September 2018


Volunteering has been a valuable and effective method for Canadians to effect social change for many generations. What began as a way of sharing knowledge and helping each other survive has evolved into an organized method of mobilizing incredible amounts of energy and knowledge for the common good. Volunteers are a vital component of our social structure.

What Does it Mean to Volunteer?

“To volunteer is to choose to act in recognition of a need, with an attitude of social responsibility and without concern for monetary profit, going beyond one's basic obligations.”[1]

Volunteer work is often inspired by social injustices and driven by the desire to create change. Volunteers contribute to the growth and sustainability of communities by contributing skilled work in a variety of capacities and fields. Volunteer Canada reports that most Canadians “view volunteering as vital to the societal and economic well-being of the country”.[2] Its value to personal growth and community life mean that volunteering should be acknowledged as a way of life.

Shifts in Volunteer Work

The way that people volunteer shifts throughout the life cycle.[3] Many young adults are busy; however, their schedules are more predictable.[4] This stability makes engaging in regular volunteer work more accessible. As people begin to have children they tend to have less time to give. Juggling the needs of children, work schedules and often the care of parents is time consuming contributing to the fact that families are the least engaged subset of volunteers.[5] Besides busy lives, there are also fewer opportunities available for families with young children to volunteer together. As people move into retirement we see that they tend to have more flexible, reliable and consistent schedules again. This group of volunteers are highly skilled and have valuable knowledge to contribute.

Ways of Engaging Volunteers

It is imperative that individuals’ interests are taken into account when engaging them in volunteer work. Today’s volunteers are highly skilled and have a clear vision of what capacity they want to give their time in. This vision and level of ability represent a shift in how volunteers are engaging with their roles. “Volunteering is personal and stems from individual preferences and motivations.”[6] Volunteer Centres are an excellent resource for matching volunteers with a role that will be engaging and fulfilling, which are attributes that contribute to longevity in a volunteer role.

Benefits of Volunteering

Health & Well-Being

Research indicates that those who volunteer experience more positive physical and mental health outcomes and increased life satisfaction.[7] For young adults, volunteering can help build confidence, ignite a passion for a certain cause and help them gain an understanding of issues that others in their community may be facing.

When families volunteer, they are given the opportunity to instill the values of giving and working as a team in their children.

For seniors who may be experiencing social isolation or loneliness, volunteering presents an opportunity to form social connections while staying active. Research from the Baycrest Centre has shown that “a moderate amount of volunteering has been shown to be related to less hypertension and fewer hip fractures among seniors who volunteer compared to their matched non-volunteering peers.”[8]

Skills Development

No matter what age group one belongs to, volunteering presents an opportunity to improve or gain new skills.  Through various avenues of volunteering such as direct service, contributing administratively or sitting on a board of directors or committee, individuals can build a variety of skills including communication, leadership and teamwork. For young individuals these may be skills that they have not had the opportunity to develop at school or in the work place. For older individuals, volunteering is a place where they can apply their knowledge and gain new perspectives in how to apply their skills.

Intergenerational Impacts

Along with benefits for individual generations, volunteering can help bridge the gap between age groups. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides great opportunities for older individuals to form relationships with youth who may be at risk providing a positive adult figure in the child’s life and in return receiving companionship and an opportunity to mentor and share knowledge.

A positive adult figure outside of a youth’s family can be an opportunity to ask questions and even explore interests that may not be encouraged or accessible in the home. For older adults, interacting with younger individuals can help them stay connected to current issues in the community they live in and can help “reinforce meaning through being appreciated and recognized as a valuable person.”[9]

The Volunteer Impact on Community

Volunteering has a direct impact on community. Institutions such as hospitals or hospices as well as churches, athletic teams and many social service agencies would not exist without the help of volunteers.

When people volunteer they become more aware of current issues, develop positive relationships with their neighbours and take more pride and responsibility for their surroundings. The research shows that when people volunteer more there is less violent crime.[10] Statistics can show that the crime rate is down but what is more important is when people actually feel safe in their communities. This feeling of safety, social cohesion and awareness developed and sustained through volunteering contributes to the community’s overall sense of well-being. Attending school, gaining employment and participating in social and family life all become more accessible when we feel safe and engaged in our surroundings.


