STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES FINANCES ET DES AFFAIRES ÉCONOMIQUES
Thursday 20 February 2003 Jeudi 20 février 2003
Thursday 20 February 2003 Jeudi 20 février 2003
I want to take this opportunity to remind all members that the House may consider it to be a breach of its privileges to release a report or any information about a report prior to its presentation to the House. The rule of confidentiality remains in effect even if the committee discussed and adopted the report in a meeting open to the public. Apparently that's part of the ruling of the Legislature.
We have a couple of procedural rules to iron out this morning. There was some discussion about whether or not you would want to have this session as a closed session or as an open session. If we want to have it as a closed session, then I need a motion to make it a closed session and then of course that would require a vote.
Mr Ted Arnott (Waterloo-Wellington): I'm just asking about past practice, because this committee is well established and we've been doing public hearings for many years. What has normally been the procedure in previous years?
Mr Monte Kwinter (York Centre): When the decision was made to make these open sessions, which I have no problem with, I raised the issue at the time. You've just outlined the problem. It seems to me an absurdity to say that to release any information on this draft report is a breach of confidentiality for the Legislature whereas anybody can walk in the door, sit here, listen to it --
Mr Kwinter: -- and they can do what we can't. It just doesn't make any sense to me that that would happen. I have no problem, but I just feel that when you put out that caution -- why would you put out that caution when it makes no sense? Anybody who wants to can walk in and sit down -- these are open sessions -- and they can go out and report and say, "I listened to this and here's what they're saying." I just wanted to raise that again. I raised it at the time, but the decision was that we would leave these open. As I say, I have no problem one way or the other; I just feel that there's a contradiction with what the rules of the House are.
The Chair: It's my understanding, from the way the rules are stated, and I'll phrase -- the specific word is that the House "may" consider it to be a breach of its privileges. So I can only surmise that what that means is, if there was some ramification as a result of the release of this information, that the Speaker may choose to rule that there has been a breach. That's the best we can give you, Mr Kwinter.
Mr Kwinter: I would say, given that warning that it may be, why would any prudent committee possibly put themselves in jeopardy's way by doing it? Why would you just not say, "If that could happen, let's make sure it doesn't happen"? It just doesn't make any sense. Anyway, I leave it in your hands and in the hands of the committee.
Mr Marcel Beaubien (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): The only comment or question that I have is, I just assumed that the meeting would be open. You mentioned a closed meeting. Did somebody request that the meeting be closed?
The Chair: It was really a passing comment. Because it was a passing comment during our travels, we brought this forward. There were some who expressed, because of the frustration last year in not being able to present a report back to the House with recommendations, that it might be easier to have a closed session; therefore, we would be able to have recommendations.
Mr Rob Sampson (Mississauga Centre): I actually am somewhat sympathetic to Mr Kwinter's assessment of the situation. Our dilemma is perhaps somewhat lessened, depending on the nature of the report, I would suggest. If we proceed on the lines of the draft report that's before us, I can probably guess that it's unlikely to be perceived by reasonable people to be a violation of privilege, since it's simply a recording of what we've heard publicly anyhow. But if the nature of the report should change dramatically, then I think it would be wise for the committee to reconsider whether it should go in camera or not. So at this point in time, if the report we're considering is the one that's before us, while I understand Mr Kwinter's dilemma and I am sympathetic to it, to use a phrase that's coming out frequently lately, I will bow down to the tradition of the committee in the past and leave it open.
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I prefer to do whatever we can in public. It seems to me that last year the committee's report was in public. I think we moved into public right away. I'd prefer to do that. I don't think there's anything we're going to deal with that's going to affect the markets or anything else. It does point out, probably, the need to revisit the rules of the Legislature, as part of a bigger package, to say, "Listen, if we want to do the maximum amount of business in public, we're going to have to make some changes in the rules." But I'm always uncomfortable trying to do business in private that has no real reason to be done in private.
The Chair: If I may explain, the committee will still be conducted according to the rules of the committee. The difference in a closed session is that the only two people, I guess, who are allowed to be in the room would be the clerk and the research officer; is that correct? Essentially, what we are doing is removing Hansard and the electronic recording of the committee. This is just for clarification. It's not that I'm pushing for that or anything, but that's all it is, really.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham): Having sat on the committee, and Mr Beaubien having chaired it, first, I question who specifically brought that issue up. The general tone -- I sat through all of the meetings. I heard nothing different than I've heard in the previous two years. Unless someone specifically has brought it up, like Mr Phillips I believe they have always been open and I would support that they continue to be open. I'm wondering where the debate's coming from, I really am, because substantively, every one of the submissions is public and every one of the submissions is basically what this is the synthesis of. So I'm wondering who protracted this debate. Is there a specific request from someone about privacy or being in camera -- there isn't?
I would ask for a clarification, because when the subcommittee met and agreed upon the time of the meeting, we had generally agreed that they would be 10 to 12 and 1 to 4 for all the hearing days. However, in the subcommittee report it just says that the committee will meet on Thursday, February 20, for report writing, without any times. Did you have a preference for times today, other than starting at 10 o'clock? And I would need a motion to do that.
Standing order 129 pertains to reports of the committee, and this may help clarify the type of report acceptable to the House. There are five different ways but, traditionally, without getting into this too deeply and wasting too much time, essentially, "The report of a standing ... committee is ... determined by the committee as a whole or a majority...." That's understood, I think.
As you know, "Every member of the committee ... shall be permitted to indicate that he or she dissents from a particular recommendation or comment. The committee shall permit a member to express the reasons for" these dissents "in an appendix to the report."
"The report as agreed to shall be signed by" me, "on behalf of the committee, and shall be presented to the House by the Chair or by another member of the committee authorized by the Chair or the committee."
I thought the most expeditious way today, as was usual in the past, was to begin to address the report writing by referring to the draft report that has been put together by the research officers, and we would go through it. I think you've all received a copy; is that correct? We would begin to go through it section by section.
Mr Phillips: Just before you begin that, I had a comment I'd like to get on the record about the responses we got back from the ministry on some questions we raised. Is this the appropriate time to raise that, before we get into the report?
Just to get my dissatisfaction with the responses from the ministry on the record, it's late in the day, with an election coming up and what not. But at the federal level, when their finance and economic committee meets, they get detailed projections going out. You can see the revenues going out to 2007-08: revenues by personal income tax, corporate income tax, expense projections, all of that. We get one number. All we really have is a number that's now from June, and no other kind of forecast, although we're being asked by the minister to give her our advice on multi-year funding.
