Thursday 13 July 2000
Mr Al Leach
Ms Catherine Keleher
Mr Doug Holyday
Mr Gerald Nori
Mr Michael Rohrer
Mr Allan Laakkonen
Mr Charles Sandiford
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair / Président
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex L)
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines L)
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex L)
Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington L)
Mr Bert Johnson (Perth-Middlesex PC)
Mr Morley Kells (Etobicoke-Lakeshore PC)
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie ND)
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre / -Centre PC)
Mr Bob Wood (London West / -Ouest PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury L)
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes
Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale / Toronto-Centre-Rosedale L)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Douglas Arnott
Staff / Personnel
Mr David Pond, research officer, Research and Information Services
The committee met at 1004 in room 228.
The Chair (Mr James Bradley): I'm going to call the meeting to order, since people have endeavoured to be here at an appropriate time. I'm sure all other committee members will be coming in as soon as they can; I know the traffic is bad.
The first item on the agenda is the report of the subcommittee on committee business dated Thursday, May 18, 2000.
Mr Bob Wood (London West): Mr Chair, I'd like to move adoption of the reports of the subcommittee of May 18, May 25, June 15, June 22 and June 29, 2000.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Wood. That's very helpful. Any discussion?
All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Mr Wood: I would also like to move a motion with respect to extending until tomorrow-and I'm asking for unanimous consent for this motion-the time for consideration of Mr Leach, Ms Keleher, Mr Holyday, Mr Nori, Mr Rohrer, Mr Laakkonen and Mr Sandiford.
The Chair: Thank you for that motion. That motion enables us to legally deal with the people we're dealing with today. So I thank Mr Wood for that motion. Any discussion?
All in favour? The motion is carried.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party and third party: Al Leach, intended appointee as member, Toronto Police Services Board.
The Chair: The first individual to come before the committee this morning is no stranger to the committee. It's Mr Allan Leach, who is an intended appointee as a member of the Toronto Police Services Board. Good morning.
Mr Al Leach: Good morning, Mr Chair. It's very nice to see you again.
The Chair: It's always nice to see former members of the Legislature and familiar faces before the committee. Believe it or not, we see a lot of familiar faces before the committee. That's always nice to see.
Mr Leach: And always have.
The Chair: As you know, Mr Leach, the procedure we follow is that the appointee has an opportunity to make an initial statement and then we proceed in rotation. Welcome to the committee.
Mr Leach: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name, for the record, is Al Leach. I'm interested in becoming a member of the Toronto Police Services Board.
I believe that most of the members of the committee know me and also have a copy of my resumé, so I will keep my opening statement quite brief.
Should I be appointed, I believe my overall background and experience would enable me to be a good member of the police services board and make a positive contribution. As you know, I was the chief general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission for approximately eight years, from 1987 to 1995, and there are many similarities between the Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Transit Commission; for example, the number of personnel and the size of the budget. They're both very public organizations. By that I mean they come under continuous public scrutiny with respect to the quality of services they provide. Both are overseen by a board or a commission that is responsible to city council, but both have some degree of independence from council. Both monitor the performance of senior staff and both are responsible for collective bargaining and, in consultation with the staff, develop a budget for presentation to Toronto council.
I believe my TTC experience, certainly when dealing with administrative matters, would be of considerable benefit should I be appointed as a member of the police services board.
As you also know, I was the member of provincial Parliament for the former riding of St George-St David from 1995 to 1999. As all members of this committee are certainly aware, one of the responsibilities of an MPP is to be active in the community, and my riding was probably one of the most diverse in the province of Ontario. This diversity gave me the opportunity to deal with a multitude of issues that covered a broad segment of the population. This experience gave me the opportunity to understand many of the complex problems facing the residents of the city of Toronto. I worked closely with the police, particularly 51 division, to deal with many of the issues. I also had the opportunity to work with local residents' groups and community organizations, as well as numerous social agencies in the city. I believe this experience would also be of considerable benefit in dealing with issues facing the Toronto Police Services Board.
I should also point out that prior to coming to the TTC, when I was the managing director of GO Transit, I was a member of the city of Toronto Crime Stoppers committee-again, experience that would be of benefit should I be appointed as a member of the Police Services Board.
In closing these very brief remarks, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say that I am 64 years old. I have lived in the city all of my life. The community has been very good to me; this community has been very good to my family. I see serving on the Toronto Police Services Board as an opportunity to give something back to this community.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Leach. We'll start with the official opposition.
Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): Welcome, Al. Only a very few questions from me and then I'll turn it over to George.
Have you spoken to Steve Tracey or Ron Smallbone of the juvenile task force in 52?
Mr Leach: No, I haven't.
Mr Bartolucci: Are you aware that there is a very severe problem with regard to children being sexually exploited and abused through prostitution in Toronto? Are you aware of this problem?
Mr Leach: I am aware of the problem to the extent of what I've seen of it in the media. I know it's a serious problem. It's certainly a serious problem in the downtown core, the area I represented, and something that I know the police are actively working on. But it needs a lot more work.
Mr Bartolucci: Exactly. They're hampered because there's no legislation in place in Ontario to deal specifically with the problem. There are, though, two bills on the order paper, Bill 6 and Bill 32, both private members' bills introduced by myself that have a broad range of support. Certainly Chief Fantino is in support and the police association is in support of both of those. Are you prepared to support legislation similar to Alberta's legislation which will give the police the tools to deal with this problem?
Mr Leach: I would support any measure that would give the police the tools to deal with that type of problem. Of course I would want to see the legislation, be aware of the legislation, before I passed any specific comments on it, but in principle I certainly would support that.
Mr Bartolucci: Yesterday I mailed to you a copy of both pieces of legislation in anticipation that your answer would be positive. You will be receiving them very shortly. I would ask you to peruse them. I would ask you to consult with the chief and certainly the task force members, Steve Tracey and Ron Smallbone, and Craig Bromell of the police association. I look forward to you actively lobbying the government to get off their duffs and do something about the problem we have across the province of Ontario. Thanks, Mr Leach.
Mr George Smitherman (Toronto Centre-Rosedale): It's always good to see constituents of mine before a legislative committee. Mr Leach, a preliminary question: do you intend to be a candidate for chairman of the police services board after the municipal elections this fall?
Mr Leach: I can honestly say I really haven't put my mind to that. I indicated an interest in becoming a board member. I don't know whether I could make the time available to be chair. But I haven't thought about it. We have a chair at present. To the best of my knowledge, his term has a considerable time to run.
Mr Smitherman: Would you like to take an opportunity to take yourself out of running for that position?
Mr Leach: No, I would never close my options.
Mr Smitherman: As Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in the government, you facilitated the largest downloading on municipalities. The city of Toronto believes that it has been subjected to a quarter of a billion dollars' worth of costs on an annual basis. At the same time, there has been a fairly precipitous decline in the number of uniformed officers on the streets of the city of Toronto, and many people have drawn a link between these things. Could you offer some comment on the extent to which downloading may have contributed to the decline in the number of uniformed officers, but more particularly focus on the issue of the number of uniformed officers and offer some comment as to how much of a concern that causes you.
Mr Leach: I find that a bit puzzling because I know that since 1995, when the Solicitor General announced a program to add 1,000 net new officers to the streets of Ontario, the number of police officers on the streets in the city of Toronto has increased. I'm quite confident of that. I know that was an issue that was debated in this House when I was here, to add more police officers to the entire province, and that was net new officers, by the way. I don't know the specific numbers for the city of Toronto, but it strikes me that it was about 300-
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): It was 250.
Mr Leach:-250 additional officers for the city of Toronto, net new officers.
Mr Smitherman: I would urge you to take a look at those stats because the word "net" is misplaced, I believe, in your answer. The reality is that other officers that have been before committee in my time here have confirmed these numbers. You would well know that pension circumstance for officers means lots and lots of retirements as well. The net number is not an additional number.
Let me ask another question. There are some rumours out there, rumblings in response to the situation which I've raised in the Legislature, of there being fewer numbers, which quite frankly the Solicitor General has not disputed. There seem to be some rumblings around the issue of the province offering more resources to the city of Toronto for policing in particular, that that will occur. What would your priority be?
You spoke about 51 division; that's an area that I know rather well as well. There seems to be a debate emerging about whether those police resources would be used for things like traffic control, or whether those would be dedicated to more street-level activities such as fighting the crack cocaine trade which is prevalent in the area that you represented. Between those two things, traffic control and enhanced drug enforcement, which would be your priority?
Mr Leach: They're both very important issues. I think, before I commented on that, I would like to find out what the state of the situation is currently. Where is the major shortage in the city of Toronto? If there's a major shortage of traffic control officers, you would have to look at that. If there's a shortage of crime control, then you would have look at that. It's very difficult to give a specific response to that without having the opportunity to talk with the chief and talk with other board members to find out where the largest need is.
Mr Smitherman: Let me ask you a question about something that has occurred rather than something that requires you to take a further look at it. That's something that happened last year which some people have called police association activism and that others know as the True Blue campaign. This was an unprecedented campaign which led to the mayor or the police services board chair and Tory appointee Jeff Lyons criticizing, condemning. in fact, Craig Bromell and the True Blue initiative. Would you like a chance to offer your comments on that?
Mr Leach: Again, the only thing I know about that is what I've read in the media, but my understanding is that the campaign that was undertaken by the police association has been withdrawn and they are no longer pursuing the True Blue campaign. As far as I was aware, it's a dead issue.
Mr Smitherman: Do you see that campaign having been withdrawn as a healthy development?
Mr Leach: I could see where it would cause conflict. I think it was probably in the best interests of all concerned for the association to withdraw that.
Mr Smitherman: As a former elected politician, were you offended by that campaign?
Mr Leach: "Offended" I think is a little strong, but I didn't think it was a wise campaign to undertake, but I could also see where the association was coming from.
Mr Smitherman: You mentioned in your statement and highlighted the diversity that was in your former riding of St George-St David. I want to ask you about a couple of things that are on your record.
One of those is that during your time at the TTC, you prevented the lesbian and gay community from promoting on the back of transfer stubs a public awareness campaign that was designed to give gays and lesbians challenged by their sexual orientation an opportunity to seek and receive counselling. That's the first; I'd like you to comment on that.
Secondly, you inherited in the Regent Park community an initiative of your predecessor, Tim Murphy, called the community witness program, which was designed to give community impact statements in court. That was an initiative of the MPP and was supported by his office. You dismantled that or caused it to be dismantled by failing to provide it necessary resources. Could you comment on those things?
Mr Leach: Referring to your last question first, that's not correct. We supported the community witness program heavily. My constituency staff were in court on a weekly basis supporting that program. It's a great program, and I would never even consider dismantling that. Where that information came from is a mystery to me, but just to correct your records, it's entirely false.
With respect to the issue of the transfers, we had offered to the gay-lesbian community the opportunity to advertise on the bus and advertise in other areas. We didn't want to advertise on transfers. It was the transfer issue that became a matter of whether the medium was appropriate to carry a message. We didn't want to carry advertising of any sort on transfers, and that's why that decision was made.
Mr Smitherman: The civilian investigation, the SIU, is an issue that the police chief has been fairly vocal about seeking to-some people would use the word "dismantle" and others would use the words "water down." Could you offer some comments about your personal view on this and whether you would, as a member of the police services board, take an active role in supporting the chief's desire to see the powers of that investigations unit watered down.
Mr Leach: Again, I'm not familiar enough, other than with what I read in the media, with the role of the SIU. I know that it has been controversial. I know that the chief has recommended some changes be made in the SIU. It's a body that's responsible to the Attorney General and not to the police services board. I'd like to get a whole lot more information on the SIU before I form an opinion. I know that it's been controversial. From what I've read, I think there probably is a need to review the role and the makeup of the SIU. But I wouldn't want to comment beyond saying that I would like to, along with the chief, review the function of it and then make some recommendations.
The Chair: Thank you to the official opposition. Now to the third party.
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I want to follow up on the last question of Mr Smitherman on the role of the SIU. Nice to see you again this morning, Al.
Mr Leach: Hi, Tony.
Mr Martin: I just want to query you further on your view. It's certainly an important issue, one of some debate at the moment, and one that has been out there for quite some time as an issue of contention. I think it's one that we have to bring some closure to at some point so that we can get on with dealing with the real issues of policing that need to be looked after out there.
