Monday 3 December 1990
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Chair: Caplan, Elinor (Oriole L)
Vice-Chair: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)
Beer, Charles (York North L)
Haeck, Christel (St. Catharines-Brock NDP)
Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent NDP)
Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)
Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie NDP)
McLeod, Lyn (Fort William L)
Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre NDP)
Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)
Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West PC)
Witmer, Elizabeth (Waterloo North PC)
Clerk: Freedman, Lisa
Staff: Swift, Susan, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 1530 in room 151.
Clerk of the Committee: Honourable members, it is my duty to call upon you to elect a Chair. I am open for nominations.
Mr Beer: I nominate Mrs Caplan to be named Chair of this committee.
Mr Martin: I second the nomination.
Clerk of the Committee: Are there any further nominations? I declare the nominations closed and Mrs Caplan is elected Chair.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I am pleased to assume the Chair. I look forward to working with everyone. I have had an opportunity to serve on committee before. I feel that it is an extremely important part of the legislative process and that all members should have an opportunity at committee to participate in meaningful debate.
The selection of a Vice-Chairman, I think, is the next order of business. We will do that. Are there any nominations?
Mrs McLeod: I nominate Mr Cordiano.
Mr Owens: I second the nomination.
Mrs McLeod: I would indicate that I am nominating him in absentia but he has agreed to accept the position, I understand.
The Chair: Are there any other nominations? Motion carried.
The appointment by the committee of subcommittees: Any discussion on this matter before we proceed to do this? I have asked the clerk to give us a presentation on the workings of committees so that we can answer any questions any of the members have, but it is my understanding that the subcommittee has three members and that the Chair acts as the Chair, of course. There is one member from each caucus and there is substitution permitted on that committee as there is on the committee as a whole. So for the purpose of the subcommittee what we could do, if it is acceptable, is to have the whip of each of the caucuses as the official appointee to the subcommittee. Then that can change by substitution if that is agreeable to everyone, if the whips want to discuss that or if anyone wants to actually be nominated. What is your pleasure?
Mr Beer: We had a brief discussion and I think that would be fine with all the whips.
Mr Owens: I so move.
The Chair: So Mr Owens would move that the whips from each caucus form a subcommittee with the Chair as chairman. A seconder for that? Mr Beer. All in favour? Carried.
The third matter on the organization agenda for today really involves the business of the committee and the operations of the committee. If the members would like, the clerk could take us through some of the procedures, how the committee works, what everyone's role is and so forth. Is that something you would like? Okay.
Clerk of the Committee: I have handed out a couple of documents to you and the research officer has handed out a document that she will address which will explain the role of the research officer as well.
The document that I would like to address has the title, "Powers of the Chair." The powers of the Chair of the standing committee are substantially the same as those of the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. The standing orders provide that a Chair maintain order and decorum and decide all questions of order and procedure. These are the same duties that the Speaker or the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House would be conducting in the House.
The decision of a Chair is not debatable and is only subject to appeal by a majority of members. That is in the form of a motion directing a decision by the Speaker on the Chair's ruling and that is covered under standing order 118. Normally the Chair does not vote. If you have a situation where you have an equal number of votes in the committee on any given matter, then the Chair will cast a vote, being the deciding vote. Other than that, the Chair does not normally participate in the general debate of the committee. However, the Chair has the right to secure the progress of the business of the committee.
The Chair: Are there any questions from anyone on that first part as to the role of the Chair or on what it means to secure the progress of the business of the committee?
Clerk of the Committee: The role of the clerk in the committee is that of an impartial servant of the House, assigned to work with the committee by the Clerk of the House. We are the principal adviser on rules, procedures and practices of the House in its committees. Our main contact is with the Chair, but we are available to answer questions of all members of the committee.