Be that as it may, I asked for an estimate of how much money would be forgone on the fair share health levy. They say, "Well, it's not available." But when you go back to the 1996 budget, for example, they have fair share health care levy, full-year impact: $260 million. So when it's in their interest to share the information, they do it. When it's not in their interest, we don't get it. The third quarter ends at the end of December, and it's normal that the third-quarter results are published in January. Here we are in the middle of February and they won't provide that to us. The implications of funding the 4.3-cent cap are very crucial for our deliberations, and we don't have any estimate of what impact it has had on Ontario Power Generation.
So it's frustrating that this committee, in my opinion, is operating without what I regard as publicly important information that should be available to the public. But we're not going to get it, and I didn't want to let it go by that I'm just going to quietly acquiesce to that. Just as these meetings should be in public, I think the government and, dare I say, the bureaucracy have an obligation to provide this kind of information to the public in these pre-budget deliberations.
The Chair: Just to clarify, you were referring to the published documents of the federal budget and other provincial budgets, as opposed to the information provided by the ministry. I think they are two different things, only from the perspective that when the ministers, federally or provincially, prepare the published budget, it is a different item than the information they give us -- not to say that the numbers are different. One is a published budget, which is really a political budget, as you know, versus what the ministry has prepared. I'm not disagreeing with you, Mr Phillips. I just wanted to distinguish between the two documents. Was there any other comment on this? Thank you; you're on the record for that.
Mr Sampson: I'm sorry, Mr Chair, to break with your tradition. I'm prepared to go paragraph by paragraph, but I just have one general question, because something caught my eye as I was looking through the written submissions. Can I speak to that one now? I don't actually know where the comment from the written submission is in this report. Maybe if I get an answer to that question, I'll be much more comfortable with other sections as we go by them.
Mr Sampson: We had a written submission from SWITCH Kingston's Alternative Energy Cluster. It's actually referenced in the addendum, and it concerns some proposals they had for tax credits to encourage new generation and alternative energy -- just as a summary. I'm sure I totally messed up their presentation, but that's the general thrust of it. Where would I see that in the report?
Mr Sampson: While the research people look, the reason I'm asking is that I just want to get some confidence that the long list of presenters here in very small letters on pages 20 to 26 is incorporated somewhere in bits and pieces in this report, because I think part of our job too for the minister is to report to her what we had heard.
Mr Larry Johnston: If I may, I think perhaps part of the problem is that sometimes when we assess the recommendations, it's a question of deciding where in the report they belong. In this case, it would have been a decision whether it went into alternative energy or under other taxes in terms of dealing with a tax credit. It may be that in this case it fell through the cracks and didn't end up in either. If it's an omission that the committee would like to have rectified, we can certainly add that.
Mr Johnston: I would say that in the report we try to capture the overall tenor of the recommendations that are brought to the committee, and that's why there's a difference between the summary, which is some 50 pages of recommendations, and the report, which is distilled to 18 and a half pages. There are likely to be cases where maybe we have not included a recommendation the committee wishes to have included, and we will simply take direction on that.
Mr Sampson: You guys have done a tremendous job to take what is probably about three feet of paper and boil it down to 18 pages. As I read through the SWITCH report, I thought, "It will be interesting" -- not that they all weren't -- "to see how that shows up in the report," and when it didn't, I was concerned. I think it should. It deals with this particular proposal's view of how to get more green power and more power available to the grid. I thought that would be something the minister might be interested in hearing, in addition to other members of the executive council, and I would like to have it included in the report in some way.
The Chair: Mr Sampson, what I'll recommend is that when we get to the appropriate section, you may want to include it. As I see it, there are two sections you may want to consider, and you don't have to decide that right now. One would be under energy, page 11, or under environment, page 13. You can decide. In the meantime, what we can do is ask the research officers if they will have the opportunity to compile that recommendation for inclusion. Then, if we get to that part before lunch, we may defer that section until after lunch simply to give the research officers sufficient time to get that prepared for you. Is that fair?
Mr Sampson: Yes. I don't think it needs to be a much more extensive report than what I just said in the first part of my comments, that it's a recommendation coming from some individuals. So I'll shut up and say I'm prepared to accept whatever you write.
The Chair: Other than the list you have at the end of the appendix, which has the witnesses and submissions -- that's why we sit through these, so you can make some notes when something catches your ear or your eye, as it just has.
Mr Sampson: I'm prepared to take whatever the research officers can suggest as far as the included text. It really need be nothing more complex than saying a group suggested there were two tax routes to go to generate more power and green power, and please refer to their presentations for more detail.
Mr Christopherson: It's more the way the sentence is structured, and not a big issue. In the second sentence of the second-last paragraph -- "In the third quarter," and I assume we're talking current, "real GDP rose by 3.9% and over 1 million jobs have been created since September 1995." -- I just wondered if there was a disconnect between those two points.
Mr Christopherson: Yes, the second sentence. I just thought one is dealing with the immediate fiscal, and then, in the balance of the same subject, sort of out of nowhere, suddenly we say, "one million jobs have been created since ... 1995." I just wondered, in that, what would be the salient point between the two? They just don't seem to connect in my mind. We go from third quarter results to, "Oh, by the way, in eight years here's what's happened," and no period in between.
Ms Heidi Clark: If I could just address that: I was trying to paint a general picture of the economy in that paragraph, and from the numbers that were provided, that was the number that seemed most relevant, as far as job creation, to speak to it. If you'd like it changed to an annual --
Mr Christopherson: I'm sorry. No, maybe I'm just not understanding. It says, "In the third quarter," which is very specific, very micro. We're talking about the third quarter of this fiscal, and then, with only an "and," suddenly we jump to "one million jobs have been created since September 1995." I wonder how the two are connected.
Mr Johnston: I suspect what's happened here is that a statement by a presenter has been boiled down and, in the editing process, a presenter who made a comment about third quarter economic growth, about job creation and perhaps about something else has become boiled down to a single sentence which, you're correct, does seem to have a bit of a disconnect. We can address that.
The Chair: It is the second paragraph under Economic Outlook, and it is the second sentence in that second paragraph, beginning, "In the third quarter, real GDP rose by 3.9% and over one million jobs have been created...." Mr Christopherson feels there is a -- I'm not getting the right word here.
Mr Beaubien: The issue I want to deal with is the presentation made by Buzz Hargrove. I think he made a very compelling presentation. There's no doubt -- he mentioned that the industry is changing -- that it is changing. He also mentioned, I think I wrote down a few things here, that if we're to maintain our standard of living, with all the social programs, we need to protect high-paying jobs; that the labour force realizes that there needs to be more flexibility in the workforce; that we're talking about a new rate for new employees.
