1975 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 30th
The following electronic version is for informational
The printed version remains the official version.
FRIDAY, MAY 30, 1975
[ Page 2885 ]
Premier's London visit. Hon. Mr. Barrett — 2885
Clarification of earlier statement. Hon. Mr. Macdonald — 2885
Provincial Court Act (Bill 100). Hon. Mr. Macdonald.
Introduction and first reading — 2885
Savings and Trust Corporation of British Columbia Act
(Bill 86). Second reading.
Hon. Mr. Barrett — 2885
Mr. Bennett — 2888
Mr. Gibson — 2890
Mr. Wallace — 2893
Mr. L.A. Williams — 2896
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2899
Free Public Toilets Act (Bill 90). Second reading.
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2899
Mrs. Webster — 2900
Mr. D.A. Anderson — 2900
Mr. Wallace — 2901
Mr. Rolston — 2901
Mr. McClelland — 2901
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2902
Hospital Insurance Amendment Act, 1975 (Bill 98). Second reading.
Hon. Mr. Cocke — 2902
Mr. Wallace — 2903
Hon. Mr. Cocke— 2904
Committee of Supply: Department of Lands, Forests and Water Resources estimates
On vote 126.
Mr. Chabot — 2904
Mr. R.A. Williams — 2905
Mr. Chabot — 2905
Mr. R.A. Williams — 2906
Mr. Chabot — 2906
Mr. R.A. Williams — 2907
Mr. Chabot — 2907
Mr. R.A. Williams — 2908
Mr. Chabot — 2908
Mr. R.A. Williams — 2909
Mr. Smith — 2909
The House met at 10 a.m.
HON. D. BARRETT (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to make a brief statement.
PREMIER'S LONDON VISIT
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, yesterday my office received a call from Mr. Norman Mailhot referring to an article in The Globe and Mail regarding my visit to London. Mr. Mailhot is with the External Affairs department. He was most concerned about the article and wanted my office to know that no one in the press had contacted his office. He stated that, in fact, he would have advised them that External Affairs had been aware of the trip, as he was so informed when he was in my office one week ago. Mr. Mailhot is concerned about the good relations that exist between External Affairs and the government and he wanted me to pass this on to the House — that he was aware of the trip one week before the press report was given.
HON. A.B. MACDONALD (Attorney-General): Mr. Speaker, I have a point of privilege which doesn't directly affect me, except insofar as I spoke the words into Hansard. As a result, the wrong person suffered the indignity of being censured by my words in the House and in the report as it appeared in The Vancouver Sun. I think the Hon. Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) will agree.
The article relates to certain comments made by myself and it appeared they referred to one Mr. P.B. Smith, the senior deputy in the office of the rentalsman. Well, those comments did not refer at all to Mr. Smith. They did refer to another person about whom the question had been asked. I think it was a Mr. Whaley. I have the fuller statement here and I'll give it to the press. I am sure that the matter can be corrected. I regret that in the newspaper report there was embarrassment to Mr. Smith.
HON. E.E. DAILLY (Minister of Education): Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to join with me in welcoming a group of students from Kensington Junior Secondary in North Burnaby.
MR. G.S. WALLACE (Oak Bay): Mr. Speaker, the people I would like the House to welcome are not yet in the gallery. They are here on an exchange visit from Toronto, the Scarlett Heights Collegiate band, responding to an earlier visit that Oak Bay Junior Secondary paid to Toronto last year. I would like the House to welcome them.
Introduction of bills.
PROVINCIAL COURT ACT
Hon. Mr. Macdonald presents a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Provincial Court Act.
Bill 100 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
Orders of the day.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to proceed to public bills and orders.
MR. SPEAKER: I think there is no leave required on Friday.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: I was just informed that it was.
MR. SPEAKER: Oh, yes. There's a priority motion, of course. I'm sorry.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Therefore, Mr. Speaker, if leave is granted, I'd like to proceed with second reading of Bill 86.
SAVINGS AND TRUST CORPORATION
OF BRITISH COLUMBIA ACT
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, it's with a great deal of pride that I open the debate on second reading on what has to be one of the most important bills this government has brought forward in this House.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to increase the degree of competition in the province's financial markets and thereby narrow the spread between borrowing and lending notes. There should be some reason given why this government is concerned about narrowing the spread. Mr. Speaker, I think if anyone makes a simple examination of the facts related to the banking industry in Canada — and it is an industry, not a service — you will find some very startling things happening. For example, Wednesday, May 21, 1975, the Vancouver Province page 19: "Bank of B.C. Profits Up 178 Per Cent."
AN HON. MEMBER: You're shareholders.
[ Page 2886 ]
HON. MR. BARRETT: Yes, we are a shareholder, but I feel terrible embarrassed about being a shareholder in an industry that is usurious and taking money out of the ordinary people's pockets while creating inflation in their policy.
No one in modern society with basic responsibility of stabilizing the economy should be placed in the position of having such negative influence on the natural progression of economic growth in our society. You cannot justify profit increases of 179 per cent, then try to rationalize food costs rising and all other costs rising in our society. Why is it that we never see the front pages of the newspapers attacking the banking system? But they'll attack some poor janitor who wants a few dollars more or some poor cleaning woman and her family trying to survive and struggle, having to go to the bank to make loans to provide for, perhaps, the continuing education of her children, only to have the bank making that kind of profit. It's wrong, Mr. Speaker. It has been wrong for years, only it's even worse now.
Why is there such a defence of the system through the Senate banking committee and the Central Bank of Canada when it's not using that great social instrument for purposes other than guaranteeing profits to the wealthy few?
HON. MR. BARRETT: Mr. Member, you of all should know, because of you close association with the Liberal Party, about Professor Porter's book describing the vertical mosaic and the power structures in Canada. Those power structures are interlocking families that have controlled the destiny of this country for generations — it's interwoven with the Liberal Party, too.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Alleged inter-association? No, it's more than that. I think Mr. Porter has gone further than making the allegation. The Upper Canada — I can't use the word "Mafia" because they're too genteel for that word — but the Upper Canada group that have dominated the financial institutions, the corporate institutions of this country for years….
We ought to know — we've got one of the graduates from Osgoode Hall ourselves. He's told us all the inside secrets of what's gone on. (Laughter.)
In Montreal, the Bank of Montreal reported Wednesday that the balance of its revenues, after provision of income tax, at the first six months, ending April 30, increased to $41.9 million. They were $1.23, compared with $33 million, or 98 cents a share a year ago. You read it backwards. It didn't go down a year ago; it went up from 98 cents a share to $1.23 a share.
MR. G.F. GIBSON (North Vancouver–Capilano): It was up this year; you can tell by the….
AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, Gardom, give up!
HON. MR. BARRETT: No wonder those independents left the Liberal Party.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MR. GIBSON: I just want to keep him straight.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Toronto-Dominion bank…!
MR. D.M. PHILLIPS (South Peace River): Shhhh! Don't shout.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Well, you shout and rail and argue when some poor little working stiff wants a better deal through trade union activity. You were up here screaming your lungs out. But when I'm quietly trying to tell the people about the banking system, he's going: "Shhhh!"
MR. PHILLIPS: I never did.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Whose side is he on? That's the party that wants to eliminate the succession taxes on the rich. It's not bad enough that they have super-profits when they're alive, but he wants to guarantee them they can take it with them. I never heard of such a thing, Mr. Speaker.
I want to tell you, too. Since I made that speech, not one person who has been involved as the donee of succession duty has ever written a letter back to this government complaining. (Laughter.)
The Toronto-Dominion Bank profits go up. That's a campaign record — not a single complaint.
HON. MR. BARRETT: They agree obviously with the policy because even our own rules say that abstention means agreement. Our own House rules say that, so they must agree with the policy too.
The Toronto-Dominion Bank's profits go up. The Bank of Nova Scotia's profits have gone up 45 per cent. Edmonton: "Bank Profits Jump." The Royal Bank of Canada: 31 per cent.
Now why should the ordinary people of this province or, for that matter, all of this country allow this banking cartel in effect — because they are, many of them, interlocking with interest, dominating the small loans field, dominating the small business field…. The poor fellow who wants to be an
[ Page 2887 ]
entrepreneur really doesn't have a chance. Those great champions of free enterprise over there; they know very well there is no free enterprise left, Mr. Speaker. They destroyed it a long time ago by protecting privilege in the banking system of this country.
All the consumer credit, the Chargex cards and the push to have people spend money on those cards, the huge interest rates on those cards, all of those things have become a way of life, and they penalize the working poor more than any other group.
The other reason we want to establish this institution is to allow British Columbians to use their deposit funds to support the future economic and social development of the province.
I shall never forget, Mr. Speaker, the time that I sat in this House and Kaiser Industries first came into the Province of British Columbia. The great announcement was made by the former government that some $60 million would be spent to create a new coal mine in the province. That was ballyhooed by the former government as a great step forward. Then we discovered, through a speech from the Minister from the Kootenays (Hon. Mr. Nimsick) but then a backbencher, that Kaiser had borrowed $35 million from Canadian banks. They had used our own money to develop our own resources, and the profits now are rolling out.
At that time, Mr. Member — just an aside, Mr. Speaker — the royalty was 10 cents a ton on coal under the former government. Giveaway. Now that Minister has moved the royalty up to $1.50, and I'm proud of him trying to get some of the money back that belongs to the people of this province.
MR. WALLACE: Is that what you've been doing all this time, Leo?
HON. MR. BARRETT: It should be more.
So what we are trying to do is encourage British Columbians to have faith in themselves and confidence in themselves. We don't need to go to eastern Canada; we don't need to reply on the central banking system. With a little bit of love and co-operation, we can do things for ourselves, Mr. Speaker. We should never fear our own human potential. We should never lose sight of the possibility of becoming masters in our own House and responsible for our own destiny. That is part of human dignity and human responsibility.
We also want to improve the balance between loans and deposits among all regions of the province. We have northern MLAs who are sent down here to say: "A better share for the north. More regional representation in terms of economic development." We believe that the interior, northern and eastern MLAs are absolutely right in asking for this particular approach. We want most of all to extend credit to low- and middle-income earners, to farmers and to small businessmen, single women, native Canadians and others who presently have difficulty obtaining financial services. Not only do the main banks make huge profits but they discriminate against customers on a ruthless basis.
Single women, Mr. Speaker, have been discriminated against for years by the banking system in trying to get mortgages. Married women, too. When it comes to chattels, a bank is very chauvinistic. Native Indian people, Mr. Speaker, small businessmen who won't ever get the help of this big banking system against the big local customer in town.
Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill is designed to break new ground, designed to assist our own people with indigenous desires and drives to develop their own communities with their own resources. We don't ask for help from anybody; we just want a chance to do something on our own.
There is a great possibility of having the credit union movement participate. I gave a press conference shortly after this bill was introduced, and the response of two of the opposition groups was predictable. The official opposition, as I understand it, has said, "No comment." That's wise. They at least know how to assess the political wind.
But what of the leader of the independent group? No, there is no leader over there. One of the first independents to go down the tube, Mr. Speaker, was the Member for Vancouver–Point Grey. You know what he said? Now listen to this: he said that this was an attempt to take over the credit union movement. That's what he said. I regret it; I don't like to repeat it. But he was on television saying that this was an attempt to take over the credit union movement when, in fact, he knows very well that this is an opportunity for the credit union movement to have 10 per cent of the whole new institution, with no way that we can tell the credit union movement what to do or not to do. They are free partners, if they wish, to pick up 10 per cent of this operation.
Now why the credit union movement? It's because the credit union movement is a co-operative. The credit union movement comes out of the bowels of history of this province, when the struggling trade unionists on Vancouver Island fought the Dunsmuirs in the coal mines; when the forest barons were using the itinerant workers in the forest industry; when the fishermen had to finance their own fishing boats. That's where the credit union movement came. Those priests in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, pioneered, on a Christian basis, the first credit union movement in Nova Scotia. The same tradition spread to British Columbia, and those common people formed the first credit union in this province.