Volunteering helps to close social gaps between many different groups including politicians and the community, people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, people and their community and between generations.

Volunteering gives a voice to the public to ensure their needs are heard. For example, volunteering for political organizations can also open lines of communication with those in power and shape how issues are addressed.

There are a growing number of volunteer opportunities, like the ones discussed in this report, that allow younger and older individuals to work together. These opportunities help bring generations of people together allowing relationships to form and knowledge to be shared. Both generations have valuable in put and closing this gap can help young individuals gain insight into how they want to shape their future while providing older individuals with a sense of purpose.

When people volunteer they have the opportunity to interact with people who have had different experiences. These interactions create a natural way of sharing experiences, knowledge and building relationships. Volunteering is an irreplaceable component of Canada’s social fabric.

[1]  Susan Ellis and Katharine Campbell Energize

[2] Volunteer Canada, “Recognizing Volunteering in 2017: Summary Report” p. 9.

[3] Volunteer Canada, “Executive Summary: Bridging the Gap”.

[4] Volunteer Canada, “Building the Bridge for Volunteer    Engagement” p. 14.

[5]    Ibid.

[6] Volunteer Canada, “Executive Summary: Bridging the Gap”.

[7] The Conference Board of Canada, “The Value of Volunteering in Canada” p. 10, April 5th, 2018.

[8] Baycrest Center, “Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier.” Accessed on June 22nd, 2018.

[9] Journal of Gerontological Social Work, “Benefits of Volunteering for Older Adults Mentoring At-Risk Youth”, p. 29

[10] Huiting Wu, Points of Light Institute, “Social Impact of Volunteerism”, August 30th, 2011

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June 2018


In May 2018, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health released its report: ‘Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for All Canadians’. This report details the current state of pharmacare in Canada and culminates in a list of 18 recommendations on how to develop a single-payer, universal pharmacare program. This means that one public plan would provide free prescription medication to Canadians.

The Current State of Pharmacare in Canada

Many Canadians currently have their prescription medication covered by a patchwork of private and public plans. Private plans are often obtained through benefits packages offered by employers while public coverage is provided through provincial programs such as the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program, which provides coverage for individuals who are over the age of 65. These private and public plans vary across Canada and are associated with high premiums, deductibles and/or co-payments that are fees that must be paid before you can receive your medication.

Then there are individuals who fall through the gaps of this patchwork. Many people who are self-employed or work part-time do not have access to private drug coverage and do not qualify for public coverage. These individuals are left with no option but to pay for medications out of pocket. Research shows that having to pay so little as two dollars for a medication can limit someone’s access to life saving drugs.[1] It is estimated that more than one in five Canadians do not take the prescription medications they require because of their high costs.[2]

Why We Need Universal Pharmacare

Having a universal pharmacare program would mean that all Canadians would have equal and efficient access to the medications they need.

Some argue that rather than moving to a single payer system we should try to fill in the gaps for those who lack coverage. Québec currently follows this model by having mandatory prescription insurance and relying on private plans to fill in the gaps. To cut costs, private companies often favour healthy individuals and charge those with pre-existing health issues high fees meaning that even if they can find coverage they likely will not be able to afford it.[3] A single payer program would eliminate the burden of having to seek out drug coverage and allow all Canadians to access medication at the time that they need it.

Access to pharmacare is a social determinant of health. When your ability to access medication is dictated by your financial situation or existing health conditions it creates major inequities across populations. This is currently the case in Canada. These inequities have a detrimental impact on peoples’ ability to work, care for the their families and contribute to society.

Doctors report that when people cannot afford their medication they either take less in an effort to make it last longer or they do not take it at all.[4] This results in an increased number of individuals ending up in the hospital or even dying as a result of health conditions that could easily be prevented or kept under control by taking their medication as prescribed by their doctor.

Hospital care is expensive and represents a significant and disproportionate part of dollars invested in health care. Our hospitals are also overcrowded. Providing individuals with needed medication will prevent unnecessary, costly hospitalization.

