ADELYN L. BOWLAND
Tuesday 16 February 1993
Adelyn L. Bowland
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
*Chair / Président: Runciman, Robert W. (Leeds-Grenville
*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Carr, Gary
(Oakville South/-Sud PC)
*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: McLean, Allan K. (Simcoe
*Bradley, James J. (St Catharines L)
Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)
*Cleary, John C. (Cornwall L)
Ferguson, Will, (Kitchener ND)
Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)
*Grandmaître, Bernard (Ottawa East/-Est L)
*Marchese, Rosario (Fort York ND)
Stockwell, Chris (Etobicoke West/-Ouest PC)
Waters, Daniel (Muskoka-Georgian Bay ND)
*Wiseman, Jim (Durham West/-Ouest ND)
*In attendance / présents
Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:
Abel, Donald (Wentworth North/-Nord ND) for Ms Carter
Carr, Gary (Oakville South/-Sud PC) for Mr Stockwell
Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot ND) for Mr Waters
Duignan, Noel (Halton North ND) for Mr Wiseman
Fletcher, Derek (Guelph ND) for Mr Ferguson
Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND) for Mr Frankford
Clerk / Greffière: Mellor, Lynn
Staff / Personnel: Pond, David, research officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 1009 in committee room 2.
Consideration of intended appointments.
The Chair (Mr Robert W. Runciman): We'll call the meeting to order. I'm going to change the agenda slightly because of the problems Mr Rabot is having in getting here from Ottawa. Hopefully he's going to be here at some point later this morning.
The Chair: Cicely McWilliam is here ahead of schedule, and we appreciate that. Ms McWilliam is intended appointee as a member of the Ontario Film Review Board. Would you like to say anything before we ask questions?
Ms Cicely McWilliam: No, just good morning, everyone. I'm glad we all made it through the snow all right and thank you for having me.
The Chair: Okay. We'll ask Mr Grandmaître to begin the questioning.
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): Just a few days ago, maybe 10 days ago, we had the Ontario Law Reform Commission before us. They were telling us that you people shouldn't be the people responsible for, let's say, the review of films on pornography, most of it. They were saying that you people are not qualified. What are your thoughts on that kind of statement?
Ms McWilliam: Although I certainly respect and have not been with the board before and obviously can't say what the quality or the qualifications of other board members are, I think that explicit sexual material -- I don't know if there is an expert on that. I think it is about what the community feels is appropriate and not appropriate. Certainly, the supreme courts of both Canada and the United States have had varying and shifting and changing views on what is and what is not pornography, and I think finally it has to be something that comes from the community.
If the board is representative of the community, if there is an attempt to ensure a representative board, then I see no reason why the board couldn't maintain its current status of reviewing those types of films. But I have not read what the commission has stated. I don't know who they feel is better qualified and that might change my opinions once I've read that document.
Mr Grandmaître: What are your thoughts? Give us your definition of "pornography."
Ms McWilliam: I think that pornography is kind of like bad art. You know it when you see it. It's very difficult to say. It's a matter of context. Once Lady Chatterley's Lover was definitely pornographic; now it's literature. It's very difficult to sort of say this act plus this act in this scene is definitely pornographic. There's a context and there's a desire to determine -- there's an intent on the part of the creators, I think, which has to come into play. So I couldn't give you a blanket statement on what I think pornography is. As I said, it's like bad art. You know what you don't like, or you know it when you see it.
Mr Grandmaître: I realize it is difficult, very difficult. What would you like the Ontario Film Review Board to do in such cases? What are your thoughts? Will you be bringing something new to the review board?
Ms McWilliam: I hope so; I certainly hope so. I think I offer an interesting perspective in that as far as I know anyway, I would be the first openly lesbian on the board. I have a perspective from both the women's community -- I am very aware of the pro-censorship side of the women's community and I'm also very aware of the anti-censorship side of both the women's community and the gay male community.
I must say that personally I find censorship has not been as effective a tool as its proponents would like to believe. I think education is often a far better tool, primarily because women and the lesbian-gay community have been negatively affected by censorship in the past where legitimate expressions of our happiness, our sexuality and our voices, both political and sexual, have been censored. So I'm a little leery of censorship as a broad-stroke kind of measure or tool. I'm much more comfortable using the board as an educational tool.
Mr Grandmaître: Is this the first time the lesbian group or gay group will be represented on the board, to your knowledge?
Ms McWilliam: No. There is gay male representation on the board, but as far as I know at this stage, there aren't openly lesbian members on the board that I'm aware of.
Mr Grandmaître: Give me an example of the kind of discrimination you're talking about against gays and lesbians as far as the review board is concerned.
Ms McWilliam: I'm not implying that there is direct discrimination in relation to the review board. What I'm saying is that I offer a perspective on past discrimination and past censoring of voice that the lesbian and gay community is sensitive to. So I'm not for a moment saying that I think the board has discriminatory practices at the moment.
Mr Grandmaître: Did you apply for this appointment or were you asked to sit on the board?
Ms McWilliam: Actually, I was made aware of openings and I applied.
Mr Grandmaître: You applied?
Ms McWilliam: Yes.
Mr Grandmaître: Specifically to the Ontario Film Review Board?
Ms McWilliam: Specifically to the Ontario Film Review Board.
Mr Grandmaître: If you did apply specifically to the Ontario Film Review Board, you must have a good idea of what these people are doing and the new things this board should be doing. You must know something about the review board if you applied.
Ms McWilliam: Well --
Mr Grandmaître: You don't apply for a job if you don't. What qualifies you?
Mr Derek Fletcher (Guelph): Look what happened to me.
Mr Grandmaître: That's another problem.
Ms McWilliam: In all seriousness, Mr Grandmaître, I don't think I was implying that I was unaware of the work of the film board. I was saying that because I have not been privy to, have not been part of the process, I may not be aware of what the film board does procedurally. I'm aware of its current mandate which is to reflect a community and to provide classification of films, and in some circumstances to act as censor. I am aware of that mandate, I'm comfortable with that mandate and I'm looking forward to, or willing to participate in it.
My comment was that I was unaware of any discriminatory practices within the board at present and I'm not implying that there are. That was all I was saying, and I am perfectly comfortable in saying that I am unaware how the board functions procedurally because I have not been on the board. That's all.
Mr Grandmaître: Do you have an artistic background?
Ms McWilliam: I've had some film background admittedly, but my primary involvement in terms of work and what I've done recently has been with the lesbian and gay community. I have not worked directly in an artistic field in, well, two years now, I guess maybe three years.
Mr Grandmaître: Are you telling me that your group is supportive of you to sit on this board because they don't feel they're getting a fair shake from the review board?
Ms McWilliam: There was no process to either elect or nominate me from the community --
Mr Grandmaître: No, I'm not saying elect, but favoured you or --
Ms McWilliam: No, I'm not claiming to be a representative for the community, merely representative of the community, being that I'm a lesbian and a feminist.
Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): I see here that you're an administrative director. Will this appointment help you and assist you in your job? My second question: I'd like to know a little bit more about who you work for. Is there any provincial funding?
Ms McWilliam: No.
Mr Cleary: It's all raised through corporate --
Ms McWilliam: The Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal of Toronto is a broad-based, fund-raising and funding body and what we do, what the appeal does is it goes to the community and it goes to corporations requesting funds which it then, in turn, turns over to community projects and community groups. I do not see any crossover between the potential job at the film board and my job at the appeal. They're very separate. There would be no crossover interests or conflicts.
Mr Cleary: I see that you're Toronto-based. Do the same organizations apply in other parts of Ontario too, or is this mostly Toronto?
Ms McWilliam: It's primarily a Toronto organization. We have had requests for funding outside Toronto, but primarily we're a small funding body and we mainly get our requests inside the Metro Toronto area.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): Good morning. I see you've made three eight- to 10-minute films. What were they of?
Ms McWilliam: They were just student films. There was one about women's spirituality, one about women's health concerns and AIDS, and the third one was about drug addiction.
Mr McLean: Do you see the jurisdictional conflict between the board and the police as a problem or do you know that there's been a conflict there?
Ms McWilliam: I am aware that there has been mention of a conflict in the past. Essentially, it really depends on a couple of things. Primarily, the board is not an enforcement body; it recommends policy and classifies films. In the final analysis, the police will have the discretionary power to go in and seize film. However, one of the things that concerns me in terms of police involvement and film seizure is that the police are not representative, generally speaking. I think it's recognized by numerous sources that they do not represent the community by and large. It's primarily a white organization; it's primarily a male organization. There are not as many out lesbian and gay people as I would like to see on the police force, certainly. So they're not a representative body.
My assumption is that the board and its members are representative and that it would be able to set perhaps community standards a little bit better, in my mind. But at the same time, as I said, in the final analysis, the board will continue to classify films and the police will continue to have the discretionary power to seize them if they perceive them to be unacceptable.
Mr McLean: Have you ever had the opportunity to sit in at the film review board to view films?
Ms McWilliam: Unfortunately, not yet, no.
Mr McLean: You'll find that quite an experience. I have, and it's certainly an eye-opener.
Do you have some questions?
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): Yes. Welcome and thank you for coming in. You mentioned that you were made aware of the position. Who made you aware of it?
Ms McWilliam: Of which? I'm sorry.
Mr Carr: You said you were made aware of the position.
Ms McWilliam: Keith Hambly, who's the vice-chair.
Mr Carr: What is your political affiliation? Are you affiliated with the NDP at all?
Ms McWilliam: Actually, in some ways that question bothers me. It sort of rings a lot of memories of other kinds of committees. But, actually, I'm a Liberal; my party membership at least at the moment.
Mr Carr: Oh, good. One last question: How do you see yourself? I know you're only one member, but where will we see the board after you're on it? Do you see more or less censorship than we have now?
Ms McWilliam: That's an interesting question. In terms of where I stand, first of all, I'm very much concerned about violence, much more than sex. So if in fact my experience on the board shows me that the level of violence is such that I was not prepared for, if I'm surprised by it, I'd be much more likely personally to censor something that was violent than something that was sexual.
Mr Carr: Good, okay. Thank you very much, and good luck.
Mr McLean: I have a follow-up on that. I think that's what you'll find, that there will be more violence and blood. I've seen some of them there. I didn't see many that were sexual, but you will see lots of violent things, and I hope you curtail some of it.
The Chair: Mr Fletcher and then Mr Marchese.
Mr Fletcher: As far as the film board is concerned, do you think it should have the power of censorship? Right now it has that power.
Ms McWilliam: Yes, right now they have that power. As I said, I don't necessarily see it as the most effective tool, I must admit, primarily because a lot of the harshest violent and sexually explicit material is illegal and never gets seen by the film board; it gets put through the network very surreptitiously. But I think that the board has the potential to really be a very effective body for education, because in the final analysis, if we're talking about adults being unable to see things, I have a very hard time saying that we should be censoring what adults see.
The concern, I think, for most people is centred on children. At the same time, parents have the responsibility to be active in parenting, but they need the tools to do that appropriately or properly. I think that if the board has an expanded role in terms of being able to explain to people what the classifications mean, maybe to have reviews available for public consumption or review, which will give parents a better understanding of what they mean by "may offend some" in relation to this particular film or what they mean by "violence," what the scale is, then parents can make that decision whether or not to go see it with their kids or to deny access to this film to their kids.
If we're really concerned, we should really be concerned about kids, as opposed to adults. If that's the case, then we have to work with parents to provide them the tools to properly parent.
Mr Fletcher: Yes. I have some concerns about censorship, but I also have some concerns about what goes on, what people have access to, and that's the dichotomy. What do you think about censorship?
Ms McWilliam: As I said, I don't find it as --
Mr Fletcher: Only in violent things.
Ms McWilliam: Yes, only in violent things. That's different. But again, it's about context, right? For example, you have a violent rape --
Mr Fletcher: What about the emotional treatment of women that may not be direct violence but is degrading? I can have some qualms about that, but it isn't, you know -- lifestyle or whatever, that sort of thing.
Ms McWilliam: The thing about the situation for women is it's very complex. There are a lot of insidious, sexist things that are seen through advertising, through television, through fairy tales that give a very bad message to children and to young women. Again, if you use censorship as a broad-stroke tool, you're not going to get the messages that are really affecting children at a very young age.
I had a very interesting discussion with a woman about Disney. Now I love Disney and I would never want to censor Disney, but she brought up some excellent points, things like darker-skinned Arabs in the new Aladdin film are the evil ones whereas the lighter-skinned Arabs are the good guys. I mean, all those are very insidious things. It's all very subliminal, and if we're going to tackle and really make a better world for people of colour, for women, for gays and lesbians, we can't use broad-stroke kinds of tools. We must look at fine-tuning.
Mr Fletcher: Okay. This fine-tuning, should it be in the hands of the OFRB, or should it be in the hands of someone else?
Ms McWilliam: It should be a joint effort with, I think, the board, education, parents and filmmakers. It has to be across the board, is my point. It can't be a slash-and-burn on the part of the board.
Mr Fletcher: Thanks, Cicely.