I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that one of the greatest social histories yet to be written about this province is the social history of the struggle of those
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people who came together to form credit union branches throughout this whole province. And there's an interesting parallel. Not only were they pioneers in the independent socialist party, the Christian socialist movement in this province, but in the later 1930s, many original Social Crediters got involved in the credit union movement.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Yes, it's true, because William Aberhart, the founder of Social Credit, wanted a banking system that would give the ordinary people a break, and many Social Credit adherents become part and parcel of that great social and economic movement to create the credit union movement.
HON. MR. BARRETT: I like to remind Social Credit of their history, especially when they change their position on succession duties, how much they are denying their own heritage in what was an original social movement.
The credit union movement is part of the fabric of this province. There are over 600,000 individual members of that great co-operative effort, an effort that says: "Let us help ourselves; let us work together as ordinary people, men and women, shoulder to shoulder, to bring about a better society through co-operation in the use of money."
Money is not an end in itself. It is only an assistance to the community to build itself up and supply succour, love and some security for its citizens. It should not be an aim in life itself. That's why this bill is open to the credit union movement, because their philosophy is exactly the same philosophy as the early pioneers of this political party who wanted some social justice through economic control. I will have much more to say, of course, in the wind-up of this debate, but I want to say that we have embarked on a major innovative programme with this bill.
Like Columbia Cellulose, which we purchased and which then became Can-Cel, we decided to go for the best possible staff and people that were available in North America to help us make this enterprise work. The Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) put together an outstanding board for Can-Cel, and, unlike other government enterprises run by the feds, in the first year of operation of Columbia Cellulose, that Minister brought in a profit to the people through their own operation of $12 million; the second year, through his board, $50 million. But then they were only No. 2 when they made the profit of $50 million. This year, Mr. Speaker, after the first quarter, their profits are large enough that we're now No. 1.
So in keeping with that deliberate purpose, deliberate choice, I have today the honour and pleasure of announcing the first director who will be named to the board of this financial institution, He is a man who is a past president of the Montreal and Canadian stock exchanges. He is a former federal cabinet Minister. He is now professor of economics at McGill University, and he's agreed to serve on the board of directors of British Columbia Savings and Trust Corp. — an outstanding Canadian economist, a man of progressive thinking, a man who has made a career of serving the Canadian people, Mr. Eric Kierans.
We will continue to gather those people who have led in Canadian business and industry and economics, who have a social conscience, an awareness of social justice. They have shown their willingness to help this struggling little people's government carry on pioneering work, like we've done in the past. And I want to say, as new announcements are made, that we will add to that board to lead this institution into the finest social and economic instrument in the finance field ever created in North America.
I want to close, Mr. Speaker, by saying to our friends in New York, because the New York Legislature is now seriously contemplating a banking bill of their own, that out of this experience, even though they are free-enterprisers, if New York state wants help from little British Columbia we'll give them that help, Mr. Speaker; we'll give them that help.
So, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to this debate. I look forward to a passionate, involved debate of support from every single Member of this House because they all know that opposition to this bill would mean support for the old banking system that really puts profits ahead of people while this bill puts people ahead of profits. Thank you.
MR. W.R. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition): I was quite pleased to hear the Premier talk about bringing credit to the people of the province and to provide money at reasonable rates, but I think one of the greatest disservices that could be done by this bill is to oversell the service or oversell the benefits that can be created for the people of this province.
When this bill was introduced, I can remember the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Barrett) alluding to the fact that we already had 6 per cent mortgages from the credit unions, and, of course, there was a $100,000 fund. Well, $100,000, as the Housing Minister (Hon. Mr. Nicolson) knows, will go nowhere to providing mortgages in this province. Indeed, what we are talking about is not creating capital or money in British Columbia; we are talking, if we want to help people, about subsidizing mortgages. A new savings and trust corporation will not create money. It will
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not create money. Money can only be created and the banking system can only be solved by the federal government and can only be solved on the national level.
I would hate the people of this province to have their hopes raised. (Laughter.) I would hate them to have their hopes raised falsely and have false expectations such as they had when the Housing Ministry was created in this province that created no housing. I would hate to see a similar parallel of oversell, because we are dealing with what is a very serious problem. I would also hate to see a competitor for the British Columbia credit unions which I support and which our party supports and which I think most British Columbians support.
Now the B.C. Savings and Trust Corp. has a chance to help the credit unions, not by equity ownership but by providing capital; not by competition on the retail level in the various towns but by coming to grips with their most immediate problem, and that is a lack of funds to lend to their people. The credit unions in this province right now are the largest customers of one of the chartered banks of this province. Their problem isn't one of meeting the needs of people in the community on their savings; theirs is one of the additional capital needed to provide more and more service to people.
In reading this savings and trust corporation, if the Finance Minister and if the government uses it as a vehicle to raise funds, a vehicle to go to the market to raise funds that can be utilized by the credit unions through their retail branches, then they will have done a great service for credit unions and the people of this province. If the government, using the credit of this corporation and the credit of the province to provide this pool of capital can help and supplement the supply of capital available in the credit unions, it will be a worthy bill and a worthy institution. But if it is just another competitor and if they are going to go in and set up their own retail locations then this is no help to the credit unions; this is competition.
What built the credit unions in this province was that they weren't competing with government functions. If we contrast the credit union growth in the province to that of Alberta where they had Treasury branches, we find that credit unions grew in British Columbia and they expanded in British Columbia because the people themselves developed their own financial saving institution in which they had control and direction. But in Alberta where there was a government institution, the credit union movement did not have this type of growth. They did not have direction over their own affairs.
Now that we have the credit unions in British Columbia, let's not destroy them. Let's make this institution available to the people not as a competitor but as a supplier of capital. Supposing this institution could go to the open market which the credit unions cannot because, as we all know, although the credit unions are a major fact of life in British Columbia, important to the somewhat 600,000 members, they still do not have the credit rating to go to the open market for the type of funds they need for additional service — $50 million, $60 million, what-have-you. But this corporation, a savings and trust corporation, which has the opportunity of raising funds in various ways, can raise that capital on behalf of them. In providing that capital to the credit unions of this province at a reasonable rate and tying it into specific programmes, if, as the Premier says, he is concerned about certain types of mortgages at certain types of rates, I'd like to point out that at this time we already have the means in this province to subsidize mortgages for people in specific categories.
If he wants to extend this service to the credit union, yes, the B.C. Savings and Trust Corp. is a good idea, and on that basis we will support it. But if it is to become a competitor of the credit union, if it is to set up its own branches in competition with the credit union, then in all conscience, with our history of commitment to the credit union movement, we cannot support the bill.
So it's difficult here in second reading, without these types of assurances that we're not given in introducing the bill by the Premier, to deal effectively with questions that must be answered and can be answered in committee.
Right now, the cost of money — and money is suffering inflation along with goods — is one of the most serious problems we face. Earlier, when we were talking about mortgages, we realized that not only housing has doubled. There are some interesting statistics produced by the B.C. Federation of Labour in a study of the greater Vancouver area which show the increasing amount over a 20- or 30-year period of the cost of money and the end cost of a house. I think all Members of this House on all sides, Mr. Speaker, are concerned with the cost of money, which is not productive — in the sense of the high cost of money being a detriment to our citizens owning a home of their own.
So if in any way the B.C. Savings and Trust Corp. will help hold capital in British Columbia and can be used as a vehicle for raising capital for the credit unions who already provide a retail service, then, yes, we will support this bill, we must support this bill and I would urge every Member of this House to support this bill. But we must have the assurance of the Premier that this Savings and Trust Corp. will never, ever be a competitor to the credit union. They have developed an individual participation that's unparalleled in the financial industry. It's given people an understanding of their own financing.
When the Premier, in his black book, talks about people being intimidated in banks, that's right. But they would be just as intimidated in a government
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bank as they would in a chartered bank — perhaps more so because there's always the fear of political interference in loans and collections. But in the credit union, of which they have felt a part for many years and the people have belonged…they don't have that feeling of intimidation. They don't have that feeling of intimidation. So I would hope that the Savings and Trust Corp. could provide the capital through the credit union branches. But they don't have to be forced to be a shareholder. You can be the vehicle that guarantees them a sum of money to utilize for specific types of mortgages, mortgages that can meet a social need as well as an economic need in this province.
And, yes, let's come clean. Don't talk about the B.C. Savings and Trust Corp. having to make a profit. We're going to have to subsidize money. If you were going to use the B.C. Savings and Trust Corp. as a vehicle for deposits of our citizens, certainly you're going to have to compete for their capital at an equitable rate, along with the rates paid by the chartered banks and the savings and trust corporations that are already here. Now if you borrow at the highest possible rate, and that's giving our citizens a break, you can't turn around and lend it for less than you borrowed it. The rate of deposit is much more than the 6 per cent figure that was tossed around when this bill was introduced. So what we're really talking about, Mr. Speaker, in effect, if we're talking of benefits to people on mortgages, is subsidized mortgages.
The Credit Union could probably tie in through some government funding on this basis a commitment to meet particular needs. The $100,000 fund, as I said, went nowhere. But there is a principle of that type of subsidized money. When we consider a 6 per cent mortgage at $100,000 being lent out, we realize that really what we're talking about is a subsidy of 4 per cent if it's 10 per cent money — or $4,000 a year for every $100,000. And there are specific instances where the government is subsidizing now.
But when I look at this financial institution, the Savings Trust Corp., it could be used for so much good or it could be misused so badly that I think we'll need some assurances in committee before any Members of this House can make up their minds clearly as to which direction the Premier wishes to take this institution and how he wishes to make it serve the people and how he wishes to work in co-operation with the credit union.
You know, I mentioned this little brochure the other day. It says: "A New Financial Institution of British Columbia." It's quite assuring, after introducing ICBC and the state of the B.C. Ferries, that in this beautiful black cover it's the only thing that's in the black in British Columbia today under the control of the Premier. I hope it will continue to be so.
I don't think we should be talking about a government trying to make a profit out of money. I think the government should be there to raise capital, capital for the credit unions, capital that's unavailable to them now.
There's a second point the Premier mentioned that I would like some assurances of later on, and that is the use of the vehicle for raising the funds for any purpose; whether it's Hydro or the B.C. Rail — or in future.
During his estimates I asked the Premier if he ever thought of saving commissions by setting up their own financial corporation of British Columbia. In all reality, this has a possibility. But I would think, in dealing in the types of money it would have to raise, over and above what we have in British Columbia…. Let's remember that B.C. is a net importer of capital. Our money is not flowing out of this province through the chartered banks. I am just as much concerned about them as anyone else, but let's remember that they are lending more in this province than is being deposited in their banks in deposits.
This province will continue to need a lot of capital. To attract that capital we will need confidence: the confidence of the people, the confidence of the people who will lend capital to this province; and we will need the confidence of the credit unions with which this bill is meant to function.
I urge the House to support this bill on that basis. We will support it if the Premier, during committee or at the close of this debate, can give us the assurances that, indeed, it will help them to expand and grow and will provide that pool of sorely needed capital they are short at this particular time.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege, may I just have the courtesy of welcoming our friends from Ontario, now that they are in the gallery, the Scarlet Heights Collegiate Band from Toronto.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS (West Vancouver–Howe Sound): Is that the big blue band?
MR. WALLACE: The big red band. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, I think it is just shocking when a bill of this importance — at least the Premier says it is important — is introduced in this House with so little explanation.
HON. W.L. HARTLEY (Minister of Public Works): What do you know about it?
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Minister of Public Works, we don't know anything about it yet from that Premier.
[ Page 2891 ]
We haven't had much of a description at all. He didn't tell us anything.
HON. MR. BARRETT: You read the bill.