Not being able to afford lifesaving drugs impacts mental health as well. Many people are forced to choose between buying medications that are required for their own or a family member’s well-being and putting food on the table. This results in people not being able to function at their best and also leads to feelings of embarrassment and shame. Doctors have reported that some patients in this situation will put off going to the doctor knowing their condition is not under control because they have not been taking their medication causing issues to worsen over time.[5] Not being able to afford medication can result in anxiety and fear that over a long period of time can cause individuals to struggle with their mental health and require even more unaffordable medication to cope with the symptoms they are experiencing. And the cycle continues…

Pharmacare: Essential to a Just and Fair Society

Canadians pay some of the highest prices for prescription pharmaceuticals per capita in the world.[6] One way that countries such as New Zealand have brought down the cost of drugs is by buying from drug companies in bulk and by having a national body negotiate the price.[7] If Canada moved to a single payer universal pharmacare program, we would be positioned through our buying power, to bring down the cost of pharmaceuticals.

A common argument is that private insurance companies and the government already buy in bulk, yet medications remain costly. They ask what difference can a single payer plan make? In New Zealand, the cost of a year’s supply of Lipitor, a common cholesterol drug, is just $15 while in Canada it costs $811.[8] Clearly, the evidence indicates that we could be doing more to bring down the costs of medication.

Decreasing the number of hospital visits, working to bring down the cost of pharmaceuticals through bulk purchasing and cost negotiations and streamlining the system with a single payer program will not only improve the well-being of people but also will create significant savings which can then be put towards currently underfunded areas in our social and health systems.

Steps Forward

A report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), “estimates total drug spending under a national Pharmacare program would amount to $20.4 billion, if implemented in 2015-2016.”[9] From 2015-2016 expenditures, “this represents savings of roughly $4.2 billion.” [10]

Besides moving to a single payer plan and buying in bulk, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health has also recommended:

  1. We look at the prescribing practices of doctors,[11]
  2. consider the establishment of a real time reporting system so doctors have more up to date information on the medications their patients are taking, and[12]
  3. assemble a shared national ‘formulary’, which is the list of medications approved for coverage, for all provinces and territories.[13]

1. Prescribing Practices

Doctors currently receive anywhere from 9-50 hours of training in clinical pharmacology in medical school.[14] There are over 13,000 drugs on the market in Canada. As our population ages, a growing number of seniors suffering from chronic health conditions, take 10 or more medications at once.[15] Doctors do not receive the appropriate training to navigate this complex situation.[16]

A common fear amongst those who are against universal pharmacare is that if there is easy access to drugs people will over use medication. Part of ensuring this does not happen would be to improve doctor training in clinical pharmacology.[17] Dr. Cindy Forbes also recommends that having real time access to a record of the medications a patient is taking would contribute to better and more informed prescribing practices.[18]

2. Inefficiencies

There is room to improve the relationship between physicians and pharmacists.[19] Throughout their four years of professional school, pharmacists receive extensive training in clinical pharmacology and toxicology providing them with valuable knowledge of all drugs on the market and their interactions in the body. Improving the relationship between physicians and pharmacists creates more opportunity for collaboration. Pharmacists could work together with doctors to assemble care plans for patients with complex medication needs.

Pharmacists are also easily accessible to the community and can provide valuable and immediate information on prescription or over the counter medications, which can help to equalize some of the burden that usually falls on doctors as a result of the general public not fully understanding the role of a pharmacist.

Currently, pharmacists in Ontario can do Medschecks, which are one on one meetings with a patient to discuss all medications they are currently taking. The results of this meeting are then sent to the doctor to keep them updated. In theory this system makes sense, however there are many extenuating circumstances that prevent Medschecks from occurring as efficiently as they are intended.

According the Ontario Pharmacist’s Association, a Medscheck should take around 20-30 minutes.[20] However, many pharmacists work alone without the help of an assistant, something that is dictated by the head office of the large corporations that house community pharmacies, meaning they often do not have the required time to spend doing multiple Medschecks per day. Possible improvements to this system maybe a designated pharmacist working on Medschecks while another pharmacist tends to the flow of patients. Medscheck opens lines of communication between pharmacists and physicians to allow for valuable up-to-date medical information to be shared with all members of a patient’s circle of care.[21]

3. Inequities

The formulary[22] currently varies for each of the provinces and territories. This creates inequities amongst Canadians as someone living in Alberta may be able to access medication which is not covered in Ontario. We also need to assess what drugs are currently on the formulary. A common myth is that newer medications are better medications. In reality newer medications are often very similar to medications already on the market but cost more. Also, new medications can cause unknown side effects. When a medication has been on the market for a number of years, we know what the long-term effects are.

