STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES ORGANISMES GOUVERNEMENTAUX
Tuesday 3 November 2015 Mardi 3 novembre 2015
The committee met at 0901 in committee room 1.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Good morning, everyone. Welcome back. Another Tuesday morning. We have two intended appointees. We’ll begin with subcommittee reports. We have two, I believe. Mr. Pettapiece?
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Yes, thank you, Chair. I move the adoption of the subcommittee report on intended appointments dated Thursday, October 29, 2015.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Pettapiece. Any discussion?
All those in favour? Opposed? Carried.
We just have one subcommittee report? Okay, thank you very much.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition and third party: Julie Di Lorenzo, intended appointee as member, Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Our first intended appointment is Julie Di Lorenzo, nominated as a member of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. Ms. Di Rorenzo, can you please come forward?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Di Lorenzo.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Di Lorenzo, yes. I slipped an R in there.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: It’s okay.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): I’ll explain later. I’m from Ottawa.
You will have time to make a brief presentation. Any time that you use will be taken from the government’s time for questions. You’ll be asked questions by members of all three parties. The questioning will begin with the third party. Thank you very much, Ms. Di Lorenzo. You may proceed.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Good morning. My name is Julie Di Lorenzo and I am honoured to be here to be considered as a board member for Waterfront Toronto.
I grew up in construction, from the ground up, sitting in a Mack truck drinking double-doubles and eating toasted western sandwiches, but mostly knowing the men and women that worked with us by name and understanding that each person contributed. I grew up knowing about the necessary co-operation of unions, safety boards and regulation, while advocating for economic prosperity and renewal through three to four recessions in my own career.
While studying medieval history and religious philosophy, I started my own business in 1982 in construction when I was 17 years old. You can imagine that there are not many women in the construction industry now, and certainly not then. Since those days, I have established myself as a premier real estate developer and builder. I have worked hard at being a community and city builder also.
I have had many experiences over the last 30 years of my career of self-employment, meeting stakeholders like developers, planners and political leaders, locally and abroad, and have been fortunate to participate in important initiatives, such as world-class development trade shows and lectures on urban marketing and economic development.
I am passionate about small and medium-sized business, women in business, applied design, industrial design and enterprise. I am probably the number-one cheerleader for Canadian products. My friends all know me as the one who finds the “made in Canada” and promotes, with pride, such businesses. We do and can make quality jobs here.
I mentor and volunteer extensively while running my successful firm. I’m a proud mother of two young children who are also immersed in the community through our family involvement in the Good Shepherd Refuge and Hincks-Dellcrest, and our home is filled with discussions on issues of the day.
I have had excellent relationships with domestic financial institutions and investors and have had international partnerships with European and Asian companies. My industry honoured me as president of the home builders’ association in 2005, when I supported the province’s growth management initiative and guided the industry through the greenbelt legislation. It is one of my most proud accomplishments in leadership.
In 2005, statistically, multi-unit residential housing was only 25% of the market and the industry was very reluctant to embrace growth management. In contrast, multi-unit housing represents 75% of new housing presently. I understood then and now that efficient land use with access to public transit and existing infrastructure is important not only for quality of life and affordability but also for the environment.
I was the first woman to be awarded the Business Excellence Award from the Italian chamber of commerce, although there were many brilliant, deserving women before me.
I am proud to be considered for the board of the waterfront development corporation, and I believe I am qualified to be an asset and a resource as a board member because of my experience and my ability to advocate for economic development and renewal. I’ve also been able to advise and work with many different political parties and levels of government, because ultimately I am a citizen who believes in collaboration towards the common good.
Toronto is a jewel. It is obvious to us all that it is safe, clean and, for the most part, provides for opportunity for all of its constituents, although we can pay more attention to priority neighbourhoods. Through our own unique jobs and initiatives, we all work hard to continue that legacy and to be world leaders in quality-of-life issues.
I see Waterfront Toronto as an important part of that narrative. It strives to be the model community where one can work and live and there is planned space for recreation and for community to develop and thrive—where built form is not random but is thought out and created to add enjoyment and stimulate good will. Imagine if you could create a community with the distilled intelligence of the experiences of previous cities and the insights of visionary leaders of tomorrow. We have that template from which to work at Waterfront Toronto.
Thank you for your consideration this morning.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much. Mr. Gates, you may—
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good morning. How are you?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Good, thank you, and you?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good. Julie, just a few questions. As a former developer, how will you balance the public interests on the waterfront with the interests of your profession, which you used to represent through BILD?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Hopefully I’m not a former developer; I’m still an active developer. I appreciate the question. When I was president of the home builders, the interests of the industry were first. I’m well aware of governance and I understand that the responsibility on a board would be to the corporation, not to myself. I understand conflicts, and if there ever were to be a conflict, I understand how to withdraw myself from that decision-making process.
Mr. Wayne Gates: To what extent should Waterfront Toronto seek income diversity among new residential developments, and after that, why?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I think that’s necessary. We’re very lucky in the city of Toronto. A lot of people don’t understand that it came out of the 1960s. We have affordable housing and old rental stock that came out of a CMHC initiative in the 1960s. So we have a diverse population by default.
You need to be able to be proactive in creating that. One of the reasons I build in an urban context is because people understand each other when they see each other on a daily basis and we can see the issues of the day in front of us unfolding. I’m a huge advocate for multi-socioeconomic groups in the same communities.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Having said that, affordable housing is a crisis in the province of Ontario and probably becoming even more of a crisis here in Toronto as you see people leave this area to move, quite frankly, down into Niagara, whether it be Grimsby, Beamsville or Niagara Falls. What do you think some of the solutions would be for affordable housing? How will we get there?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: There’s a big irony that if you go to Hong Kong, they have the largest stock of affordable housing in the world, and yet it’s the ultimate capitalist city. It has to be done, because the workers who work in the offices are the people who need the housing. I’m a controversial developer, because although the commercial world is very important to me, if you don’t have housing for people, that’s almost a given and a need.
