The Chair: I will call the meeting to order and invite the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation to come forward and make representation to the committee. I ask that you introduce yourselves. You have 30 minutes. You can use any or all of that time, although the committee would like to have some time to answer any questions and enter into discussion with you.
The Chair: It depends on how much talking there is as to how high the heat level gets, I have found. Could the clerk see if there is any way of turning down the temperature? It has been warm in the building; maybe it is just the season.
Mr Head: My name is Jim Head. I am the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. On my right is Larry French, our legislative researcher, who is bilingual. On my far right is Jean Louis Diamond, who is a principal from Prescott-Russell in continuing education and a member of OSSTF. On my left is Ray Connolly, in charge of French-language services with the OSSTF as a staff person. Ray, however, was president of Sudbury during the Bill 30 debates and subsequently, so he is new to staff, and I think both Jean Louis and Ray will add something to the Sudbury and Prescott-Russell considerations.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to make this submission. We are not going to read the whole thing. We are going to try to highlight sections of it, so I will not even go into the executive summary. I also want to thank the minister for being here at this early stage, something we are not quite used to; it is usually at the debating stage that we see the minister. I congratulate her on coming in so early.
Let me start on page 4 of our brief. You have had a chance to at least receive the brief of the French-language section of the Prescott-Russell County Board of Education. We are going to refer to it, but not in any depth or detail.
Section 2 of Bill 12 empowers the cabinet to establish school boards by regulation. OSSTF is committed to both English- and French-language public education. We have no difficulty in accepting the necessity of forming new French-language school boards where the local population so desires. However, we are concerned that the process of formation of boards be conducted with care and with continuous consultation to ensure that the viability of the new boards, as well as those from which they have sprung, is ensured.
We believe the minister intends to have a sunset clause on this legislation, and will assume that to be the case. However, if it is not, we would like to urge that. We will not bring any recommendation forward, but underline our support for some limitation on this extraordinary power. We suggest that there should be no need for its extension beyond the date of the tabling of the first report of the recently constituted French Language Education Governance Advisory Group.
The formation of French-language school boards by regulation as indicated in Bill 12 makes no explicit reference to a process of consultation with boards or other groups that are directly or indirectly affected by the creation of the new board or boards.
As you can see from the brief of the chairman of the French-language section of the Prescott-Russell public board, his group has serious concerns about the rapidity of the process of formation of a new board in his area. The French-language section of the public board is still struggling to find its feet two years after the Bill 30 extension that had left it in its present form. Now, it appears, another major change is in store. A serious consultation process is the minimum protection those potentially affected by decisions of this sort should be guaranteed. So we would make our first recommendation, for the record:
"(g) the process by which any board or employee group" -- and that is what I wish to stress -- "which may be affected directly or indirectly by the creation of a French-language school board is consulted prior to the creation of the new board."
Prescott-Russell is one of the areas where a new francophone board will be established. It is a sad but inescapable fact that the Prescott-Russell board of education is still struggling to cope with the aftermath of Bill 30 extension to the coterminous separate secondary school board. In good faith, the public board signed over five secondary schools through an en bloc transfer to the separate board. In return, the ministry pledged funding support for a new English-language secondary school in the western area of the county.
The pledge, unfortunately, has not been honoured. The $9-million capital allocation agreed to has not been forthcoming. The capital request has risen to $14 million this year, and the board has been given no indication that this request will be received any more favourably than the preceding one. In the meantime, public English-language students are sharing space in Plantagenet High School, an arrangement which, in the words of the chairperson of the Planning and Implementation Commission, PIC, is "fraught with difficulty," and will come to an end in June 1991.
Another dimension of the fiscal difficulty facing the board as a result of extension is a $500,000 debt, the subject of an emergency audit granted to the board by PIC that is now under way. Little wonder that the chairperson of the public board has been forced to threaten to tear up the extension agreement and demand the return of the five schools previously transferred. That takes us to our recommendation 2: That prior to the formation of any new board in the Prescott-Russell area, all financial commitments, including those pertaining to the construction of a new school in the western area of the county, made by the Ministry of Education to the Prescott-Russell County Board of Education in the memorandum of agreement of 25 May 1988, be honoured.
Sudbury: In the period just prior to the passing of Bill 30, relations between the two school boards, the Sudbury Board of Education and the Sudbury District Roman Catholic Separate School Board, became quite strained. The separate board, which at the time was predominantly francophone, believed that it had a right to all of the French-language high schools in the Sudbury area as a large majority of the parents of students in French-language public schools paid separate school taxes. As all francophone primary schools in the area at the time were separate, parents were forced to pay separate taxes to obtain French-language education whether or not they were committed to Roman Catholic separate education.
As well as a completely functional separate school board with both English- and French-language panels, there existed in Sudbury two sectors within the public board. The division here was between trustees elected by public and separate ratepayers; the latter were francophone.
What makes this latter endeavour so difficult is the fact that the feeder schools of all of the French-language public high schools and also of many of the English-language high schools in the Sudbury area were, and to a great degree still are, primary separate schools. Despite strong petitions to the provincial government and representations to PIC, access to the grade 8 students by guidance counsellors of the public board to students in the separate feeder schools is still denied. The public board, on the other hand, has shown a willingness to permit reciprocal access to public primary schools.
The competition between opposing interests, both linguistic and religious, with all the permutations and combinations possible in a multicultural area like Sudbury, is fostering division, disrespect and animosity within the educational community, within the religious community and within the community at large. The divisiveness created as the result of Bill 30 is felt sorely in the community of Rayside. The struggle between the two boards, which became intense after Bill 30, is centred here although the strife may engulf the entire Sudbury community and provoke serious and public linguistic and, to some degree, religious bickering. Much of the difficulty the area is facing has to do with the manner in which Bill 30 was implemented. The new government and opposition parties now have an opportunity and a responsibility to try to bring about a resolution to problems caused by a law whose passage all provincial parties supported.
Rayside: Prior to Bill 30, École secondaire Rayside was the single high school serving the community of Rayside-Balfour, as well as the francophone communities situated in Chelmsford and Azilda. The students came from a number of separate elementary feeder schools. Enrolment at the high school has reached a critical point. There are presently 29 students in grade 9, 41 in grade 10, 146 in grade 12 and 33 in grade 13. With grades 7 and 8 and the 69 adults recently brought into the school, the enrolment is 425. After next year's graduation, the situation will be bleak. The francophone trustees of the Sudbury board want autonomy. They would also like to create a regional, public, francophone board which would encompass many of the small school boards to which they already provide supervisory service.
The resolution of the problems facing Rayside in particular, and French-language public education in the Sudbury basin in general, obviously surpasses the abilities of the local boards. The good offices of the minister and the resources provided by the senior level of government are urgently needed to ensure that public francophone education survives in the area.
We remind members of the social development committee of the obligations incumbent on all parties, and in particular on the Legislature, to ensure that public education survives while separate education is extended. Then Minister of Education Sean Conway articulated the six principles underlying the extension of public funding to Roman Catholic secondary schools when he introduced Bill 30 in 1985.