Certainly the independence of the SIU is one of real concern to us, as are some of the comments that have been made most recently by the present chief in Toronto, Mr Fantino, with respect to the critical role of the SIU and his arguing for amendments to the act to weaken its powers. As a matter of fact, the chief argues that the statutory language in subsection 113(5) of the act, which directs the SIU to conduct investigations into incidents where serious injuries or deaths were caused by what might be criminal offences committed by police officers, "automatically assumes an officer under investigation is a criminal, even if he or she followed proper procedure." This is taken from an article in the Toronto Sun on May 30.
A change in wording is supported by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police as well, of which Chief Fantino is a member. The association suggests that subsection 113(5) be changed to provide that the SIU will investigate the facts of circumstances surrounding deaths or serious injuries resulting from police involvement. However, this proposed amendment is opposed by Julian Falconer, a Toronto lawyer who has acted for families of people killed by police officers, as well as other critics. They point out that all deaths in the province are routinely investigated by the police as potential homicides. Thus, the wording change sought by the association would not create, in their view, a level playing field but would, rather, elevate police officers above the law to which all other citizens are subject.
I'm wondering if you're aware of this difference of perspective and view and what your position would be. If in the discussion that I'm sure will ensue as some of this moves forward under your tenure, if you're appointed to the commission, there is action of this sort and it looks like the Harris government, of which you were a part, moves in this direction, what would your position be and would you seek, I suppose in this way, to undermine the independence of the SIU?
Mr Leach: Again, I know that issue was raised at the conference of chiefs of police. That's what I read in the media. I didn't read all the data that you've just referred to there.
We know that police officers are under a considerable amount of stress in carrying out their duties in many instances and you don't want them treated any differently, either more severely or less fairly, than the general population.
I can probably refer back to my experience at the TTC. When one of our operators or a member of the commission would run into some difficulty, they always had an opportunity to have their side of the story told to an independent body, but always had the opportunity to be represented by a member of their union or a lawyer if they so chose. I don't think police officers should be any different than that.
I would like to get more specific detail from other members of the board and from the chief himself rather than relying on newspaper or media reports in making a decision on that.
I know the SIU has been controversial, there isn't any doubt about that, and whenever something is that controversial, it usually is time to step back and take a sober second look to see whether changes are necessary. They may be or they may not be. We won't know that until that review takes place.
Mr Martin: The other subject that I want some comment from you on has also been touched upon by the official opposition, the issue of the True Blue campaign that created so much controversy a short while ago and the fact that, even though there was an agreement reached by the two main parties involved, there's still some anxiety out there, as you can imagine, about what's still going on, what could be possible and whether this thing could take fire again.
Given the very sensitive nature of policing and the very responsible role that the police have in our community and the need for everybody concerned to have ultimate and utmost confidence in their ability and their intent when they do their job, that piece of business which presented and was perceived by many as a bullying type of thing-as a matter of fact, you'll remember that the vice-chair of the board at the time, Jeff Lyons, feared that his office was bugged and also felt quite intimidated by the whole thing-is not, as I'm sure you will agree, a good place to be, not a good situation to have out there.
My concern is that in the agreement that was arrived at between the two main parties, there was still a piece left out there which many of us have some concern about, which is the ability of the police association to, at some later date, use money raised to be involved politically, to affect political decisions in ways that they feel are supportive of their position, to be involved in the political system. I know, for example, in the last provincial election certainly the police association was quite active in support of, and opposing, members who were running for Parliament who were perceived by them to not support or to support their position on policing issues.
Given the sensitive nature of policing and the crucial role they play in the community, often between warring parties in some instances, do you think the potential should be there for them to be involved in that way?
Mr Leach: First of all, to deal with the True Blue campaign, to the best of my knowledge that's a dead issue. It's cancelled and they're not dealing with that any more.
With respect to the police association being involved in supporting candidates through their association at any level of government, whether it be municipal, provincial or federal, I don't think the police association should be dealt with any differently than any other association. I know that the firemen, for example, get very active; teachers have been very, very active; Ontario public service unions are very active in campaigns. I don't see why one association should be treated much differently than any of the others.
Mr Martin: So you don't see the police as a particularly sensitive area that would preclude their involvement politically in campaigns? For example, if the police association decides to get involved in the coming November municipal elections, that would be OK by you?
Mr Leach: I don't think they should be treated differently than the teachers' association, for example, which has the ability to affect the minds of our schoolchildren. They've been very active in political campaigns. I know personally that the fire association gets very involved in political activities, to try to get candidates to support positions they feel are in the best interests of the community. I think all of these associations are working with the same goal: to try to get their message through on issues they feel are important to the community and that represent their views. I don't see why they should be treated any differently than the others.
Mr Martin: What would your position be on any limits that should be put on police activism in politics if, for no other reason, than to maintain the trust and respect of the communities that they're hired to serve?
Mr Leach: There's a major difference between the police force and the police association. It's very much like the Toronto Transit Commission and the ATU. The union has the ability to spend their dues where it sees fit, on issues that they think will put a positive message across on views they feel strongly about. There's a difference between talking about the effect of the police force being involved in political campaigns and the union being involved in campaigns. I see them as two separate entities and I don't differentiate between the police union, the teacher's union, the ATU or OPSEU. They all have roles to play and, in a democratic society, have the right to do that.
The Chair: That's the time completed. The government caucus.
Mr Gilchrist: I'd like to make the observation that I asked staff to check, just to ensure that Mr Smitherman left this meeting with the most up-to-date facts. Since 1995, there has been a net increase of 306 officers in the city of Toronto, 250 of whom were paid for by the province as part of our commitment to improving law and order in this province. Those are my only comments.
The Chair: Thank you very much for the information, Mr Gilchrist.
Mr Gilchrist: You're always welcome, Mr Chair.
Mr Smitherman: You should speak with Deputy Chief Boyd.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Smitherman.
Thank you very much, Mr Leach, for appearing before the committee.
Mr Leach: Thank you, Mr Chair. It's nice to see everybody again.
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Catherine Anne Keleher, intended appointee as member, Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.
The Chair: The next intended appointee is Catherine Anne Keleher, intended appointee as member, Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.
Welcome. As you have probably heard earlier if you were in here, and I think you probably were, the procedure we follow is that the individual who is the intended appointee has an opportunity to make a statement should he or she wish to do so. Then there is questioning, 10 minutes from each party.
Ms Catherine Keleher: Thank you, Mr Chair. I'd like first to thank you and the committee for the opportunity of appearing here this morning.
I know that you've all received copies of my resumé. I have only a faint idea of how much paper crosses all of your desks, and so, for your convenience, I'd like to repeat some of my qualifications for you.
I have 17 years of service as an elected representative, including 13 years as reeve of the town of Palmerston and member of Wellington county council. I had the very distinct honour of being the warden of Wellington county in 1994.
During the 17 years, I've chaired the town of Palmerston's public works committee; administration, finance and recreation committee; and the planning and development committee. As well, I've chaired the Wellington county administration, finance and personnel committee; and the joint social services committee. I have co-chaired the Wellington-Guelph waste management master plan steering committee.
I have also spent 10 years as a member of the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority; 10 years as a board member of the Family and Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County; 13 years as a member of the Palmerston and District Hospital board of governors, including four years as vice-chair; 12 years as a member of the Wellington county library board; three years as a member of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph board of health; a little over a year as a member of the Wellington County Police Services Board; and one year as a member of the Wellington and Guelph Housing Authority.
I'd like to point out to the committee now that, recognizing that membership on the housing authority was inappropriate in view of this appointment, slightly over a month ago I did resign from that position.
Some of the skills that I believe I've developed during this time that would be of assistance in the position of adjudicator: I've developed interpersonal skills in dealing with colleagues, the public, staff, representatives and officials of other levels of government, and the media. I have learned to interpret legislation and regulations and to apply policy. I have learned to weigh conflicting perspectives, requests or demands, and to make appropriate decisions. I've learned the importance of established process and procedure, in order that one might deliberate as completely and appropriately as possible. I've learned that people cannot be stereotyped, and in this context, either tenants or landlords. Finally, I've learned to listen not just to what people appear to be saying but for what they really mean.
On a personal level, I've never been a landlord but I've been a tenant for a number of years, having moved four times. I am currently a tenant in a unit that is specifically exempted from the provisions of the legislation, and so there is no conflict. I've had a landlord who has to be one of the world's best, and I've had a landlord who was less so. I have seen at first hand tenants who were excellent and tenants who were less so. I think this allows me to bring a balanced perspective to the position.
In conclusion, I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Ontario.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We'll start with the third party this time.
Mr Martin: Good morning. You're being appointed to a tribunal that I suggest will be very busy-has been, continues to be and, if the situation stays as it is, presents as an area of some real concern to all of us here. Certainly, in my view and my caucus's view, that whole situation has been exacerbated in many significant ways by this government; for example, the elimination of rent control and other landlord regulations in 1997. I'm sure you're aware that under the changes rent can be raised to any level the landlord wishes when an apartment becomes vacant. Then rent controls are re-established when the new tenant moves in. Rent can also be raised over the ceiling to cover capital repairs. What's your view on that? Do you share my concern that that has created a huge problem in this province where affordable housing is concerned for folks?
Ms Keleher: As an adjudicator, my position would be to enforce the legislation, the regulations and the policies of the government, whoever the government of the day might be. I would not be a policy-maker. I would not expect to develop policy but only to apply those policies that already exist. I think it's up to the government to address whatever concerns they may be aware of.
Mr Martin: I was just trying to get some sense of where you might be coming from in terms of some of the decisions you will be asked to make that will be very important to some individuals in this province.
You may not be aware that statistics show that the tribunal's speed in dealing with tenant issues versus landlord issues is a bit skewed. Do you believe that the tribunal is tilted against tenants, and if it is, if you find that's the circumstance, what will you do about this?
Ms Keleher: During my interview with the chair of the tribunal and two vice-chairs, the particular subject of efficiency was addressed. It was a very rigorous screening process involving an interview as well as a written test. The chair indicated at that time that his goal for all applications is a 72-hour turnaround from hearing to decision. I know as far as scheduling of the hearings that there are over 60,000 applications on file, and there are approximately 40 adjudicators, and I think they're doing the best they can.
Mr Martin: You're obviously not going to get into sharing with us some of your own views and perspectives on some of these things. Maybe I could ask you, just to get my head around where you're coming from and to be comfortable in terms of the decision I make here later today, have you ever been a member of the Conservative Party or given a donation of any kind to any of its candidates?
Ms Keleher: Yes.
Mr Martin: You have. OK. I have just one other question, then. It seems from looking at your resumé that your work has been mostly in small-town Ontario communities. What is your understanding of some of the issues presenting in some of the larger communities, and in particular the Metro Toronto area, where housing is concerned, where tight rental markets exist and where most of the very troubling circumstances are presenting at this particular point in time?
Ms Keleher: I was specifically interviewed for a position that would be outside Metro Toronto, just to clarify that. I think a lot of issues, though, are universal: the issue of maintenance, the issue of harassment, the issue of non-payment, the issue of persistent late payment. There are more people in Toronto and there are obviously therefore more incidences of these kinds of behaviour, but I'm not sure it's fair to say that Toronto is different; it's just more. I think the issues occur all over southwestern Ontario. I think rental markets are tight in other communities as well. I think Toronto is special but not in that respect.
Mr Martin: Would you agree with me, though, when I say that if a lot of the problems that initially present in small-town Ontario-Sault Ste Marie is sort of quasi; at 80,000 people, it's not one of the biggest and it's not one of the smallest, but it's certainly not as big as Toronto-are not dealt with in those communities, they move down to Toronto and become Toronto's problem? Even though you say the circumstance isn't different in Toronto, it's just more, in my view it is, in that you don't see people sleeping on the streets of Sault Ste Marie but you do see people sleeping on the streets of Toronto. I would suggest probably that some of them are from Sault Ste Marie, who end up down here thinking that there is something here for them and when they get here they find out that, for example, in Toronto there are 55,000 people on waiting lists for some form of social or public housing, and the government's rent supplement plan calls for 5,000 units. It's not going to do the job. If you can't deal with the Toronto issue, then you exacerbate the small-town Ontario issue. Any comment on that?
Ms Keleher: I guess the only comment I would have to that is that the indigent rates are part of a very complex, large, interrelated series of factors such as economic development, transportation, provision of subsidized housing, provision of market-rent housing, and you can't adequately address any one of those components in isolation. It might be safe to say that if Sault Ste Marie had a higher level of economic development people would stay there and people would have wages to pay for market-rent housing. I'm hypothesizing here; I'm not presenting this as a statement of fact. But I don't think you can take the fact that people end up in Toronto in isolation and say, "How do you solve that?" without at least looking at the other components.
