1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th
The following electronic version is for informational
The printed version remains the official version.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 1975
[ Page 2093 ]
Health department lists. Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2093
Status of Men and Women Amendment Act (Bill 75). Hon. Mr. Macdonald.
Introduction and first reading — 2093
Consumer education kit. Mr. Phillips — 2094
Environmental studies for proposed steel mill. Mr. McGeer — 2094
Funding of employment of students by small businesses. Mr. Wallace — 2095
Consumer education kit. Mr. Schroeder — 2096
Delays in prosecutions. Mr. Gardom — 2096
Committee of Supply: Department of Housing estimates
On vote 103.
Mr. Phillips — 2097
Hon. Mr. Nicolson — 2099
Mr. Smith — 2100
Hon. Mr. Nicolson — 2101
Mrs. Jordan — 2102
Hon. Mr. Nicolson — 2104
Mrs. Jordan — 2104
Hon. Mr. Nicolson — 2105
Mr. McClelland — 2105
Hon. Mr. Nicolson — 2107
Division on vote 103 — 2107
On vote 107.
Mr. McClelland — 2107
Department of Health estimates
On vote 64.
Mr. McClelland — 2107
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2108
Mr. Wallace — 2109
Mr. L.A. Williams — 2112
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2114
Mrs. Jordan — 2117
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2118
Mrs. Jordan — 2118
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2119
Mr. McClelland — 2120
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2121
Mrs. Jordan — 2121
Mr. Phillips — 2122
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2122
Mr. Phillips — 2123
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2123
Mr. Gibson — 2123
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2123
Mr. Chabot — 2124
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2125
Mr. Chabot — 2125
Mr. Wallace — 2125
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2126
Mr. Smith — 2127
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2128
Appendix — 2129
WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 1975
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. A.V. FRASER (Cariboo): Mr. Speaker, I don't have this honour very often, but I would like to welcome to this House today 45 pupils from the Pinecrest School from my home town of Quesnel in the Cariboo. These pupils are accompanied by their teachers, Mr. David Hudson and Mrs. Tina Quinn. Also, two of the parents are accompanying the pupils: Mrs. Jean Mack and Mrs. Diane Myers.
These students have travelled 500 miles by bus to see democracy in action. I would request all Members to behave themselves today.
HON. W.S. KING (Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, we have today visiting with us in the gallery His Worship Mayor Harding, in company with his brother Les, from the Village of Nakusp. I would ask the House to extend a warm welcome to them.
MR. H.A. CURTIS (Saanich and the Islands): Mr. Speaker, the strength of any political party is in its constituency associations, as you know. I'm very pleased today to be able to welcome and ask the House to welcome in the Members' gallery members of the executive of the Saanich and the Islands Social Credit Constituency Association.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, with leave of the House, I would like to make a statement — which I could make during question period, but I might take up time in question period.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was asked a question by the Hon. Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace). He asked me about a little black book. I described what I thought to be the black book that he was talking about. There happens to be two lists. The list the Member for Oak Bay was asking about was merely a list of anomalies — quite a benign list....
HON. MR. COCKE: The one that the Member for....
HON. MR. COCKE: Quiet, please.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
HON. MR. COCKE: The one that the Member for North Okanagan (Mrs. Jordan) would describe as a "malignant" list is a list that, as I said yesterday, I had ordered: that's a list of doctors who extra-bill, so that we establish whether or not they are making it a habit and a pattern. That one is for purposes that I described.
The other list that I should have been describing to the Member for Oak Bay was the list of doctors or billings that are relatively anomalous in that there is a different method of billing or that kind of thing that they have to do by hand instead of through the computer. As I described it, it is a relatively benign list. It has nothing to do with the other one that I described.
There are two lists now. You sorted one out that wasn't really ever made public before, Mr. Member. Well done!
MR. P.L. McGEER (Vancouver–Point Grey): How many names are there on the list?
HON. MR. COCKE: Quite a few. Not very many in contrast to the number of doctors, but if you take the two lists, the one that the Member for Oak Bay was asking about, some 20 or 30 possibly, maybe more, which have to be hand-done. The other one, I can't tell you. That I will be discussing with the association as time passes. Neither one of them is, to any extent, a large fraction of medicine in B.C.
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, they will be informed.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. May we get on with question period?
Introduction of bills.
STATUS OF MEN AND WOMEN
Hon. Mr. Macdonald presents a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Status of Men and Women Amendment Act.
Bill 75 introduced, read a first time and ordered to
[ Page 2094 ]
be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
CONSUMER EDUCATION KIT
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): I wish to direct my question to the Minister of Consumer Services. With respect to the consumer education kit now being circulated by the Minister's department, and being circulated to teachers in British Columbia, can the Minister tell the House to what extent and in what manner the Department of Education participated in the preparation of this kit?
HON. P.F. YOUNG (Minister of Consumer Services): I wish to thank the Hon. Member for asking that question. The Minister was given a kit a short time ago for her cognizance. My Deputy Minister was in touch with her Deputy Minister early last fall concerning our proposals on the teachers' kit. He was in complete agreement with the plan and with the development of the materials on the topic of advertising. The only new item in the package.... Everything else has been published previously, and it has only been brought together in the kit. The advertising project was jointly developed by this department and the provincial education media office of the Department of Education in Vancouver. We provided them with the funds to work on the text, the art work and the acquisitions of rights to several of the films that are used.
MR. PHILLIPS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Prior to distribution of the kit, can the Minister inform the House if the kit and its contents were discussed with any of the following: school board administrators, B.C. Teachers Federation or school trustees?
HON. MS. YOUNG: They were not discussed with any of those associations. We felt that this was under the aegis of the Department of Labour, and we dealt with the Department of Labour.
I'd like to read a letter....
MR. PHILLIPS: The Department of Labour?
HON. MS. YOUNG: I mean the Department of Education.
I would like to read a letter from the superintendent of schools for Surrey.
"Dear Ms. Bridgeman:
"Thank you for the consumer education kit. I have passed it on to Mrs. Buyers, our supervisor of instructions, special services, and have asked her to make appropriate arrangements to see that all teachers in our school district are aware of the material and how it can be used.
"Yours very truly."
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I really think that it is enough to summarize what information was given to the school boards, rather than reading out letters which otherwise could be tabled if the Member so requested.
MR. PHILLIPS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Contained in the kit is a bibliography of consumer education booklets recommended by the department. One of these is entitled: "Sue the B*st*rds." Since this is an American publication dealing chiefly with consumer court proceedings and small claims proceedings in American courts, under American laws, does the Minister consider this book appropriate or relevant in British Columbia?
HON. MS. YOUNG: I think, if the Member will read the particular item further, he will see that it says specifically there that it does not necessarily apply to British Columbia, and they should seek other authorities.
I would also point out that in the bibliography there are 20 Canadian references and 21 American references to various topics on consumer matters, including articles from Fortune magazine.
FOR PROPOSED STEEL MILL
MR. McGEER: A question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Economic Development. Now that we know the government is considering a steel mill for four million metric tons a year, I would like to ask the Minister whether there are environmental studies that will give communities considering accepting this steel mill an idea of the extent of pollution that it will create.
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Economic Development): Mr. Speaker, as was announced some time ago — last September when the studies were being commenced — phase one of the studies would be a subjective review of several sites in and around the province.
Phase two, which is going to be commenced later this month, will take into consideration the environmental impact, the social impact and other matters involving the economics of such a steel mill.
In keeping with that, we hope to have a full public dialogue when the information from phase two is available so that the communities that are on the short list of sites that may be chosen for such a mill will be fully apprised of those facts and be able to
[ Page 2095 ]
give us their opinions about whether or not they can manage such an establishment within their community.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of question period the Hon. Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips) introduced a subject to the Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Ms. Young). The Hon. Member for Chilliwack (Mr. Schroeder) had a supplementary which the Speaker did not recognize. We now have had the introduction of a new subject by the Hon. First Member for Vancouver-Point Grey, with supplementary questions allowed.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I think the obvious answer....
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Speaker, this happened last week. Would you please indicate whether in fact the Chair is going to recognize supplementary questions or not?
MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will do its best to recognize that it is a supplementary question being asked, and I will certainly return to the Hon. Member for Chilliwack. I am sorry that he escaped my notice.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the Minister of Economic Development. In the light of the Premier's statement that no community will have a refinery forced on them against their wishes, does the Minister's statement today that there will be environmental studies done and that communities will be entitled to give their views mean that no community will get a steel mill forced on them against their wishes as, indeed, the Minister himself indicated to Kitimat, as reported in the Northern Sentinel not too long ago?
HON. MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, the article that appeared in that newspaper was referring to public hearings in communities.
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): You said you didn't like them.
HON. MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the communities in which a steel mill may be established, if there's not cooperation from the community and the labour force and the business leaders of that community to operate a steel mill, certainly it would be mad to try and put one there.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: May I take from the Minister's statement that we have the assurance now that the same policy will be followed in the case of the steel mill as the Premier enunciated in the case of the refinery, and that therefore a local authority has the final veto on the establishment of any steel mill in its general area?
HON. MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, no small community has a final veto on anything that this assembly or the Government of British Columbia may or may not decide.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!
HON. MR. LAUK: Certainly this government would be irresponsible if we did not take into consideration the opinions of a community in which we wished to establish either an oil refinery or a steel mill of a major size. It seems to me appropriate that this government, unlike the previous administration, listens to communities before establishing such projects. May I remind the opposition Members of the way that the Delta port at Roberts Bank was forced down the throats of that community without consultation? We're doing the opposite.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. May I take the Minister's statement today as the definitive government statement of policy...?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I think that the question is out of order, as the Member well knows. You're merely summing up what the Minister has said and asking him if that's what he meant.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I am asking him whether the conflict between his views and those of the Premier have been discussed and whether or not the latest statement represents government policy.
FUNDING OF EMPLOYMENT OF
STUDENTS BY SMALL BUSINESSES
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Labour a question with regard to government funding for student employment by bona fide businesses. What procedure does the Minister employ to screen applications and ascertain that the applicant is a bona fide small businessman?
HON. MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, we have a local committee in each region of the province which screens applications and makes recommendations for acceptance or rejection.
My department has received applications for funding from virtually every Social Credit constituency association in the province. Only in one instance, in the case of Prince Rupert, was that local association registered as a non-profit society. As such,
[ Page 2096 ]
their application was recommended for acceptance by the local chamber of commerce. Fortunately my department was able to determine that although they were registered as a non-profit society they had not in fact submitted a report since 1971 and hence they were not in good standing.
I want to assure the House that as a matter of policy the Department of Labour will not consider the funding of any political organization.
AN HON. MEMBER: That's not the question he asked.
HON. MR. KING: I view these applications most seriously. We have had a statement from the president of the provincial party indicating that this was simply a test to determine whether the department was on its toes. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that's akin to pilfering a store to test the security of that store, and I think that's an irresponsible position to take.
I want to say further, for the edification of all Members of the House, Mr. Speaker, that I view this matter so seriously — where certification is provided by all of the local presidents of the Social Credit constituency associations that they are in fact a bona fide small business when that appears to border on a false statement at least, and almost a fraudulent application for government funds — that I intend to ask the Attorney-General's (Hon. Mr. Macdonald's) department to consider what action the Department of Labour should take in this matter.
MR. WALLACE: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Since the party concerned has chosen to publicly come close to making accusations regarding my particular position in this House and relating the funding by government of political activity to this specific measure, could the Minister give the House the assurance that at no time was I involved in any discussions on this issue and, furthermore, that this is not...
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): Mr. Clean.
MR. WALLACE: ...related to the subject of the Act which the Premier has stated he will be bringing in related specifically to election expenses.
HON. MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly do that. I can say further that I anticipated that this might arise today, and had it not (laughter).... Mr. Speaker, I find it somewhat peculiar that the official opposition, who are supposed to have the stated purpose of scrutinizing legitimate government expenditures, would not themselves have raised the question on this matter. But I did anticipate a question from someone who is validly concerned with public expenditures, and had there not been one, I intended to ask leave of the House to make a statement on this matter. The Member for Oak Bay certainly had no part in that. I can assure him that this is an Act of the Legislature. The Special Employment Programmes Act was passed by this Legislature; the intent of it is clearly stated, and it bears no resemblance or relevance to the possibility of a special elections Act.
CONSUMER EDUCATION KIT
MR. H.W. SCHROEDER (Chilliwack): Mr. Speaker, back to the subject of the consumer education kit. Does the Minister agree with statements made by Rod Kerr, and quoted in this morning's paper, that the kit is strictly anti-business?
HON. MS. YOUNG: No, Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary.
MR. SCHROEDER: A supplementary. Could the Minister give an example from the material contained in the kit which would demonstrate her view that this kit contains a balanced presentation?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It becomes argumentative, and the kit speaks for itself, whatever it is. I don't know what it is, but it must speak for itself and is not subject to question period.
DELAYS IN PROSECUTIONS
MR. G.B. GARDOM (Vancouver–Point Grey): Mr. Speaker, I note from The Province a report that provincial court Judge Frank Dodding has refused to sentence a juvenile convicted of arson because of a lack of government facilities. The report carries on that another youth has been convicted of breaking and entering in the same incident, which razed a warehouse. The learned judge says: "I am wasting my time in court under this situation."
I would ask the Hon. Attorney-General just how long this outrageous situation is going to continue. Or is he prepared to order a moratorium on prosecutions, or enter stays? Or is he prepared to assure the general public that adequate facilities will be provided forthwith?
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): The government will be proceeding with dispatch to implement the recommendations of the fourth report of the commission of Mr. Justice Thomas Berger.
MR. GARDOM: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Hon. Attorney-General. How does this assist the situation in Merritt where the individual concerned was remanded and apparently is going to be continued to be remanded, and the judge says that
[ Page 2097 ]
there is no place to put this boy, who is a convicted arsonist?
HON. MR. MACDONALD: The fourth report deals with the necessity of some assessment, sometimes in close-custody circumstances, and it is dealt with extensively in that report.
MR. GARDOM: But it seems to me that here we have a situation...
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. GARDOM: ...of a judge requesting a facility. He's not requesting a report; he is requesting a place to have this juvenile put today — right now.
MR. SPEAKER: Sorry about that. It's the end of question period. It was one speech too many.
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): Thank you very much. (Laughter.)
Orders of the day.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Dent in the chair.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING
On vote 103: general administration, $2,939,174 — continued.
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Mr. Chairman, when the House adjourned last evening, 10 minutes ahead of time I might add, we were discussing the cost of the administration of this Department of Housing. We noted with some alarm that the cost of administering this department has gone from $301,476 last year to the staggering, astronomical figure of $2,150,674 — an astronomical increase. We noted that there is an increase in the personnel employed in this department from 44 persons to 184.
We are concerned because of the poor job done by this department last year. Are we to take the attitude that if something goes wrong with the policy or if the theory that the government is working on does not sell with the people of British Columbia, strictly by adding an additional 140 bodies will cure the situation?
Mr. Chairman, I don't think we need this many administrators to continue to shove up the price of land in British Columbia and take it out of reach of all of the citizens, particularly the younger people who are trying to provide housing for themselves. Not only do we have this astronomical increase in the administration, which is strictly for personnel, but we also have an additional $690,240 for salary contingencies, bringing the total for wages in this department this coming year to over $2.8 million. On top of that, we have additional expenses for office expense from $40,000 to $110,000, travelling expense from $2,500 to $140,000, and office furniture and equipment from $17,000 to $38,500. I just have to ask, Mr. Chairman: how many $92 stacking chairs are going to be purchased as office equipment? Advertising is $150,000. Printing and publication is $250,000. This brings advertising, printing and publications in this department close to $400,000.
Every budget we go through this year, we see large gobs of the taxpayers' money being used for advertising, printing and publications. After the waste of $731,000 by the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia in an advertising campaign to sell that corporation to the citizens of British Columbia, a campaign that totally failed, a campaign that was not needed in the first place because the people of this province have nowhere else to go for their insurance, why was it necessary to waste $750,000 on advertising the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia? Why is it necessary to spend $400,000 in the Department of Housing — to advertise what? Is it to try and cram this government policy down the throats of the taxpayers, using taxpayers' dollars to pay for the advertising?
As I have said in the Legislature before this session, taxes are bending the backs of the taxpayers in this province. How long will it be before the backs are broken? How long will it be, Mr. Chairman? I think this type of waste of the taxpayers' money has gone just a little bit too far with this government.
