The Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC) met on July 8, 2010, at 1:18 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 5 th Floor, Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Drive, Suite A, Brampton.
E. Kolb; M. Morrison; E. Moore; M. Prentice; J. Sanderson; A. Thompson
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; 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 July 8, 2010 Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee meeting, be approved.
a) Sylvia Jones, MPP, Caledon-Dufferin, Regarding Opportunities for Collaboration on Issues within the Dufferin-Caledon Ridingb) Shelly White, CEO, United Way of Peel; and John Huether, Chair, Fair Share Task Force, Engaging in a Strategic Discussion Regarding the Fair Share for Peel Issue
This item was dealt with later in the meeting
This item was dealt with later in the meeting
a) 2010 Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Annual Conference
That the public policy issues identified in the report of the Chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee dated June 17, 2010, titled “2010 Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Annual Conference”, be approved;
And further, that staff develop briefing notes on the identified public policy issues to support discussions with various Ministry representatives at the conference.
Councillor Thompson requested staff provide details related to education issues that were not identified in the report but will be raised at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Annual Conference. Dave Arbuckle, Manager, Public Policy responded that there are operational and capital costs related to the transition to full-day learning in Ontario for kindergarten students. As a result staff recommend representatives of Peel meet with the Minister of Education to discuss the transition costs.
Councillor Thompson enquired if staff have specific figures related to the shortfall in funding for the transition period. Dave Arbuckle responded staff are working on the figures and will report at a later date.
Councillor Sanderson on behalf of Councillor Saito requested a list of Councillors attending AMO be circulated to members of Council. Dave Arbuckle undertook to provide the list.
Councillor Morrison suggested the Region of Peel work with the Town of Caledon to secure a meeting with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing at the AMO Annual Conference. Councillor Thompson agreed that both levels of government work together in order to meet with as many provincial Ministers as possible during AMO Annual Conference. Dave Arbuckle undertook to work with staff in all three local municipalities in order to coordinate meetings with provincial Ministers at the AMO Annual Conference.
5 . GOVERNMENT RELATIONS STATUS REPORT AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES
Discussion led by Sonia Mistry, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Strategic Innovation and Policy
a) Federal News
b) Provincial News
c) Local News
Sonia Mistry reported that on June 14, 2010 Provincial and Territorial Finance Ministers met in Prince Edward Island. Key issues discussed included retirement income security and the renewal of federal government transfer agreements.
Councillor Thompson requested staff provide details related to the recent decision by the Federal Government to change the requirements related to the long census form. Dave Arbuckle reported that prior to the recent announced changes, two of five Canadians received the mandatory long census form while the remaining Canadians received a short census form. Canadians receiving the long form were required by law to complete it. The Federal Government has announced that for the upcoming 2011 Census three of five Canadians will receive the long form but it will no longer be mandatory to complete the form. The information collected by the national census is vital to municipalities as the federal and provincial levels of government use the census figures to determine funding levels. Toronto City Council recently passed a motion calling on the Federal Government to reverse its decision to eliminate the mandatory long census form.
Councillor Moore suggested the Region provide local MPs with specific examples of how the census information has a direct impact on services provided by municipal governments. She stated the Federal Government should reinforce the need for citizens to provide important census information to the government and maintain a mandatory long census form.
Janet Menard stated that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and AMO are preparing to lobby the Federal Government to reverse its decision to eliminate the mandatory long census form.
Councillor Prentice stated that there is a need for municipalities to speak with one voice in lobbying the federal government to reverse their position to eliminate the mandatory long census form. Councillor Prentice suggested that the Region of Peel provide the three local municipalities with information related to this issue and that both levels of government coordinate their efforts.
Councillor Morrison stated that the Region needs to build a case that demonstrates how Peel utilizes the information contained in the census in order to plan properly for the future needs of the community.
Chair Kolb requested that David Szwarc, meet with the Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) of the three local municipalities and develop a document that outlines how each municipality and the Region of Peel use the information provided by the census.
