2010 Legislative Session: Second Session, 39th Parliament
SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES
MINUTES AND HANSARD
SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tynehead Room 1
Sheraton Guildford Hotel, Surrey, B.C.
Present: John Les, MLA (Chair); Doug Donaldson, MLA (Deputy Chair); Norm Letnick, MLA; Don McRae, MLA; Michelle Mungall, MLA; Bruce Ralston, MLA; Bill Routley, MLA; John Rustad, MLA; Jane Thornthwaite, MLA; John van Dongen, MLA
1. The Chair called the Committee to order at 9:04 a.m.
2. The following witnesses appeared before the Committee and answered questions:
1) Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC
2) Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
3) Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia
4) Surrey Board of Trade
5) Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC
6) Simon Fraser University Surrey
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Mary Jane Stenberg
7) Headlines Theatre
8) Dr. Judith Marcuse
9) Corporation of Delta
Mayor Lois Jackson
10) Motion Picture Production Industry
Association of British Columbia
11) Simon Fraser Student Society
12) Campaign to Control Cancer
3. The Committee recessed from 11:57 a.m. to 1:02 p.m.
13) Dr. Mychael Gleeson
14) Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration
15) Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter
16) Cynthia Stark
17) Arts Council of Surrey
18) Clean Energy BC
19) British Columbia Cycling Coalition
20) Angela Calla
21) Ending Violence Association of B.C.
22) Vanessa Brown
23) Kwantlen Faculty Association
24) Fraserside Community Services Society
25) STEPS Forward
26) Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association
27) Arts Council of New Westminster
4. The Committee recessed from 5:22 p.m. to 6:31 p.m.
28) Alzheimer Society of British Columbia
29) British Columbia Teachers' Federation
30) Russ Burtnick
31) B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
5. The Committee adjourned at 7:29 p.m. to the call of the Chair.
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS
select standing committee on
Finance and Government Services
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Issue No. 21
* John Les (Chilliwack L)
* Doug Donaldson (Stikine NDP)
* Norm Letnick (Kelowna–Lake Country L)
* Don McRae (Comox Valley L)
* John Rustad (Nechako Lakes L)
* Jane Thornthwaite (North Vancouver–Seymour L)
* John van Dongen (Abbotsford South L)
* Michelle Mungall (Nelson-Creston NDP)
* Bruce Ralston (Surrey-Whalley NDP)
* Bill Routley (Cowichan Valley NDP)
* denotes member present
Dave S. Hayer (Surrey-Tynehead L)
Heather Warren (Committees Assistant)
Kyle Acierno (Simon Fraser Student Society)
Jayne Akizuki (B.C. Provincial Chair, Campaign to Control Cancer)
Menashe Arbel (Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C.)
Jean Blake (CEO, Alzheimer Society of B.C.)
Caroline Bonesky (Executive Director, Fraserside Community Services Society)
Richard Campbell (British Columbia Cycling Coalition)
Joanne Curry (Executive Director, Simon Fraser University Surrey)
Sheila Davidson (Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.)
Bob Davis (Kwantlen Faculty Association)
George Davison (Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.)
David Diamond (Headlines Theatre)
Robert Dominick (Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association)
Jim Favaro (Campaign to Control Cancer)
David Field (B.C. Citizens for Green Energy)
Sandra Garossino (Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration)
Carol Girardi (Arts Council of Surrey)
Dr. Mychael Gleeson
Joe Greenholtz (STEPS Forward Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Society)
Sharon Gregson (Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.)
Brian Hamilton (Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C.)
Anita Huberman (CEO, Surrey Board of Trade)
Wilf Hurd (Simon Fraser University Surrey)
Lois Jackson (Mayor, Corporation of Delta)
Debbie Jay (Fraser Valley Real Estate Board)
Opreet Kang (Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration)
Paul Kariya (Executive Director, Clean Energy Association of B.C.)
Larry Kuehn (British Columbia Teachers Federation)
Alice Lee (Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter)
Phillip Legg (Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.; Kwantlen Faculty Association)
Peter Leitch (Chair, Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C.)
Barbara Lindsay (Alzheimer Society of B.C.)
Heather Lloyd (Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter)
Sean McGill (Corporation of Delta)
Jim Mann (Alzheimer Society of B.C.)
Dr. Judith Marcuse
Elizabeth Model (Executive Director, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association)
Joel Murray (Kwantlen Faculty Association)
Cindy Oliver (President, Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.)
Scott Olson (Vice-President, Fraser Valley Real Estate Board)
Tracy Porteous (Executive Director, Ending Violence Association of B.C.)
Richard Rees (CEO, Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia)
Mary Jane Stenberg (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)
Susan Wandell (President, Arts Council of New Westminster)
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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
The committee met at 9:04 a.m.
[J. Les in the chair.]
J. Les (Chair): Good morning, everyone. I see we have our second delegation here rather than our first one first.
J. Les (Chair): That's all right. We'll start with the folks that are here, and that is the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of British Columbia, represented by Phillip Legg, Cindy Oliver and George Davison.
C. Oliver: Good morning to you. I welcome all of you to the Lower Mainland, for those who aren't from here.
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators represents over 10,000 faculty and staff who work and teach in 22 of the 27 public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. We appreciate the opportunity to speak to the committee and provide some insight as to how investments in our public post-secondary education system could put our province on a more sustainable growth path than is currently the case. Before I get into those comments, however, I think it is important to reinforce points that our federation made last year before this committee.
A year ago we stressed that the value of these consultations goes far beyond simply gathering public input. The real value comes from transparent budget-making by government and credible oversight by the Minister of Finance on some of the emerging issues within the budget-making process.
Unfortunately, what has emerged over the last year and a half has been a steady erosion of both public support and public confidence in the budget-making process. Revelations of the last few weeks that a significant amount of internal research was done on major budget issues but was not shared with either the Legislature or the general public has only served to increase voter skepticism about how the Minister of Finance, the Premier and other members of the provincial cabinet subscribe to the value of transparency in their budget-making process.
As a committee, I would hope that part of your report would examine the erosion of public confidence and offer some suggestions to both the minister and the Legislature on how to reverse this trend. For example, I think the committee's report should comment on the mishandling of the harmonized sales tax.
The Minister of Finance and the Premier have long contended that the HST was the best thing for the B.C. economy, but both current polling results of the public support for the HST as well as internal Ministry of Finance documents seem to suggest that this is not the case. Your report could, hopefully, provide some reliable information on the minister's claim and, in the process, provide some confidence to the voting public on whether the HST is in fact the most appropriate fiscal option for British Columbia.
Your committee also has an opportunity to begin repairing the loss of confidence, and it would be a terrible oversight if your final report did not acknowledge the erosion of public confidence that the handling of the HST to this point has created for the minister and his colleagues at the provincial cabinet table.
Now, I'm sure that some members of the committee have noted recent media reports showing that students are returning to post-secondary education in large numbers. That's always an encouraging sign.
The doors that open for a person's career following completion of a post-secondary degree, diploma, certificate or a credentialed apprenticeship are significant. Moreover, the benefits from that decision extend to far more than just the enrolling student. It also extends to the society that supports that student through its investment in public post-secondary education.
Those benefits are well documented. Our written submission, which we will be e-mailing in, will include a summary of research recently completed by the C.D. Howe Institute which shows a substantial return on investment for the individual who is prepared to complete their post-secondary education. Most of that return comes in the form of higher earnings and greater mobility. Those higher earnings in turn lead to more tax revenues to the treasury, revenues that continue over an individual's entire working life.
These conclusions have been made in other studies that we have presented to this committee in previous years. The Canadian Council on Learning has provided the most comprehensive overview of this research, and we would recommend that the committee review this research as you consider how the 2011 budget should support post-secondary education.
While the evidence to support greater investments in public post-secondary education is well developed, the problem facing B.C.'s public post-secondary institutions is that provincial operating grants, the mechanism that the province uses to invest in our institutions, have not kept pace with basic needs.
Although government-side MLAs have often pointed to absolute increases in funding for post-secondary education as proof of their commitment, the real test is whether these operating grants are keeping pace with the number of students within our system as well as the inevitable cost pressures of inflation. That's why we
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have always stressed the importance of measuring post-secondary funding in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars per FTE, or full-time-equivalent, of students within our system.
Those calculations have been shared with this committee by others in the post-secondary sector, so I will summarize only the key point. Since 2001 real per-student operating grants have declined by close to 8 percent.
A fact sheet put out by the Ministry of Advanced Education suggests that total funding for post-secondary education between 2001 and 2011-2012 will increase by about 76 percent, but unfortunately, that number is only true if you include the 145 percent increase in tuition fees over the same period.
The dramatic spike in tuition fee revenues since 2001 has shifted more of the burden for post-secondary education onto students. Today students are paying between 25 and 30 percent of the cost of their education, compared to approximately 10 to 15 percent for students who attended post-secondary education in previous generations.
The funding problems that our institutions face take many forms. Far too many of our students have to cope with wait-lists for the programs they need to either start or complete.
Not surprisingly, our students are taking longer to graduation. An undergraduate degree typically today takes six years to finish rather than the four years that are contemplated by most post-secondary program planners. The longer completion times reflect the new reality of thousands of students who are forced to balance work and school in ways that minimize debt.
That said, student debt is a growing problem — one that saddles young adults with significant costs after they graduate. As a first priority, this committee needs to address the affordability problem and find ways to lower the costs of post-secondary education for our students.
Last month we had another example of how funding is getting squeezed within our system. The Minister of Advanced Education announced a moratorium on the development of any new degree programs within the post-secondary system. The announcement surprised many. There was virtually no consultation on the moratorium.
Our concern is that new degree programs are the way in which our institutions stay ahead of the knowledge curve. It is the means by which they stay relevant and provide value to students and other important stakeholders. The moratorium is a bad idea and reflects the overarching pressures that come from chronic underfunding of our institutions. I would hope that your final report provides some useful guidance to the Minister of Finance on how the 2011 budget can solve this problem.
Trades training and apprenticeship programs have finally been brought back to the Ministry of Advanced Education. For about five years that responsibility was housed in the Ministry of Economic Development. It took considerable lobbying by stakeholders and a report from the Auditor General to finally convince the Premier to make the change. We do applaud that change, but unfortunately, B.C. still has a long way to go on the trades-training front.
The relationship between the Industry Training Authority and the post-secondary institutions that deliver over 90 percent of the trades training programs is not collaborative. Although the ITA's budget has increased from about $73 million when it was launched in 2003 to almost $113 million today, very little of that increase has been targeted at the institutions that actually do the training.
Given the economic impact of the growing skills shortage, I would hope your report provides the minister with some clear guidelines as to how that problem could be fixed in the upcoming budget.
Finally, I would ask the committee to devote a portion of its report to examining the issue of federal transfers. Under the labour market agreement and the labour market development agreement, the federal government has transferred over $250 million to B.C. to support program development in a number of areas. When transfers like this happen, there is an opportunity for government to rethink how it could improve the outreach and effectiveness of those new program expenditures.
We believe that stakeholder input, which includes representation from the post-secondary education institutions and faculty, as well as representatives from the broader labour movement and the employer community, is a critical first step in designing new initiatives. However, too often stakeholder input is treated as peripheral to real decision-making by government.
We think that approach fails to capitalize on the talent and expertise that stakeholders provide. We would like to see a section in your report that provides some advice to the minister on how to design the most effective stakeholder input as the province contemplates how best to maximize the value of all federal transfers.
In conclusion, let me summarize the key recommendations that we hope to see in the committee's final report.
(1) Advise the minister on the merits of restoring real per-student operating grants to post-secondary institutions to their 2001 levels.
(2) Develop a more comprehensive approach to improving the affordability of post-secondary education for students, an approach that would include expanded student support services and a restoration of a student grant program.
(3) Support our call to end the current moratorium on developing new degree programs at our public post-secondary institutions.
(4) Strengthen the system of stakeholder input to ensure that when there are federal transfers to B.C., the
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decision-making process for allocating those transfers is truly transparent and properly reflects the input of the stakeholders consulted.
(5) Recommend ways to improve the effectiveness of trades training in B.C. to ensure that the current public entity charged with responsibility for trades training, the Industry Training Authority, achieves outcomes that will address B.C.'s growing skills shortage.
I want to thank you for your time today, and we look forward to your report.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you, Cindy.
M. Mungall: Thanks very much for your presentation. One of the things, though, that particularly tweaked my interest is around the ITA. Your recommendation is kind of overarching. Clearly, I'm thinking, you must have specific suggestions on how to achieve that, and I would be really interested in hearing them.
C. Oliver: Sure. One thing about the ITA…. Our members do the training, basically — 90 percent of the trades and apprenticeship training in the province of British Columbia. One thing that has been frustrating is the lack of consultation, the amount of time it has taken for this consultation to happen. It does happen on a very small level, but nowhere near what is needed by the practitioners, the people who are actually teaching in the institutions.
There have been some efforts made to develop some committees to take a look at various trades and what's needed, but there needs to be more input from those teaching, certainly from others in the industry and as a collaborative group, to look at what's best for the province.
I mean, there is always new technology. There are new training methods. Oftentimes the people who actually do the training, the educators, are left out of those decisions. It doesn't seem to be wise to me to do that. The board is quite small, and I mean, that can have its advantages, but certainly the voice of educators is not at the table.
That's something that I think is sorely lacking with the Industry Training Authority. I think they'd have better results, frankly.
J. Thornthwaite: My question is also related to what my colleague just asked.
You had said that the budget increases that you've noted through the ITA have gone up, but you've said that they don't go to the institutions. Where does all that money go to?
P. Legg: They have ITOs, industry training organizations, that have eaten up an awful lot of the budget.
To Michelle's question around funding and some of the very specific problems. In the last three or four years ITA has announced to institutions significant cuts in the funded weeks for various programs — automotive, for example. I think it was cut from 48 weeks down to 40 with no consultation with the institution or with the instructors, even though the expectations in terms of learning outcomes remained the same.
For the individual trades-training instructor, the challenge was: "How do I fit 48 weeks of learning into now 40-odd weeks of funded learning?"
The same is true on the capital front. Cindy mentioned technology. In trades training, obviously, you want to expose apprentices to the latest technology, which costs money, but the ITA's capital funding hasn't been sufficient across the system to meet that kind of demand.
J. Thornthwaite: Thank you for that. I'll follow up on the decrease in weeks, but I'm just looking for where you say that the money is going. If the budget has gone up, and it hasn't gone to the schools that you're talking about, has it gone to industry, or where is it going?
C. Oliver: Phillip had mentioned the ITOs, industry training organizations. A lot of the money is being filtered into those areas. The unfortunate thing about the ITOs is they don't function as well, certainly, as….
There was a previous system in place where there was a trades advisory committee for various trades, and they included people in the industry. For example, using automotive, there would be automotive dealers who dealt with the repair of cars, that kind of thing. There'd be people who teach it. There'd be others in the industry, and they would work collaboratively to talk about changes that are needed in the training to keep people up to date.
The ITOs. The model they're using is one that had functioned in New Zealand, and really, they've gotten rid of the system. It wasn't very successful there. I'm not sure how successful the ITOs are in British Columbia. They haven't been around for about two years now, I believe — a year and a half or two years.
I mean, you'll have to look at effectiveness, perhaps, down the road, but there is a lot of money going into that. What we're finding is that the completion rates still aren't there. Completion rates in British Columbia have fallen off in the past, I'd say, about six years. That really needs to be addressed.
We know there's a skills shortage growing. We know that that baby boomer generation is heading towards retirement, and once they retire, there's going to be a huge skills gap, not only in our province but in our country as well.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. Unfortunately, we are out of time. I do have to keep us on track, otherwise there won't be time for lunch later on today.
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C. Oliver: That's important.
J. Les (Chair): Absolutely. Thank you very much for coming.
Our next presenters are from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board — Debbie Jay and Scott Olson.
S. Olson: Good morning and thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for the time to highlight the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board's recommendations. Your dedication to the consultation process is appreciated.
My name is Scott Olson. I'm the vice-president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and a realtor from Surrey. I represent nearly 3,000 realtors who live and work in North Delta, White Rock, Surrey, Langley city and township, Abbotsford and Mission. I'm here with Debbie Jay, our communications coordinator for our board.
As you may be aware, realtors devote a significant amount of time each year meeting with all levels of government on issues affecting the public and our profession. When there are elections, we also support local chamber of commerce all-candidate meetings to encourage people to vote and highlight issues of interest to our communities and profession.
Exchanging information and working with stakeholders on solutions together allows us to make a positive impact on our communities. Participating in the provincial prebudget consultation process each year is only one of the ways in which we communicate with government.
We'd like to start by saying thank you for supporting investments which improve the quality of life of British Columbians. We are pleased when governments make decisions which support growth that encourages economic vitality, provides housing opportunities and builds better communities with good schools and safe neighbourhoods.
This year we applaud you for supporting investments to expand the SFU Surrey campus, build the Surrey outpatient facility in Surrey Memorial critical care tower, fund the gateway program and continue to invest in the LiveSmart B.C. program. LiveSmart offers financial support to households for energy audits and energy-efficient building retrofits. Decisions like this, along with the commitments to work with municipalities to bring down the cost of housing and offer a new property tax deferral program for families with children, will benefit many individuals and families in the Fraser Valley. Thank you.
Now I'd like to share some ideas with you that would make more affordable and safe housing available to all British Columbians.
Fraser Valley realtors share your concerns about the affordability of housing in this province, where buyers face the highest housing costs in Canada. Housing is essential for everyone, and a fair system of taxation and a thriving economy will help everyone in B.C. enjoy a quality of life that is the envy of other provinces.
Provincial shelter taxes — namely, the property transfer tax, or PTT — and the harmonized sales tax, HST, place an unfair burden on homebuyers. The following recommendations are intended to make housing more affordable now and in the future.
We understand that tax competitiveness is the cornerstone of your policy, and considerable reductions have already been made in corporate and personal income tax rates. However, the PTT stands out in a negative way. The effectiveness of low personal income taxes to attract and retain workers is offset by the high cost of owning a home, which is intensified by the highest provincial land transfer tax in Canada.
The structure of the PTT has not changed since the tax was introduced in 1987, despite significant changes in the housing market. When the PTT was first introduced, the average home was nearly $102,000, and the 2 percent portion of the tax was expected to apply to only 5 percent of sales.
In 2009 the average home in B.C. was over $465,000, and the 2 percent portion of the tax was charged on 86 percent of the homes sold in B.C. The PTT is no longer a wealth tax. Many hard-working people are now paying the tax on an average-priced home.
I think many of you would agree that homebuyers in B.C. deserve a fresh start. If the PTT is to remain in place, as every government since 1987 has indicated due to the tax's contribution to the provincial revenue, then it is time to restructure the tax to reflect today's market conditions.
We join the B.C. Real Estate Association in recommending that you first of all increase the 1 percent PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with the 2 percent applying to the remainder of the fair market value. And we suggest that you secondly index the 1 percent PTT threshold of $525,000 using Stats Canada's new-housing price index and make adjustments annually. Homebuyers will benefit from these recommendations.
In 2009 more than 83,000 homebuyers, about 75 percent, would have paid less PTT if the 1 percent threshold had been increased to $525,000. If the PTT had been indexed when it came into effect, the current imbalance would not exist. The housing market is dynamic, and shelter taxes must take that into consideration.
Another idea I would like you to consider is to change the HST before it adds to the heavy tax burden on homebuyers. As you may know, the current provincial new-home rebate for the HST is available at 71.43 percent of the B.C. portion of the HST to a limit of $26,250.
We understand the rationale for this structure was so most, about 75 percent of buyers of new homes, would
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pay no more tax under the HST. However, unless the threshold is indexed, a higher portion of buyers will have to pay HST on new homes, and the amount of HST charged will go up as average home prices rise. Based on the 20-year average annual growth rate of 1.8 percent in the new-home price index, by 2025 new-home prices in all the markets examined will exceed the maximum rebate threshold.
The experience with the PTT provides an excellent case study for what would happen to the HST new-home rebate threshold if it is not indexed. We join the B.C. Real Estate Association in recommending that you index the HST new-home rebate threshold currently set at $525,000 using the new-housing price index and make adjustments annually. We urge you to be proactive now and save future homebuyers of new homes from paying more tax.
The last issue we'd like to bring to your attention today is illegal drug operations, or IDOs. The following recommendations would help address the safety of homes that were used to grow marijuana or produce other controlled substances. We're concerned about IDOs because these homes were never designed to accommodate drug production, and drug houses pose serious health and safety risks to the public, even after they've been shut down. Fires, tripping, booby-trapping and shock hazards can often be found in them. Unsafe and illegal structural changes, high humidity and mould issues are also concerns.
People living near IDOs will also tell you that violence in their community is common. Sometimes criminals will visit a former IDO and mistake it for an active IDO, impacting the lives of future occupants and existing neighbours. That's why we feel strongly that if an individual wants to buy or occupy a home in B.C., it should be possible to find out from the local municipality if there's a record of the home as an IDO. If it was and records show that it was remediated, people should have the confidence to move into the home knowing that the health and safety issues related to its drug production past have been addressed.
Unfortunately, when simple questions are asked, local authorities are not responding consistently. At times responses are slow. When information is not provided, rules intended to protect personal privacy are often cited as the reason for a lack of disclosure. This leaves unanswered questions about the safety of a home for the future occupants as well as its potential value. Compounding the problem is a lack of consistency or a standard in the way IDOs are remediated in this province.
Municipalities have different requirements, and often it's left up to the property owner to get the job done. They may hire someone who is qualified, not qualified or even choose to do the work themselves. We've talked to realtors and boards across the province and learned that the challenges we face in reporting and remediation of IDOs is not unique to the Fraser Valley.
The good news is that we're starting to make some progress in the Fraser Valley. Since 2007 our board has conducted research, met with experts and brought stakeholders together in a forum to draw attention to the impact of illegal drug operations on housing. Now we're talking to stakeholders on a task force about practical solutions. We're getting direct input from realtors, elected officials and staff from our seven local municipalities, and fire and police officials.
We're also talking to staff from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's office and the B.C. Real Estate Association. Just recently we came up with a consistent process for reporting and remediating IDOs that could be implemented by our local governments. We would appreciate it if you could help us take these processes across the province.
On reporting, we have recommended that our seven local municipalities adopt a set of operational guidelines, which are enclosed with our prebudget submission. The guidelines would assist municipalities in responding consistently to questions from the public and realtors about properties, whether they've been identified as IDOs.
Adopting these guidelines would implement a process that would protect future buyers and occupants from the health and safety risks associated with former drug houses. To assist us in our efforts, we are recommending that you encourage all B.C. municipalities to adopt these reporting guidelines. This would enable anyone wishing to buy or occupy a home in B.C. to make an informed decision about former drug houses based on key facts.
On remediation, we are pleased to inform you that the city of Surrey is amending their bylaws to include input from consultations with stakeholders, including other cities, the remediation industry and realtors, on how the city's remediation procedures could be improved.
This new remediation process will also reference recommended practices from the Lower Mainland and other areas such as Alberta. Len Garis, the fire chief for the city of Surrey and adjunct professor of the school of criminology and criminal justice at the University of the Fraser Valley, released a discussion paper in April this year which describes the new remediation process. A copy of this paper is included in our prebudget submission.
We are pleased with this latest development, as Len has been a longtime supporter of our initiative on illegal drug operations, and he sees the benefits of implementing a new remediation process to ensure that all former IDOs are fully remediated and made safe for future occupants. A summary of the process is included in our submission.
Basically, the new process would require an environmental consultant to oversee the remediation of an IDO
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from start to finish and hire the professionals needed to complete the work. Records related to the remediation project would be kept at the municipality. Currently an environmental consultant may not be involved in the remediation project in this way, depending upon the municipality or the project.
The individuals hired to remediate or oversee the remediation of a property may not even be certified. When the city of Surrey has successfully implemented this new remediation process, they intend to share the tools, including the amended bylaw, with other municipalities throughout our task force.
We are recommending that you encourage all B.C. municipalities to adopt Surrey's new process for remediating IDOs or develop a provincial standard for all B.C. municipalities to follow based on Surrey's new process. This would ensure that these types of properties are fully remediated and made safe for future occupants.
To conclude, please join the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and other representatives from the real estate profession in helping to make homes in B.C. more affordable and safe. For more details on our recommendations this year, please refer to our prebudget submission and other materials we are sharing with you today.
Thank you for listening to our presentation.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you. I have time for one very quick question from Bruce.
B. Ralston: I think everyone recognizes Len Garis as a leader on these issues. To what degree does the Surrey bylaw, if you know this, follow Mr. Garis's suggestions in the paper, and where is the bylaw at in terms of implementation? Is it in force yet, or when is it expected to be in force?
S. Olson: I'm going to direct that question to Debbie. Debbie is actually on our task force, and she would have that information.
D. Jay: Len Garis's discussion paper is the basis for his amended bylaw. As for where they are at this point, they're working on it. The mayor and council have directed their staff to start providing some kind of amendments to the bylaw for them to look at.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. Thank you both very much for coming this morning.
Our next presenter is from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia — Richard Rees.
Whenever you're ready.
R. Rees: Good morning. I'm Richard Rees, as introduced, and I'm the CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of B.C. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to present to the Finance and Government Services Committee. I've been here every year since 2002, since you initiated this process. In some prior years you've been kind enough to include some of our thoughts and recommendations in your final report to government, and we hope that you'll find some of our thoughts today as relevant.
I'm speaking to you today, but we have 10,000 chartered accountants in British Columbia working in communities across the province and also 2,500 students in B.C. Members' expertise influences every major industry sector and, likely, all of the important investment decisions that shape B.C. businesses, both large and small. From Fort St. John to Cranbrook to Victoria, CAs are an integral part of our business community.
Like business, the government must continually make important decisions with far-reaching implications. We hope to contribute to this decision-making process as you develop the budget and discuss other policy issues.
This year our recommendations focus on policies that can enhance B.C.'s economic competitiveness, which is key to providing employment and a strong tax base. A strong economy funds health, education and social services that British Columbians want, but we'll leave it to others to advise you on how to spend the tax funds that you collect.
Let me start by saying that over the last two years British Columbia's economy has gone through an incredibly difficult time. The financial meltdown in the fall of 2008 created an economic downturn that was deeply felt in every developed nation. While Canada and B.C. were relatively well positioned going into the downturn, our economies were still impacted.
While the events that led to this recent recession were unprecedented, the ripple effect that it had on B.C.'s economy was not. As you know, we live in a small market economy that is heavily dependent on exports and, specifically, resource exports. This was not the first time B.C. has faced a downturn in the commodities sector, as our economic fortunes are linked to boom-and-bust cycles.
My comments today will touch on the effect this dependence has on our economy as well as provide some practical feedback that, if implemented, should help mitigate the effects in the future.
Since 1999 the British Columbia institute has produced the B.C. Check-Up. It's an initiative that has established a benchmark for key economic indicators that allows us to compare how B.C.'s economy has fared when compared to Alberta, Ontario and the national average. In this year's Check-Up we chose to focus on exports, which account for over 40 percent of British Columbia's gross domestic product, making our province especially sensitive to developments in international markets that affect trade or consumption patterns.
In the years leading up to the recession, vigorous economic activity in the province was fuelled by strong
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commodities exports, consumer spending and a robust construction sector. The result was a massive five-year buildup of almost 200,000 jobs. In absolute terms, B.C.'s job creation almost matched that of Ontario's at 210,000, even though Ontario has a labour force that's triple the size of British Columbia's.
This growth came to a crashing halt in 2009 when the value of world trade slumped 31 percent. B.C. saw a 25 percent decline in the value of exports in 2009. The forest products sector, which accounts for one-third of our total exports, declined by 24 percent. The energy sector saw its total export value plunge 30 percent. Metallic minerals were down 25 percent. Fabricated metal declined 32 percent, and machinery and equipment 19 percent.
Last year British Columbia lost almost 55,000 jobs and experienced one of the sharpest rates of job loss in Canada. Almost half the jobs lost, 23,600, were in manufacturing, many of which were related to traditional resource-based commodities. Another quarter of job losses, 12,800, were lost in transportation and warehousing due to declines in freight shipments at ports, airports, road and rail.
By the first quarter of 2010 global consumer and industrial demands saw some improvement. Barring further shocks or a double-dip recession, export markets are expected to improve over the next two years. Should the recovery take hold, B.C.'s commodity exports do stand to benefit. While this is good news for the short term, over the longer term there are some fundamental weaknesses in our economy that can be addressed.
By taking steps to improve B.C.'s productivity and diversify its export base, the government will lay the groundwork for future sustainable growth. One important step the government can take in this direction, and strongly advised by our members as well as the institute, is to resolve the uncertainty about the HST.
Our organization has supported the elimination of the inefficient and largely hidden provincial sales tax and its replacement with a value-added tax since the GST was introduced in the early '90s. Since that time economists across the country and the industrialized world have confirmed the efficacy of a value-added tax.
Why is a value-added tax so important to our province? Well, according to our studies and other reputable economic studies, it is the single biggest thing governments can do to boost productivity because it encourages investment. We need investment to address the declines in productivity.
According to the B.C. Check-Up, over the last five years B.C.'s labour force productivity has stagnated. Improving productivity is a key economic driver leading to increased business output and higher living standards for British Columbians. To give you some context, between '81 and 2006 labour productivity accounted for 56 percent of the increase in living standards in British Columbia.
Boosting productivity is also crucial if B.C.'s businesses are to compete with international markets and trading partners. When I talk to my members, they are often concerned about the lack of foreign investment being made in this province, or local investment going out of the province. Again, this is why a value-added tax is important.
It is estimated that by 2020 the current system would generate $11.5 billion in capital investment. Such investment is critical if this province is to make significant productivity gains and achieve the sustainable growth that we need to meet our health, education and social needs as a province.
Now, hand in hand with improving productivity is diversifying our export base. Over the last two years our members have identified the economic climate — global, Canadian and British Columbia — as the biggest challenge facing business. Why? Because our economy is inextricably linked to the resource exports and the ups and downs of our trading partners.
In 2009, as part of the Business Council of B.C.'s Outlook 2020 series, our institute sponsored a paper by former UBC Commerce Dean Michael Goldberg called Building the Economic Base: Tradable Services. The paper highlights viable export alternatives that would help make our province's economy less reliant on resources. Currently B.C.'s export base is still skewed towards commodities; however, services actually account for 75 percent of our overall economy, making it the most service-oriented provincial economy in Canada.
For this reason, our institute recommends that the government introduce measures that would help grow the tradeable services sector. In this regard, we believe that government should actively promote the export of education, health and government services. The export of these services is an important potential government revenue stream that will directly benefit British Columbians, as funds can be put back into public services and infrastructure.
Some examples on the education front. B.C. has already been very successful with the B.C. Dogwood diploma program and the LiveLearn B.C. program. While progress has been made in bringing international students to B.C., there is considerable potential for growth in this area.
Thompson Rivers University is a great example of the positive impact international students can have on a community. In 2005-06 it was estimated that international students directly contributed $40 million to the local economy in Kamloops, and construction at the university contributed another $70 million. Most importantly, this additional revenue has allowed the university to increase their capacity for Canadian students by approximately 10 percent.
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Marketing health services can also infuse the public system with much-needed funds. B.C. has cutting-edge health services and is recognized as a leader in biomedical research, cancer care and spinal cord research. The province has also developed expertise with respect to health and aging, rural and aboriginal health, and telemedicine. There is no reason why these and many other services in the health care sector cannot be profitably marketed abroad to the benefit of British Columbians.
Lastly, B.C. stands out for its cutting-edge property assessment and land registration systems and for its licensing and registration processes for the mining sector. This creates opportunities to sell government services and expertise and co-brand, possibly, with a private sector partner. In order to properly manage and quantify the growth of this sector, the government should task the ministry of technology, trade and economic development to work with B.C. Stats to gather data annually on tradeable services, employment, exports and imports, and contributions to provincial and regional GDP.
The government should also create a tradeable services branch within the ministry as well as tradeable services advisory panels to develop this sector across the province and work with each of the regions to develop regional economic development plans to promote and sustain this sector.
By taking steps to boost productivity and diversify British Columbia's export base, the B.C. government will lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future that is less dependent on the economies of our trading partners. While this won't prevent economic shocks like the one we felt so severely in 2009, it may mitigate their impact, giving us a greater resilience in times of crisis.
That concludes my remarks today. We will submit a final submission by your October 15 deadline. At that time we will also provide more information on the B.C. Check-Up and a copy of the tradeable services reports, which expand on the examples that I have just given you.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today. I would be very pleased to respond to your questions and hear any comments you might have.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Richard. We have a few questions, starting with Michelle.
M. Mungall: Thanks very much. A couple of questions. One is the stats you have on the job creation in B.C.: are you able to ascertain what kinds of jobs, like part-time, full-time, in which sectors? Then my other question is: with your B.C. Check-Up and the benchmarks of key economic indicators, I'm wondering what those indicators are and, for instance, if you also include other indicators like human development index, and so on.
R. Rees: The approach of the B.C. Check-Up is to look at different aspects of the thing. When it was initiated, what we wanted to do was try and get away from a lot of analysis that tends to look at one sector. A lot of reports you read talk about increased unemployment, things like that. So the approach of the B.C. Check-Up is to look at what it's like to live, work and invest in British Columbia.
As such, when we talk about live, we look at things like post-secondary graduation and we look at the health statistics, the health of British Columbians, and try to bring in measures like that. There's an aggregate, I think, of something like 60 different indicators that paint the whole picture, because they are inextricably linked. You know, if we want to invest and have a strong post-secondary education system or increase high school graduation, it goes hand in hand with having a strong economy that's generating the tax base that can enable us to do that. So that is the approach to the Check-Up.
I'm sorry. I've forgotten the first part of your question.
M. Mungall: Just the kinds of jobs. When you note the number of jobs that are being created, I'm wondering what kinds of jobs, if you do that kind of analysis.
R. Rees: The Check-Up is actually produced by a team of economists who we commission and fund to write it, and it actually is backed up by a very significant report, which we do publish. It does have all that data in it. I do not have an answer to that question here, but the references are in the report.
J. van Dongen: Thank you, Richard, for a concise presentation. I noted your comments on labour productivity and the role of HST, in your view, in generating capital investment. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how that works and how that improves both labour productivity and, I would assume, numbers of jobs. So a two-part question.
R. Rees: Yeah, great. Firstly, the productivity is something that I think a lot of people have trouble with, and they often think that, oh gosh, are we saying that the people aren't working hard enough, and stuff like that.
Well, the determinants of productivity. Firstly, you've got the human input, and generally in different jurisdictions that's the same. But then you have the machinery and equipment that's brought, whether it's up-to-date computers on desks or production equipment, whether it's out in the resource industries or in factories.
Our whole country has a problem with the investment in equipment, because we were scuppered by a
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couple of things. Firstly, the low dollar, which was great at generating a lot of business, but it meant that we're not a country that produces capital equipment very easily, or very much of it. It's all imported, so it became really expensive to replace your equipment.
At the same time the low dollar meant that it was really easy to sell stuff. So if you're chunking stuff out the door and exporting it in vast volumes and the CPR line is blocked because we can't get it out fast enough, there's no incentive to invest. So what we've seen in this country is a significant decline in productivity statistics. I think, again, that the federal government and governments across Canada all acknowledge this.
In the environment we're now in with the dollar at a much higher level, it does make imported equipment much cheaper. That's why you hear, I think, a lot of emphasis, particularly from the federal government, encouraging improvements in productivity and encouraging Canadian business to invest in retooling their equipment. If we are able to do that over the next few years, I think the prospects for our country and our businesses are very good.
Tied in with that, then, in terms of making those capital investment decisions, obviously, what you have to do is look at the cost and the return on investment. Of course, the key thing that happened when value-added taxes began to emerge across the globe was that the key element of value-added taxes is this input tax credit, which does have a significant impact. Of course, in British Columbia we've had a history of having both a provincial sales tax and then we had a machine and equipment tax at one point as well, all of which just increased the cost of investment.
So when you recognize that when we're talking about the major employers in this province and the fact that they're making choices about are they going to buy equipment and put it into a factory in Campbell River or are they going to put it into Grande Prairie…. My guys are creating the spreadsheets. It makes a big difference if there's a significant incremental cost.
The reason why we've advocated a value-added tax approach to commodity taxation by the province of British Columbia is that it puts us on a level playing field and likely makes a significant difference in those investment decisions bringing investment into this province versus anywhere else.
I think that's why, again, over the time that all of this is being debated, I've talked to hundreds of my members, and I don't think I've met one who has told me that our positioning on value-added taxes was wrong.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. With that, Richard, we'll have to leave it there for time. Thank you for being here.
We will next hear from the Surrey Board of Trade and Anita Huberman.
A. Huberman: Good morning, members of the committee. I'm Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, and I'm pleased to speak with you this morning.
Our organization is one of the largest boards of trade in the province, representing over 3,600 business contacts in and around Surrey. In terms of population Surrey is Canada's 12th-largest city, the 35th-largest city in North America and is expected to surpass Vancouver in terms of population in just a few decades. In fact, a thousand people a month still move into Surrey. The South Fraser region is now home to over 850,000 residents, over 19 percent of B.C.'s population.
A major part of the forecasted increase of B.C.'s population is due to immigration. Among all Canadian cities Surrey has had the fastest-growing number of foreign-born persons over the last five years, increasing by 31 percent between 2001 and 2006. As all of you consider how to shape the next budget in B.C., the Surrey Board of Trade is pleased to see the continuing improvement in our economy.
When we met with this committee last fall, we were looking ahead to the Olympics, and the HST had just been brought into play. Indeed, the Olympics were every bit the success that we anticipated from a business perspective. It was very well done.
Clearly, there has been a great deal of unhappiness over the imposition of the HST. However, the Surrey Board of Trade said last year, and we still continue to say it this year, that the tax is good for business, and we still feel that it will benefit the province in the medium and the long term. Although as a result of the public backlash the government has announced a referendum for September 2011, the Surrey Board of Trade feels we need to get on with doing business in this new tax paradigm.
Under the topic of deficit reduction and stimulus, we have supported the government's efforts in working to reduce both the provincial deficit and debt.
Given the scope of the economic collapse, few expected that the government would escape unscathed. It is both good planning and good fortune that Canada and B.C. have fared as well as we have, as the economy seems to be moving back into the black. We benefited well from the Winter Olympics and the projects currently underway, especially in regards to our transportation infrastructure. These are solving critical transportation problems that adversely impact our economy as well as stimulating employment and other critical economic activity.
Under the area of community services and non-profits. In our presentation last year we challenged the government to be creative and sensitive in working through the funding of social programs operated by non-profit community organizations. In fact, over 90 members of the board of trade are in the not-for-profit sector. These enterprises provide vital services to support or assist our
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seniors, the homeless, young people and others who are disadvantaged.
The non-profit and social services are an important piece of our social contract, and they represent an important piece of our economy, often performing at a very high level of efficiency. They contribute much to maintaining the fabric of our society not well serviced otherwise.
We are concerned with the government's appropriation of additional amounts of gaming funds and ask that the government be careful not to damage the social net while driving to eliminate the deficit. Please restore the gaming funds to these vital programs at the earliest possible time.
In the area of education. Within the next five years one in three B.C. students graduating from high school will be from the Surrey school district, B.C.'s largest. While other school districts across the province, including the Lower Mainland, are contemplating and/or closing schools because of falling enrolments, the Surrey school district is exploding — over 67,000 in Surrey versus 56,000 in Vancouver.
