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37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Finance


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Friday, October 31, 2003




¸ 1400
V         The Chair (Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.))
V         Dr. Richard Henley (President, Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations)
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Thelma Randall (Executive Director, Cornish Child Care Centre; Child Care Coalition of Manitoba)
V         Ms. Molly McCracken (Research Coordinator, Child Care Coalition of Manitoba)

¸ 1405
V         Ms. Thelma Randall
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Marg Rose (Executive Director, Literacy Partners of Manitoba)

¸ 1410

¸ 1415
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Dale Kendel (Executive Director, Association for Community Living - Manitoba)

¸ 1420
V         The Chair
V         Dr. Richard Henley

¸ 1425

¸ 1430
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Harvard (Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, Lib.)
V         Ms. Thelma Randall
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Ms. Thelma Randall
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Ms. Thelma Randall
V         Ms. Molly McCracken
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Ms. Molly McCracken
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Ms. Molly McCracken
V         Mr. John Harvard

¸ 1435
V         Ms. Marg Rose
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Dr. Richard Henley

¸ 1440
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. John Harvard
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP)

¸ 1445
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Ms. Marg Rose

¸ 1450
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Molly McCracken
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Thelma Randall
V         The Chair

¸ 1455
V         Ms. Thelma Randall
V         The Chair
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.)

¹ 1500
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock

¹ 1505
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock

¹ 1510
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Dr. Richard Henley
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Ms. Marg Rose
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Joe Dutra (Literacy Partners of Manitoba)

¹ 1515
V         Ms. Marg Rose
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Ms. Marg Rose
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Ms. Marg Rose
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Ms. Marg Rose
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Mr. Dale Kendel

¹ 1520
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         Mr. Dale Kendel
V         Mr. Reg Alcock
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Finance


NUMBER 095 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Friday, October 31, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

¸  +(1400)  

[English]

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    The Chair (Mrs. Sue Barnes (London West, Lib.)): Order, please.

    This is meeting number 95 in Winnipeg, on Friday afternoon, October 31. Pursuant to Standing Order 83.1, we are continuing with our pre-budget consultations. This is actually the fourth panel that we've had today in Winnipeg, so we appreciate the input.

    Our last panel of the day includes representatives from the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba, Thelma Randall, executive director of the Cornish Child Care Centre, together with Molly McCracken, research coordinator. Welcome to both of you.

    The Literacy Partners of Manitoba join us, with the executive director of the organization, Marg Rose, presenting. Welcome to you, madame.

    Then we have, representing the Association for Community Living - Manitoba, Dale Kendel, executive director. Welcome, sir.

    Finally, from the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations, we have Richard Henley, who is the president. Welcome, Mr. Henley, or is it Dr. Henley? Is your vice-president joining us or not coming in today?

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    Dr. Richard Henley (President, Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations): No, he's not able to be here.

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    The Chair: That's fine.

    The way the committee functions, we'll give you seven minutes or so to put your remarks on the table, and then we'll hear from all of the panellists, and then we'll go to rounds of questioning.

    I will start in the order of the agenda, with the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba. Who would like to start?

    Ms. Randall.

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    Ms. Thelma Randall (Executive Director, Cornish Child Care Centre; Child Care Coalition of Manitoba): Thank you. I'd like to thank the panel so much for allowing the coalition to present our views today.

    The Child Care Coalition of Manitoba was established in 1993. We are a broadly based and unincorporated coalition and currently have about 50 group members drawn from the child care community, women's groups, the labour movement, researchers, parents, and organizations committed to social justice.

    Our goal is a fully accessible, publicly funded non-profit system of comprehensive and high-quality child care with worthy wages and good working conditions for child care staff.

    We use “child care” to mean early childhood care and development services for children from zero to 12 years. Our mandate supports all children and parents, whether employed, in training, or at home.

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    Ms. Molly McCracken (Research Coordinator, Child Care Coalition of Manitoba): In Manitoba, early childhood care and education is severely compromised on four fronts: the availability of spaces to meet the needs of children and their families, the affordability of care, inadequate public funding, and its corresponding negative effects on the quality of service.

    In a province with close to 200,000 children under the age of 12, there are fewer than 25,000 licensed spaces. Most spaces are for children aged two to five. There is little infant or school-aged care. Parents in Manitoba typically pay annual fees of $7,280 for an infant, $4,888 for a preschooler, and $3,170 for a school-aged child. There are strict eligibility criteria for fee subsidies. Parents must be well under the poverty line—the low-income cut-off rates—to qualify for a scarce fee subsidy. Programs are increasingly unable to meet minimum standards of trained staff. Staff wages have fallen drastically behind the goal of pay equity, and the quality of service is being called into question more and more often.

    Our coalition is currently conducting a research project to assess the economic and social impact of child care in the city of Winnipeg, where nearly 60% of Manitobans live. We have learned that child care is a significant industry in our capital city and plays an invaluable role in economic development, both directly and indirectly. Our preliminary findings indicate that the child care industry employs 3,236 people, who earn an estimated $84.2 million annually; generates $84 million per year in gross receipts, which then circulate through the city's economy; and permits parents in an estimated 10,000 households to work and earn approximately $683 million a year.

    These facts provide more evidence of the prudence of public investment in early learning and care. Recent Canada-wide economic research demonstrates that $2 of social benefits flow from every $1 invested in child care.

    That everybody benefits from child care is obvious when groups such as the Vancouver Board of Trade conclude that the payback from investments in child care is spectacular. UNICEF explains that far-sighted leaders understand that money spent now on early childhood care will pay off in the form of healthier, more productive children and stable families that are able to sustain themselves and contribute to society.

    Despite its remarkable contribution to economic well-being, Manitoba's child care system is plagued with problems. These systemic barriers exist despite a supportive provincial government and favourable public opinion. Our province announced a five-year plan for child care in 2001 and has provided commendable public funding increases. Yet Manitoba is handicapped. Without public policy support and funding from Ottawa, our government is unable to proceed to significantly improve child care.

    Care for Canadian children must become a universal service. For this to happen, child care must become a public responsibility. This requires a shift from private user-pay models to a publicly funded service to which all families are entitled.

    The first step towards systemic redesign and good care for our children is adequate national funding. The 2000 Early Childhood Development Agreement and the 2003 Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care are important first steps, but they fall far short of what is required.

    The best estimate of the cost of a fully developed early childhood care and education system in Canada is $10 billion a year. This represents about 1% of Canada's GDP, which is the minimum target recommended by the European Union.

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    Ms. Thelma Randall: We make the following recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance with respect to the next federal budget.

    We urge, first, that the Canadian government commit sufficient federal funds to develop a publicly funded pan-Canadian child care system for children from birth to 12 years of age that is fully inclusive and meets the needs of every child, regardless of the child's family's circumstances.

