2002 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 37th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2002
Volume 6, Number 1
|Auditor General's report No. 1, 2002-03
Building a Strong Work Environment in British Columbia's Public Service: A Key to Delivering Quality Service
|Committee of the Whole House||2645|
|Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 3)
Hon. G. Collins
|Reporting of Bills||2654|
|Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 3)|
|Third Reading of Bills||2654|
|Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 3)
Hon. G. Collins
|Committee of the Whole House||2654|
|Corporation Capital Tax Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 4)
Hon. G. Collins
|Reporting of Bills||2654|
|Corporation Capital Tax Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 4)|
|Third Reading of Bills||2654|
|Corporation Capital Tax Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 4)
Hon. G. Collins
|Committee of the Whole House||2654|
|Registry Statutes Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 20)
Hon. G. Collins
|Report and Third Reading of Bills||2654|
|Registry Statutes Amendment Act, 2002 (Bill 20)
Hon. G. Collins
Proceedings in the Douglas Fir Room
|Committee of Supply||2655|
|Estimates: Ministry of Children and Family Development
Hon. G. Hogg
[ Page 2645 ]
TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2002
The House met at 10:03 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. members, on this day of national mourning we shall observe a moment's silence in remembrance of the Queen Mother.
Thank you, hon. members. Please be seated.
Mr. Speaker: Hon members, just before we get on with orders of the day, I have the honour to present the auditor general's report No. 1, 2002-03, Building a Strong Work Environment in British Columbia's Public Service: A Key to Delivering Quality Service.
Orders of the Day
Hon. G. Collins: In Committee A, I call Committee of Supply. For the information of members we'll be examining the estimates of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. In this House, I call committee stage of Bill 3.
Committee of the Whole House
AMENDMENT ACT, 2002
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 3; T. Christensen in the chair.
The committee met at 10:08 a.m.
Section 1 approved.
On section 2.
J. MacPhail: I need to, if I could, please, have an explanation of exactly what the changes are to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority. The minister could feel free to comment on sections 2 and 3 together, if he wishes. Here's where I'm going, Mr. Chair, on these matters: what are the requirements?
I assume that sections 2 and 3 are giving the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, which we now call TransLink, the ability to raise money. I'm going to call them TransLink. They've metamorphosed into that. In giving them the ability to raise more money, what is the requirement to actually use the money in a certain fashion? Or are there any attachments to the raising of these funds whatsoever?
Hon. G. Collins: There are no requirements on them to use the money for any specific purpose. This is an arm's-length authority. That's why it was created. There is an agreement between TransLink and the provincial government under the legislation and an agreement to provide them with this revenue stream. What they choose to do with it…. They are accountable — somewhat indirectly but are accountable — to the voters they represent.
J. MacPhail: The tax on parking rights was contemplated over the course of several years as a method in which TransLink could raise money in order to meet its responsibilities for transit expansion. There was a little bit of road expansion in that as well. Recently TransLink has introduced a surplus budget. It also includes a huge expansion of road rehabilitation, which was never contemplated at the time of the original agreement.
I'm wondering: has the minister had discussions with TransLink on the necessity of introducing this tax now? In other words, are they relying on this tax in order to meet their surplus budget of this fiscal year?
Hon. G. Collins: The previous government signed a cost-sharing agreement with TransLink which required this process. TransLink has put this process in place, and they will expend the money how they wish. That's part of what the agreement says.
J. MacPhail: Actually, the previous agreement was more complex than that. It was a little more complex.
Please don't take these as adversarial questions. I'm just trying to figure out what the new arrangements have been with this current government, given the previous cost-sharing agreement. The previous cost-sharing agreement required that the government participate in giving GVTA/TransLink the right to a tax on parking. It happens to be a tax that I am in favour of, if it encourages the move toward public transit. I'm just curious as to why the provincial government is instituting this taxation right for TransLink now.
Hon. G. Collins: The agreement required that we provide them with this ability. My understanding is that TransLink does not plan on accessing this revenue stream in any major way until '04-05.
J. MacPhail: Yes, okay. Fine. That's very helpful.
I note just for the record, Mr. Chair, that I, who am very supportive of TransLink as a concept, am watching it very carefully. There does seem to be a shift from the current leadership of TransLink toward rehabilitating roads, as opposed to expanding public transit. I'll be watching very carefully to see how they use this increased parking tax right to expand public transit.
Hon. G. Collins: This government has nothing to do with how TransLink chooses to expend its funds. That's one of the advantages — or disadvantages, however you choose to look at it — of creating the independent body. Government's role in this regard is merely to provide them with the revenue stream or the
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ability to access the revenue stream. That was part of the agreement.
Sections 2 and 3 approved.
On section 4.
J. MacPhail: Could the minister please explain the necessity of this?
Hon. G. Collins: I spoke at some length about this in second reading, although not at huge length. There was a regulation that the previous government had put in place around this homeowner grant for people with disabilities. The grant has been there for some time, but there was a regulation put in place in, I think, 1997 which required a supplemental form and a physician to sign off. It was a somewhat more complicated process.
There has been some question whether or not the legislation provided the power to create that regulation. What we're trying to do here is clarify the intent of the legislation and what the regulation was at the time it was done. Then, going forward, the intent is to put in place a new system requiring one form rather than two and relieving the disabled person from the requirement to have a physician certify that the repairs done to the home were as a result of a disability and that the renovations were in fact done.
Now it requires the individual — much like all of our tax system, which is voluntary compliance and disclosure — to fill out the form and present it. It also clarifies that it must be for substantial renovations of the home. There are also provisions in the act to make sure that those people who qualified before are grandfathered and don't have to go through this whole process again. Everybody doesn't have to go out and fill out a new form and reapply.
J. MacPhail: It's exactly what I thought it was. So then this was very controversial. Frankly, the previous government, while faced with the controversy around this regulation, decided to take a sober second look at it and not implement it. The community of people with disabilities said that this was an attack on them.
So I'll be voting against this, because it legislates what a previous government said was not appropriate to proceed with. Tell me…. The minister said it doesn't require a doctor's form. Well, what is d(1)?
Hon. G. Collins: In fact, we're trying to clean up what was a difficult issue. This part, d(1), is the part that validates the retroactive portion. In the prospective portion, we're not going to require the physicians to sign off that the renovations were done as a result of the disability. We're leaving that up to the individual. We're trying to make there be an honour system on this, just like there is on everything else. In order to validate what was in place for that period of time, this is required to come into force, and as I said, prospectively, it won't be relevant.
J. MacPhail: How can one determine from these amendments that there's a difference between looking back and looking forward? Can the minister explain how that works? I don't read it that way.
Hon. G. Collins: It'll be part of the regulations that will be implemented going forward, and it'll be a different process.
J. MacPhail: In fact, Mr. Chair, just so you know, the reason why I'll be voting against this on division is because we were convinced by the community of people with disabilities that there were far greater areas in which a government could focus in terms of ensuring that people get the benefits they deserve and don't abuse the benefits they don't deserve. We were convinced to not proceed on this matter. I think this legislation is just a way again of putting onerous requirements on people with disabilities who are already struggling.
Hon. G. Collins: I would disagree. We have to deal with the tangle that was left by the previous government. We're trying to clean that up. More importantly, we're living up to a commitment the Premier made to create a new system and a new structure. This one will be based on an honour system for people to disclose, much as people do with their tax system all the time. In fact, there are two components. We are trying to clean up what was there before, but we're trying to fix it going forward. That, I think, is the only responsible thing to do.
Section 4 approved on division.
On section 5.
J. MacPhail: I listened very carefully to the minister in the second reading debate and then have looked at the notes as well. I must say I was not clear at all in terms of what exemptions needed consistency.
Hon. G. Collins: The explanation has a picture, which is a good indication that it's complicated, I've learned. Let me try and simplify this as best I can.
Currently, under the Hospital District Act, when they use that tax roll as a basis for taxation, there is not the same exemption for certain types of property that exists in the School Act. For example, if you tax under the hospital roll, you would be able to tax churches and cemeteries because those exemptions that exist in other places aren't there. What we're trying to do is create the same exemptions there so nobody will end up taxing a cemetery or a church or those sorts of things.
J. MacPhail: Does this have a different application depending on what area of the province one lives in?
Hon. G. Collins: In fact, this will bring standardization. On the rural side I think the exemption already
[ Page 2647 ]
exists. On the municipal side it does not. It's a housekeeping thing that we're trying to clarify so we don't end up with those distortions I mentioned.
J. MacPhail: Are there any municipalities, local governments or regional district governments that will be affected one way or the other by this change?
Hon. G. Collins: No.
Sections 5 to 8 inclusive approved.
On section 9.
J. MacPhail: I haven't asked any questions about those sections, but are these sections…? Let me deal with section 9. Is the reason why we're amending this particular legislation because of the separation of provincial and federal tax-collection systems?
Hon. G. Collins: The member is correct in that when the federal and provincial systems split a few years ago, British Columbia managed to come up with a tax amount that could be categorized as an alternative minimum tax or an international tax by just doing a calculation and coming up with a number. Under the agreement with the federal government, it's my understanding that we have to actually put in place an alternative minimum tax and the international tax as well. That's what we're doing. We're just creating that structure to put in place what we agreed to do.
Sections 9 to 12 inclusive approved.
On section 13.