I for one have no faith or trust in the way that Minister administers his department. I am most unhappy about $400,000 of taxpayers' money being used for advertising in this department, advertising not necessarily to inform the public of where houses are available but advertising, printing and publications to try and sell the people on their way of becoming the serfs in this province, renting from the state and living in state homes. There is just absolutely too much of this type of extravagance and waste in the budgets of the various cabinet Ministers whom we are discussing here.
MR. G.H. ANDERSON (Kamloops): You said that yesterday.
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I would also like the Minister of Housing to explain to me, after the addition of 140 bodies in his department, after a sum of close to $2.8 million for salaries in this department, why we have an additional $100,000 for consulting services. Yesterday afternoon the Minister
[ Page 2098 ]
of Housing stood in this Legislature and talked about interest rates. How far would the money that this department is spending buying up land and on the administration of this department go if it were put back in the hands of those young people who want to buy homes?
How far would it go to relieve some of the high interest that Minister is talking about? How much greater help this would be to assist these people who want to buy homes, to assist them with acquiring land at a lower price. How much further this would go if it were used by the department to assist the municipalities in servicing land so that it could be made readily available for those wishing to acquire accommodation.
I'm afraid that in these estimates we have department after department with nothing but waste of the taxpayers' money. Waste and extravagance. How much of this money is going to be used for propaganda? Will there be ads by the Department of Housing in the Democrat? How much of this budget is going to assist in the publication of the government news? How much of this budget is going to assist the new information centre the government is setting up, which will be strictly a propaganda machine for the government? We have, time after time, in these estimates the government buying the people with their own tax dollars.
MR. D.E. LEWIS (Shuswap): How much was "Ask your government" that you paid for?
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): Attempting to buy the people.
MR. PHILLIPS: Attempting to, yes, and they're not doing a very good job at it.
Buying the people with their own tax dollars while school taxes go up, while property taxes go up, while the cost of hydro goes up, while the gasoline tax goes up, while the cost of natural gas goes up.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): While hot air goes up.
MR. PHILLIPS: I don't take kindly to the Minister of Health chirping and smirking when I'm talking about increased taxation because, unfortunately, we predicted in this Legislature that taxes in British Columbia under a socialist government would increase. That is exactly what has happened in the short two and a half years they've been in power in this province.
MR. LEWIS: It's increased in every province.
MR. CHABOT: Not to the degree that it has here. Almost as bad as Russia.
MR. PHILLIPS: Not only have taxes gone up, but the surpluses that were left to this government have been squandered on their ideological ideas.
MR. PHILLIPS: I notice the Minister of Consumer Services (Hon. Ms. Young) having a chuckle to herself. We went through her department where she tried to mislead this House on the number of persons she was going to hire in her department.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would ask the Hon. Member to withdraw the imputation that the Hon. Minister tried to mislead the House.
MR. PHILLIPS: Do you want me to say that she did mislead the House?
MR. CHAIRMAN: No, I would ask the Hon. Member, according to the rules, to unconditionally withdraw this imputation.
MR. LEWIS: Consider where it comes from.
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, I'll withdraw it, Mr. Chairman. We'll just have to consider the facts, and that's what we're doing. And that's what the people of British Columbia are doing — they're considering the facts. They're considering the value that they're getting for their taxes in this province. They're considering it well. You know, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you're not fooling the people of British Columbia. You're not fooling the people of British Columbia with your wanton waste of their tax dollars. They know what's going on in this government. They know the waste and the extravagance.
HON. G.V. LAUK (Minister of Economic Development): What was that again? You can fool some of the people what?
MR. PHILLIPS: You should know, Mr. Minister. You've been trying to fool people for two and a half years, you and your do-nothing department. You and your do-nothing department; you've been trying to fool the people ever since you got your portfolio. What have you done in your department? Absolutely nothing. How many jobs have you created?
MR. PHILLIPS: Stand up and tell us what you have done. You've done nothing!
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member return to vote 102, please?
[ Page 2099 ]
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I'd be happy to return to the vote, but would you mind drawing the cabinet Ministers to order?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Delighted. Would the other Members, and the Minister for Economic Development, please not interrupt this Hon. Member?
HON. MR. LAUK: I'm just trying to get his speech straight.
MR. PHILLIPS: Well, I just want to put on the record that it makes me sick at heart as I go through these estimates.
MR. LEWIS: Sick in the head, isn't it?
MR. PHILLIPS: Look at the waste of taxpayers' dollars in every department. As I say, here is a prime example: $400,000 for propaganda for the Minister of Housing. Glossy brochures with the taxpayers' money. How long do you think the taxpayers of this province are going to put up with this wilful waste?
MR. CHABOT: Not very long.
MR. PHILLIPS: If they were reducing the taxes, if they were giving service for the tax dollar, we could even take a little lighter view of this. But all of this wilful waste, waste and extravagance that we see in these estimates before us, is being foisted on the people of this province while their taxes are increasing.
MR. CHABOT: There's a red cloud over the Treasury.
MR. PHILLIPS: The Minister of Education (Hon. Mrs. Dailly) said that she couldn't reduce the pupil-teacher ratio because we were in a recession. As you look at the waste and extravagance — wilful waste and extravagance — in these estimates, you would think we were in a period of boom, not in a period of recession — not in a period where people are striving to pay their taxes, and having difficulty.
Maybe the Minister would like to try and explain why he needs $400,000 and why he needs an additional $100,000 for consultive services when he has added an additional 140 people to his department at an additional cost of over $2,500,000. There are additional costs of personnel, printing and publications to try and cram down the throats of the taxpayers of British Columbia the fact that he must buy up all the land and must provide housing for them without one single, solitary positive approach to reduce the most expensive cost of housing, the most expensive item, which is the land itself.
MR. PHILLIPS: There's the Member for Kamloops (Mr. G.H. Anderson) yapping down there, Mr. Chairman. I feel sorry for that Member, I really do. He really doesn't know where it's at.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. PHILLIPS: He really doesn't know where it's at.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would the Hon. Member return to the vote, please?
MR. PHILLIPS: I'll tell you, Mr. Chairman, the taxpayers in that Member's constituency will know where it's at.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member return to the vote?
MR. PHILLIPS: They'll know where it's at in the next election.
MR, CHAIRMAN: Order! Would the Hon. Member speak to the vote, please?
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I've voiced my opinion on this wilful waste and extravagance in this department, Now maybe the Minister will stand up, wiffle-waffle around and try and justify it. But it's waste and extravagance. I'll tell the taxpayers of this province exactly what this government is doing to them: increasing taxes and wasting their money at the same time.
HON. L. NICOLSON (Minister of Housing): Actually, most of these questions raised by the Hon. Member for South Peace River were asked last night by the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace). As I pointed out last night, there are considerable new programmes that were introduced by legislation last spring. The staff for implementation of these was not included in the estimates, as that was the procedure at that time.
The extension of the elderly citizen renters grant was a case in point. Last year it was made available to all renters in the province, not just elderly citizens. There was necessary staff with which to implement that programme.
The Conversion and Mortgage Loan Act. We're making conversion and leasehold mortgages. We're making many leasehold mortgages in small towns.
[ Page 2100 ]
Particularly because there's not an equity in the land, it is necessary to have very close building supervision when people are constructing their own homes, either by contract or by providing their own sweat equity, which a lot of them are doing. It's very commendable. In order to supervise that the investment of the Crown is properly secured, it has been necessary to implement staff. Last year we had in the estimates just the home acquisition branch that handled the home acquisition, the second mortgage at that time, the grants, also the homeowner grants — it made legal opinions and such on that — and the elderly citizen renters grant. There has been a tremendous number of increases in programmes so that 44 persons are presently 95 persons. There is approval for several other positions for regional branch officers; not all of them have been filled. So there is allowance for some increase in staff.
The matter of printing, publications and advertising. It is very necessary in bringing in programmes such as have been promised and for which legislation has been introduced. The renter's grant, for instance, will be changed to the income tax; yet it will be available to the elderly citizens. So that this can be explained, it will be necessary to have advertising for the widest possible dissemination of that information which is of vital concern to the people in the province and so that they can avail themselves equally, not just in the cities where there's talk on hotline shows but in the rural areas as well. There should be the widest possible dissemination of information.
When we decide at the request of some of the municipal councils to extend the deadline for the homeowner grant for people who perhaps through some fault of their own or not might have missed the deadline — we try to be reasonable and extend it as the Act originally intended might be done — we have to advertise this as well. It's in the interests of the people.
We have many requests for the booklet, "Housing for People." The SPARC organization outlines some of the programmes that the provincial government and the federal government and other agencies are providing in housing. They outline the information and the brochures that can be brought in. It saves a great deal of staff time. Rather than answering everything individually, things that tend to be repetitive can be answered. When you consider today the cost of writing letters and such, I think it's a good investment to have a good informational package for people that outlines our programmes and how some of these programmes dovetail with Central Mortgage and Housing programmes and the records in this particular area.
I do not plan that we will be taking out an ad in the Democrat.
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): We've listened to the Minister trying to justify the increase in this expenditure in this particular vote 103. One of the reasons he's given, just before he took his seat, is the fact that he now has to administer the elderly citizen rents grant and for that reason there had to be a build-up in staff. While I don't intend to reflect to any great extent on the vote, I would have to query the Minister and ask him why he has to build up staff in that particular department when the vote this year has been reduced from $12 million to $4.5 million. Why do they need more staff to administer one-third the number of grants that were provided for in the budget last year?
Now I'll get back to vote 103, which deals with this specific instance. So quit running red herrings by the House, Mr. Minister. Quit running red herrings by Members of the opposition, because that's all you have done since we started debating your portfolio.
If I had to view one portfolio of government and point to it as the greatest disaster perpetrated on the people of this province, it would be this one — unless we dealt with Mines and Petroleum Resources, but then we've got a Minister who is probably over the hill and at an age where....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I think the Hon. Member is returning to a consideration of vote 102.
MR. SMITH: No, I'm not.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would remind him to ask detailed questions on vote 103.
MR. SMITH: I'll get on to vote 103, Mr. Chairman, if you will bear with me for just a few moments.
We have a vote which indicates an expenditure of $2.9 million, a tremendous increase from the year before when the total vote was $360,000. Let's take a look at it.
Under the vote there are 25 different categories which are new this year as compared to last year. I think that all the Members of this House would be prepared to accept some of that increase in the number of votes, and some of those appointments, if there was an indication that this department had done a job for the people of the Province of British Columbia. They haven't. It's been a disaster. So we must ask why the Minister thinks he has any right to request those types of funds when he has no proof or indication that his department has the ability to do the job for the people in this province.
Twenty-five new categories. Let's take a look close to the bottom of page L 110. There's a completely new category of 25 new clerk-stenographers 3 for a do-nothing department at a cost of $218,400 to the
[ Page 2101 ]
people of this province. It's a do-nothing department, and yet he's prepared to hire, in one new category alone, 25 extra personnel.
There's half-a-million dollars' expenditure for advertising, for consulting services and for printing and publications. For what? Does anybody in their right mind think that we have to tell the people of British Columbia that there is a shortage of housing in this province? I don't think so. I think everybody is aware of that, particularly those who are looking for accommodation, particularly the young people who would like to have a home of their own. You don't have to tell them that, Mr. Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman. They already recognize that fact, so why the $0.5 million slush fund? For what purpose?
You don't have to advertise the fact that we have a shortage of housing; everybody already knows that. The true test of the operation of this department and the effectiveness of it in the minds of the people of this province will be when they produce one new home that was not presently on stream. To date we haven't seen that. We've heard lots of talk. The department has purchased a great deal of land, but in what respect does the purchase of companies and land have to do with the number of personnel that you anticipate you need to hire for this department?
No, Mr. Chairman, this whole vote, with the exception perhaps of $250,000, is a complete farce. It's padding. It has to be one of two things. It has to be padding built into the budget in order to give the Premier some breathing space if he needs it at the end of the year; or if this is in fact the intention of the Department of Housing, then everybody in British Columbia has been led down the garden path by that Minister, because to date he has given no indication to this House, to the public at large, or anyone else who is concerned about housing in the Province of British Columbia, that the appointment of these extra bodies and the hiring of these extra civil servants will do one thing to provide more houses for the people in this province. In that respect it is a disgrace, it is a farce; it shouldn't even be in here.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall vote 103 pass?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: I'm filibustering my own estimates, Mr. Chairman.
These people pop in and out of the House. I know that yesterday, and of course it was recorded in the press, a couple of Social Credit Members were left all alone in this House because they had driven the rest of their Members out. I know the public is concerned about that. If the Member can't hear answers to questions that have already been given twice.... I would have trusted that you had been listening on your speaker, at least, if you were in your office doing your constituency work.
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): We don't have speakers in our offices.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: As far as discussing these types of activities goes, for instance, Mr. Member, back in 1970-71 the activity of the home acquisition branch that administers second mortgages and such was about 1,806 approvals monthly of either the $500 grant or the $2,500 second mortgage or the $1,000 grant or the $5,000 mortgage. In 1971-72 the activity level was 2,200; in 1973 it was 2,400. In 1973-74 it was up to 3,100 per month. There has been an increase in activity just in those programmes alone as a result of enlightened policies such as extending them to Indian reserves and such as that. You see, we have made to date.... The Second Member for Vancouver-Point Grey (Mr. Gardom) asked about the number of acquisition grants, This increases the activity — the need for clerk-stenos and administrative officers and such which you find in there.
The $500 grants on older houses on Indian reserves is just one example of the increased activity requiring more staff under this vote. There were 225 on older houses for $112,500. The $1,000 grants on new houses on Indian reserves necessitated, since this government came, 1,306 grants. That is a total of 1,531 grants, or $1.418 million, Mr. Member.
Also, as I have explained at least twice now, the elderly citizens renters grant programme of last year was expanded. Renters' grants were made to all persons. We had to hire new staff who were not there last year.
Also, in addition to that, Mr. Member, the Conversion and Mortgage Loan Act making first mortgages made activity just within the home acquisitions branch.
Besides the expanded activity of the old programmes that were introduced by your government and expanded by our government, last year I believe there were 44 employees in that vote — this year there are approximately 60. We have a staff right now of about 35 in the development branch. These people include architects who are doing inspections of the tremendous amount of activity.
The budget which you had when you were in office for the elderly citizen renters grant was $1.5 million; we make that kind of grant to one project today, Mr. Member. We have to have architects and engineers on staff. We need more staff, qualified people, to look at these. These were done in-house in the old days by Public Works, but we have people in-house in the department to look at these.
MR. SMITH: You make that much money available under the renters' grant?
[ Page 2102 ]
HON. MR. NICOLSON: I am now talking about the Elderly Citizens' Housing Aid Act, non-profit societies, and supervision of architectural details and such in proposals. So we have an increased activity from about $1.5 million to about $12 million in that area, so it requires closer supervision. Those people come in the development branch — people who are taking part in the utilization of Central Mortgage and Housing funds.
I just had a phone call this morning from the Hon. Barnett Danson, who wanted to know where we could deliver, perhaps, more of these federal-provincial funds and how they could be expended. We need the kind of staff to respond to these. We have requests from almost every municipality in the province. We have to be able to meet with those.
In your riding, Mr. Member, we have to be able to respond to demands at Fort Nelson. I know they don't ask much of you anymore, except your silence. That is what they requested from you in an editorial after you had criticized the fine work being done by the Minister Without Portfolio responsible for northern. affairs (Hon. Mr. Nunweiler).
MR. SMITH: We'll see.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: They begged for your silence and that you just don't show up in Fort Nelson anymore, Mr. Member.
MR. SMITH: We'll see.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: In Fort St. John, where 40 units of public housing now, in conjunction with CMHC are being constructed....
MR. SMITH: What has that got to do with this?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Well, Mr. Member, we need staff people to look after these programmes. We are not just doing them in Vancouver anymore, Mr. Member; we are doing them up in Fort Nelson, up in your part of the riding. We need staff to follow through on these.
Right now we have 35 people in that development branch. As I've said many times, we have right now 95 of these people acquired. We also have approval for certain branch positions, so we can have branch managers in the north and in the Kootenay and Okanagan interior region. They will need the necessary secretarial staff. Certainly, we have good support in this from municipalities. Where we do have one of these people, I have had very good reports from the Kootenay area. Mr. Daniels, hired in Cranbrook, is with the CMHC office. In other words, they are located in the same towns as the CMHC offices So, Mr. Member, this is the necessity for staff.
