The Chair: I call the meeting to order. The first matter on the agenda this morning is a 30-minute review of an intended appointment to the Rent Review Hearings Board, Mr Paul Loftus. We appreciate your appearance here this morning. You have probably been informed that this is a 30-minute review. We have 10 minutes afforded to each party for questions and responses during that period of time. Your review was a selection of the official opposition, so we are going to begin with Mr Grandmaître.
Mr Loftus: My present responsibilities? I am a nominee at this point, but I was with rent review services before becoming a nominee for the position on the board. The position that I formerly occupied?
Mr Grandmaître: I find this very strange. We have people applying for appointments in this province, a province of close to 10 million people. I am not pointing at you specifically, but I find it very strange that this government would have to second people to fill these appointments. I know the government is looking for experienced people to do a good job, but I find it very strange. This is not only for the Rent Review Hearings Board; it is happening in every ministry. I find it very strange that we are seconding civil servants to appointments. The first thing you know, these people will be writing themselves memos a year from now, after their secondment, answering their own memos. I find this very strange. I am not trying to insult you, sir -- I do not know you -- but I find it very strange that the government would do so. What are your thoughts on the present bill?
Mr McLean: I guess the appeal cases that have been carried over from previous years -- I think I understand why you are being appointed, and that is to get rid of some of this backlog. You are an individual who, I am sure, with your background and capability could sit in a hearing tomorrow and get rid of some of this backlog that is there. I think the reason you are being appointed is because of your experience -- I am sure of that -- and that is why your one year is being allowed.
Can you indicate for us or tell us if you feel that our backlog is being lowered enough? You want to do it more, I am sure. What do you think of the cases? I see the appeals withdrawn were 662 in 1990-91. Would that be because they felt they would not be able to get their increase? Why would those appeals be withdrawn?
Mr McLean: So you feel that as of tomorrow you could go and sit on a panel and make the adjustments that are necessary. I am sure you are qualified to do that. I do not have any further questions because I think, from what I have read here, you are qualified. I wish you luck.
Mr Carr: I have a couple of questions. Sometimes it is a little difficult, I know, blowing your own horn, if you will, but you seem to have a very impressive résumé. If you were to sum up what you feel are your strengths and qualifications for this and put all modesty aside, what would you feel would be your biggest attributes and strengths to be able to fill this position?
Mr Loftus: I have the ability to sit and listen to all parties present their evidence or their side of the story, take into consideration all the evidence and make sure everyone has an adequate opportunity to present their evidence and their stories to be able to judge on the basis of fairness. In the time frame that I held hearings throughout Ontario, that was one of the things I endeavoured to do consistently, to make sure that all parties had the opportunity to present their evidence and that they were aware of the circumstances and were given an opportunity during the hearing to present that.
Mr Carr: I think some of us members have probably sat in on some of the hearings in the course of our responsibilities. I did on one in particular. They get very technical and complicated. As a matter of fact, some of the people get very upset too, because they have waited for a long period of time to come in and have hearings. The one I was at kept getting postponed and so on. The people had to deal with some people who were very agitated and very excited, to say the least, in this case. What do you feel your qualifications will be to handle some of these difficult situations where people get rather upset, obviously because of the circumstances involved like this? How would you handle some of these situations that may arise?
Mr Loftus: First, I indicated that I would listen to the individuals. If they were having difficulties understanding the circumstances they found themselves in, if it was a technical question and they could not understand the jargon used, I would endeavour to make sure they were aware of what the technical aspect would be, briefly. If they understood, hopefully that would supply them with enough information to answer the question.
Because it is sometimes an emotional situation for people, I give them an opportunity to vent and to be able to take their time if they do not understand something. I make sure they understand the procedure and exactly that the province is there to listen -- because I represent the province -- to both sides, to give them the opportunity. In the past, I found that a quiet demeanour usually was the best method, not antagonizing anyone.
Mr Carr: The other thing associated with this is that a lot of people are intimidated by the whole process. I know people have tried to keep it very simple. What else do you think you can do to make it a little easier for people? Unfortunately, while when we put these things in place we want to have very simple procedures, they turn out to be very complex for people, almost as complex as court cases. As you know, we have consultants who come in to represent some of the groups and so on. It feels like the average citizen, unless he has been aware of it, finds it very difficult. Is there anything you think you can do in your own responsibility to simplify it for people so that they feel they can be a little more aware of how it is happening? How would you see yourself handling that situation?
