2011 Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
official report of
Debates of the Legislative Assembly
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Volume 27, Number 11
Introductions by Members
Natural gas vehicle showcase
Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, service plan, 2012-2013 to 2014-2015
Elections B.C., Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 2011 HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) Referendum
Introduction and First Reading of Bills
Bill Pr401 — Gospel Riders Motorcycle Ministries (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2011
Statements (Standing Order 25B)
Alliance for Arts and Culture
S. Chandra Herbert
Physician supply and foreign-trained physicians
Local purchasing in Creston Valley
Business climate in Kelowna
Government support for agriculture
Osoyoos Indian band business park project
Comments by Social Development Minister and community living services review
Hon. S. Cadieux
Jumbo Glacier resort proposal
Hon. S. Thomson
Auditor General Access to information in B.C. Rail court case
Hon. S. Bond
Access to DriveABLE program
Hon. S. Bond
Impact of employment program restructuring on vulnerable persons
Hon. S. Cadieux
Reports from Committees
Special Committee to Appoint a Representative for Children and Youth
Motions Without Notice
Appointment of Representative for Children and Youth
Reports from Committees
Special Committee of Selection
Hon. R. Coleman
Orders of the Day
Committee of the Whole House
Bill 13 — Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act
Hon. S. Bond
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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2011
The House met at 1:34 p.m.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
Introductions by Members
Hon. G. Abbott: In the gallery today are two very distinguished British Columbians, Ron and May Lou-Poy. I think members of the House will recall Ron as the chancellor of the University of Victoria, and he remains today chancellor emeritus at the University of Victoria. I'd like to ask the House to make Ron and May very welcome.
A. Dix: We have a delegation from the East Kootenays today, from the Ktunaxa First Nation, who are here joining us in the Legislature: Kathryn Teneese, the Nation chair; Cheryl Casimer, Chief of the Aq'am; Troy Sebastian, the special projects coordinator for the Ktunaxa Nation Council; Dan Gravelle, a councillor of Tobacco Plains; Garry Slonowski, a communications manager with the Ktunaxa Nation Council; Denny Clement and Michele Sam, who are members of the Ktunaxa Nation.
They're joined today in the House by someone that all members will know: Scott Niedermayer, who is the only hockey player to win every North American and international championship in his career. He has won the Memorial Cup, the world junior championship and, of course, four Stanley Cups, the world championship gold, two Olympic gold medals, including serving as our captain, and the world cup.
Scott and the delegation are here to express their opposition to the Jumbo Glacier project. I think we were all impressed today by the respectful and thoughtful way in which they did that, and I wish everyone in the House will bid them welcome.
C. Hansen: Joining us in the gallery this afternoon is the Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. Accompanying Ms. Turpel-Lafond are her three daughters — Isobel, Portia and Ali — and her sister Maureen Turpel. In addition, three staff from the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth are joining us. They are John Greschner, Jeremy Berland and Marg LeGuilloux.
Would the House please make all these special guests very welcome.
M. Farnworth: In the gallery today visiting us is Bronwyn Barter, president of the paramedics union, and I'm really pleased that she's here. She's accompanied by Sherman Hillier, vice-president of the paramedics, and Kevin Lambert, a critical care paramedic. Would the House please make them most welcome.
D. Routley: I rise to share with the House the sombre news of the passing of a former member of this House. Barbara Wallace was the MLA for the former Cowichan-Malahat constituency from 1975 to 1986. This past weekend she passed at the age of 93.
Barbara was a constituent of mine. She leaves behind her son Greg, her daughter Judy and her granddaughter Jessica, her grandson Jordan and a great-grandson, Ezra. Barbara Wallace was not only a pillar in this Legislature and in her community but also a great role model for young women in our province and a model for all of us of what it means to be a good public servant in the highest fashion.
I'd like the House to help me extend condolences to her family and would ask the Speaker to extend condolences on behalf of the Legislature.
NATURAL GAS VEHICLE SHOWCASE
B. Penner: I'd just like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to all members of the assembly and staff in the buildings to join us tomorrow on the steps just outside the Legislature for a natural gas vehicle showcase, which is being held in coordination with the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region.
Actually, I correct myself. I believe that's being held on Thursday, but I want to give members enough time to mark their calendars and make sure they can free up the time to come. Save the date, and come see how practical solutions are being put in place today to result in better air quality and more cost-effective fuel using a made-in-B.C. fuel with made-in-B.C. technologies, putting solutions on the road in British Columbia.
So come join us just after noon on Thursday, and we'll hope for good weather.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, I have the honour to present the following: the 2012-2013 to 2014-2015 service plan of the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth and the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 2011 HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) Referendum.
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First Reading of Bills
Bill Pr401 — Gospel Riders
(Corporate Restoration) Act, 2011
D. Thorne presented a bill intituled Gospel Riders Motorcycle Ministries (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2011.
D. Thorne: I move that a bill intituled Gospel Riders Motorcycle Ministries (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2011, of which notice has been given on the order paper, be introduced and now read a first time.
D. Thorne: This society was incorporated in 1989 to conduct Christian evangelism and ministry amongst those in the motorcycle community. It was registered as a charity in October 1989. By oversight, the officers of the society ceased to file the necessary annual reports to the B.C. corporate registry, and as a result, the society was struck from the registry.
The society did not become aware of this for several years and now proposes to apply for restoration. Because more than ten years has elapsed since the society was struck, the only avenue for restoration is by way of a private bill. The president of the society, Dan Harder, lives in my riding. The society is in good standing with the Canada Revenue Agency as a registered charity.
I move that the bill be referred to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills.
Bill Pr401, Gospel Riders Motorcycle Ministries (Corporate Restoration) Act, 2011, introduced, read a first time and referred to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills.
(Standing Order 25B)
ALLIANCE FOR ARTS AND CULTURE
S. Chandra Herbert: Well, it was 1986. Expo was on the horizon, and Vancouver's arts and cultural community wanted to figure out how they fit in. What could they do to ensure B.C. culture was celebrated in the midst of a world's fair? Arts provocateurs and pioneering leaders that I know well, Chris Tyrell and Donna Spencer, who may be a relation of mine, brought together the theatre alliance, the music industry, dancers, museums, heritage businesses, visual artists and audience members, and found out they had far more in common than they anticipated.
They had incredible artists, wonderful stories to tell, great audiences and a rough road to hoe in terms of investments in arts. Indeed, much of what they probably talked about then, we're still talking about today. They also had a passion for the arts, for creativity and the belief that sometimes the best things we accomplish can only be done together. They knew that if we were to succeed as a province and a community, the arts have to play a major role.
Out of this sprang the Alliance for Arts and Culture. Early projects included the arts hotline, a pre-Internet information line which gave Vancouverites access to what was hot on in town and a free ticketing program for low-income British Columbians.
As they've grown, they've brought together organizations to teach artists how to run their own businesses, developed the Artists Legal Outreach program, the Tickets Tonight, which Tourism Vancouver now runs, and many more contributions to our community.
All the way through, they've been guided by a vision of arts working in collaboration with community. It also means being strong advocates for the arts. While we have the most artists per capita in B.C., we also have the lowest level of funding per capita in B.C., which has been made more difficult in recent years. The alliance continues to speak out and work with partners all across this province to call for change and to call for a steady increase in investments in arts to improve our province's economy and to improve our communities.
The Alliance for Arts turns 25 this year, and I think a fitting birthday gift would be for us all to heed the call to invest in arts and creativity.
PHYSICIAN SUPPLY AND
M. Stilwell: The sustainability of health care is a concern we all share. B.C.'s population is growing, and we have an increasing number of seniors. Key to sustainable health care in B.C. is a sufficient supply of well-trained health professionals. While we now have 288 seats in the medical school, this still falls short of meeting our need for a future supply of physicians.
We have other B.C. physicians, like the more than 500 B.C. women and men who are studying medicine all over the world, including in English-speaking countries like Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K., and 60 to 80 of these B.C. medical students studying abroad graduate every year, ready to move on to a residency so they can be licensed and serve in B.C.
These medical students are Canadian citizens, residents of B.C. and an unused resource for our health care system. They want to complete their medical training by accessing a residency in B.C. Many of these young medical
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graduates want to establish a career here and want to practise in their home communities all over B.C., like Dr. C., born on the First Nations reserve of Bella Bella and raised by her parents who worked as hand loggers out of Bella Coola. Graduating from medical school in Ireland and placing at the top of the Canadian evaluating exam, she wants to come home, but sadly says that this does not appear to be a viable option.
There's a need to find a process to help these people achieve their dream of being a physician in B.C. Now is the time to find that pathway and bring these medical students and doctors home, like Dr. E., who received a degree in music from UVic, then found that in the year she received her MD in New Zealand and placing in the top 5 percent on the Canadian exams, she was not allowed to apply for medical residency.
We need to make it possible for these able, ready and willing medical graduates to get the residency they need in order to be licensed here in B.C. Other provinces are finding ways to achieve this, and we hope to too. With the shared commitment to a partnership approach to keep our high standards, we can bring this valuable resource home and keep our health care system viable for the years to come.
LOCAL PURCHASING IN CRESTON VALLEY
M. Mungall: One day while in Creston I stopped by Cresteramics, the storefront of a local organization that provides employment and volunteer opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities.
As I toured the beautiful array of ceramic ornaments alongside locally made jewellery, I bumped into a little garden gnome. Cresto was his name. He told me how much he loved to shop in the Creston Valley. "Buying local," said Cresto, "supports our community."
When we spend our money locally, we ensure that our neighbours have jobs and that our local economies thrive. Sure, it may cost a little more to get garlic down the road than from China, but for a few cents extra, we know the soil, the farmer, the water and all that went into that Creston Valley bulb. In the long run, Mr. Speaker, the benefits of buying local are worth every penny.
As a hundred-mile dieter, I was impressed by Cresto's commitment to buying local in his valley. So Cresto and I left Cresteramics together, determined to spread the word for buying local this holiday season. Along with making a wonderful holiday feast with all of the trimmings from the Creston Valley, gifts for under the tree can also be found locally.
Now, while Cresto does have a special place in his heart for Cresteramics, he adds that they are not alone when it comes to local artistry. After touring downtown Creston, head up to Kootenay Lake to find plenty of world-renowned artisans in Crawford Bay. In fact, the Kootenays are full of excellent shops, farmers markets and craft fairs this holiday season, all displaying locally made wares.
Follow Cresto as he journeys through the Creston Valley, enthusiastic about sharing his travels. You will find him on Twitter, posting to the hashtag #CrestonBC, which feeds on to the Creston Valley Advance website. If you're not on Twitter, check him out on Facebook with his full name, Cresto Gnome.
This holiday season, join Cresto and me as we buy local. Your dinner table, your gifts and your community will be the better for it.
BUSINESS CLIMATE IN KELOWNA
N. Letnick: Long before moving to the Kelowna region I've always known the people and the splendour of Kelowna–Lake Country and what they had to offer. It was a special place. Just recently the Canadian Federation of Independent Business added to its accolades by selecting Kelowna as the most business-friendly city in British Columbia.
The report looked at 100 Canadian cities and towns and compared them on several different factors, including concentration of entrepreneurs, business startup rate and the general optimism and success of business owners. It's great to see the province's investment in the Okanagan and Kelowna's responsible fiscal policies getting some well-deserved recognition.
Each part of this province is known for something special. For example, in the Boundary-Similkameen there's incredible skiing at Big White. Esquimalt–Royal Roads is the proud home to the Royal Canadian Pacific Fleet. Peace River North is home to some of our most valuable natural resources. Here in Victoria–Beacon Hill the locals boast justifiably about the world-famous tourist attractions. The Okanagan has long been known for friendly people, natural beauty and recreational opportunities, and now it's the best place for business in British Columbia. But it doesn't end there.
Export Development Canada reported today that it projects that B.C. will lead the country in export growth next year by 14 percent, double the national average. Add to this McKinsey and Company naming Canada the top entrepreneurial hotbed of all G20 countries, and I am sure all members of this House must draw the same conclusion that I have: that if Kelowna is the best city in the best province in the best country in the world to do business, that must mean Kelowna–Lake Country is the best place in the world.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR AGRICULTURE
B. Simpson: The phrase "Keeping B.C. families healthy" should be familiar to every member of this Legislature, as it is the catchphrase the B.C. Agriculture Council used
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during its recent effort to lobby the government and opposition to put a greater focus on agriculture and to provide this sector with the policy, tools and resources it needs to maximize its potential.
The B.C. Ag Council asked every MLA to recognize that agriculture has the potential to double its economic output, provide practical solutions to help address the challenge of climate change and ensure that all British Columbians have access to healthy, toxin-free, locally grown food.
According to the B.C. Ag Council, agriculture remains a major contributor to B.C.'s economy, as over 20,000 producers of more than 250 commodities employ 34,000 people and generate $2.4 billion in farm-gate sales. However, the B.C. Ag Council also informed us that government policy and low public investment in the sector are putting its current contribution to B.C.'s economy at risk and negating its growth potential.
In 2010 B.C. was the only province to see a negative income in agriculture sector, and the Ag Council states that one of the most frequent questions it hears from B.C.'s farmers and ranchers is: why would they expand their B.C. operations here when they can go to Washington State or Alberta and immediately realize significant cost reductions?
The B.C. Ag Council's requests are timely, important and reasonable, and we owe it to future generations to pay attention to its key messages and to immediately begin elevating the status of agriculture in British Columbia. B.C. has incredible potential to keep families healthy by ensuring they have access to B.C.-grown produce.
I ask the House to recognize and support the work of the B.C. Ag Council and the agriculture sector it represents.
OSOYOOS INDIAN BAND
BUSINESS PARK PROJECT
J. Slater: Senkulmen, in the Okanagan language, means a place to work and create. What a befitting name for the Osoyoos Indian band's new business park.
Mr. Speaker, you and I had the privilege, along with Chief Clarence Louie, elder Modesta Betterton, other reps from the Okanagan Nation, Sen. Gerry St. Germain, federal Minister Lynne Yelich and the mayors of the towns of Osoyoos and Oliver, to recently participate in the ribbon-cutting of the 112-acre Senkulmen Business Park.
The Osoyoos Indian band over the past decade has embarked upon an aggressive program of economic development, resulting in 11 enterprises generating $25 million annually. These enterprises represent the Nk'Mip project, which includes a winery, vineyards, resort hotel, RV park, real estate, golf course, interpretive centre and a number of other businesses employing in excess of 800 people, with aboriginal employment of over 225.
This park will include a wine distribution centre, currently under construction. This 10,000-square-foot centre is a climate-controlled multi-winery warehousing that will be operated by the Osoyoos Indian band in a joint venture with Bronquest Properties.
These successes have been driven by their CAO, Chief Clarence Louie. I have known Chief Louie for about 30 years now, and at most events we kind of joke over our past. He used to be a pitcher, and he always used to strike me out. That's what he always tells everybody.
Chief Louie has excelled at creating partnerships. The Osoyoos Indian band has partnered with the federal, the provincial and local governments, as well as the private sector, to create an environment for job creation. This park will establish itself as a model not only for First Nations but for all communities, much in the way the Nk'Mip project established high standards and the successes in the tourism industry.
The infrastructure in place and the Senkulmen Business Park will be a great home for the correctional facility that is proposed for the Okanagan. I support their initiative.
COMMENTS BY SOCIAL
DEVELOPMENT MINISTER AND
COMMUNITY LIVING SERVICES REVIEW
A. Dix: My question is to the minister responsible for Community Living B.C. The minister will know that CLBC has conducted reviews of only 21 cases, and in 13 cases they found that they were underserving clients. That's the extent of that review so far. The minister was quoted yesterday as saying that the problem at CLBC is "not maybe as large as some would like us to believe."
Is the minister aware that there's a wait-list of 2,800 clients at CLBC — 2,800? Why is she, and why is the government, in the midst of their so-called internal review, minimizing the extent of the crisis?