How do we accomplish that? I think that the condominium industry, believe it or not, with the size of their units on public transit, has alleviated it a tiny bit. The rental housing stock has improved substantially through that. It’s still not affordable enough. I think you need a proactive effort.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Why does the witness suspect that, despite so much development—and the associated development charges—that has taken place near the waterfront, there is still no rapid transit line in that area?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: That’s disappointing. What I do believe, at least, is that the physical infrastructure is there for rapid transit. Some communities made the mistake of not even doing the arterial systems. It should happen. In fact, when I was president of the home builders, the development charges alone were enough to finance many of these projects. Can you imagine in how many years how much more is in the coffers?
To me, it’s a priority; it’s a given. If you are in a suburban development and you have to employ someone, they need enough money to afford a car, which makes your business less efficient. So public transit is an absolute need, and I would be advocating for that. Again, I’m a capitalist, but it makes sense. Capitalism is supposed to make sense. You need to bring people to the jobs.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s interesting. I was a city councillor in Niagara Falls for a number of years. I don’t know this. I’m going to ask you because you probably do, because you are a builder. Development charges in Toronto, are there any discounted development charges? Do they pay a regular rate or is there a level that they pay?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: We’ve been really lucky that the industry has been very strong. Usually in cities they have a doughnut. They have less development charges in the centre because you have infrastructure and public transit. It becomes more expensive as you go further because the garbage truck, for example, has to travel further. The servicing costs more. But because the industry has been so prosperous, development charges have escalated substantially in the urban core. We hope that the industry can continue to pay that, but we’re seeing affordability thresholds.
Should there be incentives for those areas in terms of lower development charges? Yes, but it’s a balance because you need to pay for the infrastructure.
Mr. Wayne Gates: That wasn’t exactly where I was going.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: You’re asking should you charge development charges to work in that—but it is a paradox. I didn’t mean to give you an ambivalent answer.
In the new community, how do you stimulate investment if your charges are higher because you’re reducing your land values? In Mississauga, the development charges are so high now that the land value is zero in multi-unit residential. So you’re taking it out of somewhere because the affordability is only so much.
Do I believe that development charges area-wide should be directed to new city initiatives? Yes. Do I believe you should still incentivize people to come to new communities? Yes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. Somebody’s got to pay, though.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Someone’s got to pay.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Somebody’s got to pay. So—
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: So if the city and the province have a mandate, an area-wide charge should be directed to a specific project in the provincial interest. For example, if I’m building at Bay and College—I built a building there once on 100 feet by 100 feet, which is a suburban lot in some places, and housed 120 families—spectacular efficiency. Those development charges could go to—because the infrastructure was there—Waterfront Toronto. That’s an old building, but it’s an example. Projects on existing infrastructure are revenue-neutral. Those development charges could be specific to a project that’s in the provincial interest.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Okay. Does the witness believe the expansion of the island airport would help or hinder growth and livability near the waterfront? The second part of that is, do you share the concerns of the Waterfront Toronto staff regarding the possible negative impact of any kind of expansion?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I don’t know enough about the issue save and except from a consumer—it’s clearly a very convenient thing from a business person standpoint. Would I appreciate the noise if I lived there? I’m not even sure if the noise levels are something that I understand yet. I would investigate that and become more informed. But in any development process, there’s supposed to be tension, and the tension is supposed to bring about a better process and a better development.
I once showed up for a hearing for my project at Yonge and Roxborough with 200 people in the neighbourhood against me. I didn’t resent that. That’s part of distilling all the concerns. So when I become more familiar with the issue, I hope to give you a better answer—follow up on a better answer.
Mr. Wayne Gates: So you’ll have an opinion on it once you know the facts?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: That’s correct. Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: And that’s fair.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: That’s true. Thank you.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Do you see any particular challenges confronting Waterfront Toronto or the board in the near future and how do you expect to contribute in responding to these challenges? You obviously know the area quite well.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Yes. I appreciate the question because urban marketing is a concept that comes out of every recession. What that means is, you need to attract international money now. You’re no longer attracting money from within the country. You need to find investors from all over the world. But we’d also be competing with other places in the world for that same money.
There’s a great tradeshow in Cannes, France, called the MIPIM. I could tell every time I would go if there was a soft economy or there was lots of money in the system, because whoever had a display, you could figure out if economic development was the issue. The answer is, I believe economic development will be important. There is competition for developer money and so that will be a concern, that the economy remains stable, but you can also market cities in slower economies, and Waterfront Toronto has done everything right to be on that radar screen.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Well, it’s got the natural beauty right there. I’m not so sure we’re utilizing that beauty to the degree that we should. That’s a debate that we could always have, but—
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: One of the points I tried to make is that I believe Waterfront Toronto, with their built form, has been very sensitive—much more sensitive than our history in the past in Toronto on the waterfront. Because of that, it’s got all the right ingredients to do very, very well by respecting that feature.
Mr. Wayne Gates: And I hope they continue to do that.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I hope so, too.
Mr. Wayne Gates: It’s a jewel you shouldn’t lose because of development.
Two things. I don’t know how much time I have left, but—
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): You’ve got two minutes.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Oh, good. Two more minutes. Wow.
