Premier Kathleen Wynne and Hon. Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure welcome participants to the 2017 Community Hubs Summit.
A number of weeks ago, I was at a meeting with a number of Mayors and one or two regional Chairs and they were talking about planning the future and they were thinking about what the GTA would look like [00:00:30] 50 years from now and they had a lot of different ideas and they were wondering what people would be doing and what people would be saying and one of the Mayor said, I know exactly what they are going to be saying, it has only been 99 years since the Leafs won the Stanley Cup [00:00:43] but I think we would all agree that he was wrong given the effort we have seen and the team we have got now. I am pleased to be here at our Ontario Community Hubs Summit and it really is very fitting that we are holding our summit here [00:01:00] at ever ground, Evergreen Brickworks, a community space that has so many benefits environmental, social and economic to name just a few and the space that connects people and helps so many others to collaborate and do amazing things.
This is the third event, I have actually been at here in the last 8 or 9 months, so congratulations Jeff and your team on creating an extraordinary and exemplary Community Hub here at Evergreen Brickworks [00:01:30] and thank you for hosting us here for this conference. There has been a real buzz around the organization of this Hub Conference and we all feel the momentum building around the great summit that will give tools and mentoring to community leaders and partners who want to make special things happen in and for their communities, but a Community Hub is not a new concept. Community Hubs offer many services often [00:02:00] in a highly integrated and client centered way under one roof and there have been people leading the charge and expanding this model for decades and virtually every part of the province.
There are local champions and partners like yourselves who have been coming together to establish Hubs in response to the needs of your communities. Part of my ministry’s mandate is to lead projects that directly strengthened our communities and our economy. Community Hubs [00:02:30] do both and they do them exceptionally well and one of our priorities is to provide all of you with the tools you have told us you need, so that you can create vibrant and sustainable Community Hubs to improve the everyday lives of people who live in your communities. So, today I am very pleased to officially launch one of those tools and that is the Resource Network, communityhubs.ca as you can see on the screens [00:03:00] behind me is a website that will connect Ontarians.
We are working in and planning for a Community Hub. The Resource Network is a place where you can connect with people who share your goals; you can exchange best practices, troubleshoot problems, strengthen partnerships, and coordinate efforts across the province. This really is a very exciting website. There is an advance mapping tool that lets you target community planning and service delivery [00:03:30] based on local needs. You really need to see this to believe it, you could look at any number of factors; health, social, demographic information and it gives you the information you need to create the Hub your community needs. There is also a membership feature that connects people and communities across Ontario to a faster collaboration and I would urge all of you to sign up today and create a profile, so you can start sooner than later [00:04:00] using this particular tool.
The broader the network we build together, the more valuable this tool will be for everyone. There is computer setup here at the Summit in the activation zone, staffed by people who can walk you through the process to get you started and this is just a beginning of the Resource Network. This project will continue to grow as more people sign up and new features are added in the coming weeks. A lot of people have been working hard to build [00:04:30] this site and to get it ready in time for the Summit and so I would like to extend a very big thank you to all of them and congratulations on the job, well done. We know there is more we can do to facilitate the creation of Community Hubs and that’s what this Summit is all about. It’s about coming together from across the province, building capacity, learning from one another and generating practical solutions. There are so many examples of innovative Hubs across the province.
[00:05:00] The Covington Community Health Hub in my Ottawa Writing is a great example of a collaborative partnership and leadership between the Covington Community Health Center and Ottawa Community Housing. When complete, this Hub will offer a new affordable homes below income seniors, integrating primary medical care and support services under one roof and will have a significant and positive impact for many local residence, so we need to continue [00:05:30] to work together to remove barriers in order to give life to the efforts of community leaders who want to make a difference and that’s what the Summit is all about taking the next step to help to fulfill the generosity of spirit that is part of our Canadian culture and we will see it right here in every community across Ontario. With all of us working better together for our communities, the future will be brighter [00:06:00] and now it is my honor to welcome to the podium one of your biggest and most relentless advocates, it is because of her dedication that we have been able to make great strides and is her support of Community Hubs that has made today possible, so on behalf of everyone here Premier, thank you for your leadership and guidance, now please welcome our Premier.