Surrey is under-resourced in both our zero-to-12 and post-secondary services. Last fall the school district expected 300 new students. It received 1,200. This has placed exceptionally heavy pressures on our facilities.
Every school has temporary or portable classrooms. Fraser Heights has 16 of them. These 232 portable or temporary facilities, which in reality aren't temporary at all, cost $100,000 each, yet they aren't counted as capital facilities and must be paid for from precious operating funds. In these circumstances, accommodations must be made.
When the brand-new Hazelgrove Elementary in Surrey opened, it did so with four portables on the property. A second school planned for Cloverdale was shelved, and the problem goes right up the education chain. Surrey has the lowest post-secondary rates of participation of most of its neighbouring municipalities. Our problems are truly unique in this province.
We are pleased to see that the government is taking notice of at least some of these challenges, and yet the Surrey Board of Trade isn't just calling for someone else to solve the problem. At the board of trade we're working collaboratively with the Surrey school district, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Simon Fraser University right here in Surrey.
We've been researching these problems and trying to contemplate alternative solutions. On October 19, when we have our Small Business Month lunch, we will launch an information and awareness campaign designed to engage the business community along with the public to understand the problems facing our system from zero to post-grad and seek innovative solutions. You'll be hearing more from us on this, as I know you're to hear from our colleagues from SFU and Kwantlen University later in this session.
I must point out, however, that in today's Province newspaper an education feature highlights the hub schools of Surrey. Key to this is that the funding for this program comes from the Ministry of Education CommunityLINK program. For several years now we have brought to your attention a funding disparity which defies understanding in that once pointed out, it remains unresolved.
The funding disparity last year was as follows. Victoria received $192 per student, Vancouver $158, and Surrey received only $50 per student. Exact figures are not immediately available. However, we can report that this year's allocation for 2010-2011 for Vancouver, with fewer students, is over $8,000, against Surrey's allotment of just over $3,000.
We're not necessarily advocating cutting Vancouver and Victoria, but by any measure, this disparity must be resolved.
Education, as well as transportation and health, is key to a successful economic future, and it lies in meeting the training and educational needs of our children, our youth and also our adults in both the professional and skilled trades, and newcomers who will also bring vital skill sets to the country. So stay tuned for details on our October 19 event.
In conclusion, we have pointed out some of the major key concerns held by the Surrey Board of Trade. We do understand and appreciate the complexities of the economic issues facing all of us. They're not easily solved.
We also want you to know that the board of trade is actively seeking to assist in finding solutions. As part of that activity, last spring we took a delegation — in partnership, actually, with the Vancouver Board of Trade — and visited four ministries in Victoria to get to know the senior staff, hear their concerns and share our views and concerns so that we may better work towards solutions. We will continue this as the year goes along and hope that we may be better prepared to be part of this solution, not only the advocate for it.
Thank you very much for hearing my presentation.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Anita.
J. Thornthwaite: Thank you very much for your presentation. With respect to education, I note that the Vancouver Board of Trade has been involved in the Paul Kershaw 15-by-15 study. Do you have any comments about that from the Surrey end of things?
A. Huberman: Not at this time, no.
N. Letnick: Thank you also for your presentation. If you can enlighten me a little bit as far as the development cost charges for capital for schools in Surrey. I know in some parts of the province the developers,
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when they build new housing, are required to put aside some money to help build new schools. Is that the case in Surrey?
A. Huberman: I believe it's part of their operating budget, but I can get that information to you. We have been speaking very extensively as part of this presentation with Mike McKay, who is the superintendent of the Surrey school district. But I can certainly get that information to the committee.
J. Les (Chair): Okay, seeing no further questions, thank you, Anita. I appreciate your being here this morning.
Our next presenters are from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. — Sharon Gregson and Sheila Davidson.
S. Davidson: Good morning. Thank you very much. We're pleased to be here again. Both Sharon and I are going to present on a plan that we are working on in relation to child care and early learning in the province of B.C.
We're with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates, a voluntary non-profit organization of parents, child care workers and interested citizens and community organizations. We've been advocating for many years for a publicly funded, high-quality, affordable child care system that's sustained by…. Our reasoning behind it is substantiated by international and local research that shows that a universal approach to quality child care promotes healthy child development at the same time as it supports families and their workforce participation, reduces child poverty, advances women's equality and deepens social inclusion.
MLA Thornthwaite, we're very pleased to hear you ask about the 15 by 15, because that shows you're paying attention, and we appreciate that.
We appreciate the significant public policy change of full-school-day kindergarten that the Ministry of Education is phasing in for five-year-olds across B.C.
As this expansion of kindergarten hopefully reflects a new provincial commitment to universal, publicly funded, publicly delivered and democratically controlled services for young children, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates views this as a positive step forward.
Having said that, as welcome and as necessary as the expansion of kindergarten is for B.C.'s five-year-old children and their families, it is a far cry from the expansion required in this province to respond to the vulnerability of children before they enter kindergarten, and it provides no assistance at all to working families of younger children.
We do see that your most recent Building B.C. for Your Family document outlines supporting young families and what you're doing for children in this province. We recognize that all-day kindergarten does, in fact, support some working families by the addition of two extra hours in the afternoon. We do want to publicly state, however, that it doesn't help working families from an eight-to-six perspective, and that's what many families face.
Through our previous submissions we informed the provincial government, through the Select Standing Committee on Finance, of the compelling arguments for investing in a system of early care and learning in B.C. It remains disappointing that B.C. is not initiating a system of early care and learning for its younger citizens, as Ontario and Prince Edward Island are now doing.
The Ontario government is proving it is aware of the economic rationale for investment in child care, which this month grew even more compelling with the release of findings from respected economist Robert Fairholm of the Centre for Spatial Economics. His study documented early learning with extended child care options provides greater economic benefit than any other sector of the Ontario economy. For every $1 million spent on early learning and child care, 29 jobs are created — at least 23 percent more jobs than the highest industry and a third more than the number of jobs generated by $1 million in construction spending.
Every dollar invested in early learning and child care increases the economy's output by $2.02. This is one of the highest GDP impacts of all major sectors. In addition, the study found that investments in early learning and child care more than pay for themselves in terms of benefits for society with a $2.42 payback through increased earnings, improved health outcomes and reduced social costs.
Governments continue to invest heavily in infrastructure and construction industry stimulus. Fairholm's study shows that investments in our social infrastructure, and especially in early learning and child care, are critical and provide a much stronger economic boost.
In the February 2010 B.C. Speech from the Throne the Lieutenant-Governor said that new partnerships with the private sector and parents will enable the establishment of neighbourhood preschools for four- and five-year-olds within communities over the next five years. "They will provide families with new voluntary options for public and private preschools across B.C." Eight months later it remains completely unclear what was meant by those words, and sadly, in the meantime, the child care crisis has worsened considerably across our province.
Fees for service have increased to the point where many families can no longer contemplate using quality licensed care for the children while they work. Wages and benefits for early childhood educators remain appallingly low for their level of responsibility, and rather than increasing the number of spaces to meet demand, we see
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that spaces are closing under the pressure of providing quality services with little government funding.
S. Gregson: In 2008, faced with the ongoing B.C. child care crisis, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates took a very bold step of developing a plan for, and costing out, a universal child care system. We hope that you've seen that document. Our document suggested parent fees should be no more than 20 percent of the overall cost and early childhood educators should, of course, earn a living wage.
We demonstrated clearly that British Columbia has the capacity to build such a system. In 2010 we are now faced with B.C.'s implementation of full-school-day kindergarten — note: not full-day kindergarten but full-school-day kindergarten for five-year-olds and the promise from the Minister of Education of pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds.
On the one hand the extension of universal, publicly funded free services for young children is very progressive and very welcomed. On the other hand, to date B.C. is proceeding without a strategy that recognizes, and is inclusive of, existing child care services or that meets the needs of all families, especially working families.
Recognizing the immediate need to provide government with a useful plan — our goal is to be helpful — and the citizens of British Columbia with hope for a better future, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates has partnered with the Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia to offer a new and creative approach as to how the provincial government can and should integrate early care and learning into a system that works for children, for families, for early childhood educators and for communities. The link is in the document.
Sheila and I have brought the document with us. It's only now just publicly being released. We decided that if you wanted a copy, you'd have to ask us for it. Bruce would like one. Very well.
Our emerging plan, this document, for an integrated system of early care and learning in B.C. is consistent with the principles that have been presented to this committee over the course of many years. The dollars must go into integrated programs rather than continuing the artificial divide between early learning in the Ministry of Education and child care in MCFD, and new dollars must build on existing community strengths.
This plan has the exciting possibility of moving British Columbia forward with a new system to meet the needs of children and families with quality services like those offered in other jurisdictions across this country and internationally.
In closing, we strongly urge you to consider the cost-effective realities of investment in the early care and learning of our youngest citizens, realities publicly recognized by many, including this week, again, the Vancouver Board of Trade. I suspect you've probably seen their report, co-authored with the Justice Institute of B.C., speaking of the value of investing in the early years — its reduction in crime and future healthier citizens — and, of course, the 15 by 15 report from the human early learning partnership.
After years of knowledge being accumulated and presented to government and the reports now that are coming forward from every sector — not just the advocates but from parents, from the boards of trade — we know that this is a move that you'll want to make.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much.
J. Rustad: Thank you very much for your presentation.
I'm just curious, though. One of the things you said I didn't quite understand. That was "publicly provided child care." I just wonder if you can explain the difference between publicly provided versus privately provided, and why you would call for publicly provided.
I understand the call for publicly funded, and I understand the difference between that. I'm just kind of wondering why you suggested that.
S. Gregson: One of the interesting things that's very clear is the difference between the fragility of our existing child care system and the stability, though not perfect, of our K-to-12 system. We're proposing that we want that kind of stability for our early care and learning system. So while public funding is absolutely necessary, we're moving to a place of public delivery.
S. Davidson: Right now there is no system for communities to establish child care where they need it because child care is a private system, regardless of whether it's non-profit or privately owned. If a person or an organization decides that they want to open a child care program in West Van, and there's one right around the corner, off they go and open it. Often it means that we end up with pockets of child care where we don't really need it, and in communities that are desperate for child care, there is nothing.
J. Rustad: Thank you, and I wouldn't mind a copy of that as well.
M. Mungall: Thanks very much. You certainly made the economic case for early learning and child care, which, of course, is something that needs to be communicated a lot more. Historically it's been discussed in another framework, a valid framework, but bringing it forward to this framework of an economic case, I think, is extremely valuable. It's something that I kept hearing in my own community when I did a community forum on child care.
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On that note, do you see early learning and child care being an integral component of a provincewide poverty reduction plan?
S. Davidson: Child care and early learning absolutely are part of a poverty reduction plan, but it's much more than that also.
J. Les (Chair): Any further questions?
Seeing none, I thank you for your presentation.
Our next presenters are from Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Simon Fraser University. I think we have Mary Jane Stenberg, Wilf Hurd and Joanne Curry.
W. Hurd: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I want to thank you on behalf of Simon Fraser University and my colleague Mary Jane Stenberg from Kwantlen Polytechnic University for the opportunity to address the committee today.
I should start by mentioning that our topic today really involves post-secondary education, although we have worked with the board of trade on education issues in general in the region, and I know later on they'll be addressing education as part of their presentation.
About two years ago Kwantlen Polytechnic–SFU joined with the board of trade in Surrey to address the education funding issue in the region and formed a committee, which I think has made a useful contribution to analyzing the issues related to growth in the school-age population and the need to address a growing school-age population transitioning to post-secondary education.
The city of Surrey alone is growing at the rate of about 10,000 people a year. The region generally — if we include the South Fraser region as being Abbotsford, Delta, even out to Chilliwack and Langley — is growing at between 20,000 and 25,000 people on an average annual basis.
Surrey has the largest school district in B.C. and the fifth-largest public school system in Canada, and by 2015 one out of every three children graduating from high school will be from the South Fraser region of British Columbia. So it's a huge, bulging demographic.
Other statistics. Twenty percent of all new babies in B.C. will be born each year at Surrey Memorial Hospital, and one-third of Surrey's residents are now under the age of 19, making the city one of the largest age cohorts of young people in the province.
Surrey and the South Fraser region, as I think we've testified before this committee before, continues to lag both the B.C. average and the national average in terms of transition rates from high school to university, colleges and trades. This is despite the fact that it is estimated that by 2020 more than 80 percent of the new jobs in our economy will require an advanced education degree as a bare minimum for entry.
I think, Mr. Chairman, we have an immense problem of dealing with a demand for higher education in a region that has been chronically underserved. And I should mention that the rate of transition into science and technology programs in this region, which is really the basis of a modern economy, is even lower than the provincial transition rates in other jurisdictions. I guess, basically, not only are our kids not transitioning from high school to post-secondary at the rate they should, but if you look at science and technology, it's miniscule related to other areas.
I understand that the goals of the provincial government, stated in previous throne speeches, have been to make British Columbia the most literate jurisdiction in North America and also having a population with the highest percentage of advanced education degrees. Those were outlined in throne speeches, and I think are valid goals for that decade and for the future.
It must be stated that without significant investments in the region of British Columbia with the largest cohort of young people, that's growing the fastest in the province, those goals simply cannot be achieved.
I just wanted to offer those introductory remarks and turn things over to my colleague Mary Jane Stenberg, the executive director of Kwantlen Polytechnic, for more detailed information about the institution.
M. Stenberg: I would just like to start by saying that all the seats at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in the South Fraser region are full, and we're going to be in a situation that we've never been in before of actually having to turn students away very soon — probably as early as next year. We had a 4 percent increase in enrolment in the Surrey area last year. This year we've seen an 8 percent increase in seats here, a 23 percent increase in the Langley campus last year and another 9 percent increase this year.
One of the things that I think hasn't been talked about yet is the fact that the Golden Ears Bridge now is changing the migration patterns of students and will continue to do that in the future. We're seeing more and more students coming from the north of the Fraser area, crossing the bridge to the Langley campus, which is a natural and very quick institution for them to turn to in terms of being a commuter campus.
I don't have a paper to share with you today, although I will send it to the committee later on. The reason for that is that we're just in the final stages of finalizing our strategic vision and our plan for moving forward as B.C.'s polytechnic institution. But I can tell you that what we want to do, and what we aim to do, is to become a dual-purpose university, such as one finds in Australia, Europe and New Zealand, where students are uniquely prepared to hit the ground running in the world of work with university degrees, but where, also, you can start
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with a trades qualification, and you can ladder that into a university degree.
Our unique niche, working in partnership with Simon Fraser in the South Fraser region, will be to make sure that we prepare tomorrow's workforce for the world of work and prepare students for the needs of the South Fraser region. We cannot do that without more seats in the South Fraser region.
We don't want to have to export our youngest and brightest, but we will be doing that, because they will be looking farther afield if they can't find a university education or education of any kind closer to home.
I'll turn it now over to my esteemed colleague Joanne Curry from Simon Fraser.
J. Curry: Well, certainly around the demographics that I know — people from Chilliwack and Abbotsford — University of the Fraser Valley is also oversubscribed by about 8 percent. We find that there is a lot of head-nodding on the demographics of the South Fraser. Some people see portables; I see future students and no spaces for them.
I think, also, you can't go to any economic forum these days without hearing about the importance of human resources, human capital, workforce development. The dilemma that we're in at the SFU Surrey campus is that we're at…. You've got some charts in front of you that show that, like Kwantlen, we're full. We've been full for a couple of years now. Our growth has flatlined. Our applications, though, keep going up and up. I tell people that I actually spend more time talking to students who can't get into our institution than convincing people to come to our institution.
What we've done has been very strategic. We do have an MOU with our ministry to double in size to 5,000 FTE students. Unfortunately, that was signed in 2006, just prior to the recession and some of the challenges we're facing.
At Simon Fraser University, the Surrey campus, we totally understand the situation of government — the competing demands on the budget. But we're at a state where we have excellent program proposals in key economic driving areas such as clean energy, health and public health, but we're unable to move forward on these proposals.
There is mention — and, again, a lot of head-nodding about the demographics — that when the economy returns, we will be funded. But essentially we're sitting on our hands, waiting as we watch institutions throughout the world proceeding with clean energy programs, throughout Canada, and unfortunately are unable to move forward.
We have pursued private funding, city funding, federal funding and received an award for $10 million to build out space, which opens next year. So we've been doing some interim strategies. But essentially our lifeblood is the FTE funding we receive for our undergraduate students, and without that we'll be watching and talking to a lot of students and their parents.
Thank you for your time.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much. I have several questions.
M. Mungall: Thank you very much for your presentation.
Earlier the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators was talking about the moratorium that was put on new degrees and programs. That was kind of…. I don't know about you, but what they were saying for me, anyway, was: "Wow, that came out of nowhere." So I'm just wondering how that has impacted your programs, because you're both saying that you're full. You're absolutely full. There are wait-lists. This moratorium — is it hindering your ability to meet student demand?
M. Stenberg: Not right now. Actually, I'm not sure the moratorium is necessarily a bad thing. As a matter of fact, I think it's a good thing if it is used to examine specifically what we're doing as a post-secondary system.
We have several new degrees — 20 new degrees, actually — ready to go, coming on stream. We've had to go through a whole process of looking to see what is still a useful program of study. There are some programs we've had to cease — some programs that we were going to bring on stream.
So I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing, and certainly it's not impacting our enrolments in any way.
J. Curry: I would agree with that. It is a six-month moratorium. It's really to step back from the system. There was a sense of duplication of some degree areas and also maybe some degree programs that weren't meeting labour market needs. So we think it's a very short time frame, and we're more concerned about the overall funding of programs that are approved.
N. Letnick: There are a lot of speakers. I'll keep my questions brief. You mentioned science and technology challenges — students choosing to go there. Could you describe if there's anything from a capacity question that government can do differently that would help students pick science and technology, or is it really the students themselves who don't want to go into science and technology?
And the other one. You were talking about how you're full, and that's probably in part because of your great reputation, being a top-notch post-secondary institution. But it's also probably in part to do with the economy. When the economy's down, people tend to stay in school and post-secondary longer. People might go back
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to college or university to take programs because they can't find a job.
Have you done any analysis to identify how much of your demographic change is actually forcing you to be full as opposed to students making choices to go back to school when the economy is low? Once the economy comes back, they're going to go back to working, and that might change things.
If you could comment on those two.
J. Curry: For Simon Fraser University, we find that with the recession what happens is that some students…. There is more retention of students, where they don't leave school to work for the summer. They actually take courses, so that does put some demand pressure. We're fairly resilient in terms of new applicants to the university, and it's a lot of them leaving high school. So we find that the recession hasn't impacted us greatly, and we're not expecting, once the economy improves, for there to be any decline in enrolment.
The trend right now is that we have three applications for every space. In the early days it was two for every space. So I just see that as continuing. I think that there is huge demand in the South Fraser for more programs in science and engineering as well. We're certainly talking to Kwantlen about that expansion. Part of it was inhibited by facilities. We had no science labs at our campus, and the Kwantlen campus's labs were totally full. The funding we received from the province and the federal government will alleviate that to some extent, so our students don't have to travel up to SFU Burnaby for their labs.
I strongly believe that if we build the capacity and the spaces, students will enrol in science, technology, engineering and health.
M. Stenberg: I have just a little bit different perspective, although I share what Joanne says. In terms of science and technology, I really believe that it has to start in the elementary schools and the high schools, much more focused. Make it much more fun. Make it much more interesting and really expand the possibilities of those kids before they get to our level. If we really want to drive the economy with science and technology investment, that's where we have to start.
In terms of the recession impacting Kwantlen, we're quite a different institution than SFU in that we have a very wide age range of students who are at our university. We have about 60 percent that come right from high school, but we have others that take a few years off, come back to school. We have adults in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are coming back to pursue a degree after many years. Our average student only takes three courses, works full-time and does volunteer work in the community. So it's not impacted greatly by the recession.
J. Les (Chair): Okay, seeing no further questions, thank you very much for coming today.
Our next presenter is David Diamond from Headlines Theatre.
D. Diamond: Hello, everybody. I'm timing out right at ten minutes, so here we go. My name is David Diamond. I'm the artistic director of Headlines Theatre.
I think one of the ways to talk about arts and culture is to make it really personal. One of the reasons I'm here is because over the last 30 years, Headlines will have done projects in every single one of your constituencies — projects on addiction, family violence, racism, intergenerational conflict, homelessness, gang violence, suicide prevention and many, many others.
I want to acknowledge off the top that I and many other people are very happy that the $7 million was just returned to the B.C. Arts Council, but let's not kid ourselves. This does not solve the problem.
Mr. Les, you came to the opening of Meth in Stó:lô territory. Meth toured into 27 communities across B.C. and then toured western Canada. I remember that you came to me after that show, and you were literally vibrating. I remember this. I hope you do.
J. Les (Chair): I do.
D. Diamond: And you said you'd never experienced anything like this powerful theatre project on addiction before.
Mr. Ralston, you might recall Here and Now on gang violence. It was so deeply embraced by the Indo-Canadian community. It was created and first performed inside the Ross Street Temple and then moved to the Surrey Arts Centre a few years ago.
Mr. Donaldson, I carry a Gitxsan name because of the theatre work over many years throughout the Hazelton area, in Kispiox and Gitanmaax in particular.
Mr. Rustad, Streets Spirits in Prince George, who work with at-risk youth — I'm sure you know who they are — came directly out of a Headlines workshop ten years ago. I could go on and on about this with all of you.
You know, it's already well researched that art and culture is a great financial investment for government, but art and culture is far more than that. Art and culture is the psyche of a society.
I want to share some other people's words with you about this. "One of the most powerful moments in After Homelessness…." After Homelessness is a show we just did, created and performed by homeless people, that just won the outstanding production of the year at the Jessies.
"One of the most powerful moments in After Homelessness was when a well-dressed woman in her 50s replaced the character of a crack addict. She was able to improvise a few lines, but then she began to weep uncontrollably. I didn't get the impression
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that it was her pity that was making her cry. I identified with her privilege.
"Maybe I'm projecting, but what I thought made her break down was something that I was also experiencing" — this writer says — "getting it for the first time. I have an understanding of the indignity and inhumanity that homeless people face every day and that we, the audience, share our common humanity with the characters on the stage."
David Q., an audience member.
"I have been working with a young First Nations boy who has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and has been ordered into counselling due to several charges, ranging from assault to car theft, all while he was under the influence of alcohol or meth. He has been a very challenging client for me to engage until I happened to see him at your production on addiction" — which was Meth.
"At our next session I casually asked him what he thought of the Meth play. He immediately lit up and started to talk about how real it was and how much it reflected his own situation. It was the most talking that he had done up to that point, and we have continued to return to it on many occasions. I wanted to let you know how your play impacted both myself and my client and thank you."
Stuart Johnson, counsellor, program director, Vanderhoof Alcohol and Drug Services.
I could have brought you 28 pages of these testimonials in ten-point print, each a window into a world deeply touched by art.
You know, we have a definitions problem in the arts and culture sector. Tax dollars to other industries are industrial subsidies. We get government grants. Industrial subsidies sound like good business practice, and grants sound like handouts. Yet every single dollar invested by the province in arts returns up to $1.36 back to the provincial treasuries. It is a good and sound business investment.
When the current minister responsible for culture asks the public what they would rather have us fund, art and culture or education and health, he's missing this fact, and he is not understanding how profoundly art and culture is education and health.
Cuts to an already tiny arts and culture budget hurt communities. This in turn hurts education because art and culture challenges us and nurtures critical thinking. Art in schools nurtures better students. It hurts health because in the same way that individuals need to express themselves to be healthy, so do living communities.
What does it mean for our major cultural self-reflection to be through U.S.-based TV and movies?
To put all of this in a financial context, total arts and culture spending — including money to the B.C. Arts Council from gaming, to the ministry staff, to the Royal B.C. Museum and including the $7 million it has just returned — equals 0.1 percent of the total budget, according to the government's own figures. The B.C. Arts Council portion, again including the $7 million that's just been returned, represents 0.04 percent of the total budget. That's what this whole controversy has just been about.
Canada is one of the lowest funders on a per-capita basis of culture in the western world, and British Columbia is by far the lowest in the country. This is a national disgrace. Quebec, which sits in the middle ranking No. 6, is $41.65 per capita; Alberta, second to the last, $20.81 per capita; British Columbia, at the very bottom, $9.67 per capita.
What do the recent cuts to the B.C. Arts Council in gaming mean in practical terms to companies like Headlines Theatre? Operating funds are very, very difficult to replace. Our yearly budget averages around $300,000. Forty-five percent of that comes from various levels of government, 30 percent is other fundraising, and 25 percent is earned income. We'll either have to do much less work, or we'll have to charge a lot more for that work.
Keep in mind that the communities we work with are themselves impoverished, meaning their access to this work will be severely limited. This will happen because of a double whammy being experienced by the arts and culture sector between already low levels of B.C. Arts Council funding and the diversion of what are really small amounts of gaming funds away from arts and culture.
We anticipate losing our gaming funds entirely this coming year. Gaming is the way many cultural groups who do not get enough operating funds manage to survive. They've been devastated by the changes in gaming and have laid off staff or reduced their output, like the See Seven theatre companies. Some have closed their doors entirely, like the Helen Pitt Gallery.
The government's now targeting gaming money for arts and culture only to youth projects. This is misguided. When did violence turn into a youth issue? When did addiction turn into a youth issue? Racism, suicide, gangs — these are, all of them, intergenerational issues.
By ghettoizing these issues into one generation, we are abrogating our responsibilities to youth. How do you say to a 15-year-old that she has to deal with her drug addiction when she's going home to an alcoholic father or grandmother or a parent who's addicted to work?
With all of this in mind, the question, I guess, is: what do we need from this committee? We need five things.
First, we need to stop calling taxpayer dollars for arts and culture grants and start referring to them as the cost-effective industrial subsidies that they are. This could begin with this Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.
Second, we need a tripling of the arts and culture budget allocation. Allocating 0.3 percent of the overall budget, up from 0.1 percent, would equal $19.62 per capita and still be the lowest in the country, but it would certainly be better than we are now. This would mean an allocation to the B.C. Arts Council of 0.12 percent of the budget, up from 0.04, 12/100 of 1 percent.
Third, we need across-the-board reinstatement of the gaming funds allocation to arts and culture, accessible on the same criteria as before the cuts and changes in focus.
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Fourth, we need stability. The last year or more has been complete chaos for the arts and culture sector. We need a similar model to that in place at the Canada Council, and that's three-year stable funding cycles. We need to be able to plan effectively.
Lastly, we need a specific direction in the budget.
The B.C. Arts Council's arm's-length status is sacred and will never, regardless of the political complexion of government, be threatened again. Government has no role to play in determining the content of cultural expression. When this happens in so-called uncivilized countries, we wave our fingers at them from here in the West.
All of us, regardless of our political affiliation, need to be very, very concerned about the recent move in this direction here in British Columbia. These are not complicated or unreasonable requests. Each of them will help build a healthy arts and culture sector, which in turn helps build a very healthy province.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks, David, and thanks for your work in the Hazeltons and Gitxsan territories over the years — I know we've been involved in some of that together, and I really appreciate what's happened up there — and for your presentation. It was very succinct and well put.
I have a question there around the casting of the arts funding and not seeing it as part of the bigger picture around health, for instance. I don't know if you have any suggestions. I mean, you said 45 percent of your funding comes from various levels of government.
I know you've been around for a long time, so you might have some insight into perhaps how the government could take a different tack, a different approach to funding organizations such as yours and other arts and cultural organizations — whose impact is even greater than that one silo; its impact is on health and other areas. I know the government gets stuck in funding silos — "Well, that's health, and that's arts and culture" — but you've put it very well how the impact of the activities of your organization and others crosses many boundaries.
D. Diamond: I think what it takes is a philosophical shift. You know, we talk about breaking down silos. We talk about that a lot, but it doesn't actually happen. At a very top level, if the health sector really understood the benefits of arts and culture…. I don't actually think it's operating money; I think it is project money. Project money would be much more easily accessible for specific projects that work — for instance, in addictions or mental health issues or whatever. That money is very hard to come by inside the Health Ministry.
After you saw Meth, we did get some money from the Solicitor General's office to tour Meth, but it was only…. [Laughter.]
I don't want to make it sound like that, but you know, there was a process there. It was only because a human being had come and got it. That has to happen. People have to get it. It needs to be easier to access funds, and I think that means there need to be programs created to help support that kind of work. It means understanding that the arts and cultural work is the educational work, is the health work, etc. — and government can do that.
J. Thornthwaite: My question or comment is something I've been struggling with in the last year as a new MLA. There's lots of money that goes out of the Ministry of Housing and Social Development which goes directly to groups such as yours, but there is also money that goes indirectly via the other ministries, including Tourism, Culture and the Arts via, I guess, the Arts Council.
I'm trying to get a handle on these groups that are getting funding from one source and funding from another source and then trying to understand how that all goes with the most recent Auditor General's report we had, which said that government should be more accountable for the funds that go out. What you're asking for, with direct arm's-length funding to the Arts Council and no government involvement, seems to go in contrast to that.
D. Diamond: No, we are very accountable for that money.
J. Thornthwaite: What I'm saying is that you're accountable, maybe, to the Arts Council. But are you saying that government does not have a role at all about where that money goes once it goes to the Arts Council?
D. Diamond: No, I'm saying government doesn't have a role in determining the content.
J. Thornthwaite: Oh, okay.
D. Diamond: That's what I said. This is where we just went. We were all listening to those headlines: "Yes, you can get this money, if the work is about this." Folks, that's very dangerous, really.
J. Thornthwaite: I guess what I'm getting at is that it's a kind of a balance for us. I understand what you're saying, but does your particular group get money, either directly through gaming grants or exclusively through the Arts Council?
D. Diamond: No, we have to knit money together from…. We fundraise every single day of the year.
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J. Thornthwaite: But I'm talking about from the provincial government.
D. Diamond: We have been getting money from gaming for quite some time now. As I said, I think that's going to disappear entirely this coming year. We get operating money from the B.C. Arts Council, and the reporting that happens on both those is extensive — really extensive. You know, I don't know how it can be more responsible than it is.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. Thank you for your presentation this morning, David. We're out of time, and we have to stay on time. Thank you very much.
Our next presenter is Dr. Judith Marcuse.
J. Marcuse: Good morning, everyone. I've decided to jettison my presentation because David has duplicated a lot of what I was going to say. I wonder if it would be more productive to just talk about some of the work in this area that crosses these silos that's happening actually right now in B.C.
Headlines is doing extraordinary work, as are lots of other organizations. We have programs in prisons. We have programs that deal with new Canadians, programs that are run by arts organizations doing arts for social change, arts in community — whatever the name is that you want to call it. Community cultural development is another word for it.
We have work with at-risk youth on the Downtown Eastside. We have a festival that happens every year on the Downtown Eastside that involves hundreds and hundreds of local residents.
There is a huge amount of this form of work happening in B.C. B.C. is one the leading provinces in the country doing this kind of cross-silo development work.
One of the things that we're dealing with right now is that there's a lack of talk about moving forward. John, you asked about how we can get other sectors involved, in government, in this kind of work. I think that dialogue across the sectors is absolutely critical.
There's a whole new field. I work all over the world, and there's a new field that's developing that is loosely called social innovation. It's also called social entrepreneurship. The social innovation field brings together people from different sectors in dialogue to solve complex problems.
So if you're talking about reducing child poverty, the people in the room who are looking at creating policy and programs are not just the urban planners, but they're urban planners. They're the street nurses. They're people receiving services. There's a cross-silo impulse to create a conversation about how these solutions can be found, new ways forward.
For 30 years I've been trying to get people in education to talk to the federal arts people, because the arts have a huge role to play in this inter-silo conversation. Yes, education is a provincial jurisdiction, and arts and culture — through the Canada Council, for example — is federal, so I know that that's jurisdictionally a difficult conversation. They're finally beginning to happen. Here in B.C. I've had conversations with people from different ministries around the table, and we have succeeded in beginning to understand each other's languages.
I started a new centre a couple of years ago, in partnership with Simon Fraser University, called the International Centre of Art for Social Change. One of our agendas, because there's so much foundational work to do in this kind of cross-sectoral work, is to have those conversations. There's also huge need for education in the field. And research — there's very little happening in B.C.
Really, what we need is to begin those conversations in the province so that people will begin to understand the efficacy of these forms of arts practice in their own agendas. This is what the centre is really set up to do.
In our own work, I could tell you — 30 years of work, piles and piles of letters and emails — there's evidence. There's statistical and there is qualitative evidence to prove that this kind of work has potency and sustainability, not just here in Canada but all over the world. When I work in Pakistan or South Africa — I just came back from the Hague recently — it's a hugely expanding field worldwide.
We have just initiated the first course of its kind in Canada at Simon Fraser University. We could have filled that course more than twice over within four days of offering it for registration. A lot of young people are really interested in using the arts as a lens, as a way to create dialogue to create positive change in their communities.
I can't really tell you enough how exciting this field is right now and how it's growing, but we need foundational support for it, and we need to have those conversations with business. When you've got the head of the Harvard Business School saying in an address about four years ago now that the new MBA is an MFA — a different lens, a different way of solving problems….
I have a colleague who talks about Storyland versus Datastan. Datastan is the world of the quantifiable — the bottom line, even if it's a triple bottom line. There are new bottom lines, as you know, evolving in the private sector. People are very hungry to look at the world through a new lens, through the lens of the imagination, through dialogue, through creativity. Because we have incredibly complex problems at the local, national and international levels, and these silos will not solve them. What the arts provide is a new way of creating dialogue and insight and hope for communities who are trying to tackle these problems.
I have pages of notes, but I would much rather talk with you if you are interested in doing that.
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J. Les (Chair): Sure, thank you very much.
B. Ralston: I'm sure many of the members of the committee are aware of your national and your international reputation, but there are people who read the transcript who may not be aware of that. I'm wondering if you could briefly describe what your contribution to the arts has been specifically over the years. I know that might be a little bit difficult to sum up, but not everyone is familiar with what you do. That might be helpful for people who read the transcript and might understand that you're speaking from a place of some authority and experience.
J. Marcuse: Well, I'm 63. I'm a battle-scarred veteran.
B. Ralston: That's not what I meant.
J. Marcuse: I've lived in B.C. for close to 30 years. I've lived in Europe for many years. I was a professional dancer; I was with the Royal Ballet in London. I come from a kind of mainstream arts background. I'm best known in the country as a choreographer and producer. I've produced large festivals. The last festival we produced was during the World Urban Forum. About 20,000 people came to that. That was a $1½ million festival.
We've done projects over the years in arts for social change work that have budgets between $3 million and $4 million — five-year projects on teen suicide, national projects and local projects; another five-year project on how youth experience violence in their lives. These involve workshops and national touring and the creation….
ICE: Beyond Cool, which was the piece around the issues that lead to suicide, was broadcast in an adaptation on the network — an hour-long program with an on-line talkback. EARTH=home has just come off the road across the country to nine cities. It's about the environment — all based in work with young people that's then translated into various forms.
I teach and I speak all over the world right now for the centre. We have a national and international network. There is a health and arts network, a burgeoning one, in Canada. It was founded by Nancy Duxbury here in B.C.
There are all kinds of incipient developments in this work, across silos. I would be so delighted to…. I advise on policy in various…. I consult. That's enough, isn't it?
B. Ralston: Yeah, it gives a pretty good idea.
J. Les (Chair): Anybody else have a question? If not, thank you very much for coming this morning.
It almost sounds more interesting somehow when people just, as you said, jettison their presentation.
D. Diamond: I'll try not to take that personally.
J. Les (Chair): Sorry about that, David.
J. Marcuse: Yeah, but the most interesting moments happen when people forget their lines and they start improvising. Thank you.
B. Ralston: That's what the journalists think in our business.
J. Les (Chair): That's right.
Our next presentation is from the corporation of Delta. Her Worship, Lois Jackson, is here with Sean McGill.
L. Jackson: Thank you. Good morning, everyone.
This is really a pleasure to be here this morning. I was very happily surprised to understand that the committee was meeting and that we were able to come before you today with what we think is a very, very important issue. And I'm sure you'll think it is too. I'm just hoping that there is some way we can move forward with it, given the situation that we have before us.
I think everyone has been handed a copy of our presentation. I'm going to do the executive summary and simply let you know that, of course, the Fraser River, the mighty Fraser, is British Columbia's largest river. It flows 1,400 kilometres and drains about a quarter of our landscape. It also carries 20 million tonnes of sediment annually into the Fraser delta, most of it during the spring freshet.
Historically, dredging of the Fraser River was the responsibility of the Canadian Coast Guard and was funded by the federal government, but in late 1998 federal funding ceased. The responsibility for dredging the deep sea shipping channels was passed on to what is now Port Metro Vancouver.
Also at that time Transport Canada placed engineered structures at key locations in the lower Fraser, and they set out these concrete groins to divert most of the flow into the main channel. This was successful in reducing the need for dredging the main channel. It was, however, a major detriment to the local navigational channels, where the flow was reduced by as much as 70 percent, thereby accelerating the deposit of all of the sediment coming down the Fraser.
Despite the fact that we're speaking from a Delta perspective, this happens right up at Hope and comes all the way down. I know a lot of you that are in those areas can see those results.
Since the secession of the federal dredging program way back when, there has been over ten years — I think it's probably more than that — of sediment accumulation in the lower Fraser local navigation channels. The recent analysis has determined that about 1.2 million cubic metres of sediment needs to be removed to return the channel to the pre-1990 conditions.
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The sediment loads are expected to increase, of course, as a result of a lot of the deforestation and the soil erosion caused by the mountain pine beetle. That's a concern to all of us, but in fact, we do see a lot of sediment from those areas.
There are, as we see it, potential impacts that the continued de-dredging of the local channels will include. One of the important ones — this is why I think we've come to talk to the province about this — is the increase in flood risk.
We all know that — was it two or three years ago? — a major flood was a very major concern right down to the strait. Failure to adequately dredge these local channels contributes to the rising of the riverbed and, of course, a greater likelihood of a high spring freshet river flow overtopping the dikes and that entire system, particularly if it's coupled with a very heavy snowfall.
Again, you might remember that very, very iffy situation. I think we got very lucky. The province came forward with a lot of work relative to dikes all the way along the Fraser that year, and that was a very good thing. But in the meantime, the river bottom continues to rise.
We are also vulnerable to climate change. We had a recent research project undertaken by Natural Resources Canada which did identify the Fraser delta as being highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change — the increasing storm severity and the rise of the sea level. Dike reinforcement and river dredging are really key components to the mitigation strategy on climate change.
Interestingly, we did go to the standing committee for the federal government here. I'm not sure, Sean, if that was last year or the year before.
S. McGill: Last year.
L. Jackson: Last year. What they asked us was: "Yes, we get it. We understand it. We understand that money for the St. Lawrence Seaway far surpasses any moneys that are spent federally on the Fraser River." But they did say: "Okay. What's the economic impact?" So we went back to the hall, and Sean put together a paper on the impacts on the provincial and local economy.
Industries and urban areas along the Fraser River account for 80 percent of the provincial and 10 percent of the national gross domestic product. In 2003 DFO commissioned a study to assess the economic impacts of the small craft harbours network, of the fishing harbours, in British Columbia.
According to that study, in 2001 the province's 101 fishing harbours generated upwards of $800 million in economic activity. In 2008 Port Metro Vancouver, our port, handled over $33 million tonnes of cargo, contributing $4.6 billion in the GDP and $9.6 million in economic output. The mighty Fraser has a huge economic impact on the province and on the local communities.