J. MacPhail: Perhaps the minister could explain what the change in definitions will entail in terms of either ability to collect tax or ability to exempt from tax.
Hon. G. Collins: The definitions aren't changing; they're merely moving in the act from one place to another in order to keep them all in the same area where they apply.
Sections 13 to 16 inclusive approved.
On section 17.
J. MacPhail: I'm trying to pick out the ones I'm curious about in terms of whether it's restructuring — separating the provincial from the federal. The language about harmonization doesn't include language about the federal act. So what are we harmonizing here, please?
Hon. G. Collins: This doesn't really have anything to do with the federal system or the harmonization. The two-year small business tax holiday which was implemented previously applied to businesses up to $200,000. As we've raised the threshold to $300,000, this is a consequential amendment.
Sections 17 to 19 inclusive approved.
On section 20.
J. MacPhail: I assume — in fact, the explanation note says this — that this motor fuel tax is an increase to give to the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, which is now TransLink. I'm curious to know. This was done without a referendum. I recall the now Premier at one point saying he wouldn't increase taxes to go to the GVTA, now TransLink, without a referendum. What happened?
Hon. G. Collins: The Premier committed to not create a new tax. That was in response to the vehicle levy that was an option. This is a pre-existing tax, and TransLink received funds from this before. It's increasing an existing tax; the Premier's commitment was that we not create a new tax.
J. MacPhail: Well, I'm sure that'll come as interesting to people who weren't as finely tuned to the nuances of the Premier's promises. On April 1 this gas tax went up, and I'll tell you, people were mighty upset in my neighbourhood, because they recalled greatly that the Premier had said that he wouldn't. They — the ordinary public, who aren't required to pay attention to the nuances, as this government would have them — interpret it as that the Premier misled them on allowing gas tax to be increased specifically for TransLink.
In terms of an agreement with TransLink, is the agreement that TransLink will raise funds to exactly the same amount as that raised by the two-cent increase in gas tax?
Hon. G. Collins: As part of the agreement with the government in response to what was a pretty loud decision by the public that they didn't want a levy, the previous government had committed to provide in an agreement to either implement the levy or some other means to collect a revenue stream. That was in the wording of the agreement that the previous…. Well, it was. I'll try and find it for you in a minute. There was an agreement to provide either the mechanism for the levy or an alternative source. I'll get the wording for the member.
The government entered into an agreement with TransLink in order to deal with what was a commitment that the previous government had made — a legal agreement — to implement what I just said. We sat down with them and said: "Here are all the options. You know what you need. You know what you've said we could do." We came up with an agreement that said: "Here's a revenue stream, but you must access your own tax base as well." They went out and consulted with people, and that's been pretty public. As a
[ Page 2648 ]
result, there's a revenue stream from gas. There's also a revenue stream from property tax.
J. MacPhail: My question was: is GVTA/TransLink required to raise an equivalent amount of money? How much are they required to raise out of their own sources? Is it equivalent? Is it equal?
Hon. G. Collins: I'm reminded by my colleague the Minister of Transportation that the auditor general did a review at the request of the previous government. He said there was a legal requirement to provide some revenue stream as a result. That's what we're doing.
In answer to the question the member raised, they are required to raise an equivalent amount.
J. MacPhail: How is that being monitored?
Hon. G. Collins: It's my understanding that they have met that requirement. I suppose if we became aware at some point that they weren't raising any funds…. I mean, TransLink has to make this stuff public as well, and they're accountable. If we became aware at some time in the future that for some unexpected reason they weren't fulfilling their part of the agreement, then I suppose the government would speak to them and sort it out.
J. MacPhail: Well, I would urge the government to monitor that very carefully. There has been much change in the last few months around what TransLink sees as their priorities. There's a much heavier concentration on road rehabilitation than was ever contemplated by the original agreement. That's because the government is not building SkyTrain, for instance, to Coquitlam or Port Coquitlam or Port Moody, so there's greater emphasis by those municipal leaders that they then…. If we're going to keep people in their cars, the roads have to be rehabilitated. It's sad, but that's the way it is.
I think that the original purpose of TransLink to expand public transit and to get people out of their cars and into public transit is still a laudable goal and the one that we should be directing, particularly in the greater Vancouver regional district.
I would urge the government — and I hear that's what the minister says he's going to do — to monitor carefully that TransLink lives up to its side of the bargain to contribute an equal amount of money to their resources.
Hon. G. Collins: I fully expect that they will contribute an equal amount. If we become aware that they're not, then obviously we'll speak to them about that. We have an agreement with them.
When the previous government decided to bring in this legislation and create the GVTA, my understanding of it — and the legislation that's there indicates that's true — was that the goal was to try and devolve this to the local communities and let the local communities make their decisions. It's a regional transportation authority.
Once you've devolved that to that authority, then they are the ones responsible for making those choices. That's how the legislation was drafted. If the member has a problem with the way the legislation was drafted or has a problem with the decisions that Translink makes, then that's something that maybe in retrospect she would rather have had different legislation brought into the House. She'll recall that the current government, which was in opposition at the time, raised many concerns and in fact voted against the legislation for some of the reasons I suspect the member is raising now.
If you're going to devolve, you devolve. If you're not, you don't. But you don't devolve it and then try and direct what they do. That's a decision the previous government made and put through the House in the form of legislation. The legislation is in place. Translink and the GVTA will make their priority decisions based on what they think the people in the local area want. They consult widely. Not everybody is going to agree. I don't feel the need to defend or chastise them for their decisions. That's a different level of government. They will make their choices. They'll be accountable for those choices.
J. MacPhail: In fact, the minister is wrong on that. The reason why we have this legislation here is because they're not an elected, delegated form of government that has the right to raise taxes. That's why we're here. That's why this legislation is here that they have to increase the fuel tax to give to GVTA.
The minister constantly wants to push me into a box where I'm constantly saying: "I'm in an adversarial position." No. I'm doing my duty, particularly representing a community that's affected by this, of making sure the due diligence is done. This authority doesn't have the right to raise taxes itself. That's why this legislation is here. That's why I'm asking the government to do its due diligence as well. That's all, Mr. Chair.
Hon. G. Collins: We will do our due diligence. The member is incorrect, however, in saying the authority doesn't have the ability to raise taxes on its own. It does. In fact, it's raising taxes in a matching way to this. There is also an agreement that the previous government entered into around some revenue streams. This government is trying to live up to those agreements as we understand them.
Sections 20 and 21 approved.
On section 22.
J. MacPhail: The government raised taxes in the area of school taxes. Is this the language that allows the government to do that?
Hon. G. Collins: No.
J. MacPhail: Why is this necessary?
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Hon. G. Collins: There are a number of districts around the province that have widely divergent levels of property assessment within the districts. Tofino and the area around there is one that has created a huge discrepancy and a distortion in the system because the value of the property in Tofino, as a result of the increased tourism, is dramatically higher than, for example, the property values in Ucluelet. There was a distortion there. It reached a point where I think it became unfair and unreasonable.
We've set in place a policy that allows government — and this legislation will allow us in cases of a system that has generally worked extremely well across the province, where there are problems that become apparent and significant — the ability to step in and essentially separate them into two different areas for the purpose of this taxation. It's designed to try and make it as fair and equitable as possible.
J. MacPhail: What are the school districts that will be affected by this?
Hon. G. Collins: Under this legislation it will allow government to do it in any community, area or school district where there is a problem. As far as this goes, and the policy decision that's been made with it, the only school district will be the Alberni school district. That's because of the distortion in Tofino.
Section 22 approved.
On section 23.
J. MacPhail: Sorry. It refers to section 61. I haven't had a chance to look back. Is that the section that was amended for the parking tax for GVTA?
Hon. G. Collins: Yes.
J. MacPhail: In any way, does section 23 of this bill affect a definition of parking that would have implications elsewhere for the owners of parking lots?
Hon. G. Collins: No.
Section 23 approved.
On section 24.
J. MacPhail: What communities will be affected by this clarification about where taxes need to be paid or not paid or the import of various…? What jurisdictions are affected by this? Is it the movement of goods from one area of the country to another that's affected by this?
Hon. G. Collins: Can I just clarify if the member is on section 24?
J. MacPhail: Yes, I am.
Hon. G. Collins: This doesn't have anything to do with the movement of goods. It applies to the entire province. In fact, this is an amendment that was done in 1998. There was a small drafting error, and we need to clarify, I believe, the definition of the purchase price. That's really all it does.
Section 24 approved.
Section 25 approved on the following division:
YEAS — 61
NAYS — 2
On section 26.
J. MacPhail: Mr. Chair, I'm sure staff is coming in. This is the one…. I asked questions inappropriately under section 24 that should apply to section 26 about the application of this language and what it means for people moving around the province or between provinces — what it means for people who are moving into British Columbia from another jurisdiction.
Hon. G. Collins: If somebody is moving to British Columbia permanently or is intending to come and live here permanently, then they become a resident, and this won't apply. If they are continuing to live outside the province but also might own other property within
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the province, this gives a definition and clarifies what a non-resident is. It defines that for the purpose of this act so everybody understands that.
J. MacPhail: The change is that non-residents have to own or lease for a term of five years or more. The effect of that, then, is that they have to pay tax on the personal property they're bringing into the province.
Hon. G. Collins: What existed previously in this section was a provision that if a person was a non-resident but came in or had real property for a term of one year, they were required to pay tax. This relaxes it to five.
