STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES FINANCES
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, December 2, 1999
The Chair (Mr. Maurizio Bevilacqua
(Vaughan—King—Aurora, Lib.)): I'd like to call the
meeting to order and welcome everyone here this
As you know, the finance committee has been travelling
across the country seeking input from Canadians from
coast to coast to coast. This is our second-last
session, and I must say it's been a great experience.
People have really added a great deal of value to the
pre-budget consultation process, which of course makes
our job very difficult, because there are choices to be
This morning we have the pleasure of having with us
the following organizations: the Canadian Centre on
Substance Abuse, the Canadian Automatic Merchandising
Association, the Canadian Professional Sales
Association, the Income Protection Working Group, and
the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.
If I recall correctly, many of you have appeared in
past years, so you know how this committee operates.
You can take five or maybe seven minutes at the most to
make your introductory remarks, and thereafter we will
engage in a question-and-answer session.
We will begin with the Canadian Centre on Substance
Abuse, Michel Perron, executive director, and Jacques
Mr. Michel Perron (Executive Director, Canadian
Centre on Substance Abuse): Thank you very much, Mr.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of Parliament, my
name is Michel Perron. I was recently appointed by the
Governor in Council as chief executive officer of the
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, commonly known as
the CCSA. I'm accompanied by my predecessor, Mr.
Jacques Lecavalier. We are here to talk to you about a
very serious issue, that being substance abuse in
I believe the clerk has distributed copies of the
presentation I will be referring to.
First I'd like to touch on who we are. The CCSA was
created by an act of Parliament in 1988 with all-party
support. As an arm's-length agency, the CCSA was
created to provide national focus on substance abuse in
Canada and to provide visibility and credibility to the
The CCSA provides a national clearing house on
substance abuse that links 23 organizations across
Canada and makes optimum use of the Internet as a means
of collecting and disseminating information and
achieving knowledge transfer across Canada.
We also provide economy of scale and unity of purpose
through our partnerships and networks, such as the
Health and Enforcement in Partnership network, the
Canadian FAS/FAE Information Service,
and the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug
Use. We provide a critical mass
for research on emerging substance abuse issues, such
as quantifying the social costs of substance abuse.
We also provide advice on policy issues for government
while acting as a risk management tool for
In sum, we have the ability to get things done quickly
and effectively in a non-threatening environment.
Why are we here? The annual cost of substance abuse
to Canadians was estimated by the CCSA in 1992 at $18.4
billion—this at a time when drug use was at its lowest
level. We know that today youth drug use is back to
levels we have not seen since the 1970s and that their
attitudes towards drugs generally are softening. For
instance, the 1999 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey
shows that 66% of high school students drink alcohol;
29% use cannabis, which represents a 100% increase from
1993; and one in ten students has tried a hallucinogen
such as LSD. These results are reflected across Canada
Half of the estimated new HIV infections are among
heroin and cocaine injection drug users. In fact our
study shows that substance abuse is responsible for
nearly one in four deaths in Canada and that there is a
60% chance that someone in a family of four will die
from substance abuse.
Another cost to society is the loss of our finest
minds. The brain drain of our best researchers is very
real. Consider the fact that the U.S. government
spends six times more on research in Canada than does
the Canadian government itself.
At this point you may be asking yourselves what is
required. We have a document that was published last
year, in 1998, entitled Canada's Drug Strategy,
by the Government of Canada. What we see missing from
it, when compared with similar documents from other
countries, is a clear expression of federal leadership
coupled with long-term commitment to address this
Canada requires immediate federal reinvestment in
substance abuse programs. We know the provinces and
the Federation of Canadian Municipalities want the
federal government to take the lead and look forward to
working with you in this area, which is why we also
need a comprehensive and coordinated national drug
We've heard that the government is prepared to invest
$115 million in the RCMP to address drug trafficking
and that the Solicitor General recently announced the
creation of a $3 million research unit on substance
abuse for the Correctional Service of Canada. We
applaud these efforts but note that they need to be
part of a greater overall, more visible, coordinated
strategic effort that sets out specific goals and
Why does this challenge lie with the federal
government? Because this is a national issue that
affects the health and safety of Canadians and the
economy of Canada.
Where to invest? Our network of addictions workers,
police, community groups, and all levels of government
would strongly support a federal government
reinvestment in prevention programs, treatment programs
that are cost-shared with the provinces, research by
investing in the proposed Canadian institute of health
research on addictions, knowledge transfers so that
lessons learned in one part of Canada can be used by
others across the country, and national and
international coordination. Finally we propose that
you capitalize and build on credible organizations such
as the CCSA.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, we come to the issue of how
much to invest. Rather than giving you a specific
figure, we have developed a chart, which is included in
the presentation that was handed to members, to
provide a means of comparison with three countries with
similar socio-economic conditions to our own. You will
see by the chart that we've outlined the
annual national anti-drug budget for the United States,
the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
More specifically, we were unable to quantify the
annual national budget for Canada simply because there
is no known figure for that at this point. We can tell
you, however, that the per capita expenditure by the U.S.,
the United Kingdom, and Australia is reflected in the chart.
What we do know is the national addictions
agencies' annual budgets. On the chart you can see
that in the United States $1 billion has been budgeted for
a national addictions agency very much like the Canadian
Centre on Substance Abuse. You can work your way down to
the United Kingdom and its per capita investment, and
at the bottom is Canada with an annual core
budget for the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse of
$575,000, which represents a 2¢ per Canadian
The bottom line, Mr. Chairman, is that the federal
government needs to reinvest in the area of substance
abuse and to reinstate in the next budget CCSA's original budget
allocation of $2 million. Among the
competing causes before you, we submit that you view
this not as a cost but as an investment that all
Canadians will support and understand.
Thank you very much for your attention.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Perron.
Now we hear from the Canadian Automatic Merchandising
Association: Dan Stewart, president; Jean-François
Marchand; and Don Braden. Welcome.
Mr. Dan Stewart (President, Canadian Automatic
Merchandising Association): Thank you. Good morning,
Mr. Chairman, committee members, and other witnesses.
The Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association is a
national association representing the vending industry
across Canada, and we are really the only national
voice of the vending industry in Canada. We have been
around since 1953 representing the interests of the
We are humbled to be here among the very important
social issue groups appearing before the committee.
We are a business group, however. We are not here to
seek funding or subsidies, but rather, compensation for
costs resulting from an unintended consequence of a
government action to save the Canadian taxpayers
hundreds of millions of dollars.
In July 2000 the Royal Canadian Mint will be
introducing new coins in the nickel, dime, quarter, and
fifty cent denominations. These are examples of these
new coins. Basically, the mint has developed a process
to manufacture these coins at a much lower cost.
Rather than the solid alloy coins we now have, these
are steel coins that are plated, and they significantly
reduce production costs.
The issue the vending industry faces is that our coin
mechanisms, of which I have a couple of examples here,
validate coins by taking electronic readings off
them, but the different metal gives off different
readings, so these coins will not be recognized by our
machines. This applies, for all intents and purposes,
to virtually all of the vending machines in Canada. So
our industry is faced with a cost approaching $90
million to upgrade our machines to take these new
The projected savings to the mint are quite
substantial. We're talking here about $12.5 million
per year. Over the life of the coin of 20 years,
that's projected to be $190 million. So there are
The point the Canadian Automatic Merchandising
Association would like to make is that this cost will
not be borne by any sector other than the vending
industry, so for the sectors we compete against
traditionally, such as the convenient stores, the fast
food restaurants, and the cafeterias, these coins will be
a totally transparent issue, and they will incur no costs
to handle them. However, we will.
We're predominantly made up of small
business people, and to us this represents a very
significant cost. It could very much hurt our
businesses and our employment situation. It's not
possible, of course, for us just to raise prices. We have
to be competitive, and this is going to put us in a
very uncompetitive situation.
I think that pretty well sums it up.
We've put together a three-point recommendation:
compensation should be paid for the direct equipment,
hardware, software, and labour costs incurred by an
operator in making modifications to coin acceptors
required as a result of the changes in the content; the
compensation should only relate to costs required by the
metal change; and the compensation should be for costs
incurred during the period of September 1, 1999,
through to December 31, 2000, which represents the
timeframe when updates will become available to accept
these new coins.
We estimate this package to cap out at around
$21 million. I mentioned earlier a cost approaching
$90 million. Some of our coin changers will have to be
replaced. They are not capable of being upgraded. We
feel it's fair and reasonable to seek compensation for
a portion of that cost because that replacement will
happen because of the metal content change. Those
changers would have otherwise given us years of
usefulness. So we've allocated a figure of about $80
per machine to upgrade.
At this point I would like to have my
colleague, Jean-François Marchand, who is a vending
operator in Trois-Rivières,
say a few words.
Mr. Jean-François Marchand (Member, Canadian Automatic
Merchandising Association): Good morning. My name is Jean-François
Marchand and I have a vending machine business. My company owns
650 vending machines. We have estimated the cost per machine at
approximately $80. I will let you do the calculations.
We are a small business, with 13 employees. These expenditures
will most certainly prevent us from expanding, hiring more people
and purchasing new trucks.