Mr. GIBSON: I read the bill, Mr. Premier, and the bill doesn't tell us much either. It is a blank-cheque bill, isn't it?
HON. MR. BARRETT: Oh, there you go again. Same old speech: blank-cheque, awesome powers, heavy, and state socialism. Get 'em all over at once.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, if he knows the speech so well, why doesn't he pay some attention to it?
HON. MR. BARRETT: Because it is a phony speech.
MR. SPEAKER: Oh, oh. Order, please.
MR. GIBSON: It is not a phony speech, Mr. Speaker. It has a lot of truth to it. It is a phony government, that's what it is. It is a government that is so worrisome in the troubled times we live in, trying to find a road map to what this government is going to do. From time to time I have recourse….
MR, GIBSON: There is another road map, my friends. It is Alice in Wonderland. From time to time, Mr. Speaker, I have recourse to Alice in Wonderland.
MR. R.H. McCLELLAND (Langley): David in Blunderland.
MR. GIBSON: Do you know what the Premier is doing this morning? He is doing what Lewis Carroll describes so successfully in "The Hunting of the Snark." Mr. Speaker, the Premier is out hunting snarks.
HON. MR. HARTLEY: You better duck.
MR. GIBSON: When he gets into trouble, he sets up a straw man, he waves his arms, he says: Those bogeymen! Those horrible bankers, the corporate elite of Canada — this is what is depressing the poor people of British Columbia! It's all a snark hunt. He is going to explain all the ills of this province by some evil snark.
For example, this morning we read the unhappy announcement that Dominion Bridge is closing down in British Columbia, and there are 200 jobs gone. Just like that. Do you know why they closed down, Mr. Speaker? Because there is no investment in the forest industry and the mining industry, they had to close down and lose 200 jobs. The Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) didn't tell us about that in his estimates yesterday.
AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about it now.
MR. GIBSON: The Premier is not grappling with the real problems of this province which are the loss of jobs, the loss of investments, 100,000 people out of work, all of those things to which I know he doesn't pay too much attention because he says we talk about them too much. So he is off on a snark hunt.
I just want to read a couple of verses here because they include a reference to a banker, and we now have a banker in British Columbia — across the floor of this House.
The crew was complete: it included a Boots,
A maker of bonnets and hoods,
— he is not in his seat today —
A barrister brought to arrange their
— who is also not in his seat —
And a broker to value their goods,
A billiard-marker whose skill was immense,
Who might have one more than his share,
— you can pick that one out of his cabinet —
But a banker engaged at enormous expense
Had the whole of their cash in his care.
Just one more verse past the banker, because I will
to guess who this is, too.
There was also a beaver that paced on
Or would sit making lace in the bow,
And had often, the bellman said,
Saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.
HON. MR. BARRETT: You've been reading about Trudeau's cabinet.
MR, GIBSON: No, indeed, Mr. Premier. I am reading about your cabinet. And now your cabinet, Mr. Premier, has a banker. The banker, as they are setting out on this quest, says later:
The banker suggested and offered for
On moderate terms or for sale
Two excellent policies, one against fire
And one against damage from hail.
That is actually offered by the Minister of Transport and Communications (Hon. Mr. Strachan) to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
HON. MR. BARRETT: I think you've gone over everybody's head.
MR. GIBSON: I hope it hasn't gone over your head, Mr. Premier.
[ Page 2892 ]
HON. MR. BARRETT: No, it's not likely.
MR. GIBSON: Because you've been out huntin' snarks again.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Is there a cure of the snarks?
MR. GIBSON: You haven't given us anything today other than a lot of empty rhetoric. Maybe at committee stage you will give us some more; maybe at closing debate you will give us some more.
I was shocked to hear him say that he had a lot more to say on closing second reading. That's obvious, because he had nothing to say in opening second reading. But he might have done this House the courtesy of saying it at this time.
The Premier just mentioned Mr. Eric Kierans, across the floor of the House. I would ask him if the engagement of Mr. Kierans as a director of this bank means that this bank will make no loans to mining. Is that what it means? The Premier doesn't respond to that one. But I'll tell you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Eric Kiernans, in a report he did for the Manitoba government, has shown less understanding of mining than perhaps any other individual person in this country. It's clear that one thing the savings and trust institution isn't for, is to help the mining industry.
AN HON. MEMBER: And the Liberal cause.
HON. MR. BARRETT: You really attack each other, don't you?
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier mentioned that this bank would make loans to various kinds of people around this province. That's a very good thing. The Premier mentioned the credit unions and what a good job they were doing — they have 600,000 members. Is the Premier suggesting for a minute that the credit unions don't make loans to the ordinary people of this province, that the credit unions don't make loans to the native people of this province, that the credit unions don't make loans to the single women and married women?
HON. MR. BARRETT: They don't have the capital.
MR. GIBSON: They're the third largest banking institution in this province, Mr. Premier.
HON. MR. BARRETT: They need more help.
MR. GIBSON: They need more help. Are you going to help them or are you going to hinder them? Why didn't you just pass legislation to give the credit unions greater access to funds?
HON. MR. BARRETT: We've already done that, the first couple of days.
MR. GIBSON: Why do you figure that you have to get in on the act, too? What has the Government of British Columbia got to bring to the people of British Columbia through this institution that isn't already provided?
Mr. Speaker, if the Premier can give a good answer to that question, I'll support this bill, but he hasn't given that answer yet. Would this institution, to any great extent, be a fiscal agent for the government? If it is a fiscal agent for the government, how much money is this institution going to save in the raising of government funds? A specific and important question, Mr. Speaker. The Premier hasn't touched on it. It's supposed to be one of the important functions of this institution and he hasn't touched on it.
What about low-cost loans? Is this institution going to borrow money at market rates, and lend it out at below market rates? That is what I would interpret as being low-cost loans. If that's the case, we have to turn to another verse in Lewis Carroll from "The Gardener's Song."
He thought he saw a banker's clerk
Descending from the bus.
He looked again and found it was"
If this should stay to dine," he said,
"There won't be much for us."
Will there be much for the people of this province if we have another ICBC in terms of ability to lose money? Will the Premier say in closing second reading that this institution of his will never lose money — and he'll write that into the Act? If it starts to lose money he'll close it down. Or does he plan to subsidize it from the public treasury? I think it's fair that we should know that. The Premier hasn't said anything about that. He says banks make enormous profits; maybe he's planning on making enormous profits himself, because the Premier thinks he's a great businessman, one of the pre-eminent businessmen in the Province of British Columbia. He's shaking his head with modesty. All right, then — he thinks his Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) is a great businessman.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Just a humble financier. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: The Premier implied that our current system of banking isn't making capital available to small free enterprise, and is therefore driving free enterprise out of this province. Mr. Speaker, I'll tell you what's driving free enterprise out of this province — it's that government. Unless he gives us some justification for it, this is another step
[ Page 2893 ]
in that direction. It's another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of comprehensive governmental control over British Columbia. Just one more piece in the jigsaw puzzle, Mr. Speaker, unless there's some foundation laid for it, which there hasn't been.
The Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett) mentioned in passing the political possibilities of an institution of this kind. Will the Premier address himself to that in closing second reading? Will the Premier say that there will be no coercion exercised on any Crown corporation, on any person or group under the thumb of the government in one way or another, be it forest companies or whatever — there will be no coercion on them to deal in particular ways with this institution?
Would the Premier guarantee that to this House? Will the Premier also say why, when the Province of British Columbia had a 10 per cent share of the Bank of British Columbia, already a good equity in a banking operation — and perhaps we need more, but we had that — he let that go back to Toronto to eastern ownership by the non-exercise of our rights in the Bank of British Columbia?
HON. MR. BARRETT: It's another private bank.
MR. GIBSON: And then, just a month after that, he deplored the fact that that block had gone back to Toronto.
HON. MR. BARRETT: There was no way we could control the bank. It's federal legislation. I tried to get it at WEOC and the Prime Minister slapped his gavel and said: "That's it." You belong to the same party.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. Premier, through the government the people of British Columbia had a substantially larger piece of that Bank of British Columbia than they have now. The difference has gone back to Toronto. It has left British Columbian ownership. And I say that it's not good enough for the Premier to airily dismiss that and say that that's a federal-controlled bank so British Columbia shouldn't have any part of it.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Is it not federally controlled?
MR. GIBSON: Of course it's a federally controlled bank. It's a federally chartered bank, and we had a piece of it — the people of British Columbia through the government. And that piece was owned here in B.C. Now you've been buying shares in the B.C. Telephone Company. Isn't that a federally controlled company, Mr. Premier, a federally regulated company?
HON. MR. BARRETT: It shouldn't be, but it is.
MR. GIBSON: It shouldn't be, but it is. And you are buying shares in it. So let's not use that kind of smokescreen.
MR. GIBSON: This Act has possibilities. It also has great dangers.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Ohhhh! Here comes the waffling party.
MR. GIBSON: Did you hear that, Mr. Speaker? The Premier said: "Here comes the waffle party."
HON. MR. BARRETT: That's right, the waffling party.
MR. GIBSON: Well, Mr. Waffle himself.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Are you for it or against it?
MR. GIBSON: Sure, another step in the waffle — this bill right here today. Am I for or against it! How can I tell until you tell us what it is? How can I tell until you tell us what it is?
HON. MR. BARRETT: How can I tell until I feel how the wind is blowing?
MR. GIBSON: Let's hear what you have to say. Mr. Speaker, I say it is just not good enough that the Premier and Minister of Finance of this province stands up in this House, gives us no details, asks us for a blank cheque and asks us to pass second reading on this bill. I want to hear a lot more about it. We will be examining it further in committee stage.
MR. WALLACE: We make no hesitation in our speech on this bill that we will support it. Perhaps that's my problem in politics; I can already hear the people of British Columbia saying: "That guy Scott Wallace is sucked in so easily. He takes everything at face value and thinks that everybody is well-meaning and straightforward."
The position, as I see it, in this bill is that anyone would have to be out of their minds to read the intent of this bill and stand up and vote and speak against it. The goals of this bill, surely, have to be
[ Page 2894 ]
sound, reasonable, perhaps over-ambitious. But how anyone can read the goals of the bill and discuss the principle of this bill and suggest that anybody be against it, I can't understand that.
The idea is to make money and loans available more readily to people who presently have difficulty in obtaining credit. The whole question of trying to retain some of our own money in the province and to use deposits for some of the social and economic goals: I can't see anything wrong with that. I do know there is a question that everyone in this province will be asking and questioning, and that is not the goals of this bill but the means whereby these goals are to be sought, and the efficiency or inefficiency with which the new financial institution will function. I think that that's a fair area on which anybody on this side of the House could ask questions and be less than confident that they know the answer.
We have examples by this government already that it starts out with excellent intentions to correct a situation it believes to be economically or socially false or unsatisfactory, and, in seeking some well-motivated goals, lands up with some very undesirable results. I have to think specifically of all the glorious motivation behind ICBC and all the comparisons — I couldn't help but think of it this morning when the Premier introduced a bill — about how today's introduction paralleled the introduction to the ICBC bill.
HON. MR. BARRETT: Would you destroy ICBC?
MR. WALLACE: When he introduced the ICBC bill, the contrast with the wicked insurance companies was very similar to his comparison today with the wicked banks. They were all making too much money. The position that the Minister of Finance took at that time was that the government monopoly plan would provide cheaper insurance and, of course, it would not be subsidized from general revenue or from the general taxpayer.
