1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th
The following electronic version is for informational
The printed version remains the official version.
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 1975
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Accuracy of statements made by Minister of Housing re purchase of Casa Loma complex. Mr. D.A. Anderson — 317
Mr. Speaker — 317
Victoria-Seattle ferry service. Mr. Bennett — 318
Tabling of MacDougall report. Mr. D.A. Anderson — 318
New government policy on B.C. Tel shares purchase. Mr. Wallace — 319
Cabinet table purchase. Hon. Mr. Hartley — 319
Purchase of European ferry. Mr. Curtis — 319
Under-age students in pubs. Mr. Wallace — 320
Firing of Tom Machin. Mr. Phillips — 320
"Knighting" of Mr. Cass-Beggs. Mr. L.A. Williams — 320
Cancellation of ICBC fire insurance. Mr. McClelland — 320
Federal foreign ownership controls. Mr. Gibson — 321
Ferry purchase negotiations. Mr. Curtis — 321
Budget debate (continued)
Hon. Mr. Lorimer — 321
Ms. Sanford — 324
Mr. Morrison — 327
Mrs. Webster — 330
Mr. D'Arcy — 333
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 336
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 1975
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege: I would like to bring to your attention what appears to me to be a breach of privileges of the Members of this House. I realize, Sir, that Ministers of the Crown are under no obligation to answer questions in this House, but it is my understanding of the rules that if they choose to answer, the Members have a right to accurate information.
On February 28, following a series of questions by myself and other Hon. Members, the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson) rose in his place and made a statement about the government's purchase of the Casa Loma Motel apartment complex. In his statement he said — and I am quoting now, Sir, from the statement made....
MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, what page are you referring to in the advance copies, so I can at least check that page?
MR. SPEAKER: Well, at a later time.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Certainly, Sir, I'll give you that. The quote here is:
In this connection, the $3,177,500 purchase price for the completed 125-unit building works out at $25,420 per apartment unit, as opposed to Dunhill's estimated replacement costs, exclusive of developer's profits, of $29,650. I must stress that this is for completed construction, this cost....
He goes on to say that this is for a completed project. Last Saturday the Vancouver Province ran a story under the headline "Casa Loma May Cost One-Third Million More," asserting that the total cost was not as stated, $3,177,000, but in excess of $3.5 million.
MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, Hon. Member, I'd like to interrupt just for one second. Were you in question period yesterday when the Minister spoke?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, no.
MR. SPEAKER: I think the matter was probably cleared up by the Hon. Minister in terms that explained what he meant. Now I would be prepared to go ahead with this, if you want me to look at the question.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: In my next paragraph, Mr. Speaker, I refer to the Minister's statement in the House. Unfortunately, when he stated that he had not intended to mislead the House.... This may have been accepted, Mr. Speaker, except that the statement he made in the House yesterday during question period, and the information he gave yesterday in his "clarification," was as inaccurate as the original statement.
It is that point, Mr. Speaker, on which I believe there is a question of privilege, not on what took place previous to that time.
MR. SPEAKER: Well, I'd be glad to look at your point and discuss it with my advisers and report back to the House.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Right, Mr. Speaker, I'll give you then these three paragraphs of information on that.
In the House yesterday the Minister admitted that the total cost of the Casa Loma project was not $3,177,000 but $3.53 million. He added that the extra $350,000 was for administration costs of Dunhill of $33,000, modifications of $100,000 and, Mr. Speaker — and here is the point in dispute — interest on advances, until the CMHC loan is received in June of $218,000.
The Minister then said that this interest was on the "$540,000 and the $300,000-odd figure." Those are quotes. Not only were both these figures at variance with information given to the House on February 25, when he said $570,000 and $450,000, but even taking the latter and higher figures into account, interest charges come nowhere near the amount stipulated by the Minister.
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): For what period?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: We'll come to that in just one moment, Mr. Attorney-General.
Interest at 10.375 per cent on the $570,000 figure from January 14, which is the date the agreement for sale was signed, to June, the date given by the Minister — four and a half months — equals approximately $22,000. The interest on the $450,000 from the period March 1 to June is approximately $11,700. Mr. Speaker, you total these up, you subtract them from the $218,000 figure given by the Minister yesterday and there is a discrepancy of some $184,300 unaccounted for. I think it's time that this House indicated its displeasure at this sort of misleading information from a Minister.
HON. R.M. STRACHAN (Minister of Transport and Communications): Don't be picayune.
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MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I would ask you to consider the discrepancy between the Minister's statement, Mr. Speaker, and the facts and rules as to whether a prima facie breach of privilege has occurred. If your ruling is affirmative, I will make the appropriate motion.
MR. SPEAKER: As I said, I'll look into the question and obtain a transcript of your remarks so I can get it accurately.
HON. D.D. STUPICH (Minister of Agriculture): Mr. Speaker, as further evidence of the goodwill on all sides of the House, I'd like everyone to join with me in welcoming a group of students from Nanaimo.
HON. W.L. HARTLEY (Minister of Public Works): Mr. Speaker, I'd like to rise and welcome three guests from the Nicola Valley — Ken Bernard, Mrs. Dorothy Mackie and Bobby Powell. I'd like to thank them on behalf of the House for bringing this fine Nicola sunshine down to Victoria.
At 3 p.m. we'll have a group of secondary school students down from Princeton.
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Transport and Communications: could the Minister assure the House that a ferry service will be operated on the route between Victoria and Seattle during the summer of 1975?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I can't give that assurance.
MR. BENNETT: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister advise the House if — because this route has been abandoned and I know that he would probably have discussions on an alternate service — he has held discussions with Ottawa in overcoming any difficulties with respect to the British North America Act that could interfere with the provincial government or a Crown corporation operating an international route such as this?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I've already drawn to the attention of the federal government their obligations Under the British North America Act.
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): I just wonder if the Minister could expand slightly on that question, Mr. Speaker. The British North America Act says that it's the exclusive jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to operate ferries between a province and any British or foreign country, or between two provinces. It also outlines that a province may take undertakings other than lines of steam or other ships, railways, canals, telegraphs and other works and undertakings connecting the province with any other, or others of the province, or extending beyond the limits of the province.
Mr. Speaker, the question is: with regard to the now government-owned Vancouver Island Coach Lines, and other bus lines which this government may have, are they violating the constitutional rights of the province?
MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry, the question will be out of order. In Beauchesne, at page 147, it says: "A Member must not ask the solution of a legal problem or legal proposition such as interpretation of a statute, a Minister's own powers, et cetera." Therefore it's obviously out of order, isn't it?
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, could I ask, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister's had any discussions with the federal government concerning the problems with relation to the BNA Act and operating its buses outside of British Columbia?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: It's nothing to do with us.
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): On the same subject, to the Minister of Transport and Communications: has the provincial government or B.C. Ferries approached the federal government with regard to an operating subsidy for the Victoria-Seattle route, should it be operated by the province?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I've asked the federal government to recognize their obligations to British Columbia, and I've asked the same treatment for British Columbia that they extend to the east coast of this country.
MR. CURTIS: A supplementary to the Minister. Can the Minister inform the House if any consideration has been given to operating a vessel already in the fleet on the Victoria-Seattle service — as an example, the Sechelt Queen, which is the former motor vessel Chinook, as the Minister knows?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: The question is being examined.
TABLING OF MACDOUGALL REPORT
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: To the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources. May I ask the Minister whether he is willing to table the report of Professor
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MacDougall of Dalhousie University on the question of the Columbia River treaty?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS (Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources): The answer is no, Mr. Speaker.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary. May I ask the Minister when Professor MacDougall reported to him?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I'll take that question as notice.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: A further supplementary. May I ask the Minister when the document tabled yesterday in the Legislature, or the copy thereof, first came into the Minister's possession?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I indicated to the House that I saw the document only after the question was asked in the House.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: The question was: "...first came into the possession of the Minister?"
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I don't have the date, Mr. Speaker.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): On the same subject, I wonder if I could ask the Minister if he would be prepared to table into the House the 10 pages of questions and answers given to the CBC — between CBC and his office — that he referred to in the House yesterday, which presumably, having been given to a news organization, is a public type of document.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I'll take the question under advisement, Mr. Speaker.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
NEW GOVERNMENT POLICY ON
B.C. TEL SHARES PURCHASE
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): I'd like to ask the Premier, in light of his statement on radio yesterday that the nationalization of B.C. Tel is no longer a priority of this government, whether he can tell the House if the government is continuing to buy shares of B.C. Tel.
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): Wrong number. (Laughter.) I'll take it as notice.
CABINET TABLE PURCHASE
HON. MR. HARTLEY: I would like to ask a question of the Leader of the Opposition. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: Somewhat unusual, but what is the question? (Laughter.) What is the question, please?
HON. MR. HARTLEY: In the verbatim report of the Leader of the Opposition's speech yesterday, page 340-3, it states: "We all know the tale of the $30,000 cabinet table." Now this would befall the Department of Public Works. I know nothing of this. I would like the Leader of the Opposition to tell us more about it. If he has some facts and some documents, I'd like to see them tabled with the House.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Resign, resign!
MR. BENNETT: I'll take it as notice, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: While the hon. leader is taking the question as notice, I'll take it as notice, too, to look up standing order 47 with more particularity to see whether it is a question, in fact, that deals with public business where, as such, the Member may be concerned. I must look at that before I rule on the question. That would allow the Hon. Member in any case to renew his question and the Hon. Leader of the Opposition to answer under the rules.
CHARTER OF EUROPEAN FERRY
MR. CURTIS: Mr. Speaker, it's nice to know that the present government is practising its new role of opposition, which should come along fairly soon. (Laughter.)
To the Minister of Transport and Communications. I wonder if the Minister....
MR. CURTIS: Not yours, buster. (Laughter.)
I wonder if the Minister of Transport and Communications could assure the House that his department and/or B.C. Ferries is not considering the chartering or leasing of another European vessel, or of a European vessel, for service in the B.C. Ferries fleet?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I classify that question in exactly the same way as I classified the news story
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which purported to say just that. I said that that news story was garbage; it's still garbage.
MR. CURTIS: Supplementary. There is absolutely no activity with respect to — not purchase — leasing or charter of a vessel?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Any such suggestion, as I said, that fits in with that story, is garbage. There's no truth to it.
MR. CURTIS: On the same subject, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister of Transport and Communications aware of any plans for a design or construction of a bridge link, or study of the feasibility of a bridge link, between Mayne Island and Saturna Island in the southern Gulf Island group, thus eliminating the ferry run to Saturna Island?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I have no knowledge of any such study.
UNDER-AGE STUDENTS IN PUBS
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the Attorney-General a question with regard to the incident in Nanaimo at the weekend where the RCMP are reported to have found a couple of pubs looking like a junior high school meeting. Does the Attorney-General have any evidence to indicate that this lax enforcement of the liquor laws is province-wide?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: I'll have to take it as notice.
MR. WALLACE: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Has the Minister not ordered some inquiry into the Nanaimo situation?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: Not yet, and maybe never, but I haven't received the information yet. I just wish to thank the Member for drawing it to my attention.