For us, this is a real problem. We will also be under the gun
time-wise, given the number of machines we have. We will have to
convert 650 machines over a nine-month period. We will have to
spend several minutes on each one of these machines to make the
A lot of changes have been made to coins over the years,
including the launching of $1 and $2 coins. As these new coins were
put into circulation, we had to make the necessary updates to our
machines. We have known since 1995 that these new coins, with a
different metal composition, were going to be introduced, but we
were not able to begin making the changes until the end of
September given that manufacturers were not ready before. We have
nine months left and we want to be ready for July 2000. For all of
these reasons we believe it would be only fair to compensate us.
The Chair: Are there any further comments?
Mr. Jean-François Marchand: That's it.
The Chair: Thank you.
Now we hear from the Canadian Professional Sales
Association, Terry Ruffel, president. Welcome.
Mr. Terry Ruffel (President, Canadian Professional
Sales Association): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and
yes, it's our opportunity to come back again, and we
On behalf of the 32,000 sales professionals comprising
the membership of the Canadian Professional Sales
Association, thanks for inviting us to share our
pre-budget submission with the standing committee. This
marks the fifth consecutive year the CPSA has
participated in the hearings, and we've found this
over the years to be highly useful and highly
Our members represent all sectors of the economy, from
the sales and marketing executives of larger
corporations to the entrepreneurs who operate small
businesses across Canada. Regardless of size,
however, our members all know that a key ingredient to
sales success is a buoyant economy in which businesses
and individual consumers alike have the confidence to
purchase goods and services.
When I mention to you that I'm speaking on behalf of
our membership, I can make that statement with
confidence. As part of our internal pre-budget
preparations each year, we conduct a survey of our
members, and their views form the basis of our
submission. Certainly our views today are a little
bit broader in nature than what you've heard.
I want to share two highlights with you of our survey
results. First, 93.5% of the respondents stated that a
tax reduction would serve the goal of economic
stimulation among this group. Almost three-quarters
favoured a personal income tax reduction. So there's
strong support for tax reduction.
Second, only 4.3%, right down to the bottom of them,
replied that the surplus should be used to increase
spending on national programs and services. The
remainder were almost equally split on using surplus to
lower the national debt and to reduce tax burden.
I say that, Mr. Chairman, in the context that I know
you've heard from other groups, including my associate
here. As you've said before in your
second-last hearing, certainly there are very valuable
causes. That said, we as a business organization
believe there are a couple of other priorities first.
Obviously the vast majority of our members do not
accept the government's position that only 50% of the
surplus should be applied to debt reduction and tax
relief. The CPSA has two major reasons for opposing
the 50-50 formula.
First, as the standing committee itself has reported,
about 27¢ of every dollar of Canadian government
revenues goes towards interest on the debt.
Second, in its most recent report on household
spending, Statistics Canada indicated that in 1997
personal income taxes made up the largest share of
household spending. With personal income taxes at high
levels and the cost of servicing the debt consuming 27%
of every personal income tax dollar, our members find
it difficult to understand why taxes should be
redirected to more spending.
The finance minister indicated that the consensus of
the private sector forecasts was for real growth to be
around 3.6%. Our members are not quite as optimistic
about the economic outlook; 41% said the respondents in
our survey believed that Canadian consumers lacked
confidence to keep the economy healthy next year.
There are some valid reasons they feel this way.
In an August report on retail trade, Statistics Canada
noted that from the third quarter of 1998 to the second
quarter of this year, consumer credit increased by 5%
while the rate of personal income advanced by only half
of that amount. At the same time, gasoline prices are
advancing so rapidly that they are placing considerable
pressure on the consumer price index. I guess we're
all aware of that now.
If the Bank of Canada's inflation target of 3% is to
be maintained, the bank may have little alternative but
to increase interest rates, as it has already been
forced to do. With Canadians deeply in debt, the
prospect of higher interest rates becomes somewhat
alarming within the context of economic growth. In
addition, higher interest rates will surely have a
dampening effect on the residential building industry.
I think you heard from our associates in an earlier
In summary, Mr. Chairman, our pre-budget submission,
which we have filed with you among a number of other
associations, focuses on some straightforward messages.
They are: reduce personal income taxes, continue to
attack the debt, resist the temptation of increased
program spending, and take steps to ensure the
continuation of economic health.
There's one more comment we might make, and that is to
do more than pay lip service to tax simplification.
We've talked about it a number of times over the years
and we've seen very little done in that regard.
I look forward to discussing these positions with you
today. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll now hear from Sarah Shartal, coordinator of the
Income Protection Working Group.
Ms. Sarah Shartal (Coordinator, Income Protection
Working Group): We're probably one of the more unusual
groups that you'll hear from. The Income Protection
Working Group is a group of volunteers, members of all three
parties, working out of Toronto. We came together
because of rising homelessness in the city of Toronto,
asking a very simple question. If we have social
safety programs, this sacred trust that we're told
about, then why are so many people homeless in the
We've given you a brief, which includes a lot of
different things. I'm only going to be referring to
the top portion of this.
I'm now bringing some graphs from the city of Toronto.
You'll have these in there. As you can see, the rate
of increase began to rise dramatically towards the end
of 1996 and the beginning of 1997. We now have an
estimated 5,000 individuals on the street. Between two
and five people a week are dying on our streets.
Seventy percent of all homeless people in Toronto have
been exposed to tuberculosis.
What we did is complementary to the Golden
report. Golden has accepted our report and it is in
Golden II, which came out last week. We went down and
asked people in the shelters how they had ended up
there. What we found was that over 70%, huge numbers,
had work histories before they became homeless and that
overwhelmingly what had happened is they had lost a
job, gotten sick, been hurt at work, or had a family
crisis. What was common to all of them was that when
that crisis occurred, they had no money, which is why,
when we presented these numbers to the Toronto
Star, we could see that the connection was very
No benefits doesn't mean that people go away; it
simply means they have no money: no money, no rent; no
rent, no housing; and a proportion fall through to
What we were looking at to complement our own study
findings were the national findings. Working with
Statistics Canada, we have found that the two biggest
programs whose cuts have affected Toronto are
employment insurance and Canada Pension disability.
It's really simple. The single most common reason
people gave for ending up homeless was that they lost a
job and they had no money. When 76% of all of the
people who pay into EI in Toronto get no money—you
will also see this number in there—and when half a
billion dollars is drained from the pockets of poor
people by the EI cuts, it does not take a rocket
scientist to understand.
When the people who are poorest get no government help
when they lose a job, they are the people who are most
likely to lose their housing. When they lose their
housing, they have very few resources. Commonly, the
scenario is that they go sleep on somebody's couch, but
eventually they end up on the street. If we want to
end homelessness, yes, we have to have affordable
housing, but to be able to afford housing, you have to
have an income. Without income, no housing is
The other side, which has been completely forgotten in
the debate, is that for the overwhelming majority of
Canadians, unemployment sick benefits are the only sick
benefits they have. Of the four people who died last
week on the street, two died because they were
discharged from hospital. We know, and again it
doesn't take rocket science to figure out, that if you
get sick, you lose your job and you have no money. Then
in addition to no housing, you have no prescription
drugs. The fact that unemployment sick benefits are
denied people means they get sicker.
In addition, even without cuts to EI, there is
something that is really quite extraordinary: EI sick
benefits end after 17 weeks. Canada Pension
disability, which is the long-term disability plan,
doesn't kick in for about four more months.
Some cancer patients have been writing in to the
papers asking what they're supposed to do.
Unfortunately I didn't bring it; it would have been in
your package. So someone who has cancer, someone who
has a serious and chronic illness, ends up going on
general welfare. Well, unfortunately, in this province
general welfare is not enough to pay your rent.
What we're finding with that 70% who are exposed to
tuberculosis is that if you trace their histories back,
many of them worked. When they began to get sick, they
had no money because they didn't qualify for EI. If
they don't qualify for sick benefits, they don't pay
their rent, they don't eat, they don't buy drugs, and
they fall through. If they do qualify for EI, they
can't get on Canada Pension because the two programs
don't bridge, and they lose in the middle.
What we've given you here is our own brief with our
proposals to Canada Pension, which say at a minimum at
least bridge between sick benefits and Canada Pension.
If not, if you're not prepared to reconsider changes to
the whole EI structure, at least please consider
changes to the sick benefit portion so that people who
get sick get some money.
The thing that actually drove us in part to come here
was a letter from Minister Bradshaw, which you'll see
two-thirds of the way through. With great respect, we
can't start to fix our social programs if we don't
acknowledge that there is a relationship between the
failure of our social programs and homelessness.
The letter from Minister Bradshaw, while very polite,
doesn't acknowledge this. We know that she's not
responsible for these programs, but what we need is an
acknowledgement that there is a relationship between
income support programs, which is why we're called the
Income Protection Working Group, and homelessness. At
this point, our federal government does not acknowledge
that. What we wish to bring to your attention is that
the dramatic rise in homelessness in Toronto coincides,
at least contemporaneously, with the cuts to
John Jagt, who is the head of the shelter system
and who actually gave us these statistics as part of
the homelessness advisory committee we
participate in, has pointed out two things.
did it mean that more people in Toronto lost their jobs
and had no money, it also meant that people in other
parts of Canada who lost their jobs and had no money
came in larger numbers to Toronto, and we saw a dramatic
rise in homeless young men, which we continue to see.