The first principle is the need to protect the viability of the public secondary school system. This was enshrined in six guidelines. I just point out three: (a), (b) and (c). The criteria must permit the Roman Catholic school board to provide viable secondary school education. It, however, must promote the best interests of public education in Ontario and must ensure the viability of the secondary school programs offered by the public board, especially in single-secondary-school communities.
We have included the six principles as well as the PIC guidelines as appendices B and C. In light of them, we expect that as much care must be taken to ensure the continued viability of the public system that has been left behind as is taken to ensure the successful establishment of the new board. It is in that spirit that the following recommendations are made. I will read them for the record.
Recommendation 3: That the Minister of Education, through her ministry, assure the continued existence of École secondaire Rayside as the public school to provide education for those members of the Rayside-Balfour community who choose not to send their children to a denominational school.
Recommendation 4: That the Minister of Education, through her ministry, provide the funding necessary to assure the provision of an attractive range of options so that Rayside can continue to draw students.
Recommendation 5: That the Minister of Education, through her ministry, halt the extension of École Champlain beyond grade 10 until such time as it can be established that the community of Rayside-Balfour can reasonably support the existence of two high schools. And I think with the enrolment there you can see that is not a possibility right now.
Recommendation 7: That the Minister of Education establish mechanisms and direct funding from the province to assure that teachers, teachers with positions of responsibility and administrative personnel do not suffer financially or in pensions or in working conditions, such as administrative periods for major heads of departments, as a result of the expansion of École Champlain.
Section 5 of Bill 12 allows Roman Catholic school boards to extend and to receive funding through all grades at one time if the boards purchase the service by means of an agreement with another board. Despite the fact that the protection implicit in the PIC process remains intact for this type of extension, OSSTF has serious concerns about this carte blanche access to extension being granted to any board. If extension occurs, the public board at one swoop loses access to the assessment that was attached to those students for whom education is now being purchased. Because of the realities of the funding of local education -- or, more accurately, the underfunding of local education, as we termed it in the recent election campaign -- any loss of assessment carries with it a significant concomitant financial penalty for the board undergoing the loss. The burden of over-the-ceiling expenditure, which has increased every year since 1975, falls heavier on the taxpayers who remain as the assessment base has shrunk.
In this way, as with the pooling of commercial and industrial assessment, unless matching compensation is guaranteed, public boards will once again be forced to subsidize separate education. This, we maintain, is an unacceptable consequence of Bill 30 and must not be allowed to happen. If public boards do lose assessment in this way, there is a moral obligation on the government to compensate them.
Section 22 of the bill gives retroactive permission to the Haldimand-Norfolk separate board to extend in such a manner as outlined above through purchase of service. We understand that the Haldimand-Norfolk board will purchase service from neighbouring separate boards in Brant county and in Hamilton-Wentworth. We oppose the ratification of this process, especially in context of a bill where this action is the precedent for other separate boards to extend in the same way through purchase. This is not an economically justifiable or even viable method of offering this service. Buses will transport students out of Haldimand-Norfolk counties past in-county public secondary schools well able to meet the needs of local separate students. This is a wasteful process, and at the same time strips away potential students from the public secondary system whose numbers would help keep programs more economically viable and even in existence.
We remind members of the committee of the result of the Provincial Auditor's audit of the York County separate board. He discovered an annual overexpenditure in the area of transportation costs within the board of $1 million because of generous policies and system inefficiencies. Is this the sort of inefficiency the new purchase-of-service approval is building into the Haldimand-Norfolk system?
Conclusions: The problems we have raised in relation to the extension of funding to separate secondary schools and the extension of access by our francophone population to education suited to its needs do have a potential solution. OSSTF recommended to the previous Treasurer -- without success, I might add -- that he offer incentive funding to encourage public, separate and francophone boards to share services. We feel, despite this rebuff, that it is now opportune to consider the concept of the unified or co-operative school board. I might say, coming just recently from Newfoundland, that is certainly the model they are working towards, a system that was very highly denominational at one stage.
As a first step in this time of pressure on fiscal resources at all levels of government, the co-operative school board offers compelling advantages. Such co-operation would provide an appropriate introductory phase preceding a unified school board.
OSSTF joined with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association during the recent election campaign in a joint press statement calling for improved funding to elementary and secondary education in Ontario. This cooperation was a breakthrough, and we hope marked a turning point in the relationship of the two federations after the strain that Bill 30 had imposed. Both federations look forward to fulfilment of the pledge to offer 60% funding, made by the government.
In its response to the Provincial Auditor's report, the Ministry of Education replied: "The ministry endorses the concept of school boards sharing resources and will continue to promote co-operation and sharing among boards. The ministry will communicate its support in a memo to school boards on this and other issues raised by the Provincial Auditor."
While the production of a memo is encouraging, OSSTF feels that the real commitment to a policy must be reflected in any organization's budgetary priorities. Until the minister and the Treasurer combine to make it worth while financially for boards to co-operate, justifications will continue to be found not to do so.
I will stop at that. We do believe there is a growing desire for more co-operation, more unity in Canada. Surely to goodness we know that at this time more than any other we need it. So I would finish with recommendation 10 on page 18:
That the Minister of Education initiate discussions with all the major stakeholders in education with a view to creating unified school boards which will ensure continued provision of educational services, including those offered on an open-access, non-denominational basis by public school boards, and those required by the Constitution of Canada for francophone and Roman Catholic citizens of Ontario.
Mr Beer: I just want to be clear on a couple of things. Having had some knowledge of those situations and having over a period of time worked with people there, I think that on the comments you make around Prescott-Russell and Sudbury, there is no question that there are a number of issues that are not necessarily directly related to the proposed legislation, but where actions by government with respect to the kind of consultation that is done, the kind of funding that is provided, would certainly assist in working through some of those issues. I think we always need to be aware of that, whatever the process is that is set up.
One is, first of all, the power of regulation. I think both in the House and in committee yesterday in our discussions around that there was agreement by everyone that we recognize some of the problems around the regulatory power and that the government would be prepared to bring in an amendment. We talked about perhaps the more ideal situation, which would be to move by way of legislation when new boards are created. But my sense is that I think we can find an amendment that would meet the issue that you and others have raised.
With respect to extension and the question of purchase of service, I am wondering if the problem you raise here might also be met by clarifying, if that is the word, the role of PIC, the Planning and Implementation Commission. It seemed that in part at least the issue raised yesterday by the Ontario Public School Boards' Association was in making sure that everything had been examined, that there could not be a kind of unilateral extension which would have perhaps severe financial implications for the public board.
Can you see that there might be a way for us to work through that one, which would, I suppose, recognize, flowing from Bill 30, that as to the right of those Roman Catholic school boards that had not extended, that right is indeed open to them, but there be a process in place which would ensure that we recognize the implications of the extension of that right on the public boards, and that would have to go through a very full Planning and Implementation Commission hearing so that all of the various issues, facts and so on would be brought to light?
Mr Head: Perhaps I could just make two comments on each of your points. First of all, we understand why the minister might want to use regulation with the varieties of boards that may be coming forward under this process. As long as there is fair consultation, whether it be through legislation or through the regulation, we would be satisfied. Our experience, though, which leads me into your second point, has been that quite often PIC chose to only speak to the boards, and often in camera.