The Chair: Mr Marchese.
Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): Cicely, how do we reconcile some of those sometimes irreconcilable differences between individuals and communities, the individual perspective and the community perspective, which might vary; the perspective of the police, which some would argue reflects the community and some would argue does not reflect the community very well? How do we reconcile the civil libertarians' view of the world in terms of some of the concerns they raise about what should be censored and what should not? How do you deal with those conflicts?
Ms McWilliam: Hopefully, you deal with it as a board as a whole. Certainly, when you have a representative board, you will have not only a representative board in terms of colour, in terms of race, in terms of sexuality, in terms of gender, but you also have a representative board in terms of ideology. No one person on the board can reconcile those issues, certainly not in all cases. So in the end it will be the responsibility of the board as a whole to work together to reconcile those issues.
Mr Marchese: I could see in the beginning, of course, having many, many conflicts. I've been in different situations where, because you have different people of different backgrounds, socioeconomic status even and ideology, in the beginning you would have a great deal of irreconcilable differences. I suppose after a great deal of time in working things out, it might work out, but I can see that there would be very little agreement in the beginning, don't you think?
Ms McWilliam: That hasn't been my experience. Maybe that is the experience of partisan politics, but when you're talking about community groups working together, I haven't had that experience. I have oftentimes had the opposite, that it takes a relatively short time, especially if people are going into a situation where they're willing to discuss differences but listen to other people as well. I would think the responsibility of the chair and the vice-chair is to ensure that people are open to listening to differences.
Mr Marchese: Right. What you describe sounds very much like what we do here in this committee. We're also friendly and break down barriers and political ideologies. You should watch this committee at work.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): He hasn't lost his sense of humour.
Mr Marchese: Cicely, what's your view of the availability of slasher films?
Ms McWilliam: I have a very hard time with slasher films, it's true. I think that artistically, they lack any artistic merit whatsoever. So I have a problem with them and I have a problem with that kind of violence against women. I would be much more likely to censor something like that, because I do find they are so devoid of merit.
I use this as an example to try to show you why I look at things in terms of context. There can be a very violent rape scene in a pornographic film and then there can be the rape scene in The Accused, which is equally graphic and equally violent, but the difference in the two films is obvious when you see them as a whole. For me to just come up and say, "I would cut out every single violent rape scene I ever see," is ridiculous. I simply can't do that. But I can certainly say that I recognize the difference.
Mr Marchese: Given the comment that there is no artistic value to them, I was about to ask you how you were going to match that view with the view of context, but you answered it by saying you've got to see it in context to be able to determine.
Ms McWilliam: Exactly. I can say in general that I find that side of filmmaking has little to no artistic merit, but there may be that one film, who knows.
Mr Marchese: Are you aware of the current human rights case in which two women charged that the Ontario Film Review Board has discriminated against them by permitting the distribution of slasher films?
Ms McWilliam: Yes. I am aware of it.
Mr Marchese: What is your view of that?
Ms McWilliam: Actually, because I was concerned about that, I spoke with Keith Hambly, who is a vice-chair and who told me about the positions. They have started to look at this material. I don't think I'm telling tales out of school to say that they don't think they saw most of these films, because a lot of these films are older films that came out prior to the film review board taking on videos, or films that go directly to videos, in terms of those films being under their purview.
I certainly respect what the women are doing. I think it's important that if you have strong feelings about something, you make those feelings known to the board, whether you do it this way, through the human rights commission, whether you do it through coming on the board or whatever mechanism you choose to use. It's important that the message about the concern gets out. But I don't know how accurate their claim is and I certainly couldn't say either way until I saw the material.
Mr Marchese: Cicely, I wish you luck on the board.
Ms McWilliam: Thank you.
The Chair: Ms McWilliam, that concludes your appearance this morning. We appreciate you coming through the snowstorm and wish you well.
Our next witness hasn't arrived, members. I'm going to take a chance and suggest we break until 11, and hopefully you'll all be back here so that we at least have a quorum and can get going again at 11 o'clock.
Mr Bradley: Do we have to leave?
The Chair: I'm leaving. You can stay if you wish. We'll adjourn until 11 o'clock.
The committee recessed at 1034 and resumed at 1102.
The Chair: I'm going to call the meeting back to order. We have a witness scheduled for 11 am, Lisa Steele. I'm advised that Mr Rabot has now arrived, but I think we'll go ahead with the schedule. Is that going to create a problem for Mr Rabot? All right. I think we'll have Ms Steele, since she was scheduled for this time slot. Come forward, please. Welcome to the committee. Ms Steele is an intended appointee as a member of the Art Gallery of Ontario board of trustees. It's a half-hour review. Would you like to say anything briefly before we commence the questions?
Ms Lisa Steele: No, I'm anxious to know what you want to know of me. Good morning.
The Chair: Okay, we'll ask Mr McLean to begin the questioning.
Mr McLean: I will start the questioning. I've reviewed your résumé and I see that you've been involved in the arts for many, many years.
Ms Steele: Yes, I have.
Mr McLean: Are you a Canadian citizen?
Ms Steele: Yes, I am.
Mr McLean: You came from Arizona or somewhere?
Ms Steele: Not quite that far -- Missouri.
Mr McLean: I have followed the arts very closely. The membership has gone down --
Ms Steele: At the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Mr McLean: -- and the expenditures and the grants from the government have gone up.
Ms Steele: Specifically at the institution, the Art Gallery of Ontario, yes.
Mr McLean: That's right. What do you find wrong with that?
Ms Steele: I think the Art Gallery of Ontario has had a series of problems that may relate to its public face. Not having been involved with some of the decisions, I'm not sure why the particular kind of membership and attendance might go down. I wasn't aware that the attendance had gone down in a dramatic way. Could you acquaint me with the figures? I just wasn't aware of it.
Mr McLean: Yes, the attendance has gone down from 450,000 in 1988-89 to 279,000 in 1991-92. The operating grants have gone from $7.8 million in 1989-90 to $9.5 million in 1992-93. I see there's a task force recommending that the increase in private funding go from 20% to 40%. What would your opinion on that be?
Ms Steele: Of the corporate fund-raising that the task force was recommending?
Mr McLean: Yes. Do you think that goal can be met?
Ms Steele: I think it's an ambitious goal and I understand why the task force made the recommendation, understanding that there are not necessarily increasing amounts of government funding available. I think there need to be innovative programs that would be developed to do that kind of fund-raising, with the kind of board members that, theoretically, the Art Gallery of Ontario should be able to attract: high-profile members of the community who are interested in the arts. I think if we had people out there in the boardrooms of corporate Canada speaking on behalf of the arts in a way that would put forward a credible case -- and I think the art gallery's artistic record is not a poor record; it's a very good record -- it's possibly attainable. I can also understand why the task force recommended this. It may be that it will take a number of years to reach that goal, but I think it should be looked at as a possibility.
Mr McLean: The task force also recommends that they "should develop a visual arts policy for the province which promotes increasing self-sufficiency of community galleries, and that the role of the AGO should be redefined as a part of the new visual arts policy." Given that your background is in visual arts, what should Ontario's visual arts policy be, or look like, in your opinion?
Ms Steele: I think it would be one that would take into account the variety of people who live throughout the province, in the north and communities outside of Metropolitan Toronto. I think some of the criticism that was levelled at the Art Gallery of Ontario during the review process had to do with what is referred to as the Torontocentric position that the Art Gallery of Ontario has assumed at times. I think that's part of a visual arts policy that needs to take into account exchanges also with other galleries.
One thing that I think the Art Gallery of Ontario is interested in, that would be important in my view and in the view of a number of people who come from my community, would be an exchange process: not just a going out from the centre to the "regions," but bringing work and artists from different parts of the province into Toronto, into the Art Gallery of Ontario for exhibition to the public at large.
Mr McLean: Back in August, a Toronto Star article quoted Garry Conway from an advocacy group for visual artists as stating: "The AGO richly deserves its fate" -- and that was the closing -- "because it doesn't adequately support young Canadian artists." What are your comments on that?
Ms Steele: I know why he said that, and I think that as a representative of Canadian Artists' Representation Ontario, which is the Ontario arm of a national organization, CARFAC, he must look at the overall picture. I feel the AGO deserves to be supported by the province, by the forms of government that put support into it. I also think the AGO needs to be more aware of representing the works of contemporary Canadian artists, who include younger artists, but not simply restricted to younger artists. It needs to expand its exhibition policy to a certain extent, although I also think that the curators are to some degree doing a good job there and have kept the institution alive.
Mr McLean: Just on another little subject, I'd like your opinion. There's a large lot over here on the corner of Wellesley and Bay owned by the province. What should happen with that parcel of land?
Ms Steele: This is the former site of the Ballet Opera House?
Mr Marchese: Housing.
Mr McLean: I want her opinion, not yours.
Ms Steele: One of the most interesting proposals I heard during the Ballet Opera House revival of what might or might not happen with it was that someone was suggesting that Maple Leaf Gardens might become the new Ballet Opera House, which I think would be more appropriate. In terms of what happens to that parcel of land, I'm way over my head. I don't know.
Mr McLean: Maple Leaf Gardens might be --
Ms Steele: Might be the new Ballet Opera House.
Mr McLean: That might be all right too. Any more time, Mr Chair?
The Chair: Another three minutes.
Mr McLean: Would you have any questions, Mr Carr?
Mr Carr: A quick one if I could. I apologize if you've already had this question; I missed the brief opening. Sometimes when you walk the halls, you get stopped by various people.
The attendance figures, which have gone down steadily, are the big concern. I just wondered what your thoughts were about how we can improve it. I know it's an important question --
Mr Carr: Al said it was the same, so I just wondered.
Ms Steele: I think I was asked a slightly different question in correlation with money. In terms of improving attendance figures at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I think all public institutions face this. It depends on outreach, on making work relevant to communities of living people who are in proximity, as well as a part of tourism. I think all of those things relate to having a strong policy for outreach and creating a kind of profile for the organization and for the institution.
I was waiting with some apprehension before the opening of the new facility, a very beautiful facility which is very, very well done -- the exhibition areas are very well done. I think the gallery has begun a new start with that physical facility. The old facility was not a good facility for the public, for a variety of reasons. As an artist, it was not a good facility for contemporary art, nor were the collections able to be displayed in a way which showed the depth of the collection. That may be very technical and may not make much difference to you, but as an artist, it makes a lot of difference to me.
I also teach at the Ontario College of Art, and I have for about 12 years. One of the things we need to do is make sure that the art students at the secondary and post-secondary level have adequate access to the gallery for study purposes. This is done throughout Europe and in the United States, and it's extremely important. Once you make an audience member at a certain age, that audience member has a tendency to remain an audience participant, either directly as a member or as an occasional visitor.
I think those things are something that the Art Gallery of Ontario has on its agenda and that I would fully support. I think it's also quite possible to do that for museums, and large museums, which are not necessarily dinosaurs, which need to be controlled. I know spending has to be controlled and directions etc, but I also think it is an absolute necessity for the cultural life of the province.
Mr Carr: Good. Thank you.
Mr Fletcher: Just a couple of questions. You were talking about going to the boardrooms of corporate Canada. You don't have any qualms about going to du Maurier or Molson or Labatt's?
Ms Steele: I don't, but I am not a professional or a non-professional corporate fund-raiser. When I spoke about that, I would certainly participate in and feel that I would be a strong voice, and as a practising artist, I think I have a position to play there, but it is not a position of expertise. I would not be someone who is familiar with those areas, so I don't think I'm being asked to come on to the board of the Art Gallery of Ontario for my connections in corporate Canada.
Mr Fletcher: But if the AGO wished to go to the du Maurier foundation for money, you wouldn't have any problem with that?
Ms Steele: Oh, I know what you're talking about: because it's tobacco or alcohol.
Mr Fletcher: Tobacco or alcohol or anything else.
Ms Steele: Again, I would have to avail myself of previous decisions that might have been made or of current debates that might be going on. I don't have any moral position around the tobacco companies sponsoring things, and I know they have been large sponsors of the arts. I think it is an unfortunate situation that we are in if, in this country around the funding of the arts, we are forced to go to the disreputable corporations and we can't go to the reputable corporations that are supported throughout our communities to get support. This is something I know the performing arts have been struggling with very strongly. Wouldn't it be nice if IBM Canada supported big programs?
Mr Fletcher: IBM's having enough trouble supporting itself.
Ms Steele: Yes, indeed, but --
Mr Fletcher: I know what you mean.
Just one more question. The AGO, during the biggest recession we've been in, has gone through construction, or is going through construction, and has spent money left, right and centre. What's your position concerning the financial responsibilities of the people who are supposed to be directing what goes on, during a time of recession and cutbacks and still going out spending like drunken sailors?
Ms Steele: I don't share the term "going out and spending like drunken sailors," because I think it should be put in relationship with Olympia and York and corporations that have truly taken money out of the economy without putting anything back in. What the AGO has done was to attempt to keep the building open.