Mr Loftus: Again, ascertain what the concern is, and if I am able, if it is within my jurisdiction, try and have that person be made aware that he does have rights and that his rights are being protected at the hearing, so that he has an adequate opportunity to know what the issues are, and if he is not represented, that he can be represented, to make them aware of that. Information, I find, is number one for people in that circumstance.
Mr Carr: I have one last question. It is just with regard to your technical expertise. I have seen some of the material, which gets very complex when you have both sides presenting. Some of the paperwork alone can be stacked rather high. What do you feel your background is in terms of being able to get through some of the technical aspects and get to the bottom of a problem? What do you see as your greatest strengths to be able to do that?
Mr Loftus: Again, it is communicating with the parties, ascertaining what the specific misunderstanding might be, going to the heart of the matter and assisting with information, but not assisting one side against the other, giving information to make the parties aware of what their rights and obligations would be. Both parties are there to present their evidence. I will assist them as far as I can, according to the legislation, if they do not understand a specific aspect, and make them aware of it.
Mr McLean: Will you be paid by the Rent Review Hearings Board as you are seconded from the ministry or is your pay at the ministry going to continue, or will it stop and you will be on the rent review board totally?
Mr McLean: That bill gives the civil servant who makes a decision total power, and there is no recourse for any individual to an independent tribunal after that. Do you think this is right or proper, that the final decision will be made by a person such as you with no recourse to any other tribunal?
Mr Loftus: From January 1976 to December 31, 1986, it is something I enjoyed doing. I enjoyed meeting with people. I enjoyed getting out and being educated in the communities, meeting different groups of people from different parts of the province. It is a job I really like to do and it is an opportunity for my experience to be shared back, the money that was invested in me, my training and so forth from 1976 to now. It is available and I am interested in the position. I enjoyed doing it.
Mr Callahan: I was going to ask the question Al did, but I understand you are seconded from the ministry to this position. I note you did it from January 1976 until December 1986. Can you explain why you went back from that position to administrator?
Mr Loftus: When the appointment expired December 31, 1986, I believe, I applied for the new program at that time which left the Residential Tenancy Commission and went in in 1987. I applied and won a competition at the time for the new program.
Mr Callahan: I guess what I am asking is, up to 1986 you were conducting public hearings either under rent review or the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. Why did you cease to do that and take on this other one?
Mr Callahan: I like your credentials, particularly your involvement with Big Brothers. They are probably, along with Big Sisters, one of the most important committees I can think of. I also like that you have attended the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution. I think that is the wave of the future, how a lot of problems are going to be solved; if they cannot get before the courts, they will have to go there. Those are my questions.
The Chair: The next witness is Arlene Svarich. Welcome to the committee. Ms Svarich as well is an intended appointee as a member of the Rent Review Hearings Board. Your review was a decision of the official opposition.
Mr Grandmaître: Again, here is another secondment, and I am very concerned. I know the Ministry of Housing is trying to improve the quality of its services by bringing about a faster resolution to, or solving of its hearings problems. I know they are well intended, but again I question the fact that they are seconding very qualified people from other ministries. I would like to ask the nominee, do you know who will be replacing you in the Ministry of the Attorney General? You are with the Attorney General right now, right?
Ms Svarich: I would like to clarify that. I was on a secondment until the end of December 1991 at the Ministry of the Attorney General and then I returned to my permanent civil service position with the Ministry of Housing at rent review services.
The Chair: I do not want to take away from your time, Mr Grandmaître, but I want to advise the photographer not to do that sort of thing again. I would suggest that is inappropriate behaviour in the committee room. We do not mind you standing back there and taking photos, but I do not want you leaning across the members' desks to do it.
Ms Svarich: I am aware that is proposed legislation, but I have no opinion on the particular piece of proposed legislation. If I am appointed adjudicator, I will be applying the existing legislation of the day.
Mr Callahan: I have to say I agree with my colleague in this particular application. Where are your skills in terms of a sound working knowledge of DOS going to be used in this new capacity you are seeking?
Mr Callahan: I must say that your credentials in the role you are carrying out are probably essential to the government right now with the proposed increase in the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court to $3,000. I think your expertise, considering the factor of the backlog we have in the court system, is also going to be of some significant value. I agree with Mr Grandmaître. I hate to say it, but I think the qualifications you presently have perhaps would be the reason I would vote against your confirmation. I think you should stay where you are and not have somebody compete for a position and then have to be trained all over again in this myriad of programs.