We certainly had that experience in Kapuskasing, where we had to go up and help our teachers bring to public opinion what was going on. The public and the teachers and employees of the board were left quite out of the process, and the particular person involved had a track record of that kind of approach. So the consultation for us is most important, as I am sure it is for the government.
To the presenter, you mention a number of concerns in here about the extension of the French-language board at Prescott-Russell. I was wondering what your comments would be with regard to the establishment of a similar board in Simcoe county, which is one of the areas I represent. Second, I guess, or along the same line, is the cost of implementation of such a board and its impact on the public school board.
Mr French: We have participated in the debate on the future of French-language education in the Penetanguishene area. I think our principle is that we support the French-language communities in their aspirations to have their own governance, if the protections for the boards that remain are there and the French community is able to choose on an option in which, for purposes, I guess, of unanimity or whatever, everybody is forced into the same mould. I know the French community in Penetanguishene is split on the mode of education it would prefer to see at this point. If the process that forms the board is able to reflect the needs of these francophone parents, both public and separate, I think we would support the formation of the board.
One comment on the PIC process, on Mr Beer's comment that we made the point to the minister and she did not quite agree with us. There is a sense we have at times that the PIC process is more zealous in making sure that the implementation occurs successfully and that the process works in that direction, rather than making sure that what is left behind is going to be okay, is going to be viable. We wonder what would happen in the formation of new boards, or at least extension through purchase for new boards, without financial protections that would be guaranteed. It would be the same case in Simcoe county.
Mr Diamond: For Prescott-Russell at this time, the section de langue française is not ready. We just went through a divorce. It was painful, and we do not say, "No, we say it is not the time right now to have the homogeneous francophone board in our region."
Mr Martin: I want right in the beginning to say to you that certainly we share the sense you presented here so clearly that the whole situation, particularly in Sudbury and Prescott-Russell, is a bit of a mess. Certainly it is recognized that this whole process of Bill 30 and francophone rights is a new phenomenon on the horizon that we are trying to work out. I think it only logical that we would expect that there would be some need to shift some stuff around and make sure that we do it right and that there be a process put in place to speak to doing it right. There is that reality.
There is also the reality of our being up against the possibility of court action and being forced to do things that maybe we do not want to do, because of court action. I think we are here right now because there is that possibility and because of a court action back in 1986, the Mahé case.
I think it is the feeling of the ministry that we would prefer to do it without court action. I think that means that we move quickly. But I do not think there is anywhere in the bill that we presented the desire not to consult. It is just that we want to consult in a time that speaks to getting on with it so that we do not end up in the courts and having to do things that we do not want to do.
Mr Head: We certainly understand the motivation for the quickness of the bill and we have no problem with that. We support the trustee elections within that context. But I can simply tell you -- and I do not believe it is this particular government's fault -- that this is the fastest brief we have ever produced in our history. I hope that this is only an anomaly and that the future consultation will be a much longer process, with our having a chance to think out and think through some of the legislation. I am not trying to find fault. I understand the motivation, but I think process is really germane to anything we do.
Mrs McLeod: I will be very specific. I am a little bit confused about a seeming inconsistency. I appreciate the speed with which the brief was prepared, but in your discussion about the potential advantages of a unified school board you do talk about the avoidance of duplication, particularly in high-cost programs, through purchase of service in areas such as technological education. Recognizing that has some advantages -- although I recognize the unified school board is not a shared vision in many quarters -- the recommendation not to consider looking at extension of purchase as an option, for example in Haldimand-Norfolk and by extension then into northern areas, confuses me a bit. You have mentioned the lack of consultation and the way in which PIC consults.
The public boards yesterday gave us some indication that with a full review at an early stage by the Planning and Implementation Commission they felt there was some merit in extension through purchase of service. Could you be just a little more specific as to whether you see a way in which that could be made to work and have the advantages you outline later?
Mr Head: What we are concerned about is the particular Haldimand-Norfolk situation whereby the purchase is going as far as Hamilton-Wentworth when we think the service is already in either Haldimand or Norfolk. So we are not opposed to the purchase of service for either board. That works quite well and it has been in the legislation for a while. It is the extent of where that purchase is going.
Mr French: One would hope that the PIC process would take all the safeguards into account, but we have one real concern at present that we mentioned about the PIC process. The employee groups are excluded unless the boards decide to bring them in. I have the honour to sit beside Jean Louis. It is a miracle this gentleman has a job. The federations and so on could not participate in the discussions upon which his fate was established. They still cannot.
We think the little amendment we are promoting that gives the minister the right to make a regulation that allows for consultation, which allows it for employee groups, is one of the great safeguards that would be universal. No matter what the PIC debate, and whether it is extension through purchase of service or extension grade by grade, the formation of a new board, if the employee groups are consulted, then I think a lot of the difficulties that our francophone members have faced -- Mr Connolly knows the situation well in Sudbury where a lot of people are hanging by their fingertips. This would be very helpful, that kind of consultation.
Hon Mrs Boyd: Just in terms of the PIC process, that again is something we inherited. The PIC process has been gone through thoroughly in Haldimand-Norfolk. I understand your objection to the process and certainly take that under advisement, but in the circumstance of Haldimand-Norfolk, that process has been gone through, there has been an agreement reached among the boards. I do not feel at all that this is any reason for us as a government to delay implementation of an agreement that has been reached under the existing regulations.
The Chair: We will move on to the Ottawa-Carleton French-Language School Board. Bienvenue. Would you introduce yourselves. You have 30 minutes for your presentation. I hope you will leave some time so the committee can ask some questions. Perhaps you would like to begin.
M. Ferrand: Je voudrais présenter Raymond Jubainville, surintendant, gestion des affaires du Conseil des écoles publiques d'Ottawa-Carleton ou, pour qui le préfere, section publique du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton. Je suis Yvon Ferrand, le président du Conseil des écoles publiques d'Ottawa-Carleton.
Permettez-moi, tout d'abord, de vous remercier de nous avoir accordé cette occasion de vous présenter ce mémoire. Vous comprendrez aussi que notre présentation sera brève, étant donné que nous n'avons reçu confirmation de notre parution que hier après-midi.
Nous avons fait une analyse préliminaire des projets de loi 12 et 13. Nous n'avons aucune objection aux dispositions du projet de loi 13, mais nous accueillons toutefois le projet de loi 12 avec des émotions partagées. Heureux que le gouvernement veuille agir dans le dossier de l'autogestion des conseils scolaires par les francophones, nous sommes néanmoins préoccupés par la dérogation au processus législatif et les abus possibles de pouvoir dans un futur rapproché ou éloigné.
Pouvoirs accordés au lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil. Le projet de loi 12 accorde des pouvoirs très vastes au lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil dans la mise sur pied de conseils scolaires de langue française. Comme francophones, nous ne pouvons qu'applaudir des mécanismes qui permettront d'accélérer ce dossier qui a été surétudié. Mais à titre de citoyennes et citoyens et à titre de représentantes et représentants élus de citoyens francophones, nous sommes préoccupés du fait que l'approche proposée émiette les possibilités concrètes de représentation et de consultation qui découlent normalement du processus législatif. Les francophones du secteur public sont un groupe minoritaire au sein d'un groupe minoritaire et sont conséquemment très conscients de leur dépendance sur les pouvoirs en place, et d'autant plus nerveux de voir le lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil s'approprier des pouvoirs aussi vastes.
