services sector.

"The government should use the budget speech to signal its intention to reform the employer-based pension system."

Mrs Sullivan: On each one of these things there are just sort of bizarre approaches. "The government should provide financial assistance for retraining of the workforce." There already are substantial retraining programs that are offered with delivery through various places, frequently through the secondary schools, sometimes through community colleges, sometimes in the workplace, and in some cases with labour partnerships and so on. Do you mean additional financial assistance? If you do mean additional financial assistance, to what level?

I look down further, and I see a recommendation that, "The government should ensure more active investment activities of pension funds in Canada." I am not sure that is a budget decision, but on that side there ought to be at least a description of where you see that and how you see that funding being used. If you see this is a venture capital fund, what about fiduciary responsibilities? The move to discourage pension investment outside the country has not been discussed in committee and is not a provincial responsibility as far as I recall.

Mr Elston: What is this?

Mrs Sullivan: Limiting investments outside the country.

Mr Elston: I have more to say about that, but the regulation is basically done by the feds, and they have actually opened it up over the last couple of years by their move to allow pension funds in Canada to increase their percentage investment all the way up to 20% of their holdings.


Mrs Sullivan: Then as we go on, I wonder what evidence we heard or that you have that would lead you to make recommendation 5 relating to R and D incentives. Which R and D incentives are you talking about that are not being used for the purposes for which they were allocated? Once again, we had no discussion of deregulation in the financial services sector. Which particular policies are you referring to? We have had no discussions at all relating to the pension system. What kinds of reforms are you talking about? That is it for now.

Mr Elston: The pension item captured my imagination because of the difficulty in our telling the feds not to allow the money to go out of the country. They make the regulations about whether or not you are registerable for the purposes of deductions under your income tax returns, and it is they who sort of set some guidelines for the registerability, in the federal sense, for your pension plan. So we had some difficulties practically in telling our Treasurer to do something about that.

It is also a very difficult practical problem for somebody to say, "Invest all of your money in Ontario from pension funds," because the pension funds have become very large market consumers now in Ontario. We only have so many places in which to invest our funds. In fact the pension managers -- if not to a person, at least in large numbers -- had agitated to get permission to go outside of Ontario so that they could increase the possibility of better returns for a more varied portfolio.

They have a trustee relationship and they have a fiduciary duty to expand to the best degree they can the return on their pension funds. So be careful of that one.

It is practically probably an impossibility, a catch-22 for you, because you can say: "Invest in Ontario. Do not go outside and get a possibility of bigger returns." Then you have to deal with the issue of lower return on the capital that the trustees hold in the pension fund.

I have a problem with deregulation in the financial services sector. There is no indication that I have had that Ontario has moved to deregulate the financial services sector. There may be a blurring of traditional areas in which people participate in the financial services sector, ie, banks straying into insurance business, insurance into trust companies, and trust companies into other areas of service provision. But I will tell you that they have to file a whole bunch of forms about their solvency from a financial point of view. They have to do a whole series of things to get permission to do or transact certain types of business. They have to comply with the percentage of their asset holdings to keep registered to carry on business in Ontario.

So I am concerned that you are thinking something has happened, ie, that there is a laissez-faire type of format with respect to financial services in Ontario that does not exist. Blurring of roles has occurred, but deregulation has not, at least from my sense of deregulation, but I may misunderstand what you are getting at.

Mrs Sullivan: Do you know what you were thinking about, David?

Mr Christopherson: Yes, I know the discussion we had, and in order to give you a proper answer I would like a chance to consult with our caucus and actually check on some of the material that we used in arriving at that, before I respond so that I can give you a full answer.

Ms M. Ward: I just want to make some comments about some of the things you have mentioned. About the financial services, some of that, the deregulation, of course is federal. That does not mean you could not necessarily have provincial legislation replacing some of that. But I think there is a concern there among a lot of people about self-dealing between different arms of the same family of companies.

On the R and D there have been a lot of scams, both in provincial and federal research and development projects to encourage it, plans that may have started out with a very good intention but without sufficient controls. I cannot remember now. There was some fellow in Willowdale that was in the newspaper for years. I think that was a provincial one. There was also the supercomputer which was a federal one in Nova Scotia. So the good ideas sometimes get taken advantage of in a way that was not intended. That is our intent there.

The Chair: We had a private individual, Carlos Leite, make that recommendation because of what he saw within his own firm. I do not know how far you want to extrapolate that.

Mrs Sullivan: I would just be very cautious. I could certainly not support, on the basis of what we have heard before this committee in terms of our work, any indication that there is an abuse that is widespread enough to require this kind of a recommendation.

As I recall, most of the R and D incentives that have been introduced recently have been incentives for joint work between industry and universities through the centres of excellence and through the technology fund. I cannot tell you how offensive it is to see this kind of recommendation when there has been no testimony before us. We have not been investigating that kind of thing. This amounts to responding to a charge when the charge has not been made.

Ms M. Ward: I see that as a caution in setting up any new programs, that the caution be there that it not be subject to abuse.

Mr Elston: I have a point on the first paragraph, or the first bullet point rather, which says, "financial assistance for retraining of the workforce."

I want to just indicate for general interest that I know the former government had allocated a certain, I think it was a fairly large amount of money to the Ontario Federation of Labour to undertake particular studies to look at what could be done for workforce retraining and a whole bunch of other things. I know it was talked about and I am almost certain it occurred. I am not positive; I could stand corrected. But it is not like there has not been a fair bit of money put out there to study retraining. In fact, through the aegis of the Premier's Council on technology, whose membership, at least some -- I think Gordon Wilson was one of the members on that committee -- there was a lot of work done towards the issue of retraining of labour and actually some allocation of money there.

I do not want people to get the sense that nothing has been done and that there was not a lot of thought put into this whole issue of retraining and development of skilled labour before. In fact we still seem to think that government kicking in money at this stage to take a look at it is going to be of any substantial help in moving the issue forward. I think we are past that. It is time for us to determine just what the partnership arrangement ought to be. I understood from talking to Barbara and Gerry that there were at least a couple of people who were here earlier suggesting that business had a big role to play in helping to co-ordinate the retraining of labour, or training if not retraining labour, to address the needs of skilled workers in our current situation.

I am not sure what this says about that partnership that some had urged us to consider in the course of our hearings, and I see a lack of -- although you talk about a partnership with labour, business and government, it does not tell me anything new. It does not recommend anything particularly new, nor does it suggest we should build on where we are at.

Mr Phillips: I am on a slightly different one, but the number that struck me in the report was 120,000 jobs gone in 12 months.

Mr B. Ward: On a point of clarification, Mr Chairman, to perhaps address some of Mr Elston's concerns here --

Mr Phillips: I will wait for mine then.

The Chair: Go ahead.

Mr B. Ward: The concerns that you had with the first item -- we are not saying that the previous government did not implement skills training programs or provide financial assistance for those types of programs. But to be quite honest, I am parliamentary assistant to the Ministry of Skills Development, and in the short time that I have been in that capacity and have had opportunities to go out into the province and talk to the various organizations, I have not found there to be the great degree of co-operation between labour, business and government that there should be. We are saying that the government should provide assistance retraining at work, but such training programs should be implemented in partnership with labour, business and government. That is what we are trying to build from that.


Mr Elston: I am just telling you, though, the effort has been to try to attract a partnership. In our apprenticeship programs and other things, we were trying to push the realization that they should get together.

Mr B. Ward: Which is what the Premier's Council is all about.

Mr Elston: Yes, or you are just not going to end up with a real product. Unless we can key in on something that would help move the issue forward to address that problem in developing a partnership, we are not serving anything more than maybe ourselves; but we are not serving the interest of resolution of the problem. That is really all I was getting at.

Mr Phillips: Surely one of the major issues that is in the report -- I think 120,000 jobs have disappeared in the last 12 months and 110,000 were manufacturing jobs, and these proposals probably will do little over the short term to help that, training and all those sorts of things. I would have thought that we would want to have a recommendation in here about the fact that we are in a free trade agreement now with our major trading partner, 110,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared and there is a need for some fairly urgent activity over the next --

Mr Elston: At least two committee jobs have disappeared as well.

Mr Phillips: That is right. What per cent is that? That is like 20% gone.

The Chair: A free deal. It is called free trade.

Mr Phillips: I would have thought we might want to have a fairly strong recommendation on the need for activity, particularly in the manufacturing sector, to ensure that our manufacturing sector remains strong.