After all, when you are administering not really just the $69 million housing fund...but when you multiply those funds by the funds that are involved in Central Mortgage and Housing, we are involved in expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars. It's necessary that some small portion of that be allocated so that the funds are spent wisely and so that priorities are set.
We also have need-and-demand studies. We have staff who have prepared need-and-demand studies, keep these up to date, follow up, make visitations into these small communities and look at situations which can change very quickly in a small community. It's most necessary that we have this staff. There will be further staff positions required in the upcoming year.
MRS. P.J. JORDAN (North Okanagan): I really hadn't intended to enter into this debate, for a number of reasons, but when I sat here this afternoon listening to this Minister being soothed by the sound of his own voice, I could hardly believe that we could have such a situation in British Columbia. To hear this Minister defend the expenditures of his department in this Legislature has to be nothing short of a joke. Mr. Minister, the evidence of your actions out there is not an increase in housing in the private sector for people; it's an increase in expensive bureaucracy which is fumbling and burnbling over itself.
I will give you just one tiny example. You talk in soothing tones of an office in this area and an office in that area. Your office in this area is sitting next to an office of Consumer Services, next to an office of ICBC, next to an office and an ICBC claims area. Office after office after office by this government.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): Next to an empty office.
MRS. JORDAN: Next to an empty office, costing the taxpayers of this province money that they can ill afford for an image for the NDP. They want their money to go to services for people. Let's not forget the $38 million overdraw of ICBC.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member speak to the vote?
MRS. JORDAN: Maybe one day the Minister of ICBC will explain
why he paid $140,000 for a piece of $60,000 land in the Vernon
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!
MRS. JORDAN: ...which has not yet been used.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Would the Hon. Member speak to the vote, please?
[ Page 2103 ]
MRS. JORDAN: And if the Minister of ICBC (Hon. Mr. Strachan) would stay awake, he'd know that my colleague was referring to another purchase of ICBC land....
(Mr. Chairman rises.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would the Hon. Member be seated, please? I would ask the Hon. Member for North Okanagan to speak to vote 103. It's called general administration.
[Mr. Chairman resumes his seat.]
MRS. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think your sleight of hand with the button is just another example of NDP actions in this province. All I was going to say was that the Minister....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order! I would ask the Hon. Member to withdraw any suggestion that this is not done by anything except the House itself. This Chair is in effect the House, and I would ask the Hon. Member to respect the House.
MRS. JORDAN: I know that the Chairman is not a magician. But the Minister who was chattering should know that ICBC has purchased two pieces of land in the North Okanagan.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! I again ask the Hon. Member to speak to vote 103, general administration, Department of Housing.
MRS. JORDAN: Certainly, Mr. Chairman. But you could say almost the same for both these Ministers' departments, because they are both very poorly administered and they are both responsible for the frittering away of thousands and millions of dollars.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member speak in the singular, please? We are considering only the Department of Housing, vote 103, general administration.
MRS. JORDAN: It's almost unbelievable to the Members on this side of the House, but it would take two Ministers to create the chaos that the Minister of Housing has created in British Columbia. Perhaps we should at least acknowledge his ability to create the chaos capable of two Ministers all by his little lonesome.
MRS. JORDAN: No, I wouldn't accuse him of telling the truth. It's quite evident during these estimates that this is not one of the priorities of that Minister.
Mr. Minister, this multiplication of staff that, through you Mr. Chairman, the Minister talks about — he tries to soothe this House with the efficiency of his department. I'll just give him one example. And if I'm incorrect, I certainly stand to be corrected, because it would appear that either someone in the department is terribly stupid or, in fact, the bureaucracy is falling over itself — or perhaps a third alternative: it is stalling.
We have an instance in the North Okanagan where a group of people got together to try and undertake the development of senior citizens' housing, and it has been nothing but a matter of delay after delay after delay to the point where they are writing about revised plans to the department about the plans that they had before the revision. In one instance the department wrote back and criticized their plans for landscaping 3.5 acres of land when, in fact, the land was 2.5 acres.
This same group sent down revised plans that had been approved by CMHC, and the department wrote back commenting most severely and in a most critical way on their plans, which in fact were the plans before the revision. Now if it sounds a little bit complicated to you, Mr. Chairman, I suggest it's very complicated to those people and, in fact, to the architect involved.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would point out, to the Hon. Member that there is a distinction between asking questions and making charges. What applies to the Minister also applies to staff people. If the Hon. Member is making charges, they should be made by substantive motion. The Hon. Member should rather phrase it in the form of questions.
MRS. JORDAN: Yes. How much burnbling can go on in that department under this Minister's administration? I'm certainly not critical of the staff, because the staff can only reflect the type of administrative capabilities of its Minister. But this is just one example, Mr. Chairman, where there has been lack of communication.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, the Minister asked me if that is the Vernon Ukrainian Society. I find that a most interesting question because it only indicates to me that there must be another area of bungling going on in the North Okanagan in relation to his administration, because that's not the particular one I'm referring to at the moment.
Mr. Minister, there have been problems all along in many areas. But I'm particularly critical of this one at
[ Page 2104 ]
this time because there's a committee in one community that is waiting to hear from the department. There is an architect who is having to come down to Victoria, down to this office at the expense of the local people, in order to straighten out some of these problems and these misunderstandings. In fact, Mr. Minister, all have the feeling that either there is an incompetence that just cannot be justified because of your administration — and I suggest probably it's lack of direction on your part — or in fact there is an approach being taken by you as Minister of "don't tell the people the truth; there really isn't enough money, but we'll stall them along for awhile."
I would like to place my voice along with the other criticisms that it is not the staff and the number of staff that the Minister should be extolling; it should be how many houses, how many living units his administration is promoting in British Columbia. It should also be the efficient manner in which community-involved projects are handled. The Minister is very quick to criticize municipalities and regional districts and everyone else, but he's very, very slow to accept any criticism on the part of his own administration — and I don't mean for his staff, because this Minister must take full responsibility. Mr. Minister, I concede I was out of the House yesterday for a while, but I would like to know why, if in fact, he as Minister is keen on private home ownership....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I believe the Hon. Member is slipping back into vote 102, and I would ask her to be strictly relevant to vote 102 — that is, to the matters that are dealt with in vote 103.
MRS. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have much more to say; I'm just referring to the Minister's comments before I spoke. But why there hasn't been an increase in the home acquisition grant to young people, and why this government, in fact, has made it more difficult for first-time homeowners to acquire a home of their own, independent of government leases and government ownership....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. These matters are also out of order, and I would ask the Hon. Member to consider vote 103.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: With the Hon. Member it's.... You know, it's customary that when most Members have difficulties in their ridings they don't delay when they've been informed. Normally these non-profit societies, if they go to an MLA with some difficulty.... I don't think that they do it for political intent. I think they'd be most annoyed to know that you've delayed in informing my office of whatever difficulty there might be. I'm sure that if there is something, if we're informed of it, we'll take it up as quickly as possible.
Just last week I was in your riding, Madam Member, and I could have arranged an appointment to see these people personally with my Deputy, and we could have perhaps, if there is a difficulty.... Now even right now you haven't told me the name of that particular society. You know, there's more than one thing happening in Vernon. I'd be pleased, if you don't want to give the name here, if you'd write something or urge them to contact myself or my Deputy or Mr. Nuttall — whoever they've been dealing with.
I think the other matters are more or less under another vote. I can only say, if I can be just briefly as out of order as the Member, that we almost doubled the activity of the home acquisition branch. Therefore the amount of money going out has certainly gone up considerably.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Could we consider anything on any other votes under these votes?
MRS. JORDAN: I won't comment on the Minister's past comments, but I think the Minister's comments in reply to my questions are very typical of the fact that he's got so much staff — that he himself is so unaware of his administrative responsibilities — that they're falling over each other. Mr. Minister, your department is fully aware of this problem. If the Minister himself was in Vernon last week and wasn't made aware of this problem by his staff, I would suggest that they both need to learn that the riding of North Okanagan consists of a good deal more than Vernon, even though the NDP tend to think that Vernon is the only part of the riding, and that it was very much incumbent upon the Minister to be aware of this problem when he was visiting the area.
MRS. JORDAN: Yes, it was in Lumby. Your staff is fully conversant with it.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, say so! Mr. Minister, what do you think you're getting $48,000 plus $10,000 expenses a year for?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: For $1 million I wouldn't get a job as your mindreader, although you need one.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon.
[ Page 2105 ]
Member speak to the vote, please?
MRS. JORDAN: I consider that sort of comment by the Minister....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Would the Hon. Member speak to the vote? I would ask the other Hon. Members not to interrupt.
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, you're awfully testy this afternoon. You don't have to defend the Minister. He should — I'll admit it's doubtful — be able to defend himself.
Mr. Minister, I would gather from your comment that when you go into a constituency you don't either remember being briefed about the projects in that area or you don't bother to be briefed. The North Okanagan is not a terribly large constituency, although it's very diversified in its interests. At the most we have about six projects underway which relate to your department.
Maybe the Minister could confirm this, yes or no. Let me put it in the form of a question: does the Minister have a briefing on all projects relating to his department before he goes into a constituency? If he does, would he please advise me why he was not aware of this fact and why no effort was made to contact these people...?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order! The Hon. Member is straying away from vote 103.
MRS. JORDAN: Oh, Mr. Chairman!
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would ask her to deal specifically....
MRS. JORDAN: It's the administration of the Minister's department.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. It's not dealing with the activities of the Minister himself, which should be dealt with under vote 102, but rather the specifics of vote 103.
MRS. JORDAN: In the general administration, was the Minister advised by his staff of the number of projects relating to his department that were under discussion, underway or under observation in the North Okanagan before he went in? If so, why was the Minister not concerned enough to contact these people — the Lumby Senior Citizens' Society — when at the very time the Minister was in the valley, in the district, in the constituency, the people were waiting for a call from one of his staff?
Is the Minister going to answer?
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Madam Member, I am informed at one time or another of all the projects that are going on. I think I've been aware of all of the projects going on at one time or another in your area. We were not visiting Lumby; we went into Vernon. We went in for the specific reason of visiting the council and meeting some of the local builders and such in the area.
After this rather indirect approach, certainly there are some problems in the Lumby project — the proposed 44 units.
MRS. JORDAN: You don't have to give me the information; I know it.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: The land is being sold by the department to the society. We picked up the land costs, the interim funding for this. We do have to look at the eventual cost because it will be financed by Central Mortgage and Housing. It will have to carry itself at an area.... It certainly is in the matter of costs that there are some problems there.
MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, just a couple of questions for the Minister. I was interested to hear the Minister lecturing the previous speaker about how efficient his department is and how quickly he answers telephone calls. I might remind him of a problem I gave him some time back in December. I handed it to him, as a matter of fact, when we were on tour together of a project in Meadowbrook in Coquitlam and then wrote him again on January 23, because he never answered me and never gave me any indication he was doing anything, Then I attempted to phone his office later than that and wasn't even able to get through to the Minister. In fact, the secretary told me that there was no way that I could reach the Minister.
MRS. JORDAN: He was on holiday.
MR. McCLELLAND: Fortunately, Mr. Chairman, the Minister does have some staff who are capable and competent. I was able to reach some of his staff at least but certainly never a comment from the Minister whatsoever on this problem.
The Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) raised this question in the House earlier and the Minister promised to investigate it. It involves government second mortgages with regard to a condominium complex in Ladner. People are now being charged interest, going back a couple of years, for a project that was pretty marginal to begin with for the government to be getting involved in the financing. These people are now faced with pretty heavy debts. After having been given advice, apparently, that they should walk out of the complex, the Minister promised to investigate. I would just ask whether he has investigated and
[ Page 2106 ]
whether or not he is ready to make a statement on this whole question.
I'd like to comment for a moment on Burke Mountain and ask, with regard to the administration of the Minister's department, who really is administering the department. I'm sure it's not the Minister. I rather think it's the president of the Dunhill Development Corp. who really is the administrator in charge of the Housing department. I noticed the Minister making certain comments about the density and the amount of housing which will be going into Burke Mountain when it's done. The president of Dunhill comes along and says: "Oh, don't pay any attention to the Minister. Those are just broad breaststrokes that he makes, not something that'll ever be developed. You listen to me instead and I'll tell you what's going to happen in that development." I wonder in how many more instances Mr. Paulus, the president of Dunhill, tells the Minister what to do.
There's a serious concern in the Burke Mountain area and in Coquitlam as a whole about environmental....
HON. MR. NICOLSON: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. This has been thoroughly canvassed during vote 102. We're now on vote 103, general administration, and he's way off.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. On the point of order, I would ask the Hon. Member to relate all of his remarks directly to the vote that we're considering.
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, we're talking about the administration of the Minister's department, and the Minister is obviously not in control of the administration of that department.
It is interesting to me that last year the government took steps to force taxes up on vacant land and this year starts buying property. What kind of administration is that? It's a grand plan that this government has to establish a programme of confiscation of property through taxation. We've heard that from so many Ministers, and here we're doing it again. Coquitlam seems to be a priority area.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I think the Hon. Member does not understand the point. I would just refer him to standing order 61(2): "Speeches in the Committee of the Whole House must be strictly relevant to the item or clause under consideration." Under vote 103 there are a number of items listed. The Hon. Member should be referring to the specific items in this vote.
MR. McCLELLAND: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
I'd just like to close by asking one other question
[ Page 2107 ]
about whether or not the government and the Minister will give a commitment at this time that it will, when it's developing these properties in the Coquitlam area, whether it's Essondale or where....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Again, I would draw to the attention of the Hon. Member that the matters you are discussing really ought to be considered under the Minister's vote rather than under specific items under vote 103.
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, Mr. Chairman, I beg to differ with you. This is the general administration of the department. It deals with Deputy Ministers — all of the Deputy Ministers, as a matter of fact — Associates and housing management and property negotiators. It's pretty broad, and we're dealing with the entire department.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. McCLELLAND: I'd like to ask the Minister if....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Hon. Minister on a point of order.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: I think the question the Member is attempting to raise now could be brought up under vote 107, housing and development.
MRS. JORDAN: Are you directing the Chair?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Any Hon. Member is entitled to make a point of order. I don't think that it's against the rules of the House for any Member to make a point of order.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I'm ruling on the point of order that was raised by the Hon. Minister.
MR. CHAIRMAN: It's always the practice in committee to deal with an item under the most appropriate vote. On the point of order, I think the point of order is well taken in this case. I would ask the Hon. Member for Langley to deal specifically with the items in vote 103.
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, Mr. Chairman, if you wish me to deal with it in vote 107, I'll wait and deal with it in vote 107. That's easy. But I'd like an answer from the Minister on the other point that I raised with regard to the administration of his department.
HON. MR. NICOLSON: The answer to that, Mr. Member, is that I am having a very thorough report prepared. The matter goes back to 1969. It involves, I think, three different developments — at least, to my knowledge. There is one person working on this full time. I think it will take him a couple of weeks to get the report prepared.
Vote 103 approved on the following division:
YEAS — 28
NAYS — 13
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
Vote 104: elderly citizens renters grant, $4,500,000 — approved.
Vote 105: grants in aid of construction of homes for elderly citizens, $10,000,000 — approved.
Vote 106: grants in aid of special care homes, $2,000,000 — approved.
On vote 107: housing and development, $69,720,459.
MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, on the question of the development of housing in the area of Burke Mountain, and also in Essondale, which is apparently delayed somewhat now because of the concerns of Coquitlam council, I just wish the Minister to assure this House and make a commitment at this time that the government will be prepared and will act just the same as any other developer is forced to act within a municipal council.
This Minister needs to commit himself to a course of action by which the government will abide by all zoning regulations and public hearing requirements in the community before it is allowed to go ahead with any developments in that area.
AN HON. MEMBER: Or anywhere else.
MR. McCLELLAND: Well, or anywhere else, that's right — throughout the province.
The vice-president of Dunhill, John Northey, once again has been expressing what he calls real concern about the delay over the Essondale project in Coquitlam. We've seen this happening, with the Minister threatening municipalities that he will take some kind of action if they don't cooperate with him and the president of Dunhill threatening he will take some kind of action if the municipality doesn't cooperate with him. Now the vice-president of Dunhill apparently makes veiled threats against the municipality that if they don't cooperate then the municipality is going to face some kind of action.
So at this time I think that the municipalities need to know, Mr. Chairman, whether or not this government will behave like a responsible community developer, now that it is up to its ears in housing projects, or at least the planning of them — we've seen nothing but concepts, and in fact very few of those. Nevertheless, the government has to make a commitment this time.