The Chair: We now go to the government.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Chair: Mr Wood has waived the time on behalf of the government members, so we go to the official opposition.
Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington): Good morning, Ms Keleher. If I may, I would like to return to a comment you made in response to a question by Mr Martin. This is with regard to the imbalance there is in dealing with the issues, those of tenants and those of landlords. You made the comment that you think they are doing the best they can. I'm sure you are familiar with the statistics. For example, between September 30, 1998, and December 31, 1999, the backlog for tenant applications increased by 140%, for lockouts and harassment applications it increased by 101%, and for repair applications it increased by 105%. That's the backlog. At the same time, though, the backlog for arrears and evictions applications has decreased by 4%, even though the number of applications for evictions has increased. Can you understand why I am very concerned by those numbers? I suggest it would be fair to say that I think the tribunal has become quite focused on evicting and less focused on dealing with the other issues, the tenant issues. I suggest that these figures support that. I have a couple of questions here. Have you heard these statistics before?
Ms Keleher: I have heard some of them. CBC Radio advised me of some of them, I would guess about a month ago.
Mrs Dombrowsky: OK. So as a member of the tribunal, would you see it as part of your responsibility to act immediately to bring forward measures that would address this imbalance? I'm going to call it more than an imbalance, but would you see that as one of the roles or certainly an important focus for the tribunal to address?
Ms Keleher: I have not until now been privy to the tribunal's daily activities and how they select the order of hearings. I would hope on a personal level that there would not be discrimination or favouritism. I cannot say I'm personally aware that there is. I would hope that did not exist. I would do what I could to ensure that did not exist, because that is certainly contrary to the spirit of the legislation, which is designed to assist both tenants and landlords.
Mrs Dombrowsky: I agree with you. If I could just impress one more point upon you: the fact that married couples with children are the worst off, in that 74% of married tenants with children pay over 50% of their income as rent. So one would expect that of those outstanding cases, a significant number are married people with children. So we have families who are in danger of losing their homes. To me, when children are at risk of losing their home, that is a very serious issue. Would that be an issue for you? Is that an area of great concern for you? Would that be incentive for you to work to improve these percentages? I'm not so worried about landlords. Landlords usually have a place to live. What about those kids? You talk about balances; clearly there's an imbalance here. Can you tell me the kind of priority you would expect to give these sorts of situations, given that children and accommodation for children are some of the issues here?
Ms Keleher: Again, though, an adjudicator can only apply the legislation as it's written, follow the regulations and the rules that have been established by this Legislature. Of course, since I had my initial interview, I have been extremely mindful of the responsibility of the position. Indeed it is a very sobering thought to have the authority to deprive an individual of the roof over his or her head, over his or her children's heads. Of course that is sobering. It is sobering as well to have the ability to take the livelihood out of an individual's pocket. One must be mindful of that at all times, but one still must apply the law as it is written, and I am at heart a believer in the rule of law; if the law is wrong, the legislators change it.
Mrs Dombrowsky: Just one final point: I would never suggest that you would not abide by the law and the direction that is given. The point I am trying to make is that when you consider your workload and where the backlog is, the backlog is affecting children. Where improvements have been made, it's not the same. The landlords have actually had a decrease in the backlog of eviction applications, but on the other side there has been a significant and overwhelming increase. What I was hoping to hear was that you thought that was a serious issue that needed to be addressed.
The Chair: Mr Bartolucci.
Mr Bartolucci: How many minutes do I have?
The Chair: You have two minutes.
Mr Bartolucci: Then I'll leave the political stuff. Have you ever been a candidate for the PCs?
Ms Keleher: No.
Mr Bartolucci: Did you ever manage a campaign?
Ms Keleher: No.
Mr Bartolucci: Are you a member of the Cornerstone Club?
Ms Keleher: I'm sorry, I don't even know what that is.
Mr Bartolucci: Oh, really. You haven't made the elite payment crew yet. You will.
Now I think we'll go into the legislation. You're certainly a very knowledgeable lady. Where are the weaknesses in this legislation, as you see them?
Ms Keleher: I have read the legislation. I must admit I have not studied the legislation, so I can't really comment on the strengths and weaknesses of it. I can, however, say that with any legislation, one looks at the intent of the legislation when it is passed, which in this case is to streamline and simplify the process and so on.
The legislation isn't going to be much good, any legislation, if it's not periodically reviewed. Situations change and circumstances change, and there has to be a periodic review to see if the legislation still meets its intent. I can't comment on this specific piece.
Mr Bartolucci: You would be prepared, then, to write a letter to the minister outlining the weaknesses you find in the legislation as you apply this appointment over the next several years?
Ms Keleher: I think the process would be to express my concerns to the chair, who would communicate with the minister.
Mr Bartolucci: That's great. Thanks.
The Chair: Thank you kindly. That completes the questioning, and we hope you have enjoyed your experience here today.
Ms Keleher: I have indeed.
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Doug Holyday, intended appointee as member, Ontario Housing Corp board of directors.
The Chair: Our next appointment is Mr Doug Holyday. If you have a statement that you wish to begin with, you may have that, sir, or we can go right to questions.
Mr Doug Holyday: I might make a brief statement just to explain a bit about myself, for people who are not familiar with me. I was the former mayor of the city of Etobicoke, actually the last mayor of the city of Etobicoke prior to amalgamation. I've been on the Etobicoke council and the city of Toronto council now for 15 years. I served four years in Etobicoke as chair of the board of health. I have, I guess, chaired every standing committee we had in Etobicoke. I have been involved in most aspects of life out there, including tenants and tenant situations, and I'm pleased to be asked to be considered for this position.
The Chair: We'll begin with the government as we go around the rotation.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Chair: Mr Wood has waived the time on behalf of the government, so we'll go to the official opposition.
Mr Bartolucci: I'd just ask a few very general questions with regard to downloading. Are you satisfied that the downloading exercise for the city you used to be the mayor of has been successful?
Mr Holyday: You always hear about downloading and you never hear about uploading. There is a significant cost removed from municipalities as a result of amalgamation, and I guess there were large savings to be derived from it. Reports put forward by myself and the other mayors of the day, Metro council, David Crombie, Anne Golden-and the province itself did a consultant's report-all showed that there was in the neighbourhood of $300 million to $400 million worth of savings in amalgamation.
The city of Toronto to this point has achieved $136 million, which I guess is significant, but it's not in the range of what was expected. I think part of the reason for that is that we've incurred a lot of expenditures that weren't there prior to amalgamation, some as a result of amalgamation but a lot that are just new expenditures that this new group has taken on themselves. I'm not totally sure, if you've done that and incurred all these expenditures, that you then should be blaming others for not having enough money to pay all your bills.
I suggested that perhaps a meeting of some councillors and some government and opposition people might solve this problem without dragging it out through the media, but the mayor hasn't taken my suggestion at this time.
Mr Bartolucci: Have you seen in your own community-the reason I ask is that Sudbury is undergoing, albeit on a smaller scale, amalgamation, and everyone in the municipality is optimistic that there will be substantial savings. History is telling us that it was nice rhetoric but it's not reality. But I'm always interested in services, because I believe politicians serve people, not institutions or philosophies. Has the level of services increased in Etobicoke? Your personal opinion only.
Mr Holyday: I think in some ways it has. In most ways, though, it has remained exactly the same, and I'm quite confident that if we were allowed to continue as Etobicoke, our tax increase would have been zero. As a matter of fact, because we were going down the road to efficiencies, I think we even might have been able to reduce taxes. But amalgamation is something that has been going on since day one, like, hundreds of years ago.
I grew up in Long Branch in south Etobicoke, and it was its own little community, along with New Toronto and Mimico. We all had our own mayors and reeves and so on. In 1967, the province amalgamated us with the city of Etobicoke. At that time, my parents and others who had lived there all our lives looked down on that as negative. But in retrospect, when you look back on it, those little cities couldn't have existed in the situation that has occurred here, and it would have been terribly difficult to govern, with all these little mayors and things in Leaside and Swansea and all over the place, including our three on the lakeshore, trying to run this area. So I think amalgamation is just a fact of life and it has been happening in other areas throughout the world, and it will continue to happen here. I would suggest in your area that people would try to look on it positively and make the most of it.
Mr Bartolucci: OK. Thanks very much, Doug.
Mrs Dombrowsky: Mr Holyday, good morning. The Ontario Housing Corp is in the process of selling off a good deal of its housing stock. Do you think this is a good idea, given the fact that in Ontario there is a serious shortage of affordable housing?
Mr Holyday: I think it's not affordable housing you're talking about; you're talking about subsidized housing, I believe.
Mrs Dombrowsky: To make it affordable for low-income people.
Mr Holyday: Well, the term "affordable housing" has its own definition. I think the Ontario housing stock is a subsidized form of affordable housing, if you like, for people who are of low income. I think there is always going to be a shortage of that because there are always going to be people who would like to have help in paying their living costs.
One of the situations that occurs is that the more of it that you have and the easier it is to get, the more people will come here from Sudbury and other places where maybe they don't have the finances to be able to create the stock that we might be able to create here. So we have to be careful that we're balancing this in the right way. I don't think we want to be the housing solution for the entire country or the continent or the world.
Mrs Dombrowsky: They're selling it all over Ontario, though, not just in Toronto.
Mr Holyday: Yes. Well, perhaps some of that is warranted. I really don't know enough about the workings of the Ontario Housing Corp to know exactly where the breaking line is there.
Mrs Dombrowsky: You are aware as well that the province is in the process of downloading the responsibility of managing Ontario housing to the municipalities. I represent a part of rural eastern Ontario, and the concern I'm hearing from municipalities in my riding, and I know it's a concern within the more urban centres, is that the Ontario Housing Corp is unloading its more valuable stock. That's a perception that has come to me. Municipalities are perceiving that some of the better stock is being liquidated and what's going to come to them is of less value. That's a concern to them. Do you think that's a valid issue?
Mr Holyday: If that's their perception, I think we should try to deal with perception and what is reality.
Mrs Dombrowsky: Do you think there should be some conversation with the municipalities in terms of determining which housing units would be sold and which would be downloaded?
Mr Holyday: I'm sure the government is always open to input, though I don't speak for the government.
Mrs Dombrowsky: But as a member of the corporation, do you think that would be reasonable?
Mr Holyday: I think Who Does What is one of the reports that suggested this type of handling of Ontario housing. I think one of the difficulties with municipalities wanting things that are paid for by other levels of government is that there is no end to what they want, as long as they're not paying.
Mrs Dombrowsky: I don't think they want them. They're being told they're getting them.
Mr Holyday: No, but they want new buildings and they want more housing in their area. But it's not they who are paying; it's the other levels of government that are paying. So when something happens that way, it's the same with us individually: if someone else is looking after your expenditures, it seems that you're wanting more than maybe you would if you were paying yourself.
Mrs Dombrowsky: With regard to the units that are being sold, should those revenues go into the general revenue of the province or should those revenues be returned to the municipality where the unit is being sold? Because the municipality will now have the responsibility of maintaining and accepting the debt load of those other units that they will be receiving from the province.
Mr Holyday: I'm afraid I don't know enough about that issue to really give you a fair comment. I'd have to have more information than just a couple of sentences at this time to be able to say what's fair and what's not fair.
Mrs Dombrowsky: And what is the role of the Ontario Housing Corp once this housing stock has been downloaded? What will it be?
Mr Holyday: That won't be up to me to decide, I don't think. It will probably be a government decision, and I'm not sure how they'll make it or what the decision will be.
Mrs Dombrowsky: That will be all my questions, Mr Chair.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We will now move to Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: Right off the top, I find disturbing, given the appointment that we're considering here today for you at the Ontario Housing Corp, your lack of understanding of the issue of affordability and the fact that there's a whole whack of people out there who, no matter how you cut it or describe it, are having a difficult time affording decent housing for themselves.
I also find disturbing your comment re Toronto providing housing for the rest of the province. Anybody who's come from places like Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury to Toronto looking for affordable housing is sleeping on grates and in bus shelters. It seems to me that a government taking its responsibility seriously and an Ontario Housing Corp taking its responsibility seriously would be coming up with answers other than the selling off of some of the only units that are still out there available at an affordable rate for people.
Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the Conservative Party?
Mr Holyday: Oh yes, I am.
Mr Martin: And you've donated to candidates who've-
Mr Holyday: Many times.
Mr Martin: Have you been following the government's plan to sell off scattered units of housing across this province? Other than what you've already shared with us, what's your understanding of that program, why that's happening and what the thought behind it is?