    At a minimum, we would expect at least $1 billion in year one, $2.2 billion in year two, $3.2 billion in year three, and $4.5 billion in year four, as recommended by the national Liberal caucus on social policy last November.

    Second, we urge that the Canadian government provide federal leadership to develop a federal-provincial-territorial social policy framework, with regulated child care as the cornerstone of Canada's family-friendly policy.

    Third, we urge that the Canadian government require provincial and territorial governments to spend funds directly on improving and increasing access to affordable, high-quality, regulated, non-profit, and inclusive care for our nation's children. Federal funds must supplement, not replace, provincial or territorial child care funding.

    Finally, we urge that as a part of good governance the federal government develop and enforce mechanisms to ensure monitoring and compliance, provide clear and comprehensive data, and permit timely public reporting.

    That concludes our presentation. Again I thank you.

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    The Chair: You're welcome.

    On behalf of all of our members, we'd like to now hear from Ms. Rose from the Literacy Partners of Manitoba.

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    Ms. Marg Rose (Executive Director, Literacy Partners of Manitoba): Thank you.

    Honourable members, cher deputés, colleagues, nos amis, bienvenu.

    Literacy Partners of Manitoba promotes adult family literacy by building partnerships with people like you—and people in business, education, government departments, and community groups.

    Where would you be without your literacy skills?

    I'm here to talk about equal opportunity issues. Today I'll call on your committee to make a smart investment at the federal level in adult and family literacy. I'll review the reasons why we need to take action now, and then I'll show you some concrete steps that you can endorse.

    Let me begin with the simple definition of literacy. We in the field say that it's the ability to use and understand printed information in daily life, at home, on the job, and in the community—understand and apply at work, at the library, on the Internet, on the shop floor, or at the grocery store.

    What savings can we realize when we improve adult literacy skills? The research is growing. We reduce health care costs. We're more likely to steer clear of crime and poverty. We fit more jobs or move up to new ones. We can talk to each other over the Internet and equalize access to service in rural areas.

    People from other countries, refugees especially, become better equipped with the essential skills to integrate and succeed here. Seniors face technology and important health care instructions with more confidence. And we're able to teach our children, or nieces and nephews, to read and write and use numbers to face a changing future ahead.

    These are not pie-in-the-sky ideals. Improving literacy skills helps our bottom line. It is linked to creating a well-trained, functioning labour force that will grow the GDP. Entry-level jobs are shrinking. Information demands are increasing in those jobs.

    Without skills upgrading, people like Joe Dutra, who is here with us today, would be in trouble. He is one of the 2.5 million Canadians of working age who have less than a grade 9 education under their belts.

    The school system couldn't reach this soft-spoken, warm-hearted guy. He was a big, strong fellow and was pushed from grade to grade. His parents were Portuguese and couldn't help him with his studies. So he went to work for a cookie factory, a pizza pop plant, and a furniture manufacturer here in Winnipeg. He got by with his manual labour skills. He got married. He had children.

    Then, as he says in his own words, he hit a wall. He said:

One day, my son asked me to read a bedtime story.

This is a common story.

I said, go ask your mother. That's when it hit me the most, when I couldn't read a bedtime story to my kids. One day I saw a TV ad about the Learn Line. I called it and was referred to the Transcona Literacy Centre to learn to read and spell better. The centre helped me with my reading and writing. Now, my confidence is so great that I can do some community club things like coaching my son's hockey team. The main thing is that it helps make me a whole person.

    Well, Joe upgraded his skills so well that he passed the written and road test to enjoy a new career. He drives a transit bus here in Winnipeg now. He has been to Ottawa for Literacy Action Day—and I know some of you were visited last week—as the Manitoba Learner rep to talk to MPs like you.

    We know there are many other people like Joe who want to improve their adult literacy skills. We believe we can help them, and we believe you can too.

    We need—here's that word—a pan-Canadian literacy strategy for raising adult skills. It's that simple. But it's going to require resolve and money to get it done. Canada's literacy community has already demonstrated a third ingredient—patience.

    Thousands of adult learners and instructors alike have been anticipating significant federal action since hearing the promises of the last two throne speeches.

    During the rounds of the innovation and learning summits last year, delegates heard over and over again that access to learning and technology are key issues for business leaders, policy-makers, and millions of Canadians. Improving adult literacy was voted as one of the top 15 priorities, chosen from more than 90 choices, at the national summit on learning in Toronto last year. Australia, the U.S.A., England, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden are now making significant investments in adult and family literacy policy and practice.

    Can this committee take a leadership stance to help Canada join the movement?

    We in literacy are concerned that Canada has fallen into the middle of the OECD countries when our adults were tested with the International Adult Literacy Survey. I've included a chart in your package. The survey showed that more than 5 million Canadians do not have the literacy skills to face today's reading demands on the job or coming at them in their daily lives.

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    Here are a few final numbers for you. Canadians with less than grade 9, who are the usual target in our program, have the highest unemployment rate of any cohort. I've got that chart in your package. That 13% unemployment rate is triple our national average. They also have the lowest participation rate in the labour force, at only 27%. We can pay now for upgrading literacy skills or pay later for social support.

    In Manitoba, if we gathered all of the working-age adults with less than a grade 9 education into one area, we would create the province's second largest city. We all need to work together to make a difference here and in other provinces.

    Here's the good news. We have a road map we can follow, and it looks like this. As a result of broad consultations with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, a sister committee of yours, the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, tabled a report in the House of Commons a few months ago. It's called “Raising Adult Literacy: the Need for a Pan-Canadian Response”. It offers sweeping recommendations for you to support.

    Are you worried about jurisdiction? The Council of Ministers of Education in Canada is studying this report now. Our own minister of education and training, Diane McGifford, has stepped forward as the first of those provincial ministers to pledge Manitoba's support to negotiate this accord. The social union framework also joins provinces and Canada in an effort to increase access to opportunities.

    The politicians who crafted this report—including Raymond Simard from Manitoba, who was on that committee—recommended that we spend more money on adult literacy. So that's good news.

    Here in Manitoba, the increased federal investment in literacy that would come out of this report would cost the same amount as providing each citizen with a $6 breakfast. Right now, our federal government invests about $1 per Manitoban in literacy project funding each year; that's a cup of coffee.

    We all know about the current economic forecast. At first blush, it might cause some people among us to lose the courage to spend money; but by investing in adult literacy, we will reap double-duty dollars. By helping parents like Joe improve their reading, we actually save money as those children grow.

    I've drawn from this report, in which the coalitions across Canada have had input, to outline the eight concrete recommendations that are in your packages. My time slot isn't sufficient to go into detail right now, but the ideas are written in the brief.

    Joe and I are available for consultations or questions later.