Hon. S. Cadieux: The client service team is addressing the needs of folks that have come forward expressing that they are not satisfied with their current level of service. I am very pleased that, at this point, 21 people have had their needs met and that the further two-thirds of those folks that have come forward are having their needs addressed.
We are in the process of an internal audit. We are in the process of the deputy minister working group review of cross-ministerial services that are delivered to people with developmental disabilities and their families. We are committed to ensuring that we find a positive way forward for CLBC and for the families that depend on CLBC services, and I look forward to bringing more information forward as the reviews are completed.
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Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a supplemental.
A. Dix: Well, the minister of CLBC has reviewed 21 cases out of 2,800 people on wait-lists. I'm sure that if you're sitting on a wait-list as an adult with developmental disabilities, the minister would agree, you wouldn't be satisfied, and I think it's fair to say they're not satisfied.
I guess the concern here is that the minister — after 21 cases reviewed, 65 percent of which showed that services were inadequate; that's their review so far — is concluding that this isn't a significant problem. Well, it is a significant problem. Isn't it the case, given the minister's apparent minimization of this serious problem, that we need an independent review to restore the credibility of CLBC?
Hon. S. Cadieux: From the very first day that I took responsibility for this portfolio I have stated very clearly that I understand that there are problems within CLBC and that there are things that need to be addressed so that families receive the services they need. We are committed to doing a thorough review so that any adjustments that can be made are done in a responsible, well-thought-out manner so as to not disrupt the services that are being delivered to over 13,000 people in this province.
It is incredibly important we respect that those families do not want or need for their services to be disrupted or for any additional stress to be put on those families when we decide what the best route forward is for CLBC and for delivering services to people with developmental disabilities.
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a further supplemental.
A. Dix: From the beginning of this current debate on CLBC, which is really under the previous minister and now under this minister…. I mean, we've had four ministers in a year, two presidents of CLBC, 65 group homes closed in the last two years and 2,800 people on wait-lists, the minister says. And the minister's conclusion so far is that the problem is not as large as some would like us to believe.
Well, I just think that that is, frankly, disrespectful to the people who've brought this process forward. The fact of the matter is that this is not a political problem or a spin problem for the government. It's a serious problem facing, in particular, the 2,800 people on wait-lists. The Minister of Finance, who's been in the House for the last eight years while these wait-lists grow, should listen to these questions seriously and take them seriously as Minister of Finance.
Perhaps the Minister of Finance's disrespect is the problem here, but I'm going to pose this question to the minister responsible for CLBC. One of the longstanding recommendations out there on this issue is to give to the Representative for Children and Youth responsibilities for people going through a transition. Does the minister agree with that recommendation, and will we see that recommendation implemented soon?
Hon. S. Cadieux: The member opposite may wish to jump to conclusions. I do not wish to jump to conclusions when dealing with people with disabilities. I am committed to a thorough review, which is underway.
I am meeting with families, with advocates, with individuals who were instrumental in the original establishment of CLBC for their loved ones. I have said over and over in this House that there are definitely things that need to be resolved. There are definitely issues, and there are families who deserve better. We will fix those issues for those families that come forward, and we will fix them in the longer term with how we deliver services to people with developmental disabilities in a thoughtful and positive, respectful way.
N. Simons: This government spent the last year denying that there's a problem and a crisis in Community Living B.C. Yesterday the fourth minister in a year repeated what the last three said: "There's really no problem here." With all the evidence of huge wait-lists, forcing people with developmental disabilities from their homes, hospitalizing them, jailing them, we're finding out more and more about that deep nature of this crisis.
It might be business as usual for this government, but it's a crisis for families across this province. What will convince this minister to do the right thing and order an external review of Community Living B.C.?
Hon. S. Cadieux: I'm not sure how many more times I can say this before somebody will listen on the other side. We are doing a thorough review of the services delivered at CLBC and across ministries to people who receive services, who have developmental disabilities and their families because we are committed to ensuring that they have the services they need to live good lives in communities, included in our communities, because it's best for everyone. But I will not jump to conclusions about what needs to be done, because we are still in the process of that review.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
N. Simons: The minister jumped to conclusions yesterday when she said that there wasn't a big deal and that everything seems to be fine.
I think this minister needs to take this seriously — the minister and all the rest of the MLAs who are ignoring their constituents throughout this province, including
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the members from Kamloops. They don't know what the heck they're talking about.
This minister actually thinks that the people of this province are going to have confidence in a review being undertaken by the exact same people who have been making this crisis grow worse and worse every month. Do the people of this province deserve a little more respect than that? I think so.
From being a leader in this province to going to be a laughingstock in this country. I think the minister needs to do more than just rely on internal reviews that nobody will be able to trust. Instead of denying the problem, will the minister take real action and order an external review?
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Hon. S. Cadieux: I am concerned that the member opposite would characterize my desire to get a thorough understanding of the situation — by meeting with advocates, family members, individuals who are receiving services, individuals who are not satisfied with the services they are receiving — whilst others from the ministry are doing in-depth reviews across ministry, while we have a team looking at the internal financial workings and ways in which CLBC assesses and prioritizes clients and the ways in which CLBC, indeed, does business overall….
I am concerned that the member opposite would suggest that I should not be thoroughly informed before making a decision on how best to move forward to support people with developmental disabilities in this province.
JUMBO GLACIER RESORT PROPOSAL
M. Mungall: Whether it is people who have lived in the area since time immemorial or people who moved to the Kootenays just a few years ago, people in the region are clear: they do not want a resort on Jumbo Glacier. An economic analysis of the proposed development found that the proponent is relying on flawed market assumptions and overestimating the economic activity.
The Ktunaxa and the Kootenay communities know that a resort on Jumbo Glacier is a bad deal for the region and will destroy wildlife habitat that has been sacred for millennia. Will the minister responsible finally make the right decision and keep Jumbo wild?
Hon. S. Thomson: I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this question. As you know, I'm the decision-maker with respect to the master development agreement for this project. I have been undertaking a process of full diligence in order to make that decision. That has included meeting with the proponents. It has included meeting with First Nations. It has included meeting with all interested parties on this project. I'm continuing to do that due diligence.
As you know, it's been a project that has had a significant amount of time period involved with it, so there is a very great deal of information on this project that needs to be assessed in a careful, thoughtful manner.
I had the opportunity to meet with the delegation that is here in Victoria today to hear their concerns. I had the opportunity to meet with them directly this summer to hear those concerns in depth. Those will all be part of the due diligence and the consideration that it will take to make sure that this decision is made in a fair and open manner.
N. Macdonald: We just need to give context to this issue. In the time that Jumbo has been proposed, there has been a tremendous amount of development. The Ktunaxa themselves have developed a golf resort and hotel complex on the St. Mary River. They are currently working with industrial projects, developing forestry opportunities. Kicking Horse Resort was proposed, built, opened. Revelstoke Mountain Resort was proposed, built, opened — as have numerous golf resorts.
All of those made sense to the people in the area. These do not make sense. You have to be environmentally and economically responsible. The best able to judge that? Some new to the Columbia Valley and some like the Ktunaxa with roots back countless generations are saying clearly this development is wrong.
When will the government do the right thing and say no to the Jumbo Valley land giveaway?
Hon. S. Thomson: As I've indicated clearly, the process of due diligence…. I take that responsibility very, very seriously, in terms of making this decision, with respect to being the statutory decision-maker. I am undertaking that process. The environmental, the economic, the First Nation considerations will all be part of that process.
I had the opportunity to have very in-depth discussion on those issues as part of the due process, and as I said very clearly, it's my undertaking to make sure that this process is done in an open, fair and transparent manner, and that's the process that I will continue.
AUDITOR GENERAL ACCESS TO
INFORMATION IN B.C. RAIL COURT CASE
L. Krog: Yesterday the Attorney General continued the Liberal policy of stonewalling any and all questions on the sordid $6 million payoff to Dave Basi and Bobby Virk. On November 10, the very day the Toope report was released, the Auditor General had to go to court a second time seeking records that the government refuses to release to aid him in his investigation.
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To the Attorney General: will she stop wasting taxpayers' money, cooperate and provide the information the Auditor General is entitled to, to get to the bottom of this affair?
Hon. S. Bond: I think the member of the opposition who asked the question is a member of the bar. In fact, we should be clear about this. The Auditor General is, in fact, petitioning the court to approve the access to information that is currently covered by third-party privilege because it's billing information.
I can assure the member opposite that we are supporting the Auditor General. We have been collaborating with him to ensure that he has…. All documents we can release, we are releasing. In fact, we are supporting the court order that is required to release confidential billing information.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
L. Krog: Well, it's always interesting when one has to go to court and that's called cooperation. We know the payoff was made in violation of government policy. What we don't know is why it was violated, why $6 million of taxpayers' money was used to pay off convicted Liberal insiders.
The Auditor General went to court earlier this year seeking documents opposed by the government. The judge had to order a release. A second try on November 10. The Auditor General said he's "not been provided full access" to the documents that he needs to get to the bottom of this sordid saga. And he goes on to say — and this is important: "Full and unfettered access is fundamental to an auditor's role."
To the Attorney General: quite simply, what is this government trying to hide?
Hon. S. Bond: Well, as is typical, the member opposite sees a conspiracy under every single rock. Let's be clear. We are cooperating with the Auditor General, and there is something called — and to the member opposite — solicitor-client privilege. In fact, there is third-party protection.
What the Auditor General is actually looking for is billing information on 90 individuals. There is a court order required in order for that access to be granted. We support the Auditor General and agree totally, in fact, that that information should be accessed.
J. Horgan: It's interesting…
Mr. Speaker: Members.
J. Horgan: …to listen to the Attorney General in one place saying that they support me. Yet in the documents, in responding to the petition, it says: "The petition respondent opposes the granting of the order set out in all paragraphs, part 1 of the petition."
Our concern here is this. As the Auditor has said in the documents: "A proper audit cannot be conducted where the auditee selects the documents and records to be examined." We had the Toope report come through. The minister held up the fig leaf that the previous Attorney General and the one before that had held up, and the public is still no further ahead in finding out why we're out $6 million.
My question to the Attorney General is: will the government of British Columbia, the Liberal Party, release any and all documents to the Auditor General so we can finally, finally get to the bottom of this sordid, sordid affair?
Hon. S. Bond: I've answered the question. To the member opposite: any document that we have the ability to release — we have done that. In fact, what needs to be done is that the court has to grant an order in order for private solicitor-client privileged information regarding billing information. There are third parties involved, Mr. Speaker. When the court gives that permission, then those documents will be released as directed by the courts.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
J. Horgan: Within the application from the Auditor General, "Justice Greyell expressly indicated that he made no finding that solicitor-client privilege applied to the documents requested by the Auditor General." The Attorney General may want to split those hairs that she can find in her quiver over there, but the reality of the matter is the Auditor General is not getting timely access to these documents. As a result, the government of British Columbia, the B.C. Liberals, are hampering his investigation.
Again, the question is quite simple. If you don't want to fess up to botching this deal, shutting it down on the courthouse step so that the former Minister of Finance didn't spill the beans on all the rest of you, give the documents to the Auditor today.
Hon. S. Bond: Let me be clear. We are supporting the Auditor General in ensuring that information that is accessible has been released. We are not protecting documents that are protected by cabinet privilege, and in fact, the information that is being sought through a court order is based on third-party billing information. We support the Auditor General, and we look forward to the completion of his report.
ACCESS TO DRIVEABLE PROGRAM
G. Coons: The DriveABLE program is just one more example of a Liberal initiative that shuts out rural British
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Columbians. Here's the reality. Dr. Gord Horner, who is a physician on Haida Gwaii, wrote to the minister detailing what his patients had to go through to get their assessments done.
They have to travel from the islands, Haida Gwaii, to Prince George for DriveABLE assessments. That's a minimum five-day return trip. With ferries, fuel, motels, meals and mandatory escort, it's a cost of more than $1,500. Dr. Horner rightly calls that an insurmountable financial barrier.
It's unacceptable to send seniors on a five-day trek that will cost them $1,500. To the Solicitor General: what will the minister do to ensure that DriveABLE assessments are accessible to seniors where they live?
Hon. S. Bond: In fact, I live in northern British Columbia, and I have similar concerns. I have met with a number of MLAs on both sides of this House to recognize that we actually do need to look at ways to better serve seniors who are facing this very difficult circumstance.
Let's be clear. DriveABLE — when a diagnosis is made and when a recommendation is made, it is based on a medical diagnosis by a physician. It's a very difficult circumstance for seniors to have to contemplate losing their licence based on a medical diagnosis.
We are currently looking at mobile opportunities. We are working to try to sort out ways to have those services accessed in other ways. So I agree that there is a concern about that, and we are continuing to look at ways that we can better serve the needs of those seniors closer to home.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
G. Coons: Well, talking about the mobile units just doesn't wash. The minister's own guidelines on her own website state in section 6.6 that if a DriveABLE assessment centre is not located nearby, a gerontologist, occupational therapist or a driver rehabilitation specialist may do further assessment. The ministry says that they have to come up with other options if the testing centre is not accessible.
If you have to travel for five days, hon. Speaker, that probably means it's not accessible. If you're a senior in Bella Coola, the closest mobile unit you might be able to find would be in Williams Lake, a thousand-kilometre drive and a four-day return trip.
Will the minister acknowledge that her ministry is not living up to its own accessibility guidelines for seniors and take steps to fix that today?
Hon. S. Bond: Perhaps you should have asked the DriveABLE question if you're that concerned about it.
To the member opposite, first of all, I'd be happy to invite the member opposite to actually visit my office and sit down and talk to me about an issue like that, where we could actually explore reasonable options. We need to be clear about DriveABLE. We need to be….
Mr. Speaker: Minister, just take your seat for a second. Sit down, please.
Hon. S. Bond: First of all, the DriveABLE program is designed to assess the cognitive abilities of seniors in British Columbia. This is a very serious medical issue, and it's a very emotional and difficult one for many families.
I am well aware of the challenges that those who live in northern and rural communities are facing. We are working to find a way to try to address the very issues that the member actually brought to the House today, and perhaps in a spirit of constructive discussion, I'd welcome him to visit my office and try to actually find some solutions that would work for British Columbians, no matter where their MLA, on which side of the House they sit.
IMPACT OF EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
RESTRUCTURING ON VULNERABLE PERSONS
S. Simpson: My question is for the Minister of Social Development. New employment programs in British Columbia have taken about $340 million of transfer money from the federal government. That money has been taken, and a radically restructured set of training programs has been put in place. As a result, about 400 different programs and services that were available have been consolidated now into 72 contracts across the province.
There's been a significant challenge in this restructuring, particularly concerning services for complex populations, including women, the disabled, youth, immigrant communities and populations with issues such as addictions and mental health. There is growing concern within the community that these initiatives, which are called the tier 3 and 4 initiatives, will not have their needs met.
Today we hear that PEERS, a key organization working to offer sex trade workers transition into other opportunities, including employment training, will be closing their doors largely because this program design does not meet the needs of their constituency.
Could the minister tell us how she intends for these employment programs to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens, like those served by PEERS?
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Hon. S. Cadieux: Well, the procurement process for these programs was extremely transparent and lengthy. The ministry is committed to ensuring that we're improving our services to clients. One of the things I referenced was the fact that we currently operate ten programs, and only some of those are available at any one door someone might access.
Through the redesign, all employment programs that someone may be eligible for will be available no matter which door they enter, which I think will be a significant improvement.
The specific program that the member refers to, PEERS, in fact did not choose to participate in this procurement process. This particular client group's needs were certainly anticipated and are or will be met by the future service provider in the area.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
S. Simpson: The challenge with the employment programs…. They're going to work fine for people who are fairly job ready. They are not looking like they're going to work well for people with complex needs or unique needs.
I quote Tracy Porteous from the Ending Violence Association: "Women who are escaping violence now can get help to rebuild their lives through a job-bridging program. With these changes, they'd have to go to a generic centre, which many may not do because of perceived safety issues."
