The Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) met on November 5, 2009, at 11:10 a.m. in the 5 th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Suite A, Brampton.
E. Kolb; E. Moore; M. Morrison; P. Saito; J. Sanderson; A. Thompson
Members Absent: M. Prentice, due to vacation
R. Paterak, Regional Councillor; V. Arora, Community Outreach and Liaison, Office of Dr. Ruby Dhalla, MP; J. Mesec, Community Liaison, Office of Dr. Ruby Dhalla, MP; D. Reader, Government Relations, City of Brampton; D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; N. Trim, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Corporate Services; J. Menard, Commissioner of Human Services; C. Clifford, Director, Strategic Innovation and Policy; G. Malhotra, Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Partnership, Human Services; D. Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy; L. Rubin, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor; G. Naipaul, Public Affairs Associate; C. Thomson, Committee Clerk
Chaired by Councillor A. Thompson.
1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
That the agenda for the November 5, 2009 Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee meeting, be approved.
a) Approach to Communicating Region of Peel’s Public Policy Initiatives with Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Parliament (Oral)
Discussion led by Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Innovation and Policy
Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Innovation and Policy, stated that methods for providing information related to local issues to Peel-area MPs and MPPs will be addressed as part of the broader relationship building efforts with them. He noted that the monthly Regional newsletters that were previously provided to local federal and provincial officials do not appear to be effective and staff will be working to determine a new communication strategy for discussion at the January, 2010 meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC).
Councillor Saito requested that staff consult with the MP and MPP office staff to determine their preference for receiving information related to the Region of Peel.
Councillor Thompson noted that feedback received indicated a preference for one-page bulleted summaries of issues that are being dealt with at the Region along with contact information for the specific issues.
Councillor Saito suggested that the purpose of the strategy should be two-fold; (i) to provide information on initiatives and concerns, and; (ii) to receive responses to those issues. She suggested that staff also include a strategy to obtain feedback from MPP offices when reporting back to IRAC in January, 2010.
Councillor Morrison noted the importance of ensuring opposition members receive the same message as representatives of the governing party.
Vishal Arora, Community Outreach and Liaison, Office of Dr. Ruby Dhalla, MP advised that the organization of round-table discussions between senior elected official’s assistants and Regional staff would assist to bridge the gap between the Regional, Provincial and Federal levels of government. He also stated his preference for email communication of issues as it is an easier and quicker method for sharing information.
John Mesec, Community Liaison, Office of Dr. Ruby Dhalla, MP, noted that Dr. Dhalla’s office frequently receive calls regarding Regional matters and the office staff do not know where to direct callers. He suggested that it would be beneficial for the office staff of all elected officials to have a point of contact for local issues.
Vishal Arora stated that Dr. Ruby Dhalla and her staff are committed to participating with the Region as much as possible.
Councillor Moore thanked the staff from Dr. Dhalla’s office for attending the IRAC meeting and noted that there appears to be a lack of understanding regarding the roles and responsibilities of the three levels of government. She suggested that a flow chart identifying Provincial and Federal representatives, their areas of responsibility and contact information would be beneficial. Councillor Moore further noted the importance of offering specific suggestions on how MPs and MPPs can help when communicating concerns and initiatives.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, suggested that mechanisms are needed for communicating public policy issues that are different from the processes in place for communicating routine matters.
Additional Item – Item 4. b) iii was dealt with.
b) Provincial News
iii. Children’s Aid Society Funding
Councillor Morrison stated that the resolutions passed at Regional Council regarding the funding of Children’s Aid Societies (CASs) require more than the circulation of information to elected officials. There is an expectation that action will be taken to protect the most vulnerable residents of the community and Regional Council needs to know how senior level representatives are going to help. She stated that funding for CASs must be properly distributed through income tax and not property taxes.
Regional Chair Kolb advised that he has requested a meeting with the Premier of Ontario but a response has not yet been received.
Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Innovation and Policy stated that he expects the Minister of Children and Youth Services to confirm a meeting with Peel staff for the week of November 23, 2009 during which a range of issues, including CAS funding will be discussed. It is also expected that the Minister will be meeting separately with CAS staff.
Councillor Morrison suggested that MPs and MPPs communicate directly with the Minister of Children and Youth Services, as an effective approach for advancing the issue.
Councillor Moore stressed the importance of being specific in our messaging, noting that the CAS per client funding amount has increased, however, there is no funding recognition for initiatives that prevent children from needing care.
Councillor Saito suggested that all members of Regional Council should discuss the CAS funding issue with their local MPs and MPPs. She suggested that Councillors be provided with a one-page fact sheet for their reference.
Councillor Saito further noted the importance for IRAC members to take a proactive approach towards advocacy initiatives such as CAS. She requested that staff provide Committee members with timely information, as it becomes available, without waiting for the next IRAC meeting. She suggested that for any emerging issue, staff should provide all Regional Councillors with a concise, informative fact sheet, including the appropriate staff contact information.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, noted that when the CAS funding issue was first raised at General Committee, he requested that Janet Menard, Commissioner of Human Services speak with the CAS Regional Director to clarify the position taken by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services so that staff could properly prepare a response to that position. David Szwarc advised that staff is currently developing the response which will be provided to Council.
4. GOVERNMENT RELATIONS STATUS REPORT AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES
Discussion led by Lowell Rubin, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, Office of Strategic Innovation and Policy
a) Federal News
i. Bill C-50 an Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and to Increase Benefits (Oral)
Lowell Rubin, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, noted that Regional Council previously passed a resolution requesting that the federal government take the position that Ontario should be on a level playing field with the rest of the country by receiving the same Employment Insurance benefits as other provinces. He further noted that Bill C-50 is expected to be presented for final reading before the end of November.
ii. Update on Canada’s Economic Action Plan: A Third Report to Canadians (Oral)
Lowell Rubin advised that the Prime Minister released the Third Report to Canadians on Canada’s Economic Action Plan on September 28, 2009 which indicated that 90 per cent of the 2009 – 2010 stimulus funding had been committed.
Lowell Rubin advised that Canada will host world leaders at the G20 Summit in June, 2010. It is expected that G20 delegates will arrive at Pearson International Airport and travel through the Region of Peel on their way to event venues in Huntsville.
In response to concerns raised by Councillor Morrison, Janette Smith, Commissioner of Health Services confirmed that paramedic coverage throughout the Region will be maintained during the G20 Summit and that additional resources would be brought in for dedicated shifts for the duration of the Summit.
Lowell Rubin noted that Dr. Ruby Dhalla has assumed the Child Poverty portfolio for the Federal Liberal Caucus. John Mesec, Community Liaison, Office of Dr. Ruby Dhalla, encouraged members of Regional Council to contact their office regarding any concerns involving child poverty and further committed to having a staff member attend future meetings of IRAC.
Janet Menard, Commissioner of Human Services, noted that the Region of Peel has compiled a lot of information on the issue of child poverty and undertook to arrange a briefing with the representatives from Dr. Dhalla’s office.
Deborah Reader, Government Relations, City Manager’s Office, City of Brampton, noted that there are many opportunities to advance issues at the federal level through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), and that Mayor Fennell is well positioned as the Peel representative to FCM, Chair of the Ontario Caucus and a member of the FCM Executive Committee.
Deborah Reader further advised that good working relationships with AMO staff have been developed and that Councillor Miles participates on two FCM Committees which provide opportunities to meet with other Committee Chairs who deal with various issues.
Deborah Reader stated that many of the priority discussions at FCM and AMO relate to Regional services and she would like to work with Curry Clifford to advance issues. Curry would serve as her main point of contact to obtain specific Peel examples of initiatives that could be brought forward by our local representatives to the associations. She noted that information would need to be compiled quickly as agendas for FCM and AMO are not usually available more than three days in advance of the meetings. She stated that representatives who bring local examples of issues are better able to advance their positions, more so if staff can equip representatives with the right information, they will get priority treatment. She further requested permission to work with Peel staff to move issues forward and to attend future IRAC meetings, as an observer.