Mr Holyday: I would like to comment on your opening question, which really was in the form of a statement. A large part of the problem that we have here with finances in this province is due, as you know, to your government. You remember, your government decided they were going to try to spend their way out of the recession, and you remember what a horrible mistake that was and what a debt we've incurred in this province as a result of it. I guess it's taken this government since 1995 now to try and get government running as a business and try to remove that debt so that we're not paying a third of our tax dollars in just maintaining payments to a bank somewhere.
Those problems are troublesome. Every government has a philosophy and they have a way of doing things, and when they're not in power then they're entitled to be critical, as you are. I think we shouldn't be allowing people to sleep on our grates here in the city of Toronto, for one thing. That's not done in a lot of areas and a lot of people only come here because we do allow it. The squeegee situation is a perfect example. We allowed squeegeeing to go on here for far too long and we attracted them. I've been out in the streets with the Salvation Army and other groups dealing with these people, and what I found was that most of them, well over half of them anyway, aren't even from Toronto. They come here because they'll accept a certain standard of living. It's not a very high standard of living, but they can gather enough money by doing squeegeeing and so on to buy what they need to have fun and maybe feed themselves and so on. But because we allow this thing to exist, they just come here. I think it's not right and it's really unfortunate that we've got ourselves in this situation.
Mr Martin: To follow up on some of your comments, I suggest to you that some of the spending we did between 1990 and 1995 was because we were in the worst recession that this province has dealt with since probably the Great Depression. We chose, as a government, to have a heart and to not just throw people out on the street and cut programs and do away with health care and education, the kinds of things that all Ontarians and Canadians came to accept as part of the civil society they built together.
We have a government now that is living in some of the more lucrative times, with wealth being generated at a level that's historically unprecedented, and yet at this time we have 55,000 people waiting for affordable housing. We have a program that the government has announced that will deal with perhaps 5,000 of those folks. You don't see that the government has a responsibility, that the corporation you will be part of has a responsibility to perhaps challenge some of the thinking, as I suggested before and maybe you can comment on it, that we not sell off some of the housing we have now that we can provide at an affordable level and try to take care of some people in these very lucrative and good times?
Mr Holyday: I didn't mean to indicate that your government didn't have a heart. I think your government had a heart all right; it's the mind, I guess, that I take a look at. What happened, even though it was with the best of intentions, was that trying to spend your way out of the recession simply made matters worse by then taking millions of dollars out of the system simply to pay interest on a debt. So that's money that can't go toward helping the very problem you were trying to solve by spending the money in the first place. I think that was very wrong and that has put this government in the position of then trying to rectify the problem. I guess sometimes when you have to rectify a problem you might have to do things that seem harsh, particularly to the people who don't think the way you think. Unfortunately, we can't be all things to all people. We would very much like to be in a position to pay the bills for the less fortunate in every way, shape and form, but that isn't possible and so we have to manage our affairs in an efficient, cost-effective way.
Mr Martin: We can't be all things to all people, but we can be all things to some people, where it seems to be OK by this government to take some of the money that is now being generated by way of some of the taxation policy that's in place and turn it over to the very rich in our community and leave some 55,000 people on waiting lists for some form of social or public housing. That's OK with you. It's OK with you that we should, as well as that, sell off some of the stock that the government now has at its disposal to provide to some of these folks. Heart, head, it doesn't matter: the reality at the end of the day is that you have people sleeping on the grates of Toronto, you have 55,000 people out there waiting for some form of social or public housing, and this government isn't willing to do anything about that. As a matter of fact, they're putting in place some programs by way of the sell-off of these scattered units that are going to exacerbate that situation. Is that OK by you?
Mr Holyday: Mr Martin, for some reason you seem to think that I'm here to defend the government and-
Mr Martin: That's what you're doing.
Mr Holyday: -that's my position here today. It isn't my position here to defend the government. These gentlemen over here can defend themselves, I'm sure.
Mr Martin: That's my job.
Mr Holyday: But you did open up with your opening statements-and I would suggest to you that you did that in a way right off the bat-to put me in a position of trying to defend the government. I gave you what I thought was my honest answer to what you had stated and what caused the problem in the first place and the position that the government finds itself in today to try to deal with the problem. You and I could probably disagree about that for a long time, but I don't think that's very helpful in you determining whether or not I am qualified or should be a member of this committee that I'm here for today.
Mr Martin: Actually, this has been one of the more helpful discussions that I've had with some of the folks who are proposed for appointment in that we've certainly wasted no time in getting to where you're coming from and what your philosophic stance is going to be in terms of this corporation and your willingness or ability to challenge some of the initiatives of this government. So I have no further questions, Mr Chair.
The Chair: That completes the questions from members of the committee. Thank you very much, Mr Holyday, for appearing before the committee.
Mr Holyday: My pleasure.
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Gerald Nori, intended appointee as member, Cancer Care Ontario.
The Chair: The next scheduled individual to appear before the committee was the selection of the third party: Mr Gerald Nori, intended appointee as member, Cancer Care Ontario. As I'm moving in rotation around this way, I will be starting with the official opposition. But first of all I'll ask Mr Nori to come forward. Mr Nori, you are permitted to make an opening statement to the committee, should you see fit-that is the procedure we follow-and then there are 10 minutes of questions available from each of the parties, except the government party, which has perhaps fewer minutes because of opening statements.
Mr Gerald Nori: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. By way of opening statement, I presume you have my curriculum vitae in front of you. You'll probably see that I've had a very heavy commitment to community activity over the years. I won't bore you by going into everything I have been involved in, in the city of Sault Ste Marie and elsewhere, but there are some things I'm a little proud of that I might mention, such as my involvement with Algoma University College. For eight years I was chairman of the university, and recently have been serving on the foundation of that university. We're pretty proud of it and we're working very hard to establish that institution as a meaningful and important segment of the economy of the city of Sault Ste Marie.
Tantamount to that-it doesn't appear on here-I was very proud of the fact that I was awarded the designation of "friend of Algoma University" by the senate of that institution at the convocation which was held in June of this year, along with my co-designee at that time, the former Minister of Colleges and Universities in the Peterson government, the Honourable Greg Sorbara, and it gave me a little bit of a chance to meet with Greg, whom I hadn't seen for some time. I actually hadn't seen him since the days when there had been some activity at the university level by the Peterson government in connection with funding for Algoma University College, which was an extremely important factor in the survival of the institution.
I also, as you probably have seen, was awarded the city of Sault Marie Medal of Merit in 1991, and I guess that was in recognition of some of the things I had done in the past in the city and elsewhere.
The other thing I'm rather proud of is the fact that I was the chairman of the first community futures committee in the city of Sault Ste Marie. That was back in the 80s when the city went through a very trying time, when Algoma Steel laid off some 3,000 people and the city was undergoing an extremely difficult unemployment factor and there was great concern about diversification of the economy. It was at that point, as chairman of that community futures committee, that I came to the conclusion that not only is health care an important element within the community for the purpose of being available to the people within that community for treatment, but it is also an extremely important matter from the point of view of being an industry, and an important piece of infrastructure in the community for the purpose of attracting diversified industry.
I've had an ongoing interest in both education and health care, bot from the point of view of the providing of services in what is a remote community-you know, I think people lose sight of the fact that this is a very large province. The city of Sault Ste Marie is situated some 500 miles northwest of the city of Toronto. It takes eight hours to drive here; it takes an hour and a half to fly here. It's a very expensive proposition. The airfare now between Sault Ste Marie and the city of Toronto is $765 a round trip. If a trip to Toronto means travelling from the airport to downtown and maybe an overnight stay, it will eat up the better part of $1,200.
Industrial diversification and treatment, and availability of infrastructure in northern Ontario, and particularly in the Sault Ste Marie area, is a matter I'm extremely concerned with, and I'm certainly not alone in that. I know that Tony Martin, as the member, has shared that view with me over the years and is extremely concerned and I think would share and agree with the objective I've just outlined.
Having said that, I'm not very eloquent but, nevertheless, I think it gives you an idea of what I'm all about.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Nori. We'll begin with the official opposition.
Mr Bartolucci: Mr Nori, I hope you had a good flight down.
Mr Nori: It was a very peaceful flight.
Mr Bartolucci: Good. You were able to relax, then.
Mr Nori: Expensive but peaceful.
Mr Bartolucci: We'll talk about the expense of being a volunteer a little later on in our 10-minute discussion together.
There are just a few housekeeping matters to get out of the way. Have you ever been a candidate for the federal or provincial PCs?
Mr Nori: Yes, I was.
Mr Bartolucci: Were you a past president of PC Ontario?
Mr Nori: Yes, I was, of the PC Party of Ontario during the Davis years.
Mr Bartolucci: And you are a member of the Cornerstone Club?
Mr Nori: Yes, I am.
Mr Bartolucci: How much does that cost you a year?
Mr Nori: Five hundred dollars.
Mr Bartolucci: That's all out of the way now. Let's talk about cancer issues. I see in one of the pieces of paper I have about you that you were a member of the Northeastern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre board.
Mr Nori: I was for a while. I didn't really attend very many meetings.
Mr Bartolucci: How many meetings did you attend?
Mr Nori: I don't think I attended any.
Mr Bartolucci: How many did you miss? All of them?
Mr Nori: I have no idea.
Mr Bartolucci: Who asked you to be on the board?
Mr Nori: It was Gerry Lougheed.
Mr Bartolucci: Gerry Loughheed Jr?
Mr Nori: That's right.
Mr Bartolucci: The former chair of Northeastern?
Mr Nori: That's right.
Mr Bartolucci: What's your relationship with Dr Wahl in the Soo?
Mr Nori: Only to the extent that I've met him a couple of times and I know him to talk to, being that he is an oncologist. I can't say I know him on a personal level.
Mr Bartolucci: You haven't discussed cancer issues with him at all?
Mr Nori: Not with him personally, but I have with Manu Malkani, who is the president of the hospital.
Mr Bartolucci: There's been lots of talk about health care apartheid with regard to cancer patients. You're familiar with the issue?
Mr Nori: I'm familiar with the issue; not totally immersed in it, but certainly what I've read in the papers, and I've talked to the odd-in fact, I talked to Gerry Lougheed about it.
Mr Bartolucci: Quite extensively, I'm sure, because Gerry is very vocal and very passionate about this.
Mr Nori: There's no question.
Mr Bartolucci: Do you agree with him?
Mr Nori: I certainly agree from the point of view that if there's an inequity in the manner in which people in northern Ontario are treated relative to cancer care from those in southern Ontario, that inequity has to be corrected.
Mr Bartolucci: You've heard both sides of the argument, Mr Nori. You've heard it from the government. You heard what their explanation for this health care apartheid is re referral. You've heard Gerry Lougheed's side, the side of the people of northern Ontario. In fact, an Oracle poll would tell you it's the side of the people of Ontario. I want from you your opinion: is this government practising health care apartheid in the province of Ontario when it comes to dealing with cancer patients?
Mr Nori: Mr Bartolucci, you're asking me for an opinion that I can't give at this point by virtue of the fact that I'm not totally familiar with the program. It's an opinion I would rather reserve and give after I immerse myself in the affairs of Cancer Care Ontario. If, as I've said, there is an inequity-I've always been a northerner. I've lived in the north all my life. I have a great affection and concern for northern matters and infrastructure. I can assure you that if there is any inequity in that program, I will work diligently to see that that inequity is corrected. But to give an opinion based upon what little I do know at this point would not be the appropriate thing to do.
Mr Bartolucci: I think you know a lot more than you're letting on you know, but I'll respect your right not to form an opinion.
Let me give you an example, please. I'm going to give you an example I've raised in the House of a person in Sudbury, that the minister knows about, that is public. I have the Sault Ste Marie article-and I'm sure you read it in the papers you said you read. Janice Skinner has to travel 400 kilometres from a little place outside of Sudbury, Capreol, to Toronto. She gets 30.4 cents a kilometre one way. Mary, from Toronto, has to travel north the 400 kilometres, the same distance. She gets return airfare-and you talked about that-she gets full accommodation at a hotel and she gets full meals covered. Janice Skinner gets one-way treatment, one-way transportation costs only; Mary from Toronto gets full expenses covered. Is that right?
Mr Nori: On the surface, it would appear to be inequitable. Again, Mr Bartolucci, I'd like to know all of the factors involved in that circumstance before I ever pass an opinion. Certainly on the surface there would appear to be an inequity.
I believe that there's an inequity generally on the basis that I happen to believe very fervently that one of the mandates of Cancer Care Ontario is accessibility, and it's going to be, in my opinion, a lot cheaper to move patients to the facilities than try to duplicate facilities throughout the whole of northern Ontario, having regard to the vast distances involved. So the whole issue of travel and availability of facilities is something that I'm going to have a keen interest in.
