1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, MAY 1, 1975
[ Page 1947 ]
Committee of Supply: Department of Education estimates
On vote 44.
Mr. Schroeder — 1947
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1947
Mr. Wallace — 1948
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1951
Mr. Wallace — 1951
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1952
Mr. Wallace — 1953
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1954
Mr. Chabot — 1954
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1954
Mr. Chabot — 1954
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1955
Mr. Schroeder — 1955
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1955
Mr. Schroeder — 1955
Mr. Wallace — 1956
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1957
Mr. Gardom — 1957
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1958
Mr. Gardom — 1958
Division on Mr. Chairman's ruling — 1959
Mr. L.A. Williams — 1960
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1961
Mr. McGeer — 1962
Mr. Wallace — 1963
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1964
Mr. D.A. Anderson — 1964
On vote 45.
Mr. Chabot — 1967
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1968
Mr. Chabot — 1968
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1969
On vote 46.
Mr. Schroeder — 1969
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1969
Mr. Schroeder — 1969
Hon. Mrs. Dailly — 1970
THURSDAY, MAY 1, 1975
The House met at 8:30 p.m.
Orders of the day.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Dent in the chair.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
On vote 44: research and development, $2,307,446 — continued.
MR. H.W. SCHROEDER (Chilliwack): As we broke for the dinner hour, the Minister gave us her assurance that after the dinner hour she would answer some of the questions that had been asked by the...
MR. SCHROEDER: There wasn't one minute when I wasn't there.
...Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) because he was unsatisfied with the answers that had been given in what, in my opinion, was a rather lengthy debate on the research and development division of the department. However, I have to agree with the Member for Oak Bay that although the charges and the defence took up a great length of time, perhaps satisfactory answers were not forthcoming.
I would like to ask the Minister some pointed questions that perhaps would lead into her candid reply, perhaps exhaustive reply, to the questions. Then maybe the Member for Oak Bay, after he gets here, can go home satisfied.
This is what I need to know about the research and development department: is there going to be one? That's not too hard to answer. Are you still with me, Madam Minister? Is there going to be one?
How many people are presently employed in what is called the research and development department under vote 44? How many have you already hired to fill these positions?
What is their job description? I think that one of the reasons why the research and development department has a little trouble getting off the ground is because it hasn't been clearly defined, certainly not to the two commissions that were the forerunners of this department and that were supposed to be ongoing commissions, Madam Minister. They have been dissolved, apparently without notice. There was no funeral, no ceremony, no announcement that they were to pass away. Therefore we must assume that they still are. The commissioner for whom $750,000 was provided utilized only $500,000 of that, leaving $250,000 unaccounted for. That is just one of the by-the-way questions: what happened to the rest of that money?
But the commissioner was gone. This has been well rehearsed here, we don't need to go into a long harangue. One of the reasons why the commissioner left is because he did not have a clear job description. I don't think he knew whether he was doing well or not well. I need to know whether or not he had any system of evaluation. Did he have periodic discussions with the Minister so that he knew in advance whether he was on the mark or off the mark?
I'm sure that it came as quite a shock to him when he watched his television one night and found out that he was not doing well at all. Therefore, Madam Minister, I would like to know what the job description is for these people who are going to be involved in the research and development department.
Next question: are they going to be made aware of that job description?
Nest question: who is going to hire them? We have heard the Minister say on several occasions that she is the one who is going to run her department and that she is the one who is responsible for the eventual outcome and eventual direction of her department. Who is going to hire these people?
The next question is redundant; it has already been asked by the Member for Oak Bay. The question is simply this: is there any difficulty in obtaining applications?
These, together with some of the questions that the Member for Oak Bay asked just before the dinner hour, were the ones for which we were expecting some answers. Perhaps now that the Member has arrived I am sure that the Member for Oak Bay would be interested in the answers that you have for us now.
HON. E.E. DAILLY (Minister of Education): First of all, an explanation of research and development is very simple. Research and development was set up to provide solid research, educational research, when required by the department. It was also created to assist in the development of new and innovative programmes which either could be suggested and initiated by the department or from school boards across the province.
I think the concern was also expressed by the Member for Oak Bay as to what is happening. Well, at this moment there have been no replacements of personnel. We still have two consultants working in that department and we have the supportive services department of the Department of Education, under the Deputy, who are handling the areas of the developmental research at this time. Until we have the full report in from Dr. Peterson, who has not been hired on a permanent basis but has been asked to do this special assignment with assistance from, I believe, four other people on the best role, the best
[ Page 1948 ]
structure for research and development in the department, we have no intention of hiring any more people. However, that does not mean that everything has come to a halt in the province when it comes to research and development. We are intending to give an increase, I believe, to ERIBC, which is doing excellent work in educational research and will be continuing to do so. They're independent, but on the other hand they work closely with the department; it can contract out to such an agency also.
Also, in the area of development we have a tremendous number of areas of developmental programmes which are going on right now in the province. I went through all this in my speech in the budget debate, and we have requests coming into the department every day from school boards, teachers — not only groups but individuals — who say: "We have an innovative idea — can the department fund it?"
So the majority of those funds you see in front of you allocated for research and development...if we had accepted all the proposals we received to date, we'd practically have it all apportioned out now.
MR. SCHROEDER: Salaries too?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Well, naturally many of those innovative programmes which have been suggested for approval, some of which actually are underway now, do involve salaries of some personnel. For instance, under the present research and development grants which we are now involved in, we have Project Canada West, $10,000, which is an excellent programme which involves Canadian studies.
We have the B.C. Indian Language Project, $15,000 — or is it $25,000? This is last year's list and these are being continued.
The Educational Research Institute of B.C., as I said, we funded and we're increasing the funding this year.
I can give you the specific list, Mr. Member, but I just wanted to give you an idea of who and what are funded under developmental programmes. We are funding Strathcona Park Lodge, the environmental project for environmental education, to pay students' fees and teachers' fees, and the B.C. Professional Education Resources Committee.
A special project is going on in the Queen Charlotte Islands, which as we know is an area that has very specific problems. I received a report from them and their request for a continuance of funding for the special problems which districts such as the Queen Charlottes face. The Cariboo-Chilcotin project, an innovative programme for rural secondary schools, is under that, and that will be continued.
There is a special research planning programme on learning assistance which is going on in Burnaby. The University Extension Association of B.C. receives funds under this.
School District 61, greater Victoria, is being funded for the Victoria Integrated Services Project, which as you know is an innovation brought in by this government to encourage districts to integrate their services — health, human resources and education.
The native Indian study in B.C. schools, which is being handled at the University of Victoria, is also another developmental project. The B.C. Native Indian Teachers' Association is a very interesting programme in which, as I stated before, I think now we have 65 native Indian teachers who are going through for their teacher training certificates.
The UBC conference on implementing education in open areas was part of our developmental project last year. The B.C. school trustees' conference on teacher education, which we financed, was mentioned before.
Project Full Slate — we encouraged the BCSTA in their work to encourage more people to become school trustees.
We have assisted in drama educators' conferences and also in Project Learn, which I think the Member may be aware of, which is a laboratory for educational advancement resources and needs. So the list goes on.
I can give you a list of the requests which have come in this year and, as I say, already they would well exceed our budget, so a certain amount of vetting has to be done. So the point I'm making here is that out there in the province there are many enthusiastic people who have ideas for innovation, and this department is ready to meet with them. We only have a limited budget, but we're attempting to move in new areas in educational directions on the initiative of many local school boards. The whole area of research and development is continuing, and after we have Peterson's report in we will be able to perhaps form a better structure to see that it continues.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm certainly very pleased that the Minister has taken a somewhat different approach to answering my question after supper than what she did before supper when we had a rather petulant school marm approach to the question.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. WALLACE: I asked some very valid, legitimate questions.
MR. D.E. LEWIS (Shuswap): Touchy!
MR. WALLACE: "Touchy," he says. I know who was touchy before supper time. It wasn't me; it was
[ Page 1949 ]
the Madam Minister.
The Madam Minister gave me a little advice. She said: "Why don't you read my budget speech?" So over the supper hour I read the Minister's budget speech. Lo and behold, what do we find on page 351 on my original question about research and development? On page 351 we find the Minister saying: "I'm not going to go through the whole vote, because you can ask me in detail during estimates."
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. WALLACE: Oh! And if that's not what I was doing before supper time, I don't know what was. I was asking for details under the legitimate vote in the debate on estimates.
MR. WALLACE: Many of the questions have now been answered in the last five minutes. But the very authoritarian, autocratic attitude which this Minister took before supper time, I think, was rather indicative of her great sensitivity to this whole issue of research and development. Since the Minister has chosen to give us more information in the last 10 minutes than she appeared to be willing to give before supper time, I have to ask the question. If all these different projects which she has listed and which she relates as being typical of many others which she's anticipating from many school boards, I still have not had the answer to one of the very basic questions.
A highly skilled educator was given a job by the government under glowing terms and with a press release which stated how talented and able he was to conduct research for this department, and six other people were engaged along with this professional educator. Yet all that happened was that shortly after the six-month period, all seven of them were dismissed.
I can understand why the Minister is very sensitive and why she doesn't want me to go on asking the questions. Asking the questions only reveals that there has been some serious misjudgment by the Minister and the department in this whole area of research and development. I still haven't had the question answered as to what was accomplished by the employment of these individuals at very substantial salaries for the period of time they were in the employment of the department. From the description which the Minister gave just a few moments ago of all the different projects, I don't see that there's any need to engage anybody to replace the seven people who were fired. We don't know what they were doing; we haven't been told what, if anything, they accomplished. The budget, apparently, which we're now debating under vote 44, does not appear to embody any programmes by the professional researchers. All the programmes that the Minister has....