Secondly, I think the people of Coquitlam have a right to expect the government now to release the environmental studies which have been done in the Burke Mountain area so that they know exactly where they stand and so that the municipality knows where it stands as well.
I think, Mr. Chairman, that now is the time for the government to make these commitments.
Vote 107 approved.
Vote 108: salary contingencies, $690,240 — approved.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
On vote 64: Minister's office, $96,345 — continued.
MR. McCLELLAND: I'll be brief. I want to go back what seems to be a long, long time when this Minister's estimates were up before for a brief afternoon sitting.
Mr. Chairman, the Minister attempted to gloss over the need for intermediate-care facilities in British Columbia by telling us that we didn't have to worry because there was $19 million available in the Human Resources department for intermediate-care facilities.
[ Page 2108 ]
Well, Mr. Chairman, that's really a cop-out, because it's there because it has been there before and because it is needed to take care of people who are in receipt of the funds from the Human Resources department to look after their needs. Whether or not they are in intermediate-care facilities, the chances are pretty good that they are getting those kinds of funds regardless of where they are today. So that $19 million is not a transfer payment, Mr. Chairman; it is a legitimate expense in a department, this time the Human Resources department.
The fact must remain that there is not one nickel in the budget of the Health department this year to provide for the intermediate-care facilities that are so desperately needed in British Columbia today. The latest report from the GVRD says that there are 3,500 beds needed now in the greater Vancouver area — not tomorrow or the next day or a week from now, but today. Yet not one nickel is in the budget of the Health Minister for the development of these kinds of facilities.
The intermediate-care hospitals that came on stream most recently were started in the previous regime of the Social Credit government with 150 beds in Victoria, 150 beds in Vancouver, 150 beds in Burnaby and 192 beds in Kamloops, of which 128 were considered to be personal care, and 50 beds are coming on stream, as I understand it, in Cumberland. Mr. Chairman, those are all apparently pilot projects which are now on stream but which are not being followed up.
Last year in the budget we had $1 million set aside for intermediate-care, which was little enough, and which had no hope of ever providing any ongoing programme, but this year we have not one nickel. Yet, as we have said and as other Members have said over and over again in this House, if there is one concern in British Columbia today in the field of health care, that's it — the need for that ongoing, vigorous programme to provide the care for those people who are caught in the squeeze, the people who aren't being provided for in the present health care delivery system and who are being penalized, both financially and psychologically, because the government isn't keeping up to the needs. So, Mr. Chairman, for the Health Minister to cop out by saying that there is $19 million available in another department is shameful and certainly a slap in the face of those citizens of British Columbia who had hoped for much more than they are getting now. There must be more alternatives made available, Mr. Chairman.
I understand as well — and the Minister, I am sure, will point this out in his response — that it's very necessary that Ottawa start living up to its commitment as well, that the national government share in these programmes which they so far have refused to share in even though they recognize the problem. But I think that the Minister and his colleagues have to start pressing Ottawa with far more vigour to share in these kinds of programmes. If Ottawa refuses to share in them, then we have to get back to some kind of solid planning in this province where we stop the waste, stop the contribution to inflation so that we can drag the money out of the economy to go ahead with it on our own if necessary. But we must get going on a programme of intermediate-care facilities right now.
It's not enough either for the Minister to say: "Well, we are going into home care." We know we are going into home care. We know that's a programme that's successful and is being developed, but we can't do it in isolation. We have to develop that programme along with the kind of facilities that are needed to look after those people who I mentioned earlier. So along with a programme of vigorous pursuit of Ottawa to get off the pot and start sharing in the costs of intermediate-care, we also need, Mr. Chairman, to commit ourselves right now to embark on the programme by ourselves, if necessary.
The money would be available if we weren't fanning the flames of inflation and if we weren't caught in an era of no accountability among many of the Ministers of this government and certainly caught in a web of waste in which we see the money, which should be going towards intermediate-care and other health care delivery systems, going to just keep the wheels of government turning and to keep the bureaucracy alive in British Columbia, The Minister, Mr. Chairman, shouldn't be allowed to get off the hook as easily as he did earlier because of his statement that we are proceeding with intermediate care, because it is at a standstill at the moment and we don't seem to be going anywhere.
HON. D.G. COCKE (Minister of Health): I don't think anybody really could have interpreted what I had to say during that other encounter as "glossing over." At no time have I glossed over the need for intermediate care in this province. As a matter of fact, I think if the Member was aware of the number of people who I have spoken to over the last three years, the number of speeches I have made on this whole question, he wouldn't really make that kind of remark.
His remark indicates that I showed the $19 million in Human Resources. What I want to tell you about now is what actually happened last year. We did have $1 million in our vote to pick up the losses on intermediate care. We found that it wasn't working out. As a matter of fact, it didn't work. Therefore the funds have been transferred to the Department of Human Resources. That's the department that is funding both the intermediate care on a basis of need and also the intermediate care as we have it in our
[ Page 2109 ]
pilot projects, where it is not necessarily predicated on need. So it's an area of health service that has been floundering, and it didn't begin floundering in the last two and a half years. It's been floundering for lo these many years.
We still have a real problem around extended care. It's been a major priority. This is, of course, the people in chronic care who are bedridden. We still can't satisfy that need as we would like to. We have had some significant problems in some areas in eliciting the assistance of regional districts and others to recognize the need. But for the most part now they are all agreeing, and we are going ahead. For instance, the Greater Vancouver Regional District has agreed that it's a priority. So now, all of a sudden, we have a flurry of building there — the Queen's Park hospital, the hospital at the UBC, the other extensions of extended care in the City of Vancouver and its environs. There is work being done.
As to how we shall deal with Ottawa on this whole question, as recently as yesterday or the day before yesterday we had four senior officials out from Ottawa to discuss our priorities, the intermediate-care situation and the possibilities and the probabilities of sharing. Work is being done in this regard. As I announced earlier at the last federal-provincial Health Ministers' conference, we did make some headway, which had not been the case heretofore. I am delighted that the headway has been made. We will, in my view, be making real strides in the direction of going into intermediate care.
I have also said on behalf of the government that with or without Ottawa, it is a priority with this government to the extent that we will go it alone. I have made that statement on a number of occasions.
AN HON. MEMBER: When?
HON. MR. COCKE: But certainly we elicit sharing on the same basis that other people are chronically ill receive it. There is a lot of work being done at the present time, Mr. Chairman, and I suggest to you that at no time has this government or my department or, for that matter, myself glossed over the significance of the need for intermediate care. It will continue to be a major priority with us.
I do want to say in passing, however, that it is interesting to hear a Member of the opposition indicate that we over here are fanning the flames of inflation by introducing new programmes and other matters such as that. I can just imagine, Mr. Chairman, if in fact we had introduced intermediate care to its fullest extent in the last few months, the hue and cry we would have had on this whole question of fanning the flames of inflation.
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, come on!
HON. MR. COCKE: We are talking about a significant amount of money.
Mr. Chairman, we are not backing off in any way, shape or form. Intermediate care will be delivered in the Province of British Columbia and is being delivered to the extent that we can now. But we will say this (Mr. Member, I think you know this; I am sure you know): without a good home-care backup programme, intermediate care is going to be an inflation factor the like of which neither you nor I would want to see. We must keep people in their own homes, the least alienating situation. We can only do that through a good home-care programme.
I must say that there is a complementary programme building in this province as has never been before. That is the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi) and his homemaker programme, and our own home-care programme, which includes physiotherapy, home nursing and other paramedical resources.
We are making progress in this province. We do recognize the needs of people and will continue to do so.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): The Minister really has been very general in his comments on the problem of intermediate care. I would like to try and be more specific for a few minutes. I think it is unreasonable for anybody to stand in this House and expect this government or any other government to solve the total spectrum of the different levels of care in one year or two years or maybe five years. But I think it is very reasonable to look at priorities that exist among all levels of citizens requiring some measure of assistance in home care or some level of institutional care.
I really feel it is a very valid criticism to level against this government that there are some dreadful injustices in the present system, even if you didn't spend another dollar. Frankly, this is my personal view: we have gone overboard in trying to help certain levels of illness, with the best of intentions. But politically the government refuses to take another look at the fact that we are making the situation very easy for certain patients and well-nigh impossible for others. The Minister knows what I am talking about. I am going to quote figures in a moment.
I would agree that the kind of money we could be spending at all levels of care is a bottomless pit. I think that has to be agreed. If we extended benefits right, left and centre, I agree that, as you say, the inflationary effects and the total cost would be enormous. What I am saying and what I think is a very reasonable proposition is the one I have reiterated many times. I wonder if the division between the sides of the House is ideological or if
[ Page 2110 ]
there is some other reason. The Minister can probably tell us.
To be specific, I am talking about the people right now who are in nursing homes in intermediate-care beds in this province, who are not on social assistance and who are paying the total cost themselves. Let's not talk about two or three or four or five years away or last year or last week; let's talk about today.
I am saying that anybody who is objective at all, who can look at the picture, will realize that I can go into an extended-care hospital or an acute-care hospital and pay $1 a day for one week, six weeks, six months. Yet if I happen to require that intervening intermediate level of care, the latest costs — I have just checked out today at Sandringham Hospital — are $600 a month and $550 a month at Glenwarren.
Mr. Chairman, regardless of how long we might argue about the longer concepts or the total spectrum of care, which would surely be our ultimate goal from all parties in this House, let's just try and focus on that group of citizens who really are not getting fair play in relation to the government assistance which is available to other levels of care.
Back in this House on February 10, 1971, the Minister, who was then in the opposition, said: "One of the sad facts of life is that illness and chronic health problems in many cases are unavoidable during the retirement years. We've repeatedly advocated government action to provide adequate chronic-care facilities in British Columbia. That need still exists and is still a top priority." That is a quote from this Minister four years ago, when he was in opposition.
I'm saying: could we not at least bring in some immediate legislation to cover those patients at least presently in the nursing home setting?
As I said earlier in the House, it's a very interesting study in Alberta. I'm not here to say that it's that government which now happens to be Conservative or whatever; many of the actions were started by the former Social Credit government, and I give them credit for that.
They went into a nursing home programme in 1964 and took the attitude, which the Minister outlined today, that if the federal government won't meet its commitment, we will go it alone. The Alberta government of that day took up that initiative. As recently as January of this year, the costs in the nursing home programme in Alberta were $11.75 a day per patient paid by the government and $3 a day paid by the patient.
This keeps coming back to the whole question of the total money in the system. We cannot afford to pay every dollar of every hospital cost out of government revenue. If we accept that premise, then certainly we will not be providing nearly rapidly enough or in total quantity the facilities that are needed. Therefore I plead again with the government to follow the suggestion of your own Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi) and move the money around. If some of the people who really could very readily afford to pay a little more than $1 a day put some money in the pot for the people who aren't getting any help at all, surely this is just an equitable measure to try and bring about fair play for the people presently in great need who are not getting any help.
In the last debate the Minister stated that the costs were enormous; I think he quoted a figure of somewhere around $100 million. I want to say that the kind of care that costs $14.75 a day in Alberta, multiplied by the 6,000-plus-or-minus patients, which the Minister has mentioned in the addendum to the budget, adds up to $30 million a year.
If this government believes we can subsidize automobile insurance to the tune of $34 million, and that's exactly the sum of money that's required to look after the 6,000 patients who need the nursing home level of care, I just say that in my particular book surely that $30 million should not be an overwhelming obstacle for this government to finance, either out of its existing revenues or in a rearrangement of its priorities, or by changing the patient contribution at certain other levels of care such as extended care and acute care.
I notice again that in Alberta at one time they had a charge in the acute-care hospital for the first 10 days. If the patient needed more than 10 days of care, the charge was dropped.
[Mr. Kelly in the chair.]
There are various ways, in my view, that some patient contribution of funds is not at all unreasonable. After all is said and done, Mr. Chairman, if the principle of any sum of money, whether it was $1 or $2, was correct at the initiation of this programme, the principle is correct in 1975. It's just that the value of money has dropped by 50 per cent and costs have risen by three times, or whatever the figures are. The fact is that this $1-a-day charge is now a farce — an absolute farce. It does not contribute anything other than a bookkeeping cost and little more. One dollar a day when the accurate cost in an acute-care hospital gets close to $85 or $90....
Either you might as well scrub the dollar a day completely and save all the bookkeeping costs and problems of collection sometimes or make the actual contribution a realistic fraction. That kind of money would then be available to close this gap of $30 million for 6,000 intermediate-care patients.
I'm being oversimplistic by quoting these figures, I realize that; but these up-to-date costs in Alberta: $14.75 a day. The Minister has calculated, according to the addendum that was on the budget, that there
[ Page 2111 ]
are about 6,000 patients in need. I'm not too far off in these figures, I don't believe.
The question that should be resolved is whether we can move the money around in having certain patients contribute more in other ways or in other amounts so that the intermediate-care patients have some realistic help. I don't want to belabour the point further this afternoon, but I wonder if the Minister, who at one time had said that he felt that $5.50 a day would not be an unreasonable figure.... And we have had the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi), in reply to me during a debate on his estimates, mention that there was some rearrangement of charges to patients on Mincome in extended-care hospitals. I don't know whether the Minister would care to go into more detail on that, but the Minister of Human Resources did state that they were reconsidering whether or not a person on Mincome should perhaps contribute more than $1 a day in an extended-care hospital.
Very quickly, I just want to refer to the fact that in the last seven years in Victoria we've had an increase in extended-care beds of about 194 beds, but at the same time we've had an estimated increase of 33,800 patients.
I agree with the Minister in taking over modern facilities, as he has done. I might interject and say that he suggested at one time that I was in favour of the commercial private ownership of hospitals for profit. I have to deny that and make it plain that I've never believed that was an appropriate place for commercial investment. I don't believe it now.
At any rate, by taking over these facilities and creating extended-care beds, there are, as the Minister knows, some of these patients who do not qualify for extended care. They have to be moved or there's pressure on them to move, and any pressure on an elderly person to be shifted around from one place to another is a thoroughly undesirable influence. I hope that the regional board in this area will certainly get ahead as rapidly as possible with the 150 extended-care beds to be built on the Glengarry site.
On that same subject, I would like to ask the Minister just a quick question on the peninsula hospital. Since we last debated the health budget, the health and planning advisory planning commission to the capital regional board has made its decision, after consultation with Agnew Peckham Consultants on the peninsula hospital. I would like to ask to what degree the Minister is now involved in the functional plan, I understand that in the last two or three weeks there has been some lack of clarity as to just exactly how much the Minister's office will be involved in expediting the functional plan. We waited this long for the addition to the peninsula hospital in Saanich and it would be tragic if we can't just go ahead at a very rapid clip now. The land is there, the servicing to the land is there, and the actual development of these 75 acute-care beds should be a fairly straightforward project from this point onwards.
One or two of the other points I'd like to raise quite quickly relate to a subject which the Minister struggled with for many years, I realize, and it's the whole problem in podiatry in this province at the present time. I don't propose to give a long outline of the total problem, but the astounding thing to me is that when we're emphasizing the economy and the validity of paramedical personnel of various kinds, and when we're living in a population where the number of people over 65 is steadily increasing, and where the whole problem of the health and the functional ability of the feet is so important to elderly citizens, and when we have some elderly citizens with failing eyesight trying to look after their foot care and cutting their toenails, and instead of that they cut their foot or their toe and get an ulcer and finish up in a hospital bed, then it makes a lot of sense that we should be looking at the whole field of podiatry to see if we can at least make the service available and encourage training of personnel.
The sad truth, as the Minister knows, is that we have no podiatry training facilities anywhere in Canada, Worse than that, the present regulations, as they're interpreted by the podiatry association, are to the effect that only those who have taken the training in certain centres in the United States are given a licence to practise podiatry in the Province of British Columbia. I don't propose to get into a long debate as to how one decides on the quality of training in other centres, but this, essentially, is the problem; we have no training centres in podiatry in Canada.
There are individuals who have immigrated to Canada, with training in other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom and elsewhere, who have the most immense difficulty, it seems, in having a fair opportunity to have their training evaluated and obtain a licence to practise their training here in British Columbia. I wonder if the Minister could maybe make some note on that, simply because there have been pages and pages of communication over the last several years.