À titre d'exemple, si ce projet de loi était en place, nous ne pourrions pas vous adresser la parole aujourd'hui. Nous ne serions qu'avisés des changements effectués. Si nous comprenons bien, les dispositions prévues aux nouveaux alinéas (11b)j) et (11b)k) permettraient au lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil, lors de la création de conseils scolaires francophones en province, d'abolir un conseil scolaire ou une section d'un tel conseil. Donc, nous pourrions recevoir dans quelques semaines un avis d'un règlement qui prévoit la dissolution de la section publique ou de la section catholique du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton.
De même, le Conseil d'éducation de Carleton pourrait être avisé, par voie de réglementation, qu'il est dissous et qu'un nouveau conseil est établi à sa place ou simplement que ses biens sont modifiés ou transférés au Conseil des écoles catholiques romaines de Carleton. Voilà une façon expéditive de résoudre les problèmes de transfert de biens découlant de la Loi 30 de 1986.
Nous sommes confiants que le gouvernement n'agirait pas ainsi avec les conseils de l'est de l'Ontario. Lorsque nous sommes minoritaires, il est plus facile pour un gouvernement de modifier notre statut puisque nous n'avons pas les mêmes recours politiques. Par exemple, nous nous interrogeons sur le recours politique qu'auront les contribuables du secteur public francophone dans Prescott-Russell si le gouvernement procède à la création d'un conseil scolaire catholique francophone dans cette région. Par la Loi 30, le gouvernement a permis le transfert de toutes les écoles secondaires francophones de l'est de l'Ontario au secteur catholique, laissant ainsi les contribuables publics francophones de Prescott-Russell sans école secondaire. Et quel recours politique aurons-nous puisque le projet de loi 12 accorde au lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil le pouvoir d'altérer toute la structure du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton ? La Loi de 1988 sur la création du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton, la Loi 109, doit être modifiée, mais serons-nous consultés ou seulement avisés des modifications ?
Nous croyons pouvoir faire confiance aux intentions du gouvernement en place qui, de toute évidence, désire accélérer le dossier de la création de conseils scolaires de langue française, mais ce gouvernement sera-t-il toujours en place ? Ce gouvernement connaît-il les besoins des francophones du secteur public ? Ces priorités politiques changeront-elles ? Pourra-t-il résister aux groupes de pression majoritaires dans l'élaboration des règlements ? Aura-t-il l'occasion d'entendre les représentants des groupes minoritaires au sein des minorités ?
Ayant vécu la mise sur pied du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton, nous savons qu'un gouvernement est parfois difficile à rejoindre. Depuis quatre ans, les représentants des francophones du secteur public ont soulevé la question du financement inadéquat de la section publique du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton.
Après quatre ans, Ie bureau régional du ministère de l'Éducation nous a enfin rencontrés pour nous dire, en quelques mots, que c'est notre responsabilité de résoudre le problème du sous-financement prévu par la loi de 1988. C'est à nous de réduire le niveau des services offerts aux francophones du secteur public car nous sommes sous-financés. C'est à nous de résoudre le manque de place-élèves pour répondre aux besoins d'un système en expansion rapide -- entre autres, une augmentation de tout près de 2165 % en 10 ans au palier élémentaire -- malgré notre déficit important.
Nous pourrions vous faire part de multiples problèmes associés à la création du Conseil scolaire de langue française à Ottawa-Carleton, mais cela n'est pas notre objectif aujourd'hui. Nous voulons simplement exprimer une mise en garde d'accorder des pouvoirs aussi vastes au lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil sans quelques mécanismes concrets de représentation pour les groupes minoritaires. Si l'objectif est d'agir rapidement dans certains dossiers urgents, ne serait-il pas sain alors d'inclure une clause limitant ces pouvoirs dans le temps ?
Répartition des conseillers et conseillères scolaires. En le percevant comme une première étape en termes d'équilibre, nous appuyons les modifications apportées par le projet de loi au calcul de la répartition des conseillers et conseillères au sein des conseils scolaires qui ont une section de langue française, en utilisant une base proportionnelle aux effectifs scolaires. En décembre 1989, lors des dépôts des projets de loi 64 et 65, nous avons d'ailleurs présenté devant ce même comité une argumentation semblable pour que la répartition des taxes résidentielles et commerciales s'effectue sur une base proportionnelle aux effectifs scolaires.
Nous ne pouvons qu'espérer que le gouvernement poursuivra sa réflexion en ce sens lorsqu'il reverra les méthodes de taxation en fonction de la Charte des droits et libertés et des jugements de la Cour suprême. Puisque la Loi de 1988 sur la création du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton miroite la Loi sur l'éducation dans la répartition des conseillers et conseillères scolaires, nous présumons que le même mécanisme s'appliquera à Ottawa-Carleton. Nous soulignons que la répartition des pouvoirs et des domaines de compétence de chaque section du Conseil scolaire de langue française est très différente de celle des conseils scolaires ayant des sections de langue française.
Dans ce contexte, le gouvernement aurait eu avantage à reconsidérer la répartition des conseillers scolaires au sein de notre conseil afin de refléter la structure particulière du Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton. Une répartition égale de conseillers scolaires de chaque section pour siéger au conseil plénier permettrait possiblement de créer un climat plus propice au partage des compétences entre les deux sections et le conseil plénier.
Nous vous remercions de cette occasion de vous présenter nos préoccupations relatives aux projets de loi 12 et 13. Nous sommes disposés à répondre à vos questions dans le temps qui est laissé à notre disposition.
1. Le droit de propriété. À notre conseil, aux écoles publiques, c'est la question que l'on se pose et que l'on pose aux experts en droit, autant du conseil plénier que des sections. Qui est le propriétaire ou qui sont les propriétaires ? Est-ce que c'est le plénier ou est-ce que c'est la section ? Le plénier semble en avoir la possession et la section le contrôle. Ce n'est pas clair et on a beaucoup de difficultés avec ça.
3. L'accès universel: l'accès aux écoles et l'exigence d'en être un contribuable. Je voudrais souligner ici le fait que nous pourrions avoir un minimum de huit contribuables au secteur public, c'est-à-dire les huit élus. Ce seraient les seuls contribuables aux écoles publiques. Par contre, on pourrait avoir 1000, 2000 ou 3000 élèves. L'accès universel permet justement à ce que tout le monde vienne dans nos écoles même s'ils n'en sont pas contribuables.
4. Le financement -- ou le sous-financement. Vous n'êtes pas sans savoir que nous avons une dette qui s'élève à tout près de dix millions de dollars actuellement et nous n'avons que deux années derrière nous.
6. Un trésorier commun. C'est-à-dire, vous avez un trésorier qui répond aux besoins du conseil plénier et aux besoins des sections -- le même employé du plénier sous l'autorité d'un autre directeur. C'est une situation assez cocasse. Comment le gouvernement de l'Ontario fonctionnerait-il si son Trésorier était un employé du fédéral -- par exemple, le ministre des Finances ? Nous, on vit cette situation-là, le concept de trois employeurs et les problèmes relatifs à la loi sur les relations de travail, à la Loi sur l'équité salariale, à la Loi sur la négociation collective entre conseils scolaires et enseignants.
