1971 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 29th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
MONDAY, MARCH 15, 1971
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The House met at 2:00 p.m.
The Honourable W.K. Kiernan presented to Mr. Speaker two Messages from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.
On the motion of Mr. Kiernan, the following Bills were introduced, read a first time, and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting after today.
Bill (No. 66) intituled All-terrain Vehicles Act.
Bill (No. 67) intituled An Act to Amend the Wildlife Act.
The Honourable R.G. Williston presented to Mr. Speaker a Message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Govern or.
On the motion of Mr. Williston, Bill (No. 68) intituled An Act to Amend the Forest Act was introduced, read a first time, and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting after today.
On the motion of the Honourable L.R. Peterson, the following Bills were introduced, read a first time, and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting after today.
Bill (No. 70) intituled An Act to Amend the Police and Prisons Regulation Act.
Bill (No. 69) intituled An Act to Amend the Jury Act.
On the motion of the Honourable R.G. Williston, Bill (No. 72) intituled, An Act to Amend the Land Act was introduced, read a first time, and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting after today.
On the motion of Mr. R. Wenman, Bill (No. 84) intituled An Act for the Establishment of Agricultural Parkland was introduced, read a first time, and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading at the next sitting after today.
On the motion of the Honourable W.A.C. Bennett, the House proceeded to the Order "Public Bills and Orders."
HON. W.A.C. BENNETT (South Okanagan): Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to advise the House, as House Leader, I want to ask the House, to not sit on Wednesday night, since it's the 17th of Ireland. I just mention this, so that Members can make their necessary arrangements to celebrate a very important day.
Second reading of Bill No. 5, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 5. An Act to Amend the School District and Regional Colleges (Pensions) Act. The Honourable the Provincial Secretary.
HON. W.D. BLACK (Nelson-Creston): Well, Mr. Speaker, the principles outlined in other bills before the House on Friday afternoon are the same here. If I might enumerate them, briefly, the principles in this act make provisions for the shortening of the averaging period which is presently ten years to that of seven years, the present $12,500 per annum contribution salary ceiling has been removed, early retirement benefits have been improved and the act applies to every college or college council, in respect to the eligibility of faculty and senior administrative staff. The same other principles, as I said, cut across the others. Those are the main ones. There are some housekeeping amendments as well, along with the bill. I have pleasure in moving second reading, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for New Westminster.
MR. D.G. COCKE (New Westminster): Mr. Speaker, on Friday last, we had a fairly long discussion on one of the other three bills that the Minister is speaking about. The bill in front of us now is Bill 5 and it has improved the pension prospect of teachers and other employees of regional colleges. The one problem that I can see ... we certainly are very happy to see that the ceiling has been removed, we're also extremely happy to see that we're using the 2 per cent formula and also early retirement, etc.
One great problem, I believe, in all of these bills, however, is the fact that the Government is not giving the kind of leadership that I think that they should with regard to the future of portability. Now portability has been a feature in other Provinces and I was thinking that, within all of these bills, because of the fact that the Government is the carrier, it would strike me that there should be more access. Now, there is some access to portability, but it isn't the pure portability that it could be, as if in fact, they were interchangeable, so to speak. In other words, you were allowed to carry on as a municipal employee and go from that to the other areas. As far as those already retired, that doesn't affect this bill very much because of the fact that this bill was only enacted in 1968, in the first place. With that, our Party endorses this bill and we hope that there are some amendments in the future to give them a greater degree of portability.
MR. BLACK: Mr. Speaker, in rising to close the debate on this, may 1, through you, inform the honourable Member that built right into this bill is instant portability from day one. Instant portability from day one. It's built right into this piece of legislation. Furthermore, in connection with others, portability does, in fact, exist between the various plans that the honourable gentleman has mentioned. Mr. Speaker, I move that the bill be read a second time.
Motion agreed to.
Bill 5 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
MR. BENNETT: Second reading of Bill 6, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 6, An Act to Amend the Members of the Legislative Assembly Superannuation Act. The Honourable the Provincial Secretary.
MR. BLACK: Again, Mr. Speaker, the same principles cut across this bill as cut across other bills, that have been mentioned heretofore. Further, the honourable Members are quite well aware that certain things have taken place. To mention one, there has been a new Leader of the Opposition so, as a consequence, that section of the act would have to be amended, in any case. The same averaging principles and so on cut across this bill as they do others. I have the honour to
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move second reading, Mr. Speaker.
Motion agreed to.
Bill 6 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
MR. BENNETT: Second reading of Bill 7, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 7, An Act to Amend the Public Service Group Insurance Act. The Honourable the Provincial Secretary.
MR. BLACK: This bill, Mr. Speaker, although not strictly speaking a pension bill, nevertheless, is related to the pension bill. The purpose of the bill is to extend group life insurance coverage available to Government employees, who contribute under part 2 of the Civil Service Superannuation Act. It's obvious, Mr. Speaker, that, because the Civil Service Superannuation Act is before the House as Bill 28, then, obviously, this type of amendment has to take place in order to bring the Public Service Group Insurance Act up to the amendments of that bill. It is strictly housekeeping, in that sense. I move second reading.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. D. BARRETT (Coquitlam): Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Minister could inform the House as to who is the carrier of this insurance, who is the original salesman for the insurance, and whether or not such insurance comes up for periodic bid?
MR. BLACK: In closing the debate, Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to do that.
M1;L SPEAKER: The Honourable the Minister will close the debate.
MR. BLACK: The carrier is the Great-West Life Assurance Company. The proposal was open for bid. Great-West Life Assurance Company was the successful bidder. I move second reading. I think two years ago, was it not? The answer is no, then.
Motion agreed to.
Bill 7 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
MR. BENNETT: Second reading of Bill No. 45, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 45, An Act to Amend the Community Care Facilities Licensing Act. The Honourable the Minister of Health Services and Hospital Insurance.
HON. R.R. LOFFMARK (Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, heretofore, the administration of private hospitals has been under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health Services and Hospital Insurance. On the other hand, a wide variety of community care facilities, such as nursing homes, rest homes, maternity homes, boarding homes and so on have fallen under the jurisdiction of the Department of Rehabilitation. This has, on occasion, caused some inconvenience to the public in that it's not always clear, when enquiries have been made, as to whether they should direct their enquiries to the Department of Health Services or to the Department of Rehabilitation. I think, too, that on occasions, there have been difficulties in achieving uniformity in respect to rates and so on. The effect of this bill is to gather under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health Services and Hospital Insurance the community care facilities' licensing procedures which, heretofore, have been with the Department of Rehabilitation. The act defines, with some degree of particularity, the type of accommodation which is intended to be dealt with. It also has in it a number of provisions substituting the words, Minister of Health, where, heretofore, has been, Minister of Rehabilitation. Then, there is a provision at the end validating various transactions by the Minister of Rehabilitation during the period of transfer. The appropriate financial provisions have been made in the two departments. I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for New Westminster.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, the bill is welcome in that it transfers the obligation from one department to another as it would seem to us that the Health Department could probably do a better job of supervising than has the Welfare Department, in the past, by virtue of the fact that there are more health groups being afforded this kind of supervision concerned here. Now, we feel that, in the past, there has been very little or no inspection. We would hope that, in the future, there will be some kind of inspection under this kind of bill and that there will be something new added and that the community care facilities will be supervised properly. In the past, there has been a very definite move with regard to opting out as far as community care facilities has been concerned with this Government. We've known, for some time, that there's been a great need for the kind of rest home facility that would relieve the hospitals, that is, the extended care and the chronic care facilities that we have, and also, indirectly would help the acute care hospitals. What this bill might do is that it might get the Government off the hook still further in that they might feel that, now that they're supervising this under the Health Department, no longer do they have to worry about providing these facilities. All they have to do is let the private sector, that is, the corporate group and also private individuals, start up their own little empires.
Mr. Speaker, we feel very definitely that this is an obligation of the Government, particularly with regard to all of the phases of chronic care. I recognize that there is extended care and there is intermediate care and one thing and another, but we're thinking in terms of the general chronic care situation.
Mr. Speaker, we would hope that the Department of Welfare, having been taken off the hook, can now deal with its work more efficiently. We would hope that the Health Care Division will deal with this and also go on about creating a great many more beds for those chronically in need of beds, those people who are called extended care patients in this Province.
MR- SPEAKER: The Honourable the Leader of the
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MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I endorse the remarks of the Member from New Westminster, who has done a great deal of study in this particular area and has found that the Provincial Government has been extremely lacking in providing the facilities that may be supervised by this bill. I have some fears I wish to express to the Minister in that this bill, in my opinion, has been politically inspired. There has been glaring errors in this Government's policy in not incorporating these areas of service. In an attempt to make it appear that the Government is entering these fields, it is shifting something that already exists and is not being administered in the Department of Welfare to the Department of Health, where it may not be administered there, either.
The Member from Oak Bay has pointed out, time and time again, the lack of facilities of chronic care and rest homes. There's been a misinterpretation given to this bill by the press that, by introducing this bill, the Government is making a first, halting step towards providing rest home service and chronic care service. That's not so, Mr. Speaker, this bill is just transferring something that already exists and is not being administered in the Department of Welfare, to the Department of Health, where it won't be administered, either. The Minister will have to get up and say what will be done with the staff in the Department of Welfare. Will they be transferred to the Department of Health? The Minister must tell this House what he intends to do, in terms of recruiting staff, or does the Minister expect to get the staff that already exists to do this from the Department of Welfare?
The Department of Welfare has not done a good job in inspection and, if you read the bill closely, and we expect some detailed discussion in the committee, it says in the explanatory note, section 9, - . . . clarifying the right of inspection of suspected community care facilities and those operating without a license or permits." What do you mean by "suspected?" Suspected by whom of what"
Now this bill was hastily drawn, in my opinion. It doesn't provide anything brand new, but it gives the illusion that, somehow, all those complaints that all of us have received, as M.L.A.s, about certain practices in rest homes are going to be corrected. I don't think there's a Member in this House that, under this bill, hasn't already received complaints. What do we know in terms of follow-up? Is a suspicion a complaint -a suspicion of what, by whom, where and how? Now, I ask the Minister to tell us exactly what he intends to do under this bill that's different, that has not been done by the Department of Welfare? What is his long-term goal with this bill? What is his policy? What is his philosophy? What is the purpose? I suspect it's nothing more than shifting one thing that already exists to another Department, just to give the illusion that something new is going to be done.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Yale-Lillooet.
MR. W.L. HARTLEY (Yale-Lillooet): I'd like to pursue a little further the point the Leader of the Opposition has raised. This, certainly, could leave considerable scope. I'm not sure that the Government intends it that way. I hope that they do but this very topic, community care facility, opens the door to a far greater measure of public health and preventative health care than what we have, heretofore, known. In other parts of America, there are preventative health groups that operate under that very name. Here, they hire a whole staff of the various medical professions and the various ancillary services and, where these groups are allowed to practice full and free in their professional orbit, we find that, not only are the hospital patient days reduced to less than one third of our B.C. average, but also the number of operations that are made, in a great many cases, is reduced to one third or one quarter of what we are doing in B.C. When we realize that our Provincial Budget is over one fifth of a billion dollars in this field, I hope, through you, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister will very seriously consider extending this facility into the realm of preventative medicine.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Oak Bay.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested that this bill changes nothing and I think that that's correct, in terms of the scope of service. I interpret this bill as a step in the right direction, but I would agree with the Honourable Leader of the Opposition that it does nothing to make the Government responsible for either providing a wider scope of service or putting up money which is presently being put up by the individual patient. I don't think the House or the public of British Columbia need be in any doubt about that, but the reason I'm optimistic is that this represents a progressive step. It revolves around the fact that what we are doing so badly in providing facilities in British Columbia is related to providing the proper level of care which the patient requires.
If we look at this bill, it defines community care facilities as being several different levels of care. As I've said, many times in this House, and certainly many times publicly, the biggest waste of money that anybody could imagine in our health facilities in British Columbia arises from the fact that we are providing levels of care in very expensive facilities, when the care required by the patient could be provided in much simpler surroundings, with less expensive staff and less expensive facilities. I would hope that, by bringing the administration of all these different levels of care under one Minister, we could enhance the efficiency of the programme and, having set up an efficient administrative vehicle, I would hope this means, and I would plead with the Government that it does mean, that, within the very near future, we shall be aiming at two very specific goals under this type of bill -one to provide an adequate number of appropriate levels of care. I don't think this can possibly be overemphasized that this kind of bill should make it possible to administer a much more comprehensive programme of care for all patients at different levels of need. Secondly, that following on this goal, I hope, will be a measure of social justice, which will not differentiate between the methods by which Government assists patients with different levels of illness. I've said it many times and I think it must be repeated, ad nauseam until acted upon, that it is a complete negation of social justice that certain patients, depending on the degree of their illness, are looked after by the State and that other levels of illness are totally neglected. I deplore this as an individual and I deplore it as an M.L.A. I would hope, with the strongest encouragement possible, to ask this Government to initiate, at the earliest moment, provision of a wider scope of the facilities covered under this bill and, as soon as possible, the financing of such care, so that the patient using the community care facilities is treated on a par with acute and extended care patients.
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MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Burnaby Edmonds.
MR- G.H. DOWDING (Burnaby-Edmonds): Mr. Speaker, the definition, community care facility, is really a misnomer. There's nothing about the community involved. These are private facilities, operated for a profit. This Government, having failed to take its responsibility to the ill and those who are infirm, in regard to public care facilities, has the temerity to use the words, community care, in regard to these private facilities that are purported to be regulated by this bill, and the one of which this is the heir.
The difficulty is that, when private nursing homes or other facilities of a similar kind, like rest homes, are functioning as a private, profit-making organization, subject to Government control, inspection and licensing, the Government has a tremendous power over that facility, which it can use and abuse. For example, it can put upon those operators the duty of caring for patients or infirm people, who are unable to pay the normal rates. The Government, by using the threat of licensing privileges, can withdraw the license privileges if the facility doesn't take a certain number of welfare patients. This particular matter has arisen. There was a great deal of threatening going on, threatening of these private operators. I really don't think it is the right business of Government to engage in this kind of campaign of threats and coercion of private enterprise operators.
It seems to me the proper course to follow is to declare this out of limits for private profit and for the Government to take a proper responsibility for the care of all patients in need of rest homes or private hospitals or any other facilities of intermediate or long-term stay. That's why this bill is so unsatisfactory, because it has hidden, within the phrases and terms of the legislation, a continuing threat to the existing operators. Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, this can be abused. It has been abused.
I recall one case that went to Court, where a license was taken away on what was a suspicion of an operator not carrying on the business properly in terms of elderly patients. That was set aside by the Supreme Court because it was obvious that the department, the inspectors, had not acted properly and they were censured quite severely by the Court for their conduct. The matter was reopened and the license restored, but a year and a half went by, apparently, during which this operator was, really, operating without a license. Reprisals - economic and licensing - reprisals are built into this legislation. It will always be so, providing this Government fails in its own responsibility to assume the jurisdiction and control and operation of these facilities, so that they can, truly, be community care facilities instead of private profit on human misery.
Now, what is the result of this type of legislation? It's true it's useful having the Health Department taking over the responsibility, because I hope that they will be more familiar with the problems of health that relate to these facilities. For instance, the problem of proper nursing care available, the problem of bed sores, which is a continuing problem with old people, who are unable to get out of bed part of the day, the problem of adequate food and seeing that older people eat the proper food; these things that inspection staffs have to be alert to all the time. What concerns me is that, when you have operators trying to cut corners to either make a profit or even break even, sometimes, when they have a larger number of welfare patients amongst their clientele, there is a downgrading of the diet of those people who are patients. We get complaints from time to time. I imagine nearly every Member gets complaints about some nursing home or some long-stay convalescent home or similar institution. Now, how do you meet this problem, if the Government is not prepared to pay a reasonable rate on a bed-patient basis or, alternatively, going to take responsibility for its own programme?
You have merely perpetuated a problem that is hard to solve, so far as the private operator is concerned. Now, local staffs, in my own municipality, do a very good job of inspecting these facilities and, if they find anything wrong, they immediately get in touch with the Provincial authorities on the problem, but many areas don't necessarily have that kind of alertness in their inspection staffs, or, indeed, the people trained to do a proper inspection from time to time of these facilities.
I would appreciate knowing from the Minister whether he proposes that the inspection staffs that he will be using are merely a transfer of staff from the Welfare and Rehabilitation Department, or are they going to be his own trained health people to do the job? The bill, from our point of view, as I see it, is sort of a neutral bill. It doesn't do a great deal, but it doesn't do any harm, other than the harm that is already in the legislation as it exists, today, which some time or another this Government has got to face and change.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the First Member for Vancouver East.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): Mr. Speaker, the Minister, under this bill and under the general powers of his office, has the powers of a czar, so far as the life savings of many families in British Columbia are concerned. The question whether somebody goes into a convalescent care hospital, when they have to and pay $400 or $500 a month, or whether they're given a bed, and there are a few such beds in the Province of B.C., now, under BCHIS, in a chronic care facility, say, in Surrey, or, if the conditions warrant it, out in Valleyview, and pay a $1 or a $1.50 a day, the difference between those people and the people I'm talking about whose life savings have been consumed ... now, maybe, they won't be able to enjoy them. Their families might have had the right to those life savings passed on. I know of a case where a couple have been pretty well incapacitated, partly through age, partly through illness, and they are each paying, at these private hospital rates, over $400 a month and their life savings, laboriously built up, of $26,000 have gone down the drain to date. They're both alive. What little they have left is still being drained off and they leave nothing to their families.
Who decides whether that couple gets BCHIS treatment, favourable treatment, or who decides whether their life savings shall be wiped out by chronic illness over a period of years?
The Minister of Health makes that decision and he has the powers of a czar, because of the kind of a set-up that has built up in this Province, to make decisions of the utmost consequence to the families of the people of British Columbia who run into this kind of illness and old age. Of course, there's only one answer, Mr. Minister, and that is that you simply have to provide. You can't go on like this, distinguishing and drawing these kinds of distinctions between different people, suffering from the same things -of illness or old age, in the Province of B.C. and decreeing to them, in the one case, your life savings shall be consumed by the private hospital operators and, in another case, you'll get
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a break from the public hospital system. It can't go on. It's far too much power in the hands of any one man to decide between the Jones family and the Smith family as to whether the Jones children or the Smith children shall be left penniless. It's as simple as that.
Now, in addition, there are, and I'm not sure of the exact number - I think we have licensed in B.C., under this act, about 19 chronic care hospitals, including Sandringham ... It's one of the greatest tragedies in the history of B.C., you know, if you look back at the last 15 or 20 years of this Government, that they have awarded to the private hospital operators, and a very limited group it has been, I think, the number is 19, but I could be wrong in the number, what was really a tremendous privilege, what was really a right to make money out of human illness and sickness. These people put up the private hospitals in the 1950's and 1960's, at the most at about $2,000 per bed in terms of cost. If you went to them today, Mr. Minister, and said we should revoke this license and bring it under the public hospital system and pay you off for your investment, they'd be demanding, at least, $12,000 or $15,000 a bed, today. In the meantime, they've paid off their mortgages, sometimes, with social welfare but, mostly, out of the suffering public of B.C. at $400 or $500 a month. We have made them rich and they have coined. . . the private hospital operators have coined money out of the human suffering and illness of the families of B.C.
Now, I think the Minister's policy is no more licenses. We have enough. They've been highly favoured, they have had, in effect, from this Government, the right to get rich. They are ready to sell their hospitals, if need be, at the right price back to the people of B.C., but, boy, that will be some mark-up! We say no more licenses for chronic care facilities, cut them off and from now on let the taxpayers do the job.
In the meantime, we have had a little class of private hospital operators, who have benefited enormously in the last 15 or 20 years at the expense of human suffering and old age and the chronic illness of families of B.C. who, in most cases, have had nothing, whatsoever, to leave to their children after their sojourns in these private hospitals.
What you have, Mr. Minister, is an impasse. You can't go on being a czar and picking and choosing among people, and you can't allow this private hospital thing to go on, anymore. You may not be wise to buy out these private hospitals, but you'd certainly be wise to provide the facilities so that people will be able to get out of them and not pay their exorbitant rates. Why should there be profiteering in human misery and illness? What has profiteering got to do with chronic care and old age and illness? Nothing. If it's to be outside of the realm of Government, at least, it should have been nonprofit, co-operative societies. This is what we've done in B.C. and it is one of the blackest marks on that Government opposite that they have allowed profiteering out of illness. Don't buy out these wealthy, favoured private hospital profiteers, but provide the facilities and do it quickly, so that those in need, whether its acute illness or whether its chronic makes no difference - they are entitled to the consideration, in a Christian way, of all of the people of B.C. on equal and fair terms applicable to all.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Minister will close the debate.
MIL LOFFMARK: In respect of the inspection staff that has been administering some of these community care facilities under the Department of Rehabilitation, we're in the process of transferring the personnel to the Department of Health. They will come under the direction of our chief inspector of hospitals.
Now, on the matter of the expression in which the Minister of Health is described as a czar, on this point I think, there's a couple of observations that might be made. First of all, the definition of extended care, as it applies to these facilities in this Province, is a matter that's determined by agreement between the British Columbia Government and the Federal Government. This is the same in all Provinces. The Federal Government has a standard contract form, or one that's, generally speaking, the same. It's the same in this Province as any place else, so that whether a person is qualified for extended care is determined in accordance with an agreement between this Province and the Federal Government. As I say, the terms of this agreement are not substantially different than they are in any other Province.
The second point is that, in each and every case, before a person is admitted to an extended care hospital, he is so recommended by his attending physician, who fills in a complete set of questionnaires on this matter. In the Department of British Columbia Hospital Insurance Service, there are three qualified medical doctors, who spend a very large part of their time assessing the individuals concerned. To the best of my knowledge, every person, who is in an extended care hospital in this Province, had been approved for this service by one of these medical practitioners on the staff of the B.C. Hospital Insurance Service. If there are any exceptions to that, I would like to hear of them (interruption).
No, the suggestion went abroad, here, a few minutes ago, that the Minister had some discretion in this matter. I most emphatically deny that. As evidence of that, I refer you to the agreement between the Provincial Government and the Federal Government. I also refer you to the practice of the British Columbia Hospital Insurance Service, where these matters are decided by three doctors. To the best of my knowledge, there was only one case where the Minister has been involved and that involved a 99-year-old man in Nelson. That's the only one. I move second reading.
Motion agreed to.
Bill 45 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
MR. BENNETT: Second reading of Bill 47, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 47, An Act to Amend the Public Schools Act. The Honourable the Minister of Education.
HON. D.L. BROTHERS (Rossland-Trail): Mr. Speaker, on speaking on this bill, times change and so do the organizational needs of systems. The bill before the House, today, contains the most extensive set of revisions to the Public Schools Act since 1958, and it reflects these facts. As well as proposing legislation, it will enable a major revision in the structure of the Department of Education. the bill also proposes several significant and far-reaching changes in some of the major details of the public schools system.
It is not without some regret that we see the time-honoured title of Superintendent of Education disappear. Students of the history of education in British
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Columbia are well aware of the major role played by the many excellent educators who have filled this position, commencing with John Jessup in 1872 and concluding with that outstanding educator, Frank Levirs. But we realized that the position was established in an age when the average daily attendance of the entire school system was under 600 and could be operated under a single superintendent who reported directly to the Legislature. The new organization consists of a Deputy Minister, with several senior superintendents of major divisions. It is, obviously, the one most suited to today's need for rapid decisions. It will enable unity of overall planning, with a number of people skilled in various areas to advise on policy and apply decisions to their own areas of concern.
A second historic term will also disappear and that is the Council of Public Instruction. The council originated in 1891, some 30 years before the Department of Education was established, and consisted of the Members of the Government meeting with the superintendent as their secretary. Today, it is the Executive Council that considers those items that require major Government decisions. The act will now clearly show this. Changes in these two aspects, alone, have required amendments to over 60 sections of the act.
Grade 13, formerly known as senior matriculation, is another term to vanish from the act. From its beginning in 1899, when there was not even a university in British Columbia, the practice of offering, in high schools, courses accepted in lieu of first-year university work served our Province well. Senior matriculation classes grew until in June, 1965, there were 3,600 students enrolled in these classes. With the rapid development of universities and with the development of the Institute of Technology and the colleges, enrolment has steadily dwindled until, in September of last year, there were only 343 students on a full-time basis. The cost of revising the courses, the impractibility of continuing to improve the necessary facilities, when better alternatives were available, and the difficulty experienced in co-coordinating these programmes with the requirements of four universities led to our decision to eliminate it. However, apart from colleges and other institutions, we will continue to provide grade 13 by correspondence until June, 1972, to permit those who have started grade 13 courses to complete them.
I am also very fully aware of the contribution to education made by school boards and individual school trustees of British Columbia. They are, as laymen, actively involved with the development and operation of the schools in their districts, central to the concepts of the public school system that can respond to the wishes of the people. I've also welcomed suggestions from the trustees and have, during the past two years, personally visited nearly all our school districts to become better acquainted with their concerns. This bill incorporates several of the major requests of school boards and the B.C. School Trustees' Association, including provisions, by which our first citizens may more readily qualify for office, a revision in the period of limitation regarding legal action against boards, clarification of procedures concerning negotiation of salary agreements, a more equitable basis of payment of part-time teachers, provisions for college councils to provide, without the necessity of leasing, semi permanent buildings and equipment that will be needed for newly established colleges, and further elimination of any remaining controls by municipal authorities over school board budgets and expenditures.
During the course of my visits to the various school districts, and knowing that major revisions would be made to the Public Schools Act, I was interested to hear the comments of students, teachers, parents and school board representatives. Many teachers, for example, asked me why it was required by law to belong to an association in order to teach in the Province? On taking a close look at the situation, I have concluded that it costs the taxpayers of the Province in excess of $25,000 to have a person graduate as a teacher from our university system. Upon graduation and upon being fully qualified to teach, according to our requirements, the Department of Education issues a certificate authorizing a teacher to teach in the Province. It seems incongruous, therefore, that, after having qualified and certified by the Department of Education, a teacher should be compelled to belong to some other organization before having the right to teach within the Province. This bill, therefore, makes provision that membership in the B.C. Teachers' Federation, or any other association of teachers, shall not be a condition of employment of a teacher by a board.
To avoid confusion among the voters caused by different requirements in municipal and school district elections on questions, this Government has established the policy that, insofar as practical, the Public Schools Act should parallel the Municipal Act. Amendments, this year, carry this policy into effect in two more sections and also adjust the dates for rural meetings to ensure the availability of up-to-date voters' lists. Consistent with our urging of boards to involve the people of school districts and school affairs is the provision that, provided 60 per cent of the qualified electors vote, a simple majority will be sufficient to carry a question.
During the past year, the department's attention was drawn to the fact that it could not provide information to boards concerning a teacher, who had been suspended, or whose mental or physical capacity might be injurious to a child. Amendments are introduced to correct this situation.
The conditions under which substitute teachers may be employed, without the necessity of obtaining a certificate or letter of permission, have been revised but protection of pupils against any extensive use of uncertified personnel has been maintained.
Mr. Speaker, as the House is aware, the question of matters relating to teacher tenure has been referred to the Select Standing Committee on Social Welfare and Education. I expect that, following the receipt of the report from the committee, suitable amendments to bring about desirable changes in the tenure conditions and appeal procedures will be introduced. Also I have amendments on the Order Paper to repeal section 25 of Bill 47 and I will bring to the attention of the Speaker that, upon this happening, we will also be repealing section 82 of section 47 which will no longer be required. The bill will further improve the basic framework within which the Department of Education can operate. Mr. Speaker, 1, therefore, move that the bill now be read a second time.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Burnaby North.
MRS. E.E. DAILLY (Burnaby North): Mr. Speaker, we completely oppose this bill.
AN HON. MEMBER: Completely.
MRS. DAILLY: Completely, yes, because we're very
[ Page 681 ]
concerned about two major things, here. One is that we feel a very dangerous precedent is taking place in this bill and something, I think, that has escaped many people. It hasn't come quite to their attention and we want to make it very clear, today, that it has come to our attention. This is what our concern is. Inherent in this bill is the whole theme of centralization of authority under the hands of the Minister of Education. As a matter of fact, with the removal of the word, superintendent, and the word, minister, in its place, in essence, this bill is turning the Minister from a political figure into a professional educator. We consider this highly dangerous for the educational processes of this Province. You are going to take upon yourself many of the functions which previously were given to the superintendent, which means, in essence, that you are also, now, taking upon yourself the right to control educational programmes as well as educational expenditures.
I don't think that there is any other department of this Government which gives a Minister as much power in his department as the present Statutes which you are proposing will give you. I think this is a point which must be seriously thought about by all Members in this House.
We are also very concerned with the removal of the automatic membership from the BCTF. Now, Mr. Minister, you say that you had a couple of hundred teachers phone you to talk to you or write to you about their concern over having to ...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's a growing tendency in the House for honourable Members to address other Members in the House rather than the Chair.
MRS. DAILLY: I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if honourable Members would address the Chair.
MRS. DAILLY: I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker. Through you, Mr. Speaker, we understand that the reasons for this removal of the automatic membership, Mr. Speaker, was because the Honourable Minister had received a number of complaints from several hundred teachers. At the same time, the Minister said that, when he brought in this legislation, great consideration and consultation took place. I would like to know if any consultation, at any time, took place with the BCTF, with reference to removal of their automatic membership.