In the Standing Committee’s report, Dr. Cara Tannenbaum reminds us of the gender impact in pharmaceuticals. In establishing a shared formulary, we need to be conscious of the fact that women often require different medications or different dosages than men, which can impact the cost of medications. In establishing a shared national formulary, a sufficient number of hormone related contraceptives need to be included.[23]

Who is left out?

Although universal pharmacare is the logical next step in improving Canada’s health care system, it is important to acknowledge that some will continue to experience barriers to accessing medications. If the pharmacare program follows the current system modeled in hospitals, individuals will require a health card to access services. Individuals living in Canada who may be undocumented or who are unable to obtain a health card for extenuating reasons such as homelessness, mental health or mobility issues will continue to face barriers in accessing their medications.

Implications for Private Insurance Providers

If Canada moves to a single-payer, universal pharmacare program, drug coverage from private insurance companies will likely be eliminated. The Standing Committee’s report indicates we need a better understanding of how this will impact job loss in industry and whether these jobs can be transferred to whatever entity would manage such a program.[24]


From both an ethical and a financial standpoint, universal pharmacare is an important pillar of Canada’s and Ontario’s safety net.  Universal pharmacare must be a joint policy and program initiative between the federal and the provincial/territorial governments.

As the cost of pharmaceuticals continues to rise the limitations of our current system, both its inefficiency and unsustainability, become clear. Implementing universal pharmacare will create a more effective, equitable system with fewer barriers to access life saving medications. This improves the health and well-being of Canadians.

[1] Canadian Labour Congress, “Pharmacare for Ontario”.

[2] Angus Reid Institute, “Canadian Public Opinion Regarding a National Pharmacare Program,” written submission to HESA, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 6 June 2016.

[3] Mythbuster: A National Public Drug Plan (Canadian Health Coalition, 2017).

[4] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in The Standing Committee on Health (HESA), Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 16 May 2016, 1600 (Ms. Connie Côté, Executive Director, Health Charities Coalition of Canada).

[5] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in HESA, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 16 May 2016, 1600 (Ms. Connie Côté, Executive Director, Health Charities Coalition of Canada).

[6] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in CIHI, “Information Sheet: Drug Spending at a Glance,” 2017.

[7] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in PHARMAC, Medicines and Medical Devices Contract Negotiations.

[8] Canadian Labour Congress, “Pharmacare A Plan for Everyone”

[9] PBO, Federal Cost of a National Pharmacare Program, 28 September 2017, p. 2.

[10] PBO Federal Cost of a National Pharmacare Program, 28 September 2017, p. 2.

[11] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in Dr. Anne Holbrook, Director, Division of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, Professor, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, “National Pharmacare: Essential Role of Evidence, Formularies, Expertise” reference document submitted to HESA, April 2016.

[12] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in HESA, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 1 June 2016, 1610 (Forbes).

[13] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians p. 84.

[14] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in Dr. Anne Holbrook, Director, Division of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, Professor, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, “National Pharmacare: Essential Role of Evidence, Formularies, Expertise” reference document submitted to HESA, April 2016.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in HESA, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 1 June 2016, 1610 (Forbes).

[19] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in HESA, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 16 May 2016, 1540 (Mr. Perry Eisenschmid, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Pharmacists Association).

[20] Ontario Pharmacist’s Association website:, accessed June 11, 2018.

[21] The group of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals involved in a patient’s care.

[22] List of medications approved for coverage by an insurance plan.

[23] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians as sited in Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Scientific Director, Institute of Gender and Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), “Policy Brief: Applying Sex and Gender-Based Analysis to Drug Policy in Canada,” written submission to HESA, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 20 May 2016.

[24] Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage For All Canadians p. 119.