Mr Callahan: As I see it, your employment was as a planning officer, developmental assignment, courts administration, Ministry of the Attorney General, from April 1990 to date, and prior to that you were with rent review services. That is where you performed the services. Is that right?
Mr Callahan: I certainly think your qualifications are very significant and I hate to see them lost to a process or a situation now that may need it in an even greater capacity than the rent review process.
Mr Callahan: It may have been developmental, but you obviously learned a good deal about how to deal with these issues. Now that is going to be lost. I have no difficulty with people moving up in the process, but I think having to replace them, with the time and effort to get them up to speed with what you have in that regard --
Mr Callahan: Well, I have said what I had to say. I agree with Mr Grandmâitre. I think secondment for the benefit of simply opening up the space is not a good idea. I think it is spending tax dollars unwisely.
Ms Svarich: No, it is not very much at all. As far as I understand it, the salary range for this particular member's position is $53,000 to $65,000. With my permanent civil servant position, I was at the top of the range, and the increase is not that much.
Mr McLean: The current system has been criticized by tenants as being too complex and many tenants do not feel comfortable having to make lengthy written submissions. They do not feel their concerns have been adequately addressed in the technical paper review of Bill 121. Can you tell me whether you feel that a tenant or a tenants' group should be represented by a lawyer, or do you feel they should be able to represent themselves?
Ms Svarich: Under the existing legislation, there is an entitlement that the parties are able to be represented, so they do have that right. As an adjudicator, I would allow them to exercise that right if they wished.
Mr McLean: The Ontario Municipal Board is the same. We are dealing with it, and it appears to me you have to have more legal people there all the time. That is not why the OMB was set up. It was supposed to be for the ordinary person, if he or she had a complaint, to be able to take it to the OMB without a whole lot of expense. I think there are tenants out there who feel much the same way. They would like to be able to do it without having to hire a lawyer. I wish our legislation was such that it would allow them to be able to make their points without legal --
In 1990-91 there were over 1,400 cases that were dealt with. What do you feel would be an ordinary case load to be carrying? I have no idea, but 1,400 seems a lot. The question I would like to ask is, how many months' backlog is there now?
Mr Carr: Knowing the situation of what the position requires, what do you think are some of the strengths you would be able to bring? I know I looked on your résumé here at some of the qualifications, but essentially what are some of the things you think will be your biggest assets to bring to this position?
Ms Svarich: I have a great deal of experience in communication skills as a law clerk dealing with clients and working as a civil servant dealing with the public. As to my administration skills as a civil servant and as a law clerk with my legal background, I feel this is an opportunity to use that experience and tie it in with adjudication skills.
Mr Carr: In terms of where you see yourself a couple of years from now, is there anything else you would like to do in terms of where you are heading in your career, or basically have you thought that far ahead, of what you would like to be doing down the road a little way?
Ms Svarich: Just carrying on and serving the people of Ontario. I do not know in the future what doors will be open, but at this time it is just being glad to serve the people of Ontario as a civil servant.
Mr Carr: Knowing the position, what are some of the challenges you see? What are some of the things you think are going to be the most difficult aspects of this particular position? Knowing the position like you do, where do you see some of the areas where there is going to be the greatest amount of challenge for yourself in particular? Is there any area?
Ms Svarich: If I do have difficulty in areas, in understanding some legal arguments, I have the opportunity to consult our legal department, if I do not understand any legal arguments. So there may be a difficulty there for me, but at least I will have an answer available to me.
Mr Carr: I take it that since you are applying for the position, you are in favour of the process of having these review hearings. As you know, when this was started up originally, there was supposed to be a situation that could be cleaned up very quickly. The basic theory was that if you had a disagreement you would go to the board and it would make a decision.
As we know, the backlog is at least 6,000, maybe more, and we are into a situation where the Ontario Municipal Board, on the same principle, is backed up 12 to 14 months. In our court system, we have, what, over 35,000 cases thrown out as a result. So everything we seem to put in, whether it is workers' compensation, the Ontario Municipal Board, the rent board or our courts, basically in the general public's eyes is not working now, because there is a backlog and there are waiting lists. Knowing the system, do you believe the rent review system is still the best way to go to resolve these difficulties?
Mr Carr: I guess if you disagreed you would not have stayed in it, so presumably if you are working within the system -- if you had a tremendous amount of disagreement you could have gone back to law clerk or something with your background.