J. MacPhail: Yes, I understand that, but it's the relaxation of the requirement to pay tax. This was not without its controversy in previous forms. Was there any consultation on this prior to this change being made?
Hon. G. Collins: There was consultation with the affected businesses by officials in the taxation department.
J. MacPhail: Where does this now put us in line with other jurisdictions in Canada?
Hon. G. Collins: The five-year line is somewhat more relaxed than in other jurisdictions.
Sections 26 and 27 approved.
On section 28.
J. MacPhail: I'm wondering whether there was any consultation done under section 28 with truckers associations.
Hon. G. Collins: The trucking industry was involved in the overall policy when it was initially set. This was a problem that was brought to the attention of the ministry and myself from individuals in the trucking industry and in the business community. As well, I heard from the members for Peace River North and South where this was an issue as well, particularly in the oil patch. I felt it was a problem that needed to be corrected, and that's why we've harmonized it with ICBC's processes.
J. MacPhail: Where does this put us, again, in terms of alleviating the concerns of some truckers moving across Canada or between the United States and Canada — in terms of harmonizing within those jurisdictions?
Hon. G. Collins: It's mixed. Some districts allow light vehicles to be included in the multi-jurisdictional process; others do not.
The Chair: Shall section 28 pass? Minister?
Hon. G. Collins: Sorry, if I can just add one other item on this to clarify, perhaps, why I think this is important.
We had people in the northeast part of the province who were trying to do business and were competing with the Alberta jurisdiction. This allows them to keep their businesses whole, profitable and successful in British Columbia rather than having them move.
Sections 28 and 29 approved.
On section 30.
J. MacPhail: What is this? This section allows the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority/TransLink to charge whom a fee for costs incurred by the commissioner? I'm sorry. I'm just at a loss to know what this is.
Hon. G. Collins: Government has always had the ability to charge this entity for collecting the tax on their behalf. We currently do not. This is designed so that if in the future, for example, TransLink raised it to 21 and then wanted to come down to 14, there would then be a transitional period where refunds could be applied for. It would be fairly onerous for government to process those refunds. This would allow us at that point to charge them a service charge for doing all of that work on their behalf. But at this point we don't charge them for collection.
J. MacPhail: This is the ability for the provincial government to charge the fee.
Hon. G. Collins: That's correct.
Section 30 approved.
On section 31.
J. MacPhail: This is an amendment that provides for an exemption from provincial sales tax, I guess, for chemicals used to produce ammonium bisulfite used in the production of pulp.
Who asked for this, and how much are the people who used to pay this tax going to save as a result of this?
Hon. G. Collins: I apologize. I didn't hear all of the member's question. I'll try and answer what I think she's asking, which is always risky.
There was an exemption in 1998 for a certain set of chemicals that are used in the process to try and encourage the sector to use more environmentally friendly processes. There was already existing a mill — or mills, I believe — using a different chemical to achieve the same goals. They were not part of the exemption. This tries to bring both systems into parallel so one is not being penalized over the other. They both have the same goals to do this in an environmentally sensitive way.
[ Page 2651 ]
Sections 31 and 32 approved.
On section 33.
J. MacPhail: Again, I have some questions about this section. The member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head spoke to this yesterday. This is a section that exempts boats and travel-trailers brought into the province for long-term use by non-residents. They don't have to pay a tax, whereas they did before.
Again, what's the definition of long term? And secondly, how much revenue from tax collection is the province forgoing by allowing non–British Columbians to bring in their RVs?
Hon. G. Collins: Virtually none, and the reason is that people were required to self-file and pay the tax on this. My understanding is that it wasn't done terribly often because people were unaware they were required to do so.
The member will recall that the previous government brought in these amendments, which we're now repealing. It created a great deal of concern in communities where tourism is a big issue — the Shuswap, the Okanagan and the coast — and it was decided that the negative impact on the economy of driving some of that tourism out would be greater than the benefit of trying to create the equity on the sales side.
It is something we've looked at. We've consulted. I've heard from a lot of MLAs over the last number of years and even more recently in preparation of this. The previous government, as a result of those issues being raised at the time, decided not to proclaim these sections, so these sections are not currently in operation. Government has made a decision to remove them entirely and to follow through on the recommendations that we've heard from individuals.
J. MacPhail: So there's no forgone revenue?
Hon. G. Collins: I won't say there's none. I will say it's virtually none or fairly insignificant. There may have been people who were self-filing and paying this tax. I don't believe it was widely known that people needed to do this, and I don't believe it was happening a great deal. The change in revenue, as a result of this change, certainly will be virtually nil.
Sections 33 to 35 inclusive approved.
On section 36.
J. MacPhail: The exemption to the machinery and equipment tax. What are the exemptions that are being added?
Hon. G. Collins: Previously, when we brought this exemption in last summer, the goal was to provide an exemption for machinery and equipment. As the member is aware, once you start doing that, you can get into the listing, and it gets to be very complicated.
Initially, government decided that only parts — spare parts, replacement parts — that were specifically designed for that piece of equipment could be exempted. Let me give an example. Let's say there was a belt that was required to run two pulleys on a piece of equipment in a manufacturing context. If somebody went out and bought that belt, if that belt was a specifically designed belt just for that piece of equipment, then the exemption applied. However, if a manufacturer, in building that piece of equipment, had decided, for the sake of simplicity, to use a belt — part number, whatever — that could be used on a car, a washing machine or whatever in an attempt to lower the cost of manufacturing and repairs of the piece of equipment, then it was not tax-exempt.
It created a huge problem for the manufacturers, trying to decide whether this belt could be used for anything else or if it specifically designed and who you find out from. We just felt that if the goal of the policy was to encourage the capital investment and the maintenance of that capital in an attempt to encourage people to reinvest their capital and build the economy, then we shouldn't really be distinguishing whether or not that belt is for that piece of equipment or something else or whether it was designed specifically.
The difficulty is that you run the risk, I suppose, of somebody going out and buying a bunch of those belts and saying, "Yeah, this is for my piece of equipment, where I'm manufacturing something," and really they're using it for their car. It gets to be a little bit bizarre in the detail. The goal is to try and make it simpler to administer and fairer, and we hope people will do so accordingly.
Section 36 approved.
[The bells were ordered to be rung.]
Section 37 approved unanimously on a division. [See Votes and Proceedings.]
On section 38.
R. Stewart: For some reason, the homeowner grant measures for persons with disabilities only apply to renovations required because of a disability. They do not apply to purpose-built new homes constructed to meet the needs of a person with disabilities, even though such a home may include expensive components and details that are purposely designed to facilitate the use of the home by a person with disabilities.
I had pursued this matter with the previous government, and I'm going to ask it again now. To the minister: is there any move to include purpose-built accessible new homes under this measure instead of just renovations to existing dwellings, where the new
[ Page 2652 ]
homes are built specifically to include measures to accommodate a person with disabilities?
Hon. G. Collins: I actually hadn't thought of that until the member raised it. I don't know why it would only apply to renovations and not somebody building a house from scratch. I'm just trying to mull this over in my head.
I don't see the logic as to why it wouldn't apply in both cases. Unless somebody can explain to me why, I'll probably keep that opinion.
I'll make this commitment to the member: I will review the issue. I'll try and have staff do some examination of it and determine whether or not it's something we should look at. Well, we will look at it. I'll keep the member informed. Perhaps this is something we might do in the future. I don't want to commit to that. I'll commit to having a look at it and seeing if it makes sense, unless somebody can tell me why it doesn't. But I'll wait and hear what people have to say.
R. Stewart: I thank the minister. I wanted to cite an example, and this won't be so much a question but a means of clarifying my earlier question.
The example is a couple that I am aware of. Both are paraplegic because of traumatic accidents. They're both bound in wheelchairs for life. Together they had built a brand-new home with wheel-in showers and every component designed, essentially, to accommodate their needs. The home, of course, is extremely expensive to build. Many of these components are one-offs — very unique types of components. I would estimate the extra cost of building such a home in the order of $150,000 for their particular needs — including, perhaps, a larger lot to accommodate a larger footprint. It was a rancher that they needed, of course; they couldn't use a multistorey dwelling. There were a number of other components that made life a lot more livable for them.
They remarked to me, back when I was president of the Canadian Home Builders Association of B.C., that it was awkward that they weren't eligible for this particular grant. Even though they had spent perhaps way more money than a lot of people who were eligible for the grant, they didn't do it on an existing home. They decided to start from scratch to meet their needs more carefully. Their home, of course, is perfect for them or as perfect as it can be. I would hope that we can remove that disincentive to start from scratch for some homeowners who might be able to have the financial capacity to do that and allow, perhaps, that those types of incidents be treated on the same basis as a home that is renovated to accommodate their needs.
Hon. G. Collins: I think the member makes a valid point. As I said, I'll commit to look at it. If he has any other submissions he'd like to make over the next little while, or people he thinks I should meet with or talk to about this issue, I'd be glad if he'd pass them on to me as well.
J. MacPhail: Section 38 is to deal with retroactive issues, I would imagine, around the exemption provided to increase the homeowner grant for people with disabilities. Why is there a necessity for this section 38?
Hon. G. Collins: The member will recall that earlier in the bill we were debating a similar issue. I stated that we were trying to do two things. We were trying to validate what the previous government had in place and validate the intent of the legislation and regulations that were in place when they were put in place. Then, prospectively, we were trying to bring in a different method that's a little more trusting. This section validates what was there previously.