MR. WALLACE: The programme that the Minister has itemized to some degree in the last 10 minutes leads to certain other questions, Mr. Chairman. Of all these different projects she recited — the LEARN project — the Laboratory for Educational Advancement of Resources and Needs, the B.C. Native Indian Language Project, and many of the others — it just leaves me puzzled as to why these researchers were engaged in the first place. What particular projects were they supposed to be doing?
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, I could do with a little order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would ask the Hon. Members on both sides of the House to respect standing order 40(3).
AN HON. MEMBER: Part 3?
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, we're dealing with a vote that involves the spending of $2,307,000. I'm not concerned about lots of the snide remarks that are being thrown around or the kind of defence that's being put by the Member for Shuswap (Mr. Lewis) chirping away in the background, or anybody else in this House. There are certain facts that opposition Members have every legitimate right to question in regard to the past performance of the Minister in this department and the fact that we're being asked to approve the projected spending of $2.3 million in a particular branch of the department whose past performance leaves one wondering as to the degree of control that the Minister has in determining the direction of research and development.
I wonder if the Minister would care now, after reconsideration, to answer some of the specific questions I asked before supper time. Of all the people who were dismissed from this division and presumably who participated in spending all or part of the $750,000 on the left-hand column of our page L-69, what did they do while they were employed as researchers? I'm not asking what they did wrong or what they did, in the opinion of the Minister, to merit their dismissal. I'm asking: what did the taxpayers of British Columbia get in return for the money that was spent by the work and by the actions of these six or seven researchers?
Question No. 2: if we exclude these various other
[ Page 1950 ]
projects which the Minister has itemized tonight, which presumably would not involve researchers right in her department, could she tell us, out of the $2.3 million that is projected...?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Apparently the Hon. Members didn't understand the direction of the Chair, perhaps for a good reason — I quoted the wrong standing order, but I'll quote the right one this time. Standing order 17(2). Would the Hon. Members please observe this rule? Would the Hon. Member continue, please?
MR. WALLACE: Could I ask what projects involving research within the department itself are encompassed in the $2.3 million vote? Or, alternatively, could I ask the Minister, since she said a few moments ago that there are no plans to replace the researchers, if I heard correctly? There are no plans at the present time to replace the researchers, so we have gone through the exercise....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. We cannot continue debate as long as there's going to be this shouting back and forth across the floor.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Hon. Member for Columbia River on a point of order.
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): On a point of order, I think you should bring that Minister to order, the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk). He's doing the interrupting and he's not even in his own seat.
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): He's in a seat that he won't be able to fill.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The appeal was to both sides of the House.
MR. CHABOT: But what about the Minister interrupting out of his own seat?
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, I'm simply asking some very valid questions about the spending of $2.3 million. If the House wants to spend all night on that, I'm quite prepared to do so. We have 20-odd hours of debating still to go and I don't care if we spend all of it finding the answers to some of these questions.
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Economic Development): Take your time, Scotty.
MR. WALLACE: I still want to know, within the $2.3 million, if the Minister has no intention of replacing the seven researchers who were fired, what specific research, if any, is going on, or will go on, within this vote in the Minister's own department regardless of these other specified items in a vast, differing number of ways that she has itemized tonight. If the Minister is so anxious to emphasize to the House, as she was before supper time, that she had already answered my questions, can she tell the House why she hasn't had the courtesy of answering question 124 on the order paper, which has been there for about three weeks asking about the function of Dr. Peterson, who was appointed subsequent to the firing of the researchers?
MR. WALLACE: Question 124, Madam Minister, has been on the order paper for about three weeks. It very specifically asks why Dr. Peterson has been appointed subsequent to the firing of the researchers, and what the Minister's specific purpose is in appointing him, what is his job, how many others are involved, and a whole lot of other relevant questions. When you have a series of firing in government or business or anywhere else, but most specifically in government, when the taxpayer is the person who is paying for all of these failures, I think I've very right to stand up here and persist in asking what on earth is going on within the branch of research and development. I don't care how many jibes I get, or snide remarks, or laughs or anything else. I'll stand here as long as I want to, just the way the Premier of this province once stood here one night, as I remember, and asked a question 68 times. If it's all right for him to do it, I think it's all right for the Member for Oak Bay to do it. I would like the courtesy of an answer to the content of question 124 on the order paper.
I would like to know if somewhere within the fiscal year it is the intention of the Minister to replace the researchers who have been fired. She said a few moments ago that in the near future or in the foreseeable future there is no plan to replace the researchers.
Could I ask a straightforward question? Is it the Minister's intention somewhere down the road that, in fact, Dr. Knight and the other members will be replaced? If so, what specific kind of research does the Minister have in mind for their successors?
I would like to ask if there is some kind of
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deadline by which time Dr. Peterson has to submit his report. As I said a moment ago, I'd appreciate the courtesy of knowing exactly the function of Dr. Peterson's work.
Finally, I'd like to ask the Minister if she would be gracious enough to file with the House the complete list of projects, as of tonight, that have been approved as research projects which will come out of the budget of $2.3 million.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: I regret that the Hon. Member feels that the questions he's asking are completely new and that he has not had an answer. I suggest that he look at the budget and, I believe, also Hansard. Looking through my Hansard I see that the questions were asked earlier, and I attempted to the best of my ability to answer them. But obviously the Member is still not satisfied, so I will continue to go over them.
On the whole matter, I think, of what the terms of reference are with respect to Dr. Peterson, I regret that I had the answer prepared, Mr. Member, and I thought I'd actually file this, but it will be filed for you, if not tomorrow, on Monday. Just briefly, again, Dr. Peterson is hired to analyse the whole role of research and development in our Education department and the best vehicle under which it should operate. He and his colleagues are studying research and development not only in this province but in other provinces and internationally so that he can report back. I remember specifically standing on my feet in this House and informing you of this fact, Mr. Member, at another time in the debate. I think that if you check back, you'll find that somewhere in Hansard.
However, that is his chief role. Then he'll report back on what they consider the best framework for research and development to take place in an Education department. Whether he recommends that it should be continued as a separate division, whether it should be amalgamated within the department or whether you can get the best research and development by straight contracting out is something which Dr. Peterson will be presenting to us. I have no idea, naturally, until the report comes in. He has been asked, I believe, to have this ready by July 1.
I think I mentioned earlier when I spoke in this House that educational change and development is a very sensitive area. When you create a vehicle and the vehicle does not seem to be producing what is desirable, then you have no alternative but to change and look at the structure of that vehicle and what the best way is to get the results.
As far as replacement, certainly we would have to wait for the results of the public grievance hearings which will be held on the members who are appealing. That would be one limitation as to whenever there could be replacement. Secondly, I am sure you understand that I would have no intention of a general replacement in that vote for personnel until Peterson brings down his report.
MR. CHABOT: Les?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Not Les, no.
Now was there another area there? You would like also a list of the projects which will be coming under this new vote you have in front of you. I can give you a list of some which we will be suggesting but, of course, that doesn't say that we can move on them immediately. It depends on the timing on the financing for those projects. But I certainly can give you a fairly good idea of some of the projects which we're continuing and some which we hope we will be able to continue during the year. I certainly can make that available to you.
MR. WALLACE: In response to the further comments of the Minister, she's told the House that Dr. Peterson's role is to analyse the whole role of research and development in education and to find the best vehicle and that he's studying ways in which this is done in other provinces and, indeed, internationally — and what the best framework is, whether they should have a separate research division or whether it should be contracted out or whether it should just be amalgamated as part of the department.
Now that automatically has to lead to one very obvious question. At this point in time, the Minister is undecided as to how research should be carried out. Yet we have the example that some six months or nine months ago, without any such preliminary study whatever or advice from anybody, she employed Dr. Knight and six others to carry out research, presumably, in an ad hoc and haphazard fashion. Now that she's found out that it's a complete and abysmal failure, she calls in some other group of educators to tell her what the vehicle should be and how research should be done.
If that isn't a demonstration of piecemeal, hit-or-miss procedure in the field of research and development, I don't know what is, and that only further justifies the fact that I think this opposition should carry out the most searching and penetrating questioning of the Minister on this whole matter of research and development.
In her answer to my question a moment ago she demonstrated very clearly that the department forged ahead in research and development by employing a certain person and several others, and obviously the Minister had no clear-cut impression of her own as to how the research should be done, or what it might lead to, or what the best way would be to do it. Then, having found out that the ad hoc method has been a complete failure, we now find that Dr.
[ Page 1952 ]
Peterson and several others are carrying out a study to find out how to study research and development in education, I think this is a very regrettable situation in a matter as sensitive as trying to determine how change should take place, or what innovations or new approaches should be developed. While it has taken just a little more time of the House, I think the Minister's answers in the last few minutes have made it very plain that her department really had no clear-cut, well-formulated concept of what research and development should be all about.
The department advertised for these individuals and, as I say, the appointments, particularly of Mr. Bremer and of Dr. Knight, were heralded with great press releases telling us of the tremendous potential that these highly professional educators had to show new ways and to shed light on a lot of the educational problems of this province. Here we are, about two years after the initial appointment of Mr. Bremer, and we find that we have to appoint another group of educators, not to research, but to find out how the research should be done — what the vehicle should be, what the mechanism should be, what the administrative structure should be.
