THE REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF PEEL

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE

MINUTES GRC-2008-5

The Government Relations Committee (GRC) met on June 26, 2008 at 11:07 a.m. in the 5th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton.

Members:

G. Carlson; A. Groves; P. Mullin; C. Parrish; J. Sanderson; A. Thompson

 

 

Members Absent:

S. Fennell; E. Kolb, due to vacation; G. Miles

 
Also Present:

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

RECOMMENDATION GRC-8-2008:

That the agenda for the June 26, 2008, Government Relations Committee meeting be approved.


3. REPORTS

a) Government Relations Updates:

i) Emergency Health Services Funding

Received

Peter Dundas, Director, Paramedic Services provided an update on the May 20, 2008 announcement by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care regarding $4.5 million in funding that will be made available to address paramedic offload delays through the hiring of nurses dedicated to ambulance patients.

Peter Dundas advised that the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is developing memorandums of agreement for municipalities to receive and manage the funds. Peter noted that he has confirmed with Ministry staff that all three Peel area hospitals have offload delays that need to be addressed. It is expected that the memorandums of agreement will be finalized over the next two weeks and until then, the details related to how the funds should be utilized will not be known.

Peter Dundas provided a copy of a letter to Regional Chair Kolb from Minister Smitherman dated May 29, 2008 indicating that the funding allocation to Peel would be up to $375,000. He noted that Peel had requested $681,408 to address the offload delay at all three hospitals, and that due to recent settlements by the Ontario Nursing Association which resulted in wage increases, the amount required by Peel has increased to approximately $800,000.

Peter Dundas stated that it is not yet known if the 2008 funding for Peel is to be an annualized amount and that if it is not, consideration will need to be given to how to best demonstrate that Peel needs the full requested funding amount.

Peter Dundas indicated that the 14 Emergency Services Providers intend to utilize the funds solely for the salary and wages of the dedicated nurses. He further noted that the Chief Administrative Officers of the three hospitals within Peel are committed to making the strategy work.

It needs to be determined how to best distribute the 2008 allocation amongst the three hospitals in Peel, with the goal of implementing the program by the fall, so that it is in place before the end of October which is typically when the offload delay situation is at its worst.

Councillor Groves inquired if there was opportunity for additional funding for paramedic offload delays through the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) and was advised by Peter Dundas that emergency medical services are not included in the LHIN mandate.

Councillor Mullin expressed concern regarding the sustainability of the funding and inquired why the funds were not directed to the hospitals and whether municipalities would be required to provide future funding through their budgets.

Peter Dundas responded that municipalities are responsible for paramedic services, not the hospitals, and that the additional nursing staff would be dedicated to patient offloads. He noted that the program will be piloted for one year and if there is no additional provincial funding, the program would end. He stressed the need to develop a good business case to continue the program and provincial funding by demonstrating the amount of time saved by enabling paramedics to return to the community sooner. He noted that the nurses will not be Regional employees and that municipalities will transfer funds to the hospitals for the additional nursing costs, based on performance agreements, to ensure that the nurses are not re-directed to other areas of the hospital. The agreements will be brought to the Emergency and Protective Services Committee (EPSC) for review.

Councillor Parrish inquired if the funds must be used for 12-hour nursing shifts or if municipalities could determine the shift durations in order to ensure coverage at peak periods at all three Peel area hospitals. Peter Dundas replied that options for using the available funds in the best possible manner will be considered by the Peel Halton Emergency Services Network.

Peter Dundas noted that staff will continue to measure the time the dedicated nurses spend with ambulance patients in order to demonstrate the amount of time paramedics would have been delayed.

David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer noted that the program will not generate short-term savings, however it will improve ambulance response times as more vehicles will be available to respond to calls.

Councillor Sanderson inquired if the cost per paramedic hour is known and was advised by Peter Dundas that paramedics earn $30.90 per hour, advance care paramedics earn approximately $34 per hour and that hourly vehicle operating costs, including two paramedics, is approximately $160.