FIRING OF TOM MACHIN
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): I'd like to direct a question to the Minister of Transport and Communications and the president of the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia. Would the Minister, due to the fact that the insurance corporation seems to be having a lot of management problems, explain to the House the circumstances surrounding the untimely firing of one of the best insurance men in North America, Mr. Tom Machin.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Two phrases were "management troubles" (we're not having any) and "untimely firing" (that's your phrase). I'll take your question as notice.
KNIGHTING OF MR. CASS-BEGGS
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Hon. Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources regarding B.C. Hydro. In light of the practice adopted by the Minister of Education (Hon. Mrs. Dailly), could the Minister advise us when Mr. Cass-Beggs will be knighted? (Laughter.)
HON. MR. BARRETT: You mean they spent all that money on you and that's the only question you can come up with?
MR. SPEAKER: I imagine that that comes under the heading of irony, and that there is not really a requisite for an answer. Knighthoods have not been permitted in this country since Mackenzie King. (Laughter.)
CANCELLATION OF ICBC FIRE
MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Transport and Communications as well, with regard to ICBC. Is it true that the corporation is cancelling tenant packages for fire insurance for people who are, first of all, tenants, under 30 and single?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: That's the second ICBC question this session. I am not quite used to ICBC questions. I'll take that one as notice.
MR. McCLELLAND: While he's taking that as notice, could I also ask if the corporation is also cancelling fire insurance policies for tenants who are unemployed or living common law, and whether or not there will be written orders coming out from ICBC detailing whom agents can accept as applicants for fire insurance and whom they can't accept?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: That's not a question; it's straight innuendo.
MR. McCLELLAND: Of course it's a question.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I'll check into it. But, frankly, any question you ask about ICBC, I am almost certain to be wrong, because all you do is indulge in innuendo and smear. I don't believe a word of it.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
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HON. MR. STRACHAN: Throw him out! It's all he does!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I don't think that the Members' speeches should be characterized as innuendo or smear.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw!
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I'll withdraw that statement, but he should withdraw the question, because the question has innuendo in there!
MR. SPEAKER: I think it's well known that every Member must take responsibility for the statements they make in this House. If it proves on investigation that they are not correct, then they must bear the obloquy of that statement.
MR. GIBSON: I'll try not to bear any obloquy for this one, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKER: I'll try and look up the pronunciation when I retire.
FEDERAL FOREIGN OWNERSHIP CONTROLS
MR. GIBSON: A question for the Minister of Economic Development: in view of the fact that most of the provinces have been making representations to the federal government with respect to the proclamation of Part II of the Foreign Investment Review Act, which would call for the assessment of expansion of operations by foreign companies within Canada, has the Minister made any representations to Ottawa on behalf of British Columbia in this regard or does he plan to?
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Economic Development): I have had discussions with Alastair Gillespie and those discussions at the official level are continuing with respect to the proclamation of the second part of the Act. They will be continuing throughout the next several weeks.
MR. GIBSON: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Minister could advise the House as to the general attitude of the government with respect to the proclamation of Part II.
HON. MR. LAUK: It's one of inquiry. We find that dealing with federal empires is very difficult. We are trying to find out how they would enforce the second part before we can formulate our opinion, because we don't know how it will affect us economically until we know how they are going to enforce the second part. So we are at the table trying to figure out what they are going to do, and they won't tell us until they find out what our attitude is.
FERRY PURCHASE NEGOTIATIONS
MR. CURTIS: To the Minister of Transport and Communications with regard to B.C. Ferries again: has the government or B.C. Ferries requested Canada Steamship inspection or any other federal inspection of the Princess Marguerite, the CPR vessel, while possible purchase is under consideration by the government?
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I would have to check on it, but I think we have.
MR. CURTIS: Will we have a reply?
Orders of the day.
ON THE BUDGET
HON. J.G. LORIMER (Minister of Municipal Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I don't quite know which one to start on, but I want to say how pleased I am to be here to be able to discuss the great budget with the House. I spent the weekend painting 4 X 8 signs — this orange and black on my hand is paint, not lack of soap. (Laughter.)
We're now debating, of course, the greatest budget ever presented to this House. I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Barrett) for the production of this budget which shows his confidence in the people of this province. Through his vigorous and dedicated leadership over the past two and a half years there has been great headway made in the Province of British Columbia. Here we have a Minister of Finance who knows what finance is all about.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. LORIMER: He uses the tools at his disposal to change the trend and growth of the province.
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): You're reading it exactly the way I wrote it. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. LORIMER: As the result, while there is a recession in the western world, in British Columbia we see economic growth.
Here's your notes. (Laughter.) Now we get back to my prepared statement.
The doom-and-gloom gang over there were very happy on Friday. They thought there was going to be a budget come down which would have big deficits and so on and so forth. As the speech was progressing, the faces got longer and the smiles a little less; the joy in the heart ebbed quite quickly.
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MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): How do you know?
AN HON. MEMBER: His wife told him. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. LORIMER: Apparently it was on TV. (Laughter.) I might say, this was not a vintage day for the opposition. I felt sorry for the speakers yesterday, though. Their responsibility was to criticize the budget, and that would be a difficult job even for a good leader. (Laughter.) What the speakers did lack in quality they certainly made up in length, and I want to congratulate the speakers for crowding a 10-minute speech into an hour and a quarter. (Laughter.)
On Saturday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) said there was going to be a deficit. On Monday he said there may be a deficit. And I think tomorrow he might get close to the truth and say there's not going to be a deficit. Well, it was a bad day for the opposition yesterday, and they handled it that way. (Laughter.)
First, I'd like to discuss a few things in regard to transit. The programme throughout the province is going reasonably well. The problem of delivery of vehicles is holding up some services that should be in place at the present time. Through our purchases of 114 new buses in 1973, 250 new buses and 54 used buses last year and the additional orders of 175 new vehicles this year, we will basically have doubled the vehicle capacity of the B.C. Hydro fleet.
People's expectations throughout many, many areas of the province are rising. Although we will not be able to provide services immediately for all localities, we will be and are presently progressing with planning of a number of areas in preparation for arrival of vehicles so that they can be put into service immediately.
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): How about Skookumchuck?
HON. MR. LORIMER: Skookumchuck is next on the list.
We're also studying the feasibility of manufacturing vehicles in this province under licence from a European bus firm. When that feasibility study is completed we will then be in a position to determine whether or not it is a good project.
There are a number of advantages. One, of course, is that we would have control of our deliveries. A second thing is that we would be able to produce vehicles that are best suited to the needs of this particular province. Thirdly, of course, is the question of employment. It could create not only jobs in the factory but could create a lot of jobs for the existing factories that would be producing parts for the vehicles.
I am pleased to report on the good progress and design of the ferry for North Vancouver across the harbour. This will be an innovative, transit ferry and is being pushed through by B.C. know how and through the consulting operations of a Victoria firm.
I want to make a few remarks about housing, which is one of the major social problems that we're facing in the province. I am concerned by the actions of some municipalities, or alternatively the non-action by some municipalities, and delays in preventing needed housing units going ahead. This is not a widespread problem, but it is a very big problem in two or three municipalities, and they are standing and throwing roadblocks in the way of building and housing.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Which ones?
HON. MR. LORIMER: The charging by municipalities of impost fees may be a valid charge, but when that inpost fee becomes a penalty, and a roadblock against construction and services beyond the scope of that particular development, then I think that it's gone too far. The municipalities I'm referring to get out of hand, and these blocks are being used only to prevent housing developments from proceeding. The government is going to have to take a look at the situation and take action to circumvent this type of action taken by some of the municipalities.
Some municipalities have been delaying decisions and delaying passing of bylaws to prevent needed construction. In some cases, requirements keep changing from month to month to discourage applicants. Other actions by some municipalities are certainly hard to understand. We have information that in some cases there have been delays of up to two years on granting permission to proceed.
There are a number of examples of small things that take place. As an example, a person appealed under section 707(a) of the Municipal Act against the ruling of the council and the board of variance. In this particular case it was an old subdivision in which there were two 33-foot lots next to each other. Since that time, the building requirements stated that the square footage had to be of a larger amount than was contained in one of those lots and they demanded that they buy the other lot and combine it into one lot. This sort of approach to our housing problem seems to me to be irresponsible and totally non-acceptable. Instead of having two units in a properly planned area at one stage, they demand only one unit next door to other lots in which the houses are sitting on 33-foot frontages.
Restrictive zoning regulations of this type and
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opposition to town houses, to cluster housing, to mobile-home sites and to cooperative housing are all factors that deny to people the housing that they so dearly need.
The province, through the Department of Housing, is making great strides in the housing field, with efforts to stimulate the building of accommodation of all kinds. Last year an amendment to the Municipal Act gave them the power to install basic services with funding in advance, and this programme is proceeding satisfactorily. The province is going all out on housing, and municipalities must give us their cooperation.
In planning and zoning, municipalities enjoy a very large measure of autonomy — almost total autonomy. In Ontario, the province can exercise substantial authority over planning and zoning in municipalities. Now, I hope it will not be necessary for this province to follow the example of Ontario, but unless some attitudes change in some municipalities, special provisions will have to be made.
The municipalities and regional districts, like other governments, corporations and individuals, are having problems with inflation: costs are spiralling. Municipalities need money, and they need it badly. They have a lot of problems that they financially cannot afford to carry out at the present time. In matters that they proceeded with a year ago, their estimates that they received at that time in actual cost in dollars will probably rise 20 per cent by the time the matter is completed. The costs of materials and wages have risen sharply, but so have the demands from the residents. Demands of the people residing in municipalities and their expectations are mounting just as rapidly as the costs.
The cities are faced with the problem of supplying services that are being demanded and trying to hold taxes down, and are met with the increasing costs; however, it is apparent from a view of the audited financial statements and other statistical information that British Columbia municipalities generally enjoy a reasonable and sound financial position. These things are all relative, of course. My predecessor used to make a number of yards every year on reciting statistics, and I will fill you in on the picture again on statistics but you can take it for what it's worth.
During the year 1973, the last year for which audited financial statements are available, revenues, including those of all utilities, were in excess of $700 million, an increase of $90 million over the year before — a record year.
Capital projects undertaken by municipalities in 1973 amounted to $338 million — another record.
Reserves and surpluses held in all accounts amounted to over $185 million — an all-time provincial high.
While most municipalities will report a further surplus this year, the financial assistance to the municipalities last year was very great. I'll go into that in a little more detail. But I notice in the newspaper here that Burnaby expects $1.5 million surplus. We haven't got a record of all of them as yet. They won't be in for a few months.
I understand that New Westminster has a surplus of around $600,000. Many cities did have very high grants and revenues from the province last year — the best year they've ever had — and a number will carry on this year as well.
A couple of months ago, as you know, the Premier announced the agreement with Ottawa to increase the price of exported natural gas and that the increase would be shared one-third to municipalities. Now this commitment is not only important to British Columbia municipalities, but it is important for all Canadian municipalities. It's the first effort ever made in this country to tie a sharing programme into a revenue source, and this has been the request of the municipalities throughout Canada for a great number of years.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): How many dollars?
HON. MR. LORIMER: They're all talking about making it different now or adding something to it. I'm telling you that this is the first time in the history of Canada where there has been a revenue programme that has been shared by municipalities in accordance with the....
This commitment is not only important to British Columbia, as I said, but it is important throughout Canada, and at our last tri-level conference one of the major requests by the municipalities was for such a sharing formula.
