The Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) met on May 20, 2010, at 11:10 a.m. in the Council Chamber, 5 th Floor, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Suite A, Brampton.
E. Kolb; E. Moore ; J. Sanderson; A. Thompson
M. Morrison, due to other municipal business; M. Prentice, due to illness; P. Saito, due to vacation
D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; N. Trim, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Corporate Services; D. Labrecque, Commissioner of Public Works; 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, Senior Public Affairs Associate; R. Martin, Committee Clerk
Chaired by Councillor A. Thompson.
1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
That the agenda for the May 20, 2010 Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee meeting, be approved.
a) Navdeep Singh Bains, MP, Mississauga Brampton South, Regarding Opportunities for Collaboration on Issues within the Mississauga Brampton South Riding.
Navdeep Bains, MP, Mississauga Brampton South, outlined a number of issues that are important to his constituents. He reported that the number one issue in his riding is jobs. The Region of Peel is currently experiencing unemployment rates that are above both provincial and national averages. In response to the challenges faced by the local economy, Navdeep Bains recently held a small business summit in Mississauga to talk about how to turn around the economy through job creation.
Mr. Bains stated that immigration continues to be a major issue in his riding as Mississauga and Brampton currently have a substantial backlog of applications for citizenship. Recent government cutbacks to settlement, language and training programs for immigrants have also created additional challenges for newcomers to Canada.
Mr. Bains stated that the Liberal Party of Canada remains committed to delivering a national early learning and child care program as well as to addressing social housing issues as part of an overall poverty strategy in their next election platform.
Navdeep Bains reported that human trafficking continues to be a key issue with his constituency given that Canada’s major international airport is located in Peel. He stated that additional resources need to be provided to deal with this issue.
Mr. Bains stated that infrastructure continues to be an important issue and he has been a strong advocate for direct financial transfers to local governments who better understand the needs of their community.
Councillor Thompson stated that social housing is a key issue in the Region. The Region of Peel is unable to meet the growing demand for subsidized housing and there is a real need for the federal government to make financial contributions to much needed housing projects. Navdeep Bains responded that the federal government used a portion of the stimulus package to provide funding for a number of housing projects. This is, however, one-time funding and not an overall plan to deal with housing issues.
Councillor Moore stated that Mayor Fennell has lobbied for a greater federal presence in the City of Brampton which would involve moving federal civil servant jobs to the city. Navdeep Bains responded that he is not aware of any current plans that involve re-locating federal jobs to communities across the country but should such a program develop, he would work to ensure the Region of Peel was considered for any job re-location.
Councillor Moore stated that the Region of Peel would like to develop a two-way relationship with locally elected federal and provincial representatives. Navdeep Bains responded that all three levels of government need to work together to deliver services to the taxpayer. He noted that the Region continues to provide him with Region-specific data that helps him raise important issues in Ottawa.
Councillor Sanderson noted a recent announcement by the federal government that it was partnering with a local Catholic Family Services agency to build a housing project at Chinguacousy Road and Bovaird Drive in Brampton. He stated that local Councillors in Brampton were unaware of this project until it was announced. Navdeep Bains responded that he did not receive any advance notice of the announcement and undertook to look into the announcement and provide Councillors with any additional information.
Dan Labrecque, Commissioner of Public Works stated that the housing proposal from Catholic Family Services was one of four applications made in August 2009 as part of the Infrastructure Stimulus Funding program. Catholic Family Services was the only successful applicant.
Councillor Thompson stated that the environment continues to be a key issue in the Region of Peel. The federal government needs to take a leadership role on environmental issues. Navdeep Bains responded that a lack of leadership from the federal government on environmental issues has resulted in a patchwork of provincial programs. He stated that the Liberal Party of Canada remains committed to developing a national environmental policy.
Regional Chair Kolb stated that Toronto, along with Peel and York Regions, receive the majority of immigrants in Ontario and there are infrastructure needs that the federal government must address. Navdeep Bains responded that all levels of government need to work together to provide the capital needed to fund necessary infrastructure projects.
Councillor Thompson stated that the Goods Movement Task Force is developing plans to meet the future transportation needs in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). He noted the importance of transportation to the economy of the GTA and stated that the federal government needs to provide capital for infrastructure improvements. Navdeep Bains responded that he would advocate for federal capital funding for infrastructure needs in the GTA.
Mr. Bains asked when the Goods Movement Task Force would release the results of their study. Councillor Thompson responded that a report will be completed in late 2010 or early 2011.
Councillor Thompson noted the success of the home improvement tax credit program and expressed disappointment that the program was not continued in 2010. Navdeep Bains responded that it is unlikely that the home improvement tax credit program will be re-introduced by the government.
Councillor Moore stated that the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) will have a financial impact on the Region of Peel. Norma Trim, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Corporate Services, stated that current estimates are that the HST will cost the Region of Peel an additional $5 million per year and that the administrative costs will also be substantial. Navdeep Bains expressed his concern at the additional costs to the Region that will result from the HST and stated that he will take that information to Ottawa.
Councillor Moore stated that for every additional $8 million in costs the Region must increase property taxes by one per cent. Norma Trim undertook to provide Navdeep Bains with further information on the impacts of the HST to the Region.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, stated that the provincial government has challenged the Region on the additional costs related to the HST. He stated that the Region could provide administrative costs related to the HST but it may take time to determine the financial impact of the HST on the Region.
a) 2011 Provincial Election – Region of Peel Proposal – Political Parties Platform Submission Discussion led by David Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy, Office of Strategic Innovation and Policy
David Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy, stated that at the January 28, 2010 meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC), there was discussion related to how the Region of Peel could influence the platforms of the four major provincial political parties. As a result of those discussions, staff has developed a draft outline of steps necessary to formalize this process. Provincial parties are moving ahead with their policy development process in order to prepare their party platforms for the 2011 provincial election. This policy development process offers the Region of Peel an opportunity to influence provincial party platforms.