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May 2018

Often community members such as the Boyne Britannia Neighbourhood Group are pushed to ask important questions: Why? What and who will benefit? Will harm be done to the people, community and to the environment? Civic society is dependent on evidence, education, dialogue and, ultimately decisions that inform action essential to build a safe community where human well-being is a priority. I bring the concerns and effort of these Milton citizens to your attention.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director

The Canadian National Railway Company (CN)

CN Rail is a multi-national corporation with revenues of $250 billion in 2018. Over the last 25 years, it has purchased 1,200 acres of land on the southwest corner of Milton and they are now proposing 400 acres be used to build its Rail Hub. The facility would be approximately 2,900 metres in length and have the capacity to handle four trains per day. Once completed, the terminal would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It would be bordered by Tremaine Road to the west, Britannia Road to the north, Lower Base Line to the south and Highway 25 to the east.

The proposed CN Rail Hub or transport interchange will enable cargo to be exchanged between intermodal vehicles: that is rail cars and transport trucks. This intermodal exchange has the advantage that it can be done without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, and so improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster. Reduced costs over road trucking is the key benefit for inter-continental use.
In 2008, CN announced that the economy could not support their proposed Rail Hub and they would not proceed with its construction.
In 2015, CN reversed its decision and announced it planned to build the Rail Hub in Milton.

Milton and Halton Region Planning

A decade ago there were 54,000 people living in Milton. Now, it’s about 113,000, with a 30.5 percent population growth between 2011 and 2016. The average age of Milton residents is 35, making it the youngest community in Ontario. Census figures show about 30 per cent of the population is 19 or younger.

Milton is experiencing an array of development challenges since the town began growing. Schools are struggling to house the population. GO transit has yet to be able to accommodate all the commuters to downtown Toronto. Fees to developers do not cover the health and emergency services the town and region must provide.
Milton planners have their sights set at population growth to 400,000 in 30 to 40 years.

In 2013, Halton Region and Milton approved a regional plan that assumed the CN Rail Hub would not be built. The plan includes high intensity residential (20,000 new homes), recreation, commercial and education facilities development immediately beside the proposed CN Rail Hub.

Access Road Issues with the Proposed CN Rail Hub

Milton community groups and individuals have claimed that building the CN Rail Hub now will affect quality of life of the growing population of Milton. Negative impact of the Rail Hub includes:

  • Property devaluation by the unsuspecting home owners who have purchased the newly built homes adjacent to the proposed CN Rail Hub.
  • The 24 hour a day 1,600 trucks and the 130 Rail Hub employees will create long rows of waiting trucks, heavy road use not only near the CN Rail Hub but throughout Milton as the trucks from the CN Rail Hub leave the Rail Hub directly into residential neighbourhoods built following the most recent Milton and Halton Region plans.
  • The CN Rail Hub will be handling toxic materials that will create risk to the adjacent residents.
  • Employment density will be far below the Provincial mandate – 5,000 versus 15,000– CN feels it is not required to meet density targets.
  • Development fees not collected to support infrastructure costs.
  • Loss of property taxes for Milton and Halton Region.
  • Regional Road #25 is the main road the 1,600 trucks a day will use travelling to and from the Rail Hub as it is presently the only road linking Milton to the 407 and the Queen Elizabeth Way.
  • In May 2018, truck routes for the CN Rail Hub are not built including the widening of Britannia Road, although the CN Rail Hub would be located on Tremaine Road, this road is not presently connected north to the 401 or south to the 407. Without one of these roads, truck traffic on Milton’s already busy arterial roads will be excessive.
  • Even though the southern part of the Rail Hub could be connected south on Regional Road 22, the CN Rail Hub is presently designed to have traffic only enter on the north side with all 1,600 trucks 24 hours a day entering a residential area of Milton.

Detailed information about the proposed CN Rail Hub is available on the Halton Region website ( As well, more issues are raised by the “Milton Says NO” community group (

CN Rail Research on Impact of Proposed Milton CN Rail Hub

In 2017, Scott Streiner, CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency, reported in a speech to the Railway Association of Canada that a different approach was being taken by his agency for the approval process for construction of the proposed CN Rail Hub. He stated:

“We haven't had a large number of rail construction applications in recent years, but when they do come in, they can be contentious, depending on the planned location of the new line. A case in point is CN's proposed Milton logistics hub, for which the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and I have agreed to a joint hearings process – a sort of single window for gathering information relevant both to the environmental assessment and the Agency's determination on whether or not to authorize construction.” (

Therefore, the Milton Logistics Hub Project Review Panel (see Ref #80100) is a joint process established under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and the Canada Transportation Act.