There are those complexities there. There are similar complexities for sex trade workers, for other workers. Without access to core funding for those organizations, these invaluable services, like the ones provided by PEERS, will be lost. They'll be lost for a segment of our population which needs real attention.
How does the minister think that providing this cookie-cutter approach to employment services will meet the needs of these vulnerable and unique populations?
Hon. S. Cadieux: Well, in fact, a key factor in the redesign process, which was transparent and was completed over a period of over 18 months of consultation….
A key factor in being a successful proponent was the ability to show partnerships. Successful bids involve teams of service providers and organizations who are able to offer a full suite of services for this employment program. Through the partnerships, more than 300 different service providers will be delivering this new program.
I will repeat: in this particular case, the provider of services, PEERS, did not choose to participate in the procurement process.
[End of question period.].
J. Horgan: I seek leave to make an introduction.
Mr. Speaker: Proceed.
Introductions by Members
J. Horgan: Joining us in the precinct today, as he does every day, is a Sergeant at-Arms staff member who is one year older today than he was last year at this time, and that is Larry Dinn. Will the House please wish Larry, an able member of the Sergeant-at-Arms staff, a happy, happy birthday.
Reports from Committees
C. Hansen: I have the honour to present the report of the Special Committee to Appoint a Representative for Children and Youth.
I move that the report be taken as read and received.
Mr. Speaker: Continue, Member.
C. Hansen: I ask leave of the House to permit the moving of a motion to adopt the report.
Mr. Speaker: Proceed, Member.
C. Hansen: I move that the report be adopted.
C. Hansen: I ask leave of the House to permit the moving of a further motion requesting the Lieutenant-Governor to reappoint Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as the Representative for Children and Youth for the province of British Columbia. [Applause.]
Motions Without Notice
APPOINTMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE
FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
C. Hansen: By leave, I move:
[That this House recommend to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor the appointment of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as a statutory officer of the Legislature, to exercise the powers and duties assigned to the Representative for Children and Youth for the province of British Columbia pursuant to the Representative for Children and Youth Act (SBC 2006 c. 29).]
In conjunction with moving this motion, I would like to explain briefly some of the considerations of the committee in reaching this unanimous decision for reappointment.
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As I think all members of the House know, the Representative for Children and Youth plays a critical role in ensuring stronger performance in the child welfare system and greater accountability. Over the past five years Ms. Turpel-Lafond has done an excellent job in helping and supporting children and families of British Columbia.
The committee is very impressed with the important and valuable work she does and the dedication and skills she brings to the job. She has developed strong, collaborative working relationships both within and outside government and has acted as a strong advocate for children and youth in British Columbia.
We all have a shared commitment to improving outcomes for children and families in this province, and we look forward to that work continuing with Ms. Turpel-Lafond for another five years.
In closing, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all members of the committee for their dedication and contribution to this selection process.
M. Elmore: I'd just like to follow on the words of the member as the Deputy Chair for the committee to reappoint Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. I am very pleased. I think today is a great day for us here in British Columbia. It's certainly a great day for the children, and I'm very pleased that the committee was able to reach the unanimous decision.
The committee certainly agreed that we're very fortunate to have Mary Ellen continue for a second term. Certainly, the first term we saw…. I sit on the Children and Youth Committee. It's very active in terms of the number of reports that have been presented and also in terms of the leading research — recognized not only in British Columbia but across Canada and around the world for promoting and advocating on behalf of children.
I'd also like to appreciate the hard work of the Chair, bringing the committee together and reaching this decision. I'm very pleased to have Mary Ellen with us for a second term.
J. Kwan: I rise to table a petition. I have here a petition from the Pathways Information Centre, Tradeworks Training Society, which continues to provide services to some 200 to 250 people daily, servicing 14,000 residents by way of its membership since 2003.
They are calling on the government to support the continuation of funding of Pathways Information Centre in order to serve the needs of the residents in the inner city. The petition contains 1,283 signatures, an additional 22 letters of support from its members and 49 surveys from its agency partners along with another 168 individual letters in support of the petition.
B. Routley: I, too, rise to present a petition signed by 951 constituents of the Cowichan Valley. This petition is regarding the treatment of seniors at the hands of DriveABLE. Our seniors want a fair process, and they want to be able to take their test in their community. They want a road test…
Mr. Speaker: Member, Member.
B. Routley: …and the seniors want to be respected and treated fairly.
Mr. Speaker: Member, Member.
B. Routley: Yes, hon. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Excuse me. You're presenting a petition. You're not presenting a report.
B. Routley: Thank you, hon. Speaker.
I thought we should be respectful of our seniors and raise this matter….
Mr. Speaker: Member.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Member, would you just please present the petition.
B. Routley: I table this petition.
Reports from Committees
Hon. R. Coleman: I have the honour to present the first report of the Special Committee of Selection for the fourth session of the 39th parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I move the report be taken as read and received.
Hon. R. Coleman: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to move a motion to adopt the report.
Hon. R. Coleman: I move the report be adopted.
For the information of members, the report adopted by the Special Committee of Selection recommends membership on the following parliamentary committees for the 4th session of the 39th parliament: the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, the Select Standing Committee on Education, the Select Standing Committee
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on Legislative Initiatives and the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills.
Orders of the Day
Hon. R. Coleman: We will begin this afternoon on Bill 13, intituled the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act in committee stage. Then we'll move to committee stage of Bill 5, intituled Personal Property Security Amendment Act, then to second reading of Bill 18, Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act. If time, we will go to second reading on Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act — Bill 19.
Committee of the Whole House
Bill 13 — Metal Dealers and
The House in Committee of the Whole on Bill 13; L. Reid in the chair.
The committee met at 2:36 p.m.
On section 1.
K. Corrigan: I wanted to ask some questions, starting with the definition, which is section 1. First of all, I actually wanted to say that we on this side of the House, I know the minister knows, are supporting this act. I have a lot of questions about its operation, which I will probably get answers to, today. But overall, we are really pleased with this act, as I know the government is.
We got another letter today from TELUS Corp., from the vice-president, Kenneth Haertling, saying how much TELUS supports and appreciates this act, given the very negative effect that metal theft has had upon his company, not only financially but also in terms of interruption in service to its customers, as well as the safety concerns that are associated with that because of the interruption of service. So just that to start with, but I do have many, many questions about this act and the specific provisions of the sections.
Starting with the very first definition of "business entity," it has a list of what business entities are and then "another person prescribed by regulation." I guess just as an overarching comment, this act, as several other acts, seems to have an awful lot in it that is going to be prescribed by regulation, which means that it's going to be done in cabinet and so will not be debated in this House, discussed in this House or open to scrutiny in this House.
I'm wondering why it is that the act itself could not have in it what "business entity" stands for. It seems to me that it would be quite easy to figure that out in the framing of the act.
Hon. S. Bond: I just want to make introductions before we begin the afternoon's work.
Joining me in the House today from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General are Clayton Pecknold, who is our assistant deputy minister of policing and security; Kjerstine Holmes, who is the director of crime research and analysis with police services; and Kathy Kirby, who is the director of policy and legislation, policing and community safety. I really appreciate the work that this team does every day. They are exceptional at what they do, and I appreciate their support.
In terms of the act, we want to make sure that there are no loopholes. We want to be very clear that there may be an evolution of how people who deal in metal evolve, and from our perspective, it is better that as we bring the bill into the House, we have a broad enough definition of business entity that would cover, in this case, a number of ways that metal dealers or recyclers may be considered businesses.
K. Corrigan: I notice the next definition, "customer code," which refers to section 5. Customer codes are dealt with in section 5 of the act.
It says that customer code means "a numerical or alphabetical code, or both, determined in accordance with the regulations." Again, I'm wondering if we could bring the act into the House, why it is we wouldn't get a chance to find out how the customer code was going to be determined. I think that's a fairly important part of the bill. There are issues to do with privacy. There are issues to do with protection of the information and so on.
So I'm wondering why it is that this again will be something that is going to be dealt with by cabinet, which means that it's behind closed doors and won't be open to public scrutiny.
Hon. S. Bond: It is critical that we have further discussion about the customer code. The reason it's not articulated there but will be covered in regulation is because we want to have further dialogue with the Privacy Commissioner. In fact, we've had those discussions with the commissioner, and we intend to work with her as we develop those regulations.
K. Corrigan: I have a more general question. There are many, many sections, as I said earlier, that indicate that further work will be done, that things will be determined by regulation. So just to get a sense of how this fits in with Bill 7, I'm just wondering: would this information that's
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all going to be determined in accordance with regulations…? Are these all things that will need to be reported under Bill 7? Is the minister foreseeing that under this act there will have to be a report and the information will have to be forwarded so that it can be included in Bill 7?
Hon. S. Bond: As I indicated earlier, one of our primary concerns here is that as we deal with the issue of metal theft, we also have to be cognizant of the protection of privacy. So we have made a commitment to the Privacy Commissioner to actually work through many of the concerns related to the privacy aspects and protection of information. That's why they are not articulated here.
We also know that as the situation evolves, we want to be able to make changes to that. If you do all of those things in legislation, you have to come back to the House every time you do that. So from our perspective, there is a balance in regulation versus legislation.
But most critically, we've made an agreement that we would work closely with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that we meet the important test of freedom of information, protection of privacy.
K. Corrigan: What I was referring to, in asking that question…. We've just been dealing with a bill in the House, Bill 7, which is going to require the government to report on regulation, report on red tape, every year. I'm just wondering if the minister foresees that information like the customer code that we're talking about right now, or the regulation that deals with the business entity and so on, is going to be part of the information that will be included in that report that is going to be required every year, that government is going to require of itself in terms of regulation.
Hon. S. Bond: Our staff haven't actually done the work related to the requirements that will be placed on this bill by Bill 7. But certainly, anything that is required to be done will be complied with, as would be expected.
K. Corrigan: I'm assuming from that that the minister, in setting up the regulatory scheme here, was not concerned about the fact that this would add to the regulatory load, which government has indicated is a real concern for it?
Hon. S. Bond: I think we've been clear about our deregulatory agenda. In fact, we have reduced regulation in the province by 42 percent since 2001. What we've not been apologetic about is when that regulation is related to health, safety or the environment.
This is a public safety issue. We believe that the regulations are necessary and imperative in order for us to create a situation which closes down the market and reduces anonymity. So there is a balance in creating regulation, but from our perspective, health and safety and, certainly, environmental issues are well within our purview when we contemplate new regulation.
K. Corrigan: I wanted to go on to another definition, which is "local authority." Local authority means "(a) a municipality, including the City of Vancouver, (b) a regional district, and (c) any other local body prescribed by regulation as a local authority for the purposes of this Act or the regulations."
Again, what we have is a provision, in provision (c), which says it's prescribed by regulation. That means the determination of what else might be included as a local authority is going to be decided by cabinet, which again is a private body, as opposed to being discussed here in this House.
Could the minister please explain how it is that we can't figure out what a local authority is for the purposes of this act? Now, I can understand that you are saying you don't want any loopholes with regard to "business entity" and that it could be "another person prescribed by regulation," but I don't understand how it is that the government could not understand what a local authority might mean prior to framing or while framing this act.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, it is an attempt to ensure that we have no loopholes and we cover all of the potential places that there may be some authority related to regulations. In fact, one of the examples given was the Islands Trust — is an authority, is a local body. Whether or not that is relevant or not, we just wanted to be sure that there is a broad enough definition to capture those things if necessary.
K. Corrigan: Well, I appreciate it, but it seems to me that some of these areas that are being left to work later could have been dealt with in advance. If the Islands Trust is an example, surely the government must have had the ability to look and figure out what kinds of local authorities — what the local authorities are in our province. They must know what is there: the municipalities, regional districts, island trusts and others.
It's just that we continually have this government framing an act, and then probably twice as much information and twice as much decision-making happens within cabinet, where it is not scrutinized. I'm not suggesting that there is anything nefarious in this particular definition or that something could happen that we might be concerned about, but the fact is that what it does is it removes it from the ability of this House to discuss the act — all of the aspects of the act. It takes it away from the ability of the House to do that.
Did the minister want to respond to that? No. Okay.
Non-ferrous metals. I think I might understand, but perhaps I can get the minister to talk about what we are including. When we are talking about metal theft, we
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are talking about non-ferrous metals and what that does and doesn't include.
Hon. S. Bond: I think the definition is fairly straightforward. These are the high-value metals that are typically the sought-after metal when people are looking to steal something. We have clearly laid them out, and then the obvious ones that we're not going to restrict are gold, platinum or silver. The goal that we have in this bill is related to public safety; it is related to critical infrastructure. These are typically non-ferrous metals, and the ones that are there, listed in the bill, are those that are typically the sought-after metals by metal thieves.
K. Corrigan: I notice also that this definition says, as was mentioned, that it "does not include gold, platinum or silver." But if we had a situation where metal thieves were taking items off of buildings that included gold, platinum or silver, I'm wondering why the minister would not want to include this in the act if there are. There may be situations where there is gold, platinum and silver on a building or in a building.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, the primary purpose of this legislation is to deal with metals that are stolen and taken to metal dealers and recyclers. That does not typically include gold, platinum or silver. Copper, obviously important; lead; magnesium; nickel — these are the types of things involved in critical infrastructure in British Columbia, so they are listed for that purpose. Typically, someone who is going to trade gold is not going to be going to a metal dealer or a recycler.
K. Corrigan: I notice also that in this list we again have a provision that there can be a prescribed metal or alloy attached to the list, and that again means that in cabinet there could be additional metals added to the list. Did the minister, in framing this legislation, not know what the exhaustive list could possibly be of non-ferrous metal? Why is it we need to have the possibility of adding further metals to the list?
Hon. S. Bond: There is also a need to be practical in legislation. For example, if you look at the definition under "regulated metal" — "a prescribed item or class of items" — we have no idea what thieves are going to steal tomorrow afternoon. In fact, they steal headstones. They steal playground equipment. One of the classes that that may be considered, for example, is playground equipment.
We're not going to have an articulated list that includes every single item that is potential for a thief to take advantage of. So the way we do that is to look at a class of items, what we can include, and as the thieves become more sophisticated, so do the products they steal. We don't want to have to come back into the Legislature to adjust a list every time that happens.
There does need to be a balance between protecting the principles of the bill in legislation and the ability to be flexible, as the circumstances require, throughout the next number of years as we try to crack down on this very serious public safety issue. So there is a balance, yes. We're not going to put a complete list of every item, because they surprise us on a daily basis about what they steal next.
K. Corrigan: I'm not talking about the types of items. I agree that it's quite astounding what types of items people will steal and have had stolen from their homes. You know, to hear some of the stories…. We've heard on both sides of the House about people who have had a brand-new renovation to their house, moved out while the renovation is being done and come back to find lines stripped, metals stripped out and the cost being many, many times to restore the damage that is done than the value of the metal itself. I'm not quibbling with that.
What I'm wondering about is…. The minister talked about playground equipment. But I'm not talking about specific items. I'm saying non-ferrous metals. Is there not an exhaustive list of what non-ferrous metals are? Why could they simply not have been included rather than having to prescribe it, do it by regulation later?
The reason I ask that is that what I worry about, or I think what we worry about on this side of the House, is that what is going to happen is the scope of this…. The minister talked about flexibility. The scope of what this act covers could significantly change, so I think it's important for us to know what other possible prescribed metals or alloys there are, because it must be limited.
Hon. S. Bond: One of the things we did do is look at successful bylaws that have been put in place in the Lower Mainland. So this is an amalgamation, as well, of best practice that we have seen in local municipal bylaws. The definitions are very much based on a combination of successful bylaws that are currently in place and the balance of the regulatory regime that looks at metals that are currently….
The bill focuses on public safety and critical infrastructure. To include a list of non-ferrous metals…. Generally speaking, the metals that are listed in the bill are the ones that are stolen, and so allowing us to define in regulation an additional list of items is practical, and it allows us to be flexible as we move into the next number of years.