At a really simple level, one of the basic
responsibilities of government is to keep citizens from
dying. If you are at all interested in keeping
citizens from dying and from getting sick with things
like tuberculosis, please consider the employment
insurance and Canadian pension programs. The rest of
it you'll see in the submission—our own history, our
own surveys, the kinds of findings we've come up
with, and we have included a small amount of the press
that's been covered in Toronto.
We are in fact the
first group that has actually said, how did
people get homeless? Most of the studies, including
the Golden report, which is quite wonderful, look at
people from the point at which they're homeless. We
asked the question, what happened before you became
homeless? And what we found was, almost universally,
people were not totally disabled when they lost
housing. But by the time we interviewed them, somewhere
between months and years later, 60% were unemployable.
The rise in chronic illnesses, the aggravation of
mental health issues, exposure to diseases are really
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll now hear from the Ontario Municipal Employees
Retirement System: the chair, Susan O'Gorman, and
Michael Beswick, senior vice-president, pensions.
Ms. Susan O'Gorman (Chair, Ontario Municipal
Employees Retirement System): Mr. Chair, honourable
members, thank you for this opportunity to speak to you
today about how some relatively simple changes in
government policy can help ensure that many thousands
of Canadians will enjoy a comfortable, secure future.
As a provider of pension services and an institutional
investor, we are concerned with maintaining a strong
social infrastructure and a strong prosperous economy.
As Canada's third-largest pension plan, serving more
than 270,000 members, we have more than 35 years of
experience in planning for the future. OMERS was
established in 1963 to provide pension services to
local government employees, and our jointly governed
board now manages more than $33 billion in assets on
behalf of our members.
I'd like to talk to you today about the three
recommendations we submitted to you in our written
brief. These concern the policy on surplus limits for
pensions, foreign content limits, and the benefit and
contribution limits for registered plans. First, I'll
address the surplus limits for pension plans.
Current law on pension surpluses hinders the prudent
management of pension plans and therefore threatens the
future well-being of those who depend on them. The
Income Tax Act imposes a 10% limit on pension plan
surpluses. At that point the act requires that
employer contributions cease. This arbitrary rule
means that pension plans, which are in the business of
planning for the long term, are forced to make
short-term decisions that may be detrimental to the
plan. The requirement to cease contributions when the
surplus rises above 10% is of particular concern.
OMERS' legislation requires that when employers stop
so must employees. Our projections predict that if the
contribution holiday continues until the surplus dips
below 10%, then the momentum will be too strong to resist.
The funded ratio of the plan will fall below 100% with
the ironic result that contribution rates will have to
be increased, inflicting hardship on employers and
We therefore urge the government to raise the surplus
limit to 20%, which our projections show would be much
more workable. Alternatively, legislation should allow
Revenue Canada staff to accept a long-term surplus
management plan from pension plans that would spell out
a course of action to gradually lower the surplus below
the limit imposed by the Income Tax Act.
I'd like to turn to our second area of concern now,
the foreign content limit.
As you know, the Income Tax Act prohibits more than
20% of the book value of the assets of a registered
pension plan or RRSP from being invested in foreign
assets. This is known as the foreign property rule and
applies to all registered pension plans as well as the
Canada Pension Plan. While the FPR may have made sense
in the past, it makes no sense today for many reasons.
It inhibits the development of a Canadian-based global
investment capability and is inconsistent with
evolving competition law and the spirit of NAFTA. More
specifically, Canada's major institutional investors
now have difficulty finding places to invest their
dollars as they become disproportionately large in
relation to the size of Canada's stock and bond
markets. OMERS is one example. The new CPP investment
board will soon become another example. With the
continuation of the 20% FPR, this may cause unnecessary
illiquidity and market impact risks in Canadian
Canadians are losing income because of the rule. Some
have estimated the future annual cost of the FPR at
about 0.2% of the Canadian pension fund and
mutual-fund-based RRSP assets. This amounts to more than $1
billion a year in pension wealth forfeited by
Canadians. In a typical pension plan, this translates
to a 3% to 4% decrease in pension benefits or increase
The FPR prevents Canadian investors from effectively
diversifying their pension assets and achieving the
best possible return on their investments by forcing
them to hold at least 80% of their assets in the
securities of a market that represents only 3% to 4% of
the global portfolio. At the same time, the rule prevents
Canadian pension fund managers from properly carrying
out their prime obligation—maximizing return for
We therefore urge the government to remove the 20%
limit on foreign property held by pension plans and
RRSPs. Effective immediately, it should be raised by 2%
annual increments for a period of five years until it
reaches 30%. The government should then look at
eliminating it completely to provide maximum
opportunity for institutional and individual investors.
Our third recommendation concerns benefit and
contribution limits for registered plans. The current
contribution limits for RRSPs and registered pension
plans discriminate against hundreds of thousands of
middle- and upper-income Canadians by preventing them
from contributing enough to maintain their standard of
living after retirement. Through their taxes, they pay
towards programs like guaranteed income supplement and
old age security so that others can afford to retire
with a reasonable income. Yet they themselves are
denied this opportunity.
The maximum pension payable from a registered pension
plan has been frozen for 22 years, and the RRSP
deduction limit has not yet reached the $15,500 level.
These limits have not kept pace with inflation. Had
they been indexed, pension plans would now cover
earnings up to $250,000 and would deliver pensions that
are equivalent to RRSP contributions of about $45,000
per annum. These limits would be similar to those
found in both the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom, where
retirement systems and living standards are similar to
We believe the government should commit to at least
double the RRSP and pension contribution limits to
$27,000 per year. It should also increase the defined
benefit pension limits from $1,722 to $3,000 per year.
These changes would produce a more competitive
retirement income tax system that would treat all
Canadians fairly, regardless of income.
OMERS has outlined three simple ways the government
can revise tax policy to deliver an enhanced quality of
life to Canadians. Pension plans and individual
savings play a key role in ensuring Canadians continue
to prosper into the new millennium, and the federal
government must ensure their continued viability.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll now proceed to the question-and-answer session.
It will be a seven-minute round starting with Mr.
Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to the witnesses
for appearing and for their testimony.
I want to start by asking a question of Ms. O'Gorman
with respect to the issue of foreign content rules.
OMERS represents municipal workers, is that right?
Ms. Susan O'Gorman: Yes, they do.
Mr. Monte Solberg: And if I remember right, a lot
of these people, as municipal workers, probably didn't
have big incomes when they were working—
Ms. Susan O'Gorman: That's correct.
Mr. Monte Solberg: —so they're obviously very
interested in getting the best possible return
they can get on their retirement savings.
context of what's going on, for instance, in Seattle
today, where we have a lot of concern about investment
across borders, is it fair to say that the
workers you represent are in favour of allowing more
investment in markets outside of Canada?
Mr. Michael Beswick (Senior Vice-President,
Pensions, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement
System): I think in the first place it's a
misnomer to say that we represent the workers in the
municipal sector in Ontario. We are trustees on their
behalf and we have a fiduciary duty to look after the
assets of their pension plan.
Mr. Monte Solberg: Sure.
Mr. Michael Beswick: Part of that fiduciary duty
is to seek the best return we can get on those assets.
Social commentary, social values, social agendas—we
try not to get involved with that in the investment of
Strictly from an economic point of view, this
committee in an earlier year, the Senate committee, and
all the leading financial commentators in this country
have been urging the government for years to raise that
foreign limit, and have made very persuasive arguments
as to why it should be done, beyond just increasing
returns on the money. It provides increasing expertise
for Canadian investors in a world that is increasingly
global and so on.
So, yes, the social values and the opinions of the
municipal workers are important, but we are in a
different position from that of elected officials, for
example, who represent those members. We are
fiduciaries and trustees and must take a different
Mr. Monte Solberg: Right.
Having said all that, you have people sitting on your
board who represent labour, obviously. I'm curious to
know, is this never a factor or are they simply
concerned about getting the best possible return, or,
putting it another way, ensuring that they don't have
all their eggs in one basket in Canada's markets, which
are obviously a pretty small part of the total world
Mr. Michael Beswick: Yes, we do. We have a lay
board. We're quite proud of the fact that we can point
to many years of effective and efficient operation of
Yes, the board from time to time has very lively
debates on such issues as South Africa, Talisman Energy Inc.,
and various other issues, but I think it's an
achievement of the OMERS board that, in the end, the
hats are put aside and the board acts as a fiduciary
for the good of the whole. I think we can point to
many years of operation that exhibit this.
Mr. Monte Solberg: Just for the record, I'm very
supportive of what you're proposing. I think it's a
good idea. I think it's also important to point out,
however, that free trade in investment is helpful to
Canadian workers. This is a very good example of it if
we can urge the government to move off their 20%
foreign property rule.
I'd like to address the issue of the government's
50-50 promise. I'll open this up to anyone who wants
to address it.