Well, we now know that in the first year it's lost $34 million, and it is being subsidized. So when I say that I cannot with any kind of common sense, in my view, oppose the goals of this bill, I think on this side of the House we're entitled to be a little apprehensive about the implementation of the bill and the means by which this government will proceed to achieve the goals that are so admirable. I don't think it's at all unfair or unreasonable to draw this comparison between the automobile insurance legislation as it was aimed and motivated to function, and look at the result one year later, and to compare the Minister's speech today in introducing this bill on the financial institution; and for each one of us on this side of the House and perhaps each person in British Columbia to say to himself: "Well, he started off on car insurance with much the same idea — that the little man should get the cheapest possible car insurance." Of course, in the case of the car insurance, he didn't even discuss the competitive element because, of course, car insurance became a government monopoly. At any rate, I think that comparison is worth drawing.
The Minister, in introducing second reading, spoke very critically of bank profits as being excessive and the practice of the bank to be usurious. I'd hope that in winding up this debate the Minister of Finance will give us some indication as to what his attitude will be or what the government policy will be toward this financial institution making a profit. If his answer is, "Yes, it will make a profit," the obvious questions are how much and who's going to decide what is a fair profit and what's a usurious profit. These are rather relative terms. Some people think 10 per cent is a good profit; others don't think it's worth it unless you make 18 or 24 or whatever. I think this is something that we should know.
I found some of the Minister's comments a little contradictory on the introduction of second reading. He started off by pointing out that the profits on the Bank of B.C. were up, I think, 178 per cent, as I recall the figure. He went on a little later to talk about Can-Cel. The main reason he felt obligated to praise and mention Can-Cel was that it had now become No. 1 as the profit leader in the forest industry.
So one has to ask what this new institution's policy will be toward profit and the decision as to what a reasonable and fair profit would be. I would certainly have to ask the other obvious question: if this financial institution is to make loans available at rates lower than can be obtained elsewhere, and this institution, thank God, can't manufacture money like the federal government manufactures money, but, on the other hand, it can't possibly lend out money at a cheaper rate than it obtains the money in the first place…. That brings us back to the whole question of subsidies. As I say, we've already been around the race track once with this government in the glorious plan that was going to provide a cheaper type of service without subsidies.
The Minister smiles. Now you're not going to try to tell me you're not subsidizing ICBC. But you're going to subsidize this new financial institution. As far as providing lower income earners with assistance I'm not sure that I'm that concerned if they are somewhat subsidized. All I want is to know if that's the way this financial institution will function.
MR. WALLACE: No, I'm not prepared to say that that's the policy because we are trying to state facts in the past that would now lead us to question
[ Page 2895 ]
whether the same is going to happen with this particular financial adventure as has happened with ICBC. If you'd been listening, Mr. Minister, I said a moment ago that I'm not personally opposed to the idea of providing some subsidies for such basic human needs as housing, nutrition, putting food on the table, all clothing and all shelter, the basic essentials for human beings. This society, through this financial institution, should to some degree subsidize low-interest loans. I'm not concerned about that. What I'm saying is that the reason the people of B.C. are probably apprehensive and that the opposition Members are apprehensive is that this government doesn't keep its word.
It said there wouldn't be subsidies for automobile insurance. One year later there are. My very firm opposition to that lies in the fact that I don't consider automobile insurance to be anywhere in the same league as housing, shelter, food, clothing, health care, education and all the basic human needs in our complicated society today. I just reject completely the abuse of taxpayers' money to subsidize a non-essential.
Here in this bill we're certainly talking about, elements in the daily living of each citizen of B.C., which are a far cry from whether or not you can afford to drive a Datsun or a Cadillac or what you drive, and have in part the cost of insuring that vehicle paid by the general….
MR. P.C. ROLSTON (Dewdney): Wide-ranging.
MR. WALLACE: Yes, it certainly is wide-ranging, Mr. Member. There's nothing more wide-ranging or of wider importance to any individual than access to capital and access to borrowing. I doubt if there's any one of us sitting in this chamber that doesn't have some debt somewhere on a mortgage, on a home, on a loan at the bank, or we owe Eaton's for three months of spending or whatever. Anybody who might seek to minimize the importance of the subject we're dealing with would indeed be unaware of the importance of this bill.
To that degree, I hope the Minister will mention with some detail in winding up second reading the point I raised about subsidy. Is there any clear plan as to how far the policy will be to go in providing subsidy?
The Minister mentioned the credit union involvement. Again, I found some of his remarks a little contradictory. He took great pains to mention that in the earlier history of the credit union there was involvement by Social Crediters. I always thought they indulged in funny money, the Social Crediters. I'm wondering if the Minister was implying that there's an element of funny money in the Social Credit movement.
HON. MR. BARRETT: That came later….
MR. WALLACE: Well, anyway, it seemed to me rather a strange point the Minister was trying to make. Maybe he was just trying in his usual very clever political fashion to try and persuade the Social Credit opposition to support this bill.
Some of the comments regarding the credit union involvement appeared in print in the newspapers after the bill was introduced. One of the headings here says: "Credit Unions Pondering the Barrett Plan." It seems to me that if this were such an attractive institution for the credit unions, and presumably the Minister of Finance has had long discussions with the credit unions prior to introducing this bill, it just makes me ask another question: why are the credit unions somewhat hesitant to go along with what the Minister describes as being an excellent opportunity for them to have better access to larger funding?
I notice Mr. George May, who is the general manager of the B.C. Central Credit Union, said that he would envision that on the lending side the government institution would restrict itself to mortgages, homeowner grants and other government programmes, and leave the personal loan field to the credit unions. It's too bad the Minister of Finance has just left the chamber. Perhaps the House Leader could make note, because I think this is a very important question. Oh, the Minister's back in the House.
The Minister would perhaps answer the comment made by the general manager, Mr. May, who said that he felt that on the lending side the government would stick to mortgages and homeowner grants and so on, and leave the personal loan field to the credit unions. The Minister in introducing the bill this morning mentioned quite strongly and forcefully that one of the main functions and goals of the bank would be to provide fair and non-discriminatory loans to single women, to native Indians and to other underprivileged groups. I'm wondering if he could give us a little more detail perhaps when he winds up the bill in relation to the comment of Mr. May.
Perhaps also the hesitancy of the credit unions may be the fear that once they get into some kind of an arrangement with the government…. Are they going to be a participant or are they going to be swallowed up in the course of time? This, I think, would have to be another important element.
The other two points I would like just to mention is the fact that since this government has become more and more widely involved in the business and private sector of the community, more and more people would want to wonder if political influence and interference could be a factor in the manner in which this bank functions. Once again, there's no easier way that you could squeeze anybody in this life that we live than by squeezing them in relation
[ Page 2896 ]
either to their income or their debts. It would seem to me that we would want some complete assurance.
If the Minister sincerely believes the intent of the bank as he outlined it today, it should not be difficult, in winding up the bill, to give a complete assurance that in no way would there be the risk or the vehicle for political interference and pressure on consumers using the services of this financial institution.
The last point that I think can be made is that the real problem will lie in the regulations which are related to this bill. The regulations are always the part of the legislation which the opposition Members, or the government Members for that matter, find out after the event. I wonder if the Minister of Finance could outline the degree to which some of these questions asked by all three opposition parties can be answered now, or will they only be answered when we finally are presented with the regulations attached to the bill?
Generally speaking, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that this is the kind of bill which is well worth supporting, even though some of the information that I think we could quite rightly have expected to be available in the bill is not available and, in fact, will only appear when we see the regulations to the bill. But on that basis I am certainly pleased and satisfied that the goals outlined in the bill are very worthy of support. I just hope that when the Minister winds up the debate, and later on in committee, many of the questions which the opposition parties have asked will be answered.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: I think it is interesting to compare the day of the introduction of this bill with the day that the insurance legislation was introduced in this House. The government is now presenting to the people of British Columbia another one of its building blocks in economic reform for British Columbia. I was startled a few moments ago that there were only seven government backbenchers and only two cabinet Ministers in the House. It seems to me that there is some lack of overwhelming support for what the Minister of Finance is doing here. Oh, they'll all turn up for the vote. There's no question about that.
I guess, perhaps, Mr. Speaker, the government learned from their experience with the insurance legislation just how to handle things in the House. When the insurance legislation was introduced, we had a lengthy exposition by the Minister who had the carriage of that legislation on just precisely what the government's plans were and how they proposed to carry them out. We even got some guarantees. Well, now they have learned. They created a monstrous economic blunder with ICBC, and they don't like to be reminded of some of the things that were said during those happy days of debate. Quite obviously the Minister of Finance is holding the same view today.
I was frankly disappointed with the remarks of the Minister of Finance in opening this debate. If the Savings and Trust Corp. of British Columbia is to be as important to the people and economy of British Columbia as the Minister would lead us to believe, I would have thought that he would have provided to the House a most careful analysis of what it is the government has in mind and the way in which this corporation will be used as the vehicle for carrying out policies which this government believes are necessary for the province and the institution of programmes throughout all of its regions.
But we didn't have that. Instead we had a glowing praise for the credit union movement — no one disagrees about that — and nothing else. Oh, we had criticism of those mean old banks, those terrible financial institutions.
Sure, they can be criticized. The Government of British Columbia should be bending its very best efforts to impress upon the national government the need for some changes in the regulation of chartered banks to overcome some of the inadequacies the Minister pointed out. But that's not what we had — just that they were mean old banks charging usurious lending rates. If the Minister of Finance is concerned about usurious lending rates, why doesn't he introduce legislation to prohibit them in this province? That's within his authority.
No, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in this bill, nothing. I listened to what the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) had to say, and I was quite surprised. If the government wants to table a declaration of the rights of borrowers, let them go ahead and do so. They should turn this particular problem over to the Berger commission. The Berger commission could bring in a report dealing with the freedoms of borrowers. Maybe that would satisfy the Member for Oak Bay.
Aside from some very worthwhile goals which are set out, this legislation is nothing more than an empty structure, an empty shell. Any competent law student could have closed his office door, used the facilities of any number of precedent manuals and produced this bill. It's just a framework, a skeleton. The Minister hasn't taken the time during the opening of this debate to put any flesh on that skeleton so the people of British Columbia can look at it and decide whether or not it's to be something they can respect, or a beast that they will wish they could destroy.
The Minister talked profits and banks. Of course the Minister of Finance is opposed to profits. It's a dirty word.
MR. P.C. ROLSTON (Dewdney): Reasonable profits.
[ Page 2897 ]
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: The Member for Dewdney says "reasonable profits." But then it all depends on who defines what "reasonable" is. It's like the rule of equity of which the Speaker is an ardent student. The Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) wouldn't even know what the word meant. But the Speaker does. And he will recognize that the rules in equity were as long as the chancellor's foot. That's what reasonable is, Mr. Member for Dewdney.
MR. ROLSTON: The cost of living, too.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: That's right. Now the Member for Dewdney has hit upon a most important phrase — the cost of living. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that an essential part of the cost of living for almost every citizen in this province is the cost of borrowing money.
When you are talking about a savings and trust corporation, or any financial institution of this kind, you have to recognize that you are talking about a commodity which is commonly traded, namely, money. There's no mystery about it. It's a commodity that is traded. The people who have it and who put it into savings, are seeking the best possible return they can on the moneys they put into commerce, into savings accounts. Therefore all one has to see, with what is happening today with banks and with trust companies, is that they are competing for the savings of the people. They are offering the people every possible consideration and even a bonus to bring their money in and deposit it. It's a commodity. Even differences in interest rates are sometimes not enough. They offer bonuses of television sets and everything else, if you will just bring in your money and deposit it.
Once the money has been deposited, then that same institution has an obligation, if it's not going to fail, to lend that money at rates which will enable it to pay the cost of its own borrowing and to conduct its operations.
What is happening in Canada today is that there is a reluctance on the part of people who have money to deposit to place those moneys in the hands of these lending institutions for sufficient time to support the mortgage-lending which is carried on. This is one of the reasons today that mortgage funds are drying up, just one of the reasons. Trust companies who play a major role in home mortgage financing in British Columbia are finding it increasingly difficult to have their depositors place in their hands moneys for long enough periods of time for the trust companies to embark upon any logical mortgage lending programme.