I do not what that is, because I guess you will use Algoma and de Havilland, I suspect, as kind of the lead horses, but there is no sense in us trying to say what the proposals will be but to say that we are quite concerned about the job losses and the need for urgent action over the next 12 months to stem that tide.

The Chair: The question really is I think, just as an observation from here, the short-term job losses are being addressed in construction and those sections, and maybe it is the intention here to try to get at setting a foundation for long-term growth as opposed to trying to make an immediate impact. I do not know. Am I reading --

Mr Christopherson: You were at the same caucus meeting I was.

The Chair: I had to leave before we got to that point, remember.

Mr Christopherson: We will take a look at it.

Mr Elston: I can speak more clearly. I was not at that meeting.

Mr Phillips: Like eyewitnesses to an accident.

Mr Christopherson: Everything is perspective.

Mr Elston: I do not mind just addressing these series of recommendations by saying, while we note the need for immediate action and in fact have recommended immediate steps for helping with the recession, we also note that there is a structural dimension to this recession, and then go on with this section. I just highlight the fact you have other immediate recession-fighting items in the construction section or wherever you are going to put them, but that is fine, just as long as we make it clear for whoever is reading it, that is all.

Mr Christopherson: That is great.

The Chair: We should take out that next page.

Mr Christopherson: That is a good segue in to a question. I am going over old turf but things may have changed somewhat. We had originally talked about the possibility of having some recommendations, as many as possible but some where we all agree, so there is unanimity to add some weight to it. That is why we are taking the time to try to talk things through as opposed to us saying, "Here is ours. You don't like them. You write your dissension," and we are done in 24 hours.

However, there was this concern that since not all members were even willing to participate, based on what they saw as overriding concerns, that seemed to be out the window. But learning my parliamentary procedure, if things maintain for the balance of the day, there is still that opportunity. It is those who are present and vote who decide what carries and what does not and how.

In light of that, is it correct for me to assume there are a number of areas and there is still the possibility that we will be finding unanimity, or are there other factors that will prevent that from happening and I should be aware of that? I ask that in the same light, Murray, that you asked the question earlier about how much time you should spend. Could I get some guidance from you on that as to where you are?

Mr Elston: At least from my own point of view -- Gerry and Barbara can speak on their own behalf -- there are some good parts to this thing.

Mr Christopherson: That was hard to say, was it not?

Mr Elston: I was going to say there was good work that went into it. There has been a lot of work that has gone into it and there are things in here with which I agree, in fact which I would be a proponent of When we get just to talk about the phase 2 support for the Social Assistance Review Committee and things that we will revisit, I am a proponent of that type of thing. I think I quite clearly have asked, as a member of the committee, even when this report comes out in its entirety, if there are things in there I do not agree with I will acknowledge it, but I will say there are some good things that have happened here.

I think I can be fairly precise for you right now, David, and say that I am concerned that it is not as specific as I would have preferred it to be, that I think there are too many of the recommendations and observations sections which have been proposed that are soft policy statements as opposed to recommendations from a financial point of view.

I think we are charged with a much tighter job than merely indicating a preference that government consider a particular policy line. That is I think what you would do if you were in the social policy discussions or in the resources development committee discussions or things like this. We are I think being asked by the Treasurer to advise him what a Legislative Assembly team of members from all parties think he should think about in terms of specifics to deal with the construction of his budget.

This is not a soft policy piece of work that we are doing, and I find this one too soft. There are lots of things in here that I agree with, mind you. That is why it is hard for me to respond. But I just do not think it is a tight enough piece of work.

Mr Christopherson: Let me ask a pointed question.

The Chair: Let Mr Phillips respond first.

Mr Phillips: One of our challenges, and we have talked about it a lot here, is the old Agenda for People. Frankly, the problem we are put in here is a lot of this, on or off the record, is kind of waffling and massaging, is the best term I can put. It puts us in a very difficult position because, on the one hand, you ran on this basis and defeated us, and then -- as I say, I think I can take at least 11 of the 13 recommendations and indicate here where there is either some or significant backing off.

So we are put in the position of endorsing the government backing off on its promises. We are in almost a no-win situation. I do not know how normally one handles it because, as Murray said, there is a bunch of stuff in here that we are very much in agreement with. I am very much in agreement with. The problem is it is going to be challenging once we see the whole thing to say, that paragraph, yes, that paragraph, no, that word, yes, that word, no. We are put in a very challenging position, particularly when a lot of the recommendations -- and I know what maybe your objective is -- are not the home runs or the touchdowns.

The Chair: I see my role here as trying to bring together the best possible report for the Treasurer. I know the deep angst that you have about An Agenda for People. I wonder at this point, though, if we were to turn around and recommend everything in An Agenda for People to Floyd and say, "Here, this is what we want you to do," whether in fact we would be really doing our job in the sense that we have to take into account what is going on and I think we have to be real about it, be realistic. I will leave it at that. I hear what Gerry is saying. I am just throwing that out.


Mr Elston: I can understand where you are coming from. People who construct budgets have to be realistic, and although Mr Nixon, when he was doing this business, thought he was being realistic, he took an awful beating from people, and our former Premier took an awful lot of beatings from individuals who said, "You said you would fund this and you have not funded this to this extent."

Just understand that realistic assessment of options will lead some people to say that you -- in our case, they said that our Premier lied and that remains with us. While you want to be realistic, some people also want you to address the issues in An Agenda for People, for instance, around the 60% funding. That is a big issue because it hits about three or four different sectors of our public:

1. The property taxpayers who believe that they are totally under siege and almost under water, as far as it goes, with respect to their ability to pay property taxes.

2. The elementary and secondary teaching professionals who believe that there has not been enough emphasis on funding appropriately the levels of education.

3. The trustees who believe that they have been put in a no-win situation of introducing provincial programs while having to tax or at least levy against the assessment rolls taxes for the payment of that.

4. The general sort of administrators, if I can describe them as that, at both the county board level and the county council or regional areas who have to levy the taxes and get the kicks on those.

You can see how that item in An Agenda for People is crucial in some ways to the way those people think the world will turn for them. In fact, it speaks to the issue of whether or not there is going to be a new partnership arrangement between government, school boards and municipalities.

That is why if you back away from that, it would appear that you are not going to be entering the new partnerships you want to be in and you are not going to be entering a new era of property tax assessment or property tax study which would say the property taxes should not pay as much for education. That is why we are in the dilemma of not having a very clear recommendation on that 60%, or why we are having a problem with respect to the clear recommendation coming from us on funding for phase 2 of SARC.

The Chair: Can we move to the final recommendations, having said that, and try to revisit some of these things and have some completion one way or the other?

Mr Christopherson: Yes. Again, I do not want belabour this, Mr Chair, but I need to be comfortable. I fully respect and appreciate your role. It was not that long ago that our caucus was doing exactly that and became very good at it obviously. I was not --

Mr Elston: We are prepared to allow you some retraining time, if you wish it.

The Chair: At least five years.

Mr Christopherson: I appreciate that. In recognizing that reality, I am in no way suggesting it is wrong or inappropriate. By the same token, we do not want to spend a whole lot of time this afternoon on things that are spinning wheels, if you will. We have looked at other reports, so we also have a sense that we want to be different, we have made that commitment. But you still research what has been done and how and the essence of it, and I think it needs to be said.

I am not going to get into a long defence, but we are not that far off, and I think we have made some improvements in terms of what the majority of this committee is prepared to say to a Treasurer when you are in a majority government. We are comfortable with that. Both of us understand the roles and what is happening.

We did note that in at least one of the reports, and this is something that impressed us when we did our research, there were some recommendations where there were asterisks and it said "denotes unanimous support." In the case of SARC I think that it was one more piece in the mounting lobby. Where that can happen, that is what we were looking at. But if that is not in your agenda, then I think we need to be apprised of that. Again, it could all change with the entrance of one member who is not prepared to accept unanimity on anything.

Mr Elston: We are never, as you rightly identified for everybody's attention yesterday, going to have unanimous consent because two of the members -- the Conservative caucus is not attending these meetings, so we can never put a unanimous consent to it.

Mr Christopherson: Could I question on that? I am asking this of anybody that can help me, including Mr Decker, the clerk.

When you vote on it, if we moved a motion that all of our recommendations be adopted as last presented, or words to that effect, and it carried, that would then become the committee report, right? Then there would be the dissenting report and it would be very clear.