This is a very serious step this Government has taken, without any consultation with the B.C. Teachers' Federation. The people who are primarily concerned were not consulted - just a number of people who happened to contact the Minister. We consider this action an entirely punitive action. The B.C. Teachers' Federation has had a history in this Province of being a highly professional organization. Much of their membership dues has been put into the professional advancement and the cause of education in this Province. As a matter of fact, there has been so little put into research by the Government that we must thank the teachers of British Columbia for their efforts in this area. Yet, by removing their automatic membership, what you are doing, in essence, is that you are going to force the teachers to no longer spend the time and the money, which they previously did, in improving the professional stature of their own members and the whole standard of education in this Province. Now, they are going to be forced to spend time and money in the recruitment of membership. This is not good for education in this Province.
I think, when we're looking at this bill, Mr. Speaker, this is the question we should all ask ourselves. Is this bill going to improve education in this Province? As far as we are concerned, the two basic principles inherent in this bill are not going to. In fact, I'm very concerned for education in this Province if this bill goes through, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. I simply want to say that there'll be far more discussion on this when we go into the committee stage. We will elaborate our concern on these points of principle, which I'm bringing up just now. I would sincerely urge upon the Minister that he consider hoisting this bill and giving it a year's study, on the basis of the principle, the very dangerous principle, which is enunciated in this bill, regarding centralization of education in this Province and the removal of the automatic membership.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Delta.
MR. R. WENMAN (Delta): Mr. Speaker, in beginning my comments on this bill, I would like to say that, in my opinion, professionally, the British Columbia Teachers' Federation is a very fine organization supporting not only the rights of its membership but, even more important, it works to build higher teacher standards in British Columbia and to build quality education for our children.
I would say, at the outset, that 1, for one, will choose to keep my membership in the British Columbia Teachers' Federation but I must say, also, that, while I would make such a personal choice, I would say, at the same time, I value my right to choose. I would say that a hundred years ago, men rightly fought for the right of association and collective bargaining at peril of both their job and personal censure by their society. The winning of these rights established further sound democratic and economically moral principles. These principles were securely based in an idealism that brought economic justice to the labouring producer. However, like so many great "isms," unionism has grown, to some degree, to not represent, seemingly, its members, and it has deprived and subjected the individual and even the State to its whims too often.
The cyclic nature of history has come full circle and it is now time to extend the freedom of association and collective bargaining to include the even fuller right to disassociate and bargain on an individual basis, if an individual so chooses. Compulsion encompasses a commitment that, I believe, is an abuse of the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says that no one may be compelled to belong to an association.
I would say, I think, that doctors and lawyers represent a very good direction that the British Columbia Teachers' Federation might move in. They have separated their professional function from the economic function. I think that that is a good move and I think that's the direction that we should, perhaps, move in. I can understand the concern of the Opposition, because the point that we're debating is a very important idealistic difference between a socialist party and those on the side of the freedom of choice and free enterprise. As legislators, we must attempt to satisfy three parties in our society - the individual, the association and the State. In each one of these three units of our society, existing side by side, a different group, be it the individual, the association or the State, predominates, depending upon economic and social conditions. They are out of balance, at the present time, and I believe that the balance needs to be
[ Page 682 ]
The idea of freedom itself is essentially individualistic Man, through his very basic survival instinct, is basically individualistic but, through reason, has, of course, agreed to group. It is this tendency that forces us to decide upon the balance and upon the question of the freedom of association Freedom of association must imply both the right to associate and the right to not associate. For, if you do not have the right to associate or to disassociate, where is the freedom? A very basic principle is, therefore, brought forward into debate of the two sides - the socialist side and the free enterprise side. One side guarantees all citizens the rights on the same footing, ignoring the special interests of any minority or occupational grouping, while the second side enters into relations with the association, regulating society in relationship to the needs of these associations, which they equate with the needs of the workers who make up the society. The association, then, in effect, becomes the State and cannot, therefore, tolerate noncompulsory membership in the association or in the union and the related full freedom of association or freedom of choice.
As we look for current examples, where trade unions amalgamate with Government, as is the very foundation or base of the NDP in all cases, where this happens, the principles of the freedom of association and the right of choice are regulated out of existence. Such intensive regulation of our society may be necessary in the earlier stages of democracy but, as we strive to a fuller, freer society, regulation and compulsion must be removed in respect for intelligent, rational and mature freedom of choice. I would hope, and I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, that a majority does not abdicate when it resolves to take a minority into consideration. It remains the majority with its advantages that its situation implies. It only, through recognizing the individual right, demonstrates a humanitarian and democratic principle of the freedom of choice.
I have confidence that the teachers of this Province will look at their association, because they have the ability, professional judgment and integrity and I'm sure that a very large percentage - be it 90, 95 per cent or whatever it shall turn out to be - a very large percentage will retain its membership. I hope, as well, they will also retain the professional attitude and the many fine professional functions of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, such as their magazine, the resource libraries that they have and the many in-service training meetings that they have. I'm sure they will recognize the importance of these and maintain the important areas.
I might say that, having spoken in favour of the freedom of choice, I would suggest that the principles of this bill have been in conflict with themselves. I commend the Minister most heartily for withdrawing the section relating to discrimination against the democratic rights of teachers. I think that it was a very sound move and 1, for one, and of all of the teachers whom I have heard from respect and appreciate this move. I must say, also, relating to this bill that, in the publicity so far, we have missed, probably, the most important thing that is happening and that is in the reorganization of the Department of Education - long since needed. For that, I commend the Minister because, in this reorganization of his department, I sense among the department members, people in the department, a new vitality. The department is on the move, it's ready to take the change and I sense in this bill, also, as the previous speaker feared for education, I fear for education if someone doesn't take the rudder. That's what this bill does allow. This allows for the Minister of Education to establish his department on a firm businesslike footing and I offer him congratulations and support in trying to bring this about in the department.
There are many other parts of this bill, which certainly need to be discussed and 1, certainly, will discuss them when we move into the next stage of the bill. But above all, the two principles, which I can support in this bill, are the right of individuals to have the freedom of association and disassociation, the freedom of choice, which represents the higher form of democracy to which I hope we are evolving, and, secondly, the reorganization of the department so that it will put the Department of Education in this Province on the move and provide a strong rudder and a strong command to move education ahead in the Province.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the First Member for Vancouver East.
MR. MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the bill we have before us - we should be frank about it, Mr. Speaker. It's a punitive piece of legislation, because the teachers took an interest in the affairs of the Province and had a pro-educational campaign in the last election, with the apple, in an attempt to interest both the electorate and candidates in favour of better educational policies and because they are sticking up, as they should stick up, for the pension rights of retired school teachers, who have served this Province well. The Government is bringing in punitive legislation, which is undermining the professional standing and status of teachers. You read the Medical Act. The Member from Delta, who has just finishing speaking, said freedom to associate and freedom to not associate. That is not permitted to the doctors, Mr. Speaker.
AN HON. MEMBER: Yes it is.
MR. MACDONALD: No, it is not (interruption). I'm not confusing the issue at all. Under the Medical Act, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of B.C. requires that a person must be a member of that college before they can practice medicine and, therefore, the college can exercise disciplinary functions. Therefore, the college can ...
AN HON. MEMBER: And that's all.
MR. MACDONALD: Well, let's take that right there, Mr. Speaker. Is that not important to the teachers that they shall be allowed professional status, that they shall be allowed powers of self-government within the teaching profession? (Interruption.) Yes, self-government within their own profession. You can't do that without disciplinary powers, you can't do that without building up a body of ethics, you can't do that without a broad association engaged in educational research and assisting the Province in education. The teachers' status, Mr. Speaker, should be in process of being elevated, at the present time, so that we can get away from the stultifying bureaucracy of Government. Instead of that, you're undermining the association for punitive reasons. You don't do that - freedom to associate and freedom to disassociate. We had a bill the other day, Mr. Speaker, to give professional status to, of all people, hearing-aid dealers. They can't sell unless they belong to this association. We passed that, second reading, the other day. Now, should hearing-aid dealers be professionalized and teachers not? (Interruption.)
Should there be compulsory membership for lawyers in
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the Law Society of British Columbia, but not for teachers?
MR. SPEAKER: Order.
MR. MACDONALD: Should there be compulsory membership for notary publics in the Notary Society before they can practice their profession, but not teachers' You're undercutting their professional standards, Mr. Minister. You're taking a backward step toward the evolution of fruitful, educational policies in this Province and, I say, it is a most retrograde step for the teachers, for the pupils and for the Province.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
HON. D.R.J. CAMPBELL (Comox): Mr. Speaker, I think, once again, from the Member for Vancouver East, we have had an indication that there's been a very shallow look at this bill from at least one point of view. Certainly, that point of view is to describe the action taken here as punitive and I only wish to speak about one particular section of this bill, as you might expect.
In the first place, Mr. Speaker, I consider that the history of the B.C. Teachers' Federation is one where it has been most difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile a deep-rooted desire amongst its members for professional posture in the community, along with carrying in the same apparatus that carries the responsibility, or, at least, the good part of the responsibility for that professional posture, to have the same apparatus carrying forward the economic aspirations of its members. I'd like to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that those two points of view are, simply, not reconcilable - never have been and, in my opinion, never will be - in the history of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it is, in my opinion, this two-faced policy, or posture if you like, of the B.C. Teachers' Federation which, in fact, is responsible for the self-cancellation in the public mind of those two very important aspects of any association having to do with the profession called reaching. I think that this contradiction, historically, now, and in the past and, in the future, if it's not corrected, is a contradiction which has been internally disruptive to this Federation. I say this, advisably, for, over the course of the past few years, the numbers of individual teachers, who have brought this point of view to my attention have been growing in numbers and those who are responsible for the destiny of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, at the present time, should have, at least, been aware that this was quite a deep-rooted feeling, because this contradiction, I emphasize, again, is internally disruptive to this organization (interruption).
I'll just continue with my speech, Mr. Member. You can say whatever you like, I'll say what I like. I'll have something to say about lawyers and doctors, too.
Mr. Speaker, the incredible thing to me is that the answer to this contradiction has been present in the past, is present now, and should have, long since, been examined by the members of that particular organization. I'll have more to say about that in a moment.
in my opinion, the effect of carrying out this unworkable contradiction has driven the membership further and further away from any sense of participation with the paid and the elected executive apparatus of this organization. The distance between the individual teacher in the field and the executive and paid apparatus of this particular federation has been growing and the gap, today, is extremely wide, in my opinion (interruption).
A professional posture, Mr. Speaker, which has long since been sought by professional teachers, a professional posture is, not only a matter of structure, it is also a philosophical stand which must be understood and I underscore understood. Moreover, it must be appreciated by the public it seeks to serve. I would suggest that, on those accounts, neither does the public appreciate the professional posture which teachers have so long sought, neither appreciates it nor understands it, because of this essential contradiction between the professional apparatus, or the lack of it, and the economic apparatus, and the joining of the two functions together.
I suggest to you that you can walk down any street in any community in British Columbia after the existence of the B.C. Teachers' Federation for so many years and you can find everywhere, Mr. Speaker, a lack of appreciation for the professional stature which we all assume doctors have had for years, the lawyers, presumably, have had it for years and I'm going to tell you why they have, in a few minutes. Mr. Speaker, over the course of the years, within the Federation, in trying to resolve the contradiction, and I think it's fairly obvious where I've stood over the years in terms of this contradiction, I think it's fairly safe to say that I have had a position. But, Mr. Speaker, there has been a historical range of repugnance amongst teachers that the professional and economic activities of the B.C. Teachers' Federation have never been resolved. In the early 1950's, which I am, perhaps, a little more familiar with in terms of the Federation than at any other time, in the early 1950's, the start of where we sit, today, was the subject of great debate. It was my privilege at that time, Mr. Speaker, to take part in that debate.
AN HON. MEMBER: How did you vote?
MR. CAMPBELL: I think it will become fairly obvious how I voted. Mr. Speaker, the issue at that time was, in effect, whether or not the B.C. Teachers' Federation should resolve together to become attached to the trade union activities of the B.C. Federation of Labour. The conflict and, once again, it was a basic conflict, and the issue was not the B.C. Federation of Labour. Anyone who thinks that, just wasn't there. That wasn't the issue at all. The real issue, Mr. Speaker, was the issue of whether the nature of the Teachers' Federation should be trade-union oriented, if you like, or economically-oriented or professionally -oriented, and whether or not it was possible to have both, and whether or not it was possible to do the two together. It was always my opinion, so that I'll answer the question of the Member for Cowichan-Malahat, it was my opinion, then, it is my opinion, now, it has been my opinion since 1954, and that's why I'm up here speaking, today, that it was a contradiction, then, and it is a contradiction now.
Mr. Speaker, the issue was resolved at that time, at least, Mr. Speaker, on the surface. It was resolved, at that time, that the B.C. Teachers' Federation would, in fact, not become associated with the B.C. Federation of Labour. It was resolved that the federation come down in favour of professional association - that was the resolution - as opposed to any formalized connection with organized labour. But, Mr. Speaker, you can read in that that the vast majority of teachers were reflecting a very deep-rooted desire that the federation take on the posture of a professional association
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and not of an economic bargaining unit. Make no mistake about that. The posture could not be achieved, Mr. Speaker. This posture could not be achieved by some and that was the association of taking the Teachers' Federation down the road to trade union activity or economic activity, as opposed to the more positive professional activity. This posture, that could not be achieved through the front door, has taken many elements of the nonprofessional approach through the back door.
In my opinion, in talking to many teachers, the B.C. Teachers' Federation no longer represents the professional aspirations of the teaching force nor, Mr. Speaker, does it present a professional front to the public. Mr. Speaker, when I see leading members of the Teachers' Federation talking about total war ...
AN HON. MEMBER: Total war.
MR. CAMPBELL: That's right. I agree it's ridiculous. That's exactly what I'm saying. When I see the Teachers' Federation, as a federation, taking that kind of a posture in the public press, then, I think, it only serves to underscore that there's a vast difference between any economic apparatus or the carrying out of the economic aspirations as opposed to the professional apparatus and aspirations.
This bill, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, does a number of things. The first thing, Mr. Speaker, that this bill does, in my opinion, is to give the B.C. Teachers' Federation back to its membership. Mr. Speaker, the second thing that this bill does, and by far this is the most important, is to provide a new starting point for alternatives to develop. In my opinion, those alternatives should be as follows - I'm not going to stand up here and not say what I think the alternatives are (interruption). I did. I think it was $37.50 but, if you put a question on the Order Paper, I'll answer it. What are the alternatives, Mr. Speaker? Well, first of all, the first alternative is that the B.C. Teachers' Federation should, as quickly as can be made possible by its members, divide itself into an economic apparatus or organization that would be of the nature of the B.C. Medical Association, in which membership would be completely voluntary. 'Me second thing that should be done to project, which I think is a legitimate and a worthwhile and long-sought for, an apparatus whereby the teachers in British Columbia can have exactly the same kind of professional association as the medical profession enjoys and exactly the same kind of association that the legal profession enjoys.
Mr. Speaker, I don't think that it's possible to have that kind of a professional apparatus developed under the aegis of the present B.C. Teachers' Federation. I do believe, and have always believed, that the teachers in British Columbia, and obviously this is so because the Teachers' Federation, itself, in its own right, has shown many, many times how much professional activity is desirable and has been effectively carried out by that federation, in its own right ... I'll tell you this, and the Teachers' Federation should ask themselves this question . . . they have received little or almost no credit for the professional activities of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. In my opinion, once again, the real reason for that is that they have had to marry these irreconcilable differences between the economic posture they maintain and their professional aspirations..
Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, the third thing that this bill does is that it underlines that a professional should develop his professional commitments to the public in a way which does not clutter up the public mind where there are aspirations for economic gain. Once again, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that this bill opens up the opportunity for that to take place.
Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, many teachers, and they have, in surprising numbers, been in touch with me as perhaps you might expect, having been a teacher and still proud that I was a teacher, and still proud of my professional association, through you, Mr. Speaker, to that Member over there ... In my opinion, long overdue in the Province of British Columbia is that the teaching profession enjoys its professional status. Many teachers have already indicated to me that they will welcome this bill for it will develop their attachment to their profession in a more positive way than is now the case.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Revelstoke-Slocan.
MR. B. CAMPBELL (Revelstoke-Slocan): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, a few comments on the ending of the closed shop as far as the BCTF is concerned and, like a few Members who have spoken in the debate, previously, 1, too, expect that the membership in the BCTF will remain at a very high level. In fact, I'm more optimistic than some of the figures I've seen quoted and attributed to executive members of the BCTF when they say 90 per cent. I would say that, about a year after this legislation comes into effect, it will likely be up at 95 or even 96. 1 believe that this will make the executive of the BCTF more responsible and, certainly, more responsive to the desires of their membership, as the Minister of Municipal Affairs has indicated. I don't think that they need be in any fear of any rival organization springing up in the Province, if they do, in fact, remain responsive to the feelings of the general membership. Now, the taxpaying public of this Province pay, through contributions to the public school system and higher educational institutions, a very great part of the education of any individual, teachers not excepted. Certainly, when a student has gone through the educational system, becomes a teacher and is certified by the Department of Education, as such, then there shouldn't be another group such as the BCTF who can then say whether that teacher can or cannot teach in the public school system of this Province. If a teacher comes into this Province from outside of it and the Department of Education decides that that teacher is qualified to teach in this Province, again, there should not be an organization which can say no to that teacher - "Because we won't give you membership, you can't teach in the public school system of British Columbia." I believe that teachers can be trusted to judge the merits of the BCTF on their own.
The First Member for Vancouver East referred to political reprisal and punitive legislation but, certainly, this isn't a political reprisal against the teachers. There's no doubt whatsoever but that the teachers have been very political in their activities, witness the apple campaign when they went out against commendable policies of this Government, specifically, some of their actions, with respect to the pension campaign and, certainly, even some of the letters which Members on our side of the House have been getting from teachers promising political reprisal and so forth.
There's another aspect of the bill, which I don't think has been touched upon in the debate so far this afternoon and that is the fact that school boards no longer will have to obtain the consent of municipal councils to exceed their
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budget by 110 per cent but, rather, will have to go directly to the public. I believe that this will require boards to explain more fully their policies and programmes to the taxpaying public. It appears to me to be logical that such approval should come from the voters, who elected the school trustees, rather than from municipal councils, which are not closely acquainted with public education programmes. There was incongruity, in my opinion, in the legislation we are amending, in which educators, trustees, active in the educational system and familiar with it, could not exceed the 110 per cent of their own volition but, yet, could go to a municipal council - people who were several steps away from being very close to the situation and, yet, they could, in fact, do what trustees were unable to do. I think that the fact of going directly to the taxpayers is a good idea and certainly it merits the support of all Members of this Chamber.
The one last item I would like to deal with and which was touched on by a previous speaker in this debate, Mr. Speaker, is the clause which the Minister indicated, and as the previous Member who spoke on this subject indicated, is the subject of an amendment and is being withdrawn. That is the fact that it was the intent that teachers could not serve on school boards. Now, teachers, certainly, already have very great influence in the administration of the Province's educational system and they shouldn't, in my opinion, be allowed to take over the taxpaying public's local means of expression and influence. I hope that the introduction of this particular section, and its subsequent withdrawal, will serve as an indication of the Government's intent that, if this trend were to continue on school boards, in fact, it would be the Government's intent to act. Certainly, teachers on school boards, on local school boards, are faced with an inevitable conflict of interest in many items other than just those of teachers' salaries. We need the influence, Mr. Speaker, of laymen on education and the local school district is one of the best places where this can be achieved. For example, those who say that teachers haven't got any influence in the educational system and that this will do away with it - they are in charge of the system, the Department of Education is, except for the Minister, made up, solely, of educators who have been in the teaching system. I think it would be an awfully sorry day in this Province if the complete control of education were to be left entirely to the professional educators and we did away with local men, who were not professional teachers, being in charge of these systems. It would be an extremely sorry day in this Province, in my opinion, if we ever got to the point where perhaps even the Minister of Education was a teacher and we didn't have any laymen at all to have an influence and to give an indication in the system. While 1, personally, am a little sorry to see this particular aspect withdrawn, I hope that it will serve as a warning that this Government is prepared to act if the professional educators make moves to take over every aspect of the entire system.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Member for Cowichan-Malahat.
MR. R.M. STRACHAN (Cowichan-Malahat): The Member who has just taken his place made a terrible attack on the former Minister of Education in this Province, when he indicated what a catastrophe it would be if a teacher ever became Minister of Education in the Province of British Columbia. I recollect there was a time, not too many years ago, when the man, who is now the Minister of Lands, Forest, and Water Resources, who had been a teacher, who had been a school superintendent, did, in fact, become the Minister of Education. Now, I don't know whether he should apologize to the teachers, to the Minister, to the Government, or whether he should just resign his seat. I don't know but certainly it was obvious that he didn't know. This is a clear indication he didn't know what he was talking about all the way down the line.
Now I listened with amusement also to the posturing speech by the Minister of Posture . . .
AN HON. MEMBER: Number 14.
MR. STRACHAN: He's number 14 on the list, now, certainly, after an effort like that, you know. A former school teacher, making a speech like that - we're now getting an insight into why some of the children in the school system have problems. But, thank goodness, all of the teachers were not of that same calibre and I use that word with a question mark and a dot after it, so that there are a great many ... (interruption). I don't know what the Minister is going to do with the vote on this bill, but he has, on previous occasions in this House, as he says, he always has a position. Nobody ever knows what it is and especially on touchy issues. A vote was called on that particular issue and the Minister was sitting in the front row, here, as I recollect, somewhere, and his head was out the door and his feet were still under the desk. It was the most amazing demonstration of fleetness of foot that I've ever seen in this House. After the vote was over, he came back into the House and sat smugly in his seat, thinking he'd gotten away with something and, then - I forget whether it was moving to third reading or what it was - but, anyway, as Leader of the Opposition, I called a snap vote and he was trapped right there. He couldn't get out and he had to stand up and vote on that particular issue (interruption).
Yes. What principle it has, mind you, and I'll be coming to that in a few minutes, to use a favourite expression of yours. I want to point out, first of all, that the term "closed shop" has been used repeatedly with reference to the B.C. Teachers' Federation and their relationship with their employees. It is not a closed shop. In any closed shop situation, the existing organization has a right to say who will come into the organization. It has the right to determine the qualifications of those who come into the organization. This is not the situation with the teachers. It's exactly the same situation as in the pulp mills or the sawmills of this Province - the employer has the right to hire whom he pleases. In this case, it's basically the Department of Education, in granting a teacher a certificate. Then, once the employer, in this case the Department of Education, which is really the licensing body - all the act says is - once the employer or those responsible for determining the qualifications of a teacher are satisfied that that individual has the qualifications and is competent to participate in the educational field in this Province, then, he must join the union in exactly the same way as many other areas in the Province. If you're going to work in a pulp mill, if you're going to work in the construction industry, the employer has the right to hire whom he pleases. I know what my union contract says - it says that very clearly, but, once the employer has determined that that man has the qualifications - the employer, in my case, has 30 days in which to make up his mind whether or not that individual has the qualifications - then, all we say is that he should belong to the organization that represents him and is going to bargain for him and he should contribute to that organization because, in or out, he will get the benefits
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that accrue from the work done by that organization. It's a pretty sound and basic principle. If there's anyone who happened to have particularly strong moral or religious grounds for not wanting to participate in an organization, they know beforehand, and they have known in the past, that before they ever went into the teaching profession that one of the conditions of participating in the public school system, once you have satisfied the employer, the school board and the Minister of Education that you have the qualification, then, they knew before they ever went into that stream that this was one of the conditions. That's when they exercised their freedom of choice by deciding to go into the teaching profession. That's when they exercise their freedom of choice.
There's no doubt in my mind that this is punitive legislation. It is retribution on the teachers for the fact that they participated in a public debate on the goals and objectives of education in this Province at the last election. The Government didn't want to do it in the last Session because it would have been, obviously retribution, obviously punitive, because they had participated in a public debate, had promoted a public debate, in education on a completely non-partisan basis, too. All over the Province, there were Social Credit candidates whose ads appeared with the apple with a bite out of it - all over the Province. Many Social Credit candidates and there's no doubt that this is retribution.
As far as I'm concerned, in the past, teachers have been participating in the educational field in a great many ways, not only simply in teaching the students, but through their research department, they have brought to the attention of the public, to their members and certainly to the M.L.A.s, a great deal of information about teaching and education that most of us have found very valuable. There's no doubt at all that, because of the objectives of the Government in the field of education, they're hoping to weaken the teachers' organization so that they'll no longer be able to be the force in developing education in the Province that they have been in the past. That's related to the overall policy of the Government because, as far as this Government is concerned, any time they see a group in our society that is a cohesive force, that has some strength, that has some power, that has some financial backing whereby it can carry its message to the public, this Government sets out to weaken and, if possible, to destroy that force. This is your attitude, you don't like to see any force out there in society with power and strength and a voice, especially upon occasion when its attitude happens to disagree with Government policy. This is the crime that teachers have committed. They happened to have been, on occasion, critical of Government policy. As people vitally involved in the educational system, they expressed that disagreement. That's why this is being brought in.
There's also short concern for the former teachers and for those who are now approaching the end of their teaching careers. They embarked on a ... I won't refer to it specifically ... but they embarked on a programme of bringing to the attention of the public and the Government, the plight of many former members of the teachers' organization insofar as their pension was concerned. Certainly they indicated that they were very militant about this. I admire the teachers' organization for being prepared to fight for their former members. Not every trade union, or every professional organization, continues to take that interest in their former members as the teachers have done.
They certainly have been drawing it to the attention of the public very forcibly in this year or so. Again, the Government doesn't like that and this is another reason why they're attempting to weaken the teachers' organization.
This bill as a whole, Mr. Speaker, does several things and this is my concern. You take the bill, all the various amendments proposed in the bill, and you find that, running right through them, is a common thread and that common thread is more power to the Government. Now, it is true that one part of it has the appearance of more local autonomy and more personal participation. Let me say quite frankly that, as far as I'm concerned, the main issue of this bill is not whether or not the B.C. teachers have compulsory membership or not. That's not the main issue of the bill - it's one of the issues as it is a reflection of Government attitude.
The bill, as a whole, has a tendency towards giving the Government more and more and more control of education. As I say, on the face of it, it would appear that, on the referendum, wherever it goes over 110 per cent, it must be taken to the voters but the Minister knows the objectives of school boards have been changed. I read to him a letter just last week, indicating how school boards have changed their objectives because of the school formula and how they're no longer setting out with an objective to achieve reasonable educational standards in their own districts. They are setting out to stay within the 110 per cent, irrespective of what it does to educational standards. It might be that, in the long run, keeping in mind the debate we had in this House last week with regard to the inflexibility that's developing in our educational system, largely as a result of the attitude and actions of this Government, it could be, in the long run, the public reaction against it will be such that we'll be able to break out of this strong box into which you are trying to lock the whole educational system of this Province. I'm hoping that that is so. But I don't want to hear the Minister of Municipal Affairs, or anyone else in this House, stand up and say that this bill is going to create freedom, or bring more democracy, or more decision-making to the local level, or to the members of the teaching profession, because the whole tenor, the whole trend, of the bill is to work toward more centralization of authority in the hands of Government.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear.
MR. STRACHAN: While you weaken an organization that, in turn, makes the Government stronger. I remember many years ago, reading George Orwell's book, 1984, and as I listened to the various Government Members speak on this bill, I remembered, not the exact words but I jotted them down as well as I could remember, the three famous phrases out of that book which depicted the kind of society that George Orwell wrote about in 1984. It was coming through loud and clear from over there. The three phrases? Slavery is freedom, war is peace, falsity is truth.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Oak Bay.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, in discussing this bill, I would like to make a few points that haven't been made. The first one is that very few in the House have mentioned the tremendous respect which most of society holds for teachers in their past performance, regardless of the recent friction and this difference of opinion as to whether the teachers have indulged or have not indulged in politics. I refer particularly
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to my own experience in the constituency of Oak Bay, where I find and where I have nothing but the highest regard and respect for the teaching profession which I have come to know reasonably well, both at elementary and secondary levels. Being members of a profession, I think it is only right to clarify some of the errors that have been quoted this afternoon and, so often, it seems to come back to this concept - that doctors are compelled to join their association. I thought that this had been corrected on the record at the last sitting of this House, but it seems to me that certain Members of the House just find it very useful to keep repeating this like a parrot when they know very well that it isn't true.
In the medical profession, and I think if you just hold still for a moment we can probably explain that, in any professional body of people whether they're doctors, teachers, lawyers, dentists or what have you, surely the primary objective must be to maintain standards in that profession. There must be some method of licensing these individual members of that profession. It happens that, in the medical profession, the licensing and ethical standards are maintained by a separate body, namely, the College of Physicians and Surgeons set up under the Medical Act. Now, the Members of the House know this full well and yet they keep screaming and shouting every year about doctors being compelled, also, to be members of the association which is a completely different body.