David Arbuckle suggested that the Region should take a more proactive approach to the process by presenting provincial parties with a Peel policy document one year in advance of the provincial election. This would not be a policy heavy document but would be a narrative that provides a clear picture of the Region of Peel and policy issues that are provincial in scope. The document would be focussed on services such as health care and waste that are delivered by the Region but are regulated by the provincial government. The document would also include a ‘facts’ section with specific data.
David Arbuckle stated that issues identified by members of the IRAC will be captured in this document and there will be opportunities for members of Regional Council and staff to bring forward additional issues.
Councillor Moore stated that the Region of Peel needs to work with external stakeholders in order to avoid simply proposing a shift in responsibilities from one level of government to another. David Arbuckle responded that although there is not a formal process to consult with external stakeholders there will be communication with these groups in order to obtain advice on the issues covered in the Peel policy document.
Councillor Sanderson stated that the Peel policy document should address issues related to the provincial court system, noting that a shortage of Crown Attorneys and a backlog of court cases are challenges that need to be resolved.
Regional Chair Kolb stated that the Region should focus on provincial issues that can be dealt with through changes in existing regulations rather than issues that require new legislation. He also stressed the importance of working with municipalities within the GTA to avoid providing conflicting advice to the four provincial parties.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, proposed that a preliminary list of issues be prepared for the August 5, 2010 IRAC meeting in order for members of the Committee to provide feedback.
b) Draft: MP/MPP Advocacy Update – Spring 2010
David Arbuckle presented a draft version of the MP/MPP Advocacy Update. The final version of the update will be distributed to local MPs, MPPs and their staff at the end of May 2010.
Councillor Moore suggested that on the front page of the update, the Mayors of each municipality should be listed first, rather than having them listed alphabetically with other Members of Council.
Councillor Moore suggested that the front page of the update should include the mandate of the IRAC as well as why the document was produced and what it hopes to achieve. Councillor Thompson agreed that it is important that local federal and provincial representatives understand why the document was produced.
David Szwarc asked if the amendments to the update could be completed for the May 27, 2010 General Committee meeting. Lowell Rubin undertook to have an amended version available for the May 27, 2010 General Committee meeting.
5 . 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
Lowell Rubin, Intergovernmental Relations Advisor, reported that Bob Dechert, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Erindale was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada in April 2010 and that Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Official Opposition and Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada spoke at the Mississauga Board of Trade luncheon on May 11, 2010.
Lowell Rubin stated that on April 27, 2010 the Full-Day Early Learning Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010 was passed by the Ontario legislature. A report will be prepared for a future IRAC meeting that focuses on potential advocacy opportunities for the Committee related to this legislation.
Lowell Rubin reported that the HST will be implemented on July 1, 2010. The provincial government has produced a chart listing items that will fall under the HST and those that are exempt.
Lowell Rubin stated that on May 14, 2010 the provincial government announced $9.6 million for municipalities to create over 90 emergency room dedicated nurse positions. The Region of Peel will receive $788,427 from this program. The nurses will help reduce offload wait times for paramedics. Janette Smith, Commissioner, Health Services reported that the announcement provides one hundred per cent of the funding necessary for the offload nursing program for 2010.
Lowell Rubin reported that on May 17, 2010 the provincial government introduced the Open for Business Act. Highlights include modernizing the approach to environmental approvals in order to reduce project application costs and streamlining the process for recognizing foreign trained professionals.
Lowell Rubin thanked Councillor Pat Saito for the opportunity for him and Donna Kern, Manager, Chronic Diseases and Injury Prevention to attend a seminar on May 18, 2010 organized by seniors in Mississauga that included senior’s representatives from the GTA and Niagara.
Lowell Rubin noted that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Annual Conference will take place in Toronto from May 28, 2010 to May 31, 2010 and that the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Annual Conference will be held in Windsor from August 15, 2010 to August 18, 2010. He reported that provincial Cabinet Ministers will be available to meet with municipal representatives at the AMO Annual Conference. Staff will provide proposed issues for consideration at the next IRAC meeting in order to prepare for meetings with provincial Cabinet Ministers at the AMO Annual Conference.
6 . COMMUNICATIONS
a) Jim Bradley, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Donna Cansfield, MPP, Etobicoke Centre and Parliamentary Assistant for Housing, Letter dated April 30, 2010, Thanking the Region of Peel’s Delegation for Participating at the Recent OGRA/ROMA Conference in Toronto
7 . Other Business or Current Issues to be Discussed
a) Draft: Letter from Regional Chair Emil Kolb to Diane Finlay, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Encouraging the Ministry to Maintain their Financial Commitment to Affordable Housing in Ontario
That the letter dated May 13, 2010 from Regional Chair Kolb, be sent to Diane Finlay, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, to encourage the Ministry to maintain their financial commitment to affordable housing in Ontario.
Councillor Moore suggested changes to bullet two on page one of the letter to Minister Finlay to clearly state that it is the applications for housing that are, in some cases, twenty years old, not the applicants.
8. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee is scheduled for Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. in the Council Chamber.
8 . ADJOURNMENT
The meeting adjourned at 12:52 p.m.