GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE
The Government Relations Committee (GRC) met on May 21, 2009 at 11:06 a.m. in the 5th Floor Boardroom, Regional Administrative Headquarters,
Members: G. Carlson; E. Moore, designate for A. Groves; J. Sanderson; A. Thompson
Members Absent: E. Kolb, due to other municipal business; S. Fennell; A. Groves
Councillor M. Morrison; N. Trim, Acting Chief Administrative Officer; J. Menard, Executive Director, Human Services Transition & Integration; C. Clifford, Director, Strategic Innovation and Policy; J.P. Gedeon, Manager, Public Policy and Planning; L. Rubin, Project Leader, Inter-Governmental Relations; D. Hodkin, Public Affairs Associate; C. Thomson, Committee Clerk
Chaired by Councillor A. Thompson.
1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
That the agenda for the May 21, 2009, Government Relations Committee meeting be approved.
Item 6a was dealt with.
a) Proposed Future Direction of the Government Relations Committee
That the Government Relations Committee be dissolved;
And further, that an Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee be established;
And further, that the Director of Strategic Innovation and Policy prepare a report setting out the proposed structure and functions of the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee for consideration at a future meeting of General Committee.
Curry Clifford, Director, Strategic Innovation and Policy, outlined the results of his discussions with the Government Relations Committee Chair, Councillor Thompson, suggesting that the Government Relations Committee be re-constituted as an advisory committee to vet issues and make recommendations on public policy positions of Regional Council on an "as needed" basis. He noted that discussion at the April 16, 2009 General Committee meeting indicated support for a coordinated approach to government relations that provides Regional Council with clear recommendations related to previously identified priority public policy issues. He also noted the strong support for the advocacy work of the Mayors and Councillors with other levels of government and community stakeholders. He noted that an advisory committee structure would address concerns regarding the General Committee workload while providing an opportunity for those Councillors who wished to be engaged in inter-governmental relations to be involved.
Curry Clifford advised that the current Chair of the Government Relations Committee (GRC) has indicated his support for an Intergovernmental relations structure that maintains the role of the General Committee Section Chairs and Vice Chairs as the spokespeople for issues related to their sections, with the role of the Advisory Committee being to ensure all Councillors are aware of emerging advocacy issues and activities.
Curry Clifford undertook to be the primary staff contact noting that his office works closely with all members of the Executive Management Team and is well positioned to support the proposed Advisory Committee.
Councillor Carlson indicated his support for an advisory committee structure noting that similarly structured committees work well at the City of Mississauga. He stated that the Mississauga Heritage and Environment Advisory Committees report to General Committee; are open to all City Councillors; and, meet only at the call of the Chair. He noted that the meetings are less formal than those of standing committees and that in his role as Chair of the two Committees, he works closely with staff to ensure the appropriate resources are available at Committee meetings to support specific agenda items within their area of expertise.
Councillor Thompson credited the advice provided to the GRC by Curry Clifford, to date, based on his experience with provincial matters and the municipal sector, that has ensured Committee members are well prepared with factual, comprehensive information when meeting with representatives from other levels of government and noted that letters have been received from meeting participants expressing appreciation for the clear and concise reports. Councillor Thompson stated that this type of expertise and experience enables staff to provide responses to emerging issues that Councillors can reference when working for their communities and coordinate other staff resources in support of advocacy issues.
Councillor Moore noted that the original Public Information Campaign Ad Hoc Committee was established with a clear mandate related to the timing of a provincial election however, the mandate of the current GRC is not as clear.
Councillor Thompson responded that due to the success of the Public Information Campaign Ad Hoc Committee in drawing attention to key priority issues with provincial representatives, it was felt that a subcommittee could effectively build on the successes and ensure priority issues remain in the forefront.
Curry Clifford noted that specific policy positions have been developed on several priority issues and have been endorsed by Regional Council so that as opportunities arise, these policies can be put forward without a requirement for additional Council approval and that as new issues emerge, the support of Regional Council would be requested for the development of new policy positions. Requests for Council support would be submitted by the Advisory Committee or through departmental reports to General Committee.
Councillor Morrison stated her willingness to share Peel policy positions at future Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Board meetings.
Councillor Moore advised that she appreciates the format of Government Relations Committee reports noting that their construction makes it easy to identify important points.
Councillor Thompson requested that the Director of Strategic Innovation and Policy prepare a report to General Committee recommending that the current Government Relation Committee be dissolved and an Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Committee be established.
Discussion occurred regarding the membership of the Advisory Committee, and the potential benefits of having department Commissioners participate as members.
Councillor Thompson suggested that including staff in the membership could assist in achieving quorum.
Janet Menard, Executive Director, Transition and Integration, Human Services, noted that from the perspective of staff, Council support for policy issues is the main objective and that it may not be appropriate for staff to be included in the membership.
Councillor Thompson suggested that the report to General Committee should recommend a minimum of one representative from each municipality.
3. GOVERNMENT RELATIONS STATUS REPORTS AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES
a) Federal Government
Lowell Rubin, Project Leader, Inter-governmental Relations, advised that a meeting took place with the Honourable Navdeep Bains, MP, Mississauga-Brampton South (and Co-Chair of the Liberal Party’s Policy Committee), the Chair of the Government Relations Committee and Janet Menard, Interim Commissioner of Human Services to discuss a number of issues including employment insurance, Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) and housing related matters.
Lowell Rubin distributed a preliminary conference program for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) 72nd Annual Conference and Municipal Expo taking place June 5-8, 2009 in Whistler, British Columbia.
Councillor Thompson noted that Michael Ignatieff used some of the Government Relations Committee discussion points during his campaign for the leadership of the Federal Liberal Party.
Janet Menard noted that Bonnie Crombie, MPP, Mississauga-Streetsville, used information provided by the Region of Peel in a recent speech.
Councillor Moore suggested that the Chair of the Government Relations Committee send a letter of appreciation to Mr. Bains and Ms. Crombie to acknowledge their efforts to convey key messages. Councillor Thompson indicated his agreement to send appreciation letters.
b) Provincial Government
Janet Menard advised that staff is continuing to seek to arrange a meeting with the Premier of Ontario to discuss Peel’s poverty issues. She advised that the meeting will provide an opportunity for Region of Peel staff to demonstrate that in good economic times, the poverty rate in Peel grew so there is a unique aspect to poverty in the Region and that if it is not cooperatively explored and addressed, the Region of Peel will be unable to meet the targets of the provincial poverty agenda. Janet Menard advised that a brief, developed with input from community partners, on the poverty issue had been developed and would form the basis of discussions with the Premier.
Councillor Moore suggested that the poverty brief be provided to all Peel-area MPPs to let them know that the issue is now with the Premier. It was noted that the information should also be included with the letters being sent to the Leader of the Federal Liberal Party, as well as to Navdeep Bains and Bonnie Crombie.
c) Local Government - Nil
4. ITEMS DEFERRED FROM PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE MEETINGS
a) Support Requirements for the Government Relations Committee
b) GRC Principles and Tactics Continued: Supporting all Committees of Regional Council
5. REQUESTS FROM REGIONAL COUNCIL FOR GOVERNMENT RELATIONS SUPPORT - Nil
a) Proposed Future Direction of the Government Relations Committee
This item was dealt with earlier in the meeting.
7. COMMUNICATIONS - Nil
8. OTHER BUSINESS or CURRENT ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE DISCUSSED - Nil
9. NEXT MEETING
To be determined.
10. REQUESTS FROM GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE TO Regional Council and Subcommittee s - Nil
The meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.