With regard to how you are going to handle the situations that arise, I understand there is a tremendous amount of pressure with the position because you are like a judge. How do you think you will be able to handle some of the pressures? Regardless of what the decision is, you will affect people probably as significantly as some of the judges do. How do you think your capabilities are to handle that extreme pressure that may be placed on you? Do you think you will be able to handle that?
Ms Svarich: I think, given my background, I have good experience in dealing with the stress and pressure that may come along with it. As a law clerk in a small law firm, I appeared before a judge in Small Claims Court and judgement-debtor examinations, for example, and I am aware of the adjudication process and the stress that goes along with it. So I have ideas of how to control that stress.
Mr Carr: One last question. A lot of what we are talking about is technical material. As you know, particularly when you get lawyers involved, as we do now, they put together presentations that are very thick, very technical and it is a very complicated situation. Do you feel you have the capabilities technically to grasp the issues and be able, as a result, to make the proper decision?
Mr Ferguson: This applicant and the previous applicant, Mr Loftus, are obviously career civil servants. They are intelligent, bright, knowledgeable people who obviously are looking for a new challenge in life. Nobody is suggesting these are blatant political appointments. However, I think those of us who have served in public life recognize that from time to time that inappropriate individuals are appointed at all levels, whether it be to federal boards or provincial boards or in fact even local boards. Nobody is suggesting that here.
What I want to put out is that these are not blatant political appointments. They are individuals who have decided to pursue a different career path in life and take a detour, and are looking for new challenges. What puzzles me is that the suggestion has been advanced that we should not appoint these people because they are going to leave a hole somewhere in the civil service. God forbid that the province of Ontario is going to come to a grinding halt if these two individuals are appointed to another position and a hole then has to be filled.
Quite simply, I think we all recognize that is not going to happen. This happens every day, not only in the public sector but in the private sector, where people move on to new challenges in life, create vacancies and individuals are appointed and take up the challenge the other individual left off. I do not see the rationale or the logic for not supporting somebody because you think they might leave a hole in the bureacracy somewhere. I can see the rationale for not wanting to appoint someone who is a blatant political appointment, and the individual does not have any qualifications at all.
I know in the past some individuals have been appointed to the Ontario Municipal Board and the most they knew about the board was -- in fact some of them probably thought the Ontario Municipal Board was a piece of wood the city owned. Clearly this is not the case. What we have here are bright, intelligent, and I would like to think fair-minded individuals who are going to act in the best interests of the citizens of this province. Surely, what more could we ask?
The Chair: As Chair, I allow considerable latitude in terms of the discussions and comments in this committee. I think it makes it a little more interesting from time to time. Unless we are getting into character assassination or that sort of thing, I do not intervene. You still have time left. Is there any other member who wishes to --
Mr Marchese: If you will take statements, there is nothing unusual about secondments. Obviously we know that. Mr Grandmaïtre was saying that of course there are probably hundreds of people who love to serve and that, I am sure, is true. The point was that we all recognize there is a backlog. What we have here are interested individuals who have the experience and knowledge to deal with that. I would think we would support that, based on that simple point of view.
On that basis, we believe we are more interested in dealing with this issue as a way of moving on as opposed to having people who need the time to develop the experience to deal with that. That usually takes time, anywhere from six months to a year, until you acquire the knowledge and the experience to deal with it. On that basis, we have two people who will be able to help us with it.
The Chair: No, I have a speaking order here. We still have some time if any other member of the government party wishes to ask a question or make a comment at this time. There are three minutes remaining for the official opposition. Mr Callahan was the first to indicate.
Mr Callahan: I want to respond to what Mr Ferguson has said. I think I made it quite clear that this young lady's credentials are very good, excellent, but the difficulty is that in the final statement she said that after the period of her position is over she will return to the ministry. In the meantime you have hired another employee. If there is one thing the taxpayers of this province and this country are upset about it is the cost of government. You are just increasing the number of civil servants instead of perhaps trying, through attrition, not through firing -- you people are going to rue the day very shortly where you are going to have massive firings or layoffs because the public is going to go bananas about the lack of revenues and the deficit. As a result of that, you are going to have to let people go who you supposedly support in terms of your political philosophy.
I caution you that by doing this, sure, this young lady has an opportunity to move up. I would not stop her from doing that. I think that is great. It shows a positive attitude on her part. But the fact is that unlike business, as Mr Ferguson says, after she finishes her secondment she comes back into the system. In the meantime you have hired somebody else.