To clarify something that the Minister of Municipal Affairs stated - it was simply this - that the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in fact, issues the license and every one receiving or seeking a medical license, contrary to what has been said earlier, has to meet the same standard which is the qualifying exam in Canada called the LMCC. Now, there's no point in going into all the details. The fact of the matter is that the college is vested, by Statute, with this responsibility - to issue licenses and to supervise the ethical behaviour of doctors. I would submit that, on the basis of the many doctors in the Province and the incidence of the college having to remove licenses or suspend doctors practising, I think the record speaks for itself: (1) that there is a low incidence and (2) the college functions very well.
I would submit that, in the teaching profession, the same structure could well apply. I am no expert to spell out the machinery but, I would suggest and I speak personally and in no other way, it is my feeling that, by Statute, the teachers have shown that they deserve the right and have the integrity and the motivation to be given the power to license teachers in the Province under some similar Statute as do the doctors. I think it should be spelled out quite clearly that the teachers are given this one division of responsibility, dealing purely with licensing and ethical behaviour.
The other function, which is inevitably related to economic self-interest, could well reside within the existing association. As far as the medical profession is concerned, this split responsibility has worked well in the past. We've discussed the licensing, if I could say that in terms of strictly economic self-interest. The negotiations, I think, which the medical profession has had with Governments since the introduction of medicare and the recent agreement on a moratorium, I think, demonstrate, Mr. Speaker, that that professional party and Government can solve many of these responsibilities which I think are almost impossible to resolve if they're handled under one agency, namely, the association.
My respect for teachers also leads me to express the thought that they are quite responsible and thoroughly trustworthy to fulfill the role of school trustee. I think the expressions that are frequently made that professional individuals should not be vested with authority and the administration of their own body, leaves one very important and vital fact right out of the picture and that is that the voter is the person who decides whether or not he wants a teacher on a school board. Again, one should hesitate before changing any basic principle and look at the record. My great concern, on this particular point, was not reduced in any way when, on enquiry, I find that there has been no major problem arising from teachers already serving on school boards. The statement has been made this afternoon that there would be real danger in the teachers taking over school boards. Well, while this is a possibility in the same way that we might have an earthquake in Victoria this afternoon, I think one has to look at it rationally and in perspective. There is little in the past behaviour of teachers on school boards to suggest that this is any real danger. I believe, in fact, in the opposite direction, that a teacher who is motivated to the degree that he wishes to have a say in the running of a school district is more than likely a person with a high sense of public responsibility, has knowledge and has ability to serve as liaison between lay people, on one hand, and teachers, on the other, and is, indeed, of very positive value. As far as I'm concerned, this has been clearly demonstrated in Victoria.
The question of going to the community or going to the municipalities for permission to go beyond 110 per cent and the fact that this will now be decided by law, I think, is perfectly reasonable. I haven't been able to agree with the critics, who feel that it is such a disaster to limit the increase in budget by any one figure. As far as other areas of Government financial responsibility are concerned, there is, certainly, no such rule that I'm aware of. I think many departments would be happy if they knew that, at least, they could count on 10 per cent more every year. Therefore, in this regard, I don't feel that the concern that has been expressed is realistic.
Finally, I would question the frequent use of the word, punitive, that has been used in this debate. I feel very strongly that, before any individual in society is compelled to do anything, there should be a mighty powerful reason, very little short of forcing you to fight when there's a war on to preserve your country - this kind of reason is the reason that I would want before I'm compelled to do anything. I think that, in this regard, it is only reasonable and fair that teachers should have their choice whether or not they join their professional association and the fact that, at the moment, they have no choice and under this bill they will have a choice, I fail to understand how that can be, in any way, punitive.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Burnaby-Willingdon.
MR. J.G. LORIMER (Burnaby-Willingdon): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This bill does a variety of things and most of them are bad, I believe. In the first place, the bill does away with the superintendent of education and, now, the Minister has seven superintendents to help him. I think, it's probably the new version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Minister is given complete power as the chief educator in the Province and, in fact, he has much wider powers than he previously had. It makes him the Moses of the educational
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system and he is the one that has to decide what is to be done in education. Under section 16, for example the Minister is given, at least, not the Minister, but the department is given, a wide variety of powers to regulate with reference to local school districts. The powers given here, I suggest, are much greater than they were before. The powers in this bill, really, take away some of the power that was formerly held by the local school districts. What it is doing is another step in making the school district merely a rubber stamp for the department of Education. The trend, I suggest, should be towards decentralization and not the reverse. This bill is doing nothing more than making the powers of the local school boards very ineffective and very limited. The question is is there any need any longer for school boards if this erosion continues to take place. I suggest that, not only does this bill destroy the Teachers' Federation, but also destroys the value of the Trustees' Association and the value of the local school boards.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable the First Member for Vancouver-Point Grey.
MR. P.L. McGEER (Vancouver-Point Grey): Mr. Speaker, we have a new deputy minister in Education and it's always when we get a new deputy that we begin to see changes brought about in the Schools Act in British Columbia. The Minister said that, on this occasion, we had the most extensive changes since 1958. We listened very carefully to what he said, trying to decide whether the reasons he gave for introducing this bill and doing so little to refer it to the professional people who were concerned, would justify the changes, at this time, and would justify the manner of introducing the bill. I must say we're extremely disappointed. We're disappointed in the changes that have been brought forward and we are disappointed in the manner in which the Minister has handled this bill.
I've listened to a lot of what the honourable Members have had to say about this bill this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, with regard to playback they have had from some teachers and other interested parties. I found it difficult to believe my ears at what the Minister of Municipal Affairs had to say, and what the Member from Delta had to say, regarding the reaction of teachers to this legislation, because I can tell you it's far, far different from what I've heard about this bill. If the Minister were so certain, after these extensive consultations he said he had had around the Province, I would like to know why this bill could not have been referred to his committee in this House, so that these people could come and tell us what he alleges that they told him, before he brought the changes forward. Mr. Speaker, what we hear is exactly the opposite of what the Minister tells us. I can find no interest in the teachers, themselves, at having this restrictive covenant removed regarding the B.C. Teachers' Federation. Of course, the Member from Oak Bay did explain that, as far as the doctors were concerned, there was this division between the lobbying group and the professional group.
Mr. Speaker, had you brought forward your legislation, today, to make that division, we would have been able to support it because you would be working on the kind of well-established principle that the medical profession understands and which the Minister of Municipal Affairs says he favours. But, Mr. Speaker, that isn't what's been done. What you've done is to take something which, as far as the teachers are concerned, breaks both. The Member from Oak Bay said he disliked the idea of punitive action being taken but, believe me, Mr. Speaker, that's the way the teachers interpret it and I don't see, in their position, how any other interpretation would be possible.
All these years, compulsory membership has existed for the B.C. Teachers' Federation. When does the change come? Why, it comes when they voted to strike over their pensions. It came when they publicly opposed the educational policies because they thought they were bringing British Columbia second-class education. That's when this change became necessary. If it were really a sincere effort to make the healthy division the Minister of Municipal Affairs advocated, why didn't the bill say that? The bill didn't say that because that wasn't your intention, at all. These matters weren't referred to the Standing Committee on Education because you didn't want to hear what these people had to say. It would have been pretty condemnatory. It's time, Mr. Speaker, that we began to do a little consultation with the people we depend on to do a job in this Province (interruption). Well, more power to the teachers, then, for the education that some of us enjoyed. We want to keep it up to that high standard.
Mr. Speaker, I received many telegrams, letters and phone calls from people who don't want the B.C. Teachers' Federation broken up. You say, in your legislation, that it will no longer be a condition for a school board to hire a teacher that he be a member in the B.C. Teachers' Federation. Is it possible, Mr. Speaker, at some future time, that a condition for not being hired by a school board will be membership in the B.C. Teachers' Federation? Could we get to that point in British Columbia? Why not? What is the real purpose of this amendment? If it were some kind of a healthy development of professional status for teachers, some way in which whatever funds were collected for them were channeled into the most effective results, both for the teachers and for the people of British Columbia, generally, then, we would believe that it was a sincere attempt on the part of yourself and your department to further the cause of education in British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker, if there were the slightest suspicion that what you're doing with this legislation is to reduce political opposition to your Government, wherever it might appear, and if, in introducing controversial legislation without consultation of the professional body involved, then, we say that the bill must be wrong and that you should withdraw it. If you're prepared to make a statement today that you will take this bill and submit it to committee, not of the Whole House but of the Standing Committee, so that these people can come and give us their arguments, then, we could see some justification for supporting the bill. But, to take something as extensive as this, with as many objections as we have received and so many controversial changes, would be complete irresponsibility on the part of any Member of this Legislative Assembly. We oppose this bill.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Surrey.
MR. E. HALL (Surrey): Mr. Speaker, I feel that we really can't look at this bill without having some background information. Other Members have spoken about the events of August, 1969, the events of last fall in the strike vote taken by the B.C. Teachers' Federation. I'm not quite as upset as perhaps I should be if, indeed, there had been just a simple question of consultation. But, when you took upon a responsible body like the BCTF, some 26,000 strong, and
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remember that the Minister of Education has appeared at their conventions, year in and year out, and his predecessors appeared, year in and year out, I praise the BCTF for its professional conduct, its professional posture, its aiding of education and so on and so forth. But, take that, on the one hand, and remember what has happened in the previous 18 months and, then, see the introduction of this bill, at the same time as the committee was looking into tenure, at the same time as Bill 4 was being niggardly with the retired school teachers, this bill, containing as it does a destruction of membership rights and did, at one time, include an empty, undemocratic discretionary section about elections, then, I think it's fair to say that the bill must be punitive and will be considered so by the B.C. Teachers' Federation and many others in the educational world, including a great number of trustees. I think it's fair to say that the adversative system which you are now forcing the B.C. Teachers' Federation into will reap the whirlwind, as far as this Minister is concerned.
You talk about consultation, you talk about upgrading and, at the same time, without any consultation, you point the knife at the B.C. Teachers' Federation. If that weren't bad enough, Mr. Speaker, we've had the supporting acts by the minister to your right, who, today, attacked the B.C. Federation of Teachers with a vigour and a venom that was only equalled this morning by a Socred attacking that Government in the area of Kamloops - only equalled by Mr. Forsyth.
For the Minister to say that this federation should be given back to its members is, in my view, one of the worst things that particular Minister has ever said. I have a telegram here from the association in my riding I'll read to the House and then ask the question, again, about whether this federation is controlled by its members. The telegram: "The Surrey Teachers' Association condemns such discrimination against the teaching profession in (1) repealing automatic membership in the B.C. Teachers' Federation and, (2) denying board employees the right to serve as trustees. This is an unjustifiable and unnecessary infringement on the rights of teachers and other school board employees to hold public office. It unnecessarily restricts the right of voters to elect any responsible citizens of the school to speak." We've now seen that second section made somewhat irrelevant by the withdrawal of that appropriate section of the act. I still think we have to look upon its withdrawal in line with some of these other things.
I think that those actions of the Government, namely Bill 4, the tenure situation and, now, in membership rights, shows to me the proof of the words from the Member from Cowichan-Malahat. I remember the thing that happened to the last association that had some muscle and told this Government that it was going wrong. That was the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board and you killed that in the dead of the night. You slit that organization's throat. The Minister, who viciously attacked the teachers, today, was the author of that particular piece of legislation. Nevertheless, I think it's fair to say that we should look at the rest of the bill and had I not observed the growing reduction in the discretionary power of school boards, had I not observed the deliberate weakening of the B.C. Teachers' Federation in this bill, I wouldn't have been so bothered as I am about the other sections of the bill that deal with the administration of education in this Province.
They make a lot of sense and I'm not quite as worried about them as some of the Members. I've got some faith in the superintendents of education whom the Minister is appointing. I think we have to get the administrative ship going in the right way but what I am bothered about is taking that, on the one hand, which obviously leads to growing centralization, with your 110 per cent arbitrary figure, with the weakening of the trustees and, now, the weakening of the other third partner in the educational system. When I see two partners becoming weak in a three-party system, I must look with a jaundiced eye at what is happening to the remaining partner, namely, the Government. That's why I'm not enchanted with it and that's why I share some of the suspicions that other Members have spoken about. I believe it's probably necessary in order to do something. But I am reminded, when I was listening to the debate, that the Member from Delta, who applauded some of the administrative changes on the grounds that, at last, the rudder was discernible, I would remind the Member that this bill was introduced on March I and, yet, that Member made his speech about the rudderless ship on March 9. So, don't let's talk on both sides of the question at the same time. That Member is well known for striking heroic positions and then disappearing, like he did last year in the last debate on censorship - heroic positions in the newspaper and absent seats when the votes come - he's got a good taskmaster and a good teacher in the good Member from Comox.
I don't think, Mr. Speaker, that it's possible for anybody who has educational responsibility deep within him to vote for this bill, simply and solely because of the abhorrent sections I've mentioned.
I'm a Member of the Committee on Education and I want to re-echo the call the Liberal Leader made that, knowing we were sitting and we first started sitting very soon after this House started, this bill should have gone to that committee. I think it's a mistake. It shows the weakness of the Minister in presenting this kind of thing without consultation with that committee. Already it's obvious, Mr. Speaker, that changes are going to be made to this bill, following the work that we're doing in the committee. I can refer you to various sections and I will be doing so in the committee debate. But I cannot support this bill, because of those punitive sections that I've mentioned in second reading.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for New Westminster.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, just to re-echo what some of the other Members have said, there's no question about the fact that this bill was introduced in a very weak manner by a very strong and arrogant Government. Placing it before the committee certainly would have told the story. In my constituency, I've talked to teacher after teacher after teacher and I've yet to find one teacher who supports this bill, not one. I'd like to know where the teachers are who are coming out in support of this bill and where you're finding them, because they certainly aren't around the lower mainland, as far as I can see.
Mr. Speaker, the whole matter here that's being discussed is not closed shop. A closed shop union, Mr. Speaker, does the job placement. Everybody across there knows that Government is getting to be a great student of the whole trade union movement. They know what closed shop is and they know that the Teachers' Federation does not, in fact, have a closed shop, because a closed shop is quite different. What this is, Mr. Speaker, is the right to work philosophy that was first promoted and promulgated by the John Birch
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Society and that's specifically what it is.
Mr. Speaker, automatic membership in the B.C. Teachers' Federation has done a lot. It's taken their attention off recruiting members, off spending all of their time in developing muscle and that kind of thing, it has let the Teachers' Federation spend time in upgrading, what the Member from Delta was talking about, upgrading their membership and, in fact, producing a better quality of education in this Province. We can't look forward to that in the future, Mr. Speaker, not with this kind of legislation on the books. The Teachers' Federation will be continually looking over its shoulder. It's not that there's going to be a great reduction in membership to begin with. Maybe, it will be one per cent, maybe it will be 5 per cent, maybe it will be 10 per cent. Who knows? But it's not going to be a great reduction.
What is going to happen, Mr. Speaker, is that the new people coming in don't know the value of working together, so, therefore, it's going to be up to the Teachers' Federation to get a great number of organizers and put them to work so that they can go out and teach young people just exactly what is meant by co-operation in an occupation. Really what this is, Mr. Speaker, is just putting them under the gun in the future because, let's face it, membership in the Teachers' Federation is not that cheap. It can't be that inexpensive. A $100 a year to a young person is a significant amount of money and, if he doesn't know the value, if he doesn't know what he's getting for his $100, then, he's likely to resist joining the Teachers' Federation. Therefore, they're going to have to go out and tell him what he's getting from this Federation and there's all that time and all that expense. They're going to have to take their eye off the ball and they're going to have to get on with organization. What happens, then, is that this becomes a union, the very thing that this Government seems to loathe and despise and distrust and so on. Frankly, it may, in the long run, be a very powerful union because there's an awful lot of very astute people in that Teachers' Federation. They're not going to sit down and accept this kind of philosophy. I just couldn't imagine them sitting back and accepting this kind of thing. The teachers, in the future, are going to have to be placed in a position where they know, once and for all, that this Government does not accept them as being a professional group. This Government regards them as being something that you place in an inferior position if you possibly can. Why, if there were any doubt, why was there not a write-out philosophy? Why is it a write-in philosophy, when you know perfectly well there's going to be a tremendous loss in the recruitment? If it had been a write-out philosophy, Mr. Speaker, they would have, at least, given a person the right to say, "OK, I won't join." They know perfectly well, Mr. Speaker, that there would be a reduction of maybe one per cent. But, in a write-in philosophy, Mr. Speaker, there's a great difference. As a matter of fact, in most places where this is the case, in the write-out and the write-in, the difference is about 20 to 30 per cent. That's a great difference, so that, in order to get that 20 per cent, Mr. Speaker, there's going to have to be a lot of organizing done.
Mr. Speaker, there's no question. This bill should never have been presented to this House prior to going to that committee. It should never have been presented. I think that the Minister would be doing the House a service if he would stand in his place and withdraw this bill for study before the Standing Committee on Education and Welfare.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Kootenay.
MR. L.T. NIMSICK (Kootenay): Mr. Speaker, it's rather surprising, in one sense, and probably something to be expected, in another sense, from this Government - this type of a bill. The section that says that a teacher doesn't have to belong to the Teachers' Federation - we only need to go back a few years when there was no Teachers' Federation and know the jungle we had in regards to teachers and the wages that were paid. Undoubtedly, the teachers, through their Federation, have struggled to build up the status of teachers. Now, what you're doing is using a two-edged sword on them, for the simple reason that, with allowing that a teacher doesn't automatically become a member of the B.C. Teachers' Federation once they are hired as a teacher, to me, could lead to many things. You could have school boards that will give preference to teachers who don't belong to the federation. You could have school districts that hire nobody but teachers that don't belong to the federation. This is what will happen.
In industry, most industries are glad for organization, because they can deal a lot better with an organization than they can deal with individual people. They found that out through bitter experience. To say that this is a closed shop is the last thing. When I listened to the Honourable Member for Oak Bay, trying to compare it with the medical profession ... I might read you a Section 1n the medical profession . . . and he said that you don't have to belong to the medical profession to practice medicine in the Province of British Columbia. I'd like to quote this from subsection 5 of section 46, "A member who fails to pay his annual fee on or before the last day of February," as provided in subsection 2, "ceases to be in good standing . . . " and the council may, by resolution, suspend from practice any member who does not pay the annual fee within 60 days after mailing of a registered letter. I'd like to say if that isn't compulsory ... (interruption). He said that you didn't have to be a member of the medical profession in order to practice in the Province of British Columbia and the College of Physicians and Surgeons. This is under the Medical Act, where the College of Physicians and Surgeons is registered and you've got to belong to that body to practice (interruption).
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order.
MR. NIMSICK: I brought up a bill here trying to get protection for a doctor. You should be one who should get up and fight on the teachers' behalf because you're one of the many medical men and belong to such an organization. I imagine you'd be pretty quiet if the Government tried to destroy the College of Physicians and Surgeons! Mr. Speaker, the College of Physicians and Surgeons decide whether you practice in the Province of British Columbia or not (interruption). You didn't take the same attitude on behalf of a couple of doctors in my area who were denied practicing by a business group, not by the medical profession but by a business group. They were denied practicing. You endorse that kind of restrictive legislation and, yet, you want to throw to the wolves the teachers' profession.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Will the Member please address the Chair"
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MR. NIMSICK: Mr. Speaker, I heard the Honourable the Minister of Municipal Affairs say he got 300 letters and telephone calls from teachers who didn't know why they should belong to the Teachers' Federation. I challenge him to put 20 letters onto the table of this House stating that somebody didn't want to belong. I challenge him to put 20 letters. He hasn't got them. You know, it's like the child that went into his mother and said, "There's a thousand cats running over our roof," and she said, "Oh, there can't be that many." "Well," he said, "at least there's a hundred." "No, it can't be that many." "Well, it's, at least, our cat and one other one." That's about the size of it! That's about the size of what the Minister is talking about, because this Government has a habit of exaggerating and they exaggerate right to the finish.
I think that what you're trying to do, here, of course, is to destroy the Teachers' Federation. This is exactly what you're trying to do - destroy the Teachers' Federation. When you state that the Teachers' Federation is not doing the job they should be doing, they're a democratic organization and whatever they're doing, they're doing it by the rule of the majority. That's exactly what we say and we adhere to all the time - democracy. The men, who are in charge of the Teachers' Federation, are elected annually by the teachers. What have you got against that? Why should a Government come in and say that they were the wrong people that were elected? Surely, you could leave that up until the next election . . . just the same as I think the people of British Columbia elected the wrong people ... but I'm willing to wait till the next election to decide whether they want to continue with those people or not. Why can't we do the same with the teachers? (Interruption.)
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order.
MR. NIMSICK: The only thing that the Honourable the Minister keeps going, Mr. Speaker, is the pulp mills and the airline companies, for traveling, to run around the country at the taxpayers' expense.
I don't think that this move is in the best interest of either the people of British Columbia or the educational system of the Province of British Columbia, because you're taking away the cohesiveness of the teachers. You could quite easily demand that teachers don't belong. This will be the next step and you could try and break the organization altogether. For that reason, I'm definitely going to vote against this bill.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Member for West Vancouver-Howe Sound.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver-Howe Sound): Mr. Speaker, I think in this debate that there has been too much attention given to the effects that this legislation will have upon the B.C. Teachers' Federation. 1, for one, think that the Teachers' Federation is a responsible organization and that it enjoys the respect and confidence of its members. They are not going to lose that membership and the Government is going to be frustrated in this attempt that they're bringing before the House today. If anything, the B.C. Teachers' Federation will come through this amendment to the Public Schools Act stronger than ever before (interruption). Yes. Well, then, Mr. Speaker, if what the Honourable the Minister of Education has said across the Floor is correct, why is he doing it, why? The Member from New Westminster said that this bill was presented by a strong and arrogant Government. I disagree entirely, Mr. Speaker. Arrogant, yes, but it is the arrogance which grows from weakness not from strength. Whenever any organization in this community gathers strength, becomes united and is in a position to contest this Government in the political field, it's in trouble. The Honourable the Minister of Municipal Affairs proved this in his statement. He wants to destroy this federation until the day that they can come back as nice little fellows and we'll pat you on the head and when you're prepared to play the game, then, maybe well give you professional status (interruption). "Play, please, sir." He destroyed the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board for the same reason. It was beginning to get too powerful.
We've already had, Mr. Speaker, in this Session, debates surrounding the Minister of Health which show what happens when even one member of a profession dares to speak up, politically, in this Province. We know what happens when he communicates with the secretary of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and wants to know if the college is prepared to accept, in their profession, someone who may choose to disagree with the Minister, politically. That's another threat. If you aren't careful, that association will be the next one under the gun. No, this is what's wrong with the principle of this bill, Mr. Speaker. Not only is it an attempt to ensure the continuation of the rigid 110 per cent formula by taking away one of the avenues that the elected school trustees have in their budgeting requirements under this formula - "Throw it back to the people." The Minister knows that referenda are not successful. He knows that the cost of referenda should be avoided and, yet, he takes away one of the avenues where one elected body in a school district can go to other elected bodies and get their approval. That's another one of the principles that's wrong.
But, Mr. Speaker, one of the aspects of this bill which bothers me most is found in the very first amending section. This is a Civil Service bill. This is a bill for the bureaucracy, for the mandarins in the department to take over and emasculate the power of the Minister (interruption). Yes. That's right. Wait until the Leader makes his speech, Mr. Speaker, because all of the powers that are given to the Minister in this act may be passed on by him to some civil servant designated by the Minister. Bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, the Civil Service wrote this bill, not the Minister. It was the Civil Service, the new deputy minister, who had the hand in writing this bill. The extensive powers that are given to the Minister to make rules under this new legislation also provide the ways for the Minister to pass those responsibilities over to members of the Civil Service. Slowly, we find the control of the Department of Education passing from the hands of the elected representatives of the people, through their Minister, into the hands of the Civil Service.
Mr. Speaker, this is one of the aspects of the bill about which I feel most strongly. When we lose control of a department, such as the Department of Education, to the Civil Service, to the technocrats, we lose a real element of control which will never be won back, because the rules that they will establish, the controls that they will bring to bear upon the school districts and the school teachers and the children of this Province will be virtually impossible to undo, without doing irreparable harm to the entire educational system.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Member for Burnaby Edmonds.
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MR. DOWDING: Mr. Speaker, I've never heard such a conflict of justification given as was given across the Floor by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and by the Minister of Education. The apparent dislike of a professional group is evident from the words of both Ministers and, yet, it's extraordinary, because both of them theoretically belong to professional groups, one having come from the legal profession, the other from the teaching profession. You know, every professional group may say, and often do say, that their primary purpose is to enhance the professionalism of every member and that is one of the reasons for a professional group and for its self-regulation - an attempt by all the members to see that each individual member lives up to a certain standard of competence and efficiency and service to the public. I say, without any favour, that most professional groups, as a whole, in their governance try to live up to that quality that we expect from professionals - and that includes the teachers. But for anyone to adopt that sort of Little Boy Blue attitude, that we heard expressed by the Honourable Member for Delta about professional groups, or to hear the Minister of Municipal Affairs, in effect, saying that the teachers have some regard for their pay, that this attitude should be foreign to professional groups is to make one laugh. What do the teachers do that the doctors and lawyers don't do as well, in terms of their remuneration? (Interruption.)
Good point. When you took at the doctors and read their monthly bulletins, with which we're not favoured by circulating amongst M.L.A.s, you'll find that they spend half their meetings debating how they can raise the schedules for themselves; in other words, increase their income, now, the highest in Canada. All the time, you're getting meetings, at every professional bar association meeting, where the professional group, the lawyers, are doing the same thing -asking for a higher fee schedule. Yet, you pretend that, somehow, the teachers are not living up to the same standards of concern for their income as the lawyers and doctors, or any other professional group.
Now, what is the basic reason for professional groups? It's obviously because they are given certain qualifications, publicly, by Statute, and certain rights the members of public are restricted from exercising. They must have standards, they must have a prescribed membership and they must have means of policing their own members. How, in that, should the teachers differ? The teachers serve the public and they serve them in the most sensitive area of all - the training and education of our children. I say they're professional because the Government, itself, by Statute, has always required standards of a proper educator. That certificate is not issued by the teachers, it is issued by the Government. Therefore, you have set these people aside, in one group, in society and said they must reach these standards before they teach our children, just as you say to those who graduate in law and medicine, or in pharmacy, or any other group or field of professionalism, where the public interest is involved and where harm to the public could be done from the untrained, you say that the teachers must also establish this same unique position. Having said that, how can you, then, turn around and say that you're going to diminish that standard by allowing persons who obtain a certificate, showing that they have passed a certain standard of education and have gone through, presumably, some university, or form of instruction in the field of education, in pedagogy, that they should then become immune from their own professions from that moment on? How in the world can you justify a policy that can only derogate from the high standards of excellence imposed upon all members of the Teachers' Federation by its own qualifications and its own requirements? You're going to make these people totally immune to the professional organization, if they so choose to be. They're no longer responsible to anybody except the superintendent, presumably, of education, for what happens, and the other members of their profession are not to spend any time or pay any regard for the standards of their fellow teachers. That's not true in any other profession, that the members should not care about the standards of excellence and quality of their fellow members and themselves. You are inviting this attitude by the members of the teaching profession, if you say you can belong or not belong to a professional organization.
When I think of what you did to the Government employees of this Province it suddenly occurs to me you're doing the same thing to teachers and probably for the same reason. The Government employees believed that they should be a part of organized labour and they did affiliate with organized labour. This Government didn't like it and what did you do? You cut them right off from the automatic check-off of their dues to their union organization. Well, the threat was there and it was, in effect, exercised. If they didn't get out of organized labour - the Government employees - their right to check-offs were taken from them.
You tried the same thing with the teachers on that notable occasion when the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who was a teacher, tried to escape from this Chamber so that he wouldn't have to record his vote. Now, you're trying it again with the teachers and, each time, it's notable that it follows as a reprisal for something that you didn't like that that group, the teachers, were doing. What were the teachers doing that invites this reprisal? Did they come out against this Government in the election in 1969? If they did, they did it by merely campaigning for better standards for education and who, on the other side of the House, is opposed to the programme or the standards that the teachers were seeking to achieve in the field of education.
I think it speaks for itself, if the teachers ask candidates for office, regardless of party, to support certain standards that the teachers would like to see in the classroom, in the curriculum, and you took the position, if you were a candidate, that you didn't subscribe to those, does that mean that you are automatically a Government candidate? I don't believe that, because a number of candidates who ran for the Government party supported the teachers' campaign - some of the more enlightened ones. Naturally, they weren't elected but they did support it from a Social Credit side, which I thought was a notable achievement that anyone could convince them ... (interruption). I don't know whether they're looking for the apple or not, but they found the worm in the apple very soon after. Here is the worm in the apple, right here.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this reprisal, in the long run, will not work. You're not really tackling the problems of education by trying to disorganize the teachers, or the school boards, or the whole theory of education, by this form of bureaucracy and centralization that's implicit in the bill. We're in an age today that this Government seems totally unaware of, when the students are turned off on bureaucracy. They don't want a bunch of wardens in schools. They don't want the rules and the discipline that was imposed on your grandfathers, before you, in the little red schoolhouse. They're certainly not prepared to take education at the end
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of a whip. They want a form of co-operative learning that this Government is totally unaware of. That's why so many young people are dropping out of the conventional schools and why the school boards and the teachers are having so much trouble.
We're in a new age of education where the students want to participate in the teaming process and to be creative in the learning process, not merely vessels to receive instructions. The result is, more and more, that these young people, who are dropping out, are moving into schools that they can find, or methods they can find, where they can learn and achieve on their own, or by receptive schools that are being created out of the urgent need. What do we find? The Minister, or his appointee, has now become the ultimate bureaucrat, the czar in the field of education and curriculum.