If, however, we had agreement on a number of areas between us that we were prepared to identify, we could move a motion that accommodated that. Is it not what that vote is and how it carries that dictates what the report would look like, or -- and I am being very sincere -- is the tradition and custom of this place that you would not do that to a third party when it is a three-party system? I do not know. I am asking.

Mr Elston: No, I think that you could say that members attending agreed that this section should be included, but they will make the point quite rightly that they decided not to be here because they objected, for whatever reason they objected, and that no part of this majority report should be construed to have been a unanimous deliberation. If they are not attending and they do not intend to vote, then that is their problem. The difficulty is that you cannot go ahead, though, and still --

Mr Christopherson: I think that probably helps us in terms of understanding what the rest of the afternoon may or may not look like. That does not change our sincerity or our willingness, but it does recognize an end result that perhaps is less than our ideal.

Good. That is it then, Mr Chair. That entire report in terms of the areas that we have just talked about now, we are prepared to caucus on and give a response to. What I would like to do now is perhaps take us right back to the beginning for part I and walk through areas where we have made some changes and accommodated some of the concerns raised by our friends on the other side.

Mr Phillips: Maybe before we do that, I had some questions yesterday on some things, and I would not mind clarification on them if I could.

On page 22 -- I am looking at revision number 2, I suppose it might be the same in revision number 1. I do not know -- at the top of the page: "55% of Ontario's health care budget is spent on hospitals."

Ms Anderson: The question about 55% of Ontario's health care budget, the numbers that come from the Ministry of Health are actually not -- it is 55% on institutional care, not just hospitals. It is hospitals and psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes rather than just hospitals on their own.

Mr Phillips: When people think of that, they think of hospitals, and I think it is more like 43% or 44%, something like that.

Ms Anderson: We could just put that 55% is spent on institutional, or we can get the figure.

Mr Elston: Why do you not just mention that 55% is spent on hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes? Everybody knows what that means.

Ms Anderson: Yes, it can just be expanded to what it is.

Mr Elston: Sure.

Mr Phillips: The next one is the general agreement among presenters. I went back over all that and I honestly could not find any presenter who said that the health care system did not require a greater portion of the provincial budget.

Ms Anderson: The Ontario Nurses' Association, I think, said that, but you are not likely to find any of the others.

Mr Phillips: I do not think so. I think the ONA said the hospitals did not need any more. Honestly, I could not find any and I know the ministry never said that. I am not sure we have yet got the estimates they promised to send us. Have the Ministry of Health estimates arrived yet?

The Chair: No.

Mr Phillips: I went back through all the presentations.

The Chair: I could see if they are coming in today.

Mr Phillips: They may be, yes. There is half an hour to go.

The Chair: Do we want to discuss that point now?


Mr Phillips: My problem is that I listened carefully to the Ontario Hospital Association, the Ontario Nurses' Association, the minister, the public health people and the Social Assistance Review Committee people, and I do not remember any of them saying that.

Ms Anderson: What the ONA said was that this union is on record for the last five years that it does not believe its industry is underfunded.

Mr Phillips: The hospitals.

Ms Anderson: And if one third of the public purse in any given industry is not adequate, there is something wrong. In effect, they were saying this industry should not be funded to a larger dollar degree. I guess that is the whole health care industry.

Mr Phillips: I do not think the evidence supports that. That is all.

The Chair: Is there some consensus here that maybe we should change that and say that "the ONA presentation said the health care system does not require a greater proportion of money" and just leave it at that, or do you want to take it out?

Mr Phillips: I would suggest it come out, because later on, on page 24, it says, "The ONA are seeking a greater share of the hospital budget and presented evidence" -- I think they expressed the view that there is sufficient money in the budget. I am just cautious. I do not remember the evidence being presented that there was.

Mr Elston: Actually, quite honestly, I think they were using this forum as a pre-negotiating forum as much as anything else, to try to prevent the hospital association from coming to the table and saying, "Well you know, we don't have the funding from the province so we can't honour a big request for settlement." I think we have to allow ourselves the fact that that presenter had more on her mind than just trying to help us out with pre-budget deliberations for the Treasury.

Mr Phillips: They may very well be right, but I would hate for somebody to come to me and say, "What was that evidence?" I think she expressed a strong view. As I say, they may very well be right.

The Chair: Let me go back. What is the will of the committee on page 23 about, "There was a general agreement among presenters that the health care system did not require a greater proportion of the provincial budget"? Do we change it to the ONA, do we leave it in, or do we take it out?

Ms Anderson: The whole paragraph?

The Chair: No, just that line, because the next one says "The ministry" -- there is no discussion on that.

Mr Christopherson: We have not had a chance to respond to these. I think you will find that we were going to suggest that that be attributed, if that is what someone said, as opposed to the committee saying it, that sentence. To say there was general agreement that there is no more money at all needed in the health care system, I do not know that that is the position of this committee. If it was said, as we have been through that argument, it should be attributed, if it is an important opinion. But I certainly do not think this committee is making that blanket statement that there should be no more money in the health care system.

The Chair: The way it stands now, we are.

Mr Christopherson: I know. That is why I am raising the concern that we have with letting that stand.

Mr Elston: Or else you can just say "there was opinion expressed that," if you want to do it that way, or you could just say "the ONA presenters suggested that."

Mr Christopherson: If we attribute it, we are fine, but it is not a committee position, as far as we are concerned.

Mr Hansen: And it was not a general agreement.

Mr Elston: It was one view. If you attribute it, if you just say the ONA position was that no new money was needed in the hospital sector, you are free to go.

The Chair: Okay. Are we happy with that line now? Mr Phillips, you were making comment on page 24. With the change on page 23 and the wording change on page 24 --

Mr Phillips: My point was that I listened carefully to the brief, and they may very well be right but I did not see any evidence. I would think it should be, "The ONA are seeking a greater share of the hospital budget and expressed the view that there would be sufficient moneys in the budget to meet their demands."

The Chair: Do we have any problems with changing "presented evidence" to "expressed the view"?

Mr Christopherson: They did not bring evidence, so we do not want to want to --

The Chair: Should we go to that last page of recommendations, the ones that were just handed out now that I have lost?

Mr Christopherson: I have jumped us ahead. We did not do part III, did we? There was a page and a half to do. My apologies, Mr Chair. That document still needs to be circulated.

The Chair: Why do we not just read that page and a quarter and come back to it in two minutes. Just read through it, all of it, and then we will come back.

Mr Christopherson: "The committee is very concerned with the severity of the current economic recession and its impact on workers, families, and businesses in the province. High unemployment rates, household debt burdens and personal bankruptcies are hurting many Ontarians. At the same time, extremely high interest rates and exchange rates, along with sagging consumer confidence, are affecting business investment and corporate profits. Finally, the committee would like to highlight the current budget deficit, which stands at $2.5 billion.

"Therefore, the committee recommends that:

"The provincial budget should reflect the current state of the economy, and, in particular, the present recession."

Mr Elston: Does that mean the budget should look anaemic or what? What does that mean? Can you tell me?

Mr Christopherson: If you take a look at where it is flowing from, "Current State of Affairs," I believe, is the subheading of the report text that this is flowing from. We wanted to reflect on it. We wanted to make a comment. We did not want to ignore it. We thought this was consistent with positions that have been taken in other economic times in terms of setting the stage, setting a tone. I am referring, I think, to the 1989 or 1990, when there were better times but concern about expenditures. We have a different time now and different concerns. We did not want to be motherhood about it, but we said that not to put anything here may be inappropriate. We think this sets the stage appropriately early in the draft, and that is what it is meant to do. I am not suggesting to you that it is meant to do anything more than that, but we felt that should be done.

Mr Elston: If you are going to make a recommendation, what you probably mean here, I suspect, is that the provincial budget should set forth an aggressive plan for recovering the Ontario economy from recession, or something more specific. Maybe "aggressive" is the wrong word, but do you not want a recession-fighting budget, basically? This does not tell me anything. It "should reflect the current state of the economy." What the devil does that mean? If I happen to be a businessman in downtown Kincardine, reflecting the current state of the economy means that I am probably cutting back my inventory, I have probably laid off some of my staff, I have probably taken a personal cut in pay. Does that mean we want the budget to be cut back in spending size so that we can reduce taxes? What does it portray for other people?


Mr Christopherson: Okay, fair comment.