A couple of things. I like the fact that you said you support Canadian products. For a number of years I’ve always talked about supporting local, buying Canadian products, although I do want to say that I have a lot of concerns around the new trade agreement that was just signed. I think it’s going to take a lot of that opportunity away. If you read some of the stuff in there that has leaked out, municipalities won’t even be able to make up their own minds on selecting local contractors, local builders, local developers. So I have some concerns around that. When it comes out, maybe you’ll want to take a chance to read that, because that is a big concern that—
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I appreciate that and I’m glad you have flagged it for me. I will research that.
It’s funny that although Germany with Volkswagen isn’t a good example today, Germany would put in their building code technological specifics that related to industry in their country. So there are ways of promoting your own products that don’t interfere with a trade agreement, still fulfill the rights of a trade agreement; but what we don’t know is that we can make great products here.
I’ll give you a quick example. There’s a suitcase called Rimowa. That is a German man who came, fell in love with Ontario and now manufactures them here—industrial design, high-quality jobs, and he’s opening a second factory. I don’t think we promote those stories enough.
It’s a synergy in business. You don’t want to be the one person, but if you have somebody else, there’s a psychological campus. It’s a benefit to the country and, obviously, to the province.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’ll just go, really quick. I agree with you. Probably the best auto workers in the world are right here in Ontario, and under that agreement we’re being attacked because of tariffs. I think that’s a big, big mistake. We make the best cars in the world—nobody would even argue with us—and there are other sectors of the economy that are the same thing. Pay attention to that, because it may hurt exactly how you feel and I probably feel going forward—a disadvantage to Canadians and Ontarians.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thanks. I enjoyed our conversation.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Gates. Ms. Martins.
Mrs. Cristina Martins: Thank you, Ms. Di Lorenzo, for being here this morning and for speaking so passionately about the sector that you have been involved in for so long. Through the discussion you had with MPP Gates, I know you bring a wealth of experience, living it, as you said, from the ground up.
My question for you today is: From a developer’s point of view, could you talk about some of the successes you see at Waterfront Toronto?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: When I talk about built form and massing, the shapes of the building, for example, and I compare it to communities that grew very quickly—and I’ll give an example: Hazel McCallion had the guts to say late in her career that if she would have planned more for infrastructure and public transit, it probably would have been of benefit, because once you’ve built something you can’t move buildings; you can’t move homes.
What Waterfront Toronto has done is they have done it right from the ground up. Even if you can’t afford public transit today, it’s ready for public transit when you can afford public transit. The built form has respected the environment.
The built form is very pleasant. I’m not particularly a fan of 80-storey buildings, for example. I’m not sure what the relationship is for that person in the community. Waterfront Toronto has done a very good job at mixing the built form so that one can choose if they prefer a low-rise where they can look out the window and see a tree, or a high-rise where they feel that they’re more a part of a bigger city. So they’ve done that very, very well.
Mrs. Cristina Martins: Okay, thank you. What are some of the upcoming projects you’re most excited about, and what will you do as a board member to ensure they are completed on time and on budget?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: At Waterfront Toronto?
Mrs. Cristina Martins: Yes.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I’m well aware that there is a flood plain issue and I understand that that is something where all levels of government need to co-operate to accomplish that goal. I believe that although that’s not glamorous, it’s probably essential. Once I do the research—I believe it is, from what I’ve understood. That would be a primary, even though, again, not glamorous—a very important foundation stone for the whole development, for the expansion of the development.
Mrs. Cristina Martins: Thank you. I’m not sure if you wanted to add anything else or if you had anything else? You’re good?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I’m delighted. I was here last in 1992 making a deputation. It’s quite an honour to be here again.
Mrs. Cristina Martins: And it’s a pleasure to have you here as well. Thank you so much.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Ms. Martins. Mr. Pettapiece.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Welcome. The corporation has had some difficulties staying within budgets.
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Yes.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: As a board member, what steps would you take to correct that, if you could?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I’m really lucky. Being a developer, you see all kinds of issues that look unequitable. For example, I have a million-dollar marketing budget, but my engineer makes $200,000. I find that crazy, but it just happens to be the way certain sectors work. If I don’t have a million-dollar marketing budget, I can’t sell my product. So some things to the public domain or to the public eye or to the public optic look extravagant or preposterous, but they become a landmark that actually add goodwill.
I will provide the scrutiny that I provide in my business, but I also understand that it’s a public forum, so you can’t put your fist down and do the same mannerisms. But there will be a mechanism to be very, very careful about the public purse.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Yes. When you get into public life, it’s something that you really have to watch and try to be careful with. We’ve certainly seen many examples in the past number of years of how that can get out of control.
They expect to run out of money by 2017, the corporation. Can we do any immediate action or do you see any kind of immediate action that we can take to manage the funds that are there now?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Well, I think in every business you talk about—and it sounds drastic—a burn rate. I think it would be very important, when I was a board member, to understand what financial capacity we have and how long that financial capacity will last, and how to make sure that we don’t get stopped in our tracks. There will be some collaboration required from levels of government, but of course everyone likes to hear the private sector taking up their responsibility. That’s where marketing of that whole enterprise starts to become more relevant.
I was looking at the webpage. It’s a very dated marketing campaign, because it started in a different era. I remember very distinctly when it started. Again, these are dollars that you might not like because marketing money—again, I give that analogy of a million dollars versus $200,000 for an engineer. It’s really necessary to attract investment. There may be some things that need to be done that look exuberant but are required to bring in more money. But I’m very careful. I micromanage my budgets with sensitivity analysis all the time.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I was interested in some of the comments on public transit. I think one comment was that development charges just go directly to a certain project. Have you seen this done before?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I’ve seen many, many examples all over the world. If there is a specific project that’s of specific interest to the community and benefits the community, it’s not uncommon for development charges to be directed. In fact, they already have something similar to that, and it’s something called a section 37, where it’s supposed to go into an area of need. It’s supposed to be directed to the local community and an area of need. So there are many mechanisms that are available in taxation that don’t offend the industry that also can be specifically directed to projects.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: And that is in place now, the section 37?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: Section 37 is in place right now in Toronto.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Okay, all right. I wasn’t aware of that. I come from out in mid-western Ontario, and there’s always this Toronto—and what I tell them—there’s always a certain mindset that all money comes here. Our tax dollars come from the other parts of Ontario to feed Toronto.