Deborah Reader concluded by recognizing the good working relationship between her office and Peel staff.
b) Provincial News
i. Update on Current Advocacy Initiatives (Oral)
Janette Smith, Commissioner of Health Services advised that she met with staff from the Emergency Services Branch of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care who confirmed that there is a commitment from Cabinet to fund the emergency offload nursing program through 2010. Janette Smith noted that there may be opportunity for Peel to secure more funding for the program as some jurisdictions participating in the pilot program are no longer experiencing significant offload delays which could enable the reallocation of resources.
Lowell Rubin, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, noted that staff from Human Services and Health Services will be reporting to Regional Council in December, 2009 with the Region of Peel position on effective supports for mental health and addictions, which will be submitted to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions.
Janet Menard, Commissioner of Human Services, advised that the potential recommendations to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions include the building of an overall mental health and addictions system capacity in Ontario through the provision of ongoing and sustainable resources; improved integration and coordination of services amongst all Ministries who provide support in the area of mental health and addiction services; supporting localized planning to enable Peel’s community partners to effectively identify the needs within our community and ensure adequate resources are made available, and; ensuring facilities in communities are adequately resourced to help address the needs of the community.
Regional Chair Kolb suggested that consideration should be given to how the Region communicates issues to senior levels of government and the development of new methods to advance our positions.
Councillor Moore stated that the Region should offer potential solutions, including pilot projects that could be undertaken in the Region of Peel, to issues for which the assistance of senior levels of government is required so that there are mechanisms in place to measure the success of the outcomes.
Councillor Paterak noted that a condition of any pilot project should be the continued funding of the project should it prove successful.
Councillor Saito concurred with Councillor Paterak noting that Peel-area MPPs should be engaged so that they can champion our efforts in securing funding to support the implementation of “made-in-Peel” solutions to priority issues.
Councillor Saito suggested that the IRAC develop strong, strategic plans and timelines for its identified priority issues, such as the seniors’ dental program and Children’s Aid Society funding, so that Peel is positioned to implement programs in 2010 if funding from other levels of government is available. She noted that plans should include a proposed solution and a communication component outlining how the Region wants the program funded as well as the expected outcomes.
Councillor Saito inquired how long it would take to develop such a model for the Children’s Aid Society funding issue and was advised by Curry Clifford that Region of Peel and CAS staff are working to prepare information for the meeting with the Minister of Children and Youth Services the week of November 23, 2009.
Councillor Moore noted that while Children’s Aid Societies are funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, they may also provide services that prevent children from going into care, getting involved in the justice system, or requiring significant health services. Councillor Moore suggested that staff could assist the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to investigate opportunities for partnerships with other Ministries.
ii. Ontario’s Economic Statement (Oral)
iii. Children’s Aid Society Funding (Oral)This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting
c) Local News
i. Chairman’s Business Breakfast (Oral)
Lowell Rubin, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, noted that the Chairman’s Business Breakfast was well attended by all three Boards of Trade within Peel.
Regional Chair Kolb informed that attendees to the Business Breakfast were requested to bring forward issues for discussion instead of Peel identifying discussion topics and this approach was successful.
Councillor Thompson advised that the Town of Caledon has established an Economic Development Committee and that new funding is available to help integrate businesses within the community. Councillor Thompson suggested that staff follow up to determine the details related to the new funding.
6. OTHER BUSINESS or CURRENT ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED
7. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee is scheduled for Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. in the 5th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, Suite A, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Brampton, Ontario.
Please forward regrets to Christine Thomson, Legislative Specialist, (905) 791-7800, ext. 4582 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting adjourned at 12:58 p.m.