Mr Elston: I think you really do mean you want this budget to be a recession-fighting document or recession-addressing document.

Mr Christopherson: Basically, what we are saying here is that we are in a recession, we have budget deficits that we are all trying to grapple with, and that that has to be considered. We are not in a time of boom. It is not a time of trying to do everything in one shot. I realize that could be partisan, but we happen to believe that no matter how you look at it, you are going to come to that conclusion. As opposed to a year in the past when the previous government had felt that deficit-cutting and a balanced budget was the priority and said that, if you looked at it at the time, I am sure it looked rather motherhood and did not really say anything when you were in the time. If you go back to the document even now, with changed times, the phrase makes a great deal of sense. It sets the tone. It sets the environment in which the budget was considered. If this is problematic or if there is a way you can improve on it, we are very flexible. We just felt that to say nothing was inappropriate.

Mr Elston: If I might respond just for a second, it is a different exercise, though, to tell the Treasurer that he ought not to have a deficit, which was really the point made by the previous committee's report, I think. It meant he could still spend if he wanted, but every time he spent he should also be sure he had the revenue to deal with it one way or another; either he cut other programs or he raised taxes. The committee knew full well, when it wanted to achieve certain things in its budget recommendations, it was to be seen in all efforts to encompass a balanced budget. That is a pretty definite index.

Here, though, it is not precise enough to tell me what it says. Does it say you do not want the deficit too high? Does it say you want the deficit higher because it is a recession? Do you say you want the budget to do some economy priming? I think you are being too cute, David, in the sense that you are being too nice with the words or too fine with the words. You should just say what you mean. I think it is that you want this budget to reflect the need for the government to become involved in easing the effects of the recession on the economy. That may be even a little more precise. Maybe that is even not bad wording, if you want to use it.

The Chair: How do we like that wording?

Mr Christopherson: Can I hear it again?

Mr Elston: "The provincial budget should be formulated to ease the effects of the recession on the economy." I am not even telling you to eliminate the recession, just easing the effects of the recession on the economy, if you want. It is still pretty general, but I think that gives you the framework.

Mr Christopherson: Let us take a look at it. It should not be a point of contention. I think it is just a question of reflecting what needs to be said.

Mr Elston: Remember, as much as it is being printed for the Treasurer, we are also printing this for other consumers of this document, interested observers.

Mr Christopherson: We took to heart what you said the other day about a couple of clauses, where it was being looked at south of the border and other investment areas. That is part of the responsible aspect of what we are trying to inject into this.

Mr Elston: All I want to advise you is that for us, having been involved in the discussion, this may say quite a lot. For somebody who has never heard one piece of evidence or heard any of the back-and-forth, to-and-froing, this does not mean a lot. Do you see what I mean?

Mr Christopherson: Yes, your point is well made. We will gladly take a look at it.

Next: "The committee is of the opinion that, while a number of factors have led to the current economic downturn, the policies of the federal government are a significant cause of the homegrown recession. The committee wishes to draw attention to the tight monetary policies of the government of Canada, not for the purpose of pointing fingers, but to foster an understanding that continuing this course will lead to further economic difficulties.

"The committee, therefore, recommends that:

"The provincial government should call on the federal government to ease its tight monetary policies, which will, in turn, assist the economic recovery."

Next: "The committee is encouraged by the number of presenters that have indicated the likely improvement in economic performance during the second half of 1991. However, lower interest rates and an easing of monetary policy is a significant assumption in all forecasts. In addition, the Gulf war remains an uncertainty in its effect on the economy."

I do not believe we had a recommendation; there was just that statement, that observation.

Last, on that page: "The committee applauds the initiative taken by the previous as well as the current provincial government to consult with native peoples on a variety of issues. The process of consultation has been timely and, more importantly, productive.

"Thus, the committee recommends that:

"The provincial government should continue to consult and negotiate with native peoples with the belief that native peoples have legitimate grievances that must be addressed, such as land claims, education, economic development and social issues."

Mr Elston: I agree with all that, but what does that do for us as a budgetary document? If we were dealing with a social policy committee report, that is a good conclusion, and I thank you for mentioning us as well. It would even be good if we were doing a resources development study of the management of forests or commercial fisheries or things like that, but what does this tell the Treasurer? He does not directly consult. He may in the end, when they get close to coming up with settlements, provide some financial assistance, but I am not sure this tells him anything as a pre-budget document.

Mrs Sullivan: I remember looking at the Union of Ontario Indians document. I think their requests added up to about $79 million, none of which is addressed here. One of the major portions of those requests related to housing initiatives that were costed. There were several other issues; all of them were costed, relating to social programs and so on. I just do not think this is advice to the Treasurer relating to the document that was presented here.

Mr Christopherson: We take what you say very seriously. I think we were crafting this on the document, as well as in light of some of the announcements that were made before the House recessed, where there was a fair bit of movement and, I believe, some financial recognitions. The reason we put in the acknowledgement to the previous government was that the minister did that, and rightly so. What we wanted to say was that the important starts had been taken, the steps in the right direction. We think we have continued on that and we want to build on it, and that is what we are trying to reflect.

Mr Elston: Just to change it very slightly, perhaps we should say, "The committee recommends that the Treasurer make financial provision in the budget to allow the continuation of consultation and negotiation with Ontario's native community." If you want to do it in that sense, I am happy. That leaves him the whole menu from which to choose in terms of the requests of the Union of Ontario Indians paper. He can choose, and we can just stimulate his interest in their proposals. Of course, he may also have proposals from other organizations of the native community. I would be prepared to support something like that.

Mr Christopherson: I do not think we would have a problem. Anne, could you read back how you understood that?

Ms Anderson: "The Treasurer should make financial provision in the budget to allow continuation of consultation and negotiation with native peoples, with the belief that native peoples have legitimate grievances that must be addressed, such as land claims, education, economic development and social issues."

Mr Christopherson: We are fine with that.

That, as they say, is that. That is once through. Good thing we have another week and a half.

Mr B. Ward: Shall we give them parts IV to X?

Mr Christopherson: At this stage, before we begin now going back to the first paper with any revisions that we are prepared to support ourselves, does that constitute -- we had talked earlier about your recommendations and you had said that your comments throughout would constitute those positions. Do I gather then that we have basically your menu, if you will, and that on those things that we do not agree on, you are going to more than likely outline a position in a dissenting report, as of course will the Tories?


Mr Elston: I think that is partly it, David. Some of our comments, as I have indicated earlier, would have been around particular programs, had they been recommended, for instance, in the construction sector, or we may have particular comments to make about the 60% educational funding issue; types of things like that. So I think you can anticipate what we might say in some of those areas.

Mr Christopherson: Yes.

Mr Elston: But for a specific program, because we never really have revisited those construction items yet, we have not got your -- at least I have not read your revised set of recommendations. You have most of our comments. We may as well end up having to speak more specifically to what is not included in the report, as much as there are comments to be made about what is in the report.

Mr Christopherson: That is fine. Quite frankly, with all of us new, I do not mind acknowledging once again that we are walking every step -- every day is brand new and I am sure next year will be different. We still do not see fully what the end product is until it actually happens and that is just life.

Mr Phillips: Kimble has a draft of our report there.

Interjection: The Agenda for People?

Mr Phillips: No.

Mr Christopherson: Typical negative opposition document.

Mr Elston: Could I just raise an item?

The Chair: Could we focus again? Mr Elston has a question.

Mr Elston: Actually, I have revision 1, but I am sure it must be close to page 17 in revision 2 as well. There is a section right at the end of the agricultural section, the part that has been left unslashed, "Some sectors of the industry under the supply management system particularly the dairy and egg sectors are experiencing difficulty as consumers become more health conscious." For me, coming from rural Ontario, that "as consumers become more health conscious," although there may be issues around consumption of cholesterol and fatty foods and things like that, I feel that says something I do not want the committee to lend credence to, because I think there is a lot of misinformation about how healthy it is to consume red meats or egg products or milk. It depends how active a person is, how his body deals with certain consumption. I would like that to be changed in the sense --


Mr Elston: I do not know what the best way is. I think there is a sense that consumers --

Mr Hansen: I would say no problem; take it out.

Mr Elston: Take it out?

Mr Hansen: Because it has been a problem, I can tell


Mr Elston: You could even leave something in, "as consumers change food consumption habits," if you want.

Mr Hansen: So it would say what?