Mr Bartolucci: The only difference between Janice and Mary is that Janice can't get treated in Sudbury for her cancer, so she was referred to Toronto. Mary from Toronto, because of the massive waiting lists, was re-referred to Sudbury. That's the only difference. Knowing that's the only difference, do you believe that policy is correct?
Mr Nori: Again, I must repeat myself: I don't think that I would like to pass opinion without knowing a lot more about the travel programs relative to cancer care in Ontario than I do at this point. I have great respect for the media, but on the other hand, I'd like to know the facts from the source. One of the things I would like to do is to study the travel program if I do become a member.
Mr Bartolucci: You didn't study it before coming here?
Mr Nori: No, I have not. I have had very little discussion with anybody concerning the position, other than I did speak very briefly to Dr Shumak, who is, I believe, the president of Cancer Care Ontario, who did call me to give me an idea of what the time commitment might be.
Mr Bartolucci: And he explained the referral and re-referral program to you at that time?
Mr Nori: Yes, he did.
Mr Bartolucci: Then you know the only difference is one was referred and the other is re-referred. Do you think that the treatment of cancer should be dependent on a word, a prefix, "re," when we talk about referral for cancer treatment?
Mr Nori: Mr Bartolucci, I'm repeating myself when I say that based upon the example that you've given me, there would appear to be an inequity, but I would reserve my opinion in that regard until I know a lot more than I do now.
Mr Bartolucci: Are you prepared then, once you've studied the issue-and as a northerner you will clearly see very, very soon into your appointment that there is an inequity and an imbalance and in fact discrimination-to stand up and say that publicly?
Mr Nori: Let me put it this way: I have always been very sensitive to inequities that exist in northern Ontario, whether they're in health care, education or whatever field they might be in. I can assure you that if there is an inequity, I will do everything within my power to see that it's corrected, because I am a native northern Ontarian. I was born there, lived there all my life. I would like to have taken my law there, but unfortunately that wasn't possible. So you can be assured that my loyalties lie north of Steeles Avenue, if that's northern Ontario; I'm not sure. There are a lot of people in southern Ontario who-
Mr Bartolucci: It's moving south all the time because there happens to be a pot that southerners want to tap into.
Mr Nori: I don't know what it is, but I'm given to understand that Muskoka now is in northern Ontario.
Mr Bartolucci: I'd like to just go back again. You're taking Gerry Lougheed Jr's spot. Correct?
Mr Nori: Yes, I am.
Mr Bartolucci: So you will assume the chair of the northeastern region?
Mr Nori: I'm given to understand that is what it's to be.
Mr Bartolucci: So you will be the chair?
Mr Nori: Well, I'm not sure, to be honest with you, Mr Bartolucci. Nobody has said to me that I will be the chair. The appointment, as I understand it, is to Cancer Care Ontario, to the board. Now whether I become automatically the chair for northeastern Ontario, I really don't know.
Mr Bartolucci: Well, past history, as you know, has been that in order to be a chair of a particular region you have to be a member of the board of Cancer Care Ontario.
Mr Nori: You're telling me something I didn't know.
Mr Bartolucci: Now, you see, they're replacing Gerry Lougheed with two people. The first one to come before the committee is Gerry Nori. The second person who will be coming before the committee at some time is Jim Ashcroft from Sudbury. I want to know which one is going to be the chair.
Mr Nori: I really don't know. I don't think that's something I can answer. Nobody has said to me that I will automatically be the chair.
Mr Bartolucci: Will you accept the chair if it's offered to you?
Mr Nori: If it were offered to me, I would accept it, yes.
Let me say this to you: I've known Gerry Lougheed for many years. I have worked with him on projects. I admire Gerry Lougheed. He's a good fellow and I know that he's worked very, very hard in the interests of Sudbury. As a matter of fact, when I was asked to go on Cancer Care Ontario, I called Gerry to tell him that. I don't want to get involved in a fight at this point over this issue until I know a lot more about it. But I can assure you, if there are any inequities, I'll be there.
Mr Bartolucci: Good.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your questions. We're out of time. We'll now go to the third party.
Mr Martin: I'm not going to go over ground that's already been covered. Just suffice it to say that we were the party to ask for you to come forward today, to appear before us, not that I have any doubt that you will do a good job and bring the same integrity to this position that you've brought to so many of the other positions that you've taken in our community and across Algoma over the time that I've been in this job. We've worked together on issues, to some, I think, resolution that spoke to the benefit of our area. I am, until shown otherwise, convinced that you will continue to act in that way, that you will continue to have the kind of passion for our area and this issue that you've had in other instances.
The reason, though, that we brought you before the committee was to put on the table again, as we have over a number of months now, our very real concern about health care where northern Ontario is concerned: the cost to families and individuals because of the travel that has to occur; the lack of resources to make sure that we have the specialists we need and that they're as close to home as possible; and in the instance of cancer care, the now obvious discrimination that's going on, which I share with Mr Bartolucci is actually a circumstance of discrimination, where the north is not being treated similarly to the south where accessing cancer care is concerned. I'm sure that once you're into it and you get to see it and understand it, you will come to some of the same positions as Mr Lougheed, whom you've indicated you know. Mr Lougheed took a certain tack. Ultimately, I believe that Mr Lougheed worked as hard as he could, pushed the envelope to its limits within the system to try and make changes and have improvements happen and bring resources to the table. You obviously will have an opportunity to decide yourself what tack you will take.
Given Mr Lougheed's experience and where he has ended up-in fact, Mr Lougheed is not the only one who has ended up out of a position. The chair of the district health council in Sudbury when this government was first elected challenged the government-I forget his name-
Mr Bartolucci: Bob Knight.
Mr Martin: -and he lost his job because he came to an understanding that was different from the government's, pushed too hard and was replaced by somebody else.
I guess my question to you, Gerry, in light of the very challenging circumstance that you now move into, is, what thought have you given to what your approach will be and how you might deal with this very difficult circumstance in the interests of not only northern Ontario but in particular, being parochial, Sault Ste Marie? I think Sault Ste Marie presents as one of the communities in the north that has particular challenges because of the distance. It's three hours from Sudbury and many of our major health possibilities are there. We're as far from Thunder Bay as we are from Toronto. So it presents some unique challenges to the Sault as well.
Mr Nori: Tony, let me say this to you: This is an issue-I don't know if I can. See, I'm a cancer survivor myself and I had to face the difficult choice of either taking radiation in Sudbury for six weeks for five minutes a day, because the Sault is so far away, as you've said, from Sudbury that you can't do it on a commute basis, or to be operated on. So the availability of cancer care in northeastern Ontario is something that has struck me very, very close. You can be assured, if there are any inequities, be it in travel or in the availability of facilities, that I'm going to be there. I will do whatever I can to see that those inequities are corrected.
Mr Martin: Just to follow up on some comment you made a little earlier, Gerry-I appreciate how difficult this can be when it's so personal-you know that Dr Wahl in Sault Ste Marie has been, in some people's experience, right up there with Mother Teresa.
Mr Nori: And well he should be.
Mr Martin: Just recently, for the very first time, he has raised the prospect of not being able to service the people he wants to serve in the Soo because of the lack of resources. The time it's taking to put in place the bunker that has been promised for Sault Ste Marie-you mentioned earlier that your preference would be to put all the resources in one place and have people travel as opposed to trying to-
Mr Nori: Only where it's economical to do that. At this point in time we're fortunate in the Soo because we have an oncology unit and we have the infrastructure to support a bunker. But that's not something we're going to put in every community, I would think, within reason. But the bunker in Sault Ste Marie is going to make it a lot easier for people in Wawa to access treatment than going to Sudbury. Travel is still going to be inevitable because you can't put a bunker in Wawa, you can't put a bunker in Chapleau, but where facilities are warranted and can be supported by the infrastructure that's there, then that's where they should go. But that's not going to be possible on a practical or financial level, I would think, to the extent that we'd like to see it happen.
Mr Martin: If it makes sense that that bunker go in Sault Ste Marie and that other resources are absolutely required and necessary in order for the people of northern Ontario to have the same access as the people in southern Ontario, and it turns out that it's a question of resources and this government isn't willing to put forward the resources that are required-perhaps this is a redundant question-are you going to be willing to stand up and say, "We need these resources, we have to have these resources, and unless we get those resources, I guess at the end of the day"-
Mr Nori: Again, Tony, my primary loyalty is to northern Ontario, and if it means being confrontational with the government I support, then I'm prepared to be that. That doesn't worry me.
Mr Martin: OK. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Members of the government.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Chair: Mr Wood has indicated that he'll waive the government time. That you very much, Mr Nori, for appearing before the committee.
What I'm going to ask now, before we adjourn for lunch, because there are three more people who are to be intended appointees, beginning at 1:30 pm, is that we have a meeting of the steering committee. Mr Wood, you wanted to speak to that.
Mr Wood: I'm wondering, Mr Chair, if we might deal with the concurrences from this morning right now.
The Chair: If you wish. Would the committee wish to deal with concurrences from this morning? That's fine. The suggestion is accepted by the committee.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Leach.
The Chair: It is moved by Mr Wood that the intended appointee, Mr Leach, be approved by the committee. First of all, any comments from members of the committee?
Mr Martin: I have to put on the record that I was quite concerned re Mr Leach's response to the question of the positioning of the police association and his lack of understanding that the police role, the job they carry out, is a very sensitive one and quite different, in my view, from that of a teacher or a public servant of another nature. That he doesn't seem to understand that worries me to the point where I won't be able, on behalf of my caucus, to support that appointment this morning, Mr Chair.
The Chair: Thank you. Any other comments from anyone else on the committee? If there are no further comments, I'll put the motion forward at the present time.
All in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Mr Wood: Mr Chair, I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Ms Keleher.
The Chair: Any discussion of that appointment of Ms Keleher from any member of the committee?
If there is not, all in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Mr Wood: Mr Chair, I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Holyday.
The Chair: Any comments about Mr Holyday's appointment? Mr Martin.
Mr Martin: I can't understand why the government would be moving so obviously in this instance to appoint somebody to a board who lacks any understanding of or empathy for the question of affordable housing and what that means.
We've seen over the last few years a move away from the provision of housing to those who can't afford the extraordinary increase we've seen in the cost of housing across this province, but particularly in Toronto, where the larger number of people live. To be further exacerbating that whole issue by appointing somebody who obviously doesn't understand what that means, nor supports in any significant way the need for any level of government-and I was surprised as well to hear him, particularly because of his political affiliation, not understand that whether it's federal, provincial or municipal, it's the same taxpayer. We're told that over and over again in the Legislature, as you know. We are reminded that it's the same taxpayer. To suggest that one level of government's trying to get money out of another level of government to pay for programs they can't afford isn't really in effect simply taking money that is in the first place coming from that same geographic jurisdiction anyway leaves me somewhat bewildered.
To suggest that calling for a senior level of government that obviously has more money in its pot to help out with some challenges faced by a more junior, less wealthy level of government is less than responsible is another concern I have. Some of the inferences to municipal governments perhaps not being as accountable or responsible or as well-heeled as perhaps a provincial level of government, particularly if it's Conservative, seem to me to be not in keeping with the sort of hands-off, third-party-distance role of an authority such as the one he is being considered for appointment to here this morning.
It's with all that in mind that I will not be lending the support of our caucus to this appointment here this morning.
The Chair: Any other discussion? If not, all in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Mr Wood: Mr Chair, I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Nori.
The Chair: It is moved by Mr Wood that the committee approve Gerald Nori, the intended appointee as member, Cancer Care Ontario. Any discussion?
Mr Bartolucci: I won't be supporting the motion. The reason I won't be supporting the motion is because I believe anyone from northern Ontario who has any type of passion when it comes to cancer would be aware of the health care apartheid that is taking place in this province, would be up to speed on it, would have certainly without question been informed if in fact that commitment to cancer care was there. I also suggest to you that he has a past history of being on a board dealing with cancer issues in northern Ontario and failed to make one of the meetings. There's absolutely no question that if it's a puppet you want, you're getting half a puppet in Mr Nori, and we will probably be dealing with the other half when he comes before this committee. I cannot support Mr Nori.
Mr Martin: I'll be supporting the appointment of Mr Nori for a couple of reasons, initially putting on the record that I share the same very serious concern about the delivery of cancer care in northern Ontario that Mr Bartolucci does and that has been put on the record by some of my own colleagues, Ms Martel in particular. It is a very grave circumstance that we face up there. It gets more grave with each day that goes by. It was unfortunate that a champion of the integrity and stature of Mr Lougheed would be let go simply because he challenged the direction of the present government and minister.