I certainly believe Toronto has to be strong. That’s part of the mix that we have to have to make Ontario successful. So that’s interesting to me that, if that mechanism is in place, that it could be used.
You were the president of the home builders’ association?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I was. Yes.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: The Toronto home builders’ association?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: They were called the Greater Toronto Home Builders’ Association, and they’re now called BILD.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Oh, okay, because the president of the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, John Meinen—have you ever met him?
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo: I have not met him, no.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Okay. He’s from Stratford, where I’m from. He does a terrific job. That home builders’ association is something that we really rely on to help us move along the way.
I just want to say thank you for coming in this morning.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Pettapiece. Ms. Di Lorenzo, thank you very much for being here this morning and for your presentation. We will consider the concurrences at the end of the meeting. You’re welcome to stay. Thanks very much again.
Mr. Guy Freedman
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Guy Freedman, intended appointee as member, Champlain Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Our next intended appointment is Guy Freedman, nominated as member, Champlain Local Health Integration Network.
Mr. Freedman, can you please come forward? That’s great. Thank you very much for being here this morning. You will have time to make a brief presentation. Any time that you use for presentation will be taken from the government’s time for questions. You will be asked questions by members of all three parties. The questioning will begin with the government. You may proceed, Mr. Freedman.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Thank you. Pizhew nindizhinikaaz, Pizhew dodem. My name in Ojibwe is Lynx, and I am a member of the Lynx Clan. My name in English is Guy Freedman—or, as my family calls me, Guy. I wanted to honour the territory I’m on. It has been the place of many indigenous nations for meeting and trading for hundreds and hundreds of years, including the Métis.
Mr. Chair and members, it is my honour to appear before you to speak to why I have let my name stand to become a board member of the Champlain Local Health Integration Network, to speak to my qualifications and to tell you a little bit about myself.
I am an expatriate Manitoban, born and raised in the northern community of Flin Flon, Manitoba, 56 years ago to a Jewish father and a Métis mother. I have called Ontario my home now for over 30 years, since August 1985. It remains my home and of my wife of 27 years and our two children, Maxim and Alexandra. I am well-traveled internationally, across this great country of ours and across Ontario. I am very proud of my Métis heritage and am a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, as are both of my children.
I am intimately familiar with health care issues from both a personal and a professional perspective. My work life has been wide and varied and ranges from being an underground miner to a former executive assistant to a Manitoba cabinet minister, a federal civil servant and the senior adviser for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. I’m the founder and owner of a successful aboriginal consulting firm called First Peoples Group. It is at First Peoples Group where I continue to work on issues that are dedicated to the revival, renaissance and resurgence of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures through the arts, media and business. We have a strong focus on education, social services and health.
As you may know, Ottawa is home to some 30,000 aboriginal peoples. For over five years, I had served as the vice-president of the board of directors for the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, one of Ontario’s 10 aboriginal health access centres. Working with our community, board and an outstanding executive director, who was recently honoured with the Order of Ontario for her work in the health care field, Wabano has grown from its humble beginnings 15 years ago into a world-class aboriginal health centre that has completed a 25,000-square-foot, $15-million expansion. I was proud to be a part of bringing health access to First Nations, Métis and Inuit living in the Champlain health region and remain an active volunteer.
As I said earlier, I am intimately familiar with health care issues. My brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12 years old. I grew up understanding how being healthy could change and what might be required to stay healthy. My brother is now 59 and, I dare say, in better shape that any of us here today. My late mother suffered from post-partum depression and struggled all her life with mental health issues. She spent her last 19 years in Taché nursing home in St. Boniface. She endured many intrusive health care experiments including electroshock therapy, a once-common practice that has left many patients in worsened states. I grew up understanding that sometimes health care, particularly mental health care, doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 tonsil cancer that had spread to a few lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. In addition to meeting with three western-based doctors, I sought and consulted traditional First Nations and Métis healers and medicine people to come up with a treatment plan that took into consideration both ways of healing. I was hopeful and I was determined to live.
Over the course of 42 days between April and late May of 2013, I received 35 rounds of radiation, five days per week for seven weeks, and two rounds of chemotherapy. Prior to this treatment, I received a pipe ceremony and healing ceremony in northern Ontario by First Nations and Métis medicine people that included receiving my spirit name, Pizhew, a drum, a pipe, an eagle feather and medicines that I used throughout and in concert with the Western ways of treatment. A little over a month ago, my oncologist released me from his care, and I am grateful that my health has fully recovered. I live a very healthy life now and cannot remember the last time I ate at a fast food place.
The care I received from the Ottawa Hospital was beyond exceptional. In addition, during my treatment, I was asked by my medical oncologist at the time that when I got better, would I help the hospital find ways of helping aboriginal people better access and navigate health care in the region. I quickly agreed.
This past December, I was privileged to emcee the opening of the new Windòcàge community room, which was opened on the winter solstice, a time to acknowledge change and renewal in aboriginal culture. First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in the Champlain region helped design and name Windòcàge, ensuring that it represents their culture and helps put aboriginal patients and families at ease. The room offers a comfortable, welcoming meeting space and a waiting area near the fireplace in the cancer centre.