Dave Arbuckle reported the 2011 census forms will be finalized by the end of the summer of 2010 so the time lines are short in order to make the federal government aware of the importance of the census information to the Region. Dave Arbuckle suggested a letter be drafted and sent to local Conservative MPs David Tilson and Bob Dechert on the importance of the census data. Dave Arbuckle also suggested that a more detailed report be prepared and brought forward to a future IRAC meeting.
Councillor Thompson suggested the Region consider a public information campaign to educate the public on the importance of filing out the census form as the information is vital to their community and the services provided.
Sonia Mistry reported that on June 21, 2010 Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) along with the Mississauga and Brampton Boards of Trade held a breakfast meeting. The keynote address was made by the Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Minister of Transportation. The breakfast was attended by Regional political officials and staff. Minister Wynne provided an overview of provincial transportation infrastructure investments and accomplishments since 2003. She recognized the importance of long term transportation planning beyond 2013 but did not provide any further details on that issue. Minister Wynne also mentioned there is a lack of support at the federal level for a National Transportation Strategy and has requested municipal and private sector support to push for this issue to be addressed. Minister Wynne reported that she had discussions with Federal Transportation Minister the Hon. John Baird on this issue and so far there has been no uptake. The federal government’s lack of interest in developing and implementing a National Transportation Strategy was also evident when Minister Baird addressed a recent FCM conference where Peel political officials and staff were in attendance.
Sonia Mistry reported that the AMO Annual Conference will take place in Windsor from August 15 to 18, 2010.
a) Sylvia Jones, MPP, Caledon-Dufferin, Regarding Opportunities for Collaboration on Issues within the Dufferin-Caledon Riding
Councillor Thompson on behalf of the committee members welcomed Sylvia Jones to the meeting.
Sylvia Jones reported that as MPP she is a member Community and Social Services Committee, the Children and Youth Services Committee.
Sylvia Jones noted her involvement in the Mental Health and Addictions Select Committee which will release a consensus-based report in September 2010. The report will feature recommendations focussed on improving mental health and addiction services at the provincial level.
Sylvia Jones stated the provincial government has not addressed the issues raised by the Fair Share Peel campaign and she will continue to raise Peel funding issues at Queen’s Park.
Councillor Thompson reported that the Region of Peel is facing a program deficit related to the transition to full day learning at the kindergarten level in Ontario. Sylvia Jones responded that agencies providing child care and early learning services will face challenges as the business model is changing due to full day learning.
Councillor Sanderson stated the importance of providing special services for people suffering from mental health issues. He noted that the Peel Regional Police have developed a program where a mental health nurse is available for police calls involving mental health issues. Councillor Sanderson stressed the importance of providing a separate admission area in hospitals for people suffering from mental health issues. The Region of Peel is making efforts to deal with mental health issues but the LHINs are not making additional funding available. Sylvia Jones responded that in the City of Guelph local hospitals in cooperation with the Homewood Health Centre have established a fast track admitting system with a separate admissions room. She stated that other communities should consider adopting a mental health admissions program similar to the one in Guelph where practical. Councillor Moore stated that drug addiction is often related to underlying mental disorders. People in her ward wishing to enter a rehabilitation centre in order to deal with drug addictions are often faced with a three month waiting period.
Councillor Moore cautioned against a one size fits all approach to dealing with mental health issues. She stated that health services need the flexibility to deal with local issues. Sylvia Jones responded that local officials do need the ability to deal with specific mental health issues in their community.
Councillor Thompson noted the challenges faced by the Peel Children’s Aid Society because of the current funding formula that does not recognize growth in the Region. Sylvia Jones stated that funding for all social services needs to recognize the growth in areas such as the Region of Peel. She also expressed her concern that the provincial government has not dealt with the impact of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on the budgets of social service agencies.
David Szwarc stated that the Region of Peel currently operates 12 child care centres and with the move to full day learning, the Region is in the process of reviewing its business model. He asked if a Progressive Conservative government would change the full day learning program. Sylvia Jones responded that it would be premature for her to speculate about any changes a Progressive Conservative government would make to full day learning.
Chair Kolb asked for details on what studies the provincial government used in implementing the full day learning program. Sylvia Jones responded that the Fraser-Mustard Early Years report was referenced in the full day learning legislation. She stated that under the current legislation, schools that offer the full day learning programs are not allowed to have outside operators provide before and after school daycare programs.