J. MacPhail: Well, I'll let this section pass, because this section actually says that up until the first reading of this bill, everything's okay, and nobody can change the rules on that. My next question will be under section 39.
Hon. G. Collins: On section 38, for reasons of simplicity, I'd like to propose a drafting or technical amendment to section 38(3). I'll just read that section: "Information to determine eligibility for the additional grant as provided by a medical practitioner to a collector, using the form entitled 'Supplementary Information for Persons with Disabilities,' is conclusively deemed to have been validly collected and used between April 11, 1997" — and then it says — "and the date this section receives first reading in the Legislative Assembly…."
I'd like to amend that by deleting the phrase "the date this section receives first reading in the Legislative Assembly" and replacing it with "February 19, 2002" such that it will now read: "between April 11, 1997, and February 19, 2002."
That same amendment would apply in section 38(2). The effect is exactly the same. It just clarifies, and the Table advises on this that it just makes it easier for somebody reading this act a year from now or ten years from now. Rather than having to go back and find out when the bill was actually introduced for first reading, which was February 19, it will actually say that in the act. I'd like to make that amendment here in section 38 and advise the Chair that I'll be doing that, as well, in sections 39 and 44.
Section 38 as amended approved.
On section 39.
J. MacPhail: This is the section that I'm curious to know why it's here. It deals with the issue that whatever happened between 1997 and 2002 stays. There won't be any change to the application process for people with disabilities to get a homeowner grant based on their disabilities. As far as I can tell, this says that because of
[ Page 2653 ]
this legislation, changes that are now going forward, no one can sue going backward. Is that right?
Hon. G. Collins: Actually, what it does is tie in with section 38. It validates the application that government in its intent at that time…. This says that you can't sue for government validating that application.
J. MacPhail: Were there lawsuits? Was any action being brought by anyone against the government?
Hon. G. Collins: Yes, I believe there were some.
J. MacPhail: The lawsuits that are in progress, then, are wiped out by this. Have the people who brought the actions against the government been notified? Has there been a reaction to this legislation from those who brought lawsuits against the government?
Hon. G. Collins: I'm told that we've had some inquiries about the technical details of this and how it works. That's the extent of it. It's not uncommon when government goes back and fixes things that were in place before, particularly around taxation issues, that there may be lawsuits or applications for refunds in play at that time. It's not an unusual effect. So far I certainly haven't received any calls personally. I understand that staff have had some questions on the technical issues, for which they provided that information.
I move the same amendment which I moved for section 38 in section 39: to remove the phrase "the date this section receives first reading in the Legislative Assembly" and replace it with "February 19, 2002."
On section 39 as amended.
J. MacPhail: On section 39, who brought the lawsuits? Were they people with disabilities or landlords or people worried that we weren't collecting enough tax or that the exemption was too great?
Hon. G. Collins: I understand there was a variety — individuals and groups as well.
J. MacPhail: The reason why I'm asking these questions is because a government always has to make sure that they're making themselves immune from legal action with proper diligence, due diligence, etc. I don't want in any way to suggest that the previous governments back to the early days of Confederation haven't done this, but it is very important that governments do due diligence to the effect of making themselves immune from legal action. I would have preferred more detail, but based on that, I don't know what else to do.
Hon. G. Collins: I just want to say to the member that I am not a big fan of retroactive legislation. She's aware of that from my time in opposition. However, there are cases where it's required, where it's the right thing to do, where it really does clarify an intent that was made by the House. I think this is one of those cases. As I said, I'm not a fan of it, but sometimes it has to be done.
Section 39 as amended approved.
Sections 40 to 43 inclusive approved.
On section 44.
Hon. G. Collins: On section 44, Mr. Chairman, I would like to move the same amendment. I'm trying to see which section it is. Section 38(3) — correct? Delete "the date this section receives first reading in the Legislative Assembly" and replace it with "February 19, 2002."
On section 44 as amended.
J. MacPhail: Mr. Chair, this is the section that deals with the effective date of the various changes to various acts. I'm curious as to section 44(8), which says that sections 27 and 28 will be deemed to come into force January 1, 1996. Those two sections are sections that exempt the payment of taxes, I assume, on commercial transport for the trailer that they're hauling. Will there be refunds made to commercial transport operators?
Hon. G. Collins: ICBC, I understand, has mistakenly been doing what we're going to do forward anyways. In fact, there'll be no exchange of money. What they've been paying in the past is what they'll continue to pay in the future. We've just retroactively validated what was the practice at the time.
J. MacPhail: Is that true of section 31 as well, which now makes ammonium bisulphite exempt from social services tax as well?
Hon. G. Collins: My understanding is that they hadn't been paying that tax, I assume, on the understanding that they were part of the exemption. There was an audit done which discovered this fact. For reasons of fairness, we think we should exempt them from that, which we discussed at the time of the bill. There will be no change in money back and forth. It merely validates what had been happening.
J. MacPhail: Is there any application of commencement dates that requires refunds to citizens or corporations?
Hon. G. Collins: No.
Section 44 as amended approved.
[ Page 2654 ]
Hon. G. Collins: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete with amendments.
The committee rose at 11:30 a.m.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Reporting of Bills
Bill 3, Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2002, reported complete with amendments.
Third Reading of Bills
Mr. Speaker: When shall the bill be considered as read?
Hon. G. Collins: With leave, now, Mr. Speaker.
Bill 3, Taxation Statutes Amendment Act, 2002, read a third time and passed.
Hon. G. Collins: I call committee stage of Bill 4.
Committee of the Whole House
CORPORATION CAPITAL TAX
AMENDMENT ACT, 2002
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 4; T. Christensen in the chair.
The committee met at 11:34 a.m.
Sections 1 to 7 inclusive approved.
On section 8.
Hon. G. Collins: On section 8 I'd like to move the following amendment. I would like to amend section 8 as follows:
Mr. Chairman, all this does is get the correct name of the entity. It was reversed in the act, and we just want to clarify it and put in the proper name.
Section 8 as amended approved.
Sections 9 to 35 inclusive approved.
Hon. G. Collins: I move that the committee rise and report the bill complete with amendment.
The committee rose at 11:36 a.m.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Reporting of Bills
Bill 4, Corporation Capital Tax Amendment Act, 2002, reported complete with amendment.
Third Reading of Bills
Mr. Speaker: When shall the bill be considered as read?
Hon. G. Collins: By leave, now, Mr. Speaker.
Bill 4, Corporation Capital Tax Amendment Act, 2002, read a third time and passed.
Hon. G. Collins: I call committee stage of Bill 20.
Committee of the Whole House
AMENDMENT ACT, 2002
The House in Committee of the Whole (Section B) on Bill 20; T. Christensen in the chair.
The committee met at 11:37 a.m.
Sections 1 to 21 inclusive approved.
Hon. G. Collins: I move the committee rise and report the bill complete without amendment.
The committee rose at 11:38 a.m.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Third Reading of Bills
Bill 20, Registry Statutes Amendment Act, 2002, reported compete without amendment, read a third time and passed.
Hon. G. Collins: We have completed the business for this morning. I understand we'll need to await the
[ Page 2655 ]
Chair of Committee A when they're complete. Perhaps the House could recess for ten minutes.
Mr. Speaker: The House will be recessed for ten minutes.
The House recessed from 11:39 a.m. to 11:44 a.m.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
Committee of Supply A, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. G. Collins moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
PROCEEDINGS IN THE
DOUGLAS FIR ROOM
Committee of Supply
The House in Committee of Supply A; G. Trumper in the chair.
The committee met at 10:09 a.m.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
CHILDREN AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT
On vote 18: ministry operations, $1,558,430,000 (continued).
The Chair: Minister, did you want to introduce your staff for this session as we are here, rather than in the big House?
Hon. G. Hogg: I would be delighted to: Chris Haynes, Janice Aull and Sarf Ahmed.
J. Kwan: Hon. Chair, yesterday we just started the estimates questions with the Minister of Children and Family Development. I was asking about advocacy and the issue around advocacy resources related to family, youth and children. The minister advised yesterday that the social workers will be undertaking a lot of the advocacy work. Could the minister please clarify that point? Is it the anticipation, then, that when a person has difficulties or challenges, the individual can go into the income assistance office and seek assistance from their social worker in the area of advocacy?
Hon. G. Hogg: Firstly, the income assistance office would be the Ministry of Human Resources office rather than the Ministry of Children and Family Development office. What I was referring to was some work, actually, that the ombudsman's office had done, looking at and talking to children in care and asking them who they saw as their greatest and best advocates. Through that process it became very apparent that children in care saw their social workers as their advocates, as a surrogate parent, as the people who would assist them working through the problems and issues with the system.
That in no way takes away from the other responsibilities that exist with the central agencies and offices, including the ombudsman, the advocate, the coroner's office — all of the other agencies which do the central types of reviews. They will still have access to that, but they see and they go to, as a first recourse, their social workers, who will assist them with that model and working through that. That in fact has been in place for some time. It's not a structure that we put in place, but it's a natural evolution of relationships that start to exist and become positive in terms of assisting children working through the system and understanding the world they live in.
J. Kwan: Is it the view of the minister that, with the change in the structure, children and youth in this province will have the same access to advocacy resources as when the child, youth and family advocate existed?