I put this on the record so that one day I can show you that when you find yourselves in the position of having to let people go, and they are saying to you, "Hey, I thought you guys were in support of the workers and the unions, yet you have to let these people go," the answer will be that you did not plan properly now, particularly at a time when we are going to come in with a $14-billion deficit, according to Floyd, and you are doing this. I have nothing bad to say about this young lady's qualifications. They are excellent. In fact, to lose her I think would be a real disadvantage, but the system about secondment where you replace that person and then that person comes back in again is like -- what do they call it, arithmetic progression or is it geometric progression? Eventually you just run out of office space if nothing else. Maybe you should think about that.
Mr Marchese: As a response, first of all, we do not know whether these two individuals will be replaced by others or whether the system will continue to function without them. That is something I am not certain about and perhaps --
Mr Marchese: Okay, I was not here when she said that. In spite of that, that is not essentially the point. However, even if that is the case, you still need another person to fill this position. If you go outside, you have to hire someone. It is more or less the same thing. What Mr Callahan is saying is: "Don't worry about the backlog really. It is not an issue for me." What is an issue here is that you are hiring somebody and somebody else will have to be hired to replace her, versus are we dealing with this issue of backlog effectively by doing this --
Mr Marchese: By implication, when one speaks that way, we overlook what we are trying to deal with. What we are saying is that if you hire two people of experience, you deal with this, and by dealing with it we are all relieving ourselves of an enormous headache with constituents, with people who have to deal with the appeals system and so on. All the government members are benefiting by the system. I think we should reflect on that versus the focus Mr Callahan was putting when he said, "We are hiring this person and what does it mean when you have to hire somebody else, and look at the deficit." I do not know whether that is really the focus we should be looking at.
The Chair: I am sorry; the time is up. I think everyone has their positions on the record. Ms Svarich, good luck and we appreciate your appearance here this morning. I am sure you found it most interesting.
Can the clerk nod if the next witness is here or are you aware? No? While we are waiting for the clerk to determine whether the witness is here or not, for your information, everyone has a copy of the draft memorandum that David Pond has prepared in response to the memo from the executive assistant to the Minister of Health. Dave, do you want to make a comment on it.
Mr Pond: I have submitted that to the clerk who is officially responsible for the paper flow. I doubt very much whether he has had the time to draft that up and circulate it to the members. I think the Chair is the only one who has seen it.
The Chair: I thought he was circulating it earlier. My apologies if that is not the case. In any event, I think it is a fine response. It is a clarification with respect to what we discussed yesterday and I see nothing wrong with the clerk sending this back to the ministry. If anyone wants to take a look at this, if you have any problems with it, just let me know.
On the other matter, Doug is looking for our witness, I just want to put on the record my compliments to our researcher with respect to preparing us for this week. It was very short notice. He prepared a significant number of research documents for us and did an outstanding job, as always. David, our thanks.
The Chair: The agenda indicates Mr Rosenbaum is an intended appointee as vice-chair of the Ontario Film Development Corp. This, again, is a half-hour review. Mr Rosenbaum was chosen for review by the Conservative Party and I am going to look to Mr McLean to begin asking questions.
Mr Rosenbaum: It comes from private investors, Telefilm Canada, joint projects, the Ontario film investment program, companies in the non-theatrical department, various corporations that ask that films be made on their behalf for either educational or industrial purposes, and then the commercial films, television, certain of the networks and some of the co-productions with other jurisdictions as well. Primarily, OFDC and Telefilm play a major role in funding both theatrical and non-theatrical production in this province.
Mr Rosenbaum: My background is that I am involved in the industry sort of on the periphery, I suppose the expression is. I worked for years at the film festival. I was one of the administrators of the festival under Wayne Clarkson, and I had, throughout, an interest in film. If you look at my background, it is also as a lawyer. I did my training as a lawyer and I practised law for five years. Then I got out of lawyering and went into the restaurant business. I have two restaurants here in Toronto. One of them is kind of a club as well, so I am involved, within the confines of the club, in the film program. We have an association called the Macadamians which programs films there.
I have an interest as an amateur in film and how films are made and in attending them. I have worked with film and filmmakers through the festival. Since 1988, I have been on the board of the OFDC, but I am not actually in the film industry, in the sense that I have never had a film made or been involved -- actually I was involved in the production of one film. I helped a friend years ago in a film called That's My Baby and was somewhat involved, but I am not really in the film business per se.