As a result, the municipalities will be in an even sounder financial position next year. The added amounts received this year will allow the municipalities to carry out many of the needed projects which have been delayed over the previous years.
The municipalities received more assistance last year than ever before with community recreation grants; welfare costs reduced from 15 per cent to 10 per cent; in Vancouver the removal of the costs of the administration of welfare; increase in the per capita grant; removal of the costs of administration of justice, and many other programmes including the sewerage facilities Act, which benefited the municipalities probably more than any single piece of legislation in the past great number of years.
Since the Act was passed last spring, the assistance totalled over $5.5 million, which was paid out to 79 municipalities in the province. This Act amended the Act previously put in by the previous administration. I would like to review some of the areas to see what was actually paid out under this statute.
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In Kelowna the sum of $97,000 was paid out to the City of Kelowna. In Langley it was almost $64,000, which amounts to about $13.62 per capita; in Central Saanich, $62,500, equal to $12.16 per capita; Chilliwack, $17,500; Delta, $224,000; Richmond, over $1 million; Saanich $500,000.
HON. MR. LORIMER: No, one is the District of Saanich — I forget which one it was. Central Saanich was the other. Squamish, $112,000, equal to $18.39 per capita; Fort St. John, $9.73; Golden, $31,000, $10.46 per capita.
HON. MR. LORIMER: I can't find Invermere. The tourists have the same problem.
Midway, $11,000, $22.80 per capita. It's a terrific piece of legislation, and the people in this province certainly accept it as such.
Under Social Credit legislation for assistance to sewage disposal, the total sum paid covering the years 1971, 1972 and 1973 amounted to $215,000 — for a total in three years. In one year under this legislation there's over $ 5.5 million, and we expect that the amount will increase next year.
During the summer I had the privilege of serving on the municipal matters committee of the Legislature which was charged with the responsibility of conducting public hearings throughout the province, and I might say that it was a very good committee. It used to be an all-party committee. The committee agreed that there was a need for an in-depth study of the total real property taxation field in this province.
I am pleased to announce today that a committee has now been formed and set up for this purpose. The chairman of this committee is Robert McNab of Richmond. The members are: Mrs. Alice McKenzie of Vancouver. Ross Marks, the past president of the UCBM and mayor of 100 Mile House; Mr. Bruno Myers, a businessman of Prince George; Sid Thompson, labour leader from Vancouver; Professor Robert Clarke of the University of British Columbia; Dr. Mason Gaffney of Victoria; Dr. Stan Hamilton of the University of British Columbia.
HON. MR. LORIMER: The terms of reference for the study will be, in part, the following:
Philosophy of the property tax, whether or not it's progressive or regressive in British Columbia; property tax legislation in other North American jurisdictions; property tax legislation in British Columbia past and present; distribution of the property tax load between classes of property in British Columbia; distribution between the municipal and the rural tax load; how the level of property taxation in British Columbia compares to other provinces; actual-value assessments and shifts of tax burdens; property taxes on Crown corporations; property tax exemption; to what extent property tax is an adequate source of local revenue; machinery tax; legislative changes, I will request from the committee that at their first meeting, if they wish to broaden the terms of reference, or change the terms of reference, I will be very happy to receive their suggestions so we can have a complete study of the many, many problems that we as a committee found in the taxation area.
MR. GIBSON: Will it be a public report?
HON. MR. LORIMER: It will be a report to the government.
MR. GIBSON: Will it be made public?
HON. MR. LORIMER: I haven't seen it yet.
HON. MR. LORIMER: The official opposition, since the election of 1972, I might say in finishing, appears to be unable to accept the fact that they have lost the election. I would suggest that they completely resent our presence on this side of the House, and their programme has been basically to stir up the fears and the hatreds in the province. It is an opposition of innuendo, rumour, fear and hysteria. I would suggest, to you that these tactics will not bring you back into power. You've cried wolf probably far too often.
New policies, better programmes, providing they're believable, will eventually defeat this government. Hysteria, divisiveness and fear will never defeat the government in British Columbia. I'd suggest that you discuss the issues of the day, tell the people of your new policies, of your new programmes. Tell them what programmes you would cut out. Tell them how you'd do away with Pharmacare, how you'd do away with Mincome, how you'd deal with ICBC. Tell them what cooperation you'd give Can-Cel. Tell them these things. Carping criticism and hysteria really aren't the answer.
MR. SPEAKER: While she is getting ready, I've looked up the word I was trying to find. It's "obliquity." I think the students in the gallery will appreciate the fact that I can even spell it now.
MS. K. SANFORD (Comox): It's a pleasure to take my place in this debate on what is a fantastic
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budget for the people of the province.
It's been interesting to watch the opposition shift its ground on financial, budget, money matters from the position that it has taken the past few months. You know, the opposition has been critical of the government on the grounds that the government was bringing the province to financial ruin, was overspending and running the province into debt and that capital was fleeing the province. But now, with a $3.2 billion budget and a surplus of $70 million, and an increase in investment of 16 per cent, they're shifting ground; and perhaps, as the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) suggested in his speech the other day, they are also losing ground at the same time.
They're now calling the budget inflationary — this is the shift — and they're calling it irresponsible. Yet at the same time, Mr. Speaker, they're calling for more capital investment in the province to support its needed social programmes. They're being inconsistent. "Irresponsible," they say. Is it irresponsible to provide Mincome, day care, Pharmacare, community recreation facilities, schools, hospitals, help to farmers and on and on? Is that irresponsible? That's what this budget is for. That's what we're doing with that money.
The Leader of the Opposition criticized us for making purchases which didn't create jobs. "Non-job-producing capital investment," he called it. The First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. McGeer) yesterday made the same sort of charges, and I'd like to quote from the Blues as to what he said:
If they take over forest companies, they're merely doing themselves what private industry did before. There are no new jobs, no new production.
The Leader of the Opposition named some of the purchases and investments that we made, this so-called "non-job-providing capital investment." He talked about Panco Poultry, Dunhill, Kootenay Forest Products, and many more. There were some investments of this government that he didn't mention: Can-Cel and Ocean Falls, for example.
I would like to point out to the First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey that we are not merely doing what private industry did, as he suggested, but we're doing something quite different. If we had not acquired an interest in Can-Cel, there would be no jobs at the mill at Prince Rupert because that mill would have been closed down.
MS. SANFORD: If we had not purchased Ocean Falls, there would be no jobs there, nor even a town because the Socreds were prepared to let that town die.
MS. R. BROWN (Vancouver-Burrard): Right on. True, true!
MS. SANFORD: They were already in the process of moving out when this government took office, Mr. Member.
The Leader of the Opposition may not recognize it, but the workers at Kootenay Forest Products do recognize that at a time of the slump in the world market of lumber, they have not been laid off and are still working.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member proceed? Order!
MS. SANFORD: Let's have a look at Panco. This is another one of the firms mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition.
AN HON. MEMBER: Pinko Panco!
MS. SANFORD: That's what he called it.
At Panco, there was a processing plant which processed 60 per cent of the poultry in the province. With that, there was also a feedmill and a hatchery, and there were 13 farms associated with Panco Poultry. A number of those farms weren't even in the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve).
Panco had been trying for over a year to sell that poultry processing plant as a going concern and they had given up. As a last resort they turned to the government and said: "We would like you, within a week, to make a decision about buying Panco Poultry or we will liquidate the assets. and shut down in a week." This is what they said.
MS. BROWN: Shocking, shocking!
MS. SANFORD: There were 433 jobs that would have been lost if we had not moved in. We are providing jobs and we're keeping jobs.
MS. BROWN: Shocking!
MS. SANFORD: What about Dunhill? He suggests that Dunhill is one of those that is not in the process of creating jobs, or is a non-investment designed to create jobs in the province.
The Leader of the Opposition needs new researchers. Dunhill, which now employs 350 people directly and indirectly will employ within six months, directly or indirectly, 1,450 people. That research was not done for the Leader of the Opposition.
He also mentions that this is a "no-home government." He and his researchers have obviously not read the annual report of Dunhill. It's quite clear
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in there the kind of work that's being undertaken in providing homes. I think I would like to review for the record just some of the projects that are being undertaken by the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson) through Dunhill.
Look at the 102 condominium townhouses that are being created at Simon Fraser Hills in Burnaby which will be completed by June of 1975; 16 rental duplexes at Lister Street in Burnaby will be completed by February, 1975. Irmin Street, Burnaby, 6 rental units already completed in 1974; a 102-rental apartment complex on 2nd Street in North Vancouver — completion November, 1975; 4th and Wallace Streets, 200 senior citizens apartment complex — completion in June, 1975.
There is a whole list. All they need to do is look in the annual report of Dunhill to find out that this government is creating homes and that Minister of Housing is getting the job done.
MR. G.H. ANDERSON (Kamloops): Don't confuse them with facts.
MS. SANFORD: One of the topics mentioned in the budget was the completion of the road to the north end of the island. The people of the north island will certainly welcome that news because they have some skepticism as to whether or not the government was actually going to award all of those contracts in order to complete that road. And they should be sceptical, for they have listened for 14 years to empty promises offered to them by that opposition over there.
But the budget does not make any mention during the speech of any special tax or any specific action on land which is now owned by foreign absentee landholders. I'm somewhat concerned about that, although I recognize that there is a decision to be handed down by the federal courts on this. I expect that that decision will be handed down shortly with regard to Prince Edward Island.
The government, during the last session, accepted my amendment to the Land Registry Act which made it mandatory for those who were purchasing land in this province to state what their citizenship was. This was done in an attempt to get an inventory of the sale of land to non-citizens. Many people have expressed concern about the sale of land to absentee foreigners — certainly in my riding they have. Because the government could only guess at how much land was being sold to absentee foreigners, the decision to amend the Land Registry Act was made so that an inventory could be started.
The amendment came into effect on August 1, and an analysis of the date which was collected was undertaken at my request. Those figures are available now and I think they are important, certainly to my constituents.
I recently sent out a questionnaire, and on that questionnaire I asked the following questions: do you agree that absentee foreign ownership of B.C. land should be prohibited? The response to that questionnaire from over 1,000 of my constituents was almost 80 per cent in favour of prohibiting the sale of land to absentee foreigners in this province. Even without knowing how much B.C. land is being purchased by absentee foreigners, nearly 80 per cent of my constituents who returned the questionnaires wanted the sale of land to absentee foreigners to be discontinued.
The analysis which has been undertaken by the Land Registry office on the statistics of non-citizen purchase of land was done for a three-month period from August 1 through to October 1. Presumably all the figures that I have could be multiplied by four to give a picture of what happens in one year.
Because there has been no record of the citizenship of the landowners in the province, these figures necessarily do not show how many sales by foreigners were made to foreigners. We could not determine that. Nor is there a record of the sale of B.C. land by foreigners to Canadians. I would like to make that clear before I give you some of the statistics involved in the sale of land during that three-month period.
I would like to give you some of the figures that have been compiled in the Land Registry Office. This represents the totals of all of the seven Land Registry Offices in the province. During that period of time, August 1 to October 31, there were 35,166 personal declarations registered in the offices. In addition, there were 8,247 corporation declarations listed.
I would like to give you a breakdown during that period of time, as far as absentee foreigner purchase is concerned.