Ms. Wynne: Good morning, isn’t this lovely spring morning, it’s wonderful to see you all here, thank you very much, first of all Jeff, thank you, where is Jeff, I do not know where Jeff went, here he is, Jeff, thank you, thank you so much for this warm welcome and for all the work that you have done to create this terrific space and for all the wonderful schoolyards that you worked on in [00:07:00] Toronto particularly.
Thank you Kath, thank you Aldo Criger, thank you very much, I wanted to be a teacher and then a journalist, boy, did I go astray. I had some formal remarks and I am going to make them, but I just want to say to all of you that I think creating Community Hubs should be the most natural thing in the world, I think that there is such a lot of intuitive acceptance of this idea [00:07:30] in our communities and a lot of what we are talking about here is getting regulation and government and barriers out of the way to allow what naturally would happen in community, so that’s kind of what I said to Karen Pitre when she took on this job, but the reason I say that I think it is the most natural thing in the world is if you think about the past and Kath was just saying think about a long [00:08:00] house, think about space in a small world community, my grandmother was born in 1888 in Watford Area of Southwestern Ontario and the Community Hub, there was only one and it was the Church that was the only place where people gathered and if you had a problem or if you were looking for a date as she was or you were looking for supports, it was through that [00:08:30] community gathering, so I think there is a natural human impulse to come together and treat each other in a holistic way, I think over the years, we have separated services out and build walls around things that shouldn’t have walls around them, so that is kind of my speech, but I want to – I want to talk about some of the things that we are specifically doing but I also want to again [00:09:00] acknowledge that this land has been a gathering place for so many indigenous people over the generations and I want to show my respect for the history and the many contributions of indigenous people to our world, not just to Ontario and part of that contribution apart from the long houses or the community buddy in the more contemporary past part of that ongoing contribution [00:09:30] has been indigenous Friendship Centers that have been operating in Ontario for more than six decades and they are in so many communities welcoming safe spaces for indigenous and non-indigenous people alike and some of you would say our first modern day Community Hubs and I know there are number of people here from the Friendship Center movement and I want to particularly recognize Sheila McMann, but those of you who are from the indigenous Friendship Center, [00:10:00] folks where are you?
Is Sheila here, is she here, oh there they are, back there, good morning, thank you for being here. Sheila is from the United Native Friendship Center in Fort Frances and I was there, I went to the center last year and it has been a Social Hub for this small Northwestern Town for over 45 years and it is a place where people gather, they can access resources [00:10:30] about health, wellness including mental health, I saw kids programming there, I danced with the kids and it just a terrific welcoming place where people can get support for getting a job, adjusting to life as a new parent, so it really is a multifaceted place and their motto is in unity there is strength and I think that motto could be applied across Ontario to any Community Hub.
Hubs only happen [00:11:00] when people like you come together, you have a common purpose and you are looking for a way to solve problems, so thank you so much.
[Foreign Language Conversation]
So, Jeff is correct, I have been working on the notion of Community Hubs and the practicalities of Community Hubs for a long time [00:11:30]. I have been in provincial politics since 2003 but as Jeff said, I was a school trusty before that and got my sort of first taste of some of the barriers to creating Community Hubs when as a school trusty I was trying to work in my own ward to make rational use of some school buildings that otherwise would not have been used for public good, so the school board and then in every role as I had as minister [00:12:00] and I look to George Zegarac, who was with me when I was in education and knows that I have been talking about this for long time, which may sound like I am pretty ineffectual, because I have been talking about it for so long, I like to think it has been building to this moment, I had to get to be Premier to say okay we are going to do this, but I did have successes along the way, there were some successful maybe not a full Community Hub but some practical solutions that we found along the way [00:12:30] but what all of that experiences that I really do believe that I understand what many of the obstacles are and so that’s what we were trying to remove.