The auto industry is such an important driving factor in Ontario. Mr Hargrove was talking about the federal, the provincial, the municipal, and all the workforce having a role to play in protecting this industry. I don't think it's captured here. My feeling is that it should be captured in the economic outlook. I think we are facing different times in the auto industry and maybe we have to deal with it differently. That's just for discussion, I guess.
Mr Kwinter: At the top of page 2, in the second paragraph, when you talk about "estimated to fall slightly," I would just leave "estimated to fall" and take out the word "slightly." If you take a look at the numbers, it's going to fall 10% in 2003 and 15% in 2004. I don't think that's a slight reduction.
We have the opportunity, as we finish each section, to ask if you want to make any specific recommendations as a result of the information that is in that section, and we can debate and vote on that immediately as opposed to saving them all.
Mr Christopherson: That takes us right back to the eternal discussion we have at these committees every year, and that is, are we attempting to find a package, a document like this that we can stand behind, where we all sign on, and then there's a series of recommendations where it's clearly understood that's the majority vote, which obviously is the government position, and then there are two dissenting reports attached? If you start injecting the concept of recommendations at this stage, Chair, then any pretence of trying to work together is pretty much blown out the window. The government will make their recommendations and they'll win every vote and then we're just into a partisan divide. I just raise that with you on the heels of your offering to take recommendations at this time.
The Chair: I asked that because if there are any recommendations that there is some agreement with between the three parties, then at least we will have the opportunity to include those recommendations in the report. If we find there are no recommendations that there is any agreement with, then we may end up doing what we did last year.
Mr Christopherson: I just point out by way of comment that if we attempt to do that, then buckle up your seat belts, we're going to be here all day trying to come to an agreement on recommendations, which is a lot tougher than just a document that we agree reflects what we heard, because then we get into our different partisan philosophical approaches. So I urge members to keep that in mind.
I don't know that we're informed enough to actually provide recommendations, to be quite blunt. I don't know that we are even informed -- Mr Phillips on a number of occasions has indicated that he needs more information in certain areas of fiscal projections on certain items. I would say that we are equally in the dark about what the announcements were last Tuesday around the federal budget and its net implications on Ontario.
I think that to make recommendations in that information vacuum would probably not be very helpful to the minister. What might be helpful are areas where we have agreed the minister, in doing her budget, should make sure she takes a good look. I can think of one off the top of my head, and that was the credit union thing. I think we are all in agreement, if I can put words in my colleagues' mouths, that she should take a real serious look at their suggestions. Perhaps I'm going out on a limb, but maybe there's an equal resolution around the child tax credit thing that was presented. I'm going way out on a limb, I'm sure, but I think there is some reasonableness to that which she should take a look at. Whether she chooses to do it or not in preparing her budget is her choice, of course. She's the finance minister. So my preference would be not to make recommendations but to soften the language a bit and perhaps speed the process toward maybe a unanimous report and talk about areas where we find some sympathy.
Mr Sampson: Why not? You can just say the minister should take a serious look at the credit unions' recommendation. We give more weight to it in the report than perhaps to others. That will generate discussion. There will be areas where we can't come to some conclusions, and I think we should so indicate.
Mr Phillips: In terms of process, what we've done in the past -- it doesn't mean it's what we'll do today. But I think the report we're dealing with that's before us right now is a summary of what people have said. We don't have to agree, because it often presents two points of view and what not. I think in the end it will probably get unanimous consent. We will all agree that that's a good summary of what we heard.
Then what we've done in the past is that each caucus has brought forward its recommendations. We have a series of recommendations here, and I think the government will probably bring forward its recommendations. Realistically, because they tend to be a package, we will have difficulty with your package of recommendations, because we have a different view of how things should unfold. My instincts are that the government will approve its recommendations and we will choose not to approve that package and say, "Here's our package," which you, if history suggests anything, will choose not to approve. Then we will serve notice that we will be submitting -- it's not a minority report.
Mr Phillips: A dissenting opinion. That's probably reality. So my own instincts are to say, as David Christopherson said, let's see if we can go through the summary of what we heard and agree on that, and then one suggestion is that each caucus table its recommendations and we simply vote on those.
Mr Sampson: I understand where you're coming from, Gerry, but I don't know how that helps. Obviously, at the end of the day you're going to submit your dissenting opinion. Is that the official phrase?
Mr Sampson: Yes, but to the extent that it's not accepted by the government side, and it generally won't be, let's be realistic here: we're going to get it anyway and we're going to see it anyway. Why do we have to go through the whole process this afternoon of debating the fact that we're not going to agree to it? We know it in the first instance.
I would rather that we spend some time adding items to this document that we actually can give a little bit more weight to. That would be my preference. We have, as I said earlier, a very good summary of what we heard, and I think it's important for us to relay that to the minister, since she wasn't there and she is basically expecting us to do that. I would like to add some other areas where we would say, "Look, in every jurisdiction, we saw the credit union come forward and say we should be doing this. Can you please take a look at that?"
Mr Beaubien: I would have to support Mr Sampson's suggestion, because I think the researchers did a very good job of paraphrasing what we heard over a period of almost two weeks. It gives us a pretty good snapshot of what's occurring across the province in different sectors. Having gone through the report, there are a couple of things -- I had raised one; I'm sorry that it was captured somewhere else and I didn't pick it up -- that I would also like to raise. I think we can have a document that we may not be in total agreement with but that is palatable to most of the people around this room, yet giving the opposition the opportunity to file their dissenting reports as an addendum to the report. We've done that the past number of years, and it has worked very well. I fail to see what we stand to gain here this afternoon debating an NDP, Liberal or Conservative motion. If somebody has some recommendations or concerns, they can file them as an addendum and we get on with our lives.
Mr Christopherson: I tend to side with the Conservative caucus on this one in terms of what's going to give us the biggest bang for our time, if I can mix metaphors. I agree that at the end of the day, once we start injecting recommendations, then we're just going to fall very quickly into a partisan situation. That's why, if you recall, when we had the subcommittee meeting, we deliberately set up a time after we would have this discussion for the three different recommendations to be tabled. Now, I know by process the government's recommendations will be tabled today. Let me ask a question, if I can, Chair: do the committee's recommendations have to be voted on today as part of this package?
The Chair: If you want them to be part of the report that would be sent back to the House, yes. Otherwise, the only other opportunity, if I understand the process correctly, is that it's submitted as an appendix to the report by Tuesday the 25th, when it is submitted to the Clerk and then reported back to the House. Does that clarify it?