MR. R.T. CUMMINGS (Vancouver–Little Mountain): That's because of inflation.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: That's right, Mr. Second Member for Vancouver–Little Mountain. But it's all part of inflation. You see, there is no simple answer.
What is happening is that the lending institutions, the trust companies — to which we all go, or our constituents go to borrow moneys for the purposes of constructing homes — are now having to search for other means in order to compensate for the unwillingness of the people with the money to put it in their hands and lend for lengthy periods of time. So they are now talking about short-term mortgages of a year, variable-interest-rate mortgages — all the techniques of trying to overcome the fact that there is no certainty of the availability of funds because the person who has money in times of inflation does not wish to deposit those moneys on the long-term basis at fixed interest rates. He wants to be liquid, and the Second Member for Vancouver–Little Mountain understands that problem.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: That's right. The Member for Dewdney says that, certainly, he is buying gold and buying real estate because he is looking for something which will retain its value. But the dollars that he is prepared to take to his bank, to his trust company or to the savings and trust corporation or to the credit union, he's not prepared to commit those dollars for long periods of time at fixed interest rates. Therefore it is extremely difficult for those institutions to turn around and lend those moneys back out again for long periods of time at fixed interest rates. That's what the B.C. Savings and Trust Corp. is going to have to do. It certainly can't take the money in, pay high interest rates and lend it out at low interest rates. There lies tragedy; there lies loss, unless there's subsidization.
Now if there's to be subsidization, why isn't it spelled out in the bill? Is this the kind of an animal that we're creating? Are we going to subsidize it? If we are, the Minister of Finance has an obligation to tell this House and the people of this province at this stage that that is his intention. You cannot take in your money at high interest rates and lend it out at low interest rates. That's simple business sense — something, of course, which hasn't bothered the Minister of Finance of this province very much for the last couple of years, The Minister says he's going to use credit unions. This is not going to be the death knell of credit unions, he says. Credit unions are in exactly the same position as any of our other financial institutions. They, too, have to bargain for the funds which they in turn make available to their own members. The central bank concept is certainly involved, but that's the whole process. They take in their money and they lend it out to their members, and that's the way they
[ Page 2898 ]
have to function.
If the government is going to get into the business and compete, and somehow or other say to some segments of the community: "Oh, well, we'll pay you a higher interest rate than the credit unions will pay," who's going to go to the credit unions? On the other hand, if the government is prepared to say to the borrowers in our province, "We'll lend you money at lower rates than the credit union," who's going to go to the credit unions — until the credit union is forced to drop its lending rates to compete. Not the death knell of credit unions?
Let the Minister of Finance spell it out clearly in this legislation that he's not going to borrow high and lend low, and then force the credit unions into competition, which their own membership does not want.
I must comment about the other opportunity that has been given credit unions. Credit unions are going to have the right to buy 10 per cent of this wonderful corporation. But, you know, that Member for Vancouver South (Mrs. Webster) and the Member for North Vancouver–Capilano (Mr. Gibson), when speaking, said: "Who wants to be a minority shareholder?" "Ever been a minority shareholder?" is what he said. I ask the credit unions and the Minister of Finance: do you want to be a minority shareholder at 10 percent?
The Minister of Finance didn't want to be a 10 per cent minority shareholder of the Bank of B.C. He didn't want to be a 10 per cent shareholder of B.C. Tel. No, we're going to extend this great opportunity to the credit unions. Get in for 10 per cent.
Even a 10 per cent minority shareholding position is sometimes very valuable, if it's a profit-making institution. But that's a dirty word. Those terrible chartered banks are profit-making institutions. Shame on them. We're not going to have any of that profit-making institution in British Columbia. So what's the sense of having the right to be a minority shareholder — 10 per cent of an institution that's not going to make a profit?
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: It's going to take the money in at high interest rates and lend it out at low interest rates. It's going to make sure we don't make a profit, and we're going to subsidize it. Well, son of Icky-Bicky.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Yes, that's right. I would think it would be very interesting if the savings and trust corporation were going to manage the financial affairs of ICBC. If they're good enough to do that, maybe they could take over the management of the financial affairs of the entire province. If there has been one area in which this government, this Minister of Finance, has been an absolute failure it is in the matter of fiscal management. And yet we're going to have the savings and trust corporation.
There's one other aspect of this that gives me great concern. It's a question of whether we're going to have a profit-making institution or not. It's a question of whether there's the possibility of loss in the operation of this corporation, similar to what we've experienced with ICBC.
One thing about the Canadian banking system that has made it unique in the world is its stability and its security. Banks in the United States of America have and today still are failing. People have to have real concern in the United States of America and the other countries of the world where they put their dollars, their savings. They have to be concerned about the security of those financial institutions. They are subject to serious fluctuations in the world economy. Banks in Germany, banks in Switzerland, banks in Italy all have failed, with major financial loss to the people who have placed their trust and faith in those institutions. Mr. Speaker, this has not been the case in Canada. This has not been the case in Canada; and it is not the case because of careful regulation and control of the banking system under the legislation of the national government.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if you look carefully in this legislation, you find that the Savings and Trust Corp. of British Columbia is not subject to the control and regulation similar to that of the chartered banks. As a matter of fact, you will find that it is not subject to many of the provisions, a vast number of the provisions, of the Companies Act of this province. It is not subject to the provisions of the Trust Companies Act of this province. There is nothing in this bill giving any assurance to the Members of this House or to the people of British Columbia that this Savings and Trust Corp. to which the government will invite the people to deposit their savings…. There is nothing to ensure that this organization, this corporation, will be subject to independent regulation, control and examination — independent of government, independent of the board of the corporation. It is not even to be subject to the regulation and control required of trust companies.
You recall what happened in this province a few years ago when the government failed to exercise its authority in the control and regulation of one of our trust companies, and I refer to Commonwealth Trust. When the government failed to do what it should have done with regard to that company, it failed with disastrous consequences. Where is the regulation and control of this Savings and Trust Corp?
When I look at what has happened with ICBC, when we hear all the rumours about B.C. Rail, when we find that the open government promised to us by
[ Page 2899 ]
the NDP is nothing more than a sham, I cannot support this legislation unless there is written into it iron-clad guarantees with regard to examination, regulation and control.
HON. D. G. COCKE (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear the Minister of Finance, the Premier, open debate on this bill, indicating how important it was to the people of British Columbia. We recognize the fact, and all of us have said this at times — it might be at a cocktail party, or it might be on the job, in the coffee room or in the lunch room on the job — that the Rocky Mountain barrier, those mountains that stand between the east and the west, so to speak, even divide the most western province from its other westerly neighbours. Sometimes we feel that that shield, that Rocky Mountain barrier, makes us the forgotten people in the whole area of finance.
I spent most of my career, Mr. Speaker, in the life insurance industry. One of the things that most of us in that industry felt, because it was very close to finance…. Remember that the life insurance industry carries a great load of the financing, particularly from the lending standpoint, of Canada. Most of us watched what was happening to the financial institutions of the country, and their bias was toward the east. I know that even if I were in the east I could make some very strong statements with respect to the way that the Canadian economy has been sold out. I'm not suggesting for one second that what we have before us is the means of buying it back. But, Mr. Speaker, it is a help in that regard and can form a greater bulwark for B.C. to make some of its own financial decisions.
The last speaker was talking about the ICBC in terms of somewhat disrespect. Mr. Speaker, one of the bulwarks of B.C. has been ICBC. Two hundred million dollars of our money has been kept in this province just because of the fact that ICBC was there. Some people make the statement that the only reason ICBC was set up was to provide low-rate car insurance. Of course that was one of the reasons for the people in British Columbia, and 85 per cent of them wanted it. Now, Mr. Speaker, the people in this province are delighted because of the fact that ours is a stronger economy today because of the fact that that extra $200 million is here to do what is needed for this province.
What will happen as a result of this new financial institution for this province? It will also just work that same kind of hardship on those New York and Bay Street people who over the years have not been able to see over the Rocky Mountain obstruction.
So, Mr. Speaker, I hope that everyone in the House, after giving thought to this very fine piece of legislation proposed, will think it over over the weekend. I therefore move adjournment of this debate until the next sitting of the House.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Speaker, we are going to turn now to second reading of one or two bills and, depending on the time here, if we can before 1 o'clock, we would move on to the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources. Second reading of Bill 90.
FREE PUBLIC TOILETS ACT
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, Bill 90, the bill intituled Free Public Toilets Act, has been received by the people in this province with a great deal of enthusiasm. Mr. Speaker, they are flushed with pride.
MR. ROLSTON: That should be Bob Williams' bill.
HON. MR. COCKE: I would like to comment after the bill was introduced a few days ago on the handling of the bill by one of the television stations, CBC. I thought that was an imaginative piece of work. I think it caught the kind of feeling that was out there regarding this whole question of free public toilets.
AN HON. MEMBER: The bill is from the majority movement.
HON. MR. COCKE: In all my life, Mr. Speaker, I have never found anyone who was particularly enthusiastic about going into a public building and finding, for want of a dime or a nickel as it used to be — or 1 cent in Australia in places, I understand — having been found short, they have to crawl under a door. We feel in this government that people should have the right to the convenience that should be provided free for the people of B.C. in public places.
I notice there have been some comments from people who indicate there would be a possibility that this might lead to unclean facilities. I don't buy that concept. Just for warning for anyone who might feel that way who owns public premises, the Health department will be watching that aspect.
As I said before, this is a very popular bill, particularly with the women of this province.
MR. L.A. WILLIAMS: Stand up for women's rights.
HON. MR. COCKE: We have stood up for women's rights in this parliament since 1972, and we will continue to stand up for women's rights.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to see to it that no one believes the rumours that have been spread recently
[ Page 2900 ]
that we plan to nationalize the toilet facilities of British Columbia. No, we don't. But we plan to make them available to British Columbians.
MR. WALLACE: Nothing's freer than free!
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Oak Bay (Mr. Wallace) is quoting a very old quote. I'm not going to put it on Hansard because it has been said so often in this House that I'm sure one more time might affect the quality of the dome.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that everyone will co-operate. I particularly hope that if there is any discussion with respect to the MOT using their federal clout to keep pay toilets in the airports, then I hope that the federal government will co-operate and see to it that in British Columbia, in any event, they will abide by the rules of this province. I therefore move second reading.
AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!
MRS. D. WEBSTER (Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that the Minister of Health has introduced this bill; I am heartily in support of it. Let me say to start with that I received from the Member for Langley (Mr. McClelland) a little notice out of the paper saying that pay toilets are now being outlawed in Nevada: "Governor Mike O'Callaghan Tuesday" — that's May 27 — "signed a bill outlawing the only pay toilets in a public building in Nevada. The measure bans pay toilets in all government buildings. The only one in the state is in the women's restroom in Reno International Airport." So that's another blow for women's liberation. Here we have another one right here.
MRS. WEBSTER: Certainly, I'm flushed with success. Thank you for the expression.
These are only little ways of nibbling at getting equal rights for women, for doing away with discrimination, but I think that this is a very, very important one right here. Why should women have to be prepared to have dimes in their pockets for being able to go to a public washroom? As a matter of fact, after I first introduced the suggestion of it at the time that the Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) brought in the bill in regards to the status of men and women amendment Act, you would be surprised at the number of Members who have come up to me and asked me if I needed an extra dime. Fortunately for us, in this building there is no such thing as a pay toilet.
I am looking forward now to seeing third reading and enactment of this legislation.
