GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE
The Government Relations Committee (GRC) met on March 20, 2008 at 12:18 p.m. in the 5 th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton.
E. Kolb, G. Carlson, A. Groves, G. Miles, P. Mullin¨ ; C. Parrish, A. Thompson
S. Fennell , due to vacation; J. Sanderson
Councillor Morrison; Councillor Prentice; D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; D. Labrecque, Chief Financial Officer; C. Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives; M. Hood, Director, Communication Services; D. Hodkin, Acting Project Manager, Strategic Policy; C. Thomson, Committee Clerk
Chaired by Councillor C. Parrish.
1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
That the agenda for the March 20, 2008, Government Relations Committee meeting be amended to include a News Release from the Ontario Ministry of Finance titled “Investing in Ontario Communities”;
And further, that the agenda for the March 20, 2008 Government Relations Committee meeting be amended to include a News Release from the Office of the Premier titled “New Measures to Tackle Poverty, Build Opportunity”;
And further, that the agenda for the March 20, 2008 Government Relations Committee meeting be amended to include a communication from Charles Sousa, MPP, Mississauga South, to residents of the City of Mississauga, titled “We need a Partner – Not an Adversary”;
And further, that the agenda for the March 20, 2008 Government Relations Committee meeting be approved, as amended.
See also Items Related to Communications – Items 4a-4c inclusive
a) Review of Key Issues Arising from the Minutes of the Government Relations Committee meeting held on February 21, 2008
Janette Smith, Commissioner of Health Services provided an overview of the effect of paramedic offload delays in Peel hospital emergency departments, as described in Issue Brief Number 5. In 2007, Peel Paramedics waited a total of 37,000 hours in hospital emergency departments, at a cost to Peel totaling more than $6 million. The high rate of population growth in Peel (24,000 new residents per year) adds to the increasing emergency call volume faced by paramedics annually.
Janette Smith noted that although long-term systemic approaches are required to address the inadequacies in the health system that result in misplaced use of paramedic resources, Issue Brief Number 5 includes an interim approach to obtain Ministry support for a nursing staff offload proposal being developed in Peel. It is intended to ease paramedic offloading and support a needed level of emergency care.
Councillor Mullin suggested that without the support of area hospital Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to make paramedic offload delays a priority, any such efforts would not be effective and she suggested that the CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital be invited to meet with the other area hospital CEOs to describe the measures that have been successfully implemented at St. Joseph’s.
Janette Smith advised that the CEO of Brampton Civic Hospital has obtained, and is implementing, the model from St. Joseph’s.
Councillor Miles suggested that hospital staff be consulted as to steps that could be taken to assist in moving patients from stretchers to hospital beds.
Councillor Parrish requested that the Commissioner of Health Services condense Issue Brief Number 5 to place a greater emphasis on the data that supports current needs, wasted dollars and Code 78 Capacity situations. She further requested that the Brief be amended to include highlights of the concerns, a description of current best practices and a clear explanation of what Peel is asking for, including approved funding for a Registered Nurse dedicated to paramedic offload. Councillor Parrish directed staff to provide the updated Issue Brief to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Government Relations Committee (GRC) within two weeks.
Councillor Mullin noted that the issues being discussed regarding paramedic offload delays have been the subject of numerous discussions at meetings of the Emergency and Protective Services Committee (EPSC) and inquired if there is a proposed solution that could be promoted. She further requested that the GRC be kept informed of the status of the implementation of the St. Joseph’s model at the Brampton Civic Hospital.
Janette Smith advised that funds allocated for a registered nurse to take custody of paramedic patients upon arrival at the hospital, could potentially reduce paramedic offloading provided the nurse is dedicated to paramedic offload and not reassigned to other areas of the hospital. She further highlighted the challenge faced by hospitals in moving patients from emergency room beds due to the shortage of beds in the hospital.
Councillor Morrison concurred that solutions need to be proposed that would address the issue of paramedic offload delays in Ontario and suggested that provincial officials would be willing to consider creative solutions that do not require significant expenditures.
Councillor Prentice inquired if there are operational deficiencies in the ambulance services that could be addressed. Janette Smith advised that staff are working with paramedics to identify efficiencies in the system.
Councillor Morrison noted that the EPSC has requested that the Region of Peel take responsibility for the Central Ambulance Communications Centre (CACC).
Janette Smith advised that the triage system used in Toronto functions better than in other areas and suggested that the appropriate staff at the CACC be encouraged to amend the current system rather than transfer responsibility. She further noted that a steering committee has been formed to address some of the concerns regarding the CACC and that Peter Dundas, Director, Paramedic and Ambulance Services has been invited to participate.
Councillor Parrish requested that information regarding issues with the CACC be included in Issue Brief Number 5.
David Hodkin, Acting Project Manager, Strategic Policy reviewed Issue Brief Number 4 regarding Immigration, noting that funding has not kept pace with growth in the Region.
Councillor Parrish requested that Issue Brief Number 4 be revised to include data related to transfer payments received in Quebec and British Columbia compared to those received in Ontario. She further requested that Issue Brief Number 4 be revised to highlight that, of the $1,600 per person received by the Province from the Federal Government for immigrant funding, municipalities receive only half of that amount. She stressed the importance of data to back up our messaging, stating that the Devon Group would utilize the briefs to update the information being presented to various officials and stakeholders.
Keith Ward, Commissioner of Human Services and General Manager, Peel Living, distributed additional information related to Issue Brief Number 6 regarding Housing.