Mr Christopherson: It would seem to me that if that's doable, the way to achieve that is to spend the day on this report and follow through with the original decision, whereby each of us submits our recommendations after, they get attached and then the four pieces create everything that's tabled to the House.
Mr Phillips: Well, it's just an unusual process, that's all. Normally this committee exists to provide pre-budget advice to the government and the minister, and normally that advice is what we think should be done. So it does undermine the credibility of the committee that we've not even tried to take a stand on recommendations, that we simply are providing summaries. I can live with it, but it's not the traditional way of legislative committees trying to provide collective advice to the government.
The Chair: If I may put a little bit of an historical perspective on this, last year we did exactly what Mr Christopherson described, where we had a majority agreement on the report itself and the summary of the presentations, with dissenting recommendations in the appendices. In the previous year, we had the pre-budget consultation of 2001 and we had motions or recommendations at the end, and there were nine recommendations, for example, that went through. Other pre-budget consultations historically have always had those as well. So it's a question of what the --
The Chair: Is there any further discussion on this? I will just ask the question at the end of each section. If there is nothing brought forward, then we'll just continue on. Is that fair, Mr Christopherson?
The Chair: We are right at the end of the first section, which is the economy. We finished the economic outlook portion of that, so we are now on page 2 on the fiscal situation, there being no recommendations coming forward on that first section.
Mr Christopherson: Under fiscal policy, "The government was urged to continue to emphasize debt and tax reduction over spending and remain focused on fiscal competitiveness," end of issue, and then you move on to the next category. It seems to me that there were certainly individuals and representatives who came in and made that argument, but there were people who came in and made a converse argument. I have a bit of a problem letting that stand as the only thought, or suggesting that that was the only fiscal policy we heard and therefore this is a very straightforward assumption that we can then move on to the details of, as we break it down. I have a problem with that remaining as a reflection of the only thing we heard. It certainly was heard, but I would suggest to you that we heard ample presentations to the contrary. In fairness, it seems to me that should be reflected in this paragraph also.
Mr Christopherson: Just make it as part of that one thought and the next -- yes, that's fine. It's just if you leave it like this, it looks like that's our working assumption, and I accept that for some it is, but for others not.
The Chair: Any further comment on moving that sentence down into the balanced budgets and debt reduction paragraph? Agreed? Any opposed? Accepted. Then that sentence will be moved down under balanced budgets and debt reduction as the opening sentence, I'm presuming. Is that correct? OK.
Then if we continue on that same paragraph, "balanced budgets and debt reduction," are there any other comments or changes that you wish to have? Seeing none, shall we accept that paragraph as amended?
We move to section II, "Ministry of Finance," taxes, and the paragraphs under that: capital tax, corporate taxation, municipal taxation, payroll taxes, personal income tax, property taxes, retail sales tax, tax administration and other taxes. Any changes?
Mr Johnston: We would normally put it in one spot rather than the other. I can tell you, looking at this particular issue, we had it in the recommendations in the summary under alternative energy, but when we looked at the substance, we thought we would move it to taxes. In shuffling it from my file to Heidi's file, it didn't get there. So we can put it in either place that you would like, but I don't think we would normally put it in both places. But if that's the committee's wish, we can do that. If you really want to put an emphasis on it, we can --
Mr O'Toole: If I may, under the general definition in "taxes," the opening paragraph, it mentions a lot of the strategies there. There'd be no problem, in a general sense, of mentioning it there, because you go farther down and talk about each of those. Do you understand? The opening paragraph.
Mr Johnston: Would it be helpful if I read to the committee the wording that we've come up with to deal with Mr Sampson's concern about the group, and then you might decide where you wish to put it in the report?
Mr Johnston: The wording that we have to suggest to you is, "Alternative energy advocates suggested tax measures be implemented that would encourage the development of alternative energy generation projects and investments."
Mr Sampson: Yes, that would be fine by me. "Alternative energy" is a broad definition, but that would be fine by me. As you read that, it sounds to me like it should be on the tax side. But it is really six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Mr Christopherson: Let's understand: we're giving it super-high priority by giving it its own category under taxes, but I'm comfortable with doing that, but let's just realize that is what we're doing, and so be it.
Mr Christopherson: Just under municipal taxation: "The government was urged to resist demands from municipal governments for additional taxation ... or other revenue-raising capacity." There were contrary thoughts. There were those who were arguing that that's exactly what municipalities need, some new levers of revenue sources.
Mr Johnston: There is considerable discussion of provincial-municipal cost-sharing and the question of municipalities' views that they're not receiving adequate funding for services in the section under "Municipalities."
Mr Christopherson: Fair enough, but under the category of taxation where that's the thread, the only thought we have in here -- if you picked this up you'd be under the impression that under taxation as a subject in and of itself vis-à-vis municipal taxation, the only thing we heard was, "Don't let municipalities do this," and I'm just suggesting that we heard from other people who said, "This is exactly what you need to do, or something like this."
Mr Christopherson: That's a different thought. I was going to raise that too, because there were contrary thoughts around there. I can go into that debate if you wish, Chair. On that second point, there were some who came in and gave examples of where they thought there was unreasonableness in some of them, especially the lot levies, development charges, and had examples of where it got rolled back by the OMB. But again, there were discussions around the fact that lot levies, development charges, need to reflect the actual costs of providing infrastructure for new surveys, so those rates need to reflect the actual costs so that all the other taxpayers in a municipality aren't constantly subsidizing the newer surveys, the newer growth areas.
It's just my own sense in reading this that it only reflected one thought. I don't disagree that we heard this. I did just want to point out that both cases, whether it's additional revenue sources for municipalities or whether development charges need to be high enough to reflect actual costs, were also heard in addition to these points of view -- two points, two different points of view. I'm just making the argument that we did hear the converse, that there were those who argued the other way, and I'm just seeking that this document reflect that.
Mr Johnston: How about something along the lines of, "The government heard competing views about the appropriateness of additional taxation authority or other revenue-raising capacity for municipal governments"?
Mr Christopherson: Again, I was pointing to the taxes, fees and charges. Those who are worried that they're excessive are covered here. Those who have concerns about subsidizing these costs through other areas of municipal revenue had that point of view come across too. I don't think it's as big as the previous point, but again to recognize that there are two viewpoints about charges. One is, "Don't overcharge me and I'm going to watch you like a hawk," and the other is, "Make sure that those charges are high enough to reflect the actual costs because otherwise I've got to pay for their brand new library and my immediate neighbourhood is 50 years old."