MR. D.A. ANDERSON (Victoria): Mr. Speaker, we're happy that the Second Member for Vancouver South spoke second in this bill and surprised, indeed, that the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke), who seems to have adopted this particular piece of legislation, didn't perhaps allow her to introduce the bill as a private Member's bill and make history by having this come forward as a private Member's bill. Certainly in this House she was the one who advocated it, and she deserves full credit for this bill. I would like to make sure that no one is under any misapprehensions that the Minister of Health thought this up on his own. The Member for Vancouver South deserves a full measure of credit for this bill.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of points on principle which I think are important in this piece of legislation. I would like to refer you in particular to the origins of the bill and the insidious type of legislation this is bringing in, at least in the view of one person who was quoted in the Colonist on the 30th of this month. Quoting from the Colonist:
"Robert Stambach, sales manager for Nik-O-Lok Co., the biggest operator in the pay toilet field, said in a news dispatch from the firm's Indianapolis headquarters that anti–pay toilet legislation is an aftermath from the Watergate scandals."
We went on to say: "This onslaught of legislation, (referring to the laws being passed or considered in many American states) is because of the Liberals. That's all." Well, I don't think it was all because of the Liberals, unless, of course, the Hon. Member would like to share our Liberal sentiments in this.
"Stambach said most free toilet legislation has resulted from pressure by feminist groups." Well, I am not sure that he is right. Certainly, he has vested interests in making sure those locks — most efficient locks I understand they are — stay on the doors.
We certainly welcome this particular measure. Indeed, I believe I was the second speaker after the Hon. Member for Vancouver South (Mrs. Webster) when she first proposed this, and my party and I endorsed her views. It's an indication of the government going down the drain, of course, that they now try and introduce popular measures such as this one. This, perhaps, will outrank many of their other measures in terms of impact upon the public.
There are other legislatures considering similar legislation. In Oklahoma, apparently, the state senate has just passed a bill where anybody installing a pay toilet in Oklahoma could face a fine up to $1,000 or a year in jail. I am glad there is not this prohibitive measure in this particular piece of legislation. That sounds a little stiff — $1,000 dollars to violate their so-called open-john bill. I might add, the vote on that was 44 to 0. So, clearly, across the continent there is strong support for this measure.
I would certainly endorse the Second Member for
[ Page 2901 ]
Vancouver South and a bill whose parentage is in no question — it's the Second Member for Vancouver South's, but apparently one which the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Cocke) at least claims fraternity to.
MR. WALLACE: Mr. Speaker, as a Scotsman who likes to look after his pennies, I think this is an excellent bill. It's one of the anti-inflationary bills that this government has brought in. You might even call it a deflationary bill, too. (Laughter.) I think it makes a lot of sense.
Of course, as a Scotsman, the other reason I am so interested in the bill isn't only that it saves money, but it has preventive medical aspects to it as well. I am sure the House knows, Mr. Speaker, that the originators of the limbo dance were Scotsmen who, in fact, learned the dance by being the ones most able to get under the door. So there is a lot of Scottish history tied up in this bill. (Laughter.)
Since the Minister is dedicated to preventive medicine and keeping people fit and agile, I think this might be one of the disadvantages of this bill — that a lot of people who formerly got this kind of exercise might now neglect to seek alternatives. But it does show that this government is continuing to pursue equal rights for women. I am not sure that this is a right the women will stand up for, but it's another right which I think they are entitled to.
The Attorney-General (Hon. Mr. Macdonald) was also asking me, as a person who formerly talked about unity — a person who formerly, if you want to be very precise, talked about the unity movement — if this particular bill had anything to do with the majority movement. I think it was the Attorney-General who asked that question. I am sure it hasn't, because I discussed it with the Minister earlier and the intent is very clear and pure, I am sure.
I think, perhaps, the last point, and less jocular, is the fact that I think there is a possibility that there might be a deterioration of standards in the maintenance of some facilities, not all by any means. But statements have been made publicly since the bill was introduced that the revenue derived from the existing pay toilets is used as a means of paying for the upkeep of the facilities. I am sure the Minister will keep a very careful check on this. I think it is just one of the possible dangers. But, apart from that, I see nothing but good from this bill, and we strongly support it.
MR. ROLSTON: Mr. Speaker, nobody has wondered whether this bill was really constitutional. In reading the BNA Act, section 92(16), it says that the occlusive powers of the provincial legislatures are generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the province. So I am sure that this….
MR. WALLACE: Well, what's more private than this?
MR. ROLSTON: Nothing. Nothing could be more private. Nothing could be more comfortable and sacred than this exercise and this part of our lives. So I am sure it is constitutional and I am sure that the MOT in the airports — I find it an especially annoying place, the Vancouver International Airport — will see their way to see that the federal toilets apply to Bill 90. 1 think that this is a very small but practical step.
It's not just a coincidence that it's International Women's Year. The only two letters I received were from women in my riding who commended the legislation and felt that this really was a small step forward.
I suppose some of us are too cheap to actually spend a dime. I remember several times just waiting until someone came out. Sometimes when it's a dime, we will wait to see if we can find a parking space for our car where there is still some time left, or whether there is somebody coming out of the toilet chamber, and we can slip back in.
This, I think, may be a majority movement bill, as the Attorney-General says, where everybody can stand up and support it. I think it should be commended.
I certainly appreciate the preliminary work that my colleague from Vancouver South (Mrs. Webster) did in initially promoting it, and commend her. I assume it will be passed in second reading by you all.
MR. McCLELLAND: I just wish to say that we, too, support this bill. It is an important measure in the elimination of discrimination in British Columbia. The honourable gentleman who sells the pay toilets was a little mistaken in his comments in the paper this morning. It wasn't the Watergate scandal that caused this bill — it was the water closet scandal that caused it. I am very happy that the Member for Vancouver South can now end her picket of the downtown bus depot in Vancouver.
I think we only have to go a little further with this bill and make sure that we start encouraging, whether by legislation or something else, the provision of facilities in major downtown areas, in communities and in major centres, which so far seem very reluctant to provide those facilities.
There have been a lot of strange jokes about this bill, but it is a serious bill. The only thing I would like to say to the Minister is that we also need to end that discrimination that he talked about yesterday with regard to the extra costs for toilet facilities on the Princess Marguerite. The Minister attempted to get out from under that one by saying that it was because she crossed the international border, the 49th parallel. I would just ask the Minister whether or not everyone on board will get a refund if they take
[ Page 2902 ]
advantage of those facilities before we hit the 49th parallel.
Mr. Speaker, we certainly support this bill.
HON. G.R. LEA (Minister of Highways): Behind every Watergate there is a mill house. (Laughter.)
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, I too want to thank the Member for Vancouver South for her ideas in this matter. I want to thank the rest of the House for their support.
I wasn't at all surprised this morning when I noticed the comments from the president of the corporation down in the States that provides these facilities, these locks that seem to always work.
I will say, Mr. Speaker, that maybe there has been some good come out of pay toilets. I learned from one of my colleagues that he learned to dance standing in front of a toilet door with only eight cents in his pocket. But other than that very small good that has come out of this area, none that I can see presents itself.
I alluded to the deterioration of standards earlier.
As far as the provision of facilities, let us just think about that for a second. All the small restaurants, the mom-and-pop restaurants, the little hamburger stands and so on, have to provide facilities, and they provide free and clean facilities in most instances. Service stations — free and clean facilities. Small businesses are expected to. But somehow or another over the years in big businesses, major hotels, the airport terminals, and the like, it has been anticipated that you will have to pay. But you don't have to pay at the small restaurant, et cetera. So there has been a discriminatory aspect to the whole question.
Mr. Speaker, I therefore move second reading of this bill.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, I won't ask for a division, despite the fact that my colleague felt that he had heard a no.
MR. SPEAKER: I cannot hear him if he is not in his seat.
Bill 90, Free Public Toilets Act, read a second time and referred to Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Speaker, second reading of Bill 98,
Hospital Insurance Amendment Act.
HOSPITAL INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT, 1975
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, Bill 98 makes some changes to the Hospital Insurance Act. There are a number of amendments here and I will just very quickly go through those amendments so that they are understood.
In the first place, the definition of beneficiary or qualified person needs updating because it currently refers to premium payments which ceased to be made in April, 1954. This change ties in with another section of the bill which also dealt with premium payments.
The bill goes on to delete the "outpatient clinic" term. That was put into the Act many, many years ago. It is being replaced by "diagnostic and treatment centre," the term that we have been using for a number of years. 'We wanted to get one term to describe one situation.
You will notice that in the past in hospitals, for instance, you call the diagnostic treatment centre aspect the outpatient clinic. But in a local health centre you call it a diagnostic and treatment centre. We want the terms to be the same because they represent the same thing. So that's just clearing that up.
Definitions of "family" and "head of family" are being deleted because they are no longer needed in the Act, Mr. Speaker. Generally speaking, a person's eligibility is individually determined on his or her residence in the province. For instance, if a man's wife and children move to British Columbia six months after he does, they have to undergo the standard waiting period and therefore will not become eligible in B.C. until six months after the man does.
If a family moves to B.C. from another province, the other provincial plan will continue to cover the wife and children as long as they live there and during the waiting period in B.C.
Also the definition of "premium" is being deleted for reasons that I have set out already. There is no premium any longer, and hasn't been for many years in hospital insurance.
Then, Mr. Speaker, in section 2 of this bill we are also making changes. The words that we are adding here to section 6 are necessary to make it clear that the regulations may authorize the Minister to define different categories of outpatient care, to specify the types of treatment or diagnostic services that are provided.
This is important in the regulations dealing with outpatient
benefits, distinguishing between the different outpatient services. For
instance, there is psychiatric care; there is outpatient rehabilitation
care. It is necessary to permit a large hospital to provide a wider
range of services than those authorized for a small hospital which is
not as well equipped and which doesn't have as wide a range of medical
specialists on its medical staff. So, really, what we are doing here is
giving an opportunity to
[ Page 2903 ]
distinguish between different services.
The bill goes on, Mr. Speaker, to deal with premium payments by the Minister of Finance on behalf of B.C. residents. Now that's being repealed. That was left in a way as a gimmick. It was introduced in 1954 when the requirements for the payment of premiums by individuals was discontinued in B.C., the reason being that in the mid-'50s a person could claim income tax exemption in respect of large hospital bills paid on his behalf by a hospital plan. As long as he was paying a premium on such payments this payment was made and he got income tax relief. Therefore section 7 in the old Act was there to maintain that fiction so that the premiums were being paid on behalf of the residents of B.C. so that they could, if they were hospitalized, send those hospital bills in on their income tax. But that no longer is the case because the type of income tax exemption was cancelled by the federal government, and that happened at the time of cost-sharing with the federal-provincial hospital insurance agreement.
The bill goes on, Mr. Speaker, to enact in place of the old section 7 a new section 7. I can describe it by saying that it sometimes happens that a brother or a sister of a patient who is donating a vital organ, such as a kidney, is not a B.C. resident. In such cases it is deemed necessary and advisable to be able to pay the donor's hospital costs for the removal of the vital organ. There are relatively few cases in B.C., but it is not deemed equitable that the patient or the donor should have to pay the donor's hospital costs.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other sections, purely housekeeping sections in this bill. There is a new clause that is being added to make it clear that the provincial government's share of debt costs, which is required under the Regional Hospital Districts Act, should be paid under the Hospital Insurance Act.
There is also a new clause being inserted to make it clear that the per diem remuneration of travelling expenses for members of the medical appeal board, established under the Hospital Act, can be paid under the Hospital Insurance Act. Remember the other day we described some changes that we were bringing about in the Hospital Act to sort of update that medical appeal board, and here we are providing for the funding of that board.
Mr. Speaker, I suggest that this bill is an excellent piece of housekeeping legislation to keep our statutes in line with contemporary situations, and I therefore move second reading.
[Mr. G.H. Anderson in the chair.]
MR. WALLACE: I would agree that there are obviously many housekeeping elements in the bill, and there are only two aspects I would just like to comment on.
In defining categories of outpatient care and specifying what services will be provided, I wonder if the Minister could explain to what degree — and maybe I'm anticipating events in September — this amendment is intended to help in this whole business of getting more federal cost-sharing for services outside the strict confines of the hospital building.