The decision by the hospital to move in this direction was a confident move, and as I said in my remarks that night, it was a bold and much-needed gesture of reconciliation to First Nations, Métis and Inuit that I hope all hospitals, not only in Ontario but in Canada, will have the courage to follow.
It is these experiences in the health care sector and in my life, Mr. Chair and members, that have led to my interest and motivation to support the mandate of the Champlain LHIN and to serve as a passionate, committed member of the board, not just for aboriginal people but for all Ontarians, to ensure that we strive to live a good life—Bimaadiziwin, a healthy way of life.
I will bring a positive, prevention-based approach to the board, and commit to doing my best to ensure that our much-needed health care dollars are spent wisely to do the most we can so that all those we serve can live that healthy way of life. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Freedman. Mr. Potts.
Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Mr. Freedman, for coming here. Welcome back to better health.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Thank you.
Mr. Arthur Potts: I’m delighted, and your story was very moving. In my family, my sister-in-law, with non-Hodgson’s lymphoma, also received aboriginal support from friends of ours in northern Manitoba. She went out for healing circles with feathers and visions that helped. What was very impressive for me was the marrying of the two opportunities in western medicine and the support she got from the aboriginal communities. It wasn’t an either/or choice; there was a way of integrating both cares.
She is not herself First Nations, but it was through friends of hers who brought her into this opportunity. It was spiritually, physically and mentally very positive for her, and I’m pleased to say that the treatment she received in their totality have helped her come back to full health.
So I was quite moved by your story. I appreciate it. Maybe you could expand more on how you see the opportunities with Wabano and with this particular LHIN in marrying these two different approaches to health and healing, and how you would bring that knowledge to the board.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Yes. Thanks for that question. It was the oncologist who approached me. When you’re told you have stage 4 cancer, you’re not really worried about a lot of things, except death and living perhaps. He was a South African, but he also happened to be a Jew. He wore a yarmulke that indicated that, and when he saw my last name, he was quite happy that he might have been treating a Jewish person. But I was raised a Catholic and I was raised an aboriginal person. My mother didn’t convert.
So I think what I mean by this is that our doctors, some of them who are well trained, will understand that culture is important. Whether you are First Nations, whether you’re from a new country coming over for the first time or whether you’ve been here a long time, culture matters. I think our hospitals are starting to understand that, and that spirit matters. I’m not going to get all preachy on everybody in this room, but I was one of those guys who prayed when I was in deep trouble, and only then. That changed. There’s great power in prayer, regardless of who you think your creator is.
I’m very comfortable with the hospitals across this province, that they’re well on their way to understanding—and Canadians are too—that First Nations, Métis and Inuit have a place. It might be a little different. It might not look the same. The accommodations that were made for everybody in this room, whether you’re a woman, whether you’re a disabled person or whether you are someone who is transgender—all that is changing. We’re on the verge of becoming that country that we all dreamed about a few hundred years ago. I see it, I live it and I will work hard for that.
Mr. Arthur Potts: Excellent. Not to dwell on it, but again, my family’s not First Nations, not with a name like Potts. You will of course recognize Jerry Potts as a great Métis First Nations individual.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Sure.
Mr. Arthur Potts: My father would always talk a lot about how he wished he had a stronger connection to the First Nations and the Métis operations. He would meet people who were named Potts, First Nation members, and discovered that the name Potts in the First Nations came because of a very successful poker player many, many generations ago who was nicknamed Jack Potts. Jack Potts had a son, Jerry, he had a son, Joe, and that’s potentially the origin of my last name. But we’re from Scotland, so I can’t really lay any claim there..
But part of this opportunity for my sister-in-law was that in a healing circle she was presented with an eagle feather, and she had visions which were very profound. It’s one of those touching stories. When she came home, it was wrapped up in an oilcloth, and she said to her son—her son said, “Mom, while you were away, I had a dream.” She asked him about the dream, and he said, “Yes, you were given a feather.” He hadn’t seen it yet, and they literally just opened it up and there it was. Obviously there was a spiritual connection that transported that geography, which I believe contributed very much to her well-being and her mental attitude towards what she was going through.
So I appreciate very much you being here and bringing your story, and look forward to having your input into this LHIN.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Mr. Bailey.
Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for coming, Mr. Freedman. It has been a very interesting morning. I enjoyed your story about healing and I’m thankful that you recovered. Congratulations on that.
To go back to the LHIN a little bit, how do you feel the LHINs in Champlain directly could serve the First Nations people in a better way? I know they’re probably doing a good job now, but how do you think they could step that up and improve that?
Mr. Guy Freedman: Sure. There are a couple of priorities that we need to focus on, one of them being mental health, and not just in the Champlain LHIN, but across the country, really. There are a number of areas with our seniors and our growing population that we need to have more focus on.
I have not been privilege to the information of the Champlain LHIN, of its operating or its previous plan. I’m only making myself aware of what is in store for the next few years. It falls in line with what I propose that I bring to the board, which is a way of looking at all kinds of alternatives, whether it’s an alternative level of care or alternative ways of healing or additional ways, so that we can stay out of the hospital as much as possible. The words my oncologist said to me, “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I never want to see you again.” I want all of us to never have to fall down a flight of stairs as we grow old. I just want to support their priorities.
Mr. Robert Bailey: I have a significant First Nations population in my riding of Sarnia–Lambton, so I’m very interested in the interaction between the—we have a very successful LHIN there as well, in southwestern Ontario, in my riding. They’ve just advanced some new money, I think, to mental health care, which is something that’s sorely needed over the whole province but especially in my area. I think it’s a pilot project we’re working on there.