    And in honor of today's date, I'd like to thank you for your attention and hope that you all enjoy the treats, not the tricks, that we've put up your sleeve.

    Merci, meegwetch.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Dutra, welcome to the panel. I've asked Joe to join us at the table here.

    Now we will go to the Association for Community Living - Manitoba, and Mr. Kendel.

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    Mr. Dale Kendel (Executive Director, Association for Community Living - Manitoba): Thank you.

    I'm here today representing the Association for Community Living - Manitoba and to let you know that we're part of a Canada-wide organization of people working to improve the lives of people who live with intellectual disabilities. We work with issues from birth to death, across all ages and all gender, racial, ethnic, and cultural barriers. Our mission is dedicated to the full inclusion in the community of persons who live with an intellectual disability.

    In Manitoba our network is connected to over 4,000 individuals and families, and we work in 45 communities.

    In your package I have provided you with a newsletter, which is actually our annual report. It outlines much of our work in issues of justice, employment, fetal alcohol syndrome, early childhood education--in general, the work of our organization. I'd be glad to comment on any of those issues later.

    We're here today to offer our suggestions to the finance committee pre-budget consultation process.

    First, I wish to recognize and applaud the efforts of the federal government in its last budget in the development of a child disability benefit. Last year when I appeared that was one of the major points we made, and we really do appreciate that it was listened to. It has had an impact. We see this as a step forward at recognizing the extra cost that is associated with raising a child with a disability. It supports families, and I thank you.

    I'm now going to comment on several areas of action that are still needed.

    Number one, we encourage the federal government to look at extending Canada Pension Plan benefits to family members who stay out of paid employment to provide unpaid support to a family member with a disability. This should apply to all levels of income.

    Number two, we encourage the federal government to create a refundable tax credit benefit to people providing significant levels of support for a family member with a disability.

    Number three, we encourage the federal government to create a community transition investment fund. Based on the principles outlined in In Unison: A Canadian Approach to Disability Issues--things like rights and responsibilities, empowerment, and participation in our communities--this fund would create an investment in community strategies to return people from institutions and would allow the appropriate development of a community support system. In Canada, over 10,000 people with intellectual disabilities still live in large institutions. A $2 million investment in Manitoba would enable 100 people to leave institutions. This needs to be done with the full cooperation of the provincial government here, and it would be widely applauded.

    Number four, we encourage the federal government to continue to invest in employment options for individuals living with disabilities. People living with an intellectual disability often live in poverty and are excluded from labour market programs.

    The employability assistance for persons with disabilities program, EAPD, does little to impact the lives of people living with intellectual disabilities. This is a $180-million investment by the federal government, matched by the provincial government, that is not readily accessible to our group. Other disability groups benefit from this and see much impact, but much of the fund is taken by drug and alcohol programs, which we think are inappropriately placed in this fund. We have a mechanism, but it needs adjustment.

    The opportunity fund, a $33 million investment in Canada, has created wonderful short-term demonstration projects across the country. By fiscal year 2005, this fund could disappear if it's not renewed. It should be renewed. It should be expanded, and it should be protected. It has high impact on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.

    Our group must become part of the federal-provincial labour market agreements and strategies. We must be embedded in the basic fabric of federal-provincial strategies, not the exception in part two of an agreement, as we are now.

    We need to have stable and secure funding for employment initiatives that respond to individual needs of people, enable proper planning to take place, recognize the variety of supports required to support individuals in economic activity in our communities, promote innovation and entrepreneurial activity, create fair pay for work performed, and provide incentives to individuals to move from welfare or income assistance to becoming taxpayers.

    My fifth point was that I would, if time permitted, comment on a number of other areas, for example, expanding disability supports and family supports. I would urge the continuation of the funding of the community inclusion initiative, which I rate as a phenomenal investment that is creating tremendous impact across Canada in the intellectual disability community, and I would urge you to support research. Maybe in the question period, we can come back to that.

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    Hopefully, other presentations from my colleagues across the country will speak to some of these other areas.

    So on behalf of the Association for Community Living, I urge you to look at the following things: invest in families, invest in deinstitutionalization, invest in employment options, invest in disability supports, invest in community inclusion, and above all, invest in people living with intellectual disabilities.

    Thank you.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much for an excellent presentation today.

    Now we will go to Dr. Henley from the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations.

    Commencez, s'il vous plaît.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Thank you.

    MOFA, the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations, represents the 1,600 faculty members in the public universities in Manitoba: University of Manitoba, Brandon University, University of Winnipeg, and Collège universitaire de St. Boniface. We appreciate the opportunity to speak to the committee here this afternoon.

    We're greatly concerned about the continued lack of funding coming from the federal government and encourage this committee to strongly make recommendations to the government to increase funding to post-secondary education.

    I intend to leave to your careful perusal the statement to this committee by the Canadian Association of University Teachers to communicate the national perspective on the current financial difficulties confronting university operations across the country.

    In this presentation, we'll focus on Manitoba to provide a picture of the negative effects underfunding on the part of the national government is having on public universities. The CAUT has concluded that the only way there can be any guarantee of federal funding intended for the purposes of increasing core funding to all universities throughout the country will be to revoke the Canadian social transfer and introduce a post-secondary education fund. While we acknowledge that education is a provincial matter as far as the Constitution is concerned, we'd like to point out that health is as well, and the Canadian government has--quite properly, we believe--passed legislation that compels provinces to maintain national standards of health delivery.

    Having said that, we have to acknowledge that the Manitoba government has actually done pretty well as far as its funding of universities in the province is concerned. Given that it is not a have province, in 2001 and 2002 Manitoba ranked first among provinces on expenditures per full-time students at its post-secondary institutions, spending 6.3% of total budgetary allocations, more than any other province. It also continues to maintain a tuition freeze. It also funds access programs for students who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to attend post-secondary institutions.

    We also make reference to the fact that the federal government seems to--and this seems to change day by day, so I'm never sure about the money--have a surplus, we understand, in the federal budget, and therefore we would urge the committee to make recommendations that there not be tax cuts, and that at least part of this funding be plowed back into post-secondary education. Even the Conference Board of Canada has said that by 2020 there will be an $85 billion surplus coming to the federal government.

    Over the years, Canada's public universities have been a source of pride for all its citizens, and they should not be allowed to decay.

    For its part, MOFA continues to push for greater accessibility and comprehensiveness for its member institutions. It is plainly evident that the federal government must do its part if quality university education in this country is to be sustained.

    In the latter part of the presentation, basically I'm presenting a few examples of things that we believe indicate the kinds of crisis situations the universities in Manitoba are facing right now.

    The first example I point out is the example of the law school last year at the University of Manitoba, where the dean of law pushed for escalating tuition fees for law students and was allowed to, in fact, increase the fees. The point we're making in the presentation here is that this is happening in all of the faculties at the universities.