I do not support unbridled spending under any circumstances. I'm a part of the arts community where low levels of funding go into physical plant etc. At the same time, I think it is up to that institution to keep that building open and a vital part of the community. I think it should be put in proportion. The spending that has gone on -- the AGO responded, and I think responded very directly, with job cuts. The entire province shared in job cuts.
The cultural sector is not immune from job cuts. Certainly, in a highly publicized move, after it was not successful in getting the money which, over a period of time, I would say, it had been led to believe it would get -- the current government said, "No, we don't have the money to give you" -- the AGO responded by cutting jobs, by cutting some of the programs, but not by doing things in a way that would jeopardize the future of the organization, because it's open again and the public has welcomed the AGO back into the community.
If there was overspending, you knew about it, as far as I know. It's not going on now, I will assume. I don't know, I'm not on the board, I haven't access to the books yet.
Mr Fletcher: I like that "yet." Thank you.
Mr Marchese: Welcome to this committee today. A few questions, because I think I only have five minutes. How much do I have, Mr Chair, just to be sure?
The Chair: A little over five.
Mr Marchese: Lisa, what is your connection to the AGO, or at least what has been your connection to it in the past?
Ms Steele: I've been an audience member since I moved to Toronto in 1968. I've been an avid attender. As an instructor at the Ontario College of Art, I frequently take my students to the Art Gallery of Ontario -- I teach contemporary media arts, video art in particular, and also film performance art -- and I frequently take them or assign them to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
My collaborative partner, Kim Tomczak, and I were the subject of a retrospective, a survey of our body of work, in 1989 and 1990, so we had our AGO show. We won't be having another one of those. My work is included in the permanent collection and has been collected there since 1975, which I believe is the first time it went into the collection. I was in the first exhibition of video arts that was done in Canada, which was done at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Mr Marchese: You've really described the kind of community experience you've had over the years that obviously would be helpful to the AGO. Do you think those experiences are things the AGO needs?
Ms Steele: I think the AGO needs artists on the board. I am a senior artist and I'm recognized as such nationally within my field of expertise, which is video art. The Ministry of Culture and Communications appointed me to the arts service organization review committee which met for a year; two years ago, it met for a year. I have been on the visual arts advisory committee at the Canada Council for three years. I am the past president of the Independent Film and Video Alliance, which is a national bilingual organization that represents about 6,000 members across the country.
I feel I have very strong credentials for coming to the Art Gallery of Ontario from a particular part of the community, which is the practising artist, as I teach within a visual arts and design school, the Ontario College of Art, as well as having specific ties and relationship with the media arts, which is a growing and important field in contemporary arts internationally. The Art Gallery of Ontario has exhibited its commitment to the media arts. It has a special exhibition area for video art at this point in the new wing.
Mr Marchese: A number of people have touched on the issue of funding by governments, or how the AGO fund-raises in order to maintain itself, or overspends, and so on. I know in France the minister of culture has a great deal of power and a great deal of credibility within the cabinet structure. In fact, in France they subsidize the arts quite a lot, unlike our experience here in Canada. What is your view of the role of governments, or for that matter the private sector, in terms of funding to the arts?
Ms Steele: I think it's a responsibility in the same way as the funding of education is. It performs partly an educational function. An organization such as the Art Gallery of Ontario is frequently the first and perhaps the most important contact young children have with the contemporary arts, which are frequently not within their own communities and which should be more in their own communities. This would be something I would hope the Art Gallery of Ontario, in outreach programs, would assist in, and it has. They have had a very big program for a number of years called Artists and Their Work. They send out artists on request from organizations such as a small gallery in Thunder Bay. I have been to Thunder Bay, to Sudbury, to Windsor, to Hamilton, to just about every place with a small regional gallery in the two-year period I was part of Artists and Their Work, from 1976 to 1978.
It was by being assisted by the Art Gallery of Ontario that these places -- I know personally how important it was to those institutions to actually have a contemporary artist there speaking to people in their communities. They would have high school students and also post-secondary students who would come in who are interested in the arts. We know we have young talented people out there in our province who want to meet an artist. It's kind of hard sometimes in Sudbury. It's good. As well, it's good for us to see work in other places, and we need to see more of it in Toronto.
Mr Marchese: I wish you luck on the board, Lisa.
Mr Bradley: I think you're being very presumptuous, Rosario.
Mr Marchese: Of course. I thought you would feel the same, Jim.
Mr Bradley: I guess you know how this committee works better than I.
My question relates first of all to -- you've alluded to it a number of times throughout your responses. If I were to ask you why you are an intended appointee by the government, what would your response be? Why would they select you over other people?
Ms Steele: I believe they would select me for the old reason that if you want something done, you ask a busy person. I'm extremely busy. I have tremendous, massive commitments -- and they're volunteer commitments -- that I do and have done over a period of years. I have been on a board of directors since 1974, consistently, of one community-based organization or another.
When I was asked if I was interested in the Art Gallery of Ontario, I said yes. I have, since that time, gone off -- I was treasurer of the board of the Nightingale Arts Council, which administers A Space Gallery. I have gone off the board of the Independent Film and Video Alliance, which I was on for a period of time, and I have shed my other commitments in anticipation of being able to put some worthwhile time into this. It's not a figurehead position, as far as I know. I've known two other people who have been on the board. They indicated to me that it was a serious commitment, which I have taken seriously.
I'm assuming that's why I was asked: because I have shown a willingness. Obviously, I don't think you get to be in positions on other boards of directors unless you have a certain respect within your own community, so I feel it's probably that also.
Mr Bradley: You are described in a biography or information provided on you, information we have, as an activist. Have you ever been politically active?
Ms Steele: Have I been politically active?
Mr Bradley: Yes.
Ms Steele: Would you define that?
Mr Bradley: Say, at a provincial or federal level.
Ms Steele: I've never joined a party. I'm not currently nor have I ever been a member of a political party. I haven't campaigned actively on behalf of anyone. I frequently attend meetings when there is an election to make sure that the candidates in my riding are acquainted with cultural issues. I feel it's my duty to do that and I always speak up in that sense. But I haven't been politically active at a provincial level or at a municipal level or at a federal level in an organized political party.
Mr Bradley: The reason I ask is that it gets to the question that's always a dilemma, I guess, in any country or any jurisdiction about what shall be shown at an art gallery. We have all read of certain people complaining that the last minister responsible was suggesting that what the art gallery was displaying was not necessarily appropriate. It always brings me to the concern about politically elected people, such as I, dictating what shall be in an art gallery. Do you have any specific comments or concerns about that?
Ms Steele: I would trust that you would not dictate, that neither you yourself or members of this committee would assume the position of dictating what is on a stage or in an art gallery, and I think you very much support the concept of arm's length, which is a funding principle that the arts councils as well as the institutions throughout the -- we enjoy that in a democratic society, and I feel privileged, as a member of that society, to participate in it as an audience member and to know that I'm looking at something which may have received funding, but it doesn't mean that because you're in the government you've selected it and put it on stage. I'm being allowed to think for myself. I may not like it. I can write a letter to the editor. But I'm not being spoonfed directly from a political position, and I think that's very important.
In terms of if people are appointed to boards or elected to boards there may be different positions that come forward, I don't think I have ever been seen to be a mouthpiece for anyone. I speak up in general on behalf of younger artists because I'm a teacher, and I think that's important, emerging artists, and that may be people who are not chronologically young but whose work has not come forward yet because it hasn't come into the public eye.
I think in Ontario right now we're in a very unique position to have a large number of people whose life experiences are coming from other sources perhaps than a more narrow kind of European cultural root. We have a richness which I think is starting to be reflected. Certainly, museums internationally in North America are reflecting this kind of change: the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the museum of contemporary art in San Francisco. Our own galleries in this country, the National Gallery of Canada as well as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, have had huge shows of indigenous people's art recently -- I'm sure if you're familiar with cultural activity you would have seen these -- with large catalogues. These works are so important that I would look forward to something like this happening at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It wouldn't be a first in this country.
Mr Bradley: There has been a confrontation of sorts between those who operate the gallery and the government over funding, and some may draw the conclusion, accurately or inaccurately, that the funding would be forthcoming more readily if the people who run the art gallery were to follow the suggestions of the Minister of Culture and Communications, who said she did not believe that what was in the art gallery was representative of what was in Ontario. Is there a danger that when the funding agency holds the purse-strings, in fact it will be able to dictate to the board of directors and those who actually operate an art gallery, and do you consider that to be a danger?
Ms Steele: I would consider it to be a danger. I would also refer you to the independent task force report, which I'm sure you're familiar with. These are the kinds of things that are being said from a variety of different voices. It's not simply the former minister of culture that I think you're speaking about now.
Mr Bradley: Yes.
Ms Steele: It's not simply one voice speaking to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Once the review process started to happen at the AGO, a number of people came forward from different perspectives and felt that the AGO was perhaps somewhat out of touch or could be improved, and I think that's another way to look at it. If I wanted to go on to the board of directors of anything or to be involved in it, to put my time into it, it wouldn't be to destroy what is strong in it; it would be to build something that would make the organization, the institution, stronger.
I don't see the problem of the Art Gallery of Ontario toeing any line with any ministry. I don't think artistically or curatorially there's any history of that. I don't see it happening. I see there is a change going on across the province and I think the people, through consultation, have given a very strong viewpoint to the AGO, a series of viewpoints which are not one-dimensional, they're multidimensional; many voices were heard. I think it's a very challenging time, but I would say from what I read and what I see at the gallery that the gallery's ready to accept that challenge.
Mr Bradley: Should any of the art work displayed have to pass the obscenity test of the Criminal Code of Canada?
Ms Steele: Have to pass the obscenity test? What is that?
Mr Bradley: Let's put it this way: We've had the film review board that we have dealt with this morning, and it classifies or actually censors films. They don't use the words "censor board" now because it's not in vogue to use the words "censor board," even though they do some censoring.
Ms Steele: Yes.
Mr Bradley: Is it your view that there should be no censorship of art which is displayed? In other words, the only censorship for which there is a sanction is the Criminal Code of Canada, people displaying something that violates the Criminal Code of Canada. Should everything in an art gallery fit into that category, that it does violate the Criminal Code of Canada as it relates to obscenity?
Ms Steele: I believe you're asking me to interpret something which is both legal and judicial and I'm really not -- I can give you an opinion, but I'm not prepared to say that either works should or should not pass the obscenity code. Is that what you --
Mr Bradley: The Criminal Code of Canada specifies what is obscene and what is not obscene.
Ms Steele: Yes.
Mr Bradley: The censor board has --
Ms Steele: But would the police come into the AGO and make that distinction?
Mr Bradley: The court finally determines, I guess.
Ms Steels: So would the works go before the court? Is that what you're suggesting?
Mr Bradley: Supposedly. I'm not suggesting it; I'm saying supposedly.
Ms Steele: Oh, I wouldn't agree with that, obviously. I mean that is quite clearly --
The Chair: We'll have to cut it off at that. Thank you. That concludes your appearance for this morning, Ms Steele, and we wish you well.
Ms Steele: Thank you.
The Chair: Our next witness is Peter Leiss. Mr Leiss, welcome to the committee.
Mr Peter Leiss: Good morning.
The Chair: Good morning. Mr Leiss is an intended appointee as a member of the Waste Reduction Advisory Committee. It's a half-hour review, Mr Leiss, as you've been witnessing. Do you have any brief comments you'd like to make before we get right into questions?
Mr Leiss: No, not really, other than I view it as an honour to be considered for appointment to the committee.
The Chair: All right, fine, thank you. Mr McLean, are you ready to start?
Mr McLean: Yes, I'm ready; sure. I've got lots of questions. Where do you live, sir?
Mr Leiss: I live in Mississauga, in the village of Erindale, directly across from a closed dump site.
Mr Bradley: Are you sure it's closed for ever?
Mr Leiss: It's a park now, so I hope it's closed.
Mr McLean: Did you apply for this position?
Mr Leiss: No, I was asked.
Mr McLean: Who asked you?
Mr Leiss: I don't actually recall. I believe it was Wendy Cook. I don't specifically recall who asked me.
Mr McLean: Is she from the Ministry of the Environment?
Mr Leiss: She's the chair of the Waste Reduction Advisory Committee.
Mr McLean: She's the chair of that.
Mr Leiss: Yes.
Mr McLean: How did you know her?
Mr Leiss: Through meetings and conferences on waste management issues.
Mr McLean: Waste Reduction Advisory Committee: How are you going to reduce the waste? Can I have that, in your opinion, in a minute or two?
Mr Fletcher: Get rid of the politicians.
Mr McLean: You can speak for yourself.
Mr Leiss: There is a myriad of methods of waste reduction. Reducing the amount of waste that's produced initially, that's pre-consumer, would be the first step. Reuse of materials, items in the waste stream, and recycling would be the third R. The other diversion activities would involve waste that's compostable.
Mr McLean: Packaging. I remember Ruth Grier when she was in opposition talking about packaging: "We've got to reduce packaging. It's one of our major polluters." One of the members here brought in a resolution in the last sitting of the Legislature with regard to reduction. It never mentioned packaging. I'm wondering why packaging has not become a major issue.