 

ii) Meeting with Madeleine Meilleur, Minister, Community and Social Services, May 27, 2008

Received

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services Transition and Integration, advised that the meeting with Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services on May 27, 2008 was very positive and that the Minister was surprised by the complexity of the Region of Peel.

Janet Menard noted that the information regarding the composition of Peel and its location proved to be valuable as the Minister was not previously aware of the composition. Also, Peel responded to the Minister’s inquiry that the average household income is approximately $65,000; however this fact masks the reality that groups growing at the fastest rate are low income, unemployed and at increased risk of slipping into poverty, in particular, newcomers.

Janet Menard advised that the Minister was supportive of the recommendations submitted by Peel; observations regarding inequities among provinces, particularly Ontario and other provinces, in newcomer settlement funding seemed to resonate with the Minister and she made note of the recommendation to delay federal immigrant settlement funding for one year, thereby providing funding to province of settlement rather than province of landing. The Minister also congratulated Peel on the fact that Regional Council kept the savings from the uploaded Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Disability Program at the Regional level to support human services.

Councillor Parrish indicated the importance of continuing to raise awareness about the Peel population size, composition, growth and complexities of issues with Peel MPPs and the government

 

Item 3. a. v) was dealt with.

v) Immigration Settlement Activity (Secondary Migration) and Funding Research

Received

Norm McLeod, Manager, Strategic Social Policy, provided an overview of funding for immigration supports in Canada. He noted that the most recent census data reveals that Peel has rapidly increased its share of Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton immigration with a significant shift in the number of immigrants coming to Peel compared to Toronto. The percentage of immigrants in Peel is rapidly approaching that of Toronto and the percentage of visible minorities in Peel is now higher than that of Toronto.

The fastest growing segments of the Peel population are among those most vulnerable to low income including new immigrants, and the time lag for immigrants to match average Canadian incomes has increased.

The immigration funding agreement between the federal government and the province of Quebec differs from other provincial agreements, with its focus being on expanded provincial powers, as a result of the Quebec Accord, including control of immigration selection. Federal funding transfers to Quebec are unconditional and escalate automatically in proportion to growth. No province other than Quebec has a “per capita” formula, but all provinces make the comparison when negotiating.

The Manitoba and British Columbia agreements require funding and staff from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to be transferred directly to the province and are managed by the province based on federal programs and guidelines.

Manitoba has had success working with employers to attract immigrants with specific skills through what is called a Provincial Nominee Program. Ontario is pilot testing such a program.

The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) requires federal programs to be staffed and administered directly by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The province and municipalities, through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and Toronto, do have substantial influence over the design of the programs, although they do not receive transfers directly. COIA has meant a substantial increase in federal government support and other provinces, other than Quebec, are seeking to replicate this.

Norm McLeod advised that under the Immigration Settlement Adaptation Program (ISAP), immigrant services agencies within Peel have received increased funding. He also advised however that the community agencies do not have the planning capacity to take advantage of the increased funding in the timeframe provided. Consequently, significant underspending is anticipated before the COIA ends in 2010.

Norm McLeod overviewed the various proxies for measuring the extent to which immigrants who arrive in Quebec later settle in Peel. These measures would indicate that secondary migration from Quebec to Peel is not significantly different than from other provinces to Peel. He also emphasized that the Quebec government focuses on attracting francophones in its immigration programs.

Councillor Parrish indicated the information about secondary migration is still inconclusive and that a simple rule change should be put in place so that federal immigration support funding is delayed for one year to ensure it is directed to the jurisdiction that ends up providing the settlement service.

Councillor Parrish inquired about various means to enable immigrants’ success. Norm McLeod indicated that research is currently underway on how to help immigrants move out of “survival” type jobs.

Councillor Parrish requested staff to report to a future meeting of the Government Relations Committee with information on the success and challenges of previous employment subsidy programs, including the reasons for their success or failure.

Councillor Parrish commended Norm McLeod for his thorough presentation and suggested the presentation be included on a General Committee agenda for the benefit of all members of Council.