When you try to look at it objectively, it does seem as though there is some room to either try and start some training facility or introduce podiatry at our vocational schools or colleges. At least, since we're sensitive, and naturally so, about our own national identity and our provincial identity, it seems to me that training in podiatry should not be a difficult course to introduce at the appropriate level of our post-secondary education facilities. I think the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister of Education, would really be creating a tremendous boon to the kind of services available to the elderly citizens if podiatrists could be trained in our own province and we could get away from all this bitterness and haranguing which goes on between
[ Page 2112 ]
people who can't get licensed, in effect, when they can produce two or three years of training in other centres, which on the face of things seems very little different from the American training.
Much along the same line, I wonder if the Minister would care to comment on another issue that's been brought to my attention which is somewhat worrying, and that relates to the practice of psychologists. I've had one particular communication from a citizen who drew to my attention the fact that in British Columbia there really is no specific procedure by which a person practising psychology in the community requires any licensing or any proof of ability or otherwise. I understand the B.C. Psychological Association is located in Vancouver and most of the psychologists are on the faculties of universities in the province. But there is nothing to stop a person hanging out a shingle and calling himself a psychologist and going into practice.
I've had this letter from one particular citizen in the province who sought advice from a psychologist who had the title of "doctor," and in the course of receiving treatment he became unhappy and uncertain, made some inquiries and found that this person really was presenting himself in a way and espousing a certain amount of training and professional expertise which could be questioned without much doubt. This citizen then went about exploring the situation to find out how one gets authority and the licence to practise publicly as a psychologist and discovered that there is no such scrutiny or examination of the intending practitioner.
I've made some inquiries, and it's amazing to find the different titles under which this practice can be entered upon. There is the clinical psychologist, vocational counselling, intelligence testing, aptitude testing, industrial psychology, career guidance, personnel selection, child guidance, child therapy, marriage counselling, alcoholism, et cetera. I wonder if the Minister has been approached on this and whether or not we might consider (that) the practice of psychology has the potential for serious consequences if badly handled, just as much as anyone giving bad psychiatric advice could create serious problems for the patient.
I wonder if the Minister would perhaps care to comment on whether this is a matter which might justify legislation such as applies to doctors or dentists or anyone else promoting a professional practice which can quite seriously affect the individual concerned. In this particular instance drawn to my attention the person was also paying a very substantial fee privately to the psychologist, and since he discontinued the treatment he's been under considerable harassment by the psychologist concerned. So it seems to me it's an area that would merit a bit of inspection. In the research we've done, I notice that there is a bill, for example, in our neighbouring province of Alberta which tries to create some kind of screening procedure and some mechanism that the applicant has to satisfy.
A last point. The Minister has talked a great deal about home care, and I agree entirely that there has to be an integration of all levels of care in the hospital, out of the hospital and in the home.
I had a disturbing situation brought to my attention the other day where the area nurse, or the former VON, was attending a patient in a home only to discover that the same patient was also being visited under the services provided by this new Upjohn nursing organization. This was being provided under the Department of Human Resources, and this other nurse who was working for the regional Health department was also attending. In other words, there was this serious duplication of service.
I would just like to ask the Minister to what degree the provincial government is employing or calling upon the services provided by Health Care Services Upjohn Ltd., a community-oriented health and home-care programme. I think all Members of the Legislature probably received the brochure with all the details of the service. While it seems to provide an excellent service with well-trained personnel, and I've heard favourable reports on their work, I'd like to be sure that we are not duplicating service by providing home nursing care through the regional hospital district and at the same time having overlapping service provided by either Upjohn or the other one I've heard about, Medox, both private organizations which provide services in the home.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): I thank the Minister for allowing me to speak, because I want to raise very briefly with the Minister some of the same subjects he dealt with for the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace), and that is the question of intermediate care.
I've spoken about it many times before, and the Minister has been acutely interested in this particular problem ever since he first came to this House. I have to say to the Minister again, that in agreement with what the Member for Oak Bay has said, I can't understand why we cannot move some of the money around, why we cannot direct the tremendous power the government has towards a solution to this particular problem.
The Minister has, in his wisdom and based upon studies which were made for him and for his department, embarked upon the British Columbia medical centre programme. I could speak in disagreement with that programme, but that's not the point. The fact of the matter is that once the government determines that a particular course of action is acceptable and advisable and in the best interests of the community with regard to health, that tremendous financial power can be directed
[ Page 2113 ]
toward a solution. Yet we have had for years and years and years this continuing problem of intermediate care, and it is not getting that kind of attention.
I wonder if the Minister could advise the committee the extent to which studies have been made into the extent of the intermediate-care problem. The Member for Oak Bay mentioned the figure of 6,000 people who needed intermediate-care assistance. Can the Minister confirm that 6,000 is the figure which can be relied upon? Can the Minister advise the committee where in the province the greatest demand is for intermediate-care services? Is it required throughout the province? If so, how can this care be provided in all of our communities? Can it be attached to existing hospital units? Can it be attached to elderly citizens' housing complexes? What are the alternative possibilities in making intermediate care a reality in this province?
Now it is easy to see what can be done in the large urban areas. But, Mr. Chairman, in the constituency which you represent, the problems of intermediate care are there, and I would think that the Minister and his department should be able to indicate to us quite clearly how these problems in the outlying areas can be resolved.
We have some alternatives to examine. For example, the Member for Oak Bay talked about the private nursing homes. I wonder why the government does not enter into a contract for service with the private nursing homes. I happen to believe that that's not a bad idea, Indeed, the government itself does not hesitate to use the contract method in other areas.
The Department of Human Resources, for example, when they are dealing with a particular group of young people who are a problem, do not hesitate to contract for the treatment and care of those people with existing organizations who have special facilities and specially skilled personnel to provide that need. The Browndale organization is an example. It is extensively used by this government at the cost of millions of dollars. Now I am not criticizing that programme. I just say that it is convenient for the government to contract out certain services, and I don't know why that intermediate care cannot also be looked at in the same connection.
The Minister has already experienced the consequences of not handling in that way. He has been obliged to acquire some private hospital institutions who find themselves in the position of being unable to carry on and give the service on a fee-for-service basis. So the government eventually gets into the situation where in a crisis they have to put the people's money into the acquisition of facilities, I wonder if it wouldn't be better, Mr. Chairman, for the government to consider the extent to which they could contract out that expense — the figure, as the Member for Oak Bay says, is something like $14 per day — and call upon the patients to make a contribution towards that cost of care to the extent that they are able. You would find that in the Province of British Columbia there are a number of institutions that would be able to provide better care than they currently do if that opportunity presented itself, rather than as is the case now where the funding of private institutions is limited only to those areas where the patient falls within the scope of the Department of Human Resources.
The nursing service that the Member for Oak Bay mentioned is another area where the government has seen fit to contract out service. One of the classic examples of this is the Victorian Order of Nurses and the tremendous service they provide in the communities in which they are able to operate. No one would suggest that the Victorian Order of Nurses should not be supported. They have been supported by public and private funding for years. What is wrong with continuing that kind of a programme as part of the home-care system and, indeed, expanding that programme, not necessarily through the organization of the VON but in similar organizations, to ensure that the home-care service is provided?
There is another aspect of intermediate care and the provision of facilities which I think the Minister and his department must be investigating. That is the criteria by which one determines whether or not a person falls within the scope of intermediate care. We have talked about intermediate care in this province for years, and yet the regulations don't exist which really define the intermediate care. Or, if they do, they have only come into existence in the past few weeks, Mr. Chairman, there is another area of care which does not fall under the scope of this Minister, but it is one which is very close to intermediate care. I am talking about personal care, which is most often provided in non-profit, elderly citizens' facilities. But the elderly citizen who is in a personal-care situation very easily slides into the intermediate-care situation, and perhaps with some assistance slides back out of it again. It seems to me that the government has to recognize this, particularly when a Minister suggests that a proper home-care service is so essential to support the in term intermediate-care concept.
It is all very well if you think of an individual who lives in a home with a family requiring some skilled assistance of a home-care person who would come to the home and provide physiotherapy, or whatever the case may be, but when you have most of the elderly citizens requiring this kind of facility already in a personal-care home, then the problem becomes much more difficult. I would hope that the Minister has made the studies and is in a position to advise us that a programme is being developed. If he is not, then I
[ Page 2114 ]
urge the Minister to turn some of the power that his department has to focus on this particular problem. At least let us make a thorough examination so that we know the number of people who are affected, what the costs of the programme would be, what the alternatives might be with regard to the provision of service, and all the service that goes with it.
I would think that this would be a matter on which the Minister might publish a report, a White Paper, so that people who are concerned about this continuing problem of intermediate care can fully recognize the extent of the problem and what the cost to the province would be of providing a solution.
It is my guess, Mr. Chairman, that the people of this province, being concerned with this particular issue, would overwhelmingly support the government in providing the solution, whether or not the national government is prepared to contribute its share. I am sure that would be the case.
MR. WALLACE: Alberta has done it since 1964.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: The Member for Oak Bay reminds me, as he said, that Alberta has done it since 1964. I don't think we have to have comparisons with other jurisdictions in order for us to do what is right. The government, with pride, has said we are the first in Canada with Mincome. No one criticizes them for that. I think that no one would criticize them, once they recognize the extent of this intermediate-care problem, for moving ahead on our own and solving it.
HON. MR. COCKE: Some good points have been made in this whole area of intermediate care. There's no question about the priority of it, and if I can, somehow or another, I am going to try and deal with the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) and the Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) at the same time on the question because so many of the areas overlapped. It would be kind of ridiculous for me to try and answer the Member for Oak Bay and then the Member for West Vancouver-Howe Sound unless I do it at the same time. After that, I will try to answer the other questions of the Member for Oak Bay.
We know about the injustice in the system of payment in the whole area of intermediate care as compared to acute care and extended care. I am on record as having talked about that for some length of time. However, what we are trying to do now is develop a new system that will be all-encompassing for people who are chronically ill. In doing that, part of our negotiations have been along the line of what the best approach is to this whole area. Now the Member for Oak Bay indicated that the Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi) has made some changes with respect to his Mincome payments to people in chronic care, which is quite right. But we don't really feel that that's likely. This isn't final, but in looking at the whole area we don't necessarily feel that that's the final resolution to this problem.
One of the things we have been discussing is the whole question of room and board as distinct from nursing care. If you're living at home, you are paying room and board — it may cost $4 a day, it may cost $5 a day, whatever it might cost — but that's a distinct factor and, really, not part of the nursing aspect of intermediate care, or extended care for that matter. One of the questions that we have been discussing with the federal government in this whole area of sharing is around whether or not this might be recognized as a concept that they might accept. We believe they are getting to that point right now, so possibly the wait might have been worth it in a way.
One of the things I must draw to your attention is that intermediate care, personal care, or any other level of care, extended-care patients in private hospitals, are all being paid for by the Department of Human Resources if, in fact, they have no personal resources or are down to the level where they qualify. So we really are talking here about people here who do have resources, and I am not going to stand up and suggest that they shouldn't be cared for under an insured programme either. I am suggesting that we get into a programme in which we know where we are going.
The Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) brought up some very interesting points about the whole question of how many are there, and that's valid. We are not entirely sure. It is very, very difficult to get to those kinds of statistics, because in estimating how many people.... For instance, I'll give you one instance. The estimate for the Capital Regional District for extended care was that once we had obtained that additional 150 beds out of the first private hospital we bought, that would satisfy the need. Then, of course, the second one didn't, and now the third one I don't think will either.
It's very difficult to make an estimate of what's really out there. However, we do have some figures and I believe that, including all levels of care including personal care — the Member for West Vancouver–Howe Sound alluded to personal care as being part of the whole process, and very much it is; it is only a matter of time, providing they live on, that a person will move from the level of personal care to the level of intermediate care — we suspect, and I can't give you anything closer than suspect, but on some pretty reliable work that's been done in the department, 19,000. We believe that if you take the extended care and the intermediate care and lumped it together, you will find 10,000 people.
AN HON. MEMBER: I thought you said 19,000.
[ Page 2115 ]
HON. MR. COCKE: The 19,000 would include the 10,000 intermediate and extended plus another 9,000 personal care — that's roughly. So it's 19,000 people who are affected by this global situation. Of course, beyond that there are all the people who live in senior citizens' high-rises and so on who are ultimately going to move into one of these areas, providing they should live so long. It is, of course, one of the good reasons for home care.
The criteria for intermediate care has been, I think, fairly well laid out, just as has the criteria for extended care and the criteria for the lowest level of care, which is, of course, personal care. It's all in a booklet that has been published and is abroad.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: The regulations are out now, are they?
HON. MR. COCKE: Not really regulations; it's the description of the different levels of care and the criterion around that description.
[Mr. Dent in the chair.]
One thing that I would like to allude to just for a second in this whole conversation around these levels of care.... One of the best community efforts that I've seen to date has been the Penticton senior citizens' community resource; it's just excellent. It doesn't take in intermediate care to date; ultimately it will. What they've done there is, in my view, an excellent thing. They're downtown. They're not out in some sort of isolated area where the senior citizens have difficulty getting back and forth to wherever they want to, to — the show, Safeway or whatever.
Another thing they've got going for them is the fact that they've got a recreation programme that includes the whole community and, again, helps keep people out of the facility on a permanent basis.
I think that another exciting thing is that the noon meal is right there. People can come from around the area, enjoy that noon meal and have fellowship with their peers and, if they like, thereafter play bingo or whatever people do in the afternoon — recreation and so on. It's a very exciting concept. I have to congratulate Penticton and those people who put that resource together because they did a fine job.
This kind of concept has to be the basis, in my view for our direction. It's taking time, I believe, to create all the vehicles that are necessary. I do fear making deals with the private sector at this time without an insured programme. We do have, however, a deal with the private sector, and that is that any person in those facilities who is without means is being paid for. So, from that standpoint, let's not leave the impression that the government is turning its back on people in dire straits. We're not at all. They are paid for at whatever level of care they require.
We are moving in the direction that the Members are talking about, as far as developing an insured programme around intermediate care. It will happen whether the federal government goes along with us or not. I suspect they might.
I think that the discussion around the $1 a day and where we're going from there is a discussion that has changed focus a number of times. I talked about the $5.50 a day and the advisability of that. Now we're focusing toward the whole room-and-board concept. Who can be sure what route is best to follow? I can say this: we're coming closer to a solution all the time, bearing in mind...
MR, G.B. GARDOM (Vancouver–Point Grey): You sound like Wes Black.
HON. MR. COCKE: ...that we do have a major building programme to go through, that we must do things in an orderly way and we are not turning our backs on those who need assistance.
I don't really think, Mr. Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace), that the relationship you indicated around auto insurance is really analogous. The auto insurance programme, I think, was all explained — how the extra funds were to be used to subsidize motorists who are actually burning the gas. So I will just leave that where it is.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, that's the Member's opinion.
In passing, one of the things I would like to just mention around the whole question of chronic care is yesterday's opening of the spinal cord injury unit at Shaughnessy Hospital. I believe that to be one of the most exciting things that's occurred.
It was a relatively small amount of money that was spent in a capital way, only $350,000 to develop that unit in Shaughnessy. But according to all of the reports that I get from areas where this kind of service exists, they are not nearly as sophisticated in most areas as we have now in B.C. This is the first in Canada and by far the best in North America, I am told. There is only one in the world that may be equal and that is in Perth, Australia.
But what we might do there is obviate the need for some of these chronic-care facilities we are talking about. We have to have their early intervention. We have to have home care. We have to have a lot of things and we have to put it. all together.
I was delighted to hear the Member for West Vancouver-Howe Sound (Mr. L.A. Williams) and the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) echoing the fact that you don't build Rome in a day. It's very, very difficult.
[ Page 2116 ]
MR. GARDOM: That is vintage Black. You've got the whole vote in a day.
HON. MR. COCKE: The Socreds from 1967 — and I'm not suggesting there was any alternative at all — started working on extended care, and we are still working on it, Mr. Member. They started in 1967, and we are still working on it. Those are the facts of life we must recognize.
So, Mr. Chairman, I'll leave that for a moment and get on to some of the questions raised by the Member for Oak Bay around where we are going on the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. We are right now in BCHIS working on the functional programme. There may be a slight delay, however. I understand that the administrator has to be away for a month. These are the kinds of human things that happen to set construction and plans back a little bit.
MR. WALLACE: He cancelled his holidays last year to get on with it.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, that Member for Oak Bay knows perfectly well that nothing has come to our department, so I am not going to answer for that one.
HON. MR. COCKE: No.
MR. WALLACE: He cancelled his holiday last year.