In addition to the procedural role, we are the chief administrative officer for the committee and we operate in this role subject to the direction of the Chair and the committee or members of the committee in the form of a subcommittee. We have the responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the committee and its needs. We, as clerks, are required to be present, not only just at the meetings of the full committee but also at the meetings of the subcommittees.
The committees have several areas of having work assigned to them. We have the situation where the House may refer legislation in the form of either a government bill, a public bill or a private member's private bill. Also, there may be subject matter referred to the committee from the House. Those items are usually contained in the form of the terms of reference, which may be expanded to include time frame or may be restricted only to just the referral of the subject matter or the bill.
Under standing orders 104 and 106, a committee may study any item that falls within the policy field of the committee, and in this particular case the committee is responsible for the ministries of Community and Social Service, Education, Health, Colleges and Universities, and Skills Development, and to those responsible for senior citizens and disabled people. Under those areas of responsibility there are agencies, boards and commissions and they also can fall within the subject matter that the committee can study under standing orders 104 and 106.
There is another provision that the committee may study certain subject matters, and those subject matters can be studied under standing order 123. That standing order allows for each caucus, once in each calendar year, to designate a subject matter that can be studied for a total time of not more than 12 hours. During that time the committee may wish to study the matter and just have particular items going on the record. It may wish to write a report.
When that designation by a caucus comes to a committee, it is referred to the subcommittee and that subcommittee puts together the specifics of the study the committee is going to do. When the subcommittee reports back to the committee, the report from the subcommittee on standing order 123 is deemed to be adopted. This means it cannot be amended. Anything that is contained within that document must remain the same. The areas of study, again, are the same as for standing orders 104 and 106 within the policy field of the committee.
If there are any questions you would like me to address, I would be happy to do so. I have also provided a document to you regarding designated matters under standing order 123. It is quite extensive, the reason being that this standing order is new. It just indicates to most members of the committee just how they should proceed. There is also a copy of the letter that you would submit to the Chair and the clerk when you designate your particular matter.
Mr J. Wilson: I have a question of the clerk and yourself, Madam Chair. Can we today submit a matter for designation under section 123?
Clerk of the Committee: You can submit that at any time, in the form of the letter to the Chair, myself or both, preferably both.
The Chair: I thought the whips might want to meet following this organization meeting to discuss that and any other orders of business, to prepare for the next meeting of the committee. I know that kind of request can be made at any time from any member, noting that each caucus can only make that request once during every sitting.
Mr J. Wilson: For the record, I would like to submit a designation today, if I may, on behalf of my colleague the member for Waterloo North, Elizabeth Witmer, who is unable to be here because of inclement weather. Although I will not be on the subcommittee she is the designated whip -- I would like to meet with the whips after proceedings today.
The Chair: I am sure the whips will be pleased to meet to discuss those issues. Are there any other questions or comments at this time? I will just note that there were two subcommittees to be established; one was the business subcommittee and the other was the subcommittee on committee business. The wording that was proposed by the clerk was that we do compose the business subcommittee and that said subcommittee meet from time to time at the call of the Chair to consider and report to the committee on the business of the committee and that substitution be permitted on the business subcommittee and that the presence of all members of the business subcommittee is necessary to constitute a meeting.
I think it is the same wording for the subcommittee on committee business. If it is acceptable to everyone that we use those wordings, I think we will probably make the clerks' lives a little bit easier. All right. What we did, however, was to have all three whips appointed to both of those subcommittees, and the Chair.
The distinction between the two is the reporting process. The other one is that the subcommittee on committee business be appointed and that it report to the committee on the business of the committee and that substitution be permitted, that the presence of all members of the subcommittee is necessary to constitute -- so they are both the same, with the reporting process being slightly different.
So that is done and corrected. Any other comments any member of the committee would like to make?
Ms Drummond: If everyone could turn to his lurid green sheet, Lynn has gone over in quite a lot of detail what the committee does. This explains in general what the research service has done for committees. I am just going to go over it very quickly to elaborate on what has been done by research in the past in this particular committee.