So on the local scale, numerous communities along the lower Fraser River, from Delta and Richmond up to Mission and beyond, are being negatively impacted by that lack of dredging and the economic losses totalling millions of dollars — including property devaluation, relocation of industries, loss of property tax, impacts on local marinas, local fisheries and float home communities. They're all affected.
In Delta the impacts of sedimentation are most apparent in the channels around the Ladner Harbour. You can physically see what is happening there. This vital economic, cultural and community harbour is often only accessible at high tide. It's not uncommon to see vessels stranded or run aground in the centre of the local channel. The Ladner Harbour is one of 1,170 small craft harbours owned by DFO and is included in the 750 considered to be core harbours that are critical to fishing and to aquaculture industries.
We have a local community group. It's called the Ladner Sediment Group, and they have recently been funded by Port Metro Vancouver — I think it was around $60,000 — to undertake a study on the sedimentation and the river flow processes in Ladner, in the harbour. The goal is to develop a long-term sustainable sediment management plan for our harbour — and actually, right out to the strait — a plan that does not necessarily imply an annual dredging to solve the problem. It's not sustainable — that continued dredging. Financially, it's not sustainable. This is what this computer modelling is going to help us with.
Looking at the flow diversion scenarios which could be underway and as a result help us with the sustainable flow through the areas…. We're hoping that this is going to be finished by the end of this year so we can analyze that.
The corporation of Delta is also preparing a grant application to the provincial flood protection program of emergency management B.C. for funding to assist in implementing the Ladner Harbour sediment management program once it has been developed.
This issue of local channel dredging has been raised at numerous times with the FCM, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Presentations have been made to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, which we attended last year; to federal and provincial ministers; and to the B.C. federal Conservative caucus last year as well. But so far no government agency has been willing to commit to funding for this essential service.
So in summation, there is an immediate and urgent need to establish a long-term, sustainable dredging program for the secondary navigational channels of the lower Fraser. Delta is therefore requesting that the provincial government, with or without federal support,
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contribute some annual funding for the local navigation channel dredging in the lower Fraser.
I guess I can take off my Delta hat and put on my regional government hat. Even the Fraser Valley regional group, in looking at some of the channels up there…. We're all very, very concerned. I think the biggest concern, aside from the economics and the fishing and all of the other things, is the question of flooding. Of course, that is a provincial mandate, and that's why we thought we should give everyone a heads-up and see if there's something that can be done to change some of the flows in the Fraser and assist us in this way.
We've handed out some information for you to take away that's a little bit more in-depth, and of course the map. We're open for questions.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you, Lois.
J. van Dongen: Thanks, Lois, for, I think, one of the more concise and detailed papers I've seen on this issue. As you know, this is a very big issue for all communities right up to Chilliwack and Hope. I think there has to be a concerted effort to re-engage the federal government. We have to work together on that — we as a provincial government — because of the flood risk.
The safety issues have on previous occasions engaged in putting up dollars on an emergency basis, but I think that a long-term, annually funded, federal-provincial local program like we had — up until about, well, I think it's even more than ten years now — is an absolute necessity. It's not a luxury.
I think the basis for that is set out in your paper. The kind of money that they spend in other regions — the federal government spends — not just on the St. Lawrence Seaway but also, for example, the Red River in Manitoba is a must too, and I think we need to recommit ourselves to this effort. So thanks for what I think is a very good paper describing the problem and some of the details around it.
L. Jackson: Thank you, John. You know, again, it's not something that we're going to do this moment, but I think we have to start building these relationships. When ministers from the province or when the Premier goes to talk to people at the federal level, that kind of knowledge may help us at that level as well.
J. van Dongen: I would just add to the science and the facts in your paper the work that's been done. I live along the Fraser River. I've lived along the Fraser River or a tributary to that river most of my life. For example, at Mission I watched the river in '96, '97 and some of the high-run years that we've had, and believe me, the risk is very high.
L. Jackson: It's very scary.
J. van Dongen: I think that we have work to do on this issue.
L. Jackson: I appreciate that. Thank you very much for your comments.
J. Les (Chair): Just a question, if I might, Lois. In your presentation…. I think it's very well set out, but from a Delta perspective, what kind of dollars are required to properly address the situation you described?
L. Jackson: Now, we've got the channel, which comes in by Canoe Pass and around the tip of Westham Island, where a lot of farming country is. It goes right from there right down into the harbour. If you look at the map, you can see exactly how long that is.
Sean, do you know how many dollars that is — to dredge it?
S. McGill: Yeah, if I may. What we've said in the paper and we've said all along is about $5 million to get it back to the levels we need to get to and $500,000 annually.
What we're actually waiting for is…. We're spending about $125,000 right now doing a study with Hayco. We've done the first half of that where they actually take the sediment, seeing what it's made of, looking for beneficial uses, trying to figure out where we can get rid of the stuff.
Then we're going to run modelling on about four or five options we think logically make sense. That may be opening up channels that were previously closed, putting physical barriers in certain areas and rediverting the flow. They're going to run that modelling. That's supposed to be done by January of next year, and that will give us a better number.
We've talked about $5 million, but until we know for sure the modelling…. That's a huge first step. We went to visit the federal government. They were interested in seeing the results of that modelling. The modelling efforts to date have been done on different areas with different bridges coming. They've been pretty accurate, actually.
The numbers we have talked about are $5 million. The grant application we're putting in is for $5 million, which would be a one-third cost share by provincial, federal and municipal governments. Port Metro Vancouver has committed some moneys toward this effort. That's the number we're talking about right now.
J. Les (Chair): Good. That's good to know.
Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
L. Jackson: You're very, very welcome. And just to show you, John, that there are no hard feelings about
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the meeting we had in Chilliwack, I brought you all Delta pins.
J. Les (Chair): Man, Oh man. These are incinerator-proof, I am assuming.
L. Jackson: Absolutely. There's no waste energy in those.
A Voice: I want to know what happened in Chilliwack.
L. Jackson: It was a good evening, John.
Thank you so much. We do have to have a laugh now and then, don't we? Thank you so much again for all your help.
J. Les (Chair): Delta pins, anyone?
Our next presentation is from the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of British Columbia — Peter Leitch, Menashe Arbel, Brian Hamilton.
P. Leitch: Good morning. Thank you very much for seeing us. Wow, this is a very efficient process here.
J. Les (Chair): It's got to be, Peter.
P. Leitch: Anyway, I think we're all aware of the success of B.C.'s motion picture industry. We did $1.3 billion a year ago, and we're trying to build on that. We've seen that Vancouver and British Columbia have had tremendous advantages over other jurisdictions because we've had a long history of this industry. We've now got not only the motion picture industry, of course. We've got interactive gaming with companies like EA. We've got animation. So we've really got kind of everything here and tremendous opportunity for continuing to contribute to the economy of British Columbia.
We spent approximately a year negotiating with the government after Ontario raised their tax credits significantly, and we came up with a bit of a compromise where we certainly have a lower rate than them.
But we think we have other things to offer. We've got about a billion dollars worth of infrastructure that the private sector has contributed towards this industry. Plus we've got the advantages of having world-class companies being located here. So we've got the infrastructure. We've got the companies.
When you think about some of the companies that are here now, with Technicolor and Deluxe and Pixar and Digital Domain and Sharpe Sound — plus we've got local production companies that have had significant success; plus we have all the post-production sound companies like Post Modern Sound, where Menashe, the president, is here with us today — we've really become a film centre in British Columbia.
In our negotiations we had a number of different asks. It was a fairly comprehensive package that we provided the government with. And there were two things that didn't happen that have had a pretty significant impact. One of them that we asked for, which was at a $2 million cost, approximately, was to have all post-production — which is after principal photography, where you add visual effects and all the sound, etc. — covered by the DAVE tax credit.
The DAVE tax credit is the digital animation visual effects credit. Currently it covers portions of post-productions, but an example of what it doesn't cover is sound, for instance. You can imagine a movie without sound; it just isn't quite the same.
What we're seeing now is that a lot of the post work — especially with the television series, which used to actually post up here — is now being more centralized in the U.S. We think that if we're covering it by DAVE now — and there are 19 series going on in British Columbia right now — we can bring this work up to British Columbia.
In terms of physical production, we're getting close to capacity in terms of what the city can…. You know, when we've got 30 productions going on here…. I'm not saying there's not room for growth in that area, but what we'd like to do is really get more of the pie.
In other words, if we can do more of the post work on it, then I think there's tremendous opportunity for growth. And we've got the education facilities now. We've got the skilled talent. We've got the companies now that can employ these people. We just need to make sure that we've created an environment where they can do the work.
What we're asking for is a relatively minor change in terms of the regulations to make sure that all post is covered by the DAVE credit. That'll make a significant difference in allowing us to compete, especially for some of the U.S.-based television series and some of the independent films that come up here.
We need these post companies to be here. When we're talking about the Technicolors and the Deluxes and the Post Modern Sounds and the Sharpe Sounds, these companies are in jeopardy right now as a result of a couple of factors. One is that there's a decline in the B.C.-based business. But another one certainly is the competition from other jurisdictions, especially down in Los Angeles in the U.S.
Menashe, you may want to comment a little bit about what your company has been faced with recently.
M. Arbel: Just briefly, again, thank you for listening to us, and thank you for the help that the government gave us. Post Modern Sound is a 35-year-old company. We have 25,000 square feet, a multi-million investment into infrastructure. I think we have one of the best facilities
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in North America with infrastructure. We employ about 35 to 40 people; it depends on how busy we are.
We've been through one of the worst years ever. The challenge that we are facing is that when some of the work crosses our door…. For instance, if it's an animated movie, it's covered by DAVE. The minute that they walk into our facility, it's not covered by DAVE. And it's very difficult to explain — to market ourselves to our clients — why sound is not part of the DAVE tax credit.
The cost for us is human infrastructure. Just yesterday one of my mixers who has 15 years in the business is going to be an apprentice in order to be an electrician because he cannot feed his family.
The question is: if we want to be a centre with post-production facilities servicing the industry, we need to maintain the infrastructure, because no one would build Post Modern Sound again as a new investment into post-production.
So really, with a minimal cost, it would give us a tool to go back to the clients and try to get this work back to us with the new opportunities with Pixar and Sony that are coming into town.
The urgency is that if we do anything today, then we might save 2011. If we do something in 2011, it might be too late for some of us, and it would be in effect only in 2012. So it's really survival. The question is: do we start scaling down, laying off people, or do we try to attract the market back to us with the new possibilities, which is doable?
We need the tool. It's not going to be the only tool that will save us, but it definitely would make us competitive. Thank you.
P. Leitch: Another key issue that we think is important in terms of building this industry is really to build a solid, B.C.-based production industry, and Brian Hamilton can speak to that.
B. Hamilton: Yes, good morning. I am a partner in Omni Film Productions — also a 30-year history here in Vancouver. I'm also the co-chair of MPPIA's committee that focuses on B.C.-owned production.
Of the $1.3 billion, about 20 percent is represented by production that is owned and controlled by B.C. companies. In terms of growth opportunities, that is a growth opportunity. That sector, that slice of the pie, has been shrinking a lot. We've been losing market share tremendously to Ontario. That was an unintended consequence of the tax credit changes that came through in February where the service tax credits were altered but the domestic tax credits were left where they were.
B.C. producers are willing, ready and able to work with the government in moving the B.C. knowledge- and creative-based economy to a new level. B.C.-owned entertainment production has huge potential to become a significant B.C. export. Like log harvesting, production services are only one part of the industry value chain, so the most effective way to create jobs and add value while keeping the control and head offices in B.C. is to invest in B.C.-owned entertainment production.
With correct government policy shifts, even small investments can propel B.C. industry up the value chain, allowing it to retain and export more of its intellectual property. This will create a substantially more sustainable B.C. creative sector, a more profitable industry and more government revenues.
My company's current series, called Ice Pilots, is a good example of the benefits of moving up the value chain. Our company made a substantial initial investment in research in filming a demo for this project before there were any broadcast buyers interested. This development process can be likened to oil and gas exploration where you drill many holes before you hit pay dirt. This project was snapped up by our broadcaster and has become a national and international hit.
We own and control all the rights to this project, and our company has reaped the rewards. We're now in our third season, we've generated more than $15 million of economic activity, and we've exported the program around the world. International sales will continue to flow royalties back to B.C. for many years to come. Our company reinvests the revenue from Ice Pilots and others like it in creating new jobs and triggering new R and D, continuing the cycle.
Our initial investment in Ice Pilots was made possible in part by a program administered by B.C. Film, which is the provincial funding agency for film, television and interactive media. That program specifically targeted this early investment to the development phase of entertainment production. This program is no longer in operation at B.C. Film because of budget cuts.
To be sustainable in the long term, the B.C. industry must move up the value chain to where B.C. companies participate in all aspects of film-making, not just production, and also post-production. The right investments will propel B.C. industry to become a fully integrated production centre. Recent tax credit changes have further disadvantaged the B.C.-content entrepreneurs and reinforced B.C.'s position as primarily a service provider.
Considering the government's very tight fiscal situation, we're focusing our requests regarding B.C.-owned production in two areas: firstly, some immediate small administrative adjustments to Film Incentive B.C., which is the tax credit that targets B.C.-owned work; and secondly, investment in solutions and opportunities on the development R-and-D side.
In terms of the small administrative changes we have three specific requests: (1) providing a 5 percent bonus incentive for new Canadian TV pilots and series, (2) including writer fees as eligible labour expenditures,
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and (3) removing the copyright grind on interprovincial co-productions. Now, these are obviously technical requests that I won't go into lots of detail with. But those will have the immediate effect of stimulating B.C. production.
Then the other and longer-term request that we have is to reinstate a development fund that will contribute to this early stage of R and D on projects. This could be administered again by B.C. Film and would demonstrate a significant government commitment toward the success of the B.C.-owned entertainment production sector.
Losing competitive ground on the B.C. tax credits and loss of funding to B.C. Film has negatively impacted the B.C.-owned entertainment production sector. If we don't act quickly, it will require years to restore the overall industry to its stature in the North American market. Just as a comparison, this past year B.C.-owned production declined year over year about 40 percent, so it is a drastic decline that we are very eager to reverse.
This development mechanism will also ensure that B.C. producers are able to access their fair share of federal government funds through programs such as the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board. For example, in 2000 and 2001, B.C. Film reported that this kind of development funding leverages over six times the funds of federal governments. In other words, $1 invested by the B.C. government would allow companies like ourselves to leverage $6.58 in federal funds that otherwise would go to other provinces.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you. I've got a couple of questions.
N. Letnick: I just want to say thank you for the presentation and acknowledge the important work that you do in the province and the number of people that you employ. That's really appreciated.
Two questions. One has to do with the province generally, and the other one has to do with my little part of it in the Okanagan.
In the Okanagan I have some people looking at perhaps building a film studio, and they're asking me: "Is that something that's actually workable?" So my first question is: is that something we're talking about — moving some of the work outside of the Lower Mainland? From a 40,000 foot level, what kind of advice would you give these people?
The second one has to do with the elephant in the room, which is the harmonized sales tax or going back to a provincial sales tax. You talked about the value change, and I assume over the last few months you've dealt with your suppliers and had them reduce their prices because they were getting input tax credits.
You also talked about losing market share to Ontario. We saw what the Premier said yesterday and how wonderful it would be for us to go back to the PST as far as competitiveness for Ontario.
Could you maybe comment on what would happen for your industry if we went back to the PST, in terms of competitiveness? Also, the question is: can we build film studios outside of the Lower Mainland?
B. Hamilton: I'll hand it over to Peter for the second part of that question. But it's certainly the case that the motion picture industry here in B.C. is a strong supporter of HST, that it will save. It is already making our budgets more competitive, and it's a positive for us in lots of ways. So to go back to the old PST system would be of great concern to producers like ourselves.
P. Leitch: Yeah, we were one of the big benefactors of HST. We did not get the manufacturing deduction on PST, so of course, all our inputs that attract PST now we get a rebate on. It's made a huge difference, especially for, I'd say, some of the smaller films where the numbers become so important that that marginal difference is going to make a huge difference.
Also, I'm meeting with Joe Hartwick, the president of Twentieth Century Fox, this afternoon, and he's thrilled that we've brought in the HST. He's been asking for the PST manufacturing exemption for the last 15 years, and we haven't been able to deliver that to him as a result of Ontario continuing to increase tax credits. That's been a priority — to sort of stay in the ballpark that way.
On the other question, we are in the studio business. I manage two companies, or two film studios, in town, so we're kind of aware of the economics of it. You have to be an entrepreneur to get into this business in the first place and put some of your capital at risk, and that's certainly what our owners have done and what Menashe has done and Brian has done.
When Stephen Cannell first came up here, he built North Shore Studios. Everybody thought he was a little bit crazy, but it's turned out to be a real success. I think that production is eventually going to be less dependent on centres like Vancouver and have opportunities to go elsewhere, as long as the facilities are available and the crews are available. But it's a tremendous investment to undertake in a jurisdiction in which you're just not sure how steady the business is going to be.
I applaud the people that are taking the leading role in doing those things, and I think it would create jobs if you have the facilities. But it's a risky business. I'm very optimistic about the industry, and I think we've got some opportunities to have a tremendous industry — and we already do — in British Columbia. I applaud those that are taking those next steps to bring it outside of the Lower Mainland.
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B. Hamilton: In terms of control, if a B.C.-owned company were to develop a show that was set in the Okanagan, it would automatically be shot in the Okanagan. Right now if a foreign-controlled production is considering the Okanagan, they'd be maybe considering New Mexico and all sorts of other locations. It becomes a bit of a cost and dance to convince the decision-makers where to go.
Clearly, the more projects that we have that are only controlled in B.C., the more projects are going to flow to your region.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Quick question. Thanks for your presentation and the work you do — especially the people directly involved in the industry, the risk-takers. It's nice to hear from you directly.
The quick question I had is: beyond tax incentives — which I think most would agree have their limits in a civil society — what other mechanisms…? Brian, you mentioned a few, but I'm interested in tools that would help in the post-production and that, beyond tax incentives. Any thoughts on that — that government can do? You briefly touched on education being pretty good, but are there other things that you've considered, especially around post-production, other than tax incentives?
P. Leitch: Well, I think it's looking at the industry as a whole versus looking at it as, "Hey, we're doing really good on the service side," or whatever. That's why I think the three of us all look at this as the big picture, because we're so interdependent. I need Menashe's company here to be able to attract business here because that differentiates us from New Mexico and Louisiana.
In terms of investment, if we are confident…. I think we have seen the results of that, where other jurisdictions aren't necessarily doing what they say they're going to do. In British Columbia the government has been very consistent in its tax credit program. When we have a tax credit program here, we deliver on it. Other jurisdictions haven't necessarily done that, so I think the consistency is really important.
I think the continued dialogue with government is important — the opportunity for us to come here and say that these are the two areas right now that we're concerned with. I think we're looking out for the province as well as the industry itself, in the opportunities.
I just think that if we are consistent and we look at…. Technologically, things are changing, so we've got to be a bit flexible in terms of what we need to do next. It's not that we're coming here to say: "Hey, we need to match Ontario." That's not the case. We're coming to sort of say: "These are two areas which are really important to us." If you fix those, then the private sector will take care of the rest by investing more money, hiring more people, etc.
M. Arbel: Just to add to that, I'll give an example. If a student is graduating from any one of the schools and they come to us, they need at least five years of training on the job in order to be able to deliver a certain level of service to our clients. Schooling is great. I have a stack of about a hundred resumés of people that are trying to volunteer in order to learn on the job, but I have nothing to offer them because I am trying to feed the 15-years experience guys in order to feed their families. The potential of schooling is great as long as you have jobs.
The other side of it is that these guys, the professional ones, are a phone call away from any jurisdiction in North America or in the world. They can go to L.A. and work there; they can go to New York; they can go to Toronto. Five years ago I had calls from Toronto, calling us, saying: "Would you give me a chance?" Now I'm losing people to other jurisdictions. It will be very difficult to bring them back.
It's as Peter said. We need to have post-production and studios and domestic production in order to be a centre. Just give us the tools to compete. This is what we're trying to do.
J. Les (Chair): Gentlemen, thank you very much. We're out of time. I appreciate your presentation.
Our next presenter is Kyle Acierno from the Simon Fraser Student Society.
K. Acierno: Hello, everybody. I know you guys are getting hungry, so I'm going to make this as brief as possible. It's fortunate that these men were ahead of me, and also Judith. I think they're both here advocating for the same cause as I am.
As you said, my name is Kyle Acierno. I am from the Simon Fraser Student Society. I'm here representing 25,000 undergraduate students. It's my pleasure to be here today and speak to you guys, and I appreciate this opportunity.
Today we live in the age of a knowledge-based economy, a time where post-secondary education is now what a high school diploma once was — a prerequisite for decent employment and economic opportunities. In British Columbia we see our population aging. We see alarmingly low levels of productivity. We see that an educated workforce is absolutely essential for a future of economic prosperity.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, there will be $1.9 billion invested in support of post-secondary education this year, so I know that you guys understand that education is important. But I'm here to plead for more.
You need to invest more because many people cannot afford to study in British Columbia. An Ipsos-Reid survey done in 2009 reveals that 25 percent of Canadians
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who are not continuing their education simply couldn't because of the price.
You need to invest more because we are struggling. I'm sure some of you guys live in Vancouver or in Victoria. You know how expensive housing is. You know how expensive it is to eat. You know how expensive it is to buy raincoats to fight this weather.
I'm from Burnaby. We go to school on a mountain, and I have to buy a winter jacket to go to that school.
We spend lots of money, but every fall and every spring there is one grey cloud above us, and that's tuition. Tuition, books, school supplies, coffee. Even coffee costs an arm and a leg. But the main struggle is tuition, and it's climbing every single year.
In 2001 tuition fees at SFU were approximately $2,310 for ten courses a year, which is an average course load for a full-time student studying. This year, for the same tuition course load, it is $4,815. That is an increase of 119 percent in ten years.
Inflation in British Columbia is approximately 16.8 percent, so that means tuition has increased seven times greater than inflation. We obviously cannot afford these costs, so we use the only mechanism available to us, and that's a loan. With a loan comes debt.
According to Diane Finley, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, in the next two weeks student debt owed to the federal government will surpass $15 billion. Students owe $15 billion. That's because the average graduate is $25,000 in debt, and that number is climbing. On that $25,000, we owe 5 percent interest, and we can't pay for it.
You guys know that people who are in debt are not good for the economy, and I'm asking you to help us.
The government gives money to SFU and other universities in British Columbia through initiatives such as the full-time-equivalent formula. That is the amount of money that government provides for each student. Although our tuition fees have gone up 119 percent, the amount of funding for each student hasn't increased at all.
At precisely the time in our history when B.C. needs to make that big jump from a resource extraction economy to a knowledge-based economy, we are falling short. Our competitors in Europe, in Asia, even in the States are investing more in education and more in training. They are allowing their universities to become more accessible. We in B.C. are making it more difficult.
Hon. members of the committee, countries are investing more in education because they understand that a largely educated population is needed for a healthy economy. They understand that employers benefit from a more highly skilled workforce, and taxpayers benefit because investments in post-secondary education pay off in higher tax revenues, as better-educated citizens earn higher incomes and are taxed in higher income tax brackets.
A recent report done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calculates that investment in education is worth three times the initial public investment. These increased revenues will go to pay for services that British Columbians value, like health care and infrastructure.
Please follow the lead that other countries are taking. Invest more in education. You will be investing in an improved economy. You will be investing in a healthier population. And most of all, hon. members of the committee, you will be investing in knowledge.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Kyle.
N. Letnick: Thank you for your presentation. Before I got into this line of work a year ago, I was teaching post-secondary for ten years, so I have a lot of experience and understanding of what you're talking about. A lot of students in my classes had challenges.
I just have one question for you. You said the average graduate is $25,000 in debt when they graduate. Are you talking about those that have debt having $25,000, on average, or are you talking about including all graduates, even those — maybe 50 percent — who don't have debt at all?
K. Acierno: From the numbers that I got, it was $25,000 for the average graduate, so that means that there are a lot of people who are way over $25,000 in debt.
N. Letnick: Okay, so if you have any information on that that you can submit later, I'd appreciate getting it. Thank you very much.
B. Ralston: One of the education systems that people talk about internationally as a model is Finland. There, I think most commentators agree, there's a much greater emphasis on science, math, engineering and technology. Do you have any suggestions to offer to the committee as to how students or prospective students might be encouraged or incented to follow…? Given that your argument is largely an economic one, how might they be encouraged to follow a course of studies in those areas as opposed to some of the ones that people like me, for example, were educated in?
K. Acierno: You're asking: how do we encourage students to study math and science and…?
B. Ralston: Well, science, math, engineering, technology — that whole cluster. I think there's a general view that for many of the jobs of the future, if you're looking at a kind of labour market study, those are areas where we need more people to be trained at a very high level.
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K. Acierno: I'm sorry. Off the top of my head I cannot think of any advice on this. I know it's important, but I don't have advice.
B. Ralston: I wasn't trying to stump you. I just wonder if you had any thoughts on it.
K. Acierno: I don't know. I mean, if you're looking at these models in Iceland, in Norway and in Sweden — in these countries — you know that education there is highly, highly subsidized. They almost study for free.
J. Thornthwaite: Hi. Thank you very much. I assume that you probably have seen that article in the Vancouver Sun over the weekend with regards to tuition and financial aid. One of the discussions was the difference between having, say, a high tuition and high aid versus high tuition, low aid — that sort of stuff. What they basically concluded was that higher tuition doesn't decrease access. It's the ability for students that need it to access financial aid.
I guess what I'm getting at…. I've got some stats from the minister, who said that we're kind of smack dab in the middle with regards to our tuition. As far as the other provinces, we're not the highest, and we're not the lowest. We're right in the middle. Maybe you could comment, if you would like, on the difference between focusing on tuition rates as opposed to providing aid.
K. Acierno: Yeah. I mean, we are right in the middle. But if you look at Quebec, for example, we are much, much higher than Quebec. The biggest problem is — and I agree that for students who need this assistance…. A lot of students who have financial need go through StudentAid B.C.
One of the things that we're really asking the government to look at is re-evaluating this program. Right now there's not enough money in the system for everyone to get it. For the students who really, really have a big desire for financial aid — they are having troubles accessing this money. So if there was a place to increase the amount of funding for these students, then I think that would be a very good way to solve this, or the problems that we're facing.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for the presentation. Last year we heard from the Canadian Federation of Students around interest rates on student loans. I might have missed it in your presentation. I know you touched on it, but do you have a recommendation around interest rates and student loans?
K. Acierno: Yeah. We're asking for the same thing as the CFS is, and that's that interest rates be reduced to prime. Prime is 2.2 percent or something like that right now. Yeah, that would be something that would help us tremendously.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. Thank you very much, Kyle. We appreciate your presentation.
Just in the door is our next presentation, from the Campaign to Control Cancer — Jim Favaro and Jayne Akizuki.
J. Favaro: Good morning, and thank you, hon. Chair. I would like to start by thanking the committee for this opportunity. It's a privilege and an honour to speak with you today.
My name is Jim Favaro, and I'm with Amgen, which is a global, research-based biotechnology company. Our Canadian research facility is located in Burnaby.
I'm testifying before you this year as a volunteer for a very worthy cause. It's called the Campaign to Control Cancer. We've all been touched by cancer, and cancer knows no boundaries. I am a proud British Columbian who believes we live in the best place on earth, and our province is the best place to live in Canada for a person fighting cancer.
Through the leadership of the B.C. government and the B.C. Cancer Agency, our province leads the way in how we prevent cancer and treat persons fighting cancer. But there is a lot more to be done. To keep British Columbia as a leader in cancer treatment in Canada, the Campaign to Control Cancer would like to request that the Finance Committee consider the following five recommendations for our 2011 budget.
Please contact your federal counterparts about the importance of a catastrophic drug coverage program in Canada. B.C. is a leader in catastrophic cancer drug coverage with B.C.'s Fair PharmaCare and the B.C. Cancer Agency.
Closer to home in our own right as a province, let's allocate $1 million for the catastrophic cancer drug bridging fund to allow for the coverage of new, innovative cancer drugs. The B.C. Cancer Agency has an annual process to approve new cancer therapies, and if a new cancer therapy becomes available in Canada in the interim, it could be up to a year before it is made available to British Columbians. The catastrophic cancer drug bridging fund would address this need.
Establish a cross-ministerial cancer mandate. We believe that cancer control should be the business of every provincial ministry, not just the Ministry of Health Services.
Devote $1 million to establish the parents of children with cancer safety net fund. There was a story in the Victoria Times Colonist this week about a little girl who was fighting cancer. Her parents have had to quit their jobs to be with their daughter during her treatment. How are they going to live? There should be a
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safety net funding program to support families in need, thereby keeping parents and children together during their fight against cancer. This pilot program would be in the amount of $1 million with review in one year and be managed through the B.C. Cancer Agency.
Our last request, No. 5, is for the B.C. government to consider purchasing a few condominiums per regional cancer treatment centre that will be funded on a subsidized, ability-to-pay basis. These residences would be for families travelling long distances so that they do not have to have additional financial hardships while receiving their treatment. These home-away-from-home centres are modelled after successful programs such as the Ronald McDonald House and the Easter Seal House, with the difference that these homes would be sponsored by our B.C. government.
The Campaign to Control Cancer would be a supporting partner for this pilot project, bringing the opportunity forward to our 17 national and provincial member organizations to leverage their collective revenue development skills and networks.
On November 3 — please mark your calendars — we would like you to meet with your constituents who have been touched by cancer. This is the national day of action for the Campaign to Control Cancer, and we would like to dialogue with you on how we can work together in your constituencies to improve how we prevent and treat cancer.
I would now like to introduce my colleague Jayne Akizuki, the B.C. chair for the Campaign to Control Cancer.
J. Akizuki: Thanks for this opportunity to present today. I consider it a great privilege to be here. My name is Jayne Akizuki, and I'm a resident of North Vancouver. I survived breast cancer eight years ago, and today I'm the provincial chair of a national coalition called the Campaign to Control Cancer. We represent more than 70 organizations, uniting health care professionals, survivors, patients, corporations, advocates and concerned Canadians. All come together to champion cancer control in this country.
Back in 2006 our collective action spurred the federal government to a $260 million commitment to fund and implement the Canadian strategy for cancer control, a national plan to manage cancer. But now more than ever the provinces must make the same vital progress by putting provincial cancer control plans to work.
In 2010 an estimated 21,600 British Columbians will be diagnosed with cancer, and 9,500 British Columbians will die of cancer. Both those statistics, if they prove accurate, would be an increase over last year's numbers. But the truly remarkable thing is that this trend need not continue if we apply what we already know about cancer.
Right now we have enough knowledge to cut the rate of cancer deaths by more than half over the next generation and to improve the quality of life of everyone touched by this disease. This is what we mean by controlling cancer.
On May 14, 2008, the B.C. arm of the Campaign to Control Cancer hosted a day of action at the provincial legislative buildings. The day of action had two purposes. One was to celebrate B.C.'s achievements in cancer control. Among them are the lowest cancer incidents and mortality rates in the country, the best provincial access to new drugs, the first provincial screening mammogram program and the first provincial cervical cancer screening program, also the 2008 opening of the new cancer centre in Abbotsford and the provincial government's commitment to primary prevention with programs such as ActNow B.C.
The second purpose of the day of action was to put forward four priorities identified by our organization to help ensure B.C.'s leadership role in cancer control in Canada. I will briefly go over these four priorities, as we believe they're still key to applying what we know in order to cut cancer down to size.
Knowledge translation. B.C. has a proud history of leadership and innovation in this area, but continued leadership depends on continued innovation. B.C. must continue to quickly deploy new therapies and cancer control measures that are proven safe and effective. The recommendations brought forward today by my colleague for advancing support for catastrophic drug coverage and support for children and families will sustain the leadership and innovation that B.C. has earned in cancer control.
Cross-ministerial responsibility. We believe that cancer control should be the business of every provincial ministry, not just the Ministry of Health Services. B.C. needs an interministerial reporting program in which each ministry outlines its cancer control initiatives to date and its plans for the future. Such plans would complement the work of the Health Services Ministry. This recommendation and a briefing document were prepared in 2008 by my colleague Dr. Islam Mohamed of the B.C. Cancer Agency. Dr. Mohamed is prepared to work with the government on developing the implementation plan for this work in time for our next Cancer Day of Action in 2012.
Assistance for remote cancer patients. Although there are some available avenues for cost recovery, B.C. needs provincially operated out-patient accommodation for those from remote areas as well as a travel allowance for especially distant patients.
Cancer drug leadership. B.C. has a record of timely access to proven new cancer drugs and must continue to ensure its ability to do so.
These four priorities were presented in our caucus meetings with both sides of the House back in 2008. In
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addition, our members secured separate meetings with a number of MLAs and also with then Health Minister George Abbott. We also held a news conference on the steps of the Legislature and hosted a reception at the Royal B.C. Museum, which was attended by 34 members, including some of you in this room and including Premier Gordon Campbell, who addressed the audience at our invitation.
Today, 2½ years after our Cancer Day of Action event, we find that there's still much to celebrate and be thankful for in B.C. In the past week alone the provincial government has committed to additional funding for ovarian cancer research, and in July construction began at the new cancer centre for the north, which will bring care much closer to home for thousands of residents in northern B.C. Clearly, the provincial government has not been complacent on the overall issue of cancer control and neither have we at the Campaign to Control Cancer.
Last year we launched a new initiative called Community Conversations on Cancer. These are public forums allowing Canadians from all walks of life to share their own personal experiences with cancer and provide them with an opportunity to contribute to the future direction of cancer control on a national and provincial scale.
I had the honour of hosting the first B.C. conversation with then Health Minister George Abbott in attendance. Since then British Columbians have participated in more than 100 community conversations and continue to do so today.
The ideas and opinions aired at those conservations will be used to inform the Campaign to Control Cancer's next Cancer Day of Action, which is coming up on November 3, 2010. On that day British Columbians from all over the province will meet with their MLAs to discuss ways to continue advancing cancer control, and their recommendations will almost certainly have ramifications for the next provincial budget.
The Campaign to Control Cancer team will be contacting your constituency offices to request a meeting on November 3 with one of your constituent volunteers from the campaign to discuss what we can do better in B.C. to treat and prevent cancer.
I mentioned earlier that we have the knowledge to cut cancer's mortality rate by more than half over the next generation. Healthier lifestyles, improved screening and diagnostic processes and access to safer, more effective treatments are all part of the solution. The provincial government has made noticeable gains in the area of cancer control over the past few years, and we can hope it will continue to do so with the guidance of British Columbians who will make their voices heard on November 3.
Thank you, hon. Chair and committee members, for this opportunity to speak with you today.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much.
J. Thornthwaite: Could you be a little bit more specific about what you're talking about on cross-ministerial responsibility? I know that it's not just the Minister of Health. It's also Ida Chong's ministry. You've mentioned ActNow, actually, as well. I'm just wondering if you could give me some examples of how we could expand on that.
J. Akizuki: Well, I mentioned ActNow as an example of how this could work, because there is precedent for interministerial programs. In the document that my colleague Dr. Mohamed prepared in 2008 we included some examples. The Aboriginal Relations Ministry, for example, could, as part of its ministry, find ways to increase access to cancer screening programs for the aboriginal population. The Environment Ministry could see more controls over environmental carcinogens, things like that.
We think that such controls can be built into every ministry and could be cross-reported, which would support the Health Services Ministry in its mandate.
J. Les (Chair): Anyone else with a question?
Great. Thank you very much for coming today. We appreciate your presentation.
That brings us to the conclusion of this morning's witnesses. We will recess and reconvene at one o'clock.
The committee recessed from 11:57 a.m. to 1:02 p.m.
[J. Les in the chair.]
J. Les (Chair): Welcome back, everyone. The first witness we have this afternoon is Dr. Mychael Gleeson.
M. Gleeson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
You will have in front of you momentarily a mock file out of my office. Posing for the photographs in the file are my business partner, who is a child care worker, and my own three kids.
What you'll find in this file are intake notes, notes from the interview and a picture of a loving parent, page 3. I ask for birth certificates of the kids so that I know. In your mind's eye picture as Dave Smith not my office child care worker but any parent that you know, and picture in your mind's eye not my three little girls but anybody's three kids.
Let me tell you the story of this file. In the back you'll find actual income and expenses for our mythical Dave Smith, who is an actual client, and his Revenue Canada and his wife's Revenue Canada, because it all comes into play.
Dave Smith — not his real name, certainly — came into my office and he said: "I'm in terrible trouble. My
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wife is leaving me, and that part is okay, but she's taking my three little girls. I don't know what to do."
I said: "Okay, let's sit down. Let's talk about it. Let's talk about where you live." He said: "Okay. My rent is $1,500 a month. I can deal with that. I can deal with daycare, I can deal with activities, I can deal with food, but my wife wants to take my kids. I think I need a lawyer."
So I say to David Smith: "Is there any likelihood that your wife will hurt these children?" "Well, hurt them in that there won't be bruises," he tells me, "but we did catch the eldest one playing with a staple gun that was loaded. We did find that the little one, age seven months, was out on the boulevard, had escaped the back yard. We did find that the middle one, who is anxious, doesn't play well with others, and Mom isn't dealing with that."
David Smith says to me: "I have been the primary caregiver since the moment they came home. I am the one who knows exactly what the excrement of each one should look like, so I know if there's a bowel problem, an allergy. I'm the one who takes them for shots. I'm the one who knows about the boosters. But my wife is going to take my kids, and I don't know what I can do. I think I need a lawyer." So I tell him the facts about legal aid.
This is the sixth year, I think, or seventh, that I've spoken to you about legal aid. Unless, by the way, you live in Vancouver or Terrace, you can't get to a legal aid shop. They have now closed them. I'm not sure there are people on buses going to Terrace so that they can get an appointment with a legal aid office. There's no legal aid office in Langley, Abbotsford, New Westminster, Burnaby, so that option has dried up.
Mychael Co. took in 117 files last year. We were able to strong-arm nine lawyers to take nonexistent legal aid–funded files because they were children in jeopardy. Those are nine lawyers that won't be sending me Christmas cards.
Legal aid costs a lot for an office. It's burdensome.
When I ask parents for pictures with their kids, I want to get pictures not unlike the ones in this file. I want to know the people that I'm dealing with. I want to see that three-year-old or that seven-month-old. I want to bring a human perspective to what is otherwise a lot of paper that sits on my desk.
The David Smith file is curious, because unless you've met him, it looks like he's a slackard who's only working part-time. When I interviewed him, he was a gentleman who works ten o'clock till two o'clock in the morning so that he can take care of his three kids. Mom has a job. Mom also has a Revenue Canada debt.
When I sit down with David and I say to him, "Let's look at filing for family maintenance enforcement and the family maintenance enforcement program," he goes: "Not going to happen, because there's a Revenue Canada debt and because she'll stop working." I say, "Okay. Well, then let's look at possible daycare or supervision of your three little girls, and you can work full-time," to which he says: "Not going to happen, because Regan is anxious; Katy, the youngest, is an escape artist; and Alexandra, the middle one, spends her life socializing and will be halfway down the block before the babysitter can blink."
As we look at this family — and I accept that yes, I'm only hearing Dave Smith's side of the story — Dave Smith could easily be Mary. I could easily have the mom in saying: "My husband is leaving. He makes a lot of money. He's taking the kids." So this is an equal opportunity child abuse situation.