Foreign citizens purchased 663 parcels of land during that period of time, for a percentage of 1.9. In other words, nearly 2 per cent of the sales of land in that three-month period, on personal declarations, were made to non-citizens. Immigrants purchased 4,690 parcels of land, for a percentage of 13.3.
Now you may realize, Mr. Speaker, that I've had no quarrel with landed immigrants purchasing land here in the province, so I don't think that those statistics are particularly significant as far as my interests are concerned.
The matter of corporation declarations was a little more difficult. It's difficult to determine what make a foreign corporation. How do you define it? The only criterion that the land registry office used at this time — and I think that that can be open to a lot of question and criticism — is a corporation which shows one or more of the directors to be foreign citizens. On that basis there were 848 purchases of land, for a percentage of corporation declarations of 10.3.
I would like to turn for a minute to the Victoria
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land registry office alone. We've had a more detailed breakdown from the land registry office on Victoria land registry recording. In the Victoria land registry office, which includes Vancouver Island and some of the Gulf Islands, there were 7,809 personal declarations and 1,411 corporation declarations made. Foreign citizens' personal declarations purchased 128 parcels of land, for a percentage of 1.6. Corporation declarations — showing one or more directors, that is, to be foreign citizens — purchased 169 parcels, for a percentage of 11.7. In the Victoria land registry office the personal purchases of land by absentee foreigners, in total acreage, was 1,334 acres purchased by non-citizens — in the Victoria land registry alone. So out of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, during that three-month period, 1,334 acres were purchased.
Based on the data that we were able to collect in that three-month period, Mr. Speaker, I think a significant number of land sales in this province are made to absentee foreigners, and I certainly look with interest to the supreme court decision on the constitutionality of Prince Edward Island's legislation on the sale of land so that we in British Columbia can begin to take some positive steps regarding the sale of land to foreigners.
MR. N.R. MORRISON (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take my place in the debate. I would like to start by saying that there appears to me to be a special significance in the picture which the Minister of Finance has chosen to place on the cover of the budget speech presented in this House last Friday. It's a delightful picture, a beautiful picture; a picture of two young children romping in the grass — two youngsters living for today without a care for tomorrow. And it's people like these two, the youth of our province, who are the future of our province. It is the youth of our province who have the greatest stake in the destiny of British Columbia, and it is that once unchallenged destiny which is being seriously questioned by British Columbians as a consequence of the policies and programmes of this government.
British Columbians were once known as the Texans of Canada. In all of Canada British Columbia had a special place in the sun — a province with opportunity and a future unequalled anywhere.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Where's your leader?
MR. MORRISON: Since the NDP government came to power in August of 1972, that destiny is now in question. The combination of waste, welfare, incompetence, which has characterized this government, has brought a grey cloud over the future of this province...
HON. W.L. HARTLEY (Minister of Public Works): The sun shines today.
MR. MORRISON: ...a threat which British Columbians, only a few years ago, thought impossible. This budget, presented by the Minister of Finance is the most serious cloud, the blackest storm cloud yet, which hangs over the future, the destiny, of this province.
Referring to the picture again, I think it's interesting that it's a "babes in the woods" picture. It's a picture of two youngsters who don't have a single care about tomorrow, about the future.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Doom and gloom!
MR. MORRISON: That picture is a great cover picture to characterize this budget because it has been written by a Minister of Finance who is a babe in the woods when it comes to responsible operation of government. The thrust of this incredible document by any standard gives no regard to ensuring opportunity and a future for British Columbia.
I want to concentrate my comments on the specifics of this budget on the reverse side of the ledger, the side where the money comes from.
[Mr. Liden in the chair.)
As the leader of my party said so well yesterday, both sides of the ledger in this 1975 budget are subject to serious challenges, but comment about the expenditure side of a budget brought down by the Minister of Finance is hardly an exact science. How could it be with a government which is used to overrunning expenditures by $350 million? With this Minister of Finance there is not even such a thing as a ballpark figure when it comes to spending. More appropriate, the term for this Minister of Finance might be an Esquimalt Harbour figure.
However, on the reverse side, past performance and trend indicators, coupled with the far more exacting standards of a private sector with respect to accounting practice, make it possible to gauge in reasonably accurate terms what this government might take in by way of revenue in the coming year. Revenues of $3.2 billion are big — they are big numbers, a big government.
In this budget, the Minister of Finance plans to spend practically all of the $3.2 billion. He has left no margin for error and no hedge against the possibility that some of the departments of the government might spend a little more than this budget estimates — not a lot more, like 1974; not $350 million, but just a few cents more. The structure of this budget does not permit a red cent of overrun. If the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi) over spends by $1 million — not $100 million like he did, but just $1 million — there'll be trouble.
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On the revenue side, a shortfall on the revenue side of $100 million — and that's a small amount; it's peanuts against the big numbers of this budget — a shortfall of only 3 per cent would mean that for the first time in decades British Columbians would be faced with a deficit budget.
As recently as today, Statistics Canada announced a drop in the gross national product of 1.75 per cent in the last three months of 1974 in Canada, pointing up a shortfall possibility. As I have already emphasized, that deficit could be much larger because of the undisciplined spending of the Minister of Finance and of this government.
The revenue estimates of this Minister of Finance, however, offer a different kind of picture, though no less disturbing. The revenue estimates show the priorities for the Minister of Finance, the leader of the government of British Columbia. I will tell the Hon. Members of this House what those revenue estimates show. They show a Minister of Finance and a government which will not make ends meet unless inflation continues not at a moderating rate but an excessive rate, a rate which all citizens of this province, save the members of this government, deplore. If the rate of inflation decreases, as British Columbians hope it will, this budget won't hold together. The estimates of this budget with respect to revenues are married to inflation in order to be achieved.
Let's look at personal income tax. How can we expect an increase of $182 million on a base of $473 million to be met just by a new wage earner coming on stream in the coming year? That's an increase approaching 40 per cent, and the Minister of Finance has already had his problems with unemployment figures. I am sure he will admit that a 40 per cent increase in the provincial share of income tax won't come through the creation of new employment. Where is the bulk of this increase going to come from? Obviously from inflation. This budget is married by its nature to inflation.
If you had wondered what had happened to our taxes, take a look at page 51 in the budget. Personal income tax returned to the province in 1965 was just over $45 million — $45,723,349 to be exact. In 1970 it was over $190 million — $190,606,209. But the projected increase for personal income tax for 1975-76 is $655 million. That's an increase of over 14 times.
The Minister of Finance, I'm sure, is well informed on the wage demands which can be expected in this coming year when so many of our major unions will be negotiating new contracts. The Minister of Finance recognizes that in the coming 12 months, major unions such as the IWA will ask to keep pace with the cost of living by new demands.
What the Minister of Finance has apparently not been told is that all British Columbians, whether they work in the city or in the forests, want to lick inflation. The only way to do that is to put a strong damper on cost-of-living increases, and only the government can take the lead, by showing stringent restraint.
The saddest part of this budget is that it cannot afford to let it end. It cannot afford to let inflation end. It can only survive by rampant inflation. The government has done nothing to curb its spending. As I have pointed out, with respect to the estimates of revenue from personal income tax, this government is married to a high rate of inflation.
Will the Premier or his Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. King) urge restraint when the IWA sits down at the bargaining table? Will they be able to state that they have taken the lead in curbing spending and therefore persuade our labour unions to do the same? Will they be able to say that restraint in wage settlements will not curb purchasing power because the cost of living will level? No, they won't, because they'll be thinking of that big 40 per cent increase they need from personal income taxes to make this budget balance.
Turning to the other estimates of revenue, there are many which fall under the same category of being married to inflation. In each case where an estimate exceeds the previous year's estimate by more than the normal growth rate of consumption or use, the balance of the difference can be accounted for by inflation.
Let's take a look at the estimates from social services and fuel tax: parimutuel betting services revenue up 37 per cent; social services tax revenue up 47 per cent; gasoline tax revenue up almost 50 per cent. In the case of gasoline taxes, in order to pay for the waste and extravagance of this government at a time when consumers have less and less disposable income, the Minister of Finance has found it necessary to raise gasoline taxes. Not even the forces of inflation this Minister of Finance is counting upon will be enough here; not even the forces of inflation will pick up that slack. Motor fuel tax is up 45 per cent; cigarette and tobacco tax is up 11 per cent; hotel and motel room tax is up 45 per cent.
Even if we take into account the basic shift in the procedure of accounting contained in this budget, even if we eliminate the 25 per cent growth in revenues over estimates, as reflected in the revised estimates for 1974, this budget clearly shows that it will only succeed if double digit inflation continues in our economy. Double digit inflation is the tax which robs the purchasing power of everyone. Do we have to have that in order to make this budget balance?
Look at corporate income tax — up 97 per cent. Corporation capital tax is up 142 per cent. Corporation income tax in 1965 was $40 million; in 1970, it was $86 million; but the projection for 1975-76 is $260 million. Of course, in 1965 and 1970
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there was no corporation capital tax, but for 1975-76 it will produce $17 million.
It's already been pointed out in this House that capital is fleeing the province. Capital projects in the buoyant pulp and paper sector of our forest industry on the books are now only 14 per cent of a similar total for Quebec and Ontario. In British Columbia over half of the softwoods desired for these operations are located here. Small businesses are leaving the province. There have been cutbacks in the capital spending programmes of our forest companies and our mining companies to the extent of $300 million. It almost boggles the mind to consider the number of jobs that could have been created in British Columbia if the capital for investment was here, but instead it's going to Alberta, eastern Canada and the United States. In this climate, the Minister of Finance has decided that now is the time to double the tax on corporation capital.
Property taxes have grown from $8,299,815 in 1960 to $14,166,342 in 1970, and are projected to $23 million for 1975-76. Social services tax: $125 million in 1960; $205 million plus in 1970; and an estimate of $480 million in 1975-76.
The frustrating thing is that municipalities are still going to be supporting education through property taxes.
This government has said that they were going to move education costs away from the mill rate base. True, they are doubling the rebate, but this is still a long way from removing the education costs from the property tax and will not nearly keep up with the soaring costs of education placed on the shoulders of the municipalities.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
The assessment base is frozen for another year at 50 per cent of the 1973 assessment. Therefore the municipalities have no choice but to raise the mill rate in order to increase their revenue. Municipal increases of 10 mills are talked of as minimum increases in many municipalities. What will many of these do who are almost at the 5 mill maximum limit? Obviously they will apply for special arrangements to exceed that limit, and the municipalities will be blamed for the tax increase instead of the provincial government. Very cute, Mr. Minister of Finance.
And there is the pie-in-the-sky promise to share the gas revenue increases. Perhaps the most remarkable statement contained in this budget's estimate of revenue is the almost 200 per cent increase projected for petroleum and natural gas royalties. Let's take a look at all the "ifs" contained in this figure. What if the federal government does not approve of the $1.93 export tax? In the style of the Arabian blackmailers, what if our major customer, the United States, curtails its buying, as it has so successfully done with respect to oil purchases? What if consumers, who are the big buyers of natural gas, switch to other less expensive fuels, as many of them in the United States are equipped to do? What if anti-pollution legislation in the United States is rolled back, as it is suggested will be done, and low-cost fuels such as coal are used? If, if, if. We are talking about $150 million increase in revenues which are all "ifs."
