The Chair (Mr Rosario Marchese): I call the meeting to order. We met yesterday and had a subcommittee meeting and we agreed on a number of things, so what I will do is read through the subcommittee report and then we'll discuss it.
"Cam Jackson, MPP; Priscilla de Villiers (Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Aimed at its Termination); Jennifer Raymond (Victims of Violence International Inc); Debbie Mahaffy (Canadians Against Pornography); Professor Irwin Waller; Scott Newark (Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime); Carole Cameron (Victims of Violence Inc); Trudy Don (Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses);" Patricia Herdman...Pat Marshall...Pauline Duffett...Mary Lou Fassel...Virginia Foster...Dr Gordon Hope; Patrick Brode...Trisha St Alban...;
"and that witnesses be allotted 35 minutes for their presentation; two hours of committee time be reserved for the purpose of writing a report; the committee commence consideration as soon as witnesses can be scheduled.
"1. That, assuming no public bills are referred to the committee, the committee will commence consideration of Bill 89 immediately following the completion of the standing order 125 designation on victims of crime.
"2. That individual caucuses will submit proposed witness lists to the clerk prior to the completion of consideration of the standing order 125 designation on victims of crime. These witnesses and any other witnesses that contact the clerk directly will, subject to final approval by the subcommittee, be scheduled to appear before the committee."
The Chair: Mr Winninger, the reason why we added, "The witness list may be changed by the subcommittee" -- it is something that can occur if people want to add to that list. If that is the case, if we have a few more people, we will reduce the witness time from 35 minutes to 30 or 25, depending on other names that could be submitted by other people.
The Chair: We've approved this. Once we've approved the whole thing, we will call these people who are on this list and once we have a number of them, we can begin as of next Monday. We anticipate that we can start with Monday.
Mr Duignan: It may take three or four weeks to get all these witnesses together to agree with them to a set of dates, and item 1 talks about Bill 89 will commence immediately following the completion of standing order 125. I was wondering how long that delay is going to be.
The Chair: The first item is 12 hours. Once we've completed that, we will move on to the next item. That's why we have the second motion here that deals with that. What it does is to prepare us for Bill 89. As soon as we get approval or as soon as we get the list of people who will want to speak in place, and if we can begin next Monday, we will do so. If not, we can begin Tuesday. If no one is available for either of those two days, we'll meet the following week.
Mr Harnick: Why do we have, in this budget, meal expenses, travel accommodation, travel and transportation if we don't know whether we're going anywhere? Is that just in anticipation of the fact that we might and we are obligated to put something in?
Clerk of the Committee (Ms Lisa Freedman): Yes, essentially what you'll notice is that on the second page, from simultaneous interpretation down, is essentially the base budget, which doesn't change. The first page is a guess, based on the past history of the justice committee, in terms of how long we will meet during the recess. The guess for this fiscal year would be six weeks over two recesses, including two weeks of travel. That's what the assumption is on the first page.
Mr Harnick: I don't have a problem, as long as I'm being told that this is merely something we have to go through because we have to submit something, but I'm not content to say that we're going to spend $208,000. What I want to clarify is, if we do end up travelling and if we do end up needing meal expenses and things of that nature, will we be sitting down and preparing a definitive budget, or is this just set at such a high rate that it can almost cover anything that we might anticipate we're going to do?
Clerk of the Committee: Essentially, there are two ways to go in preparing budgets. We have two options. One is to submit to the Board of Internal Economy simply a base budget of $43,000 and then once a bill or matter is referred to the committee for the recess, we then, once we determine how many weeks we want to sit, can go back to the board for the exact amount that we need. One problem with that is that we cannot advertise for groups, make any air reservations or hotel reservations until the board actually meets and approves the budget, and in the recesses, sometimes that doesn't happen all that quickly. Therefore, the other option is to predict, and predict so that we hope to cover the expenses that may be incurred. So it's one or the other.
The Chair: Yes. The intent of this budget is to allow for the different possibilities. The intent is not to spend that amount, but to give it some flexibility so that if we need to, we have it, but it is not our wish to spend the amount that's there.
Ms Harrington: Just to help the members, I would ask the Chair if he could ask the clerk to just give us the background of last year and the year before, because it certainly helped us in the subcommittee to understand why the budget is this way.
Clerk of the Committee: Two years ago the amount that was budgeted for the justice committee was approximately $389,000; last year the amount budgeted for the justice committee was approximately $310,000; and this year we're budgeting approximately $208,000.
Clerk of the Committee: Last year -- I'm just pulling out the figures -- we spent $67,000. We spent the base budget of $43,000 -- this committee did not travel during the recesses -- and the remaining difference between the $67,000 and $43,000 was members' per diems that were paid out for sitting during the recess. But this committee did not travel, whereas the year before the committee considered Sunday shopping and was on the road for three weeks and I would say spent about 80% or 85% of the budget.