HON. MR. COCKE: No, not at all. I'm just saying that in no way should the administrator be deprived of this particular time off. I am saying that these kinds of human equations sometimes develop.
We are working on the functional programme. It will be ready just as soon as possible; I suspect in June. It is onward and upward for the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. There will be 75 acute-care beds attached to the extended-care beds that are now there.
Podiatry. Well, Mr. Member, I have had more problems around podiatry. I guess it was in 1971 that a Podiatry Act was passed in this House. That Act said that a college be set up and may do the assessing of what qualifications were necessary to be a practising podiatrist in the Province of B.C.
My personal opinion is that they have been a little bit sticky, but that is just my opinion in this respect. They will not recognize graduates from the United Kingdom, graduates from Australia and other areas. It seems that the way it goes now, if you are a chiropodist from England or Edinburgh or wherever and you emigrate to Canada, you have to apply, and they will tell you that you must go down to the United States for an extra year and study in a United States institution. But they do have their own Act, and it is very difficult for me to act precipitously, as I say. I am only just saying how I feel about it. I feel that it is a little rigid, but you can't be too sure.
We feel a good deal of assistance should be given to these people who come out here and have to take extra training. We have had many, many talks with the podiatrists and many, many talks with the people who are writing to you. I number them like the sands along the shore of Oak Bay.
AN HON. MEMBER: Whew!
HON. MR. COCKE: But, as I say, to act precipitously on a situation where they actually have their own Act is a little difficult thing to ask.
MR. WALLACE: What about training courses, Dennis?
HON. MR. COCKE: Training courses are up to the Minister of Education (Hon. Mrs. Dailly). Frankly, we are only talking about some 30-odd people in the whole province. I know there is a need for them. I have offered, for instance, some guaranteed opportunities to chiropodists to work within institutions, because there they would be covered under a different sort of Act. They would then be under the direct supervision of doctors and they could, of course, apply their trade. Then, Mr. Chairman, the Member for Oak Bay went on to discuss the psychologists. Now we come to the antithesis of what we were talking about before. Naturally, I am wary about saying to the psychologist: "Okay, you can establish your own college. You can create the same kind of situation that the podiatrists have created....
HON. MR. COCKE: Is that right? There's one there? Well, that's interesting. They're coming another route.
Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I am very hesitant. So let me give you an idea of the direction that I plan in this whole area of health-care paraprofessionals.
I want to go in a similar direction to what they are trying in Quebec and Ontario but start at the other end. In Quebec and Ontario their umbrella legislation starts at the doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses, I think, as I recall. They only have four groups that they are applying the Act to.
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, it may not be pharmacists, but certainly doctors, dentists and
[ Page 2117 ]
I suspect we should be starting at the other end where there is all the present sort of lack of organization, or whatever, and also people with the problems that the psychologists have. The dietitians want their own Act. Psychologists want their own Act. There are a number of health professionals who want their own Act — I should say paraprofessionals. We just have to be very careful with that kind of thing, so therefore we're looking toward solutions like umbrella legislation where they can have divisions under that.
The last question the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) discussed was the Department of Human Resources funding Upjohn. I believe that they would likely have funded a non-nursing function of Upjohn, which would be homemakers, but I doubt very much if they're funding anything around the area of nursing services. I find out that they have occasionally purchased nursing service from organizations like Upjohn to prevent a person from being hospitalized. That is something we are going to have to get together on, because we do have our own nursing service. If there is duplication like this, Mr. Member, then we certainly have to check on it, and I'm glad you brought that problem to my attention. Thank you.
MRS. JORDAN: I'd like to ask the Minister a simple question, and then perhaps explain my concern. Will he or will he not be bringing in an amendment to the Public Service and Labour Relations Act, I believe it is titled, Bill 74, in relation to removing salaried positions in the public service...?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Before we proceed too far, I would hope that we would not get into a consideration of legislation in estimates. I would ask that you make passing reference only to this kind of thing.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wouldn't do anything to ruffle your feathers or the Minister's on such a lovely afternoon, but I am sure that the Minister is aware.... I'll drop that question.
I would just cite for him a matter of extreme concern in an area under his administration, and that is the concern of the medical profession as a whole about their right to represent a body that comes under their umbrella, which has its own branch within their umbrella and in which membership is completely voluntary. They have been excluded from the right to negotiate with you people and speak on their behalf, and those who have been excluded, which are the salaried physicians employed by the government, who can belong to their own association voluntarily, and who wish to have their own association speak for them, have been denied this right.
I wouldn't want to go into the legislation at all, but I know the Minister is aware that this is causing considerable unrest within the public service that he is administering, and it is having a detrimental effect on patient care because they can't do their job if they are in a position of internal conflict in relation to their working conditions. The Minister, being a Member of the labour party, I know fully appreciates the problems and the importance of people having the right of choice and of people working in a situation which is as much as possible free from unnecessary conflict and tension.
One of the questions that they ask, Mr. Chairman, in their everyday work is why five positions have been singled out by this Minister for special consideration in being denied the same rights that nurses have or that lawyers have who are in the same position of employment as the salaried physicians.
There is some concern that the Minister has been very understanding about this problem when discussing it with those involved and with the medical association, and some concern that the Minister, in his willingness to discuss it and his concern for it, in fact may not be unveiling the full truth of the matter, that there may be problems that he is involved in which put him in a position of being less influential in cabinet than others. There is some concern that the Minister knows full well that responsible physicians in this province are deeply concerned about the right of their association, which is a voluntary association, to speak for them collectively.
They are somewhat concerned about the real role in the future of the physicians in the Province of British Columbia, particularly in light of the Foulkes report, the author of which seems to have disappeared mysteriously for the moment, along with a good portion of his report. But there are some who feel that the Foulkes report and Dr. Foulkes will re-emerge very strongly, should this government be re-elected after the next election. And when this picture is put together, Mr. Chairman, they get a feeling that the Minister is aware that the physicians are going to take a responsible role in the practice of medicine in this province and that there may be times of conflict ahead.
If there was to be this conflict, the doctors would be in a less positive position in the public eye if the Minister had given in to the salaried physicians. In other words, if the doctors oppose the present stand of the government to include salaried physicians in the bargaining unit of the government employees as a whole, the physicians may react by going to the public for support for the right to representation by choice rather than legislation. They would be in a very strong wicket, and I think the public would be very understanding. I would suggest that this is what
[ Page 2118 ]
the Minister is saying to his colleague, the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall). The Provincial Secretary and the government itself are actually saying no way are the physicians going to be allowed this right of choice to representation.
So the Minister administering this complex problem is in a position where he knows that in this instance the physicians are right and there should be the right of choice for the right of representation for the physicians, as was given to the nurses and lawyers working for the government. But his colleague and the strength in the cabinet say no way are they going to be included. The argument the Minister is using is: "Boy, give in on this, because if they carry this concern into the overall package, should we win the next election and should we choose to proceed with the Foulkes report, then they would have a stronger wicket and would be less easy to defeat."
Mr. Minister, if I am wrong in the impression I am conveying to you which has been conveyed to me, then I am fully prepared to retract. I am sure those physicians who are concerned would retract and it's a very simple way to have us all retract. I would ask you to stand up in the House now and assure us that the salaried physicians in the employ of the government will have the right to representation by their own association by the end of this month, and I wouldn't mention the words "through legislation," this month and they can set aside their concern, and they will have the same rights as the others.
HON. MR. COCKE: That's an interesting comment from the Member for North Okanagan. I think maybe I'll just go ahead with what I have to say about it, and then you can decide whether there is politics involved, other than the politics that were raised just a minute ago.
There would be no problems recognizing the medical association. I am not suggesting that they shouldn't be or should be, but let's go back a pace. There would be no problem in recognizing them as a bargaining agent for anybody if in fact they had applied to the Labour Relations Board themselves and held themselves out as a union. But that ain't very likely, to use the vernacular. Therefore there's another kind of an accommodation obviously required, if in fact they are to represent....
MR. McCLELLAND: Do lawyers have a union?
HON. MR. COCKE: The lawyers aren't even in the bargaining thing at all.
MRS. JORDAN: That's right.
MR. McCLELLAND: They drew up the legislation, so they're out.
HON. MR. COCKE: Okay. I am not going to suggest any...we are talking in terms of legislation that is outside my purview.
HON. MR. COCKE: Well, of course. The Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall) happens to be the Minister in charge of that particular legislation.
MR. McCLELLAND: You make the promises initially — you and your department.
HON. MR. COCKE: As far as promises are concerned, there has been good communication with the medical association. All sorts of problems have developed, as they will do and as they will do 25 years from now should we all be alive in any human situation.
The fact of the matter is that this situation didn't even reflect anything to do with Foulkes' thinking, nothing whatsoever. What it reflected was that a group of people were included in legislation which dealt professional employees of the government, and one group said they wanted out. That made it a very difficult situation. So we are considering that problem. We've been in communication with people in the medical association. In the government we are discussing alternatives. Oftentimes the solution to the problem is worse than the problem itself; therefore, when you're working out alternatives, you have to be careful. I really think that to go any farther than that with the Provincial Secretary's vote should be beyond my capacity, so I'm just answering the Member for North Okanagan in that way, and that's it.
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, I certainly appreciate the Minister's comments, even if they were a little coloured. I think the Minister must recognize when, as he says, in all honesty — I assume that he sometimes doesn't speak all that honestly.... But the criticism is not with the communication with the Minister. I made that very clear. The criticism is not in relation to the fact that this was a suggestion of Dr. Foulkes, because I didn't suggest that at all. I do suggest, and believe, that he is the architect for the future of medicine in British Columbia — but that's another point.
MRS. JORDAN: When the Minister says that there would be no problem if they would apply to the Department of Labour, the Labour Relations Board, to be certified as a union, a bargaining agent for doctors, it is a very innocuous remark. But in fact it is a remark that carries the weight of a sledgehammer. It is a remark that is very characteristic of the
[ Page 2119 ]
government and its actions and the ultimate motives of this government. It's a remark that relates very strongly to the concerns of the people in this province about what this government is doing and where it is going in other areas.
The fact that this government is committed to unionize everyone in this province, whether they want it or not, and the fact that this government has proven over and over again that control for the sake of philosophy and their dogmatic view on life is what they want rather than what the people want or not.... Mr. Minister, this is exactly what you said just now in the House: do as I say and you can have what you think you want.
There is no earthly reason why an elected representation of a group in this province who have.... And I believe, if I can just find the figures, it would interest you to know that they are a voluntary membership. They have 3,600 members, and that is 97 per cent of the practising physicians in this province, to date, nor is there any compulsion on the part of the physicians and their association for any physician in this province to join the B.C. Medical Association.
So, Mr. Minister, what you are missing is the fact that this group speaks, on the basis of their work accomplished, their philosophy and their conduct, for 97 per cent of the physicians in this province, voluntarily. And the fees aren't cheap, I might add. Yet your government, and you as the Minister, are having the audacity to say we can't deal with a voluntary group like that, that we can't deal with a voluntary membership; it's got to become a union.
Now unions have every right in this province but, Mr. Minister, so do people have the right to organize together in a responsible body to speak for themselves and to protect the rights of their members in a lawful and moral way without being told by Big Brother government that they've got to become a union. That is not the responsibility of this government. It is an action we have criticized before. The NDP were not elected to office to unionize the Province of British Columbia and to force people into membership of organizations whether they wish it or not. You would think the message would be getting through to at least some of the Ministers. I suspect it is through to the Minister of Health, but when the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) wakes up and says "huh?" I suspect it hasn't gotten through to him, and he should have it.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, Mr. Attorney-General, now that you've commented on the date, no wonder we have problems in this province in protecting the rights of individuals when one segment working for the government, the physicians, is being forced into a position of unionizing by this government, all the Attorney-General can say is: "Are you suggesting we unionize the lawyers too?" Now, really, it's hardly credible! No wonder UBC is worried about its reputation. It's hardly credible that this Attorney-General could have graduated from the law school of British Columbia, let alone the kindergarten of British Columbia.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member return to the vote?
MRS. JORDAN: I think that the grads of UBC sort of wish he hadn't.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, then my apologies to UBC.
HON. MR. MACDONALD: First class.
MRS. JORDAN: And it died!
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Minister, you say it's often more difficult to correct an error than to prevent it. Why in the first place were they included? Why did the Minister allow two groups to be excluded — with particular reference to the lawyers — and include a third group? Could you answer...?
MRS. JORDAN: No, I'm not saying they're any more deserving than anyone else. But I don't think the physicians of this province deserve the iron heel of that government any more than the lawyers do.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, if anybody in the world could create strawmen better than the Member for North Okanagan, let him now stand up.
HON. MR. COCKE: You know, he's about the only one who could.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, I just love those will-o'-the-wisps that suddenly grow into something of magnitude one would never imagine other than seeing them through the eyes of the
[ Page 2120 ]
Member for North Okanagan. She should be writing some kind of fairy tales for grown-up children.
We're talking about the Provincial Secretary's (Hon. Mr. Hall's) vote, but since you continually let us go on.... I merely suggested that the doctors don't have a union. That's fine; that's their business. We've been negotiating with them in good faith ever since we've been government. We've been negotiating with them in a lot better faith than the former government, if you want the truth.
MRS. JORDAN: The salaried physicians?
HON. MR. COCKE: The salaried physicians notwithstanding.
MRS. JORDAN: They don't want a union.
HON. MR. COCKE: No, no, I'm not suggesting whether they have one or whether they want one; I'm just saying, for instance....
HON. MR. COCKE: Listen a little bit, Missy; listen to this. Right now, Mr. Chairman, a group of the doctors are putting together a little bulletin each week or so called Negotiating News. They're talking about their negotiations with the Workers' Compensation Board.
They're saying, for instance: "We can't negotiate because they won't recognize us."
The Workers' Compensation Board is standing back and saying: "Well, how do we go about recognizing them, because it's not there; it's not in law."
HON. MR. COCKE: Just a minute.
HON. MR. COCKE: Just accept it. How do you know that you're negotiating on behalf of all those people who are doing fee-for-service work for the Workers Compensation Board? Just accept it.
Anyway, there are difficulties, but you can negotiate those difficulties out. I'll tell you what makes it very difficult: when Members of this House decide that they're going to erect all sorts of fairy tales around the tenuous situation just to make it worse. That, Mr. Chairman, as far as I'm concerned, is just too bad. If this kind of situation prevails, it means that it's just that much further down the track that we have to wait for a conclusion to what I consider to be a situation that can be very easily looked after. But we have to do it, bearing in mind the best interests of all the people who are involved in this whole question. There are a lot of others besides doctors, a lot of others.
I suggest to you that we leave the Provincial Secretary's vote at this point and get on with something around the delivery of health care.
MRS. JORDAN: Well, Mr....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The Hon. Member for Langley. I would caution the Hon. Members that we are considering the administrative responsibilities of the Minister. We have strayed to some extent into matters involving legislation.
MR. McCLELLAND: Mr. Chairman, we are certainly concerned with the administration of this Minister's office and with this Minister's conduct of his office. For him to talk about building strawmen by any other Member of this Legislature is incredible because he can build strawmen faster than Superman.
The Minister attempts to slough this whole thing off by saying that we're trying to inflame the situation which already exists. But the Minister has deliberately backtracked today from what he said in the past. If I'm quoting him incorrectly, I know he'll stand up and tell me. In the February issue of the BCMA News there's a story that says:
"On his return from China in December, the Minister of Health, Dennis Cocke, publicly acknowledged and renewed his pledge to strive to have the government-employed doctors excluded from the effects of the Public Service Labour Relations Act."
Then in the May issue of the same publication, it says:
"Meeting with the executive of the BCMA on April 7, the Minister of Health, Dennis Cocke, assured the BCMA that amending legislation was being prepared to exempt the salaried physicians from Bill 75."
Then it goes on to say:
"The Minister stated that he felt the amendments would satisfy the association and the salaried physicians."
Yet today, the Minister sat and told us that we have run into certain problems that can't be solved by any statements that he might make in this House. He has made the statement, pledging on a number of occasions that this situation would be solved.
Today he backtracked and indicated — at least to me — that he has given in to the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall), who we know doesn't want the salaried positions opted out of this legislation. The Minister could easily stand up, and it would take him one minute, to tell us that first of all he is going to stand up for those physicians whose morale has been seriously hurt, particularly those physicians who are
[ Page 2121 ]
employed at Riverview Hospital. There isn't any doubt that there is a morale problem because of this whole situation. The Minister can stand up and say he will live up to the promises that he made, and that other members of his department made, and that he won't stand for any interference from the Provincial Secretary in this regard.