We have spent two years and a considerable pile of money. My friend from West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) tells me that it was not $750,000 but $925,000 that was spent in the past fiscal year, They exceeded the $750,000 on the left-hand side of the page by another $100,000-odd, and I am still not satisfied with this Minister's answer as to what the taxpayer of British Columbia got for $900,000. A large hunk of that $900,000 was spent on engaging professional educational researchers who, after six months, were fired in a manner and under circumstances which are nothing less than pathetic and shocking on the part of a government that espouses a dedication and a belief in fair play for the workers and the employees of this province.
I know why the Minister was so keen to get this all hushed up before 6 o'clock. She doesn't want this kind of criticism. She doesn't want these kinds of questions because they are too close to the bone, and it demonstrates the fact that $900,000 was spent in her department last year, and there is absolutely nothing to show for it. Nothing at all!
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): A million bucks down the drain.
MR. WALLACE: In the light of $2.3 million, we on this side of the House and the taxpayers of British Columbia are wondering how much out of this $2.3 million might well finish up with no tangible or visible product.
I just say again that this has, I hope, been a sobering lesson for the Minister of Education. It's certainly been a sobering lesson for the taxpayers. But then, of course, it may well be that with the large revenues which this government has become accustomed to, the throwaway question might be: "Well, what's a million?" We've already heard the comment: "What's a hundred million?"
We've become accustomed in this province to seeing this government in various departments spend a million here and a million there, and they can't even add it up correctly to the tune of $10 million sometimes. That's why it was all the more regrettable this evening, before supper time, that the Minister should take this attitude of the lecturing school marm telling a Member of the opposition that he's just being a nuisance to keep asking a question a second time because he didn't like the answer a first time.
AN HON. MEMBER: You'll get the strap, Scotty.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, I've got news for that side of the House. I think the example after supper has shown that the Minister is willing to enlarge on her earlier answers, but any time that an opposition Member is dissatisfied with an incomplete answer, it is not the role of this government or this cabinet or any Minister in this government or any other government to take the kind of haughty and ill-informed attitude that was adopted by the Minister of Education at 6 o'clock this evening. So I say that I hope the Minister can assure the House and assure the people of British Columbia that the kind of money that was wasted within the $900,000 spending will not be wasted as part of the $2.3 million. I hope, furthermore, that the appointment of Dr. Peterson is not just some kind of smokescreen to try and bolster up the Minister's weak position in the light of past events.
Now my final question would be: does the Minister plan to either table with the House or make public the documents she expects to receive from Dr. Peterson, which, presumably, will contain his comments not only as to how research should be handled in the future, as the Minister has suggested, but also some reflection on why the efforts that have been made in the past several months have failed so miserably, and what measures may be taken in the future to avoid this kind of disaster with the taxpayers' money?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Chairman, I want to deal with that very last sentence: the "disaster with the taxpayers' money." This $900,000 that you are throwing around does not have anything to do with the salary of the particular R&D group whose services are now terminated. The money to which you are referring which has been wasted was spent on the projects which I listed to you just a few moments ago, plus some salaries for other people within the
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department. These were not included in the R&D, so there was no waste of taxpayers' money. They were used for projects. I made that quite clear. I just read you a list of the names of some of the projects which were involved. That is where the majority of the money went. I want to make this absolutely clear.
I hope you are not trying to twist what I am saying. I hope it is just basic lack of understanding of my first remarks to you tonight. That is not a waste. As a matter of fact, if you say it is a waste of taxpayers' money, I would hope you would not go out and say that to the school boards and to the groups and to the students who have had services from those moneys spent last year. I just want to make that point absolutely clear. You are completely confused when you think that that $900,000 was spent on salaries for the R&D. That is incorrect.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Hon. Member for Oak Bay...
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Excuse me one moment....
MR. CHAIRMAN: ...first on a follow-up question.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, this becomes more and more interesting all the time.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would ask, since other Hon. Members wish to speak, that you keep your questions relatively brief.
MR. WALLACE: Well, my questions can be very brief. If the $900,000 did not involve Dr. Knight and his associates, would the Minister tell me where their salaries show up in the vote?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Yes, I would be very pleased to: under salary contingencies.
MR. WALLACE: Oh, I'm not quite finished.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Salary contingencies.
MR. WALLACE: Oh, now we are getting to the heart of it.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. WALLACE: The $92 million that is in salary contingencies spread throughout this budget, throughout the estimates....
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Last year's vote, Scotty, last year's.
MR. WALLACE: I notice that this is the escape hatch. We have ballpark figures of salary contingencies which are so flexible, and this year it is $1.9 million.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Oh, a point of order, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Last year's salaries! To the Member for Oak Bay: as you know, they were in a contingency fund under the Minister of Finance.
MR. WALLACE: $15 million.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: That is where those salary votes were.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, we are really beginning to get down to the real truth of the matter and the fact that, as I think Dickens said: "Things don't always appear to be what they appear to be." It is very obvious that last year there was $15 million in a kind of escape hatch which the various Ministers could use when they got into a bind such as the Minister of Education did with this research staff. This year we are looking at $92 million of flexibility in terms of financing people who waste the taxpayers' money. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, it doesn't really matter where the salaries finally show up in the estimates; it's the total amount....
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Why did you ask me that?
MR. WALLACE: Well, why do I ask. What a ridiculous question! I asked because I want to know how much money was spent on Dr. Knight and his staff and all the people who produced absolutely nothing. I think I am entitled to know and the taxpayers of British Columbia are entitled to know how much money — and I don't care where it shows up in the budget. I want that Deputy Minister....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would just remind the Hon. Members that we are speaking to vote 44, which is the projected estimates for this coming fiscal year.
MR. WALLACE: Sometimes, Mr. Chairman, I have a feeling that even you are against me in this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would appreciate it if Hon. Members would not lecture the Chair. If they have points of order to raise, they may raise points of order. I am making a point of order.
MR. WALLACE: If you wouldn't lecture the
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Member, the Member might not bother to lecture the Chair.
AN HON. MEMBER: You're the Chairman of the House....
MR. WALLACE: We had that session this afternoon already when we were discussing the report of the committee on education.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair will make the point of order as simple as possible.
MR. WALLACE: I'm just asking for some assistance, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would ask the Member to speak to vote 44, the projected estimates for this current fiscal year.
MR. WALLACE: That projected estimate, Mr. Chairman, is $2.3 million. It was just discovered that last year when we were debating $750,000, which was in the proper column where it should be, we were unaware that there were plans by the Minister, within a contingency budget of $15 million for all departments, that she could take X dollars out of that contingency to cover up the disaster that resulted from employing seven researchers, and we've talked about the $9 million figure. What I'm asking now and what has become revealed by my questioning is the fact that even $900,000 doesn't sum up the figure that was spent on research and development. It was $900,000 plus the salaries of Dr. Knight and his staff. I'm just asking what additional sum of money over and above the $900,000, which was $150,000 more than was budgeted for — and this is the overspending government — what total figure of salaries was spent up until the time when these people were dismissed in addition to the $900,000.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: If I had that answer here, we'd give it to you. We don't have that with us. You have to get that from public accounts where it will be filed. I can't give you that right here specifically. It will be all out in public accounts for the questioner to read and see exactly.
MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, just a few brief questions regarding research and development. A massive amount of money. I'm surprised that the Minister would suggest that some things will have to be found in public accounts two years hence.
I have one question that I'd like to ask. Does she have in the field of research in her department one Gary Onstad, a well-known NDP teacher from Burnaby? I witnessed Mr. Onstad on television here a few weeks ago, and he was highly critical of the Minister and her Deputy with what had happened to the drawers in his desk. He said they had been raided, rifled and everything had been thrown on the floor in a pile with the effects of those other dismissed researchers in the research team. He was very concerned at the action, of the direction of the Minister or the Deputy.
Now I wonder why Mr. Onstad is still in the employ if he feels this strongly against the top officials of the Department of Education.
Does Mr. Onstad have a contract with the Department of Education, and, if so, when does this contract expire? What is the annual salary of Mr. Onstad in the department of research? He was really disturbed about the action being taken in his office.
One other individual who probably comes under the department of research and development is one Tom Hutchison, a former president of the B.C. Teachers Federation. It's not under this vote? Under what vote would his...?
MR. CHABOT: Pardon? No vote. How does he get paid? Is he not with your department?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Chairman, I understand he was one of the committee members of the small secondary schools committee, and that was just for a very small period of time in which he was released from his district for a very short period of time. That lasted, I think, just for two or three meetings.
MR. CHABOT: Well, I beg to differ, because this former NDP candidate in the great riding of Columbia River hasn't returned to his position as vice-principal of the secondary school. It's my understanding that he's in the employ of the Department of Education in some role, something to do with....
MR. CHABOT: No, he's not in the employ of the BCTF. It was my understanding that he has a role in teacher training with the Department of Education. I could be mistaken, however.
MR. CHABOT: Yes, he's with the university. But it's not through your department that he is being employed? Fine.
Well, I will allow you then, Madam Minister, to answer about Gary Onstad — what his continuing role is, what his annual salary is, and what kind of a contract he has.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Onstad's present role is
[ Page 1955 ]
working on a project in Vancouver East, which he has started on, and his contract will expire on July 31. His salary is what he is being paid by the Burnaby school board and it's reimbursed by us: $18,000, a teacher's salary, approximately.
MR. CHABOT: Was it a mistake that his desk was rifled and everything removed and thrown into a pile in some office away from his? Has the problem in the relationship between Mr. Onstad and the department been resolved? He was very disturbed that night I saw him on television that his office had been raided.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: His office was not raided. Mr. Onstad was referring to Victoria, I believe, and actually his office is in Vancouver. No one was aware that he had any specific material in the Victoria section. His office is in Vancouver, and he did have a desk apparently on Yates Street. All the other members were given time to go in. There were no complaints from the other members — plenty of time to collect their own material. No one was aware that Mr. Onstad had material in the Victoria section too.