Mr Rosenbaum: Yes, I am just being appointed vice-chair. Probably one of the reasons is that I am one of the veterans on the board. We have eight new members coming on this year and three came on last year. There are maybe three or four of us who have any longevity. I have an idea of how the board has been functioning.
Also, the whole administration has changed. Last year we lost our CEO and chairman, Wayne Clarkson, so we have a new chairman in Diane Chabot and a new CEO in Paul Gratton. So I guess there is an element of trying to bring about a bridging and a continuity between the two boards that predate this change and the existing one.
Mr Rosenbaum: I think the budgetary demands have increased. I think production is down this year. Again, I am giving you my impression from my -- I feel I bridge various communities. From the entrepreneurial side of things, I am a businessman, but I am a businessman very steeped in the arts and cultural community, especially through the Rivoli. I have dealings with all kinds of people in the film industry and so on.
From what I hear from the people on the street, which is where I get most of my information in terms of filmmaking and what is happening in the industry, I think the film industry is really in bad shape in Ontario right now. It is simply a function of the recession. There is not the money available, primarily from private investors, to get films done. Most of the people I know, from actors to directors to cinematographers to people who work on sets, are having to take on waitering jobs and taxi jobs and things like that. That is what tells me the industry is in deep trouble.
People are still approaching the OFDC and Telefilm for funds. What is interesting is that we are getting a larger company like Alliance as well coming to us. Years ago they were able to find their funding strictly through private investment.
Mr McLean: In March 1991, the then minister, who is sitting here today, announced a program for $28.7 million. Has that money been used up? It was over a two-year period, but is all of that money going to be used?
Mr Rosenbaum: The intention is that it be used up. In fact, as I said, it is not enough. We are getting more requests for involvement of the OFDC and for a larger percentage of the budget, because what has dried up is the private investment, the private sources, whether they be banks or other people -- accountants, lawyers, dentists -- who used to invest in films for tax havens. That is drying up, so the demands are much greater on the OFDC. However, to the extent that the films get realized, that is a large problem because of the situation.
Mr McLean: One final question: They are doing some redesigning of the corner over here at Wellesley and Bay where they were going to put the opera house. Would that new facility be used as part of the making of film?
Mr Marchese: A few questions, Mr Rosenbaum. My first has to do with trying to get you to talk about what you think the economic and cultural benefits of the film industry are. In my past life I had a difficult time convincing a lot of people about the cultural and economic benefits of the film industry to Ontarians and Canada. Could you comment on that?
Mr Rosenbaum: As far as the cultural benefits are concerned, I think in a funny way they are more important than the economic benefits, simply because I think the film industry helps create an identity in Canada. It is a mirror on ourselves. In fact, the way I see Canadian film emerging and standing on its own is not by imitating American cinema. I think that is part of the problem we are facing in many facets of Canadian life, that we are becoming a bit carbon copies of our southern neighbours.
The kind of films I find very interesting that are now coming out of the OFDC are films like Mississippi Masala, Talk 16 and Sam and Me, which basically examine the very cultural mosaic nature of Canadian life. They examine, I guess, Canadians' own obsession with looking at themselves and analysing themselves, which I think is a very interesting and worthwhile aspect to project on a screen in terms of showing the world how Canadians think and act. I think a strong culture is a foundation and a foundation stone for a strong nation and a strong province which will assist them in undergoing and passing through difficult times, as we are in now. I think if you undermine the cultural identity you will find that everything else crumbles around it.
As far as the economic concerns go, as I was mentioning before, I see myriad people, armies of people around my neighbourhood who are now unemployed because of the falling film industry, because of the inability to get financing for films. These are extremely talented, creative, productive people who would make us proud culturally as well. That is where it ties in. They have the cultural contribution to make, and in making a cultural contribution they obviously help the economy of the province through the millions of dollars that are invested in films, by going to restaurants, to the extent that people do that, by going to stores. Their purchasing power is increased. And there are many people who can work in the film industry, so I believe it has a tremendous economic impact. I think it is a very important industry. It is an industry that has lots of -- I am trying to think of the word.
Mr Marchese: Can you talk about what would have happened to the film industry had the government not provided the support it did, the $30 million over the two-year period? What would have happened to the industry?
Mr Rosenbaum: I think to the extent that we have any industry now, it is largely due to both OFDC and Telefilm participation. I think it would have dried up completely. Again, as I say, I think as a province we would have lost a mirror of ourselves, and from the economic point of view we would have lost a tremendous amount of stimulus that is there largely due to these programs, to OFIP and to OFDC funding in general.