I can recall a few years ago when the words "outpatient services" were just not acceptable to the federal government in terms of being justified in cost-sharing. So in typical fashion, by just changing the wording without changing the intent, we started what was called "day-care surgery," which to all intents and purposes is an out-patient service. The patient comes in in the morning, has the operation and goes home in the afternoon. But the federal government took the very rigid position that they would not share the cost of outpatient services, so instead of calling it out-patient services we had to call it something else.
This is the absolute farce of federal-provincial politics so much of the time. You achieve the same goal and the same intent, but you sometimes have to use different words or play games or bring it under the Canada Assistance Act, or under another Minister. You have to fiddle around, when in point of fact the end result turns out to be the same. In my view, the federal government should indeed be doing much more. I just wonder if this particular amendment will help in the negotiations in September by making definitions in such a way that they're acceptable to the federal people.
The only other comment I would make is in relation to the organ transplant situation. The Minister quite rightly says that there aren't that many transplants in British Columbia at the present time. But I know that it's a tremendous realm in the future. The government and the former government also should take credit for at least having become involved in legislation to cover the whole field of tissue transplants. I'm rather pleased that the government is continuing to become aware of the fact, while it's not a big segment of the Health Minister's responsibilities at the moment, that the whole field of organ transplant in the future is going to be both a benefit and a real problem to any Health Minister. The costs are going to be just fantastic. Nevertheless it's like every other advance in science or technology or medicine. We surely shouldn't deny people the human benefits simply because we have difficulty either in the financing or the administering.
It only makes sense that if a donor of a kidney is outside the province and giving life or sustaining life for someone else, twin, relative or otherwise…that they shouldn't be penalized by donating that kidney. Of course, it goes without saying that if the kidney transplant is successful, then the department is spared
[ Page 2904 ]
the continuing cost of dialysis for the next 10 or 20 years or whatever.
So this bill is a little more than housekeeping. There are at least two excellent principles in the bill, and I support it strongly.
DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Hon. Minister closes the debate.
HON. MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear those words from the Member for Oak Bay. I certainly recognize the fact that this has been going on for a long, long time. I think it's unfortunate. By this I meant his whole question of definition — change of definition in order to attract more or sharing, or change the definition in order to obviate the necessity of providing a service. That's the other side of the coin.
The actual defining of the outpatient care, however, was not to move in on the feds in any way. We want them to accept a new principle in this regard. The new principle that we want them to accept is the fact that outpatient care, now called diagnostic and treatment, out of the hospital or in the hospital on a day-care basis should be part of the whole formula. We also feel that we should go a lot further than that, as you know, including home care.
Really what we're doing here is just to more clearly define so that people can understand the relationship of what was formerly outpatient care, so that the community programmes match the hospital programmes and we know that the same thing is being done. But then, of course, we're breaking it down to some extent in that we're defining some of their particulars in these areas such as, for instance, outpatient rehabilitative care. That clearly defines what's happening under that programme. That would most likely be occupational therapy or physiotherapy or something along that line — where, on the other hand, outpatient psychiatric service again is clearly defined.
So, Mr. Speaker, the other area with respect to tissue transplant: I must say that we are certainly backing that service in every way we can. But I do agree with the Member for Oak Bay in that we're dealing here with the last-dollar syndrome to be sure.
For instance, you have to make up your mind, thinking in terms of a heart transplant or other tissue transplant that might be very, very costly. It might very well be anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. You have to think in terms of how many other lives can be saved if, in fact, that kind of work is not done. These kinds of decisions are going to have to be made in the future very, very carefully. Also, we have to think in terms of a great deal more emphasis on prevention.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of this bill.
Bill 98, Hospital Insurance Amendment Act, 1975, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting after today.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to permit debate in Committee of Supply for this sitting.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Dent in the chair.
ESTIMATES: DEPARTMENT OF
LANDS, FORESTS AND WATER RESOURCES
On vote 126: Minister's office: $150,833 — continued.
MR. J.R. CHABOT (Columbia River): We can't pass this vote that quickly. There are lots of questions to be asked. The unexpected estimates of the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources (Hon. R.A. Williams) have appeared.
MR. CHABOT: Mon ami, vous vous souvenez que je parle le francais. Vous parlez seulement que l'anglais aujourd'hui.
During the estimates of the Department of Housing, Mr. Chairman, I asked some questions of the Minister. At the time his last response to me was that I should look to the Minister of Lands for the reply — you know, during the estimates of the Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson). It had to do with the water system at Burns Lake, where in the community they have a large, government-funded forestry complex coming on stream. There is apparently a unique situation developing at Burns Lake relative to a subsidy of the water system, unique in the fact that this kind of subsidy is not available to other communities in the Province of British Columbia.
In correspondence between Mr. Chatterton and Mr. Begg, the Deputy Minister of Housing, in March — a copy went to your department through Mr. Pearson — the Department of Housing was suggesting that there was a required subsidy of between $300,000 and $350,000 in that community, not necessarily attributable to the on-site or off-site provision of services to a trailer pad in the housing complex the Department of Housing is establishing in that community. There's been a bit of talk in this correspondence dealing with the possibility of the
[ Page 2905 ]
Department of Lands purchasing land to justify this unique form of subsidy for a municipality, which is apparently not available to other municipalities.
I am wondering whether the Minister could tell me whether internally within the confines of his department there has been this kind of — not shell game exactly — manipulation to ensure that a subsidy is made available to that municipality because of additional water system costs. I doubt very much if the money's been given directly to the municipality of Burns Lake, but could the Minister tell me whether there has been some kind of financial output from his department which he might be reluctant to call a subsidy but which in fact is a subsidy to a municipality which appears to be not available to any other municipality in the province?
It appears that you have to have a government-oriented forestry complex underway before you can get this kind of assistance from a government department in the form of an indirect subsidy. I wonder if the Minister would tell me if there has been any financial contribution from the Department of Lands, or the Department of Forests, or the Department of Water Resources, either to the municipality of Burns Lake, or whether there has been some kind of financial arrangements between your department and the Department of Housing.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Mr. Chairman, of course we are very proud of the government participation in the Babine Forest Products enterprise.
MR. CHABOT: What about Rim? Are you proud of Rim?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: It's unprecedented in the history of this province, having a minority equity through a corporation that the government owns now 82 per cent of and 8 per cent equity with the Indian and non-status people of that region. It's unprecedented in terms of new employment for local people with new industrial development.
Of course there has been full co-operation with the village council at Burns Lake on a considerable scale. There's the community development organization for the Indian people; there's the native development corporation, which is a great success and which is continuing its own entrepreneurial activities in related native enterprises in the region. It's a great success, unique, and something that could have been done 22 years ago but for the lack for foresight of a former government.
Insofar as the community is concerned, of course there are unique growth problems where this kind of great activity in the industrial sector is taking place. So there have been co-operative arrangements with the Ministry of Housing and with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. We have been involved in land assembly projects in the Burns Lake area jointly with these two departments. There has been aid with respect to water utilities in that area in relation to those land assembly projects.
MR. CHABOT: Oh, no, no. Beyond that.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: That seems to me to be eminently reasonable, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, the Minister conveniently avoided the questions that I put to him. He went on to relate to us the great success story of Babine Forest Products. I am not suggesting that it won't be because the government has the economic clout and ability to manipulate stumpage costs, et cetera, in that part of the world to the detriment of many of the other sawmills in the area. We remember full well what happened to Rim Forest Products and the kind of punitive stumpage rates that the government imposed on them vis-à-vis what they were allowing stumpage for their own corporation, the 79 per cent-owned corporation of Can-Cel.
The Minister talked about co-operative arrangements; he talked about the additional costs related to the government-oriented land development up there. But I'm talking about additional water system financial aid beyond the on-site off-site additional costs that were generated by the development in that community. Maybe I should read the letter to the Minister regarding the Burns Lake water system. It reads as such, dated March 12, 1975:
"Hon. Lorne Nicolson had indicated to me" — this is George Chatterton, the associate Deputy Minister writing — "that there were some funds available in the estimates of the Department of Lands for land services. These funds must be used before the end of the fiscal year. Normally the funds are available, providing the invoices are submitted before the end of April.
"In contacting Mr. Norman Pearson, Associate Deputy Minister of Lands, it appears that the proposal is that of the Department of Lands who have purchased some of the lots in the existing subdivision which we have already serviced."
Has the Department of Lands purchased any of those lots that were already serviced by the Department of Housing?
"In effect The Department of Lands is reimbursed costs for our costs for servicing. In turn, these lots will be given to the Department of Lands, which presumably they would dispose of by way of 99-year cash leases. The funds we would receive would be used by the Department of Housing to subsidize the water system of the Village of Burns Lake. The
[ Page 2906 ]
required subsidy is reported to be in the order of $300,000 to $350,000."
The Minister of Housing suggested that there had been no subsidy. There had been normal costs of servicing the lands in Burns Lake — the on-site off-site costs of servicing. In relationship to the subsidy which is mentioned in this memorandum from the Department of Housing, the Minister suggested that I talk to the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources.
I want to know whether there has been a precedent established here, whether there is a new, on-going programme for assistance to municipalities in this province. Or is the programme a unique one to the community of Burns Lake because the government has equity in a forestry complex in that community? It's a really simple question. We want to know whether there's going to be fairness of distribution of taxpayers' dollars in this province or is the largess only going to be spread to the communities that have a government-oriented, government-dominated forestry complex within their confines?
He goes on:
"It is my view that it is not the function of the Department of Housing to subsidize water systems in any municipality." I agree with that. "We would carry the normal off-site costs that could be attributable to our own development."
I don't think the Minister was listening to that particular paragraph or that particular sentence. That sentence reads again, Mr. Chairman — it's the Department of Housing speaking now:
"We would carry the normal off-site costs that could be attributable to our own development and we would be quite prepared to do this for our proposed housing subdivision and mobile home park at Burns Lake. As a matter of expediency it might be possible for the Department of Housing to advance these funds on an interim basis. But I believe some other agency of government must provide the subsidy for the village water system."
They're picking up the off-site, on-site costs of servicing that land, be it for the trailer pads, for the housing complex, state-owned lots or anything else of that description.
AN HON. MEMBER: Apartments, too.
MR. CHABOT: State-owned apartments, the Minister says.
"Mr. Pearson did indicate to me that the Department of Lands might be prepared to finance part of the off-site services for a proposed development in Burns Lake. The Department of Lands would have to receive a number of lots in proportion to their financial contribution."
Now they have already suggested that they are prepared to meet the additional costs on the off-site.
Has the Minister made any financial contribution to the community of Burns Lake beyond the normal financial responsibilities of servicing a new subdivision, be it on-site or off-site, and, if so, to what extent? Has the Department of Lands purchased from the Department of Housing any lots or trailer pads for which the funds might have been turned over to the municipality or turned over to face up to the additional costs of that municipality, which is apparently not available to other non-government oriented forestry complex communities?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: The answer is yes, Mr. Chairman. The government is looking at similar situations where there are non-government entities, or non-equity entities, in terms of government involvement. Of course, as the Hon. Member knows, the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Lorimer), in terms of his historic work in sharing gas revenues with the municipalities of British Columbia, is looking at aid programmes with respect to water distribution systems.
MR. CHABOT: Just one short additional question. The Minister has said: "Yes, there has been a subsidy to the community of Burns Lake."
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Contribution.
MR. CHABOT: Oh, he wants to call it a contribution. Contribution is all right with me. The Minister wants to play around with words. It's a subsidy, according to the Department of Housing.
HON. Mr. LAUK: What's wrong with that?
