The Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) met on March 11, 2010, at 11:05 a.m. in the 5 th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Suite A, Brampton.
E. Moore ; M. Morrison; J. Sanderson; P. Saito; A. Thompson
Members Absent: E. Kolb , due to other municipal business; M. Prentice, due to illness
R. Paterak, Regional Councillor; D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; J. Smith, Commissioner of Health Services; J. Menard, Commissioner of Human Services; C. Reid, Regional Clerk; G. Malhotra, Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Partnership, Human Services; D. Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy; S. Mistry, Senior Policy Advisor; L. Rubin-Vaughan, 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 March 11, 2010 Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee meeting, be approved.
a) Summary of the Region of Peel Meetings with Ministers at the 2010 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA)/ Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) Annual Conference
That staff report to a future meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) with a process for communicating draft public policy positions, when timing precludes formal endorsement procedures.
Councillor Sanderson noted that he and Councillor Morrison did not attend the meeting with Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources. The Chief Administrative Officer undertook to ensure the report titled “Summary of the Region of Peel Meetings with Ministers at the 2010 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA)/Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA)” is amended to accurately reflect the Peel representatives who attended each meeting.
Councillor Moore commented that the briefing notes prepared for the meetings with Ministers were exceptionally well done and commended staff for clearly advocating Peel’s public policy issues.
Councillor Thompson noted that staff from the Office of Strategic Innovation and Policy produced high quality submissions in a very short period of time and extended his appreciation for their efforts.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), noted that all of the information contained in the briefing notes had been previously approved by Council. He advised that a briefing note was not prepared for the meeting with Minister Jeffrey and that she was only provided with a copy of the draft Notice of Motion regarding Conservation Authorities.
Councillor Thompson advised that Minister Jeffrey plans to meet with Councillor Mullin and Rae Horst, Chief Administrative Officer, Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), in late March, 2010.
Councillor Morrison indicated that the meetings she attended were very well received and that the material provided at the meeting was easy to understand. She noted that Charles Sousa, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, commended the presentation made by Peel’s representatives at the conference.
Councillor Moore noted that discussions at the March 4, 2010 Regional Council meeting suggested that Peel representatives were not authorized to meet with Ministers at the conference and she suggested that a series of policy related documents be prepared for endorsement by Regional Council. She further suggested that a Council-approved information or fact sheet for each Ministry could be maintained on file and that the actions requested by Peel could be filled in prior to their submission to other levels of government.
David Szwarc informed that the public policy positions were approved by Regional Council in January, 2010 and that staff were authorized to develop briefing notes on the identified public policy issues to support the discussions with various Ministry representatives at the conference and that direction was obtained from the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) to meet with the Minister of Natural Resources.
David Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy, advised that staff were notified in early January, 2010 that the Region of Peel could request to delegate at the conference. Further, at the January 28, 2010 IRAC meeting, staff presented a list of the requested delegations. Ministries accepting delegations at the conference did not begin to confirm until one week prior to the conference.
Lowell Rubin-Vaughan, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, advised that Region of Peel staff requested a total of 12 meetings with various Ministries of which, 6 were arranged. He noted that in many cases where meetings were not arranged, the Minister was either not attending or taking delegations at the conference.
Councillor Sanderson stated that staff did an excellent job preparing for the delegations and that it was apparent that Peel’s message was heard at the conference.
Councillor Saito suggested that staff report to a future meeting of the IRAC with recommendations for a process that would authorize staff to proceed with meetings and present previously approved public policy advocacy positions, when timing does not allow for specific Council endorsement.
With respect to new policy positions, Councillor Saito suggested that a process be established to obtain Council approval for the position so that members of IRAC and staff do not proceed with draft positions. She suggested that when the IRAC needs to respond to an advocacy opportunity in the absence of a Council-endorsed position, that the draft policy information be distributed to all members of Regional Council for review, clearly stating that Council-endorsement cannot be obtained due to timing constraints, at which time any concerns can be addressed.
Janet Menard, Commissioner, Human Services, noted that the policy documents often require fine-tuning up to the last minute in order to incorporate new information as it becomes available and to ensure that the documents remain current.
Councillor Morrison agreed that a Council-approved process would be beneficial, however, she cautioned that such a process may not be sufficient if the policy issues are controversial or are not supported by all Councillors, noting that the purpose of the IRAC is to advocate issues that Council has endorsed.
b) Update: MP/MPP Communications Strategy(Oral)
Discussion led by David Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy, Office of Strategic Innovation and Policy
David Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy, distributed a copy of a letter sent to Charles Sousa, MPP, inviting him to attend a future meeting of the IRAC. He advised that similar letters were distributed to all Peel-area provincial and federal representatives. Positive feedback to the invitation was received from Andrew Kania, MP, Brampton West and Sylvia Jones, MPP, Dufferin-Caledon, both of whom have expressed interest in attending a future meeting of the IRAC.
Councillor Saito inquired if the MPs and MPPs were surveyed to determine their preferred method of receiving information related to the Region of Peel.