It would be interesting to know—I was surprised at the number. You said there were 30,000 aboriginal members in the Ottawa area?
Mr. Guy Freedman: Yes, and in the area where Wabano is—and I’m guessing our Chair has been there; he’s a member for the Ottawa area. If you haven’t been to the Wabano area, you should go. It’s a very impressive building designed by Douglas Cardinal. It’s referred to as Little Nunavut. The largest population of Inuit outside of Iqaluit live in downtown Vanier, in Ottawa. You have the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn nearby at Renfrew, in that area, and you have the Kitigan Zibi and beyond that, Barriere Lake on the Quebec side. It’s also close to Mohawk territory near Montreal and Tyendinaga.
Because of the nature of the business in Ottawa, many aboriginal people from across the country work at aboriginal jobs and aboriginal agencies for aboriginal self-government representatives. It’s a vibrant community.
I come from Winnipeg. It’s a little different. There are 80,000 people downtown on the street every day that you see.
Ottawa is there. We’re spread out a little bit more. If I’m not mistaken, I think Wabano has 12,000, maybe 15,000 patients alone, on their charts.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Mr. Pettapiece?
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: This has been a very interesting conversation, not only from you but from the previous application person, I guess—
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Nominee.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Nominee. I guess it’s an attitude thing that I see here, which is that your attitude is really good. You’re very enlightening. I’d want to have you on my board, I guess is what I’m saying, because of this attitude that you bring with you, not only for the First Nations people, but certainly for other people in this province, because we all are in this province for the same thing: to be successful and live a healthy life.
There have been some difficulties with—and I don’t know whether you’ve studied this or seen it too much—the amount of money not going to front-line health care, having to do with extravagant administration fees and stuff like that. One of the targeted areas was the CCACs, that they’re spending too much money on paperwork and not enough money on front-line health care. Were you aware of this when you first decided to look at this position?
Mr. Guy Freedman: I’m more aware of the fact that $7 out of every $10 targeted for health care for some of our remote and northern communities is spent on travel. I’m trying to find other ways of doing that. If we can keep people healthy, we’re going to keep them out of the hospitals to begin with—a little bit more proactivity on that part, perhaps, as a province. I’m not aware of what the health campaign schemes are here. I’m so old that I can remember ParticipACTION. Now I have a phone that tells me I walked 3.4 kilometres already today since I got off the plane this morning.
We’ve got great technologies to put in place some of the answers to those questions that you’re posing. If you come from the non-profit sector like I have for the past number of years, you’re very mindful of what it takes to operate a place and how you have to pay to keep those doors open.
As an aboriginal person, my eyes are on the bottom line as well. I don’t want a handout; I don’t want a hand up. I want access to the same levels and networks of power that everyone else in this province does. I think you’re recognizing that, as you fund the aboriginal organizations, particularly the health care and the access centres, we do a really good job of looking after our people. And I’m sure you do a really good job in your riding looking after your people. So we’re all in it for the same reason.
The other thing that I want to say, on your point about “everybody,” I want the narrative of this country to change. I don’t want to refer to anybody in this room as a non-aboriginal person. We’re part of a movement that is saying we are the original peoples of this land and all Canadians. I don’t think you want to be a non-aboriginal any more than you want to be a gentile if you’re not a Jew. Let’s start supporting ourselves on who we are and bring everybody in because that’s how—again, I don’t mean to educate people on the history. I certainly didn’t get it. I had the same history that you did and didn’t understand or know about residential schools until I started living the experiences of it. Let’s go back to those old ways, welcoming us as a people, celebrating our differences. But you’ll understand, as I have, that we have more similarities than we have differences.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: That’s true.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Let’s build this healthy Ontario. This isn’t my favourite province; I’m going to tell you that right now. There’s a saying in Manitoba: If you want to call yourself a Manitoban, you’ve got to either be born in Manitoba or die in Manitoba. So I’ve got half of that figured out. The other half is: I’m not afraid to die anymore. I’m probably more afraid to live than I am afraid to die. And I’m trying to get that into what the Champlain LHIN does: Welcome what you have; be grateful for what you have. This is a pretty decent place, right? This is a great country. This is a beautiful province. I’m in love with it.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Do I still have time?
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Yes, you do.
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I think that’s an opinion that’s felt by all members of this committee: that we do live in a great place. I’m going to tell you about my riding a little bit. We are heavily agricultural, and the dairy farmers, the hog farmers, whoever involved in our area and certainly around the province, do take seriously the health of their citizens and they promote their products in the schools, and healthy eating and that type of thing—more so than it used to be, because I remember the days of vending machines with Twinkies. Those things are certainly gone, where they’re supplying healthy foods now or else they’re taking the vending machines right out because that’s certainly not a great way to eat.
I appreciate your attitude because this is really great. I’m glad you came here today, sir. I wish you well.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Thank you. You too.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Pettapiece. Mr. Gates.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Good morning there, young man. How are you?
Mr. Guy Freedman: I’m good.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m just going to give you a little bit of background. I’m from Niagara Falls. I’ve lived in Niagara my entire life, and certainly over the last few years we’ve had the opportunity down in Niagara to celebrate the War of 1812, in which First Nations played a major, major part in by shaping the country that we have today. Unfortunately, and I think you can agree to disagree, the one thing that came out of the War of 1812—a lot of people did extremely well. First Nations weren’t among them.
I’m glad to hear that you’re saying that you see things changing. They probably should have changed 200 years ago. So we’re moving a lot slower than we should. I’m letting you know that I’m hoping that you’re right on the money, that everybody is treated with respect and dignity, including First Nations. Quite frankly, we wouldn’t have the beautiful country that you talk about, the beautiful province we have, without their contribution during that time when the United States tried to take us over, so say thank you to everybody that you know about that issue.
