THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF PEEL

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE

MINUTES GRC-2008-4

The Government Relations Committee (GRC) met on May 15, 2008 at 11:20 a.m. in the 5 th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton.

Members:

G. Carlson; E. Kolb; P. Mullin; C. Parrish; A. Thompson

 

 

Members Absent:

S. Fennell; A. Groves; G. Miles, due to a personal matter; J. Sanderson

 
Also Present:

Councillor Morrison; Councillor Prentice; D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; D. Labrecque, Chief Financial Officer; J. Menard, Executive Director, Transition and Integration, Human Services; C. Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives; M. Hood, Director, Communication Services; D. Hodkin, Acting Project Manager, Strategic Policy; G. Naipaul-Denton, Senior Public Affairs Associate; C. Thomson, Committee Clerk

Chaired by Councillor C. Parrish.

1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil


2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA

RECOMMENDATION GRC-6-2008:

That the agenda for the May 15, 2008, Government Relations Committee meeting be approved.


3. DELEGATIONS/PRESENTATIONS

a) Shelley White, Executive Director, United Way of Peel, Discussing the Purpose, Objectives, Priorities and Advocacy Strategy for the Peel Poverty Strategy Committee

Received

Shelley White, Executive Director, United of Way Peel advised that the Region of Peel has been selected as one of 13 consultation sites in the province for the Provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy. The dates of the consultations have not yet been released.

Shelley White provided an overview of the Peel Provincial Poverty Strategy Committee (PPPSC) whose purpose is to provide the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction with information about the incidence of poverty in Peel and its impact; provide the Cabinet Committee with recommendations for the provincial poverty reduction strategy, and; develop a poverty strategy for Peel. The PPPSC is chaired by the Region of Peel and includes representation from the United Way of Peel, Town of Caledon, City of Mississauga and several community agencies within the Region. Shelley White noted that the Committee would welcome representation from the City of Brampton, Peel Health and local school boards.

Shelley White advised that the PPPSC expects its report to the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction to be completed by May 22, 2008 and be available for the community consultation sessions.

The key messages arising from the PPPSC are as follows:

  1. The Peel Provincial Poverty Strategy Committee supports the recommendations of Campaign 2000 and urges the provincial government to create a plan that:

    a. Addresses good jobs at liveable wages
    b. Includes a strong income support program
    c. Provides access to early learning and child care
    d. Provides access to affordable housing
    e. Provides access to education, training and life-long learning

  2. A provincial plan for poverty must be a comprehensive multi-year coordinated plan with a significant financial investment and enough flexibility to allow regions to adapt initiatives based on unique circumstances.

  3. As documented in John Stapleton’s 2007 report titled “Why is it so Tough to Get Ahead?” a coordinated, comprehensive model should require all relevant ministries to work together to eliminate the disincentives and barriers that are preventing people from becoming self-reliant.

  4. Peel’s rapid population growth is primarily due to immigrant and racialized communities who are most vulnerable to poverty. This rapid population growth, combined with inadequate funding for social services means Peel’s ability to break the cycle of poverty and provide for the population is seriously at risk.

Shelley White noted that the PPPSC recommendations build on the key messages and call upon the provincial government to:

i) implement the Campaign 2000 recommendations;
ii) invest in initiatives that support the full and equitable socio-economic integration of immigrant and racialized communities;
iii) set measurable targets and timelines with the aim of achieving a 25 per cent reduction in the child poverty rate within five years;
iv) address the continuing shortfall of funding to Peel, currently $298 million, in order to increase accessibility to important services and programs;
v) create a social purpose enterprise strategy as the cornerstone of the poverty reduction plan.

Shelley White explained that a social purpose enterprise is a business focussed on teaching individuals in low income situations, life and job skills in a business sense that allows them to learn marketable skills in a supportive environment.

In response to a question from Chair Kolb, Shelley White advised that the $298 million noted in recommendation iv) was provided from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, using a formula developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer noted that the $298 million does not include funding shortfalls related to human and health services provided by the Region of Peel and he suggested that those figures should be included in the amount noted in the recommendation.

The questions developed by the Cabinet Committee on Poverty for consideration at the consultation sessions were distributed. Councillor Prentice requested that the answers provided by the various groups at the sessions be provided to the Government Relations Committee and suggested the Committee could add to the responses.

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Transition and Integration, Human Services advised that it is expected the consultation sessions will be conducted through round table discussions, approximately three hours in length, with no formal presentations. She further advised that local MPPs are being encouraged to host their own consultations.

Councillor Parrish stated that it is important to stress, at every opportunity, that Peel is unique due to its rapid growth and diverse population. These factors make accreditation programs for newcomers very important in Peel and programs that subsidize wages for newcomers to assist them in finding work in their professional fields should be strongly encouraged.

Councillor Parrish advised that the Government Relations Committee workbook is being updated with current figures and requested that staff provide a copy to Shelley White as soon as it is available. She noted the workbook emphasizes that Ontario is the only Canadian province that funds social services through property taxes. Councillor Parrish requested that the PPPSC include that information in their report to the Cabinet Committee.

Shelley White commended the Region of Peel for establishing a Government Relations Committee and thanked the Committee for collaborating with its community partners.