Certainly all British Columbians support the principle of a fair and a premium price for natural gas. But that is no guarantee that these estimates can be met. If, as a consequence of the extreme pricing policies of this Minister of Finance, the Government of British Columbia finds itself in the position which the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is now in, financial chaos will be the consequence of this budget. As Members of this House well know, the OPEC countries hiked prices to astronomical rates over the last 18 months, and for a brief period they looked like they would own the world. Now, with stringency and restraint, consumption is falling rapidly for oil. Storage facilities are full to capacity, and rumours of financial problems circulate around the Arabian oil-producing countries.
[Mr. Rolston in the chair.]
Is that the type of poker game this Minister of Finance wants to play? Does he prefer the international grandstand to a reasoned approach to government as well as producers? The type of increase that this Minister of Finance talks about hardly falls within reasonable limits.
It is interesting to note that while the Premier and Minister of Finance is doing his grandstanding along with the Arabs and telling British Columbians that his government is committed to a greater share of resource revenue going back to British Columbians, the contrary is true. Resource revenues, as a percentage of total revenues, will decrease in this budget, to be replaced by increased revenues from taxation — money that comes out of the pockets of British Columbians rather than out of the ground. It's right there.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Where's the increase?
MR. MORRISON: I took note yesterday of the comments of the Hon. Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) on election reform. Though they were somewhat roundabout and seemed concerned with ensuring financial support out of the public purse for his personal party, they sounded Re support for election reform. Since it is possible that election
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reform could mean a change in the provincial Treasury, I think it is appropriate to make a brief comment on it.
Electoral reform is a very good concept. It is clear, both from events in this country and others, that in an affluent society such as ours new approaches to ensure that the people's choice in elections be clearly heard must now be taken. My party is of the opinion that electoral reform in British Columbia must be undertaken now, and we look forward to the opportunity to evaluate the legislation which we are told the government plans to bring forward during this session. We hope that it will be strong and clear and not a toothless public relations Act like the disclosures Act which is not a statute of this province.
I am pleased to inform Mr. Speaker and Members of this House that the membership in my party has grown rapidly over the last two years. At this time I feel confident in saying that whenever an election comes — and the sooner the better — the British Columbia Social Credit Party will be able to finance its election campaign directly through its membership.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. MORRISON: Directly through its membership, through the membership fee, and possibly by a very small assessment — perhaps $3 to $5 per member.
AN HON. MEMBER: Living in the past.
MR. MORRISON: The British Columbia Social Credit Party supports electoral reform; and I believe that British Columbians support political parties that seek to improve the opportunity of citizens to take intelligent direct political action. The days when political parties could be servant to special interest groups are gone — whether big business, big labour or big government advocates. The special interest groups must never have a special position in our system of government.
HON. MR. COCKE: Where were you for 20 years?
MR. MORRISON: We look forward to legislation which will ensure that each voter, as a citizen of this province, will have an equal share in determining British Columbia's leadership and priorities. We look forward to supporting the electoral reform legislation which will honestly improve our citizens' right to directly participate in government.
HON. R.M. STRACHAN (Minister of Transport and Communications): Go back and read that again.
MRS. D. WEBSTER (Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, I'm very happy to take part in this debate.
First of all, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Finance for a very fine people's budget.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MRS. WEBSTER: The needs of people have to be met; and no matter what the opposition says in regard to big business, big business is not suffering. It's not suffering. Believe me, it looks after itself pretty well.
I was rather amused yesterday and enjoyed the speech by the First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. McGeer). He's always sort of light-hearted in his replies to the budget. He has a very interesting style, and he goes through his yearly gambit of presenting the shadow budget, as he calls it, for the Liberal Party.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: It's a shadow party.
MRS. WEBSTER: But he reminds me of Peter Pan — he never wanted to change, never wants to change. Yesterday he wasn't quite in his usual form. Other years he has always said "woe" and "distress" and "not nearly enough money for education." What did he say yesterday? He wanted a reduction of $38 million from the Education budget.
MR. G.B. GARDOM (Vancouver–Point Grey): Be flexible.
MRS. WEBSTER: Oh, he certainly is flexible, but I'm sure that he hasn't talked to teachers or school boards or parents, and it's obvious that he doesn't know what's happening in Vancouver schools.
HON. P.F. YOUNG (Minister of Consumer Services): Or what's happening in Vancouver.
MRS. WEBSTER: I'm most anxious to enter this debate because I would like to speak about the situation in education in British Columbia, which is reaching, particularly in Vancouver, into a real crisis. I am referring, to put it simply, to the very rapid influx of non-English-speaking immigrants into British Columbia, most of whom have settled in Vancouver. The problem it creates for the school system is absolutely mind-boggling.
Before I continue, let me say that we heartily welcome these new Canadians. We hope they will be happy in this new land, particularly after they have made their initial adjustment.
Most of our parents or grandparents were immigrants. They found the first few years frustrating and sometimes heartbreakingly lonesome, I'm sure. But with their wonderful spirit, which they carried
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down to their children and grandchildren, they developed and cultivated this nation, giving it a vigour that is evident in every aspect of Canadian life today. I personally know what it was like to begin school without having the facility of English, Mr. Speaker, because we spoke Dutch. It took a great deal of courage and determination on the part of my parents to make the decision to speak English at home, difficult as it was for them to articulate in a language in which they were not too familiar.
That is the problem that's facing many of these immigrants today. But some of the more recent ones have greater difficulty because they know no English at all.
Last fall, after school opening, I visited about half of the 27 schools in my constituency of Vancouver South in a general, informal way. I have tried to keep in close touch with the schools because I am interested in what is happening in the educational processes in this province, and particularly what is happening in my own riding. I am absolutely surprised at the changes that have taken place in the short time since our party came into power.
Wherever I went last fall the teachers on the whole seemed fairly pleased with the pupil/teacher ratio. Also, I am constantly intrigued with the changes which are taking place in the alternate methods of teaching to suit students with different backgrounds, abilities and needs. But I am simply astounded at the tremendous increase in the immigrant student population in Vancouver.
For example, let me take Sexsmith Elementary School, which is one of the elementary schools in my riding. It has changed so much that now approximately one-third of the students are new Chinese immigrants. Another one-third are East Indian or Ugandan East Indian. The other one-third are Canadians or immigrants of European background. That same situation exists in other schools in that southeast section of Vancouver.
For instance, in Moberly School Annex, if I take that as a token example, in one primary classroom that I went into, out of 23 students only four speak English at home. The remainder have their first language as German, Finnish, Portuguese, Italian, Ugandan and Chinese, and five spoke no English at all. I particularly asked the teacher to ask them because I wanted to know what their background was.
But now let me go back to Sexsmith school to illustrate another point. To attempt to bring the immigrant children and their parents into the Canadian family more quickly, the Vancouver school board has undertaken to make Sexsmith into a community school. In this way, there is access to the school in late afternoon and evening for classes for the parents to participate in, or for them to participate in community programmes. The evening and late afternoon programme is very popular and is well used by families with western cultural backgrounds and by the East Indian Canadians. To help these East Indians to adjust to the community school programme, some fine East Indian women have been enlisted to act as consultants and teacher aides.
But there is a great difficulty penetrating the Chinese community. This is an entirely new Chinese community, separated entirely from the one that is in the core of the city. Because of this it is naturally very close knit. Because of language and cultural differences from the people surrounding them, I'm sure that this whole experience of living in a new land and in a culture which is foreign to them is a frightening experience. So naturally they tend to cling together. I understand that the northeast sector of Vancouver is very much the same; it has the same type of problems. Some of the national groups are different. For instance, there is a concentration of Italians, of Japanese and of native Indians added to the cultural mix that we have in Vancouver South.
Here are some of the basic problems: (1) Learning to communicate in English; (2) Understanding our basic culture, which is in evidence in every aspect of British Columbia life in the schools; (3) Because of the current housing shortage, many of these people live in overcrowded, depressing conditions.
If these are the problems of the various cultural groups among our newer immigrants, you may well imagine the emergency situation this has created for our schools and for the teaching staff.
I would like to pay my respects to the dedication of all the teachers who are a very fine group — as fine a group of teachers as you can find anywhere. These teachers find themselves faced with the overwhelming problem of spending most of their time teaching immigrant children to verbalize in English, let alone think in English. It slows down their regular classwork and, as they have to spend much more time with the non-English speaking students than the others, they tend to neglect the others from time to time. In elementary school grades this is a very serious situation. In high school it is often the beginning of delinquency problems due to boredom and misunderstanding.
Last night in The Vancouver Sun the president of the Templeton Home and School Association, a Mrs. Olivieri wrote a letter in which she complained about this very situation.
"The point is that not only are special children being
deprived of equal opportunity but so are our
She ends her letter by saying:
"All students — whether they be immigrants, the average Canadian-born or students with special needs — must have an equal opportunity to a good education. I would urge concerned
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parents to pressure all levels of government to act on this crisis immediately."
A Department of Education research survey shows that in 1973-74, Vancouver received approximately half of the 1,400 non-English immigrant students that came to B.C. In that school year alone. Many had already settled in Vancouver in the two previous years. Also, many had settled in other areas of the province but did not take long to make their way into the Vancouver area to be able to be with their own ethnic or racial group.
The Vancouver school board set up special classes to equip these children to enter the regular classes. Children nine years of age and over are given one year of instruction in English. At present, these classes can accommodate about 900 students, which is approximately 64 per cent of those who need English instruction.
In Vancouver elementary schools about 13,000 students — about 34 per cent of the enrolment — list English as their second language. In the secondary schools 6,000 students — or over 20 per cent — have English as their second language. Principals report that 1,860 elementary school children cannot read English, or can only read those exercises that have been drilled orally, and 1,780 cannot write English script but can only copy.
I think that's a disastrous situation. When I say that this is a disastrous situation or a critical situation, I mean it's really a calamity, Mr. Speaker.
I must appeal to the Department of Education, to the Minister, and to the Minister of Finance to give special consideration for supplementary grants to the Vancouver school system to assist them in this impossible situation which has so suddenly been thrust upon them.
In making this request I would like to remind this assembly that the problem should rightfully be placed in the lap of the federal government. I think that is something that the First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. McGeer) forgot about yesterday when he said there should be a reduction in the amount of money going towards education.
Ever since Confederation, in accordance with the BNA Act, education has been the responsibility of the provinces. That Act was written when Canada was young and had a mainly rural population. The west had not yet been joined to the eastern provinces. Also, the church had a much greater say in the life of the community, particularly in the field of education. But over the intervening years the federal government has been involved in education in many areas, and I would like to list them.
Universities. It now provides grants to public universities. In fact, some of the Catholic universities, such as University of Montreal and University of Ottawa, during the last 10 or 15 years have gone public, retaining control of their religious schools separate from the main university in order to qualify for the grant.
Armed Services personnel. Young people going into the armed services can receive their university education or their trades training while they are in the services.
Children of service personnel. The federal government takes full responsibility for the education of children of service personnel who are serving overseas. For example, the NATO forces in Germany.
Native Indians and Eskimos. Their education on the reserves or in integrated schools is funded by federal moneys.