Mr Beaubien: The second paragraph included "specific requests." I think it was only in Thunder Bay that they talked about multi-residential and the residential tax rate, if I recall. But you did say "specific requests," so I guess that would capture that. I know there was one community; I think it was Thunder Bay.
Mr Sampson: Well, this wouldn't be a unanimous report. "The committee asked that the minister take a serious look at solving this." I don't know what the phrase is, but get on with it. Give them what they want or tell them to go away.
Mr Christopherson: If I can, Chair, you're absolutely right. The only concern I would have is that we then create a new category of subject matter, and that would be one that isn't important enough or there wasn't unanimity around and therefore it's not -- do you see what I'm saying?
Mr Sampson: Which is why I don't want to do this as a recommendation, because it'll stand out like a sore thumb. It's just something that she should look at, and I think just adding a phrase to that effect would be helpful.
Mr Christopherson: I agree, and I was going to, at the very least, ask that the word "again" -- and I know that others can use this, but what really got me was that we had made exactly the same representation and after two years none of us was able to poke a hole in their thinking as to why this shouldn't move on. I'm not trying to cast any aspersions here, but if we can't use the word "again," then maybe another sentence afterwards that somehow -- and maybe research could help. But we should emphasize the fact, short of a recommendation, that this really is something that nobody had an argument with and that something should move on it.
Mr O'Toole: I did inquire with one of the ministry people on that because it came up before, and again, I met with them when I was in finance. There was a privacy issue of some sort with respect to cards, names, pictures. That may be someone else --
Mr O'Toole: No, no. I just met with them to see if there were other barriers, and one of the things the ministry said at the time, I believe, was that it was a privacy issue, dealing with photos. I just wanted to add that.
Mr Christopherson: I'd leave it up to research to ask if there's a sentence we can make that doesn't create a new category, and by that I mean by virtue of not having this sentence attached to other issues, they become less important or have less support. But is there some sentence we can create that would give this, obviously, the lift that we would like?
Mr Kwinter: Can I suggest a way of doing it without having to go through putting in one recommendation in the whole report that will stand out? We could say, "The First Nations representatives again made the case for the approval of a point-of-sale system to expedite the rebate process for native gas retailers."
Mr Christopherson: But as soon as we do that, then we've got one item in the whole report that got a unanimous recommendation. It looks like it's our top, above all, and everything else has a secondary class to it.
Mr Kwinter: What I would suggest is, "The First Nations representatives again made the case for the approval of a point-of-sale system to expedite the rebate process for native gas retailers." By using that wording, it implies that they made the case, as opposed to suggesting something. They made the case, and we're saying they've done it again.
Mr Johnston: No. I think what Mr Sampson is asking about is the request to adopt the use of the farm business registration card for RST exemption purposes. We could add that as a clause in the sentence which says, "Other concerns included the institution of point-of-sale verification of RST purchase exemption certificates...." We could add a clause in there saying, "Adopt use of farm business registration card for RST exemption purposes," into the middle of that sentence. Would that capture that?
The Chair: Agreed? Done. Delving into your memories yet again, is there anything else under tax issues? Is there anything else under tax issues? For the third time, is there anything else under tax issues? Shall we carry the tax issues, as amended? Thank you. Carried.
Mr Beaubien: Under credit unions, I think there were two issues. Besides the merger issue, I think they were talking about the unlevel playing field between the different premiums, between CDIC and the DICO premiums. I think that was a good point.
Mr Kwinter: If I can just comment, the concern that I have, and I'm sure Ron has the same concern, is that the credit unions are saying, "There is a discrepancy between the premium rates that the banks pay and we pay, and we think that's not right." The reality of the situation, the reason for that, is because of the risk. The credit unions can't, by any stretch of the imagination, with their capital base, in any way compare to the banks. They want to provide some of the services but there is a greater risk there. Insurance companies do risk management. They figure out the risk and the premium reflects that.
It's one thing for them to say, as the report says, "more in line with those paid by banks." What that means exactly, I don't know. They can ask for that, but the reality of the situation is that there's a greater risk for credit unions than there is for banks, and that's reflected in the premium.
Mr Sampson: To that point, we're not editorializing their submission. They actually did agree in the questioning after their submission that, yes, it should reflect the relative risk. I think our report to the minister might say that they should bring deposit insurance premiums more in line with those paid by banks on a risk-adjusted basis. If their complaint is that they're cheaper on a risk-adjusted basis, it's a valid complaint. If their complaint is, "Well, they're cheaper because they have a lower risk and we have a higher risk," that, in Mr Kwinter's view, reflects reality.
Mr Kwinter: If you'll recall, in their submission there were five categories for credit unions and four categories for banks, and they showed the different premium rates depending on whether you're category 1 or whatever it was. There are some credit unions that are in a category 1 situation, which might equate to a category 3 or category 4 bank. That would be a fair sort of comparison. But there's no question that if you're in a category 5 credit union rating, that is a high risk, and they have to pay the according premium. So I would suggest that if we could reflect that on a risk-adjusted basis, that would cover it.
Mr Johnston: My only concern is that the sentence begins by saying, "Credit unions across the province gave unanimous consent," because we heard the same recommendations from each credit union presenter. The conversation in response to questions that may have clarified the question of risk adjustment may well be true of that presenter, but we don't know if in fact all the credit unions would share the same position in terms of risk adjustment premiums. I am just uneasy about putting words into the mouths of all of them.
Mr Sampson: Yes, but we did get them to agree in Thunder Bay, I think it was, that there is a component of risk which needs to be priced into the premium. We didn't ask the same question of every credit union that came before us, so I think the research officer has a point. I'm at a loss to know what to do here.
Mr O'Toole: I think that probably some of them have worked with it. But this thing has been around. I know there were four issues, but the main one is the merger, the liquidity pool. That's the main issue, and I would like to almost separate that. There was discussion on the collateral mortgage issue as well as the premiums, and I agree with Rob on that: they didn't present the risk assessment fairly until you questioned them, actually, in Thunder Bay -- or Monte did. So I think they're somewhat different. But there was and has been unanimous support with all the credit unions that if the minister could right now do whatever -- I think it's just a small regulation that has to allow that merger between BC Central and Credit Union Central of Ontario for liquidity coverage. Currently, how they get liquidity is through a line of credit with the bank, which means they are a little servant of the bank. That's how they get it today.
