THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF PEEL

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE

MINUTES GRC-2008-1

The Government Relations Committee (GRC) met on January 24, 2008 at 2:01 p.m. in the 5 th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton.

Members:

E. Kolb, G. Carlson, S. Fennell, G. Miles, C. Parrish, J. Sanderson, A. Thompson

 
Members Absent: A. Groves
 
Also Present:

R. K. Gillespie, Acting Chief Administrative Officer; D. Labrecque, Chief Financial Officer; J. Smith, Commissioner, Health Services; J. Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, Transition & Integration; C. Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives; M. Hood, Director, Communication Services; E. Zamparo, Manager, Financial Policy and Strategic Analysis, Finance; R. Elliott, Manager, Development Financing; Corporate Finance; G. Cristiano, Social Policy Analyst, Human Services; C. Thomson, Committee Clerk

Chaired by Councillor C. Parrish.

1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil

2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA

RECOMMENDATION GRC-1-2008:

That the agenda for the January 24, 2008, Government Relations Committee meeting be approved.

3. REPORTS

a) Review of Action Items Arising from the Minutes of the Government Relations Committee (GRC) meeting held on November 29, 2007 (Oral)

Received

Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives, noted that at the November 29, 2007 meeting of the Committee, staff undertook to share the final report of the Families First initiative with the Government Relations Committee, prior to it being considered at General Committee so that a strategy could be developed for the public release of the report.

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, Transition & Integration, provided an overview of the Families First initiative noting that the program provides an array of supports to sole-support parents who receive social assistance, including financial assistance, employment support, child care, recreation programs and public health support. Participants are assessed at the commencement of the program in the areas of mental and physical well being, with further assessments occurring after 6, 12 and 18 months as well as upon completion of the program.

Regional staff have retained a researcher through the University of Waterloo to provide an assessment of the impact of the integrated approach of the Families First initiative. Although the final report has not yet been finalized, interim program results are very positive with Families First participants securing jobs at a faster rate, enrolling in new educational courses and leaving social assistance sooner than average recipients.

Janet Menard noted that significant interest in the program has been expressed at the provincial level and it is hoped that the results of the research will have a major impact on future social policy.

Councillor Miles suggested that further follow up should be conducted to ascertain if program participants remain off social assistance and maintain healthy lifestyles over the long term.

Councillor Fennell inquired, from a government relations perspective, if there were any barriers to the success of the program that the Committee could work toward eliminating by addressing it at the federal or provincial level.

Curry Clifford advised that Committee discussions about how to advance these Regional goals would assist in developing a work plan for the Committee.

Regional Chair Kolb noted that the work plan for the Committee should include issues for which the Government Relations Committee can develop key messaging to bring to the attention of organizations such as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and other orders of government.

Councillor Parrish stated that the Government Relations Committee needs to focus on the key message that 44 cents of every dollar is spent on social programs, leaving a significant shortfall in the provision of hard services. She stated that while the Families First initiative is very successful, it should be fully funded at the provincial level. Councillor Parrish suggested that the main objective of the Committee is to eliminate the downloading of the financing of human services to municipalities.

b)
Update on Meeting with J. Watson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Oral)
    Discussion led by Carolyn Parrish, Chair, Government Relations Committee (GRC)

Received

Councillor Parrish advised that she and Chair Kolb attended a meeting with J. Watson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and she found him to be very knowledgeable with respect to municipal issues. The main focus for the Minister will be on alleviating poverty, with a particular focus on housing.

Councillor Parrish noted that Minister Watson commended the Council of the Region of Peel for its decision to retain the funds resulting from the uploading of ODSP and Pooling rather than transferring the savings to the area municipalities.

c)
Overview of Orientation Binders (Oral)
    Discussion led by Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Executive Office

Received

The orientation binder was reviewed by the Chair and members were requested to bring the materials with them to future meetings.

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, Transition & Integration, advised that CBC television is working to establish a presence in the coverage of GTA/905 issues and requested a briefing from Peel staff on issues affecting the Region.

Janet Menard provided the “Faces of Peel” report to CBC representatives, which was developed through the Public Information Campaign Ad hoc Committee, and noted that staff from the CBC were very impressed with the level of detail included in the presentation.

Councillor Parrish requested that in the future, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Government Relations Committee be advised of any meetings at which Human Services funding issues are to be discussed.

d)
Queen’s Park Update (Oral)
      Discussion led by Bob Richardson, President, The Devon Group

Received

Bob Richardson, President, The Devon Group, stated that political staffing changes at Queen’s Park are almost complete and the focus has now turned to planning for a Caucus retreat on February 4 and 5, 2008.

Councillor Parrish suggested that an updated information booklet should be prepared for members of Cabinet to take to the retreat.

Councillor Parrish stressed the important role a “905 Caucus” could play in garnering support for such initiatives and suggested that they be invited to receive a briefing of the issues prior to the February retreat.

Councillor Fennell noted that, generally, residents do not know what level of government provides which services and that a message could be included with the tax bills highlighting that if certain costs were uploaded, there would be no need for tax increases.

Councillor Parrish concurred with Councillor Fennell and suggested that in addition to an insert in the tax bill, the Government Relations Committee host a meeting at the Rose Theatre in Brampton for Peel area MPs and MPPs, and stakeholders to be briefed on issues of importance to Peel and the 905 areas, to thank the provincial government for uploading the Ontarians with Disabilities Support Payments (ODSP) and to receive the updated workbook.

Councillor Parrish suggested that staff encourage ethnic media outlets in Peel to attend meetings of Regional Council. Councillor Fennell stated that ethnic community leaders should be made aware of the concerns of Peel so that they too can pressure their provincial representatives to continue uploading human services costs.

e) Proposed Work Plan for the Government Relations Committee

Received

Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives, distributed copies of a draft work plan for the Government Relations Committee that included a list of issues in which the Committee may want to involve themselves.

Marilyn Hood, Director, Communication Services stated that the assistance of the Committee is required to identify three or four issues for which staff will prepare overviews including the provincial position, key community stakeholders and the position of the Region of Peel, to be used as the main focus for providing updates to Regional Council. This approach will help ensure consistency of messaging, help to focus communications and may engage Regional Council in the issues.

Bob Richardson, President, The Devon Group, advised that government relations plans typically include the following components and suggested the Committee consider a similar approach:

4. COMMUNICATIONS - Nil


5. OTHER BUSINESS - Nil

6. NEXT MEETING

The next meeting date of the Government Relations Committee is scheduled for Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 11:00 a.m., Regional Administrative Headquarters, 5th Floor Boardroom, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton, Ontario.

Please forward regrets to Christine Thomson, Committee Clerk, (905) 791-7800, extension 4582 or to christine.thomson@peelregion.ca.

7. ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.