AN HON. MEMBER: Well, he's not a Liberal.
MR. DOWDING: I want to point out that I can't be responsible for what any other Member says. But I will say this, that it is what the last Members who spoke on the other bills have said - the Minister or his appointee. I don't know whether you know what appointee means. It means someone you designate, under the act. Now, right in the . .
I realize the Minister probably didn't write his own speech ... but right in section one it makes it clear that Minister includes a member of the Civil Service designated by the Minister to act on his behalf. Now, I don't know whether you've read the act. You, obviously, have already decided that the act will be passed, because you have an amendment on the Order Paper that says you're going to repeal section 25 of the bill. You see, the honourable Member doesn't even know you can't repeal a section of the bill that isn't passed. How can you repeal a section of the bill? You can repeal an act, but not a bill, or a section of an act, but not a bill. I thought you were a lawyer. You should know that (interruption). You had better look at the Order Paper and see what you've done. It's incredible. Find your appointee, maybe he'll help you.
The point of this bill that I think is the most reprehensible is that a group set up in secrecy, that is, the Cabinet, is going to determine the future of education in a closed forum, where there's no debate, instead of it being a broadening, in a more democratic way, of bringing about a better curriculum (interruption). It certainly hasn't been centralization.
I say that the important thing in education today is to decentralize it, allow the experimentation in each school district, allow them to have their kind of schools that they want at Campbell River or at Coquitlam or in Burnaby or anywhere else. Give them the aid and the support they need financially to experiment, but the idea of decrees being handed down by Order-in-Council right, left and centre, by a group that is not competent in the field of education, or who has no real understanding of the problems in this modem age of education, is an incredible reversion. It's almost Machiavellian to suggest that a group in the Cabinet should determine what the course of instruction should be in the schools. Right here it says, in the bill you propose, that they'll make Orders-in-Council (interruption). No, it hasn't been quite like that, not quite like that (interruption).
Then, it shouldn't be going on. If this has been going on, it shouldn't have been. Mr. Speaker, I've just heard a most astonishing statement from the Minister. He says he's legitimizing what has been going on. In other words, he's saying that what has been going on has been illegitimate, illegitimate - and, now, you're going to legitimize it. I find this an incredible admission by the Minister that what has been going on has been, in effect, illegitimate. Mr. Speaker, this Minister, of course, is quite right, in a sense, that what's been going on has been illegitimate. A good example of that was that Order-in-Council that was passed last fall - there's no power in the Public Schools Act to pass such an Order-in-Council. I looked very carefully through the "Power to Make Regulation" and there was no power to make such a regulation, no power whatsoever. You can study the regulation-making authority of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council as long as you like and you couldn't find it anywhere. That's the kind of illegitimacy that we're getting from this Government by confession of the Minister himself today.
I say that this centralization, this bureaucracy, is a dangerous thing in a field where freedom of exploration, freedom of communication, is a vital thing, where teachers at the local level, with full professional competency, should have the right in their own field to determine their professional goals. The idea that these professional goals should be taken away from them, the idea that you could denigrate the teaching profession as you're doing with this bill, I think, in itself, is sufficient reason for every Member in this House to vote against the bill which I'm certainly going to do.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Vancouver-Capilano.
MR. D.M. BROUSSON (Vancouver-Capilano): Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly disturbed by the rather special attack that this bill seems to make on the teachers. Teachers, individually, and the Teachers' Federation, as their collective organization, have made a very great contribution to education in this Province. I belonged to the Teachers' Federation many years ago, 30 years ago approximately, and it's a very different kind of organization today. It's very interesting to see how it's grown and progressed in a professional, educational manner. We've seen the Teachers' Federation and the teachers, certainly, take great responsibility for their upgrading of the standards of education in the Province, for the development of professional attitudes, the awakening of the public interest in education by the kind of contact they've made with the public and perhaps, especially, the contribution that they've made in terms of educational research for they, along with the trustees, have helped fill the vacuum that's been left by this Government doing no educational research except what the teachers and the trustees between them have managed to do. They've done all this, of course, with the security of organization, security of membership and security of finances. But I suppose their very success has been their downfall.
I was quite surprised this afternoon to walk into the House and hear the Minister of Municipal Affairs talking along the lines of a speech which I made in this House, exactly a year ago, on a line of thought that I had proposed prior to the election in 1969 and which I repeated in this House during the debate on educational estimates a year ago.
The Teachers' Federation, obviously, and it's been said several times in the House this afternoon, does serve two functions - the professional function and the function of contract negotiations. I think these have become confused in
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people's minds. They are certainly confused in many of the teachers' minds. They're confused in the public's mind and they're very much confused in the minds of the Government. They have got to be separated and they should be separated. Two organizations: one, we might call the B.C. Association of Professional Teachers - and I won't detail all the things that it should be responsible for, it's been said earlier today -basically, the professional consideration, the ethics, the standards, the professional advancement and so on, and this should have compulsory membership, the same as the organization to which I belong - the Association of Professional Engineers. It has compulsory membership if I'm to act as a professional engineer in this Province. So, the teachers should have a professional association of this sort. Then, of course, as I suggested a year ago in this House, a Teachers' Contract Relations Bureau, which would be noncompulsory and could act as the bargaining agent, if you like, for any group of teachers that wished it to do so.
Mr. Speaker, what I'm concerned about is this. At least one Cabinet Minister today has talked about this, other people on the Government side have talked about this today. Well, what does this mean? They've suggested that this might be so, at some time, but what assurance do we have? Is this a commitment from the Government that this is what is going to happen? Do they really know where they're going? I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, we've already had the Government withdraw one part of this bill because they found that it didn't really fit in with the wishes of the Province and was not compatible with the best standards of education in British Columbia. I suggest that this section, also, should be withdrawn by the Government, considered by the education committee, some consulting go on with the teachers and the trustees and the other professional people in the business and, then, let's have another try at it next year.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Yale-Lillooet.
MR. HARTLEY: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to ask my friend from Oak Bay to name one doctor in this Province who operates outside of the doctors' closed shop. Maybe, I should add, and outside the real estate Board, but that isn't the point.
Yesterday evening, I hope many of us saw the CBC weekend show between 10 and 11 p.m. It started giving an outline of the pulp and paper industry in Kitimat, right across Canada to the Maritimes. In the Maritimes, we saw young men and old men, who were engaged in that industry, being interviewed. There they were, working for $100 a month cutting pulpwood, for which men out west are getting several times that kind of money. I mention this, because this is what happens when you dig into and break down legitimate professional and trade organizations. This, Mr. Speaker, is what I fear is happening here. This is punitive legislation and punitive, political legislation and, when we have a Government in power that says to any group -business, professional or trade - if you take political action against us, so long as we are the Government, we will effectively legislate reprisals against you and against your group. This, Mr. Speaker, is a very, very dangerous attitude. As I say, what I saw on CBC last night, I didn't think it existed anywhere in Canada. I know it existed in this Province during the depression. Men worked for $5 and $10 and $15 and $20 a month but, in the parts of Canada that have not moved ahead with a progressive trade union movement, with progressive legislation, they're still back in the dirty '30's. It's a shocking situation and, to me, it is very shocking that this or any Government in Canada would come forward with this type of legislation.
I think we have to be consistent. If you say, and I realize you have withdrawn legislation, now, before it's passed, but you are reasoning that teachers shouldn't be on school boards. To my knowledge, no teacher ever sat on the school board that employed him, but he might have sat on a school board in an adjacent school district. But, with the doctors, you have doctors sitting on the hospital boards, throughout the Province, and, in fact, controlling them. Furthermore, they not only sit on the hospital boards but the doctors are the majority of the members on the B.C. Medical Board so they also control our medical plans. They sit on the Boards of CU & C, of MSA. The doctors organized MSA in order to protect their vested interests. So, if you're going to be consistent, go right down the line (interruption). Well, get up and speak on it, Mr. Real Estate Man. Get up and speak on it (interruption).
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable Member proceed and address the Chair.
MR. HARTLEY: I think, Mr. Speaker, that we should be consistent. Any Government that will legislate or attempt to legislate such inconsistencies is certainly not worthy of the support of the Members of this House or the people of this Province. To me, this business of having a lawyer in charge of education, a lawyer in charge of labour and a teacher in charge of forestry is completely inconsistent. The New Democratic Party would surely put a teacher in charge of education, a working man in charge of labour, a planner in charge of forestry and an undertaker in charge of the Social Credit Party of this Province.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the Member was out of order but it all happened too fast (laughter). Order, please. The Honourable the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We've had a wide ranging debate, Mr. Speaker. Some of it has been repetitive and some of it has been original. I have just one comment in terms of attendance. I regret that the Premier has not been in for any of this debate because this is probably one of the most contentious bills that we'll be dealing with this Session, and the Leader of the ...
AN HON. MEMBER: You missed five whole days.
MR. BARRETT: I missed five whole days, that's right, Mr. Member. I suppose if you want me to kick the Premier out, I'll do my best, but I'll do it at the polls, not by using the rules of this House. Mr. Speaker, I regret that the Premier has not been here. He cannot attend all of the Sessions of the Legislature but, surely, on debates on bills as important as this, the Leader of the Government would at least be present if not taking a position, or explaining why he feels this bill is so important at this time.
There are two parts of the bill that I wish to comment on. A great deal has been said about the teachers and their compulsory or noncompulsory membership in their organization. I'm always interested in hearing the backbenchers' views, and the Minister of Municipal Affairs throws in some salt and pepper for a little flavour. I wasn't too upset by the
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Member from Revelstoke-Slocan. He is probably the best example of rural-based, anti-intellectualism, that is a syndrome in some parts of North America.
His kind of Babbittry, his kind of approach is the simplistic rule of homily, that anybody who has gone through school and gone on to get an education and has allowed himself to form some kind of professional association is a threat to that rural structure. He gives the speech about the layman being available and being present and being participating. No one is denying the layman his role to participate, no one. No one has said and suggested in this House that the teachers are the be-all and the end-all of education. That's not the suggestion. To say that an argument against their belonging to the thing on a compulsory basis is an attack on the role of the laymen is absolute nonsense. The laymen belongs to his association or his union, he's only a lay person when he's not a teacher, or not a doctor, or whatever particular group we're talking about. But most people have their own expertise in the Province and we allow them to associate in organizations related to their expertise. There's nothing wrong with that, not at all. The specious argument by the Minister of Municipal Affairs was really humorous. I know that he didn't really believe that himself when he made his statement of fact, not even prefaced with an opinion, that the membership of the BCTF has become too removed from its executive. How does he know, Mr. Speaker? Has he been to the BCTF meetings? Does he know what the feelings are of the BCTF? If he knows that, then, surely to goodness, the opportunity for him to participate, as a voting member of the BCTF would allow him to campaign for a different executive but not to come into the House and do something that he can't do as a teacher by doing it as a legislator.
Every organization has the right to be clever, every organization has the right to be stupid, but no Government has the right to presume what's best for any organization in a free society. If the Minister feels strongly that the BCTF membership is getting bad leadership, let him campaign throughout this Province by attending teachers' meetings and making that statement. But don't make that statement in defense of legislation that has purposefully set out to destroy a group for, essentially, Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, political purposes.
We have never had a statement of philosophy on education by this Government. At least, in my 11 years in this House, I have never heard a statement of purpose, a statement of goals, a statement of achievement and a direction, an overall direction of what they want to accomplish in the expenditure of one third of our Budget. They talk about planning for the 1970's and, then, they bring in this particular aspect of the bill as some kind of bugaboo as developing a better goal in teaching.
Mr. Speaker, I say that that particular section relating to teachers is politically inspired. It's politically inspired because, when times get tough in North America, there is a tendency by the unemployed or the economically insecure, Pluralist, rural-based businessmen to attack those members in society who have continuity of employment. They represent two groups - the civil servants and the teachers. The civil servant, and I regret that some of the Members of this side have used the term the civil servant, in that negative sense, the civil servant becomes the focus of hostility, not because of the fact that he may or may not be giving good service - he becomes the focus of attack because he has security of tenure, he has the security of job. The teachers come under the same kind of attack and, psychologically, they are a group that can be politically exploited, especially in rural areas and a group that can be exploited, politically, through a negative criticism or some kind of sinister plot they are hatching to take over school boards or to take over the Government.
Mr. Speaker, there is substance to the belief that that is the motivation for this legislation because we heard from the Member's own mouth the suspicion expressed that there was some kind of plot by teachers to take over school boards. We heard that. We've seen by press reports of their caucus meetings that this was part of the dispute that led to the withdrawal of that particular section before it passed. But there is also . . . (interruption).
You weren't in the House, Mr. Member. You didn't hear your colleague from Revelstoke-Slocan present the argument to this House that the school teachers posed a threat to free elections to school boards and that there may even have been a plot by the teachers to take over the school boards. I reject that concept completely and I know that many, many Social Credit backbenchers reject that, as well. The point is, Mr. Speaker, that that is the kind of emotional reaction, based on lack of fact, that leads to this kind of legislation being introduced. This legislation is not introduced on the basis of research. This legislation is not introduced on the basis of a summary of some kind of study. This legislation is introduced purely on the basis of it is good, politically, for the Government, in their opinion. Now, I won't say anything further about that particular aspect of the teachers, themselves. They'll have to live with it, Mr. Speaker, they'll have to live with it. If they choose to get politically active because of this bill, that's their decision. I'm not encouraging them or I'm not telling them not to.
I'm hoping that all citizens in a free society will, independently, make their own choice in terms of evaluation of a government, an opposition, in a free society. But if they choose to get involved, politically, the motivation will come from this legislation. This legislation will steer them from their basic goal of providing better education by publicly stating their position and forcing them into a position of defending their public statements on the basis of politics. You have reduced the teaching profession and its role in a responsible way of saying what it wants to do, to a position of defending whatever it wants to do on the basis of political theory, rather than on what's good for education. I regret that, because you have conditioned the public to interpret that - just as the doctors had to be interpreted, after their strike in Saskatchewan, as being politically motivated rather than standing for a principle against medicare.
Many people in my own Party, and in other parties, misinterpreted the doctor's particular move as being antipolitical. They were forced into the political positions. Now you're forcing the teachers into political positions the same way and I regret it.
If this has any effect at all on the contribution by teachers to research development, then, we will see the last of any valid research in education being done in this Province. This Government has shown no drive to do educational research. The last bit of work they did, Mr. Speaker, was in the area of the Chant Report, not the present, lamentable Minister of Public Works but another Mr. Chant, Mr. Speaker. That was a survey, and I'm glad the member is still with us and alive and participating today. The survey was a survey of opinion, rather than a properly subjective and objective research project that would determine a direction. After
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making that collection of opinions, it was put into a Chant Report and that's all we've seen. You can't say that there's been any research to evaluate this. The Minister, himself, I can understand his personal feelings about the need to centralize power. It has not been my interpretation of the Minister but, in many parts of the teaching profession, the Minister has been treated essentially as a lightweight. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that the Minister should be considered a lightweight. I regret the kind of criticism that comes from the backbenchers that we hear in the corridors about certain Ministers having to be replaced. If you want to criticize a Minister, come out openly and say that he's a lightweight. I know that he's suffering from that handicap, Mr. Speaker, and I think that part of that handicap may be the ... (interruption).
Mr. Speaker, the Member from Delta stood in the House and asked the Minister his philosophy. At least, he did it openly, he did it openly. The rest of you haven't done it openly. But if the Minister, indeed, is attempting to revitalize his image, maybe he'd do a better . . . Look, that's politics. If he wants his job, that's on his head, but I think it's a mistake for the Minister to try to revitalize his image by absorbing more power to himself. The Minister may be tough, the Minister may be weak, that becomes irrelevant. The thrust is, through you, Mr. Speaker, that he's trying to give the appearance of being on top of the situation. I think that's a political response to a problem within his own group and within the teaching profession, rather than of response to the reality that he faces.
I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the former Minister of Education would not have brought in this bill. That's my opinion, He may deny it and say that, yes, he would have brought it in if he had continued to be the Minister of Education.
As much as I oppose the Attorney-General of this Province, in my opinion, he had far more understanding of educational problems and he had the security of office that a dauphin is allowed to have, Mr. Speaker, that would not permit the present Minister to make that division.
Mr. Speaker, I note that the Minister of Rehabilitation and Social Improvement and whatever it is, has honoured us with his presence, today. Maybe it's bad flying weather, I don't know. But I want to say this that, now, that he's here with us, I welcome his participation at a great intellectual level on this important debate dealing with education. I mean, a man who is able to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, arising to 6,000 feet with one big tug, is able to give us some enlightenment on the degree of education.
After all, Mr. Speaker, this bill says that the Minister win now be making decisions that were formerly made at the level of superintendent. I regret that because, I think, in that, you are attempting to make the educational-affiliated organizations even more impotent. The Parent-Teacher Association, Mr. Speaker, I believe that there's a direct threat to the Parent-Teacher Association implied in this bill by putting this Ministerial responsibility here. I have great fear, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister sees the role of the Parent-Teacher Association as, essentially, a fundraiser to buy little, visual aids to help out on those items in the Budget that can't be bought locally. But, to permit the Parent-Teacher Association, the teaching profession, and the community to get involved in the curricula because of concern for children and what they want to get out of the educational process for their children, that's now being abandoned and the Minister is becoming the Cyclops of education. That's your role, that's your role.
Mr. Speaker, I feel that, if we're going to create a more equitable society, the role of education is the key to that more equitable society. It cannot be achieved by centralizing the development of curriculum or centralizing the control of education. That can only be achieved by decentralizing the development of education for the individual child's needs.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, one of the major faults of this Government is that it has the concept of serving people backwards. You believe, through you, Mr. Speaker, that the child must fit the system, rather than the system fitting the child, and the proof of that particular concept is the centralization of authority that is inherent in this bill. The two things in the bill, the attack on the teachers, the teachers will have to live with, but the attack on the educational system, Mr. Speaker, is what our children will have to live with. There is a sense of frustration in the public school system that allows for all kinds of weird ideas to be developed and attract youngsters away from a good, solid, State education. That's threatening, in my opinion. I think the State can provide the best possible education for every child but, when the State centralizes and the State puts into the hands of the Minister absolute authority, the State loses the concept of the democratic processes developing the best possible services to the largest number of people. It's flexibility, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister does not understand. As to the Member, who attacked the Minister by saying that his mandarins will push him around, I don't know if that's so or not. I really don't know but, if this bill is politically motivated, then, that charge will be valid. If it is politics that has inspired this bill, there will not be the detailed thought given to the follow-up of this bill. However, if that's an unfair challenge by the Member, then, the Minister must stand in his place, before anybody votes on this bill, and give us a detailed statement of the philosophy that led to this particular direction that he's going in. What does he wish to achieve by this bill? What is his goals" What are his time-setting limit and how does he propose to achieve it'! Without that, and, in writing, for distribution to every single school teacher in this Province, without that, we can only believe that the whole thing has been political - not for education.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Minister will close the debate.
MR. BROTHERS: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that worries me about this debate is the general attack that is being made on the Civil Service by both the Liberals and the NDP combined. Now the Liberals say that all this legislation is put up by mandarins and I don't know really what is wrong with the word, mandarin, myself. On the other hand, it seems to be a scurrilous attack on Civil Service - if that's what it is in Ottawa. The former leader of the NDP said, before the last election, that, if his Party got into office, there would be many Civil Service heads that would roll in Victoria. So, if anybody is anti-Civil Service, it's certainly the Liberals and the NDP in this House today (interruption).
Well, I'd like to say one thing that you said, Mr. Member from Cowichan-Malahat. You said that, in the case of an individual, if he went to work for a company, and he knew what the rules of the company were and he had to belong to
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the union, then, he had the alternative of getting out and working somewhere else. That's fine. Yes, he could perhaps work somewhere else in the Province but, with a teacher, he cannot teach anywhere in British Columbia without belonging to the B.C. Teachers' Federation. You ask me one of the reasons why this bill was brought forward. It was because, in my travels around the Province, many hundreds of teachers protested at being forced to belong to the BCTF, when it should be a voluntary matter. That's why this Section 1s here today.
Talking about the change in the structure of the organization, this is one of the things that really does amaze me about the critic for the NDP, when the Member for Burnaby North was talking about the change in the structure. Now yours is the first voice that I've heard, and the bill has been on the books for two weeks or better, yours is the first voice I've heard complaining or criticizing this move in the Department of Education. As a matter of fact, it seems to me, on the committee that we're sitting on together, somebody said, and I thought it was the president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, that this was a good move, to start moving in the form of direct relationship through superintendents to the deputy minister, directly to the Minister, and they were applauding this move. I think that the Member from Surrey said that, basically, the bill is all right as far as he can see. He's not so worried about this aspect of the bill and I'm surprised ... I gave the philosophy of our department, during my estimates, and you weren't there, my friend. Saying that, I will now move second reading, Mr. Speaker.
The House divided.
Motion agreed to on the following division:
YEAS - 34
NAYS - 15
|Hall||Williams, L.A.||Dailly, Mrs.|
Bill 47 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
MR. BENNETT: Second reading of Bill 49, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 49, An Act to Amend the Department of Highways Act. The Honourable the Minister of Highways.
MR. BLACK: Yes, Mr. Speaker, thank you. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Department of Highways Act and to authorize the acquisition and the possession by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council of lands adjacent to the right-of-way of proposed new, or newly-relocated highways, and to offer the sale or lease of such lands by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council for that purpose. The explanatory note that appears on the bill is self-explanatory. I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, this bill has been widely interpreted in the press as being something more than what it really is. I think it's important to review the particular history of what led to this bill being presented to the House and to express the regret we have that it's in the present form that it is.
Some three years ago I think it is now, the Member from Vancouver East brought to the attention of this House a certain series of property transactions alongside highways in British Columbia that related to Members of this particular Legislature. At that time, the Member, upon introducing the facts of property acquisition to the House, was attacked for being a bad fellow, was attacked for being a smear artist and was attacked for suggesting innuendo and suggesting false statements. At that time, Mr. Speaker, the Member stated outside the House everything that he had said inside the House. To this date, he has not been sued by the Government or any individual Members.
The policy that we were pursuing at that time was, essentially, a principle that land acquired alongside highways, that land value would change because of the construction of a highway, and the new value should be passed on to the people of British Columbia. That principle was pursued vigorously by Members of this House and it was a matter of great debate throughout the Province of British Columbia.
Many people, Mr. Speaker, became intensely interested in the proposition put forward by that Member, at that time, and other jurisdictions were shown to have policies and procedures that led to the acquisition by their own legal jurisdiction of lands alongside highways. When this material was presented to the House, in the heat of debate, a great deal of emotionalism was generated but very little light on the Government's part. Many of the newspapers of the Province of British Columbia printed the cases, the individual cases, of fantastic land values being achieved by the specific placement of a highway and having land close to the access to that highway. The newspapers broadcast throughout this Province details of these particular developments. As a matter
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of public policy, the debate raised in this House and by the interpretation of some of it, led to the resignation of the former Minister of Highways. We were given a number of interpretations of that particular resignation, ranging from a very severe toothache to the fact that the Minister's family had taken trips on a plane to Wichita, Kansas, or somewhere.
It appeared to us, at the time, that the reason the former Minister of Highways was deposed was because there was a cloud of suspicion around the sale of land alongside highways. That was the appearance that I drew, that was the appearance that many people in British Columbia drew. It's a matter of opinion, Mr. Speaker. The Minister has given his reasons. We have interpreted ours. For one month, however, after the former Minister of Highways resigned his seat, we had a new Minister of Highways. He lost his post. We had a new Minister of Highways and, of course, that new Minister of Highways did not explicitly state what the reasons were why the former Minister resigned but he did, in his short tenure in office, make only one announcement related to new highways policy. That one announcement was directly related to the debate that, in some people's opinion, led to the resignation of the former Minister. The announcement by the Minister of Highways, who served for a little over 30 days, at that time, of new policy was as I will read. He said, on April 8, 1968, "'All highways throughout the Province,' Highways Minister Bennett said, "On all highways throughout the Province, it will be the Government's policy, and I have so instructed the Deputy Minister of Highways, that we are to secure land where there will be development and ahead of time. We haven't yet decided policy on whether we will put the lands up for bid or lease them.' Later outside the House" and I'm quoting from the Vancouver Province, Mr. Speaker, "Bennett was asked for elaboration on his statement. He told newsmen, 'In the construction of new highways, in the future, at junctions where there will be development and so forth, the Government, before they build the highway, will make sure they own these areas. We are considering the question of whether we will own it or put it up for bids or to continue to own it and lease it out.' Asked if he thought the new policy would be a big revenue-producer for the Government, Bennett said it would depend on the individual development. When the reporter sought an explanation for the reasons of the new policy, Bennett told them, 'It has been my policy since I have been Minister. I have announced it in the Legislature in the proper manner, at the proper time and in the place to announce it."'
He became Minister of Highways and, within a matter of weeks after becoming Minister of Highways, felt compelled to make this new policy announcement. For those who wish to believe that this policy, in some way, was connected with the resignation of the former Minister of Highways, they have a great deal to speculate on. Because the circumstances of the debate, at that particular time, and the sudden ending of the tenure of the former Minister of Highways, coupled with this almost immediate announcement by the Premier of new highways policy, indicated to the people of British Columbia that something was wrong, that it was going to be changed and it was going to become permanent policy to protect the rights of the people of British Columbia related to the expenditure of their tax funds.
Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment of this debate to the next sitting of the House.
Motion agreed to.
By leave of the House, on the motion of Mr. W.L. Hartley, Motion No. 10, standing on the Order Paper in his name, was withdrawn.
The House adjourned at 5:54 p.m.
The House met at 8: 00 p.m.
On the motion of the Honourable W.A.C. Bennett, the House proceeded to the Order "Public Bills and Orders."
HON. W.A.C. BENNETT (South Okanagan): Second reading of Bill 6 1, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 6 1, An Act to Amend the Soldiers’ Land Act. The Honourable the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources.
HON. R.G. WILLISTON (Fort George): Mr. Speaker, this act to amend the Soldiers' Land Act is very simple. As many Members of the House realize, over the past few years, we have been winding up the old South Okanagan land project at Oliver. We are presently re-establishing the system, preparatory to turning it over to the administration of the irrigation district in that community. This section of the act, as proposed at this time, will allow us to dispose of the assets at that time to the district, or elsewhere if the district doesn't wish to acquire some of the assets which are now to the credit of the South Okanagan land project. I would refer to some goods and machinery of this nature - older vehicles, which they may not wish to acquire and which may have to be dealt with otherwise. This amendment merely gives us power to be able to dispose of these goods. I move second reading.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. D. BARRETT (Coquitlam): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Second Member for Vancouver East, I move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House.
Motion agreed to.
MR. BENNETT: Second reading of Bill 62, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The second reading of Bill 62, An Act to Amend the Land Registry Act. The Honourable the Attorney-General.
HON. L.R. PETERSON (Vancouver-Little Mountain): Mr. Speaker, Bill 62 is An Act to Amend the Land Registry Act. The bill contains a number of amendments which are unrelated to the Land Registry Act and, for that reason, can, perhaps, best be dealt with when we deal with the bill, section by section, in the committee stage. I would, however, point out that one of the provisions of the bill does incorporate a proposal for reform formulated by the Law Reform Commission of British Columbia. The commission's report was filed with the House earlier in this Session. I move that the bill now be read a second time.
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MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Burnaby Edmonds.
MR. G.H. DOWDING (Burnaby-Edmonds): I move adjournment of this debate to the next sitting of the House.
Motion agreed to.
M& BENNETT: Second reading of Bill 71, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Bill 71, An Act to Amend the Controlled Access Highways Act. The Honourable the Minister of Highways.
HON. W.D. BLACK (Nelson-Creston): Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is clearly enlarged in the explanatory notes, although I should say that the present act, under which we are operating, says that the Minister may prohibit access to the highway except at such places as he may designate. This leaves the onus, at least, theoretically, Mr. Speaker, on the Minister to say in each case that access is denied. The proposed legislation requires a valid permit to use any access and it clarifies that a permit is required to construct or use an access. That is exactly what the bill proposes. I move second reading.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the first Member for Vancouver East.
MR. A.B. MACDONALD (Vancouver East): Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment of this debate to the next session of this House.
Motion agreed to.
MR. BENNETT: The adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 4, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Adjourned debate on the second reading of Bill 4, An Act to Amend the Teachers' Pensions Act, 1961. The Honourable the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources.
MR. WILLISTON: Mr. Speaker, the other evening, when we were debating this bill on second reading, I outlined some of the background covering the Teachers' Pensions Act, payments into the Teachers' Pensions Act, the relationship between the Teachers' Pensions Act, today, and the payments going into it and the other acts, such as the Civil Service Act, which, from a contributory nature insofar as the Crown was concerned, placed them on a somewhat equal basis. I just wish to wind the point up, Mr. Speaker, to say that, if, in the period of negotiation concerning the provisions that have been granted in the present Teachers' Pensions Act, and most of the debate is concern ' ed with the payments being made to retired teachers, and not to the teachers who are presently on staff . . . As all Members know, the revision of this act has incorporated three very basic provisions which will affect the actuarial consideration of the validity of the fund in the ensuing years. The three were the 2 per cent formula, the 35-year total and no payment thereafter, and the removal of the ceiling on the pension fund and the seven-year provision for determining the amount of the pension. Each one of these clauses presents a major change in the bill, to which I think everyone is, basically, in agreement.