This second part is—interesting that this particular LHIN has a $2.5-billion budget. One of the things that I know is just growing in leaps and bounds is mental health, yet they only spend 3.4% on that in the budget. Do you believe that’s enough? Do you believe it should be less, it should be more? You probably see a lot of those.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Sure. I walked up here, looking for a decent cup of coffee, and wound up at a Starbucks about four blocks that way, passing a young man who had a bag of papers in his hand, and it all flew everywhere. You could see that he was camped out on the street. He asked me for advice. I was coming up here to meet with you guys. I guess I might have to go back there and ask him for some of that advice, right?
You heard me talk about my mother, with electroshock therapy and mental health. Regardless of whether it’s through whatever reasons in your family and life that you can’t cope—I think that everybody in this room has a personal story about that.
I bumped into somebody at the Wabano Centre last week, when Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau was there. The place was throbbing, with 300 or 400 people—kind of like midnight mass for the Catholics. Nobody shows up every Sunday, but call a midnight mass and you can’t get a seat in the place.
I spotted, across the room, Michael Wilson, the former finance minister under the Mulroney administration. I love politics. I love public service. I walked up to him and said, “You’re Michael Wilson, aren’t you?” He might have thought that I was going to give him a tongue-lashing or celebrate somebody else’s election victory. I said, “I just wanted to say that I think, even though I’m not a Conservative where I come from, you were one the country’s finest finance ministers, and I thank you for your service.”
He chairs some sort of a mental health board, or some sort of a mental health commission. When they said that that’s what he’s doing, I said, “He must have a personal story.” I learned of his personal story. So let’s build on those personal stories.
Not all the time can our families be kept together in the way we want to. As you heard me say, mental health is a priority for the Champlain LHIN, and it ought to be a priority for this country.
You and I probably don’t have that much difference in age. It’s a little bit different for our kids now to live good lives, to find money to buy a house, to get a decent job. I’m worried about that generation. I have a 19-year-old and a 23-year-old who are navigating through life in a good way, but I know a lot of families that aren’t. That’s the hardest one. You dislocate your knee: You can understand that. You can’t think straight, you’re picking up bags and the paper, and asking a stranger for advice—that’s a hard one.
I’m not going to advocate for more money; I’m going to advocate for money to be used in strategic ways, calling a priority a priority. Begin to speak about things in a good, positive way, and let’s reduce the stigma of mental health as we’ve had to reduce the stigma of everything else that we’ve faced in this country. I think this country can be a leader in that.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes, it’s amazing. Almost one in four, or one in four and a half, have mental health issues in the province of Ontario, and the dollars are not going there.
I actually agree with you. I think there are lots of dollars going to health care. Quite frankly, I just think that it’s how they’re being spent. In particular—my colleague here talks about rural Ontario—you can’t close hospitals in rural Ontario and expect not to have your travel costs go up. So to your prioritizing, it’s a good one.
In this particular LHIN, stroke care is below the benchmark that’s set out. Wait times are higher. I’m sure you know this, but hopefully you can bring some solutions to that particular problem in this LHIN.
The Champlain community care centres: Again, you talk about how money is spent. We have a lot of challenges with CCACs across the province, some of it because of how they’re doing privatization and stuff like that—it’s not getting to the nurses. But the CEO is paid $314,000. Would you think that is a good place to be spending our health care dollars? To your point, because I’m trying—
Mr. Guy Freedman: Sure. Let me ask you a political question. Your salary, as a member of provincial Parliament, compared to the 100 highest-paid public servants that you might have authority to boss around, through a committee process or through a party process—is that fair?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Are you asking about my salary?
Mr. Guy Freedman: No, I’m saying the tail’s wagging the dog, in some of those areas—
Mr. Wayne Gates: I could tell you a story about that one, that’s for sure.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Do I feel that people are worthy of what they are able to be paid? Sure. I’m making a political point. We have public servants that earn way more than the Premier. We have public servants federally that earn way more than the Prime Minister. That doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, I’m sure, so maybe we need to re-evaluate that.
Can I get by—I don’t know what that would work out to, even—on $30,000 a month or $20,000 a month? Is that right? Is that $360,000? I’m not really that—
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): It’s about $25,000.
Mr. Guy Freedman: It’s good pay.
Mr. Wayne Gates: The math’s not bad.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Yes, the math’s not bad—one of my least favourite subjects.
But let’s keep an eye on that. I want us to earn what we deserve to earn. What is the limit on those incomes? This is a government agency that I’m speaking to that really has no control over that at the end, but the citizens might have something to say about that.
Do I think it’s a fair salary? I don’t know what the person does every day, but it seems a little high to me, particularly when you take a look at what the average person in this province is earning. Everything needs a shakedown. Let’s get paid for what we do here.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I guess where I was going with that is that the CEO is making that kind of money and the nurses in my riding, who are providing an incredible job every day with our seniors and those who are challenged, are getting $15 an hour. I guess that’s kind of where I’m going.
You have to take a look at—again, as it relates to me, there are lots of dollars out there; it’s how we spend them. I think some of the choices that are being made around how we spend our dollars—they’re not getting to the people who need it. In your case and my case, who have had health challenges over the years, it should be going to the patients and making their lives and quality of life as good as it can be until the end of their life. So that’s kind of where I was going with that.