 

Item 3. a. vi) was dealt with.

vi) Community Response to Provincial Poverty Reduction Consultations (Oral)

Discussion led by Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, Transition & Integration

Received

Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services Transition and Integration, provided an update on the Provincial Poverty Reduction Community Consultation session noting the session was one of 14 being held across the province. She advised that the results of the sessions will be posted on the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website.

She also advised that Minister Matthews led the consultation session and was very engaging and involved in the discussions. Community agencies in attendance at the session delivered consistent messages regarding the challenges faced in Peel.

Janet Menard advised that Charles Sousa, MPP, Mississauga South, has indicated that he will be hosting a community consultation session in his riding and the Peel Poverty Action Group is in discussions with the Mississauga and Brampton Labour Boards to sponsor a session in Brampton on July 24, 2008.

Janet Menard noted that consultation session participants from Peel received a letter from Linda Jeffrey, MPP, stating that she was very proud of the calibre of discussion at the session as well as the creative solutions that were proposed.

Councillor Groves departed at 12:30 p.m.

iii) MPP/MP Reception held on June 12, 2008

Received

Councillor Parrish advised that she received good feedback from reception attendees noting that the collaborative, team atmosphere was appreciated and they would look forward to a similar event again.

Councillor Mullin noted that it was unfortunate that some federal and provincial politicians did not attend the event, noting that the evening was very well planned and the presentations were short and focussed.

 

iv) Peel Work Book

Received

Councillor Parrish stressed the importance of continually updating the work book as new information becomes available and suggested that consideration be given to distributing the updated workbook to all agencies and groups who may benefit from the knowledge.

 

v) Immigration Settlement Activity (Secondary Migration) and Funding Research

This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting.

 

vi) Community Response to Provincial Poverty Reduction Consultations (Oral)

Discussion led by Janet Menard, Executive Director, Human Services, Transition & Integration

This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting.

 

b) Policy and Political Updates (Oral)

Discussion led by Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives

Received

Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives, noted that Anthony Irving of the Devon Group was unable to attend the meeting due to a family emergency and had submitted his presentation for discussion.

On June 20, 2008, it was announced that the Honourable George Smitherman would be leading the “super ministry” of Infrastructure and Energy with the Honourable David Caplan taking over the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The Devon Group suggests the Government Relations Committee meet with Minister Caplan to inform him of issues affecting Peel residents.

Minister Smitherman is also responsible for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Ontario Realty Corporation and health capital projects. The Honourable Gerry Philips will become the Chair of Cabinet and Minister without Portfolio.

Councillor Parrish suggested that the Government Relations Committee prepare to host a Queen’s Park reception and a reception/meeting for Peel MPs, particularly focussing on immigration and housing, in the fall, and meetings with the newly appointed provincial Ministers in the fall, to bring them up to date on the activities undertaken in Peel.

Curry Clifford suggested that staff develop a broader stakeholder relations and communication plan over the summer for distribution to the Government Relations Committee in September, noting that suggestions regarding these activities would be included. David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, suggested that planning for a Fall Queen’s Park day will need to get underway this summer.

 

c) Other Advocacy Activities – Related Provincial-Regional Relations Update

Received



4. 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

Received

Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Initiatives, noted that the information contained in the presentation made by Wayne Fyffe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Valley Hospital, on behalf of the Strong Communities Coalition, to the January 24, 2008 Regional Council meeting, has been included in the updated workbook.

 

b) Social Housing Funding Priorities

Received

Councillor Mullin noted the need to examine the long term costs of maintaining the existing social housing supply and determine what funds may be available to develop new projects. She requested that information regarding CMHC mortgage interest payments be included as an item to be discussed at the fall receptions, noting that municipalities could utilize the accumulated interest for the creation of new housing. Currently, the CMHC surplus is directed to general federal revenue accounts.

Councillor Carlson inquired if the Region would be permitted to issue low-interest, tax-free municipal bonds to raise funds for social housing.