Councillor Moore asked what the provincial government response is to concerns related the full day learning legislation requiring the school boards to provide day care services rather than bringing in an outside operator. Sylvia Jones responded that attempts were made to change the full day learning legislation but they were not successful. At this period in time there are not enough schools offering the full day learning program to generate broad public concern. The provincial government has focussed the full day learning program in schools that currently do not offer before or after school services.
Janet Menard stated that during the transition period the provincial government is allowing outside operators to provide day care in schools offering full day learning. Sylvia Jones stated that the provincial government has not provided further details on the length of the transition period for the full day learning program as it relates to outside operators providing daycare in schools.
Councillor Moore stated that the transition period offers stakeholders the opportunity to lobby the provincial government for changes to the legislation regarding outside operators providing daycare in schools offering full day learning.
Councillor Thompson noted the challenge volunteers face completing police checks for each organization they wish to work with. He stressed the need to simplify the police check program so that volunteers need only apply for one check that can then be made available to multiple organizations. Sylvia Jones stated she introduced a private member’s bill that would allow a single police check transcript to be made available to a number of volunteer organizations.
Councillor Sanderson thanked Sylvia Jones for meeting with the committee.
b) Shelly White, CEO, United Way of Peel; and John Huether, Chair, Fair Share Task Force, Engaging in a Strategic Discussion Regarding the Fair Share for Peel Issue
John Heuther stated there are significant disparities between per capita funding for health and social services in the Region of Peel and the rest of Ontario. Provincial funding of social programs in the Region has not kept pace with the growth of population in Peel.
John Heuther stated that Fair Share Peel continue to lobby for a population based funding formula which takes social indicators into account. Fair Share Peel is calling on the provincial government to address the existing inequities in social service funding over a seven to eight year period
John Heuther reported that Fair Share Peel will be providing information sessions for municipal candidates in Caledon on July 8, 2010, in Brampton on August 30, 2010 and in Mississauga at a date to be determined in September 2010. The goal of these information sessions is to make all local candidates aware of the need for additional provincial funding for health and social services in Peel.
Shelly White reported that Fair Share Peel continues look for opportunities to align with programs that are the focus of the provincial government priorities. When the provincial government announced a poverty reduction strategy, Fair Share Peel developed a policy document outlining the key groups facing poverty issues within the Region presented it to the provincial government.
Shelly White stated that Fair Share Peel continues to lobby the federal government for a national poverty reduction strategy, a national daycare policy and changes to the federal funding transfers to the provinces for health and social services.
Chair Kolb stated that the Fair Share Peel campaign was launched over 20 years ago and suggested it was perhaps time for Fair Share Peel to consider adopting a new name or renewed approach. He asked if there are figures indicating if the campaign has made progress on the funding issue. John Huether responded that in 1995 Fair Share Peel estimated that the gap between the provincial per capita funding for health and social services in the Region of Peel was $99 million. In 2010 Fair Share Peel estimates the gap in funding has increased to $388 million. Shelly White responded that there have been discussions related to changing the Fair Share Peel name. She stated that feedback from Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) indicated they thought the name Fair Share Peel was still relevant.
Councillor Thompson stated that a new name for Fair Share Peel could be an advantage in moving issues forward and it should be considered.
Chair Kolb stressed the importance of studying the policy priorities of the provincial government, such as the child poverty reduction strategy, and then raising funding issues within that priority with the province. John Huether responded that Fair Share Peel has presented the provincial government with a set of proposals related to programs related to the child reduction strategy. Carol Kotacka stated that Fair Share Peel is making a business case for both the federal and provincial governments to invest in health and social services in Peel.
Dave Arbuckle reported that staff are currently developing the Peel platform for the 2011 provincial election that will feature the funding gap for health and social services in Peel. He stated that there needs to be cooperation between the Region and Fair Share Peel in preparing the platform document.
6 . COMMUNICATIONS - Nil
7 . Other Business or Current Issues to be Discussed - Nil
8. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting of the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee is scheduled for Thursday, August 5, 2010, at 11:00 a.m. in the Council Chamber.
8 . ADJOURNMENT
The meeting adjourned at