Mr Leiss: I believe that packaging is a major issue. The issue has been dealt with in other jurisdictions quite effectively through the efforts of people, in a sense, and I see this as a major cause for the crisis that we're currently facing in waste management.
Mr McLean: But the question bears answering and being asked again. I don't see anything that we're doing to make industry stop packaging the amount that it is. I bought a rain gauge; there was more packaging to a rain gauge that could have hung on a shelf. I bought a flashlight that was in a package. If it had had a string on it, you could have hung it in the hardware store. I don't see anybody doing anything with regard to packaging. There's no legislation being brought through to reduce the packaging. But you say it is being done.
Mr Leiss: That's quite true. What I am saying is in other jurisdictions the reduction of packaging has been accomplished through the efforts of the public; Germany, for example, where the public in one city took it upon themselves just simply to leave the packaging in the store. As a result, the manufacturers reduced the amount of packaging. That's one method of dealing with it.
In Canada so far the packaging protocol has been primarily a voluntary effort, although the effort doesn't seem to be achieving too many results.
Mr McLean: What recommendations are you going to make to the government with regard to packaging? I know a 38-acre site in Germany and I've seen films of it. They have it in the Ministry of the Environment. I've sat in on it. I've seen the 38 acres where all the garbage comes in and it's disposed of on that 38-acre site. We haven't begun to touch it here. What recommendations are you going to make as part of that committee, would you hope to make as the appointee?
Mr Leiss: I'd hope that there would be recommendations going back to the ministry to compel manufacturers to ship in reusable containers, to ship on reusable pallets to reduce the amount of packaging that's currently going from the manufacturer to the retail level. I guess, for example, many items are packaged in a shrink wrap and then a number of items placed in a box, which would be a case, and then those cases placed in a larger box, then a pallet and then have Saran Wrap wrapped around them. I don't see that as necessary. This is the packaging that the consumer never sees.
Mr McLean: What recommendations are you going to make to the minister with regard to reduction of packaging?
Mr Leiss: That the province pursue the federal government to reduce packaging overall in Canada, and if that's not on, that the province legislate that packaging be reduced to the minimum absolute requirement; that packaging be reusable in stores, similar to the way CDs are packaged in many stores now, where there's a large package to prevent theft and that package is reused to display the next CD; and barring that, that the packaging be very easily recyclable and readily identified as recyclable.
Mr McLean: Yes. The reason I was pursuing that was because I'm very adamant that somebody has got to reduce packaging, and nobody has been doing it. I hope your views that you have expressed here today are an indication that you will pursue that, because I think it's very, very important. Do you have a couple of questions?
Mr Carr: Yes, just a quick one. As you know, being adviser to politicians can be very frustrating, and I say that in a non-partisan sense, not taking a shot at this government. But a lot of the good advice that comes through -- and Mr McLean talked about a couple of things -- never gets implemented.
I was just wondering how you see yourself in terms of sometimes handling the frustration that may come about from putting a good idea forward but not having it implemented. Again, I don't say that in a partisan sense. It's just that the system sometimes doesn't allow for it to get implemented. Quite frankly, with a lot of the work that the committee has done, we may have a lot of solutions but they don't get implemented. How are you going to deal with that sense of frustration?
Mr Leiss: I've been dealing with that type of frustration for a long time. I started working in the city of Etobicoke in 1981 and became active with the union in 1984, and certainly I've met that type of frustration at the municipal level, at the regional level and at the provincial level. I simply rationalize that the process does take a long time and continue pursuing. In the event that the answer isn't forthcoming, I would continue to go after the answer.
Mr Carr: Good. I'm glad to see you're so determined, and wish you luck.
The Chair: Mr Fletcher, then Mr Wiseman.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for being here. I have just a couple of things on waste reduction, and on wet-dry recycling especially. My area is going to get into a wet-dry recycling, and yet I don't think they're looking at all the information that has come from other areas in the world where they've done wet-dry recycling, and some of the problems they've had. You sound like you're familiar with things that are going on in other parts of the world. Can we learn from their mistakes and perhaps be a little more proactive when it comes to waste reduction?
Mr Leiss: I would hope that we would learn from their mistakes and hope that we can adapt other systems and improve upon them. The wet-dry system is a system that is applied in other jurisdictions. I don't know if it's necessarily the answer here.
I think there are other reduction strategies that should be put in place before you divide the waste stream into a dry stream and a wet stream, in that I've clearly seen that the public is prepared to do its bit in source reduction, which I think is more important than attempting to run mixed materials through a plant and hoping that you come out with materials that aren't contaminated at the end.
Mr Fletcher: You're right. A lot of consumers, a lot of ordinary people, are willing to do their bit, but when it comes to the corporate sector, it seems that they're a bit slow. Some of the reasons that they are slow are (a) they don't have the information and (b) they don't have the technologies right now. How do we implement policies or directions when the industries don't have the technology or don't have the resources?
Mr Leiss: At this point, many technologies are available to corporations. There is some question as to whether they have the resources to implement some, but I think there's a very good example of source reduction that was accomplished by Quaker Oats. They went through a process and found that not only were they reducing the waste that was coming out of their facilities, but they were also saving money in the process. I think that companies have to recognize that in the long run it is probably in their interests economically as well as environmentally to pursue all avenues of reducing the waste stream.
Mr Fletcher: I'm a firm believer in "If you create it, you get rid of it." In other words, I'm not in favour of the megadump. I think each municipality has its own responsibility to get rid of the garbage it produces. Is that feasible with what we have or what we're doing or the approach that we're taking?
Mr Leiss: I think ultimately we can reduce the waste stream to less than 90% of the current stream. I believe there are certain items in the waste stream that will continue to have to be disposed of. Biomedical waste would be one avenue. But I think that it's well within the possibility to reduce the waste stream by 90%.
Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): I agree with you in your last comment. In fact I have had the pleasure of meeting with a number of companies that are setting up in Ontario now to do exactly what you've suggested. One of them that was funded to do research and development by the province of Ontario, the Ministry of the Environment, has developed a microwave technology that will take care of biomedical waste and plastic packaging, reverting it back to its component parts of oil, carbon and so on. So this is happening.
But I would like to have your comments on the statement that I'm going to make now, that Metropolitan Toronto, the government and the works department, is perhaps the biggest roadblock to developing a really cohesive recycling system in the GTA, because it makes millions and millions of dollars every year from the dumps that it owns at Keele Valley and Brock West that it then can take out of that budget and put into other budgets. Therefore, the surrounding municipalities are supporting their budgets. Therefore, they don't have the incentive to reduce waste. In fact, it's a conflict of interest: To reduce waste would mean to reduce their revenue.
Mr Leiss: That revenue generation with landfill and the way that it is applied is a contentious issue and has been for some time, and Metro did in fact utilize some of the money for social services two years ago and has applied some of those funds for operation and for diversion programs.
As far as Metro is concerned, I'd have to say that efforts have been minimal at best in reducing the waste stream, and it doesn't appear, in my own opinion, that Metro is very serious about achieving or exceeding the diversion targets that have been set. The capital budget outlays for the next five years and the operational budget outlays for last year and this year have actually frozen or reduced environmental initiatives as far as Metro is concerned, and at the same time large amounts of money are spent pursuing disposal options. I think that Metro needs to rethink its agenda as far as waste management is concerned and make a serious effort at waste diversion, as opposed to simply finding another hole to fill up.
Mr Wiseman: They have rethought their waste generation. In 1991 some of my constituents were involved with Metro on a document that said that it could reduce waste by 50% by 1993, and hardly any of those policies have been implemented. In fact 43% of the waste stream is compostable material, and I think the Chinatown businessmen's association wanted to compost material in Downsview and Metro said no. That's a product of the fact that they create money out of it.
Almost 40% of the Ontario Food Terminal's budget, $800,000 a year, is spent on disposing of waste. They set up a composting program whereby they composted the material and gave it back to the farmers as they drove away. Metro said they couldn't do that. How do we break out of this dinosauric attitude that the Metro works department and the Metro councillors have when it comes to waste management? What are you going to recommend for this government to do?
Mr Leiss: I guess that's a political question as well as a legislative question.
Mr Wiseman: Are you going to recommend that Metro Toronto own or control a landfill site from the IWA selection process?
Mr Leiss: Own and control?
Mr Wiseman: Yes.
Mr Leiss: I don't believe the process puts ownership and control exclusively in Metro's hands. That decision has to be made. I would say that if Metro were to own and control any site that it selected, there would have to be very stringent guidelines on that to compel Metro to make every effort to reduce its waste stream.
Mr Wiseman: In terms of starting to move towards reducing waste, as I said earlier, 43% of the waste stream is compostable. There is a company that created a machine that composts about 300 tonnes a month and yet it seems to be having difficulty getting that machine into production and into use. I've seen it work. They have it up and running at the Mimico correctional facility in Etobicoke. It's about the size of a dumpster and it composts in 15 days. Is there some kind of recommendation that can be made in terms of putting in regulations and banning the dumping of compostable material from restaurants, supermarkets, food terminals and so on?
Mr Leiss: Any regulation can be put in place. Metro had the opportunity to implement some flow control legislation or make recommendation to the government to allow amendments to the Metropolitan Toronto act. I'm not familiar with the machine you're referring to, but I know that composting is not rocket science, that it's a naturally occurring process and that yard waste and kitchen waste shouldn't be in the waste stream. There's no reason for it to be in the waste stream. It needs to be handled either by the individuals who are generating it at home, with a backyard composter, or in small community-based composters or through systems that make economic sense and produce a viable material at the end of it.
The Chair: I'd like to jump in there and move on to Mr Bradley.
Mr Bradley: My first question relates to the potential for the 50% reduction in waste going to disposal facilities by the year 2000. We won't be in a recession for ever. The figures are skewed by a recession. They're down because of a recession. But when we come out of the recession and the economy begins to boom again some day, do you believe that with the policies in place today that you have observed that 50% goal is achievable? Or is it not achievable, as the naysayers of society would suggest?
Mr Leiss: I believe that goal is achievable today. I believe it's not a difficult process to eliminate more than 50% of the waste stream today. It's not an economic impossibility to do that today. It would make sense to businesses, it would make sense to home owners in the taxes that they have to pay for waste management and it would make sense environmentally. There's no reason that you can't achieve 50% today.
Mr Bradley: The proponents of incineration are once again rising up to suggest that incineration is one of the solutions to eliminating garbage in the province. What effect do you think there would be if we had significant incineration of garbage in Ontario? What effect do you think that would have on waste reduction efforts by municipalities and others?
Mr Leiss: I think incineration would reduce the diversion rates. The high-BTU materials that are required for incineration are in fact the materials that are easily taken out of the waste stream. The materials that are left have much lower BTU ratings and as a result are not as appropriate for incineration. I don't believe that incineration is a waste reduction method -- it's a disposal method -- and I don't believe that taking inert material and converting it into hazardous and toxic material is the proper way of dealing with waste.
Mr Bradley: Would you just mention for the record the results of incineration in terms of ash and what effect that ash has on our society?
Mr Leiss: The resulting ash from incineration, as far as I've understood so far, is either hazardous or toxic and as a result requires special handling, which is quite expensive. I don't believe we have the facilities in place to deal with those materials. They're certainly not as benign as the material prior to incineration.
Mr Bradley: Because you're dealing with waste reduction, I won't ask the obvious further question about whether it's advisable, then, to send it to the United States to be incinerated with the air blowing back over to Canada. Because you're on the waste reduction committee, I won't ask that.
I'm interested in your opinion on biodegradable materials. You'll recall that a few years ago there were a lot of people who were advancing biodegradable materials as the answer to everything: You could get the container and it would somehow magically disappear in the landfill site. Any views on the possibilities of biodegradable materials being the solution to our problems?
Mr Leiss: Biodegradable containers are primarily plastic with an addition to allow the plastic to break down into smaller pieces of plastic. As a result, you still have plastic in the landfill and, from my understanding, plastics are 100% recyclable and the plastics industry is proposing to close the loop. In other words, what they put out, they take back in. The biodegradable materials cause some problems for recycling plastics in that they contaminate all the plastics, and given that plastics are 100% recyclable, then there's no reason to provide those types of containers. That's the only experience that we have here with biodegradables.
I guess in worldwide experience, there are biodegradable containers that are made out of food products, rice -- there are rice containers for fast-served food etc in Asia. I don't know what the experience would be with it here, but certainly as far as plastic containers are concerned, I don't believe that's the answer.
Mr Bradley: I'm sorry to move so quickly from one to another; we don't have much time. I'm interested in your views on several subjects. Composting: There are backyard composters, as you've mentioned, and there's the central one that a municipality might operate. You're from Mississauga?
Mr Leiss: Yes.
Mr Bradley: There was a councillor in Mississauga who used to write me letters saying how awful the regulations were for composting and how that prevented composting from happening because we were too strict in the Ministry of the Environment in terms of the regulations. Do you see the regulations that exist at present as being a deterrent to central composting? This may be unfair; it's rather detailed and it may be an unfair question.