K. Corrigan: It's been so long since I took chemistry 12, and so I don't recall how many non-ferrous metals there are, but I'm just wondering very quickly if the ministry staff knows how many non-ferrous metals there are in existence.
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Hon. S. Bond: In fact, we have canvassed the existing bylaws to look at the definitions that are included and how inclusive they have been. We have listed those metals which are high value and are typically the ones that have been stolen. At the end of the day, we have no idea today, moving into the future, what other, for example, blended alloys might be used in critical infrastructure. So we would again be creating a list that…. Today we don't know what that will look like, potentially, two years from now.
From our perspective, this bill is about closing down the market on those metals which are highly traded and stolen and sought-after, and that list is included under non-ferrous metals.
K. Corrigan: I'm interested in the definitions of "purchase" and "sell." It's interesting that the definition of "purchase" says: "'purchase' includes to acquire, whether or not for consideration." In legalese, we know that "consideration" means that some kind of money or something else changes hands, that there's something that one person gets in return for that which they give.
I'm wondering why it is that we have a definition that seems counterintuitive, that says that somebody is said to purchase something, even if there is absolutely nothing which is provided in return for that purchase.
Hon. S. Bond: Well, in fact, we've seen very recently cases where people, for whatever reason, may steal or pick up something. They take to it a metal dealer and at the end of the day may end up just dropping it there, and the dealer ends up taking it.
They may have a casual conversation and say: "Oh, I'll just give you $10 for it." At the end of the day, what we want to make sure of is that we're shutting down the market for people who decide they're going to steal something. Whether or not throughout the course of that transaction there is money exchanged, we don't want people stealing or destroying public infrastructure and having a venue at which they can drop that off.
K. Corrigan: Well, that's good information. I'm learning more about what happens and what can happen with metal theft and how it's dealt with at the dealers. That's very helpful. But if that is the case, why would it not, then…? Instead of twisting our normal understanding of the words, why would "purchase…?" It says "includes to acquire, whether or not for consideration," so why wouldn't we just use the word "acquire"?
Hon. S. Bond: What we want to do is stop metal changing hands. For example, another way to contemplate what may happen there is bartering. It doesn't need to be an exchange of dollars. There can be bartering. There can be a number of ways to actually see metal change hands in the province.
We're simply saying: we need to shut down the market. We need to make sure that, wherever possible, we are closing down opportunities for whatever method the person might arrive at with those stolen or damaged or destroyed goods. We think it's inclusive, and we think that it would cover all of the circumstances that might occur at a metal dealer or recyclers.
K. Corrigan: Well, I think it's always important, when we have legislation and when we speak in this House, that words make sense in the way they are defined. I'm certainly not disagreeing with the intent of being inclusive about what we mean when we're talking about changing hands. The minister certainly provided some useful information in terms of people, for example, dropping things off and ending up just leaving them and not getting paid for it.
But to me, it is not just counterintuitive; it's inconsistent to say that somebody's purchasing something that they may not get anything for. Because the word "purchase," by definition, to me means that there is some consideration. It's saying, to me, that you're completely changing the meaning of the word "purchase."
It's not something that we're going to defeat the bill over — or we couldn't, anyways — or that we are going to oppose the bill. But I do think it's important. Maybe it sounds picky, but I think it's important. If you use the word "purchase," which everybody thinks includes that you have to pay some money, then it's very odd to say that that definition of purchase means that somebody could have just dropped something off.
Hon. S. Bond: We're just laughing because, obviously, we think it's appropriate, or it wouldn't be in here — from our team's perspective.
You know, we're trying to shut down a trade of stolen metal here, so we are looking at language that we believe is understandable in the industry. We want people to clearly understand what the expectations are and that whether there is money exchanged or not, whether there is bartering, whether you decide to drop it off, there are going to be serious consequences for that practice.
Again, we did also look in terms of other successful bylaws that are in place. We think this is broad enough to cover any aspect of an exchange that might take place at a metal dealer's place of business.
K. Corrigan: Well, I'll leave that one there. I think the word "acquire" would probably have better covered it, and it's probably a more strictly appropriate use of the word.
I don't just ask these questions in order to be obstructive. What I foresee, and what I always think we should be thinking of when we're in the House and when we're considering legislation, is the possibility that at some point in the future somebody's going to challenge the
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legislation, or they're going to go to court for whatever reason and challenge the wording.
I have no doubt that sometime in the future there's a good possibility that somebody would go and say: "Look, the word 'purchase' by definition means that something has to change hands, and therefore, your definition isn't valid." So I'm not doing it frivolously. I'm doing it partly because I am concerned about it and, also, because I am trying to understand what circumstances there might be wherein these different definitions would apply.
I'll move on from that. Of course, the same comments would apply to the definition of "sell," as well, although I do not actually see…. I was trying to think of one word that might concisely apply that would not necessarily include "consideration" being involved. Anyway, I'll leave that one.
I do want to point out again…. Under the definition of "regulated metal," I note that it does not include "used metal cans or containers for food, beverages or paint," which makes sense — things that can be recycled. But then, under (e): "a prescribed item or class of items." Again, I just am concerned that once again we are leaving to regulation that which…. We don't know what it's going to be, because it's going to happen later.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, it comes down to the practicality of including in legislation every single item that people will steal. Believe me, we've been surprised by some of the things that we've determined. We've seen footage of telephone booths being stolen. We've seen playground equipment. We've seen manhole covers. Depending upon what they're made of, they may or may not be caught in the non-ferrous metal category.
But again, what we're trying to do is create a regulatory regime that shuts done a market that astounds me, with the creativity of thieves. We've seen them steal plaques — you name it. Rather than itemize and risk missing those kinds of things that could be stolen, we've included a section that says "a prescribed item or class of items" in regulations that we can both add to and take away from without a visit to the Legislature, taking up valuable time in the Legislature adjusting a list to include things like plumbing equipment or playgrounds.
K. Corrigan: We certainly do agree with the intent and with the act itself, but overall, it will be limited to non-ferrous metals. I can assume that from the act — right?
Hon. S. Bond: In fact, the focus of this bill is to try to shut down the transactions that take place. The non-ferrous metals that are included in the bill are actually the ones that we see occurring in the majority of transactions.
Also, this is a bill that is focused on public safety, from my perspective, so the high-value non-ferrous metals are listed because they are the most sought-after and certainly the most frequent.
Having said that, there may be other classes of items or a prescribed item that emerges as something that is being stolen more frequently. Allowing us to build that in regulation covers off the potential for that.
K. Corrigan: I just want to be clear that the definition of non-ferrous metal in regulation, when it says "a prescribed metal or alloy," could not include a metal that was not a non-ferrous metal.
Hon. S. Bond: Well, what we're discovering is that metal theft is an emerging skill. What we want to do is clearly articulate that in the non-ferrous metal category that we have outlined what those highly sought-after, lucrative metals are. But we're also leaving room for additional items.
In fact, we are aware of a case, as recently as this summer, in Northern Ireland, where due to the high price of scrap metal, the theft of manhole covers has emerged over the past few years as a significant issue.
We're trying to find a way to capture both what is currently an issue…. Obviously, when we're looking at the most sought-after and highly lucrative metals, you will see them listed under non-ferrous. We're building in, under "regulated metal," an opportunity to add a prescribed item or class of items, depending upon how things emerge.
K. Corrigan: I'm trying to get my head around this. What are manholes made out of?
Hon. S. Bond: I'm beginning to discover that perhaps using a manhole cover wasn't the right answer, because we assume it's made of cast iron. But they could be made of…. I mean, maybe a manhole cover couldn't be made of anything, because it obviously has to have some solidity to it.
The bottom line here is: we don't know what everything will be made of, today and tomorrow, that's involved in critical infrastructure. So the point here is that what we do know, we've included in legislation. We've said aluminum, copper, lead, magnesium, nickel and zinc are pretty much what we see being transacted.
There are other items which create a public safety risk and which may be ferrous in nature. We need a category under which to capture those so that we can shut that down in addition to the things that we are aware of that are highly trafficked metals today.
K. Corrigan: Well, here's the problem. Here's the problem that I have, and it's the same thing as the definitions of "sell" and "purchase." What the minister is saying is that…. She specifically gave the example of iron.
[ Page 8780 ]
A prescribed metal or alloy could include iron. We believe — the minister believes, and her team believes — that a manhole is made of iron.
So what you then have with this act, then, is the definition of "non-ferrous metal," which means a metal or alloy — it's right in the act — "that does not contain significant amounts of iron, including, without limitation" potentially, iron.
I mean, it makes no sense. So we're going to have a definition of non-ferrous metal which says it's not made of iron, which potentially, under the minister's own scenario, we want to be able to say, contains iron.
To me, again, it goes back to the very real concern, that we have a definition which completely contradicts itself, potentially — particularly given that the minister was the one that gave this as an example of something we may not want to cover in the future.
Hon. S. Bond: We're going to attempt to deal with this confusion, although we are feeling some of it ourselves at the moment. Under "regulated metal," item (a), which says "an item substantially made of non-ferrous metal" refers to the non-ferrous metal list that is listed up above. So if you look at regulated metal, non-ferrous metals listed up above are regulated. They're right there for us to see.
And (b) refers to "a prescribed item or class of items." It's not talking about it being ferrous. It's about the item itself. It's not about what it is made of. It's about the prescribed item or class of items. There you could say playground equipment, and whatever it's made of, would then be part of the regulated metal regime.
So "non-ferrous metal" lists the non-ferrous metals that we are articulating in that list. Anything else would have to be prescribed. It does not deal with ferrous metals. It deals with a prescribed item or a class of items, and it may or may not be ferrous.
K. Corrigan: So when the minister is talking about the non-ferrous metal definition, which is what I was actually asking about…. I was back to the non-ferrous metal definition. What I asked about was whether or not it was possible — under the definition of non-ferrous metal, which has (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) — that a prescribed metal or alloy could include manhole covers, which are made of iron. That was the example that was given by the minister. So what the minister is now saying is that what the minister is referring to is regulated metal, which is a different thing. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: Yes, that's correct. But again, if the member opposite looks at the first sentence, it says that "means a metal or alloy that does not contain significant amounts of iron…without limitation." So regulated metal includes the list, as we saw up above, that is "(a) an item substantially made of non-ferrous metal, or (b) a prescribed item" — something specific that's getting stolen — "or class of items." That may be playground equipment, for example, which is something I'm concerned about, actually, in terms of both public safety and how it's important in communities.
K. Corrigan: What we have, then, is that we are going to have included non-ferrous metals and other metals, any other metals, or anything else, because under regulated metal it says: "(a) an item substantially made of non-ferrous metal, or (b) a prescribed item or class of items." So really, it doesn't even have to be made of metal.
I ask this question because, originally, this was supposed to deal with metal, and it looks to me like it's wide open. It could include anything. My question to the minister, then, is: could it be something else that's not metal at all?
Hon. S. Bond: I'm not sure why you'd be taking it to a metal dealer if it wasn't made of metal. This is an attempt to shut down the transactions that are taken to metal dealers that are critical infrastructure, that are critical components of important public safety infrastructure. We're not looking at regulating other types of items other than those that would be sold at a metal dealer's place of business.
Section 1 approved.
On section 2.
K. Corrigan: Okay, so section 2 deals with prohibition on the sale of regulated metal, and it says: "A person must not sell regulated metal to a metal dealer or recycler unless, at the time of the transaction, the person (a) presents prescribed identification to the metal dealer or recycler, and (b) provides the metal dealer or recycler with (i) the information referred to in" — that's a further section, which we'll talk about later — "and (ii) any other prescribed information."
The section 2 and section 5, working together with section 31, allow the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council — which, again, is cabinet — to make regulations about what kind of information must be gathered and then what kind of information is kept and how registration works and so on. All of this is going to be decided later, and we don't get to talk about it. We don't get to find out about what that regime is going to look like.
The minister has said that she has been working with the Privacy Commissioner on that, and so we are left again to be asked to trust that the regime is going to be appropriate. I am wondering if the minister could tell me: what is expected? What kind of identification is go-
[ Page 8781 ]
ing to have to be presented to the metal dealer or recycler, and what kind of information are we talking about?
Hon. S. Bond: We want to work very closely with municipalities because there are bylaws in place, and outlined in those bylaws there are requirements for the presentation of identification, so we need to look at what exists in current bylaws. We are also going to work with the Privacy Commissioner, and we are going to talk to the metal dealers as well. So there will be a fair degree of discussion about what identification might be required. Typically, what has been asked for is B.C. identification: a B.C. driver's licence, basic information like names, telephone numbers — those kinds of things.
We are certainly cognizant of the requirement that we have to protect appropriate information, but also, we need enough information to ensure that we have the ability to track people who participate in this process. It is a balance, and we are in the process, and we will have that discussion with the Privacy Commissioner, people involved in the industry, and municipalities.
K. Corrigan: I am wondering if the minister…. In framing this legislation, did the minister take a look at the requirements for providing information — identification, background information — that is required by those that operate pawnshops? Is this similar to the scheme in…? What would the difference be from pawnshops?
Hon. S. Bond: Our primary goal here is to ensure that while we want to shut down the sale of stolen metal in British Columbia, we're also cognizant of the fact that there are concerns. We want to avoid challenges to this in terms of constitutionality. So we are being very thoughtful about how we will proceed and what information will be collected, which is why my deputy has committed to the Privacy Commissioner that we will work with her in the formulation of the regulations.
Critical to informing our thinking are the bylaws that are in place. Certainly, we have reviewed the bylaws that are in place in Surrey and in Burnaby, for example, where picture identification is part of the process.
Because this information — not the personal information — will be transmitted directly to the police, there will be a unique identity code that will be shared with the police, because we also need to give the police the information necessary to track down these individuals if that transaction takes place.
So we're cognizant of the concerns related to privacy, and we are going to work with the Privacy Commissioner and with industry and take some advisement from the current bylaws that are in place.
[D. Horne in the chair.]
K. Corrigan: I thank the minister for that. I was wondering how this compares to the regulations, the requirements, that pawnshops have, because I can see an overlap, and I can see…. I guess my question also is: if a pawnshop is to take in, for example, something that has a significant amount of copper or nickel in it, and I could see that happening, are they going to have to register as a metal dealer or a recycler?
The two parts of the question are: what are the requirements for identification when somebody goes to a pawnshop; and secondly, are pawnshop owners going to have to register as metal dealers or recyclers?
Hon. S. Bond: Certainly, I'm not an expert in the bylaws that regulate pawnshops. We are aware that there have been challenges with some of those, and our goal is to avoid the same challenges. We are clearly separating the transfer of personal information from transactional information to the police. That's an important differentiation.
The question about pawnshops, for example. Could they be covered under this bill? Only if they begin to purchase or sell the kinds of regulated metals. This is about the highly sought-after, critical infrastructure items. But a pawnshop, if they began to behave like a metal dealer in terms of that critical infrastructure, would be brought under this bill by virtue of the regulated metal.
K. Corrigan: I'm asking this line of questions because I can see an overlap here. The minister has said, and rightly so, that these thieves are highly creative and destructive in the things that they do, and it's astounding what they will and will not steal. Gravestone markers and possibly manhole covers, person-hole covers, have been mentioned as possibilities.
I can see an overlap. For example, when you're talking about gravestone markers, I could see that somebody could take items like that or items of copper, brass or bronze to a pawnshop.
The definition of "'metal dealer or recycler' means a person who carries on a business of purchasing regulated metal." I know that we're past that but because we're asking questions that are directly related to that….
It's not really clear whether or not somebody who owns a pawnshop and doesn't entirely carry on their business…. Their entire business is not purchasing regulated metal, but it is part of their business. Would they potentially be included in this act if they started taking in, as a portion of their business, like in a pawnshop, regulated metals?