MR. SCHROEDER: Mr. Chairman, as I understand it, this Minister is asking us to approve vote 44 before the report of Mr. Peterson and his committee. She says that the report is not expected until July 1 and she has no idea of what the report is going to recommend. The report may well recommend that we wipe out this whole thing — this research and development deal. Since we are this far on this side of July 1, there's no way that the Minister can expect us to pass this vote. There's $340,000 of salary — 22 new people that are not presently in the employ. She tells us, just a few moments ago, that none of these people have been hired yet.
We asked questions about applications coming in. We didn't get an answer to that question. But there are none of these people hired yet, according to the Minister. We have no knowledge of whether or not this department will actually exist. I don't believe that we as the opposition can pass this vote 44. I think that this vote should be withdrawn and that it be brought in perhaps as part of the contingencies, which I see a little later on over here. Good heavens! There's $1,951,759 worth of contingencies. I understand that the salaries of Knight and his crew and the salaries, perhaps, of — well, Mr. Bremer's was the previous year — but that crew was not registered against this vote at all, is that right? Did I understand that right? Isn't that what the Minister said a little while ago?
If this whole section could operate on contingencies last year, I don't see any reason for the existence of vote 44. I don't know whether the opposition.... Maybe we should withdraw this vote.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Well, if the opposition wishes to do that, then they can go around the province and explain to Strathcona Lodge, they can explain to FRIBC, they can explain to the home and school, they can explain to LEARN, they can explain to the Indian teachers of this province why they voted against money for those projects. That's what the bulk of that vote is for. If you want to hold up that vote, those are the people you will have to go out and face. I think it would be a disgraceful step for any Member of this Legislature to vote against native education...
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MRS. DAILLY: ...and environmental education. That is exactly what you'll be voting against. As far as the votes that are listed now there, I said to you at this time that the positions will not be filled until we have the report in. Therefore, those are openings that there will be no salaries passed or used until Peterson's report comes in. But the bulk of the vote is for those very fine grants. If the opposition wants to hold it up and not vote for that, so be it.
MR. SCHROEDER: Mr. Chairman, that logic is absolutely absurd. To say that we're voting against these moneys to be assigned to these various grants like LEARN, the drama clubs, the teachers' education, the Canada West programme, the B.C. Indians, the ERIBC, the Queen Charlotte projects, the Chilcotin.... I was listening while she was listing them. But to say that we are voting against these things when we ask questions about the salary for a senior officer 4 — $27,600 for a whole year's salary and she hasn't even hired him yet — that's absurd. What can we do? Do you want to divide the vote in half and have us vote against half of it and vote for the rest of it? (Laughter.) Let's not be ridiculous! The question was sincerely asked: how in the world can we support, and how can we be expected to vote salaries for people who haven't been hired and it will perhaps be recommended that they not be hired? I think that perhaps this vote should come out of contingencies.
MR. SCHROEDER: I can't see any reason for vote 44. Surely the Minister, when she drafted the budget, anticipated that these people should be hired for a whole year because the salaries are listed for an entire year. Am I correct or am I incorrect?
HON. W.S. KING (Minister of Labour): You're always incorrect.
MR. SCHROEDER: The salaries are listed for a
[ Page 1956 ]
year, aren't they?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: That's right.
MR. SCHROEDER: All right. We are already into that year. We will not have the report of Dr. Peterson until July 1. Let's see — that's April, May, June — there are only nine months of the year left. You can see the ridiculous position the Minister has put us in.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: You'll be saving money.
MR. SCHROEDER: We'll be saving money. Good girl! But there it is. I think that this vote likely should be redrafted. I think that the Minister, when she drew up this budget in the first place, didn't anticipate the complete crumbling of the research and development department and that these salaries that were listed here were actually for Knight and his crew. But since they're gone, this Minister is clearly embarrassed.
I think that the grants could be well taken out of some other contingencies and other grants. There is a whole page...we haven't come to votes 46, 47, 48, 49, 50 and 51. All of these grants that she's talking about could well come out of those votes and vote 44 should not exist at all.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, I think this vote is of sufficient importance that it bears further scrutiny.
I would like to ask the Minister a very simple question. Of the projects which she had listed tonight, and any others to which the department is now committed — and I stress now committed; I'm not talking about pie in the sky next month or three months down the road — does the total cost of these projects exceed the item under 019, which is grants, which is $950,000?
The Minister adopted the all-too-common political device of accusing the opposition that because they're opposed to one part of a proposal they're opposed to all of the proposal. She knows very well that we're not opposed to research and many of these wise and well-motivated areas of research in the kind of projects which the Minister quoted. Really, I don't think it adds to her stature at all to suggest that because we are concerned about the spending on salaries of people who haven't produced anything and the possibility that others are going to be engaged and may produce as little, we're against these projects. That is ridiculous.
I'm just asking a very simple question. Under code number 019 there is an item which is headed "grants, $950,000." If that $950,000 is to be spent on these very promising kinds of projects which the Minister has listed, that's one thing. What we want to know is how the other $1.4 million is to be spent.
To return to another question, the Minister made the absolutely incredible admission a few minutes ago that her department can't tell us — or perhaps does not choose to tell us — what salaries were accumulated by Dr. Knight and seven others.
She shakes her head and says: "We don't have it." Well, I'll help you out a little bit. I've got a copy of the Public Service Commission ad, dated May 24, 1974, advertising for a senior officer 3, director of research and development. You know, Mr. Chairman, there's a little box here on the right-hand top corner and it says "monthly salary range, $1,833 to $2,083." This is Dr. Knight's ad.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. I think the question the Hon. Member asked was how much has been spent, which is quite different from standing up and reading what the salaries are. You are asking for us right now to give you the itemized figure of how much has been spent to date. We cannot do that right here.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Why not?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would remind the Hon. Members that we are in Committee of Supply, not in the public accounts committee. The question should be relevant to....
MR. PHILLIPS: What kind of talk is that? What kind of stuff is that?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Questions are permitted. Some latitude is allowed in terms of comparisons with previous years, but detailed questions about past expenditures are out of order in a supply vote.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Some comparison is permitted, but detailed questioning about past expenditures is not in order under a supply vote.
MR. G.B. GARDOM (Vancouver–Point Grey): Straight closure. We need an auditor-general.
MR. WALLACE: Could I ask one or two further questions, Mr. Chairman?
More specifically, I did ask not for the total amount that had been spent; I asked specifically for the amount of money that had been spent on the salaries of Dr. Knight and six others while they were under the employment of the Minister of this department. Now that should be very readily available. Question No. 1.
If I might continue, I've one or two other questions I would like to ask.
[ Page 1957 ]
My information is that for the six-month period that was involved by these professionals, something in the order of $260,000 was incurred, and I'm just asking a simple question. Would the Minister say whether that was a figure which is approximately accurate within 10 per cent? My information is that $260,000 was spent in that six-month period to pay both the professional staff and the support staff. Would the Minister care to comment as to whether I'm within 10 per cent of accuracy?
If that was not in this vote, and it wasn't in contingencies, could she tell us what votes that approximate figure of $260,000 appeared in?
I'd like to ask some further questions. Could I ask the Minister what two of the particular individuals are presently doing? I'm referring to Mr. Onstad and to Mr. McGeachy. It's my understanding that they are continuing the project that was initiated under research and development and that they are presently being paid by this government as consultants. These are facts that I've been given. I'd just like the Minister to either confirm or deny that these two individuals are presently still functioning as educational consultants to the Minister's department.
Finally, could I ask if the Minister's research assistant's salary came out of this vote? I understand that Mr. Frank Shepherd is listed as a research assistant in the Minister's department, but actually his salary comes out of this vote. These are three or four straightforward questions; I think they should be answered.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Well, now, I'm quite clear of the questions re salaries. To the Hon. Member, the Deputy and the superintendent of finance here will have those figures for you some time tomorrow. We just simply can't prepare that for you at this moment.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hold the vote until tomorrow.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: We will have those figures for you. Would it be $260,000? I'm not going to make a guess on it; we'll give you the figures. You could be fairly close.
You were asking about Mr. Onstad and Mr. McGeachy. They are now working on a project in Vancouver East. This project, by the way, was initiated by the Vancouver East teachers. They made a request for assistance, particularly because of their concern of the socio-economic problem of the Vancouver East area — language difficulties, et cetera. I think we should commend the teachers of the area for getting together themselves initially and saying: "We feel we have very specific problems in this area. We want to meet with the parents and the young people of the area. Can the department assist us in this?" At this time, this is what the two consultants there are doing. They're working with this particular group, and they will be working with the Vancouver school board on this.
MR. WALLACE: And what is this project?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: It's called the Vancouver East project, and I thought I explained it. It's not totally defined but it was initiated by a request from the teachers of that area who said they had very specific problems with non-English speaking students, special socio-economic problems. They felt that as teachers they needed assistance in that particular area because of the particular — I repeat again — socio-economic status of that area. They are presently working with the Vancouver school board and these two consultants. I understand their first thing will be to have two workshops involving the community in the area to look at the specific problems of the young students who go to school in that area.
MR. WALLACE: How are they paid?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: We haven't even assigned a specific grant. The salaries of the two are being paid and we will put up the money for the two workshops. That is as far as we have committed ourselves.