The government has argued strongly that we need to
reinvest—and perhaps Ms. Shartal would agree with
this—and put more money into social programs, for
instance. I also note, looking at the national
accounts of Canada, that program spending in Canada,
when you look at the federal and provincial levels of
government, is at a record high. It peaked in
1990-91, during the recession, and has stayed at that
level in real terms since that time. Despite the fact
that unemployment has gone down dramatically from that
period, we still have the same level of spending.
On the one hand, we hear from Ms. Shartal that the
social safety net is frayed, that people are falling
through the net and left on the streets, and on the
other hand, we have people arguing that we need to see
major tax relief and major debt reduction, things I'm
very sympathetic toward, frankly.
I wonder if people would care to address those
As well, maybe the business community can tell us if
they have some ideas on solutions to the types of
problems Ms. Shartal is talking about.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: The first responsibility of
government is to see that its citizens don't die.
Cutting aside all of the nonsense, two to five people a
week are dying of exposure on the streets of—
Mr. Monte Solberg: They're dying of exposure?
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Yes.
Mr. Monte Solberg: Freezing to death?
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Two to five John Does, as
they're called, or street people, die a week. Exposure
is one of the issues. Two of the people who died last
week had recently been discharged from hospital. When
you get discharged from hospital, except for St. Mike's
centre, which opened last night, you have no place
Mr. Monte Solberg: Right. Well—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Just hold on a second.
This is not something people are making up.
This is not an impression. You can call the coroner's
office in Toronto.
The paradox is this: While unemployment has gone
down, homelessness has risen dramatically from about
the same date. We're simply saying that when a social
safety net leaves the most vulnerable dying, there is
something wrong with it. Are there no poorhouses? Are
there no prisons? Or is it us sitting down to ask how
we see to it that people don't die on the streets of
I'm a new Canadian. When I came to Canada twenty
years ago, I came from a country with a great many
beggars. I loved civility. Cars went up the street on
one side, down the other, and we didn't have beggars.
There is not a street corner in Toronto now without
The first responsibility of government is to see that
its people don't die. When 70% of the street people
are exposed to tuberculosis; when people are dying and
showing up as John Does on the street when we know they
tried to get in; and when we're at 100% capacity in the
shelter structure, we can't keep creating shelter beds.
We have to stop creating homelessness.
Mr. Monte Solberg: I think it's important to get
to the bottom of the figures, though, because if we
don't know, for instance, how people are dying, then we
can't develop appropriate solutions.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: We know they are dying.
Actually, those things are known. You can call the
coroner's office. They are dying from combined
diseases and exposure. They are not dying because of
murder; they are dying of disease and exposure.
We find people dead in alleys. That is the
The graph I showed you actually comes out of hostel
services. It doesn't come out of any other agency. We
have had a dramatic rise in the number of people
sleeping in hostel beds and we know we have another
2,000 people in the parks. Those aren't made-up
numbers. Those people weren't there ten years ago.
They are there now.
If you don't want to have 4,000 people sleeping in the
streets in another two or three years... because the
numbers keep compounding exponentially. You'll see
that on these graphs.
We're not a special interest group in this. Members
of our own committee come from all three parties. We
just want to know why, if we have a social safety net,
so many people are on the street.
Mr. Terry Ruffel: From the business community
perspective... and obviously it's tough to respond after
that. I also live in Toronto, and I'm also aware, as I
work in downtown Toronto, of the problem. They're real
I have a couple of observations. I guess part of our
concern is what is at risk here if we don't deal with
our national debt. We have a mortgage on the country.
It's rather substantial. If interest rates perk up
again, I think all of the progress we've made in the
years of getting the deficit under control will be at
We heard from the committee and noted in our own
submission that 27% of your budget goes toward interest
payments, and to my mind, that is a crime. If we pay down
the mortgage and eliminate that, I think some of the
interest payments and some of the budgetary spending
that could be freed up would go to these causes,
including this cause over here.
So I really do believe it is a crime that we're paying
interest payments like that and that a substantial part
of the budget and a substantial part of what Canadians
pay in their personal taxes goes toward interest
If we get our national debt under control, pay the
mortgage down—and I don't believe $3 billion is going
to do it if the number is $580 billion or $590
billion—then I really think we could start to do that.
If we don't address the national debt, then I think
other things are at risk. So I do think there's an
opportunity to redirect funds.
I also heard from Ms. Shartal earlier that programs at
work would help. She also raised the issue of the EI
funds. I don't think the EI fund should be a surplus
accumulation fund. I've never heard of that.
Operating from an insurance term, if we pay the
premiums sufficient to do whatever causes and to
protect employment, then as our other witness was
saying earlier, there are other needs for it too.
What if you had a hard look at yourself and said
“Are we in the surplus accumulation business?” Let's
get the premiums sized down to what the purpose of the
fund is, the real purpose. And I'm hearing other
evidence that other “real purposes” could be
The Chair: Mr. Ruffel, I hear what you're saying
about the debt, and that's a very important issue, but
you're not suggesting the debt issue and taking care of
homeless people are mutually exclusive?
Mr. Terry Ruffel: No, they aren't. If you pay
down the debt and free up interest payments, there's a
tremendous opportunity to do other things
The Chair: But for the immediate problem we face,
do we wait until the debt is... In other words, how
many people are going to be found in the alleys of
Mr. Terry Ruffel: That's a tough decision. I also
heard that programs at work would help, and I also
heard about fixing the EI fund and the purpose of the
EI fund and sizing it properly. There are gaps in
there. So there are solutions, immediate solutions. I
don't know what the answers are, but accumulating
surplus within the fund is not the right answer.
Things can be done immediately.
The Chair: Okay, thanks.
Mr. Yvan Loubier (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, BQ): Ms. Shartal,
you said that every day between two and five people die...
Mrs. Sarah Shartal: No, not every day; two to five persons die
from the coroner's office that before the
snow, we average between two and five John Does showing
up a week—homeless people. The John Does are the
people who can't be identified. In fact one of the
ones who died, I think it was three weeks ago—we'd
been trying to get a room for him, but the shelters are
at 100% capacity, and during the night, when we didn't
get a room for him, he died.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: I am trying to tie this in with what Mr.
Terry Ruffel was saying earlier. Let's say we will need 25 to 30
years to pay back the debt. If a minimum of two people die every
week and you multiply that by 52, it starts to amount to a lot of
Ms. Sarah Shartal: In one city. By the way, the
same numbers are repeated in most of the major cities,
because there has been a differential impact to the
major cities in the unemployment insurance cuts and in
the number of people coming looking for work.
We are a rich country. This is not a third world
country. I come from a third world country, and I
admit that I am shocked. We have shantytowns in
Toronto like in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This country is
rich enough to take care of its most vulnerable.
It took me seven months to get benefits for somebody
who was both severely physically disabled and
schizophrenic. I have Canada Pension decisions coming
back saying “Yes, your doctor says you're disabled,
but he never sent you for a CAT scan. Therefore you
can't possibly be disabled enough to get Canada
Pension.” The guy has $100 a month without CPP. You
don't pay the rent on that.
The point of EI and the point of Canada Pension is to
pay the rent. If people pay into it, they should be
able to collect out of it. It's not complicated. I
wouldn't have Tory members of church congregations
working on this project if it weren't that simple. And
I mean, really, I never thought I'd be working so
closely with the Salvation Army.
It's really simple. We want people who lose their
jobs to have enough money to pay their rent. We want
people who get sick to have sick benefits. That's part
of unemployment insurance. We want women who give
birth to be able to collect maternity leave. It's not
a complicated question. Homelessness is about no
money; it's not about the buildings.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: Mr. Ruffel, you said it was necessary to
reduce employment insurance premiums. As you mentioned, this fund
is accumulating an enormous surplus, as high as $6 or $7 billion a
year. In view of what Mrs. Shartal said earlier and since only 42%
of unemployed workers who pay the premiums are entitled to
benefits, don't you think that after four consecutive years of
premium cuts for employers, in particular, the time has come to fix
the shortcomings of the system in order to no more have only 42% of
the unemployed getting benefits and to bring that figure to at
least 75 to 80% of all people without a job?
As Mrs. Shartal mentioned, people fall through the gaps right
now. They get marginalized. Their benefits are cut off and very
often they are not eligible to welfare. They fall into poverty
before getting back into the work force and this is why we have
such homelessness. There is one thing we see more and more in
Toronto and Montreal: it is not only individuals who are homeless,
whole families are sleeping in the streets. What do you think of
Mr. Terry Ruffel: Obviously I share your concerns.
My only comment is to size the premium versus the
benefits you're paying out. My understanding is now
there's a huge surplus within the fund. If you want to
expand your programs and cover some of the obvious
needs, I don't know what the costs of that are. I
think what you have to do, from a government
perspective in your role, is to make sure the premiums
cover the benefits.
To have a huge surplus accumulating in there going
into consolidated revenues is not the proper purpose of
the EI fund. So it's the role of government to figure
out what should be covered and what limits there should
be. I'm not going to tell you today whether these
needs are valid. I'm sure there are others. But I
would think if you at least get the premiums matched to
the coverage and then cap the surplus, I would presume
there's more than enough to cover the valid uses.