Hon. G. Hogg: It is my opinion that there will still be all of the services available to children. There will not be the same types of duplication that existed. I made reference last evening to a number of instances where duplication does occur in one or more central agencies and in some cases many agencies, looking at the issues as they pertain to an individual child. We hope that it will be more efficient and more effective in responding to the issues of the child.
The Ministry of Attorney General is the ministry that has responsibility for these central agencies, and they will be continuing to resource, monitor and manage those services. We believe that's the proper place for them to be, arm's length from this ministry, removed from this ministry, so they will have that type of contact with the ministry in dealing with the ministry but not be contained within the ministry, therefore not allowing for any conflicts which may arise with having that vested in the same ministry.
J. Kwan: The minister had stated in the Vancouver Sun on January 19, 2002: "Our first priority and our statutory responsibility is the safe care of children. We have to find strategies to do that. If we are not seeing the reductions that we are anticipating, we will have to have the staff there and we will have to adjust our service plan and our priorities to meet that." Does the minister guarantee this statement? What I'm trying to get at is this: at what point will the Minister of Children and Family Development increase staff numbers and/or funding in order to ensure the safety of our children, if the number does not reduce?
[ Page 2656 ]
Hon. G. Hogg: The shift that we're making is a shift that sees us move, in terms of child protection, from a model of having the bureaucratic structure intervening by having our experts go in and make decisions for challenges that exist at an individual, a family and a community level.
Our strategic shift shows us moving to a model that will have us intervening at that level so that we will be having our staff working for and in the context of communities. Certainly, the research where this has been tried, in parts of Ontario and parts of Manitoba, albeit in very small pilot projects, has been very positive. The research and the writings of many theoreticians are very supportive of the type of model we're putting in place and the direction we're going with this.
I think, as I said last night, the true test of the effectiveness of this is not in the theoretical application of it but in whether or not we do put the resources and supports in to be able to assist families to stay together to support children, to find safe ways of protecting children within the context of their family. We will be continuously monitoring that process to ensure that we are effective in providing safekeeping, a safe direction, for children.
The research is really clear about the effectiveness of systems for protecting children — that even if you have the best-trained staff applying the very best of techniques and models of risk assessment, there is still a probability the best you're going to achieve is about 80 percent success in terms of that. There are lots of failures that exist even when you do your absolute, very best.
We have to be very clear that we need to support our staff so that they have the ability to exercise their skills and abilities to do their very best. I think that in some instances in the past we've not allowed for that. I think we've made it more difficult for social workers, actually, to do their work by constraining them through a bureaucratic structure, through policies and, in many cases, through central agencies.
We will continually and consistently monitor the performance we're able to achieve and look at those issues. We'll monitor them on an individual and on a collective basis, and we'll constantly be looking at and trying to improve the systems we deliver. If we see that there are pitfalls or problems with the strategies, then we will monitor those.
As the member has appropriately placed and referenced, the protection of children is the number one priority. There are a lot of ways to achieve that protection, and we're looking at new, more positive, creative ways of achieving that protection.
J. Kwan: Could the minister please advise what the average caseload number is per social worker right now?
Hon. G. Hogg: I'm sure the member is aware that there's been a workload management strategy put in place, I believe about four years ago, to look at the work that social workers are confronted with and to manage that in a number of ways — to look at those strategies. There has been a shortage of staffing across the province, and we have been able, through a number of strategies that have been introduced over the past couple of years, to bring that staffing model up. We've been using the workload management technique to look at the number of staff that are required, and we've been able to bring the staffing level up. I believe it was about a year ago that, particularly in the north, we were down something like 35 percent in terms of staffing. As a result of some of the strategies, we were able to bring that into line. The problems that existed were in more of the urban areas in terms of staffing models.
The number we have is about 10,000 children in care and about 1,200 workers. That's the workers in child protection. We don't have that broken out in terms of a regional or individual…. If one wanted an average, a simple average dividing those numbers would give that, but certainly, it would not be an accurate portrayal of the actual work that is taking place in the communities.
J. Kwan: Maybe the minister can submit that information to the opposition at a later time. I'm interested, of course, in the regional breakdowns because different regions have different numbers of workers, different caseload demands and so on. To give a general number on that average would not be a fair portrayal of what the reality is. At a later time, when the minister has the opportunity to get staff to work out those numbers, I would appreciate it.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development, as I understand, is planning on reducing the number of children in care by providing family development programs. The target set in the service plan was to see the number of children in care go from 11 per 1,000 this year to nine per 1,000 by '04-05. The child, youth and family advocate has stated that reducing the number of children in care is a laudable goal, and I agree. That certainly is the goal. If children can stay at home, it is better for everybody. At the same time, the child, youth and family advocate also stated: "It should be based on the needs of the children rather than an abstract target to reduce caseloads." That was from the Vancouver Sun article, January 19, 2002.
Could the minister please respond to this statement on the issue, particularly relating to an abstract target versus the needs of children?
Hon. G. Hogg: Well, I certainly concur, and this government concurs, that it's the needs of the children that have to drive the issues that lead us to the targets. At the same time, we need to have goals to focus on, and the goals which we have developed are goals that are consistent with national averages. We don't believe that there's any reason why British Columbia can't be within the context or range of the national averages
[ Page 2657 ]
that exist in terms of the rate of children in care. The decision around that and the focus and movement towards that goal is all based on sound casework and sound social work that see us shifting from the strategy of the past six years, which has seen a 60 percent increase in the number of children in care. These targets are actually putting us back to where we were five and six years ago in terms of the number of children in care.
We've seen that shift, and as I commented last night, there has been a dramatic increase that tends to spike at the same time we see media reactions to it — the media publicity that covers a tragic incident that may take place. As a result of those, we've seen a spike in the number of children coming into care. That's attributable, in many cases, to the fact that I don't think staff have felt supported or comfortable in the situation. They're fearful that one mistake is going to be a tragic mistake. We have to ensure that the culture of understanding changes so that the public realizes, that we as politicians realize, that 80 percent is the best that we can expect using the best practice and using the best-trained staff.
The target, I don't think, is ethereal in that sense. It's grounded in experience across the country. It's grounded in the past experience of this province. It is grounded in the theoretical understanding, the conceptual understanding, of the shifts that have taken place in the past five and six years which have meant that the mentality and approach of this ministry has been that we're going to be rescuers, we're going to run into families and take children out, and somehow the state is going to be a better parent and allow things to function more favourably for those children.
I think most of us realize that the outcomes of children in care, not just in British Columbia but, indeed, internationally, are not the types of outcomes that we want to have for our children. There is more depression, more marital breakdown, more unemployment, more probability of people being on the welfare system. We need to be able to recognize the natural attachments that happen within the context of the family, and we need to support those in every instance that we possibly can, recognizing that we can't do that in every instance.
I don't think those targets are ethereal in any sense. I think those targets are actually grounded in theory, grounded in practice and grounded in experience. That's why we've selected those targets. That's why the member's previous question around being able to consistently monitor the service plan, why in working with social services, it's so important that we do continue to look at what we're doing and ensure that we improve those wherever we can.
J. Kwan: It's interesting to note that the minister made the point about how the media and the escalation of issues actually drives the caseload up. It's interesting to note because when the now government was in opposition, they certainly worked hard at bringing the matters to the attention of the media, therefore potentially causing a very negative impact overall in terms of the welfare of children and families in British Columbia. It was interesting to note that the minister has made that statement now, perhaps in hindsight observation.
Cutting red tape. The minister has stated that he'll be looking at cutting red tape, making it less difficult for relatives to take care of children in need. Could the minister please advise if there's any programming or funding available to relatives providing care to children in need?
Hon. G. Hogg: First, in response to the member's comment about the government when we were in opposition and the spikes that occurred, I agree that there were many comments made.
I also recognize that the government of the day proclaimed — I believe it was one of the ministers who said it — that one child death is too many and that we've got to prevent all of those. Unrealistic expectations were placed on the bureaucracy, on our staff and on social workers. Certainly, the expectations were not consistent with experience anywhere in the world, nor with any of the academics who were reviewing those and looking at them. While that expectation was laid out there by the last government, we were responding to the expectation that the government had placed. I think that's how we saw and looked at that.
I'm trying to say that the reference point and context, based on experience and theory, is not the same reference point that was there. At the same time, I don't deny that was part of a political process we were involved in, and spikes did occur when that happened. There were many reasons why those came to the attention of the media.
In response to the member's question regarding the amount of support that exists for placement within the context of family and/or extended family, we have announced that we will be proclaiming parts of the act which are currently in existence but not yet proclaimed. Those include the kith-and-kin section of the act, which will allow for placement of children with relations, friends and extended family, and funding where that is appropriate and required.
We've also introduced legislation which will give further options to the judge at the presentation hearing stage: the seven days after apprehension before which a child has to appear before the courts. At that point in time, there will be the opportunity for the judges to make further placement options.
We also have expanded, increased, the family development portion of our budget by some $10 million to refocus on family development. That will be used to help and assist families, particularly children placed in homes outside of their families, and in some instances, to support children within the context and constellation of their own families.