Once a promise is made, it should be kept. I am sure the Minister would like to keep any promises he makes on behalf of himself or his department. It is a simple matter of the Minister standing up, not to inflame any situations, but to say that he is going to keep his promise and that these personnel will be opted out of that legislation. It's as simple as that. No problem.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, I just want first to indicate very clearly what BCMA News is. BCMA News is not the organ of the BCMA, not the official organ at all. It is a newspaper that is produced by a rump group who, at best — at best — can be called people who are interested in inflaming an inflammatory situation.
MR. McCLELLAND: Were you misquoted?
HON. MR. COCKE: Dr. O'Brien Bell and I have had all sorts of conversations, directly and indirectly.
MR. McCLELLAND: Were you misquoted?
HON. MR. COCKE: As far as I am concerned, that was totally distorted. The fact of the matter is that I am on the record a long time ago as having indicated that I feel there is a very special place for doctors in the scheme of things, and those are the kinds of things that are being worked out.
MR. McCLELLAND: Were you misquoted in those two stories I read?
HON. MR. COCKE: As far as I am concerned, anything in that paper.... I wouldn't give it any kind of a dateline or anything, because I have seen so many misquotes there. Yes, I was misquoted.
MR, McCLELLAND: Both times?
HON. MR. COCKE: You know, I don't even know what it is talking about. They are conjecturing as a result of rumours and that kind of thing. But you know, honestly, Mr. Chairman, I am so sick and tired of talking about another Minister's vote. That is really what we are doing.
MR. McCLELLAND: You are sick and tired of keeping your promises.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I think the....
HON. MR. COCKE: Oh, well, I think probably time will tell how things develop...
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Order!
HON. MR. COCKE: ...and I know....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. On the point that the Minister raised, I think the point is well taken, that we are really trespassing outside the administrative responsibilities. As to statements made by the Minister, this is certainly within his responsibility, but dealing with matters in detail that are really the responsibility of another Minister is not covered by this vote.
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, there is no way, if you know what is going on in this whole situation, that you can consider this discussion irrelevant to this Minister's vote. It is this Minister that the B.C. Medical Association is dealing with. It is this Minister who has made commitments, not only in that journal, Mr. Minister, but elsewhere, and you know it and I know it. That Minister has to be held accountable for his statements. For him to stand up and criticize a publication — and I don't read it that often, and I don't pretend to defend it, but I defend the right of this publication to print...
HON. MR. COCKE: Of course!
MRS. JORDAN: ...and I would ask the Minister how many physicians read it and how many physicians complain about its content. Is the Minister then saying that he is the one to judge which publications about the practice of medicine and health in this province are acceptable and are not acceptable? When you listen to the Minister in this debate, he stands up — and I'm sure Mrs. Cocke is sitting there: "Ah! Listen, once again everybody is out of step by my Dennis!" (Laughter.)
MR. C. LIDEN (Delta): You're sick.
MRS. JORDAN: Mr. Minister, it is not your prerogative as Minister to dictate what is right, wrong, who people should see, what they should read...
HON. MR. COCKE: What does your husband do?
MRS. JORDAN: ...and this is a consistent platform.
HON. MR. COCKE: Is he a doctor?
MRS. JORDAN: I'm not ashamed of it, and I don't
[ Page 2122 ]
have any conflict of interest. He is not paid by the Government of British Columbia as a salaried physician.
HON. MR. COCKE: Not as a salaried physician.
MRS. JORDAN: No, and he works in a completely socialized clinic on a voluntary basis. If you want to go in there and look at the books, go and look at them.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I would ask the Hon. Member to return to the administrative responsibilities....
MRS. JORDAN: My husband doesn't....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MRS. JORDAN: That is another....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order!
HON. MR. COCKE: Then why did you say my wife, Madam?
MRS. JORDAN: I said your mother. Don't you know which is your mother and which is your wife? You've really got problems.
[Mr. Chairman rises.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would the Hon. Member be seated?
[Mr. Chairman resumes his seat.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: To the Hon. Member for North Okanagan: I think it is irrelevant to bring into debate anything except the strict administrative responsibilities of the Minister himself. We do not wish to embark upon a discussion involving things that are outside the administrative responsibilities of the Minister directly. Would the Hon. Member proceed, please?
MRS. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just ask the Minister: does he deny that he has made a commitment to the B.C. Medical Association on the things about which we have been talking, and does he say he was misquoted in those articles? Would you give us two answers, please?
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, I've just got a short, quick question here for the Minister. I have correspondence from the International Women's Year group in my area, and they're concerned about the lack of mental health personnel in the Fort St. John area. Evidently there's just a Dr. Dewitt, a psychologist, and Mrs. Dewitt, a psychiatric nurse. They say there's a commitment for four persons in that area. They are asking support to bring it up to four. Maybe the Minister would comment. They're interested in sending a brief to Ottawa. Is this necessary? What is the situation in that area?
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, we've had a great deal of difficulty over the past number of years of keeping a complement of mental health and other health personnel in some of the areas in the north. We've made an effort to attract psychiatrists out of the lower mainland and the southern part of Vancouver Island and attract them to the northern areas and to the other areas that are somewhat more isolated, and to other areas that aren't so isolated but for some reason or another don't attract professionals.
MR. PHILLIPS: Why?
HON. MR. COCKE: I can't answer that. I was born in the north, and I think it's very exciting.
MR. PHILLIPS: Oh, it is.
HON. MR. COCKE: I know the Member for South Peace River (Mr. Phillips) finds it attractive, and many people who live up there do.
But, Mr. Chairman, that's a perennial problem, and it's one that we're trying to deal with. Of course, one of our problems in dealing with it at the present time is the whole question of manpower. We're accused of having too many employees, and I feel that we don't have nearly enough. I really do.
MR. PHILLIPS: I never accused you of having too many.
HON. MR. COCKE: Well, you can isolate my situation and say: "Well, you haven't got enough, and all the rest of those guys have too many." I think we have to be consistent on this.
HON. MR. COCKE: No, we really have to.
MR. PHILLIPS: One department can have too many and another not enough.
HON. MR. COCKE: I see. Well, look at the
[ Page 2123 ]
increase in my budget, if that's the case. Look at the increase in my budget and the increase in our personnel. We have to deal with this whole question as best we can. Let me say this: if there's a possibility of improving it up in your direction, we certainly will.
MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, just one further comment. It goes on to say here — and this disturbs me:
"Our present B.C. government has seriously cut back financial assistance for the development of our health facilities in the Peace River–Liard district so that phase 1 projects are curtailed for 1976, which in turn will affect phase 2 for mental health beds and facilities slated for 1981. It is a fact that more trained personnel in mental health to work in the area using existing facilities would be beneficial."
Have you cut back in the programme for that area, Mr. Minister? I realize that people are stable up there, but they still do have mental health problems.
HON. MR, COCKE: Are you talking about a cut-back in your region of health services?
MR. PHILLIPS: No, mental health service. She refers to phase 1. "...so that phase I projects are curtailed for 1976, which in turn will affect phase 2 for mental health beds and facilities slated for 1981." Now have you cut back?
HON. MR. COCKE: Does it say beds?
MR. PHILLIPS: No. Well, it says that it will affect beds for 1981. Is there a phase 1 and phase 2 project?
HON. MR. COCKE: Well, Mr. Chairman, as far as I know, we haven't cut back anything in your area as far as our planning is concerned. One thing that we have done, of course, is to authorize $4.2 million for acute beds in the area. I'm not sure whether any of those are psychiatric beds, but I sure hope some of them are in the Dawson Creek area. But certainly, as far as your mental health service is concerned, I know of no direction for cut-back at all. As a matter of fact, if anything, your area would be given more priority. I've been up there; I've talked with some of the people who serve in the area.
MR. PHILLIPS: Good people, good people.
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, sure. I know the problems that they have in the whole northern section around this problem.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver-Capilano): I would just like to raise with the Minister a question that one of my constituents has been corresponding with him on for some months and one which I think applies to a number of other British Columbians: the inability to acquire coverage under an extended health benefit plan. This particular constituent had been the recipient of such coverage by virtue of the fact that he was an employee of a large company.
He was laid off, and found that he could not, as an individual, acquire the same kind of benefits that he could when he was a member of the group. This, as the Minister knows, relates to such things as extra-private or semi-private hospital payments, prescription drugs because he is not old enough for Pharmacare, special nurses when required, ambulance services and so on, including hospital services at such time as a person may be outside the province.
Now I appreciate that the Minister has taken the attitude that these extended health benefit plans are offered by the private companies such as MSA and do not fall under his jurisdiction. But I would represent to him that where there is a significant collection of British Columbians who, because they are applying as individuals and perhaps high-risk individuals and not as groups, cannot acquire this kind of extended benefits, the Minister should be making moves of some kind to make it possible for them. I would ask, Mr. Chairman, if he would have any comment on what might be done in this area.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, as you know, an extended health benefit programme is one that has always belonged to the private sector. Normally they've only offered it, certainly in this province — and I was in the insurance business for many years — as a benefit to groups. The benefit, I think, should be made available to private people. It's a difficult one. The reason the insurance companies don't go for it on a private basis is because of the fact that those people who are most likely to require the benefits are the ones who automatically apply.
MR. GIBSON: That's why this should be spread over the whole public.
HON. MR. COCKE: Well, then, what you are asking me to say is: take it away from the private sector and put it under Autoplan or under Medicare.
MR. GIBSON: Underwrite it yourself.
HON. MR. COCKE: You see, here's the problem. We've discussed this at Autoplan and we've discussed this at Medicare — I'm on both boards. Medicare or Autoplan say to me when I ask what can we do about this: "Well, we'll get all the rejects if we make it available on a private basis. Then, of course, industry will be able to cream off all the best because they
[ Page 2124 ]
have the protection of the group." Medicare says exactly the same thing. So if, on the other hand, we said, "Okay, we'll go the route of offering that benefit to everybody in the province for a certain premium," then we would be accused of once again getting into a monopolistic situation in the insurance business.
We're at sixes and sevens about it, Mr. Member. If you really feel that we should jump in and hop off all that extended-care business.... I'll tell you this as an old insurance man — here's another one: extended care is a paying proposition to the insurance companies. It's not that high a premium. It runs anywhere per month from 75 cents to $1 for a single person, and $1.50 for married people. So it's not a very expensive premium, but it is a very profitable benefit to sell.
So I'm just asking: is the Member recommending that we go across the board for extended health benefits? If he is, maybe that's the direction we should go.
MR. GIBSON: Just on a brief follow-up, Mr. Chairman. I'm not expert enough in the field to suggest to the Minister how he should solve the problem. I'm simply drawing to his attention that the problem exists.
I would also ask him if there is not some way of considering in this field the analogue to the assigned risk-pooling plan which used to operate in the automobile field. He, as a former insurance man, would know the answer to that better than I, but I wonder if that isn't a kind of solution.
HON. MR. COCKE: Now, Mr. Chairman, we are discussing many, many areas. All I wanted to do was just see how the Member would skate around that one. It was interesting.
MR. GIBSON: Do I get a gold star? (Laughter.)
HON. MR. COCKE: Anyhow, Mr. Chairman, we are discussing the whole question and, hopefully, we can come up with something that might meet the needs of those people out there who would like to have that kind of protection.
MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, we in the East Kootenays also have a unique health problem on which I have been corresponding with the Minister. My correspondence dates back to December, 1973. I'm always given encouraging news that the matter is under review, under examination, that they are looking at the whole spectrum of delivery of health services in the province, which includes the problem of out-of-province patients as well.
But what I am saying is that we have a unique situation. It is one dealing with the costs of patients over and above the accepted fee schedule of doctors by the medical insurance plan. The Minister, I am sure, is conversant. In fact, the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Hall) heard that problem yesterday while he was in Golden with me at a meeting with the town of Golden.
It's a unique problem. I had turndowns from these people who referred to specialists in Calgary and referred to the Foothills Hospital. You must realize that the close proximity to Calgary is attractive to us.
HON. MR. COCKE: Ever buy the Calgary papers?
MR. CHABOT: Yes. I would suggest that there are as many Calgary papers sold in my constituency as there are of The Vancouver Sun and The Province; we are that closely aligned. We have a lot of right-wing thinking people in that corner of the province as well, and we will continue to have.
Now getting back to the problem....
MR. CHABOT: All corners of the riding are approximately 180 miles away from Calgary and from the specialists' services and from the facilities of the Foothills Hospital. It would be unwise for a doctor to suggest that a patient for a specialist's services go to Vancouver, which ranges from 500 to 600 miles away. I have, in fact, just received a bill — I have it on my desk right now — for a fellow who went in for heart surgery. He received a bill for $337.92. The B.C. medical insurance plan paid $145.60, leaving him a balance of $192.32 which he can ill afford to pay. It is a problem. The bulk of my constituents are working people, and these additional costs are a tremendous burden on them. It is a problem that's been with us for some time, not only with your government; it dates back to the former government as well. I recall taking the matter up with the former government, and I got pretty well the same kind of snow job as I am getting from you. (Laughter.)
MR. CHABOT: Well, I always tell it as it is. But nevertheless, we see the problem developing with increasing frequency, and there's a real problem. Yesterday we heard in Golden that BCHIS is recommending the use of the specialists' facilities in the Foothills Hospital in Calgary and the referrals to the Calgary facilities. I am wondering, under those circumstances, why the B.C. Medical Plan isn't prepared to accept these costs. It's not one which is going to financially burden the plan; it's one that will certainly convenience those people who happen to live in the southeastern corner of the province. They
[ Page 2125 ]
live close to the facilities in Calgary and not very close to the facilities in Vancouver. It makes it extremely difficult for anyone from my riding, for instance, who has a patient in the Vancouver hospital to go and visit him; whereas in Calgary, it is only a three-hour drive from any corner of my riding to Calgary. To Vancouver it can range anywhere from a 10-hour to 12½-hour drive. It's a problem I wish the Minister would give serious consideration to, and I hope that he will tell me when I sit down — and I am going to do that very shortly — that assistance will be given to these patients who use the professional services in the City of Calgary.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, let's first clear the air on one point. We do, under hospital insurance, pay the standard ward level in any province in Canada; we pay the hospital bill totally. If a patient goes to a doctor in Calgary and that doctor charges a different fee than what a specialist doing the same thing here would charge, we only pay for what the specialist would charge.
MR. CHABOT: I already know that.
HON. MR. COCKE: And I am going to tell you, Mr. Member, that that's what we will continue to do.
MR. CHABOT: Well, that isn't what your correspondence tells me.
HON. MR. COCKE: We have no choice.
MR. CHABOT: You are looking at it.
HON. MR. COCKE: Okay, now that we've looked at it, that's what we are going to do, Mr. Member. How do we know whether part of that is extra billing or whatever? We would create a horrendous situation for ourselves.
I think that our fee schedule in British Columbia is pretty good, and I don't think that the Alberta doctors are getting that much more. As a matter of fact, I suspect they are getting a little bit less, Mr. Member. Therefore I just don't understand the disparity you raise. Obviously it was a cauterization; it wasn't heart surgery at those rates.
MR. CHABOT: Anesthetics.
HON. MR. COCKE: Oh, that was anesthesia. I just don't know where to start on this situation other than to say that we can't handle extra billing. We have to use some terms of reference, and the only terms of reference we have available is our own fee schedule for certain services. I think probably what we should all do is get the College of Physicians and the medical associations of both provinces to get together somehow to assist us in making our systems more complementary.
HON. MR. COCKE: Oh, come on now! Quit erecting the foolishness that you are habitually doing.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Minister speak to the vote?
MR. WALLACE: Could I follow up a little bit on the payment of hospital fees outside of British Columbia?
I have just had the case brought to my attention of an alcoholic problem of a person, highly educated, in the educational field who tried in many parts of B.C. to get adequate attention, particularly in the Vancouver area, and received little opportunity to receive productive treatment. Finally, in desperation, he went to the Schadell Hospital in Seattle and has incurred expenses, I'm sure, far in excess of the per diem rate that would be paid in a B.C. hospital. The fact is that surely all of us now recognize that alcoholism is a physical illness. The claim in that particular case may not have arrived on your desk yet, Mr. Minister, for all I know. But the patient was seeking advice, and I did let him know that for many other conditions, when people go to the Mayo Clinic, for example, for particular treatments — cancer or whatever — the government pays, I think, $75 a day — or is it $50? I can't recall the figure.