However, if we're going to go down a road of trying to bring somebody to the table who perhaps has a few more connections, who may have a bit more influence and in fact combines that with an integrity that I have experienced in Mr Nori over not just 10 years-I did things with Mr Nori before I got the position of MPP for Sault Ste Marie, in my role as trustee with separate school board, and know of his work ethic and his love for and commitment to Sault Ste Marie and northern Ontario. I don't think you can separate those in him. You can in others, and we've seen it over the last few years with this government, but I don't think that's going to happen in this instance.
If we're going to take a different tack, which is to perhaps work in a different way with this government to get the resources that we need to do away with the discrimination that's there now, the two levels of service, and we're going to be effective in that, I suggest that you probably couldn't have chosen somebody who will be-if he brings the same level of commitment and compassion and dedication to this that he has in some of the instances that I've seen him operate and work with, he will in fact do that job.
With that very real concern put on the table that something needs to be done, that this government needs to move aggressively and immediately to resolve some of the issues that are obviously on the table where cancer care apartheid is concerned, where the north is concerned, that we need to get somebody at the table who has-I suppose, because Mr Lougheed obviously wasn't able to change the circumstance of the situation-some connections and who perhaps can use those connections to the best and the good end of health care and cancer care in northern Ontario, then Mr Nori will do that. If he doesn't, certainly there are many of us who interact with him on a regular basis who will be challenging him, reminding him and making it public if that's not the case. However, I anticipate that we won't have to do that and that Mr Nori will work with this government to make sure that circumstance is corrected and that we get the resources we need in northern Ontario to take care of those people we know and love and who are our family members and neighbours. I will be supporting this appointment.
The Chair: We have the motion before the committee. All in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
After lunch, we will reconvene at 1:30. I'm going to ask Mrs Dombrowsky to take the chair at that time because I-
Mrs Dombrowsky: I can't take the chair.
The Chair: You will not? We will resolve who is going to take the chair after 1:30 today.
Anyway, I will adjourn this portion of the meeting and ask that a representative of each party be present for a meeting of the steering committee.
The committee recessed from 1150 to 1334.
The Acting Chair (Mr Bob Wood): Ladies and gentlemen, I call the committee to order. As a result of a meeting the subcommittee had earlier today, the meeting which was originally scheduled for mid-August has now been postponed by agreement to August 29. So, unless there are unexpected developments, the next meeting of the committee will be on Tuesday, August 29.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Michael Rohrer, intended appointee as member, Assessment Review Board.
The Acting Chair: The next intended appointee to be reviewed is Mr Michael Rohrer, who I believe is with us. Mr Rohrer, if you would like to come forward. If you wish, you may make a presentation to the committee. If you do not wish to do so, we'll proceed immediately to questions. Did you wish to make a presentation?
Mr Michael Rohrer: Yes, please.
The Acting Chair: Please go ahead.
Mr Rohrer: Good afternoon. I'm pleased to be here today to answer questions you may have regarding my pending appointment to the Assessment Review Board. Currently, I am a real estate appraiser with Gorski and Associates in the city of Windsor. I've been practising real estate for a total of three years and have been a member of the Appraisal Institute of Canada since 1994. During my appraisal career, I have completed real estate valuations on various real properties such as residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial, and more unique properties such as island properties, conservation properties, and recently an Indian reserve.
I have completed the educational component and practical component for the CRA designation, or certified residential appraiser. Currently, I'm enrolled in a distance degree program called real property appraisal and assessment from St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. This program is the only degree program offered in Canada that focuses in on property assessment. In fact, many people enrolled in the program are employees of assessment offices across Canada. Upon completion of this program, from which I am four credits away, I will have finished the educational component to an AACI designation, or accredited appraiser, Canadian Institute, which is the highest real estate appraisal designation in Canada.
I obtained my bachelor of arts degree from the University of Windsor, with focus on political science and commerce. I have owned and operated several small businesses and have been active in several church and community organizations.
My wife, Diane, and I reside outside the city of Windsor in the town of Tecumseh and have been there for the past two and a half years.
I look forward to your questions and I thank you for this opportunity.
The Acting Chair ( Mr Steve Gilchrist): Thank you, Mr Rohrer. That does afford us an opportunity for questions from each caucus. We'll start with the official opposition. I beg your pardon. I was just corrected by the clerk where we left off last time. Mr Martin will start the rotation.
Mr Martin: Mr Rohrer, I'm aware of your connections with the Conservative Party and your support of Mr Long in the Alliance leadership. You must be somewhat disappointed that he didn't go further than he did, or perhaps you're happy with Mr Day, seemingly a little more right-wing than even Tom Long, if that can be imagined. I was just wondering, are you still a card-carrying member-
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre): He's in the same league as you, Tony.
Mr Martin: You mean a little more left than normal?
Are you still a card-carrying member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario?
Mr Rohrer: Yes.
Mr Martin: What about of Canada?
Mr Rohrer: No.
Mr Martin: Are you a member of the new Alliance?
Mr Rohrer: Yes.
Mr Martin: I see that you ran in 1995 and 1999?
Mr Rohrer: Correct.
Mr Martin: I'm not saying that in any negative or critical way. I've done it a few times myself and succeeded at one point-
Mr Rohrer: Some more successful than others.
Mr Martin:-and haven't looked back.
In light of that, do you think you can separate your political background from the work you would be doing at the assessment board, if appointed, and what can you tell us here today that will assure us that that will be in fact the case?
Mr Rohrer: I appreciate the question. I don't think there should be any concern about my abilities as a potential assessor. For example, as a real estate appraiser, major banks and lenders rely on my opinion of value to lend money on mortgages. My political beliefs or religious beliefs, or whatever, don't impact my ability to value properties from a market approach.
Mr Martin: Have you worked in non-partisan settings before? I guess you just shared one with me. That hasn't been a problem?
Mr Rohrer: Certainly not.
Mr Martin: Are you aware of the increase in costs for appealing to the board that came about in 1999, and do you believe the fee increases discriminate against small business owners who believe their assessment is unfair?
Mr Rohrer: I'm not familiar with the fees you're suggesting, but I do think the process is important, that people have the ability to appeal if they feel their property is valued too high, or in some cases potentially lower than market value.
Mr Martin: Just let me fill you in: The fees for residential went up 150%, from $20 to $50; the multi-residential went up 525%, from $20 to $125; and the commercial-industrial went up 150%, from $50 to $125. Do you think that would be an impediment?
Mr Rohrer: An impediment to making an appeal?
Mr Martin: Yes, for a small business person.
Mr Rohrer: No, I don't believe so.
Mr Martin: The 1999 property value assessments show that property value has increased more in the city centre of Toronto as opposed to the suburbs since 1996. This suggests that the property tax load could be shifted to the inner city but that it does not need to be because the increase in value assessments could be offset by lower tax rates with the city earning the same amount of revenue. What do you think should occur?
Mr Rohrer: With respect, I don't understand the question.
Mr Martin: With the assessment showing that property value has increased more in the city centre of Toronto as opposed to the suburbs, that means that there may be a shift in who pays the freight in terms of services in the GTA. At this point in time, I believe Mel Lastman is complaining that they're carrying the freight for a lot of the services that are offered for the whole of the GTA. What do you think should happen there?
Mr Rohrer: With respect to the Assessment Review Board, I think that would probably be outside its realm because you're speaking of municipal policies and mill rates etc and how they're applied to the assessed value. So I don't see how that is related to the Assessment Review Board.
Mr Martin: OK. As you're aware, I'm assuming the provincial government's capping legislation will end at the end of 2000. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario has come out in support of continuing the caps, while the Toronto board of trade is opposed. The board is worried that commercial property owners will flee the downtown core because they pay higher property taxes in Toronto than they would in the surrounding GTA because of the caps on tax increases on small businesses in Toronto. What would your position be on whether we should remove the caps or leave them on?
Mr Rohrer: With an appointment pending, and certainly there would be some related training if I am in fact appointed, I think it would be premature to comment on that.
Mr Martin: It will certainly, I would think, impact and affect your decision-making should you get appointed to this board. I think it would be significant information for you to consider and I would think as well that there would be some people out there who would be rather anxious to know how a new appointee to that board would respond to appeals they would make, particularly after the cap is taken off. As you are probably aware, the small business community protests over tax changes is what led the government to pass the Small Business and Charities Protection Act for Toronto and a similar bill, Bill 79, for the rest of the province. That bill capped increases in taxes to those folks to no more than 2.5% of 1997 taxes for 1998, 1999 and 2000. That will be a big jump for a whole lot of small businesses come the year 2001 and onwards if the cap is taken off. You have no opinion or view on where that should go?
Mr Rohrer: I'm not certain of your question again, with respect. But once again, not yet being appointed to the board and not yet receiving the appropriate training, I don't know that it would be prudent to comment on things that are hypothetical etc. I don't have a comment to that right now.
Mr Martin: So you have no opinion on that. It's argued that when the cap was put on the tax burden was being redistributed so that homeowners picked up a big chunk of the cost of delivering services, and of course that battle will ensue if and when that cap is taken off. It's just an issue that I think you need to be concerned about as you-I suppose, looking at the makeup of the committee today-look forward to an appointment. It's one that I think you should be thinking about and it's one that I think people should know your position on before you're appointed, so that they know what your tack will be when that happens.
Mr Rohrer: If the underlying theme of your question, if I'm getting it correctly, is one of whether or not I believe the system's fair, as a homeowner, as an income property owner and as a small business person, I would argue that the system as I see it, if you're asking my opinion, is fair.
Mr Martin: It is fair now as it stands. With the cap on?
Mr Rohrer: Once again, with respect to that question, I'm not certain where you're going with your question and I will say again that until I'm appointed-I'm not yet appointed and I have not yet received the appropriate training-I don't know that it would be prudent to answer those types of questions.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr Martin. Government members.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr Wood. The official opposition.
Mrs Dombrowsky: Good afternoon, Mr Rohrer. Just with regard to the capping issue, it is a result of government Bill 16 and Bill 79, and certainly the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Municipal Finance Officers Association, the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, and the Association of Municipal Tax Collectors of Ontario have all collectively indicated that they believe that the cap, period, should be extended. You've indicated that you're going to get some appropriate in-service should an appointment be made, and I expect that would come from representatives of the government, so you're going to be in-serviced from a particular perspective. Would you be inclined to contact any of these associations to perhaps better understand their issues with regard to capping?
Mr Rohrer: In a general view, if I am in fact appointed, if the question is if I am a member of the Assessment Review Board, if I see that there are areas of efficiencies, etc, once again in the hypothetical, I would suggest to you that I probably would make recommendations at the appropriate time. But with respect to your specific questions, I don't have an opinion on that at this particular point.
Mrs Dombrowsky: You don't have an opinion on whether or not you'd be inclined to get the other side of the story? That's really my question.
Mr Rohrer: No, maybe you're-
Mrs Dombrowsky: I'm sorry; I guess I was not clear. I'm telling you today it is a fact, it's a matter of public record that these associations believe that the cap should be extended. Would you be inclined, in your role as a member of the Assessment Review Board, to engage any or all of these associations to understand better their position?
Mr Rohrer: I would be inclined, if I am appointed, and related to my expertise related to market valuation, to make recommendations to the appropriate body.
Mrs Dombrowsky: Well, I guess you've left me quite unclear. Does that mean you would be inclined to contact-
Mr Rohrer: I'm sorry?
Mrs Dombrowsky: Just answer me straight: would you contact them or wouldn't you?
Mr Rohrer: Well, I think I've answered it. I've indicated to you, and I'll say it again, that based on my experience with market valuation, and if in fact I am appointed, if there are areas that concern me or I feel I can shed some insight on, I would do so.
Mr Bartolucci: Of the three acts you're going to be dealing with, which one causes you the most trouble, Michael: the Assessment Act, the Education Act or the Municipal Act?
Mr Rohrer: As I understand it, they were all amended under the one bill, which I won't profess to be an expert on. Certainly, with that appropriate training, as I indicated, I would probably be in a position to comment on that thereafter.
Mr Bartolucci: You know there have been quite a few amendments to the act to try to get it right. Are there any concerns that you have with it, the way the legislation is now?
Mr Rohrer: I don't know that I'm in a position to have enough knowledge about the act to comment.
Mr Bartolucci: OK. How do you envision your workload? How do you see it? How many days are you going to be doing this? How many hours? Any idea? Have they told you?