Mr Leiss: I'm not familiar with what the councillor wrote to you, but I believe it was probably the proposed regulations on the end product. I don't know where those proposed regulations are now. They're certainly not in force now. The existing regulations, I think, lend themselves to providing central composting, but I don't necessarily hold that central composting plants are necessarily the answer to diverting that portion of the waste stream, because there are other factors involved. You're entering into a large engineering project to provide a plant, the technology of which I don't know if it really has been proven; it would be new.
The pilot project with the Dufferin digester hasn't been working very well. The collection system is very inefficient as well. So I would say that for the residential stream, composting should be accomplished as much as possible by the home owners and that the next step would be more along the Zurich type of model with small central composting facilities.
Mr Bradley: Are you still with CUPE?
Mr Leiss: Yes.
Mr Bradley: If we had a representative of Waste Management Inc or something, the question we would ask is, do you believe it would be a conflict of interest? In other words, the viewpoint that you bring obviously is independent, but do you see a conflict of interest in the approach you would take as a representative of workers within a certain category in Ontario, that when you come to the committee you may offer your advice to the committee based on what would be good for your membership, which would be understandable, and would this interfere with your judgement on these matters, in your opinion?
Mr Leiss: I believe that my position on the committee would be a labour representative. That would be my own members as well as other organized membership across the province. We have to deal with the public-private issues on an ongoing basis, and we have to find a rationale that all people can live with in that.
I'm going to be promoting a labour perspective. That's what I see my role as being. I have my own views, and they don't necessarily conflict. Some may be a little more ambitious than labour's willing to embrace right now, but I don't think they conflict with the end of the road.
Mr Bradley: Do you believe the private sector has a significant role to play in waste management and waste reduction?
Mr Leiss: The private sector has a significant role to play in waste management and waste reduction and I wish it would get on with it, because if it doesn't, the public is going to have to take it on and do it.
Mr Bradley: The last question I would have --
The Chair: Very quickly.
Mr Bradley: -- because I think I've only got one question, is in terms of whether something should be compulsory or not compulsory. Do you believe that municipalities should in fact be compelled, not given a choice or not given a chance to do it on their own but should be compelled, to initiate various kinds of waste reduction and recycling programs? I say it in this context, Mr Chair, that some have only three or four items in the blue box and some have 11 items in the blue box. Do you think that should be compulsory or voluntary?
The Chair: Yes or no.
Mr Leiss: I think there should be continuity in the blue box program and any program that's offered across the province. That program should be the same for someone who lives in North Bay as it is in Metro Toronto, and certainly in large urban centres the programs should be the same.
The Chair: Thanks, Mr Leiss. We appreciate your appearance here today and wish you well.
Mr Leiss: Thank you.
The Chair: The final witness this morning is the witness we'd originally scheduled to begin the day with, Mr Philippe Rabot. He was delayed, as we know, by the snowstorm. Welcome.
Mr Philippe Rabot: Thank you.
The Chair: Mr Rabot is the intended appointee as the vice-chair of the Assessment Review Board. Do you have any brief comments you'd like to make before we get into questions?
Mr Rabot: I just want to thank the committee for hearing me at this time and I apologize for not being able to show up at the appointed time.
The Chair: It was beyond your control. Mr Grandmaître, would you like to begin?
Mr Grandmaître: I find it very, very strange, being from Ottawa. It's supposed to be nice and sunny there.
Mr Rabot: The problem was Toronto, not Ottawa.
Mr Grandmaître: Well, it'll be Ottawa's problem this afternoon, I'm told.
Mr Rabot, tell us about your experience with assessment.
Mr Rabot: As you know, sir, from reading my résumé, my experience over the past 10 years is with administrative tribunals at the federal level in employment and copyright matters. In terms of experience in the assessment field, I haven't previously worked for the Assessment Review Board or in that field.
Mr Grandmaître: I'm sure being from Ottawa you went through the market value assessment shemozzle, so what are your thoughts on MVA, market value assessment?
Mr Rabot: You're right. Being from Ottawa it's an issue I followed quite closely. It's an issue that affects me personally. It's a debate where I think there are very valid arguments on both sides of the issue and I can very well understand why it is a divisive issue.
Mr Grandmaître: I want to know how you feel about assessment itself, because a lot of people are complaining about assessment right now. It's not only in the Ottawa-Carleton area, it's right across this province, because assessment is causing a lot of problems, and now this government, with its new program or new approach to disentanglement, wants to transfer these responsibilities back to municipal governments where it was back in 1968 or 1969, if I'm not mistaken.
What are your thoughts on this possible transfer? I hear it's not a done deal yet, but it's very, very close to transferring those responsibilities to municipalities through disentanglement.
Mr Rabot: I can't tell you whether that's going to make the issue any less controversial. I think we're all trying to come to terms with what constitutes a fair assessment process, and that may or may not be one way of attempting to come to terms with that issue. Really, I guess only time will tell.
Mr Grandmaître: As the vice-chair, you must have an idea of how assessment works, I'm sure, and being a lawyer, you must be familiar with assessment.
Mr Rabot: Yes, sir.
Mr Grandmaître: Have you appeared before the Assessment Review Board in your capacity as a lawyer?
Mr Rabot: No, sir, I have not.
Mr Grandmaître: You have not. So your experience with assessment is very limited?
Mr Rabot: That's a fair statement, sir.
Mr Grandmaître: A successful candidate appeared before a selection committee. Tell us about this selection committee because the members of this committee are not --
Mr Bradley: The NDP caucus.
Mr Grandmaître: -- fully aware of this selection committee. What happened on that day?
Mr Rabot: You're referring to my selection for this position?
Mr Grandmaître: Yes, your appearance before the selection committee.
Mr Rabot: I first became aware of this position through an advertisement in the Globe and Mail. I appeared before a selection committee consisting of the chair of the board, the vice-chair responsible for training and development, the assistant Deputy Attorney General and a representative from the Premier's office, for an hour interview. Basically it was an interview that involved a lot of role-playing and assessed my knowledge of assessment of roles and responsibilities and procedures of administrative tribunals. There was also a written exercise to assess my ability to write an assessment decision.
Mr Grandmaître: And what do you think are your greatest assets to become the vice-chair?
Mr Rabot: I would think that one of my significant assets for this position is my experience over the last 10 years in the field of administrative law with administrative tribunals. Administrative tribunals generally face the same types of challenges and the same difficulties, and I think my exposure, for instance, to such matters as selecting members to serve on administrative tribunals, training them, assessing them, correcting performance deficiencies and also working at trying to improve the image of the tribunals I've served on can be significant assets for this position.
Mr Grandmaître: As you know, with MVA, you'll be a busy, busy person for the next three or four years because everybody is appealing their assessment, nobody is satisfied. Let's say you were chair of the Assessment Review Board. What would you change or what would be your recommendations to the ministry to simplify the system?
Mr Rabot: To simplify the assessment --
Mr Grandmaître: Yes, because it is a complicated system as you know.
Mr Rabot: I would not venture to provide advice on that matter without --
Mr Grandmaître: But being in the field, though, being an active player, don't you think you'd be in an ideal position to make some recommendations to the ministry to make it more understandable?
Mr Rabot: I'm sure the opportunity would arise, and I think it's something that obviously I'd want to discuss with all members of the tribunal to get their input on that matter. It's difficult for me to tell you today specifically what I would recommend. I would certainly agree with you on the objective of making the assessment process perhaps simpler to understand for everyone.
Mr Grandmaître: Understandable. Because it is a complicated system. Bonne chance.
Mr Rabot: Thank you.
Mr McLean: Sir, will you be working out of Toronto or out of Ottawa?
Mr Rabot: I'm told it'll be out of Toronto.
Mr McLean: And you'll be moving to Toronto?
Mr Rabot: Yes, sir.
Mr McLean: What will the salary of this position be?
Mr Rabot: I'm told that it would be $79,400.
Mr McLean: Who is the chair?
Mr Rabot: Mr Andy Anstett.
Mr McLean: How long has he been chair?
Mr Rabot: For close to two years now, I believe.
Mr McLean: And you know him personally?
Mr Rabot: Yes, I do.
Mr McLean: I'm looking at your résumé. Why are you wanting to leave Ottawa?
Mr Grandmaître: Because of the snow.
Mr McLean: Just look out here; it doesn't look much better.
Mr Rabot: I don't think it would be correct to say that I'm looking to leave Ottawa. I just think this position provides an excellent opportunity. It's a great challenge and it's a position I'll be busy in. I just want to be able to bring to this tribunal the benefit of my experience on other tribunals.
Mr McLean: I would have thought the federal administrative tribunal was a very exciting position.
Mr Rabot: Yes, it was.
Mr McLean: And you're taking a salary cut to come to this one?
Mr Rabot: No, sir, I'm not.
Mr McLean: You're not. That's a positive outlook.
Looking at the experience that you've had, I'm wondering why perhaps a part-time member wouldn't have been more appropriate to start with, to get to know the workings of the agency a little better, but I guess when you get the vice-chair you get a full-time position and it's different.
What views are you going to bring with regard to the change that was made here last December, I believe it was, by the provincial Fair Tax Commission when it released its Property Tax Working Group report? Are you familiar with the issue?
Mr Rabot: Yes, I am, sir.
Mr McLean: What opinion do you have on it?
Mr Rabot: Again, this board is an independent tribunal operating at arm's length from the government and I'm hesitant to start giving policy advice today. I think the issues that have been raised by the Fair Tax Commission are certainly worthy of consideration. There are a lot of good ideas, but there has to be more discussion on them, particularly with people who appear before the board.
Mr McLean: But are they specific in their recommendations or are they broad recommendations?
Mr Rabot: I beg your pardon.
Mr McLean: Have you seen anything that is really specific in their recommendations or are they kind of broad?
Mr Rabot: I've seen recommendations such as the fact that the time for appeal to the Assessment Review Board ought to be extended. That's one specific proposal. There are a number of other specific ones that I've seen on page 132 of their December 1992 report.
Mr McLean: In your opinion then, you think the working group report is a fair report and should be looked at as being an acceptable report to a certain extent?
Mr Rabot: I'm saying, sir, it's worthy of further consideration. I think that before these conclusions are endorsed there ought to be more discussion on it.
Mr Carr: Thank you very much for appearing and fighting through the storm.
I had a question regarding the volumes that you're going to be dealing with. As you may know, as a result of the Toronto MVA situation we now have a mayor of Scarborough saying that the entire population should appeal. The mayor of Toronto said if it'd gone the other way she wanted everyone in Toronto to appeal. You're going to be swamped. How are you going to deal with this onslaught?
Mr Rabot: As best we can with the resources that are made available to this board. It may mean that matters will take more time to decide than would otherwise be the case. I certainly would not advocate that we rush into matters and deal with them in a more cursory fashion than we otherwise would.
Mr Carr: But if it's true -- and quite frankly, not too many people knew about the process -- they tell me that if you appeal it you usually always get a reduction. When more and more people find that out, I think there'll be more appeals going, and with the numbers that are coming into the system, quite frankly, I think we're going to end up with a clogged system that doesn't work and everybody gets upset with.
As vice-chair, I think you're going to be the one dealing with it, and if I were sitting in your shoes I don't know whether I'd be so anxious to come from Ottawa. I appreciate that you're going to take on this task. Is there anything else we as legislators can be doing to make your job easy? Because quite frankly, unless something changes, you're going to be in one heck of a mess over the next little while.
Mr Rabot: I think what we can all do, both the board and as legislators, is make sure that people are getting enough information as to what the Assessment Review Board's role is and what they can expect when they come before the board. I think the more information people have on the process, the more smoothly it will operate.
Mr Carr: I would disagree, because the more we give information, the more it comes out that if you appeal your assessment, it's going to be reduced. The more information we get by having the mayor come out and say, "You'd all better appeal" -- it's actually going to make the situation worse. Quite frankly, the more people know about it, the more people will clog the system.
What's going to happen as a result of this -- I think the intention of the mayor of Scarborough was to clog the system and just basically destroy it because she didn't get her way, and I say that because the Toronto mayor said the same thing on the other side. Regardless of what happened, you're going to be swamped. So you basically now have politicians who are encouraging the public to break the system. I think she knows that.
You as vice-chair are going to be coming in knowing that politicians are basically going to swamp your board. I appreciate that you can't do anything about that, but I would like to know, outside of new resources, whether there is anything we can do to streamline the process to make it a little bit easier. Quite frankly, we're going to be in trouble if we don't.
Mr Rabot: I think there has to be more discussion about this issue and I think you're right to raise it now before it's too late.
Mr Carr: Before you get hit with it.
Mr Rabot: Quite frankly, I would not want to deter anybody from appealing an assessment or from exercising the recourse that they have under the act, so I'm not going to say to you today that I'm deterring anybody from appealing the assessment. I think what I am concerned with is that people should understand what the board can and cannot do. With the Scarborough and Toronto situation, obviously the board is not going to resolve the issue of whether MVA should exist in Metro Toronto or not.