Hon. S. Bond: It is not our intent, and I think the bill clearly articulates that, to include pawnshops. This is about being aggressive with metal dealers and recyclers who
[ Page 8782 ]
are conducting business related to stolen, highly sought-after, highly critical public infrastructure materials.
Having said that, should a pawnshop, for example, and we're not aware of them…. Certainly, today what we're concerned about are metal dealers who are, in fact, receiving metal that has been stolen. I think there's a pretty good sense that there's a pretty healthy market out there for those transactions, so we're not intending to include pawnshops.
Having said that, if there were a circumstance where a pawnshop began to deal in regulated metals, there may be a requirement for that pawnshop to register. This whole process requires registration. It allows us, then, to inspect and to do a number of other things. But again, our primary target here is those metal dealers who are continuing to receive these metals. It is not to include — by intention, at least, specifically — pawnshops.
K. Corrigan: Thank you. I appreciate that. I am just trying to understand clearly how this act would interface with other acts and how it would interface with the world where these people are dealing.
I guess, then, my question to the minister is: do we have some idea of what amount of buying and selling of metals would qualify somebody to meet the definition of a metal dealer or a recycler under the act?
Hon. S. Bond: In fact, from our perspective, it's not the quantity of metal that is actually being dealt with. The bill references carrying on business as a metal dealer, and again, the courts would ultimately determine whether or not there was a significant interest.
But it is about proportionality. This is not about a casual occurrence at a pawnshop. This is about those businesses that carry on business as metal dealers and recyclers, and it would need to be a significant part of their business operations.
K. Corrigan: Well, you can see why I'm asking the questions, because there are a lot of pawnshops. As the minister has said, people that are buying and selling — those that are not being honest that are selling or buying metal — will be as creative as they possibly can be.
I'm just trying to really tie down where somebody would qualify as having to meet the regulations. I'll be interested to see what the regulations are as far as pawnshops. I'm sorry that we don't know that today, because I could certainly see that if somebody thought that they weren't going to get around these tough regulations, they could conceivably say: "Well, look, here's another way that I can get rid of this stuff."
What you want to know with a law before it's passed is that there will be as few grey areas as there can be. If we don't know what substantial means or if we don't know what is a substantial portion of their business or how much metal would qualify, then it leaves it open to supposition.
So the dealers themselves, the pawnshop owners themselves, may not know whether they need to be registered. They could potentially be in the situation where they could be accepting more and more metal as people move to the pawnshops and say: "Well, look, here's another way that I can do this." And then they don't know whether or not they need to be covered and be registered or not.
I think that's unfortunate, but I'm wondering if the minister has any comment on that.
Hon. S. Bond: As I've answered previously, the intent of this bill is not to deal with pawnshops directly. The intent of the bill is to allow for enough flexibility that should a circumstance emerge where a pawnshop was behaving like a metal dealer…. I mean, scrap metal yards….
First of all, you need to have a pretty big capacity to actually manage some of the metal items that are dropped off. They are different in nature than a pawnshop. So this is not explicitly about pawnshops, but it is about the flexibility to….
As the circumstances evolve, if there is a pawnshop beginning to act as a metal dealer, and there would be a number of things that would need to be considered before that would happen, then there is the flexibility to have that particular business register as part of this regulatory regime. But the intent of this bill is to deal with metal dealers and recyclers.
K. Corrigan: I appreciate that, but the minister has said it doesn't depend on the amount of metal, and it's not clear what percentage of business or that there's no set amount. So I think it does leave it somewhat open.
I haven't been to a scrap dealer, I must admit, or metal dealers before, so I don't know what the scale is. But when you get to the point that sometimes just pounds of metal in any given transaction might be worth the while of a thief, particularly one that has a quick opportunity, I can see that this grey line could become problematic, particularly if the regulatory framework here is tougher than it is with pawnshops.
I'm just trying to ask questions to figure out where that line could be crossed and how it would be dealt with. I think that pawnshop owners also might have the question about "Do I or do I not have to register and at what point?" — and perhaps other businesses as well. I do appreciate that a lot of thought has gone into this bill. I'm just trying to really tie down where the problems could be and where there could be challenges.
I don't know if the minister wants to respond on that, but that's all I have on that section.
Hon. S. Bond: No, just a brief comment. What the member opposite sees as a grey area and a grey line, we see as
[ Page 8783 ]
flexibility. This is not a science. This is an art. We're trying to find a way where it has previously been unsuccessful in terms of shutting down the market for stolen metals that put people's lives at risk in British Columbia. We are the first jurisdiction in Canada to work at trying to regulate and to shut down this market.
There does need to be some flexibility as we assess the circumstances, but the primary target of this bill are those individuals who operate as metal dealers and are continuing to encourage both the theft and the sale of stolen property.
K. Corrigan: I know that this is looking ahead to a further section, but it is relevant to what I've been asking — just to clarify that the person or a company that decides whether or not one needs to register under this act is the individual dealer. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: The onus is on the dealer to register. And I think it is important to put on the record, and it's a good reminder, that there are many metal dealers who today are voluntarily complying with these kinds of expectations anyway. So it is really important that we don't assume that everyone who's involved as a metal dealer or recycler is behaving inappropriately. It's a very important note.
In terms of the member's question — and we need to do more education — we're going to spend some time making sure the industry understands the responsibility here. But the onus is on the individual dealer.
The Chair: Member — and on section 2, since most of the questions seem to do with the purchase.
K. Corrigan: Well, it's about not "sell" — yes. We were talking about identification and the presenting of identification. But I certainly agree that we have veered off a little bit, so perhaps I don't have another question on section 2.
Section 2 approved.
On section 3.
K. Corrigan: Section 3 provides that "A metal dealer or recycler must not purchase regulated metal from a person unless, at the time of the transaction, the person complies with the requirements of section 2" — i.e., that they provide the identification that is required.
Okay, so this also provides that the identification that is presented has to be legitimate, essentially, and that it hasn't been defaced and so on. And the onus is upon the dealer or recycler to make sure that it is legitimate identification. I'm wondering if the minister would explain what would be reasonable measures to ensure that the identification presented is appropriate.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, the key word in the section is "reasonable" — reasonable efforts, reasonable measures. I think most business people certainly, I would assume, take the opportunity to look to see if the person's picture matches the picture ID they present, whether or not it's obviously fraudulent. We don't expect them to be detectives, and that's why we're suggesting that they need to take reasonable measures to ensure that as best as they can tell, the identification is not fraudulent.
K. Corrigan: Because I'm not entirely familiar with this business, I'm wondering if the minister can tell me what the change is here. If somebody was to go to a metal recycler or dealer now, what would the requirements be when they wanted to sell? Would they be required to provide identification similar to what's in this act?
Hon. S. Bond: Again, as I alluded to earlier, there certainly are metal dealers who do actually ask for identification. In fact, there are municipalities where there are bylaws in place, two of which I mentioned — Surrey and Burnaby — where ID is requested and required. It's laid out in the bylaw.
The reason that we're actually looking at provincial regulation is because there is an enormous inconsistency. In fact, we have been asked by the Union of B.C. Municipalities to provide a provincial set of expectations around these very basic, reasonable expectations around a transaction.
In essence, some bylaws require it. Some metal dealers would certainly comply with that, but there are large and vast areas of British Columbia where there are no bylaws in place.
K. Corrigan: Right. So in those areas where there are no bylaws, then, presumably just the general law with regard to transactions at this time would apply. That means that in some places somebody could simply take metal to a dealer or recycler and not provide any identification at all. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: Well, that's probably very true, and that's our concern. Our goal here is to be able to stop the market, to shut down the market. The only way we can do that or one of the most significant ways we can do that is, for example, if you don't ask for ID, you will be expected to ask for ID now. Our thinking behind this is: no ID, no sale.
It does mean that we need to monitor for compliance, and certainly, we are planning to do that. Yes, there are probably a large number of dealers where there is no requirement for identification, no transaction records. But again, I want to be very careful to note that there are also municipalities that have bylaws, and there are also metal dealers and recyclers who understand the importance of
[ Page 8784 ]
doing business in an appropriate way and are doing that.
K. Corrigan: I also think that it's important — I agree with the minister — to point out that the vast majority, I'm sure, of metal dealers and recyclers in this province are highly ethical business people and that the intention of this bill is to get at those who may well be in the small minority but unfortunately are creating a completely disproportionate amount of financial inconvenience, cost and, of course, safety concerns.
So I just wanted to agree absolutely with the minister on that — that most dealers, I'm sure, are very ethical in the work that they do.
The next subsection says:
"A metal dealer or recycler must not purchase (a) metallic wire that reasonably appears to have had insulation or casing removed from it, or (b) regulated metal that bears distinguishing or identifying marks indicating ownership of the metal by any of the following: (i) a local authority; (ii) a public utility or…(iii) a prescribed entity, unless the person selling the metallic wire or regulated metal provides proof of ownership of the property."
I'm wondering if the minister could explain what that proof could consistent of, because those, I'm sure, are those situations that have created grief in some cases. I'm wondering what level of proof somebody would have to provide if they were selling metallic wire or regulated metal that fell under those two sub-subsections.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, the test is about being reasonable. For example, a bill of sale may be something that would be useful as identification. If it is, for example, a legitimate transaction, if it's wire coming from TELUS, it's possible that there could be a letter from TELUS saying that this material belongs to TELUS, and this is a person that's bringing it on their behalf.
I think the fact that if a person shows up with metallic wire that appears to have been burned to remove insulation…. I'm thinking that probably it's pretty reasonable to make some assumptions about that. But we want this to be reasonable, and transactions take place in British Columbia every day where people are expected to show some proof of ownership.
It's not meant to be onerous; it's meant to be reasonable. Again, I think we're attempting to build regulation that has a degree of common sense attached to it.
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering, in framing this legislation, whether the staff and the minister came to know whether or not…. Is there a significant market of organizations like TELUS or the other potential sources — public authorities or companies like TELUS — that do, over time, recycle, get rid of wiring?
I'm thinking in terms of just automatically replacing it over time so that you could end up having a significant amount of wire that legitimately would come to a metal dealer or recycler from exactly those sources that we're talking about — a local authority or public utility — or could have had the insulation or casing removed from it but would be expected and actually predictable and usual and perhaps a substantial source of metal that comes to these dealers or recyclers.
Hon. S. Bond: Of course, there will be legitimate transactions that take place in British Columbia, and recycling of wire and other items is done by public authorities and TELUS, for example. It's a matter of them establishing a relationship, providing reasonable identification and for those transactions to continue. So we absolutely believe and know that there is a legitimate place for transactions to recycle or for metal dealers to be engaged in.
What we're attempting to do here is single out those transactions which put public safety at risk and, in fact, in our view are extremely dangerous. We're trying to shut down the market that is not legal and deal with….
Again, there are metal dealers who have very good relationships with organizations. We understand that TELUS may use one metal dealer or recycler for their particular products. Again, it's a matter of establishing a legitimate and transparent business transaction. Certainly, we don't have concerns about those transactions.
K. Corrigan: Just as part of this, trying to figure out what the real world looks like that this section and this act are going to be operating under, is there out there a kind of list of rogue dealers? And how widespread is the problem? Are we talking five or ten, or are we talking 20 or 50 or 100 dealers that perhaps are not behaving in an ethical way and using good practices?
Hon. S. Bond: The member earlier referenced a letter that TELUS had sent to Members of the Legislative Assembly, and I think that in their letter it's very compelling. They talk about the rapid increase in the amount of theft that has occurred. They have lost literally millions of dollars this year already.
More importantly, I think, from their perspective and certainly from ours is the impact it has on critical infrastructure. When 911 goes down in our province, we'd better take that seriously, and that has been a recurring situation.
We don't have a list. Our goal in this legislation is to better inform legitimate metal dealers and recyclers and work with them and educate them about the new registration that will be required. Our goal here is to create a major disincentive for people to consider selling — to stealing in the first place. And the way we do that is by shutting down their ability to sell the product.
So in fact our goal is to create disincentives. No ID means no sale, so from that perspective we don't have a list of sort of bad actors. We're certainly aware of some
[ Page 8785 ]
of the people who are very pleased in the metal dealer sector, who see this as levelling the playing field. They operate with the proper principles and appropriately every day of the week, and they want to make sure that those bad actors who don't are dealt with, just like we do.
Section 3 approved.
On section 4.
K. Corrigan: Section 4 provides that "If a metal dealer or recycler or any of its employees has reasonable grounds to believe that regulated metal in the possession of the metal dealer or recycler is stolen property, the metal dealer or recycler or the employee, as applicable, must immediately inform the local police authority of the fact."
That makes perfect sense. So my question to the minister on this one is, again: how would the recycler or the dealer or the employee decide what reasonable grounds were?
Hon. S. Bond: I think recently we have seen some fairly obvious circumstances where we think that it would be common sense. I mean, if a person drives in with a TELUS phone booth strapped to their roof, which we've actually seen happen, I am assuming that the metal dealer might stop for a moment and wonder where that came from.
Please don't do that, member opposite. I am trying to say that with a very straight face. It's true. It did happen.
I'm assuming we would apply the test of common sense.
In addition to that, one thing I am aware of is the fact that metal dealers know their business. So I am confident that they would very clearly be able to identify when there are circumstances that would make something…. At least there would be a reasonable expectation that this was stolen property.
The other way, which is important, is if they've heard this afternoon that 911 is down, there's probably a good chance if someone shows up with the wire and cable that they can make those assumptions.
We're just asking people to use their common sense, to be reasonable in their approach. I think there are some fairly obvious ones. We've seen recently some of those where they probably should have made a quick call to the police to say: "We think there's a pretty good likelihood that the TELUS phone booth is not a legitimate transaction."
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering if under this section on stolen property…. They "must immediately inform the local police authority of the fact" — and then at that point no further obligation, I would take. No requirement that they hold the person or do any of those kinds of things. It's simply informing the police, and that's the end of the obligations.
Hon. S. Bond: That's correct.
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering, in framing this act, how the minister was looking at how this would fit in with the Criminal Code of Canada. I haven't looked at the Criminal Code too much recently. But what are the obligations of a merchant, either somebody dealing with a metal dealer or recycler or anybody else, if they have reasonable grounds to believe that somebody is trying to sell them stolen property? What are the obligations that they have under the Criminal Code presently?
Hon. S. Bond: There are offences in the Criminal Code that do deal with dealing with stolen property, but in fact, that is federal law. This is not about creating any additional…. And we aren't in a position to be able to do that. But that would then require the police to engage in a certain process. You'd need a warrant. You'd need to go through a process to determine that.
The fact of the matter is there are offences. They are federal. They are Criminal Code offences. But this is simply about common sense, good practice. If there's a reasonable understanding or expectation that this may have been stolen property, it's in their best interest to report that to the police authority.
K. Corrigan: Yeah, I was just asking because there's always a certain amount of sensitivity and concern about jurisdiction. My understanding in terms of areas of jurisdiction is that if the criminal law or a federal law has occupied the space, the provincial jurisdiction can't occupy the space. I don't imagine that there's a huge conflict here. But I was just wondering, just trying to figure out how the two fit together.
Does the minister know, then, I guess, would exactly these circumstances be covered by the Criminal Code of Canada? In other words, if somebody came in with some metal and it appeared to be stolen property, would the recycler or the metal dealer have a Criminal Code obligation to do exactly what it is that is being required under this section, section 4, and inform the local police authority of that fact?
Hon. S. Bond: There are no obligations in our bill that are linked to the Criminal Code. In fact, the minute this…. If, for example, someone had a reasonable understanding that this was stolen property and they reported that to a police authority, it would then become a criminal matter dealt with by the police authority. But there is nothing in our bill that is obligatory in regard to the Criminal Code.
K. Corrigan: What I was specifically trying to get at…. Is the minister saying that there is no Criminal Code requirement, then, that somebody reports, informs the
[ Page 8786 ]
local police authority if they believe that they have stolen property being given to them or that they already have?
Hon. S. Bond: Actually, the debate is not about the Criminal Code, and I can't answer that question.