Mr Johnston: I think Mr O'Toole has found a way out for us on the wording of this. We might put it this way: "Credit unions across the province gave unanimous support to the recommendation to enact legislation expediting the merger of the finance divisions of BC Central and the Credit Union Central of Ontario offices. Other recommendations discussed included: giving credit unions the ability to network with financial service providers; amend section 57 of the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994, to eliminate restrictions on issuing collateral mortgages; and to bring deposit insurance premiums more in line with those paid by banks, on a risk-adjusted basis." Then we're not necessarily putting it on a --
Are there any other changes to the credit union section? Is there any discussion on opportunity bonds? Are there any other non-tax issues, other than what has been stated? Shall we carry this section --
Mr Christopherson: In the second paragraph -- "A request for dedicated long-term support for women's centres and shelters was accompanied by specific recommendations to fund `second stage' programs, and to provide victims of family violence with transitional rather than permanent social housing." I don't imagine that anybody who came in emphasized they wanted transitional and that no permanent is needed, and if they did, I don't think they meant to. Nobody who talks about any kind of housing whatsoever doesn't include the fact that there has to be more permanent social housing, so even if you replaced "rather" with "in addition to" --
Mr Christopherson: I'm not sure that the people who were arguing for transitional support would be arguing it in a hierarchical way vis-à-vis permanent. My point is that anybody who would be supporting transitional, in my experience, would also be the first ones to make the argument that there also needs to be permanent social housing, and wouldn't say anything that took away from that. Phrasing it this way is suggesting that, and I don't think they would.
Mr Christopherson: I have no problem if we take out the word "rather" and just put in "in addition to," because they do talk about the continuum of housing. My only concern is that the way it's worded makes it sound like the permanent somehow has to take a back seat to something, and I don't think they would argue that, knowing them the way I do.
Mr Christopherson: A small point on the first sentence: "Presentations were made that more should be done to provide remedial programs during the school day, that replacing standardized testing with random testing could create considerable savings." My recollection is that the presenters on that were very emphatic about the fact that no quality of results would be lost, which is significant, because all this speaks to is considerable savings. There are always ways to find savings. What you try to do is find that sweet spot where you can find savings but you haven't watered down the results of what you're doing. It just seems to me it should be in there as a qualifier that this isn't just holus-bolus saving a few bucks; this is a good management move because you'll get the same quality of results -- I remember them speaking to that -- and you'll save money. It was those two hooks that made the point, rather than just the fact that they're going to save bucks.
Mr Johnston: There are three points in that sentence. What I propose is to move the phrase that deals with standardized testing out of that sentence into a separate sentence. So the first sentence would read, "Presentations were made that more should be done to provide remedial programs during the school day, and about the benefits that would accrue from funding outdoor education centres." The second sentence would say, "A recommendation was made that standardized testing be replaced with random testing to create considerable savings without sacrificing quality."
We go to the education, postsecondary and training section. Are there any changes to that section? I'll move to the subheadings in a moment. I just wondered if there is anything on page 10 that you want to change. No comments? No changes? So we'll carry that.
Mr Christopherson: Yes. The last sentence of those two paragraphs says, "... and using millennium scholarship funds to help students more effectively." I acknowledge that I may be creeping into partisan territory and, if so, I am prepared to hear that criticism, but I thought this was pretty soft. Don't take this the wrong way, Larry, but from where I sit, to merely say, "to help students more effectively," is fairly motherhood. You could also take it to mean, "Everything is humming along nicely; we just need to see a little more of...." and in fact that's not the case. The criticism was that because of provincial policies, students aren't able to maximize the benefit totally that the federal government intended with the millennium scholarship, and they were urging the provincial government to change the policies and regulations that led to that lack of 100% effectiveness -- then I went and used your own word. It just seems to me that there needs to be a little more recognition that this isn't, "We want more of a good thing" but "Something here is a little bit broken and it needs to be fixed."
Mr Christopherson: It's the last sentence of the second paragraph under student finance, page 11. Actually, it's the last segment of the last sentence, "and using millennium scholarship funds to help students more effectively."
Mr Christopherson: I don't know, I was just hoping we could be a little more precise that there really is a roadblock that the provincial government has put in here that prevents students from getting the full benefit. I wish I could remember the exact number, but I think it was $1,000 or $2,000 a year less that Ontario students get than other provincial students because of the policies of the provincial government vis-à-vis the federal millennium scholarship fund.
Mr Johnston: What we could do is take that last clause that refers to the millennium scholarship funds and make it into a separate sentence: "Student representatives also suggested that federal millennium scholarship funds be used to provide additional yearly funds to students and/or substantively reduce their debt loads." That's more or less taking the wording out of the students' own presentation.
Mr Christopherson: Well, it's better, but I have to say it still doesn't go all the way to making the point that because of the policies of the Ontario government, there's a different result in terms of the benefit of the federal program to Ontario students than other provinces, and they were arguing that should change.
Mr Christopherson: Fair enough, but it seems to me the students' point was that regardless of what you do with that money and how you apply it to benefit individual students, there still wasn't the same net benefit to a national program in this province that you would receive as a student in other provinces, and they wanted that barrier removed. I don't have the language, whether it's a clawback or whether it's in the formula, but the net result is you don't get as much if you live in Ontario than if you lived in other provinces on a nationally funded program.
Mr Johnston: I think it would be fair to say that the presentation was to the effect that the government should change its current policy with respect to millennium scholarship funds in order to do the items --
Mr Beaubien: I think the community colleges also stressed the fact, I think in Sudbury, Cambrian College -- I don't know if you captured this somewhere else, Larry, but the training was a concern, not only from the employer but from the provider point of view. I think Cambrian said that right now they're training 60 millwrights but if they had the funding they could train 120, and they would be gainfully employed as soon as they -- I don't know whether --
Mr Johnston: I think at present it's probably only captured in the paragraph on community colleges in terms of breaking down their funding request into a variety of different aspects, such as program development, apprenticeship and other initiatives. It would be possible to add a phrase in this paragraph to the extent that, "Community colleges expressed their frustration at not being able to provide more in the way of training programs."
Mr Johnston: I would add the phrase to the paragraph on labour shortages, skills development and specialized training that, "Community colleges indicated their frustration with not being able to provide more in the way of training programs to address skilled labour shortages."
The Chair: Thank you. We will move on to enterprise, opportunity and innovation. We'll go to the subparagraph on the auto industry. Any comments on the auto industry? Shall we approve as presented? Thank you.
Health: we have first a series of opening paragraphs and then some sections. So we'll deal first with the opening paragraphs on page 13. Are there any changes there? Do you want a moment to scan through that? We're all right? OK, shall the opening paragraphs of the health section be approved? Thank you.
Mr Beaubien: Can we go back to community health care? I think the hospital administrator from Terrace Bay made a very compelling argument with regard to small hospitals and northern and rural hospitals being able to provide the primary health care needs of people as opposed to duplicating the service with a community health care centre in small communities. I think that's a very valid point and I don't think it's captured here.