The matter of debate has been on the retired pension provisions and, as I indicated the other night, the retired pension provision presently in effect for teachers is actually, in some instances, superior to that for other civil servants and as I also indicated the other evening, to be treated similarly as they have for the active teachers at the present time. Unless some changes were made by the teachers in their negotiations, then, you can't treat this pension fund, basically, different from the other pension funds which are up for consideration at the present time.
Now, had this been the desire of the teachers, in negotiation, it could have been handled and had the plight of the retired teachers been given the consideration which now appears should have been given, then, that should have been a matter, basically, for active consideration at the time. It could have been done in many different ways, for example, and to do it they would have had to change that pension fund from the other pension funds to which the basic contribution is all the same at the moment. The teachers, in negotiation, would have had that matter before them and until the actuarial impact of these changes became apparent, whether or not the fund could, in fact, handle these additional charges and handle it and still remain sound.
As I indicated, also, the other evening, Mr. Speaker, several of us have been through the Teachers' Pension Fund once before, when it became actuarially unsound and could not pay its pensions. It had to be revived and it was revived, at that time, by teachers taking action and paying into the fund. We all paid into the fund, first of all a yea's contribution, for which we received no return and, then, for a period of time, for many years, as a matter of fact, we put in a percentage of salary to rehabilitate the fund at that time, for which there was no return. Now the fund ... (interruption).
The years? We are talking about the 1930's and in the 1940's, back in there. Now, the fund has become actuarially sound and the impact of these provisions, from the standpoint of an actuary, I don't think has been fully determined. I don't think anyone can determine now ... For example, it's been possible for a teacher having taught for 35 years to elect early retirement. All of these matters and the impact on the fund, I think, still have to be determined. The point I was making was that, if it were still, from the standpoint of the teaching profession, that they wish the retiring teachers to have special consideration, at this time, until the actuarial soundness of these provisions had been determined, it could have been done in one of many ways. It could, for example, for the teachers who continued beyond 35 years and no longer make contribution to the pension fund - in other words, they have come up to their 70 per cent of their seven years' actual earnings - it could have been a provision that they continued on with their contribution, that contribution, instead of being returned could have, in fact, gone to the retired teachers' fund and, then, it would have placed it in a different position, basically, from the other pension funds that we are debating at the present time. That was one thing.
They could have added a half of one per cent, a percentage point, whatever they determined, to assist this in a special way insofar as the retired teachers were concerned, bring it up and take a look at the actuarial effect of the work they had been doing. They could have delayed for a period, with the 2 per cent average formula, with the ceiling off the top, with the 35-years' payment. They could have delayed the ten to seven years which has an effect until the actuarial
[ Page 700 ]
soundness had been proven and, at the same time, given the retired teachers an added lift. But these things, none of them, Mr. Speaker, were done. They were left on the same basis as all of these funds and, therefore, both at the pay-out level and insofar as the retired teachers are concerned, there is some degree of equity that must be established between the two, particularly when all of the employer's contribution is made by the Crown, by the Government, directly in the same case.
There is one other case, and I have some argument with the basic whole business behind the Teachers' Pension Fund and that's this. When the Provincial Government pays the entire employer's contribution, this part I don't think is fair, in any instance, because wherever the teacher negotiates his salary, whether it's in Vancouver or whether it's in Prince George, my own area, or Kamloops, or somewhere else, automatically, they have negotiated their salary and they determine a percentage of their pension. Automatically, when they determine a percentage of their pension, then, the people of British Columbia as a whole, not their own employers, if it's not made a particular item, but the employers as a whole pay into that fund, a block fund, and pay that portion when they've negotiated it, say, in Vancouver or Kamloops or wherever it may be. Automatically, that negotiation has drawn from the public, in general, a higher impost insofar as the individual is concerned, so far as the pay-out for pension. This has long been a contention of my own. If we are going on that type of a pension fund, then, the pay-in and the pay-out and the negotiation, both by the employer and the employee, like every other pension fund, should be a balanced situation and, then, the pay-out, when you've got it, finally, can reflect that difference which resulted from the negotiation which the teachers happened to carry out.
I return, Mr. Speaker, to my basic assumption that, if they intended the retired teachers to be treated differently, that was a major matter in negotiation, and should have been reflected on a priority basis insofar as the negotiation on the pension situation took place. It should have been indicated that the position of the retired teachers was one of the basic matters which should receive prior consideration in the re-evaluation of the act. By and large, I think everyone, with the exception of the impact on the retired teachers, think that the move is forward, with this vested fund. I think, eventually, likely, the vested fund, given the actuarial situation here, because it's one of the only vested funds in Canada - the teachers' is, here - will likely be able to handle this. No one can make this decision, Mr. Speaker, after a decision by the actuary and people who know something about this. People seem to reflect that this is a fund that Government or somebody else toss around and pay in and pay out, but the basis, upon which the payments are made, are by independent actuaries in the evaluation of the fund. I think the impact of what we are doing at the present time . . . I don't think at any time has one fund been subject to as many major changes as has the Teachers' Pension Fund and this change that's going on at the present time (interruption).
There is a guaranteed ... No, not on interest, not on that, but there is a floor guarantee that has been worked on (interruption).
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Honourable Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know that much about pensions but I know what's coming in the letters that I get. I know that our pension is a good one. I understand that the politicians have got a good pension. I'm glad, you bet. The Cabinet has got a good pension. The M.L.A.s have got a good pension, Mr. Speaker. I know that. I don't know the details, but I know my colleagues tell me that we've got a good pension. I'm happy for it and I'm happy the Cabinet's got a good pension, too.
Mr. Speaker, having said that, I believe in security and I believe in rightful payment and reward for good service earned. In my opinion, the service of the Cabinet might not be that good but, in their opinion, our service might not be that good. I'll tell you we've taken good care of ourselves, Mr. Speaker. We've taken very good care of ourselves. I'm proud to stand up and vote for my pension. But if I'm prepared to vote for my pension, there has to be some compassion for other people and understanding for other situations.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources confuses me. Mr. Speaker, will you tell those who had a late lunch to be a little more quiet - an early supper, or late lunch, or whatever it was. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources suggested that the teachers should have been in contact with the Government earlier. They took a strike vote on this. Is he living in the same Province I live in? This has been a public issue for almost a year, since the election, a year and a half. For the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources to get up and say, "Well, they didn't come to us early enough," I can't believe that. That's just sheer rubbish to borrow an expression from Oak Bay.
The Minister says the actuarial basis ... the Government has never invited the teachers to sit in on the pension board to decide where the funds should be invested. You've never asked them to do that. You've taken their money and you've invested it mid where have you invested it? Did you ask them where the money should be invested? I understand the fund is over $165 million now, I think that's correct. I think it's growing, by $18 million a year, I think that's correct. I think the pay-out is less than $8 million a year, I think that's correct. The fund is growing by $10 million a year. Can't you break loose some money for some of these people? How long will it take to do that? This Government, Mr. Speaker, has broadcast throughout North America that they are the fastest growing place in North America. Naturally, if we are growing, we are going to have more teachers paying in more money into the fund over more periods of years. How many teachers are we talking about? Surely to goodness, there is a need to respond to a simple request.
What are you going to tell a retired teacher, when you go back to your constituency - "I understand that you've got a large grocery bill but, if it gives you any comfort, you should have heard the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources explaining why you can't pay your grocery bill. That would make you feel better." I'm sure that will help them at the grocery store and help them with their landlords and help them make their insurance payments because the word of the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources will go a long way to pay bills.
Here's a letter I got. "As you know, the teachers of this Province are much concerned at present about pension changes just now. A group, to which I belong, Old-timers Retired, are disturbed and disappointed that our members, many of them quite old, have no prospect of an appreciable improvement in the pension at this time. Those who are
[ Page 701 ]
putting our case before the authorities in Victoria urge the rest of us to write their members - the more letters the better. Now, I'm writing to the only member, whom I know personally and with whom I have had a long acquaintance." This is a former teacher of mine - my behaviour when I was at high school, I thought would never lead her to write me again. She is a personal acquaintance of other members of this House who graduated from the same school - one of the McNiven sisters, one of the best and most respected teachers in the city of Vancouver. It almost embarrasses me - I won't read the other part, what she says about me, because it embarrasses me to think that the trouble I caused her in school and she'd be kind enough to write the way she does about me. I won't read the reply where I even admit some other things in there (interruption). Let me say that this wasn't the first place that I was expelled from. It's not the worst either and it's not the best. Here is a woman ... I want to read excerpts from it. I must censor this a great deal. "Now, perhaps, you can do nothing for us. I don't know what goes on in that incredible place, but if a word or two is all you can add to any discussion, then, I feet it would be offered on our side. I am not a militant type," and if you knew this teacher, you'd know very well that she means, exactly what she says, "I am not a militant type but I feel I must give my support to those who are. Much success to all your undertakings, Sincerely, Margaret McNiven."
This woman hasn't got enough money to live on out of her teachers' pension. This woman is nonpolitical. She was a Latin teacher, as I recall her at school and a tough Latin teacher at that. She was a dedicated teacher, who gave, I imagine, about 35 to 40 years of her life, as a spinster, to the school system and to the education of children who were entrusted to that school. Miss McNiven, I am sure, doesn't know anything about politics. I am sure they never interested her. I am sure that this is the first time she has written a politician. She almost apologizes for writing to me. Mr. Speaker, what am I going to tell her? What are we going to tell the other teachers? (Interruption.) That's not good enough either, that the Government let me down. The Government's not letting me down. I'm doing all right, thank you, by the pension that we voted for ourselves. But what am I going to tell her about the debate here? What are we going to tell them about the efforts of their colleagues to get them a better pension? Do none of you have any memories of your own school years and the kind of commitment that teachers, who are now retired, gave? Believe me, Mr. Speaker, the teachers of 20 and 30 years ago and 10 years ago worked much harder and in far more difficult circumstances than the present teachers do, with less comments, less militancy and less complaint.
It was a different world, then, an entirely different world. Many of these teachers bore the brunt of low salaries, large classes, at a time when the community was not demanding a quality of education or standard of education that the community demands now. All it takes is, not the explanations of the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources, but it takes a position of the Premier of this Province to stand up and say for those teachers, who are now on pension, that we'll give them a decent living pension.
I have a letter from another woman, whose pension after 35 years is $131 per month. She's single. Thirty-five years service and her pension is $131 per month. She is 64 years of age. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that, if she turned down half of her pension, she could apply for welfare and be far better off? Do you know that, as a single person on welfare, if she rejected half of her pension, she would be far better off, financially - after 35 years of teaching? We can tell her that if she plays it right, she'd be better off on welfare.
Certainly, the pension had its problems in the late 1930's. It had its problems in the late 1940's and the Government of the day is to be congratulated for rescuing the pension. I'm not complaining about that. Well, whatever Government it was, they didn't back down on it. Those ones have done a good job. They've built the fund up to $165 million but, tell me, what is the point of telling her that the fund is up to $165 million, when all she can get out of it is, if you kick away half of your teachers' pension, you'd be better off on welfare? She would get her basic welfare allowance, she would get her rental allowance and, at her age, she might even get a medical benefit and the dietary benefit. You talk about deadbeats on welfare as the Minister claims. Can a retired teacher, who rejects her pension to get a better deal on welfare, be considered a deadbeat? There is security, my friend. Mr. Speaker, there is far more security in the kind of welfare that exists in this House. I'm not recommending it, but I am trying to point out to you the absurdity of the position that the Government has taken. How do you handle it, Mr. Member? Will you get up in this House and tell us how a woman of 64 years of age lives on $131 per month after 35 years of teaching and that she must feel all right because the Government has rescued the pension plan and her sacrifice has enabled that rescue to take place? It is incredible.
Of course, a year from now, she will be eligible for the old age pension, as my friend from Cowichan-Malahat points out, of $135 if she qualifies for the supplement. That's not what it's all about, Mr. Speaker. The Member's right. Do these people have to rely on charity or on welfare for the years of service they have given? They've paid into this pension plan. They've given the service. It's their money and the teachers who are now working have said very clearly that they wish to support the drive to provide better pensions.
I'm going to be able to go back to my constituency and I'll say very clearly that, "I stood up, Miss McNiven, and I added my voice." Is the vote going to be strictly on party lines, too? Is it going to be, when the chips are down, when we ask in committee for a better pension, are you going to stand back and not fight for a decent living wage for these people? Isn't there anyone over there at all that's got some human feeling about a unique plight that these people are in? Is there no way at all that ... (interruption). Certainly, it's emotion! I heard that. Certainly, it's emotion. If you can't get emotional about a woman who has taught for 35 years and trying to live on $131 per month, then, you're pretty coldhearted. You know, Mr. Speaker, if there is to be no feeling for people, if there is to be no understanding of unique situations, well, what's the purpose of Government' I've heard Members get up and plead for this issue, for that issue - chronic care, nursing home care, why do they do it' They don't come here ... I don't suspect that any Member over there gets up and pleads for chronic care, or nursing home care, on the basis of trying to gather votes. They are doing it because they are feeling strongly about an issue. But, this is an issue that all of us can feel strongly about. All it takes is a little move by the Premier of this Province to say that we will do the right thing by the retired teachers. Why should they have to carry the brunt of a pension fund that they don't even have a voice in administering'! They are not militant in terms of demanding this or demanding that out of the Government. They took a strike vote and they said 88 per cent would even go on strike on behalf of the retired
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I don't understand, Mr. Speaker, why we even have to take up the House's time on an issue like this, because deep down we all know they all deserve a better pension deal. What's blocking it? What is the incredible barrier of the mind that exists over there that allows this kind of situation to develop into a heated, political issue? I don't understand you. I just don't understand you at all because you have received the same kind of letters we have. It's not going to cost all that amount of money. It's their own money. They have put in tremendous years of public service. These are not people that are drains on the taxpayers. They have lead honourable, decent, contributing lives to the growth of this Province. They are not deadbeats, n'er-do-wells, malcontents, charity grabbers. They are not even greedy. They are just asking for a decent standard, a decent income. Why does it have to become a political issue? I ask the Minister the Provincial Secretary why can't they give them a decent pension?
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for West Vancouver-Howe Sound.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver-Howe Sound): Mr. Speaker, I was a bit surprised to hear the Honourable Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources, in making references to this bill, speak about the fact that the employer's portion was paid by the people of the Province of British Columbia, as if this were something unusual. Because, Mr. Speaker, while the present amendment will do a very satisfactory job for those teachers who are presently employed in the profession, the ones we are talking about, the ones the Opposition just referred to, they contributed to this Province. They made it what it is (interruption), so did every pensioner, that's right. But you control this money, this is the other point, Mr. Speaker. It may be that the people of the Province contributed the money but it's the Minister of Finance of the Province who invests $177 million for the benefit of the people of the Province, $95 million of which is in B.C. Hydro to the benefit of all the people in the Province. Look at the figures, Mr. Speaker. December 31 (interruption). All right, there you go. "Where was the fund when we took it over?" The Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources quite accurately said that the fund went bankrupt. It had to be restarted. But, Mr. Speaker, it's the retired teachers, who were present when that fund had to be restarted, who made their contribution without credit, who gave the additional contributions that the Minister referred to, that got the fund going. They are the ones we are talking about. Why is it, Mr. Speaker, that they are left, forgotten, at the time of this amendment? The Leader of the Opposition has read a letter. We've all had letters. I've got one here -mine happens to be more money - $210 a month is the pension. Under this act, she's going to get $14. That's going to be her benefit from this amendment.
What did the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources say? He says that the fault was that, when the amendments were being considered, the people in the teaching profession with whom the Government Minister negotiated, forgot these people. Well, surely, it's the Government's responsibility to remember these people. That's what we are asking them to do now. The Minister himself offered four or five ways in which this could be accomplished. Are we to be told at this stage, Mr. Speaker, that the Government is not running this Province, that the Government is not bringing in this bill, that they are doing what they are told to do by some group outside Government? I don't believe it and no one in this House believes it and no one in this Province believes it. If this Government had wanted to do a job for the retired teachers, those who have served this Province as teachers for over 40 years, this Government would have seen that it was done, and there is a way. For the Minister to suggest that the negotiators for the B.C. Teachers' Federation, or whoever it was they talked to, couldn't come up with any proposals, I've been told, since this bill was introduced, that proposals have been suggested to the Honourable Minister by the BCTF, to provide additional monies. One of the ways is to keep the contributions coming from those who are presently employed as teachers until the additional monies can be produced which will make it actuarially possible to provide these retired teachers with the pension increase, which will keep them in line and bring them up to the standards which are presently being suggested for those teachers who are still employed. That's only one way it could be done.
Like the Leader of the Opposition, I don't know anything about pensions, either, but there are people who are in the actuarial business who know about pensions. It's the Government's responsibility to get hold of those people and say what can be done.
The Minister should be withdrawing this bill until he gets it resolved. As a matter of fact, the argument that the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources presented was an argument to withdraw the bill and reconsider the section and bring it back before this House so a proper deal is given to these teachers, not the kind of empty address we got from the Honourable the Provincial Secretary, when he introduced the bill. About the section we are considering, now, Mr. Speaker, what did he say? It's a 7 per cent pension increase for retired pensioners. It's not true. It's 7 per cent, if you're earning $300, but if it's less, then I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you will recall, or realize from reading the bill, that what they have done is cut off the pension above $300 in order to bring up the pension limit for the people who have lower pensions. It's a crook's game, in order to make it look good, not less than $10.50, not more than $21, but not 7 per cent, which happens to fall some place in the middle range of pension benefits. So, we had from the Honourable the Provincial Secretary, when he introduced this bill, just a passing glance - 7 per cent increase for the people who are already retired. But, I noticed, Mr. Speaker, a significant thing. When the debate commenced on the second reading of this bill, after I believe one speaker had participated in the debate, the Honourable the Minister went and got a podium and put it on his desk with some papers. He's ready to reply after the debate is over. He should be telling us about this when he introduced the bill for second reading, Mr. Speaker. I implore the Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, to take this bill back, to sit down with the B.C. Teachers' Federation, to look at it with your actuary, with all the staff you've got who understand this pension system, and do something for these retired teachers. Their numbers are known, their life expectancy is determinable. You know exactly how many retired teachers fall into this classification. You know precisely how many dollars are involved. It's as simple as mathematics. It's as simple as multiplying and subtracting and subdivision. That's what you fellows do well over there. Well, try a little subdivision on this and see if you can't carve up a better deal for the retired teachers.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Kootenay.
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MR. L.T. NIMSICK (Kootenay): Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that deals with people and, as representatives of the people, we should be considering people. I realize that our Cabinet Ministers are pretty cold-blooded when it comes to positions such as this, but I am surprised at the backbenchers of this Government, Mr. Speaker, taking the attitude they take in this regard - only placing a rubber stamp on what the Cabinet does. I think we should hear from more people in this House as to reasons why ... (interruption) and you're a good rubber stamp yourself. Mr. Speaker, that's all ...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. NIMSICK: Mr. Speaker, that's what has been often said about people sitting on the Government side, that the average backbencher is a rubber stamp to the Cabinet. It shows very clearly in this House because, in a case like this, when we are dealing with people, they say very little to support these people who really are senior citizens and are senior teachers.
When you look at the pension fund - $165 million - in the fund for the Government to use to build their dams and other things, probably that's why you're afraid to relinquish any of it. When they pay out $6 million per year, and $18 million goes into the fund - $18 million against $6 million -the fund is going to continue to increase and yet they are going to leave these teachers out on a limb, leaving them in a position where they will have to go and probably apply for welfare, in order to get enough pension to live on. Is this the proper way to treat people, people who have served the Province of British Columbia over the years? There will be an increase of $12 million and when we hear this Government ... I didn't hear them say anything tonight about this increase, about this is the best pension in all Canada. I didn't hear them say anything about that, tonight. When they talk, Mr. Speaker, about the pensions previously and that the teachers should have come sooner - the teachers came sooner. They were here last year on the pension scheme and they told you then that they were going to take a strike vote if nothing was done. Nothing was done and then you look at the pensions that the teachers got under last year's scheme. In 1970, the B.C. teachers with 35 years service, $349 at the age of 60, or $418 at the age of 65. An Alberta teacher gets $386; a Saskatchewan teacher gets $578; a Manitoba teacher gets $441; and an Ontario teacher gets $577; a Quebec teacher, that Province that's in a harder position than we are, a teacher gets $680 at the age of 60; and a New Brunswick teacher gets $696, against B.C.'s teacher, $349. A Nova Scotia teacher gets $680 against B.C.'s teacher, $349. A B.C. civil servant, $596; B.C. Hydro, $514; and Federal Civil Service, $659, against a British Columbia teacher of $349. The older teachers, the ones, who are already retired, are getting less. You got these. They sent these to you and you, probably, didn't even recognize them because you blindly go down the line with the Cabinet. That's the trouble with you, you haven't got any say in this House - except the Cabinet -and what the Cabinet says, you endorse it wholeheartedly, just a good rubber stamp.
Mr. Speaker, I think this bill is deliberately put up the way it is to make a confrontation with the teachers. I think that a great deal of credit must go to the teachers who are presently paying into this pension fund, who are working now when they think of the retired teachers who have gone before them. I think they should receive a great deal of credit for that, and the fact that they are threatening strikes ... but 1 think this Government is trying to force them into a comer. Mr. Speaker, this Government is trying to force the teachers into a position where they'll have to, maybe, strike, in order to protect the teachers who are already retired. Are you trying to make a confrontation with them? Are you deliberately doing it? Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister, are you deliberately doing it? It sure looks like it. It looks like you would like to have a confrontation with the teachers, by the way. And you, too, Mr. Speaker, as a Cabinet Minister, you are one of the ones that endorse this. You're living fat and you've got a fat pension coming up. You know that but you've got no thoughts for the little people, the people who have gone before, no thought at all (interruption). You probably got your share out, when you left. Well, probably you are looking for it, yet.
Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, as representatives of the people here, I think each and every one of us should give some concern for the people who are outside this building, who are struggling to try to make ends meet. That's our job here to try to divide up the pie so that everybody has a right to live. Those people who have no economic bargaining power, such as the retired teachers - the only bargaining power is because the teachers who are working now have got a little compassion for them, far more compassion than this Government's got for our retired teachers, far more compassion than the Government's got for anybody on the outside, or anybody who hasn't got enough.
I say, Mr. Speaker, that this Government should take this bill back and make a further amendment to it and give these people their rights. There's not that many teachers and you can't tell me, with $165 million in the kitty, that you cannot do it. That's just a bunch of hogwash as far as I'm concerned. I say to you and to the rest of the Members of this House that if we've got any compassion at all in our hearts let's show it, tonight, towards the retired teachers, the teachers who have gone before.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Second Member for Vancouver-Burrard.
MR. B. PRICE (Vancouver-Burrard): Mr. Speaker, I enter the debate on Bill 4 because, in the first place, I support it and, in the second place, I get a little bit tired of hearing things which I am quite sure are not fact. Many teachers have spoken to me about their pensions, during the past 18 months. I think they had very good reason to be concerned because there was room for some change in their pension set-up. I have read the material which the B.C. Teachers' Federation has sent to me and I'm convinced that nearly all of the things that they have requested in their written statements have been conceded to in Bill 4.
The active teachers, undoubtedly, will have a very good pension. When somebody points out that the fund is building at the rate of $18 million a year and when they suggest that that $18 million should be used to take care of old pensions I'd like them to answer who is going to take care of the pensions 10 years from now if they are going to start using up the fund which is being developed to take care of them, at the present time? Anybody that says a thing like that has no conception of what they are doing with the pension fund. It is ridiculous. I am sure the Members must know that. If they know it, they are only speaking to hear themselves heard. They are not stating facts which actually affect the teachers who are going to get these pensions. Mind you, I have had a great deal to do with trying to raise old-time pensioners'
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returns over the many years that I have been here, ever since 1958. The present day schoolteachers are, no doubt, getting a pension which is not thoroughly adequate. There is no argument about that. Some of them are probably very low, and I am glad to say that there is some help being given to them.
Let me tell you this, Mr. Speaker, the teachers who are presently earning money are not concerned with these old teachers. They are not concerned with these old teachers and there are many unions in the same position. They don't care about those who have already gone on pension and they won't help them out with those dollars and cents one bit. The teachers are exactly the same. They are not willing to dub in and help these old-timers. They are looking forward to their own pensions. I don't think that's a square deal.
I'd like to ask a question, Mr. Speaker, as to how the increased benefits for active and retired teachers are going to be financed? Don't forget there is a lot of money going to the retired teachers out of this fund and it's got to come from somewhere. I would like to know how it's going to be raised. The fact that the Government is putting it up $281 this year and is going to go to $548 by 1977 indicates that they are looking forward to the future and that these funds are going to be in good shape for some time to come. When a teacher is able to get 2 per cent of their years of service after 35 years, I don't care if you are talking Newfoundland, Quebec, or Ontario or anywhere else but, let me tell you, that teachers who are going to go on pension in B.C. are going to equal or better any Province in this Federal Dominion. One of your Members was talking of this a few minutes ago. They are going to get, in the future, pensions which are equal or better than anywhere in Canada. There's no argument about that, it's a fact.
AN HON. MEMBER: Have you got a heart?
MR. PRICE: Yes I have, but the people who are working as teachers right now, haven't got too much heart or, I think, they would be putting up a fund to help them. That's where the help for these old teachers should come from It should come, in part, from the teachers who are now working but they don't care and that's a shame.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh. How can you say that? Shame. Withdraw.
MR. PRICE: I can say it, Mr. Speaker, because I've had some experience with trying to get juniors to help out old age pensioners, and pensioners who are getting considerably less than the present-day teachers are getting.
AN HON. MEMBER: False, false.
MR. PRICE: No, it's not false. This is a fact. It's just not a fair deal to the Government to come along and to abuse it the way they have. I'd like to find out, Mr. Speaker, how many times pensioners, under the Teachers' Pensions Act, have already had increases and if these increases are equivalent to the consumer price index during the same period? I am quite sure that they are away ahead of it. I can't understand how some of you people feel that the fund is absolutely unlimited because it's certainly not. You can only take out of it what you put into it. Anybody who has had experience with the pension fund knows that.
Another question which I think should be answered, Mr. Speaker, is that the teachers claim that their contributions exceed the Government's contributions, ignoring the fact that Government contributions are not refundable upon the resignation of the teacher. In terms of the pension benefit itself, what is the approximate percentage attributable to the teacher contributions? This is something that I would like to know. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Cowichan-Malahat.
MR. R.M. STRACHAN (Cowichan-Malahat): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it's been a very interesting debate so far. The other day, the Member for Westminster read a letter from a retired teacher who was very concerned about the discrimination that exists in the present pension scheme. This retired teacher had died on his way to having this letter mimeographed. I think this letter makes it very clear that the last speaker hasn't really examined the bill, hasn't read the mail that has been coming to him, has paid no attention whatever to the bulletins that the B.C. Teachers' Federation has been sending to him and hasn't even read the newspapers on the comments by the teachers since this bill was introduced.
Last Saturday afternoon, I was in Duncan and I was approached by not one, but by several people who are now teaching and the first thing they said to me was, "What are you doing about the pensions for the retired teachers?" That was the first thing they said to me, Mr. Speaker. "What was this House going to do about the pensions for retired teachers?" The bulletins that the B.C. Teachers' Federation have put out have consistently emphasized the importance of improving the pensions of the retired teachers. Consistently - and for the Member to stand in his place as he has now done and attack the present teachers for lack of interest in the retired teachers indicates a complete ignorance on his part of what the teachers have been directing their attentions to.
AN HON. MEMBER: I would call it deliberate.
MR. STRACHAN: I wouldn't call it deliberate - that's unparliamentary. But the letter, which was written by a retired teacher - now deceased, as I say, he was on his way to have this photostated to send a copy to every Member -makes it very clear what can happen. Two teachers started in 1927, one of them retired two years ago. One will be based on a seven-year average and the other will be based on a ten-year average. When one retired the ceiling was $10,000, when the other retires the ceiling will be $12,500. One pension is based on 2 per cent since 1961, the other will receive 2 per cent for up to 35 years. Reduction for A's widow is 28 per cent, for B's it's 25 per cent. In addition, B qualifies for old age pension on retirement, while A paid $25 from his pension for advance payments for himself and his wife.
The Member from Burrard, who just sat down, said, "Where is the money going to come from?" Other Members have pointed out that there is $165 million in the fund - $6 million per year are paid out, $18 million per year are taken in. Currently - that's right. But what no Member has yet told the House, what the Minister who introduced the bill failed to tell the House, what the Minister of Lands and Forests failed to tell the House, is that, through all these years of high interest rates, all that has been actually attributed to the pension fund itself in this $18 million was a 4 per cent figure.
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As I understand it, the remainder goes into sort of a holding fund. There is a holding fund into which this is placed -anything above the guarantee. There is a holding fund in there somewhere because I checked on this just a few years ago and that was the information I got at that time when I questioned this 4 per cent (interruption).