I know how hard it can be to get a Hub off the ground and I also know that you have the convening power of bringing people together and we are really happy to be able to facilitate that, so it is not a new idea, we have been at this for a while but right now, I think we have a chance to really get [00:13:00] the province behind the Community Hub movement and then to help you take it to the next level and the way I think about this is that we are not in the business in this project of mandating a model or forcing communities to do a specific thing, so it is the tension between spontaneous problem solving at the community level and government support and facilitation [00:13:30] and that is tricky because government is better at mandate. We say thou shallt [00:13:35] and everybody has to step in line and do what they are told, which never happens, but the elusion is there or communities just struggle along and when there is, you know when there is the right critical mass of people and loud voices, then something happens in the community. I guess what we want to do is just make it that much easier for that spontaneous eruption [00:14:00] of a Community Hub to happen by facilitating from government, it is tricky, I know that this is not what government usually does or sometimes has trouble doing but I really think we have a chance to get it right, so we are not gonna to let this opportunity slip by that is exactly why I’ve asked Karen Pitre to be my special advisor on Community Hubs and the Community Hubs Advisory Group [00:14:30] has done a fantastic job with Karen, so can I just ask us to give them a round of applause, thank you so much. Where are those people, where are the Advisory Group here, I know Annie is here, put up your hands if you are on that Advisory Group, they are sprinkled throughout here, okay, well thank you all of you. So, for two years, they have been working from the ground up, thank you everyone who has supported their work, the expertise [00:15:00] that you have lent to this is terrific and I hope you will agree that the recommendations that they brought forward are really making a difference in how Community Hubs get build in Ontario.
I just want to talk a little bit about the context that we are operating in because obviously this move to Community Hubs is not happening in a vacuum. We are living in a world with lots of challenges whether it is technology or whether it is President Trump, there is uncertainty [00:15:30], who knew that President Trump would think of a Community Hub, but the point I am making is that we, there is a lot of uncertainty in the world, there is not just uncertainty in Ontario, there is uncertainty globally, people are anxious about the future, they are not sure, they are not sure where their next job is going to come from, they are not sure if they are going to be able to keep the job that they have and they are worried about the kind of economy that they are kids are going to live in.
[00:16:00]They are worried about the realities of part-time and precarious work and I think that in a time of uncertainty like this one, Ontario and governments have to step up, that is our responsibility, and in Ontario we are in a really good position to do that. We have the strongest economy in Canada. We have got the most job creation happening in this province, our budget is back in balance and all of that gives us the flexibility and the freedom to [00:16:30] respond to the real challenges that people are facing and it cause on us because of that situation that we are in, to be bold and to be active and to take initiative where we see a problem that needs to be solved and again not taking action for the sake of taking action but with the clear purpose of creating more fairness and more opportunity and so every way we can find to do that it is our responsibility to do so, [00:17:00] so that is what you saw in our budget last week and you know whether it is an education or in health care, we are working to put those supports in place.
The health system in the budget last week might be the best example, we know that people don’t have extended health benefits for the most part and so we have put in place some of that security that has been lost. The OHIP Plus Program will make prescription medication free [00:17:30] for everyone 24 years and younger, yeah, and it is the first program of its kind in Canada and its the biggest expansion of Medicare in Ontario for a generation and it is a big league forward towards Universal drug coverage for everyone on Ontario. So, our health system is evolving with the time that is part of that evolution but Community Hubs are critical part of that evolution [00:18:00] as well even if we just talk about healthcare.
Our budget puts more resources into hospitals to cut wait times, hires more doctors and nurses to deliver care in the community, for smaller rural and in Northern Towns Community Hubs help bring that care right to where people needed and gather those services, so the people can access them. So in a changing economy what I really believe is that Hubs can create new opportunities for people to start a business or earn a little extra income but they [00:18:30] can also create those opportunities for accessing better care. A few weeks ago, I was meeting with Mayors and Wardens in the Simcoe County and Bill French, who is Mayor of Springwater, told me about a combined school in Community Hub that his town is working on. They want to use part of the school to build a commercial kitchen and what he said was that access to a commercial kitchen will open up all sorts of opportunities for smaller producers in the community to grow their agro food businesses [00:19:00], support local farmers, those are the kinds of examples of why Community Hubs are critical and why this is grown into such an organic ground up movement and its all those little flashpoints across the province where people come together to take some control over where they live and do things that are intuitively the right thing to do for them and all of that create some new security [00:19:30] and new opportunities, so having said all of that, I know that there are still challenges.