As to the matter of whether or not it will clog the system, obviously what we're going to do on the board is to do our utmost to make sure it doesn't clog the system. There are a number of different options that undoubtedly are going to be under consideration to prevent that. I believe, sir, that the board is really going to want to find a way to ensure that people aren't penalized by a backlog of cases before the board.
Mr Carr: The same thing happens with a lot of the boards and agencies. I mean, the rent review board started out as a great idea; it got backlogged. There's the Ontario Municipal Board. Our courts, for example, are backlogged now: 40,000 cases thrown out with Askov.
Just one last question. Do you think there should be something up front then, where somebody could do a quick process to take a look at it and say: "Hey, look. This assessment is being done because somebody is upset with MVA. We're not going to look at it, so that we can get to the true issues"? Do you see any process that we could use -- being a lawyer, I don't know if you would -- to sort of fast-track the legitimate ones and weed out the ones that are in the system unnecessarily? If so, how would you do that?
Mr Rabot: It's a good question. It's very arbitrary to say at the outset, "This case is a serious one and this one isn't." There are a number of things, however, that can be done. The right to a hearing doesn't necessarily mean right to an oral hearing. If matters can be disposed of without an oral hearing, perhaps that could be considered.
There are, as I say, a number of options that can be considered, grouping cases together. I don't have a magic solution to it today, but one thing I would certainly say is that it's difficult at the outset to start passing judgement on whether a case is serious or not until the complainant has had the opportunity to be heard, whether orally or in writing.
Mr Carr: Good luck. I hope the snowstorm isn't an omen of things to come in that position, but good luck anyway.
Mr Tony Rizzo (Oakwood): Have you ever considered running for any political office? You sound like a very good politician.
Mr Rabot: Yes.
Mr Carr: I don't think that was meant as a compliment.
Mr Rizzo: Do you think it's possible to assess properties in a way that may reflect the actual services provided by municipalities? If you think so, do you have any idea how it could be done?
Mr Rabot: It sounds like the poll tax Margaret Thatcher tried to implement a couple of years ago. You are saying tying assessment to the value of the services provided?
Mr Rizzo: That's right.
Mr Rabot: You are asking me if that's possible?
Mr Rizzo: Yes.
Mr Rabot: I guess it's possible. Whether it's desirable or not, I'm sure, is a matter that would have to be open to some debate.
Mr Rizzo: You're saying we should find a political answer to that; that's what you're saying.
Mr Rabot: That probably would be advisable, sir.
Mr Rizzo: If appointed, do you see your position as one that allows you to administer the act in a restrictive way literally, or in view of the experience you have and considering the frustrations of the greatest majority of property owners, would you consider allowing some elasticity in the way the act is interpreted?
Mr Rabot: The matter of how the act is to be interpreted and the question of restricting this elasticity, obviously we get direction from the courts on these matters. I think we have to give to the act the interpretation that best reflects the intention of the legislators who pass it. Whether that's considered a restrictive or elastic interpretation is again open for debate.
Mr Rizzo: You try not to interpret, you try just to apply. That's what you're saying.
Mr Rabot: In order to apply, we have to interpret.
Mr Rizzo: That's what my question was --
Mr Rabot: Right.
Mr Rizzo: -- in a different type of interpretation.
Mr Rabot: This is where, to a large extent, the direction that we get from the courts is going to determine the way we interpret this legislation.
Mr Rizzo: In view of the latest assessment at Metropolitan Toronto in 1988 -- I think that was the last one for which MVA probably was based -- people realized that their properties were assessed, in some cases, double what they should have been really. What would be your advice to those people? To appeal? If they do appeal, would the new assessment be considered, or what?
What is going to happen to me when I go to apply for my assessment, because I have an assessment of $10,000 and now after 1988 I found out I should only be assessed $5,000? When I go to appeal my assessment, what is going to happen to me as a taxpayer?
Mr Rabot: My advice to anyone is to remember that what the Assessment Review Board does is really make a comparison between the way in which you were assessed and, say, your neighbours who own similar-type properties. Section 65 of the Assessment Act talks about ensuring equity on the basis of similar-type properties within the vicinity.
Obviously that's a factor you have to consider. Your assessment may have gone up but the question is, has your neighbour's gone up as well? What the board has to do is determine whether you've been improperly assessed in comparison to similar-type properties within your vicinity.
Mr Rizzo: Are you going to look at the assessment of 1988 or the prior years' assessments that are different?
Mr Rabot: I beg your pardon, sir?
Mr Rizzo: The assessment made in 1988 is completely different from the previous years' assessments.
Mr Rabot: Right.
Mr Rizzo: So should I compare my assessment in 1988 to the same type of assessment in the same year or to the previous assessments?
Mr Rabot: What I'm saying is that the board is going to have to look at the way you were assessed and see how similar-type properties within the vicinity have been assessed.
Mr Rizzo: Which assessment are you going to consider, the 1988 assessment or the previous ones?
Mr Rabot: The issue before the board is whether it's equitable, whether the way you're assessed now compared to the way your neighbour is assessed now is equitable.
Mr Rizzo: When taxes are applied to my property, are they now looking at the 1988 assessment or the previous assessments, because they're different?
Mr Rabot: Right.
Mr Rizzo: Two houses are exactly the same, one is assessed at $10,000 and one is assessed at $5,000. Before 1988, the assessment was the same, so which one are you going to consider to see if there's an inequality or not?
Mr Rabot: I can't start making pronouncements today on individual issues.
Mr Wiseman: We haven't appointed you yet.
Mr Rabot: We have to hear the facts of every case as they appear before the board, but what you say may in fact be relevant. I can just reiterate my previous comments. It's a question of, is it equitable compared to similar-type properties?
Mr Rizzo: I thank you.
The Chair: Mr Marchese, do you have a question?
Mr Marchese: I think you raised an interesting point. A number of people are going to appeal based on what Mr Rizzo is suggesting. Some mayors are saying to their folks, "Appeal your assessment based on what might have been under the proposed plan of Metro," which is to say that if you do it according to the plan, some people are likely to get a reduction in their property taxes. So people are considering that perhaps they should appeal based on this plan that isn't in force but which you cannot apply, because the application of whatever it is that you rule on is not based on something that is to come forward at some point in the future but on what is applicable now.
Mr Rabot: Exactly.
Mr Marchese: That brings me to the point you made earlier about giving people information. It's interesting to see how you will deal with that in terms of what kind of information you will disseminate to the public and whether or not you will put it out in the form that is literate that people will understand. I hope you do that and I hope the information that goes out is simple and clear so that you can anticipate the kinds of appeals you're going to get so you will have to deal with them once they get to you. Good luck.
Mr Rabot: Thank you. I think you're touching on a point that I agree with. The board has to have information that's easy to understand and precisely on the point; for instance, that the board itself cannot change the law.
Mr Marchese: Yes.
The Chair: Thanks, Mr Rabot. We wish you a safe and uneventful journey back to Ottawa. We wish you well.
We're going to break and reconvene at 2:30. I think everyone has been advised of that.
The committee recessed at 1228.
The committee resumed at 1434.
ADELYN L. BOWLAND
The Chair: I'm going to call the meeting to order. The first witness this afternoon is Adelyn Bowland. Ms Bowland is an intended appointee as a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Welcome to the committee. Would you like to make a brief comment before we get into questions, or just move directly to questions?
Ms Adelyn L. Bowland: I'll just go ahead with questions.
The Chair: Fine. Your selection review was by the government party, so I'm going to look to Mr Marchese to begin the questions.
Mr Marchese: Do you think a lot of communities in Ontario are aware of what is available under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board? Would you have a sense of that?
Ms Bowland: No, I don't, although it seems to me that it perhaps could be more widely advertised. But I'm not aware of the extent of the knowledge about the board's work.
Mr Marchese: As I was reading some of the research that was done on this, I suspected that a lot of communities simply don't know about this. My feeling is that those who are very literate and who read would be familiar with it, and those who are not in the habit of reading or who don't have the high-literacy academic level or professional socioeconomic status are not likely to benefit from such a program. I wondered how you would deal with that, as a board member, to make sure that a lot of our communities are aware of such a program.
Ms Bowland: I wasn't aware I had that kind of management responsibility, but of course I always have ideas on these things. First of all, it seems to me that if it's not already done now, the pamphlets should be in languages other than English and French -- they are certainly in those two languages -- and I know where they're distributed; they're distributed mainly by police officers or hospitals and also the legal aid clinics. Certainly they could be distributed to other sorts of agencies. In terms of people who are not verbal or oriented towards reading, there could be advertisements on TV and so on. But as you know, there's only so much money in this fund, and I suspect that the advertising is related directly to the limits on the funds available. And they're probably concerned that if they advertise it, they're going to be even more deluged than they already are. That's a perennial problem.
Mr Marchese: I understand that, and realize at the same time that when we do that, what happens is that those who are sometimes the most disadvantaged in society are the least likely to take advantage of a program like that.
Reading the research, there were a number of questions raised about a backlog in terms of people's ability to actually get to the issue. Are you familiar with the backlog problems?
Ms Bowland: Yes.
Mr Marchese: Do you have a sense of what they may have done already to deal with some of those concerns, or do you have suggestions about how to reduce some of the backlog problem they have?
Ms Bowland: One of the first possibilities is to have more hearings which are actually simply documentary reviews. As you probably know from reading -- you've probably read the advisory board's report. No?
Mr Marchese: No, simply some of the research that our research staff has done.
Ms Bowland: The advisory board on victims' issues made a report in 1991, and it made the same sort of recommendation, as have many people. Right now, if a victim who makes an application consents to this, the review can be by documentation, which of course speeds it up dramatically. But some victims want to attend in person before the committee, as is their right. So if you only have so many board members and you're already backlogged, perhaps you can invite more board members to be appointed. I don't know. I think that's the only alternative. I don't know what other way procedurally there would be to deal with this.
Mr Marchese: I'm not sure, except that we have had a number of situations with different boards dealing with issues of backlog. Of course each organization has to find its own way of trying to streamline or make it more efficient; not necessarily by adding more people do you answer some of these questions.
Ms Bowland: Oh, absolutely. I think you're right.
Mr Marchese: Can I ask you, do you have a vision of what you would like the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to be like in terms of new directions, possibly, or other aspirations you might bring to this job that are not already there?
Ms Bowland: I'm very interested in the whole notion of collapsing all the different compensatory systems into one. I have not given this much thought, but I think it is a really interesting idea. By that I mean that workers' comp and criminal injuries compensation and various compensation systems would be dealt with as a whole. I think that would be really interesting; it might save administrative costs. I have no idea how that would be done, but I think that would be very interesting to look at.
Mr Marchese: Do you have a sense of what some of the objections might be to doing that?
Ms Bowland: You'd lose the specialized expertise of panel members, which is certainly always one objection, because that's what administrative tribunals are hired to do, to have special expertise. People might feel they're going to get lost in the shuffle, a big bureaucratic shuffle, which is always possible. Those are two objections I can think of.
Mr Marchese: Thanks very much. I don't know if other members have questions.
The Chair: Any additional questions from the government members? No? Mr Grandmaître.
Mr Grandmaître: That's it?
Mr Marchese: I wanted to leave a lot of room for you, Bernard.
Mr Grandmaître: Oh, thanks. People are generous today.
Tell me more about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. I agree with you that it's not very well known and your budget is not what it should be. Everybody's complaining about budget. How would you make it simpler, let's say, for people to become aware of your responsibilities and the services provided by the compensation board?
Ms Bowland: I mentioned television advertising. Is that what you mean: better access to the board, knowledge about the board's services?
Mr Grandmaître: Better access and to make it better known.
Ms Bowland: Apart from television advertising, it seems to me there are all kinds of agencies that deal directly with poor people or people who are not able to speak English well. All those agencies could be advised of the services that are available through the board and the compensation system that exists now. Those are two ideas.
I think the best approach is usually a personal approach rather than a television approach. I think people take it in better through members of their own community if they feel that marginalized sense of themselves. So I would think the latter would be the better approach: the direct, personal approach.
Mr Grandmaître: Do you think lawyers can do a better job in promoting the compensation board?
Ms Bowland: What did you have in mind?
Mr Grandmaître: We say it's not a well-known service. Do you think lawyers have a role to play in informing their clients that there is a compensation board? Are they doing a good job in promoting this kind of service, or is it their job?
Ms Bowland: I don't know what kind of job lawyers are doing. It seems to me that often lawyers do represent victims before the board. They don't get much money for it -- a very, very small amount of money.
Mr Grandmaître: Maybe that's why they're not promoting it.
Ms Bowland: Maybe that's why. Their role is minimal. In a way, it's just like small claims court for lawyers. You know what I mean? It doesn't pay a lot. I don't apologize for my profession. I think many of us make a lot of money, and we're not going to make much money before this board, so perhaps it's not in our financial interest. But there are lots of lawyers who are not like that, and I think they are keen to play a role before the board and to advise their clients.
You see, a victim doesn't usually go to a lawyer, so that's part of the problem. A victim wouldn't go to a lawyer to say "What are my rights?" They might want to sue the accused in civil court.