He explained that because housing provider capital reserve contributions were (and are) directly reflected in operating subsidy requirements, the government direction has been to hold contributions to artificially low levels and, at times, to place a moratorium on contributions. Further, there has been no requirement for reserve fund investments, consequently, reserves were inadequate for future needs at the time of transfer to municipalities, and the potential for favourable compounding of interest earnings were forever compromised.
Keith Ward stated that the existing social housing stock is an important part of the Canadian social safety net, and continued investment in maintenance would prevent the net from unraveling at a far lower public cost than the obligation to assist people to find alternate housing. He stated that we cannot afford to lose existing social housing through neglect. Keith Ward described potential solutions as follows:
With respect to the Special Priority Policy (SPP) which legally requires that priority housing be given to victims of abuse, he noted that the fundamental issue is a lack of sufficient social housing – both permanent and transitional (with supports). He further reviewed a list of proposed solutions to the province-wide challenges with meeting this legal requirement:
Keith Ward emphasized the burden the Victims of Family Violence policy places on social housing providers noting that even if a tenant under the policy is proven to have been dishonest with respect to their status, they still retain their tenancy.
Councillor Parrish expressed the need for both emergency housing for such victims as well as transitional housing that includes additional supports to reduce the reliance on social housing. She further suggested that the challenges related to the provision of transitional housing and social housing should be presented to provincial officials as a package to seek their assistance in unraveling the issues.
Marilyn Hood, Director, Communications Services noted that supports for victims of family violence could decline due to the lack of social housing and that this would not be desirable to the Province given their emphasis over the years in encouraging people to escape such abusive situations.
Councillor Miles stressed the need for alternative choices for women and children fleeing abusive situations.
Councillor Mullin concurred with Councillor Miles, noting that the social housing atmosphere does not provide the additional assistance needed for these victims to be able to move on. In addition, she noted that transitional housing allows the municipality to control and secure the property.
Councillor Parrish requested that the Commissioner of Human Services and General Manager, Peel Living, amend Issue Brief Number 6 to request the expansion of transitional housing and to include both short-term and long-term “fixes”.
Items Related to Communications Item 4c) was dealt with.
c) Chares Sousa, MPP, Mississauga South, Providing Copies of Communication, titled “We need a Partner – Not an Adversary” to residents of the City of Mississauga
See also Approval of Agenda
Anthony Irving, Senior Consultant, The Devon Group advised that the Province recently announced funding for three priority programs as a start to its poverty reduction plan. Preliminary information received indicates that the Region of Peel will receive $5,526,735 for social housing repairs. Additional details are expected to be announced March 31, 2008. He suggested that if the Region of Peel has any projects that are ready to commence, that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing be invited to the project site to make a housing announcement.
Keith Ward, Commissioner of Human Services and General Manager, Peel Living, noted that Regional Council recently approved funding in the amount of approximately $5 million for urgent repairs to two housing providers with depleted reserves and that the project is currently out for tender. He undertook to provide The Devon Group with additional information related to the two projects.
b) MPP/MP Reception: Discussion of Event Objectives (Oral)
Anthony Irving, Senior Consultant, The Devon Group, distributed a Government Relations Status Report. He reviewed recommendations for next steps which include calling immediate attention to paramedic offload delays and supporting the provincial poverty agenda.
Anthony Irving noted that a Cabinet Committee on Poverty was established and suggested that the Regional Chair and the Chair of GRC make a delegation to provide an overview of the situation in Peel. He further advised that the Cabinet Committee membership includes key Ministers and provides another opportunity to get messages from Peel heard.
With respect to outreach activities, Anthony Irving suggested that the proposed reception to be held at either the Heritage Complex or the Rose Theatre and that it be held on a Thursday to coincide with the Queen’s Park schedule.
Subsequent to further discussion by the Committee, it was agreed that Region of Peel Councillors, the Executive Management Team and staff involved with the Government Relations Committee would be invited to the reception. In addition, it was agreed that a range of dates and modest venues be explored.
Councillor Mullin departed at 2:12 p.m.
c) Queen’s Park Reception: Discussion of Event Objectives (Oral)
Councillor Parrish noted that a reception to be held in the fall at Queen’s Park would be part of Phase B of the Government Relations Committee outreach activities and would provide opportunity for MPPs outside of the Region of Peel to be apprised of concerns regarding the underfunding of human services.
d) Other Advocacy Activities (Oral)
Deferred to the next Government Relations Committee meeting
a) News Release: From the Ontario Ministry of Finance, dated March 12, 2008, titled “Investing in Ontario Communities”
See also Approval of Agenda
b) News Release: From the Office of the Premier, dated March 17, 2008, titled “New Measures to Tackle Poverty, Build Opportunity”
See also Approval of Agenda
c) Charles Sousa, MPP, Mississauga South, Communication received March 12, 2008, titled “We need a Partner – Not an Adversary” Distributed to residents of the City of Mississauga
This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting
5. REQUESTS FROM REGIONAL COUNCIL FOR GOVERNMENT RELATIONS SUPPORT
a) Resolution 2008-6 from the January 24, 2008 Regional Council meeting regarding Growth Funding for Health and Human Services
Deferred to the next Government Relations Committee meeting
6. OTHER BUSINESS - Nil
7. NEXT MEETING
That the Government Relations Committee meeting scheduled for April 3, 2008 be cancelled.
The next meeting date of the Government Relations Committee is scheduled for Thursday, May 15, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting adjourned at 2:20 p.m.