Let's assume that Mary Smith is a perfectly wonderful lady who's overwhelmed by three little girls and Dave, who works part-time. There is, for her, no assistance to get to a lawyer, to get to court. So the question now becomes: okay, why is everybody running to court? Why can't these people sit down with a mediator at 40 bucks an hour? They split it in two, and they come out with a resolution.
Family law doesn't work that way. Resolution is not a word that I hear very often, and certainly mediation, although it's a wonderful concept, isn't big in circles where I cruise.
What we need to do is get to the bench the information about the family. So if any one of you is sitting in the Provincial Court and a case comes forward and this file comes to you, you're going to be going: "Well, okay, but you know, I need to have a doctor's report. I've got to know that these kids are okay." I go: "Hello. That's me, but remember, legal aid won't fund me." So now I'm doing it for free — not specifically a bad idea but hard on my accountant.
The judge needs to know, and people will say: "Well, you know, there are some people on the bench who are just plain crazy." My defence of that is: if the ruling is crazy, it is the problem of the lawyers and the people like me, advocates for children. I'm a psychologist and have been for 38 years — my misspent adult life. We are not getting the information to those judges.
Every time a wonky ruling comes out, and I go through the transcript, or I talk to the lawyer who's involved, they go: "Well, you know there wasn't a custody access report." I said: "Okay. So we automatically give the kids to the psychotic one?" They go, "Well, no," but the judge didn't know that Mr. So-and-so or Mrs. So-and-so was the psychotic one. There was no custody access report.
I said: "Okay. Well, who looked at the financials?" Well, actually nobody put the financials in because the bench didn't see them because the lawyer didn't get them because he couldn't get a subpoena to access Revenue Canada. And it goes around and around and around.
My pitch — and it's been my pitch for a long time and will continue to be till I die — is that legal aid services children. Certainly legal aid services drug addicts.
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If you're looking at doing time you can get a legal aid lawyer — which is not to suggest that anybody should be out there buying drugs. But if you're engaged in criminal activity and you're looking at jail time, you will get a legal aid lawyer. If you're David Smith and you have three little girls and you need help from the courts, you're not going to get a lawyer.
I have lawyers that I know and trust and love dearly who will say to me: "If your client can't show me bruises and a cut, I can't make an application for legal aid funding, and you hit me up 12 times last year to do files of yours, and my secretary won't speak to me anymore." You know, there's a joke in one law firm in Surrey that ever since they got call display they never take my calls.
He won't, because he knows what I want. I phone him up, and I go: "I have a kid who is in Surrey Memorial Hospital who is in the burn unit who is three years old. I need you to represent that child. He was burned in a house fire that was set." Suddenly I have lawyers doing exactly the right thing and dealing with the family and getting the reports and, out of their own pocket, funding my reports, the reports of MDs, child care workers, and those things happen. I don't want to have to go to another lawyer with a picture of a burned child and say: "I need your help."
We have to put some money into legal aid. Unless we do, we're going to lose these kids. Psychotic parents, parents on drugs, single parents where there is a catastrophic injury. What happens if Dave Smith, who's a custodian for the purposes of this file, has sole custody and has a catastrophic fall at work? There is no way to help this guy to make the insurance companies step up and take responsibility for him, because he doesn't have access to a lawyer. I don't think that that's what British Columbia is about.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you for an interesting perspective.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Hi. Doug Donaldson. I'm the MLA for Stikine, which does not include Terrace, but it's nearby. It's closer than it is here, although with transportation problems where we live, we don't have a bus once per day in the middle of the night. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. It's as difficult to access legal aid in our communities as it is elsewhere in the province.
I guess my question to you is…. Thank you for the presentation. It's good to have a real example of what we all have heard.
M. Gleeson: I just didn't want you to think I was a nut, bringing in pictures of my dog.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): I was wondering if it was an SPCA presentation.
Anyway, you've pointed out a very good single focus about that, and the solution being more resources for legal aid.
What other resources do you think are required to address these kinds of issues, not simply on the legal aid topic?
M. Gleeson: Many years ago I was very fortunate to meet Maple Ridge lawyer Bob Shantz. He said to me: "Go through the continuing legal education booklet, and if there's ever a course that you want to take, phone me up." I'm not a lawyer, so I can't get in through the front door. He said: "I'll get you through the back door, and I'll pay for it."
Over the 30 years that I've known Bob now, what I've found is that the resources are in the hands of the lawyers. They know. They know FMEP; they know restraining orders; they know the shelters; they know rape relief situations. They're all dialled in to their favourite policemen on whatever force. So we have those systems in place. We have a magnificent Ministry of Health, ministry of children's services. But it's the access. It's the bridge. It's the legal aid.
I can't go to a lawyer in town. One guy, who is a lawyer in New Westminster, charges $325 an hour. I mean, I feel guilty having lunch with him. To bring the point home, I take him to Wendy's, because I tell him that that's all we can afford. We're a legal aid shop. Lawyers are out of range for 90 percent of my clientele.
When you do a legal aid file, there's a tariff book. So lawyers, if they do get approval to do the file, will tell me: "Okay, but you're only getting 88 bucks an hour." That's actually $15 less than my plumber gets, and he went to BCIT — but that's a whole other discussion.
The lawyers take a break in order to do legal aid. The services are magnificent, and they put the same amount of energy into those files because they're heartbreakers. I'm yet to have a picture in my office of an ugly child. I'm yet to meet a non-loving parent, except for the psychopaths, which one must interview in order to determine that they are, in fact, psychopaths.
But legal aid, being the branch that will connect these services…. Every year since I've started looking at legal aid, the last six years, it has diminished — so I'm wondering if I'm the pox upon the legal aid cause — so that now we don't have legal aid offices in the Lower Mainland. Now we're down to two offices: Terrace and Vancouver.
J. Thornthwaite: By the way, I can show you how to make it so that it's a private number, so nobody knows that you're calling them.
M. Gleeson: They won't even take call block from me anymore. I'm the guy out in the phone booth at three in the afternoon with a stack of two quarters for the
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pay phones in New Westminster, trying to get a hold of them. Boy, secretaries are smart.
J. Thornthwaite: Are you saying that the problem is not that we don't have enough lawyers that will do the work, but it's that we don't have the funds in legal aid to pay the lawyers for what they're worth to do the work? Is that what you're saying?
M. Gleeson: Not even for what they're worth. My own lawyer in Maple Ridge is about 400 bucks an hour. He takes $88 an hour for legal aid. It runs his office. It doesn't put him in his Beemer, but other cases put him in his Beemer — okay?
It's the filing fees. It's the witness fees. Do you realize that if David Smith needs a custody and access report, other than through my office, he's looking at $8,500, $6,500, and half of that goes to psychometric testing?
Psychometric testing is a group of pen-and-paper tests, none that David Smith could pass because David isn't a high school grad. He can't read them properly. It doesn't negate him from being a good dad. Those psychometric tests run about 4½ hours. The psychologists feed them through the computer at UBC, and then they get a printout.
Now, in the old days — and I'm older than probably anybody here — we would sit down with clients for many, many hours. We would create the custody and access report based on ethnographic methodology. We'd go to the house. We'd meet the kids. I do ice cream dates with children to find out who they are and what they're about and what they need. I don't do psychometrics.
Clifford Olson came out as a guy who would be well-suited to being a child care worker or youth leader — my prime example of why psychometrics are not a good tool. Others disagree; be that as it may. It's a huge expense. It doesn't work — okay? And it takes away the time of ethnographic methodology, which is talking to people.
J. Thornthwaite: Specifically, then, I want to know your asks.
M. Gleeson: What I am asking for is for legal aid, to bring legal aid back to New Westminster, Surrey, Abbotsford, to open up the offices. The lawyers will be there. There won't be a problem. The psychologists will be there for the much-reduced rate because we have children.
J. Thornthwaite: Okay. I get it. Thank you.
J. van Dongen: I commend you for your work, but certainly, I've seen legal aid get abused as well. I would ask you to submit to the committee some ideas about how to properly limit the use of legal aid in that context.
I also question the adversarial nature of the courts and that that is the best vehicle for dealing with family breakup issues. I know the limitations of mediation.
Just one quick question: have you used the family court counsellor service on at least some of your cases, and what are your comments?
M. Gleeson: It's an integral part of what we do. We get in touch with both the Justice Institute and the various family court counsellors who are involved. They're overburdened; they're overworked.
What usually ends up is that they ask my office for my report first, and that's okay. I'm happy to do that. But what I have found is that the adversarial system, in the hands of well-trained, older, family-oriented lawyers works. There isn't a judge that I can think of who hasn't seen it work. There isn't a judge that I can think of who will not look at that file and say: "This is about the children; it's not about the adults."
I'm yet to go into a courtroom where I haven't felt that I will be able to speak to the judge. It's from the witness box. It's after taking potshots from the bad guy's counsel. But what ends up is that we've got a parent in a black robe sitting at that bench, and every parent is saying: "That's my son or daughter that they're talking about, and what would happen if my union came apart? What would happen to my kids?"
Yeah, it's an adversarial world. In a perfect world it would all take place at Wendy's and everybody would be having Frostys, but it's not a perfect world. The adversarial system works until we have something better to replace it.
Mediation is a wonderful thing, but frequently mediation is marred by the glitz of the better performer. So you need people who are advocates, who are professionals in the community, who can gauge what's going on. That's the problem with mediation.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much. We appreciate your presentation today.
Our next presenters are from the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration. They have an advisory committee, and the presenters today are Sandra Garossino and Opreet Kang.
S. Garossino: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you so much for the opportunity to address you today. It's a pleasure to meet you.
I'm Sandy Garossino, and I'm on the advisory council of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, and this is Opreet Kang, who sits on the board, one of our great volunteers. I'm here to talk about arts and culture.
UBC Okanagan, in Mr. Letnick's riding, where I gather you're doing doctoral studies, recently had Richard
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Florida from U of T's Rotman school of business come to speak about the critical role that culture plays in driving economic development. My written submission will touch on that aspect, tourism being one example.
As you know, in B.C. this is a $14 billion industry and a major employer to British Columbians. Global Tourism Watch is the Harris/Decima Research poll that the government subscribes to which does market research on our major international tourism markets.
This report tells us that we are losing market share in tourism globally every year. Our major market, being the Americans, is seeking cultural offerings. That's what the primary finding of the Global Tourism Watch is. In rural environments this is historical sites, that sort of thing; in urban environments, stimulating urban cultural programming. Americans don't have an awareness of this.
At the same time we have more than 300 museums in our regions around the province, and most of them can't afford a website. So how can we drive tourism when we know that our tourism market is looking for this and we can't even drive that? That's a $14 billion industry that we're short on.
I'm coming at this as a member of the advisory council of the VIBC. My background is law and business. I formerly owned and operated three Metro Vancouver taxi companies, at one time the largest privately owned fleet in Canada. That being a tourism-sensitive industry, I am aware of the impact.
I'm here to tell you about the VIBC as just one small aspect of this larger story. We're two people here today, but there are actually 10,000 people behind us. Those are the audiences that we serve. They're ordinary British Columbians from all backgrounds, and they come to the VIBC events every year. These are some photographs.
This operation is run with no phone, no office, no computer, no staff member. No one takes a dime. It is 100 percent volunteer run. Ms. Kang, for instance, is a project manager in the construction industry, and she's about to start her own business.
The VIBC's mission is to build community and break down cultural barriers. If you look at these pictures, and I'll send them around, you'll see people of all cultural backgrounds who are participating in what is now a real Canadian cultural offering.
The VIBC puts on free performances, gives bhangra lessons to parents and kids of all backgrounds and hosts an international competition drawing dance teams, competitors and their families, and audiences from all over North America. This is with the end of taking traditional Punjabi culture mainstream and treating it like the other arts, not like the minority at the back of the room that gets the leftovers.
The best example I can give of their purpose came when I took my 80-year-old mom to a performance at the Cultural Olympiad. After she watched a fabulous dance performance by the Surrey India Arts Club, she leaned over to me, and she said: "This is so wonderful. Now when I see a group of young Indo-Canadian men, I won't be afraid of them. Now I'll think maybe they're dancers."
"I won't be afraid of them." Think about that. Think about this is what we do.
The VIBC has been incredibly successful at their mission. They have fantastic sponsorship agreements. You'll see sponsorship participation in those photographs. They have 130 volunteers that come out to their events, rain or shine, that contribute over 5,000 hours a year. This is a complete vote of confidence by the community.
For the first time in history the museum of Vancouver will partner with the VIBC to document our bhangra and South Asian history and tell the stories of British Columbian pioneers from Indian Punjab and give voice to our own history. A lot of that material will probably come from your riding, Mr. Routley, in Duncan.
This is a great board. They're talented, smart, tough, seasoned. They're really good at what they do. They run a lean, mean, really sleek operation. I am so proud to be associated with each and every member of the organization.
Here's the dark side. We are really in danger of losing them. They have pushed ahead through some tough years, and these young people have personally financed a great deal, hoping that one day they would qualify for gaming funds or B.C. Arts Council grants which would enable them to get a staff person, enable them to get sustainable funding, fundraising, get to the community, get a really professional organization. They have been operating in the red. Various ones have taken on a line of credit.
Along came the Olympics, and the Cultural Olympiad wanted a big South Asian event. They pulled out all the stops, asking for major international draws. They asked the VIBC to participate and said: "You'll be the only South Asian participant in the Cultural Olympiad." As an official Olympic function, no sponsorships were allowed, usually a great opportunity to sell a full house, make back that line of credit, except for one thing. The Cultural Olympiad was not aware that the city of Surrey would program their live site with days and days of free South Asian performances with big names of their own that they had brought in — for free.
Amazing performances were put on. International stars were flown in. This was all carried by volunteers, by young people starting out. But with free programming all over Vancouver and all over Surrey, there was no market for paid tickets — totally, unexpectedly out of the blue. The house sold under 50 percent. The loss was $37,000, being borne by a number of young professionals just starting out in their careers. Now there are hotels and creditors to be paid, small business people. The cupboard is bare.
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But there's a board. The board is personally liable. Now the creditors are looking to them. Now one of the board members who signed a line of credit has got married. Now she wants to start a family, buy a house, but she can't get a mortgage because of the outstanding line of credit. How is she supposed to get started on her life?
The board can't quit. They're trapped. They're personally on the hook. They can't attract more board members. They can't attract what they need. This is the trap that chronic underfunding of arts and culture does. These are the faces. These are the people. This is what we are losing. This is the risk.
With no staff to help with fundraising and donations and professional organization, this group can never grow into a mature operating organization. Without it they will fall into the life-cycle pattern. They'll burn out, and they will die. This is why public support is so critical to the arts.
Three days after this group took a hit for $37,000 serving their country in the Cultural Olympiad for free, as volunteers, gaming grants to the arts were eliminated, and the B.C. Arts Council was cut.
I'm here as a citizen. I'm here as a donor, as a taxpayer, as a member of the public to say this isn't right. I can't leave these young people in early career in the lurch like this. They weren't in this for the money. Nobody ever made a dime. All they ever wanted to do was serve us, to serve our community, and we can't crush them so heartlessly.
Not only that, as a society we have obligations, and one of them is to take care of the folks who knock themselves out for our benefit for free, because we need them. We need young people who will do this, who will contribute hours and hours and hours of their own time, their own money — volunteerism, service, drive and love for community. We need to promote this and not punish it.
Government has a role to play here, because the VIBC is not alone. There are countless organizations like this, and many are coming from our cultural communities that have not been part of the traditional funding operations. We need to show them when they've done so much so ably and proven themselves so well with doing all the right things that we've got their backs. We're British Columbians. We're made that way.
It takes almost nothing out of the total expenditure to give that little bit of support that will build in stability and help build our communities for the future, for our kids. We've got to give them hope. I'm asking you to give these people hope and all the men like them and all the communities.
What's really important to us is not the performers on the stage. It's the audiences in those photographs. Look at those faces. That is who we serve. That is who you serve, and I'm asking for your help today.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you.
Any questions from anyone?
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for the lens, the spotlight you've shone on the case that you're discussing. Can you tell me some other avenues, tools that you've pursued to try to resolve this issue? I mean, I appreciate you coming to the Select Standing Committee on Finance to highlight and use that as one tool. I mean, to me, it is the first time I've heard about the situation you are describing, so are there other means you can take advantage of to try to highlight the issue you're talking about whether through media or local government or MLAs or…?
S. Garossino: The catch-22 — especially arts organizations, but a lot of community groups…. This relates to a lot of the sports organizations as well. The gaming funds have been a real keystone of stability for this sector. The arts sector itself has, I think, 91,000 volunteers that volunteer in that sector. One of the challenges in going public with a story like this or highlighting and turning a spotlight on it is that probably the major source of funding for most of these organizations, apart from ticket revenue, is sponsorships.
The business community is very anxious about…. They don't want to come in…. It actually drives sponsorship away. You destabilize even further. You reinforce the downward cycle when you publicize that there's this kind of difficulty. This is something that the entire arts sector has struggled with, because behind closed doors there is just catastrophe.
I cannot tell you the number of organizations that I personally am aware of — very major organizations. They are all being quiet and hoping and just kind of hanging in there. But they can't go public because there's enormous amount of sponsorship money, and sponsorship value is in showing strength and showing the positive side.
O. Kang: Further to that, as far as sponsorship is concerned as well, one key issue is that people say: "Well, just stop spending the money. Why are you spending the money? You don't have any money to spend."
Well, we always get caught in this catch-22 scenario, because in order to get that sponsorship, which really drives our programming and sustains us, we need to be able to produce a program of a certain calibre. In order to produce a program of a certain calibre…. Well, by the time the festival is actually going on, we actually had to pay bills six months in advance in order to guarantee….
For example, we had Rogers last year, which we know will be very difficult to get this upcoming year. Why? Because that one point person we had, the one champion that we had to foster a relationship with, because that's really what it does come down to, has — good for
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her — been promoted to the national level. So now we have to spend time fostering this new relationship.
But that's another discussion. We had to establish to Rogers: "Yes. For you, you're going to get value out of coming to this festival, having your banner up, because you're going to have this audience, that audience, etc." But that takes money, and that takes costs and investments upfront, effort. That's where we get caught as a non-profit, as a society of volunteers, because we don't have a paid person who can dedicate their entire day, Monday to Friday, working on the grant-writing.
You were talking about other sources. Yes, there are grants. There are other corporations out there, but that all takes time and effort in order to do it. Not that the board isn't willing to do it or doesn't have a desire to do it. But it's: how can seven people that now have full-time jobs, families — everything — and have already invested their own personal capital into it also take time out to just keep up with the volume of opportunities that are out there? It is also what you invest in. What is going to be your return on investment?
We know that the corporations are the ones that give us the bigger money, but they also require a lot more investment going into it. And that's how these debts add up.
J. Les (Chair): Okay, thank you both very much for coming today.
We're going to change the order here just a little bit. Our 2:05 delegation is here, with the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter — Heather Lloyd and Alice Lee.
H. Lloyd: Good afternoon. I'm Heather Lloyd, and this is Alice Lee. I've been working at Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter for three years now. Besides my front-line work, I also share the responsibility for fundraising.
Our organization was the first rape crisis centre in Canada and has been working to end male violence against women for 37 years. Every year we respond to 1,400 new crisis calls on our 24-hour rape crisis line, and 120 women and their children take shelter in our transition house.
We provide immediate, comprehensive, confidential and free services to women who have been attacked. These services include providing emotional support and advocacy while we accompany women to hospital, police, court proceedings, appointments with lawyers, financial aid workers and social workers.
We also operate a free legal clinic for women who are dealing with legal matters pertaining to any issue of male violence against women. Advice is given by a female practising lawyer.
Thank you for hearing from us today. I have four recommendations that I'd like you to consider. Since my daily work focus is to end male violence against women, my points will revolve around that mandate.
The first one is that you can immediately fund rape crisis centres $300,000 per year.
The second one is to increase welfare rates by 50 percent to keep up with inflation marked by Bank of Canada rates.
You can increase the number of independent social housing units in B.C. to 43,760 to catch up to the number of units we had in 2006. Then have a plan to increase to 50,000 units by 2015, which is going to be approximately 2,000 units per year.
You can require the B.C. gaming policy and enforcement branch to grant 33 percent of gaming profits to charities.
These are the recommendations. Now I'll explain how they are linked to women's issues.
It's important to fund rape crisis centres because rape affects all women. According to the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, a woman is raped every 17 minutes in Canada. We know that rape is an act of violence and domination and that all women fear it.
Rape crisis centres are independent groups of women who see male violence against women as both a force which interferes with and prevents women from living as men's equals and as a consequence of the inequality between women and men. Our centres help women to survive, escape, protest and prevent male attacks. Across Canada rape crisis centres receive provincial funding but not here in B.C.
As stated in the BC-CEDAW submission to the United Nations convention on elimination of discrimination against women, on April 1, 2004, all core funding for women's centres in B.C. was cut completely, although the government of British Columbia recognizes that women's centres respond to the needs of their communities through a variety of services such as information and referral, support groups, crisis counselling, job entry programs, child care services and housing registries, as well as providing necessities such as food and clothing.
Since the 1970s rape crisis centres have been providing comprehensive services to women, yet government funding in British Columbia is absent today. State-funded services such as victim services and Stopping the Violence programs cannot replace rape crisis centres. In fact, on the crisis lines I'm no longer surprised when women are referred to our organizations by these programs.
Because rape crisis centres are independent, they can provide comprehensive services to the women, making us an invaluable service to our community. With our immediate support, women get free of their abusers quicker and equip themselves to prevent other attacks.
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Because we respond to women instantly, they are less likely to rely on ongoing social services such as treatment for mental illness or chronic physical illness caused by the violence in their lives.
Investing provincial funds in rape crisis centres is one of the most effective strategies against male violence in British Columbia because we address all the needs of the women who call us. And since we are practised in stretching each dollar we work so hard to raise in our community, the province would get good value for the money invested in centres like ours.
The government of British Columbia is funding sexual assault centres for men. The B.C. Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse has programs for men who are sexually assaulted. Their organization is funded by the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.
Yet overwhelmingly, the majority of sexual assault victims are women. In 2002 Statistics Canada described this disparity as: "Over 80 percent of victims in sexual offences reported to a subset of police departments were female." And I know from my work that only 30 percent of women who call our crisis line report to the police.
We are one of 11 women's groups that make up BC-CEDAW. We make recommendations to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. By the end of November 2009 Canada was required to report back to CEDAW on steps it has taken to implement two recommendations made by the committee after its review of Canada in 2008. One of the two recommendations addresses the issue of women's poverty and inadequate social assistance rates in British Columbia. Still, the government of B.C. has failed to act on the issue.
What's most important is that women have viable economic alternatives to staying with their abusive male partners. Women do not want to work for a boss who sexually harasses them, to live with husbands who physically and sexually assault them or, worse, to be forced into prostitution to pay the rent. Women need solutions that foster their economic independence to be free from abusive men.
Many of our callers who are facing male violence are living in poverty. At the same time that women require our services, they often require welfare as well. Since rape crisis centres started, the cost of living has risen constantly, but welfare rates have decreased. In 1980 a single person received $510, which would equate to $802 today if you calculated the Bank of Canada inflation rate. Yet a single woman receives $610 on welfare currently. Just to keep up to inflation, the government would have to increase welfare rates by an average of 50 percent.
In 2006, B.C. single mothers had a poverty rate of 35.7 percent. Shelagh Day is a feminist and human rights activist who recognizes that B.C. has some of the highest poverty rates in the country. Single mothers and their children are more likely to live in poverty here than in most other provinces. Social assistance rates remain dismally low. The lack of safe and affordable housing is acutely felt by women living in poverty. Cuts to civil legal aid have reduced women's access to justice. These issues affect the daily lives of many B.C. women.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Vancouver has the highest rental market in Canada. Set this fact against stagnant incomes, frozen welfare rates and a minimum wage that is the lowest in Canada, the lack of safe, adequate and affordable housing is a crisis situation.
Although our government has increased rental assistance, added emergency shelter beds and purchased existing SROs for specific programs, this year in B.C. we have 40,940 independent social housing units. Since 2006 that means a loss of 2,820 units for low-income families, and the need is growing. Women who call us are considering how to get free of their abusers, and they must be able to find safe, affordable housing so that they can live independently.
We know that women continue to be vulnerable to attack for up to 18 months after leaving a violent man. Of the 120 families who will stay in our transition house every year, almost every one applies for B.C. Housing. As you know, women can stay on these wait-lists for years. So they wait, but where do they live in the meantime? Most women go back to the men they fear, because they have nowhere else to go. Now they experience more severe attacks, because the men know that women can't find safe, affordable housing.
Because of the housing crisis, the government must add independent social housing units much faster to meet the vast need. If 9,000 independent social units are added by 2015, British Columbians will have more safe housing options than they have today, wait-lists will be shorter, and more women will be independent of their abusive male partners.
Due to recent changes to the gaming grants system, community groups in British Columbia are forced to get by on significantly smaller grants. They are being expected to adhere to a new application process that created funding gaps consisting of several months in which they will get no funding. The B.C. gaming policy and enforcement branch has also put a $100,000 maximum on the amount of money that charitable organizations can receive per year.
The legitimacy that gambling activity has achieved in British Columbia is due to its historical connection. Gambling was accepted and promoted because it was accepted as a way for charities to raise funds to provide community services.
In the early 1980s non-profit organizations were conducting bingos, charitable casinos and small-scale
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raffles. The legislation at that time, which specified that non-profit organizations would receive 50 percent of the casino winnings, acknowledged the important role of charities in gaming. We are still fighting to keep our local bingo hall running, but the halls are failing, and large destination casinos are taking their place. Now governments take most off the profits made from gambling in B.C.
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter has survived over the last number of years because we fundraise a significant portion of our budget. Part of our fundraising strategy is to apply for the community grants from the Gaming Commission. Last year our grants were reduced significantly, and this year we are not permitted to apply for the new community grant until 2011, which means that we will go for 11 months without a substantial amount of money for our rape crisis programs.
Community groups all over British Columbia are scrambling to find enough money to keep their operations running. Like us, these groups deliver invaluable services to a public that is in need. Just think of the services for the physically disabled, seniors, youth, sports, arts, museums, multiculture, mentally disabled, mentally ill, refugees, and the list goes on. I don't think communities in this province can afford to lose the groups that provide so much support to the people in need.
Please consider how important this grant money is to all community groups. I'm asking you to remove the $100,000 maximum from community gaming grants, allow us to reapply consecutively each year with only a small wait time to hear back, and agree to grant 33 percent of gaming profits in British Columbia to charities.
I'm just going to recap my recommendations: funding rape crisis centres, $300,000 per year, increasing welfare rates by 50 percent, increasing independent social housing units to 50,000 units by 2015, and requiring the B.C. gaming policy and enforcement branch to grant 33 percent of gaming profits to charities every year.
All four of these recommendations are meant to address the inequality that women in British Columbia face on a regular basis. Rape crisis centres provide invaluable community services to meet all of women's needs. Women from all over British Columbia experience male violence, but women who live in poverty are the most vulnerable to attack.
Add independent social housing at an aggressive rate that addresses the current housing crisis, and require the government to return gaming profits to charities so that community groups can continue to offer their services to the public.
As members of the government, you must recognize that only when the conditions of women's lives are much improved and their basic needs are met can they fully participate in our democratic society.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you, Heather. Jane has a question.
J. Thornthwaite: Yeah, just a quick one. On the second page you said that across Canada rape crisis centres receive provincial funding but not here.
H. Lloyd: Yeah.
J. Thornthwaite: I gather you mean as direct funding, not through the gaming grants, because obviously you're receiving….
H. Lloyd: I do mean direct funding.
J. Thornthwaite: You're requesting $300,000 from direct funding, but how much do you get through gaming grants?
H. Lloyd: Well, it has changed, like I said. This year we got $100,000 from a gaming grant.
J. Thornthwaite: Okay, and in past years you've had much more.
H. Lloyd: More, yeah.
B. Ralston: Probably today is the day on which we're reminded of the need for the services that your organization provides. There's a particularly nasty report of a gang rape in Pitt Meadows with images being distributed over the Internet.
You speak of rape crisis centres. Is there more than one? I had only understood that there was the one organization here in the Lower….
A. Lee: There are two in Vancouver.
B. Ralston: And throughout the province?
A. Lee: Yes, there are not many.
B. Ralston: Do you know the number?
A. Lee: Well, there's probably Surrey. Surrey I would consider having one, so that's three in the Lower Mainland.
B. Ralston: And the $300,000 that you're speaking of — is that to all the organizations in the provinces or to your organization in particular?
A. Lee: I'm working for all. We're all working for all.
J. Les (Chair): Just a question that I have. You talk about increasing the stock of social housing by about
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2,000 units per year. That's probably about three-quarters of a billion dollars a year in capital that would be required to do that. Are you aware of the rental assistance program?
Some Voices: Yes.
J. Les (Chair): What would be your comment in terms of that and the value that that's brought into the equation of allowing people to access appropriate housing?
H. Lloyd: I think it's very useful. I know that women who leave our transition house use the rental assistance program. But I still think it's very important to keep adding the social housing units, the independent ones, so that the lower-income families can use them, because the waits are so long.
A. Lee: The rental assistance program often means women have to be working in order to access that program, and then they have to make under a certain amount of money. So some of the women that are coming through our shelters actually are on social assistance, and they don't qualify for that.
J. Les (Chair): Sure. I doubt if there's a government program anywhere that absolutely is the solution for every situation.
A. Lee: Sure.
J. Les (Chair): But do you have a preference, all things being equal, for the rental assistance program versus a dramatic increase in the number of social housing units built by government?
A. Lee: Well, the rental assistance program doesn't address enough people, cover enough people in need, so I think both are necessary. What is most important, I think, is that the welfare rates need to increase so that the women have more options in renting. That can only happen…. Welfare rates can never be high enough for market housing, and that's why we need the social housing.
J. Les (Chair): Or the rental assistance program, if it applies.
A. Lee: But if the women aren't able to work for whatever reason, they don't qualify.
J. Les (Chair): Right, yeah. I believe it currently is used by about 18,000 families in British Columbia, so there's significant coverage by that program.
A. Lee: Uh-huh.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much. We went a little bit overtime, but it looks like we have one or two delegations that haven't shown so far, so you have benefited by that.
The next presenter is Cynthia Stark.
C. Stark: Hello again. I only prepared this today, so it's a little rough, but I hope I can get the main points across. Thank you for the opportunity to speak both yesterday — with the supported child care initiatives spearheaded by Wendy Seet and her husband, Marc — and today, where I want to pick up where we left off and expand on solutions.
Yesterday Wendy eloquently and powerfully made a case for the importance of supported child care, not just for the families and children who are supported but for the future financial benefit of our society. Real dollars are saved and generated; the value is in multiples of what's put in. Because these financial savings are not seen until at least a decade into the future, they're not really made a priority now.
Yesterday Wendy said that there were almost 80 families in Burnaby and over triple that in Vancouver on wait-lists for supported child care services to provide consultation and staffing support so that their children with special needs can be included in child care settings and before-school and after-school care.
The wait-list problem is provincewide, comprising — I don't know — maybe hundreds or thousands of families. We have a very good system with a supported child care development program, but it has reached a financial breaking point. Wait-listing, to simply service some families years too late and others not at all, is not a solution that sits well with the voting, taxpaying and increasingly vocal families.
As Wendy mentioned, more families are arriving with needs from places with few or even no services, and research shows the exponential rise in autism rates is very real and currently at one in 100 children, including our esteemed MLA's grandchild and my own child. Since autism affects the sexes unequally, that means that one in 69 boys now has an autism diagnosis.
A decade ago very brave parents took precious time from their own children to fight for funding, not just for the quality of their children's lives but for their future independence so that their children wouldn't be a financial burden on society as adults. They won for all of us, resulting in the autism funding unit. Ten years later, in a global recession, we can all be overwhelmed by the financial enormity of supporting children with special needs and leave them languishing on wait-lists, destined to become a financial burden, or we can make history again but in a new way.
In a recession, people need to get creative. As we all know, sometimes the best inventions are born of necessity in times of hardship. While ideas and research to
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support them can be generated at any time, the global financial crisis can create the political and social will for change. With increasing demands of the retiring boomers needing health care and support and lowering funds all around, what that change will be is crucial for our success as a society.
My goal in working with the supported child care initiative has been to offer feasible solutions for lowering the supported child care wait-list without increasing funding. We can either expand the program, which needs an influx of dollars we just don't have right now, or we can have systemic change, making the best use of what resources we do have. This isn't just financial resources. Our most important untapped resource is people.
Some of my ideas involve not just circumscribed programs like the supported child care development program but our education system, both school districts and universities. Change is frightening for some if not many, and I'm sure that scared voters don't help politicians to stay elected. But if it's done with an educated public's consultation and approval rather than seeming like an imposition, once they see it working for them and, most importantly, once they see the savings, I find that those people may become our staunchest supporters.
I'm not sure how much…. Do you know when I started? I didn't time myself, sorry.
J. Les (Chair): You started at 2:01.
C. Stark: Okay, good. I'll talk faster.
J. Les (Chair): You'll never get through it all.
C. Stark: I always tell my son that if you make a request or a criticism of someone, you need to provide three solutions. These are my three solutions.
First, restructure MCFD funding along the autism funding model; second, educate all teachers and typical students to work together successfully with special needs students; and third, remove wait-lists caused by lack of service providers.
My first solution. In a recession — I'm kind of redundant — funding is limited, so we need to make better use of the money that MCFD has set aside for services for children with disabilities. We already have an excellent funding model currently in place to expand upon.
With the autism unit funding, children receive a set amount of funds based on their diagnosis and age, which are used to provide direct services the parents choose from a preapproved list, with a recommendation of health and behavioural professionals when necessary.
Funding is invoiced by service providers. This funding model has many benefits, including procedural fairness — there is no aging out on wait-lists; equitable access; appropriate and individualized direct services; transparency; accountability; streamlined paperwork and administrative costs; parents can move within the province; and most importantly, service quality, since only services that provide benefit will continue to be accessed by parents.
In addition, parents have the necessary predictability to ensure effective long-term planning. Income-testing could be added to this. This would be an excellent funding model to cost-effectively ensure that our children are not discriminated against under the guise of never-ending wait-lists.
We're already using a funding model that works. We need to expand it to include all MCFD programs for children with disabilities and to make more judicious use of the limited funding that's currently available, in addition to adding more funding to compensate for inflation and meeting increased demand to provide services our children need and qualify for.
Basically, I got a lot of piecemeal programs here and there — things that maybe I wouldn't have even asked for. But since they're offered and that's all that's offered, I accepted them. It feels like it's kind of a waste of money.
I need supported child care — so that my son can go and be included in child care, which is what his peers do, so that I can work — and they're offering me little kind of, you know, singalongs in the basement, tutoring and stuff that really isn't going to help him long term. It's not that I don't appreciate it, but it's just that it feels like money that isn't being directed in the right place.
I find that the parents — especially the autism unit will bear this out — will tend to put their money in the most important places when they know how much is coming in and out. The fact that they see the dollars coming in and out really helps as well. When you don't know how much money is being spent on a singalong, you might just go, "Okay," and not realize it's just a waste.
Right now we have a group of haves and have-nots, and that is divisive in the communities. So even with the autism funding, a lot of people say, "Well, you've got all this money, and we don't. It's not fair," not realizing that in the school system they'll say: "Well, you have your autism funding, so we don't need to give you speech support and things like that." It needs to be very clear across the board, I think, and people need to see what's going in and what's going out. It needs to be level. Everybody has a special needs kid. All of them need access. Basically….
I don't know how much time we have. Stop me when I need to.
J. Les (Chair): Don't worry about it. Just carry on.
C. Stark: Okay.
The second solution is education. I'm a teacher, and when I did my education degree five years ago, we
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had nothing about special needs at all. We had one class called "Exceptionalities," where the students were expected to teach each other, but we didn't know what to teach each other. It was kind of silly. I've taken more courses just to educate myself, because I want to be a resource teacher. Basically, I think there need to be three core courses added to the curriculum. I think it's really important.
The first is "Inclusion." They use the universal design for learning. It's a model similar to universal design in architecture. An example might be a curb cut, which can be used by someone using a wheelchair or someone using a stroller, or something a lot of computers use — universal access. Basically, someone might use closed-captioning or word prediction or autocorrection. Some people might need that just to be able to learn. Some people just use it because it's there. But everybody has access.
UDL is similar. It's based on solid brain research, and the curriculum provides equal access to learning by customizing to the individual needs of each student's skills, needs and interests, providing multiple means of representation, action, expression, engagement. The information is presented in multiple ways to accommodate for their sensory, learning, language and cultural diversity.
The students plan and perform tests and express themselves in a way that suits them best, and students' learning is stimulated by interests that motivate them. It helps all children learn — with special needs, English as an additional language, First Nations, children at risk, gifted students. All students benefit, and the teachers benefit because they don't have to modify; that's much harder to do.
The second course that I think we need to add is "Applied Behaviour Assessment," which is not only used for children with autism but children with behaviour disorders, children with brain injury, children with Down syndrome — and adults, of course. It's been used successfully in many areas. It was described by my professor as just good teaching. Basically, you take a task, break it down into its parts and teach it the way the person learns best. It ties into universal design.
The third course that I think should be core is "Functional Assessment," which is used to create and monitor positive behaviour support. Functional assessment involves analyzing the functional behaviour of a student or class or school or business organization and replacing the behaviour that you don't want with one that's preferred using ABA teaching methods.
Teachers are trying to do this, but done incorrectly, without training, it really leads to frustration. These need to be mandatory core courses.
For current teachers, I think they need to have their professional days dedicated to doing this as well, and I would suggest free webcasts, because right now it's directed study. They could just let teachers have access to that.
Also, in schools we can have children involved with peer training. There are already things like Roots of Empathy and integrated peer groups, and a more economically important thing is to have students volunteer as peer support for credit. Then they are educated. They can go on and get jobs in the pharmaceutical industry or whatever.
The third solution is very simple. It's to remove wait-lists caused by lack of service providers if lack of professionals for diagnosis and support is the problem — such as speech-language pathologists and board-certified behaviour analysts — and to remove enrolment caps if there are any — when I worked at Speech, there were enrolment caps, so they purposely didn't teach enough students — and to provide education incentives such as student loan forgiveness.
They wanted me to say how this is affecting me. The lack of funding has affected my son in the following ways.
He's now 12, but when he was 22 months, he was diagnosed with autism, and we lived in Vancouver. With the Centre for Ability we had an infant development consultant and some speech services, and we had supported child development. Basically, we had 5½ hours, Monday to Friday, of support so that he could be included in his preschool and in his before-school and after-school care and I could work. I also finished my BA, my BEd, my diploma, so I got a lot done, and he was fully included.
When we moved to Burnaby — at that point it was 2008 — we went on this wait-list, and everything just ground to a halt. I can't work. It costs me more to work than it does, because of the child care, to not work. It's a bit of a strange situation, but I've tried to cost it out every way I can, and I can make about $500 before I start going backward.
Basically, the supported child development program works really well when it's funded. It's an amazing program, but I just don't think we have the funding right now, and the wait-list is basically putting out fires with band-aid solutions, and parents are getting very angry at other parents for having…. It's very complicated how you get onto the wait-list and where you move up, and you can end up being dropped down and never getting out of the wait-list.
They've been telling me that it's going to be another four years, so my son will be 16 by the time he gets anything, and what it'll be is a one-on-one at the home, which isn't inclusion. I'd like him to be involved in after-school recreation, arts, computer skills — things that other children his age are doing — because inclusion is key. These are the kids who will be his co-workers. These are the kids who need to know how to work with him, and he needs to know how to work with them outside of school. I think that's really important.