J. Kwan: I would suggest that in the context of children in care, clearly the goal is to prevent any death at all. Certainly, that is the goal. Sometimes that doesn't
[ Page 2658 ]
happen. Sometimes tragedies do occur — whether by mistake or simply due to the difficult nature of having to deal with those circumstances. Those incidents occur. That's not to necessarily say that that is a fault of staff. I don't think the previous government was blaming staff, necessarily, when tragedies did occur, but I would continue to submit that the goal ought to be to prevent deaths, particularly those kinds of tragedies — whether they be children or otherwise. I would think that's a goal that everybody wants to move towards. That's the target of achievement, if you will.
On the question around supports to children who are in the custody of relatives, the minister advised there is a $10 million program for Children and Family Development. I would assume that's for all individuals, whether you are the parent or you are a relative who is seeking to take care of the child. If that's correct, could the minister also advise: is there any screening process in place for relatives who are seeking to provide care for children?
Hon. G. Hogg: Just a point of clarification: the program which the member referenced, child in the home of a relative, is a program that exists within the Ministry of Human Resources. There has been some discussion in the past about the issue of whether or not there is an assessment done. There is not an assessment which takes place when those children are placed in the home of a relative.
Hon. G. Hogg: The Human Resources program allows for assisted support. There is not a formal home study done in those instances. The Human Resources staff, I believe, have been trained in looking at those cases, and if there are issues, then they will report that.
Within the context of this ministry, with the kith-and-kin placements and extended family placements, there are restricted homes they're placed in with relatives, and there is a review that takes place in that type of placement as well as with kith and kin. There are reviews that look at the appropriateness of the placement for those children.
J. Kwan: I appreciate that some of these questions actually cross over with the Ministry of Human Resources, but I'm centring my questions around care for the child and the associated supports and monitoring that need to be in place in relation to that. I'm looking at it from the more child-centred point of view, which is why I'm bringing the questions here to this ministry.
I did engage in some discussions with the Minister of Human Resources around this issue and particularly with their change to income assistance, eligibility support, for relatives who are caring for children of other relatives in the system. The change, of course, is that now the family or the individual who has custody of the child would no longer be able to gain access to income assistance for that child. There's a change in the policy with Human Resources.
From that perspective, I'm wondering whether there is going to be monitoring of increases of the caseload for the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The Minister of Human Resources advised that the monitoring would be done by this ministry as opposed to the Ministry of Human Resources. Could the minister please confirm if this ministry will be doing the monitoring of the potential caseload increases because it has changed in Human Resources?
Hon. G. Hogg: Yes. We will be looking at any types of shifts and changes to the caseloads. We recognize that and have been quite open and public about looking at what's happened in other provinces and other jurisdictions when there have been structural changes that have happened that implicate other ministries. We have been meeting with the Ministry of Human Resources and the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services to look at those overlaps, issues and concerns.
One of my concerns has been that when Alberta looked at a fundamental restructuring, there was about a 78 percent increase in the number of children that came into care. In Ontario when they looked at a restructuring, the number of children who came into care increased over 50 percent. There have been similar examples in each of the provinces that have looked at it.
We're very cognizant of that, and that's partly why we've looked at and addressed a different approach to working with and managing the issues. We will be closely monitoring any increases and shifts that occur, and we'll adjust accordingly.
[W. McMahon in the chair.]
J. Kwan: Could the minister provide the opposition the information around the monitoring of the shifts when it becomes available? I'd be very interested in seeing whether or not there's an impact because of the changes to the Human Resources side in shifting children in care and basically off-loading that responsibility and increasing the costs to the ministry as a result. Maybe it won't happen, and that would be good news as well. I'd be interested in receiving the information when it becomes available, if the minister can also make it available to the opposition.
Hon. G. Hogg: The member is specifically asking for those that are for the children in the home of a relative program with Human Resources and the impacts they may have in the near future around that. I'll ask staff to monitor that and provide you with the information as it becomes available.
J. Kwan: Thank you, minister. I would appreciate that.
Could the minister please advise if there are any programs or measures in place to help social workers
[ Page 2659 ]
address issues of pressures as they work to keep caseload numbers down?
Hon. G. Hogg: Firstly, with respect to the actual numbers associated with line staff working with these issues, the assistant deputy ministers have the authority to use the workload management plan to look at and manage those. If they need to bring more staff members on to assist and support that, they have the authority to do so in terms of the staffing models.
Secondly, with respect to the kind of philosophical shifts we've been making, we've been doing that in conjunction with the staff. We've been meeting with them around the province, and there are more resources available to them as we've shifted our resources into family development. Actually, there will be more authority for social workers to make decisions around the types of supports they feel families need within the context of the community.
The whole process is one of building community capacity and looking at how we increase the capacity and ability for communities to manage and work with the decisions that are made with them. The works of people like John McKnight, who is a well-known international social worker and has written actively in this field, talk about how we build capacity, how we build those supports and how we work with staff to do that.
We have been meeting with them to talk about those and providing supports to assist them in doing that. We've also appointed a transformation committee, which has members of our staff as well as members of the non-profit sector and for-profit sector working together in the social services field. They are looking at ways they can increase and build capacity and provide support and assistance to one another within that modelling.
It's an issue of culture. How do we ensure there is support within the culture so that people feel comforted and supported in the initiatives they're taking? That's particularly in this time of uncertainty that exists as we're moving into new and different budgeting models, where over the period of three years or four years, we're looking at a 23 percent reduction in the funding to this ministry.
That's why, within the context of this year, we actually have $6 million more in this ministry than we had last year, so we're able to build the parallel structures. We'll be able to provide the supports to be able to assist as we move to this new model and to ensure we don't have as dramatic an impact as it might otherwise have on the service deliveries.
We're reshifting, refocusing and reorienting. We're keeping staff apprised and involved as we move through it. We're keeping them involved not just within the context of the bureaucracy and the ministry, but also within the context of the communities in which those services are provided.
J. Kwan: With the information the minister's going to be providing to the opposition caucus around the average caseload, could he also provide information around what is the optimal caseload per caseworker?
Hon. G. Hogg: The member may be aware that there was a committee. I believe it was in 1998 that representatives of the BCGEU, the B.C. Association of Social Workers and the government worked on developing the caseload management plan. We can certainly provide the member with copies of that assessment model that looked at how long it took for an investigation, how long it took for each part of the components, and therefore built up what an optimum caseload might be for various different forms of social work that exist.
We have that, and I'm sure can provide a copy of that to the member.
[K. Manhas in the chair.]
J. Kwan: Thank you, hon. Chair. We're playing musical chairs.
I would appreciate that. Then I am assuming from the minister's answer that the minister accepts the number in the report as the optimal caseload for social workers.
Hon. G. Hogg: To the member's specific question around that model, the Child Welfare League of Canada has another model. There are a number of models that exist in terms of optimal workload and the application of that. Most of them do not take into consideration a number of the geographic nuances which are particular and unique to a province as diverse as British Columbia.
We certainly use that as the guideline to be balancing them, and we're able to look at the nuances. It provides a guideline or a baseline from which one can go up or down, based on the nuances and interests of an area.
J. Kwan: Yes. That's what I'm trying to get at.
[The division bells were rung.]
The Chair: I call the committee to recess for five minutes for a division in the big House.
The committee recessed from 10:43 a.m. to 10:52 a.m.
[K. Manhas in the chair.]
J. Kwan: I think before we went into the big House for the vote, the question I was asking the minister was around caseloads for social workers and the optimal number. The minister was advising that there are different models that exist. Am I right in assuming, then, that the report that was done back in 1998…? That is the model which the minister accepts, and the caseload numbers that have been identified from that report
[ Page 2660 ]
would be the optimal guideline that the minister will be using to guide the work of the new government.
Hon. G. Hogg: That's correct.
J. Kwan: Good. Now we're back on track. What supports, then, will be available to youth transitioning to adulthood? What supports and protective services will youth between the ages of 16 and 19 have? Will they also have access to foster care?
Hon. G. Hogg: Children, if they're in care, will maintain those services they had prior to reaching the age of 16 and moving on to the age of majority. There will be no change in terms of those services unless the circumstances of the child should change. Children will still be able to come into care within that age group, and we'll be able to provide services to them.
The independent living program will still be in existence for children in that age group. I think the last time I saw independent living numbers, there were about 400 youths in the province who were in independent living circumstances and situations. Youth agreements can also be used for some youth who are not in care who may need to be provided with some assistance and support. Also, there will be the family supports that will exist to try to assist and support.
We made reference last night, as well, to post-majority services and the fact that we've put in place $2 million to assist in educational opportunities for children who have reached the age of majority, who have been children in care and who are moving on and wanting to advance their education. There will be scholarships available for them as well.
J. Kwan: Access to foster care. That would also exist for children between 16 and 19?
Hon. G. Hogg: Yes.
J. Kwan: On March 14, 2002, the member for Vancouver-Langara stood up to present a copy of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In that convention, of which Canada is a signatory nation, the rights of children and the responsibilities of the state are outlined. Is the minister familiar with that document?
Hon. G. Hogg: I have read it, but if familiarity means you're going to give me an exam on it, I'm not sure that I'm conversant enough with it to be able to successfully respond to an exam.
In other roles I've played in this province, I've actually used that document as a format and structure within which we've developed policy of practice frameworks for the operation of organizations with youth. I believe it is a good and sound foundation for the provision of services to youth within this province and certainly within this country.
J. Kwan: No, it is not my intent to give the minister an exam on the U.N. convention, but rather the principles which the convention outlines. I'm wondering whether or not the minister would be prepared to ensure that British Columbia's children have the rights that have been outlined under the U.N. convention?