Mr Grandmaître: Where do they go?
Ms Bowland: I guess if they want to sue civilly, they'd go to a lawyer and say, "Can I get compensation from the person who did this to me?" But apparently now more and more the board is seeing family violence cases, situations where the victims know each other quite well. Sometimes the victim doesn't know the accused, can't identify the accused and can't get to the accused, so therefore wouldn't be going a lawyer. I think often family members don't go to lawyers either to sue the accused. The last thing they want to do is sue the accused. They want it over and done with. They might want a bit of money, but they're not thinking about big bucks. They're not necessarily going to a lawyer.
In some ways, I think the fact that lawyers are less involved has to do with the way the victims see themselves in the context and the nature of the problem they're dealing with. It's either a person well known to them whom they don't want to sue or a person unknown to them whom they can't identify.
Mr Grandmaître: Also, it's called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Do you think the word "injuries" scares a lot of people?
Ms Bowland: Yes, I think it does. It's kind of intimidating.
Mr Grandmaître: Are you going to change the name, then?
Ms Bowland: Well, I could. I don't know. I don't think I have any power to change the name, but I think that's a good idea.
Mr Grandmaître: I think so too, because let's face it, it's not only physical injuries that should be compensated. I was thinking of sexual harassment. It's on everybody's mind right now. Maybe in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, "injuries" should be changed to something else, and to look after compensation, criminal compensation, add something.
Ms Bowland: Yes.
Mr Grandmaître: Okay, thank you. Good luck to you.
Mr McLean: Are you aware of how long it takes to deal with the average case?
Ms Bowland: No, I'm not.
Mr McLean: Some time ago, I was on a committee and we'd done investigation into this board. At that time, and I'm not sure who was the chairperson, they weren't too in favour of increasing the costs and increasing what injured people got. If my memory serves me right, it appears there were a lot of cases that were sitting on file that were never being dealt with. Are you aware of any cases today that are sitting there that aren't being dealt with?
Ms Bowland: No, I'm not. I think it's terrible if that's the case, but I don't have that kind of knowledge.
Mr McLean: Are you familiar with the workings of the board?
Ms Bowland: I've certainly read the board's annual report and I have read the advisory committee's report, and of course the statute, but that's as much as I know.
Mr McLean: Have you read the statistics with regard to the board's workload for the last four years?
Ms Bowland: No, I haven't, because they haven't had a board report since 1989, I think.
Mr McLean: Why did you apply for this position? Did you apply or were you asked to serve on it?
Ms Bowland: I applied.
Mr McLean: For what basic reason?
Ms Bowland: I've been doing work in the area of victims' rights for some years, and I'm very interested in the area, so I applied to work on this. I thought it was a very worthwhile project to be involved with.
Mr McLean: With regard to the scope of being able to qualify, I wanted to find out from you if it should be broadened or not, but seeing that you're not too familiar with it, you probably won't be able to answer the question.
Ms Bowland: If the criteria should be broadened?
Mr McLean: If the amounts of sums that are paid out should be broadened.
Ms Bowland: I don't know the answer to that. I have thought about it. The advisory committee did a comparison of various jurisdictions, including British Columbia and two United States jurisdictions, and it found that the average amount of payout in 1991 or 1990 -- I'm not sure what the exact year was -- was roughly $4,000 here. It's a bit higher in those other jurisdictions but not much higher.
I think the issue is not what our jurisdiction pays out but how criminal injuries compensation is viewed generally in other jurisdictions. Do you know what I'm saying? I think there are limits on it for real reasons, and they're not necessarily our jurisdictional issues but the broader question of what the purposes of criminal injuries compensation schemes are. I'm not sure how it fits in with torts and so on and restitution in the Criminal Code now. I'd really have to think about it a lot more than I have.
Mr McLean: You are doing a book with regard to the Human Rights Commission. Your book is due to be out shortly.
Ms Bowland: It's out now.
Mr McLean: Why did you proceed in doing a book based on what you have found in your work in the past with regard to the Human Rights Code?
Ms Bowland: I was an investigator there for a year in 1986, and what I thought was missing was a really good text providing access to the decisions under the Human Rights Code. So along with two other lawyers, I started to write that text, and we think it's actually doing very well. It sold half its print run in three months, so I think it's filling a real need.
Mr McLean: Do you feel that the legal aid clinics across the province are overworked or are being funded adequately?
Ms Bowland: I think they're overworked, and I'd like to see them funded more.
Mr McLean: Who do you think should pay for that funding?
Ms Bowland: We lawyers, of course. You know that we contribute to legal aid clinics through our fees. I don't know. That's a very good question. As was pointed out by Mr Grandmaître, I think there are many reasons to increase their funding, as there are many reasons to increase other sources for other areas of funding. So it's a difficult question.
Mr McLean: You were a lecturer at Osgoode Hall and you taught legal research. How long did you do that?
Ms Bowland: Two years.
Mr McLean: Were you teaching to a junior class or a senior class?
Ms Bowland: A first-year class; it's an introductory course.
Mr McLean: Poverty law: You dealt with that for the Parkdale Community Legal Services. Could you elaborate on that?
Ms Bowland: That's such a long time ago. That was when I was a student in 1975 and I specialized in landlord and tenant law.
Mr McLean: You've done a lot of writing --
Ms Bowland: Yes. I love to write.
Mr McLean: -- and a fair bit of lecturing. What has been your major full-time job?
Ms Bowland: In the last year and a half, I've been working as a self-employed consultant doing law and social policy, legal policy work.
Mr McLean: Gary, do you have any --
Mr Carr: Yes. I just want to touch base on some of the case load, very quickly; I don't have much time. Each year we keep falling farther and farther behind, and I know you touched a little bit on that. We've touched on it this morning too, with the chap who came in regarding assessment, and it seems like we've put a lot of these programs in place, whether it's the Workers' Compensation Board or the rent review board. Even our own courts are now backlogged. We seem to run into so many problems, and with all due respect to the legal profession, lawyers have not had a good reputation in terms of being good administrators.
I just wondered -- and you've done a lot of things, obviously, with your writing and so on -- what skills as an administrator do you think you can bring, because quite frankly, that's what we need in this position when you see the number of cases? How would you classify yourself in terms of an administrator? What are your strengths?
Ms Bowland: Having worked a year at the Human Rights Commission, I'm certainly aware of backlogs and ways that have been used to deal with backlogs. Unfortunately, they often involve some kind of an expenditure of money. Sometimes what perhaps has to happen is the computerization of all the files. I suspect that's not been completed at the board. I don't know what state it's in, but that was recommended by the advisory group in 1991. I think that's probably an excellent idea. I love computers; I work on a computer, and boy, do they speed things up.
Alternatively, or perhaps in addition -- you see, I don't know all the processes through which a file goes. I'm aware of who does what and so on, but I have no idea of how long it takes each level to deal with the files when they come in. That's certainly an issue I'd have to find out. I have no idea whether Ms Calder has looked into those sorts of things or not, but that's what I'd look at. I'd look at the time frames. How long is it taking application claims to go through the system? Where is the slowdown, and why is the slowdown occurring? Is it lack of labour power or is it something else that we can handle in a different way?
Mr Carr: As you know, the situation with labour -- when we talked about the backlog at the Human Rights Commission, you know the answer would have been to add more people, but we can't. I guess we went to one of the accounting firms, management consultants, to come in to take a look and now it's even further behind, so we said, "Well, we'll just computerize." One of the problems we've got is the time frame in the case load that we debated so much.
Is there anything you can see being done in terms of the actual making of a decision quickly, which I talked about earlier, similar to what maybe happens with some crown attorneys when they try to speed up the process and weed them out and so on? Is there anything you see that we can do in that regard, or are we going to be here a year later with the list longer? Can you sort of give us some hope that it's going to actually get better?
Ms Bowland: I think what probably is necessary is some kind of specialization in terms of the review of claims. I don't know if that exists now, but with crown attorneys they often specialize in types of matters, and therefore they know better what proof is required, what criteria are necessary in terms of evidence law and so on. If they're not doing that, I think it would be a good idea in terms of reviewing claims and rejecting claims and looking at the evidence available. Often that's the problem; there just isn't the evidence.
Mr Carr: Right. Mr Runciman has a question.
Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): Just a couple of quick questions; we don't have much time.
You've had a lot of experience with victims and dealing with victims, and I'd like to know how you feel generally about the treatment of victims of crime in Ontario and the whole question of a victim's bill of rights which has been talked about.
Also, when you're serving on the compensation board, I wonder if you've given any thought to the idea of new ways of raising revenues to compensate victims of crime. I know that looking at the seizure of property from people convicted of crimes -- if a portion of those revenues, for example, was directed towards the compensation board so that victims could be more appropriately compensated. I wonder if you've taken a look at those kinds of things. Just general comments.
Ms Bowland: I've wondered about that. I'm aware that the board has the authority to sue an accused, and of course you make claims as to money claims but not property claims. I think the act certainly would permit the latter, and if not, then we could certainly think about amending the statute so that property could be claimed and sold. I don't know how much time the board puts into suing accused. I have no idea how much time is devoted to that and I think that's something I would want to look into as well.
As for alternative sources, they are always reviewing the federal-provincial agreement, which is probably not worthwhile, but as you know, the federal government puts money into all compensatory schemes.
Mr Runciman: Is there a need for a victim's bill of rights?
Ms Bowland: I think it would be a very good idea. Yes. I think it's going to be difficult to put in, but I think it's a very good idea.
The Vice-Chair (Mr Allan K. McLean): No questions? Thank you for appearing before the committee today.
Ms Bowland: Thank you.
The Vice-Chair: Is Mr Upshaw next? I thought he said he was. Fred, have a seat here. I had all the questions to start with, and the Chairman put me in the chair and then he left.
It's the official opposition that has asked for this review. Do you have any opening remarks or would you prefer to just answer questions?
Mr Fred Upshaw: I prefer to respond to any questions and just simply state that my prospective nomination to the board of the Workplace Health and Safety Agency is certainly -- the work the agency does is something I'm extremely committed to.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Grandmaître.
Maybe I should address you as senator. Did you know that at one time the young JCs referred to you as senator? That's a much better paying job. You should have stayed there.
Mr Upshaw: It would have been nice if they paid you.
Mr Grandmaître: You know quite a bit about Bill 208 that created the Workplace Health and Safety Agency. With your experience, tell me if it's working, and also, what would you recommend or what would be your recommendations to improve the agency?
Mr Upshaw: First of all, let me say that I believe the workers' health and safety agency is working very, very well. Something that's extremely important to the members that I represent, which is well over 110,000, the core certification training program is an absolute must and I certainly would do everything in my power to see that that program moves along smoothly. I even believe in the first year there are about 100,000 health and safety representatives, both from management and from the workers' side, that will be put through this certification program. An absolute must, and I support that all the way.
In terms of what would I do to improve the agency, I would just adhere to my commitment to the policy of the statement of the agency. The agency is dear to my heart, so I would strive to see that the mission statement is adhered to at all times.
Mr Grandmaître: As you know, there was quite a debate on Bill 208. A lot of accusations were made back and forth against management, for management, for management against unions, for unions. What is the relationship since that? What has it been since the introduction of Bill 208?
Mr Upshaw: The relationship between the agency --
Mr Grandmaître: Between management and the unionized labour people. Was it a perfect marriage?
Mr Upshaw: It should have been a perfect marriage. My understanding is that there were some resignations from the agency board from management's side. That's unfortunate. I personally subscribe to bipartite. I've travelled across this province speaking on the values of partnership, both to my members and also to management associations. I strongly believe in bipartite and certainly will use my influence on the board to ensure that management and labour work hand in hand.
Mr Grandmaître: Do you think management is taking Bill 208 seriously, or a lot of it? What would be your guess? Would you say that 95% of, let's say, management takes Bill 208 seriously, or is it 75% or 50%?
Mr Upshaw: That certainly would be a hypothetical guess on my part.
Mr Grandmaître: Yes, yes.
Mr Upshaw: But I would suggest that 65% to 70% are taking it seriously and want to cooperate. I believe there's a percentage, however, that, maybe even given the financial aspects of the health and safety program, may be opposed under those grounds.
Mr Grandmaître: Why do think there's only 70% of management that takes Bill 208 seriously and what will you do to improve that percentage? What will be your selling job to improve that percentage?
Mr Upshaw: In this day of restraint, obviously people don't want to commit themselves to any additional expense and obviously the core certification program does cost money. How I would try to sell that program is based on the amount of money that's lost in a year through accidents in the workplace and illness. If you added up the amount of money just from lost time at work, I think it's a very powerful, persuasive argument that any money spent on health and safety which would help to reduce the time off work would more than pay for itself by people being at work.
Mr Grandmaître: Yet the workers' compensation people are saying, "Look, even with Bill 208 we're still inundated with more claims." Do you think Bill 208 is really working?
Mr Upshaw: What I believe is that as we get into the core certification training program that will justify itself in that it will most definitely start to work and work very well.