The first task, of working with the subcommittee and committee to plan research requirements, of course, is pretty straightforward. The second item, on preparing background papers, has not been used a great deal in this committee, although in the last session it was used under the 12-hour rule. I prepared a briefing on food banks in preparation for those hearings.
The other two that are relevant are the last two. The ongoing summaries of submissions and evidence to the committee have been particularly useful in the past for this committee, partly because often the social development committee is looking at rather complex bills. What we do is, we take all the witnesses' submissions and summarize them with reference to each clause of the bill so that as you look at section 1, you see what everybody has said that is relevant to that. That becomes useful if there are 100 sections.
The other thing that has been useful in this committee is that often, because of the nature of the subjects that social development deals with, not all of the people appearing before the committee are accustomed to appearing before the House, so they do not always even have written briefs, do not always address legislation in a very specific way. In the past the committee has found that portion of our work quite useful.
Finally, drafting the committee's reports to the House: The food banks report is the last time, in the last session, that this service was used. Again, because of the time constraints under that rule, they seemed to have found it very useful.
The only other thing I would like to emphasize is that it is customary for the committee's research request -- that is, research that would be distributed to the whole committee to come through the Chair, but any member can raise that with the Chair, either in committee or in subcommittee. That would often happen. Somebody would know of work that might be useful to everybody, so that would be given to the Chair and distributed to the whole committee.
Finally, in the last sentence it notes that members can speak to the researcher privately to arrange confidential research for their own purposes, which is what the service does for all members at all times.
The Chair: The research service is excellent. I know that all members will take advantage of it, as well as appreciate it. I am looking forward to the work of the committee.
We welcome the leader of the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Unless anyone has any further items of business, or anything he would like to discuss at this meeting, I would suggest that there is time, if the three whips want to meet for the first subcommittee meeting, to set a time. We could do that.
Mr Beer: I just have one question. The 12 hours that are given over to the study of a particular topic, each party can do that once in a session or a calendar year?
Clerk of the Committee: Once each calendar year.
Mr Beer: So if we want to do something in this calendar year, we have to do that before --
Clerk of the Committee: You do not have to actually conduct the business, but you have to be in receipt of the request and the subcommittee must report on the matter eight days before the last sitting day. The committee cannot receive the subcommittee's report in the last eight sitting days before recess.
Mr Beer: Which would mean that in order to deal with the request we would have to --
Clerk of the Committee: -- receive the subcommittee report by Thursday.
Mr Beer: I just wanted to be clear, because it would mean that anything dealt with in this calendar year has to be done before Christmas.
Clerk of the Committee: To be dealt with?
Mr Beer: Yes.
Clerk of the Committee: But if it has been received, it could be dealt with, if there is time, in the next calendar year.
Mr Beer: And would that count as the 12 hours for that?
Clerk of the Committee: It would count as the 12 hours for this calendar year. Although the committee did not have time to deal with it, it would be counted. Say, for example, it was dealt with in January, it would not be counted as the 1991 request for that caucus if it was received and dealt with by the subcommittee before that time.
Mr Beer: I just want to be clear. In other words, the motion that was placed before us today by our colleague, if the committee decided to do that, it could also be done in January, for example, and would not count as 1991?
Clerk of the Committee: Provided the subcommittee's report is received on Thursday. If the subcommittee meets tomorrow and decides to deal with the item, then it can be --
Mr Beer: As long as we do that before Thursday.
The Chair: This committee has authority to sit Mondays and Tuesdays, so really the subcommittee would almost have to deal with it today and table the report tomorrow or seek special authority to sit on Thursday, which it may or may not get from the House leaders. Is there anything else from any members?
Mr Beer: I suggest, in order not to get into a lot of discussions with House leaders in rearranging things, that perhaps we try to meet so that we could report briefly tomorrow. We would not need a long meeting, but if we could report tomorrow then that would deal with that request within the context of 1990, if that is agreeable. Shall I make a motion to that effect?