Bilingual education. Hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money is being spent to make the federal civil service bilingual. Also, federal grants are made to the provinces to promote French schooling in districts throughout Canada where there is sufficient Francophone population to make it viable. Grants are also given to provincial education departments for the teaching of French as a second language.
In Vancouver South there is one such school devoted entirely to bilingualism from kindergarten to grade 2. It started off as kindergarten; the following year it was kindergarten and grade 1; this year kindergarten and grade 2. It will progress next year. Of approximately 200 pupils in that school, less than 10 per cent are from French backgrounds.
Immigrant classes. On a basis of cost-sharing with the provinces, the federal government provides language training for adult immigrants not destined for the labour force.
Through Manpower and Immigration funding is provided for training or retraining in the trades, but the federal government does not provide for the language needs of immigrant students.
Mr. Speaker, a committee of teachers from Lord Strathcona Elementary School wrote to the Minister of Manpower and Immigration (Hon. Mr. Andras) in regard to the problems they have in that particular area, and this is the answer that came back from the departmental assistant. I'll quote one or two paragraphs. It says:
'' As you perhaps know, the federal/provincial language-training agreements provide on a cost-sharing basis a mechanism for the province to take agreed-upon action in the field of language training for adults not destined for the labour force. Unfortunately, perhaps, this agreement does not provide for the immigrant students' language needs, because these are seen as the prerogative of the provincial government school system. But it could conceivably be that the medium through which services seen by teachers as imperative for the growth and development of immigrant students might be negotiated."
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Might be. But they haven't been able to do anything definite about this yet.
"In this way your recommendation might be partially or wholly met."
In another paragraph he says:
"Under the Canada Manpower training programme the Department of Manpower and Immigration provides training which will help workers to improve their employment prospects. For new Canadians, acquiring fluency in English or French is often essential if they are to use their existing job skills. The department therefore offers language training to many adult immigrants."
But nothing, Mr. Speaker, for the immigrant student.
I suggest that this is a very serious weakness in the whole federal-provincial arrangement regarding education. Certainly I am not against the promotion of the French language in British Columbia to weld our two basic Canadian cultures together through mutual understanding. But surely the federal Department of Immigration should be equally sensitive to the needs of all of our immigrant population, and this should include the students.
I say, Mr. Speaker, that the federal government is placing a next-to-impossible burden on the school systems of our three largest urban areas in Canada, which have most of the non-English-speaking immigrants thrust upon them. It is high time that we had federal/provincial conferences on education, such as we have in other departments, to solve this very knotty problem. It is incumbent on all of us in British Columbia to bring pressure to bear on the federal government.
However, Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, I would urge the provincial government to give supplementary assistance to the Vancouver school board to help them overcome this almost impossible dilemma with which they are faced.
MR. C. D'ARCY (Rossland-Trail): I would like to express to the chamber and this House just how impressed I am with the budget, not because of what is contained by itself in the budget, though that is quite impressive enough, but because it would have been impossible to produce such a work if it were not to indicate the underlying solidarity and strength of the British Columbia economy.
This is a strength which is based on our natural resources, our people resources, the ingenuity and innovation of our working people and our business people. In fact, I may be prejudiced, but I believe that British Columbians are some of the most innovative and ingenious people to be found anywhere in the world.
I think there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from the general public towards where we are going. When I say "we," I mean as a province, as British Columbia, not as a government or political party.
While the rest of the North American economy is in a recession — and indeed all of the western world — we have had and are looking forward to a real growth of 3 per cent. This is in the face of a national decline in the last quarter of 1974.
I've been rather interested, Mr. Speaker, in some of the comments from some of the opposition spokesmen on the budget and on the state of the economy in British Columbia.
The Liberals, for instance, would have had us stay out of Can-Cel, both at the time the bill came in and today. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that would have been a serious loss to the economy of British Columbia if the government in fact had followed that path. Of course, Can-Cel has been a success. But I don't think they were a success because of luck or because of any magic formula. Can-Cel has been a success because investment decisions relative to that corporation, and management and corporate decisions, have been made completely independent of any political meddling by B.C. Cellulose or the Province of B.C. Those business decisions were based on hard-nosed criteria, a very careful inventory of species that were available in the tree farm licences and of world market conditions. I would suggest to everyone here that good business management is good business management, and it's a winner every time. It doesn't matter whether you're in the private sector or the public sector.
I would hope that other jurisdictions in Canada, the federal government and the provinces, could emulate a basic principle here. I think that one of the major reasons public enterprises in Canada in the past and present in other jurisdictions have not been terribly successful in a business sense is because there has been political meddling, and there has been business interference on purely political grounds and, in fact, generally incompetent business management.
I am also rather interested in some of the changes in the budget that have been suggested by the Social Credit Party and by the Liberal Party. Now the Social Credit Party, I thought, with its last convention had kind of abandoned the funny-money stuff. Yet I thought, when I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) yesterday, that perhaps they were back into it.
They suggested that we were killing the economy in the natural resource sector by high taxation. At the same time, they were very critical of the government because of a cut-down in the percentage of revenue going to Health, Education and welfare. I would suggest to everyone that you can't have it both ways: you can't keep the percentages up in every department and at the same time slash income from this resource-rich province.
I was rather interested in the Liberal attempt at
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rebuttal. The First Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. McGeer) in his statement was at least consistent. He didn't suggest that we cut revenue without cutting spending; he was consistent in that he suggested we cut spending. But where did he ask that we cut the spending? One of his major cuts was in the Human Resources department. I think that the people of this province, certainly many people in my constituency, are going to be very interested to know that the Liberal Party thinks we should chop down our spending on day care, for instance.
Now day care isn't just a word. Day care is something which assists a great many citizens — single parents of my acquaintance — to work, to be employed, to be what they themselves consider to be useful citizens, and still be good parents; whereas they would never be able to do it otherwise. But the Liberal Party doesn't agree with that. There are a great many handicap programmes and handicap societies that are very active in this province. Apparently they would be cut back, too.
The Mincome programme: I would assume that some of this $90 million-odd which is going to be cut from the Human Resources budget by the Liberals...that would be cut back, too. I am sure there are a great many senior citizens and handicapped persons in this province who would be very interested in that news.
The Pharmacare programme: the Pharmacare programme is rather interesting because in many respects, or in one major respect, it's kind of out of character for the usual kind of social programme instituted by socialist-oriented governments. Pharmacare has absolutely nothing to do with a person's position in society, has nothing to do with their personal holdings, has nothing to do with their personal income. Even J.V. Clyne is eligible for Pharmacare. Everybody, when they're aged 65, can get Pharmacare. I would assume that perhaps the Liberal Party doesn't agree with this principle either.
The retraining and rehabilitation programmes of all sorts, for some of which I must give credit where they started — under the previous administration — they've certainly been carried through, the positive programmes to help people help themselves to get back into the labour force when, for no fault of their own, they find themselves temporarily unable to earn a living. Of course, when people get back into the work force or the professional force, it not only is a saving to the budget of British Columbia but it also, of course, produces productivity and revenue for the province.
There were some major cuts proposed in the Provincial Secretary's budget too. Of course, we know that the Provincial Secretary does what in the larger scheme of things might seem to be a number of little things. I would like to know exactly what was proposed to be cut from the Provincial Secretary's department.
We in the West Kootenays — not just in the West Kootenays, but all of the Kootenays — are in the process of kicking off a regional library system. I think libraries are very important. On a regional basis they cost money, but certainly they are of benefit to many people, especially in the smaller communities or in the rural areas, who have no access to libraries at all and yet are taxed at the same rate as all of the rest of us. Would we slash that programme?
What about the cultural and sports grants of all sorts that come through the Provincial Secretary's department? It's rather interesting that this should be suggested by one of the Members for Vancouver–Point Grey, because when I deal with elected presidents of swimming societies on a provincial basis, I find that they often have Vancouver–Point Grey addresses. Perhaps the Members over there know something about these people that I don't. I don't know.
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
There has been something said about taxes in general in British Columbia. I'd like to talk just briefly about property taxes, because certainly property taxes would appear to be going up in British Columbia in 1975. I'm not talking about assessments or mill rates by themselves; I'm talking about the figure in the lower right-hand corner, which is what people actually pay.
If one listened entirely to the opposition, one could get the feeling that British Columbia was unique in Canada insofar as nearly every community and every real-property owner was facing increased property taxes. But there is a small headline in the Financial Post of March 1, 1975, which says: "Property Taxes are Rising 10 to 25 Per Cent from Bonavista to Vancouver." They quote the usual increases which are common in B.C.: 15 to 20 per cent education; 30 to 40 per cent repairs; fuel 20 per cent; labour 15 to 20 per cent, and so forth, Also rather interesting, Mr. Speaker, is that they say that there are only two provinces in Canada that have planned increased assistance to municipal governments. One is Alberta and one is British Columbia. It's rather interesting that the Province of Alberta is going into an election this year. I wouldn't want to draw any inferences, but it's rather common in political life in Canada, regardless of what party's in office, to increase assistance of this nature when you're going into an election year. But as somebody said before me in this House, sometimes goodies come out every year, not just in election year, and in British Columbia we're getting some goodies for the municipalities this year.
I also note here that the predicted increase across Canada — and this is a federal statistic — is around
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$50 to $70 per household. We have already heard in the budget that there will perhaps be a $40 increase available per household in the Province of British Columbia, which I would suggest takes up the major part of the average increase in taxation. All across Canada we see, so far at least, Liberal, Conservative and even New Democratic governments on the eastern prairies allowing all of this increase to fall on the homeowner, the farm owner and the owner of business and commercial property and industrial property.
There have been statements in and out of the House, not just by the opposition, but by those in British Columbia who oppose the policies of the present government, which is fair game, that investment capital is fleeing the province. In fact, I think that expression was used at least once yesterday in debate. Well, Mr. Speaker, the statistics on capital investment in British Columbia between 1964 and 1972, which was the year this government came into office, averaged a $220 million increase in capital spending per year in British Columbia. So what has happened to that risk capital that supposedly has been fleeing the province since the present government came in and destroyed business confidence? Investors in this province in 1973 increased their investments — not by $220 million, but by $600 million. Of course, some people might say: "Ah, but they really didn't know what you guys were all about then." But they really found out what we're all about, and in 1974 they increased their investments by $800 million, a full $800 million, a full 33.3 per cent increase over the previous year.
That's a two-year average of $700 million more per year, which is somewhat more than 350 per cent increase over what private investors were putting into this province before this government came into office. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that that is a tremendous amount of confidence in the Province of British Columbia.
So when the opposition says that they speak for the private sector and for people with risk capital to invest, they rather lack credibility as far as this particular Member is concerned in any event.
I would note also that economic surveys for 1975 and questionnaires indicate that we will see another $700 million increase in 1975 in private spending in British Columbia. Now, knowing that business people, by and large, are very prudent, very conservative in their outlook — which is correct, after all — and that most questionnaires on the predicted future of the British Columbia economy come back five or 10 per cent light, always, we can assume that investment in British Columbia will exceed the $700 million predicted increase.
I would suggest that we will probably go, in 1975, from total capital investment of $5.1 billion last year to possibly as high as $6 billion in 1975. At the same time, as has been pointed out, our per capita income in British Columbia, for the first time, is now the highest in Canada.