Pardon? But the Minister didn't tell us that when he introduced the bill. He didn't tell us that. That's the sort of information that we should have had in this House, and what was happening to that holding fund, when, where and how that money came out of that holding fund into the available pension fund. He said nothing at all about that. Here we are, discussing second reading of a bill without the complete information and there is no indication to me that the situation has changed from the last time I checked, as I say, a few years ago. That 4 per cent was actually what went into the fund and anything that remained from the investments over and above that went into a special holding fund somewhere, and was not included in the $18 million. But that's the sort of information that we should have had put very clearly before the House, when the bill was introduced, so that we can determine whether or not there is money there to increase the pensions of the retired teachers of the Province.
There is no doubt that these people made a great contribution. They went through the years of the low wages for teachers. I remember, when my daughter graduated from high school, her grade one teacher showed up for the graduation, very proud of this student whom she had ushered into the school system, went all through life as a single woman paying into this pension fund, retired six or seven years ago. She was a very fine person and that's the kind of person who is now being offered somewhere between $10 and $20 per month increase in their pension. I feel that there are three classes and it is obvious from the bill. I can't refer to it by section, Mr. Speaker, but there is a section here that divides the teachers' pension benefits into three distinct classes. The retired teachers belong to the third class. They are third-class teachers' pensions and they are being offered ... this group that I speak of, who have done a tremendous job, and all of the teachers who taught my children in their early years are now retired ... As I say, I have spoken to teachers in my constituency, who are now teaching and they are concerned about them. Some of the retired teachers in my constituency have come to me also. I think that, in Us Centennial Year, 1971, this Bill 4 is not very much of a Centennial Year concession to the retired teachers who contributed so much to so many people in this Province, with its low wages, with the very limited teaching help that was available under the most difficult of circumstances. This Centennial Year concession, Bill 4, to the retired teachers of the Province is completely inadequate. When I go back to my constituency, I will simply be able to say that all of the Ministers of the Crown, who are in charge of the Teachers' Pension Fund, indicated that they felt they were doing very well by the retired teachers of this Province, who are not organized, who are not a strong group, who are not a threat to the Government, who are not questioning the Government, but are simply asking, "Well," . . . (interruption).
No, no. I didn't say that. I didn't say that, I said when I go back to my constituency I would simply have to say that not one of the Cabinet, who are in charge of this Teachers' Pension Fund, felt that the retired teachers were suffering in any way, that they needed any more money and that every single one of the Cabinet seemed to feel that $10 or a maximum of $21 was an adequate increase in the very limited pensions that these retired teachers will receive.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Second Member for Vancouver-Point Grey.
MR. G.B. GARDOM (Vancouver-Point Grey): Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the issue we've got here is not a political issue, it's an equitable issue. I heard the sentiments of the previous speaker, the Member from Vancouver Burrard, and in his speech he said to state facts. I think that, in this particular case, at least, insofar as I'm concerned, I'd perform better service to the House by stating the views that came to me from specific teachers who are constituents of mine. In each one of these, and I am not going to read these letters in total to you because I think all of the Members have received letters, they have all stated their case in very fair and in very just terms. In each situation they have made an equitable plea for a decent deal which, under Bill 4, they are not getting. Bill 4 is a four-dollar bill, insofar as the retired teachers are concerned.
These are some of the statements that these people have said. I think that they have raised very valid points and I would like to read them to the Members. This is one letter from a Miss Acorn, "Shocked to find that those already on pension who contributed so much to this pension fund when it was in deep trouble in the 1940's are now being deprived of the pension improvements which would help bring us above the level of the poor. It doesn't seem fair that those who have already retired shouldn't receive more pension improvement than has been suggested, since they, too, have helped to build up this present fund." Here's another one. "In 1941, we established a new fund which provided for all and it has grown to be one of Mr. Bennett's pet sources of funds, but we early teachers are the ones who paid dearly for it and, now, we are the dispensables." That's a very true statement, because these 2,500 people in B.C. are being treated as the dispensables. That's a very true statement, because these 2,500 people in B.C. are being treated as dispensables ... (interruption).
I'm reading the letters from these teachers, Mr. Member. If you don't want to hear them, you don't have to. You can always go out of the room and I'm sure you wouldn't be missed, as far as I'm concerned. "We think a little justice should be done, especially since we know the pension funds paid at present are only a part of the income our financing Premier derives from the Teachers' Pension Fund." That's a true point, and it's a good point. That was signed by a Mr. Houston. "The proposed legislation is unfair. Many of us who have spent our lives in the service of the children of this Province and have contributed to the pension fund since its beginning, now find ourselves receiving less than transient welfare receipts and are, indeed, close to the poverty level as set down by the Federal Government." Signed by Isabella Bevridge.
Here's another letter: "Our pensions are very inadequate to meet our day-to-day basic needs," and so forth and so on, "Money doesn't stretch. When I've paid my rent, $4.96 is the balance of my teachers' pension. Phone, light, food, medication, transportation and meagre clothing, etc., soon shatter the OAP."
Here's a wire: "Please remember the needs of the teachers retired. Most of them receive no Canada Pension. Those retired before 1971 will lessen in number each year," which
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they will, "and will not prove too costly to the fund since their salaries were, in cross-section, considerably less." Another plea for the dispensables. "I feel a gross injustice would be done if the money under discussion is not given to us in fair share." Signed by Mr. Timberly.
"What about the retired teachers? Why are they to be discriminated against in this manner? The meagre 7 per cent offered by your Government will still leave many teachers far below the poverty level. We're only pleading for justice." Here's another: "We served long and faithfully for the children of this great Province. We contributed the one per cent of our salary for many years to help establish the fund. This money has never been repaid to us. We also taught at a very important point," and I think, particularly, the older Members in the House will subscribe to this, "We also taught through the depression years, when it was impossible to save for the future. To state my own case, due to an unfortunate accident at school, I lost most of my sight and I was forced to retire at 50 in 1967. It was only during the last few years of my teaching career that salaries began to rise and continued to do so throughout the following decade. However, I did not have the privilege of sharing in these benefits," which is right because the dollar which had a dollar's worth of purchasing power in those days certainly does not have that today and we all appreciate that fact. "We retired teachers helped build the fund to what it is today. I appeal to you to plead on my behalf to see if you can get us a larger increase."
Here's another letter: "We worked hard and long to set up our pension fund. I consider the proposed increase an insult to the retired teacher." Here's another letter: "I taught in B.C. for 46 years and I contributed to the Teachers' Pension Fund during that time in the hope and expectation of being able to retire and maintain a moderate standard of living." This is why these people wish us to read these letters. They want to maintain a moderate standard of living. "We pensioners are largely responsible for building up our very substantial pension fund and surely deserve more consideration, especially since dispersements to pensioners are millions of dollars less than the annual increments to the fund." That was signed by Mr. Muir.
Here's the last one I'm going to read by Mrs. Shore. "My husband, Mr. Shore, school principal, passed away in 1948, aged 52. His pension is $153.43, income tax deducted $2.83, so I receive $149.50 a month. This I understand is approximately 1.4 per cent per year of service. As you can see, it is bare subsistence level and, now, according to Bill 4, 7 per cent is to be added, a mere $10 or so, which does not relieve the situation at all. Why go to all the expense and paper work, only to leave us where they found us." A very good point, a very good point. "Couldn't a sliding scale be worked out so that the old pensioners could live as we feel we are entitled to live, graciously and without the anxiety of coping with living costs which have been rising steadily. My sister, who taught in Alberta for many years, has just received an adjustment to her pension, an advance of 30 per cent, If they can do this in Alberta, surely in B.C., with our large reserves, we can expect a parallel increase."
Mr. Speaker, I'm unable in any way to give a valid explanation to these people or any kind of a reason to these people of the Government's position and the Government's stand in this case. Insofar as the current teachers are concerned, I think it's a good bill. Make no mistake of that. Insofar as the retired teachers are concerned, it's sadly lacking. I think that you should respond to these people and let's hear statements from your side why this has come about and why it could not be improved. You have not told the House why it could not be improved.
There are two sides to the coin but we have not heard that other side of the coin from you and quite frankly I cannot buy, Mr. Speaker, the fact that a formula cannot be worked out. There seems to be some sort of an attempt at least from the Honourable the Minister, when he spoke a little earlier, to blame the thing on arithmetic. Well, the Member from West Vancouver-Howe Sound said his very reasoning was to the effect that this bill should be hoisted. Let's hoist the thing. We've still got a few weeks to spend over here. Let's have the experts take a look at this thing to see how you can provide some degree of fair and reasonable enrichment for these retired people. 1, too, am not a pension expert, but I know one thing. According to the figures that I have been told, by virtue of these voluntary contributions, about $9 million went in around this 1942 period or so -how much did you say the fund is? $176 million - well, why can't we go ahead and isolate that $9 million and put it on one side of the tray and, one way or another, provide enrichment for these 2,500 people out of that portion of the fund. I don't think that would upset the applecart. If it will upset the applecart, why don't we hear this from an actuary?
I really and truly don't think that you've explored at all the fact that you can provide some assistance or not, to the extent that you should have. If the earlier retired teachers got the first kick at the can for that $9 million, this might be the solution that we want. Quite frankly I feel that you would like to find a solution to this thing, but it has not been found. I would respectfully request, as did the Member of the Liberal Party when he spoke earlier, that you adjourn this debate and take another look at the thing and have the experts, have the arithmetic people and the actuaries take a look at this one suggestion of isolating a bit of it. Maybe, that's not the way to do it. I haven't the foggiest idea, but you have not told me and you certainly haven't satisfied me and you haven't satisfied these retired teachers as to why they cannot receive some kind of enrichment now.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I do think, in order that we won't run into this type of situation again with other funds - I'm not satisfied that we're not going to run into it again with other funds - maybe all of the Government administered funds should be having a recheck done, a resurvey done, have a review of them and just see where they are going at the present time. Are we going to run into this situation with another Government fund'? Let's perhaps take a second look at the investments that are going into these funds to see if we can produce a better yield for the people who, in the final analysis, are the ones who are supposed to receive it and those are the retired people. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Burnaby-Edmonds.
MR. DOWDING: Mr. Speaker, I certainly believe, as some of the Members have already said, that there must be a better way. I listened with regret to words of the Honourable the Minister for Lands, Forests, and Water Resources because I got the impression that he was being a super technician, who believes that the actuaries make the laws, not this House. But, you know, that's quite the reverse of the profession of the actuary.
I had an enjoyable experience of trying to understand actuaries during an episode dealing with life insurance
[ Page 707 ]
companies. They were really, experts in figures. It's almost unbelievable for the layman to listen to an actuary figure out just how you arrive at this game of mathematics, of people's lives, the amount of money that is required is set aside, earning so much interest, to bring about the desired results. What really appealed to me about it was this, that the actuary said to me, "We can figure out these things almost certainly, but you have to point us towards the desired results. Do that and we'll tell you how to get there." Here we have a Minister of the Crown telling us that he doesn't know the social direction or the desired result that that's in the hands of the actuary. What a way to run a Government! I don't believe that that is the way this Government wants to be run.
I believe that everyone here is in favour of increasing the pensions of the retired teachers. I wouldn't be at all surprised if everyone on that side of the House had a teacher at one time or another and I wouldn't be surprised that you might even have got a letter from your old teacher (interruption). Well, mind you, they seem to be slow learners on this question of policy.
There really isn't a political dispute here. There is a question of a social change that is needed for a group of people who are, of all the people in the community, the most deserving. During the period of great economic adversity, these people, teachers, now retired, teachers who taught most of you, those people, as you know and as I know, went through adversity and economic conditions that teachers today and most people today know very little about. They had jobs, but you know, in some places they were trading potatoes for teaching. Don't say that they had it too good, they didn't. They suffered along with everybody else. There weren't many people, in those days, who were paying school taxes, too, don't forget that. A teacher, who got $100 a month, was considered pretty wealthy in a community, in the dirty 1930's. That's true, that's true. I'm sure the Minister knows, until he went into politics, that that's true. But, as far as the situation is concerned, we would have . . . (interruption). You saved me the trouble of saying it. That's the only smart thing that the Member from Vancouver Centre has said for quite some time.
The situation is this that the Honourable the Minister is asking us to support, in principle, a bill that is supposedly to increase pensions but leaves a whole section of the group out of real consideration. When you listen to the figures different Members have given us, you realize that the increase can be as little as $10 and $21 a month. It's not only the retired teachers who served the full term, but an even worse situation is for those who haven't reached a pensionable age.
I would urge the Minister to take another look at this. Really it depends on your answers how the rest of us in this House vote. If you say to us, before it comes up to committee, that you are going to take a new look at this and see if there is an approach, either the approach that the Honourable the Member for Point Grey suggests or another approach of a larger contribution for that small group of 2,500 people, if you could do that, of course, it would be welcomed on all sides of the House. It makes the bill palatable to the whole House and it shows a little imagination and a little compassion. I find it rather astounding when I think that the Honourable the Minister might well be one of those persons involved, had he not gone on to different things. He would be coming pretty close to that group, although he hides it very well. How close can you get to a catastrophe? I'm going to suggest that you just have to think of your own teacher, provided you are not a dropout, providing you learned something in school from some of these teachers. You think back on those teachers, not the one who took the Minister of Rehabilitation out in the woodshed, but the ones who somehow may have tried to impart something in him of humanity, of consideration for others and a desire to serve the community - those kind of teachers, who had a tremendous effect on the community over the years. They are the ones who are not asking for much and it's easy for this Government to do something about it. If anybody tries to tell me on that side of the House, as the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources did, that we are helpless to change social policy because of actuaries, I ask how in the world then did we change the pension funds and the workmen's compensation? How was that achieved? Well, I'm asking if that could be achieved, why cannot this be achieved? Is there some kind of a blind spot, or a blind area, or a twilight zone that cannot be penetrated by this Government on the question of actuarial experience? Is there no way that a fund can be set up that will take care of that group that, otherwise, cannot be brought into the new scheme of things at an appreciable level? Surely, to say that, would be a confession of governmental despair. It would be an admission of failure on the part of this Government that it hasn't got the technical personnel to exercise a policy of compassion that we all want to vote for.
I say, it's up to the Minister now. Would you either adjourn the bill for further consideration of this point, or postpone the committee stage of the bill until you can bring in amendments that will justify everyone in this House happily supporting the bill? If you can't do that, how could we possibly vote for one group in the community that are being bettered, while the other, the older, the senior group, that needs the most help is being left by the wayside by this Government
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable the First Member for Vancouver Centre.
MR. H.P. CAPOZZI (Vancouver Centre): The ramifications of this bill are, certainly, much more far-reaching than have really been talked about tonight. What we are really dealing with is not just the question of a pension in regard to the older teachers but really in regard to a pension which is held by every citizen in the Province of British Columbia. If we are going to deal with the fundamental concept that pensions themselves are inadequate and pensions now held by older citizens are inadequate, then, the real position to start from is that, since every senior citizen, receives a pension, shouldn't the Federal Government, when they made their alterations to the pensions and the pension fund, have taken a look at the old age pension itself' Tonight we have seen members of the Liberal Party stand and criticize an increase of $10 and $12. How can they possibly do that when 42 cents ... (interruption). Mr. Speaker, this is not a question of blaming Ottawa. This is a question of whether the public purse, the dollars, should be taken to alter a pension fund.
The real question, Mr. Speaker, that I want answered by the Minister, is a question, although it has been put partially by Members from this side of the House and the other side of the House, is what clear indication do we have that the present-day teachers, themselves, are not prepared to contribute more to help the older teachers? Before anyone, on this side or on that side of the House, can vote, in clear conscience, we must know whether the facts, the statement
[ Page 708 ]
which has been implied, if not actually stated, that the teachers, themselves, now earning and now working, are not prepared to give up part of their pensions to the older teachers ... I say, Mr. Speaker, it is on this issue that we must have some very clear-cut answers from the Minister. The question of the alteration of the past pension and the turning of Government funds into that, the moment we open that, then, we really are saying that every pension, everyone who is not on a teachers' pension, should also receive some contributions and increases, and other pensions, and every other person who are contributors. There are people all over. The real place to balance the inadequacy of our senior citizens was in the start from the pensions which are given to the senior citizens, which are completely inadequate. When we took at the $80 a month and the increase to $120, this is where they are inadequate, because it is the total fund, it is the total dollar, that they have to live on, because part of it is a reduction that they receive when they get their senior pension. I think that this is extremely important, Mr. Speaker. But, tonight, Mr. Minister, when you stand, I do want a very clear indication from you that every avenue has been approached and has been investigated - that those teachers who are presently working are not prepared to give up part of their amount to help the older teachers.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Richmond.
MR. E. LeCOURS (Richmond): Mr. Speaker, I shall be very brief but I feel that if I didn't rise and express my displeasure at certain sections of this bill, I would be failing in my responsibility to the retired teachers. I am not going to refer to a specific section but I'm just going to ...
Mr. Speaker, I know that the teachers who have been retired for the past number of years, are those, as has already been said, who worked for very low salaries. Because they worked for low salaries, they were able to save very little for their future. As a matter of fact, those who did save something for their future, had it eaten away by the fact that Governments in Canada, and I blame all Governments, have allowed inflation to overtake them and to deplete their life savings. I blame both the Federal and the Provincial Governments for allowing this to happen, because it could have been prevented. Now the fact that these people have suffered through inflation, we are going to call upon them, if I understand the bill correctly, to suffer some more.
I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that, for the most part at least, they paid a percentage of their salary similar to the percentage of the salary paid by the present day teachers. I think there were some exceptions to that in the early days. I'm not familiar with the pension scheme; however, this is my understanding. Now, if they paid a percentage of their salary, even though it was a small amount, when the salary was lower, the pinch was Worse, because they were giving up part of an inadequate salary. Therefore, I can't understand how we can justify a difference in formula in arriving at the pension that a retired teacher will get - one who retired last year as compared to one who will retire next year. Now, I just can't understand this. The honourable Members here will agree that, over the years that I've been in this House, I have repeatedly expressed a great deal of concern regarding justice. This doesn't seem to me to be justice, when you apply one formula to one group, and a different formula to the other group.
It has been suggested by the Honourable Member for Vancouver-Burrard that the present-day teachers are not concerned about those who have already retired and I would like to make a suggestion to the Minister that perhaps the present-day teachers would be prepared, in view of the fact that they are getting good salaries nowadays, they might be prepared to contribute an extra half of one per cent or perhaps even a little more, to make the pension of the retired school teachers adequate, or, at least, to put it on the same basis as their own will be when they retire. I don't see why one should be treated at a ten-year average and the other at a seven-year average. I say, let's put them both on a seven-year average if that's the formula. If it's 2 per cent per year, let it be 2 per cent per year, and let it apply to both. I just want to say this, Mr. Speaker, in closing, that, unless the Minister can convince me that the formula, as it is now, is just, unless it's doing justice to those who have retired in the past, I plan to oppose this bill.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Surrey.
MR. E. HALL (Surrey): Mr. Speaker, I want to say that, right from the outset, having agonized over this bill for some time, 1, too, will not be supporting it. The principle that is presented to us is to support a bill that has a good feature and a bad feature; therefore we must evaluate, on our principles, what those two conflicting sections do. We don't have to be, I think, sidetracked by any actuarial discussion because the information I've got, the information that I have been able to ascertain, proves to me that there is sufficient money, there is sufficient investment power, there is sufficient depth in that fund to give the retired teachers of this Province, that is, the currently retired teachers, of this Province a worthwhile pension.
You have to go to the first principle and the first principle of this bill is in the very title, itself - The Teachers 'Pensions Act. That deals with the teachers who have retired and the pension that they shall get. That must be the first consideration of any legislator when he's looking at pension legislation rights. If we don't do right by the people who have built up this fund, the people who have pioneered this Province, the people who have put their money where their mouths are, over these last 40 years, we do nothing, we do nothing. You can build up as much money as you want for the people who join the profession now, and it means nothing if you don't look after the people who had the idea in the first place.
I'm reminded, Mr. Speaker, of the pension discussions that go on in jurisdictions in other countries, when I saw railway workers in Great Britain who fought for a pension, and after working all their lives, get 5 shillings a week pension, while the people who are entering the industry today are going to get 5, 6 and 7 and 8 pounds a week - and I am going back ten years. That's not a principle I can support. The principle must be ... if that Member would only do some reading instead of talking, it would be a lot better ... the principle must be that we must look after those people who are referred to in the act, namely the pensioners of the fund. On that basis, after looking at this and looking at the half-loaf argument, and the attractive arguments that have been put forward, in terms of the Minister's opening remarks, I regret I must reject them. I will not support this legislation.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Revelstoke -Slocan.
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MR. B. CAMPBELL (Revelstoke-Slocan): Mr. Speaker, it was stated by the Member from Kootenay and the suggestion was made by other speakers in the debate that we are here to represent the people and, apparently, whoever supports this legislation somehow isn't doing that. Well, the fact is that we do represent the people, each and every one of us, and we don't represent any single power group or lobby or special interest group. We represent the general well being of all of the people and that's how we have to look at any of the legislation that is introduced into this Chamber. I think that, when a lot of these Members who have read from letters this evening, the important thing is not the fact that some of these people have made out very sympathetic cases for themselves, or at least stated a position, but the question to ask is how long have they been in the teaching profession, was all of their teaching service in the Province of British Columbia, what have their contributions been'? It has to be considered in that light. Certainly if we sit here this evening considering this matter, we also have to consider it in the circumstance and the environment in which it is presented to us outside of this Chamber and that, of course, is in the threat of a proposed strike by the teaching profession. I certainly would be amongst those who would hope and would urge the teachers not to strike. Those of us who have had youngsters ... the strike in the east and the west Kootenays this year, the janitorial or maintenance strike at the beginning of the year that tied up schools ... anybody who had children in that system knows that when they went back to school there was something missing. Those that have been tied up with continuing cold weather in the North country are something. Teachers know the disruptive effects of this type of school being closed and so do the parents. I respectfully suggest that teachers will certainly feel the full wrath of a very incensed public who will indicate most strongly what they think of teachers who would use innocent children as pawns in an unprofessional battle. Teachers should not be lead astray by an executive who believes that an apple a day is the answer to everything. I'm pleased myself that this Government and this Minister didn't cave in to this type of a threat.
The First Member for Vancouver Centre asked about whether the teachers, for example, wouldn't contribute towards a pension. The Member for South Peace River and myself had an evening meal with the executive secretary of the BCTF, Mr. Stan Evans, with whom we are all familiar, a real fine gentleman and a long-standing, personal family friend of my family. He said, at that time, that the teachers of the representative assembly, which they were calling on a Saturday, the recommendation of the executive that was going to that was that the teachers not strike but they consider contributing to a fund to help the pensions of the teachers already out. Under the present leadership of the BCTF they appear to be trying to emulate the militant teacher from New York, whom they brought into the city of Vancouver - Albert Shanker, a man who has lead two teachers' strikes in the city of New York and who has been jailed there twice. This is the type of atmosphere in which legislation is being considered here, this evening, with this kind of a threat outside, and the Burnaby Teachers' Association in conjunction with a few others. I would suggest that, if the teachers were to strike, then, it would likely last a period of time that even going back to work would look like a major achievement. Like the First Member from Vancouver Centre and the Member for Richmond, I certainly would challenge or ask the present practising teachers in the profession that, if they really believe that teachers already retired are badly done by, then a more positive approach would be to contribute to a fund to assist them and certainly it would show greater professional responsibility. In this legislation, the BCTF has asked for something like 12 points and got 11 of them in varying degrees. Certainly it is a good package. One last quotation which might be of interest ... When the legislation was first introduced in the House, the Vancouver Province quoted then: "Teachers Win Battle for Pensions - threatened Province wide strike by public school teachers evaporated Friday after the Government brought in a bill to raise teachers' pensions." Jim Killeen, president of the BCTF, said he was surprised and pleased about the proposal to raise teachers' pensions. What happened the next day - happy one day, disappointed the next. Why? Because they wanted the whole thing. I ask them to consider the comments, as a professional group, allegedly, of an editorial in the Creston Review published in the hometown of the Honourable the Provincial Secretary. Certainly a newspaper which I read fairly regularly and which is not very often a friend of this Government. What does it say? It says, "We would suggest that Mr. Killeen and his fellow teachers tread carefully. The taxpayers of British Columbia are fed up with the arrogant statements of disgruntled members of the teaching profession. If Mr. Killeen and his teachers are as disturbed with their careers as they would have taxpayers believe, we would suggest he and his group of malcontent colleagues look elsewhere for employment. It is apparent the BCTF and Mr. Killeen are more than willing to sacrifice the education of youngsters throughout the Province for the sake of the BCTF monetary goal. The parents and taxpayers of this Province will not be blackmailed into paying exorbitant fees and pensions. The parents of this Province will not allow their children to be sacrificed to the teachers' money machine." So we saw, last fall, advertisements placed in the papers throughout the Province of British Columbia and I was pleased that the Government didn't bow to the white-collar and starched crinoline blackmail of these expensive ads which threatened strike action and didn't give the teachers special, but rather fair and equitable treatment.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Oak Bay.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, I came to this debate with a certain degree of indecision in that, like many Members who have already spoken, I am no actuary and I am not familiar with the details of the financing of such a plan.
I would like to talk somewhat in a philosophical vein. I have received letters, as every one else has done, and I have listened with great attention to the debate tonight. I think, technically, if we wish to be very practical and strict about this in a technical sense, it is my impression that anyone's pension in a so-called contributory pension plan might surely depend on what you contribute. Now, the fact that the teachers now retired were earning low salaries and paying 6 per cent or whatever the percentage was of a low salary can, inevitably, only mean that the pension they will realize in terms of today's deflated dollar must, inevitably, be low. I am not disputing this. I am not saying who is to blame. But the fact is that they are now living in a time of severe inflation when the dollars they contributed, as 6 per cent of a low salary, are now worth very little.
Mr. Speaker, I think we are faced with a moral decision,
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rather than a strictly obligatory one of the part of Government. Again, I would repeat, I am speaking personally, without a detailed knowledge of the financing of this fund. Listening to this debate, I would assume that what has happened is that the Government has really gone overboard in providing a very excellent improvement to the teachers still teaching and has forgotten about those who have already retired. 1, perhaps should choose my words more carefully. Perhaps they did not forget about the retired teachers. Maybe this was a matter which was negotiated with the full awareness and the free choice of both parties. I would hope through you, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister would clarify this. As I see it, if Government has any obligation, it is a moral one. It is not, in my opinion, at least, a legal or obligatory one, for the reasons I have already outlined. I'm a little like the Member from Richmond. I like to see justice done and I think those teachers who did give loyal and honest service at a time when salaries were low and they probably sometimes didn't even get the salary, I understand - this was before my time. They, perhaps, in my view, as members of an association of professional teachers, struggled to do those jobs well, as was described this afternoon in an earlier debate. I do feel that there is a moral obligation to try, at least, to give them something in proportion to the benefits that axe now being afforded to the teachers presently teaching.
I think the situation resolves itself into two simple alternatives - that either the Government takes another look at these figures, which are to be paid as a contribution per teacher as the years go by up to 1977 and afterwards, which go up to $548 per teacher ... it would seem to me that, in this respect, the Government has been overly generous and has, therefore, used up sums of money which could be used to provide the already-retired teacher with a better pension. Therefore, I think the choices are simple, that these figures be still further reviewed, as I presume they could be, before third reading of the bill and again this would depend on highly skilled actuarial knowledge as to how they should be reviewed. I also accept, Mr. Speaker, that this would have to be done with the acquiescence of the BCTF. The other alternative revolves around the kind of information I have been able to uncover in regard to the Federal Public Service Superannuation Act, which I understand was amended as recently as 1969, to provide for retroactive escalation of the pensions of Federal public servants and of persons retired from the Canadian Forces or the RCMP. I am quoting from a letter, where the Honourable C.M. Drury, in presenting a plan to the House of Commons on December 19, 1969, said, "The contribution rate will be one half of one per cent each by the Government and the employees." It seems to me that, as a reasonable compromise to the two situations, this Government should either take a second look at the figures to be applied per teacher contribution between now and 1977 and perhaps revise them downwards, or come up with a specific proposal to the BCTF that, commencing whenever the new amendments commence, Government and present teachers contribute one half of one per cent each, and that that contribution shall immediately, or as soon as can be arranged, become available to enhance the pensions of those teachers who are already retired.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Burnaby North.
MRS. E.E. DAILLY (Burnaby North): We have been debating this for a number of hours and I certainly don't intend to read the letters, and I have received a considerable number from retired teachers which make the point, over and over again, which the other Members who have read their letters, make. It is a tragic situation that these teachers find themselves in and I certainly don't think there is any need for me to read my letters to make that point. But I must say that I was absent ... (interruption). Yes, I am going to come to that. I would first, though, like to comment on the speech from the Member from Revelstoke-Slocan, which I consider, Mr. Speaker, to be one of the most shocking anti-teacher speeches I have ever heard in this House. To suggest, at the beginning of his speech, that the teachers are a responsible group and, then, in the next minute, to belabour them for even suggesting, at a democratically-held meeting, that they take strike action, is completely inconsistent and most unfair to the teachers of British Columbia. He not only made that statement, but he condemned the leadership of the B.C. Teachers' Federation. Why is he condemning them? Because they are willing to give leadership in fighting for the retired teachers of this Province - not for themselves, their pensions are good. The executive members of the BCTF have excellent pensions but they are ready to go out on strike for those retired teachers and I don't think the Member comprehends how important this is to the B.C. Teachers' Federation. It is a matter of principle with them.