MR. CHABOT: What's wrong with that? The Minister of Economic Development, who with his government is basically responsible for the closing down of Dominion Bridge — and 350 jobs are lost in British Columbia…. Now I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with a subsidy for a water system within the community of Burns Lake. But I want to see equity and fair distribution of the tax dollars within this province, I don't want to see preferential treatment to a community in which the government has the forestry investment complex. I want to see every other community in this province entitled to the same kind of contribution on the per capita basis that was given to the community of Burns Lake.
Now the Minister has suggested that there is going to be assistance in the future. Is there going to be legislation regarding financial assistance for water
[ Page 2907 ]
systems in this province? The Minister said there is. Is there going to be legislation dealing with that in this session? Or is this a one-shot subsidy for the community of Burns Lake which is not available to the other communities? Now will the Minister tell me, once and for all, what was your contribution or your subsidy? What was the total amount of the subsidy to the community of Burns Lake? Oh, the Minister has amnesia, selective amnesia.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: No, no, settle down your seagull and we will discuss the matter. Yes, there were funds within our department…
MR. CHABOT: How much?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: …that had not been used with respect to other land development projects that we could handle under the vote. So we worked with the other departments. Shocking! I guess it never happened in Social Credit days. Maybe the Minister of Lands never used to co-operate. There never was a Minister of Housing under your administration. So there is co-operation with the Minister of Housing.
MR. CHABOT: State-owned housing! State-owned!
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I am sure that the people who will be moving into Burns Lake when this major industrial complex moves ahead, again ahead of schedule, will be pleased that there is such involvement by government as working in terms of developing trailer courts and seeing to it that there are subdivisions and seeing to it that there are utilities and services and seeing to it that there is rental accommodation and facilities in the town. In the old days your governments left it all up to the big companies, with no involvement of the local village and the local elected people, no involvement of a housing administration at the provincial level. Everything was a company-town orientation. We have changed that. If that's what you stand for and if that's what you are asking for, then get your seagull up and try and sell it around the province.
MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, the Minister gets all heated up over nothing, really. He talks about company-oriented towns. What do you think you're going to have in Burns Lake? A government-oriented and a great government-dominated community, that's what it is. You are going to have state-owned apartments, state-owned trailer parks….
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Are you against it?
MR. CHABOT: Well, certainly I am against it. I am against the state owning all the land.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Do you want to debate in Burns Lake?
MR. CHABOT: What difference is there between a company-dominated town and a government-dominated community, such as you have in Burns Lake?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Ask the mayor about it.
MR. CHABOT: State-owned housing.
MR. CHABOT: People — that's where my philosophy and yours differs. I believe in the right of the individual to own his own home and the land it sits on as well. You don't Mr. Minister. That Minister has the gall to say that all their programmes are ahead of schedule. Look at the railcar manufacturing plant in Squamish.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: It was ahead of schedule.
MR. CHABOT: About 15 months behind.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: It was ahead of schedule.
MR. CHABOT: It was ahead of the mixed up Minister over there who should resign from the board. That's for sure.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Oh, come on.
MR. CHABOT: It was supposed to open January 1, 1974. It rolled out its first car on May 27, 1975, at an additional cost of 60 per cent to the taxpayers of this province. Some progress in Squamish! Some ahead of schedule in that community, I'll tell you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Would the Hon. Member confine his remarks to vote 126?
MR. CHABOT: I'm just making a parallel to the Minister suggesting that everything the government undertakes is ahead of schedule, when I know full well that it is not.
MR. D.E. SMITH (North Peace River): Would you ask the Minister to return to his own desk?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I think the point is well taken by the Member for North Peace River. I would ask the Hon. Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) to restrain himself and if he wishes to speak, to speak from his own seat.
[ Page 2908 ]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would the Hon. Members allow the Member for Columbia River to continue with his remarks?
MR. CHABOT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your bringing a little bit of order and decorum to this House.
The Minister recently said, yes, there is a financial contribution, a subsidy to the community of Burns Lake. Yes, there has been a….
Now I think I have the right to ask the Minister — not 67 times necessarily — but as an elected representative, the watchdog of the taxpayers' dollars, I have a right to find out just what kind of contribution has been made by that department to the community of Burns Lake, relative to the additional costs imposed on that community because of a forestry complex being established in that community.
The Minister of Housing (Hon. Mr. Nicolson) even told me to ask the Minister of Lands. "He has the answer." I'm asking you, Mr. Minister, what is the answer? How much of a subsidy have you given to the community of Burns Lake, and which you are denying to other communities in this province?
Could the Minister tell me, very simply? I must have the answer. The Minister of Housing, from his statements, I understand he said: "Ask the Minister of Lands. He has the answers." Now I want to know what kind of a subsidy was given to the community of Burns Lake, regarding its water system, that is not available to other communities in this province. If it was given to the community of Burns Lake, will there be a per capita allocation on the same basis to other municipalities of this province?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Well, Mr. Chairman, as I indicated, there was funding provided by the Department of Lands. If my memory serves me, the figures that the Member has are correct, but that's on a joint basis, both for development and part of the overall system. Nevertheless, as I indicated earlier, the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Lorimer) is seriously looking at aid systems, as is the Minister of Economic Development (Hon. Mr. Lauk) with respect to developing communities. Of course, with this kind of major effort, Burns Lake is a developing community in our province.
MR. CHABOT: Just one further question, Mr. Chairman. The Minister says, yes, there has been a subsidy given from his department, in the neighbourhood of $300,000 to $350,000, for the community of Burns Lake. I would think that this is kind of a unique situation. It's a precedent that has been established now in British Columbia. I'm wondering if the Minister could be more specific. It's not related to on-site, off-site costs, to the servicing of state-owned land in the community of Burns Lake, despite the Minister's suggestion.
Could the Minister just tell me, so that I can work it out on a per capita basis, just what kind of a subsidy it is.
AN HON. MEMBER: Is that what you're trying to do?
MR. CHABOT: Yes, the Minister of Economic Development, who is always speaking out of his seat, says to speak about my riding. Well, I will speak about my riding. I won't tell the story about the 400 workers who are unemployed in Golden because of the policies of this government over here. But I'll speak about my constituency in relationship to the kind of subsidy that was given to Burns Lake.
We have two incorporated municipalities in my constituency, the community of Invermere and the community of Golden. I think they should be entitled to the same kind of financial assistance that you have given to the community of Burns Lake.
AN HON. MEMBER: Why?
MR. CHABOT: Why? Because I don't believe that there should be preferential treatment in British Columbia t o communities that have government-oriented forestry complexes. Now if the Minister….
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I've made the point to the Hon. Minister of Economic Development that it is the custom of parliament that if an Hon. Member wishes to speak, even an interjection, it should be done from his own seat.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Are you asking for more parks in your riding?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would the Hon. Member proceed please?
MR. CHABOT: No, I'm not asking for more parks. We probably have more parks per capita than anywhere else in the world, the absolute world!
HON. MR. LAUK: Are you against parks?
MR. CHABOT: No, but I don't want my riding a
[ Page 2909 ]
park, I'll tell you. We have three national parks — Glacier National Park, Yoho National Park, Kootenay National Park, Assiniboine Class A Park, Bugaboo Class A Park….
AN HON. MEMBER: Bingo!
MR. CHABOT: Hamber Class A Park, and now we have superimposed upon our constituency the Purcell wilderness conservancy.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Right.
MR. CHABOT: But the Minister is not going to divert me from the point at hand. I am sure he is not going to attempt to do that. He won't be successful anyway.
But the point is this: the Minister has suggested there has been a subsidy to that community of Burns Lake in the neighbourhood of $300,000 to $350,000. He hasn't stated it, but I would assume it is because of the government-oriented forestry complex that is being developed there. What I want to know is just specifically what amount of subsidy has been given to that community so I can go home and tell my constituents in the communities of Golden and Invermere that they can expect assistance in the extension of water systems in their municipalities because it has been given to the community of Burns Lake. I want to be able to relate it to the per capita population of Burns Lake. I want to be able to tell those people in Golden and Invermere just how much they can expect.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Right, a Golden day is coming, Mr. Member.
MR. CHABOT: Well, could the Minister tell me specifically question No. 4?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I am not too sure. Is the Hon. Member asking for a government forest complex in his riding?
MR. CHABOT: The answer is no.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Oh, I see.
MR. CHABOT: The answer is no. I'm asking for the same kind of treatment…
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: I'll tell them in your riding.
MR. CHABOT: …in the municipalities that I represent that is being given to Burns Lake regarding subsidies to water systems. If the Minister won't give me the answer — it's only the fourth time of asking — I'll have to take an average; I'll have to take $325,000 as the figure for a subsidy and I'll have to look at the population of Burns Lake and I will have to tell the people in British Columbia as well as in my riding the kind of assistance that is being given there that is being denied to those municipalities which are facing a very severe financial problem with sewer and water extensions. We want to know: is this kind of a programme of assistance that is given to Burns Lake going to be extended to other municipalities in this province?
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: Mr. Chairman, we made it abundantly clear — and I don't know if it has to be repeated again for the Member — that the new gas revenues will open up opportunities to aid communities around the province, including the area of water utilities. Of course, new growth communities with new major industries frequently are in need of assistance. Burns Lake is one of those that has received such assistance. It is a proposition that the government will look at seriously, of course, with respect to comparable communities.
MR. SMITH: After listening to the exchange between the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources and the Hon. Member for Columbia River, I thought that I should become involved in reminding the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources that he did not invent the policy of Crown land subdivisions in the Province of British Columbia or support for communities in the Province of British Columbia. As a matter of fact, the history of the Crown in co-operation with both organized and unorganized areas of the province in developing land and subdividing that into lots and servicing it goes back a number of years, at least 10 or 12 years, Mr. Minister. So you didn't invent the plan by any stretch of the imagination. You may have enlarged upon it since you have taken office. But the plan goes back to the early days of the development of Prince George when it became a large community almost overnight.
If we can recall the situation there, it was fortunate in one respect in that Prince George was a community surrounded by a substantial amount of Crown-owned property.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: State-owned land, yes.
MR. SMITH: Crown-owned property.
HON. R.A. WILLIAMS: State land.
MR. SMITH: Property was in the name of the Crown. It was simple then to co-operate with the municipal council in Prince George to set up subdivisions to accommodate that influx.
In other communities, industry not
[ Page 2910 ]
government-owned or subsidized has done an equally creditable job. I can recall the community of Fort St. John when it first began to really experience growth pains as a result in that community, not of the forest industry but of the petroleum industry. Lo and behold, one of those nasty companies the Minister always talks about, Pacific Petroleum, without so much as one dime of government funds or without any contribution by the town of Fort St. John, put in an entire subdivision, basically for the benefit of their own employees at that time. They built 100 homes and 10 apartment blocks in a period of 18 months, completely serviced — all the streets in, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, gravel. They were not paving at that time. Completely serviced and ready to move into. As a result, they relieved what would have been a very critical housing problem in the community.
The funny thing is that those units started out as rental accommodation for their own employees. The transition that has taken place over a period of the last 20 years now finds that all of those homes are in the hands of private individuals because the company saw fit, first of all, to sell them to their own employees, and, secondly, to other people who wanted to purchase accommodation. The only difference between the price charged to their own employees and the price charged to other people was that the employees with a long record of employment received a substantial discount for the rent that they had paid to the company over the years. So it's not a new thing.
I do want to get on to another matter concerning land acquisition and land development in the Province of British Columbia, Mr. Chairman.
HON. MRS. DAILLY: I'm ready to move the committee rise at this time, if you're just getting into another matter.
MR. SMITH: Yes.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the committee reports progress and asks leave to sit again.
HON. MR. STUPICH: Last year, the Hon. Hugh Horner, when he was Minister of Agriculture in Alberta, and myself announced a joint study of the cost of protection of the creeping red fescue seed, and the problems attendant upon marketing that.
This study is now ready. With leave, I would like to table this report.
Hon. Mrs. Dailly moves adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 12:52 p.m.