In closing off, I would like to speak, I think, as a British Columbian because I expect the opposition to do their job and attack the government on its policies when they disagree, attack it on philosophical grounds. It is fair game to point out what they feel are alleged administrative failures as well. But I would suggest that one of the most important things in this province is the confidence that we have in our economy, in our business people, in our workers, in our students, and in our old people.
I personally, as a British Columbian, do not appreciate people who go around this province, in or out of this chamber, decrying British Columbia's future. Before I was elected and this government was elected, I had always been very proud of my province, even when I disagreed wholeheartedly with the government. I feel we have a glorious province here. It is full of wonderful people and it is full of bounteous resources.
It may have happened, but I don't recall, opposition people in the past speaking against this province and its future. It may have happened. I don't recall, opposition people in the past speaking against this province and its future. It may have happened. I don't recall. But, I know it has been a steady stream of vitriol over the past 18 months from the opposition benches and from spokesmen for their point of view. We had what I felt was the absurdity, in my region, in the Kootenays, of having two people come in and make speeches in recent months about the terrible state of the British Columbia economy and the terrible future.
One was Mr. Hamilton, whom I had thought of as an eminent Canadian of the Employers' Council up to that point. The other was a senior official of the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce. I say "absurdity" because, in the West Kootenays, we are presently going through an economic boom. It is an economic boom which is not based on economic spending. It is an economic boom based on private spending. It is the first boom we have had in the west Kootenays since before World War I, in 60 years.
To have people come in from coastal British Columbia and tell us about how bad things are really did riot go over very well with me, nor did it go over very well with many of the business people and professional people in our communities in the west Kootenays. Maybe they think we are just dumb hicks up there, but I would like to let them and this chamber know, that we most certainly are not.
I believe very strongly in this province. I don't expect the opposition to be loyal to the government, but I do expect them to be loyal to the people of British Columbia in their utterances and not destroy
[ Page 336 ]
our confidence in ourselves which people out there know they have.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place, if only to annoy the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. Gardom).
I know that earlier, British Columbia had a special place in the sun, something like Texas. That was the description. That was our special place in the sun. Do you know, I think that was apropos coming from that Member over there because, Mr. Speaker, if there is any place in the world that has been taken to the cleaners by the robber barons of North America — the Rockefellers and the works — it has been Texas.
Those oil companies, those beautiful citizens have been quite a contributor to Texas. But you know, it filters through the business world.
I was in the insurance business — I was in the life insurance business at one time, as many of you know. Texas — notwithstanding Alberta, which is almost in that class in the insurance business — was the laughing stock of North America because of the way they could get away with virtually anything they wanted to in that state, and unfortunately to some extent up until not too long ago, in the Province of Alberta.
If there has been a change that has changed our position as a province from one where we could be compared with Texas, I'm sure that change cannot be anything but for the better.
No, Mr. Speaker, I'm glad that our special place in the sun was also compared to those innocents that were on the front of the budget. That Member, poor fellow, misunderstands this government's direction, misunderstands this government's feelings toward people. That's a very fine picture, because it shows the concern over the young people who will ultimately inherit this province. Hopefully, this government will stay in power so there will be a province left for them to inherit.
AN HON. MEMBER: The kiss of death.
HON. MR. COCKE: The Province of British Columbia has a responsible kind of budget in that it reflects much more closely...nobody can tell you to the last dollar either what expenditures or income is going to be, but they can be close. This time for a first, it's close. I think that to describe "the black stormclouds that are on the horizon," talking in terms of "an incredible document"...sometime read this document, Mr. Speaker. Sometime read the estimates. Where is that money going, Mr. Speaker?
"Spendthrift," they call it. "Welfare," they call it. They don't take time to break that budget down and to learn to understand that the direction is a people direction, and it's been long overdue.
We're charged with the responsibility for creating inflation — double-digit, yet.
HON. MR. COCKE: I wasn't talking to the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) but I will endeavour in short order to speak to him.
This double-digit inflation: even our federal government, even the United States of America with all its power and prestige haven't the ability to control inflation. That opposition over there, who helped create a great deal of the groundwork, along with the rest of the world that has been so interested in serving the better interests of those large corporate giants, they've set the stage for this inflation that we're enjoying. We have to reflect that inflation in our budget. We don't like it any better than the next guy, but not to reflect it is unfortunate.
Because of our time limitations, you can pass a message to that Member that he can get into the pool a little earlier tonight.
[Mr. Dent in the chair.]
Our growth has been excellent in spite of recession — excellent. I outlined some of the things that happened in 1960-61 a little while ago, and what the government of that time's response was.
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): Let's get up to date. This is 1975.
HON. MR. COCKE: I'll say this, Mr. Speaker. There is no way that we could have maintained the relatively high, in spite of recession, rate of employment if it had not been for an aggressive government with a great feeling for people and a responsibility towards those people.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
HON. MR. COCKE: I won't go through the jobs we've saved — you know them better than I do. And, Mr. Speaker, there are many, many jobs that have been created because of a generous government, a government that has thought of the needs of our old people, our elderly citizens.
Millions of dollars in Mincome that wouldn't have been there otherwise: don't let them kid you about their old income supplement that used to be the order of the day with 9,000 people in this province collecting it instead of well over 110,000 collecting it. That money has been made available so that these people can look after their needs. In looking after their needs, the corner-storekeeper is better off. He's able to employ people and so are all the other small businesses in the province as a result of a far-sighted government.
[ Page 337 ]
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!
HON. MR. COCKE: So, Mr. Speaker, once in a while a gem comes from across the way. This gem was that Member for Victoria (Mr. Morrison) saying that the B.C. Socreds will be and are financed by their membership. Well, well, well, Alice in Wonderland, and here is Wonderland. Here is that beautiful seagull flitting around, telling everybody all sorts of funny little anecdotes.
Mr. Speaker, this is what's going to finance them — what financed this little document. What financed this to the tune of $200,000? Those little $5 memberships or whatever? Oh, Mr. Speaker, oh yes. There it is. It's too hot to handle. Those are the little people who are going to put it all together.
Well, do you know where those little people are? I'll tell you where those little people are. They are looking very carefully at that old party that let them down, and they're also looking very carefully that for once in their lives there's now a party in this side of the House that cares about them and their needs.
Who are the little people that I've heard of who come out in support of that party over there? J.V. Clyne. Robert Bonner. I hear the mining companies championing their cause. All these little people! Oil companies from Texas. Remember Texas. Texas has the place in the sun — the most ripped-off state in the United States of America, and until recently that was our place in the sun. So much for that.
I want to spend a few moments....
AN HON. MEMBER: The Socred's education fund. Who is back into that now?
HON. MR. COCKE: Gunderson.
HON. MR. COCKE: You, Frank? Frank, you're too honest for that job.
I would like to talk for a few moments about intermediate care. I'm just as interested in it as the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace), and naturally he's concerned. We, however, have a bit of a hangup, and doctors are particularly hungup in the case of any kind of care. This is no slur because I have had all those kind of hang-ups as well as you have. But the fact of the matter is that we think in terms of institutional care when we think of chronic care.
I have said so many times that it is absolutely imperative that we develop a home-care programme way ahead of developing a fully funded intermediate-care programme. But just let's look at what we are doing now coming from virtually zilch, virtually nothing.
The medical side alone — that is the nursing side alone of home care — now is $6.25 million. Naturally,you want us to be prudent. Most of the intermediate-care payments are being made out of the Department of Human Resources. Incidentally, every time anybody refers to that department they talk about welfare. How would you like to cancel $44 million out of that department's vote, because that's precisely where it is going? It's for this kind of care: homemakers; centres for the handicapped; senior day care; and adult care. These are the areas of intermediate care which have come from something like zilch to $50 million ploughed into that area. The Member for Oak Bay uses figures which are just a little bit lower.
We feel that the total system for intermediate care in the province is going to be something close to $100 million to develop the whole system. The problem is that you don't develop all those facilities overnight.
So, Mr. Speaker, we have those concerns; we're working on those concerns. But let's face it, we've only been a government for two and a half years. There will be wisdom at the polls next time to see to it that we can get the job finished, completed and done.
MR. GARDOM: He's not as good as Capozzi was.
HON. MR. BARRETT: With a little bit of luck he'll be a judge by then.
HON. MR. COCKE: During the last year we have been busy in the Department of Health. One of the things that has gone on without very much notice has been the amalgamation of the health-care carriers — the medicare carriers. In the course of just over a year, we will have moved 700,000 subscribers to the unified programme. The carriers will be completely amalgamated by July of this year. I won't stand here and tell you it's gone without a hitch; it's very, very difficult. Remember that the majority of the subscribers were in MSA and CU&C.
So it's been a big job, but I certainly want to take this opportunity of congratulating those people in my department who worked so diligently and did a fine job. Ultimately, we will all win. We will all have this one thing going for us and that is that we will have a reduced cost. But more than that, Mr. Speaker, we will have a much more manageable vehicle. It can be much closer to the people and I think that's important.
Other things occur in health from time to time. We all remember that there was a great deal of debate over the last number of years about what was going to happen to teaching — and I'm talking in terms of clinical teaching — in the Province of British Columbia. I note today that The Province came out with an editorial. I don't know whether it was one of their Texas editorial writers but it sure looks like one. He gives some very fine direction. He says, for
[ Page 338 ]
example, that the Shaughnessy development came out of the "euphoric dreams" of the provincial government.
It's unfortunate that he should use those kinds of phrases. It's unfortunate because of the fact that the writer hardly remembers the neglect and he hardly remembers the fact that B.C., from the standpoint of its referral facilities, is behind the rest of Canada — even the Maritimes, if you can believe it. And it was shocking. What did all the people in the province ask? They asked that a government give some leadership. And the kind of leadership we gave, and that this editorial writer is asking for, was rational leadership. We established a vehicle. We didn't feel it was right that all of the decision-making should come from the Department of Health. We felt that there should be a community input. We felt that there should be a vehicle within the community.
And who do you find on that resource, on the BCMC? That's precisely who you find — highly respected community leaders, members from all the different hospitals that are associated with the BCMC, their appointees. That's precisely what we find on the BCMC. Naturally there is going to be criticism of the medical centre. Naturally there is going to be concern. But you know what started all that trouble in Vancouver recently with all of the neighbours from the Shaughnessy area — some, I must confess, a little avaricious in their motive, but others justifiably concerned. But they looked at a conceptual plan, not really understanding what a conceptual plan was — merely an artist's concept of what could happen, certainly nothing to do with what was going to happen definitively.
So, Mr. Speaker, appreciating and respecting the autonomy that must be developed — and I'm going to talk about that in a minute if you guys will just hold tight, fasten your seat belts.
HON. MR. COCKE: Oh, no. He won't show up — he hasn't been here for days. He drops in once in awhile.
AN HON. MEMBER: How can you tell when he's here?
HON. MR. COCKE: He couldn't find a page boy so he brought the note in himself.
We naturally have to apply brakes to a situation like that
which was going on, but those brakes really are merely a
working together of the groups that want to get the kind of
facility that's needed for this province. The facility will
still include St. Paul's — there's major development going on at
St. Paul's Hospital. There's major development going on at the
Vancouver General, a first-class — first time,
incidentally — emergency centre for the great City of Vancouver.