Hon. G. Hogg: The principles are principles which the province abides by, with Canada as a signatory. I understand that we respond to the United Nations about once every five years with an evaluation to look at how we as a province are performing consistent with that bill. There are areas that the province has not been in full compliance with. That has been the case, I assume, since the bill was passed. We are consistently working at and looking at those areas in efforts to improve our performance consistent with the expectations of the bill.
J. Kwan: Let me just put on the record some of the rights that have been listed by the member for Vancouver-Langara. They are: the right to a name and nationality; the right to affection, love and understanding and to material security; the right to adequate nutrition, housing and medial services; the right to special care if disabled, be it physically, mentally or socially; the right to be among the first to receive protection and relief in all circumstances; the right to be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation; the right to full opportunity for play and recreation and equal opportunity in all of life's activities; the right to develop one's full potential in conditions of freedom and dignity.
These are the specific rights I'm talking about that were highlighted very eloquently by the member for Vancouver-Langara. Could the minister please advise: are these rights that have been listed something that B.C. would adhere to in terms of protecting the rights of children in British Columbia?
Hon. G. Hogg: Yes, they are.
J. Kwan: I'm going to move to an area of family support services in terms of questions. Linda Korbin, the executive director of the B.C. Association of Social Workers, warned that providing home support services will be crucial in helping families stay together. What types of home support services will be provided to families?
Hon. G. Hogg: I had the opportunity, I believe it was last week, to participate in a conference call with Linda Korbin and with the B.C. Association of Social Workers to look at and talk about a number of the initiatives that we as a ministry are taking, the principles that we're employing and the direction we're going. The conference call that we had is something that we hope to utilize on an ongoing basis to look at and to review those issues. I think, as I said earlier, the test will be the types of services that are available in terms
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of keeping and supporting families within the context of their own constellation.
Those include such things as homemaker programs, assistance and service and respite. It may well be anger management programs, parenting programs and support of those types — child care support. In many ways we're talking about wrap-around services that are able to respond to the particular nuances and needs that a family may have that may be different. We want to be able to provide those resources and those types of supports that exist within communities — but that they respond to the specific needs of a family. It's an assessment that is done of family needs and then services put in place to respond to what is identified through the assessment process.
J. Kwan: How much money is budgeted for these services?
Hon. G. Hogg: The overall budget for general supports for families is about $110 million.
J. Kwan: I assume from the minister, then, that within the $110 million there is a series of breakdowns in terms of specific programs. Could the minister provide the breakdown within the $110 million?
Hon. G. Hogg: We haven't broken those all down into specific categories, because we wanted to give the flexibility to social workers to be able to make judgments around the needs of various families as they go. We have a menu of some of the areas without specific numbers attached to those — again, flexibility being the key. If the issues that evidence themselves requiring some type of services within particular families all happen to be anger management through one course of time, we want to be able to shift our resources to work with anger management — or with parenting or with respite.
[G. Trumper in the chair.]
They are such things as parent self-help groups, family enhancement worker programs, family preservation programs, one-to-one child and youth care worker programs, homemaker support, respite care. Those are the range and types, but social workers will be able to access those out of a more generic pool of money rather than having to say: "Here's the specific amount that's pigeon-holed for each category of service."
[The division bells were rung.]
The Chair: We will recess for ten minutes.
The committee recessed from 11:05 a.m. to 11:14 a.m.
[G. Trumper in the chair.]
J. Kwan: Can I assume the list the minister read out earlier to the House is a comprehensive list of what the $110 million provides for in terms of programming? If the list is not a comprehensive list, maybe the minister can share a copy of that information with the opposition.
In the area of home support more specifically, Richard Sullivan from UBC said that there would be a $50 million reduction to family support services. Could the minister please confirm whether this is accurate?
Hon. G. Hogg: First, with respect to the list which I read into the record, that is not an exhaustive list. Again, as in our discussion previously, there is the flexibility for social workers to develop resources as they may be required, to have individualized funding models that may exist and may be of appropriate need for a given family. We're happy to provide you with that list which I read in, if I could ask staff to make a list of that.
Also, with respect to the numbers, I'm being corrected that the actual number, including the $10 million increase, is $101.77 million. Richard Sullivan's statement that there was a $30 million reduction to the general family supports within the context of family development is in error, if that's what he did say. That figure does represent a $10 million increase over the amount that was in that budget code last year.
J. Kwan: That's for this year's budget. For the next two years, because it's a three-year plan we're talking about….
Hon. G. Hogg: The figure remains at $101 million throughout the full course of the three years. Again, that reflects our desire to be able to provide the supports for families within that context. That number remains relatively consistent throughout.
J. Kwan: Then there is no reduction to family support services in terms of funding. Mr. Sullivan is incorrect with any suggestions of any reduction in that funding area.
Hon. G. Hogg: That's correct. In fact, as I pointed out, there is a $10 million increase over last year's budget in that area.
J. Kwan: Could the minister please advise, then, what areas within the ministry's budget are faced with funding cuts?
Hon. G. Hogg: The overall percentage is 23 percent. I can give you the percentage breakdown within each of the major program categories, if that's of assistance. Then, if the member wishes to go further into that….
In terms of corporate services, which are basically the headquarters office and support, it's a 41 percent reduction. In the adult community living sector it's a 17 percent reduction. In child protection and family development it is a 30 percent reduction. In youth justice and child and youth mental health services it's a 22
[ Page 2662 ]
percent reduction. In early childhood development and special needs children it's an 11 percent reduction. In regional and program management it is 41 percent. That totals, as you break those numbers out across the full sector, 23 percent.
J. Kwan: I assume this is for this year's budget, and it's over three years.
Hon. G. Hogg: Those are target figures for the year 2004-05.
J. Kwan: Does the minister have different numbers for this year's budget and next year's budget and then arriving at '04-05? Could he attach the dollar figures to it as well?
Hon. G. Hogg: It is in the service plan, in the information that was circulated. In the summary expenditure plan on page 20, it outlines the specific numbers we've just referenced. It does not have in it those percentages I just read into the record, but the member will be able to find the breakdown on that page — page 20 of the service plan. Do you wish me to read the numbers in as well?
J. Kwan: My service plan on page 20 actually doesn't show that. It's something else. It's consistency with government priorities. Maybe the minister can just provide me a copy of that, because my information seems to be different.
Hon. G. Hogg: Oh, page 16, is it?
J. Kwan: Actually, it is on page 16. I've just found it with the minister's guidance. Thank you.
The minister talked earlier about discretion that is afforded to social workers. Could he please advise in what areas social workers would be able to exercise discretion in terms of funding support to families and children in need?
Hon. G. Hogg: The discretion as a social worker, clearly, is in terms of making their assessment and judgment with respect to the services that should be accessed by the child or the family in question. Part of the process we're moving through in our service plan over the course of the next three years is actually getting to the point where we have individualized funding in place so we can actually make decisions for wraparound services or services that respond directly to the specific needs of that individual.
While we currently have across the province a number of resources we place clients and children and families into or provide for the support of the family, we want to move to be able to get to more individualized funding. There, we can actually make some decisions around the provision of services that are consistently designed to support the specific needs of a given family, rather than a family having to fit into some resources that are already in existence.
Social workers are responsible now for making those placement decisions and in the future will move to being able to design and develop the types of programs to respond to individual needs.
J. Kwan: The reason why I asked that question is that oftentimes people would not know what services to ask for if they don't think the services are available. Given that there would be discretion within the system with the assessment of what the needs are and what provisions government would be providing, it would be helpful for families and individuals to know what latitude of discretion there is in what areas. They would know that when they have the need, they could actually ask for it.
In my own experience as an advocate, that is often the problem — the lack of information and, therefore, the denial of rights for individuals. That's why I'm interested in understanding what this discretion is and what latitude exists, so people can indeed understand they could ask for this kind of support from government through their social worker.
Hon. G. Hogg: As we've seen in the evolution of free and democratic societies, we've seen a dramatic shift in terms of the empowerment that happens with the recipients of services. We've certainly seen it in health care as patients within health care have been more aware of the services that are available. They are feeling more empowered. Rather than just seeing the doctor as the expert who tells you this is what you do, they actually come in with ideas.
The same model is moving into the whole field of social services and, clearly, into the Ministry of Children and Family Development as well, where our staff are not seen as the experts out there that you come to, to provide the service, but actually become guides to help, assist and support the clients as they're coming to look at their issues.
We need to move from that mentality of expertise — that somehow we're the guardians of expertise who are going to apply that — to the position of we are the guides who will have access to the information and knowledge about the services. Rather than a diagnosis and here's where you're going, it's more of an interactive process which involves the clients and the children in terms of making decisions that give them more empowerment, control and authority over the services.
I think we have to make that shift. It's a shift that's happening societally, and it's an important shift that gives more empowerment, say, and control over services and resources to the people who are the recipients of those. Those are, I think, important shifts. Part of the process is ensuring that our staff, as we're transitioning our staff into working more and being both the co-location and set up and functioning within communities, have the ability to convey that type of information and to play that role rather than to be playing the
[ Page 2663 ]
expert and saying: "Here's exactly what you need and what should be applied."