    In my faculty at Brandon, in education, we're trying to get around the tuition freeze by having students pay fees for their field experience, and it's this kind of thing that's going to continue to happen, because the universities are so pressed for funds.

    Again, right after the election in the spring, the government promised they would continue to have this tuition freeze. But not two weeks after the election, the Canadian Federation of Students were called in by the minister and were informed that this could not go on for very much longer, that something had to give.

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    In the meantime, at the university, while this is all happening, we have a growth in the size of the administration where people are hired to go out and raise funds. This is their sole role. To have people who are hired simply to beg funds from individuals, businesses, and so on shouldn't happen at a public institution, especially as important as a university.

    The last point that we would like to point out, number 5 in the paper I've given you, is the proposed creation of the University College of the North, which is to be started next fall, with headquarters in Thompson and in The Pas. Now, as it stands, the province really doesn't have any money to even put together a new facility for this institution, which is dedicated to northerners, especially to aboriginal people in the north. And again, until we have more funding from the federal government, this kind of hamstrung approach to universities is going to continue.

    I could give you more examples from Manitoba to buttress the argument that there is an urgent need for renewed commitment from the federal government in support of post-secondary education throughout Canada. Strong and vital public universities are an essential ingredient of any budgetary plan that claims to serve the future needs of Canadian citizens. This committee has in its power to make recommendations that will lead to that end, and MOFA urges committee members to put their influence towards this noble objective.

    Thank you for your attention.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Your briefs, by the way, are circulated to all of our members with us or not with us today. We can't afford, as a government, to bring everybody on the road, but they are either in Ottawa or are in different parts of Canada, and they will get all of these briefs and participate in our final report when it is written.

    I will now go to rounds of questions of up to 10 minutes. I will start with Mr. Harvard, followed by Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, and then to my colleague and friend Mr. Alcock.

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    Mr. John Harvard (Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, Lib.): Thank you, Sue. I'm glad you're having me first, because I have to leave after my round of questions.

    I'm going to try to put a question to each of you. Let me start with the child care people.

    On the kind of pan-Canadian system that you would like to see developed, is there anything like what you envisage anywhere in any other country around the world?

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    Ms. Thelma Randall: Yes, in the European countries.

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    Mr. John Harvard: France?

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    Ms. Thelma Randall: France and Sweden both support their preschool children by supplying child care services to them all. In France, it's three years of age and up--that's all children.

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    Mr. John Harvard: I would love to see it as well, and I hope we do have it some day. I guess my question would be, then, what kinds of benefits are their populations manifesting, good positive results that we don't have yet because we don't have a pan-Canadian system? Do they have fewer social problems, or whatever?

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    Ms. Thelma Randall: Yes, I believe that is quite true...social and communication problems between people.

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    Ms. Molly McCracken: There are several studies that point to the savings down the road. There are significant savings in that children who have quality child care are less likely to miss a grade. Developmental challenges, special needs, can be caught at an earlier age, thereby helping kids to start right when they do go into grade one.

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    Mr. John Harvard: As far as you know, France and Sweden are already enjoying or seeing those results?

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    Ms. Molly McCracken: As far as we know, because they do have quality services for all of their children, whereas we really only have services and spaces available for one in seven kids in Manitoba.

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    Mr. John Harvard: Why do those countries have those programs and we Canadians don't? What do they know that we don't know, or what do they have that we don't have? Why is it that we aren't up with them?

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    Ms. Molly McCracken: That's a very good question. I couldn't say why we haven't done it yet. I think there's a different commitment and feeling of responsibility toward children in terms of who's responsible.

    Is it a private responsibility? Therefore, the onus is on parents to pay out of pocket for it. Or is it a public responsibility, just like the school system, where all children are expected to go to school starting at age five? Why can't we have something where kids can go starting at age two? There's a need also for infant care for kids whose parents are working full time too.

    The other study I'm working on with the Child Care Coalition is the social and economic benefits study of child care in Winnipeg. It's showing significant benefit to the economy and also for child development. If we invest in child care, the returns are quite high. That's something that we also ask you to consider. This really is an investment that will pay back. Kids will be more prepared for the knowledge economy.

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    Mr. John Harvard: Let me ask my question of Ms. Rose.

    When it comes to literacy or the lack of it at the beginning of the 21st century and given the kinds of expenditures we make on public education, is there really any excuse for why we have this rate of illiteracy facing us today? Sure, it has to be addressed, but do we do it in a remedial fashion, if I can put it that way, after people grow up and try to get into the workplace, or do we spend more of our money to address this issue at an earlier stage, while these people are being educated--so called?

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    Ms. Marg Rose: The most popular question we get asked is what happens within the school system. As a former schoolteacher, I can tell you it is quite a challenge to teach 30 different people at once. It is a very encumbered system.

    So rather than splitting hairs, we do see family literacy as a positive approach to teaching parents and children at the same time. There is a study championed by Dr. Thomas Sticht in California that looks at where the best investment is, at the early childhood end or at the parent end. Through family literacy we get both, so we get immediate return on investment rather than several years down the line--although I don't want to pit myself against that argument. And child care, by the way, is the single magic bullet that brings more adults back into education.

    On the other hand, we know that through no fault of their own, for many adults like Joe it's not a question of remediation. Some of them were denied access to opportunity. We hear stories, especially in western Manitoba, for some reason, around the Dauphin area, where some people just didn't have access to high school. There are areas where they couldn't get to a high school, such as Ethelbert, remote locations in northern Manitoba. As you know, there are many first nations communities that don't have high schools and so on. Seventy percent of aboriginal youth aren't making it through high school, so it might be a bicultural problem. There are many complex issues that leave us with these horrifying statistics.

    But that's water under the bridge, because we do know that there are adults now in need of training, so we need all hands on deck. The business sector, labour unions, the voluntary sector, everybody should be doing their part. Canada is one of the few industrialized nations of the world that don't have an adult learning strategy.

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    Mr. John Harvard: To Dale Kendel, you were mentioning recommendation number three. You were saying here that a $2 million investment in Manitoba would enable about 100 people to leave institutions. Where would they go?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: The situation I'm commenting specifically on concerns the institution in Portage la Prairie and the 425 people who currently live there. We have for the last five years—probably longer than five years—been trying to get a commitment from government to move a significant number of people into the community and to create community options, community homes, community housing, community employment, community support.

    We recently—four years ago—closed an institution called Pelican Lake Training Centre in Ninette, and 70 people were, as planned for, successfully moved into new community homes and welcomed into a new living environment. That was a very successful investment—very successful in terms of its impact on the lives of people who had, for some 24 years of their life, lived outside of the community. It involved huge adjustment, huge investment, and huge success.