8. Le refus du ministère de l'Éducation de reconnaître la structure élaborée du conseil et la compétence exclusive des sections. On nous dit tout le temps que nous, comme francophones, on doit négocier avec la section catholique. Ça crée une situation assez spéciale. On n'a pas du tout les mêmes exigences pour les conseils anglophones.
9. L'inégalité de représentation politique au plénier. Ça crée une situation où il est très difficile de favoriser la mise en commun entre les deux sections. Lorsque vous mettez des choses en commun à ce moment-là, c'est un vote majoritaire. Donc, une représentation de quatorze au secteur catholique et huit au public crée une situation qui ne favorisera probablement pas ou très peu la mise en commun de services, bien qu'on ait réussi à en mettre quatre dans des conditions assez spéciales.
10. La résolution de conflits par la Commission des langues d'enseignement de l'Ontario. Il n'y a aucune garantie que les contribuables publics ne seront représentés et pour nous c'est une faiblesse majeure au sein de cette commission.
11. Le transfert des biens non résolus après trois ans. On en est à notre troisième année et on n'a toujours pas conclu dans la totalité les transferts de biens entre les conseils existarts et les nouvelles sections du Conseil scolaire de langue française.
J'aurais aussi une question que je voudrais poser à monsieur le Président. L'article 2 du projet de loi 12 permet au lieutenant-gouverneur en conseil d'émettre des règlements pour modifier ou changer l'application des dispositions de la Loi sur l'éducation, de la Loi sur l'évaluation foncière et de la Loi sur les élections municipales. Aura-t-il aussi l'autorité de modifier ou d'exclure l'application des dispositions de la Loi de 1988 sur le Conseil scolaire de langue française d'Ottawa-Carleton, sur la Loi de 1987 sur l'équité salariale et sur la Loi sur les relations de travail ?
Mrs Cunningham: You have absolutely baffled my mind. I mean, there are so many problems that you have raised. We have people coming before this committee telling us that we are not moving quickly enough in the establishment of school boards. Some of us are sitting here feeling guilty because we are being accused of not supporting minority-language rights. This committee has some work to do here. We are trying to get good information and good advice. You can imagine my dilemma in even looking at the questions you have asked. You do not have some of the answers. There were at least three questions out of that last group that perhaps the minister is considering, or the minister's staff. I am just wondering if anybody is going to respond before I start asking questions. I think it is fair that they do that first.
Hon Mrs Boyd: I would like to comment. I think the kinds of problems that the speaker outlines with the Ottawa-Carleton French-language board signify very clearly to the opposition why we did not want to simply mirror that act. There are real problems with the act that created those boards. Both sections of the boards are identifying very serious problems with that act and certainly the ministry knows that whole situation will need to be revisited. There is just no question about that.
The issue we are dealing with right now I see as being a somewhat different one. That is a very complex issue to deal with because of the effort to have a unified board, one of the real concerns that we have had in trying to meet the needs of the francophone populations that have indicated they are ready to form French-speaking services and governance for themselves. And they have the right to do that, especially with the weight of the Mahé decision behind them.
With Bill 12 we are trying to find a way to allow that to happen in as few boards as possible, as we have indicated before in these hearings, while all these issues are being looked at by the French Language Education Governance Advisory Group. It is certainly our hope that with the study and the work of that committee, which will be done using consultation with groups that have already formed, with groups that have aspirations to form, with groups in communities that do not want francophone boards to split off from public boards or from Catholic boards, we will then be able to come together and have a thorough discussion of all the issues that are required in order to put French-language governance into a context that is going to be reasonable for all of us. In the meantime, we are putting this bill forward in an attempt to avoid a court-mandated situation. We are in danger of having that.
So we are in no way denying the issues and the problems that have been raised by the speaker but would say that those could only be complicated if we were not to take leadership at this time and allow French-language governance to be mandated by the courts, as opposed to negotiated within the communities concerned.
Mr Ferrand: If I may comment on the minister's comment, first of all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to raise some comments or add to this, Madam Minister. I have to admit this is the first time I have met with the Minister of Education. I have only been elected for two and a half years. We happen to be the first French board ever created and we are the only one, as far as I am concerned. We have had the chance to meet on many occasions with Mr Beer, and it was appreciated, but never with the Minister of Education. We would have made the Minister of Education aware of a lot of the problems.
A lot of the solutions that we would propose remain within our own pile of paper, because we did provide the minister with a copy of whatever reports we produce, but we could never discuss it. But some of the solutions for Prescott-Russell might be within the Ottawa-Carleton/Prescott-Russell combination. The cost of operating a school board in itself, within a structure that would need to be modified, may be within a concept that is similar to what is proposed under Bill 109.
You talk about a regional concept school board, and you do not create many school boards but maybe a bigger one with a better structure, and you remain within a philosophy, making things easier to administer within the whole group. Everybody sitting at a table at least has the same philosophy, which eliminates a major difficulty.
Financing is a main problem that we have had. We are at $10 million with a line of credit of about $15 million. Will I have to take you to court to get things moving? If I understand the reason why things are going to move faster, it is because somebody threatened to go to court or said, "Move." I am only referring to what I have heard, and I do not think it is the way to do things, but we are looking forward to sitting down with you. I would gladly go home with a date for a meeting with the Minister of Education.
I appreciate the fact that you said you are open to studying and looking at our problem and probably helping us solve it. The first problem that we need to solve is that your representative from la régionale in Ottawa has served us a letter saying that within the next three months we need to come up with a plan that would be viable and acceptable for the $10-million shortage, at a rate of increase for tax of 1%, bring in $55,000 for every 1%. I do not think I could come up with a plan, so I will need your help very badly.
Hon Mrs Boyd: I do not think this is the forum to discuss the financial issues that are being faced by your board. The letter you got is one that any board that is in deficit gets automatically, as you are well aware. It is against the Education Act for a board to deliberately deficit finance, and we need to have a discussion in a very different context around that. This was not the occasion for discussing your financial issues in this way.
Mr Ferrand: I appreciate your comment. I certainly did not do that deliberately. I am a newcomer in this game and doing my best, as I have in the last two years. But if you suggest another place, please, I will take your advice.
Mrs Cunningham: First of all, just to let everybody feel very comfortable, I was always hoping that when I was elected to this Legislative Assembly, some of us would be allowed to think out loud. We asked for people to come before this committee today for the best advice we could get, so if we get into our own problems some days, I believe it is because that is what we know best. I would think, and I think the minister would agree, that you are probably one of the best advisers she could probably seek in moving in the direction of establishing more French-language school boards, because that is where in fact one does go by trial and error in the very beginning. I think basically that your apologies are not necessary and that we appreciate your frankness. I myself make lots of mistakes in public and I am supposed to be an MPP, so I make no apologies for it.