MR. PHILLIPS: $100,000.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, I asked the question: was the Minister's research assistant's salary...?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. It's customary to allow the Chair to recognize....
MR. WALLACE: I have a question and I didn't get an answer.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Oh, I'm sorry. Frank Shepherd, research consultant, was paid out of that vote, that's correct.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Yes, out of that vote.
MR. GARDOM: I would like to ask the Hon. Minister a couple of questions; in fact, just one question that has been on the order paper, I suppose, pretty close to a year, dealing with the vote. It's talking about an individual by the name of Mr. John Bremer. I would ask the Minister a question which she's taken as notice week after week, month after month, from 1974 into 1975. I'd ask here the question that's been on the order paper in 1974 and in 1975 as to whether Mr.
[ Page 1958 ]
John Bremer was under a contract of service or employment with the government or with your department. If so, was it a verbal contract or a written one? Would the Hon. Minister be prepared to file particulars if it is written? I would ask her — which appears to be the case but it's not positive — was he dismissed or did he resign? If he was dismissed, what were the specific reasons for his dismissal? Is there any reason why he is no longer with the department? Did he receive severance pay? Has he received a settlement in lieu of severance pay? Did he have a contract that was bought off?
Most particularly, why has the Minister constantly refused to answer this question? What are you trying to hide? Are you prepared to answer it tonight?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
HON. MRS. DAILLY: The Hon. Member belongs to the legal profession and he knows that Mr. Bremer has chosen to file suit in court. I have no right and no intention to discuss any details of those questions when this is before the court.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Again, I would also point out to the Hon. Member that it doesn't appear that this is contained in this particular vote. I would ask them to....
MR. GARDOM: Mr. Chairman, there is no way...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Comparisons are permitted.
MR.GARDOM: ...that the Hon. Minister can hide behind a lawsuit with this, because these questions were asked long before the lawsuit, and the lawsuit is a libel lawsuit against the Premier of this province. It has nothing to do with the expenditure of public funds! This is not sub judice insofar as these questions are concerned. The Minister is attempting tonight once again to evade and avoid answering these questions. And why?
I don't know. The public don't know. Is there something sinister? Is there something sinister? Have you bought him off? Has he received money he should not have received? What's behind it?
You cannot plead sub judice in a libel suit to cover up something like this. It's time you levelled with the public, Madam Minister.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: My legal advice has been that it should not be discussed here.
AN HON. MEMBER: You'd better get new legal advice.
MR. GARDOM: That is absolutely spurious. It's got absolutely nothing to do with a libel suit. These questions were asked before that even commenced.
What's behind it? Why aren't the general public entitled to know the true story of John Bremer?
"Let the sun shine in." We remember those great phrases. "Let the sun shine in. Open government." Yet here is a situation where it would appear — I don't know, but it would appear — that it involved the expenditure of public funds. Should not the public be entitled to know if this man has received payment to the date of his departure? Should not the public be entitled to know if he has received payments or settlement moneys after the date of his departure? If so, to what extent?
There is something that just doesn't ring true about this, Hon. Members, to me. It is not in the interest of national security. It has nothing to do with public morality. What is all the secrecy about? Why have these questions not been answered? And then, to come up with the spurious suggestion that it's got something to do with the law — it has absolutely nothing to do with that. You know that. That just won't wash with anyone. That won't wash with anyone. It's not true. That is just not true.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Again, I would point out to the Hon. Member three points. First of all, this information may be available from public accounts when the public accounts are produced.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! The rules of the House are not determined on the floor of the House. They are determined by standing orders.
MR. GARDOM: What do you want to bail out the Minister for?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Secondly, clearly the matter on which the Hon. Member is seeking information is not contained within this particular vote.
Thirdly, we have no knowledge at this point as to what matters are covered under the terms of the particular court action.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): Oh, anything goes!
MR. GARDOM: Mr. Chairman, from the position that you have raised in the House tonight and from the fact that the Minister has refused to give these answers, for some reason it would appear that there is a cover-up.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Is the Hon. Member suggesting that the Chair is being prejudiced?
MR. GARDOM: I'm suggesting....
[ Page 1959 ]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. If the Hon. Member is saying that the Chair is prejudiced, move a substantive motion.
MR. GARDOM: I'm suggesting....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Move a substantive motion!
MR. GARDOM: Mr. Chairman, there's no need for the Chair to try to bully the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Either the Chair has some authority in this matter or it doesn't!
MR. GARDOM: Now, Mr. Chairman....
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair is ruling. I am stating the matter as simply as possible. I have repeated it twice now. I've stated it to another Member that you must confine your remarks to the contents of this estimate on this particular vote. I have ruled that this matter which the Member has raised is not contained within this vote...
MR. GARDOM: Well, was not Mr. Bremer, Mr. Chairman...
MR. CHAIRMAN: ...and therefore it is out of order!
MR. GARDOM: ...in charge of research?
AN HON. MEMBER: Of course he was.
MR. GARDOM: Was he not in charge? Am I mistaken in that?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. GARDOM: He wasn't in charge of research?
MR. CHAIRMAN: This is not the issue.
MR. GARDOM: Did he have something to do with research?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order!
MR. GARDOM: He wasn't brought here as a medical attendant!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. PHILLIPS: Sure he was.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That Chair has ruled that any further discussion of this matter is out of order.
MR. GARDOM: I challenge your ruling.
AN HON. MEMBER: The Chair is trying to put a gag on this House.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: You earn authority in the chair; you don't just get it. If you'd be impartial, you would get it all automatically.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, while in committee on consideration of vote 44, the Hon. Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. Gardom) raised a matter which, in the judgment of the Chair, was not contained within this particular vote. Therefore, I ruled the matter which the Hon. Member raised out of order. He challenged my ruling.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The question is whether the ruling of the Chair shall be sustained.
Mr. Chairman's ruling sustained on the following division:
YEAS — 31
|Wallace||Williams, L.A.||Anderson, D.A.|
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
The House in committee; Mr. Dent in the chair.
[ Page 1960 ]
On vote 44: research and development, $2,307,446 — continued.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: I'm pleased to see that we have burrowed our way through that particular problem.
Research and development in education is a matter of great significance and one which Members of this party have for years urged upon the government, and it was with some rejoicing that we found that the present government was pursuing research and development in a manner which had never taken place before. Earlier governments had left this particular problem to individual school districts, and the consequence of that had been to downgrade the consequences of research and development. Save for a few school districts which held themselves out in the forefront of educational advance, not very much was being done in this province.
However, it is with some regret that I have listened to the Minister this evening respond to questions posed to her with regard to this particular vote. I would like to ask the Minister, if she can hear herself over the din and clamour that goes on in this House.... Mr. Chairman, you know you keep a very disorderly House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Hon. Member is entitled to make a point of order at any time and I appreciate it if he would....
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: As a matter of a point of order....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that a person with your background would not want to be associated with a disorderly House, but if that's your choice, I leave it entirely up to you to do as you see fit. If you wish to rely upon individual Members to advise you as to whether you're in a disorderly House or not, then I'll be very happy to call upon some of my colleagues.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Will the Hon. Member please relate a disorderly House to vote 44?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the Minister, since research and development is such a significant function of her department...
MR. WALLACE: Order!
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: ...if she could point out to me where in this vast administrative organization that she has — all these pages of consultants, superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors, assistant directors, administrative officers, co-ordinators, producers.... Could the Minister please indicate to the committee where in this organizational morass that the department has become we find research and development? That's question No. 1. I would like to know the identity of the superintendent under the Deputy Minister to whom we may direct communications with regard to the matters of research and development.
[Mr. G.H. Anderson in the chair.]
Now question No. 2. To come back to vote 44 specifically, if we may put this in context, I understand that when the Minister made her submissions to Treasury Board last fall, she contemplated that research and development would require 22 employees in various categories and other costs totalling $2,300,000. But since that time — since the time that the submission was made to Treasury Board by the Minister and her consultants — she has now had the opportunity of dismissing all those people who were engaged in research and development and who were paid out of contingencies. Therefore she really has no research and development division now at all. She will have no research and development division until sometime after July 1, 1975, when she receives the report and recommendations of Dr. Peterson and the group who are working with him — with one exception.
The Minister has detailed this evening certain significant individual studies being conducted in various areas of the province to which she may — may, I say, because she hasn't committed herself — give grants totalling perhaps $950,000. In those circumstances, how can the Minister ask this committee to pass this vote and to therefore commit to her tender care something like $2 million when, indeed, Dr. Peterson makes his report on July 1 — being a holiday I guess it'll be July 2, 1975 — he may recommend that the research and development function be carried out in some other manner than under the department itself.
There are a number of interesting possibilities with respect to research and development projects which Dr. Peterson might recommend. For example, he might recommend that research and development be carried on an individual project basis in the way that the Minister has already indicated tonight. He may, in fact, say that there....
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Why don't you go back
[ Page 1961 ]
wherever you were yesterday, Mr. Member for Vancouver Centre, because you didn't disturb the committee at that time. We liked it better when you were away.
AN HON. MEMBER: He's always away.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: He's always away from the House. Go out and have a smoke or something; don't bother us.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Will the Member please continue?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Well, Mr. Chairman, if you'll be good enough to keep order in this committee, then maybe we could get some business done. If these gentlemen wish to come in on a casual visit to the House, they should take a tour like the students do instead of sitting on the floor of this House.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Well, if the Hon. Second Member for Burrard (Ms. Brown) would like to go off on the campaign trail, I'm sure we could excuse her from this House, because she hasn't contributed to the debates in this committee for weeks and weeks and weeks.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I don't find....