AN HON. MEMBER: $75.
MR. WALLACE: But where do we stand in relation to alcoholism? Do we espouse the concept that it is an ailment, or don't we, in practice? Apparently we really don't have an in-depth facility which provides the whole spectrum of services required for alcoholism. The Schadell Hospital in Seattle isn't just a drying-out centre. The person dries out and in the subsequent two or three weeks gets a very intensive programme of rehabilitation and counselling and all the other services designated to try and produce some long-term help for the alcoholic, rather than just treating the physiological disturbance of acute alcoholism. I'd like to hear that.
The other question that keeps being brought to my attention, particularly since Pharmacare has been brought in, is the degree to which the government is willing to look at the provision of ostomy appliances for those patients who, for the rest of their life, have to use various appliances on the artificial openings in their bodies. This really isn't a big item to the government if they paid every single one of them. It's really not a big item, but to a person who for the rest of their life has to buy some of the equipment — the
[ Page 2126 ]
plastic bags and the belts and the various pieces of equipment — it would be a tremendous advantage if this government would consider bringing that kind of coverage within the Pharmacare arrangements.
The third point I just wanted to raise was what initiatives, if any, the Minister is taking in the whole area of smoking and the ever-increasing incidence of lung cancer, particularly in women. The figures regarding the incidence of carcinoma in women are beginning to rise, I guess simply because it's only in the last 20 years that the high incidence of smoking among women has increased. I read the other day that in the next 10 years there'll be a million people die of lung cancer in the United states, according to the figures that are being pinned down by the cancer society.
I don't think the fact I'm a non-smoker precludes me from worrying about what's happening in the whole field of morbidity and mortality due to smoking. There's a very interesting piece of research done by a Dr. Raymond Slavon of St. Louis University, who's chairman of one of the air pollution committees of the American Academy of Allergy. They did some fascinating studies to show how much the non-smoker is affected simply by being in the room with smokers. So the findings that are developing don't just relate any more to the simple inconvenience of the non-smoker who doesn't like to have his air polluted by the smoker. The interesting thing was that at this particular convention, the academy's annual meeting, they did some tests when everyone was in the room where there had been smoking, and then everybody stopped smoking and they took subsequent tests. Before the smoking ban they found carbon monoxide levels of 8 ppm in the lungs of non-smokers sitting in the smoke-filled room, but after the ban the level dropped to 2 ppm, which is the level generally found in the air of rooms where no smokers are present. When smoking resumed, the air level rose to 10 ppm, which is the equivalent of smoking four or five cigarettes a day.
The only point I'm making is that this whole business of smoking is getting beyond just the question of trying to persuade the smoking population to limit or cut out their smoking. The fact is that all of us, to a degree which we may not presently be in a position to alter, are having a substantial accumulation of nicotine and carbon monoxide in our lungs.
The government's taken one step, I notice, on the ferries. The whole front cabin on the ferries is now non-smoking, and I think that's a great idea.
I know that the Minister is recognizing Non-Smoking Week toward the end of May sometime — I just received a communication in the mail today. This is all well and good, but I wonder if the Minister really has any more specific plans, first of all, to make it very plain to the whole community the really serious dimensions of the smoking problem. This isn't just some medical nut who is preaching against smoking; I am talking about the present and long-term effects on smokers and non-smokers.
This Minister has plainly made his commitment to physical well-being and preventive medicine by encouraging people to jog, take exercise and remain in good physical condition. But I really feel that if there is one area where we really have to do more, it is in the tremendously serious statistics that are emerging in relation to emphysema, bronchitis, obstructive lung disease and the whole list of other problems which sometimes develop spontaneously. The unfortunate victim certainly doesn't have any advantage from sitting in a room where even this kind of research shows he is being subjected to contamination of his lungs which is not of his choosing.
Without going into the solid economics of the whole situation and talking about hospital costs, as we have done today, and the whole range of medical care and rehabilitation and so on, even in terms of dollars and cents it would be a tremendous advantage if we could try and initiate some programmes to, in some ways at least, reduce the incidence of smoking. Certainly, anybody would be stupid to think we could ever come close to eliminating it. I wonder what plans the Minister has. I would like to think we've got some vigorous programme. Even a publicity programme is one area in all the debates we have had on the budget where I would, perhaps, agree to the department's spending a lot of money on publication.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, I want to first talk about the alcohol situation that you raised. We will pay for a person who has sought and received authority to go out of the country for care in the traditional fashion — paying their level of medical attention and also the hospital attention as outlined, $75 a day. That would apply to anybody going out with an alcohol situation if in fact it could be justified, or anything else as far as hospitalization is concerned. As I say, it has to be under that sort of direction.
We also insist that a hospital be authorized as a hospital under a state authority, and that the medical aspects of the case also have to have qualified, properly recognized medical practitioners and so on. Also, in emergency cases, as you know, we will pick up the $75 a day. But that is if they are out of Canada before they get caught in that trap, and, of course, paying the doctors at the level we pay ours.
So really we haven't changed anything. I can't really tell you what we would do about this particular individual. I will have to see the case before I make any suggestion along that line.
To get on with the colostomy, the ileostomies and all the prosthetic devices and so on, at present we are
[ Page 2127 ]
not contemplating moving into that area until we have had it thoroughly studied. The same people who studied Pharmacare to begin with are looking at that situation.
HON. MR. COCKE: So what?
HON. MR. COCKE: The Socreds never ever came close to Pharmacare. You sit over there and chirp. The fact of the matter is that $712 million is being spent on health care in this province. Don't give me the "year ago" stuff. Of course it takes time.
HON. MR. COCKE: All right, that's right. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. But I do know it is currently being studied. We have discussions going on with other jurisdictions. We have already moved into hearing aids. That is a device, isn't it, a prosthetic device? We are trying out hearing aids at cost and free hearing assessments in certain areas of the province. It takes time and thought, Mr. Member.
AN HON. MEMBER: That's what you said last year.
HON. MR. COCKE: And I say again this year: it is being studied.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Minister address the Chair, please?
HON. MR. COCKE: That Member who jumps around from every political persuasion, from one to another, giving us this kind of guff — all his criticism of the Socreds.... Then he winds up with them. It just makes me a little bit ill.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Minister speak to the vote, please?
HON. MR. COCKE: All I need, Madam Member, all I needed.
Anyway, I want to get back to the whole question of these devices. We are certainly considering every aspect of it. The one problem is: where do you start? We started with Pharmacare....
HON. MR. COCKE: Yes, that's right. We started with Pharmacare; we felt that was the end that was most necessary, the most costly. From there we go on to other areas, and that's where it's at the present time.
As far as smoking is concerned, it's a problem. I'm glad that the ferries have recognized that there should be more space. Airlines are doing that now. It seems to me that the world of smokers is beginning to diminish in geographical size. There are more places you can't smoke now than a year ago; probably next year there will be more that you can't again.
The Minister of Human Resources (Hon. Mr. Levi) was telling me that we should move into the dining room next, the Member's dining room.
MR. GARDOM: Dowding room.
HON. MR. COCKE: Dining room or Dowding room — what's the difference? It's the Speaker's dining room. So that may be the next area we find some problems with around smoking.
HON. MR. COCKE: Well, we will have. We have a booklet on preventive care coming out, probably within the next month and a half or so. It will be going out on a lot of areas around smoking and obesity. All these areas will certainly be in that.
MR. SMITH: I want to raise with the Minister two or three points, one or two of them considering health services, particularly health services as they apply to some of the rural parts of the Province of British Columbia.
I really don't think, Mr. Minister, that the acquisition of additional staff within the department will be the whole answer to the problem that is experienced by communities located outside of the lower mainland. I'm sure that you will find that even though you have adequate trained and skilled people available, by preference many of them would still want to stay within that area best described as the lower mainland, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley. So the actual attainment of numbers will not solve the problem, particularly in the specialized areas.
If those people who would come and work for you, even if they were available, are not prepared to go out into some of the rural areas of the province, we still find that we have the same problem as we do now with a shortage of services even from the private sector of practice.
I'd like to ask the Minister if he has investigated the possibilities of cooperating with the medical profession to the extent of working out a programme where people who are presently in private practice in the Province of British Columbia in the specialized fields of psychology and psychiatry would work with
[ Page 2128 ]
the government on a basis of going into some of the rural areas to your health clinics and providing the service on an intermittent basis, at least for a period of two weeks, three weeks or more, and then someone else coming in.
Some of the medical practitioners in the northern part of the province have found that this is the only way they can operate now. They have an agreement with other private practitioners, mainly in specialized lines, and other general practitioners who will come in and give them a break for a month so they can take a holiday and take over their practice, really, for a month. It might be worthwhile investigating this method of at least doing the acute work and the most urgently required assessments. If we can't get the personnel to go into the areas on a full-time basis, at least encourage them to put in a month or two weeks or whatever is available of their time, giving a concentrated service on a day-to-day basis for a specified period of time, and then leave. I know it isn't the answer, but at least it would give some relief to those people who need it very badly.
There are other areas that I'd like to speak about. One is this matter of ambulance services, particularly for people who are not considered to be in need of ambulance services because of specialized emergency treatment. Many people find that they have to come out to either the lower mainland or to Edmonton for specialized services because the doctors who they have available to them feel they are not qualified to treat their particular illness, disease or whatever. In that case, it's very costly for them to fly out for the treatment — this is the best way of getting there — and return.
I wonder if the Minister is actively investigating the idea, on a doctor's recommendation where the condition is acute, of allowing these people to come out at government expense.
Let's give you another example of how I feel that somehow there is a lack of communication between the three jet aircraft that the Government of the Province of British Columbia and the Department of Health have at their disposal concerning the transport of patients to the lower mainland area. I'd like to give you a specific example.
This concerns a young fellow who is resident in Fort St. John and needs a kidney transplant. He's needed this transplant now for a number of years, and he's been on a kidney machine, one of these portable dialysis machines, for about two and a half years, as I recall, or perhaps three. All this time he's been waiting for a kidney that would be available to him.
Not too long ago his doctor phoned to say that a kidney was coming up — or had come up, I guess — from the Seattle area and that the biopsy was correct and it would match up to his system so that there should be no real problem with transplanting it. The doctor involved got hold of the search-and-rescue people — this was probably 5:30 or 6 o'clock in the morning. They told him that the only aircraft they had available was too slow to make the trip to Fort St. John and fly the patient back to Vancouver in time for a transplant that morning.
Now surely one of the jet aircraft, when we have three of them, should have been available for that trip. I don't know what happened, and there seems to be a lack of communication somewhere, because the doctor is very concerned that no one ever suggested jet aircraft could make that trip to him. As a result, this boy is still waiting, and will probably wait for another long period of time before another kidney will come up that is acceptable to his body.
Had the jet been available, or had somebody laid that on from Victoria, it would have been in Fort St. John in about one hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half, and back in Vancouver in less than three hours' time. At least they would have had a good opportunity of conducting the kidney transplant. But the answer, unfortunately, that he received from the department was: "Well, if you have that condition, why don't you move down to Vancouver where you are closer to the doctors and the specialists who will perform the transplant, if and when a kidney is available?"
I think that was a very gross answer to a young fellow who has a real problem. Believe me, when you have to use one of those portable machines once a week it becomes a real problem.
There should be some means of co-ordinating the system between search-and-rescue and your own government aircraft to make sure that if an aircraft is anywhere in the area, either search-and-rescue or government, that trip can be laid on without any hesitation. In this case it was not a case of an improper airport or poor landing facilities in Fort St. John. They have some of the best in the province. So if something happens we should be able to get those aircraft available on a situation like that whether it's for a kidney transplant or someone who has been badly injured in an accident.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Chairman, I'm quite well aware of certain particular cases that you outlined. We know the situation. We know that, for instance, Dr. Elliott advised that it would probably be better if this young man were closer to Vancouver because he would have a better chance.
The night that you are talking about there was an aircraft available, but there were no crews available on that notice, unfortunately. The pilots had all flown their maximum number of hours, and there were no crews available to do it. We had to either get the DND, which would have been too late, or commercial, which was also too late.
The kidney will only last so long. It was a
[ Page 2129 ]
three-hour proposition, and it was too tight. We couldn't organize crews. It's just a fact of life. Probably he would have been well served had it been available at the time. It's just too bad.
I want to point out that there were no more than five mercy flights carried out prior to August, 1972, and we've been going steady. There is at least one a week involving the Citation or the Kingair 200, and it is increasing all the time. We are still using the Department of National Defence; we are still using other carriers where it happens to work out.
But that, as far as we are concerned, is the record. We'll try our very best. Just last week everybody was bumped off an airplane. A bunch of civil servants were going out the same time I was going out, and everybody was bumped off because of the fact that they had to go up to Kelowna to get a man who had a very severe heart situation and had to be brought down here, and he was. This thing is going on all the time on a rescue basis. I would say that the Department of Transport and Communications, in cooperation with the Department of Health, is doing an exemplary job of providing that kind of rescue co-ordination and service.
HON. E. HALL (Provincial Secretary): I think there are other speakers on this vote, Mr. Chairman. Therefore I move the committee rise, report resolution and ask leave to sit again.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the committee reports resolution and asks leave to sit again. The committee further reports that a division took place in the committee and asks that it be recorded in the Journals of the House.
Hon. Mr. Radford files answers to questions. (See appendix.)
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present Report No. 2 of the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills, and I move that the report be read and received.
CLERK: Report No. 2, legislative committee room May 7, 1975.
Mr. Speaker, your Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders and Private Bills begs leave to report as follows:
Your committee recommends that Bill 50, intituled An Act to Incorporate the Institute of Accredited Public Accountants of British Columbia, not proceed further. Your committee's decision is based on the conclusion that the principal aims and objects of the petitioners do not require private legislation to be effectively accomplished.
Your committee further expresses its appreciation to the petitioners for their efforts and concern in relation to the educational standards of their members. Your committee further recommends that the deposit paid by the petitioners be refunded.
All of which is respectfully submitted, D.F. Lockstead, Chairman.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Mr. Speaker, I move that the rules be suspended and the report adopted.
Hon. Mr. Hall moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.
1 Mr. Bennett asked the Hon. the Minister of Recreation and Conservation the following questions:
1. Has the Provincial Government purchased any land for park purposes since January 15, 1974, to date?
2. If the answer to No. 1 is yes, (a) what were the acreages involved in each case and (b) what was the price per acre paid?
3. What firm or individual, if any, acted for the Parks Branch in effecting the purchase?
4. What commission, if any, was paid with respect to each purchase?
[ Page 2130 ]
The Hon. Jack Radford replied as follows:
"2. (a) 117 acres (7,500 feet of waterfront), 192 acres (9,200 feet of waterfront), 73 acres (800 feet of lakefront), 103 acres (2,000 feet of waterfront), 402 acres (4,000 feet of river frontage), 0.05 acre, 40 acres, 111 acres (2,000 feet of lakefront), 97 acres (6,600 feet of waterfront), 47.5 acres (1,700 feet of lakefront), 40 acres, 11.8 acres (4,600 feet of waterfront), and (b) $2,453, $763, $1,918, $388, $87, $3,800, $1,250, $1,270, $773, $1,179, $500, $2,203.
"3. Not applicable.
2 Mr. Bennett asked the Hon. the Minister of Recreation and Conservation the following questions:
1. What was the total expenditure for (a) development and (b) maintenance in parks where an overnight camping-fee was charged during the calendar year 1974?
2. What was the total income from fees in these parks?
The Hon. Jack Radford replied as follows:
"1. (a) $4,127,000 and (b) $3,597,000 (fiscal year).
"2. $709,707 (fiscal year)."
121 Mr. Curtis asked the Hon. the Minister of Recreation and Conservation the following questions:
With respect to the Minister's earlier proposal to establish
a bicycle trail from the Greater Victoria area to Lake Cowichan
over the Canadian National right-of way —
1. Does the Minister still endorse this Proposal?
2. If the answer to No. 1 is yes, what is the status of negotiations with (a) Canadian National Railways and (b) The Greater Victoria Water Board and (or) its Commissioner?
3. Is the Minister optimistic that the trail will be established over most or all of the route described in the preamble above?
The Hon. Jack Radford replied as follows:
"2. (a) Negotiations underway but not resolved at present date and (b) held in abeyance pending results of right-of-way negotiations.
"3. The Environment and Land Use Committee is currently analyzing the various proposed uses for the right-of-way and will be making a recommendation shortly."