My only comment is, yes, there are lots of uses, but
don't go into the surplus accumulation business.
That's not right for government.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: My last question is for Mr. Perron or
Mr. Lecavalier or both.
As you know, the day before yesterday, the Bloc Québécois
moved a motion in the House of Commons asking that an order of
reference be given to the Justice committee to look into better
ways to fight organized crime. One of the most lucrative activities
of organized crime is producing and distributing illegal drugs. So,
over the coming year, the Justice committee will look at this
issue, among others, which is in my view the major one. If you clip
the wings of organized crime in the area of drugs, you cut it down
I have one question for you since you deal extensively with
drug dependency. It is extremely difficult to get exact and recent
figures on the evolution of drug use: drug trafficking, multiple
addictions, age of new addicts. Would it be possible over the
coming few months for an organization like yours to compile data on
the evolution of this problem? We hear everywhere that heroine
addicts are becoming younger and younger—they talk about 12 or
13 year old children—, but we are unable to put any figures on
this in order to show the importance of taking effective action at
this level and to invest the required amounts to do so. Would you
have these statistics or do you plan to compile those statistics
over the coming month? It will be of fundamental importance next
Mr. Michel Perron: Mr. Loubier, I will start answering your
question and I will ask my colleague to jump in if he wants.
We fully support the emphasis on organized crime in Canada.
However, we also recognize, as do the police who are our partners
in this struggle, that in order to fight against the problem of
addiction in Canada, we need a balanced approach.
We will need to focus on drug trafficking, as you envision. We
will also need to anticipate the needs of addicts and to put into
place better prevention and research programs, modelled on those
that are recognized as the most effective.
That being said, the issue of statistics you raise is very
relevant. It is a very good question. This is one thing on which we
would like to focus next year. We have at the present time a
network called the Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug
Use. It is a rather long title.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: You can spell it out later.
Mr. Michel Perron: I will get for you the French title. It is
a national network of 14 centres located throughout the country,
where we have various professional groups, coroners, people who
work in the area of addiction, police forces and health services in
order to get a handle on the evolution of addiction in our
communities. What are the new drugs? How powerful and how pure are
It is mainly a voluntary community network. However the CCSA,
our organization, is the overseer. We try to coordinate this
network of 14 groups. If we want to have good policies in the area
of drug use, in order to know where to invest our money, it is
absolutely essential to invest in this network.
I fully support your suggestion. This network which is
presently in place but which is very fragile since we lack funding,
could do a lot to provide the statistics we require in order to
determine where to invest.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: You understand that if we want to adopt a
balanced approach between repression, changes to the Criminal Code
and prevention, we require this type of statistics. We may have an
intuitive knowledge of the problem, but we also need to measure it
correctly in order to take appropriate measures.
I would like to ask a final question if the Chairman will let
You say in your brief that the level of drug use among youth
is back to 1970 levels and that attitudes toward drugs are
softening. I quite agree with you, but this is a rather misleading
statistic. Even if the level of use is the same as in the 1970s,
what was being consumed back then was rather benign pot, containing
1 or 2% THC, while the cannabis being grown today in the fields of
Quebec and Ontario especially contains 7% THC, seven times more. It
can go as high as 30% in hydroponic cultures.
So when you talk about the level of drug use, I believe you,
but this leaves out one essential piece of information. What drugs
are young people using and why is legalization a jump into the
dark? Is it because of this? Today, so-called soft drugs have
become hard drugs. Tell me what you think, but if we legalize
so-called soft drugs, which are not soft any more, like cannabis,
prices will drop and we surely will shut out organized crime out of
this lucrative activity. However, what organized crime will lose in
terms of price, it will get back in terms of quantities sold. If
the price of cannabis drops, the price of heroine and cocaine will
drop also, because these drugs have almost become substitutes.
What do you think of this analysis? In your view, should we
look at legalizing so-called soft drugs or do you completely reject
this in view of your experience with substance abuse?
Mr. Michel Perron: First of all, I fully agree with you on the
present level of THC in cannabis. We are seeing very high rates.
Cannabis is being exported from British Columbia to the United
States and is being exchanged pound for pound for cocaine, which
fully confirms what you say.
We also have a problem. There are many reasons why more and
more young people become drug users these days. It is because we
have a more liberal attitude, because drugs are becoming banalized
in Canada, which does not take into account the strength and the
purity of these drugs, as you mentioned.
The term "legalization" can mean many different things to
different people. Leaving aside the needs of addicts, which are an
essential part of this discussion, the concept of legalization is
mainly a red herring, in my view, that plays well in the media,
while we should first of all invest in things we know and which
will benefit the addicts. Supply is only one side of the coin.
There are also social problems which lead people to use drugs. We
must look at this in the context of public health and not
In my view, the priority should not necessarily be to change
the law, but rather to invest in prevention, in treatment and
research programs proven to be effective. The present law leaves us
a lot of room to manoeuvre. It allows us to do all sorts of things.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: I was talking about changing the Criminal
Code in order to deal with criminals and not with addicts.
Mr. Michel Perron: I beg your pardon? I didn't hear.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: When I talked about legislative changes I
meant changes to fight against criminals, not addicts.
Mr. Michel Perron: We are on the same wavelength.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Michel Perron: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Loubier.
Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.): Thank
This is for the vending machine operators. When the
toonie came in, there were similar problems. I have a
constituent who is a vendor with only a small number of
machines. The indictment at that time, though, was
that the industry had been catering to the majors like
the Coca-Colas and all the other major vending players
and had not adequately represented the interests of the
small business, the owner-operated type of arrangement.
Is that still the case? Are those small players still
being ignored when it comes to cooperating with the
federal government on changes to coinage?
Mr. Dan Stewart: I'm not sure I fully understand
your question, but if you're indicating that the change
to the $2 coin was made to accommodate big business or
big vending operators, I think that's a misnomer. The
introduction of the $2 coin was done for one simple
reason: cost reduction.
The vending industry lobbied for the dollar coin back
in the early mid-1980s, I would say. We lobbied the
government because we felt the need for that dollar
coin as our prices approached a dollar. Part of our
lobbying campaign was to point out to the government
the cost savings of producing the dollar denomination
in a coin, which lasts 20 years, versus a bill, which
has an average lifespan of six months. That dollar
coin initiative, which was introduced in 1987, I guess,
produced cost savings to the government of $160
million over 20 years.
The $2 coin initiative was not lobbied for by the
vending industry, large or small. It was born purely
of the government's desire to save additional costs.
By replacing the $2 bill with the $2 coin, the
government saves $12.7 million every year, contributing
another $254 million over 20 years to savings.
The metal content issue was the same reasoning. By
reducing the cost of the coins, we've contributed
another $190 million over 20 years, plus a potential
additional $100 million because these coins are very
marketable now. The Royal Canadian Mint has done a
terrific job in developing a coin that they can market
around the world.
The point I'd like to make is that sitting here today
and listening to these witnesses, and I'm sure the
witnesses that the committee hears throughout its
travels... There are a lot of just causes out there,
people needing funding, needing money. As I said
earlier, we don't come before the committee with our
hand out. We understand that any responsible
government has to go through a budget process, and this
committee is a key part of that. Decisions have to be
made—and not always easy ones—that balance
revenue-creating initiatives against cost-reduction
What we'd like to point out here is that the total
coinage initiatives over the last 12 years or so have
created a savings, over 20 years, of $784 million to
the government, by the government's own estimates.
The vending industry has spent a substantial amount of
money to accommodate those changes. We have never
appeared before the finance committee or before the
government seeking any compensation for the cost of
that, because it could be argued that there was some
This change is different because there is absolutely
no benefit, and it puts us in an uncompetitive
position. We're actually looking at it like a small
investment on the government's part to save $784
million over 20 years; that money can be put to very
good use by some of the other witnesses that the
Mr. Paul Szabo: Thanks very much.
Mr. Perron, I was pleased that you mentioned fetal
alcohol syndrome as one of the areas we have to be
aware of in terms of substance abuse issues. I am
aware that something like 5% of birth defects are FAS
related. The Canadian Paediatric Society and
Health Canada have a joint statement on consumption of
alcohol during pregnancy, which is, basically,
The Minister of Justice recently spoke in Edmonton to
an annual meeting of teachers' associations, I think.
She made the statement that about 50% of our
incarcerated youth are FAS, which tells me that there's
something happening out there in terms of awareness.
I know that your work involves statistics, etc. Are
you aware of any work that has been done in terms of
the lifelong costs in regard to FAS children?
Mr. Michel Perron: I'll have my colleague answer
that question, if he may.
Mr. Paul Szabo: Sure.
Mr. Jacques Lecavalier (Associate, Canadian Centre
on Substance Abuse): Thank you, Mr. Szabo.
As we all know, the statistics regarding FAS are very
difficult to obtain, because it's difficult to have a
formal diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome. That's one
of the issues. Certainly when the Canadian Centre on
Substance Abuse, along with a number of other
organizations in Canada, estimated the cost of
substance abuse, that was one of the issues that was
tackled. Unfortunately, we use very conservative
numbers because that's all we have to go by.