4. REPORTS

a) Economic Update: State of the Economy and Potential Impacts on Provincial and Federal Directions (Oral)
    Discussion led by Dan Labrecque, Chief Financial Officer

Received

Rob Elliott, Manager, Development Financing, highlighted the many factors that influence the economic performance of Peel including, energy costs at the international level; growth in output and employment at both the national and provincial levels; and local attractiveness to businesses and residents.

In 2007, the Peel economy benefitted from the stable macroeconomic environment and local economic conditions continued to facilitate growth. However, broad challenges remained including weakness in the manufacturing sector, sustained slowing in the housing sector and rapid population growth, driven primarily by the growth in the immigrant population, including recent immigrants.

The Peel economy has shown some resilience but is likely to continue to face challenges, particularly given the importance of the manufacturing sector, which is the largest employer in Peel and accounts for approximately 10 per cent of Ontario exports, mostly from the auto sector. As well, the ability of Ontario to export manufactured goods is being negatively impacted largely as a result of the appreciated Canadian dollar and increased crude oil prices.

In 2007, the Peel unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent was higher than that of the rest of Ontario at 6.4 per cent. More striking was the comparison of the unemployment rate for Canadian-born workers in Ontario at 4.4 per cent to that of recent immigrants to Ontario (arrived in the last five years) at 11.9 per cent. The presentation further highlighted data from the 2006 Census which showed a total population increase for Peel of 17 per cent and an immigrant population increase of 32 per cent.

Chair Kolb noted that the presentation contains good data to support the message of the Government Relations Committee and illustrates where the dots need to be connected. He agreed with the statements made by Councillor Parrish regarding the benefits of a wage subsidy program, noting that the costs over six months of such a program would be less than Ontario Works costs over the same period.

Regional Chair Kolb noted the correlation between the challenges faced by new immigrants, the economic challenges of the Region, and the inadequate settlement funding Ontario receives from the federal government.

Councillor Parrish agreed with Chair Kolb that the hard data presented by staff supports the position of Premier McGuinty that Ontario does not receive its fair share of federal transfer payments. In addition, she suggested that if immigrant settlement transfer payments were delayed one year, and allocated based on where immigrants have settled, areas such as Peel would benefit.

Councillor Prentice inquired if there is data to show the number of immigrants who settle in the Region of Peel after arriving in another part of the country and was advised by David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, that as far as he is aware, such data is not published. This understanding was shared by the Committee Chair. He noted however, that there is data that shows immigration rates by Province, and population trends by Province, and a simple research project could be undertaken to determine if secondary migration is occurring between Quebec and other provinces after immigrants land.

RECOMMENDATION GRC-7-2008:

That staff contact Professor H. Kitchen, Trent University, or other researchers, to request that a study be conducted to determine if secondary migration is occurring between Quebec and other provinces after immigrants arrive in the country, with the costs of the study to be funded from the approved 2008 Government Relations Committee budget.

b) Debrief: Meeting with the Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Regarding Paramedic Offload Delay Issues

Received

Councillor Parrish advised that she attended the meeting with Minister Smitherman, along with Mayor Morrison and Chair Kolb. The Minister was very well versed on the subject of paramedic offload delays and the tone of the meeting was positive. It is expected that the Minister will be announcing three pilot projects to be undertaken in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel where a nurse, funded by the Province, will be assigned to conduct separate triage of paramedic patients in hospitals, thereby enabling paramedics to offload their patients faster.

Item 4d was dealt with.

d) 2008 Workplan Review: Priority Actions for 2008
    Discussion led by Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives and Anthony Irving, Senior Consultant, The Devon Group

Received

Anthony Irving, Senior Consultant, The Devon Group, reviewed current provincial initiatives that are impacting Peel including the May 12, 2008 announcement that the Ontario government is investing $27.4 million in 40 bridge training programs to help newcomers get jobs in their field quickly. The federal government is contributing $8.1 million in funding. The total funding for the Greater Toronto Area is $14,139,542.

The Devon Group is continuing to follow up on invitations to the Peel MP/MPP reception, noting that six out of nine MPPs have responded positively.

c) MPP/MP June 12 Reception: Program Outline and Workbook

Received

Councillor Mullin suggested that slide 10 of the Workbook should include accomplishments made by Peel when it was still in the housing business to highlight that when funding was adequate, we were industry leaders.

Councillor Mullin further requested that the Workbook be amended to include information on the amount of interest that Peel must pay to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as a contributing factor in the housing funding crisis.

Councillor Prentice suggested that Regional Councillors who have been active in particular areas of advocacy with respect to Regional programs, should be included in the briefing session to be held prior to the reception.

Councillor Parrish noted that the briefing session will be very brief and concise and that all members of Regional Council are encouraged to attend the reception.

d) 2008 Workplan Review: Priority Actions for 2008
    Discussion led by Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives and Anthony Irving, Senior Consultant, The Devon Group

This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting

e) Other Advocacy Activities (Oral)
    Discussion led by Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives

Deferred to the June 26, 2008 Government Relations Committee meeting


5. COMMUNICATIONS
- Nil


6. 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 June 26, 2008 Government Relations Committee meeting

b) Social Housing Funding Priorities

Deferred to the June 26, 2008 Government Relations Committee meeting


7. OTHER BUSINESS
- Nil


8. NEXT MEETING

The next meeting date of the Government Relations Committee is scheduled for Thursday, June 26, 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.


9. ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 1:04 p.m.