Mr Beaubien: No, because it says, "One presenter asked the government to recognize the inadequacy of the funding formula for small hospitals with special circumstances." I think it's not specific enough. The message he was trying to convey was, as opposed to trying to duplicate the service in the community -- the foundation to provide it already exists in the community; why create another albatross?
Mr Beaubien: But he also said, as opposed to opening a community health centre in the community, "We're already a small community. We already have the foundation in place to provide that service. The money should be better spent in providing the services from within the hospital, while Hamilton may not be adequate to do that." I thought it was a very valid point especially in my riding, which is quite rural, and northern ridings. I certainly would embrace that.
Mr Christopherson: Is this specific to its being hospitals or just the fact that it's already there? There was that presentation made in I think Ottawa, where they had all the community components for health care, social services, all the supports for healthy living and things, and they were saying, "All we need now is to be a community health centre, and that component would just drop right into everything we've got." Remember, they had all the charts and everything? Does that speak to the same sort of thing?
Mr Beaubien: Somewhat, but from a different light, because the needs in rural Ontario and northern Ontario are different. I can see having an outreach program started by somebody in Ottawa and Hamilton because of the demographics, but in Terrace Bay or in small communities of 5,000 or 6,000 people, the hospital is already the health care provider. You don't need to start another agency a quarter of a mile away competing with the hospital. They showed that by attaching the long-term-care beds to the hospital, whereby in Hamilton or Toronto it may not be the right thing to do.
Mr Christopherson: The only thing you have to keep in mind, and you may know this better than me -- I do know there are some sensitivities in community health service delivery to institutions like hospitals being given the driver's seat every time. That whole independence is important to them, because they argue, "We do things differently when we provide community health care as opposed to what you get in a hospital."
So we just need to be aware that there would be some sensitivity to a holus-bolus approach that said in a smaller community, where you've got an existing health care institution, they would be the anchor for all community health delivery. I suspect that you would start to run into some problems there. So maybe it's just how we word that.
Mr Beaubien: If you look at the role of the small rural hospital, they basically provide primary and outpatient. I think that's what it was trying to say: save the dollars, put them here so that we can look after the patients as opposed to putting up another building somewhere and having the staff. We already have that here. Let's complement what we have. I don't have any problem because I think it would work in these small communities. It may not work in your community, I agree.
Mr Christopherson: I understand. Maybe we just need to make the point that we're sensitive to the fact that when these happen, it's the dollars of the bricks and mortar and the efficiencies, not necessarily that the hospital would be the lead delivery agent, that they suddenly become the bosses. If you go back -- again, I don't want to repeat myself -- in history, when you started to break out and provide community health care services, it was always wanting to get out from underneath the feeling of omnipotence that the hospitals had because of their size and staff and budgets; they could rule everything, was the way the community people saw it. So over the decades there's been this evolution and devolution away into the community.
All that is to say that if we're making the case of where efficiencies can be made by virtue of recognizing physical institutions that exist in smaller communities and looking at those as the starting point, and separate that from the fact that hospitals won't automatically be the boss in those relationships even if they're in the same building, because community health service is important to them -- that they be seen as separate and equal in the same building. The "equal" part has to be emphasized.
Mr Johnston: I'm just looking for wording to put into the community health programs paragraph to reflect what Mr Beaubien heard from the hospital in Terrace Bay. What I have is as follows: "A representative for hospitals in small and rural communities pointed out that these institutions are ideally suited to provide primary health care in their communities."
Mr Beaubien: But that is what he was trying to say, and maybe it was self-serving, but you look at a small hospital. For instance, in Newbury we have a hospital, and the community is 402 people. Where do they get health care? At the hospital. There's a different mentality with the people there because that's where they've been accustomed to getting their health care.
Mr Christopherson: As long as there's a reflection of the fact that it would still be a hybrid. If you take that wording exactly, it says the hospital is the focal point of community health care delivery, including primary care, and they run it. That's different from the way a community health care centre approaches the delivery of service. They see themselves as an equal partner in the continuum of health care rather than being a subsection of the hospital. Maybe that's not as big a deal in the rural areas, but if you just said holus-bolus that the hospitals will be the centre point for all community health care delivery, I think you're going to run into some trouble and lose the very good points you're making.
Mr Johnston: I guess I need direction. The sentence I have I think captures what the presenter was asking for. It may not capture the distinctions that the members are discussing right now, and I'm not sure how to put that in without putting words into the mouth of the presenter. That's my concern.
Mr Sampson has now returned to the room. We deferred the energy section on page 11 out of courtesy and deference and stuff -- pages 11 to 12. Are there any comments or changes to that energy subsection that we wanted? You OK with it, Rob?
Mr Christopherson: The second paragraph, the third-to-last sentence: "Representatives of the home building industry asked that abuses of development charges, education development charges and GO Transit development charges be identified and corrected." Again, this is similar to the point I raised earlier. Probably my concern is more on wording than on substance. In saying, "Representatives of the home building industry asked that abuses of," it leaves the assumption that there are all kinds of recognized abuses, and they're asking the government to do something about it. I think that is very much different than the presenters having an opinion in some specific locations where they think this is the case. That may indeed be so and it may not. That depends on each subjective review. But to leave this as a standing assumption I think is not --
Mr Christopherson: It's just the way this is worded as a statement of fact. It doesn't say that representatives felt there were abuses and therefore they wanted this done. It's done in such a way that this looks like it's a motherhood assumption, and I have some difficulty with that, that's all.
I'm going to take the liberty of going over by a minute or two for these last two little sections, and that will leave us just the deferred items for research to come back to at 1 o'clock. Is that all right?
The Chair: All right. Larry has Hansard here, and he can clarify it. So let's do tourism and transportation, wipe them out and come back to the deferred items, OK? Good. Are there any comments under tourism? Agreed as presented?
Mr Sampson: Chair, in reference to the second-last line, "northern highway infrastructure participating in": I thought it was general highway infrastructure. I think the actual reference was the Trans-Canada Highway, which goes over more than just the northern part of the province.
Mr Christopherson: On that point, Chair, if you'll allow me -- and if you want to do it at a different time, I'll take your direction -- I was looking at the research paper that you provided us with, Larry, on the question of the Trans-Canada Highway. I have to tell you that I'm still not clear on -- and maybe that's indicative of provincial-federal relations vis-à-vis the Trans-Canada Highway -- who's responsible for building, maintenance, expansion, etc. Is it a year-by-year thing? Is there a standard formula? Is there a written agreement? Just exactly how does it work?