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    Mr. John Harvard: Could that be defined as leaving one institution for another?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: I hope not.

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    Mr. John Harvard: What is a community home if not an institution of some kind?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: A community home, as we see it--and we've designed and implemented in 160 different locations in Manitoba--is two, three, or a maximum of four people living together with the appropriate support to learn appropriate life skills to participate in their community and encouragement to find a job, whether it's volunteer or paid, to contribute to their community, to be part of the recreation and play of the community, to live their life, to be able to go to the bank, to the shopping centre, to the theatre, to make choices, to have responsibility, and to exercise their rights.

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    Mr. John Harvard: Finally, for Mr. Henley, in this tuition crunch that we face, are governments, both provincial and federal, spending less of their overall budgets on post-secondary education now than 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Absolutely. During the early 1990s, when your party came to government--

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    Mr. John Harvard: We've been in power most of the time anyway.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Yes, I know.

    In 1993, during the budget cuts, post-secondary institutions suffered, and we haven't really won that back again. So, absolutely.

    The provincial government here, at least over the last four years, has basically attempted to increase its budget for post-secondary on the basis of rise in the consumer price index.

    I appreciate the fact that, here we are, we all need more money. The thing that bothers me is that there is a plan by the government to pay down the debt in an orderly fashion, so let's stick to that and stop this tax cut thing and recognize that there are public institutions out there that really need to be financed--unless we want to go the way the American system is. That seems to be the direction in which we are going, where we are going to have a few lead institutions in the country and they are going to get the grants and what not that have been instituted.

    Do you want me to stop now?

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    Mr. John Harvard: No, that's fine.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Anyway, they seem to go to the U of T and McGill, and so on, and others are left out.

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    Mr. John Harvard: Do I take it, then, Mr. Henley--and this is my final question to you--that when it comes to the full package of university costs that students have to pay, tuitions are assuming the larger part of that all the time, more so than room and board, books, or you name it?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: No, I wouldn't want to downplay room and board, and of course the price of books is going up. Everything goes up.

    If we're really serious about accessibility, the one thing governments can deal with quite legitimately, I think, is the tuition issue. Obviously universities are expensive, and somebody has to pay. If we force students to increase the amount of money they have to pay up for tuition, the less likely it is they're going to go to university.

    I mentioned law school here. The worry is that going to law school would become an elitist thing to do, and there would be a lot of people left out.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much, both of you.

    Thank you, Mr. Harvard.

    Now, Ms. Wasylycia-Leis, ten minutes.

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    Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP): Thank you, Madam Chair.

    To follow up on John's questioning around community living, I want to use the opportunity to point out the work of ACL in terms of giving opportunities for people with disabilities to actually live in the community in a home of their own. It's the other end of the institutional model.

    It's what I hope for my son, Nick, who's now 19. We're working on his having a home of his own, living with a couple of other people where he's part of the community, goes to work, and participates in the life of the community. That's why I think the ACL's work is so important and why I think we need to look at some sort of national plan around support for people with disabilities. That's why we need to look at national social programs in general.

    I have two questions that I think all of you might want to answer, so I'll try to keep it very short. The first is this. We are talking about spending, investing in social programs in people in communities. At the same time, you're starting to hear from the Prime Minister-to-be, Paul Martin, that we're still in tough times and that we're going to have to hold the line on tax cuts and on debt reduction. That's more of the same.

    My first question to all of you is this. Do you believe that, or do you think it's time to look at shifting the balance? What's important right now, since we have some surplus money and have had fiscal dividends for a number of years? What would you recommend in terms of fiscal policy vis-à-vis your concerns?

    The second question has to do with the transfer of cash to provinces for social programs. We had CHST. That's gone. We now have CHT, where there's specific money for health care, specific conditions, floor, and so on. For the CST, which is everything in terms of social policy, we have no floor, no conditions, no guidelines, no national standards.

    It may not be enough, but whatever money does go out goes out without any kind of control. A province such as B.C. can suddenly say, we're going to cut off half of the people on income assistance overnight and get away with it and still have access to federal money.

    What do you envisage for a transfer arrangement to meet the needs of your particular area? Do you see specific investment funds for each of those areas? Do you see the need for national standards of legislation and conditionality?

    Dale, you could start and go down the line.

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: Those are big questions. I'll try to take them in order.

    Concerning fiscal investment and where real impact is, I guess our belief is that the federal government is always going to spend on something. Our piece of being here today is to try to convince you that our area is the most important area and that social programs are well worth the investment.

    I picked the theme of employment today as one of the major pieces, because if we are able to assist people to get into employment and move from being on income assistance, helping them to become taxpayers, I think everybody wins in that particular line of investment. It's going to take an investment, and we think we have the networks across the country that would respond if those kinds of dollars were there.

    What I said in my brief is that we are not inside the major labour market programs. We are among the exceptions, after certain other criteria are met; we get to play in part two of an agreement. And it's small funding; it needs to be larger.

    I don't think you can miss on the investment in families. The families represent a huge—probably the largest—level of support for kids and children and adults with disabilities still. They are becoming more recognized for what they are doing, and I would point to that. We have believed for a long time in our organization that using the tax system and direct grants would be the way to proceed for those spots.

    Concerning the transfer of funds, we believe there should be a social transfer established that would be responsive, that could include what I call the community living transfer fund or the institutionalization fund.

    With all these specific small funds being created, we are trying to break out of the silo effect. We have a lot of funds and then are just creating a new silo: we are in this investment fund and we are in this employment strategy. Our belief is that we should be part of many of the generic programs and take advantage of them, but they have to be able to accommodate the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

    I think I'll leave it there.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: I do believe there should be standards.

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    Ms. Marg Rose: I would like to offer to Judy, and perhaps to the committee, a report we have. This is an analysis of Mr. Martin's social policy agenda by James Rice and Michael Prince.

    A quote from there cheers me as you raise these concerns, because it talks about the commitments the federal government has made over the next eight years and whether they're honoured or not. It reflects increased federal contributions of $34.8 billion through the growing support for the health and social program agenda—through the CHST, and then the new health transfer and social transfer.

    It's a very interesting read, and it talks about the fact that we do of course have an incremental paying down of the debt that is a commitment; however, we know there is a renewed interest in making a legacy of one's own, and social policy will certainly be part of the upcoming prime minister's agenda.

    I also would like to respond to your concern about transfers. We have an existing gem in the federal system, through HRDC, called the National Literacy Secretariat. The present level of investment is only a dollar per Canadian, at $30 million, but as I outline in my brief—our coalition, for example, gets one grant from them—often you see any grants made by this federal group leverage increased support in kind and from the provinces.