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J. Les (Chair): We have time for one question, Cynthia, from Bill.
B. Routley: You believe you've got a better system by using a model that's already in place, but I'm not clear on how that would differentiate…. You've got kids on the autism spectrum, and obviously, there are some kids that need more specialized treatment than others. How does that get taken into account with this new model?
C. Stark: That's a good question. Basically, what's happening with the autism funding now is the lower-than-six-year-olds get $22,000 and the above-six-year-olds — to 18 or 19, I believe — get $6,000. So there's already that built into the system for age. You would also build that in for different disabilities.
It's less arbitrary than it is now, because right now you've got social workers with a huge caseload, and they're overwhelmed. They can't really do their job, which is to decide which things are needed. Really, parents are the ones who know what their kids need. If you have a list, like with the autism unit, of what's available, what you have to choose from, and then you have a set amount of money, you're going to use that money most effectively.
The parents haven't squabbled much about the fact that once the kid turns six, they get less. I think that as long as there's predictability, you know what you're going to get, and you can work for it. They might try to lobby back and forth and get more for their group, and that's fine. It's a starting point. But I think that you can average it out.
Obviously, a kid with autism…. One might need no services, and one might need tons of services. Right now you've got that discrepancy, but they're trying to do the best they can with what they have and make it the best system. It's going to be a bell curve. But I think it is the best system, because having a lot of man-hours spent trying to decide which child should get what services and putting them on lists and jockeying the lists is such a lot of man-hours and money that could be spent on direct services.
I think most parents would rather…. If you said, "Would you rather this money be used for administrative costs and figuring out where you are on a list or for actually giving your kid services?" I think they would just say: "Yeah, I'm going to take the services, even though they're not perfectly there."
J. Les (Chair): Okay, Cynthia. With that, I'll let you go. Thank you very much. It's a very full presentation you have brought to us.
Our next presenter, from the Arts Council of Surrey, is Carol Girardi.
C. Girardi: Hello, I'm Carol Girardi from the Arts Council of Surrey. I'm here to represent the arts in our community. Over the past year there has been a strong community response to the provincial arts and cultural funding cuts. Local governments and community leaders from around the province have shared and expressed the communities' concerns.
As you know, since the summer of 2009 the arts and heritage communities have been suffering from provincial funding cuts, and the cuts are continuing into 2011, despite recent government announcements. These cuts have impacted local arts organizations such as the Arts Council of Surrey, Surrey Festival of Dance, Surrey Art Gallery, Surrey Museum and many other arts organizations in Surrey.
We recognize the economic challenges facing the provincial government. However, the deep funding cuts implemented to date have had a devastating effect not only on arts, culture and heritage but on economic and social development in our community and throughout the province.
According to the B.C. government's own studies, every dollar invested by the province in arts and cultural organizations returns between $1.05 and $1.36 directly into the provincial treasury.
The arts contribute substantially to the social and economic well-being in our community. The arts represent diversity, education, thoughtfulness and creativity, resulting in a healthier, happier, economically competitive and livable community.
Surrey will soon become the largest city in the province. We already have the largest population of children and youth living in Surrey. The future does live here, and we need to ensure that these young people reach their full potential and have access to the arts and opportunities for creative expressions.
The arts community would like to acknowledge the recommendations of the standing committee to restore the funding cuts to previous levels. The recent announcement on September 1 to allocate $7 million to the B.C. Arts Council, bringing its total annual budget to $16 million, was a step in the right direction.
However, these grant programs and the related funding mechanisms, criteria and eligibility seem to be changing — for example, $3 million of this allocation to a new Spirit Festival program. Grant applications for this program have to be submitted by October 6. Funding announcements will be made in early November, and the program must be delivered in February 2011.
Fundings are limited based on the size of the community population, and there are limits on who may apply. Municipalities are not eligible to apply, and it is only a two-year program. Therefore, sustainability of a new service created would be an issue.
Community arts organizations are scrambling to form partnerships and develop concepts to qualify for this funding while they still have to deal with the losses
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of their operating funds. We can't deliver new services if we can't keep our doors open.
Also, this type of funding does nothing to improve the funding for the Surrey Museum, where the provincial funding has dropped from $35,000 annually to $13,000. Under the same program cuts the Surrey Art Gallery has lost $30,000 annually. According to the September 1 press release, as clients of the B.C. Arts Council, these two Surrey cultural institutions may receive further support in the spring and autumn rounds. This refers to funding rounds in 2011 for programming and activities in 2012.
It is important to note that the B.C. government funding for arts and culture, including heritage, is the lowest of any province or territory in Canada, and these figures were before the cuts. Therefore, it is imperative that the province strive to bring their per-capita spending up to the Canadian average. British Columbia is 13th on the list.
Similarly, there has been no move to reinstate funding that arts groups formerly received from direct-access gaming. Ironically, Surrey has a relatively small number of established not-for-profit groups that qualify for the funding. The Arts Council of Surrey has been in existence for 43 years. Our funding has been cut by 60 percent in 2010 with the reduction in funding from the B.C. Arts Council and the recent declined notice received from direct access.
Surrey Festival of Dance, which has been in existence for 44 years, is one of the largest dance festivals in North America. It is a totally volunteer-based organization. The volunteers put in well over 9,000 hours to make the event happen. This event affects over 10,000 participants from the age of three to 83.
The Surrey Festival of Dance was under the three-year program through the direct access, with 2010 being their final payment. Under the present guidelines they are no longer eligible for funding, which will have a major impact on the participants and the organization for 2011 and 2012. The current criteria and priorities for the direct-access grants have been rewritten to exclude most arts and cultural organizations which previously were able to access these funds.
In 1999 the province of British Columbia entered into a memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming to commit a third of the annual B.C. Lottery Corporation revenues for the purpose of supporting licensed activities. This promise to support non-profits and charitable organizations was one of the ways that the government initially convinced British Columbians to go along to expand gambling in this province. This should not be disregarded at the expense of the society.
Gaming funds available to the arts and cultural community have been reduced from a high of $20 million in 2007-2008 to about $11 million in 2010-2011. Of that $11 million, $3.5 million was allocated to multi-year clients. While gambling profits are steadily rising, distribution to charities fell last year to 19 percent, and now in 2010 almost no arts and cultural organizations are eligible for gaming revenue at all.
It is important to note that the B.C. arts and cultural sector has over 91,000 volunteers who contribute 9.555 million volunteer hours. This equates to 4,950 full-time jobs, valued at $143 million in annual contributions. The contributions to the arts by the cultural organizations represent a return of between $1.05 and $1.36 directly into provincial treasuries and represents $5 billion of B.C.'s GDP and over 80,000 jobs.
My recommendation to the committee is that the arts and cultural organizations — including heritage and community-based organizations — and individual artists must be supported with an arm's-length public investment through the B.C. Arts Council that is stable and sufficient to support the council's strategic plans and which is more in line with the per-capita expenditures found in other provinces and regions in Canada.
We recommend that an appropriation be allotted to the B.C. Arts Council in the upcoming provincial budget that is at least $16 million; continuing to allocate the arts legacy fund — $7 million to the B.C. Arts Council in the next two fiscal years to supplement the council's basic appropriations; restoring the amount of funding for arts and culture organizations supported through gaming revenue; and honouring the social contract that British Columbians regarded the expansion of gaming.
Support public funding for the non-profit arts and culture sector. Tough economic times are exactly the time when we should be supporting our communities and investing. We in the community give a special thank-you to our mayor and council, who recognize that investing in the arts supports cultural activities that reflect our diversity, resulting in a healthy, happier, economically competitive, livable community.
There is a need in our community. As an example, in 2003 the Surrey Arts Centre theatre hosted 317 booking days, and in 2009 the booking days were 610. So there is a need in the community.
The Arts Council of Surrey is grateful for the opportunity to present our concerns and recommendations to this committee, with the hope that the non-profit arts, culture and heritage communities will be included in policy consultations that effect a more comprehensive vision for the future and recognize the value of arts and culture in our society.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thank you for the presentation. My name is Doug Donaldson. I'm MLA for Stikine, in the northwest part of the province.
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I just wanted to clarify that I heard you right and ask you the implications of this scenario, if I heard you right — that the Surrey Museum and art gallery funding, through the latest round of funding that went to the B.C. Arts Council with the application deadline…. Then the implementation of that program would not be…. If successful, you wouldn't see any of that funding until 2012.
There's a gap there, from what I can tell, called 2011. What implications would that have on the museum and the…?
C. Girardi: Well, they would apply later in the year, so it would affect the following year. They would be applying later in the year because of their timelines, so it would affect into the following year. When you get approved, in some cases you don't receive the funding for a while. With us, we get approved in 2010. We don't receive our funding until mid-2011.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Is there a gap between the start of 2011 until when you could actually potentially see some of this funding?
C. Girardi: In some cases, yes. I'm not fully familiar with the dates on the museum and the art centre. I'm more familiar with the funding effects on the arts council and member groups that are involved with the arts council.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Carol.
Our next presenter is Paul Kariya.
I used to watch a fellow by the name of Paul Kariya. He used to play for Penticton in the B.C. Junior A hockey league, but it wasn't you, was it?
P. Kariya: Maybe it was. Hockey is a hard life. It takes a toll on one's body, I find.
No, we're very proud of Paul, and the other two boys, too, are still playing hockey in Europe.
J. Les (Chair): We used to call him the jitterbug on ice.
P. Kariya: He was 14 when he left for Penticton.
Thank you. I welcome this opportunity. This is my first time before this committee, but my predecessor, Steve Davis, since 2004 has presented in front of this committee.
Our presentations through the years have been consistent. Clean energy development and growth in British Columbia is a natural fit and tremendous opportunity for the province and its people. The difference between last year and this year is that we now have a Clean Energy Act that was passed and given royal assent in June 2010.
While many details remain to be worked out in regulations and further policy refinements, the framework is there to help B.C. achieve energy self-sufficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support economic development, all whilst protecting ratepayers with low-cost electricity.
With this backdrop, then, I'd like to speak to three themes: jobs and economic development, First Nations and environmental stewardship. And I'd like to close with a couple of recommendations for you.
We talk a little bit about Clean Energy B.C. Last year, and for almost 20 years, we have been known as the Independent Power Producers Association of British Columbia.
This year we have rebranded into the Clean Energy Association of B.C. But far from simply a name change, we are aligning to serve our members better and to connect with the interests of B.C. in the social and economic marketplace.
As an example, far from being independent power producers, our members are very much dependent power producers. We essentially depend upon a single buyer for our product — B.C. Hydro. And our members develop, produce and operate their projects under very strict standards, guidelines and regulations.
Really, our social licence to operate comes from the people of B.C., who, poll after poll, confirm their concern for a clean environment in which we live and raise our kids — whether in cities, hinterland places or in aboriginal communities. We market our product locally and, hopefully, increasingly to those who are afar who also need clean energy to help them combat the negative impacts from human-induced global warming and climate change.
Now more than ever, the tag line "Thinking globally and acting locally" could not be more appropriate. All Clean Energy B.C. members take the "clean" in clean energy very seriously.
Turning to jobs and economic development, then. British Columbia has done well in expanding its economic base to attract and sustain new industries in secondary, tertiary and quaternary sectors, but fundamentally we are still dependent upon our natural resources to drive the economic engine. I don't believe we need to apologize for this. It simply underlines the fact that what drives British Columbia is This Ragged Place, as Terry Glavin might reference it, our natural environment, or it's in our nature, as Tzeporah Berman has said about the clean energy potential of British Columbia. We are blessed with a superabundance of high quality fuels for the clean economy — wind, hydro, biomass, biogas, ocean, tidal, geothermal, natural gas and solar.
Today there are approximately 60 operating clean energy projects in B.C. comprised of 48 storage and non-storage hydro, one wind, and the balance from biomass, biogas and energy recovery facilities. Our members deliver about 10 percent of the electricity that B.C. Hydro delivers to its customers and ratepayers.
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During the spring of 2010, B.C. Hydro closed its Clean Power Call and announced the awarding of 27 energy purchase agreements to 25 developers which, if one estimates an attrition rate of 30 percent, would translate into about 2,286 gigawatt hours of firm energy. The capital expenditure on this could be upwards of $3 billion, much of it expended in British Columbia. Project awards touch most regions of the province — the East Kootenays, Lower Mainland for sure, Kelly-Nicola, Peace River, Vancouver Island and the north coast.
In January 2010 Clean Energy B.C. released a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers entitled Economic Impact Analysis of Independent Power Projects in British Columbia. Using a very conservative forecast, B.C. has a need for an additional 26,500 gigawatt hours of electricity by 2020. Achieving this level of output will trigger $29 billion of capital investments by the private sector, leading to the creation of 89,000 person-years of employment during construction and another 9,100 full-time-equivalent jobs in operations. GDP will rise by $9 billion.
Much of the jobs and economic benefits from building out of these energy projects will benefit First Nations remote and hinterland communities, where these developments will be primarily located. Of the 26,500 gigawatt hours, 14,500 will be for domestic needs and 12,000 for exports.
Producing this GHG-free electricity will eliminate the need for periodic imports of electricity generated by coal-fired plants, enable fuel-switching in fossil fuel–dependent sectors such as transportation and provide an export product which is clean and renewable.
Furthermore, the huge storage capacity that B.C. Hydro has with its heritage reservoirs favours firming and shaping of intermittent energy from clean energy sources into a higher value-added product. In order to effect economic development in job creation through clean energy development in First Nation and hinterland regions, the new Clean Energy Act and government policy directs publicly owned B.C. Hydro to work together with private sector clean energy producers. We very much welcome this initiative.
A few thoughts on First Nations, then. First Nations occupy a very unique position in British Columbia. Two-thirds of the province remains untreated lands with aboriginal rights and title existing side by side with Crown title. While treaty negotiations are underway, we all know that conclusion of treaties will take many years to achieve and implement. Meanwhile, there is a need for natural resource development to move forward. Various reconciliation agreements and interim measures continue to be worked out through consultation and accommodation.
These are rightfully Crown obligations, but there is a role for senior governments and the private sector to work honourably and cooperatively with First Nations in clean energy project development. The clean energy sector is pleased and proud that, generally, as a sector, it has a very positive and proactive working relationship with First Nations.
In 2010 Clean Energy B.C. developed and issued its guiding principles for successful relationship-building with First Nations. Clean energy projects have been developed by First Nations. Others have negotiated equity provisions for First Nation ownership. Many have benefits agreements that ensure First Nations have meaningful engagement opportunities, procurement contracts, jobs and so forth, from project development and construction. These are mutually beneficial relationships that have been forged.
Let me say a few words about environmental stewardship. All natural resource development projects have impacts upon the landscape, but overall, the clean energy sector has a very light footprint. When one factors in the need to meet societal goals and objectives of combatting climate change and reducing our reliance upon fossil fuels, the clean energy sector has a positive benefit to the larger environment.
On a project-by-project basis, clean energy projects are very strictly regulated in all phases of development and operations. In total, a clean energy project must receive something in the order of 50 permits and regulations today.
Run-of-river hydro projects are generally situated above the reach of anadromous fish like salmon. Wind projects are located mindful to avoid wildlife sensitive interactions, and biomass plants utilize waste-wood residuals. Once operational, clean energy operations are monitored by independent monitors who file their report with government regulatory agencies.
Let me close, then, with two recommendations. We have the Clean Energy Act in effect now. What's needed is enabling regulations and policies to be developed and promulgated expeditiously.
The clean energy sector is an extremely competitive business, and capital is portable, such that regions of North America with supportive government policies and heavy government subsidies attract investment and development. Capital, in many ways, is like electrons. It flows through the path of least resistance.
Clean Energy B.C. is not asking for subsidies. It is asking for the best policy environment we can have for the clean energy business. We are moving aggressively to meet climate action targets.
Are we pushing hard enough to reduce societal dependence and sector-specific dependence on fossil-burning fuels? What is the government-led export and economic development strategy that the government, B.C. Hydro and industry will pursue? There needs to be bold buildout of transmission, such as in the northeast, to support electrification of the natural gas sector.
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Aggressive support is needed to assist First Nations to increase their role in the clean energy sector. The $5 million First Nations energy fund announced in the Clean Energy Act is a good start, but it's a modest one. It can be useful to support First Nation capacity development, but it is woefully inadequate to assist First Nations with equity positions.
The comparable there would be in Ontario, where a $250 million guarantee loan fund has been set up. This is the magnitude of what is required in B.C. to assist First Nations, especially where we have more First Nations in B.C. than we do in Ontario.
Are we doing all that we can to assist First Nations and remote communities to have cost-effective access to clean, reliable electricity? For example, today in B.C. there are still 17 First Nations that rely upon very expensive diesel generators, where fuel must be transported in, safely stored, transferred and handled. There are better, cleaner and safer options.
I close, then, with two images for you. One of them is from a run-of-river project site in the Squamish valley. The caption we put there is "Run of river 2010 — unequivocal attention to the environment." We take that very seriously.
And the second image that I leave with you is entitled "Yesterday — abandoned forestry equipment," in that same footprint area of the Squamish. As Prof. Peter Senge from MIT has written about in his seminal book about sustainability, we are on the path of a necessary revolution.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you, Paul.
Any questions from anyone?
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for the presentation. Doug Donaldson, MLA, Stikine, up in the northwest, where your points around First Nations are very relevant.
I'm curious around the members of your association — what their views would be on certain models of ownership, considering the progression in legal decisions around aboriginal title. For instance, would there be aversion to the partnerships with First Nations — what you called equity positions of a First Nation owning 60 percent of a project and one of the members of your association being a 40 percent owner, those kind of things? Has any thought been put into that or discussions amongst your membership?
P. Kariya: I think the membership are wide open. There are examples today where deals have been cut or deals are in the works where indeed the lead developer is the First Nation. So our membership is wide open.
In representing them, I'm clear to point out that they will cut businesslike deals with First Nations. Some of it will be impact-benefit agreements. Some of them will be some form of revenue-sharing, where they will be looking to government to also be involved. In others it will be a straight business proposition where the First Nation will be the owner, or there will be buyout provision for them in time.
I pride us, as an industry, that we're very proactive and open to all forms of models, and the north, northwest, with leaders like the Nisga'a and the Gitxsan and others are going to be at the forefront of some of this stuff, because they are so aggressive in pursuing creative business decisions, if you will.
J. van Dongen: Thanks for your presentation, Paul. I was just thinking when you were talking about the First Nations energy fund. I don't know the kind of deals that you're structuring with First Nations, but certainly that is something that the government would promote and foster.
Our government has put in significant dollars into various funds — $100 million fund to First Nations that they control and things like the northern development fund. That is more of a general economic generator–type of a fund.
Have you been able to work with First Nations on either of those funding sources? Would they fit on your projects?
P. Kariya: We've had some discussions. I'm aware of both of those funds and some others. I'm not sure if I can say that those funds have been directly involved to date. It's an interesting thing. My experience with these kinds of funds is that once held and set up, people become quite conservative, if you will, in terms of what they're applied to.
There are some other active funds that have been engaged. Kudos to those folks. For example, Ecotrust Canada has a small equity fund that they've established. I think Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has been involved.
The Nuu-chah-nulth have set up with a small fund. There are three aboriginal capital corporations — Tricor, All Nations Trust have set this up.
So those are very small pots of money that are engaged and are being used. So if one looks at the project in Atlin, for example, which is 100 percent owned by the Atlin First Nation…. Vancity, aboriginal capital corporations, with some bank funding, have been in there.
There are pools of money. There are others that we're trying to engage. The CAPE fund that Paul Martin has helped set up is coming to town. We'll have some discussions. I think there is still room for government to put a little bit more in on the equity side.
J. Les (Chair): Final question to Don.
D. McRae: I noticed under your recommendations, 1(c), you talk about a bold buildout of transmission. Do
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you guys have any sort of estimation of cost that you'd like to see the government bring forward in terms of dollars? Do you see it being a provincial, federal and perhaps industry division of cost-sharing?
P. Kariya: I don't want to just throw out a number. We certainly privately talk about a number. In terms of how this is to be done, I think we're wide open to different types of models that can be there. I think we're in a climate, though, that as bold and as aggressive as the private sector is and can be, there needs to be buildout with a partnership, a P3-type approach, and I think that kind of approach would be very welcome. But transmission, for sure, is a necessary utility to be built if we're going to do this well, to do this in clusters and to have a managed approach to buildout in this province.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Paul. That's all the time we have today. We appreciate you coming.
Our next presenter, on behalf of the B.C. Cycling Coalition, is Richard Campbell.
R. Campbell: Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to address you this afternoon. What I have here is a presentation, and as I go through it, I'll be referring to various tables and charts in it. I anticipate we would also do a formal submission before October 15 that would add more detail and explain more how we arrived at some of the results in the tables and figures.
The British Columbia Cycling Coalition represents the interests of cyclists provincially and works to secure the recognition in policy and programs affecting transportational cycling.
Our coalition and our member organizations represent thousands of cyclists across B.C. There's the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, with local committees in most of the Lower Mainland municipalities; the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition; the Greater Nanaimo Coalition; the Cross Canada Cycle Tour Society; the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition; the Juan de Fuca Cycle Coalition; the Abbotsford cycling coalition; the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition; the B.C. Randonneurs Cycling Club; and lastly, Cycling B.C.
Now, there are multiple benefits of cycling, and a lot of them fall well within provincial government goals and targets. First of all, there's improved safety — there's strong evidence that improved cycling facilities will make cycling safer — and of course increased physical fitness, and both of these help reduce health care costs.
Furthermore, with the province's aggressive healthy communities goals, cycling can be a big part of that. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions; increased bicycle industry sales; cycling tourism; improved, inexpensive transportation choices, which in a tough economic time is probably really important to people; and of course less congestion on the road.
Cycling is very popular. In Metro Vancouver almost half the people ride a bike. Now, some of them may only ride it less than once a year, but a good portion ride at least once a year, and 13 percent actually ride a bike once a month. I'll refer you to the table on page 3. As far as bicycle commuting goes, we're not quite at the standard of some of the big European cities, but there are certain communities around the province that do have quite a high mode share.
Victoria, for example, has almost 10 percent, and South Cambie, in Vancouver, has almost 11 percent of commuting trips by bike. And of course although the average for B.C. is only 2 percent, which is not great by world standards, we are one of the leaders in North America in cycling to work.
As far as bicycle sales go, the total for British Columbia for bicycles and bicycle accessories totals about $140 million a year. As you can see on the table on page 4, there's pretty strong evidence that as the cycling mode share increases, the bicycle sales per capita also increase dramatically until we get over to the Netherlands, where just bicycles alone, not including parts and accessories, are around $90 per person per year.
Improved safety. The injury rate in Canada, which I expect is similar to that of B.C., is almost twice that of the Netherlands. Actually, it's a bit over twice that of the Netherlands. There are two things that lead to that: improved facilities, and also, there's evidence that as the number of cyclists on the road increases, motorists learn to expect cyclists, and they can avoid collisions with them. I'll note that in the Netherlands the helmet use is about 1 percent.
There are also benefits of investments in cycling infrastructure for other users who don't necessarily ride bikes. Pedestrians, joggers, runners, in-line skaters, people with electric wheelchairs and skaters all use the same paths that cyclists can use. In the snow these paths can even be used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
The traffic calming along bike routes benefits neighbourhoods and makes streets safer for pedestrians and children. Bicycle lanes along busy streets calm traffic, which improves the pedestrian environments. In New York City they did a study, and they found that the streets with bicycle lanes had 40 percent fewer pedestrian injuries.
There is a real value to complete cycling networks. That would be a network where people could basically get on their bike and go anywhere they want without having to worry if there's a safe bicycle route there or not. The North American leaders — Boulder, Colorado, and Davis, California — have around 20 percent of
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people commuting by bike. The chart below shows the relationship between cycling-mode share in the States and the completeness of the cycling network.
To follow up on the healthy communities, for lower- and medium-density communities where the majority of trips are not within reasonable walking distance and frequent transit service can be costly, cycling is probably the best short-term option to provide people with good transportation choices. Certainly, in the long term infill development can make these communities better for walking and cycling, but depending on the growth rates in the communities, that could take years or decades before these communities become truly walkable and easy to serve by transit.
Now I'll refer you to page 7 and this rather complicated chart that shows the barriers to cycling. Across all different types of cyclists, regardless of the frequency, it certainly appears as if infrastructure improvements are what's most likely to get these people on their bikes, encouraging them to cycle more. The University of British Columbia's Cycling in Cities survey confirmed that cyclists of all ages and abilities prefer routes separated from traffic, including bicycle paths, multi-use paths and separated bike lanes.
These high-quality cycling facilities that are attractive to a significant portion of the population tend to cost around $2 million per kilometre. A dramatic increase of funding from the provincial government would ensure that residents of all ages and abilities in communities around B.C. have access to such safe cycling routes for daily trips, recreation and sport.
Now on to page 8. This was a survey that was done by TransLink in Metro Vancouver, but I would assume there would be similar results through the province. It showed very strong support for cycling improvements, with 85 percent of people supporting government funding, planning and promotion of cycling, while only about 17 percent opposed, and only 6 percent were strongly opposed.
Now on to investment elsewhere. Netherlands, the world leader in cycling, invests a significant amount each year. I certainly believe that there would be a lot more invested by the individual municipalities and perhaps the region. But the total for the federal government there is around $41 per year. In Münster, Germany, where they had a dramatic increase of cycling over 11 years, during that period they invested the equivalent, in today's dollars, of about $38.
Now, Sydney is investing about a hundred dollars per person over four years. The thing to note there is that this is not the metro region. This is the city of Sydney itself, where the population, I believe, is about 150,000. Finally, our neighbours to the south in Portland, Oregon, just finished an ambitious new bicycle plan with the mode share goal of 25 percent in 20 years, I believe. Their plan is invest around $51 per person per year over that period to achieve that goal.
Now on to page 9. In British Columbia an investment of $40 per person per year would amount to $175 million per year in B.C. To show you the benefits of investing large amounts sooner rather than later, I've prepared three scenarios here.
One is a base scenario which reflects the around $20 million we estimate that all levels of government are currently spending now in British Columbia on cycling. Then we did a 20-year scenario where there was the base $20 million plus an initial $35 million per year for 20 years, so that would be an additional $700 million invested over that period. Then, also, a four-year investment period showing the benefits of an accelerated investment with a base of $20 million per year plus the $175 million a year for four years. So again, the total would be $700 million.
We feel that this level of investment over four years would enable the construction of several hundred kilometres of high-quality cycling facilities in communities around the province, providing the majority of British Columbians with access to great bicycle routes.
I did some summaries of some of the cumulative benefits of this investment. First, you can see what the mode share could be in the year 2020 in these various scenarios. Spreading an increased investment over 20 years, you'd get about 4 percent of trips by bike by 2020. If you accelerate that investment, there would be almost 6 percent of trips by bike by the year 2020. I've also given an idea of what the daily trip levels might be, the greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the cumulative health care cost savings.
Now, note that with the health care cost savings I only included the physical fitness gains. Some of the other possible benefits are from the reduction in pollution, the reductions in collisions and injuries both to cyclists and other road users. More people on bikes would probably mean fewer people in their cars, which could make it safer for drivers, cyclists and other road users. So it does show a significant benefit of that.
Over the base scenario there's almost $80 million in cumulative benefits over that period in health care costs. Over the 20-year period there's a bit over $50 million in cumulative benefits.
Now, I also showed the cumulative sales in the bicycle industry. There, if we go with the accelerated investment over the base, the bicycle industry sales could increase by almost $500 million in that period. In the column over there I showed what the cumulative HST revenue could be under each of these scenarios.
One thing I should say is that I was thinking of focusing on how the incremental HST revenue could be used to finance the borrowing of the money to pay for this. However, with the uncertainty around the HST, I thought it best not to focus on that. If anybody has questions around that, I can certainly give you more information,
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or I could also include more details in the final submission, if you do want it. But I realize that it's controversial, so I don't want to touch on that much.
A Voice: You already have.
R. Campbell: I know.
Just a note, there was no provincial sales tax on bicycles, and the bicycle trade association has figured that that has created about an additional $10 million of taxes on cyclists. The cycling community isn't particularly happy with that, but if there's significant investment in cycling, that will certainly help ease the wounds of that.
Finally, I'll just wrap it up with some recommendations here, nothing to do with the HST. First of all, we recommend an accelerated investment in cycling — not a big surprise there — totalling $700 million in communities and on provincial highways around B.C. and also funding for cycling safety and the promotion of cycling to go along with all these great new cycling facilities.
It's important to get children cycling at a young age, get cycling education for them. I think that safe routes to school, including infrastructure improvements, safety education and promotion would be a fantastic idea as well. Ensure TransLink has the financial resources to accelerate the investment in cycling in the Lower Mainland. Ensure that the budgets for all new and upgraded highways, bridges and rapid transit projects include sufficient funds for high-quality cycling facilities and bicycle parking.
I know a lot of times that is done, although in some cases a bit of extra money might really help improve the quality of the facilities, especially the connections to the facilities from the community.
Also, for rapid transit projects, often the parking is included, but the connections to the rapid transit aren't. Especially sometimes they can actually be integrated in with the construction work along underneath the guideway.
In several cases TransLink or the municipalities have had to go back later and fund these improvements for rapid transit. That's led to higher costs, and as well, it's taken several years longer to finish that. For example, the Central Valley Greenway wasn't complete until ten years after the completion of the Millennium Line.
Funding for cycling touring routes to attract more cyclists. Now, I'm not a particular expert in that, so I'm not sure what levels of funding would be needed, but I could probably get some more information on that. Trails B.C. and some of the other groups might have some more information on that.
Also, finally, offer all provincial government staff a generous cycling allowance for using their bicycles while conducting government business, and offer tax incentives for private firms and municipal governments to offer similar allowances to their staff.
J. Les (Chair): There was a suggestion here that staff are specializing in back-pedalling. [Laughter.]
R. Campbell: Well, actually, since you mention that, I saw a film of this guy in Toronto. He's perfected backwards cycling. He sits on the handlebars and pedals backwards. It looks like that wherever he goes. It's quite interesting.
J. Les (Chair): Not recommended by the police, however.
R. Campbell: Not recommended by the British Columbia Cycling Coalition either.
J. Les (Chair): Right.
Okay, we have three quick questions.
N. Letnick: The first quick question. Many people in my area do bike to school or bike to work. I do as much as I can as well, so I'm totally in line with what you're thinking.
In your analysis of what's going on around the world, looking at the table here, some of the big barriers are safety away from cars, and another one is weather. Has anybody come up with a system which is away from cars and not impacted so much by the rain — you know, some kind of covered bike path — around the world? Have you seen anything like that, which would take care of these two barriers to biking?
R. Campbell: Well, there's one place I think in Sweden which has particularly vicious winter weather. I think they actually have an enclosed bicycle route there to protect…. Actually, in places where there are elevated rapid transit guideways, it makes sense to put the bicycle route under there, because you essentially get a covered bike route for free.
There are other ways of helping to deal with the weather. One is snow. In places like the Netherlands and Denmark they plow the bicycle routes before they plow the roads, and I believe they do the same thing in Boulder, Colorado, as well — and also education on cycling gear, places for people to store wet clothes, inside storage for bicycles where they can dry off. Those help cyclists deal with the rainy weather — and also well-lit bicycle routes. Bicycle routes that are safe and away from traffic also make it safer and more pleasant — to cycle away from the cars, where you're not splashed by horrible amounts of water.
J. Les (Chair): Okay, next quick question and quick answer.
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D. McRae: Always quick for you.
First of all, we have Ed Schum in Comox Valley, where I'm from. I don't know if you're familiar with him…
R. Campbell: Oh yes, I know Ed.
D. McRae: …but he's a great cycling advocate, and we're lucky to have him in our Comox Valley.
Back in spring 2008, I think it was, we saw the price of gas spike to about a buck 40 a litre, and people rushed to the bike stores and got incredibly more fit. Do you see there to be sort of a dollar amount on gas that really is a make-or-break point for people to really change their habits? In the places that we talked about, except for Portland, especially in Europe the price of gas is just so much more expensive there. That's a great reason for people to consider other forms of transportation, aside from the health factors.
R. Campbell: Certainly. I'm not sure. I think it's probably a scale for people, depending on their level of income and how much they have to drive. Certainly, that is a tremendous encouragement for people to cycle. That's another good reason to be prepared for the cycling facilities. We don't have any control over the price of gas. Who knows? It may go up like this tomorrow, and if the cycling facilities are there, people have the opportunity of switching right there instead of having to either pay the price of gas or risk injury on substandard cycling facilities. I think it does help us prepare for the future.
D. McRae: If I may just ask a follow-up, is there an average commute length that is seen as acceptable, that stops being a barrier?
R. Campbell: Somewhere between three and five kilometres, depending on the terrain, depending on the bicycle routes. If there are few stops along the bicycle routes, people are willing to bike further.
Another thing to note is how fast the electric bicycle technology is developing. That certainly helps conquer the hills and distances. In China they're selling 20 million a year, compared to 13 million cars. I think as the batteries get smaller and the prices get cheaper, that could really spur the cycling level, especially in a place like B.C., where we do have some hill challenges.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): A quick question. I have to preface it by saying that I live in a northern rural area a thousand kilometres north of Vancouver, yet cycling is easily feasible eight months a year. I have friends who see people cycling throughout the year to work. I think when we think infrastructure, a lot of people get focused on large urban centres in the southern part of the province, but it's applicable to the north as well.
On that note, do your members have a position on using a portion of the carbon tax to invest in cycling infrastructure?
R. Campbell: Yeah, definitely. I think that would be a good idea. It's important to give people options, so if they choose to, they don't have to pay the carbon tax by using an alternative form of transportation. Certainly, I think that that's something we would strongly support. The higher price of gas plus the options, I think, give people a real choice to reduce their carbon emissions by driving less.
J. Rustad: Thank you very much. I apologize for missing some of your presentation coming in. I just want to go along the routes of the carbon tax as well. Carbon tax in Europe is really designed to be used for offset of incentives, as opposed to funding projects. Cap-and-trade, however, has been used in Europe for other types of things.
What I'm wondering is: in Europe, in the study that you've done, have there been any incentives — for, let's say, purchase of bicycles or those sorts of things — that had been funded through things like a carbon tax? Infrastructure is a different question.
R. Campbell: I can't speak to being funded through the carbon tax. I think either the German government or some place in Germany, and I believe some place in Italy or the Italian government, did provide some subsidies or programs to help employees purchase bikes. If you want, I could include some more details on that in the final submission.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much for coming this afternoon, Richard. We appreciate that very much. We look forward to the further information that you might provide.
Our next presenter is Angela Calla.
A. Calla: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for having me today. I just wanted to go over a few points. I'm an accredited mortgage professional and was the Accredited Mortgage Professional of the Year Canada-wide in 2009.
I currently host the Mortgage Show on CKNW, which is designed to help Canadians make smart decisions on how to save the most amount of money possible on their mortgages. You've heard it?
A Voice: Yeah, I heard you.
A. Calla: Great. Thanks for tuning in.
I thought I'd just bring forward a couple of points that are front and centre in our industry and a couple of ideas to bring to the table to help Canadians do what
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is most important and also what Mark Carney has suggested in several of his recent announcements — which is helping Canadians save more money and make smart, financially prudent decisions.
First, I'm going to start with…. This is a two-page document. The first page starts with the increase in property transfer limits. I'll go through the first page and then continue along to the second and let you know when I'm moving along.
Here in British Columbia, as house prices continue to rise, I believe it's suitable that the threshold for property transfer tax is increased somewhere in the range of $475,000 to $425,000. I believe that now, even though we're in more of a balanced market, single-family homes in the Lower Mainland are closer to this range than the current fair market value threshold of $425,000. This would make it easier for families to purchase homes closer to their places of employment, which would help ease traffic and protect the environment — a little bit consistent with some of the feedback that we heard earlier today.
Also, growing families…. We need more internal growth here in British Columbia. We find in our industry that many young families are really trying to maintain under that $425,000 to $450,000 level, so seeing that home prices have increased, it would be something up for consideration.
The next thing. I really want to commend…. I know that this was a federal initiative, but the home renovation tax credit in our industry was just a real breath of fresh air. We saw several thousand British Columbians take advantage of it. I would hope to see back a made-in-B.C. home renovation tax credit. In 2009 it really helped maintain employment. As we saw, the new homes…. Starts were decreased.
The tax credit fuelled by Canadians to increase the value of their homes regardless of market conditions and maintain good-quality British Columbia homes. This provides more opportunities to suite existing homes for further income production, which provides real estate accommodation for our growing population via net migration.
This will assist people in applying the additional income that they're earning from rent to their current mortgages to encourage more savings and to also provide housing and additional opportunities to host students as well, which is a big part of how families and young people who are getting into the market are looking at ways they can make home ownership affordable for themselves.
Another strategy. These two strategies I really have put some thought into, and one is providing an incentive for people to pay down debt. Potential candidates would have to prove to the government that they've prepaid their mortgages beyond the minimum payment or have reduced their debt load significantly, by refinancing their high-interest debt into their mortgage and reducing their amortization, and would get a rebate of some sort.
Just to start somewhere, I thought that it could be somewhere between 1 percent and 10 percent of the contribution that they've made over and above the minimum. That could be contributed as a tax credit, and this could be tiered based on the amount the borrower has paid down. It also could be tiered based on their income level. There are many ways that we can contribute to this or look at a way that would be most suitable. This is just kind of opening up the drawing board.
This really is a win-win for borrowers and banks. It promotes good financial practice, discipline. It encourages further prudence in saving and rewards the smart decisions.
Another incentive that I thought would be beneficial for Canadians. I would like to see an initiative called the first-home account that children and parents can start when children are very young, anywhere from ten to 12, where every year the government would add a percentage or flat amount based on what's been contributed until they're 25. I believe that young Canadians today need every opportunity to begin to think of the practical needs that they'll have and understand the importance of financial prudence.
I kind of foresee the implementation of this being similar to the RESP program where there can be a match each year up to…. I know that the RESP program runs up to 20 percent with a maximum amount. This could be rolled out as a mandatory project in the school system, incorporated into a life skills program.
I have had the ability to see many of my nieces and nephews and see the programs that they have in school, and I just think if they had an opportunity and children were taught unbiasedly at the school level how time can really work for them by taking advantage of government initiatives such as this project, it would be something that they could really count on so that they could have home ownership. I know that home ownership is an important thing for everyone, and time will help contribute to that.
Now, the first-home account differs from an RESP, as an RESP is not contributed to until early childhood. Again, timing is the best thing a young student has working in their favour, as real estate prices in the short term may not have significant gains, but certainly, in the future we can expect that this will be a way to make it more affordable for young Canadians. Again, incorporating it into the school program at a very early level will make certain that Canadians have the best tools to move forward.
That's all I've put together for you today, a couple of ideas. I'd be happy to hear any questions that you might have.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Angela.
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D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Hi. A long time ago, which was nine o'clock this morning, we had a presentation from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. They talked about how supportive they were of the LiveSmart program in relation to home renovations. That allocation by government has been severely reduced for this year; I think it was by over 50 percent.
Would the — I don't know if I should say the association — people that you represent…? Would you be in favour of seeing funding for the LiveSmart program returned to previous levels, since you are also supportive of the home renovations tax credit?
A. Calla: Yes, I believe that would be…. I certainly saw a bigger increase in the home renovation tax credit being used, but any…. That's a step in the right direction.
J. Rustad: Thank you very much for your presentation. It was good to hear about sound financial discussions as part of a budget process.