Mr Elston: It would read, "Some sectors of the industry...experiencing difficulties as consumers change food consumption habits," because there has been a real decrease in the consumption of red meats and an increase in fish and poultry consumption.

The Chair: Milk with lower butterfat.

Mr Elston: Yes, I am prepared to do that.

Mr Christopherson: We are fine with that.

Mr Hansen: I was thinking more of pesticides and that.

Mr Elston: No, that is another part of the issue.

Mrs Sullivan: That is also another issue, with the organic stuff

Mr Elston: But when they talk about dairy and eggs, it really means cholesterol and butterfat and things like that, saturated fats.

The Chair: In the last three weeks we have not had the most mobile of lifestyles here, have we?

Mr Christopherson: We also have to make sure that we are comfortable -- we have not had a chance to go through all of this yet, even just to quickly say we have done revision 2 page by page, so again it adds more stress to our limited time.

Mr B. Ward: Does anybody have any concerns with it?

Mr Christopherson: We have not actually given it final approval with everybody.

The Chair: We may have a problem with the steering committee taking a final look at this because it says that all members of the steering committee must be present, and given that we are not sure where the Conservatives will stand on that --

Mr Elston: It is okay.

Mr Christopherson: Sorry; I want to be aware of this. Should that be happening today?

The Chair: No. What was being suggested is that given the limitations of time and other commitments for other people, we are essentially at a point where we may not make it and that we will not look at the final document in its final form, drafted, written and so on, as a committee. The suggestion was being made that the steering committee should look at it, and then the suggestion was made also that it would have to be unanimous that the steering committee looked at it, and we are not sure we can get --

Mr Elston: May I just offer this advice then. I know that you have only been authorized to sit these particular days, but I think by consent of the House leaders you can get another day or so to sit. I am quite prepared to go both to Shelley Martel and Ernie Eves to get another day just to look at the final product, if that would be within everybody's --

Mr B. Ward: To put a final package together.

Mr Elston: If we are not going to get the final draft here and if we can just put everything together and then sit a day on the final product, that would seem to me to help out.


Mr Elston: No.

Mr Hansen: It is just scheduling.

Mr Christopherson: Let me just say that we are not opposed to the concept obviously, but --

Mr Elston: You are not going to get a final product today, now.

Mr Christopherson: Okay, but let's kick it around a bit and see where we are. There is a scheduling problem, and I could see where in order to maintain numbers there could be some real problems finding agreement. We still have a third party to consider which does not appear to be too gung ho for the process at this stage. That could be very problematic, and I would not want to walk from here thinking that will be the resolve and have it stopped.

The other thing I would say is that what we have to lose right now are areas where we can find agreement. We can still complete the work. We know what our position is. It was merely a question of -- not merely, but it was in terms of process merely a matter of our trying to find areas of common agreement and that is through give and take and discussion. That would take the time, but the process itself for us to be finished with our position and you to be finished with yours and the Tories theirs can still be accommodated in this time frame. Having said that, I am not sure where that leaves us.

Mr Phillips: I think, realistically, that we have raised issues as we have gone through here, and it will not be as much what we agree with that is in the report; it is what is not in the report. I think in many sections we have said: "This is backing off on your commitments. This is backing off on your commitments." So, realistically, I think there are enough things not in here already that we are going to have to comment on, so we are going to have to write up some kind of a report on this thing.

Second, I think we are going to need some time to go over what things we can agree on because it is, as I repeat myself, going to be challenging for us not necessarily to agree with some things in here, but to enumerate each case where you are not.

I think we are probably best to somehow or other figure out a way to get the thing all finalized as much as we can and give ourselves a little bit of time to look at it. Mr Decker may be helpful to us as to how these things normally finalize when they are left at this stage.

Mr Elston: The committee has to make a request if it is needed.

Mr Christopherson: Let me raise a point to see what this does to the discussion. We have had an opportunity now, other than the revision 2 to the draft, but in terms of this one -- other than this, okay, everything else in terms of our recommendations, we have all been through once completely right now and we have had a chance to consider everything you have had to say, save the responses we have heard the last hour and a half. We have not had a chance to caucus on that.

Mr Elston: Okay.

Mr Christopherson: But for the rest of it, while we are still flexible, let's be realistic. We have heard what you had to say. We have made some changes where we are comfortable with that, and I would suspect that we are not too far away from what our final position is, recognizing that in many areas, maybe most, you still are not going to be comfortable and you will still want to dissent. That is fine. We respect that. With that in mind, I do not know how crucial that makes it. I am just worried that if we walk away from here and say, "Okay, there will be another meeting and that will solve things," and then we do not get another meeting, where are we? We have walked away not completing the work we could do.


Mr Elston: So are you suggesting then, David, that we just consider basically the reworking of the part I recommendations as your final position on those items we discussed, and that the final report really just catalogue those plus whatever you decide with respect to just the last hour's discussion.

The Chair: Here is what we could do. I do not know how much time people have. What is the constraint with time? How many people have to leave now?

Mr Elston: I have a briefing but I am prepared to --

The Chair: If we stayed half an hour, could we go through the recommendations that are in revision 2 so we nail down the recommendations, and could we then send the document --

Mr Elston: Off to be printed.

The Chair: -- off with Anne to be written, circulated and with comments to be brought back and then -- no.

Mr Elston: No, you cannot, because Anne quite frankly cannot go away and redraft it and have it done any earlier, I presume, than 6:30 or 7 or whatever for us it takes tonight, unless we are all going to stay here and sit tonight because we are not authorized to sit longer than today.

The Chair: That is right.

Interjection: We cannot sit tomorrow?

Mr Elston: We could sit tomorrow?

Mr Hansen: No, we cannot. We cannot sit tomorrow.

The Chair: Everybody is in his constituency office. We have three Fridays that were allocated in the budget allocations that we did not use, plus half a Monday morning which we did not use that was in the budget allocation for us, and so if the House leaders were to meet and agree that one day late next week the whole committee could come back and have the final positions solidified --

Mr B. Ward: Let me make a suggestion. I can stay till five, then I really have to go. Is it possible that we could break for 15 minutes until a quarter after four? Our caucus can meet and finalize our recommendations as much as possible, present them back and see where we are and hopefully wrap it up if we can.

Mr Elston: This is what I heard David saying, that this has been a refinement of their suggestions and that while there may be -- in fact I hope there are a couple of word changes here just in terms of expressing; for instance, it talks about, "The government of Ontario should re-examine its funding on settlement and language training services with an attempt at enhancing service," which is not quite, I think, what you want to do. With minor word crafting you can clean this up and basically this is the final position of government caucus members, and it really represents to them the final report position. We have done the revision 2 and really what is being suggested is that today we finish off by saying that the part I revision 9 am 7 February edition is the final position of the caucus in those sections.

Mr Christopherson: The part I is just that; it is Part I. There are two other documents, okay. The second one is completed. Again, it was done quickly. We have been meeting around the clock trying to get this stuff back to you and meet the commitments we made in terms of process. I would ask the Chair to consult with the clerk and the researcher how we accommodate some of those minor word changes that need to be done and how we get that authorization.

Aside from that, the two things we would have to do today to give full effect to the process is to finalize revision 2, and also, in fairness, I really would like a chance to caucus with my colleagues on the suggestions you have made over the last hour and a half. There were some very good points there. That way we could come back and enter what our position is there. As my colleague, Mr Ward, has said, we can do both of those things now as a caucus, come back, raise the concerns and then the only loose end, if you will, is as you have pointed out, Murray, is how do we accommodate that? What mechanism can be in place so that we do not get something we are locked into just because we did not have time to back and give effect to a change that is needed.

Mr Elston: I am correct, am I not, when you said that your part I revisions of 7 February 9 am are basically your final position in terms of --

Mr Christopherson: What we lose by not talking is the fact that -- you have been very, very good at coming up with language that has helped us close some gaps. I mean that sincerely. We lose that opportunity where if you felt we made some move, then a little more language change would have us come closer, but we lose that.

Mr Elston: Okay.

Mr Christopherson: Okay. So we are still flexible to that degree, but having lost that we do not lose the whole process. Yes, the essence of what you are saying is true.

Going back to the fact that there is not going to unanimity, you may just want to address these things in your dissent.

Mr Elston: Sure.

The Chair: Let us break till about 20 after and reconvene and do what we can till 5 o'clock and send it out. Okay. There will be a temporary recess for 15 minutes.

The committee recessed at 1605.