    When the National Literacy Secretariat money was first announced to Manitoba, there was an agreement to have the provinces match what the feds put in. Now the province has increased its level by 60% for direct delivery, and I know that on the federal contribution of $650,000 in one grant I give here as an example, we made a return on that initial investment of about three to one. A 300% return on an investment is pretty good, I think, in this market.

    We're looking forward to some social policy agenda emerging. Thank you.

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    The Chair: Perhaps, Ms. Rose, if you don't mind, I'll take a copy of that study you have, and then we can circulate it to our members.

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    Ms. Molly McCracken: Thelma and I agreed that I would answer the second one, about what type of transfer funds would be the best arrangement.

    There needs to be a pan-Canadian strategy for child care, because we need to have standards and dedicated funding specifically for child care, so there is a requirement for a basic standard across Canada. This is important, because we know that the family structure has changed; we no longer have a traditional family. The majority of women are working outside of the home, and this is not going to go away. This is the way it is, so we need proper support.

    As a young woman who wants to have a family some day, I want to be assured that I will have support for my kids to be cared for while I work, because we know that a huge part of the wage gap is due to the fact that women are outside the labour force, don't earn any wages, and don't earn a pension. And then we have 50% of elderly women in Manitoba living in poverty.

    I think another important issue is what the province did here with the federal funds. It invested in salaries for early childhood educators, but we still have very low salaries; people working at day cares are earning less than people who run parking lots. What does that say for the care of our kids? This is the future of our country.

    So I think we really need to invest in capital for child care centres, and the only way to do that is to have an investment. That needs to happen all over Canada, so that it is a basic standard for all Canadian kids. We know the benefits, and so I think we just need the courage to act on this and to have that dedicated funding, and to have the money tied, so that it always gets to where it needs to go.

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    The Chair: Thank you.

    Dr. Henley.

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    Ms. Thelma Randall: Can we survive more cutbacks? In the early 1990s, we were asked to tighten our belts and take a deep breath and suck it up. I think we've all had a sigh of relief knowing that surpluses are being generated a little bit.

    I'd like to draw an analogy to a person's diet. We all may be eating improperly. We're not sure about how we eat or how we spend, and so we decide we're going to cut back on certain things. We do that, and we then realize that maybe we didn't need to eat this and maybe we didn't need to spend the money on this. We've done a lot of research and we know that certain foods and certain things we spend our money on are not beneficial to us. We do know there are things we can do that are very good for us and that we need to keep consuming. We need to keep spending significant dollars on them. Do you ask us to cut back on those things that are good for us, that in fact we need very much, that may in fact cause our bodies and our country to be malnutrioned? If we're going to cut back, we cut back on the sugars and the fat—things that don't, perhaps, benefit us now and in the future.

    I would suggest that social programs are the proteins and the vitamins of our country. We have to think really hard before we decide to cut back any more on those.

    That's my view about cutting back on social programs.

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    The Chair: I want to leave some time for Dr. Henley, but I'm going to interject something here. You've hit on something with your analogy that affects me as an Ontario resident. When we started with the day care, down the line what we got were the early learning centres. Recently the child care spaces have gone down, not increased.

    Even though I think these are wonderful activity centres, what I hear from people—and I want you to say whether I'm hearing that right, as I listen—is that they need the basics. You can have these wonderful activities inside your day care centres, but we need the day care centre before we need the learning centre. I need to hear from you on that, because I think sometimes we get it wrong.

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    Ms. Thelma Randall: I think you're quite correct. Children need a safe place to go before they can learn anything. It's basic development. Children need health and safety before they need all kinds of fancy learning environments.

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    The Chair: I will add the time I took, so that Dr. Henley can get his time in.

    Go ahead.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Thelma actually looked after my daughter for about five years, so I'm all for Thelma.

    Our paper lays out what you're asking about, and of course, CAUT is arguing that there ought to be a specific act where money is sent and provinces have to spend the money that they get on post-secondary education.

    One of the problems, of course, is that as it stands the government really doesn't get any credit for the money they spend on universities as far as grants are concerned. They go to core funding. In a way, there's no encouragement for them to raise the amount of money they grant. So until we have that--that is, this post-secondary act or something of that kind--I'm fearful that the universities will continue to be underfunded, definitely.

    On the issue of public institutions, I was dismayed last Monday when there was a piece in The Globe and Mailwhere two authors were writing about the inevitability of Canada becoming absorbed by the United States. It's inevitable, they said. If that sounds like a horror thing to you--it certainly does to me--one way we can keep this country together, it seems to me, is in the proper funding of public institutions of the country, including day care, but I'm here to argue for universities, obviously.

    It just doesn't make any sense to me to continue along the tax cut and throwing extra money into servicing the debt. If there's money there, there are so many public institutions that need the money, and really need it, so the government should go for it, really.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Thank you, Ms. Wasylycia-Leis.

    Now, to my colleague Mr. Alcock, the final 10 minutes or so is yours.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.): Thank you, Sue.

    It has been a long time that we've been around this table, but I haven't seen this Michael Prince article. I'll have to read it.

    I want to explore a couple of the recommendations you've made, and then I want to beat up Richard Henley a little bit. Unfortunately, I can't find the CHST numbers fast enough to do it, but I'll come back to that.

    Many of these issues that I've seen in the child care brief and in the literacy brief, in particular, are longstanding. There have been a series of moves at different times to attempt to address them.

    First, on the child care one, the frustrating part of it is that I think it's fair to say that in Manitoba—this is to your concern about it—it's considered to be one of the flagships of the country. If you talk to my colleagues in New Brunswick, it's a disaster. They have huge problems. If they could get what we have in Manitoba, they'd think that they had a really wonderful program.

    It's part of the problem we've had every time we've approached this one. We campaigned in 1993 about building a national child care policy. Right? We're never able to bring that into effect. Part of that may have been because there were actually concerns with FISC and the ability to fund it, but part of it was the inability to build a national consensus on what it would look like.

    I have to say I was heavily involved in social policy years ago. I have not been involved in the last six or eight years. Some of my feelings about this are dated.

    One of the challenges that I think exists for the child care community is to continue the work on forging a national consensus. I think you've had a willing partner nationally, to a certain extent, but you had an inability because of the classic Canadian problem. That's where I would differentiate from some of John's questions about other countries.

    We have this classic problem of it not being a federal responsibility, so we're always following. We can't get a consensus out of the people who we're supposed to be following. I sit here frustrated, not knowing a whole lot on how to respond to that. I'll let you come back to me on that.

    On the literacy one, you have a couple of interesting recommendations here about structural things that we might do within government. The idea of a... [Inaudible—Editor]...I think, would be quite interesting.

    Again, it may be my being out of date with the numbers, but there's a stubbornness to this problem that surprises me. It's not that governments at all levels haven't been paying attention to it, but it doesn't seem to be diminishing. I'd be interested in your comments on that.