Mr Marchese: Let me ask you another question that is of particular interest to me, because I have met a number of filmmakers here and there who often complain they are not getting an adequate chance to access money from the OFDC. There are charges that a lot of the money is already committed to well-known filmmakers and that many are excluded. Some wonder whether it is racially connected or culturally connected or otherwise. Do you have a view?
Mr Rosenbaum: My sense is that this is not the case, again, even by some of the films I have mentioned. In fact, I think the OFDC bends over backwards to be open to new filmmakers and to give them opportunities to approach -- I think it is a very approachable agency. I think that is the strength of the OFDC. I think it is an agency that has been run extremely effectively and openly. Again, on a social level, in my dealings with filmmakers and people in the film industry, they much prefer the way the OFDC operates to the way Telefilm operates to some degree, in the sense of accessibility and approachability. I think the OFDC, part of it, very much also looks for subjects dealing with minority groups and visible minorities that reflect the cultural and social conditions in Ontario.
Mr Rosenbaum: I do not think as vice-chair my role will impact much more than it has now. I would simply like to see it continue in its process, remaining open to young filmmakers. I think it is important that it be a source of funding for filmmakers with very worthwhile messages who otherwise might not get their films made. Basically, I really think it is important to maintain an independent Ontario film industry for the sake of this province. That is where the OFDC's role stands. I think it is a safeguard against having NBC's and CBS's and ABC's Monday night movies being the only thing made in Ontario.
Mr Frankford: Have you had the opportunity or do you think you will have the opportunity of speaking up around free trade issues and making the case that culture is something that should not be part of that?
Mr Rosenbaum: I feel very strongly that it should not be a part. I do not know about speaking up or not, but certainly my sentiments are very strong in terms of not only preserving but husbanding the Canadian and Ontario culture. I think it is very distinct. I think that is our richness, that is our wealth. I think to dilute it would be a travesty.
Mr Rosenbaum: We are not involved in finding funding for them. We have a budget that is given to us to distribute among applicants who come to the OFDC for funding. They are responsible for finding a large part of their own funding, and we usually see them through to about 40% of their budget, or sometimes less. But we give them the funding; we do not find it for them.
Mr Rosenbaum: No. I do not have the figures; there have been some returns. We try to take an equity position in the films, and some of them we have done all right in; with others we have not. I think the return is not the primary attitude, although it is a very important aspect. We look for distribution agreements, for television possibilities, and if they are non-theatrical, we look for venues where they will be shown and there is some chance the film will make a return.
Mr Callahan: The reason the Ontario film industry is having difficulties, I am told -- I do not know whether this is correct -- is that there was a tax advantage set up for investing in Canadian films, and then when it came time to pick up the royalties or to negotiate the proper royalty contracts so that people got their money back, it did not happen. Night Heat is a major attraction on US channels and so on, and people who invested in that are getting very little, if anything.
Mr Rosenbaum: I think there was certainly a major problem in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the tax write-offs and a lot of the producers, many fly-by-nighters, if I can use the expression, who came along and used the opportunity to raise all kinds of money which was then lost, and nobody got much return.
We have a legal department at the OFDC. We try to have agreements in place with film guarantors in terms that the film will get made. Once we put the money in, there is a film guarantor and various agreements about our equity position in terms of when we will get paid and so forth. Through the staff at OFDC, we administer fairly seriously the overall returns and sales and so forth, and that is part of the agreements we make with the films we invest in, that they open their books to us and that we know where we stand.
Mr Callahan: There were quite a few that were disappointments, films that made a lot of money for somebody, and if OFDC was involved as a party to these, I find it very unfortunate that there was not a greater policing activity that took place to ensure that those investors were not being hoodwinked.
Mr Rosenbaum: There was A Winter Tan; also Road Kill and now Highway 61. I know there was a time where a lot of producers were not paying back their investors, but I really do not know if OFDC has been involved or caught in any of these major blockbusters where they did not get any money. I do not know of any such situation.
Mr Callahan: The reason I find that interesting is that the purpose of this body was to enhance, to encourage, to give confidence to Canadian films, and yet if you do not take a proactive role in terms of policing so that investors are not being hoodwinked --
Mr Rosenbaum: I do not know if it is part of their terms of reference that they can actually police, but I assume that in protecting their own investment, at the same time, they are protecting the other investors. I think it would be very difficult for a producer to get away with very much if the OFDC was monitoring its own investment very assiduously.