On March 21, 2018 CN submitted its responses to many of the Panel’s environmental assessment information requests. (

A public hearing will be announced by the Panel and 60 days notice will be provided once it is decided when the hearing is to be held. (

CN had submitted a report to the Panel in January 2018 ( about its ‘public consultation’. This report claimed shopping mall customers and interest groups favoured the proposed CN Rail Hub. This is in contrast to what a public referendum may find, for example, if a referendum had been included as part of the November 2018 municipal election. However, the deadline for submitting a referendum question was March 1, 2018.

In addition, CN’s ‘Mitigated Day-Night Sound Level Contours – Operations” study also submitted to the Panel in January 2018, omits the noise impact of the 1,600 Rail Hub trucks a day on Milton streets.

It’s Never Been More Important for Big Companies to Listen to Local Communities

The Harvard Business Review (November 2017) ( reported that there are new tools for governing the relationship between large corporations like CN with local communities. These include community benefit agreements, memoranda of understanding, and multi-stakeholder agreements designed to document commitments, responsibilities, and benefits surrounding a large investment project such as the CN Rail Hub. It is pointed out that these tools can help bring clarity to all involved and must be reviewed and renegotiated over time.

In March 2018, two community meetings were convened by CN to discuss the offering of ‘gifts’ to community groups to secure their support for the Rail Hub. Examples presented at these meetings and reported in CN’s “Milton Logistics Hub – Benefits Brief” involved:

Transportation and transit

  • Evaluate development of dedicated truck lane from proposed facility to 407
  • Contribution to additional overpass in the Halton Region in partnership with all levels of government


  • Contribution to partnership for a new arena in Milton
  • New connections to regional cycling network
  • Additional pedestrian/cycling overpass over mainline
  • Contribution of land to provincial greenbelt
  • Investment in a community park
  • Contribution to a new community sports field

Education and environment

  • Contribution to higher education programs or facility to Halton Region
  • New contributions to community programs and partnerships
  • Contribution to program or capital for Milton Education Village/Innovation Centre

However, in the same “Benefits Brief”, CN states it would support these and other ideas as long as:

  • The proposed Project is approved with reasonable, acceptable conditions
  • CN would be a contributor to a partnership funding envelop, not the sole contributor
  • The benefit does not require additional environmental assessment scope related to the proposed Project.
  • The proposed Project is not contingent on this additional benefit
  • The benefit does not impact the proposed Project’s schedule
  • The benefit is feasible
  • There is no specific timeline associated with the benefit
  • CN is not responsible for the operation or the maintenance of the benefit

Memoranda of understanding, and multi-stakeholder agreements designed to document commitments, responsibilities, and benefits surrounding the CN Rail Hub have yet to be agreed upon. These presumably would include negotiating with CN to relax the above listed conditions CN has stated in supporting any ‘benefits’.

Since 2014, the Halton Municipalities have cooperated in assessing the CN Rail Hub proposal for potential effects relating to areas of provincial and municipal responsibility through the Federal Environmental Assessment process.

Court Challenge

In March 2018, the Region of Halton, the Town of Milton, the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, and the Town of Oakville and Conservation Halton have filed a joint Court application to confirm their jurisdiction to review the impacts of the CN Rail Hub. This is in response to CN’s assertion that the CN Rail Hub is an exclusive federal jurisdiction, and neither the Province nor the municipalities have any regulatory role with respect to it.



The proposed CN Rail Hub highlights community issues that urgently need to be acted on by all stakeholders:

  • Milton should conduct a referendum outside of the election which would be much more representative of community views than Milton shopping mall ‘surveys’ conducted by CN’s consulting firm.
  • Milton and the Region of Halton should seek the support of local residents as part of the Court challenge so that local governments and citizens have an input into the decisions that affect their lives.
  • A process to disseminate information and create opportunity for broad public discussion of and consensus on the implications of the proposed CN Rail Hub. This is required to ensure a balanced approach to this proposal that is in the best interest of all concerned.
  • The impact of the truck traffic impact on Milton requires further examination including consideration of the proposed CN Rail Hub being redesigned so that its main entrance is not Britannia Road on its north side, but to Regional Road #22 on its south side.
  • More discussion about how local neighbourhoods in Milton receive from CN benefit agreements, memoranda of understanding, and multi-stakeholder agreements designed to document commitments, responsibilities, and benefits.