Dan Labrecque, Chief Financial Officer noted that they may be a viable tool for raising funds but the issue was rejected by the Federal government a couple of years ago.

Councillor Parrish requested that staff prepare a brief on the potential success or failure of such an initiative.

Councillor Mullin noted that the information being prepared by staff regarding CMHC mortgage interest should also include other potential strategies that could be presented to MPs, including details regarding the issuance of municipal bonds. She requested that the information to be compiled by staff be considered at the next Government Relations Committee meeting.

 

c) Peel Housing Corporation - Directions to Staff

Received



5. COMMUNICATIONS
- Nil


6. RELATED ITEMS OF INTEREST

a) Town of Markham Second Suites and Strategy Options Information Summary Report

Deferred to the next meeting of the Government Relations Committee

Councillor Parrish distributed a copy of the Town of Markham Second Suites and Strategy Options Information Summary Report which investigates the options for a strategy that would apply wider zoning permission for second suites, in an effort to address the affordable housing shortage. Councillor Parrish requested that members of the Government Relations Committee review the information for discussion at the next meeting of the Committee.

 

7. NEXT STEPS

a) Proposed Recommendations for Strategic Actions for Spring - Fall 2008

Marilyn Hood noted that a communications plan for the Government Relations Committee would articulate the activities captured in the work plan in a logical sequence and include awareness building of the diversity within the Region of Peel.

Councillor Thompson advised that there may be a federal election in the fall and if that is the case, the Committee would benefit from undertaking a similar awareness campaign as was done prior to the provincial election.

Councillor Mullin noted that there is value in preparing a business case regarding the issues of immigration and social housing and suggested that it may be appropriate for Regional Chair Kolb and Councillor Parrish, as Chair of the Government Relations Committee, to present the business case to federal Ministers and MPs in Ottawa.

Councillor Parrish suggested that Councillors Mullin or Prentice could also attend such a meeting, given their expertise in the area of housing.

Councillor Parrish indicated that, subject to Committee approval, she would work with staff over the summer months to develop a communication and stakeholder relations plan, without the need for the Committee to meet during the summer.

Councillor Thompson suggested that a report from the Government Relations Committee to Regional Council should be considered to highlight recent provincial and federal funding announcements and advising where the shortfalls still remain, to advise Regional Council on how the Committee is achieving success in its role to advance Peel’s priority human services issues with government.

Councillor Mullin inquired as to the best way to engage the public and was advised by Marilyn Hood, Director, Communication Services that the success of public communications usually depend on timing of the messaging, the impact of the issue on the public and the inclination of people to become involved.

Councillors Sanderson and Mullin noted that messaging could be included in Councillor newsletters.

Councillor Parrish requested that staff prepare a template of key issues that could be provided to Regional Councillors for inclusion in their fall newsletters.

RECOMMENDATION GRC-9-2008:

That, as a result of support received from Peel area MPPs and MPs in attendance at a reception held on June 12, 2008, the Government Relations Committee promote the establishment of Peel MPP and MP Caucuses in partnership with Regional Councillors;

And further, that the Government Relations Committee continue to effectively advance the Region of Peel human services and funding issues and to identify opportunities for partnerships to address those issues with both the provincial and federal governments;

And further, that the Chair of the Government Relations Committee work with Regional staff to develop a communication and stakeholder relations plan, factoring in a response to the announcements arising from the Provincial Municipal Fiscal Services Review and the upcoming conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, for presentation to the Government Relations Committee at its meeting to be held on September 25, 2008;

And further, that the communication and stakeholder relations plan include plans for a Queen’s Park day as well as an event to convey the issues of the Region of Peel regarding social housing and immigration, and potential related pilot projects, to Peel area MPs.



8. OTHER BUSINESS - Nil

 

9. NEXT MEETING

RECOMMENDATION GRC-10-2008:

That the Government Relations Committee meetings scheduled for July 10, 2008 and August 14, 2008 be cancelled.



10. ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 1:07 p.m.