At this time we don't have an overall figure for
Canada, but certainly there have been studies conducted
on individuals in terms of a lifetime cost. The
estimate that had been made in the past was in the
millions of dollars per individual.
Mr. Michel Perron: If I may add something, Mr.
Szabo, also one of the major issues, as you well know,
at the centre with our fetal alcohol syndrome
information service, which is jointly funded with
industry, is to get out the prevention message. This
is a situation that is 100% entirely preventable, one
which, as you suggest, has long-term consequences and
which very much affects the youth and the future of our
country, so certainly we fully support...
Mr. Paul Szabo: It's very appropriate, certainly
with regard to the growing concern about healthy
outcomes of children and the kind of attention that's
being paid to the children's agenda.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, I have a point for Sarah.
Thank you for your passion. It's good. I know that
people are sometimes frustrated by what's going on, but
the Minister of Labour, who is responsible for at least
carrying the file on homelessness, has consulted very
widely. There are some realities that have to be dealt
with. Toronto is not reflective of Canada. Toronto is
reflective of a major urban centre.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Absolutely. Of course it is.
Mr. Paul Szabo: The facts out of the Golden
report, Golden I—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Golden II came out last week.
Mr. Paul Szabo: Yes. Golden I didn't include a
summary chart of who in fact are the homeless. I've
forgotten the numbers. Either 42% or 47% of the
homeless in Toronto don't come from Toronto. They've
migrated from right across Canada, quite frankly.
Thirty-five percent, according to Golden, are those
who have some sort of mental illness.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Thirty-five percent of the men
and seventy-five percent of the women.
A voice: Seventy-five percent?
Mr. Paul Szabo: Yes, it's very high.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Seventy-five percent of the
Mr. Paul Szabo: We all know that Mike Harris has
closed about ten mental health units since his
government was first—
A voice: He's your premier—
Mr. Paul Szabo: Well, he's not my... well, he is.
I live in that province, unfortunately.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Yes.
Mr. Paul Szabo: The other one that got me, which I
wanted to ask you about because my interest is
primarily children and youth, is that Golden identified
that about 28% of the homeless in Toronto were youths
who had been alienated from their families. Of those,
70% had experienced physical or sexual abuse. They're
the ones who really are very mobile and do migrate. In
fact this is the urban magnet problem: if you build
it, they will come. Let me see if we can't focus on
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Okay.
Mr. Paul Szabo: We have those young people, many
of whom have had no work attachment.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: That's a different set of
I would turn your attention to looking at
families, because many of them are coming out of the
I don't have the huge chart of the
family system, but you have a small chart of the family
system. It's in the package, and it also comes from
hostel services. What we see is a dramatic increase in
the number of families on the street after 1997. If
you look at Golden II, which came out last week,
one of the primary sources that Golden identifies
as forcing families onto the streets is cuts to
It's really simple. Just let me get back to the way
it deals with kids.
Mr. Paul Szabo: I'm sorry, but you've made me ask
this question. In your statement, you said 76% of the
people paying into the EI system do not qualify for
Ms. Sarah Shartal: These are people who pay into
it. We are only dealing with these people.
Mr. Paul Szabo: But your statement said that 76%
of everybody working—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Everybody who works and pays in
doesn't collect, that's right.
Mr. Paul Szabo: —don't collect.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: They can't collect benefits.
Mr. Paul Szabo: No, you said “do not qualify”.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: They do not qualify for
benefits because they don't have enough hours.
Mr. Paul Szabo: That means only 24% of all
employed people in Canada—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: This is exclusively Toronto.
Mr. Paul Szabo: Okay, then what this says is that
only 24% of all employed people in Toronto have more
than 700 hours of work history in the past year.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: You've got it. Bingo.
Mr. Paul Szabo: It's just not true.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: The numbers of people who pay
Mr. Paul Szabo: I think if you—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I have actually checked these
with StatsCan, and it is in fact true.
Mr. Paul Szabo: All right, I would simply ask you
to check again.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Isn't that for the
Ms. Sarah Shartal: No.
Mr. Paul Szabo: This is just not right.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: What's happening is that there
are a number of issues here in terms of who's covered
and who's not covered. What we find in Toronto is the
dramatic rise of part-time work. We have a number of
categories of people—women, youth, contract workers,
day workers—for whom the growth in part-time work in
Toronto is enormous, so what we're seeing—
Mr. Paul Szabo: The fact is that the vast majority
of people who pay into EI never collect in their lives,
and many businesses and industries and sectors collect
far more out of the system than they ever put in.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: But the point here, and what we
found—and I think the thing that we complement
Golden with, and which was not
asked before when we went down to the shelters—was
what had preceded the loss of housing. The single most
common answer given when we went to the shelters and
asked why they ended up there—because we work from the
bottom up in our work—was that they lost a job and had
Mr. Paul Szabo: My time has run out, but I want to
plant something with you. I want to ask you whether or
not you would also help to bring to the attention of
people you deal with that if 35% are mentally ill, if
28% are youth, if 18% are aboriginals off-reserve, thus
accounting for 90% of the homeless in Toronto—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: No, because those categories
Mr. Paul Szabo: No, that's right out of the Golden
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I thought you were adding them
up. I'm sorry.
Mr. Paul Szabo: If I look at those people and
characterize them, I would characterize them as people
whom no one loves. They have no attachments. There's
nobody in their entire family tree, whatever it might
be, who cares enough about them to get them out of the
situation that you've described to us today. I would
therefore raise with you that the social issue here has
to do with family breakdown and family dysfunction. In
over 90% of the cases of homelessness in Toronto, it
has to do with the fact that there's not a family
member is this world who cares enough about them to
take care of them.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: It's quite possible, but the
other side of it is that poor people tend to come from
poor families. One of the things that we found
overwhelmingly when doing our own research in the work
we've done in the shelters is that it's really
about money in the sense that people didn't go directly
from losing a job, to having no benefits, to the
street. The pattern tended to be that people slept on
people's couches, stayed with friends, or stayed with
relatives for a while. At some point in this, the
family system breaks down because people can't keep
that many people in a house indefinitely.
I'm not entirely sure how much that works. What I saw
mostly, and what I continue to see in my own work, is
that it's poor people who don't have the resources to
cover that many people. I think this is different from
the kids on the street.
Mr. Paul Szabo: I'm just suggesting that many of
the solutions to homelessness are to deal with it after
you have the problem, but there's very little attention
given to how to prevent it before it happens.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I have no question there. We
have more battered women in the municipal shelter
system than we do in the entire provincially funded
shelters for battered women, absolutely.
The point is that we have people on the
street. These processes are occurring, and they are
social. We're not going to fix the families from that
standpoint. All we're saying is that people who lose
work or get sick should have some money to pay the
Mr. Paul Szabo: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: I'll just piggyback on Mr. Szabo's
What percentage of the individuals to whom you're
referring would you term “unemployable”?
Ms. Sarah Shartal: In our definition of
“unemployable”, we're going to be including a larger
study. We work from the people who are currently on
the street, from that 5,000. First, our standard
was whether or not we could expect a person to hand out
flyers at the corner of a major intersection in Toronto
every Tuesday. Did we think this person could commit
to be there every Tuesday to hand out flyers, at a
really minimal level? We found that 60% of the people
we interviewed couldn't.
The Chair: They could not.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: They could not.
Now, what we found was that they were probably not
unemployable when they lost housing. There are two
points in time here. When they lose housing, they've
lost a job at which they had been working, or they're sick
but they're not chronically sick. The point is that by
the time they end up on the street—and for the people
we interviewed, this was between three months to three
years later—the process of being on the street makes
physical, emotional and cognitive problems worse.
The Chair: If I could, I want to get to the bottom
of this. How do we help these individuals eventually?
You're saying 40% may actually one day get a job and
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I don't know. I'm just saying
they could in the right circumstance. I can't even get
that far, because I don't know what kinds of jobs are
The Chair: Well, you know that 60%—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Are unemployable, as in
nobody could hire them to hand out flyers on the corner
of University and Dundas every Tuesday.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: So how could the EI system
and the CPP system help them?
Ms. Sarah Shartal: First, let's start with
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: But you have to have paid
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Yes, but the point is that
these people paid into it in the past. You see them
after they've been on the street for three months to
six months. They don't start like that. The easier
ones for people to see are those like cancer patients,
chronic asthmatics, or people with progressive
disabilities. If you don't get covered, you have no
money and you fall through to the street.
The fact is that with cognitive and psychological
health issues, people may be functioning fairly well as
long as they have some stability around them. The
moment they end up on the street, though, mental health
issues get worse.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: Okay, I want to go back a
Ms. Sarah Shartal: We're actually doing
retroactive adjudication on CPP right now.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: I chair the subcommittee on
persons with disabilities, and getting that tidied up
is a huge interest of ours.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: We want CPP back to what it
used to be. It's odd that the last set of cuts made
the old system look good, which is something I never
thought would happen.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: My issue with your
presentation is that you've written off the welfare
Ms. Sarah Shartal: No.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: You have actually said...