I have one quick question with regards to the incentive for paying down debt. It's an intriguing idea. But how would you prevent somebody from perhaps borrowing more than they needed for a mortgage, taking out a higher mortgage than perhaps they would necessarily need to, so that they could pay it back down and get a tax credit with the extra funds? How would you stop that kind of a loophole and game from being played?
A. Calla: I think there certainly could be limits in respect to the income. There are several ways that you can combat that, and I think that, again, it could be all in the way it's designed to ensure that this is just rewarding smart decisions, and you couldn't have a re-advanceable mortgage.
When I had sent this out to some people in my industry, some of the comments were that that would be a good counterpart to the Smith manoeuvre, which is a manoeuvre where people incorporate all their debt, pay down their mortgage and then re-borrow to invest it. I think that you would have to put the limitation on it, and it would be that in each year there would have to be a gradual decrease in the mortgage for it to be suitable. You couldn't just go out, borrow more and then take advantage of the tax credit. It would have to be a progression down from the initial mortgage amount.
J. van Dongen: Thanks, Angela, for some interesting ideas.
Just a quick question. I'm curious: what percentage of your business or your clientele would be doing variable rate mortgages? I think that one of the vulnerabilities we have right now, when rates are at historic lows, is variable rate mortgages. I'm just curious what the breakdown is between fixed rate and variable rate loans.
A. Calla: I would have to say there's a good 60 percent in the last year that have considered a variable rate over the fixed rate. You know, the government has put in some great guidelines. People always have had to qualify at a higher rate, but now we're using the Bank of Canada rate.
As educators on financial prudence and making smart decisions, we always encourage people to make their payment as if it was based on the Bank of Canada qualifying rate. People who make smart decisions like that — this program, in essence, is kind of designed towards them, because they're making really smart decisions. They're taking control of their financial future. They're paying their mortgage down as fast as possible, and they're doing all the right things. I just think that that would, additionally, add incentive for people to do it.
When I put this program out in our industry, it seemed to get a lot of support. But I have to say that due to the level of prepayment that we're seeing with people that are taking variable rate mortgages, we do follow up with all of our clients in our office — about 6,000 of them — and help them manage their variable rate mortgage. With that being said, they all have much lower balances and have reduced and taken, on average, four to six years off of their mortgage just by taking advantage of this prudence.
I think that showing this as a B.C. initiative would be really forthcoming.
I notice you made a lot of highlights on your…. That's very good. Good to see.
J. Les (Chair): That's one of the things he does all the time.
Angela, what kind of amortization are people doing today on their mortgages?
A. Calla: People are generally taking a 35-year mortgage, and again, they're taking it as a tool. When you get a young homeowner, a young husband and wife that are buying their first home, they're generally planning on having children within the next three years. They're taking a variable rate mortgage. They're paying it as if it's a fixed. They're accelerating their amortization significantly, and then, when it comes time for one of the spouses being on maternity leave, they're using their mortgage as a tool to place their amortization back to where it's needed until they're back at work.
We find that the 35-year amortization is used more as a financial tool so they won't have to reborrow at a later point in time than taking it for qualification purposes. With interest rates as low as they are, when you compare interest rates today to where they were in 2007, you can take ten years off of your mortgage simply by paying it at the Bank of Canada qualifying rate. We're seeing a lot of people taking advantage of that.
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J. Les (Chair): Do a significant percentage of people have the kind of discipline that I think is almost inherent in the approach that you're advocating?
A. Calla: The approach that I advocate is absolutely what people such as myself, who are independent planners, really promote. We usually don't set a client up in a variable rate mortgage unless they're paying it as if it's a fixed rate. That's something that we do the day they sign the document.
We do not encourage…. I'd have to say that less than 10 percent of the clients who leave our office actually leave making only their minimum payment, because the easiest way to, again, make a smart decision and just have timing working for you and take advantage of these record-low rates is to start it from day one.
If they can qualify for it, they can afford it. It fits within the ratios, and there's no excuse why they shouldn't be making that prepayment, in my opinion. That's what we promote to all of our clients, and that's what we promote on the Mortgage Show on CKNW — Saturdays at seven.
N. Letnick: Some land economists would say that when you reduce the input costs of new housing, the developers actually pocket the difference, because they sell their housing at market rates. Just because you lower the costs doesn't mean they're going to lower their selling price, because the market is willing to pay whatever it is the market is willing to pay.
How do you counter that argument? How do you say, "Lower property transfer tax will make it cheaper," when land economists are saying it'll increase profit margins rather than pass it on to the homebuyer?
A. Calla: Personally, I would like to see more government input in the development side on how they can determine their pricing when there is a transition period. I notice that a lot of developers have had no choice, because the market will tell you and either pay the price, or it won't.
When we saw a rebalancing of the market in early 2009 my personal experience from purchasing residential real estate for rental purposes was that developers were extremely aggressive on their pricing, and you were able to negotiate several thousands of dollars off.
I think if you're considering increasing the property transfer tax limits, you could also hear that. Maybe it's not on new construction because, again, new construction is a choice. If you're concerned about developers pocketing extra money, you certainly could put a stipulation on that as well, or further regulate that with any additional input that developers are receiving, they have to pass that on to their clients.
You're like: "Yeah, right. We really want to do that. That sounds like more work."
N. Letnick: I get a question. You get an answer. That saves me.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Angela. A couple of fresh, new ideas are always welcome.
A. Calla: Great. I hope that you guys contact me to see how we can help with them.
J. Les (Chair): Our next presenter is Tracy Porteous from the Ending Violence Association of B.C. Good afternoon.
T. Porteous: Good afternoon. Nice to see you again.
Those of you who I've met before, and those of you I haven't had a chance to meet, it's a pleasure for me to be in front of you this afternoon.
My name is Tracy Porteous, and I'm the executive director of EVA, which is the Ending Violence Association of B.C. It's a provincial body that works on behalf of 240 anti-violence programs in the province which all focus on responding to sexual and domestic violence in our province.
As you probably know, international bodies such as the World Health Organization, Amnesty International and such have all identified that violence against women is one of the largest global health and human rights issues that women are facing across the globe today.
To help us understand the alarming rates, there is a fellow by the name of Brian Vallée who wrote a book in 2006 called The War on Women. What he told us was that between 2000 and 2006, 101 Canadian officers of the military, and police officers, lost their lives in the line of duty. In that same time period 500 Canadian women were either beaten or strangled or shot to death by their intimate partners. That's just here in Canada — 500 women.
According to the B.C. Coroners Service, in the last 15 years 153 people have lost their lives related to domestic violence. Of course, these numbers don't speak to the women from the Downtown Eastside that fell victim to Pickton or those that have gone missing or have been murdered on Highway 16 or what's happening in other communities.
In 2009 the Canadian association of native women wrote a report called Stolen Sisters. In that report they have documented that British Columbia is a leader in missing and murdered women. This is obviously a travesty that we must address without any more delay.
Every homicide…. Although there are many that are counted, there are many that are uncounted. For every assault that happens that doesn't result in death, there are many, many others that we also need to be dealing with.
In 2005, for instance, the police tell us, from police services, that domestic violence calls constitute 26 percent
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of all calls coming in to police departments across the province. That actually works out to over 11,000 domestic violence calls in B.C. in 2005. In that same year there were over 3,700 reports of sexual assaults that were made to the police in the province. That actually adds up to 15,000 reports to the police in 2005.
Those only constitute the reports to the police. If you actually look at the victimization reports…. There's a very credible national study that's done every four years by the federal government. This is the GSS survey on victimization.
They estimate that only 28 percent of all domestic violence occurrences are reported to the police, and only 8 percent of sexual assault occurrences are reported to the police. If we extrapolate from those numbers, there were more like 86,000 domestic and sexual assaults that happened in British Columbia in 2005.
In the September '09 budget update that happened last September, our Finance Minister — well, our Solicitor General at the time — almost struck quite a devastating blow to the existing anti-violence services in B.C. There was almost a cut of $1.2 million to those services.
What I want to leave you with here today is that we actually need more services and not less. We actually need more investments, not pulling back.
On that same budget day in 2009, in September, Minister Hansen said, and quite rightly, that there are public services that people can't do without; that no matter how difficult our fiscal situation, critical services must be protected. He said that when a forest fire threatens a community, there needs to be support; that when somebody needs emergency care, it's going to be there for them; and that when people fall on hard times, the provincial government is going to support them.
Our provincial body and the anti-violence programs across the province want to put out to our leaders: what constitutes more of an emergency than the growing number of women and children that are dying at the hands of domestic and sexual violence in our province? What is a greater tragedy than women being stabbed and beaten to death and sexually assaulted and left for dead? I'm sorry to be speaking so harshly, but those are the realities that too many women and children are dealing with in our province today.
Of course, responding to forest fires is something that we all need to deal with, but so too is a necessary response to the over 50,000 women and children that come to anti-violence programs each year asking for help. By not doing more, we're worried that we're sending the wrong message to women and kids about this important issue.
A lot of people ask, in terms of the economy over the last few years: "Don't we all need to tighten our belts? There are appropriate measures that need to be taken to restrain spending." We think it's a fair question, but there's also a large body of research that tells us that when societies are dealing with economic downturns, such as places where a mill has closed or where the only industry in town shuts down, violence against women increases.
Where communities are hit with forest fires and floods, violence against women increases. In communities where there's high gang activity, gang members aren't just killing other gang members. They're sexually assaulting their wives and their girlfriends, and they're beating them. In some cases those women are left for dead. We've seen many of them left in cars, stabbed and so forth, across the Lower Mainland.
We know — and I think all of you would agree with me — that there is a moral imperative that we do everything we possibly can to respond to violence against women and children. But I also want to share with you that there's a financial imperative. There's tons of research that shows us that it's better to invest at the front end than to wait and invest later, in the long end. Basically, there's kind of like an accepted framework of either pay now or pay much more later down the road.
There are connections between violence and drug and alcohol use, violence and health issues, violence and all kinds of other social and economic impacts. Not having adequate anti-violence services creates barriers and obstacles for women who are trying to leave. That then increases costs for government down the road, as the undealt-with initial costs of violence only escalate in terms of using drugs to cope, using alcohol to cope, needing more serious mental health interventions down the road.
Women who are not able to escape violent situations or who have inadequate supports also suffer long-term health, social and economic consequences, as do their children. There are a couple of studies that were done in 1995, one here in B.C. and one elsewhere. If we actually look at the numbers today, we can't compare — 1995 costs are very different from 2010 costs — but they actually help us begin to understand the economic impact of this social issue.
One of those studies helped us understand that if we are looking at the costs for criminal justice, social services, health and labour, it was about, in 1995, $4.2 billion across the country. Stats Canada in 2007 conceded and said that economically, the costs facing communities and governments across the country are in the billions of dollars.
The services that exist already in the province are not just saving lives. They're actually doing a lot more than that. They're preventing further violence, and therefore, what they're doing is acting as a key to breaking a multigenerational cycle. They're not just responding with a band-aid. They're actually looking to stop the cycle that happens.
There are about 240 specialized non-residential services for adult women trying to cope with violence. That
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may seem like a lot at first glance — 240 programs — but we need to understand that many of those programs have one staff. Some have a few more, but many of them have one, or some have a quarter-time staff or a half-time staff person.
As I'm sure you could imagine, for somebody being the only staff person responding to all sexual and domestic violence in a community and the surrounding geographical area, the quarter-time or half-time staff person is just not enough.
Much attention has been given to our police strength in the province, in bumping up and supporting our police out there, which is necessary. A lot of attention has also been given to the funding of shelters and transition houses — also necessary, also a critical service in the continuum of support for violence against women. But we have to make investments in some of the other supports as well.
In our view, the key to breaking the multigenerational cycle is connected with the crisis and ongoing counselling, the practical support, the advocacy, the outreach to marginalized women in communities, the education — coordinating all of these services and policy that supports all of that. So it's the continuum that is breaking the cycle, not any one — especially the very, very front-end intervention.
I'll just give you a very small case example about police strength. There are about 6,000-ish police officers in our province today, but we know that the police don't just deal with violence against women. They have many other responsibilities.
About a quarter of the calls coming into all police departments are related to domestic violence. If we divided the 6,000 police officers by four and just imagined for a minute that we had 1,500 police officers solely dedicated to domestic violence, that would equate to one police officer for every 57 cases. If we use the same math for the anti-violence programs, we would be looking at more like one program to every 358 cases. And that's not equating for the quarter-time or the half-time programs.
There are 62 specialized community-based victim assistance programs that have the mandate to respond to the immediate crisis response and assist somebody going to the hospital, going to the police and so forth. Because there are only 62 of those programs, many communities are desperate to have one of these programs. If we did the math for those programs and the numbers of cases of sexual and domestic violence, we'd be looking at one worker for every 380 cases.
These programs have enormous caseloads. They have enormous wait-lists. In addition to that, there is a very serious gap in services in this area in the province. That is, there are no services for young women under 18 who are dealing with the beginnings of domestic violence or sexual assault or sexual violence in their lives.
The largest group for these kinds of crimes is girls 14 to 24. Many of them are at the beginning of what becomes a life of domestic violence. Many of them have their first intimate experience as one of sexual assault. We know there are volumes of research that connect that with smoking, drug use and choices that cause somebody to be at higher risk throughout their lifetime.
It's important to acknowledge and to extend that these programs that exist appreciate the support immeasurably that they receive from government. I don't want to negate that, because the 240 non-residential programs are life-saving and they're critical.
What I'm wanting to impart to you today is that there's been increasing in policing and increasing in residential services, but there hasn't been the same kind of look at the counselling and the outreach and the community-based victim services. Because those programs are doing everything they can, like having bake sales and telemarketing and so forth, we come to you with the hope that you will be considering the long-term financial and economic impact on our province if we don't intervene at the front end.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you, Tracy.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): By the way, Michelle Mungall says hi. She is unable to be here this afternoon, but she wanted to pass that along.
The question I had was on…. We've only been hearing witnesses here for a couple of days, but we have heard quite a bit about legal aid funding. I would like you to elaborate a little bit on the impact that the lack of legal aid for family court has on domestic violence and violence against women.
T. Porteous: Yeah, it's a very good question, and it's a critical question. Almost every woman who is dealing with violence in her relationship…. Not every woman leaves, but usually at some point in the process there is an attempt to leave, and there's an attempt to leave with her kids so that she doesn't give up her kids in the process.
In 2002 there was a $40 million cut to legal aid that wholly impacted women who were experiencing violence, who suddenly were facing a situation where they weren't being provided with the same kind of supports from the system — to have a lawyer, to argue custody and access, to gain civil restraining orders and to do property settlements and so forth.
What we were hearing from anti-violence programs in 2002, when those cuts first happened, and we continue to hear today…. Even though legal aid has been trying to prioritize violence in terms of some of their tariff hours, what we're hearing from anti-violence workers across the province is that a lot of women are choosing
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to stay in violent and dangerous relationships because they're afraid they're going to lose their kids.
Or women are leaving, but they don't have legal support, so they're leaving without their kids. For any of you that are lawyers, you know that's a big mistake, because if you leave them behind, it's very hard to get them back. The lack of investment in legal aid is putting women and children at higher risk.
J. Thornthwaite: Thank you for your presentation. Just two questions. What are your asks? I gather that you're asking us to focus more on the administrative end of it, the crisis counselling, coordinated service — in other words, a person to be on the other end of the phone. Then the second question is: is your association involved with anything in informing and helping to educate the police when they are the front-line sort of face to the first time somebody is a victim of domestic abuse?
T. Porteous: Great questions. Our ask is that the provincial treasury look to increase supports. I wouldn't call it administrative support. I would call it counselling, outreach, community-based victim services. Those are the areas that have been sort of left with really not much increase over the last two decades. There are huge waiting lists for those supports, and they can make the difference in somebody ending a cycle that's been going on for generations or not. That's one question.
The next is yes, we work very closely with the police. We actually have a provincial program called community coordination for women's safety, and that has an advisory council that has the most senior RCMP and municipal police from the B.C. chiefs of police sitting at the table. What we're trying to do at the provincial level, and also in supporting communities across the province, is to ensure that they coordinate their services with police and work together with police.
Where there are opportunities to educate police…. For example, we've been invited to some meetings of the district commanders and officers in charge of the RCMP to talk to them about this kind of growing problem of women being arrested who themselves are victims of abuse. The police arrive at a scene, and it might be confusing, so either she gets arrested or they both get arrested. That's really not the kind of response that we want.
On many fronts we're working quite closely with the police. I think there needs to be more education. There needs to be…. Well, I could have a few things to say about the 20-year contract that's being negotiated with the RCMP, which we have great concerns about. That might be a conversation for another day with another committee.
I think the police are one of our closest partners. We also have to look to them to be as accountable as we look to the non-profit services that we fund.
B. Ralston: Just to follow along with working with the police. I think that over maybe the last ten or 15 years, with the new generation of police officers, there has been much more effective training and awareness of those issues. But there was a project — I think it was called a pilot project — in Langley which saw police, prosecutors and support workers working together. I gather that's been discontinued, for reasons that I'm not entirely sure of. Perhaps you could comment on if you're aware of that program. And what was its effectiveness?
T. Porteous: Well, the first thing I might want to say is that, included in the 20-year contract negotiations, I think we need to take a closer look at what training the RCMP are getting in Regina, if we are to continue with the RCMP. I've asked to see it. It hasn't been forthcoming. I understand that it's about an hour.
If 25 percent of the calls coming in to police departments relate to domestic violence alone — that's not even talking about child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, historical sexual abuse — an hour is woefully not enough.
I think that we need to not make some assumptions about the better training that police are getting. I think that's a new generation of officers, for sure. But if we're going to be asking police officers, as we do Crown counsel and child protection officers, to take on roles where sometimes they're making decisions about life and death, we need to make sure that they have the training in order to do their jobs.
Thus far in the province we haven't had across-the-board training on risk assessment and safety planning and so forth. We've just gone there with the police in terms of their on-line training, but we haven't got there with Crown and the others.
Now, with respect to the Langley pilot, we don't understand why we wouldn't see more investment within our Crown, the criminal justice branch. We used to have a domestic violence resource counsel — one person for the entire province. She was the prosecutor that was involved in the Langley pilot. She was available as a resource for all the other Crown in the province to call.
These are complicated cases. It's not initially clear. My heart goes out to the prosecutors and all of the responders that responded to the Oak Bay tragedy, where Sunny Park and her family were killed and then Peter Lee killed himself. A lot has been analyzed about that situation. We need to make sure the people that are in these jobs have the supports. I think that we're all struggling with what to do, but there needs to be….
I think there have been a lot of recommendations made and not much movement. The Langley pilot is one that could be duplicated and replicated across the province in many other communities. We would certainly support it. We've looked at it very closely. The people that started it are on this provincial advisory board we
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have that's part of community coordination for women's safety.
Communities are clamouring for more resources so that they can have a specialized response to a highly specialized problem.
J. Les (Chair): You've piqued my curiosity just a little bit on the extension of the RCMP contract. Maybe give us two or three minutes on that while you're here. I think it'd be useful and valuable.
T. Porteous: We've all seen and heard the report that the Vancouver police department issued a few weeks ago. Doug LePard is a close colleague, and I think he really did a good deed by being able to come forward and be honest with all of us in the community and with the families of many of those women that have gone missing or who were murdered by saying that there is sometimes a problem. There's a problem in resources. There's a problem with coordination and so forth.
We've been dealing with some very, I think — as a non–police person, I'll just put it bluntly — ridiculous kinds of bureaucracy, where we have the RCMP agreeing to something such as more seamless referral to community-based victim services, which has the responsibility to deal with domestic and sexual violence, but the policies in Ottawa won't allow it.
I think that it's a big organization. It's a national organization. We have specific E division policy, but when you're trying to work with so many levels of bureaucracy and one that exists in Ottawa….And not all victim services and responses to domestic and sexual violence are the same in every province. B.C. is set up in a very unique way, and therefore, we need very unique solutions and policy that guides us.
I think that if you talk to some of the RCMP officers themselves, they would probably express similar frustrations, where they're ready to do something, but they can't get the approval from the Privacy Commissioner, or they can't get the approval from Ottawa.
I don't know who, except for police, would be getting a 20-year contract. Maybe there might be an opportunity for five-year contracts that….
T. Porteous: I think the province should be taking this opportunity to ask a lot of questions and build in some accountability measures. For example, one of the things that we were talking about with head fellows in the policy division in the criminal operations division at E division is that perhaps every detachment should be audited to make sure that they're handling domestic violence cases appropriately. That was considered. I don't know where that's at.
In a nutshell, I think that I'd like to see some kind of opportunity that we and other people that serve women who so often don't make it…. Sometimes it's because the response falls down, whether it be because a woman wasn't referred to the appropriate program or there wasn't enough coordination or people aren't sharing information. All of these things are issues that we've been putting forward for 20 years. We've been making recommendations for 20 years.
I would really like to see, before a deal is struck to enter another 20-year contract, perhaps the deputy sit down with a few of us. I mean, we're not in a position to negotiate, but this issue about not being able to see what training the RCMP gets in Regina, not being able to impact on the referrals that they make, not seeing much movement on the fact that there's this growing trend across the province where women who are victims of domestic violence are being arrested by mistake….
The police in B.C. have a very progressive violence-in-relationships policy. In it there's a subsection called primary aggressor. Now, there are so many retired police officers — in the last five years over 50 percent of the police officers on the road. Those of you who used to be our Solicitor General will know this. There's been a big turnover in terms of the retiring numbers.
We're one of the few provinces that accept new recruits from Regina, and there's something missing around them not getting instructed on the B.C. policies, because we're seeing a lot of women arrested where there was no primary aggressor assessment done, where there was no investigation as to the history of violence, who's really victimized here and so forth.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. That excited a couple more questions.
B. Ralston: Your comment about audit. Are you aware of whether the Auditor General of Canada has ever done any performance audits on these topics on any RCMP detachment in any of their provincial jurisdictions?
T. Porteous: I'm not aware. I wish I was.
B. Routley: I'd be interested in your comments. I met recently with Cowichan Valley Men's Resource Centre, and they pointed out that there weren't a lot of resources, also, for men's groups. Being as how a lot of these activities that are totally unacceptable are happening and they're men, one of the primary focuses ought to be on the causes of violence, whether it's anger management or…. A lot of them are reoffenders. If both men and women had the opportunity, early on in a relationship….
We had a family assistance program that I was part of when I represented forest workers, and they also had high numbers when there was a logging camp closure or mill closure. There was drug and alcohol, but also the vio-
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lence. It really bugs me that there isn't kind of a proactive approach to dealing with the problem and certainly to dealing with people at the early stages, especially when there seem to be so many missed opportunities along the way, where something happens and there's no place to send these folks to have some kind of training or to deal with anger management kinds of….
I wonder if you promote those kinds of activities — because you're dealing with the tragedy of what happens when there has been just an absolute failure and there's no training — and whether there should be some kind of training in the classroom.
I'm astonished that we have almost nothing in…. There are so many things in the education system that I think the education system fails on — for example, basic first-aid training, kids that go to school and don't learn a blessed thing about how to deal with an emergency that they could confront on their way home or violent situations. Why isn't that taught in the classroom?
T. Porteous: If I had had more than ten minutes to present, I would have commented on exactly what you're talking about. If you look at the jury recommendations in the Lee inquest and you look at the B.C. coroner's death review panel and many other reports, they call for more training for all of the responders. They also call for services for offenders.
It was woefully inadequate, but we used to have services for offenders that are called voluntary men — non-court-mandated men, men at the front end. Those were all cut in 2002. I think we need to take a serious look at investing across the board, because I think that you're right. Often when somebody is arrested, it's one of those moments of time where risk increases.
Sherry Heron is a perfect example. Bryan Heron, who was a correctional officer in Mission, was served papers of her wanting a civil restraining order. Well, that made him really mad. He owned a firearm that he had for work, and he left work and went to the hospital where she was and shot her and shot her mom.
When these times of increased risk happen, we need to manage these guys. We need to provide them with some management. It's not anger management. I think we often use that as a colloquial sort of term, because I think most of these men don't have anger problems. They're not beating everybody up. Their behaviour is very targeted and very calculated. But needless to say, they need help.
I think that it's safe to say that for men to be abusing and beating and threatening to kill their partners, these must be the lowest times of their lives, and we need to also provide them with some interventions and some management. Really, our system has nothing of that right now.
The correctional system is trying to do its best by having probation officers manage offenders, but really, there's only time for them to manage the most high-risk. But who's assessing the risk? If we don't have training for police officers and victim services and Crown and child protection, then we have huge holes in our social service safety net.
There's a ton that we have left to do. Unfortunately, I know that you're often in a position of having to say to people like me: "Well, are there solutions that don't require money?" Believe me, we and others, working together with a multi-coordinated system, a cross-sectoral system, have done everything that we can to try to maximize what we have to make sure that every community has a very tightly weaved safety net. But at the end of the day, there's money missing. There are investments that need to be made in order to really increase safety.
J. Les (Chair): Okay, Tracy. I guess we'll have to leave it there. We're out of time, twice over.
T. Porteous: Okay. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.
J. Les (Chair): Our next presenter is Vanessa Brown.
V. Brown: Thanks for having me here today. My name is Vanessa Brown, and I'm an arts student at Emily Carr. I am here to talk about my disappointment in the B.C. government's lack of support for the arts.
In preparing for this presentation, I had originally hoped that I'd be able to speak on behalf of the arts communities in B.C. However, I quickly realized both the political problematics as well as the literal impossibility of trying to speak for a community whose vastness, variance and interests stretch far beyond what one person can hope to encapsulate. So instead, I'm here to speak from a perspective that is deeply my own, and though limited in this way, I desire to draw a connection between my lived individual experience and the social, economic and political world that spans beyond me.
Before attending arts school, I worked as a social worker, first in mental health and then later in the hospital system. What drew me to social work was a feeling of duty to others beyond my immediate circles, a concern for social welfare, an enjoyment of being humbled by what I don't know and a love for connecting meaningfully with people during times of trial.
Nothing of that has changed since I began attending art school. My desire to produce art and consume artist culture stems from a desire to step into a world that connects me with other artists and with the community at large and to have a profound and participative relationship with world cultural history. Ultimately, art is the means through which I'm inspired, and it is the medium through which I attempt to inspire others.
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I'd like to paint a picture for you of what the current climate for art and artists is like in Vancouver, having to face 53 percent in overall cuts. Then I'd like to suggest an alternative for how it could be.
The importance of local artist-run centres — such as VIVO, Artspeak, Access, Malaspina Printmakers, the Western Front, the Helen Pitt, Centre A, W2, Gallery Gachet and the Orr Gallery — is huge insofar as they generate and promote creativity, education, reflection, enrichment, diversity, cross-cultural dialogue and debate locally. Many of these galleries, aside from showcasing local artists, bring in international talent and provide outreach programs.
The impact of the funding cuts on these spaces has been devastating. Art students like myself — who care about making work that engages the public; challenges our social mores; and provides a starting point for theoretical, aesthetic and cultural exchange — don't go from showing their work at the Emily Carr Graduation Exhibition show to showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery or at the Tate in Britain or at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They begin by exhibiting their work in local artist-run centres.
It is from these places that emerging artists get noticed and taken up by international galleries and museums. Young, internationally known contemporary artists such as Geoffrey Farmer and Brian Jungen were art students at Emily Carr who began their careers by exhibiting at local galleries such as the Orr Gallery.
Most of the artists who work at these organizations are well-educated, innovative and extremely resourceful people. There is a reason why every dollar of the B.C. government's spending on the arts produces $1.36 directly into the provincial treasury. What is more is that many of these people are so dedicated that they work beyond their paid hours in order to fulfil their workload and ensure good programming. This is before the funding cuts.
I know people who are continuing to work Monday to Friday beyond nine-to-five hours and who are only being paid 2.5 days of their week. The kind of strain has caused workers to leave not just the organization but the province altogether.
An example after I'd signed up to do this. It was Swarm in Vancouver, where all the artist-run centres were opening up their doors. I remember going to one place, and one of the men who works there was there. It was a Thursday night. It was 1:30 a.m., and he was running the bar, and he works there all the time anyway. He's got a one-year-old daughter.
I ordered a beer from him, and he started laughing. He said: "Oh, look at the tips. This is more than I make in a day." Not a dollar of that went to his family or went home with him. He said that the artist-run centre needed it more for their programming, so he didn't take home any of that, and that's, like, 1:30 a.m. on a Thursday, and he's a young father. So it kind of blows my mind.
Right now the largest subsidy for the arts sector comes from itself. When arts organizations can't make ends meet, as has been the case this last year, the result is a reduction or cancellation of their exhibitions and outreach programs. If the impact of the funding cuts has been this significant in the arts in Vancouver, I cannot imagine the impact it has had on museums, galleries and other cultural and outreach programs in smaller towns around the province.
This is what I would like to see. I would like the B.C. government to support stable, arm's-length arts funding. I think that the arts legacy fund should be allocated to the B.C. Arts Council and that gaming funds should revisit their eligibility requirements so that arts and cultural organizations, community-based and professional alike, can benefit as they have in the past.
I would like the B.C. government to raise per-capita spending on the arts, as we are far behind the other provinces in this matter. Economically, supporting the arts generates more money than it takes. It stimulates small businesses such as local bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
Supporting the arts means supporting people who work locally as signmakers, ticket holders, hairdressers, light manufacturers, computer technicians, engineers, lighters and so on.
On a social level the arts provide one of the best avenues for community outreach. It is through outreach programs where disenfranchised members of our communities can voice their thoughts, experiences and dreams. Places like W2, Gallery Gachet and VIVO not only offer cultural access to marginalized people; they offer the tools for people to become culture-makers themselves.
Art and culture is the product of a flourishing society, and it is also what feeds it. Support from the government offers acknowledgment to the public of the intrinsic value of art, cultural exchange and reflection.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you, Vanessa. Any questions of anyone?
Thank you very much for coming. We appreciate it.
Our next presenters are from the Kwantlen Faculty Association. We have Joel Murray and Bob Davis — and Phillip Legg again.
P. Legg: Glad to see you again.
J. Les (Chair): Yes, likewise. It's been a long time.
J. Murray: Good afternoon, and welcome to Surrey. My name is Joel Murray, and I'm on the executive of the Kwantlen Faculty Association as the member-at-large. In addition to representing the KFA, I'm an instructor at Kwantlen, where I've been employed for more than
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ten years. I teach ESL — English as a second language — courses.
The KFA's 800 members work at the four different campuses of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, located in Surrey, Richmond and Langley.
We're glad that the committee made the decision to come to Surrey and gather public input directly from citizens and organizations in this community. We thank you for the opportunity to share our faculty association's views on what should be the priorities for the February 2011 provincial budget.
Before outlining those priorities let me give you a brief overview of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Established by the government of British Columbia in 1981, Kwantlen was first known as a community college, then a university college and now Kwantlen Polytechnic University. We have four campuses located south of the Fraser — in Richmond, Surrey and Langley.
Kwantlen offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations in over 135 programs. Equally as important, we also provide over 25 services to help students with their studies. We're home to about 17,000 students, drawn mostly from the region south of the Fraser but not exclusively so.
As a special purpose teaching university, Kwantlen's mission is, to quote Kwantlen's mission and mandate statement, to "offer all learners, regardless of background and preparation, opportunities to achieve the highest standards of academic performance." In order to do so, Kwantlen provides students with a broad range of post-secondary options.
We work closely with community partners to ensure that the programs we offer reflect the needs of students in the broader communities in which we operate. In addition to our bachelor's degree programs and university courses, we have an extensive trades and technology program which is concentrated at our Cloverdale Campus. We offer an adult special education program and an English-as-a-second-language program. And finally, we provide developmental education programs for adult learners who are returning to a post-secondary institution to upgrade their skills, complete their high school education or secure the necessary prerequisites to enter new programs or career options.
The good news this fall is that, like many other public post-secondary institutions in B.C., Kwantlen is seeing an increase in enrolments. The increase is approximately 5 percent and is ahead of what is estimated to be the enrolment target for this year. The encouraging part of this development is that students are recognizing that their world is changing and that to keep pace with that change, they need some form of post-secondary education.
That perception is a good one to have, because all the evidence suggests that post-secondary education is a wise investment. It makes sense for the student because that education can become the platform to not only a new career and greater mobility in the job market but also a greater sense of engagement in the community. It also makes a lot of sense for the public treasury that funds a significant portion of this education.
The new skills, the greater mobility — both have a positive impact on an individual's income over their entire working life. That positive impact is also reflected in high tax revenues to the public treasury. Both types of returns — to the individual and to government — are well documented and have been presented to this committee by post-secondary education advocates in previous years.
The challenge we face currently, however, is that despite the evidence that supports increasing the investment in post-secondary education, B.C.'s public institutions find that their operating grants from the provincial government are failing to keep pace with the demands in the various communities in which we operate. Previous presenters have stressed the importance of measuring the level of public funding support in post-secondary education by looking at operating grants in inflation-adjusted dollars relative to the number of students we have.
Kwantlen is suffering the same funding crunch that we see across the entire public post-secondary education system. This year we will receive less funding per full-time-equivalent student than we did last year. That decrease doesn't take into account the cost pressures of inflation, but the real crunch for our institutions comes from the fact that what the ministry budgets in terms of enrolment is well short of what we are experiencing in our institution.
For this fiscal year, for example, our enrolment figures are approximately 10,500 FTEs versus a ministry-budgeted FTE of about 9,100. What that shortfall means is that the institution has to find other ways to make ends meet. How that plays out will vary from department to department, but there are some common threads through it all, the most glaring impact just being on the affordability of a post-secondary education.
Skyrocketing tuition fees may have become a new revenue source for post-secondary institutions, but it has simply shouldered students with more debt and less access. The funding crunch has also meant that student support services have been scaled back dramatically. The problem with doing that, of course, is that students have a much harder time sorting through the courses they might need to graduate or the various career options that they should consider.
The do-more-with-less problem also means wait-lists for students who want to access the course or program they need or have an interest in completing. That translates into students taking longer to graduate and, unfortunately, taking on more debt as they work their way toward graduation.
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In one of our program areas, adult basic education or ABE, the funding crunch means that adult learners who are taking the initiative to return to school and upgrade their skills are being stymied by the lack of proper funding in their area.
It is particularly frustrating for Kwantlen, because the funding formula used to finance ABE programs produces uneven results when you compare various public post-secondary institutions across the region. Kwantlen, for example, services a much larger population base but has anywhere from a third to a half of the FTEs for ABE programs as is the case for institutions such as Douglas College or Capilano University.
Allow me a moment to relate how this lack of proper funding affects real people, the students. One of my colleagues who teaches ABE courses tells me that Kwantlen is, for the first time ever, facing a shortfall in the adult basic education student assistance program, otherwise known as ABESAP. She tells me that we are apparently $300,000 over budget for ABESAP, and we've been told that we're not going to receive any more funds. The decision was made to prioritize paying tuition and student fees and to disallow funding for transportation and books.
The result of this decision is that we have one student who is now forced to walk from the vicinity of King George Highway and 96 Avenue to the Surrey campus to come to school. That's a distance of seven kilometres one way. We have other students who are now walking similarly long distances to come to school.
These students have expressed their dismay with this outcome, as they have planned their lives and made sacrifices just to come to Kwantlen. Being disallowed from having access to transportation reduces their ability to access their education. Because of this decision to disallow ABE students use of ABESAP funds, they may end up losing their chance for education.
The ABE problem is also frustrating, because it is through ABE that we are truly able to open doors to learners in our communities. These are the adults who gain the most when they are able to complete these programs. They are also the adults who require more individual attention to achieve the learning outcomes that will benefit them in the long run.
The funding crunch is by no means limited to our degree and certificate program areas. Our trades departments continue to struggle with a funding arrangement controlled by the Industry Training Authority.
The ITA and the public post-secondary institutions that deliver over 90 percent of the trades trainings in B.C. have had a difficult relationship over the years. The fact that the ITA now reports to the Ministry of Advanced Education is an improvement, but there are still serious gaps in the level of trades training that the ITA will support through their funding arrangements with post-secondary institutions. As a result, some of our trades programs have to cope with less-than-adequate technology, a problem that only serves to undermine the quality and relevance of the skills that apprentices in those programs are able to acquire and that employers expect.
The trades also suffer from a serious gender gap. Women are under-represented in most of the trades. The most effective way to correct that problem is to have more targeted funding available, either directly from the ITA or from the ministry, that will encourage and support more women in trades and apprenticeship programs. Under the existing arrangement that funding is not forthcoming, and as a result, women are being effectively excluded from career options that would be valuable to them and to the province as a whole.
One final point, and that has to do with a change that was made to Kwantlen in 2008. The provincial government announced that five existing public post-secondary institutions would be made special purpose teaching universities. Although it was a welcome change for Kwantlen, there was no additional funding at the time to cover the costs of becoming a new university.
The frustration for our institution is that the announced change in our status raises all sorts of questions about the rationale for making the change in the first place. Kwantlen is still facing the same funding challenges as we did when we were a university college. The message from the 2008 announcement seems to be that we can change our letterhead, but everything else stays the same.
In conclusion, our faculty association asks that the committee's final report advise the Minister of Finance to do the following:
(1) Make a long-term commitment to increase real per-student operating grants to public post-secondary institutions. At the very least the minister's target should be to increase real per-student operating grants to the level that they were when his party took office in 2001.
(2) Address the affordability problems that today's students face by expanding student support services and restoring the student grant program.
(3) Target and support the needs of adult learners by funding an expansion of ABE programs and support services in public post-secondary institutions.
(4) Ensure sufficient funding for trades training for all who wish to access foundation programs or apprenticeship programs.
(5) Evaluate the current funding formula for all public post-secondary institutions to eliminate inequities within the existing system and ensure that future funding is not eroded by inflation.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today, and I will take any questions you might have.
J. Les (Chair): We have two questions.
D. McRae: Thank you, Mr. Murray.
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Earlier in the presentation you mentioned that Kwantlen has 10,700 students enrolled this year, and the ministry budgeted.... I didn't quite catch the number.
J. Murray: It was 9,100.
D. McRae: My question is: with the 1,600-student difference there, is that a decision that a college or a university college makes as it goes forward to accommodate those extra students, or is that something that they are obligated to do?
J. Murray: First of all, they may not be individual students. These are full-time-equivalents, so the actual number of students could be much greater. That's one thing.
As far as accessibility, at Kwantlen our mandate is to be accessible.
Phil, would you like to…?
P. Legg: Is there a hard ceiling? No. The institution tries to take all who want to come to it, up to a certain point. There are physical and faculty limits to how much they can do that. An awful lot of that is captured in terms of a wait-list. People tend to shuffle into courses as part of a holding pattern as they wait for the opportunity to get into the program that they really want to take.
J. Rustad: Thank you very much for your presentation. There's no question that with the potential growth that we have in B.C. and in our economy, we are going to need a skilled workforce. We are going to need the graduates that facilities like yours produce.
I just want to thank you as the faculty for doing the work that you do. It is important for building our province.
I do have one question that I have to ask. As part of the Finance Committee, of course, we hear presentations around the need for additional financing for post-secondary education. You know, I have to ask the question because part of our job is to try to balance what we do as a province and how we balance our books. That is, if there is more money that goes to someplace, that means there's less money for somewhere else or that we have to raise the additional revenues.
The paper that's come forward says we are at about $2.1 billion in additional revenues over the next three years. I know you haven't set a number in terms of what you need in additional money, but I'm wondering if you have an idea of what you think we need to put into post-secondary education and how we balance those needs in terms of our overall budget.