I would just say this: I am sorry, but I was having some difficulty with this. In the very beginning, your concern was around the question of whether it would be appropriate for this legislation to proceed separate from having a bill for each school board. When I say bill, I am talking about legislation so that it cannot be changed unilaterally by the minister or by an order in council, etc. I am not right on the technicalities, and I make no apologies for that, either; I am moving too quickly these days. I will say that I prefer the bill to come in individually.
At the same time I will say to the members of the government that we did support the minister in her efforts to get things started. We still prefer individual bills for each board and in fact that may be what will happen once the commission that is looking at the work, trying to get input from the minister -- I believe that still might be a possibility. I believe I am right in saying that the government has said it is going to provide a sunset amendment for the two boards we are mentioning, which means no more established by regulation. I am not assuming; I read it. Am I correct on that, Mr Chairman?
Mrs Cunningham: We had a draft from the minister. But having said those things, you seem to feel rather strongly about a bill such as you have yourself and further amendments. I am wondering if you could just say that in another way or help me with what I think you said because of my difficulties here.
We are not against Bill 109; we think it is a good bill, the basic is there. There are needs to make major changes to the bill which would simplify life for all, including Catholic section and public section. The concept of a three-head school board is a difficult one to operate, because the middle head, being the conseil plénier, has authority only on maintenance of buildings. The two sections are fully autonomous as far as education is concerned, but for some reason nobody wants to recognize that we are a true school board in that sense. People have difficulty with that; they want to deal with the conseil plénier as if that was the conseil scolaire de langue française, the school board. That obviously adds to a problem related to financing, because there is a cost attached to this.
Having said that, we are supportive of other school boards being created but not at the cost and trouble that our school board has lived through and will continue to live through until the government helps us settle our problems or our difficulties.
The Vice-Chair: I want to take this opportunity to remind members that we do have a few minutes left. I have three more speakers on the list. I will proceed on your advice to extend the time, but I remind you that we do have to come back and deal with clause-by-clause consideration.
Mr J. Wilson: I think, too, that the financial issues are important and I would ask that you certainly not make any apologies to this committee for bringing them up. I understand where the minister is coming from on that, but I think it is important, and it is the point I brought up yesterday, that prior to the establishment of new French-language boards, particularly in Simcoe county, where ratepayers are very much worried about increased taxes that may or may not come as a result -- we do not know at this point what the government's commitment to financing of new boards will be; we have not heard from the minister. Frankly, I appreciate your comments, because I am disappointed. In tough economic times -- in any economic times -- it is an integral part of the discussion, and it would be foolish for this government to ignore those realities. So I appreciate that. We are told in answers to these questions by other witnesses and by the minister that there are different models set up. Well, that is wonderful phraseology, but it does not answer my questions.
Second, we are told that the advisory board will look into these things. In the meantime, we also have the minister moving ahead with a commitment to enter into discussions to create two new boards. So we find it all very confusing. I also appreciate your comments on the fact that this is all very rushed. I think we need to take a step back and review this. Sorry, that is more of a comment than a question.
Mr Beer: Either that or a very quick comment. I think one of the important things you have done today, and others have commented on it, is that it is difficult to move to create school boards. Having sat on the committee that brought into being Bill 109, or at least looked at Bill 109 and then brought that forward, I think we recognized then, as you mentioned before in numerous discussions I had with you over a period of time on some of the problems that emerged, some of which perhaps were foreseen, some which perhaps we hoped against hope would not emerge, but none the less there are some problems.
I think what this underlines is the importance of the work of FLAG as it goes about really identifying the factors that would go into the creation of boards, understanding that neither moving by regulation nor moving by an act will necessarily ensure that there are no problems, but that as we move on and create other boards I suspect we would learn from that and have fewer problems.
I think the other issue, and you underlined this as well, was looking at regionally constituted boards, so as we look at Prescott-Russell, as we look at Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, as we look at Sudbury, Nipissing, Algoma, when we are looking at those areas in terms of French-language governance we can do different kinds of things. Indeed, there must be at least 10 to 15 francophone groups in the province that have brought forward, for different areas of the province, different approaches in terms of how to structure a school board.
But all of those being put forward and all having to be dealt with, I would still say, in the context of the two bills we are looking at, that I believe that we can go forward with those, as has been mentioned, with the sunset provision that would apply to the regulation. Really what that does is allow us to move forward with respect to the two areas that are on the table, not without consultation and discussion; but then, out of the work of the French-language advisory group, having a kind of model approach we would then take in future to the creation of new French-language boards -- or, for that matter, English-language boards, because, again, I think it is awfully important to recognize the reciprocity of the rights we are discussing here. They apply to both English- and French-language minorities, as they do to public and separate minority groups within that.
Mr Ferrand: A very quick one. I think you are absolutely right. When we look at the whole situation in Prescott-Russell and Ottawa-Carleton, we certainly do not forget the anglophones from Prescott-Russell or the situation they will be in should the bill go through and a French school board be created. They would not be different from us; we would be in the same situation. We are trying to make all of you benefit from the experience we have and hope we will spare the anglophones in this case. That is the point I wanted to make.
Mr Martin: It is nice to see you come today on such short notice. I just want to say that what you started with the minister today re your financial situation is not something new to her; she already knew that. My interaction with her over the last few months certainly speaks to my seeing a person who is very much concerned about the situation you find yourself in. You are not the only one in the province who is in that situation. Combine that with a situation where the ministry is in jeopardy of being taken to court over issues and being forced to do things that maybe it would rather not do but would rather do after some consultation with folks, which makes more sense, because then you have some leeway to move. As you said, the setup in Ottawa right now for you is not the best one. Perhaps there is another one, and we need to talk about that; but for us to be forced to do something about that by either a financial crisis or a court case does not to me make any sense in this day and age. I would suggest to you that that is the reason we move so quickly now so that we can get on with that. As each day goes by, I am sure your problem gets worse. Right?
Mr Martin: Okay. That is the situation we find ourselves in, and we assure you of consultation down the road. It might not be as long as you have been used to, because the government has taken for ever to respond to your needs as francophone people in Ontario. We will do this quickly, and it will be done with respect to your needs and the needs of others whom you will impact in the communities.
Mr Ferrand: I am not saying it does not work. It is very difficult to administer, considering that you are fully autonomous for education. But when it comes to putting your efforts together and sitting at the conseil plénier, which is the meeting of all the board members -- there are 14 on the Catholic, only eight from the public; 14 from one side and eight from the other -- democracy is very difficult to apply. If you were to put your work, efforts or demands together, it would be a single majority vote and you would have to live with that. You could not even recuperate if things went bad, so this is one major difficulty we have.
We think the concept could work and it would be much more easily applicable if it were all within people sharing the same philosophy. That is why we promote this regional school board. We have been doing some talking with boards around us, namely, Prescott and Russell, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and a couple of others. They are very receptive, but where and when can we be heard on that thing considering that other boards are not very interested? It will probably not deprive Prescott and Russell from getting its board on a Catholic side, and maybe the Catholic from Prescott would associate with the Catholic from Ottawa-Carleton. The marriage here would be Catholic from one region with Catholic from another region versus public and public, instead of public and Catholic, which is not easily administered.
Hon Mrs Boyd: It is my understanding that those are the possibilities that are under negotiation with the situation now. No report has come to me, certainly, about the progress of those negotiations. They are going on in the community.