The Chair: If there is agreement, a motion is not necessary.
Mr Beer: So we would meet tomorrow briefly to deal with a report from the subcommittee?
The Chair: The full committee would meet tomorrow at 3:30, immediately following question period.
Mr Beer: That is the traditional time to meet, at 3:30. If this committee room is being used for something else, then we can --
Clerk of the Committee: You are assigned to this room.
The Chair: So there is a request that the committee meet again tomorrow, immediately following question period, to deal with this matter. As far as the procedures are concerned, if another caucus wanted to present a request, does that have to be done at full committee, or can that be presented to the Chair prior to the committee and dealt with --
Clerk of the Committee: The request may be sent to the office of the Chair and/or the clerk. It does not have to be tabled in the committee.
The Chair: Is everyone clear on that?
Mr Hope: Could we have some clarity on what you just said?
The Chair: The request from a caucus can be made directly to the office of the Chair or the clerk and can be dealt with by the subcommittee without being formally tabled at the committee. If your caucus wanted to table something prior to the meeting tomorrow, it could be dealt with.
Mr Malkowski: Could you please clarify the roles? I just want to clarify the role of an interpreter here so that you will facilitate my participation in this committee. Those individuals wishing to bring a point, please raise their hand, and I would ask the Chair to please identify that person prior to speaking. That would assist me in participating in this committee.
The Chair: You would like me to identify by name the member who is making a request?
Mr Malkowski: Any time any member of the committee participates in the discussion, I would appreciate it if each member would raise his or her hand and then you, as the Chair, identify the individual who is going to be speaking, prior to his making his point or speaking at all in the committee.
The Chair: Two signals were used commonly in committee. One was to raise your hand to signify that you want to be on the list and then the Chairman will call out the name on the list in order and, from time to time, mention who is next on the list or how long the speakers' list is.
The other thing I have done in the past in meetings is, if someone has a question, rather than just asking to be put on the list as a speaker, to use the question mark, which says you have a specific question, usually based on remarks of the person speaking. If that is acceptable, you can try that.
Mr Malkowski: But, Chair, if you would not mind identifying the member when they are speaking.
The Chair: All right. Mr Hope.
Mr Hope: Randy is fine, Elinor. I guess we can go on a first-name basis. Just to elaborate a little on Gary's points, as this is a unique committee in itself due to the simple fact that Gary is deaf and needs an interpreter, it would be most appropriate that members take a little time in their comments to help the interpreters keep up to speed so that Gary is able to participate fully in the program we are about to enter into.
I do not know if we want to get into "Mr Beer" or "Mrs McLeod." I would suggest that if first names are not offensive to anybody, I would really keep it more personal. I think we are supposed to work together on trying to develop something and I think the first-name basis would be most appropriate.
Mrs McLeod: I think there can be a collegiality in first-name basis outside the formal record, but I would ask for some clarification in terms of the formal record. We may need to have a formal identification.
The Chair: That has been the practice in committees. Then when we speak to each other, informality takes over. But it has been my experience that in committee, for the record it does record the member's formal name.
Mr Beer: I would just add that as we go along, if there are any other things that would help our colleague to understand what we are doing, I think we would all want to help in any way. Perhaps somewhat tongue in cheek I would just say that every now and then some members do sort of suddenly blurt something out. As long as we understand that that is part of the parliamentary tradition as well, I am sure we can deal with ensuring that Gary is aware of who is speaking and what we are saying and all of those things.
The Chair: I think there is a desire from everyone on the committee to ensure that we facilitate not only the special needs of individual members, but encourage the participation of all members. As part of the role and responsibility of the Chairman, I will do everything I can to both facilitate and encourage that to happen.
Anything further? The meeting is adjourned. We will meet again tomorrow at 3:30.
The committee adjourned at 1558.