P. Legg: Just to give you a hard number, to bring real per-student operating grant levels to 2001 levels would take about an additional $200 million in operating grants to public post-secondary institutions. That's the price tag, if you will, on that side of it. That funds the opening up of the system in terms of programs and availability.
The other side to that is looking at the whole question of what it's costing students to participate in post-secondary. Currently there's, I think, $1.1 billion in tuition fee revenues that are generated from students in the post-secondary system. Prior to 2001 there was something like $300 million to $400 million in tuition fee revenues. Clearly, students have been paying disproportionately more to finance the system since 2001.
B. Ralston: Mary Jane Stenberg was in this morning with some people from SFU. I think we got that picture a bit from that perspective, but can you tell me how many of your members are teaching students who see themselves as destined for the traditional university transfer program, and what percentage teaches the other part of the dual-purpose university: the students in advanced basic education, trades and technical training?
What's the mix there? Is there any disparity in funding or treatment of students who select for one or the other of those streams?
J. Murray: I'd have to say that's a pretty difficult question to answer, Kwantlen being a polytechnic. I don't actually have numbers at my fingers to tell you how many, for example, faculty FTEs are in any one area.
P. Legg: Possibly rephrase it in terms of numbers of students — out of the 17,000, for example — even rough guesstimates.
B. Ralston: If you can't answer now, perhaps it's something that you could get back to us on.
J. Les (Chair): Yeah, you can always follow up. Just send it in if you've got the information at some point.
B. Ralston: I think it just gives us a better sense. I think there is a unique composition to your student population and the kinds of services that you deliver, which are a little bit broader across the spectrum than traditionally thought of university transfer programs. I think that's a value-added part of that institution, and I think it serves this part of the region very well. I think it's worth talking about a bit more.
B. Davis: If I may, I think it's a very interesting question. You look at the structure of Kwantlen. We were talking about the post-secondary system overall, but when you talk specifically about Kwantlen in this region, with the four campuses and the offerings and the 135-plus programs we have, and then how we've evolved from a college to a university college, now a polytechnic
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university, in this specific information, in the mandate of what a special purpose teaching university does, and particularly Kwantlen…. We'll get that information for you.
J. Les (Chair): Thanks for coming this afternoon. We appreciate your input.
The next presentation is from the Fraserside Community Services Society. Caroline Bonesky is here.
C. Bonesky: Hon. members of the committee, my name is Caroline Bonesky. I'm the executive director of Fraserside Community Services. We've been providing a multi-range of services in New West, Burnaby, Tri-Cities, Surrey and Delta for about the past 38 years.
Our services cover a range of services for people with developmental disabilities, mental health, addictions and unemployment. As well, we operate a number of social housing initiatives as well as two emergency shelters.
I'm also the chair of the United Community Services Co-op board, which is the chair of not-for-profits focused on the business of being a not-for-profit.
I'm here today to propose a change in fiscal policy that would allow individual citizens, philanthropists and businesses to invest in innovation in the social service sector, which is under significant stress due to antiquated funding structures, increasing demand and increasing reliance on government funding. It will likely continue to decrease as taxpayers meet the growing needs of health and education. I think that's a bit of a reality in our province right now.
There are several pressures on the non-government organizations to expand our capacity, contain our costs, drive innovation and ensure that the tax dollars that we contract for are wisely spent.
The reality of the globally funded contracts — grants, donations…. That world is quickly changing, so we need new financial tools in order to meet the changing expectations. With the revenues dropping and expenses rising, we need to realize our potential as economic actors in the spectrum in our communities in addition to the social benefits that we all bring in our service delivery and the work that we do in our community.
I think it's understood that the challenges facing our communities — which include increased homelessness, poverty, social isolation — cannot be addressed by the government funding. It could also be suggested that government cannot and should not be responsible for providing all the financial resources to tackle these complex issues.
I am here as an executive director, so I am not seeking a reduction in any funding that we currently receive, nor am I asking the government to reduce its legislative or policy responsibilities for those in need of support to be contributing members. But I am here to say that I think it's important for the government to consider a financial framework that would encourage investment in the social service sector.
Four years ago I presented to the Finance Committee about the idea of a bond. Today I am back to present you with a similar idea, but I have more information and one about an idea that's been tested in other jurisdictions.
Social financing — and in particular, the social impact bond — has been implemented in the United Kingdom, in the European Union and, as well, in the United States. The idea is to finance innovation, to combine both funding and financing instruments to leverage private investment in social service delivery and to share risk and the risk management that comes into the root of these programs.
It was conceived in the United Kingdom. It's a financing arrangement whereby there's an investment in improved social outcomes. So we're already saying that we think we can improve the social outcomes. In return, people invest in their community or their community partner. They provide the financing.
There's an agreement reached with government where projected savings that are targeted and measurable are then saved. So of the 100 percent savings, for example, 50 percent could go to government, and 50 percent goes back to the community organization that implemented the change. That 50 percent revenue, as part of the project funding — part of that goes back to give a return to the financial investors.
Their return might be lower. It might be more patient capital. But they get a return on their investment as well as the social benefit return. The nice thing is that it specifies success criteria, it targets particular populations, there's a payment schedule, and investors receive success-based payments. They don't get paid unless there is a financial return on it as a successful outcome.
A specific example in the United Kingdom refers to repeat offenders. Of the 40,200 adults leaving prison every year, over two years 73 percent of them would reoffend, and that was driving long-term costs to the criminal justice system as well as being quite a high burden on the prison system, which is fairly expensive to operate.
The West Midlands region connect program delivered a drop in that reoffending rate of 17 percent over a two-year period. It was measured, and on that basis Social Finance in the U.K. estimated that if you put it out across the counties in England, the cost savings would be about £900 million over five years. So investments in projects that look at specific outcomes can actually have fairly significant returns to both the social service sector and to government.
But what happens to public policy if a financial policy needs to expand to provide a legislative and regulatory framework that will create incentives for investors to
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participate? Currently you can get a tax credit if you invest in shares in innovation — there's a tax act, and I'm just blanking — but you can get it for investing in shares and in innovative or new companies — startup companies, small capital.
What we're saying is that we should look at the creation of some kind of tax credit or tax rebate for investing, actually, in debt instruments such as bonds that people could issue and where there would be a tax credit back to the investors. The current legislation does limit that it has be an equity investment such as shares, not a debt instrument.
The issue, I think, is timely in British Columbia and across Canada. The current review that's going on in terms of the Society Act is kind of playing with the notion of shareholders. Is that the way to go? There's recognition that in fact not-for-profits need a different way of acquiring revenue.
A social impact bond provides an incentive to save money in the long term, which I think is what we're looking for in many of our social service systems. I believe it's probably a necessary requirement to sustain our existing publicly funded health care system. It has also the potential to drive an agenda of multisectoral involvement in the solution, in the social delivery system, which I think is a key piece of getting other people involved — other people who are interested in living in healthy and vibrant communities.
The potential impact for us as non-profit social service providers is that we will get that boost, potentially, to focus some energy, some resources on innovation, research and development. Every other sector understands that if you don't invest, you're not going to improve. In current funding there's no research and development line that we can put in, and it's hard for people who want to contribute to not-for-profits. They tend to want to know that it's going to buy X number of meals or that it's going to buy X number of counselling hours. It's hard to sell research and development in our sector.
The second for us is that we can actually engage with community partners as investors in innovation, which changes the whole spectrum of how we relate in our relationships, from being an organization that seeks handouts for an ever-increasing demand that never seems to have an impact to people who are saying: "We want to talk to you and be in a relationship with you around success-driven innovation." It's a different relationship for us.
I would propose that there are certain costs to maintaining the current status quo. Hospital spending is going up, education spending is going up, and eventually, I think we'll project that we'll be bankrupt. That's probably not the way we want to go. I think the issue is that this social financing, this investment in innovation, requires a long-term vision to recoup the savings. It's not going to happen in a fiscal year; it's not going to happen in our current budget year.
We need to also look at how we manage our contracting environment in the province. Say that you could invest in a contractual agreement with a not-for-profit that would say that the savings reaped in three years you would then pay back 50 percent, based on a contract that you engaged in now.
I'm not sure that the financial and budgetary legislation actually allows for carryover and all those complicated things that occur with financial budgeting, but I think that that's part of the framework we need to look at. We need to focus on cost-cutting today to some extent, but we also need to invest in the future. We talk about British Columbia being the best place to be, and I think we need to invest in our communities to ensure that that will occur.
I also believe there is equity that's untouched. Citizens do actually want to participate. A lot of people don't know how to do it. A lot of people would probably take — especially these days when your return on investment is relatively low — a little bit less off that for a return that they would see directly in their community, that they could measure and that they could engage in.
This is applicable across all sectors. You could talk about education, child protection, health, social services, potentially education. It's not limited to a certain interest group, and I think that it has the ability to be urban and rural and big community and small community. So it's a solution, potentially, that has the ability to have a wide impact.
I believe that the current economic climate mandates the government to create an opportunity for citizens to invest differently and directly in community solutions. Homelessness and child poverty and increased reliance on food banks are not the standard of living that British Columbians want for themselves, their fellow citizens or the future generations.
I think social impact bonds are one tool that will link innovation with improved outcomes, improved risk management and increased financial investment in sustainable solutions. I would ask that these comments be considered in your deliberations.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Caroline.
D. McRae: Caroline, first of all, thank you. I agree with lots of what you say, and I support the idea of social impact bonds. The good news is that there are several of my colleagues who believe the same, and I think it will get a lot of resonance, if it already hasn't, with the government.
I think you're actually going on a path that is exciting and vibrant. I know it's done very well in Europe, especially the U.K. If we can somehow tap into those dollars, some people estimate there could be hundreds of millions
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of dollars, even just in British Columbia. I know companies like Vancity have been more than willing to be leaders in this project.
I think you're on the right track. Please keep going. If you want to talk to someone in the Lower Mainland who is also championing this cause, it is MLA Gordon Hogg. He's been very keen on this. Hopefully, you'll see some action on this in the not-so-distant future.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. That was not a question but a comment. That's fine.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for the presentation. I think that your emphasis on this being a way to bring some stability but not reduce the need for government funding of non-profits that do the work in the communities is a valuable point.
I was involved with the Canadian Community Economic Development Network as a B.C. steering committee member around 2002-2003, where we put together a presentation to government around tax incentives for people to invest in community economic development and social enterprise in order to raise the capital that you're pointing out here in social bonds, because CCED organizations address the topics that you're talking about. I'm glad to see the social bond is another way to sort of try to crack that nut.
I'm wondering about your thoughts on social enterprises. I brought up in the Finance budget estimates the fact that at least within the provincial revenue stream we spend $4 billion on procurement of services for the government and could some of that be diverted into social enterprises to help bring some stability to those organizations as well. It's reinvesting and getting return for that.
Have you looked at social enterprises and procurement policies as part of that?
C. Bonesky: Currently within Fraserside we operate social enterprise, so I'm certainly aware of social enterprise and know how boards have to take risks around how much loss and how they find the funding to cover those businesses for the first few years. Certainly, around social innovation, most of the work has been done around the investment tax credit and actually expanding the definition of the act I tried to remember the name of earlier...
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): The VCC maybe?
C. Bonesky: The VCC.
...to include that that could be an eligible.... I know there is some work being done on that with PLAN and Vancity. I think that social enterprise has a role to play, and I think investment in social enterprise would be good.
In the social services sector, I don't think our results will be any better than probably business. So if two out of three new businesses fail, I think that realization around social enterprise has to be aware as well. We have more than one bottom line as well — right? — in terms of usually creating employment or driving our mission as well as raising revenue.
I think it would be great. There are a lot of us that are struggling with very small enterprises that have potential for a very good return, but we don't have the capital to invest in terms of what our not-for-profits have to work with, so we go pretty small scale. It would be great to have some help in terms of leveraging a little bit better. More patient capital would be great as well — absolutely.
B. Ralston: I'm interested in your comments, and I'm interested in some of the response from my colleagues. There were bonds in British Columbia — just straight, consumer-oriented, low-denomination bonds of B.C., or B.C. savings bonds. The government discontinued those. The argument was that the administrative cost to raise capital that way was too expensive.
Yet here you're proposing a contract with the government that would specify success criteria, target population, a payment schedule, which would require a certain administrative apparatus to deal and track the success of the program that the bond is funding.
Notwithstanding what's been said here, I think I'd be a bit skeptical about the receptivity of the government, based on that experience, to something that would require this type of administration. I think it's a good idea; I'm not opposed to it myself.
What kinds of discussions have you had with people about the willingness to, for the sake of the social innovation that this would bring about, countenance some extra cost? That was the argument about killing the B.C. — that was just a very straight…. Canada savings, you know, you put your hundred dollars in, and you get a hundred-dollar bond back. The administrative….
C. Bonesky: I guess there are a couple of things in there. I guess one of the things is that if the legislation allows the not-for-profit to issue the bond, then you're looking at fairly small management in terms of that bond. There would be an expense. It would have to be factored in to the cost of doing the project.
In terms of the government contracting and that relationship, and monitoring — we give a ton. All of our contracts require us to give a ton of information every month. So the reporting requirement around the success outcomes and what the measures are is almost inherent now in what we do. We just do it to hundreds of funders every month.
I think that the capacity is there in terms of as long as the criteria is pretty clear…. Right now I have to do output reporting. I also have to do outcome reporting
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— how many people are experiencing an increase in their style of life or their quality of life or whatever it is, our pre- and post-measures. All of that data is currently being collected and sent. So I think in terms of the capacity of the not-for-profits to report out, you're really just looking at that data collection over time.
I may have misunderstood your question.
B. Ralston: Doubtlessly, you are required to report, but whether anyone ever reads it or analyzes it…. This would require not only analysis but to base financial results on that analysis.
I think there'd be an extra layer of necessary administration. Again, I'm not saying that that's wrong. It's just that the argument to kill the B.C. savings bond was that just simply issuing it was too costly. They'd rather go to the money market in New York and raise billions at a time.
C. Bonesky: I guess my response is that when I've spoken to people at my level — which is pretty far down, in terms of health authorities and things — people are very interested in the idea and see the capacity there. I'm not sure in terms of the linkages institutionally in different authorities and different ministries — if that would cause problems or not.
I think it's doable, but it's a good question.
J. Les (Chair): Final question to Jane.
J. Thornthwaite: Yeah, it sounds like a good idea. Can you give me an example of what you're familiar with — if it's the U.K. or whatever — to do with education?
C. Bonesky: No, I can't give you a specific example. But one of the things that I was thinking, for example, is that if you look at different outcomes, and there are different ideas about how kids with special needs could be supported in the school or how kids with learning abilities could be supported in school, it's hard to get innovative solutions.
I think there are some ideas about time spent in school and time spent in community. If there were savings to do that and better results in terms of staying in school — FSA, graduation rates, whatever it would be — there may be some abilities in there. But I don't have a specific example that I can give you today.
J. Les (Chair): All right, we'll have to leave it at that, Caroline. Thank you very much for coming today.
Our next presenter is Joe Greenholtz from STEPS Forward.
You may step forward, sir.
J. Greenholtz: The next time anyone says that members of the Legislature don't work between sessions, I'll have to rise to your defence.
J. Les (Chair): Please do.
J. Greenholtz: I can't imagine what this must be like all day, so thank you very much for your service.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about STEPS Forward, the rationale about what we do and why we do it. It's an organization that's not known to a lot of people. We've tried to keep a low profile for small-p political reasons.
What we do is support people with intellectual disabilities to go to post-secondary educational institutions. We presently have between 20 and 25 students at the two UBC campuses, Point Grey and UBCO, the Emily Carr Institute and UVic, principally.
We're often asked to intervene in other places, but we can only expand insofar as the funding permits us. So what I'd like to ask you to do is to consider this as a movement, a service worth funding.
What STEPS Forward does is, at the request of an individual with an intellectual disability who wants to go on to post-secondary, we investigate with the administration and with faculty about the possibilities of that. We provide support staff who support sort of behind the scenes. They do course modification as necessary, but more importantly, they go in and forge relationships with peers, with faculty, in order to facilitate the entry of this somewhat unusual person into that population.
Just to backtrack a bit, here's the rationale. Our kids here in British Columbia are mainstreamed in the K-to-12 system, and I think that it's a very successful education system for kids with disabilities. When my family moved here from Japan in 1995, we went around to various school boards and we chose Richmond to live in because it among them was the most welcoming in terms of educational inclusion services offered. There were no qualifiers. There was no "if budget permitting" or "class size permitting" or "union permitting" — none of that. It was very straightforward, it was very open, it was very welcoming, and it was very inclusive.
My child, a daughter, who is now 27 and has Down syndrome, went through the school system and, at the end of grade 12, her peers get on the bus and go on to university or whatever, and she is left standing at the bus stop without a rationale that makes sense to her.
Now, people will say: "Well, that's because that population that you are describing doesn't have the intellectual capacity to go on to university or post-secondary, so let's not waste everybody's time with this." But that's taking a narrow view of post-secondary education for starters, and it's not considering the greater impacts on the community, on the perception of people with disabilities — which is a very, very hard row to hoe, having a disability. I mean, for all that we try to do as a society, having a disability makes life viscerally very difficult all the time. There's no relief from it.
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Under the present system, where at the end of K-to-12 there's no path forward into the community, most people with disabilities often end up in some sort of segregated work setting just to fill their time — daycare for adults in some instances.
There are employment programs, but the employment programs, again, seek to do training in isolation — to teach the skills and then take those skills into a workplace that is willing to accept them. But it's very difficult. It's not only the technical skills that go with the job. It's the people skills that are the most important thing in the workplace. So in order to really accomplish the goal of bringing people into the community, the training, the practice has to take place in community.
For the rest of us, that's what happens at post-secondary. That's where we forge various networks. That's where we learn to interact with various strata of society, not just the neighbourhood that we came from. So there is much more to academics at university.
STEPS Forward reproduces the education–summer job cycle through three, four, five years — a normal span of post-secondary — with the idea that…. We have some evidence. We finally have some graduates to demonstrate and a long, long history of this type of initiative in Alberta, where they have a lot of success.
That cycle, the same cycle that ordinary students go through, provides the types of experience that then allow our graduates to move into the community in a smoother way. The motto or the guiding philosophy, as it were, of our society is to make the presence of people with disabilities unremarkable in the community.
Right now in the K-to-12 community the kids really don't think much of it, so I think it's been very successful in that way, that people with disabilities are not entirely, but more or less, unremarkable to their peers. They become marked increasingly as they leave that environment, the K-to-12 environment, whether it be through segregated training programs or just being kept at home, as it were. You don't see many people with disabilities out in the community. I know that that's not only my experience.
STEPS Forward provides the entire infrastructure. People approach us with a goal. They want to study X; they want to study Y. The handout tells you the story of a typical STEPS student in that regard, so I won't go through that with you.
We provide the infrastructure, as I say. There's a facilitator on campus who approaches administrators about creating systems so that our students can be considered students, can have a student card, can have access to community kinds of activities, be it clubs, be it sports, what have you. You have to be a student. You can't just be wandering around campus — not something that a lot of people think of. We create those kinds of connections, working with the institutions.
We work with faculties to accept the idea of having a student with a disability in class. The coordinator and the facilitators don't go into class with students. Again, we want them to blend in as much as possible. But they set the stage. They go in. They talk to faculty. They address the class just to explain what's going on, to prepare a more receptive atmosphere. Then they meet regularly with faculty and students behind the scenes to create the conditions for ongoing success.
Those are the types of services that we provide. It costs us about $100,000 per campus to provide those services. As I say, we've been variously approached by families who are interested in exploring this idea, because all they can see in their kids' futures is either sitting at home or going to some sort of sheltered program. It's not the dream, frankly, that they had for their children growing up, nor is it the dream that we have for any of our children.
But we tell them…. You know, we've had a great deal of support from the government. The Ministry of Advanced Education has funded us in the past. We're trying to also in the…. I have to apologize for not knowing the titles of the ministries, but the ministry that looks after employment and training, the part of it that's not in Advanced Education's portfolio and that runs Community Living B.C., for example.
Community Living B.C…. Well, this is, perhaps, not the forum. They're supposed to be the agency or the organization — the arm's-length organization — that funds these kinds of initiatives, but it's really not working. I don't want to say any more about that because this isn't the forum for it.
For $100,000 we could go into Prince George. We could go into other places in the Interior. We could take this idea, this service, this philosophy, if you will, of having people with disabilities in the community just like other folks, so that eventually the attitude that our kids have cultivated in K-to-12 — that there's really nothing remarkable about having these folks in our lives on a day-to-day basis — will establish itself in British Columbia. It's a big dream, but one must dream big, I think. That's my presentation.
J. Les (Chair): Good. Thank you very much, Joe.
We've got a couple of questions, first of all from Norm.
N. Letnick: Two questions, if I may. One, what are the outcomes for students who go through the post-secondary education process? And the second one is: what about teamwork in classes? I taught post-secondary for a number of years, and a lot of the work is in teams. It's based on people doing reports together. A lot of times it's competitive, where marks are awarded depending on how well you do compared to other teams. So how do the students that we're
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talking about here work in those team environments as well?
J. Greenholtz: It's a layered kind of question, because part of it is about the attitudes of other people in class. I know that in some circles that sort of hyper-competitive environment is a laudable goal for the post-secondary because it prepares warriors for the global workplace.
But if you decide that maybe it should be more collegial or that maybe other lessons should be learned in addition to what the project is about, then the presence of someone who is different, who requires a different kind of interaction, slows things down and makes people more thoughtful. It's one of the effects that we hope that the presence of people with disabilities will have in and on the community. That's one thing.
In terms of actual outcomes and contributions — I mean, the nuts and bolts of it — we have only four or five graduates. At one point all of them were employed. At this point I believe half of them are employed. One had a union job with the CBC in their library, for example. Those are the kinds of outcomes….
We always look to Alberta, where they have 25 years of experience. On the basis of research that they've done, they report outcomes of 70 percent involvement in full-time or part-time employment in the community.
If you've thought about employment outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities, 70 percent is so remarkable that…. I'd say it's unbelievable if I didn't know the people who produced the numbers. That's a very tangible kind of return on investment.
There are the soft sorts of returns on investment — the effect that they have on community, and just the idea that….
Sorry, I didn't address the question of how they contribute in class. Sometimes we have them take the lectures, so they're able to contribute that as a resource back to discussion groups. People communicate in different ways. Some people communicate by machine. Some are verbal, some not. So it will depend — I guess both the extent and the mode to which they participate.
In some disciplines — we find it particularly in the arts — the perspective that a person with a disability brings to the discussion to how they see a piece or think about a process really contributes in unexpected ways in that way. It opens up people's minds to thinking about things in lights that they hadn't been shown before. That's a kind of touchy-feely contribution, and I appreciate that it's much easier to make a case before the Finance Committee in terms of actual return on investment.
I think that our experience and the experience in Alberta about the employability of folks…. It reduces all kinds of needs for services when people are employed. It reverberates, I think, throughout the social services system in terms of the burden on caseworkers, in terms of the financial burden. The more we get used to having people with disabilities among us, the easier it'll be.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for your presentation — very intriguing. I wasn't aware of STEPS Forward, so it's good to hear about it.
I think your second bullet point on the first page about…. From a cost factor, the importance is inclusion. There are ways of making the university and college communities…. They're there, and we're funding them anyway. Why don't we use those facilities to do all sorts of things. I think there are ways of incorporating that inclusiveness into grading and coursework too, so there are lots of ways to do that.
My question was a little bit more specific, though. STEPS Forward is a non-profit society, I assume. Who, then, hires the specialized inclusion facilitators? Also, how does the public access your services? In other words, how do people find out about it? How do they register or try to get their son or daughter or whoever they know on a list to use the services?
J. Greenholtz: STEPS does all hiring and training. I'm on the personnel committee, so I often participate in interviews. We advertise through media such as Craigslist, and I don't know if that predetermines the type of applicants we're going to get or not, but we're happy with the people we get.
It's quite rigorous because we have a very particular philosophy, and it has to do with the unremarkableness of the presence of people with disabilities. That means when they congregate, they become remarkable. All of our systems and all of our approaches are built around inserting people as naturally as possible into the community, not having them share space, not having them get together and not having the disability become a salient feature. That's what the training is about. That's why we handle the whole service in-house.
We're often asked: "Why don't you use the services of the disability coordinator on campus?" Those services are geared towards folks who academically qualify for the institution but usually have mobility issues or other kinds of issues, and they're facilitated.
When you have somebody with an intellectual disability, it's often perceived as being out of place. It's a whole different system of interaction. So STEPS does all its own hiring and training. We go back to the mother lode, to Alberta, and interact with their folks because they really do what they do well. That's how we handle that part of your question.
In terms of how people find us, it's through the disability community network. We have a website. We give presentations wherever we can. We work with BCACL. I'm not sure how familiar you all are with
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CLBC. Community Living B.C. is the agency — I'm not sure agency is the right word — that delivers service to people with disabilities.
They have systems, and we don't fit in their systems. They envisage sort of one-to-one work with somebody, performing set services, some kind of routine, providing something sort of predictable and recordable. But what STEPS does is go out into the community to do liaison work with faculty, do course modification, meet with employers and create peer supports within job places. So it's very difficult for us to interact, but they like what we do. They value what we do. They've begun to modify how they think about service delivery, which I think for us is quite flattering.
So CLBC talks about us when they present, even though they haven't funded us yet. But they talk about us. We still haven't quite figured out how to fit in their systems, but they're interested in pursuing the ideas, which I think is really good. People come via word of mouth, via the website. I'm sure you know how extensive and thorough the disability and those kinds of citizen networks are.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Joe, for coming this afternoon. Very interesting presentation.
Our next delegation is from the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association — Robert Dominick and Elizabeth Model.
You can start whenever you're ready.
R. Dominick: Good afternoon. We're here on behalf of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association more, I think, to address the issue of arts and culture in Surrey City Centre. The Downtown Surrey BIA represents some 1,200 businesses in Surrey City Centre. I myself have a total vested interest in Surrey City Centre. One of my companies is building 2,500 homes almost adjacent to the new city hall. Another of my companies has just relocated from Beverly Hills into Surrey City Centre because I believe that's where the future of business lies in the Lower Mainland.
We donated a million dollars to SFU two years ago, and just earlier this year my Los Angeles company donated $500,000 to SFU for the School of Interactive Arts and Technology. We have a huge interest in what happens in Surrey City Centre, and what I'm seeing is somewhat worrying in that I've had meetings before on a provincial level whereby, pre-recession, funding was kind of in the pipeline — let's put it that way — to assist towards a performing arts centre, which Surrey desperately needs.
When you look at the city centre in the evening in Surrey and the vast amount of federal, provincial and municipal infrastructure that's being created, there isn't anything to do in Surrey City Centre, so it's a huge concern for us. The provincial meetings that I've had in the past were revolving around an allocation of up to $60 million towards the performing arts centre, and of course the recession put that completely on the back burner.
As we come out of the recession and, hopefully, into better times, I would like to think that Surrey was back on the front of the burner in terms of allocations of funding from the province as and when it becomes available. My own personal concern about funding for Surrey is that it always seems that Vancouver gets a huge slice of the pie, along with other municipalities in the Lower Mainland, and Surrey has actually almost been completely left out, so I see a huge disparity there.
And on that note, I'm going to hand it over to our executive director.
E. Model: I'm just here to follow up on some of the stats and figures — no doubt you've been given them — about Surrey. Currently, as it stands, we have 472,000 people, and it's growing by a thousand people per month. It is B.C.'s fastest-growing region and Canada's 12th-largest city, and within a decade we are expected to surpass Vancouver in population.
With that, the B.C. government funding for arts and culture is probably the lowest of any province or territory in Canada, which is just not acceptable here on the west coast because we do have a different attitude and lifestyle from the rest of Canada. That's why we live here, and that's why we invest here. It's vital that the province really strive to bring the per-capita spending up to the Canadian average. To bring B.C. to the national average would be in the region of about $75 million.
As Bob has said, Surrey is woefully underfunded. Vancouver received over $50 million plus; New West, $35 million for a cultural centre; and the same goes for Burnaby as well. And of course, Surrey again is missed.
As you know, arts and culture and business actually go hand in hand. Small business is the backbone in the economy of British Columbia's economic driver. What drives this economy is partly due to the arts. The arts are all sorts of things, if you let your imagination wander. They're the media, the filmmakers, the recording artists. They work together. They employ people within the industry of ticket suppliers, caterers, servers, printers, lighting, deliveries, florists. The list goes on and on.
So we really do require something in the city centre to bring people there, to make them stay there, to let them live there, and also from the standpoint of sustainability long-term — for the residential people to have that tie-in to stay in their community and spend the dollars in their community.
What we are requesting is a 1,600-seat flex theatre with a 250-seat studio theatre, which will be utilized for arts, culture, entertainment and also learning activities. It goes in partnership possibilities with Simon Fraser
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University — large-scale lectures, conferences, and obviously multimedia presentations as well. It will act as a venue and a catalyst to bring people together in the community and create a very positive, upbeat, vibrant downtown core, which is the focus of our Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.
The economic spinoff is huge, not only for the arts but for the business community. It equates to more people, which is more jobs. More jobs is more services; more services is more business; more activity, more investment; and of course, for the government, more of a better tax base and increased tax revenues as well. It's the multiplier effect and the trickle-down effect. It benefits everyone. It creates a healthy, balanced and vibrant community.
So we're requesting that for downtown Surrey. We have a lot of exciting things happen. We just need you to come to the table and make it happen for us as well. Thank you.
N. Letnick: Thank you for your presentation and your passion for downtown Surrey.
A couple of questions. You've asked the government to come to the table. Where has the government come to the table in the rest of British Columbia that you can cite examples where it participated in helping to produce a 600-seat theatre plus a 250-seat flex theatre? That's the first question.
The second question is: how much are you looking for, for the government to come to the table? Do you want all four legs from the government, or would you like to partner and have three legs private sector? What kind of relationship are you looking for?
R. Dominick: I think I know some of that. I only know that disparity has occurred in terms of funding for other municipalities, from what other people tell me. The fact is that I know that nothing has come in Surrey's direction anyway, not in the 20 years that I've lived in Surrey — into Surrey City Centre.
On the other side of the fence, I think that we've had discussions with the provincial government before — as I said, prior to the recession — regarding a 1,600-seat main theatre and a 250-seat studio theatre. There was genuine discussion at that time around the $60 million mark based on a model that had happened in Mississauga where there had been a $60 million funding for a similar facility; $60 million had actually then come from the federal government. The municipality had provided the land.
At the discussions I had previously, it was indicated that if there was $60 million in provincial funding available, the remainder could probably be obtained in a split way from both the municipality and the federal government.
N. Letnick: If I may just follow up. Maybe you can do some research and get back to us on it. I'm looking for specific precedents in the province of British Columbia, whatever the history is, that the government has helped to fund — I know they helped to fund other things in other areas — something close to this. If so, what kind of partnerships? Was it a third with the feds and a third with the local businesses? That kind of thing. I'd really appreciate having that.
R. Dominick: Yeah. The library in Surrey is a three-way participation, which is working really well. The example I had was $50 million to…. What was it?
E. Model: The art gallery downtown in Vancouver. It's arts and culture. I mean theatre, art gallery….
N. Letnick: I'm just looking for specific examples.
E. Model: Yeah. Absolutely. That is the art gallery in downtown Vancouver, because we have downtown Surrey too. Also with that, Vancouver has received far more funding from a standpoint of funding other things too, where Surrey hasn't gotten that funding from an arts and cultural standpoint. There are specific examples. If you do require them, I can give them to you. Okay.
B. Ralston: Thanks very much, and thanks both to you, Bob, and to Elizabeth for your ongoing leadership here in Surrey. I was going to mention the art gallery. I believe the ask in Vancouver…. I don't want to make this into a Vancouver-Surrey standoff, but $300 million is the total scope of the project. Certainly, there's a substantial provincial component envisaged for that in that ask.
I know there's been some back-and-forth, and the provincial government has taken some interest in that. I think the rationale is that they're conceived of as provincial-level cultural institutions. Given the relative population here, I think that's worth doing.
I think the other thing that you, perhaps unintentionally, omitted is that the city of Surrey itself has committed $50 million to building a new city hall in the same location — again, with the idea of driving the momentum of rebuilding the city centre there as well. Perhaps just for those who may not have known about that, you could just explain a bit about what the city of Surrey's plans are in terms of their own city hall.
R. Dominick: Yeah. I love the fact that someone gave Surrey city centre the tag of the next metro centre of British Columbia. I think it was Metro Vancouver that gave it that tag about two or three years ago. It kind of added a component of momentum to what was happening in Surrey, which is turning into a very, very impressive city. People from overseas that are coming over now are
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mentioning the fact that, wow, the infrastructure that's underway in Surrey City Centre is certainly going to complement the Lower Mainland in a very big way.
I also look at the fact that a huge component of the workforce in the Lower Mainland lives south of the Fraser, and of course, there's nothing for the arts there. But on a federal, provincial and municipal basis — with the RCMP division, with the new Fraser Health hospital extension in Surrey going on, with the $50 million that Surrey itself is spending on its city hall and the new library that's being created and other infrastructure that's coming in — Surrey is becoming a very prominent place in the Lower Mainland.
The problem with Surrey is that with all the residential building that's now going on — we're just ourselves creating 2,500 new homes — there is literally nothing for anyone to do. So the faster we can get something like an arts and cultural centre, which is a bi-use…. It works well for the university as well as the residents of Surrey. I think it's a really important piece of infrastructure to head for.
J. Les (Chair): I had a question, perhaps a comment. In many communities these kinds of infrastructures are ultimately funded by development cost charges. That is the case in my own community of Chilliwack, where next week they're opening a new arts and cultural centre worth $25 million, funded completely out of development cost charges. So that's my first question: is that part of development cost charges in the city of Surrey?
Then my second would be: did you put the project forward as part of the recent federal-provincial infrastructure program?
R. Dominick: Sorry, which project? The arts and cultural centre?
J. Les (Chair): Yes.
R. Dominick: As far as I'm aware we did, yes. As for the DCC charges, I only know I pay them and have no idea what they spend them on. I wish I did know. If I had some input, we'd have a performing arts centre. I don't know on the DCCs. And I do agree it's a great use of funding.
J. Les (Chair): Well, you know, premised on the fact, of course, that when you have a large, burgeoning, growing population, they're going to need that kind of infrastructure.
R. Dominick: I totally agree.
E. Model: But by the same token, John, just to answer your question too, Surrey has created…. The downtown core really does need all the help that it can get. You know, that perspective is changing, and the city itself has put in a special economic investment zone there to attract potential developers and investors, lowering the DCCs, etc., and deferring some of the costs simply because we need people to invest in city centre.
R. Dominick: Just out of interest I might add that over the past three months we've been experiencing a huge amount of offshore interest in Surrey City Centre, so much so that we've been having busloads of people arrive to our developments. I believe the number over the past three months in investment alone in our residential development has been somewhere close to $25 million in offshore moneys. So Surrey is attracting a lot of attention.
J. Les (Chair): Great. Thank you for coming this afternoon.
E. Model: Thank you very much for having us, and thanks for visiting Surrey.
J. Les (Chair): Sure. How could we not?
Our final delegation for this afternoon I believe is here, and that would be Susan Wandell.
S. Wandell: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for allowing me to speak this afternoon to you. I promise I won't keep you long. I know you're waiting for your much-earned dinner break.
My name is Susan Wandell, and I'm the president of the New Westminster arts council. Tonight I'd like to address this committee on the arts. I am gathering you've had other people addressing you on the same subject.
I have this prepared presentation. Budgeting is essential to good government, and while working through the recent budget process, this government considered reducing arts funding. The arts community protested these cuts, and this government heard their pleas and responded by restoring partial funding, thereby demonstrating their commitment to a strong, creative and growing arts community. I implore you to continue building on your commitment.
The arts are often misunderstood by governments and seen as an unnecessary budget expense. Recognizing that governments have limited funds available for distribution, I believe that the arts must be viewed as an industry that needs to be cultivated, an economic development driver, not simply a frill to society. Giving support to the arts is also giving support to secondary industries, such as the restaurant and our food and beverage industry. For example, what would attending a play or a movie be without going to a restaurant for dinner?
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Often it is the arts in its many forms that buoys the public spirit in times of restraint and economic hardship. Everyone in British Columbia — or Hollywood North, as it is commonly referred to — is familiar with the motion picture industry, a true success story for the arts. Many thousands of people are employed in this industry, from the actors, producers and directors to the ticket sellers at the cinemas. There is a great trickle-down effect when a movie is being made in town. Tax incentives have been given to this industry to encourage growth, and it is working.
So many towns and cities in British Columbia have lost their traditional industrial jobs. Mills and mines have closed, and breweries have left. More and more people are becoming entrepreneurs. Home-based businesses are springing up everywhere, and many of those businesses are arts-focused or -inspired.
A report from Hill Strategies Inc. states that based on the 2006 census, the three cities with the highest concentration of artists are in British Columbia: Vancouver, with 2.35 percent; Victoria, 1.87 percent; and North Van district at 1.61. New Westminster has a concentration of 1 percent.
In New Westminster, as in other cities, highrise condominiums are being built, and with city demographics changing, residents are becoming more and more sophisticated and demand more for their tax dollars, such as public art and quality arts programming. Our local government is teaming with the local arts community to have developers include public art in their new developments. A new civic centre is in the planning stages and includes a museum, gallery and other arts components.
Arts councils and other arts groups are trying to accommodate the public needs, but resources are limited. There is no shortage of ideas, but there is a great shortage of funding. All levels of government need to work together to continue to build on the current upsurge of the arts and culture sector.
The role of local arts councils is to educate, support, guide and promote arts and culture by offering quality arts programming to their communities. It is a difficult balancing act to allocate time for managing existing programming while also looking for grants, sponsorships and volunteers. It is particularly hard to turn down very valid requests for arts projects simply because you do not have the resources needed to support them.
Arts organizations need to have a stable funding source, and traditionally, the arts and culture sector has been dependent on public sector funding. It is necessary to change and increase government grants to target funding with a focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts in order to be competitive in attracting and retaining high-calibre staff, and hiring sufficient staff so that things do not fall between the cracks, as often happens when organizations rely solely on volunteers. It will require adequate funding.
Simply the development of satellite galleries would provide much-needed retail exhibit space in which our arts community can become financially independent and more experienced in selling their wares. Renewed funding for more retail space for the arts makes sense both economically and professionally.
Ultimately, arts groups should strive to be more self-sufficient, but before we can reach this long-term objective, government likely will need to provide a stable base funding that can be used for staffing and operating expenses as well as for projects.
As contemplated by the Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts 2007 to 2010 service plan, the implementation of a provincial government arts policy is crucial. The document states that the ministry, in consultation with key stakeholders, will develop a long-range arts and culture strategy.
The summary report of the ministry-sponsored arts and culture summit held in April 2006 is currently being evaluated by a committee of key community stakeholders, and a follow-up document currently being prepared will propose the component elements and composition of a long-term development strategy for the province's arts and cultural resources.
One element of that strategy will be support for the long-term sustainability for the sector, and we are eagerly waiting for this framework document.
Tax incentives could be increased or created for businesses that sponsor art organizations, and tax credits for volunteers would definitely assist.
I thank you for your time tonight. Remember that today's art is tomorrow's artifact.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you.
Any questions from anyone?
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Just a quick question. Do you have any indication when the framework document will be available? Secondly, could you elaborate a little bit more on tax credits for volunteers in the arts? Have you had any conversations about how that might work?