I'm a family doctor. My experience was that there
were people who were working, they lost their jobs,
they ended up on EI, and then they ran out their EI.
Even the people who qualified ran out their EI, because
it only works for 17 weeks. But they were still in the
apartment that they were in when they were working, and
there was no affordable housing for them. There were
no choices for them because there was no cheaper place
to live. They then started getting depressed, they
started drinking, and they started getting into
trouble. But there were 30% cuts to welfare. I had a
patient for whom we were paying her rent at source
after the welfare cuts, because she'd had a previous
drug addiction. She had $25 left to live on each
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Actually, more of our work is
provincial, because the easiest system to access is in
fact the Ontario disability support plan, oddly
enough. The hardest one is Canada Pension.
We started as a citizens' group. All we asked was why
we have social safety programs but we also still have
so many people homeless. What really struck us when we
started this work was the order of magnitude. We were
shocked by it.
When you look at the number of people who don't
qualify for EI when they lose work, in Toronto it is
enormous. When we're looking at trying to stop the
slide into homelessness, we have this window in which
we can pick people up. In that window, when they're
still employable and recoverable, if they get some
support, they don't get as chronically sick and, in
layman's terms, as crazy and depressed and suicidal as
they do once they've lost housing, had their lives fall
apart, and been on the street.
Now, if we picked up more of the people on the front end,
we'd have fewer people on the back end, and in fact
Golden II, which came out last week, supports these
[Editor's Note: Inaudible]
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: ...written
off. You said, well, of course nobody can live on welfare.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: No, you can't live on OW.
You could live on ODSP.
The Chair: Dr. Bennett, I think Mr. Loubier wants
to ask a question here.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I'd just like to
remind you that we're here presenting on federal programs. We
spend a great deal of time fighting with provincial
programs, but here we are focusing on the section of
the problem that is federal. I am not writing off
welfare. But the responsibility of this government is
to federal programs.
What we forget is that EI is both
employment insurance and our sick benefit plan. For
the overwhelming majority of the people of Canada, it
is the only benefit plan to cover people with
short-term sickness and chronic disability—people who
work. I mean, just think about your story. Why is
there that gap between the end of EI and the beginning
Canada Pension? There's an interesting case study in
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: This wasn't somebody who
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Oh.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: This was somebody who lost his
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Absolutely. The problem of the
long-term unemployed is a major issue, and our social
programs, in my own opinion, don't address
The Chair: We'll go on to Mr. Loubier.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I'm sorry.
Mr. Yvan Loubier: For your information, Mr. Chairman, we had
last week the singers of Accueil Bonneau, who are all homeless
people. We had a chance to talk with these people all morning. We
even had lunch with some representatives of this choir. When you
ask these people some questions, it is amazing how they came to be
homeless. You really start to see human frailty. It is striking.
Sometimes, they simply had in their life a psychological shock that
made them completely lose touch with reality, or else they lost
their job. Two among the twelve that were there applied for
employment insurance but were denied because the criteria had
changed or because they didn't have enough hours. These people had
already undergone quite a shock. It does not take much for some
people to lose ground. So they tried for welfare, but they were not
eligible. They were totally lost in the face of the bureaucratic
complexity of our programs. They were distressed and this is how it
started. They started drinking. It does not take much time. It only
takes a few weeks to become addicted to something.
Multiple addictions are even worse. Some sniff glue. I have
seen them standing in line at Accueil Bonneau, in Montreal. I
worked for two years next to Accueil Bonneau. It is extraordinary.
When you sniff glue, it does not take long: after six months, you
have become completely crazy. As they say, people lose their
These people are left to themselves. There is a lack of
resources. There are street workers who do wonderful work, but
there is a lack of resources for information, for placement, for
social housing, for example, which require investment.
I have great respect for Mrs. Bradshaw, but I would like her
to tell us the results of her consultations and to say: "Well, here
is how one falls into homelessness, here are the needs, and here is
where we, as governments, are lacking".
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I started working on
homelessness because I had been on the supreme court of
a provincial system for many, many years. If I had to
get up every morning between 6 and 7 o'clock,
stand around all day without enough money to get
coffee, walk all across the city to get food, stand in
line from about 3 o'clock in the afternoon
to see if I might be able to
get a bed for the night, or a mat for the night, and if
this wasn't one or two days, if this was what I
expected for the rest of my life, number one, I
wouldn't have time to look for work. But I would
probably get severely depressed. I am always
astonished at anybody I come in contact with who isn't.
It's not fragility, it is just that it is so unbearably
The Chair: Thank you Ms. Shartal. Thank you, Mr.
Next we have Mr. Nystrom, followed by Mr.
Brison, then we'll go back to Dr. Bennett.
Mr. Lorne Nystrom (Regina—Qu'Appelle, NDP): I
have a couple of follow-ups. As you were saying, some
of these people are working full-time just surviving
and existing, going from place to place, and it's
amazing that more people aren't even more depressed
than they are.
I have a couple of questions to help understand the
situation a bit better. Of the people who are
homeless, what percentage have been there basically all
of their lives? You mentioned a lot of kids that come
into it, and mentally ill people. Are there some
people who are just basically on the street all the
Secondly, I come from Saskatchewan, and we have some
homeless people there too. But is there a radically
different profile outside of Toronto? We have a lot of
aboriginal people in the city centre in Regina and
Saskatoon, but is there a radically different profile
in other parts of the country, or does it radically
differ province to province? Vancouver might be a
different game, because of the warm climate attracting
people there. Montreal, of course, is the centre of
the francophone part of our country. Maybe you could
just give us a bit more information to try to complete
Ms. Sarah Shartal: First, a very
small number of people have been on the street all
their lives. Overwhelmingly, people are on the street
for a number of years. There are people who have been
on the street all their lives and never worked, but
they are a small number relative to the total. We
found in our own initial phase of research that over
70% of the people we interviewed in the shelters and
drop-ins had work histories—that they could remember.
I mean, the 25%... it's not that they don't have work
histories, it just that sometimes we can't figure out
what they're saying to us at all, so we write them off
in the 25%. But at least 70% had work histories.
Secondly, I don't know enough about any place outside
of Toronto to tell you. It would be irresponsible. I
can speculate, but it would be speculation and based on
my own particular centre of the world biases. I can't
really tell you anything else.
All I can tell you is that I have seen the EI numbers.
Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal have about the same
level of denials on EI.
That's the answer to it. This brief is about the
federal programs. It's depressing when under our Tory
government in Ontario it is easier to get Ontario
disability support than it is to get Canada Pension
disability. Canada Pension disability is the worst.
My own doctor complains to me about lay adjudicators
calling her from Ottawa because she's written in that
somebody is unemployable, and they say, but you never
hospitalized them, so how can they be so unemployable?
This didn't happen 10 years ago.
The Chair: But why do you say that? Have you done
a comparative analysis of... I guess you're
referring to around 1988-89.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: No. Actually, I've
been representing people for almost 20 years, and all
of us have seen the same problems with Canada Pension.
You'll see in the expanded brief—we did not go into
it today—that one of the major changes in the Canada
Pension system has been the escalation of the demands
for elaborate medical documentation. They require
somebody now... it's almost that if you don't have a
specialist's report and you don't have a CAT scan,
by definition you're not disabled enough. Well,
someone whose doctor doesn't want to send them, or who
doesn't have disabilities that qualify for that, who
lives in a rural area, who doesn't articulate well,
or who's poor often doesn't get these things. Canada
Pension has dramatically changed.
The Chair: The reason I say this is because in
1988-89, around that time—just, ironically enough,
post free trade—there was an escalation of CPP. When
you see it on a chart, all of a sudden in 1988-89 it
goes up. If I were really cynical, I'd say that
probably would have been Mr. Mulroney's workers'
Ms. Sarah Shartal: What we looked at was... One was
the beginning of the recession, with increasing numbers
of older people who were laid off. We have done work
that shows that Canada Pension should have been
increasing because of the increasing age of our
population. We know that the physical and mental
health disabilities that qualify under Canada Pension
are more common. The older we get, the more fragile we
are. And what we have found is that in fact the
numbers have gone down in a period when, by our
demographics, they should have been going up. That's
not even in our statistics. All we did was say these
are the numbers where they went down. This is the
proportion for Toronto.
The Chair: Mr. Brison.
Mr. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, PC): Thank you,
I have a couple of quick points, Ms. Shartal.
I represent a rural Nova Scotia riding, and the issues
relative to Canada Pension Plan disability are, I
believe, even more pervasive in the riding.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: They're monstrous.
Mr. Scott Brison: To give you an idea of the
criteria and how they impact someone in my riding, this
is an actual case of someone who's 55 years old, who's
been a physical labourer throughout his life, because
he has a grade 5 education. He has chronic back
problems to the extent that he can't do any more
physical work. He's had surgeries; they've tried to do
everything to assist him.
response from Canada Pension Plan, despite doctors
saying that this guy can't work any more, is that he can
work at something and is retrainable.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: That's right.
Mr. Scott Brison: And it's naive at best to expect
that we can retrain someone at the age of 55, someone
with a grade 5 education. So there needs to be a
revisitation of some of the criteria that go into this.