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: If she'd like to go and sit on the floor someplace and have her picture taken, we could get it on the front page of The Daily Colonist. (Laughter.)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I cannot find that in vote 44. Would you please return to vote 44?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: The Daily Colonist has got a great big readership; I'm sure that it would do a great deal for her campaign. She's a broad bent on the campaign trail.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Can we continue with vote 44?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: To deal with the matter of research and development, I think it would be significant if the Minister would like to indicate....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please, Hon. Members. Would you please continue with vote 44, Mr. Member?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm sorry the Chairman has such difficulty in keeping control of this committee. It is just shocking the way in which Members conduct themselves when they don't have the floor. I'm sure that the Chairman would be happy to recognize them if they'd only stand in their places as the rules provide.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I wish the Member would continue with vote 44.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: In the circumstances, Mr. Chairman, since there is the possibility that Dr. Peterson may recommend a series of individual worthwhile programmes which could be carried in the matter of research and development — which might expand this particular vote beyond the $950,000 for grants — then I would think that the Minister in her wisdom would see it worthwhile to withdraw vote 44 in its entirety and bring it back in an amended form. The amended form might include those projects which she and her staff presently consider to be worthwhile of support with the funds of the people of British Columbia, together with an appropriate allowance for additional programmes which may come to her attention between now and July 1.
Then, come July I when she has Dr. Peterson's report, she would be in a position of making a decision based upon the reference which the doctor makes to her and do as the government has done on earlier occasions — expand the vote out of contingencies or by way of the issuance of special warrants instead of putting this committee to the impossible task of passing upon specific votes for specific positions for specific individuals who are not currently on the payroll and who the Minister recognizes may never be on the payroll of the public service of this province. In that way we would have, in this important section of her department, some sincerity in estimates.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Well, first of all, I think the Hon. Member who is generally in his seat, must have been out part of the time tonight because he has no comprehension at all of what Dr. Peterson's role is, which I have repeated in this House half a dozen times. Dr. Peterson will not be recommending programmes or the grants.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: You suggest that we should hold back the grants because he might come in and suggest different programmes, Mr. Member. He is not going to recommend programmes; he is going to
[ Page 1962 ]
recommend the structure and the vehicle through which these programmes should be vetted and put out into the public for public use.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: It does not — your first question — show up in the structure.
No. 2: they will now vet it through the Deputy and the management committee made up of the superintendents whom you see listed in that structure programme in front of you.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Where?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: In the restructuring.
MR. P.L. McGEER (Vancouver–Point Grey): I'd like to ask the Minister a question or two about vote 44. The sum total, $2,307,000, seems to me a fairly generous sum to vote for research and development purposes. I want to commend the Minister on having a budget of this size available for research.
In scrutinizing the line-by-line dispersal of this money, it seems to me that perhaps $120,000 of it is going to research and about $2,100,000 is being thrown away.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Thrown away? Do you know what is going on?
MR. McGEER: That's what I'd like the Minister to detail for us. It seems to me that when we....
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Point of order, Mr. Member. I don't know what the rules of the House are on this, but this Member was out of the House when I detailed exactly what these expenditures are. How often does the Minister have to repeat to fit in with the absence of Members in this House?
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Minister has covered this point on a number of occasions, Mr. Member.
MR. McGEER: Just looking at the membership here in the House, it seems to me that the attendance of the opposition is perhaps a little bit better than the attendance of the government. I don't pretend to hold the record for most hours in the House, but I think my own would outscore that of the Premier.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, Mr. Member. The point is that the question has been asked many times, and answered, in the House.
MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, the Minister seems to forget — and you seem to forget — that all of the caucus rooms are equipped with loudspeakers. We're well aware of what is said in the House, even if we don't happen to be here to listen to it personally. It seems to me that the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey (Mr. Gardom), my colleague, put some rather pointed questions to the Minister which were not answered. I don't think it's satisfactory, Mr. Chairman, for this Legislature to hide continually, as it has done, behind mythical legalisms. When it comes to taxpayers' money, there must be accountability. Pointed questions were asked by the Second Member for Vancouver–Point Grey with regard to a former representative of this government who was dismissed publicly on television. I stood up some years ago only to ask innocent questions about this particular individual's credentials. The Minister gave me the strap.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order. Mr. Member, the Chair has ruled the subject out of order. Order, Mr. Member. Order!
[Mr. Chairman rises.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Will you be seated, please, while I make the point of order?
[Mr. Chairman resumes his seat.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: You're pursuing the same line of questioning that your colleague from Vancouver–Point Grey had ruled out of order, and the Chair was sustained by vote of this House. Would you please stick to vote 44?
MR. McGEER: It amounts to closure.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Closure is not in vote 44, Mr. Member. Will you stick to vote 44?
MR. McGEER: Well, that is precisely what I thought I was speaking about. If the Minister could give some really satisfactory answers about the dispersement of these funds, the Members of the opposition would stop asking questions about it. But when we get the kind of discourse from the Minister that we've had this evening, you can understand why there has been a non-confidence motion on the floor and why we continue to press the Minister to tell us exactly how she's spending $750 million.
For my part, Mr. Chairman, I consider that that amount of money placed in the hands of a Minister who is unable to demonstrate her competency in the House, represents a questionable expenditure of a large proportion of the tax moneys raised in this province.
We don't intend to be fobbed off with, "I
[ Page 1963 ]
answered this, I answered that, I answered the other thing." Too often when we've asked questions in the House, we've gotten flippant answers or a tongue-lashing, only to find out, as soon as we step outside this chamber, that somebody is fired for following through on policies that have been questioned in this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I cannot see any reference in this vote to discharges of personnel. Will you stick to vote 44, please?
MR. McGEER: Mr. Chairman, again I would like to ask the Minister to give a proper accounting of how this money has been spent.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, I would like to pursue a little further this whole question of spending of very substantial sums of money under research and development. I'll try to be brief and to the point.
This afternoon the Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) outlined a letter dated September 18 regarding educational financing which this Minister of Education had submitted to the Premier. I draw particular attention to the date September 18, because it is very interesting that just two days before that letter was sent by the Minister to the Premier, that same Minister had written to the secretary of the Treasury Board asking for a special warrant of $500,000.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!
MR. WALLACE: Two days before the letter which she sent to the Premier on educational financing.
The very interesting thing is that on October 7 the Minister had to write again to the Treasury Board.
AN HON. MEMBER: Again?
AN HON MEMBER: Why again?
MR. WALLACE: It is a short letter, Mr. Chairman. I really don't want to read it because I have tried to be reasonable and fair, and I was quite willing to be very considerate of the feelings of this Minister and not embarrass her, but I have been looking at the information that is available to me, and, as I say, the Minister on October 7 had to write again to the Treasury Board to ask for reconsideration of the special warrant for $500,000.
AN HON. MEMBER: You mean they didn't give her the grant?
MR. WALLACE: I would just like to read the letter. It says:
"With reference to my memorandum of September 16, 1974, a copy of which is attached, may I please have your reconsideration of the decision not to approve my request for a special warrant of $500,000."
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
AN HON. MEMBER: They turned her down.
MR. WALLACE: I really don't like to do this, because the reason that the money involved is very interesting, and relates very directly to vote 44. The Minister goes on:
"I would like to point out that this vote is included in our estimates for the current year, in an amount of $750,000, the same as in 1973-74, on the understanding that favourable consideration would be given to making available additional funds if this should become necessary."
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Deals, eh? Backroom deals with the Treasury Board.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Chairman, this Minister's letter to the Treasury Board continues:
"The necessity has now arisen for the following reasons:"
I think you will find the reasons very interesting, Mr. Chairman.
"(1) A total increase in staff of 20, many of them on a senior level, has now been approved by an order-in-council. Their activities in the area of research will be severely hampered unless additional funds are forthcoming."
I thought earlier tonight we had all this money accounted for in contingencies, but this is what the letter says.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: A special warrant!
MR. WALLACE: It goes on:
"(2) The White Paper for directions of change in the public school system which I filed in the Legislature in the last session sets out certain recommendations which require a thorough study before they can be implemented, and it is urgent that this work would be started as soon as possible.
"(3) Certain grants have been made which were considered to be of immediate value to the educational process, notably the environmental education project in Strathcona Park.
"Your favourable consideration of this request would be very much appreciated."
Mr. Chairman, I just think that we haven't been getting straight answers to straight questions on vote
[ Page 1964 ]
AN HON. MEMBER: Right!
MR. WALLACE: I first of all tried to find out how much money had been spent by the researchers for which there was nothing to show to the taxpayer in the way of a positive product, and we have learned that the Minister can't give us that figure.
Then we find that the salaries which I asked about were not even in this vote. They are in contingencies of $15 million for the whole functioning of government last year, including all departments. So that's not very precise.
Then we find that there is this appeal to Treasury Board for a special warrant of $500,000 which initially was turned down by the Treasury Board, and which the Minister asked for reconsideration of on October 7.
According to the statement of special warrants issued between the spring session of '74 and '75, we find that the number of the warrant is 76, December 13, 1974, supplementing vote 49: education development, research, and evaluation, $500,000.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: How much was spent?
MR. WALLACE: Out of that $500,000, the expenditure was $263,500, which is pretty close to the $260,000 figure that I asked the Minister about half an hour ago.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: It wasn't in contingencies at all. It was a special warrant, Scotty.
MR. WALLACE: So we've uncovered some very interesting facts about the financial juggling in the Department of Education. We found, first of all, that the Minister claims the salaries were covered in contingencies. Now we find that in fact not only can the Minister give us the figure, which is right here, but that the figure was covered by special warrant. It wasn't covered by contingencies at all.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Who is running things over there anyway?