As far as the teachers, themselves, contributing to the pension, I simply cannot understand that suggestion. It is the Government's responsibility here. This is a pension fund and there is no reason why the Government cannot see that the retired teachers are treated fairly, none at all. I reject that suggestion completely. It's interesting to know that the retired teachers who write in, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, write fairly mild letters, they are tragic letters but they are mild. But it's the teachers who are receiving the good pensions today who are ready to go out and fight for those retired teachers. I would hope that each Member of the Government would seriously think about this question. You have a responsibility to those retired teachers. You can sit back, as has been pointed out, with excellent pensions yourselves, but those teachers struggled many years and worked very hard and contributed to a pension fund. Sure, we can get hung up with a very cold, calculating speech from the Minister of Lands, Forests, and Water Resources, a very cold speech. As our Leader of the Opposition said, if we sent that speech back to the retired teachers, I don't think they would feel particularly content with that. Is that what you, as Government Members, are going to do? Are you going to reply on those terms? I certainly wouldn't want to be in that position. I would be fighting for those retired teachers. I do hope that, when we stand up for the vote in this House, and certainly we on this side, intend to completely oppose this bill, I do hope that some of the Members on the Government side will vote this time from compassion and from need for these retired teachers.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for North Vancouver-Seymour.
MR. B.A. CLARK (North Vancouver-Seymour): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As many Members have said in this debate, Mr. Speaker, in dealing with principle here, the majority of us, indeed, if not all of us, are not experts in pension plans. I think all of us, when we have had anything to do with pension discussions, have relied on expert advice. The
[ Page 711 ]
principles we are dealing with this afternoon and again this evening are really, in my opinion, so simple, that the real tragedy of this debate is that we are disagreeing at all. If there were ever a subject about which we surely should find agreement, it is the entitlement of the senior citizens of this Province to a fair deal. I think it is a real pity that we have been arguing back and forth (interruption)... all pensioners, I agree. There is no question about that and let's not split hairs.
The real tragedy, Mr. Speaker, in this debate, and I'm sorry the Member is not in his seat, is to hear one of the younger Members of this House get up and accuse the retired teachers of being disgruntled, of being militant. Has any Member in this House received a militant letter from a retired teacher? I have not. Has any Member in this House received a disrespectful letter from a retired teacher? I have not. Calm, well reasoned letters asking for earnest consideration on the part of the members of this House for a matter of need. MT. Speaker, I think there is only one question surely in the principle of this bill, and that is are we, the earning members of our society, today, doing everything that is within our power to provide as good a deal as possible for the retired teachers? That's the question. That's the simple principle in this bill.
From the debate that has gone on, as the Member says, for many hours, it is quite clear we have not. I don't blame the Minister for that, at this stage, but I will blame him if he does not give this House an opportunity to consider an alternative. We would have no other choice but to blame him. I think it would be a pity, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister is waiting to close the debate with facts and figures, instead of hoisting this bill for a while to give all Members a chance to take a look at what the alternatives might be. To vote on this surely we must satisfy ourselves that to vote yes is to vote that this is the best deal we can give the senior citizens of this Province. If you can't say that, then, you can't vote for it.
The Minister, Mr. Speaker, cannot say anything that is not now in the bill and we know what is now in the bill. Unless the Minister ... there is only one way I can see that we could vote in favour of the principle of this bill and that is if the Minister were to announce in closing second reading that he would not take this bill to committee until such time as amendments had been proposed. That's the only way we could support second reading. The Minister, still, in this Province, hopefully still, does not have the power to change what we are considering now, without proper amendment procedures. To suggest that we should wait and hear what the Minister has to say is sheer nonsense.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, may I remind the House and the Minister in charge of this bill, of the remarks he made when he was encouraging the municipalities on several occasions in this Province, and I heard him personally a number of times, in a very sincere plea to the municipalities to consider the plight of their retired municipal workers. What that Minister said in that debate is what we are saying tonight in this debate. I ask the Minister to consider his own words, to hoist this bill, give it a second look. You could have unanimity in this House and, on this question, we must have unanimity or the senior citizens of this Province have been let down and very severely.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Dewdney.
MIL G. MUSSALLEM (Dewdney): At this late hour, I have the feeling that 1, too, would have to put in a little word. I have received many letters, as you all have. There has been quite a campaign. A lot of people have phoned me, a considerable number, complaining about their pensions -those already retired. It is an agonizing appraisal. I know there is need. I know their problems. I would like to say to them all, "Why, of course, we'll double what you're going to get." This would be a quick answer. It would be a sudden way out. It will be destructive, of course, so it is not the answer.
Let us consider the teacher who started, when I was, well say 20 years old. I could say, my wife, for example, of that time. She started teaching at a salary of $75 a month. It would have got to a maximum of $85 in practically all schools outside the city of Vancouver. If she had been told, at that time, by the time she would have been 60, which would have been now, that she would have received $250 a month, she and all the rest of the teachers of that day would have said, "Hallelujah, Heaven is on the way!" But you see, a great deal happens and a great deal changes, and the answers that there were then, are not here today. The teachers, whose pensions will be $600 and $800 a month, how do we know whether they will be happy in 20 years' time"
May I say to you this, as the honourable Member who has just finished speaking has said, that tragic pensions were given to retired teachers. I'll tell you, honourable friends, what is tragic about a pension of any kind. I, myself, have been paying $850 a year for the last 25 years in the hope that, when I reach 65, 1 will receive $150 a month. What is tragic about that? The only tragic thing is that I have saved too much. We must understand the factors that govern pensions. No one is satisfied but this bill, as I see it, today, represents the effort the Government has made for the teachers who are about to come on pensions. In the future, there may be consideration given for those in the past. I hope the time will come. I think the Government will look and see but, in the meantime, it is the fairest deal this Government can do. I am amazed and surprised at the Opposition Members who get up and make these heartrending speeches and say, "Please do something more," when they know full well it is impossible in the light of facts.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Why?
MR. MUSSALLEM: Because, as any business man knows, and I'm only talking on a business basis, actuarially, I do not understand and neither do you. There are probably only one or two people in this whole House who understands the actuarial problems of this matter. I think this Government should wait and see, as any good Government must, and this Government will wait and see. I tell you this that the record of this Government has been proven and has shown that when the time comes, all will receive fair treatment.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable First Member for Vancouver-Point Grey.
MR. P.L. McGEER (Vancouver-Point Grey): Mr. Speaker, I don't know what kind of a pension fund the Member from Dewdney has been paying into but I suggest that an investigation of that firm might be in order, because he has paid in something like $17,000 in principal which, certainly, would entitle him to something better than $300 a month. Mr. Member, I suggest you sit down with a pencil and piece of paper and maybe have a consultation with an actuary and
[ Page 712 ]
then sue that company. All I can say, Mr. Speaker, is that, if he's that easily taken, I certainly don't want to accept his advice on what to do about the teachers.
There are two principles to this bill, Mr. Speaker: one is to improve teachers' pensions, and the other is to create two classes of citizens. It is this second principle that we, categorically, reject. We're ashamed of your actuary, if he is the one who you must defend, that he would perpetrate this on the people of British Columbia, our most deserving citizens given a second-class pension, or a third-class pension, as the Member from Cowichan-Malahat suggested. That's a principle we can't accept and that's a principle no decent legislator or any decent citizen of British Columbia could accept. We say withdraw this bill and put some humanity into your actuarial advice.
If it has to come to some ultimate criticism of that pension fund, Mr. Speaker, if we had to come to this sorry day in British Columbia, I can only say that for years I have been standing in this House and saying that the pension funds of contributors of this Province have been invested at below market interest rates. I've looked through the lists of the investments of the B.C. Teachers' Pension Fund and it returns the lowest interest rates in the Nation. This is something that the teachers of this Province should know. If you must stand today and say that we don't have enough money in that fund to improve the pensions, then, I say it's because you have invested those pension funds at too low a rate. Had you put those funds out the way we advised should be done, by a Minister of Finance who is caring for the people whose money he had in trust, then, there would be money available today to pay a handsome, a handsome, retirement fund to these teachers who contributed when dollars were worth much more than they are today.
These are people who have written me letters, just as every Member in this House, saying that they contributed towards that fund in the days before that fund went broke. They contributed to that fund in the days when dollars bought only a tenth of what they do today. They have given this Province all the service that any individual could give and, then, when they retire, you stand up here in this House and have the gall to say that they should take second place to someone else. How wrong can any Government be or any group of legislators? When are we going to have equality in this Province, if we can't give it to a group like this now who have contributed to this fund themselves? We've lost our senses in this House, if we can't withdraw a bill like this and bring in simple justice in British Columbia. I will accept no principle put forward by an actuary or a civil servant in this House that denies equality to any group of people. We say to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the Government, withdraw this bill. It's a disgrace.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable the Minister will close the debate.
MR. BLACK: Mr. Speaker, this has been an interesting debate, depending on one's point of view. I take it from the speeches that I have heard that most of the people in the House haven't really considered the bill at all. I can say, with every degree of honesty, that there hasn't been one Member of the Opposition who has asked the Superannuation Commissioner or, indeed, my office, relative to any phase of the pension bill at all. Nothing whatsoever. Yes, my friend from West Vancouver-Howe Sound, you are quite right. On the day the bill was introduced, I did get up to this podium or a similar one and, believe me, as a result, the debate was unfolded. The debate has unfolded. If this pension bill is so important, then, I suggest to you that perhaps you ought to listen to the remarks that I have to make. Then, there was another ploy tonight. That other ploy was, "We are not interested in the Minister's facts and figures." If you think I'm going to carry that out now you've got another think coming, because I'm not. If this bill is important, then, I suggest to you that you listen, because, particularly the last speech, Mr. Speaker, had nothing whatsoever to do with the pension bill at all. It was straight emotional pitch. That's all it was. I suggest that you listen.
Mr. Speaker, it is apparent from the questions that have been raised by honourable Members on the second reading of this bill that they and many other interested persons are having difficulty in finding a basis for an assessment of the principles, and I repeat principles, of this bill. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, what have we been talking about for two days? One clause of the bill only (interruption). Oh, no. I didn't. Certainly it is.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order.
MR. BLACK: There you are, Mr. Speaker. There you are. You see, they are not interested at all. Much of the printed material, the remarks that were made over radio and television, have created the impression that number one,. . . (interruption). Why don't you get out of the House, if you're not interested? You made your emotional pitch on a political basis. You said it was nonpolitical but your speech was political, just the same.
First of all, in all essential particulars, the British Columbia Teachers' Pension Plan is the worst in Canada. Number two, the plan of other Provinces would be an improvement for any contributor or pensioner in British Columbia, and three, improvements could be made at no cost to the taxpayer. These impressions are completely false. There have been three distinct pension plans for teachers in this Province and only one Member of the Opposition alluded to them tonight. The first plan came into effect in 1929. Provision was made for recognition for past services to a limited extent, namely, $25 per year for a maximum of 30 years of past service. Future service benefits were based on a money purchase plan, or a money purchase principle. Unfortunately, teachers and Government Members assumed that pensions could be provided at no cost to the taxpayer. By 1940, the fund was considered to be insolvent. Pensioners, active teachers and the Government had to swallow their bitter pill, retired teachers suffered a reduction in their pensions and active teachers were obliged to make larger contributions and could look forward to smaller pensions. The Government was obliged to make contributions to the fund to provide even the reduced benefits.
In 1940, the plan was completely revised, based on the philosophy that the teacher's share of the ultimate pensions should be directly related to his own contributions, accumulated with interest. The Government's share of the pension should be related to the years of service only and should not be related to salary. The retirement annuity, or the teacher's portion of the benefits, was financed entirely by teacher contributions of 4 per cent of salary. The service pension portion of the benefit was financed by Government contributions of 7 per cent of salary and teachers' special contributions of one per cent for a maximum of 20 years.
[ Page 713 ]
With salaries increasing, in the service pension, based on service only, the original deficit was liquidated more rapidly than was originally expected. By 1950, the fund had reached a position where consideration could be given to an increase in the service pension formula, or a reduction in the contributions.
By 1951, the Government's contribution was reduced to 6 per cent of salary. The active teachers' contribution was increased by 6 per cent of salary, that is 5 per cent for the retirement annuity and one per cent for the service pension. The service pension formula was increased by approximately 35 per cent. The increase was applied to active and to retired teachers alike. During the next nine years, this pattern continued, with ever-increasing salaries and an increase in the number of teachers employed. The revenues of the service pension account grew rapidly, resulting in significant changes in the service pension formula, which were applied equally to active and retired teachers alike.
In 1951, the service pension increased 35 per cent; in 1952, it increased by another 50 per cent; in 1954, for long-service teachers only. The first one in 1951, the cost was $1 million. In 1952, the cost was $2 million. For service pension alone, the approximate cost, at that time, was only $300,000. In 1957, a further increase of 20 per cent - the cost $2 million. In 1960, increase average 30 per cent and the approximate cost was $5 million. These changes were accomplished after joint discussions with Government and teacher representatives. In 1960, both sides agreed that the basic philosophy of pension determination should be changed to one in which the amount of salary and the years of service should directly affect the amount of the pension benefits. Both sides were aware of the fact that, under this philosophy, more of the revenues of the fund would be required to finance pensions related to salaries and less of the revenues would be available for the adjustment of pensions to pensioners.
In 1966, the plan was integrated with the Canada Pension Fund, benefits for both active and retired employees were improved. In 1966, increases were from 13 to 25 per cent -cost $6 million. In 1968, increased interest earnings and a modification of the funding principal permitted a further increase for active and retired teachers. In 1968, increases averaging 20 per cent cost approximately $7 million. The total costs for increases for pensioners for those seven occasions exceeded $20 million. In 1968, the 2 per cent of final earnings formula, which had been the objective for several years, was reached. Many other plans reached that objective earlier, but only because the other plans limited the improvements to active teachers, with little or nothing for the retired teachers. The pensioners, as a group, found themselves in a preferred position compared with any other similar group in Canada, while the active teachers considered their ultimate benefits inferior to those of other plans.
Those of us who are concerned with Budgets know that money spent for one purpose cannot be used a second time. No pension plan can provide better benefits for every eventuality without having the highest contribution rate of all. The eligibility and benefit provisions of a pension plan merely apportion the revenues among the contributors and former contributors. Under our final average earning plan, contributions are established to provide the benefit of that plan, based on final average earnings. Any change in averaging periods, salary ceiling, early benefits, or benefits for pensioners, require a corresponding increase in the contributions. This bill provides increases for pensioners and active employees, financed by additional Government contributions. The pensioners in British Columbia ... British Columbia is the leader, no other Province can even come close to the record of pension increases after retirement. No other Province can come close. Increases were granted in 1951, 1952, 1954, 1957, 1960, 1966 and 1968 and proposed for 1971, over and above the cost of pension for active teachers. The total cost will amount to more than $25 million. The result, individual cases have produced pensions, today, first, four times their original amount; second, pensions which exceed the salary of the teachers during the last year of service; three, pensions where the annual payment exceeds, in one year, the total of the teachers' contribution during the entire lifetime. It is our policy to ensure that, in allocating Government contributions between benefits for active teachers and retired teachers, the result must be fair to all.
No pension plan ever provides enough in the way of benefits for every contributor or pensioner, particularly for those with short service and those retiring early. A pension plan is not static. Provisions must be kept under constant review to ensure that the basic objectives of the plan will be met. This we do for all the pension plans under my administration. Eligibility - for years the British Columbia plan has provided pensions after only ten years of service even at age 60; in fact, 45 per cent of those now on pension completed less than 30 years of service. In some other Provinces, many of those persons would have received nothing but a refund. If they had been in other Provinces, they would have received nothing but a refund. It has been part of our policy that a teacher with ten years of service should have a pension even though it may be small. Other Provinces requiring longer periods of service to qualify adopted a policy of a good pension or none at all, rather than something for everyone.
This is another reason why comparisons with other Provinces can be so misleading and so misrepresented. For example, with reference to the average pension, obviously, the average pension in British Columbia is just over $3,000 per year and includes many pensions where the length of service was short. In fact, if all pensions under 30 years were eliminated, the average pension would be more than $4,000 per year for allowances granted since 1929, and would be nearly $5,000 per year for allowances granted during the last five years. The maximum runs as high as $8,000 per year.
In this connection, other Provinces are now beginning to adopt our long established philosophy that, after ten years of service, a person should be entitled to a pension, even though it may be small. Death and disability, the pensions of disabled persons and widows of employees, who die in service in British Columbia, have been granted a more generous basis than in any other Province. The ten-year service requirement has been in effect for 30 years. In the teachers' plan, the widow receives a pension equal in amount to the pension that would have been granted to her husband if he had retired on the day of his death. In many other Provinces, the widow's benefit is only 50 per cent of the husband's earned pension and, in others, age and service restrictions limit the benefit. Similarly, for disability pension, our definition of total and permanent disability has been only, "unfit to teach." Many other Provinces have, until recently, granted disability pensions only on, "unfit to work" basis. For refunds, in the earlier development of the pension plans for teachers in Canada, the financing of the benefits relied to a large extent on escheatment provisions. These provisions require teachers,
[ Page 714 ]
leaving the teaching service only after short periods of service, to forfeit not only the interest on their contributions but their contributions as well for the period ranging up to ten years. In British Columbia, escheatment provisions were in effect from 1929 to 1940 and, again, from 1940 to 1960. Even then the maximum period of escheatment was only one year.
Shortly after 1960, British Columbia became the leader in providing interest on refunds. The plan now provides, not only a full refund of employee contributions, but interest on those contributions at the rate of 3 per cent for two to ten years of service and 4 per cent for ten years of service. Most other Provinces provide less or no interest. In spite of this record, there are some who classify the British Columbia plan as third from the bottom, ahead only of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. At this point it would be useful, Mr. Speaker, to compare some of the features of the British Columbia plan with the alleged superior plans in other Provinces.
Let's have a look at Alberta. Alberta, prior to 1970, the 2 per cent formula applied for retirement at age 65 for male contributors only; female contributors received a reduced pension, even at age 65. In 1970, the reduction for females was removed and the full pension formula was provided at age 60, but only for a person with 40 years of service. There are no employer contributions in the Alberta plan and it is understood that the deficit of the fund exceeds $200 million.
In Ontario, another superior Province, has increased pensions on four occasions, namely 1949, $10 per month. In 1955, the average salary for pensions was reduced from 15 years to 10 years and existing pensions recalculated. In 1970, the minimum pension increased to $2,100 per year for retired teachers and $1,050 per annum for widows. In 1971, existing pensions increased by a percentage ranging from 2 per cent for pensions granted in 1969, to 50 per cent for pensions granted in 1950 or earlier. In 1966, when the ten-year averaging period was reduced, no increase was granted to the pensioners. In Ontario, the teachers must contribute for teaching service, even after 35 years; the full 2 per cent formula is used for voluntary retirement at age 62 with 35 years of service, or at any age for 40 years of service.
In Quebec, all contributions are paid into, and all benefits paid out of, consolidated revenue. There are no investments, no interest is paid, and there are no specified Government contributions. After refund, no reinstatement is permitted. In 1961, increases for pensioners ranged from 3 per cent to 30 per cent and, in 1969, further increases of 2 per cent to 16 per cent were granted, based on the year of retirement.
In New Brunswick, a full formula pension applies at age 65 with ten years of service. Pensions granted before 65 are reduced, regardless of the service of those who entered the teaching profession after September 1, 1966. The generous, early retirement provisions for earlier entrants, which led to this reduction in benefit for new contributors, were retained through a protection provision. No provision has been made for adjusting pensions for pensioners.
I could go on with the other Provinces, which would bear out the same thing. In summary, however, Mr. Speaker, relative to these characteristics, the allegation that this bin would make the teachers' pension plan in British Columbia the third from the bottom in Canada is completely false. In fact, in all essential respects, it is one of the best in Canada.
Let's have a look at some of the provisions that the honourable Members, in their emotional speeches here, tonight, seem to forget. Because that's what the pension plan is all about. I want to talk for a minute, Mr. Speaker, relative to financing and funding. Not only are the benefits provided amongst the best in Canada, but trustee provisions and Government contributions ensure an adequate funding level. In this regard, British Columbia's plan is, without question, the best in Canada. It is our policy to act responsibly in financing pension plans. When promises are made by Statute, the responsible Government of the day should provide an annual contribution sufficient to ensure that the promise will be honoured on maturity. To ensure that these objectives are met, we retain the services of the foremost actuaries on the continent, Mr. Sam Eckler of the consulting actuary firm of Eckler, Brown and Co. Ltd. At this point, Mr. Speaker, I have a letter from the consulting actuary to me dated January 12, 1971, which may be useful in considering the principles of this bill. "For many months" . . . (interruption). But it was so important, Mr. Premier, a while ago. I never interrupted anybody ... but it's pretty obvious what the name of the game is. "For many months" and this is a quote from Mr. Eckler's letter, "for many months I have read with a great deal of interest the public statements made by the British Columbia Teachers' Federation with respect to proposed changes in the teachers' pensions plan. Having advised the Government that the present teachers' pensions plan would probably require an increase in the current employer contribution rate, I was therefore amazed to read the following statement in a large advertisement inserted in the Victoria Daily Colonist of November 1, 19709 by the B.C. Teachers' Federation. 'Cost to the taxpayer? Not a cent. The Government is not being asked to increase its contributions to the teachers' pensions fund. The improvements we are requesting can easily be absorbed by the money already in the fund, which now totals more than $165 million, and is growing by more than $18 million each year. The $6 million paid out annually in teachers' pensions doesn't even use up the interest on the fund. Teachers are only asking for a fairer share of their fund', " that's the B.C. teachers quote. "The headline statement that the implementation of the proposals made by the B.C. Teachers' Federation would not cost the taxpayers a cent is simply not true. I must state unequivocally that any increase in benefits will require greater employer contributions, involving more taxes from taxpayers and have so advised the Government. To any of us as individuals, $160 million is an immense amount of money. However, it is a relatively small amount of money for a pension fund covering 23,000 employees and 2,000 pensioners. If we reduce the $165 million by the capitalized value of pensions, being paid pensioners, we arrive at assets of about $5 thousand for each active employee in the teachers' pensions fund - a relatively small amount for a pension fund. The statement that the $6 million paid out annually in the teachers' pensions doesn't even use up the interest in the fund, introduces an unfortunate irrelevancy. Unfortunate because it implies that the cost of a pension plan in any year are the benefits paid in the year. There is absolutely no direct relationship between the costs of the pension plan and the benefits paid in any one year. If this statement were followed to its logical conclusion, it might be argued that since the investment income of $7.8 million in 1968 exceeded the benefit payments of $6.4 million, all employee and employer contributions, which were almost double the investment income, should be eliminated and the statement is irrelevant because the investment income of a pension fund in any one year does not alone determine the appropriate level of pension benefits.
In terms of the income items of a pension fund, the level
[ Page 715 ]
of benefits is determined by the contributions both of the employer and the employees as well as an investment income. The pension benefits of a group of employees are deferred benefits and will not be paid until a long time in the future when the employees retire. The pensions now being paid pensioners have no relationship whatsoever to the deferred benefits of present employees. An employer or Government that provides pensions to its employees promises to make such payments in the future but incurs the liability when it makes the promise - and if that fact is not recognized it is acting irresponsibly. The costs of a pension plan are incurred when the service of an employee is rendered for which a pension benefit will be paid and provision must be made now for the pension liability that has accrued. Otherwise, an impossible burden would be transferred to a future generation of taxpayers which they might refuse to assume, thereby reneging on the pension promise to the existing employees. That is fundamentally why adequate contributions must start being made at once when pension benefits are promised.
In developing major amendments to the teachers' pensions plan, the Government must balance many factors including the desires of the British Columbia teachers to have the ideal pension plan, the capacity of the taxpayers, present and future, to absorb the cost of raising pension benefits, and, third, the comparable pension expectations of other employees in the public and private sectors.
Designing the ideal pension plan without regard to cost is very easy. The difficulties arise when the reality of costs intrude and then hard choices must be made. It is my opinion that amendments to the teachers' pensions plan being proposed by the Government go as far as is practical now toward the ideal plan and meet most of the major requests of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation for improvements in the pension plan. It would now, in many particulars, be one of the best teachers' pensions plans in the country. These improvements will require substantial increases in employer contributions, which I am happy to note the Government has agreed to make. In closing," this is Mr. Eckler's letter, "I want to emphasize again that pensions do cost money, improvements cost even more and that the cost to taxpayers is considerably more than 'not a cent."'
With regard to the allegation that the fund belongs to the teachers and that they are only asking for the use of their own money, I would like to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, specific provisions in the Statute that have been there for at least ten years, providing, in effect, that every dollar contributed by the teacher to this fund must be used for the benefit of that teacher and no one else, either in the form of a refund or a pension. Even where a pension is granted there is an over-riding guarantee on every plan, except for the single life plan ... (interruption). Mr. Speaker, it's just been constant, however It was so interesting a moment or so ago .. .
AN HON. MEMBER: We just want to hear the facts.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. BLACK: They don't want to hear them at all. Even where a pension is granted there is an over-riding guarantee on every plan, except for the single life plan, that the minimum amount paid to or on behalf of that teacher must be the accumulated value of the teacher's own contributions with interest, in full, to the date of retirement. With such statutory guarantees to every teacher in the Province, active or retired, it should not be difficult for anyone to conclude that the rest of the money must be provided from the Government contribution. Recent pension enquiries have disclosed situations like this. It is all taken from those letters you and I received. The original pension in 1950 was $60, today, it's $225. The original pension, in 1955, $106; today, it's $265. The original pension in 1960, $295; today, $425. Original pension in 1965, $429, today, $563. The accumulated contributions at retirement, $4,000. Payments already received ... (interruption). If you don't want to listen, please, let somebody that does. The accumulated contributions on behalf of the teacher at retirement, $4,000. Payments already received, $10,000. Value of future payments, $19,000. Accumulated contributions at retirement, $12,000. Payments already received, $58,000. Value of future contributions, or future payments, $50,000. Accumulated contributions at retirement, $12,000. Payments already received, $41,000. Value of future payments, $27,000. Here is an interesting one. Accumulated contributions at retirement, $7,000. Payments already received, $24,000. Value of future payments, $23,000. These are actual cases.
The large Government share is, in many cases, due to the frequent and substantial increases which we have been granting over the last 20 years. For pensions granted last year, the cost-sharing was approximately 75 per cent from the Government contributions and 25 per cent from teacher contributions. The accounting procedures, in which there are three types of accounts, can be found in the Statute.
Now I want to deal for a minute - because this was brought up here - with the bulletins that all Members of the Legislature have received. During the past several months, most, if not all, the honourable Members have received bulletins from the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. The material was carefully prepared and presented in a way designed to invite support by using only some of the facts, omitting others and distorting some to the point that the obvious conclusion is completely false. Now, I am going to deal with Bulletin number one, which recorded certain resolutions passed at the 1970 general meeting, which lead one to expect the bulletin to be used for extensive teacher education purposes, rather than mislead and appeal to the emotions of the readers. Bulletin number two refers to an average pension of $254 per month as being a meaningful fact, while bulletin number five states, "For the foregoing reasons, the fact that the average pension is $254 is not very meaningful," yet bulletin number two compares that amount with the current level of teachers' salaries, producing a 30 per cent figure, which the reader is invited to compare with 70 per cent of final salary. It is apparent that the bulletin relates a pension of just over $3,000 as being about 30 per cent of the $10,000 figure used for the average teachers' salary. If that same comparison had been made with other pension plans, the conclusion would be that the average teachers' pension in British Columbia is among the highest in Canada. So, to avoid the risk of such a conclusion by the reader, the statement is made: "Most experts describe an adequate pension as 70 per cent of final average." This, of course, presupposes 35 years of service in any 2 per cent formula. The average pension could never reach 70 per cent of current wages. The same bulletin containing these statements recorded specific pensions related to percentage of final salary and, in only one case, was the percentage less than 30 per cent, that being for a person having 25 years of service. The list even included one where the percentage was recorded
[ Page 716 ]
as 69 per cent. Bulletin number two also recorded opinions received from pensioners regarding the level of their pensions. Some pensioners with pensions exceeding $600 per month, plus old age security and Canada Pension Plan benefits, I might add an aside here, Mr. Speaker, that most of the letters I received dealing with specific pensions left these two important facts right out, so that the reader of the letter was completely misled as to what the total pension was. I recall one particular pensioner, in one of these letters, who was most emphatic in his protest where the taxpayers' contribution for his pension was only $52,000 compared with his contribution of $16,000. So these bulletins go on, with innuendo, half-truth and half-fact.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to refer to the briefs submitted to me and other Members of this House in 1969 and 1970 by the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. Adoption of the briefs would not have made the British Columbia teachers' plan parallel to any single pension plan in Canada. In fact, there is not a single teachers' pensions plan in Canada which incorporates all the features of these briefs.
The consulting actuary has advised me that the cost of implementing the proposals would be 6.6 per cent of the total payroll for teachers. Specifically, I would like to draw your attention to the principles of this bill, which everybody seems to have forgotten. Number one, and I want to make it clear and ... An aside here, Mr. Speaker. I have noted that honourable Members have used the word "negotiate." I want to tell this House, Mr. Speaker, that negotiation did not take place. I received demands, not negotiation. I'm going to fault nobody for that because I know what the pronouncement of the annual general meeting was to the teachers. So don't kick that word around, because there wasn't any negotiation - it was demand.