The Chair: Okay. We have about half an hour. Perhaps we could facilitate this by moving through very quickly. Are you prepared to take the lead?

Mr Christopherson: Yes, I am, Mr Chair. Back to page 3 of part II.

The Chair: Wait a minute. Could I offer a suggestion here? We have three phases. We have I, II and III, correct? If I said that we had dealt with part I --

Mr Christopherson: Let me come back to that. This makes it nice and neat and consistent; then, with your indulgence --

The Chair: I will trust you on this, Mr Christopherson.

Mr Christopherson: It will be well placed, I assure you.

Page 3: We had already agreed, at the committee level, on the issue of the wording on "labelled" and also the "accessibility controls" question in the middle of page 3. My records show that we had actually crafted language that we had all accepted. There was a further concern raised on the item of the fourth point down, "The province should persuade the federal government to eliminate the 3% administration fee on Canada student loans." We stand behind that. We are quite comfortable with that.

Mrs Sullivan: Just a second. Are you saying you are staying with all your wording on that section?

Mr Christopherson: The first one we had already agreed.

Mrs Sullivan: That was Murray Elston's suggestion.

Mr Christopherson: Right. That had been done. Further, there were suggestions and discussion. I believe Mr Sutherland was speaking on our behalf, and we had agreed to the language there. I think actually what we did was just eliminate the last word, but there was agreement there.

Mrs Sullivan: Are we changing OSAP at all?

Mr Christopherson: No. In fact, everything else stays the same.

Mrs Sullivan: You are not changing the research?

Mr Christopherson: No. The balance is the same. Next page.

Mr Phillips: I think I asked whether you people were going to consider the recommendations of both the colleges and universities on funding.

Mr Christopherson: The caucus felt it was implied, and clearly, that anything that did not specifically say "universities" only, that the request on funding and other initiatives applied to both. In that light we are comfortable with what is here.

Mr Phillips: Which of these recommendations talks about the funding, where the universities requested that they have their university rejuvenation plan. Which of these recommendations refers to that? We are all on the same page, are we not? Page 3, "Committee Observations and Recommendations -- Page 14."

Mr Sutherland: To be quite honest, there are no specific recommendations there on actual amounts of funding, but we certainly believe that the preamble of observations and the other comments that have been made throughout the report that would come back and deal with college-university issues should be taken into consideration by the Treasurer in dealing with specific funding.

Mr Phillips: What did you just say there? That you are recommending that the Treasurer should take into consideration the specific funding proposals?

Mr Sutherland: No. We are saying there are no recommendations on specific amounts of funding as put forward in the proposals, but if you look at the observations, we stress the need to have this issue addressed and are hoping that the Treasurer will address it satisfactorily from our recommendations.

Mr Phillips: From your observations or recommendations?

Mr Sutherland: From both.

Mr Elston: Can I just say something I said before? This is our work and we understand all the short forms and the key words and signals and all that. This is not everybody's work, and it will not be read as everybody's work. If you want them to consider the funding requests of the universities, say it, just clear language, "Please consider this" or "Please consider that." I am not playing games. I am just saying that people will read this and say: "What in the world are these people doing? They could have done this without talking to anybody." Why do you not just say, "Consider the request of" --

Mr Sutherland: If you look at the second sentence, though, "The economic and human costs of an inadequate system of post-secondary education are becoming apparent in our society," that is a pretty blunt statement.

Mr Elston: It does not say anything.

Mr Sutherland: It does. It says there is a problem.

Mrs Sullivan: You do not say, "Put the money into the budget," and how much money you want.


Mr Elston: We take that second step. Just say you want him to consider it. I think he can say that if we do not have a good system of post-secondary education its human costs are evident, or something. Why do we not just be blunt and say, "Consider the request for funding," or not say it. But let's not be cute and subtle with the words, because it does not do the job.

Mr Christopherson: We are at the point where there is a significant difference of opinion as to what is accomplished and what is not accomplished, and I think we just need to respect each other's rights. I think we know what we will see. You have every right to raise your concerns but I think there is a point where we need to recognize that we are not going to go any further. Everybody has had a chance to raise their concerns. I am getting the signals clearly from my caucus that nothing has changed and that we are still very comfortable with the language we have here. You have, of course, your vehicle for saying something different.

The next page: The change we would like to see is in the first point. Between the words "provide" and "financial" we have put in "enhanced."

Mr B. Ward: "The government should provide enhanced financial assistance for retraining."

Mr Christopherson: We heard everything you had to say and that is the change the caucus is comfortable with.

The fourth-to-last point on the same page: The points were well taken and we would like to just remove it.

The next one is the second-to-last point. We would like to propose: "The government should undertake a comprehensive review of the regulations of the financial services sector." In saying that, I realize that that still does not meet all the points Mr Elston raised, but we thought you did make some good points and this is the change we would like to make in light of that, again, with all due respect to your right to disagree if that is not clearly what you would like to see.

Mr Phillips: Just let me state again that I think one of the issues over the next 12 months is going to be the job losses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The government has two of them right there, de Havilland and Algoma, and then right in behind a whole bunch of others. I think this will be a major deficiency in the report. That is the point I raised earlier and you said your group would consider it. I guess you have considered it. "We reserve the right," and all that sort of stuff, but --

Mr Christopherson: These are our recommendations. Of course, what ultimately matters is the budget and that is what the government will stand behind, but this is what we are comfortable recommending and feel strongly about. If you disagree, which I am sure you do --

The Chair: That is not to say that a lot of these other issues are not going to be dealt with. Algoma is sitting on the Premier's table as his priority issue. By the time this hits the Treasurer's desk, that issue --

Mr Phillips: I understand, Mr Chairman. It is just, as I said, these recommendations, by most accounts, will take some considerable period of time to have an impact in the marketplace, and kind of a full-court press on jobs may have been appreciated.

Mr Christopherson: Again, it is important to say that if it is not here it does not mean we do not think it is important. It is a question of whether we think it is appropriate here in the report and whether it has been addressed in another way. That is where it is.

To the revision, the draft report, we do not have many problems. The researchers have consistently done an excellent job. A minor point -- it is actually my fault; I should have raised it in an earlier draft but I neglected to. On page --

The Chair: Excuse me. Just one point: The researcher is suggesting that we move a paragraph on housing. Maybe you had better deal with this, because it is your suggestion.

Ms Anderson: There seems to be some duplication in the text about housing in the construction sector and that section on the housing. I was going to suggest that the paragraph which is on page 11 could start off saying, "There are a variety of steps that could be taken to improve the supply of affordable housing, such as," and then there is the list of the various things we have just heard. It could be moved to the housing section rather than being in the construction section. That leaves the construction one talking more about the construction end of things.

Mr Christopherson: I do not think that is a problem.

Ms Anderson: It would be the paragraph at the top of page 11, with a little introductory bit saying something like, "There a variety of steps that could be taken to improve the supply of affordable housing," and then continue with that paragraph, "such as," and put that in the housing section.

Ms M. Ward: Starting from where?

Ms Anderson: If you go to the bottom of page 1

Ms M. Ward: "Given the positive economic --

Ms Anderson: Cross out "This partnership," and then take the rest of that paragraph with a revised, restructured phrase and put it in the housing section, because it refers very specifically to things that have to do with affordable housing.

Ms M. Ward: The early part of the paragraph and the paragraph before are also talking about housing, and part of the paragraph before that is talking about non-profit and co-op housing. So what is the rationale for --

Ms Anderson: The third paragraph talks about nonprofit and co-op housing and also talks about developers collaborating and job creation going through infrastructure funding. It seems to be more general. The third one could almost be taken out. Leave the fifth one in there, up to the point where it starts, "This partnership," and then just move the remaining part of that paragraph, which is more detailed, into the housing section where you talk about the need for affordable housing as opposed to the need for construction in general.

Ms M. Ward: Okay. I had a problem from the very beginning with this being split, construction and housing.

The Chair: So are you happy now?

Ms M. Ward: Yes, okay.

Mr Christopherson: Page 16: It is a minor matter, but one we felt worth raising. The two paragraphs regarding the Ontario Federation of Labour: to ensure that we have some balance -- I am sure the committee would not want to leave the impression that labour's opinion did not matter as much as anybody else's and therefore anything referring to a labour presentation can be left to the rear of the chapter -- we had suggested earlier that at least the two paragraphs on the OFL be inserted between the first and second paragraph that appear in the section "Business and Labour" on page 14.