Mr Rohrer: As I understand it, it's a part-time appointment, which by my math is a few weeks a month and they are full-day meetings.
Mr Bartolucci: So you envision a full day for only a couple of weeks?
Mr Rohrer: Yes. Full-day meetings, as I understand it, two weeks a month, plus or minus.
Mr Bartolucci: What's the pay?
Mr Rohrer: I believe it's $200 a day.
Mr Bartolucci: Let's go back to your political aspirations-because there's nothing wrong with that, by the way. Are you going to run in 2003? Are you going to seek the nomination then? Are you still interested, is what I'm asking, to be a candidate?
Mr Rohrer: Well, I guess I'll cross that bridge if I get to it, but at this point-
Mr Bartolucci: You haven't made up your mind, then?
Mr Rohrer: At this particular point, no, I don't believe I have any further political aspirations.
Mr Bartolucci: One final question: At a debate with students at St Joseph's Secondary School on the environment, you chose to speak about a hockey game, as opposed to spending time on the environment, and the students were critical of you in the paper for that. In light of what has happened, next time if you are asked the question, "Do you think this government should be spending more time in dealing with the problems of the environment?" what would you say?
Mr Rohrer: I'm curious as to where you got your information. I was at the debate and I don't remember seeing you there. I had actually asked a friend about the score from the previous playoff game that the Maple Leafs were involved in and we did have a very open and honest debate about environmental issues for about an hour. So I'm not sure where you're going with that.
Mr Bartolucci: I guess I get my information from 18-year-old Kevin Bankovic, who decided that he wouldn't be supporting you when he said, "When they were each supposed to talk for 10 minutes, he"-referring to you-"only talked for two minutes and said something about a hockey game."
Mr Rohrer: I think that's the same individual who chaired the youth party for one of my opponents.
Mr Bartolucci: You did make a lasting impression on him.
Mr Rohrer: I understand he was the youth chair for one of my opponents' campaigns, but all I would add to that is, consider the source.
Mr Bartolucci: There were a few other people who commented in the same article, students who were in fact turned off by your approach to not speak on environment issues.
Mr Rohrer: Once again, with respect, Mr Bartolucci, I was there and-
Mr Bartolucci: So were these people.
Mr Rohrer: But you, sir, were not and I can tell you that you should consider the source. It was a very good debate. It was an hour-long debate about very important issues. Yes, I'll admit I was curious about the previous evening's hockey game score. You can appreciate that in campaigns you spend a lot of time and you don't have a chance to check-
Mr Bartolucci: I usually deal with the issues. Thanks.
The Acting Chair: That being your final question, I take it, Mr Bartolucci, Mr Rohrer, thank you very much for making the trek down to Toronto. We'll see you again. My regards to your family.
Review of intended appointment, selected by third party: Allan Laakkonen, intended appointee as member, Cancer Care Ontario.
The Acting Chair: Our next consideration will be Mr Allan W. Laakkonen. Good afternoon, sir.
Mr Allan Laakkonen: Good afternoon.
The Acting Chair: We have 30 minutes of consideration. If you wish to make an opening statement, you are certainly free to do so, after which we'll afford time for questions to each of the caucuses.
Mr Laakkonen: Thank you very much, Mr Chair and members of committee.
I've been a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay except for the three years I attended Ryerson and the three years I taught at the Dar es Salaam Technical College in Tanzania. My resumé gives you details of my involvements in Thunder Bay over the years. The opportunity I was given to serve on the city council of Thunder Bay was exceptionally rewarding, through interaction with the community and becoming familiar with what their feelings were. It was certainly a rewarding experience.
What is not mentioned in the resumé is my past association with the Northern Cancer Research Foundation. While serving on that board, I had the opportunity of meeting and working with the Northwestern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre to get an understanding of the challenges they had to meet and the work they had to do.
For the past year I have been a public member of the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario and I've learned a great deal about their profession, particularly regarding radiography, radiation therapy and nuclear medicine.
Since I was advised of my name being proposed as a member of the CCO board, I've done some research on the organization, namely, to determine its mandate and organizational structure. Thank God for the Web. It's just a tremendous tool.
For Cancer Care Ontario, the responsibilities are to conduct programs of research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and specifically the objectives under the cancer care act, being to transport patients, to carry out laboratory and clinical investigations of psychiatric disorders, to establish and operate hostels in connection with its treatment centres or the Ontario Cancer Institute or the Princess Margaret Hospital, to coordinate facilities for treatment, to report cases, to record and compile data, to educate the public, to provide facilities for undergraduate and post-graduate study and to provide technical training and award research fellowships.
Further, I thought I'd find out what the vision statement would be for Cancer Care Ontario. If you'll bear with me on this, I've got the bottom line, so to speak: To lessen the growing burden of cancer in Ontario by ensuring that all Ontario residents have timely, equitable access to an integrated system of excellent, coordinated and efficient programs in prevention, early detection, care, education and research.
In looking at the mandate, it's certainly overwhelming, but in the requirements for an appointment to the board, there are no prerequisite requirements in the sense of being a medical practitioner. I feel with the experience I've had with numerous boards and associations over the years, I can contribute to helping CCO meet their responsibilities and objectives and meet the vision statement of Cancer Care Ontario.
It certainly would be an honour and a privilege to serve as a member of the board of directors of Cancer Care Ontario.
Just as a footnote I thought of to add to my notes as I was coming over, to me, cancer knows no boundaries. It has no colour limitations, no age limitations. It can touch any one of us and all of us at any given time. I've had some recent experiences where that has been the case.
I'm very fortunate. We're celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. My wife was an operating room nurse, so subliminally I became associated with medical terminology, and I'm thankful to her for that. Through that association as well I got to meet the medical community, and I feel I would have access to their expertise. As a matter of fact, in my resumé I say I play in a Dixieland jazz band, and the piano player is a coroner and the fellow who started the band is a retired coroner, so it's just associations like that and being sensitive to the public and what the public feels, and in terms of responding to it.
There are different ways of thinking about things and approaching things. I've always done my homework, and before I'd answer a question, I'd be sure I had all the facts and had determined the veracity of any statements that were made. Thank you.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr Laakkonen. I guess inviting your band would liven any occasion. The questioning this time will start with the government.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Acting Chair: Thank you. Mr Bartolucci.
Mr Bartolucci: Welcome to the committee. You're obviously familiar with the petition that has been circulating around Thunder Bay with regard to the northern health travel grant.
Mr Laakkonen: I've heard of it. I haven't seen it.
Mr Bartolucci: You haven't signed it? You're not one of the 10,000 who have signed it?
Mr Laakkonen: No one has approached me about it, so I haven't seen or signed the document.
Mr Bartolucci: What do you think of the present government's policy with regard to paying expenses? We call it health care apartheid. I'm sure you've heard this terminology.
Mr Laakkonen: Excuse me, I didn't hear you, sir.
Mr Bartolucci: You'd have to be living in a cocoon not to hear the controversy surrounding the treatment of cancer patients from the north and the treatment given to the south. Are you familiar with that issue?
Mr Laakkonen: Yes, I am.
Mr Bartolucci: Give us your take on it.
Mr Laakkonen: My take on it would be just to look at the direction of Cancer Care Ontario, which is to provide equitable service to everyone. I certainly am not apprised of the mechanics of the travel grants, and I wouldn't want to give a specific answer, but certainly if there are any inequities, then I would raise that point and say, "If they exist, then how do we correct that?" It's a big province and there are lots of people in the province.
Mr Bartolucci: You said that cancer knows no boundaries and you are absolutely correct on that. It doesn't know lists either. The government, as you know, pays all costs associated with travel accommodation and meals for those cancer patients who are re-referred from Toronto to other points: Thunder Bay, Sudbury or the States. You know that northern cancer patients only get 30.4 cents a kilometre one way. In your estimation, is that equitable?
Mr Laakkonen: A specific answer would be difficult without knowing the mechanics of how the travel grant works, but with the re-referrals, I understand that program applies to prostrate cancer and breast cancer only. Quite honestly, I don't have enough knowledge to answer your question specifically, but if inequities did occur, I've always been one to state my position, be it popular or unpopular.
Mr Bartolucci: Give us your opinion then. I'll ask you for your opinion. Mary from Thunder Bay, who can't be treated in Thunder Bay, has to travel to Toronto for treatment. She gets 30.4 cents a kilometre one way. That's the policy. That's the northern health travel grant in a nutshell. Somebody from Toronto who has been re-referred to Thunder Bay gets full transportation costs-air, if they choose-all meal costs, plus all accommodation costs at a hotel. Is that fair, in your estimation?
Mr Laakkonen: On the face of it, it wouldn't be fair. But again, to answer specifically, if that inequity did exist then I would certainly make sure, as best I could, to correct that. That's all I could say at this point.
Mr Bartolucci: So you would challenge the government that's going to appoint you that you do not believe this discrimination is right?
Mr Laakkonen: If I felt that some rethinking was required I would do that.
Mr Martin: Given that there seems to be a bit of a lack of information at your disposal or in your experience re this whole issue which Mr Bartolucci has just raised, which all of us who represent the north and many of us who live in the north have had to deal with personally in many significant ways, let me just give you an example.
Donna Graham lives in Pickle Lake, which is 525 kilometres one way from Thunder Bay. She has made 14 round trips to Thunder Bay for treatment since May 1999. She has flown twice to Thunder Bay, was driven once to Ignace and then took the bus to Thunder Bay, 235 kilometres, and was driven 11 times to Thunder Bay and back. Travel costs alone are $6,077 but she will only receive $2,271 in total compensation from the government. She has paid $3,806 out of her own pocket to access cancer care.
Donna Graham travels farther by car in the north to access care in Thunder Bay than any southern Ontario patient who is referred from Toronto, London and Hamilton to Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit or Kingston. Yet those folks will get everything paid and Donna Graham will get a reimbursement of some $2,271 out of an overall cost of some $10,000. In your view, is that fair?
Mr Laakkonen: On the face of it again, it doesn't appear to be fair, and obviously I don't have access to the file. But if presentations have been made to whatever the governing agency is relative to dispensing those costs, I would think it would be the opportunity for the board-I'm not sure what the mechanics are of relations with people who are having problems. But I'd certainly be willing to listen to anybody and everybody who is having a problem to determine if those inequities can be solved or not.
Mr Martin: Have you yourself had to travel for health care or has anybody in your family had to travel for health care?
Mr Laakkonen: No, we haven't. My brother-in-law passed away last night from cancer. He had all the care he needed in Thunder Bay and didn't have to travel. But no, we've been fortunate in the sense that we haven't had to travel.
Mr Martin: In Sault Ste Marie, where we don't have a cancer centre such as they have in Sudbury or Thunder Bay, my constituents are travelling all the time. As a matter of fact, there's an organization in the Soo-the Elks-that has spent its own money to buy a van that they put at the disposal of cancer patients to travel back and forth to Sudbury to get the care they need, which is an attempt by our community to take the edge off the load. Health care is not only expensive from a taxpayer's perspective in Sault Ste Marie re the cost of the facilities and doctors etc, but it becomes a personal cost to people and families as they try to access cancer care. Sudbury on a good day is three hours away; Thunder Bay is as far away as Toronto and less accessible by air than Toronto. We pay a big price for our health care, not to speak of the costs for cancer care.
Gerry Lougheed-that name is probably familiar to you-a man, from some of our perspectives anyway, of tremendous integrity, worked with an organization over a number of years to try to put in place the best that was possible for the folks in the north. It finally got to a point where he was totally frustrated, and in an attempt to effect change became very public and critical in his assessment of the circumstances and is now no longer serving in his capacity with Cancer Care Ontario and northeastern cancer care.
If it came to a point where you thought what was happening was not in the best interests of the people you represent in northern Ontario, what was happening under your purview in your role on the board, how far would you be willing to go to make that point?
Mr Laakkonen: I think I'd follow every avenue that was available to me to make that point, and then, as with any decision, it's going to fall one side or the other depending on what the issue is. Some people are going to support it and some aren't. I've never backed away from making a point, even being right or wrong from a point of view, but if it came to the point of having to present it, then I would have no difficulty at all in presenting a different point of view.
Mr Martin: If it came down to supporting the present government's direction and perhaps unwillingness to put more resources into the pot so that we're not facing the kind of challenge that we are now in Ontario, which some people have referred to as cancer care apartheid, you would be willing to stand up for the people of the north in that instance?
Mr Laakkonen: I certainly would, but I don't think I would agree with the term "apartheid" in terms of health care delivery in this province.