J. Kwan: That's not the implication of my question, for staff to say to family members or individuals or children: "Here's exactly what you need." Rather, if you have a particular need, would that person be able to access that support or funding from government to meet that need. Given there is a wide latitude of discretion, what are the parameters we are looking at where a person would be able to go and ask for such support from government? That's what I'm trying to get clarity on, not to say that somehow, somewhere within the ministry, these are all of the experts who know all the needs of a particular family. That is not what I'm trying to imply at all, but rather to say, on the flip side, how will families know what they could ask for? Is it just on a case-by-case basis? You just have to show up, deal with the social worker and ask for that need? If you're denied that need, then you know that you don't have access to it?
I assume there is something perhaps broader than that to provide for guidelines for people so they have a better understanding of it. As I said, in my own experience as an advocate in the community, often the case is that people don't even think they can ask for such a need. They don't identify it. It's through much discussion that you start to paint a different picture, and you think: "You know, I think you can get access to government support in this area, and here's how you might be able to go about it."
It's that general information, I think, that is particularly important and helpful for families and children who may be seeking support from government.
Hon. G. Hogg: I certainly appreciate the context of that question. When I became the minister and received briefing books, there were at least 100 programs the ministry provided, depending upon how you wanted to cut it. It could be as high as 400 or 500 programs depending, again, on how one wants to slice it. It's very complex and difficult to understand the various services the ministry does provide. We're working on it. One of the things I've asked the ministry to work on is trying to simplify that into perhaps five major groupings that allow it to be better understood. I think if many of us can't understand all of the programs that are there, imagine how difficult it is for clients who are coming for services.
There are a range of those which currently exist on the website. They're available there, and certainly staff can pull those off for clients to look at and to work with. We are developing a framework which will be much more user-friendly in terms of being able to look at finding an access point and being able to track through the types and models of services available. Hopefully, that will make the system a little more user-friendly.
J. Kwan: Is it safe to assume that the rights I had mentioned earlier, which were brought to the House by the member for Vancouver-Langara, the assistance from government…? To make sure that those rights are afforded to individuals in British Columbia, if you can identify and show that the program or support you need from government is to support these principles of rights, then it's safe to assume that's fair game for people to ask for support from social workers?
Hon. G. Hogg: Our staff employ a best-practices procedure, employing the principles and evidence-based research that would suggest what the best programs are and how to best provide those programs. The principles by which those programs are driven are principles that come out of the bill which the member is referencing. Those principles are the guidelines that dictate those.
We also have funding envelopes that we have to address and provide those services within. So within those principles and those parameters, those are the services that we provide, and we try to provide them as effectively and efficiently as we can.
J. Kwan: Those are specific funding programs that have been identified. Outside of that, the minister earlier mentioned the issue of discretion. What I'm trying to get at is: in the area of discretion the parameters will then vary and not necessarily within the guidelines of the ministry. As long as that discretion is made within the principles the government has adopted — and that is the UN convention principles related to rights of children — then one could make a case to the social worker for support from government, recognizing the latitude of discretion that is afforded to social workers.
Hon. G. Hogg: I think, broadly, the answer to that is yes. The caveats are, of course, the issues of best practices, evidence-based research to support that and the funding envelope which we referenced earlier.
J. Kwan: I'm having difficulty in connecting the level of discretion that's afforded to social workers for them to devise plans on a case-by-case basis to meet the needs of the family versus the parameters that would be given to them from government with respect to that.
It would seem to me that the level of discretion has been significantly minimized. The discretion only rests insofar as to what government programs are now in existence and nothing beyond. That wasn't what I heard from the minister. I heard that it was broader than that. Maybe the minister can clarify.
Hon. G. Hogg: I think that the system has been very prescriptive up to this point in time. Part of our service plan over the course of the next three years is to be able to evolve and move towards what I alluded to, which is giving much more discretion to the social workers to be able to make those decisions.
Currently, the system we have is very prescriptive and is one where social workers make judgments
[ Page 2664 ]
amongst a number of programs that are available within the community. About two-thirds of the funding for this ministry goes towards contracts — some 15,000 contracts — for the provision of services within the community. We're wanting to move that to give more flexibility with that.
The social workers always employ their best case-management practices in terms of making those decisions. We want to give them more flexibility in terms of the programs so that they can start adjusting those. That's part of the focus of the service plan. Part of our goal strategy over the course of the next three years is to get there.
We're going from a fairly prescriptive, directive ministry that has a lot of programs that are out there that you have to fit the clients into, to moving down to giving social workers more flexibility, freeing up some of those dollars so that social workers will be able to adjust, develop and have programs that are the wraparound type of programs that focus on the specific needs of an individual and/or family.
J. Kwan: Maybe the issue, then, is that the areas of discretion to which social workers could exercise their judgement on are not yet in place in terms of providing assistance to families and children for individual plans.
I understand that the minister is suggesting that the government wants to move in the direction of discretion, but I've not yet been able to get an answer from the minister on what areas of discretion would exist, more clearly than that there is discretion and we want to move in that direction.
Is it the case that because we haven't arrived at that space yet, therefore there aren't really concrete examples of what discretion could be and what areas it would involve? What I'm trying to get at is this: given that there is discretion, what are the areas of discretion and to what magnitude? How may one learn about that, so that when they have those needs, they can go to the office and meet with their social worker and ask for support in those areas? I just want something more clear so that people will understand that.
Hon. G. Hogg: The process is quite prescriptive now. We're moving to giving greater flexibility. I'm struggling for a specific example which might help the member to understand that.
In some of the very rural areas of the province where some needs exist and the services don't exist currently, somebody might have to go a long way to access the service, to fit into a program. Our hope is that there will be resources available to that social worker to actually develop, perhaps, not a program but the individualized contact that may be able to exist and support that person within that more isolated community.
In a more urban area there may be a range of programs available that they may be able to access. The social worker is again the guide that helps support them to find those. However, there may not be a program that specifically meets the needs of a particular individual. Often we're aware of having to fit children and families into a program that may not exactly meet their specific needs. It's a more generic program. We need to have the flexibility to be able to create a program that meets their needs more specifically.
That's the type of flexibility we're talking about. We're talking about using good case management practices, principles and assessment to make judgments around what the needs are. Right now, if there's a disconnect between that assessment and the programs available, then you try to fit them together in whatever way you can. We need to be able to give greater flexibility so that if there is a disconnect, there is some way of creating individualized models that start to do that.
Some jurisdictions in the world are actually doing that with some degree of success. In some areas those are called wraparound services; in some cases they're called individualized funding models. There are different ways of defining and looking at that. That's the type of flexibility we need to give to our social workers so that they can broaden their utilization of good case management practices.
J. Kwan: Well, I guess we'll just have to monitor the situation out there. In theory, the minister suggests, there would be greater flexibility and discretion for the social workers. How that will work out on an individual basis and how one would get their needs met…. I'm still not sure how those could be met. I'll have to watch, when this discretion is afforded more broadly, and see what the impacts are in the broader community. I'll monitor that.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development will be restructuring the salary for foster parents with levels 2 and 3 homes. As I understand, this will affect approximately 650 of the 1,769 levels 2 and 3 foster parents. The B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations agreed that inconsistencies needed to be addressed. Yet they were concerned that the minister has done the opposite of what they advocated for, which was a raise in payments to iron out the inconsistencies, not a drop in the payments.
Why is the Ministry of Children and Family Development moving in this direction, when the foster parents and their association are not supportive of this change?
Hon. G. Hogg: I believe it was in 1992, in meetings with the B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations, that the government developed a system of foster care, a payment schedule and policies around how those were made. At the level 2 that the member makes reference to, there was a base service plan that was given when a first child came into a home. That was a recognition of the infrastructure that was there and necessary to support a child.
If a second child came in, the infrastructure needs were already met, so there was supposed to be a reduction in the amount of service, and with a third child,
[ Page 2665 ]
the same thing. There would be a reduction in the core part but the actual provision of program services would remain the same because there was a recognition that those were the same with each child. That was the policy that was developed, and I think it's a good policy. It's recognized across Canada as perhaps one of the very best policies to provide those types of services.
We don't provide them with a salary; it's a service support to that. The last government increased the payment schedule about a year ago by 10 percent. Our foster parents in British Columbia are amongst the best remunerated in Canada for the services they provide.
There were inequities because at some point, in some parts of the province, some social workers were not following the policy. We had it inequitably applied across the province. All we've done is to go back and say: "Let's apply the agreement that the last government put in place. Let's apply the policy that the government put in place and make sure that it's consistent." It's not consistent, and in many ways it's therefore not fair to some foster parents. In many places — the majority — around the province they are consistent with the policy; in some places they haven't been. We've said that this is not fair. Foster parents have been saying to me that there are inequities. We need to have consistency. We are actually going through the course of trying to develop that consistency. It's something that will be completed, we hope, by June. It's a gradual process as we go through that, looking at contracts which are in existence.
It's moving exactly to the policy that was developed in 1992, and the foster-care training, support and remuneration program is seen across Canada — again, I'm sure the member's aware — as one of the very best in Canada and is looked at in many areas as the model to work with. We are continuing to apply it consistently and appropriately across the province.
The Chair: At this time the House is waiting to adjourn. I would ask that if everyone's in agreement with that, maybe the minister could make a motion to rise and report progress, and we could adjourn until next sitting.
Hon. G. Hogg: I move the committee rise, report progress and seek leave to sit again.
The committee rose at 11:43 a.m.
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