Mr Elston: This is some politicking, is it?

Mrs Sullivan: A little sensitive about the relationship with the last paragraph in the part, too, I guess, eh?

Mr Elston: We used to work away with Gord Wilson and try and include him in a whole bunch of our programs, including the tech fund. It did not help us a hell of a lot and I am not sure what it is going to do for you. If he is not in the first or the second or third paragraph, it will not change his partisan point of view, I am sure, but if it makes you feel better.

Mr Christopherson: I think it is important that it be said that we do feel there is a need for a shift in attitude and in thinking --

Mr Elston: Listen, so did we.

Mr Christopherson: Well, I know, and the first two years that you followed us, you did just fine.


Mr Elston: He was included as a full participant in that whole tech fund thing. It is a partisan sort of a little shot. You do not see it in that fashion, but those of us who worked very hard to ensure that there was a heightened credibility given to the position of labour, and that included our Premier, because he went and actively sought out people from labour organizations to come join and talk freely about their points of view. I happened to chair the round table on the economy and the environment, and included there was Bob White who could not attend much, but Carol Phillips was there and attended a lot. You are thinking that there was not some sense among the rest of us here in this room that there should be some heightened role for labour. You do not see this as a shot, but that is what it is.

Mr Christopherson: I would disagree with that. I think that --

Mr Elston: It is just a little twist.

Mr Christopherson: I think it was indicative when you attempted to trivialize the fact that we at least wanted that chapter to be balanced.

Mr Elston: I did not.

Mr Christopherson: You did. You said: "You're going to play little games. You're going to try and satisfy" --

The Chair: All right.

Mr Christopherson: Just a minute, Mr Chair.

Mr Elston: You see, that is another little partisan twist.

Mr Christopherson: No, it was not that. I originally said that all I would like to do is move it over --

Mr Elston: It is your contention that you are the only party that ever took note of any labour role in any of this stuff, and it is not true.

Mr Christopherson: We will check Hansard and we will talk again, Murray.

The Chair: This is not a productive conversation. I think this is going to be an ongoing debate over the next few years. We have about 10 or 15 minutes left. I would like to finish the report, and then we still have a couple of resolutions that we have to do.

Mr Elston: You do not have to be a New Democrat to be sensitive to labour. That is all I wanted to say.

Mr Phillips: Just to be helpful, why do we not just -- because I do think maybe you would feel better -- move all three of the paragraphs up?

Mr Christopherson: All we want is a balance, and the only reason we raised anything -- there was a retort to it. It should have just been, "Fine, that's a good idea," and it was not. That is what ticked the whole thing going.

The Chair: We are a little touchy here.

Mr Christopherson: We did not ask for it to be changed to "Labour and Business." We were comfortable with "Business and Labour."

The Chair: Mr Christopherson, can we move along, please?

Mr Christopherson: That is it. We are done. I am sorry. Forgive me. Just a clarification from research. I gather it was just a process of noting and keeping track. Where it said "NDP observations" and in some places it said "Liberal," that was for working purposes?

Ms Anderson: That is right. What I did last night was put in the recommendations that seem to have come forward by both parties, because there were places where they had not been decided. At that point it did not seem to be committee recommendations. That will be taken out in the next reworking of it, as it has been decided --

Mr Christopherson: I would just make a note of it, that if all of us are the same crew who do this again a year from now that is just a point we might want to revisit, about how that is done.

Mr Elston: Some of you might be ministers by then.

Mr Christopherson: And miss being here with you like this, Murray? Never.

Mrs Sullivan: I have to take this away and caucus it. In some of the areas where there are double recommendations listed, I do not think they came back addressed to the committee in discussion. I am looking at, by example, page 23. Let's see what that one is. I have that one marked. I am looking for "Interval Housing."

Ms Anderson: Opposite page 22. Are you in revision 2?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. Our recommendation was very specific. You indicated that you would take that away, and I assume that what you are saying today is that none of the recommendations that --

Mr Christopherson: You received part I, correct? We circulated that and that was our response to your concerns raised. We have now verbally responded in our part III, and I have here to circulate our part II. I cannot recall from memory whether there are changes there or not, but this is to be circulated with the clerk.

Mrs Sullivan: I know what you have here, but other than that I wondered if you had made any other changes.

Mr Christopherson: Whatever is circulated in that last document is our response.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes, by adding a year. It says to study, not to implement, basically.

Mr Christopherson: I do believe, although I will check with my caucus colleagues, that that wraps up where we are. At the appropriate time I will be prepared to move a motion that the final recommendations as circulated on documents noted as part I, part II, and the verbal responses to part III as given this afternoon, constitute the "Observations and Recommendations" part of the report. Perhaps the opposition would like to move the body of the report or I will include it in my motion, whatever they prefer. It is up to you.

Mr Chair, one moment please. A correction, because it is the motion. The verbal changes were to part n, not part III, for clarity and consistency's sake.

To my colleagues across, through you, Mr Chair, would you prefer that I incorporate the body of the report as we have now agreed, or are you comfortable moving that separate from, of course, the observations and recommendations? I have moved the recommendations and observations. I am asking about the body of the report, the part that we have collectively agreed on.

Mr Phillips: Well, speaking as one, the challenge we face is the one I have articulated all along, that it is very difficult to separate the disagreements and the agreements and that it gets lost a bit in the shuffle. I think our challenge is the one I have tried to be as forthcoming as I can on, that I for one have difficulty in supporting the report because of a variety of reasons. One is that many of the recommendations, I think, are a backoff on the commitments that were made, and we do not incorporate in this, I think, some of the recession-fighting moves that are going to be needed. While I may agree with an awful lot of what is in here in verbiage and things like that, I think it is, like any report, very difficult to say: "There's the 80% I agree with and there's" --

Mr Christopherson: Just to make sure we are clear. Quite frankly, I did it in the reverse order. I am referring now just to the policy document, just to the part that the researchers drafted. It is a simple matter.

Mr Elston: Why do you not just move that you add your observations included in parts I and III written form and part n as amended by oral presentations to become part of the revision 2 -- with corrections, if you want to do that. I will have to vote against that, but that then develops your unit so you can go ahead and have --

Mr Christopherson: That is fine. There did not seem to be any disagreement on the body of the revision in terms of what people had said and what was brought forward. At least, I did not hear it. I was looking to see if you wanted to reflect that in a motion, and we would then move our recommendations and observations and you would attach your dissension.


Mrs Sullivan: Move your recommendations be appended or be integrated as part of the report.

Mr Christopherson: But as to the body of the report itself, do you support the part that has been done by the researchers and that we have worked on collectively, to reflect what has happened here, what people came in and said?

Mrs Sullivan: It does not matter. Your recommendations will not stand alone anyhow, so get them into the thing and then we will vote.

Mr Christopherson: That is fine. I move the report, as revision 2, with a couple of changes made verbally this afternoon and our recommendations and observations, as amended.

The Chair: Is there any discussion? Seeing none, all in favour? Those opposed? Should we record this?

Mr Elston: No, you only do that if it is asked for and I do not see any reason.

Mr Phillips: I will remember.

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: We need direction with respect to the translation of this document into French and I am going to allow the clerk to explain. I do not think it is a big issue. It is a question of allowing the clerk to explain the different options available. First, we have to decide whether we want it translated it or not, and I am not sure that is really a question. The second is how fast and soon we want it done, because there are some cost ramifications to that, so I will let Mr Decker explain that.

Clerk of the Committee: Basically what I am looking for now that we know what the report is going to look like is some direction, as the Chairman said, on whether or not to have it translated into French, and if we are going to translate it into French, whether to have it as a bilingual document, back to back, or whether to have a separate English and French version of the report; also, how quickly the committee is interested in having either or both of those versions available for public consumption.

The Chair: Maybe you could discuss the cost ramifications of the options.

Clerk of the Committee: A rough guideline as to what it would cost to translate the report is about $100 a page. With the appendices and the dissenting opinions, we are looking at probably somewhere around 50 to 60 pages, so $5,000 to $6,000 would be the cost of having it translated into French.

Mr Christopherson: Is there a difference in cost between a bilingual report versus two different reports?

Clerk of the Committee: The cost difference would be that if you are going to print the same number of reports in English as in French, it is less expensive to do it if you do it in one document. If you are going to print fewer in French than in English, it would be cheaper to print as many as you want in English and then a fewer number in French to meet the demand as it arises.