You wouldn’t be here having this Summit, you wouldn’t have come from the distances that you come and you wouldn’t be sitting here freezing cold if you didn’t believe that there was more that we can do. There still are occasions where public land is being sold off without any discussion or consultation about whether there is a different way that it could be used and that is unacceptable to me. There must be a conversation about that [00:20:00] and some of you, I am looking at Bill Tucker, some of you have known me since I was Minister of Education and I was pretty adamant about those conversations having to happen but the reality is that they do not always happen.
Right now in Mississauga, there are closed schools, the city is empty and not being used and is the same community Trillium Health Partners is looking for long-term space, so the solution sounds really simple [00:20:30] we should be able to make that happen, so how do we come together as partners and how do we breakdown those planning barriers that keep that very intuitive thing from happening and I know that the connections that you are going to make here over the next few days will help with that, the Resource Network, that Bob just talked about will help with that and we will actively step up as a province and help too. We know that the planning required to make a Hub come together is complicated, we know its time consuming and those [00:21:00] silos that I talked about can make developing a Community Hub really frustrating, so we changed the regulation to extend the time for the sale of surplus school properties and that helped but we need to do more to resolve this challenge of timing and coordination because we can’t assume that everything will come together at the same time that everybody will be in lock step making decisions at the same time, often the sale of surplus public property [00:21:30] doesn’t give communities enough time to develop a sustainable business plan and determine the viability of a Community Hub, so that is not right, we know these things take that time and we need to give communities some time to come together, so I am happy to announce that we are going to do that.
We are creating an application based demonstration program to help community groups like yours who have identified an opportunity to purchase a surplus public property for community use, so what this program [00:22:00] will do, is it will help to hold the selected property in public use for up to 18 months, we will hold on to that property, that is right, so the funding that we will allow that to happen is not meant to hold the property in perpetuity, so it is not a case of oh well the provincial government will just fund this forever, it is really about providing the time for those conversations to take place, [00:22:34] the time to find your partners, complete your business plan, secure the right public or private funding to create that Community Hub and at the same time we are going to work towards better alignment of provincial decision making across ministries so that we are helping move along the development of Community Hubs.
Those are nice words for saying we are going to force ministries to work together because it has to happen and you know I have seen a number of ministers [00:23:00] or deputy ministers here and this is not about individual, this is not about vilifying ministries, the reality is everybody gets very busy, there is a lot that goes on, a lot of decisions that have to be made and a lot of work that has to be done to advise ministers to put in place the machinery of government one of the hardest things about government is getting that horizontal conversation across ministries and you know it is one of the reasons that you see governments [00:23:30] when they come in or governments that make decisions, we all make decisions about changing the names of ministries and moving ministries around many, many times. The impieties behind that is we just, you know we need these guys talking to each other so let’s create a ministry and put them all together but then you realize okay now we got these guys, they have to speak to these guys, ultimately it have one great big ministry because you need everybody to talk together, that’s not practical, so we have to find better ways [00:24:00] of that inter-ministerial cooperation, so that is what we commit to you that we will work even harder to make those inter-ministerial conversations happen, because if they don’t, then you get caught on the ground being shunted off to one set of people or another set of people and not coming together. So my, you know my belief and from what I have seen is that if we can do this, it will mean that there will be more long-term care homes [00:24:30] and seniors housing for aging population, it will mean more youth support programs, more childcare spaces to take the pressure off working parents and in certain cases, where we have identified a community use, a business plan and the necessary funding partners, the province will make sure that the property stays in public use because ultimately that may be what a community wants and so that’s what we want to do.
We do not want to sit by and watch schools and hospitals and provincial properties disappear when there is a [00:25:00] pressing and practical community need for those properties that is wasteful in the extreme and we do not want that to happen. Look at our recent proposal to acquire Silver Creek Public School in Etobicoke, the closure of Silver Creek would have meant over 1200 kids losing mental health and autism support programming as well as licensed childcare and that’s not fair to the neighborhood and it is certainly not fair to the kids and it would be incredibly shortsighted public policy, so we stepped [00:25:30] into ensure that the school continue to operate as a Community Hub and we save those critical services that families in Etobicoke depend upon, so we know that this can be done, it take some will and some creativity and as I have just said it take some money in order to allow for the planning time, but we are making progress, I know we still have challenges but I know that the right people are in this room to come together and help us to solve those challenges.
[00:26:00] Thank you so much for taking this on in your communities and thank you for being here today. Merci. Miigwech.