Section 4 approved.
On section 5.
K. Corrigan: So, this is really the guts of how information, transaction information, is going to be kept with the metal dealer and recycler and how it's going to be potentially provided to the police — this and the following sections.
I'm wondering if the minister could explain how it is that under this act it was decided that this scheme was going to be the one that was used. So the idea of this is: at the time that somebody purchases a regulated metal, then the metal dealer or recycler has to assign a customer code to the transaction and record very specific information about the metal, the date, the time, the value, the person who they're conducting the transaction with, the customer code that's assigned to them and any other prescribed information.
Is this the type of scheme that was used in some of the bylaws, or if not, how did we end up with this particular way of keeping the information?
Hon. S. Bond: Yes. In fact, we did look at bylaws that exist, and we also talked to the Privacy Commissioner. Again, more work will be done with the commissioner during the creation of the regulations. But we looked at current bylaws. We looked at information from the Privacy Commissioner and basically took what we believed to be best practice in creating the regulatory regime.
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering if the minister could just flesh that out a little bit. The idea, it seems to me from looking at this, is that what will happen is that somebody would bring in some metal to the dealer or recycler, they would provide all the information that is required, the recycler or dealer would note all of this information, and then they would assign a customer code to that individual. They would have in possession with them all the specific information that would identify the individual, but the code would be attached to that individual, and that code, then, would be the information that could be forwarded — and the information. But why is a code attached to them? Maybe the minister could explain the scheme just a bit more.
Hon. S. Bond: Yes, there is a separation of information. Obviously, section 5(1)(b) outlines the information requirements that are specific to the metal goods, and section 5(2) sets the requirements specific to the person, the seller transacting the metal.
So in fact there will be a unique identifier code attached to the individual, and what it allows is for the information about the metal to be transmitted to the police authority with that unique code. If there is a circumstance where there is metal that has been stolen or missing or there is some issue, the police have the opportunity to see the connection between the transaction and the metal, while protecting the privacy of the individual until such point that there is a warrant, if necessary. If there is a match, the police would still be required to get a warrant to get the personal information from the individual.
The other thing that's important to note is that the ability to transmit that information with a code attached to it allows the police to look for patterns if there is a person who comes back more than once or frequently. That also allows important information without revealing the personal information of the individual. Again, if that information is going to be required, it would require a warrant on behalf of the police authority.
K. Corrigan: This must have been an interesting section to construct, and I have to say that I actually think it has been well done. It's very difficult to try to protect privacy while at the same time getting the information to the police.
I'm wondering if there were any of the pieces that are in section (2) that the minister or the ministry grappled with putting into section (1), which would be information that would be forwarded to the police, that ended up being in section (2) because of either discussions with the Privacy Commissioner or just concerns about privacy. Was it a difficult thing to do to separate (1) and (2), and if so, where were those points of concern?
Hon. S. Bond: I think it's fair to say that we have adjusted or responded to the concerns expressed about the protection of privacy by the Privacy Commissioner. We want to ensure, again, that we are minimizing any risk of challenge. It's a combination of receiving information and adjusting the type of information and data that we expect to be collected. In fact, in some cases it's less than what is currently expected in municipal bylaws.
We looked at bylaws. We spoke to the Privacy Commissioner and believe that this is a reasonable combination of the information from both of those sources.
K. Corrigan: I was just thinking that one of the things that the minister mentioned that the police could do when they get the information, through these codes, of the types of transaction is that there could be trends. But one of the things that could thwart that would be if somebody were to sell and then resell. For example, with (c) "the origin of the regulated metal as stated by the person
[ Page 8787 ]
selling the metal," if it goes through a number of people, it might be hard to identify those trends.
I'm wondering if there is concern that some trends of disreputable dealers might be covered up by the fact that people could sell and resell, for example, as would be covered by subsection (2)(c).
Hon. S. Bond: In this section we're looking at the transaction at the point of time when they're on the doorstep of the dealer. That question, we believe, fits and is relevant to the transaction as it occurs right in the dealer's shop or front yard.
K. Corrigan: The situation I was thinking of is whether or not those who are being creative, and we've agreed there can be much creativity in a life of crime…. Whether or not there could be selling and reselling in order to try to cover up the trends….
I know there is the earlier obligation to report suspected stolen property under section 4. What obligations do the dealers and recyclers of metal have under this act to identify to the authorities what they see as possible trends? Is there a requirement for that, or is it up to the police to identify what trends there might be?
Hon. S. Bond: No. The bill is to intended to regulate the transaction. Anything the police authority may want to do when they receive that information is certainly not implied in the bill or in the legislation. The requirement is simply to pass on the information. Again, though, it may be a helpful tool for police authorities.
K. Corrigan: The personal information. There is no prescription about how that information is to be stored or kept, or in what form — whether it needs to be electronic. It says in a further section that the information must be "in the prescribed manner and form." But we don't have any knowledge now of what that form is going to be or how that information has to be kept and stored.
Hon. S. Bond: Those are precisely the discussions we've committed to have with the Privacy Commissioner so that we meet the test of expectations regarding freedom of information and protection of privacy. We have outlined the framework, and we've made a commitment to discuss those very questions with the Privacy Commissioner.
K. Corrigan: It does relate to section 7, but section 5 sets out the transaction information, so I guess I'll ask the question now.
You know, it's troubling, because once again we have an example under this act of where the details — often the devil is in the details — are yet to be worked out. So the details about how this information is going to be stored, what form it's going to be stored in, what the requirements are to satisfy privacy requirements, what those are going to be…. We don't get to talk about them. It's unfortunate, because I think those are exactly the kind of questions that we like to discuss, like to have access to the minister to talk about these things and ask questions in the House.
What we are being told is that we have the act here, but the very important provisions that relate to storage, maintenance and privacy issues…. We're not going to get a chance to ask questions about that, because the rules haven't been written yet.
Hon. S. Bond: I'm sorry that the member opposite is troubled, but we are going to be very careful about the creation of the regulation. I am hopeful she would take comfort in the fact that we're going to do that in partnership with the Privacy Commissioner. I am sure we will work carefully with her to ensure that privacy is protected as appropriately as possible.
The other issue that we have offered to work on with the Privacy Commissioner is to help share appropriate information with the metal dealers to help them understand their obligations under the Personal Information Protection Act to protect personal information. I think it's become very clear to us that there may not be as broad a knowledge about the current expectations around personal information.
So this is an opportunity for us, first of all, to ensure that we are not in a position to find that the way information is protected is challenged, by working closely with the commissioner. Secondly, it gives us the opportunity to provide more broad-based education and opportunities for metal dealers to ensure they understand their current obligations and any new ones that might exist.
K. Corrigan: Yes, but I do repeat my concern. I appreciate that the work is being done with the Privacy Commissioner, but I see under subsection 2(f) that "any other prescribed information" is included as information that must be collected and recorded.
It's frustrating to stand in this House and find out there's enough work that has been done to bring this bill forward, and yet the work about very important details of what information is going to be collected and how the information is going to be stored…. The minister herself has said it requires important work with the Privacy Commissioner and therefore is obviously sensitive and must be very carefully dealt with. We don't have a chance because that work has not been completed. We don't get a chance to talk about it in this House.
I'm wondering if the minister can explain why it is that the work hasn't already been done before the bill is brought so that we can have a better understanding in the House.
[ Page 8788 ]
Hon. S. Bond: Again, the member should be reassured that the person who is responsible for the freedom-of-information and protection-of-privacy matters in British Columbia will be the person who helps us work our way through the regulations that are created.
I think that should bring a great degree of comfort in knowing we will be held to the standards that the Privacy Commissioner expects and that these regulations will not be implemented until there is that agreement, which we made with her office, to ensure that the information is appropriate, is collected and is stored in an appropriate manner.
B. Ralston: The minister has mentioned the Privacy Commissioner. I know that her colleague the Minister of Citizens' Services has mentioned in the implementation of Bill 3 that she, too, will be relying on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
Now, as the minister is aware, the budget for the Privacy Commissioner is approved or not by the Finance Committee, and these additional duties on what is an independent office will obviously require further funding.
What is the alternative plan to vet these proposed changes should her colleagues — her government colleagues, the majority on the Finance Committee — not approve any additional money for that budget? Certainly, some of the rhetoric we hear from the Chair of that committee would suggest there is an intention, perhaps, not to approve further increases to the budgets of statutory officers.
Hon. S. Bond: I'm not sure that's within the scope of relevant debate at the moment — the budget of the commissioner. But we should be clear. The Privacy Commissioner asked to work with us, and we are happy to comply with her request, recognizing how important it is that we get this right. So we're happy to comply and work very closely with her on this file.
B. Ralston: What the minister has said is that the implementation of this section will rely upon comment and assistance from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. So what is the alternative plan, should the Privacy Commissioner be unable to perform or give that assistance due to budgetary constraints that may be imposed upon her office?
Hon. S. Bond: Again, we're not here to debate the budget of the Privacy Commissioner. I quote from her letter: "We request the opportunity to comment on any regulations that would prescribe information that a metal dealer or recycler must include in the transaction record and that would prescribe the form and manner of the customer code."
That's in a letter that was sent to me on October 5 — actually, to my deputy. I want to get that correctly on the record — sent to the Deputy Solicitor General on October 5, a direct request from the Privacy Commissioner, which we intend to comply with.
B. Ralston: Well, I don't think the minister has answered my question. However, the Privacy Commissioner may view her budget at the present time as adequate; it is a subject of debate. The budget that she anticipates may not be forthcoming, therefore requiring her to curtail some of those activities which are not, strictly speaking, within the ambit of her jurisdiction as an independent officer of the Legislature.
Commenting on legislation before the House is one thing, but commenting on the implementation of legislation afterwards, as far as I'm aware, is not part of her jurisdiction. It would seem to be a supplement to her jurisdiction that would require further expenditure from her office. What is the minister's alternate plan to have these changes vetted, should the Privacy Commissioner not be able to carry out the duties that she claims she'll be able to perform in the letter that the minister has just proffered?
Hon. S. Bond: I articulated it in the last two questions and answered them. The Privacy Commissioner actually requested the opportunity to participate in this process. We're going to comply with that request, and I'm sure that at an appropriate time in the Legislature there will be debate about the budget of the Privacy Commissioner. That would not be included in this bill.
K. Corrigan: I just want to reiterate my concern — because it's going to come up again in the next section as well — that we don't know what the other information is going to be.
I just don't understand. Maybe the minister could explain it to me again. If this is a necessary and very sensitive part — obviously, because the Privacy Commissioner is involved — of the act, why is it…? If we can come up with, in section 5(1)(b), a list of things that are important to have included in the records — the date and time of the transaction and the total value of the transaction, and so on — then why is it that we have to have "any other prescribed information"? And why is it that we need to have "any other prescribed information" under section 2(f)?
It seems to me this is work that should have been done and could have been done in advance of bringing this bill forward so that we understood exactly what it was that needed to be reported under section 5(1), in which case it will be kept by the dealer, or it'll be forwarded in 5(2), in which it's going to be kept by the dealer. Why was this work not completed prior to this bill being brought forward?
Hon. S. Bond: We've articulated on a number of occasions that in fact we've looked at the bylaws that are in
[ Page 8789 ]
place, and there are different requirements in bylaws that have been created in municipalities. The Privacy Commissioner has requested the opportunity, and we appreciate that opportunity to work with her. In fact, the work will be done before the regulations are finalized.
But again, there are variations in the bylaws that have been created. There are a number of pieces of information that are required in various bylaws. We are looking at those bylaws. We are looking at those variables. We're going to take advice and recommendations from the Privacy Commissioner, and all of those will be incorporated in the regulations that are created.
K. Corrigan: I'm not sure I've gotten an answer that I find satisfactory, because what I'm saying is that we have a list of things here that needed to be provided, information that needed to be part of the record, under both section 5(1) and section 5(2).
My question was: why is it that we don't…? This is obviously very sensitive. If we can get all those things listed already that must be included under both those sections, why is it that we couldn't get a complete list that would end up in the act? Obviously, it was possible to list all of these thing in the act as opposed to regulation. Why could we not get a complete list so that we could discuss it in this House?
Hon. S. Bond: Well, as much as the member would like a different answer, the answer is the same. We are looking at the commonality in the bylaws that have been created. We're also looking at the variations, and in regulation we will consider the list of identification that's required in a variety of ways.
We're also going to continue our dialogue with the Privacy Commissioner. When that work is complete, we will create regulations based on both the work that has been done by municipalities and advice from the Privacy Commissioner.
K. Corrigan: But the unfortunate thing about it, this important work that is going to be done with the Privacy Commissioner, is that we're never going to get a chance to discuss it in the House. It seems to me, as I've said, this is something that could have been discussed in the House if the work was completed before the bill was brought forward to us. But I guess that's the answer I'm going to get, and so I won't ask another question about that section.
Section 5 approved.
On section 6.
K. Corrigan: Section 6 provides that "A metal dealer or recycler must, for each transaction, provide the information referred to in section 5 (1) (b)" — which is what we've already talked about — "to the local police authority within the prescribed period of time and in the prescribed manner and form."
So again we have a section where we don't know how and when the information is going to be provided to the police. I'm wondering if the minister could explain why it is that that can't have been in the act.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, it's a matter of providing a framework for making sure that we can shut down the market for metal thieves in British Columbia. When it talks about the time, the manner and form in which the information is transferred to police….
Again, if we create in legislation the requirement for a specific format, it means that as technology emerges, for example, we would have to march back to the Legislature to actually debate whether or not we should move from paper-based or from a certain form of technology or…. You know, this is about being aggressive with metal thieves but being flexible enough to address in regulation those things that may need to change from time to time without a trip to the Legislature.
K. Corrigan: The minister knows how important those of us on this side of the House and many other organizations have felt it is to understand how information, particularly very personal information, is kept stored, how it's provided to the police. We've had discussions about PRIME-BC. While I appreciate that the information about the actual identity of the people involved in these transactions is not going to be in that information, nevertheless, there is a great deal of interest in ensuring that information is dealt with in an appropriate way.
I think it's unfortunate that the decision is that this information is going to come later, that the decisions that are going to be made are going to come later. I mean, it's always possible that it could go into the act in the form of what we understand now, and then simply say "or any other prescribed form." That provides the flexibility for the future, if there needs to be.
But to have it in this manner right here…. We have absolutely no idea. Obviously, the decision hasn't even been made yet, so we don't know how this information is going to be recorded, maintained and transmitted. It is very unfortunate, because as I've said many times with this act, the decisions are going to be made by cabinet behind closed doors, and there's not going to be a chance to examine that in this House. I think that's very unfortunate.
Hon. S. Bond: It might be nice to continue to talk about decisions made behind closed doors. I've said repeatedly in the Legislature that the decisions will be made with the person responsible for the protection of privacy in British Columbia, the Privacy Commissioner. Again, we want to be practical in legislation as well.
[ Page 8790 ]
The member opposite suggests we could just simply put in "or any other prescribed form." Well, we've just spent the past two hours debating how that wouldn't be sufficient, either. So in fact, what we're saying is: here are the basic principles. We are going to consult and work with the Privacy Commissioner, with the industry and with municipalities to ensure that our regulations conform to the expectations that are laid out by the Privacy Commissioner — not behind closed doors, not anywhere else.
We need to be clear about what we've said here. We're going to talk to the Privacy Commissioner, work closely with her, with industry and with municipalities to create regulations that protect privacy but allow us to share information that will shut down the market for metal thieves in our province.
K. Corrigan: Yes, I appreciate that the minister is going to be having those discussions with municipalities, that the minister is going to be talking to the Privacy Commissioner. But ultimately, the decision about how that information is going to be maintained and transmitted to the police is going to be made behind closed doors. It's going to be made in cabinet, and it's not going to be examined in this House.
This is the people's House where democracy examines and where we consider legislation and where we consider the things that the government does. That is not going to happen.