Mr Ferrand: For the financial part, the third head being the conseil plénier, the main link, if you want, most of us do not really understand the necessity for this. If you are talking about cost reduction and so on, we have our own director of education and so do they. What is the need to have a general director? What does he really do? You need that to take care of building maintenance, and that is a superstructure that is very, very expensive.
The Vice-Chair: In that case, I thank you for coming before us today and taking the time. We surely appreciate it. To members of the committee, I point out that the clerk is giving each of us a copy of the amendments put forward by the government, and I would ask that we all return promptly within 15 minutes, which on my watch would put us at 25 minutes to six, so that we could carry on with clause-by-clause consideration of the bills before us. Do we have that agreement? There is also likely to be a vote in the House, so I would ask that we all get back and deal with what we can and then reconvene after the vote in the House, I suppose.
Mrs Cunningham: I know during the discussions and the questions and answers, and I believe also when the minister spoke about this amendment, I think in her comments in the House, that her intention with this sunset motion was that basically this bill will be dealing with just two school boards. I am just wondering if that is the case, if that is the intention. I just wonder if we could have it reiterated or clarified.
Hon Mrs Boyd: At the present time the French Language Education Governance Advisory Group has been formed, is meeting and has been asked to report by 15 May. At that point consultation would go on among us all and with the communities on the recommendations of that committee prior to the bringing in of legislation that would then be, I think in our view, an umbrella piece of legislation that would give the kinds of criteria that you all have been asking for in terms of the foundation of new boards.
At the present time our indications are that only two school boards in the province have indicated that they would likely be ready to go ahead with the formation of a French-language school board before that process is complete. Those two boards are Simcoe and Prescott-Russell.
The reason we did not put either of those boards in the act or name them -- and it is really important that you understand this -- is that neither of them are at the point where they actually are ready and we do not want to in any way pre-empt the discussions that are going on by saying we assume they are going to form, because we do not necessarily assume they are going to be ready to form. That is why we do not want them mentioned. We simply are saying that in that hiatus period before we have the umbrella legislation, we want the power to do that if that is necessary. But we did not want to sound as though we were taking the initiative to form the school boards, because that is not what we are trying to do.
If in fact the advisory committee comes back and makes a recommendation that either two or one or maybe no boards can be supported at this time because we have not come far enough along in the negotiations, would that be one of the possibilities? I know it is not the expectation, but it could be.
Hon Mrs Boyd: Certainly. If in fact it becomes clear in terms of the negotiation that the protection of the minority-language sections or the protection of existing school boards is in doubt, then the provisions under Bill 30 and the provisions under which we have looked at the formation of school boards would come into play, of course.
Our concern is that we never split out the school boards in such a way as to make it impossible for them to be viable, as to the kind of suggestion the Ottawa-Carleton people were doing, looking at alternatives around regional things and so on, the negotiating teams are clearly instructed that this is to be part of the consideration they do.
On the other hand, it has to be really clear that self-determination is at the base of the Mahé decision, and so if in spite of all the best advice that is given and so on a group of parents that has a right to do so says it wants governance over its minority-language area, we get back into the legal difficulty if we do not do it. Then the onus is on us, as a ministry, to ensure that the minority language rights and the other language rights are protected in that area.
Mrs Cunningham: Would it be a possibility then that you may in fact come back with an act pertaining to an individual board since the circumstances and the arrangements could be very different? I cannot imagine, with all of the combinations and permutations of arrangements around finances, building use or numbers of trustees, that you could ever make a global piece of legislation that would meet everyone's needs. Would one of the options you would be looking at in fact be an individual bill? Is that possible?
Hon Mrs Boyd: I would not preclude that. That might be a possibility, but I would say, and I think it is really important for us all to be clear, that every time we create another school board by a separate bill, it means that every time we want to do anything minor to the Education Act we have to make amendments to all those other bills. I think our effort would be to try to find ways in which we all can be comfortable about setting the conditions and the situation and still fulfil our legislative duty, simply because, as you know, the Education Act has been amended and amended and amended. If you have to do that on 15 different bills, say, every time, it does become difficult, but if that is what we need to do --
Mr Beer: Just on this point, and then to go back, I want to add that it seems to me the previous government, when we were looking at how to go forward, one of the things was, as I mentioned in my remarks the other day, looking at some sort of model bill. I think the minister's comments are appropriate in that I suspect we might be able to come up with a model bill around parts that would be common no matter what you were doing, but where the kind of particular situations -- as you say, there could be many -- would have to be dealt with in a certain way. I think the work of the advisory group could lead to that.
The second point that I would just like to make -- I keep reiterating this but I think it is a terribly important that we never forget it -- is that in terms of the Mahé court decision, while it dealt specifically with the issue of French-language governance, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms speaks to both.
One could see in Prescott-Russell, for example, whether it is the English-speaking Catholic minority group in that instance, those protections are similar for it and it is very important we remember that. I think that as the governance group goes forward, when we are looking at how we then put that together, we could have in this province a movement by an English-speaking minority group around governance, going to court or doing whatever, before a French-language group might be ready.
Mrs Cunningham: My last question, and this might bore everybody but I need to be refreshed, is that the date January 1994 pertains directly to trying to get there so that school boards can have their elections. Why 1994? Does this cover two elections or one?
Hon Mrs Boyd: It is to cover between the election periods. It is to make sure that in between that time, if there is a negotiated issue -- remember the section here that is saying that if everybody is ready and there is a negotiated settlement and so on, between elections a school board can be formed. It has to be in that period between the elections.
Mrs McLeod: Can I just ask the same question again because I think I share the same concern? The 1991 date would obviously deal with the immediate situation. After that date, presumably you will have the recommendations of the French Language Education Governance Advisory Committee and will bring forward a different set of recommendations as to the establishment of any future boards. I guess the question is, why would there need to be that extensive period of time?
Hon Mrs Boyd: We would certainly hope that it would be done, but we also feel as a government that we need the leeway if in fact during the consultation process we find that there is enough delay and enough difficulty in coming to a consensus around the umbrella legislation, that we would not find ourselves forced into court again. It is the same issue.
We want to take our time with this model legislation. If it takes us enough time and a group should come forward and demand this before we have come to all those conclusions, our real concern is that we not get ourselves forced into a situation where the courts dictate to us and limit our choices around this model legislation. That is a real concern. I think it was the concern of the previous government as well, that when courts make decisions they limit the possibility of tailoring the thing to the particular circumstances of our province.
Mrs McLeod: If I may just say, I think that probably accentuates the concern we have about how long it might take to have new legislation in place to govern this as opposed to looking for potential extensions of the dates that are presented today.
One of the suggestions I had made was that we say "repealed on or before 1 January," when legislation is ready or "1 January 1994," whichever is first. I am certainly happy to do that. I do not have a problem one way or the other because our intention is certainly to have it ready before that time. There have been many delays along the way on this issue, which is clearly a highly emotional and difficult one for a lot of communities.
I think we would all be foolish to make an assumption that by January 1992 we would necessarily have all this in place. I would really argue very strongly that the committee not limit us all in that very tight timetable.