But there is a standing policy, I understand, with
regard to Canada Pension Plan, that all approvals are
systematically declined at the ministerial level and
then have to go through the process one more time.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Put it this way: it's not
official policy. We used to think it was. It's the
joke among legal workers.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: It's just that over 60% get
turned down the first time.
Mr. Scott Brison: But actually our office has
been told within the bureaucracy that they know
everything they approve the first time will be turned
Ms. Sarah Shartal: If I could, just for a moment—
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: It's just what it feels like.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: It feels like that, doesn't it?
Mr. Scott Brison: Yes. It's an unofficial policy.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: An unofficial policy, yes. The
two things that have changed dramatically in the legal
side of Canada Pension—also, by the way, in Workers'
Compensation in Ontario, which is the only other place
I could comment on—is the growth of two forms. One is
what we call denial by process—which is, you know,
send us another doctor's report, fill in yet another
form—and people simply give up because they can't do
that. The other is denial by legal fiction. It's the
deeming, yes, you live in rural Nova Scotia, you've got
a bad back, and you're 54, but you could be retrained
to be a parking lot attendant. It's the creation of
When we talk about why the social safety net doesn't
work, the Canada Pension side—and it's not here in the
brief, because I was told that I had five minutes, and I
didn't bring the legalese—
The Chair: But you're making up for it.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Yes, I'm making up—somebody
What we found in Canada Pension is that the cuts were
not predominantly because of the statutory changes.
They were policy changes that have been cutting people
out. So our proposal for Canada Pension, which you
will see in our first pages, is to tell lay
adjudicators they can't take the place of treating
physicians. If a treating physician says somebody is
unemployable and unable to work, lay adjudicators
should accept that report. They should not be in a
position in which a lay adjudicator, with no medical
training, is saying to a treating physician, you're not
good enough. Give me a specialist.
That would help already. Tell them to stop.
Mr. Scott Brison: But the system has changed
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Dramatically.
Mr. Scott Brison: The difficulty with
government programs is that the pendulum rarely stops
in the middle. It's usually too far one way and then
it's too far the other way. And I can tell you this as
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Canada Pension is a nightmare.
It's the worst.
Mr. Scott Brison: Yes, but in rural Nova
Scotia 15 years ago, a person could get a Canada
Pension Plan disability pension for a nose bleed.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I didn't do it in rural Nova
Scotia 15 years ago.
Mr. Scott Brison: No, but in rural Nova Scotia 15
years ago there was a sense of systemic abuse that
Ms. Sarah Shartal: All right.
Mr. Scott Brison: Now it has gone to the extent
that people with real need and real disabilities that
prevent them from participating in the labour market to
any extent cannot get them. So rarely does the
pendulum stop in the centre. This has been the case.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: But what we're seeing is that a
significant number of the people we see in the
homeless system should have been on Canada Pension,
because that is what picks up chronic disabilities.
Think about cancer treatment. It simply never occurred
to us before, but why do sick benefits end before
Canada Pension starts? In private benefit plans, when
you finish one program, you move on to the other. What
we've got in our public system is this gap in the
middle. So what is somebody supposed to do? How do
they pay the rent? And how do they pay the rent when
they're sick, they're depressed, and they have
problems? Do you then force them to try to move to
another system, which they may or may not qualify for?
It doesn't make any sense.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Mr. Scott Brison: Thank you.
The Chair: Ms. Shartal, you're really focusing
on this EI and CPP stuff.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Yes.
The Chair: But you can't believe that this is
the only solution.
Ms. Sarah Shartal: No, no, we do the same thing to
the provincials. We're here talking to you because
those are your programs. We do the same thing to the
provincial guys, but we want you to take care of your
The Chair: Do they give—
Ms. Sarah Shartal: I don't care that you don't
like the Harris government. I just want you to take
care of your programs. We will fight with them about
taking care of their programs.
We accept the federal-provincial
jurisdictions; we can't fix that. All we want is for
you to fix your own programs.
The Chair: When you go to Queen's Park, do they
give you as much time to answer questions as I do?
Ms. Sarah Shartal: Yes, they usually do, actually,
but there are usually a lot more of us. The only
reason I'm in Ottawa is because the fax machine didn't
work to Toronto.
The Chair: Dr. Bennett.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: I'm sorry I missed the
substance abuse presentation. I guess you're duking it
out to be one of the institutes. Is that correct, in
terms of the CIHR?
A witness: Correct.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: Obviously it's important that
there be research in health service delivery and
programs that work and programs that don't work. You
must have a pretty good sense from what you're doing in
your organization on what works and what doesn't work.
Are there any joint projects, whether that's
homelessness or whether it's fetal alcohol effects and
syndrome? Is there a way in which you feel you can
impact on policy development, or do you feel that
you're off somewhere by yourself and you're listened to
or not listened to? How do you influence policy once
you've got good research on what works and what doesn't
Mr. Michel Perron: I have some views, and my
colleague feels he would like to make a comment.
Mr. Jacques Lecavalier: Thank you very much.
That's a very important question, particularly as
regards research. Yes, probably the substance abuse
field is one of the areas of research in Canada—where
there is research, because there's very little of it,
unfortunately—that has learned over the many years to
work sort of on a horizontal way, to bring in other
issues that are important determinants of substance
abuse. Certainly we heard about homelessness today,
and a lot about poverty, etc., all of which are
determinants of what I would call substance abuse.
One of the problems we're having is that there's not
sufficient investment in that type of activity that
links researchers across different fields as applied to
individual Canadians who are afflicted by substance
abuse. You will see in the presentation, for instance,
that the United States government funds six times more
research on addiction in Canada than the Canadian
government does. So if we want money to conduct these
types of research we've got to go to the United States.
Our point is that this should be changed, and
certainly we can. We have the networks, we have the
people, we have the talent in Canada to address these
issues, but we need an investment.
Mr. Michel Perron: May I just make a supplemental
You spoke about the broader issue of homelessness and
how it figures in. Certainly this again speaks to the
need for a comprehensive and coordinated drug strategy,
one that addresses the corollary effects of substance
abuse: homelessness, AIDS, hepatitis C, child abuse,
child neglect. Mr. Szabo made reference to this with
the fetal alcohol syndrome.
This is a role that where the Canadian Centre on
Substance Abuse, in its very meagre budget... I think
we have been characterized as doing excellent work for
the money we have. We have received $575,000 as our
core funding. We in fact have been able to lever that
through our services by getting investments from the
United Nations, the Organization of American States,
the United States government, and others to invest up
to where we are now 75% cost-recovery of our total
budget. But again, we have to look externally for some
of this investment on some very core issues.
The Canadian community epidemiological network on drug
use is in fact very much at the core of some of these
research issues that you suggest. It's a very fragile
network. Speaking of fragile, these are professionals
such as yourself who are giving of their volunteer time
to try to find out what is happening with regard to
substance abuse: first of all, how their data can be
compared to other regions across the country, and
secondly, how that can best influence policy at the
national, provincial, and local levels.
We also have the infrastructure within the policy side
to listen to this and to make those decisions
jointly—not only health on their own, but health with
enforcement with the judiciary. So the infrastructure
is there. It's lost a great deal of momentum because
of the lack of investment over the last few years.
This is why we're saying that without a serious
commitment of investment and long-term commitment,
because this is a generational issue... It's very much
like a vaccination program: every year we get a new set
of Canadians that have to be looked after.
that investment, the very structure that was put in
place a number of years ago by the government will fall
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: Within the Solicitor
General... Obviously drug abuse in prisons is a huge
problem, and the link between learning disabilities
in young offenders—
Mr. Michel Perron: Literacy.
Ms. Carolyn Bennett: —literacy, all of these
things... Do you do anything on harm reduction, or do
you just do the whole addiction piece?
Mr. Michel Perron: Harm reduction comes
loaded with a number of definitional sorts of issues.
I see Mr. Szabo sat up.
From our perspective, our goal is to reduce the harm
caused by alcohol and other drugs to Canadians,
families, and the communities. There is a tremendous
amount of hype around very specific issues related to
harm reduction. We are finding that there is a
tremendous amount of common ground and consensus among
the various stakeholders to address these issues
commonly, instead of having intersectoral rivalries and
territorialism. We've moved beyond that, quite
frankly, as a result of the budget reductions. That was
one of the positives that came out of it. But now that
that's done, we'd like to see the ebb turn the other
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Bennett.
On behalf of the committee, I would like to express to
you our sincerest gratitude for the input you have
given to us. We really appreciate it.
As I said earlier, this is our second-last session.
It's been a great tour across the country. People's
input has been extremely valuable, particularly the
last few presentations, which spoke to the issue of
some of the challenges we need to meet. While we may
come at it from different points of view, I think what
we really share in common as Canadians is a deep belief
that we have to make sure that for the people of Canada
tomorrow can be better than today. More importantly,
we have a responsibility to make it so, as legislators
and individuals who belong to various groups.
You certainly added great value to the debate as to
how we allocate our surplus, and for that we're very
grateful. Thank you.
The meeting is adjourned.