David Arbuckle responded that through informal discussions with staff of local MPs and MPPs, it was determined that the focus of sharing communications should be to engage the political staff and continue to establish relationships with them. He advised that a database was developed to identify the political staff that should receive information related to each riding. He noted the importance of positive communications to ensure representatives from other levels of government are comfortable coming to the Region of Peel to speak to issues.
David Arbuckle advised that staff will follow up with MPs and MPPs who have expressed an interest in working with the Region of Peel and their staff, to provide assurance that it will be a positive environment.
4. GOVERNMENT RELATIONS STATUS REPORT AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES
Discussion led by Lowell Rubin-Vaughan, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, Office of Strategic Innovation and Policy
a) Federal News
b) Provincial News
c) Local News
That staff report to a future meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) with information regarding the plans of the provincial government to require municipal contributions for hospital capital funding;
And further, that the requested report include information regarding the current provincial position regarding local contributions to hospital funding and whether there has always been a requirement for local contributions for hospital capital funding.
Councillor Thompson noted that the Speech from the Throne mentioned an upcoming report on mental health and inquired if staff was aware of that report.
Janette Smith, Commissioner of Health Services stated that the provincial government’s stated priorities remain unchanged with a focus on mental health; reducing emergency room wait times and moving patients from hospital beds to other appropriate levels of care.
David Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy, also advised that the Region of Peel submitted comments to the Special Legislative Committee on Mental Health and Addiction.
Councillor Thompson noted that the paramedic offload delay strategy will be maintained without expansion. He stated that if the offload delay strategy is working, efforts should be focused on moving it forward.
Janette Smith advised that an announcement from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is expected in the near future regarding offload delays, noting that not all hospitals require funding to deal with offload delays, so there may be opportunity for the funding to shift to other jurisdictions.
Councillor Morrison inquired if staff is aware of any provincial plans regarding the funding of hospitals, specifically, whether there are plans for municipalities to assume a larger component of the funding. She stated that funding for hospitals should not be borne by the property tax base and that the Region of Peel should consider developing a position on the funding of hospitals.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, advised that he is not aware of the province announcing mandatory municipal funding for hospitals and undertook to investigate and report to a future meeting of the IRAC with factual information about future funding of hospitals.
Councillor Paterak noted that Development Charges can only fund so much and that municipalities, through resolutions, could start communicating their positions regarding hospital funding to raise awareness of the funding issue with residents.
Councillor Moore requested that the CAO include in his report to the IRAC, information on the current provincial position regarding local contributions to hospital capital funding and whether there was always a requirement for local contributions to hospital capital funding.
David Arbuckle stated that in his opinion, any plans of the province to require municipal contributions to hospital capital funding would be announced in this year’s budget, and that the Region of Peel will be well positioned to respond, noting that Peel staff will be in the “provincial lock up” for the budget reading.
Councillor Paterak inquired as to the value of having staff in the “lock up” during the provincial budget announcement.
David Arbuckle advised that persons in the “lock up” are permitted to review the budget document and take notes on a laptop so that when they are released from the “lock up”, they can immediately inform their Councils, Associations and/or organizations of key budget content.
Gurpreet Malhotra, Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Partnerships, noted that attendance in the provincial “lock up” also presents networking opportunities and the chance to clarify and ask questions regarding the budget.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, noted that the issue of local funding for hospitals would also be an issue that would come before the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) under the Memorandum of Understanding.
5. COMMUNICATIONS - Nil
6. Other Business or Current Issues to be Discussed
Councillor Saito advised that Regional staff will be attending a joint meeting of seniors’ groups in Mississauga on May 18, 2010 to present information regarding the seniors’ dental program. She noted that representatives of Mississauga Seniors’ Clubs meet annually with this year’s meeting being held at the Meadowvale Community Centre. Representatives from Oakville seniors’ groups were invited to attend. She inquired if letters were sent to Peel-area seniors groups encouraging them to advocate for continued funding of the seniors dental program.
Janette Smith, Commissioner of Health Services, responded that at the last meeting of the IRAC, the Medical Officer of Health was requested to undertake a review of current literature regarding the impact of dental health on overall health, to determine if there is sufficient information to make a case that the province should fund and expand the program. She noted that there does not appear to be provincial support for a seniors’ dental program as their current focus is on children and youth.
Councillor Saito expressed concern that the Region of Peel is currently funding the seniors’ dental program and that there should be continued efforts to obtain provincial funding. She further stated that seniors’ groups could serve as a vocal advocacy group for the funding of a seniors’ dental program.
Councillor Paterak inquired as to what percentage of the $1.2 million seniors’ dental program budget has been allocated to low income seniors.
The Commissioner of Health Services undertook to update the numbers contained in previous reports to Council and noted that as the seniors’ population grows, demand for the dental program will also increase.
7. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee is scheduled for Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. in the 5 th 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.
8 . ADJOURNMENT
The meeting adjourned at 12:27 p.m.