The other thing is it says that you were the president, owner and founder of the nation’s First Peoples Group and OneNation media and design. Maybe you could explain a little bit about that. That’s interesting to me.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Sure. Most of my life since my humble beginnings has been dedicated to aboriginal people. After about 20 years of government experience, I tired of the work that I was doing in the federal and provincial governments and I thought if I could make our people beautiful through media work by putting up nice posters and designing great logos, that would have an impact on how people felt about our people.
I had a co-op student who was working with us. He was 45 years old and going back to university. He couldn’t be any more Indian if he looked like it. If you cast a movie, that’s who you’d pick. He wore cowboy clothes to work every day. I said, “Gilbert, given that you’re a Saulteaux Indian from outside of Winnipeg, why do you dress like a cowboy every day? I’m just curious.” He said, “I can’t afford to dress like an Indian. Do you have any idea what a nice beaded jacket costs, Guy?” So I was undervaluing my culture.
I thought, “So what if I put up a beautiful poster?” It’s about the policy. It’s about the actions on the ground. It’s about working with the other sides of the table, saying, “We’re here, too. Let’s cut a better deal for everybody.” So we morphed into a consulting firm that did things like developing a reconciliation framework with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, who are prepared to say they’re sorry for the work that they did being one of the biggest perpetrators of the Indian residential school enrolment admission process.
It’s about, “How do I change the basis of this country, and with no guilt, with no shame?” You didn’t take the same school as I did in northern Manitoba, but we learned the same things. We learned nothing about residential schools, I’m sure. We learned a little bit, maybe, about Jerry Potts or Jack Potts, but I doubt it. We heard and learned that Riel was a traitor. Flash forward a few years and a descendant of his, Dan Vandal, just got elected in the riding of Saint Boniface that Riel was twice elected to, but was never allowed to serve. So this country is changing.
I’m in “Toronto,” which is a name for the weir where the fish are driven into a point, near where I come from now, “Odawa,” which is a trading place name, in the country of “Kanata,” which means, “This is pure and this is sacred.” We’re living in aboriginal country. We are an aboriginal nation made up of all aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.
I’m really political about that, because I believe that seven out of every 10 Canadians in this room are dedicated and committed to making things work. The other three out of 10, if they understand the story that us aboriginal people are telling them, they too will be committed to making this work.
We’re not about the past. We’re about business; we’re about jobs; we’re about education. I want the same stuff as you and my kids do. My daughter wants an iPhone 6 just as badly as anybody else’s daughter here in this room who doesn’t have an iPhone 6. Let’s do that in this province. We’ve got a great province with some extreme disparities. Let’s close that gap, like the national chief says.
I feel like I should I run for politics. I’m sorry I’m getting all wound up here.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Freedman. That’s all the time—
Mr. Guy Freedman: I’m going to be all wired up, there.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much, Mr. Gates. Mr. Freedman, I’d like to thank you for being here and presenting today. I apologize if I got your first name—is it “Guy” or “guy”?
Mr. Guy Freedman: When we play hockey against each other, it’s “Guy” because you’ll be more afraid of me.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Okay. There we go.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Can I tell you this? I was the stick boy for Reggie Leach and Bobby Clarke growing up as a little boy in northern Manitoba. And those two teeth that Clarke doesn’t have? I don’t have them either.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Well, on that note, Mr. Freedman, I’ll try to figure it out myself, which one to use. I appreciate it very much.
We’re going to consider the concurrences at the end of this meeting. You’re welcome to stay.
Mr. Guy Freedman: Thank you, everybody.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much.
We’ll now move to concurrences. Our first nominee is Julie Di Lorenzo, nominated as member, Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. May I have Mr. Rinaldi?
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Mr. Chair, I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Julie Di Lorenzo, nominated as member, Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Any discussion? All those in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Our second intended appointment is Mr. Guy Freedman, nominated as member, Champlain Local Health Integration Network. May I have Mr. Rinaldi?
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Guy Freedman—whichever way; make sure we get the right person—nominated as member, Champlain Local Health Integration Network.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Any discussion? All those in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Congratulations to both our intended appointees. Ms. Di Lorenzo and Mr. Freedman, thank you very much for being here.
We have one deadline extension to consider: Cal McDonald, nominated as member, council of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario. It’s an extension to December 8, 2015. Do I have unanimous consent? We do? Thank you very much.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Put that thing down—that was too quick. I have new business for the committee.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Okay.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’m asking for unanimous consent to remove Ken Jeffers from the list of selections.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Do we have unanimous consent?
Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Why is that?
Mr. Wayne Gates: Well, we selected him and we pulled his name.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): So you no longer want to question.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Yes.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Okay. There’s a motion on the table to remove Kenneth Jeffers from the committee’s list. Do I have unanimous consent? Okay. Great. It is so done.
Mr. Wayne Gates: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. John Fraser): Thank you very much. The meeting is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 0958.
Tuesday 3 November 2015
Subcommittee report A-263
Intended appointments A-263
Ms. Julie Di Lorenzo A-263
Mr. Guy Freedman A-267
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair / Président
Mr. John Fraser (Ottawa South L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Mrs. Cristina Martins (Davenport L)
Mr. Robert Bailey (Sarnia–Lambton PC)
Mr. Vic Dhillon (Brampton West / Brampton-Ouest L)
Mr. John Fraser (Ottawa South L)
Mr. Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls ND)
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Ottawa–Orléans L)
Ms. Harinder Malhi (Brampton–Springdale L)
Mrs. Cristina Martins (Davenport L)
Mr. Randy Pettapiece (Perth–Wellington PC)
Mr. Lou Rinaldi (Northumberland–Quinte West L)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Arthur Potts (Beaches–East York L)
Ms. Daiene Vernile (Kitchener Centre / Kitchener-Centre L)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Mr. Andrew McNaught, research officer,