Mr Christopherson: There's a research response, and I'm sort of injecting that into this now to help us clarify that, because I just didn't get what the -- I went through the report, obviously, or I wouldn't raise this. But at the end of reading it, I wasn't really that much clearer as to what is the framework understanding under which all activities between the two levels of government and the funding of the Trans-Canada Highway take place.
Mr Johnston: My understanding is that the federal government announced this specific infrastructure program to deal with the Trans-Canada Highway, and that none of the money has flowed yet, but that the federal government and the provinces are engaged in a process of identifying which Trans-Canada Highway projects will be funded under this agreement. It's a multi-year agreement.
Mr Christopherson: But step back from that. This is a program they've announced to do some things. What's the starting point for that policy to be generated and implemented? Is the starting point, "We're the federal government. It's the Trans-Canada Highway. We have ultimate responsibility. Therefore, we are going to announce these programs"? Or is there some other relationship? Is it the provinces that are responsible for their own segment, but in this case, "Because we're such a wonderful federal government, we're coming along with this money"? What's the starting point arrangement vis-à-vis responsibility for the Trans-Canada between the national and provincial governments?
Mr Johnston: I'm not a constitutional expert, but I would suggest that the responsibility lies with the provinces for construction and maintenance of highways. But there's nothing to prevent the federal government from funnelling money toward that purpose, just as it funnels money to other provincial jurisdictions, such as jurisdictional responsibilities. In this case, I believe it was a budget measure announced by the federal government.
Mr Christopherson: I'm sorry to be picky about this, but I can't get it clear in my head. When the highway was built, whose highway was it? Who has ultimate responsibility, and who is stepping up to the plate to meet the responsibilities they have, either under the Constitution or under an agreement, versus who's stepping in and saying, "Well, it's not really our responsibility, but something has to be done. We're the federal government, so we're going to do it"? What is that starting point understanding of who's responsible for the Trans-Canada Highway?
Mr Christopherson: OK. I don't know this. Was it built as an original concept like the railway, or is it something that was linked up province by province and whoever had a trans-east-west highway in their province, that was designated part of the TransCanada Highway?
Mr Johnston: I think their concern was the state of the TransCanada Highway in northwestern Ontario, and I think they were lobbying the Ontario government to try to promote that section as one that would qualify under the federal policy.
The Chair: I had another question on this. It had to do with CRASH 69 out of Sudbury, because they were looking for Highway 69 improvement and redevelopment, and then the other corner of the province, which I think appeared in London. Didn't someone mention in London, and it may have been under one of the municipalities, the Windsor-Detroit corridor connection? Did that surface somewhere?
Mr Johnston: The CRASH 69 proposal with respect to Highway 69 near Killarney and the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce request re Highway 7 I believe were captured in the first sentence about "A number of specific transportation requests," rather than detailing those.
Mr Christopherson: I will say that dealing with the municipal category on page 17, under enterprise, opportunity and innovation, was helpful, but it still leaves me with this thought: "The government was urged to resist demands from municipal governments for additional taxation authority or other revenue-raising capacity." Again, within the municipal presentations, and we had a few, I would have thought explicitly -- but if not, then certainly implicitly -- there was an argument that municipalities need to find new means of revenue source. This doesn't reflect anything other than all we heard was, "Don't let those municipal governments start taxing things." That's a concern for me.
The second sentence is a secondary concern. It just says, "Legislation should be introduced." Again, it doesn't say who or how many or how strongly, and I would think that needs to be qualified. And then, "allow for the appeal of municipal decisions about fees and the level of service." It seems to me that's already provided with the OMB mechanism. Rightly or wrongly, that is what exists now. If that's the case, how much do we allow redundancies into our report? If people make a recommendation to provide public health care or to keep hospitals private, say -- I'm trying to think of something motherhood -- or keep policing public, and nobody was talking about anything different, and they were saying, "You've got to pass a law that stops it from being anything else," how much of this document would we fill with people making recommendations that aren't based factually in reality? That's why I asked the question of whether or not the OMB is already there. If it's there, they're entitled to make their recommendation and we'll respectfully listen and consider it. But I don't know that we would put a known redundancy into our report just because it reflects what somebody said -- or would we? I don't think we do. Those are my thoughts and my questions around this, Chair.
Mr Christopherson: Well, it just says, "Legislation should be introduced to ensure" -- first of all, I should have made the point that it seems to me they are already based on "reasonable direct cost recovery." That is the direction municipalities have been given. I think you even tightened that legislation to provide that there have to be public meetings now before you can do any increases. This is suggesting that there are no protections or mechanisms, and there are.
Mr Sampson: Dave, "To the extent it's lacking, legislation should be introduced"? We're putting words in their mouth, but I'm assuming, knowing who that came from, they wouldn't suggest duplicate legislation.
Mr O'Toole: If I may, more recently, in the last week, I've met with some constituents on this very issue. To be candid, they feel that the fees for inspections, building permit fees and plan of subdivision are changing without any real public consultation. They just arbitrarily change them. They've come to me and I'm sure they've talked to all the members. I said, "There must be some process for you to appeal this." Well, there isn't.
Mr O'Toole: They just change the bylaw is all they do. I personally would support the fact that they're open and transparent and they're cost-recoverable. I said to them, "If it takes an engineer five hours to review" --
Mr Johnston: It seems to me there are a couple of options. First of all, we could begin the second sentence by saying, "Homebuilding representatives urged that stronger legislation be introduced to ensure taxes, fees and charges...."
Mr Johnston: With respect, part of the difficulty may be that if they're not entirely specific about which fees they are concerned about, it may be difficult for us to identify whether there is an appeal --
Mr Christopherson: Maybe that's the point, to actually say that. That last part, where you said "where none exists," is really our words but does make their point more salient. I could live with all that and the last bit that you just offered, Joe. I could live with that.
Mr Johnston: My suggestion there was that you could clarify again who was urging the government to resist the demands from municipal governments. So, "Government was urged by small business sector representatives to resist demands from municipal governments for additional taxation authority or other revenue-raising capacity."
The Chair: Is that agreed? OK. The amended report will be sent to the subcommittee members. You've got to give the clerk a time frame -- if you haven't heard back in 24 hours, then it's deemed to be acceptable.
We also have to authorize the report. I need a motion to forward a copy of the report in English only -- we need a couple of weeks for translation -- to the Minister of Finance prior to its being tabled in the House.
The Chair: The summaries, which were the preliminary information that was sent to committee members, will not be included in the final report; it will just be the report as amended, with the appendices. OK?