Mr J. Wilson: I would certainly agree that we do not want to be limited to too tight a time frame in this particular instance. I do have a question, though, about the advisory board. Given the sensitivities in local communities and given the parameters of the Supreme Court's decision, who does the advisory board consult with? Does it go back to ratepayers? I can understand the sensitivities and not wanting to bring out the whole issue again, or the emotional side of that issue, but there will be a real concern in, again, Simcoe county if the advisory board is not reaching out to all groups.
Hon Mrs Boyd: My understanding is that the advisory board has already set up a timetable for widespread consultation that will have open public hearings in a number of cities around the province. I do not have the schedule with me now, but I know that is the intention. All the stakeholder groups have been informed of the creation of the committee and the membership of it and those plans. I think we have covered our bases with the groups.
I do not know and I cannot remember, frankly, from the terms of reference that we set out, whether there had to be public advertising of those meetings. That I cannot tell you. I think there did, but I cannot tell you for sure.
Mr Owens: If I can just make a quick point of order here, Gary's interpreters are only available until 6:30. We are trying to make some kind of arrangement to have people come in. We are obviously going to carry on past that hour. We have some telephone numbers, if there is some way Lynn or somebody can contact them. We cannot leave.
The Chair: We are not noticing the clock as we have passed 6 o'clock. There has been agreement that we will continue until we adjourn formally at 6, depending on wherever the clock happens to be at that moment.
In that case, I am advised that if we put the question on this amendment, there is one that precedes it. There is a Progressive Conservative motion that goes before this one. Can we set this aside and deal with that first or shall we deal with this?
Mr Beecroft: If I could comment on the wording, it is not enough to simply say that the subsections are repealed on or before 1 January 1994. You can say, which I think gets the meaning you want, "subsections (11a), (11b) and (11c) are repealed on 1 January 1994 or on such earlier date as may be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council." Does that capture the intention?
"(g) the process by which any board or employee group which may be affected directly or indirectly by the creation of a French-language school board is consulted prior to the creation of the new board."
Mr Martin: It is my sense of what is unfolding re this whole process that this in fact is what FLAG is already doing and that there will be ample opportunity for all of those groups to make their presentations to FLAG, and that even after FLAG has returned to suggest a process, it will actually be done again in each specific situation.
Hon Mrs Boyd: I think the issue here, though, is that before FLAG reports, the import of this is to make sure that this consultation happens for any board that is created through the regulation, and we certainly can agree to that.
Mr Beecroft: I just want to understand the purpose of this amendment. If you look at page l of the bill, subsection 11a is the key provision. That is the provision that gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council power to make regulations. Subsection llb lists things that can be included in that regulation. I think what you are trying to get at --
Mr Beecroft: Subsection 11b is a list of items that can be included in a regulation under subsection 11a. Do I understand your intention to be that before making a regulation under 11a, the LG in C can make regulations requiring consultation before the regulation under 11a is made, or is that to be part of the regulation under 11a?
Mr Beecroft: I can imagine your amendment working exactly as it is written, but it looks a little awkward to me. What it would do, it seems to me, is that you would have a regulation establishing the such-and-such French-language school board for a certain area, and then as part of that regulation you would say that before anything else happens, there has to be consultation. Then, I guess, presumably an amending regulation is made to spell out other information about that board.
Mr Beecroft: We have just passed 11d. Subsection 11d would have to cover this new subsection as well, but it would be subsection 11e to say, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations respecting the process by which any board or employee group which may be affected directly or indirectly by the creation of a French-language school board is consulted prior to the making of a regulation under subsection 11a."
Mr Beecroft: I would suggest that it appear as subsection 11d and then Mr Martin's motion be renumbered so that subsection becomes subsection 11e, and also covers subsection 11d so that subsection 11d is also repealed.
"(11d) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations respecting the process by which a board or employee group which may be affected directly or indirectly by the creation of a French-language school board is consulted prior to the making of a regulation under subsection 11a."
Hon Mrs Boyd: I do not think that does it. I think what we want on that subsection 11d is that subsection 11a can apply only if a process of consultation has taken place with any board or employee group which may be affected directly or indirectly by the creation of a French-language school board. I think that is what you mean. I think that is what the speakers have been asking for.
The Chair: Could I suggest, since obviously it is the desire of the committee to include that with the intent that the minister has just stated -- clearly I see a consensus -- if we could direct legislative counsel to bring that forward before the end of the proceeding today, we can then see it in the right place and in the meantime proceed with the other sections. Is that acceptable to the committee? We will proceed. That is it for section 2.
Mrs Cunningham moves that section 5 of the bill, amending section 136g of the act, as enacted by the Statutes of Ontario, 1986, chapter 21, section 2, be amended by deleting the proposed section 4 and the following substituted therefor:
"(4) Despite subsections 1 to 3, for the first school year in which an election is effective and for every subsequent year, the entitlement of a Roman Catholic school board under section 136e applies in respect of all secondary school grades if, in the first school year, the board provides instruction in all secondary school grades and the instruction is provided in a school operated by another board by means of an agreement with the other board mentioned in the board's first annual implementation plan."
Mr Beecroft: As I understand it, you are adding the last line to the existing provision. It is again just a language problem. There are two boards referred to in this subsection, so your last line mentioning "in the board's first annual implementation plan" raises the question of which board you are talking about. I think the same objective could be reached by taking the existing provision and adding after the word "provided" in the sixth line, "if, in the first school year, the board provides instruction in all secondary school grades and the instruction is provided in accordance with the board's first annual implementation plan in a school operated by another board." If you do it that way, then there is no ambiguity about which board you are talking about when you are talking about the implementation plan.
"6. If a board approves an increase or decrease of either one or two in the number of members of the board by resolution passed by three quarters of the members of the board before the date mentioned in rule 7, the number of members of the board shall be deemed to be increased or decreased in accordance with the resolution for the next regular election.
"7. Rule 6 applies if the resolution is passed before the 31st day of March in the year of the regular election or if the determination of the calculated enrolment and the total calculated enrolment of the board is referred to the Languages of Instruction Commission of Ontario under subsection 277q(4), before the 30th day of April in the year of the regular election."
Hon Mrs Boyd: This is essentially to meet the concerns that the Ontario Public School Boards' Association brought forward around timing and to give the additional time that they required, or they thought that public school boards would require, prior to elections. Since we had changed them in accordance with an earlier request, we have no problem with turning them back.
"(16) A resolution under subsection 13 has no effect unless it is passed before the 31st day of March in the year of the next regular election or, if the determination of the calculated enrolment and the total calculated enrolment of the board is referred to the Languages of Instruction Commission of Ontario under subsection 277q(4), before the 30th day of April in the year of the next regular election."
"(5) The Languages of Instruction Commission of Ontario shall determine the calculated enrolment and the total calculated enrolment of the board and shall notify the appropriate supervisory officer of its determination not later than 20 days after the referral under subsection 4."
"(11d) A regulation may not be made under subsection 11a unless there has been consultation with boards and employee groups that will be affected directly or indirectly by the creation of a French-language school board under the regulation."
I would like to thank all the members of the committee, the deputations that have appeared before us and legislative counsel. I hope this is an example of how we can work together over the months ahead and I look forward to continuing our important work together.