    Dale, we've talked about this stuff a lot. One of the things that goes through my head is that we have the same kinds of federal problems in a lot of these areas. I agree completely with Judy's comments about the value of what you've done. I'm surprised to hear about Ninette, frankly. I think you guys do incredible work.

    Part of the problem is that it's becoming real for Judy now. Right?

    When we move a child off that basket of children supports, where we can assemble a body of resources around them and move them into independence, our social support models tend to be all welfare based and driven by what is essentially—theoretically, in the policy models—an active welfare model that says you under-support in order to drive them towards work. You're talking about a population where that work requires additional support also.

    Has there been any work done on modifying the disability pension frameworks in order to provide a different basis for the support calculations for people with significant disabilities?

    We struggled a lot on it with the original SSR. Because of these problems with the government, we work more actively on providing direct support to individuals and let the provinces deal with the equilibrium support models. We have to unhook ourselves from this debate. This grinds on and on without any real clarity or accountability.

    I'm interested in the university line. I do follow that one, because you're all driven by those things that are in our most immediate windows. I, of course, represent the region of Manitoba.

    In MOFA, are you saying that you support the tuition freeze or do you think it should be lifted? I'd like to know that, because there is this problem here.

    I am delighted, frankly, with your proposal on the idea of pulling post-secondary education out of the CHST. One of the things that have frustrated me enormously over the years is CAUT and the student federations. Either one of them would come before us and ask us to put more money into CHST. We'd say that yes, we put money into CHST and a small percentage of it goes to universities, but what are we buying?

    If our goal is to deal with the public policy problem around getting more core support in the universities, the CHST is a lousy mechanism, because we don't know where it goes once we throw it in the pot. We've argued for some time, at least a bunch of us have or some of us have, that we should disaggregate that.

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    So I'm pleased to see that recommendation in your report. And I hope, Sue, there'll be some further discussion of that in the larger report, because I think it's a critical issue.

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    The Chair: There has to be; there's so much of it.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: I would argue something else, though. This is where I wanted to go back with you a little bit.

    I would argue that the federal government has invested heavily in universities in the past five years. The problem is that while it's invested some of it through the CHST, most of it has been through this disaggregated group of funding organizations--the Millennium Scholarship Fund, the Canadian Foundation For Innovation, and so on.

    So you have billions of dollars out there in all of these organizations, all of which are directed at post-secondary education. The problem is--and I think you referenced this--we've also increased the burden on the institutions, because in order to respond to this very diverse community they have to put more and more of their resources, not into core research or teaching, but into grantsmanship and negotiating the granting maze. There is some discussion about whether or not we should streamline that a bit for post-secondary education.

    But I want to come back to this again. Having asked you about the tuition freeze, you made the comment that the provincial government had announced its university of the north, but it doesn't have the money to fund it.

    Why does that become our problem?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Our problem being the federal--

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: That's a significant problem for us, right? We have no policy control over the decision to do that, and all of a sudden we have somebody coming to the table and saying, “Well, it's been done. Pay for it.” Hold on, right? I'd like to see a little differentiation in those relationships.

    Let me start with that, and you can take it in whatever order you want.

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    The Chair: Dr. Henley, why don't you go first.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: MOFA supports the tuition freeze. Certainly we did in the provincial election that we just held.

    You may be familiar with target education, and certainly we supported the Canadian Federation of Students in their position on the tuition freeze.

    We're concerned about accessibility--obviously, getting students into the university--

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: What's the evidence that there's a problem with accessibility?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: What is the problem?

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: What's the evidence that there is a problem?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: In this province there is no problem. In fact, the problem is that there is not enough room in the universities, so the people don't want to go there.

    Again we are back to the core funding problem. Students are being turned away from the universities here. What happens typically is that the early applicants are accepted, but for the people who come in later and apply, usually there is no room. No matter what their academic standing is, they are turned away—hundreds of students. Again, I work for Brandon University, a small school, and this is what happened at our school this past fall.

    This is why we have to have more federal funding coming in. Remember now, we have a crumbling infrastructure in a way. Libraries aren't able to keep up with the kinds of research texts and that kind of thing. It's just to keep things going. That's where I am coming from on that.

    On the UCN thing, we will have to wait and see what this thing looks like. We are in dispute with the province right now about what kind of institution this is going to be—whether this is going to be a first nations institution or an aboriginal institution. As it stands right now, we've been after the province to guarantee academic freedom in this institution. They've been hedging. They won't commit. It suggests to me that maybe they think this is going to be something like the Canadian Mennonite University, for example, a second-tier institution—that's how I look at it from my perspective—rather than a regional institution in the north.

    As to the federal responsibility, certainly the federal responsibility comes in around the first nations' relationship with the federal government. Basically, I'm here grasping at straws. We need more money, so I put that one in my presentation to add to the appeal.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Let me push back a little bit. I realize it is horribly impolitic for a person to argue with a witness, but I want to put something back to you.

    Universities are full of smart people, by definition, right?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: They're what?

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: They're full of smart people, a lot of bright people.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Hopefully.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: There are some serious structural issues here about how we deal with it. I don't think it's a lack of will so much as a lack of trying to pick apart to get to the root of the problem.

    Take the student aid problem, the accessibility. We have, I think, one of the best student aid people in the country at the University of Manitoba, Peter Dueck. I think he might have been here earlier. This guy is bright. He's writing all these [Inaudible—Editor]....

    Every year we hear this talk about accessibility. Every year the number of students wanting spaces goes up. Every year those spots get filled. Look at the statistics.

    Then we hear that students are taking on these huge debt loads. An average student debt load would be $25,000--that is one that I think a number of people talked about.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: After four years, you mean?

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Yes, right?

    If you look at the statistics for students, you see that 56% of students in 1995 graduated with no debt at all; and this year, 54%. There's not a lot of shift in that. There's no question that a certain group of students have huge problems and they need help. The problem is that you keep coming back to these broad arguments about how we should put more money into it.

    I'd like to understand this a little bit better. You can't be a little more precise about where that goes? Does the federal government have a responsibility to the first nations community...?

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    Dr. Richard Henley: Absolutely.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Putting a whole new university into a town of 12,000 people serving a population of 50,000 people and putting a lot of money into infrastructure, buildings, is that going to satisfy that? I'm not certain that it is, and I haven't seen any information to suggest that it is, other than that it's a politically interesting thing to do.

    I guess what I'd like to see coming out of this smart group around here is a little more [Inaudible—Editor]. That's really my push on that one. You guys have a lot of experience, particularly at Brandon University. You had some of that distributive education--

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    Dr. Richard Henley: In fact, I worked for BUNTEP.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Okay, so you know.

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    Dr. Richard Henley: I know.