Mr Rosenbaum: It all depends on the agreement. Sometimes the producers and certain people in the film do a situation where they do not pay themselves. For example, because the OFDC is very often involved with very young filmmakers or screenwriters or filmmakers who are doing their first film, they very often will not pay themselves initially from the budget. What they will do is wait until the returns come in to pay themselves. They may get the first payment. But the OFDC, usually with Telefilm, puts itself in an equity position so that it is, after certain expenses, paid back out of royalties and revenue.
Mr Callahan: If you are vice-chairman, you are going to have somewhat of an influence on what this body does. If they wish to maintain whatever market we have now and build some credibility into the system, they had better start looking at more than just their own equity position. They had better be looking at the contracts that are signed and the protections that are offered to investors, because that is where the bulk of your money is going to come from. If you get scenarios where they market and remarket this product in the United States and in Europe and all over the world and do not bother to collect because they have poor agreements on the royalties, or do collect it but somehow it goes up in smoke, you are not going to have many people who are going to be too sympathetic about investing in any film industry.
Mr Rosenbaum: I agree with you. I think probably if you know the OFDC has invested in a film, as I say, because of its monitoring facilities, you have somewhat of an umbrella. Again, I am not quite sure of the terms of reference of the OFDC in actually policing other people's investments in a production, but it is certainly a more secure bet to go into an OFDC-type production than to go into a production where there is no OFDC involvement.
Mr Rosenbaum: Right. But the ones that do succeed, to the extent that OFDC has contractual agreements with the producers and in terms of payouts, before their final payout they have to provide a print and they have to show distribution agreements and they have to meet all kinds of preconditions before they get their moneys. Afterwards the OFDC has rights to determine what the payouts have been, as an investor, if you have an outside body like the OFDC looking into it, I think you are better protected than not having any outside body looking at the books.
Mr Grandmaître: With your vast experience and your interest in the arts, have you had a chance to compare Ontario's efforts in filmmaking and in the arts as compared to other provinces? Where would you say Ontario stands on a one to ten scale?
Mr Rosenbaum: I have never actively sat down to compare. I will give you what will be really an off-the-cuff response to your question. I think Quebec's film industry is probably the strongest because it is the most culturally cohesive and has been for a long time. It is probably the oldest provincial film industry, as such, in terms of its own identity.
Mr Rosenbaum: No, I do not. Certainly I think it is a sizeable budget and has been actively pursued by the Quebec government over the years. Quebec culture has been the mainstay of provincial politics in Quebec, and it shows in the product that has emerged. So I think that of all the provincial film industries, Quebec's is definitely the strongest in the sense that it has the strongest cultural identity and probably services its market the best. I think Quebeckers will go to see Quebec films and see themselves reflected in their films.
After that, Ontario and BC are probably neck and neck in second place in terms of locations. There are two sides to the film industry here. There is one of the Ontario film cultural productions and there is the other side of locations. Part of the OFDC is the locations department, where we try to encourage Americans and Europeans and the Far East to come and make their films in Toronto, northern Ontario, Ottawa or whatever as locations and thus generate greater revenues in the economy. In that sense, Ontario has been very successful. I think probably as a location finder, bringing outside companies to shoot in Ontario, it is probably number one.
Mr McLean: It is really for my information. I have a young individual in my area who is very musically inclined. He has written songs and he has done some tapes. Where would he go to get some funding to help him advance his career?
Mr Rosenbaum: I do not know. Maybe he could go to TVOntario or the CBC in terms of trying to get some backing for doing something related to television or radio access, but I do not know where he would get actual funding. I think the film industry is much larger. It does not involve one person, and that is the difference; it is a cultural industry.
The Chair: Members, the next two witnesses, Katherine Govier and Rosemary Cartwright, are unable to be here today and we are going to reschedule them for, hopefully, April 15. If we cannot get a meeting set up for that date, we are going to fall outside the standing order references with respect to the time we have to do a review, so they will automatically be passed through the system. But with the cooperation of the House leaders, hopefully we are going to have a meeting on the 15th so we can deal with those two appointments and others.
The Chair: At the first opportunity to defeat it, they let it go. There was a precedent-setting opportunity. That concludes our business for the day, unless there is anything any member wants to raise at this juncture.
Mr Ferguson: Mr Chair, this side of the room would just like to commend you on the fair and impartial manner in which you have conducted this meeting. We were thinking of chipping in and buying you a template that you could put on your desk in the House. It seems to have a somewhat calming effect on you.