S. Wandell: It would have to be a tax credit for hours that they volunteer, so it would have to come from the group or the organization that it's worth keeping a record of their hours. The volunteer would keep a record as well, and then we would have to submit it, just like when you give a charitable donation and you give a tax receipt, I guess — you know, something along those lines.
You would give a receipt for the hours worked. I would think it would go something along those lines — a tax credit that could be used. It would certainly help us keep quality volunteers, especially if the people are earning money and they would like to have some tax write-off.
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I am not sure about that framework agreement. I know it was being worked on. I know other people in the arts are looking for an arts policy from the government. I haven't heard of that coming out yet.
J. Les (Chair): No further questions?
Thank you, Susan, for coming this afternoon.
That will do for now. It is dinnertime, which is in the same place as lunch earlier this afternoon. The committee stands recessed until 6:30.
The committee recessed from 5:22 p.m. to 6:31 p.m.
[J. Les in the chair.]
J. Les (Chair): Our next delegation is from the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. We have with us tonight Barbara Lindsay and Jim Mann. Good evening. Good to see you again.
J. Blake: And you have Jean Blake as well.
J. Les (Chair): All right. So start right in, whenever you're ready.
J. Mann: Mr. Chair and members of the committee, my name is Jim Mann, and I'm a volunteer member of the board of directors of the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. With me here tonight are Jean Blake, the society's CEO; and Barbara Lindsay, the senior manager of advocacy and public policy.
Our society has a staff of 46 provincewide and a network of over 400 volunteers. In 2008 we held over 1,200 support group meetings, over 600 education sessions and provided almost 40,000 hours of service. It's hard to fathom that in that one year more than 6,000 new people contacted one of our 18 resource centres throughout the province.
With that introduction, Mr. Chair, we thank you for this opportunity to make a statement in your prebudget consultations, allowing us to reinforce the impact of Alzheimer's and related dementias on British Columbians. Our few moments also give you the chance to hear about a proven partnership that supports people with a dementia and their families.
Dementia has a devastating impact on the people who develop the disease and on the families who care for them. Mr. Chair, let me vouch for that one sentence, because I have Alzheimer's, and my wife and I are living the impact every day.
Dementia has the potential to overwhelm health and social care services that are already ill-equipped to respond to the challenges of this disease. Alzheimer's and related dementias affect more and more of us each year. As our population ages, the number of people with dementia grows. Today more than 70,000 B.C. residents live with dementia, and more than 15,000 people develop dementia each year. Most individuals are supported by a spouse, children, other family members and friends whose health and lives are also severely impacted by the disease.
As symptoms worsen, it gets tougher for the person with the disease to manage. People with dementia first rely on friends, family and their caregiver. As the disease progresses, the demands on caregivers, family and the health care system are compounded.
Gradually people increase their use of home care, home support, respite and day programs, and eventually most people with dementia move into residential care. Demands for service and system improvements increase, particularly as baby boomers begin to use the services, placing even more strain on the health care system.
Health authorities do not know the full economic impact of dementia on the health care system. It's complex. Many services are required, from diagnostic assessment, medications and case management to home support, respite and adult day programs, geriatric medicine and family care physicians. Mental health interventions are frequent, as are episodic uses of acute care services, including emergency care and residential care.
The recent study Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on British Columbia provides sobering data. The study estimates today's total economic burden of dementia care in B.C. to be $2.1 billion and that cumulatively it will be $130.2 billion within 30 years, in 2038. But with effective strategies, the challenges of providing dementia care can be met. Evidence indicates that family caregivers are able to enhance their capacity to provide care when they gain knowledge about dementia, build their caregiving skills and receive emotional support.
Accessing programs early on, as soon as possible after diagnosis, gives the person with dementia, the family and the caregiver a better opportunity to learn how to live well with dementia for as long as possible. Research indicates that families affected by dementia cope better with the disease and utilize health care resources more effectively when they are informed about the dementia journey.
One researcher has determined that with appropriate interventions, family caregivers are able to maintain their family member with dementia at home longer — on average, 585 days, which is significantly longer than caregivers who did not receive the intervention.
Here is where our partnership comes in, with a program called First Link. This initiative was funded as a partnership between the Ministry of Health Services, Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Alzheimer Society of B.C. Currently, in many instances a person is told that he or she has dementia, given a prescription for a cholinesterase inhibiter like Exelon, Reminyl or Aricept and asked to come back for review.
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With First Link, however, family physicians, health care providers and local community agencies affiliated with the First Link program, when given permission by the newly diagnosed person, provide the society with the contact information. We then proactively contact that person or family members directly, offering information, education and support. We continue to follow up with each referral, providing information and encouragement and engaging them in our various education and support programs.
First Link reflects the Ministry of Health Services' Triple Aim goal of improving health of persons with dementia and their caregiver, enhancing the health care experience and providing the capacity to limit the per-capita cost of care for people affected by dementia.
First Link is economically feasible. Well-supported caregivers are able to maintain the person with dementia at home for over 500 days longer than caregivers without the right kinds of support. If the cost of residential care is approximately $160 per day per residential care bed, First Link has the capacity to save the health care system approximately $80,000 for each family served.
Think about the savings if First Link were implemented throughout B.C. In a year where the program serves an estimated 2,000 new people and families per year, the cost avoidance for residential care is approximately $160 million.
The goal of the Alzheimer Society of B.C. is to establish First Link throughout the province by 2013. The Ministry of Health Services is committed to supporting the expansion of First Link and has provided the society with some assistance in this fiscal year. We ask the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to recommend the continued expansion of First Link provincewide as a solution to early intervention and supporting your constituents affected by dementia.
Again, Mr. Chair and committee members, thank you for this opportunity to hear from the Alzheimer Society of B.C. in your prebudget consultations.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much, Jim. Are there questions?
N. Letnick: If we're able to provide First Link for everyone who needs it, how long will someone with dementia or Alzheimer's end up in residential care before they pass on? Is there a standard? Is there a median number of years? Do we support them for five years in residential care? Or two? Or six months?
J. Blake: Well, it would really depend on how quickly the disease progresses. We can give you averages. We know that people will have the disease an average of eight to 12 years. Most caregivers do find at some point in the later stages of the disease that they need to rely on residential care to provide the care. It really varies. To give you an exact number would be very difficult.
N. Letnick: Is it a range of six months to two years in institutions, or is it longer than that?
J. Blake: Barbara, you can try taking a stab at it. But often the cause of death, too, is not linked directly to the diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia. Usually it's a cardiovascular failure or something like that that gets noted on the death certificate.
B. Lindsay: Increasingly, people with dementia, once they get into residential care, are staying six months to two years. In past years people would stay much longer in care facilities. But now people are staying in the community longer before they go to a care facility. Definitely, now long-term care is more of a palliative program for people with dementia, and the caregiver is keeping the person at home longer.
Our suggestion is that with more support people can do it in a more healthy way. Caregivers are often really…. They're done in, usually, by that time. But with support, they can make it better.
Now, people who live alone with dementia in the community are in the care facility much earlier because they really need that support. So those people will require services much longer and will go in at a time when they don't really need it as much, but it's just that there's no one else to care for them. That's how they get there.
N. Letnick: Obviously, with the numbers we're talking about, which are staggering…
B. Lindsay: It is staggering.
N. Letnick: …the more we can invest in helping people stay at home and helping caregivers help people stay at home, the less the rest of the society will have to pay for people to be in institutional care. I would hope that's also better for the patient themselves.
B. Lindsay: I think it is. Research indicates that when you canvass people with dementia and caregivers, people with dementia do not want to live the rest of their life in residential care. It's not a goal of anyone to spend their time there. If their family member can keep them at home longer….
We really can't build enough care facilities to service the need of the people coming forward, and it wouldn't make sense to do so. So finding solutions to keeping people at home in a healthy way is really our best option.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for the presentation. To follow up on Norm's theme, I think that not just with people who suffer from Alzheimer's but other medical conditions, keeping them at home is obviously a better system to decrease the impact
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on our health care system — right? And it's got some proven benefits.
My question is around the well-supported caregivers. I mean, are we also talking about having full home support care workers involved with that and public health nurses who visit? I'm not sure. I'm not clear from your presentation whether…. A well-supported caregiver could be a family member, but to be well-supported you need more than just a family member. Could you elaborate on that?
B. Lindsay: Right. Because the disease is progressive, in the beginning, if the caregiver and the family come to the society early on, they can…. For the first period of time they're going to be able to manage on their own.
What we do is provide the tools for them to understand what the disease looks like, what some of the hallmarks of the disease are; how they will recognize when they need help and where they would go to get that help; what the legal tools are to put into place; what the ways are to keep the family as healthy as possible for as long as possible, like participating in community activities and connecting people to community services that make sense.
As the disease goes on, people will need more things, so they might need the medications that Jim has referred to. Through the society, our caregivers get supported to understand what to ask for.
If their doctor isn't telling them about the medications, we let them know about the Alzheimer's drug therapy initiative, which is funded by the province. It's a research process to look at the value of those medications in the long term, so we help people enrol in that.
As time goes on, eventually they will need some home support and some day programs. But I think that what we found is that caregivers can utilize those services with more economy if they are not lurching from crisis to crisis and really have a better sense of what the disease will bring and how to bring that support to them.
One of the programs that is being funded, along with First Link, which we didn't refer to much in this presentation, is called Minds in Motion. It is based in a community centre. It has got recreation and social aspects to it. One of the things we're finding is that the families who participate are rebuilding networks of support through meeting other families who are on a similar journey, in a similar situation. These families are able to provide support for each other.
One of the things that happens with this disease is that your traditional support networks break down. Your friends and family are far away, or they're stressed, or they're confused, or there is so much stigma with the disease that you just don't have that support there. This program allows people to rebuild it. So there are a number of ways in which we would get at the issue of keeping family support, not just looking into home support or to respite and residential care.
Those things are necessary elements. It's just that we want to use them with economy and appropriately.
J. Les (Chair): The final question from Don.
D. McRae: Thank you very much, and like you so well stated, as our society ages, there are going to be a lot more people with this illness.
Just anecdotally, I notice that when I visit some of the long-term care facilities in my community, it seems that there are younger people than ever suffering from dementia and, perhaps, Alzheimer's. I wonder: can you add some more to that anecdotal evidence? Is it really happening?
J. Mann: I know that I read recently where a person in Alberta was actually diagnosed at the age of 39. I think the medical profession is getting better at diagnosing, is getting better at recognizing that people are younger who are getting the disease. They are then able to go on medication and delay that process that much longer.
So I'm not sure that it's starting earlier in a global sense as much as it is just being identified earlier. But that is a very positive thing for the people being diagnosed so that in fact they can get on the medication earlier and they can put their affairs in order.
B. Lindsay: We know that there are 10,000 people with dementia under the age of 65. That's recent that we know this, because traditionally, the statistics that are kept are really on people over 65. This is a newer statistic. That's a new group of people on our radar.
J. Blake: That's here in British Columbia — 10,000.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. We thank you for coming this evening. Sorry we couldn't spend more time, but we do very much appreciate you coming.
J. Blake: Thank you for the opportunity.
J. Les (Chair): Our next presentation is from the British Columbia Teachers Federation. Larry Kuehn is here on their behalf.
L. Kuehn: Thanks for the opportunity to do this presentation of our views and advice on the funding issues. We've called our brief Highest Needs Ever. If our students are to be prepared for the demands of the 21st century, we must find ways to meet their educational needs. These are some of those needs that we think are the highest needs ever.
An objective that is universally supported in our society is that more of our students finish secondary school as graduates. Some 80 percent do this already, although
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aboriginal students barely surpass the 50 percent mark, and we all want to increase that percentage. Those in that last 20 percent need the most support to help them reach that goal.
We have increasing numbers of students with special needs — in particular, a dramatic increase in students identified with autism spectrum disorder. In 2009-10 we had basically twice as many students identified as only five years before. This increasing number of students with special needs means that we need smaller classes if we are to meet the legislated goal in Bill 33 of no more than three students with special needs in a classroom.
We have increasing numbers of students who are identified as English as a second language. There are double the number identified and receiving funding whose primary language spoken at home is other than English.
We have demands to upgrade outdated technology in schools. It's often years behind what many students have available in their homes. Just as an example, you may have heard about the disaster that has happened in this first two weeks of school with BCeSIS, the ministry's technology for keeping track of students. I had a call from a counsellor yesterday, who said that he still is not able to program students into classes because it's running so slow that it takes 45 seconds for it to move from one keystroke to the next one. This is a problem throughout the province right now.
We have a range of other costs that have been downloaded onto school districts, such as increases in medical services premiums, pension contributions and B.C. Hydro rates. All of these contribute to district budget shortfalls as just a few examples of that. Districts are required to pay a carbon offset, but it goes to private companies rather than districts being able to use it to modify buildings to reduce their carbon footprint. This practice amounts to diverting public funds to the benefit of private corporations rather than the schools.
The decline in enrolment that has been with us for the past has come to an end, according to the ministry's summary of key information. Last year we had a thousand students more than there were the previous year. We also know that kindergarten enrolments are projected to increase from every year now on, adding more students to the overall enrolments. Of course, we've had half of our kindergarten students this year move into a full-day program.
Because of all these things, we think that we have the highest needs ever and that the refrain "highest funding ever" does not satisfy. The reality is that every year in the last decade the costs of providing quality educational service have grown faster than funding increases.
That's what we urge the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to address. We recommend that at minimum, funding increases in the second decade of the 21st century restore educational services that were lost in the first decade of the century.
The Minister of Education said that she is discouraged that the percentage of students completing graduation requirements has reached a plateau. It should not be surprising that this is happening when the students moving into grade 12 at this point have been educated during a time when there were fewer and fewer resources to support their learning. The system no longer has the resources that are needed to provide the level of support required to reach individual needs of students who are having the most difficulty.
Our fundamental request is that you recommend a revision to the education funding system so that real costs are reflected in the real value of the funding for this next budget year. Current levels of service are not adequate. Beyond maintaining current levels, we need to reclaim the services for the next decade that we lost in this last decade.
To support the case for this action, we want to show you a story in numbers. I have a number of charts here. I'm not sure that we'll get through them all, but you'll have the brief to take a look at yourselves after that.
The first one is on the students with high-support special needs. Only those with high supports receive extra funding, or the district receives extra funding only for those students. The students who are in the other categories are all blended into the block. The result of that has been that there's less identification of those students, and more and more of what was a learning assistance is actually going to supporting students who have defined special needs and require an IEP.
This has meant that many of what we call the grey-area students, who haven't been identified but who we know need extra help, are simply not getting that help now. Many of those students are the ones who end up in that 20 percent who don't graduate eventually in our system.
The number of classes with four or more students with an IEP is on the rise. This is related to the provisions of Bill 33 that said there should be no more than three students in a class with an IEP. In each of the last four years there has been an increase of about a thousand classes that have more than four students with IEPs.
We're sure that that is going to increase this year because our projections, based on the surveys of school districts we did last June, are that there will be 300 to 400 fewer teachers in the system this year, despite the fact that we have half the kindergarten students who now will have full-day programs. The impact of that has to be larger classes and more classrooms with more students than the three that are supposed to be provided for in the law.
The loss of ESL and learning specialist teachers. We've had an increase in ESL students, as you can see there, but when you look down at the bottom at the staffing
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over the past ten-year period…. In library services we've lost about 30 percent of our libraries. We have the ironic situation of a B.C. school opening in India with a requirement that there must be a library open every day in that school, and many of our schools now don't have a library open every day.
We've lost counsellors. We've lost special education teachers, ESL teachers and aboriginal education teachers, as well, during this last decade. Because of the class-size provisions of Bill 33, when cuts have to be made, boards have to go to these support positions in order to balance out their budgets.
The next chart shows kindergarten enrolments are on the rise. This is really the beginning of the reversal that has taken place. We saw this last year for the first time. It's, of course, as these higher numbers from kindergarten move through the system that we get the kind of growth that we've had in the past that will take us back to the higher levels of enrolments.
We've looked at the relative spending on the K-to-12 education in the provincial budgets from 20 years ago and ten years ago. It's fallen from more than a quarter of the provincial budget to just over 15 percent in that 20-year period. If there were a restoration, even to where we were in 2001-02 at the beginning of the decade, there would be about a billion and a half more dollars in the education system, which would take care of all of those areas that we've identified as being problems.
We've also looked at a comparison, drawing from Stats Canada figures, of what's happened in British Columbia to pupil-teacher ratio versus what's happened in the rest of Canada. You can see that our ratios are higher throughout this period. It basically follows the same pattern but is always substantially higher than what is happening in other provinces.
You can see it in the next chart. It shows that the number of educators in other provinces in aggregate has increased by almost 10 percent, while their student numbers have declined by just over 4 percent. In our case, we've gone down 7.8 percent in educators and 8.8 percent in students.
We've fallen behind the rest of the country. This again is reflected from the last two ones in looking at the percentage of the GDP that's spent on education spending. We've fallen behind the Canadian pattern — again, from the StatsCan sources.
School closures. There have been 174 schools closed in British Columbia in this last decade.
In conclusion, we urge you to reverse the downward direction of support for public education as characterized this last decade. Provide the financial support that public schools require to meet the highest needs ever. Thank you.
D. McRae: Thank you very much. As you may know, I'm a high school teacher by trade and a parent, and I would love to put more money into education. I guess it comes down to: billions aren't easy to find. In front of this committee would you like to make a recommendation where those billion or two billion…? Because that's what the system could use; health care as well. Tax increases or other areas out of government spending we should take it? We've got $40 billion right now to work with as a span. A billion is not easy to find.
Where would you recommend…?
L. Kuehn: It probably has to be in increased taxes, because we're not going to see cuts in health care — at least I would hope not. And already other areas of social expenditure have also faced significant limitations.
Really, the only way to fully fund the needs of the province is, in fact, to increase the tax rates to have more revenue for government.
D. McRae: Does the BCTF have a position on the HST?
L. Kuehn: The BCTF opposed the HST, yes.
D. McRae: Okay, thank you.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thanks for the presentation. I had a specific question around identifying students with special needs. In the region I represent, Stikine, we suspect that many of the classrooms probably have a higher proportion of students that have special needs than those who don't, but the testing has been always lagging far behind.
I'd like to find out from you whether you see the testing to ID children has been improving as far as resources to do that. Secondly, and linked to that, I know your union doesn't represent them, I don't believe, but teachers' aides and teaching assistants in the classroom — can you speak to that a little bit as well?
L. Kuehn: Over the last number of years more and more of the services for students with special needs have come from hiring people as teachers' assistants or special ed assistants. We understand that there probably will be fewer this year than there were last year, as boards went through their budgeting process. We haven't seen figures on that yet.
The identification is still well behind, and it mostly is being focused on the students with the most severe special needs, for a variety of reasons. One is that that's what brings additional funding to your district, whereas identifying other students brings a requirement to provide the service but without any additional funding to do that.
Identification is particularly a problem in the areas outside of Metro and south Island, because it has spe-
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cialist requirements in order to do the testing that's required to identify for those purposes. I would be very surprised if not just your district but all the districts in the north weren't underidentified in that sense just from a lack of the resource to do that.
J. Rustad: Thank you for the presentation. I found the stat of the kindergarten enrolment encouraging, in that we're going to see some more students come into the system. Unfortunately, though, we've got a lot more enrolment declines cooked in the system with 650,000 kids. Divide that by 13 grades, including K, and that's about 50,000, and we're only taking in 35,000 at this point. A decade out that would only bring in 43,000. So that means there's a lot more enrolment decline, unfortunately, that is in the books for that decade.
The question I actually had for you — it was sparked by the question that Don had — is…. You suggested: "Okay, so we need to put in additional dollars." As a former trustee, I know the education system. If there are additional dollars, I know there are other things and more things that the education system would like to do.
You mention that we're going to have to look at additional taxes to be able to fill that. Could you give me a breakdown as to where those taxes should come from — whether it should be personal taxes, whether it should come from corporate taxes, whether it should come from sales tax or other types? How would you go about raising those dollars?
L. Kuehn: The BCTF hasn't taken a position on specific taxes, so I would only be presenting my personal views on that. I'm representing the BCTF at this stage, so I can't really give you that kind of breakdown.
J. Rustad: The only reason why I asked that is that today we pay about $5.7 billion in personal taxes, and $1.5 billion would represent roughly a 25 percent increase in personal income taxes if that's where it were to come from.
But it would be interesting if BCTF could do some work on that and maybe make some suggestions as to where those dollars could come from. That would be great.
L. Kuehn: It would probably be useful to have a royal commission on these issues to look at things.
J. Les (Chair): God forbid.
J. van Dongen: Just a quick question, Larry. The chart on page 4 was interesting. It was interesting to see what was up, what was down. Just maybe a comment on gifted students — why the numbers were down as much as they are. Any thoughts on that?
L. Kuehn: They're down because there has just been much less identification. That's really a function of the fact that there is no additional funding for gifted students. Even in the provisions of Bill 33, when it talks about students with special needs, it excludes gifted students in particular. So if you identify the students as having special needs and having an IEP, you must provide that service. There really isn't the capacity to provide the service, so people are essentially making a value choice and saying that these other needs are greater and that we're going to have to put the resources in those, not into additional resources particularly.
J. van Dongen: So you don't think that the actual numbers are necessarily down…
L. Kuehn: Not at all.
J. van Dongen: …and that the standard was applied equally.
L. Kuehn: That's right.
J. Les (Chair): All right. Thank you very much for coming this evening.
I think our next two presenters want to switch around, so Mr. Burtnick will present next.
R. Burtnick: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for the opportunity. It was sunny out here in Surrey today. It's God's country. It rains at night. We're a little bit early, but it rains at night out here.
I have a sort of different perspective. I've been 38 years in the insurance business. I deal with a lot of business people — farms, first-aid areas. I have also owned a coffee shop up in Dawson Creek for the last couple of years, so I've had a chance to get a different perspective of the north. It's been very interesting serving coffee up there for a couple of weeks every summer when I go up there, but this last summer in particular.
Some ideas I'd like you to consider for the budget committee.
(1) Discrepancies for northern B.C. residents. Our province is dependent upon natural resources throughout B.C., but the cost of living and everyday expenses are high. Consider an incentive for B.C. residents — a lower gas price or lower Hydro or a rebate provided for individuals working in opening up our resource areas. For example, Dawson Creek is growing, but rent was $3,000 a month and $2,500 a month for a three-bedroom of approximately 1,000 square feet.
Northern residents need big vehicles for work and survival, because winters are bitter up there. They should get some kind of a tax break, if possible.
(2) Family doctors. Encourage walk-in clinics. Three or more doctors can get breaks on weekends. In the
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remote areas outside of Vancouver doctors are getting burned out, and there is very little family life. You need a balance in life.
I've got copies, but I don't have enough copies for all of you. I'm sorry.
(3) Get B.C. more involved in the immigration system, like Quebec. Promote immigration programs to encourage outside doctors and health personnel for B.C., but they need to work for five years outside of the Lower Mainland. That way we can help out the different areas throughout the province. A tax incentive could be considered.
(4) Encourage experienced tradespeople to immigrate to B.C. In remote areas there's a shortage of workers and apprenticeship programs. The baby boomers are retiring. Tax incentives should be considered. Encourage more processed, value-added product production in B.C. than exporting raw resources.
(5) Agriculture lands for B.C. food consumption — tax incentives to encourage production and B.C. self-sufficiency but penalties if property is taken out of farm business and developed or sold. Huge acres of land are here that are not being farmed, to try and show they are unfarmable and moved out of the ALR to reap rewards in selling out of the ALR.
Taxes should be levied on those who buy the land and hold but not farm it. How come B.C.'s softwood industry has had tax levies but the USA is dumping many agriculture products into Canada?
(6) Tourism B.C. should work with all levels of government to encourage travel throughout B.C. For example, Tumbler Ridge had over 300 prehistoric exhibits, and it could be another Tyrrell Museum, as we have in Drumheller. Who goes to Drumheller? They go to the Tyrrell Museum, because it's a phenomenal museum.
There's no promotion, same as the WAC Bennett dam — little promotion. Look at each district area for sites and develop circle tours to help encourage tourists. Keep "Super, natural B.C.," not "The best place on earth." Where everybody lives is the best place on earth, but super, natural B.C. is super, natural B.C.
(7) Oil and gas pipelines and offshore drilling. Encourage but have safety measures beyond industry standards in place and better-than-industry standards for safety and backup measures in case of emergencies. Deal with the corporations that have exceptional track records for building and dealing with problems. Or if B.C. owns and operates the industry and hires professionals, then we are independent of New York and Chicago business decisions.
(8) Casinos and gambling. Over 80 percent of the funds are being drug laundered, which B.C. governments condone because of inaction.
There is a cost to the public for drugs, and one major area is insurance cost. Over 70 percent of our property claims are a result of individuals with drug and alcohol addictions to provide funds for their habits. Residential-commercial break-ins have financial and emotional stress factors that are beyond…. People feel they've been violated. Some insurers are having trouble renewing their insurance. Not enough dealing with the rehab programs for drug or alcohol offences.
Question: what are the total revenues received from gambling in B.C.? And what is spent on drug, alcohol and gambling addictions? What is going to rehab and dealing with the problems?
(9) If the HST goes, then bring back the PST. But would the businesses get an input tax credit for the PST purchase and expand the PST base?
Side note. In northern British Columbia the B.C. car dealers were very hurt by the HST because the Albertans could not apply for the PST rebate. I was very surprised to see how many Albertans were coming to B.C. to buy vehicles, but now that they couldn't get their PST rebate, it changed around dramatically. It makes a big difference in the small communities up north.
That's all I have to say. Thank you very much for the opportunity to give this information from all over the province.
N. Letnick: I actually thought you were going to do a top ten there. I was waiting for No. 10.
R. Burtnick: No, I'm not into Letterman, sorry.
N. Letnick: I won't get into all your issues, just one. By the way, the number is about $1.1 billion right now, in gaming money. You said 70 percent of it is being money laundered.
R. Burtnick: It's 80 percent, actually, and that was from the police. I'd mentioned it to Rich Coleman, and he said, "No, no, no," but I had undercover police come to me who mentioned it after — that it was 80 percent. I've actually had a chance to talk to some of the head supervisors of the cashiers in the casinos, and they're telling me big time. I said 70; they said that no, it's 80.
N. Letnick: Okay, so this is anecdotal information. You don't have anything to substantiate the 80 percent.
R. Burtnick: No, I don't have the cheques just showing it over $10,000. And now they can take the Great Canadian Casino to the bank and say: "Aren't we lucky?"
B. Ralston: I was going to ask the same question.
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Hi. Thanks for your presentation, that whole bunch of ideas — worth hearing about, for sure.
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I have a question for you that wasn't on your list. You mentioned the north, and I'm from Stikine in the north. You mentioned your background in the insurance business. One of them that might have been on your list that I'd like to get your perspective on is....
I've had many businesses in the more remote rural communities who depend on some kinds of adventure tourism for part of their revenue. You know, people cobble together ways to make a living to stay where they are up there. They've mentioned to me about the difficulties they've found lately, especially in the last few years, of trying to find insurance for those kinds of higher-risk seasonal events.
They're not getting huge volumes of people, so they can't necessarily put that cost directly onto their clients, but they are getting enough volume to remain living in rural areas. I think you'd agree that we need more people living in rural areas to drive the economy up there.
Is there any kind of insight you can give into how the insurance industry might be able to accommodate the needs of those businesses?
R. Burtnick: I would take a look at it on an association basis, because the fellow in the Stikine area is a lot the same as the guy in Prince Rupert that's doing the drop lines or the bungee jumping or the river rafting or whatever. I'd take a look at it on an association basis, because this is something that's going to have to go, like, to Lloyds of London.
For instance, I just did a tox-free waste burning, and it was toxic materials and everything. I got insurance for it, liability insurance. You'd think: "Hello, it's ripped up."
There are markets out there, but you have to get all the information and help the underwriters know the risk, what's actually involved here, because you could pay a $1,000 premium, but if you've got a $1 million claim, it's a lot different.
That's what I would suggest, anyways. Work with somebody that was prepared to work with the association. Help out. Get the exposures, and help out and try and break it down so that those ten groups can have a combined pooled rate.
B. Routley: On your point No. 7, you talk about dealing with corporations that have exceptional track records, and then you go on to say "or B.C. owns and operates industry and hires professionals." What were you thinking of there? What kind of businesses were you thinking that the province should be in?
R. Burtnick: Under oil and gas, you control your safety and your methods of doing business. You'd go to professionals and say: "This is my guideline that I prefer." For instance, in Hong Kong they have rapid transit. In Hong Kong it did not cost the residents any money at all, because the country expropriated all the land around the centres — the SkyTrain stations, call it — and each one of those developments paid for the whole thing.
They have a Metrotown — underground. It's incredible. Then they have all these towers above it. They developed everything else, and through the developers…. It paid for all the costs of the transit system, which is phenomenal. How many of our SkyTrain stations do you see that we, the residents or the taxpayers, made any money off from having a SkyTrain station at that location? Very, very rare.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. Thanks, Russ.
Our last scheduled presentation is from David Field, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy.
D. Field: You're probably going to wonder why I swapped.
J. Les (Chair): Yes, do tell.
D. Field: Well, what I've done is…. You all have the documents in front of you, and I'm going to actually skip over some paragraphs. What I'm going to do is tell you when I skip, where I'm, say, going back. "Wait, wait. I'm lost." I'll tell you ahead of time.
We're B.C. Citizens for Green Energy. I thank you very much for allowing us to be at the presentation today. My name is David Field, and I'm speaking of behalf of this group. In particular, we would like to speak to the revenue side of the provincial budget and draw attention to the revenue-generating and debt reduction potential that our province's unparalleled abundance of renewable green energy resources could have for the citizens of B.C.
Last March 8 our group released a research report entitled A Triple Legacy for Future Generations: British Columbia's Potential as a Renewable Green Energy Powerhouse, which outlined B.C.'s immense, untapped potential for generating renewable green energy and the substantial revenue that could potentially be generated for the people of B.C. through an effective export policy.
In our report we looked at several widely available estimates of B.C.'s potential for generating renewable green electricity. Based on these, we found that B.C.'s green energy potential could easily be equal to the current clean, renewable generating capacity available from B.C. Hydro's heritage hydroelectric dams and potentially two to three times this amount, if not more.
When the potential from all of the various licences, taxes and fees that independent green energy producers pay to the province — along with the net revenue from B.C. Hydro and Powerex, as a shaping export opportunity for B.C.'s renewable green energy — as well as the carbon credits, offsets and other green attributes inherent in renewable energy sources are brought together, it is con-
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ceivable that revenues in the range of $4.3 billion per year could potentially be realized by the people of B.C.
From a provincial budget perspective it is our group's sincere belief that the public revenue generated by green energy exports could play a major role in wiping out the province's debt and perhaps eventually even replace the revenue being raised from the province's share of the harmonized sales tax.
I should point out that Alberta's debts stood at $22.7 billion only a decade before the province officially became a debt-free province on March 31, 2005. I should also point out that Alberta's debt-free status and the fiscal reserves they were able to set aside left Alberta in a strong position when the global economic downturn occurred, which helped Alberta weather the storm.
Being debt-free has also allowed the Alberta government to save around $1.5 billion in debt-servicing costs, costs that Alberta has been able to redirect to important priorities like health care, education, tax cuts, services and infrastructure.
Just to expand for a moment on the research our group carried out in relation to B.C.'s immense untapped potential for generating renewable green energy, we looked at publicly available information from the electricity and alternative energy division of the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, which showed that B.C. has the potential to generate 36,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, which is more than three times the current generating capacity of B.C. Hydro and the province's independent green energy producers combined.
Just to put that potential generating capacity into perspective, the electricity and alternative energy division estimates that it could generate 143 million megawatt hours of renewable green electricity, enough to power 12.8 million households or 360 large industrial users.
We also looked at potential green energy estimates contained in the June 2009 Western Renewable Energy Zones released by the western renewable energy zones initiative, WREZ, a joint initiative of the Western Governors Association and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Although the data in the WREZ report somewhat underestimates British Columbia's renewable energy potential due to this emphasis on identifying areas of western North America that feature the potential for large-scale development of renewable resources at the utility scale, and they define that as being between 500 megawatts and 1,500 megawatts of total capacity, the WREZ Phase 1 estimates that B.C. has the potential to generate a total of 21,350 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity, nearly doubling B.C.'s current total generating capacity and enough clean, renewable electricity to power nearly 7.5 million households.
We also looked at Pacific Gas and Electric's B.C. Renewable Study Phase 1, from June 20, 2008. Although their estimates are limited to the renewable, green energy–generating capacity that could potentially be in place in B.C. by 2016 rather than an estimate of B.C.'s potential for generating green electricity, we found it to be a useful source for gauging B.C.'s green energy potential.
All combined, the PG&E study estimates that B.C. could have between 8,300 and 17,250 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity-generating capacity available by 2016 from run-of-river, wind, biomass and geothermal sources, potentially doubling, and nearly tripling, British Columbia's current generating capacity, an estimate that is consistent with the other sources we consulted.
It should be noted, however, that in addition to the renewable wind, run-of-river, biomass and geothermal sources we have in abundance here in B.C., we also have significant potential to generate clean, renewable electricity from wave and tidal energy. B.C.'s wave energy potential is estimated to be in the range of 20,000 megawatts, and tidal energy is estimated in the range of 4,000 megawatts.
At this point I would like to speak to the public revenue potential that the immense, renewable green energy–generating capacity that I've noted above could provide for the people of B.C. According to information on the Independent Power Producers Association of B.C. website, approximately 25 percent of revenues from independent green energy producers are paid back as taxes, fees and levies to local, provincial and federal authorities.
Of that 25 percent, 10 to 20 percent returns directly to the B.C. public in the form of water taxes, property taxes, land leases and other fees and levies. The remaining 80 to 90 percent represents corporate income taxes, both federal and provincial, with 37 percent accruing to the provincial government and 63 percent to the federal government.
That is based on an effective provincial corporate tax rate of 11 percent and an effective federal corporate tax rate of 19 percent, which was the case at the time our report was written. This means that B.C.'s green energy resources could potentially generate $790 million in direct new public revenue for each year for the people of this province.
The fees and taxes are not the only source of public revenue that could flow from the development of the export industry. Another source of revenue from the immense green energy resources that would benefit the people of B.C. is the net revenue that B.C. Hydro and Powerex would generate as the entity through which the province's renewable electricity will be marketed and delivered to various export markets, as outlined in the new Clean Energy Act.
As a rough guide for estimating the potential revenue that British Columbia's green energy potential could
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generate though Powerex B.C., we used the average 8.7 percent net income that B.C. Hydro achieved during the two fiscal years previous to the drafting of our report. I should also point out that the amount of received renewable, green electricity used in our calculation was the average value in megawatt hours from the various estimates we consulted.
I should also point out in relation to the revenue that could potentially be generated through Powerex and B.C. Hydro that the net revenue from renewable green energy exports could be much higher than the 8.7 percent noted above, considering the fact that green energy has a premium value. For example, in the case of Quebec and Manitoba, a renewable electricity export yields a much higher rate of return compared to the lower margin seen in domestic electricity sales in those provinces.
Using a net income rate of 8.7 percent as a conservative benchmark, export sales of British Columbia's renewable, clean electricity could potentially yield $560 million yearly for the people of B.C. through B.C. Hydro and Powerex.
The third source of revenue that green energy–generating capacity can potentially provide for the people of the province — and the one that could become increasingly important and monetarily valuable in a low-carbon economy — is the carbon-offsetting value inherent in our renewable, green energy resources. As the committee members may be aware, in the recently concluded B.C. Hydro Clean Power Call, B.C. Hydro stipulated that ownership of all environmental attributes, such as carbon credits, is to vest with B.C. Hydro — which means they own the carbon credits — and could conceivably generate as much as $2.9 billion per year.
I think it's important to point out in this respect that the carbon-offsetting energy credits, typically in the form of renewable energy certificates, are already being bought and sold on a voluntary basis by many U.S. companies, organizations and individuals, according to a recent article in Scientific American magazine, which lists the top 25 U.S. companies and organizations that voluntarily buy substantial green energy credits. Intel, in the No. 1 spot, bought 1.3 million megawatt hours of green energy credits last year, representing 46 percent of the total power they used, enough green energy to power 120,000 U.S. households.
I should point out that there's also a growing market for renewable energy certificates among British Columbia companies, organizations and individuals who want to offset their carbon footprint. Companies like Bullfrog Power buy these green energy credits and sell them to businesses and organizations such as Urban Barn, Fraser Health, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Ethical Bean Coffee Co. and TD Bank Financial Group. Bullfrog customers reported paying two cents per kilowatt hour on top of their regular energy rates, a rate equivalent to $20 per megawatt hour. We're getting there.
However, as the committee members are likely aware, many environmentalists and energy economists, such as Simon Fraser's Mark Jaccard, consider the current price we place on carbon to be too low. That's the report on carbon pricing prepared for the David Suzuki Foundation by Mr. Jaccard and his associates. It was even suggested that a market price for carbon of $75 to $100 or more per tonne could be possible by 2020 to achieve the kind of carbon reductions needed to arrest global climate change.
When you take all the potential sources of public revenue from our province's green energy resources and put them together, they represent a potential yearly revenue stream of $4.3 billion for the people of B.C. — a substantial sum, to be sure, but not an unrealistic one when you consider all the potential public revenue streams.
Looking at B.C.'s debt for a moment, we see that in the budget estimates presented on March 2, 2010, which we used in our Triple Legacy report, the provincial debt for 2010-2011 was forecast to rise to nearly $48 billion, with the taxpayer-supported portion estimated to increase to nearly $34 billion. By 2012-2013 the taxpayer-supported portion of B.C.'s total debt alone is forecast to increase to over $38 billion. We really have to ask ourselves whether this kind of debt is a legacy we want to leave to future generations or whether we want to take steps to reduce or eliminate the debt burden being carried by the province and taxpayers.
I'm going to wrap it up there. You've all got a copy. You can read through the last portion of it.
J. Les (Chair): Thank you very much.
Any questions from anyone?
D. Donaldson (Deputy Chair): Thank you for the presentation. I just had a quick question to clarify. As a citizen advocacy group advocating for a legacy of clean, sustainable electricity, would the people you represent in this advocacy group really have a position on or care whether that clean, sustainable energy was developed through government ownership or private ownership, just as long as it's developed in some way?
D. Field: Nope. As long as it gets built, yeah. We couldn't care who builds it, who funds it, as long as it gets built. We have a vast potential with it.
I just happened to find a really cool link on the B.C. Hydro website. I brought it with me, but I didn't make lots of copies. It shows the potential. It was released in the LTAP report. It goes through all the different types — large hydro and pump storage. The next one is potential small hydro. You can't see it from there, but there are a
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lot of blue dots — 8,000 potential watersheds in B.C. for run of river.
Potential wind energy. Again, it's all in the red. In B.C. we have eight of the 12 windiest locations in Canada — eight. I've heard estimates that there are 15,000 to 20,000 megawatt hours in wind energy alone — huge potential.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. Any further questions?
I don't see any, so thank you very much, David. Thank you for your patience.
D. Field: Well, thank you very much for letting me be here today. I appreciate that.
J. Les (Chair): Okay. With that, we have no further delegations. I see no one else in the audience who wishes to present to the committee, so the committee will adjourn for today. We will reconvene next week, Tuesday afternoon, in Lake Country.
The committee adjourned at 7:29 p.m.
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