Mr B. Ward: What have they done in the past?

Clerk of the Committee: Last year the report was translated into French and presented as a bilingual document. Previously I do not believe it was translated into French.

The Chair: You explained to me the other day that if we rush the translation, it is something like 63 cents a word and if we allow the translation to take place over a period of time, it is 43 cents or 46 cents a word.

Mr Sutherland: What is the normal procedure? Is the report presented on the first day the House is back?

Clerk of the Committee: This committee has, as all the committees have, by virtue of the motion that was passed just before the House rose, the authority to release its report at any time by way of the Chair filing a copy with the Clerk of the House. That makes it a public document and the Chair is then obliged to bring the report forward to the House when the House begins sitting, but it can be released during the interval between sessions if the Chair releasing a copy through the Clerk of the House.

Mr Sutherland: What would be the normal time procedure for translation?

Clerk of the Committee: As the Chair said, depending on how quickly the committee requires it, anywhere from one to five weeks would be the time line. The speed with which you want it translated will affect the cost.

The Chair: I need some direction. (1) Do we translate it? (2) Do we include the translation in both copies together? (3) How fast do we have the translation done, based on cost?

Mrs Sullivan: I think there is another issue, and that is, as soon as the document is tabled it is therefore considered to be a public document. Therefore it becomes available to the Treasurer who is developing the budget. The speed with which it gets into his hands may mean that the information is incorporated into his budget planning. He spoke yesterday, I think, for the first time about the possibility of an April budget. In the past he has spoken of May, and we are at February now. We are of talking several weeks of translation, plus printing.

The Chair: In the past the committee has agreed and passed a resolution saying that as soon as a copy is available, it is made available to the Treasurer and that the public documents, the public release can come at a different time, but as soon as this is ready to go it goes straight to the Treasurer. Is that the consensus in this case? Okay. Now then, having said that, we still have the object of translation now and so on. Do we want the document translated into French?

Interjection: Yes.

The Chair: Okay, that is passed. It will be translated into French. Do we want the French version to appear with the English version in all copies or do we want to have an English version and a French version published with fewer numbers?

Mr Christopherson: What are the other committees doing? Is there any precedent that has been set?

Mr Elston: I do not think you need to worry about it. The fact is it ought to be a bilingual document, in my view, and it was last year, and for us to change would be, I think, a very bad mistake.

The Chair: Do I have a consensus that it will be a bilingual document? Okay, it is a bilingual document. the other question is, how many copies do we print? We need 600 copies for internal use alone. Last year they printed 1,200 copies.

Mr B. Ward: Was that enough?

The Chair: There were about 130 left.

Mr B. Ward: yes, the same number.

The Chair: So 1,200 copies; all right.

Mr Phillips: How many did we actually use last year?

The Chair: You had 130 left.

Mr Phillips: We could use the 130 this year and just change NDP to Liberal.

The Chair: Mr Phillips, please.

Mr B. Ward: Is it the staff's opinion that will be enough?

The Chair: Okay, now we need to have a date for the dissenting opinion to be filed.

Mr Christopherson: Apparently last year, as I understand it, there were a couple of days, and we have said this time, the figure, the date thrown out earlier was five days. From what I am hearing I think that will probably be enough, but I am open to hearing differently.

The Chair: Noon Tuesday?

Mrs Sullivan: Five working days.

The Chair: Noon Thursday?

Mr Phillips: Yes, I think that is fine. We just decided a few minutes ago to have the damned thing.

The Chair: Okay, noon Thursday.

Mr Christopherson: Somebody throw a Bible under his hand when he says that.

The Chair: Noon Thursday. Release date to the Treasurer? As soon as the document is ready?

Mr Christopherson: Yes, as soon as possible.

The Chair: General release: As soon as the document is prepared and ready to go in its bilingual version it should be released. It should be given to the clerk and then released to the public?

Mr Christopherson: How is it released, Mr Chair? Is it tabled in the House?

The Chair: I call all the press and all the media and everybody comes in here and we make a big celebration.

Mr Christopherson: The Chairman does a news conference.

Mr Phillips: It should be after the stock markets dose.

The Chair: We are aiming for the first day the House comes back.

Mr B. Ward: Is that normal?

The Chair: Mr Decker just indicated that if all goes well he can have it ready in its bilingual version, and everything ready to go, for the public and everything, on 18 March.

Mr Elston: Beware the ides of March.

The Chair: Shall the report be adopted in the report of the committee, subject to the final authority of the Chair to verify that the final draft reflects the changes directed to be made?

Mr B. Ward: Those are all his.

The Chair: No, they are not; they are his.

Mr B. Ward: Is that normal?

The Chair: That is normal. That means I have to read it before it goes off, okay?

Mr B. Ward: Before you sign your name.

The Chair: Is there any other business?

Mr Christopherson: What about the question of the odd word here and there?

Mrs Sullivan: You just passed a motion.

The Chair: You just gave me authority to make sure that the grammar and the spelling are correct, but not to change the intent.

Mr Elston: If you lost the argument in your caucuses, you guys better be careful.

Mr Sutherland: Wait a minute. Did we not have a problem with the words the other day

Mr Christopherson: That is right. What have we done?

Mr B. Ward: I thought we learned our lesson.

The Chair: Who said the Chair does not have any power?

Mr B. Ward: We are wrapping up, I think.

For myself, this is my first experience in a standing committee. I would like to thank everyone. I enjoyed it. It was a very good learning experience. I enjoyed the give and take and the co-operation that was shown from most people during our discussions and debate. I would just like to thank everyone on the committee.

Mr Christopherson: I would like to echo that, and also particular thanks to the staff, the researchers, the clerk and the Hansard people -- very impressive support of the work here. I want to thank our colleagues for their assistance where they felt comfortable doing so in light of our newness and I look forward to the next time around. Thanks to you, Mr Chair, for doing the best you could with a rather unwieldy group from time to time, and with the time constraints we had.

The Chair: I would like to add my thanks to all of you. You made my job here a little bit easier and a wonderful learning experience.

There was one further question. Does the committee want to meet when the House sits and do we want to have something ready to go for the first Thursday, about 21 March? Do we want to have some hearings set up so that the committee can continue its work?

Mrs Sullivan: On pre-budget?

The Chair: No, the pre-budget is done; to move into another phase of the committee's work.

Mr Phillips: I would have thought that the subcommittee might want to meet and talk about it. It seems to me we already had agreed to the cross-border stuff

The Chair: There is transborder shopping and --

Mr Christopherson: I think what I heard, and I stand to be corrected, was that the subcommittee had looked at a number of things, but those recommendations are yet to come to us. I do not think anything has been finalized. I do not recall voting on anything.

The Chair: The subcommittee had agreed that we, as a group, would recommend to this committee to bring cross-border shopping to you for the committee's --

Mr B. Ward: Is it the call of the Chair then?

The Chair: No, I think I need direction from you to say that, "Yes, we should go ahead with that."

Mr Christopherson: How does that work in terms of how much time you spend on it? How are those decisions made? I have no idea. I am asking.

The Chair: This committee is scheduled to sit from 10 o'clock in the morning on Thursday until noon and from 3:30 until 6 on Thursday. Therefore, we can schedule meetings to discuss these issues. We can ask people to come and give us deputations during that time and do some recommendations.

Mr Christopherson: But when do we decide how long we stay with cross-border shopping and what we are going to attempt to do, or do we do that at the first meeting?

The Chair: I get a sense that maybe the first meeting should be an organizational meeting.

Mr Christopherson: So there is no set.

The Chair: On the first Thursday do we want to have the organizational meeting at 10 in the morning or in the afternoon, Or both times?

Mr Sutherland: Let's go in the morning and if we need it we can go in the afternoon.

The Chair: Okay, so we will have the first meeting on the sitting in the House as an organizational meeting to meet at 10 o'clock in the morning. Mr Phillips, you had one final comment.

Mr Phillips: Have we decided on this cross-border subject or we will make that decision when we meet?

The Chair: We will make that decision when we meet.

Mr Phillips: I am not sure of the other subjects that had been proposed.

I just comment while I still have the floor that I think we have found this a useful process as well, particularly in the last couple of days. I think the third party made quite a contribution as well.

Mr Elston: Probably more productive.


Mr Phillips: I disagree with very little they said in the last couple of days.

The Chair: We are now adjourned. Thank you very much for your efforts.

The committee adjourned at 1715.