MR. WALLACE: When the Minister took some exception to the fact that the opposition parties were considering some motion of no confidence, the kind of answers that we were subjected to in the course of the last several days was that great things were happening in the education system. Some good things are happening. But as far as this particular vote and the performance of this branch of the department is concerned and the financial mishmash and shambles which is obviously involved in the financing of research and development, I think we proved on this side of the House beyond all doubt that things are far from well ordered and well controlled in the Department of Education.
I would just like to ask one last question. The Minister replied to one of my earlier questions about the Vancouver East project. I would like the Minister to tell me if in fact the two gentlemen whom I mentioned, Onstad and McGeachy, who were in the department of research and development, were the individuals who wrote up the protocol, or whatever you call it, for the project in Vancouver East and who are presently implementing it and carrying it out.
AN HON. MEMBER: Right on.
MR. WALLACE: How does that equate with the fact that the Minister fired these two people and is now financing a project in Vancouver East which they set up?
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): The fire department — research and development.
MR. PHILLIPS: The question is how to put out the fire.
MR. WALLACE: Well, the Minister says they weren't fired. I wonder if she could just clear up for all of our interest...
MR. PHILLIPS: Political revenge.
MR. WALLACE: ...just exactly if these two gentlemen are not on the payroll under vote 44. They are functioning in the Vancouver East project and the Minister has said she doesn't know what they are getting paid. I would like to know what they are getting paid. Again, I would like to know under what vote they are getting paid.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: It is really difficult to follow this Hon. Member because he moves all over with his questions.
The last question: first of all, these people are consultants. I explained it to him. They have never been relieved of their consultancy role. Their contract is up in July. They are paid under this vote.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Chairman, when we were discussing the Minister's estimates on April 15, I made reference to vote 68 and risked the displeasure of the Chair at the time because we were, of course, discussing the Minister's first estimates.
At the time, I asked a number of questions which simply were not answered. I asked questions about the Stanley Knight affair and his colleagues who, of
[ Page 1965 ]
course, were fired. There seems no doubt on that, although apparently a short time ago the Minister was in doubt as to whether she had done it or not. I asked suggestions as to whether or not....
HON. MRS. DAILLY: What do you mean by that?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Earlier on you shouted across when he was mentioning, Madam Minister, they weren't fired.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: He wasn't referring to what you are talking about.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Well, let's deal with the Stanley Knight group and the questions that simply were not answered by the Minister in her replies on April 14 and 15. The first question, of course, is whether or not these people were treated in accordance with the standard procedure of the civil service; whether or not they were given their probationary reports according to the civil service practice and on the correct civil service forms; whether they were permitted a three-month period to pull up their socks which is granted to civil servants....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order! Hon. Member, that has nothing to do with vote 44. Will you stick to vote 44?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: It has nothing to do with research and development? The whole division was canned and you say it's got nothing to do with vote 44! Read it! Senior officer 4, senior officer 1, administrative officer 6....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. Member, this vote is for the ensuing year.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: That's right.
MR. CHAIRMAN: It has nothing to do with last year.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: This money was put down for the hiring of Stanley Knight, and they even put in a promotion for him after drawing up the budget. They then bring out another document — "Education '75" — and then they fire him. If you are telling me that we can't discuss the money that was put aside for a man and his friends who were fired, the money that was put aside to promote them, and then after that they were fired. And we can't discuss that? Let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, you're making absolutely historical decisions in the British Commonwealth parliamentary system! Absolutely historical!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you relate your remarks directly to the vote, Mr. Member?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Yes, directly to the vote. These people have been fired. And if they're fired there's no need to keep them on this vote 44 and no need to vote the money, and the vote should be pulled by the government.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That point was made by one of your colleagues, and answered.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: It'll be made again and again until we get an explanation from the government. You, Mr. Chairman, should stop trying to defend the government on a thing as blatant as this! You're not here to defend the government.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please relate your remarks to the vote.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: You're here to be an impartial Chairman!
MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm here to enforce the rules and I would ask you to confine your remarks to vote 44.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Then enforce them impartially. We have vote 44 right here. It deals with senior officer 4. The reason it's a senior officer 4 is because they put aside extra money to promote Stanley Knight. Got it? Understand? That's what it's there for, and that's the first line in vote 44.
Let me tell you, Mr. Chairman, if we cannot discuss in estimates the money that is here to be voted on which was put into that estimate book to hire people such as Stanley Knight who were hired up to just a few weeks ago, you'd better stop having the government ever again mention what happened by any previous administration! If your rule holds, Mr. Chairman, every single Member of the government and the government front benches has been out of order 90 per cent of the time in this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would you please now return to the vote?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: I'm fed to the teeth with you trying to pretend that this vote does not refer to Stanley Knight and his colleagues in the research and development division.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Can we now return to the vote, please?
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: We have been on the vote all along.
[ Page 1966 ]
Mr. Chairman, at the time back in mid-April when I first raised this issue with the Minister, we questioned whether or not the correct procedure had been followed in firing these people. We questioned whether or not they had been treated in accordance with the normal practice of the civil-service in dealing with people on probation, and we discovered that they had not. The Minister at the time simply said "Oh, well I couldn't answer that question." There was no defence then such as you're putting up now — the phony defence you're putting up. There was no defence like that then. She simply said: "Oh, it would prejudice their rights to grievance."
So, Mr. Chairman, I then received a letter in the House which the Minister also received a copy of — it was originally addressed to her and I received a copy — from Stanley Knight to the Minister and I read it to the House on April 15. I'm quoting it again, because it puts paid to this idea that somehow you cannot refer to this particular issue which you were trying so hard to ignore, Mr. Chairman. He stated:
"It has come to my attention that debate in the Legislature related to education has been restricted by a concern for jeopardizing the grievance rights of myself and former members of the research and development division. All of us are very grateful that the government is concerned that due process and natural justice should prevail.
"There are a great many people in our society who have a great deal of faith in democracy. However, they are finding themselves increasingly dismayed at how easily the democratic process can end."
We've discovered that in this House, Mr. Chairman. The democratic process can end with the marking of a ballot and the closing of a government caucus door. If responsible government is to prevail, then information must be provided to the people.
Dr. Knight went on: "I've always supported your public request" — that's the Minister's public request — "for open and frank discussions" — open and frank discussions! — "in order that everything will be perfectly clear."' And what better place for the debate than the floor of the Legislature where Members are protected by the privileges of the House: a great feature of the democratic process?
He goes on to point out that he has nothing to hide. I'll quote him:
"I have nothing to hide. Do not restrict yourself, your government or the opposition from any debate which you think may jeopardize the status of the research and development grievance procedures."
Those are his very words.
He raised a number of questions for the Minister to answer; and I'll again continue to quote from the letter.
"While employed in the Department of Education I attempted to live by the terms of reference of my job description and discharge my duties with the greatest sense of responsibility and integrity."
We know what that division was responsible for doing. They had the White Paper on education to handle, to look at — each a different section.
Continuing the quote:
"If you feel that you have some privileged information that needs to be tabled in the House you have my permission to do so. Possibly it could be the research and development paper on the formation of the White Paper study groups, which was rejected by the Minister, the Deputy, the superintendent of education programme and other senior officials.
"Why is it that you and all of the senior officials of the department believe that the social and economic factors in a community are not important when designing local school curricula or considering the organization and management of local school districts? Is it contrary to government policy to suggest that curricula of schools are compartmentalized, biased, in many ways irrelevant and therefore should be seriously analyzed for improvement?"
I'm glad to see that one Member of the government side is applauding that statement. (Laughter.)
"There are many other questions which should be discussed openly and frankly if the Legislature and the public are ever to understand the relationship between the R&D division and the educational policy of the government. These are fundamental questions. For example...."
Dr. Knight then gives us a number of questions.
AN HON. MEMBER: Barrett's put Emery on waivers.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: He goes on:
"Why do we have schools. Is it a violation of government policy to attempt to answer what used to be a traditional question in a contemporary manner? Is it a violation of the government policy to analyse the relationship between education and labour?
"2. Why are the literacy skill levels dropping?"
And they are dropping, Madam Minister; they're dropping rapidly.
"Previously we were ahead of most American jurisdictions; we've now fallen behind. Was the R&D group wrong in suggesting that for many of your youth the prospect of future
[ Page 1967 ]
unemployment was influencing their motivation for formal education, surely a very good field for study? Were they wrong in designing a project that would attempt to determine if the erosion of literacy skills in our institutions was directly related to an indoctrination procedure and the historical failure of the schools to prepare people to live worthwhile and meaningful lives?
"3. Were the R&D staff being unreasonable when they wrote their papers on grants and insisted that the Department of Education should not give funds to private or public institutions or agencies without first negotiating a contract or letter of agreement as to objectives, commitments, responsibilities and evaluations?"
I depart from the text, Mr. Chairman, to say that that refers precisely to the point raised by the previous speaker dealing with the Strathcona experiments.
"4. Is it unreasonable to suggest that accountability demands that the educational value of a project such as the Strathcona programme be determined prior to the approval of funds in order that justification on the basis of post hoc analysis can be avoided?
"5. What is the government's real policy on community participation?"
That's something we've heard a great deal about from the NDP, and the research and development argument that those people who are affected by decisions should be part of the decision-making process.
"6. Does the government support the shoddy management practices of the Department of Education which include" — and this is what I referred to previously, Madam Minister — "questionable hiring practices, illegal firings, intimidation of employees, the ransacking of desks, the seizing of records, use of security guards and, finally, bad advice to the Minister?"