There is a need for more facilities, and that need has to be met by the Shaughnessy site. What do we need out there? The BCMC priorities are as follows: first, a children's facility. Mr. Speaker, if anyone here wants to stand up in this House and say we don't need a children's facility, a teaching facility for children, I would like him to put his representation forward very quickly, because this province has never had a decent children's facility. No way.
Mr. Speaker, adjacent to — and this is important — adjacent to a children's facility must be our high-risk maternity. It must be there. If it's not there, then what happens when that mother delivers a child that absolutely needs to go immediately next door into that facility? As a matter of fact, that will be one complex; it's not going to be a number of buildings. It will be one complex.
Then, next on the priority list will be cancer service for the province. The cancer agency will be headquartered there, and that's, as I say, the next priority.
So, what's going on out there is not a dense concept. It's a concept that had input from the medical profession, and so much. It was very much appreciated — a great deal of input. We had input from industrialists; we had input from people in the community; we had input from education. And, Mr. Speaker, as far as I'm concerned, the kind of work that Jack Christiansen is doing, and his group — completely gratuitous — is work that this province will appreciate for years and years to come. I congratulate them on the work they're doing.
Mr. Speaker, the Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) talks about the university when he doesn't recognize the fact that the great criticism that came from the university and from their eastern colleagues when they were out here looking at the viability for the future was on the clinical facilities. That's precisely what's going on.
HON. MR. COCKE: Well, that's elementary. The medical centre is the clinical teaching facility for the Province of B.C., for those of you who haven't heard many, many times before.
Mr. Speaker, our instant expert — who is seldom in the House — on hospital construction is out writing a note to Dan. He's charging that there were not enough new beds on stream in the past two years. Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) that he had better hang his head in shame.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Send him a message; he's never around anyway.
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HON. MR. COCKE: Your party and its leadership put us so far behind, and that's precisely why we are in the position where we are now. You don't plan and build hospitals in a day, Mr. Speaker.
HON. MR. COCKE: Oh, listen! We'll acknowledge that the Socreds built many simple community hospitals.
HON. G.R. LEA (Minister of Highways): What else did they build?
HON. MR. COCKE: That's right. They were quick. But they neglected the major costly referral hospitals, with the possible exception of Kelowna.
Mr. Speaker, I want you to ask any of the people who live in the urban centres of British Columbia: what do you think of the referral hospitals in your area? How long was Trail neglected? How long was Prince George neglected? How long was Kamloops neglected? Victoria? Vancouver? New Westminster? And do I have to go on, Mr. Speaker?
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, it takes years of planning and work to put hospitals together. It takes years of planning and hard work to put them together, and that's why we're suffering now. We worked at top speed doing the necessary work that has to go into a great number of these projects. The Burnaby General has been given the go-ahead — $30 million. They're in the process now of building what should have been built years ago for probably $10 million if it had been done at the proper time.
HON. MR. BARRETT: The Columbia River needed the money.
HON. MR. COCKE: The Royal Columbian, another neglected project and another $30 million, and another $10 million if it had been done a number of years ago.
There have been approvals on extended-care hospitals all over the province. Vancouver, UBC got approvals. As a matter of fact, the shovels are in the ground already. Queens Park, Victoria — all these hospitals are going ahead as a result of this government's activities over the past two and a half years.
The medical centre, despite all its attendant problems, is going ahead and will produce just exactly what the Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) was talking about: clinical, and also highly needed, referral facilities for the Province of British Columbia.
All too often when we think of solutions to life's problems, we shunt our problems into institutional boxes. That's easy. We think of courts, not of justice. We think of schools, not of learning. We think of hospitals, not of health. That's how we think. We focus on form, not health.
So as I indicated, the Socreds found buildings not without advantage. These buildings keep in the votes while they keep out the cold. The previous administration devoted considerable energy to building rural hospitals while ignoring ways of keeping people out of hospitals, other than crossing their fingers.
HON. W.S. KING (Minister of Labour): I don't know. They make me sick.
HON. MR. COCKE: Before anyone misconstrues my comments, however, I assure the House that I agree that these institutions do have an extremely important place but only as part of the system. They must become part of the system, not the system itself. I think that's the important ingredient we've missed. The vital part of the system in the future must be prevention. If we are to maintain a viable health system, it must be prevention — such as reducing the speed limit, as my colleague did a few months ago. A Minister of Highways (Hon. Mr. Lea) showed his concern for the life and limb of the people of British Columbia.
Oh, the former Minister of Highways (Mr. Gaglardi), how he used to fly. What was his name? Flying Frill. Oh, no, Flying Phil. Oh, yes, Mr. Speaker. What a change of attitude has occurred in this place in two and a half years.
HON. MR. COCKE: In health care we have added the preventive aspect. As I said earlier in the session, we have added to public health with nurses well grounded in prevention. Public health inspectors.
The Leader of the Opposition seems to think they should all go.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Where is he? Where is he? Where is he?
HON. MR. COCKE: As long as we're the government, they will not go; they will stay on to provide the needs and the care this province needs.
HON. MR. BARRETT: An empty chair. He doesn't even give us the courtesy of turning his back on us. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. COCKE: I'd like to just talk in terms of Action B.C. for a second. More prevention; a
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recognition of the need for prevention in this province. Just to give you an idea of what a little bit of work and a strongly motivated group of people can do.
Right now, we're working on our PNE project this coming year. Last year, 9,000 people took a fitness test in the PNE. Not that that remade them, not that that remoulded them, but it gave them just a little bit of a move toward more consciousness about their own health concerns and about their own health care. Our problem has been that as a society we have decided to let the doctors do it, let the nurses do it, let somebody else do it, taking no responsibility ourselves for our own health care. I believe that preventive work, such as Action B.C. has been doing around this province, is great work.
As I said, we had action in the B.C. building last year, and there will be again this year. Right now, there's a Penticton project going on. I hope they get the same kind of results in Penticton: getting people involved in walking if they used to sit; getting them involved in running if they used to walk; getting people involved in physical activity and interested in nutrition and these kinds of things.
I note the Member for Boundary-Similkameen (Mr. Richter) nodding his head. I'm very pleased that he's noted this because it is an important project. These projects get people closer to their own needs.
Let me tell you about something else that Action B.C. promoted. We call it the Prince George project. In cooperation with the Minister of Education (Hon. Mrs. Dailly) and the school board in Prince George, they put together a fine programme. And do you know what's happening in those schools, the two schools particularly where this programme occurred? They get one hour per day of physical activity. It didn't cost them anything more than one dedicated teacher who went up and taught the other teachers how to deliver a physical education programme to their classes.
Mr. Speaker, what happened to the kids? Every one of them was checked three times: at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the programme — that is, at the end of the first year. What happened to the kids? First, having taken that much time out of their school day, their school grades went up, believe it or not. The second thing that occurred was that their health improved. They weren't so fat. They were able to exert themselves to a far greater extent.
Generally speaking, Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of thing that we've been looking for. This is the kind of thing that's going on as a result of people whose preoccupation is with prevention. That has to keep going, rolling like a snowball.
Often the most tragic deaths are caused by accidents. Accidents are the major cause of death between the ages of 15 and 44. This fact was a major impetus behind the creation, last year, of the Emergency Health Services Commission. The Emergency Health Services Commission was born because of that particular need in our society. Now, before we use the traditional perspective — when I say "emergency" don't just think of ambulances, although we are proud of the services the ambulances give — we should broaden our perspective, broaden our scope in the area of accident prevention. There are more days lost in this province from industrial accidents than are lost in industrial disputes, and that was true even when the Socreds were in power and there were lots of industrial disputes.
Mr. Speaker, that's precisely where it's at, so we'd better begin to become safety conscious. We're looking at ways and means of imparting safety consciousness.
One, I feel is an understanding of elementary first aid — just an understanding of elementary first aid. And, Mr. Speaker, you as a Member of this House can find out yourself and give some leadership at the same time.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Right on!
HON. MR. COCKE: St. John's Ambulance has developed a multi-media programme that lasts only eight hours. In this short period of time not only is first aid practised but a new awareness towards safety is imparted. In some of the experiments that have been going on recently, when this course has been taught to everyone in a plant, the accident rate has dropped as much as 30 per cent. So I think that it makes one far more accident-aware.
The Premier just suggested we need a first-aid course in this House, and that's precisely what you're going to have. If I receive enough notes from the Members of this House, a course will be made available as soon as it can be arranged. Eight hours — you can do it in two four-hour periods or whatever. Let's give a little leadership in the community.
HON. MR. BARRETT: It's too late to help the Member for Saanich and the Islands (Mr. Curtis).
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, save a life. Save the Member for Saanich.
HON. MR. BARRETT: He's got no place to go.
MR. PHILLIPS: All you can do is put on Band-aids.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, later in the session I'll be reporting on our new B.C. cancer control programme. We have some great people working there. We have a whole new direction in the delivery of cancer care.
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HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, will you call that Member to order?
Later I'll be reporting on our new cancer programme, but I want to say that I'm delighted with the people that are involved. I also feel that having just provided $1.5 million worth of cancer detection equipment to 25 major hospitals in the province is another real step ahead. I feel that we have to go very quickly with this disease. It's a disease that we just mustn't leave uncontrolled, and a disease that we have to give a great deal of priority to.
There are a lot of expanded programmes in health. I am proud of the budget that could come up with $712 million for health care.
MR. CHABOT: "I'm proud of the Premier." Say that too.
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, I'm proud of him, too. I certainly am.
Mr. Speaker, included in this budget are: such programmes as community health centres; such programmes as forensic service; such programmes as our ambulance programme that's growing.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. I would point out to the Hon. Member that his time is up.
HON. MR. COCKE: My time is up. Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of regret....
DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, please. It is drawing to a close.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. COCKE: Oh, it is drawing to a close. It is really regretful that I have to sit very shortly.
But, Mr. Speaker, just before I do, I would like to ask that the opposition pay a great deal closer attention to what is going on in this province. I would ask them to go out and talk to the people who have benefited. That is virtually everybody in this province except J.V. Clyne and his associates.
MR. PHILLIPS: Except the taxpayers.
HON. MR. COCKE: They should go out and they should say to the people of this province that either they support these good programmes or they support the money companies who want to go on ripping off. They should go out to the people of this province and own up to where they have always been and where they will always be.
HON. MR. BARRETT: "Son of Daddy" is going to get saddle sores.
HON. MR. COCKE: That same old gang are as much in the pockets of the corporate giants in this province as they ever were.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: More so! More so!
[Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
HON. MR. COCKE: With the greatest amount of humility I must say this: there is no better budget, and no better government has ever walked the face of this province. I congratulate the Premier on his fine budget.
MR. BENNETT: I just want to clarify a statement made by the former speaker, the Minister of Health, I'm glad that he ....
MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry, you are rising on a point of order to clarify some statement....
MR. BENNETT: To clarify a statement that was incorrect.
MR. SPEAKER: A statement made about you?
MR. BENNETT: About our party, concerning a pamphlet connected with our party....
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the Hon. Member will find, in examining the rule, that you can correct any statement made about you or any statement that you have made, but not in regard to anything else.
AN HON. MEMBER: Turn your books over to public accounts.
MR. SPEAKER: Order!
Hon. Mrs. Dailly moves adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Mrs. Dailly moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 4:58 p.m.