Mr Martin: Having said that then, let me share with you another example just so you understand why some of us are calling it that. Lorraine Newton lives in Kenora but cannot access cancer care in Thunder Bay. She has a rare eye cancer which is being treated in Toronto. She must drive to Winnipeg, 207 kilometres, and then fly to Toronto for care. She has made four trips to Toronto and will go again in September. The best discounted airfare was $287.23. Usually she pays $400. She pays $23 to come from the airport to the city, $59 for one night in a hotel used by Princess Margaret, and food costs are added on. She receives $146.40 in total compensation from the government for each trip. Lorraine Newton travels farther by car just to get to Winnipeg than a southern Ontario patient who is referred from Toronto to Buffalo or from London to Buffalo or from Hamilton to Detroit. Those people will get full compensation; Lorraine Newton, just as I suggested with Donna Graham, will not. You don't see that as two separate systems operating side by side in the same province?
Mr Laakkonen: Again, just on what you've stated, there appears to be that inequity, but certainly I think apartheid is too strong a word to apply to it. If there are any anomalies in the process-I don't think there's anything in this world that's perfect, whoever does it or whoever creates it. You go through a matter of evolving and trying to come up with a policy that indeed does meet the mandate that's been presented to Cancer Care Ontario and, for that matter, to the government of Ontario.
The Acting Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Laakkonen, for coming all this way down to the hearings from Thunder Bay. I hope you had an enjoyable trip and we appreciate your making your presentation.
Mr Laakkonen: Thank you very much and thank you for the questions. I hope I answered them.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Charles Sandiford, intended appointee as member, Cancer Care Ontario.
The Acting Chair: Our next consideration will be Mr Charles Sandiford. Good afternoon and welcome to the committee. We have 30 minutes at our disposal. You can make an introductory statement if you prefer, or not, and the remaining time will be split among the three caucuses.
Mr Charles Sandiford: I haven't been this nervous since I got married. I'm going to tell you about my own experience with cancer in order to explain my interest in this appointment. It says here I'm now to read that history and I'll try to do that.
In June 1997 I was diagnosed with cancer after failing to recover from what I thought was laryngitis. Initially, I was thought to have esophageal cancer and was told by three different doctors that I would not last to see Christmas. They suggested that I get my affairs in order, which I did. It didn't take very long. This disease progressed to the point where my throat was closed so often I could not breathe. I was taken to the Toronto Hospital emergency section where I was immediately admitted and prepared for a tracheotomy, which was completed the next day. After some weeks of tests and a series of biopsies, it was determined that I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer in the thyroid area.
The good news in this diagnosis was that I could be treated and my chances of recovery were 50-50. The tube in my throat was to stay for the next four months, a very unpleasant experience but by far better than the alternative. Not being able to talk for that period was a difficult situation, especially for me, as I know Mr Gilchrist will testify. In September I had my first chemotherapy treatment followed by 10 days of Nuprogen injections. After the second treatment there was a dramatic reduction in the swelling in my neck but the tube stayed in until after my third and final treatment.
In early January, the tube came out and I was scheduled to take 20 radiation treatments which were administered at Princess Margaret Hospital. I suffered no side effects during chemo or radiation. The tube was another matter. My normally large neck, coupled with the swelling, caused the tube to frequently come out, with very dire consequences. Actually, you suffocate when that happens.
A longer tube was ordered from California which finally corrected the problem. Doctors Irish, Sturgeon and Tsang are outstanding professionals with a compassion and ability that I have rarely witnessed in my long battle with my health. I continue to see Sturgeon and Tsang, the latter in April when I was again considered in remission.
I never experienced any delay in admission or treatment, nor was I ever redirected in four emergency trips. Media reports of the difficulties of others puzzle me no end. While the treatment was not perfect, it worked for me. Improvements in strategy in respect to training and significantly more backup from manufacturers in the provision of trained operators for their very sophisticated equipment would ensure that machines were not left idle nor only employed seven hours a day.
I go on now to tell you about my own experience, that is, business experience. The media reports of the deterioration of treatment disturbs me no end. As a board member, I will be able to find out why and, more importantly, work to correct whatever problem might exist. The extensive material I requested from Cancer Care Ontario is very impressive and reveals their very worthy purpose. It has also provoked many questions in respect to what reporting mechanisms that may or may not be in place.
My business experience was with two major consumer finance corporations. Operational areas were required to submit frequent statistical reports from which we were able to identify problems and quickly take corrective action to ensure our overall objectives were met, and of course monitor our progress. This is not the time to elaborate on the scope of these reports but the process might be useful to Cancer Care Ontario's management.
You will notice from my resumé that I never earned any formal degree. However, my business experience was a learning process which had no end. We were continuously on in-company training programs authored by very prominent American business schools. Negotiations with people like the late A.J. Billes, His Worship Mayor Mel Lastman and brother Allan and others were a lesson never delivered in a classroom. The counsel of the Honourable Willard Z. Estey was always a source of comfort and command. He was our corporate lawyer.
In closing, I would like to tell you about my family. My wife and I will soon be married for 50 years. Son Jim is a chartered accountant and partner. Bob is a school principal with a master's in education. David has his honours in English, a BA in history and a bachelor of education. He is a teacher in the York board. If that isn't enough, we now have five grandchildren and counting. We just got one on June 16, by the way.
Thank you for your time and indulgence, and now it's your turn.
The Acting Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Sandiford. This time the questioning will commence with the official opposition.
Mr Bartolucci: First of all, Mr Sandiford, I'm happy that you're a cancer survivor. I wish you many years of good health, and I say that most sincerely.
Mr Sandiford: Thank you for that.
Mr Bartolucci: I also congratulate you on your anniversary coming up and on a very successful family. I'd like to talk to your son Bob sometime and we could discuss education issues. I'm sure it would be a lively discussion.
Mr Sandiford: It's a very lively family discussion almost every week.
Mr Bartolucci: I am sure it is.
You mentioned the excellent care you received in Princess Margaret Hospital. Having had a father who fought and lost a battle with cancer, I can attest to Princess Margaret's excellent service and dedication. There's no question about that.
I'd like to quickly present a scenario to you. If you, Charles Sandiford, had to be treated for your cancer in an area outside of Princess Margaret, so that you were re-referred to Sudbury or Thunder Bay or to one of the areas in the States that would treat your cancer, you know that you would receive full travel costs, full meal costs, full hotel accommodations.
Mr Sandiford: No, I didn't know that.
Mr Bartolucci: You would receive that, and I think that's important information for you to know. If you, Charles, were from Sudbury and you couldn't be treated for your cancer in Sudbury and you had to come to Princess Margaret, you would only get one-way transportation costs at 30.4 cents a kilometre. You would have to pay for your taxis, you would have to pay for your hotel, you would have to pay for your meals. Do you believe that's fair?
Mr Sandiford: I heard the question delivered by Mr Martin regarding that issue as I came in here, and truly it doesn't seem fair, but I really don't know enough about the circumstances which caused that discrepancy to offer any real opinion on it. But these are some of the items I'd like to pursue as a board member.
Mr Bartolucci: This is a compliment and I want you to take it as that. You have a passion for this, it's obvious, and you've done your homework. That's obvious as well. I want to tell you that this in fact is the case. After you study it, you will find out that the government uses terminology very skilfully, but the reality is, Charles Sandiford in Toronto would get full costs. Charles Sandiford in Sudbury going to Toronto or another place would not. If, when you study it, you find out that is exactly what happens, will you stand up to the government and fight to ensure that there is equal treatment of cancer patients in this province?
Mr Sandiford: I would like to answer that question in this fashion, and that is, having experienced cancer-and I know you're speaking from some experiences; not very happy ones-I would like to see the treatment of cancer equal for everyone in the province of Ontario, even in Canada. To that end, that would be my motivation and the reason why I would be interested, and am interested, in this appointment.
Mr Bartolucci: I wish you much success in your appointment and I wish you the best of health and much happiness.
Mr Sandiford: Thank you very much.
Mr Martin: Thanks for coming today and sharing your personal story. I know how difficult that can be and I appreciate your doing that. Mr Bartolucci has painted a picture for you re the issue that we both bring from northern Ontario. Some will differ on how you describe it, as cancer apartheid or discrimination, but certainly there are two different approaches where funding is concerned, and the cost to individuals and families to access the care they need and the pain and anguish that can cause. You have referenced that you heard a couple of the scenarios I painted, which are very real-
Mr Sandiford: Exactly.
Mr Martin: -and I have more. They are not isolated or single. There's a whole whack of them that any one of us who represents constituencies in northern Ontario could tell, because they come to our office and they ask for help from us to try to access a bit more in support and ask us to help them understand why the system is as it is. I won't say any more on that. I think you heard it and you'll probably bring it to the table when you get your appointment, as I'm sure you will this afternoon. Hopefully, on our behalf, you will be successful in convincing somebody that it should be dealt with, because it indeed isn't fair.
I'm going to put another issue on the table for you just to get your comment and your view. Say a government knew in 1995 that there was going to be a shortage of radiation therapists, not just in Canada but internationally, and knowing this chose to save a few dollars by cancelling the training program for radiation therapists in Ontario, so that this year, while cancer patients are being shipped to the United States to get treatment that they can't get here in Ontario, there are no new radiation therapists graduating in Ontario. Would you agree that the short-sightedness of that government has contributed to the crisis we are facing? In the intended appointment position, what would you be prepared to do to hold this government accountable on that and perhaps other such scenarios that you might discover as you begin to do this work?
Mr Sandiford: The way you speak about the government's abandonment of responsibility I don't think is entirely accurate. In my last paragraph, when I talked about my own situation, I said specifically about radiation operators-I don't know whether you're familiar with what that takes, but that's a very long process where the template has to be designed for you personally and what have you-that companies that provide these multi-million-dollar machines should also share some responsibility in training operators. I'm sure, knowing the private sector as I do, that if you made that a condition of a purchase, they would provide you with operators.
Having said that, I notice too that the government attempted to get operators of radiation equipment from outside the country, and they were denied entry. I don't understand that either. But there are many areas in the health care system which need to be addressed. Where to begin, and to think that everybody is going to be perfect in their final decisions is more than we can really expect. We can only work at it. That's one of the reasons I'm here, because I think I can make a contribution to help settle some of those issues and bring everybody into the same treatment level that I had. I never waited for anything, yet I witnessed three machines at Princess Margaret that weren't being used because of what you're talking about, the lack of operators. So it would appear on the surface that it was a mistake, but I don't think it was something that was designed to hinder the care of cancer patients. I think they just made a mistake. I didn't even know what you're talking about before I got here today.
Mr Martin: They actually cancelled the training program for radiation therapists.
Mr Sandiford: I heard you about that.
Mr Martin: I would consider that a mistake.
Mr Sandiford: Training, as I've already pointed out here, is a big issue with me and it's the answer to a lot of operational problems. If you have a good training program and develop a surplus of operators or a surplus of treatment centres, whatever, you obviate the need for any of these other issues that you've brought up. They just won't exist.
The Acting Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Sandiford. Did I forget the formality of turning to Mr Wood?
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
Mr Sandiford: I was hoping I'd hear from member Morley Kells. I haven't seen him for a long time.
The Acting Chair: ESP is a prerequisite of being a committee Chair. Thank you very much, Mr Sandiford. We appreciate your coming down and making yourself available to the committee for these hearings. I wish you a safe trip back.
Mr Sandiford: Thank you very much.
The Acting Chair: That takes us now to motions for concurrence.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Rohrer.
The Acting Chair: Is there any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Laakkonen.
The Acting Chair: Any further discussion on that appointment? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour? Opposed? That appointment carries.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Sandiford.
The Acting Chair: Any further discussion?
Mr Bartolucci: I'll be supporting Mr Sandiford because I think he's what an appointee should be. He has some passion, he certainly has first-hand knowledge and experience, and he came to this committee extremely well prepared. The people I didn't support today would do well to take a lesson from this gentleman. This is the way you appear before a committee, with some passion, with wanting to do something. I know Cancer Care Ontario will be better because Mr Sandiford is being appointed. There is absolutely no question in my mind.
I came down here with the preconceived notion that they were all Tory appointees and I was going to have difficulty supporting any of them. I must tell you again, Mr Sandiford, your passion is what Cancer Care Ontario needs and your very straightforward approach is what they need. Finally, you will have to get their attention every once in a while, and don't be afraid to do that in whatever way works best for you.
The Acting Chair: Any further discussion? Seeing none, I'll put the question. All those in favour? It's unanimous.
The committee stands adjourned until August 29.
The committee adjourned at 1429.