Boyne Britannia Neighbourhood Group

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February 2018

Community Development Halton as a member organization of the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) supports the following policy and budgetary recommendations made at an Ontario Pre-Budget consultation on January 29, 2018. I share these with you as these recommended changes in policy will enhance the well-being of Ontario and Halton residents. They represent additional steps in building a healthy civic society.

Joey Edwardh
Executive Director


SPNO acknowledges the important social investments that the Government has made in the last eighteen months in areas such as prescription drug coverage for children and youth, post-secondary tuition relief for low income families, increased support to seniors, expanded child care spaces, and, most recently, passage of The Fair Wages, Better Workplaces Act.

Policy and Budget Considerations

There, of course, remain important areas for policy and budget consideration in 2018-19.

  • While increasing the minimum wage was a major accomplishment in the last year and is generally recognized as just and fair in the public mind, the Government has recognized the increased cost pressures on about 400,000 small businesses and has accommodated with a business tax reduction. The 55,000 nonprofits and charities in Ontario with minimum wage employees are eager to pay their workers fairly. Unfortunately, raising prices in service work to their communities is not an option for most. As the Ontario Nonprofit Network has requested with the support of its organizational members including SPNO, the wage cost increases should be reflected in adjustments to Transfer Payment Agreements for the last part of 2017-18 and in new agreements for the next fiscal year.
  • SPNO has been an active contributor to the Ontario Government’s Community Hubs initiative to improve community capacity for health, social, economic, and cultural supports. We support the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s recommendation for capital funding, low cost loans, and multi-year, multi-program funding agreements for community hubs.
  • Through local research and a project on student well-being involving 14 communities, the SPNO is concerned about inequities and exclusion in the school system. A specific concern requiring attention in the 2018 Budget is the pressure on local school boards to use Learning Opportunities Grants designated for support to students in low income communities for other purposes. This problem arises from an inadequate school funding formula that SPNO recommends that the next Budget begin to address.
  • SPNO appreciates that both the provincial and federal governments are assuming more leadership on the affordable housing agenda, although much of the actual investment at least federally is spread over a long-time frame. Legislated inclusionary zoning would initiate more immediate relief. Inclusionary zoning assures that affordable housing is built to promote socio-economically diverse neighbourhoods. It requires developers to include a set portion of below-market units, either to buy or to sell, in every residential building. Unfortunately, the regulations as now drafted are counterproductive to the intent and purpose of inclusionary zoning. Although this enabling legislation for municipalities would not seem to have a direct impact on the Ontario budget, inclusionary zoning that requires additional direct costs on municipalities will undermine local adoption, thus reducing the role of municipalities as effective partners with the province and the federal government in solving the affordable housing crisis.
  • Finally, SPNO urges action on the recently released report, Income Security: A Roadmap for Change. As a long-term plan the report’s recommendations would transform the culture of the social assistance system from a policing and punitive model to a more personalized, responsive and supportive approach for Ontario’s most vulnerable residents. The proposal of achieving a Minimum Income Standard for all living in deep poverty is critically important, but A Roadmap for Change sets an unacceptably long-time horizon for achieving this standard (10 years). The specific recommendations for increases amounting to about 22% by 2020 for a single adult would still leave single recipients just over half-way to the official income poverty line. Notably, the Lankin and Sheikh Social Assistance Review Commission Report in 2012 recommended that the Government implement a $100/month Healthy Food Supplement endorsed by 25 municipal councils across the province, which would have been a 17% income increase for adults on social assistance in the first year.

As long as Government revenues reflect an Ontario economy that is showing strong growth, a first-year commitment in 2018-2019 to a larger rate increase in the order of 15% to 17% in the 2018 provincial budget would show a serious Government commitment to addressing deep poverty.  SPNO recommends this first step for the 2018-19 budget and an accelerated plan for achieving the Minimum Income Standard within three to five years.

For further information contact:
Peter Clutterbuck                                                                  Joey Edwardh, Ph.D.
Senior Community Planning Consultant, SPNO                       Executive Director
Tel. 416-653-7947 Cell: 416-738-3228                                     Community Development Halton                                                           

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