Sections 6 and 7 approved.
On section 8.
K. Corrigan: This part and the following sections deal with the registration of a person who carries on the business as a metal dealer or recycler. Section 8 says that a person cannot carry on business as a metal dealer or recycler unless the person is registered under this act. Actually, I guess I won't ask any questions about that, because there's not a lot to be asked. I'll wait for the next section.
Section 8 approved.
On section 9.
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering whether the expectation is that…. It says that a person who applies to the registrar — there is going to be a registrar — for registration under this act or for renewal…. There is going to be a form required by the registrar, and it's going to be accompanied by the prescribed fee, if any.
I'm wondering: is the expectation that this is going to be a cost recovery registrar and regime and that the fees will cover the costs of this regulatory scheme?
Hon. S. Bond: In fact, right now we are working to look at our capacity. This is not a particularly large sector at the moment. We have no interest in an onerous fee for this industry or sector.
Currently we are contemplating our ability to manage this without a fee structure in place, but we need to be prudent in the event that there is a change in the sector or we find the need to contemplate a fee. That's not being contemplated at the moment, so this is being prudent in terms of our ability to do that, if necessary.
My preference would be not to do that, if possible. This is not about being onerous on legitimate businesses in this sector. We are analyzing our ability to manage the structure within the ministry.
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering if the minister could let us know, then, what the expectation is of how many people there will be who are going to apply for registration under this act.
Hon. S. Bond: Well, partly because we've never regulated, we don't have an idea of a specific number. The range is potentially between 60 and 100.
K. Corrigan: I would note that in the next part there is the ability to enforce appointment of inspectors and so on. There must be a cost associated with all of this. I certainly don't begrudge it, but I would assume that the work had been done to figure out how much this is going to cost.
Does the minister have sort of a sense of the scale of this organization — the registrar, the appointment of inspectors and so on? Has there been a budget attached to this registrar and this scheme?
Hon. S. Bond: I think inspection is actually section 13. We're currently in section 8, but I'll answer that. Then, hopefully, we can just wheel on through that section. That's section 13.
We expect to be able to manage this process within our budget that exists today.
K. Corrigan: I think we're on section 9. I think we okayed section 8. Is that correct, Mr. Chair?
The Chair: Yes, on section 9.
K. Corrigan: Okay, we're on section 9.
Somebody is going to apply to the registrar. Who is going to set this up, I guess? Is it the ministry who is going to set this up and appoint the registrar and so on? How is this going to work?
[D. Black in the chair.]
[ Page 8791 ]
Hon. S. Bond: We currently have a registrar that deals with security. I'm sorry. I'm just going to check the titles. I want to make sure we get it correct.
We currently have a registrar of security services. We also have inspectors that deal with issues like body armour and a number of other important tasks. We believe that we will be able to manage because of the size of the sector — somewhere between 60 and 100, as we've mentioned. Again, we don't know the specific numbers. We intend to be able to manage this with the same structure that's in place in the ministry.
K. Corrigan: Okay. So the expectation is that the registrar of security services will also be the registrar for registration under this act? I just want to confirm that.
Hon. S. Bond: That's correct.
K. Corrigan: So that registrar will then decide whether or not there will be a fee. Is it the registrar that will decide whether or not there will be a fee, and the form and so on of what registration application and renewal is going to look like?
Hon. S. Bond: The fee would be a prescribed fee. So in fact it would go through a process. The registrar wouldn't make that decision. There are fees currently in place with the body armour act and a number of other important pieces of legislation, so the fee is prescribed. Certainly, we believe that we have the personnel and the structure in place to take the Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act and implement it with an existing structure in the ministry.
K. Corrigan: Just to be clear, when you say it's a prescribed fee, then the fee would be set by regulation that would be approved by cabinet. Is that correct?
The Chair: Minister?
K. Corrigan: Actually, I don't have any more questions on that section.
Section 9 approved.
On section 10.
K. Corrigan: This one says: "The registrar may, on application" — to be registered — "under section 9, grant registration or renewal of registration for a period not exceeding the prescribed period." So again, I guess that the period that somebody can be registered for is going to be decided by cabinet. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: That will be done by regulation.
K. Corrigan: Just to be clear, when a regulation is done, that's approved by cabinet and not by this House. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: That would be the practice.
K. Corrigan: Subsections (2) and (3) say that the registrar can "(a) impose…terms and conditions that the registrar considers appropriate, and (b) amend or remove a term or a condition of a registration." And they must provide reasons for that, if there are terms and conditions.
I'm wondering if the minister could explain what kinds of terms and conditions this particular subsection envisions and what kinds of situations this would apply to.
Hon. S. Bond: Some of the examples that we can think of are, for example, if there is evidence that information is not being stored correctly, that perhaps staff or the dealer doesn't have enough information about the protection of personal information — those kinds of things. Conditions could be added by the registrar to require that there be additional work or training or better protection practices and those kinds of things — very practical things that the registrar could look at in terms of observing that perhaps there's an improved way to do business.
K. Corrigan: Well, I appreciate that flexibility, and I think that's a positive thing, but it's interesting, the example that the minister has raised — that evidence is not being stored correctly — which gets back to the concern that I expressed earlier. We don't know what those rules are going to be, because they're going to be encased, and they're going to come in, in regulation. Unfortunately, we won't get a chance to look at that, and apparently, that is an important provision, because there are provisions here in order to address those kinds of concerns.
Section 10 approved.
On section 11.
K. Corrigan: This talks about terms and conditions of every registration, not specific ones to an individual dealer or recycler. It says: "(a) a registrant must report to the registrar, within 10 days of its occurrence, (i) a change in the registrant's business address, and (ii) a change in any prescribed information."
I'm wondering if the minister could give me some idea of what kind of information we might be talking about that we don't know about yet because the rules haven't been made.
[ Page 8792 ]
Hon. S. Bond: I took a little bit longer to get up because I'm not sure what needs to be clarified. When the information is clearly outlined in terms of what is required for registration, if there's a change in that information, they would be expected to provide that new information.
K. Corrigan: The second part of the section says: "(b) a registrant must comply (i) with this Act and the regulations, and (ii) with the terms and conditions of the registrant's registration." And (c) says: "any other prescribed terms and conditions."
Again, just pointing out that there's so much in this act that we do not know how it's going to operate. I simply don't understand why it is that this House is not getting this information prior to the act being brought forward so that we can have a discussion about what exactly the operation of this act is going to look like.
Section 11 approved.
On section 12.
K. Corrigan: Section 12 talks about the "Refusal, suspension or termination of registration" and that "the registrar may refuse to grant registration or renewal if any of the following apply" — if "the applicant or registrant fails in any way to comply with, or does not meet the requirements of, section 9." So that is going through the application process, which we don't know about yet because it hasn't been decided, or if they don't meet those standards and if the registrar believes that "the registrant has contravened a provision of this Act, the regulations or a term or condition of the registration."
Under this one, somebody's registration, basically, can be cancelled or it can fail to be renewed if somebody doesn't comply with the act. It says that the registrar must hold a hearing before a decision is made and "provide the applicant or registrant written reasons for the decision."
I'm wondering if the minister can tell me what the form of that hearing is and what that's going to look like.
Hon. S. Bond: The provision for a hearing, actually, is replicated from the Body Armour Control Act, and it does require that there be an explanation provided and a hearing opportunity. It's interesting to note that in the Body Armour Control Act that hearing can take the form of an oral hearing. It can also be done electronically, and by that, it could include things like video conferencing — those kinds of things.
There certainly is an intent for there to be due process here and have the opportunity for the circumstances to be explained, for the individual to have their opportunity to respond to that. So it does replicate what happens with the Body Armour Control Act.
K. Corrigan: Thank you for that. I'm wondering: would somebody then, for example, at those hearings have the ability to be represented by legal counsel?
Hon. S. Bond: That wouldn't be precluded.
K. Corrigan: Are those hearings done in public, or are they private? What is the setup for those hearings?
Hon. S. Bond: Perhaps the best way to describe it is that it is not publicly posted but it is not a closed event. In fact, there is a requirement to offer the opportunity. A person is notified. They can take advantage of the hearing opportunity. It is not publicly posted, but it's not closed. Someone who wanted to attend could.
K. Corrigan: I'm not sure that anybody would necessarily want to attend it, but I'm wondering: if it's not publicly posted, how would it be that somebody would know that it even existed, and therefore, how could they make the decision whether they wanted to attend or not?
Hon. S. Bond: The point, I think, is to give the person who is being impacted the opportunity for due process. It is not a closed meeting. However, there may be times where…. This is consistent with administrative law practices and principles. In fact, it follows normal administrative law principles, and the person who is impacted has the opportunity to attend. It is not publicly posted, but generally they are not closed meetings.
K. Corrigan: I appreciate that. So when you're saying it's open, presumably the person who has had their registration either refused, not renewed, cancelled or suspended could bring various people to be witnesses or whatever. Is it that kind of process?
Hon. S. Bond: I'm assured that it is.
Section 12 approved.
On section 13.
K. Corrigan: So the registrar can appoint inspectors and "impose restrictions on the powers and duties that an inspector may exercise under this Act." The minister has already probably answered some of the questions I had about this. So the understanding is, then, that these inspectors would probably be those that already fall under the ministry, under the registrar of security services, and that the expectation is that those inspectors would be the same people?
[ Page 8793 ]
Hon. S. Bond: Correct. They would certainly be the inspectors that are currently responsible for the Body Armour Control Act and the Armoured Vehicle Act.
K. Corrigan: Is it expected that there would have to be the hiring of additional inspectors in order to fulfil the duties and to do the enforcement that's needed under this act?
Hon. S. Bond: We believe that the current complement we have will be able to manage this in addition to the other work they do. It would not be out of the realm of possibility that should the capacity be exceeded, we would contemplate whether or not we needed an additional person or two. But our goal is to make this as efficient as possible, to manage it within the current structure that we have, and we don't expect this to be onerous. We want it to be reasonable, and I think that the way we've aligned this with other important acts and a process that's in place is important.
K. Corrigan: The reason I'm asking these questions is that I know there has been a lot of discussion in this House, for example, about enforcement to do with the Ministry of Environment and how thin on the ground inspectors are and the problems that that's caused. So that's why I'm asking these questions. I'm wondering if the minister knows how many inspectors there are already in place in this area.
Hon. S. Bond: Seven.
Sections 13 and 14 approved.
On section 15.
K. Corrigan: This section is the one that gives the inspector powers to inspect in order to determine whether a person is in compliance with the act or the regulation or the terms and conditions of the person's registration.
It says that they can, during normal business hours, "(a) enter and inspect the premises of a metal dealer or recycler; (b) inspect, audit or examine any record, goods or other thing in the premises; (c) demand that a document or any other thing be produced for inspection…(e) remove and retain a record or any other thing that may be required as evidence from the premises; (f) question a person." Oh, and they can "(d) remove a record or any other thing for review and copying."
I'm wondering: is this consistent with the present inspectors' powers under the Body Armour Control Act and the other act, which I can't recall the name of?
Hon. S. Bond: Yes, that's correct. In fact, in the Securities Services Act it's section 32, called "Inspection powers," and the powers that are outlined here are based on the powers that are already in place in the Security Services Act.
K. Corrigan: I would assume that these inspections could be unannounced, that they could be sort of snap inspections, so to speak — that that would be the way it would be done — or could have been by prior appointment. Is there any expectation, or is it simply as the situation demands?
Hon. S. Bond: We were just chatting briefly about this. This is really not about a confrontational approach. While the act doesn't preclude there being a surprise visit, we've found that it's far more productive to actually work constructively with the sector, whatever it is. So in fact we try to be very collaborative. It's about better education, and as we've said, many, many metal dealers and recyclers are operating in compliance with an act that didn't exist. They are using best practice already.
Our intent is not for this to be confrontational or for it to be a gotcha kind of exercise. We want to be collaborative, to work closely with the metal dealers and recyclers. But again, should it be necessary to do that on occasion, it is not precluded.
K. Corrigan: I know that, for example, in the inspection of long-term-care facilities various health authorities have various protocols that they use, and that if there's been a complaint, then somebody might…. A long-term-care facility might be inspected once a year, but if there are two or three complaints or there's a violation, then the inspections happen more often.
Is it expected that there will be regulation that will provide a minimum number of inspections or that there will be a stepping-up of inspections if there are violations? Or in this case is it going to be, essentially, up to the registrar and/or the inspectors to decide that?
Hon. S. Bond: I think it's important, and I was just reminded of that too, that what the inspectors are looking for is compliance in the recordkeeping department in particular. It's looking at making sure that proper practices are in place, that information is correctly stored — all of those kinds of things. So I think there is a different approach to those kinds of inspections.
Having said that, I think that if there were an ongoing pattern of non-compliance, I would assume the registrar might want to pay a bit more attention to some of the people who are choosing not to comply. Obviously, there are consequences for non-compliance, but what we're striving for here is actually voluntary compliance.
One of the things I have been really pleased about is that there have been metal dealers in the sector who stood up and said: "This legislation is appropriate and
[ Page 8794 ]
a long time coming. We have been acting appropriately for a long time, and now we would like to make sure that everybody else is doing that." I think the sector itself wants to ensure that there is an appropriate pattern of behaviour in place.
Our intent is for it to focus, as the bill points out, on recordkeeping, looking at compliance. It's not meant to be a combative or confrontational experience.
K. Corrigan: With regard to subsection 15(3), it says: "The authority under subsection (1)" — which is the authority to inspect and do various things — "must not be used to enter a private dwelling except with the consent of the occupant or under the authority of a warrant under section 16."
Does this subsection contemplate that the building, the place where the business is done, might also be a private dwelling?
Hon. S. Bond: We're reminded that in the definitions there is a reminder that, in fact, the business part of a dwelling can be entered, but if there is a private part of the dwelling that may be a home…. So in fact, if you are using part of your dwelling as a business, you can enter that section. But in order to go to the private section, you would have to have a warrant. The definitions actually outline the difference between a private residence and whether there is part of the structure that is used as private as opposed to business.
Section 15 approved.
On section 16.
K. Corrigan: This is the section that deals with those warrants: "…a justice may issue a warrant authorizing an inspector to, during normal business hours, enter on or into that building, receptacle or place and conduct an inspection." The justice may authorize an inspector to "(a) enter at a specified time or within a specified period of time; (b) enter by force, if necessary."
Maybe the minister could just clarify if this is the case where, either because it is private or perhaps because there has been a lack of cooperation or other problems with the inspection, a justice can give the inspector an authority to enter when there is not cooperation or when it's in a private dwelling. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: That's correct, and it also again lines up with the Security Services Act. The two acts are actually very comparable in terms of the power to both inspect and enforce.
K. Corrigan: So this one also would provide that if necessary, I guess, there could be an authorization to enter at a time other than normal business hours if it is felt or if the justice can be convinced that it's necessary to go other than normal business hours.
Hon. S. Bond: I'm assured that because this is a regulatory inspection, we're not contemplating it being in the middle of the night or anything like that. We think — certainly the advice is — that it would be at a specified time during work hours, and it would focus at a specific time during work hours. It is a regulatory inspection, and so it's to look at paperwork and things like that. We believe it's a narrower scope than looking at something extraordinary.
K. Corrigan: It looks to me like it could be out of normal business hours. It doesn't say that it can't be. But I guess what it raises more generally is the question…. Because it does say there can be an entry by force if necessary, it seems that we are moving from a congenial and sort of educational approach where…. And it's regulatory. If you're talking about force, then at some point you're moving more to a stronger enforcement regime.
I'm wondering if the minister can tell me at what point the work of the inspector would end and at what point the work of the police force would begin in terms of the specific area where you have perhaps a lack of compliance or a belief that there could be laws broken — not just this law or laws under the Offence Act but also criminal law.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, I think the emphasis here is on regulatory inspections. So where our mandate lies would be in ensuring that there's compliance with recordkeeping and paperwork. If there was a sense, and if it became evident, for example, that there was a significant criminal element involved or there may be other activities occurring, that would be beyond the scope of enforcement we would be contemplating with the inspectors that we have.