Mr. Chairman, the question is here: was the research and development division really a scapegoat for no educational policy?
"9. Is the White Paper still the government's educational policy? Why were the job descriptions for the R&D personnel directly related to the White Paper on education?
"10. Why didn't the Deputy Minister of Education evaluate the work of the dismissed research officers in the usual manner by using the normal civil service commission evaluation form?
"11. What policies were being constructed of implementation by the R&D staff?"
The Minister has been challenged to back up his public charge specifically.
"What did the R&D staff do that was incompatible with government policy?"
File the evidence and present the information. To date, despite more than two weeks since debate in the House first started, we've had nothing at all.
"12. Explain how the research and development division functioned as an autonomous work group, distinctly different from the other autonomous divisions of the Department of Education.
"13. Tell the House why you had a research and development division for seven months, three weeks, three days and five hours."
The final question is:
"Does the government have an educational policy?"
Stanley Knight went on to say:
"You have my full permission to discuss any of the above topics or other related information. I would not want to think that the public or the House is denied information or the opportunity for open debate about such an important issue as the current condition of the educational enterprise because of my grievance procedure. I urge you to hold, in your words, 'an open and frank debate' on the floor of the House."
That's a letter that was signed by Stanley Knight, and all these questions were raised and all these questions are still valid because none of these questions, Madam Minister, have been answered. If there is any place for these questions to be discussed, it's under vote 44, where you have your salaries, $340,746, the salaries of the people in the research and development division.
The Minister and her department thought enough of these people to promote some of them when they were drawing up the estimate book. Then they're fired, apparently for incompetence or incompatibility — we're not sure which.
The time has come for the Minister to say why an entire division was canned. If we're to vote money for a division which simply ended when she fired everybody in it, we should at least know what plans there are for reconstituting the division as well as knowing whether or not we're likely to experience the same disastrous series of events, if indeed, new people are appointed.
Vote 44 approved.
[Mr. Dent in the chair.]
On vote 45: Universities Council, $406,000.
MR. CHABOT: Just a few simple questions, Mr. Chairman. I look at this vote; it's a new vote — $406,000. It's about the equivalent of the vote of the Minister of nothing from Fort George (Hon. Mr. Nunweiler). I wonder if the Minister could tell me
[ Page 1968 ]
what the responsibilities of the universities council are. Is it a buffer between the universities and the Department of Education so that any flak coming from the universities won't come directly to the department? It'll be directed towards the universities council.
I wonder what the allocation of this $406,000 is for. Is it primarily for salaries and stipends? What is the salary of the chairman of this universities council? What is the salary of Ran Harding, the former Member of Parliament of Kootenay West? Is he paid a salary, the defeated Member of Parliament for that riding? Is he paid a daily stipend? If he's paid a daily stipend, how much is his daily allowance and how much is his projected annual allocation from this fund?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Most of those questions were all published or could be answered from the order-in-council which was published. I can give you the order. As you know, the universities council — I don't have all the details here — certainly involves salaries to a considerable degree of the executive and the chairman. But the others are paid by honorarium, not salary.
Secondly, I'd like to point out that this universities council is not only acting, to quote your words, as a buffer.... We don't consider it to be a buffer. We consider it to be a very rational way, as most other provinces do, in deciding how university moneys should be expended to the universities. They are also doing research in the area of student housing; they are assisting in working with the colleges and articulation committees.
I'm sure that if you wanted to meet with Dr. Armstrong at any time he'd be pleased to meet with you and fill you in on the excellent programmes which the universities council is doing for the universities and for all those who are connected with the universities of this province. We're very pleased with the functioning of this council in the very few months that it has been in operation.
MR. CHABOT: Just another question. I believe, if my memory serves me right, that the chairman is getting approximately $50,000 as an annual salary. That takes quite a bite of the $406,000. You suggested that a substantial amount of it is for research. I'm not sure just what the composition of the council is or just how many people are on the council. I don't recall just what the daily stipend is for the former NDP Member of Parliament, Ran Harding. Is it $250 a day or is it $300 a day? How many days do you expect...?
MR. CHABOT: Pardon?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Neither.
MR. CHABOT: Well, okay.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. CHABOT: I've asked the question already and the Minister suggested that it wasn't relevant, so I'm asking now. How often does the universities council meet? Does the universities council meet 300 days a year at $200 a day or $300 a day, whatever the amount is? Could this possibly come to a total of $60,000 or $40,000 for a member of the universities council? What portion of this $406,000 will be absorbed by stipends and salaries? What portion will be a part of the research that you mentioned a few moments ago?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: The total for salaries of the chairman, which you already mentioned, the executive secretary, research officers, who are doing the research work, clerks, stenographers, et cetera is $205,000. I understand that there are two meetings a month. No matter if you're on a school board, council or universities council, there are probably a number of subcommittee meetings also. So I can't give you actual figure, but they certainly aren't meeting every day. Most of the people appointed here have regular jobs also. It's the same as a school trustee, I suppose, if you break down the number of hours of work.
MR. CHABOT: You must have a projection of the cost of the management of this universities council.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: $205,000.
MR. CHABOT: $205,000? So 50 per cent of it is absorbed by the board of management of the universities council.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: No, no. Excuse me, that part takes care of the executive secretary and the research officer. They are the ones assisting in doing the vital research work for the chairman of the council. So I wouldn't say you were correct in that.
MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, she says $205,000 is for those people involved in research, instead of $205,000 being directed towards the salaries of those people who are the management of the universities council. So that leaves $201,000. There isn't too much difference. It leaves approximately $201,000 for the management of this universities council, for the chairman and the board; so there really isn't very much difference. You're quibbling on the $205,000
[ Page 1969 ]
figure. It leaves $201,000.
Now the Minister says that they have two committee meetings a month, and they have subcommittee meetings too. Some of these members can come from great distance. I would presume that their daily allowance would be $200 or $300 per day and would commence on departure, say, from South Slocan, or Slocan City. What would this come to for a Member, say, who lives in the Slocan Valley? What would be a projection for one of these members?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: The honorarium is $180. The figure I have here — I've found it now — for travelling, budgeted figure for travelling expense: $7,500.
Vote 45 approved.
On vote 46: post-secondary education and training, $268,994,000.
MR. SCHROEDER: Is this operating grants to universities?
HON. MR. LEA: Hit it, Oral! (Laughter.)
MR. SCHROEDER: Under operating grants to universities last year, the Minister of Finance made available to the universities special grants. If they could come to the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council and prove that they not only had legitimate needs but that they were putting to work innovative curriculum, or innovative projects, they could get extra and special grants. My question is, under code number 04601, whether or not these special grants are available again.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Could we have order in the House while the Hon. Member is speaking? I would ask Members both on the government side and on the opposition side to please be quiet while the Hon. Member is speaking.
MR. SCHROEDER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The reason why it's of major concern whether or not these people at the universities are able to get their operating grants is that they have had to look to other sources for operating funds. I see here in the university release of UBC reports, February 26, 1975, a schedule, schedule A and B, of housing costs that are going to have to be increased in order just to try and get a balanced budget. Here's high-rise apartments — it gives you the rents that have been involved. Present rates of $110 are going to have to go up to $114, and so on and so forth, The whole schedule is given where rent increases are going to have to be made, apparently to help balance an operating budget at the university. It's of major concern. Can they expect special operating grants this year as they received last year?
Not only that, I'd like to know, since it doesn't give us the information here, what special grants were given and, in total, how much the operating grants were to the three universities over the last year. Were the operating grants last year anything at all compared to the figure that's allowed for this year? One thing seems to be quite evident, and that is that this government is restrictive when it comes to post-secondary education. It's restrictive to the extent that the universities have to prove themselves to cabinet so that they can get enough money to operate.
I have other questions on grants to colleges, but I want to confine these questions to the operating grants to universities. Has the Minister answers for me?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: The special programmes you were talking about. No, there wasn't a special sum of money apportioned this year for those. The universities last year were asked to include them in their operating budget for this year.
MR. SCHROEDER: How much were they? Do you know?
HON. MRS. DAILLY: The grants last year? I believe they were in the area of $4 million for special innovative programmes.
MR. SCHROEDER: A follow-up question. The reason why I am concerned is because we were discussing a little while ago, under vote 44, a gross amount of money that is being wasted in research. Yet at UBC the faculty has to depend on various sources, both federal government, provincial government, and then from private, industrial and foundation sources, to gather enough money for their own research. Still, the total only amounts in the year 1973-74 to something like $15 million.
I am wondering whether or not the Minister has given due consideration so that money could be allotted that has been wasted under research to universities so that they could have these funds for their research. I understand that the department's research has to do with curriculum and the operation of the department itself. This research is likely scientific research. But, research is research. If we are wasting money in one area, as in vote 44, shouldn't we redirect those funds so that the people at UBC would at least receive from the government some vote of confidence that says: "Hey, fellas, you are doing a good job over there. Here are some extra bucks that
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the Minister has saved by not hiring research assistants under vote 44."
Let's see whether or not we can't give these people the money they need. They really don't believe that we are for them over there. They don't believe we are for them.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would point out to the Hon. Member that it is not permitted to propose an increase in the vote, but it is permissible to propose a decrease.
MR. SCHROEDER: Oh, yeah, yeah.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Chairman, the universities were given $150 million this year, an increase of 26 per cent, which I consider fairly reasonable and a good contribution to the universities of this province.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the committee reports resolution and asks leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Barrett moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 10:54 p.m.