    Well, is it absolutely necessary? Obviously it's a political decision to create the new institution.

    As far as funding goes, you see, again we're back to saying, okay, we need core funding. The students are being turned away right now because there is a lack of space. Obviously we are not going to have more space unless there is more money put into the university to expand the ability to hold a larger class and that kind of thing.

    Manitoba has actually done pretty well, as far as provinces are concerned, in hiring full-time people. There's no question about that.

    Again, there are people who want to have a university education, and obviously we need more money if we want to deliver on it--plus, if we want to maintain the buildings and the facilities that we have.

    Lots of cuts are made as far as funding repairs and all the rest of it is concerned in order to keep universities going. The SMART Park up here at the University of Manitoba is another strategy on the part of that university in order to raise revenue, obviously.

    The administrations at the universities are finding ways to get more money, but alas, I don't think it is necessarily in the best interest of a public institution to take the pacts that they take, to enter the agreements that they enter into, the transactions.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: I should let somebody else go.

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    The Chair: Okay, I'll give you one more question.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Wait a minute, I want to hear from these others too.

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    Ms. Marg Rose: I would like to defer to Joe to answer one of your questions, since he has to leave for a shift.

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    The Chair: Mr. Dutra.

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    Mr. Joe Dutra (Literacy Partners of Manitoba): We're talking about adult literacy. We only get a Canadian buck in Manitoba. For an adult who doesn't know how to read, that's not quite enough.

    For me to go to the school that I have to go to.... I live in the Tyndall Park, Garden Grove area, and I have to go all the way to Transcona just to get an education. I feel that in the communities we should have an adult centre, because as adults, not learning how to read and write, it's very tough for some people. To spend a buck on an adult.... I know we should have learned when we were young, but you know what happens: people slip through the cracks. The government gives money to jails, to drug addicts, and all of those kinds of things. Maybe as adults, we can learn and then get out of being in jail and all this financing. We can help ourselves, as I've done. I went from mopping floors in kitchens, and all of that, to working as a bus driver for the city. I'm with a speakers' bureau, and I do all kinds of stuff; I try to get involved with the community.

    To spend a buck a Canadian just so they learn how to read is not very much. I feel that we should spend a little bit more; then maybe we can help child care, and we can help the disabled people. We could go to school to train for it.

    A lot of people say that the kids are the future. I think that as adults, we're helping the future get further along.

¹  +-(1515)  

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    Ms. Marg Rose: That would answer your question about why this problem is recurring all the time.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Is it the stubbornness or the numbers?

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    Ms. Marg Rose: Well, for a dollar a Canadian, what can we do?

    It's a very low amount. To see a high return on investment, perhaps we have to look at funding. Also, there is the fact that only 2% of people are stepping forward because of the stigma, and there are also the waiting lists. So we won't see a significant increase until we address those two problems.

    As for some of the solutions that are offered in there, I think there are too many people now investing too much time. It's emerged as a priority due to that same frustration you've voiced. Your colleagues on the standing committee of HRDC heard from hundreds of witnesses and have crafted a very good road map.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: [Inaudible—Editor] ...who is part of our western caucus, has been on this for 15 or 20 years. Andy Scott, one of my colleagues...[Inaudible—Editor] ...was running literacy programs in New Brunswick. With the passage of time....

    I understand that initially, in my parents' generation, getting out of school at grade 6 was pretty normal. But as society has become increasingly richer, I would have thought the proportionality of that number would change. It doesn't mean that's a good thing; it's a good thing overall, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't address it. But I am just a little surprised at the numbers that are persistently there.

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    Ms. Marg Rose: They are increasing. The youth are the best-educated generation ever, so we are making progress.

    Did you want to say something to that, Dale?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: No.

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    Ms. Marg Rose: Okay.

    The knowledge demands are increasing as well. It's a moving target. We can't achieve total literacy. We will never use all of our brain. We will never know everything there is to know, so there is more to know, more to learn.

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    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    We are out of time for our meeting.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Are we?

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    The Chair: Yes.

    Mr. Kendel, I'm going to give you the last word.

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: Okay. I think you've hit upon a couple of very interesting areas in the disability discussion. We've seen the federal divesting of responsibility to the provinces as not necessarily the wisest strategy. The federal role of creating innovation, of fuelling new issues and pushing the agenda forward could be on the verge of being lost if the federal role is simply to transfer dollars. We think it should be more.

    In terms of level of disability funds, we would point to a disability support program across Canada that would be responsive to the various needs of individuals. Last year we made a suggestion that, just as business is able to make deductions for all kinds of different categories of expenses, families should be able, on their income tax, to claim for disability support in proportion to what they're putting into it, so that if they're investing in child care and there's a need for extra support that creates an extra cost, it should be deductible, I think, for families.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Are you talking about tax credits and that kind of thing? Is that what you're saying?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: Yes. It would be one of those levelling kinds of things. As the disability is more complex in its nature and the costs are higher, the deduction should be more; I think that's how you level it. I would be flat against trying to pigeon-hole an A, B, C categorizing of which disability you qualify by. I think that would be a horror story for us.

    My last point goes into the guaranteed annual income kind of thing. It's been tried. It works on some fronts, and it has complexity to it. It guarantees income, but it also takes people out of the workforce, because they figure, I get $600 by doing nothing and I get $620 by working my butt off, so what's $20 worth to me? You get that debate going on, and it is a lively debate.

¹  -(1520)  

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Passive versus active income tax.

    On transferring of programs, the only program I can think of that would have affected you would be the training. What federal responsibility was transferred that would affect you?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: Labour market was a huge one.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: Are you recommending we take it back?

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    Mr. Dale Kendel: That or replacing it with something that actually would be responsive. Either it's an add-on or it's an adjustment to the existing program. But in regard to the labour market strategy, we don't get in.

    People with intellectual disabilities, we're in part two of an agreement that gets on the scale of a quarter of a million dollars across 40 organizations. We're not even a blip in the equation. We used to get direct funding of over $2 million under other federal programs.

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    Mr. Reg Alcock: You can advocate for us to take it back. I'm sure I'd support it.

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    The Chair: I think what is very clear to us is that disability issues can be done better at our level, and I think we're hopeful that's where we're headed. I am certainly quite willing to work in that direction.

    To all of you on behalf of all of the members of our committee, those who are here and those who are working elsewhere, we want to thank you for your input, for taking the time to prepare your briefs, for sending them in to us so we could translate them and distribute them, and for answering our questions here today.

    I'd like to thank my colleagues who have been with us again throughout the week at different locations, and I'd also like to thank all the support staff who have assisted us throughout. It's quite an undertaking to put this together and travel to a different city every day, and I think it's an important exercise for the federal government. Next week we'll do the other end of the country.

    The meeting is adjourned.