K. Corrigan: The reason why I was asking that question is particularly because the act says that "a justice may authorize an inspector to…(b) enter by force, if necessary." It seems to me that if somebody is contemplating entering a dwelling or a business by force, that goes beyond mere concern about whether or not somebody is keeping their records properly.
I'm not suggesting it's not appropriate to do that, but it does seem like a fairly severe thing for an inspector to be able to do. So I'm wondering what circumstances are contemplated by including that particular subsection in the act.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, I think the issue in looking at this act…. It needs to be looked at in tandem with the Security Services Act, because this language mirrors that
[ Page 8795 ]
act. It deals with body armour and armoured vehicles and a number of other…. I think we recognize — and I certainly know that our inspectors would — that this is a matter of common sense and whether or not using force could be defined, for example, as having a locked door. It doesn't mean that we're going to have a full SWAT team arriving at a particular dwelling.
So this is about common sense. It is a power, though, that is mirrored in other legislation, and this replicates that. We would expect that if there was a major criminal element or something of the magnitude that required significant force, obviously the police authorities would be the ones to do that, not the inspectors that we currently have.
K. Corrigan: Is it contemplated, or could it be authorized under this act, that the inspector, when they get a warrant, could go in when there is nobody in the building?
Hon. S. Bond: Certainly, there is the potential for someone after an inspector, after having received a warrant for them to potentially, I suppose, enter a building that has no one in it. But again, I guess this language mirrors the language in the Security Services Act.
We're trying to recollect if that has ever happened in terms of the work that the current inspectors do. I really want to emphasize the fact that what we are striving for is voluntary compliance. I think the metal dealers understand the importance of the regime we are putting in place. Undoubtedly there will be bad actors, and they will probably get a fair degree of attention. But our goal is voluntary compliance, and again, these provisions mirror the provisions in the Security Services Act.
K. Corrigan: I'm getting just a bit of a mixed message here, because the minister refers to body armour and armoured vehicles and this mirroring it, but that is not really the intention of this act. What I am trying to tie down is….
Let's say somebody was a bad actor, as the minister says, and there is a suspicion that records were not being kept or perhaps that they were trying to skirt the law. Not knowing whether there is criminal activity, but certainly not concerns about compliance….
It looks to me like this section provides that the inspector could get a warrant and could go in and use force if necessary, whether or not somebody is there, in order to try to retrieve the records. Now, the minister has said that is not the intention of the act. But is it not correct that this section authorizes somebody, an inspector, to do that if they wanted to, whether or not that is the intended operation of the act?
Hon. S. Bond: Clearly, this does create the power to do that, due to each of the things that are in the legislation. It's also clearly intended in the Security Services Act. I apologize if I made commentary about intended use of this.
My point is that I want to strive for voluntary compliance. So while this is a necessary element of the bill, we would rather see it not used. I think that is the attitude with which the registrar and the inspectors who currently deal with the Body Armour Act and the Armoured Vehicle Act also approach their work.
So yes, the powers are created here. My point was simply that our goal is to better educate, to level the playing field, to eliminate the market for metal thieves. Our goal is to work constructively with the metal dealers sector to ensure that they understand the regulations, the requirements and in fact to help them to be in compliance.
K. Corrigan: I agree. By far, the vast majority of dealers, I'm sure, are honest, just the way the vast majority of all businesses are honest. This will level the playing field and improve a reputation that sometimes can be harmed by a few bad apples. I certainly appreciate that.
I just wanted to be clear that particularly in the case of somebody who doesn't want to be compliant and is not cooperating, this provision does allow for an inspector to forcibly enter and presumably gather the information, even if it is just records, if they need to do that and they feel like there isn't compliance. In those odd situations, unusual situations, where somebody is not complying, there is the ability to enter by force and gather the information that perhaps somebody is not willing to provide on a voluntary basis. I just wanted to be clear about that.
Hon. S. Bond: That's only after they have obtained a warrant to do so.
Section 16 approved.
On section 17.
K. Corrigan: Section 17 provides for administrative penalties. My recollection from my earlier reading of the act is that there are two different ways there can be penalties under this act, other than injunctions and so on. There are administrative penalties, and there can also be offences committed — which is a different way of going.
The administrative penalties. The process appears to be less onerous in some ways. So this would be the registrar being able to impose an administrative penalty on the person if the person contravenes a regulation or a term or condition of the registration, which we talked about earlier.
I'm wondering if the minister can explain why it is that the decision was made to have administrative penalties. I know the minister is aware that I have asked a
[ Page 8796 ]
lot of questions before about the use of administrative processes, which are less protected by the evidentiary provisions and so on than, for example, a court is. But I'm wondering why it is that the decision was made to go this route, giving the registrar a fair amount of power without perhaps some of the protections that would be in place, for example, in a court.
[L. Reid in the chair.]
Hon. S. Bond: Again, our goal is voluntary compliance, and obviously, we are realistic enough to know that the inspectors are going to need tools to actually help them on certain occasions to bring people into compliance. We view this as an appropriate degree of flexibility for the inspector. In fact, what it allows for is an escalating approach so that if there is a pattern of non-compliance, this would allow for a series of steps in order to bring the business into compliance. So again, our preference is voluntary compliance, but we also believe there needs to be an escalating series of consequences, should compliance not be reached.
K. Corrigan: There was recently in the paper a story — quite a bit of media attention, actually — of a different type of administrative penalty, where a woman had received a roadside suspension and ended up eventually going to court. The judge agreed, basically, that her rights had been abused, that the process had been absolutely inappropriate, that the person that did the hearing with respect to her roadside suspension didn't meet the basic tests for fairness and didn't hear certain evidence, didn't consider certain evidence and so on.
The nature of the penalties is not as severe perhaps, but $5,000 is pretty severe to some people. I'm wondering what guarantees we have that procedural fairness will be ensured under this particular framework.
Hon. S. Bond: There are administrative processes that are in place in the province. Ultimately, we recognize that at the end of that process there is always still the opportunity to go through a court procedure. In fact, there is a process for procedural fairness. Some of those parameters are outlined in subsequent sections.
But I think there is also the necessity for the inspector to very seriously consider a series of things before even contemplating administrative penalty. I think section 17 clearly outlines that there are a number of things that need to be considered before the penalty is even assessed. Then the following sections, certainly, build the parameters around what needs to be a fair process.
We believe this to be consistent with administrative law principles. Ultimately, there is still the opportunity to go through a court process if there are concerns about the fairness of the process.
K. Corrigan: I just want to clarify. The minister mentioned that an inspector could do these things, but I want to be clear that the registrar is the one that can impose the administrative penalty. I just want to make sure that's correct and that cannot be delegated to an inspector.
Hon. S. Bond: Sorry. Thank you for the correction, to the member opposite. It is the registrar.
K. Corrigan: Okay, so subsection 17(5) says: "If a business entity contravenes a prescribed provision of this Act or the regulations or a term or condition of a registration, an employee, officer, director or agent of the business entity who authorized, permitted or acquiesced in the contravention is also liable under this section, whether or not an administrative penalty is imposed on the business entity."
Does this mean, then, that there could be — it seems clear that there could be — multiple penalties, that each event could be $5,000? Then the total business penalty…. It was $50,000. Wow, that's a lot. So it could add up to a lot. I mean, it could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps it wouldn't, but you could have, certainly, way more than $50,000 in penalties.
I'm wondering how it is determined and what the rules are that would say whether an individual would be assessed a penalty.
Hon. S. Bond: Yes, there is the possibility that the business entity would be fined a significant fine. That's part of the deterrent that we're putting in place.
One of the concerns, for example, in some of the bylaws that we've heard concerns about is that while the bylaws may be well written and may be working in some cases, in other cases they're not working. There have been recent stories about that, in fact. So we're trying to find a way to make it very clear that there are expectations on the buyer, on the business, and that if those are not considered, there are significant penalties.
We need to put that into the context of subsection 17(2), which actually says: "Before the registrar imposes an administrative penalty on a person, the registrar must consider the following…." It is very significant in terms of the consideration that the registrar must make — the gravity, the magnitude and whether the contravention was repeated or continuous. So there is a process that would require the registrar to be very thoughtful and deliberate in the consideration of imposing an administrative penalty.
But yes, there is the potential for significant penalties. That's part of the deterrent in the legislation.
K. Corrigan: The minister will recall that one of the areas of questioning that I had when we were looking
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at the Civil Forfeiture Amendment Act was a concern that because it provided for this more simplified process — simpler than bringing criminal proceedings to court with all of the onerous requirements in terms of evidence and the process and so on, the protections of the individual….
One of the things that I'm concerned about…. I think it's a good act, but as one of the possible outcomes of this act, I could see the possibility of decisions being made to proceed by way of the administrative penalties of this act, as opposed to bringing criminal proceedings against somebody who had in fact committed a crime.
One of the provisions of the Civil Forfeiture Act was that it didn't matter whether or not there even had been a charge brought under the Criminal Code. Somebody could still forfeit their proceeds of crime, essentially, if it was decided that it was proceeds of crime, not based on criminal law but on the lower bar, on the balance of probabilities, even the onus was then switched to the person who lost the property to prove that it hadn't been gained through the proceeds of crime.
So a similar concern here is whether or not these provisions will be used instead of the Criminal Code and that there might be a tendency to say it's easier to go this route than it is to charge somebody criminally. I don't know. I'm not commenting right now about whether that's right or wrong, but what is there to prevent us moving toward using these instead of Criminal Code prosecutions because it is easier to do it this way?
Hon. S. Bond: Clearly, if there is criminal activity involved, it will be dealt with under the Criminal Code and through the police authorities that appropriately deal with criminal activity. The purpose of this bill is to promote compliance, and administrative penalties are designed to do that. The member opposite is correct. The standard of proof that's used to reach those decisions is the balance of probability.
The comparison that was used was the Civil Forfeiture Act, for example. We have one of the most successful civil forfeiture programs in the country. There is a different standard of proof, but it is the balance of probabilities. This act is to deal with compliance. It is not to deal with the Criminal Code or criminal activity in that way. Clearly, these administrative penalties are designed to promote compliance.
K. Corrigan: I'm mentioning civil forfeiture because there are comparisons that I think are worthy of being made. What we see under the Civil Forfeiture Act is, in fact, proceedings being taken even if there isn't actually a charge under the Criminal Code. I have a concern about that, because I think there could be a tendency…. I mean, if you charge under the Criminal Code, then it costs your system a whole bunch of money.
If you have an administrative penalty, then that, apparently, is a much lower cost. The suggestion of the minister is that we won't need to add, probably, any inspectors — maybe one inspector — and that the existing registrar, who is under the security services section, would be able to handle this work. There are penalties that could be imposed, up to $50,000 or more, if there are individuals involved, and the money goes into the consolidated revenue fund, as we're going to find out in section 22.
That may not be the intention of this minister; it may not be the intention of the act, but it is possible. When there's money to be saved, I could see there being a tendency to say: "You know what? It's really hard to charge somebody criminally, but we have this other thing." There can be charges under that that will more than cover the cost of the process. So I'm not suggesting that it is the intention at all. I'm not at all suggesting that that is the intention of this framework. I'm just saying it's a danger of the framework.
The Chair: Member, your comments are referencing section 18.
Section 17 approved.
On section 18.
K. Corrigan: This just simply mentions the amounts of what those administrative penalties are. "An individual on whom an administrative penalty is imposed is liable to a penalty of not more than $5 000." And: "A business entity on which an administrative penalty is imposed is liable to a penalty of not more than $50 000." I just want to confirm that the registrar will be the person that will determine the magnitude of that penalty.
Hon. S. Bond: That's correct. And we need to also remind the member opposite that that is the maximum amount of administrative penalties, so it allows for an escalating series of consequences, if necessary.
Section 18 approved.
On section 19.
K. Corrigan: Section 19 says that there must be notice. If the registrar is going to impose an administrative penalty on a person, the registrar must give the person a notice imposing the administrative penalty that says what it was about — "(b) the amount of the penalty; (c) the date by which the penalty must be paid; (d) the person's right to have this decision reconsidered" — and an address.
My question to the minister on this section.… The right for reconsideration comes later in the act. Is that
[ Page 8798 ]
correct? I'm trying to remember. It's been a while since I read it.
Hon. S. Bond: Section 28.
K. Corrigan: So it says that the registrar must give to the person a notice administrating…. What about if the penalty is to a business entity?
Hon. S. Bond: The language here uses the word "person," and if you look at the Interpretation Act, the use of the word "person" here also includes "business."
K. Corrigan: In this case, then, that would impose on the registrar the obligation to provide the same notice to a business. Is that correct?
Hon. S. Bond: That's correct.
Section 19 approved.
On section 20.
K. Corrigan: This provision provides that the penalty must be paid within 30 days after receipt of notice, then "within 30 days, if the person requests a reconsideration of the administrative penalty under section 28, after the date on which the person receives the notice referred to in section 28 (3) (b)."
My question on that. It's probably in the same act, the Interpretation Act. Would that be 30 business days or 30 working days, or is that 30 calendar days?
Hon. S. Bond: Our lawyer advises me that it's calendar days.
K. Corrigan: I just wanted to confirm, as well, then…. Subsection (b) of this section refers to…. Essentially, if somebody had requested a reconsideration and they lose on reconsideration…. After they get the notice that they have lost on reconsideration, then that's when the 30 days start in which they have time to pay the administrative penalty. I just want to confirm that I've got that right.
Hon. S. Bond: Yes.
Section 20 approved.
On section 21.
K. Corrigan: This is enforcement of the administrative penalty so that it can be filed. It becomes a debt, essentially, and can be filed with the Supreme Court or Provincial Court. Actually, I don't have any questions on that section.
Section 21 approved.
On section 22.
K. Corrigan: I referenced this section earlier. What it says — it's a very short section — is: "The registrar must pay all amounts derived from administrative penalties into the consolidated revenue fund."
I'm wondering: have there been any thoughts on whether or not any of this money, like traffic fine sharing, should be shared with municipalities who are probably having to pay a fair amount in order to deal with businesses like this?
Hon. S. Bond: Again, this mirrors the Security Services Act, and we're not contemplating making a change.
Section 22 approved.
On section 23.
K. Corrigan: Section 23 provides that the limitation period for "a notice imposing an administrative penalty is 2 years after the date on which the contravention occurred." I understand that you need time to process things, but it seems like a long period of time. I'm wondering why the minister chose to have a period this long.
Essentially, it would seem that if somebody is not complying — if they are not providing the information that is required and you had that information; you knew that…. That seems like a long period of time in which you could impose a penalty. Essentially, 18 months later you could have a penalty imposed out of the blue, and I'm wondering why that time period was chosen.
Hon. S. Bond: Again, it is the language that is in the Security Services Act. I think it's a combination of looking at the balance. First of all, it provides an end date, which does give some certainty, but it also allows for a period of time within which a business could be brought into compliance.
Again, our number one goal is voluntary compliance. So this is, we believe, a reasonable period of time, and it is the same language that's used in other legislation.
K. Corrigan: I'm wondering if the minister could tell me…. What I could see happening is a series of stepped-up enforcement measures or trying to bring somebody in compliance and having stepped-up measures. Is it possible for the registrar to impose more than one administrative penalty on a business to do with the same set of circumstances, if that person or business does not comply?
[ Page 8799 ]
Hon. S. Bond: You could not impose two administrative penalties for the same incident. However, if there was a repetition of the same behaviour at some point beyond that, you could assign an additional administrative penalty. You also could not assign an offence and an administrative penalty for the same act.
Madam Chair, I ask that the committee rise, report progress and seek leave to sit again.
The committee rose at 6:25 p.m.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The Committee of the Whole, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. M. Polak moved adjournment of the House.
Mr. Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.
The House adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
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