Mr Chiarelli: I would like to move an amendment to the motion to approve the subcommittee budget by moving that the committee budget be further reduced by 15%, to $177,000. The reason for that is of the numbers that were just indicated for last year, for the year 1992, we actually spent $67,000. Even assuming that there's a reasonable amount of activity, there's still a cushion of $110,000. Notwithstanding that, if for some reason we should go over the $177,000, there's always the option to go back to the Board of Internal Economy. I would therefore move that the committee budget be further reduced by 15%, to $177,000.
Mr Chiarelli: It's not out of the air in the sense that if we spent $67,000 last year on the basis of a level of activity that was below the norm, if we anticipate that we would have a level of activity that is closer to the norm, I'm picking out of the air that the figure of $110,000 probably should be sufficient. Notwithstanding that, you always have the option to go back to the Board of Internal Economy to ask for additional funds.
Mr Chiarelli: Would you not agree that it might be reasonable to expect the budget this year at most to be about two and a half times what we spent last year, which would bring it to my reduced figure of about $177,000?
Mr Winninger: I was just going to say that everyone around the table is certainly keenly aware of the government's fiscal constraints and I think Mr Chiarelli's suggestion is a good one because it would exhibit sound fiscal management to the public.
Mr Harnick: May I offer an amendment which I hope will be a friendly amendment to Mr Chiarelli's motion? I would like to amend it by saying that the budget be frozen at $43,000 plus a reasonable allowance for advertising that we may have to do, and then any further expenditures we decide upon and then go to the Board of Internal Economy. I'm almost inclined to think that maybe we could even set an example in this committee by doing away with our per diems and be the first committee that sits without the necessity of per diems.
Mr Harnick: I don't want there to be too much consternation, so maybe we can ask Mr Chiarelli whether he would accept a friendly amendment to the budget being $43,000 plus an amount that the clerk can tell us would be necessary for her to have the ability to do the advertising on short notice without having to go back to the Board of Internal Economy.
Mr Chiarelli: I'm interested in doing what was suggested and showing some example of restraint, and I don't care how we get to that point. All I know is that in practice the justice committee last year spent $67,000 out of a budget of $310,000, and that I think shows restraint, but I don't think we should be going around allocating and asking to have set aside reserves of budgets which are way in excess of what we anticipate spending. So I would accept a friendly amendment, whether it's changing the budget to $80,000 or $90,000. We always have the option to go back to the Board of Internal Economy in any case if the committee is seized with additional bills or travel in the course of the session.
Mr Winninger: I have some concerns about Mr Harnick's friendly amendment in that I think if there is to be any policy change with regard to the payment of per diems, it should be done in the proper forum. Now, whether that's the House leaders, the Board of Internal Economy or whatever, I don't think it's up to this committee, even though it has some control over its budget, to be making precedent-setting rulings on whether per diems should be paid or not. I think that should be done in a more consistent and uniform manner in the appropriate forum, and I don't believe this is the forum to deal with it.
Mr Harnick: I've spoken with the clerk briefly, and the amount that she says would be the basic budget amount is $43,000 plus an additional $40,000 for advertising, which gives the opportunity to advertise on two occasions, so I hope my friend would accept a friendly amendment to set the budget at $83,000.
Mr Chiarelli: The friendly amendment -- basically, we're drafting the amendment as we talk. I would prefer to pick up another point of yours and I would suggest that the committee budget be set at $83,000 with a recommendation to the Board of Internal Economy for the right to discuss the elimination of per diems.
Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): I just want some clarification in that if we are on the road here and we sort of find ourselves in a financial bind, we're going back to the Board of Internal Economy. Sort of grind this committee to a halt while we get that, or will it be sort of ongoing? That really to me is crucial.
Clerk of the Committee: In terms of going to the Board of Internal Economy for a supplementary budget, there are two options. If the board's meeting, then it would be considered at a meeting. If not, there are provisions to walk a budget around to the board members to get them to sign off if they approve.
Mr Mills: Mr Chair, I'd just like to say that, given the experience of the clerk, I don't think why we sort of have to run around looking so -- with halos on our heads. If we don't use this money, it's not going to be spent; it's going to go back in. I don't see any difficulty with it. Rather than risk some delay when we've got witnesses lined up -- we're supposed to be going somewhere and we're running around trying to get a signature to see if we can go there. I don't think that makes really good common sense.
Mr Chiarelli: On that point I'd like to comment. I don't think it's an insignificant point. If the Board of Internal Economy receives a request from this committee that we might have to spend up to -- what is the budgeted amount?
Mr Chiarelli: If it's $208,000, it's got to make provision in its budget for the possibility of spending that amount of money. If, on the other hand, the likelihood is $80,000, it makes a big difference.
Now, it may not seem like a significant development if that were simply applied to the justice committee, but if every standing committee of the Legislature decided to eliminate its possible budget reserve, if I can call it that, by $150,000 or $200,000, then you're talking real money.
Ms Harrington: That was my concern as well, the same as Mr Mills's: Would it cause a problem of delay with regard to our committee? So I would like to ask the clerk again. If she would agree with this, I would certainly support it, because I believe we should make some appropriate restraint or step in that direction and it should have a rationale behind it, so that's why I would support this motion. It shows why we are getting to that figure instead of just pulling a figure out of the air. I have no problem with it as long as the clerk feels that this is quite okay.