I might say that, right from the very beginning, I asked the teachers' organization is it all or nothing, to which I received an evasive answer. But, judging from tonight, I think that it is all or nothing. This is what they demanded. Number one, eliminate any difference in the benefit formula for service before and after January, 196 1. If you read the bill, it was granted. Allow retirement at age 60 or after 35 years of service, with full pension rights consisting of a retirement allowance of 2 per cent of the final average salary for each year of service - granted. Three, define the final average as the average of the best 50 months - that's 5 years - they asked for five years, they were granted seven. Remove the maximum countable salary limit - as requested. Five, provide an allowance of 50 per cent to the widow or dependent widower, with no reduction of the allowance payable to the pensioner in his lifetime. Now the consulting actuary and the teachers know about it and appear to have no particular objections at this time. They are studying the tables, and looking at the joint life and last survivor option and so on. Number six, ensure that allowances are adjusted annually, to combat the erosion by inflation by the application of an index based upon the average weekly wage in British Columbia; all pensions increased 7 per cent based on minimum pension of $150 per month and a maximum of $300 per month; provide for changes in the section dealing with the reinstatement for previous service in British Columbia by repayment of refunds with interest; reinstatement regulation will be prepared in consultation with the British Columbia Teachers' Federation to make reinstatement provisions consistent with other Provinces' plans. Eight, expand the right of the contributor to purchase service pension credits for teaching service outside of British Columbia and for war service. Service recognition regulation will be prepared in consultation with the B.C. Teachers' Federation to make service recognition provisions consistent with other Provinces. Nine, reduce the penalties which are applied to pensioners who are temporarily re-employed as teachers - granted. Provide for a 50 per cent employer contribution to fees for medical coverage for pensioners -granted. Provide for an option to waive the rights to a disability allowance in return for counting noncontributory service after disability in the calculation of a future retirement allowance - granted. The final one, provide for withdrawal of voluntary contributions. The income tax department ruled this out. No particular argument there.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to illustrate the effect that this bill will have on the pensions to be granted to teachers retiring this year. For a person whose final seven-year average salary was $7,900 per year, retiring at age 65, with 30 years of service, the expected pension, excluding Canada Pension Plan would be $4,600 compared to $4,000, prior to the amendment. For a person with 15 years of 'service, the corresponding figures would be $2,100 per year under the new plan compared with $1,900 under the present plan. For higher salaried employees, having a seven-year average of $11,000 per year, the new plan for 35 years of service would provide approximately $7,600 a year as a pension, compared with $6,800 a year under the present plan. The provisions for early retirement are even more significant. At age 60, the new plan provides an initial pension of $7,700 per year, compared with about $5,400 per year under the present plan. With a seven-year average salary of $7,900 per year and retirement at age 60, with 35 years of service, the amount would be $5,400 per year under the new plan, compared with $3,800 per year under the present plan. I have other examples by the score.
I must emphasize, Mr. Speaker, in summarizing, that, at no time, have I ever said no to the proposals which have been presented to me. All that I have asked at any time of the teacher organization was to have time to consider them and to obtain cost estimates. At the same time, I advised representatives that their proposals would be considered along with those for other pension plans and the financing of the improvements.
I want to say here, that as far as the teachers' organization is concerned, the Honourable the Premier announced that we would seek pension amendments at this Session. It made no difference to the teachers' attitude. I announced that there would be amendments to the teachers' and to other plans, but it did not change the teachers' attitude. The decision of the Government would be in the form of legislative proposals for all pension plans under my department covering the Civil Service, the municipal and the teachers' and other related plans. In summary, Mr. Speaker, the principles of this bill are that there should be improved retirement benefits for all active and retired teachers in this Province - accomplished by: one, reducing the averaging period from the highest ten years of earnings to the highest seven years of earnings; two, the removal of the ceiling on contributory or pensionable earnings; three, the 2 per cent rate applies to all service to a maximum of 35 years; four, contributions after 35 years are discontinued or refunded; five, no reduction for early retirement for long-service teachers: six, an across-the-board increase for retired teachers and their wives or widows. This bill, Mr. Speaker, allocates Government contributions between active teachers and retired teachers in a way that is fair to them and to the taxpayers of this Province and, at the
[ Page 717 ]
same time, the teachers' pensions plan in British Columbia will rate among the best in Canada. Finally, the question of have I received a proposal from the teachers' organization that would indicate that they are willing to take any share in the cost to pensioners, the answer, Mr. Speaker, is that I have not. I move second reading of this bill.
The House divided.
Motion agreed to on the following division:
YEAS - 32
NAYS - 16
Bill 4 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
MR. BENNETT: Adjourned debate on Bill 11, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 11, Special Funds Appropriation Act. The Honourable Member for Langley.
MR. H.B. VOGEL (Langley): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Bill 11 has been the subject of considerable debate, having been adjourned twice. In the discussion that has occurred in this House, I think that most of the emphasis has been on the very serious problem of the damage that is done to our society by the unabated and growing drug problem. I think that we all are acutely aware also of the fact that other legislative bodies in the past have voted considerable sums of money, as we are considering now in the principle of this bill, and these sums are being continuously spent in two institutions in British Columbia.
The unhappy fact is that much of the money does not appear to get a result that would commend itself to us and I would think could be regarded as being wasted to quite an extent. That being the case, I think addressing ourselves to what we are doing here, in the principle outlined, is that we would hardly be justified in voting this sum of money with the serious intent of dealing with the problem unless we felt, through our collective judgment, we could obtain a better result than we have been able to obtain in the past.
I think, therefore, that it is appropriate that we consider, in making our contributions, precisely the reservations we have in this regard and what we would propose to do with the money. In order to do that, it seems to me, in my own case, I had to consider two institutions presently designed to deal with the drug problem in one aspect or another - the Matsqui Institute, for instance, admittedly a gaol, primarily for the purpose of incarcerating the drug user for a period of two years. They go through in an endless stream for this period of time, they go out on the street, they go back to the corner and they continue to use drugs as they have in the past. It probably is not fair to say, it being a gaol, in fact, and not really designed as a treatment centre in the purer sense, that we should perhaps recognize that this very considerable sum of money does not achieve the results that we outline in this bill. The capital cost was some $12 million in this Matsqui Federal Institution which did not come from our votes; however, it is a burden on the collective taxpayers of this country of which this Province is a part. The operating cost is $4.5 million - the figure that I have - and I think perhaps more appropriately, we should have a look at briefly - and I shall be very brief - the institution in Vancouver that's known as the Narcotics Addiction Centre, because it is one to which we contribute in considerable measure.
As we all know, Vote 200 deals with that. The thing that disturbs me about this treatment centre, and we must be extremely interested in our contribution here, is that it is an out-patient clinic. I know there are people in the House who know more about this than I, and I hope they will have something to say about it. The addicts go through, they receive checks, treatments and they pass out of the institution on to the street as being an out-patient clinic. I believe there are some 70 employees there. The cost to us, if it is a matter of interest, it seems to me, is something like $275,000 in the year of 1970-71. There was $250,000 the year before that and in 1968-69, $225,000. So, it's an increasing burden. The medical plan has made contributions, $53,000 being the last and they had a research grant of $28,000.
Mr. Speaker, I say that we have got to do better if we are going to justify the hope, that we should properly embrace for this bill, that it is directed in a most urgently desirable direction. I am going to say that the type of thing that I would feel might be considered by the appropriate Minister is an experimental sort of treatment centre that was started in an amateurish way and has been referred to in this House. Two Members, I recall, spoke about the Batley Treatment Centre and I would like to add my word in that regard because I think it's extremely important that we do find a better answer.
I first heard about Mrs. Batley and what she was doing the first year I was an M.L.A., which was 1963. 1 was invited there and I know my friend, the present Leader of the Official Opposition ... I don't remember if he was present on the first occasion I went there, but I've certainly met him
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there. I was instrumental in taking the Second Member for Burrard and he spoke about this the other day. In that same year we visited that place on more than one occasion. The interesting thing, Mr. Speaker, is that we induced another private M.L.A. at that time, the Second Member for Point Grey, to come along with us to take a look. This Member for Point Grey, of course, my colleagues in this House will recognize as the present Minister for Health Services and Hospital Insurance. He became the Minister for Industry, Trade and Commerce, which leads to the quite important fact that, through a little benevolent skullduggery, the first money that Mrs. Batley ever got from any source in aid of what she was doing in her private home came as a grant from Industry, Trade and Commerce. I happen to know, and I think this is very, very important, Mr. Speaker, and I think we should consider this very gravely, that Mrs. Batley has been treating something in the order of 40 to 50 patients concurrently and continuously in her own home. She has almost destroyed her furniture and so on. She is badly in debt. She is having a very bad time. This is one thing. This is the effort that she has made but what about the result? This is what should interest us. Does she get a result? Well, the figure I have is that in the period of time since Mrs. Batley came here in 1958 - she is an English psychiatric nurse - she had a treatment method that other people with whom she had been formerly associated had developed. She was shocked and disturbed at what she saw, with the lack of treatment in this country, simply a matter of compiling statistics which are quite useless as far as the individual person in need of help is concerned. She has treated in this time, since 1958, 600 people of all ages and both sexes, and I am assured, and I think we could verify this figure, that only 20 of these have, since treatment under Mrs. Batley, returned to gaol. In other words, four fifths could be regarded as having been helped in a stabilized and permanent manner.
I would think that before we vote funds in this House again, we should have in the year to come an opportunity, which I hope would be financed from a fund such as this, to see if this might not prove to be a method by which we could stem the tremendous havoc that is being wrought by the use of drugs. Many people have spoken about it and perhaps if, with the aid of this fund and the principle involved here, three, four, or five clinics could be established on that same pattern throughout British Columbia and with the training of, say, 20 people to man them and at points which are clearly indicated by the calls for help, the cries for help, that come to Mrs. Batley from around this Province - Nanaimo being one, Oak Bay, Victoria, being another, Burnaby being another, Nelson being another and so on. It's easy to find centres that would lend themselves to the best distribution of the talents and efforts. With this reservation and with this in mind, I certainly would very, very gladly support this bill.
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Minister without Portfolio.
HON. G. McCARTHY (Vancouver-Little Mountain): In the last debate that we held on this motion, approximately two weeks ago, the Honourable the Leader of the Liberal Party made some references to the financing of the idea of the perpetual fund being created in this bill for uses such as the Crop Stabilization Fund and the Drug Rehabilitation Fund. It was a surprising dissertation on the financial matters of the Province because this bill clearly shows Social Credit as establishing perpetual funds that are not available to the use of taxpayers for the building of hospitals and schools anywhere else in this Nation. No other jurisdiction has provided such an avenue for financing in Canada. All jurisdictions, including the Federal Government, have had the same opportunity as this Government has had, so the Liberal Leader, who chooses not to be in the House on the debate of this bill, has really made some very remarkable statements regarding financing, particularly when the Federal Government has, in their recent booklet and, of course, this is just a condensed version of what we all know to be the Federal Budget, spent 14 cents of every Canadian dollar on the public debt. This does not even include $123 or $122.9 millions which was written off for Expo. That particular public debt, at 14 cents of every dollar really amounts to between $3 and $5 million daily which, when put in terms of this bill and what we are talking about, really is saying it could build two and perhaps three hospitals which would build daily, two to three hospitals in Canada, which would treat the very problem which we are considering in this bill in the particular drug rehabilitation programme.
I would like to say that in British Columbia we have a very real problem, which has been admitted and which has been confirmed by Members on both sides of the House. I know that Members on both sides of the House in regards to the drug rehabilitation portion of this bill are very concerned with the fact that 65 per cent of the heroin users of Canada reside in British Columbia and 25 per cent of them reside in Ontario. This gives British Columbia certainly the greatest amount of heroin addict population in Canada. So it's of very real concern to British Columbians. We have had in ... (interruption). I'm sorry I missed that, Mr. Member, but I'm sure you will have something to say later which I can check. We have also had a very great use of cannabis within British Columbia and, in Canadian statistics, although these do not, of course, reflect the number of users throughout Canada, in 1964, there were 28 convictions under the Narcotic Control Act, in 1967, 586 convictions and, in 1969, 2,964. As I say, these numbers do not indicate the number of users of cannabis in our country but they do serve as a very accurate means of demonstrating the sharp increase in the use of marijuana and hashish within the past five years alone. Mr. R.C. Hammond, Chief of the Department of the Narcotic Control, in Ottawa, has stated that 50 per cent of the known users of marijuana and hashish are under 20 years of age in Canada. He goes on to talk about LSD: "From the details that are now arriving in the Department of Narcotic Control, it is quite obvious that the availability and use of LSD are causing serious health hazards to the youth of our country and the safety of all Canadians."
Two weeks ago, when this bill was debated, there was much concern that the medical profession leaves much to be desired in its statements about drug abuse and the non-medical use of drugs. I can certainly align myself with those statements made on the floor of this House in criticism of the medical profession for not stating their case more clearly, either one way or the other in regard to the non-medical use of drugs. Indeed, it is in their very silence that they reflect a misunderstanding of their role in our health system. This one major social issue is a subject on which they should show clear priority of understanding and of knowledge.
There is a need to control the free availability of large amounts of barbiturates, amphetamines or narcotics produced in Canada, or imported into Canada, for medical purposes, through overprescribing, through reselling of unauthorized prescriptions, through dispensing of forged and
[ Page 719 ]
fictitious prescriptions, through theft from pharmacists and doctors' offices, through lack of knowledge of the dependence-producing properties of these drugs.
Just recently, in one of the medical papers that was distributed at the university, one of the spokesmen for the medical profession said that a few months ago in a western province, which he does not identify, a patient obtained prescriptions in a one-month period authorizing the dispensing of 2,800 dose units of a mind-modifying drug on her behalf. Obviously, the quantity was not needed on medical grounds and would not be used exclusively by the individual.
Although doctors must share some blame for the widespread availability of drugs through overprescribing, this is obviously not the only cause of youth being driven into such mind-expanding and drug-abusing market. An adolescent stands in constant jeopardy of being introduced to drugs by his friends who have a fervent desire to involve others in their experiences and, of course, the whole drug business is big business and the pushers and the middlemen are leaving no stone unturned to maintain their lucrative practice. Maybe it is through the medical profession, silent until now, that our greatest hope for prevention in the future lies.
If we look for addiction, we will find it everywhere. If doctors talk about it, then, parents will be on the lookout too. If doctors educate about its dangers in schools, colleges and interested organizations, then, doctors would undoubtedly fulfill the first requisite in treating any disease -preventing it. Therefore, the advisors established through this act should request assistance and co-operation from the Canadian Medical Association and from the B.C. Medical Association. I would think that the Members who are voicing their disapproval of that suggestion would certainly want to have scientific knowledge and medical knowledge brought to bear on this subject. I can't understand why the Member, who is so negative in his response to this, would not consider this. I think that the medical profession should collate known information and organize a better drug prevention system. Surely in this age of computers that can be done. Surely in this age of computers there should not be phony prescriptions or secondary prescriptions filled, when they are not needed. They should be able also to produce a panel of speakers of professional medical men and women to go into schools, colleges and universities to give medical facts and scientific information. Many theories have been advanced concerning the cause and correction of drug dependence, ranging from lack of communication with youth to the availability of drugs. But, individuals living under a wide variety of circumstances and environmental conditions are involved, indicating there really is no magic solution to drug abuse. No single agency, profession or Province, or even country, in isolation, can solve the problem.
Everyone must share some responsibility. There must be a united effort to ensure a constructive programme of education, of treatment, research, rehabilitation and control of drugs. I have mentioned the medical profession but I could add many Professions or groups that should be recruited through this bill to work toward alleviating this cancer from our society. I would like to just mention four. The communications media should begin a very aggressive educational campaign so that the dangers of smoking, drug-taking and alcohol are well known by every British Columbian. They should recognize their responsibility to rid their programmes of drug-inducing songs and drug-inducing plays and to stop glamorizing drugs. Now, the Member opposite, who is finding this subject very comical, can take note of the fact that, in the United States of America, they have recognized that there are very many people in the radio and television business who are pushing drugs and are pushing the idea of drugs throughout the communities. In Washington, D.C., the United States Federal Communications Commission had told radio stations across the country that they have to clamp down on their drug jargon because they are perpetrating this whole subject throughout all of the radio stations. You know, of course, that this is true throughout Canada, as well, and particularly in the city of Vancouver, I might mention, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Would the Honourable the Second Member for Vancouver East please stop his inane remarks.
MRS. McCARTHY: The second area that I think we should be very concerned about, and another one of the areas that I would think that this bill would have particular reference to, is the parents, the very concerned parents of drug users, very many of them very young drug users. We certainly need an educational campaign aimed at parents whose ignorance of factual information is one of the saddest problems that we have to face in this particular area of concern. I think, too, that another area that we have to have better communication with is the law enforcement agencies. I can say this that, in the city of Vancouver, we have had particularly good communication with the law enforcers, with the police force, in our particular city but I still wish to say this that, if we say that it is very difficult to enforce the law and to find the drug pushers whom we are really concerned about catching, can I tell you that any 14-year-old or 13-year-old in the city of Vancouver knows where they are, so surely the law enforcement officers, the police force, the RCMP, the narcotics squad should be able to find them just as easily.
I am saying, too, that we have to have the greatest of co-operation, through the committees set up through this bill, with the Federal Government, which has spent $1,225,000 on a commission, which really has been designed to find out the extent of drug abuse in this country but has succeeded only in creating a more permissive drug-using society - the Le Dain Commission. They have not come to basic grips with the increasing drug problem and, because of their public attitudes, they have contributed to our National problem rather than seeking a National and possible solution.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Welfare has recently announced that it will spend this year $41/2 million on fighting drug abuse. The greatest need for this particular fund to do, through its committee, is for an immediate meeting of the Federal Government officials who are in charge of this great and grave National problem. I have asked different Provinces in Canada their opinion as to whether or not they would have a joint conference of Attorney s-General, Ministers of Health, Youth Ministers and Ministers of Rehabilitation across the country, and I have had replies from several of them, which indicate a very keen desire to meet as a Provincial-Federal conference, somewhere in Canada, to collate the information, to put before this conference the kind of information that this programme would set up. I have heard from Prince Edward Island, who say that they feel that the need is urgent. I have a telegram from New Brunswick, who say that there is a need for a central bureau to collate material, films, etc. They would support a Federal-Provincial conference. They say the need is urgent. I have heard from Saskatchewan, who do not
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feel that there is a need for a Provincial-Federal conference to plan a National programme. From Alberta, a telephone call and a telegram. They outlined their programme of drug abuse - the only Province, by the way, in Canada, that has such a costly one - $1.1 million in the Province of Alberta - of which they have financed two films, totalling $1 million for two films. In talking to them on the telephone, they suggest that we could have prints of these films and that, of course, would be the idea of collating information and showing and exchanging films across the country. There is no point in us spending half a million dollars on a film, Alberta spending half a million dollars on a film, and Ontario spending half a million on a film, if the one film will do all three Provinces. So there is a need for Provincial-Federal co-operation. I was surprised to hear from the Federal Minister of Health, who says: "I do not believe that there is requirement for a Province to collate educational material on this subject. Do not plan Federal-Provincial conference to plan National programme." I was surprised at that because it was just, I think, last October that there was a joint Provincial-Federal conference of the Ministers of Health, where, apparently, the Attorneys-General or the Ministers of Health decided to have such a conference. So I am rather surprised that we are not allowed or we are not considering that on the National scene.
I do think that if ever co-operation were needed between British Columbia and Ottawa, it is needed now on this subject. It is necessary to have a meeting of all Provincial Attorneys-General, all Provincial Health Ministers, all Provincial Education Ministers, closeted in a meeting with Federal officials, until a proper plan of action is implemented for Canada. I believe there has to be an exchange of information. There are no boundaries to drug addiction. The very mobility of addicts makes close co-operation imperative. We need imaginative demonstration projects as regards rehabilitation. We need to proceed very carefully by means of a research project to first determine what is likely to be the most effective approach and which portion of the population we wish to reach. I think it would be very good, in fact, to consider the programme that the Member who has taken his place, the Member from Langley, to consider that as one of the projects. I think that we must have complete accountability for every project that we enter into. But, I think, too, that there is a place for an incentive programme such as the Outward Bound programme. I believe there is a place for community counseling and referral centres, which will ultimately be refunded by the communities themselves and the communities concerned. I think there should be demonstration centres and I do believe that there should be innovative rehabilitation centres, as long as adequate accounting and accurate and reliable proof of success is established.
We are faced with a very great challenge, through the initiation of the bill and through the problem that we face, but it is still easier to prevent drug dependence than to treat it. It will require the united efforts of members of a number of disciplines to teach us how to prevent it. I believe that the perpetual fund set up by this bill - 11 - will give hope to the worried families of British Columbia and a better future for their children.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Delta.
MR. R. WENMAN (Delta): Mr. Speaker, I don't really like to vote against the Government on good policies because I think it's a good government and they have good policies. I particularly don't like to vote against a bill by the Minister of Finance but I would have to say that I am not convinced about the investment policy of this bill. I look forward to the Minister's closing of the bill because perhaps he can convince me.
The reason that I am concerned about this bill is because the word "perpetuity" rather frightens me. That's a long, long time. To make a policy for perpetuity - I feel rather insecure about doing that sort of thing. One of the reasons that I do is that I think there might be a better investment use for this money. If you were to take this $25 million and invest it and put, it as an asset in a chartered bank, it could become $250 million. This $25 million is only a part of a larger $1.7 billion. If we were to take that $1.7 billion and bury them in the investment funds, perpetual funds and so forth that we have, and we were to invest them in a chartered bank, well, then, we would have enough money, if we were to invest that, that would give us $17 billion dollars. I would suggest from that $17 billion, we could realize $1.3 billion a year which is our total budget of the Province of British Columbia, if we were to invest it at 8 per cent. All we need now is a chartered bank. Of course, we weren't allowed to have a chartered bank to put these perpetual funds into because, at that time, the Government of Canada - we relied on them to have cost-sharing programmes and so forth. But with the investment of this $17 billion and a return at 8 per cent, we don't need the Federal Government any more in our financial policies in British Columbia. Of course, we would like to have their money to add to that sum. So I wonder about the investment of that money in perpetual funds, when it should be saved for the day when we will have a chartered bank in the Province of British Columbia and we will be able to invest these assets and we will be able to multiply them by ten and have total financial independence for our Province. That's the question I would like to ask. How do you relate the perpetuity aspect in relationship to what we should be doing - the establishment of a chartered bank in the Province of British Columbia? If you can give me some assurances on that perhaps I will be able to support the bill.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Honourable Member for Kootenay.
MR. L.T. NIMSICK (Kootenay): I would like to say just a few words on the principle of this bill - the special fund idea that has been brought out this last few years. It's not very many years ago, you know, when this Government took over. We had a few funds at that time, too. We had one fund that was called "Game Conservation Fund." It was set up by the sportsmen of the Province and it was running into millions of dollars.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh come, come.
MR. NIMSICK: No, no. I can prove that to you. It was in the millions of dollars. Then we had a "Silviculture Fund" and this Government abandoned all these funds. They abandoned them. They said that everything should go into consolidated revenue and there shouldn't be any special funds set up at all. Now they have changed their opinions altogether. A lot of these younger Members, of course, don't know anything about these previous funds. I wonder why the Government has changed. When I was a child my mother used to take money and put it in the sugar bowl, so she would have it when she needed it. Now we've got sugar bowls all over the shelf. We've got sugar bowls all over the shelves
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with the money in them and I think it's more of a hiding place.
When you talk of perpetual funds, there is no guarantee -because a Government can change that fund just by a change by the Legislature. You know that as well as I do because the Game Conservation Fund was by Statute. It was promised and there was an act. This Government broke their promise in regards to that fund, the promise of the previous Government, and abolished it. These funds can be abolished, so don't talk to me about a perpetual fund. You can change them, just by the will of the Legislature.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The First Member for Vancouver Centre.
MR. CAPOZZI: It's not quite midnight yet, Mr. Minister, it's not quite the witching hour.
I would like to speak very briefly on this bill because it's the same story. It's one of those things that the experts are always in every other field and we are not supposed to speak on the type of thing that I guess we are involved in, in the sense of industry, etc. But, a perpetual fund of this nature, certainly, the idea of having funds available for the expenditure in the areas of drug education, alcohol and cigarettes ... I do hope, Mr. Minister, that when we allocate these funds that some of the awareness of where the real problems are ... What has happened in the last few years is that a tremendous amount of publicity accent in the papers has given the impression that the major problem in the Province of British Columbia is drugs. Everyone would be vitally concerned until you start comparing some statistics. Very frankly, Mr. Minister, recently, some figures in Ontario indicated that the number of convictions, etc., and felonies involving drugs, amounted to roughly 30,000 in one year, while those involving alcohol amounted to 300,000. 1 would point out that the area, the main area of rehabilitation and concern, happens to be in the area of alcohol studies. I would suggest, Mr. Minister, that this fund and whoever co-ordinates this fund, should be involved with the industry and try to co-ordinate some of the industry's funds in this same field. I honestly believe that industry has a responsibility in this particular area of rehabilitation in the question of alcohol development. It isn't a question of whether you tax them heavily, but they should be involved in the co-ordination because, if people are more aware of the particular problems, they should be going to people within the industry because they are anxious to improve the image. Let's face it. They tried prohibition and it didn't work.
The real concern has to be what we are going to do in co-operation with the industry. But, you know, Mr. Minister, there is one real problem with perpetual funds and I might take just a brief moment to tell the House about the story . . . Recently, the science of taking people and freezing them and putting them away has reached a great deal of prominence. Supposedly a scientist had perfected this act where he could actually take and put an individual away. So, he went to somebody and he said how much money do you have and the person says I have $25,000. The fellow said, "Look, I'll tell you what I'll do for you. If you'll give me $5,000 of that, I'll take the other $20,000 and invest it. At the end of a hundred years, we will wake you up out of this freezing process and that money, having been put away at accumulative interest, at that time, will amount to several million dollars." So he agreed that this was not a bad idea. It had been perfected so he gave him the paper of the bank where the money was to be deposited and so on, after he had been convinced by the actuary who pointed out that the money would be worth $1,200,000. They put him into the tomb, they sealed it up and a hundred years later the alarm went off, the door of the tomb swung open and the sunshine and the warmth came in. Suddenly he woke up after this long hundred years' sleep. He looked around and finally appreciated where he was and he reached down and there was the telephone number of the bank to call. So he walked over and outside in front of him was a weird thing that must have been a telephone because it had the same things. So he took it, he went to the phone, he picked the receiver up and a voice said, "What is your number?" He gave the number in New York. At that stage the voice came over and said, "Please deposit $1,200,000."
MR. SPEAKER: The Honourable the Premier will close the debate.
MR. BENNETT: As mover of this bill, a part of the Budget, it has created great interest amongst Members of the House even at this hour. However, a good bill like this could be debated at any time. I want to say very clearly that these perpetual funds ... it is true you could set them up and have pyramided interest for years and for centuries but, Mr. Speaker, that is not my idea of what we are supposed to do in the service of mankind. It's like Moses said, " . . . the bush burned with fire and the bush was not consumed." In other words, it served and continued forever. When a person is in life, you must spend and be spent and this money that the people have entrusted to us, we must spend it daily for the good of people.
Mr. Speaker, this is Social Credit Government in action. This is the very basis of our whole philosophy. The idea that we can have the lowest tax rates in all of Canada, the very idea that we can have more services to people, home-owner grants, per capita grants, the best medicare, the best hospital insurance, the greatest services to people, and, besides that, large budgets and, over and above that, surpluses voted each year for the service of people, sums up this service for people forever, even when this Government fades and dies away. This is the monument by which this Government will always be known - that it looked not only for the present, but it looked for the future as well. The very fact that, out of these surplus funds, we can take $15 million and invest it for service to people, over and above our Budgets, shows definitely that the Social Credit Government and the Social Credit movement, this grass roots movement, really has the answers. While the principle of this bill is to set up surplus funds and the $20 million as well for the building of homes, I challenge anybody in this House to dare vote against this bill, Mr. Speaker, to dare vote against this bill.
The very important question in this bill, as well, is our attack against abuses of alcohol, against the abuses of cigarettes and against the abuses of drugs. I am sure, if you vote for this bill, you can't vote to continue the advertising of alcohol and drugs. So, tonight, Mr. Speaker, I throw down the gauntlet to the people, the Members in this House ... I see some of them trying to quit already. The principle involved in this bill is out of these funds, with good management, that we have set aside, the creation of hundreds and hundreds of millions by not paying any interest on that debt because we have no debt ... The Opposition can giggle, Mr. Speaker, but they know nothing about financing. Let them look in the Public Accounts of this Province and in
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British Columbia, alone, will they find no interest charges -the only place anywhere, Mr. Speaker. That's the reason why we have this money. We have saved hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Speaker. I move second reading.
The House divided.
Motion agreed to on the following division:
YEAS - 44
|Kripps, Mrs.||McCarthy, Mrs.||Loffmark|
|Price||Dawson, Mrs.||Campbell, D.R.J,|
NAYS - 4
Bill 11 read a second time and Ordered to be placed on the Orders of the Day for committal at the next sitting after today.
The House adjourned at 11:54 p.m.