Mr Grandmaître: So what you need is more money to train people? This is what you're telling me?
Mr Upshaw: I'm not talking in terms of needing more money. My understanding is that the program will actually pay for itself.
Mr Grandmaître: Pay for itself?
Mr Upshaw: I believe so.
The Vice-Chair: We'll pass over to the government party and see if it has any questions.
Mr Fletcher: I have just a couple of questions, one on the previous question about the agency working to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in workplaces in Ontario. Do you think this is going to work later on down the road once the training gets in place?
Mr Upshaw: I wouldn't commit myself to the agency if I didn't strongly believe that the work of the agency will do just that, decrease deaths and serious injuries in the workplace.
Mr Fletcher: As far as some of the people who have already been on the agency are concerned, some have retired. They've quit because they've had disagreements. Is your commitment such that you're not going to be tendering your resignation because you lose one battle? I know what it's like when you have a debate in the labour movement and sometimes you walk out not agreeing, but you're solid usually. You're committed?
Mr Upshaw: I'm most definitely committed. I know what it's like to sit across the table and negotiate. You win some, you lose some, but you certainly don't get up and walk away, especially when the people you represent are looking for your leadership. I certainly don't look at a person as being a leader if he just walks away when there's a confrontation.
Mr Fletcher: Do you think the bipartite system is the right approach to workplace health and safety?
Mr Upshaw: I believe it's the only approach.
Mr Fletcher: How come? Let me just paraphrase this a little. I know that in the labour movement, health and safety has always been a big topic, with a lot of seminars, a lot of workshops and everything. Why do you think it's such a big thing? I know from a lot of people that management just isn't listening. That's what I hear from a lot of people in the movement.
Mr Upshaw: I've learned through my experience that when you work in a partnership arrangement, which is a bipartite arrangement, it works very well. It's not driven from one side or the other; it's a compromise. When you work hand in glove, that's when things work out the best. I can even think in terms of the employee assistance program. That's strictly a bipartite situation in the workplace. It's one the best programs that our union has ever been involved with, because management and labour work together. So I support bipartite all the way.
Mr Fletcher: You don't have a conflict because you hate this government or anything, do you?
Mr Upshaw: I have to work with this government on a daily basis and I have no conflict.
Mr Fletcher: I know. Thank you.
The Acting Chair (Mr Gary Carr): Anybody else from the government side?
Mr Rizzo: Yes, sir. I'm reading here on the research work that the compensation board "pays for the agency's budget by means of levies against employers falling within schedules 1 and 2 as defined in the Workers' Compensation Act." Can you explain a little bit more about that? Who funds the agency? The Workers' Compensation Board?
Mr Upshaw: The Workers' Compensation Board, yes.
Mr Rizzo: That's right. "By means of levies against employers falling within schedules 1 and 2 as defined in the Workers' Compensation Act." Can you tell me what schedules 1 and 2 say? How do they do that? The employers falling within schedules 1 and 2 of the Workers' Compensation Act are those who are funding, through the compensation board, the agency. Can you tell me who those employers are in terms of what type of employers? Who falls under those schedules?
Mr Upshaw: Schedule 1 --
Mr Rizzo: -- and 2.
Mr Upshaw: I'm afraid I don't know that answer.
Mr Rizzo: You have no idea. Can you tell me if it was ever considered asking employees who work in construction, forestry, mines and similar types of work to exercise before they start work in the morning? I know this happens in some companies in Japan. Have you ever considered even suggesting that, rather than coming out of the car or their shack and starting to work right away with these kinds of cold temperatures, to allow them half an hour to exercise and warm up before they actually start working?
Mr Upshaw: I think the concept is quite interesting. If the experts in the health and safety field feel that would be a deterrent to serious injuries and so on, I certainly would support something of that nature.
Mr Rizzo: It was never considered before?
Mr Upshaw: I haven't sat on the board yet.
Mr Rizzo: I see. You are not aware of any initiative in that direction?
Mr Upshaw: No. I am aware, though, in my own union and some workplaces that we do have exercise breaks during the day. I'm certainly in favour of that.
Mr Rizzo: The first year of operation of the agency was 1991. Do you know about that?
Mr Upshaw: 1991?
Mr Rizzo: The first complete year of operations.
Mr Upshaw: I believe that's right; 1991, yes.
Mr Rizzo: This was when the agency was created, 1991?
Mr Upshaw: Yes.
Mr Rizzo: Before that, were the other agencies, like the Construction Safety Association of Ontario, funded by the compensation board also or were they funded through different types of funding?
Mr Upshaw: I would think that they would have been funded by the Workers' Compensation Board.
Mr Rizzo: And they were responsible, they were giving their reports to the compensation board also.
Mr Upshaw: I would think so.
Mr Rizzo: And since the creation of this agency, now they are responsible to you.
Mr Upshaw: Through legislation.
Mr Rizzo: And through you, and you respond to the compensation board.
Mr Upshaw: Yes.
Mr Rizzo: Okay, thank you.
Mr Wiseman: I have a question. There seems to be still some tension in the workplace regarding the enforcement of some of these inspectors' orders and I've had -- I don't know how you do this, but that's what my question is about. Apparently some of the inspectors have allowed their position and some of the authorities within the act to go to their head in terms of what they're doing. Have you any thought about any way a greater degree of tact or diplomacy could be used in terms of how the inspectors and their implementation of their legal powers could be used to sort of minimize that kind of attention?
Mr Upshaw: I think the first thing you must do is to evaluate the red tape involved when an inspector goes out to make an inspection, makes a report back to his superiors. That's where there seems to be a breakdown. I understand this because the inspectors are my members and we've discussed this very thing and maybe, as you say, some of their heads get a little big. But the big problem is that they need the backing of their superiors when they make decisions at times, and it seems to be a breakdown there.
Mr Wiseman: Well, some of the management is really hostile to inspectors coming in and it may not even have been anything the inspectors did. It could be just, you know, mistrust, I guess. Management really isn't too happy about -- some management, I mean. Some management out there's really happy to see this because they've seen that it saves them money, saves them from people being injured, missing time and so on. I'm just wondering if there's any way that kind of tension could be reduced.
Mr Upshaw: I believe with the expertise that will be gained on both sides, on management side and on the labour side, through the certification training, where you will now have people who understand the legislation and have the wherewithal to ensure that it is in fact a healthy and safe workplace -- as that program unfolds I believe you'll find the tension decreasing, because now they'll have experts right in the workplace who'll be able to assess the situation.
Mr Wiseman: Yes, I was just looking through the manual you've brought in and, as a former teacher, I think the visuals and the way it's laid out is an excellent way of communicating. I would like to commend the workers' health and safety agency who put this together, because this is really a good book to work from.
Mr McLean: Welcome to the committee.
Mr Upshaw: Thank you.
Mr McLean: Do you remember the night in the Holiday Inn in Orillia where you had my chair upside down and my name on it?
Mr Upshaw: Is this get-even day?
Mr McLean: No. I came in half an hour late with TV cameras and stole the whole show.
Why did you apply for this position, Mr Upshaw?
Mr Upshaw: Well, I believe in health and safety. I'm a registered nurse. Most of my nursing has been in a psychiatric facility. I have seen many of my colleagues over the years get seriously injured. I've seen that a lot of those injuries could have been avoided had we had health and safety numbers, meaning staffwise, on the wards to deal with aggression.
I've seen my own members -- well, one of my members was murdered, Krista Sepp, working alone. I've seen my members killed in the ambulance service when the plane has crashed, even though before going up in the plane they tried to point out that it was unsafe, but through a sense of responsibility, they went and they were killed. I've seen members seriously affected by pricks of needles, when they're giving medication and so forth, where they've ended up with hepatitis. I can go on and on. I myself have been approached by a psychiatric patient with a sword.
Mr McLean: So, as a member of the board, what are you going to do to prevent that?
Mr Upshaw: What I'm hoping to do is to ensure that we now have experts in the work field who can point out these discrepancies and put a healthy environment in the workplace before these types of things can happen.
Mr McLean: How many days a year will you be sitting? I have no idea. I haven't seen anything where it says how many days you would be required to meet.
Mr Upshaw: I believe that the board will make a decision as to the dates it wants to meet, probably almost from meeting to meeting, and I'm prepared to meet whenever it's necessary.
Mr McLean: How many meetings did they have last year?
Mr Upshaw: I have no idea.
Mr McLean: I guess it bothers me a little bit when I -- you know that there's a per diem for this.
Mr Upshaw: I don't accept per diems.
Mr McLean: You don't accept per diems?
Mr Upshaw: No, I don't.
Mr McLean: I'm glad to hear that, because it indicates here that it's $275 for every day spent on agency business. I was just hoping that it wasn't --
Mr Upshaw: Well, that's $275 a day that you won't have to pay to me, because I do not accept per diems.
I also sat on the Premier's Council on Health, Wellbeing and Social Justice and I haven't claimed one penny of expenses that go along with that position, and I don't intend to.
Mr McLean: I appreciate that very much. Thank you, Mr Chair.
Mr Carr: I want to thank you for coming in here. I know you mentioned a couple of others. You've been actively involved in a lot of government committees and worked very hard. I was interested in the time that you do have, because I've seen some of the statistics in some of the committees you've been on and you do work extremely hard. Are you going to be able to fit this in and are you dropping any other priorities, or what's going to be happening with your time?
Mr Upshaw: Given the position that I'm in, I would have to say that probably the number one priority for me is the health, safety and wellbeing of my members. When I make a commitment to the agency, I intend to be there when the meetings are called, and I expect to participate to ensure that we cut down on the accidents and that we start to develop good, healthy workplaces.
Mr Carr: This isn't to point any blame but, as you know, there has been a lot of criticism that it hasn't been working. I think we talked a little bit about some of that. I know your background and, having worked with management and labour, you've tried to bring them together and hopefully will be able to do that. But is there anything else you see that can be done to make this work? As you know -- again I'm not pointing a finger as to whose fault it is, because that wouldn't be helpful -- but there has been some criticism. What else can we do to make this thing work?
Mr Upshaw: I believe in a healthy attitude, which is what I will take to the agency. I don't look at myself as being on one side or the other. I just look at what we're there for, and I'll work in partnership to see that we accomplish it.
Mr Carr: What about on the other side, from business's perspective? As you know, they have been the ones who have been very critical. Is there anything you can see that you're doing to bring them back and improve their attitude towards it? I appreciate the attitude you're coming in with. How are we going to do that? I know that's a million-dollar question, but maybe you could just help us with it.
Mr Upshaw: I guess it all evolves around the attitude you have yourself. It doesn't take too long for the people on that board to realize that you have a healthy attitude, and that has a way of rubbing off. If you come in with an antagonistic point of view, then we'll never get to first base. I'm coming in with a fresh view, one where I want to participate in a partnership, and I think that'll rub off.
Mr Carr: One last question. This isn't to be political so I don't intend to be like that. I know sometimes people misinterpret it. I guess you could say it either way, but how would you classify the relationship with your government and your members now? Is it getting better or worse and what can be done to try to improve it? Is there anything?
Mr Upshaw: Once again, in the relationship with the government and my members, I can say to you that, given the fact that we're in a recession and looking around at the other provinces in this country, as far as my members are concerned at least, we have the type of contract we can be proud of, given the situation of some of the other provinces. We will never see eye to eye on everything, and that's what union management is all about. But one thing we have done is we've had a lot of consultation. That I appreciate, but we will never see eye to eye on every single thing.
Mr Carr: Good luck.
The Chair: There's some disagreement over time unused, but I'm going to allow the official opposition one additional question.
Mr Bradley: Will it be your intention to be as vigorous in your criticism of the present administration and the position to which you're being appointed as you have consistently been of Conservative and Liberal governments over the years, or are we simply going to have an apologist for government policy? I just heard you say "considering the recession" in a little bit of a preamble, which I never heard when a Tory government or a Liberal government was in power.
Mr Upshaw: I never had a job security package when the Liberals and the Tories were in power.
Mr Marchese: That can't be.
Mr Upshaw: Having said that, I will be very vigorous on the board in upholding the mandate of the board. That you can count on. That's where I will be coming from. I can be very antagonistic if I feel people are moving off the mandate of the agency.
Mr Bradley: So we'll read in the OPSEU News about how you're dissatisfied, if you are dissatisfied.
The Chair: Mr Upshaw, that concludes the debate that was almost about to start. Thank you very much for your appearance here today. We appreciate it and we wish you well.
For members who are not aware, Tom McCullough, who was slated to appear before us, couldn't make it today and we're still trying to arrange for his appearance tomorrow. That's not confirmed yet. What I'm looking for at this point is either one motion or individual motions to concur with the appointments reviewed today.
Mr Marchese: I'm prepared to move concurrence on all of them.
The Chair: Mr Marchese moves concurrence on all of the appointments reviewed today. Any discussion on the motion? All in favour? Carried.
Mr Bradley: Guaranteed.
The Chair: That concludes the regular meeting. I remind the members of the subcommittee that we're having a brief subcommittee meeting. Meeting adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 1524