Mr Harnick: In response to Mr Mills's comments, I think what tends to happen, if we have a global budget that is set high enough to accommodate any contingency, when the contingency arises, we then never have the opportunity to sit down and review the money that we actually need to spend. We merely say: "Well, it's in the budget. The budget's $208,000, therefore we can do it any way we want to do it."
I think the responsible course is to review the proposed expenditures at the time that we know they have to be made, to ensure that we're not spending money that happens to be in the budget, and we can spend some time finding out the best way to most economically proceed. That's why I can't agree with the comments of Mr Mills. I would tend to support the idea of an $83,000 budget, and if we have other expenditures that this committee needs to make, we review them on a case-by-case basis.
The motion is that the committee budget be set at $83,000, approximately, and that the Chair of the committee or the clerk of the committee be instructed to canvass with the Board of Internal Economy the appropriateness of our committee debating the elimination of per diems for members.
Mr Duignan: The question is that here we're setting policy around this. Is part of that motion as well that, for example, the legitimate expenses of members then will be assumed if the per diems are eliminated?
Mr Duignan: While I may be in favour of the $83,000 budget for the committee, Mr Chairman, I have a problem with the second part of that motion, that we may set policy in relation to ongoing discussions between the House leaders of the whole question of per diems and other matters relating to members' remuneration in this place.
Mr Chiarelli: The appropriateness of our dealing with it in this committee is what we're asking for. The Board of Internal Economy will say, "No, it's not appropriate for you to be discussing the per diems," or it will say, "Yes, you can." If it says, "Yes, you can," then we will entertain a discussion and a debate at the committee.
Mr Mills: I'm just wondering, Mr Chair, the bindingness of what we're saying here on other committees. The clerk goes to the appropriate authority and they say yes. Does that mean that it's just this committee that's operating like that? Is it binding on other committees?
Mr Chiarelli: This motion doesn't even make a decision on per diems. This motion simply says, "Is it appropriate for us to debate the elimination of per diems?" It doesn't say -- we're not even asking for approval of that.
The Chair: But, Mr Chiarelli, my sense is -- and the clerk might correct me -- if this is a motion, I'm not entirely certain that we need to get approval from the Board of Internal Economy as to whether we want to do that or not. If that's a motion of this committee, I presume that we could do that if we wanted to. If we don't, then we don't. I don't think that you need to refer it for approval to do that. I thought your original motion read that way, that we do this and then we debate whether -- that we remove the per diems is the way I thought I heard the original motion.
Mr Harnick: That was what I said. Mr Chiarelli didn't agree with that in so far as a friendly amendment to his original motion, and he in fact changed it to referring it to the Board of Internal Economy to see if it was appropriate for us. He didn't want to necessarily eliminate the per diems; he just wants to know whether the Board of Internal Economy thinks it's appropriate for us to debate it.
The Chair: Mr Harnick, my sense is that if this is what the committee wants to do, it can. We're debating it now. If you want to get rid of the per diems, you can. You should be reminded that if you as a member want to refuse it, you don't have to accept it.
Mr Chiarelli: By way of explanation, the issue was raised as to whether or not this is the proper forum to be discussing our per diems. I agree that that's a proper question and therefore it should be referred to the Board of Internal Economy, because in fact it probably has to be changed by motion in the House, by a resolution or a motion in the House.
Mr Duignan: A suggestion to the member is that maybe the committee could look at a motion of this nature directed to the Legislative Assembly committee, which basically looks after the standing orders and the benefits, remuneration etc of members. Maybe that's the forum that this type of debate should take place in.
Mr Winninger: I just want to be clear on what the resolution with the friendly amendment covers. Does it cover all of the expenditure items on the budget from advertising down to miscellaneous? And that equals approximately the amount that was cited by Mr Chiarelli.
Mr Chiarelli: I'll vote against the motion. The reason I will vote against the motion is that last year this committee spent $67,000 in its activities; the clerk has indicated the likelihood of having to spend $83,000, and any excess over $83,000 is a reserve fund which is not necessary at this time, particularly in view of the fact that at any time this committee can make an application to the Board of Internal Economy to have its budget increased for reasonable and necessary expenses. Just to repeat what was stated before, I don't think we should be allocating budget for which there is no perceived need at the present time.
The Chair: There's no debate on this. All in favour of the closure motion? Opposed? People who are here should vote. If you don't want to vote in favour of that and you want further changes, don't vote in favour of closure, if somebody wants to make a suggested change. All in favour of closure? Opposed? Okay, that was defeated. Any further discussion on that motion?
Mr Winninger: I wanted to suggest a friendly amendment to the motion along the lines of Mr Chiarelli's original recommendation, which was that we deduct 15% from the amount of the budget, and I so move.
Mr Hope: On a point of order: How can you vote on an amendment that was originally a motion? It's unparliamentary to do that. He's presented an amendment that was an original motion, which was then called for, which was voted down. You can't do that.