PUBLIC INFORMATION CAMPAIGN AD HOC COMMITTEE
M I N U T E S PIC-2007-2
The Public Information Campaign (PIC)
Ad Hoc Committee met on May 24, 2007, at 1:26 p.m. in the Chairman's Boardroom,
Regional Administrative Headquarters, 10 Peel Centre Dr., Brampton.
|Members:||G. Carlson, A. Groves, E. Kolb, C. Parrish, J. Sanderson, A. Thompson|
P. Mullin, Regional Councillor, City of Mississauga; D. Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer; R. K. Gillespie, Commissioner of Corporate Services and Regional Solicitor; D. Labrecque, Treasurer and Commissioner of Finance; J. Menard, Acting Commissioner of Social Services; J. Smith, Acting Commissioner of Health; M. Hood, Director of Communication Services; E. Zamparo, Manager, Finance; A. Warren, Strategic Policy Project Manager, Executive Office; C. Thomson, Legislative Specialist
Chaired by Councillor C. Parrish
1. DECLARATIONS OF CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - Nil
2. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
That the agenda for the May 24, 2007 Public Information Campaign Ad hoc Committee, be approved.
a) Andrea Warren, Strategic Policy Project Manager, Executive Office and Ed Zamparo, Manager, Financial Policy and Strategic Analysis, Presenting Follow Up Information
Andrea Warren, Strategic Policy Project Manager, outlined the approach used to present the information requested at the April 19, 2007 Public Information Campaign Ad hoc Committee meeting. She noted that staff have prepared factual information based on the four platform areas identified by the Committee for discussion.
Ed Zamparo, Manager, Financial Policy and Strategic Analysis, reviewed Platform 1 which provides information related to Human Services downloaded by the Province of Ontario compared to other provincial governments. Research conducted by staff indicated that:
It can be surmised by the research findings that in Ontario, provincial downloading moved service delivery responsibility to municipalities which is the most effective level of service delivery and management, however, municipalities have not been given fair and adequate funding from the Province to pay for human services. Consequently, the Regional property tax has come under pressure to play a greater funding role.
Many in the municipal finance community have argued that property tax is an inappropriate revenue source to fund human services in that it is inherently unfair and its revenue growth does not reflect the pace of economic growth.
David Szwarc, Chief Administrative Officer, noted that the downloading of services to the municipal level began with the Local Services Realignment (LSR) provincial initiative in the mid 1990's. The initiative shifted some services to the local level and removed the education component of the property tax to result in a revenue neutral realignment. However, revenue neutrality has not been the case as more and more services have been downloaded.
Chair Parrish requested that the CAO provide her with all previous reports to Regional Council which illustrate the growth in social services costs versus the savings that were realized by removing the education component from the property tax bill.
In response to a question posed by Councillor Mullin, Ed Zamparo advised that, historically, Ontario has always been different from other provinces with respect to provincial funding, and that the issue existed prior to the Local Services Realignment.
Regional Chair Kolb stated that, in his opinion, the current system of funding human services is not accountable to anybody; is not sustainable and could eventually lead to the Region losing its debt-free status.
Councillor Carlson expressed the need for partners in government, working together to deliver sustainable funding for human services.
Chair Parrish stressed the importance of clearly explaining, in a positive manner, the burden that the shifting of human services to the property tax base places on Peel's taxpayers.
Andrea Warren presented Platform 2, which illustrates that the current provincial funding formula for human services does not effectively address the needs of high growth municipalities, such as Peel.
Examples of growth-related provincial funding inequities in Peel include:
Janette Smith, Acting Commissioner of Health noted that funding for public health had in the past been provided by the Province by way of grants. Regional Council would determine the required service levels and the Province would transfer their share of the funding to the Region. Currently, the Province sets out the maximum increase in funding that will be provided at 5 per cent, which reduces service levels in areas such as Peel that are experiencing growth. It is expected that this approach will continue to be used by the Province for another three years.
Chair Parrish emphasized the need to educate Peel area MPPs on the impacts to growth municipalities as a result of provincial under funding, so that they can discuss the issues with their caucus.
Councillor Groves indicated Peel area MPPs may not be aware of the inequity in funding for the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) that includes the Peel area. The LHIN covers 5.8 per cent of Ontario's population but receives only 3.1 per cent of the total provincial funding.
Councillor Carlson suggested that the Premier of Ontario, the Ontario Minister of Finance and Peel area MPPs be invited to discuss issues related to the funding of human services in an effort to initiate dialogue toward resolution.
Andrea Warren outlined Platform 3 which provides a snapshot of who suffers the most as a result of provincial under-funding of human services.
All Peel residents and businesses are impacted by the following:
Low income families are affected by property taxes which generally consume a larger share of the family's earnings, thereby hurting those who can afford to pay the least.
Children are impacted by the following:
Seniors are impacted by the provincial under-funding of human services in the following ways:
People in need of affordable housing are impacted as follows:
Dan Labrecque, Treasurer and Commissioner of Finance, noted that earlier in the day, General Committee approved a recommendation endorsing the Children's Charter of Rights; one of which is "the right to basic needs" including clean water, good food, proper clothing, a home and happiness. The burden placed on property taxpayers affects the ability of parents to provide housing for their families.
Janet Menard, Acting Commissioner of Social Services, requested that Platform 3 be amended to include information on the impact the under funding of human services has on newcomers to Peel.
Kent Gillespie, Commissioner of Corporate Services and Regional Solicitor, suggested that since being a funding partner enables the service levels to be determined at the local level, the Region should be prepared to discuss what the Regional share of the human services costs should be.
Regional Chair Kolb stated that participating in the funding of the services assists in maintaining accountability for the programs that are delivered and he suggested that this topic be discussed at the next meeting of the Regional Chairs group.
David Szwarc inquired if the desire of the Committee is to fight for appropriate funding under the existing formulas, or if a fundamental change to the way municipalities receive funding is preferred.
Chair Parrish suggested that both options should be discussed with the Province as Peel Region should be partners for change.
Ed Zamparo reviewed Platform 4 which illustrates the unfairness of the current property taxation between multiple income households and single or fixed income households.
Issues of unfairness were identified as follows:
Chair Parrish advised that she would work with her staff to prepare a draft brochure based on the information presented in the four platforms. Chair Parrish undertook to then provide the draft brochure to Marilyn Hood, Director, Communications Services for her assistance in ensuring the brochure is presented in a comprehensive, easy to read format. The brochure could serve as a discussion document with the Provincial government and if they are not amenable to discussing the issue of funding, they would be advised that the brochure would be distributed to all households in the Region of Peel in September, 2007.
Councillor Groves suggested that any discussion on change to current funding
formulas should include representatives of the Federal government.
4. REPORTS - Nil
5. COMMUNICATIONS - Nil
6. OTHER BUSINESS - Nil
Additional Item - 6a:
a) Update on Pooling (Oral)
Chair Parrish inquired if any updated information was available regarding the pooling funds being held back by the Region. Regional Chair Kolb responded that an answer is not anticipated until after the election in October, 2007.
7. SCHEDULE OF FUTURE MEETINGS
That the next meeting of the Public Information Campaign Ad Hoc Committee be held on July 5, 2007 immediately following Regional Council.
The meeting adjourned at 2:46 p.m.